We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fairy Tales for Today

On my way to run an errand recently, I popped on the radio to our local NPR station where a panel of very ardent women were discussing the evil that is the Disney princess empire. One panelist explained her concern that girls get stuck with a princess mentality: looking for a man or money or just really long hair to solve life’s difficulties. They were also quick to point out that the male figures in these stories didn’t fare much better.  What surprised me was that their concern wasn’t just with Disney, it was with the fairy tales even in their original form.

Now, I don't like the disney-ization of fairy tales either, but these women were ready to strip all children's stories of anything that diverged from their political agenda.  We'd be left with stories in which no children lose their mother.  No children are  in any danger.   No ugly creatures are transformed by another's love. No princesses ever need rescue.  No strangers ever offer a poisoned apple.

It would be safe, I suppose.  But how anemic.  How boring.

Fairy tales present opportunities for a child to confront some of their biggest fears, for example being small and helpless in the face of bad people.  Once can see this most clearly in the persistent absence of mothers in fairy tales (only dead mothers and mean stepmothers).  Is this not the epitome of vulnerability to a child?  Fairy tales allow a child to enter into those deep fears, without them being too realistic for comfort, and imagine themselves triumphing by kindness, wit, bravery, and love.

I know this is not revolutionary thinking.  JRR Tolkein has written about fairy tales. Bruno Bettelheim published The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales.  William J Bennett has compiled volumes of stories that display virtue. GK Chesterton commented on fairy tales in Orthodoxy.   More recently, Vigen Guroian, a theologian, author, and professor of Religious Studies at Univ of Virginia, examined the importance of fairy tales in developing a child's "moral imagination."(a great essay, by the way)

Fairy tales are also just good story-telling.  A good story has a dynamic power which can fire a child's imagination.  When we feed our children’s minds on good stories, those that present Goodness (not just niceness), Truth (not just honesty) and Beauty (not just prettiness), they grow up to be adults who seek those virtues.  Fairy tales are all about Truth and Beauty and Goodness.  Captain Underpants, not so much.

I understand those ladies were just trying to do their best to provide their daughters with "strong role models."  But I would remind them that generations of daughters were able to love fairy tales as children and still manage to grow up to be wise and good mothers, hard workers, and faithful leaders in so many aspects of their lives.  There are more to those fairy tales than just princesses with beautiful dresses and long, flowing hair.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Daybook: Wednesday, Oct 19th


outside my window . . .  it is very drippy.

listening to . . .  a few of Artemisia's friends from Classical Conversations playing upstairs, downstairs, and on the stairs.

wearing . . . dark olive green jeans and a pale purple tank under a tan sweater.

grateful for . . . new, old chairs.  New to me, old to me: they were in my grandmother's home for many years.  We hope to recover them in the near future.

reading . . . Pride and PrejudiceThe Orthodox Church, my most recent "First Things Journal", and the Paul's Epistle to the Romans.

on my iPod . . .  just listened to an interesting show from KERA (Dallas) called "The Case for Boredom."


around the house . . . no more rearranging this week.  Plowed through Artemisia's room sorting clothes and junk.  She just needs a few items to complete some outfits for the fall.

from the kitchen . . . I mentioned last week that I needed to make banana bread, and I did!  Actually made Coconut Banana Bread.  It was delicious!

real education in our home . . . the girls and I read "Ferdinand" last night.  It is one of my favorite books.  I'd forgotten about the "corks" growing on the cork trees.  Artemisia asked, "Is that how cork grows?"  Had to set her straight.

recent milestones . . . Kalliope is now in a booster seat!  Oh, my, a new bed, potty-training and a booster seat all in the last month and a half!


Monday, October 10, 2011

Daybook: Monday, October 10th

outside my window . . .  the woods are really starting to thin out from the thick greenness of summer.  This might be about my favorite moment of autumn: still enough green to highlight the golds and oranges.

listening to . . . NPR, my corn chowder simmering, Kalliope trying to "cook" with me.

wearing . . . jeans, black top with bright blue tank under.

grateful for . . .  a successful backpacking trip for the guys and a relaxing "girls' weekend" for Kalliope, Artemisia and me.

reading . . . Pride and Prejudice, The Orthodox Church, my most recent "First Things Journal", and the Paul's Epistle to the Romans.

creating . . . or rather I created, a pretty silk flower arrangement that somewhat camoflages the mess in my sink.  With a houseful of people all day, our sink ALWAYS has dishes in or around it.  I'm tired of that being the first thing anyone (read: ME) sees when they enter my kitchen.  So, I made this big arrangement.  It is really pretty (pictures?) and does the job.  I love it!

on my iPod . .  . the SAME OLD podcasts because someone has "borrowed" my iPod sync cord again and I cannot find it.  We have three of these cords, and I still can't keep one in my desk without it being "borrowed"!

