Thinking & Feeling

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole

Thursday, 13 October 2005

Edubuntu is born!

Happy Birthday Edubuntu!

Thanks to Oliver and a handful of other dedicated people Edubuntu's debut release is out today. 13 October 2005. I was so nervous and excited while I was waiting for the final tests to pass before we could issue the release announcement that I made this cake.

This has been a long hard project full of trials and tribulations. Oliver has been a saint. Well done Oliver, you deserve a medal!

Now I am going to bed.

Good night.

Tuesday, 11 October 2005

Quinn's going to big school!

We went to Quinn's Educational Psychologist Evaluation Feedback session today.

We had a very interesting discussion, and I was impressed that the psychologist was happy for us to sit and talk for a full hour - there was no sense for urgency or having to rush or finish up quickly which was nice.

What is also nice is that she explains her evaluation processes wonderfully and goes into the brain and thinking mechanisms used and required for various skills. She also demonstrated how being good in one area does not imply being good in another similar area due to differing areas of the brain being triggered and having to cooperate to achieve the result etc.

Quinn scored on the high end of average/low above average in most areas of his JSAIS test.

He had one area where he scored lower, and that was 'story memory', where he didn't listen to a story well enough to recall details of it afterwards, and/or he would guess or extrapolate what he thought the answer should be.

He was consistently in the above average range for verbal skills and was astonishingly above average in 'Number and quality concepts' and 'Memory for digits'.

She said his overall assessment is above average.

She also highlighted that he was very good at sustaining focus and concentration during a task and was strong on recognising rhyming sounds.

His downfall, which I have noticed at home as well, is not LISTENING carefully. In the school readiness test negative marking is used, and it has skewed his result in this test, because although he has got almost everything right it is not strictly correct because he didn't listen to ALL the instructions. She was clear that it was a case of jumping in before processing the full request rather than not understanding or being able to understand. This was a bit of a concern for me, but she said we can work on this and she doesn't see it as a big or long term problem for him.

She suggested we start him with some kind of music activity as this will fit in well with his strengths, rhyming and numeracy, and will help his rhythm and concentration skills as well.

Interestingly she also gave a long explanation of ADD and ADHD. She explained that as he is above average we can expect him to cope pretty easily at school and achieve well (at least at an average level if not beyond - if he is stimulated and has the drive). She told us to watch out for any under-performance, where the performance doesn't match his potential because that would indicate a problem. This could be a learning disability (which she says she can pretty much rule out already), or an ADD/ADHA issue, or of course a teaching issue.

She says she wouldn't diagnose him as ADD, and some of his attributes are in fact non-ADD, but the not listening to instructions fully and being easily distracted from a given task can be indicators of it. However she believes a certain amount of conditioning (teaching the child to listen through practise and positive feedback), and dietary attention (omega 3 acids etc) can help to improve or alleviate this.

All in all she has recommended that we do send him to school next year, and she expects that he will cope well. She also said she found him to be happy and confident

We will keep practising mazes and stories and listening activities for the rest of this term and hopefully that will help him to tune in and get his short-term memory focused.

I am afraid he may get this problem from me though as I distinctly recall tuning out in class to startle when the teacher said, 'Right get on with it' and I would have no clue as to what we were meant to be doing, and I would always have to ask my friend to tell me what it was we were meant to be doing. :) Hopefully Quinn will have a nice and obliging friend who does listen like I did! ;)

I am getting excited about getting all the school uniforms and what not that he'll need now :)

Sunday, 9 October 2005

Run Common Run

I would never ever have thought that I would even be a runner. I have never liked running and I have never been able to run. I have found it boring pointless, and moreover I just couldn't do it, after 2 blocks I would be a wheezing wreck... so who would guess that it would take a suspected broken toe to turn me into a runner?

My toe is still in pain after catching it on the bed over 3 weeks ago now. I can still not wear my new fancy tackies or most closed shoes and even walking is still vaguely painful, so my usual activities and the V-fit class I was so enjoying went right out of the window, as it involves a lot of jumping, and more importantly balance, and I have to tread cautioiusly on my in-step so as not to get shooting pains up my little toe. Worse is that will going away to Montreal soon my exercise routine will be out the window for 3 weeks over that time anyway, and I really didn;t want to extend that to some 8 weeks. I may have to get a new bigger wardrobe, as winter already took it's toll on my wasitline.

Anyway having found that I could squeeze into my older tackies and walk to fetch the kids from school, I then found I could do a shuffling jog as well (if I took care to plant each step carefully). I then discovered that with this shuffling run (instead of mad uncoordinated 'I am being chased by a werewolf' gallop) I could cover distance and not get tired or lose my breath. This was a revelation for me, and I found I can actually ENJOY running. Throw in my new fancy MP3 player and suddenly I am a runner.

I have been consciously running for 2 weeks now and have been recording my distances.

week 1 total - 27km
week 2 total - 37km

I can run from my house to the Rondebosch common and twice around and back now, that's 7km.

