Friday, October 23, 2009

Free-Range Kids

I'm only halfway through the book Free-Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy, but I have to recommend it to other parents. It is so funny! The author exposes to a healthy level of ridicule some of the extreme risk-avoidance mentalities out there.

Such hyper-worriers really do merit a little mocking. There's my sister's neighbor, who informed my sister that "She would never let her children play alone outside!" in their expensive, quiet neighborhood (Doesn't she have any windows in that big house of hers?). And there's the experience of a friend of mine, who was once paying for gas and left her car with her two children (young enough to be strapped in car seats) right outside the open door of the gas station minimart where she could see them. A man came up to her and told her that he'd just called the police on her because she shouldn't have left them in the car. (So, it's safer to unleash them to bring them into the minimart for a 3-minute transaction? Even though she was near them and able to see them?) Another customer heard what had happened and started yelling at the first man for having done such a dumb thing. My friend had to leave because of an urgent appointment, but she called the police later to explain why she hadn't stayed at the minimart. The police reassured her that all was fine and said that the cashier had called them and told them not to come because there was no reason to. Bless the sensible cashier's heart!

There exist many real risks to children, and the book's author respects those. However, there are also many teensy-weensy de minimus risks that are being allowed to overshadow and prevent basically safe, worthwhile, and healthy activities. Free-Range Kids is a good antidote to all the scary stories and worries in which concerned parents sometimes overindulge.

Still waiting...

Time has slowed down. Pain is frequent, but no regular contractions yet. Please, baby, come meet us soon!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wouldn't you know it?

Despite the cold weather hitting us now, even with patchy snowfall, the barometer has been steady all day! I'm doomed to go to 40 weeks again!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Paying more attention to barometric pressure than ever before...

On Sunday, a friend told me that a cold front put her in labor (spontaneous rupture of membranes) 7 weeks early with her first child. When she went into the hospital, the labor and delivery area was full. Then today, another friend told me that a cold front put her into labor, too! Coincidence? Believe it or not, a study out of Japan found significant association between the barometric pressure and women going into labor; here are the results and conclusions of the study:
Results There was a significant increase in the number of deliveries and rupture of the membranes at low barometric pressure although there was no significant correlation between onset of labor and barometric pressure. This tendency was noted in both women with spontaneous rupture of the fetal membranes and those with premature rupture of the membranes. On days with a larger change in barometric pressure, regardless of whether it was increasing or decreasing, the number of deliveries increased and the relationship was statistically significant.
Conclusions A causal relationship was noted between the number of rupture of the fetal membranes, delivery and barometric pressure, suggesting that low barometric pressure induces rupture of the fetal membranes and delivery.
I'm 38 weeks pregnant, large and extremely uncomfortable, and suspicious that I'm growing another big baby inside (dd2 weighed over 9.5 lbs at birth). So, with eastern Colorado expecting rain/snow/freezing rain over the next day or so, is it any wonder that I'm constantly checking the barometric pressure? I would very much like to go into labor now rather than in 2 weeks or more!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pride and Prejudice

Whilst unearthing the seeds from a pomegranate tonight, I watched the beginning of the 2005 Pride and Prejudice. I'm finishing it up now (the movie, not the pomegranate), so here's a review.

Pluses:
- The actress who plays Jane is truly lovely.
- Beautiful attention to setting, be it a humble countryside home or a magnificent estate.
- Very pretty music.

Minuses:
- The hairstyles are just horrible.
- Too short and choppy with unnecessary modern phrases and actions thrown in throughout.
- Irrationally sympathetic treatment of Mrs. Bennet's character near the end.

This version of Pride and Prejudice comes too soon after the 1995 version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, which puts it at a serious disadvantage because it compares so poorly with it in regards to plot and character development. The 2005 version is simply too short to do justice to Jane Austen's wonderful writing and complex characters. Still, it is enjoyable to watch once in a while and takes much less time to view than the 1995 version.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Preparing for baby

We are basically ready for the new baby, but there are a few things I need to do before she can come:
1) Make sure dd2 feels very secure in her parents' love and build her excitement and appreciation for being a big sister;
2) Pack some sort of bag for the hospital (being without a toothbrush isn't nice);
3) Prepare myself pyschologically to be a mother of a newborn again; and
4) Make my "birth plan" "cute" so that the nurses in the hospital will actually read it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Shaker Table

Recently dd5 has been enjoying the educational video All About Earthquakes from Schlessinger Science Library. She loves all of their All About videos, especially when she can talk me into helping her do the experiments shown in the videos.

Today, we made a "shaker table" out of cardboard, rubber bands, and marbles (which we bought today especially for the experiment) to simulate the motion of the earth shaking during an earthquake. Then we made buildings out of toothpicks and gumdrops and tested their ability to stay standing on our shaker table. It was a fair amount of work, but even dd2 got into the building action...it didn't hurt that she was allowed to eat some of the gumdrops.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Braxton-Hicks, etc.

Now that I'm finally past the 37-week point of my pregnancy, the Braxton-Hicks contractions are sometimes very painful. In fact, they're more painful than my drug-free delivery of child number two, who weighed over 9.5 lbs. I spent most of my labor with her siting on a "birthing ball" and watching cable TV at the hospital. I really recommend those balls; they are much more comfortable than lying or sitting on a hospital bed. Maybe I should get out the ball now to see if it helps with my Braxton-Hicks pain...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Artemis Fowl

Thanks to my husband, I'm now reading the Artemis Fowl series. I read the first book a while back but didn't feel then the desire to get the second book. However, that was before I read the graphic novel of the first book, which dh borrowed from the library twice in a row. I'm now happily in the middle of book four, The Opal Deception, and wondering how Artemis is going to get out of this fix. Artemis Fowl reminds me of the The Great Brain. They both have big brains and little hearts, but slowly their hearts begin to catch up with their mental powers.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Proposal

Dh and I went on a date last night! First we stuffed ourselves full of German food at a local restaurant, then we went to see the movie The Proposal.

