Attorney, Steve Pradell, our guest on Tuesday's Family Law 101 show, had a lot of practical and helpful advice didn't you think?
Well, we have even more to share! In the FOUR audio clips (all can be found after the jump) learn about:
1. Alaska law and child support, and how it affects PFDs. (1:43)
2. More than half of the cases that come through Alaska's court systems are family law cases - learn more about the judges and the uniquely Alaskan cases seen in our court system. (5:52)
3. What can be done, legally, when one parent is absent from the life of a child? And adopting the child of your significant other. (5:08)
4. What are some of the emerging issues in Alaska family law? - Grandparents as parents, parental consent, etc... (1:47)
"Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world."- Archimedes
Sunday I drove out to Chugiak to make another of my signature “killer deal” Craigslist purchases. But in my six years of living here, I don’t recall ever turning right at the North Birchwood exit, or driving South on the Old Glenn Highway in Chugiak. But, on Sunday, I did, and when I caught a glimpse of what I considered the Ultimate Sledding Hill, (I nicknamed “Sledhillosaurus Rex”), I knew I’d have to make a special trip back to Chugiak and take my sons sledding on the fearsome beast!
The rest of Sunday, and all of Monday morning, I pumped up Sledhillosaurus Rex so much that the boys were crazy about going sledding, they cleaned their room faster and better than Thing One and Thing Two could wreck the joint! I LOVE that kind of leverage!
So, in fulfillment of my promise to them as a reward for good behavior, and cleaning their room, I drove them out to Loretta French Ballfields in Chugiak to take on the beast! The half-hour drive was worth it! You should have seen the looks on their faces! David and Joseph sat in the car, wide-eyed with jaws on the floor, staring at the humongous hill and surrounding bowl of endless sledding opportunities!
“WHOA!!!” they said in synchonicity, “It’s HUGE!”
“Yeah!” I said. “I told you!”
“It’s like, ten times bigger than the hill at Kincaid!” David squealed.
Before I could finish putting the rest of Joseph’s winter gear on, David was already climbing Sledhillosaurus Rex. About a quarter of the way up, I told David to make a practice run because I knew it was steep, and fast.
“Whooohooo!” David shrieked as he rocketed down! “Yeah!” he said as he punched the air Balboa style. “That was wicked!”
Joseph boarded our sled and we launched from nearly the same height. We were only about 30 feet from the base of the hill, but it was plenty steep and fast for the two of us! The snow on the slope was compacted and baked to ice and was more like luge, than sledding. As we neared the base of the run, we slipped sideways, caught the edge of our runner, and flipped.
David went a couple more times down Sledhillosaurus Rex, but was satisfied to only go up half-way (about 50 feet) on his best run. We then moved on to “The Cirque” and the “Bunny Hill” as I nicknamed them.
Joseph had a sledding mishap a couple of days before at our local sledding hill and was still a little “sled-shy”, so the Bunny Hill was plenty big for him, and me. Though Joseph soon got tired of sledding all together, he was content to play with his new friend on the playground equipment. David sledded with newly-made friends on “The Cirque”. Ever the safety-conscious father, I found myself standing watch dividing my eyes between my boys.
When we got to the park, our eyes were bigger than our stomachs for the taste of adrenaline and the taming of Sledhillosaurus Rex. We left the park satiated - content with the runs we made and playing on the equipment. We never did tame Sledhillosaurus Rex. It takes a lot of courage to run a hill like that - and a helmet. Sledhillosaurus Rex is a sledding hill for the boys to grow into, and it is now a legend that will never die.
As parents, we strive to find balance between work and play, yet at times, our children’s negative behavior prevents us from rewarding them with awesome experiences they will love. But, find the lever (or sled) that moves them, and you can rock their world!
When families with children fall apart the legal system will most likely become involved to help sort out the details of divorce, child custody, visitation and support. So how does family law work here in Alaska? What's the first step (and subsequent steps) to take when seeking legal assistance? On this program we're learning about the basics of Alaska Family Law.
IN-STUDIO GUEST: Joining KTD Host Shana Sheehy in the studio to discuss family law is...
RESOURCES FROM THIS PROGRAM:
- Affordable & DIY legal resources - KTD Contributor Jessica Cochran reports on local, affordable legal resources available to families in Alaska. [Full story + links]
- Emancipation 101 - Since 1976 in Alaska youth ages 16 and older are able to gain legal emancipation which allows minors to sign for school and medical procedures, obtain housing through a lease, sue and be sued. Paul Flahive explains how it works.
Tomorrow on Kids These Days! - we learn about the basics of Alaska Family Law as it concerns divorce, custody, child support and more. Steve Pradell, a local attorney who has written a book on the subject joins Shana Sheehy in the studio.
Plus, legal resources available to Alaskans who are in need of advice; we report on the case of minors who seek emancipation; and a new feature "Ask KTD" debuts to discuss helping kids through divorce.
