Me and my kiddo

Me and my kiddo

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fun Activity!

I got this note from the county where we used to live:

Join families in Thurston county for the library's 2011 Family Read Aloud! Here's the deal: Read aloud every day, and in every room in your house, from March 2 (Dr. Seuss' birthday) to April 12 (Beverly Cleary's birthday). Pick up a free kit from the library beginning March 2 and keep track of your reading time -- then enter a drawing for a suitcase full of books! FREE. March 2-April 12: At your leisure!

I thought it was such a great idea, that I suggested it for my son's school and offered to both write up the work sheets and donate the books.  I just got a response from the principal that we're on!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Feisty Italian

I finally managed to get my Italian singing up to speed for a quick and feisty:

Bel piacere e godere fido amor!
questo fa contento il cor...

To enjoy a devoted love
brings contentment to the heart...

It was a perfect end to our weekly date of singing lessons and now on to the next adventure.  We contemplated another musical instrument since we so loved learning flute together, but dance is the leading contender now... I'll need all the help I can get.  Singing was a stretch for Andrew and easy for me.  Dance will definitely challenge me more!

Other things to share:

This week's Objectivist Round Up.
Cute antics:

• making snow hats for me in the hot tub (Brrrr!)
• trying to cut his turkey sausages by flipping his fork backward (He sees it doesn't work, but he keeps trying it.)
• asking me for a dinner of shrimp and guacamole (I'm definitely succeeding at expanding his food repertoire!)
*Answer to last week's riddle: hands (or feet) in water*

Two pictures of my kiddo looking snazzy in the dentist chair:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thyroid: By Symptom, take two

[Again, skip if you're not interested in the thyroid saga.]

My latest thyroid update is that I'm not sure my issue is thyroid related.  I have seen no change in either laboratory results or symptoms after having weaned off T3. 

So following up on the symptom list... 
1. I still have throat pressure.
2. My hair loss has stopped although I'm not sure which of many actions made a difference.
3. I still get cold hands/feet, but less so this winter than last.
4. I continue to get afternoon headaches that progress to nausea and finally require sleep to resolve.  I have identified three triggers for this most annoying symptom: menstrual period, poor sleep, motion (car rides, plane flights, spinning).  Sleep resolves the issue.  Aleve is the only medicine that can address the pain, but it is temporary and I then feel ill the next day instead.
5. Sleep continues to require melatonin and is difficult to maintain through the night.  I did a trial with adding GABA that showed no change.
6. I haven't been taking consistent temperatures because they are so variable and do not seem to even correlate with other issues.  
7. My weight has remained the same (about 40lb more than my ideal two years ago).  I've continued paleo eating, doing Body By Science workouts and walking.  I am very leery to try Cross Fit because of cortisol concerns.

My plan is to continue Low Dose Naltrexone.  It was supposed to take 3 months to start working and I had two miserable colds back to back starting at about the three month mark i.e. I'm not sure if it has helped yet.  Over the last two weeks, I've been finding I get ill less frequently when I eat twice a day, brunch between 11am-1pm and dinner before 5pm. I've been doing a walk with one sprint each morning except on the one weight lifting day.  Aside from some digestive enzymes with each meal and fish/butter oil, I've only been taking vitamins twice a week.  On those days, I take the multivitamin, 1/2 an Iodoral tablet, Iron, D3, and Mg.  I have noticed no change with the decrease in vitamin frequency and I do want to work towards less supplements.  So, some things are improving and I'm still working to discover what is going on.  I plan to re-evaluate in one month and go from there.  I wish it had been as simple as adding some thyroid hormone for me!  Here's to finding the solution that gets me back to health :)

Experimenting. Parenting. Part Two.

Following up on the success of removing screen time limits, I moved on to the bed time limits. This was fascinating to me because my kiddo actually wanted me to keep the control entirely and I bargained down to less control!

Here is the system we had in place.
6:30-7:30p Green light time: play in room upstairs
7:30-8p Yellow light time: brush teeth, pick books, use bathroom, get ready for bed
8-8:30p Red light time: read in bed with light on
8:30p Lights out: read with touch lamp that turns itself off

The plan was designed together and modified over time whenever it didn't work quite right. It was coupled with a traffic-light-like timer that had the colored lights and he coud reference for himself. (Lots of programming issues thought meant that he had mostly mom reminders.)  Originally, he needed the help. He needed this much time to wind down and actually be able to get to sleep too (just a wee bit high energy).

