Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Power of Praise (hint: it's not what you think)

This post is written for inclusion in the Carnival of Gentle Discipline hosted by Paige @ Baby Dust Diaries. All week, April 26-30, we will be featuring essays about non-punitive discipline. See the bottom of this post for more information.

In Montessori training we are taught to be mindful of the amount and kinds of praise we give children.  One of the main goals in Montessori is to foster children's innate motivation to learn and do things.  Children instinctively want to please adults, and giving lots of very enthusiastic praise can cause them to start doing things in order to please and get that praise, rather than because they truly want to do them for themselves (to use creativity in art as an example, they may start making the kinds of drawings that tend to get them lots of praise, rather than what they may want to draw for their own enjoyment).  In the classroom, we try to give limited praise, and focus on praising the process rather than the finished product.  So, basically, praise is something I've been aware of for a while and tried to be mindful of (which is difficult in our culture, as praise is usually viewed as a very good thing, and the more of it the better).

Then a few months ago I read Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman's book, NurtureShock, and I was blown away by all the research that supports the idea that lots of praise is not really a good thing.  Here is one simple example:

For the past ten years, psychologist Carol Dweck and her team at Columbia (she’s now at Stanford) studied the effect of praise on students in a dozen New York schools. Her seminal work—a series of experiments on 400 fifth-graders—paints the picture most clearly.
Dweck sent four female research assistants into New York fifth-grade classrooms. The researchers would take a single child out of the classroom for a nonverbal IQ test consisting of a series of puzzles—puzzles easy enough that all the children would do fairly well. Once the child finished the test, the researchers told each student his score, then gave him a single line of praise. Randomly divided into groups, some were praised for their intelligence. They were told, “You must be smart at this.” Other students were praised for their effort: “You must have worked really hard.”
Why just a single line of praise? “We wanted to see how sensitive children were,” Dweck explained. “We had a hunch that one line might be enough to see an effect.”
Then the students were given a choice of test for the second round. One choice was a test that would be more difficult than the first, but the researchers told the kids that they’d learn a lot from attempting the puzzles. The other choice, Dweck’s team explained, was an easy test, just like the first. Of those praised for their effort, 90 percent chose the harder set of puzzles. Of those praised for their intelligence, a majority chose the easy test. The “smart” kids took the cop-out.  

Read more: The Power (and Peril) of Praising Your Kids -- New York Magazine

NurtureShock deals with many different topics, but the first chapter is on praise and its positive and often surprising negative consequences.  It looks like most of this first chapter has been published on the web over here (thanks, Jessica, for sending the link!), and I urge every parent, teacher, grandparent, and basically anybody who ever deals with children to head over and have a read.  It's a difficult concept to wrap your head around sometimes (how in the world can praise be bad, right?), and an even harder habit to break (I have such a hard time not gushing to D how smart he is every 5 seconds!), but I think it's a really important thing to pay attention to.

The rest of the book is equally brilliant.  There is a chapter on how sleep affects learning and mood (and how many of the classic stereotypes of teenagers-- grumpy, disengaged, bored, etc-- might simply be symptoms of sleep deprivation thanks to having to wake up so early for school); how parents deal with race and how important it is to talk with your children about it; why kids lie (and why most strategies used to keep them from lying to us encourage them to get better at it instead); why siblings fight; how to teach self-control; how children and babies develop language skills (hint: it's not just about talking to them); etc.  Each chapter challenges some basic idea that most of us take for granted as Truth, and instead presents all sorts of evidence for how and why that approach might be backfiring on us.   It really is a fascinating read, and one I recommend highly.  You don't have to agree with what they say, but it's pretty eye-opening and at times just plain shocking to read through all the research they have studied.


Gentle Parent - art by Erika Hastings at to the Carnival of Gentle Discipline

Please join us all week, April 26-30, as we explore alternatives to punitive discipline. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month in the USA and April 30th is Spank Out Day USA. In honor of this we have collected a wonderful array of articles and essays about the negative effects of punitive discipline methods, like spanking, and a myriad of effective alternatives.

