Sunday, January 31, 2010

Super Sunday Series - Friendship - Week 3

Welcome back to the Super Sunday Series, where I talk about various aspects of raising your gifted child.  If you are new here, welcome!  Click on the link below my header to see some of the subjects I've already explored.  Or sit back and enjoy . . . friendship.

Today is week 3 of Friendship, which can be a difficult learning curve for your gifted child.  In week one, I referred you to some of my favorite friendship books.  I talked about how and where to find friends in week 2.

Making Friends 
 Last week we found them.  Now let's make them.

I found multitudes of reference on making friends.  So much that it's been hard to whittle it down.  I've decided to go with my original plan and focus mainly on a friend making skill I read about in Good Friends are Hard to Find.

Learning to Be a Good Sport, which has "simple" rules.  Simple in theory, at least.  They include things like being serious about a game, not clowning around, not telling other kids how to play something or do something (Frankel calls it "no refereeing"), let everyone have a good time (not just your child), praise other's efforts, don't leave the game if you're tired or bored, suggest a new game (nicely!) instead and accept the answer, and no bragging!  All of these rules come from pages 61-62 of the book.

The book really, and I mean throughout the entire book, stresses the importance of staying with your child in an unobtrusive vantage point until these Good Sport rules are mastered.  If you see your child breaking one of the good sport rules, quietly pull him or her aside and give a reminder.

The author, Fred Frankel, closes by saying that if your child has trouble following the rules, make a pact with him or her.  Plan a reward for complying with the rules - like a trip for ice cream.  Page 66.

I love this theory, I think it's fabulous.  But I'll just put it out there.  I think learning to be a good sport can be very difficult for gifted children.  They think analytically and typically have an advanced sense of justice.  So when they see a perceived wrong being committed, I've found it's very hard for them to stay quiet about it.  And here at our house, it's so hard for Oldest not to cry about things that upset her (see below).

A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children speaks to the "high value" on social skills that society places on us.  It states,

"Parents want their children to be happy and feel accepted.  They worry that their children may feel like outcasts or suffer ill effects from not fitting in well."  Page 177.

The Guide goes on to say,

"[p]erhaps the best solution is that all children need to at least learn 'business friendly' skills - that is, behaviors that will allow them to do business with other people in a friendly manner, but this does not require them to be best friends or adopt the other person's beliefs, values or behaviors."  Page 178.

It seems that what The Guide means by "business skills" IS learning to be a "good sport."  Because The Guide is exactly right - you have to learn to put aside your own opinions to the extent that you need to be able to get along with people.  But you certainly don't need to actually adopt other's belief systems in order to "play nice."

Sheesh, wouldn't be nice if some adults in our own lives read about how to be a good sport?

You know why I have a hard time teaching Oldest about being a Good Sport?  Because I have a toddler too!  It's pretty hard to monitor good sportsmanship when you have an active toddler to keep your eye on as well.  But I do think it's worth it - this skill is an essential life skill.  Friday we were late to school because Oldest started sobbing (yes, I'm getting used to the multiple breakdowns, but she's still blowing me away with the causes) asking if she could stay home from school.  I already had one sick child staying home, so THAT was certainly not going to happen, so I asked her what was up.

Apparently, a girl (whose friendship she really covets) told her "I know why no one wants to be friends with you, but I can't tell you."  Then she went on to say, "You cry about everything that happens to you and kids don't want to be friends with you for it."

So sad.  But true, unfortunately.  I put her on  my lap to let her cry it out, while sick little Youngest patted her on the back, saying "It's ok, Oldest, what can I do to make you to feel better?"  One of those family moments you want to remember forever, right?

After the tears, we talked about whether or not she could get through a whole day without crying.  She said she didn't think so.  And I believe her!  I asked her if she wanted a trick to help her not cry about anything except an injury.  She did.  I told her, "Fake it until you make it."  I explained what I meant (which I think is a shortened version of the good sport rules above):  that in order to get along with your friends and have them want to be with you, sometimes you have to pretend things don't bother you when they do.  Sometimes you have to laugh along with a joke you don't necessarily understand.  If people ask you how your day is, they don't REALLY want to hear all 15 things that happened before we left the house, they really want to hear, "good, thanks for asking."

She was like, "isn't that lying?"  And I told her it kind of was, but it's called tact.  And that she didn't have to lie, but that she could pick something good to say even if bad things had happened.  So if she can't blow up a balloon and the whole class can (which is what started the mess the day before), then she just has to fake it until she makes it - act like it's no big deal.

I think this is a fine line to walk, frankly.  I stressed (probably too much) that this concept did not apply to Mommies and Daddies (or sisters) and that we always want to AND need to hear everything that happens to her, no matter how bad.  And added that she might get in trouble if she didn't share stuff with us.

I hope it was right.  I don't want to teach her to be fake, but she definitely needs some ability to put her heart somewhere besides on her sleeve.  It's been getting trampled of late.

And maybe hearing this from a peer will ultimately help her fix it.

Tell me about your children and their friendship development - has it been easy?  Difficult?  Do you have any tricks?  Share with us . . .

Next week on the Super Sunday Series, let's talk about making a few close friends.  We all need a couple if possible, right?  The Parent's Guide hints that gifted kids might not, but I think I disagree.

See you tomorrow - Happiness Monday - the February plan.  I'll just say UGH right now.  

Saturday, January 30, 2010

6 Word Saturday - January 30

It's 6 word Saturday.  Describe your life in 6 words or less.  Head over to Cate's blog, Show My Face, for inspiration.

Today's WAS going to be:
Date Night.  Drinks?  Dinner?  Movie?  Shopping?

Now it's:
No Date Night.  Youngest Still Sick.  :(

Happy weekend!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Dear So and So - it's Friday Follow!

One of my favorite days of the blogging week!  Dear So and So provides fun, frolic and a little bit of bite, all in one post.  If you like it, head over to Kat's place and see what the other Dear So and So crews are up to today!

Dear Blogger Comment Sections:
When I forget to do the word verification on someone's comment and I click away, losing the comment and then either have to retype it or leave it and go on, I want to claw my eyes out with a shrimp fork.

Why Cant'cha just show the word verification when I'm writing the comment, why does it have to come after I click publish?  Hmmm?  Why?  WHY?

Dear Blogging advice post I read this week:
I agree that commenting on other people's blogs is important and helps spread the love around the blogosphere, I really do!  But when you tell me that to really make an impact I should be commenting on 50 blogs/day, I say "surely you jest."  And if you're not "jesting," what in the world do you do besides blogging?  Do you realize how long it would take to comment on 50 blogs/day?