So... I was noticing that I could skip yellow light time without problems, he'd handle the prep on his own. The adherence to routine which used to be both so essential and so comforting for him was less rigid, less needed. Considering the success of the screen time experiment, I floated the idea of just an "upstairs time". Having adult time in the evening is important for my husband and I, plus the move upstairs helps the transition to less high energy play (harder to do laps... I'm not kidding; he'll run 40+ laps around the downstairs floor plan regularly).  I was willing to drop the red light idea entirely, but he wanted my help. So, I agreed to do a "red light if you like" i.e. I'd give a reminder to move on to reading, but I wasn't going to enforce it. Again, we said we'd check back in a week and see.

Well, we have another success. He took up the responsibility for his own bed time. He figured out that staying up until 9 made him too sleepy and he liked going to bed "in the eights" better.  The challenges of dealing with more severe Autism symptoms are seeming farther and farther away. He has so much more self control and I can pull back and I'm so delighted to see the growth!  The strict adherence to routines and difficulty with self modulation can last into adulthood for those with severe Autism.  While there are still a slew of characteristic Autism issues I'm addressing, they're becoming both fewer and, thrillingly, more available to him to address himself, with help. I can't say enough how much I'm loving this progress. Woo hoo for independence, growth, learning... this is just so uplifting to see!

Food is next on my list. The current deal is: he picks a protein and a veggie and then a sugar. Sometimes I help or he'll do it on his own. He does request a lot more assistance with meals. He has a massive sweet tooth, but there are lots of good options available to him and I'm willing to make this experiment number three. In the same genre of "no limits, show me you can handle it".  Here's to a successful "Part Three" post in the near future!

Sheets? Blankets? Pajamas? Nah... touch light as a book mark and go splat! (From before the experiment even.) 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Objectivist Round Up

Welcome to the February 17, 2011 edition of objectivist round up.  As I've just enjoyed a delightful Valentine's Day with my family, I thought it would be fun to share Ayn Rand's quote on an actress who made delight and romance so real on the screen.

"The death of Marilyn Monroe shocked people with an impact different from their reaction to the death of any other movie star or public figure. All over the world, people felt a peculiar sense of personal involvement and of protest, like a universal cry of "Oh, no!"

They felt that her death had some special significance, almost like a warning which they could not decipher--and they felt a nameless apprehension, the sense that something terribly wrong was involved.

They were right to feel it.

Marilyn Monroe on the screen was an image of pure, innocent, childlike joy in living. She projected the sense of a person born and reared in some radiant utopia untouched by suffering, unable to conceive of ugliness or evil, facing life with the confidence, the benevolence, and the joyous self-flaunting of a child or a kitten who is happy to display its own attractiveness as the best gift it can offer the world, and who expects to be admired for it, not hurt."

Ayn Rand, excerpted from The Voice of Reason, originally published August 5, 1962

This week's Objectivist Round Up:

C.W. presents Debt and Depression: Our Present and Future posted at Krazy Economy, saying, "Another reason to pay less attention to inflaiton right now. The government debt is a bigger threat. Pay attention to the debt."

Miranda Barzey presents The Undercurrent Designed by Me! posted at Building Atlantis, saying, "I did the page design for the February edition of The Undercurrent. And I made an ad too!"

Jared Rhoads presents Behold the 1099-Romney posted at The Lucidicus Project, saying, "Want to see what a Massachusetts individual mandate-compliant tax form looks like? Here's mine. I call it the 1099-Romney."

T Ellis presents A critique of Universal Utilitarianism posted at evanescent, saying, "A deconstruction of the morality of a humanist - and a comparison of such with Objectivism."

James Hughes presents To the Glory of Man « Temple of the Human Spirit posted at Temple of the Human Spirit.

Rachel Miner presents Experimenting. Parenting. posted at The Playful Spirit, saying, "I share some experiments with video / screen time and their results before coming back to one of my consistent observations; trial and error is in the nature of parenting. There's no way to take on the job without lots of those errors and, I've found, addressing them is one of the greatest delights."

Edward Cline presents Islam + Democracy = Islam posted at The Rule of Reason, saying, "In a February 9th interview of Middle East expert Daniel Pipes by Yosef Rapaport, “Analyzing the Turmoil (in Egypt),” Pipes reveals that while he has an intimate and comprehensive knowledge of Islam and Mideast history and affairs, he is sadly and dangerously ignorant of political philosophy. Pipes’ blog site also carries commentaries by guest columnists who echo his fallacies. In this interview, Pipes offers his views on the prospects of Egypt becoming a “democracy.”"

