Saturday, June 30, 2012

Being Elmo


We just watched the fabulous documentary Being Elmo, and it inspired some sewing and puppet making around here right away.  I love The Muppets and have a great deal of nostalgia for Sesame Street, but the beauty of this film is the picture it paints of the people behind the puppets.  I recommend this to everyone!

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Reading Life

'Tis the season of the summer reading program.  Besides the summer REading program I'm doing at church, the kids have forms for the reading program at Barnes and Noble and the one from the local library.  Barnes and Noble is giving out free books after they read 10 books and write a recommendation for each, and the library has a different coupon each week the kids can pick up when they come in and update their book lists.  At church they can pick a prize out each time they finish 7 Books - one for each UU Principle.


I question how much these summer reading programs really motivate kids.  I think a book is its own best reward, and kids who love to read will read in the summer no matter what.  Those who don't love to read aren't going to care about free books or coupons or little prizes.  And why do we try to encourage reading in the summer?  What about the winter - curl up with a good book in front of the fire?  The spring - rainy days are reading days?  The fall - the best harvest is between the covers of a book?

But no matter how ineffective the summer reading push may be, we continue to place books and stories in the center of our lives.  Our favorites recently:

Dark Life by Kat Falls creates an imaginative future where global warming has raised the water levels and led to a need to farm the ocean floor.  It's somewhat dystopian, but aimed for the tweens so the politics are a bit naive (and the love scene at the end of the book was painfully awkward).  Carbon loved it, however, and was intrigued by the idea of undersea living.  Too bad "liquigen" isn't a real option.

TinTin in America by Herge is a classic, but we did have to stop and talk to the kids about the portrayal of Native Americans in the book - it is simply awful.  Actually, I have all sorts of problems with TinTin, and yet somehow allow it to charm it's way past my normal standards.

Judy Moody and Stink: the Mad Mad Mad Mad Treasure Hunt by Megan McDonald has been a lot of fun.  I think I prefer the straight up Judy Moody books, which are aimed at slightly older kids, but in this crossover book the siblings are really a team, and not snarky rivals.  It's good for my sibling set and they are both enjoying it equally.

Urchin and the Heart Stone, the second in the Mistmantle Chronicles, continues the action right where Urchin of the Riding Stars ended.  This second book lacks some of the energy of the first, however.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A little walk around my front garden

I am blessed with this lovely homeplace, and yesterday we turned our attention to one little corner of it. A lot of this we've put in ourselves this spring, and much of it was covered with blackberry bramble up until very recently.  I'm loving how it looks as it gets cleaned up and made pretty, and I can look out my kitchen window on flowers instead of blackberry weeds.








Spoiled Rotten?


Elizabeth Kolbert has written a thought-provoking piece for the New Yorker, asking "Why do kids rule the roost?".  It brings up many really good points - not just about having "well-behaved kids", which has always seemed like a short-sighted goal to me - but about ending up with young adults who lack basic life skills and self-sufficiency.

The article also mentions the differences between American kids, kids from a Peruvian Amazon tribe, and French kids.  You can probably guess the differences that anthropologists have noted.

And my kids are definitely Americans.  They expect to be tended to.  They expect to get their way eventually.  They have too much stuff.

I don't like this, and I certainly don't like having to struggle to get them to do each and every basic task that life requires (brush your teeth, take a bath, come on now, don't make me ask 20 times!).  My husband and I were talking about what we can do differently, but there is also a culture that the kids are growing up in that influences all of this - some of this is out of our individual hands.

One thing I'm doing is teaching my kids to cook.  This week, after the crazy junk-food binge they had last week while I was away and Dad was flying solo, when I went to the grocery store I asked them each to use their snack budgets on something we could make together, rather than on pre-packaged snacks.  Hypatia chose Rice Krispie Treats - it's not exactly difficult to make or really from scratch, but I think it's a good first step with a 6 year old.  And as I type this she's behind me vacuuming, and my son is up cleaning his room, so perhaps it's not all hopeless.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Acts of Faith


Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation by Eboo Patel, is the UU Common Read book this year, and I just found the time to read it.

What It's About:

Patel explores what turns a young boy or man into a religious fanatic and/or suicide bomber, and concludes that the extremists are investing in reaching youth while pluralists are failing to do so.  He then explores his own story, and how he came to finally embrace his own identity as a Muslim and simultaneously establish the Interfaith Youth Core and work to bring youth of different faiths together through the experience of doing service together.

