Miss Night's Marbles

Musings, mumbles, marvels, and sometimes mockery, live from kindergarten.

Weekend Latte & Links: Balance, addiction, joy, and lip balm

Look at me, blogging on time! I’m also realizing that it has been a long time since I have posted anything that was NOT Latte & Links, and I promise there are some things in the works… Patience, grasshopper. As it is, doing this Sunday gig has me posting far more regularly that any previous time in my blogging life.

(As always, full disclosure: All product links on my site are Amazon affiliate links, and if you click through and actually buy stuff, a small percentage of the cost goes to help THAT kid, in a number of ways.) On a related note: if I added a page to the blog, where all my book and product recommendations could be found in one place, would that be useful? Would you look there? What should I call it? Feel free to answer in the comments!

Right now: It is chilly and snowy outside, after a 2 week false spring. There are beef ribs in the slow-cooker and Freddy is asleep in the rocking chair, in front of the fire. There is apparently some sort of sports event on the teevee today, and normally I try to go to the movies on sports days involving cups and bowls, but home feels good, today.

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Shiny brilliance of the week:

  • There is no such thing as balance, by fellow blogger Pernille Ripp. This line cuts to the very heart of things: “We forget that as teachers we cannot save the world.  That yes, we can try to change the life of a child in our classrooms but we hold a much greater power at home.” Our work is important, but not more important than our own loved ones.
  • Food is a Death Sentence to These Kids. For many years when I was a teenager, my dad was involved with a woman whose adult daughter had Prader-Willi Syndrome. This gave me a basic education about the realities of PW — a genetic condition that causes mild mental retardation, short stature, and, most signficantly, constant, obsessive hunger combined with an incredibly slow metabolism. I am still surprised at how few people know about the syndrome and the challenges it poses to the kids who have it and their families. This New York Times piece does an excellent job (and also highlights that additional obstacles that arise when a chronic health condition is combined with low-income and poor health insurance….)
  • Joy: A subject Schools Lack. What if it was mandated that schools build JOY into our curriculums, our values, our pedagogy? How would that change everything we do? Why do we cling to the myth that learning can only happen when we “get serious?”
  • The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think. I don’t know about all the science behind this theory, but it is an entirely new framework for considering addiction. “For a century now, we have been singing war songs about addicts. It occurred to me as I wiped his brow, we should have been singing love songs to them all along.”

On the nightstand:

  • Confession: I have not added anything to my book pile this week. I am still reading The Deepest Secret (although I will probably finish it soon), and it is still engrossing, interesting, and also fairly lightweight. I have not touched The Poisonwood Bible in a while, not because it is not good (it is EXCELLENT), but because my attention span has been better suited to lighter fare. I’m still savouring my way through my umpteenth read of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and (spoiler alert) as soon as Harry kills that damn basilisk, I’m going to dive into Wonder.

On the Audible app:

  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I have been listening to this in fits and starts, for a few months. If you are an introvert like me, if you know an introvert, if you just read that sentence and thought “Wait, Amy, YOU are NOT an introvert,” if you are raising an introvert, if you have ever wondered if there is something wrong with you because you would rather be at home in your pyjamas than go just about anywhere, if you think introverted means shy, if you don’t understand what I mean when I say that corporate culture idealizes extroverts, if you HATE ice breaker games**, or if you think people who hate icebreakers are just uptight, YOU NEED TO READ THIS.

One thing you should buy:

  • Rosebud Salve. At great risk of sounding like I am selling snake oil, this stuff is magic. Lip balm, cuticle cream, great for cracked heels and scaly elbows, it smells like heaven and the tin is so pretty. It would be a very fun and affordable little Valentine’s Day present, too!


