NASA Family gathering.

I recall times when I was a kid when we'd gather as a family. Mostly it was at meals, and a fair amount around the television. I don't look back at TV with any fond memories, though. Even as a kid I found most TV to be a waste of time, and that's exactly what I used it for - to burn through my childhood because I was clueless as to how better spend it.

Tonight I gathered my own little family around the television. We didn't watch any sports or some milquetoast, censor-safe drama or comedy, though. We watched NASA TV live and saw the JPL team guide the Mars Phoenix through EDL (entry, descent, and landing). My 8 year-old son and I were excited and waited on the edge of our seats during the "Seven Minutes of Terror." It went flawlessly, though, and we cheered with the engineers at the JPL mission control when the telemetry showed touchdown.

There are times when I wonder if I'm doing everything right as a parent, but tonight there was no doubt. Getting him excited about science, engineering and math and instilling in him a love for knowledge and exploration that spurs the growth of all of humanity... I can think of no better things to help him as he develops.