Monday, June 10, 2013

Steppin' into Summer

Summer has officially begun and, oh, have we celebrated!

On the last day of first grade, I sneaked off to the store and purchased a bag of water balloons, which I filled up while Aidyn and his pals were playing outside. I launched one from our patio, and the kids went wild.

I opened the door and asked, "Is it raining water balloons or something?" and laughed, bringing out two laundry baskets full of colorful water bombs.

The kids separated into teams of three and battled 'til they were drenched.

On the whole, they had a blast, but Aidyn got a bit upset when he was struck on the back with a water balloon. That's the point of the game, dude! : )

I randomly put paint into a Ziplock bag and taped it to the table, waiting for Aidyn to discover it. When he did, he had fun moving, squishing, and mixing the paint without his hands (or my table!) getting messy.

I took Aidyn and his upstairs neighbor-friend to a local library program where Ravioli the Clown was doing magic tricks.

Fire coming out one of his books about dragons...

Ravioli handing out candy to each child individually.

We have also spent many days swimming (though I'm usually in the water and, therefore, not taking pictures). Aidyn has relearned to swim at the level he was at last summer, and so far this summer has ditched the swimming vest for two arm floaties, learned to hold his breath underwater, and learned to "dive" with his goggles and see underwater. Most days his friends are at the pool, too, and they all play and splash together.

On another day, Aidyn and two of his friends came in to paint. We just got a book from the library about how to paint animals using your hands. 

We made peacocks, like the one in the center, but alas, no pictures because my hands were a blue and green mess.

We're having fun this summer, and this is just the start! 

What are you doing this summer?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Well-Educated Mind: Don Quixote

Blame my generation, but Don Quixote reminds me of Daffy Duck, in knight's armor, with an inflated egocentric imagination. Porky Pig could very well be Sancho Panza, riding a mule and doting on DQ.

I am currently on chapter 19, and DQ has fought windmills he believed were giants, struck unsuspecting carriers with his lance, promises a kingdom to his squire Sancho, charged a group of 20 men when his lanky old horse tries to get frisky with their mares, mistaken a less-than-attractive wench for a beautiful goddess (nevermind her stale fish breath), attacked two groups of sheep he thinks are armies, and vomited all over Sancho's face when poor Sancho checks his mouth for missing molars. 

Oh, DQ, what is wrong with you?

Despite this being a hilarious and engaging read, I can't help but feel duped as a reader. Don Quixote behaves this way, it has us believe, because he read too many books. But I suppose deeper in his psyche he has been unsatisfied with reality. Why else do people make up elaborate stories and adventures to surround themselves?

What I am left wondering is:

  • Why are some people just playing along with his crazy antics?
  • Why does Sancho believe him at times, especially about his island-kingdom, while other times he thinks he's loony, like when he charges at the sheep?
  • Why doesn't Sancho confront him on his fantasies or, better yet, go back to his wife and children?
  • Is Don Quixote truly mad or is he fantasizing to the extreme?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Well-Educated Mind: Cracking Open Don Quixote

It's funny how a particular theme finds itself to you through different facets.

I'm not always proud of my taste in movies, but this last week I rewatched an old fave, Career Opportunities, starring Jennifer Connelly and Frank Whaley.

Film poster

The movie is about Jim Dodge, the "cool guy" in town, who at only 15, invented the artificial cow heart and works closely with the FBI. Only none of these things are true, except his name. Jim creates his own reality, and the townspeople play along but call him the "town liar" behind his back. But he's likeable and funny despite him being full of shit.

Back up 400 years and Miguel de Cervantes has brought to life Don Quixote, a likeable and funny man who is also full of shit.

Having read mounds of adventure novels, he dreams of becoming a knight-errant to relive the heroism he has only read about. After renaming himself, his bony old horse, and devoting himself to a lady he barely knows, he rides off to pursue his adventure.

“Don Quixote and Sancho Panza” by Honore Daumier (1850) via Wikipedia

I also watched a documentary last night called The Woman Who Wasn't There about Tania Head, the woman who completely fabricated a story about surviving the 9/11 attacks, mourned a husband she didn't actually know, and headed The World Trade Center Survivors' Network, even though (as it came out later)  she hadn't even been to America until 2003.

This woman, like Don Quixote, invented an entire fantasy around her, not for money, but for fame. 

This theme of people inventing crazy realities is circling around me, it seems, which has led to this silly comparison:

Compare and Contrast of Jim Dodge and Don Quixote, so far as the first four chapters of DQ:


1. Both dream up wild fantasies to make their lives more interesting.
2. Both beef up their rides (Quixote names a beat-up and skinny horse Rocinante; Jim rents a limo to take him to a night custodial job at Target)
3. Both envision themselves the fancy of beautiful women (Quixote/Dulcinea; Jim/Josie)
4. People around them know they are full of shit.
5. Both orate on their greatness.
6. Both wear hand-me-downs. (Quixote his great-great grandfather's rusty and moldy armor; Jim wears Darnell's red coveralls)


1. Jim "lets" Josie keep her name; Don Quixote renames Aldonza a more "harmonious and significant" name, Dulcinea.
2. Quixote actually goes adventuring, even if he still imagines inns to be castles and whores to be virgins. Jim works the night shift at Target (adventure comes to him later).
3. Jim is young, 21, and Quixote is older, 50.
4. Quixote doesn't seem to really know he's full of shit; Jim knows but gets caught up in the fantasy.

Don Quixote is turning out to be a hilarious book, despite my initial fear of its length and age, and I'm excited to read through more of it.