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(Almost) Weekend Latte & Links: Secrets, falling out of love, a slap, and 100 coloured pencils

I know. I’m late. I had to work on Saturday (it’s admissions season for private schools, which means I spent the morning with tiny prospective students and their very anxious parents. It is fun for me, and the kids, but much less so for mom and dad), which made the weekend not really FEEL like a weekend, so suddenly it was Sunday night and I had not posted. BUT: it is apparently a long weekend in Australia, so maybe that is a good enough excuse? Ok, on with it…

(Full disclosure: All product links on my site are Amazon affiliate links, and if you click through and actually buy stuff, a small percentage of the cost goes to help THAT kid, in a number of ways.)

Right now: Outside it is dark, but warm and clear like a spring night. The snow is all melted and the sky was blue all day, and the kiddos didn’t even really need coats at recess. Inside, my candles are lit and I have a belly full of pulled pork enchiladas. Today was kind of a bumpy day, but tomorrow will be better.

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Shiny Brilliance of the week: (I’m actually having trouble choosing, because I read so many AMAZING things this week… last week… you know what I mean.)

  • A Mother’s 17-Year Old Secret. I love the Brain, Child site, and this piece, about becoming human in front of our children, did not disappoint. Beautiful and hopeful and heartbreaking.
  • Should Schools Teach Personality? This New York Times piece raises some thought-provoking questions about character education programs, values-based education, whether these are the same thing, whether personality can and should be taught… Big, chewy, questions that dig down to the very purpose of public education.
  • To Fall Out of Love, Do This. A very funny send-up of the “How to Fall In Love With Anyone” piece I shared 2 weeks ago.

On the nightstand:

  • The Poisonwood Bible. Yes, still. It is a big fat chewy book. You should read it. Trust me.
  • The Deepest Secret. This is a Jodi Picoult-ish novel, complete with interesting medical condition and significant moral-ethical dilemma. Like Jodi Picoult, it feels a little formulaic, but it makes me want to know what happens next, and the medical condition in question (XP – a genetic sensitivity to sunlight) really is fascinating.

On the Audible App

  • The Slap: A Novel. The premise: at a family BBQ, a man slaps a child who is not his own. This makes for a really interesting setup to explore all kinds of questions around values and ethics, and so far, it is indeed interesting, but (or perhaps therefore) it is not a comfortable sort of book. The characters (at least the ones I have met so far) are not entirely likeable, and it has sort of a gritty feel to it. It is good writing, but consider yourselves warned that it is not exactly LIGHT.

One thing you should buy:

  • One hundred coloured pencils. Trust me. No matter who you are, there is something magical and uniquely joyful about ONE HUNDRED freshly sharpened, coloured, pencils.

Ok, that does it. Happy Monday, friends, whether it is sunny or snowing, winter or summer, a work day or a holiday. I hope it’s been happy.

 


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Weekend Latte & Links: Foster Care, The Princess Bride, and Bobby Pins

Yup, it’s Sunday again, so awaaaaaay we go!

(Full disclosure: All product links on my site are Amazon affiliate links, and if you click through and actually buy stuff, a small percentage of the cost goes to help THAT kid, in a number of ways.)

RaspberryMuffins

Right now: It is chinooking outside, which means the snow is melting almost fast enough to see it happening, and it feels like springtime. It’s not spring, and up here, it is entirely likely that there will be several more snowstorms and deep freezes even AFTER the calendar thinks it’s spring, but for now, it sure is nice to pretend… Inside, there is spicy pulled pork in the oven and popcorn in a big bowl beside me, and Parenthood on the TV, and last night I saw Into the Woods and the songs are dancing in my head.

Shiny Brilliance of the Week:

  • The Kids Really Are Alright – The most common justification for helicopter parenting seems to be that “the world is more dangerous now than it used to be.” This post systematically debunks that assertion, as well as the  theory that children are safer BECAUSE they are more intensely supervised. Good stuff.
  • Differentiation Doesn’t Work – Differentiation has been held up as part of best educational practice for years, but is it being done? Does it work? Is it possible for one teacher with 20+ students to do it well? Do we really understand it? I definitely think we need more research,  but there is lots to unpack here. (You have to register to read the whole piece. It is worth it, and EdWeek does not send spam.)
  • From Foster Care to Freshman Year – Think about how much parental support most college students rely on. If we want kids who grow up in the foster care system to go on to post-secondary education, we need programs to get them similar resources.

