Nerf gun!?

My son Mark has been after me begging and pleading me for a Nerf Gun. Oh God, the persistence of the 9 year old boy..literally eating my brains out, and of my wife too.

What on earth is a Nerf Gun now??

For him it is like the pinnacle of his aspirations, the dream toy that he wants, the best thing that he can own and play with. And I didn’t know what on earth was this Nerf gun. Sounded too much like Barf or some other four letter words that came into my mind… oh, forget it.

Anyway his begging and pleading every day was getting to me. I told him that he will have to spend his pocket money for it. He replied that I can use from his bank account! I realized that I shouldn’t have told him about some money I had put in his account to teach him the concept of saving and investing.

Atlast today was the day we both decided that we will buy him this Nerf Gun…as we were going to buy a birthday gift for his friend’s birthday.

And here he is with the great NERF gun!

Right away he had loaded it and got ready for shooting! I made him a target [glass surface of a partition. The Nerf gun has suction tipped sponge bullets, and works on a air gun principle where you charge it and shoot, six bullets in the barrel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As parents we sometimes wonder at how these new inventions are made and how they catch the attention of our kids. I think I am going to research this subject a bit more…but later, now it is my turn to shoot with the Nerf gun.

Adios friends, thanks for reading!

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What is Christmas really?

What does Christmas really mean? Why is it called Happy or Merry?

 

What does Christmas have to do with Jesus Christ? What about drinks, partying and Santa Claus?

To answer these questions let us start from the beginning…

 

Does God exist?

When you look at a painting, you know that there was a painter. In the same way, using your mind, when you look at creation in all its complicated design, you understand that there has to be a Creator, whom we would call God.

 

Can you tell me more about this God?

He is powerful and very wise [obviously, to have created us and the world around in such a complex yet interdependent way]. God is Holy, God is good, and He is full of love. God hates lying, hatred, partiality, greed and other sins that we as humans tend to commit.  Yet, the Bible says, He loves the person who sins.

 

Who is Jesus Christ?

Jesus was not just a good man, a great teacher or an inspired prophet. God himself came to earth as Jesus Christ. He was born to a virgin. He led a sinless life. He died at the age 33. He was buried. He came alive again on the third day. He ascended into heaven where he became both Lord and Christ.

 

Why did God come as the man Jesus Christ?

We humans are made in image of God. Due to our tendency to sin, we have been separated from God and his plans for us. God hates sin, and a just God has to punish sin. God out of his immense love for us came to earth to bear the punishment for the sins committed by us.

Jesus’ death and resurrection on our behalf satisfied God’s requirement – complete provision for our sin. This Jesus and no one else, is qualified to be the remedy for my sin and yours.

 

What is sin?

First, we must understand that we are separated from God. The chasm dividing us is both wide and deep. We inherited a fatal defect at birth. As a result, we have lived our lives independently from him. The Bible calls this Sin: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

If we can’t come to grips with the fact that sin separates us from God, we’ll never come home spiritually.

Sin is anything which we do for selfish reasons – as a disobedience to God’s will. Usually it leads to a feeling of guilt.

Won’t following the laws mentioned in the Holy books save us from sin?

Holy Books are like traffic lights, warning us of danger. But do traffic lights save us if we do not follow them? We all have a tendency to sin, disobey God and His laws.

Won’t fear of punishment make us follow the law then?

Not for long. The tendency to sin is in our heart and it cannot go away unless through self-effort or will power. If your child obeys you only out of fear, and not out of love, would you be happy? In the same way, God wants us to follow Him out of love for Him.

How can we love God? Can’t we generate that love for God on our own?

No. The love God had for us is unconditional, and it is only when we realize what He has done for us that we can really love Him. Once you realize the full extent of His love for you, your life will change and He will give you a new heart as promised in the Bible.

What is the punishment for sin?

The Bible says in Isaiah 59:2 your sins have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you. And Romans 6:23 the wages of sin is death. DO NOT BE DECEIVED!  “Death” does not mean you cease to exist!

