Thursday, April 25, 2013


I think my sizzler feels things more deeply, in fact, I know he does.
This morning he says "What's your most uncomfortable feeling?" Wow. I had to stop and think about that one. First, I was surprised at his question. That's some pretty deep thinking for an 8 year old. Then I wondered what he had been thinking about prior to the question. He had been lost in thought as we drive down the road.
After I thought about it I replied "feeling left out. What's yours ?"
"Being hot" my little guy confesses.
Now that one surprised me. I know he's very sensitive to light and heat but I didn't think he would say that. I thought he might say something about fear or being embarrassed. He was thinking about physical feelings and I was getting all emotional and internal.
So I suggested that when he grows up and choses a place to live it should be someplace that doesn't get hot. So he says "does it get hot at the beach?" And he reminded me that he will be living on his 100 acres by the ocean, so if he gets hot he can take a dip!
Oh yah, I forgot about that. He said the skipper and I could live there too. Can't wait!
What's your most uncomfortable feeling?

Monday, April 22, 2013

How are you smart?

As a classroom teacher I have asked my students many times to explain their thinking. But what I was really asking them to do was write about their thinking. That is hard to do, especially when you're 10.
"Just put your thoughts into words", encouraging teachers say. Nothing. Blank page.
I have learned a few things since my early days of teaching when writing across the curriculum was in style. Some kids have a very hard time explaining their thinking, especially in writing. I know. I have one of those at home.
Now I'm hearing that with the "new" standards in education, Common Core, we are shifting back to writing in every subject. Good grief. Haven't we learned that this kills school for the boys! Have we forgotten about all the brain research and multiple intelligence theory about the way people learn.
In my recent stint in the classroom I spent a lot of time helping kids know how they are smart. One boy had a hard time with academics but he sure could dance. I kept telling him how "body smart" he is. He would grin every time. Or what about the kid who could draw amazing things that others could only imagine? He struggled in math, but you should see his artwork! He's what I call "picture smart". Now the official term for body smart is bodily kinesthetic, and picture smart is visual-spatial. I taught those words as well, but young kids need terms that they understand more easily. These terms come from Harvard's Howard Gardner and the research he has conducted.
Looking at people through the lens of multiple intelligences opens up your eyes. Schools tend to cater to only two of the intelligences; logical-mathematical and linguistic. That's where the three R's come from (reading, writing and arithmetic). Many kids are strong in these areas, but many are not. When our schools tend to focus on a couple of the smarts many don't feel smart at all. Now, I know I'm generalizing and that there are many schools and teachers who strive to make school a place where all feel successful, there are still way too many that do not.
Here's a quick list of the "smarts":

  • Musical - music smart
  • Visual-spatial - picture smart
  • Logical-mathematical- number smart
  • Linguistic- word smart
  • Intrapersonal - people smart
  • Interpersonal- self smart
  • Bodily-kinesthetic - body smart
  • Natural - nature smart
My sizzler is highly picture smart. He thinks in pictures. I think in words. Sometimes we clash because we think differently. When he needs to express his thinking he has to do it with pictures. It's what comes naturally to him.
The other day when our ES was here checking in on us and what we're learning, the sizzler was trying to explain a scientific concept he learned in his zoology lessons. As he's talking to her he stops midstream and runs to get paper and pencil. "Here, let me show you" he says to her and begins to draw. This is what he drew:

You probably have no idea what this is so let me explain. This is his illustration of a shark's ampullae of Lorenzini and how it works. Huh? Sharks have a really cool feature that helps them detect their prey. The ampullae of Lorenzini are small holes on their snout with which they sense electrical signals from other animals. They can detect slight moves or even heartbeats from miles away. So now look at the sizzler's picture. Can you see the shark? Notice the electrical waves that the prey animal is "sending" to the shark? And what does the shark do? He attacks!
Allowing a child to express his thinking this way honors him and how he is smart. If my son was asked to write out this scientific concept he wouldn't, because he couldn't. He's not strong enough in his linguistic skills to do that, yet. In order to feel smart he must work in areas where he is strong. He needs to convey his thinking with his pictures. It's how he thinks and I think its pretty wonderful!
How are you smart?

Friday, April 5, 2013

No more chicken nuggets!

The sizzler made a big decision last night at the dinner table. He was sitting with his dad eating some delicious crock pot Mexican chicken, rice and beans. Something about the chicken got him thinking about, well, chickens. Now he does know that chicken comes from the fluffy, pecking birds we have owned. He knows that bacon is from a pig, but, there is a difference being knowing and really understanding. Last night he reached a level of understanding. He declared himself a vegetarian. He did not eat the chicken on his plate, thank you very much, however, he did ask for more rice with cheese on top.
I'm not surprised he has made this decision. He loves animals dearly and never wants to harm them. He has toyed with the idea many times, but then bacon or sausage would be served and he would happily dive in. Bacon is divinity didn't ya know?
Maybe because we have chickens in the house now it pushed him over the edge. I wonder what he will do when we visit In-N-Out burger again. I will let him know that they have other options like grilled cheese or animal fries. I want to honor his decision and help him be successful as a new vegetarian, even if it means more work for me. That's what Mama's do for their kiddos, right?
So today as we approach lunchtime he reminds me not to make him chicken nuggets (which he happily ate yesterday) because he would not be eating them. Sigh. Chicken nuggets are so easy to make! Then he asks what sausage is made of and what about steak. I tell him and he says, well, I can still eat those because 1) I love them too much, and 2) cows are annoying and I don't really like them. Hmmm, interesting. We've never owned a cow but our neighbors have some. One of them is particularly noisy and the sizzler doesn't like noisy things (funny, cuz he's quite noisy ;)
Then he starts to think about dinner. The sizzler really likes to eat. Friday night is taco night at our house so he says that he will have his tacos without the meat. I tell him that he can have beans instead. He likes that idea.
Good thing the boy likes pasta, tea & cookies. I'm going to have to research some good kid friendly vegetarian recipes. Anybody got some good ones?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Chickee cuddles

There is chicken poop on my kitchen floor. I mention this to the sizzler and he says he dropped it there, by accident. So I say "well, if you dropped it there, why didn't you clean it up?"
His response: "I didn't know I dropped it there."
Now, before you go judging me and my unclean house you must know that we have a new batch of baby chickens. Yep. We do. Five lovely little cheepers who eat and poop, a lot.
The fun part about getting our new babies is naming them. Our chickens are not for eating so they have to have a name! There's five in our family so we each got to name one. My sweet son named his little Araucana, Rosalina. I think that is a spectacular name for a chicken, don't you? El named hers Alice, Big Bubba named his Jed Dowell (after his friend, weird, I know, but it's better than the last time he named his Burnt Fries), the Skipper couldn't make up his mind but I think he's settled on Mr. Winkles. I named my precious baby, Lucille.
So, the other morning the sizzler and I were cuddling on the couch with our fuzzy friends and he had a great suggestion. He says "let's read some chicken stories!" Now those are lovely words to a bibliophile mama!
Yes! Go look for Chicken Sisters. Off he goes. Then I had a real proud mama moment. He brought back several stories along the theme of chickens, farms, etc. Oh, how I love it when things are thematic! And here's my boy picking out stories from our library on a theme. Sigh. Grin.
We took turns reading our chicken themed stories to our babies. The chicks were cuddled up in towels as we pet their heads. The sizzler and I snuggled under a cozy blanket. Pure bliss.

So how did the chicken poop get on my kitchen floor? Well, after this mornings chickee cuddle the sizzler went to dump the turd in the towel into the trash. I guess he missed.