Are you a Gentle Parent? Put the Badge on your blog or website to spread the word that gentle love works!
Links will become available on the specified day of the Carnival.

Day 1 - What Is Gentle Discipline
Day 2 - False Expectations, Positive Intentions, and Choosing Joy (coming Tuesday, April 27)
Day 3 - Choosing Not To Spank (coming Wednesday, April 28)
Day 4 - Creating a "Yes" Environment (coming Thursday, April 29)
Day 5 - Terrific Toddlers; Tantrums and All (coming Friday, April 30)

six word sunday: The garden snail invasion begins... slowly.

six word sunday challenge

Saturday, April 24, 2010

on facebook & the job hunt

So much going on, but have no idea what to really write about.  Let's see... I'm having an internal dilemma about Facebook.  I love using the site, it's reconnected with me with all sorts of people from all different phases of life, and allows me to keep in touch with them easily. I also have recently found lots of great pages to be a "fan" of that link to interesting articles, etc.  Facebook is entertaining, and also a great networking tool.

It is also apparently quite biased and bigoted.  Facebook has made a decision, it appears, that breastfeeding is obscene and offensive.  They routinely take down pictures of women breastfeeding their babies, even just yesterday one of the groups I follow got a warning from Facebook for "offensive content" and they can't for the life of them figure out what was so offensive.  In the meantime, pictures of half-naked women are left up. Groups promoting rape and praying for the death of our president are left up, despite being reported multiple times.

It makes me kind of furious, and makes me seriously consider boycotting Facebook by deleting my account  and washing my hands of the whole site.  But I also know that when it comes down to it, the only one who'll suffer from that is me-- Facebook won't care about one less user, it's me who won't be able to use the site to keep in touch with friends, family, and acquaintances.

So, I'm torn.

In other news, Zach has 2 job offers in, and expects a 3rd to come in any day now. He's still negotiating a few things.  We will likely make a decision by next weekend.  Yes, it does feel kind of insane.  I'm trying to just not think about any of it too much till we know for sure what all the options are, and then we can make a final, lasting decision (as opposed to talking things to death for the 100th time only to have new information come in later that changes things).

My in-laws arrive this weekend and will be with us most of next week.  Should be a nice time. D's face lights up and I tell him Grampa Hank and Grandma Susan are coming. So sweet. =)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Aquarium Photos

A few pictures from Monterey Bay Aquarium. For the whole set, head on over to flickr.

I think this guy was just called a sea slug. It was really, really neat to watch.

The aquarium was showing an exhibit called The Secret Lives of Sea Horses.  It was pretty amazing to see the different types of sea horses and sea dragons in the tanks.

Monday, April 19, 2010

...where were we?

I know posting has been scarce around here lately...  I definitely have a lot of things swirling around in my head, but everything is still so up in the air that there's no real point in hashing any of it out on here, since who knows what sort of new information we may get at any time that would change things.  (dun-dun-DUUUUNNNN! sorry, really don't mean to sound so melo-dramatic)

Zach's off in Sacramento today and tomorrow for a not-quite-interview, then goes to New Jersey on Wednesday for a for-real interview.  There may be heavy discussions to follow this weekend.  I'm starting to come to terms with the reality that we're highly likely right now to end up moving away from California, which is ok, really.  I actually really think the places we're considering could be really great places to be, with many benefits over life here.  The one thing that I'm most reluctant about, though, is... the weather.  I mean, did you know that during the entire month of January the average high temp in Michigan is below freezing?  That's for an entire MONTH.  **shivers**

In other news, the other day I thought it'd be fun to show D parts of Fantasia, as I remember seriously loving that movie when I was a kid.  I found the Dance of the Hours on youtube and showed it to him, wondering what he'd think.  Well, the kid has gone head over heels for the clip, and is now constantly asking to watch the "hippopotamus and ostrich."  And let me tell you, those are really cute words to hear a 2 year old attempt to say. ; )

This morning he went to Ms Pam's house again, though I think this will be his last regular week to go (in-laws arrive next week, then next month we may do drop-in hours as needed depending on if we're moving...?).  When we picked him up at noon she mentioned that he'd seemed a little different today, and we told her about how our Monterey trip went, and she said yes, she noticed something similar, that he was wanting to have control over everything and not accept anything she suggested for him.  She thinks he may be going through what she called an "emotional growth spurt."  I suppose that sounds a lot better than "has become a total grouch."  Honestly, he hasn't been that bad the past few days, though I'm not at all pleased with the way he's started saying NO! and may have to try to find a way to discourage that nasty tone.

