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?