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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

freeze that mood!

Ok, on the basis of an inspiring 90 minutes last night, I am ready to (drum roll) endorse a product. As I've mentioned (a lot) I have very high-spirited (what my parents used to call aggravating) kids, who have issues with impulsiveness, self-restraint, and poking, kicking and yelling. Yesterday the Freeze-framer neurofeedback program I orderedarrived and instead of saving it for Hanukah as I'd planned (I have impulsiveness issues too) I installed it and both boys got right into a competition as to who could be most calm. What a concept! Instead of shooting missiles at enemy invaders, they were wrapping a sensor around their fingers which measured the "coherence" of their heart rates as they tried, just by determinedly relaxing, to move the image of a hot air balloon across a field.

What was especially moving for me about all this was watching the learning process in action. At first I saw them trying too hard to be calm -- brows furrowed, teeth gritted -- but when they started to get it right, a soothing bell would sound, and I could see the reinforcement taking place. By the time they got into bed, they looked amazingly peaceful.

We'll see what they choose tonight -- the balloon or enemy invaders, but the endorsement stands. I think Freeze-Framer's distributor, HeartMath, should donate this to middle schools.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

anti-impulsiveness training?

Like many moms I know, I'm distressed about my kids' irresistible attraction to computer games that as far as I can tell quite efficiently train the brain to be impulsive -- by shooting guns, firing missiles, etc. And I've been frustrated by the usual busy/guilty mom's dilemma: is it okay to cave and let them play for an hour (or, sigh, two) if it means I get to read the New York Times? So I've finally hit on an alternative idea, and I promise to file a report later on to let you know if it works. I just shelled out nearly $300 for a neuro-feedback program called Freeze-Framer. It measures the regularity of your heartbeat as you concentrate on getting a hot-air balloon to go over a field and not get knocked down by various low-lying obstacles. I tried my brother's version when he visited from Massachusetts and loved it. I'm planning to give the program as a Hanukah gift to my 11-year-old with a lot of hooplah about how it's a contest of mastering your mind. Time will tell if it's a good investment, but I'm optimistic....

Sunday, November 12, 2006

holiday reading for kids

I am NOT saying this just because she's a great person and dear friend.
Jill Wolfson's new book, Home and Other Big Fat Lies, is terrific. She writes with such perfect pitch and humor about the ADD-addled young heroine, Whitney, and her encounters with loggers and the forest, that both my 8-year-old and 11-year-old and the very mature 11-year-old neighbor were enthralled. Me too. Don't wait for the paperback on this one!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

reason to believe

I'm floating on air today, like a lot of other mommies who are nervously looking to their children's future, seeking some reason for hope.
Just one thing holds me back from breaking out the champagne. Will the Democrat win mean we'll actually get a saner energy policy and some chance of holding back climate change? That truly remains to be seen. A great disappointment for me last night was watching California's Prop. 87, which intended to raise money for alternative fuels, go down in flames. It wasn't just the YES folk being outspent -- they were devastatingly out-messaged. The proposition was characterized as a "gas tax" and a project of "starlets" (that last thanks to the snarky LA Times). Both the LA Times and SF Chronicle recommended a No vote, based partly on the notion that some of the money would go to profit alternative-fuel investments by backers. To put it bluntly, I think it's just stupefyingly wussy to bring up this "conflict of interest" when the oil companies are running federal energy policy.
But for just today -- let's float a little more...

Saturday, November 04, 2006

scarlet begonias

"Once in awhile you get shone the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right."
Doesn't that Grateful Dead line fit bringing up kids? The other afternoon my so-often so-difficult son was sitting at the kitchen table and said, "Mom, the kids in my class were teasing (X) and I told them not to." What seemed like years ago, I'd told him about X's difficulties in life, and was sure, like most things I say, that it went in one ear and out the other. But here was a small, sudden rainbow, reminding me that ideal motherhood is a state of mind -- the more patient and dogged and unattached to immediate results you can be, the more little gifts may come your way....