Browsed by
Category: Family

How to be an unpopular little atheist
Can you beleive that she got in trouble for THIS?

How to be an unpopular little atheist
Can you beleive that she got in trouble for THIS?

Hello friends,

Today I don’t have a solution for a problem for you. I don’t even think I can entertain a lot of people. I just have a heartbroken little girl and a question to everyone out there. Has anything like that happened to you?

What happened?

My daughter got in trouble at school. Not for fighting, not for cheating, not for any of the reasons I ever thought a kid could get in trouble for.

She got in trouble for telling the truth. This is her face when she got home. And this is what happened.

A girl came up to her and asked her to “tell the truth about Santa Claus”. Now, my little fighting princess is a scientist at heart. When she was five, she told me that she knew mom and dad were Santa, but she wouldn’t tell her older brother because he still believed. That said, she was wayyy more considerate than I could have been…

“If I tell you, you might not like what I say,” she says. “Sometimes people get sad when I do.”

“Tell me anyway,” her classmate insists. “Grownups don’t tell me the truth!”

So my daughter tells her that Santa Claus doesn’t exist and that the parents bring the presents and fill the boots (german/austrian tradition on december 6th). Her classmate runs to the teacher to tell on Fighting Princess – and she gets chewed out by the teacher for the incident.

Welcome to being an atheist, sweety. You did everything right and still got in trouble for it. Apparently being an A-SantaClaus-ist is good practice fo later.

She later told me that this wasn’t the first time. In her own words: “Mom, I had to she was THREATNING me! She said I had to listen to her or the toothfairy wouldn’t come. So I told her that the toothfairy doesn’t exist!”

She said I had to listen to her or the toothfairy wouldn't come. So I told her that the toothfairy doesn't exist! Click To Tweet

So, what do you do, what do you SAY to a kid in that situation? Has anything like that happened to your kids at school? Let me know! *pokes comment section*

 

The Insider’s Guide to Science Kits Part I
Science-y Stuff with the Fighting Princess: Growing Crystals

The Insider’s Guide to Science Kits Part I
Science-y Stuff with the Fighting Princess: Growing Crystals

This is a review of the Kosmos crystal growing kit. It’s not a sponsored post, just our honest opinion. We got no compensation. Some pictures are affiliate links, though – if you buy through them, we’ll get a small compensation for it.

The Fighting Princess is a total science nut. She always wants to figure out how things work, So her Oma gave her a crystal growing kit for her birthday. While I couldn’t find the one she got – well I did, but it doesn’t ship to the US – this one seems to be exactly like the one we have.

So, what’s inside?

What we first noticed when opening the box was the full color manual. The fighting princess started reading the safety rules while I checked out the rest of the box. For all their insisting on proper lab rules, the chemicals inside are not particularly dangerous. My daughter is really strict when it comes to the rules 🙂

There are three different chemicals for making crystals, but the one used in almost all experiments is Potassium Alum Sulfate.

I thought the experiments would be too short, but it turns out they are  perfect. There is a short period of activity, followed by waiting. The crystals take from 24h to a couple of days to grow, so you can start the experiment when you have about half an hour. If you want to do more than one experiment you can – the crystals might take time and the experiments are serial, but there are a few that will work parallel, too.

The result is gorgeous. The Fighting Princess is now obsessed with the pretty Alum gems. She keeps them in a see through treasure chest that comes with the kit.

Once we run out of Alum, we’ll simply get a pound of the stuff from Amazon. She is currently planning to make crystals for all her friends as holiday presents next year, so we’ll get some in September. I will experiment with colors too. I let you know how that goes.

What age is it for?

It is marketed as 10+, but Fighting Princess had no problems at all. She understands what is happening and why the crystals grow and the tasks are pretty easy. So for gifted kids interested in science I’d say 7 and up – but with the help of an adult you could start earlier, if they like the topic.

Is it worth getting?

Absolutely. While we are extremely happy with the kit we have, crystal growing kits are pretty popular. As long as you grow alum crystals, they should work similarly.
If you don’t want to buy a kit, some alum and a mason jar will do. There are a lot of wonderful tutorials online. Here is one on wikihow – very easy to understand.

