Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Being the Parent

I woke up early today and wrote a 4000 word rant that I was going to publish as a blog post today. It needs editing to condense it, and I don't have the time today and may not have the time for a week or two. It might too, tell too much personal information. I decided to boil it down to its main point and share that today instead.

A parent should not look to their children to provide them with happiness and self-fulfillment of a parenting job well done at the present time when life is unfolding. Instead a parent needs to do the right thing, the best thing for their child's growth and development. The parent needs to find fulfillment in knowing they did the best and right thing, using their mature perspective and values as the barometer, instead of looking solely to external signposts, such as outward signs from their children that they are going in the right direction in the moment. Sometimes things must be done now with rewards reaped in the future, years down the road perhaps.

Our children don't always understand the wisdom behind what their parents expect of them. They need not always understand or agree--they should just do what is right and obey their parents, trusting that their parents are wiser and are more experienced and therefore are guiding them on the right path. There is a huge difference between not wanting our children to do the negative thing by being blind followers of their peers and their obedience in doing what their loving and wise parents want them, guide them, lead them, or tell them to do.

Children don't always like, in the present moment, what is right or necessary for their well-being, personal growth, safety or health. It is up to the adult parent to guide them to do what needs to be done or what should be done for a better outcome. The child is too ignorant and should not override the parent's wisdom.

A simple example is if the doctor prescribes an antibiotic for a bacterial infection it must be taken even if the child doesn't enjoy the taste.

Another example is for a child to finish a job they started to fulfill their accepted obligation instead of taking the lazy way out and quitting at the half way point.

A third example is to learn their math facts now despite it being 'not fun' or even 'boring' as it will help them do more complex mathematical operations in future years (something they probably care nothing about in the present moment).

There is a definate line between right application of attachment parenting principles and the wrong application of permissive parenting or lazy parenting. There is a fine line between healthy and positive parenting where parents are in charge and negative, too-strict and dictatorship type authortarian parenting. There is a fine line between setting limits and having too few limits or too many limits. There is a fine line between using our children as gauges of how our methods are working and having the children parenting themselves or controlling the whole family. The trick is to get the balance right yet the scale is not our children's declaration of their opinion on the fairness or fun factor of the parent's decision. Parents need to have a moral compass and goals and plot their own path. Any sense of job satisfaction that comes from feeling that we've got the balancing act just right should come from within not from external sources, one being our children's opinion of the moment.

Started Reading New Book on Autism Spectrum Disorders

I am fascinated by what I am reading about issues that occur when individuals have a non-verbal learning disorder. This is how the new book "Can the World Afford Autistic Spectrum Disorder? Nonverbal Communication, Asperger's Syndrome and the Interbrain" by Digby Tantam PhD starts off.

So far I can say that if you are really interested in this topic and you know something already about Autism and Asperger's and nonverbal communication, you can read it and will understand it. Because I am neither a scientist, nor a mental health professional, nor a person who has a ton of knowledge about nonverbal communication, nor do I possess the deeper information about the Autism Spectrum, I find I have to really pay attention when I'm reading it and I'm reading a bit more slowly than my usual speed. I also am not familiar with all the scientist's or mental health professional's names mentioned, or all the studies quickly referenced to, but so far, I'm getting through it and still getting the gist of what the author is saying. (If I were at home when reading it I could run to Google and look up a name or a term to help me).

So I'd say that it is a notch above a book written for laypeople who want nonfiction information but don't necessarily want their reading to be challenging. It is a book that will be easier to read for a person who is more highly educated in these matters, whether a scientist or a physician or a mental health professional who has an interest in the issues involved with individuals on the Autism Spectrum.

I was going to let you read between the lines but instead I'll state it outright: laypeople who find this too hard to understand might declare the book boring or dry. I'll not make that judgement at this point because I feel there is a difference between being a reader who too uninformed to understand well written and accurate information and a book full of well intentioned information and opinion that solely due to poor writing cannot get its message across to the reader. No, actually there is a big difference. The fact that I can get through parts that I realize are above my head and am still rivoted to the content is a sign to me, so far, that the book is not dry, not boring, but is just plain written for people more knowledgeable than me.

I don't know a lot about specific issues caused when people have issues with regard to nonverbal communication, so I find that content fascinating. The book starts off with tackling that topic.

I've learned one thing already that has been proven by scientific research that completely relates to what some homeschooling parents have noted about their own children (on and off the Autism Spectrum). I will share that here in an abbreviated and paraphrased form.

The author tells of a study done in which the language center of the brain was shut off (in neurotypical test subjects) and the result was the performance of other tasks boosted up to be higher than their typical performance (from page 26). There is a discussion that when the brain is not busy dealing with a number of tasks, it can peform in a superior way in one or more areas. An example is given of a girl named Nadia who at age three could not speak but her artistic talent with drawing was (I say) equal to what a trained adult could draw (it was exceptional). When Nadia began to communicate more typically her art ability diminished.

In the homeschooling world I have heard numerous stories such as these which I now am curious about:

That when a five year old began reading they changed and lost their innocence. They seemed to grow up and instead of looking within themselves for fun and entertainment they looked outward to books or other printed materials. They also seemed more aware of the outside world and influenced by that instead of just being themselves and in a way, blocking out the outside world like they used to and doing their own thing, they were being influenced by the written word, noticing it, reading it, and it was distracting them from just having their own uninterrupted thoughts.

A non-reading child has a wonderful imagination and can make up stories and act them out. This non-reading child sometimes begins reading later, as old as age 12. However when the reading starts, the storytelling diminishes, the imagination seems decreased, a big change is noted.

A non-reading child may spend a lot of time creating or building with LEGOs. After reading begins the child may spend more time reading and the building decreases or stops. One has to wonder if the extra energy not being used in reading was put to other areas of the brain instead that let them be exceptional in that area.

A child formerly with intense passions in a certain area (trains, construction toys, technical stuff) loses interests in those areas when they begin spending time doing other kinds of work (like more reading and being forced to do more formal homeschooling academic work).

In light of all this one has to wonder also if the desire to have one curriculum for all children where a wide span of information is taught to all kids and where certain deadlines are set regarding when all kids should be able to read, write, or figure math operations, if we are robbing some children of allowing their brain to develop in certain areas in a superior way. If trying to get equal output from across all areas of the brain is the goal, then we may miss out on children who, if given more freedom to think and do things that come naturally to them, may actually contribute more to our world (neurotypical or not neurotypical).

The reason this book is in my hands is I was offered an advance reading copy through the Amazon Vine program and decided it was a title I'd like to read.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Last Sportless Season

I think this is our family's last sportless season.

Both kids really wanted to do fencing this last fall but our schedule was over-full (in my opinion). The Saturday fencing class also would clash with at least one set of plans per month, if not two. Why should I pay for 4 classes a month if they only attend 2 or 3? Is that not wasteful?

My older son is begging to do crew also.

Both kids love swimming. I'd love a team that is non-competitive (only so we don't have to spend all day every Sunday at meets). Four or five weeknights of practice is 'bad enough' but all day Sunday too?

This spring we have enough to do and are enjoying our free time. But the sad fact is my kids are living a sedentary lifestyle. Even on these early spring days when it is nice out it is hard to get them outside. They complain when walking the shortest distances. My older son refused to get on his bike the day it was sunny and over 60 degrees. It is downright ridiculous.

Now that my younger son is older I think he would like team based sports. If I could find a program with decent coaches, not rude, too-tired volunteer fathers who not only lack leadership skills but are poor role models regarding sportsmanship, I'd put him on that team.

I wanted healthy kids who were fit and not overweight. I never imagined I'd be a parent of couch potatoes whose main sport is video games. I'm getting worried that's what they are turning out to be.

I tried talking them into training with me to run a 3K this summer and they refuse.

