Marital Negotiations – Recycled Sundays

heart

With spring comes the sound of wedding bells. The following is a list of hints for young wives-to-be. No, they aren’t all from my marriage. In fact at the moment, my husband cooks more often than I do. This is by popular demand since, “Mommy makes weird stuff like tofu guck and puts vegetables in everything.” If it doesn’t come from a box, apparently it’s not real food.

Smart brides-to-be plan ahead. I don’t mean floral arrangements, matchbook covers or double rings. I’m talking about the things that last a lifetime. Like bathtub rings.

Most men are mythologists. Deep down, they believe house god’s come in and do the work if you ignore it long enough. They usually don’t even think of the dirt buildup and so I have used the nag by note method. Other wives use a more direct approach.

One woman I know put the dirty dishes between the sheets on her husband’s side of the bed. I wouldn’t recommend this if you don’t have twin beds. Another woman frisbeed them out the back door into the snow. Certainly not recommended for good China and best when at least 4 inches of snow has fallen.

Because of the hunting instinct, men enjoy setting booby traps. Be prepared to constantly trip over boots in the hallway or clothes on the bedroom floor. It’s always fun to play along by enriching his tracking skills. Kick the clothes under the bed or toss the boots down into the basement. Look bewildered when he asks if you saw anything.

Watch for the “what will our friends think?” mode sabotaging your plans for equality. When you’re expecting visitors, divide up the jobs fairly, do yours, and then disappear. You don’t need the stress of watching him spread the wax 30 minutes before they arrived and he doesn’t need the suggestion to use an old toothbrush on the baseboards.

When the children are clothed by Daddy, ignore little things like shirts on inside out, knee patches behind the knees, and blouses as worn as dresses. If daddy thinks it works and the child is warm and happy, let it be. Who knows? They may set a trend.

Fathers teach such important skills as differentiating between Taco and Tortilla chips, 300 uses for Cheeze Wiz, how to look clean without really washing your face, 47 obscene noises you can make with body parts, and how to turn a sock into a puppet while you’re still wearing it. It never hurts for them to also teach their sons non-gender related skills, such as how to roll undershirts into knotty little balls so that more can fit into the drawer.

Positive reinforcement goes a long way. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to show your husband that you appreciate some recognition as well. Many men never actually realize that people track dirt onto the carpet, make messes in the refrigerator, or smudge the walls. Subtle remarks like, “Don’t the hall walls shine since I spent four hours scrubbing them?” may alert him.

If your husband feels “henpecked and hard done by”, encourage him to run off with a maid. It will serve him right. You and I know in two months, shall be tossing his boots into the street and billing him for it.

Don’t be surprised if your husband develops arrogance about his role. He may remind you that your friends’ husbands don’t do half of what he does. Smile graciously and reply, “That’s why you’re lucky enough to have me, darling.”

Published Sunday, May 17, 1992 in the Chronicle-Journal/Times-News.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Yard Sale – Recycled Sundays

“Ouch! What did I step on?”

“No wonder you can’t shut the closet door! What is all this stuff?”

This is called pre-yard sale conversation.

In spite of my lectures on the value of money, the eternity of plastic, and the bane of clutter, my son collects plastic figures. Somehow we escaped G.I. Joe but not Masters of the Universe, superheroes, army ants, wrestlers, Ghostbusters, and now Ninja Turtles.

These are billion-dollar enterprises. Whenever my son gets close to completing the collection, new figures are introduced. He couldn’t live without a mailman who dropped his pants and transformed his belly into a toothy monster mouth. I saw him looking at our letter carrier with interest.

Manufacturers understand boys. Every year or two they create a new series to whet the collector’s flagging appetite. The stores are now stocked with Dick Tracy figures and, I’ll bet, Gremlins II are not far off. How about a politician series? Each figure would transform into a useless lump.

The bizarre thing is, these toys all have the same questionable play value. Good guys versus bad guy. They only vary in powers or abilities. Does it matter whether the figure can spit, spin body parts or mutilate?

When crossing my son’s room was like entering the Temple of Doom, I offered half the money from any toys sold. Suddenly that Dusty He-man didn’t seem so precious. It was easy to take the clutter induced, “Let’s have a yard sale.”

Conversations in closets, sheds and the basement went like this:

“Whose is this?” (Demanding)

“Mine.” (Hesitant)

“When’s the last time you used it?” (Disgusted)

“Not very long ago.” (Muttered)

“It’s filthy and has a spider’s web!” Stronger disgust.

