Me and my kiddo

Me and my kiddo

Friday, December 17, 2010


Hooray!  One room decluttered!  Part of the herculean attempt to keep the house orderly and ready for relators coming with potential buyers is attacking the excess junk priceless stuff in our home.  We're making progress and I'm glad to report one room down!   Spell check seems to think "decluttered" isn't a valid word, but it's precisely what we've been up too :)

Other things to share:
One of Cameron's highlights this week:
Beating his athlete mentor at chess... fair and square!  He'll tell anyone who asks all about it :)

Cute antics:

• noting while reading us a book about antique fire engines, "Of course, there were no skyscrapers in those days.  So, the ladders didn't need to be very tall."

• jumping right in to my goofy "Old McDonald" song as I tried to challenge him with unusual animals.  He asserted the ostrich would go "bonk, bonk" because it's eggs were falling to the ground and the turtle would go "in out, in out" because of it's head.  I stumped him with Old McDonald having an octopus though :)  (Hey, Andrew said the car was too quiet... that's an invitation in my book!)

• singing on our bus tour of the holiday lights, "I want a pet dementor."  (Anyone else for a magical pet that sucks happiness and destroys souls?  I mean, it's such a cheery thought.  At least the next verse was a little more innocuous, "I want a baby walrus.")

• referring to the long bus ride, "I started to feel like a catfish in a wet sack." ( I requested clarification and got, "just slapping around in a sack."  Hmmm, he's getting a wee bit too much out of my idiom dictionary?)

• requesting for dinner, "I think I want some cowhides for meat." (Reading too much "Old Yeller"?")

• getting up at midnight and preparing for school because he thought it was morning time!

• and one that his speech therapist sent me:
SLP: Are you staying home or going on a trip during winter break?
Student: I'm going somewhere cold!
Cameron: He's going to coldville! 

Monday, December 13, 2010


It's amazing how powerfully you can communicate virtues by providing kids with a personal example.  In our reading of "Strive and Succeed: Julius and The Store Boy" by Horatio Alger (engaging stories from the 1870s), we came across an example where the hero, Julius, is tempted to take a wallet of money he has found.  He considers what it would mean to his life and returns it to the owner.  The book states he acted with "integrity".  Naturally, my kiddo wants to know, "What is integrity?"

OK, so... why the candy bars?  The bottom of the Halloween candy bowl has almost been reached and these three have been my kiddo's favorites.  He didn't really understand the idea of a wallet with money and how that would relate to integrity.  He was clearly understanding the words of my explanation and of the story without really grasping the connection to reality i.e. similar to understanding a story's fairy magic.  It was not real to him, within his context of a seven-year-old's experiences.  I asked him to imagine coming downstairs, first thing in the morning.  On the table, he sees a candy bar unwrapped and next to it a Crunch wrapper.  Next to that, there's another unwrapped candy bar and it has a Milky Way wrapper alongside.  Finally, there's a third unwrapped bar with an identifying Snickers wrapper.  Behind this display is a sign that says, "These are for Daddy."  I asked, what do you do?  

This was a vivid experience for him.  He talked about doing the right thing, even though tempted.  He discussed what would happen as a result of each action and saw for himself how the moral is always the best longterm choice.  I just mirrored and observed and WOW, it was awesome!   He is so still a seven year old, boisterous, impulsive kid, but he's thinking more and more long-term and it's a glorious process to watch!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Photo Editing!

Yay for my mom's awesome photo-editting!  Her efforts resulted in a family photo where we're all smiling :)

Other things to share:
• I loved learning about the man who has saved more lives than anyone else in history.  The guy is amazing!!! Maurice Hileman developed nine vaccines and has such an endearing, cantankerous, go-do-it attitude! (Vaccinated: One Man's Quest to Defeat the World's Deadliest Diseases)
• The best cake wrecks in a long time... my husband and I were both laughing out loud!

 Cute antics:
• chanting to a lulla bye tune, "Take the pawn.  It's a good move."  (Um, ya, pawn for queen sounds like a grand trade!)
• wondering why the narrator of my Conquistador film was saying "spanish", he assumed they used to say "spinach" differently.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Objectivist Round Up

Welcome to the December 9, 2010 edition of the Objectivist Round Up.  Since I'm enjoying having my husband home from traveling,  I picked out this quote for the round up:

Romantic love, in the full sense of the term, is an emotion possible only to the man (or woman) of unbreached self-esteem: it is his response to his own highest values in the person of another—an integrated response of mind and body, of love and sexual desire.
“Of Living Death,” 
The Voice of Reason, 54.

Here's to ample time with loved ones during this holiday season!  And, now, this week's Objectivist Round Up:

Burgess Laughlin presents Neoconservatives' two forms of mysticism posted at The Main Event, saying, "One element of neoconservatism's grave threat to America is its two levels of mysticism. Both forms provide a rationale for neoconservatism's metaphysics of supernaturalism, its ethics of altruism, and its politics of statism."