I have the itch to exercise and ride bikes with my kids and walk together or jog together yet they refuse to get off their butts.


I think some changes are in order around here.

All I wanted was a more balanced approach to sports, meaning, that participation in sports didn't take over our lives and dictate all the spare time of the adults in the family. The sport of one kid needs to jive with the sport of the other kid too.

Not Looking Forward to This Harried Week

I can tell right now that this will be a bad week. There are too many appointments.

The only good news is I think my PC's virus, malware and spyware situation is fixed. Hooray for that. It took twelve days of suffering and work.

I find that one appointment a day is easy, two is sometimes too much. Three or four appointments a day is a disaster for us and creates disharmony and sometimes mayhem.

Ideally two weekdays a week have zero appointments to allow open days for breathing and doing homeschooling and normal family things.

We have a combination of routine dental appointments made six months ago, with two urgent medical/dental appointments the doctors insisted we have at this time.

One day we have to rise at five in the morning which will be a disaster as one result of my kids being sick is they were sleeping 11-13 hours a day and when they got better they were still sleeping late in the morning but then had enough energy to stay up later at night. I am having trouble getting them to sleep at night at a decent hour then they are too tired to rise at a normal time in the morning. So all this week I will be forcing them to wake up which is not my typical style.

Due to the PC problems that prevented me from having blog drafts ready to publish ahead of time and me rushing around all week my blogging may be sporadic.

Have pity on me for running around like a chicken with my head cut off this week.

I'm going off line to get to the four dental and orthodontist appointments we have today...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

In My Next Life...

...I'd like to come back as a cat. A spoiled housecat to be specific.

Outcry from ND Alum

The issue is abortion, the murder of human life, albeit in fetal form, it is still a human life.


The Catholic church has chosen to make the right to life an vital component of Catholicism.


College football is a fun part of the University of Notre Dame but the issue of human life is an essential core of Catholicism.



Obama Notre Dame invite stirs Catholic debate

Obama Invite Stirs Catholic Debate at Newsmax.com

Notre Dame President: Pro-Abortion Obama "Honors" University With Speech at LifeNews.com

Critics Blast Obama's Scheduled Notre Dame Commencement Address at FoxNews.com

Criticism over Obama invite mounts at Notre Dame at Yahoo.com

President Obama to deliver Notre Dame’s Commencement address at University of Notre Dame

Photos taken by ChristineMM September 2008 at University of Note Dame, South Bend, Indiana.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Blending Back to LBK But It's LWK

LBK. If you don't know what it means, it is "life before kids".

A year or more ago I was watching a Dr. Phil show. It was the common story of a woman who changed her lifestyle after her kids were born to revolve her entire life around her kids. Then as an empty-nester she felt empty, miserable, and even in a dead marriage. The woman admitted to ignoring her husband all those years 'after kids' in order to be 'a good mom'.

I recall thinking I was glad I was not like that mother. Despite the fact that indeed I did stop working for pay at my former career and despite the fact that I do homeschool my kids and despite the fact that I do volunteer work that is about activities my kids do, I am not feeling all consumed by my kid's lives. I am nurturing parts of me that is separate from my kids. My point in sharing that is that some outsiders may look at me and my life and think indeed I have changed my life in a way to be 'all about my kids'. Some acquaintences think I've given up too much to homeschool my kids (all I've given up is a certain amount of money to be honest).

Anyhow, Dr. Phil referenced his older book "Self Matters" in which he said he tells people to get back to the core of who they were in LBK. He asked the mother what her passions were (disconnected from anything having to do with her kids) and she could not answer. He asked her to think back, back, to the time when something was her passion. She finally gave an answer. (I forget what she said, it was a couple of hobbies.) He told her to take up those hobbies again and to get back to her former passions.

At that point I stopped to think about me and my LBK. Since I was aged nine I wanted to be a book author, a writer. I also started taking photographs at age nine. Photography was something I loved doing but had abandoned for a number of years while I focused on having fun, being in love with ex-boyfriends, exercising obsessively, reading books, and working full time.

Anyhow today I spent ten hours (ten hours!) doing gardening tasks. There were several reasons why I spent so much time today doing this. By the way, gardening was one of my passions in my LBK.

Today my schedule was free from appointments so I had the time.

Today it was warm out and not raining.

Today it was early enough that the bees and wasps had not yet set up homes inside the shrubs I was to prune and I wanted to get it done before they were present.

Today I'm late in getting seedlings started indoors and I needed to get the soil mix prepared in order to get those seeds planted and to grow them indoors.

Today the poison ivy is not yet alive and growing over the areas that needed shrub pruning. (I spent two separate months last year suffering from poison ivy allergic reactions.)

Today the wild black raspberries are still dormant, allowing us to take over the area for other purposes.

Last night the landscaper finished weeding and removing the wild blackraspberries so the land was ready.

Today my father was available to help us with our endeavors.

Today my husband was not booked up with appointments.

Put it all together and today and today was just perfect for doing gardening tasks.

It felt great to do something that I loved so much, a passion of mine since LBK. Gardening (vegetable, herb, flower and shrub) including designing my own gardens, is something I loved and something I abandoned in the past due to having to spend more time mothering my young children. Today my boys are aged 8 and 11 and they are old enough now to allow me more time to do my work and hobbies from LBK. They are old enough now to help me in my endeavors too.

I don't need to put off my own personal pursuits until my kids go off to college. I've been both reduding my time doing those things and re-integrating it since they were born.

Yes it is true, due to attachment parenting, extended breastfeeding, homeschooling, an not using babysitters or nannies, in the earlier years, I did put off SOME of my hobbies for a number of years. Other times, life cirumstances like moving to a place where there is deer overpopulation impeding gardening, or restrictions on hobbies due to tight finances due to serious issues such as unemployment and underemployment.

As my children get older, I can add them into the mix and meld my children with my hobbies. I don't mean putting them to work to do my tasks but to do the same things alongside my children, or to inspire them to create on their own using my knowledge as an inspiration. Today my eleven year old began designing his first garden train layout complete with a water feature, a little pond. This is something I told him, when he was three years old, that we'd do when he was old enough to do all the garden work himself. I said we'd supply the train and he'd do all the labor. He didn't forget it. (He never forgets anything, he has a photographic memory except for things I want him to know like math facts, if you can explain why that is possible please do). My eight year old helped with both his older brother's water garden/train garden and my pruning job.

There are certain women who will tell you that a woman's only fulfillment in life can come from paid employment. Those women will tell you that marriage or birthing babies will stand in a woman's way of total fulfillment. Others may say it is okay to birth a baby but to do something like breastfeeding the baby (like Hanna Rosin) will put them over the edge to suddenly being shackled to a parenting related activity that will deprive them of their full ability to participate in The Fulfilling Actiivity (working for money).

What I want to share tonight is two things. First, my CHOICE to do attachment parenting did not rob me of anything. I have many wonderful memories and experiences due to attachment parenting. I also feel it is the best thing for my children as people, that it helped them developmentally, to be happier people and to reap the rewards of a child whose meets have truly been met. Despite my choice to pause my career to be a mother-at-home, I was able to get 'adult interaction' even thought I was not employed outside the home for pay, through volunteer work that was fulfilling and enriching to me for a long time.

It is true that my CHOICE to homeschool does impede my abiltity to work at my former career (a 9-5 Monday-Friday job), however homeschooling my kids has enriched my life, in numerous ways from receiving happy emotions from being with my kids and helping them learn and grow to me learning new things that my public school education deprived me of, as well as permitting me to experience total freedom over my time (something that seldom gets discussed in America that I wish more peopel woudl think about--the fact that their jobs shackle their freedoms much like a ball and chain). Lastly I have had many different 'adult interactions' and fulfilling experiences due to various endeavors ranging from volunteer work to blogging to making art to taking photograhs and other things.

