Thursday, October 9, 2008

Easy Halloween celebration

Looking for an easy way to celebrate Halloween with your neighbors?   
Here's an idea:  Host a pumpkin carving party during the week before Halloween.   
You can order pizzas and make it BYOB.  Each family brings their own pumpkins to carve and takes them home after the party. There's no need to even tidy up your house if you hold the event in your yard or garage. Just be sure to provide plenty of garbage cans, carving tools, and a place for folks to wash their hands. 

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sarah Palin doesn't represent me

I'm horrified by the idea that there are women in the US whose views are represented by Sarah Palin.  I love the idea of a woman in the White House, just not that woman.  I want the first female president in the US (and make no mistake, there's a good chance that could happen if McCain is elected) to be an educated, well-rounded  role model that young girls could admire, rather than someone whose policies they'd need to fear.  

Check out her answer to how she gets the information to form her political views.  Apparently she couldn't even think of the name of a reputable newspaper.  

Friday, October 3, 2008

Fostering art appreciation

You can help foster your child's enjoyment of art and museums.  Here's what worked for my family.

When my kids were little, we set a pattern of taking them to museums and exhibits of various kinds. We started with the local children's discovery museum, airplane and train museums, the natural history museum, and science and technology museums.  We also regularly visited zoos and aquariums.  Hands-on museums were the best when they were in the 3-7 range.

As my kids got older, we started branching out into art museums, historical exhibits, and other cultural events.  To keep their interest, I found that it helps to create a little paper handout for them to fill out. I bring a clipboard and a pencil from home for them. For an art museum, the handout may include things like this:
  • What piece of art do you like most and why?
  • What is your least favorite piece of art and why?
  • What's the oldest piece of art you can find? Who created it and when?
  • Find a piece of art made from multiple materials. What's it made of? Do you like it?
  • Is there a piece that you don't think should qualify as "art"? Why?
When my kids finish the handout, I give them each a dollar or two to spend in the museum store.  This keeps them engaged and rewards them for participating.  On the way home, we talk about their answers. It gets them to think about what they're seeing and form opinions about it. And, they think it's fun. Kind of like a treasure hunt.

My kids are 12 and 14 now, and they both love to go to museums. They each have different preferences in art and like different types of museums and exhibits.  

Many museums are free for one or two days each month, so check around if you're on a tight budget.  

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Modeling responsibility

Unfortunately, I had the opportunity to model responsibility to my tween daughter the other day when I scraped the bumper of another car while trying to parallel park. I dutifully wrote out a note with my name and contact information to leave on the windshield of the other car, and I took pictures of the damage to my car and the other car with a camera I happened to have in the trunk.

While this event pretty much ruined my day, I look back on it now, a few days later, and realize I was given a great opportunity to model responsibility and accountability to my daughter. I'm sure that watching me take responsibility for a mistake I had made was more powerful than any abstract conversation would be. Of course, having the follow up conversation is also good.

So, look for those opportunities to model the behavior you want from your children, whether it's giving back the extra change when the cashier gives you too much, holding the door for the woman struggling with the stroller, or apologizing when you're wrong. Your kids are watching.