Kelly Valenzuela presents Tancredo: Mexicans are dumb criminals who steal jobs and welfare posted at Mother of Exiles, saying, "Tom Tancredo is at it again. This time at CPAC."

Ari Armstrong presents 'Unlawful Termination of a Pregnancy' posted at Free Colorado, saying, "A new bill in Colorado seeks to protect a woman's wanted fetus from reckless and intentional harm. While the bill has some problems, it explicitly states 'personhood' does not apply before birth."

Kate Yoak presents Why public education won't work posted at Separation of School and State, saying, "It's not just that the kids can't read: the problem is much deeper. I am analyzing the parallels between public education, centralized economies and old failing business.\"

Roderick Fitts presents Current Plans for My "Inductive Quest" posted at Inductive Quest, saying, "A list of projects I'm working on for my blog over the next few months--and years! Hope you're as excited as I am!!"

Thomas Hochmann presents I am not an Anarchist posted at The Objectivist Voice, saying, "I am not an anarchist. There is an objective need for a government, but it needs to be a limited government that is constrained to its proper function."

Julia Campbell presents pork chile verde + ancho chile salsa posted at the crankin' kitchen!, saying, "Take a break from dark, heavy winter chili and make a bowl of chile verde!"

Paul Hsieh presents What Kind of Healthcare Competition Do We Want? posted at We Stand FIRM, saying, "The LIJ journal published my latest health care OpEd in their special issue on the theme of "competition"."

Rational Jenn presents Toddler Things posted at Rational Jenn, saying, "How we're helping our 2.5 year old manage his fears and learn communication and negotiation skills. The tools and skills he is learning today will be useful for the rest of his life."

John Drake presents Independence Day posted at Try Reason!, saying, "The day I realized that independence is a virtue to be pursued."

David C Lewis, RFA presents Roth vs 401K: One More Time posted at A Revolution In Financial Planning, saying, "In this post I discuss what I call the "Monte Carlo Problem" in investing and retirement planning. An ongoing argument over which is better--Traditional 401(k)s or Roth 401(k)s--is revisited."

Diana Hsieh presents SnowCon: Schedule and Registration posted at NoodleFood, saying, "I'm delighted to announce SnowCon -- Front Range Objectivism's weekend Objectivist conference in Denver, plus a few days of optional play in the snowy Colorado Rockies!"

Tom Stelene presents Anti-Gunners to Blame for Tuscon Shooting posted at The Audacity of Independence, saying, "Assuming for argument's sake that the anti-gunners' claims about the Tuscon shooting are correct only goes to show that they are to blame for the massacre."

Roderick Fitts presents Induction of Objectivity (Ayn Rand) posted at Inductive Quest, saying, "My presentation of how Rand reformulated Aristotle's view of objectivity through inductions made concept-formation! I think it's one of my best yet!"

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of objectivist round up using our carnival submission form.


We're reading the hobbit and Cameron has started spontaneously riddling :)  This is what we came up with together:

Smooth skin
When it begins
Aged grooves
That time removes

(Any guesses?  I'll post the answer next week.)

Other things to share: 
The Atlas Shrugged movie trailer is now posted and... there's potential... much more than the original reports indicated... 

Cute antics:
• watching this amazing video of the story of The Hunt for Gollum ( Cameron commented almost studiously, "Orcs are gross."
• doing spelling with me, we do a visualizing exercise with non-phonetic words.  It was recommended by his pediatric eye doctor.  You hang a ball and tap it once for each action.  Say the word.  Spell it forwards (tap for each letter).  Say the word.  Spell it backwards.  Say the word.  The point is that it helps you actually see the word in your head.  I let Cameron pick my word this week and he picked... "house-keeping"!
• He's been a bit confused by all the switching uniforms in The Rat Patrol, a favorite way to be sneaky... still, when I asked "Who's in the German motorcycle?", I got a placid, "Probably a German."
I'm afraid I didn't take a picture of our Valentine's Day celebration until after, but is was lots of fun with red balloons, red candles, red foods, red roses, and a dinner conversation focused on what we each loved about our family :) 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Experimenting. Parenting.

I remember my mom told me that the first kid was always a kind of guinea pig; you learned along the way.  One of my prime parenting techniques for developing independence is offering as many choices as I possibly can.  Of course, sometimes, you have to set limits because the kiddo doesn't have the context of knowledge or maturity.  You don't let a toddler decide to play in the street or a 4 year old watch 10 hours of TV.