Miranda Barzey presents My Future Plans posted at Building Atlantis, saying, "A breakdown of my interests and career possibilities and where I'm going with each."

RickMarazzani presents Celebrate a rational holiday with the Atheist Christmas Coloring Book posted at MindPosts, saying, "The Atheist Christmas Coloringbook was made by an objectivist for his rational kids."

Edward Cline presents Obama’s Emerging Enabling Act posted at The Rule of Reason, saying, "Long, long ago, in a world far, far away, philosopher and cultural critic George Santayana in 1905 noted that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”*

Have Americans learned from history? Have they any core knowledge of the past from which to draw wisdom, conclusions, and rational guidance?"

Rachel Miner presents Holiday Letter posted at The Playful Spirit, saying, "My playful take on the annual holiday letter. I have a grand time writing this each year. Multiple choice tests are such fun :)"

Tony White presents Post 2: A Favorite Paragraph in The Fountainhead posted at Peripatetic Thoughts, saying, "The second post on my new blog is an essay on an aspect of The Fountainhead. I spent a fair amount of time on the piece, and I think it will be of general interest to Objectivists. I am not any kind of libertarian or "tolerationist"; I have a brief discussion of myself and the blog in my first introductory post."

Rational Jenn presents TSA: Let's Play the I'm Gonna Touch Your Junk Game! posted at Rational Jenn, saying, "I am repulsed by the TSA's efforts to try to make scanning and groping fun for the children. This is an opportunity to teach children (and other adults, for that matter) about not giving your sanction to intrusive government policies."

Benjamin Skipper presents Planning and Acting as Therapeutic posted at Musing Aloud, saying, "As some may know by now, currently I'm going through a period of immense frustration in my life where I'm trying to oust a problem I've been dealing with my whole life, but cannot get rid of as quickly as I'd like. Throughout this ordeal I've learned a great principle on how to deal with long-term problems and maintain one's mental health in the meanwhile, and I'd like to share it.

Note: I have to speak cryptically because I'm hiding the nature of my project from certain people. I use the word *P*roject to denote this specific endeavor, to separate it from my other projects, and *C*ircumstance to denote the problem that's driving me to these means."

Ari Armstrong presents Roads, Not Walls posted at Free Colorado, saying, "This short talk continues with the theme of the open road versus the closed wall, suggested by John David Lewis's "Nothing Less Than Victory.""

Kelly Valenzuela presents Why "Illegal Immigrant"? posted at Mother of Exiles, saying, "Guest blogger, Santiago Valenzuela, has been on a roll lately with great posts about immigration reform. In this post, he explains why he prefers to use the term "illegal immigrants" vs "undocumented immigrants.""

Lynn Peters W presents Bernie Sanders and his "Amazing Speech" posted at The Lone(ly) Vermont Objectivist, saying, "A dissection of Vermont's socialist Senator recent speech to the U.S. Senate from a rights respecting perspective."

Paul Hsieh presents A Day In The Life Of A Neurosurgery Resident posted at We Stand FIRM, saying, "What does it take to become a brain surgeon? Will we still get the same kind of men becoming doctors under ObamaCare?"

Diana Hsieh presents Productivity Versus Productiveness posted at NoodleFood, saying, "What's the difference between "productiveness" and "productivity" -- and why does it matter?"

David Lewis presents extremism in eating: eat to live or live to eat? posted at david in real life, saying, "Extremism or the art of searing (meat)--is an "extreme" diet really such a bad thing? Do I need nutritional egalitarianism? Do I need diversity in dieting? Do YOU?"

Greg Perkins presents Rebooting The Objectivism Seminar posted at NoodleFood, saying, "The Objectivism Seminar has been running strong since it started back in 2007, and now we're going to launch a new series for helping people systematically study Objectivism!"

Gene Palmisano presents Politically Correct Psychosis posted at The Metaphysical Lunch, saying, "The dangers of political correctness"

Jeff Montgomery presents Mount Falcon Snow And Sun posted at Fun With Gravity, saying, "This is a trail run that started out stormy-looking but had a surprise weather change."

Sean Saulsbury presents Privacy Paranoia posted at, saying, "Some thoughts on privacy with respect to companies vs. the government."

Valery Publius presents After the Election, the Tea Party Protests Must be Ongoing posted at, saying, "Do Tea Partiers need to revolutionize their understanding of morality if they want to continue to repudiate the current political regime?"