Cowards turn away from God, and unbelievers, and the corrupt, and murderers, and the immoral, and those who practice witchcraft, and idol worshipers, and all liars doom in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. This is the second death.

How can we pay the price for our sins then?

No one can pay the price for their own sins. The punishment for sin is death. Left to ourselves and to our own religions and their ways, we would all perish. Before God, our efforts to pay for our sins, by doing penance or good works or going for pilgrimages, are like dirty rags.

After physical death, your spirit will come before God. He will ask you how you have paid the price for your sin. If you depend on the good deeds you have done, He has to punish you with eternal separation from God, in the place called Hell where the fire burns forever.

 

 

Then who can save us?

God alone!  He did for us what we could never do for ourselves.

Ephesians 2:8-9 for by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God–not because of works, lest any man should boast.

What is this grace?

Grace is God taking on Himself the punishment due on us,  by dying on the Cross. There is no concept of a merciful loving God who has paid the price for our sins by Himself in any other Holy Scripture or philosophy on earth except the Holy Bible.

Also Jesus Christ, since He was without any sin right from birth, was the only one who actually could fulfil Gods price, the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all those who believe in Him.

How can God take on human form?

Why not? Who are we to limit God? In true terms, celebrate Christmas which marks the appearing or manifestation of God.

How did Jesus pay for my sins?

He was the only human who lived a sinless life. God’s standards are much higher than ours. God demanded a perfect sinless life to be given up as the price for sin. Jesus was the only one who could fulfil that demand. Jesus paid the price for your sins and mine by giving up his own life at the age of 33 on the cross by crucifixion. In my place, He died so that I may live. He came alive after three days and appeared to almost five hundred people for over forty days before ascending to Heaven.

God forgave your sins through Jesus Christ. That is the Good News that the Bible proclaims.

Some people think that Jesus did not die on the cross?

Why would anyone teach you that unless they want you to reject God’s only way out from sin and death for you? If Jesus did not die, and if He did not come alive again on the third day, there remains no other way out for humans to escape the guilt, power and consequences of sin. Also, obviously ten disciples of Jesus and countless martyr’s would not have given up their life to defend a lie.

What must I do then?

Personal repentance is vital in the transformation process.

Repentance literally means “a change of mind.” It is to say to God, “I want to turn toward you and away from the life I’ve lived independently from you. I am sorry for who I’ve been and what I have done and I want to permanently change. I receive your forgiveness, through Jesus Christ, for my sins.”

As your love for God increases, He gives you power to overcome sin! You will find that you are being transformed into a new person, who loves more and follows the law of God out of his own heart’s desire!

God wants you to win, but He will never force you to accept Him. Please take your time, pray and decide. This could be the most important decision in your life. The word of God says now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slanders, and dirty language.

 

Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old evil nature and all its wicked deeds. In its place you have clothed yourselves with a brand-new nature that is continually being renewed as you learn more and more about Christ, who created this new nature within you. Everyone knows that there is no such person as Santa Claus. So if you tell your children there is, then you have LIED to them.

If you tell them there is a Santa Claus who they cannot see or touch, but just believe. Then later in life they find out you lied, and there is no Santa Claus. At the same time you tell them about Santa you tell them about Jesus who they also cannot see, nor touch. Do you not think that they will have a hard time truly believing in Jesus when they get older? All the time having an inner turmoil remembering there was no Santa, so how can there really be a Jesus.

Remember, Santa Claus, partying and drinks have nothing to do with the Christmas of Jesus Christ!

Christmas is not about Santa or presents, it is about Jesus, and is a celebration for the birth of thy savior.

 

My dear brothers and sisters, the only way to give our children a firm foundation that they need, is to never lie to them. We need to teach them the true meaning of Christmas.

