Tuesday, September 10, 2013

You Know It's a Bad Day What The House Turns Against You

So, in my house I have a smoke alarm system that it wired through the house. Meaning that if one goes off, that all go off. I have one placed in a small hallway right outside the kitchen that is rather sensitive. And by sensitive I mean caramelizing any kind a meat will send the house into a frenzy. And don't even start me on what happens if I try to fry bacon.

This past weekend, however, has hit a new low. I was boiling water. It was three large pots for corn, eggs, & potatoes ... but still. My house is now completely against me cooking.

I was so confused. Everyone was confused. Where's the fire?

I'm pretty sure the neighbors have pretty much convinced themselves that they're never coming over to eat unless it's take out.

But then it got worse ...

My husband was taking a long hot shower ... and steam filled into our room.

Then the house went basaltic.

I think it's trying to tell me it doesn't like steam.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Updated: Teachers Needed at CCSD

I just wanted to job seekers know that the Clark County School District in Nevada is hiring teachers, about 100 of them. There is a particular high need for special education teachers. They even had a special on our local KNPR news today.

Here is the link for positions available: http://ccsd.net/employees/prospective/opportunities/

Here is the link to KNPR radio news report on the need for special education teachers: http://knpr.org/son/archive/detail2.cfm?SegmentID=10433

Update: 8/20/13

They are still hiring teachers as well as bus drivers and cafeteria workers.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Praise Your Child No Matter What?

The Idea of Constant Praise 

We have long passed the motto of 'suck it up' into an age where everyone gets an award. As parents we are told to praise their every actions, even their fails, as a success. To turn everything into a praise worthy, 'you are awesome' moment. It is often termed as the Power of Praise. Even sport competitions have gotten on the band wagon with everyone getting a trophy, no matter how much effort was actually put into it.

Why Parents do it

As parents, we do this because we love our kids and don't want their feeling hurt. It is heart breaking to see a child cross their arms looking down with teary eyes thinking that they just aren't any good. We worry about their self-esteem; that this could somehow impair their future success. We want to do something! So at a first glance this constant praise and every body wins mentality just seems like such a great idea to help shape a generation of loving, confident citizens.

So, is it actually working? Are our kids better off by smothering them with praise with their every action?

What Psychologist & Researchers Say:

The Bad

In a study presented by the AAAS found that high self-esteem doesn't produce higher grades. However, when a child got good grades it did slightly boost a child's self-esteem. It also found that having high self-assurance doesn't help prevent drinking and smoking but increase the chances. Researchers suggest that instead of focusing on self-esteem to help raise grades, that an emphasis on improving self-control or other methods need to be applied.

Another study has found that undeserved praise can increase anxiety in students over whether someone might find out that it was in fact undeserved. On the opposite side, they have also found that if the student internalize the praise they then tend see no room for improvement there for decreases the amount of effort a student puts into their work.

Student who also predicted that they would do perform better on tests were more likely to feel depressed if they didn't meet their expectations.

Donald Forsyth, at Virginia Commonwealth University, found that students who regularly received self-esteem boosting praise got worse test scores on their finals than those who were told to study harder. 

Robert Hogan, wrote in the Harvard Business Review, that it wasn't high self-esteem that made a good leaders, it was humility.

Self esteem doesn't have a strong link with success, studies show the groups with a constant high level of self-esteem are prison inmates.

The Good

Students with high morale are more likely to bounce back faster from negative life events.

Women and girls are less likely to suffer from an eating disorder.

What should we be doing instead

The goal should be to aim for a medium level of self-esteem.

Concentrate on self control and self-discipline

Studies have shown that short bouts of exercise helped increase high brain functions including self-control.

Researches found that self control makes the difference between someone being successful or going to prison.

According to a NPR report, "The children who struggled with self-control as preschoolers were three times as likely to have problems as young adults. They were more prone to have a criminal record; more likely to be poor or have financial problems; and they were more likely to be single parents." While this study didn't prove that having high self control can prevent this, it did find a high correlation.

Resources/Recommended Reading:

The Effects of Praise on Children's Intrinsic Motivation: A Review and Synthesis

ScienceCentral.com: Feeling Good and Grades

Undeserved Compliments May Harm Kid's Self-Esteem

The Lowdown on High Self-Esteem

Short Bouts of Exercise Boost Self-Esteem

For Kids. Self-Control Factors Into Future Success

Friday, July 19, 2013

Do's & Don'ts of Early Language Development

So what really works to help boost language development? The do's and don't might surprise you.