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of objectivist round up using our carnival submission form.
Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Two Highlights from the Train Ride

Twenty hours traveling from Seattle to Sacramento in a sleeper car was quite the family adventure!  We had a lovely family celebration of Thanksgiving.  As for those highlights:
• Hearing over the train's loud speaker, "Ladies and gentlemen, you cannot send children to the lounge car to purchase alcohol." (What a laugh! They went on to mention that such actions happened to be illegal.)
• A glorious several hours reading and watching the afternoon sunshine warm houses, trees, rivers, barns, fields, and various other parts of the countryside visible from the train tracks.  So peaceful :)

Other things to share:
Objectivist Round Up

Cute antics:
• describing an ornate house we saw from the train as an "orange cake frosting house".
• stating he was"quizzing by like I was about to be whizzed"
• asking a question that answers itself, "Why does this elevator smell like a honey bucket?"
• feeling Andrew's sharp teeth and stating, "It looks like you have too many canine teeth."
• responding to my statement that he'd made it through to this Thanksgiving with a gleeful, "Without being kidnapped once!"
• requesting that we "toggle gravity"
• telling his 11 month old cousin to "look at the camera"
• informing me that he was supposed to be winning because, "We're opponents, that's the point."
• responding to my note that the counselor session wasn't more than play i.e. that we were going to stop going with, "Of course it's play; that's what kids do."  (Well, when he's right, he's right.)
• continuing with his new word for "release", I tickle him and he says, "Will you please un-imprison me."
• responding to my playful, "You're being fresh." with, "Of course I am!  Why else would I be as nice and fresh as a vegetable!"

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Holiday Letter

As Chanukah begins, lets get the annual holiday letter out there!

... and the text in an easier to read format although I'm not going to fight with making everything line up. Remember, we're in low maintenance blog zone until moving is complete :)

Hello to all our friends and family,
We have had a full year of fun and lots of changes!  Once again, I've reviewed the year's calendar and come up with a multiple choice quiz.  So, here's a fun review of our news for everyone!  :-)
1. This year Cameron turned:
a) seven and had a party at GymStarz Gymnastics
b) seventy and tottered up Everest
c) seventeen and left for college early
2. Leaving Microsoft: Live Labs to work at Kima with his two best friends, Andrew has:
a) started the process of working one week in San Francisco and three from home each month
b) become an expert at Craigslist and Ebay ads while we de-clutter and try to sell the house
c) regained his passion for long hours spent tackling a problem that fascinates him
d) intensified his passion for his new iPad and shared computer games like Zelda, Myst, RushHour, Angry Birds, and TrainYard with his son
e) become a fan of his son's indoor butterfly habitat or all of the above
3. While Cameron has been excelling in first grade and successfully working through challenges with the help of both his classroom and special education teachers, he spent time outside of school:
  1. indulging his new passions for legos, chess and visiting his Athlete Mentor
  2. listening to Mom read the full Harry Potter series, Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings and reading himself  Beverly Cleary novels like Henry Huggins and Mouse and the Motorcycle
  3. jumping all over his parents as he practiced Jiu Jitsu and the house as he showed off his new appreciation of goofy slapstick
  4. dressing up as the "daytime sky for Halloween" or a through d
4. Rachel and Andrew took a(n):
a) trip to Crystal Mountain where Rachel didn't die skiing, but did get tobogganed off the mountain
b) group of many hundreds of essays to grade for the Ayn Rand Institute 
c) weekly voice lessons and dip into artistic bliss with the arrival of a huge painting titled "Inspirational living" in honor of our 10th anniversary
      d) pause in our routines for hosting pleasures with visits from blind friends, grandparents, and Objec-
tivist lecturers in history, economics, and values.
      e) polar sled ride or a, b, c, d
5. As a family we:
a) went on our first overnight tent-camping trip
b) paddled our new canoe on local lakes / rivers
c) shared our fondness for musicals including HMS Pinafore
d) gathered and pressed our backyard apples into cider
e) built a tree house where we now eat coconuts all day or a through d
6. Rachel relished mom-hood, her new love of connoisseur chocolates, beginning a parenting blog, creating autobiographical memory boards for Cameron, growing a veggie container garden, visiting her favorite childhood spot (Sea Ranch), and extra fun with: 
a) attending the Olympics 
b) apprenticing as an online history teacher
      c) tackling the challenge of her funky thyroid and her bronze statue's whacky wax issues
      d) hiring an in-home masseuse that pampers her every hour and happens to be a gourmet chef or just 
too content with a-c to turn over that much time to pampering... yet :)
We hope you've all had a wonderful year!
Happy Holidays,

Friday, November 12, 2010

Happy Husband

I have a very contented husband :)  He's working on thrilling stuff.  He's comfy and enjoying desk deliveries of tea, coffee, goodies.  He can video chat with his buddies / co-workers whenever needed.  He's still fighting a nagging cough, but hard work on interesting stuff is good medicine for making him happy.  So, first week of working from home was a full success!

Other things to share:
• awesome poem
• History Through Art FREE lectures continue!  This is great fun for elementary grade kids :)  
• This week's Objectivist Round Up

Cute antics:
• responding to Andrew's comment, "You may be getting better at chess than I am." with, "Then we might as well play a game!"
• after reading about how Sauron "lacked" only the ring to gain full power again, he asked us to explain what lack meant and then he commented "He wants to un-lack it!"
• comments from Lord of the Rings Clue:
"Suppose Galadriel was a bad guy carrying an axe in Rohan."
"I've never seen Sauron with arrows in his backpack."
"Suppose Sauron is guilty of sneakily holding a battering ram on his head in Hobbiton."
• Now, the Lord of the Rings Clue is slipping into our regular Clue game.  Just put on your imagination cap and picture each bit of this suggestion from my kiddo, "I suggest Colonel Mustard took one huge revolver, big as a battering ram, in the ballroom."  (Hmmm, under such a weight did he waltz or perhaps tango?  Such actions would certainly give away the identity of the murderer!)

Awww, my happy reader sound asleep with a book on the chest.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Imperative vs. Experience Sharing Communication

I just wanted to note this article that highlights the difference between imperative and experience sharing communication.  Basically, imperative communication is a direction or question.  Experience sharing communication is commenting in an inviting way, but it does not demand a response.  While the article is from an Autism source, I think balancing these forms of communication is a challenge most parents face when speaking with children.  I certainly remember that it took conscious effort for me to modify my communication.

I was wondering why it is so easy to fall into this directive communication pattern with kids and I think it is because we are used to deciding their actions at first.  While we can use experience sharing communication with infants, they are not going to respond in kind.  You can say, "I heard the tire pop and I was so surprised.  Then, I felt sad because I knew we would miss the party."  It's wonderful to get into the habit of experience sharing communication, but the infant will just shriek with surprise and the young toddler will probably just cry about missing the party.  It's much easier to tell an infant what you're doing and to direct your toddler with what you want.  But, children are always learning and experience sharing communication offers kids the chance to learn (and model) this more rich and respectful communication.

I've found experience sharing communication to be a powerful tool in helping me enjoy parenting my son more.  It's so much more pleasant to weight our conversations on this more interactive side and to literally share our life experiences with each other.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Key Article On Perspective Taking

I've shared this article with my son's teachers and special education team because I think it so nails the key issues that I see with my kiddo.

This is the most relevant part for me because I find these challenges consistently describe him:

Impaired Interactive Perspective Takers (IIPT)

The impaired interactive perspective taker (IIPT) is the student who looks like everyone else at school, at least initially. The IIPT students have solid to advanced cognitive skills with solid language development. They have a lot of information about the world and will comment openly about their areas of interest. Socially they are very interested in pursuing peer relationships and they understand the “superficial social rules,” meaning they are aware that there is an underlying rule-based system that helps to negotiate social situations. They can tell you the more concrete social rules “stand in line,”, “say please,”, “don’t interrupt,” however, they have a great deal of difficulty perceiving how those rules apply to them. They have poor self-awareness. They are far less aware of the more subtle or sophisticated rules or non-verbal signals that help to mitigate social relationships as students’ age. While these students may appear “normal” on the outside, there are differences in how they process and respond to the more socially abstract information. It is not uncommon for younger students with IIPT to turn in their peers for breaking rules on the playground, while not being aware that the act of turning in a peer breaks a far greater social rule. Their struggles with social interpretation and abstraction become more evident as they age given the increasing complexity of social interaction and academic interpretation.
They are called “impaired interactive perspective takers” because their greatest deficits become apparent at the moment of interaction with their peers. Adults are far more flexible in accommodating to a single-minded conversation, but peers are unrelenting in their requirements that interactions be reciprocal. Peer based interaction requires not only the formulation of thoughts one might wish to communicate, but also persistent monitoring of how others might be interpreting or responding to the message so that the message can be adjusted as needed to meet the needs of the communicative partner. This is a social executive function task...
...In addition to the social challenges (which often lighten up a bit in high school), as these bright students go to college some of their greatest challenges will come from their failure to seek assistance or clarification, and from their organizational/problem solving weaknesses. While we might describe these folks as having a “mild” disability, given their many academic or cognitive strengths, actually due to their difficulties learning the complex skills of functioning as adults, their deficits are not at all mild. Many parents call my clinic to seek assistance for a 20 or 30-year-old child with IIPT who has not developed skills for independence with regard to life and work skills.
This group has the greatest likelihood for full adult independence, however, they may be slower than their neurotypical peers at achieving it. As they get older they also become more keenly aware that they are not able to process social information quickly and efficiently. This can be a source of great frustration that does not calm just because they are getting older.

