My oldest daughter loves animals, especially giraffes, so we took her to a drive-thru safari park to celebrate her birthday. The park is home to a wide range of animals including zebra, gibbons, buffalo, camels, and ostriches. The giraffes are in an enclosure that allows you to walk up to feed them.
Kora took a piece of lettuce and held it up for the giraffe. He lowered his head down and then he stuck out that long tongue! Kora nearly freaked out when she felt its tongue take the lettuce from her hand.
As I watched the giraffes, the phrase ‘never ceases to amaze me’ came to mind. It’s true – giraffes never cease to amaze me. This was not the first time seeing a giraffe up close and personal, but it might as well have been. Every time I see a giraffe up close I am taken aback by how large they are. I find myself just staring at the animals in disbelief and awe.
I started thinking about other things that never cease to amaze me. There are too many to list all of them here, but I will list a few:
Sunsets – My favorite sunsets are those over the water. I love the brilliant colors of the sky and the reflection in the water as the sun sets.
Mullets – The hairstyle, not the fish. When I see someone sporting a mullet, I am always amazed. I saw a kid with a mullet in the grocery store the other day, and it made my day!
Dolphins – Anytime I see a dolphin swimming alongside our boat I get super excited. Watching them swim and surface near the boat is thrilling.
American Ninja Warrior – It is unbelievable that these athletes can complete the physical challenges they are faced with on this show. It is amazing what the human body is capable of doing.
I’d love to know what never ceases to amaze others. Please leave a comment letting me know what you find amazing.
A couple of nights ago, I attended a lecture series given by the Department of Education of the town university. The evening consisted of twelve five minute speeches given by the university professors. Each professor gave an obviously brief summary of their research. The topics discussed included workplace incivility, the importance of nutrition in aging, girls in sports, and whether being a couch potato is genetic (turns out it is!).
The twelve talks were all quite different from each other, but I couldn’t help from chuckling at one similarity that I noticed. Each professor had his or her own way to say basically the same thing, “…so, what does all this research mean? Well, we’re not sure yet.” I found this simultaneously humorous and thought provoking.
Researchers can work decades on a project and still be years away from an end result. The thought of this was a little daunting to me. ” Who wants to spend the majority of their career on the same project,” I thought. Who wants to work years without know how you’re doing?
And then it hit me that I, in fact, had chosen to spend the majority of my ‘career’ on the same project. I became a parent. I don’t normally think of my children as projects, but I could. They are these tiny humans that need to be raised into big humans. It is my job to nurture them and keep them safe. It’s my job to raise them to be contributing members of society. And it is a job that takes years!
I work everyday to make sure that my little projects will grow up and one day become successful adults. I’m trying to teach them the skills they will need later in life. There are times that it would most certainly be easier (and faster) for me to do something I have tasked my toddler with. For example, I may have asked Kora to pick up her toys in her room. It would take me less than five minutes to go in there and do it myself. But what is that teaching her? That someone else will take care of her mess? So instead, we spend half an hour (or more) working on her room together. I like to think that I am teaching her organizational skills as well as being responsible for her belongings. I hope that I am teaching her to take pride in her personal space.
There are many times that Kora wants to “help” me do something. Let’s say she wants to help me make breakfast – she likes to crack the eggs and stir the pancake batter. I can crack an egg much faster and I can stir pancake batter without it flying out of the bowl and onto the counter, but I choose to utilize this teaching opportunity. I don’t expect my daughters to grow up to be chefs, but I would like them to feel comfortable cooking food. I think that kids that help cook their food are also more adventurous eaters. They take pride in their accomplishment and are more willing to eat food they might not try otherwise. Aside from learning how to crack an egg or flip a pancake, she’s also learning that it’s okay to make a mess (or mistake) and how to clean it up (of fix it).
I feel like parenting is a constant struggle between the “right now” solution and the “long term” solution. Perhaps my child is screaming that she wants a piece of candy for breakfast. The “right now” solution is to give that screaming kid as many pieces of candy as she wants so she will stop all the racket. She of course will be happy now, but what about in the future? I don’t want my child to have dentures before she graduates college. I don’t want her to learn that she can scream and throw a fit and get whatever she wants.
I try super hard to use the “long term” solution. I may have a headache from all the screaming and crying, but I stay strong and don’t give in to her. I want her to learn that no means no. I want her to learn healthful eating habits. I want her to learn that sometimes you don’t get what you want and to learn how to handle those upsetting situations.