My point is that today at some point in the ten hours I spent gardening which was a LBK hobby of mine I realized that I did miss gardening for a number of years but rather than feel at all bitter or mad about 'being robbed of the abiility to do it all those other years' today I was totally happy and fulfilled and "present in the moment" doing my gardening. I really felt happy and joyful over the fact that today I was blending back into who I was in LBK but was doing with alongside my kids or while they happily and safetly tended to themselves while I did "my thing".

Thinking About Summer Gardening

My uncle took to gardening in my then 98 year old grandmother's garden since she was no longer able to. These are some carrots I harvested from his garden. Photo taken by ChristineMM in Maine in September 2008.

How I'm Using Twitter

After trying out Twitter for a few weeks I have seen it used in different ways by different people and organizations. It is being referred to as 'microblogging' and I get that label.

A few observations:

1. It is very fast and easy for me to post an update. My point is it is not time wasting to post an update at all.

2. I don't know who cares about reading what level of detail about me but I've decided how I will use it.

3. I like it for posting links to articles I found interesting or enlightening which I don't have time to do a whole blog post on, or that I don't feel like writing at length about. Such as if I find an interesting article about homeschooling or a health issue I may 'tweet it'.

4. I put my Twitter updates in my sidebar, limiting it the last two tweets I sent. In this way you might learn a little more detail about my life or my interests while reading my blog. For example perhaps I blogged on homeschooling or parenting topics but you may see my Twitter update saying I'm busy gardening. You'll have a little more insight into my personal life by reading my Twitter updates (tweets).

5. To what extent I spend time clicking on tweets from my favorite magazines and newspapers could take up my time. Lately if I have a few minutes to kill I will glance at my Twitter home page to see who is saying what. If I find a news article of interest I go read it. I then may wind up clicking over to some other article.

6. If you already frequent Digg or Technorati or delicious or others like that then Twitter might be too much duplication.

7. I still need to figure out how to tag my tweets or how to search for posts on certain topics.

8. Because people (like me) are using aliases it is sometimes hard to find people that I may want to follow but don't know their Twitter user name.

The bottom line is that so far I post to Twitter when I have a little extra time, it doesn't suck up a lot of my time but web surfing based on reading tweets might take up my time if I let it.

If you want to follow me on Twitter my Twitter name is "christinemmttm".

Friday, March 27, 2009

Kids Smoking Smarties Candy

This article tells of children 'smoking' Smarties candy and of health risks to this activity.

I'm having conflicting thoughts on this.

1. Is it harmless fun?
2. Is this a stupid activity?
3. Do parents know how their young kids are using YouTube?
4. Do kids today need more meaningful work in their lives?
5. If I think anything negative about this pursuit am I over-reacting?

Found via: BlogHer

State Capitals Song

Sung to the tune of "Turkey in the Straw".


Hat Tip: The Mom Crowd 36 Kid Friendly You Tube Videos That Won't Annoy You (most are for toddlers and preschoolers)

Two Things for Boys to Learn Before Entering Middle School

In a conversation with my brother-in-law's wife she told me two things. She is a middle school math teacher in a public school. She said there are two things that all boys should learn before entering middle school.

She said that other boys figure out if the boys know these two things. They specifically seek to find this information out. If the boy does not know these two things they are labeled "through high school graduation" and will be picked on and terrorized until high school is over. She said these are the basis for labeling a boy naive or weak or stupid or gullible or ignorant or sheltered.

They are:

1. All the details of sexual intercourse and sexual male body issues (ejaculation, wet dreams and masturbation).

2. The real deal on Santa Claus.

She went on to tell me that before her son entered middle school (fifth grade in their town) they had a detailed sex talk. She said that the child's readiness is not important, it is more important that the child not be pegged and targeted for their ignorance due to anything under her control. She said since she knows that fact about kids in middle school there was no way she was going to send her son off unprepared. For them the Santa talk happened in fourth grade when he had suspicions and asked about it and she came clean.

I also think the reason she converted over to dressing her son in all Hollister and American Eagle clothing (primarily Hollister) is to avoid any negative stereotyping due to him not wearing the coolest trendy clothes.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Who Knows Where the Food Comes From

"Do you know where your food comes from — or where it's going? If you’re a food distributor or manufacturer, the answer is probably not.

That’s the conclusion of a report presented today by the Department of Health and Human Service’s (HHS) inspector general, Daniel Levinson, at a House hearing on food safety. Federal law requires food manufacturers and distributors to keep records on their goods' stops along the production chain, such as the processors and packers that handle them. They're also supposed to track who transports them and what stores they end up in to make it easier for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to trace the origin of food-borne illnesses. But 59 percent of manufacturers and distributors couldn’t provide Levinson's investigators with all of that information, and 25 percent were clueless about the requirement, Levinson told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies."

This is scary stuff.

Read full artcle here: Food makers and distributors don't know who's receiving, supplying their products, government report says published by Scientific American, 3/26/09.

Found on: Twitter update for SciAm

A Sign of Tweenhood

The phone calls to friends began slowly and sporadically but have increased to regular occurances. It started at about ten and a half and it was at full tilt at age eleven.

It used to be, that my son would say, "I can't wait to see (insert friend's name here) to tell him (fill in the blank)". He would then remember it until their next face to face interaction.

Only one of my son's friends has a cell phone and he is not allowed to use it to call friends. My kids don't have cell phones.

My kids are not on email and do not do IMs either.

So one day when he asked if he could call his friend to tell him something urgent, I agreed. A quick review of phone etiquette was done and he was off and running.

I have to smile at the enthusiasm and the about what the pressing matter is. Topics are usually one of the following:

Discussion of the release date of a long antiticpated video game for xBox360 (most recently Halo Wars rated T)

Discussing what LEGO sets are coming out soon (his friend found a website that posted spoiler images and information)

Sharing what new 39 Clues cards he has received

Discussing the online 39 Clues game progress

Brainstorming about the content of custom made Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game decks

Talking about the upcoming release of a new booster pack for Yu-Gi-Oh!

Discussing upcoming Yu-Gi-Oh! tournaments

My younger son acts mature and is friends with all the friends of my older son. My younger son blends in with them and gets along with all of those kids (despite the 2.5 to 3.5 year age difference). The other kids like him too. My kids go places as a packaged set, which some find comical, especially the other parents who can't believe that my younger son is actually younger than their son and my older son.

So a problem with the phone calls was that it was exclusively between my older son and the friend. My younger son felt left out. Soon thereafter permission was granted by the friend on the line that my younger son could talk on another extension.

The phone calls last 30 to 60 minutes or more. The kids never run out of things to talk about, they could go on and on if they wanted. Usually a parent must use the phone or it is time to eat a meal or someone has to go to an appointment, so the call ends.

I have absolutely no complaints about my son using the house phone to call his friends. I take this as a sign that he is definately a tween, moving into more independence and wanting to reach out to his peers more often. I am happy he has long talks with his friends and that his chat is not limited to abbreviations via text message or with IM chat.

In the photo above, my son had been on the phone for over an hour. He likes the freedom of the portable phone and walks all over the house having conversations. On that evening he used the speaker phone for the first time. He and his friend were talking about LEGOs. My son was looking at a big LEGO book we own that the other boy does not own. My son was reading from the book and they were discussing what was in it. Meanwhile, my younger son sat listening and chiming in, while he was playing with the Braintelligent Lonpos 84-T game on the floor. (Note this is my older son's room, the right-brained kid who left to his own devices has a messy room which explains the stuff on the floor.)

My boy is growing up...

