Friday, May 2, 2014

What would this Genie grant?

I love collecting oil lamps.  I have them from all over the world - Jerusalem, Mount St. Michelle, Lancaster Pennsylvania, Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco (and no, it is not made of chocolate) etc.  Some of my lamps are useful, especially in a black out, but most are just pretty to admire.  There is even a story of a lamp that most of us have heard of.  A magic lamp that when rubbed, grants three wishes to his master.  When it comes to Genealogy, we are all the genies, but we don't grant wishes, we give service.

Genealogy service comes in three different ways.  First we research our history so that we can know how and with whom we are connected to.  This is often called "finding our roots".  The second way we serve is by sharing the stories of our ancestors and ourselves with our 'currently alive family'.  Our ancestors have a wealthy understanding of what it takes to survive, to build a great country, to sacrifice to bring forth the next generation.  Many of the same concerns we struggle with now, they did then - how to put food on the table, how to connect with cute but obnoxious teenagers, how to handle adversity.  The details of the concerns may be different, but the strength and faith are the same.  It is just as important for us to record our story for our current and future family.  I call this "finding our leaves".  The third way we serve is by going to the temple and doing the ordinance work for our ancestors.  I have a strong conviction that we are "on the same team" as our ancestors are and each of us were given a job/chore that reflected our talents, abilities, and availabilities.  If we are on this earth at this time, one of our assignments is to do our genealogy/family history.  There is no one on this Earth whose family history is "finished".  That is just not the nature of genealogy/family history.  New records are being discovered, indexed and made available all the time.  New history is being made all the time.  New family is being made all the time.  Even if your family history was "as complete as it could possibly be" 10 years ago, it is not now.  Many events have happened in the last 10 years, many records made available, and there are those who are now available to have their work done who 10 years ago were not yet eligible.  For example, my Grandma West collected information about her siblings.  She passed on about the same time as her siblings and their work remained undone.  I have been able to recently go and do the work for my great aunt Gertrude and her husband.  She and her husband had no children.  I was able to finish researching her work and when I found that their temple work had not been done for them, I requested their names to do their work.  This is not work that could have been done earlier, even if my Grandma West had "finished the genealogy work for our family".

Our biggest reason to come to Earth is to become more like Jesus and Heavenly Father.  We can only do that when we are willing to sacrifice ourselves in the same ways that they have.  When we are willing to put our selfish desires, our insecurities, our free time on to the altar.  When we are willing to let the Salvation of our brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents, and their children and spouses ahead of our selfish desires.  When we are willing to do the work and not let the 'cup pass from us', that is when we become more like the Savior.  That is when we are living to the measure of our creation because certainly our Heavenly Father would not send in his weakest team to clean up the loose ends.  He does not send us down without a life line to connect us up to resources he has made available.  He kept us until this time when he has let loose the records of the world so that even a busy mother of 6 can squeeze in time on a daily basis to search records that are hundreds of miles away from her home.  I have been able to down load census records, marriage records, journals, pictures of ancestors, pictures of headstones, even search grave yards for additional family members that were as of yet unaccounted for.

Often stories of magic genies granting wishes come with the realization that even when you are given what you think you want, it has down sides you did not know about.  Conversely, with genealogy it has upsides that you do not yet know about.  From personal experience as a person who has enjoyed temple service through out my life, it is a totally different experience when you have researched someone, know their family-your family, and have gone through the appropriate process to make sure that their work needs to be done (and has not already been done by someone else).  It is an amazing spiritual experience; one that changes you/your family for the better.  It is a wonderful feeling to have to unite families back together.  This work will unlock the windows of heaven and you will have blessing to much to receive.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Some of my best ideas I get when I am talking with my kids...

Tonight I was talking with Anna and our conversation turned to sincerely complimenting others.  Out of the blue I suggested to her what a wonderful opportunity it would be to build up our friends if before we got together with them, we thought to ourselves of 2-3 qualities that we admire about them.  Once we are with them, we could find ways to compliment them about the qualities we admire and respect about them.  After I shared this idea, I just thought about what a wonderful effect it could have on others as well as ourselves.

