Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Power of Play

I've just finished reading this book called "Piggyback Rides and Slippery Slides" by Lynnae W. Allred. She says, "A child who has some free time to play and engage in child-driven leisure pursuits with a parent (or other beloved adult) grows up healthier, happier, and more intelligent than a child whose time is rigidly scheduled into structured academic and physical activities."

I really agree with the whole theory of this book, that children need to be able to express themselves in child-driven play and that playing with an adult, specifically a parent, helps them learn and grow in ways that structured academic and physical activities cannot. I think too many parents out there are too eager to get their kids involved in academics early. One reason is because many children live in homes where both parents work, and having a child go to preschool is a better alternative than daycare for most families. But the push for academics and early reading and math is still too great in those preschools. I don't necessarily agree with the philosophy of both parents working, but I can see that it is a necessity in some instances. The problem is that these preschools are getting attention because they are so focused on academics, and in this highly competitive world, it makes parents think they are getting the edge by putting their child in such schools. But children need to be in a play-driven environment more than a highly structured academic one.

As the author of this book points out, children who engage in imaginative play learn coping skills and can get a better handle on their emotions than children who do not. She cites studies of highly pressured teens who turn to drugs, alcohol, and even suicide as ways out of the challenges they face, and those are often the ones who were pushed into these competitive worlds (academics and sports) earlier than their peers who do not fall into those traps.

I think that we would fare better as a nation if we relinquished the urge to spend gobs of money on the "best" preschools and kept our young preschoolers at home with us, teaching them through working together and playing together.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Digital Vs. Before

I love using my digital camera. I love being able to take a quick picture and see it right away. I like using the video feature on my digital camera. Now, I'm a terrible photographer, and the majority of even my digital pictures come out grainy and blurry and not in very good focus, but at least it's quick and easy and I can store them all on my computer's hard drive, back them up on CD's and zip disks and on the web, and make slideshows, post them on my blog, whatever.

What happens when one of my kids needs a picture of themselves as a baby for something? All those pictures are on my computer or the world wide web. I've even slurped my other blog and made a book on Blurb, so those pictures are in book format. But I don't usually order prints online or anywhere of my digital pictures. I guess I'm going to have to have my digital pictures printed.

I used to enjoy scrapbooking. Haven't had much time for it in the last five years, I'm sure you all know why. I got to the first year of marriage and haven't done much with it since. I have kept a baby book on all my kids, although, Travis' baby book isn't put together--there are pictures and everything is there and in order, it's just not together, and Eliza's is, yes, digital, with the intent of putting together a hard copy after the first year is over.

But recently I was looking through old family photo albums of my mom's. I've decided that I'm going to regress into older times, and make photo albums. I'm going to buy regular photo albums and put the pictures in the album according to date, with a simple explanation of the pictures. After I'm done with my first two years of marriage scrapbook, I will only use photo albums for the kids' pictures. That way, if I need one, I'll be able to open the album to the right date and take a picture out. I will still do digital, but I will try and order prints. I will still blog and slurp it to make a book every year, but the pictures will have a hard copy elsewhere.

Even though keeping memories has become easier, it's also become more complicated. In my effort to simplify, I'm going to have to find a better way to keep our memories. A blog book was a great idea, but the pictures are inaccessible for future use, as they are with a scrapbook. So, back to old-fashioned photo albums I go.

One more question: Should I just toss the old film-using cameras or let them collect dust?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Birth Order of Children

"A recent study by BYU economist Joseph Price would surprise parents committed to treating their children equally. It shows that firstborns get far more quality time with parents than their siblings." Click here to view the story on NBC Today Show. (

I don't, in particular, want to argue with the findings of the study, but it did seem a bit negative. It seemed to me that the firstborn is the luckiest, and everyone else isn't. That's how it came across to me.

Granted, all I've seen is what they showed on the Today Show on NBC. I didn't read the entire study. However, I didn't like what the research seemed to be implying, so I've come up with my own idea of what I think about the birth order of children.

I feel the study failed to take into account a very important factor--the gender of those children. In considering gender, if the first-born is a son, I would hypothesize that he would be pushed more toward independence and leadership than a daughter. If the first-born is a daughter, perhaps she would be coddled more while she is young and expected to help out the mother more with the other children as she gets older. I think that would be interesting to study--the gender of the children in relation to birth order.

What about families who have more of one gender than another? If they have four girls and then a boy, I think it would be possible that the boy would be pushed more toward high success careers than a fifth girl might. Is it possible that because I was the only girl in my family that my parents' expectations of me were different? I feel confident that I spent more quality one-on-one time with my dad than any of my brothers did simply because I was the only girl (you know, "daddy's little girl"). I know my brothers spent time with my dad, but I don't think they spent as much quality one-on-one time as I did, yet I'm not the oldest, just the only girl.

What about spacing? Consider three kids who are all male, where there is five years between the first two and 13 years between the younger two. Don't you think parents are more likely to be able to spend more quality time with each individually than parents who have four kids in 5 years (spacing: 17 months between first two, 23 months between next two, and 14 months between last two)? Those four kids are more likely to spend a lot less time one-on-one with parents because the demands for a parent's divided attention is so great.

Is it even bad if the oldest gets more quality time with the parents than the others? Perhaps Heavenly Father considered this and sent each child down in the order He did for a reason. Perhaps the spirit who is the oldest needed to be the oldest and the others all had their special place too. What about twins who are the oldest? Or elsewhere in the birth order? What does the study say or suggest about those relationships?

