Monday, January 30, 2012

Dream Whatever You Want!

For as long as I can remember, my daughter has claimed that she dreams whatever she wants to. So, if she wants to dream about being on a roller coaster, then that's what her dream will be about! I never took her very seriously. I had heard of a concept called Lucid Dreams where people can control what they dream and what happens in a dream. But from what I've heard about lucid dreaming, it takes years to master. Based on a cursory Google search, I found that scientists do believe that lucid dreams can happen.

The other day, I started asking my daughter about her ability to control her dreams. She said that she can always dream what she wants--it's not a sometimes thing. After all these years I finally started taking her more seriously. Maybe she really does have this ability!

I was also curious to see if there was any connection between lucid dreams and Melatonin. We give our daughter Melatonin to help her sleep at night. Otherwise, she has a hard time turning her brain off and can stay awake all night. Interestingly, there seems to be a connection between lucid dreams and Melatonin. Many people who pursue lucid dreams actually take Melatonin to help them. From what I researched, many people believe you need to already be able to lucid dream, but the Melatonin increases the frequency of lucid dreaming.

I don't know if my daughter had lucid dreams before taking the Melatonin. I can't remember when she started talking about these dreams.

I'm definitely taking her claims more seriously now. I also wish I had the ability to control my dreams. I would probably spend every night dreaming about eating the most amazing desserts while I was nice and thin. Then I would fly all over the place. Because I could!

What would you dream about?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Just Saying!

It's that time of the week--time to link up to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. The letter this week is "J." I really don't have anything for J, so I'm cheating this week. J is for Just Saying!

There's been a lot of excitement here. My daughter turned 8 yesterday! We had a great party for her over the weekend. Seven was a pretty fantastic age, but I think eight will be even better!

I often think that mothering has aged me. I have wrinkles in places I didn't think was possible! Gray hairs are coming in with scary regularity.

It's easy to blame my daughter for this, but the truth is, a lot of time has passed since I've had her. I think it's simply a function of the passing years and not the stress she gives me!

I still can't believe my daughter is turning eight. She was just a baby yesterday!

Anyway, in the spirit of my blog, I'm going to share a funny story that happened on the last day she was 7.

She was telling me about the amount of money she hopes to earn as an adult. She'd like to earn $100 million a year. I told her that was a lot of money. Would she share any of it with her father and me? She said, "Of course! I'd give you two $100/year." When I expressed shock that's what we were getting, she said, "What? That's a LOT of money!" LOL

Happy birthday my dear! The laughter you provide me will always keep me young!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Party Hearty!

We had a party for my daughter's eighth birthday this Sunday. We wanted to get away doing something kind of inexpensive like a bowling party which we did last year. But my daughter was adamant that she wanted to do something different this year. My husband found a party place while doing an internet search. After checking out the site, I realized my daughter went to this place a couple of years ago for a friend's party, and they did a fabulous job! They do a wide range of parties, so we picked something we thought our daughter would love--a cuddly critters pajama party!

My daughter and her friends arrive wearing pajamas. They stuffed cute animals they selected, then got to pick outfits for them. They had their hair styled and the staff did some face painting. They made their own lip gloss and enjoy a pretty spartan meal over an elaborately decorated table. They then got to dance and have fun. The girls had a blast!

My daughter did a great job! Not only did she have a lot of fun, she went out of her way to greet everyone and made sure they were having fun too. Considering that she had friends from camp, friends from her old school, and friends from her new school, she went out of her way to introduce her friends to each other. The kids did a great job mingling and everyone had a great time!

As with all parties, not everyone was able to show up, and we had a couple of last-minute cancellations. One of her friends was pretty sick, and her birthday is the day after the party! My daughter felt so bad that she was missing out on her party AND her own birthday celebration, that she made sure a stuffed animal was made for her! The party place forgot to provide an outfit for the animal, so my daughter was looking for an outfit to give for her friend's stuffed animal. She found that an American Girl outfit fit the stuffed animal. I pointed out that the outfit cost $28 and was too extravagant. I assured her that her friend will like the stuffed animal as it, but my daughter is determined to make an outfit or do something!

I can't get over that my baby is turning 8! I also can't get over how much she's accomplished over the last few years! She's turning into a beautiful young lady with an amazing heart!