I don't claim ideas that come this way.  When I am surprised by the good idea and learn from the good ideas that come out of my mouth, I always feel that they are from God through his Holy Spirit.  This was one of those ideas.  How blessed I am.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Santa Is Gone

Santa is gone;
all the gifts unwrapped.
It is time for the New Year ...
to be mapped.

As we make our plans
may we remember and pray,
"To our dear Lord",
and follow His Way.

When trials come,
and they surely will.
Let us remember their purpose-
His Peace to feel.

Like a warm slice of bread
that needs some butter-
may we remember Christ
and Love One Another.
             -Kristina Park 2013

I wrote this yesterday as I lay snuggling in bed with my 4 year old son.  He was cold and tired (and had not been feeling well) so I snuggled to warm him up and hopefully to get him to fall back asleep.  As I lay there I thought of how I will miss Christmas, but I was glad to see the commercial side of Christmas gone.  I am thrilled with how this poem turned out.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Article about giving presentations and how to handle Q & A. I put it into bullet points to make it easier for me to read.

Arizona Republic 05/29/2013, Page CL01

 Get the Q&A session right. 
After a presentation, speaker should keep engaging  audience

By Anita Bruzzese Gannett

 You’ve just finished your big presentation and take a quiet breath of relief.  Not so fast.  A critical part of your presentation is about to take place. And if you’re not careful, it could spin out of control and undo all your hard work.  That’s because it’s now time for the question-and-answer period.
 Many speakers believe that once they’ve gone through their PowerPoint, they’re off the hook. They can answer a few simple questions and head for the exit.

 But speakers can make many mistakes when starting their question-and-answer session, says Ben Decker, an executive at Decker Communications. Some mistakes and reminders:
  1. Don't respond, “That’s a good question!” when an audience member makes a query. “That’s a bad habit,” Decker says. “It’s just a filler while they try to think of something to say, or they’re trying to give a pat on the back to the person who asked it. But that can alienate the other audience members when you don’t say the same thing to them when they ask a question.”
  2. Speakers should not be afraid to pause before answering a question to gather their thoughts, he says. At the same time, they should think about how to link answers to a main point made in the presentation. “Question-and-answer sessions are as much of the communication experience as the presentation or speech,” Decker says. “It could be even the most important part in order to get buy-in.”
  3. Another problem: A speaker may try to back away from a confrontational questioner or deny what is being said, says Nick Morgan, founder of Public Words.  Instead, a speaker should move and stand next to the questioner, facing the same direction. This strategy maintains your authority but calms down the questioner because “they really are looking for recognition,” he says. “Then, instead of rejecting what they’re saying, reflect it. Say something like, ‘What I hear you saying is that you’re upset by my proposal because you feel I’ve left out the shepherds and the sheep. Is that fair?’ ” Morgan says.  This helps gain the person’s agreement, he says. “Then, you can say something like, ‘I appreciate your point of view. In fact, you remind me of a story. ...’ and then you gradually change the subject by taking it in a direction that you want to go in,” Morgan says.
  4. Decker agrees that you never should argue with someone in the audience. He recommends having a half-dozen stories at the ready to use to evoke emotion and help connect you with the audience.
  5. When a question is off topic or too elementary, a speaker needs to respond with something like, “Can we take that offline? That’s really not on topic for our group time together, but I’d be happy to chat with you afterward,” Morgan says.
  6. The question-and-answer session should not be viewed as something to just get through at the end of a presentation, Decker says. It’s an opportunity to hammer home points and connect with your audience.
  7. One key to that connection is making sure you look directly at the questioner when the query is being made, then direct the answer to the audience to make them feel included, he says.
  8. Morgan advises speakers not to panic if they don’t immediately get a question. “Be prepared to wait a full 6 seconds,” he says. “That’s how long it can take before someone responds. But it won’t take any longer than that. If you don’t wait, you send out a signal to your audience that you don’t really want to hear from them, and they will abide by that signal.”
  9. ‘‘Question-and-answer sessions are as much of the communication experience as the presentation or speech.”
Executive at Decker Communications

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Is it just tantrums or a developmental disorder?

