Sleeping in her own bed

Some of you may know that M, at this age, still sleeps with her mother because her mother encourages it. I have tried many different way to change this behavior without any success. M is the type of child that does not response to normal carrot nor stick approaches. She is smart enough and strong will enough to get her own way, especially with her mother's backing. Finally, Friday, is the first night she managed to sleep the entire night on her own. How? There is one thing that she really loves to do. She is very good at Gymnastics, and she loves it. So I found the leverage. I explained: no matter how skillful a gymnist gets, she is not going to be able to be successful if she cannot even sleep by herself. So if M does not sleep like a real gymnist (by herself), there will be no need for anymore gymnastic classes.

Of course, the next morning became a special celebration. I created a certificate for her, and we talked it up all day. Now we are on the beginning of night number two. Let's see if this last.

7 Years old can learn to Solder

Both M and G headed to their second Summer camp this week. They were too young last year and I have been eager to sign them up to this camp -- it is hard to describe what the camp does -- they make things -- hacker meets artist meet urban geeks. M is actually technically still under the minimum age, but they told me it's ok with them if it is ok with me. Well, a few days into the camp, and G has already "out cool" his Dad. He went geocaching -- something I wanted to take them to but have not done so yet. Today, he casually told me that he made a drawdio. "You made it yourselve?" I asked. "You solder it yourself?" Yes he did. Earlier this year he did helped me stuff components to make our first picaxe controller together, but he watched me as I soldered. He helped with snipping off leads. He said this time, there were instruction on paper and he just followed the diagrams. He did put the chip in backwards he said so they will have to either fix it tomorrow or make a new one.

M also had a great time -- she went fishing first day. Another first for her. I taught her how to light an LED with a button cell and she made several "toys" with LED's with her new skill.


Impromptu Lesson #121

G is doing his usual creative morning activity -- where he is the first to get up, and then quietly working on a project of his own. This morning he created a 2 1/2D landscape of a carnival ride. I noticed he didn't put a title on the piece. So we google up some architectural plans and showed him how a architect usually label the drawing with the project's name etc. By chance the floor plan that I googled up is not for a normal house, but for a dormitory. G noticed it first -- is this for a mansion? he asked. We focused on the bathrooms, which are clearly men's and women's with a lot of stalls inside. So I prompted G to look at the bathrooms and see if he can deduce what kind of building this is. After some back and forth analysis, he figured it out that it is not a home but some sort of an office. Then I pointed out the bedrooms in the plan and decided that it is some sort of boarding school.

Benefits of having the office close to home

There are many benefits of having my office next door to home. Today, G and M came back from camp, yelled "daddy" from the street and I heard them. A short conversation continue before they head into the garage. Feel like a village, except we live in the heart of Boston!


Rock climbing 2011 version

We went rock climbing tonight again. For some reason both M and G were talking about it all week last week. G sound motivated this time. Maybe he will finally get pass the free climb line? Turned out everybody did much better. M went to the top many times, although initially she was a bit reluctant to repel down. G, after a few tries, managed to, yes, reach the top! We were all very pleased. Afterwards G commented that after he got pass the middle difficult part, it was "easier" to get to the top.

The Connection King

At the end of G's informal classroom graduation, the teacher give each student a certificate of achievement. Together with that the teacher highlighted one thing that each child is particularly good at. Some are expected, "funniest", "always first to arrive", "great speller". It is not easy to come up with eighteen things that make each parent proud and somewhat behold to the truth.G's specialty was something of a surprise: he is the "connection king" -- how he always come up with a connection from one story to another, or from one topic to another during class activity. I am not sure the room gets what this means, but I sure do.

And I am extremely proud. One of my heroes explain the importance of being able to make connections in the quote below:

To design something really well you have to get it. You have to really grok what it's all about. It takes a passionate commitment to thoroughly understand something -- chew it up, not just quickly swallow it. Most people don't take the time to do that. Creativity is just connecting things.

When you ask a creative person how they did something, they may feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after awhile. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they've had more experiences or have thought more about their experiences than other people have. Unfortunately, that's too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven't had very diverse experiences. They don't have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions, without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one's understanding of the human experience, the better designs we will have.

That was a wired magazine interview of Steve jobs. The person that brought Apple from near death to being the top of the world.

I have long believe the importance of being able to see connections between things, before I read the Steve Jobs quote. A much earlier quote, from 1989 said it also:

I begin to wonder how many things that I know would suddenly take on new meanings if only I could perceive the connections. I forsee a restless night.

-- Robert Scott Root-Bernstein, Discovery 1989 pg 265.

Therefore I am glad that G is showing this trait now. This will take him many wonderful places.

May Update: Jump Rope, Basketball and falling over

May is always a fun month. Weather turns nicer (eventually) and we get some outdoor playtime. M being her athletic self got really into jump rope. Within a few weeks, she went from barely able to do it to jumping non-stop for 20, 30 jumps, and now she is working on going backwards. She really enjoy doing it -- seems like she spends all her free time jumping room in the house. I wonder if it is the fun part of it that keeps her going? Or the sense of achievement. G being his non athletic self, is moaning about having to take Gymnastics each week. His muscle sore "so much" after his first week back to class. And during class you can tell he is trying his best to not do anything -- that is hard since there are only two of them in the boys section. His teacher is pretty good and like it or not, he is building up some muscles.

One thing that surprised me though -- we went to the park one day and he insisted we bring a ball. We play catch with a kids size soccer ball. Surprisingly, he can catch the ball very well. He said he has been playing that a lot during recess. There is some hope after all.

We are at the end of May and finally I have time, and the weather cooporated. We went to Home Depot to pick up plants and herbs and flowers for the balcony garden. M and G helped me plant all the stuff. Then they play with the water hose, spraying each other until they are both soaked. They so enjoy it.

M is usually a very good sport, but when she is tired she gets cranky. So let's end with a funny moment this evening: We are all watching a silly comedy on netflix. M and I are sitting together under a blanket. We got pretty comfortable and I didn't realized that she was completely leaning on me. I had to get up to do something, and the minute I got up, she "fell over". She cried out "I can't get up!" and it as so funny that I had to laugh. Unfortunately that sent her into a moment of embarrassment and she started crying. Luckily she recovered quickly and we ended the evening in a good note.


Talking about How to Buy A House

That's right. My six years old asked me to explain how to buy a house. "After you buy a house, do you still have to pay money each month?" he asked. He must have heard us talking about monthly budgets. I explained the concept of mortgage, and monthly expenses associated with home ownership. Then he asked "How much is a car?". That leads to a discussion of a "loan". "Mortgage is a type of loan" I said.

Finally, we talked about work. "If you have all the money in the world, would you still need to work so hard?"

The answer: I may not need to work as hard, but I really enjoy what I do. I enjoy making a contribution to the world. Helping people makes me happy. You will not be happy if you do nothing every day.

I hope they understand.

Shower by themselves

Don't know what drove this today. M wanted to shower by herself. With minor supervision she did great. I applied a little subtle peer pressure, and G did the same. Another milestone reached.

Five year old economics

M has an amazingly good grasps of business economics. We drove pass our favorite family restaurant today. I told them that the business is closing. M was disappointed of course. This conversation follows: M: why did they close. Me: they do not make enough money. M: I see lot of people there when we were there! Me: they still done have enough customers. M: I know, we can pay them more money each time. Me: I don't think that will be enough. M: they can charge everyone more money? Me: I don't think people will pay that. M: how about they make all their other restaurants pay their money to this one?

Great biz thinking I'd say.