April 14th, 2014

Daily Activities Include: school, dentist, egg decorating, sprinkler

Today, the kids both went to school for a full day. I went to the dentist. Bleah. After, I stopped at Starbucks to get a iced soy mocha no whip, because there is a certain point at which coffee with a bunch of stuff in it seems like a really good idea.

With the coffee inside me, it was okay that I got a call saying my niece's ereader needed to be replaced. I understand that accidents happen with children and ereaders are not expensive any more. Also, the niece very kindly called me and thanked me extensively for replacing it, and my sister has committed to a change in the bedtime routine so the kids are not sleeping with electronic devices in the bed.

I suspect that a _lot_ of people, possibly most people who regularly use electronic devices, are at least some of the time falling asleep with them in the bed. May I please, at this point, urge you to consider improving your sleep hygiene by setting up a charger near your bed where you can decide, at an hour you deem appropriate, to plug the device(s) in and commit to falling asleep. End Public Service Exhortation.

Today at school, T. had OT with J. He did Touch Math with S. He did Reading Mastery with E. They had outdoor recess today. He chased around by himself. He had a cheese sandwich with lunch, with R. in the cafeteria. He had an apple for snack in the classroom.

A. did arts and crafts today, making big tagboard letters for her name which she decorated. She also played with trains, and then it was time to clean up and go home.

When they got home, they played on scooters in the driveway and we hooked up the hose and attached it to the elephant sprinkler. T. fell down and skinned his knee. We went to Roche Bros. to get eggs for decorating. When R. got home, he helped them dye the eggs with kits they got from BuildaBear.

_The Power of Habit_, Charles Duhigg (paperback)

Subtitled: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

Don't read it. Don't buy it. Don't borrow it. Don't waste your time.

There are a bunch of really weird and disturbing things about this book, like the chapter about Rosa Parks that focuses on loose ties and doesn't really correctly frame Parks as the activist that she consciously was -- and then interleaves it with stuff about Warren and Saddleback (so, so, so wrong!!!) that ignore the multi-generational preacher aspects of the Warren family. There's a bit about gay rights:

"For example, when gay rights organizations started campaigning against homophobia in the late 1960s, their initial efforts yielded only a string of failures. They pushed to repeal laws used to prosecute gays and were roundly defeated in state legislatures." Conveniently failing to note the successes in municipalities in California that inspired Stonewall, and a variety of legal victories around the same time. "Then, in the early 1970s, the American Library Associations Task Force on Gay Liberation decided to focus on one modest goal: convincing the Library of Congress to reclassify books about the gay liberation movement... the Library of Congress agreed ... the effect was electrifying ... Within a few years, openly gay politicians were running for political office in California, New York, Massachusetts, and Oregon".

So, yay, ALA, but this misrepresents the timeline in so many ways it is hard to know where to begin, much less end.

Like many business writers, Duhigg is a lot more attached to "good stories" than he is to accurately describing reality, which is unfortunate, because we usually learn the most from those points where reality fails to follow the well-trod path of a "good story". Also as is typical of business writers, he tends to find "successes" and then go back and ask them what they did, and then (a) assume their recollections are accurate and (b) because success happened after what they claimed they did, the success was the result of what they did. Two problems there: people often remember the past somewhat if not entirely inaccurately (yes, I always turned my homework in and on time and done carefully!) and are there people who started out the same way but wound up in a much less good place? Un-confirmed anecdotes plus a logical fallacy leads one directly into the self-reinforcing land of We Must Be Good and Moral and Chosen Because We Are Rich and Famous error, a classic of the smugly self-satisfied who firmly implant their fingers in their ears and shout I Can't Hear You! whenever someone tries to say, but I did everything right, how come I'm unemployed and losing my home? Etc.

Also, his advice on habit modification is soooooo bad -- he seems to think AA is really effective. *sigh*

Habits are important. Everything we do, we do on autopilot -- including a lot of how we (re)program our autopilots, which is sort of a problem for people who could use a meta-level habit tune-up. I was really hoping to read a book that developed and expanded upon that idea. This is not that book.

In an ongoing effort to find that book, I am now reading Prochaska et al's _Changing for Good_, mentioned by writers like Miriam Nelson (I like Miriam Nelson's work. It is the good kind of simple.). It has its own problems, but it's way better than Duhigg.

Weirdly, along the way I've stumbled across a bunch of stuff about managing bipolar disorder by stabilizing life routines (mostly Ellen Frank's work developing IPSRT, if you want something to google -- she writes books for clinicians and I'm not necessarily interested enough to read http://www.amazon.com/Treating-Bipolar-Disorder-Individualized-Evidence-Based-ebook/dp/B003TXT08I, but maybe you are). This isn't _instead_ of medication, it's complementary treatment (generally speaking, anyway).

I also picked up Cohen and deBenedet's _The Art of Roughhousing_, which is really great. I mean, _really_ great. Nothing quite like reading a parenting book with lists of What To Do and What Not To Do and nodding as you go along, because everything is familiar -- except, oooh, cool new idea! I'm not done with it yet, and am sort of hoping they get around to talking about kids and martial arts at some point, because the connections are really obvious, at least to me.

Speaking of habits: food

I've been attempting to re-start some old habits that worked well for me in the past; they were deprecated in the name of I Don't Have the Time or Energy for This Right Now (which was true, but isn't true any more). So I've been doing things like increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables I eat (cooking more/eating at home, making sure I keep fresh fruit salad and green salad in the fridge and include one or the other at each meal, and then try to also get some other veg in somewhere), reducing sodium (same batch of ideas), portion control (hey, don't free pour the salad dressing! type of thing, along with a certain amount of, no, you really don't need another waffle, even if it is home made and whole grain. Put it in the freezer), increasing exercise (slowly! Because if there is one thing I can be predicted to do nearly every spring, it's to cause some kind of RSI by doing a whole bunch of stuff I haven't done in 6 months).

Anyway. A while back I debugged Why My Husband's Drinks Are So Strong, so when I opened a bottle of wine, I said to my self, Self, let your Inner Geek Shine. Get that scale out, zero it with the wineglass on it and pour 5 oz. Let's see what that looks like.

Looks like what I thought it should look like, which is about 2/3rds what it looks like when any of my husband's extended family pours a glass of wine (and their glasses are usually larger in volume than ours).

Now Self is saying, hey, let's bring that scale with us next T-weekend/Xmas at the fam's, and show everyone else what 5 oz of wine looks like. I'm trying to cram Self back into a box.

This is what happens when the Inner Geek comes out to play. She doesn't want to stop.

In complete violation of the reducing sodium rule, and partial violation of cooking at home rule, but absolutely aligned with hey, there are leftovers! I took yet another batch of leftover chicken tenders (these two were from Johnny Rockets) and rather than eating them on salad (my usual strategy), I heated them, chopped them up, and cooked them in a pan with some sauteed mushrooms, grape tomatoes, and summer squash, penne pasta (already cooked from a few days ago) and Trader Joe's No Salt Added Tomato Sauce. The breading came off somewhat and thickened up the sauce in a super delicious way that doesn't ever happen when I cook chicken myself (duh, I don't batter and fry my chicken, because if I'm going to do that, I go out to a restaurant and let the people with the fryer do it for me. And I don't own a fryer because I have marginally more sense than self control). R. said it tasted like chicken parm without the parm. Which I wouldn't know about, because milk allergy.

Johnny Rockets nutrition calculator suggests that each piece of chicken (there were two, and I split this with R.) added 420 mg. of sodium. Ouch. OTOH, there wasn't any other sodium added, so right up until I added the garlic bread, I was doing basically okay.