“It’s still good.” (Quick)

“Great. Then someone will buy it.” (Insistent)

“But, I like it!” (Voice pitched higher)

“Then you’ll have fond memories.” (Decisive)

“Whose is this?”

When I finished the slag pile of saleable items, we made signs. My daughter warned us that her teacher said permanent markers cause brain cells to pop.

“Open a window,” I suggested.

“Pop. Pop. Pop,” muttered my son.

“We’d better do these outside,” I sighed. None of us could afford too much popping.

The usual types came to the yard sale.

Happy Bargainers laughed and socialized. Sometimes they offered less but never cheated.

The Lonely Scavengers had tentative voices and hesitated over each item. Once I showed an interest, they talked about their grandchildren (whose parents were probably tripping over plastic figures already).

The Serious Collectors looked for specific items, china or teaspoons, to complete their sets.

The Weasels got as much as they could for as little as they could any way they could. They didn’t smile and seldom conversed. They took off price tags, moved items into lower-priced boxes and offered a fifth of what was asked. One sent her tiny granddaughter, already wearing the jewellery, up to me with only half the money.

Finally, we packed it in. The leftovers were given to charity and the money was counted and divided. My son was ecstatic. He wanted to go to the mall immediately. There was one plastic ninja turtle villain he just had to buy.

 

Published 1992 in the Chronicle-Journal/Times-news.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

The Gingerbread Man (with a happy ending)

Most children are dismayed when the Gingerbread Man is eaten by the fox even though that’s what we do with cookies. In this version, not only is the Gingerbread Boy saved by the  little old lady who created him, but so are several other new friends he has made on his journey. This is a story of a different kind of family formed by love and compassion with a message of kindness to all.

The story contains repetitive phrases which children will enjoy reciting. The pictures were created using Legos, graphic illustration, and toys.

While you’re there, check out some of my educational and entertaining videos for kids, parents, and teachers. If you enjoy the site, give a video a thumbs up, subscribe, comment, and/or share.

 

Giving Away 3 Paperback copies of Action Alphabet

Opens for entries on May 15, 2017

 Availability: 3 copies available

Giveaway dates: May 15 – May 23, 2017

PARENTS: This book is written for kids who don’t like to sit still and just listen. It employs multiple learning styles. Kids will touch, move, repeat, play-act, and observe using rhythm and rhyme. It can be read as prose or chanted to the rhythm of the military cadence of “I Don’t Know But I’ve Been Told.” Don’t be surprised if you hear your children chanting their favorite parts independently. KEEP IT FUN AND ACTIVE and they will come back for more.

TEACHERS: Project this onto your smart board and use it for your exercise break! It makes a great energizer. Learning while moving is a double-header. Children of a variety of backgrounds and abilities are included.

Video with sample pages and examples of the chant/song https://youtu.be/LiaYDy3f1Sw

Come On, Let’s Play.

 

Whenever it is too cold or wet to go outside, children inevitably spend more time in front of screens. They don’t have to be passive watchers. Turn on my new video, Come On, Let’s Play and encourage them to participate. Make sure they have room to MOVE. Using their imagination and their bodies, they will stretch, hop, thump, swing, twirl, search, slide, point, read, stir, roll a ball, and splash. They will also enjoy rapping along.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

 

Never Trust a Charming Man – Recycled Sundays

The power to make someone else feel that both of you are “wonderful” is the Thinking Man’s Dictionary’s definition of charm. It takes talent to accomplish mutual wonderfulness without high fat, sodium, condoms, or financial risk. Feeling wonderful is a gratifying thing, in moderation. Unfortunately, gold diggers, salespeople, con artists, pushers, sexual predators, and corporate climbers have used charm to manipulate others to such a degree that many people are now suspicious of charm. A poet once said to me of a warm, supportive writer, “I never trust a charming man, and he is very charming.” Perhaps the level of acceptable charm corresponds to the amount of control involved.

Charm has also developed a bad reputation due to attitudes toward co-dependency. The Thinking Man’s Dictionary also stated, “All charming people have something to conceal, usually their total dependence on the appreciation of others.” Sounds like 99% of entertainers, yet we’d missed the charm of Eddie Murphy’s contagious laugh, Martin Short’s confused grin, and Mel Gibson’s sultry smile should they learn to get along without our admiration.

