Monday, May 31, 2010

I laughed, I cried, I thought, Then I cried some more

This video from @BernThis made me laugh.

These posts from Katie Allison Granju, made me cry; don't think this couldn't happen to your child. (Oh, and the most heartbreaking update.)

And this musing from VelveteenMind made me think. Megan adds much needed depth to the flurry of brand/blogger rants that seemed to have popped up in recent weeks. Also, I like her can-do spirit. Not getting what you want out of blogging? Stop whining and go out and make it happen. (Though she says it in a nicer way.)

Not sure what you want out of blogging and wondering if you're wasting time Twittering your days away? Join this Friday's MomImpact webinar with Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 Hours: You have more time than you think.

168, or 24x7, is the number of hours we have in a week and dang, do I waste some of mine. The book is motivating me to set clearer goals, which will help me clarify my priorities. The upcoming webinar will have an audience of mombloggers. In fact, Laura is one herself (well, mom + blogger; she doesn't typically write about her kids) and has great advice for her peers. Though I'm eager for her to explain her recommended "no swag" stance. Click over to MomImpact for details and registration.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Where does the time go? Find out on June 4

I don't know where my time goes some days. Perhaps it's because I'm chrono-challenged. Maybe it's because I think of watches as little ball-and-chain type devices that drag me down, so I haven't worn one in years* (besides cell phones, computers, iPods, and kitchen appliances have built-in clocks, who needs a watch?).

At any rate, I'm ready to end my dysfunctional relationship with time so that I can work calmly and efficiently and not feel guilty about carving out time for my family and even just for me.

Can you relate?

If so, join me on June 4 for a free MomImpact webinar with Laura Vanderkam (yes, that Laura Vanderkam) as she shares her research and insight on time management based on her new book, 168 Hours: You have more time than you think.

Details and registration information over at MomImpact.

*DH bought me a watch as a graduation present when I received my master's degree in 1993. I took it into the jewelry shop for a new battery circa 2003 and let one of my little boys carry it about 50 feet from the car to the shop. After walking about 20 feet, he tripped and dropped the watch. Tiny springs and odd little pieces went flying everywhere. That was that.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

MomImpact Buttons

After a busy spring, I'm doing some catch-up and finally offer up your choice of MomImpact buttons! Speaking of catch-up, ConAgra Foods (a MomImpact client) recently announced its retail line of Hunt's Ketchup is now made with sugar and is HFCS-free.



Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bat Mitzvah Update: Was the Torah Texted?

My bat mitzvah is coming! My bat mitzvah is coming! I am just over a week away from my bat mitzvah. Earlier this week, my classmates and I practiced reading our parsha right from the Torah, which was one of my goals in the crazy 18-month journey.

But seeing a Torah up close makes me realize how open to interpretation those first five books of the Bible are. This is a copy from a book called a tikkun (Numbers 12: 1-3). It offers a close approximation of what one sees in a typical Torah. This may not be obvious to you if you don't read Hebrew, but there are no vowels, no punctuation marks and barely even spaces between the words! As if that doesn't make it challenging enough, it is supposed to be chanted with various tunes that are not noted in the Torah itself.So yes, a good deal of practice goes into my reciting these three lines at the upcoming service. Our teacher reminds us that we are chanting a prayer, not giving a performance, but who wants to mess up in front of their family and friends?

But back to that vowel-less, punctuationless text. It seems crazy, but I had an epiphany when I was texting (yes, texting, not sexting) DH earlier. I didn't bother adding question marks to my note because it's a pain and I've been known to leave out vowels because, you know, I'm a very busy woman.

And it dawned on my that my message was not unlike the writing in the Torah. What do you think that means?

Gosh, I might have worked this into my dvar (lesson based on Torah portion) if it wasn't already complete. I'll post it after the big day; wish me luck!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Raising Gifted Children: Overexcitabilities and Intensities

If you understand and live with gifted intensities, which is to say, you struggle with them, this conference might be worth a look.

The Ninth International Congress of the Institute for Positive Disintegration in Human Development will be taking place in St. Charles, IL from July 22 - 24.

This interdisciplinary conference will focus on Dabrowski’s theory of Positive Disintegration drawing from education, psychology, religion, philosophy, counseling and spirituality.

Positive Disintegration? What is that? It sounds scary, like a mental breakdown or something, right? It is kind of a breakdown, but also a building up, hence the term "positive dis-integration."

