The Battle of the Tortillas

When you hear “tortilla”, what comes to mind? Is it a thick potato omelet or a round flatbread made from cornmeal?

Growing up, I associated the word with corn chips because, well… you know, tortilla chips (which a Mexican friend told me were actually called totopos and not tortillas). And then I got introduced to burritos and soft tacos, so tortilla became that flatbread thing used to wrap around and contain ground meat, beans, rice, veggies, and cheese.

When I started majoring in Spanish, my professors introduced us to the peninsular Spanish language and culture first, so I learned about the other tortilla. What does it say about me that I found the fact that there were two entirely different kinds of tortilla infinitely interesting?

As intrigued as I was by the distinction between the Spanish tortilla and the Mexican tortilla, I was even more fascinated by the way the tortilla de patata is made. All that flipping and sliding seemed like kitchen acrobatics to me – riveting stuff.

Spanish Tortilla

At that time, I couldn’t even boil water (and I was in the Girl Scouts growing up too!). I just had nothing to do with the kitchen. My mother told me when I was two years old not to mess around in the kitchen or I was sure to burn or stab myself to death (not in those actual words, but you get the idea) and I took the warning to heart well into adulthood.

In any case, the Great Tortilla Distinction remained a fascination until, well, the present day. As a Spanish teacher, I integrated cooking the two kinds of tortilla into the lesson, the Spanish tortilla for the upper school classes and the Mexican tortilla (which is definitely easier to make) for the middle school ones. I even ordered a tortilla press, which turned out to be next to useless as we ended up preferring the good old rolling pin.

Now that I have my own family, the tortillas are also frequently in the menu. I have a bunch of picky eaters on my hands, so I have to plan carefully to ensure that mealtimes aren’t a battle of wills and that food isn’t wasted. No, I haven’t been able to train them to eat whatever’s in front of them. I didn’t even try, so let’s move on.

Fortunately, my kids love the Spanish tortilla and like chicken quesadillas. My daughter usually helps me when she’s not minding her brothers (she’s a regular Kristy Thomas – a little Baby-Sitters Club reference there, heehee).

The problem with our Spanish tortilla is that there are five of us and we definitely need more than one “pie”. My husband recently bought a bigger cast iron skillet (the man loves his skillets), so that might make a big enough pie for our family. I doubt it, but we’ll see.

I’m not going to share my tortilla de patata recipe here because, honestly, I just wing it most of the time, but this recipe is closest to what I usually do, only I add some butter, carrots, and paprika as well.

As for my chicken quesadilla. It’s one of my dumb and fast food choices, provided I had already made and frozen tortillas and there’s a jar of my husband’s famous salsa (well, famous at our church, lol) in the fridge.

I basically heat up some chicken breast nuggets, cut them into strips, melt some butter in the pan, place a tortilla in it, arrange chicken strips on top, grate cheese over them, see that the cheese has melted some, place a second tortilla on top, make sure the mess is stuck together, and then flip the whole thing over to fry the other side as well. There may also be strips of bell pepper, depending on its availability.

Which tortilla do you prefer? What do you usually make with Mexican tortillas? Share your tortilla knowledge and experience in the comments.

The Best Way to Use That App Called “RESPECT”

If you go to my personal Facebook page, you’d get the idea that I’m anti-gadget. I’m not. I use gadgets. I’m on the Internet a lot. I have to consciously wrest myself away from the Internet to make sure that I’m being mentally present with my kids. What I’m against, however, is the obnoxious, anti-social use of these mobile devices.

To those who know me, that may seem hypocritical. I can be very anti-social. Growing up, it was very characteristic of me to whip out a book wherever I might have been and read. I never did it, however, when I was in a social setting. I didn’t bring out my book and start reading while people were talking to me or trying to engage me. To do that would just be so rude.

