Monthly Archives: May 2015

Sunday Morning Shout Out

sick cartoonThis past week, our oldest was home sick from school, three days in a row.  Our oldest is the most self-directed 11 year-old I’ve ever seen.  Yet even self-directed 11 year-olds and mama/papas, hoping to bring comfort and stave off boredom for a little “sicky,” can run out of fresh ideas to entertain their sick child, when they are not resting.  You can only watch so many things and read for so long when you are sick.  Also, the things that may normally entertain and inspire, may sit idle because of dulled, sick eye.  While I was doing some extra cleaning in her room, I happened to come across some forgotten toys and art supplies.  These seemed to be the spark she needed that last day she was home.

Yet sometimes mamas/papas of sick kiddos have lost their spark.  Lost sleep and the demands of sickness can leave little room for inspiring new thoughts.  So it means it’s time to consult the oracle.  When you google sick kids and activities, of course a myriad of suggestions come up.  At the “She Knows” blog, they have some fun suggestions, ranging from steamy swirl drawing for croup to butcher paper full scale renderings of your child, left for them to decorate.

Web MD also has great suggestions for quiet activities for sick children.  Crafts are a biggie on their list, but so are audio books, using Skype, or any other type of video conferencing, with grandparents, aunt, uncles, etc.

As the saying goes, this too shall pass.  Meanwhile, different and interesting activities on sick days can make them pass faster.  What do you like to do to help your child pass a sick day?


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Sunday Morning Shout Out

Sometimes we are granted the gift of great clarity.  And there it was for me within the dazzling sunlight, as I drove back from dropping the girls off at school on a fine, summerlike May morning.  I was choked up watching them walk into the school.  They were so alike in their resolve and confident stride, and yet are so wonderfully, at times almost magically different from one another. –Our oldest, so serious, focused, thoughtful and ready for her day, our youngest girl -calm, kind, bubbly sunshine energized for her day.   Like small flowers blooming, they grow in childhood.

There was our youngest, our son.  Like dew drops touching little buds and little plants, our boy sat eager faced and excited about next year’s prospect of preschool, as we sat outside the school doors.  Later that day, his preschool registration would occur.  As I sat overwhelmed by my feelings, it abundantly hit me that here I am in the prime of life.

On this clear morning, I realized that yes it’s true.  There would be a day when I longed for this-this, that was right before me.  I would long for the days where state projects, Girl Scout meetings, homework, baseball nights, and entry into preschool occupied my days and thoughts with them.  I would miss the bedtime struggles of reluctant sleepers, who want millions of cuddles and reassurances before they go to bed at night, while all mama wants is some stillness and quiet.  I would even miss the bickering and meltdowns- okay maybe not.  All too soon, this phase would be done-this phase of young boyhood/girlhood and lovely innocence.  Right now, they seem content for the most part in the now, and in doing, being where they are at in life.  In this beautiful becoming, they are like Eric Carles’ caterpillars, turning into butterflies.

All too often, my vision is foggy.  I am dazed by the dizzying activities, antics, and energy of young children in middle life.   We are rushed as a society. As parents, we are collectively pushed, prodded, and left feeling almost bullied by the demands of everyday.  Yet, every now and then (and man do I wish it was more) we can see all we have in front of us.  We are graced by its touching beauty, as we realize life’s fragility and rapid passage of time.  This is a place I would like to linger and a feeling I will remind myself of more often. Children are a gift; the gift is now….

Happy Mother’s Day…Everyday!


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Monday “Think About It”

Image Source: Divide by Zero

Image Source: Divide by Zero

As we enter more and more dialogue and attempts to measure teacher effectiveness and ability it may be heartening to remember writer and futurist Arthur C. Clarke (1980) who once wrote: ‘Any teacher that can be replaced by a machine should be!’.  But just how do we know who should be replaced and by whom?

For that matter can teaching be automated?  Can teachers be replaced by robots?  Do robots teach better than human teachers?  An academic research study looks at aspects of these questions.  Recently published in Teaching in Higher Education Sian Bayne’s (2015) article ‘Teacherbot: Interventions in automated teaching‘ tests digital education and human/non-human teaching by experimenting with ‘Botty’ the Teacherbot.



Sian Bayne (2015) “Teacherbot: interventions in automated teaching”  Teaching in Higher Education  20 (4).

Clarke, A. C. (1980) “Electronic Tutors.” Omni Magazine, June.