On the nightstand:

  • Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. I will confess that I haven’t actually STARTED it yet, but when a book is recommend to you TWICE in one day, by two unrelated sources (one of which includes a 10-year-old reluctant reader), you BUY IT. It’s kid’s fiction, from the point of view of a little boy born with facial deformities, and that is really all I know, but everyone says it is a must read. I will keep you posted.
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Because sometimes it is good to go back to places and characters we love. For the 3.5 people out there who do not know this: Chamber of Secrets is book 2 of 7. I love it because the friendships between the characters are well-established, and you really get to see the texture of their interactions with one another.

On the Audible app:

  • As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride. If you love The Princess Bride (and who doesn’t?), this is well worth your time. It is written by Cary Elwes, who played Westley, and it is awesome as an audiobook because many cast and crew members make appearances, to read the segments they contributed to the book. Billy Crystal! Robin Wright! Christopher Guest!

One thing you should buy:

  • Spin Pins Seriously. If you have long hair and you EVER use bobby pins, you need some of these. I have crazy thick hair (my stylist says it’s enough for 3 people), and these are life-changing. What would take me upwards of a dozen regular pins can be done with 3 of these. MAGIC.

 


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Weekend Latte & Links: spanking, comfort food, and office fish

Happy Sunday, friends. I’m once again at my table by the window, and it continues to make me happy to sit here. As my brother (more on him in a second) said: “It’s nice to actually USE your windows, not just walk past them.” And really: it is. I sit here and LOOK AT THE WORLD, and that is perhaps something we don’t do enough of…

(Full disclosure: All product links on my site are Amazon affiliate links, and if you click through and actually buy stuff, a small percentage of the cost goes to help THAT kid, in a number of ways.)

Right now: Outside, there is a layer of fresh snow on the ground, and the late afternoon sun is shining, and there are real life rabbit tracks by my back door. Magic. See? This is what happens when you USE YOUR WINDOW! Inside, my house is miraculously clean (Something about the new furniture arrangement makes it stay tidier… I am still contemplating this mystery.) The sauce for this Cheesy Tortellini is in the slow-cooker, and Freddy is passed out cold after winning a 2-hour battle with a marrow bone as big as his head. Also, the Golden Globes start in an hour, and I have a date with my #kinderchat buddies to watch and live-tweet it. Join us! You can find me at @happycampergirl.

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Shiny brilliance of the week:

  • I will confess I have not read ALL of it yet, but this long-form piece on The scientific evidence against spanking, timeouts, and sleep training brings a thorough and scientific approach to things that tend to be considered a question of “philosophy” rather than neuro-biology.
  • This New York times post: To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This, also puts a scientific spin on something that we often ascribe to destiny or timing, or interpersonal chemistry. The idea of systematically constructing intimacy is fascinating to me, and makes me think of other situations where intense relationships (both platonic and romantic) sprout up rapidly: summer camp, university dorms, even slumber parties.
  • I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the parallels between emotional trauma and physical injuries, which also leads to thinking about how we react to and conceptualize physical vs. mental illnesses – both chronic and acute. Comfort Food: No one brings dinner when your daughter is an addict illustrates a very real example of how ill-equipped we are to deal with mental illness in any form.

On the nightstand:

  • The Poisonwood Bible. I read this novel years ago, and am re-reading again, now. I love the way Barbara Kingsolver evokes PLACE in her writing, and creates a world that a reader gets to inhabit for as long as the book lasts…
  • Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls. I just finished this, and loved it, even though Me Talk Pretty One Day will ALWAYS be the very funniest book I have ever read. Very few authors actually make me laugh out loud, but David Sedaris’ essays and observations on life do it every time.