Our 6:30am alarm has not rung yet when I hear a pitter-patter of feet crescendo into our bedroom. Ethan and Kyra giggle as they climb under our covers and arrange themselves on each side of me. They compete to plant the most kisses on my cheeks. Pudgy arms grab my face and ears. Their bodies pressed like cellophane against mine.
Kyra says, “I love you, Mommee.”
Ethan says, “No, I love you Mommee.”
I manage a groan, since I had a productive writing session last night and only got two hours of sleep. But my face is stretched in bliss. What a wonderful way to wake up in this love sandwich, as my husband called it.
After they warm their toes and fingers in my bed, Kyra asks Ethan if he wants some Go-Gurt and the two of them race off to the kitchen. I listen for their return, to pull me out of bed and get them milk or tear open their Go-Gurts or referee a fight, but its day four of Kyra’s Spring Break and my Kindergartener has decided she’s going to give Mommy a break.
I hear her talk gently to Ethan the way I might talk to him, “Jei Jei (Older sister in Chinese) will open for you. Okay, don’t make a mess. Now, let’s go watch some T.V.”
So far, each day progresses in this fashion where Kyra pretends that I’m not home and she is Ethan’s babysitter or teacher. Sometimes, she pokes her head into my office just to inform me that they are travelling the world. They both have a suitcase in their hands and I ask her where they are right now. And she tells me Australia. Sometimes, she has miraculously tamed my son into house chores. They put the silverware away, pick up the toys scattered in the living room, clear off the dining table, tidy up their rooms.
Ethan is, fortunately, completely in love with his sister. He will do anything that she asks. Well, most of the time. With her home, he no longer sits in my lap or cries if I don’t give him 100% of my attention. Of course, they do fight at least a few times a day. But overnight it seems, Kyra has matured. She tells him “sorry” or asks him to say “sorry” to her. She takes great pride in being able to solve problems without needing to trouble me.
This phenomenon occurs even on days that we head into town. In the car, she tells Ethan to play the quiet game. “Okay, whoever is quiet until we get home, gets to play with Mommee’s phone.” If I get sleepy and have to pull to the side of the road, she starts to sing a song. It goes something like this:
Mommee, you are the best. The best. The best.
You are the best in the whole wide world.
I love you. I love you. I love you.
I love you more than anything in the whole wide world.
You are amazing.
You are beautiful.
You are terrific.
You make me soooo happy.
Then, she says, “Okay, Mommee. When you’re tired, I am going to sing you this song. Is it working? Are you awake? Can you drive home now?”
It’s every parent’s dream, right? That one day your kids can take care of you or at least make your life easier? I just had no idea that this dream might come true when my child reached five instead of sixteen!
I don’t think it’s due to any magical parenting skills here, so is this a natural thing that occurs when kids turn five? Has this happened to you?
You've heard her on the show sharing her tips for great family vacations and each weekend we've linked to her Fun Friday posts on AKontheGO. Today KidsTheseDays.org is pleased to introduce a new weekly blog from Erin Kirkland aka AKontheGo Mom! Each Friday she'll be keeping KTD in the know and on the GO with her ideas for family fun in the 49th state.
The first time I wrote about the Iditarod, I received nasty-grams from animal advocate groups citing abuse of sled dogs who, according to these folk, did not want to be hitched to a sled with 17 other canines under the supervision of a human, day after day, until collapsing from exhaustion in Nome, tongues dragging on the frozen tundra. Sheer cruelty, these Lower 48 informants wrote to me.
Still considered a bit green in the ways of Alaska, I tucked away this information until sure I could confirm or deny its relevance. After all, my family, like many others new to mushing-the sport and not mushing- the Hollywood movie, had been a bit surprised by the scrawny creatures we saw our first Iditarod year, looking for all practical purposes as if they could use a good bath, a hot meal, or both. These dogs were going to run all the way to Nome in just over a week? I wanted my fluffy huskies, not these yowling, pooping pups who kept trying to crawl under their trucks. Had I made a terrible mistake?
Nope. It took some on the ground learning on our part to understand both the science and subtle emotionality of dog mushing. It’s more than a man or woman hitching up and driving down a forested trail; it’s trust, respect, and sheer grit on everyone’s part, so finding out what makes a team tick adds meaning to a race that already captures the hearts of millions of Iditarod spectators.
The opportunity to visit a sled dog kennel is full of such moments. Ever heard a pack of 60 or so dogs greet their master? Cacophony, that’s what it is. Tails wag, bodies shiver in anticipation, and voices combine in a joyous shout of “Pick me, pick me!” A good musher is in love with his dogs, and the feeling is mutual. A perfect example is found at the kennel of recent Yukon Quest winner and definite Iditarod contender Dallas Seavey, son of Iditarod legend Mitch Seavey. At the young age of 24, Dallas Seavey opens his home and life to those wanting a glimpse into world of mushing and the hundreds of hours of work required to fashion a successful sled dog team. Through the assistance of local tour operator Candice McDonald’s Salmon Berry Tours Seavey’s kennel near Willow provides guests of all ages the opportunity to experience a team close up, learn about dog care, and ask any question at all of this successful musher.
