Me and my kiddo

Me and my kiddo

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Family Photo

Taking family pictures is always a challenge.  Cameron particularly dislikes the posing and smiling repetitively which leads to lots of photos of him looking miserable.  We've had lots of discussions about this too and things are getting smoother... we even got a decent photo this year!

Aside from a photo, I have the latest cute antics to share:

• referring to the way he's catching up to me in Chess as similar to the way India's faster growth rate sets it up to catch up with America in wealth (This kid definitely thinks in historical terms all the time!)

• helping me bake cookies, adding the teaspoon of salt, and then dropping the spoon right into the bowl of the spinning mixer without any pause.  (He was surprised at my yelp, but I got the mixer off and the snapped, plastic spoon removed before our cookie dough was filled with little plastic bits!)

• informing me there were four quarts in a galleon (um, that would be gallon, but what a hysterical visual)!

• not liking the results of a request, he asked "Can I change it to opposite day?"

• coming home saying that his teacher was better at everything and the substitute was like a "dictator of the classroom"!  (We had a chat comparing different teaching methods that lasted a good half hour, but it's cool that he thinks his teacher is the best!)

• spurring a delightful exchange when I posted to Facebook, "How does my child cross the road? Guesses? I'll give you a couple hours and I promise a chocolate bar if anyone guesses!"
The list of guesses was hysterical and then I finished off the story:
Rachel Miner During our latest trip to the coast, I saw my child walk back on the opposite side of the street. I was curious; the rocks he likes to climb on are, of course, next to the ocean. He told me he crossed the road in an usual way. How does my child cross the road?
Underneath! Through the storm drain!

• walking into our downstairs bathroom and exclaiming, "Wait a second, this is a half-bath!"  (Um, we've lived here 9 months?!?!)

• giving a high five by clapping his two hands around the person's held up hand

• telling the tester who had the answer key on the desk, "Don't let me see that!  I know it's the answers!"

• correcting our good bye of "have a nice day" after looking outside and seeing it was dark, "Have a nice rest of the day, because the day has practically passed."

• listening to The Hobbit on his iPad (keeping it near his ear walking to and from the car and carrying it around the house too!)

• while we were rough-housing, "Pardon me, I'm escaping."

• also while we were rough-housing, "But you can't do it that long!" (Win at rough-housing.)

• groaning, "Daaaaaad! You exaggerate me!"  (Um, he meant exasperate.)

• when I added that there was no meowing while I was reading out loud to him, he responded with, "Moo!"

• spelling dwarves "duvres"… um, that's one problem with so many audio books!

• after I was thoroughly exasperated post multiple episodes of whining, melt downs, and rudeness, I pointed out some of the facts and asked Cameron what he thought might help someone feel better in such a situation.  He sighed, "All right.  You can take ten dollars from my bank account."
(I couldn't help laughing at the unexpected response!  I didn't think I had a laugh in me at that moment, but he found one. It's not like he's ever been charged for immaturity, but he must have thought ten dollars would make me smile.  I went for a hug.)
His major chore is to load the dishwasher.  I did it on Andrew's birthday so they'd have more father-son time together.  I asked Cameron what he heard and, when he noticed the dishwasher was going, he said, "My mother's kindness warming my heart."  

and another…
Cameron loading the dishwasher going from singing Pirates of Penzance to the Can Can!
(This kid needs so many constructive outlets!  We decided a long time ago the home furniture was not a battle worth fighting (obviously different rules in others' homes.)  I was surprised when he even tried the items at the end, but it's impressive how "no words" can work as a tool if the kid already knows!  He really has made huge developmental strides and he's getting there, but regulating is hard for him!)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Well... I asked Cameron to get me the mail and...

... he explained that the package was stuck so he needed to wiggle the box and it was still stuck when he used two hands and... at least I stopped him before he brought the whole post and mailbox into the house!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Sea Ranch

I love this place!  I've been visiting since I was a little kid and just speaks to a place of deep happiness within me :)  So, some pictures of our latest family vacation along with the latest cute antics!

• "You seem to be doing that through a fit of oomphs."  (Andrew kept hugging me while I was talking.)

• after my birthday breakfast in bed, "Want a Lego carrot? Remember this is my only Lego carrot.  It's a memory of me."

• singing the birthday song with a formal, "dear mother"

• providing an hour-long running stream of reading the road signs including pronouncing MPH as "mufup"

• commenting on the restaurant soup, "They made it just right for my standards! If I had twenty bowls of it, I'd eat it all!"
• picking up my use of "dear" for Andrew and using it complete with an exasperated tone whenever his dad is doing something silly, "Deeeeeear, stop tickling me!"

• informing me, "I think taxes should be a dollar and there are a lot of people so that should be enough."

• responding to his dad's metaphor that a good essay was like the ceiling in that you can't see the seems with, "You can't just make it all endless sentence with ands and stuff!"  (Guess he got the teaching about run on sentences and he did, eventually, get the point about transitions too!)

