Friday, February 26, 2021

Approaching cold weather myths

I'll admit that I've become unaccustomed to extremely cold weather. It was over 20°C/70°F yesterday and I had all the windows in my house open that could be, and I don't feel badly about it at all even though my friends and family in Canada are still experiencing sub-zero/freezing temperatures (except for Abra, I guess, now that she's living on the coast). Anyway, I thought I would approach two cold weather myths today. I'm doing so here rather than on Facebook because people tend to get very attached to their mythology and no amount of evidence can convince them that their myth is what it is...a myth. 

Having experienced many different cultures, I've found that it's relatively easy to identify myths (or superstitions?) in other cultures, while identifying them within your own culture can be a little trickier. 

For example, when I moved to Russia I quickly learned not to sit down in the cold (on a bench or a cement wall, or even a seat in the car) without adequate insulation beneath me. Because people would be legitimately concerned that my ovaries would freeze before I'd have the opportunity to be a mother. 

This was rather obviously untrue to me. I spent my formative years living in a very cold place where people didn't worry about this and yet, somehow, our population continued to grow.

But I also grew up believing that if my siblings and I played too wildly while a cake was in the oven...that the cake would "fall" and when I told Andrew this he laughed at me so hard. Because it turns out this was just a myth passed down in my family that everyone believed and passed on to their own children. Where did it start? Was there any truth to it? The first question is impossible to answer. But the second question is easy: No. While opening the oven to take a peek at the cake can make it fall, it's highly unlikely that playing hand hockey in the living room will. The two simply aren't related. 

It's hard to analyze your own culture for these fallacies until you're able, somewhat, to gain an outsider perspective. And so I offer you this myth:

If you go outside with wet hair, your hair will freeze and potentially snap off. 

In which I didn't call the fire department...

We were at the playground (again) the other day and the kids were playing a modified game of "grounders" (my kids don't close their eyes when they are "it" and the "it" player can't touch the platform with their feet). Zoë was jumping her way across a bridge—one of those "perfectly safe" bridges designed to keep children perfectly safe. There was no way she was going to slip between the railing and break her arm (like my friend's son did at the playground a few years ago) or anything like that. So she was jumping with quite a lot of confidence.

Then she landed a little too close to the ledge and her leg slipped in between the railing and the bridge and...that was it. She was stuck tight. Completely wedged in. And she was not happy. 

She tried pulling her leg out but could not free herself. 

I tried to help her force her leg out. Nothing.

We rotated her leg, trying to find the smallest possible radius...because here's the thing:

My kids (by and large) have spindly legs, knobby knees, and tiny feet.

I don't know where they get that from.

(Me; they get it from me). 

It's likely the playground engineers thought their design was infallible. They probably considered every possible scenario on that bridge and in precisely 0% of those scenarios did they see a child getting hurt. But they probably also didn't consider a child with the dexterity of a daring five-year-old wearing shoes the size a two-year-old might wear. But that's where their models went wrong...

And now my five-year-old was being squished to death by this bridge (if her screams were any indication of her mortal peril; in truth she was fine because her thighs are twiggy as well (but she was stuck...on account of her knobby little knees)). 

For reference, this is the bridge (though this picture is from last year, almost to the day, when my mom came out for a visit (you know, back when we used to do that kind of thing); I don't have a picture of Zoë stuck in the bridge because, well, I was actually concerned for her safety (she was screaming a lot) and I didn't think to stop and take a picture):



Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Dementor

For family night last night we focused on D&C 18:10—"Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God." To help remind us of our worth (and to practice seeing each other as children of God), I had each of us write our names on a paper and then we passed those papers around in a circle, taking a minute or two to write something nice about each member of our family. Then the kids wanted to read their comments out loud, probably because we had to read Alexander's comments out loud for him to understand what they said. 

When we got to Rachel and she began reading the comment I wrote for her I had to interrupt. 

"...you're a peacekeeper and a mentor..." she read.

"Wait. What?!" I asked. 

There were strict instructions to only write kind things. And that didn't sound very kind.

"Mom, you wrote this one!" Rachel said. 

"I know but...what does it say?"

"It says: '...you're a peacekeeper and a mentor...'" she said, put a little break between each word for me. 

"Oh!" I said, sighing in relief. "I thought you said, 'peacekeeper and dementor!'"

"Again..." Rachel said. "You wrote it."

"I know! But I wrote a lot of things!"

Anyway, we're very fortunate to have Rachel around as a peacekeeper.

And. A. Mentor.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

École en plein air

 

We did most of our schoolwork at the park today, packing along our lunch and all of our books and half the house. Today was our first lovely day of spring; I hope we have many more before the weather turns hot and humid. We try to enjoy perfect weather when we can. 

This particular park is one that many people have told me is "sketchy," and I can't figure out why they think so because Jones Bridge Park is kind of the "popular" park to go to and I think that park is sketchy. I mean, I actually think both parks are fine, but this particular park's bathrooms never (or, at least, rarely) ever smell like...teenagers have been using them as a hideout to smoke illicit drugs...while Jones Bridge Park's bathrooms routinely do. I'm just saying...