While not all kids who exhibit these intensities or overexcitabilities are gifted, many of them are. And many highly or profoundly gifted kids exhibit at least some of these tendencies. If you spend a lot of time with HG or PG kids you know what I'm talking about. They are a different kind of normal- they take in the world a bit differently than most of us, they process much of their sensory input a bit differently, too.

I recall a speaker I heard years ago say that HG/PG kids tend to have a higher level of sensory input than most, however, their sensory processing centers tended to develop more slowly which leads to a system overload.

This makes sense to me. And it's good to know why a particular child just can't wear *those* socks or the shirts with the tags or hypothetically speaking, goes from calm to apeshit tantrum in about 5 seconds, but it's how to work around those issues that is not always readily apparent.

Oh, wait, on the clothing front, check out Soft Clothing (suggestion, not an endorsement; never tried the brand, but would have loved to try their socks about five years ago had they existed back then).

And for a bit more background, check out these old posts on gifted overexcitabilities:
psychomotor OEs, intellectual OEs and sensual OEs.

I'd love to hear about your experiences with gifted OEs or intensities and how to build up their positive aspects while minimizing the aspects that make it challenging to raise such intense (and sometimes intensely gifted) children .

Friday, May 14, 2010

Facebook Privacy and Teens

I don't spend a lot of time on Facebook (note to self: update and pimp out MomImpact fan page one of these days), so I'm not clear on the ins and outs of it, but I know enough that I don't want my 12 year-old on it.

Apparently, the fact that one must be 13 to have a page does not deter the 10-12 year-old set. As my boy tried to make his case for The Face', he showed me his many classmates on Facebook. I offer to friend them for him, but oddly, that did not suffice.

When he is 13, we can talk about him starting an account, but honestly, I'm increasingly freaked out by Facebook's openness and how easy it is to get important details from people. A year, maybe two years ago, I felt like some people's public profiles screamed, "Take my identity, please!" And that was back in the good old days.

Facebook has recently made sweeping changes in their privacy policy. It's not you they care about, it's the companies and brands that bring in the money (though some of those aren't too happy with recent changes to the system either). I also wonder how brands will react once critical masses of people have stripped down their profiles.

What doe these changes entail and what do they mean?
I'll leave it to the reporters at the New York Times to fill you in on the bewildering tangle of privacy options. Read this, because you know what? The new default settings on Facebook make your personal information public.

I hear a lot of my online friends, uber social media types talking about backing away from Facebook. What about you? And what sort of Facebook policies do you have for your kids? Have you walked them through or checked their privacy controls lately?

Get your Science Geek on with 3M and Discovery Education

The Science Olympiad season is over for us and now it's time to turn our attention elsewhere. Perhaps to The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge?

The program is looking for America's Top Young Scientist in grades 5-8. You can nominate your young scientist or encourage him or her to enter today.

And bonus, students who submit videos by May 20 get a FREE MythBusters DVD. All entries are due by May 27.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Marketing to Mombloggers: Show Us the Money

I just flew in from New York* and boy are my arms tired. Good thing my peeps picked up the slack while I unpacked and, gosh, what did I do yesterday? At any rate, check out these hot posts on the topic of bloggers and compensation:

Cat Lincoln of the Clever Girls Collective, Do you pay for social media?
Liz Gumbiner of Mom 101, Nothing in life is free. Except, it seems, a mommyblogger. (Take time to read the many comments.)

Edited to add: Also worth a look is Caleb Gardner of Edelman's Digital Team on End Predatory Blogger Programs

*I was in New York for the launch of Consumers Union National School Safety Coalition, a national effort to help safeguard children and inform parents, educators, and caregivers about the potential dangers of products. More about that in a future post.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Quirky Gifted Kids

What I set out to say in thatprevious post on gifted children was that sometimes they are a quirky lot. And then I was going to send you off to Heather's blog, Queen of Shake-Shake, to read her Quirky Kid Dossier. So I'm doing it now.

Go! Note how nicely organized it is. I strive to catalog my gifted posts in a helpful fashion; I actually paid someone to help me do it. I just need to figure out if I want to post them here or elsewhere. Decisions. Decisions.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Volunteering, Blogging for Good and the Ripple Effect

This month, the Yahoo! Motherboard is dishing on volunteering. The folks at Yahoo asked us, among other things, if we thought there was truth to the rumor of an Obama effect leading to a rise in volunteerism. Apparently, the data support this. Interesting.

There was mention that perhaps the economic downturn opened more time for volunteer efforts. Based on what I observed in my house, I'd say yes.