Why I Read It:

Like I said, it's the UU Common Read, and the UUA has also just come out with a high school curriculum based off the Interfaith Youth Core that looks very interesting.

What I Thought of It:

It's an interesting story, well-written, and nicely balanced between the personal and the well-researched.  For those interested in faith formation, Patel has gifted us with an open and honest memoir of how faith identity is developed alongside all the other identities youth and young adults are forming and balancing.  I really enjoyed reading the book.

Technical Note:

This was the first book I bought on my Kindle that I ended up wanting to highlight and take notes as   I read it.  Luckily, I was able to figure out how to highlight, and it turns out there is just as much satisfaction highlighting text on the Kindle Fire as there is in doing it for real.

My Take Away:

The book left me with so many thoughts.  First and foremost is that I am inspired to do more interfaith work.  We UU's spend a lot of time bemoaning how homogenous and white we are as a denomination, and I have heard many many people ask "why don't people of color want to come here?".  Acts of Faith did a great job of illustrating how much a part of someone's identity their family's faith can be - and how embracing that faith and that identity can still mean having an open, thinking mind and a willingness to explore and hear the perspectives of others.  If we want to be open to diversity, then we should seek that without holding up some sort of UU exceptionalism that says all others should convert to our faith.  Interfaith work, out in the community, will bring us all together without losing who we each uniquely are.

Now I really want to do the Tapestry of Faith curriculum with the youth group next year.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A brief tour of my garden

My garden at the new house has caused me much heart ache this year.  It just hasn't been good - I've planted three times and really nothing has come up.  The soil is bad, even after I worked in some good stuff, the drainage is bad, the weather has been too cold, and the slug population is out of this world  Bad, Bad, Bad.  A Learning Experience, except I really didn't need or want another freakin Learning Experience right now.  Enough with the Learning!  Give me instant success, already. :)

But here are a few good things from the garden:





Monday, June 25, 2012

Fantasy Landscapes


Back home again from GA (and happy for the cool weather!), I was able to get the kids out for our weekly nature hike this morning.  These walks are for nature study, but the kids view the landscapes we explore through at least two lenses: the real natural world in front of us and the fantasy world of their imagination.

A small stream is both a place to look for newts and tadpoles, while around the next corner a tree forming a natural arch over the path means "we are crossing into the underworld".  We'll be wondering what bird is singing, and then they'll spot a "fairy door" in a tree.  Today this tree pictured above caused oohing and aahing, and inspired the notion that "it's roots go all the way to the center - it's the magic tree".

Although these walks are hard to put in a box or categorize as far as educational goal, I am convinced that this is an important part of our family lifestyle and the kids' educations.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Witnessing at Tent City Jail


This is the end of GA for me, as I'm headed home on a ridiculously early flight this morning.  My flight is so early that I considered skipping the witnessing event that we were bussed out to the Tent City Detention Center last night for - I considered go to bed early so that I would get more than 3 hours of sleep.


But I didn't skip it, and I'm very glad I attended.  It was the first such protest that I've ever been to, and I was deeply moved by the overall experience.  Standing in a huge crowd of yellow T shirts, singing and cheering and waving our (electric) candles, I was deeply humbled.  This issue has not grabbed my heart until yesterday, but now I get it.  I finally get it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Stories for the Struggle


On Day 3 of General Assembly (today) I chose a workshop for the morning called "Stories for the Struggle".  In each of these timeslots, there are at least three things I want to go do, so this has been an ongoing process of having to make choices, and then experience workshop-remorse (like buyer's remorse, you know) if the one I attended didn't blow my socks off.

Well, I have no workshop-remorse about this workshop.  Reverend Aaron McEmrys is a moving storyteller, and he presented this workshop along with the Director of Religious Education that he works with, modeling a collaborative approach that was inspiring.  They handed out a sample of how they would build a curriculum around a story, and it looks good.  I'm completely inspired by it, actually.

So inspired that I had to run back up to the UUA bookstore booth in the exhibition hall and buy the book of stories McEmrys wrote, called After Aesop: Stories for All Ages, and get him to sign it.

There is a lot going on here at GA this year, and I'll be processing these new ideas for awhile to come.  Good stuff.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

From book to reality ... or author anyway

I just happened to pack this book (out of the pile that I'm reading right now): IMG_0809

I hadn't connected it with the speaker for the LREDA professional day or the Fahs lecture, but guess what ... Louise Derman-Sparks was the speaker.