 

So Christmas isn’t about giving gifts to each other (which we do also), but it is about the greatest gift ever given, the birth and death of Jesus Christ, and our walk with Him. So this, Christmas consider the gift that God has given you two thousand years ago, and think about your walk with Him.

Don’t let Christ birth and death be in vain, make sure you are ready to meet Him face to face. Accept the gift of eternal Life, God has already purchased it for you, wrapped it with His love, and sent it to you by way of the Cross.

 

Wish you real peace and joy this Christmas and for your life ahead.

 

Stress free in Mumbai? Dream come true

The Times of India-IMRB Quality of Life Survey perceived Mumbaikars as being most stressed among residents of eight mega-cities. Are you surprised?

If you are a homeschooler who has gotten out of the rat-race and fast pace of life, you will read this article differently than most people. And if you are not, there is hope at the end of this article!

 

This is the article in today’s Times of India 15th Dec 2011.

Fast lane leads to more stress than elsewhere

Malathy Iyer | TNN 

    Mumbai’s 24×7 rhythm has earned it many sobriquets, but there is a growing realization that the Maximum City’s never at-sleep tag comes at a costly price — namely, stress. High stress levels, say doctors, result from the zip-zap-zoom lifestyle Mumbaikars are forced to adopt. 
    There is the lure of bigger salaries, better work culture, better infrastructure and opportunities. But if you consider aspects such as travelling like packed sardines, extra-long working hours and near-zero recreation facilities, Mumbaikars don’t have it easy on many fronts. 
    Not surprisingly then, respondents in The Times Of India-IMRB Quality of Life Survey perceived Mumbaikars as being most stressed among residents of eight mega-cities. Mumbai scored a bleak 2 for the parameter Lifestyle (Relaxed) in the category Peace of Mind. 

 



    Psychiatrist Dr. Harish Shetty equates Mumbai’s stress problem with five Is and one M. “There is growing insomnia, irritability, isolation, impulsivity and impotency, and there is a lot of mistrust. All this spells high stress,” he says. 
    The city’s social fabric has also undergone a change. “The city’s strength was its heterogeneity and ability to absorb each and every section of society. But the same factor has now resulted in ghettos based on communities or eating habits,” says Shetty. He also blames competitiveness. “The thirst to keep up with the Joneses seems worse in Mumbai. If your neighbor is going on a foreign trip, you want to keep up.” 
    Psychiatrist Dr. Bharat Shah, who consults at Lilavati Hospital, says, “The city’s geography is such that it doesn’t help one relax.” For instance, travelling either north-south or east-west can be a chore. “The linear layout only results in traffic bottlenecks, be it on roads or the railway,” says Dr Sanjay Kumawat, superintendent at Thane Mental Hospital. 
    Other aspects of travelling also leave Mumbaikars thoroughly stressed out. “There is so much overcrowding that the quality of travel is poor. As a result, one is bound to have a fight with a fellow commuter,” says Dr. Vishal Sawant, who heads the psychiatry department of civic-run Cooper Hospital, Juhu. 
    Mumbaikars find it hard to nullify the harmful effects of stress as rest and recreation is practically an alien concept here. Says Shah, “Blame it on transport or the need for extra competitiveness that forces people to work more, but there is practically no time to rejuvenate or relax. The margin between healthy and unhealthy is becoming narrower.” 
    The strong middle-class quality of the city too is being eroded. “Drugs were hitherto unheard of in conservative and middle-class society. But now Vile Parle households are grappling with the habit,” says Shetty. Worse, the extended family support system is no longer around. “For youngsters, celebrations mean heading to a bar,” adds Kumawat. 
    While many Mumbaikars cope with stress by taking up yoga, gym or hobbies, some fail to do so. “Daily stress can become distress. When this distress becomes chronic, there is a high chance of depression,” says Shah. 
    There are no easy solutions, but Shetty recommends a simple strategy: smile and talk more with one another. 
TENSE TIMES 
A 2010 survey conducted by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations found that India’s rapid economic expansion had boosted corporate profits and employee incomes, but had sparked a surge of workplace stress and lifestyle diseases. Commissioned by Regus, 57 % workers in the corporate sector in India (including Mumbai) reported an increase in stress over two years. The focus on profitability stressed 45 % of Indian workers.
[End of TOI article]

 

Money is seen as more important than man.