And a joke that Andrew found that had me really laughing:

Descartes walks into bar
The bar tender says, "Want a beer?"
Descartes says, "I think not."
Poof.  He vanishes! 

Family meeting: Latest Application

So, what's the latest challenge we've tackled with our family meetings?  I'm sure we're the only ones who have ever found a child's attention wandering during teaching!  Ya, so all of you that always keep your children's undivided attention can just skip this post, but for the remainder who have joined me in this challenge, this may be of some interest!

My husband is helping our son with writing and with the more complex math problems that come home.  I'm the helper for everything else.  (My son has learned how to tackle the first round of homework independently, so he only needs me for checking and when he gets stuck.)  So, we're both sitting down to help him with a thinking challenge and finding... 

he's looking at a hang nail
he's toppling off the stool
he's repeating what we say without understanding
he's taking every action to avoid thinking possible.
Naturally, this fills his parents with patience and warm fuzzies as they try to help him learn and spend 3/4 of their time in focus-assistance.

Family Meeting!

My husband and I faced the same challenge, we wanted to help him learn but we didn't want to waste our time.  Our son heard our problem and shared his need to move but also not be distracted.  We both presented the issues as problems for us to fix together without name calling or accusatory tones.  We came up with different ideas for each of us.  I was willing to allow one minute breaks per ten minutes, because that wouldn't take too much of my time. However, my kiddo's work with his dad requires at least a half hour of focus.  So, we came up with our plan.

Before my husband starts teaching, our son will use the bathroom, eat, and make sure that he's ready to focus for 30-40 minutes.
Before my kiddo calls me for help, he'll make sure he's ready to focus.  I'll wait for one minute while he takes a break every ten minutes and he'll take longer breaks after finishing any given task.


We've been at it for a week and there's a definite improvement.  He's still been known to wander over to a couch or roll off a shelf, but he responds to a quick reminder and we knew this would be a process!  

Our family during a recent family vacation... notice my kiddo's foot sticking out, but there was no way he'd bring his face forward into the light!  Oh well, we pick our battles :)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Family Meetings

There are a huge number of ways to do a family meeting, but the general goal is for each family member to be able to be part of the process of making the family run smoothly.  For a long time, we just discussed issues as a family when they came up and it worked.  My kiddo got the feel of rational conversations to address anything that wasn't working well.  He got used to sharing his ideas and learning to listen to the ideas of the other family members too.  About a year ago, we decided to designate a regular time each week when we'd have a family meeting.  This allowed us to follow up on old business, bring up new issues, and make sure that we were all happy with the way we were interacting.

We start our family meetings with compliments.  Each person gives each of the other family members a compliment.  Not only does this help us focus on the positive, it also helps us recall times during the week when we admired each other.  About six months ago, I was thinking about the growth vs. fixed mentality* and decided to add one more thing to this intro, a mistake.  So, each person also shares a mistake that they've made during the week and what they've learned from that experience.  The goal here is to make mistakes OK and recognize them as part of the learning process.  I want my kiddo especially to see how common it is for grown ups to make mistakes and how the important thing is how we respond to those opportunities.

Once we've all handled sharing our compliments and mistake, we review old business.  That basically involves pulling out the sheet of topics from the last meeting and seeing if the decisions worked or need to be tweaked in any way.  It also includes updates on status if one person was trying to make something happen.  For example, I brought up my kiddo getting a bit better at swimming to reach a level of safety that would serve him well.  We talked about the idea and then the lessons and timing and came up with a plan that made everyone happy.  I went off to do the research.  In the next meeting, I reported back that our best option was not open during the fall, but would reopen in March (check, item placed into my Getting Things Done system and out of the family meeting queue).  If old items include a new plan like a homework routine without nagging, we see if it worked and if everyone is happy or if more tweaks are needed.  These conversations remain very open and focused on solving a shared problem of the family.  My kiddo learned very early on that we don't call names in this family so even lively arguments about best options don't involve insults.

Finally, we open up the floor to any new family business.  Has someone been noticing that it's too loud to get to sleep or the socks never seem to wind up in the laundry bin or there isn't enough computer time?  We talk about whatever a family member is experiencing as a problem and tackle the best next actions we can take to make the situation better.

So... family meetings?  Do you have them?  Do you have any interesting tweaks that you've added like my mistake addition?  I must say that we've had some of the best times sharing mistakes, laughing, and clarifying what we've learned!  In the comments, I'd love to hear what has worked for you!