All this backstory makes attending the Iditarod ReStart in Willow even more exciting. McDonald provides her guests with transportation, VIP passes to the staging area, and a front row seat to watch Seavey and his fellow competitors mush out from the starting line, game faces on. There is, I think, nothing quite like watching a team waiting in the chute for their chance to begin their 1,100-mile journey with the person they trust more than anybody in the world. Each musher takes a moment with his or her dogs, ruffling fur, whispering choice words of encouragement to leaders in these last few moments.
Amidst all the falderal, the ceremony, and even the naysayers, it suddenly becomes clear. The Iditarod isn’t just about completing a race. It’s life and love at its raw, unfettered, wild best. Not always pretty, but ultimately a beautiful slice of Alaska.
Mush on, teams. This family’s behind you all the way.
IN SCOTT MCKIM'S 6th grade applied technology class at Begich Middle School, students are using computers and power tools to build catapults and design buildings. They are learning via the Anchorage School District's new STEM approach to teaching Science Technology Engineering & Math.
KTD Contributor Jessica Cochran spoke with Mr. McKim (who provided these photos of his class hard at work), and with Michael Fenster, the district's STEM curriculum coordinator about how middle school students are making the connections between these four fields through hands-on learning.
This story originally featured on Show 23: Education & the Iditarod.
Mahatma Gandhi led a peaceful revolution against the British Empire’s control over India throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s. Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” It’s one of my favorite quotes, and one I think of often as a father and husband. If I want things to change in my family, I have to lead that change. How can I expect something from my children if I do not possess that thing myself? I have to teach them and lead by example.
With revolutions happening in Egypt, and possibly Libya, I have decided to lead a revolution myself - within me.
So, I begin with a confession: I yell.
My wife hates it and so do I. My Dad yelled, I yell, and more than likely, if I don’t quit yelling, my kids will yell too. They’ll yell when they’re mad. They’ll yell at their kids, and their wives will hate it too. The cycle will continue.
I don’t want that.
I’m always trying to be a good man, but this is one thing that I struggle with A LOT.
Many times a day, I yell at my son Joseph because he’s playing in the bathroom continually flushing the toilet until only the squeaky sounds of desperate hardware trying to do their job can be heard and the toilet bowl is as dry as Death Valley. Or, he’s playing with the soap - filling the dish until the soap bar turns to mush, then he smears it on the mirror, all over the faucet and on his toothbrush. Fun!
Nearly every morning I yell at my son David because he’s running late for school. Since Jorie and I have implemented a behavior system based on earning points for prizes, he’s done much better by “stowing his gear away neatly” in his cubby in the closet. Still, there are days when he can’t find a glove, a hat, or even his coat and in vain he “searches” only to get frozen mid-stride by the hypnotic spell of cartoons, until I yell at him to un-freeze, reminding him of what he’s supposed to be doing.
On their way out the door I’m chasing and barking at them like a Blue Heeler herding sheep. I don’t even know how many times my son has been late for school and gotten tardy slips. It’s partly his fault, but since my wife is driving all the way across town to his school…it’s her fault too. But, since I’m the daddy, and my children (and my wife) are my responsibility, it’s also my fault. Maybe I should yell louder?
Nope. In his book Discipline That Lasts a Lifetime: The Best Gift You Can Give Your Kids, clinical psychologist Dr. Ray Guarendi recommends that we quit yelling all together, and perhaps the best way to do that is to quit, “cold turkey.”
Once we begin to talk softly, our children will listen to us, if only out of curiosity. Chances are, though, the effects will wear off and we will re-enter the vicious cycle which leads to us yelling again with little effect on our children’s listening habits. Dr. Guarendi says, “To get durable listening, speaking quietly is only the first step.” He explains further:
You must provide a reason for your children to listen. In other words, you must make it in their best interest to heed you. How? By backing your quiet request with a quiet statement of the consequences for ignoring you.
- Hazel, please clean your room by 6:00 P.M., or you’ll stay there until it’s spotless.
- Wyatt, don’t squirt your water pistol at the dog, or you’ll lose it for a week.
- Angela, please leave your brother alone, or you’ll sit on the couch for twenty minutes.
To paraphrase an old saying, one deed is worth a thousand decibels. Your consequences are going to do your talking, not your words. Will your kids ignore your quietly conveyed choices? Most likely. But, in time they’ll find out you mean what you softly say. You don’t need volume to be reckoned with. You are willing to act in the event that diplomacy is unsuccessful.
As I think about Dr. Guarendi’s suggestions, it seems that there is a process of steps that must be taken for a parent to succeed. The first step is the realization of the problem: YELLING! The next is the willingness to change. The third is to take action. The fourth, is follow through - Be Consistent!
