Save the Animals

Just like many publicly funded programs, the Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center in Shelby Township is being asked to cut costs. Township leadership says the animals must go to save money; unless the animals are adopted.

Snakes, turtles, spiders, frogs, cockroaches and other species need animal-lovers to give money for their care to stay housed at the Shadbush Nature Center. Adoption costs range and depend upon the animal and the level of care needed to support its health.

In February, my family adopted Slim, a ball python, for our daughter, Issa. She is very interested in learning about snakes. We thought this was the ideal way to encourage further exploration. Slim continues to live at the nature center. Issa can visit any time. During her visits, Issa holds Slim and learns to care for him.

Slim, the ball python, adopted for Issa. This picture was taken in March 2012. He has grown considerably and is a very people-friendly python. Photo Credit: Tina Richmond

The Shadbush Nature Center offers ongoing, low-cost, hands-on educational programs for people of all ages throughout the year. Young people benefit especially from the summer camps, evening nature talks and opportunities to see/handle animals in a safe environment. Without the animals, the nature center would be at a loss to continue what is does so well for our community.

To learn more about adopting an animal at the Shadbush Nature center, call 586-323-2478.

Twilight Hum

Two busy bodies finally lay in peaceful slumber. Another day of learning, playing with friends and testing boundaries has concluded.

A view from my back patio brings clarity and wonder. Those dusky blues and purples introduce an infinity beyond my comprehension.

In the distance is the hum of busy people still riding among the hustle of life. Like twilight it transitions to primitive beats from frogs, crickets, birds, bats and other nighttime creatures.

The Carolans Irish Cream in my coffee tops off my start toward the end. Darkness and stillness of night is eminent. It is time to turn off structured thought and let dreams take over for a spell.

 

About Slim

Did I mention we adopted a ball python for my daughter Issa in February? Her latest obsession is snakes. So, for her 9th birthday, we (my husband and I) made a donation to the Shadbush Nature Center in Shelby Township for the care and feeding of their resident ball python — Slim — for one year. The donation enables Issa participate in caring for Slim when she visits the nature center, which we try to do weekly.

Issa and Slim get some cuddle time.

On Sunday, Issa and I attended an Easter Egg Hunt event at the nature center. At the event, Issa met the Easter Bunny, hunted for eggs, met some live bunnies, and spent some time cuddling her new friend, Slim. I admire Issa’s continued interest in the sciences as well as her commitment to learning all she can about each subject that strikes her fancy. Her interest gives me a second chance to learn what I missed during my school-age years.

What I Learn From My Dad

My dad celebrated his 83rd birthday Monday. At first glance, most take him for being in his late 60s. I believe his youthfulness results from his northern Italian ancestry as well as a lifetime of organic gardening, home cooking, activity, traveling and learning.

In addition to sharing — with me — his enjoyment of sailing the Great Lakes, skiing and staying active, here are some lessons I have learned from him through the years.

1. Don’t sweat the small stuff. When life throws me a curve, I do my best to channel my dad’s calm demeanor. Keeping things in perspective leads to better problem-solving and keeps life from becoming overly complicated.

2. Patience is invaluable. I wish I could claim this attribute. But, alas, I still loose my cool when my children refuse to dress themselves, share or go to bed.

3. Appreciation for good food and drink. Both of my late grandparents were born and raised in Pinerolo, Italy. When they migrated to Highland Park, Mich. their passion for  organic farming and home cooking remained. There is not a chef on this planet who could out cook my grandma anyway.

4. Age is just a number. My dad doesn’t look or behave like a typical 83-year-old man. He travels, volunteers for his local Meals on Wheels charity, creates beautiful wood furniture, and stays informed with a daily read of the Wall Street Journal.

5. Enjoy the view. Much to the chagrin of his passengers on family road trips, my dad is a master at commandeering a car while also viewing scenic mountain vistas. Vivid, bare-knuckle, recalls of traversing switchbacks through the Alps and along Route 1 in California are common.

What I Meant to Write: Yesterday’s Post

I meant to write this post yesterday. But, then I cleaned the house during the morning hours. My five-year-old, son, Riff, was willing to help me make beds, sweep the floor and vacuum. So, how could I not oblige him. I take help when I have it.

Then, morning turned into afternoon. Riff got on the bus for school. I managed to write the title for my post, What I Learned Today. Also, I scanned the Internet looking for some stuff to learn. Did you learn anything, yesterday?  I did.

A woman filed a claim against Starwood Hotels. She was allegedly, sexually assaulted while staying at one of the hotel’s properties in Finland. The commentary following articles about this lawsuit are as interesting as the story itself. I have never been impressed during any of my stays at their hotels.

But, instead of writing, I walked the dog, ate second lunch, read a few pages from John Sallis‘ What You Have Left: The Turner Trilogy on my Kindle, and shared some love with Your Shape on my XBox.

Afternoon turned into evening. Issa and Riff were both home from school now. My duties now involved officiating television time, playing games online, making dinner and getting ready for an evening meeting at church.

For the record, I did not play Angry Bird. The games I played were for educational purposes at this fun and excellent website, http://www.starfall.com. I learned it has reading- and language-skill games to help elementary-age children improve literacy. I was nicely pleased to see Issa spend about 30 minutes playing around here as well.

Then, you know what happened? Afternoon turned into evening; and then evening into night. I came home from my meeting at eight and waited to claim the television from my husband.

