Saturday, April 28, 2012

Still catching up - Cleveland Museum of Natural History - March 1, 2012

We took a trip to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History with our homeschool group back in March.  It is an incredibly cool museum and we had a good time, but I was definitely quite frazzled by the end of the day because the boys were constantly running off in opposite directions.  They are like a pair of magnets with the same polarity, repelling each other... hard.  (We are still struggling with this issue.)  It was not my strongest day patience-wise, by far, and I was disappointed with myself for that.  But I know it happens to all of us.  What can you do?  Try to do it better the next day, right?

I love this sundial near the entrance.  I've wanted to build one in my backyard for a long time, similar to this but simpler, but exactly this scale.  If anyone knows of any good DIY plans/instructions for one, please feel free to share!

My favorite part - the museum's collection of telescopes, sundials, and other miscellaneous astronomical instruments.


Look out, Mister!  That guy looks like he's about to eat you!

Love these things.  Could sit & watch it all day.

A Monkey and a T-Rex.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Happy (now quite belated) Birthday Monkeyman!

Okay, I have a bunch of posts in my drafts folder, so I'm going to make them short & sweet and power through so I can get them posted and get caught up.

So, two months ago, Monkeyman turned 6.  All I will say about his birthday is this:

We had a LEGO-themed party...

But apparently, we should have had an Angry Birds-themed party instead!

Just kidding - a good time was had by all!  We crammed many family members into our tiny house... because of limited space, Monkeyman was only allowed to invite two outside-the-family friends.  One was his longtime buddy, S., and the other was a new homeschooling friend, E.  He brought Monkey a handmade card that said "You are my best friend.  The end."  So sweet!  Totally melted my heart.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

So, I went to the Homeschool Convention...

On Saturday, I went to the big Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio.  My last post was about my mixed feelings about going, since it is a Christian - and strongly Creationist - event, and I am neither of those things.

This glossy, 8 1/2 x 11, two-page foldout brochure was included with the convention map/program I received at registration.

This photo was taken from the second floor windows looking down into the exhibit hall.  Doesn't really do it justice, though - it was much more crowded than it looks here.  It was late in the day and people were starting to pack it in by the time I took this.  It is such a huge event; they actually used double the amount of floor space in the exhibit hall than they used when I was there just three years ago.

One one hand, it was helpful that a lot of it didn't apply to me.  I'd estimate that at least 60-70% was directly related to Creationism and/or the Biblical worldview.  If so many of those booths hadn't been so easily skippable, I would never have been able to get through the whole thing in a day.  But most of the kooky ones are pretty easily marked, so I could just walk down the line going "Nope, nope, nope, don't need to go there, nope..."

On the other hand, knowing that there is such an enormous market for Creationist materials out there, walking in the midst of it all in person, did make my brain feel all itchy - it's truly disturbing to experience firsthand how many people actually believe that stuff.   I felt like a hypocrite for being there because I am so deeply opposed to Creationism and I don't want to support the cause in any way.

Friday, April 20, 2012

So, guess where I'm going tomorrow?

Disclaimer:  I will be mentioning my less-than-positive feelings about Creationism in this post.  If you are a Creationist - sorry.  I sincerely respect your right to have different beliefs from me, but I don't hold any respect for the beliefs themselves.  If you have a problem with me having differing beliefs from you, by all means feel free to skip this post.

I am going to Cincinnati.  To the ginormous Homeschooling Convention there.  The uber-fundie-Christian one.  The one I had resolved not to give my money to ever again.  What changed my mind?  Well, my Uncle - a public school teacher - has a side business and is developing some new kind of software program to help teach kids to read.  He has been picking my brain about the homeschool community lately, to ascertain if his product would be good for the homeschooling market as well.  I told him that it's probably a bigger market than he thinks and that there are LOTS of people out there, and many of us try many different things to find what works with each kid, so yeah, there probably would be some interest.  I told him he should definitely check out the convention to see what's out there, what people are charging, etc.  So he invited me to go with him - he's driving me there and paying for our registration... so technically, I am not giving them money from my own pocket... although they will still be receiving money, which does bother me.