We all have our ugliness, our issues and baggage. But we’re adults. We have the ability to change the things we don’t like about ourselves. I invite you to begin your own revolution. And, to our little ones, let us all speak softly, yet love them LOUDLY!
EVERY YEAR TEENAGE mushers ages 14 to 17 compete in the Junior Iditarod. The race runs from Knik Lake to Willow Lake over the course of two days allowing the mushers the experience of camping overnight on the trail with their dog teams. Race entrants come from all over the United States and Canada to participate. One of those participants Seiji Takagi is a 14-year old freshman at South Anchorage High School.
He spoke with Kids These Days! before the race last weekend about what it's like to be a teenage musher preparing to run his first Junior Iditarod. Find out how Seiji and the other junior mushers did!
Ishmael Streever from the Alaska Teen Media Institute brings us the story.
This story originally featured on Show 23: Education & the Iditarod.
KidsTheseDays.org is pleased to present this weekly serial from writer, Shirley Kurth Schneider. Shirley and her husband moved to Alaska in 1962 and in 1965 they broke ground on a rustic two-story cabin, located off the grid just outside Fairbanks. It was the same year that they decided to adopt a baby. Adoption: Alaska-style is Shirley's story about becoming a mother in rural 1960's Alaska, excerpted from her memoir-in-progress and presented here in five parts. Read parts 1-4
My pulse echoed in my ears. My chest felt as though it were too tight for all the activity going on inside. Warm moisture dampened the palms of my hands, threatening to interfere with my grasp on the handle of my coffee cup.
If we received a negative answer, I was going to play the innocent, uninformed, repentant role. I intended to convince this person, who held my life in her hands, I had never heard of an adoption regulation in my lifetime. Ever! Surely, if we had made our decision to move into the basement based on lack of knowledge, in ignorance of the rules, the State had to give us an opportunity to correct that mistake. Didn’t they?
In an exaggerated, unhurried manner, the social worker leaned forward to set her dessert plate on the coffee table. Then she leaned back into her chair, holding her coffee cup.
“If this were any other state than Alaska, I would recommend denial of the right to adopt. However, I live in Alaska. I know people live by a different standard. Christopher appears to be a happy child. He shows every sign of meeting the social, physical, and psychological level one would expect to see in a child his age. Therefore, I am going to give my approval to adopt.”
My coffee cup began to shake on the saucer, and I lost control of my breathing pattern. I wanted to ask her to repeat herself. I wanted to hear it again, every syllable, every word, every sentence. The previous seventy-two hours of torment crashed down upon my shoulders. I felt as though I had labored for hours without pause. I could do little more than smile through my tears. I grasped Larry’s hand. Christopher leaned on the edge of the coffee table, and, tipping his head to the side, began to produce one of his affecting belly laughs. He grasped the coffee table and bobbed up and down, giggling at the three of us.
The SS lady continued. “I recommend you provide the child with his own bedroom as soon as possible.”
Before departing, she took the liberty of presenting the basic regulations covering State adoptions, just in case we decided to adopt again. Then she wished us a speedy completion of our dwelling. Someone offered her another cup of coffee. She declined. Someone retrieved her coat from the bedroom and walked her to the door. An offer to drive her back to the office was made and the door was closed behind her.
Larry’s voice was still audible from inside the garage as I began to remove cups and saucers from the living room. I placed the dessert dishes beneath the cover over the sinks, listening for silence. When I was certain they had climbed the crest of the driveway, I scooped Christopher into my arms. We hugged as the two of us danced around the table, across the cheap linoleum covering the cement kitchen floor, under the potholed insulation, onto the braided rug that lay over the army-blanket padding. In exhausted jubilation I tumbled down upon the floor, and we rolled around together.
“You are my son. My son, Christopher,” I said as my kisses messed the soft wave of dark curls covering his forehead. Christopher giggled and uttered indecipherable syllables as he hugged me in return.
That evening, noticing Larry had stretched out on the couch, I walked over and shoved his feet toward the edge, curling my legs beneath me as I sat.
I was feeling testy because I knew we could have saved ourselves the emotional trauma. Not having adopted before was no excuse, and I knew it. This afternoon had proven that although Alaska may not regulate the home-building process in the borough, they were pretty serious about adoptions.
“When we adopt a little girl,” I said in a most challenging manner, “the house needs to be finished. I am not going through this hell again.”
“Okay, Schneider, okay. It wasn’t much fun for me, either. We’ll finish the house before we get him a sister.”
Though I was legitimately angry with Larry, I was also upset with myself. When I had realized the house-building project wasn’t going to be completed in one summer, it would have been wise of me to check State regulations and follow up on them.
I knew Social Services’ probationary period was there to protect the child, possibly even allowing for slip-ups to be mended. I also knew that during that probationary period, a bond was created that could break hearts if severed.
