Sunday, February 19, 2012

Like mother, like child

I woke up and started the coffee, like I do every morning. While I was waiting for the coffee, I decided to find a snack. I reached into the fridge to retrieve a jar of That Green Sauce. My next move was to grab a bag of chips – not just any chips – SCOOPS.

Scoops are my favorite tortilla chips because they serve as mini edible bowls for my other favorite food -- green sauce. My tummy was rejoicing but then I heard a little voice ask, “Is this the smart thing to do? Isn't there a healthier choice?”

When that little voice nags at me, I usually answer it with, “Who cares!?” This time, however, I thought about how I haven’t been able to button my jeans, even though I have been working out. When I mention my exercise program, people look at my waist and ask me, “YOU …do P90X?” “Yes,” I confess, “once every week or two.”

Thinking about how I haven’t been able to button my jeans, even though I work out regularly, I reluctantly put the jar back into the fridge. I was shocked at myself for minding by better judgment. My tummy was sad, but I made myself a bowl of Old Fashioned Oats flavored with peanut butter, local honey, pecans, and cinnamon. I ate it, and I felt really good about myself for making a better choice and not just “all of the above.”

About that time, my ten year old walked into the kitchen. He opened the refrigerator and grabbed the jar of That Green Sauce. I wondered if he had an inner voice. As he grabbed the bag of Scoops and began to fill one with green sauce, I decided to intervene. “I was about to eat That Green Sauce for breakfast, but I figured it wasn’t the healthiest choice. I had a bowl of oatmeal, instead."

He ignored my voice and kept filling up chips with green sauce.

"I figured that chips wouldn't help me level up. So I made myself a healthy bowl of oatmeal."


"A healthy breakfast should act as a shield of protection around my health. I’m getting health points.”

“Do you mean stamina?”


“OK. Make me a bowl.”

Even though he had chosen “all of the above” I was glad that he had an inner voice. It’s my voice, for now, and it’s on the outside of him, but I’m hoping that one day he will replay it in his mind when making a decision.

I hope that the words I use around my children, the words that will become a part of their internal dialogue, are positive and encouraging rather than the types of words that would replay in their minds and torment them long after I am gone.

I find it interesting that he and I have the same food cravings. We love spicy foods! Did I tell you that he will eat Blazin' wings at Buffalo Wild Wings?

Do you think that we develop these food preferences before we are born? Taste: Like Mother Like Child - "Infants learn what foods are safe by flavor cues in the amniotic fluid and mother's milk..." (I found that link when looking up whether or not I should use a comma up there in my title.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"What if God is The Big Bang?"

Happy Valentine's Day!

The Heart Nebula:

Speaking of love, my ten year old, Christian, has developed a fascination with Astronomy. He recently completed all the episodes of "How the Universe Works" on Netflix. He asked so many questions during each episode, usually answered by the host as his question was being voiced, that I had to pause the show to let him verbally brainstorm. You know that a kid is passionate about a topic when they interrupt (isn’t that an insulting word to use in this context?) with questions and thoughts. "Interruption" is a good sign!

After we had finished viewing the available programs, he was hungry for more. We looked through other shows and documentaries on the topic of Astronomy. While browsing, his interests almost departed distant galaxies to return to earth to spend time with dinosaurs, but he settled on an episode of NOVA’s "Where Did We Come From" hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. (I love Neil deGrasse Tyson. He said something in an interview that has really stuck with me, something which had the impact of "roach explaining the internet.")

It just so happened that after we watched the first episode, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye were at the White House taking questions about science. I asked Christian what he would want to ask Neil deGrasse Tyson, and he said, “What if God is The Big Bang?”

I am sorry to admit that I was scared. I still am.

I’m scared that some adults would see that question and respond from a place of “Uh oh, this child believes in a creator” or “Uh oh, this child believes in the Big Bang.” I don’t trust adults who have a spit back answer to every question that is asked or adults who believe they have it all figured out. We don’t. I’m scared that some adults don’t have the bravery or honesty to admit with genuineness, “I am not sure, but those are interesting thoughts.” I think it’s important for a child to have a sense of wonder. I don't want him to wait until the program or lecture is over to ask questions. I don't want his curiosity to be discouraged.

We went from learning about Fibonacci numbers and The Golden Ratio to watching shows about pulsars, quasars, black holes, galaxies, planets, moons, dark matter, white dwarfs, red giants… You can imagine my excitement (because of the visual connection) when I stumbled onto this image:

Christian’s favorite painting has always been Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night. One of NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day featured an altered image of Starry Night, A Starry Night Scavenger Hunt :

He has asked for a telescope for Christmas or for his birthday. I hope that his new found love isn't like a Hollywood romance and I hope that he stays curious!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

"The Tebow Bill" and Local Homeschool Sports

Tim Tebow, quarterback for the Denver Broncos, was homeschooled while he was the star of his local public school football team. In Florida, where he played high school football, home-educated students are allowed to participate in public school activities. Some states even allow home-educated students to pick and choose courses from their local public schools.

