Traffic Jam with the Kids

On Sunday, the boys and I were driving home from Aspen to Denver. After a winter of weekend ski lessons, we are used to the hour traffic jam caused by accidents or winter weather. We even sat one Friday on the mountain highway, closed for hours due to a police chase and shooting.

So leave it to the authorities to conduct unexpected tunnel blasting in July. Another “hour plus” delay. Importantly in our car, another “hour plus” before the kids would see the dog.

I expected a disaster of bad moods, whining and bathroom breaks. Instead, my ten year old rolled down the window and shouted at our fellow travelers.

“I hate this! Drive, people!”

When that elicited minor laughter from his brothers, “Santa, where are you! Save us!”

More laughter.

“Where is the Easter Bunny when you need him? EATER BUNNY!!!!”

What would the Easter Bunny do?

Followed by chanting, “WE HATE THIS! HEY! WE HATE THIS! HEY!”

Grateful for laughing kids in bumper-to-bumper traffic, I had to join them. “NOT AS MUCH AS ME! NOT AS MIUCH AS ME!”

And so it went, interspersed with shouts for the Easter Bunny, until we detoured past the tunnel and picked up speed.

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How Critical is STEM Education to the Next Generation Workforce?

Just thought I would share one of my more intellectual pieces just published on Edudemic, a great website for educators.

http://www.edudemic.com/stem-future-of-education/

The Joy of Learning with Your Kids

Most of the time, as parents, we encourage our children to do things we already know how to do. We help them with homework we did ourselves many years ago. If we are baseball fans, we sign them up for a team and smile when they first put on their uniform. If we play the piano, we help them read the notes as they learn an instrument. If we are multilingual, they learn a second language at home. If we like to read, they read along with us.

Our kids also discover their own unique talents as they grow up.

Rarely, then, do we have the opportunity to learn something entirely new together. And it is a surprisingly amazing experience.

On a recent trip to the beach, my three boys and I all went snorkeling for the first time. So we got accustomed to breathing through the apparatus at the same time. We struggled a little with the flippers together. We simultaneously tried to empty our breathing tubes. We each wondered about what we might see and whether we would be brave enough to stay in the water with a shark or a stingray.

We got to test ourselves together.

We did not all learn at the same pace. We did not all last as long in the water. The five year old mastered it the fastest, but tired of the waves earlier than the rest of us. The ten year old proved to be a relentless underwater explorer. And mom did not get to see the octopus!

But we had a great time, which was cool to be both witness to and a part of.

So I thought I would put together a list of ways in which Denver parents and their children might learn something together this summer:

• Sign up for a novice knitting class at the Lamb Shoppe (http://www.thelambshoppe.com/)
• Learn to kayak together with avid4adventure, which runs half-day family programs (http://www.avid4.com/family-camps/denverfamilyadventures-html/)
• Discover your family’s artistic genes with some of the amazing family programs at the Denver Art Museum (http://www.denverartmuseum.org/see-do-dam/kids-families#studio)
• Build a website together
• Attend a free DIY workshop for families at your local Home Depot on the first Saturday of every month to learn building and craft skills
• Sign up for a family golf lesson
• Learn to fly fish together by participating in Angling University’s Kids & Parents courses (http://www.anglinguniversity.com)
• Conquer your fear of heights together by zip lining at the Colorado Adventure Center (http://www.zippingcolorado.com)
• Try a simulated skydive with the entire family at SkyVenture Colorado (http://www.skyventurecolorado.com)

There is an intense vulnerability that most people experience when they try something new. For parents, diving out of our comfort zone with our kids watching can be especially intimidating. “If they see that I am afraid to jump, will they be scared too?” “If they see how un-crafty I am, will think I am not as good a mom?” “How will I feel if they are better at it than me?”

From recent experience, it actually feels great. Not only was learning something new more fun because I absorbed their child-like enthusiasm, but I was also proud that they were venturing out of their comfort zones and pushing me to join them on an adventure.

Reading the Signs

In the last few years, I have taken to reading the signs outside of churches where, if you haven’t noticed, many churches post inspiring quotes.

They are sometimes very creative and even funny. And when the Broncos signed Peyton Manning last summer, all signs read “Welcome to Denver, Peyton!” A Second Coming with lower case “s”, lower case “c”.

Recently, I passed a church that still had its Easter signage up. It read:

“Jesus has left the building. I saw Him.”

I thought the first line was cute. The second has me worried.

Denver Communities Inspiring Action

I have been trying to learn everything I can about education reform in Colorado, and as I conduct my research, I keep finding myself drawn toward projects that try to fix what’s broken outside the classroom. A child growing up without books or in a struggling or violent neighborhood comes to school with fewer tools and often less support than the child who comes from a safe, comfortable place. If you build up those communities, you put children on the road to being better students even before they hit the classroom. Then, the school reforms everyone is working on have a better chance of being effective.

One of the interesting projects I stumbled upon is the Floodlight Project. As a writer, it is one I will be cheering for. Please read my article published on Yahoo Voices.

http://voices.yahoo.com/denver-giving-floodlight-shines-11893819.html

Great Holiday Books for Kids

Yesterday, my holiday book list for kids was published on Mile High Mamas, the parenting blog associated with the Denver Post. If you are looking for some wonderful books to read to the kids or grandkids, or as gifts for your school or friends, this list is worth checking out.

http://www.milehighmamas.com/2012/11/23/11-great-holiday-books-every-child-should-have/

And if you go to the site, please hit the Like button. I would love for them to keep inviting me to blog for them!

Fun Fall Family Things to Do in Denver

Mourning the closing of the pool and feeling the cooler breezes of fall, our family has been looking for fun ways to spend the weekend before ski season starts here in Colorado. My article on some of the things we’ve done – or are planning to do in the next few weeks – was published on Yahoo Voices. Please check it out, and if you are in Colorado, we’d love some more ideas for the kids. Thanks!

http://voices.yahoo.com/fun-fall-activities-families-denver-11787716.html?cat=25