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.