Though homeschooling is legal in all fifty states, only a dozen states allow homeschooled students to participate in public school activities. There is a bill named after Tim Tebow which would allow home-educated students in Virginia to participate in public school sports. Read more about “The Tebow Bill.”

In Texas, there are no laws addressing equal access. It would be the choice of an individual district whether or not a home-educated child would be allowed to participate.

The local homeschool community has a competitive homeschool sports program. The Victoria Cobras compete against local public and private schools for practice. Though they have a fledgling football program, the Victoria Cobra Athletics recently hosted The 13th Annual VCA Homeschool Basketball Tournament. Several homeschool teams from around the state came to Victoria, Texas, to compete over several days. Watch the news report:

There are also tournaments at the state and national levels for homeschool teams. The Victoria Cobras will travel to Frisco, Texas, for the Texas HomeSchool State Basketball Championships on February 24-26th, and then to Springfield, Missouri, for the 21st Annual National Christian HomeSchool Basketball Championships on March 19-24th.

I’ll try to post updates from Dallas and Missouri. ;)

Some homeschool families feel that since they pay the same amount of taxes, they should have the same amount of access to public schools. Other homeschoolers disagree, and wouldn't want to risk giving up their educational freedom.

What do you think about home-educated students participating in public school activities?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fibonacci Numbers, Triskaidekaphobia, and the Mayan Calendar

Yesterday, we watched a lecture from "The Joy of Thinking: The Beauty and Power of Classical Mathematical Ideas" on Fibonacci numbers. Fibonacci numbers, or nature’s numbers, are numbers that are created by adding together the two previous numbers in the series starting with 1 and 1: The sum of one and one is two, one plus two is three, two plus three is five, three plus five is eight… The Fibonacci sequence is 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89,144…

Anyway, the lecture was really interesting and Professor Edward B. Burger, Ph.D., explained how these numbers were revealed in nature. He demonstrated this by counting the seed-spirals of a sunflower, the tiny floret-spirals in the face of the daisy, and the spirals created by the bumps on the exterior of a pineapple and pine cone. Counting the clockwise spirals and then counting the counter-clockwise spirals gave us different numbers, but all of those numbers were Fibonacci numbers.

Vi Hart has a wonderful doodle video, "Doodling in Math: Spirals, Fibonacci, and Being a Plant [1 of 3]" demonstrating this in a much more entertaining and visual way:

The next lectures in our The Joy of Thinking course will continue on with Fibonacci numbers, the Golden Triangle and the Golden Ratio, so I probably should have waited until we watched those lectures to share this information with you, but I couldn’t resist. The lecture inspired me to look for these patterns in nature, but I was noticing them this morning as I prepared breakfast in my kitchen. As I cut open an apple, I noticed five seed sections that created a five pointed star, and I counted eight sections in the orange, and three seed-sections in a banana. Hey, we are a family of five! I guess we are a Fibonacci family. (Well, we are a household of four now that one has moved away to college, but I will be taking him ONE box of goodies THIS week-end.)

Anyway, the Fibonacci numbers got me thinking of this Friday the thirteenth. I was thinking how silly it would be to suffer from triskaidekaphobia, because not only is the number 13 a beautiful prime and sexy Fibonacci number, but the Mayans believed the number thirteen to be sacred.

This Friday 13th has Fibonacci all over it. Friday is the 5th (work) day of the week, the 13th day of the first (numero uno) month in our calendar year, a year whose digits add up to five… January is the first month of the year after our calendar rolled over to begin the new year, much like the Mayan calendar might simply roll over and start anew on December 12, 2012. End of World in 2012? Maya "Doomsday" Calendar Explained

Do we fear the world will end each New Year ’s Eve?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Jolly Rancher Vodka (gift idea)

Speaking of trying to be more healthy...

I am made a few batches of Jolly Rancher Vodka for a few of our lucky friends and family members.

Of course, my batch doesn't look that fancy because I used the small 12 oz. mason jars. I added about 20 Jolly Ranchers to each jar, so we will see if my guessculation was accurate:

For directions on how to make your own Jolly Rancher Vodka and other fun infusions, visit and browse Mix that Drink's website: Jolly Rancher Vodka Tutorial.

If our attempts fail and for some reason we are embarrassed to give away our Jolly Rancher Vodka as gifts, I hope to have a girls' night out where we dispose of it all appropriately. =P

...I'm sure I am secretly making a few jars for me and hubby. ;) ;) ;)

Jump Start on New Year's Resolution

I thought that I had decided on a New Year's Resolution. A few family members and I had toyed with the idea of taking "The Vegan Challenge.” The Vegan Challenge is to eat vegan for a whole month. No meat. No eggs. No milk. No cheese. No YUM!

A New Year's Resolution that would only last one month? Sounded good.

