Thursday, August 22, 2013

Conversation Starter: Same Love by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Listening to the radio is a great conversation starter, especially when the songs piqué the kids' curiosity.

Some songs make me cringe.

Here is an excerpt of a conversation when we were at home listening to radio when Daft Punk’s song Get Lucky started to play:

Marie: What does it mean to "get lucky?" 

Me: Hmm, that's a tough one. I'm not sure. Probably when you think the bag of M &M's is empty, but you shake it really hard and a few more come out. You got lucky because you thought the bag was empty, but there were some extras hiding in there.

Here is another excerpt when a little song by Robin Thicke’s comes on the radio. Maybe you heard of it. It is called Blurred Lines

Thomas: Why are the lines all blurry?

 Me: Hmm, I'm not sure. What do you think? (trying to deflect)

 Thomas: I don't know. That is why I'm asking you.

 Me: Probably means blending colors together like when we make chalk drawings. Or someone is not clearly communicating something and the person gets confused what his friend is talking about.

These songs generally many me crabby because I do not like bending the truth about anything (although I make the obvious exceptions to keep Christmas and other holidays fun). I do not think never turning on the radio is a good strategy since Marie can hear it on the bus. And I don't want to not answer because I'm pretty sure if I don't come up with a good answer, Marie will just double check my explanation on Google.

But when a song like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s song Same Love comes on the radio, I am incredibly grateful for a chance to talk about something I didn't know how to bring up.

Marie: What is this song about?

 Me: (deep breath) It is about how some people are not allowed to marry each other. Some families are made of a daddy and a mommy. But some families are made up of two daddies or two mommies. Some people think that is not ok.

 Marie: Why?

 Me: Some people think they have a right to tell someone whom they can and cannot marry. Could you imagine how sad you would feel if someone told you that you couldn’t marry and start a family with someone you love?

 Marie: That would be sad. Someone did say on the bus it was illegal.

 Me: It is in some places, but people are trying I change that.We should accept people as they are and allow them to marry whom they want.

 Marie: Yes. (Very thoughtful pause) But I like his Cadillac song better.

Marie is not one for slow songs, but I am hoping that this conversation seeps down deep into her unconscious and becomes a part of her.  I hope because it came up so naturally, the idea of accepting others is just as natural.

Thank you, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis for a conversation I wanted to have but didn’t know how to start.

What pop songs have started conversations with your kids?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Rochester Review: Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve

I am trying a new series called Rochester Review.  I have wanted to live in Rochester pretty much my whole life, but concretely for the past five years.

I love the downtown area, which is really rare for this part of Michigan.  There are also so many beautiful parks and trails with big, mature trees near our house that have helped us maximize our time outside this summer.

Although we have yet to experience Rochester Schools, my research says they are pretty great.  (Our new elementary school has its own vegetable garden and they serve the harvest during a back-to-school event.  How cool is that?!)

So in honor of my dream coming true, I have decided to start the series of Rochester Review where I will write about the things I love about Rochester.

My first review is Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve.  

Now, I wasn’t even sure what it was expect some vague idea of a walking trail since my yoga teacher talked about going on walk there. 

I still got lost.  Thankfully, Harrington was there.  I might consider bringing
bread crumbs next time.

When we arrived at Dinosaur Hill, there was a building that looked like a little house filled with mounted animals and dinosaur bones.  I think school field trips are held there, but they day we went, the area was set up for a birthday party. 

After we checked that out, we went to walk on the trails.  And by trails, I don’t mean a paved road surrounded by some trees.  I mean it was a dirt trail marked by some logs deep in a forest.  This is so unexpected since the parking lot is at a dead end street in a neighborhood.

In the wild.  We actually had to step over fallen logs.
Almost all of us loved it!

As we walked in the woods, we came across this beautiful filed of wildflowers that we almost as tall as Thomas!

These were the biggest flowers I have ever seen.

We also came across this bridge.

Which was helping us cross this.

You know when you meditate and you have to think of something
beautiful and peaceful?  I think this is my new vision.

And we saw lots and lots of deer.  They weren’t really scared of us so we were able to get a good look at them.  This was also a great opportunity to talk to the kids about respecting animals.  We talked about understanding that we are in their home so we don’t run up to them; we give them their space.

Can you see the deer?  I think he stopped for the photo.
The rest of his family slowly meandered in the other direction.

It was really an amazing day.  Lately, I feel myself being drawn to nature, which by the way, is totally unlike me. But when walking in a place like Dinosaur Hill, I feel my head clearing in a way that I can’t when my computer is in the next room. 

I (obviously) value technology and let my kids have screen time (maybe too much).  I feel that if we are going to embrace all the wonderful aspects of technology, we have to balance it out with some serious outdoor time where it is peaceful and we can have an unplanned adventure. 