I actually wake up in the morning wanting to go for a run now...I can't believe it, but I like it.

Saturday, 8 October 2005

Bowling for Claremont

Ten Pin bowling has never held much appeal for me. It just seems lame and sleazy, well that's the impression I have got from various American movies I have seen where bowling has been portrayed (think 'the Big Lebowski').

Anyway I have bowled on 2 other occasions, the first time was a work function 5.5 years ago. Quinn was with me as 3-4 months old, and I guess I can blame lack of experience and being distracted (as well as not too interested) on my shocking performance... in any event I did dismally badly. So badly in fact that I walked away with a certificate for being 'Gutter Queen' aka The lamest of the lame! Oh the same of it!

Last year we had a work (different company) team building event where bowling would yet again feature. Thankfully this time I had some experience even though it was bad, and we were playing in teams, and I had a good team. I turned out to perfomr 3rd out of our team of 4 - so I wasn;t the worst, and our team one thanks to one VERY good bowler in our team. Woo Hoo. Suddenly bowling didn't seem so sucky!

Then a few week-ends ago my friend suggested we all go bowling (3 couples). I was not thrilled at the idea, but agreed to go anyway...What can I say it was actually F.U.N.

We started the evening with a sushi dinner followed by a few drinks - this may have helped... we then went to collect our bowling 'clown shoes' - why are bowling shoes so disgustingly ugly???

There were 3 couples. The guys started off way ahead of the girls. The other 2 girls were actually embarrsingly bad - like my first attempt, but somehow I managed to be consistently ok. Not bad and not brilliant, but I knocked some pins down with each throw - whereas the guys would either get gutter-balls or good hits.

Somehow I slowly but surely crept up and in the final frame I WON by getting to 100 with my last ball. I couldn't believe it. from Gutter Queen Loser to winner in just 3 easy steps ;)

I still don't think I would bother with bowling more than once a year or so, but now I can see that is is kinda fun!

Friday, 7 October 2005

Evidently Fear will not be a Factor for me.

The kids and I really enjoy watching Fear Factor. It was Quinn's favourite TV progam since he was about 4 years old. We often sit and watch it together and marvel at the stunt the contestant have to perfom and the revolting things they often have to eat too.

Although in the American version of the show, it seems contestants are selected largely on looks (and possibly hydraulic apendages too), here is SA it seem appearance is not a selection criterion because on the spur of the moment I entered for the next local version due to be filmed soon, and would you believe I was selected!??

I am not certain how well I would do because although I am not actually scared of anything, and would have no problem with heights and balancing etc etc I am not hugely strong, especially in my upper body, and this is often really required, and I can not even begin to imagine eating a normal meal the size of some of the things they need to guzzle in like 2 minutes flat!

I guess luckilly for me my trip to Montreal of Ubuntu falls the exact week the Fear Factor filming is scheduled so I had to decline the opportunity to be a contestant.

Now I will never know what it's like.....

Wednesday, 5 October 2005

Running on MP3

My friend Beryl has got quite into racing, mountain bike, running and triathlons etc. I thought I wouldn't be interested at all, but have found myself keen to run recently. I can see myself doing a 10km race at some point. I have run about 50km in the last 11 days (got an MP3 player which helps).
Ironically I injured (broke?) my little toe 2.5 weeks ago, so haven't been able to do the usual gym classes I do, but I found I could do a shuffle run if I was careful and then found I actually can run if I pace myself. I now got to the common and run around (2.5kms a lap) twice and then back, and I actually like it :)

I am off to Montreal in 3 weeks for the next developer summit. 2,5 weeks. I was going to miss Griff's birthday, but I moaned enough and now I am coming back early so I don't miss it. I am glad because 3 weeks would have been far too much.

Tuesday, 4 October 2005

Arty Farty

I have uploaded some pictures of the boy's artwork, if you'd like to take a look. It was done over the past 6 months or so.

One of Quinn's artworks.

Griffin's work tends to be still quite primitive, but he is improving since having his physio sessions. He generally enjoys painting more than drawing as he doesn't have to press so hard which is still a bit difficult for him, but he is starting to get more adventurous now. He is also starting to show an interest in Quinn's work, so I will give him a chance to try what Quinn does if he wants to. We have also been focusing on letting Griffin do things that we were just doing before, because they were hard for him, like squeezing a peppermint out of a wrapper etc. He is also talking a lot recently, and comes out with some quite complex ideas and grammar. being able to express himself well as seemed to reduce his level of frustration in general.

Quinn is doing very well and can now colour well, inside the lines. He is also doing plus and minus sums (or 'mathematics' as he corrects me), I have given him all sorts of combinations under 10 and he is able to do them correctly (e.g. 2+5, 5+4, 7-3, 10-6 etc as well as 1+2+1, 1+1+1-1+1 and 10-5+2 etc.) He can also sound out words to read them and can do most short (up to 5 letter) words quite easily.

