Thursday, August 30, 2007

That's What Makes A Cell: A Song About the Parts of Plant and Animal Cells

This summer at Phi Bensa Zoe Academy (our homeschooling mini-co-op that we engage in with one other family and their similarly aged children) the senior class (first grade students) have been studying cell biology. We learned the parts of a bacteria cell, the parts of plant and animal cells, and now we're learning about cell division. Here are two of our projects:

We found our first cell model project at a Library Thinkquest site. You make a cell model out of a Ziploc baggie, Karo syrup, and candies. Splendid. We used a plastic easter egg for the nucleus with yarn inside to represent the DNA. We used small balloons for the vacuoles, making the plant cells have big ones, the animal cells smaller ones. We made our bacteria cells with only ribosomes and yarn.

Letting the kids make their own choices as to what candies to use for what organelles was very interesting. Also, we had our first lesson with the saying, "No model is perfect; every model should be useful" since all our model cells were squares and obviously, ribosomes aren't lemon drops.

Here are our plant cells:

The next models we made were of clay. We used Das clay, which I love, although it does make more of a mess than Crayola Model Magic or other "kid" clays. Das really feels like clay, to me, and the fact that it leaves a little clay on your hands is a benefit. Not a benefit to the pipes under the sink, Dan will be happy to remind me.

We made our plant, animal, and bacteria cell shapes, then added the clay organelles. Then we painted the cells, hot-glued them to a very glamorous and impressive gold plaque (spraypainted in the yard on the now-gold grass) and spray varnished the whole thing. Now the grass is gold *and* shiny! Dan will recall that he never liked the grass anyway.

Benny's project:

Zoe's project:

You'll notice that Zoe, who has declared her major as shepherding at the tender age of 7, has included the "lamb" cell, along with the other three. Excellent.

We've learned three songs to go with our study of cells, and I'll include one of them here. The others will have to wait until our next recording session, yo!

Cells are composed of organelles
Kept inside a membrane, given shape by vacuoles!
All living things are made of these
Building blocks of life; they're bio-legos if you please!

That's what makes a cell
All the organelles
Work together well
That's what makes a cell

Plant cells can photosynthesize
Using chlorophyll to turn the sunlight into french fries
Chloroplasts make plant cells green inside
They make food from water, light, and sweet carbon dioxide


When it is time to reproduce
Centrioles divide the nucleus into a deuce
Chromosomes, made up of DNA,
Line up to be pulled apart, to make two cells today.


Ribosomes put together proteins
Golgi bodies package up the proteins
Lysosomes get rid of the garbage
They all use the endoplasmic reticulum highway!


Cells, mon!

Interested in more Little Blue Ideas? Try the Idea Box for
homeschooling ideas and more.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My Hair is Not Pretty

Sadie was "reading" the Disneyfied version of Peter Pan with the Disneyfied illustrations. Everything she "reads" begins with the phrase, "Yesternight, AFTERNOON!" and then goes on into madness from there. So tonight Sadie was pondering the picture of Wendy, with her lovely brown hair.

Sadie: (sagging back hopelessly against the pillow) Mommy, I wish that I would have BWOWN hair!
Me: Sadie, your hair is the most beautiful color of all!
Sadie: And what about Benny's?
Me: Benny's is the same color as yours. You both have the very most beautiful hair ever.
Sadie: What about yours?
Me: Well, mine is brown.
Sadie: (sagging back hopelessly against the pillow once more) Oh NO! Now I'm sad for you, you don't have pwetty hair!
Me: It's okay, I have you and Benny to look at. I don't need pretty hair.
Sadie: (pause, clearly committed to dragging a tragedy out of the situation in some way) Mommy, *I* don't want to look at your bwown hair!

It's a good thing my husband still thinks I'm beautiful, bwown hair notwithstanding. And, may I point out, this is the first time my hair has been its natural color in over 15 years, and this is what happens! I horrify my three-year-old!

The Common Room: Homeschooling Blog Carnival Here

The Homeschooling Blog Carnival is hosted at The Common Room this week, and my post about "Homeschooling the Girly Girl" is included. Thanks, Headmistress, and welcome, carnival-goers, to the tilt-a-whirl.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Make a Silver Seashell Frame: A Preschool Craft with Shells from the Beach

Last week at Phi Bensa Zoe Academy, our homeschool mini-co-op, the junior class did a math/art/nature project that resulted in a picture frame decorated in painted shells. Of course, with preschoolers, it's all about the process.

Step 1: Wash the shells.

I had a big bucket of shells that were pretty much straight from the beach. Sand in them, bits of seaweed, random ocean gunk, etc. I put the bucket in the sink and turned on the water. Sadie and Phillip washed the shells and each chose a bowl full to use in their projects.

This was definitely the kids' favorite part of the whole thing. They liked clinking their hands around in the bucket of shells and water, they liked picking out different variations of color and shape, and we talked about the creatures that had inhabited the shells, why they were shaped how they were shaped, why they were sandy, why some had ridges and some didn't, etc. The nature lesson was good, but I think the tactile sensation was better.

Step 2: Paint the shells.

When they had their shells picked out, I laid paper towels on the table and set their bowls next to their workspace. They each chose ten shells, which we laid out in a row and numbered, then ten more, another row, then ten more. We counted to thirty, we counted by ten to thirty, we talked about three groups of ten making thirty, and we exploited the math moment in other ways. Then we painted.

Painting shells is complicated because of the ridges. We tried, with varying degrees of success, to paint with the ridges rather than across them, to make an even, smooth layer of paint. We also tried to cover the whole shell.

We used pearl white and metallic gold paint, and then came behind with silver and gold glitter paint. I like glitter paint 50 times better than shaking loose glitter onto glue. It's so much easier to control, so much less messy, and so much less likely to get into your eye and drive you crazy for the rest of the day.

Step 3. Arrange the Shells on the Frame.

After the kids chose their favorites and organized them on the frame, I came behind with a glue gun and attached the shells. We used an unfinished wooden frame, which we later varnished with spray varnish, because the glue and the shells will stick better to an unpainted wood surface than to paint or shellac.

Another example of the quiet, private nature of homeschool learning. Looking at the finished frame, some silvery shells stuck onto a wooden rectangle, you don't see the math, the marine biology, the joy in the tactile sensation. While school teachers have to focus on deliverables, proofs, and evidence, the homeschool teacher has her own experience, her own memory, her own relationship with the project and the moment, and there's no one to prove it to, no need to quantify it.

Of course the homeschool teacher also has her homeschool blog where she occasionally does record it, quantify it, and provide all the evidence she likes.

Something Ponite

Sadie: Boger. Boger! Is that funny Benny?
Benny: No, Sadie. It's not funny.
Sadie: What do you want, Benny?
Benny: I want you to be nice and polite, just like Mother and Father, we all want you to be nice and stop saying bad words like Boger.
Sadie: What if I say... (MOMMY WHAT DO I WANT TO SAY?)
Me: Well, what do you want to say?
Me: You could say "May I please say Boger?"
Sadie: How 'bout DEVASTATE. Should I say devastate, Benny?
Benny: Yes. That is a nice, polite word. Good girl.

Devastate is the word I make them say instead of "kill" because I am a liberal owl-hugging communist earth-worshipper.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I Blame Dan, Since I Can

Would I watch The Simpsons, if Dan didn't watch The Simpsons? A question for the ages. Here's another question: could I have received that long-awaited Mother of the Year award had I not "Simpsonized" my children?

I apologize to the universe, but I couldn't resist.

Entertaining. Mother of the Year next year for sure. I'm writing myself a note.

My Husband

Last night in bed, I couldn't get comfortable.

Me: I can't get comfortable. I'm restless.
Him: Mmm.
Me: I blame you.
Him: Mmm.

Obviously, he was trying to go to sleep or something.

