I made this!



Student created cover art. Amazing software from Balfour. Lots of photo contributions from parents. Sommer kids can look back on the year and cherish the memories.

Programming Apps for Kids

programming apps for kidsI recently reviewed several programming apps for Common Sense Media and wanted to give the rundown of a few hits, especially as summer approaches and kids have some time to focus on new projects. Developers are sensitive to exposing kids, especially girls, to STEM. What’s pretty cool about apps to introduce kids to programming is that meta element of a developer writing an app to help kids do what she does. Who knows better than a developer what future developers need to know?

I’ve seen the question posed of when is a good time to introduce kids to programming, and I’d say seven or so, for most kids. Not all of these apps would appeal to a seven-year-old, though, so read the reviews and think about your kid to decide what is most fitting.

My Robot Friend — $3.99

My Robot Friend is a LeapFrog app, but don’t think it’s for preschoolers. It’s probably the easiest entree in to the programming apps, though. Kids drag and drop directions to move a robot to its destination, eliminating obstacles in the way. Playing gets kids thinking in the steps and commands involved in coding.

Hopscotch HD — Free

With the colorful characters (sprites) and story-like environment, Hopscotch seems well-geared for typical girls. (I write typical because I know, since I live with one, that some girls will prefer the robots to the cutesy characters.) Kids drag and drop chucks of code in to place to create their programs.

Cargo-Bot — Free

Cargo-Bot was programmed on an iPad — pretty cool — to get kids thinking like programmers. Kids drag and drop commands into place to direct a robotic arm, and each command introduces kids to a programming concept. My programmer husband played it, too, and was pleased with the concepts included and the level of challenge.

Codea¬† — $9.99

Codea is a program designed specifically to write programs for the iPad. Cargo-Bot was written using Codea, which is based on the Lua programming language. Codea reminds me of sitting down with my Commodore 128 and the user manual and copying their programs and then altering them to see what happened. Kids can easily do the same with Codea and the many sample programs provided.


Happy Mother’s Day!

The Facebook Profile pic:

DSCF0912Aren’t we cute?DSCF0910


The reality of some moments:


As always, it was a tearful and joyoful Mother’s Day. Yesterday, we had a crafting / sewing day at church to make Little Dresses for Africa. Maybe I was already feeling raw, or maybe that triggered it. But I can’t sew. Granted not having a mom is no excuse for that. I can certainly take a class or teach myself, but yesterday, watching all these other women sewing and hearing some talking about getting their moms to help them finish up just hit me HARD. And, being Amanda, I am not good at all at hiding my emotions, so I tearfully packed up my sewing machine, took it to the car, said I was done (and when someone asked if I at least had fun, answered “NO! I did not.”) and proceeded to set up chairs for the next day’s service. Sweetly, two ladies thought they had offended me and came to apologize, and without going in to details, I assured them they did not offend me and that my emotions were not externally influenced at all. It was all me, internal stuff. Basically, I started my Mother’s Day pity party early.

I had my outfit and accessories, including my Mother’s Day heart-with-a-hole necklace, all picked out when I opened my gifts this morning. Elizabeth picked out two nightgowns for me. She wears nightgowns and wants me to, as well, instead of my usual pajama pants and t-shirt. And Caroline picked out a sweet silver necklace — a heart with a heart inside it that says MOM and YOU ARE LOVED on the back. I thought in my mind that I should wear that and it alone to church — let my daughter’s love fill that hole in my heart. Wouldn’t it be nice and neat if I could just close up that hole like that? But I wore both. Maybe another year, but I’m not holding high hopes for that. I can have a perfectly full heart, even with a little hole in it.



Daring Greatly

Last weekend I got away for two nights with the ladies from St. Julian’s. Church friends, new friends, and old friends came together — two dear friends who don’t officially call St. Julian’s home came, too — spend the weekend having fun and discussing shame and vulnerability. I was a small group leader, and I must admit, feel pretty inadequate at it. I gather from my friends that their groups opened up a lot more than mine did, and I know that is because I didn’t set the right tone. I tried to share, but I do think I already had a healthy shame attitude and that hindered my vulnerability as a group leader.

I enjoyed my time with friends, though, and at the house on the river in Gruene. The house was great! It slept 24 and had many bathrooms. I slept upstairs in an open area with two queen beds. We had a bathroom with a toilet and sink and next to it, by my bed, was a closet — that housed the shower! Talk about using every bit of space!