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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Ten Activities That Can Increase Your Kid's Creativity -- Guest Post

Rev Up Your Kid's Creativity with Unique Activities!
When it's time to focus your kids' attention away from video games and texting, parents often struggle with how to interest kids in creative activities. To rev up your kid's creativity, begin by considering your kid's age level, general interests and attention span.
It's important to choose activities that meet with your kid's attention span. For example, the attention span of today’s five year old kids has a duration of about then minutes.
For older children, ages ten to fifteen, they may be able to concentrate for up to one hour without losing interest in the activities you provide. Keep in mind that each kid has a diverse sense of whimsy and fantasy that is all a part of their creative thinking.

1. Making Music is Fun and Creative
For the first activity, parents may want to invest in ear plugs and several musical instruments like tambourines, maracas, castanets, ukuleles and small tambor drums. There is a wealth of creativity to be found for kids who have the chance to "make music." These basic musical instruments help children develop a sense of sound, rhythm and ability to create music that requires "teamwork."

2. After a wild session with musical instruments, parents may want to reverse the frenetic pace by allowing kids to dance to classical music in free form. If parents prefer, they can also teach their kids classic ballroom dance steps. The idea is to allow kids to "feel the music" and to create adaptive movement that is uniquely theirs.

3. There's another creative and fun activity kids will love: creating rhyming words. Parents can give their kid a small picture of a cat or dog, and make a game of finding as many words that rhyme with these words. Older children can write them down. To make it more of a contest, offer a prize to the kid who rhymed the most words.

4. Nothing is more creative or fun than a scavenger hunt. Kids' creative juices spike when parents create a list with five items kids should hunt for. The hunt can be done at home, in a library, museum, outdoors in a park with supervision or in their own room or even their toy box. It's a great way to get children to creatively organize their possessions so they can be found at a future date.

5. Creating a Recipe
Few kids understand how to follow recipes. By allowing kids to create a recipe of their very own, they can see the connections between certain ingredients, preparation, cooking or baking time and serving food to others. For this, parents can use a list of basic ingredients like cookie crumbs blended with cream cheese to make truffles. Provide cocoa or powdered sugar and cookie decorations they can roll the truffles in.

6. Organizing Kids Money
Kids today don't often get a chance to use cold hard cash. It may be a creative learning curve to teach them how to count back change from a dollar or make a game of having them purchase items from your pantry with a specified amount of "play" money.

7. Activities for Autonomy
As kids become more independent, parents need to reinforce the idea of responsibility. Provide activities kids can do without assistance that fits into a general plan.
For example, allow kids input for the next family outing, such as organizing an itinerary for sightseeing and preparing the things for family outings. Older kids can research sights they feel all members of their family want to see. By allowing kids to create a sightseeing itinerary, they develop a sense of timing and also a keen sense of awareness of their family's likes and dislikes.

8. Hands On Creative Activities
Make a game of teaching very young children how to tie their laces. Older children should be exposed to learning how to sew buttons or put labels on their clothing. These are valuable skills they can develop for use in a variety of arts and crafts.

9. Speaking of Arts and Crafts
While kids' fingers grow ever more adept at texting, their fingers need a more creative outlet like crafting their own scrapbooks or learning the creative art of sculpting. Sculpting for kids can begin with ordinary clay or kids’ putty. Provide an idea of a form from a picture or other source and then let their creative juices flow.

10. Who Am I?
There is an artist in every kid. Too often, their art is limited to living room walls. Create a structured format for their "artwork" by allowing them to create free form drawings of themselves on large poster board paper. The result of their self-imagery might be fascinating.

Conclusion

Every kid has a creative urge that needs to be set free. When kids are working hands on instead of allowing hi tech devices to do it all for them, they realize their true inner sense of creativity.




Friday, December 30, 2016

Resolutions 2017

In keeping with tradition, I will make 10 resolutions for myself and 5 with regard to my children and never look at them again until nearly 2018. Here goes nothing.

10) Drink 5 glasses of water a day.

Upping it from 4 even though I've really stopped drinking at all again. This is important. I do this weird thing where I withhold water from myself if I'm feeling like I'm not worthy of it. I need to fight that mentality more than I need the water, but drinking the water will fight that mentality.

9) Go to the gym and/or run consistently 3-4 times a week.

Exercising every day is too big of a goal for me, especially because my brain tells me that doing ten push ups at home most certainly doesn't count, so I don't do it. I also gained about 10 pounds this year because I couldn't exercise because of a neck injury, and I eat like a garbage can, for real.

8) Stop biting my nails

This is like the 4930276849 time I'll be trying this one.

7) Do something actionable and politically motivated every single week.

During 2017, fervor about the state of our country will die down and normalize. You can already see it happening as the activists collectively take a break and a breath for the holiday season. The point is to get back on the horse. To not forget. To prepare for the vote in 2018. That is the goal. 2018 is not long away when you consider that we have to get an entire new system going for the Democrats and figure our shit out while fighting the legislation coming down from this administration tooth and nail.