Even if these folks make the choice to live with fewer opportunities for social interaction, they desire to be able to function in groups and to have close friends. They are generally terrific, friendly people with a good sense of humor when they feel comfortable."
I think it will be especially helpful for me to work on these areas where kids, who have had challenges similar to my son's, have found difficulties as they grow.  Of course, my kiddo is unique, but I love to take advantage of knowledge and strategies that others have discovered! :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Not so wobbly

A crazy, hectic week, but... things are coming together!  The moving idea isn't quite so new and startling.  I've had the juggling challenge this week of getting ready for a massive garage sale and keeping the house in some semblance of order for prospective buyers.  Lots of hot and sweaty days hefting boxing and sorting through piles of junk, um, valuable stuff I mean :)  It's amazing how your perspective changes when you want to de-clutter!  

Other things to share:
Brilliant guy lays out some key economic issues!

Cute antics:
• climbing up, past where he was supposed to, at children's therapy center, jumping into the pillows, and then:
Therapist- I was scared.  Were you scared?
Cameron- No. It was a great acrobat performance!
• chucking his glasses in the sink (A bit of a surprise for me when I came across them under a plate while loading the dishwasher.)
• recommending bad chess moves, "Want to trade a queen for a pawn?"
• declaring gleefullly, "I got kentucky!" (loving a new iPhone game where he stacks the states) 
Me: You're my little boy.
Cameron: I'm nobody's little boy.  Yes, I am an orphan you know.
Me: Oh?  What happened to Daddy and me?
Cameron: You died in a car crash.  Luckily, I had a rope tied on so I didn't die.
(????  Well, I'm doing pretty well for a walking corpse!)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Objectivist Round Up

Welcome to the November 4, 2010 edition of the Objectivist Round Up.  This is the first week of my husband working away from home and I came across this quote on loneliness.  I have been too busy to get really lonely between preparing for a garage sale, keeping our home in a semblance of order for potential buyers, and parenting my son.  I found this quote an elegant presentation of why lonliness occurs and one value friends offer.


The thinking child is not antisocial (he is, in fact, the only type of child fit for social relationships). When he develops his first values and conscious convictions, particularly as he approaches adolescence, he feels an intense desire to share them with a friend who would understand him; if frustrated, he feels an acute sense of loneliness. (Loneliness is specifically the experience of this type of child—or adult; it is the experience of those who have something to offer. The emotion that drives conformists to “belong,” is not loneliness, but fear—the fear of intellectual independence and responsibility. The thinking child seeks equals; the conformist seeks protectors.)
 “The Comprachicos,” Ayn Rand

Here's to sharing that value with each other via this week's Objectivist Round Up!

Burgess Laughlin presents Rauf's mysticism in "What's Right with Islam ..." posted at The Main Event, saying, "This, the second of three posts in a series, examines the role of mysticism in Imam Rauf's book, _What's Right with Islam is What's Right with America: A New Vision for Muslims in the West_. The puzzle to be solved is why Imam Rauf does not advocate for mysticism in a popular book addressed to Jews, Christians, Muslims, and even "secular" New Agers. The answer is more disturbing than advocacy."

Edward Cline presents Watersheds of Anger posted at The Rule of Reason, saying, "For the past two weeks I have been embroiled in a fight to either regain the publication rights to my Sparrowhawk series of novels from the publisher, MacAdam/Cage Publishing in San Francisco, or to be compensated per contract for the sales of that series. I am awaiting the consequences of a breach of contract and rescission notice recently and justly served on that publisher by an attorney for nonpayment of royalties and delinquent royalty statements. I have been engaged in this conflict for three years. The breach of contract notice is just the latest episode in this unwelcome and mentally exhausting adventure."

C.W. presents The Attraction of Free Medical Care: Egalitarianism posted at Krazy Economy, saying, "Why do people in countries with socialized medicine revolt against the poor care and poor conditions? Why isn't the issue of care a primary concern with supporters of socialized medicine? It is the ethics. It is always the ethics. It is egalitarianism."

Aditya Pawar presents The Right to Petition Government for Redress of Grievances, Part IV posted at Axiom, saying, "Fourth installment in the Right to Petition series of blogposts."

Aditya Pawar presents The Right to Petition Government for Redress of Grievances, Part V posted at Axiom, saying, "Fifth installment in the Right to Petition series."

Rachel Miner presents Autism Conference: Generalizable Tid Bits posted at The Playful Spirit, saying, "I share some generally useful tips that I gleaned from attending a full day Autism conference."

Trey Givens presents The Price of Free Speech posted at Trey Givens, saying, "Hsieh Hairgate spawned what I think is a pithy observation toward all these people who bemoan what they call the price of free speech. I want to make sure everyone has their feet on the ground regarding the actual price of free speech."

Jared Rhoads presents A Republican voter, if you can keep me posted at The Lucidicus Project, saying, "My message to conservatives is that I've given them a Republican voter... if they can keep me."

Diana Hsieh presents NoodleCast #41: Live Rationally Selfish Webcast posted at NoodleFood, saying, "I've officially begun a weekly live webcast for practical ethics questions. Don't forget to submit and vote on questions for the next installment, again on Sunday morning."