How often do you get to hear the author speak about the book you are reading right then?  Pretty cool, actually.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Doctrine of Discovery

Here is some of what we're learning about and talking about at the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly right now:

The day today was moving and powerful, and exhausting.  It is all so BIG, and there is SO MUCH work to do.  But, as one speaker said today, when Hate shows itself, Love has to show up too.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Off on my own


Today is a traveling day, spent in airports and on airplanes, in taxi cabs and hotel rooms.  I do not do particularly well with days like this, and find that the lack of firm placement in the world makes me anxious and jumpy.  It's a bit better when I drive somewhere, because then the car becomes the "place", or a sort of home away from home.

But I could not have driven to Phoenix for the UUA's "Justice" GA, and I also could not skip it just because I am a poor traveller.  So here I am, in an extremely small and funky historic hotel room (built in 1927, this hotel has historic interest, but back then they really didn't have to give people windows or wide doors or bathtubs or anything).

And now what do I do?  Professional Day for the DRE's is tomorrow, and then the main GA stuff starts on Thursday, and here I am on Tuesday afternoon, sitting in my dinky little hotel room and realizing I am accountable to no one and could go do whatever I like.  This is always a bizarre feeling, whenever I actually get to experience it.  Trips are the big chance to feel this way, but I sometimes get this feeling in my hometown, on the days I have childcare arranged and nothing ends up getting scheduled for work, so I drop the kids off and then  ... what?

Is the inability to think of what you would want to do all by yourself a feature of parenthood or is it just me?  And do non-parents also experience this, that without others to relate to, or a schedule to keep, you just aren't sure what to do with yourself?


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day

Not much time today, but I did want to wish all the great Dad's out there a Happy Father's Day!

Two things for Dad's Day:


I got my JC Penney Father's Day catalog in the mail and I think the whole thing is beautiful.  They have pictures of real Dads with their kids (beautiful idea all by itself and all the pictures are sweet), but then there is this special picture of a gay couple with their kids - and that makes the whole thing especially beautiful.

I've drifted away from getting my clothes from JC Penney, but I'm going to go buy something there just because I love this catalog.

"The Happiest Mom" wrote a great post telling moms to Get out of the way and let him be a great dad

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Be Yourself


For the last few months I feel as though I've been getting smacked over and over again with the idea that essentially, you should be true to yourself.  BE YOURSELF - how incredibly obvious, simple, impossible, and easy to forget to do all at the same time.

Because I'm not always "myself".  Quite often, I'm working very hard to be the person I think I should be.  I'm working hard to be the person I think others will approve of.  I'm working hard at working hard.

Maybe it's a process of maturing, but I'm starting to stop and ask myself: "is the whole point of being alive really to earn the approval of others?", or more pointedly "at what point do I just enjoy my life and stop trying to prove to my father that I'm worthy of his approval?"  My father hasn't said a word about me - positive or negative - since I was 22 years old (except to make joking comments to my husband about how "scary" I am).  He may still be thinking all the things that I still remember as painful and difficult, or he may not think about me at all (most likely - I'm distant enough not to affect his life much at all, so why would he think of me very often?).

But the point is, it doesn't matter to me (or it shouldn't matter to me) what he thinks of me.  The approval or disapproval of my father is completely irrelevant to my life at this point, and I'm old enough that continuing to try and be the kind of girl/woman that he would love is a waste of my own one precious life.  Somehow this post has veered into more Daddy Issues baggage than I meant it to - but hey, it's Father's Day tomorrow.

Anyway, back to Being Myself.  Inspiration comes from many sources, and a month ago I was reading an otherwise uninspiring magazine and there was this ad (I think for Birkenstocks, but I've searched online and can't find this ad again) that said "Be Yourself By Doing What You Love".  And, in one of those moments of a lightening bolt to the head that says "Duh!", I suddenly thought "that's how I can be true to myself, by just trusting that feeling that I'm loving what I'm doing for its own sake!".

It may be obvious to you, but to me this was a revelation.  In much the same way that a high school kid may pick an extracurricular activity because it will look good on their college applications, I sometimes pick things to do with my time because I imagine it will earn the approval of someone else.  Anyone else, actually, as I have a whole chorus of possible Judges that I can bring up in my imagination and then apply their critical eyes to myself and be found to be wanting.

But if I try to do something just because I Love It, because it brings me pleasure, and not for any other reason, the cumulative effect of time spent in that fashion would be that I would more uniquely Be Sara, and not some strange puppet being pulled by strings that make no sense and that no one else even sees.