* The idea here is that a fixed mindset sees intelligence/skill as something fixed i.e. I'm smart/skilled or dumb/clumsy.  In this view, failing at something means that you're dumb or just bad at it so kids don't try.  They want to succeed at get the smart/skilled label.  The growth mindset sees intelligence/skill as something responsive to effort i.e. I'm smart because I worked hard or skilled because I practiced.  In this view, failing is part of the process of getting smarter and more skilled.  It's expected, normal, and shows you're doing something right because you're trying something where you didn't know the answer or skill already.  Of course, talent is a factor, but even a prodigy needs to practice and work hard to learn.  The growth mindset reflects the reality of how people learn.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Nine Years Old

My sweet child has turned nine!  This is a mostly cute antics update, but it's worth noting that he's growing in so many ways.  While still socially/emotionally young, he's growing and learning at his own pace... this is definitely a kiddo who marches to the beat of his own drummer and, while challenging, that can be really delightful :)
... and the antics:

• insisting that I was being "too literal!  (Oh, the irony!)

• deciding to lift the silent treatment on me (which I hadn't noticed was placed) because I started laughing about making the same mistake that he had just made.  (He started reading comics while listening to history class and was thoroughly miffed when I stopped playing the class.  He was apparently giving me the silent treatment while he continued to read comics.  Then I started laughing because I had tried to write an email and realized I'd missed the last minute of the high school history class (which I listen to) so I had just done the exact same thing (tried to focus on two things that needed full attention at the same time).  Apparently, admitting my mistake and finding it funny earned me suspension of the sentence... he continued to read quietly though after telling me that he'd canceled my punishment.  I also hopefully modeled that it's a pretty easy mistake to rectify by replaying the last minute of the class recording... I often get major push back with that.)

• when listening to me chat with my mom about the psychologist's praise of me, she asked him if he agreed and he answered, "It's a long way of saying that, but Yes."

• spelling "social" shoshol

• playing a game where we made up a funny phrase with a given set of letters, for W,N,C he came up with "what a nutty Cleisthenes" (He does like him though!)

• saying 9 million flies got into our house and then adding "I'm over exaggerating!"

• opening the door to the empty classroom and sing songing like in Animaniacs, "Hello classroom!"

• correcting me when I reminded him that Wednesdays are half days, "No, they're minus two days!"  (The day lasts two hours less, not precisely half of the usual day.)

• insisting "I didn't fall for the trick." (I was mentioning how video games can trick kids into expecting rewards after a little work because that's how they're designed, but real life often requires lots of hard work before a reward.  He was adamant that he wasn't tricked… we'll see :) )

• being so overly eager to do his chores that he brought in the trash cans before the garbage truck came!

• describing for me extensive details about "fief cats" (After a half hour of describing these cats in his game, I wondered and asked him if he meant "thief". He'll still get that sound mispronounced and for the first time, he seemed to actually want to correct the problem.)

• responding to my mom's story of seeing a great white shark while scuba diving with, "You're a very risky woman!"
• calling shivers "personal earthquakes"

• when Daddy answered a question with "hmmm", Cameron said, "Give up the noncommittals and give me a committal answer."
Enjoying his chocolate sundae as a birthday breakfast :)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Found Some Awesome Table-side

I have a passion for table-side restaurants because it just feels so special and sparkly :)  I am thrilled to have finally found a place here that offers me this kind of delight!

Cute antics catch up:

Picking Lord Nelson for himself as a historical character he'd like to be and then proclaiming me "Joan of Arc"… I commented about my thoughts on that idea and then he chose "Marie Antoinette"… not sounding much better and then his dear father piped up "Helen of Troy"… well, that's not so bad (depending on which ending you pick)!

"Mom, go to the bathroom!" x 10 repetitions.  He was upset because I wouldn't let him climb on me because I needed to pee (but wanted to hear the rest of a story Andrew was telling me).  The irony of hearing that from him after all the hundreds of times he'd done the antsy dance and refused to use the bathroom… Andrew and I got a good laugh!

When the dishwasher detergent cake had part of the center fall out, he laughed "Oh, how humorous!"

Putting a sign on his door reminding himself to wear pajamas (If he wears clothes to bed, they count as pajamas and he needs to change in the morning.  He hates changing from clothes into clothes and clearly prefers having worn pajamas just so he can avoid that trial.  He had one morning of distress because he'd fallen asleep in his clothes and didn't want to change... that was the same morning he tried to wear his pants inside out when he finally did change!  I don't fight over backwards, but inside out is too much!)  

"I like how progressive Dad is in his work." (He clarified that he meant Andrew was making progress.)

considering trying a family canoe again, "Sure, I'm not as grouchy as I was in the past."

Cameron's homework that he typed and picked out the pictures for someone he admires and his family.

I picked .Lord Nelson .because he was very good at defending  England from Napoleon.                

This is me with my mom and dad.I love my dad because he's strong and he works hard.I love my mom's snuggling and niceness.

