Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dance Class

Sam started her ballet/tap class a few weeks ago and she's loving it!  She's able to learn more of the steps than I thought she would.  That Tumbles class was a great way to introduce her to following someone else's motions.  I get to watch the class on a closed-circuit TV in the lobby of the studio, but I hear Sam's voice through the door, giggling and squealing and saying, I DID IT! LOOK AT ME!  I go home each time with aching cheeks from smiling for 45 minutes straight.

In the ballet part of the class, they are teaching her actual ballet positions and movements and naming them, so that Sam now glides away from me at the supermarket saying, I'M SASHAYING, MOMMY!  I love that because it reminds me of my own ballet days.

But it's the tap that Sam really loves.  Her face lights up in the most amazing way when she puts on her tap shoes, and she is actually practicing at home.  This is definitely going in her Value Book, but that's another post for another time.

That's all I have to say about dance class.  All the words are really just an excuse for putting up these photos:

Monday, September 27, 2010

LePort Schools' New Web Site

LePort Schools is a group of schools (pre-school through junior high) in Orange County, California.  I have a few friends who work there, and I attended a course at OCON this summer given by Ray Girn, their CEO.

LePort recently unveiled a new web site.  It holds an amazing wealth of information that can be useful for just about all parents.  I'm particularly excited about it because of how much it is going to help me with homeschooling.  It may sound crazy, but this web site will replace Susan Wise Bauer's The Well Trained Mind as my homeschooling bible.  It's that rich, and that good.

The web site goes beyond giving some vague mission statement with a hodgepodge of ideas thrown in, as most school web sites do.  In dozens of organized, easy-to-navigate pages, rich with content (and beautiful photos), it covers just about everything that makes LePort what it is: pedagogy, curriculum, motivation, teacher qualifications, enrichment, personal development, and more.  Every principle is clearly related to the school's mission:
Our Goal: A Student Who Flourishes As A Joyous Child Today, and As A Successful Adult Tomorrow

To give you a taste of what you will find at this web site, here are a few quotes.

From the page, How We Teach Mathematics (this is one paragraph of fifteen on this page, and this page is one of five discussing grades 4-8 math alone):
The facts practice component helps students build computational speed and retain basic facts such as mental multiplication (9 x 12 = 108), fraction-percentage equivalents (1/8 = 12.5%) and measurement conversions (1 mi = 1760 yds). Students start each class with a timed facts practice quiz that encourages them to improve their scores day after day. When someone says, "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep, Have you any _______", the word wool immediately jumps to mind. No effort is required. The goal of our facts practice program is to enable our students to similarly access a range of math facts without effort—so that they can instead use that effort towards analyzing a complex problem.

From the page, How We Teach Science:
We teach science based on observations our students can make of the world. This ensures that science remains about discovering the world, not memorizing mere jargon. For example, in astronomy, a fourth or fifth grader learns to identify some useful and interesting constellations, and spends time observing the regular motions of the planets, moon and sun. He learns to predict their positions, and therefore develops skills in thinking like a scientist.

From the page, Encourage Curiosity:
At LePort, we motivate by the “detective story principle”: we start with the child’s natural desire to learn, and appeal to that desire by presenting, at the start of a lesson, material that raises a question in the child’s mind. Once we have awakened his curiosity, we then present him with the content of the lesson – content he is eager to understand and apply because of the way it has been presented to him.

From the page, Apply Through "Work":
We are deliberate with the exercises we create: applying knowledge happens when students have to think about the content; thus, our exercises are not “popsicle stick” projects, or papier-mâché dioramas – but require real intellectual work.

If you go to the Literature pages, you'll find a partial list of books that they use in their curriculum.  If you go to the Mathematics pages, you'll find out which well-known homeschooling curriculum they've modified for their own use.  The Language Arts pages are particularly helpful to me because I've been struggling with how to properly outline my goals for Sam in what was always thrown together as "English" when I was in school.  There are concrete examples of all kinds of things they do at LePort, like playing "Editor in Chief" in grammar, actual word problems used in 4th grade math, etc.  It's really impossible to capture the breadth and depth of information available.  The only thing missing is the actual curriculum!  Oh, and they have a newsletter.