The first application of this principle has been that I'm reading more.  I love to read - just for its own sake - and I love new ideas.  I mostly read non-fiction, because that happens to be what I love the most, but I also like fiction as well and I even like (gasp!) a trashy escapist romance novel every now and then.  I have no master plan for my reading, and I do have to stop desperately cleaning and working and trying to always be productive in order to give myself the time to read.  I also have to tear myself away from the easier time-sucks of facebook and television shows (which are more hypnotic but I can't honestly say that I "love"), to give myself the time to read.

I want to Be Sara.  I want to Do What I Love.  I only get to do this once, after all, so why waste the opportunity?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Simply Fun Learning


We went to the state Homeschool Convention today, and spent a few hours wandering the exhibit hall. I gave the kids each a budget to spend on "something educational" - and if you are wondering I did have to say no to some things that I didn't think counted, such as foam swords.

So they had a budget burning a hole in their pockets, and after we perused everything they decided to go back and spend their money at the Simply Fun booth.  They have a large line of games, varying in how much they are overtly "educational", and different from what you can buy elsewhere.  We bought two, brought them home and played them each a few times, and I can report that I don't regret the purchase.  The game pictured above is "Don't Wake the Dragon" and it's a dexterity game with tweezers to use to try and lift the lizards off the dragon without any eggs falling off.  Educational?  I can't really describe it as specifically educational, but it's fun.

The game below is "Chess on the Loose", which is chess with three options for crazy extras that add some elements of random luck to your chess game.  "Frankencheck" wanders around the board being guided by cards drawn from a draw pile, for instance, and if he lands on your piece it's captured.  Once again, I can't really claim it has huge educational value, but we had fun.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Pattern Making Fail


It started off with a trip to the fabric store to let the kids pick out what they'd like for pajama fabric.  They've both been growing so much, they just don't have any pajamas anymore!

My kids have interesting taste right now, BTW.


Then Carbon told me he needed a new pair by tomorrow.  He has a sleepover tomorrow night, and he wants new pajamas for it.  I had to head into work tonight, so I really didn't have time - but I tried to squeeze it in between setting out dinner and heading to work.

And I Screwed It Up.  This is what I get for rushing it and not using a pattern.  These are cut like low rider hipster pants - except in kiddie print flannel with an elastic waist.  And if the fabric shrinks in the wash (I didn't prewash - no time!), they will have to get passed down to his sister.

A Big Fail.  Oh well, at least I tried.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why can't the tooth fairy remind them to floss?


My dear son has big teeth.  The adult teeth that are coming in are too big, in fact, and so we are engaged in more dental work.  With my history of bad teeth, my children are doomed - and so is my budget since this means we support our local dentists with a lot of business.

Now he has a spacer placed in, and that means he needs to floss and make sure food doesn't get stuck in under the metal.  Every night I need to remember to ask if he remembered to do it.  Why can't my children each have their own little "nag fairy" that follows them around and reminds them to do things - or points out when they have left their dirty socks on the floor or not put their dishes in the dish washer?

A "nag fairy" would be wonderful.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Busy Couple Days with the Animals


Today the boy and his dad took all six of our new goats into the vet for all their business to be dealt with.  They were too old when we got them for us to attend to the castrations ourselves (that and we've never done it before - that will be a real lesson for us all when we end up doing that someday).


And then we had a shipment of baby chicks arrive in the mail.


The kids are in love with the chicks!

I think this all counts as educational, as well.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Life As It Is


This week I learned that you cannot buy roses with their thorns still on.  All the roses for sale everywhere had been de-thorned, something I discovered on Saturday after I had planned our Bridging Ritual for high school seniors around the concept of giving them a rose with the thorns on "because we know we cannot protect you from the thorns of life anymore, but we're confident you are ready to deal with life as it is - the blooms and the thorns".

What to do if I couldn't find the roses with thorns?  Fortunately I did find four decent blooms on a rosebush in my garden, so we used my roses for the ritual.

This week I also supervised childcare for a huge memorial service for a young woman, one whose family has been part of our church since the daughters were teens.  It has been a deeply sad time for our congregation, and even though I did not know this adult daughter I felt the sadness and compassion in the air.

And then I was called upon to change several very dirty diapers, and as I performed that necessary task, I was struck by how incredibly life-affirming that felt.  Here is life, in all its mess and realism.

Life comes with many sides: blooms, thorns, sadness, compassion, messes, birth, death, love, loss, hope, despair.  Being part of a loving church community means more life, and more of a look at life as it is.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

the challenge


This photo is of one of those wildly impractical inventions to accomplish a simple task - in this case Carbon was inventing a Rube Goldberg machine to butter toast.

