3-D Printer

It is not a Sci-fi gadget, but real life. Now. And yes, it is amazingly incredible.  In this video, you will see that an actual company right now has the ability to scan a tool (a wrench) and make a fully operational replica in three dimensions. No, it is not made of the same material, but a new composite of plastics. But it is real, it works and eventually it will completely alter the way manufacturing is done.

Be wowed!

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Altering Education

I attended parochial school as a child, then public school for high school, and both a community college and a state school for university. My children were privately Montessori-trained and then home schooled and now Unschooled, mostly. So you could say I have run the gamut of educational choice. Whatever your thought process is regarding education, or your lifestyle choices for yourself and your children, I feel that everyone needs to be aware that change is not only necessary, but inevitable. Why not understand the needs for change now? Why not be a force for change and help others understand. Why not take a more active role in your children’s and grandchildren’s lifelong learning process?

One of the best explanations for the need for change comes from Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert. Enjoy watching the video.

 

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International Space Station Tour

Have you ever wondered if those shows about space stations are accurate? What does it REALLY look like inside? What do astronauts really eat? How do they go to the bathroom? How can they exercise to not lose bone density but also do so without stressing the space station? American, Japanese and Russian space scientists have been in the space station, enjoying and working through their floating life above the Earth. What a view they have had from up there! You get to see that, learn all about life on the space station, and imagine what you could accomplish if you were ever in space with this video narrated by the departing commander.

You can learn more about the International Space Station. Enjoy!

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Romancing the Wind

Sometimes the best things in life really are free.  My friend Tony passed along to me entertainment that is utterly amazing that shows off someone’s joy for what they have learned to do, and do so well, that they are astounding in their talent.

One such gentleman is Ray Bethell, flying three kites is in his 80s.  He hails from Canada and comes to the Washington State International Kite Festival every year. His skin is like leather as he normally flies with his shirt off. He is deaf, so when he flies, attendees hold their hands up and wave them for applause. He flies two kites with his hands and the third one is attached to his waist.  You must watch the video below to the end to see the amazing landing of that last kite!

And of course, make sure the volume is turned up because the music is beautiful and totally reflects the soaring of the kites.

You can view this incredible video (link below) of Ray and his amazing kite magic. Not only has he learned some amazing skill no doubt “beyond the book” but he shares will others as well. Enjoy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=nr9KrqN_lIg

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Start the New Year off right!

So many people make resolutions without really intending to keep them. I myself don’t like to set myself up for failure, so I am not going to start a workout regimen that begins at 5:30 am (though my hubby is and will probably be able to keep to it!), nor will I try to add ten more items to my to-do list which is already as long as my arm, and I certainly won’t add another commitment to my well-packed schedule. I have learned to say “NO”.

But there are several things that are simple enough to make you feel like you are embracing the NEWNESS of this new year, making improvements to your life, or setting aside some wonderful memories to review.