The next afternoon, sitting on the couch with Christopher’s baby-book, I passed my hand over the plastic nametag from the hospital, a copy of his birth announcement, cards extending congratulations, and the record of his baptism. Then I found what I was seeking. I read aloud a portion of the poem I’d clipped from a magazine shortly after we brought him home.
It said: Not of my womb, but of my heart.
March in Alaska is here bringing with it more sunlight, hints of Spring and of course - The Last Great Race which has been inspiring fascination in people of all ages for years. But did you know that the Iditarod also inspires classroom lessons in math, geography, science, reading, technology, history, social studies and the arts? It's true! There's nothing like dogs to get kids all over the world interested in learning.
IN-STUDIO GUESTS: To talk about the educational opportunities provided by the world's biggest sled dog race we invited
• Diane Johnson is the Education Director for the Iditarod Trail Committee.
- Competing in the Junior Iditarod - Every year teenage mushers from all over the US and Canada ages 14-17 compete in the Junior Iditarod. Seiji Takagi, a 14-year old freshman at South Anchorage High School, spoke with Alaska Teen Media Institute's Ishmael Streever for Kids These Days! before the race about what it's like to be a teenage musher preparing to run his first Junior Iditarod! [Full story]
- Teaching STEM in the modern classroom - The Iditarod is being used to creatively educate children all over the world, while here in Alaska contributor Jessica Cochran takes a look at a new way educators are approaching Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) in the modern classroom. (Hint: it involves power tools and marshmallows!) [Full story]
-KTDontheGO: Awesome race viewing - Erin Kirkland, brings us another fun-filled installment of KTDontheGO, this time it's all about when and where to experience the best of the Iditarod with the whole family.
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You'll hear Herb Brambley, the 2010 Target Teacher on the Trail, on tomorrow's program when he'll talk about his Iditarod experience, but we thought we'd introduce him to our listeners ahead of time by sharing some great photos that Herb sent to Kids These Days! As TOTT, Herb visited many schools, played his guitar and sang with students, told kids about his school back in Pennsylvania and blogged about it all as he flew from checkpoint to checkpoint.
Also, check out the below clip in which he describes how he came to be chosen for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
Did you know that the Iditarod inspires classroom lessons in math, science, reading, technology and much more each year? Diane Johnson, Education Director for the Iditarod Trail Committee and Herb Brambley, the 2010 Target Teacher on the Trail, share the lessons of The Last Great Race that are being taught all over the world on tomorrow's program. Plus, a Jr. Iditarod musher gets ready to race; STEM (science, tech, engineering and math) in the schools; the best places to celebrate the start with your family!
Tune in Tuesday, March 1 to KSKA 91.1 FM at 2pm and 7pm to listen to this program. As always, find the entire show plus web exclusives right here on KidsTheseDays.org.
Lately, Ethan refuses to allow the family to play a Wii or PS2 game in peace. Instead of running away as seen in my first blog post, Parenting with Avatars, he now has enough strength to engage the girls in full combat. He clings to my leg as I try to race down Kyra on the Wii Active Sports Obstacle Course. He tackles Kyra and tries to yank the Wii controller out of her death grip.
If I strap the nunchuk onto his leg and teach him what buttons to push on the controller, he gets stage fright. He’s loving his moment in the spotlight, but he has no idea what to do.
Mostly, he throws such a ruckus that we give up our game. I guess I would too if everyone was having fun, except me.
The solution emerged unexpectantly while we helped my sister-in-law Alice get married this past weekend in Washington, D.C. One evening as I put finishing touches on Alice’s wedding program, laughter erupted in the next room. The hardwood floor beneath my feet quaked from a stampede of little feet. I could hear my nephews, nine-year-old Matthew and seven-year-old Jason, chanting, “Go Kyra. Go Ethan.”
Their mother, my sister-in-law Kay, handed me a beer and said, “You’ve got to check this out!”
I was determined to print Alice’s program that night, so I kept saying, “Okay, I’ll be right there.” Finally, Thomas grabbed me by the shoulders and led me away from the laptop, across the kitchen, to the living room where Kyra, Ethan, Jason, and Matthew twisted right and left on the balls of their feet in front of a stage of avatars. It looked like the “walk it out” hip-hop move I had tried to master on the Wii Michael Jackson The Experience, except they had no controllers in their hands.
Kay pointed at the lead dancer, a glamorous red head decked out in a short body hugging dress and gladiator boots, and said, “Kyra picked out that avatar all by herself. I don’t even know how to do that yet.”
“Mommee, look!” Kyra squealed in delight. “I picked a princess.” Stunned, I looked at Thomas and he raised his eyebrows. He had been trying to get her interested in girly stuff from the day she was born. They’ve had intense negotiations where he would ask, “Do you love Daddy?” If her answer was “No” then he would say, “Fine, I’ll get you Princess Jasmine for your birthday.” She’d start crying and saying, “No, don’t say Princess. I want cars and trains only!” He’d tease her with “How about Princess Aurora? Cinderella? Mulan?” She’d throw her arms around him in a state of panic and repeat, “I love you” over and over until he stopped saying her most hated word.
