Once upon a time…

Nugget 2

I happened upon a vendor, at the flea market, this weekend. She was selling old beaten, yet still useful, metal trucks. My heart was happy at the memories stirred by these relics. Days spent riding them over the grass hills of my backyard with my brother. Tumbling and laughing …oblivious of their sharp edges and lead paint…we used them in the unintended ways kids do with toys.
Out of nowhere, I remembered Halloween and the fun we had roaming our neighborhood until 10:00 pm! I reminisced for a moment with the vendor. We shared a happy talk of pillowcases filled with candy and the knowing we were safe because we knew our neighbors.
“Now, Halloween is limited to an hour and a half .” I sighed. “Oh well, the kids won’t miss what they never had, I guess.”  I walked away with a heavy heart.

The next vendor had a metal Popgun for sale. He wanted $20.00 for memory’s sake and I held the toy, not daring to buy, but allowing myself the memories of me, as Annie Oakley once again. Jamming the barrel with dirt that would go off, with a pop and a puff, was not the intended use, of course. Such happy times…

I’d just had a birthday so reminiscing was near, anyway. The rest of the morning held flashbacks to the happiest times riding in the back of pick-up trucks and on top of hay wagons, with the breeze and treetops at my cheek.
Building campfires on an old dirt road and learning to swim without life vests in the ponds and creeks, came back. Using a wood-burning set without incident and at an “inappropriate” age and the “Thing Maker” with molten goop producing plastic bugs. Riding an, at least 1000 lb horse, bareback at the age of 6 and wandering about the cows, who weighed the same, without fear nor injury because I had been taught about caution. Oh yes, and building bows with arrows of sharpened sticks with the Barlow pocketknife grandpa bought for me. Building jumps for my spider bike and riding with no hands…feet upon the handles…producing some scrapes and bruises, but what a ride! Climbing to the tops of trees and silos and getting scared but holding tight and cheering “like a gold medalist” when I, once again, found the ground.
These things are dangerous and won’t happen any more…why? Because no modern child would attempt them. They haven’t any way to test themselves…to learn caution as they grow by “uping” the ante of self-reliance. All they know is “You mustn’t try. You mustn’t risk. Your judgement is flawed.Don’t get hurt.”
Kids are taught to fear, now.  A fine beginning to taming them…self-reliance is dangerous, you know.
Wild colts can turn into sheep.

Kids won’t miss, what they never had…

My Hero

Daily Prompt: Heroic

When you were five years old, who was your hero? What do you think of that person today?
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photo-3

When I was five years old, Zorro (portrayed by Guy Williams) was my hero. He was a “righter”of injustices and defender of the weak.

I chose to write on this topic because I felt, Zorro, might be a controversial choice of a modern 5-year-old.

Primarily, the complaints would come from those who dislike the idea of violent images offered to our kids. Parents cringe about “armed” heroes, yet, I believe they are missing the message and ought to consider the moral fiber of fictional (and real life heroes ) with, as much, immediate concern. My former blog post “The Blind Eye”, was about apathy and fear in the face of trouble. This topic seems a fitting continuation of my point.

My heart still quickens at the thought of “Zorro to the rescue” and I really have no memory of him ever hurting anyone. He may have…but, my 5-year-old self certainly did not internalize the violence at all. What I remember most is that people “with power” can be good or evil and the good one’s are heroic only when they take action and risks. Zorro was also labeled a “public enemy” by those “evil” powerful folks who feared his interference in their corrupt and greedy agendas.

I believe that the pen is truly “mightier than the sword” and Zorro, if transported to 2014, would probably be a political blogger. A mighty dashing one, at that! lol

More than any time, ever before, there are medias that allow us to “take a stand” and to expose corruption. Fear of labels, cannot hold the bravest of us back, either. Touche’!

https://sillyfrogsusan.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/the-blind-eye/

To Infinity and beyond… Child Care Fun

Ava

Ava

I couldn’t imagine a happier profession than mine.

As a child day care provider, I get to play with kids everyday. Ideas are my passion and kids have the BEST ideas!

Yesterday, two of my 4-year-old friends and I had a lovely discussion.
My first question was, “How might I get to the moon?”

Jasen: “You would need super shoes to jump up there.”