Outside of those who are actually considering LePort schools and homeschoolers, I think anyone who is actively searching for a school in any part of the country, or even those vaguely dissatisfied with their child's current school should check out this web site.  LePort is what a school might and ought to be, and this site is what a school web site might and ought to be.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Good Guy

Me: Sam, we're going to go to New York again in January!
Me:  Yes, remember the place with all the really tall buildings?
Sam:  YEAH.
Me:  Remember how we went to the top of the Rockefeller Center building?
Sam:  UH. UM?
Me:  That was the building where we went to the top and then we went outside on top and we were really high?
Me:  Rockefeller was the man who built the building.  [I had to look it up later to be sure, and it was his son who developed it, but of course, THE Rockefeller is who made it possible, and that's what I meant.]
Me:  He was a good guy.
Me:  No, because he made lots of money by working hard, and because he built that big building.

Monday, September 20, 2010

More on Values

I missed the Rush concert this weekend.

Rush is by far my favorite band.  My first cat was named Geddy after the singer, Geddy Lee.  Back in California I had a personalized license plate that read, "RRUSHH."  I've been to many Rush shows, mostly back in the Hold Your Fire and Presto days.  Rush took a long break from recording new music and touring at some point back in the late 90's, and I haven't liked much of their new stuff since then, but I know they still put on a great show, and I'd love to see them again.  The past couple of tours, I've had logistical difficulties, but this year I could have gone.

But there was one problem.  For Adam and I to attend would have cost over $500.

Now, that's not really much more than what I paid back in the late 80's in Los Angeles, if you take inflation into account.  And back then, I had a lot less money to throw around.  But going to Rush concerts was one of my top values, and I bought good seats from ticket agencies whenever I could manage it.

But now, I'd rather spend that money on a new vanity for the powder room.  Does that make me a pathetic old fart?  If so, I guess that's what I am.

I still do enjoy listening to Rush, though.  A few days ago, La Villa Strangiato came up in the rotation while Sammy and I were driving around town.  She had never heard it before, and she asked me, MOMMY, IS THAT DARTH VADAR MUSIC?

I'll exchange a concert for that, any day.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Little Justice

I forgot to mention three other things that sucked about my day yesterday:

  • I had to get totally naked and be measured by that plastic surgeon. That was humiliating enough to mar my entire day, right there.

  • The cat decided that the corner of our powder room was his new litterbox, which means we have a lot of stressful days ahead of us.  If you've ever had a cat, you know that this situation can easily end with the need to buy new flooring, and maybe even a new cat.

  • While I was letting the bleach sit and soak on the bathroom floor, Sam got diarrhea, and so we had to keep running upstairs for her to use the bathroom and there was a lot of cleaning up.  Oh my god, did I really do that five times a day for months when she refused to use the potty?  I guess I did.

All of that, plus the other stuff, on a day when I had the worst pain in well over a year.

Today is shaping up to be much better.  Most notably, my good friend A. reminded me that I should make a point to mention the nice Chick-Fil-A employee to his manager.  That kind of positive justice is something I try to remember to do, but it didn't even occur to me after that horrible day.  So today, after Sam's long-awaited session in the indoor playground, I did exactly that.  Thanks, A!  And thanks everyone else, for the positive thoughts.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lupus, Late and Lice

Don't let the alliteration fool you.  This is not a Three Good Things post. Actually, it's more like Three Bad Things.

I had a consultation with a plastic surgeon today about the liposuction.  I mentioned both my recurrent miscarriages and my mystery pain, and he told me that he is almost certain that I have lupus.  When I told him that there is lupus in my family, he was even more convinced.  I won't go into his arguments or his credentials here, but the bottom line is that he convinced me that I shouldn't write it off just because my bloodwork was negative.  (Lupus is such a problem in pregnancy that it is part of the standard battery of infertility testing, plus I'd been tested by a rheumatologist a couple of years ago.)  It may sound crazy, but I hope I have lupus.  If I do, it is treatable.  And it would explain every single health issue that I have.  So I guess that's not such a Bad Thing after all.  But still, my god, lupus.  Liposuction and everything else is on hold while I explore this new possibility.

