Monday, November 30, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
UPDATE: My husband informs me that nearly all of the photos we selected have escaped from the file where they were being stored, perhaps because of an interruption in our internet connection. The good news is that we still have the photos elsewhere and the photo retouching (cropping, red eye, etc.) is probably still there, but we're going to have to select them again (tonight?) and immediately upload them to the photobook site to be safe. As they said in Russia (during the perestroika or privatization era), it is impossible to cross a chasm in two leaps.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
- Large Geode
- small Geodes
- Quartz boxes
- Agate slices
- Polished Rocks
The numbering is in the original. The other side reads: "35 Dollars and some cents earn bit by bit". These are all museum store items, by the way. I think C has since revised down these very ambitious plans for her Christmas giving to one small sparkly opened geode for D for $2.50.
Yesterday, C invited D and me for a sort of game in the living room. It's hard to reconstruct the order of notes, but I believe I was initially handed a note that read "Look under the easel." There followed a long series of notes, giving directions for where to look for the next note:
- Look under the chair.
- Look in the toy kitchen.
- Look under the desk.
- Look under the pillow.
- Look on the sofa.
There was a little bit of confusion toward the end and nothing to find on the sofa, but it was a very elaborate game for a 7-year-old to organize.
Friday, November 27, 2009
For dessert, my husband and D made a pecan pie with store pecans and a premade crust. It has a very dark, rich flavor from all the rum extract that my husband poured on. I suspect it would be just about perfect with a good vanilla ice cream.
- microwaved sausages (the ham I had planned to use had an iffy odor, so I threw it away)
- stovetop stuffing
- hot cranberry sauce (cooked on the stovetop from berries)
- sweet potatoes (19 cents a pound!)
- store-bought deep dish apple pie (to replace the spilled pumpkin pie)
That was adequate for the four of us.
My husband and the kids started work yesterday on a 3D puzzle of the Black Pearl from Pirates of the Caribbean. It's going to be hard.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
This was our first trip to the new hospital, or indeed to any local ER. We rattled around in the almost empty ER and got very fast service. A Russian-American doctor with a Northeastern accent stitched up D's nose. The doctor reassured us that D's injury is in a pretty good place because there's usually a little crease there anyway, plus as D gets bigger, the scar will get proportionately smaller. The doctor also suggested an over-the-counter scar treatment cream for use once the stitches are out. D is due to get his stitches out in 5-7 days (we lean toward 7), and we are supposed to wash the area and put on antibiotic ointment 2 times a day while it's healing.
I'm somewhat reconciled to the new hospital location, but it requires some interstate driving, which is above my skill level at the moment.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention that after ER, D was perky enough that we were able to go buy Christmas cards, make a brief trip to the children's museum and then go out for a long-awaited Thai dinner.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
- our dining room is carpeted
- about half of our dining room table is taken up with papers and incoming mail and there is no other obvious or convenient place to keep the stuff
- I like a bit of space between the kids when they are eating.
My husband and I respectively hosed down and scrubbed the high chair this morning after putting the seat cover in the washer (the underside was getting pretty scary). We spent the first five years of its life as apartment dwellers, so in those years I used to just launder the seat, only very occasionally turning the chair upside down and going at the crevices with Q-tips for an hour or so at a time. Finally having a hose of my own has opened up a totally new world to me. My husband blasted the dried up crud and it came off, even from the straps that have long thwarted me. Out of curiosity, I just did a little research on seat cover replacements. Fisher Price doesn't seem to make them, but if we should ever someday want a new seat cover, the good ladies of Etsy can make covers to match any decor.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I know dave s. has some reservations about the cult of Maclaren, but when those people say that their stroller will take up to a 50 pound child, they mean it. I've worn out two plastic-and-metal frame Graco Metrolites, and when they say that the stroller is good up to 40 pounds, it means that once the child is 35 pounds, it's going to break within days.
C just spontaneously gave me 65 cents, bringing her giving savings to $5.60. I was thrilled. Minutes later, she returned, wanting to get her 65 cents back. I told her that once she gives the money, it isn't hers anymore, but that if she wants to earn more money, I have lots of oppportunities (workbooks, etc.). Things cooled down eventually and she did a page of workbook for 25 cents.
The kids are both home sick today.
Monday, November 16, 2009
4th grade is the make-or-break year for little Germans, the year when testing divides them between vocational track, the middle track (where 2-3 years of remediation after high school will get you into university eventually) and the gymnasium track (which leads directly to university).
