Friday, September 23, 2011

Games of Time

Or, "I figured it out!"

A friend of mine and I had a conversation the other day about having to make the same long drives over and over.  She was telling me that it's easier for her to stay awake if she has someone to talk to.  I don't have that luxury for my daily commutes.  It's just me.  Entertaining me.

Part of what I do is pay attention to the things around me, make up stories for them to entertain myself, or just make mental notes of changes and see if I can figure out what's going to happen next.

One of my ongoing games is trying to catch up to the shiny rounded metal 18 wheeler with the red word "Dyke" across the mirror like back, that drives my route frequently.  It's always in front of me and traveling fast enough not to catch.  (So far.)  It's wrong of me, but I'll admit that I'm dying to see the driver.  One day.  One day I will know what the driver looks like.  (I like to set little goals.)

Another game I play with myself is noticing the other drivers and vehicles around me.  I love reading people's bumper stickers.  I can't help but wonder, when the bumper is REALLY covered in them, what it's got to be like when they get ready for resale.  Will they find a buyer who goes, "Oh man!  I have GOT to have those bumper stickers!  They are SPOT ON with how I feel about (fill in the blank)!"  Will the current owner scrape them all off before they put it up for sale?  Will it take the paint with it if they do?  Or will the new owner think, "Man, the -first- thing to go are going to be those stupid bumper stickers."

I'm equally fascinated with license plates that are not from Alabama.  I like to make up stories for their owners.  Sometimes, I envision the driver is in the military living at the local base and out to visit a local craft fair.  Sometimes, I pretend that they're here visiting family they haven't seen in a while and it was a wonderful reunion with lots of tears when it was time for them to pack up and head back home.  Sometimes, I smile as I think they might be going on a tour of the United States.  They just checked the only monument to a bug off their list as they head to the world's largest Onion festival.

People and Animals are not immune to my passing fancies.  There is a young Hispanic woman who walks towards oncoming traffic every morning.  She always has a little paper bag in one hand.  I think that she is headed to work on the south side of town and taking her lunch with her.  I make up what she's going to have today. This morning, I decided she was bringing an orange, change for a soda, a granola bar for a quick snack, Doritos and a sandwich.  I pretended that she agonized this morning over the bologna or the the tuna fish and decided to go with the tuna today.  It's Friday.  She should live a little on the wild side.

I also pass a couple of farms.  I count the chickens that are allowed to roam so close to such a busy highway.  I'm always surprised they're all still there.  I'm starting to think they might be lucky....that or their owners keep replacing the missing ones.

I pass two pastures of cows.  I like to use them as my daily weather vane.  If they're all standing, it's going to be a lovely day.  If they're all laying down, it's definitely going to rain.  It's only ever an 'anyone's guess' situation when one pasture is standing and the other is laying down...  You'd be surprised at how well cows predict the weather.

And I also take note of the changes.

Trees that are cut down and cleared.  How is it being done?  How long does it take them?  What are the going to do with the trees?  What are they going to do with the land?  I'm in the process of watching a section of Brundidge.  They cut the trees down and sold them to lumber companies.  They burned the stumps in huge fires.  A couple of months ago, they put up huge 'land for sale' signs.  Now I'm waiting to see who purchases it and what they do with it.

I've mentioned that I pass farms.  I watch them till the fields.  And then one day rows and rows of little greens poke up.  What are they going to turn out to be?!  I like to guess.  I got the corn.  One point for me!  I didn't figure out the cotton until they were covered in all the little white boles.  Now what I'm watching for is the day those cotton fields are all cut down and I see the trucks packed with the cotton traveling down the road and the bits of cotton that will litter the curbs.  I've always wondered why they don't stop to collect it all.  There always seems to be so much!  I bet someone patient enough to walk the roads at that time of year could get enough cotton to make a years worth of clothing.

Getting back to the alternate title of the post, three months ago, I noticed white stakes in the median.  They counted off in 5s from 000-10 to over 300.  For the longest time, I tried to figure out what possible measurement whoever put them there was using.  They're too close together by a long shot to be marking miles.  They're too far away to be marking feet.  But they are just about right to be marking yards.  My second burning question is why they were there at all.  Who put them there?  What are they marking?!?

And today, I figured it out!  They marked the beginning and ending points for the recent road construction!

Another point for me!  Woohoo!  I actually gave a small victory, 'Ah-ha!' when I figured it out this afternoon (:

So what does this mean?

