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    Remembering J.D. Salinger

    "What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though."
    ~ Holden Caulfield (The Catcher in the Rye)

    I can’t believe J.D.Salinger died yesterday. Not because of the dying – he was 91, but rather because I didn’t know he was still living. So all in one day, I’m hit with: J.D. Salinger is dead? Which means he was alive? (He was alive?!) And now he’s dead.
    So I admit to my ignorance. I had never done any research on the man. I was a self-absorbed teen (who wasn't?). And, I suppose I’ve never been much of an Annie Wilkes. Heck, I lived in Maine for 5 years & never once went looking for Stephen King (seriously, why didn't I ever?).
    But, with this revelation, I’m now left wondering if I had know he was alive, if maybe I’d have written him a letter – at least. Although, according to NPR, Salinger didn’t grant interviews, with the exception of Betty Eppes in 1980. I would’ve been 5 then, and hadn’t yet read Catcher; though it wasn’t far off (My mother had a rather liberal view of books: if you can read it, you can read it). I’m not sure if I had written a letter, if he’d even have read it. Yet, his books helped me slog through adolescence & provided inspiration to write. He earned a letter. I suppose this post-mortem blog post will have to suffice.
    So, I'm thinking now I’ll have to hike up to the attic & dig out all my old dog-eared Salingers, and start re-reading while waiting for the release of the “reams of unpublished fiction in a vault”, as the rumor holds. I wonder if reading Salinger as a 30-something has the same effect as reading Salinger as a teenager? Things to ponder.
    Farewell J.D.
    Posted: Jan 29 2010, 10:03 by kelly | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |
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    The Big Questions



    Do you know who Gandhi is?


    He taught people about peace.

    Yes, he did.

    When did he die?

    Hmmm, I’m not sure.  Maybe the 60’s?

    How old was he?

    I don’t really know, maybe in his 80’s?

    How did he die?

    I don’t know. We’ll have to look it up.




    Why are the days shorter in the winter when the earth is turning the same every day?

    Ummm, I don’t know.  I think it’s because of the way the earth is tilted.

    But why? The day is always 24 hours. But in the winter there is less daytime than in the summer.
    You’re right. We’ll have to look it up.


    Every night, after the lights are out, is when my children dig up the best questions. Not just the, “how many hours are in a day”-type questions, but the, “WHY are there 24 hours in a day”-type questions.  


    I realize we’ve come to a point, particularly with my 5 year old, that she’s asking questions to which many times I just don’t know the answers.


    It’s amazing.  Amazing how much she knows, how much she’s curious about, and the depth of thinking she’s doing to come up with these questions.  And yet, at the same time, I can’t help but feel a sense of disappointment in myself when I don’t know the answer to their questions.  I’m MOM; I should know, right?  So, I’ve fallen back on the, “we’ll have to look it up” response.  And many times, we DO look it up, but I often forget.


    I want to remember – for her – for them both – and to actively go to the internet and search with them the next day for answers to their questions.  Their sense of curiosity and wonder is so keen right now, as is their ability to process & save information; I want to take advantage of that, and not squelch it just because I didn’t know the answer. 


    I’m thinking of keeping a notepad right outside the bedroom door, and jotting down the questions I didn’t have answers for after they fall asleep, so that the next day we actually CAN look up the information.

    How do YOU answer the difficult questions?


    Posted: Jan 26 2010, 11:15 by kelly | Comments (2) RSS comment feed |
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    Filed under: Children | Education

    And… I’m Famous! Well, sort of.

    So, just like that, I can go from unknown to published. Who needs novels when 140 character obersevations of under-couch contents will suffice? Perhaps my previous assertion that Twittering isn’t really writing was misguided. Because, apparently, my 15 minutes of fame starts…now:

    Thank you to @mmiller0912 & @k8zeez for alerting me to the fact that one of my tweets has been mentioned on page 12 in the February 2010 issue of Parents magazine. Wahoo!