I couldn't be more proud of her!

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Sleepover

My daughter had her first sleepover last weekend. We had her invite a friend to come to our house. I felt better being able to keep an eye on things. Over the winter break, my daughter told her aunt that we aren't letting her sleep at a friend's house yet because we'd miss her so much and be too lonely. Okay, she might have a point.

Anyway, the sleepover was a huge success. My daughter and her friend had a good time. They played nicely together, watched a movie, and told ghost stories before going to bed. They even went to bed around 10--not bad considering I thought they'd be up all night talking!

My daughter's friend comes from a fairly large family. She is the youngest of 4 kids. She talked a lot about how much she fought with her sister and brothers. Nevertheless, all the sibling talk in addition to having a playmate over, made my daughter feel kind of lonely. She wanted me to look up "adoptions" on the internet because she decided she wanted a little sister of her own.

I tried to explain to her that we weren't adopting a baby. Both my husband and I are too old to take care of a baby. She insisted that she just wanted me to find out how you go about it. She wasn't expecting me to do it.

Oy.

I had to explain to her that as she gets older, she'll be spending less time at home and more time with friends. I then explained how having a baby around might not make the best playmate for her and take away all the attention that we focus on her right now.

Her friend butted in by suggesting that maybe we get our daughter a fun pet like a cat or a dog since the fish she has wasn't very interactive. I explained to her that both my daughter and husband have allergies to cats and dogs, which makes getting a fun pet difficult (mental note: having my daughter go to a gifted magnet means her friends are smart. This isn't always a good thing).

So while the sleepover was a success on many levels, it still opened up a huge can of worms. Luckily, my daughter has dropped the idea of adoption for now.

Oy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Inappropriate!

It's Alphabe-Thursday! So, I'm linking up to Jenny Matlock's wonderful blog to post about the letter "I." Today's topic is inappropriate!

My daughter, like the majority of almost 8-year olds (gulp) out there loves to play games on the computer. We screen the websites she goes on to be sure the content matter is appropriate.

Over the winter break, she went to camp at the local YMCA. They gave the kids some computer time, and she was exposed to some new games. She really liked one game called
Flying Monkeys. I googled it and found that you can play it for free on the internet. It's a cute game involving keeping a monkey moving on swinging vines. It seemed harmless and required good eye-hand coordination, so I approved the game for her to play at home. It turned out that this opened the pathway to lots of other games. They seemed pretty harmless, so I wasn't too concerned.

Until the other day when my daughter started telling me about a game that sounded inappropriate. She told me that it was called Naughty Classroom, and it involved a class of mostly boys who behaved badly. It sounded relatively harmless, but I teased her about playing a game that encouraged bad behavior in the classroom.

Then she told me that the whole point of the game seems to be for the class to see the teacher's bra and panties. WTF? I told her that she wasn't going to play that game any more. I explained that it was disrespectful to girls and women. She seemed to understand and promised me that she wouldn't play it again.

After our conversation, I checked out the internet history to see what games she played at the site. She spent most of her time playing a Hannah Montana dress-up game and other dress-up games. She also played a Pokemon game and some other harmless games.

Then I found the Naughty Class game and clicked on the link. I was horrified. My daughter summed up the game perfectly. It's pretty PG-rated fare, but I don't like the message that game sends out to kids. I find it particularly appalling that it's mingled on with games that are clearly geared for under 10 year olds (or younger).

Many sites on the internet are blacking out today (Wednesday, Jan. 18th) to protest proposed Congressional censorship on the internet. I feel a little guilty asking a gaming website to censor the games it has so it's appropriate for particular age groups--particularly on this day. My main wish is for websites like this to be more responsible and group the games my age ranges, so that the parents can block games that might be inappropriate for their children to see.

Or they can just take down the misogynistic, stupid game.

Either one works for me!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Who Determines Who Should Live and Who Should Die?

There's been a big movement in the special needs cyber world this weekend. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is apparently refusing to do a kidney transplant on a two-year old girl named Amelia. Without this transplant, she will most likely die in six months to a year from now. She has a kidney that would be donated from a family member. So why won't the hospital perform the surgery? According to Amelia's mother's blog, they won't perform the surgery because Amelia is "mentally retarded." Kidney transplants require a very complex drug regimen. Their reasoning is that in the future, after the parents have died, how could Amelia stay on top of the regimen should another kidney transplant be needed? (Kidney transplants are only good for about 12 years, according to the blog).

