Saturday, January 27, 2007

Latest read

I just finished a good reference book called "What Stories Does My Son Need?" - a guide to books and movies that build character in boys. For the most part this short book just confirmed what I already believe - the books and movies that children read/watch shape their character and moral values. A quote from page 2, "A decade of research into brain development and the media confirms that until a child's brain develops fully, it is imprinting, modeling and performing based on imagery it takes in from all social sources, including the media...Especially until about age sixteen, the greater the exposure a boy gets to stimuli that do not teach compassion and self-restraint, the more difficult it becomes for him to learn such things." He strongly urges parents to closely oversee the books and movies that their boys have access to. He then goes on to list 100 books and 100 movies that he recommends, with their plot line and a few discussion questions. I take my opinion even further than he does. Books and movies have an effect on your belief system and behavior all your life. The old garbage in - garbage out effect.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


A friend and I have plans to travel to Europe in 5 years, so I have been giving serious thought to what I would like to see there. As I ran through all the places to visit it occurred to me...maybe we should be thinking of this in a new way. Are we just planning this as a one time event? Or will this be the first of many trips? Because that can make a difference to where you want to go. If it's once in a lifetime, we may want to see many places quickly. But if more than one trip is going to happen you can spend more time in one spot. My interests have always tended towards the historical, in particular Elizabethan England. So the more I thought about it, the more I thought I would like to see the historical spots in England. To that end I bought a book at Chapters showing all the historical spots to see and do in England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Egypt and Greece are high on my list too. (Does Egypt count as Europe?) I've studied ancient Egypt a number of times with my kids and find it fascinating and the pyramids would be fantastic to actually touch. CAN you touch them, I wonder? Probably half the fun of the trip will be in the planning!

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

I tuned into an interesting show recently on CBC radio (I like CBC because it makes me THINK). The discussion was about plastic surgery - how much is TOO much? what are the spiritual ramifications? why do we do it? Unfortunately, I missed the beginning and the end but some interesting points were raised. Women seem to do it the most. Why? There is more pressure on women to "look good" longer. One speaker said her plum line was "would I do this on a desert island?" She concluded that she would continue to use make up if she was alone on a desert island because she liked using it, but wouldn't resort to plastic surgery . This whole concept of artificial beautification is foreign territory to me. I've never worn a lot of make up and up till a few years ago had kept my "youthful looks". However...having passed the 1/2 century mark I'm starting to see those tell tale signs of aging and suddenly my mind is starting to wander in new directions. I have always admired old people and their signs of aging - till it became me! Our society is so youth oriented - you do have to be comfortable with yourself and the fact that you are getting older or else you could get swept up in the urgency to disguise your true age. My Mary Kay make-over experience was interesting. Oh, how women can paint themselves up! It just seems like a lot of work to me. I was happy to help my friend out and buy the cleansing system and will try it for the duration of the product. If I see a difference over my regular routine (just plain water, ma'am) then I'll restock. And I'm doing an experiment with the eye firming sample she gave me. One eye gets the treatment and one is left without. If I see a difference - she's made a sale!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Journal thoughts

I've kept a journal for many fact, I'm old enough now to have 20 years of journals on my shelf. How can that have happened?!! In any case, I don't write a lot of personal reflections on my pages. My worry is that someone would get ahold of it and read personal thoughts better left undisclosed. So I include books I have read, along with quotes from them and my impressions of the book. If I go to a workshop or seminar I write my notes in there. Did I attend a meeting?....check my journal for what went on. Does my house need organizing?...check my journal for my latest Flylady-type plans. It makes for interesting reading to go over the journals I have collected over the years. I've tried having a notebook for this subject and another for that. But I've ended up going back to one for everything. My latest organizational trick is to number the pages and have a table of contents at the beginning. At least this way I don't take so much time to look something up if needed. And after suffering through a cheap $ store notebook over the summer and fall, I've now decided that my words deserve better and I splurged with a beautiful $15 book that has a gorgeous cover picture of a bookshelf and a very content cat. I can write on both sides of the pages and it's a pleasure to pick up and even to just look at. There's no going back to el-cheapo for me :)

Another reading attempt aborted

Well, I really did my best to continue with "What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning"....but to no avail. It's just over my head and I don't have the time to try and make sense out of if. Basically, I BELIEVE he's saying that video games enhance learning because of the way that they allow you to become a part of the environment of the game. Also, as you continue to play them over and over attempting to win each level you "learn as you go", teaching the skills of building on basic knowledge to acquire more. He criticizes the school system for lagging behind in this area, often using methods that are more skill and drill than innovative.