I read this article and thought it really expressed the differences between tantrums and melt downs (behavior from a child who is not developmentally able to communicate needs).  These are not my own ideas, however I agree with them. - Kristina

8 Signs It’s More Than a Discipline Problem

Is it just tantrums or a developmental disorder?

bcjenniferjeannepatterson Jennifer Jeanne Patterson |
For years, friends, family and professionals told Lucy Pritzker her young son, who was prone to meltdowns, was simply willful. “He’s manipulating you,” they said.
“But it wasn’t about our parenting. It didn’t make sense,” Pritzker said. “I knew him on a level other people didn’t. He’s a good boy. His meltdowns weren’t about him getting his way. He’d be so apologetic afterwards. You could see the pain he was putting himself through because he felt so badly about his behavior.”
Turns out Pritzker was right. Now, at age 11, her son has been diagnosed with a nonverbal learning disability as well as PDD-NOS, an autism spectrum disorder.
According to the CDC, 17% of children have a developmental or behavioral disability – and less than 50% are identified as having a challenge before they’re old enough to start school. Frequently, parents tune in before pediatricians do. So how do you know if your child’s behavior stems from a discipline problem or a developmental delay?
“All tantrums have a communicative intent,” says Michelle Suarez, MS, ED, founder of Kaleidoscope Interactive, which offers families therapeutic intervention and behavioral support. “The key is to understand the whys.”
Clinical psychologist Dr. Matthew Cruger of The Child Mind Institute in New York City agrees.
“Parents need to ask, ‘Is their child misbehaving because their child is a child, with limited experience understanding why their parents are setting developmentally appropriate rules? Is their child simply trying to get his or her way?’,” Dr. Cruger said. “Or is their child experiencing some kind of anxiety because they are pushed to do something they would prefer to avoid? These can be typical reasons why a tantrum occurs.”
Here are some questions you can ask yourself during a temper tantrum to help determine whether it’s manipulative or potentially a developmental issue.
1. You don’t understand the cause of the tantrum.
Manipulative: Your child pitches a fit when you say, “No, I will not buy you a toy.”
Atypical development: Your child cannot explain why he is upset – and you can’t figure it out. “Parents become in tune with their child’s reactions. You know when your child is fussy and upset, that they are tired,” said Dr. Cruger. “But if you are uncertain about or unable to predict your child’s reactions to stimuli, that may be a sign that something is amiss.”
2. Bribes or positive reinforcements don’t work.
Manipulative: Before you enter a grocery store, you say to your child, “You can have a lollipop if you behave.” And she behaves.
Atypical development: If/then statements often don’t work. “With young children, you can have an incentive for them to focus on to guide their behavior,” Dr. Cruger said. “But for children with atypical development, a trigger – like the proximity of strangers or too loud noise – might disrupt their ability to keep that cue in the forefront of their minds.”
3. You can’t stop the tantrum.
Manipulative: Your child hollers for a toy. You give in and buy it – and the tantrum stops.
Atypical development: You give in and buy it – and the tantrum keeps going. “Some kids get so emotionally aroused that the situation transitions from the toy to needing help calming down,” Dr. Cruger said. “Others tantrum for a long time because they have difficulty controlling their impulses or reactions – which would enable them to calm down and manage their response.”
4. Your child doesn’t feel satisfaction after the tantrum.
Manipulative: Your child is happy with the result of her tantrum. She got her toy.
Atypical development: Your child is exhausted from the tantrum. And may no longer want the toy. “One of the markers of atypical development is how rigidly a child wants to hold onto a set routine for doing things in order for them to feel calm,” Dr. Cruger said.
5. Your child can’t calm herself down when upset.
Manipulative: Your child knows to find mom or dad to feel better. And does.
Atypical development: Your child throws a bike. “One of your jobs as a parent is to teach your children how to soothe themselves,” Dr. Cruger said. “Atypically developing children may have a hard time regulating their reactions based on the direction of their parents because on a brain basis, they are not tuned in to social relationships the same way.”
6. You notice your child’s environment triggers the tantrums.
Manipulative: Your child screams and kicks to try to get you to comply to a request.
Atypical development: Your child becomes overwhelmed by feelings or his environment, like a change in plans or noise, and may cover ears/hide. “If it’s those sort of stimuli, or being forced out of a routine that a child has a preference for, that are provoking a reaction, that may be a good reason to consider an evaluation,” Dr. Cruger said.
7. Your child’s teacher has concerns.
Manipulative: Your teacher says your child is well-behaved at school.
Atypical development: “Some kids with atypical development function very well with adults, but not with peers,” Dr. Cruger said. “That’s where teachers’ input can be very valuable. The teacher won’t be the person making a diagnosis, but they might be highlighting concerns for you about how things go.”
8. Your gut tells you there is something more going on.
Manipulative: You know in your heart you shouldn’t give in, but you do.
Atypical development: Your gut says your child is different. “Your gut is a good instinct in many cases. Parents often say, ‘We always knew something was a little different,’” Dr. Cruger said. “They’re really describing at an early age their child was much less responsive to their interactions and involvement.”