I went to this convention 3 years ago with my mom, when my husband and I were considering the idea of homeschooling, to find out what all was "out there".  I actually really enjoyed it, and was amazed by how big it was and how many people were there.  And all of those people, and especially the kids, were so darn NICE!  There's a huge exhibit hall full of vendors of all kinds, from curriculum, to games & toys, books, funny t-shirts, etc.  And there were tons of lectures, a few of which we checked out and found to be very useful and informational, as far as learning styles, teaching methods, creative ideas, etc.  There was one lecture that was so ridiculous, though, that we had to walk out of it.  I can't even remember what it was, but I remember realizing after sitting there that it wasn't simply an informational lecture but a sales pitch, and the guy still hadn't gotten around to telling us exactly what his product was - just that it was *so* amazing. 

Anyways, I considered it a pretty good experience overall, except for one thing:  Creationism.  It was everywhere.  Until I attended that convention, I honestly had no idea that it had such a large following.  I was blown away.  Nearly every science curriculum was Bible-based, and nearly every history curriculum began with Adam and Eve.  I remember shushing my mom, when she exclaimed loudly and sarcastically, "Oh yeah!  Let's start our history program with mythological characters!" and chuckled.  (And she's a Christian!)  It is definitely a very fundamentalist Christian event, barely inclusive of any other ideologies.  Which quite obviously makes me uncomfortable.  I'll definitely have to work extra hard to bite my tongue throughout the day, although there is a small part of me that thinks it would be interesting to show up in a t-shirt with an "A" on it or a photo of Darwin with a heart around it or something.  But non-confrontational me would never do that, and it would really serve no purpose.

Each year since, I've thought about going again, just for all of the good stuff that's there - because there *was* quite a bit of good stuff - but just couldn't bring myself to shell out any more money to help further their cause.  But my Uncle asked and I said yes, and now I need to get myself to bed so I can get up early for the long drive.  It'll be nice to spend some time with him and I'm sure we'll have some interesting chats on the way there & back.  Also, I'm sure it will give me plenty to write about here... so wish me luck!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Einstein, Newton, Darwin, Curie, and Tesla

I have so much stuff I want to write about, and just haven't been able to line up the time/energy to do it.  Will catch up soon, I promise!  Until then, here's a quickie for ya.

Ok, so I finally broke down and bought these awesome scientist action figures (from the Little Giants series by Jailbreak Collective Toys).  Little Bug has not only memorized their names, but also loves messing with me when I ask him who's who...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Playground Interaction Observations

I witnessed something at the park yesterday that really bothered me, and I can't seem to quit thinking about it.  We make a spur-of-the-moment trip to the playground, and it ended up being rather crowded because in our area, it's spring break for the public school kids.  (I forgot about this.)  There was a group of boys, probably around 8 to 10 years old, who were picking on a girl of about the same age.  Now, this beautiful little girl appeared to be of mixed race, and was the only child of color on the playground at the time - probably not an unusual situation for her, as the area is predominantly white.  At first, I noticed one boy who was yelling at her, "You're pretty!" and I thought - how sweet, he has a crush on her.  But as I watched, he just kept following her around and repeating it and his tone actually seemed more mocking than sincere.  A bit later, I noticed the boys chasing her around, and sometimes she would be chasing them.  I heard one boy call her dumb, and our friend P. who came with us, also heard one of them call her an idiot.  It was clear that it was upsetting to her.  I was only catching bits & pieces of the interaction because I was busy chasing my 2-year-old around the whole time.  I really began to feel compelled to say something, but I am shy and generally tend to avoid conflict, and wasn't sure what to say.  I know that I would probably not take kindly to strangers reprimanding my kids... but I didn't know where the parents of these boys were, either.  No one seemed to be paying attention to them.