Returning from the appointment, which was about 20 miles away from home, I took a wrong turn (I was thinking "lupus, my god, lupus.") and ended up being 45 minutes late picking Sam up from school.  (That's what happens in the DC area when you make a wrong turn.)  I called and called the school on the way there but nobody answered until 15 minutes after pickup time.  Poor Sam was sitting there waiting for me, not knowing where I was.  It was awful.  I felt like I had abandoned her.  It was even worse because, during this first week of school, the new kids go home an hour early, and every time Sam sees their mommies coming and I don't come, she cries.  I've been reassuring her all week that, "I will ALWAYS come and pick you up."  And then I wasn't there.  One of my worst parenting moments.  Ack - I'm flinching as I write this.

Then Sam's teacher handed me the dreaded letter saying, "There has been a case of lice in your child's classroom."  They said Sam was checked and nothing was found, so I didn't think much about it.  Then we went to Chick-Fil-A (as a way for me to make amends for my abandonment), where I told Sam she could play in the indoor playground and we could get a shake.  But standing in line, I saw a tiny black bug on her head.  I pulled her aside and looked at her scalp and it was covered, I mean, just covered, in tiny white specks.  I had just read in the letter that this is what the lice eggs look like.  So we got our food (and shake), but I told her she couldn't go in the playground.  She was devastated. The place was so packed we couldn't find a table, so one of the workers brought our tray of food out to an outdoor table.  I thanked him for bringing the food and said, "With the day that I've had, I really appreciate the help."  We sat and ate, and a few minutes later, the worker came out and said, "Since you're having such a rough day, I thought I'd bring you a little treat."  And he gave us a yogurt parfait.  It was an excellent Teaching Moment, as I explained to Sam how most people are nice and good, and how that man just made my whole day.  That was a really Good Thing.

Then I noticed that the little white specks came right off Sam's head when I brushed them with my fingers.  It turns out that Sam just went a little wild in the sandbox at school.  I promised to take her back to the Chick-Fil-A playground tomorrow.  So that worked out ok, too.

I don't have any neat way to tie up this little story.  I just had a remarkably difficult day.

Objectivist Round Up

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Just a Moment, Please

Does this sound familiar?:

Sam, it's time for nap.  Let's go upstairs.
That's good, but Toby doesn't need to be in his crate right now.  Can you let him out so we can go upstairs?
Okay, time to go up for nap.
Nice kisses.  Now up we go.
Samantha, we're going upstairs RIGHT NOW!  I'm going to count to three...

And suddenly, everyone is angry.

This is a type of conflict we're working hard to resolve right now in our family, especially now that school is back in session and everything is more structured and time-dependent.

I've struggled with this issue a lot.  I have a hard time enforcing any kind of "right now" because I can't give any reason for it other than the argument from authority.  I'm usually pleased to give Samantha the freedom to get to things as she is ready.  Sometimes, just allowing her that last kiss for the dog is all she needs.  Sometimes, she is deeply involved in something that doesn't look important to me, but is challenging to her (like working the locks on the dog crate), and once I figure that out, I want to give her that time.  But sometimes, she is just trying to see how much she can get away with, in which case I need to enforce the "right now."  It can be very difficult to tell which is the case, especially in the heat (well, speed) of the moment.  But I don't want to be the kind of parent who demands instant obedience, or really, obedience of any kind.

As a mental exercise, I asked myself what happens when adults have these conflicts over when to begin a shared activity.  I thought about how Adam and I interact when one of us is ready to leave the house (or watch the TV show or sit down to dinner or whatever) and the other isn't.  The answer was obvious: the person who is not ready says, "Just a moment, please."