Me: “Where might I get those super shoes?”

Jasen: “At Super Walmart, of course.”

We discussed the moon further and decided that we would need a gravity suit and air tanks and a Super Parachute (available, also, at Super Walmart).

Me: “There’s too much to jump with. How might we get our supplies up there?”

Jasen: “We’ll need a truck!”

Me: “There’s no road to the moon. How about a rocket ship?”

Jasen:”Where do we buy a rocket ship?”

Me: “Scientists have them at NASA.”

With that problem solved, I moved on.

Me:”How do farmers plant seeds in their fields?”

Ava and Jasen: “They dig a hole with a shovel and drop in the seeds.”

Me: “That would take too long for a farmer to plant 500 seeds. How do farmers plant so many seeds in good time?”

Ava: “They ask 500 friends to come over and dig a hole.”

Me: :”That’s a great way to save time! Good idea. But, the farmer would need 500 shovels, wouldn’t he? I don’t think he can get that many at Super Walmart. It would cost a lot and the inventory(I explained what inventory meant.) isn’t that large!”

So, I introduced and  talked about tractors and planters and plows.

Me:” Now, how will the farmer water her seeds?” … Notice the gender change 😉

Jasen:” She can get a hose.”

“Me: “I don’t think that there are hoses long enough for big fields.”

Ava: “I know! It will rain sometimes.”

Me:” Super Ava! That is what the farmers hope for. On a rainy day, remember that the farmers are happy.”

Jasen: “What if there are puddles?”

Me: “You are right, Jasen! Sometimes, there is too much rain and the farmers hope for the sun to come out to dry up those fields. Last Spring, my uncle and cousin, couldn’t drive their tractors on the muddy ground. They were very worried. Boy, farmers really need to count on the weather, don’t they?”

Our conversation progressed through the steps that produce takes to reach their dinner table. During the discussion, we realized the need for refrigerator trucks too.
We had one great afternoon!

What fun it is to be an early childhood educator! I get to witness that wide-eyed wonder every single day along with many opportunities for chuckles. 😉

Today? Well, we’ll see what comes up. It’s going to be fun!

The Price of Kindness

On Saturday morning, I took my granddaughter to the grocery store. As we were putting our groceries in the car, a man stepped into view who was talking on a cell phone in an agitated voice.

The gist of his “conversation” was that he’d run out of gas in an unfamiliar town, that his gas gauge must be broken and he had only two dollar to get gas which wouldn’t be enough to get back to Springfield.

His performance was very good. He added that he was afraid and pleaded with the “person” on the other end to help him and he was also trembling. Oh yeah, he added that he had been visiting his mother before he had gotten lost.

Katherine was buckled in and as I put the last bag in the car, I interrupted him asking,” Would ten dollars help?” He said some thing like, ” So much for you guys, some nice lady is offering me help! Thanks for nothing.” and he closed his phone. I could hear Katherine saying, “Oh grandma, that’s so nice!”

At this point, my instincts said that I was falling into a scam but my heart was unsure. What I did know, was my granddaughter was witnessing human kindness.

I needed change, and since Kat was buckled in, I locked her into the car to go to the desk for ten dollars.

When I came out, I handed the grateful, still teary-eyed, man the ten saying,”Please pass this kindness on to someone else one day.” His answer was, “I sure will. Karma is a good thing.” He walked away.

If I had been a man, my next step would have been to say, “Hey, I’ll give you a lift to your car.” This would have cleared up the scam or not, but inviting a stranger into my car would have turned a kindness into a reckless act.

On top of it all, I had decided that the lesson for my granddaughter was worth ten dollars and no longer cared if I had been fooled. I had spent ten dollars on more foolish things, for sure.

Katherine and I talked while we rode home. I explained that this man may have been lying in a very practiced scam but, since I wasn’t sure, thought it was a good thing to help. Also, that it is never a child’s job to help an adult. Dealing with strangers is never good for kids.

And now, two days later, I am convinced that I had been scammed as I replay the events. I would have still done what I did, though. And karma may have the last laugh, if that man was taking advantage of the kindness of others.

