As we sat, ready to launch, she was chanting, "I don't want to do this, I don't want to do this." Her dad told her that canoes are always tipsy--just don't lean way over the side.
Then we started paddling and took turns spotting dark silhouettes ahead: "Is that a log or...something else?" It was a log several times, and once, a muskrat who was swimming parallel to us. Nate was concerned about the muskrat approaching.
"I'll just hit him with a paddle," Dad said.
"But what if that doesn't work?" Nate asked.
"Oh, it will," replied Dad.
"Not if he's wearing his muskrat armor," I added.
That made Nate laugh. He dropped his talk of being attacked by the small animal in the distance.
We went upstream, paddling about twenty minutes. We went through lily pads. I looked for flowers among the flat green leaves. These flowers are a symbol of a human's best nature--of enlightenment--since they rise up dainty and beautiful out of the muck and mud.
There is a gathering of swans further upstream, just visible as long necks and floating white bodies against the backdrop of grey-green water and tree foliage. It is so much quieter than being at home. We live in a small town, a place where city people wonder "What do you DO here?" Getting enough quiet doesn't seem an issue, but being out of range of traffic and electronics adds a layer of calm I had forgotten. It is lovely...soothing.
|St. Joseph River at dusk.|
"Don't go rattling around in dark, undisturbed places or you'll scare the brown recluse spiders, who might bite you to try and get away." I want them to be smart, not reckless.
So when some variation of water spider is desperately trying to get away from us in the bottom of the canoe, I scoop him up and toss him overboard, suppressing my distaste for how they move [shudder].
Madelyn: "Mom, how do you spell carriage?"
Madelyn: "Show me what a carriage looks like (I'm online, so we go to Google Images).
[Pause as she looks]. "How do you make a carriage wheel out of cardboard?"
Mom: "Why do you need a carriage wheel?"
Madelyn: "I'm making one for my animals and I need wheels."
She brings me a small plastic shopping basket being "pulled" by a Barbie horse harnessed in yarn. She has found some flattened boxes in our recycling to use for the wheels. We cut off thick strips and wrap them around a drinking glass to make them the same size. Then we glue the edges. A problem, though, is the axle. We have chopsticks for the axle. But what about the spokes to attach the wheels to the axle?
Her dad calls. I tell him about our experiment. He's supportive, but says, "You need to find something solid for the wheels."
I'm standing at the counter; before me is a pile of potatoes--round, rather uniformly-sized potatoes. After matching two pairs of spuds, I skewer one with a chopstick.
"What are you doing?" Madelyn asks, surprised.
We use wire ties to connect the chopsticks in the middle, making our axles. It's not ideal since the chopsticks are square and the potatoes are lumpy, but our wheels keep the basket off the ground and "drag" nicely over the carpet. Anyway, pumpkins were good enough for Cinderella; potatoes are good enough for our crew.
|"Dashing 'round the floor, in a one horse open potato carriage."|
The token system got messy after just a few days. For one, if someone wants to trade their tokens for time--then decides to quit before that time is up, how to keep track of the remaining time owed? Also, if one is watching a video and the other wants to look over a shoulder, do they both owe? And what about when they play DS while PBS Kids is on? Is that worth double?
So this week we're trying the original system again. Get all your chores done and spend a couple hours in free electronic time--computer, DS, TV, or movie.
Madelyn brings me a tiny square of paper. It's an envelope.
"Want to see how I made it?" she asks, dashing off before I reply.
She returns with a deconstructed business envelope and says, "I just pulled this one apart and noticed how it's a parallelogram, then I made another one, but small."
(This is how math gets applied in real life; a kid needs time and enough boredom to resort to making mini-envelopes to send letters to her stuffed animals.)
|The original (left) and the teensy-sized version (right)|