Ari Armstrong presents Don't 'Privatize' Social Security, Phase It Out posted at Free Colorado, saying, "What often passes for "privatizing" Social Security really isn't privatizing it at all. Phase it out instead."

Martin Lindeskog presents GOT TEA PARTY ON NOVEMBER 2? | EGO posted at EGO.

Paul Hsieh presents PJM OpEd: "GOP: Dance With The One Who Brung You" posted at NoodleFood, saying, "In my latest PajamasMedia OpEd, I explain that I voted for the Republicans because I want limited government and fiscal responsibility -- *not* the social conservative agenda."

Jeff Montgomery presents Partial Non-Defeat! posted at Fun With Gravity, saying, "This is a quick response to the election results."

Jeff Montgomery presents Green To Falcon 4-Park Run posted at Fun With Gravity, saying, "Recently I did a long run where I connected several scenic Denver parks. Photos included."

Kelly Valenzuela presents You Work for Uncle Sam Now posted at Mother of Exiles, saying, "Guest blogger, Santiago Valenzuela, comments on the E-Verify program."

Kelly Valenzuela presents The Visa God posted at Mother of Exiles, saying, "Yes, there is a "visa god" in India."

Kirk presents Life: Capitalism's Motive Power posted at A is A, saying, "An article that investigates what the real motive power behind capitalism is."

Michael Labeit presents Defending Rich People posted at Michael Labeit at

Rational Jenn presents More About Halloween posted at Rational Jenn, saying, "As we headed into Election Week, I got to practice my persuasive skills with a smaller elected body--our homeowner's association. And when I was unsuccessful, we engaged in a bit of civil disobedience. Good practice for the bigger challenges!"

Roberto Sarrionandia presents Tuition Cap Increase is Not Enough posted at Roberto Sarrionandia, saying, "Why caps on UK tuition fees are not the "fair" option"

David Lewis presents long-distance relationships suck posted at david in real life, saying, "Have you ever chatted up that cutie on facebook, emailed that hottie on, or maybe you were like me and decided to get brave on David Veksler's Then, you find out your "perfect someone" lives so, so far away. What do you do?"

Miranda Barzey presents Figure Modeling: Your Questions Answered posted at Building Atlantis, saying, "What I've learned so far modeling for the art community in Atlanta."

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of objectivist round up using our carnival submission form.
Past posts and future hosts can be found on our
blog carnival index page

Monday, November 1, 2010

Autism Conference: Generalizable Tid Bits

I had the pleasure to attend a full day conference entitled: Supporting Children with High Functioning Autism and Aspergers Syndrome in the Elementary Setting (K-5th).

It was so cool to go to a conference center and sit down in front of a TV and join 18 other sites from across the state calling in to listen to this material.  All the sites could interact with the presenter too, asking questions directly which the other sites could here.  It was very cool!  

The screen showed presenter / slides / books and it showed whomever was  asking a question.  I had this nice room to myself except for a few hours in the middle.

I figured I would share the generalizable tid-bits from my notes:

• Kids will often say "I don't want to" when "I don't know how to start" is the problem.

• Consequences: 
-Don't think punishment, think of a better way for them to communicate the need and offer that alternative.
 - All behavior is communication.  When dealing with an undesirable behavior, add the word "need".  "Why does (child) NEED to do (challenging behavior) to get "their" way?"
•Thought filter-  The idea that any thought is OK, but it is filtered by thinking before action.  You can do a neat activity by showing kids making coffee in a pot with and without a filter.

• Develop a personalized 5 point scale for your child.
- One axis: 1(calm) to 5(meltdown)
- Columns for each topic:
It looks like
It feels like
"I can try to calm down by"
I need the adults near me to"
(This can be a great activity for parents/teachers to do too.)

Finally, I took away a slew of useful tips for my kiddo's recess challenges and this great way of describing one of his key challenges with adults:
-High functioning kids with Autism LOOK typical, but it is vital to understand the neurological disorder and to work at root causes when dealing with their behavior.  They are often *deceptively verbal* because they have a huge gap in their ability to take perspectives.  This manifests in numerous ways, but is particularly problematic in classrooms where, if they think something, they automatically think that you know what they are thinking.

My kiddo has made so much progress in these areas, but he still struggles and it was great to have the forum for asking questions, discovering resources, and... enjoying the bonus of save myself 5 hours of driving because of this awesome technology!
(Taken last week) My kiddo developed pretend play two years late (typical for kids on the Autism spectrum), but he's doing pretty darn well now!   I just love his enthusiasm  :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Quick Questions

Because I so enjoy my friend Lynne's blog and she asked for answers to this list of questions, I'm complying with a smile.  I'm definitely classifying this as a "personal" post, so feel free to skip if my tastes or experiences in various areas make no different to you.  I  even like her enough that I'm answering both sets of questions :)

Question set one:
1. What book from your childhood do you remember the most, and why?
The Count of Monte Cristo
My dad read this to me when I was about ten and I just loved how everything clicked into place.  It was absolutely a gleeful delight to me!  Reading it as an adult, it's still masterful, but the primacy of revenge makes it less appealing to me.  As a kid, it was all about joy that everything worked so perfectly in the intricacies of the story.

