Nature vs Nurture

CaterpillarOk, today’s post is going to be a bit of a rant. My niece was at the local library in Oklahoma yesterday and there was a sign posted in the children’s section. It had a picture of the “Hungry Caterpillar” from the children’s book by Eric Carle. But written on the sign, “I was banned for encouraging obesity”.  

Let that sink in for a bit – banned for encouraging obesity . . . All I can say is WOW! This is wrong on so many levels I don’t even know where to start. Ok, yes I do. The first thing I did when I read this was react, and then share it with the youngest. She is 19 years old now, and a healthy weight. She grew up with this book, had two copies as a child, and still has them. It is one of her favorite childhood memories. She told me one thing the book taught her was “that something ugly can become something beautiful!” My reaction was to say that the book will not make a child obese; being raised by parents who would instill the mentality that they are the same as a caterpillar. Well that is another issue.

Ok, let’s back up and look at this practically. First, for those who do not know the book, it tells the story of a caterpillar’s cycle of life. After hatching he eats his way through first healthy foods, and then some not so healthy foods (which by the way makes him ill), and then a “nice green leaf”. At this point he is no longer hungry, but fat and ready to build his cocoon where he stays for weeks (living off the nutrients he stocked up while eating), and emerges as a butterfly. And how does this relate to real life? A parent will explain nature and how the animal kingdom is different from humans.

How on earth does this encourage obesity? I read once a supposed quote from Albert Einstein –

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

To me that is it in a nutshell. A fish can’t climb a tree, and a human being can’t become a butterfly. Oh they can in a human sort of way. But not an actual butterfly. We teach our children the differences. How, as humans, we have to nurture out bodies in order to make them grow up healthy and strong. That there will be times we overdo it, and pay the price. Just as the caterpillar did by getting sick from eating all the bad food. But you then find what is right for you and in the end you will emerge as the best version of yourself, just as the caterpillar became the butterfly.

Does this make “The Hungry Caterpillar” a book that teaches a child to be obese? On the contrary I think it is the opposite, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) agrees. In 2011 they partnered with The Alliance for a Healthier Generation to use the book to promote helping “families learn about healthy eating habits”. Go to the AAP website to read all about it. Or for a more abbreviated article check out healthychildren.org.

The AAP suggest tips for parents to discuss with their children:

  • Teach your child that apples, pears, plums, strawberries, and oranges are all fruits. Ask them if they can name other fruits.
  • Talk to them about how fruits are good for your body.
  • Talk about how when the caterpillar overeats, he gets a stomachache— so it is important to stop eating when you feel full.

But most importantly parents should be reading with their children. If a small child is left to interpret everything they read themselves, well then there is much more to worry about than being obese. It is back to the title of my post today, nature vs nurture. We as human beings have the ability to vocalize to our children, teach them, and be examples for them. Nurture them to grow up to be healthy and happy, just like we would aspire to ourselves.

My family in 2003

Christmas Eve 2003 – One of many Christmas Eve’s, and many other times.

Last Nights Supermoon Eclipse

Last night was the Supermoon Eclipse. Hubby loves astronomy, and with my delving into my camera again, he thought it would be fun to try and photograph it. He used to love photography when he was young, and had a 35mm film camera back then too.

Hubby spent a lot of time figuring out all the logistics of how we were going to be able to capture the moon. We were fortunate enough to have a pretty good vantage point from the end of our driveway. We were a bit concerned about the clouds, but they turned out to be minimal. He used the Canon T3i that the youngest has been using, with the old EF 75-300mm lens. I had the 6D with the 70-200mm f/4L. I have discovered my flaws in focusing (I really do need to get to the eye doctor as I just hate these glasses), so I ended up using auto focus. I was surprised at how good it really did.

Photographing the sky at night has never been anything too appealing for me. But being able to do it together made it fun. It is so important to have shared interests with your spouse. Although this could get expensive now 😛

Happy ‘National Daughters Day’

This morning I was having my first cup of coffee and catching up on Facebook. I saw a few friends had posted about National Daughters Day (NDD). The first few were 8+ hours old, but they live somewhere else. Then I saw a local person 10 hours ago being thankful she hadn’t missed it. I had never even heard of NDD, so as is my habit I Googled it.

First on the list was National Son’s and Daughter’s Day on August 11. Then a website WhatNationalDayIsIt.com states –

‘National Daughters Day is on the Date Sept. 25, 2015, where it was referenced 5215 times on Twitter’

Does the fact that it was referenced 5215 times on Twitter make it true?

Next happydaughtersday.in gives a bit of a history of the day in India, U.S., and the UK. It states that September 25th is the date in 2015. But the histories seem a bit odd as I have still not heard of this before. Then I saw ask.com on the list. Ahhh, here we will find something . . . well no. In fact to the question “When is National Daughter’s Day?” it only referred to National Son’s and Daughter’s Day on August 11th. Then the real kicker, Hallmark, where all the cards come from, doesn’t list it.

What really got me was a blog post by Rhonda Walker of Alabama Today. She pointed out the same thing I did, but expanded on it. She expressed concern on how people will see posts on Facebook about something like NDD and jump on the bandwagon adding their post. They haven’t heard of the day before, but just because others have done it, so do they. Wow, we now have a NDD –  http://altoday.com/archives/5865-ronda-walker-celebrating-national-daughters-day

Then I read the comments to her post and couldn’t believe people were getting mad at her. Celebrating NDD, or more importantly our daughters, was not the point. The point being something akin to what our parents would say to us as kids, “just because someone jumps off the cliff doesn’t mean you have to.”

