Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fun at the mall

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Black Friday advice

Last year I got up at 5:00AM to do the Black Friday thing. It was wicked lame. The crowds were huge- Toys R Us in particular was outlandish. And the sales were, IMHO*, pathetic. There was only one place where I got some really good deals: Walgreens drug store. So that is my advice. Skip all the stores, but make a quick stop at Walgreens and scoop up some stocking stuffers and even a present or two.


In My Humble Opinion

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Twilight


My eleven year old son and I are reading Twilight, trying to finish it before we go see the movie on Saturday. I would totally love it if I were 15. But, as of, ahem, yesterday, I'm 30. So it's kind of lame. This "dating a vampire" plot is being drawn out waaaay too long. When is the action going to start? I'm also a little annoyed because the author put five clues in that Bella's mom is a vampire, but I googled it and she's not!! What the heck kind of twisted foreshadowing is that??? I guess I'm thinking more deeply then the author, Stephanie Meyer. I keep thinking I need to write a book. I could totally write something of equal or better caliber.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Digits of steel

My husband and his brother have an unusual gift. Digits of steel. For my husband it's more-so his toes. He could make a grown man cry by squeezing him with his toes. His brother has strong fingers. He can poke them through a watermelon.

Apparently, my dear daughter Saphira got that gift too. When you cuddle her she innocently puts her fingers into you mouth and then BAM she tears at your lips, leaving you in a bloody mess- no matter how short or smooth her finger nails. Also she crawls up to the laptop and tries to type like everyone else and rips the letters off the keyboard. It's such a strange phenomenon.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Death

Yesterday in clinical I had a dying patient. He was dying of colon cancer, pretty young- fifty something. He was alone and sad and not ready to face death. I've had other patients like him. When I worked with the hospice nurse I was shocked at the denial some of the dying patients were in.

It's like this. We all die. But I think we all expect it to come suddenly and tragically or when we're really really old and ready to go. So when many of us come down with a common deadly disease in the middle of our perfectly good life we're unprepared. It's devastating.

Today at church, my pastor gave us an assignment to write an obituary for ourselves. I actually, do feel like if I got a death sentence tomorrow I could be at peace with it. (Though I hesitate to blog that, as any good movie would have me die tomorrow and have this post read at my funeral). Two reasons I have peace: number one I've made and loved four absolutely beautiful people. And secondly, my faith is very real to me, so I know where I'm going is a better place. (On the other hand I cringe at the thought of leaving my children on this earth without my protection until they're adults and able to fend for themselves).

I think I'll pass on writing an obit, because it feels kind of egotistical to put that all out there right now "Deena was so great. Bla bla bla." But I think the point of the homework assignment is to evaluate your current life and determine if that's really where you want to be in the long run. For me the answer is yes. I think the only thing I'd change right now is I really should pray and read the Bible more often. Gotta keep working on that.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Black people, join the civil rights movement of today!

In a sad twist of irony, black people turned out in droves to vote for Barack Obama and achieve a pinnacle in their civil rights movement; yet they passed on the opportunity to support the civil rights movement of today: equal rights for homosexuals. 70% of blacks voted yes on Prop 8 in California which defined marriage as for one man and one woman and strengthens the discrimination in this country against the last remnant of oppressed: homosexuals. Many of them were mislead, by the church, to vote for it. Unfortunately, the church has got this one all wrong.

Christians also should have voted against Prop 8 because it tramples on our right to the separation of church and state. If we force our interprettation of God's law upon society, we open the door for religious persecution- a very dangerous slope in this day when Muslims are attempting to do this in countries around the world. Christians, HEAR ME OUT: Each church/religion must define marriage for itself. The government must protect the rights of its citizens. If we try to force a singe religion's definition of marriage onto the government we are seriously breaching the separation of church and state. I cannot emphasize enough how dangerous this is!!



Finally, fans of the Constitution should have voted against Prop 8 because it is unconstitutional, violating the fourteenth amendment which says that you deprive some citizens of a right that other citizens have: "Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."




Unfortunately all three of those groups did vote for it. They were terribly mislead and misinformed. But I am confident, that in time, the truth will come out and Civil Unions will be available for all and every church will be able to define marriage as they interpret God's law.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

An unusual torture

My father in law is buying a car. He likes newer, luxury models. The kind of car that says "This driver has class". My husband, the dutiful son, is going with him to help him make the purchase. He knows a lot about cars, and even more importantly he can translate for my father in law, who speaks no English. There is just one, itty bitty problem. My father in law requires that his car have cassette deck in it to play his Cambodian music. No, he will not allow my husband to burn his tapes onto CD. No he will not use a tape deck converter- that would be beneath him. Try being the poor soul who must endure hour after hour, day after day of car searching. Looking for that perfect, classy car that, for some reason, has a cassette player still in it. Imagine trying to talk a stubborn man out of the excessively priced car, which appeals to him because it plays tapes. Well, at least I get a good laugh out of our pillow talk at the end of the day.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Homeschool activist

I was homeschooled as a child. And now I've had the experience of homeschooling for first grade, second, third, and sixth grade. I've homeschooled two kids and I've homeschooled with three and four. I've done several awesome structured curriculums and I've learned to love unschooling- which is child led learning. I have turned into a homeschool activist.

I have formed some strong opinions on education. I am frustrated at how brainwashed the public is. We have allowed ourselves to completely buy into the public school model. It's not a horrible thing. But it is not ideal. Often times it is glorified babysitting.


Time spent in school
One statistic that, I think, confuses public school teachers is that the higher the number of absences, the poorer the child does in school. Naturally, one would think that if you extend this analogy to homeschool, then being out of public school permanently will be detrimental to a child, unless the homeschool mom is preparing substantial lessons to replace said public schooling. What homeschoolers have proven, though, is just the opposite! That, not only do homeschoolers fare much better than public schoolers but unschoolers do even better because their learning is self motivated! You know how much you learn when you're really excited about something! So how do you explain the discrepancy between the P.S. students with high absences and the successful unschoolers? My theory is that that statistic isn't really about time spent in school. It's about parental involvement! P.S. students with high absences generally have very low parental involvement in their education. The opposite is true for unschoolers. (Also, absences often cooralate with family problems that would naturally interfere with learning).

Edspeak
One little secret that public school teachers are taught is "educationeze". When they get their education degree, a good amount of time is spent learning how to frame the learning that children naturally do into technical terms. For example:
  • A trip to the library = silent sustained reading
  • Playing with legos = building critical thinking, small motor skills, design
  • Arts and Crafts = manipulative construction
  • Chores = time on task development
This "Edspeak" feeds into the myth that children get something at public school that they can't get at home.


Socialization
"Socialization" in the school model is destructive. Grouping together twenty five children of the same age group and allowing them to learn from each other is not a good way for them to learn. Nor is it good preparation for "the real world". When, in "the real world" are you ever grouped together with twenty five people of your exact age all day? It just doesn't happen. A better model would be for children to be in a small group with a wide range of ages from baby to elderly, with a low ratio of adults to children to mentor them in social behavior ie. a family.

A minimum standard
As I explained in a previous post, standardized testing is done all wrong!!! It should be very short and completely pass/fail. It should be the standard below which no child should fall. Instead it is complex and long and children can perform in a "range" of abilities on the exam, which then reflects negatively or positively on the schools- but with no real ramifications for the failing child. This is one thing the Public schools can and should change immediately.


Framework
Another public school fallacy is that if a child doesn't follow a certain, laid out, framework, then he or she will "miss something". This theory is somewhat amusing because it greatly underestimates the amount of knowledge there is to study. The public schools have state guidelines to follow that will, if implemented well, result in a well-rounded elementary and high school education. This, in itself is not a bad thing. But is it even 1% of all knowledge known to mankind? No! Homeschool children have an advantage in that they can pursue areas of interest. Clearly, this wouldn't work well in a classroom with dozens of kids and only one or two teachers to assist in teachable moments. So the framework is an acceptable replacement for child led learning. But it is not superior!! We have been lead to believe that if a child does not learn, say, the life cycle of the butterfly- he or she will be missing something. I disagree! (With the exception of the minimum standard discussed above). If you never learn the life-cycle of the butterfly you would do the same thing that the person who was sick the day that they taught that lesson in school would do: When that knowledge becomes necessary: Read a book! Google it! Or ask someone! On the other hand, a homeschooled child can focus his energy on his interests and talents. For one child that will be football. For another child that will be computers. When they grow up, they will be far better prepared to dive into their destined careers as NFL players or computer programers. And interest is fluid. Even if that football playing boy discovers he is not good enough for the NFL, he will still have the passion for learning that will enable him to pursue his new found interest in car mechanics. Many bright children will naturally pursue an even wider education than would have been provided in school. Some will pursue a narrower path of interest. But those children will gain a much deeper understanding. It takes both types to make this world go round.

Multiple Intelligence
A "well rounded" education is better achieved through homeschool, in which all the areas of intelligence can be pursued:
bulletLinguistic intelligence ("word smart"):
bulletLogical-mathematical intelligence ("number/reasoning smart")
bulletSpatial intelligence ("picture smart")
bulletBodily-Kinesthetic intelligence ("body smart")
bulletMusical intelligence ("music smart")
bulletInterpersonal intelligence ("people smart")
bulletIntrapersonal intelligence ("self smart")
bulletNaturalist intelligence ("nature smart")
Public school narrowly focuses on linguistic and logical-mathmatical.

So that's my rant for the day. I would not feel so strongly about it, if I didn't feel slightly threatened by our current system. The American Public School system has brainwashed the public into thinking that it is better for children then their own parents are. :(

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At least we're homeless!

My husband got laid off. The whole company shut down because it was run on investment capital and... well, I can only imagine that after the stock market dropped, investors wanted to take their money out of anything risky. Thankfully we're homeless already, so there's no worry about making a mortgage payment. ha ha. I do feel bad for his coworkers though. Everyone was completely blindsided by this. And with the holiday's right around the corner, it's just... really sad.

I'm actually happy about it, because I had a huge dilemma about what to do next with nursing. I really need some ER experience if I want to get hired in the ER when I get my degree. Now I can apply because he can be home to watch the kids (particularly if I work the night shift, which is likely). The timing of this was perfect for me.

But he's really bummed. And he's hurt/mad that I'm not more sympathetic. I told him to give me some specific instructions on how I can help (like not mentioning the layoff or something). But he said that I can't pretend my feelings are different, so there's nothing I can do. Sigh. So I hope he busts out of this bad mood soon enough.

Oh, and I'm homeschooling Wolfie now too, because it was becoming clear to me that he needed more individual attention. He was acting out in school. I decided this the week before the (surprise) layoff. The timing of it was perfect though, because now we're all home together. It would have been cruel if we were all home except for Wolfie, who we would send off to school every day.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Vote tomorrow!

In my home state of Massachusetts there are three initiatives up for vote. I will be voting:

No on 1. Eliminate state income tax? Yikes! No. That would be devestating to our communities.

Yes on 2. Our jails are overcrowded already (not to mention the huge racial disparity). Let's focus our police efforts and tax dollars on the real criminals, not the petty marijuana smokers!

Yes on 3. I oppose gambling and I oppose animal cruelty (except for eating. :) Case closed.

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

A grammar lesson from Beyonce

Beyonce's new song: If I were a boy is so sweet sounding. But is it supposed to be "If I was a boy?" since "I" is singular and "was" is singular? Or is it "If I were a boy?" - due to some other strange rule? Well, it turns out that Beyonce is right. If something isn't true it's called the "subjunctive mood" and the verb is plural. How interesting.

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Have you seen this movie?

Have you seen the Jim Carey version of the movie: Fun with Dick and Jane? It's a great movie. Really funny. And in my opinion it's a great demonstration of the economic mess we're in. It shows how we American's look like we're doing OK, but really our economy is a breath away from a great depression, because our economy is based on credit!! Our gross national product used to be based on things we made with our hands or services we provided. But over the past decade our gross national product has shifted to a CONSUMER basis.

"consumption ran about 63% or 64% of gross domestic product in the 1960s, but last year hit 72% of GDP. At the same time, savings have dropped from 8% to 10% of GDP to 0% today. That, in turn, has led to total debt in the economy jumping from less than 50% of GDP in the 1960s to 110% today.

This cannot go on forever. Watch this movie. Have a laugh and learn something at the same time. The movie is based on an Enron type collapse, but it's also a good representation of how our entire economy is based on credit. Credit is not real money. Some consumption is necessary for a healthy Gross Domestic Product. But that balance has been thrown waaaay off.

So. Yeah. That's my doom and gloom economic beliefs again, in a nutshell. My advice for dealing with this coming recession/depression, once again is to: not buy real estate. (Or sell what you have). It is still FAR, FAR, overvalued. Invest in tangible items like gold, useful things like cars and intangibles like talents, education, children, health. Don't invest in your credit score: which won't be worth your effort as the banks realize that the economy cannot run on credit the way it has in the past.

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Robot doctor

At my clinical today they introduced us to the new robots that a doctor can use to visit a patient from another location. (Home, another hospital, etc). The doctor can assess the patient, even zoom in to assess pupils. A nurse can listen to the heart, lungs, bowels with the doctor. There is a phone on it for private conversations and the robot can even print out a prescription for the doctor right then and there. Apparently, these are big in Michigan and California. But Lahey Clinic is the first in the Northeast to get it.

I was really impressed. My immediate thought was, "Are they utilizing these in third world countries?!" The lady I asked said no. A part of me is really inspired to move to rural Cambodia, open a clinic with one of these robots, and give remote farmers the same access to brilliant doctors as you or I. Since I was a little girl I dreamed of being a nurse or missionary in the jungles far away. One of the first books I wrote was called "S.S. Hope" about a nurse on a medical boat. I wrote that in fifth grade. I can't remember the plot line. I should dig it out and read it. Or maybe I should just let it remain a good memory, as the story is probably embarrassingly silly.

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