Friday, August 31, 2012

And... off to school

I now have a third grader who has survived the first two and half days of school without major incident, yay!  I really like what I've heard so far about the efforts to keep him challenged in the classroom, so now we'll see how all the nice words play out in action.  It's been an awesome start :)

Cute antics:

• using the intonation of Animaniacs' "Hello nurse" to greet me, "Hello person!"  

• getting all profound when I told him I was feeling sad over a wilting rose given by my sister because I really wanted it to be a plant that lives a long time… he said contemplatively, "Well, people face sadnesses in life."

• accidentally giving himself a giant hicky on each arm

• when Andrew said he would "possibly" have time to play games, Cameron asked, "Can you move your possibly to something in my favor?"

• flooding the sink and then asking in a curious manner, as he cleaned the water up from the floor and cabinet, "Why did I have to flood the sink?"
(Conversations on learning are getting more and more common around here.)

• setting a new record in his spontaneous need to literally run off energy; he did 111 laps around the house.

• poking at my foot and saying, "I'm feeling the intricate-ness of your foot!"

• telling his psychologist, "If I was really playing [chess], I'd clobber you." 

• "If I saw a tsunami, I'd say 'Yaaaaaa and run like heck."

• singing to the Pirates of Penzance tune, "Take hugs, take any hug, take any hug, take mine." (…and giving me an awesome hug.  Very cool!)

• conversation:
Mom: Tell Dad what you did to make the macaroni with me
Cameron: Things!
Andrew: Things?
Cameron: Things, he said vaguely  (speaking of himself in third person)

History go fish is up to over sixty pairs and he still begs to play!

Friday, August 24, 2012

"Mommy School" Summary

As we draw to a close of the summer, we near the end of this summer's session of "Mommy School" (Cameron's term for his learning with me over the summer).  We've had a particularly positive experience and again learned more about how to work together and how to adapt learning methods so that we're both enjoying ourselves.  I think the biggest challenge was when he would want to be right so much that he'd argue about something like an algebraic fact.  He'd get so upset and insist that, for example, -2+(-3) = 1.  We did all sorts of things to help work around this block and were eventually successful, as usual, once he's learned something, he insists it's a "piece of cake".

The biggest challenge for him academically and we made tons of progress.  I offered choices at the beginning of the summer, and, we still weren't finding something that he was eager about doing.  My first big break through was suggesting he write me lego instructions for how to build something.  It worked beautifully!  He was interested and he learned about being precise and he had some enjoyment.  We found he was getting to dislike it more and more though as it just seemed too long to him, so we decreased the number of sentences and focused on writing them with particularly good handwriting.  Finally, three weeks ago, he was resisting again and we tried decreasing amount of writing to learn cursive.  Wow, he did his first run through the cursive alphabet the first week and has been writing 40 cursive words each day for the last two weeks and his writing is already better than his print!  He likes the idea of being able to write faster :)  Also, throughout the summer, he's been doing a typing program and getting faster and faster with that!  So, with cursive and typing, we're working on the physical difficulties of writing and by writing each day, he's getting better at expressing more detailed ideas.  It's still the subject he puts last each day, but he's improving!

We completed both the Ancient (started well before the summer) and the European History at our House classes this summer.  Considering how much writing is a challenge for him, I took dictation for the tests and review sheets, but he did really well on them (especially considering he moves so much when listening and sings to himself often so that it's hard to imagine he's listening).  We're still keeping the knowledge current through my use of History Go Fish and History Taboo.  To finish off the summer, we're listening to some of the History Through Art classes which he skipped during the first listening because he wanted to hear what happened next in the story.  We also completed a college course in mythology lent by my dad which was lots of fun!

It's gone through many different implementations, but over the summer, Cameron has practiced math each weekday and learned or cemented his knowledge of: all basic arithmetic (including long division and multi-digit multiplication), fractions (including finding a common denominator), decimal word problems, exponents, square / cube roots, negative numbers, and basic algebra.   While he often doesn't remember the correct way of saying what he's doing, he understands these manipulations of numbers and seems to really zoom through these subjects.  He does have an investment in doing well and will sometimes reject something new as a threat to his view of "I'm good at math."  We work on developing that growth mentality i.e. finding something challenging is good, it's the way it should be and part of learning something new, not a threat to his current skills.  For the last three weeks of the summer, I finished up introducing new material and had him practice mixed arithmetic drills so that he could brush up on quickly getting responses to those questions.  (I was noticing that he'd occasionally get stuck for ten seconds on an arithmetic question and need to figure it out instead of having it memorized.)