Just because someone shares their opinion doesn’t mean you have to attack them. But if you feel the need to, then make sure you have read their words completely.

So, I celebrate my daughters today. May it be National Daughter’s Day, or simply a Thursday. If there is a NDD then I am happy to recognize it. If not, then I am happy to see the smiling faces of the people who are making it a real day. No one is jumping off any cliff here. But it does make you stop and think about checking things out the next time.

To Process or Not

When my youngest and I got out on our rambles with our cameras we are on a quest to learn. She is very adamant that she do everything in camera; not using any post processing. I am proud of her as it is the best way to learn. On the other hand I have been well into processing my photographs for years. I must admit some semblance of guilt at her devotion to leaving her pictures as is, and I don’t.

Before, a jpg straight off the camera

Before, a jpg straight off the camera

After, post-processed in Lightroom

After, post-processed in Lightroom – Above the Hell-Fire Caves, West Wycombe, England

Today I was watching a training video on Lightroom post processing. The man doing the training explained photo processing in a way that made so much sense to me, finally. When you take a photograph you have a vision, a composition in mind. The camera is a tool, and cannot capture the scene in front of you in the same way you will see it. Processing a photograph is bringing out the beauty you saw with your eyes.

Recently we went to Glen Helen. The day was somewhat sunny, but the area seemed so dull. Such a beautiful place, and we could see the beauty with our eyes, but the camera didn’t; couldn’t. I am lucky to be able to use the post processing tricks to make the dull flat picture into what I saw. But in this case, what I knew it was supposed to be.

Before

Before

After

After – Glen Helen, Yellow Springs Ohio

So to process or not to process. There are photographers out there that over-process photos until they look surreal. Sometimes they can look downright strange and distorted, and I don’t mean in a good way. Others who swear by not touching a pixel, to the point of not even cropping. I try not to overdo it. But a friend of mine was looking at my pictures of Iceland and asked me if I had done anything to the sky. I admitted I had, but what a beautiful photograph it made. So I guess in my mind who makes the rules? Who said “you shall not change reality.” That’s silly. If I was painting a picture I could make the scene anyway I want to make it pleasing to the eye. Photography is an art, and how we manipulate the pixels to make something pleasing to the eye is what makes us artists. Kinda cool if you ask me 🙂

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Reykjavik, Iceland

The West Wycombe Caves

_MG_2896-31oxford_xx_MG_2899-34oxford_xxWhile we were in England we spent a wonderful day with the son of my first cousin. He knew we didn’t want to do the ‘touristy’ thing, so had the perfect place to take us. We went to West Wycome to see the Hell-Fire Caves. We went on a Monday, so all the pomp and circumstance of the weekend wasn’t there (i.e. people dressed in costume interacting with the visitors). But because of this there were not very many people there and we could take our time.

The caves were an interesting place, let alone what was above them on the hilltop. In the 1750’s Sir Francis Dashwood came up with an idea to help the local unemployment. The farmers had suffered over the last few years with bad crops and no money. So Sir Francis decided to extend the chalk mining to build a new road between West Wycombe and High Wycombe. The men were paid one shilling a day during the excavation time from 1748-1754._MG_2910-39oxford_xx

It is said that Benjamin Franklin was a good friend of Sir Francis, and spent many a time visiting him and the caves. This is partly confirmed by the scene in wax found in the cave. But also in the writings of Mr. Franklin himself.

Sir Francis loved to form Clubs, and the Knights of St Francis of Wycombe was one, dubbed the “Hell-Fire Club”. It is thought that he had the caves excavated the way they were so that after completion they could use them as a meeting place. There are scenes of such meetings depicted in wax showing club members John Wilkes, Lord Sandwich, Charles Churchill, and a woman wearing a mask. The woman were to be anonymous and wore a badge “Love and Friendship”, and were of a “cheerful, lively disposition to improve the general hilarity”._MG_2926-47oxford_xx

The descendant of Sir Francis 11th Baron le Despencer (2nd Baronet) was Sir Francis Dashwood (11th Baronet). He was the man responsible for the renovation of the caves for tourists to explore. It took many years, numerous challenges, and expense for it to become what it is today. I will leave it here so you can travel there and experience what it is now, and not spoil the adventure.

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_MG_2927-48oxford_xxAbove the caves, at the top of the hill, sits the mausoleum and church. I followed my cousin and youngest as they meandered through the cemetery reading the headstones. They found one from 1700 of a girl just 16 years of age. We also found two together, one died at age 6 and his brother just 3 months later only 9 months old (if I remember the ages correctly), just so sad. But while walking around we felt a sense of peace and roots. Families from many generations back to current day, buried together in this sacred place.

Going on a Ramble

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The sunflower field in 2014

Today the youngest and I decided to drive over to where we took the sunflower pictures last year. The field has been there for a number of years, so we were very much looking forward to having some fun. But as we drove up to the field, they weren’t there. We have no idea why they were not there, but decided to rethink our day and not give up on an adventure.

When my dear friend (the godmother of the youngest) came for my oldest daughter’s wedding I took her to see the changing of the leaves. One place we went to was John Bryan State Park. The youngest had never been there. So we went on another adventure today. I just love doing that with her. We have decided to take one day a week and try to do the same, go on a weekly ramble.

Today’s goal was to capture light. It was a lot of fun, and we both had a wonderful time getting back to nature.

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