Friday, June 24, 2011

By Example

There's a social learning theory in anthropology based on mimetic (imitative) play. It supposes that children learn work and life skills modeling the predominant adults in their lives by turning observed work into play.

Self-explanatory, easy to observe.

Thus, in our carefully protective society wherein all playgrounds are lawsuit padded, we might harness early learning by giving a child a set of plastic dishes and plastic food wherewith s/he practices cutting, cooking, eating, and cleaning. We might buy a little faux vacuum cleaner or a set of AA-battery power tools with which s/he can "help" us build shelves or change a tire.

Yes, it is imaginative play, but it is also imitative.

We think it's cute.

It's also a valuable part of figuring out how to survive.

Of course, in many societies, children skip the plastic toys and move straight to real tools. They might still "play" with them until they are skilled enough to use them for their true designated purpose. While mama skins a fish, baby pretends to skin a fish... only sometimes baby is given a real knife to use while imitating the fish-skinning work/play.

Here's an example.

When I lived on a kibbutz in Israel, I was surprised by the playground. It looked nothing like the neighborhood playgrounds with which I grew up nor like the playgrounds Bridgette visits.

There were no swings, no soft wood chips, no towers to climb, no slides, and no rubber coatings. It contained an old rusty refrigerator, broken furniture, sundry other appliances, and most notably, a tank. Not a fish tank. A... tank! Like military grade.

The man who introduced me to this "play" area explained that children must learn, and how better to do it? And, "If they get hurt, they learn not to do that action again."

(Watch the documentary called "BABIES" to see four specific examples of how children are raised differently in different places, but all employ some form of mimetic play. Here is the BABIES Movie Trailer.)

At some point, no matter which society, these activities move from "play" to actual "work" but it can still feel like "play." For example, Bridgette helps me do the laundry. It's real work, but she loves it.

It's -- Just! So! Fun!

Then, a bit later, "work-play" simply becomes "work," and we lose the joy of endless laundry. Yet, based on public health principles of preventive intervention, washing clothes, blankets, and towels may, in fact, help us survive. Especially when they're covered in... you know... whatever.

Hot water and soap!

Good thing she likes to "play" laundry.

You might have noticed that in some places, children... very young children... go to real work, working real jobs (dangerous, tedious and/or back-bending jobs) at tender ages. My impression is that those children lose the joy of work-play earlier than others. It's somewhat evident in this elucidating documentary by Frederick Rendina and Oren Rudavsky: To Educate a Girl - Movie Trailer.

Well, everything above was a little intro to this video below, wherein I prove (based strictly on observing Bridgette's mimetic work-play) that I am *not* an accomplished gardener.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Super Dad!

Happy Father's Day to one of the best dads I've ever known--my husband, Jeffrey!

Since the very first moments after Bridgette's birth, Jeff has been heavily involved with Bridgette's care. And based on his smile the first time he held her, I know he's done it with a lot of love in his heart.

Being a parent isn't easy for anyone, but Jeff had some special challenges early in his fatherhood.

That didn't stop him from jumping in and learning everything he needed to know to care for his darling girl. Most daddies have to learn to change diapers. When Bridgette came out of surgery with an Ileostomy, Jeff had to learn a whole lot more.

He gave her a very special blessing, and what I remember most was him blessing Bridgette to always know how much she is loved by him and me as well as extended family members and lots of other people. We've definitely seen that over the last few years. Bridgette is loved by so many, and none love her more than her daddy.

This last week, for the first time in three years, we've all been able to sleep through the night. On all those other nights? I'd like to say our burden has been equal, but the truth is that Jeff has helped her through more nights than me...

No parent is perfect, but he often finds a way to make her smile.

And I don't think he's ever let her down.

He's one of the most patient men I know. That's the truth.

And he spends time with his daughter--sun, rain, or snow. He teaches her how to throw a ball, how to build a tower, how to burp, and how to move between applications on his iPhone. What else in life do you really need to know? :) She's pretty much an expert at all four, and I've noticed she responds particularly well to his praise.

Here's a little memory of the two of them together on Jeff's first Father's Day, right before Bridgette turned 1 year old!

And here they are together on her first birthday, a few days before Bridgette's second surgery! Guess who cleaned up that messy baby! Yep, you got it! Daddy.

Since Bridgette has dealt with some mobility issues on top of additional medical care, Jeff's had to put extra work into everything we do together, from packing diaper bags with special supplies to lots of lifting/carrying to even more patience...

On top of everything else, he works hard to provide for our family, to keep us comfortable and as fulfilled as possible. He puts in extra hours at home and constantly studies new technologies so he can maintain his skill-set. I appreciate his work ethic, and I know the underlying reason for all his long days is the care he has for his family.

He has definitely been the one who's introduced Bridgette to many of her most fabulous firsts.