2. What type of music do you enjoy the most? Please include examples!
Sappy love songs: As Time Goes By, Always, It Had to Be You, I Swear, Through the Years, Always and Forever, Unforgettable, The Vows Go Unbroken, You and I
Some jazzy stuff like "In the Mood" and Natalie Cole and lots of oldies
Almost ALL secular holiday music.. all year round
Classical is usually spotty-
Rachmaninoff... nearly sobbing at the symphony
Ravel: Bolero
Chopin: nocturnes
Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue
Tchaikovsky: Sleeping Beauty
The overture to Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves when the french horns come in.... mmmm, mmmm that's powerful stuff!

3. What subject do you find most challenging (to teach or to learn)?
Teach: singing.  It's a skill that I never practiced the academic way and I have no clue how to teach someone anything but the lyrics.  I don't mind breaking into song with the most tone deaf of friends though!
Learn: precise stuff.  Computer programing would drive me batty (even the idea of hours spent finding a misplaced comma makes me cringe).  Painting tiny figures where every dot counts or decorating a cake with a geometric pattern by hand.  I find those kinds of strictly precise requirements brutal to even attempt and no fun!

4. What is your favorite hot drink? Bonus points for including the recipe!
Decaf Americano with heavy cream and two teaspoons of a cocoa macca blend (you can get the powder at Whole Foods).  

5. About what new book, movie, or TV series do you want to let others know?
Hmmm, Star Trek: Next Generation and Jeremy Brett's Sherlock Holmes are the two TV series I've most enjoyed with my husband.  We don't get TV so these were purchased and certainly aren't new.  My back log for books is so huge, that I don't usually get to them new.

Question set two:
1. What is the most exciting thing you’ve ever done?
Take off for Israel when I was 17 and travel the country on weekends alone.  Perhaps a little foolish at times, but it was thrilling! (Picking up Atlas Shrugged in Jerusalem, during that year, and finishing it in Poland was pretty earth shattering too.)

2. What is the most meaningful thing you’ve ever done?
Parenting.  Parenting as a career focused on excellence gives me a deep joy as I see my son grow into a different human being because of my actions.  Seeing his peers, especially in the special needs classrooms, and how the parenting effects them, I know how different a person he would be with poor or even eclectic parenting.

3. What is the general activity you enjoy doing most often?
I do love baking (even though I'm gluten intolerant) and singing (hours at a time) too.

4. What do you like most and least about blogging, if applicable?
Most: The community.  I have found so many dear friends with fascinating insights :)  I also like that I can clarify my thoughts.
Least: The rare feeling that it's a chore.  I just don't blog then though, so there's not much negative.

5. How do you feel about Colin Firth?
I've never seen or heard of him except mentioned on my buddy's blog.  Maybe when I get through my backlog of Hepburn, Grant, and other movies, I could be initiated?  Recommendations?

OK, out to enjoy a day full of sunshine!  I may see more of these in San Francisco, but they're a glorious treat in Seattle during the fall.  The air is so clear too... it's going to be grand :)

We're in a no-regular-smiles phase... just goofy ones for anyone who  is given permission to take his picture.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mommy, Teacher... Mixed Roles

An email from a friend inspired me to tackle this question because I've had similar issues.  Fundamentally, parents are their kids' teachers in a vast number of ways.  However, when it comes to academics, there is a different role of teacher that is distinct.  Certainly, many parents homeschool and take on that role of curriculum organizer, lecturer, teacher, homework helper, or any combination of the four.  I think the key is recognizing that this is a distinctly different role and must be approached that way to be effectively addressed.  I had a ball playing with letters and colors and shapes with my toddler and he was enchanted too.  He also loves some fine motor work, but writing is not his passion.  I can play lots of games with writing, but that doesn't change that he doesn't love it and that it also remains a vital skill that needs to be practiced over time.  So, when a parent takes on the job of education in a more complete, formal way, it's not like the toddler games where if the child isn't interested in "Q" you can skip that letter.  The more formal education requires an adult using their greater context to impart  fundamental knowledge to a child.  The child does not have the context to know what is most important to their success and thus can not be expected to be completely self-motivated.  That is not to say that we don't do the best we can to attach academic material to their values, but there will be times when a kid doesn't fully get the importance of a lesson until a later time.  That presents a key challenge for any teacher, but especially a parent who has a vast roll of emotional, independence nurturer as well.  A school teacher can be clear that it is their job to teach a certain material and a child can relate to them in that manner without really liking them.  If a parent succeeds in teaching arithmetic at the price of a trusting, positive relationship, that's a big problem.  As I've contemplated this issue, I've come up with three suggestions.