It means that next week, I'll find some other new thing to pay attention to, keep track of, make stories up for, and wait for the next 'ah-ha' moment and earn the next point for me in a game where the points aren't actually tallied, and the only goal is keeping me entertained and awake while I make my commute.

Something in the Air

It was an ethereal experience driving through the fog this morning.  In the span of 30 minutes, and roughly 30 miles, it went first from white to stormy gray, then blue, then yellow, blue again, than back to white and finally gray as it faded away with the first warm kisses of the sun.

One of the most amazing things was the act of noticing the changing of the colors:  While looking ahead (as I was still driving) and seeing my rear view mirror as well and seeing very clearly that what was before and around me was definitely a different color than what was behind me.  But as I was driving, the shift into each was subtle enough that I could not pinpoint the exact moment that they changed.

How could one not feel a touch of magic in the wonder?

No, I did not attempt to take this picture while driving.  Photoshop and Google fog images helped me recreate the experience.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Morning Pages

I love to follow my friend Kim's Blog, Cup of Creativi-Tea.  This afternoon, her post is about overcoming a lapse in her Morning Pages.  A quick search led to the source blog for Morning Pages.

After reading through it, and being a firm believer in creativity and creative inspiration, I decided to sign up (:

So tomorrow morning will be day one of three pages of free writing.  We shall see what comes of it.

It reminds me of a wonderful quote I saw for the first time all of 2 hours ago:

Letter to the Alabama Department of Transportation

Dear Alabama Department of Transportation,

On Monday this week, your workers headed out in the 90 degree heat to begin tearing up the road I use five days a week.

And I wanted to tell you, "Thank You."

I have watched their progress all week, and though I admit to some minor rumbling about slowing down that first day, I have mostly watched in fascination as the old road was scraped away, layer by layer like an onion, and within mere days, a beautiful new road is being laid down in it's place.

It's been exciting to see how far they've come in so short a time.  And I felt like Mater from Cars getting to drive on the newly unveiled road.

I amused myself wondering if your workers, who continue to progress for the second lane, watch us drivers using their new roads with pride in a job well done and (though it is unspoken) very much appreciated, or if they're disgruntled that people would dare to drive on their so newly made hard work.  I anticipate, as all professions have optimists and pessimists, there might be a bit of both.  It makes me smile to pretend one of your road crew could even be having one of these thoughts as I slow down to pass them safely.

I have been equally impressed with your crews dedication.  They have been out there is the miserable heat, and lately, in the equally miserable rain.

And so I wanted to take this moment to say, "Thank you" for the wonderful new road you have laid out to make my drive easier.

While I'm mentioning it, is there any chance I could talk you into doing the same for the road around my house.... (;


Janin Wise

Quirky Family Games

This morning on facebook, a friend posted this:

and it immediately reminded me of a game we play at my house.  Periodically, I will (gently) land on one of my children, taking them down to the floor with me, and fuss about a sudden attack of Gravity.  They periodically do the same (:  It's a great opening for a tickle fight.

It got me thinking about the variety of quirky, not your standard issue, family games people play.

Another one my boys and I like to play is a combination of Follow the Leader and Tag.  You're supposed to do what the person in front of you is doing-- while getting increasingly closer to them the whole time.

When I went to college and lived in the dorm, one of my favorite games involved going through the entire third floor lobby (which consisted of two large rooms with several smaller study rooms off on the sides) without touching the floor at all.  This usually involved walking across the backs of furniture and leaping from one piece to another.  Sometimes, a fellow student would allow a piggy back for some of the wider gaps.

When I was in college and living in a house, my roommate and I, along with several friends, had an 'everywhere' water gun fight.  Inside, outside, and in between-- all doors open and everyone running every which way.

I still remember my friend Julie telling me about a game she played with her friends as a child.  It was called, 'Paraplegic'.  Everyone except 'it' would run away from home base, where it was, was it counted to 10.  Then It would yell, "Paraplegic!" and everyone would fall on the floor where they were and would have to make it back to home base without using their arms our legs to get there.  She even demonstrated pulling herself across the floor by her chin.  It was terrible and horrendously funny at the same time.

When I was a little girl, we used to play indoor tag that included leaping over the furniture.  Cassie, the german shepherd played this game with us.  She was REALLY good at clearing the couch.