NATURE KNOWLEDGE: Giant Leopard Moth

new stuff 2012 007pointsMy previous Nature Knowledge post, from today, inspired me to look through my photos of caterpillars. I made another great find that I will probably keep next time that I encounter one. Above, is a Giant Leopard Moth caterpillar. This prickly fellow is not poisonous like the Hickory Tussock Moth caterpillar, although he looks formidable. In fact, Giant Leopard Moths feed on broad leaf plants, rather than, decimating trees. I had found this caterpillar at my camp doorstep in New York State. I’m sorry, now, that I did not identify it sooner. It must have been coming out from an eave where it had wintered.

English: A baby moth that hatched from cocoon,...

English: A baby moth that hatched from cocoon, raised the larval state black fuzzy caterpillar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What a lovely moth to behold! (Personally, I prefer moths to butterflies but they are nocturnal and are harder to find.) The photo specimen above, was an actual successful rearing of a caterpillar to adult.

Here’s another borrowed photo:

Giant Leopard Moth

Giant Leopard Moth (Photo credit: cotinis)

Interesting Facts

  • It might look dangerous when it is a caterpillar but it is not poisonous and hence can be an easy pet for children.
  • They get attracted to electric lights during the night, but some experts conclude that more than the females, the males can be seen doing so with the beginning of summer.
  • Since they navigate effectively in moonlight, electric lights can baffle them, causing them to hover around them.
  • The caterpillars can roll itself like a ball to mislead its predators, in which it exposes its spines and the orange segments lying between.
  • These moths are often regarded helpful in controlling invasive plant species.
  • On being alarmed, glands located in the thorax region can produce a stinking liquid to ward off predators.

My caterpillar photo was from last Spring. Hey, I’ve got some searching to do this weekend! The kids may enjoy raising one, almost as much as, I. 😉

NATURE KNOWLEDGE: Hickory Tussock Moth

Aug 2011 033come to me

This fuzzy little guy is a Hickory Tussock Moth caterpillar. Most caterpillars are discovered in mid to late summer. Usually, by then, they have reached a noticeable size from eating all season and growing from larva into full caterpillars. Below, is one common variety of Hickory Tussock Moth.

Lophocampa caryae

Lophocampa caryae (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are many varieties of Tussock Moths. Their caterpillars vary in appearance too. All are about 2 inches long and fuzzy/spiky in appearance . They love eating Hickory trees but will settle for Elm, Ash, Oak and Willow trees too. They sometimes can cause the defoliation of these trees.

weird 001The one above, was brought to me by my daughter who had found it so curious looking. Thankfully, she did not handle it directly. I found this warning when making the identification:

“The Hickory Tussock Moth caterpillar has poisonous hairs and spines that can cause skin rashes similar to poison ivy. If your child should rub his/her eyes or touches his/her nose after coming into contact with this caterpillar reactions can also include conjunctivitis (eyes), light sensitivity (eyes) and wheezing (nose).”

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/08/30/news/state/entomologists-beware-of-hickory-tussock-caterpillar/

Under a microscope, those little hairs are barbed. Seems these little guys are “armed and dangerous” to most prey. Thankfully, most toads, small snakes and birds don’t mind a bit. We are very fortunate that Mother Nature holds everything in delicate balance!

PS.~ These caterpillars were photographed in New York State and Massachusetts. The link to the warning talks about Maine but they are here too!

Artists come from Copycats

There is much to be learned from children.

Thankfully, I have grandchildren who will “keep it fresh” when I retire from providing day care. I’ve watched kids for the better part of my life. One thing I have  attempted, is to reevaluate my preconceived notions of how they learn on a frequent basis. Remembering moments of inspiration, from my own childhood, have proven of extra value.

When I draw flowers, there’s my flashback moment to a time I had seen a fellow middle school student draw a lovely daisy. It was not face-front with even petals (the childhood normal) but “danced” on a crooked stem and drooped to one side. That moment changed my view of flower drawings forever. In fact, it was a moment of artistic maturing that improved how I would approach all future drawings.

The old saying, “Don’t be a copycat.” is total bunk in my modern approach. I’ve found this especially true from watching the children’s visual arts evolve. I spent many years with a policy that I should not draw around the kids. I believed that my skills might discourage them or take away the purity of being original. Luckily, I just couldn’t help joining in at “art time” because, gosh, it’s fun. It became clear to me that many of my kids became happier artists from following my lead.