Couple extra hours in the day wouldn't hurt a girl

Dear Youngest:
I love you, sweetie!  You know Mommy does.  BUT.  Getting croup Wednesday night was not part of the week's plan.  Having to take you to my OB/GYN appointment yesterday morning instead of sending you to school wasn't on my "things that make me happy" list.  Shhhhh, don't tell anyone, but I have a crush on my OB and you kind of interrupted the mojo, sister!  I only get to see him once a year and taking my little croupy lovebug with me wasn't my idea of how to maximize my time with him.  5 minutes every 365 days ain't much time to catch up and bond!  And really, how could I not crush all over him?  He delivered you and your sister.  He delivered your sister on his own birthday.  He saved my life when things got a little hinky with you.  He replaced your arm when you tried to come out arm first - without even hurting you.  Lots of reasons to love, right?  So next year, next YEAR (as in 365 days from today, child), Momma ain't takin' any little guests with me.  Got it???

Was that TMI for a 2 Year Old?  No matter, with your 104.4 temperature last night, you won't remember this conversation anyway, will you pumpkin?

Dear Lost
Pant, pant.  I'm, pant, pant, breathless with anticipation over your pending arrival back in my life.  Pant, pant.

Please live up to the hype.  Please give me everything I've waited 5 years for.  Please.  If you don't, I'm not watching you next season.

Dear poll I put on the sidebar:
Sigh.  Not many votes and Husband, Oldest and Youngest won.  Sigh.  I suppose I've branded them that way, so we must stick with it.  Sigh.  NEXT blog I start, I'm coming up with super-catchy names for my family.

S'OK.  I actually think of them in real time that way now.  Like, "uh-oh, time to go pick up Oldest."  Or "hmmm, wonder what Husband and I should do for date night tonight."  Not kidding.

Dear Person next to me at lunch on Wednesday:
Yeah.  When you're talking loud enough for me to hear you from two tables away as I waited for my late lunch companion, you were not impressing me.  Save the impressive business talk for drunk bimbos in their 20s.  You managed a "10 million piece of a 1 billion division of a 7 billion parent company?"  Riiiiiiiggggghhhhhhttttt.  Because people who actually do have that kind of responsibility talk about it loudly and obnoxiously at lunches.  That's how they keep their jobs - bragging about their stats, isn't it?  Not quite, bozo.

And I'm Oprah's top advisor - from Ohio - did I say that loud enough so it seems true?

Dear Friday Followers
Hi!  I had a good time meeting many of you last week!  Let's do it again, shall we?  Check it out at Midday Escapades, One 2 Try or Hearts Make Families (who is taking the week off due to technical issues).

If I get to 100 followers today, the 100th follower gets your button on my sidebar for the month of February! Bring it!  

Ta-ta for now!


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Motherhood is not for Wimps

As soon as I read that quote, I knew I'd found the perfect book club.  The book is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families and the book club can be joined online at Simple Mom.

I decided to join an online book club for 5 reasons:
  1. I've never been invited to join a "real" book club (cue violin music for Poor Missy).
  2. I haven't had the wherewithal, for a variety of reasons (courage being one), to start my own.
  3. I have sitters way too much as it is anyway - do I really want to spend more time away from my family?
  4. This first book dovetails nicely with My Happiness Project and Missy's Maxims.  
  5. The first book has been sitting next to my treadmill, just crying out "read me, read me!" for over a year. Serendipity?  
So here we are - Week One.  And the quote of my title today was coupled with the sentence, "Through it all I've learned that parenting is basically a life of sacrifice."  How true both of these statements are!  Though I think I'll alter "Motherhood is not for wimps" to "Parenting is not for wimps."  I've always thought, and my communications with blog visitors has affirmed, both parents make many sacrifices for their children - most of the time.

The other quote I want to tease you with so you join the book club too give you before I shoo you over to Simple Mom and the forum you can join (anytime - you can jump in part way through  - if you don't have the book) is this one:

"[L]ike the 'road less traveled' spoken of in the Robert Frost poem, it's the road that makes all the difference.  Despite the priority that American culture clearly places on individual freedom, immediate gratification, efficiency and control, there is literally no road laden with as much joy and satisfaction as the road of rich, interdependent family living."

Powerful, isn't it?  It resonates with how I often feel over our parenting choices - the feeling of being a salmon swimming upstream against the current of mediocre parenting.  A feeling I haven't shared with many because, well, we are on a path that's not traveled by many.  And it's a path that, while I am sure it's the right one for us, is still lonely at times.  

It's one of the reasons I started this blog.

Before you leave today, share with me what you think of the quotes I've shared with you.  How do they make you feel?  Are you trying to take your family down a different path than the norm?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dinner Attitudes

Currently, the good attitudes (for the most part) and sister-sharin' love (for the most part) are on the "happy" end of the spectrum.  I might end up liking Winter after all! 

Well, that's actually impossible, but here's what I mean:

I decided 2010 would be a COLD TURKEY "Momma's fixing one dinner a day" plan.  And so far?  Smashing success.  Check out my post about my nutritional failings to get an idea of the things I do.

And don't misunderstand - I'm not going all APE on the kiddies and making things like LIVER (blech), plus I'm building in days where they get easy "stuff" (like last night was gymnastics, so PB&J was up for ease).  And I might be bribing offering them drinks of my Fresca for every real bite of something new they eat.  And swallow.  But really, who doesn't respond to the siren song of Fresca?  If you don't know the beauty of it, leave me a comment - we need to talk.

But.  Seriously!  Shockingly!  Amazingly!  Astoundingly! 

They are eating new foods and  . . . . OMG . . . finding they LIKE THEM!  Here are new things they've tried since Jan 1st - with raves (and Fresca):

  1. Brown Chicken - consomme, lemon, mushrooms
  2. Swiss chicken - swiss cheese, stuffing, cream of mushroom soup
  3. Chicken Piccata 
  4. Lasagna
  5. Bacon Spaghetti
  6. Paprika Chicken - butter, paprika, garlic
And oddly, they "take" to the new things better when we're eating at the dining room table.   At the kitchen table, there's bellyaching and moaning (which I expected), but as soon as we have "dining room table" night - open minds and experimentation (and Fresca) all around!

Not battling children at the dinner table reduces stress exponentially.  Now I just need to work on Youngest's love of "going to get something from the kitchen" which includes going in there and just standing with her finger in her mouth trying to figure out what she's there to "get."  Maybe she's getting this from her absent minded mother?

Good times, here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Blog Award - For Me? Surely You Jest . . .

So I got this blog award yesterday from Rabbit.  How sweet is that!?!  Thank you so much - you re-design this blog AND give awards? 

Along with the award comes . . . R-U-L-E-S.  Here they are:

A. List 10 things that make you happy.
B. Try to do at least one of them today.
C. Tag 10 bloggers that brighten your day.
D. For those 10 bloggers who get the award, you then link back to my blog and create your own "makes you happy" list.