These days, however, that seems to be the norm with smartphones. I can’t count the times I’ve wanted to grab somebody’s phone and hurl it at the wall. If I’m not as entertaining as a Facebook newsfeed or a YouTube video, then slink off to a corner and commit to your choice of engagement. I prefer that you not be in my presence at all if you’re not going to be present. Honestly, am I the only one who’s insulted by this kind of behavior?

I’m teaching my kids to not use gadgets when they’re supposed to be socializing. Right now, my daughter likes listening to music or watching movies on our old iPod. She also has a broken iPod Touch that we have yet to get around to having repaired, but with both, my rule for her is to not use either when she’s with other people. “Chat! Play!” I urge her, and I mean both in the unplugged sense.

She’s okay with this rule. She likes to talk (and, boy, does she!) and she appreciates all opportunities to play with other kids since she doesn’t get them on a daily basis, homeschooling as we do (Hold all comments about socialization – we’re happy with the organic socialization she gets. As a matter of fact, the issue I’m about to share rarely happens when we gather with other homeschoolers.).

The rub, however, is in the fact that most of the other kids she’s with are using their gadgets. The ones who aren’t using their gadgets are gathered around those who are using their gadgets. I hate seeing that. Whatever happened to playing tag, jacks, et cetera? Believe me, it may seem like “mirones” watching somebody else play chess, but it feels different.

Having banned my kid from gadget use when she’s with other people, she ends up being one of the kids to look over the gadget-using kid’s shoulder. When I come across this scene , my blood pressure rises (because, well, does anybody else think it’s pathetic?), which I try to hide, so I just calmly remind her that she has drawing materials in her bag, as well as a few toys she could play-share with other kids, not to mention whatever book she’s currently reading.

Call me a buttinski, but that little nudge gets me the result I want, and my kid is happy to remember that, yeah, she has those other options. As much as I prefer to just let kids be, there are moments when I feel compelled to interfere.

Take for example, this one time at church. I found Midge in the office, seated next to her friend, watching the other girl play on her tablet. The other kid was completely ignoring her, as absorbed as she was with the game she was playing.

It made me sad, not only because my daughter appeared a bit pitiful, looking on like that, but also because this should have been a chance for them to swap jokes, giggle together, talk each other’s ears off… I couldn’t help myself. I meddled.

“Hey, M!” I called my daughter over, while taking out a piece of paper and a pen from my bag. “Let’s see if you can guess this word. It’s something found inside this room.” And thus I started a game of Hangman with her.

After two words in and a lot of excited exclamations from M, the other girl placed her tablet down and wandered over to us. She soon started guessing along, and later, she asked for a turn to make us guess. I left them some minutes later happily playing that old chestnut of a game. I mentally dusted off my hands and thought, “My work here is done.”

I know there are those of you who see nothing wrong with kids playing with their gadgets in social settings and think it’s perfectly natural for kids to huddle around somebody playing on a gadget, but I disagree with valid reasons based on my personal convictions and values, and it is within my role as a parent to bring up my children accordingly. Believe me, there have been a few occasions where she asked that irritating question that begins with “How come my friends’ parents let them…?” but she has now memorized my reply: “Different families, different values, different priorities.”

Please don’t misunderstand. My kids get a lot of screen time – more than I’m happy with actually. What I’m opposed to is people ignoring each other in a social situation to focus on their gadget.

Feel free to express your agreement or disagreement with me.

Get Inspiration from Last Year’s Summer Bucket List

I saw a bunch of “things your kids can do in Manila” type of posts on my Facebook news feed, mainly stuff you have to pay for like lessons and camps, but, still, it got me thinking about this summer’s bucket list.

Okay, two things.

First, I know the term “bucket list” is supposed to refer to a life list and not a to-do list for a limited period of time since it stems from the expression “kick the bucket”, but I’m okay with using the term incorrectly, so moving on.

Second, I’m a chronic list maker. I make lists for everything. And I have a compulsion to make my lists as long as possible (I really have to curb this inclination when making the grocery list), so when I make bucket lists, they tend to be ridiculously long.