In the meantime I finished a book that I can't recommend called "Girl in a Red Tunic". This is a medieval mystery by Alys Clare. It was a little too graphic for my taste - I had to edit a number of parts by "sweeping the page". Too bad - the storyline was interesting and it WAS a good read for the plot and historical value. I'll try one more of her books, but if that seems to be the way Clare writes I'll give her a pass from then on.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Reading thoughts

I started a book last night called "What Video Games Have to Teach Us about learning and Literacy" by James Paul Gee. As a concerned mother I'm always wondering if my children are spending too much time on the computer and other media sources. So I read everything I can on the subject. After reading only part of the introduction I was feeling very overwhelmed. Maybe I was tired (it was evening, after all), but I was starting to feel anxiety radiate from my stomach to my outer limbs as I tried to decipher his sentences. He's a professor of reading at a university in the States and I think you need to be another professor to understand what he has to say. Basically, I am getting the impression that he is in favor of the learning that goes on when playing video games. He has some interesting ideas about reading and literacy that confirm what I have heard from other sources, most recently Susan Wise Bauer. Reading is more than just decoding the words. Your life experiences, background, culture etc. all play into what you get out of what you read. I am intrigued enough by the little that I got out of my journey into his book last night to attempt to try again today. If I get bogged down I will cut to the chase and skip to the ending chapters to see how he concludes the whole thing. I hope that I don't learn that I should be playing video games for brain development!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Latest reading and older children

I just finished a good book - Gregor the Overlander. It's actually a older children's book - I've been reading a lot of those in the last year. I'm trying to keep tabs on what my kids are reading, for one thing, but often these books are a good read. In this story a young boy discovers a world under New York City and has many adventures as he tries to go home. It's full of action, drama and great family values. It's set up so that there could possibly be a sequel, so I'm going to be on the look-out for that.

On another note - a friend called me up yesterday and said there was a call in program on the radio dealing with older children living at home. So I tuned in for a while (I don't usually listen to popular radio - CBC doesn't seem to have so many commerials!) Anyways, what I came away with was how important the independence issue was to the people being called in to. It was stressed over and over that children need to learn to live on their own, make their own decisions, fend for themselves etc. It just rubbed me the wrong way. Sure, that is all true to a certain degree. You don't want them constantly having to look to their parents for assurance. But I think that you can give your children the tools they need to be able to buy a car, get housing, make daily decisions etc. without them having to be pushed out of the nest completely. It's very much a cultural issue. In many cultures children live at home until they marry or even after they marry. And they seem to be well-adjusted. It's all in your attitude.

If my older kids want to move out and get their own place, I'm happy to help them in that transition. But I'm just as happy to have them here having new experiences outside the home, but with the reassurance that there is always a safe haven to come back to. It's almost guaranteed that they will be on their own SOME DAY - why do we think that it has to be immediately that they reach that magic age of 18 or 19?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Getting the hang of this....slowly

I seem to have figured out how to make my way around my Sunday School site - getting comments in, links in and photos uploaded. So I'm going to try that over here as well. Today was very productive at home - and we got the final inspection done on the renovation! Hurray! Now we can start moving stuff in - officially. When it's all looking neat I'll try and post a picture. In the meantime, I'll begin with one that I already have on file.....I hope. [a few minutes go by] It worked! This is me with my daughter at a Mary Kay makeover dinner. Do I look glamorous?

Saturday, January 6, 2007

January 6, 2007

I have entered the frustrating world of blogging. Because of an unsuccessful attempt to create a Telus myspace and put pictures there, I thought I would whip up a blog and share my pictures. No such luck! Several hours later I'm still learning. Part of the problem is my darling 6 yo. He is in a VERY talkative mood and wants to share EVERYTHING he is doing with me - step by step. We have a galactic/medieval war going on complete with seige towers, gunfights, swordfights etc. I have to concentrate HARD to get my mind around this computer stuff and it's difficult with a background litany of warfare going on. I'm torn between wanting to give him my full attention and wanting to GET THIS DONE.