My 10 things.  Hmmmm.  Well, I'm doing my own personal Happiness Project this year, seen on Mondays.  And as luck would have it, I wrote down about 50 things that make me happy.  Here are 10:

  1. My family. 
  2. Sudoku.
  3. Crossing things off my "to do" list.
  4. Reading.
  5. Discovering the joy of blogging.
  6. Diet Pepsi.
  7. Walking on the beach with Husband, Oldest and Youngest just after dawn.
  8. Still being able to talk to my parents daily.  Unless I'm getting too many instructions about being careful in the snow.
  9. Date nights.
  10. Mondays.
10 bloggers who make me happy?  Hard, hard, hard.  Some of them have already gotten this award.  Is it inappropriate to give it again?  If Rabbit gave it to you yesterday, like Living Out Loud and Show My
Face, I haven't included you here.  Also, I have a feeling some on my list will not pass around this award.  But I think I'll do them anyway.  So maybe I can change the rules a little?  If I list you, feel no obligation to continue the chain on your blog.  Just know I listed you because you are nice, helpful, insightful, or generally super.  :)

Here they are:
  1. The Happiness Project
  2. Weblog Redux
  3. Innovate to Uplift
  4. Laughing at Chaos
  5. Casa Hice
  6. 3 Bedroom Bungalow Apartment to Let in Crazytown
  7.  A House in Chaos
  8. Cathy's Family Blog - not providing the link - don't know if it's public - but it does make me smile!
  9. High Ability
  10. Hormone Colored Days
  11. Ingeniosus
  12. The More Child
  13. We are THAT Family
  14. Because I said So
And yes, apparently I can't count either.  That's why I married an acCOUNTant.  So check 'em out!  They're great.  And to all of the people I'm newly following?  I look forward to getting to know you too! 

Until tomorrow, have a happy day!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Happiness - Week 4 - Your Commandments

In her book and on her website, the Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin talks about making your personal commandments of happiness.  What are the concepts you need in order to achieve your own personal happiness?  She devotes a post to developing your own that I highly recommend if you want to make them. 

The last couple of weeks I've asked you to make lists - of what makes you happy, unhappy, and what you can (or can't!) change.  This week - one more list - your own commandments.  Check out Gretchen's at her site the happiness project for inspiration - they're in the left sidebar.  I'm also going to share mine with you, so you can see where I overlapped with her (no need to re-invent the wheel!) and where I found my own "must have" commandments.  And I'm not sure I feel comfortable with the word commandments - because there are 10 other commandments I'm supposed to follow, right?  Maybe I need to rename mine Missy's Secrets for a Successful Year Long Quest for Happiness.  But that's a mouthful.  Oh!  Got it.  Missy's Maxims.  I do love alliteration. 

Missy's Maxims

  1. Be Missy.  This is Gretchen's #1 commandment and I'm making it mine as well.  She stresses the need to be who you should be.  For me, it could probably be re-named "just don't be fake."  I've gone through stages in my life where I try to be who I think other people want me to be or try to be a different "me" to appear more likable, friendly.  When I look back at those days, however, I realize those times were my unhappiest.  For example, I don't try to keep up on fashion.  I am a fashion faux-pas on any given day.  But I've stopped worrying about it.  I am Missy, The Unfashionable.  And I figure as long as I'm going out CLEAN (most of the time), then I'm not going to torture myself about Vera Wang or Jimmy Choos. 
  2. Betterment, not perfection.  In a house full of perfectionists, you have NO IDEA how important this commandment is.  Or maybe you do . . . :)
  3. Family First, every time
  4. Let Go, Let God.  We've all heard this one, right?  It's another one I'm borrowing. 
  5. Proactive, not reactive.  Should go nicely with #3 and the Online book club's first book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective FamiliesSimple Mom has information if you're interested and I'll post on it over the next couple of months as well. 
  6. There is only love.  Another one of Gretchen's that I love.  I'll talk more about it when we get to Marriage Month (or loved one month).  Or check out her site if you can't wait. 
  7. Do what ought to be done.  Another good one of Gretchen's.  Sometimes it's so easy to avoid doing something because you're blaming someone else or avoiding the responsibility of whatever "it" is.  This Commandment is a good reminder. 
  8. BE in the moment.  I spend a lot of time with my children counting down the hours until bedtime, running through my "to do" list in my head, wishing for MY time.  Someday I will look back on this time and ache for it.  I know I will - everyone with grown children guarantees it.  This is my reminder - enjoy the time while I have it and stop wishing the hours away.  They will be gone before I know it.
  9. STAR - Stop, Think, Act Right.  I've borrowed this one from Michele Borba's book - The Big Book of Parenting Solutions.  Oldest is using it to help her remember to stop interrupting, but it applies to me too.  There are so many times that I wish I would have just paused before blurting something out (or yelling).  This method will (hopefully!) help with that. 
  10. Practice patience.  Especially from 4-6pm.  ;)
My list.  Enjoy.  Come up with some of your own and write them down!  I've added them to the My Happiness Project Toolbox as well, which is a great place to document some of what you are doing (I've linked you to the "invite friends" page to show you how much I'd love to have you join).  I've also made a "Happiness Notebook" for the year here at home, where I'm writing down my resolutions, happy/unhappy lists, these Maxims.  In February, I think I'm actually going to print them out and hang them in my office as a daily reminder. 

Feel free to share some of your own commandments - and raid mine if you want!  That's what's great about the project - it's so unique to every person even while having commonalities for all.  And by the way, these are coming to you at the end of January for a reason.  I didn't sit down and write them in one day.  It took a few weeks of experiencing different areas of "life," and then seeing what I needed them to be. 

Take care and see you tomorrow!

One more thing - Happy Birthday to my mom! 

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Super Sunday Series - Friendship - Week 2

Welcome back to the Super Sunday Series, where I talk about the many facets of giftedness in your children and how to best help them.  If you have a question or a topic you would like to read about, please leave it in the comments.  Thanks so much!  This week is the second week of Friendship.  Last week, I gave you several resources to read. 

How do Gifted Kids make, and more importantly, keep friends? 

"Peer relations can be a challenging balancing act as relationships progress through different stages . . . [g]ifted children, by definition, are different from the norm, and this undoubtedly influences their relationships with others in many ways."
A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children, Page 188.

This quote, from my gifted Bible, the Parent's Guide to Gifted Children, sums it all up for me.  Childhood and adolescent friendships can be a challenge under any circumstances.  When you add giftedness into the mix, a whole new layer of complexity occurs. 

Let's face it.  Gifted children, at their worst, can be arrogant, bossy, rude, intense little perfectionists who can't read social cues.  They can be riddled with contradictions and self-doubt because they want to make friends but have no idea how to do it. 

Friendship is so important, however.  Even the biggest introvert needs to have someone they can call friend.  And we, as their parents, need to help them, or create pathways to friendship as much as possible.  We can't assume they'll "figure it out" or "get it."  For all of their brilliance, friend making is an area where they can have big challenges. 

And in our house, this talk couldn't come at a better time.  Oldest has been crying daily over her feeling of not having any friends.  She bawled all the way home this past Wednesday, asking to be home-schooled because of her feeling of being "poked at" and "bossed around" at school (her words).  From what I can gather, she feels like kids won't leave her alone in the classroom (making it look like she does, indeed, have firiends), but that outside, kids are bossy and insist on doing the games "by their rules, and don't listen to her at all."  And really, whether she "has" friends or not, she FEELS like she doesn't right now, and it's tearing her up.  Which means it's tearing me up. 

