Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Leapster

For Z1's fifth birthday, we bought him a Leapster (which comes pre-loaded with games), two games and a case.  After about a month of pretty consistent play, Z1 seemed to have lost interest altogether in the game.  So I went on Ebay to scout some new, more advanced games figuring that he had already mastered the games that he had.  I bought two new games and that seemed to do the trick: Z1 was interested in the game system again.  That lasted about one week and then he started to ignore the game again.
I know already that in terms of learning style, Z1 is a dabbler.  That means that he likes to do a little of this and a little of that.  At times, however, he will find something he really likes and work on it tirelessly.  This was how he was with puzzles for a very long time.  Of course, I went out of my way to get him a wide array of puzzles and now we have a ridiculous collection.  Which he never touches. (Luckily, Z2 is into puzzles now.)   

Z1's learning style is very similar to the hubby's style:  the hubby knows a lot about and is competent in many things.  Recently, he picked up the harmonica and just with books and YouTube, has really taught himself a lot.  Learning the harmonica inspired him to pick up the kette drum again (he had just dabbled with it before) and now, he plays wonderfully.  I mean, it's really awesome to hear him play.  So I'm not really worried about Z1's learning style even though it's almost completely opposite of the way I approach things.  (I normally don't attempt things that I'm not sure I can be reasonably proficient at and then I focus on mastering that thing but these days, I'm trying to be more open and willing to take risks when it comes to learning).

Anyway, I got to wondering whether the issue with the Leapster is a learning style thing or is it a technology thing?  Z1 can play games on the computer for hours if you let him. He constantly asks me to extend his daily one-hour time limit.  He loves to watch my nephews play games on the Playstation.  And he covets his neighbor friends PSP.  So maybe the Leapster is just not as slick visually as these other systems?  Maybe the games are not as modern?  Is it like playing Atari when everyone has moved on to Nintendo?  

I will admit that I'm not in any way a game person.  I never had a game system and the only game I was really ever able to get into and play well is Tetris.  I prefer pen and paper word games.  Sometimes I like puzzles like tangrams.  Mainly I like to write and read.  So I'm having a difficult time figuring out what the problem is because I would like him to use what we bought for him.  At the same time, if it is really that the Leapster is just not as "fresh" as other games out there, I'm not ready to get him a different handheld gaming system. I watch the kids at his swimming class glued to those things.  It's what they do.  I feel like it's just one more distraction to add to the long list of distractions.  One more way to disconnect from the rest of the world.

I feel a bit sensitive about the issue already.  People texting when they very well could have called.  Staring at their phone, looking very busy, as a way to avoid social (polite) interaction at the playground or at a baby shower for that matter.  In a world that I feel is growing more and more difficult, it's pretty obvious to me at least, that we need each other, we need strong communities if we are to survive this economic climate.  Yet, it seems that at this time, there are just more and more things pulling us apart.  We're so "busy" all the time that we hardly have time to be with each other.

So pardon me if I'm not running to get the latest techno gadget for Z1.  I'm not ready yet to have him plugged in all the time although I do wish that spending my money on the Leapster didn't feel like such a waste.  I know that I can place limits on the times he can play with these things just like he's limited on the computer but . . . it really is a struggle to get him off once he's on.  He's human after all and how many adults complain about how hard it is to get away from their Blackberry or laptop long enough to have a real dinner?  Technology is addictive that way and I just think that he's too young right now and I'm not ready.  So it's the Leapster or, as it seems he has chosen, nothing for now.  

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fire Starter

Even though I don't blog about it much anymore, I'm still working on my emergency preparation/survival skills.  Recently, I purchased fire steels.  I had been wanting to add these to our supplies for some time now because I realize that there are situations where matches wouldn't really work (like if the conditions are wet).  I was having trouble figuring out how to create sparks with the fire steel despite following the directions.  Luckily, there's YouTube.  Sorry I couldn't embed the video but Ray Mears, who does the video, has some other really good videos available on YouTube.  (Another interesting channel I found is NaturalBushCraft.)  Not only did I learn how to use my fire steel, I got a tutorial on how to start a fire, an invaluable survival skill.  It's really cold right now but I'm really looking forward to the spring so that I can practice starting fires in the backyard.   