 

WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?

There are a few individuals and families who have taken a conscious decision to come out of the hurry-worry cycle that is Mumbai.

They are not following the crowd. They are setting the pace, being in the fore front of a different life style that many can only dream of.

 

Wow, how can that be, you may well ask!

 

There are a few pre-requisites before you can do that though!

Firstly you need to be aware of the purpose of your life.

For many people it is simply earning money, for satisfying their own needs like a house, a vacation or some other stuff which they can accumulate.

For such people, what gives them a sense of worth is their possessions and accomplishments.

If you are one of them, relax.

You are valuable enough as you are! The very fact that you have life shows how much love and value your Creator has for you, does it not?

But what if you believe in the ‘No God’ theory?

That is a big problem, because then you may believe that you have no implicit value, because you have just ‘evolved’ accidentally or something! That probably explains why you work so hard to be valued, get acceptance, love or respect.

Please think about it seriously. Stress is the direct result of this never ending working to gain.

Beliefs are very important, and there are good resources to help you know the truth about these matters.

Secondly you need to identify your priorities.

Is it work or family or something else? Like yourself?

Jesus said simply “Mathew 6:21
your heart will always be where your treasure is.” That means the area where you spend your maximum time and energy is where your heart really is, despite whatever you may talk or feel.

I would request you to re-evaluate your life priorities in the light of the eternal value it has for you. This life is short, it will soon be past. Would you not like your life to last beyond this life time?

Want to know more?

Write to me at origins4me@gmail.com

Homeschoolers in Mumbai

Mumbai Homeschoolers: Brief account of our recent get togethers

In India, there are many parents who have chosen to educate their children out of ‘school’. They form a small but growing number of intelligent, creative and bold individuals who are now also getting aware of the need to join together as a National Body, with a structure, to best represent their interests to the Government.

In India Homeschooling is not yet legal or illegal. Like in many other areas, the Indian Government has not given a clear decision either way. Thanks to Mike from the HSLDA and others, we are assured of support from all over the world in this aspect of educating our own children.

This nascent movement has brought many individuals together and has also resulted in many fun filled moments for us as we met for common activities.

Some of the recent outings we had as homeschoolers included a trip to the National Park in North Mumbai during the rains in July 2011. We carried snacks, and field science kits to catch and observe specimens [released back after studying them]. The children enjoyed the time together, exploring the natural environment and the stream.

It also resulted in greater bonding among the children from diverse backgrounds and staying miles apart, as Mumbai is a large city spread out over a hundred kilometers.

The stream was in full flow at the time as it was the rainy season, and many amphibians, reptiles and other animals could be observed.

One interesting observation we made as parents was that none of the kids asked each other “Which school do you go to?”!

We had another field trip to the National Park in August 2011 when a Biology expert was invited by a Homeschooling parent Poonam Kurani and she gave a wonderful talk explaining in detail the flora and fauna of the park. We parents also learnt quite a bit.

Next we had a bird watching expedition at the Silonda trail at the National Park in October 2011. This was an early morning walk with a young naturalist from Mumbai. We saw almost 30 species of birds and identified them with the guide book too. Besides that we also saw many insects, reptiles and spiders. The kids as well as adults were amazed at the diversity of God’s creation and their adaptability to diverse environments.

Some of the birds we saw included the Ashy tailed drongo pictured here below.

We also had a trip to the Nehru Science center in December 2011, where we could see science in action. We also saw Science projects from across the country done by students.

After that we went to the Nehru Planetarium and saw the skies come alive on their massive dome theatre. There were quite a few exhibits at the Planetarium too.

