Saturday, January 28, 2012

Culture Day Save

I realize: sometimes I really am a mommy blogger. And Chickenblog is my compulsive collection of scrapbook memories, highlights of my children's journeys. And. It's kind of cool. I mean really cool. Because if there is one thing I've learned about these journeys it's that they move very, very fast, and good stuff and key moments can get buried and lost, so it's good to have some notes and pictures to look back on, so you can say, We did that. You went there. She said this. Yeah. This is good.

Maria made a culture box, for a school theme about culture, heritage, and emigration. I love how much initiative she will take for these kind of projects. She gathers her supplies, and dives right in to create her vision.

And may I congratulate myself? I confess: I had ideas, suggestions, tips, obsessive compulsive controlling impulses, and I kept them all to myself. Thank you very much. (Please, nod approvingly, thank you.)

Inside her box she collected things she could share from places she's been, from places her ancestors traveled, from her own local culture, too. Let's see...

Her wool bracelet, that she made at the Atwood Street Festival, in Wisconsin...

Postcards from Spain and Holland...

My own tiny kitchen toys from México, and clay beads...

The chicken toy Aunt Becky brought us from Guadalajara...

The woven hat, handmade, from El Valle....

And the paper craft surfer's car, a woody, from Ruby's Diner...

Alright, so there was a parenting lapse on my part. No biggie. I just completely spaced on the Culture Day Class Party. The end of the semester for Max, and Alex, all the projects, and late nights, was intense... by Friday there were still things to wrap up, support, and I was more than ready for school to give us all a break! Mentally crossing off my accomplishments, and trying to breath, I pulled into Maria's school, when she said, "Mommy, today is culture day, and I need to dress in something from Mexico and bring food to share." As in, right now.

¡Aye, Mamá!

Never give up! Never surrender!

(Walk Maria to class. Confirm with teacher. Party starts at ten. Go back home. Collect Alex's paintings, which were too many to bring earlier, never mind. Get Max. Take Max to school. Take paintings to Alex. Go back home. Meet service person to work on that thing that was broken. Leave to my culture day salvation and buy guacamole and chips. Go to Maria's school with my proud contribution. Two hours. Done!)

So, yes, in my Other Mother Blog I would probably go into great detail about my very obviously store bought contribution sitting on the table next to amazing, amazing! homemade tamales, pupusas, chilaquiles, gnocchi, jamón de España, even Belgian chocolates! Each of the three first grade classes had tables overflowing with foods from Japan, Korea, South Africa, Spain, Italy, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belgium... and more. And the children's desks had all of their adorable and fascinating culture boxes, each unique and dear.

Speaking of dear... oh, dear, I am in love with pupusas, and curtido, the light and crispy slaw you see on top of what looks like a corn tortilla. The corn torilla-like dish is the pupusa and it is from El Salvador. It is filled with something delicious. I love Rosie, Charlotte's mother, the wonderful woman who made these savory delicacies. It is something like a tamale, but lighter, and the lightly dressed cabbage salad gives the whole dish a refreshing finish.

Gee. I sure do love Culture Day!

Maria and I walked from desk to desk admiring all the different boxes her classmates made. Maria's favorite: Emma's box with the African beads for wearing in your hair, and the collection of shells, too. We were not allowed to touch people's treasures, but Emma gave Maria permission to touch the beaded medallion... I loved the look of reverence on Maria's face as she explained how special Emma's things were.

There were about forty-two more stop and go errands to make before the day was through, and at times I wasn't sure how it would all get done, but this was an hour I was very thankful to have shared with Maria.


  1. If you're not a mommy blogger, no one is! You're the best and I love reading about how life really is. It sounds right, it feels right and I really believe it is right. I am going to suggest a culture box to Romy as I think it's a beautiful idea and we have lots to put inside to keep forever.

  2. Thank you, amiga mia.
    Romy would love this project. It's so personal, and easy to do. We saw all kinds of variations and individual touches. While Maria was making hers I kept thinking "do this" or "add those," but I managed to keep quiet! And even realized: maybe I should make my own! Now, I realize CB is like my own culture box, and I keep adding to it, and coloring the box.

    1. Oh yes, what a lovely idea - CB as culture box. It's probably why the idea appeals so much to me too - I still have little boxes of 'treasures' left over from childhood that have stayed with me during my many moves. I shall view my blog as such from now on too. Ax

  3. I think my entire house is a kind of "culture box" as I save things from my childhood, family heirlooms, and souvenirs from travels. Maybe that's the reason I find it so hard to clear out clutter. That gives me a clue... keep only what belongs in a culture box and clear out the things that don't really matter.

  4. Good morning, Judy!
    I'm sure most all of your things do "matter," but these culture boxes are an interesting exercise for pairing it down to the essentials.

    I am in no position to dispense wisdom, because I collect, collect, collect.
    But, one trick I will employ when pressed to let something go: photography!
    If seeing something, looking at it and recalling its specialness, is what makes me happy, then I take a picture or two, and maybe write a description of the significance. An album of pictures is easier to carry around than boxes of stuff.

  5. What a day! What a Life! Primo!
    Photojournaling - you have perfected it. I need to start. I take many pictures outside the house, but rarely inside. hmmmm - food for thought.
    Two springs ago I took a very interesting art workshop, and we made a hanging sort-of-box, that had rolls of vellum with pictures of lives imbedded that could pulled across the box. OK! I'll take a picture of it and post on FB - my blog!
    Tener un gran día!

  6. I am amazed at Maria's instincts in highlighting the different cultures she belongs to. The Ruby's paper car is brilliant--so hard sometimes to see the culture we're embedded in.

    I also like how you said she just gathers her materials and dives in. She's not afraid to start in on an ambitious project because of all the time she spends with the FIRSTers and the other thirty-eleven projects going on at one time in your house. She's so not going to succumb to that Pink Disease you posted about a few months ago!

  7. Yes, I congratulate you on your restraint -- and for raising a girl full of her own ideas! Ah, yes, pupusas. I love those things.


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