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Foiled Project!

I wanted to get my fingers busy working on a project.  Something simple and easy that wouldn't take too much thought or attention.  It needed to be something that I could make with some of my stash yarn because recently I've spent a lot of money (mainly on cold-weather running gear).  I decided on this hat (Ravelry link).  I have some bulky acrylic yarn someone gave me ages ago.  It's a pretty color (green is my favorite) but it feels like . . . acrylic.  Anyway, I figured I might as well use it up and maybe give it to a charity or something for this holiday season.

I happily cast on and was knitting away on my cheapie bamboo circular needles.  The stitches were hard to move because of the friction created by the cheap yarn and the cheap needles.  So . . . I decided to switch to double points.  At that point I realized the hat was incredibly HUGE.  I don't know what I did wrong!  I cast on the right number of stitches using the right needles . . . there's no gauge listed in the pattern so I guess it serves me right!

The hubby joked that I could use it as a neckwarmer/scarf and I seriously considered it.  The picture just really doesn't show how ginormous this thing is!  Nonetheless,  I would have just continued on knitting but the pattern with it's 1 stitch cabling was just too fussy to keep going long enough to make a neckawarmer.  So I just cut my yarn and decided to start this pattern today--an actual scarf/cowl.  No big deal.

I'm going to make another scarf (which are really good stash-busting projects). I'm going to make this scarf which I saw someone wearing the other day and I thought was cute.

Anyway, here's a blanket I finished crocheting.  I just used stash yarn (Caron Simply Solft) and this pattern.  I love the pattern and I think the results are pretty.  My only complaint is that it doesn't lay completely flat.  But the only time you need a blanket to lay completely flat is for a picture. :p


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Still Growing, Still Learning

I am.  

I let something go down a few days ago that had me kicking myself for my inability to stand up for myself and defend myself as the hardworking, knowledgeable, resourceful, experienced, well-read and wise woman that I am.  I was angry at myself for giving up my power.  I was angry at myself for the incredibly inane act of actually giving someone fodder with which to criticize me in my misguided (and just flat wrong) attempts to be agreeable and, well, liked.  And angry at the person too even though he/she wasn't doing anything I didn't allow.

I'm constantly doing work to better myself as a person and a mother.  I read a lot.  I meditate a lot.  I chant.  It's a priority to me and I'm open to advice and instruction.  I just always need to bear in mind that no one knows better than me (and I will *know* best if I just stay in touch with my gut, my true self).  

Anyway, after a couple of days, I am finally grateful for the experience.  It served as a gentle reminder to myself that I still have a lot of work to do in the area of communication. One of my best friends has been studying non-violent communication for a long time and this was finally the experience that I needed to make me realize that I need something to help me learn how to communicate in a way that's effective yet non-violent.  I recognize that many of my communication issues stem from my childhood and the way I was raised.  I feel myself tense when there's a possibility that a discussion will lead to flared tempers or hurt feelings and so I recoil and get passive (with strangers or folks who don't know me very well) or I get very defensive and lash-out (with those I'm closest to).  I want to express my needs without worrying about others reactions because I know that I'm conveying what I feel without accusing or projecting.  And that's a challenging thing to do.  

On another note, recently at my altar, I've been reading the book Buddhism for Mother's by Sarah Napthali.  This book is really a good one for me.  For some reason, I've been unable to incorporate ideas (or I've been inconsistent about doing so) from other books regarding integrating Buddhism into daily life but not the case with this one.  It is surprisingly accessible and I'm really enjoying it.  The last topic I covered was anger and on a few occasions, I've been able to watch my anger and figure out beneficial ways to handle it. The other day, I had just put a fresh diaper on Z1 getting him ready for be and he took it off. We were already running late and I just wanted to get them into bed.  Ordinarily, I would have flown into a rage (tired, frustrated, etc) . . . but this time, I was able to just acknowledge my anger, acknowledge that it was frustrating and just to put on the diaper with love and keep it moving.  In the grand scheme of things, really, it wasn't a big deal.  Certainly not big enough to let anger ruin the whole evening.  

Another surprising by-product of this book is that I've been honoring the Buddha(s) more.  It's amazing how so many of his words ring true even in this day and age.   

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