  • Pick something to clean up or clear out. Maybe it is your FB list of “friends” that could use some leaning so you are keeping in touch with who really matters to you. Or you have a closet (a “corner of chaos” as I call mine!) that can use donating to a worthier cause than dust collecting. Maybe you need to seriously evaluate your collection of culinary gadgets. More shoes than your entire FAMILY has feet, in just YOUR closet alone? Time to lean, clean and clear out. Trust me, it is cathartic! Just imagine all that space adding harmony to your life, as well as knowing that these items found their way into hands better suited to use them.  Take simply one small area or closet a week, and see how much you can clean up and clear out. Don’t even LOOK at other areas, beyond normal daily cleaning. Focus on one area at a time. You can do it.
  • Have some important matters to attend to but you have been putting them off? Updating that will? Completing the family album of last year’s (or decade’s worth) of photos? Organizing those files to get ready to handle taxes yourself for once and keeping more of your hard earned dollars? Whatever the administrative task, assign a time to go over it like you would a meeting or appointment. Request help from an organized neighbor or friend who can be “Another Set of Eyes” to help you see the forest for the paper. Again, take one task at a time and finish it before moving on to others. Then at least ONE item will come to fruition. Hopefully more.
  • This is a really fun one! Take a jar – a simple canning jar or something more creative and dramatic- and add little slips of paper to it of all the awesome moments that happen in your life. Little things that made you laugh, smile, jump for joy. Great things you want to remember. Just write it down and put it in the jar. Then on New Year’s Eve 2013, you can relish all the fun little happenings that brought you joy this year. Our Joy Jar, I call it. Anyone can add anything they wish, as long as it can be read in front of whomever at the end of the year. Enjoy this little task, and the bigger ones won’t seem so insurmountable. Since you have been able to handle this cute little task, maybe the harder ones – if broken down into manageable pieces- won’t seem so difficult.
Remember, life is short. Enjoy it while you have it. Improve it while you live it. Always try to learn something new. Every small bit adds to your existence. Reach for the stars and find your joy! Happy New Year!
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Homemade Bath Salts

Holidays are a time in our family for thinking of others and how we can make them happy. Gifts are one way, along with service projects and charitable donations. We try to be extra helpful to our neighbors and make an extra effort wherever we are.

In our DIY kind of household, often our gifts are homemade. This year, the girls decided that homemade bath salts would be a wonderful treat for family members, instructors, coaches, and many neighbors and friends.  Bath salts are easy and fun to make in many colors and scents.

Here are all the ingredients you will need:

  • Epsom salts, available in grocery and sundry stores
  • Fragrance oils with droppers from art supply stores
  • Food coloring
  • Glass or plastic containers, bottles or mesh bags
  • Some bowls and spoons for mixing

First, pour the salts in a bowl, then add just ONE OR TWO drops of food coloring. The salts really absorb the the color and they can turn too dark very quickly. You can always add more salts to lighten the color, or add more drops if you want darker color.  Next, you add the fragrance oils, again, just a FEW drops. Your whole room will start to take on the scents of lavender, vanilla, oranges, etc. pretty soon if you use too much! Mix it all with a spoon and pour into the containers of choice.  

You can mix everything right in the container, just close the container and shake the salt mixture. However, we found that sometimes the coloring would adhere to the bottle, not get mixed into the salts and look pretty messy. So, we felt that mixing in bowls and then pouring into the container completely mixed was a better option.

When you are finished preparing the colored, fragrant salts, you can add a note to your recipients making sure to tell them what scent you’ve selected for them, as well as anything else you have added. We also used peppermint extract and lemon juice as well as the fragrance oils in some samples. Feel free to mix the colors and scents in layers or completely shaken together. There are many creative options! Tie a pretty ribbon or some raffia around the jar, write a personal note or add some stickers for fun.  Enjoy the smiles on their faces as they realize the time and care you put into a homemade gift that will help them relax in a soothing bath or foot soak. Hey, don’t forget to save some for yourself!  Take time to relax and think happy thoughts! Happy Holidays from the Keyes Family to all our loyal and new readers!

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Math Philosophy

So, why hate the calculator? Many “old school” educators do and few modern educators, home or otherwise, embrace it until the highest level classes.

This article by Libertarian writer and math instructor, Jeremiah Dyke sure gave the hubby and I pause for thought. What should truly be the focus of math lessons–real-life understanding of concepts or calculations?  In the article, Mr. Dyke asks us to think about what should be our focus when learning math lessons:

1) Asking/Understanding the right question

2) Setting up the question

3) The actual computations

4) Interpreting the answer


No doubt you might wonder why so much time is spent on item #3…when calculators and computers can do all that work for us so much faster, right??  Hmmm……

Mr. Dyke has a great blog that offers a multitude of ways to help our children learn the realities of math- why we need it and how it use it in real life.  And often by getting up out of the chair, away from the pencil and paper and yes, the calculator too.

