Tuesday, June 29, 2010
By the way, have any of you been on PAPERBACKSWAP.COM? I love this website. Basically you swap books through the mail. The first time you sign up you post ten books you are willing to give away and you get two free book credits. So, all books are the price of shipping--around 3.00. Even if it is a book that is $30 on Amazon. YEah!
I just finished reading the first three books of a series called Elsie Dinsmore.
I really liked the first two books. The storyline is kind of like a child's Uncle Tom's Cabin. In both books the main characters are truly trying to do anything and everything for the Savior. They both go through tremendous trials and temptations to give in and not live up to their personal code of standards. (Level six thinking--from Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire.) I can see people saying this book was a little preachy, but it was exactly what I needed to read. Here was this little girl who constantly had a prayer in her heart, and truly did love the Savior above everyone else. For example, when people were really mean and unjust to her, if she felt the first stirrings of anger in her heart, she immediately knelt to pray and repent and ask for help for those feelings to be taken away. Her most fervent desire was to be like the Savior. I can't stop thinking about this. Do I ponder and think that much about the Savior? Is He my best friend like He should be? Do I love him above anyone and everything else? In fact, the big test is whether she will love her earthly father more than her Savior or if she will follow the Savior at all costs. This little girl was so completely obedient to her earthly father (When it didn't conflict with her principles) because the scriptures say to honor your parents. And her dad was really strict and sometimes mean. I know that her character was a little too perfect, but I guess I like stories like this because I love Uncle Tom's Cabin and Jane Eyre and Freckles and it is the same with their characters. Oh well. Anyway, I think what I love about it is the symbolism of how obedient we ought to be to our Heavenly Father. I loved her obedience too because it is so different than today's culture. In fact, the next book I read was called In The Palace of the King by F. Marion Crawford. In this book the daughter is not obedient to her father. And I cringed! I don't think I would even have noticed if I wasn't comparing her to Elsie Dinsmore. But both books did a good job of showing how most of the time their fathers had good reasons for any commandments they gave. Heavenly Father ALWAYS has perfect reasons for His commandments. Just because we don't know the reasons, does not mean they don't exist. That is where trust and faith come in. Anyway, both good books. Crawford's book was very well written, but she ruined it with one sentence at the end of the book--grr!
Monday, June 28, 2010
I've also been reading "Beekeeping for Dummies". My daughter has done two years of Beekeeping through 4H and both she and my husband want to keep bees. I thought I'd better figure out what they're so excited about. :-) It laid to rest some of my initial concerns. Bees are quite interesting. I'm sure you could do a whole Gospel study on the nature of bees and the symbolism involved in all that.
I checked out "Hungry Planet" from the library. Great pictures. Interesting information.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
"New ideologies have been mixed with older, false traditions producing ever-new confusions, beliefs, and practices that are inconsistent with the Proclamation." They listed four core ideologies:
Irrelevent gender vs. eternal gender
President Packer has stated, "Be careful lest you unknowingly foster influences and activities which tend to erase the masculine and feminine differences nature has established. A man, a father, can do much of what is usually assumed to be a woman's work. In turn, a wife and mother can do much - and in time of need, most things - usually considered the responsibility of the man, without jeopardizing their distinct roles. Even so, leaders, and especially parents, should recognize that there is a distinct masculine nature and a distinct feminine nature essential to the foundation of the home and the family." see here
"Of course, it is important to realize that marriage, parenthood, and gender as currently defined and practiced on earth does not necessarily constitute how they will be understood and experienced in the celestial realms." This sentence was particularly intriguing to me because I've often wondered about how these familial roles will carry over into the eternities. Elder Maxwell's words are comforting, "We know so little about the reasons for the division of duties between womanhood and manhood as well as between motherhood and priesthood. These were divinely determined in another time and another place."
Independence vs. Interdependence
The second ideology can lead us "to view mothering and fathering as separate endeavors with separate goals that do not overlap or intertwine and leads some parents to believe falsely that their family responsitiblities end with their distinctive stewardship. In contrast, prophets have taught that the stewardships are not mutually exclusive; for instance, fatehrs are to be involved in the daily care of the home and children, as part of their obligations to preside and provide . . . Joing responsibility and opportunity of fathers and mothesr opens to each parent almost any activity that promotes the spiritual, emotional, intellectual or physical needs of their children."