  • Avoid trying to expose language through TV (especially cartoons) or audio. Yes, this includes Baby Einstein and other similar 'learning programs'. Children learn language through watching lips move in live interactions. So when it comes to language development your kids would get more out of watching the news than any cartoon. 

  • Independent studies show that programs such as Your Baby Can Read and other educational DVD's and flash cards don't actually work. Even when a baby seems to 'know' a word it is actually done through memorization and not by understanding that the individual letters make up a sound and that when placed together form a word.

  • Don't use overly simplified phrases (telegraph speak aka telegraphic speech) such as. "Baby ball? You ball" instead of 'Do you want the ball?'


  • Talk to the child's doctor. Bring up your concerns on the next appointment. He will help steer you in the right direction and refer you to a specialist if necessary.

  • Have your child take the necessary hearing tests. This first one should have been taken before the baby left the hospital and the next at 4 years old (if your 4-year-old doesn't cooperate, don't worry it happens a lot and the tests are redone at 5 and 6 years old).

  • Read to your child regularly.

  • Exposure to language should be live and in person.

  • Narrate what your child is doing. Instead of trying to direct you child's attention try naming what your child is already looking at or playing with. Providing a type of running commentary of what your child is doing will help your child make the connection between what she is doing with words.

  • Use baby talk, also called 'motherese', when talking to your baby. It will help him/her pay attention and learn which words and phrases in particular are important.

Resources and Recommendations:

Speech and Language Development Milestones (has a checklist for language development in children)

Language-Building Tips for Parents 

Early Language Development FAQ

Fact or Fiction? The Top 10 Assumptions About Early Speech and Language Development

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Alternative Borrowing and Investing through Peer to Peer Lending

In today's market many banks are holding back money and the loans they do give out are limited. Even people with good credit find that they have to pay high interest rates, that is if they can get the loan.

Since the start of the recession and housing crisis peer to peer lending, also known as P2P, has grown in popularity. It had gained so much attention, that even the tech giant Google is pairing up with Lending Club, a leading peer to peer lending site.

Now, by no means is P2P considered easy money since there are requirements that need verifying including proof of income.

Lending Club requires a minimum 660 credit score, a credit history over 36 months, a debt to income ratio less than 35%, and a valid bank account.

Prosper, another P2P site, requires the borrower to be a US citizen with a valid social security number, an utility bill in your name, and an active bank account and a credit score of at least 640.

Both sites require the borrower to make an ad on their site for lenders to see. If you are wondering what kind of loans are getting funded, Prosper allows a look at their listings on the 'Invest' tab or click here.

Part of the popularity is that they offer lower interest rates that traditional banks making it a great place to consolidate high interest credit cards.

Now, like anything else think twice before getting any loan. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. The down side to these loans are that they require automatic payments from a bank account. Even after funds are promised by potential investors the loan could still be denied if paper work cannot be verified or you are deemed to high of a risk by underwriters.

On the flip side this is also a new way to invest money that just about any one can join in. One thing I would like to make clear first is that there is some risk of losing money or not making as much as you would have hoped due to defaulting loans. There are ways to guard yourself from large losses by using common sense.

One big issue that I have seen from investors is that they did not make the money that is advertised on the site. After reading a little further you can see where they went wrong. First, do not put all your eggs in one basket. There is a reason why there is low minimum you can invest in single loan ($25). That is so you can diversify your money to different loans in case one defaults and fails to pay up. So spread your money around.

Now handing over money to loans with higher interest rates can potentially earn you a larger return; but that also means you are willing to take a higher risk. Do not invest everything on high interest loans. This is why both sites have a grading system; it's so that a potential lender can evaluate risks. While investing in these high risk loans can potentially make you more money, its safer to spread your money around and invest in safer lower interest rate loans in case of default.

If you are interested in investing to peer to peer lending than start off slow, read all the tips and  recommendations on the site.

Since we are on the topic of peer to peer lending there is also a company called Housing Angels. If you have a lot money lying around and want to not only invest but help someone out than check them out. They help homeowners facing foreclosure by finding investors to buy their houses in short sale and rent the house back to them with an option to buy it back. Since the beginning of this program, people who have had their houses saved have started repurchasing their homes back.

They focus their efforts to the Las Vegas and Phoenix area. So if you are looking to save your home or invest in real estate look into Housing Angels before the tax break for foreclosed homes expires at the end of 2013.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Can Sleep Be the Answer to Parenting Problems?

