Thursday, April 30, 2015

There was a child once

There was a child once, and this child is not gone. She is still there, deep within me. I may look all grown up, but I'm not, at least not always.

I'm still the baby yearning for the peace and security of her mother's arms.
I'm still the toddler curiously peeking at the world around her, ready to discover something exciting at any moment.
I'm still the little girl climbing up trees, looking for a special secret hiding place all of her own.
I'm still the teenager with an acute impression of beauty, love of fascinating stories, and a desire to express herself in poetry and art.

The child is still there, and it is my task to love the child, to take her by the hand and let her walk with me in the grown-up world. Life is more fun and exciting this way.

There was a child once, and the child found much excitement in life, but she was also lonely. She had no siblings and few friends. That's sad.

My children are different. They are happy and secure, and they have many people to love. This makes me happy, but there's more. There is me, too. Still a little girl with a dark fringe that falls into her eyes. Still one who is content to sit for hours and watch ants crawling, to experiment with colors and words.

Love your children. Love the child within you, too. Don't lose touch with what is so precious in you, in me, in each one of us.

Image taken from here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

First chick of the season!

I just couldn't resist sharing this picture, of the first chick in our coop this season, next to his very protective (and suspicious!) mother hen.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The slippery slope of backyard chickens

This is just fabulous for a good laugh. I can definitely relate to what she is saying - chickens are addictive, and it's easy to evolve from wanting just a couple of laying hens for fresh eggs, to deciding you want to be a heritage breeder with a flock of a hundred birds, plus some goats and a livestock guardian dog thrown into the bargain.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Some photos from the coop

A tiny egg; for comparison, the egg on the left is a standard-sized Leghorn egg. At first we thought it must have been laid by one of our pigeons, but eventually we discovered it simply had no yolk. We've heard this might happen, but for us personally it's a first-time encounter with a yolk-less egg. 

Black and white: a Polish hen and a Leghorn hen taking a dust-bath together. 

Getting ready to sleep. 
 Our Russian pigeons, the latest addition to our coop. We're supposed to have two couples, so we are eagerly waiting for them to start making a nest. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What is learning?

Last week, I was really pleased to come across this article, which speaks about a new research showing that early academic achievements aren't necessarily beneficial to a child's learning process in the long run. Actually, the same principle has been discussed 25 years ago in the excellent book Better Late Than Early

Not long ago, we were at a social gathering with another family. Their children, aged 5 and 3, dazzled us all with a display of their mathematical and foreign language skills. Turns out that such things are now taught in private preschools. To me, however, it sounded more like parroting than actual learning, encouraged for the parents' bragging rights rather than for the children themselves. 

Of course it's possible to argue that each child learns at a different pace, and we've all heard of prodigies who have learned to play the piano at the age of 3, wrote advanced poetry by the age of 5, etc. However, here we are talking about a roomful of 3-year-olds who are all sat down in a circle and drilled until they memorize counting until 30, or the names of the days in the week in English (we're talking about children whose mother tongue is Hebrew, of course).

Naturally the daily drill is sugar-coated by fun, games, colorful flashcards and lots of positive reinforcement (clap hands! Clap hands! What clever little children!). However, I believe putting an emphasis on this kind of achievement hinders the child-led learning, free thinking and free play which are so important for young children's physical and mental development. Furthermore, the children are being robbed of the delight of learning for its own sake, of the thrill of discovery. They do what they do for rewards, attention, peer competition or in order to please their parents and teachers. 

Some will say that these are musings of a lazy parent who is unwilling to teach her children anything. I disagree. Encouraging children to memorize facts and rewarding them for it with sweets or stickers is easier than promoting their independent efforts to explore what interests them, let alone finding time to answer their many questions about life and the world we live in. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Best way to store parsley

Image result for parsley

We love fresh parsley in soups, stews, meatballs and various other dishes; however, I use it sparingly, perhaps once in a few days. As a result, whenever there’s a fresh bunch of parsley, about half of it gets used at once, and the other half slowly wilts, until it looks very sorry indeed and finally goes out to the chickens.

Last week at the grocery store, we came across parsley which was bright green and fresh and lovely, and evidently had just been picked. However, it was sold in huge bunches, and I knew a lot would go to waste. Determined not to let it happen this time, I picked up the parsley with the intention of processing it in the course of the next two days.

Today, I picked through the whole bunch and discarded some yellowish sprigs. The rest was carefully washed and shredded in a nifty little hand-held vegetable processor my husband bought not long ago. I divided it into portions and froze it in smallish sandwich bags.

Now I have an on-hand supply of fresh, pre-washed, finely chopped parsley to be simply taken out of the freezer and tossed into whatever is on the stove. Very time-saving in busy moments!

For a more elegant solution, the chopped parsley could be pressed into an ice cube tray, stored in ziplock bags or molded into small boxes. Of course, the same can apply to other fresh herbs, such as basil, thyme, mint, etc.