It was an OK movie. As someone who used to work day-in, day-out with fiancee and spouse visa applicants, I found I was rooting for Sandra Bullock's character to get deported and barred from the USA for fraud. She's one of the protagonists of the film, so I'm fairly sure my feelings on the subject were quite different from how the film writers imagined audiences reacting. Honestly, though, what's so awful about her having to spend the rest of her life outside the USA when she didn't even care enough to return her immigration lawyer's phone calls before it reached the point where her status expired? It's not like having to live in Canada is some sort of lifelong torment.

I really enjoyed the nods to While You Were Sleeping, which is one of my favorite movies. Bullock's co-star, Ryan Reynolds, did a good job and seems to have promise for more good roles. And the Alaskan scenery was lovely.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Crafts Galore!

Dd5 is a craft monster. She just has to do at least one craft project everyday, which is a little trying sometimes for this bookish lady who fears her own sewing machine. A week ago, I came across a great book: My Book of Easy Crafts from Kumon. It contains 40 easy craft projects (only scissors, glue, and sometimes string required) with clear instructions; she can do most of them by herself! And she does, quite rapidly. She's currently on project #35. I'm positive that Kumon's My Book of Amazing Crafts will be on her Christmas list.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

NCTQ report on Colorado

Thanks to the blog "kitchen table math, the sequel", I just found out about a report by the National Council on Teacher Quality that specifically focuses on my state, Colorado. I was most interested by the section recommending the adoption of Singapore Math statewide for the elementary grades:
Within the United States, Colorado’s performance against other states is itself quite mediocre, 28th in 4th grade mathematics and 18th in 8th grade mathematics according to the latest NAEP data, well below where it should be given Colorado’s relative wealth.

Singapore’s approach to elementary mathematics education first came to the attention of U.S. educators in 1997 with the release of the results of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Singapore’s fourth and eighth grade students placed first in mathematics, well ahead of students in the U.S. and other Western countries, and that performance has stayed strong. The Singapore system was lauded for providing “textbooks [that] build deep understanding of mathematical concepts while traditional U.S. textbooks rarely get beyond definitions and formulas (AIR report, 2005).” While countries such as Japan and Korea have also done well in international testing, Singapore is the only Asian country where English is the medium of instruction for all state-approved schools in grades K-12, meaning that their curriculum is written in English.

Singapore’s curriculum offers another advantage to states like Colorado with growing numbers of English Language Learners. Only 20 percent of the students who come to school in Singapore can speak English, the language of schooling. Because of that dynamic, the curriculum is sensitive to the limited understanding of non-English speaking students.
As a mother with a bachelors degree in mathematics, I'm going to seek the best math curriculum I can for my children. "Fuzzy" math with little mastery just won't cut it, and as long as my local school district uses the Everyday Math curriculum, we will be voting with our feet against it by either homeschooling or going to a charter school. Is there a chance the local school administration will pay attention to this report and actually adopt Singapore Math?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Milestones, Smilestones

Tonight dd2 had fun jumping around for a while. At one point, she two-foot-jumped six times in a row before her movement became a run-gallop. According to this PBS website, that's a developmental milestone typically reached by a 4 to 5 year old child. Should I sign dd2 up for sports lessons right now?? Just kidding. "Developmental milestones" shouldn't cause a parent to damage a toddler's love of movement. Besides, what coach will take on a child who hasn't given up diapers yet?

Homeschool Carnival

This week's homeschool carnival is up at Walking Therein.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Favorite book

One of my all-time favorite books was printed back around 1903. I discovered it at BYU library 15+ years ago, and a good friend bought it for me over the internet about nine years ago. Now it's available for free on Gutenberg, so I can share it with others who might be interested in a classic romance novel with very high-level vocabulary set in 16th century France. The book is Under the Rose by Frederic Isham.

{Proof}

Last night I watched {Proof}, the movie based on the play Proof that I saw last month. I thought I would enjoy the movie more than the play because the movie had Anthony Hopkins and Gwyneth Paltrow, both very good at acting, while the play was a college production thrown together in a month. Surprisingly, I liked the college play better. Anthony Hopkins was underused, and Gwyneth Paltrow, playing Catherine, had some of her character's best lines cut out of the movie. In the play, I believed that Catherine was basically sane and just having a hard time after her father's death. In the movie, Catherine came across as genuinely headed down the path to insanity right after her father; it's not a satisfying ending for a person in such a state to try to live on her own--isn't that often how someone ends up becoming a homeless person?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fireproof

I just watched Fireproof with my husband a couple of nights ago. The acting was sometimes rather amateur, but by the end, I forgave that shortcoming and decided I liked the movie. It has great lessons about sacrifice, decisions, commitment and faith. And it reminded me how gut-wrenching being served with divorce papers can be (I did a little process serving once, and hated the look on one guy's face when I finally caught up to him with his wife's petition for divorce.) I highly recommend it.

Cute child quote

Yesterday while driving with my daughters, we were talking about how the leaves are changing color and will soon be falling off the trees. Dd5 mentioned that we would then be able to "crunch" the leaves. I asked her, "Are you going to crunch the leaves with your bare feet?" She responded, "No, Mommy, I will crunch them with my human being feet." She thought I had meant "bear feet". ;)