My most recent example happened last week. I was tired of my blank dry erase board so I created a Springtime scene as I bopped around my kitchen cooking supper. The kids noticed it the next day and studied it often. My 7-year-old granddaughter asked if she might add to the board. I said sure and handed her the markers. When she asked me to see what she had done, I had expected my drawing to have been replaced with a messier version according to her skills. Below is  the amended piece.

Katherine added two flowers and one lady bug. I rest my case.

art

The Question Mark Tree

question tree 1

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Carmella May Sweet,

Climbed to her seat,

Up in the Question Mark tree.

She was given a task,

Her teacher had asked,

Just what she wanted to be?

As she wondered, “Why?”

Her brother played spy,

Watching her, way down below.

Grandma came home,

Daddy dug loam,

Her thinking was sorrily slow.

A small forest newt,

In a bright red suit,

Crawled happily in the shade.

Carmella knew,

The day would be through,

Before her decision was made.

The farmer next door,

 Swept his barn floor.

As daylight turned to dark.

Suppertime near,

No answer yet clear,

Her dog was beginning to bark.

All day had passed.

She walked home at last.

Troubled ’bout who she would be.

Homework undone,

She started to run,

An answer came through suddenly.

No need to decide,

But simply take pride.

In all that she is everyday.

So much of what’s you,

Is more than you do.

So this is all she could say:

I’m a sister, granddaughter, daughter and friend.

A neighbor, love Nature, these things have no end.

I think I’ll simply wait and see.

For now, I like just being me.

Doctor Hopper

designallDoctor Hopper, a handsome dude,

 Only eats from happy food.

A helping hand or handmade gift,

Gives this fellow quite a lift.

He always shares and travels miles,

Seeking kids who offer smiles.

Wanting things, just isn’t why,

A person, sometimes, needs to cry.

Being glum is not okay.

It’s not your birthday every day.

A sour frown’s no good to eat.

Insects only like what’s sweet.

You’ll find this superhero bug,

In every single happy hug.

The doctor wants the world to know,

Nectar comes from the love we show.

Cheer for your friends, and family too,

Keep him fat, he counts on you.

Schools-what do we learn?

homeschooling afternoon

homeschooling afternoon (Photo credit: hbakkh)

There is an urban myth that public schooling is the best method by which we can teach children social skills. In fact, that is the primary argument against home-schooling. I beg to differ.

There’s a growing concern that public schools are failing our kids in a BIG way. There are many dedicated teachers, who do an excellent job, but the teachers’ unions protect not only the good teachers but the bad ones too.

When we are faced with the expensive and ,I believe, better alternative of home-schooling, there is the concern about the proper “socialization” of these kids.

We don’t do “sex education” before we feel a child is mature enough but we send kids off to school, at a tender age, for their first exposure to bullies, ridicule and peer pressure. They will be measured by grades and learning styles and will be kept in the classroom for the great majority of their learning experience. Hopefully, this classroom will have an orderly atmosphere and a small group but that is not guaranteed. Actually, it’s a “crap shoot” that your child’s classmates will be a “good” group. Sometimes, there is a larger number of “mis-behavers” and that is simply up to chance and timing. Teachers are not to blame,at all, but ask them and they will volunteer, readily, their memories of “good groups”.

A home-schooled child can visit real-life situations (grocery stores, parks, libraries etc.), as often as, Mom or Dad deems necessary. A “busy” child can be offered hands-on experiences and more breaks, as often as, he/she needs and the parent can correct bad manners as they present themselves in those real life situations.

There are youth sports and music organizations, available to the public, for the lessons needed in cooperation, and the taking of instruction from authority figures other than parents. The education is ongoing, year round, when the “teachers” are always present and fully aware of the curriculum.

It is so very sad that most parents haven’t the option of home-schooling. I do expect a growing trend of home-schooling, though. Families may re-evaluate the need and budget in a way to make it happen. Actually, the current stress on incomes causing grandparents to become household members, may offer them as home-school teachers or helpers with the family budget, affording parents the chance to teach.

The whole idea of home-schooling being a poor option is simply, not true, and cannot be supported by urban legends.

Those who have the ability and means to do it, have my thumbs up.