Monday, October 15, 2012

TEDx talk: What if We Trusted You? (Jerry Michalski)

When people we care about (there are plenty whose opinions we don't care about!) are confused by, or even blatantly disapproving of, our educational choices, I wish I could get them to sit down and watch this video.  Explaining why we do what we do is so complicated, and this video does an amazing job of it.  It's also a good pep talk for those of us who occasionally need a bit of encouragement, to remind us why we've chosen the path we've chosen.  Brilliant.

As a bonus, here's another favorite of mine.  I've shared it here before, but I'm sharing again, for anyone who may not have seen it.

Feel free to direct your next critic to this post, and refuse to discuss the issue further until they have watched both videos.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Luray Caverns, Virginia

 When planning our trip to the Outer Banks, I had noticed that the Luray Caverns in Virginia were not very far off our route, so we planned a slight detour to check them out.  For some reason, I've always wanted to experience being in a huge underground cavern, and I thought the kids would dig it, too.  The husband was not as excited about the idea but he's a good sport and went along with the plan.  (He ended up thinking it was pretty cool and not as claustrophobic or scary as he'd expected.)  The caverns were beautiful and fascinating.  The tour is an hour long and the route is 1.25 miles over a wide, well-maintained brick walkway.  The tour guide told us the history of the caverns and pointed out interesting formations as we walked along.  (He also said, "Be sure to stay with your tour group. The lights are on a timer and will turn off after we pass through. You do NOT want to be left alone in the dark!")  Admission was a little pricey but also included the Car and Carriage Caravan Museum (which we visited) and the Luray Valley Museum (which we did not have time for).  There was also a really amazing looking hedge maze (note: separate admission fee) that we wish we'd have had time for as well.  It was very challenging to get decent photos in the caverns - they were lit beautifully and it didn't feel too dark or creepy when walking through them, but when taking pictures with the flash, items in the foreground would be too-brightly lit, and things in the background were too dark to show up at all.  With the flash off, the colors and formations were more visible but it was harder to get clear photos in the low light.  These are the best we got.

The stairs that take you down into the caverns.  The white sign with the black cross marks the point where the original discoverers of the caverns first entered them, through a sinkhole.

The first formation you see, at the bottom of the stairs.


Stalactites and stalagmites... or as Bug later said, "That cave had TEETH!"

Daddy pointing something out to Monkey.

One of my favorite parts of the caverns - this is Dream Lake.  It is perfectly still and presents a beautiful mirror reflection of the ceiling.

Bug got tired of walking about halfway through the tour and wanted me to carry him.  He was feeling a bit camera shy too.

Looking down onto a lower section of the path from a higher section of the path.  Kind of gives you a bit of an idea of the scale of the place.

Saracen's tent


Double Column in the Giant's Hall - 47 feet tall.  If I remember right, this is where the tour guide said we were at the deepest point in the caverns - 164 feet underground.


Even though this pic is pretty blurry, you can get a sense of the size of the space by noticing the little people at the bottom of the image.  They actually hold weddings in there!

Fried eggs formation. 

Wishing Well.  They clean it out every so often and donate the money to charity.  The board on the wall details how much was given in various years, and to which organizations.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Pinterest-Inspired Post

So, I haven't posted here in ages because I've been fairly consumed by the preparation for, and the taking of, our trip to the Outer Banks.  It was my kids' first time seeing the ocean, and it was amazing.  I will be making a series of posts about that in the days ahead.  But first, during the preparation stage, I wanted to share a few Pinterest-inspired ideas that helped make the trip easier and more fun.  (If you are not already on Pinterest, you should go sign up now.  All that stuff you've been hearing about it is not just hype - it will seriously change your life.  Go now, I'll wait.)

Okay, first is this excellent universal packing list.  It was very useful and it did actually help me remember several things that I would have otherwise forgotten.

Next is this "Are we there yet?" progress bar.  The original idea called for some string or a ribbon strung across the inside of the car and used a clothespin, but I used an adhesive road tape similar to this one instead, with a car that I cut out with my Cricut machine and laminated, then stuck it on the road with a rolled up piece of packing tape on the back.  I moved the car along the road as we traveled, so the boys could see how far we'd gone and how far we had to go.  I used it on the way back home too.  It definitely helped put the distance in perspective for them.

Another Pinterest idea I used was to make these super simple tray tables for the kids out of $5 cookie sheets from Walmart and some velcro (illustrated instructions can be found here).  The boys really dug them, but I must offer a disclaimer:  when they get tired of them and take them off and drop them onto the floor, they make such a loud bang that you will think another car has crashed into yours and you will have a mini heart attack.  Every. Single. Time.  But they were perfect for eating, coloring, magnet play, etc.

Finally, I used this idea to make little goody bags to pass out every so often as we traveled.  I filled them with simple things like a hot wheels car, a magic ink coloring pad, a prism, etc.  The original pin said,  "To keep the kids happy in the car, create mystery bags to be given to them about each hour or two. They get a map with each city marked, and they have to follow the route and ask for the bag when we get to that city. Bags are filled with snacks and small toys and games."  I didn't do the map part, I just gave them one whenever they were getting cranky or overly wound up; I would just announce, "Guess what time it is?!" and they would gleefully reply, "Time to choose another bag! Yaay!" and peace would be restored. 

And since I am sharing Pinterest ideas, here is a BONUS tutorial I'd like to share on how to make the perfect wedding gift for your bestie.  I was so thrilled with how these turned out...

Step 1.  Stalk your friend's Pinterest boards looking for ideas.
Step 2.  Find this pin on etching glass to add personalization.
Step 3.  Pore over friend's wedding registry looking for glass items; choose pretty champagne glasses.
Step 4.  Quick trip to Joann and Hobby Lobby to get supplies.
Step 5.  Use Cricut machine to cut out designs on adhesive vinyl and adhere to glass.  (Borrow perfect font cartridge from your fabulous sister-in-law if necessary.)

Step 6.  Paint on the etching cream and cross fingers.
Step 7.  Wait 20 minutes; rinse off cream and remove vinyl; wash well.
Step 8.  Enjoy the awesomeness!  Can you tell I'm quite pleased with myself?

And BONUS #2, did you know that you could make something so pretty out of toilet paper rolls?!