Quinn spoke to a little girl over the week-end who is in grade 1 this year. He asked her about what they do in grade 1, and if it is hard, and I think he feels less daunted since talking to her as he knew all the stuff she told him about. I have discovered that Quinn's teacher has
(hopefully inadvertently) scared him about the difficulty and sternness of 'big' school. He recently out of the blue said he didn't want to go next year. When I questioned him about it he said he thought school would be very hard and the teacher wouldn't help you. When I explained
what it was really like he was keen to go again, and after talking to the girl is quite excited. he is very much looking forward to being able to do team sports too.

Monday, 3 October 2005

Quinn the lateral thinker

Quinn loves to dismantle stuff. He loves 'breaking' stuff. If we get something new he loves cutting up and dismantling the packaging. And I also find broken toys all the time. I once got him something new (he must have been about 3yo) after 10 minutes he asked me if he could 'break it'. I was quite shocked and offended initially, and then I realised he actually wanted to take it
apart to understand it. I wasn't just to destroy it....

He is incredible with lego. My thinking is quite linear and rational so I used to make detailed and realistic house, cars etc with lego, whereas Quinn is able to be completely lateral and use all dimensions, he makes incredible space ships, birds and monsters etc etc but often the finished product has the lego pieces facing upside down or side ways, so he is not constrained byt he pieces needing to be built from the bottom up and facing the right way. I am quite impressed by this as I battle to
be really creative and break out of my self-imposed boundaries.

I'll try to remeber to take some photos of these creations (now that I have a non-broken camera, that can u/l to my laptop easily) ;)

Sunday, 2 October 2005

The Kids

I have 2 boys Quinn who is 5.5 and Griffin who will be 4 in 6 weeks.

I have no focused on accelerating my children accedemically at all, nor have I assumed they have any gifted abilities, but take my cue purely from them and what they are interested in.

Quinn tends to be very inquiring and wants to understand and rationalise and intellectualise things, whereas Griffin is more artistic and emotionally in tune. He is also more of a performer and likes to charm people. I find them to be quite different.

Quinn is a thinker. He ponder things and then comes out with statements such as ' I know why Father Christmas comes down the chimney... because if he opened any of the doors our alarm would go off'.

I have freckles, and Griffin now has a smattering of them over his nose.
Quinn declared that Griffin had got them from me. I was impressed and told him he was right. he though for a moment and then said, ' So does he get them from when he kisses you sometimes?' ;)

Quinn does a 500 piece Dinosaur puzzle. He could do it unassisted, but we sometimes sit and work on it together. We finish it over several days. If I am stumped by a piece I give it to him, and he'll know where it goes.

He learned to ride his bicycle without training wheels this week-end. Even though he was lagging badly and would hardly ride it with the training wheels - because if it leaned even slightly he would refuse to ride it. We took the trainers off, and gave him a few supported runs and he was off. :)

Quinn also tells the time of a digital or analogue clock. I taught him this at about 3 years old, and have not been able to con him that it was bed time earlier than it actually was since ;) (I have considered setting the clock forward at times) LOL.

I have also been doing 'work' with him in a little note book recently. We have been tracing patterns and letters and drawing pictures starting with various letters etc. I was not sure if they had done any number work at school yet, so I asked him if they do 'sums'. He wanted to know what that meant so I explained '1+1, 3+2 etc'. He sighed and said, ' That's not SUMS it's MATHEMATICS!'

Griffin after seeing a TV show last night about baby elephants that were burned in a fire, asked if he could chose one of those baby elephants to be his pet.

He loves animals of any kind, including bug and worms etc. He will rescue a beetle from the pool and carry it around gently for hours.

Griffin also told me on the week-end that, his mind decided that he wasn't going to swim. So he simply couldn't.

We are battling a bit with Quinn's school as they want him to stay in Grade R (0/K) next year, and we want to move him up to Grade 1 as he turns 6. His teacher has conceded that academically, intellectually and socially he is ready. Her only reason for wanting to keep him back is that he is young, and a bit playful. She has even admitted that he would cope if he went, the difference would be if he waited another full year he could be TOP of the class...

Would it be worth keeping a child out of school (until 7) and enriching them with a broader scope in that year to allow them to be a top achiever in school? Also if you are ready now, but kept back a full year would it make school super boring (even if easy) once you get there? Where the challenge?

I don't enjoy tasks I find super easy, and once a job becomes too easy for me I tend to start job hunting for something that will stimulate me and allow me to learn again....

I took him for a lengthy and detailed assessment with an educational psychologist who said he is ready. We are still awaiting her detailed report back so we can see how he was assessed and evaluated but so far it seem he will start Grade 1 next year.

Griffin has had to have some physio and speech therapy to sort out a low muscle tone issue which was affecting his self-confidence. He is now progressing smoothly that he is not finding task difficult and awkward.