Sunday, November 15, 2009
I'm not an expert on Japanese culture, but cross-cultural stuff is a long time interest and I have worked with groups of Japanese college students. Japanese culture is hard, as the young Belgian heroine from Fear and Trembling discovers. A bow can mean any number of things depending on how it is executed, by whom and to whom, and a foreign novice is not going to get it right. It's going to be interesting to see if Obama continues to attempt some version of local protocol elsewhere in Asia. Thailand, for one, seems to have extremely exacting laws and customs about how the royal family is treated. I'm looking forward to seeing Obama's attempt the traditional Thai ceremonial when meeting the king:
If granted an informal audience, Thai traditional way of crawling on the knees and paying respect to His Majesty with a krap is more suitable. Shoes must not be worn. When approaching His Majesty, krap with the hands raised once and crawl near him at a proper distance, not directly facing him, and make another krap. Then prostrate oneself with hands still pressed together. If His Majesty addresses someone, the person must look up and answer him. When leaving His Majesty's audience, krap with the hands raised once and crawl backward at a proper distance. Make another krap before standing up.
I think "krap" means greeting, but google has been unhelpful.
UPDATE: I just came across this long slideshow of photos of dignitaries greeting the Japanese emperor. Posture varies (either upright or slightly inclined toward Akihito), but Akihito's posture very closely mirrors that of the people he greets. If you look at it, pay special attention to the Asian dignitaries. It's hard to tell from a still photograph, but there seems to be a preference for a Western handshake in this context. I wonder why?
UPDATE: We turned the heating on the night of Tuesday, Nov. 17. A good thing, too, because when I got up in the morning on Wednesday, the temperature for outdoors was 39.9 degrees. Our current pattern is low overnight temperatures with daytime highs into the 70s. I'm keeping the thermostat at around 65 degrees, which is about right.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
The best thing about the Singapore treatment of division is that C was immediately able to start doing the problems by herself correctly. She didn't need any help.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
UPDATE: I was doing a little internet reading and talking to my dad. The internet informs me that tune-ups are done every two years or 30,000. I read the long list of stuff that needs to be replaced during a tune-up, and I get why it's so expensive. Good thing it's only every two years. As of Thursday AM, our car is still at the dealership waiting for a part. We have a loaner (some sort of sporty Pontiac), which my husband hates, due to features like some smoked glass that obscures the blindspot. The dealership also told my husband that the AC is going to go out eventually, so be ready for a $500 repair. My husband found the part online for $250 and he'd like eventually to find a mechanic who can do it cheaper. My dad's 2 cents is that with proper care, our car should go happily to 140,000 miles and that this is the time in our car's life when it should be making us money. My dad says that barring major engine or transmission issues, repairs are worthwhile, even on a $4,000 car.
UPDATE II: The Ford people fixed a component of the AC and they're hoping that will hold it for a while.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Our old program was that the kids get $1 each for a clean bedroom every night, except on Sundays. C also can do Kumon workbooks (20-25 cents a page) for extra cash. That's potentially a lot of money, but the kids have to buy their own scotch tape, construction paper, tracing paper, easel paper, glitter glue, stickers, etc. C told me today that her objection to getting 90 cents and saving 10 cents for charity out of every dollar is that she doesn't like the idea of breaking up a dollar. She wants the whole dollar. I made the kids a deal they can't refuse: I am bumping the clean room compensation to $1.10. The kids will get $1 (as before), but the extra 10 cents will go into their charity savings. Also, if their rooms are clean on Sundays, the full $1.10 will go into their charity savings. If they don't want to give the 10 cents, they won't get the $1. Each child now has a small plastic container on a high shelf in the dining room. One says "D giving" and the other says "C giving". C voluntarily put in $2.05 from her savings, but repented later that she was all out of cash. I didn't give the money back. After she added the $1.10 from today, that brings her to $3.15 in her container. D has $1.10 in his container. At this rate, they will have a tidy sum by Christmas.
We've told the kids that they will choose what to do with their charitable giving. So far, we've suggested either one of the Christmas toy programs or Heifer.org. It costs $20 to buy chicks via Heifer.org. The great advantage of either of those two options is that it is very concrete and easy for the children to understand.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
As Chris, DP's commentor says, "Not a word of this to Dan Brown, or his next ten novels are already done."
