Tuesday, May 31, 2005

May 31

Time got away from me again and it has been a while since I blogged. Just not enough time in the day. Zach is asleep so I have a few brief minutes ... hopefully!

Books lately:

I just finished "Homescholing: Take a Deep Breath --- You Can Do This!" by Terrie Lynn Bittner. I really enjoyed this one as it was written at not such as a dumbed down or simplistic level as some I have seen. It is still a good intro but goes into more detail while still providing a good breadth of topics. She has resources (books and websites) listed at the end of most chapters which were nice. Since it was a current publication date, the websites were also pretty much current too. That is always a plus. ;-) Anyway, it actually was quite a balanced viewpoint (she is a homeschooler), encouraging homeschooling but preparing the reader realistically rather than simply being a cheerleader style that everything will be wonderful. I highly recommend this one.

I also read "A Girl Named Zippy" by Haven Kimmel. This was a simple biography about the author's young childhood. I zipped (haha) through this one. It was interesting and enjoyable but not on one of my greastest books of all times list. I'm trying to encourage myself to read more biographies, typically not my favorites, and started with this lighter one to ease into it. It had some book club discussion questions in the back that I enjoyed reading and pondering. It probably would have been interesting to actually do this one as a book club honestly, a decent conversation starter without too much controversy.

I have probably read at least one more since my last update but I can't recall it. I read a couple parenting books, continually trying to improve on techniques to use for Zach that are effective yet gentle to his strong personality. I continue on my nonfiction trend and am enjoying learning and reading, typical of when my stress levels are lower.

We continue to accumulate all our Sonlight Pre-K curriculum books. The actual instructor's guide and some of the books arrived last week from Sonlight. Rather expensive for what they were I felt honestly. The rest of the selections I have been buying slowly used and have a few more left to hunt down. I still plan to start probably once I have the full set. I'm too much of a perfectionist to start prior to having all the books. Because of that I will likely do Sonlight as per the IG the first year and Janet's expanded schedule (with workbooks for math and handwriting plus extra read-alouds) in a second pre-K year prior to moving Zach on to kindergarten, again likely with Sonlight provided it goes well. Tommorow there is a local used curriculum sale of homeschools that I am going to and am hopeful for getting a few books maybe or just getting to see some of the other curriculum books "in person" since I haven't gotten to go to a convention or see displays from the vendors. It is sponsered through the SD Home Education group.

One thing the homeschool book I last read encouraged was that children dictate stories and notes prior to being able to write. It was not geared to someone as young as Zach but I'm going to hopefully try it this afternoon and start to make his blog his very own thoughts (written by me). If I can successfully keep up with this and he is cooperative (two big ifs) I think it would be wonderful to see his words and thoughts continue as he grows and develops. I loved the idea of getting his words and thoughts down more objectively. The author's suggestion was paper or journal, but online is honestly quite a bit easier for me.

Zach is still asleep so I'm going to sneak off for a little of my own reading. I'm starting "A Simple Path" by Mother Teresa today for my own reading, probably intermixed with a book called "Ready Start School: Nurturing and Guiding Your Child Through Preschool and Kindergarten" by Sandra F. Rief, M.A. That one doesn't look as good but is worth a glance before I return it to the library.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

May 17

Today Zach woke up with a stomach bug apparently. It fortunately cleared by noon but not before he had thrown up all over his carseat and then the floor in the house. I got the carseat out of the car (yuck) and prepared to wash it. I discovered that the cover just does not come off. At that point enough was enough with that carseat (Cosco Alpha Omega) and decided we were getting a new one. The cover not being off easily to wash was the last straw along with the straps that were constantly twisted and the buckle that sometimes wouldn't open or close. We were headed to Babies R Us today for another reason (see below) so I researched and picked a new seat. We ended up getting him a Graco Turbo Booster, which is a high-backed booster using the seat belt, age 3-10, 30-100 pounds. I would have liked to keep him in a 5-point a little longer but after reviewing Consumer Reports, Epinions and Amazon reviews we went with this one. We tried it in the store and it appeared to fit him appropriately in terms of size. It sure is easy to install so we will see how we like it long term.

Back to the reason for the Babies R Us visit though -- we ordered a new changing table on 4/30 and was told it would be in in 7-10 days. Obviously it is well past 7-10 days and no phone call to pick it up. I finally called in to check on it only to be told that our paperwork showed "complete" as of May 6, meaning it was picked up!!!! Needless to say I was a little upset and explained that in fact we had no picked it up and to find our paid for changing table! The person at the furniture desk did say she would call back and went into the warehouse to find out the status. She found our paperwork in the completed folder with no signature that it was picked up. After some searching, she found an box without our name but was our changing table and put our name on it for pickup. We went to get it immediately before anything else happend to the thing but needless to say I was not pleased at their incompetence and glad I finally called as we would not have gotten a call obviously since according to them we already picked it up. I am hesitant obviously to order more from them in the future as they seem quite disorganized and their customer service over several visits leaves quite a bit to be desired.

