Thursday, February 28, 2008

Not practicing self-regulation skills too well today

So I'm having my coffee and reading too many blogs when I hear in the background on NPR,
So before Emmy and Zee even think about picking up a toy, they sit down with their teacher at a small classroom table and fill out some paperwork.
and I think, What?

On a small blank form, they spell out their intentions. "I want to play bookstore," each girl writes with assistance from her teacher.

Then she draws a picture of herself playing bookstore.

These are 4 year olds. They do paperwork before they can play?
Now, the reason that the Tools of the Mind curriculum asks kids like Zee and Emmy to fill out paperwork before they pick up the Play-Doh lies in the fact that today's play is very different from the play of past eras.
Now here I disagree. I think the play hasn't changed so much as the ADULT'S need to be involved and make sure it's done RIGHT. (Calm down. I'm yelling.)

This story is bs. My mother did not watch me play and make sure I developed "executive function" and self-regulation skills. She let me play in the mud and then she yelled at me for making a mess. And I learned to play paperdolls with my friend, DW, so she would play in the mud with me later.

I agree with the idea expressed that video games are not good for developing skills a kid needs and I think pretend play is excellent but I just don't get this.
And play needs to be facilitated by adults who are trained in observing children and in understanding how play contributes to children's mastery of concepts and skills.
I just wanted to invite those little kids over to make gingerbread at my house and the only paperwork will be a recipe which we might or might not follow! PRM

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

Aqueduct at Caesarea, with the Mediterranean Sea behind.
Floating, as if you could do anything else, in the Dead Sea.
Two years ago. I want to go back. NOW! PRM

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Grasshopper dissection and lunch

and, of course, I forgot to take pictures. Of the 2 girls and 3 boys, only one boy was willing to actually do the dissection. One of the girls thought she would dissect but the reality was too disgusting. I did the cutting of their grasshopper and the other boy eviscerated his specimen. It was possible to see much of the GI tract and the eggs, spiracles and tubules and Malpighian tubules. I think they enjoyed it somewhat but I always wonder if they learned anything.

I used these resources for preview

and I adapted my instructions from this
and other sources.

I printed the instructions and anatomy pictures and then laminated them. That way I can re-use them after an antiseptic wipe-down.

Then we went off to lunch. And AGAIN, we found our original destination was a restaurant that had recently closed. That makes 4 of our favorite, or at least common, dining choices to go out of business. Is this a comment on the local economic condition? Or is the restaurant business unusually prone to failure? Probably both.

One of the moms asked me if I was interested in doing labs with younger kids. I don't remember if she was specifically talking about biology or science in general. She was speaking of Noach's age group, 10 -12, maybe 9. I have to think about that. Physics and chemistry are easier to entertain younger kids than biology.

It has appeal, I must admit. But sometimes I find myself really dreading lab, especially the preparation. Younger kids also mean more parents and they get in the way. My kitchen will only accommodate a few people. Something to think about. PRM

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Journey Shaped by a Guitar

That's from NYT article on the Martin Guitar factory in the paper today. We went to the factory on our trip last spring, spending a wonderful afternoon there. The tour was informative but mostly it was just cool to watch the people practice their craft. PRM

Poetry Friday

in honor of the lunar eclipse, which we could not see because of cloud cover, and in anticipation of spring

who knows if the moon's

who knows if the moon's
a balloon,coming out of a keen city
in the sky--filled with pretty people?
(and if you and i should

get into it,if they
should take me and take you into their balloon,
why then
we'd go up higher with all the pretty people

than houses and steeples and clouds:
go sailing
away and away sailing into a keen
city which nobody's ever visited,where

Spring)and everyone's
in love and flowers pick themselves

ee cummings


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

Theme today - Nostalgia From the first activity, planting trees
to the final dinner, it was a wonderful, wonder-filled trip almost 2 years ago.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

MC Week 4 Spring Update

Not much change this week except the daffodils are a bit taller.

Our mystery class graph continues to show certain patterns.


Monday, February 18, 2008

A cow says moo

A sheep says baa
3 singing pigs say la, la, la

Oh, no you say

I have to stop. But I and the rest of my family could recite Sandra Boynton's text with nary a book in sight. We have given copies to younger family members, generally at birth, which may be a bit early. But, really, how can it be too early to hear these rhymes and see those charming animals?

I hope to start reading it soon to my Shayna Punim via the web-cam we have on the new laptop. What better way to remember her bubbe than to associate her with the words and pictures of Sandra Boynton?