The LEGO book is an out of print book published by DK Publishing. It has lots of full color photos of LEGO creations, tells the history of LEGOs and shows some of the old kits. I can't tell you how many hours my sons have spent reading this book. I can't believe it is out of print! Used copies are available on Amazon and I'm sure on other online used bookselling sites as well.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pinewood Derby Time Again

I think I'm burning out of Cub Scouts. In chronological years this is my sixth year in the program, but this is the eighth year when I divide it up for total years between my two children. And I've been volunteering now for between one and four jobs PER YEAR. I have been reducing my committments as the burnout has crept up.

This year the Pinewood Derby season crept up on us quickly.

To be honest my younger son was not even too excited about the race because it is kind of 'old hat' at this point.

In our family we follow the rules and the boy makes the car with minimal help from my husband, mostly with the more dangerous woodworking tools that a boy aged eight should not be using independently.

My younger son likes Lamborghinis and he decided he wanted his car to be like one. He took a die cast toy car that his brother owns. He didn't know how to sketch it so what I did was take the block of wood that the derby car is at the beginning and I traced it on its side onto paper. I then took the toy car and put it on its side. I instructed my son to look at the toy car and notice the lines of where it went up, where it curved, where it dipped and such. He made sketches on the box on the paper in pencil. We went over the lines heavily with the pencil. I then showed him how to do a simple transfer, by putting the wood on the table then the paper on top then I had him rub over the paper. When we lifted the paper up, voila! The design was transferred to the wood.

After that my husband used a power saw to cut it. My son did all the sanding and painting. He selected the color. He decided not to embellish it much.

We worked on it over the last ten days before the race. In that week I got the flu and was sick in bed with a fever. That was followed by me going out of state for a homeschooling conference. I got back home within minutes of when we had to leave for the Derby. When I got there I realized in my haste I didn't remember to bring my good camera. Also both my husband and I forgot to bring the kit with the extra weights to add a bit more if necessary, to get the car up to 5.0 ounces exactly. We wound up borrowing glue from someone and using coins from my purse. I used my old point and shoot to take photos (doesn't work well for activities like this).

As I sat to watch I admit I felt burned out of Scouts and not excited.

When my son came in third place for the Pack I was happy for him! One time my older son came in second place and my younger son, being very competitive, had hoped that once in his own five years in Cub Scouts that he would also place in the top three.

We are waiting to hear the date of the district derby. I hope we are in town on that day so my son can race against others in our district! I'll try to get my attitude adjusted before that race, I promise!

Dumb Workbook Problem #2

From a logic workbook for grades 3-4 (ages 8-10).

Read the list and find the common characteristic of al the things each person likes.

John likes bowling but not baseball.
John likes math but not recess.
John likes cleaning but not weeding.
John likes coffee tables but not picnic tables.

John likes ________.

My eight year old could not figure this out. I could not figure this out.

Can you?

Please leave a comment with your answer or if you are stumped.

I will put the answer in the comments in a day or two.

My Issue with This Question

I think that part of my problem with some workbook problems is that they oversimplify facts. Only by oversimplifying one can come to a right answer. However if a person (like me) thinks with a bigger picture view, it can be hard to get inside the head of the workbook question writer to see their smaller view or their more narrow perception of the stated facts. I will explain when I reveal the answer, why the flawed answer the author came up with is not an accurate answer. A problem for students is that they can’t always get inside the head of the writer of the question either, so they may guess and get the question marked wrong or are unable to come up with any answer, therefore getting it marked wrong for being left blank. Children who ponder at questions like this too long can be labeled ‘slow’ or perhaps as ‘daydreamers’ or worse, may be suspected of having ADD. If enough questions are marked wrong, the child’s grade is lowered and people get a wrong idea of the level of intelligence or abilities of the student. Guessing and getting a wrong answer or leaving a dumb workbook question wrong is not necessarily an indication of the student’s grasp of the overall topic (in this case, logical thinking skills).

I find this workbook question dumb, not the entire book, just to be clear. I do like this workbook in general; it forces me to teach each of the logic categories, so I feel like I’m touching upon the basic principles.

For years I mostly avoided all workbooks out of hating them for the very reasons I stated here. However now I am using some a bit here and there. I am making sure to keep a close eye on the assignment and my child’s grasp of the subject matter. I discuss the tricky, misleading or stupid workbook questions with my kids and we talk about why they are troublesome.

From: Logic Countdown by Bonnie Risby, grades 3-4, lesson 5 category: relationships.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My First Knitted Vest

This is the first vest I knitted. All done in early March during the week of both kids being sick and resting in bed. This was basically all done while I sat in bed cuddling with them while we watched TV together. Perhaps I should name it the LOST vest as we were watching DVDs of LOST season one, which we'd never seen before.

Knitting notes for those who care about such things:

I was inspired in January to knit a vest for a knit along on Ravelry called Vestuary hosted by homeschool mom and blogger Handmade Homeschool who I cyber-met through the Creative Mom Podcast Flickr group and Yahoo Group. However the pattern book I selected and ordered didn't arrive until the last day of February! So I knitted it without being part of the knit along.

The pattern is Antoinette from Noro Wanderlust by Cornelia Hamilton.

I chose this yarn (Noro Iro #84, a colorway introduced in fall 2008) because in the skein is looked to be all blues, greens and aquas. It has usually one section of orange, brown, and navy in each skein. But when I knitted the front one skein had two close repeats of the dark colors then it repeated near the chest. The resulting front of the vest is too much brown for my taste. The back only has one section of brown.

Note to self: Next time I knit with a Noro yarn if there is a section of the colorway I dislike or hate I will cut it out and splice the rest of it together. At the price of this yarn and for all the work I deserve to have a finished product that I really love through and through.

This knitted up fast, it is Noro Iro (75% wool and 25% silk). This is all moss stitch (seed stitch).

The front:

The back:

Cat lovers will understand about the situation with that one photo below. Why oh why do they always get right on your stuff when you are trying to snap a photo of your knitting?

For Possible Use as a Homeschool Text About Politics

Last night my husband said that Mark Levin was publishing a new book on politics. We both like his radio show.

We checked Amazon last night and the publication date is actually today. But as of last night the book, sold as pre-order, was already #1 on Amazon's sales rank for the nonfiction genre! Today it is still listed as #1 in Amazon's sales.

My husband said we need to buy it, so we did. If the book is what he thinks it is, he wants us to use this to teach our children about politics!

The book is: Liberty and Tyranny by Mark Levin.

Okay so if you are a regular reader of my blog now you would know our politics. This is a book about conservatism, specifically.

I'm a person who believes in tolerance and acceptance of others despite differences in various things. I believe people can be friends and acquaintances and that stimulating conversation and dialogue can take place with respect even when opinions differ. I believe people can agree to disagree on most topics and still remain friendly to each other. I also agree that in some social situations certain topics are best avoided lest the others not be in that same mindset as me. It would not be wise, for example, to discuss politics or some other hot button topics with one's boss or co-workers if they will hold it against you if you don't agree with them 100%.

I don't believe in pigeon-holing people. Some love to categorize people. If that were true then some of the interests I have and causes I believe in would flag me as a liberal. Here are some common categorizations:

I knit, therefore I must be liberal.

I started composting in the mid-1990s when it was uncool therefore I must be liberal.

I breastfed my children with child-led weaning, into their second year, so I must be liberal.

I live in liberal leaning Connecticut so I must be liberal.

I am an artistic person therefore I must be liberal.

I don't want humans to wreck the Earth so I must be liberal.

I buy organic food so I must be liberal.

I love to garden so I must be liberal.

I came from a lower middle income, blue-collar worker family therefore I must be liberal.

I was raised in a non-religious home so I must be liberal.

I homeschool therefore I am conservative.

I homeschool therefore I am liberal. (Odd how the same thing can go either way rather than a person thinking, homeschooling indicates nothing to me about the parent's political pursuasion. I'll also note that often times in homeschooling families I know, the husband and wife will have different political leanings, so go figure.)

Yada, yada, yada.