UPDATE: This is probably cheating, but I have a fanfic idea for a Harry Potter/Twilight combination: Hermione's doomed love affair with an especially sensitive dementor.
Friday, November 6, 2009
15 kids (including our two) came and my husband explained the rules of the Chinese game Jungle to them. The kids played a number of rounds of Jungle and then eventually, about half of them switched to chess. The prep time for this was huge (and we've now got all the volunteer hours we need for the fall). My husband printed out sheets of game boards and pieces and then he and the kids cut out the pieces and stuck them onto heavy cardboard. He also created a large-scale version of the board and pieces for his demonstration. As before, we circulated, settled rule disagreements, made sure everybody had a partner or a game to watch, and stayed until all the kids had gone home. My husband had printed up copies of the gameboard, rules, and pieces for anybody who wanted to play it at home. We're not sure if we'll have a meeting in December, but our preliminary idea is to teach Chinese checkers, with the choice of either playing chess or Chinese checkers.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Texas law (and Washington State law) says that C can stop using the booster seat when she turns 8 or is 4'9". However, British Columbia law states that she will have to use a booster seat until she is 9 or 4'9", so the booster seat is going to be part of her life for some time.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
A durian weighs 900g. A papaya weighs 550g. Which is heavier, the durian or the papaya?
The durian is the famously stinky (but allegedly delicious) southeast Asian fruit. Follow that Wikipedia link for some memorable literary descriptions.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
- Children with AS [Asperger's Syndrome] can become stuck on certain feelings. Because their thinking is rigid and no other alternatives seem possible, these children feel stuck in impossibility or hopelessness. Nothing has ever worked before, and nothing ever will. However, these children are stuck on one viewpoint. They cannot conceive that there might be another even if it's pointed out to them. It isn't their point of view, so it isn't imaginable. Getting stuck on one point of view is a particular problem for gifted children with AS. They can think of so many possibilities in other areas that it seems surprising that they get so stuck in emotional functioning. Adults are less willing to believe the gifted child with AS is truly stuck and sees them instead as stubborn or manipulative.
- Gifted children with AS, who rigidly respond to a problem based on intense feeling, need help in identifying the triggers of their feelings, in setting up scripts of what appropriate responses would be, and in using a plan to try to use a new approach. Also, these children need some methods of decreasing how long they continue to feel the feeling.
- Children with AS are easily frustrated.
- Children with AS may have extreme and inappropriate emotional responses to what seem minor issues. They can have trouble modulating emotional expression and trouble realizing why they reacted as they did. People with AS resemble younger children in their expression of emotions, so they look immature. Many still have tantrums well past the age when others have outgrown such extreme expressions of emotion. Also, because of their preoccupation with their own interests, these children and adolescents appear more self-centered. For very bright children with AS, such extreme expressions of emotion and lack of self-control are incongruous. Not only do gifted children with AS react negatively, they react out of all proportion to the problem.
- The tantrums of young children with AS that include physical aggression may not disappear as the child enters adolescence and even young adulthood. If upset, they revert to total loss of control, only they are bigger now and more destructive. The problem isn't that these older children and teens are more aggressive than earlier, but that they haven't learned more acceptable ways of showing extreme feelings. They still react emotionally as they did when they were age two.
- Often gifted children with AS hear too much criticism; they do not receive many positive comments, then, so they tend to disregard those they do hear. Use reward systems that allow the child to measure individual progress and give access to favored activities coupled with positive comments about progress.
- Gifted children with AS, like other gifted children, have strengths in emotional intensity. The passion of doing an endeavor of their own choosing is much greater for gifted children with AS than for other gifted children.
- Gifted children with AS also have a passion for learning. [snip] They also desired to do a good job.
- While other gifted children are noncomformists and question authority because of their ideals, those with AS tend to be noncomformists because they live in their own worlds. They aren't rebelling against society but are less aware of society.
- Gifted children with AD/HD and AS are less apt to be overly stressed if they feel adequately stimulated. They need mental and physical stimulation that engages them in positive ways and that builds skills over time. Engaging in hobbies and individual sports is useful. Learning a martial art is so popular with children with AD/HD and AS because it teaches body control, emotional control, centering, focusing, and calming techniques in a socially acceptable manner.
- Unlike other gifted children, those with AS are extremely sensitive to the environment and quickly become overstimulated and wild in behavior. Their feelings are easily hurt when criticized. They feel some things are criticisms that are not, yet miss essential criticism because they cannot bear to hear it.