These two points serve as a sort of disclaimer as I’m about to share our family’s 2016 summer bucket list. It’s nothing fancy, just a colorful Word doc that I copied and pasted onto Paint, so I can share it as an image here on the blog. I obviously have mad tech skills, lol. My husband, who’s a techie, is probably cringing in embarrassment as he goes through this post.

I could have, of course, scanned the printout I had posted on the fridge all through summer of last year, but that’s kind of grungy with smeared ink, dirty fingerprints, and other stains, not to mention non-matching highlighters used to strike through accomplished items. Also, it’s now glued to the kids’ smashbook (it’s actually my smashbook, but it’s about the kids, so… yeah) and it would be a wonky scan.

Anyway, here it is.

You probably noticed the rather excessive number of items, but that’s just how I am. I like to aim high, so even if I didn’t accomplish everything, I’d still have done a lot. I also like to be thorough so my list can be as long as I can make it. I also put in a lot of “sure bets” because I like crossing things off the list. Don’t judge. It’s not that freaky. There are lots of silly list-makers out there. At least, I don’t add things to the original list for the purpose of having something to cross out, although I can understand how that can be fun and satisfying too.

Why am I sharing our old list? I thought it might provide some inspiration in case you want to make your own summer bucket list. Some of the items on this list are quite specific to our family’s preferences, but many are pretty generic to the season too. In any case, I’m making a new list for this year, and I can see that I’ll be keeping many of the items, but I’ll be weeding out a couple of things I’m not interested in at the moment. I might even come up with a free printable of a generic summer list, but that really depends on whether my husband has time to make something cute. I’m not about to give you something I made on Word and pasted on Paint. 🙂

Do you make bucket lists as well? What are your traditions and must-dos for summer? I would love to hear your ideas. They might even end up on the printable. Don’t worry; I’ll credit you.

How to Clean Crayon Marks from Walls

Yesterday was the first time National Homeschool Day was celebrated here in the Philippines. My family celebrated by meeting up with other homeschool families in our area.

Homeschooling, no matter how outsiders view it, is a brave choice. The challenges it presents are tremendously tough. You get the sense that you can’t afford to screw up because you’ll only have yourself to blame, and how can you live with that?

Well, obviously, with a lot of self-directed mercy. More often than not, we’re our own harshest critics, but well-seasoned parenthood is peppered with mistakes. That’s a confused application of figurative language, but anyway… Veteran parenting is the kind that seems easy, that suggests you’ve arrived at expert level but – hah! –   I’m not holding my breath trying to get to that point of parenting bliss.

I get the feeling that it doesn’t really ever become easier. The challenges are new and just as intense as we graduate to new stages. If it really does feel somewhat lighter, perhaps what basically changed is our attitude. We’ve learned to be more forgiving of ourselves. We’ve learned to choose our battles. We’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff, like crayon marks on the walls.

That was some segue, lol. At any rate…

We have cream walls in our home, the perfect canvas for a small, exploring hand wielding a crayon (or a pencil, or a marker, or my favorite eyeliner…).

Who needs wallpaper when you have little vandals running loose and wild inside your house, right? I have veritable murals.

I comfort myself with the knowledge that they’ll eventually learn not to draw on the walls. While they haven’t yet, I’ll just have to enjoy a little bit of toddler graffiti at home.

We could, of course, clean up those wall scribbles, but if you’re like me and a little bit lackadaisical in keeping the house presentable, it would probably take you months before you get around to it. 😀 Why bother, right? A neat and immaculate home lasts all of ten seconds. It’s a losing battle I just don’t have the energy or will for, lol.

Through the years, I’ve learned to be happy with “relatively clean and tidy”. There are maybe two times a year when I think I want ten seconds of an uncluttered, spotless home and make the effort. That’s sporadic enough for me to convince myself that crayon-marked walls have a certain charm to them. 😀

If you can’t live with those crayon marks, however, of if you’re finally getting around to erasing them, here are some ways you can go about it.