Finding Friends

The book Good Friends are Hard to Find makes a strong case for how families today don't "make time" for friendships to develop.  Whether it's from work obligations, over-scheduled kids or other commitments, children don't seem to have a lot of "time" to develop friendships.  Page 9.  The author, Fred Frankel, suggests that you make a list of the times your child is available for friendship growth.  He says to take into consideration things like dinner hour and that weekends have more time built in. 

In our house, for example, "friendship development" COULD occur on Mondays (4-6), Thursdays (4-6), Fridays (4-6), Saturdays (2-5) or Sundays (noon -5).  That's a total of 14 hours/week.  So we definitely have "windows of opportunity." 

Both books, A Parent's Guide and Good Friends are Hard to Find suggest "places to look" for friends for your child.  I'm relying on the Parent's Guide's more expansive view.  According to the Guide, gifted children often find friendships with older children, or even adults.  As a matter of fact, your gifted child may have different friends for different skill levels. 

Oldest, for example, may develop friendships with children younger in gymnastics because she's at the same level as beginners.  Many children her age have moved onto the intermediate level, so her "peer group" in that instance might be a younger child.  Conversely, in her Suzuki Piano lesson group, she has connected with several children older than she is - in part because she aspires to play like them. 

The Guide to Gifted Children stresses that a person shouldn't limit their gifted child's choices based on location or age, which contradicts Good Friends are Hard to Find.  Good Friends encourages looking for friends in local groups and playgrounds. 

My thought is that for gifted kids, looking only at local groups and playgrounds will pose some challenges because gifted kids may not find "peers," only kids who are their age (which doesn't necessarily equal a peer for a gifted child).

This week let's start by Finding Friends.  Determine what your "windows" are for playdates and write it down.  Then think about all of the places or activities your child is a part of so that you can start thinking about possible friendship opportunities.  In our lives, for example, we could look at school, gymnastics, piano, our street or at a writing class Oldest just joined.  As I listed above, she has 14 hours a week of playdate time. 

And from personal experience, I say it's OK to be choosy on your child's behalf.  If your gifted child has intensity, perfectionism, difficulty with self-control, it's OK not to welcome poor friendship choices into his/her life.  Please don't think that a series of posts about finding friends means you should take anyone who comes along.  I'll touch on this more in a couple of weeks. 

For an inspiring look at several gifted parents, educators and advocates talking about something that impacts this very subject (the social and emotional needs of gifted children), take a look at this transcript from Friday's #gtchat on Twitter.  The best way to watch is with your pause button.  Well worth it.  One of my favorite quotes - "help your Gifted Child find his/her tribe."  Powerful, isn't it?  And so important.

So, next week, let's talk about Making Friends.  And do you have any ideas about Finding Friends that I've missed?  Please share - we can all help each other. 

***In the writing of this post, I realized that trying to cover Finding, Making, AND Keeping Friends in one post is a little much. I want to be able to do all of these topics justice and keep you all interested (ie: not make them too terribly long).***

Tomorrow - Happiness - week 4.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Six Word Saturday

Winter's cracked hands are sooooooo painful. 

It's actually been much more mild this week, but my hands (right thumb in particular - think how many times your right thumb hits the keyboard on your computer) decided this was the week to crack and bleed.  F-U-N, FUN! 

Go check out Show My Face for the other 6 word Saturdays - people are so creative with this!

See you tomorrow - Super Sunday Series - helping your child find friends.  Part 2 of "not sure."  It was going to be 3 parts, but I think it's going to be about 5 now.  :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dear So and So

It's Dear So and So day!  Yippee!  Fun!  After reading about my "issues" this week, head over to Kat's place - for some more hootin' and hollerin'! 

Dear That Puppy Lilly

Hi.  This week we celebrated our 3 month anniversary of owning you.  Here's a recap of each month, one sentence each:

1st month - I can do it, it won't last long!
2nd month - What in God's name have I done?
3rd month - You are no fun.  At all.  (ok, that was two)
4th month - The times, they are a'changin' - b/c Momma's goin' all Alpha Dog on you, little Missy.

Doesn't it feel GOOD to take charge and Alpha Dog something?  Will you LOOK at that submissive pose you're striking?  Now THAT'S what Momma like.

Dear That Puppy Lilly - AGAIN:

Now that I'm all Alpha Dog on you, let's get something straight.  Eating the rabbit dung in the yard is making me want to hurl.  Then coming in and wanting to licky, licky my facey, facey.  HURL.

Gross doesn't even begin to describe it - I might like it better if you licked YOURSELF before trying to lick me.  Ok, maybe not.

Dear Hair Dresser/Babysitter -

You know how to make a girl feel good too.  Thanks for the awesome hair.  And thanks for loving my children. 

When does a woman get to old to be unnaturally blond?  Whatever the answer, I'm doin' it 10 years longer. 

My First Follow Friday

I'm trying something a little new this morning.  It's called Follow Friday!  And is sponsored by three lovely women at One 2 Try, Midday Escapades and Hearts Make Families.  Head on over to one of their blogs and check it out if you are interested! 

Seems like a great way to meet new blogging friends.  Don't worry, Dear So and So is still coming today.  :)

MckLinky Blog Hop

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What's in a Name?

Check out the poll in my sidebar.  I'm almost finished either tweaking, completely overhauling the look or now making final, minor edits for Loving My Children's Gifts new 2010 look. 

I've put some new name possibilities for my "cast." 

I've always thought Husband, Oldest and Youngest is a bit . . . DULL.  I didn't think those monikers through back in August.   So it's time to jazz 'em up, spiffi-fy them, give them some pizzazz.  The problem is . . . most of the ones I can think of are boy names - I have two girls.  Drawing a painful blank here. 


Vote on your favorite in the sidebar OR give me a comment with your other, EVEN BETTER IDEA.  Winner gets . . . the satisfaction of  . . . the winning choice!  Kidding - if you have a button, I'll post it on my sidebar!  If you don't, I'll give you a shout out publicly.  That's how I roll.  Shout.  Out. 

Also, don't forget the Twitter gifted chat tomorrow at noon - #gtchat.  Check out for full details and explanation of "how to get there."  Or ask me - I might be able to guide us.  :)

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Suzuki Piano Recitals = Sweet Music

My 6 word Saturday post told you someone had a recital that day.  Some of you, I think, believed it was my recital.  Alas, no.  Oldest had her first Suzuki Piano recital of the year. 

What do you know about the Suzuki method?  I didn't know much either when we started almost 2 years ago.  I just liked the idea that the lessons were one-on-one, rather than group.  When we started, we had all of these "rules:"

  1. I attended alone for 2 months.
  2. I was to attend and "participate" in the lesson.
  3. Younger siblings stayed home unless they could play quietly or draw during the lesson.
  4. I had to read a book about the method before starting. 
  5. We had to observe another student before starting to see the method in action.
Stuff like that.  And let me tell ya - I almost didn't sign her up after we observed the other student (probably wouldn't have, but we'd already paid into it).  The student was like . . . brilliant.  A virtuoso.  A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

She was also the same age as Oldest.  I went to my next (and last) personal lesson before Oldest started and said, "I am shocked.  She's so good."  When what I wanted to say was, "Why did you have me watch a virtuoso?  Why not have me watch one of your "regular kids," you know, like mine's going to be.  I just had her in a keyboarding group class and she did awful." 

