Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What's Been Going ON!?

Top of the Mountain

Where to begin?  It's been too long since I've been to this page.  More than a month in fact.  So what's been going on! as my brother Alex always says at the start of his weekly newsletter....
Sunrise over Topsail Beach
There was a delightful trip to the beach, our old same favorite Barrett Cottage at the corner of Trout and Ocean, down near the tip of Topsail Island. There with two lovely lady friends I whiled away days and nights eating fresh fish, walking on the beach, bird watching, watching the sun rise and set, the full moon rise and set too. We rode bikes, kayaked and swam, swam, swam.  It was about as perfect as a beach week could be and my honey Dave joined us for the last couple of days of quiet bliss.

Back at home I spent a week catching up, then a week in conferences and workshops.  I was in Raleigh at the Marbles Kids Museum for a three day intensive on early childhood physical activity sponsored by Blue Cross & Blue Shield NC - made me feel a little better about all those premiums I pay! I learned more than I have in a workshop in a long time, got loads of great ideas for easy and inexpensive games and activities to do with little ones (ages 3-5) to get them moving while having fun.  Diane Craft was there and shared all her wisdom.  They even brought in real live children for us to practice on which was super informative, our technique improved dramatically between the first group and the second the next day! FUN that's what it was all about.

Then I was two days at the Natural Learning Initiatives' annual Design Institute at the NC Botanical Garden.  This is the event to which I attribute my epiphany of career change and life change- 4 years ago I heard Phil Waters from the Eden Project in England talk about "Play Work" and thought to myself- "that's what I want to do, I want to be a play worker."  Despite its oxymoronic sound, it is indeed the work of children to play, and we don't let them do enough of it, not even close.  

I made a presentation on gardening and cooking with kids.  I had a copperhead crawl across my foot while I was standing and listening to someone else speaking during another workshop! That was exciting! The appearance of the snake was only one among multiple signs of transformation that have visited me lately, I am ready, I am watching for the big shift.

The NLI-DI was the perfect lead-in to two more days of training at the NC Zoo in Asheboro.  There I completed my third and final session in the Playful Pedagogy training.  I and four other happy folks are the first graduating class in this program that has helped us understand better the principles of play and how to make opportunities for children to play.  By providing "affordances" stuff in other words. Both natural: sticks, bamboo, leaves, nuts, water, trees... and human made: cardboard boxes, balls, buckets, pool noodles... Then get out of the way and let the children play.  In a safe space, but without great interference from adults.

Guess what?  Kids learn by playing.  They develop cognitive, social and emotional skills while being physically active and being creative.  It's a win win,  play workers just need to provide the space and stuff and then keep the parents out of the way so kids can take some risks and explore.

And we got to camp out at the Zoo!  I woke to the sound of elks bugling across the park, got up and walked over to watch the seals swim and play for a while.  It was strange, and I was surprised at the noise from all the mechanical systems whirring and humming to keep all the animal exhibits running smoothly, it wasn't as quiet as I thought it might be.

Finally back at home and with some free time - it proceeded to rain for 8 straight days.   Well, I got caught up on work and house chores at least, though had to break down and use the drier to get the laundry done.  I was quite happy to see the sun yesterday so took a long walk to the mountain top, haven't been up there since the leaves came out last spring.  It was swell to see some sunshine and spy a few lovelies like:

 Indian pipe in bloom

At home I did manage to get a fall garden planted in between everything else but we have had a killer crop of caterpillars, maybe all the rain?  Who knows, but these fuzzy buggers are wreaking havoc in the greens:
Along with wooly worms and a few other varieties of creepy crawlies.  We've been squishing loads of them and when it finally stopped raining I sprayed Bacillus Thuriengensis (BT) to try and slow them down. 
Need more sunny days to ripen up the green peppers that are still on the plants and for the ground to dry up enough to dig the sweet potatoes and plant the garlic.

So life goes on despite no blogging.  As I always say, though you probably won't believe me, I'll try to be better.  Maybe that will be part of the coming transformation?  More writing- YES!

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