A little older picture from when we first started algebraic equations… now he doesn't mind if the variable is squared or cubed and, yes, he does have pants on, but he rarely makes it through the homeschool day without taking off his shirt.
Overall, I'm quite pleased with our summer experience.  We were really flexible and listened to each other and he grew a great deal.  Reading isn't on our list because I just do that a bunch naturally as does he.   He's always been at least three or four years ahead in reading (started reading before age three due to hyperlexia) and I've found any measurement or even tracking of reading tends to rapidly turn him off.  (I fill out the occasional request from school for a reading log for him without letting him know because his motivation gets so drastically reduced if he hears about this.)  I'll definitely take advantage of this flexible approach in the future to keep us enjoying learning together!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Creation Concoctions

My kiddo likes to create concoctions of various foods and I'm all for him making his own food, as long as he eats it.  This latest was particularly questionable, but it was devoured so... add quirky tastes to all the other quirks of my delightful kid!
Voila! Bananas and raisins covered in ketchup and pimentos and olives and surrounded by cheese

Cute antics catch up:

• getting this very grand, announcer voice and making official declarations of the obvious, such as "I dub thee reader" when I'm about to read to him or "You are exiled to the shower" when I'm going to take a shower.

• while practicing cursive and catching his own mistake, "I better make my oops be a good oops!"

• giving me a good laugh when my timer went off for us to watch the Mars landing live… Cameron jumped up and opened the door to go out on the deck :)  (Um, a wee bit too far to view with the naked eye)

 • while we were rough housing and I was pretending to eat different meat from Cameron's body he told me, "You can have some bottom meat, too!"

• responding to his history teacher saying, "He [Napoleon] was the greatest land power and Britain was the greatest naval power." with, "Just like Athens and Sparta!"  (I just love this finding parallels!  When I came down in the morning, he'd created a huge, lego ship... starting his navy.)

• surprising me by coming up to me and scratching my back for the first time and then declaring "That should get me out of a few years of purgatory!"  (That's what you get if a kid learns about indulgences as "get out of purgatory free (cards)" which infuriated Martin Luther into writing his 95 theses!)

• recalling his Anne of Green Gables knowledge, he remarked on a fly's death that it was a "romantic way to die for a fly" and then told in detail how he was using the literary reference (in which a mouse drowns in sauce and Anne thinks it's a romantic way to die).

• dictating this email:
Note from Cameron to Dad
I want to fix this and I don't want you to yell and have this be a big disaster, so please tell me how I can fix it.  I didn't realize how hard the brass was on the door.
Bye, your faithful child,
(Downstairs bathroom door swung too hard so the lock piece on the handle indented the wall.  It was really an accident waiting to happen because there was no door stop and it is a small dent too.  We'll just place a wall door stop.  We already ordered it together, so Cameron is fixing the problem by paying the few dollars.)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


How cool that my kiddo is getting into fencing!  Tonight, he followed his Dad and watched an adult class too!  I'll append Cameron's dictated report on the experience!  Here are a couple pics and the latest cute antics too.

Cute antics:
• doing division with decimals, "Seven into zero? Zero.   Seven into dot?  Dot!"  (The problem was 7 divided by 0.021489)
• requesting extra reading time by leaving me a note on my pillow, "Extra time by Cameron"
• responding to my question about how he figures out negative number equations with, "I usually just look it up in the math dictionary and it gives me the answer."  (When I asked where that was, he pointed to his head.  He definitely thinks differently!)
• when I was explaining the word "distain" I used the example of Poobah in the Mikado and he chuckled, "The patricians had distain for the plebeians in Rome!"  (Ya, he's got the idea... he particularly liked the story of the two plaebian secessions).

Daddy Fencing
by Cameron

Dad and I walked into the Fencing place.  When we arrived, in the waiting room, there was a teacher teaching another class of Saber fencing.  It was the same teacher that I have.   Sabers have a bigger guard with a metal thing around the grip.  Saber fencing is more slashing than poking.  
We were a little early.  Eventually, Dad sat down and said, "I'll let you play a little bit." and handed me his phone.  I did a little bit of Trenches.  That's a video game meant for the phone but can be played on the iPad.  Then I played a kind of technology Cut the Rope, there are a lot more things to make the ball move to different places.  I played that until it was time for Daddy's fencing to start.
First, I'll talk about what I was doing during the lesson and then I'll talk about what Dad was doing.  First, I watched Dad standing on the other end of the wall, just looking and thinking this isn't very interesting.  When I overheard someone saying that you could hop in fencing.  Then I got up and practiced a hop in fencing.  Then I got multiple temptations to climb onto the top of the wall and lie down.  There's a wall between where the fencing action is and where the waiting room is.  It's not a very tall wall.  Eventually, I did climb and faced forward.  It made me feel a tiny bit like a tiger resting in the shade.  Then I was looking and thinking, "Oh, Dad exchanged a play with her and I was like, Woah, her hair is kind of like a man's."  It was yellow, but kind of big, pushed back with a little front and a lot at the back, everything was pushed back.  Dad taught her a few moves like an under slope which I immediately went and practiced.  You dip under and pick up the enemy blade and then immediately lunge, immediately extend and you automatically poke them and bend the sword.  Foils are supposed to bend and they must have been very handy long swords.  It is a kind of long sword.  Soon after that, I learned you should point your blade directly at your enemy instead of diagonally at your enemy's head.  Then one of the teachers told me to get off the wall and I did.  Then it started to get darker and darker and darker outside and I got boreder and boreder and boredor inside.  Dad was probably having a lot of fun.  Until 1,999,999 years passed and then Dad finally came out and said we could go and fencing was still going on.  
That was only my part and I'm not really sure how to kind of put myself in Dad's perspective.  Dad kept trying to teach his opponent a bunch of things until they switched and they started playing with other players until finally I didn't notice him anymore and started looking off and thinking about beeping little things on the opposite of the gym.  There were little cords connected to suits for fencing for a score.  Dad was the one who pulled off the little jump thing, the hop.
Overall, I thought it was pretty boring and a waste of time.  At least I got to play a little bit of video games before.  I learned some things that I might value in the future.  Fencing at home with Daddy is more fun.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cute Antics Update