While Kay, Alice, Thomas, and I danced with the kids, I studied this phenomenon: Kinect, a next generation gaming experience that could not only entertain and educate kids spanning two years of age to fifty but also keep them active and inspire confidence to venture beyond their comfort zone.
In seconds, it was clear that everybody was having fun and nobody was getting left out. In minutes, the whole extended family sweated a full workout. In days, I appreciated not having to hunt for missing controllers or buy new ones because the kids got them too sticky. In a week, we had mastered complicated dance moves with Dance Central and with Kinect Adventures! water rafted some of the world’s steepest rapids.
I don’t know how I missed the hype on this controller-free, battery-free, cable-free, motion-sensing, body and voice tracking gadget that rolled out in November 2010. Priced around $150, Kinect seemed affordable enough. Only you also have to own the Xbox to make it work, so now you’re talking about a total of at least $300. And that doesn’t include the cost of the games and the fact that I already owned the Wii and PS2. So, nope, I wasn’t going to purchase the Kinect anytime soon.
But the educational possibilities of this device are certainly mouthwatering. Microsoft announced in December that soon Windows PCs would feature Kinect technology. I couldn’t wait for a Kinect tutor. Virtual futuristic learning for my kids. And for me (shh, don’t tell anyone), designing my own Superhero suit in Tony Stark style.
If you own Kinect, here are some suggestions from Kinect and Your Kids: What Works, What Won’t:
1. Mount the Kinect camera box above your TV, as high as 6 feet if possible.
2. Manually adjust the camera to tilt down a bit.
3. Demarcate the play area somehow to avoid injuries.
If you don’t own a Kinect, does this gaming technology sound appealing?
ON LAST WEEK'S program, Show 21: Dads These Days, a few stay-at-home dads spoke about the up and downs of their everyday lives caring for the kiddos while their partners worked outside the home. After the show aired we heard from someone who wanted to share a perspective from the other side of this arrangement.
In the below clip that we aired during this week's show on School Choice, Go-to-Work mom, Shanna Allen, shares what it's like for her being away from baby during the day.
How fun does this look? It's a snowman slide in South Lake Tahoe, made by a guy named Ricky Reich. It took 80 hours of shoveling, apparently, so good thing it's cold there for at least another month or two.
Every year the Anchorage School District puts on an alternative fair. During this event all the (you guessed it!) alternative programs are featured - from optional schools to charter schools to language immersion. Linda Carlson, Director of Elementary Education for the ASD explains what parents can expect to learn.
Here are two additional clips from this week's show on School Choice. Missy DeRivera, a teacher with the Chugach Homeschool Program, explains how their curriculum's "Standards Based System" works, and how technology is being incorporated into homeschooling.
Both clips are after the jump (to listen click "Read more...")
KidsTheseDays.org is pleased to welcome our newest guest blogger to the site: Chris Paoli. You heard him last week reading an original essay on Show 21: Dads These Days. Once a week Chris will consider the dynamics of being a dynamic man of the house - dad to his children, David, Joseph and Isabella, and husband to his wife, Jorie. For the first post, and by way of introduction, he answers the question posed by the Good Men Project: What was your defining daddy moment?
My defining “Daddy Moment”
As a U.S. Marine, my father was hit with shrapnel in both arms when the Viet Cong mortared a C-130 he was unloading in Viet Nam. Once a contender for the Olympic Boxing team, he lost much of the use of his arms. It wasn’t until many reconstructive surgeries later that he was able to have some semblance of normal use.
My father met my mother at Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego, California where she was stationed as a Coast Guard nurse. They fell in love, ran off to Vegas to get married, created me, then moved back to our family’s farm in Upper Michigan. Over the next six months, fear got the best of my father. He didn’t know what to do for work, or how he would support his new family, and in the ‘70’s, being a Stay-at-Home-Dad wasn’t really an option. So my father did what many guys do when fear gets the best of them. He ran like hell, not because he was a worthless bastard, but because he had lost his self-confidence and the enormity of the situation seemed too great to bear. Still, he ran from the people he loved and he ran from himself. I resented him my whole life for abandoning me.
After an annulment, my mother married the man I call “Dad”. He adopted me and my last name became “Paoli”. Though I knew my Dad wasn’t my biological father, I wasn’t allowed to talk about my father, ask questions, or even mention his name.
Throughout my childhood and teens, I resented my Dad for not living up to my expectations of what I wanted and needed from him. Neither my father, nor my Dad taught me what it meant to be a Man, let alone a good father. So, I left home and joined the Army right after High School graduation. I thought I could figure things out for myself. Besides, I wanted to test myself, and prove that I was “tough”.