We have reached the end of Chapter 6.
- Formation of identity occurs through the phenomenon of maternal attunement to the child's earliest emotional expressions, and mutual delight in the interactions between parent and child (Ainsworth 1964). In the attunement process, the parent helps the child develop as an individual by following the baby's lead. Then, the parent mimics and plays with the movements and sounds suggested by the baby. [No pressure, moms!]
- Children with AD/HD who are fussy, have erratic schedules, or who do not attend well to parents' efforts to engage them are especially at risk. Some children with AD/HD only notice high-intensity stimulation. The lower-intensity stimulation offered by parents' voices or looks may go unnoticed. These children may create their own high-intensity stimulation by head banging, kicking, and crying.
- Fortunately, most children with AD/HD are less intense in their needs for stimulation. However, their poor ability to focus and sustain attention may mean they miss parental cues and are less able to follow these cues. Early hyperactivity may mean these children are more interested in moving than looking.
- Children with AS [Asperger's Syndrome] are more likely to have difficulty with efforts at maternal attunement because they may not attend to parental cues. Thus, they do not imitate gestures, movements, or mental states of the parent.
- The parent [of the child with Asperger's] may follow the baby's lead, but without the baby noticing and following back--that is, engaging in a mutual activity with the parent--the baby with AS has difficulty learning about relationships.
- Why is this? One hypothesis is that the child with AS sees the world in parts. It takes so long to shift attention from one thing to the next that the child cannot process wholes. Thus, the baby sees the eyes of the parent and focuses on that. Several seconds later the baby shifts to the mouth. Shifting so slowly means that the child never gets a clear picture of the whole as other children do. Thus, the world is made up of parts and the child misses vital information. Instead of being able to look at the parent to see what he or she is feeling about an object, the child with AS continues to look at the object. [snip] Consequently, the child with AS does not experience social relationships, but only gets part. The rigid routines that develop, and the focus on narrow interests, may be ways of coping with this problem (Ratey and Johnson 1997). [This sounds pretty good. I like the way this account ties together social and perceptual issues.]
- The young gifted children with AS who came to the Gifted Resource Center of New England varied in their early ability to share with parents. If they were sharing objects or material about their favorite interests, they had no difficulty engaging with parents around these. On the other hand, it was universally difficult to get them to pay attention to something the parent initiated unless it involved an interest of theirs.
- Braaten and Rosen (2000) found that boys with AD/HD were less empathetic than other boys. They also had more difficulty matching emotions of story characters with their own. These boys also showed more sadness, anger, and guilt than other boys. Difficulties with empathic responding do not necessarily occur due to lack of empathy, but more to a lack of attention to those factors that require empathy: the other person's perspective and feelings.
- As they grow older, some children with AS learn that certain situations require an expression of sympathy. In these situations, they can respond sympathetically and with concern, but on a limited basis. That is, concern is short lived, expressed once, and then the event is over so far as they can see.
- Children with AD/HD have been found to be less accurate in interpreting emotions in themselves and others.
- The gifted boys with AD/HD in the study [Moon, et al.] were found to be less mature than either other gifted boys, or other boys of their age with AD/HD. The gifted boys with AD/HD showed poor regulation of emotion, easily became emotional, and were easily frustrated. They tended to overrespond to situations. Socially, they were impulsive and made inappropriate physical contact with other children. They described themselves in extremes: with exceedingly positive or exceedingly negative characteristics. They engaged in irresponsible, irritating, and annoying social behaviors.
- When gifted children with AD/HD make mistakes or misbehave, their own emotional response may be to delete the message of what they did wrong. All they can focus on is how they feel. Once they feel better, the problem, in their eyes, is over. In fact, they can barely recall what it was about. What they do recall is how they felt.
- Children with AD/HD have difficulty with recognizing feelings in themselves and in others. Because they are apt to miss cues or randomly see some cues and not others, they are more apt to get only part of the picture. They also have trouble with seeing the other person's perspective because their own feelings are so intense, and they have less ability to focus on all aspects of the situation at once: what they feel, what happened, what the other person might feel, why they might feel that, how to deal with the situation, and so on.
- Suggestions to improve impulsive responding: Work on a program of "Stop, Feel, Think, Act." This type of program tries to put some time between the impulse to act and the action.