Separateness vs. oneness
The ideology of separateness vs. oneness was very interesting. The authors talk about how books like Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus may be helpful in men and women understanding one another, but too much emphasis on our gender differences can lead to separation rather than oneness. We have the tendency to label ourselves and use terms such as "boys will be boys" or excuse our behavior simply because "I'm a girl." "While the Proclamation points out that gender has a spiritual purpose and that God has given mothers and fathers specific family stewardships, it is not in accord with revealed truth that women and men come from different social planets and are elien to one another. Revelation teaches us our true origins are the same - 'near unto' Kolob (Abr. 3:2-3), where our heavenly parentes reside in celestial oneness."
Trust vs. mistrust
And last, but not least, the ideolgoy of trust vs. mistrust. For this one I'll just quote because it's so beautifully written. "In righteous, equal partnerships, wives' reliance on husbands does not imply subservience or devaluation of homemaking nor does husbands' reliance on wives imply subservience or devalution of economic providing. To define power in terms of duties performed or worldly status is wrong. Developing trust in one's spouse goes far beyond believing he or she will fulfill specific duties. Rather, it involves identifying, sharing, and appreciating each other's gifts adn stewardships and deciding together how best to implement or fulfill each set of gifts at specific points in time throughout life (italics added)."
I guess this is just giving us food for thought from our spiritual sources. It was comforting for me to read inspired thoughts, mostly because I do have a tendency to buy into the "separateness" ideology. After reading the Sax book, I was nervous that I wasn't teaching my boys and girls simply based on their gender. Somewhere in this reading they talked about how vitally important it is that we rely on spiritual guidance in these matters of gender and role division, and in instilling our children with knowledge of who they are as sons and daughters of God.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
So, what struck me the most?! I took too many notes. I'll try to keep it brief:
* I'm going to start yelling at my boys more, particularly my husband! :-) I alwasy assumed they couldn't hear as well. :-) hahaha
* I now have scientific proof that I am not a neglegent parent, rather I am providing risks by which my children can gain confidence. "Sheilding kids from injury makes them more risk-averse . . . a few scrapes build character." Ha!
* Great quote: "Our greatest moment comes when we find the courage to rechristen our 'evil' as the best within us." - - Friedrich Nietzsche - - Does this relate to "make weak things become strong?"
* When girls are stressed they want to be with their friends more (or chocolate, I might add) while boys want to be left alone when they are stressed. Good point to remember.
* I was completely flabergasted when I read about the 6 year old boy, Matthew, who was on three medications by the age of six - - Ritalin, Prozac and a sedative! All because the mom didn't listen to Dr. Sax in the first place!!
* Teaching boys about literature is not about feelings! I wish I'd read this before leading a boys book group for John and his friends. Duh!! I loved what the one teacher did with Lord of the Flies and mapping out the island. I wish I could think more like THAT!!! "Most boys prefer to read about strong maile characters who take dramatic action to change their world." True! Loved that description!
* "The first priority of schools must be EDUCATION. Social engineering comes second." And yet what do people usually ask or talk about when they find out we homeschool?! Hmmmmm......
* Another quote on education that I loved: "The great mission of education is to enable every child to fulfill their potential, to discover that corner of the field of knowledge they can call their own. Almost every hcild is a gifted child, I believe. The trick is to discover where your child's talents lie."
* I found it interesting that girls underestimate their academic abilities whie boys think they're smarter than they really are! After reading that I looked back at my high school experience and realize just how true that is! I was completely programmed that I did not like physics and did not need to go beyond what was the minimum requirement in math. I'm surprised I made it into BYU!
* I loved the part about how a man's dependency on emotional connection later in life is soley with their wife or girlfriend while women have many other sources of emotional connectedness. That was tender for me to think about my husband in that light.
* It was refreshing to hear that premarital and frequent sex does not only affect the female in the situation. I also have to admit that the chapter on sexual relations was very, very disturbing for me. I grew up in a very naive world. And though I would hope the same for my kids (in a sense) I know that it's not probable. There's so much scum out there! grrr..... Made me nervous for my girls! I loved all the differences between how to combat and protect our children.
