Thursday, July 22, 2010

Approaches to Life Seen In The Slip 'N Slide...

Okay, for any of you who aren't familiar, the Slip 'N Slide (the picture above is the one we have by Wham-o and is excellent) is an amazing and wonderful invention. We had them when I was a kid and, while they have made incremental improvements in operation, they are fundamentally the same. They require very little skill, but some bravery. Watching the Beans do the Slip 'N Slide has been very interesting. On our maiden voyage, as it were, the Beans were 100% true to type.

JujuBean put her whole self into it - heart and soul. She hopped out across the end of the SNS and powered all the way to the end. Junior Bean tried hesitantly, stopped halfway then watched JujuBean and found his own style. ButterBean ran to the end of the SNS, came to a complete halt then sat and wondered why she didn't slide.

In life, ButterBean is the cautious (perhaps overcautious) one. JuniorBean us the watchful one. And JujuBean is the all-in all-the-time one. Fast forward to today. They've had several more Slip N' Slide sessions and today was the chance to demonstrate their skills for El 3atal. It was his first chance to do SNS with them. Since the first effort, ButterBean has developed a little more bravery about the SNS. It took some hand-holding (literally, I held her hand and ran with her to pull her down the slide), but she got there. So today, we had JujuBean who still goes 1000% and always end up off the end of the SNS. We have JuniorBean who enjoys trying new methods and paths. He seemed to have a alignment issue (he pulled to the right off the SNS just past halfway). And then we had ButterBean, who looked like a dainty little princess running along on her tippy-toes and then sitting up in a curled-leg position without mussing herself a bit. It was very cute. And it was simply a continuation of their approach to life. And, it's such fun to watch how they develop, grow, and learn.

Happy life-styles!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Crimes Against the State...

Sigh. Another disgusting story is in the paper today. Another daughter slaughtered. Another sentence reduction because the victim's (and perpetrator's) father dropped charges. Will we ever learn? This crime is not a crime against one person. It is a crime against the state. Hear me again, this is a crime against all of Jordan, not one victim, one family, one person.

Back in my college years, MimiBean had an unsettling experience where an oversexed teenager from down the street broke into our home at night with a knife planning to abuse her. Through a bizarre set of circumstances, she surprised him coming into the house, delivered an ineffective, but apparently frightening, karate kick to the fellow out of surprise. She recognized him as a neighbor and immediately called the police. That evening she gave a statement. At no point was she asked if she would like to press charges or drop charges. She wasn't charging him, the state was. And did.

You see, the state recognizes that someone who has so little control as to attempt such a thing is not only a danger to the intended victim, but to all of society. How much more dangerous is someone who has proven that they have no respect for the sanctity of life? If you can take a life, the life of your SISTER, what can you not do? Is there any boundary you wouldn't cross? How can you draw a line after this? So, again I ask, what will it take for Jordan to wake up and protect all of its citizens, rather than murderers? I love my adopted home, but in this it is seriously wrong-minded and wrong hearted... Stop these crimes against the state. Make Jordan a safe place for ALL its citizens to live. And, by the way, while the fact that this latest victim was sexually untouched makes the case even more sad, frankly, in the state's protection of her and of society it shouldn't matter one whit, now should it?

Sad criminals...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Learning variations across class lines... rich vs. poor

Many of you may have heard of a fellow named Malcolm Gladwell. He has written a series of books that, while not directly business books, have many things to say about doing business. Each of his books is excellent and I would highly recommend them all. All of his books share in common that they discuss human nature. Last night I lay in bed thinking about some of the concepts he presented in Outliers. This book seems to me to be the one that skyrocketed him into national (and international) stardom, as it were. This book struck a chord. And, interestingly, different people respond to different things in the book.

One of the concepts I found most interesting was the difference between poor children and middle and upper class children. He noted in the book that all of them cover the same topics during the school year. Each of them learns the same things. However each year the poor children seem to fall further and further behind. Gladwell attributes this to the approach of each class to summer vacation. Poor children are typically left to play and entertain themselves. They are often from homes with a single working parent (or none I suppose) and have limited opportunity to maintain or expand upon the knowledge that they gained during the school year.

By contrast, middle and upper class children often experience learning opportunities during the summer. I'm particularly interested in this topic since the Beans and I are vacationing in America this summer. And while it is, in every sense, a typical American summer, it is rife with opportunities for learning. For instance, this last weekend our small-town summer home had its annual "Homecoming". In honor of the day, we were swimming in learning opportunities. The particular focus was life in the 1860s when the town experienced a number of situations. The Beans had the opportunity to go on a covered wagon ride, visit a Confederate solider tent, and see a native American dance and living quarters. In addition, we've been to 2 art museums. We've also learned how to bowl and how to swim this summer.

We've continued practicing our reading in English and in Arabic (yep we even took part in the local library's summer reading program), but the focus has been strongly on experiential learning. So, I find myself wondering, in Gladwell's research, did he find that this kind of learning is as valuable? Does it have to be practice on the topics they learned in school or are they gaining just as much by learning in more interactive ways? Don't get me wrong, once we get home I'm certain that El 3atal and TetaBean will begin some intensive prep for the coming school year. But for me, I think this learning they've been doing is perhaps more necessary as it expands their horizons and reminds them that there is a world outside of Amman and even Jordan. It reminds them that some societies count their history in thousands of years and some in hundreds. Bottom-line, it reminds them that they are of two cultures, each important, each valuable, each beautiful. So, here's to intercultural learning!

Happy Summers!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

What Vacations Do YOU Remember From Your Childhood?

So, msn had a list today of the most memorable vacations for your kids... I'm thinking about what vacations I remember. What are the things that stick most in my mind... Care to share yours?

The funny thing is that most of my memories aren't about the places, they're about the people. One significant exception would be the tour of Italy and Greece when I was 13. remember parts of that very well. Here are the things I remember:
  1. Horse Pens 40 ( This is where my mom taught us about camping, hiking through the woods and picking (and eating) fresh watercress, pickin' and grinnin' and other necessary things for all Southerners (right?).
  2. Ruby Falls ( This waterfall is distinctive as it is 145 feet tall, but is totally encapsulated in a mountain. That's right, this thing is underground. The trip to get there is really cool and features neat cave formations. In addition, there are billboards across Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee urging you to visit Ruby Falls.
  3. Rock City ( Next door to Ruby Falls, this attraction also sports billboards (barns (over 900 of them in this campaign's heyday from Michigan to Texas), etc.) that urge you to See Rock City! This park has beautiful views and fun rock trails (Fat Man's Squeeze was always my favorite spot in the place).
  4. Tallahassee, FL. Mom had a friend that moved there. Actually, to be specific I don't remember Tallahassee, I remember the trip there and back...
  5. Clearwater, FL. Gorgeous beaches (at least pre-spill). You can go tot he end of a pier in 30 feet of water and it is as clear as standing on the shore. Literally, you think you could jump in and touch the bottom :).

Okay, I'm tired and that's all I've got for tonight. What are your favorite destinations? Any that you have or will be taking your kids?

Happy Road Trips!