Monday, August 25, 2008

First Day of School, Our Style

Hooray! The first day of school!

The kids and I took a hike up Ensign Peak today. Unfortunately Jamie had to head to Wyoming for a few days and we missed him being with us, but we still made it up the hill and enjoyed the hike. I've got more object lessons from this one hike than I'll be able to use up for quite a while. One biggie I didn't even think of till we got home, "in the world, but not of the world."

While we were up there we talked about vision, mission, and goals.

We talked about the vision the men had that originally climbed there to lay out a city, and how we need to have the same kind of vision in our own lives. We talked about having a vision for our family, and looking down at the temple we talked about how we want to all be there together as a family someday.

We talked about how each of us have a mission, and that everything we do and everything we learn helps us to get closer to learning what our mission is and makes us better to accomplish it (D&C 88:77-80).

We talked about how we had the goal to make it to the top of the mountain, and even though it got hard, and sometimes people even got scared (Sammy thought he saw a snake), we helped each other, pushed on, and MADE IT. Goals can feel the same way - hard, sometimes scary, but if we keep at them we'll be all the better for it. Over the next few days we'll be laying out some of our goals for this year.

We talked about some 'schoolish' things too through it all, like erosion and wildlife (on the way down the trail Melanie said, "It's sure nice they put all this nature here!" I let her know the nature was there before the people, LOL!) and of course Utah history. We're looking to visit the capitol and council hall sometime soon.

When we got back down the hill we decided to go to the Pioneer Museum and saw a lot of great things there as well. The kids really liked seeing tangible objects that belonged to people and prophets they've learned about, including the wagon Brigham Young rode into the Salt Lake valley on. Melanie made me take a picture of the two-headed lamb, but I am so not posting that here.

Just the beginning of a great year.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Shining Eyes

Thought for the day...

Besides a variety of other credentials, Benjamin Zander was the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra for 28 seasons, beginning in 1979. At one point he realized that the conductor doesn't make a sound, "he depends for his power on his ability to make other people powerful... My job was to awaken possibility in other people. And of course I wanted to find out if I was doing that. And you know how you find out? Look at their eyes. If their eyes are shining, you know you're doing it. If the eyes are not shining you get to ask a question - who am I being, that my players' eyes are not shining? We can do that with our children too. Who am I being that my children's eyes are not shining? That's a totally different world... Success is not about wealth and fame and power, it's about how many shining eyes I have around me."

A powerful measuring stick. The eyes are windows to the soul.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

With All Eyes on Michael Phelps... can't help but see what a great woman his mom is, too. Don't you just want to give her a hug? You can tell what a wonderful, supportive family they are by watching them both.

I just read about this blog post called "Give That Mom a Medal" and wanted to pass it on.

Here's another from the NY Times on "Helping Her Son Find Gold."

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Power of Play

This afternoon I (don't be surprised) watched a talk by Freeman Dyson on looking for life in the outer solar system. Before he dives into that topic he shares a few thoughts on history and then on biotechnology. He makes the statement, "As soon as computers became toys, when kids could come home and play with them, then the industry really took off." Freeman said only half jokingly that that's what they need to do with biotechnology.

I think it's key that Freeman didn't say that when schools started teaching computers they took off. When they became exciting and fun, maybe even a little off limits at times, computers took off.

Play is a powerful way to learn! I try to use playing as much as I can here at home with the kids. Melanie learned most of her math skills last year sitting next to me at the counter adding up 6 and 12 sided dice while I was working on something else. Carolyn learned all her letters in about the same way, sitting next to me at the counter where she had climbed up to talk or color while I was doing something, and I would ask, "Do you know what this letter is?" and draw it out for her. I would quit after just a few so she wouldn't get bored. After the first few were introduced, most letters were pointed out while we were cuddled up reading.

I helped Adam create a blog for himself because he wanted to write about baseball and whever else he felt like writing about. I jumped at the chance thinking, "Ah ha! Typing and writing practice!" He's had it for several months and hasn't written too much, but I just helped his friend create one too, so maybe that will get a little blog competition going.

Sammy has played with animating his Legos a bit using my camera to take the pictures then scrolling through them, but this week he went to town and has done some really cool things. To take that further, now I plan to learn about Stop-Motion Animation so we can take all these pictures from the camera and make something with them. He doesn't know that's the plan because I don't want to get him too excited until I know we can do it, but he asked about starting his own blog to show off some of his Lego creations and animations so we did it earlier today.

The kids are also teaching themselves to play the piano. Melanie used to tinker all the time on it, till one day she played a few notes and realized they were the same notes in a primary song. I helped her figure out the rest, then after she got that down, showed her some simple left hand notes to go with it. Now she plays parts of 4 or 5 songs, one that she figured out the left hand entirely on her own. Jamie got Sammy started on the Indiana Jones theme. Adam hasn't jumped on the bandwagon... yet.

