Saturday, April 28, 2012

May Day

No, May Day isn't just a cry for help. That's an anglicized spelling of the French m'aider, which means "help me."

But the first day in the month of May has been celebrated in many cultures for centuries. It's exactly half a year from November first when the night before, which we call Halloween, symbolized the start of the cold, dark time of year. By contrast, May Day symbolizes the coming of the warm, sunny half of the year.

Because of the change in weather the holiday has focused on flowers and fertility. Quite a few ancient cultures, including the Romans and Druids, had religious celebrations on that day but even without religious connotations May Day has been considered a pleasant occasion. When I was a kid we used to leave small baskets of flowers at neighbors' front doors.

But in 1886 because of demonstrations demanding an eight hour work day, May Day became associated with political controversy, and it was later celebrated by Communists in the Soviet Union, so people in the United States didn't observe the day as anything special.

But the first day of May is still a good time to think about the nice Spring weather (even if it hasn't arrived yet where you live) and the beauty of flowers and green leaves on trees.

I hope you have a happy May Day on Tuesday, May 1, 2012.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Water Cycle

Myra Calvani's book, The Water Cycle, is a good one to use for teaching science to young children.
The information is presented in an amusing way so even little kids can understand it, while the educational activities at the end will be helpful for teachers and homeschooling parents.

Unlike most books on this topic, Calvani mentions some of the negative things about the water cycle such as the possibility of floods and being painfully hit by hail. Children need to be aware of things like that.

The illustrations by Alexander Morris communicate a lot through the expressions of people and animals and his personalized depictions of the raindrops, clouds, and other aspects of the water cycle are cute and amusing.

This book is the first in the Waterplay Series and I expect future books in the series to be equally as informative and amusing.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Earth Day

Tomorrow will be Earth Day when we acknowledge our gratitude for our planet and talk about ways to protect it.
Last year I posted a story about Earth Day that is both amusing and horrifying. Here's the link in case you want to read it:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


When I was a teenager I had terrible acne, and the zits had a negative effect on my social life and self esteem. And I'm certainly not the only one who ever had to deal with pimples.
I just did a google search for the word, acne, and got 129,000,000 hits.
Lots of the sites gave information about the influence of hormones, stress, and suggested treatments. One page I visited said about 3/4 of all teens have the problem and adults often have it, too.
My acne continued well into my 20s when I discovered something only mentioned on a few of the websites. While hormones and stress did play a part, my acne was primarily caused by food allergies.
Surprisingly, that's not unusual.
Food allergies don't always show up on skin tests and it can take several days for people to react to things they eat or drink, so many people are allergic to foods but don't know it.
If anyone who has acne also has a family history of allergies, and especially if they are allergic to anything themselves, it might be a good idea for them to investigate the possibility that their pimples are an allergic reaction to something they eat or drink.
While a complete elimination diet is extremely difficult, results can sometimes be found by avoiding all the foods someone frequently eats for a week, then adding one of those foods back every five days. Keeping a diary of what is eaten and when reactions occur can show a pattern. (I'm not a medical practitioner and only speak from personal experience.)
Yes, doing all that is a bit of a nuisance, but it's worth the effort to get rid of the acne. It worked for me.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Our society in the USA and those in most of the world are controlled by money.
But money, like words, only has value because we agree that it does.
Paper money may stand for gold, but even gold is only valuable because people think it is. Yes, it's pretty. Yes, it's rare. But you can't use it for clothing or shelter and it isn't good to eat or drink. And gold - or money - can't love anyone. Today gold may be used in some electronic devices, but historically it couldn't produce heat or light.
Why did humans in ancient times consider it a treasure?
In today's world it would be extremely difficult to survive without money in some form whether that be gold, cash, checks, credit and debit cards or legally binding promises.
But a lot of the things we have or wish we had are simply status symbols, pretty and pleasant like gold, but not essential. We do really need clothes, shelter, utilities, food and water, transportation, medical care and love.
The greatest of these is love, which is priceless.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Healthy Foods?

Back in the 1940s everyone, including my mother, knew the healthiest foods were "good red meat" and spinach because they were high in iron.
Now scientists say the iron in spinach doesn't absorb into humans very well and we've all been warned that red meet contains cholesterol that clogs arteries and causes heart attacks.
In the meantime we've been advised to eat certain foods and avoid others, but the advice has changed over the years. The seven basic food groups of proteins, carbohydrates, dairy, green vegetables, fruits, red and yellow vegetables and fats were changed to the food pyramid, which has also been modified.
The newest suggestion seems to be the Paleo Diet, which is supposed to be what cave men ate; lots of fruits, vegetables and meat, including the red kind, and no grains or dairy products at all.
And then there are all the diets that are supposed to help people loose weight.
It seems to me that except for special diets required for medical reasons, the best thing to do is follow the ancient advice from Aristotle, "moderation in all things."

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Traditions

When I was a kid we were fairly poor and most of my clothes were hand-me-downs. But every Easter I would have a new dress to wear to church.
Many people know Easter bunnies and eggs come from the ancient Anglo-Saxon religion that celebrated a goddess of Spring named Eastre.
So, what do new clothes, eggs, and rabbits have to do with a Christian holiday that celebrates the resurrection?
Simple. They all remind us of new life.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Joy the Jellyfish

Joy the Jellyfish is a cute picture book written by Kristen Collier and illustrated by Kevin Collier.
It's about a transparent jellyfish who is unseen or unnoticed by all the other sea creatures. Joy is lonely and wants a friend more than anything. But what can she do to get one when she's almost invisible?
At last Joy travels far from the Great Barrier Reef and meets someone who not only befriends her, but teaches her how to make other friends by offering her friendship to them. I won't give away the plot by telling you who it is that helps her.
The wise knowledge that you have to be a friend to make a friend will be helpful to young readers and those who hear this book read aloud to them.
Kids are often caught up in attempts to be popular and I hope learning the wise words in the book from Joy's adviser that a true friend sees you from the inside out will help them focus on what really matters as they grow older.
Of course Kevin Colliers illustrations are perfect expressions of the story. I have a feeling the Colliers are good examples of friends as well as being husband and wife.