Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.
I’d forgotten this, but it turns out that WWBC had this same prompt last year! I talked about eating apples that were still attached to the apple tree in our front yard then, so I’ll talk about our tire swing this time.
If you’re unfamiliar with this sort of toy, know that they’re made from old tires that are no longer fit for traditional things like driving. My thrifty, environmentally-conscious uncle made the one you’ll see in these photographs!
A tire swing meant for young children is cut open lengthwise to create a safe pouch for little ones to sit in.
If you’re small enough to fit into it, you may still need a grownup or older child to push you.
I have such happy memories of gently being pushed back and forth as I sat in it. The specific adults in question are hazy but always warm and attentive. Sometimes my parents no doubt did it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if other relatives took turns as well.
I was the first grandchild on one side of the family, so there were lots of older kids and grownups around who relished playing with a little one again.
Those early experiences gave me a lifelong love of swings. There’s nothing like the sensation of riding in one. It almost feels like you’re flying if you go fast and high enough!
This memory probably formed when I was a tad older than the age I was when I took tiny bites out of apples that I couldn’t quite manage to pull off of the tree.
My family moved away from that house when I was about four, so this was a very early memory no matter which one technically formed first.
I’ll end this post with one final tire swing photo so that you will all know there was a time when my first brother and I were small enough to fit into a tire swing together. (Someday I’ll gush about my other sibling and other relatives in their own special posts, too. Everyone is equally loved in our family. 🙂 )
This sibling of mine is about six feel tall now and has his own kids to chase around! It’s a joy to see him make his wife and kids laugh. He can find the humour in anything.
He also gives the biggest, nicest bearhugs you can possibly imagine.
Looking at this photo makes me yearn for the day when I can hug him and everyone else in the family again. Someday the U.S. and Canadian borders will reopen and that will happen.
I’ll leave it up to him to reveal his identity or remain anonymous depending on what he prefers.
But look at those little munchkins. What a sweet moment in time.
This week’s prompt was a little tricky for me because it’s been a while since I’ve received a memorable book recommendation. I can be a bit picky about what I read, so I definitely don’t blame anyone for that. It’s just hard for some folks to figure out my tastes well enough to recommend things I end up loving.
These recommendations were all hits, though! They’re loosely arranged by how old I was when they were first recommended to me.
Who Recommended It: I believe my fifth grade teacher recommended it during or after we did a history unit on the Holocaust. Anne’s stories about living in hiding as well as the truth about what happened to her gave this era a personal touch that made it easier for my young mind to grasp the horrors of it all.
Who Recommended It: A high school study hall teacher. She had a shelf filled with books for us to read if we’d finished all of our homework. I picked this title out from it and was mesmerized from the first page.
Who Recommended It: My aunt. She had a large personal library that I was allowed to borrow books from while she was away at college and later graduate school, and I believe this was one of the titles she thought I’d particularly enjoy. Yes, she was completely right.
As someone who was homeschooled for several years, I have some tips to share for anyone who is planning to or thinking about homeschooling their kids this year.
Before we dive into the meat of this post, please note that homeschooling during a pandemic or other crisis is much more difficult than it is in ordinary times.
My parents had the luxury of time to research homeschooling thoroughly before choosing it. Their main concern was which curriculum to use and how closely to follow it, not whether any of us would catch a dangerous illness during our weekly trip to the library or grocery store.
Please go easy on yourselves. There are many different ways to learn, and most children are adept at soaking up knowledge no matter what’s going on around them. I know that my siblings and I did quite well once we transitioned to public school. In fact, we were ahead of our peers in certain areas like math and reading.
Tip #1: Discover and Pursue Their Interests
Whether they love computer games, sports, poetry or something else entirely, there are ways to tie many different interests back into academic subjects.
To give one concrete example, a kid who is obsessed with Minecraft might also enjoy learning about coding, computer science, history, problem solving in math, or environmentalism if it can be tied into his or her favourite game in some way.
Tip #2: Look for Non-Worksheet Learning Experiences
I must confess that I actually enjoyed our homeschooling worksheets, but that was because they were limited. We did a few of them a day and then moved onto other types of learning. Daily routines can be filled with learning opportunities for students of all ages.
Doubling (or halving) a recipe is a fantastic way to practice fractions and mental math in elementary school. Older students could figure out the cost per ingredient, serving, or entire batch of food, and that’s before we get into the cost of substitutions or how many batches of chocolate chip cookie dough they’d have to make to fill their entire room with cookies.