On the Audible app:

  • I’m almost finished with The Night Circus, and I still recommend it. It makes me want to buy the actual book, in addition to the audio version, so I can go back and re-read the descriptions of the circus, the tents, the food, the magic…
  • I think my next listen with be The Book of Negroes. I read it when it first came out, and am currently watching the mini-series, which is making me want to re-visit the whole story.

One thing you should buy:

  • An beta fish in an aquarium. I LOVE LOVE LOVE having a fish in my office at school. My current little friend is named Winter — his predecessor, Olaf-the-Original-Office-Fish having swum into the great white light over the holidays — and I strongly recommend a fish for school administrators (or anyone else with an office, for that matter). Kids come in all the time to visit him and ask me questions, and watching him swim around never fails to make me smile.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about light and darkness (there is a whole post coming on this, I think…) so it seems meaningful to share: this Sunday has 12 more minutes of daylight than last…

xo

 


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Weekend Latte & Links: Oprah’s chai, rearview mirrors, and a tea cozy

Yup, you’re getting two posts in one day, because I somehow forgot to publish my New Year’s Day post on the day I wrote it. Many would tell me this is terrible blog marketing strategy. Fact: I don’t care.

(Full disclosure: All product links on my site are Amazon affiliate links, and if you click through and actually buy stuff, a small percentage of the cost goes to help THAT kid, in a number of ways.)

Right now: Outside, it is straight-up THIRTY BELOW with windchill, but: IT IS NOT SNOWING. This is a first for Weekend Latte and Links, as it was definitely snowing on both of my previous entries. Inside: I am sitting at my table, BY THE WINDOW, and the winter sunlight is pouring in, and Freddy is sound asleep on the couch across the room. Breakfast was a vanilla latte and oatmeal, but more importantly, right now I am drinking Oprah’s Chai, and nibbling some espresso brownie cookies sent by a camp friend, and both are deeply delicious.

Tea and Sunlight

Shiny brilliance of the week:

  • I am usually loathe to link to Buzzfeed, but my dear friend Matt B Gomez sent me this list of 51 Of The Most Beautiful Sentences In Literature, and I have kept the tab open for the whole week, reading and re-reading.
  • I do like a good challenge, and this 100 Things Weekend intrigues me. Can I get rid of 100 things in my house in a single weekend? It seems like a worthy thing to try…
  • There are so many posts at this time of year about starting fresh, looking forward, putting the past behind us. This post about rearview mirrors, and how we NEED to see and know what is  behind (and around us) before we can move forward safely, has struck a deep chord with me.
  • And finally, because I know some of you keep coming back for links about education, here is one to challenge one of the most sacrosanct constructs in modern K-12 education: The Myth of Learning  Styles.

On the nightstand:

  • Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations For Working Through Grief. Yup. This was highly recommended to me, and with good reason. About 200 words a day – not a lot, just enough to reassure that this seemingly interminable, aching, roller-coaster-in-the-dark process, is endurable. Recommend, for anyone who is moving through loss.
  • A Great and Terrible Beauty. I started this a long time ago, and just now came back to it. Young Adult literature works for me right now. Basic premise: a groups of girls at a finishing school discover a portal to another, magical world. Drama and danger ensue. Ironically, it is neither terrible nor great, but the plot moves along and is interesting enough to make it worth returning to.

On the Audible app:

  • I’ve only recently regained my attention span for audiobooks, so I’m still plugging away at The Night Circus. It remains good, magical, slightly dark, and gorgeously descriptive. The plot is forgiving enough that if I tune out for a few minutes, I can still follow it, so that helps, too.

One thing you should buy:

  • Tea Cozy. I know this seems like a little-old-lady thing to own, but I tell you, if you drink tea from a teapot, a tea cozy is a life changer. THE TEA STAYS HOT. And yes, they all seem to be made out of fussy cutesy patterned fabrics, but trust me. Hot tea is worth enduring a little chintz. Or polka dots. Or even chevron.

 

Back to school tomorrow. I know I am not alone in my ambivalence about this. Enjoy this last day of rest, friends.

xo


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