Saturday, October 30, 2010

Paper Mache in Seattle - Ughhh

I love craft projects.  I grew up doing paper mache.  Several years during summer school we work in the goopy meduim.  We made volcanos and pigs.  I remember my mom making my brother a paper mache hat with a metal bowl for the form.  Probably I worked along-side her making my own creation.

The years have crept by while I've waited for my kids to be old enough to do paper mache with me.  Recently Rosie achieved the age and interest level needed for me to propose the project.   We pulled out newspapers, balloons, toilet paper tubes and various scrapes from the recycle bin.  I mixed up flour and water, and we went to work.  Everything was exactly as I remembered - creating the forms, dipping and layering the newspaper.

And then came time to dry them.  Now, in Montana, we'd do a layer of newspaper in the morning, wait a few hours and add another layer.  An entire project could be covered in 3 layers, painted, and dry enough to take home at the end of 2 days. After 2 hours here in Seattle, our paper mache was still dripping.  After 2 days our paper mache was still wet to the touch.  After 2 weeks they are finally dry and the children's interest has moved on to other things.

Likely I'll pick up the project again in the next few days just to get the pig and mouse eventually done and out of the dining room. However, I'll think twice next time before I propose a project that include the concept of "drying" while living in Seattle.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Are Turf Fields Toxic?

Seattle Parks department is busy laying down artificial turf fields all over the city.  Two new ones just went in blocks from our house, and I notice many at the school fields that have hosted the numerous soccer practices and games we've attended recently.

They smell awful, like plastic and rubber.  Our whole family carries the smell for maybe an hour after being at the field.

So here's my concern - is this safe?  What are these fields made of and are they toxic?  Do I really want my growing children on them for 6+ hours a week?

Based on a quick google search, I'm guessing I don't.  Clifford Law's Personal Injury blog has concerns.  In 2007, The New York Times published an article suggesting "worrisome levels of zinc and lead." Environmental Health News has a 2008 abstract for a study citing levels of toxic chemicals found in every test done and calling for evaluation of health risk to both adults and children.

Toxicity aside, over the years I've seem more than a few articles calling out the benefits of nature for a child's physical and emotional development, even some suggesting enhanced brain development.  There's no way playing on an artificial field is going to yield any of this goodness.

What do you know?  Any good resources to share on this topic? What on earth am I going to do about this quandary when the city is so gung-ho about them?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Political Compass

Resist Racism posted a link a while back to a test to determine one's own political leanings.  Take a short survey to find out where you land on the graph.
Here's mine.  I'm the little red dot towards the bottom.

The trick is, I don't really understand what it means.  Perhaps I would have done better to go to bed and sleep THEN in the morning try to read through the information introducing the test. My best guess is that the test confirms my idea that I am socially liberal and financially conservative.

Anyone care to explain?  And tell me about your test, too!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Apparently Not

For the past few weeks I've struggled to get tickets to the Harry Potter exhibit at the Pacific Science Center.  Issues with my login and the ticket booth's computer stymied me day after day.

Last Friday I tried again.  Pushing many buttons on my phone eventually yielded a receptionist.  I told her I was having problems buying tickets on-line.  She asked for more detail, and I hoped her plan was to connect me with just the right tech person. I enumerated my problems logging into my Science Center account, which had worked this summer when I signed the kids up for summer camp. She started a little problem solving, so I assured her I used the right email address (I only use one),  I promised her I had clicked on the "forgot my password" link many times to no avail. After a pause, she suggested I restart my computer.

Trying to hold back my deeply contemptuous and snarky remarks, I choked out, "Restarting my computer is not going to affect my access to your database."  Deep breath.  And then very politely, "Would you please connect me with someone with technical experience?"

To which she replied, "I was a computer programmer for almost twenty years, does that count?"

You can't believe how much restraint it took me not to respond, "Apparently not."

To be completely fair to the Science Center, said receptionist finally connected me with the membership department.  A lovely man on the other end of the line explained that the box office and the education departments maintained two separate databases, so I need to establish an account for the box office database. He then very pleasantly helped me get the exact tickets I had hunted for so many weeks.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dropped Off the Face of the Earth?

Okay, so I didn't actually drop off the face of the earth as soon as NaBloPoMo ended, but apparently I do better with structure than not. Currently I'm considering posting on all the odd days of the month (because face it, I'm a little odd).  Perhaps that will get all of these thoughts and ideas out of brain and onto the "page."

It is a beautiful sunshiny October morning here in Seattle. We're off to Japanese class and hopefully playtime with friends this afternoon.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mason Ball

Last weekend the kids invented a new game.  We call it Mason Ball.

Our dog loves balls.  He expertly handles anything round in any size.  After several near-punctures with soccer balls, somebody thought to get out the basketball.  It is too big for him to get his very large mouth around, yet still he maneuvers it lightening speed around the backyard with his nose and paws.

Mason Ball is not unlike soccer. The point of the game is to tag the far fence with the ball and then get it down the yard and through the goal, which sits about 3/4 of the way across our small space. It often takes 3 humans against Mason's fast, low, determined self to get the ball through the goal.  We play all-out until Mason lies down in happy, panting exhaustion.

