Tag Archives: kids

EG: The Redwall Books

In honor of the anniversary of the author Brian Jacques passing, I’d like to talk about one of my favorite childhood series: Redwall. It’s funny how I so recently decided to pack up my books for the future, only to suddenly want to unpack them and read them all over again. These are very solid books for older children, full of good triumphing over evil after a long and hard struggle. They contain role models for both genders, though boys will probably find the books more interesting over all. They are fun, relatively easy reads whose similarity in plot will only bother the most cynical (and least comprehensive) of readers.

It’s difficult to address a series as a whole, especially when I haven’t read most of them in entirely too long. I’ll give you an idea of what they are like by talking about my favorite, which I’m currently enjoying in dramatized audiobook format. The Taggerung.

You have the basics of every Redwall book here, evil vermin, the peaceful abbey, certain problems that need solving and threats that need guarding against. However, if one can ignore the basic plot, you will find a very poignant message. The message being that we are more than the people who raised us and it is ultimately our choice who we will become. The book is about leaving behind poisonous upbringings and breaking cycles of abuse. It is about overcoming challenges to become a better person. It is about leaving behind what others (who don’t have our best interests in mind) want us to be and becoming what we are supposed to be. I’d give you a more detailed synopsis, but I honestly don’t want to give anything away.

If the Redwall series teaches anything at all, it is to be courageous in the face of the cruelest of hardships. It may also teach strength and nobility of character, appreciation for simplicity in life, and the importance of community and friendship. It may also make your kids want to learn to cook (and perhaps even eat their vegetables), since the descriptions of the food are always a joy.

The books can be read in any order, but if you want, here is a list of the books in chronological order (as opposed to publishing order).


The Home We’ve Made

It’s been about a year since NSR, my mother, and I drove across the country to move him here. It’s been over six months since we were married in front of a small group of people in an unrehearsed ceremony. And, it’s only been a few months since I was baptized, confirmed, and received my first communion. In an equally unrehearsed ceremony. Our priest doesn’t seem to like rehearsing.

Life around here is good, even if it isn’t without its struggles. No life ever is.

In honor of us passing the six month mark, I wanted to write up a little post with some thoughts about how NSR has enriched my life and what I would lose if I was dumb enough to leave him.

Some of them are really simple, small things. He introduced me to my favorite band and an entire genre of music I’d never heard. Music I probably never would have heard. [This is a much gentler song than their usual fair and contains no swearing].

What started as a joke totally revolutionized my music experience.

NSR likes to tease me that I married him for his Amazon Prime account, while that isn’t true. I have to admit, I really enjoy being able to finally watch Deep Space Nine and explore the Original series as well. I had to throw that in since we’re on the topic of media at the moment.

As I mentioned in a previous post, his presence has revitalized my artwork. He’s given me a new enjoyment of it. Art for art’s sake. So it isn’t nearly as depressing that my art isn’t selling at all and I can’t get an art grant to save my life. It doesn’t matter because it is something we do together. We sit in coffeehouses and draw like a pair of beatniks.

He gives me the power to wear slightly unconventional styles and not feel sheepish or embarrassed. If he says it looks good, well, that’s all that matters. No one else’s opinion matters as far as my looks are concerned. The same goes with my weight. All you people out there who accuse me of being anorexic, who look down on me for not being overweight? You no longer have the power to drag me down, no power to shame me (If anyone knows how much I eat, it’d be NSR).

He compliments my homemaking efforts and encourages me in my new endeavors. He finds my container gardening endearing.

I can sleep at night. I can’t properly emphasize this for anyone who isn’t me. There are very real, legitimate, terrifying reasons I used to be unable to sleep. Even heavy duty sleep medication couldn’t knock me out. Now I sleep soundly every night with him by my side.

I have a mother in law who adores me. NSR is convinced that if we lived in the same town she’d probably go out for lunch with me at least once a week. She sends us a card every holiday and sent me a beautiful rosary after my baptism.

Speaking of my baptism, my faith is growing by leaps and bounds, nurtured by the church. I’m actually reading the Bible for the first time in my life. Yeah, I was one of those Christians who had never read the Bible. I’m working on rectifying that. Also, I probably never would have gotten baptized if not for NSR. My old church never suggested it was anything other than symbolic. A crucifix, a wedding gift, hangs from the wall behind me, reinforcing the spiritual integrity of our home and reminding me of my walk as a Christian. If I left NSR, I’d have to leave God too. I’d have to leave our church, I’d have to pack away the crucifix, my new Bible, the rosary, my baptismal candle and our engaged encounter candle. To break with him is to break with God. That is true in all divorces. Our situation simply makes me more aware of that truth, actually it makes that truth unavoidable. I can be under no illusions about that reality.