I wonder how often I'm doing this without even realizing it - making life wildly impractical when it could be so simple.  The challenge that I face, to keep a lot of balls in the air and not crack under that pressure, sometimes feels very Rube Goldberg-like.

An illustration: yesterday I got up early and finished tweaking an article I was submitting to the local newspaper's faith perspectives column, then the kids woke up and I switched modes to making breakfast, supervising morning farm chores, and then doing a series of homeschool lessons and household chores until noon.

Then a trip the Farmer's Market where I needed to pick up my CSA and my mother-in-law's CSA - only they messed up and gave me my sister-in-law's instead.  So then a series of emails back and forth with my sister-in-law's roommate trying to sort that out.

 I needed to do the shopping for work, for the BBQ I was hosting for our teens last night, so I rushed through a store buying hamburgers and all that goes on them, then we all rushed home to pick up our legos and head over to lego club (which was all the way back on the other side of town).  We got there to find a note saying it was rescheduled for another day - which seriously upset the kids - but did mean I got a free hour in my day.

Back home we headed, which was good because then my mother-in-law called about picking up her dog from me (I dog-sit whenever her husband is out of town because she works too much to take care of a dog on her own).  So while I'm logging some much-needed planning time laying out next year's RE calendar, I'm also waiting for the dog-exchange to occur, and I'm texting back and forth with my husband at work about the logistics of the evening's baseball practice.  The dog is picked up, I load all the food and my grill into our truck, and pack up Carbon for an exchange of parents at baseball.  He has to take a motorcycle helmet with him, so his dad can pick him up.

 I drive him to practice, only it's not where we expect it to be.  We're standing there looking lost when another mom drives past and shouts from her truck that they've moved the practice under cover because the mud was too bad on the diamond.  So we jump back in the truck and drive around the block and I'm watching the clock because I cannot be late to work for this BBQ thing .... then I get Carbon there, drop off his backpack with the snack for the team in it, and the motorcycle helmet, and dash a text to my husband about where to find the practice since it moved ... and tell Carbon goodbye and that his dad will be there soon.

Then I rush to work, where I barely beat the first arrivals.  Teens start arriving, but the other adults are late, so I'm on my own for awhile, supervising teens (and trying to keep them quiet because there are people trying to meditate in the church sanctuary), and starting coals and laying out the food.  Then the cavalry arrives, including my own dear ones who made it safely over from the baseball practice, and my husband kindly takes over the burger flipping on the grill so I can deal with other aspects of the evening - such as the minister arriving to practice the Bridging speeches with the Seniors who will be speaking at the Sunday worship service.

It turns out that I know how to operate the sound booth in the sanctuary but the minister doesn't, so I ran tech for the practice, did a visioning and feedback exercise with all our teens, and then did a more specific planning meeting with the other adult advisors while the teens proceeded to put on an impromptu dance party in the youth room, my kids went off to play with the toys I keep stashed in my office at church, and my husband retired to my office with his work laptop to go log some overtime. Clean-up, load the grill and the kids and the left-over food into the truck, and we're headed home by 9:15pm, with the motorcycle following us home.

Was there a simpler way to do all that?  And, in this way of doing Life and Children and Work and Family, where does work start and end, and where does family start and end?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Feeding their imaginations


Part of my role in our family is to seek out the fodder for our imaginations.  I control the netflix queue, and do the library runs.  I read book reviews and chat with other parents about what their families are watching and reading.

Sometimes it turns out that something I got is not of interest to anyone.  That's fine too.  And sometimes the kids hear about something from their friends and ask me to get it for them.  And that's fine too, although sometimes I try to check it out a bit first.

Here's some of what they have enjoyed recently:


DragonVale is an iPhone app that Carbon heard about from a friend, and then he just had to have it.  The nice thing about these apps is that each one is pretty inexpensive so it's a low risk for me to buy them for the kids.  Carbon loves this one.


The Lord of the Rings is pretty violent and intense for the kids, but watched in the light of day in our living room they love Tolkien's world.  After we watched the movie, I got the dramatized radio plays on CD from the library and Carbon has been enjoying that at night in his room.  Hypatia can't follow the action on audio, so she's skipping that.  Carbon was inspired to make wire rings, and he wrote a short book about his rings and their own magical properties.