If you really want a book (and don’t we love them!) here is an interesting children’s selection on this topic.

 

Enjoy the article and blog and cherish time together during the holidays. It is the best gift!

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The Courage To Face Ingratitude…at a time, usually, of Giving Thanks

During this holiday week in America of Thanksgiving, we often are contemplating what all we are thankful for in our lives. Good health, families and friends, a job, a happy life. Whatever you have in your life you can be thankful for, and we need to recognize that more often than the third Thursday of the 11th month of the year.

But what happens when we must face ingratitude in others? How can we handle such occasions with grace and decorum? My friends at The Art of Manliness (which we ladies can often apply to ourselves as well) have posted an article that takes a twist on this topic of gratitude. While reading it, I remembered that benevolent acts are done because they are right, not because you will *hopefully* be thanked. Do not worry about your good deeds going unappreciated. Do them anyway. Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

“The Courage to Face Ingratitude
From The Power of Truth; Individual Problems and Possibilities, 1902
By William George Jordan

INGRATITUDE, the most popular sin of humanity, is forgetfulness of the heart. It is the revelation of the emptiness of pretended loyalty. The individual who possesses it finds it the shortest cut to all the other vices.

Ingratitude is a crime more despicable than revenge, which is only returning evil for evil, while ingratitude returns evil for good…

Gratitude is thankfulness expressed in action. It is the instinctive radiation of justice, giving new life and energy to the individual from whom it emanates. It is the heart’s recognition of kindness that the lips cannot repay. Gratitude never counts its payments. It realizes that no debt of kindness can ever be outlawed, ever be cancelled, ever paid in full. Gratitude ever feels the insignificance of its installments; ingratitude the nothingness of the debt. Gratitude is the flowering of a seed of kindness; ingratitude is the dead inactivity of a seed dropped on a stone.

The expectation of gratitude is human; the rising superior to ingratitude is almost divine. To desire recognition of our acts of kindness and to hunger for appreciation and the simple justice of a return of good for good, is natural. But man never rises to the dignity of true living until he has the courage that dares to face ingratitude calmly, and to pursue his course unchanged when his good works meet with thanklessness or disdain. Man should have only one court of appeals as to his actions, not “what will be the result?” “how will it be received?” but “is it right?” Then he should live his life in harmony with this standard alone, serenely, bravely, loyally and unfalteringly, making “right for right’s sake” both his ideal and his inspiration. Man should not be an automatic gas-machine, cleverly contrived to release a given quantity of illumination under the stimulus of a nickel. He should be like the great sun itself which ever radiates light, warmth, life and power, because it cannot help doing so, because these qualities fill the heart of the sun, and for it to have them means that it must give them constantly. Let the sunlight of our sympathy, tenderness, love, appreciation, influence and kindness ever go out from us as a glow to brighten and hearten others. But do not let us ever spoil it all by going through life constantly collecting receipts, as vouchers, to stick on the file of our self-approval.

It is hard to see those who have sat at our board in the days of our prosperity, flee as from a pestilence when misfortune darkens our doorway; to see the loyalty upon which we would have staked our life, that seemed firm as a rock, crack and splinter like thin glass at the first real test; to know that the fire of friendship at which we could ever warm our hands in our hour of need, has turned to cold, dead, gray ashes, where warmth is but a haunting memory.

To realize that he who once lived in the sanctuary of our affection, in the frank confidence where conversation seemed but our soliloquy, and to whom our aims and aspirations have been thrown open with no Bluebeard chamber of reserve, has been secretly poisoning the waters of our reputation and undermining us by his lies and treachery, is hard indeed. But no matter how the ingratitude stings us, we should just swallow the sob, stifle the tear, smile serenely and bravely, and— seek to forget.