It's been awhile since I've updated with cute antics here!  So, here goes and I'll add some pictures too :)

Cute antics:

• playing history taboo, he got a wee bit excited when he figured it out and yelled, "The Decapitation of Prague!"  (That would be "defenestration", but he got it after I started laughing.)
• when promising to do his writing work as soon as we got home, "I swear upon my honor is that good enough!"
• with imaginary pistol and lots of vigor… chasing sea gulls.
• asking, "Can you read some Star Wars or are you trashed for bed?" (After we laughed and explained how trashed is usually used, he continued…) "So that got enough energy into you to do it please?"
• overhearing me say to Andrew something about a playful, teasing compliment being perhaps in a depreciating tone, Cameron called over, "If you're being sarcastic with Mom, JUST TELL HER!"

• responding to his dad's teasing about all the spicy foods we could include in dinners with a dead pan, "You're fired as a dad."  He added after the laughs,  "Not really."
• Sprinting to the stairs yelling "Frisbee for action!" and then explaining how he was going to defend me from a burglar by throwing a foam frisbee at him.
• asking "Could you write me any skip the dinner for free cards?"  (Perhaps a wee bit too much fun in iPad Monopoly?)
• looking at his bowl of soup that didn't seem to be getting smaller and commenting, "This soup is having a reincarnation problem."  (Um, no that would be he was tinkering with legos and not eating, but it was an amusing use of the word I'd just explained that morning during his myth class!)
• expertly  putting together the multiple pieces of a word problem and then declaring, "So now we have our interaction party!" (And then verbally acted out of the various steps with drama.)
• setting serial timers for himself to monitor his iPad playing
• stating "I'll collapse when I'm done." and proceeding to run 80 laps around my parents house before bed time... ya, just a little energy.
• after I'd mentioned hearing the stomping for several minutes told me he hadn't been sitting and focusing while brushing his teeth, he grinned and told me, "No, I was marching around my room and thinking about the French Revolution."  (Is it any wonder he looses focus on doing a thorough job!  He literally marches to the beat of a different drummer... challenging and delightful :) )

• "Of course every concoction needs chocolate chips!" (Responding to an incredulous look when describing his latest meal concoction of tomato soup, cream, dolhma insides, and... chocolate chips.)
• after a teasing guilt trip from my dad, Cameron responded with this elaborate compliment and then proceeded to tell us through his laughter that he wanted to keep up the "drama".
• playing clue, "I suggest Grandpa did it with his compassionate candle stick!"
• responding to the query if his philosophy of life was "eat drink and be merry" with, "No, video games, Calvin and Hobbes, and staying home."
• playful teasing, he grabbed my bra and kept meowing like a cat.  When I responded "Let go of my Bra, Azriel", he replied, "All right gargoyle!"  (Um, he hasn't watched Smurfs in awhile, so his take on "Gargamel" was a bit off.)
• getting hungry while the hippos were snoring in his Dance Mat Typing computer program, he spent all week referring to the feeling of hunger as the "hippos' curse"
• pondering after he'd thrown a pencil in frustration, "I need a better way of expressing my last straw."  (It's awesome that he can contain this kind of thing at school.  We're working on those better expressions at home where he feels more comfortable.  This was the first time I heard him pondering on his own and it was cute that he added part of an idiom :) )
• dictating a fun thank you to my parents :)
Thank you for inviting us to your house.  One of my favorite parts was being on the scooter.  I liked the speed and being able to go around the neighborhood.  Particular hills that were very steep and just places to go were great. I liked playing UNO the most with Grandpa.  I like how dramatic Grandpa is when it comes to UNO Attack, like patting the machine when it doesn't give you cards and when it does just scowling at it.  I also liked the Clue game because you're really good at it and I really had to think about it.  You said your suggestions with such intensity like the person had done a real murder and you were upset about it; that drama was particularly fun.  You might not have seen it, but I was pooped after those a hundred laps and when I got home, no, I did not do 111 laps, I only did 30.  But, I don't think I wanted to do 111 laps after how exhausted I was.  Rooney was a good dog and I like him.  I mean "Is a good dog"; it's not like he's dead already.  I like that he's nice and good to pet.  Thanks again!