Recently, I've been dealing with my kiddo's love for screen time.  Computer games, videos, iPad/iPhone apps... he loves them all.  It hadn't been a big issue until the holidays.  When we visited family, he didn't want to go out at all.  He wanted to play on the phone or iPad.  These items belong to me and my husband, so we could certainly say "no".  At those times, he would play board games or read, but he consistently preferred the screen time.

When we came home from these trips, a new game on his computer and worsening boredom at school combined to make screen time even more desirable.  (I'm in the process of working on all sorts of things for the school issue.)   He also had decided to save his money toward an iPod touch that would get him his own platform for some of his favorite games.   So, imagining the vast amounts of time he would likely devote to games then and, not desiring to be in the position of trying to limit his use of his own property, I brought up my concerns during one of our family meetings about two weeks ago.  My kiddo listened and seemed to hear me and we made a deal that he could have as much screen time as he liked staggered with the same amount of anything-else time.  The maximum was an hour before a break, but that could go back and forth with an hour of each from 8AM to 8PM if he desired.

That sounded like a good plan to me and it worked... sort of.  He didn't fight the timer, it was his deal after all.  He wound up spending lots of time doing things like board games and reading for much longer than the required break and often having lots of fun.  We enjoyed watching episodes of The Rat Patrol together too.  But, there were timers all over and they were set by me and the whole day was broken up into screen time and non-screen time and there were times when what he really wanted was to continue the video game he was playing and didn't have motivation to do something else.  The bored tone was new and not welcome (see the last cute antic here).

So, that set me thinking, am I setting an unnecessary limit?  He has certainly not been a good modifier of his own screen time in the past, but he can't learn without practice and he is 7 years old.  Kids develop self-discipline by practice and learning from mistakes.  I pulled the family together for another chat on the issue.  My kiddo seemed to think it was working OK, but he jumped at the suggestion that we try letting him modify his own screen time for a week and then chat again.

Experimenting.  Yep, I've found so many times that parenting is a prolonged bout of trial and error with the child constantly changing.  So many of my tries have failed, but by noticing, acknowledging, and adjusting, I eventually find something that works... until it doesn't.  The current experiment has been in effect for a little over a week.  Sometimes he plays for two hours, but it's rare.  He still delves into chess and spent well over an hour listening to me read The Hobbit today.  I didn't like the week of timers, even though they were friendly ones and requested.  Our evenings have been a much more pleasant interaction without looking at the clock all the time.

So, I think it's in the nature of parenting and that every kid is necessarily a "guinea pig".  The parent needs to figure out who each kid is and what will most nurture their growth to independence, while keeping the parent sane too.  That is different for each kid.  Not that there aren't principles, but it is a process every time.  I don't think there's any way to parent without this massive process of trial and error which, naturally, includes... errors :)  So, on with my parenting experiment.  I so love this job that lets me improve again and again.

We did get out for a family stroll while visiting my parents.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Rat Patrol

This week, my kiddo and I have shared an old war series called "The Rat Patrol".  It's rather simple, but there's so much social interaction that it's proving a useful spur of conversations (social teaching).  I think he loves the action and I'm looking forward to the episodes that were favorites of my favorite author, Ayn Rand!  (I found out about her interest while reading this fascinating book.)

Other good things to share:
• this week's Objectivist Roundup.
• A huge laugh with this... what about fortune cookies?:
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — More bad news is in the cards for Romania's beleaguered witches.
A month after Romanian authorities began taxing them for their trade, the country's soothsayers and fortune tellers are cursing a new bill that threatens fines or even prison if their predictions don't come true.

P.S. Cute antics:
• "It was the funnest movie day!"  (The kids hung out in the gym and cafeteria while the firemen cleared the school after a fire alarm.)
• suggesting our next ice cream maker flavor: wine ice cream
- and a conversation that occured at 3:34pm:
Cameron: What are we going to do nowwwwwwwwww? (Proper drawl of a bored kid whine.)
Andrew: We're going to sleep.
Cameron: (giggly) Toooooooo Sooooooon!
(It's rare around here to hear a bored kid tone, but what he really wanted to do was only video games.  We've made a deal that he can do as much as he likes as long as he takes the same time break from screen time.  He can spend all day doing up to an hour of video time and then an hour of other if he desires.  That was an "open table" topic that we all chatted about as I was concerned what would happen when he got his own iPod/iPad.  Open table is my precursor for family meetings where we just pause to touch base and discuss anything family related on anyone's mind.)