Me: I blame you for everything, you know. Even traffic in DC. Even scented candles.
Him: I know, and I let you. It does seem to make you feel better, and I know that I am in all things impervious to blame.

Then I tied him up in the blankets and sawed off his head with my forearm. No, not really. I still like him too much to decapitate him.

At least I know I have an open ticket now, for blame that is. And I am willing to share. Feel free to blame Dan for everything from your lost dog to your broken toe. He is, after all, I M P E R V I O U S. No sense letting that go to waste.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Homeschooling the Girly Girl

As Sadie starts her preschool years, I'm figuring out how different her little girl brain really is from her brother's. Today Benny and Dan went off to see a movie together, to have "boy time," or as Benny correctly specifies, "male time." Sadie and I stayed home for girl time (yes, "female time," thank you Benny). We played Barbies. We painted our nails. First hot pink, then sparkles. It was fun, and, as it turned out, educational. As usual, I learned as much as she did.

Sadie is a girl. A girly girl. Oh yes. And homeschooling a girly girl is a little different from homeschooling a math-brained, mechanically-minded, bouncing, fidgeting boy. In some ways, it's a lot easier, but you have to adjust. You have to accommodate. You can't apply the same principles.

For example, today while the boys were gone and I decided to get out the chunky big cuisenaire rods and have a nice fadoodle with them on the floor with Sadie. Might be nice to play math without Benny around to offer the answers and arrangements before Sadie can think of them.

I showed her the white block and said, "This is ONE, Sadie, this is ONE. Can you find the one that is two?"

And she found the red one. Marvelous. I showed her how two white ones line up on one red one, and then asked her to find the three. Could she find the three?

Instead she picked up the three pink/purple ones and said, "But I want these girl ones instead. I don't want the green one."

"Is the green one three, Sadie?"

"I just want these girl ones. They want to go for a ride in the Barbie car!"

"Sadie, can you find the three?"

After a few more times around the block, she was getting exasperated. "Mom, I don't want to LEARN these. I just want to PWAY them."

Okay, so the cuisenaire rods went for a ride in the Barbie car and the 8 rods were truculent and didn't want to put their seatbelts on and the 4 rods were girls, and then they all had a birthday part for one of the red ones. There's no fighting it. There is only joining it!

Here's another example: I've learned that Sadie is completely unmoved to practice writing letters with a marker and lined paper. But if the marker is Cinderella, and the paper is a dance floor, and the letters are dance moves, she is extremely motivated, especially if marker-Cinderella talks to her in a Disney princess voice and even more so if there is another prince marker whose dance moves she can copy. Are you getting me? Are you feeling me?

One more example: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Variation 1 was "Mississippi Hot Dog" when I was little. It was "Tuka Tuka Stop Stop" for Benny. For Sadie it's "Sparkle Glitter Princess." Are the dots all starting to connect here?

So here's how our nail-painting became our preschool lesson for the day:

1. Fine motor skills. Paint your nails. Paint Mommy's nails. Try to stay on the nail, but if you don't, celebrate the joy of life anyway.
2. Math. How many have you painted? How many are left? How many fingers does Mommy have? How many on each hand? How many together? If I have five here and you've painted three, how many more are there to paint?
3. Anatomy. Can dolphins wear nail polish? Can polar bears? How many toes does Leroy (the Boston Terrier) have? How many toes does Mommy have? How many toes does *everybody* have?

And here's what Sadie had to say:

"Mommy, I love pink. And I love sparkle."
"I know you do, baby. And I love you."
"I love you too. And I love Benny, and Daddy. I love all you guys."
"You're such a nice girl, Sadie."
"I know, Mommy."

As a bonus, I have a *very* interesting manicure to take to church tomorrow.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Imagination in the Junkyard

Anthony Esolen at Beliefnet has written a blog post about how kids don't hang out with adults doing proper jobs anymore, and therefore their imaginations are being stifled. We don't let our sons go down to the junkyard, we don't let our girls watch us roll out the crust for our apple pies. Therefore, the past is good, the present is bad, and the world is going to hell.

