Sunday, May 14, 2017

An Alphabet Book and a Project

One of our favorite alphabet books is Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming. It features a manic mouse constructing the letters of the alphabet. The mouse quilts the Q and tiles the T, for example. This weekend we decided to make our own action-oriented alphabet. The project took two days. We spent lots of time brainstorming ideas, and everyone made suggestions and helped create the letters. Here it is:

The Adventures of A (the movie)

 

Bag the B

 

Color the C

 

Coronate the C

 

Deal the D

 

Eat the E

 

Far away F

 

Give the G

 

Hop over the H

 

Invite the I

 

J in Jam (being eaten by Olivia)

 

Kick the K

 

Look for the L

 

Mold the M

 

Near N

 

Ogle the O

 

Put together the P puzzle

 

Queue the Qs

 

Rip the R

 

Sit on the S

 

Tape the T (and get tangled)

 

Under the U umbrella

 

Vote for the V

 

Water the W

 

eXtrude the X

 

Yap at the Y

 

Zap the Z

 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Clouds in My Head and Sun in My Cup

I know people who get seasonal affective disorder in December when the days get shorter and people who get it in late spring when the temperatures really start to warm up. I get it right about..... now. It has been cloudy and rainy for days and the clouds feel like they are in my brain and the rain feels like it is in my bones.

"My blood is Mediterranean," I rant at my husband this time of year. "I NEED the sun."

A few weeks ago I read Love Letter to the Earth by Thich Nhat Hanh. He writes of truly being present for a cup of tea. So a couple of days ago, head full of clouds and bones full of cold damp, I sat down with a cup of tea and I tried it. I looked at the tea and held the warm cup and smelled the steam and thought of all the people from the grocery store clerk to the truck driver to the line worker at the factory to the people who prepared and picked the tea leaves. I thought of the dirt that nourished the tea plants and the rain that washed them and gave them water to drink and the sun, oh the glorious sun that shone down on the plants and now came rising up out of my steaming cup of tea, and I smiled and I drank of the sun and the water and the earth and the efforts of all those people there in my cup.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Why I Wore the Hijab Today

Today, I went out into the world wearing a hijab, a Muslim headscarf. A few years ago a Bangladeshi-American woman started World Hijab Day. I first heard about it through the Council on American-Islamic Relations which encouraged non-Muslim women to wear the hijab for one day, both to share in the experience and as an act of solidarity.

I decided to participate in World Hijab Day for two reasons. First, I believe in freedom of religion. I believe that Muslims have every right to practice their religion in this country and should not be discriminated against, because of their religion. Let me be clear what I mean by freedom of religion. I believe the constitution gives Americans the rights to practice their religion as individuals and as groups. I do not believe that the constitution gives anyone the right to try and impose their religious beliefs on people outside their group. If a particular religious group does not believe in marriage equality, it is their right to not marry members of their religious group who are of the same gender. It is not their right though to tell other religious groups and individuals outside their group that they can not or should not do so. If a particular religious group believes that abortion is a sin, it is their right to tell the members of their group not to have an abortion. It is not their right to force people outside of their group to not have an abortion. We live in a pluralistic society with people of many faiths and nonbelievers, freedom of religion does not give members of one religion the right to impose their views on people outside their group. It does however give Muslim women the right to wear a hijab in public without being harassed.

Second, I wore a hijab today, because I believe women have the right to care for their bodies and present their bodies in whatever way they feel best as individuals. Control over female bodies, either through law or social pressure, is a major issue in this country. It happens on a spectrum, with seemingly minor issues like plucking eyebrows and shaving at one end and abortion on the other end, and a whole ton of issues, including wearing the hijab, in between.

More than anything, I wore the hijab today to show my solidarity with my Muslim sisters and brothers in our faith in God. The more I learn about Islam, the more I believe it is a beautiful religion, encouraging people to live lives of faith and prayer and charity, and I want to thank them for inviting me to share in their tradition.

 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Indoor Splatter Painting

So everyone knows the best part of Christmas presents are the boxes. A few days ago, Olivia and I sat down with a big cardboard box and a couple of those little paint sets leftover from craft kits. We started decorating the outside of the box with stickers and paint. Alessia and Adam eventually joined in. Then Olivia very dramatically "dropped" her paintbrush inside the box. My first instinct was to tell her to stop, but my second, better instinct, was "hey that looks like fun." So we started intentionally dropping and throwing our paintbrushes into the box and watching the splatters build up. We had two rules to keep the chaos contained. First, the brushes can only be thrown inside the box. Second, we take turns, letting one person retrieve their brush before the next person flings their brush in. A good time was had by all.

 

 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Alessia at 6

Alessia turned six a few weeks ago, and so much has happened since then.

 

She loves science and art. She reads books about space and the big bang and then makes drawings and graphs. She also told me one day that she wanted to see what God's creation had to say about God. And she took me around our little yard pointing out specific plants and exclaiming their messages to me.

 

Alessia worries a lot, and if I try to talk to her about standing up for herself and her body, she gets really upset, which worries me a lot. At the same time she told me that she likes books about people who are brave, and she was the warrior girl Claudete for Halloween.

 

She has a best friend at school. This is the first time she has had a best friend, and her happiness makes me very happy.

 

Alessia is sensitive and compassionate. A month ago, I was getting the house ready for a party, and she went out on the porch to check on a spider web. She called in to me, "mamma, there is a fly in the web and it's still alive." I reminded her that the spider needed to eat too. She responded from the porch, "I know, but there are lots of other flies and THIS fly is still alive." I told her to do what she needed to do. A few moments later she called in to tell me that she had blown the fly out of the web without damaging the web.

 

 

 

 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Mending is Hip!

Last week the girls and I were on the train, and a young woman sitting next to us had a jeans jacket on. The jacket had visibly mended wear spots. The wear spots were in odd places and the mending looked intentionally poorly done, kind of like mechanically distressed furniture. So I broke all the Boston subway rules and

I said: "Excuse me. Did you mend your jacket? Or did it come that way?"

She said: "Oh. It came that way."

I said: "Great. I was wondering when mending would become hip, and I guess it has if jackets are coming pre-mended."

I love mending clothes. I get great satisfaction when I take something that can't be worn, fix it, and then return it to its rightful place in my closet. There's almost a "stick it to the man" sense of joy, since I know the clothing industry depends on us throwing out clothes and buying new all the time. And I've been discreetly mending things for a long time. I can blind sew a popped seam, resew a buttonhole carefully matching the original thread, and last week I even mended a pair of my brother's leather gloves, working with the existing holes to recreate the original stitches.

Lately though, I've been particularly enjoying the rise in visible mending. Visible mending is exactly what it sounds like. Rather than making the mending as discreet as possible, the idea is to make it as eye-catching and interesting as possible. Contrasting fabrics are used to mend holes, and top-stitching is done in contrasting colors. That is the kind of mending on the jacket I saw on the train.

There are tons of directions online for mending. So I am not going to bother with my own, when the others are so good. Most mending does not take advanced sewing skills, and most of it can be done by hand. No sewing machine is necessary. So, give it a try.

 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Creation Table: Part Two

We finished our Creation Table on Sunday. It was a lovely experience for all three of us. The most challenging day was day four, the creation of the sun and the moon and the stars, "our way of keeping track of time," in the language of Godly Play. We had some great conversations about that day. We talked about how a day is the earth's spinning so that we face the sun, turn away, and then turn back again. I told them that a month is about the amount of time that it takes for the moon to travel once around the earth, and a year is the amount of time it takes for the earth to travel once around the sun. Alessia noted how different people use different calendars, not all of them based on the sun, so we talked about the difference between a solar year and a lunar year. At bedtime, the conversation shifted, and I told them that the day is for playing and learning and working and the nighttime for sleeping and dreaming. This is something I've told them many times before, but I think it took on new meaning that night.

After day five (the creatures of the water and the air) and day six (the creatures that go on land, including people), I asked them about the order of the days. This is a "wondering question" in Godly Play. Could God have created the creatures of the land, before God created water or plants? The question highlights how interconnected we all are.

On the seventh day we talked about God resting and giving us the gift of a day to rest and give thanks to God for all the gifts of Creation. We talked about how we all have our own special places where we feel called to give thanks, and how different people mark the seventh day in different ways - a cross, a star, and a crescent moon.

For each day of the week, I told the story of Creation as it is told in Godly Play, our church school program. We also read Let There Be Light by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. If you would like to make a creation table at home, and you don't happen to have access to the Godly Play version of the Creation Story, I would highly recommend this book. One of my favorite aspects of sharing the Creation Story with my children is it brings together our conversations about faith with our conversations about science, and I look forward to these conversations continuing and deepending as my children get older.