The truth is I'm an independent thinker and a non-conformist who has many opinions based on my various life experiences. My views on certain things have changed over time, as I learned more, as I grew up, matured, birthed my babies, as I paid more taxes, as I saw certain government programs in action (or in non-action), and also with my experience as an elected official in town government.

I am constantly learning and growing and I reserve the right to change my mind as time goes on, but the most important thing is I have always had an opinion and a reason for holding it. I have an open mind about thinking about things and I'm a cynical realist that is the lens I view the world through.

I don't nix people out of my life just because our views differ on differnt topics, because we vote for different politicians or for any other characteristic they have (their religion, their ethnicity, their income level, the town they live in, where their kids are schooled et cetera).

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Thoughts of a Homeschool Mom to the Public School Teachers

I used to resent it when I'd hear teachers put down parents as too stupid to have parented their children well enough to be "Kindergarten ready" because I certainly felt that I had provided my own children with a very good life experience that not only was equal to a 'good' preschool program but superior.

I used to think that if I can do it, then everyone can do it. I tend to think that if I want to be with my kids and to raise them, then all mothers would want to be with their kids and to raise them. I tend to think that if I want my children to learn and be smart and know school-ish things and more general life skills that all parents would want that. Over the years I met people who definitely were not on the same page as me. I get it now that some parents are very different than me. The weirdest thing is that some of the parents who really wanted to be a parent, who may have struggled to achieve pregnancy and who might have also struggled to get their high risk pregnancy to full term, don't seem to always do the best thing for their children in the parenting and child rearing part of the job.

I also get it now about why some teachers think what they think.

School teachers who get into that discussion where they think they are superior to the parents and think that most parents are incapable of raising kids ready to start school in Kindergarten often think little of parents in general and some put all parents into that category. Some teachers really think that all parents suck at parenting.

The teachers usually wind up adding in to the discussion that only if the child had attended preschool for two or three years and had teaching with formal lessons (like they used to start in first grade) then the child really would have been ready to learn in Kindergarten. The talks usually then go into the realm of wishing that ALL children had a "good" preschool experience and distrust of the fact that as of right now in America we do not have mandatory preschool nor do we have preschool run by public schools for all children. The end result that those teachers desire is: preschool run by public schools with certified teachers in the union with mandatory attendance for all children aged three and four. In their minds IF ONLY all children had that experience then everything would be right and easy about instructing children in Kindergarten and up, and indeed then all children would learn and everything would be perfect.

(If you don't believe that teachers think these things then go read some teacher blogs or teacher discussion chat boards on the Internet. You won't believe what some of them are publishing on the Internet, sometimes discussing details of certain students and their parents!)

At present federal laws regarding children with certain disabilities are given the right to special education services so public schools make services available to children who have been identified and accepted into their system. In order to do that some public schools have created preschools inside their elementary schools. In order to have the special Ed kids around some (how do I phrase it) 'regular' kids (I mean kids with no diagnoses of any disorders or impairments so the child would not be admitted to receive special ed services), they set up a mainstreamed preschool classroom. Usually to fill that room with the 'regular' kids they offer free preschool to kids in that town and usually use a lottery system to figure out who gets those few slots. Around here the parents are happy to think they may save $3500 per year per child by stopping private preschool to attend public preschool.

What I also get now is that indeed some parents are clueless about properly parenting their children such that when they arrive to start Kindergarten they are really behind and ignorant. I get it now too that some kids who step into private preschool at age three are really clueless and behind and ignorant. I can't believe this is true but I have now seen with my very own eyes, kids who at age three are really, really behind where my kids were at that age. I have been around some children that are three that are incapable of doing things my kids were doing at about 15 months of age.

In my work as a volunteer Cub Scout Leader I have been around lots of kids from different towns, kids not just in our Pack but around kids from my region who attended the big day camp (with over 200 kids in attendance). I have also attended as a parent; sleep over camp with my Cub Scout aged sons (grades 1-5). I sat with kids in the dining hall and saw how they handle the family style served food and how they handled and ate the food off their plates. I have seen many deficits in basic life skills, etiquette, and common sense. Those things that are deficits in parenting not flaws in their public school education. You see not everything is the teacher's job to teach a child. So now I see what some of the teachers are saying. Ignorant parents exist. I tend to think the issue though is not stupidity on the part of the parent, I blame low standards. I know some of the parents and I know they are smart, have common sense and even sometimes hold two college degrees.

Sadly, it is a vicious cycle between parent and child. The cycle goes like this: the kid can't do something so the parent does it for them. Sometimes this is done because they think that a good parent does those thinks for their child. Their ignorance about typical stages of childhood development and what skills are able to be done when leads the parent to continue doing things beyond when the child should be doing them for themselves. I wonder too if our isolated lifestyles now lead parents to not know what other parents are doing or teaching their kids at certain times. It matters more to those parents that their children have the current fad brand of clothing on than the fact that the kid is ten years old and still needs an adult to tie their (expensive trendy) sneakers. The cycle continues when the kid can't do it and the kid has no clue that at his age he should be able to do it so he passively sits back and lets the parent dote on him. There must be no internally motivated initiative either so the child is not asking to learn to tie their own shoes. I mean the five year old who still drinks out of a sippy cup and who has never held a real, open-topped cup. I mean children who are allowed to use baby pacifiers at ages two, three, four or beyond. What is going on with the parents who keep their children ignorant about simple daily living skills?

After being around a bunch of kids who can't do very easy practical skills I begin also, to worry of what is going on in this country with parents? I start to think like those teachers, that some parents are inept, even when they are college educated and have an upper-middle class income or even a wealthy income level. Poverty is not the source of all the problems! If the parents who are lawyers and white collar corporate executives can't even teach a child how to button a button, how to tuck in a shirt, tie a shoe, or put on a winter coat and zip it up, then what does that say of the ability of the parent to prepare a young child for formal academics in the Three R's? It says very little.

I have a feeling the public school teachers think things like this: "If the parents of my students can't even teach them to tie shoes or tuck in a shirt how can we trust them to teach their children to read, to do math, to write well, or about world history? Those parents are so inept at basic parenting skills that we can't trust them with the academic education of their own children!" Further observations of negative social issues such as selfishness, nastiness, and cruelty such as are typically seen on the school bus or at recess let alone inside the classroom may lead a teacher to think, "Their parents are not even doing well at raising nice kids, they lack tolerance for others and they are mean. The schools should then teach tolerance, acceptance, and how to be kind and peaceful souls!"

Schools have enough on their plates to teach the subjects that should be taught in the elementary grades. Extra things have been creeping into the curriculum over the years including lessons on multi-culturalalism, tolerance, and other feel-good things. Shall the schools add to the curriculum how to get dressed, to wash one's hands before eating a meal and basic etiquette (in all areas including how to eat)? These topics are considered small beans compared to bigger life issues such as contracting sexually transmitted diseases, teenage pregnancy, and drug and alcohol abuse--so those topics have been added to the kid's schooling curriculum too.

We used to think that child porn was horrible and as a nation we tried to prevent adults from abusing children to make child porn via still shots or video and we hated the idea of them selling it for profit. However the stupid children and teens of America are now often making it themselves and circulating it for free. Just stop and think about that for a moment. We adults don't want other adults forcing children into child porn but educated and loving parents are not equipping their children to know enough to not make porn of themselves with technology their parents hand them and pay monthly services to continue using. "All the kids have cell phones now so I don't want to deprive my child!", is what they say. Well some preteens and teens have suffered greatly after participating freely in creating porn of themselves, and at least one has killed herself after suffering from the resulting emotional turmoil she endured.