The difference between a book on paper and an audiobook is The Voice.  Depending on the narrator, the book can be brought to life in amazing ways, and listening to these voices in our car is one of our favorite things.  Anne of Green Gables and Betsy Tacy have been giving us lovely gentle tales of girlhood and friendship, and before that Urchin of the Riding Stars gave us excitement and humor.  Andrew Sachs, the narrator of Urchin, is a familiar voice we've heard before and that the kids enjoy.


And then we read more books before bed.  The kids have been on a Bunnicula kick for the last six books, but now we're reading another Mistmantle book.  Can I match Andrew Sachs as a narrator?  No.  But now we get to see the cute little illustrations, so it has its compensations.

And I just have to add this because I LOVE it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

finding time to read

So I need to make more of this happen in my household:


 So that I can find time to deal with this outrageous load of reading riches that the library gave me today:


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Legendary Learning


Legendary Learning: The Famous Homeschoolers' Guide to Self-Directed Excellence by Jamie McMillin.

Why I read it:

I spotted this at my local library, and naturally would have to read it based on the topic!

What it's about:

McMillin, a homeschooling parent, worries about doing the right thing with her kids, as we all do at times.  All the conflicting advice and different methods of homeschooling leaves her more confused and worried, so she gets the idea to examine the lives of famous people (because they are easier to research, as she explains) who were successful and somewhat homeschooled or self-taught.  By looking at their lives, and at how they were schooled, she started to see patterns of what education prepared these people for their future selves.

What I thought of it:

McMillin was engaged with her story, and so that was engaging to read.  However, a lot of this ground seemed familiar to me, and although she doesn't credit it as so, the conclusions she reaches are very much like the Thomas Jefferson Method.  But the book is well-written and interesting, so overall another good read on the subject of self-directed learning.

The Take-Away:

For me, this was just another reminder that there is a middle ground where you aim for some instruction in the "basics" and also leave plenty of room for self-directed learning.  It also reminded me that the most important thing to learn is how to learn, and that the most important role of the parent-teacher is to model life-long learning habits. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Outdoor Classroom


It's our goal to get outdoors for a nature hike once a week from now until the weather is just too awful in the fall.  Today's walk at a nature sanctuary was cold and wet, but we saw some pretty ducks and had fun anyway.

These outdoor walks have so many benefits: connection to nature, health, fresh air, mental decluttering, boosts to our happiness, family time.  On today's walk we saw many older folks who looked like serious birdwatchers, and one small school group, but no other kids.  I've read all the statistics about how much time kids get outdoors now, and it makes me very sad.  We all need to go outside!


Gather the Spirit


We've just done the UUA Tapestry of Faith curriculum "Gather the Spirit" with our 3rd-4th grade class, a program that looks at one specific issue (water stewardship) through a UU spiritual lens.

You won't find it in the Children's programs on the website, though, because it was written to be multigenerational.  I loved the idea of doing a multigenerational program, but when I offered the class as a multigenerational one through our Adult Education catalog, we didn't have enough people sign up and it had to be canceled.  So I don't know how it would have been in a multigen group.

The program got a second shot with us for our Spring "Faith in Action" pillar with our 3rd-4th graders, and there it has been an excellent program.  I felt like the water chalice was a very creative idea, and the mural that gets added to each week was fun and popular with the kids.  Going outside on an animal scavenger hunt for one of the activities, and making aquifers in cups for another, were also big hits. DSCF6912

We'll definitely do this program again, and it works well for this older-elementary age group.  I wish I had organized the class to do a larger-scale social justice/water stewardship project in conjunction with the program, so that will be important to add in next time.

And, why do all these Tapestry of Faith programs have to have names that don't mean anything to parents?  "Gather the Spirit" is a hymn, and each individual workshop is named after lyrics from that hymn - it's clever but it means nothing to the kids and parents.  Titles that would actually draw them in, tell them why they want to get to church today, or what they will be doing, would be much better.

(Like all Tapestry of Faith programs, the whole thing is available for free on the UUA website.)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Something we've been looking forward to ....


We got to see the King Tut collection!  We've studied Egypt so much, and we have been waiting for our chance to see the exhibit for over a year.  Earlier this week the kids and I watched another King Tut documentary to get ready for seeing the real stuff.






Unfortunately, the crowds, the heat, and the dark were not conducive to Hypatia enjoying the exhibit as much as I wish she had.  She did like the jewelry, and everyone was glad to see shabtis (which feature in the plot of Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos).  Carbon would have happily stood and read all the tags on everything, so we had to strike a balance between the "just get me to the exit!" child and the "I'm still reading!" child.

Overall, however, a very fun Field Trip.