Top 5 Posts & Some Thoughts

Happy New Year
Happy New Year (Photo credit: James Marvin Phelps)

As a new year dawns, most of us begin a period of reflection as we look back over the past year and think about what went well, what could have gone better, and what we would like to forget. Like others, I have been in a reflective mood as well as I think back over 2013 and look forward with expectancy to 2014. One area of reflection has been this blog. When I started blogging in 2007, it was a place to compile my thoughts and share snippets of our life. Blogging was soooooo much simpler then as I am talking about pre- SEO, Pinterest, the explosion of social media, etc. As I went through my archives, I use to blog a lot more regularly than I do now. 😦 I miss sharing in this space and while I am not going to make a specific promise, it is my desire to be present more often.

So, as we close out 2013, here are my top 5 blog posts – ever! I encourage you to go through them and feel free to share what may have been your favorite on the list or if yours wasn’t on the list. 🙂

1. Pin Cushion Tutorial
This was my first ever tutorial and let’s just say that I am glad my picture taking skills have improved.

2. One World One Heart Giveaway
I so enjoyed my time participating in this giveaway. Of course, looking back through reminded me of how much I miss making. I am continually in prayer that I can develop a schedule that leaves room for my making time in 2014.

3. Oven Dried Peppers
Sometimes life doesn’t give you lemons, but peppers, so you must make do.

4. The Liver Biopsy
God continues to amaze us in how wonderful our daughter is doing but we are keenly aware of the fact that things can change and that for some things haven’t been as easy.

5. Mrs. Ruth’s Cake
I must admit, Pinterest has helped this post take off. I have a sweet Twitter friend that loves this cake because it reminds her husband of his grandma’s cakes. 🙂 Those are the sweet blogging moments I enjoy!

As I took this stroll down memory lane, I laughed, cried, and sighed. Please tell me that I am not the only one trolling through their archives? 😉 Once again, no promises, but I do hope to share more in 2014.

Wishing you and yours a terrific close to 2013 and a wonderful start to 2014!!!

Introducing Kids to Coding

If you are on any social media platforms, you may have seen the hashtag #hourofcode being used this week. In honor of Computer Science Education Week, folks like Mark Zuckerberg of FB and others were encouraging children (and adults) to delve into coding, if only for an hour. Let’s face it, an hour doesn’t seem long especially if at the end of it you have completed something that you had never done before. As of this writing, according to their website, almost 15 million people have done some coding this week.

Many schools signed up to participate, but as a homeschooler, I wanted in on the action as well. As regular users of Khan Academy, I was pleasantly surprised when in my inbox there was a notice of their hour of code offerings. Wanting to make this happen during Computer Science Education Week meant that I had to readjust a day of school and Mother Nature helped with that by providing snow on Tuesday. So during our snowy Tuesday, the kiddos sat down to try their hand at coding. The iPad still proved a bit tricky with Khan Academy, so the kids did some pair programming until that was no longer fun and then one decided to just watch until they could do their own thing.

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Yes, a snow day equals wild natural hair on the Princess. 😉

Both of the kids completed the assignments and it was delightful to hear them problem solving out loud especially when one of them had a snowman with a floating head until he reconfigured the settings. This first taste of coding was well received by both kiddos so we signed up for more at Code. They have a 20 hour program with different levels of activities and yes adults can do it as well. Once that is completed, there are additional activities as well. Oh, have I mentioned that everything that I have shared is FREE! Yep, you read that right.

If you and your kids still want more coding experience, check out the following:

How and Why to Teach Your Kids to Code
Code Academy

And, if for some reason you think your little Prince or Princess is too young to learn coding, check out this article about a 12 year old app developer.

To complete our Computer Science Education Week, our local 4H club was hosting a fun day of learning at the Microsoft store. I must admit, I didn’t know Microsoft had a store. 😳. Along with others, the kids were able to learn all about Windows 8 and Office 2013 for wait for it…..FREE. Some of the parents also participated and after the learning took place, the kids were allowed to play on the Xbox units set up in the store. We all even left with Microsoft swag….woot woot!

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All in all, we had a good week and the kids were exposed to technology in ways beyond their normal interactions. We will keep working on coding as both have expressed an interest and with the plethora of free resources available, there really are no plausible excuses. Since you are reading this it is obvious that you are somewhat tech savvy. If you have a tablet or a smart phone and you have kids, you have probably noticed that they interact it with it easier than you do. There are great articles out there about ‘digital natives’ that are worth reading. I share all of this to say, it is obvious that technology is here to stay and prevalent in our lives and the lives of our children. Instead of allowing our children to just be consumers of technology we need to empower them to be producers.