And dealt with a lot of things that, sadly, are not firsts at all.

But Jeff has always remained optimistic that Bridgette will have a good life. He believes her delays won't hold her back in the long run and that her health will be manageable over time. I know he fully intends to continue to provide the best opportunities that his princess could imagine.

They have a special bond.

After a short time away while we were in Florida, Jeff was a little worried that Bridgette might forget him. But when he came to pick us up at the airport, Bridgette RAN to him, shouting, "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!" Look at that smile! That's one happy daddy!

Jeff lets Bridgette experiment in life within certain boundaries, and I think that's a great quality in a parent. I know he wants to teach her how to be a good, moral, upstanding person who can make her own choices.

And he believes *strongly* in letting children be children and encouraging *lots* of play and silliness.

Bridgette is lucky to have Jeff for her father. And I am lucky to have Jeff be my parenting partner. He's a really great dad.

We both love him very, very much.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Crawl? Check.
Walk? Check.
Run? Check.
Hopscotch? Working on it...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

All Things Disney World -- Part III

***The Magic Kingdom***

We spent Day 1 post-travel at The Magic Kingdom.

"Let the Memories Begin!"

(That's not me being quotable... it's actually printed on a big sign, right as you enter the park.)

Except for the photo at the top, all of the following shots were taken on Day 1. The one above was taken towards the end of the trip on a day when we split up and did our own thing.

This really nice family asked us if we'd like a photo together. Bridgette wouldn't look at the camera until all the men (there were 3 of them, and one young boy) starting jumping around shouting, "Hola! Hola! Hola!" Take a look at our expressions above to see how we reacted.

Ok - moving on. Or, rather, moving backward.

Here we are (below), incredibly white and pasty on the first morning of the first full day in Florida. We had lately traveled from the land of perpetual snow, and I was silly enough to have packed jeans instead of shorts.

Florida, by the way, is hot.

(This is the only shot, perhaps on the whole trip, where my hair is down and dry-looking.)

So I should explain the history of my family at Disney World.

First, we went there as kids and had a great time. My mom wants to have a family reunion there every ten years -- this trip being one of those reunions.

Second, when we were there as kids, my parents let us split off from them one day with the injunction that, "You *all* stay together at *all* times."

Third, there was no line at Pirates of the Caribbean on that particular split-off day, so my brothers circled the Pirate loop at least one-hundred thousand times. The ride ended, we got off, we went to the beginning, and we got right back on.

(No doubt my brothers would say we rode it no more than 5 times... or some such nonsense).

Whatever the count, it far exceeded, um, expectations. And I *had* to stay with them.

So. What did we do first on *this* trip? Enter the gates, turn left to Adventureland, and hit Pirates of the Caribbean!

Aw yeah.

The ride has changed a little bit.

For example, they do a pirate show outside (see photo -- that's what B is watching). There's also a full-on Johnny Depp/Jack Sparrow replica somewhere towards the end of the ride. And I don't remember there being so many tubs of plastic swords in the gift shop -- though Bridgette seemed to notice every single one.

Pretty much though, it's the same ride I never liked.

It's air-conditioned, and that's something.

(Note: I'm not into pirates [or pirate franchises] as a rule -- except for the Veggie Tales "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything" and the preemptive Bajan lazy-pirate, Sam Lord, who allegedly placed lanterns on the reef some distance at sea from his castle so that ships at night would think they were surfing ashore but instead they'd crash into the reef and be at his mercy without him ever having to sail and give chase.)

(But let it be known. I'm against plundering.)

Bridgette thought she might like Pirates -- her foray into Disney. The idea of riding on water and looking at stuff appealed to her. That is, until the very first pirate scene. Then she was suitably freaked out and spent the rest of the ride squatting on the floor of the boat where she couldn't see anything.

Good thing she doesn't have brothers...

After that we couldn't much decide what to do, but eventually landed on a train ride out of Frontierland for the tinier people.

I carried two quarts of Pedialyte into the parks each day, and Bridgette never failed to drink it all.

Quoth the raven, "Florida is hot."

Now tell me this ain't adorable! (No, don't -- I won't believe you.) Here is Bridgette's Aunt Julianne and her son, James. We think they're cute.

Oh you've seen this before... take a photo of the person who's taking a photo. But have you ever taken a photo of TWO people taking a photo? Ha. One-upped.

I figured B would be more willing to smile for photos if she had her own camera. I don't know if it worked exactly, but she liked her camera - a toy version that talks. And I liked it when she took pictures of Grampa Hoose, cuz when she clicked the button, the voice inside the pink box said, "Smile! You're as pretty as a princess!"

After the train, we moved on to additional Bridgette-friendly rides.

