Tuesday, September 30, 2014

STEM vs. The Arts

We have an annual pass to our local science center. The kids love it, it's much cheaper than a theme park, and it's something to do on days that are too hot to be outside (of which Florida has far too many). They especially love the travelling exhibits. Curious George just left and my two-year-old was very upset and wanted to know where he went. She figured it out though--he went into the TV.

The Orange County Science Center sent me a survey asking about how often we visit, how often we go to other museums, etc. Their last batch of questions was about how important STEM is versus the Arts and Humanities. (STEM, for those who draw a blank as my mind often does lately, stands for Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics. We hear a lot about pregnancy brain, but I think breastfeeding brain is a thing. Or maybe it's just mom with a baby brain.)

I hear more and more about STEM. Those fields of study are not my strong suit. Okay, I hated most of them. But I enjoyed Geology in college. I know that they are terribly important in today's world. Can you even get a job anymore without a good STEM foundation? But I fear that they could crowd out the Arts and Humanities, which are important for another reason entirely.

This all comes from a former English major who took Art History and Political Science classes for fun. But I believe that the Arts and Humanities teach us, well, how to be human. How to communicate, how to interact, how to reconcile our place in the world. They teach about beauty and tragedy and empathy. What use is a good job if you don't know how to be a decent human being?

Why does it have to be either or? (I just read an article about how there is less time for PE in school but physical activity helps you think better which would help you in school...) Well, balance is always the question. And that balancing act was on my mind.

Sorry for two philosophical posts in a row. I promise my next one will be about something trivial, like the fact that my laundry yesterday included pooped on clothes from all three of my children. (And today's included chunks of puke. The joys of sharing a stomach bug.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Thoughts on Censorship

I recently reread one of my favorite books of all time for book club. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. Beautiful language, lovely sense of place. You really should read it. Everyone should.




While trying to learn more about the book and the author for the book club meeting, I came across this quote from an interview in the Paris Review:

"When I’m teaching, sometimes issues come up. I might read a scene in a student’s story that seems—by my standards—pornographic. I don’t believe in exploiting or treating with disrespect even an imagined person. But at the same time, I realize that I can’t universalize my standards. In instances like that, I feel I have to hold my religious reaction at bay. It is important to let people live out their experience of the world without censorious interference, except in very extreme cases." - Marilynne Robinson

As a religious person there are many things that are deemed acceptable in the world that I do not agree with. But as someone educated in the liberal arts, I don't believe in censorship either. I believe in each individual being able to choose what they write and what they read. (Of course, parents help make that choice for their children until they're old enough to make their own choices.)

Trying to ban or censor something only gives it more publicity and makes it more interesting. Mark Twain expressed excitement when a book of his was banned from a library because he knew that the children would want to read it and they'd have to go out and buy their own copies.

We should stand up for our standards and share them, but never try to force them on others--I don't want someone else's forced on me.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pretending Autumn

My two-year-old is starting to make an important distinction between what's real and what's "just pretend."

What used to be my favorite season has become a time of seasonal-envy depression. (I made up the term and am self-diagnosed, but it's a thing.) We've cooled down about two degrees and are still hot and sweaty all the time. So this isn't autumn, but we did our best to pretend.

Yesterday we baked pumpkin bread in the oven; apple cider warmed on the stove. We ate soup and grilled cheese for dinner. A late rainstorm helped the illusion. But my kids wouldn't be running around barefoot in a real autumn rainstorm. (And an attempt at being grateful in the circumstances: what kid doesn't want to run barefoot in a rainstorm?--mine get to.)



Saturday, September 13, 2014

Happy Roald Dahl Day!

September 13 is Roald Dahl's birthday and we went to the celebration at our local library. They read some vile verses, played some games, and made fantastic fox masks. Then we came home and watched James and the Giant Peach.

Fantastic Foxes

I loved Roald Dahl as a child, His stories are about children overcoming the mean adults in their lives. And some silliness.

