iPod Lobotomy?

I love my iPod. My playlists reflect who I am.  I’ve got a workout playlist, a lay-on-the-beach playlist, etc. We all do.  iPods are a very efficient and amazing form of technology. But, (I can see my kids revving up their eye-rolls already) we are losing a very important part of art and thought when we pick and choose our songs from an album, without hearing from the artist within the context of his or her work.

Albums tell a story. I remember riding my bike down to the record store with $5 in hand, to buy a new record. I can still feel the way the plastic tore off in one large sheet. I plunked down in my beanbag chair and poured over the album art and lyrics as I listened to my record, over and over again. Today, when I hear some of those old songs, I remember the song that followed on the album.  We miss the album story when we don’t hear all the songs.

Whether it’s a music album, a book or a piece of art, the artist expresses his or her beliefs through their work.  Whether or not we agree with or like the artist’s  work and beliefs is irrelevant.  We, the consumer, are exposed to new ides from the artist’s point of view and we have a chance to form our own opinion. True learning comes from listening, reading or viewing a work of art and evaluating it for your self.  You then have the opportunity to agree, disagree or change your own worldview.  That’s why censorship is so bad. It limits our information and our ability to get the whole story. *   But, when we decide to only listen to or only see the parts we like and eliminate the parts we don’t, we are in effect censoring our own learning process. We miss the whole message.  We also miss the opportunity to grow and to think. We are cutting short our intellectual process, thus the figurative lobotomy.

I’m not saying that we should dump our iPods. How I would I get through my workout without Lynyrd Skynyrd AND Bon Jovi?  But, we should consider making a conscious effort to take in forms of art in their entirety, as the artist intended. We become less educated and less as a people when we limit our opportunities for growth.

* Disclaimer – I am speaking of materials in the realm of mainstream or even fringe ideas and thought.  I have strong opinions about the “censorship” of sexually explicit and pornographic images and their usefulness to society. That is a discussion for another time.


“I’m Bored”

They’re coming…

With summer looming, here are 10 free, kids tested activities I used to keep my kids occupied. It’s not an exhaustive list by any means, they worked for me.

HINT: I outlawed TV and the computer during summer daylight hours.  I found my kids to be more content when they didn’t have a screen competing for their attention.  They were “totally bored” for a few days, but boredom breeds creativity. Try it!

1. Frisbee Golf.  Stick up a bunch of numbered paper plates around the yard and you’ve got a course. Make sure you’ve included a couple of “around the tree and under the picnic table” type shots to make it challenging.

2.  Make Butter.  Put some whipping cream and a marble in a clean jar and let them shake it.  Eventually, the cream will separate and there will be a small quantity of butter. This is a good time to talk about the “olden days”.

3. Bug Safari.  I saved peanut butter jars for bugs and other critters. They are light weight and don’t break when dropped.  To put air holes in the lid – heat a length of wire (clothes hangers work well, make it long enough so you don’t burn yourself) over the stove burner and melt it through the lid.

4. Public Library. I pay kids to read. OK, so this one is not free, but it’s money well spent.  Bribery has it’s place, people.

5. Timed Races. Get out the stop watch and time your kids running around the house.  This can be accomplished while sitting in a lawn chair.  Write down their baseline time and challenge them to break it.  Occasionally, I let them time me so they could marvel (laugh) at my athleticism (lack of).

6. Twig Furniture.  I bought a book, Making Twig Garden Furniture, by Abby Ruoff, and put my thirteen-year old son on the task.  If you don’t have access to twigs, you probably know someone who would be thrilled for your kid to come cut and haul some from their yard. My son got so good at furniture making, he actually sold a few pieces to neighbors and local garden shops. The book, or one like it is probably available at the public library.

7. Corn Starch.  Mix a very small amount of water into 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, just until it liquifies and let the kids play with it. Is it a liquid or is it a solid?  I did this outside so I didn’t have to clean up.

8. Car Wash.  Great fun on a hot summer day.  Get out the hose, some sponges and  bucket of soapy water and call the neighbors. Who knows, maybe they’ll make some tip money!

9. Four Square.  The concrete on our driveway is conveniently divided into squares, but chalk or some string will make lines.  All you need is a bouncy ball and lot’s of rules. The more rules the better.  Does a liner count?  Ankle shots?  Back stops?  We sometimes played word four-square.  Say a different state, fruit, boy’s name etc. each time you hit the ball.  If you repeat, your out.

10. Paper Mache.  Another outside activity.   Here’ a link for  home made Paper Mache paste. We used balloons and painted them when they dried out. If you’re really nice and want to buy a bag of candy, you can make a pinata, giving you yet another day’s fun.