You’ll need a wash rag or a tea towel for every method, but the main cleaning ingredients are:

  • Method 1 – milk
  • Method 2 – toothpaste
  • Method 3 – baby oil
  • Method 4 – water and baking soda

Watch how successful my daughter and I were with each one in this video.

As it turned out, crayon marks aren’t that hard to erase from walls. After we made this video, we also tried with some plain water and soap, and the marks came off pretty easily as well.

Basically, we learned that we didn’t need to make a big production of getting rid of those crayon marks. The high difficulty level of the task was all in my head. Now, I don’t know about markers and pen ink. We’ll attack those marks next.

Btw, the video. It was our first video-making effort, which you can probably tell. It’s one of the skills my daughter is interested in acquiring (she says she wants her own YouTube channel), so we’re exploring it together. Just from this one, she has learned to use so many features of a basic video editing program. She was definitely more comfortable and knowledgeable in navigating her way through it than me.

She wanted to do a bunch of other fancy things, but I convinced her to keep it simple this first time. We also removed the music we’d initially put in because we learned that there’s a certain caveat if you use something from the YouTube audio library. I don’t understand it all that well yet, so I thought we’d better not use any music for now. I didn’t want to use music from elsewhere either until I look into copyright issues, so it’s just our voices and the hum of the AC, lol.

I promise, next time, we’ll use a better camera, a tripod, a mic, and my husband’s help. He actually knows how to edit videos, but he’s been busy. In any case, my daughter and I had a lot of fun floundering our way through this experience. 😀

That’s it for this post. What’s your attitude toward toddler graffiti? What method do you use for removing them? Any advice on video-making? Let us know.

Fun and Fascinating Ways to Celebrate Dr. Seuss’ Birthday

Dr. Seuss Day is tomorrow, March 2. On this day in 1904, the beloved children’s book author Dr Seuss was born Theodor Seuss Geisel in Springfield, Massachussetts. He adopted his pen name Dr. Seuss when he was still a university student in Dartmouth. That’s what he is most known for, although he also used other pseudonyms such as Theo LeSieg, Rosetta Stone, and Theophrastus Seuss.

From his name, Dr. Seuss is obviously of German descent, and if you know the most basic of the German language, you’ll know that Seuss should rhyme with choice and not choose; however, Dr. Seuss didn’t mind the anglicized pronunciation it popularly took on since it rhymed with Mother Goose. 🙂

I grew up loving Dr. Seuss books, even if the Cat in the Hat often stressed me out. 😀 Now, I’m happy to share the “obSeussion” with my kids. My 10-year old daughter, who’s all about being silly, can’t get enough of the rhymes. The two younger boys love the cadence of these rhymes when being read to, and they definitely also enjoy flipping through the pages and looking at the illustration.

In our family, children’s books do not remain in pristine condition. They also usually don’t stay in the bookcase either. I’m not one for keeping things that were meant for my kids out of their reach. Unfortunately, this means that some pages have rips, scribbles, drool marks, etc. Even the board books are far from damage-proof. This means that our Dr. Seuss books all bear the evidence of my kids’ fondness for them. See?

seuss books

And I wouldn’t have it any other way. But that’s just me. Different families, different values, different ways of doing things. 🙂

To celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday, the US assigned the date National Read across America Day. We’re not in the US, so we can’t observe that. 😀 Having said that, we’d definitely be reading our copies of Dr. Seuss’ books. We’d do other activities as well.  The day’s going to be pretty full. I should’ve made it Dr. Seuss week instead. Here are some of the things I’m including in the day’s program:

green eggs

  • Breakfast of green eggs and ham while listening and probably singing along to songs from Seussical the Musical. (I can paint the ham, but I think I’ll limit the food dye to the eggs. If you want to use something natural – although mine is store-bought “natural” food color – you could puree broccoli and mix it with beaten eggs for a green omelet.)

