Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
It turned out to be a great time. It warmed up enough to be comfortable, and Harry slept the whole time in his carrier (I was very thankful for our babywearing coat!). Bess was able to blow off some steam, which is good for everyone.
The place is beautiful. The trails were easy and well-groomed, and barely muddy. There was a bridge built over a 700 foot waterfall that was carved into the stone about 1.5 million years ago - a geological eyeblink. The forest was clear-cut about 100 years ago, so there were no large ancient trees, only emerging species like spruce and some maples. I know the word is overused, but in this case it applies - it was awesome. The only disappointment was that there was no snow, so we couldn't go snow shoeing.
The staff was friendly and helpful as well. Bess wanted to know about the fish who live in the river and how they avoid going over the falls, so we learned all about the pike, catfish, and salmon who live there. We even learned about the clever trout who live in the rocks waiting for a tasty morsel to swim by. It was definitely worth the trip.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
I am feeling a little strange about my first foray into mobile blogging. As someone who talks about - and genuinely believes in - voluntary simplicity, I think that my use of technology might be a little inconsistent.
Initially, I resisted all technology. It was awhile before I got a cell phone, and I really didn't carry it with any consistency until I had kids. Even then I was only sure to bring it if someone else was watching them.
But as I've gotten busier and had more responsibilities, I've found it efficient to be able to make calls and check email on the road. I like being able to keep up with everything when I'm out of town speaking or vacationing.
And the world has changed. Technology is important, and everything changes quickly now. Even as technology has taken over our lives (to the degree that we allow it to, anyway), it also allows us unprecedented access to information, and gives us the opportunity to get our ideas out to an ever-widening audience. Though some argue that e-friendships are replacing actual human contact - and for many people they are - it is also pretty exciting and interesting to be able to connect with so many people we would never have met otherwise. Everything in balance.
So, here I sit while my kids nap with their dad, on the floor outside my hotel room, writing. I guess today I think technology is pretty cool.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
It reminded me of a story from the November-December 2008 issue of Mothering magazine called "Suburban Walkabout", in which a mother (from New Jersey, thank you very much!) describes her daily walks in her neighborhood with her kids. As much as I enjoy hiking in the woods or a long walk on the beach, where we are surrounded by the quiet rhythms of nature, it is nice to sometimes take the time to notice what is right under our noses. Bess was thrilled to find buds on the trees, seed pods that had fallen, and some daffodils beginning to poke out from the warming soil. These are all things that she might still find in the woods, but they wouldn't be as obvious, with the daffodil shoots still hidden under a blanket of leaves and the buds often too high for her to reach.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Now that it's warm, the frogs were out and singing in the pond, which was a big source of excitement. Bess just could not get enough of them, and I have to agree - they were pretty cool!
We worked hard to finish the whole sheet!
And here's Bess and her beloved Miss Lydia looking for creepy-crawlies under a log:
Sunday, March 22, 2009
We listened to Putumayo's Music From the Tea Lands and the traditional tunes of Ravi Shankar as we prepared Kheere ka Raita, Vagan Bateta nu Shak, and Palak Paneer. I probably would not make the Vagan Bateta nu Shak (eggplant and potatoes in curry) again - though Harry really liked it - but I think the Palak Paneer (spinach and cottage cheese) could be great with a little work, and the Kheere ka Raita (cucumbers in yogurt) was delish! We got our recipes from Indian Vegetarian Recipes.
Then we read (sort of) Gobble, Gobble, Slip, Slop: A Tale of a Very Greedy Cat by Meilo So. More accurately, we looked at the pictures, since the story of a cat who eats all his friends until some crabs use their claws to snip their way out of his stomach was a little harsh for my personal taste. (I have learned to ALWAYS read stories, especially traditional fables, before reading them to my kids!) But the ink and watercolor artwork is beautiful - I definitely recommend checking out her website.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
Personally, the thing I like best about spending time at Schiff is that Bess is a whole different person when she's there. Most other times, she is a whirlwind, "Hurricane Bess" we call her. Her attention span is minuscule, and her frustration tolerance is almost equally so. But when we're there, she is patient, engaged, and attentive. Last week, we were making fox tails as our craft, and she sat there for almost twenty minutes (twenty minutes!) putting crepe paper and beads on a pipe cleaner. I don't know that I've ever, ever seen her sit still that long before!
