Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bows and Arrows

I let my kids play with knives. Actually, I have to walk away from them playing with knives. The husband lets the kids play with knives. Jack knives to be exact. He has sat with both of them and taught them how to carve sticks into pointed weapons. It started this Spring. They have each cut their fingers once. In addition to the battery of pointed sticks strewn across our yard, we now have bows and arrows. One day I went out alone. I came back to several bows constructed out of sticks. And arrows. Small pointed sticks. So, now we have large pointed sticks and small pointed sticks. All over the place. Not only can they be accompanied by a bow, but they can be turned into Wolverine claws with the help of painter's tape. By the way, painter's tape is fabulous. It sticks to everything and yet, nothing. I can wrap the kids up in it, and yes, I have, and it comes right off.  They use the tape to tape their drawings or paintings to the walls, furniture, what have you.  It comes right off.  And it's blue.  What more could you ask for?
I started out my parenting years as vehemently opposed to weapons for my precious little one.  When he was a year old he picked up a stick, pointed it at the husband and made a little-kid-shooting-something sound.  He had never seen a gun.  He was never exposed to violent media.  Of course, he wasn't imitating a gun, but something innate in my little boy made him point something at someone else and make a sound.  That was the end of my "no weapons" philosophy.  Then I read a PBS article where the psychology of violent acting was spoken about.  It pretty much said that if you make boys, especially boys, feel bad about their innate desire to be violent then it will later manifest it's way into something else.  Boys are naturally physical and aggressive.  They need that outlet.  To tell them that what they are feeling or experiencing is bad or wrong sends a very confusing message.  You are basically telling them that they are bad for having those natural feelings. 

I have found that when you take the time to teach a child something like stick carving, they take the time to really focus.  You're giving that child a huge responsibility and trusting them to be careful.  My children have thrived on that.  They are like any other kid...jumping off couches and tables, screaming at the top of their lungs and hitting, kicking and smothering one another whenever possible.  Something happens, though, when being trusted with their father's "stick-carving knives", as they call them.  They turn into little serious men. 
Give your children a chance to really show themselves what they are capable of.  Trust that your children will rise to the occasion.  Of course, I am not advocating to all parents to give their children knives.  Just, when you're doubting your child's ability to go above and beyond, remember that you'll never know if they can do something unless given the opportunity.  More than likely, they'll surprise the heck out of you.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Make a Rainbow...

I find it interesting what my children retain from watching television. My kids watch PBS and borrowed videos from the library. On occasion, we'll get them a movie from Redbox or Netflix. Today, after watching something (am I terrible to not have any idea what show it was?), I think it was a segment in between shows, Eli approached me with a list of items he needed. "Mom, I need some white paper, a glass with some water in it and a flashlight." Okay, MacGyver. What in the world are you doing? "I saw it on TV, mom. I want to make a rainbow." Okay, let's do it.

I have an inkling of what he's talking about, but I was still reeling from his interest in trying out this experiment.
I got a few sheets of white printer paper. I grabbed one of the newly excavated glass jars we found in the back yard today and filled it with water. Then, I found the flashlight. All set. It took a minute to figure out how to find the rainbow. At first, I had the sheets all laid out. There was nothing. Then I put a sheet of paper as a backdrop and it seemed to have an effect. We had to shine the flashlight from the top of the water level and aim down in order to achieve a rainbow. How very cool.
Now, why does it do this? I found my answer in an issue of Turtle Magazine. I tried to find it on PBS, but there were entirely too many listings for me to flip through. The folks at Turtle say, "When you shine a flashlight beam through the glass of water, the light is refracted, or bent. when white light is refracted it creates a color spectrum - the colors you see in the rainbow. So white light is really a mixture of many colors! In 1666, a scientist names Issac Newton made this discovery by using a piece of glass called a prism to split a beam of sunlight, creating a color spectrum. The same thing happens when you see a rainbow in the sky. Raindrops act like tiny prisms to split the sunlight into different colors."

Peaches For Me

I love picking fruit. I am super excited to go blueberry picking tomorrow with my mom at Tougas Farm. I went peach picking last Friday with my two youngest children. Of course, picking a peck of peaches takes all of five minutes. At eighteen dollars a peck, it might be considered a bit pricey. It's completely worth it, though. The husband came home from work and said, "I had a couple of those peaches...Oh, my! I cut them in half, bit into one and juice went flying everywhere." There. That's all I need. And Silas will sit and eat a whole peach. The peaches are sweet, soft and juicy. They cannot compare to the hard and tart peaches at the grocery store. My father said, "Blueberries at the grocery market are fifty cents cheaper per pint!" Right. But there is nothing like getting into a blueberry bush trying to find the plumpest berries before someone else does. There is nothing like the feeling of foraging for your own food. Well, it's not really foraging...but there are definitely moments when it can feel like it.

My mother has blackberries in her backyard. We picked about two quarts yesterday. I got stuck by prickers and thorns. I had weird bugs land in my hair. Still worth it.
A friend of mine gave me a recipe for a Swedish Apple Pie where she replaces the apples with peaches, pears or even berries. I used this recipe and made a delightful Blackberry Peach Pie.

I used a deep-dish glass pie plate. I peeled and sliced a zillion peaches. They were super juicy and slipping out of my hands. The skins came right off. I tossed in a total of about a cup of blackberries. In a bowl, I mixed together 1 1/2 sticks of homemade butter, 1 cup white whole wheat flour, 1 cup demerara sugar, and one blueish-green Araucana pastured egg. I dumped the mixture over the fruit and baked at 350 degrees for 55 minutes. It probably could have used another five minutes. Also, since the fruit was so super juicy, I should have added some flour or cornstarch to the fruit to help congeal all the juices. I actually dumped out some of the juice from the pie. It still tastes so yummy.

I was going to can the peaches, but I don't know if I'm ready for all that. And now I've only enough peaches for another pie...or snacks. Although, I could get another peck tomorrow...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

At Home For The Summer

It's certainly has been one lazy Summer! We were hit, with what I thought was, Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. Turns out, it wasn't. However, while waiting we quarantined ourselves for a little over a week. I got used to not going anywhere, so we did not venture out for what seemed like a really long time. It was nice. I got into the routine of having to take the kids out; feeling as though they would be missing out if they were home too much. Forget that! We have worked in the yard and garden. They have had time to really enjoy their Summer exploring the yard and really playing with one another. The imaginative games they have created are nothing short of amazing. The bond they have strengthened really makes me all warm and squishy.

There has still been plenty of learning, for those who are worried. The never ending questions barraging me all day long has not ceased at all. If anything, they have increased. Eli is famous for his "What if..." questions. "What if purple was murple?" "What if you pooped through your belly button?" What if my name was Odin and Odin's name was Eli?" "What if all the letters in the alphabet were upside-down?"