Tag Archives: children

Photo Challenge: Outdoors

When I read outdoors was the Jansen Photo Challenge this week, I thought of grand, panoramic vistas and the delicate details of wildflowers.  But in the back of my head I heard Mom’s voice, “Go play outside.”   My childhood home had a swing set in the backyard and an entire school playground across the street.  With camera in hand, I headed to a local playground this morning.

The simple, straight lines of the monkey bars of yesteryear have been replaced with a curved span of triangles.

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Monkey Bars.  Photo: TLClark, 7/4/19.

The long metal slides of my childhood are long gone.  Tubes and curly-queues are more the norm today.

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Slides.  Photo: TLClark, 7/4/19.

The merry-go-rounds of my youth were definitely not this safe!  Nor did they need dad to make them go round.  We’d all push, running as fast we could before jumping on.  (Thanks to this dad and son for allowing my to take a few pictures.)

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Round and Round We Go.  Photo: TLClark, 7/4/19.

Of all the playground equipment, swing sets have changed the least over the years.

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Receding Swings.  Photo: TLClark, 7/4/19.

It’s no longer hard ground or gravel below the swings; spongy mats making falling off a bit less painful.

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Single File Swings.  Photo: TLClark, 7/4/19.

As far as I could see, there are no teeter-totters on this playground.  Have they disappeared completely?

Hoping you get to go outdoors today!

Children: The Ring of Life

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I noticed the pool before I really saw the figures as I walked around the campus of Iowa State University this morning.  Real children playing tend to capture my attention – especially  when I have no where else I have to be at the moment.  These kids caught in stone deserved a closer look.

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The words on the rim of the pool are from a poem by James Whitcomb Riley.

The Hired Man’s Faith in Children
by James Whitcomb Riley

I believe all children’s good,
Ef they’re only understood,
Even bad ones, ‘pears to me,
‘S jes’ as good as they kin be!

Of course they are “as good as they kin be!”  These children are playing with a water lily and a turtle; there are a couple of frogs behind them.

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Titled “The Marriage Ring” and also known as “The Ring of Life,” the original sculpture was done by Christian Petersen (Danish-American, 1885-1961) during his tenure as professor and artist-in-residence at ISU.   Because of vandalism, the sculpture was recast in reinforced concrete in the early 1990s.

“The circular basin of the pool represents a wedding ring and the valuable gems of the ring are symbolized by the three children, which Petersen considered the jewels of a marriage.”

– Iowa State University, University Museums, http://umsm003.its.iastate.edu/view/objects/asitem/326/542/title-asc?t:state:flow=86c383ec-25f2-47ba-b6ff-8609eb50a7c3

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As is often the case, the pastor/teacher in me was reminded of a few words of scripture.

“Allow the children to come to me,” Jesus said. “Don’t forbid them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these children.”  Then he blessed the children.  – Matthew 19:14-15a, CEB

Whether with a child, a friend or on your own, may you have time to play today.

Birthday Book

As soon as I read about it in November, I knew I wanted it.

I suggested it as a Christmas gift.  But the book wasn’t officially available until December.

So I ordered A Velocity of  Being: Letters to a Young Reader edited by Maria Popova and Claudia Bedrick for my birthday.  It arrived Friday – along with four other books in three packages.

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Birthday Books 2019.   To share with my beloved.  Photo: TLClark.

I’m the sort of person who likes books about books.  A Velocity of Being is not quite that.  It’s better:  letters about reading from authors and artists, musicians and scientists, actors and others.  Each was asked to “write a short letter to the young readers of today and tomorrow about how reading sculpted their character and their destiny.” (Maria Popova, “Introduction,” A Velocity of Being). 

As if that were not enough, every letter is accompanied by a work of art created in response to that particular message.  The works by illustrators, graphic designers and other artists are exquisite, adding a rich layer of interpretation to the letter.

Just a few examples:

  1. In the first letter Jacqueline Woodson writes of reading to her young son and impulsively kissing “the top of my son’s mohawked head.” (p. 16)  Lara Hawthorne captures the moment beautifully.
  2. Leonard Marcus encourages us to pack books carefully when moving. “Not many things in life can be counted as ‘permanent possessions.’  But a few things can, and our favorite books are among them.” (p. 158)  Julia Rothman’s illustration shows the chaos of boxes being packed to move with one carefully marked “PERMANENT POSSESSIONS.”
  3. “The world itself is all beautiful” Andrew Solomon writes, “but sometimes it can be hard to see that, and books let you understand moments of beauty you might otherwise miss.” (p. 100) He writes about loneliness, justice, kindness, sadness, happiness and more, two sentences at a time.  Catarina Sobral used bright, bold, primary colors to portray a child whose world is upended by reading a book.

I haven’t read every letter – yet.  Nor have I spent time musing over every illustration – yet.  A Velocity of Being will take some time to absorb and to enjoy – one letter, one picture at a time.

Read about Maria Popova’s creative vision for the book and see some of the many exquisite illustrations by visiting her blog:  A Velocity of Being: Illustrated Letters to Children about Why We Read.

“The Wonderer” (4th stanza: Brain)

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This is the fourth of a series of posts in response to the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert William Service.  Read the whole poem by clicking hereThe first stanza is in my first post found here; the second is here and the third is here.

Now, the fourth stanza of the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert Service:

Then oh! but how can I explain
The wondrous wonder of my Brain?
That marvelous machine that brings
All consciousness of wonderings;
That lets me from myself leap out
And watch my body walk about;
It’s hopeless – all my words are vain
To tell the wonder of my Brain.

A few observations about how the brain operates.  There is the “Eureka!” sort of moment; a realization of discovery.  There is the “Wow!” of wonder, of being taken aback at how another is thinking.  There is the pondering, the imagining of what might be.

EUREKA!  As a brand spanking new Computer Programmer in the “real world” in 1987 I was amazed at how my brain worked.  Computer coursework in college had not taught me exactly what I needed to know.  But it had taught me how to think to learn what I did need to know for using particular programming languages in a specific computing environment.  I marveled at how my brain made connections.

WOW!  My oldest nephew was about 4 years old when I pulled out the book God’s Paintbrush by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso.  Upon hearing the title, B responded in a matter-of-fact tone, “It must be really big.”  It took me a moment to realize that God, who is pretty big to a preschooler, would have a really big paintbrush.

IMAGINE.  Ponder.  Contemplate.  Wonder.  About a creative endeavor.  About a career move.  About the words of a poem, the lyrics of a song, the phrases in a text.  About a relationship.  About God.

Holy God … assure us again that ear has not heard, nor eye seen, nor human imagination envisioned, what you have prepared for those you love you.   – From Book of Worship, United Church of Christ.

God has prepared things for those who love God that no eye has seen, or ear has heard, or that haven’t crossed the mind of any human being.  – 1 Corinthians 2:9b CEB

 

“The Wonderer” (3rd stanza)

This is the third of a series of posts in response to the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert William Service.  Read the whole poem by clicking hereThe first stanza is in my first post found here; the second is here.

Now, the third stanza of the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert Service:

What of the wonder of my Heart,
That plays so faithfully its part?
I hear it running sound and sweet;
It does not seem to miss a beat;
Between the cradle and the grave
It never falters, stanch and brave.
Alas! I wish I had the art
To tell the wonder of my Heart.

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Hearts at Faith United Church of Christ, February 2013. Photo: TLClark

The wonder of my Heart.  And your heart, too, for that matter.  Working unceasingly.  Beating dozens and dozens of time per minute, every minute of every hour of every day.  Moving blood – nutrients for life – throughout our bodies.

The wonder of big-hearted people.  Loving and generous and kind.  Forgiving and welcoming and encouraging.  Remembering all that is good.  Sharing nutrients for life throughout our communities.

The paper hearts pictured were part of the children’s message one Sunday in early February six years ago.  The scripture for the day was the great love chapter:  1 Corinthians 13.  I invited everyone in the congregation that day – young and old alike – to write something about love on a paper heart.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.  – I Corinthians 13:4-8a  NRSV

img_2601What is written on your heart today?

“The Wonderer” (2nd stanza)

This is the second of what I imagine to be several posts in response to the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert William Service.  You can read the whole poem hereThe first stanza and my first post is here.

Here’s the second stanza:

Then there’s the wonder of my Eyes,
Where hills and houses, seas and skies,
In waves of light converge and pass,
And print themselves as on a glass.
Line, form and color live in me;
I am the Beauty that I see;
Ah! I could write a book of size
About the wonder of my Eyes.

“The wonder of my Eyes.”  Being able to see.

The wonder of my mind’s eye.  Being able to see more than what is seen by the eye.

Looking.  Really seeing.  Appreciating the work of light, the wonder of how light works, the color and design that light reveals. 

And also imagining something more.  Envisioning something, as yet, unseen.

Look around – with your eyes or your mind’s eye.  What do you see?  Possibility?  Hope?  Beauty?  Love?

I have seven nephews and nieces (below).  Each unique and wonderful, seeing the world through their own eyes.  Each with his or her own particular personality and primary interests.  Each growing and learning and exploring the world.  Each beautiful (though the boys may prefer I say handsome).  Each loved – and loving – beyond measure.

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The eyes have it!

Or, in the picture below, his eyes say it.  It’s my favorite selfie with my beloved.  I just see love as he looks at me and, since his cancer diagnosis, I am beyond happy he is still around!

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August 2017. Photo: TLClark.

 

Letter to Santa

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Written after reviewing the Iowa Public Radio’s Children’s Holiday Book Guide (click here to see it)

Dear Santa,

Please? Just one? I’ll let you choose.
One for every child, of whatever chronological age.
A book.

For fun.
For hope.
For growth.

To promote reading.
To encourage diversity.
To increase understanding.

I wanted to ask for one of each for me.
But that seemed greedy.
And I really do want everyone to have at least one.

Please.
Without checking the naughty and nice list.
A book for every child, of whatever chronological age.

Thank-you.

Love,
T.

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