I think that place might be magic, but it also got me thinking a lot about Richard Louv's idea of Nature Deficit Disorder. In his book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder, he talks about the lack of unstructured outdoor time from which our children suffer. He theorizes that this disconnection from nature is largely responsible for the epidemic of attention deficit disorder in the United States, and that most children who suffer from attention issues would benefit immensely - be cured, even - by simply spending time outside. To be sure, there are some elements of his book that I don't really love (such as his stance on hunting and fishing), but I can't deny that my experience with Bess certainly supports his hypothesis.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Apparently you can't eat sprouts unless the seeds are treated as a food crop as opposed to a seed crop which may be treated chemically to prevent molding during storage, so we haven't tried them to see how they taste. But now that we know how easy it is to do, we have our order in for some edible sprouting seeds!
In the meantime, we are trying to sprout lentils, which would be pretty cool since the seeds would be so much easier for the kids to handle - and for the moms to clean up afterwards. We shall see...
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
But I think that it is important to find gratitude every day. I think it is healthy to think about the things that we have that others may not, or the things that make us happy, healthy and safe. If you're a fan of the Law of Attraction, then clearly taking a moment to be thankful for the good things in our lives will pay huge dividends. I try to think of at least three things that I am thankful for each night before I go to bed, and I find it very therapeutic to take a Grateful Moment whenever I find myself getting upset and stressed about something. I also think that it is important to find something to be grateful for in the difficult and painful experiences as well as the fun and joyful times, because there is a lesson or a gift in them all. The most painful experiences I've had in my life have also been the best teachers, and have made me who I am today.
Anyway, I strive to impart this to my children, so we often talk about what we are thankful for. For St. Patrick's Day, we decorated the windows with paper shamrocks, and I wrote on the top of each one, "I am lucky...." Each of us, as well as friends and family, had our own shamrock where we could complete the sentence.
Some of our shamrocks are silly - for example, our dog Chryssi is lucky to have so many tennis balls, and Sarah is lucky that we leave food out for her to steal on occasion. But some were serious - I am thankful that I have plenty of food to eat and a beautiful home. Bess is thankful she has good friends to play with.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
"Mom, can we catch one of those cardinals and keep it in our house?" Bess wanted to know.
"Don't you think that the bird would be lonely in our house, without his friend?"
"I'll take him out and play with him!"
"Well, don't you think that he'd rather be outside where he could fly and use his wings, instead of in a cage?"
"Well, maybe we can get him a really BIG cage!"
I've been doing a lot of research on how we can raise our children to exhibit pro-social behaviors, to develop the highest levels of moral reasoning. When viewed within the framework of Lawrence Kohlberg's stages of moral development, what I am interested in finding out is how we can best raise children who will reach the sixth, highest stage of moral reasoning of Universal Ethical Principles.
During my research I came across a study that was done to examine whether parents' levels of moral reasoning has any impact on their children's levels of moral reasoning as teens and adults. Naturally, I thought this was going to be a great study to include in my thesis, as it would provide some empirical support to my idea that we need to teach our children by example.
However, what the study found was that there is minimal correlation between sons' levels of moral reasoning and that of their parents, and daughters' moral reasoning has no discernible correlation with that of their parents.
So, WHAT AM I DOING HERE?
To be fair, it was found that children's moral reasoning skills often exceeded their parents', which is an encouraging finding. However, these results left me wondering, if it is not through example that we teach our children the morals we want them to learn, then how exactly do we teach them to be compassionate, loving, peaceful people?
Well, according to the research, moral reasoning of the highest order - the desire to act according to some personal set of values that considers multiple perspectives and needs - is a SKILL. It is through teaching our children HOW to think, not WHAT to think, that we help them to develop this sort of ability. So, instead of saying to Bess, "No, birds don't belong in cages," we talk about the reasons why I'd prefer not to have a wild bird in a cage in my house. I am not judging those who do have birds as companion animals, and I'm not telling her what to think - instead, I'm trying to teach her to think about it from the bird's perspective. Of course, she's three and not really able to do that yet, but at least I'm planting the seeds of that kind of thought for the time when they're ready to grow.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
and celebrated with Monsieur Paul!