When I was a kid, there was no internet and there were no smartphones. The same is true for when I was a high school and a college student. The practical upshot of this meant that I was lost a lot of the time.
BUT! The flowers are blooming, the cats are sneezing, and I can leave the apartment without 20 layers of clothing. Bliss!
Which gets me thinking about spring time, and the start of summer, and how those of us living in the cities can get that desperate craving to reconnect with something green. As I was scouting about these internets, continuing to put off the massive, massive research paper I have due next week, I found this nifty website. And you should scope them out.
To get you started, here’s a page I particularly liked, especially in light of needing to commune with trees again. Have you ever hugged a tree? For real? I did it in a college science class, and I will tell you, it was actually kind of amazing. Go hug one. And then adopt it. Then do some of this other stuff.
Kids living in urban centers, or even suburbs, are often disconnected from the nature. Here are some activities you can do with kids with nature and our environment:
Adopt a Tree
While taking a walk or hiking, have your child to pick out a favorite tree in a park or forest and “adopt” it. Essentially, your child will take on the role of being the tree’s caretaker. Do bark rubbings with crayons and paper; leaf collection and pressing in the fall; and look for flowers and fruit in the summer. Each year, take pictures of your child standing beside the tree. You can even bring along measuring tape to track the tree’s growth. Kids can also research the tree on the internet: where the tree is commonly found, usual life span, height, etc.
Clean Up the Earth
A good way to teach our children about taking care of our…
It is simply worded, beautifully illustrated, and hits like a sledgehammer.
Don’t be fooled by the flowery font on the cover, the sweet pencil sketches, or the gentle cadence of the first chapter. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is not a Hallmark commercial. It is not for the faint of heart. It is the sort of book which, when read aloud, makes your child look at you sideways and say, “Why does your voice sound tight and strange?” Continue reading “Book Review: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane”
I won’t mention that it’s been unseasonably warm and sunny here, because people suffering in winter wonderland get a little huffy about that. They’ll have the last laugh when I sink into the ocean, though.
Whatever the weather, it never hurts to be prepared. Below are instructions for making an unbelievably simple flashlight that can live in your wallet/backpack/glove compartment/bedside table. You will be ready for any power outage, midnight snack emergency, or for when you drop a $20 bill in a dark movie theater. NEVER use this to illuminate the bottom of your theater seat, however. Nothing can prepare you for what lurks there. Continue reading “Pocket Flashlights!”
Last year, Gina introduced me to Andrew Clements with her review of Frindle. I read it to my kids and we were hooked…but unfortunately, we found it hard to find the right follow up from Mr. Clements.
I found Room One and Extra Credit on the library shelves,but for some unknown reason, my girls refused to check them out. We tried Lunch Money, but gave up three or four chapters into it. It was too practical. In fact, it felt as if it were written specifically for teachers to use in math class.
Note: Gina completely disagrees! Loves this book! Thinks it’s delightful!
We tackled A Wrinkle in Time and a couple of Jerry Spinelli books instead.
It took months before we were ready to give another Clements book a go. Something about this one caught my eye, however. It has occasional entertaining illustrations. It is smart and funny. The type is generously-sized, and the chapters are short.
Seeing as I can’t grow a mustache this month (c.f. Movember), I’d like to focus on writing instead. November’s actually the easiest month of the year to do so.
Writing is often a solitary activity, and left to my own devices, I am easily mesmerized by videos of adorable animals frolicking, or meatheads having staple gun fights. Any time outside of teaching, parenting, and editing would be easily devoured by YouTube and Iron Chef.
Consequently, I am a huge fan of writing groups, writing classes, National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo), National Blog Posting Month, and all of those organized writing extravaganzas. I thrive with structure and community, deadlines and systems of accountability. I like having someone looking over my shoulder–not annoying people, mind you, but the delightful, word-loving types.
The year I did NaNoWriMo was crazy and fabulous, with pep talks from Jonathan Franzen rolling into my inbox, videos to entertain and encourage me, forums, essays, and write-ins at local coffee shops. It was all designed help build and maintain my momentum, and I loved it. I wrote more that month than ever before or since. Some of it’s a load of crap, but nestled in there are nuggets I never would have created watching Maru.
Ages: Any, though the very young will get tired of shaking long before the ice cream is ready.
My kids never took to Sesame Street, or Mickey Mouse, or the Disney Channel; they didn’t care for children’s movies, either. For the most part, I appreciated that, and enjoyed my Dora-free existence. It did become an issue, however, when I desperately needed to make a phone call, or do my homework, or even just have five minutes of unchaperoned time in the bathroom.
As the girls got older, they got better at amusing themselves from time to time, but sick days remained problematic. I would eventually run out of patience with Barbies (for the moderately ill) and with ladling tea and stroking hair (for the flu victims). Unfortunately, my youngest was frequently fighting some bug or another. I heard myself asking: please, please, wouldn’t you like to watch twenty minutes of television? Sadly, no.
But one day last January, my seven-year-old got a glimpse of the Food Network. Now I have that “be careful what you wish for,” kind of feeling. “That’s not how you do a chiffonade,” Josie told me later, as I chopped mint for the top of a fruit salad. “I think there has been a misunderstanding,” she said another time, catching me frosting her fancy ganache-filled mocha birthday cupcakes with a tub of Betty Crocker vanilla.
The first time I saw a milk carton wallet, it was in a giant pile laying on a table. Some lovely design student had made them about 150 of them, and was handing them out at portfolio night. She probably had her card tucked inside; I really don’t know. I don’t even remember a thing about her portfolio. Perhaps it was creative and fabulous. I was just mesmerized by that pile of wallets at her table. I took one, went home, and drank a lot of juice.
The rest is history.
“What?” you say. You already have a duct tape wallet? Well, that’s awesome. But someday, it’s going to be so rainy, or snowy, or just plain boring, that you will need something new and amusing to do. And this project is so simple and cheap, you may be surprised you haven’t tried it already. Continue reading “Milk Carton Wallets”