Besides, Jones Bridge Park is so popular that it can be hard to find space to be alone. This other park is a lot less popular, so while we did have several people walking the trails beside our picnic table, we didn't have to compete to find a picnic table (and when we went to play at the playground we had it all to ourselves, which is important when you're social-distancing).

Literacy with the Littles

As promised, here are some samples of Alexander's amazing A's...

This is an earlier paper I found. You can tell because of how big the "pilot dot" is at the top of the A (and also because of how he's writing his name backwards and didn't get the X in there):

Monday, February 22, 2021

In the words of Henry Wordsworth Longfellow


Orange you glad...

Alexander had a rough potty day on Sunday (that's your TMI warning).

When Sunday afternoon turned beautiful, I sent the kids outside to play. They requested a snack, so I made one up for them. I peel three oranges and put them on a plate with some cracker-y things and some nuts. A nice, balanced snack...or so I thought. 

I'm not sure whether Zoë and Benjamin made Alexander eat all the oranges or whether Alexander decided to eat them all on his own, but apparently that's what ended up happening. 

Alexander is already sensitive about pooping for whatever reason. He just doesn't like doing it, so we're always having conversations about how it's okay to go poop every day. Sometimes we can tell that he needs to go but is trying not to and we have to coax him to let it out. See—TMI.

He had a lovely potty time on Sunday afternoon, finally ridding his body of a nice, healthy poop. 

But then, while we were Skyping with Grandpa, Alexander started to make his "I need to poop but I'd really rather not" face. So I said, "Do you need to go potty?" And he said, "No..." So I said, "I think you do! Let's go try!"

We rushed off to the bathroom (with Alexander doing his "little too late" waddle) and found that we were...well...a little too late. Fortunately most of the mess ended up in the toilet. It was...a very orange-y poop (leading to my questioning the children about how their snack got divided up outside), but I figured that with that out of his system we were safe. 

So I helped him into fresh underwear and some jammies.

He ran around for a few minutes, we said goodbye to Grandpa, and then Alexander came to sit on my lap for scriptures and prayer. I was kneeling on the floor, so I guess squatting really...opened things up...for Alexander and, anyway, he ended up accidentally doing a bunch of diarrhea as he sat (squished) down on my lap. I slowly helped him back into a standing position and said, "Daddy, this one's for you..."

(After all, I'd just taken care of one diarrhea mess).

It was a little bit funny...but mostly just gross. We've been very careful about his fruit intake today. He has had zero oranges (but he has had a banana and a couple of slices of apple (and some yogurt to get some good bacteria into his gut, and plenty of cheese to...clog things up a bit)). 

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Where's my pants?!

Andrew lost his blue pyjama bottoms a few weeks ago, which is a real tragedy as pyjama bottoms have become a staple for his work uniform. He was down to red ones and green ones and really wanted his blue ones back. Alas, they were no where to be found. 

He did all the laundry in the house to see if they would turn up. They didn't.

He went through everyone's drawers to see if they were put away in the wrong place. They weren't.

He rifled through the "tickle trunk" full of dress-up clothes and and the give-away box full of off-casts. No pyjama bottoms were to be found in either location.

He held a family meeting. 

"If anyone has information on my missing pyjama bottoms, you can come forward now. There is no punishment for information. If you are hiding them as a joke, just tell me. I'm desperate. I just want my pants back."

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Vegetable juice

We had leftovers for dinner last night, which is always a fun adventure. The children were claiming things left and right: "I get the last waffle!" "I want mashed potatoes!" "Dibs on the spaghetti!" And every time we emptied a container we boasted (if we happened to get the very last of something that everyone wanted) and cheered (because we emptied a container). 

Alexander was particularly vocal about snagging the last of the mixed vegetables. 

"I'm going to finish the mixed vegetables!" he called out, then he paused and waited for someone to object. Oddly, not one of his siblings objected.

"I am!" he insisted. "I am going to eat them right out of the container!"

"Go for it," we told him. 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Yes, yes, yes. No, no, no.

While doing some research for one of my classes, I came across an enchanting interview with Robert Frost (which you can view here). I had my kids watch it today, listening for how Robert Frost defines poetry. We were very amused by the fact that Robert Frost (a) believed in using pens and eschewed the use of pencils and (b) did not believe one could write (or teach) poetry outside. In fact, when asked whether he did so, Robert Frost emphatically answered, "No, no, no, no, no, no, no...no." Then he said something about bugs getting on his paper. 

So we talked about Robert Frost's offered definition(s) of poetry, and then turned to Mary Oliver. 

Both poets write about nature extensively, but I don't think they'd agree on much else. For example, Mary Oliver would hide pencils in trees precisely so she could write when inspiration struck her out in nature. Mary Oliver's poems tend not to rhyme, while Robert Frost's tend to. Mary Oliver "calls free verse 'the music of conversation' and "time spent with a friend," while Robert Frost said free verse was like "playing tennis without a net." 

All in all, we found Robert Frost endearing...but a little erudite. 

But we learned that poetry isn't the same thing to everyone. Even two poets who are considered great can have vastly different ideas of what poetry is and how it should be written. 

We read several poems about nature and then the kids attempted their own poem about nature, which perhaps I will share later. Benjamin's poem was...interesting.