* "Share with your daughters your way of coping wiht stress so they can learn how to handle their own." I liked how Sax kept going back to the "look in the mirror" principle. What am I doing that might lead to my girls having lower self-confidance and pushing them to give in to drugs and sex. "You can't discipline your child if you can't discipline yourself."
* One of my favorite quotes: "Most 15 year old boys are not sensible people. They are 15 year old boys." I think I still have my head in the sand here a little bit, not fully understanding how a boy's brain works. My husband keeps warning me! :-)
* LOVED the chapter on DISCIPLINE! "A well-run family is not a democracy." How many times I've found myself doing just what he's telling us not to do . . . Negotiation! Not an option at my kids' age, really."Negotiation subverts the process of moral internalization." This is the one chapter I'm going to have my husband read. "Your job is not to maximize your child's pleasure, but to broaden her horizons."
* Ironic that a society that condemns spanking condones medication!
* "Being a real man means using your strength in the service of others . . . Being a real woman is who you are inside." I want my kids to fully understand these two statements!!
* With this gender confusion, we are actually lacking in guiding our children to adulthood! Wow! I know that a lot of this research has to do with the growing number of divorce and single-parenthood. It makes sense. With both father and mother in the home, it's easier to teach these gender roles.
* And my final vote: SAME GENDER SCHOOLING EVERYWHERE! :-) LOL
Friday, June 25, 2010
One was the 7 Steps to Raising a Bilingual Child by Naomi Steiner and the other was Bilingual By Choice: Raising Kids in Two (or more!) Languages by Virginie Raguenaud.
There was nothing extremely new in these books that I hadn't heard before here and there. I did learn some new vocabulary. Such as "heritage language." (My kids' heritage languages would be Spanish and English.) And OPOL (One-parent-one-language) technic. They did have some good suggestions for implementing a few rules. Mostly, I just found them motivating, which is good too. Also, both listed resources of where you can find books or websites in other languages, which I plan on keeping a list of. Another useful bit was just the redirecting of what our goals are for our children's language abilities. One of the books mentioned how rare it is to have a "balanced bilingual" or a person that is equally good in both languages in all aspects of life. We definitely want our kids to be able to read and write in Spanish, but expecting a balanced bilingual is really pushing it.
Probably the most thought-provoking part in both books is when they were discussing pride in your culture and heritage. Both books talk about parents and kids being embarrassed to speak another language in public. Errr... I find it irritating, at best, when my daughter Ana tries to "cover-up" the fact that she's Latina or speaks Spanish. My brother-in-law (in Arizona) used to tell people he was from Italy and refused to acknowledge he was Latino at all when he was in high school . The author even pointed it out in one of the books how little "status" Spanish has as a language in the U.S. I guess I can understand it on some level, I mean Arizona's new law certainly points out how clearly racist some can get. (Anybody taking issue with that last statement, just think--Is my illegal, red-headed Canadian cousin going to be questioned? Umm, no. Are my legal, thick accented Latino in-laws going to be questioned? Umm, yeah.) Also, when my husband first came here, he was turned away from a job, because he supposedly "failed" a basic math test (addition, subtraction, etc.) when he was taking advanced calculus at ASU. They didn't let him see the test after it was scored either, by the way. So I'm not saying discrimination doesn't happen, I guess because I take so much pride in my heritage and history and culture (eh?), it really bothers me when people don't do the same. So here's some of the research results regarding this. "Adolescents who are active in their families' cultural traditions, have a clear way to identify themselves, and show pride in their heritage, are happier and have a healthier sense of self." (Bilingual By Choice, pg. 46). "A 2002 study of U.S. adolescents who were second-generation immigrants showed that those who kept their parents' native languages have better relationships within their families, feel better about themselves, and have a more positive attitude about school than their peers who lose their heritage language and become monolingual English speakers. Another researcher reported that bilingual children have a sophisticated sense of their identities." (7 Steps pg. 22). There was also other interesting stuff of how bad it is for a kid to abandon their native language, ie less likely to function on a high literacy level in their second language, which is the reverse of what I was expecting, but it's true nonetheless. Anyay it led me to recognize how important it is for Leo to speak to them in Spanish no matter where we are, because if the parent is willing to speak it anywhere the child will be more likely to pick up a feeling of pride of their culture.
