A book is a friend for life. The words stay with you, even when you put the book down.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

More About Dreams

♫ "A dream is a wish your heart makes..." ♪

Disney movies have some good things to teach our children. One important message that shines through is the importance of dreams -- and following your dreams. Whether you are a princess in a tower or a dented tow truck, it is of vital importance to keep chasing your dreams.

♪ "The dream that you wish will come true..." ♫

So why do we end up hijacking our kids' dreams? Somehow, through the "real world" of public education, our kids end up thinking they need to dream smaller dreams. I think the term that is bandied about is "realistic" dreams. Really? Since when is dreaming supposed to be about thinking small? Your dreams are supposed to be BIG -- as big as you can think up!

Picture this: a child enters school dreaming of becoming an astronaut. The child's teacher tells her, "There's no way you can be an astronaut. Wouldn't you like to be a ____ instead?" Fill in the blank with whatever idea you'd like. It ends up the same. We should be about the job of helping kids find ways to reach their dreams, not telling them their dreams are unreachable.

My son wants to fly fighter planes and helicopters for the Air Force. He has wanted to do this since he was quite small. We attended an air show with my father (who was in the Air Force), and my son got to sit behind the controls of a Blackhawk. That was it; that was his dream job from that moment on. His dream has adapted and changed a bit. He is now 10, and his dream now looks like flying unmanned drones and designing software to create these types of programs. He has even talked about going to the Air Force Academy and Spartan School of Aeronautics.

Now, I am making sure that his dream stays alive. As parents, we aren't supposed to kill our kids' dreams. We're supposed to help them realize their dreams. We support our kids dreams, and allow our kids' dreams to change. NOT change their dreams for them!

I've been reading (and rereading) Stop Stealing Dreams. Have a look at section 14:

14. The wishing and dreaming problem

If you had a wish, what would it be? If a genie arrived and granted you a wish, would it be a worthwhile one?
I think our wishes change based on how we grow up, what we’re taught, whom we hang out with, and what our parents do.
Our culture has a dreaming problem. It was largely created by the current regime in schooling, and it’s getting worse.
Dreamers in school are dangerous. Dreamers can be impatient, unwilling to become well-rounded, and most of all, hard to fit into existing systems.
One more question to ask at the school board meeting: “What are you doing to fuel my kid’s dreams?”

And more here in section 19:

19. Dreams are difficult to build and easy to destroy

By their nature, dreams are evanescent. They flicker long before they shine brightly. And when they’re flickering, it’s not particularly difficult for a parent or a teacher or a gang of peers to snuff them out.
Creating dreams is more difficult. They’re often related to where we grow up, who our parents are, and whether or not the right person enters our life.
Settling for the not-particularly uplifting dream of a boring, steady job isn’t helpful. Dreaming of being picked—picked to be on TV or picked to play on a team or picked to be lucky—isn’t helpful either. We waste our time and the time of our students when we set them up with pipe dreams that don’t empower them to adapt (or better yet, lead) when the world doesn’t work out as they hope.
The dreams we need are self-reliant dreams. We need dreams based not on what is but on what might be. We need students who can learn how to learn, who can discover how to push themselves and are generous enough and honest enough to engage with the outside world to make those dreams happen.
I think we’re doing a great job of destroying dreams at the very same time the dreams we do hold onto aren’t nearly bold enough.

Or here, from section 36:

36. Instead of amplifying dreams, school destroys them
Every day, beginning the first day and continuing until the last day, our teachers and our administrators and yes, most parents, seeking to do the right thing, end up doing the wrong one.
We mean well.
We let our kids down easy.
We tell ourselves that we are realistic.
We demand that students have a trade to fall back on, an assembly-line job available just in case the silly dreams don’t come true. And then, fearing heartbreak, we push them to bury the dream and focus on just the job.
The job with a boss and an office and air conditioning and a map of what to do next. A job with security and co-workers and instructions and deniability.
And when the job doesn’t come?
When all the dues are paid and for nothing?

Some intense reading, folks. And food for thought.

Have you talked to your kids about their dreams? Teachers, have you talked to your students about their dreams?

What are we doing to help kids reach their dreams? And how can we help them if we never let them talk about what their dreams might be? Instead of fitting kids into certain boxes, perhaps we should let them dream outside the box!