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

long hair and gifted

This morning was the typical roller coaster ride at breakfast.  I have been looking for a way to describe JJ's "giftedness" in academics to him and the other kids.  JJ perceives it as he is smarter than the other kids his age/in his family.  When evaluating in specific areas (that the school measures) that is true, over all I don't know that he is smarter than others. 

To give you an idea of where he is on IQ, he ranks in the 99th percentile in all areas.  This means if you take 100 kids his age and rate them according to intelligence, he would be the 99th smartest kid in that group.  My understanding is that it is the "highest mark" that one can receive.  This is not a total surprise as I have had many teachers tell me that (even in Advanced Level Placement classes) he stretches the class/teacher to their learning peaks in lessons often bringing up elements to the lesson that are far beyond the typical academics for that age.  Also because our family is a multiplex autism family (meaning that we have multiple kids with autism) we have been involved in a couple of research studies that involved giving each member of our family IQ tests.  From this experience, we learned that both of our sons were advanced (JJ was given it when he was 3 years old, Andrew 5 years old at the time).  The evaluator would not share their score (that was part of the deal with the research agreement) but she told me that she was amazed to see both of our son's get up into the 8-9 year old range.  She also mentioned that she stopped testing him not because she thought he did not know the answers, but because he seemed to be purposely telling her the wrong answer to see her reaction.

We are in the middle of trying to figure out a better placement for JJ.  The school district has a self-contained gifted class room that they are starting next year.  It will be made up of kids that are gifted in all areas (that they measure for academics).  In many ways I think this will be fantastic for JJ.  We are waiting to see if he is accepted, hopefully we find out today.

Anyway, back to breakfast this morning, I looked at Anna and it hit me -- describe how length of hair does not affect femininity.  So I asked the kids, "Does the fact that Anna has long hair and I have short hair affect whether or not we are girls?" 
Right away Andrew chirped in, "Well, yeah, she is a girl and you are not, but it had nothing to do with hair.  She is young and you are not" (again with Andrew telling me I am old...what is with that kid?). 
OK, I forgot who I was talking to and did not choose my words as carefully as I should have.  "Alright good point Andrew.  Does our hair length affect our femininity?"
"No mom."
Back to my point I was trying to make, "Well, if someone thought that hair length was the only measure of what makes a girl, I mean female, than they might think that I am not a woman."  At this point I bring the parallel points that I was initially trying to make about being gifted.  We talk about how Anna and Andrew are gifted in piano/musical abilities, JJ is academically gifted in his learning style, etc.  I focus on how many people are gifted in different areas, but even if some aren't gifted that doesn't mean they are not smart.

Being with my kids, I feel like a world traveler who goes from Chicago to New York by way of the Ukraine.  I had never guessed how much teaching I would do as a mother.  I have a feeling that many of the things that I verbally teach to my children are due to their Autism/lack of ability to socially learn (picking up learning from watching others learning) sometimes called incidental learning.  I also recognize that this is part of the nurturing that society does not recognize as a major responsibility of parents, and specifically mothers.  It is trivialized to the point that as long as we find reputable sports clubs, high achieving schools or daycare that we are fulfilling that duty.  Somehow our job as parents is to help our children feel fulfilled and entertained.  I think there is a great underestimation in the need for these conversations and learning experiences with our rising generation.  It is the opportunity where we can develop skills, compassion, and wisdom within our children that takes an incremental development that can't happen when we are eating on the go, watching TV during dinner or in school.