To clarify again, Amelia isn't on the kidney donor wait list. A family member is willing to donate a kidney for her. There's no indication that she would have a low survival rate for doing the surgery. It is known that she cannot survive without the surgery. So, why won't the hospital do the surgery? Is being "mentally retarded" reason to deny a young girl her life?

I believe that every person can bring value to the world. Every life is important and can--and most definitely will--contribute significantly to the world. This isn't always obvious, but it's there. Everyone makes their mark in the world in one way or another. Who knows? Maybe Amelia will inspire a loved one to do something amazing, like discover the cure for cancer.

I'm sure difficult decisions are made when a kidney becomes available to people who are waiting on the donor list. From what I understand, it's not given to the person who is first on the list. Many factors are considered such as finding the best match, giving it someone who would most likely thrive from the donation, etc. I'm sure factors like cognitive functioning come into play. But in cases where the kidney is only being donated because it's going to a loved one? I don't understand the reason to deny it.

I have a friend whose husband donated his kidney to their 7-year old daughter this past summer. It was a difficult procedure for both of them, and my friend had the stressful job of making sure the drug regimen was followed perfectly. I know that both my friend and her husband were so happy they did it. Their daughter is doing extremely well and has never been healthier.

I can't imagine another child being denied this same opportunity.

Please join me in signing this petition to let the hospital know your outrage. Maybe it will help them revisit this case and reconsider their decision. As I write this, over 14,200 people have already signed this petition! It would be great if 100,000 signed it!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Possible Asperger's in the Movies

My husband is a member of The Academy. No, not Star Fleet Academy, but The Academy that puts on the Oscars and decides what the best movie of the year is. That means we're crazy busy from early November until early February watching movies. We probably watch about 5 movies a week, most weeks. When we first received the screeners, I remember thinking, "Awesome!" However, it really is a lot of work and not as much fun as I thought it would be. Oh, the responsibility.

Anyway, I saw a couple of good movies this week that had main characters who had social skills problems. Both movies are based on books. Ironically, one movie avoided using the term Asperger's, while I understand the book mentions it as a possibility. The other movie suggested the character might have Asperger's while the book the movie is based on does not.

The first movie was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I loved this movie! The main character, Lisbeth Salander, is anti-social. She doesn't appear to have many (if any) friends. In the scene that introduces her, we see her at a business meeting, having to answer questions about work she's done. She fails to give eye contact, is frank about not wanting to be at the meeting, and appears to say whatever is on her mind. Asperger's is never mentioned during the movie, but I understand that the male lead in the novel speculates that Lisbeth might have Asperger's.

Lisbeth did not appear to have Asperger's in the movie. Her anti-social behavior seems to stem from her abusive childhood, in my opinion. I just didn't see much about her that was spectrummy, other than that first scene.

The other movie, Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close, tells the story of a nine-year old boy, Oskar Schell, who is on a quest to get information. Oskar is incredibly smart. He also has a ton of sensory issues. I've heard that the book doesn't mention the possibility of Oskar having Asperger's, but the movie does briefly touch on it. Oskar mentions that he was assessed for Asperger's, but the results were inconclusive.

In addition to Oskar's sensory issues, he had a hard time regulating his emotions and would lash out inappropriately. He also has an extremely hard time talking with other people. The horrible events of what his character had been through could explain his issues worsening, but he did seem to be on the spectrum, albeit extremely high on the spectrum. I'm curious if the movie played up his quirkiness to make the character more interesting (or hip even).

I enjoyed both movies a lot and want to read the novels they are were adapted from.

Have you seen any movies you like this winter season?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hate and Prejudice

Alphabe-Thursday is here! Jenny Matlock is having us write something about the letter "H." H is for hate--particularly prejudice.

