Coming to You from Spain: Guadix Troglodytes

Tangled Magic

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In the mountain above the city of Guadix, people live in house-caves.  The white pillars that you see sticking up are either air vents or chimneys.  We arrived before the museum opened, but a woman who was cranking out the awning of her store directed us to her “cueva”, to have a look inside for free.

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Her husband was waiting to welcome us in.  He’s there in the photo, behind the gatepost.

IMG_4980   IMG_4981 Kitchen, dining area, IMG_4983bedroom   IMG_4984 and bath.

The man’s family has lived there for four generations.

We explored the church, also a cave dug into the mountain.

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The Museum of Traditional Culture was a gem, situated in a cueva that was furnished as it had been in 1928 when the family bought it for less than $2.00.  We saw a film about the history of caves, from practical to religious.   The rooms were full of artifacts.

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What I’m Reading

Tangled Magic

Life in Yam Hill (Part I), by Tevin Hansen

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to live inside a giant potato?   Tevin Hansen wondered, and he wrote a whole book about it. Polly (Want a Cracker) and her good friend Bic (Lighter) know very little about the Old Earth that existed before the Great Unexpected Tragedy. But Polly’s adult friend, Jack of Hearts, has information about Yam Hill that could endanger all three of their lives.

Author Hansen has created a strange, orange world inside the yam, down to details of how people eat, dress, and dispose of waste. I was drawn in by the weirdness of the concept from the beginning. After the Elders showed up, things got really exciting. I can’t wait to read Part II!

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Because sometimes . . .

Because sometimes you wake up with a sore throat, an AWFUL attitude, and something growing on your face that looks like a second chin.

Because sometimes you just want to crawl into a hole for the next 3-5 business days, but there are still lunches to make, boo-boos to kiss, hair to brush…the list never ends.

Because sometimes the Wild Kratts’ Monkey Mayhem game is the hardest thing in the entire world, and Chris and Martin should crawl into a hole.

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Disclaimer: I’m really quite fond of the Wild Kratts. Their TV show and most of their games are wonderful. It’s just that my almost four-year-old isn’t quite ready for this game, and it is the ONLY one that he wants to play.

My little piece of imprefection

Fighting streaming from upstairs.

Piles of laundry everywhere

Dirty dishes in the sink

I want to scream, then stop and think.

 

Of all the places that I’ve been,

Of all the people met therein,

The three that are a part of me

Are in the chaos, a perfect dream.

 

Each new challenge met today

Makes me smile in a certain way,

As delightful as a sweet confection

My little piece of imperfection.

Yo Mama . . .

I was picking my daughter up from school today, she was doing her daily round-up of the goings-on in Kindergarten: how many blue tickets she earned (good), who was sent to the “buddy room” (a.k.a. what we DON’T call time-out anymore)…the the usual.

We were dodging bikes, excited kids, and trying not to get smacked in the face by swinging backpacks. Then I overheard something that made me shake my head and laugh out loud.

A group of third graders were having a battle of “Yo Mama” jokes. Things were gettin’ real at the elementary school, people! This yo mama battle was intense. Someone’s mama was so fat, another so stupid, and someone else’s mama was something so bad that it could only be shared in a hushed whisper.

All I could think was: “Seriously? Yo mama jokes? Haven’t we come up with something better than that yet?”

According to gizmodo.com the oldest “yo mama” joke is 3500 years old:

Around 1,500 BCE, a student in ancient Babylon inscribed six riddles on a tablet. 3,500 years later, these proto-jokes lose a lot in the translation, but one thing’s for sure: the Babylonians are saying something about your mother.

I like to think that we, as a species, have evolved over time. We’ve had civil rights and women’s rights, we’ve eradicated deadly diseases, we’ve overthrown corrupt governments, but one thing remains . . . the “yo mama” joke.

Why is it always about the mothers?

Respect the Mamas, people!

Mothers lovingly raise you, they wipe your butt, cook your meals, drive you to football practice, dance class, boy scouts, 4-H! And yet, we take this constant playground punishment! Here’s one for you:

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I am going to skip the book review for this blog because we are currently on a rotation of 15 early reader Rescue Bots books. And I’m pretty sure, if you have a preschool aged boy or girl (my six-year-old daughter is also obsessed), you can guess what they are all about.

Instead, you can watch this video of the amazingly awesome 80’s inspired theme song!

Stepping out of your sister’s shadow

Our eldest is a hurricane. She started talking at six months, walking at ten months. The first thing people ask upon meeting her is, “Does she always talk that much?” My answer is, “Yes.” She wears every emotion on the outside, for the world to see.

When our little guy was born, it became clear that he was a completely different kind of kid. We quickly dubbed him the “normal one”. He is an observer, a thinker. He does not run on impulse, instead he takes his time. He looks at little bugs on the sidewalk, clouds in the sky . . .

Then he turned three . . .

He is still an observer, and he is still my Pokey Little Puppy, but there was an explosion, a burst of language and coordination, and silly fun. Now instead of the “normal one” we ask, “Remember when he was the quiet one?”

The timing could not be better. As our daughter is getting into the swing of Kindergarten, our little guy is becoming his own person. He’s stepping out from behind the hurricane and finding his own way to be, which is something like a monsoon, intense torrential rain with beautiful calm sunshine after.