  • Dr. Seuss books read-aloud from my ten-year-old and our homeschool puppets. (save One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish for later)
  • Visit to Seussville.com for games.
  • First movie (Cat in the Hat).
  • Crafts: truffula trees (pipe cleaners and yarn pompoms), oobleck (homemade slime, basically), Cat in the Hat mask (construction paper and markers).


seuss-oobleck

  • Afternoon snack of homemade goldfish crackers while reading One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. (makeshift mold using a strip cut from a foil dish or soda can)
  • Second movie (The Lorax).

That’s going to be it for our Dr. Seuss Day, which I think is already plenty, but we love Dr. Seuss, so it’s all good.

Do you plan to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday? What activities will you do? How do you make your green eggs and ham? What’s your favorite Dr. Seuss book? Mine is Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Let us know in the comments section.

 

6 Excellent Reasons Why Birdwatching Is Worth Your While

Java Sparrow in Intramuros

We went birdwatching in Intramuros the other day. This was the third time we took advantage of the free guided birding trips periodically offered by the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines. Not only that, I finally signed up to become a member. I’ve been wanting to join the club for the longest time and I finally did it. Yay, me! It only took me seven years.

My primary reason for joining is that I’ve always enjoyed birdwatching. I’m as much a “Look at that bird” person as a “Look at the moon” one, I suppose. 😀 My spark bird (the one that ignited the interest in birdwatching) was a bee hummingbird I spotted one morning while I was vacationing at my aunt’s home in Southern California.

During that trip, I also frequently saw bluebirds, seagulls, crows, and Pelicans. For a girl who’d never seen anything but Eurasian tree sparrows (maya) and pigeons freely flying about (I was wrong about this, btw), seeing different kinds of birds in the wild (well, suburban wild) was a huge deal.

Birdwatching is definitely an activity that I want to share with my family. It’s my own interest, but I believe that my kids can benefit so much from engaging in it as well. Let me list the obvious perks that come with birdwatching.

  1. You learn about nature and appreciate how full of wonders it is. Different aspects of nature are intertwined, so the knowledge gained won’t be limited to birds. The impact on your kids could also be that, from being exposed to nature, they won’t be easily impressed by materialistic goods. If you’re a homeschooler, you could also integrate birdwatching into nature walks, make creating a safe habitat for birds a project, etc.
  2. You get yourself outdoors. Have you ever heard of Nature-Deficit Disorder? Child advocacy expert Richard Louv coined the term, which refers to the condition in which human beings, particularly the young, spend less time outdoors, resulting in various behavioral problems. It’s important to get yourself and your family outdoors. If you’re kind of a homebody, you can start with your backyard, gradually move on to the park, and then move on to easy nature hikes. Perhaps you can venture farther and attempt something even more outdoorsy from there. You get to enjoy the fresh air, soak up the recommended daily dosage of Vitamin D, and have an adventure.
  3. You get some great exercise – So engrossed in watching birds, you won’t notice that you’re walking miles at a time. This gives you a solid cardio workout. You also build up the strength of your upper arms, having to lug around spotting scopes as well as lift binoculars and hold them steadily.
  4. You effectively develop skills necessary to slow living. You learn to be more patient since birdwatching is not an exercise in instant gratification. Sometimes you have to wait hours (or years) to spot the bird you want to see. Besides that, birdwatching can also be a meditative activity and provide you with plenty of opportunity for contemplation and introspection.
  5. You hone quick reflexes and mental alertness at the same time that you develop patience. Birds won’t stop and pose for you while you scramble for your binoculars and focus them accordingly. You also need to be fast at spotting clues of a bird’s presence and identifying its kind based on the features you saw, no matter how fleetingly.
  6. You become a member of a special community. By becoming a birdwatcher, not only do you gain the physical and mental benefits of the activity, you also boost your social health. It’s a great way to meet kindred spirits, both offline and online.

