Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse 2017: Cloudy With a Chance of Burnt Eyeballs

Well, call me stubborn, but when the school district decided that the kids couldn't watch the eclipse at school, I got a little more into it than I might have otherwise.  In an effort to use up ingredients in my kitchen and not have to go to the grocery store, I accidentally made themed dinner the night before the eclipse:

"Look, planet pancakes and sun eggs!  And I didn't even plan it!" (ba dum crash)

 And then when my neighbor across the street asked if we could watch together and share our solar sunglasses (which we got from a teacher who had to cancel her eclipse-viewing plans), I got a little more into it and made little goody bags.

 We took the kids out of school at lunch time and came home for Sun Chips and crescent roll sandwiches.

We watched through cloudy skies and actually saw a lot more of the action than I had thought we would when I saw the weather forecast.  I wasn't sure what I thought about the eclipse glasses, but I was glad that we had them.

But we enjoyed our homemade cardboard box viewer just as much!  I was sad that the heavy cloud cover kept us from seeing the crescent-shaped sun shadows and reduced the effect of the growing darkness (since it was kind of gloomy to start with)...


...but we were amazed by the crickets starting to chirp and night birds starting to sing.  We even think the flowers closed a bit.

Here's the "Proof that I was there also" photo.  I really should not be allowed to take selfies, as I am so horrible at them.
 The cloud cover actually created the perfect filter for us to watch the eclipse with our naked eyes a lot throughout the day (don't tell the authorities that we did that).

Again, I possess a lot of skills but selfie-taking is not one of them.
 After the eclipse had mostly come and gone, my across the street neighbor came out and asked if they had missed it--she had fallen asleep with the baby and her sweet kids let her sleep instead of waking her up!  Thankfully, they were still able to catch the end of the eclipse with the official eclipse glasses and the unfortunate-looking cardboard box.

Even though we weren't in the path of totality, and the weather didn't cooperate, and our driveway party was pretty small, it still was full of wonder.  Nothing compares to hearing things like this:


I think teachers teach in order to hear moments like this.  It's too bad that perceived but manageable risk suppressed wonder and curiosity and memory-making.  Jeremy's words regarding the strange fear that seemed to develop overnight about this natural wonder hit the spot.

"A major part of education for children is learning about and experiencing the world that they live in. It is a world with dangers and wonders. Therefore, it is also a world that should be lived in with wisdom. A solar eclipse is an amazing and rare event. Certainly the temptation to look directly at the sun during an eclipse increases, but students could be instructed and trained about the temptation. They could be educated about how to behave during an eclipse. They could be extended appropriate measures of trust and oversight in order to be outside, under the heavens, during such an awe-inspiring event. Instead, they are being deprived of such a unique experience. They are also being deprived of an opportunity to gain wisdom about how to responsibly foster curiosity and learning during this event.

Regarding the specifics of being outside during a solar eclipse, there is more to experience than simply looking at the sun, something you rightly warn against. However, there is a lot going on outside during an eclipse, a lot of other places for children’s eyes to go. The lighting changes, the other side of the sky darkens, strange shadows and colors emerge, silhouettes of the eclipse can be seen. Yet, our children will be kept inside because of one small spot of danger (which is also the source of all the surrounding beauty). In my opinion, this manner of managing our students during the eclipse fosters fear instead of courage and superstition instead of wisdom."

But more importantly, the true awe and wonder of such a day like today are summed up much better in the Psalms:  "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork" and "Praise the Lord! Praise him, sun and moon, praise him all you shining stars!"

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Snapshot

Jeremy said he likes my blog posts.  I've been trying to get up earlier to make better use of my mornings for the physical (running) and spiritual (reading the Bible, listening to sermons/podcasts, music) parts of my life.  I've been following the blog of a lady who challenged herself to blog every day (Preventing Grace --and the podcast by the same name is great, too).  I am giving up Facebook for Lent, a practice I have never really participated in, but feel as though could be humbling and point my thoughts more often to Jesus--the only source of true peace and joy for me in this broken and confused (and often wonderful) world.  So I am sitting down here to write, and hopefully more often.

A snapshot of life right now:  Evan is playing WiiU with a friend downstairs (in our half-basement that's not really a basement...still sad that I am living in the MidWest without an actual basement) after I laid down the law and told them they had to play Legos or something else "real" for the first hour and then they could do electronics for the last 45ish minutes.  And, for the record, they played Legos for 4 extra minutes without realizing their electronics restriction was over, so there.  His friend is sweet, and I love his family, so yay!  Evan has had a slower time really connecting here and finding friends that are easy to have over regularly.  So I am glad. He still does really odd things like starts reading a book or sitting in the bathroom for 20 minutes while his friends awkwardly wander around the house, so I really can't blame them for not coming over all the time.  We're working on it.  He still just really loves his best friend in CA and has a hard time opening his heart fully to the boys here.

Annie is off at a newer friend's house--they actually live pretty close but there is a busy street in-between so that limits their ability to go spontaneously to each other's houses.  This friend loves gymnastics as much as Annie and is really sweet.  Annie has met some great friends, and we have really enjoyed hosting her made-up "Fun Club" on Tuesday afternoons...she and the neighbor girl made flyers and invited some girls to come to a club and it has really taken off.  Those same girls ended up agreeing to put together a song for the school's Talent Show, which was on Friday night.  We did "The Hard Knock Life" from Annie, of course.  They were the cutest little orphans and I loved getting to know all the orphan moms (ironic, I know) in the process.  They got the Vice Principal to play Miss Hannigan and it was really cute.

Sam stayed after middle school to work on a weather a computer?  I don't even know.  I ask about it and he talks about it, but all I hear is "blah blah blah." I really can't comprehend techie stuff.  Sam is not an athlete but is loving band, jazz band, and academic extra-curricular activities.  He is making this weather thing (called a Raspberry Pie) with some other great fun and creative friends he has and I love that he has connected so well.  He got to walk home with one friend afterwards and he will eat dinner there and then they will take the boys to Boy Scouts.  I never thought I would have a Boy Scout, but he got to spend last weekend exploring and camping in a cave, so that's awesome.  Just don't get me started on the popcorn he has to sell.

Jeremy is finishing up class and stuff and whatever it is he does at Wheaton College for the day.  He actually does a lot of reading and writing at home because his study carrel is quite small and shared with another student and home is much more comfortable.  He is currently redoing our terrible pink bathroom and it's been a fun project with rotted wood, mold, carpenter ants and a disasterous DIY epoxy sink nightmare, and tiling, which he has never done before.  All on a low budget.  He asks for a lot of back massages from the kids at the end of the day.  It's looking good.

I subbed today--doing reading with second language learners and then being a one-on-one aide for a boy with some health problems at my own kids' school.  I loved today.  Some days are a little trying (like 5th grade and 8th grade) but I am really enjoying being back in the classroom.  Then, in just a few minutes, we are off to dinner at a Phd family's house, and then on to a prayer time for Wheaton Phd women (spouses and students) at one of the professor's houses.  Tomorrow I will clean the house like a mad woman in order to get ready for the weekly Bible study we host here--during which I feed homemade dinner to half the singles from our church and some brave families as well.

So it's a good life.  And that's what it is.

Until next time!  Paka (bye in Russian, because today I got to work with a boy from Uzbekistan and I loved it)!