While waiting I learned Mitt Romney won the New Hampshire GOP primary, but with only 39.3-percent of the vote. Also, David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is getting positive press. Friends from my blogging and neighborhood networks all say its better than expected. My husband and I have a date night scheduled for Saturday, which may include a movie. I’m trying to decide between this one and Sherlock Holmes.

After claiming the television I watched a couple on-demand episodes of Once Upon a Time, ABC’s new show about fairy-tale characters caught in limbo between reality and fantasy. I re-learned about characters such as Snow White, Prince Charming, and Rumpelstiltskin.

So, what I meant to write yesterday at 9, didn’t happen until now. Stay tuned for today’s post…

Bathroom Science Talk

My daughter, Issa (8), loves science. Currently, her primary topic of interest is space. Dinosaurs, snakes, grasshoppers and weather also rank in the top five slots.

Last week the Detroit Science Center succumbed to the economic woes our entire nation continues to face; and temporarily closed its doors. Here is the impact economic peril is having on young minds in my home.

Before school as Issa brushed her teeth she said…

“I am so sad about the Detroit Science Center closing. Just think about how dark and lonely it must feel without anyone there to watch the shows [in the planetarium].”

I said…

“I am sad it closed, too. I know how much you really enjoyed visiting with Grandma and Papa.”

She said…

“I might have dreams about it closing. I hope Cranbrook stays open.”

I said…

“Me, too. All of these museums need money.”

She said…

Well, the next time the Tooth Fairy visits, I’ll give the Detroit Science Center the money I get for my teeth.

Tears started to form in my eyes. I was speechless. Here, a young lady under the age of 10 appreciates the learning opportunities all of us (i.e. children, adults, teachers, students, residents, visitors, Detroiters, suburbanites, etc.) will miss if institutions such as the Detroit Science Center close temporarily or indefinitely.

Related links:

Detroit Science Center closing — at least for now

Will the Detroit Science Center Close for Good?

365: Revelations – The Journey Continues

April 13 –  Three Recent Revelations

Upon recommendation from a close spirited journey companion, I am reading Raising Your Spirited Child, by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. The description on the front cover says it’s a guide for parents whose children are more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent, and energetic. As I read, I gain a better understanding of my own perceptions, feelings, sensitivities, intensity, and energy; and I gain a better understanding of how to relate more successfully with my children as well as all people. Since beginning my journey, three revelations have become rather clear.

1. Daily organized chaos is preferable to the sedentary lifestyle I followed prior to motherhood. Before children, a majority of my job functions kept me in front of a computer screen or on the telephone in a dull, gray cubicle. In the fall and spring, I broke out of my cube to manage tradeshows in exciting urban centers across the country. Each of these journeys yielded a splendid mix of organized chaos, adventure and achievement, which is closer to my daily experiences with my children. Life with children is filled with the unexpected. I never know where the day is going to take us. While, I offer my children a structured environment, consistent meal and bedtimes, and regular playtime with friends, I know children will be children. Life happens. They are learning as they go; just like we all are.

2. Self-discovery is continuous and exciting. Both of my children have development delays with gross motor, fine motor, language and social skills. Looking back at my elementary school and junior high years, I struggled in a number of these areas, too. While I succeeded academically and in life, I know my early academic years would have been much easier if educators, doctors and health professionals knew then, what they know today. It fascinates me to appreciate all that is being learned about our brains and bodies; and how we can use natural therapies and remedies to live better.

3. Learning releases the inner child. My daughter is inquisitive and curious about many scientific matters. Currently, her fascination is focused on space. She is constantly asking me about the planets, solar system, galaxy, stars and more. Her eagerness to learn inspires me to learn right along with her; and encourages me to look at life unvarnished rather than through the 24/7-politically-centered-lens our global media dictates.

Thoughts About Jobs and Parenting

Last night, my husband and I helped my daughter prepare a show-and-tell presentation for her first grade class. The presentation was about the jobs we have, how these jobs help our community, and the tools we most often use to perform our job functions.

About The Jobs. First, we are parents. Secondly, my husband is also an electrical manufacturing engineer for GM and I am a writer. As parents, we love, teach, nurture, comfort, cook, clean, organize, play, discipline, and help our children explore their world. As a dad, my husband teaches our children how to build model cars and how to launch rockets. He also wakes on Saturdays at 7:00 am to make pancakes and watch movies with them. As a mom, I comfort our children when they’re puking pizza or having nightmares. Also, I host play dates and go on magic quests. At GM, my husband researches and develops advanced technology, parts and processes for passenger cars and trucks. I have written hundreds of new business development proposals as well as copy for marketing materials, which helped small and large business owners gain new clients.

Helping Our Community. As parents, we help our children participate as positive, active, and informed members of our local, state, national and global communities. We do this by encouraging interests, fostering strengths, and practicing what is learned in school. My husband’s contributions at GM help the automaker develop affordable, energy-efficient vehicles to reduce oil dependence and to save the planet. Writing enables me to inform, to advocate, and to share with the goal of helping others.

The Tools. As parents, our tool is a TLC-kit, which is at the ready at ALL times. It contains a phone, calendar, tasty health food, good books, music, toys, a computer, camera, pen, money, car keys, and adventure plans. The tools my husband uses at GM are innovation, a solid work ethic, a love for technology, intelligence, adaptability, eagerness for learning, and top-notch social skills. My writer tools mirror many of those in the TLC-kit; and a brain that does not have an off-switch.