A thing happening around the country for over a year now is directly tied to new technology. It is cyber bullying via the computer via MySpace and other social network sites and also on IM. It has evolved further to also take place through cell phones via text messages. The cell phones camera allows for still photography and video recording which has started the phenomenon of taking provocative or nude photos of minors, taking video of sex acts with informed consent and sometimes unbeknownst to the couple having sex. Some stage beatings that are video recorded which are later circulated by text message via cell phone or uploaded to social networking sites like MySpace or to YouTube. Because parents have given their children (as young as nine years old) cell phones with cameras and because they allow their children to use the Internet unsupervised, these things have happened.

Some parents I talk to deny these things can really be happening in America. Yet the videos on the Internet are the proof. More and more news shows on television are reporting these stories also. One reason I blog about these topics is to try to raise awareness and to get people to wake up and see what is going on in real life in America.

Some parents whose children are upset that the nude photos they took of themselves that are published on the Internet have admitted that they as parents never had a conversation with their child about right and wrong ways to use the cell phone, the text messages and its camera. Some say they never discussed porn or why it would not be a good idea at age eleven or twelve (or older) to take nude photos of oneself and send it to their love interest or share it with the public via their homepage on the social networking site they are a member of. The parents are so clueless! They think their children are angels and thought, "my child would never do that!" so they never have a discussion.

The combination of providing the children with the technology and peer pressure to do 'what everyone else is doing' combined with hours away from home and the parent's influence (while at school and on the school bus) combined with also sometimes disconnected relationships between child and parent sets the stage for these problems to happen. When just the right set of conditions is in place lots of problems can happen. Unsupervised use of a cell phone, unmonitored text messaging, unmonitored use of the Internet, too much time with peers and allowing the culture's influence to dominate the child is the problem. Encouraging younger children to have romantic relationships and allowing children to attend parties or sleepovers with inadequate adult supervision is setting up a recipe for disaster.

(What do I mean by encouraging romantic relationships at a young age? My nephew was being stalked by a girl and her mother when he was in second grade. The girl had a crush on him and her mother encouraged it by taking her to every one of his baseball games. A girl I know has never had girls at her home for playdates or sleepovers but just after her tenth birthday, a boy who they said was her boyfriend was allowed to come over to play often and they spent time alone in rooms watching movies with parents on a different level of the house. She now is allowed to send IM and text messages without any supervision, having her first cell phone given to her at age ten.)

Frankly I blame the parents for all of it.

I blame them when their kids are eight or nine and can't tie a shoelace. I blame them when their child is seven and can't put on a coat and zip it up themselves. I blame them when they are ten and don't even know how to hold a fork correctly (they still hold it in their fist as a toddler does). I blame them when they indulge their children with expensive technology and don't set limits or rules about proper and responsible use of it (and what is actually illegal use of it that needs to be avoided). I blame the parents when they fail to have the sex talk with their children or when the sex talk is all biology of conception and includes nothing about their family's value system. I blame the parents who allow young children to see television or movie content that is mature content that teaches them more about sex acts than the parents have taught.

What I'd like teachers to know is that I don't think they or their schools can teach everything. The elementary, middle and high schools can't teach all the things that we may agree that kids should know to act right (to be kind and to not abuse others), to have etiquette, to treat others with respect (including treating the opposite gender with respect and treating sexual acts as something not casual) and to abide by laws.

Even having universal preschool will not prepare all kids for being super smart and academically ready upon commencing Kindergarten. It may be easy and nice to think "if only we mandated and provided (fill in the blank) that X problem would not happen and all children would learn and thrive and would quality for admission to Ivy League colleges". It is a false hope. It is just not true.

When faced with complex situations and imperfect conditions it feels good to think "this magic bullet thing will cure it all, let's do this thing". I wish everyone who has thought such thoughts would step back and realize situations are complex and there is no magic bullet for anything. I wish citizens would realize it, as well as the teachers and our politicians, including President Obama, who wants to mandate universal preschool for all American children.

I wish the teachers would back off on three things. First, stop thinking that all parents are inept as they are not. Second, stop thinking that if only all children attended preschool run by public schools that all learning challenges would end. Third, stop asking the politicians to mandate universal preschool. There is no proof that preschool helps children excel in the long run. I don't think we should put money to huge new programs that will be costly and are not proven to have true value.

The fact of the matter is that certain things are the responsibility of the parents to teach. No one can control what the parents do at home and what they teach or don't teach their children. But a better start on addressing the problem would be to somehow get through to the parents (including well educated and wealthy parents), what the child development stages are, times when certain skills should be taught and what simple things a child needed to know before starting Kindergarten. Most American children are already attending private preschools so really all this could be facilitated through the preschools if only they would raise their standards and set a bar of achievement.

We fail our nation's children when we are lazy parents. We fail our children if we set low standards as parents or teachers. We fail the children when adults are more concerned with keeping other adults happy by providing them only good news about their children (such as in parent-teacher meetings) rather than pointing out the deficits that need correction at home.

Regarding Teacher's Views of Homeschooling--

I know a number of former public school teachers who now homeschool their children for a variety of reasons. They obviously think well of home education. I address this to those teachers who have something negative to say about homeschooling.

(Those teachers who have dealt with newly enrolled students who were formerly homeschooled who seem 'behind', I'll quickly say that please remember those kids came from a 'failed homeschool' and they don't necessarily represent all homeschooled children. Second, not all students in your classroom are excelling so in the grand scheme of things some former homeschoolers who are a little behind are no worse off than some other kids who have indeed been in the public school system the whole time.)

The main thing I'd like to say to the teachers is that you have enough on your plate to deal with the children enrolled in your schools. Please back off of the homeschoolers. The majority of us are not just meeting the expectations you'd set for your own students but we are surpassing it. You have no reason to worry about what we are doing in our home schools.

Just as the public school teachers do not concern themselves about what goes on with private schools please don't concern yourselves with what goes on in the homeschools. We homeschoolers are doing okay, we really are. (On a message board one teacher put down all homeschooling parents then added that the homeschooling parents who write blogs and such are obviously not the same as 'all the other' homeschooling parents. That surprised me.)

Public school teachers, your own students and your school need your time, your passion, your energy and your devotion. Please don't waste your energy worrying what the homeschooling families are doing and please concentrate on your own job and your own school and try to make improvements directly with your students and within your school. You are needed and you can make an impact there, please help our country in that way. People, including teachers, say the future of our country depends on how we educate the young children of today, so please, please help our country by doing your job well today.

Many homeschooling parents and teachers share many core beliefs and hopes for children and the education of children. We are more alike than I think some teachers realize. We are not necessarily enemies. I don't think the job of a public school teacher is easy. I don't want the job of a public school teacher. I just want to be left alone to raise, parent and home educate my children, and I'd like the teachers to focus on doing the job they chose to do and that they receive compensation to do, that's all.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

How Many Things Are Wrong With This Situation?

Using your value system how many things are wrong with this situation?

When my kids are a bit older I plan to discuss things like this as part of their sex education. We have already discussed that nude photos are wrong to allow to be taken of a child but this topic is a bit too much for my kids now (they are 8 and 11). My kids also don't have cell phones (let alone ones with cameras) so I don't need to talk about it for cell phone rules.

Video of local news story: Classmates Watch Secretly-Made Video of Indiana 15-Year-Old Having Sex in Trailer

Per the news story a 15 year old Indiana girl attended a party in a trailer. She reported to having consentual sex with a 14 year old by in a room of the trailer. The story states that unbeknownst to her, two teen boys video recorded the session through a hole in the wall with their cell phone. The video then was sent by text message (sexting is the term for still photos sent by text message on cell phones). So in this case I guess it is "sexting goes porn".

The father reports the girl is being quiet.

I hope she gets any help she needs so she doesn't wind up clinically depressed and committing suicide like an 18 year old did after still photos were sent via 'sexting' by her ex-boyfriend. (That story was featured on Dr. Phil last month.)