It didn't seem to say in the study whether it was positive or negative that parents spend more quality time with the first-born. I'd have to also ask if those 3,000 hours included the time in the child's life when he or she had no younger siblings? Of course there would be greater time spent one-on-one with the parents during that period of time because there are no other children! I mean, say a parent spends 8 hours a day times 365 days during the first year of the oldest child's life solely with that child, that equals 2,920 hours in just that one year. If the oldest is only 1 year older than the next, that is almost 3,000 hours right there!

The point I'm trying to make is that there are so many factors, I think it would be hard to really come up with a conclusive study about birth order. Gender matters, spacing matters, the number of children matter. Did the study just incorporate two-parent homes where the primary caregiver is the mother (I assume this since he is from BYU), or did it also include single parent homes? Not to mention that what one person may consider quality time, others may not consider it to be so. For example, many men feel that watching TV with their kids is quality time--I tend to disagree. All in all, I'd really like to read the entire study to see if any of these other factors were weighed, and if they weren't, I wouldn't call it a very thorough or fair study.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Simplifying and Economizing

I've decided that we need to become more economical. I feel that we already do a fairly good job at pinching pennies, but I feel that we still waste way too much. Not only do we seem to have a lot of waste, but there certain things we can do to be more resourceful than what we are already doing.

I feel one of the biggest areas we are wasteful in is time. We waste a LOT of time watching TV. And recently, I've spent too much time on Blogger and other sites, which I've tried to remedy by limiting myself to an hour each day. I'd like spend my time on more wholesome and quality activities. Not that TV can't be that, but when it's on 5-6 hours a day, that's probably too much. At least it will be summer soon, with nothing on that's worthwhile during Prime time. Unfortunately, the summers are much too hot to spend much time outside, so I will have to find other constructive activities inside to keep me and the kids busy.

I think another area we can cut back on is spending money on fast food. Our budget actually tends to balance out in the grocery category. We don't spend too much on groceries, so what little extra there we might have, we go hit the dollar menu a few times a week. But that is even too much, and I think we will be healthier too if we refrain from all the fast food. I'd like to make it a special treat, like it was for me and my brothers when we were kids. I can probably count on one hand the times we had fast food during my first 15 years. Maybe a little more than that, but you get my drift? Even though it was cheaper then, and even when we did get fast food, my parents never splurged on it. We would all get the cheapest thing on the menu, say, the 2 for a $1 burgers, and then my dad would buy a whole bunch and maybe a couple orders of fries and we would take it home, add a tossed salad and some milk, and voila!, a somewhat healthy fast food meal! No Happy Meals or Kids' Meals with the ridiculous toys that break within a week anyway. I just need to plan my meals better to avoid the fast food. I'm pretty good at planning dinners, I just need to focus on lunch and even breakfast more.

Another area that we need to be more resourceful is in learning how to grow our own food. Yep, I'm 30 years old and I really have no idea how to grow food. I mean, I have the basic concept down--you put a seed in dirt and keep it watered and in the sunshine and eventually you should get some results, but I've never done it. Nope, not once. I helped weed our garden when I was a little kid, I may have grown a bean or two in science in school, but I've never actually planted something I could eat, grown it, and then eaten it. Pretty pathetic, eh? So that's another thing I need to learn to do.

And another place I want to be resourceful and waste less money on is basic home repairs. Our tenants told us that they have a leaky faucet again. This greatly stresses me out because neither me nor my husband have a clue how to fix it, not to mention, own any sort of plumbing tools whatsoever. So it becomes this grandiose thing, when it's probably really quite simple. We need to become more handy around the house.

So these are my goals:

1. Watch less TV and spend less time in front of the computer.
2. Eat less fast food.
3. Learn to grow food.
4. Learn basic household repairs.

Good luck!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

My Mom

I've decided that every once in a while, I'm going to pay tribute to someone I admire and/or wish to emulate. It seems only fitting to start with my mom, especially since Mother's Day is coming up this weekend. So here it goes.

My mom is the third of five children. She has three sisters and one brother. She grew up mostly in Northern California. After high school, she attended Brigham Young University, where she got an associates degree in secretarial technology. She married my dad and shortly thereafter started her family. My mom is the mother of six children, five boys and one girl. When she was expecting her sixth child, she finally earned her bachelor's degree in history from the University of Texas at Dallas.

My mom has successfully raised six children in the gospel. All are currently living their lives in accordance with what they were taught. Four have served honorable full-time missions, one is currently serving. Five have married in the temple. She is the grandmother of 12--five boys and seven girls. She has served in various church positions, including Relief Society President and Primary President.

That is a list of many of her accomplishments, as trite as they may sound to her. I think that the calling she has served in all of her adulthood--that of visiting teacher--is the most important one besides mother that she's ever had and one that she has set a perfect example in. As far back as I can remember, she has never missed a month of visiting the sisters she is assigned. I've rarely met another individual in Relief Society who has a 100% visiting teaching record.

Through these callings and simply living the gospel, she has set an example to me of the kind of person I ought to be. She is selfless and always serving. She is kind and caring. She is strong and courageous. Always through hard times, she relies on scriptures, faith, and prayer to pull her through.

My mother has been and still is a wonderful example to me. She truly patterns her life after the Savior, and I hope I can follow her example.


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