Friday, April 16, 2010

aquarium trip gone awry

All I want to do right now is curl up in bed and take a long, long nap.  Instead, I'm wading through a backlog of pictures from the past couple weeks, trying to get through some of the sorting/tagging/uploading while I have a chance.  Zach's about to be gone a lot of the coming week, and I don't want to keep falling further behind than I already am.

My house may be a mess and it may take me a good week to actually put away clean laundry, but god forbid my pictures not be up-to-date (we all have our priorities, don't we?).

It's been really nice having Zach be, well, not working, though somehow it's gotten pretty busy around here.  Wednesday evening was lovely, I got together with a few mom friends and sat around the hot tub sipping drinks and chatting.  Then yesterday Zach, Donovan, and I drove down to Monterey to spend the afternoon at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  It's a long enough drive that we decided to splurge on a hotel room and spend the night.

I've been to the Monterey aquarium a few times before, and I have always loved it. It's beautifully built, in a beautiful place, and I never tire of watching all the different sea creatures.  I am so fascinated by how different life looks underwater, and the completely different and sometimes completely odd adaptations that have developed to fit that way of life.  D's been to a couple of smaller aquariums and seemed just as fascinated, so I was really excited to share this with him.

Unfortunately, the whole thing was kind of a disaster.  For whatever reason, yesterday he was in the most awful, foul mood, all day long.  Anything we suggested was met with an angry, loud "NO!" He refused to walk in the direction we asked him to.  If we tried to pick him up and carry him instead, he'd scream and wriggle and throw a fit.  The kicker is we'd finally get him to whatever it was we were trying to show him, and he'd instantly calm down and be totally interested.  But yeah, it made for a very frustrating visit.  Thankfully the aquarium has several areas that are designed for kids to just play in, so towards the end of the day we just took turns letting D play in one of them with one of us watching, and the other going off to check out whatever exhibits we wanted to steal a glance at.

It was not exactly the happy bonding experience I'd hoped for.  (I actually would say this has been our worst family trip to date.  Maybe I've gotten spoiled that D's been such a good traveller every other time...)

Thankfully we managed to get through a sit-down dinner (we picked a restaurant near an open area where we could take turns walking around with him), and bedtime went over semi-ok.  He woke up around 2am crying and saying something about "Donovan push lawnmower!" at which point Zach brought him into bed with us (yay for hotel room king beds), where he slept for another 3 hours before waking again.  This morning went slightly better, but not by a whole lot.  I'm really hoping this is a phase, because GOOD LORD I'm not sure how much more of this I can take.  Zach and I are both so worn out after just these past 2 days that I have zero guilt about sitting D in front of some videos while Zach takes a nap and I catch up on pictures/blogging.

BTW as a quick JobSearch2010 update: Zach's gotten one firm offer from the place in Michigan.  Monday he'll drive to Sacramento to talk to another company (though it looks like they won't have any openings till June which doesn't work too well for us), and then Wednesday & Thursday he's heading out to New Jersey for an interview.  It's looking quite likely that we might be going to Michigan, but we'll have to wait and see if anything else pops up. I'm both excited and a bit terrified about all this.