These cases are often being treated as child porn and sometimes arrests are made. I saw a news show recently where some adults are asking for new definitions of legal terms so that child porn charges CANNOT be made on minors or any person who circulates nude photos or videos of nude people via cell phone text messages.

For You To Think About:Prostate Cancer Screening and Treatment

I would like more Americans to think about medical topics and about the American medical establishment and health care industry. It is often difficult to get people to think about things in an abstract way. Today I read a newspaper report about one specific issue that I'd like you to know about and to think about not just for this one specific topic but hopefully after seeing the issues regarding Prostate Cancer screening and treatment of Prostate Cancer, you would apply the same questions and thought process to other diseases and to wellness.

All too often Americans who do not work in the health care field only talk or think about medical issues in relation to complaining about the cost of health care, something such as thinking their health insurance premiums are too high, or that a cost of a medical procedure is high compared to other expenses in their life. If you are one of those people who mainly thinks only about the COST of health care, I ask you to read this post and do some thinking about something else.

Believe me, learnig more about specific medical conditions, tests and treatments may help you down the path of being infomed which may help you give informed consent before you agree to medical testing or medical procedures.

Sadly the over-focus of money spent on health care by consumers and the media has led to an over-focus on the cost of medical care. Being too unbalanced in our focus can cause problems for the big picture. The only issue with health care in America is not the cost of it, we should be thinking about the medical care itself, in part because what is tested and what procedures are done affect cost (can drive it up) and it also affects our health and well being, which is the whole point of using the medical care establishment, is it not?

At present the federal government, with urging from President Obama, think that if only the federal government introduces universal health care, then all of our medical problems will be solved. The finance part of the health care industry is just one issue but the real issue with health care is our own health and wellness. Ideally we would all be healthy and well and would have access to good and right medical care and would not waste or money or energy on having unnecessary tests, and any procedures would only help us not harm us. We must have informed consent when accessing medical care, and the only way that is achieved is with a certain amount of self-education on these topics. I recommend that every person inform themselves about wellness and health topics which will help them make better lifestyle choices and will help them access the best and most appropriate health care services should they require it.

Questions for you to ponder before reading this entire post:

1. Do you feel that Cancer treatment should always be undertaken if a Cancer is found?

2. Do you think the American public feels the same way as you do?

3. Why do you think the majority of people would hold a certain belief such as all Cancers must be treated?

4. Are all Cancers equal, meaning, all Cancers are bad for all Cancer patients, and if a Cancer is found it must be or should be treated?

5. Do you think that there are Cancers that it would not matter if they were ever treated? Or do you think “all Cancers should be treated aggressively”? Why do you hold the opinion that you hold? What influences or sources of information inform your opinion on that topic?

6. Do you feel that in all cases Cancer treatment can only help a person’s health? I mean, do you think a Cancer treatment in and of itself may hurt a patient yet not have an effect on the Cancer or prolonging life or improving quality of life?

7. When screening tests exist to check for Cancer such as are tested at an annual physical, do such tests always have merit? Should we not bother with some prescreening tests?

8. Do you think that current medical recommendations to treat a Cancer found during a screening procedure are always the best thing to do? Just because a screening test exists, should it always be used?

9. Do you think any screening tests in and of themselves might hurt a patient’s health and should be avoided?

10. Do you note the difference between what studies show and how difficult it is for the medical establishment to make change in policy or in their former recommendations? How much new information needs to be found in order for the old policy to be revised? As technology improves also, sometimes old recommendations don’t change, have you noticed that? (I refer to the use of radiation x-rays for mammogram routine screenings when perhaps safer ultrasound or MRI could be used instead now that we have those technologies.)

An article I read today touches upon the questions I asked in numbers 1-8.

There are too many paragraphs for me to quote all that I feel are important. This is a short article in which nearly every paragraph is important.

I recommend you read this once or twice, and think about it, then save it for another day and re-read it. If this doesn’t get you thinking about current medical practices and recommendations, I don’t know what will.

Article Title: Two Big Studies Tackle Debate on Prostate Test
By: Keith J. Winstein
Published in: The Wall Street Journal
Date: 3/19/09

Note this article covers America and Europe and the two establishments are not in sync with their recommendations—America is advocating more prescreening with the PSA test than Europe. Why that is a fact is something else entirely that I’ll leave you to ponder. Two hints: who profits from the pre-screening test and the treatment and could pushing for screening test and treatments be for profit-making purposes and could the legal climate (malpractice lawsuits) have something to do with it?

Lately the medical establishment has been bashed as the cause for rising health care costs, when recommending too much testing and doing too many unnecessary tests or procedures. The medical establishment might blame ignorant patients for causing some of their own medical problems (poor lifestyle choices) or for not seeking preventative care or not doing early medical screening tests.

My opinions on the American health care system are based largely in part from the eleven years I worked in the medical field, on the doctor side then later on the insurance side (an HMO that also dealt with Medicare and Medicaid). I hold many opinions about wellness and medical care and self care based on my own reading of numerous books and to a much lesser degree, in-depth TV show reports, newspaper and magazine stories.

The medical field in America is a huge blame game. Every involved party feels the other is the source of the problem: patients, employers, health care insurance companies, doctors and all other health care professionals and organizations (hospitals etc.), lawyers, and state and federal government and government agencies and federal and state programs. It is such a mess that there is no simple or easy fix including national healthcare. The issues in the health care system are complex and problems are interrelated and sometimes causes by several factors, all intersecting and influencing each other, some of which involve laws and lawsuits.

What I do know is that one thing we can control is our own knowledge and to what degree we are informed. As humans we cannot control completely our own medical and physical state but we can try to make better choices regarding lifestyle and nutrition and know something about the preventative medical care and treatments that are recommended to us when/if we do get sick with an illness.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

PC Problems Continue and Mice Debacle

My PC is a mess and is not fixed yet.

We dealt with Symantec Norton Anti-Virus and they could not fix the issue, saying "it is a product problem". Period.

Complainted to Symantec about paying $100 with no fix. They gave a refund.

Purchased Bit Defender which has my computer at a snail's pace. I cannot usually open my email program (Outlook Express) and when it does open it can take 20 minutes to just let me see the inbox. When I try to read an individual email often it won't let me, the program locks up and shuts down.

When using my husband's PC and our laptop the Symantec program is slowing it to a snail's pace. We need to uninstall that and install Bit Defender. Anyway I say this only because the other computers in the house are not cooperating either! What bad luck!

I cannot get into email enough to access info on BlogHer account to get new ad code to reinstate my BlogHer ads. That means I am losing money daily. Great. Apparently some spyware or malware on my system was forcing spyware ads on top of what was supposed to be a legitimate BlogHer ad.

The PC problems are such that I could not do a real blog post of anything of substance today, so this is the best it will get I guess.

The new anti-virus program keeps finding new viruses on my system. We ran several long scans today.

In my non-computer time I decided to do some gardening prep and to get two items ready to try to resell on Craig's List. It was sunny out but chilly. However in that process I found a mouse nest in my detached garage, where they overwintered, which was a total mess and took over three hours to partially clean. I saw a big fat field mouse running out near my feet which made me scream (on instinct). I am not done cleaning it yet. It is horrible and smelly, terribly smelly and I pray that the smell has not permeated the cement floor for a permanent urine odor. The mice ate the preemergent weed killer (organic) as it is corn-based. They also ate some 'good stuff' that had to be thrown away. Needed the wet-dry vac and realized it is missing its filter so could not use it, husband says he thinks we'll be forced to buy a new one now as he has no clue where the filter is. I have a vague memory of it getting ruined and him throwing it out and he thinks it is non-disposable. At the end of all of that, I found a dead mouse in the garage too. What a horrid way to spend the afternoon.

Still I do look forward to having a new big garden here this summer, veggies and herbs and flowers! Dealing with field mice in garages and sometimes in basements, attics and behind walls is a fact of life when living in the woods. It is a trade-off but I hate dealing with the gross parts like this mouse-mess.