Oh, and one other random fact I learned from Bilingual by Choice, is that it's natural for the brain to "forget" (at least for a while) an expression or word in one language when we are learning a second language. It's temporary, but necessary for langauge acquisiton. This actually has happened to me occasionally. Made me feel happy that I might actually be progressing in learning Spanish.
Overall, I felt Bilingual by Choice dwelt more on ESL issues, because that had been the author's experience, and hence not as useful to me since that's not my children's issues. On the other hand, I felt 7 Steps to Raising a Bilingual Child fit more those parents who can afford to look only for a Chinese speaking nanny, or a French preschool, or travel to Italy every summer. Umm, that's not really me either. But I still thought it was more useful all together and would be the one I recommend if you're just choosing one or the other.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
and Lisa M. Ross
I heard about this book from a blog I follow fairly religiously called The Lazy Organizer. The book intrigued me, I decided to check it out, and now you get to read about it!
I'll just go through the notes I took and maybe...maybe not...add my own thoughts:
The main focus of the book is:
xi: "Are we building our families on the four pillars of "too much": too much stuff, too many choices, too much information, and too fast?"
6: "By simplifying, we protect the environment for childhood's slow, essential unfolding of self."
7-8: Payne worked in schools diagnosing and counseling kids with "D" disorders such as ADD, ADHD, OCD, ODD. He saw similarities between kids he worked with in a Cambodian refugee camps and kids in middle-class modern families - they were both showing signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
8: "Our society - with it's pressures of "too much" - is waging an undeclared war on childhood."
9: simplification signals a change, a realignment of our hopes and our everyday lives
26: "stress can push children along the behavioral spectrum. When you simplify a child's life on a number of levels, back they come."
This, I thought, is really the crux. Payne does talk about medications. He takes a pretty middle of the road stance. He considers medications, for the majority of children, to be good if used ONLY as a scaffolding to hold the child together while their underlying issues are addressed. He doesn't think that most children need to be medicated indefinitely. I know a lot of people have solved their children's issues with nutrition changes. I wonder if part of the reason that nutrition changes work is because it slows the family down and causes them to reassess their entire lives. Either way, I think that he's right that children today are dealing with so much more stress than children used to deal with, and it is definitely worth looking into the relationship between their lives and their behavior.
Areas to simplify
too many toys, books, games, smells, clothes, etc. Too much stuff leads to too many choices. AS you decrease the quantity of your child's toys and clutter, you increase their attention and their capacity for deep play.
Regarding books: we want to foster a deep, not disposable, relationship with reading.
I've been working really hard on clearing out clutter in our home and really simplifying and purging our belongings. It's been a months-long process. I have found, as a result of fewer toys and books, that we are just happier. There is less mess to clean up each day. My kids have never struggled with imaginative play, and with fewer toys they are just as creative as before - if not more so. Homeschoolers tend to be collectors. I have found myself giving into the pack-rattish feeling far too often. You wouldn't believe how much school stuff I threw out. Stuff I collected 7 years ago when we first started on this educational path that we NEVER used. I even threw out stuff that we do occasionally use because I realized that we only use it because it's there, not because it's really that awesome. When I work with my younger children, we focus on great books and use paper and pencil for everything else.
I love his opinion on books. Libraries are fabulous. I convinced Josh to purge his books (as I was doing the same with everyone else's). I didn't think he would. But we decided to have only the best books in our house. The books that if my kid reads the same five books over and over I won't consider it a bad thing. A lot of people take the stance that if a kid is reading - anything - that's a good thing. I disagree. If my kid is going to read, I want it to be worth their while. We don't say that if a kid is eating - anything - then it's a good thing. Books are brainfood and should be treated about the same, in my opinion.
95: Familylife today often consists of whatever is left over, in terms of our time and energy, when the "work" of the day is done. Children depend on the rhythmic structure of the day.
98: Meaning hides in repetition: we do this every day or every week because it matters
109: Relationships are often built in the intervals, the spaces between activities, when nothing much is going on.