Pose!

Then we all gathered at the terrace of a family from Dadar and witnessed the total lunar eclipse with our naked eyes and with a reflector telescope, besides having games, quizzes and fun there, literally bringing the roof down with the children running and playing.

We discussed how eclipses are formed, and different topics under the moon!

So that is how homeschooling is catching up and spreading in Mumbai and other parts of India and this is a small glimpse of our life here in Mumbai.

We do hope you enjoyed this short article and please pray that we would continue to enjoy the freedom to educate our children out of school to make them good citizens of India and the world.

Dr. Mathew S P

www.drspmathew.wordpress.com

Hi Tech Learning?

Where is ‘education’ headed in the near future? It seems we are getting more dependent on electricity consuming internet linked gadgets. Are they good?

Here is an article from Today’s newspaper:

Tech boost worries psychiatrists

Shreya Bhandary | TNN Times of India 14th Dec 2011

Schools are slowly moving ahead with the times and technology is bringing about major changes in classrooms as well as teaching techniques. However, effects on children due to exposure to new gadgets cannot be ignored and this has been a standing debate between educationists as well as psychiatrists across the globe.

Is this good learning?

“Schools in the US and UK have done research and found that technology, when used rightly, helps in the overall development of a child,” said Vandana Lulla, director-principal, Podar International School, Santa Cruz (W). She added that the school had taken an initiative to make students use the iPad after putting a lot of thought into it.
Psychiatrists are worried about the sudden boost of technology in schools where human interaction is being replaced by latest gadgets. “I wonder if there’ll be proper use or simply abuse of technology provided to children. Especially little children, who may not understand the idea of addiction,” said Dr Sanjay Kumawat, member, Bombay Psychiatric Society. He added that once students get involved in gaming and the internet, they may lose interest in studies.
Many quoted cases where too much exposure to the internet and gadgets had led to addiction which needed psychiatric help. “Bonding between the teacher and students is the best method of education, everything else is an accessory. Students remember schools for the personal interaction they have had with teachers and colleagues, so gadgets will only reduce interaction time,” said psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty.
While most schools are taking the initiative to include technology in classrooms to the best, some believe in following old techniques of teaching. “Students are anyway exposed to a lot of media and internet at home so it is important to include human interaction in schools. Even though our school is updated with latest developments in the media, our teaching methods will stay the same,” said Sudeshna Chatterjee, principal, Jamnabai Narsee School, Andheri (W).

The ‘value’ of a college education

‘Many graduates aren’t useful to society’

An article in the Times of India today 12th Dec 2011

by Hemali Chhapia | TNN

A generation ago, the Institute of Science in Mumbai was an epicentre for high-end research. It was there that the samples of rock from the moon were analysed and the effect that sulphur dioxide had on plants was studied. Today, many departments in the institution run with single faculty members; some departments have just been shut down.
Just a few kilometres away, Sydenham College, Elphinstone College and the J J School of Art and Architecture have similar tales to tell – the institutions have seen a slow painful decline, asphyxiated by the Maharashtra government’s apathy.
The city’s aided colleges, which make up a thick slice of the educational system, merely carry on from one day to the next, with no maintenance or development grant coming from the state.
Little wonder then that though Mumbai’s colleges received an above average 3.3 rating in The Times Of India-IMRB Quality Of Life Survey, the respondents still perceived institutions in four other cities in a much better light.
There is room for much improvement in many of the city’s institutes. “Something as basic and as central as the course content is not updated regularly,” said Sathaye College principal Kavita Rege. “We have failed in making many of our graduates people who are useful to society,” she added.
While principals like Fr Frazer Mascarenhas, of St Xavier’s College, said that colleges in Delhi were spoilt for all the attention they received, most acknowledged that institutes in Bangalore, Chennai and Pune had moved up the quality ladder of late. “Colleges in Delhi are hyped up. I don’t feel that students from there are any better than those from our city,” said Mascarenhas.
But while the state government’s interest in higher education has depreciated, many universities have promoted autonomy, allowing colleges to exercise the freedom to blossom. The idea has not yet become popular in Mumbai though.
There has been a sort of academic torpor, said many experts, with teachers and academicians merely continuing the same practices that have been followed over the years.
Ruia College principal Suhas Pednekar said that there has been expansion, but it has taken place with scant thought given to quality. “We don’t even try to utilize more technology in our classrooms,” added Pednekar.
But Jai Hind College head Ashok Wadia said colleges in the city were working towards improving their standards, though they were struggling.

