Thursday, 19 June 2014


If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
--African proverb

This is the not-quite fairy tale bit. I had many good intentions of writing ahead to give you something to read while we are away traveling,  but sick little Ps, solo parenting, and a hefty work load have won in the contest for my brain space.

But I'll get there, eventually. Thankfully, we are heading to Spain next week to soak up the sun, visit with some great friends, and recharge our batteries. On my return, I would love to talk to you about London, Bristol's Big Green Week and upcoming status as the European Green Capital, and a new essay I'm working on for The Huffington Post about simplicity, sophistication, and sustainability. I'll also post some photos from Mallorca and tell you a little tale about the Balearic Islands.

We'll talk soon. Play on.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

It's big. And blue.

A sailor went to sea, sea, sea,
To see what he could see, see, see,
And all that he could see, see, see,
Was the bottom of the deep blue sea, sea, sea.
--children’s nursery rhyme

My littlest P just celebrated her second birthday. She is obsessed with all things from the sea, so an ocean-themed book was a perfect gift. I chose Julia Donaldson’s Tiddler: The story-telling fish, illustrated by Axel Scheffler. Donaldson is well known in Bristol, especially for The Gruffalo, which is HUGE here in the UK. Tiddler has bright undersea illustrations, fun repetitive rhyming, and a celebration of the power of a story—a really great read.

I think about the ocean a lot. Growing up in Florida, it is an omnipresent part of life: you spend weekends at the beach, you watch hurricanes churn their way across the blue expanse to arrive at a surprise point on the coast, and everyone is saving for a boat. The ocean is in peril, however—acidification, sea level rise, mass extinction—it sounds like the plot to a thriller. 

Children’s wonderment at the big blue can be channeled into care for its future. Do you have any ocean book recommendations?

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Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Writing for The Huffington Post

I've become a contributor at The Huffington Post, and my first essay is about how I managed our transition from the US to the UK (from a peace-of-mind perspective). Please visit the site and follow me over there as well. I would love your comments!

How to Survive an International Move With 3 Small Children

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Hablo Español

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"To have another language is to possess a second soul."

As part of my effort not to take myself too seriously, I am trying to learn to speak better Spanish. Full disclosure: I am not a newbie at this. My husband speaks only Spanish to our little Ps, so I hear the language spoken everyday in our home. However, I have always been, let’s say, reticent about speaking Spanish with him. There was an incident some years ago where there was a bit of poking fun, and I haven’t recovered. I abhor doing things I’m not good at. But I am declaring it “Time to Get Over Yourself” Day, and I am going at this undertaking in earnest.

Now the question is, how? My first step is to speak Spanish to the little Ps. I can dance like a full-on fool in front of them; they can handle my attempts at Spanish speaking. We’ve also instituted “Lunes Latinos,” meaning my husband and I only speak Spanish to each other on Mondays. These are now days that I take notes of all of the things I want to tell him that I can’t formulate in Spanish. I draft emails to send the next day. Cop out? Yes.

I suppose that at some point, I will have to engage in the world in Spanish, because that is the point of this exercise. I want to travel to South America and ask researchers there about the decimation of the rain forest, about the local remedies for teething, about what’s the best seafood to eat at what time of year. I want my resistant-to-Spanish six-year-old to see that I can do it.

Maybe a Spanish holiday is in order?

I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and tackle a project with a sense of play instead of with obligation, rote, or worry about failing. Let’s all fail fabulously or maybe succeed beyond our wildest imaginings. Just play the game.

Is there something you want to try, but are too self-conscious to give it a go?

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Thursday, 5 June 2014

Those Old Stones

“The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn...Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.” 
― T.H. WhiteThe Once and Future King

I find it amazing that there are still mysteries in the world. We have no idea how Neolithic people got the stones of Stonehenge here about 5,000 years ago, or why they did it. One story says that Merlin, the great wizard of Camelot, thought that the area should be a proper burial ground for the great men of Britain, and so he used his magical powers to fly the stones from hundreds of kilometers away to erect a great monument fit for kings.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Mrs. Gloom and Doom

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“All children, except one, grow up.” 
― J.M. BarriePeter Pan

Part of this journey that the little Ps and I are on is about seeing some of the beautiful things of the world. It’s important to me because I fear that many of them may not be around when my children are my age. Climate change is eroding buildings, monuments, seas, and finances.

I’m also trying to capture my children’s imaginations with the trips we take. I take great effort to frame each journey as an adventure, with accompanying tales and bits of interesting history. Most places we visit are exciting, so it’s not much hard work on my part.

But, there is a dark corner of my psyche that forces me to tell my little Ps to take note of these beautiful places, cement them in their memories, because theirs is a fragile beauty. I sometimes think I tell my children too much of the truth. I don’t want to rain on their parade, but I don’t want them to be naïve, either.

So, how do I preserve the magic of youth and foster an attitude of being able to play in the world, while still making them aware that our actions make a difference in the world? One strategy I have is trying to balance the positive and negative. Our actions DO make a difference—sometimes positive and sometimes negative. When talking about climate change, for example, I don’t want to give them unneeded anxiety about the end of the world. I also want them to know that they can be the positive change.

I found a website that I use to highlight some positive and exciting news in nature, science, news, and technology that is designed to appeal to kids. Whenever Mrs. Gloom and Doom takes over parenting in my house, GoGo Planet is a good antidote.

I don’t know if I’m getting the balance right. I don’t know if what I’m trying to teach my little Ps is what they are learning, or if I’m damaging them or making them stronger by trying. But I’m doing my best.

Do any of you struggle with this issue? Do you have any resources or suggestions to offer?

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