Here's an excerpt:

It used to be common for boys (I'm thinking of junkyards here, after all) to
hang around grown men and pester them, or to overhear their conversations about
bauxite, platinum, catalytic converters, drive trains, and cheap labor from
Someplace Else. That was bound not only to provide them with a fund of
general knowledge, but to stretch their imaginations -- as was, likewise, their
nearness to fascinating machines, like pile drivers or backhoes. People in
general were proud of the cleverness of human industry: old-time postcards would
include photos of coal-mines, fisheries, sawmills, lumber camps, and
quarries. You understood that without such places, as "ugly" as some snobs
might consider them, you don't have that city with the bright lights and the
fashionable people dining at Toots Shor's.

I'm not sure what has happened to that fascination with the human mastery over inert and difficult matter. I am sure that school teaches next to nothing about it;
if it does mention it, it is with a faint sniff of contempt or suspicion.
In any case, the boys (I'm talking about junkyards, again; you could say
analogous things about what girls used to learn by hanging around women doing
their work) who are not at the junkyards of the world, who are not hanging
around men-who-know-things, are having their imaginations stultified. Of
that I am sure.

I would guess that as much unfair scorn is directed at junkyards by school teachers... at least that same amount of scorn is probably directed the other way. Unfair or not.

It's as damaging for a bookish child with no mechanical tendencies to be ridiculed by an adult who doesn't value higher education as it would be for an athlete or someone who works with his hands to be scorned by an adult with a Ph.D. in philosophy. It goes both ways -- small-minded people on both ends of the spectrum devalue the people on the other end, to protect their own choices.

I have trouble buying the romantic (or defeatist?) notion that the past was so much better, cleaner, brighter, purer, and more interesting than the present. I probably wouldn't let my 7 yo go hang out at the junkyard with a bunch of unfamiliar men, no. That might be a good thing, though. Back in the good old days, there were plenty of rotten things going on that didn't involve good old fashioned values and honesty and love. The comment thread for Mr. Esolen's post was full of people saying the same things they always say: The playgrounds are too safe, the language is too disinfected, the literature is too nice, the kids aren't allowed to play with guns, TV is bad, we need more bloodsports, and all those high-falutin' jerky intellectual environmentalist tree-lovers need to learn to respect and appreciate people who are different from them. Yeeeeahhh.... Good. There was even a comment (my favorite!) about the monstrous parents who put tiny violins into their children's hands and expect them to play them. The horror!

I do get what he's saying, in a way. "Box of greasy junk" would be at the top of my son's Christmas wish list, if he knew it existed. But even without having a mentor with grease under his fingernails, he manages to fixate on inventing things, he manages to tinker with tools, and wonder about motors. His mother has a graduate degree and his father is a software developer, and still he likes Legos. Having been cruelly kept from the junkyard all his life, he still has an imagination you have to hack through with a machete to get to his consciousness, when you want him to eat dinner or avoid walking into traffic.

I think I'll skip the junkyard. He can read about it in a book.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Book Review: The Mistmantle Chronicles: Urchin of the Riding Stars by M.I. McAllister

It's hard to remember that my child doesn't recognize cliches or care about what's trite or used or done to death. He doesn't predict what's predictable, he hasn't read the thing that makes me say something is derivative, and whatever I can see coming will probably surprise the heck out of him. He's seven.

Urchin of the Riding Stars is not innovative, except for the fact that the characters are squirrels, otters, moles, and momewraths. Or... hedgehogs, rather. Or ferrets. So what? Another small animal takes the stage. We've seen it done with rabbits, with rats, but have squirrels ever been swordfighting heros before? I don't think.

Sadly, the originality ends with the choice of species. To start the tale, a baby squirrel with unnaturally pale fur (a strange birthmark? a sixth toe? ) is dropped on the shore and picked up by a captain of the realm. Given to a dumb but motherly foster mother, he is raised in humble circumstances, then brought to the castle where he is trained as a page, and as you can see from the cover shot, soon gets his own sword and cloak and has to be brave and save the world. I wonder if book 2 or 3 in this series will reveal that he has noble blood? And I also wonder if the sun will come up in the east tomorrow.

There is something dark in the dungeon. There is a wise old priest. There is a befuddled king misled and betrayed by a power-hungry lieutenant. I've seen it before. I am getting a little eye-rolling fatigue over here. But, has the child seen it before? No. For the child, it may all be exciting and new.

I bought this book because Benny, age 7, is deeply interested in swordfighting and good and evil and princes and dungeons. I thought this would be a sweeter, easier way for him to read about adventures of this nature without the intensity of humanity. It's just squirrels, right? It wouldn't freak him out or give him nightmares or inspire him to decapitate his sister, right? Well, I was right and wrong.

The surprise of the book, and also the redemption of the book, is that it actually didn't back off the intensity just because there's a squirrel on the cover. The bad guys actually kill people, they don't just endlessly and ridiculously threaten. The abuse of power is damaging, and the danger is real. The little animals are overworked and hungry, and there's a practice called "culling" where the infants who are born with any deformity or weakness are killed by the government, actually by the corrupt lieutenant. Yes, the hero is sweet, overly sweet, cloyingly and insufferably sweet to this adult reader, but the immediacy of the violence affected me, made me care about him in spite of myself.

So, we'll see how it goes with the child. As soon as we finish Bunnicula, we're going to try this one. I'll let you know how it goes!

Now, I must ask (speaking of Bunnicula): If microwaves kill all the nutrition on vegetables, how life-threatening are those new Glad bags that you can use to steam vegetables in the microwave? Isn't that like... a hideous betrayal of children everywhere, suffering through steamed broccoli with absolutely no nutritional value?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Power of Small Mammals

I really want Sadie to give up her pacifier.

I want her to be able to talk clearly, I want her to comfort herself with her own good brain, I want her teeth to be straight.

What I don't care about is when nosy people look at us with squiggly eyes when we're out and about and she is slurping away on it. I actually don't care about that. If the only factor were public scorn, I would let her take it to college. I'd even buy her a new (sparkly!) one for the occasion. She's small for her age. She might be able to pull of a binky at age 17. But for some reason, as she approaches the age of 4, I feel some kind of natural reasoning yanking apart my steadfast denial, so that I have to address the fact: she is too old for a binky.

Last week, this was the bribe:

"You can't take your binky to princess camp."

This week, I'm trying rabbit, rats, and guinea pigs. We went to Animal Jungle, the best pet store on earth. She petted a rabbit, she held a guinea pig, she ogled a rat, and at the end of the experience, she was claiming boldly that she wanted to get rid of her binkies so she could have a rabbit.

"Sadie, if you can do without your binky for seven days, Mommy will bring you back to Animal Jungle and you can pick out whichever rabbit you want."

Deal. Sealed in cedar shavings.

However, after lunch, there was a reversal.

"Mommy, I weed my binky!"

"Sadie, don't you want to give your binkies to the Binky Fairy so she can bring you a rabbit?"

"No, I don't WANT a wabbit, I weed my BINKY!"

What could I do? I gave her the binky. The sparkly pink binky. Now what can I try next?

Monday, August 20, 2007

How to Make Princess Dolls

This should properly be titled, "How to Make Princess Dolls with 20 Children Under the Age of 7 Without Running Screaming into the Night."

And if anyone feels the need to remind me that I did run screaming into the night a few times, recall that at least I remembered my address and took my keys with me.


A reasonable amount of plain muslin.
Pale colored thread.
A Sharpie!
Yarn for hair. We used a very silly, fluffy fun-fur type.
A sewing machine.
Some loverly pink organza.
Different loverly pink ribbons, 2 inches wide, cut about 15 inches long.
Googley eyes.
Non-permanent markers for the kids.
Tacky Glue. Small bottles the kids can manage.
Skinny ribbons, cut about 10 inches long.
Tiny bunches of pink roses on floral wire. We found 10 in a bunch for just a few dollars. Just cut apart the bunch and remove the floral tape and they'll be useable individually.

