Author: Cara Martens

Myths about Kids – Nurture Shock

Last night, I let the kids stay up later even though it was a school night. And Saturday, I let them play video games a little longer than usual. My two kids were enjoying playing together, judging by all the belly laughs. I could even hear them encouraging each other, instead of the normal teasing and whining. It was so amazing, I didn’t want to be the one to end it. It made me think of a great book that I read called Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. They dedicate a whole chapter to the myth...

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An Epic Adventure

EPIC.  It’s a big word right now, the latest upgrade of “awesome” from years past.  But to me, the word goes even deeper and conjures up larger-than-life characters and adventure from classics like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings. On that note, I’ve been reading about something called the Hero’s Journey with specific steps characters like Luke Skywalker and Frodo Baggins follow on their journey through transformation. The hero starts out in an ordinary world, with limited awareness of the problem and is- Called to an adventure, with increased sensitivity to the situation They are initially reluctant and might even try to refuse But they are encouraged by a mentor and overcome their doubts They move into a special or different world, committed to the mission But then they are tested, discovering both allies and enemies along the way They go through a huge ordeal to help bring about the change they desire Finally, they are transformed and changed themselves, no longer ordinary, and they experience some reward, consequences as well as improvements It’s a storyline with which we all resonate, one that says we all have the ability to grow, that change and redemption are possible. It got me thinking about my own nine year old son, who loves these tales almost as much as I do.  How would something like that play out in his life? ...

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When You Have Great Expectations

All it took was an ice cream cone. When my son first started playing baseball, he was scared to try and hit the ball. He didn’t want to miss. So, we bribed him—and it worked! So of course, you can guess what he said after that first single: “If I get to second base next time, can I get a double scoop?” We laughed but said no. Now that he knew he could do it, the sweet sound of the ball smacking the bat and his feet kicking up dirt as he rounded the bases would be enough. And...

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Why Puzzles are Addictive (and Frustrating)

Know anyone that’s addicted to puzzles? It might be plain old jigsaw puzzles with traditional pieces or even Sudoku or Tangrams. What do they do when they get stuck or run into a problem?  They often physically react, don’t they? They just can’t help themselves—tossing the piece or paper down. Maybe they cover up their eyes, clutch their heads, erase furiously or even walk away for awhile. But if they’re a true puzzle-lover, you know they’ll be back. They might not even be able to sleep until they solve it! That makes me think about what truly causes us to learn—to want to try and figure something out. There needs to be one of two things: 1. a gap in our understanding 2. or a conflict—something that goes against what we believe to be true already So going back to those puzzles—I’ve watched my mom working on them for hours. She gets (and gives) new ones every year at Christmas. She’ll have this piece that just doesn’t seem to fit anywhere or maybe she’s sure that it fits in one specific spot—but it just won’t go. I’ve seen her sit back with a puzzled but intense look on her face too many times to count. And you know what almost always happens next? She grabs the box and studies it, looking back and forth between the piece, what she’s...

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Need a Nap?

Every parent is a working parent.  And a lot of us know sleep is important.  We’ve heard about the different types of sleep cycles that we go through (ideally) several times a night, but did you know that research has shown that there are also natural cycles during the day as well? Unfortunately, most of us are too busy to notice– we just compensate by grabbing a sugary snack or another caffeinated drink to get through the 3 o’clock slump. In a recent book called “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working”, author Tony Schwartz tells about an experiment where researchers watched to see when people naturally want to rest each day.  Guess when it happens?  Can you say, “Siesta”—between 1 and 4 pm every day. If a nap is out of the question, read on for some things you can do to replenish your energy during the day and throughout the week. One of the most memorable things Schwartz says is, “Rather than running like computers at high speeds for long periods, we’re at our best when we pulse rhythmically between expending and regularly renewing energy.” Schwartz points to specific research by Anders Ericsson and his team at Florida State University that found. “Great performers…work more intensely than most of us do but also recover more deeply. Solo practice undertaken with high concentration is especially exhausting, The best violinists...

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