Posts Tagged ‘family time


tip: read to children

My children are my guinea pigs. My children are my laboratory. Over the course of 16 years of parenting, I have come to realize it’s nothing more than a great experiment. I have poured into their beakers my ideas, dreams, thoughts, philosophies. That has caused a unique chemical reaction with each individual child’s inborn traits. Life has turned the heat up on the Bunsen burner through outside circumstances. It’s all very thrilling. Experimental. And highly unstable. I advise you to wear protective eye gear around us.

Trial and error has been a good teacher to me over the years. Mostly as it pertains to error, but if there is any one area where I have had consistent and amazing results in my specimen, it’s been with stories. I read to them as infants. Let them chew on board books, practicing the hinging codex move until it became second nature. Open book. Close book. Open book. Close book.

I raised them with books all over the house. They saw me reading. I took them to libraries. I read to them. Out loud. From the beginning of their existences, I read to them all. And guess what? They all LOVE reading. They actually get in trouble for reading, but that’s a blog for another time.

They not only love reading, they live it. Stories come alive to them. Some where deep in their minds and souls. They weep over characters. They run around in the yard pretending to be in their books. They tell other children about their books like little lore masters in astonishing detail.

Long after the days when they can and do read heaps of books to themselves, I read to these grown ones as well. Let us not neglect the oral tradition. There is something primal about having a story artfully and passionately read aloud to you. I did this to my kids. In my lab. I injected them with this serum called literacy. It somehow mutated and produced super soldiers who not only could read stories, but loved reading stories, loved learning, independently pursued some Platonic cave of wonders without having to be told to want to. Self motivated learners came from invested readers came from helpless little tots being held captive with a book on my knee.

OK, call it brain washing. If it’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.



blip: the 12 days of Thanksgiving

Fa la la la la. La la. La. La! No!!!!!!  I’m not skipping over November head long into holiday madness, though if I lived my life according to retail store displays, I would be.  I don’t want to lose November, I will not surrender her to the holly jolly madness and temptation to put up the tree the day after Halloween.  I’m not ready to give up pumpkin, apple, caramel, cider, and all those spicy autumnal flavorings.  Get that peppermint out of my sight! I want fall, extended fall, fairest of all the seasons, and I will stand my ground and beat you upside the head with a drumstick should you attempt to persuade me otherwise!!!

The problem is, Christmas seems to have so many more awesome ways to celebrate it than Thanksgiving.  There isn’t a whole lot of fanfare to be had for what is increasingly becoming an old fashioned, rustic ritual of overeating.  Thanksgiving carols? Ummmm…. no cute little jingles about sweet potatoes who saved the day or pilgrims shining on high.  At best we could break out the hymnal and fold our hands and sing songs of thou gratefulness….which might actually be a cool idea, but it’s very stoic and stern. Very 1694.  No one is in a huge hurry to jump into that kind of activity (no one that I know anyway).  Hmmmm.  How can we make Thanksgiving a time of true celebration, that rivals the revelry of next month’s merriness? How can we build up anticipation of the big day? How can we draw out the crucial elements of being thankful for harvest and bounty and blessings?  Our ancestors rocked this holiday.  I say we take it back and make it awesome once again.

One of my favorite parts of the Christmas season is advent.  I live to count down the days to the big #25.  Yay hypothetical birthday of my man, Jesus.  Every year we do it a bit differently and it has become a hallowed tradition in our home.  Why not do this for Thanksgiving, I thought to myself.  Well, it’s Nov 4th, I’ve missed the whole counting down from the beginning of the month cue.  But there’s still time to salvage that and make it into “the 12 days of thanksgiving!”  This year that is going to kick off on November 11, so I have an entire week yet to plan.  Ha-ha! I feel the awesome juices flowing even now…..

I have 12 little boxes.  I plan to stuff them with 12 little activities, meditations, treats, and tokens that will draw us together as a family when we open one each night counting down to Thanksgiving day.  Maybe we’ll write our own Thanksgiving carols.  “On the first day of Thanksgiving, my true love gave to me…..a tofu vegetarian turkey.” We roll demented like that in my family, make your celebration reflect who you are.  Take your time, Christmas isn’t going anywhere.  And may the advent of this fall holiday bring you a deeper time of togetherness, a deeper understanding of gratitude, and hopefully a deeper slice of pumpkin pie.

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