One of the United States’ great legacies for the world is our National Parks. Starting with the founding of Yellowstone National Park, in 1872, National Parks have become one of the most important ways that natural treasures and important cultural sites have been protected and preserved for us and the generations to follow us.
Our family has really enjoyed using the sites protected by the National Park Service, both on trips and locally in St. Louis. Some of these sites are very accessible to children and really tap into their senses of awe and wonder about the world. But other sites, like National Battlefields and historical sites like Presidential homes, are not so relatable for children.
Fortunately, there is a great program for children at many of these parks: the Junior Ranger program. About half of the 401 areas owned or administered by the National Park Service provide these gateways for children to interact with and understand the National Parks and the legacies they protect.
We look a lovely long summer trip to Alaska. We flew to Anchorage and rented a car for the first week. During that leg, we saw Anchorage, Homer, Talkeetna, and lots of beauty in between. After a train ride to Seward, we spent a day there before boarding Royal Caribbean‘s Radiance of the Seas for the second leg of the trip. On the ship, we cruised for a week to Vancouver, seeing glaciers, Juneau, Icy Strait, Skagway, and Ketchikan along the way. Finally, we spent a day exploring Vancouver before heading back to the Midwest.
This trip was very similar in structure to a trip we took with my parents in 2004: both started with driving around on our own for a week followed by a week on a cruise ship. But we saw a few different towns, spent more time in Anchorage, Talkeetna, Seward, and Vancouver to see more of the cities. Most importantly, this time we took along the children and Jenny’s mom, “Oma”.
Posted in Travel
Tagged Alaska, Anchorage, Cruise, Family Vacation, Homer, Hubbard Glacier, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Junior Ranger, Kenai Fjords National Park, Ketchikan, Moose, Orcas, Radiance of the Seas, Royal Caribbean, Seward, Skagway, Talkeetna, Totems, Vancouver
Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson by Jennifer Michael Hecht
This is a very interesting book that reveals how much more there is to the history of doubt and atheism than we talk about in most of our daily lives. I would recommend it for anyone who wants to have an understanding of the historical and philosophical background of what it means to be a free-thinker, a doubter, a secularist, or a skeptic.
D waved me down. I stopped the lawnmower and walked over to my 7-year-old to see what was going on. To my surprise, he and his 5-year-old brother were in their pajamas. J was out for the evening, and I had to mow the lawn, so I left them in the house with the TV. I had figured that I was going to have to come in to wrest them away from the TV when I was done with the lawn, but here they were.
“We watched our two shows and then turned off the TV, just like Mommy told us.”
“And you got your jammies on by yourself. You should go brush your teeth, and I’ll come in when I’m done with this last part of the lawn.”
“We already did. We’re ready for bed.”
Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in the case of Greece v Galloway that it was constitutional for a town council to begin its meetings with prayer, even if the prayer was almost always from one religion. This really wasn’t a surprise given who is on the bench, but it changes the standard from prohibiting endorsement to prohibiting coercion (a change which already prompted some groups to push the bounds by promising to give Christian-only prayers).
I know how to ride a bike. I don’t mean to brag, but really, I know how to ride a bike.
Although I’ve known how to ride a bike for years, I barely remember how my parents taught me how to ride. The only bit I remember is jumping on my new no-training-wheel bike and riding away from the store with my mother holding on to the back keeping me upright, and then finding out that my mother had let go at some point. So, I remember that first moment of riding without training wheels or an adult’s assistance, but I don’t remember the work (if any) that came before and after that point.
This doesn’t matter much for my bike-riding anymore, of course, but now D’s trying to figure out how to ride a bike without training wheels. And I don’t really know what to tell him. I know how to do it myself, but I don’t always know how to help my child learn.
The boys hadn’t really been asking about sex, but sometimes it would come up indirectly.
For example, “sexy” is a banned word at D’s school, and during his kindergarten year, he asked me what it meant. “Ummm… It means you’re so good looking that someone wants to kiss you.” My response didn’t fully answer the question, but it was close enough for his purposes, so he didn’t really ask the natural follow-up of what “sex” itself is.
There was also the time a couple years ago when I was having a really bad sneezing fit due to Spring tree pollen, and one of the boys asked me what was wrong. Perhaps my response of “Trees are trying to make babies with my face” wasn’t my best moment for enshrinement in the Parenting Hall of Fame, but then we talked a little about the sex life of plants. They didn’t really transfer it to people.
There have been a couple of times recently when D and M have both asked “What is sex?” when we weren’t in a position to give a good answer (with a group, etc.), so we had had to brush them off with “we’ll talk about it later.” And, of course, there have been a few times in which a more sophisticated and observant person would have realized that it was a bad time to have burst into Mommy and Daddy’s room…
Posted in Books, Douglas, Grounded Parents, Matthew
Tagged "what's the Big Secret?", book review, comprehensive sex education, kids, Parenting, sex, sex education, sexuality
I love Stephen Fry. From his comedy work with Hugh Laurie to his hilarious British quiz show to his forceful debating in the service of secularism, he’s someone I very much respect.
He’s also one of the world’s leading living Humanists. But what’s a Humanist?
Fortunately, Fry and the British Humanist Association have teamed up to create a series of four short animated videos to explain what Humanism is and how is applies to our lives. They cover science and knowledge (“How do we know what is true”), death and the afterlife (“What should we think about death?”), secular ethics (“What makes something right or wrong?”), and the meaning of life (“How can I be happy?”).
These are obviously big questions that can’t be fully answered in three-minute videos, but these might be good resources for explaining Humanism to friends and family who are unfamiliar with the concepts.
The Pastor came back with the results of our test. We were in his office for pre-marital counseling, and he had just given us some sort of couple’s compatibility test to see how we matched up. When he came back with the results, that’s what he said:
“You are very compatible in almost all areas, but there’s this one…”
He said that we showed up as very compatible for finances, plans for kids, general values, etc., but there was one area where we surprised him: Religion