Having the delight of playing with hard bouncy balls in a racquetball court... nothing fragile and he was a blur of motion :)
Juggling lesson with Daddy

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Loving Amelia

I started reading the Amelia Peabody series this summer,  due to the MOB (Mothers, Objectivists, Bloggers) reading group.   I have found them absolutely delightful!  First, I need to say that I've only "read" the first eight of the twenty novels and only via recorded books performed by Barbara Rosenblat.  I'm sure some of my enjoyment is based upon the engaging performance and distinctive voices that this reader shares, but certainly not all.

What I love most about this series are the endearing characters.  They're fun and adventuresome and spunky and I love spending time with them!  The heroine, Amelia Peabody, makes me smile again and again as she sallies forth to attack the challenges of being a lady archeologist in the Victorian era.  She is properly armed, with a parasol, and about as passionate about vigorously pursuing her values as you get!  She is not just a fiery lady without substance though, she has well thought out positions and uses her intelligence in solving the mysteries.  One of Amelia's top values is her husband Emmerson who is a truly captivating curmudgeon.  He is supremely talented and delightfully unashamed about his attraction and love for Amelia.  The other characters from their devoted helper Abdullah to their precocious child are excellent accents, but these two definitely steel the show.  They are a charming, efficacious pair as they work on archeological excavations in Egypt and somehow manage to solve engaging mysteries too.

I said "engaging mysteries", however I am notoriously bad at figuring out mysteries.  I don't think I've ever figured out a mystery beforehand though.  From Sherlock Holmes to the Dick Francis novels,
I'm always stumped, so you may figure them out.  I've loved the story lines, but again my favorite is these characters that make you want to join in the fun.

Finally, there are many humorous moments which are key to the enjoyment of these novels (see my friend Jenn's post with quotes at the end).  But, there are also some beautifully descriptive passages:
"The beauty of the night was unbelievable.  I have never seen stars so thickly clustered as those that bestrew the night sky of egypt; they blazed like a pharaoh's treasure against the dark.  The cool, sweet air was as refreshing as water after a long thirst, and the silence was infinitely soothing.  Even the distant howls of the jackals seemed fitting, a lonely cry that mourned the loss of past splendor."  That was just a little gem that caught my eye, but if you don't fall in love with Peabody I'd be shocked!  Here are some of my favorite quotes from her website:
"Abstinence, as I have often observed, has a deleterious effect on the disposition."
"Most men are reasonably useful in a crisis. The difficulty lies in convincing them that the situation has reached a critical point."
"I do not scruple to employ mendacity and a fictitious appearance of female incompetence when the occasion demands it."
"It is difficult to be angry with a gentleman who pays you compliments . . . especially impertinent compliments."
"High-minded individuals are more dangerous than criminals.  They can always find hypocritical excuses for committing acts of violence."
"One may be determined to embrace martyrdom gracefully, but a day of reprieve is not to be sneezed at."
"Though I had slept only a few hours, I felt quite fresh and full of ambition. Righteous indignation has that effect on my character."

So, I highly recommend this series for light reading that is lots of fun.  The first book sets the context, but I think my  favorite so far is The Lion in the Valley.  Enjoy the adventure!

After these books and much history studying, I think I'd enjoy visiting Egypt..

...much more than I did at this time...

...when I was about 7 and my sister was about 5. (I remember loving the camels.)

Friday, February 4, 2011


That has been the new game of the week and talk about an awesome tool for practicing addition and subtraction!  My kiddo has even been prompt in telling me how much change I owe him when paying rent :)  He was delighted when he beat me when I rolled snake eyes and landed on his hotels on the greens twice!  Ouch, $1400 swamped me... he'll tell anyone who'll listen every detail about how he destroyed all my houses on the yellows.

Other things to share:
A cool video from my dad of a harmonica performance in Carnegie Hall... it gets so fast!
A particularly amusing version of Cake Wrecks!
This week's Objectivist Round Up.

Cute antics:
• a monologue that could not have been less than thirty minutes about what would happen if giants cut the earth in quarters or bombs in the arctic blew it to smithereens or a host of other catastrophes occurred... occasionally he paused to ask my opinion of the outcome of a particular disaster.

• smugly declaring the next thing that was going to happen in his latest Beverly Clearly book. (He wanted me to read and to know that he knew when the characters were wrong in their expectations.)

The sleep of the fully exhausted

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I absolutely love this idea from this week's On the Horizon newsletter!  What a cool play date :)

Winter Beach Party!

Fun in the Sun
Bring that fun-in-the-sun feeling into your home with a winter beach party. Spread beach towels on the living room floor; wear your swimsuit and a pair of flip-flops (why not?); build a fire so you can roast hot dogs and make smores; make castles out of clay and play-dough; and don’t forget to take pictures!