I'm on a steady diet of Fairy Food around here. It's the holiday craft fair season and although I'm feeling a bit burned out by making tiny food, it still makes sense to continue. So while the children snore I make camp on the kitchen table and construct little delights.
I also keep a steady diet of entertaining audio going. This American Life, Radio Lab and my new fave Here's the Thing (Alec Baldwin's radio show). Oh how I love radio stories! A couple nights running I watched/listened to the documentary about fracking for natural gas, Gasland, and became exceedingly alarmed and depressed. I found myself trying to meet the problems described in Gasland with info I learned on Radiolab - What if we "healed" all of the areas near leaking natural gas wells with biomass? All of the poop humans make (tons and tons of it!), could it be processed to a certain level and then injected into the earth to provide organic material and counteract the chemical damage? I'm no scientist but it makes sense at 12 am in my world of miniature romain lettuce.
After that I gave myself a psychological break and listened to/watched the Katy Perry documentary. That was a surprising delight.
By day the night world of little food and radio stories gives way to children.
These two munchkins have spent days on the living room floor with Littlest Pet Shop figurines. We've been reading the series called Warriors, which is about wild cat clans, so the girls' game is rife with intense narrative and long discussions about proper warrior names versus apprentice names. And to my delight, they've been getting along. Not all the time, mind you, but somehow we've cleared the playing board enough, dissected the dynamic and their goals for their relationship enough that we're all on the same page. When things gets off, when they squabble over one "following" the other up the stairs, we travel backward in time trying to determine the emotional beginning to the dissonance. We rewind, looking for when things went from friendly to annoyed. Usually it's a single moment, like when Xi threw a figurine and it landed on the guitar and strummed the strings as it fell. She told Echo about it and Echo was annoyed because she was standing right there and saw what happened and didn't need Xi acting like she knew things Echo didn't.
Seriously. That is enough to set the wheels of discourse into motion.
But we go there and give Echo empathy for her annoyance (which triggered defensiveness in Xi, which turned into passive aggressiveness in Echo, which inspired the "don't follow me!" argument on the stairs), and the two are all smiles once more.
My goodness. Maybe my life's work is fostering the sibling relationship between these two.
When Xi goes to her other house Echo drops the Littlest Pet Shop diet and resumes her audio story diet.
Sometimes I chuckle when I realize that Harry Potter is our actual school curriculum. Instead of imposing "lessons" on Echo we've been following a more unschooling type approach - following her lead and giving her materials and information that will augment her learning. In real life this means Echo pauses the ipod and asks: "Mom, if Ron Weasley has to write a report three feet of parchment long, and he has eight inches left, how much has he already written?" We get out the scratch paper and work out the word problem, which led to double digit addition and the concept of "carrying the one". She'd heard about this carry the one business before so she was over the moon about learning it. A couple worksheets later this kid is a pro. All because of a steady diet of Harry Potter.
And then there is Monty Python.
Nathan just finished a run with community theater as one of KIng Arthur's knight's (Sir Bedevere) in Spamalot. We went three times to see the show, absolutely delighted by the whole thing: the endearing characters, the catchy songs, the layers and layers of jokes. I knew it would be a fun project, and I knew it would be entertaining to attend the performances but I didn't realize how thoroughly we'd all dive in. It's been weeks now of Spamalot discussions, Spamalot sing-a-longs, and Spamalot analysis. Spamalot for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Echo falls asleep reciting lines from the play and asking for information about this phrase or that, this play on words or that. And then she wakes me up in the morning with questions about african swallows, or praise for Sir Galahad. She gallops into the library making clopping coconut sounds, and dances across the living room practicing the Can Can - all Spamalot inspired. If you'd told me earlier that we'd be using Spamalot and Harry Potter as first grade curricula I'd have thought you were crazy, but that's before I realized anything of interest is fodder for intense and serious learning.
Feeleez is marching along on a steady diet of helping children develop emotionally. We've picked up several new retail stores and continue to fulfill orders chock-full of our new charts. Did you know they are in the store now? It's fun. But our latest idea is HUGE. We're looking at developing a tv show for a national audience that follows four main Feeleez characters as they receive empathy from their parents (a lot), experience strong emotions (a lot) in a healthy manner, learn about brain science and meeting underlying needs by traveling inside their own bodies, and generally loving each other, treating each other well, and having fun. We think we need about six thousand dollars to get something together that a network could take a look at. If you feel moved to contribute, be our benefactors and help children across the world experience and develop empathy, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A steady diet of empathy, Spamalot, Harry Potter, sibling play, radio stories, and mini food. You just never know what's going to feed you until you eat it.