Most powerful section (at least today) --
Take a look at section 130:

130.Whose dream?
There’s a generational problem here, a paralyzing one.
Parents were raised to have a dream for their kids—we want our kids to be happy, adjusted, successful. We want them to live meaningful lives, to contribute and to find stability as they avoid pain.
Our dream for our kids, the dream of 1960 and 1970 and even 1980, is for the successful student, the famous college, and the good job. Our dream for our kids is the nice house and the happy family and the steady career. And the ticket for all that is good grades, excellent comportment, and a famous college.
And now that dream is gone. Our dream. But it’s not clear that our dream really matters. There’s a different dream available, one that’s actually closer to who we are as humans, that’s more exciting and significantly more likely to affect the world in a positive way.
When we let our kids dream, encourage them to contribute, and push them to do work that matters, we open doors for them that will lead to places that are difficult for us to imagine. When we turn school into more than just a finishing school for a factory job, we enable a new generation to achieve things that we were ill-prepared for.
Our job is obvious: we need to get out of the way, shine a light, and empower a new generation to teach itself and to go further and faster than any generation ever has. Either our economy gets cleaner, faster, and more fair, or it dies.
If school is worth the effort (and I think it is), then we must put the effort into developing attributes that matter and stop burning our resources in a futile attempt to create or reinforce mass compliance.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dreaming Big

I'm currently reading the powerful e-book Stop Stealing Dreams by Seth Godin. In this powerful work, the author talks about some important things that are missing from American education. One of these things is imagination -- the power to dream big.

We give our kids tasks to perform, information to memorize, tests to take, and then wonder why they aren't creative problem-solvers.

Picture this. A class of 5th-graders have been learning about Vikings (history, misconceptions, etc). I pass them a couple of coloring pages and a box of 24 crayons -- to create while I read (from a fiction book). The first question they ask? "Does it matter what color I use?"

Really?? Of course it doesn't matter! Use whatever color you like! Be creative! If the boat is red and pink, and the water is orange, that's great!

When have we so indoctrinated our kids that their first response is to question how creative they are allowed to be? Kids need to be empowered to make creative decisions -- to dream big!

I'm inspired by "Stop Stealing Dreams". I'd love to have a discussion with others who have read/are reading this work.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Blast from the Past

How amazing it is to discover "new" novels!

Did you know that the author of the Tarzan books, Edgar Rice Burroughs, was really a prolific science fiction writer? In fact, the majority of his body of work was sci-fi. How is it that I have never heard that before?

My husband got one of these books for me on the kindle: A Princess of Mars. It's the first book in a rather long series. This first installment was originally published in 1911. How different the world must have looked 100 years ago; and yet, many of his ideas (low gravity, teleportation, etc.) are still used in many modern series.

I bring this up because we recently went to see the movie John Carter. Incidently, this movie is based on the Princess of Mars series. Many people didn't know that. I think the movie might have been more appreciated if people had known. It kind of puts in in a new perspective to realize that the story playing out on the screen was originally envisioned a century ago!

I applaud free thinkers like Edgar Rice Burroughs. And, as always, I recommend reading the book before seeing the movie. (Insert Hunger Games reference here, for all those on the movie bandwagon.)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Meaning of Family

Anyone who knows me probably would tell you that my family is the most important thing in my life. In fact, just a quick glance through my blog would tell even the casual observer that my life centers around my family.

This month is a big birthday month. First, we celebrate my daughter's birthday. Shortly after that, we celebrate my niece's birthday. Finally, we celebrate my birthday! Besides just this inner circle of birthdays, I also have various uncles and cousins with March birthdays. My brother- and sister-in-law celebrate their wedding anniversary in March as well. So you can see how March, for me, is all about family.

Recently, my sister-in-law's husband decided he wants a divorce. Imagine how hard this is for her; imagine how hard it is for such a close-knit family! We are all hurting with her, and hoping and praying that she will somehow find herself during all of this.

Yes, March makes me think about family. Spring Break, the big event of the month, is usually spent with family. This year is no exception; we're looking forward to lots of family events and trips.

So, I've been pondering, "What is the meaning of family?" To me, it starts with those to whom I have been born. My parents, brothers, and children. The heart of my family is my husband, and by extension, his parents, siblings, and their children. But family is so much more than that. My family circle also extends to my church family (we're having a church family game night tomorrow, in fact) and my work family. When one of my colleagues hurts, I hurt. Might as well be family.

So, March is all about family.

I'm in the middle of reading a novel that looks at family a little differently.

In the book, the main character's parents are researchers raising a baby chimp as a family member, studying language development and chimp intelligence. What is so interesting about the story is that it seems like the teen protagonist is really the one being studied. Kind of blurs the definition of family.

Anyway, no matter your definition of family, March to me is the time to pull family close and enjoy every precious minute of time with them.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Writing Practice

My son hates to write.

Let me qualify that statement a bit. My son loves to create stories, enjoys research, and likes using the computer. However, my son hates to write - by hand.

He has always struggled with his handwriting. His printing was nearly illegible (but has improved a bit in the past year). His cursive leaves MUCH to be desired. And he is frustrated by his lack of progress and how difficult this task is for him. He will often snap the lead in his pencil just writing the smallest homework assignment. And writing a whole story? Well, let's just say he prints it first. (Because if he wrote in cursive first, the story would be a WHOLE lot shorter!)

So, I'm always trying to think of ways to encourage him to write -- for fun. I think the dying art of letter writing is helpful, but I need something that he can do for INSTANT feedback. Maybe journaling exercises? Maybe the whole family can journal together.

I got this idea after seeing a blog post about a book called "Un-Journaling". I checked it out on and it looks neat. I also looked at some other journaling workbooks.