6) Read 15 books. Journal 250 times.

I managed 11 this year, but the one I'm on now, I've been on since August. When I don't like a book, I draggggg it out. Journaling, too, comes in waves.

5) Make $55,000-$60,000.

This is a stretch for sure. I'd be happy with $50,000.

4) Publish 100 pieces.

I am flagging in terms of writing. I have the assignments, I'm just sitting on them. I have to get back into the groove and do this thing. This will be harder because it appears my best client (after a shift in personnel) may not be using my services as much as they were if at all.

3) Teach at least six classes this year.

I have to not allow my teaching to drop off as I try to increase my writing. I must maintain connections with different colleges and departments at UF and look to other places as well.

2) Publish my thesis.

I've been putting this off and the embargo is up. I really don't want to do this, but I really, really should.

1) Save another $5,000 for each of my kids for their college education.

If my income stays where it is, I can do this. Of course, freelancing is forever a rocky road full of hustle.



For my kids and I, I resolve the following:

5) Get them to stop fighting all the time.

Like, they are stubborn with this. They love to fight with each other and try to get each other in trouble, as if one is vindicated and good if the other one is getting punished. Stop it.

4) Make them do math and reading every day for at least a short while.

When we do this, it's great, but when we have all the time in the world (ie: vacation), we slack off because it's just easier for me not to make them do it. If I were consistent, it would be easier.

3) Get them into an activity other than Capoeira to expand their horizons a bit.

2) Play a game with them every day.

I can do better with this. I can try harder. It's just five minutes.

1) Have them do chores every day.

I slacked with this because it's just easier for me to do them, but the girls get really entitled about it and don't help at all and give attitude when asked to help if I let it go too long.



Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Resolution Check-In: 2016

Each year, I check back on the resolutions I made the previous year to see how well I've done. I only look at these things twice a year. Once when I make them, and once when I check them, 12 months later. It's interesting to see what my goals were and whether or not I made it.



10) Drink four glasses of water a day.

I mostly did this, but slacked off during October and November as the entire world went to shit.

.5

9) Do some form of exercise every day.

I was doing really well with this until summer when I got more work, and then the election happened, and I'm only just now getting back on the train, and it's not everyday, for sure.

0

8) Read and journal every day.

I was rocking this, truly. Then October and November happened. I didn't journal once then, and I didn't read any books. But, the year total is 212 journal entries and 11 books read. That's more than half.

.5

7) Take care of myself in some way every day.

HAHAHAHA

0

6) Stop smoking.

.5

5) Stop biting my nails.

0

4) Make $40,000 this year.

I made $48,000 this year.

1

3) Publish 100 pieces.

Only 65. I slacked because I wasn't prepared for how much work creating online lectures and teaching online and in-person would be.

0

2) Get some sort of big project off the ground.

So, I'm going to give this a point. I'm not sure if I did this right or made any difference, but the push of this resolution was to be open about it, and do something big somehow that moved me out of my comfort zone.

I honestly think the activism I started on November 9th could count here. I'm putting all my resources into it, and trying to bring others along. I'm showing up in person to events and planning meetings. I'm doing more than writing about it. I'm writing to people, calling them, giving all my extra money to it. I think this counts. I know I've certainly never done it before, and God do I wish I had.

1

1) Save $5,000 for each of my kids to start the college fund.

DONE. Amazingly. And I had totally forgotten I'd made this resolution, lol.

1


TOTAL: 4.5 out of 10. Better than usual, actually.




And I make five resolutions specifically with regard to my children each year. This year, I resolve the following:

5) To keep with the scheduling and strike system.

I did a pretty good job with this. We fell out of it sometimes, when we got super busy, but on the whole, we were consistent. I also started us in play therapy to help me more than them so that I didn't get so overwhelmed and we didn't get into a negative attention feedback loop. Things are going pretty strongly here.

1

4) Help them study.

I tried really hard on this. Carlos started helping, too, because it turns out I am just a HORRIBLE elementary school teacher. I make them do homework every day, I sit with them and answer the questions, I give them pep talks and guide them through the work when they're being stubborn. It's been hard, and will continue to be hard.

1

3) Have them read every day.

I did not make them read on the weekends, and I only make them read sporadically on vacation, but every school day, they've been reading. And that's HARD for all of us, actually.

.5

2) Get them to stop competing and fighting so viciously.

Fail. But I have faith for this year.

0

1) Play a game with them every day.

I tried hard on this one, too, but I got busy and playing with them is difficult sometimes because they compete for attention. Still, I managed a more than 50 percent ratio, so I'll give it a .5

.5


3 out of 5. Better than last year, anyway.