In justice to ourselves we should not permit the ingratitude of a few to make us condemn the whole world. We pay too much tribute to a few human insects when we let their wrong-doing paralyze our faith in humanity. It is a lie of the cynics that says “all men are ungrateful,” a companion lie to “all men have their price.” We must trust humanity if we would get good from humanity. He who thinks all mankind is vile is a pessimist who mistakes his introspection for observation; he looks into his own heart and thinks he sees the world. He is like a cross-eyed man, who never sees what he seems to be looking at. Confidence and credit are the cornerstones of business, as they are of society. Withdraw them from business and the activities and enterprises of the world would stop in an instant, topple and fall into chaos. Withdraw confidence in humanity from the individual, and he becomes but a breathing, selfish egotist, the one good man left, working overtime in nursing his petty grudge against the world because a few whom he has favored have been ungrateful.

If a man receives a counterfeit dollar he does not straightway lose his faith in all money—at least there are no such instances on record in this country. If he has a run of three or four days of dull weather he does not say “the sun ceases to exist, there are surely no bright days to come in the whole calendar of time.” If a man’s breakfast is rendered an unpleasant memory by some item of food that has outlived its usefulness, he does not forswear eating. If a man finds under a tree an apple with a suspicious looking hole on one side, he does not condemn the whole orchard; he simply confines his criticism to that apple. But he who has helped someone who, later, did not pass a good examination on gratitude, says in a voice plaintive with the consciousness of injury, and with a nod of his head that implies the wisdom of Solomon: “I have had my experience, I have learned my lesson. This is the last time I will have faith in any man. I did this for him, and that for him, and now, look at the result!”

Then he unrolls a long schedule of favors, carefully itemized and added up, till it seems the payroll of a great city. He complains of the injustice of one man, yet he is willing to be unjust to the whole world, making it bear the punishment of the wrong of an individual. There is too much vicarious suffering already in this earth of ours without this lilliputian attempt to extend it by syndicating one man’s ingratitude. If one man drinks to excess, it is not absolute justice to send the whole world to jail. The farmer does not expect every seed that he sows in hope and faith to fall on good ground and bring forth its harvest; he is perfectly certain that this will not be so, cannot be. He is counting on the final outcome of many seeds, on the harvest of all, rather than on the harvest of one…The more unselfish, charitable and exalted the life and mission of the individual, the larger will be the number of instances of ingratitude that must be met and vanquished…

We must ever tower high above dependence on human gratitude or we can do nothing really great, nothing truly noble. The expectation of gratitude is the alloy of an otherwise virtuous act. It ever dulls the edge of even our best actions. Most persons look at gratitude as a protective tariff on virtues. The man who is weakened in well-doing by the ingratitude of others, is serving God on a salary basis. He is a hired soldier, not a volunteer. He should be honest enough to see that he is working for a reward; like a child, he is being good for a bonus. He is really regarding his kindness and his other expressions of goodness as moral stock he is willing to hold only so long as they pay dividends. There is in such living always a touch of the pose; it is waiting for the applause of the gallery. We must let the consciousness of doing right, of living up to our ideals, be our reward and stimulus, or life will become to us but a series of failures, sorrows and disappointments…

Let us forget the good deeds we have done by making them seem small in comparison with the greater things we are doing, and the still greater acts we hope to do. This is true generosity, and will develop gratitude in the soul of him who has been helped, unless he is so petrified in selfishness as to make it impossible. But constantly reminding a man of the favors he has received from you almost cancels the debt. The care of the statistics should be his privilege; you are usurping his prerogative when you recall them. Merely because it has been our good fortune to be able to serve someone, we should not act as if we held a mortgage on his immortality, and expect him to swing the censer of adulation forever in our presence…

