Me and my kiddo

Me and my kiddo

Sunday, November 27, 2011


At some point in my life I wanted the experience of swimming with a dolphin.  I did that about ten years ago and relished every moment.  The other experience in this category of sometime-in-my-life-one-time-sparkles was flying in a hot air balloon and... I did it last week.  It was so delightful to see the sun rise and the glory of the fall colors over Napa Valley.  I also loved the feel the perfect silence whenever the burner was off.  There are plenty of other experiences on my list of life pursuits, but these two were unique in their nature and the adventure being solidly in the once-is-enough category.  It was very cool to check this off and know the memories will be mine forever.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

History Play

I am an avid fan of Scott Powell's History at Our House program.  He makes history so interesting and vibrant and real and approachable for students!  I love all the examples that history has for teaching about choices and how much I can use those examples in our daily conversations.  Just yesterday, when I was talking about my best friend, my son asked me why were friends and I started my answer by bringing up a lesson from history that Mr. Powell teaches.  Friends share values, not disvalues.  "The enemy of my enemy is my temporary ally."  Considering that my best friend and I have nurtured a friendship over last 15 years, there's nothing temporary about it; it is based on shared values.  Anyway, my point in this post is to share two games that I've been using to keep this awesome historical knowledge fresh for my son: History Go Fish and History Taboo.  

History Go Fish is pretty self explanatory to set up.  I go online and find pictures of the historical figures that have been covered in class.  I paste two copies into a document that I label with the figure's name and print on photo paper.  Voila!  Go Fish cards with historical figures.  That is just the start though!  After he gets the matches down, we don't use the name anymore!  For example, "Do you have Mr. Peace-Without-Victory?"  "Would you happen to have the man who surrendered at Appomatox courthouse?"  "Do you have the unifier of upper and lower Egypt?"  By the time we play the game a couple times, he's had a full review of American history and everything he's learned so far of ancient history and… he loves it.  He loves putting on that sickly sweet voice when he picks a card that I've already asked about and it's so funny to hear him asking in his darling tones, "Oh dear sweet mother, do you have Mr. International Police Power Teddy?"  I can even use it to add information that he hasn't learned yet so the game gets more and more fun.  So, that's game number one, but I have another one too :)
Page one of many before I've cut it up into cards

I fell in love with Taboo at a friend's house and thought this could be another great tool for cementing historical knowledge and having fun.  The idea of the game is that you have a word which you're trying to get the other person to guess, but you can't use four other listed words which are taboo.  The game is played with four people and timers and is much more competitive, but I just used the idea to put together a list and start playing with my son.  I was the one trying to get him to guess and boy did I get to do an extensive review as I tried to get him to say the historical term without using the forbidden, taboo words!  He absolutely loved the challenge and was again getting a really rich review of the material. 
For example, if I had this card:
William the Conquerer
I could talk all about vassals and vikings and France and the country across the channel.  But, I couldn't say the name and I couldn't use the words Norman, duke, or England.  One of the great things to do after he guesses is to share the words that I couldn't say, because that adds to cementing the knowledge too.  For example,
Louisiana Purchase
Thomas Jefferson
After, I've worked my way around talking about a leader of France who traded land for something that goes in a bank with the third president of the United States.  I eventually get a guess and lots of kid giggles and he gets a solid review of this historical event.
I've put together pages of these in columns (which I'm glad to share, just send me an email or leave a note) and I pull them out every couple months for a rousing game.  I have to add the new material when he's sleeping though, because he's so eager he keeps trying to sneak up and see the Taboo clues while I'm writing them!
One page of many that provides lots of historical play (click image for more clarity)

So, I'm thoroughly enjoying how my son is able to learn from the events of the past and to use them in making his own choices.  If you have found other ways of making learning into games, I'd love to hear about them.  This has been such a delightful way to continue enjoying history for me and my kiddo.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My child the budding chef

Cute antics
• declaring before sitting down to eat, "I need a tooth pick for luck." 
• Dousing his yogurt in paprika
• continuing his new chef phase with this:

All I did was go out to pick up the mail from the mailbox!  When I came back, the rest of my goat cheese brie birthday present was on a plate, doused with maple syrup.  He then proceeded to add mango salsa and chocolate chips.  I especially love that he set himself up with a placemat and all the silverware… he considered himself chef, waiter, and client all in one :)

Objectivist Round Up

Welcome to the November 10, 2011 edition of objectivist round up.  I tried to find a good quote about patience since working with Blog Carnival has been a challenge this time.  However, this is the quote that captured me to start off today's edition of the Objectivist Round Up.

Man is a being with free will; therefore, each man is potentially good or evil, and it's up to him and only him (through his reasoning mind) to decide which he wants to be.
Ayn Rand 1946 ~Personal notes on The Strike [later Atlas Shrugged]

Rachel Miner presents Review of "Playful Parenting" posted at The Playful Spirit, saying, "I share some parenting gems that I picked out of the book "Playful Parenting" by Lawerence Cohen."

Benjamin Skipper presents Godiva's 85% Santo Domingo posted at Capital Bean, saying, "Ayn Rand liked Godiva chocolates. Let's try one!"