BTW this topic came to me via a NYT article from yesterday about SB in the business section. She's been a very savvy businesswoman as well as writer/artist. PRM

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Oops. We forgot Poetry Friday BUT

Noach and I had Music Friday.

We went to Dad's workplace where the Appalachian State steel drum band named Steely Pan played. We had a great time.

Steel drum music is smiley music. You just can't listen and not smile. And move.

Friday, February 15, 2008


How can a cat do it all? Algebra. Biology. PRM

Thursday, February 14, 2008

It's not an optical illusion.

The font in the post below shifts. I can't fix it. I've tried. PRM

NY Times induced rant

I love the Times. I wish I could get it at home daily but it is too expensive and "it comes too often". I would be behind in only a few days. As it is, I skim the front page most days. And I buy an occasional Sunday edition when there is a long article in the magazine I want to read but is too long to read online.

One of my favorite sections is the obits. It is rare to find no one interesting to read about. Some are familiar and many are previously unknown but fascinating. How else would I have come to know Ruth Wallis, who sounds like quite a lively character. I would love to have met Ruth, wouldn't you?
Her signature number, “The Dinghy Song,” is an ode to Davy, who had “the cutest little dinghy in the Navy.” In 2003, Ms. Wallis’s work was the basis of an off-Broadway revue, “Boobs! The Musical: The World According to Ruth Wallis.”

After reading that I had to find The Dinghy Song on YouTube and here it is.

Today, however, I found 2 stories that just irritated me.

First, older first-time parents have to compromise their high-design dreams to accommodate the mess that children are. You can just hear the shrill "Stop! Don't touch that!" that those poor babies must listen to constantly. I understand mourning the loss of your pre-baby life, at least for awhile. My experience is that the first sight of that zeesa punim* makes everything fade into the background.
“I’m very concerned with what’s in my visual space. When people come into the house, I very much do not want them being bombarded with toys.”
Oh my G-d, children might be here!

Finally, my grumpyself was righteously validated by this article, Dumb and Dumber: Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge?
Not only are citizens ignorant about essential scientific, civic and cultural knowledge, she said, but they also don’t think it matters.
Don't think it matters? I think they are damn proud of it! An incurious president - an incurious public. A thoughtful, intelligent president - no, scary. Who would want to have a beer with someone like that? And, of course, it is essential to elect a president with whom you would like to share a beer.

Well, enough of my ranting. I need some deer to wander by to divert me. PRM

* I'm taking chances when I start using Yiddish. Is that the correct phrase? How do you spell that?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Theme today - Trying to get out of the public eye!
Note deer between the rails. This deer and a companion ran across my backyard this morning. Sadly they headed away from any woods when they bounded away. This is not a common site. PRM
Postscript -Phew, they came back while I was posting the above. I could have told them not to go that way. Now they're headed back out of town.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Mystery Class Wk3 Spring is coming?

We plotted our MC data yesterday and could see whose day was getting shorter and whose longer. Also Noach took some pictures in our yard to document the changes with spring. It was not very spring-like early yesterday, a cool 27 degrees when we got up.

This is some new growth on a branch of a rose bush. That's about as pretty as this bush gets. The Japanese Beetles have made rose cultivation no fun anymore.

Tulip poplar bud - The tulip poplar is really a magnolia, not a poplar.

Buds and new growth on the cherry tree. Let's hope there is no frost after the blooms set this year. Last year we lost ALL of the fruit in a late frost. The local orchards lost all their fruit as well. It was devastating to many.

Daffodils peeking out?

Next week, an update. PRM & Noach

Saturday, February 9, 2008

I SO want to go

here. And we were pretty close in August. We did go here and saw a wonderful Edward Hopper exhibit. PRM

Thursday, February 7, 2008

A miracle

This is a miracle. A whole page, handwritten.

Noach has been reading The Voyages of Ulysses by Clifton Fadiman as we continue our studies of Ancient Greece. He would read a chapter and then write a synopsis of the chapter. The first chapters warranted a few sentences but each has gotten a bit longer than the last. He has also enjoyed the story and I think that has made him excited to rewrite each episode. Tomorrow the last chapter.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Physical therapist, dentist and pediatrician

Three health professionals - three clients. Isn't that a more upbeat word than patient?

I had PT visit #4 of 5. My shoulder moves much better but there is still quite a bit of limitation and pain with certain movements.

Shoshie had a clean bill of teeth at the dentist. Even what she thought was a cavity is not.