I was sent to Bosnia where I spent nine long months questioning myself, learning difficult life-lessons. In the Army, I found the opposite examples of manliness: drinking, the pursuit of women (regardless of marriage status), and aggression. Fortunately, I had been raised Catholic in the Roman Rite, and sought solace in my faith, scripture, and in talking with priests, and other “good” men I was fortunate to come across.
After stumbling over myself for several years, I eventually pieced together my ideal of what makes a good Man and father. However, it wasn’t until I met Jorie, the woman who is now my wife, that my true sense of manliness and fatherhood solidified within me. During our time together I came to appreciate my own Dad by essentially stepping into his shoes. Jorie left David’s biological father for safety reasons when David was 1 year old, and his father eventually moved out of state. By the time we began dating, David was two and a half years old. I knew how it felt to be in David’s situation, because I was in his situation for most of my life. I knew that if anyone understood what this boy needed, it was me. I knew that I could help guide him along a very difficult path, but I wasn’t prepared for how difficult it would be.
After years of phone calls and healing conversations with my own father, I have come to know that God’s grace can turn bitter men into truly good men. Because of this, I have held the belief that David deserves the right to make up his own mind about his father without my own judgments or ideas skewing his perceptions. It is my hope (and prayer) that over time, David’s father will also become a good man, for David’s sake.
David is 7 now, and I have been his “Daddy” for almost 5 years. Our relationship has been good, but also extremely difficult at times. Negotiating the delicate balance of fun, discipline, love, and direction has been a true challenge. More than anything else though, the dynamics of our relationship has helped me understand and come to terms with the relationship I have with my own Dad. I’ve come to understand the obstacles my Dad faced with my mother, also as the parent of an adopted son. I began to empathize with my Dad, and in that empathy I found love and forgiveness.
Today, I am grateful for the Man that stepped up to be my Dad. At times I know he wanted to quit, but he didn’t. I’m thankful that we now have a good relationship. Perhaps his reward may be that his grandchildren fill his heart with goodness and love beyond measure.
Nearly four years after I met David, Jorie gave birth to our son Joseph. I was there with her every step of the way. I wanted to do better than my father did with me. I went to prenatal appointments and ultrasounds. I made sure she took her vitamins, and when it was time to go to the hospital, I was ready. We made arrangements with our Nurse-Midwife for me to help deliver our son Joseph and when it was time for Jorie to “pitch”, I was there to catch. I had Joseph’s head in my hands, and I brought him up to Jorie’s breast. When I cut Joseph’s umbilical cord it was a huge accomplishment for me. I felt like a champion Dad. I didn’t pass out like the nurses thought I would, and holding my little smurf-blue son didn’t phase me one bit. I was there for all of it, conception through birth.
Like many newly knighted fathers, I contemplated the journey my own life has taken as I held my son. I realized that my life had come full-circle. I had kept many promises to myself; that I would be there for my son’s birth, and that I would never leave him, or let him feel alone. I would teach him everything I could and love him for as long as I could breathe. And, no man would ever take my place.
My “Daddy Moment” was not a specific moment in time. It was a gradual revelation that happened sometime after my son was born and I finally realized that I had made peace with my father, my Dad, and most importantly, myself. Through God’s Grace, I came to realize the men I felt had let me down the most, eventually helped me to become the good man, and father I am today.
THERE ARE MANY options for educating kids in the Anchorage area – even within the public school system. Where your kid goes to school affects more than just their education – it affects who their friends are and where you find community. Within the Anchorage School District, 28% of students don’t go to their neighborhood school. They attend a charter school, or a special program within the ASD – language immersion, open optional or Montessori, for example.
KTD Contributor Jessica Cochran spoke with educators and administrators in the Anchorage School District, as well as with Claire Smrekar who studies school choice and communities at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, to learn about the by-products of a rich school choice environment.
This story originally heard on Show 22: School Choice.
KidsTheseDays.org is pleased to present this weekly serial from writer, Shirley Kurth Schneider. Shirley and her husband moved to Alaska in 1962 and in 1965 they broke ground on a rustic two-story cabin, located off the grid just outside Fairbanks. It was the same year that they decided to adopt a baby. Adoption: Alaska-style is Shirley's story about becoming a mother in rural 1960's Alaska, excerpted from her memoir-in-progress and presented here in five parts. Read parts 1, 2 & 3
Somehow, I made it through the afternoon and early evening. When it was time to retrieve Larry from work, I dressed Christopher in his snowsuit and, hugging him tightly, climbed the 16-percent-grade driveway to the car.
Pulling up in front of the building where Larry worked, I waited for him to appear in the doorway. When he slid into the passenger’s seat I shoved the letter at him, scarcely allowing him time to close the door before I began to weep.
“Hush, Shirley. Calm down. Give me time to read this,” he said in a soft, admonishing tone.
But I couldn’t calm down.
