Monday, April 26, 2010

Tricking the kids into learning

Ok, I know, it's not nice to trick people; but I hope in this case perhaps you will excuse me and that the ends justify the means.  Our newest addition comes to our family with many issues: one of which I call lack of cultural knowledge.  By cultural knowledge, I don't mean and understanding of different cultures, but just a general understanding of knowledge that would be expected of another person of the same age. So I have set about a plan to slowly break some of this down.  Unfortunately, DS2 is a typical child who thinks all learning is dumb and boring (Boy, did he get thrown into the wrong family - we are not likely to perpetuate this belief long). So despite not quite knowing what is going on or understanding quite what we are talking about half the time, he still insists on watching mindless cartoons and trying to avoid anything that seems to have any possibility of learning involved.  While somewhat jealous that the other two kids don't go to school, he is happy not to have "lessons" of his own or so he thinks. . .

During his school vacation this week, I started by playing Borderline card game with him.

  I just played it up as a new game that I wanted to try out.  We could try a few hands before we went on to Skip-bo.  Did you know by the way that Columbia is that capital of South Carolina AND also the name of another country?  Did you also know that West Virginia was an actual state and not just a directional portion of Virginia itself?  Do you know how small Rhode Island really is?

Then another day, I connivingly took out the Odyssey III talking globe

and played a round. Quickly, it wasn't my turn any more and he took right over.  You can only imagine the shocking information that this globe possessed: Equatorial New Guinea was near the Equator, Argentina was in South America, and Ireland was near England.

Finally, I tucked in some Brain Quest cards in the backseat of the car.

He is quizzing me non-stop.

Hmmmm! Do you think I should tell him that he's learning?

PS If you have any more games to recommend, I'd love to hear about them.  I figure this kind of learning is equivalent to when my mother used to put my medicine in jam:  it was too sweat to be something good for you.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cons of Community Service

How you are raised can change your perception on life. I'm sure this statement doesn't surprise you, but I was surprised to see how pervasive it was the other day when the boys were discussing working with their Boy Scout troop to clean up garbage along the road. My biological son, who has been raised with a strong sense of community involvement, was excited to work on this project. He finds most things with the Boy Scouts fun and is fairly environmentally aware. My foster son, who has been bounced from house to house primarily in the city, thought the idea of getting together to pick up garbage to be the stupidest idea he had ever heard. He immediately associated it with being in trouble. You are only forced to clean up an area when a court mandates it. Fortunately, he relented, went, and had a grand time; but, his comments stuck. If he relates helping with court and consequences, who else does.

My family and I have always enjoyed helping others. We find that we receive far more than we give and I must admit, that we feel powerful when we do help. It is amazing how much one person can accomplish. So to think of community service as a negative was shocking to me, but certainly an interesting commentary on our society. I would be interested to see if others from his background feel the same. Certainly, the courts purpose is assigning community service is to repay what the guilty party took from society and also for them to see that their actions can have a positive impact. Perhaps though, what we are teaching is that community service is boring, troublesome, and something that it is to be left to people who misbehave. Hmmm! I don't think this is setting up a very positive association and may set the stage for complacency and future community inaction. I'm not sure what we should use as punishment for those who break the law and are being charged with community service, but maybe we better take a minute to discuss the message that we are sending when we do so.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Book Review - The Lost Symbol

I must ask what everyone thinks is the proper distance between book club meetings. I have this strange problem that no matter when they seem to be placed apart that I either read it too early or start cramming it in at the end. This month though I pulled a doosey: I read the first part of the book club book, but then had the opportunity to read The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown.

I could not refuse the opportunity. I had meant to bring my book club book when we traveled down to my father's but forgot it (this may have been a subconscious avoidance system at work); so I had to borrow a book and guess what he got for Christmas.

I have got to tell you how much I love Dan Brown's books. They are not great literature, but boy are they fun to read. I love solving the mystery along with Robert Langdon (who by the way after watching Angels & Demons and The DaVinci Code has turned into Tom Hanks in my mind). I love getting lost between fiction and truth and digging through encyclopedias to try to find the line between the two. I love to read a book and not want to put it down. This time I particularly loved his nod to one of his earlier books, Digital Fortress.

I strongly suggest you pick up this book. It may be his best yet. You just may not want to put off reading your book club book. I guess though that now I'll have to pick mine back up . . .unless, someone has a better book selection?

Without Wax,

Friday, April 16, 2010

Perhaps I should call it "just call me slave"

Time seem to be speeding by. I don't think I've seen a news cast in months. I know I haven't picked up a needle and thread (except to sew on a button on some one's pants) since before Christmas. And I'm seriously behind in posting. I'm beginning to think my new blog should be called "Just call me Slave" instead of "Just call me Woman". You would not think adding one child could take up so much time, but wow - time seems to slip through like water in a colander.

I often think back to the activity that our trainers shared with us in MAPP class about rejuvenating ourselves and making sure that we can fill ourselves up so that we can fill up our foster child, but the question is "When?". When should I do this? By 8:00 pm I'm yawning wondering when bedtime is. How can I rejuvenate when I can't even get my chores done?

I steal moments to read as I wait in doctor's waiting rooms or as I am waiting for school to get out. I've even reverted back to books and magazines in the bathroom (just 5 minutes please).

I was hoping to get a rare treat this weekend when DH and the boys were traveling to go Cod Fishing in RI. DD and I were all set to have an all girls weekend. We even took out four movies, have our books stacked, and have the recipe for a great foot bath. But the Cod fishing trip is now questionable, clouds are looming on the horizon and waves are rising in the sea. The boat may not go out. I don't think I have ever been so disappointed in a cancelled trip - especially one I'm not even going on. My husband is not sure what to make of my excitement for his absence, but truthfully it is not his absence that I'm looking forward to: It is the freedom to do some of the things I enjoy doing if only for the weekend.

If any of you know the anti-rain dance, please start dancing now. The slave wants a weekend off.