Monday, April 12, 2010

hospital-inspired musings

One interesting thing I noticed while we were in the hospital recently with Donovan was how many different people were involved in his care.  We arrived at the ER around 7:30pm, and left the next day at 1:30pm.  In that time we dealt with 3 doctors, and at least 5 or more nurses.  I understand that nurses and doctors need to work in shifts and it's just not realistic to have one person be with you the entire time.  I'm not sure what other alternative there is for this type of situation.  But it seemed like having so many different people involved, coming and going at different times, led to some confusion and miscommunication.  For example, the ER doctor told us not to give D food or water while he was still having trouble breathing, as there's a risk he might choke on it. Just a few minutes later when we saw the pediatrics doctor, he advised us to offer him water regularly that it would be a good sign if he ate some food.  There also was some confusion as to when and which treatments he was supposed to get (a nurse came in at one point and started giving D liquids via IV, even though the doctor had said she didn't think that would be needed), and the Albuterol treatments he was supposed to get every 2 hours overnight didn't get started till 4:30am when the nurse realized no one had come to administer them.  And, when our 3rd doctor walked in the room and asked if we wanted to go home, I was relieved though a part of me felt a little bothered that this new doctor, who hadn't spent any time with D, was deciding we could go home.  Was she really sure?  How much did she know about his situation?  Though, it wasn't like I was going to request to stay any longer than we needed to.

Overall, I felt we got pretty good care.  At least, as far as I can tell-- the outcome is that D got better fairly quickly, and we were able to then go home.  But it did make me wish there were a better way, though I don't know quite how that would work.

It did also make me think back to labor and childbirth, and what a hospital birth would feel like-- having to deal with new nurses and doctors every few hours, each needing to get your information or catch up on your status all over again.  This was one big reason I was so attracted to using a midwife when I realized it was an option-- I loved the idea of (at least) one health care provider who would stay with me the entire labor, no matter how long it lasted, and that I wouldn't need to assert my labor preferences to a stranger because my midwife would be there and already knew what I did or didn't want.  I personally believe this is one of the biggest benefits of using a midwife and giving birth in a birthing center or at home.

As a sort-of related aside, after switching care providers so late in pregnancy with Donovan, when we recently started talking more seriously about having #2 I became determined that this time I'd research and find my midwife and back-up OB before even getting pregnant.  And I did. I found a lovely midwife with whom I've kind of fallen in love (her website has tons of really great information, BTW, on midwifery in general and also on homebirths), and even an out-of-hospital-birth-friendly OB in the area who I found through a friend's recommendation.

And, of course, as luck and life would have it, chances now look pretty good that we'll be moving out of the area sometime in the coming months (at least, it seems that way as we have a few potential jobs in other states, but none right here in this area-- at least as of right now).  Oh well.  I suppose it goes to show that no matter how well you try to plan for something, things don't always work out the way you'd envisioned.  ; )

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Easter Pics

A few pictures from our Easter sunday. We had a nice day, fairly low-key.  Went to a friend's for a little easter egg hunt.  Good times. =)

More on flickr.

Friday, April 09, 2010


Things have been getting slowly but steadily better over here.  Donovan's knee was hurting pretty badly both Tuesday and Wednesday... but by yesterday morning he was able to walk on it (limping, but without a whole lot of apparent pain) and today he's walking almost completely normally on it.  I was so worried that he'd be hurting for a long time, so it's been so wonderful to see him improve so much from one day to the next.  I forget how resilient kids are, physically.

He's also been feeling better overall, though when we went to the pediatrician yesterday morning she said she still heard wheezing in his lungs when he breathed.  I mentioned that D violently hated using the inhaler, and that I couldn't really tell if he was even getting much medicine from it since he fought it so hard.  She gave him a dose of Albuterol via nebulizer (the machine that blows steam/smoke stuff to breathe in) and he tolerated that much better-- he just sat there with the mask on his face, totally still.  She heard an improvement in his breathing after the treatment, and so ordered us our own machine to continue using at home every 4-6 hours for a few days to help him get all the way better.  Thanks to what appeared to be a long comedy of errors the machine that was supposed to arrive early in the day didn't make it till after D's bed time, but we've been giving him the treatments today and he's done really well with them.  He likes getting to turn the machine on and off on his own.  =)

Interestingly the past day or 2 there's been a few times when he's had small bumps, things that he normally brushes off quickly... and instead he'll have a big meltdown over it.  I suspect he's still so freaked out from everything at the hospital that this threshold for pain/stress/etc is just way low.  Poor guy.  I am so amazed at how well he's been dealing with everything in general.