The “long term” solution method is definitely not easy. It can be frustrating and loud and time consuming. It can make you want to pull your hair out. But it’s worth it. Or at least I hope it’s worth it…..I’m not sure yet. I’ll let you know in a few decades when my research is done….I mean, when my daughters are grown.
I’m trying to write today’s blog post, but I have zero ideas on what to write. As I sit here and think, my daughter sitting next to me is watching Wild Kratts, or as she likes to call it, The Kratt Brothers. She asks me what I’m doing and I tell her that I’m trying to write but my brain is blocked. I ask her what I should write and she rattled off a list of things to write about:
- Kratt Brothers
- more ice
She then proceeded to take my computer and start typing:
Not bad for her first blog post.
Kora is very familiar with listing items and expecting me to incorporate them all into one story. This is one of our naptime/bedtime rituals. After we read a story, she will give me a list of items and I will make up a story. Sometimes she expects me to draw the story on her back as I’m telling it. Spoiled, I know!
I love this ritual of ours for several reasons:
- Sometimes the items on Kora’s list can be difficult to string together, but it’s a fun challenge. It’s a mental exercise for me – puts my brain to work.
- Kora gets to be a participant in this creative process – she gets to decide what the story is about.
- I get to spend some quality time with my child – She’s all snuggled up in bed and wanting her story. This is as much a part of her bedtime routine as brushing her teeth. It’s important to her so it’s important to me.
So now without further ado I give you a little snippet of tonight’s bedtime story:
Once upon a time the Kratt Brothers were crawling on the forest floor searching for bugs. They found a baby ladybug and activated their creature powers. In their ladybug creature suits, the brothers flew around and around until their little wings were tired and they needed to stop to rest. They stopped on a leaf and quickly fell asleep. When they woke up the brothers discovered that it had started to snow. It was too cold on the leaf for the ladybugs so they flew to a nearby house to get warm. The house was very dark so the Kratt Brothers started looking for a lamp. Chris couldn’t find a lamp, but he found a tv. Martin couldn’t find a lamp, but he found a refrigerator. The brothers decided they wanted to watch a show and eat some yummy food. But when they opened the fridge, all they found was ice….and more ice. The Kratt Brothers didn’t want to eat ice, so they deactivated their ladybug suits, walked home to the Tortuga and ate some pizza.
Go into any elementary school teacher’s classroom and I’m sure you’ll find a stash of stickers – “Good Job,” “Awesome!,” “Way to Go”. My students always loved it when I handed back their papers and there was a sticker on it. They always seems so proud of their sticker. Even before kids are in school adults use stickers to motivate children into doing certain tasks – parents use sticker charts for chores, potty training, etc. Adults use stickers to praise children and show their appreciation for what the child has done.
As children age, they receive fewer and fewer stickers until one day they are adults and BOOM, no more stickers. It’s a sad day. Adults still crave the praise and recognition that a sticker represents – a verbal sticker if you will. A genuine compliment can make someone’s day.
” I can live two months on a good compliment” – Mark Twain
When we accomplish something that we are proud of we want others to acknowledge our hard work and give us those gold star stickers we feel we deserve. We want gold stars from our spouses, our children, friends, and even strangers.
Sometimes I feel like a little kid trying to collect my gold stars. I don’t just want praise for any big accomplishment, I want a gold star for doing the dishes instead of “letting them soak.” Got the kids dressed and fed today? Two gold stars!
Today I have a recipe for a scrumptious broccoli salad that will surely get you a gold star at any potluck. I have taken this dish to a couple of potlucks and I always get asked for the recipe. I consider that a gold star.
For this salad, I buy a couple of heads of broccoli and chop it into florets. I then toss in some chopped bacon, some thinly sliced red onion, and about a handful each of cranberries and chopped cashews. I don’t really like to measure out these ingredients. I just eyeball it and make sure it looks like I would get a little of everything with each bite.
For the dressing, I whisk the mayo, sugar, and apple cider vinegar together until smooth. Then just pour it over the broccoli mixture.
That’s it. Easy and delicious. Take it to your next family gathering or work potluck and you are sure to have someone asking for the recipe.
Once you try this salad, please feel free to leave any gold stars in the comments!
(This recipe is actually a copycat recipe of Sweet Tomatoes’ Broccoli Madness Salad. I found the recipe here.)