Making the Doll

1. Draw a template. The doll should be about 10-12 inches high, with a nice big
round head, and fairly thin, long arms and legs. Give yourself enough room to
turn and stuff the doll, but we don't want a fat baby ballerina here, we want a
nice long stringy ballerina. Our arms and legs were about an inch, an inch and a
half wide. It's nice to add a thumb sticking up and shape the foot so there's a

2. Trace the template onto muslin with your Sharpie. It's good to sew one up and make sure you like it before you trace 20 of them.

3. Cut the dolls apart from each other. Don't worry about cutting too close to the sewing line -- just separate the dolls from each other. It's easier to sew if you have more room.

4. Set your sewing machine to a very small stitch length and sew around on the
Sharpie line. Leave a small hole for turning under one arm. About an inch and a
half will work.

5. Now trim the excess fabric down to very very close to the stitching line. Clip your curves, turn, and stuff

6. Finally, use a Sharpie to draw a leotard and shoes onto the doll. Do different necklines, different sleeve shapes and hems, etc, on the different dolls. Make the leotard one of those ones with legs that go halfway down to your knees.

Making the Hair

1. Make yourself a cardboard hair-winder. If you want short hair, the
cardboard hair-winder should be about 4 inches wide. For longer hair, go up to 6

2. Wind the hair around the hair-winder until you have a reasonable amount
of hair for a doll.

3. Slide the loop of hair off the cardboard and lay it on a scrap of
muslin. The more interesting and delightful your yarn is, the more irritating
and painful it will be to make the hair. Soft slippery fluffy hair is going to
give you a pain in your bum that feels like the bite of a horse.

4. Sew it down to the muslin, making sure that it doesn't spread out more
than a few inches. As you go down the hair, keep smooshing it under the pressure
foot, smooshing, and smooshing. The stitches you're sewing will separate the
bangs from the rest of the hair, so if you're making long hair, put your
stitches toward one end.

5. Turn the muslin-and-yarn wig over and trim the muslin down very close to
the stitching line.

6. Lay the wig on the doll and sew it on by hand. While you're doing your
handwork, you can stitch up the hole in the doll that you used to turn her and
stuff her. If you have any "gotcher armpit" jokes in you, now is the time to use

7. Turn the doll upside down over a garbage can and clip open the loops of
hair. You're over a garbage can to stop the fluffs of hair from invading every
corner of your home. For this reason, take your scissors with you and go
outside, before you give her a good shake and then a nice haircut/trim to shape
up her hairdo.

8. After doing this hair, it's a good idea to clean out your sewing machine
a bit.

Making the Skirt

1. To make 21 skirts, I folded 1 yard of organza into thirds (12 inches
wide, 44 inches high) and cut the thirds into 7 pieces each (approximately
12 inches wide, 6 inches high). You could make them wider (more that 12 inches)
for more gather, or longer (more than 6 inches) if you have a longer doll.

2. Increase your stitch length all the way long and stitch down the top of
each skirt. Pull on the bobbin thread and gather the skirt up.

3. Cut your wide ribbon into pieces approximately 15 inches long. Fold the
center of the ribbon over the center of the skirt and sew into place so the
ribbon is wrapped over the gathered up part. I used a decorative stitch for this
-- hearts, flowers, you know the drill.

4. Now the skirt is done. If you're making more you can fancy it up with a
hem, or stitch the entire ribbon closed, or something, but if you're making a
lot, and you finish this part, give yourself a pat on the back and maybe a nice
big mug of rum. Or diet Coke.

Putting it All Together.

Now it's the kids' turn to take over. There are two ways to put this project together. I suggest the kit method for a smaller number of kids, the station method for a larger number.

The Kit Method

Into your large ziploc baggie goes 1 doll, 1 skirt, 2 googley eyes, a
handful of jewels, a skinny ribbon, and a rose. The child sits down at a table
with a communal marker bin.