Noach woke up with a cough and, as often happens when he gets a URI, began to wheeze. And of course we have no refill on an inhaler so we had to go to the pediatrician. Now he is taking a bit of Prednisone, 60mg a day for 5 or 6 days. I know - that's quite a bit. And the usual course is for him to be very reactive to any exercise for a week or so. He will be missing sports class for a week, I bet.

The other thing we did today is check out 2 exercise facilities, the local Planet Fitness and the Y. I really liked the Planet Fitness. It is relatively cheap and was really nice inside. They call it the Judgement Free Zone and it did feel that way. Of course, we went in at 11am, probably not a busy time. BUT you have to be 13 to participate. That leaves out Noach. And I think he is interested in some weight loss.

So we went to the local Y. Not fancy, not purple and yellow. But plenty of upscale equipment. And Noach can participate in some activities. He will be able to do even more in the summer when he is 12. It is slightly cheaper since Noach, Shoshie, Yakov and I will all be joining. No joining fee in February either. I think I'll join tomorrow.

Shoshie has to meet some physical fitness requirements for the Congressional Award. Yakov has been very conscious of his calorie intake and inadequate exercise for the last several months. His girlfriend must be behind that. And I think Noach has become very self-conscious about his weight. At a recent scout event, some of the bigger scouts were making fun of a fat scout who wasn't there. I could see that Noach was uncomfortable. And, of course, I need to lose weight, bigtime!!

So that's the plan, the YMCA. (Nooo, there's that singing voice again) PRM

Monday, February 4, 2008

Mystery class* Week 2

Noach recorded our sunrise and sunset for today and noted that the day was 12 minutes longer than last week. Spring is coming!! We also graphed the photoperiods of mystery classes 6 - 10. One class had a very long photoperiod. I wonder where that class is.

Pretty flowers and ugly tablecloth compliments of the biology lab a little later this morning. Flower dissection planned. PRM

* Every time I say or think "Mystery Class", I hear in my head "mystery date" as sung by JP who rarely misses a song or jingle reference. That's one of his most endearing habits.

Comparative history

This is the first in a 5-part blog entry at Blog Around the Clock by the blogger's mom, who was a Jewish child in eastern Europe during the Holocaust. She describes deprivation, fear, loss of parents.

I read this only a few days after finishing Stones in the River by Ursula Hegi. This novel is about a German citizen's view of the Nazi period, about deprivation, fear and loss. The main character is a sympathetic one, a dwarf or Zwerg in German, and thus, an outsider or object of Nazi disdain. She and her father hid Jewish friends and strangers. I have usually found myself, as a Jew, unsympathetic toward the German people of this time but this book forced me to look at some of them differently.

I was struck by the willingness of even the good guys to accommodate to the early Nazi restrictions on their freedom and it made me think about how we are accommodating the imfringement on our own freedoms as Americans now. Don't get me wrong. I know the most fascist members of our current government pale in comparison to the Nazis BUT the rhetoric of today is so reminiscent of the early rhetoric of the Nazis.

The good Germans came to regret letting their freedoms lapse, wishing they had stood up to the local bullies. I hope someday we do not feel the same way. I heard some commentator on the radio over the weekend say that the good thing about democracy is that the people get to change their minds after 4 or 8 years. I think it is time for a mind change. WAIT! I didn't use the c-word, did I? Noooooo. Mind, uh, uh, permutation. PRM

Friday, February 1, 2008

Mystery Class

Noach and I are going to do Mystery Class from Journey South. We did it last year for a few weeks but it was too hard to keep up with all 10 classes and our own data. Eventually I was doing all the work because he was not enjoying it.

I am hoping for a better outcome this year. I would like to find someone else to do it with so we could divide up the sites. I think Noach would like that better. It would be fun to "discuss" it with other participants as well.


Catching up

I have been a bad blogger, not keeping up at all. I promise to do better. To whom am I making this promise? I really only have one reader. Hi, there!!

We got back to our routine somewhat this week. I skipped bio lab so we could do Mobile Meals. Since there are 4 of us to help, we are an important part of the MM crew. I try to not miss too much. Also, if we aren't reliable, we lose our favorite route.

I started PT on my shoulder and have had remarkable improvement already. My fingers can meet in the back again. Soon I'll be able to put my bra on the usual way again. Michelle, my fvorite therapist, is very nice and gentle, but pushy and effective, too.

After therapy this morning, I met some friends for breakfast and we sat at the dinner for a couple of hours. That was fun.

Book club was last night and I was the only one to read the book all the way through. AGAIN!!! I enjoyed it. It was Stones in the River by Ursula Hegi.

Well, that's a thumbnail sketch of this week. PRM