I realized that this is quite a complex bit of communication, and that Sam needed to be taught how to do it and how it operated.  "Just a moment, please" tells the other person a number of things:

  • I heard you

  • I agree with your plan of action

  • I have something I need to do first

  • It won't take long

  • I appreciate your waiting for me

So for the past few months, I've been teaching Sam how to do this.  The main point I'm working on is that she needs to respond to my (and others') questions and directions with words.  This applies to all of our communications, so I'm often telling her things like, "I'll talk about that after you answer the question I just asked you.  Do you need me to repeat it?" or, "Billy said hello.  Do you have a response?"  When she is (apparently) picking at carpet lint and I've given her the five minute warning (always, always, give prior notice!), but she doesn't respond when I call her to dinner, I'll go over to her and get specific.  I'll tell her something like, "Sam, I called you to dinner.  You need to either come right now, or tell me what's going on.  You could say, 'I need a moment, mommy,' or 'just a moment, please.'"  This has worked wonders.  I'd estimate that about 70% of the time, she says, "just a moment, please," finishes what she is doing within 20 seconds, and then follows my directions.

It's true, sometimes she'll use "one moment please" as some kind of magic phrase just to put me off.  If she says it and then doesn't change in about 30 seconds, then I move to the next step.  I'll ask her to be even more specific.  "Samantha, you told me you'd come to dinner in a moment but you haven't come.  Do you need to finish something you're working on, or did you forget?" This almost always gets an honest answer, and if the thing she is working on will take too long to be practical, she is very accepting of the explanations I give her and doesn't fight it.

But if these things fail, then I know she is testing a limit.  Once I know this is the case, I feel just fine about picking her up and putting her in her chair, or carrying her up to her room if necessary.  But when I do my part correctly, it is surprising how rarely this happens.

I've fallen down on the job a bit lately, and I've noticed that we've often been falling into the pattern quoted at the beginning of this post.  In fact, that was an example from this afternoon.  The reason it's so hard for me to do is that I have to break earlier habits from when she was less mature.  A year ago, I had to use timers to get her to accomplish anything.  She was not capable of "just a moment, please," with all of its rich meaning.  I need to raise my expectations of her.  Once again, I notice that the most challenging part of parenting is simply keeping up with Samantha's level of development.  Respecting her means more than accepting her emotions, listening to her thoughts, and treating her fairly.  It also means actively working to teach her the life-skills that she needs, as soon as she is capable of learning them.

The great part of this story is that, when I'm consistent in teaching and guiding instead of commanding and patronizing, Samantha is polite, in the most natural and benevolent way.  After the earlier incident, I apologized and reminded Sam how to tell me if she needed a moment.  Upstairs in her room, we had the following exchange:

Go ahead and pick out a book to read before nap.

And there was peace in the house once again.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Little Thing

Saleslady at the music store:    Hello.
Samantha:    HI.  DO YOU HAVE A PET?
Lady:    Yes, I have a cat.  Do you have a pet?
Samantha:    YES.
Lady:    What kind of pet do you have?
Samantha:    TOBY.
Lady [to me]:    What did she say?
Me:    She said "Toby," which is our pet's name.  Sam, can you tell the lady what kind of animal Toby is?
Samantha:    HE'S...HE'S...HE'S...HE'S A BIG BROWN OAF.

Monday, September 13, 2010

It's All About Values

One month ago, I had my fourth miscarriage in a row.  That's four pregnancies and four miscarriages in one year.  I've been pregnant seven out of the past twelve months with nothing to show for it.  At this point, miscarriage is becoming just another regular event in my life.

After the first miscarriage, my attitude was that it was an isolated event, so I went into the second pregnancy feeling that it was probable that it would be successful.  However, I quickly had signs of an impending miscarriage, so I wasn’t surprised at all when I lost that one.  But because the first and second were so different, going in to the third one I still felt like it was probable that it would be successful.  In fact, I convinced myself on the third pregnancy that “this was the one!”  It wasn’t.  After that crushing blow, I couldn’t take pregnancy seriously anymore.  For this pregnancy, I continued to drink a glass of wine if I felt like it, I took ibuprofen, I went on roller-coasters, and I ate sushi.  The only concession I made to pregnancy was to stop using two medications that had less history of use during pregnancy.  I didn’t even calculate my due date.

Getting pregnant, for us, has almost nothing to do with whether we’ll have a baby.  It’s less than a first step.  It’s just a prerequisite for something that is highly unlikely to happen--maybe a little like the relationship between getting a part in your elementary school play and becoming a movie star.