What is next?

This is the first part – I plan to add more, if that is something you want to read. Coming next is a short one on excavation kits, but I’m open to suggestions. Let me know in the comments section!
Did you grow crystals as a kid?

 

 

10 Boardgames for gifted children
Board games are good for the brain - and a lot of fun for the family!

10 Boardgames for gifted children
Board games are good for the brain - and a lot of fun for the family!

We as a family play a lot of games. Card games, board games, role playing games – it is a bunch of fun for the family. And very good for your brain, too, if you pick the right kind of game! I made a list of 10 of my favourite brain games. If your kids are anything like mine, prepare to be annihilated! At most of these, one or both of my older kids can beat me – but not always! The pictures link to Amazon; they are affiliate links. If you click them and buy through Amazon, I will get a tiny bit of money to keep the blog running and to put fresh coffee in my cup 🙂

What makes a board game a great game for a family?

A good family game for me is a game that has enough strategy as to offer different strategies to win the game but enough luck so that the little ones don´t get crushed. I also do not believe in holding back and letting children win. I do not mind getting the outside track to make it harder for me, but it is really important that children learn to lose, to win and to think.

1. Set

One of my absolute favourite games. Very, very easy to learn the rules, hard to spot the sets you need – and a perfect game for those bright, gifted little minds.  Be prepared to lose, though. I’m a good player – my daughter beat me on her third try.

2. Memory

Matching games are truly a classic – and if you can beat a seven year old, you are really, really good. There are several games you can get, I picked Moana because we currently LOVE that movie. But you can get this game pretty much everywhere, with all kind of pictures.

3. Story cubes

And now for something completely different…
This isn’t for the pattern recognizing, logical part of your brain. It’s not even a board game in the classical sense. It’s just a bunch of cubes with pictures on them – and kids with story driven minds like the Ninja will go absolutely bonkers over these. You can use them on long car rides, too – and there is no winner or looser in this game.

4. Galaxy Truckers

Now we’re going into deep, deep geek territory. This is great for older kids, and for kids with interest in Space – and it has a hilarious description! If you can get your hands on them, all the other board games by the same author, Vlaada Chvatil, are gold, too!

5. Ninja vs. Ninja (or Pirate vs. Pirate)


This is a fun one! It’s a very short game of tactics. It only takes about 15 minutes, so it’s not so bad if you lose – just challenge your opponent to another round! Ninja vs. Ninja doesn’t seem to be available at the moment – but Pirates is fun as well!

6. Robot Turtles

Are your kiddos interested in Computer games? The answer to this is probably yes – at least with most of them. This board game is a cool tool for future computer geeks (or IT personnel). It teaches the basics of programming – and its a lot of fun, too!

7. King of Tokyo (or King of New York)

This is just a fun game where you get to play a huge monster and destroy a city. Not as much a brain game as the others, just one of those board games that is hilarious to play for the whole family. Lots of additions for this game – even a Draccus has been made!

8. Dixit

This is something very, very different! It is a very creative game, that features beautiful pictures. You have to describe them in Words, movement or song (anything, really) and everyone else has to find a card that fits the description as well. It is one of those board games where it doesn’t matter who wins.

9. Hanabi

A highly challenging card game! You don’t see your own cards, and everyone else does. And talking about it is highly restricted. This is a game that you play together, not against each other.

 

10. Kingdom Builder

Back to the classical board game. A game for young strategists that changes every time you play. Best played with 2-3 people.
The base game isn’t available on Amazon, so I linked the big box – this one is playable for up to five people.

Honestly, I could go on and on about board games – we have about 200 at home and love playing as a family. I’ll probably make more lists like this in the future 🙂

What about you? Do you play games with your kids? What are your favourites? Do any of the games in this list sound interesting to you? Let me know in the comments section, please!