Play is probably why I'm so excited to really get back to school this year. We just keep having more and more fun! Did I mention I plan on hiking the kids to Ensign Peak for the first day back to school?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It Just Feels Right

There's something very comforting about having homemade chocolate chip cookie dough in the fridge, ready and waiting to be eaten.

Monday, August 4, 2008 - The World is Bigger Than I Thought

All of the talks have expanded my mind and made me see that there is more to this world than I could have ever dreamed. Here are my favorites in that category.

Alisa Miller - This talks shows specifically why our world may seem so small to us. It's something I've thought about before as Jamie flips between the three 10 o'clock news channels here saying things like, "Why do they always put the same stories on at the same time?" and "Don't care... (click) Don't care..." My jaw literally dropped when she shows the second map, and again when she showed what happens to that map when they take out the one story (one stupid, ridiculous, insignificant, do people really care about that story). When I get finished playing on so much I plan on seeking out more international news.

I'll be adding more world stretchers here. - There's a Lesson in That

I feel these talks really have a great lesson to 'take home,' so to speak. The quotes I posted are points I really liked.

A.J. Jacobs on his year of Living Biblically:
"I couldn't believe how my behavior changed my thoughts... I almost pretended to be a better person, and I became a little bit of a better person." (abt. 6:25 in the talk)

Karen Armstrong on Compassion and the Golden Rule:
"You behave in a committed way, and then you begin to understand the truths of religion." (abt. 4:25, amazing how well that goes with the A.J. Jacobs' quote)
"In compassion... we dethrone ourselves from the center of our world and we put another person there. And once we get rid of ego, then we are ready to see the divine." (abt. 5:30)

Billy Graham on Technology, Faith, and Human Shortcomings - Towards the end of the 1998 conference, Graham asks the question, with all the great advances of our day, going to the depths of the ocean and far out into space, why can't stop the wickedness of man?

Nicholas Negropronte does great things with computers when he looks at chidren as a mission, not a market. He quotes Seymour? in 1968 about teaching children thinking, "Kids who write computer programs understand things differently, and when they debug the programs they come the closest to learning about learning." Thanks Dad for making me to learn programming when I was just a kid. :)

I'll be adding more. - Ordinary People, Extraordinary Things

This set of talks are some of my very favorites. The speakers aren't brainiacs that grew up digging fossils with their parents in Africa. They aren't masterminds of math and science performing experiments that cost millions and millions of dollars. They haven't been taking music lessons since they were 4 years old. They are "ordinary" people doing extraordinary things. They took an idea and ran with it. They saw something that needed to change and worked to make it happen.

Dave Eggers - This talk is absolutely inspiring to me, probably one of my top 3 favorites so far. Eggers saw a need and not only helped to fix it, but he did it in a really cool, really creative way (I had to force myself to not give it away). And he's really fun to watch talk about it. But not only did he help others do the same thing, he started the site where people can post their ideas to help local public schools, or just read about things others have done already to help. You can also go to the Pirate Supply Store website (though you have to watch to see what that's all about). Do not miss the Gallery of Signs.

Jonathan Harris - We all know that everyone has their own hopes and desires. Harris goes out and finds out what they are, both literally, and computerally (thank you, another word I just invented). This talk makes me want to type "I feel..." in every post now, but I would feel like a fame seeker or something if I did that. Watch the talk to see why, then visit

Rick Smolan telling the story of Natasha, an Amerasian from Korea. Just beautiful.

I'll keep adding... Addict

Hi, my name is Marni, and I am a addict.

I had watched some of the videos here and there, but while Jamie was out of town last week I realized how I can watch them while I work on bracelet orders, and make boring chores like folding laundry and doing the dishes more exciting (the laptop fits on our windowsill, sweet!).

I've been working on some posts to list some favorites or those that speak to me (I think I will post those today and keep adding the more I watch), but I must say that every talk I've watched has been interesting and educational.

A brief intro about TED: "TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader.

"The annual conference now brings together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).

"This site makes the best talks and performances from TED available to the public, for free. More than 200 talks from our archive are now available, with more added each week. These videos are released under a Creative Commons license, so they can be freely shared and reposted."

Isn't that nice? FREE!

Some of the talks have expounded on questions I've wondered about. Some have made me want to be better. Some have made me wonder if I could do something similar. Some have amazed me at the medical advances and technology being worked on. Some have introduced me to ideas I never would have imagined.

It's making my world bigger.

"If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."

It's a good addiction.