Finally and very personally, he has given me the opportunity to pursue my greatest dream, the dream of being a mother. The dream that no one bothered to ask me if I had. Who knows when God will decide to bless us, but needless to say, without him I’d never be able to receive that blessing.

Many thanks to my love, may we spend the rest of our days together, just as we vowed to.


WH: I Just Wanted to Share

I love this movie, it’s called Wolf Children (Ame and Yuki). It’s a story about the struggles of a young widow told from the perspective of her daughter Yuki. While those less familiar with anime will find the idea of the kids (and her husband) being werewolves rather weird, it ends up helping exemplify some of the truths the movie uncovers. Such as the fact that the modern school system isn’t suited for boys. This AMV is something of a summary of the movie.

I also enjoy the song. It helps me keep a good perspective on things.

“Glass half empty, glass half full
Well either way you won’t be going thirsty”

Anyway, as the title says, I just wanted to share. I’ll probably resume posting on feminine dress sooner or later.


EG: Forest Rules for Kids

These days there is considerable concern about the fact that most kids spend very little time outside and even less of that time in an unstructured form. This concern is not without reason and I thoroughly encourage any parent to send their kids outside into yards, parks, and woods. I learned many valuable lessons out there and I’m healthier than many of my peers as a result of those adventures.

However, because of a many years spending my free time in the same stretch of creek, I noticed some discernible differences between the way I and the kids I directly influenced treated the area and how other kids did. Somehow I managed to acquire a certain respect for God’s creation that other kids did not. Over the years the lack of respect for natural areas seems to have worsened over time, so much so that it’s almost painful for me to visit the stretch of creek where I grew up.

I’d like to pass on the previously unspoken rules and realities of the forest that I learned as a child. Because it’s good for your kids to be outside and enjoy unstructured play, but obviously it’s not good for them to be destructive or endanger themselves and others.

  1. The one everybody knows, don’t start fires unless you’re in an area where it is allowed and you intend to keep a sharp eye on it. Put it out properly if you start one.
  2. Don’t torment or kill animals. Following them curiously at a distance is fine, but don’t drive them out of the woods, throw rocks, etc.
  3. Don’t leave traps or snares around, take them down when you leave.
  4. Don’t litter or leave garbage, throw it away properly.
  5. Don’t drink the water.
  6. If you must go to the bathroom in the forest, bury it.
  7. Don’t eat anything you don’t absolutely know is safe.
  8. Don’t completely strip bushes or trees of fruit. The animals need to eat too.
  9. Use only materials you can find in the forest to build things.
  10. Don’t expect anything you built/left to be there when you return the next day.
  11. Don’t pointlessly mutilate trees. Carving your name in the bark is one thing, taking out huge gouges or destroying exposed roots is another.
  12. Drawing on rocks or trees with stuff that will wash away is fine.
  13. Trimming or pruning undergrowth to clear a path is fine. Hacking at undergrowth for no reason is not.
  14. Avoid raccoons.
  15. Don’t pick berries at raccoon level.
  16. Traveling/playing in groups of three or more is best.
  17. Make sure to make note of your surroundings so that you don’t get lost.
  18. Pick flowers, don’t rip the entire thing out of the ground.

The rules boil down to: Don’t hurt anything or anyone, leave no trace, be prudent, have respect, nothing here is yours.

A few ideas for parents who aren’t as familiar with outdoor play themselves or are nervous:

  • For older kids, get walkie-talkies. That way you aren’t hovering, but your kids can contact you if trouble arises.
  • For those close to creeks/rivers. Get the kid some wading shoes, that way they won’t ruin good shoes.
  • Wash off wading kids’ feet and legs with the hose before they come in the house.
  • It’s highly unlikely that wild berries will have been “sprayed” by the government, most local governments don’t have the time or money for such things. It doesn’t hurt to check how things are done in your area though.
  • Research local plant life and find out what is and isn’t edible. Teach your kids.
  • Teach your kids what poison oak, poison ivy, and stinging nettle look like.
  • Research local rules, find out if campfires, fishing, etc is legal there. Teach your kids accordingly.
  • Find out if ticks are common in your area, if they are advise your kid to avoid tall grass and thick underbrush.
  • Unless we are talking about some seriously untamed forest, there are unlikely to be large predatory animals.
  • If you are concerned, your best bet is a dog for a companion.
  • There’s no reason you can’t go with them and keep a direct eye on them, just don’t start every sentence with, well, “Don’t”.
  • Younger kids or irresponsible kids should be accompanied.
  • A scraped knee, blackberry scratches, or a sore, wet tush will not permanently harm your child.
  • The rules that I’ve outlined above are for daytime trips into the woods/ a park. Hunting and camping trips obviously adhere to slightly different rules.
  • Mint oil will help repel mosquitoes. Sunscreen helps prevent sunburn. Do not mix the two. This will create a rash similar to poison oak.
  • Pocket/utility knives are very useful, just make sure to teach your kid to use it responsibly.

Of course, all this is just from the perspective of someone who spent her summers knee deep in creek water with a mouth full of unwashed blackberries. I don’t yet have the honor of being a parent, but know that I’ll be teaching my kids these things when they come along. And I really hope you’ll teach your kids these things, or at least teach them not to litter. I’m no environmentalist, but a creek bank strewn with garbage is a truly depressing sight.

On the other hand, a child with twig-filled hair and a tanned, smiling face is a beautiful sight indeed.


EG: Don’t Lie to Your Daughters

One of my friends on facebook has a tendency to use her account for the purpose of reposting things. I mostly ignore this stuff, but then she posted this:

If I ever have a daughter...

This is awful.

I stared in horror, completely flabbergasted by how someone could possibly think that lying to a child like this will spare them any grief.

Let me tell you a quick story. My art teacher and father figure, R, teaches classes for children ages 6 to 18. He sees a lot of kids from a lot of different backgrounds. This particular child was an only child. His entire family loved him and praised everything he did, particularly his art. So he came into the class with a pretty confident opinion of his art. He was around 12. Now, he was not up to his age level when it came to art skills. He was still drawing suns with rays coming from them and such. R has the class do projects, so everyone is working on the same thing, with their own take on it. So, the kid is drawing and one of the younger children, who is about 6, comes up to him. He looks at the older kid’s drawing and says, “You need some shading right here”. The older kid was absolutely shattered. Existential crisis. His parents pulled him from the class shortly afterwards. The parents had done that kid a massive disservice. I have no idea what happened to him and neither does R. What do you bet he never trusted his parents very much after that though?

Lying to your children and sheltering them from the world is not love. It is selfish and cruel. You are not helping them in any way. The truth will out and they will hate you and never trust you again. You can’t control what your child feels, you certainly can’t do it forever.

What does the person who created this intend to do? Sure, they can tell their daughter she is gorgeous all day long. But, how are they going to keep their daughters away from scales? I get weighed every time I go to the doctor. We didn’t have a scale in the house for many years, that didn’t make me less curious about what I weighed. I would step on any scale I saw. I learned how to use one of those old-school scales with the metal weights because the chiropractor had one in the bathroom. Not having a scale in your home will not fix anything.

How are they going to keep their daughters from hearing “fat” and “diet” in their normal usage? Diet doesn’t even always refer to a weight loss regime. Koalas eat a diet of eucalyptus leaves.

diet

di·et

1 [dahy-it] Show IPA noun, verb, di·et·ed, di·et·ing, adjective

noun

1.

food and drink considered in terms of its qualities, composition, and its effects on health: Milk is a wholesome article of diet.

If you are going to try and control something, control what your child eats so they don’t get fat in the first place. Teach them good eating habits, teach them to adhere to a healthy diet. That will save them far more grief than turning the words “fat” and “diet” into swear words. They won’t have a bad connotation if you don’t let your daughters get fat.

She will feel the same emotions any human feels, unless she is a sociopath. Does this person want their daughter to be a sociopath? I certainly hope not.

All this will do is turn their daughter into a self important, entitled, unhealthy woman who will spend her entire life unable to get a boyfriend or husband and will have no idea why. Even if she wins the genetic lottery and stays thin, she will still have a deeply unattractive attitude. That and she won’t have any real self-esteem, because she will know internally that the praise is empty and unearned.

If you do this to your daughter, you don’t love her. You hate her.