So, we'll keep using the nebulizer, then see the doctor again next week for another follow-up.  I'm hoping we can soon put the machine in a closet somewhere and not ever have to think about it again.

As an aside, we all went to Happy Hollow this morning for our first time.  I have to upload pictures and then share.  It was super fun, though massively crowded.  D's favorite ride was the one with the fire trucks and police cars.  =)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

I might be needing a stiff drink

So, who wants to hear about our latest hospital stay? Wheeee! (I realize this is a super long post... sorry about that)

This is Zach's first week off work. We had many things planned for this week-- family outings, a play date or two.  We'd also planned on having a little morning date while D went to Ms Pam's in the morning.  All that was scrapped when D woke up feeling pretty miserable.  We figured he'd caught the cold I suffered through last week, and we'd just take it easy for a few days and he'd be fine. Zach went out to run some errands and D and I snuggled up on the couch watching Mighty Machines.

Around 10:30am I saw D rubbing his eyes and mentioned that we could take a nap soon. He perked up and said, "Yes. Wanna take a nap! Wanna take a nap." He even walked to his room and laid himself down in bed.  He didn't manage to sleep very long, but all day long he just seemed super tired and several times said he wanted to lay down or try to take a nap, and would go lay in his bed.

This is VERY unusual.

I also noticed that he was breathing more fast and hard than normal, as if he'd just exercised really hard.  Towards the end of the day he also got clingy and whiney, and I could hear a rattling in his chest and wheezing when he breathed out.  Zach suggested we call the Kaiser advice line to see if maybe we should bring him in for someone to look at him.  Normally the nurses on the phone are super nice, but this one wasn't being as patient and I started kinda freaking out on the phone as I tried to describe exactly how he was breathing. Other times I've called in it's been pretty straight-forward, you know "he has a fever, he's doing this, he threw up X times, he's acting like this, etc."  This time I was having a really hard time putting into words how he was acting and breathing, and felt such immense pressure to get it right or risk missing a major red flag.  In the end the nurse asked where our closest ER was and if we could get there safely, then suggested we take him in... adding "but if at any point on the way over he goes unconscious, pull over right away and call 911."

Breathe. Breathe. OH. MY. GOD. Breathe.

Of course all D wants to do at this point is go to sleep-- he's been trying all day but his breathing/coughing/wheezing kept him up, and by then it was almost bedtime.  Luckily the drive was short, and I sat in the backseat with him and read books, tried to tickle him, did everything I could to keep those drowsy eyes open. I did manage a smile or two, which helped calm my nerves somewhat.

The ER wasn't very busy, so our wait was mercifully short.  We got taken to a room where they started hooking him up to all sorts of monitors-- a finger monitor to check his blood oxygen levels (a bit on the low side), stick-on monitors on his chest to check heart rate and rate of breathing, and the one that almost made me burst into tears because I wasn't AT ALL prepared for it was the breathing tube for his nostrils. You know, the kind you see on really sick people.  Except they were putting it on my kid.  A doctor checked him out, said that yeah he was having a lot of wheezing in his chest and seemed like his lung passages (I know that's not at all the right term, but can't of what they're called right now) were tight and congested.  The oxygen tube was to help get more oxygen in his bloodstream, as he was low (they normally like to see levels between 94-100, I think, and he was at 89/90 when we first got there).  She prescribed a steroid and nebulizer treatments of Albuterol to help open up his lungs, and called Pediatrics to see if they wanted us to stay overnight.

Donovan was AMAZING for all this.  He just sat there quietly, watching people come in and out of the room. His lip quivered a few times and his eyes welled up with a few tears, but he let them put the monitors on and put a mask over his face with a nebulizer treatment and everything.  The worst part was when they came in to put an IV needle in, so they could get a blood sample and give IV fluids if needed.  That took FOUR tries before they finally got it in right.  As you can imagine, this was fairly traumatic for all involved. One of the nurses who helped with the IV came back in the room a few minutes later and just at seeing her he started crying. =(

Later we had to get a chest x-ray to make sure he didn't have pneumonia, and that was also kind of awful since the device they had t put him in to hold him still looked more than a bit like a torture chamber.