1. First, she colors the face and leotard using markers. Non-permanent
markers are fine, because we're not going to be throwing this doll in the
washing machine, are we?

2. Next, she glues jewels onto the doll's body. Maybe emeralds around the
neckline. Maybe a giant sparkly heart right in the middle of the bodice.
Maybe diamonds in the hairline. A pearl on each shoe. Try not to glue
anything right around the waist where the skirt will tie on. Show the kids how
to do one dot of glue for each jewel, rather than splodging around a whole lot
of glue.

3. Tie on the skirt. Older children will be able to manage sticking jewels
onto the skirt too, but it's tricky, because the glue bleeds through the

4. Now tie the skinny ribbon around her neck in a bow, and clasp her hands
together and wrap the little rose around them, using the wire. If the child
doesn't want the hands clasped, you can just wrap the rose around one hand, like
a wrist corsage.

5. Allow glue under jewels to totally dry before the doll begins her career
as a toy.

The Station Method

1. The Marker Station. Give each child just the doll and have her sit down
at a table with a communal marker bin and color the leotard, shoes, and

2. The Sparkle Station. Put the jewels and googley eyes out in trays and
have an adult (or two or three) standing by to administer the glue as directed
by each child who comes to the station. You do the glue, the kid arranges the
jewels, the eyes, as they desire.

3. The Skirt Station. Pick out a skirt and tie it on the doll.

4. The Finishing Station. Tie the skinny ribbon around her neck and wrap a
flower around her wrist.

Done! Let the pretending begin!

Thank you to Ahno who fought with that lousy muslin and that slippery pink hair, on and on into the night, and emerged triumphant. We prepped these projects for 20 children at ballet camp, and thanks to the cooperation of the teachers and volunteers, we had 20 happy children bouncing off with their own personal doll at the end of the day.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Drowning Worms

Let me tell you that I have never been one for fishing. I have actually made brutal, relentless fun of fishing. I have scorned it, I would say, as much as I have scorned camping, maybe even as much as I have scorned coasters. But my little boy loves to fish, so I fish with him, because he loves it, and because he says things like, "Patience, Mother, you must have patience to catch a fish." He says this because the very first time we went fishing, out in the Chesapeake, he caught one. I was thinking in those days, those beautiful halcyon days, that just hanging a worm twelve inches down into sixty feet of water wouldn't yield any kind of result. Was I wrong.

So today was another boating day and therefore another fishing day. We purchased our little green styrofoam container of worms. We motored our little boater out onto Broad Bay. We got out our poles, dusted off our optimism, and I installed my "supportive mommy" expression. We skewered our little wormlets, dropped them in, and waited. Nothing. Even though the wretched fish were jumping, actually jumping out of the water all around the boat. Now I don't pretend to be an expert on what lure or what hook or liner or tickler or whatever is needed to pry which breed of fish out of its ocean home. But I do feel that when fish are actually trying to get out of the water, all around me, I should be able to get one on a hook that's loaded with fish lunch.

But no. For an hour, we sat there with these bratty little fish leaping through the air over the boat, waving their little fins, winking their little googly eyes, and tittering amongst themselves.

Until Team Husband got out his casting net, threw it out, and immediately brought in a whole pile of fish. The same little fishes who had been taunting us with vile taunts. So, charmingly, the children got to pet the fish, examine the fish, identify them with their little fish-identifying manual, and release (of course) them back into the bay to torture other boaters.

Okay, the fish we welcomed into the boat were a lot smaller than they had looked when they were frothing and foaming in the waves all around us. But they had markings, and slime, and fins. Which is all we really require. So, we drowned a bunch of worms with no result, but it's nice when Dad gets to be a hero, right? To my girl sensibilities, it actually seems fairly glorious to get the radiant smile without having to deal with the fish hook and worms.

Am I truly a reformed wuss when it comes to stabbing worms? Or am I going to look back on these experiences and say, "I can't believe what I did for this child!" How about you -- worms or no worms?