I just don't want it to feel like homework! I need it to be FUN! (big sigh) I need some inspiration. Hmm, I wonder how he would respond to the idea of scrapbooking? My scrapbooks always involve lots of journaling. Well, we'll see.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Just heard about the new VeggieTales DVD, Robin Good. I'm so glad they are still making movies! :) Such a great thing for kids. So glad my kids still enjoy watching them!

Heard about this great giveaway on one of my new fav blogs, Momma Findings. She's actually giving away a Robin Good DVD! Wow!

Here's where I found out about it:



Yesterday, I had surgery. Not major surgery, just an outpatient procedure. Today, I'm recovering.

Even though I have a really low pain tolerance, I always think I'm going to just "feel fine" the next day. I don't know why I think this. It doesn't make any sense, given that I've always had a low threshold for pain of any kind. I guess I just think I should be fine after surgery.

Well, it doesn't work that way. Most frustrating are all the things that are not getting done while I am stuck in bed! Two birthday parties today, for example. So dad is stuck running kids to parties, and I get to go to none. Sigh. And attending church tomorrow is out, too.

Thankfully, I stocked up on library books on Thursday! Somehow, I've ended up with not one but two murder mysteries about ladies that knit! And they aren't old grannies that solve mysteries... Weird. Two very different authors, and different takes on the stories. But how odd that the heroines of each book should have knitting in common!

Is knitting really that popular?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What a Book!

I just finished reading another one of those books that just makes me want to write about it!

It is The Apothecary by Maile Meloy. To be honest, I picked up this book to read because the cover was so enticingly odd. Even the back cover of the book tells you very little about the book. What a pleasant discovery this book has been!

It weaves together espionage, the atomic bomb's creation, and magic in a way that is totally unexpected. It begins much like any ordinary historical fiction for young people. "I was seven and living in Los Angeles when Japan surrendered at the end of World War II..." Ho hum. But the reader is quickly dumped out of her chair and into a strange world where magic is real, even if you don't believe in it, and spies are everywhere.

One of my favorite things about this book is that the magic seems so believable. It takes for granted that readers will just go along with the story. And it moves so quickly, who are we as readers to question this?

I also enjoyed how quickly the children are swept into the world of spies and undercover mishaps. Though the premise behind the story is a little far-fetched, with this mixing of magic and espionage, what could one expect?

My favorite scene from the book comes near the end, when an atomic bomb is detonated. It could be a textbook example of historical fiction from World War II -- except that the bomb's blast is intercepted and cancelled out by magic! And the description of what ensues is so vividly written that the reader isn't put out by it at all. I was so swept up in the story!

Brilliant work. I'm hoping this novel can be a bridge between those who love historical fiction and those who love fantasy. It worked for me!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Birthday Girl

Yesterday, the family celebrated my daughter's birthday. She wanted a Belle/France theme, but we couldn't find Paris decorations, so it became a very pink princess party. She loved it.

We had a big party at PaPa's house. All the family was on hand, and daughter was allowed to invite a few friends. It began with just three friends, but ended up as five.

I believe she learned a valuable lesson about friendship during the whole birthday invitation process. First she had to decide which three girls (her closest friends) would be invited. After inviting these three, she got to thinking. There is one girl in her class who has always been a friend, but for some reason, this little girl has found herself on the "outside" of the class friendship circles. She really has felt left out and lost. So, after some discussion, my daughter said she really needed to invite this friend. So she did.

Then, there is another friend. She has always been close to my daughter, but definitely is part of a different crowd. You know, those popular cool girls who seem to have it all. Well, she has always come to my daughter's birthday parties. And my daughter said she is still her friend, will always be her friend, no matter what. So, she gets invited too.

So, at this small family birthday party, we also had 5 of my daughter's closest friends. Wouldn't have it any other way!

What's a great book about friendship? Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass. Great lesson in becoming friends with those who may be different than yourself, and learning to be a better friend. Important book for tweens, but everyone could read this book and enjoy its gentle humor.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Social Media

Today, at home with both kids who are sick, I have been exploring Social Media.

For many people, tweeting and facebooking are key components of their day. I admit, I'm learning more about facebook everyday, and love it! However, I am new to twitter, and I am slow at using Google+. I don't have a pinterest account, although I love going there to browse.

Today, since I have the time, I'm exploring. I started with my facebook. Then I browsed my tweets, clicking on lots of different things. I also follow several different blogs, so I spent time today clicking through blog posts.

The neatest thing was discovering that I can LINK my social media together! For example, if I find something on a blog that I like, I can tweet it out. If I find something on facebook I like, I can +1 it onto my Google+. Fun!

Yesterday, I spent the day reading. The book I finished yesterday was The Wild Ways,
and it (like social media) connected lots of aspects of things I enjoy. It is primarily a modern adventure story, but it incorporates magic, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, country music, Celtic tradition, saving the seals, family relationships, and soooo much more! Did I mention the teenage boy in the novel (typical teen) is also a dragon? Heeheehee.

Enjoy your combination explorations! :)