The Vegan Challenge - the new year - would start off with a trip out of town to a store that I have never heard of in search of products and brands that have never resided in my pantry.

With a picky family of five, I decided that going vegan, even for one month, would be too much of a challenge for me THIS YEAR.

I searched for a NEW New Year’s Resolution. I found a site that shared one fam's challenge to eat non-processed foods for one-hundred days, 100 Days of Real Food. This site has a Facebook page where fans can take the ten day pledge. Ten days? That's less than one month! I figured I could do that before the New Year! It’s never too early to eat healthy, right?

The Facebook page featured a yummy looking breakfast/brunch recipe, Whole-Wheat Crepes. No special trips for this recipe or challenge. All of the ingredients were familiar.

Avoiding processed foods for ten days is still challenging, but much easier than totally going vegan for a whole month. Baby-steps…

I announced to my house that we would eat a healthy breakfast. I explained the benefits of avoiding processed foods. I decided to make crepes to prove how delicious healthy can be.

There was one moan.

I opened my refrigerator to retrieve the milk and eggs to prepare our healthy breakfast when I found a surprise. Hubby had picked up McDonald’s on his way home from working nights.

One person was ecstatic.

The End

Additional Thoughts: I think it would be very hard to be vegan in America. Most of our food products contain ingredients derived from animals, even foods you wouldn’t suspect. For example, marshmallows are not vegan friendly. You would think that an innocent white-as-snow marshmallow would be safe for everyone, including vegans, but the common popular brands use some type of ingredient derived from PIGs. “The squishy parts” as a Facebook friend explained it. This renders marshmallows not only off limits for vegans, but off limits to people trying to eat kosher or vegetarian!

I haven't given up on Veganism. I am thinking of adding a Vegan Night, right along with Italian Night or Mexican Night. I will have to plan Vegan Night for the evenings when hubby is working nights.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Fireworks in Port O'Connor July 2, 2011

Yesterday, we went to my grandpa's beach house in Port O'Connor to watch POC's annual Independence Day fireworks display. I took three gallons of Red Diamond sweet tea and two huge watermelons. My Grandma-Ethel had already purchased two gallons of Red Diamond ice tea, so the sweet tea tooth must run in the family!

Many interesting conversations took place last night. My grandpa told us the many ways to test a watermelon to determine sweetness. They were all new to me. He even told us that if you pick a watermelon and place the stem in sugar water, the watermelon will absorb the liquid and will taste extra sweet! Since I pick my watermelon from the big box in HEB, I have to use my favorite technique: I play the watermelon like a drum and if it sounds hollow, I will purchase it.

Another topic of conversation was reincarnation. I explained to one of my cousins that our most recent pet tragedy prompted me to share the concept of reincarnation with my nine year old. "Reincarnation is the belief that even when a body dies, the spirit continues to live. When a spirit leaves the body, it goes into another body. In fact, if we go to the pet store and buy another hamster, there is a small chance that..." My cousin immediately took the baton and finished my thought, "...the hamster you buy will be the same hamster as the one that died!"


Anyway, we sat out on the porch talking and eating hotdogs and drinking tea until the sun went down. Then we walked to the beach and found a place to sit so that we could get a better view of the fireworks.

After the city's display was over, the people in the beach houses started their own shows! There was screaming and smoke...

As we were leaving, we got to see people being arrested. Everyone must have had a good time!

Anyway, here is a short clip of the end of the POC fireworks display:

I still have two huge watermelons. Where to go?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Another boring post.

Yesterday, the whole family worked on the landscaping around this house. We are thinking that we might just stay here, but we are going to fix this house up the way we like it and not wait until we are putting it on the market. That was the mistake we made with the Tanglewood house. When we put the Tanglewood house up for sale, we finally did all the updates and improvements that we had put off for the ten plus years we had lived there. The things we wouldn't do for ourselves. We tiled the floors, replaced the gold double ovens with stainless steel double ovens, changed out all the kitchen appliances, replaced the gold kitchen counter-tops with tile, and even put texture and fresh paint over the walls that still had paneling. Wait, there's more! We replaced the shop doors, re-textured the entryway, replaced light fixtures, and even - REPAINTED THE OUTSIDE OF THE HOUSE! Let's just say that I didn't want to leave after that.

The one thing we DID do for ourselves while we were there was gut and update the master bath. It had the fanciest 12 x 12 tiled shower in town! Unfortunately, it had the fanciest tiled LEAKY shower, and we fixed that before we left too. We also let the kids pick out the paint color for their rooms and we had to paint over that. I don't know who would want a house with crazy room colors. One bedroom had two walls painted red and two walls painted blue and another bedroom had two walls painted purple and two walls painted green. That's what you get when kids pick the color: indecision. My room was painted orange - UT orange - and we painted over that, too. I miss my orange room! When my reading lamp was on I felt I was surrounded by soft candlelight.

While hubby and I were doing yard work, we found a doggie septic system in our back yard. Yeah. I didn't know that such a thing existed.