We did one display together in Liberty Square (just me and Bridge) called the Hall of Presidents. It's a huge stage full of giant moving screens, quotes and recitations from the Declaration of Independence and other important U.S. documents, a brief historical tour of the salient times in our nation's history (good and bad), and plenty of animatronics. You are animatronically introduced to every President of the U.S., including Barack Obama.

At one point, an animatronic President Lincoln gives a stirring speech.

At the end of it, the whole theater was dead-silent.

And who should break the silence?


And how?

She started clapping!

It was beautiful. Made me cry.

Over in Fantasyland, we discovered a great many toddler suitable choices.

Here is Cousin Emma on our very favorite --
the good old-fashioned carousel.

Me and The Bridgenator

Um. Ok. Well, *mostly* suitable for toddlers.

Babe visited the newly revamped Haunted Mansion sandwiched between me and Grampa. And I think she liked it. She kept saying, "GhO-O-Ost!" But a handful of the ghosts towards the end scared her when they popped up out of the cemetery.

(She still sees ghosts sometimes, around town or at home. She talks to them. Sometimes the ghost is, "A happy ghost!" And sometimes the ghosts are sad. And sometimes she says, "Ghost! I scared!" But we've taught her how to wave to the scary ghosts and say, "Bye-bye ghost!" and they tend to go away.)

We did the next ride with Uncle Jon and Christina. "It's a Small World" was better than I remembered it. I think they've revamped much of that ride too. It was certainly child appropriate. And we met some very nice people who let us put our bags on their aisle to make more room on our bench in the boat.

Had we only known, we'd have gone to Peter Pan first, when the wait time said "Zero Minutes."

By the time we were out of It's a Small World, the wait was up to 40 minutes.

We risked it, but I wouldn't have had I known the line was routed through a gravity-well that reversed time, and by "40 minutes" they meant "90 minutes or an eternity... whichever comes last."

Bridgette didn't want to be set down. And that's a long time to hold a sweaty kid, her Pedialyte, her diapers, and her blanket... which did nothing to keep me from getting sweaty too.

We liked the ride though.

(Hmm... come to think of it, Peter Pan is piratey. Well, add it to my approved list then...)

Quite probably I have some of this stuff out of order. I *think* the next stop was The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh -- also toddler acceptable despite the crazy, striped heffalumps and woozles.

One reason Winnie the Pooh was so fun? The designers were thoughtful enough to put a whole host of entertainments along the waiting line. Built in rabbit holes, puzzles, walls dripping with "honey." It sure made the wait more tolerable.

I was *most* pleased that Bridgette and Emma got along so nicely. Since returning home, Bridgette still occasionally asks, "Where Emma?"

Now without prompting, and with no other clues, Bridgette looked at the two photos below and said, "Pooh!" So evidently she remembers some of what she did in Florida. And she must have liked this ride.

You can't really tell, but we're riding in honey pots.

I don't remember its name, but our subsequent stop was a theater where we heard/felt a 3-D symphony led by Donald Duck. It was nice to sit down and cool-off.

The inimitable James.

Some tired, hot, and thirsty children waiting for their turn in the theater.

From Fantasyland we moved around the clock to Tomorrowland.

As we were in line for the Buzz Lightyear ride, the strangest thing occurred.

My head was down, watching B climbing about in a flower bed ripe with wood shavings when a man's voice said, "Kelly?"

I looked up to see, Brent, a friend from high school!

Our families both chose the same place to vacation, in the same week of the year, choosing on the same day to play at The Magic Kingdom, and at the same hour to be in Tomorrowland, and at the same minute to be in the same line so that we would happen to pass each other on the way to Buzz Lightyear!

Odd, but totally amazing.

My brother Scott is the same age as Brent's older sister, so we all knew each other and were able to get together for a mini high school reunion later in the week.

Good times!

Back to Buzz...

This is the ride where you spin your car around and zap Zurg targets with your laser beam.


Bridgette directed our car.

We did *not* get the highest points...

When we exited, it was raining!

B was SO enamored. She ran around in the rain. I took photos and video of her running. Please try to remember that running is still fairly new to us, and I get so excited when she's happy and free.

Oh! And we were exchanging numbers with Brent and family too, so for a moment I turned away from my daughter. When I turned back, she was laying on her tummy in a big warm puddle.

Ah... comfy.

Note the puddle-wet shirt.

This video is reminiscent of a pigeon chase posted from Sea World. Only this time, she's chasing whatever seems the most wet.

Oh my word! And I'm watching this while I write, and I am *totally* her biggest fan ever!

Walt Disney (as pretoforehitherto mentioned) was inspired by the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago to create a magical place where people could experience other lands, including the future. He was a big fan of progress and technology.