The teacher just said, "She's been taking a little over a year now - that's where Oldest will be next year."  I didn't believe her.   


Oldest lost TV all Memorial Day weekend, about 2 months after she started.  The only thing she could "think of" to do to entertain herself was play piano.  It was a major turn for both of us.  I started to see the method in action.

The Suzuki Method is not unlike the Montessori Method, assuming that every child, through hard work and concentration, has great potential.  Shinichi Suzuki strongly believed adults weren't born with raw "talent," that "talent" appears only through hard work and repetition.  And a nurturing environment.

He's right, of course, but you should hear people's reactions when they hear Oldest play something like Ecossaise, which was her Recital piece.  They are flabbergasted, frankly.  Like, "What talent!  What do you do!  She's amazing!" 

And I, knowing it's just the method at work, smile and tell them the Suzuki method of piano is the best choice we made with Oldest's music lessons.  That they should give it a try. 

But guess what?  When I hear the Older kids play things like Book 4, which she will get to when she's around 14, I am the one who is flabbergasted.  The boy (15) who plays ahead of us right now is SO GOOD!  I recently said this to the teacher - "My God!  He's so good!"  Because even I forget about the method when I listen to the older kids.  Her reply?  "Oh, well, that's where Oldest will be in about 6 years." 

So matter of fact about it.  But then again, she's been teaching for 30ish years, I think, so she's seen it many, many times. 

What's my point today? 

One - To tell you the Recital went great.   When you listen to kids ranging from 4 to 16 years old, you get a wonderful cross section of "where you've been" and "what you will become."  And we have become a little community of families who all share the same love of this method and the results we see in all of our children.

Two - The activities you enroll your child in really do make a big difference.  Had we stuck with the group keyboarding, we would have walked away thinking she had no "talent" and that she wasn't "meant" to be a piano player.  With some research and a bit of a leap of faith, though, she's in a program that fits her needs and personality "practically perfectly in every way." 

Three - Sometimes I love my children so much I could eat them - Saturday was one of those days.  But it doesn't matter how many times she attends these recitals (Saturday was her 4th), Husband and I are always so nervous we can hardly speak until she's done.  Oldest?  Not at all - which is one of the things I love most about children - they don't yet GET what a big deal it is to play alone in a room full of people. 

Four - Youngest will officially start when she turns 3.  THREE!  Can you believe it?  She already gets up on the bench and "does her practice," which already echoes the tempo of what she hears Oldest doing. 


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Gifted Twitter Chat Friday

I'm pleased to announce a Twitter Chat for this Friday at Noon, EST.  I strongly encourage you to "attend."  It's been coordinated by one of my Gifted Advocate Heroines - Deborah Mersino (on Twitter @DeborahMersino, blog Ingeniosus).  The hash tag is #gtchat. 

You can even vote for your topic in advance, and I encourage you to do so. 

Please join Deborah Mersino and many others on Friday at Noon - Twitter - #gtchat.  If you can't make it then, it will be done again on Friday at 7pm.  Her blog will also contain more information this week - check it out at Ingeniosus.  Or drop me a line, I'll keep you posted.  Or follow her on Twitter.  You won't be sorry. 

Let's do everything we can to stop gifted myths and misconceptions.  Let's become stronger gifted advocates in 2010.  Let's help our gifted children receive the best possible chance they can have in life - they are our future. 

Join us.

P.S.  You can also see this post at High Ability, the OAGC blog. 

Monday, January 18, 2010

Happiness Project - Week 3 - What Can You Change?

Last week I asked you to make your happy/unhappy lists.  What makes you happy, gives you joy, energizes you?  What makes you unhappy - angry, stressed, or resentful?

Gretchen Rubin and her book The Happiness Project points out that embarking on a "happiness project" will inevitably lead you through some unhappy moments.  And that one of the most important "things" you can do after you make these lists is to figure out what can be changed and what can't. 

You can't change other people.  Period. 

That's not wisdom from me - pretty much any self-help (emphasis on self) book you read stresses this notion over and over.  Your happiness project's success depends on the ability to recognize that the only person you can try to change is . . . Y-O-U.

For example, last week I said in my unhappy list that one of the things I find vexing is Husband's night-owl circadian rhythms and my early bird ones.  I am more alert in the morning and he is more alert at night.  He stays up late, I get up early.

And I could spend an entire year trying to convince him of the importance of going to bed earlier and waking up earlier (like me), but if I did, I would certainly make both of us unhappy.   So I decided I can't try to change that.  We are who we are.  As Gretchen says throughout her book, I need to Be Missy (except she says Be Gretchen  :) - of course).  So instead of banging my head against a wall wishing I could stay up later or Husband could wake up earlier, I needed to find a different solution. 

Typically, I only notice our differing sleep needs on the weekends - the rest of the week is filled with school and work schedules.  So yesterday I said to him, "You know, I've been thinking."  Always ominous. 

H- Hmmmmmm?

Me - I'm thinking that I won't get so annoyed with the pre-church rush if you wouldn't mind taking Youngest out somewhere after church, while Oldest's at Sunday School (learning about the 6th Commandment).  Then if you pick up Oldest too, I would have 90 minutes of a quiet house to help prepare for the week. 

Holding my breath.  Holding my breath.  Holding my breath.

H - That sounds good.  I love getting the time with the girls.  I'll plan my work schedule around it (the man works 7 days a week from now until April). 

Wow.  All I had to do was ask.  Say it with me - all I had to do was ask.  Sometimes you (ok, me) can fix something pretty easily without trying to change the person you love.  You just have to ask

Another Unhappy Realization

I haven't solved this next one yet, though.  One of my "happys" is watching TV.  Another happy is accomplishing things.  Guess what?  Those two "things" are mutually exclusive.  I can watch TV and veg a little, which gives me short term happiness, certainly.  But the next day, I'm stressed, angry and short with the kids because my "to do" list hasn't shrunk and all I can do is think about it. 

As an aside, I just read yesterday in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families that the average person spends 80-90 hours in front of a "screen" each WEEK!  Wha?  I did a quick calculation.  I'm at around 42 hours per week, TV and computer combined.  And I don't say this to say "whoo-hoo, looky at me," I say it to point out that there's not much more I can shave off of my "screen time," right?

The problem is the DVR and my ability to tape multiple shows throughout the week, creating a backlog of "must see TV."  Sometimes modern technology doesn't simplify your life as much as you think it will.

So it looks like I need to prioritze some shows, because I can't watch them all and stay true to my love of "accomplishment."  DVR is not my friend.  And I'm sad, because I like so many and I don't know how to leave some of them by the side of the road. 