There was a time when the charms of Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara were emulated. It was shallow and pretentious, but, oh, they had such style. The Gone With The Wind lifestyle did not bring happiness, but at least it brought the occasional heart flutter. Not so with the “in-your-face” attitude of the 90s. Heart flutters today are based on the fight or flight response.

Throughout history there have been those who lacked intangible charm, or sought to strengthen it with other means. Tangible charms have been used for as long as the wink and the compliment. A rabbit’s foot is a charm still used today to bring good luck. Obviously, it wasn’t very lucky for the rabbit or he wouldn’t have been caught in a trap. Lucky pennies are still used, though you’re hard-pressed to find anything for that price. Crystals and gems, considered New Age, have been around since man first dug his first hole with his first sharp stone.

Men, especially athletes, seem to prefer their charms grubby. Apparently the amputated foot of a small, fluffy, vegetarian is not close enough. On the TV show Coach, Luther had all the football players rub his lucky jersey in order to ensure their winning streak. Kelly Gruber refused to clean the grub off his helmet during the 1992 World Cup series for fear washing away the luck.

While many people will admit to using good luck charms on occasion, few admit the opposite. Voodoo dolls and potions are denounced charms used to control others. Miniatures have often been used in the occult as a method of charming someone. It was never acceptable to charm someone into sickness, unless it was love sickness.

Charming someone into nausea became a fashion statement of the late 60s and early 70s. Remember when everyone owned at least one silver or gold charm bracelet? If you think about it, isn’t it strange that women would cart around a pound of precious metal shaped into sports equipment, pets, and buildings that she often saw every day?

Those with gold bracelets selected their expensive charms carefully but those with silver were as insatiable as 12-year-old boys collecting baseball cards. I learned never to comment on the 35 miniatures strung on a woman’s wrist. It was tantamount to asking her life story.

Charm bracelets gave license to stories of poodles who had to be put to sleep, grandchildren who were potty trained early, knitting needles that represented one of her many skills, and hula dancers who invited the owner onto the stage in Hawaii eight years previous. It was as bad as a tour of spoons. Home video seemed exciting by comparison.

These charms have not disappeared. Nowadays, women and men wear one or two on a chain, usually gold, around their necks. They can be a conversation starter without leading into a therapy session. Quality has replaced quantity.

Marion Zimmer Bradley, award-winning writer, wrote a futuristic novel entitled The Shattered Chain. She may have developed the idea from an old charm bracelet. Women were completely subjected to men in her story. What an unusual idea! All females past adolescence wore wrist chains, similar to handcuffs. They were connected by a longer chain that threaded through the woman’s belts, enabling her to work, but not lift her arms over her head or fling them in an outstretched manner. This would make hurling a drink impossible, allowing men to abandon any guise of charm. “Pampered” women had solid gold wrist chains decorated with gold and jewels. Scarlett O’Hara would’ve garrotted herself.

As sick as the idea is, Bradley may have been onto something. Not as a method of subjecting one gender, but as a deterrent and punishment for lawbreakers. Instead of offenders wearing handcuffs, they could be subdued by charm bracelets weighted down with all the symbols of their crimes.

The criminal could be forced to explain the significance of his “guilt charms” to a designated number of citizens. Part of the punishment is in the struggle to get people to listen. This might also negate the interest in the sadistic docu-dramas of murderers and rapists freeing television for better things. In order to complete his sentence, the criminal would have to file the names of the required number of listeners. How would he find people willing to provide the time? I guess he would have to develop some good, old-fashioned charm.

Published Sunday, November 21, 1993 in the Chronicle-Journal/Times-news.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Mixing Primary Colors

Mixing Colors

Follow soon -to-be four years old Kayleigh as she mixes the primary colors to create the secondary colors. How to make secondary colors is reinforced with graphics.
My goal is to make 1-4 videos a month that are both fun and educational for children or  helpful to teachers and parents. If you have a topic you would like me to tackle, please leave me a line.

New Alphabet Book Using Active Learning – Action Alphabet

New Release


PARENTS: This book is written for kids who don’t like to sit still and just listen. It employs multiple learning styles. Kids will touch, move, repeat, play-act, and observe using rhythm and rhyme. It can be read as prose or chanted to the rhythm of the military cadence of “I Don’t Know But I’ve Been Told.” Don’t be surprised if you hear your children chanting their favorite parts independently. KEEP IT FUN AND ACTIVE and they will come back for more.

