Thursday, December 29, 2011

7 Reasons Silence is Important for Kids

So much of our day is impacted by sound and activity. Silence and quiet time are important for both adults and children though. Check out this article as to why silence is important and how to help yourself (and your children) learn to enjoy quiet time.

7 Reasons Silence is Important for Kids from eNanny Source

How do you help your children to unwind and enjoy silence?
Monday, December 19, 2011

A Dad Style End of the Year Letter

When I was a kid my Dad created an “end of the year letter” and sent it to his friends. It was more funny than informative really, and it always made me shake my head in embarrassment. But of course I was a teenager – what wasn’t embarrassing? So if the Wrights were to write an end of the year letter, what would go into it?

- This past year was kind of crazy living space and money-wise. Our house was foreclosed on in April and we moved to a bigger (and cheaper) rent house in March. When we first started living here we thought we’d buy the house in two years (when our credit looked better) but after almost a year of living here we’ve seen the house’s flaws. I think everyone should live in a house for a year before buying it. But now I have to wonder what we’ll do if they put the house back up for sale when our lease is up. I hate moving. With a passion.

- Silas turned one in April (and will turn two next April…crazy). Even with all of my knowledge and experience in child development, this child STILL amazes me every day. It’s like I have this growing sea monkey science project that continues to grow and is playing its own “Choose Your Own Adventure” that I have very little control over. My love for him amazes me. He amazes me. Every day he becomes more of his own little person and it’s so cool. He’s very stubborn (like nobody Mike and I know) and will not do an activity when asked (i.e., “Can you tell me what sound a cow makes?”). He’s not a perform on cue kid. So assessing his language skills is tough but then he hides behind the vacuum and says, “Where did he go?” (also known as let’s play hide and seek). And when this little person comes up to you and kisses you on the lips and walks away, or runs his fingertips over your cheek (tickle), it just makes you smile inside.

- Mike’s going to finish his Associates in Art in 2012 and hopefully go on to the Southwest School of Art BFA program in 2013. His skills at ceramics (which he took as a studio art non-major requirement – ha!) have improved so dramatically over the past year that I’m looking forward to what he learns/accomplishes in this next year. He’s finding his “art style” and is amazing when he sets down to accomplish a project. Now we just have to figure out what to do with these projects…

- The dogs continue to hate the child. Well, let me rephrase – Ivy randomly will allow him to pet her, but usually tries to get him to go away by showing him her teeth. Jasmine tries to protect him and/or runs away while he chases her. Silas chases Jasmine, laughing the whole time, or puts out his lip and cries when Ivy snaps at him. *Sigh* At least they didn’t revert to peeing in the house, that’s what I keep reminding myself of.

- I’m still finishing my Capella University Ph.D. I’m now “ABD” (all but dissertation) and am moving slowly toward gathering my data (studying the development of the environmentalist identity). I’ll get there. Then I’ll enroll in part time classes so I never have to pay back my student loans. But I never said that.

- My parents are still living in MA although there are talks of moving down here when Dad finally retires. My grandfather’s Alzheimer’s continues to progress which causes the whole family stress and emotional strife. I could never put myself in his position and understand what he’s experiencing.

Value every single minute with your family, even if you’re a teenager and find them not cool.

What were your highlights from the last year?

Love and happy end of 2011,
Monday, December 12, 2011

You May Be “Green” If You’re Reading This

If you’re reading this post, you most likely consider yourself at least in small amount an environmentalist. Since you think of your self as pro-environmental does that mean that you perform pro-environmental behaviors (PEBs)? Well, maybe. According to research performed by Whitmarsh and O’Neill (2010), it depends on the behavior and on your specific view of yourself (or identity).

We can think of our identity as having many pieces when it comes to environmentalism – there are specific identities (“I’m a recycler”) and then there’s a general identity (“I’m an environmentalist”). A specific identity is more predictive of a specific behavior, whereas a general environmentalist identity is more predictive of general PEBs. These PEBs can include decreasing domestic energy and water use, decreasing wasteful behaviors, and increasing eco-friendly shopping behaviors (Whitmarsh & O’Neill, 2010).

One would think that if a person values the planet or, say, clean air, that they would more likely perform PEBs (and maybe have a general environmentalist identity) but these authors found that was not the case – values (as assessed by a questionnaire) did not predict PEBs. Being aware of the risks associated with climate change was not a significant predictor of PEBs either (Whitmarsh & O’Neill, 2010). So values and knowledge are not enough to kick humans in the tush regarding the environment.

What else did these authors find? Visible consumption behaviors are more likely (Whitmarsh & O’Neill, 2010) – in plain English that means that people are most likely to change their shopping behaviors in a more eco-friendly way, and they are especially likely to do so when others are watching. Take into account other findings that previous behaviors are important in predicting future environmental behaviors, and there’s some good evidence that you should take your non-enviro friend shopping next time you go and guilt them into buying eco-friendly. They may just do it again (and start thinking of themselves as an environmentalist).

Last but not least, Whitmarsh and O’Neill (2010) tell us that there are certain things in our context (i.e., environment, family, etc.) that constrain or decrease our PEBs even if we have a general environmentalist identity. A lack of available options makes increasing our PEBs difficult. So if you don’t have bike trails or safe bicycle riding areas, you’re not going to reduce carbon emissions by riding your bike to work. If eco-friendly shopping products aren’t available near you, guess what? You’re not going to buy them.


So what does all this mean? The fear-inducing educational campaigns aren’t working folks. Al Gore’s “here comes the sun…to kill us all” stump speeches are getting nods from the people who already have the knowledge, and are getting ignored by those who do not (because he’s a nut job – thank you cognitive dissonance). Rather than guilting or “fearing” people into PEBs, we should start small with offering eco-friendly shopping products to more consumers and increasing the availability of environmentally friendly options in cities. I know you’re probably thinking, “Well it’s too late for that now. We need major change right now.” And to that I say, “I agree. But good luck with that.” Changing minds with a hammer breaks the mind; changing minds with a chisel and small, strategically placed cracks eventually gets the mind to recognize the change (and own it as their own rather than simply conform, i.e., the hammer method). Chisels create identity change. And according to Whitmarsh and O’Neill (2010), identity change is the way to go.

Get To It

How can you start small? How can you encourage others to start that small, strategically placed crack?

Whitmarsh, L., & O’Neill, S. (2010). Green identity, green living? The role of pro-
environmental self-identity in determining consistency across diverse pro-
environmental behaviours. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 30, 305-314.

**The post is the beginning of a series of posts relating to articles I'm reviewing for my dissertation. So not only do I get to learn, so do you! Rockin'!**
Sunday, December 11, 2011

He’s Got the Moves Like Jagger

For the past few months I’ve been working (and feeling constantly behind), feeling like crud, being a horrible wife (it feels like), and observing this super amazing “baby” grow into a Little Boy. You’d think having an extra person (my father-in-law) around would be helpful but in fact it’s more work/frustration because he feels like Silas isn’t his son to parent so he’ll stand there while Silas wants more food (and be in my way when I come to help Silas). But whatever.

Since I’ve been MIA, I haven’t been sharing Little Boy Bites for the past few months. So Silas is 19 months (20 on the 26th) now, and I can understand why everyone says every age is their favorite (but for different reasons). Why does 19 months rock? Well you can see his personality/preferences developing very quickly. He dances by standing stationary and bouncing at the knees, or moving back and forth from his right to left leg. When he gets really excited he spins in circles, stamps his feet, and/or claps while grinning of course. LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” is one of his current foot-stamping favorites. He’s also very interested in people whistling and thus Maroon 5’s “Move Like Jagger” is one of his favs too. While he can’t whistle yet, he loves to “sing” to himself in bed and one of his favorite songs to sing is “Ma” where he repeats “Ma” until the end where he raises his voice and sings “Maaaaa!!!!!!” Singing Ma also requires dancing (side to side only).

One of the most fabulous things about this age is that everything’s so cool. Airplanes. Buses. Lights. The Christmas tree (and all its ornaments). HotWheels and Matchbox cars elicit a “Wow!” when he gets a new one. And the “Wow” is very intense and intentionally formed – super awesome. He loves to lie on the floor and roll them and watch the wheels turn. Petting the dogs is now super cool (“Coo”) too – but sadly they run from him, especially Jasmine (the one he covets the most). And he’s started pouting when they run away – how can you not feel badly for a little boy that only wants to pet the puppy and The Dog Who Needs Klonapin runs away afraid for her life?

Speaking of pouting, emotional development is a big part of Silas’ life right now. Telling him “no” elicits lip quivering, as does raising your voice to get his attention to get him to stop quickly. Loud noises in general kind of freak him out and the lip starts. I tell him, “You’re ok! The X just scared you. Let’s take a deep breath and it’ll be ok.” He learned the other day what “accident” means and how we can respond with kissing a booboo when we have an accident. I never realized how hard it was to explain that to someone – it’s something you need to show (“Hey Mike, can you come kiss my booboo so Silas can see you?”). Once he saw it, he easily replicated it. And I love his kisses. He’ll come up and give me a hug while I’m sitting playing on the floor with him, and will push his lips to your lips if you ask for a kiss. It’s pretty cute.

He’s also learning how to get what he wants. He’s started doing the “come here” motion (with both hands at the same time which is pretty funny) and if that doesn’t work he’ll come take your hand and drag you to where he needs you to be. He’ll also bring you toys and hand them all to you then hug your leg until you sit and play with him. Every once in a while he’ll bring you the remote and dance and sing “Uhlihiah!” (“Olivia”). He loves that pig apparently. While language isn’t 100% his thing yet, he’s repeating things more, even just randomly (so guests beware, .25 per cuss word when he’s awake goes into The Jar – and I pick what cuss words are). I’ll be excited when his language is more consistent so he can tell me what he wants all the time.

Enough extolling my son’s virtues (but damn he’s cute). For the next few months I’ll be posting more Little Boy Bites, but I’ll also be talking about environmentalism research articles (thanks to my love-er-ly dissertation work), and throwing in a few reviews and giveaways here and there. If you have something you want to guest blog about, please email me!