around the house . . . I rearranged my kitchen this weekend (I love to take on projects like that when hubby is away).  The bookshelves always just looked messy to me, and they still do a little, but in a more elegant way, maybe.  Messy or not - I live them much better.  Also rehung almost every single piece of wall art in my kitchen...and created a new mantle arrangement.  Oh, and turned my kitchen table on an angle, which I love!  My mother started doing this when I was in my teens.  Maybe it is a mother of a teenager thing?

from the kitchen . . . corn chowder with bacon tonight.  Beef Stroganoff Meatballs tomorrow night.  The bunch of very overripe bananas means there might be a batch of banana bread in my future.

real education in our home . . . The backpacking weekend has put us behind schedule.  Everyone spent Friday getting the boys packed up...and I took the day off of school with Artemisia today, too.  It was a good, quiet holiday.

rhythm and beauty in our home . . . an idea I have for that big flower arrangement is to slightly change out   some of the more seasonal pieces throughout the year.  The main pieces are fairly neutral and should look nice with other seasonal colors.


the church year in our home . . . not much been going on in this area.  I have made a few more icon for our little family altar, but we just haven't been using it as much.  One of the problems is that it sits on our buffet in the kitchen and often becomes a dumping place for little bits of nonsense.  I cleared all of that off and then refilled it with a basket of icons and a pretty houseplant.  Maybe that will encourage the family not to use the buffet as a rest stop.

recent milestones . . . Kalliope started potty training this weekend!

the week ahead . . . "Romans" bible study tonight and boys arrive home, CC on Wednesday as usual, Friday we have friends coming over for chili and a marshmallow roast.

picture thoughts . . .





Friday, October 7, 2011

Autumn Fires

Autumn Fires
by Robert Louis Stevenson

In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The gray smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!




Friends and fires and smores - they all go well together.




The girls have really enjoyed our newly dug fire pit.  We've had a few fires already and hope to have many more this autumn.  





Our neighbors from across the cul-de-sac came over to enjoy some roasted marshmallows, too.



This is L with our next-door neighbor.  They are both 3 and already becoming good friends.  Hey, they both like cheese puffs - what more do you need in a friend?




Thursday, October 6, 2011

Turning 3

Our Little L has moved from Toddler to Preschooler!  She has grown amazingly in the past year.  Here's last year's birthday photo:




And this years:


Notice the blurring of movement...that might say it all.  This girl is a girl IN MOTION!  She's busy talking, and walking, riding and hiding!  

Here are some of our favorite birthday moments . . . 

The kids pulled out the "Welcome Home" banner they'd made to welcome us back from Ghana.  

L received a sweet zebra pillow pet from  a long-distance family member.  He's very snuggly and is now named "Deeba" (that is L-speak for "zebra" if you hadn't guessed)

Farmor sent some new clothes and L was really so excited.  "My clothes?" she kept asking.



Dad-Dad sent a funny blue dinosaur.  L is very interested in dinosaurs.  She thinks they are dragons and she loves dragons because her favorite movie is "How To Train Your Dragon."



Gram and Fred sent a fun book, "Pete the Cat".  L had been introduced to this story through a YouTube video of the book (author telling the story and singing songs).  We love to dance around with Pete and sing, "I love my white shoes!" 



From her family, L got her first "American Girl"-style doll!  She was really excited about this doll.  I think it made her feel like a big girl.  And she is.


Bring on the Cake!


Auntie B stopped by to bring a gift, too.  A magnetic doll set!  


The girls went right to work getting the dolls all dressed up.


And from our friends, and fellow Ghana-parents in Cali, a wonderful book to share!


Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!



{pretty, happy, funny, real} -:- October 6


{pretty}


Kalliope and I gathered bags full of these lovely dark brown nuts.  They look like acorns, but littered the ground under what didn't look like an oak tree.  (None of the typical oak leaves I'm familiar with at least.)  Anyone know what these are?  Regardless, they are very pretty and now fill a tall jar on my buffet.



{happy}


Artemisia doing what she loves best - painting!  I'm such a bad mom.  She had to BEG me to paint.  "Mom," she pleaded, "I've been waiting for weeks to paint!"  It was true, she'd been asking and I'd been putting her off.  She's very happy, can't you tell?  

I don't know why I hesitate to let her paint.  She loves it and she is very careful to tidy up after.



{funny}


 A very silly moment. 


{real} 


My perpetually messy desk.  I've heard there is a "bread box principle", which I think means everything on your desk should fit into a bread box or it is too much.  HA!   On top of my white shelf is a radio/iPod/CD player that is almost always on, a photo of hubby in the island of Samothraki, an antique framed card my great-grandmother gave my grandmother, and a stack of slinkies to go in our CC tutor's goodie box.  I wonder what website that is on my computer screen?