That is not true for most people, but it is true for us.

A long time ago, on one of those cheesy TV shows about pregnancy and birth, I recall seeing the story of a woman who had had seven miscarriages over the course of seven years before she gave birth to her first baby.  I thought she was insane.  Who in their right mind would go through that so many times, and dedicate seven years to the project?  It’s just too much.  You probably expect me to say that now I’ve seen the light – that I understand that woman’s motivation and have changed my mind.  But you’d be wrong.

My situation is a bit different because we’ve only been working on this for 17 months, and also because we already have one child.  But the amount of time, focus, money, energy, physical pain, and emotional trauma that it has taken to get through those 17 months is not something I am willing to do forever.  So many things in my life have been on hold because of this, from deferring big plans like writing fiction to leaving bedrooms in the house cluttered and unfinished.  I’m in limbo in many ways, which is the state of existence I dread the most.  Sure, I’ve actually learned some important life-lessons from the whole experience, but I don’t think allowing it to go on and on would lead to any other positive side-effects like that.

I've had many friends tell me, "just keep trying - it'll happen."  I used to find comfort in that advice, but it is simply not true.  You always hear the success stories, but you never hear about the failures.  People are ashamed of infertility, and they understandably don’t want to broadcast their pain.  The fact is that our chances of having a baby go down with each miscarriage, and with each passing month.  And since there is no evidence of any problem, all we have to go on are statistics.

I can’t say for sure when I will quit, but I’ve told Adam that I think I only have one more try in me.  (He has some say in the matter, of course, but it is my body and ultimately, it’s up to me if I need to quit.)  I might change my mind if and when the time comes, but that’s my sense right now.  But if we do have one more failure and that’s all I can take, there are still two more options:  using an egg donor and adoption.

Adam and I haven’t fully discussed either option because we’re not there yet, but I’m at the information-gathering stage regarding donor-egg right now.  The idea of having a child that is genetically related to Adam but not to me was almost revolting when I first considered it.  And it still might be a problem for me.  But the more I think about it, the more comfortable I get with the idea.  I’m actually a bit more comfortable with adoption in some ways, but there are other downsides to that (the biggest one being that I would not get to be pregnant and give birth, with all the bonding those things entail).

For now, we’re taking a break on the baby-making project.  When we left the doctor’s office after the disappointing ultrasound, I told Adam that, because I hadn’t gotten my hopes up, I didn’t feel a huge loss this time, but that there were two things that were bothering me.  First was what I’ve already described – the problem of continuing to be in limbo and unable to move forward in so many ways.  Second was how fat I was getting.  It probably sounds petty to anyone who hasn’t gone through it, but I have no control over my weight right now and I’ve gained almost 15 pounds since we started trying to get pregnant.  My wardrobe is a disgusting conglomeration of fat-clothes, all purchased on an emergency basis at Target because I got too big for my last set of pants, and all expected to only be worn for a few months.  I can’t diet because I’m pregnant most of the time, and my hormones really control my weight regardless of what I eat anyway.  I can’t stand looking in the mirror, or even seeing my shadow on the sidewalk.

After I told him this, Adam was quiet for a bit and then he proposed two ideas.  First, we should chuck everything and take our long-delayed honeymoon in Italy as soon as possible.  That is a value that we can pursue right now, that we could not if we were about to have a baby.  And second, I should feel free to spend his hard-earned money on liposuction if I want to.

Now that’s a great husband!  It's not that he's generous or sympathetic or anything like that.  It's that he's always focused on pursuing values, and he's my inspiration to be the same way.

So, that’s what we’ll do.  Last week, we cleaned out the “nursery,” which had unintentionally become a messy storage room, and turned it into another playroom for Sam.  This week I have appointments with two plastic surgeons, I’m going to an informational session about donor-egg, and I’m working on replacing my lost passport.    We’re planning to attend OCON next summer, which means we have to delay any attempts to get pregnant for a few months anyway.  And in spring, we’ll be in Italy.  I’m trying not to think any further ahead than that.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Best Days

Today was a great day.  Today, I wore Sammy out.  I kept her going all day long and then right before bed, I had a monumental tickle fight with her.  She went to bed overtired and hyped up, and spent quite a bit of time screaming before settling in for the night.