These are just a sign of the changing times, feel many Homeschoolers, who feel that this present education system will become extinct just like the dinosaurs of yore!

Once upon a time

This is a scene set many decades into the future……

We zoom into the kid’s bedroom of a family living in a city. It is time for bedtime stories! Did you know that bedtime stories are timeless?!

Mom is with her two kids. They listen with rapt attention, as she tells them a fascinating bedtime story…

“Once upon a time, long long ago, there lived a brother and sister called Kiran and Asha, and they used to go to school.” Said Mom.

“What is school?” Asked her kids in surprise! They had never heard of a school. No one went to school!

“Well, a school was a place where kids used to go to learn. It was like a big building where many students would gather together and learn from a specially trained person called a Teacher” explained Mom.

“Aw, how strange!” exclaimed the kids! “Why would they do that?”

“Well, you know, long ago, people used to think that kids can learn only in schools” said Mom.

The boy was quite surprised by that! “Why would they think like that? Wasn’t there any internet and online learning or virtual teaching in those days?”

The mom was at a loss for words. She tried to explain that a school had a room where kids of the same age used to sit together and a teacher used to come and teach them different subjects.

The kids were amused by this concept.

“Why on earth would you put kids of the same age together, Mom?” chimed in the girl. “It sounds so artificial, I mean where in the world would you find people of the same age working or living together!?”

“Hey Mom, are you sure you are not making this whole thing up?” asked the boy.

“Ofcourse not son! Let me continue with the story so that you get a better idea of this thing called school.” replied Mom.

“Kiran was in a classroom with 40 other kids the same age. The teacher used to talk, and the kids used to listen to the teacher. If the teacher could not be heard because of the din in the classroom she would shout at the kids or threaten them with punishment to make them to listen. The teacher would work very hard to try to teach kids”

The boy asked “Why would the teacher shout at the kids? Are they her own?”

No son, said the mom. The teacher wanted the kids to study well and score in the exams.

“What are exams?” Asked both of them together!

“Exams are where the kids are given questions to answer every few months. The children used to study very hard to get good marks in the exams.” Said Mom

Ok, you mean they used to have exams to remember everything they learnt? asked the boy.

“No son, Based on their marks they were able to select different careers”

“You mean, the kids used to give exams and get marks but not remember what they learnt?” asked the girl in puzzlement

“Well, yes that was usually the case, dear…but there were exceptions” said the mother lamely, but she had to admit the exam system had been a failure almost from the start.

The kids were still quite puzzled!

“This whole school and exam thing sounds like a fairy tale story, or more like a horror story Mom!” exclaimed the boy!

The whole school and exam thing seemed too strange for the kids, so..yeah…old fashioned!

Here they could learn anything they wanted right in their own rooms, or they could go with their parents to study the real world outside!

They could play with other children when it was cool in the morning, and in the early evenings before it became too dark. They could also learn on the job about various practical things to do around the house, helping their parents and others. It was simply beyond their comprehension that such a thing as ‘school’ would exist!

Both the children were relieved! “Mom, thank God we have no more schools now! We realized how blessed we are! Thank God we are learning at home! Good night Mom, love you Mom!”

This is a peek into the future. Are you prepared?

Here are some useful sites….to help you get going..into the future!

http://homeschoolingindia.in/

http://indiahomeschoolers.ning.com/