• these two history smiles:
We've had a double dose of history delights!  First, the Dawes Plan? Where America basically sent money to Germany so Germany could send it to Britain and France so Britain and France could send it back to America... well, my kiddo was listening to me read The Great Brain last night. The Great Brain rigs this plan where the allowance money is going in a circle so that he gets all his money back and doesn't have to do the chores. My kiddo declared that The Great Brain was like Germany and this was the Dawes Plan of Adenville, Utah! How's that for learning from history! Yay for History at Our house
Then, we did long division! Oh, what a morning of giggles! He decided to make it more interesting by describing attacks of numbers early on in the division as pyrrhic victories as he continued down the seven digit number!  Enjoy the video and smiles of a kid who really loves to show off his knowledge :)
This is the video description I posted: We've been integrating all my eight year old's math knowledge by having him do everything from fractions with finding a common denominator to exponents (we just started talking in more depth about decimals throughout arithmetic, so that's a newer skill) and then, the goal was proper ordering of the results from lowest to highest (including negative numbers).  Here he chooses to make long division more exciting by turning it into a battle!
• and dictating this letter to his prior teacher / classmates in Washgington:
Dear Mrs. Kier and her scholars,
Thank you for the letters book!  I like how it was so organized and it was beautiful, even in black and white form!  To answer some of your questions, I don't have a pet yet, but I'm going to get twenty pet ants and then I'll have lots of pets.  I'm getting twenty ants for an ant farm and to watch it on the kitchen counter.  I'm living on Laurel Road in the Santa Cruz mountains in California.  No, I don't like hamsters, but I've never met one so I don't like them, but I don't necessarily hate them.  No, I don't have a lap top, but I do have an iPad that I bought from my dad!  I'm not used to having the iPad yet, I'm not used to it being mine, so I usually try to do good time with it. There are lots of games I like on there.  I'm trying to use it not too much and not too little.  My school is Vine Hill Elementary and I like it.  Now, I'm doing "Mommy School".  Mommy School is just school at home.  For math I do, decimals, parentheses, multiplication, division, exponents, fractions, percentages and negative numbers.  For writing, I'm telling my mom how to make certain things out of legos… writing down all the steps.  You remember Dance Mat at school?  I've gotten up to the Yak level in typing.  The Yak level is the first animal in level three.  I'm also listening to this guy called Rufus Fears who's really an expert at talking about myths and he's a country famous history teacher.  We watch a video for thirty minutes of him doing his thing.  I also listen to a history class on European history.  My favorite part so far is the Hapsburg sandwich.  I think it's not Hamburg because there's a city in Germany called Hamburg.  Sometimes, I run around and play on the deck which is big.  I usually pretend something, make up this game where it's basically one player and I make up the other players.  In a real game with real people it would take four people with four weapons and each person would play separately. I like Calvin and Hobbes a lot.  Sometimes, I spend over an hour reading Calvin and Hobbes on Dad's bed!  
This summer, I finished lego camp a few days ago.  It was basically practicing making a basic lego car, windmill, and golf putter through one whole week of stuff.  There was one whole part about how to program the legos to do what you want.  There were lots and lots of sensors.  There was even a lego brick that's like you're arm.  I liked the motors; that's what moved them.  Soon, I'm going to have a chess camp and fencing, somewhere in the summer at least.
Oh my, there are a lot of banana slugs around here.  A lot of weeks ago, I found a lot of slave ants running everywhere and I found one banana slug and the ants were getting stuck in the banana slug slime.  A banana slug is just basically a slug that is pale yellow and can be really short or really long in banana slug form (but long is more likely).  Putting their slime on your fingers is like putting super glue on your fingers and then trying to get it off.  It sticks really well!  You have to wash it off with a dish rag with water on it and it takes awhile!
Thank you again!

Climbing on a eucalyptus log at the beach

Reveling in the fact that I was nervous and he wasn't

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Romantic "Extras": The Fun Work of Keeping a Romantic Relationship Vibrant