But it was Adam's turn to put her down.  Ha-ha!  Score one for stay-at-home moms everywhere!

But seriously, we had a great day.  Adam had to work in the morning so I took Sam to a local festival.  She went in the moon bounce three times, rode a train, went on the super spinny teacup ride (a favorite for both of us!), had a pony ride, ate cotton candy, drank some Sprite, listened and danced to live music, and even used a porta-potty for the first time, which was quite exciting.  When we got home, she played with her friend next door out in the front yard for almost two hours.  Then, with Adam, we had an early dinner and watched The Little Mermaid, to kick off what we hope will become a semi-regular Saturday Family Movie Night around here.

It was a day when Sam was happily busy all day.  She had lots of new experiences, both physical and mental.  She used up all of her kid energy in a highly productive way, such as it is for a four-year-old.  It wasn't just fun (although, it was that).  It was one of those days when she did the work that she is meant to do.  She expanded her world and found joy in new experiences.  She did her job.

I've found that these are my best days - my favorite days.  This is the kind of day where I go to bed feeling proud of my accomplishments and totally fulfilled.

I gave my daughter a good day.  I did my job.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Objectivist Round Up

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The Sam Update - Four Years Old

Oh my god, I have a four-year-old!  It never ceases to amaze me, this thing called “growing up.”  After a brief hiatus early in the terrible threes, I’m back to thinking that every age is the best age ever.  Four-year-olds rule!

I’ll write about Sam's birthday party (parties) later, along with photos.  But I’ll include this picture for now, since it captures an expression on Sam’s face that seems to be typical of this age for her: a combination of shyness and excitement:

Back in March, I wrote about how Sam fell in love with tap dancing. I was ready to sign her up for lessons during the summer, but there wasn’t anything available so we did the Tumbles thing instead, which worked out very well.  After seeing how she behaved at Tumbles in the beginning, I’m relieved we didn’t commit to a series of dance lessons back then. Sam was completely unable to follow instructions in a class like that.  She would have stood still and watched and learned nothing.  But now, after Tumbles, and being just a few months older, she is ready.  She starts ballet and tap lessons on Monday.  She tried on her tights and leotard last night and I think she might actually put up with wearing them in order to look pretty and learn how to dance.

Yesterday was the first day of her second year of Montessori.  I remember when she started last year, how intimidated I was by the older kids.  I wonder if she felt the same way.  This year, she’s a middle kid.  (Montessori primary classes are made up of 3-6 year olds.)  She definitely made a lot of academic progress over the summer in her language and numbers (no thanks to our lazy Mossoff Montessori, but simply due to her own initiative).  She’s reading words on street signs and billboards when we go out and about now.  I teased her that she "snuck behind my back and learned how to read" one day, because the progress was so sudden.  She loves that, and it makes her try to read every word she sees.  She read “water” and “waste” the other day, with only a bit of help from me with the silent “e” and long “a” in waste.

We did a few counting games over the summer, and I can see that numbers are finally something of interest to her.  At the beginning of summer, she could count objects, but she’d get lost at around 8, or she would lose track with her finger or drop the object being counted and lose track of where she was.  Now, she can drop an object and pick it back up and continue counting, and she can keep track up to the mid-teens.

Sam’s observational skills continue to amaze me.  One thing that has not changed since she was about 20 months old is her awareness of the moon.  I don’t think I’ve noticed the moon once in that entire time without her pointing it out to me.  She sees it whenever it is out during daylight, and the few times we have her out at night, she always points it out to us.  I have no idea if this is common, or a particular interest of hers, but I sure do enjoy it.