    Posted: Jan 14 2010, 12:27 by kelly | Comments (3) RSS comment feed |
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    Getting Beyond Punishment

    One of my resolutions this year is to more effectively & consistently use peaceful, positive discipline with my children.  I strive to connect with them, and teach (the right message) with every interaction; even if that interaction is one of a corrective/disciplinary nature.  Teaching children a certain behavior is undesirable doesn’t have to include anger, punishment, shame, or isolation. And it should include empathy, kindness, and natural consequences. I don’t achieve perfection every time, and do make mistakes. But I strive to learn from my parenting mistakes, to forgive myself for those I make, and move on with better tools in my toolbox (and leave the ones that don’t work in the garbage).


    Positive discipline is so important to fostering not just good behavior in children, but more importantly, in developing a fully functional internal guidance system. What distresses me, is that for the overwhelming attitude of adults, “well behaved” is the penultimate goal for children. And because of this belief, any and every method should be used to achieve this in your children.  Punitive or not. Logical or not. I believe it’s a misguided objective, and leads ultimately to frustration. Unfortunately, it begins in babyhood with most - with the unreasonable expectation of producing a “good” baby: one who doesn’t fuss, and who sleeps through the night – and continues on through childhood with the “good” child who doesn’t talk back or tantrum or rebel. It’s as though people have forgotten that when babies cry, and children test limits, they do so from a natural, normal place of need: needing to be held, needing attention, needing to be gently guided. They are asking to be taught, not punished. They don’t come into this world knowing anything. And so, every interaction we have with them teaches them something.  Don’t we want to make sure that what we’re teaching is what we actually want them to learn? 


    I fear that in an effort to make children more convenient, parents are resorting punishments and techniques aimed at quieting instead of actually parenting, and teaching: getting to the root of what the baby is trying to say or what the child is trying to learn or express.  Take “cry it out” for example, used rampantly by parents as a means of “teaching” babies to sleep.  While it may work in the short term – and achieve (at least temporarily) the goal of the quiet sleeping baby, it hasn’t actually taught the baby the intended lesson. Baby didn’t learn that sleep is a peaceful state, or to willingly go to bed.  Instead, baby has learned that no one comes when they cry, so stop crying.  That nighttime is a time of loneliness and discomfort.  What this translates to in the long term is a sense of defeatism, lowered self worth, and detachment from parents.  It may achieve a quiet “good” baby, but at what cost?


    The same goes for the typical punishments of childhood: spanking, parent-determined consequences, and coerced/enforced/isolation timeouts. Don’t hit, or I’ll spank you.  Don’t talk back or I’ll put you in a time out & I’ll tell you when to get out.  Certainly, the hypocrisy of hitting as a punishment for hitting is obvious. But what about the less obvious parent-determined punishments like timeouts?  I say that punitive discipline (as opposed to natural/logical consequences) only serve to teach children this: Don’t do what parents don’t want you to do; with one big caveat: while they’re watching.  You see, unless you teach children WHY hitting isn’t an acceptable form of expressing frustration – and unless you give them alternative methods of expression, they WILL continue to hit, they’ll just do it when mom isn’t looking.  Kids may appear to behave, but unless they have an understanding of why, and how, the “good behavior” is in appearance only.  Wouldn’t you rather a child have the ability to self-control, instead of behaving only due to external control? A kid who can understand that we don’t hit because it hurts another person, and hurting another person feels awful to me, and to them, and instead I should walk away before I hit, or use my words to express my frustration, is SO MUCH better prepared for life than the child who doesn’t hit because Mom is in the room & doesn’t want to get in trouble. 


