Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Snow Covered

Snow Covered, originally uploaded by hannah8ball.
I love the way snow naturally desaturates everything. It does all the hard work for me.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

On sleep

Some of you may know that my husband (who now blogs) and I work at the same company.  Which definitely has it's perks.  One of the non-perks is that the office is 52 miles one way from our house.  And the traffic is terrible.  So, we get up at 5AM to get into work by 7.  Fortunately, I get to work from home 4 days a week, so when my husband wakes up at that horribly early hour, I don't even hear his alarm.  I just snuggle down for a few more hours of restful sleep. 

However, as I've been pondering what I should give up for Lent this year, it occurred to me that perhaps I should give up my sleeping in.  My darling husband drags himself out of bed most days of the week, and manages to come home after a long day at work, make me dinner, and play with our daughter.  So, I'll be giving up sleeping in order to live in solidarity with my husband during Lent. 

And since I'll have an extra 2 hours in my day that is normally spent dreaming, I plan on taking that time to finally start exercising, which has been on my list of things I want to do for a few years now and which I think I'll need to do first thing to ensure I don't just crash on the couch after he heads to work,  and to spend time reading and/or meditating, none of which I really have much time for in my current day.

So.  The rules. (Rules are very important as once they are written down I can't change them or pretend I had different rules).
  1. The Lenten fast will begin Weds, Feb 17. and will extend until Good Friday, at which time I reserve the right to continue the habits that I've hopefully acquired.
  2. I will get up when my husband gets up - for the purposes of going to work.  
    1. If husband is getting up early to take care of our daughter, this does not apply (the sleep-in day rules apply here)
    2. If we are on vacation, then the rules do not apply.
  3. I will spend at least the first 30-45 mins of my waking day engaged in some sort of physical activity
  4. The second hour of my extra time will be spent doing some quiet activity that does not involve my computer, tv or iphone.  I may listen to a meditative podcast if I choose - but no politics.
So what are you giving up for Lent?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Coming to the blog-side


My husband has finally decided to start blogging. Which is shocking, considering this one moans and groans if I ask him to send an email.

So, head on over to his new place. It's sure to be entertaining and witty :)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

New Favorite Font Collective

I've found my new favorite font place! Its the League of Moveable Type. Its a great collection of free fonts (which can be hard to find sometimes), and a great attitude. Their tagline: "No more bullshit. Join the revolution." Fits right in here at Casa Ball.

Also, did you know that the ampersand (&) symbol was originally written as a combo of the Latin word et (means and). Check out this awesome font project focusing on this interesting symbol. The fonts featured on here, however, don't tend to be free. But - they are pretty!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Found: Library List

Sometimes I find really interesting things in library books, little forgotten moments from someone else's life. So, as I find these interesting little tidbits, I'll share them on here.

I've just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell's latest book Outliers: The Story of Success, which I borrowed from my local library, of course.

I found someone else's list of checked out books and thought it was interesting to see what else they were reading.

They checked out:

Interesting list. Sounds like this person was interested in helping their child make it. I'm wondering if, perhaps, just a wee bit, I too am worried about my daughter being successful. It's a common obsession we Americans tend to have. But, should we instead be concerned with giving more children the chance to succeed (including my own) instead of figuring out how best she can edge out her peers? I'd like to think that I'm in the charitable, egalitarian first group. But as my Little Bit gets older, I find myself falling back into the "let's beat them all" category. And I'm not ok with that.

This book wasn't quite what I expected. Mostly, he completely debunked the fairy tales we tell ourselves about successful people. Outliers, when we take a close look, end up being that way because they were fortunate to be born in the right time (month and year in some cases), to the right kind of parents, and are given the right kind of opportunities. Which all adds up to the conclusion that success in our society really isn't something you have much control over. Kind of depressing. But something I've felt/believed for quite some time.

Lest you think this book is a complete downer, Gladwell actually has several great ideas for ways we can improve our education system to remove inherent biasing as well as overcome the growing distance between american students and their international peers.

His first contention is that birth month does matter. Since we separate out the "gifted" students so early (kindergarten/first grade), the students who are on the older spectrum have quite an advantage over their younger peers as they are more mature (both emotionally and physically) and appear more "gifted" than younger children. He goes through and shows how this is true with pro hockey players in Canada.

We could compensate for this bias by either waiting to separate out gifted track children until there isn't as much developmental difference between a child born in January and a child born in September, which ends up being about 4th or 5th grade (9 - 10 years old). Or, even more intriguing, we could divide up the classes (and gifted testing) into thirds - so all students born between Jan and April in one cohort, May - August in another, and Sept - Dec in a third. That way students are only competing with others who are within 3 months of their own development.

This is quite intriguing to me because my daughter's birthday is on 12/26. The cutoff date for entering kindergarten is 9/1, so she'll be on the older side of her class. I've been talking to various parents to see what they thought as far as trying to get her into school earlier. The advice has been quite unanimous. Don't force it. Wait a year. The overwhelming reason is that this gives her more time to develop intellectually before she has to perform on the required tests. Even though she is curious and delights in learning - the longer we can keep her out of the formal school system the better chance she has of being successful in it. And Gladwell confirmed the anecdotal evidence I'd collected. It's better for your children to be the older ones in their class.

The other suggestion he had that I'd like to see get more attention is to drop the whole notion of summer vacation. It is summer vacation where we see the learning gaps between rich and poor get way out of proportion, mostly because poor children are not given the same opportunities to improve their skills during their time off. I vote to get rid of it. Not just for the learning part. But also because working parents now have to figure out child care (since most of us don't get a nice long 3 month break) which puts unnecessary stress on everyone.

Anyway - I enjoyed Outliers. And when I take it in context with some of the other great books I've been reading lately, has a lot of big ideas on how to change our children's future. And not just my child. Everyone's child.

This feels like this is going to be a theme for me for a bit. Stay tuned for more rambles on this topic.

PS. In other news, the camera repair geniuses have said they can have my camera back to my desperate hands in about 2-3 weeks. I cannot believe how very much I miss my camera. Here's hoping I never have to send my baby off like this again!