But it’s not just her vision that amazes me.  Just yesterday, we were driving through an unfamiliar part of town and we stopped at a red light.  After she finished counting the red and green lights and giving me a lecture on how I should wait until my light turned green, she sniffed and said, MOMMY, I SMELL SOMETHING.  “What do you smell, Sammy?”  I SMELL A CAR WASH.  “Really?  I don’t smell anything. Maybe there is a car wash around here.”  I looked around and sure enough, there was a car wash a few doors up the block.  When I pointed it out to her she couldn't see it from her view in the backseat.  She had identified it totally based on smell, from half a block away.  She is also sensitive to the smell of gasoline, freshly cut grass, and farts.

Oh, yeah, she's really into the bodily function humor right now, too.  So it turns out that is not exclusively a little-boy phenomenon.

Another big thing that has developed over the past few months is whining.  I mean, Sam has whined for a while now, but this is her parental-torture-of-choice at the moment.  We work so hard at not interacting with her when she does it (and I really think we succeed most of the time) but she still does it a lot.  I say, “I hear a whining voice” or “I can’t understand you when you whine” or “Please use your normal voice” about a hundred times a day.  It’s only a phase; it’s only a phase; it’s only a phase.

Emotionally, it’s hard to judge Sam right now.  She can say things like, “I’m going to my room to calm down,” and actually do it.  This makes me so proud since we very explicitly taught her how, and modeled it ourselves.  It’s very rare that Sammy totally loses control of herself and lashes out for more than a moment.  It still happens, but it's so much less often.  And seeing her get angry and spit, but then deliberately stop herself is so gratifying.   On the downside, I think I’m seeing more "manipulation" from Sam.  (I put that word in scare quotes because I don't like its connotation of malice, but I don't have a better word.)  She tends to use things like, “I miss my daddy” or “Ouch, that hurts” along with tears to get attention.  I’m sure that’s somewhat normal, but it’s tough to deal with.  I want to respect and honor her true emotions, but I don’t want to fuel a drama queen.

Of course, her conceptual development is the most joyous thing, but it’s also the hardest to describe.  I usually notice it by means of the integrations I see Sam making.  I’ve posted a bunch of Little Things that give clues to what is going on in her head, but I know they don’t capture the big picture that well.  She is definitely developing her sense of place and time, and that is new.  Recently she has been asking “how long will it take to get there?” when we go someplace new in the car, and she’s been more deliberate about her use of “later,” “tomorrow,” “earlier,” and “five minutes.”

I guess the way to capture what is going on in Sam's head is to say that she is constantly working on Conceptual Common Denominators.  For instance, we watched The Sound of Music and we told her the Nazis were bad guys.  But then we had to convince her that not every person in a uniform was a bad guy.  Or, her friend next door went on vacation a few weeks ago and now every time her car is not in the driveway, Sam asks if she went on a trip.  Some of her errors make for the funniest stories, but I've been working hard at not laughing.  And when I do, I'm always sure to tell her that I'm laughing because I enjoy the connections she is making.  Not only is that true, but it's the understatement of the year!

Happy Fourth Birthday, Samantha!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Another Mystery

Yesterday's post reminded me of another mystery:  How can someone walk around all day without extreme anxiety, knowing this is sitting on his bathroom counter?

That is a bottle of rubbing alcohol (doesn't that stuff evaporate quickly or something?), with the cap upside down, balancing on the neck of the bottle, and a Q-Tip on top for good measure.  Oh, and did you notice that the bottle is hanging off the edge of the recessed sink?

Men are weird.  And yes, I put it away after I took the photo.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Does 6+6=4+8?

Is it just me, or would this make you uncomfortable about drinking the soda, too?  I mean, I don't see how that could have happened as an error in the normal packaging process.  (Yes, the 4-pack and the 8-pack were both inside the 12-pack, which is supposed to contain loose cans.)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Objectivist Round Up

Shea's Blog has this week's Objectivist Round Up.

A Little Thing

Sammy was really upset about something and no matter what I said, she didn't like it.  Finally, I asked her, "Do you want me to just be quiet?"  She said, very sweetly and sincerely:


I even managed not to laugh.  (I'm getting better at that!)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Little Thing

Samantha is currently fascinated with good guys, bad guys, and policemen.  The other day, we saw a policeman and Sam said:

Well, yes, sometimes they lock up bad guys to keep the good people safe.
They lock them in jail, or prison.