No good act performed in the world ever dies. Science tells us that no atom of matter can ever be destroyed, that no force once started ever ends; it merely passes through a multiplicity of ever-changing phases. Every good deed done to others is a great force that starts an unending pulsation through time and eternity. We may not know it, we may never hear a word of gratitude or of recognition, but it will all come back to us in some form as naturally, as perfectly, as inevitably, as echo answers to sound. Perhaps not as we expect it, how we expect it, nor where, but sometime, somehow, somewhere, it comes back, as the dove that Noah sent from the Ark returned with its green leaf of revelation. Let us conceive of gratitude in its largest, most beautiful sense, that if we receive any kindness we are debtor, not merely to one man, but to the whole world. As we are each day indebted to thousands for the comforts, joys, consolations, and blessings of life, let us realize that it is only by kindness to all that we can begin to repay the debt to one, begin to make gratitude the atmosphere of all our living and a constant expression in outward acts, rather than in mere thoughts. Let us see the awful cowardice and the injustice of ingratitude, not to take it too seriously in others, not to condemn it too severely, but merely to banish it forever from our own lives, and to make every hour of our living the radiation of the sweetness of gratitude.

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Learn While Geocaching!

Here in New Hampshire, we are pretty hardy folk. When the famous “Nor’easters” come through, we are prepared. Food, water, fuel – check, check, check!  So when a hurricane comes rolling through, what does our Homeschool Co-op group do? Batten down the hatches and hunker down inside?? Nah- we go on a park field trip to start our new GEOCACHING experience!

Geocaching is basically high tech treasure-hunting. Think tromping through the woods to look for containers big and small…only you use a GPS, global positioning system, device to find said container. Once found, you come back home and log your finding (or not!) of the container on geocaching.com, a website dedicated to the activity. Sometimes the caches, the containers, have small items in them that you can take home with you as long as you leave something of equal value in its place. Cache contents swapping. But often, the only reward for finding the cache is the knowledge that you have done so.

And finding the caches is so much fun! It can inspire you to make it to the top of a long hike up a mountain. It can help you learn about a new place near, or far from, your home. It can help you learn about the history or culture of a place or people.

Our homeschool co-op, who has introduced us to this new learning adventure, has decided to launch a travel bug (photo at top). This is an item placed in a normal cache, that is not simply a prize to take home after swapping, but to pass on and therefore ‘travel’ along the many caches out there. Some travel bugs have traveled all around the world not returning to their original owners for two years! Some have been traveling so long that they may never actually make it home.  What happens to the bugs? Well, you can watch the log and see when other geocache finders, called cachers, find the caches. Some clever people even take photographs of the travel bugs in their location before passing it on to another cache. It is really wonderful to keep watching your travel bug as it travels all over your state, country or the entire world.  

Geocaching.com partners with educators and others to keep learning fun. So why not give it a try yourself?  You never know what you can discover or where your next geocaching learning adventure will take you. Happy Caching!

 

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Yoga at Home- Online!

Our family is always trying to find ways to do things ourselves, or perhaps with the best teachers out there in cyberspace. Online learning is bigger and better than ever, encompassing more subjects than anyone can ever learn in an actual school setting. Many of the courses are also free. Why limit yourself to just what is offered in your immediate area? With the web, anything is possible- even yoga classes!

I found a wonderful site, called Do Yoga With Me that offers free yoga classes via watching them on your computer, which can hook into a larger t.v. (with the right equipment).  You can select the amount of time you want to spend, the level of ability, a particular instructor of their many offered, a specific style of yoga, etc.  Once you have selected your choices, there are several videos offered. There is also a vibrant yoga community with which to keep in touch. The site also includes a yoga glossary, which helps you understand all those Sanskrit terms during your practice!  I get so energized by watching the videos, always set in luxurious locations with beautiful music playing in the background. I am inspired when I read what other yogis are saying and their own challenges and triumphs.  This site keeps me grounded and moves me along in my practice.

Seeing me practice yoga in the living room has been a wonderful example of healthy living for our four daughters too. They wouldn’t be inspired to join me if I took off for a local class every Tuesday night, now would they? So, one stop to a website helps ALL FIVE of us in our practices. And it’s FREE!  I can’t think of what could be better.

Click on a video, grab your mat and water bottle, and off you go.  Namaste!

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