This same pattern could be followed for home repairs, automobile repairs, gardening, doing laundry, cleaning, and so much more. One of the things I didn’t enjoy about public school once I eventually switched to it was how much harder it was to translate all of the knowledge they expected us to learn into anything that was relevant to my daily life.
Homeschooling makes it much easier to show why it’s important to understand chemistry when deciding if you should mix bleach and ammonia* or how quickly compounding interest adds up when you’re deciding how much to charge to your 30% interest credit card or thinking about saving for retirement.
*Never do this!
Tip #3: Go on Field Trips
No, this doesn’t have to involve being around other people or visiting museums.
There were times when our “field trips” were a walk to a local park and a conversation about the plants and animals that we spotted there. This doesn’t have to be complicated or cost much (if any) money at all.
Some of my favourite field trips growing up were the ones we took to cemeteries and bigger parks in rural areas. My siblings and I had so many questions during these excursions:
What do butterflies eat?
Why did so many people die young in the 1800s?
Why does this stone look nothing like that one?
Who was the first person who ever decided to drink cow’s milk?
How do trees know when it’s time to drop their leaves or grow new ones?
Why would someone build a house out in the middle of nowhere?
Mom and dad answered our questions when we were very young. They also encouraged us to look up the answers on our own, especially as we grew older and could do things like read an encyclopedia or search the Internet.
Some of our questions didn’t have straightforward answers, but many of them did. The more we learned, the more we wanted to know. My lifelong interest in history came in part from the many historical sites my parents took us to when we were on vacation or even simply bored and wanting to explore local history.
Reading about historical events became more appealing to me in middle and high school, but I really liked being able to tie that chapter or book back to my memories of visiting places that were somehow connected to that era.
Tip #4: Offer Many Different Types of Books and Audiobooks
Think fiction, non-fiction, bestsellers, classics, graphic novels, and more. I was the sort of bookish kid who happened to enjoy a lot of classic novels, but it always bothered me when adults used me as an example for kids who maybe struggled with reading, didn’t enjoy it in general, or who simply found the classics uninteresting.
Not everyone will enjoy the same stories or subjects, and that’s totally okay. If someone wants to listen to an audiobook of their favourite Spiderman graphic novel, good for them! Their minds are still processing that information, maybe learning some new vocabulary words, and (hopefully) following the storyline closely to see what happens to their favourite superhero next.
Tip #5: Let Them Get Bored
As you might have already guessed, my parents slid closer to the unschooling side of the homeschooling continuum than they did the traditional one. That is to say, we had a lot of say in what we learned and how far we followed each rabbit trail as we discovered new interests.
Yes, of course we learned how to read, write, and do math. But our brand of homeschooling was a pretty casual one beyond that point. We went to the library about once a week to stock up on whatever books looked interesting, and then we were given a lot of freedom to decide what we learned and when.
Given that we lived in Wyoming for most of our homeschooling years, this did lead to times of boredom when snow was falling heavily outside. We either had to read books, write our own stories, study topics that interested us, or try to get one of the few channels on the TV to work.
These hours of freedom created kids who knew how to entertain themselves, teach themselves, and carve out their time wisely.
And, honestly, that’s been a real advantage for all of us in our adult lives.
If you were also homeschooled, what other tips would you give homeschooling families as the school year starts up again?
The Memory Attached to It: Sitting in the backseat of my parents’ car late one night while we were driving home from a long road trip. Mom read this book to me while my younger siblings slept next to me. I couldn’t wait to find out if Brighty would survive all of his dangerous adventures and kept begging her to read just one more chapter.
The Memory Attached to It: Sitting on the hammock on my parents’ back porch on a muggy summer day. (I think my dad might have been travelling that week and hadn’t been able to install our window air conditioner yet?) It was too hot for even mild physical activity like a walk, so I slowly drank unsweetened mint tea while reading this book.
The Memory Attached to It: Sitting in my grandparent’s basement while eating crisp saltine crackers, drinking a deliciously cold can of cola, and trying to stay as cool as possible on that hot summer day. My grandparents use something called a swamp cooler, so while there is some relief from the heat you still don’t want to run around too much in their house when the temperatures and humidity soar. Quiet activities are best. I really don’t enjoy heat waves, so maybe that’s why they’re playing such a prominent role in today’s post.
The Memory Attached to It: Sitting down to a hot, filling lunch after running around for five straight hours at work. I was famished and exhausted. It was such a relief to eat again, feel the aching in my feet temporarily reduce, lose myself in a book, and enjoy some peace and quiet before jumping back into the fray for the rest of my shift.