And my three favorite games as a child, when we were outside were

1.  Tunnel tag-- which involved plastic tunnels like giant culverts, that had connectors.  Little kids climbed through them, but our playground had them shaped like a hat so the two outer edges were safe zones and the inner square is where we ran.  You could -almost- get parallel to the ground running the inner square.

2.  Human Volley Ball-- played by rapping the two outer swings up on the side of the swing set and a person sitting in the center-- while two other people play volley ball with that person.


3.  One, Two, Three, Kick Up! -- where we would stand in a circle of up to 20 people, one person standing in the center saying the words.  Then everyone else would kick up into a handstand.  The winner was the person who could stay up the longest and would be the next person in the center.

What are your favorite quirky games?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Facing It

In my freshman English class, we've just started the section on Poetry.

One of the first assignments was to read 5 short poems and answer a series of question on two of them.

For the first, I chose

Yusef Komunyakaa, Facing It

My black face fades,
hiding inside the black granite.
I said I wouldn't,
dammit: No tears.
I'm stone. I'm flesh.
My clouded reflection eyes me
like a bird of prey, the profile of night
slanted against morning. I turn
this way--the stone lets me go.
I turn that way--I'm inside
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
again, depending on the light
to make a difference.
I go down the 58,022 names,
half-expecting to find
my own in letters like smoke.
I touch the name Andrew Johnson;
I see the booby trap's white flash.
Names shimmer on a woman's blouse
but when she walks away
the names stay on the wall.
Brushstrokes flash, a red bird's
wings cutting across my stare.
The sky. A plane in the sky.
A white vet's image floats
closer to me, then his pale eyes
look through mine. I'm a window.
He's lost his right arm
inside the stone. In the black mirror
a woman's trying to erase names:
No, she's brushing a boy's hair.

The sixth question in the assignment asked, Did you find places where you “connected” with the poem?
 In other words, tell me how this poem affected you as a reader. Could you relate to the poem, personas, or theme in anyway?

I'm not sure if responding to a poem with a poem is the correct answer, but it's what I did.

Response to Facing It
by Janin Wise

I’ve been to the Vietnam Memorial in DC.
It’s quiet.
No one talks.
No one laughs.
No one even takes pictures.

You might hear quiet weeping,
but it’s the only sound you will.
People move in slow motion.

So many names.
There are so many names.

 I don’t know anyone personally,
so even though I felt compelled to touch the wall
—it was not my right
and I kept my hands to myself.

With my eyes though,
you can tell
the names are a softer texture
than the smooth,
reflective black surface.

When you approach the wall,
everyone else disappears;
Doesn’t matter if you got there with other people.
When you face it,
you face it alone.

I stood in respectful silence,
bearing witness
to the roster
of fellow Americans
who died in that war.

I do not know them.
But we are both American.
That is enough.

They gave their lives
for the continuation
of the American way of life.
That is more than enough.

So many names.
So very many names.

You pick one out.
Just one.
You read it.

And you offer up a prayer
of thanks for that soldier
as the envoy of all the other soldiers
whose names share space on this wall.

And then you step back.
You notice your reflection.
You notice flags.
And flowers.
And pictures.
And sound returns.
And you are no longer alone.

And some,
for whom the names are not just symbols
—for whom the names belong to a face and a life
—some leave fresh flowers,
some take rubbings from a name
…and some kneel, quietly weeping.

Twitterlins, It Ain't Whatcha' Think

Technology has a way of changing what things mean.  This morning, I searched for 'twitterlins'.  Google is absolutely certain that I'm misspelling 'twitter links'.  And based on the number of sites pulled up for my originally query, the people using it mean the same thing.

Way back before twitter or even before the internet, my father informed me that I was a master twitterlin maker.  It became a running joke between us for a habit that drives him (and my husband) absolutely nuts.  I used to claim to have an invisible room full of them.

I have a bad habit.  I can't break it.  I've done it forever.  It really is part of who I am.  Actually, I have two, and they tend to go hand in hand.

I split hairs.  And I take things literally.

Part of why I can't break these habits are for my own personal amusement.  I blame it on quirky humor.

(My husband tells me I'm not funny.  He lumps these in with my enjoyment of puns and plays on words.  Personally, I admit to getting great delight from the sound of his suffering groans as he rolls his eyes.)

The upshot to these two bad habits are that there are a LOT of opportunities for them and it's cheap entertainment.