Gretchen talks about this dichotomy quite a bit as well.  "Sometimes something that makes you happy in the short term will make you unhappy in the long term." 

Like all those dessert-y treats I ate in December and am now having to work off like a madwoman.  Or now, having to ration my TV watching to be productive. 

So I'll work on "the plan" for TV balance.  And here is this week's plan for you: 

Decide what you can change from your happy/unhappy lists and make another list called - the things I can change.  It is from that list that you can start your resolutions for each month.  Good luck! 

Anyone want to share something from their happy/unhappy list?  I can tell you something that goes on both of mine!  Puppies.  But that's a story for another day. 

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Super Sunday Series - Friendship and Gifted Children - Week 1

It's Super Sunday Series Day!  Did you notice the handy little link at the top?  Say it with me - LOVE IT!  Now you can catch up with all the episodes you miss in one easy, quick click. 

Today starts the first week in a series of 3 about Friendship.  Today I'm giving you links to internet information and books I've read and found useful.  Next week - tips for helping your gifted child find, and keep, friends.  Week 3 will be an analysis of some common friendship struggles for gifted kids. 

So away we go!  You know I love resources - sending you places to get the real deal.  Not just rely this mom's biased version.  And truthfully, I fall way short with helping my kids make, nurture and keep friends.  I am an introvert.  I like being alone.  I like a quiet house.  I have a small number of friends.  I find it much easier and (usually) more fun to spend time with my girls than try to entertain Youngest while she's begging to join Oldest when she has someone over.  I get hot flashes during playdates, wondering if it's going to end happily or in tears.  I shy away from something Oldest desperately needs help with, sadly.

But I do read a lot of books on it!  That's how I know that what I'm doing is a little . . . lacking. 

Here are some resources for you to consider in the friendship quest.  The following books aren't gifted-specific, but I've certainly found them indispensible in my understanding of friendships and their importance. 

By far the best book on helping your child make friends.  It even includes action plans for it.  Well worth the buy - mine is all marked up with my notes!

I believe that every mother of girls MUST read this book before their daughter gets totally immersed in the pre-teen and teen customs Rosalind describes. 

Here are some sites of interest:

Supporting the Emotional Needs of Gifted Children

Author Carol Fertig recently wrote a post at Prufrock Press with loads of online resources for gifted children and friendship.  I highly recommend clicking through some of them.

Next week, I'll draw on many of these books for Week 2 - helping your gifted child make friends.  Until then, check these out!  Hopefully you will learn something new. 

OR better yet, if you have other friendship books you know of, send me a comment about it and why you love it.

I'll leave you with a question - does your gifted child have an easy time or hard time with friend making?  What have you done to help him/her? 

Tomorrow - Happiness Monday! 

Saturday, January 16, 2010

6 word Saturday

Piano recital today.  Crossing my fingers.

If you liked MY six word Saturday, head over to Show my Face and Cate's blog to check out even more.  Describe your life in 6 words or less.  It's that simple.  :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dear So and So

It's Dear So and So day!  One of my favorite days of the week to post.  Because it's FUNNY!  But this week, while a huge week for ol' Missy, hasn't been that funny.  Too much pain on a global scale.  I hope some of these shenanigans bring a moment of levity.  And head over to
Kat's place to see what other Dear So and So friends are talking about today. 

Dear Security Company #1 -

Not sorry you lost my business this week.  After the new door installation ripped you out and you quoted me at $550 to "rewire you," I called another company to see if you were ripping ME off.  You were. 

I might be a stay at home mom, but I used to be an criminal defense attorney and I know a con job when I hear one.  I could write a book about the con jobs I've listened to.  Except for the whole attorney/client privilege thing.  Drat.

Dear Security Company #2 -

I like you.  I like your $160 bill to do even more than Security Co #1 was going to charge me $550 for.  I like your special security secrets that you whispered in my ear shared with me to make me feel even happier about choosing you.  I like that you cost less per month AND that lesser fee includes the insurance Security Co #1 was trying to tack onto my monthly fee.  I think this is the beginning of a long relationship.

Feeling secure - makes a girl feel goooooood

Dear Feed Burner (tracking) -

I wish I could figure you out.  You're elusive and pesky.  You remind me of a mosquito.

Wondering how to track "feed reading people" because aren't we all stalkers  intersted in our followers so we can get to know them?

 Dear Last Night's 3 Hour Meeting -

I don't mind.  We got a lot done.  And I'm happy everyone worked as hard as they did.

Let's not make a habit of it

Dear Rabbit -

I read some of your back posts yesterday.  You've been through a lot, my new friend.  Keep up the good work.  And thanks again for the Kick A** blog design. 

Thankful and humbled, still

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Whaddya Think of My New Look?

My joy over my  new look is tempered considerably by the earthquake in Haiti. 

But I think the story of how my new design came about is a small scale story of hope for humanity and that's something we all need to hear right now. 

Who woulda thunk that altering the title last week in Thursday's post would have resulted in a whole new design as fun, creative and friendly as this one?  Not me.  I don't embrace change.  I've owned the shoes currently on my feet for 9 years.  We still have our original TV from early marriage (read - no flat screen, no HD, no nuthin' fancy).  The door we just replaced was estimated at 20+ years old.  Oldest gets her transition issues straight from her Mama.

But to say I'm ecstatic over this change, this overhaul, to my blog baby would be analogous to saying I kind of like my own children.  In other words, to call my feeling ecstatic (while tempered by current events) would be the understatement of the new decade. 

Does it seem "too much" to be this overjoyed?  Maybe, but then again, you haven't listened to my internal dialogure these last months.  Wondering how to enhance the look of Loving My Children's Gifts (another slight alteration which I love).  Wondering how best to "brand" my blog baby in a blogosphere of tremendously creative and visually appealling blogs.  Wondering how to make extra pages for it (do you SEE the whole page dedicated to the Super Sunday Series?).  Knowing my vision and not having a clue how to do it. 

Then, out of blog world, comes one of the kindest, most generous, unselfish offers that I've experienced in a long, long, long time.

I know I've mentioned Rabbit a couple of times this week, who I literally stumbled across 5 days ago at Show My Face and Cate's 6 Word Saturday.  He helped me with my email subscription installation, then I reached out to him later to ask for help with the hinky margins

And in the space of one night - an all nighter I think - though I gave it up at midnight because I am a wimp - he created this fine specimen you are now staring at.  Seriously, take a moment, feel the magic with me . . . . . aaaaahhhhhhh. 

I am amazed at the goodwill, the altruism, the generosity from someone I've never even met.  Amazed. 
And over these couple of days, while I dropped hints for him to market his designs and capitalize on his talent, this is what he said:
"It tickles me to no end that I am able to do this for you. I was (am?) one of those gifted children [that you write about] - but back in the early 80s they didn't really know what in the world to do with me at the time. I ended up being pulled out of my regular classroom and placed with the Special Ed teacher (all by myself) because no one else was qualified for me. And my poor mother, Bless her Heart, had a brood of four other kiddos, one of which WAS special needs. So in some way I like to think that by helping you with your blog, I am maybe helping a "Me" out there somewhere."