Do you love birdwatching? Do you find it interesting and see yourself taking it up? Or do you think it’s, well, for the birds? Let us know your thoughts on this and tell us which birds you frequently see in your neighborhood.

*This post has affiliate links.

Pluto Day – Remembering the Ninth Planet

pluto

Remember when they messed with the universe as we knew it and said Pluto wasn’t a planet? Did your innards violently recoil at the suggestion and make you want to take to the streets and instigate a mutiny against the responsible governing body? In this case, it was the IAU (International Astronomical Union).

I didn’t understand it then, but that didn’t stop me from having a strong opinion. And I was having none of it. I couldn’t accept what they did to Pluto. I’d never given much thought to the planet prior to that announcement, but I suddenly found myself a staunch champion of the planet – just one of many, as it turned out. Other people were also rising up in arms against the injustice done to the ninth planet. Yes, we astronomy non-experts weren’t going to take the experts’ word for it.

Thanks to the very fun and catchy “Dwarf Planet Nothin’” (the video of which can no longer be found on YouTube, but you can still listen to the song here), I found out what was going on. I also learned how to pronounce Kuiper.

Basically, they decided to have a set criteria for planet status qualification in the Solar System:

  • Must orbit around the Sun.
  • Must be big enough to be rounded by its own gravity.
  • Must have cleared is local neighborhood of other large objects.

Apparently, Pluto failed to meet the last requirement since it’s surrounded by other icy Kuiper Belt bodies.

But the fight continued and people who didn’t want to deal with changes in the Solar System they learned in school pushed for Pluto’s reinstatement as a planet. In 2015, word on the street was that it was about to happen. I don’t know what that was about since I couldn’t find anything official classifying Pluto as anything other than a dwarf planet.

People continue to be torn and confused. Officially, Pluto has dwarf planet status, a clear demotion from being Planet No.9, but many scientists are tirelessly working to prove that it deserves to be considered a planet once again. Hopefully, NASA’s interplanetary space probe New Horizons (which has some of Clyde Tombaugh’s ashes, btw) will be able to discover something in aid of this.

Whatever the experts say, Pluto will always be a real planet to me. I’m just waiting for the corroborating evidence, so… Happy Pluto Day, everyone!

Easy, Fun, and Cute Art Projects Your Kids Can Do for Valentine’s Day

Do you observe Valentine’s Day in your family? I keep on saying that we don’t but I always seem to have Valentine-related activities for the kids to work on when the day comes around. I also make sure to give a little something, usually just candy and a homemade card, so I don’t really understand why I insist we don’t. Maybe it’s because my dad taught us not to and because, where it should normally count, we really don’t. My husband and I like to mouth off about presents and dates, but we don’t officially do anything. It’s just something that we agreed not to do.

Arguably, he did buy me mulberry and strawberry seedlings and a new saucepan, so there’s that. It’s not quite roses and chocolates, but if I had to choose my present, I’d choose live plants and something I can use a lot over the traditional flowers and sweets (although sweets will ALWAYS be eagerly received with wide open arms). I’d told him before not to get me bought cut flowers because I feel bad about throwing them away when they’re all wilted and dried. I could store them, but I already have more than a decade worth of dried bouquets turned into potpourri in our small home.

Besides jesting about presents and dates, we don’t greet each other “Happy Valentine’s Day” or treat the day any differently.

On that note, though, I’d also made it my mission to celebrate each day with my kids and find special things to do daily. If we observe silly “holidays” like Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day, then why not Valentine’s, right? It’s just for fun, so for homeschool, I naturally have to include arts and crafts activities that involve hearts. Lots of them.

I have three kids who are quite far apart in age: 10, 5, and 2. I could think of something that they could all work on together, but I can appreciate that my eldest would prefer the freedom of working on a project all by herself. She wouldn’t have to sacrifice quality to indulge her brothers. And she can use all kinds of materials without having to worry about somebody getting hurt or something getting swallowed.

For my two-year-old, here’s what we did. His contribution includes rubbing the glue stick inside the heart and sticking the pieces of construction paper onto the heart. I guided his hand through most of that, plus the writing of his name.

Sawyer's Valentine Artwork

With my five-year-old, he cut some, but mostly glued. We traced his hand for the trunk, btw. Cameron's Valentine Tree

My ten-year-old did all this. I just came up with the suggestion. 🙂

Marguerite's Stuffed Felt Hearts

This one isn’t really a homeschool project, but it’s still pretty crafty, so I’ll include it. I just made pillow boxes using cardstock, and then put inside some chocolates their grandmother sent over from Switzerland. I just winged it with the pattern, but you can easily find printable templates online.

Pillow Boxes with Candy

Did you get crafty this Valentine’s? What did you make? How did you celebrate? Share in the comments.

You Might Be A Kindred Spirit To Anne Shirley If…

Did you grow up reading the Anne of Green Gables books? Did you become obsessed with Anne Shirley and wish to be her best friend? Did you feel as though you had many similarities with her? Were you convinced that she would have recognized you for a kindred spirit if she had met you? You might be right if…

1. You can never call a body of water just by its name (lake = shining waters). You use a poetic turn of phrase for everything because that just makes it more interesting or more properly conveys just how interesting whatever it may be is.
2. You love big words and feel joy and rightness in using them. You’ve felt others’ scorn toward this propensity of yours, but that’s how you enjoy language, so they can just like it or lump it.
3. You’re forever in despair over your hair. Anne may have lamented hers its color, but you could complain over any number of other features. Try texture, density, and shape (somebody must hate her coarse, frizzy, MUTANT hair). Because you can’t stand your hair, you might have tried to alter it to disastrous results (not quite green hair, but the outcome is still highly unpleasant).
4. You read books like they’re going out of style. They’re your most cherished material possessions. You’ve failed to do important tasks because you just couldn’t put a book down.
5. You write novel-length letters. You probably spend a small fortune on postage stamps. Some people may have delayed reading your letter because it required too much commitment.
6. You daydream like your life depends on it. You believe indulging in fancies is enriching to the soul – totally not a waste of time.
7. You speak and write with a lot of asides. You consistently go off on a tangent, but piously returns to the original point.
8. You have a genius for getting into trouble. Good ideas tend to turn traitor on you, but that doesn’t stop you from jumping in with both feet the next time you get another.
9. You don’t hide your passion for unpopular interests, even if you’re teased for it. Even if you get to be known as the girl who namedrops characters from the Anne of Green Gables series as though they were her peeps and quotes lines from the books ad nauseam. In modern times, the term “dork” may have been employed.
10. You wonder about the most prosaic things and have been told on more than one occasion that nobody gives a flying fig.
11. And finally, you keep going on and on about your kindred spirits and appreciate the heck out of people you’ve discerned to belong to the race that knows Joseph because as Captain Jim pointed out, they’re the salt of the earth. Meeting a kindred soul is like hitting the mother lode. It’s a relief and a delight to find somebody who gets you. Thankfully, as you grow up, you learn that “Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.

Is this true for you? Do you feel heartened to learn that so many people share your love of Anne Shirley? Can you be a candidate to be Anne Shirley’s bosom friend? And do you have anything to add to the list? Comment your thoughts below.

If you haven’t read the books yet or don’t have your own copy, you can buy a Kindle version of the eight-book collection for just $0.99 (about Php50). There’s nothing like cozying up with a traditional book and flipping through paper pages, but if the stories are what you’re after, the ebooks work just fine. And, yes, the following is an affiliate link.