The downside to these two bad habits are two fold: 1. That I can't NOT do them when the opportunity is presented, even when it's not appropriate or going to get me in trouble.

And 2. That I appear to be passing them on to my children.

So what is a 'twitterlin'?

It's a musical instrument.

Created by pulling a split hair taunt across a skunk's butt.

And meant to be played with the teeth.

So when I first Google searched 'twitterlin', I have to admit that it puts an entirely different meaning to the frequently listed 'Beyonce twitterlin'...

Why Wile E Coyote and Sylvester are the Real Victims

When I was a little girl, I adored watching Looney Tunes.  I loved the theme song

I adored most of the characters, save two:  Tweetie and the Road Runner.  I actually almost loathed the two of them.

I identified more with Sylvester and Wile E.

(I'm fairly certain it's the scowling.)

And to my way of thinking, both Sylvester and Wile E. were doing as they had been intended to do-- they were hunters, hunting.

I didn't object to Tweetie and Road Runner trying to avoid being eaten, after all, they have a right to try to survive as well.

No, the reason I was up in arms is that every now and then, Sylvester or Wile E. would give up.  They would -attempt- to eat something else.

And those blasted birds would ruin it for them.

So, in my little mind, Tweetie and Road Runner not only prevented their antagonists from doing as they aught, but they were starving them to boot!

(On an aside, check out the amazing cartoon skeletons:

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Future, Rich Artist Version of Me

Before I can talk about today, I have to mention my Research and Criticism class last week.  We were talking about the perceived value in art and when a collector spent less than $20,000 on this painting,

and had it finger print tested, it turned out to have a Da Vinci finger print on it and is now estimated at being worth over $160 million!

So my classmates and I have had a running joke about making sure you leave DNA evidence in your artwork, so it can be identified later and worth millions.

Today, when my friend Sam asked me if I'd make sure to leave a fingerprint in the current painting piece I'm working on, so I'd make millions later, I laughed.

And it set us all off on a tangent about the Future, Rich Artist Version of me.

I teased that they (the art people of the future) would argue over how to pronounce my name.

Sam mentioned that my most famous piece would be my (upcoming) 'Four Little Ponies of the Apocalypse'.

Breanne said, "Ah yes.  Janin Wise, most often known for her morbid content...  But if you listen closely, some say you can hear the remnants of her giggle."

And Kim laughed and said that for someone as cheerful as I am, I really do have a tendency towards morbid art.

After laughing, I said, "But you have to admit, even if they're morbid...they do tend to be funny..."

And just in case you're thinking, "But Janin!  You don't do morbid art!!", here are a some refreshers. (No details, though, since I've actually blogged previously on all of them.)

Jabberwocky "Soft Sculpture"
Kali Ma "Soft Sculpture" (As in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Kali Ma)
"Mucha's Zombie" print.
"The Fables of Frogs" Triptych. (You can probably tell this turns out badly for the frogs...) 
"The Ants and the Grasshopper". Colored pencil.  (Because everyone knows how this works out for the grasshopper...)
"The Owl and The Grasshopper". Collage, watercolor, transfer, ink and crayon.  (I'll just direct your attention to the silhouette owl's claw in the background...)
"The Tortoise and the Eagle" graphic novel panel. Pen, ink, and watercolor.
"The Raven and the Serpent" pen and ink, water color, ink wash and colored pencil.
Now you're going, "Holy cow!  You really DO do a lot of morbid art!!"  

But hopefully, you can still see that I tend to do it in a light-hearted manner.

...Now if I can just get someone to pay me a couple of million for them (;


As I mentioned in my previous post, we started talking about poetry in my freshman level English class today.  At the beginning of class, my instructor was talking about the difficulty of being given a topic and just told to write a poem about it.  And at the end of class, he said that later this week, we might well do an experiment along those lines.  Perhaps on music.

He said not to write it now, but as I crossed the street, I couldn't stop myself and a poem sprung up in my mind.

So here is my second "give you a topic and tell you to write a poem" poem.


Rancorous noise.
The bass so loud
it dictates
the beating
of my heart
-steals my
natural rhythm
-and makes it yours.

The Elite
never clap
at the end of a song
-only at the end
of the performance.
I wish someone
had told me that
sneakers weren't
dress appropriate.