Many parent eventually reaches a point where they feel they need help. At this point many start with parenting websites and books. But new studies suggest a simple quick fix has again and again solved or greatly improved behavioral and school problems. And that simple fix is: sleep.

I can tell you first hand how much it actually will improve your life. My oldest had always been a difficult sleeper, but after sticking to a strict sleeping schedule I saw major improvements with in a couple of weeks. If you have a strong-willed child this is easier said than done but I promise that if you persist it will be worth it!

My first-born had always been difficult with an over all stubborn personality and had a very bad case of colic to boot. I was never really able to get her on a stable sleep schedule which in turn led to many sleepless nights for myself as well. Eventually her tantrums became a daily occurrence which only got worse once she started full-time kindergarten. She was having a hard time with her school work, homework became a daily battle, and she developed a hair-trigger temper.

Once I was able to get her to sleep (lights out for everyone was the only thing that ended up working) an additional 1 1/2 hours a day to a total sleep time of 12 1/2 hours. In a week all of her bad behavior lessened considerably. In two weeks we were able to get through homework easily and get her back up to grade level quickly. After two months most of the tantrums and issues were gone. Even I have seen improvement in myself with the additional sleep I've been getting.

Here's what the experts have to say:
Research of how much sleep children should get -
There is no magic number for how much sleep is needed since sleep requirements are individual. But here are the general recommended amount.

Newborns: 15-16 hours
1-12 months: 14-15 hours
1-3 years old: 12-14 hours
3-6 years old: 10-12 hours
7-12 years old: 10-11 hours
12-18 years old: 8-9 hours
19+ years old: 7-9 hours

What studies show could be the consequences of not getting enough sleep:
  • inhibit productivity
  • difficulty paying attention
  • reduce the ability to remember information
  • Greater chances of being involved in a car crash
  • Higher BMI due to increase appetite
  • Health problems such as diabetes, heart problems
  • Increase or worsen psychiatric conditions including depression and substance abuse
  • Worsen ADHD symptoms
  • Sleep deprivation can sometimes be mistaken with ADHD
  • While adults become sluggish when sleep deprived, children speed up

What can improve when you get enough sleep
  • Lessen ADHD Symptoms, one study found that symptoms were eliminated in some children
  • Improves your brain power
  • Clearer thinking
  • Helps keep your heart healthy
  • Reduces stress
  • More alert
  • Boost memory
  • Helps protein molecules make repairs in your body

Studies between children that get enough sleep vs those that don't

In 2006, one study observed that children 6-15 years old with sleep problems were more likely to be inattentive, hyperactive, impulsive, and display defiant behaviors.
In one study done by UVA found that sleep deprived children are more likely to snore and toss in bed. Test scores were also worse compared to children who did get enough sleep. The level of impairment in sleep deprived children was comparable to children who had been exposed to lead.

Some scientist believe that sleep apnea as an infant or toddler significantly raised the chances of the child developing ADHD. Additionally, some believe that sleep disorders in young children may be a direct cause of some ADHD cases.

What parents should do:
consistent sleep schedules, even on weekends
keep sleep stealer's out of room (ex. TV, cell phones, computers,)
Finish eating 2-3 hours before bed time
establish a bedtime routine
avoid caffeine close to bedtime
make sleep a priority
talk to the child's pediatrician (under Dr supervision many parents have seen improvements with certain vitamins or a melatonin supplements.)

Conclusion/Personal Thoughts

The lack of sleep can become a vicious cycle. Sleep deprived children can still display symptoms well into the next day which can cause additional sleep problems. One thing that worked for me was the lights out method. This means that all lights, TVs, music players, computers, cell phones, EVERYTHING needs to be turned off and everybody needs to be in bed. If the child cries or complains, it's ok. I personally did not ignore my daughter when she cried but I also didn't turn on any lights or even say anything. I just sat down or laid down with her until she fell asleep. Eventually I was able to get to my bed faster each week.

Honestly, I did get resistance from my husband who was annoyed by it. But after much insistence (aka nagging) I got him on board. The temptation of a TV on in another room was too much for my daughter which caused her to stay up so there really was no room for negotiation.

I hope that this helps <3>
Resources/ Reccomondations:
http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/1690 (Additional links at the end of article)

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Impossible Astronaut Day

Tomorrow just so happens to be April 23, 2013.

No joke.

To many it will just be another day but to Doctor Who fans everywhere it is the day of the Impossible Astronaut!

So break out those sharpies for tomorrow!