I was reminded again about clutter and how things get wasted when not used sometimes. That could be the subject of another blog post on another day.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

More on the Copyright Infringement for the Obama Hope Poster

On February 4, 2009 I blogged about a story that was in the news of artist Shepard Fairey who was being accused of using an AP photo of Barack Obama and digitally altering it and publishing it as a poster which has turned into t-shirts and many other items during Obama's campaign. My point was that just because it is easy now to steal images and to break copyright law does not mean it is ethically right or legal.

On March 16, 2009, there was an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal by L. Gordon Crovitz on this same news story, The Fine Art of Copyright, he said the same thing I did, that "the case of a photo-turned-poster of Barack Obama is a reminder that just because technology makes something possible doesn't make it right".

The photographer that took the original image that was used by Fairey is Mr. Garcia. Here is a quote from the WSJ op-ed piece:

"Mr. Garcia was irritated when he learned Mr. Fairey had used his photo. "When I found out, I was disappointed in the fact that someone was able to go onto the Internet and take something that doesn't belong to them and then use it," he said. "That part of this whole story is crucial for people to understand: that simply because it's on the Internet doesn't mean it's free for the taking, and just because you can take it doesn't mean it belongs to you."

I agree with this from the op-ed:

"Digital technology complicates copyright, but technology doesn't override the importance of showing respect for the work of others."

I am surprised that the story was online on a blog on 2/4/09 and I blogged it on 2/4/09 and the WSJ is running an op-ed on 3/16/09 (pretty late if you ask me).

Maybe I should get a gig writing for the newspaper...

Related Post:

One Example of Why Blogs and Emails Are Sometimes Superior to Newspapers

Grocery Store: Arthur Avenue Part One

I took these photos at a grocery store on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.

The display of goods outside the shop and on the sidewalk is not something we see today in the suburbs.

The inside of the shop was loaded with merchandise. Semolina flour for break making and corn meal for polenta were sold in open fabric sacks, to be scooped into a bag and sold by the pound. The olive selection was impressive.

The aisles were so narrow that it was hard for two people to walk past each other. I would have taken more photos inside but I felt to do so would be too intrusive. Just stopping to take a photo, I was in the way of customers trying to shop.

I love the bright colors of the packaging of foods imported from Italy.

(Double click on any image to enlargen.)

Photos taken by ChristineMM on Arthur Avenue, Bronx, New York on 3/19/09. Copyright ChristineMM 2009.

Not Sure Why I'm on Twitter But I Am

I've been testing out Twitter. I didn't get what the site did or could do for me so I joined.

My name there is ChristineMMTTM, since my usual online handle of ChristineMM was already taken by another user. My name means ChristineMM + TTM which stands for "The Thinking Mother".

I still don't really get Twitter except that I can share online article links or links to my own blog posts.

I have people following me and I can't figure out why. Most are not my friends or my blog readers. I think they found me by sharing one or more of the same following lists, such as I follow Wall Street Journal and so do they.

I do find too many posts by Wall Street Journal and wish they could narrow down the subscriptions such as having us follow their finance articles versus education versus health.

Anyhow, I figured I'd share that I'm Twittering.

If you have any explanations of how I can use Twitter better can you leave me a comment?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Hope for My Older Son's Science Career

Well hearing this forecast of the future there is hope for my older son's career aspirations. He would love to be an inventor but the more practical job he wants is to be an engineer.

"Duncan told the National Science Teachers Association during a visit to New Orleans that President Barack Obama sees a need for inventors and engineers along with poets and scholars and "will not allow scientific research to be held hostage to a political agenda."

Quote from article: Duncan Eyes 'New Era' in Science Teaching, an AP story published in Education Week, dated 3/20/09.

I find this interesting although since at present my children are opting out of America's public education system (to be educated at home) I don't know whatever hope and change President Obama's administration brings would affect my children.

Found via: Twitter: Education Week on 3/20/09

Ending the Week on a High Note

This week started off very much not good but is ending on a high note.

The Bad

My kids have been really sick and the beginning of the week they were still on antibiotics and spending time resting in bed. I have been fighting back negative thoughts that "now my kids are behind in homeschooling lessons due to having been sick for the last month".

I have been pretty much offline all week due to a computer virus issue with my PC. After about seven hours getting help from various employees of Symantec we now know the issue is our Symantec software is malfunctioning. Great.

And did you know that sometimes even after using the Symantec anti-virus program when you ask for help they want you to pony up $100 for the 'necessary professional help'?

And did you know when that $100 help does not work that they say "It is a problem with the product"? And there is no solution given?

Which means later today we will be buying Bit Defender and installing that instead.

We preferred Symantec as they let you use the software on five computers while Bit Defender only allows you to use it on three.

And now my husband's PC is not working due to Symantec's virus program slowing down and hogging up all his memory, paralyzing the computer for over an hour last night, until I gave up and just shut it down without ever being able to use it.

Anyhow I'm realizing how many little work processes I rely on the computer for.

I was delayed in placing an order for pre-emergent weed killer (organic) and finally gave in and placed the order by phone.

I am now late on researching and preparing an online order for vitamins and supplements.

I was nearly a day late in seeing what the Amazon Vine review program was offering me. (I missed out on what looks like a cool 3D illustration book on the history of inventions. My son will be disappointed.)

I am behind on email and could not check RSVPs for a homeschool class I had organized.

You get the gist. I use the Internet for more than silly stuff. And I am quite behind on the blog posts that I usually write when my muse strikes.

The Good

Both of my kids seem to have recovered from their sicknesses save for one who still has pink eye. The other antibiotics are finished and they seem well. They needed this week for healing from the end of the illnesses then resting up so they didn't get a rebound illness like happened to them with this bout of illnesses.

Even Better Stuff

Anyhow the good news is that all day yesterday our family was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City for a homeschool history class. That was great then we went through some exhibits after. We got to see some things related to history that we have been learning about. I got to see the modern art section for my personal fulfillment.

We spent time on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx (like a Little Italy). We shopped in unique food shops that made me feel like I'd stepped back in time. We ate a delicious meal in an Italian restaurant where there is no printed menu and where the prices are a surprise. (Rumor has it the prices go up if you are rude or a pest to the waiter.) I saw many sites while I was the passenger in our car and am itching to make art now.

Yesterday was a full day of creativity sparks and inspiration and I don't mean just the sites at the Met. I saws tons of inspiration from the window of my car (I was the passenger). Between the streets of New York City and Arthur Avenue, I saw enough photo-worthy things to fill a coffee table book. I used my new camera and was brave with snapping shots. I carefully composed and what resulted was very good, I think. I was not intrusive or excessive, although I now regret not taking shots of some other things I saw on Arthur Avenue. From the car I saw lots of texure stuff that I wish I could have taken photos of. I wish I could have walked the route between Grand Central Park and the Bronx to take some of those photos, but to be honest it is probably not the safest thing to do!

We saw the new Yankee Stadium, drove around it and past the old stadium which I'm told will be demolished.

We also had my son's friend with us for half of the day and we all enjoyed his company. It is fantastic when one's children pick 'good kids' to be friends with. Hooray! My boys were happy to share the day with their friend too.

I found two great art books at The Met gift shop. My older son found an art book he wanted (gasp) and I indulged him (I'll probably blog the story later). I can't wait to start reading those art books.

Another great thing about this week, especially in the last 24 hours, is I am immensely enjoying a book I am reading about Autism. I plan to blog separately about that as I have a lot to say about it.

So despite computer woes that are still unfixed (I'm taking a chance by using my PC right now) this week is ending on a high note with happy moods and surges in creativity. I'm feeling very much that "life is good", happy to be living in this land of opportunity (even despite political craziness in America right now).