    To this effort, I strive for more thoughtfulness, and less reactivity in my responses to my childrens’ unwanted behaviors. I keep a keen eye on my own actions and responses, as children learn most from what they see & do than from what they hear.  I DO tolerate more that perhaps is typically expected, because I don’t think just “being good” is good enough for my kids, or for me as a parent.  I expect my children to learn from their behavior as I learn from mine. In my previous post, I mentioned the Positive Discipline parenting cards.  The one I chose for this week seems appropriate to this post:

    If you're interested in positive discipline, and getting away from punishment, you may find these articles & sites helpful:

    Positive Discipline Methods
    What is Discipline?
    How Children Really React to Control
    The Case Against Time-Out

    Posted: Jan 07 2010, 12:11 by kelly | Comments (7) RSS comment feed |
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    New Year's Resolutions

    I love the positive renewing energy that comes from a new year – and with 2010, we start a new decade!

    In that spirit, here’s my list of things to improve upon, goals to reach, and things that I will do in 2010:

    1) Get Healthier. Okay, yes, #1 is uber-cliché & conventional as far as New Year’s resolutions go. But who couldn’t be healthier? Personally, I need to increase my HDL (“good cholesterol”) and reduce my TSH (thyroid level). To achieve these goals, I have three things in mind: exercise more, eat more raw, fresh food, and keep better tabs on what exactly I DO put into my body & how much I actually DO exercise. Fortunately, we have an elliptical machine, a fantastic Blendtec smoother blender which makes super-good fruit & veggie smoothies, and my ever-present pal, iPhone. With all these convenient, modern technologies how can I not get back to a place of better health? Of course, losing a bit of weight & getting stronger in the process are, of course, nice side benefits! :)

    2) Practice peaceful, positive discipline with my children more consistently and effectively! I recently purchased a pack of 52 cards to help me stay on track, called “Positive Discipline Parenting Tools: 52 Cards to Improve Your Parenting Skills”. The ideas presented on the cards are fantastic reminders to stay kind, positive, encouraging, and consistent in your interactions with your children. They suggest positive discipline techniques without overusing praise or punishment. Just perusing some of the cards, I’ve found them to be helpful in making a natural progression from the Attachment Parenting techniques we’ve used with our children as infants/toddlers to preschoolers! If you’re interested in the cards, I purchased them here (not my site & I’m not affiliated, just had a good experience with my online purchase).

    3) Read 10 books. Now, ten may not sound that lofty to most. Frankly it’s not to me either. But with working, parenting, homemaking, gardening, blogging, etc., one of my favorite pastimes, reading, often gets left by the wayside, so I’m being realistic here folks. One book every 1.25 months I can do. I have 7 on my bedside table, ready to go. In fact, I just cracked the first one open!

    4) Write. More. Often. I so enjoy writing, yet like many other time consuming personal activities, since having children, I’ve pushed it to the backburner. So, 2010 is the year to bring quadrant two (non urgent, important [Don’t know what I’m talking about? Here's a quick review of Steven Covey’s Quadrants] to the forefront, and push quadrant 4 (non urgent, not important) to the background. And when I say write, I’m not talking about Twitter - because while it’s a fun place to share information – the time spent “writing” on twitter (and I use quotations as 140 characters dsnt leav mch rm 2 actuly wrt) could be much more productively spent actually writing. Like in my blog, or my novel (oh yes, I WILL complete it).

    5) Seeing Dave Matthews w/Tim Reynolds in concert. Yes, this is on my new years resolution list. Why? It’s been nearly 20 years since I’ve had a real concert EXPERIENCE. I’m craving one again, and from everything I’ve read, Dave will pull through for me. I wasn't more than a sometimes fan of Dave Matthews until about two years ago when I stumbled upon his & Tim Reynolds’ Live at Radio City video on the home theatre display with my daughter in an unnamed big box store. We sat & watched, entranced. What a performer! Been a big fan ever since (and even got Adam hooked too). Its time to experience it in person!

    So there you have it: Get healthier, parent better, read more, write more, and see a good show. That shouldn’t be too hard, right? I’m up for the challenge! Who’s with me? I’d love to hear your resolutions – please share your comments!

    Posted: Jan 05 2010, 18:58 by kelly | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |
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