What should I do with all the crap I want to get rid of?

May 26, 2011

Spring cleaning!  What a joyful time to be reminded of what a lazy hoarder you’ve been!  Maybe that’s just me.  I don’t know.

If you’re facing roomfuls of crap that you need to get rid of, here are some ideas:

  • Electronic waste: The Lower East Side Ecology Center holds electronic recycling events all around NYC (google Electronic waste to find out about events outside of the city), and this spring, you can even get ZipCar driving credit (see the bottom of the electronic recycling events page).
  • Clothes: Drop them off at Uniqlo (546 Broadway between Spring and Prince, 917-237-8811) and drop off clothing to be donated.  They have bright yellow boxes for Japan relief donations. (I would have mentioned clothing donations for midwest tornado and storm victims, but I read reports that what they are running out of space to store all the clothes they received – donate money!)
  • Women’s interview-appropriate apparel – Dress for Success is a very well-respected charity that helps women.
  • Clothing and toiletries – Occasionally, Swishpride, a gay-straight alliance that helps the LGBT community has collection events to gather clothes and toiletries.  I met some representatives from the group when they were collecting for Sylvia’s Place (an emergency shelter for LGBT youth, and worthy charity in it’s own right) one spring Saturday this year and was impressed by their work and energy.  Sign up for their email list to find out more.
  • Clothing and textiles – usable and unusable – see GrowNYC.  They have textile collection at a variety of farmers markets around the NYC area.
  • Everything else – Join a Yahoo Freecycle group (here is the NYC Freecycle Group) and post what you have to offer on a local board (see how others do it to get the hang of it) and before you know it, someone will offer to come pick it up.  Make the arrangements with the person via email, and have your stuff taken away!  I’ve gotten rid of a wide variety of things through Freecycle, and I highly recommend it.

Alert: World Science Festival in NYC June 1-5, 2011

May 24, 2011

New Yorkers!  The World Science Festival is coming up soon!  Check it out.  We went last year and loved it!  Also, if you are into this sort of thing, Maker Faire is in New York at the NY Hall of Science September 17 and 18th of this year.  Mark your calendars and definitely go to this because it is BEYOND AWESOME!

Best show for children?

May 24, 2011

Avatar: The Last Airbender (the TV show, NOT the movie). It was on Nickelodeon, is pretty much in constant re-runs, is out on DVD, and is available for instant streaming on Netflix.  I would say it’s good for children around 7 and up, and grown-ups might like it too (my husband and I both loved it).  There is some violence, as there is a war going on during the series, but there are wonderful lessons about friendship, kindness, choosing peace over violence, listening to your inner voice, working hard, determination, forgiveness, protecting the earth and love.  It really helps to watch it in order, and to make sure you see the entire series (there are three seasons).

I cannot say enough good things about this television show.  In fact, I would like to say thank you to Michael Dante DiMartinoBryan Konietzko, everyone that worked on the project, including Nickelodeon for putting this series out.  I am not exaggerating when I say that I hope my son will carry the lessons of Avatar: The Last Airbender with him for the rest of his life.  Also, as if all that wasn’t enough, there are fabulous chapter books that summarize the series, and are at a reading level of around 6-9.  Here is my review of one of them: Earth Kingdom Chronicles: The Tale of Aang.


Great parenting book?

May 18, 2011

NurtureShockNurtureShock by Po Bronson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nurture Shock was the best parenting book I’ve ever read. Admittedly, I haven’t read many. I don’t tend to like them, but I have read a few. On the cover, there is a quote from Good Morning America which calls the book “The Freakonomics of child rearing…”, with which I completely agree. If you liked the way Freakonomics challenged conventional wisdom (and conservative wisdom – ZING!) with science presented as a fast-paced, quippy narrative, then this book is for you. So, why didn’t I give it five stars? I gave it four stars because I felt there should have been more recommendations, given how many fascinating findings there were. However, I don’t think that recommendations were necessarily the goal the authors had in mind. Overall, I really liked the book, it challenged my way of thinking about children in some ways and reinforced things I believed on my own that are unpopular (such as Baby Einstein videos and “educational programming” for very young children is more than a waste of time, it is BAD).

Here are the brief version of my notes from this book (please don’t let having a list of takeaways discourage you from reading the book, because I think this is a VERY important book for parents to read and the notes below don’t even come close to capturing the most important points of the book):

1. Don’t EVER tell a child he is smart.

2. Praise has to be incredibly specific, and based on the child’s efforts.

3. Kids need more sleep than they usually get. Not having enough sleep messes up everyone’s brains, but in kids, it is exponentially worse.

4. Don’t let the sleep schedule slide on weekends.

5. Take a specific and proactive approach to discussing race with your child. Platitudes such as “everyone is equal” are useless at best. Talk about skin color specifically and how people discriminate based on that and why that, specifically, is wrong.

6. Effective lying demonstrates a specific kind of intelligence. Children often lie just to please their parents.

7. Intelligence testing / testing for gifted programs prior to second grade is completely, utterly useless and is far more likely to identify the wrong children as advanced at early ages.

8. Ignoring the fights between siblings is a really bad idea.

9. If your teenager argues with you, it’s probably a good thing.

10. You can teach a kid to have self control and focus, even at fairly young ages (such as kindergarten). How I wish my son went through the “TOOLS” curriculum they so lovingly discuss in chapter 8.

11. Watching Arthur will most likely cause more aggression in children than watching Power Rangers. Baby Einstein is not just useless, it’s often detrimental to a very young child’s vocabulary development.

12. Having a zero tolerance toward bullying and other acts of aggression is most likely ineffective and can cause some unwanted and unexpected results.

13. Talking to your baby is not as important as reacting appropriately and correctly to his attempts at vocalization.

14. Babies cannot learn language from any sort of recorded medium.

15. I loved learning about the “Hedonic Treadmill” theory, which was explained on page 228 as “… we have to keep working hard just to stay in in the same relative place in society. Even when our situation improves, the sense of achievement is only temporary, because our hedonistic desires and expectations rise at the same rate as our circumstances.” This means “…lottery winners are not any happier, long-term, than non-winners…”

16. Trying to get a child younger than 12 to do a gratitude journal in order to help them realize how lucky they are and how much they have to be thankful for can really freaking bite you in the ass. Don’t do that.

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