1. Decide on the Importance
Is being your child's academic teacher worth the challenges?  Where does the roll rank in your values considering your current: location (local schools),  parent-child relationship, time availability, and career goals?  Over the summer, I did "Mommy School" and found that my son gradually resisted more and more.  As long as I changed things, he was happy.  But, any kind of consistent curriculum that would cover a subject was resisted even if the individual lessons delighted him.  Now, this was a summer, playful time and I could just swing with it.  If he didn't want to do a particular conceptual building block, say in Dreambox math, he didn't have to.  It wasn't my job to construct a hierarchy of knowledge without holes.  I was just supplementing with quality information.  That doesn't work for creating a curriculum though.  One need only look at social studies curricula with lots of scattered lessons that do not integrate to a whole and are impossible for even the most enthusiastic student to retain.  There's nothing wrong with a little summer study of Madagascar, but if my son's entire knowledge of geography was little bits of different countries that happen to interest him over a ten year period, I couldn't expect him to retain even those bits and certainly not to gain any historical understanding.

2. Make a Deal
If you decide that it is in your best interest to take on the teacher roll, make a deal with your kiddo.  It is amazing how creative kids can be when presented with an issue.  Asking them, "What will we do on days when we don't feel like studying writing?" can result in a slew of intriguing ideas!  The most general way I've found of tying education to kids' values is to link it to their thirst for independence.  Once we get past that toddler drive to learn some basics, older kids often need help seeing that link.  My kiddo decided he wanted to be an airplane engineer, so... when his handwriting was sloppy, we could chat about how confused another engineer would be if he left a note.  He might even misunderstand and build the wrong part!  Voila, improved efforts to write clearly.  That's more specific, but most kids have a general desire to be independent and can understand that being able to write or add up their own groceries is important to eventually MAKING THEIR OWN CHOICES.  This is a key, motivating idea at my house and I imagine it will help others too.  If you can make your deal with a solid motivation (because your kid can see that the knowledge will help them be independent), and you also get their creative suggestions for what to do when motivation lags, you're set up for a more likely success.  (I'll add the deal should be written down both for reference and clarity.  Also, it should be modifiable after the current instance.  With our bed time deals, we've modified them often together, but it's not at 9pm when he decides he wants to change things.  We talk about it the next day and modify as needed but, usually, because we developed the deal together, he decides that he doesn't want to change it.  Keeping the deals flexible keeps them relevant and effective for your needs.)

3. Recognize that It Will Always Be a Challenge
Fundamentally, it will always be a challenge for a kid who does not have an adult context to see the value of some aspects of a complete, foundational education.  While I think the best motivator is that glorious drive for independence (making their own choices), there will be gaps in their interest for a particular lesson that can't be skipped due to its requirement for later understanding.  I think expecting those challenges and planning for them can make them less distressing.  I don't think there's anything wrong with looking at deals that recognize a kid's different context and offer a motivation more closely tied to their immediate values.  For example, I can imagine a deal where after completing school on a blah day Mommy Teacher and Student Child earn a joint outing to the ice cream parlor.  Recognizing that everyone has their down days is just being honest.  Talking about the overall motivation, while helping kids over the hump makes sense to me.  I certainly do the same kind of thing myself, like finishing the mail before jumping in the hot tub :)  Of course, the challenge is making sure this doesn't turn into a reward system with everyday being a blah day so that it ends in a trip for ice cream.  I've found that bringing up those concerns in the original deal-formation-stage works beautifully.  I get the look that says my kiddo understands that I understand and we chat honestly about choices.  (Again, I recognize the difference in kids!  I know my kiddo is a major talker and loves to process like crazy.  I can imagine lots of quieter kids would rather just have brief reminders of the deal and continue on.)

So, I have been thrilled to find adults that can be my son's academic teachers and allow me to be his supportive guide.  I like keeping the rolls separate, but flexible.  As we prepare for an upcoming move, my son has said he wants to do "Mommy School" until we come back to our current location.  If I agree to that, I will certainly sit down with him and make sure we are completely clear about what that means and what I need to make that interesting to me.  He just turned seven and he can understand that I'm not interested in nagging... he learned the word "impatient" quiet early!  Now, if I'm slow or don't respond to questions, he'll tell me in his little, grown up voice, "Mommy, I'm getting impatient!"  Ah, the joys of "I" language and having a kid who really gets it!  We don't attack each other with "you" language in this house, so I know whatever solution we work out for schooling over the next year, we'll all be able to say, "I'm happy with the deal."

Learning chess... now I keep coming down in the morning to find him playing himself.  Somehow, he 's always the one who gets "the other guy" into check mate! :)