You won’t believe what my 10 year old said about consent!
God, consent and the Virgin Mary

You won’t believe what my 10 year old said about consent!
God, consent and the Virgin Mary

Did god ask mary if she wanted to have a baby? My ten year old asks an important question about consentConsent is a recurring topic in our house. I talk to my kids about it – and apparently I don’t do so bad.

I was in the car with the kids a couple of weeks ago and we talked about the Jesus story.  We live in a pretty catholic country and I know the kids will be bombarded with stories about baby Jesus and Mary and (for reasons that are completely inexplicable to me) the little donkey. Among other places, they hear that stuff at school, too. And while I could probably file a lawsuit, I don’t wish to do so for several reasons. I do not want to be “That Mom”, and I simply don’t have the time for stuff like that.

So, I decided to bite the bullet and talk about Jesus – in about the same tone I would talk about other fairy tales. My kids are very interested in the whole thing – The Ninja is currently into greek gods, so the concept of goods impregnating beautiful young women isn’t totally alien to him. But I notice him squirming while I talk and ask him what’s wrong.

Mom, did god ask Mary if she wanted to have a baby? Click To Tweet

“Mom, did god ask Mary if she wanted to have a baby?” I told him that he didn’t (at least I don’t think it is mentioned in the bible…) and he says, with a certain conviction, “then he isn’t a good, loving god”.

My ten year old wants to know if the christian god asked for Marys consent. And while we have so many parenting fails in our lives as Moms and Dads, its the little things like this that give us hope – Apparently the talks about consent resonated with him. And that is a good thing.

Now what?

I actually have a lot of fun with that quote. Wherever I find christians, I ask them about this. I mention, of course that my ten year old is aking that question, not me. I’m just the messenger…

It is absolutely hillarious to see them scramble for an answer. If they come with phrases like “Mary knew it was an honor”, I mention the greek gods. They love that!

So, your mission (should you choose to accept it) is this: Go forth and ask some christians about god, consent and the virgin Mary… and please, Please,  PLEASE let me know how it went!

11 Reasons You Should be Talking To Your Kids About Consent
Its not that hard, either!

11 Reasons You Should be Talking To Your Kids About Consent
Its not that hard, either!

Why you should start talking aabout consent with your kids now

So, my older kids are seven and ten. They know about the technicalities of having sex and making babies, but not a lot more. But one topic comes up constantly: Consent. You see, to me, a big part of sex ed for my kids is teaching them about consent.

So, we all are on the same page when it comes to consent, right? It’s really important to get beforehand, and it is a good idea to check in with your partner during sex – and some people can’t give consent. OK, same page, right?

What we tend to forget in all the discussions is that consent isn’t an exclusively sexual thing. It applies to all kinds of situations – and it’s important in daycare already.

If you’re a little stumped as how to get started with that, I found a fantastic post about the topic by Julie Gillis, Jamie Utt, Alyssa Royse and Joanna Schroeder over on HuffingtonPost. So, here are my reasons why we all need to talk to our kids.

  • Its not always about sex

Sex Ed tends to scare parents, I know. None of us really want to have “the talk”, breaking it down into a couple smaller talks makes life easier. Works in lots of other areas of life, too!

  • Its an easy, straight-forward topic

I know we all like those. Talking to your kids about consent in non-sexual situations is really easy. Talk about consent when playing games or touching. My youngest doesn’t like to kiss people, so that was a good starting point for us.

  • Its not a slippery slope. Consent is easy!

This is true for sexual and nonsexual situations. Just ask yourself three quick questions: Is it affirmative? Is it enthusiastic? Is it ongoing? The answer to all three should be a resounding YES.

  • Empathy with other people is a good thing

Let your kids know that other peoples feeling should be respected when possible. Of course there are situations where this doesn’t apply (I’m not going to stop posting my personal opinion on my private facebook account because someone doesn’t like what I want to say…), but you know, life is easier if we all respect the fact that other people have feelings.

  • It teaches them that their consent matters

You just have to ask for their consent and respect their decision. They should get used to being respected.

  • It teaches that their Body belongs to them and no one else

This connects strongly with the last point – if they and their bodily autonomy are respected, they hopefully will not assume that they belong to someone else.