How You Get More from Doodling

Zentangle Our Lemonade Days

I don’t know how things work in classrooms now with all the technology available. Do students still use notebooks or do they just record the lecture in their mobile devices? Hmm, I wouldn’t like that at all. When I was teaching, I didn’t allow my students to have their phones, ipods, or laptops out, except for very few and select instances. Gadgets weren’t as rampantly used back then, so I didn’t want some students to have an unfair advantage over the others by using one.

Since I homeschool my kids, they can’t clue me in either on what learning in a traditional classroom is like these days. In our eclectic homeschool setup, my daughter doesn’t have to take down notes. She does copywork, but she doesn’t note down important details when I’m explaining things to her. I think that’s a pity because I’ve found note-taking to be a very beneficial skill.

I was great at taking down notes. Classmates were forever borrowing mine to photocopy back in the day. They were practically written in shorthand, but were mostly legible, so the borrowers patiently put up with my penmanship.

I do have a nice cursive, if I do say so myself, but it’s hard to maintain it when you’re trying to catch and jot down all the salient points that the teacher is saying.

My chicken scratch wasn’t the only thing they had to deal with when using copies of my notes. I doodled in between actual note-taking, so they were treated to a lot of swirls, flowers, butterflies, paisley patterns, and Spencerian script practice lettering along the margin.

Doodling was frowned upon in my school. Notebooks were to stay neat. Also, I suppose if you were supposed to be listening to the teacher and taking down notes, but were doodling instead, it would seem as though you were being inattentive.

Doodling advocate Sunni Brown, however, proposes that the activity is more than just mindless drawing. She says it’s deep-thinking in disguise and is an effective problem-solving tool. There is also research that indicates that doodling actually aids memory retention.

Now, I may not have an eidetic memory, but I was the kind of student who remembered what she learned in class. If I had been paying attention, I would have been taking notes and doodling. Even if I never got around to reviewing my notes, I would still do well in tests.

Outside the classroom, doodling often helped me pass the time. I don’t have any remarkable drawing skills, but I have to admit liking the results of my doodling, which tended to look psychedelic. I had the habit of starting from a simple shape and then building up from that. You could tell that I was partial to swirls, polka dots, and paisleys. That was my natural doodling style. It was certainly a surprise to me to learn that there was a name for it: Zentangle®.

Described to be a purposeful and structured style of drawing similar to doodling, Zentangle® supposedly supports a mindful state of being (as opposed to mindless doodling). It is said to be a meditative art form that promotes relaxation and stress-reduction as well as improves mood and self-control.

Like my doodles, Zentangle® consists of repetitive patterns of straight lines, dots, curves, and shading. The Zentangler is allowed to be as creative and free-form in her use of these patterns.

I looked at examples of Zentangle® images and, wow, there are really gifted Zentanglers out there. A lot of the pieces I’ve seen are really intricate. Some people are even selling their creations.

My own doodles are pretty simple, and like I said, I’m not really particularly gifted when it comes to drawing, but I can come up with a pretty picture from putting together patterns of simple swirls, dots, and lines – nothing that anybody would want to pay money for, but the satisfaction derived from the creation process and the pleasure from the result make pretty good compensation as well.

I don’t know about traditional schools, but doodling totally passes as an art lesson in our home school. I introduced the concept of Zentangle® to my daughter and now she enjoys putting together easy patterns, usually inside alphabet letters. I’m grateful that she finds it engaging and that I can include it in my list of suggestions for replying to declarations of boredom. Also, she likes to include drawings and small craft projects in her letters to her pen pals, so for the next batch of mail, she’ll be enclosing their names done in Zentangle®.

Zentangle Midge

I think most people would cotton to the activity. It is simple, creative, and soothing. If your feelings are in some kind of turmoil, you might want to try some aimless zentangling and see if you’ll calm down. You can check out this Pinterest board for some easy patterns to get you started.

There’s obviously more to doodling than meets the eye. Are you a chronic and pathological doodler like me? What’s your doodling style? Have you tried zentangling before? Did you find it enjoyable? Go ahead and share photos of your efforts.

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