The Memory Attached to It: A coworker asked what I was reading and was a little surprised by the fact it was a romance novel. I had the reputation of being the resident science fiction and horror expert, but everyone needs to expand their horizons sometimes!
Disclaimer: This post is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any medical conditions. Please consult with a medical professional if you need medical advice. I’m simply writing about my own experiences here.
The first multi-day tension headache I remember experiencing happened at age seven or eight soon after my family moved to Wyoming. Our house was small and comfortable but rarely quiet due to the simple realities of how trailer homes are constructed and the fact that two adults, three young children, and a small assortment of mischievous pets shared that cozy two-bedroom home.
Ordinarily, the overlapping, never-ending conversations, barks from our excitable dog, clangs from the kitchen, and other noises didn’t bother me as a child of that age, but I did wish for quieter corners of the globe when my head pounded for days in a row. What I had instead were cold wash cloths on my forehead and the stillness that comes from lying down and waiting for all of our home remedies to chase that discomfort away.
My life has changed in countless ways since then.
I’ve since learned that mild dehydration, caffeine, and stress are among my biggest triggers for these long-lived headaches.
But every once in a while, one of them still sneaks past my best prevention efforts.
This past weekend was my most recent experience with a stubborn headache that lasts multiple days.
Along with drinking extra water, getting more rest, and eating chocolate when taking over-the-counter pain medicine to help amplify their effects, mindfulness is another tool in my headache-busting toolbox.
Headaches can’t always be prevented, but I can have better experiences with them when they show up by remaining in the moment.
Less Tension, Less Pain
My headaches often spiral into a negative feedback loop of pain leading to tense muscles that in turn lead to more pain.
The best thing I can do when a new one begins is to relax my muscles as soon and as much as possible.
This is where mindfulness comes in. Whether I’ve undertaken a formal meditation session on that particular day or have simply decided to breathe in and out deeply and slowly, every ounce of relaxation matters.
Sometimes this looks like me lying down and closing my eyes for twenty minutes. While it can lead to a nap, sleeping isn’t the goal. Breaking that cycle is the goal.
A Distracting Walk
I know I talk about my love of long walks a lot on this blog, but this time I’m thinking of them as a type of distraction instead of a form of exercise.
Ideally, the walk would take place in a natural setting like a park or a beach, but it can happen on city streets as well. It’s generally slow and meandering instead of brisk.
The purpose of it is to gently pull my attention away from my discomfort and to anything else happening around me.
It could be the sight of two seagulls fighting over a french fry someone accidentally dropped or the sound of leaves rustling in the breeze.
Maybe a jogger will run by and I’ll take a moment to silently congratulate them on their good running form. The sun’s rays could shine down on my forehead and almost feel like a warm kiss from a loved one.
These sounds and sights wash over me. I acknowledge them but do my best not to dwell on them once they’ve passed. Responding to small moments like these is a nice reminder that headaches, too, will pass and that I shouldn’t spend time thinking about how long they’ve been going on or when they’ll end.
There’s something about this sort of distracting change of scenery that does a body good, especially when you’re in discomfort.
Living in the Moment
Patience is a skill I’ve honed nicely over the years.
While medication dulls the pain of a headache in the short term, this is one of those ailments that needs time to truly fade away. It can’t be rushed.
One of the beautiful things about taking a mindful approach to headaches is that it teaches you to sit with yourself in this exact moment.
There’s something freeing about doing what you can to alleviate the pain of a headache and then stopping and observing everything you’re experiencing in that moment without judging it.
Will mindfulness cure headaches? No, not in my experience, but it can make it easier to handle them when they pop up.
Edited on May 13, 2020 to include two responses to this post: On Blogging and Requiem on Blogging. I’ve been blogging on various sites more or less continuously since I was in college. It started after I read a friend’s blog and realized I could do that, too. Several of the blogs I worked on… Read More
Hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year. My family lived in Laramie, Wyoming for four years when I was a little girl. We were low income, so my parents came up with all… Read More
Hosted by Long and Short Reviews. My earliest memory involves an apple tree. My family lived in a farmhouse on the edge of a small town in Ohio for the first four or five years of my life. An apple tree was growing in our front yard. As soon as the apples on it grew… Read More
Occasionally, I wander away from the usual topics on this site to share personal stories from my life. Today is one of those days. For about the first decade of my life, my family attended harvest festivals at local churches at the end of October and observed half-price candy day on November 1. (This a… Read More
Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl This week’s prompt is a cute one. I’m going to try to answer it without mentioning books I’ve talked about here many times before like Harry Potter, Anne of Green Gables, and the Little House on the Prairie novels. Not only will it make this post a bit more… Read More