Friday, April 30, 2010

A Bestest Day

I love it when real life and literature intersect. And they did beautifully last week.
I believe I've mentioned before that I'm currently reading The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White to my children. We had just read about the mother swan building a nest, sitting on the eggs for 35 days, and the cygnets (baby swans) hatching out. The next day when we were leaving a play date at a local park, a beautiful opportunity presented itself in which I could bring that book to life for my children. We passed a pond, and I spotted some ducklings following their mother across the street. I pulled over, got the kids out of the car, and we went for a nature walk.
A couple geese plucked grass next to the pond. When we approached, one postured and flapped his wings to look intimidating toward us, much as the cob (the father swan) did in the chapter book to ward off intruders.
Turtles sunned on a log in the water, and my children quickly learned what it means to be quiet when observing wildlife when the turtles vanished into the water at the sounds of their voices. It took several patient minutes of silent waiting for them to re-emerge for us to get this shot.
And we found the ducklings.
My children were delighted, their little voices shrill with excitement as they watched the little ducks swim in the water, then climb ashore at their mother's summons and huddle together to enjoy the mid-April sunshine.
As we headed home, my daughter declared it one of the bestest days ever. Yes, sweetheart, it certainly was.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Worldview Myopia

I find it ironic how willingly blind humans are to our own faults, while seeing entirely too clearly the shortcomings in others. This worldview myopia affects each of us. No one is immune. Conservatives, liberals and independents. Christians, Jews and Muslims. Protestants and Catholics. Men and women. Heterosexuals and homosexuals. Whites, Blacks, Hispanics. Citizens and illegal immigrants. Any other groups pitted against each other by differing opinions, goals, and beliefs. Every segment of society is guilty. Those most infected with the disease often are in the greatest denial.
I'm not preaching tolerance and "let's all just get along" at all costs. I'm not encouraging relativism and "truth as you see it." I'm just making an observation about myself and everyone around me after reading an interesting thread on Facebook.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Great Way to Learn

I had a very active imagination as a child. Combine that with the fact that I had no siblings and lived in a neighborhood with no other children who liked to play, and I had to entertain myself most of the time. I got very good at it.
Forward thirty years, and I now have two children of my own. With two children, pretend play is still a hit, but it gets even more inventive! Wow, the fun I missed out on without a little brother.
We're currently reading The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White. My daughter ran around all morning, pretending she was Lewis. That meant I didn't hear her voice at all. Anytime I'd ask them a question, she'd get in front of me, huge smile on her face, and nod vigorously and flap her "wings." My three-year-old son was the cob (the father swan) and he ran around flapping his wings, ko-hoh-ing and talking a lot. The area rug in our living room is now a pond, and I'm the mommy swan.
Perhaps the strangest thing I've ever seen them pretend happened after they watched an episode of the BBC documentary Planet Earth. My daughter decided the next morning that she wanted to be the baby caribou that got caught and eaten by the wolf. Little brother, naturally, was the wolf.
I figured that was normal, but she went back to her Baby Caribou act this morning (a month later) before she broke out in her Mute Swan demo. Between those bits, she said she was the fish that hides her babies in her mouth (cichlids).
This is pretty typical of kids, I know. But it tells me they're paying attention when I'm reading those chapters at bedtime or when they're watching educational stuff. Just as much so as when they're watching "Little Einsteins" or "Max and Ruby." And I believe, from my own limited observations, that pretend play helps cement the things they've learned.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Going Green Isn't Always the Greenest Thing to Do

We're fairly health-conscious. I bake my own organic bread, feed us organic whenever possible, cook healthy meals, recycle and try to use environmentally friendly products. So it just made sense to switch to compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs a couple years ago.
But after two years of trying to use CFL's exclusively, I'm done. I have no desire to continue pouring money into extremely expensive bulbs that contain mercury (my kids have knocked over lamps and broken four of them), burn out way before their advertised 25,000 hour life span (I've lost count of how many have become too dim to read by, or even worse just stopped working, after just a few months), melt and smoke and die in the fixtures (this happened three times), and take half an hour to warm up enough to see with (again, lost count). There's NO WAY that these things are more "efficient" with their current design flaws. Maybe in 10 years, after the technology has improved.
For now, it's back to the old reliable: the Edison incandescent that lasts our family an average of two years, doesn't cause toxic environmental contamination or require special cleanup procedures if it gets broken, doesn't cost a fortune, and has beautiful color.
My life is warm again. Ahh...