“They’re going to want him to have his own bedroom,” I sputtered. “Larry we have to scrub the walls.”
“Don’t worry, Shirley, we will,” Larry said, holding the letter in his hand as he stared out the windshield.
There wasn’t anything else to say. Except for the sound of my sobbing, we rode home in silence. Christopher sat quietly in his car seat between us. Occasionally, he reached out, tugging on one of our parkas, but there was none of his usual baby talk or laughter.
After dinner, Larry and I attempted to clean the walls in the kitchen. We may as well have saved ourselves the effort. It was still too cold to open the windows and therefore unsafe to use a stronger, more toxic cleaning solution, but the Spic and Span cleaner again proved worthless. Hours of scrubbing did little to change the walls’ appearance.
The next day, with my heart in my throat and Christopher in my arms, I arrived at Myrnie’s house. A barrage of words and a stream of tears followed my step over the threshold. She listened patiently as I described our dilemma. Then she encouraged me to use her phone to place a call to the Department of Social Services and schedule a family interview. I took her advice, figuring nothing could be worse than not knowing. I arranged with Social Services to meet their representative at the office and bring her out to our home three days later.
Although it wasn’t worth my effort, I continued to scrub the logs. Keeping myself busy saved me from jumping out of my skin. There was nothing Larry could say to ease my worry. In appeasement, he often joined me at the wall.
Finally, the day arrived. I was relieved when Larry left to collect our guest. However, he hadn’t been gone five minutes before I felt deserted and more afraid. I moved restlessly about the house.
Coffee cups sat on saucers next to the silver tea and coffee service. Damask napkins lay ready and waiting on the kitchen counter, beside a cake piled high with seven-minute frosting. My silver cake server and the forks from the silver chest lay next to the dessert plates. The scene was set.
I dressed Christopher in a short-sleeved white shirt and a pair of black velvet knee-length pants with flower-embroidered shoulder straps. We played “This little piggy went to market” on his toes before I slipped on a pair of white knee socks and his first pair of ankle-high shoes.
When the dogs alerted me to Larry’s return, I grabbed Christopher up into my arms and waited for the two of them to enter the house. With pretended composure, I invited the SS woman to join us in the living room. I put Christopher down to take her coat. Guardedly, while Larry engaged her in conversation, I watched her eyeballs move about in their sockets, giving the place a once-over. After offering her cake and coffee, I joined Larry on the couch.
While she and Larry ate, I watched as Christopher, with broad smile and dark eyes flashing, crawled up to the coffee table. From the moment she walked through the door, he had begun to flirt with her. Now he pulled himself upright and, leaning toward our visitor, laughed in beguiling manner before withdrawing to the security of my embrace.
Unable to bear the suspense any longer, Larry asked.
“Well, what do you think? Are you going to recommend granting permanent adoption?”
Read the final installment - Part 5: The Decision
Shana Sheehy spoke with Mary Meade-Olberding, the supervisor for Anchorage School District's charter schools all about the eight different options available in Anchorage.
Alaska Native Cultural Charter School, K-7
Eagle Academy Charter School, K-6
Family Partnership, K-12
Frontier Charter, K-12
Highland Tech High, 6-12
Rilke Schule German School of Arts and Sciences, K-8
Winterberry Charter, K-8
With all the great school choices available to families in the Anchorage area it can be a daunting task knowing which one is right for your children. We attempted to make the process of choosing a school a little easier by inviting three knowledgeable guest panelists to share information and answer questions.
GUEST PANELISTS: Speaking with KTD Host Shana Sheehy in front of a live audience are three guests.
• Linda Carlson from the Anchorage School District
• Missy DeRivera of Chugach Homeschool
• Sandee Hough of the Alaska Association of Independent Schools.
- How charter schools affect the neighborhood - Where your kid goes to school affects more than just their education - it affects who their friends are and, where you find community. KTD Contributor Jessica Cochran looked at some of the by-products of a rich school choice environment. [Full story]
- Talk Back: the Go-to-Work Mom's POV - After last week's show on Dads These Days aired, listeners wrote in to tell us what they thought about the modern roles of fathers. One local mother shared her perspective on being the Go-to-Work Mom - that other half of the Stay-at-Home Dad trend we explored - so we called her for the mom's POV. Her thoughts top the hour on this show. [Full story]
With all the great school choices available to families in the Anchorage area it can be a daunting task knowing which one is right for your children. We attemped to make the process of choosing a school a little easier by inviting three knowledgeable guest panelists to share information and answer questions. Linda Carlson from the Anchorage School District, Missy DeRivera of Chugach Homeschool and Sandee Hough of the Alaska Association of Independent Schools spoke with host, Shana Sheehy, in front of a live audience at Saturday's New to School Event.
Tune in Tuesday, February 22 to KSKA-FM 91.1 at 2pm or 7pm to join this conversation. As always you'll find the full show posted here along with web extras and further discussion throughout the week!