Sunday, May 17, 2009

Washington DC and the Brain

Last week I had the most wonderful opportunity. I got to go to Washington DC with 4 of my favorite people in the world to attend a conference about the brain and creativity. I learned so much and had such a great time with my sisters and my mom. They are the best people you will find anywhere, and ooooh soooo smart! (And oooooh sooooo fun!)

My favorite take home messages from the conference were that exercise and music and creativity help the brain grow and make connections in ways I took for granted before. I always knew these were good things, but now, I'm signing my kids up for music lessons, and whenever they are being naughty, they are going for a jog. There was also a fascinating lecture about the brain after age 60 and how it actually does continue to grow, and in fact, at a certain age a person begins to use their whole brain to do things (instead of just certain parts) and so their capacity for greatness actually improves! They showed examples of how a huge amount of the geniuses we know today didn't even begin their greatness until they were retired. I thought that was very inspirational. The other lecture I specifically liked was one about how teenagers brains are not actually different from adult brains but are more like the brains of prisoners. The lecturer argued that teenagers needed more time with higher level, adult life, choices and responsibility instead of teen pop-culture. He argued that they should spend more time with adults learning to be adults and that they are actually capable of making adult decisions long before we let them in this country. He looked across he globe and found that most cultures do not have the "teenage rebellion" phase that we have here, and that the more "westernized" a culture was, the more they were likely to have the rebellion phase. I thought it very interesting. Overall, I found that the brain academics is such a new field that everyone disagrees with each other about everything. It was great to hear what all these intelligent people had to offer me as a mother.

On another note... Washington DC is about the neatest city I've ever been to. Memorials, museums, and historic sites. I loved being inspired by the great things individuals have done. The theme of my time there seemed to be that all the people who we celebrated there did amazing things. They changed history and their acts of greatness affected my little family and are the reason for the great life I get to live today. What really struck me though, is what a difficult time they each had. The changes they tried to make took great sacrifice and great strength. I think about Abraham Lincoln and how he was so dedicated to the idea of freedom for all people under a unified nation and I think that I might have thought it was too hard for me to handle, so I'll let someone else tackle that problem. These people never thought that. They tackled the problem. What an inspiration. I was truly inspired to let myself be more uncomfortable and to be the change I want to see. I think we all have amazing talents and we are each capable of doing great things in the world. It is a matter of commitment. I've been thinking about what I am committed to a lot since then.

By the way, I cannot over-emphasize how much fun it was to be with my sisters and my mom. The company was the highlight of the trip for me.

As for the kiddos these last couple of weeks, here are the happenings: We took Scotti and Ev to an allergist. We found out that Scotti is seriously allergic to all tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, pistacios, cashews, etc.) and has mild allergies to all sorts of things: grass, wheat, dust mites, feathers. Ev is in the clear except that he is mildly allergic to eggs. Sammi told me that it would probably be a good idea not to feed him chicken anymore either. When asked why, Sammi replied, "Because chickens have eggs in them." I thought that was pretty good reasoning!

Everett has started telling me that everything is "ok". "Sorry I colored on the floor mom. It's ok." "Sorry I hit Cooper mommy. It's OK." He also

Oh, you should have seen Scotti's face when he was presented with his trophy for T-ball this week. All my kids were excited about their trophies, but to Scotti it was the most precious thing he has ever received. T-ball was so fun. Scotti loved it all. He showed up ready to go, and went after every ball. Since he is really speedy, he almost always beat all the kids to the ball and had to learn about taking turns a little! He loved hitting and running the bases as fast as he could. Cooper was really excited about it (and a great player) until he had his first hit and ran around all the bases instead of stopping at first. Cooper, who really gets embarrassed if he doesn't do everything just right, was horrified and refused to run the bases in the subsequent games. He still hit really well though. Cute Coop! Sammi refused to be on the team. I told her I would sign her up just in case she changed her mind. When we showed up for the first practice, she again, refused to participate. The coach asked her if she could just help the coach instead. Sammi liked the idea of being assistant coach, so she agreed to help, insisting that she still was not on the team. She batted and played like everyone else, showing them all how to do it. The only thing she did differently is skip around the bases and wear her frilly skirt. She would not wear a uniform because they were too ugly and we really had to fight to get her to wear a batting helmet!

We have been preparing our vegetable garden. Since it is now just a big plot of dirt, Everett cannot stay out of it. He plays in it for hours, filling his dump truck and then dumping it out. He is so dirty, but he loves it, and I work right along side him. I've put together little digging spots in each of my gardens so that my kids can play by me wherever I am working (since they always seem to be wherever I am!) It is really fun.

I just have to brag about my husband for a minute too before I close. He is the nicest guy I know. That must be why I married him. He takes such good care of me. Here is just one example: today I was sick. Body aches and sore throat. He woke up and told me to go back to bed, made a big breakfast for the kids (which he does whenever he is home in the morning), and got them dressed for church. When I woke up, he greeted me with ibuprofen and a glass for water. Later in church, when we were in the hall, he handed me some Tylenol near the drinking fountain and told me to drink up. After church, he got all the kids in the car and took them home, put the baby down for a nap and got the kids all organized on activities. I read and fell asleep. We were invited to a BBQ at our wonderful friends' house and when it came time to leave, I was still asleep, so Grant packed all the kids in the car and took them, leaving me to get some rest. Isn't he sweet? He also cleaned the whole house and made homemade bread yesterday. Most of these things are not rare events. He does so much around the house that sometimes I feel like the slacker. I could tell you about all the things he did for me yesterday too and the day before that, but it would bore you. I'm lucky to have such a great person with me all the time.

Grandma Beck comes to visit this week! Yaaaahoooo!