Talk about making a girl cry.  We could all take a lesson from this kind and generous person.  I know I could.   

And it's that spirit, I pray, that will help carry Haiti and its ravaged residents through the catastrophic circumstances they are in the midst of.  And I don't mean to say that merely making a donation of blood supplies or money will make it all OK for them.  For millions and millions of families, life has irrevocably changed.  For those who survive, however, they will do so, in part, because of people with kind and generous spirits like this man who donated his time and talents to someone he's never met, for the reason I shared above. 

So thank you, Rabbit, for showing my readers and I what the world will hopefully be showing Haiti in the days and weeks to come.  You are Blessed.

And readers, think about what YOU can do to help Haiti's citizens.  I think I'm going to start by donating blood tomorrow. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Catholic Confession - Who Knew it Could Be Funny?

Oldest had her first Catholic Confession on Saturday.  In Catholicism, this is called First Reconciliation and it is a BIG DEAL.  Without it, she would not be able to participate in her First Communion this Spring, which is also a BIG DEAL. 

The process leading up to her First Confession has also resulted in Missy getting a NEW, IMPROVED, NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN-LEVEL of Most Embarassing Moment to boast. 

I have many embarassing moments.  I'm kind of a walking embarassment - I'm clumsy, a little (lot) messy, I'm often in a "thought fog" and walk into things.  So I have a pretty good catalog of embarassments to choose from.  Youngest gave me a good one a few months ago as well, when she pulled her pants down in Panera to show the table next to us her new underpants.  No, we didn't know them.  Yes, they thought it was funny.

But, this.  THIS! 

For the month or so leading up to Confession, her Religious Education class (hereinafter Sunday School - I find the moniker Religious Education to be a bit . . . of a mouthful) religiously studied the 10 Commandments.  They worked through 2 a week, having discussions, interpreting them in their own words, etc. 

One morning, I flipped through Oldest's Activity Book and arrived at the Interpretation page.  Next to Commandment 6's interpretation was a squiggly face.  Not a happy face - a squiggly face.   

@   @

Here's the text that prompted the squiggly face:

Commandment 6:  Don't do what parents do.

I had to ask her what the 6th Commandment was - I assumed it was "Do Not Take the Lord's Name in Vain," as I've been known to "slip" on occasion (ok, daily, if all cuss words count). 

To get in Oldest's head a bit, I said, "Hey Oldest, what's the 6th Commandment?"

Oldest:  "Do Not Commit Adultery."

OMG. OMG.  OMG!!!!!  Stay calm.  Stay calm.  STAY CALM!!!!!!!!!! 

Me:  Honey, what does that Commandment mean?

Oldest (shrugs):  I have no idea.

Me:  Then why did you write "don't do what parents do?"

Oldest:  Well, if you're not supposed to commit adultery, which has the word adult in it, most parents are adults, so I just figure it's something parents do.

Okay.  Phew.  Kind of.  Classic gifted logic leap, but still innocent. 

But Holy Mary Mother of God!  What am I supposed to do about the squiggly face?  Does the Teaching Assistant think Oldest knows what Adultery is and is basically telling her Activity Book that her parents have committed it? 

How to handle?  How to handle?  How to handle? 

The teacher is a good friend's sister and they both know Oldest fairly well.  So because of my mortification over approaching the teacher to say . . .what?  I'm not even sure, but something along the lines of, "just so you know Oldest doesn't really know what adultery is and even if she did we've never committed it but she just extricated adult out of the word adultery and applied it to parents because she pictures parents as adults ha ha isn't that so funny can we forget this ever happened?" 

Instead of THAT, I went to my friend and said, "OMG, listen to what happened.  Can you Puh-Lease tell your sister we are not adulterers?"

Who, of course, thought it was the funniest dang thing she'd ever heard, told her sister over the holidays and everyone had a great laugh. 

The End. 

The Moral to this story:  Kid's minds are oceans -  deep, mysterious and you never quite know what's going to wash ashore. 

Oh, for the Catholics out there - how did Oldest do?  She came out of the confessional, clenched her fists together, and said, "YESSSS," while walking back to her seat.  Guess it went pretty well. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Raise Your Hand if You Love Google Analytics

Today is Technical Question Tuesday! I'm not going to make a habit of it - I don't think. But then again, I do have a lot of technical questions because I just.  Don't.  Get it.

Special note:  please overlook the hinky overhang at the bottom of this (and other) posts.  I'm workin' on it!  Well, don't ignore the new ability to take my posts viral(!), just ignore the fact that it's creeping into my sidebar because there's so much of it!  Crazy ol' girl here went and played in the html when I didn't know what I was getting into and have skewed my "look" just a tad.  Thank goodness for Rabbit who's helping a sad little amateur out of the woods.  Read on.

I wish to publically thank Rabbit from Red Head Dancing and Hal from Weblog Redux for their awesome, and I do mean awesome, help over the weekend. Rabbit "virtually" installed my email subscription and is "virtually" adjusting my margins for me AND Hal introduced me to a whole new Twitter understanding - Tweetdeck. WHERE HAVE I BEEN THE LAST THREE MONTHS?? Thanks guys - seriously - people could take lessons from your altruism. Go check out their blogs as a thank you, OK everyone?

Anyway.  On with the story.

I feel like I'm talking about Mom and Dad while they're listening in on the telephone - talking about Google on Google's Blogger. 

But I need to know from you - what's so great about Google Analytics?   

I've been trying to understand why my Google Analytics Visitor number stays generally constant on the Analytics home page, whereas by the Sitemeter count I actually have 3 times as many visits as Google shows.  I was beginning to think this was a RUSE by Google so that when/if one installed AdSense, one's "count" would always stay at a certain level, thus removing the need for AdSense to pay anything.

Alas, through extensive research yesterday, I have determined that Analytics is only showing me the "count" for 30 day increments.  Why do they do that?  So here is my question for my technologically advanced readers:  What do you prefer  - Google Analytics, Site Meter, or something else entirely?  If Analytics, how do you track your stats from the inception of installing it?  Or can you not?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Missy's Happiness Project - Make 2 Lists!

I'm one week and some change into Missy's Happiness Project.  Read all about the Original Project with Gretchen Rubin if you want to catch up and check out my intro post from last week if you need!

I'm almost to the halfway point of the book.  I love it.  You should buy it.  Really.  And Gretchen is not paying me to say this.  Though I certainly wouldn't turn down a mention on her blog!  ;)

She suggests each person make a few lists early in your own project and I'm suggesting 2 for you to make today - one about happiness and one about unhappiness.  Two lists.  Should be easy, right?  Especially for all you  list making lovers out there.

Happiness List - "what makes you feel good?  What activities do you find fun, satisfying, or energizing?"  Page 295.

Unhappiness - "what makes you feel bad?  What are sources of anger, irritation, boredom, frustration, or anxiety in your life?"  Id.