At the end of the game the dog is totally exercised therefore calm and relaxed and the kids are happy and somewhat out of breath. I suspect playing Mason Ball twice a day may affect my children's soccer skills, free of charge.

It is the perfect game!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dog with a History

Something that became instantly clear when we got our new dog is that he has a past.

He knows how to walk on a loose leash.  He thinks he's supposed to sleep on the bed. He'd obviously never met a flag pole before. He has a general idea of what the word sit means.  He knows drop, not out, for letting go of the ball.  Nobody ever flushed a toilet in front of him before. He has a plan for getting attention when people turn their backs to him (bit them in the butt).  He's comfortable with kids, women, men and cats. He's had lots of time playing with balls of all sizes.

Our kids ask a lot about his previous life. When did the other people get him? When is his birthday? Did they take him to doggie school?  How sad might they be that he's gone?  What sort of food did he eat before? How did he get lost?

Some people seem to want us to pretend like we're it for him. Act and think like everything he knows and does reflects his relationship and time with us, like his life began in Port Orchard that day we met him.  Maybe because we just don't know anything about his past.  Maybe because it hurts everyone's hearts to imagine a family out there missing him everyday as much as we are enjoying him everyday.  And yet on a daily basis, he shows us otherwise with some practiced command we discover or obviously perfected trick he has.

He is so clearly a dog with a past that formed him to the pooch he is today.  The more we stretch to find those old commands and habits and invite them into our current lives, the easier life is for everyone and more relaxed he becomes.

So here's my big question.  If it is so deeply clear that my one year old dog comes with a past that needs to be discovered and honored, how can people possibly miss this need for their adopted children? How?


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

More House Elf, Less Queen

Friday morning ended up being the opposite of the mama's in charge, everything runs smoothly type of days I've worked towards since I started the Neufeld material. You know, the ones where I feel like I'm Queen of the Universe.

In the middle of the night Thursday, I woke up with a horrific headache.  An hour of fussing around provided me with the comfort I needed to fall back asleep, but I was way behind on rest when Friday morning rolled around.

By the time I dragged myself out of bed, the day was in full swing.  For several hours without me, the kids played playmobil, ate sugar cereal (and who was the doofus that brought THAT into the house?), built forts and developed a whole plan for the day. This meant that once I brought up my plan for the day, I was the problem not the answer.

Which was exactly as fun as it sounded. I had a critical errand I needed to run. For the next three hours I struggled - I wanted them to eat nourishing food and get cleaned up so we could go downtown. They wanted me to wait on them hand and foot.  None of the food I offered was considered edible, they screamed at me for ice in their water, demanded I fetch them socks and they bickered with each other like crazy. My clear pleasant requests were blatantly ignored, none of my great kid motivating tricks or games worked, none of my grumping helped, and they were still bickering with each other like crazy.  I felt like a house elf working for the Malfoy family in the Harry Potter series.

Then, like mana from above, a friend called and invited us to the beach.  I managed to get the kids out the door, and they played at the beach while I escaped on my critical mission.  I returned with delicious food they were surprised and thrilled by.  The busy physical work in the new environment, the shift from our unpleasant groove and the coup of returning with food righted the relationship.  Suddenly, I was in charge again and the kids were happy to comply, carrying things back to the car, helping set the dinner table, finishing up some chores that had gone undone during the morning.

The frustration and stress of Friday morning followed me for several days.  Being a house elf to two demanding masters turns out to be much harder and more exhausting than being benevolent queen to two cheerful and cooperative knights.

Which I guess gives me two pieces of good information for the mornings I'm struggling to get out of bed. First, the reminder that my getting up first really sets us up for success and ends up being much easier and less work in the long run. Second, when I've lost my grip at home, going out for fun and food is a great way to kindly put myself back in charge.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

"You Know What's Weird?"

Theo watched me counsel Rosie through doing a chore she felt resistant to.  Apparently my chorus of "Honey, I know you don't want to, and I want you to do it anyway" prompted him to a reflective outburst.

"You know what's weird? You tell us to do stuff, and we just obey you.  You tell us to do things and it's like we can't stop ourselves, we just do whatever you tell us."

My explanation to him that this is perfectly normal, I'm the mommy and kids listen to their mommies and follow their direction didn't sit well with his nine year old brain.

"No. It's weird."

Okay.  Weird, but nice, at least for me.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Congratulations to Me!

Here it is October 2nd!  I made it cleanly through September's NaBloPoMo and posted at least once a day.

Writing, and creating the time for it, takes a fair amount of energy for me.  I'm proud of the work I've done.  While I don't plan to continue posting everyday, I still have quite a bit of blog fodder in my brain and intend to post regularly.

Yay me!  And I hope you enjoyed the ride.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Colorblind = Blind

From Tim Wise's blog, here is a really interesting and compelling study.

Colorblindness Reduces Kids Ability to See

People are sometimes shocked by the things I discuss with my children, and the ideas and situations my children bring up with me.  I do it because I think my kiddos need to see and understand what is really happening in the world in order to both survive it (literally for black kids, live) and change it.

This study seems like nice confirmation of my choices.  And encouragement to do more.