After the IV and the x-ray, he kinda started getting very wary of any new nurses or doctors coming into the room and wanting to do anything to him....
Donovan in the ER0405102216a.jpg

One thing that helped was that the room had a couple of books to read, and one was a kid's book about dinosaurs who ride a train.  Methinks someone knew Donovan would be in that room.  A couple of times after having a semi-traumatic treatment done as he was calming down he'd say "Read the book, read the book" between sobs.

We finally got into our overnight room around midnight or so, and got sorted with new monitors and getting all his info, etc.  We managed to get a few hours of sleep, but it was tough as staff kept coming in to check on him or do this and that.  Zach went home so he could hopefully be a little more rested himself.  By about 5:30am I gave up on trying to get D to go back to sleep again, and we played in his crib. A friendly nurse brought in a monster truck toy that he loved, and a few hours later they unhooked him from all the monitors so we could walk the halls a bit and check out the play room.  He loved that, they had some really cool toys to play with.

By 10am a new doctor came in and checked him out, and said after we get our meds we could go ahead and go home. WOOT!  While we waited for things to get sorted we went back to the play room, and then went to play in the outdoor playground adjacent to it.  There was a little hill to play on, and D and Zach ran up it and then started running down... and D ran too fast, lost control, and fell, twisting his legs.

I saw what happened and thought, "Aw crap, he twisted his ankle."  Zach saw it and thought, "Oh shit, he tore his ACL..."  He was crying a LOT, more than normal for a fall, and when we tried to get him to stand up and put weight on his legs they'd just buckle.  We carried him back to the room and called the nurse in, who called the doctor to come look at him (that's the silver lining-- you might as well do it while you're already at a hospital).  By then he was able to put some weight on it and stand, but he was limping pretty heavily and it clearly hurt a lot to put weight on his right leg.  The doctor checked his legs and his ankle and knee joints, and said it didn't seem that he's broken or torn anything, so to just put warm compresses on it for a couple days then try cold ones after that, and it should feel better soon.

After that extra bit of trauma, D passed out and took a long nap.  Finally by 1:30pm we had all our stuff sorted and were able to go home.  He still seemed kinda out of it all afternoon (looked a bit pale), but I think that was mainly from being so tired from hardly sleeping the night before.  His breathing is WAY better-- he's also coughing more and breaking up the mucous in his chest.  Thankfully he takes the steroid (oral through a dropper) very easily.  The inhaler with Albuterol that we're supposed to give through today is a bitch though. He HATES it. Screams and flails. I think he just really hates the face mask I have to put on to get him to breathe it in.  I'll be very glad when we're done having to give it to him.

We're trying to keep him off his leg as much as possible-- we're watching lots of TV, going for walks in the stroller, etc.  He still wants to get on his legs and walk, but he'll take a couple of steps and remember that it hurts and start wailing.  We have a follow-up appointment tomorrow, so can ask more about his leg and what we can maybe expect for his recovery.  It really sucks for him to not be able to move around as much.

In a stroke of luck and fate, it just so happens that my mom had planned a trip to come see us for a few days before attending a work conference nearby.  She arrived this morning.  This is a nice treat for Zach and I (I'm planning to go take a much-needed nap after I finish writing this), and also for D as he absolutely adores her so this is a pretty nice treat for a kiddo who's one hell of a past few days.

Friday, April 02, 2010


As I contemplate what  Zach's job search will turn up and where life will take us next, I've started looking back and wondering about what it is that's gotten us to where we are today.  There's been a lot that I would chalk up to our own merit.  We've made many conscious decisions over the years that allowed us to accrue a nice little nest-egg so that we don't have to feel stressed as Zach leaves his job-- decisions on how and where to spend money, even Zach's choice of chemical engineering as a major over other similar fields based on its higher potential income.  There's also all the hard work we have both put in, in school and work and life in general.  I don't want to downplay these factors or negate them.