So how did the kids like it?  Thomas was in his glory.  He could run and be curious without the unwritten rules of socially acceptable behavior at the park.  Marie, well, she did not like it as much.  Yet.  I told her to use it for writing material.  So she wrote a haiku about how mean I was to take her into the woods.

Do you have a peaceful place to clear your head?  Do you ever feel you need to balance out screen time with some adventurous outdoor time?  How do your kids feel about it?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

New Love: Bedtime Math

I recently had a chance to review Bedtime Math by Laura Overdeck.*  Honestly, the timing was perfect on this opportunity.  Marie was just saying how she doesn’t like math.


I mean she is only 7 years old.  I know there are studies that have talked about girls loosing interest in math at a young age, but 7 years old?!

I wasn’t sure how she was going to take to this book since she loves to read stories.  However, what makes this math book so great is the story that is read before any math questions are asked.  One of her favorite stories was about noodles.  There was a brief, funny story about cooking noodles and having them stick to the wall to determine if they are done.  The math questions were all about figuring out cooking times. 

I think the reason that this book has piqued Marie’s interest in math is the storytelling.  She cares about finding out the answers because she is interested in the story.  This is a far cry about two trains leaving the station at the same time, but at different speeds.  Or something like that.  I was too distracted since I was wondering where the trains were going, who was on the train, what was being served in the food cart, would it be like the train in White Christmas – you know, the important stuff.

What I also like about this book is there are different levels of questions so as she builds her math skills, she can still use the book.  Another great point about the concept of this math book – there is no “right” way to figure out the problem.  Marie is not confined by a certain method of math so she is thinking critically about the problem and figuring it out on her own.  How awesome is that?!

I love how she is totally interested in math now and even ask to read Bedtime Math in favor of her beloved chapter books.

To be truthful, I was always confused and overwhelmed with math (re: the paragraph where I don’t remember train story problems).  But I am hoping that with a resource like Bedtime Math, she will gain confidence in math because she truly likes figuring out problems.

I don’t often feel like a rock star mom, but this book makes me feel like I may be changing the course of Marie’s life as she sees herself as someone who not only likes math, but is good at it, too.

How do you get your child excited about something they think they don’t like?  Have you ever had to put your feelings of discomfort about a certain subject aside in order to help your child?

*I was given a copy of Bedtime Math to review, but these opinions are mine, all mine.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

BlogHer13 Insight

Last year, when I returned from BlogHer, I lamented that I will not be going next year.  I felt burned out from the pace and energy of the conference.  I also didn’t know how it would work with moving.  Pretty early on, I made peace with the fact that I would not be attending the conference.

But then a strange turn of events occurred, and I ended up going with my friend, Emily, who knew of an early bird ticket for sale.  I was living at my parents’ house without a solid date for moving in to our new house. I didn’t know how it was all going to work out, but I took a leap of faith and just said yes.

At the Voices of the Year with Emily

I am so incredibly glad that I did. 

Before I left, I wrote about what I hoped to achieve at BlogHer.  I didn’t think of it as writing a wish list to the universe, but unbeknownst to me, the universe was listening.

I learned a lot of useful information about marketing and blogging.  But beyond that, I had a chance to really talk and connect with others.  Not just idle chit chat expected at a conference.  I had the kind of discussions that left me energized and focused and inspired.  Lately, I had been feeling dull; all of my energy has been funneling towards teaching and that, in and of itself, has made me feel insecure and unsure how to proceed as a mother and a blogger. I found clarity and a little more confidence in my choices . . .. thanks to the women that just happened to be sitting at my table. 

Loved these ladies from the Lean In Circle

Which is way more than I bargained for when I flippantly agreed to go to a conference I swore I wasn’t going to attend.

Oh, and this happened, too:

I met Sheryl Sandberg!

Can you believe that?!  I met Sheryl Sandberg.  You know, Sheryl who wrote Lean In.  I didn’t get a chance to tell how her book made me all teary-eyed as I am tiptoeing my way back into the work world.  I didn’t get a chance to tell her how her how relieved I was to read that boundaries do not hold you back in a career, they give you more focus on your personal definition of success.

However, when she came over to introduce herself, and I said, “Nice to meet you.  My name is Erin,” that somehow all that was conveyed in those two sentences.

I also had a chance to catch up with a great friend.  It is totally unfair that there is a whole continent getting in the way of us meeting for drinks and chatting like that all the time.  (Note: Annie, you were greatly missed).

Me with Elizabeth from Flourish in Progress

If I had to choose one word to describe my experience at BlogHer, it would be serendipitous.  And for that, I am grateful that I just listened to my instincts to just go.

Have you ever said yes to something without overthinking it and it turned out to be exactly what you needed?