My daughter is learning about Martin Luther King, Jr. in school now. As part of this lesson, the teacher showed the kids what prejudice feels like. She told the kids that there were new school rules that were based on the children's eye color. Children with blue, green, or hazel eyes were not allowed certain rights in the classroom. They couldn't sit at desks, but had to sit on the floor instead. They weren't allowed to eat, drink, or use the bathroom while at school. Instead, they had to wait until they went home. My daughter has brown eyes, so she didn't have to feel discriminated against. Nevertheless, she was so upset that her friends' were being treated unfairly that she started crying. Other kids yelled, "No fair!" regardless of what their eye color was. Some kids rejoiced that they were in the good group, but for the most part, the brown-eyed children did not enjoy having extra rights. This lesson lasted for only about an hour (if that), but made a huge impression of the kids about how unfair prejudice is.

Ironically, I remember this exact same lesson when I was in elementary school. I'm not sure we were as compassionate. I remember seeing a documentary the next day where a teacher had her kids do the same lesson. The outcome wasn't as good. The kids who were in the "minority" quickly became more introverted and insecure. The "majority" started bullying the other group. I researched this topic on Google and found this link on the topic. Considering my age, my memory wasn't that faulty (for a change).

Would my daughter's class have become more abusive and less empathetic if they did it longer? I don't think so. I'd like to think that we live in a society where we're more accepting of diversity (at least in most areas of the country).

I'm pleased that my daughter and her classmates immediately realized that discrimination isn't fair and were verbal about this.

Good for them!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Mommy Fail!

We all have those moments where we don't live up to our idea of what the perfect mother is. Sometimes, the thought of our actions can be downright cringe-worthy. I had one of those moments this weekend. After a busy week of working and mothering, I was exhausted. Before my daughter went to bed on Friday night, I told her how much I was looking forward to sleeping in the next day; how much I really needed it!

The next morning, my daughter woke me at at 5:30. After I took her back to her room to see what the matter was, she told me that she needed more water. She also told me that she had been up for awhile and needed a hug from me. She then enthusiastically hugged me. I was shocked. Angry and shocked.

I told her that I was at a huge loss. I didn't understand why she would wake me up for a hug when I had told her how desperately I needed sleep. I told her that while I loved her very much and usually love the hugs, it was a selfish thing for her to do.

I then noticed that she didn't look well. I felt her forehead and it was burning hot. I then understood that she was up for awhile and needed a hug (and more water) because she was sick. I had just chided my sick child! I felt awful and apologized. A lot.

I know these kind of incidents happen to everyone, and my daughter totally forgave me. Nevertheless, I hate when they happen.

Can't I be perfect all the time--or at least some of the time?

That would be nice!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Creating Your Happiness and a Chance to Win a Kindle Fire



As part of its Life Well Lived series, BlogHer asked me to answer the following question: How do you plan to create happiness for yourself in 2012?

Great question! I wish creating happiness is as easy as waving a magic wand around! I posted my answer in the comment section of this post at BlogHer. Please read it and enter one of your own!

Also, after you check out that fantastic post (and my fantastic comment), go to this post to write another comment of your own in order to enter a sweepstakes to win a Kindle Fire. I've written a comment there as well because I would LOVE to get a Kindle Fire!

Happy reading and commenting!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Gross Nickel and Diming by United Airlines

It's that time of the week! Time to do a post based on a letter of the alphabet. This week's letter is the letter "G." I think. It's been a couple of weeks so I've lost track. Anyway, I hope it's the letter G because that's what I'm writing to. For me, G is for United Airline's gross nickel and diming policy. Check out the other G (I hope) posts at Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday link-up.

Okay, before I get a bunch of angry comments (or maybe one if I'm lucky) about how I'm picking on United Airlines, I'll be upfront and say I am picking on them. I'm sure almost all airlines nickel and dime their passengers. I don't fly much anymore--maybe just one trip a year, so United is my only experience over the last few years.

I just had a wonderful winter vacation, visiting family in Illinois, then flying to New York City to take in the holiday sights. One thing that struck me about flying is how much the airlines charge for the nice little extras, like sitting closer up on the plane or having a little extra legroom, or checking in your luggage, or carrying on your luggage. You name it, United Airlines has found a way to charge you for it!

Imagine the scene at the airport: my husband has checked us in using the airlines automated check-in station. After we check in, the computer kindly shows us some extras we can get. For a mere $100 each for one leg of our journey, we can sit further up in the plane and have some extra legroom. Um, no thanks. United also offered an option where you could pay a fee (something like $50 or $60, I can't remember) to board the plane earlier. These extras can sure add up very fast for a family that flies.