But there's also been a whole lot of plain old luck involved.  Luck in general, never-think-about-them things such as being born to and raised by loving, middle-class, non-abusive families.  Attending good schools, and growing up with an understanding that education is important and that college wasn't an if, but a how and where.  Having both the emotional and financial support to get through school.  Meeting influential people along the way, both in work and in school, who have helped give us direction and inspiration (and the all-important connections). Opportunities that have opened themselves up to us at the right moment, such as a job at my dream Montessori school right out of training, or an ex-pat package to Switzerland (not to mention the chance for Zach to leave a job he was growing to hate, with a healthy lay-off package on top of it-- that's been a particularly brilliant stroke of luck).  Being able to plan out our family, to choose when we wanted to have Donovan.  Marrying a spouse who supports and appreciates what I do, even if it doesn't bring in a paycheck. Our health. Our functioning bodies.  Our mental health.

So I would say our lives are the product of a fusion of the two-- conscious effort, and luck.  Many people have one or the other (or seem to only acknowledge the effect of one over the other), but we happen to have both.  At least, we have so far.  We've been incredibly lucky so far.  Life may not always be easy, and I've spent a lot of time frustrated over day-to-day things that can be difficult to deal with in the moment... but when I step back and look at the whole picture, holy cow do we have it good.

And there's this little part of me that's just watching and waiting, waiting for that luck to run out.  Waiting for some tragedy or catastrophe to happen.  It's not something I obsess over or spend hours awake at night thinking about... but it is something that is often just sitting there, at the back of my mind, a little voice reminding me to appreciate everything I have because you never know when it might be taken away from you.  Because we can't keep on getting this lucky forever, can we?  Can we really keep catching these lucky breaks?

Zach jokes about "hitting the jackpot"-- landing a job that starts just as his notice ends, so we get to enjoy these weeks of paid "off" time beforehand but also keep most of the severance as savings.   I'm curious to see if he'll pull it off.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

A Week in the Life

I don't even remember how (oh that's right, I read about it in Real Simple) I stumbled upon this blog post yesterday, but I did.  It's from the Ali Edwards blog, which I've heard of before but never gotten around to reading much of. It appears she is very well known among scrapbooking circles.  She has an annual project called A Week in the Life, where you document all the little details of your daily life, using pictures and words, for a whole week. The idea is then you put them all in a scrapbook, and have a keepsake of a snapshot of time in your life.

I knew the project, as I remember a friend of mine doing this very project a year or two ago.  I instantly loved it, but at the time D was still a baby and I couldn't imagine having any chance of pulling something like that off.

And then I was reminded of this little project yesterday, and I thought, "Huh."  Our lives are about to undergo some potentially really huge changes-- depending on how Zach's job search goes, we may find ourselves moving away from California, or at least away from the Bay Area.  We're contemplating expanding our family.  Zach and I are both about to turn 30.  So, doesn't it make sense to try to capture this moment in time, as it is now?

(I also like the added challenge of taking my camera everywhere we go for a week, and taking pictures of the things we do... something I still shy away from too often)

Yes, I blog.  This blog has served as a great archive of everything we've done and gone through in the past... 5 years?  But as I thumbed through some of my old scrapbooks last night, the ones I started in high school and kept up for years but haven't touched in a good two years, I realized that while I love the life archive my blog gives us, it's still not quite the same as a book you can hold in your hands and look through while sitting on the couch.  And I don't write about the little mundane details of our days-- our current favorite dishes or snacks to eat, the toys D's playing with, not-even-thought-of rituals to our day.  And I think it would be really cool to have a series of these week-long snapshots of our lives, to compare and look back on over the years.

So I think I'll give it a try.  However, considering I haven't touched my scrapbooking materials since before D was born, I think in order to make this a more realistic project I'll make a photo book out of the results instead.  That seems less effort-intensive at the moment. (I do hope one day I can make more time for scrapbooking... I miss making things out of pretty paper and pictures, and hand-writing my captions)

Anyone else wanna give it a go?  ; )


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