The Carousel of Progress was a ride he personally designed for the General Electric pavilion for the 1964 World's Fair in New York. The carousel is named such because it is round and also goes a-round. But you sit in it theater style. The whole outside of the building moves so you can view different eras of progress on internal stages.

Here is my family on the Carousel of Progress.

Bridgette and Grampa were on the other side of me. But partway through... the darkness... the music... Bridgette climbed on my lap and fell asleep.

As normal as that might sound to some parents, Bridgette doesn't sleep anywhere but her own bed. In almost three years, she has only fallen asleep in my arms (yes, her own mother's arms) a handful of times.

Since we were so tuckered (heat, standing in lines, crowds, no normally scheduled naps, heavy backpacks, 20 mucky diaper changes on the run, etc.), when the ride ended, everyone got off except me and Bridge. I wanted to keep her asleep as long as possible.

If you're curious, there is one "extra" theater-style stage between the starting stage and the ending stage. There is no show just music, and there are no exit doors, and you might wonder for a moment if you are trapped there forever. But eventually the outside of the building turns again, and you rotate back to your starting position.

At this point the doors open for the next group of people to get on, preceded by the Disney World employee who is shocked to see you haven't gotten off.

He says, "Let me guess. She's asleep? You want to stay?"

"Yes, please."

"Just remember, once this thing starts, there's no way to get off."

"That's OK."

"Alright. As long as you know, you're welcome to take another turn."

And turn we did.

And stay we did.

Again, for a third time.

This time, when the employee opened the doors, he came over to chat.

"Is there anything I can do to make you more comfortable?"

"No, thanks."

"Where're you from?"


And then, "Just remember, once this starts, you can't get off."

Trust me. This warning sounds repetitive, but going around a third time? It's a 22 minute circle. His was the warning voice of reason...

Bridgette woke up towards the end of our tri-cycle. Her diaper was so wet (even though I had changed it already when we first got on a mere hour before) that it saturated her diaper and then soaked me.

All that Pedialyte...

Now. If you think my homemade videos are long, I doubt you can handle this. But just in case you're curious what I witnessed three times over... here is the entire Carousel of Progress.

"There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow!"

We were separated from family who had all gone off to do more wakeful things while B napped.

So after we exited, Bridgette and I did the People Mover. And personally, I really, really liked it. The simple things in life make me very happy. It zips around and goes inside of other rides, sort of giving you a simple tour of Tomorrowland's possibilities. But many of the rides aren't possible for a tender, pint-sized sapling.

Here is a photo I snapped of Tomorrowland's decor from the People Mover. I think it was a cell phone shot with a wicked delay, but still, you get the dusky idea.

The last ride of the day was the track!

Hard to see it, but Bridgette was driving. She'll be a great driver one day.

At least, I *think* she'll be much better once she can reach the pedals...

In the zippy red car, Cousin Emma was driving her mama.

The day ended with a nice reserved dinner at the Crystal Palace. Most of the reservation eateries are buffet style and serve a variety of foods, varying in theme dependent on location.

They were all tasty.

Again, Bridgette looked at this picture, the outside of the restaurant only, and said, "Tig! Oreo!" So, I know the trip made an impression.

(Tig = Tigger; Oreo = Eeyore)

While we were waiting for our names to be called, we all hung out in the gloaming cool.

Jon & Christina

Cousin Evan, Aunt Julianne, Cousin James

A brief moment of bonding beween Bridgette and Gramma Hoose.

One reason to make reservations at Disney World is that reserved meals have perks. Like, some restaurants are scheduled for dinner visits, where the characters come right to your table. For shizzle, that beats standing in line for an hour to get a photo op.

This was a Winnie-the-Pooh character dinner.

Cousin Evan seemed pleased to see Tigger.

OK, so I already mentioned B's initial hesitation with the larger-than-life Winnie the Pooh characters, HERE. But in this series, you can see her trying to avoid the same friendly Tigger who happily rubbed shoulders with Evan.

First there is the hand-up, run-away, "No!"

Then the squirming away from the forcible hug.

Then the look-mom-is-brave-and-isn't-bothered-by-this-gigantic-orange-creature attempt to warm her up.

But, she didn't warm up to Tigger.

Eeyore was next on the list, and he was soft and sweet and gentle.

Eeyore got lots of love and even a kiss.

From then on things were easier.

Evan & Emma getting Piglet's signature.

I love her hair in this one.

Following dinner, we stepped right out on the... uh... steps... to watch the fireworks show "Wishes."

Lest you think our money alone drives the Disney machine, please be aware we were not the only ones at the park that day.

Here we are!

From left to right: Evan, two random kids in yellow who wanted to sit with us but to whom we are not related, Emma, Kelly, Bridgette!

All in all, a pretty good day!

P.S. - You can go to You Tube to watch any of the rides at Disney World, including all the ones mentioned in this post.