He uses a lot of statistics about the ways childhood has changed from 1981 to 2006. It's fascinating...and a little scary.
He compares enrichment activities to fertilizer. You can have too much of a good thing. Also, fields (and children) need that rest time. The importance of boredom, of Sabbath Moments (quiet days).
Talks about TV and computers...nothing new to me here.
185: Say less. He uses an example from Pa Ingalls - why did Laura and Mary always listen (and obey) Pa? Because he didn't say much. When he spoke, it was worth listening to. Payne points out that you don't have to make every moment a teaching moment. I like this. Payne uses an example of the various kids of talking parents do, such as the sportscaster (running commentary on everything the kid is doing/wearing), the number of questions and choices we give kids, and the hard time we have saying no. I have caught myself doing all of these things because it seemed like something that good parents do. No more!
In my latest quest of simplifying our lives, it's been amazing to see all the time that has freed up. I used to think that there just wasn't enough time in the day. Now I'm looking for activities to FILL time - or filling time with things that I always wanted to do but never got around to (can anyone say visiting teaching?). My house is cleaner more often, my meals are cooked on time, my kids are happy, my books are getting read. Life is just better, simpler!
DISCLAIMER - having 12 and 10 year old daughters is hugely beneficial to this lifestyle. I highly recommend that you have them before you have your other children. :-) I'd definitely want (NEED) an electronic babysitter more often without them.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Kami, I just reserved the book at the library. I think it will help me with my "aggressive" son. Sooooooooooooooooooooo aggressive. Love my boys' boy. Don't love his temper tantrums and holes in the wall.
If anyone else wants to join us, I'm skipping Federalist Papers to discuss this book before resuming our outlined plan. Since nobody wanted to discuss dog training books. :( Kidding. If anyone has anything to say about Federalist Papers as they continue reading, by all means share.
Kelly, when you get to the end of your simplicity parenting, let us know more about it. It sounds interesting. I might just check it out.
On another line, I've been reading pretty interesting book called "Simplicity Parenting". I haven't gotten all the way through it, but I think it would be a beneficial read to anyone who has a child with "D" disorders - and also to anyone with children, really, who wants to keep from overwhelming their kid with the stresses of the modern world.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Basically the premise of the book is that since the 1960's, popular and scientific parenting theories have prescribed a "gender neutral" child rearing, (give girls trucks, give boys dolls--that sort of a thing) and that a lot of boy/girl differences are created by society. The author refutes that, backs up his assertions with research, and basically says we're destroying society by proporting such theories.
Here's an example of what our society has accepted (at least in pc terms.) "Nature really offers us more than two sexes...Our current notions of masculinity and femininity are cultural conceits. The decision to label a child as a girl or a boy is a social decision. We should not label any child as being either a girl or a boy, there is no either/or. Rather, there are shades of differences." This from a tenured professor from Brown Univ. who's book received mention in the New York Times, Washington Post, and praise from the New England Journal of Medicine for her "careful and insightful approach to gender." I'm really just astounded at that. Really.
The author then cited various research reports to describe just how different biologically males and females truly are. Here's my summary:
- The brain actually could be considered a sex organ, like ovaries or testicles, because in 2004 it was clearly established that male and female brain tissue is "intrinsically different." Not only the hormones in it, not only the way we use it, but the actual tissue itself.
- Girl babies' brains' are 80% more responsive to acoustics than boys and the difference only gets bigger as they get older. So basically, those boys that say they didn't hear their soft-spoken female teacher, probably really didn't hear her.
- Male and female eyes have different percentage of M and P cells; M cells (which males have in larger abundance) track movement and spatial location, while P cells (which females retinas are mostly composed of) track what things are, like color and texture. Not only that, but the actual information from the eye is sent to different parts of the brain depending on gender through entirely different pathways. So translate this to a school setting: Jill draws people, pets, flowers and trees with lots of warm colors-usually ten or more-(what her eyes are more capable at focusing on), while Matthew draws frantic scribbles of a rocket hitting the earth all in one black crayon (black, blue, grey, silver are what M cells are most capable of seeing.) In summary, boys draw verbs, girls draw nouns, and a lot of that is what is visually wired in them.