During his unemployment, my husband helped developed our town's first Farmer's Market (set to open Memorial Day weekend). He built their website, filmed and produced related videos, attended lots and lots of meetings, and weighed in on many critical issues. He would not have been able to commit this kind of time if he'd had a job. And considering that some unemployed men spend their days drinking and surfing the web for porn, I'd say he made the most of his time off.

Late last year, I had an idea for a volunteer project, but wondered how I could justify putting in the hours. Warm fuzzies don't pay the rent, you know! Then I figured that since I was becoming a bat mitzvah in May (less than two weeks away...) it made sense to take on a mitzvah project of my own.

Thus, the Mom From Another Country blog was born. Since late January, I've been meeting weekly with a fabulous group of immigrant moms at our local English Language Learner's (ELL) Parent Center to build the blog. It's wonderful, especially considering that most of the women hadn't heard of blogs before they started writing one.

It's been a great experience and lest you think I'm just blowing my own horn, take a look at this article.

Even better, this week, the moms are stepping up to Fight Child Hunger with a food drive at the ELL Center and other sites around the community to benefit the Niles Township Food Pantry. I love that not only are the women improving their English language skills, but they are building tech skills and stepping up as leaders in the broader community.

It's the ripple effect; it starts with you and spreads outward. What type of waves are you making?

If you are looking for volunteer ideas, check out Yahoo! for Good. Once you've made a commitment, let the fine women at Bloganthropy know what's going on. They might be able to assist in spreading the word or finding resources for your project.

Tired of wasting your time and talent making making copies of the school newsletter? Check out this old post on Volunteering Like a Pro.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Myths about Gifted Education

This is the best thing I've seen on gifted education this year. Take a look at these mythbusting gifted students and share this link with other parents of gifted children as well teachers or school administrators. Maybe it will start some productive dialog or jump start a new advocacy efforts. I know, I know.

Link via yet another great post over at Unwrappping the Gifted.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Funding for Gifted Education

I've been a little slow on the gifted posts, partly because, well, for a lot of reasons I'm not going to go into right now. But when I came back from Washington, DC after I helped pass health care reform, I reflected on the passage of that landmark legislation and applied it to gifted education and what I realized is that it's basically hopeless. It's an uphill battle that is not going to be won while my kids are in school.

And on a state level? Puh-lease. Our state budget is a mess. A funded gifted mandate is simply not in the cards. I may show up and speak out at another state board of education budget hearing, you know, just for fun, but I see it as an exercise in futility.

That said, as a result of my time in Washington, DC, I am in touch with one of Representative Schakowsky's people and am eager to speak up on reform efforts for No Child Left Behind. I'd love for public schools to be accountable for helping all children achieve annual yearly academic progress.

Marketing to Mom Bloggers: Missing the Boat

I know many companies that are trying hard to get it right in the space, but I'm still amazed at what I find in my inbox.

The other day I received a note that said in part:
"We really enjoy Hormone-Colored days" Basic, but meaningless flattery, pretty standard stuff.

"and feel that your perspective as a parent of gifted children is rare and leads to greater trust-based relationships with your readers." Wow, they took a look at my blog!

The pitch went on to say that because my readers trust me so much, they'd probably love to get my thoughts on sunscreen. Really?

Despite the disconnect, I wouldn't mind trying out or even writing about sunscreen because my face is already red and itchy from being out in the morning sun. My skin is supersensitive to the sun and my pores clog up with whatever goop I put on my face to protect my fair skin. It's a lose-lose proposition.

So yeah, I'd be happy to try your sunscreen and share my experiences, because if your product works protects my delicate skin without clogging my pores, casting a whitish pal across my face or leaving a heavy shine, I will gleefully share it with the world, but let's not pretend it's for the folks who come hear to read about parenting gifted children.

And speaking of gifted children, a Chicago-area private school for gifted children reached out to offer various expert opinions on how to assess giftedness, how to choose a school for gifted children and such. Now that would be a great fit not just for blog fodder but for sponsored posts or advertising (something I've not done here to date). This blog has a Google Page Rank of 5 and a respectable Alexa rank. I get a lot of search traffic on topics related to parenting and educating gifted children - this could be a great match!

Except the fact that the PR person who sent the pitch along was apparently just being "helpful". It seems she had no idea that I have nearly 80 posts on my blog (edited to correct) related to gifted children.

What surprises has your inbox held lately?