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Sunday Morning Shout Out

As a writer and parent, I am sure this thought isn’t anything brand new.  Parenting seems a lot like a banking system.  Some of our actions, our children’s actions– some days, some moments, seem to fill our accounts and our children’s.  Other days, its total withdrawals and a depleted account for everyone.  While still other days, we are asking the bank manager (ourselves, our partners, our best friends, our buddies) what things mean for both our children and ourselves.

Let me look back on the week.  Last weekend, I returned home from an all day Girl Scout event with our girls.  I walked into an incredibly funny sight.  Boy wonder and chief mischief maker had a painted camouflage face, from an event at the awesome Iroquois Wildlife Refuge.  He looked like a Lilliputian turkey hunter!  Add major deposits in the chuckle, LOL category.  There he was, my husband’s mini me, eating a plate full of cauliflower, with a green “camo” face. ­-Interest earned for walking into this funny scene!

Two tired girls and the parenting equivalent of a root canal- a large bedtime meltdown, ensued.  This was a major downer and debit.  Withdraw some big reserves, as evening becomes night.

More meltdowns and fatigue among the weekend warriors on Sunday morning, debit, debit, debit. Exacting consequences (lessons) so we thought, some substantial deposits.  The mister and I losing some couple time for two children on lockdown, withdraw, withdraw. -Taking one for the sake of the team (saying and doing what we mean), deposit.

So the week goes on.  As two young ladies do their best to look like “law abiding citizens” before the parole board (calm and appropriate behavior on the home front), we add some more deposits.  There seem to be great signs of recidivism.  I find two reminders that the girls created for themselves, outlining rules to live by.  Caching! I am planning what the segment for our family will look like on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”  But, take some big hits to the account with toddler meltdown of the extreme kind, school morning fashion drama, and a certain amount of “bad attitude” that seeped in midweek.   My account ledger is looking unbalanced and a little hard to figure out. But then I hand it over to my parents to see if theirs looks the same.  They report that theirs has evened out for the most part.  It only took the better part of their children’s thirties.

This parenting stuff is messy accounting!  We all strive for moments and days of deposits and interest earned, compared to withdraws and “tacked on charges.”  While some debits and withdraws are out of our control and are a result of children’s choices and actions, we are often allowed to choose the type of banker we wish to be. –Wishing you, my fellow parent, if you wish for me in return, the discernment and wisdom to be a great “financier!”  If our homes are our banks, what kind of bank is yours? With some hard effort and perhaps a little luck, may ours all be strong and may our ledgers balance…

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Monday “Think About It”

Last week I posted a finding from the study titled ‘The Shriver Report Snapshot: An Insight Into the 21st Century Man‘.  Here is another interesting finding you may want to reflect on for the day.  The report says:

The qualities that men want in a wife do not correspond with what they want in a daughter when they grow up.

  • When asked to select from a list of 10 qualities that men most want in a wife or female partner, heterosexual men are most likely to want a wife or female partner that is intelligent (72%), attractive (45%), independent (34%), and sweet (34%).

    • While both 18- to 49-year-old men and those age 50 and older are most likely to want a wife or female partner that is intelligent (68% and 77%, respectively), 18- to 49-year-olds are more likely to want a wife or female partner that is attractive (50%) than are men 50 and older (38%). Conversely, men 50 and older are more likely to want a wife or female partner who is principled (37%) compared with 18- to 49-year-old men (19%).
  • However, when men are asked to choose qualities they are looking for in a daughter from the same list, the qualities do not match up. For a daughter, men still select intelligence (81%) as their top choice, but men place greater import on independence (66%), as well as being strong (48%) and principled (35%). While 34% of men want a wife or female partner to be sweet, just 19% have the same wish for a daughter.


Men Key Findings 9


As a male I’m a bit startled by the differences that appear in the qualities we men want in a Female Partner and a Daughter.  I don’t agree with all of them but I can see some differences in the qualities I want.  Impressed that intelligence is the highest category for both!

Here are some options provided by “A Woman’s Nation™” that you can take to know more about the study and the findings:

I hope you remembered your Mother yesterday!

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Sunday Morning Shout Out

Pets just have so much to offer.  I was reminded of this twice this week.  First the message came with a personal experience and one of our pet chickens.  It came second in a great piece that was written in ‘The Washington Post‘, “Want to Raise Empathetic Kids? Get Them a Dog,” by Denise Daniels, Child and Parenting expert.