- Males and females use different areas of their brain when navigating resulting in girls using landmarks and males using absolute direction like north or south.
- Already at nine months of age baby boys prefer trucks and baby girls will select dolls. He explains the study that was trying to see if that was really caused by "social constructs," and discovered that most toddlers up till 18 months generally have no clue what gender they are, so it really can't be social pressure. Boys prefer trucks more strongly than girls prefer dolls by the way. And in monkeys the same behavior can be observed.
- Males and females process their feelings in different locations of their brains. In girls, by teenage years it's in their cerebral cortex right along with their language skills. In boys it stays in their amygdala which has almost no connections to their language center. Translate that to a classroom: Asking a boy how he thinks this character felt in a book is going to get you nowhere.
- Male and female brains are organized different. Women have higher blood flow per gram of tissue than males. Women have larger brain cells in certain areas with more inputs than than corresponding male brains. Women tend to use mostly the more advanced areas of the brain such as the cerebral cortex, while men doing the same tasks use more primitive areas such as the globus pallidus, the amygdala and the hippocampus. Studies show that men with higher IQ really do have larger brains, but in women there's no difference in size.
- 8 yr. old girls have more in common with 25 yr. old women than they do with 8 yr. old boys. The reverse is true as well.
- Boys and male monkeys take far more risks than girls and female monkeys. This is universally true. Girls think extra risks are stupid, for boys it increases their social standing, and plus they like the rush. Girl adolescent monkeys babysit (seriously)--boy adolescent monkeys get squashed on highways taking stupid risks.
- Males (human and primates) are far more aggressive than females. Boys who fight actually end up better friends afterward. Girls who fight don't speak to each other for a year. Boys preferring violent stories is not an indicator of an underlying psychiatric problem, for girls who prefer violent stories it is. Rough and tumble play is crucial for boys to learn to control their aggression and the irony is that men who didn't experience rough play as children are more likely to commit violent crimes as an adult. He suggests if you have an overly aggressive son you should sign them up for contact sports so they have a supervised release.
- Men and women respond differently to pain. Women are more sensitive in general. And then when males are under stress it tends to dull the pain, in women under stress it increases it. Also, a pain killer produced by a pregnancy hormone is 4x's more effective in women than men.
- Males respond to stress and confrontation with the sympathetic nervous system (flight or fight adrenaline rush). Women respond with the parasympathetic nervous system (sick to their stomach, dizzy, have to go to the bathroom, etc.)
- Girl friendships and boy friendships are completely different, as is bullying.
- Girls and boys brains mature at different rates, different times, and also in different sequences. Also sex differences are larger in children than in adults (because by then the brain is fully matured.)
- Girls read fiction, generally about experiences. Boys read nonfiction, generally about struggles with male protagonists. Translate to school setting: 95% of elementary teachers are female, who often pick books which appeal to them, hence boys get message that they don't like to read. He suggests reading the newspaper with boys, or Treasure Island. Not Flowers for Algernon or Of Mice and Men.
- Boys consistently overrate their abilities, girls consistently underrate their abilities.
- Dating no longer exists as a practice to find a long-term life partner. Most dating now is based entirely on the hierarchy of their peer group and nothing to do with individual characteristics.
- Girls generally engage in risky behaviors because of low self esteem. Boys engage in risky behaviors because they are boys and like to take risks.
- According to Dr. Sax, parents have relinquished control to their children, which supposedly helps them become more responsible. He believes it results in: more fat kids, more teenage sex, and more teenage criminals. And that the mantra has become, "spare the rod, sedate the child."
- He believes there should be a 7:1 ratio when dealing with your kids, 7 parts fun time, 1 part discipline. And eat dinner together.
And if you want more details and strategies for discipline (positive and negative), you'll have to check out the book.
To sum up he compares males and females to spoons and knifes. You can't argue which is better, only which is better for what. Spoons for broth, knifes for chicken. The difference between what girls and boys can do is small, but the difference in how they do it can be large. But both are equally capable of getting the same nutrients--so say if your child has a spoon you give them beef stew but if your child has a knife you give them meat loaf.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
I guess you can say dog training is similar to country shaping?!?!
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Which book is for June? Are we still reading the federalist papers or was that may?