I spent the whole week making my lists.  I carried them with me so that when I was inspired by something I could write it down right away.  It took me all week and you know what I found?  Making these lists made me a little unhappy.  The discoveries I made, that is. 

My happy list has 41 items.  My unhappy list has 56 items.  So for every "thing" that makes me feel happy, 1.3 things make me feel unhappy.  It hasn't been a pretty moment, realizing that.  It's made me wonder if I'm more unhappy than I thought. 

Some of the items are common, some are mundane, some are personal.  I won't bore you with the full list.  That would violate some of my . . . boundaries  . . . , but I'll share a smattering with you.  So you can feel OK about creating your own list!  Because I do believe (hope), that in the long run doing this will have been a useful, worthwhile process to undertake.  If you don't know what to fix, you can't really fix it, can you?

Things that make me happy include laughing with my kids, date night, desserts, losing weight, good parenting, family walks, Diet Pepsi, cooking, Sudoku, this blog, and crossing things off my to do list.

Things in the unhappiness column include feeling fat, being unable to say no when someone asks for help, not having many friends, yelling at my kids and hearing them yelling at each other, having an untrained puppy, not feeling heard, Saturdays, unfinished projects, the fact that I'm an early bird and Husband's a night owl, fake people, ungrateful kids, parents who refuse to parent, snow and being late.

And I gave you the smattering just like the full ratio.  For every happy thing I listed above, there are 1.3 unhappy things listed.  Just wanted to give a visual of what I'm up against this year. 

After doing the lists, I had to question myself - is this going to be a year of swimming upstream like a salmon?  Have I bitten off more than I can chew?  Am I making a mistake trying this?

I honestly don't think so.  For even though seeing these lists in their glory was disheartening, there's also a lot to work with here.  I can make progress!  And like I said last week, I have a feeling progress, or continual betterment, will be one of my biggest joi de vivres!  As I learned in an emailed comment last week, striving is a classic Type A trait - and I'm certainly Type A. 

So that's me.  You get the same homework.  Make two lists - your happy list and your unhappy list.  Try not to get discouraged by what you find!  I looked at current situations in my life too - things that make me happy/unhappy day to day.  So I didn't say I was unhappy about something that happened 10 years ago.  I didn't list "feeling like I did when I was in college" as a happy "thing."  Which wouldn't be on the happy list, anyway, I just wanted you to know my parameters. 

If you want, share them with me here - or the highlights.  Look for themes - I found several in my lists.  Or keep them private, but let the rest of us know how it felt.  And if you think this is a bad idea, tell me that too! 

From your lists you can then start finding your resolutions - if you want to do your own happiness project. 

A quick resolutions example - before I sign off.  Where I said I feel like I don't have any friends?  I DO have many acquaintances, but I'm not good at keeping up with them or deepening them into friendships.  I have valid reasons for this though - I'm too busy, I'm swamped with kids, etc.  So an easy month to plan will be a friendship month where I reconnect with friends and maybe make some new ones too!  Execution will be a different story that month because I'm an introvert, but you get the idea, I hope!

So get cracking!  Your lists are in your brains, just waiting to be put to paper.  And I can't wait to hear how it goes - if you feel willing to share.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Super Sunday Series - Cycles

Welcome, Super Sunday Series readers!  If you are new, the Super Sunday Series is where I talk about all "things gifted."  Or if the topic's not an officially "gifted topic," I relate that week's subject to raising your gifted child.  See my introductory post on the Super Sunday Series if you want more background.

This week?  Cycles.

I've had a hard time writing this post all week.  I couldn't find much (ok, any) research on it and you know how I love to rely on research for my Super Sunday Series

The only connection I found was in the book Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children.  The discussion related to how mood cyles in gifted children can be mistaken for Bi-Polar Disorder.  Yikes - wouldn't that be a horrible, horrible misdiagnosis to make?

Cylcles happen with Oldest seasonally.  She will start a downward spiral, often unable to pull herself out of it until she gets in some kind of major trouble.  In some ways, I think this is just an extension of transitions, and maybe it's the long term result of a major transition.  Because it occurs so far away from the original transition, however, it doesn't feel connected.

The downward spiral manifests itself by worsening and worsening behavior, with eventually a day so bad, where she's so rude, so extreme, that I feel like my only choices are to send her to the circus or do something drastic at home. 

She's cycling down right now, as a matter of fact.  I wrote about it Monday.  Hints I have that she's on the downward trend are extreme overreations (like accusing Youngest of name calling her when she calls her by her nickname), inability to control herself (like throwing a cup at me in the car Monday) or being over the top silly (to the point where you can't even communicate with her - like I start talking and she starts quacking or something.  I GET that she's sending the message that she doesn't want to hear what I have to say, but really, sometimes that's what life's about - having to listen when you don't want to).

Interestingly, when she's on an upcycle, she's completely unstoppable.  Completely.  In a good way.  Oh!  Wow - epiphany #1 - it's the same as when she's on a downcycle - just as unstoppable.  It's just so much more painful. 

So what happens when she reaches a day of such atrocious behavior that my only alternative is to ban major privileges?  That usually turns her around.  And the discipline is usually the triple strike - no computer, tv or dessert for a week.  That's where she lives - taking those away, especially together, have a major impact. 

When does she cycle?  As I said above, seasonally:
  1. Fall - about 6 weeks after school starts
  2. Winter - in the month of January - after Christmas vacation
  3. Spring - usually May - during the last two weeks of school
  4. Summer - mid-August - about two weeks before school starts
And as I wrote these notes Friday night - it hit me right in the face.  Epiphany #2.  School's the connection.  Her cycling into poor behavior is connected to her anxiety over school starting or ending.  Looking at it now, in print, it seems so obvious, and it makes me feel completely obtuse to not have noticed the connection before this post.

How sad for her that school creates that much anxiety and stress for her.  How sad for her that we haven't given her the tools yet to stop it before it wreaks havoc on her existence. 

I would love to know if other people have this issue with their gifteds.  If so, what do you do?  I'm so sad for her right now because she is really struggling.  At the same time, however, I can't abide the poor attitude, barely controlled anger and the extreme reactions to things.  We are a family and I have a home to run, the world can't revolve around her emotions, right? 

I planned this post to hit at a time when I thought a cycle might be occurring so I could accurately reflect my feelings.  And I've got one.  And how does it make me feel as a parent?  Awful, like I can't parent her right.  Like I am failing her.  This week has been one of those weeks where I wonder (overwhelming evidence notwithstanding) if she can even be gifted because her emotions are so out of whack.   

Sometimes these Super Sunday posts are painful for me.  It hurts to dredge up emotions you feel toward your child, whom you love unconditionally.  But today's, while saddening, is also hopeful.  Through the writing itself, I discovered something new about her and that's powerful for me.  It means I can help her find the right path now.  Thank goodness. 

What will you see the rest of the month on the Super Sunday SeriesFriendship.  That, dear readers, seems to be at the heart of her current struggles.  I think I have three week's worth of material about it.  If not, we'll adjust, don't worry!  I'm flexible that way (sometimes).

Much love.
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