Here’s a challenge for you for next Sunday (or Saturday.) ? I’ve done this a few times, and it can be an eye-opening experience. ? When you go to church, sit near the front. ? (That’s not the challenge–wait for it!) ? Continue reading “One Body”
So we started reading Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television the other day…out loud, in the evenings. ? (I know it seems a bit extreme, but bear with me.) ? The thesis is that television, by its nature, is destructive to human lives and communities, no matter how nice or educational the programming tries to be. ? I’m sure I’ll be revisiting that idea later, but I think we’re already trying to benefit from one of the observations included in Mander’s first argument. ? He points out how disconnected we, especially we who live in the city or suburbs, are from the earth and its workings. ? Our food comes from stores, not plants in the ground; our water comes from faucets, not streams or rain showers; the greenery we do see is chosen and arranged by humans, not nature. ? Many, if not most, of us have lost our connection to the natural world, the world essentially unmodified by human hands (and machinery). ?
So tonight Craig and Lucy sat outside on the hammock and watched the moon play hide-and-seek behind the clouds. ? It was the fullest, brightest moon I have seen in a very long time. ? They looked at the stars, the few you can see through all the New Orleans light pollution. ? It was so simple, but somehow so profound as well. ? This is the kind of experience I want my children to remember when they are thirty-five. ?
When was the last time you noticed the moon?
Craig stumbled on an interesting article the other day about the damage screen time (TV, computer, etc.) can do to the developing brain.? You can read the rest of the article here, but I’d like to share just the conclusion for its insights:
“We human beings are a strange bunch. We grind up grains that appeal to a dog’s extremely sensitive sense of taste and press these into shapes resembling cartoon bones. Then we package these cartoon bones in colorful boxes that appeal to human adults because dogs would never do such a thing. The same is true of babies. Babies would never buy Baby Einstein videos. They are too busy playing and learning from the real world. The real consumers of Baby Einstein products are not babies. The real target is parents and grandparents who want their little darlings to be the next Einstein. I’m quite sure that Baby Einstein products are well produced, colorful and captivating. But the medium is the message, not the program flashing on the screen. I prefer to squish peas in my mashed potatoes, thank you.”
-“Just Say NO to Baby Einstein”
By Michael Mendizza
His main point is that the real world is a much better educator for a child than anything PBS can dream up, but there are so many places to go with this!? First of all, it does say something about a society that views intelligence as a commodity.? We all want to get ahead, and we want our children to get ahead in their turn, and the best way to do that is for them to go to college, preferably on scholarship so we don’t have to pay for it, so we had better have them well prepared for preschool.? I want my kids to read early as much as the next parent, but because I want them to be able to enjoy books and grow from their own ability to investigate what interests them in these books, and if they end up at the top of the class, that is only lagniappe.
More importantly, the difference in Lucy, our two-year-old, between a TV-full day and a TV-free day is dramatic, at least in those little details we mothers tend to notice.? Like tantrums.? It would seem that less TV = fewer tantrums.? And as easy as it is for me to get work done while she sits mesmerized by hours of Elmo and friends, at the same time it is disappointing to realize that she is not interacting, or really acting at all, but mostly absorbing flashing lights.? (Sometime I will write about how close the “interactive” shows are to Ray Bradbury’s vision in Farenheit 451, but not today.)? Maybe it would be better for that load of laundry to stay unfolded if it means she gets to spend more time painting, playing with bread dough, or running outside.
So, for the time being, our TV has taken up residence in the bottom of our bedroom closet, and in the newly-cleaned out space next to its dark screen, Lucy has established a new place to hide and pretend.
I was listening to NPR just now, and they reported that today nine people were killed in Gaza by Israeli bombs, and five of those nine were children. ? My stomach sinks when I think of that. ? I don’t know, and honestly I barely care, who is right here. ? How can it possibly ever be justified to kill children? ? Calling them “collateral damage” ? is not only no excuse, it is an insult to the suffering these families must endure! ? How can you tell a mother that her child’s life is less important than your border dispute, that his life is an acceptable sacrifice? ? I try sometimes to put myself in the place of these mothers. ? I cannot even imagine their pain! ? My prayers, more often than I would like lately, have been turned toward these suffering women. ? May God lead us to end this violence!
Lucy recieved so many books for Christmas this year!? It is wonderful, because she loves books (as do we) and now we have a whole new plethora of choices for bedtime stories.? I’ve decided to start adding some of her favorites to my “Off the Shelf” reading list on the sidebar.? Many of these are worth revisiting, even if you don’t have a little one around to read them to.? I’ve really been? enjoying re-reading so many books from my childhood, as well as discovering new favorites.? And when you don’t have the time or the patience to tackle a 600-page Russian novel, these books provide almost instant closure.? It’s like great literature, 15 minutes at a time!
(If the quote looks familiar, it’s the same one from the “Interdependence” post, so feel free to skip ahead. I promise the rest of the post is different!)
“In fact, we are always meeting in nature with admirable examples of the close correspondence between the forms of the organs and the offices they fulfill, even when these bring no actual benefit to the animal. Continue reading “Agents of Creation”
Fly Lady? (the architect of my one hope of ever having a clean house) has a wonderful bit of philosophy: ? you can do anything for fifteen minutes. ? This is usually applied to dealing with piles of paper clutter, laundry, putting away holiday decorating, etc. ? But with a two-year-old and an infant, I’m learning how to do things for only? fifteen minutes, since that’s about the average length of time my hands are free before one or the other (or both!) is demanding attention. ? Continue reading “15 minutes”
Today is the feast of St. Lucy, our oldest daughter’s namesake. (It’s a little strange to call her the “oldest” when she is barely two!) So we got up early-ish and got to work on the Saint Lucia buns. We used cardamom instead of the traditional saffron, but they came out pretty well, and the house smelled wonderful all day! Then we had a big brunch to celebrate Lucy’s special day.
I don’t have any profound insights about it all, except that it was wonderful to make something special that actually came out right (I’ve had a string of culinary defeats lately) and how entertaining dough can be in little hands. Lucy made her own buns, which were not exactly traditionally shaped, but still tasted great! This morning reinforced to me the goods that come from simple things like hand-kneading bread and working side-by-side with your family. It is hard to describe the peace that came working in the kitchen in the morning sun, and the sense of accomplishment when we tasted what we had spent so much time and effort making. I don’t think I could do it every day, but it was a wonderful, relaxing way to spend a Saturday morning!
I wish everyone had gotten to hear the homily I heard tonight for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Father took us through Mary’s life, from her “Yes” to becoming the mother of God, through a desperate journey to Egypt, through giving up her son to his public ministry, to watching him die on the cross. I had to imagine giving birth in a stable – suddenly a hospital doesn’t look so bad! I highly recommend this as a spiritual exercise, especially for mothers. Put yourself in the Blessed Mother’s place for some of these events. Remember losing sight of your child at the park? Imagine losing him in Jerusalem! Anyone know of a book or web site which does this well? If I can’t find one, maybe I’ll have to write it!
“In fact, we are always meeting in nature with admirable examples of the close correspondence between the forms of the organs and the offices they fulfill, even when these bring no actual benefit to the animal. The insects which suck nectar from flowers of a certain kind, develop probosces adapted to the length of corolla which those flowers possess. But they also develop a coating, quite useless to themselves, by which they collect pollen, and this fertilizes the flowers they will visit afterwards. … Continue reading “Interdependence”