Saturday, September 26, 2009

In the Beginning...

One of the concerns I had about educating my kids, was teaching subjects which were important, but that I didn't necessarily enjoy myself. I didn't want my lack of enthusiasm for a topic to influence them. So I made a decision to jump in with both feet, when it came to science in general, and astronomy specifically.

How could I make this interesting? How could I make this fun? So the first thing we did was take a trip to the Adler Planetarium. Shockingly, living here all my life, I had never been there.

I didn't want to try to do too much in that trip. Living so close, I knew there would be many more opportunities to visit. My goal was to be inspired, and to inspire the kids. To be awed and to want to know more. Mission accomplished. After seeing the big picture, literally, I got excited about "outer space." Hmm, maybe there was a correlation between my level of interest and my level of knowledge.

After teaching the kids some basic "stuff" like what's astronomy, what's a star, what's a satellite, and what's a planet (don't even get me started on Pluto. Can everyone please update your websites and books? It has been three years, ya know.), we embarked on building a model of the solar system (sans that "dwarf planet").

There were two main points I wanted to teach with our solar system model beyond knowing the names and order of the planets: the size of the planets in relation to each other, and the relative distance of the eight planets to the sun. My experience in school was that all the planets were pretty much the same size and pretty much equidistant from each other.

Why did I think this? Same reason I had no concept of the size of Alaska or Hawaii, nor where they existed on the globe. Gotta fit everything on one page!

Also, I didn't want the sun in the model. If we are going to have the sun, it's gotta be accurate, relatively, in size. And that's just not possible, unless I want Mercury to be microscopic, or move in to a bigger home.

To determine the scale we were going to use, we needed something that could be tiny enough to be Mercury, and large enough to be Jupiter. So we chose to use balloons--water balloons, birthday balloons, and punching balloons.

Here is our model, in this 41-second video:

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Coca-Cola: 60 Seconds of Reality

First let me say that I do not drink Coca-Cola. Mainly because it's not a healthy drink.

So while I am not a fan of the product itself, I am a fan of their marketing.

Participating in InternetLand with texts, emails, IMs, social networking, blogs, forums, etc., I appreciate the commentary Coca-Cola made with their Super Bowl 2009 Avatar commercial.

Have a look:

Technology has the power to bring us together. I use digital photos and videos to keep friends and family up to date on our kids. I use social networking to reconnect and stay in touch with friends from twenty years ago. I use texts to send lil love notes to my husband.

But if used improperly, technology has the power to create a disconnect, a lack of human contact, creating an inability to communicate effectively, and therefore leading to a breakdown of intimate and meaningful relationships.

A few things I noticed in a mere sixty seconds with this commercial:

* A person in Cyberspace is not always who they truly are. They hide behind their keypad. (example: avatars and humans rarely match each other in form or persona)

*A person can have multiple "personalities" in Cyberspace. (example: the changing avatars of one person sitting at a table)

* A person in Cyberspace, trying to be great and powerful online, can miss opportunities to be great in real life. (example: the "superhero" and the mom with the baby carriage)

* A person choosing to be more involved online can become ineffective, and misses out on the gifts in real life. (example: the mom pushing her child on the swing)

* It takes a conscious effort of reaching out and being authentic, in order to break through those techno barriers--our own and others.

* People crave real contact.

Coke doesn't sell a beverage. Coke sells human contact. Relationships. Connectedness.

This is not a new concept for Coke, as evident by their 1971 commercial:

The concept for the "I Like to Buy the World A Coke" commercial came from the creative director for the ad agency witnessing, during a bad travel experience how Coke brought people together.

"The next morning, as the passengers gathered in the airport coffee shop awaiting clearance to fly, Backer noticed that several who had been among the most irate were now laughing and sharing stories over bottles of Coke."

I'm too young to remember that commercial. But I sure do remember when they brought back that song and built on the theme in 1984:

These commercials inspire me. I find inspiration everywhere--even in an ad for a product I don't even like! I guess that's because I want to be inspired. How about you?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Love Lavishly

There’s a little “25 Things About Me” exercise going around on one of the social networks of which I’m a part. The idea is that you write 25 things about you, and “tag” 19 others, as well as the person who originally tagged you.

The lists have been neat, and I’ve learned many things about my social network friends who have done lists. Yesterday though, was breathtaking.

"10. When my mom died I held her and touched her till she went cold. I could not stop sniffing her. I never want to forget her smell and her smooth skin."

I quickly read through the rest of the list, and then went back to #10. I re-read #10. And re-read it again.

I was speechless, stunned, a puddle of tears, and grateful for being allowed to be included in such a deep, intimate, personal detail.

Twenty four hours later I am still pondering the depths of #10. Instant tears I have flowing freely down my cheeks every time I read #10.

I have yet to lose someone close to me. And no one, as far as I know, is nearing death. So my response seems puzzling. I’m not grieving a death, nor am I anticipating a death.

Why am I so moved? Why the depths of emotion?

Lavish love. I read #10 and it is what a life lived being lavishly loved, looks like. A daughter, showing one last act of deep love to her mom.

When I was pregnant, a big concern for me was that I would not love my child as deeply (or at all) as a mom should. Many days I’d rock in my glider, with my hands on my belly, praying to God that He give me a heart that loved this child (I prayed in the singular for a long time since we didn’t know I was carrying twins until the eighth month).

I prayed to Him that I’d love the way Jesus loves—no strings attached. I knew I needed Him for that kind of love, since, being human, I’m selfish, self-centered, and demand my own way.

God is so good. He does answer prayers. I am astounded, really, by how He continually transforms my heart. Not only do I love my children, but I love people, even those that are really hard to love, if ya know what I mean.

The definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13 is beautiful, magnificent,and awe-inspiring.

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends."

I want to love like that.

As my relationship with God grows, as I am humbled by His grace and His love for me, and as I remain focused on Him, it’s easier to love God’s way—agape love.

Lavish love.

#10 is lavish love, and a sobering reminder of just how fleeting all of our lives on Earth really are.

While I'm here, whether it is for a day, a decade, or several decades, I choose to love lavishly.