Pets, any pets, are more than just a gill, a feather, a wagging tail, or an “attitudinal” or cuddly cat.  They are companions and great teachers of some of life’s largest issues.  As I have written about before, we have egg laying chickens.  One was lost last fall to a probable heart malady or other sickness.  This week we had to put one down.  Our beloved rooster Bozo came to his end after an aggressive streak.  Mind you, this is built into roosters.  We knew this going in to it.  Up until the last few weeks he was a kind and calm fella.  But once they reach full maturity (about a year), they become even more protective of their hens, feisty, and promiscuous in the chicken way.  Up until most recently, he was the type of chicken you could easily pick up, cuddle, and pet.  Towards the end, he’d aggressively run after you, bat you with his feather, fly at you, and as our three and half year-old son learned, scratch and peck you.

It was his “in between days” that were a joy.  He was beautiful, multicolored- such a proud and lovely sight to behold.  He was funny, almost comical in the way he’d run like a turkey, just gaze at you, and become mush in your arms.  He watched out for his girls, Comet and Snowflake.  He and Comet were inseparable mates and almost sappy in their attention to one another.  While Snowflake is at the top of the pecking order and often “travelled alone,” he also looked out for her.  In the last month, he never left the two chickens’ sides.  The kids loved him for his quirkiness, gentleness (except at the end), regal nature when he wasn’t being a clown, and love of his chicks.  He showed them how to look out for each other, that you could be both goofy and proud, that flair comes with being a colorful character, and that love defies any pecking order.  He also offered them sad truths about life and death, choices that have to be made when it comes to safety and care, and quality of life issues.  Our chickens are free ranged.  We all decided that to keep this guy in a pen the rest of his life was unfair to him and not the life he’d want.  It was hard, so very hard. It again was one of the many hello and goodbyes in this life.

“The Washington Post” article that I referred to brought up some of the same points.  It underlines how pets are great teachers of emotional intelligence.  As Daniels writes, emotional intelligence is the best indicator of child’s success in school, outweighing academic abilities.  She discusses unlike IQ that to many is fixed from birth, emotional intelligence can be nurtured and strengthened in someone.  Its cornerstone, empathy and the ability to understand and connect with others, needs to be stressed from a young age.  Recognizing and meeting the needs of an animal gets even the most aloof child outside of herself and concerned for the welfare of someone or something else.  For a child, taking care of animals is empathy at its best!

Daniels also discusses how taking care of pets teaches responsibility and builds self confidence, when done well.   They can even be great reading buddies, giving the most reluctant practicing reader a silent, yet supportive audience who is all ears, tail, gill, or feather. When a child needs to read out loud, they maybe more willing and wanting in front of a pet.  She goes on to discuss the studies and her experiences that find pets to be great stress reducers and helpful in helping children express their emotions in the most dire and tragic of situations.  She discusses the children who went through Hurricane Katrina and Sandy Hook and the difficulties they had with their sadness and anger.  Pet therapy was used and greatly facilitated comfort and communication.

Our Bozo was more than a rooster, just as your pet is more than a fish, cat, dog, or rabbit.  As we told our children, with the joy of pets, also comes their sorrow.  A life lesson indeed….

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Monday “Think About It”

A recent study posted on the “A Woman’s Nation™” web site focused on the life, roles and values of 21st Century American men.  Titled ‘The Shriver Report Snapshot: An Insight Into the 21st Century Man‘ one finding of the report to think about this lovely Monday morning is:

4 in 9 of today’s men say that it is harder to be a man today than it was for his father.  The most common reason given for this sentiment is women attaining a stronger position in the workplace, a stronger position financially and greater gender equity.  In fact, 30% of American men agree that women taking on greater responsibility outside the home has had a negative effect on the confidence of American men.  Men also mention negative social assumptions about men, a more competitive job market, greater household responsibilities for men and greater expectations for men in society today as reasons why it is harder to be a man today.

Being a male I can agree with aspects of this finding and agree that it is definitely different and probably harder to be a man today than it was for my father.  However, I also believe that the same hold true for women as the expectations they experience have changed dramatically as well.

As always I suggest you read the full report to develop your own insights and take-aways.  Here are some options provided by “A Woman’s Nation™” that you can take to know more about the study and the findings:


More about “A Woman’s Nation™“: Founded in 2011 by Maria Shriver, A Woman’s Nation™ (formerly called “The Open Field Foundation”) is the successor to The Women’s Conference® organization that was led by Ms. Shriver when she was the First Lady of California from 2004 through 2010.  One of the values they hold is that: ‘We at A Woman’s Nation™ believe that no gender succeeds at the expense of others. We believe in a gender-respectful society, and that requires the engagement and empowerment of all individuals.’

Remember Mother’s day is this Sunday!

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