Friday, December 23, 2016

Freelancing numbers - year 2

This is my second year of freelancing, and while I did it full-time my first year, this year I ended up taking a teaching position at UF, and taught full-time last semester, so I'm going to show salary with that included and without it. It took up a bunch of my pitching and writing time, but also gave me a steady paycheck that I could (mostly) earn from home. And I get to teach students about journalism and how to do it! For me, this step was worth it.


This year, I made $47,979 total.
I made $19,412 of that from teaching at UF.
Therefore, I made $28,567 writing this year.

Last year, I only wrote, and I made $23,833.

My lowest income month was April: $1,832 
(Interestingly, last year's lowest income month was also April at $735)

My highest income month was February: $7,743. 
(Last year it was July at $4,566)

On average I made $3,998 a month, which is nearly $1,000 a week.
If I take out the teaching salary, I made $2,381 a month, or $595 a week.

Last year I made $1,986 a month or $496.52 a week.

Remember, though, I still have to do my taxes on $30,000 of this.

I'm happy with my professional decisions this year, and I recommend writers taking on a class or two if they have the time.


THE NUMBERS BEHIND THE MONEY:

We'll focus now on just the writing. To get that $30K, I published 65 pieces this year, down from 80 last year.

My highest number published in a month was July with 11 pieces published.
My lowest number in a months was May with 2 pieces published.

On average, I published 5.4 pieces a month, down from 6.7 pieces a month. (remember, even without the teaching money, I made more money writing this year than last, so inch up your pay rates when you can.)


In terms of publications, I published in 24 different places, down from 30 last year, including websites, newspapers and magazines.

The most pieces I published for one place? 23.


The lowest I wrote for was free. I wrote one piece for free this year. Not counting that, $50. I published two pieces for $50.

The highest check for one piece I received this year was for $4,000.

On average, I made $440 a piece, up from $300 last year. (This number skews high because I counted a few reprints and some blogging revenue in my yearly total.) So, let's probably say I made about $350 a piece this year.


THE EFFORT BEHIND THE NUMBERS:

Let's talk pitches, rejections and acceptances. To publish my 65 pieces this year, I sent out 267 pitches this year, down from 329 pitches last year. 

I was rejected outright 96 times. 
I was accepted 80 times (some are still in edits, and some were killed, which brings the published list to 65). 
I was ignored 91 times (which is a silent rejection, obviously).

So, my percentages work out like this:

Accepted: 30% of the time
Rejected: 36% of the time
Ignored: 34% of the time
Total Rejected: 70% of the time.

I was accepted 30 percent of the time. I was rejected 70 percent of the time.

Keep trying! Keep going! We can do this, freelancers. It is possible.


Last year's complete numbers are here.










Thursday, December 8, 2016

Why Does Western Society Not Value the Elderly? -- s post

In traditional societies, elderly relatives are cared for; revered even, despite the fact they can no longer contribute. Yet in our supposedly ‘developed’ western society, we routinely push our elderly parents into poorly run care homes or abandon them to a life of neglect, visited only by paid care workers instead of loving relatives.

Elder Abuse

The media is full of stories of old and vulnerable people being abused in care homes, or neglected by their relatives. The problem is that isn’t always easy to prove deliberate neglect. Hidden cameras help, and if you do secure proof that your elderly relative is being abused, you can use elder abuse attorneys such as Garcia Law to bring the matter to court, but what happens if an old person has nobody to be an advocate for their needs?

Respect the Elderly

Whereas our elders are treated with little respect, in other cultures, it’s a very different story. In Korea, for example, younger members of the family have a duty of care to look after their elderly relatives. In China, this is also the case, and to abandon one’s parents in a nursing home is viewed as deeply dishonorable. In India, too, disrespecting elders is stigmatized by society.
Yet the situation is so very different in the U.S. and Europe, where youth is venerated and the elderly are pushed out to the side-lines of community life. Many experts believe that our treatment of the aged stems from deeply held beliefs about natural aging and death itself. Buddhists celebrate death whereas westerners fear old age and do everything in their power to stay forever young, even to the point of fighting the natural aging process by way of cosmetic surgery. Public figures are torn apart by the media when they are photographed looking ‘old’ and ‘past it’, so they do everything humanly possible to stay looking young.

Growing Old is Part of Life

Growing old is all part of life and being old is not something to be ashamed of. The older generation have plenty to offer society. They have experience, knowledge, and skills the younger generation lack. Older people can provide childcare while younger family members work.  This has many benefits, including saving money and allowing the older generation to impart their knowledge to the younger generation.
From time immemorial, older people have passed down their stories, skills and knowledge. Without such a process, many important things would have been lost forever. In Native American cultures the elders are expected to pass on their learnings to their children and grandchildren. It’s a rite of passage to ensure the younger generation learn from the teachings – and mistakes – of their forebears.

We can all learn from this. Just because our elderly parents have become a burden, it doesn’t mean we should abandon them to their fate. We all have a duty of care to look after older members of society, so next time you walk past your elderly neighbor’s home, call on them to see if they need any groceries or a chat. It’s the right thing to do.



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