When we were waiting to board the plane at JFK to return to Los Angeles, the gate agents started to do "pre-boarding." They started with the standard call for first class. They also allowed military personnel to board early without paying. This is new to me and one thing that I did find really nice! They then went through a long litany of other people who could board early including their Premier 1K members, Premier Platinum, Premier Gold, and Premier Silver. At some point, they made the "pre-boarders" go in slightly different way. One passenger observed that this was so they wouldn't go down the "red carpet" entrance, which consisted of about 1.5 foot red carpet that only the people with the most miles were allowed to walk on. Seriously!

After all that, they allowed people with children to pre-board. We excitedly got in line, but the gate agent glared at us and qualified the statement to parents traveling with children under 4. My daughter yelled out, "I'm almost 8! We need to get out of line!" This caused everyone within earshot to laugh. We also started making fun of the stupid pre-boarding procedure: "Anyone under the zodiac sign of Aquarius may now board the plane!"

At the end of the flight, my husband noticed that the overhead luggage compartments were marked with signs that said something along the lines of "For Premier Plus Passengers Only." The flight crew didn't enforce this on our flight, but apparently, in the future, if you want to use the overhead bins, you're going to be paying for that too.

So much for flying the friendly skies.

My husband found this Mad-TV video on no-frills flying. It was made in 2007, but really captures the current nickel and diming environment perfectly! Enjoy!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year and HIghlights from New York Trip

I had a nice break! We went on vacation to Illinois to visit family, then New York for the holidays. We arrived in New York on Christmas night and decided it would be great to see the tree at Rockefeller Center. Just us and one million other people! New York was insanely crowded for some odd reason. I heard something about a New Year's Eve party in Times Square? I don't know, but it was difficult to walk around there due to the mass of people. We had to wait in line to get into the Metropolitan Museum of Art, get out of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (I'm not kidding), and even FAO Schwarz had a line to get in. Going to New York City between Christmas and New Years apparently is not that original of an idea. Go figure!

We had a great time though! In addition to the activities I mentioned above, we went to the Natural History Museum, ice skating in Central Park, Times Square (but not on New Year's Eve), walked the ethnic neighborhoods of China Town and Little Italy, walked the artsy areas of Soho, Noho, and the Village, took a Harbor cruise to see the Statue of Liberty, and took in the beautiful views of New York from the top of Rockefeller Center. We took a carriage ride around Central Park in the freezing cold. We also caught up with old friends of my husbands and managed to hightail it out of town before the madness of New Year's Eve.

One of my favorite memories of the trip was watching my daughter look at the art in the Metropolitan Museum. She would take her time staring at the paintings that interested here and would read the detailed descriptions next to the painting. This made me rather uncomfortable when she was looking at this painting with the following description:

The subject of the picture, previously identified as Tarquin and Lucretia, seems rather to show Tamar being raped by her brother, Amnon. According to II Samuel 13:1–22, Amnon, a son of David, fell in love with his sister Tamar. With a friend he conceived of a ruse whereby he feigned illness and requested that his sister attend him. When alone, he turned on her and raped her. Overcome with revulsion for what he had done, he then had her expulsed from the bedchamber. Their brother, Absalom, discovered the deed and had Amnon slain.


That's the stuff I like my 7-year old to read about. Interestingly, my daughter was always drawn to the paintings that had nudity in them. When we asked her about it later, she said that many of these paintings had Venus in them, who she found to be so beautiful. She did attract the attention of some people in the museum who seemed to be amused watching her take in the paintings and studying them at length.

Another fun moment was watching her shout "Occupy Wall Street!" when we went to Zuccotti Park. Okay, she was the only "protester" there, and she did it because we asked her to for our video, but she was adorable nevertheless.

My favorite moment though was when she seemed enchanted by the horse and carriages, but then was horrified by the whips the drivers had, declaring that she didn't want to go on a ride. When we explained that the whips were only for show, she felt much better. Later, when we took a ride, our driver assured her that he only uses the whip on cabbies. I don't know when she became an activist for animal rights, but I love it! It makes me so proud that she has such a big heart and cares about these type of issues at her age!

Happy New Year indeed!