It’s hard not to compare kids, it’s one of the key building blocks to education, sorting and categorizing. As parents, especially moms, that’s how we relate to other parents, we compare children, experiences, lifestyles. I don’t think comparing is a bad thing, it’s important to embrace our differences, but it’s also important not to judge.

I received one of the best compliments from a friend. She said, “You let your kids be who they are.” I replied, “I try to,” because sometimes it’s really hard. But by embracing their natural tendencies, and encouraging kindness and empathy, they are turning into little humans that are ready to take on the world!

 

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Lauren Child has a way of creating stories that seem to have stepped out of any child’s life. The New Small Person, is the perfect example of this.

In this book a family of three turns into a family of four, and the biggest adjustments must come from the boy who was once an only child. As his new baby brother grows this big brother finally comes to the realization that maybe this new small person isn’t so bad after all.

My favorite part of this book is when he finally calls his little brother by name.

This is a very typical Lauren Child book, with the familiar characters and illustrations that go with it. It is full of texture and color and approachable dialogue that is fun and engaging to read together with your favorite “small person”.

 

 

We are bullies . . . all of us

So maybe, just maybe it’s time for us to stop trying to convince others to follow our point of view by trying to make someone else feel stupid?

Maybe we can actually speak to one another instead of posting mean hurtful things on social media?

Maybe we can be honest with ourselves and call ourselves out for being bullies . . . all of us.

Whether you’re right or wrong, aggressor or victim, justified or opposed, just because someone was cruel to you does not give you the right to be cruel back or be cruel to someone else. It doesn’t prove a point, it’s just mean.

At first I thought it was the election year with all of its negative rhetoric, but then I realized it goes so much deeper than that. It’s been a year of Black Lives Matter, Police Lives Matter, All Lives Matter. It’s been another year of justifying hate with belligerence on all sides. It’s been a year of selfishness, ego, and narrow-minded narcism . . . from everyone. Whether I agree with you or not, whether the majority agrees with you or not, this isn’t a post about my beliefs. It’s a post about treating people, like people, not profile pictures on the internet that don’t have feelings or families.

There are consequences for actions like these, and we will see them in the next generation. Our children are reflections of ourselves. They are like fun-house mirrors, turning our behaviors into over exaggerated  versions of what they see. But if this type of behavior gets any bigger, I worry about what that means for us as a society.

I realize that in posting this, in a way, I’m giving into all of these things, but I’m tired . . .

I am a naturally positive person, so much so that I drive my husband nuts with thinking the best of people. But lately the light in people’s eyes has seemed a little dimmer.

There is hope, though, always hope. I see it in several Facebook feeds that I follow.

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There are more, I know, and I plan on surrounding myself with them, and blocking/turning off the negative flood that has surrounded the people of our country. And I will pray for our country, for our leaders (whomever they may be), for the next generation. I will pray that they can all find compassion for someone other than themselves. That they can become selfless, humble, and generous. I will pray that we can all embrace our differences and grow together instead of tearing each other down.

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There are thousands of books on bullies, but there is one that is close to my heart, and speaks a lot to the point I’m trying to make. Alexia Versus the Birthday Bear by my husband, Tevin Hansen.

In this book Alexia is a very smart girl who finds herself at the school bully’s birthday party. It is up to her to save her not so nice classmates from a party entertainer that is actually a real bear that wants to eat them all for lunch.

The premise is silly, but the story speaks to the enormous problem of bullying. Almost every character in the book is a little mean at some point. Even Alexia is a bully to an extent because she holds her intelligence over her classmates. There is a section at the end of the book that asks the reader to answer a few questions about the characters in the book and examine why each are, in their own way, a bully.

This book is a great conversation starter. And hopefully with a little thoughtful dialogue we can be honest with each other and honest with our selves, and finally put an end to bullying.

To the grown-up man my little boy will become

As I lay in bed, snuggling with my little guy, I realized that one day he would be a grown-up man. And I decided that there were a few things I wanted to tell the older version of this little person beside me. There are things from this stage of his life that I want him to take into adulthood. Things to hold on to when the storms of life bombards him.

  1. Remember looking at the little things. Every rock, every bug, every bird in the sky.
  2. Keep asking questions and keep finding answers. Never settle for half-truths.
  3. Remember the simple joy of running and jumping, of singing and dancing to the rhythm of the world inside your imagination.
  4. Remember that sometimes life is like a giant heavy duty cardboard box (like the one you played with when you were 3 years old). Somedays you need a “boat” to float down the river and explore far away places. Other days you need a “house,” with a roof over your head to keep you safe from the raging storm outside. Just flip it upside down, little man. That box can be whatever you need it to be.
  5. Be kind.
  6. Be happy.
  7. Be brave.
  8. Be yourself, because that is enough.

 

In the spirit of the fast-approaching Halloween season, my “review” this week is mostly a throw back classic that we’ve already read at least 50 times since September 1st,  The Spooky Old Tree by Stan and Jan Berenstain.

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This book is full of spooky fun. It’s also a very nice early reader book, that actually keeps your little reader entertained!

My favorite memory of this book happened at the Lincoln Carnegie Library in Lincoln KS. Miss Mary, the children’s librarian, set up a story time featuring this book where the kids actually got to go on an adventure through the library acting out the story. She even had a big brown ottoman so that the kids could climb over “Great sleeping bear”.

This book is a classic and not just a Halloween staple. We read it ALL the time, especially at Halloween! So grab your stick, rope, and light and snuggle in for a great spooky book!