Darius Cooper presents Uncle Tom's Cabin posted at Practice Good Theory, saying, "Well-written Christian Romanticism, in a book that influenced history"

Alexander Marriott presents The Curse of the Internet: Fake Historical Quotes posted at Alexander Marriott's Wit and Wisdom, saying, "Tired of random and suspicious quotes from Thomas Jefferson and others being used to prove every possible position? Me too. Here I expose some common bogus quotes and offer some tips on the use of historical quotes and how to spot fakes."

Edward Cline presents Firebombing Freedom of Speech posted at The Rule of Reason, saying, "There have been numerous fine articles condemning the November 2nd firebombing of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical newspaper in Paris that dared mock Islam and front-paged a cartoon of Mohammad with the balloon caption, “One hundred lashes if you don’t die laughing.” Needless to say, this act of terrorism is just another instance of censorship by force."

Joshua Gregg presents Liberty and the OWS Movement posted at Persona Non Grata, saying, "Until the OWS movement sheds its collectivism, their message will always be hard to swallow by those who value liberty."

Rational Jenn presents Watching the Wheels posted at Rational Jenn, saying, "Hearing a song on the radio got me reflecting on my decision to leave my former career to raise and educate my children at home."

Santiago and Kelly Valenzuela presents Decreasing Immigration is Bad for America posted at Mother of Exiles, saying, "Latino immigration to America has slowed to a trickle since 2008, but is this as good for America as conservatives would have you believe?"

Paul Hsieh presents In Praise of Capitalist Inequality posted at We Stand FIRM, saying, "My latest OpEd for PJMedia discusses why economic inequality in a capitalist system is something good, not something to be condemned."

Atul Kapur presents Watt and Edison Contra Determinism posted at Wit Lab, saying, "Determinism is the doctrine behind the criticism commonly levied against innovators that "if not him, somebody else would have done it". How did Thomas Edison and James Watt respond to their critics?"

Paul Hsieh presents Hip Fracture Update: 10 Weeks posted at NoodleFood, saying, "Why I'm "screwed" -- but in a good way!"

Diana Hsieh presents NoodleCast #104: Live Philosophy in Action Webcast posted at NoodleFood, saying, "The Rationally Selfish Webcast becomes the Philosophy in Action Webcast! Here's the first episode!"

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.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Review of "Playful Parenting"

I just finished reading Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen for my book club and wanted to document some thoughts.  I took a long time to read this book and I think a big part of that was that the author seems to repeat himself so much.  There are some gems though that can be sifted out of the many examples and repetitive directions.  

The first thing I found while reading was that I had this overwhelming desire to go play with my kid.  The way Cohen presents play as so healing and nurturing and connection building, he makes it seem like some decadent chocolate treat that you just have to go enjoy right now!  Early on in the reading, I put the book down and crawled on my hands and knees into our library where my son was reading. I nuzzled his elbow and gave a little kiss. Silence.  I nuzzled the hip and gave another kiss. Little giggle. By the end, my husband wanted to know what was going on because we were laughing so hard and just enjoying ourselves so thoroughly.  One of Cohen's rules is "Follow the giggles" and I was certainly enjoying it in this context :)  So, the first gem was just looking at play again as a way to connect (reminds me of one of my favorite posts here about humor.
Second, I was a little dubious of his suggestion that older kids would find it funny if parents pretended goofy things.   l was dealing with a common situation in my home, my kiddo was being too rough again and again and I was getting hurt and angry.  I said, "Let's pretend you're my little boy and I'm your exasperated mommy and if you touch me one more time I'M GOING TO…"  He giggled.  Then he touched me so gently with one finger tip.  I play shrieked with agony and fury.  He giggled and finger tip touched me again and so the circle went with solid fun and no more hurts.  I'm intrigued.  I've been amazed by his glee at this kind of pretend and how giggly he gets if I pretend along with him.  
The third idea that I found worth noting was that it may be worth joining in a child's pretend play, even if you find it deadly dull, as a way to help them feel heard and learn to think about other options.  The example Cohen gave was of his daughter playing with barbies in a way that the woman was always powerless and needed to be saved by a prince.  It drove him batty and he hated it, but if he tried to play and alter the script, she would get furious that he was playing "wrong" and adhere to the melodrama even more tightly.  He found that if he played it her way and made her feel secure in exploring that idea, she was willing to consider other ways dear Barbie could act.  The idea of joining in an older child's game that I find boring seemed like a negative choice, a sacrifice that would promote feelings of irritation.  However, I remember how much I did this when my son was younger and how clearly I understood that I needed to respect his context of delight at peek a boo or a shape sorting game.  I wonder if I joined in his video game of exploding worms or his legos that do some fantastical things again and again and again…  I wonder what would happen if I did more than listen supportively and got down on the floor with him in this situations that don't captivate me.  Cohen acknowledges that playing with kids this way, on their terms, is exhausting and he recommends setting aside a delineated amount of time so you don't wear yourself out.  His experience in play therapy is that it helps children connect and feel safe and heard and valued.
I have some more thinking to do about next actions, but I'm glad I read the book.  If anyone else read the book, I'm curious "What do you think?"

Another vote for...

... History at Our House!  My kiddo decided to dress up as a "historical newspaper".  I took some interesting dictation to make this costume :)

Those are pictures of the founding fathers and Lee/Grant and Napoleon and Wilson and Ferdinand and Isabella and Columbus and Da Gama... clearly this daily news didn't happen on the same day, but he had such a grand time showing off his knowledge  :)