That part, though, wasn't even the most upsetting thing.  What really bothered me, was an interaction between this girl and a woman who I presume must have been her (white) grandmother.  Grandma was sternly reprimanding the girl for her reaction to their taunting, and her chasing them around.  "STOP IT!  YOU STOP THAT RIGHT NOW!  Stop chasing those boys!"  I heard the girl plaintively defending herself, saying "But they were [doing such-and-such] and calling me [list of names]..."  Grandma's tone was completely harsh and unsympathetic as she virtually spit these words at the girl, "Remember, sticks and stones will break your bones but names will never hurt you.  Come on, we're leaving."

I know that kids can be jerks.  I know how it works - they are just trying to fit in, in the Lord of the Flies-like setting of their public-schooled world, and I know kids have a tendency to single out those who are different.  But for an adult to be so cold and so completely lacking in empathy... I was speechless.  Perhaps her intent was to help the girl develop a thicker skin...?  Maybe she, too, was angry at those kids' behavior and didn't realize how she was coming across to her granddaughter.  But to reprimand a kid for reacting to being picked on seemed incredibly insensitive to me.  I am still kicking myself for not saying anything.  I wanted to say to the girl, "I heard those kids.  I heard how they were talking to you, and it wasn't right.  You don't deserve to be treated like that.  You're beautiful.  Ignore them."  I really wish I had said that, now.

Afterward, I did do one thing.  I asked Monkeyman and P. if they had noticed how those boys were talking to that girl.  Both said yes, and P. had even noticed more mean comments than I had.  I said to them, "I better never, never, ever, EVER hear you talking to a girl like that... or any other kid, for that matter."  And Monkeyman replied, "I know!  I wouldn't do that, Mom!"  We talked about it a little more and he confirmed that he knew that would hurt someone's feelings and that it was wrong.  So I guess I have to be content with taking ownership of raising my kids to be kind and thoughtful people as the best course of action.  I know I have no control over the behavior of others - however, I can try my very hardest to raise my kids to offer better examples.

Funny Stuff

For those who are easily offended - move along, nothing to see here...

This is a response to this post by Leanna from Life on the Hill, who wrote about holding back on posting on Facebook, all of the funny atheist stuff she comes across.  I often hold back posting things too, out of fear of offending anyone.  But this blog is where I get to share what I want, so here are a couple of my favorites for you, Leanna - enjoy!  :)

I've seen this passage all over the place, but this particular image came from a poster on

From a t-shirt on  Want!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Still catching up - Great Lakes Science Center - February 21, 2012

In February, we visited the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland with a group of homeschoolers.  I didn't get nearly as many pics as I would have liked, but a couple other moms have graciously permitted me to share a few of their pics, so this post is a mishmosh of pics from all 3 of us.

Probably Monkeyman's favorite part of the museum.  He rode up and down the escalator many, many times.  Photo credit:  Dara B.

Here he is posing in front of actual used space suits.  (I forget whose they were, but I think at least one was John Glenn's.)  The Great Lakes Science Center is also the new official site of the NASA Glenn Visitor Center, so there are lots of very cool NASA artifacts.  Sorry I didn't get pics of more of them!

The kids had an absolute blast playing in the ball pit in the huge play area, and worked together as a team to fill the overhead dump bucket.  Here they are stuffing the balls into an air cannon.  Unfortunately, the dump release was broken, but one of the dads climbed up and pulled the cable by hand several times, much to the joy and delight of the kids.  Photo credit:  Dara B.
Photo credit:  Michelle B.

Oh, those poor unsocialized homeschoolers.  They never have any fun.  Photo credit:  Michelle B.
Here they are working together to fill buckets on a conveyor belt, and hand-cranking it to raise and dump them.  These kids were like a well-oiled machine, I tell ya!  Photo credit:  Dara B.



Bug was pretty much in his own happy little world in the ball pit.  He would climb onto the edge, which was about chest-height for him, and fearlessly leap in.  Photo credit:  Dara B.

Here's Bug looking out the window at the steamship William G. Mather in the harbor.  One of these days we will take a tour of it...

This is my favorite part of the museum.  It's kind of hard to see in this pic, but there is a tornado there.  There's mist being blown by a fan, and you can wave your hand through the tornado and watch it dissipate and then re-form.  So cool.
The view of the museum's wind turbine and downtown Cleveland, taken on our way out.