My dance moves
classic Muppet!
Smile wide
and No One watching.
A Joy in

Drum Beat.
Naught but Drum Beat.
The doumbek calls.
The Drummers are fishing.
The right rhythm--
O!  I am caught!
And must answer
the primal call
to move,
bare feet beneath the stars
-sisters in swirling skirts
-souls open to the heavens.

And all is made right in the world.

--Janin Wise

My Home Town

We started talking about poetry in my freshman level English class today.  At the beginning of class, my instructor was talking about the difficulty of being given a topic and just told to write a poem about it.  And at the end of class, he said that later this week, we might well do an experiment along those lines.  Perhaps on our Home Towns.

Immediately as I left class though, an idea was percolating in my mind and I had to sit down and go ahead and write it.

So here is my first "give you a topic and tell you to write a poem" poem.

My Home Town

My Hometown is an Island.
You may know it for
the hula, the luau,
the guava and the ukulele.

But I would not.
I didn't grow up there.

My Hometown is deep
in the upper Northeast,
where winter means
snow castles, icicles,
and hot cocoa.
Where soda is 'pop'
and pickled bologna is a treat.

But I haven't played
in the snow in forever,
and all sodas are merely 'cokes'.

My Hometown smells
of schnitzle and dampfnudel.
A street musician plays
on every corner
--never their songs overlapping,
and street artists
recreate the works of masters
in impermanent chalk,
on ancient cobbled roads
that lead to castles.

But that was before
the Berlin wall came down
and the lay of the Geography
I was always taught
became no more.

My Hometown
is a government motto:
"Home is where the
ARMY sends you."

My Hometown
is a wooden decorative plaque:
"Home is where you
hang your curtains."

My Hometown
is all of these...
and none of them at all.

For my Hometown is
always within my heart,
through the memories
of shared laughter and love.
....regardless of the physical location.

--Janin Wise

Punctuation Is A Funny Thing

On my way into school this morning, I passed by a hotel advertising, "Free Internet Breakfast".

I couldn't help but envision Plankton and his holographic meatloaf.

 (If you can't tell, there's a lot of SpongeBob at my house.)
I amused myself with the idea of facebook games like the Sims and the virtual gardens, but for food that doesn't actually exist:  "Collect all 52 varieties of pie to unlock the next helping of chocolate!"

I briefly wondered if the hotel could use it as a marketing scheme about dieting:

"Look at wonderful pictures of home cooked breakfasts, absolutely free!"

"A feast for the eyes, no weight for the thighs!"

"Yes, Mam, you are certainly welcome to use a jump drive to take left overs home with you!"

I have to admit, I wouldn't have been nearly as entertained this morning if the hotel had invested in a comma or an ampersand.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Habitat Diorama

My first grader was sent home with the assignment of making a habitat diorama.  We didn't have any shoe boxes, but we did have a box for chips.  I think it worked out well.

So my son and I gather in the dining room getting ready to make it and I ask, "So what habitat do you want to make?"

He tells me he wants to make the pole.  He wants to make a very cold habitat.  So we looked up Antarctica on line.

My little boy can tell you that it's the Antarctic Desert (they get as little rain as the Sahara!), but that they have a lot of animals living there:

He can tell you they have blue whales, orcas, penguins, seals, elephant seals, ice, snow, mountains, rocky beaches...

Shags, icebergs, Antarctic pearlwort 

and albatrosses.
He's very pleased with the end product and I think he's going to do well with presenting it tomorrow (:

Very proud of my little boy.

Replica Wands

So three weeks ago, my family and I went to Barnes and Nobles to get a birthday present for Mark's Mom.  While we were there, my boys discovered the Harry Potter Table.

I flipped through the Cookbook, but as it didn't have butter beer or pumpkin juice in it, I set it down.

The pop up book was pretty neat to look at.

But what caught my boys' attention were the replica wands.  They spent a good 20 minutes looking through the wands.  At $30 a piece, I was NOT buying them.  But told my boys that if they saved up their allowances and other money, I would bring them back to get them.

As soon as we got home, my youngest went through his birthday money and discovered he already had $30.  But I don't like to drive to Dothan twice in a day (Lets me honest, gas is just too expensive to make extra runs), so he had to wait a week.

He chose to get Dumbledore's wand.

When we got it home, we realized this is not really a toy-- it's a replica.  There's absolutely no give in the plastic.  Which means that it's like walking around with a blunted(-ish) 15" stick.  But he bought it with his own money, so I'm not taking it away from him.  He's just not allowed to run around with it and get it any where near anyone's face.

