April 30 – Spank Out Day

 Posted on April 30, 2017

Did you know that every professional organization in the U.S. and Canada that is concerned with education and child development has taken a public stance against the practice of spanking?

When I was growing up, I was spanked and even "whipped" with a belt a few times. My dad thought it was necessary and a good thing - although he hated causing us kids pain. My mom put a stop to it, eventually, and I don't think my younger two siblings ever got spanked or whipped. Despite all of society saying that corporal punishment of children was necessary and good, it just seemed wrong to her, in her gut.

Much, much later, deep into his grandparent years, my dad decided that he had been guilty of what he called "child abuse." Based on his reading, he decided that spanking and whipping was child abuse, so he was guilty of child abuse. He sincerely apologized to my siblings and me. Of course we accepted the apology. My dad was a good dad, despite his occasional mistakes.

When I was a young parent, I was confused. I knew *for sure* that whipping was wrong, and rather early on in parenthood, I decided that spanking on the bottom was wrong, but I sometimes hit my children's hands with my own hand. But part of me realized that hitting any part of my kids was...just wrong. No matter what. And, like my dad before me, my thoughts on this topic have changed. I am now certain rather than confused: corporal punishment is not good parenting. I too have apologized to my kids.

Now we have more than just our "guts" and our philosophies to go by. Scientific studies have weighed in, and the evidence tells us that spanking and other forms of corporal punishment are not effective for long-term goals of self-discipline and for good parent-child relationships. 

Here is just one source - there are many to be found.

If you were spanked or whipped or hit as a child (as I was), that doesn't mean that you are damaged goods, and it doesn't excuse you hitting others or any other bad behavior. All parents make mistakes, and we have to take responsibility for our own actions no matter what. Today is a day to raise consciousness about the studies that show us that spanking should be a thing of the past. Today is a day to forgive our parents and ourselves, perhaps, but also to say, "When you know better, you do better."

Also on this date:

(Last Sunday of April)

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April 29 – Shōwa Day in Japan

 Posted on April 29, 2017

Today's Japanese holiday has been renamed twice. 

It is the birthday of Emperor Shōwa - also known as Emperor Hirohito. He was the imperial ruler over Japan during World War II, when Japan was part of the Axis along with Hitler's Nazi German and Mussolini's Italy, and the Axis powers were fighting against the Allies - also known as most of the rest of the world! 

But Hirohito was not prosecuted for war crimes. As a matter of fact, historians disagree with how much responsibility Hirohito had for the decision making that resulted in so much death and destruction for so many.

While Hirohito lived, this holiday was named - naturally enough - "The Emperor's Birthday." After Hirohito died, in 1989, April 29 was celebrated as Greenery Day - because the emperor loved plants. It was a day to go out into, and connect with, nature.

But in 2007, Greenery Day was moved to May 4, and April 29 went back to more directly commemorating Hirohito. It is called Shōwa Day because that is the name for Hirohito in Japan, now that he is gone.

Here are some amazing things about Japan:

Tokyo's a busy, modern, beautiful city.

Even some of the factories are beautiful!

Japan is known for the gorgeous Mt. Fuji...
...and for many lovely temples.

Japan is also known for its many colorful vending machines...

...including unusual vending machines like a robot vending machine, above,
and an egg vending machine, below.

Castles in Japan are beautiful!

And cherry blossom season is amazing!!!

Also on this date:

Eeyore's Birthday Party


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April 28 – Happy Birthday, James Monroe

Posted on April 28, 2017

He was the fifth U.S. President.

He was the second "James" president.

He was the last of the "Virginia dynasty" presidents. Four out of the first five U.S. Presidents were from Virginia. That means that Virginians held the highest office in the land for 32 of the first 36 years of the country's existence (under the U.S. Constitution)!

He was also the last of the Founding Fathers to serve as president. Monroe served in the American Revolutionary War and was a part of the Continental Congress.

Monroe thought that the Constitution gave too much power to the federal government. He was elected president when one of the first political parties, the Federalist Party, was pretty much broken, and he won more than 80% of the electoral vote!

Still, even with that strong a "mandate," Monroe still tried to soothe Federalists with a tour of the country. Apparently the tour was a popular move.

Today we know Monroe for his famous "doctrine," the Monroe Doctrine. This was a very important and influential part of American policy:

It opposed any further European colonialism in North or South America, beginning in 1823.
It clearly stated that, if a European nation tried to gain control of an independent nation in the Americas, the U.S. would view that as an unfriendly move against us, as well as against the nation in question.
It also promised that the U.S. would not meddle in the internal concerns of European nations, and that U.S. wouldn't mess with already-established colonies.

Note that, at the time of the first statement of the Monroe Doctrine, many nations in "Latin America" (Central and South America that had been part of the Portuguese or Spanish Empires) had already broken free of the European powers that once ruled them, and several were about to.

Basically, the Monroe Doctrine said, "Hey, Old World. We in the New World can carry on without your meddling and wars, thank you very much!"

Since the New World had already been overrun by Europeans - and the original inhabitants had been murdered and killed by disease and driven off their ancestral lands and herded into the more unattractive spots of the nations - this doctrine rings a bit weird to indigenous people.

Also, a careful look at the doctrine and the events that followed would show that many Americans wanted the resources and lands of the New World to be THEIR cherry-picking ground, more than they cared about the actual freedoms of self-rule of their Western Hemisphere neighbors.

However, by the time to Franklin D. Roosevelt, the U.S. accepted the Latin American interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine that the U.S. would ALSO not intervene with the independence and internal affairs of the nations of the Americas.

Also on this date: