Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Brain-Based Learning: Core Principle 4

The fourth core principle of brain based learning:

The search for meaning comes through patterning.

Woo-hoo! This applies to my two year old Ty in every way. He tries to find a pattern in everything, everywhere. When we arrive in a doctor's building, we go to the fourth floor for Za's physical therapy and not to the first floor for the allergist? Why? He wants a pattern. The tall building means physical therapy and playing with the balls, not the boring allergist.

As children grow, they pattern in different ways. There are many approaches to learning one concept. The more you know, the easier it is to learn new concepts. Substitute "pattern" in that common phrase now. The more you pattern, the easier it is to pattern new concepts. Our minds build on each other. I know that when I start a writing assignment, I make a pattern between paragraphs and ideas by writing a list. Others may make a web, an outline, a cause and effect sheet, and on and on. Our patterning methods are different because of our individual experiences. 

How does your child pattern? Smaller children probably hide their attempts to pattern less than older children. Older children do this by looking for people's behavioral patterns. Do they do it with their schoolwork? How?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Portfolio First Semester Exam

This is the end of 2009, the end of my first year as a mommy of 2. Busy, busy times.

This is also the end of my first semester as a SAHM. Did I pass? I still think like a teacher, so... If this was a portfolio evaluation, here is what I learned:

1. Lying is ok, to some degree. If you have a car full of groceries, the newborn is crying, the mail lady is walking up the driveway, and the 2 year old is starting to run away, it is ok to lie. Unfortunately, Ty now says, "the cars hit and hurt Ty" when we are in a parking lot, every time we are in a parking lot. I feel really bad scaring him like that, but really, sometimes lying is best, or at least necessary.

2. You can teach your child something from every situation. Even if you are just driving down the road, you can discuss colors, cars, names, the alphabet, anything.

3. Eating like a kid might be fun, for awhile. Then, you have to stop eating syrup and "awfuls" (waffles) because you do not run in circles for a half an hour and those calories will not burn themselves.

4. My children are more important to me than anything else, and their brain development in the first years of life only happens once. So, Miss Lady in the pediatrician's office who wants to stare at me in hope that I stop breastfeeding my 9 week old so she can be more comfortable, well, keep staring lady. You might get a show. You might not. I'm feeding my baby because she's hungry and that is what modern moms do. Go away. Go back to the 50s. Go home. Go elsewhere and take all other people who are offended by breastfeeding with you.

5. Reading books 2 million times over and over does become boring, but the kids really like it. They also like the way I sing, dance, kiss and smell their feet, kiss their boo-boos, and pat them to sleep. I don't think I'm so grand at any of this, but they really like it all. So I do it and that is ok. I understand that toddlers appreciate patterns, comfort, and familiarity. I don't always like it, but they do, so I can give into them sometimes.

6. Sometimes, the children must give into me. I want to pee alone, and I shall. I also deserve to exercise at least 10 minutes everyday. And I shall, and not feel guilty!

7. Dinner must be made and it needn't be perfect. When I started this SAHM gig, I really stressed about dinner and often gave up the battle because I couldn't make something "nice" enough. Chicken? Rice? Frozen vegetables? Sounds like dinner. I even think I am becoming a better cook from my rushed make-shift meals.

8. I miss my income, my podium, my dress up clothes, coworkers, and adult lunches and discussions. I do. I really do. It's ok to be honest. I've wrestled with it a long time and can admit it.

9. I am happier being home with my babies. My stress level, marriage, sleep habits, life, marriage (yep, I typed that twice and added this note while proofreading), mental status, everything, is better when I'm not trying to be Superwoman like I was before. I couldn't do everything. (It took me awhile to admit to that as well).

10. This job is hard and draws many similarities to that of a teacher. This job is more rewarding and I hope that my gamble pays off, even if I have to wait 10-20 years to see the return. I'm betting it does. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Small Comment

And, I've neglected my poor blog. I had several deadlines, which means I'm working, so yay!, but I am also swamped. I struggle to maintain balance of writing and kid watching, and exercising and showering.

I did get new glasses, as my old ones were terribly maligned. I hate messing with contacts and so on and on. 

I am almost done with Christmas preparations. I am also traveling this weekend. Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

SAHM Triumph: Christmas Tree

Alas, my tree is done. It takes me forever to decide what colors to use each year. This season I went for a light green and silver. No red or dark green. I found the ribbon today at Michael's and pronounced this tree finished at last. (See the vacuum in the background? I will move it, I promise). 

Why is this a SAHM triumph, you might ask? Don't I put up a tree every year? Why yes I do, at the expense of my sleep and my marriage. I normally can't get everything assembled until vacation is here, which means we enjoy the finished product for about a week before we start disassembling. I'm tired and grumpy and fight with my husband because I'm stressed and am trying to force him to help me. I was thinking of all of this and those overwhelming feelings came back to me: I wasn't spending time with my kids, my hubby, and I needed to grade papers! What a balancing act, one that I am so grateful I am avoiding this year. My husband is truly wonderful when he agreed to let me stay home this year.

So, even though many other women can finish a tree, raise kids, and work outside the home, I never could. I sucked at the balancing act I always had to perform. And for that reason, my sanely put together Christmas tree, here almost 3 weeks before Christmas, is my SAHM triumph of the day. 

Friday, December 4, 2009

Brain-Based Learning: Core Principle 3

The third core principle of brain based learning
is my favorite, and is something I said to myself continually as I taught high schoolers:

The search for meaning is innate.

The dictionary defines 'innate' as existing in one from birth; inborn; native. Applied to brain based learning, this means that all children want to learn because the search for meaning is a part of them and always has been.

I see this daily with Ty and Za. Za, especially, wants to learn. She is trying to walk, so she tries to figure out how to let go of furniture while looking for her next piece to grab. She puts everything in her mouth. She looks at noise and light. She points now, which is fairly new and tries to mimic what we say, such as pointing at the dog and saying, "du, du." 

Often, Za, now 10 months old, does not care if she can't learn something. She isn't bothered and goes on to her next task. Ty, however does care. He continues to try. More times than not he is patient but sometimes he does fuss when he can't produce his desired result. He is trying to identify numbers past '10' and gets twelve and thirteen confused. All day, he will bring me numbers, trying to get it right. Eventually, after many tries, he did. He wanted to learn those numbers. I was positive about it, but didn't give him overwhelming pep talks. It was a natural desire.

Overall, they both keep going, because their search is innate. 

This website reminded that since my children are so young, my interactions with them are ever so important: 

What children need most is loving care and new experiences, not special attention or costly toys. Talking, singing, playing and reading are some of the key activities that build a child's brain.

Recent equipment and technological advances have allowed scientists to see the brain working. What scientists have found is that the brain continues to form after birth based on experiences. An infant's mind is primed for learning, but it needs early experiences to wire the neural circuits of the brain that facilitate learning.

The two lessons combined, that learning is innate and that their brains are primed for learning, hone the message that my interacting in a positive way will pay off later for them. I'm giving myself a pep talk that even though I am not producing huge results (Za surely doesn't talk back to me), I am truly forming them. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

SAHM Triumph: Today is Over

Today was hard. 

Ty woke me up at 6:00 am. I thought I got him back to sleep, and only realized that he was awake when he pestered his sister awake. I could have handled myself better. I was pretty mad. I made up my mind to get over it and have a happy day and that was my only meltdown of this long and terrible SAHM day.

We came downstairs, did the whole breakfast/potty/Handy Manny dance and Za went to sleep at 8:00. Stupidly, I thought, "I don't need to take a nap too. I'll keep working and busy and won't be tired today." So, for the rest of the day, my eyes sagged and I had a huge SAHM headache.

My SIL called and wanted a play date. Gratefully, I went over and let the kids run around. They were both asleep when I came home. Za woke up after about an hour was grumpy the rest of the day.

In that hour break, I did laundry, the dishwasher and checked on one of my writing jobs. My editor won't get back to me and I am irritated. Really, really irritated. I have a question and I want it answered. Since I can't ask her the same question over and over like Ty does all day (why? how come?) because then I will get fired because she's not patient like I am with Ty, I will have to walk around a little ticked until she finally writes me back.

Then Za was mad and hung on me all night. Ty was a beast and didn't want to go potty, which is a whole other blog because he will never be potty trained. Of course, I was tired and tried my hardest to be a good mommy, but probably was not. I barely made it through the night, but I did make a home-made meal.

My husband fell asleep on the couch and so the dog became my responsibility by default. My editor still hasn't responded, I need to switch the laundry, wipe off the table, turn off the lights and go to bed. I haven't exercised today and now I'm eating cookies. The only positive thing about today is that today has about 120 minutes left, and then it is over.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

SAHM Triumph: Sweet Potato Dinner

One of the biggest adjustments motherhood handed me was to get over my body. That sounds really cocky and it might be forbidden to talk about. It might even reflect poorly on me as a person. My old body was skinny and did not have a belly that carried a 9 pound Ty and a 7 pound Za. If I saw an outfit in the store, it probably would look good on me. My wedding dress was a size 6. I was always the "skinny girl." After my first pregnancy, I mourned my old body. 

I feel better, second child later, about my body. It still bothers me, but it has been awhile since I sat down and cried about it. 

I work at my body, but could do better. I exercise regularly, which I never did before when I was skinny. Oh, irony. Anyway, I eat too much, which is my downfall. I need to eat better. I do ok not frying food or eating stuff out of boxes. I love to bake, which is a problem. Cookies, cakes, icing, pancakes, sweets do me in. Whenever I wanted to lose weight in the past, I would do something stupid like not eat anything but a bowl of oatmeal a day. I hate being hungry because when I am, I stand in front of the pantry and inhale. 

Now that I've made up my mind to lose some weight (again) I must do it. I would like to look better. I'm also the matron on honor in my best friend's June wedding.

My friend has an awesome blog about healthy eating. I went there. I also started doing some other research and found that sweet potatoes are healthy, which I kinda knew, but not to the extent that they are.

I had one left over from Thanksgiving that didn't fit in the pot. I fixed it and shared it with Miss Za and I am not hungry. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Brain-Based Learning: Core Principle 2

The second core principle of brain based learning according to Funderstanding

Learning engages the whole physiology.

Physiology is the processes or functions in an organism (here, humans, obviously) or in any of its parts. So, all functions--breathing, eating, sleeping, heartbeats--affects learning.

This is why when Ty gets hungry, he throws himself down in an tantrum. The poor kids can't think anymore because his body wants food more than it wants to think. The mind and the body are connected. The better shape of the body and its processes, the easier and better the mind can learn.

For teachers, this is something they always knew but could never put a name with--hormones and chemical processes influence learning. The entire body plays a role in learning. More learning takes place when the body learns as well and when the processes are not overriding the brain's attempt to learn.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Brain-Based Learning: Core Principle 1

Funderstanding lists the core principle of brain based learning. The first:

The brain is a parallel processor, meaning it can perform several activities at once, like tasting and smelling.

What is his brain processing? Seeing the lights and figuring out how to blow?

This principle seems like a no-brainer because this happens all the time. For instance, Ty is crawling around on the floor right now. He is learning that pressing your knees on carpet too hard hurts them and a new Elmo song on the stereo. He's also thinking about how much harder it is to push a car on carpet than on the hardwood. 

Teachers try to take advantage of this principle. When teaching literature, they teach comprehension, literary terms (analysis), and life lessons, or themes. Students read and take notes, at the same time. This is how I utilize this principle the most as a parent too, only with 2-year old ideas.

While reading a book, Ty and I discuss colors, the pictures, and numbers, if applicable. He's almost three and I have began incorporating feelings and predictions, like: What do you think will happen? Why do you think X did that? Was that nice? Was that fair? When he gets older, I imagine I can ask him to draw a journal about what happened in the book.

Another idea to embrace parallel processing is with play-doh. The feeling of the dough along with the vast colors engages the senses. The manipulation of the dough works his kinesthetic intelligence.

Every action can work this. The question is, how much do parents and teachers have to think about this? Is it enough to just know about it? Do we need to make a conscientious effort to address this in everyday learning?

Monday, November 16, 2009

SAHM Triumph: Schedule and Money

Slowly, very slowly I am figuring this SAHM gig out. The kids and their schedules occupy my time and I have little time to write. I will juggle it all eventually, so I tell myself.

I have found a few study writing jobs and writing makes me busy. The first few weeks adjusting to working at home, before I completely acclimated myself to being at home... it was hard. They hubby and I had long and frequent discussions. So with this good news came another hurdle: scheduling.

I think (I use a qualifier as an Internet way to knock on wood) I scheduled my day in a positive way. The computer can be addicting and I don't want to sit on it all day while my kids play alone. That defeats the reason for staying home, yes? 

We get up, eat breakfast and play together. Za goes to sleep around 10 and I let Ty have quiet alone time (as quiet as a 2 year old plays). During this time, I update Twitter, blogs, write and email. phew--I never finish it all.

All the while, I am potty training Ty. This sentence is huge. This monopolizes my day and thoughts. I also nurse Za.

After Za wakens, we play and read and then have lunch. At some point, we start getting ready for nappy-poohs and wind down. The kids nap and I clean the kitchen and start dinner.

Hubby comes home about an hour after the kids are up from their naps. We eat, play, bathe and bed. Then I write some more and watch adult TV.

Somewhere in there, Ty watches his 2 hours of television a day. Normally when he wakes up for the morning and his nappy-pooh he asks for Mickey or Manny. I also shower in there. I also call doctors and insurance companies and make random appointments. hmmmm Maybe it is set everyday, but I do complete more than I did when I started this!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

SAHM Triumph (I think): Thanksgiving

A few years ago someone placed me in charge of Thanksgiving dinner. No one has looked back, so I suppose my cooking is good. My stress level raises, normally as I iron napkins after digging them out of the dryer after my last minute attempts of washing out last year's stains. Last year I was hugely pregnant and irritable. This year, my first year as a SAHM, will be organized and nice. Not Target nice, but creative and thoughtful.


Stuffed mushrooms
Crab chutney 


I put my mother in law in charge of desserts today, so that is done! 

Sweet potatoes
Green bean casserole
Turkey (the mother in law told me not to do that today, but as I type this list, my husband insisted. husband trumps mother in law)
Mashed potatoes
Homemade wheat rolls
Cranberry (the kind from the can, with the lines, chopped up in a faux attempt of fanciness. but no added strawberries or nuts)

So at the store, I will buy...

Chicken broth, cream of mushroom soup
Corn starch, yeast, flour
Canned cranberry, green beans
Potatoes, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, onions, celery 
Real milk, eggs

I also have to go to the fish dock for the crab chutney. I need to find a fresh turkey somewhere that isn't Kroger's. Next, decorations.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

SAHM Struggle: Potty Training

And, I've neglected my blog. All of my confidence about being a successful SAHM went away with potty training.

I would not be doing this if Ty didn't know what he was doing. But he does. He really really does. He can stay dry at night and in a store. At home, he gets so busy playing that he forgets to go until "the pee-pee is coming" and it is too late. I've cleaned up gross mess after another and my laundry room smells like urine.

Anyway, we are working hard this week. I also had a deadline due for a website, so I  had no free time.

Hopefully, I will return with more educational insight, confidence as as SAHM, and a potty trained two year old.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Brain-Based Learning: Introduction

My next educational theory in application (to my children) is brain based learning.

Funderstanding (a really neat website) defines brain-based learning:

This learning theory is based on the structure and function of the brain. As long as the brain is not prohibited from fulfilling its normal processes, learning will occur.

The key is that the brain isn't prohibited from fulfilling normal processes. Normal processes include breathing, sleeping, having adequate nutrition, and having general health. (How hard is it to think about school if you have a fever or are vomiting?) 

In my experience, this is the newest of all theories. I did not study it as an undergrad (I graduated in 2001) but did as a grad student (I graduated in 2008). It is so simple and true. 

I think that the cliche "an apple a day" and "you are what you eat" apply to this theory. When students eat junk for breakfast and then heavy, fried starches for lunch, they struggle to think properly. Constipated and thirsty students can't think about math equations or verbals. Sick children without access to health care will struggle. As young children learn so much, so quickly, this theory is why I advocate breastfeeding.

So... this is the start of brain-based learning. As I continue my SAHM life, I will apply brain-based learning to my children (just like I used to do with my students).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

This Sickness

Everybody has this nastiness that the news warned the public about months ago. Ty became sick last Thursday and since this is Wednesday, we have to be done with this.

I am ready for health to return, to be able to leave the house, to stop washing bedding and my raw hands. This sickness though, has made another sickness surface, again. 

Ty always has bad ear infections and was taking medicine that made him sicker, so I called the doctor's office that he went to on Monday. I called and a receptionist told me the office didn't open until 9. At 9:04 I called. The last time I looked at the clock, it was 9:21. I'm still on hold, waiting, and thinking.

This health care debate/reform/debacle is really hitting me. Here's why: when I decided to stay home, my husband got insurance. This insurance is fine, but we had to switch doctors and hospitals. As a creature of habit, I'm suffering. 

When I get a nurse, she asks who my son's pediatrician is. I tell the long story of switching and that we haven't found one yet.

Here's the thing: I don't want to find a new one. I want the doctor who came into my hospital room after both babies were born, smiling, telling me they are healthy and great. I want the one who patted my arm and told me that she would figure out a diet that wouldn't make my son sick so I could continue breastfeeding. I want the one who laughed when she saw my daughter "jabber" at 3 months old. I want this one and not a new one. I want the doctor who puts me at ease, knows me, knows my children, and who hung the moon.

Sure, there are other fabulous pediatricians and I need to practice this whole "change" concept. My largest concern is that I am forced to switch to a different doctor who does not know my children's (albeit short) medical histories. This 'sickness' isn't just in Ty's ears, but everywhere.

Monday, October 19, 2009

SAHM Triumph: Empty Laundry Basekts

When I worked, laundry was more than a never ending cycle. It was this mess that constantly hung around, that got in my way, that depressed me, that brought me to a nasty feeling of unbalance. I have five laundry baskets. One is green, and that is the baby's basket because I wash baby laundry in Dreft for the first year. The other four baskets are normally heaped with clean clothes. I can wash laundry and I can dry it too, no problem. Putting it away? Nah. I just dug through until I found matching socks or socks that no one could tell from a difference didn't match. When I became a SAHM, one goal and constant present on my to do list dealt with eliminating heaps of laundry and all its negative connotations.

Like most ideas, that one kept falling behind. True, laundry at my house improved. Husband and I fought over it less, which must mean more of landed where it belongs. It still wasn't folded. At first, I couldn't lift it from the cesarean incision. Then I went back to work. Then I wok up Za while I piddled around in drawers and closets. Then I decided I would always have an excuse and suck it up and do the damn laundry.

So I did. Last week for the first time. It was terrific and I didn't lie to myself and say, "I'll match those socks later" or "I'll hang the shirts up after I clean the closet." (Who cleans a closet? I'm in my closet about 2 minutes of everyday and then I never think about it again). 

Yep, I was pretty happy with myself. I even looked for the camera but couldn't locate it. I forgot all about my thrill and moved on to other business when, tada, the next weekend! AND I DID IT AGAIN. I folded all the laundry. All of it. I didn't hide it, lie to myself, or keep the hamper full. I washed it, dried it, and folded it. It is a huge SAHM triumph and I am proud of me!

As a side note, I finished the Eight Intelligence Series. Any suggestions for what to do next? Brain based learning? Bloom's Taxonomy? Critical Thinking? Cooperative Learning? The possibilities are pretty endless. What would you like to see?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Gardner's Eight Intelligences: Logical-Mathematical

This is an eight-part series covering Gardner's eight multiple intelligences and applying the theory with my children in every day life.

Sigh. Double sigh. This is my final eight intelligence blog. Also, this is my most troublesome intelligence personally. I hope I don't pass that onto my children...

Logical-Mathematical intelligence centers around, well, counting. Thomas Edison or other great scientists are mentioned when teachers discuss this intelligence.  Gerald Grow, Ph.D.
has the following to say about this intelligence:

Thanks to Piaget, the logical-mathematical intelligence is the most securely documented of the intelligences. This intelligence derives from the handling of objects, grows into the ability to think concretely about those objects, then develops into the ability to think formally of relations without objects.

When stated so, I become depressed. This intelligence so lacks within me, yet seems so simple. It has been a constant life struggle. I always feel compassion for my students who pay attention, try, study--and still can't find the direct object. I can't find X, so I empathize with them.

Ty is learning to count. Right now, he just overcame saying "1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 7, 8, 9, 10." He likes to repeat for emphasis the last part. We counted cars (he loves cars) and that helped. We've moved onto 'adding' which is really him counting his noodles and me dropping a few more onto his plate and him continuing to count. This intelligence is probably just forming in him right now. He's fine, I'm sure. This intelligence makes me jumpy, though. (I don't wonder why I saved it for last in my writing). 

It is a silly notion that parents don't "rub off" or affect or shape their children. (I'm big into nurture, not nature). Parents do influence their children's intelligences. I must not overly complain about math to my children. I don't want this area to be a "boys are good at math and girls are bad." My husband was fabulous at math classes and I never was. We can't change math's part in our lives, but we can give a united and supportive front when working with this intelligence.

Photo Credit

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Guest Blogger

Hello Followers! I guest blogged for a great writer I met through Twitter. (You can follow me @switchclassroom).

Cortney's website is: I was the guest writer for Ask the Teacher Tuesday. (She is @Cortney_plus2 . She tweets fun stuff).

Naturally, I wrote about organization. That is my favorite topic dealing with organization. I am working on an organization website and this is the sort of information I plan to cover.

My guest blogging post is here! Yay!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Gardner's Eight Intelligences: Bodily-Kinesthetic

This is an eight-part series covering Gardner's eight multiple intelligences and applying the theory with my children in every day life. This is my sevent of eight posts in the Eight Intelligences Series. 

This intelligence is easy to figure out from the name: it concerns the body. Students with this intelligence learn when they carry out the physical activity. Yes, these students are good at PE, but they also apply this intelligence to other areas. Chemistry, physics, geology, geography, band, and drama are subjects these students enjoy. They enjoy being part of a collaboration; it is easier for their minds to build transitions and connections when they can recall that doing of an activity or learning.

Ty just assaulted my back with a complete slam of his body. (I did not write that to impact my writing; he really did). As a two year old, he experiments and learns through his body all day. He is learning about his body--balance, jumping--but I think this intelligence is way beyond that. 

When I sit in class listening to a professor's yammering, I take notes. My brain hears the message and like a wire connected to my hand, I write it all down. I know you aren't supposed to mimeograph the entire message, but that is how I learn. Later, reviewing my notes, they are minus a few points and need clarification. Because I wrote almost the entire lecture, I just add. I can do this because I remember what was said. I easily take 6-8 pages of notes in a 50 minute class period.


I would classify this as bodily-kinesthetic and others might categorize it under linguistic (such as I like to see letters) or intrapersonal (such as I know what helps me in class). It might be a bit of both.

As I continue this eight-part series, I wonder why some possess so clearly a strong intelligence and others' intelligences run together. Ty's intelligences seem to be a collage. He runs into me because he is curious and wants to learn what will happen. Will he get in trouble? Will it hurt? Will he bounce? Why does mom react one way and dad another? (He just jumped on his dad). Little kids (Ty is now 2.9) learn through their bodies--chewing, doing, touching. 

Typically, not many kids end up with a strong bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. Is this because adults frequently discourage such behavior? No jumping, wrestling, licking, tasting, dumping, messing, mixing, or experimenting. I do this, even though I guilt myself because I normally quit the fight. Maybe we should all quit, for the betterment of kids. If we agree that well-rounded children turn into resilient adults, we might consider that such people have  heightened awareness of their intelligences, and learn a little bit from each one. Parents and teachers might stifle the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence at a young age, which not only disadvantages the future student, but also hurts his other intelligences.

Writing, jumping, swimming - how does your child learn through his bodily-kinesthetic intelligence? 

Photo Credit

Friday, October 2, 2009

Gardner's Eight Intelligences: Spatial

This is an eight-part series covering Gardner's eight multiple intelligences and applying the theory with my children in every day life.

This is my sixth of eight posts in the Eight Intelligences Series.

Spatial intelligence is "picture smart." They are also called visual learners. Basically, if a spatial learner is assembling a bookshelf, she would look at the pictures to figure out the steps. (An interpersonal learner would ask someone for help, an intrapersonal learner would think about and figure it out herself, a linguistic learner would read the directions). Spatial learners use pictures, television, movies, and posters to learn. Unfortunately, spatial learners are normally associated with special education. As students continue in school, they draw less and are taught less by a variety of means. This is controversial, as many educators believe that the farther students continue in school, the more they should be trained and accustomed to life for college or a career. (Can you work with taxes' paperwork or research with predominately pictures?) As few professors or employees teach through drawings or pictures, the written and spoken word becomes dominant in the classroom. I have torn feelings about this, which runs into many other areas of education. Read: another blog, another time.

Ty and Za love pictures. I hang pictures in their playroom and painted shapes on the walls during a rainy day. They always talk about the shapes on the wall and like them. (Za doesn't talk about them, but she does slap at them). 

When we read books, Za focuses on the pictures. Ty, now 2.8, looks at the pictures and guesses at the words. The pictures are supplemental to his linguistic skills. I encourage him to draw, but he doesn't really care to do so. He enjoys combing through magazines, looking at pictures. We cut out pictures he likes and put them on his playroom wall with a label.

*I wonder*: Should spatial intelligence be supplemental to another intelligence? Is it meant to be the sole intelligence? Are spatial learners at a disadvantage the majority of the time? Do most of us start out as spatial learners and then adapt to other, more common intelligences?

Drawing, of course, is in many professions: architecture, graphic design, and on and on. The problem that educators see is so many other studies must go into these professions. It is problematic if students learn this way only (or heavily this way), instead of this way in addition to another?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

SAHM Triumph: Improvisation

I naively typed a to-do list last week. Why bother? The one concept that being a SAHM has taught me--improvisation is key.

I once though that not telling the exact truth, the most honest idea that I would share with adults lessened my child. I didn't want to dent his trust in me. I was afraid of providing him with a shaky future. Now, not so much. I don't lie --I create, imagine, improvise. For instance:

Q. Why is the dog downstairs?
A. That's his clubhouse, like Mickey's clubhouse. Only it's the dog's clubhouse.

Q. I want cookies/cake/candy/chips.
A. I don't think I found those at the store.

Q. Why can't I play on the computer?
A. Computers are for adults.

Of course, the bigger improvisation is the avoiding technique like when Ty is throwing a fit and I say, "Hey, look over here! The letter 'A'! Let's sing the alphabet!!" 

Before, I always reasoned with Ty. I painstakingly explained, gave examples, talked through his issues, wondered why he had that question, analyzed, and on and on. My nature won't let me stop all of that, but since being a SAHM, I do appreciate and use the art of improvisation. I'm not sure it is 100% the best manner, but I am finding I need it to get through the day.

SAHM successes are important, and their value will show in our children. 

Monday, September 21, 2009

SAHM Triumph: To Do List

I'm pretty famous for my to do lists. I incessantly make and disregard them. But, here I go...

When I pile all of my metaphorical hats on at once, I accomplish nothing. The list overwhelms me and I surf the web.

I wrote numerous lists at work every day--copies, emails, phone calls, and grading. For this week, I'll try this at my new work--I and all of my readers will see if the list improves my productivity. 

I work Monday, Wednesday, and Friday this week. That's good-I'll be up, showered, make-uped and still have most of my day left. Thats bad-lots of lesson planning.

1. Grocery shopping. (This is such a huge undertaking that it needs more than those two words beside the number one).
2. Call CILCO. Our bill is a mess.
3. Take the out-grown clothes downstairs.
4. Vacuum, dust, pick up, repeat ten times a day.
5. Laundry. (Again, this should look longer to compliment the severity of the task).

I will leave it at that. Teaching work, kids work, and all of this other stuff--I will see and report back. Maybe by having this short list I will accomplish it and feel happy. I've been getting down about the whole SAHM situation because I don't report to anyone or complete paperwork. I feel like I need to be doing more. I'm probably fine, but I'm still a little lost. Every time I think I've got it, I don't. We'll experiment with the list.

Friday, September 18, 2009

SAHM Struggle: Different Sizes

I just walked past the coat hook in my hall and saw a green flowered jacket and a navy football jacket hanging. They are both so tiny and perfect for my perfect babies. I am so lucky to have two healthy children whom I have no major worries about.

I am almost adjusted to the SAHM project. I get up in the morning, and I get going. I am not one of those moms who gets up, showers, and puts on makeup. I make too many messes cleaning or scrubbing something. Plus, I like to walk in the mornings.

My normal routine: rise at 7 (with Ty or Za waking me), brush teeth, put on comfy clothes, make coffee, feed kids, clean kids, clean me. This is where it starts to fall apart a bit. I have this struggle of being with the kids but also getting something done--writing or cleaning. I crave to check my outside statuses--Twitter, Facebook, hotmail, gmail, Red Room, etc. I don't obsess over these all day like the moms on Oprah or Dr. Phil. I just want a moment. That elusive SAHM moment.

I allow Ty two hours of TV daily; he chooses to watch Micka-Mouse in the morning and again, Micka-Mouse after his nap. With breakfast over, he settles into that and Za crawls around while I sit at the computer. This, from an outside view, is nice. I sip coffee, chase Za, check my outside connections, and the kids play. Za isn't too interested in TV, and I keep her from it. After that hour, Ty is fussy and yes, I do link this to TV. 

I enjoy this hour, but don't let myself as well as I could. I feel guilty for checking my stuff, for letting Ty get mad about his show ending, for letting Za knock over the dog's dish. This is the major obstacle with being a SAHM: guilt. I have different levels, different sizes of guilt, but it is there. I internalize it all and analyze and apply educational theories to all that they do. Do all SAHMs do that? This guilt, internalization, I must stop it. I have wonderful, darling, perfect babies. I should spend every realistic moment loving them and quit this stupid guild trip.

SAHM successes are important, and their value will show in our children. 

Thursday, September 17, 2009

If We Want Preventive Health Care, Let's Talk About Breastfeeding

The health care reform talk on CNN and FOX and even my town's newspaper buy into "preventive health care." This makes sense: if Americans eat correctly, exercise, and generally behave, they will be less sick, feel better, work better, see the doctor less, and a beautiful cycle of wellness will abound. 

Not quite, but with preventive healthcare, all will save money.

Major news organizations ignore preventive healthcare overall, mainly because it isn't fun and Americans tend to be reactive rather than proactive. Spending money on new health fads has more possible news stories. So let's talk about money.

As the Peoria Journal Star reports, the annual insurance premium for a family paid by employers and workers recently rose from $7,220 to $13,397. That's an increase of nearly 86 percent. Conversely, the median earnings of Illinois workers rose just 17 percent, from $26,806 to $31,414. As an Illinois native, this bothers me. What bothers me more is that the article closes without any reference to preventive health care, which will lower doctor bills. Articles about expensive healthcare must reference that preventive health care is often the cheapest. Preventive healthcare, caring for yourself before you are sick, should start at birth with breastfeeding.

The American Academy of Pediatrics reported a study proving such a point. Thomas M. Ball and Anne L. Wright looked at three illnesses in infants: lower respiratory tract illnesses, otitis media, and gastrointestinal illnesses. Results were expected: 
There were 2033 excess office visits, 212 excess days of hospitalization, and 609 excess prescriptions for these three illnesses per 1000 never-breastfed infants compared with 1000 infants exclusively breastfed for at least 3 months. These additional health care services cost the managed care health system between $331 and $475 per never-breastfed infant during the first year of life.

Researchers concluded with the following: 

In addition to having more illnesses, formula-fed infants cost the health care system money. Health care plans will likely realize substantial savings, as well as providing improved care,by supporting and promoting exclusive breastfeeding. 

Undoubtedly, breastfeeding must be part of our nation's healthcare reform discussion. It is key in preventive health care. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) emphasized my point: 

Small steps are as important as system overhaul. Those who initiate change, large or small, are experiencing benefits today and creating the foundation for success in the future. 

Media, mothers, and concerned citizens: let's all openly discuss breastfeeding, how it can lower our health care costs, and most importantly, help babies. 

Unless common citizens promote breastfeeding and openly demand the abolition of the atrocity that is formula, babies will suffer. Excuses and self-comforting hinder the breastfeeding movement, as does cruelty and hatred.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Gardner's Eight Intelligences: Interpersonal

This is an eight-part series covering Gardner's eight multiple intelligences and applying the theory with my children in every day life. 

Interpersonal Intelligence is "people smart" or rather, when someone has an understanding of others and communicate well based on his understandings. Textbooks normally name Oprah as the greatest example of someone with interpersonal intelligence.

Both of my children are so young and I don't think it fair to judge their interpersonal intelligence at this point. They interact with other people. Za mostly slobbers on people and smiles. She doesn't yet differentiate strangers and family. Ty of course looks at people differently and has a few friends.

Ty doesn't like to share--typical of his age. Sometimes (normally when family reminds him) he will look at his counterpart with understanding. I hope he realizes that yes, my friend wants that toy as well.

Does he have a greater understanding of emotions, effects of histories and backgrounds, race relations? No, not at this age. I hope to raise him with an interpersonal understanding. I read him stories about different facial expressions and we identify with people with an extreme display (crying, mad, laughing). It is a start to building his interpersonal intelligence and one I hope pays off. People that understand and get along with other people succeed more than those who don't. 

Friday, September 11, 2009

SAHM Triumph: Nose Sucky Thing

A cold took over my little Za's nose this week. I hate when my children are sick. Helpless and sad--that's me. When she nurses, she lets go to catch her breath. This makes us both upset; she's hungry and I know it and can't help enough.

I normally try the nose sucky thing that the nurses use so expertly in the hospital. Za throws her short and rubberbanded arms out and cries. My milk lets down, I soak my shirt and we are both upset. This time, I finally heard the sucky noise and when I squirted the bulb out, success! Snot!

Finally, I got it. Poor Ty never had his nose properly sucked. I just figured the method out, and I am on baby #2. This got me thinking--I have all of this information, knowledge, ability and I am done. I just figured all the small baby stuff out, and I'm done. Nursing, rocking, swaddling, projectile-breastfed-newborn poop--all of it. Maybe I should have another baby for smooth sailing.

That can't happen with motherhood, can it?

SAHM successes are important, and their value will show in our children. 

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Breastfeeding Moms Hold Nurse-In

Common sense and the law protect women and babies who breastfeed in public. Of course they breastfeed in public! The baby is hungry and the mom is building her milk supply.

Anyone who thinks differently is ignorant. Simply ignorant.

America is overwhelmingly obese and dumb. Bottlefeeding is the root of this. Look at research and you will not find anything else.

This argument (breastfeeding in public) is over. The law proves that. Caring and intelligent citizens must move on to teaching and helping new mothers breastfeed.

Society has changed in the past and it needs to change again. Bottlefeeding your baby is dangerous, and these women are just trying to accustom the public to the best and natural way to feed your baby.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Breastfeeding Misconceptions

As I head off to bed, I must jot down a few misconceptions I always hear concerning breastfeeding. If you truly understand how breastfeeding works, these may seem silly. For mothers with little breastfeeding knowledge, these excuses must seem very real.

My milk dried up because...
1. I took Benadryl.
2. I had the flu.
3. I got a vaccine. 

I didn't make enough milk because...
1. I nursed the baby and then had to pump because the baby wanted to keep nursing.
2. the baby wanted to nurse every three hours.
3. I never saw milk.

I needed to give the baby formula because...
1. his dad needed to feel close to him and feed him.
2. she would wake up hungry and wanted to nurse for hours.
3. I had a cesarean section.

As usual, I reiterate my belief that knowledge is key in understanding why women stop or never start breastfeeding. When women lie, they hurt others who may believe them. These excuses need explained away. 

Unless common citizens promote breastfeeding and openly demand the abolition of the atrocity that is formula, babies will suffer. Excuses and self-comforting hinder the breastfeeding movement, as does cruelty and hatred.

Gardner's Eight Intelligences: Intrapersonal

This is an eight-part series covering Gardner's eight multiple intelligences and applying the theory with my children in every day life.

Intrapersonal intelligence is "self smart." This means the intrapersonal person knows his or her boundaries and understands what he or she needs to be happy. 

I know very few intrapersonal people. Most of my friends, like myself, question themselves, fear not knowing anyone, fail, and succeed. My husband knows his limits. He sets high goals for himself and meets them. If he isn't invited to play in a basketball game, he doesn't care because he's pretty short and can't jump. He doesn't put on a "I don't care show" for his basketball playing buddies. This truly doesn't bother him.

Figuring out Za's intelligence is futile, as she just turned 7 months old. She chews on objects and is learning to crawl. She's right on target; applying the eight intelligences to her is premature.

Ty asks questions continuously all day. He pauses mid-question to ask a different question concerning a different topic. He likes working alone on his cars and drawings, as many two year olds do. Intrapersonal intelligence is hard to apply to small kids. He's trying to figure out his world and naturally questions everything and everyone. Does he understand his limits? He tests his father and me. He falls down and trips, but I can't imagine that means he doesn't understand his running limits--he's figuring out how to run. This is a fun intelligence, as intrapersonal intelligent people find happiness easier than others.

The scary part, of course, is that I desire not to shape my children in the way I see them develop. We all do, to an extent, but I try not to say, "just like so and so" to my kids. If this is their intelligence, I will think it is like their father and I will be pleased. I will also think it is just like they developed, and I will be so happy for them.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

SAHM Struggle: Going to Bed

I don't know why I thought when I was a SAHM working only quarter time I would have more time. I don't and I don't know what I was thinking.

Ty destroys everything in his path. Yes, that is a cliche and overused, but he does. His entire room is unwalkable. He dumped out all of his toys off his shelves. I can't get into my bedroom from all the clean laundry I washed. I am still trying to get all the tiny baby stuff up to the attic. I am so frustrated and tired and lost. I think my house was this messy when I worked, only I wasn't at home enough to realize it.

I am lost with this SAHM thing and talking to a two year old all day. He repeats everything. I love him to bits, but he will say the same thing over and over and over and over and I want to cry. I talk to him and then he says something and I don't know what he means! I could cry.

Then I feel like I neglect Za. She's so little and well behaved. She's a girl and I worry that she will feel neglect and misbehave. My mind plays an entire awful scenario, all because I am tired and stressed about a messy house. It is ridiculous, I know, but listening patiently to Ty and paying enough attention to Za weigh on my mind.

I'm tired and am now going to bed.

SAHM successes are important, and their value will show in our children. 

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Gardner's Eight Intelligences: Musical

This is an eight-part series covering Gardner's eight multiple intelligences and applying the theory with my children in every day life.

Ty loves to dance with his Elmo guitar, sing the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse song, make up words for his computer's music, and turn on every music, noise-making toy that he has. Lately, he sings songs that my husband and I enjoy. He mangles the words, which delights us. He dances by skipping his feet together, which produces a bouncing and jolted appearance.

I've sung to him his entire life: ABCs, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Jingle Bells (when I am desperate), tons of nursery rhymes, and all of his sing-a-long books. We listen to music in the car and he has a CD player in his room. He plays ELMO.

His favorite song is "Name-O." "Name-O" is the tune of "Old McDonald" and he lists every name that he knows and wants us to sing it. It goes something like this: "mommy, name-o. mommy! name-o!" And I will sing, 
There is a lady who is so tired
And mommy is her name-o
And mommy is her name-o.

He will repeat, with his family, cousins, dogs, and friends. It is adorable and *I wonder* if this teaches him to spell. He claps along, and I wonder if he is counting, or at least keeping a beat. My husband and I cannot sing, but I took formal music lessons for a decade when I was younger. I normally do not learn or memorize to music. I make mnemonics without involving music. Little kids sing to learn in elementary school, but that often stops when they are older. 
My mother made fun of me when I danced and I still feel that fear and shame today at weddings or clubs. I just clap and encourage Ty when he dances. This may be a strong intelligence for him, but I can't tell yet. Music works both sides of the brain and I want him to take formal lessons in a few years. The small exposure he receives now, fun and light, hopefully helps him later.

Shame On: Enfamil

Enfamil RestFull promotes the idea that babies will sleep better with this formula. Mead Johnson "Nutrition"'s website states the following unethical advertising and manipulations:
Your baby needs a proper amount of sleep to keep her healthy and happy. That's why we created new Enfamil RestFull, the formula specially designed to naturally encourage a good night's sleep.
  • A natural way to help keep your baby feeling satisfied.
  • Thickens gently in baby's tummy and digests slowly.

I do wish Mead Johnson "Nutrition" would answer the following questions:

1. In what way is this a "natural way" to keep baby satisfied?
2. The use of the word "feeling" before "satisfied" leads me to wonder the exact fullness for the baby. Will the baby be full or not? Will the baby be hungry, and think he or she is not? How long does this "feeling" last? Is there really such a feeling for an infant whose stomach is the size of a small fist? 
3. What chemical concoction makes this bovine based powered breast milk-imitation "thicken"?
4. "Gently." Really? Most formula fed babies cry because their stomachs hurt, or because they need the nurturing and comfort of their mothers. How is this gentle?
5. "Tummy." Nice word and a cute euphemism. We are on to you, Mead Johnson "Nutrition." Make everything associated with your junk-product sweet and moms will buy it. No more. 

I also wonder, in general, why a company with "nutrition" in the title would want formula to "digest slowly." As an adult, and I eat something I should not have eaten (very much like babies who are fed your formula should not eat formula) and it digests slowly, I am in pain. My stomach hurts and I always think, "I shouldn't eat ___. I won't eat ____ again." It is too bad that babies do not have advanced communication skills, leaving them only to cry.

Unless common citizens promote breastfeeding and openly demand the abolition of the atrocity that is formula, babies will suffer. Excuses and self-comforting hinder the breastfeeding movement, as does cruelty and hatred.