  • It empowers them

Hopefully enough to state their opinion and say NO when they are not consenting.

  • Talking about consent may not be part of sex ed in school

Sadly, that’s still true for lots of countries!

  • It helps them to see problematic situations

When they see something happening against the will of one of the participants they should do something. Talk to them to see if they know when to step in, call an adult or call the police. A girl being cornered at a party and maybe touched? They should know that they can and should intervene.

  • It keeps them safe

We all want to keep our little ones safe. Teaching them about consent will not prevent rape, but it should lower the odds, right?

  • It keeps other people safe

Listen, I know we all think that our kids would never sexually assault someone. But a lot of kids do, and part of that is simply that nobody taught them about affirmative, ongoing, enthusiastic consent.

 

So, It seems to me that there really isn’t an argument to be made against it. How and when did you start talking to your kids about consent?

 

10 Reasons Why We Still Celebrate Christmas As Atheists
I am sick and tired of hearing that it's not MY holiday!

10 Reasons Why We Still Celebrate Christmas As Atheists
I am sick and tired of hearing that it's not MY holiday!

Why we celebrate christmas as atheistsI admit it, Christmas is a big thing in our family. I loved it as a kid, I still love it today. Delicious cookies, candles, lights, time for the family and traditional “Gemütlichkeit” – what is not to love about this?
But if you’ve ever been on social media around the winter holidays, you know all about the so called “war on christmas” and that only Jesus is the “reason for the season”.

So, we don’t belive in God, Jesus, the virgin birth and all that goes with it – why do we celebrate?

  • Slowing down

    To me, Christmas and Advent are a time for slowing down. It gets dark so early, I love sitting down around our dinner table and play board games, drink some spiced apple juice and enjoy eachothers company

  • Focusing on the Family

    My focus around christmas always goes to family and friends. We make the time to visit friends and spend time together. Singing together, sharing home made cookies – there is nothing inherently christian about this.Sharing food, light and warmth at the darkest time of the year predates christianity by a few millennia

  • It was a pagan holiday first.

    It has been discussed so many times, I don’t think I even have to say it anymore. Most of our “Christmas”-traditions have been around longer than the church. People have always marked the solstices by celebrating!

  • God” can’t punish me for it

    Why should we NOT celebrate? No one will punish us for our blasphemic behaviour because the existence of god is so unlikely that it can be dismissed without further thought.

  • Why should we miss out on all of the beautiful fun and silliness

    Kissing under the mistletoe? Eating good food with friends? Hanging up lights? Putting up a tree? An advent calendar? Presents? Music? Silly sweaters? Crafts and holiday cards? We can have is so much fun without the religious part of that holiday. Presents? Music? Silly sweaters? Crafts and holiday cards? We can have is so much fun without the religious part of… Click To Tweet

  • Christmas songs are a great goodness

    I even watch the Country christmas special.

  • Giving and receiving gifts is a lot of fun

    I love  home made crafts from the kids. I enjoy my husbands thoughtful gifts. I delight in finding the perfect craft, the best decoration, wrapping presents, and bringing joy to other people

  • It is part of our cultural heritage

    Austria is a very catholic country. Christmas is basically unavoidable here. Even if we locked our kids up for the month of devember, we then would have to shut out the electronic part of the world, too. Every Computergame, every app will have a holiday special. Every movie, every TV show has a holiday episode. I do not want to keep my kids from that big a part of our culture.

  • Upholding traditions from our childhood

    My kids may not get to sing in church at night (a tradition my mom and I had for many years), but there are many things that connect them to their grand parents and even thir great-grand parents. We eat fried fish and potato salad on christmas eve (austrian tradition), as their dad has done with his parents when he was young. His parents both did that as kids with their parents, too – so our three little monsters are connected to their ancestors.

