Sunday, November 6, 2016

Living & Learning Update # 3: Origami, Fall Outside Nature Challenge


I have been greeted by this sight every morning for the last several weeks. SA(8) and JJ(6) are obsessed with origami. Earlier this fall at a yard sale I found what I thought was a package of origami paper for a dollar. This origami paper turned out to have folding instructions on the back of each page. The boys have been making their own square "origami paper" by cutting printer paper, and have been making many of the designs.

I am amazed at how skilled they have become. We did origami as our "handicraft" last year at some point, and it was very difficult for them at first. Now they are doing quite complex folds, making paper tulips and elephants and cranes. They have definitely left me behind! (This is making me feel better about myself, since I am failing to teach them a handicraft this term.) I must say, though, that the mess they create is terrible, especially since their instructions are loose-leaf and not in a book.

Fall Outside 2016 Nature Challenge
This "adventure" is put on by Dawn from Mud Puddles to Meteors. The challenge is to get outside in nature for 15 minutes every day of  this month. November can be so cold and grey (and it was, this week!)! I knew I needed the kick in the pants to get the children out every day. There was quite a bit of foot-dragging at the beginning of the week, but by the end the boys were getting used to the cold again and enjoying being out in nature. On Thursday we lit a little bonfire, and that was a huge hit. They stayed out for a couple of hours that day.

 We are also doing some little drawings on a calendar to chronicle our month with nature. I love MM(4)'s poplar leaf!

Here is my youngest book lover AJ "reading" The Gingerbread Man. His favourite book, though, is One Summer Day by Kim Lewis. It has a little boy of about his size who, like him, plays peekaboo, and likes to get his shoes and coat on to go outside.

In other reading news, I finished reading William Steig's Newberry Honor book Abel's Island aloud to the bigger boys. They loved it, and the pictures really enhanced the story for them. I enjoyed it, but I did find Abel a bit eccentric at times, and the story ended rather abruptly. William Steig is an interesting author. I don't like all of his children's books, and I don't find his art all that charming (children like it, though), but he has a few books I absolutely love. Amos and Boris definitely goes into my top 10 picture books of all time. Another one I love is called Yellow & Pink, which is a quirky parable about intelligent design.

In my own reading, I am almost through Elizabeth Goudge's Scent of Water. I am enjoying it, but not as much as I had hoped. My expectations were too high, and the deficiency is in myself. I can only explain the problem in MBTI terms. I am not "iNtuitive" enough for this book. As an ISFJ, I have put some thought into how I interact with other types. The "N" types are the ones most likely to mystify me. As in this case, this is usually in a good way (I stand in awe of the way someone sees the world and communicates about it.), but sometimes it is in a not so good way (I am completely mystified by the way someone thinks...they seem to be ungrounded in reality.) I think Elizabeth Goudge is an "NF" type. Her writing is very evocative. She does put a lot of sensory detail in her novels, but it is all about the feeling her description creates in you. Any attempt to recreate the scene (whether in a movie or in real life) would be disappointing, because it's not about the details, it's about the atmosphere. Does that make sense? Any other "S" types out there that get what I'm saying here, or does this sound crazy to you? The feelings I get as I read are lovely but nebulous, and they drift away from me. The truth that comes through sometimes in this novel is beautiful but almost always startling to me, as it seems to burst forth out of almost nothing (there is no logic, no natural progression to it). I'm not at all saying I didn't like the book, just that I didn't feel quite at home in it.

I should say that I think most of the best novel writers are "N" types, and very few of them make me feel like outsiders in the worlds they create. Marilyn Robinson is another very strongly intuitive type, and I think her books are wonderful. I am not like her Lila, but I love her and stand in awe. Even L.M. Montgomery, who speaks so much of kindred spirits, does not make me feel as though I am not one. (After all, she lets Diana Barry be one, and Diana does not "get" Anne all the time either.) Elizabeth Goudge creates a sympathetic world between her intuitive type kindred spirits --Mary, Edith, Paul-- and the ordinary people really don't matter all that much in her world. Perhaps this is why Goudge is so very loved...all the "N" type readers feel like the characters are kindred spirits, and her way of thinking and imagining feels like home.

So end my jumbled musings...