This is a topic near and dear to my heart!  I just love the sparkly moments that make your heart sing with love for your partner.  What could be more cool than focusing on how to make those moments happen?!?!  Most couples know that it's delightful to share loving "extras" with their partner.  The key conclusion of my ATLOSCon talk was, in fact, making those efforts to do something special isn't really "extra", it's part of the essential joy of a vibrant romantic relationship!  Wanting to share loving actions with a partner isn't the challenge for most people though, it's figuring out how to make that happen effectively over the life of a relationship.  It's fun!  It's work!  It's worth it!  Happy couples know it's fun to share these moments and they also know that it doesn't just happen, it takes work to make them happen.  Finally, it's worth it.  This person is the one you have chosen to cherish.  If you want the best possible joy in the partnership, it's worth the investment in romantic "extras".  In the talk I shared three tips which I'd like to share here too.  I'm even going to be talking this Wednesday on the Philosophy in Action podcast about this cool topic!
Find Out What Makes Your Partner Feel Loved
Always Be Collecting
Find out what makes your partner feel loved.   Of course, if you've been with a partner for awhile, you know some of the things that they like, but that's not what I'm talking about.  It takes a serious conversation to find out what really makes them feel that overwhelming, joyous I-love-you feeling.  This is different for different people.  For example, I love anticipation.  My husband will buy me a gift and give me riddle hints for a week and I just revel in that glorious anticipation of some kind of fun... what could be more grand than knowing there's an especially cool something selected for you by your love and you're getting closer and closer to enjoying it?!?!  My husband finds anticipation to be a horrible, upsetting, anxiety-producing experience.  If I want him to feel loved, I can get him a surprise, but I need to just present it.  In this context, I would not be communicating love if I did the same things that make me feel loved; I'd be torturing him!  Finding out, having the conversation, is so important to gaining that most in-sync level of joy in a loving relationship.  It may require some time and introspection for you or your partner if you haven't really thought about what feels most loving, but it is time well spent.  Also, preferences can change!  You may find flowers the sweetest gift and then attend a surprise funeral and find flowers no longer feel as loving because of the sad association.  My husband feels most loved when I save him time by buying socks or putting together dinner, but if he suddenly found himself with lots of unscheduled time, that could change.  The point is that what makes someone feel most loved must be discovered and given due attention to successfully communicate powerful caring.  
Once you've figured out what kinds of actions are perceived as loving, it's time to keep your eyes and ears open i.e. always be collecting.  The variety of particulars that your are able share communicates attention and caring.  If you find out that your partner loves roses and then you get them a rose every couple weeks and that's it... you'll miss the vibrance and instead have anything from a pleasant routine to a chore.  Again, the variety of ways you can communicate loving shows that you're investing thought, that making your partner feel loved is of great value to you.  This is where a trusted organizational system like Getting Things Done can come in really handy, but whatever tool you use, you want to have a place where you collect ideas.  Did they express interest in a particular vacation spot, restaurant, activity, or item?  For example, my husband knew that I had loved horseback riding and set up horseback riding lessons for us to try together (over the years we've learned multiple new skills together including playing the flute, voice lessons, and ballroom dancing).  You can put a gift certificate to the clothing store they mentioned in their lunch box or have a flower they love delivered to work.  These passing comments can be golden opportunities for showing you're listening and you care.  Then, when you move on the next step, you have a treasure chest of delightful ideas that you know will make your partner feel especially cherished.  
So, now that you've figured out what makes your partner feel loved and you've gathered this wealth of ideas, it's time to schedule.   Stressor and the business of life happen and it is very easy to let weeks or months go by without doing anything "extra" for your partner.  This is the person you have chosen above all others, the person whom you cherish most.  This person belongs on your calendar.  They deserve more than a birthday and anniversary appointment if they are a top value in your life.  It's not less spontaneous if you make sure to remember and invest in your romantic relationship.  So, set yourself a reminder in your trusted system that you'd like to do something.  When that reminder comes up, delve into that treasure chest of ideas and do something special that says I-love-you.  Those actions aren't really extra; they're essential to fuel your relationship.  As for frequency, I like to do something small weekly and bigger things more rarely depending on how big is big.  The largest things we've done for each other are pre-planned trips where the partner has everything scheduled... location, driving music, activities, dinner reservations, everything!   The spouse just knows they're being sent off for a certain time period and then they follow the clues for their custom-designed vacation.  This is a picture of the ideas that the class I taught came up with:

The left has ways that people felt loved and the right shows particular ideas that they had used for making a partner feel loved.  (Again, it's important to do step one and find out what your partner feels as loving because they may hate some of these things.  I do not enjoy clothes shopping and my husband isn't into public displays; it's important to know if you want to communicate effectively.)  Again, regarding magnitude, you're obviously not going to get a new car surprise on a regular basis, but you can slip a note in the underwear drawer or a flower on the pillow much more often.  All those little moments of loving actions add up to a big message of I-love-you passionately, vibrantly, actively.  It keeps the joyous feeling as feeling sparkly with fresh edges and no complacency.
It’s worth it!   Nourishing your relationship with romantic "extras" is worth the investment.   I get a bit enthusiastic on this topic because I have so much fun with these extras!  A relationship nourished by these extras sparkles and gives you the full delight of a romance that is fueled for your enjoyment of each other.  If that is the kind of relationship you want, romantic "extras" are not really extra.  I'd love to hear more ideas of what you've done in the comments, like I said, I love this topic!