  • The moment the kids see the tree

    And this, most of all, is always worth all the efford. Dad takes the kids out to an indoor playground on december 24th and I get the day to decorate the tree, and make food. When they come back, the door to the living room is closed and will only open after dinner. So we eat dinner (the aforementioned fish and potato salad) fairly early. I go in and light the tree (real candles only on christmas eve – I dont want to light them later, when the tree is dryer) and ring a little bell. When they come in, their eyes are shining.
    This is why I do it all. Those shining eyes, and I get four sets of them! And yes, I’m counting my husband here 🙂

So we will continue to celebrate christmas.And enjoy it. And Stop apologizing for it.

How about you? Do you celebrate christmas, even if it isn’t part of your religion?

 

Homeschooling – not just for religious nutjobs!
Why I wanted to homeschool - and then didn't

Homeschooling – not just for religious nutjobs!
Why I wanted to homeschool - and then didn't

I wanted to homeschool my son – in this post i’m exlporing my reasons for it and how everything happened differently than i planned it.

This is an old post from my previous blog and it will get an update soon, I promise!

Hello there,

It looks like i’m not going to homeschool my son next year.
Let’s step back and take a look at what happened. Why I, who have NEVER considered homeschooling to be for anyone other than religious fundamentalists, seriously planned to do this in the first place.
1). The situation in viennese Schools isn’t the best overall, but our district is fairly catastrophic. I really don’t care where anyone comes from or where anyones parents come from, but i would like for all first graders to be able to speak the language that is used for teaching, thank you very much. If they don’t, they need to learn the language as quickly as possible to be able to understand their classmates and teachers. Yes, there should be a fund for that, that’s a good thing to spend tax money on.
If there are a couple of kids that aren’t fluent in german, that’s no big deal. They will learn the language soon enough. But in the Schools that are closest to our home, there are perhaps two or three kids starting each year that ARE fluent in german, and no teacher in the world can teach 20+ kids in a language they don’t understand.
2). I know my kids need social contacts and the whole peer group thing is important, but i don’t like our district very much and i definetly don’t like its people. Is that really who i want my kids to hang out with and learn from?
3). I’ve seen with a couple of kids that the start of school stopped their fun they had with learning. My son is smart and interested in many things and i’m dreading the time where learning will become a chore for him. I would love for that point in time to be very, very far away. I have an examle of that – my friends daughter is very smart, but impatient and a bit of a wild child. She’s also very exact when it comes to coloring or glueing, so stuff like that takes a long time. The normal classroom situation is just not what she needs. She’s always behind and has to take work home that she didn’t finish in addition to her homework. She’s smart – it’s not like she can’t do the work, everything just takes soooo long because it has to be perfect and then she gets bored and distracted. It takes her two to three hours every day to get that stuff done. That girl is eight years old. She loves reading, but she doesn’t have the time to read much…

So, these were the main reasons for me to consider homeschooling, and i actually started preparing for it. I read so much, mostly things from mothers who homeschool, i had a couple of wonderful conversations with some fantastic people, and i was quite confident that i would be, in fact, able to pull this off. ’ So what changed?

…but then

1). I found a school that I actually like. It is fairly close and they have good tutoring programs for kids whose german isn’t too good, they start with english in first grade and they have a model class that i really, really liked. They teach the grades one through four in one classroom, with five to eight kids per grade. The kids have three to five years to finish the first four grades, and a lot of the work is Montessori based and the kids work things out for themselves.
2). My kids will have to learn to get along with all kinds of people. While i would love to shelter them from all unleasant kids, i can not (and will not) do that. School is a somewhat controlled enviroment to meet these people. If things don’t work, there are grown ups to help.
3). I applied to the school, and even though there are only seven spots this year, we got one of them. My sons best friend is in the same class, she started last fall. Their experience has so far been really good. The homework load is minimal and she can work at her own speed. I know my son will be really fast in math and slow when it comes to coloring, cutting or even writing. Maybe he will not be judged on his weaknesses but his strengths in this class.

I am extremely happy we got in – but with a little bit of sadness mixed in. It would have been a great opportunity. I loved being there for my kids firsts – and now someone else gets to do this. We will continue our study time, i think – greatly reduced, maybe, but it’s not over completely.