One of my favorite books as a child was Matilda. In my mind I was Matilda. Minus the sleazy father, neglectful mother, tyrannical principal, and magic powers. But I loved books. So I was Matilda. (Nerdy, book-loving kids love books about other nerdy, book-loving kids.)

Happy Roald Dahl Day!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Silly Things the Doctor Has to Ask You

Even though I read a million books and obsessed about many things with my first baby, there are some things I've never worried about that the doctor apparently does. Even more so now that I mother my baby from my experience and trusting my gut, some of the things that they want to measure seem ridiculous to me.

How often does he eat?
When he's hungry.
Well, would you say every hour and a half? every two hours? every three hours?

At this point I usually go with their middle number, because that's hopefully what they expect to hear. But really, I'm thinking that it's a stupid question because he's gained weight and is active and looks healthy. He eats as often as he needs to. And he gets enough. Sometimes that's every hour. Sometimes he goes four or five or six hours without eating. And then he eats for two hours with only a couple of pauses to burp to make up for it. Because my life is crazy enough without writing down when he eats and for how long and then average it out every 24 hours.

How many wet diapers does he have a day? How many poopy diapers?

Again, like I have the time to count. Oh wait, I actually did count his poopy diapers one day. But it was after the frustration out of realizing I was changing the fourth poopy diaper in less than an hour. So I counted out of curiosity and maybe some bonus points in my mommy book to see just how many poopy diapers I had to change that day. (There were eleven poopy diapers that day.) But normally, I don't count them. I have better things to do. And sometimes, just like counting how many times your baby woke you up in the night, knowing a number associated with an unpleasant task makes you more cranky about it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fall 2014 Bucket List

Fall is my favorite season. Or it was. It's still hotter than Hades in Florida and will be except for the two days this winter when it's a little bit chilly. I miss crunching through leaves in boots and bundling up in sweaters against the cool breezes. I miss the colors of changing leaves and picking apples to make homemade cider and sauce. But since we miss out on these things, I'm even more motivated to do the fall themed things we still can. Here's my list of things I want to do as a family this fall:

Fall 2014 Bucket List

Outings:
Visit a Pumpkin Patch
Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Leaves
Go to a Football Game
Go Camping

Arts & Crafts:
Paint or Carve Pumpkins
Make Leaf Art
Make Handprint Turkeys
Make Thanksgiving Centerpieces

Indoor Activities:
Write Thank You Notes
Watch Charlie Brown Halloween and Thanksgiving
Make a Thankful Tree
Family Room Fort

Food:
Drink Apple Cider Floats
Make Pumpkin Bread
Make Pumpkin Cookies

Have an Apple Dippers Party

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Summer Reading

A summer spent breastfeeding a newborn is a great time to do some reading. I read a couple of nonfiction books, but I spent most my time with novels. I'm behind on everything else in life. But my baby is fat and happy and my brain is full of books. Here's a few of my favorites from the last couple of months.

The best book I read all summer was All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry. The story was original and surprising. The writing was beautiful. Just read it.



The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd followed two women on either side of the slave South. I didn't know till I had finished it that it was based on true events and real, remarkable women.



The Girls at the Kingfisher's Club by Genevieve Valentine is a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I've enjoyed retellings of fairy tales since I was a young teenager (a favorite author from those years was Robin McKinley, and the young girl still in me loves Shannon Hale stories). This is probably the most original retelling I've ever read. The bones of the story are still there, but it's set in prohibition era speakeasies.




Entwined by Heather Dixon was another retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I didn't intentionally read two of them. I think it might be becoming more popular (thus a movie should be coming out sometime soon). This one was more like a traditional fairy tale. Still fun and probably better for younger audiences than the above one.




Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Frost I read because of the author. I read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet a few years ago. The title of that one sums up his books for me: bitter and sweet. His stories are beautiful and sad, but always redemptive. He's a great storyteller. This one has some difficult subject matter, so definitely for an older audience.




We Were Liars by E. Lockhart was a little bit dark, sending a few shivers down your spine. But if I can handle it, you know it can't be that bad. I liked it but would only recommend it if you like things that are a little bit dark.