So, we brought our table and the new booster home and I started work. Another bad day at work with too many newbies leading to a lot of stress. (sigh).

Just not my day but hopefully tomorrow will be better.

I did finish the last chapter of Parenting Without Punishment. My review I guess would be 3 to 4 stars out of 5. I found a good portion of the book to be very dry, reading like a scientific paper or a piece intended for journal publication rather than directed towards parents. There certainly was some excellent advice, obviously well researched, in the book but it was hard to get through at times. He certainly cannot be faulted for content but rather style. I wonder if it actually was originally a research piece and the examples and more user-friendly tone seem stuck into the middle of the more scholarly parts, almost as if they were added later to make it more appealing to the new intended audience, parents.

There was not a lot new in there as I have read several books on parenting, but it offered a slightly different perspective and new examples of implementation. His title comes from the thought that punishment is a whole lot less effective than positive reinforcement to change a behavior, or rather to reinforce or encourage a positive behavior rather than focus entirely on decreasing the frequency of a negative behavior. He also had a great chapter on ADHD with a fresh perspective that the exact medical diagnosis is not as important as simply treating the symptoms in some certain cases, ADHD being one. True enough in that case if you want to avoid pharmaceutical routes. And treating the symptoms from a behavioral perspective is the same whether your child is just hyperactive or clinically diagnosed ADHD.

Lastly, I particularly liked the reinforcement of the notion that sometimes it is OUR perspective as parents that need to change rather than or in addition to behavior modification in the child. Behavior you may want to eliminate (yelling or whatever) is in fact appropriate in some contexts so really what you want to do is teach appropriateness rather than eliminate a behavior. And also as parents we get stuck in techniques that aren't working rather than branching out in new techniques and being more flexible. One of the lines that made my laugh ruefully actually came near the end of the book, when a couple was seeing him for counselling and the wife complained her husband left his clothes around the house for the 10 years of their marriage. When asked how she handled this she replied she yelled at him and Dr. Maag replied, "Congratulations, you're very persistent. You really gave yelling a chance to work --- 10 years is a long time to try one thing. Now are you ready to try something different?" Those sentiments obviously can be applied to several relationships, not just parenting! :-)

Monday, May 16, 2005

May 16

I really am terrible at blogging. I always mean to update and record but I go months and months with no entries. And then I regret it because I believe strongly that recording my unimportant and day to day activities is important to help me with my memories later on.

I'm now 26 weeks pregnant. We have chosen the name I picked, Noah. We are still unsure on middle name but my suggestion is Gabriel, Noah Gabriel. This name just came to me and I liked it without a lot of other names considered. Maybe it is God telling me the name for my son. :-)

My stomach illness has been nearly completely gone for over a month now and it is such a relief. I truly thought it would go to the end like Zach. I am much more comfortable this time than with Zach, perhaps due to the position Noah is in. He seems to be a lot lower than Zach was, but then again maybe I am just not remembering correctly. I continue to have some pelvic pain on certain movements and walking, but again nothing like my last pregnancy and overall feel quite good. My energy/exercise tolerance is low though. At this point I weigh approximately 176 pounds, or about 11 pounds over prepregnancy weight. My lowest weight during the pregnancy was during the first trimester at 160 pounds. I eagerly look forward to weight loss after pregnancy and am determined to finally do it this time and get back to a healthier weight and a more active lifestyle.

I continue to work part-time in QA and am enjoying the extra time. Lately I have been spending considerable time researching homeschool for Zach. I am 99% sure that is the way I want to go. There are so many benefits to it I won't even list them all here. Some of the strongest for me are strong family environment, learning catered to his style and interests and less negative influences of school. While religion is not at the top of my list, I also do thing I can more effectively teach our morals and Catholic tradition in a homeschool environment simply because I have more time to do it and more opportunities to discuss issues as they occur in regular day to day activities.

Zach continues to present several parenting challenges to another good portion of my free time goes towards reading parenting books searching for effective yet gentle solutions that give respect to him and leave him with positive self-esteem and good parent/child bond while still allowing us some sanity! 1-2-3 Magic worked really well for a while but seems to failing some and we need to relook at whether we have slacked off on strict administration of it. Or perhaps he is just going through a stage and this too shall pass.

I continue to struggle with housework and clutter in the midst of all of the above, ongoing. There just does not seem to be enough time in the day, which is puzzling given I used to work full time and do basically what I do now. My attitude on life is better though and stress is much less. Life overall continues to be quite good.

My current read: Parenting Without Punishment by John W. Maag, PhD