My oldest was very sad.  So Mark asked him to count out his change and told him that we'd change it in for cash.  Once that happened, he was only a dollar shy of the amount that he would need.  One week of chores, and he was ready.

So yesterday, we went back to Dothan and I took my oldest in to Barnes and Noble for his turn.

When we got to where the table was-- it was now covered in a collection of horror stories.  I could tell that my oldest was about to get upset, afraid that he'd missed them, so I headed him off and said, "Looks like they've moved them.  We'll just check in a couple of other places, and if we have to, I'll order it for you online, alright?"  He was okay with this plan, and fortunately, not 10 minutes later, we found them hiding in the children's section.

He chose to the get light up Harry Potter wand.

As soon as he got in the truck and we were headed home, he asked his Daddy what the different spells were.  Mark pulled out his Droid and looked them up: (from )

Accio                      Makes an object fly to you
Alohomora                Opens a lock
Aparecium                Turns invisible ink visible
Avada Kedavra          Kills an opponent, the unforgivable curse
Avifors                     Turns objects into birds
Avis                         Causes birds to fly out of the tip of your want, along with a loud sound
Crucio                      Tortures your opponent, another unforgivable curse
Confundus                Confuses the target temporarily
Conjunctivitis            Makes an opponent’s eyes swell up and itch
Deletrius                  Erases the evidence of the last spell cast by a wand
Densaugeo                Makes the target’s teeth grow out of control
Diffindo                    splits objects in two
Dissendium               opens a door into a cellar
Engorgio                   Makes an item swell up
Expecto Patronum     Created a Patronus from the end of a wand
Expelliarmus              Knocks an object such as a weapon or wand out of an opponent’s hands
Ferula                      wraps up a broken limb with a splint and bandages
Fidelius                    Hides a secret in a person’s soul, very powerful
Finite Incantatum      Ends a spell that has been cast or that is being cast
Flipendo                   Knocks something backwards, away from the user
Furnunculus             Makes an opponent break out in horrible boils
Homorphus              Causes a human who has assumed an animal shape to revert to their human            
Immobulus                Immobilizes the target
Impedimenta            Slows down or stops something or someone that is coming at you
Imperio                    Allows the user to gain complete control over another person
Impervius                 Makes water slide off a surface
Incendio                  Starts a fire
Legilimens                Lets the user look into the memories of another person
Locomotor Mortis       Locks the target’s legs together
Lumos                     Creates a light at the tip of a wand
Mobiliarbus               Moves a tree
Mobilicorpus              Moves a body
Morsmordre or 
Morsmorde                Summons the Dark Mark
Nox                         Douses a light, such as that created by Lumos
Obliviate                   Erases the memories of an event, making the person oblivious
Orchideous                Creates flowers to come out of the tip of a wand
Petrificus Totalus        Petrifies the target totally
Point Me                    Makes a wand act like a compass
Prior Incantato           Reveals the last spell that a wand was used to cast
Protego                     Protects the user
Quietus                     Makes a room or person quieter
Reducio                     Makes an item shrink
Reducto                    Blasts apart a solid object into little pieces
Relashio                    Causes binding to be released
Rennervate                Used to be calle Enervate; brings a stunned person back to consciousness
Reparo                      Repairs a broken item
Rictusempra               makes a person curl up with laughter, as in tickling them
Riddikulus                  makes a boggart assume a funny shape, thereby depriving it of its power  
                               to scare
Serpensortia              Conjures a snake
Sonorus                    Amplifies the voice of the user
Stupefy                    Stupefies the target
Tarantallegra             makes a person’s legs dance out of control
Waddiwasi                 Blasts out an object that is blocking something
Wingardium Leviosa     Makes an object levitate

When Mark said, "Accio", my oldest immediately asked what it meant.  While driving, I reached my right hand behind me, palm up to him and said, "Accio wand".  When he handed it to me, I brought it forward and told Mark, "Hey, that spell works!"

When we got home, the boys were playing and pretending to use the spells they knew.  (They want to print out the list for them, so, of course, I will be.)  When it got dark, my oldest brought out his wand and we turned out all the lights.  It lights with a flick and goes out with a flick.  The button is for making the light brighter or darker.

And just before bed, he and his brother snuggled together under the covers, and my oldest read a story to his brother by it's light alone, allowing them to recreate one of their favorite scenes.