homeschooling, homemaking, homesteading...home.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Supersize me

I am starting to feel like such a fogey. So many of my observations these days start with the phrase, "When I was young..." But, really.

A few days ago, I took the kids to Wendy's to redeem some Frosty coupons.

Mmmmm. Frosty.

And, to Wendy's credit, this is a SANE size (the "junior", that is) for a child. So there is that.

However, things got crazy from there. I didn't want to sit there empty-handed, so I ordered a small fountain drink for myself.


SMALL.

No, they did not mishear me...the total rang up exactly as I'd expected.

Now, back in my day--you know, the foggy primordial times of the early 1980s--this 21-oz cup would have held a LARGE portion. The available offerings of my youth were small-medium-large at 12-16-21 oz sizes. When I worked at McDonald's 15 years ago, the sizes were 16-21-32. (This was also when I noticed that they had eliminated the concept of "medium" fries, opting instead for small-large-supersize.) It seems we've gone bigger still, in less than a generation.

I'm a frugal person. I like getting more for my money. But sometimes, and especially in the case of junk food, one needs to ask the question, "What if I want a smaller portion?" Yes, it's nice to have the option of a cheap 21 oz drink if I'm thirsty for 21 oz of beverage. But if I'm only thirsty for 12 oz, my only option is to overbuy and then pitch the unused portion.

Or consume it. Which many of us are mindlessly doing and then wondering at our expanding waistlines. I admit, I've always been not only a hunter of value but also a victim of "eyes bigger than stomach", and much of my extra waistline padding is testament to that. But I'm learning to be mindful not only of the quality of what I put into my body, but the quantity. It helps that I have a child who stops when he is done. It's amazing to see him walk away from unfinished treats because he's had enough. It's so simple, and yet so counter to everything I've spent my life hearing/valuing/doing. I'm learning from him to remember to listen to my body. And my brain. And not just clean my plate because I can, or worse...because I was taught that that's what we do.

Public demand and the power of sales numbers are tough to fight against, though...so I am not holding out hope that someday soon I'll be able to actually order a small "small". Instead, I'm learning to fight against a lifetime of conditioning and allow myself to "waste" it by not finishing more than I need.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Walk the dinosaur

T is into dinosaurs. Eh, he's a six year old boy. I think that an obsessive interest in dinosaurs is practically genetically programmed into them, or it would seem so based on casual observation. So I know it's pretty typical, but I'm tickled/fascinated all the same. Watching how he seeks, absorbs, and synthesizes that information is a reassuring case study in how the autodidactic process works, and illustrates quite vividly how an intense interest about one subject can lead to natural pursuit of knowledge and skills in many areas.

He isn't just a passive receiver of information. Yes, we visit the museum and watch shows (favorites are PBS's Dinosaur Train, a DVD lecture by Dinosaur George and the BBC special on the Allosaurus), play online and handheld games, and read, read, read. What's worth noting is what he does when he's not acquiring new data. He spends much of his time in role-playing make-believe, acting out not only what he's learned but also imagining answers to his own hypotheses. He draws pictures and tells stories in which dinosaurs play a starring role. He has covered every available space on his bedroom wall with posters, printouts, and drawings of his favorite creatures. But by far my favorite artifact is his field journal.

He started this on his own, as a place to store and display data cards printed out from his favorite dino websites.


But it didn't stop there. He started adding this:


Not bad for a boy who goes into paroxysms* of dramatic whining when asked to practice his letters or write anything other than his own dear four-letter name. That's work! That's HARD!

Don't get me wrong...he can't spell Corythosaurus (or Paleobatrachus, whose smiling face currently graces my fridge in Mom's place of honor) on his own. Yet. But he has the patience to sit down--on his own--and copy it out. Because it means something to him. Something that all of the penmanship worksheets in the world never could.


*And isn't that just a great word? LOL