TEACHERS: Project this onto your smart board and use it for your exercise break! Learning while moving is a double-header. Children of a variety of backgrounds and abilities are included.

Available in print. Ebook soon to follow.

Action Alphabet buy link

Video about book. Has participatory component for kids.  https://youtu.be/LiaYDy3f1Sw

If Greeting Cards Told the Truth About Little Boys. Recycled Sundays.

a-young-latino-boy-playing-on-a-playground

Whenever I browse through the card shop, I’m always impressed by the birth congratulations.

Little boys are portrayed as adventurous charmers. Ahead are years of sweet discovery. Parents can’t wait for all these precious joys to unfold.

The cards are true, of course, but I’d like to see one that prepares a new mommy and daddy for the realities of having a son. Just picture it: a foldout card with a toddler on the cover, both knees out of his pants, black marker on his arms and stitches in his lip. Inside, is the deeper truth about sons.

Baby boys grow so quickly. Before you know it, they’ve mastered the qualities of boyhood. For them, steps are not for climbing. They’re for jumping, launching an attack rolling down laundry baskets with the cat inside and volleying vehicles that fly into forty-five sharp pieces.

Any carpet with a minimum of three square feet is used for wrestling. Dolls are great, especially when boys can rip off heads and stick silly putty on the neck – even better if the eyes come out!

Halls are perfect for playing ball, preferably with an obstacle course of breakable photographs and mirrors.

Chairs are points of reference and not to be seated in for more than a second.

Fried and poached eggs are finger food for little boys, but raw carrot sticks must be eaten with a fork no matter how many loud, clanking stabs it takes.

Hard candy is chomped. Jelly is swished. Drinks are sucked with at least four straws. Dribbles in the bottom of a glass can last an hour.

If a boy sees an older one doing a difficult activity, he would rather cut his eyes out with a spoon than admit he’s too young to do it.

If there are two boys in the same room and they’re both still conscious, they are competing.

If there are two loose objects in a room, boys must test them against each other by banging, gouging and grinding.

Finger snapping is second in coolness only to whistling which trails behind belching.

Boys know, if it was assembled, it can be disassemble but probably not reassembled.

Boys teach us patience, persistence, to live in the moment, and that stuff is only stuff. Best of all, nothing beats a little boy’s hug.

    

Click on the cover for more info or to buy the book.

Published Sunday, July 22, 1990 in the Chronicle-Journal/Times-News.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Now I Know My A B Cs

The focus for May is alphabet books mixed in with other books I have agreed to review. Graeme Base set a new standard when he created Animalia, an amazing seek and find alphabet book. Other authors/artists have interpreted the alphabet book differently. I have already reviewed some interesting takes on this type of book. In A is for Africa, Michael I. Samulak and Sswaga Sendiba created a beautiful blend of two cultures using batik illustration and African animals. Kellen Hatanaka’s Occupational A B C Work interprets each letter as a potential occupation. I’ve also reviewed Diana Bonder’s A, B, Sea: A Deep Sea Symphony and L M N O Peas by Keith Baker.

It is fascinating to see what people have done with the alphabet. There are location themes: Canadian, Algonquin, and British Columbia. There are silly stories about animals, Bad Kitty and Snappsy the Alligator, that eat everything in sight – in alphabetical order. Some are based on popular interests such as R is for Race: A Stock Car Alphabet or P is for Princess: A Royal Alphabet. Some try to encourage good habits like ABC Doctor and ABC Letters in the Library. Many tie into the curriculum such as the Pioneer Alphabet. Others just try to include as many words as possible beginning with the letter no matter how zany the results Aster Aardvarks Alphabet Adventures and The Alphabet From A to Y with Bonus Letter Z. Some are quirky such as The Little Book of Big Fears. The Three Bears, An Alphabet Book  puts an inventive spin on a classic story. Some are seriously important such as A is for Anaconda: A Rainforest Alphabet. I’m sure you’ll find a new take on the alphabet book.

During this exploration of the alphabet, I will also share some ideas for engaging your child in learning letters. Here’s one game I play with my granddaughter.

Find the Clues

To create atmosphere, provide a child with a small flashlight and a detective style hat. Dim the lights but not too much. Have slips of brightly colored paper, each with a letter from their name, hidden around the room or house. As the child finds the “clues”, he or she arranges the letters in order on a table. If they absolutely love this game, try the whole alphabet.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages