Six-Word Memoir

I don't necessary appreciate some of the memoirs...but enjoy the exercise. First, watch:

Then, tell me your six-word-long life story in the comments. I'll start:

Everything works out in the end.

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Don't Believe Everything You Think

This one is for you, Stephanie, your quote is a title of Thomas Kida’s book Don’t Believe Everything You Think. I enjoyed a good read. The impact of confirmation bias and other forms of reinforcing rather than challenging one’s own beliefs is enormous. We are among the worst offenders since we are excellent in defending our points of view, accustomed to being in the minority, and having our positions challenged or rejected out of hand. Of course, we can’t always be wallowing in self-doubt. As a whole, we could do with a lot more humility and open-mindedness. I try to wait for the initial defensive or self-justifying reaction to pass before I assess the value of something that challenges my belief--sort of the intellectual equivalent of counting to ten. I’m not sure it helps--it's a process.

In the book, Kida quotes Michael Shermer “Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons.” As an example, he talks about a gambler who accepts successes at face value but fabricates elaborate reasons for losses. In other words, we seek to confirm--not to question--our ideas (one of the six “basic mistakes” Kida believes we make in our thinking.)

Do you find it extremely difficult to question your own ideas about something--especially when those ideas are foundational to your beliefs? At times when my religious/spiritual identity may be in flux, I’d seek out more secular points of view to confirm my questioning. Letting go of beliefs, in particular, can be most frightening when I haven't yet found alternative beliefs to replace them with. I am okay with that, though. It's acceptable not to know certain things. Allow myself to find my answers in my own time and enjoy the mystery. Mystery translates into wonder, excitement and adventure. There is beauty in that.

It's difficult to modify one’s beliefs, independent of one’s intelligence. Those are not too bright don’t recognize or have the resources to introspect and find errors or to discuss ideas with others analytically. Intelligent people can do these things. Because they are bright, they get in the habit of a) having a higher likelihood of being right, b) often winning arguments even if they are mistaken, and (c) knowing what they believe is correct and therefore introspection is not needed.

Thank goodness I am not intelligent.
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Thank you, my friend, for your helpful tips. I spent some time googling and learning today. Last time I played around with html and CSS codes dated back 6 or 7 years ago!

By now, it is obvious I did a change of blogskin. I just can't shake off my love for lavender/light green combination. I will leave this on for a few days to see if it'd grow on me I change my mind...I need my green and lavender! How does it look? A few tweaks have been done to it so I hope it doesn't feel too out-of-place.

Most obvious of all, a transformation from a 2-columns to a 3-columns skin. Nothing much new to this layout; it definitely shortens scrolling to the bottom and has a cleaner appeal.

I selected 7 displayed posts to a page.

The spaces between the main posting column and the two side bars (left and right respectively) have been widen. It's easier on the eyes when there's a little space in between. Plus, I rearranged and eliminated some page elements on the side bars.

Column Borders have been added, for cosmetic effect, to define both sidebars better. This makes reading better with more defined space, I hope.

Well, nothing much more I think. It's really tough to maintain a minimal feel to this blog as I expand more inspiring links to input. Not sharing these links seems a little selfish, not sharing others' links seems to be a little under-appreciative of the knowledge I learnt from others.

I'm quite proud of this. I know you see nothing much of it but being the IT retard that I am, it's not easy since I have been out of touch with HTML or CSS codes for so long.
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I am Fallible!

It is both possible and desirable to bring up children entirely without doing things to them against their will, or making them do things against their will, and that they are entitled to the same rights, respect and control over their lives as adults. It is about the conditions under which human minds do and do not thrive, about how people learn and how knowledge is created, and it has far-reaching implications for all relationships and for all areas of life. It is radical. Lets take our children seriously. Give them the respect they deserve.

All human beings are fallible and can make mistakes. I may feel 100% sure that I am right, when actually, I am mistaken. There is such a thing as truth, right, and wrong, and that--through conjecture and criticism--I come to know and understand truths about the world including moral truths. However, what I never get is authority, proof that any particular idea or belief is one of those truths.

By thinking of family interactions in particular with that in mind, I address a very important problem: the problem of people in families hurting each other. I am not talking about corporal punishment, I am referring to the idea many people have--for one person to get what he wants, another has to suffer-–in other words, not get what he wants. We can all get what we want. No one enjoys making loved ones suffer. It doesn't have to be like that.

Improvement is possible and the best state to be in is one that I am solving problems and effecting improvements. When my family has a disagreement, instead of one person imposing his will on others, we try to solve the problem in such a way that no one gets hurt. Not even us parents. Parents are people too. There will always be unsolved problems and disagreements. What is relevant here is that we might well have found successively better states of mind in regard to that problem, each the result of successive failures to solve it. The aim is not zero problem: those who have zero problems are dead. The thing to avoid is not so much unsolved or even unsolvable problems, as a state in which our problems are not being solved--where thinking is occurring but our theories aren't changing.

What I'm advocating is mental progress. Solving a problem means doing whatever it takes to cause those involved to adopt states of mind that we prefer to our previous states and that do not cause us to hurt each other. This might involve taking some visible action, or it might just mean making a change in my mind.

Solving problems and making improvements doesn't come from a formula. It requires creativity and thought though not necessarily conscious thought--most of it is unconscious or inexplicit--expressed only in the brain's internal code, not in words. For example, a child who is learning to speak is improving his knowledge of grammar despite not being able to express in words his knowledge of grammar. Or, he would not be able to speak or understand English sentences. Similarly, when I am driving a car, I might be thinking about what to cook for dinner tonight and not consciously be thinking about driving at all; my driving is nevertheless controlled by your mind (or maybe not if you've seen the way I drive.)

Of course even when I am thinking consciously about a problem and I solve it, creating a preferable state of mind, I might be mistaken in my theory of what the problem was or how I solved it. As fallible human being, I am often mistaken even about my own mind. All I can do is to try to correct errors as best I can and keep improving things. To do that, it helps if I think that is possible. If I think that there is no possible solution to a problem or no way to improve a given situation, I might not be applying enough of my creativity to do any good. So if I want to improve things or solve a problem, assume that a solution to the problem is possible and seek truth. It helps if I desire truth and am open to both the possibility there is a solution and possible solutions. If I am not open to criticism, then even if someone comes up with a brilliant idea, the chances are I won't be able to take advantage of it. I try to remain open to other people's proposed solutions, even if those other people are young children. To increase the likelihood that I will solve a problem, actively try to solve the problem. Instead of complacently taking the view that a particular situation is unproblematic and that no improvements can be made, actively seek possible improvements. Don't miss a delightful improvement that would have created an even better situation. One improvement leads to another.

I don't mean I should be approaching life with pessimistic glasses on, always looking for trouble. On the contrary, optimism is very important. What I am saying is that good situations can be even better situations and that effecting such improvements is worthwhile and--for that matter--a source of joy. A child can be perfectly happy climbing the tree in my backyard, but might well be thrilled and excited when I suggest going inside and making a ‘climbing tree’ or a ‘house’ out of some tables, upturned chairs, and a blanket or two. I might realize I actually prefer to be indoors instead of outside even if I had been quite happy outside until that moment.

To solve a problem, I have to be truth seeking and open to criticism. I have to assume that a solution is possible and throw myself wholeheartedly into trying to solve it. I try to come up with bold conjectures aimed at solving the problem or making the good situation even better. Then I subject all the candidate solutions to criticism to eliminate any that don't stand up to scrutiny. Ideas should be judged by their content, not by their source. Otherwise, I might miss a really super idea from a young child. It is important to drop refuted conjectures rather than doggedly hanging on to them. If I am having a discussion about where to go for dinner and The Thai place we wanted to go to is full and I think a great solution would be to go to the Vietnamese place over the road, but one of my children doesn't Vietnamese, I might point out that the Vietnamese place also serves non-Vietnamese food, but if he also doesn't like the smell of Vietnamese food...What's wrong with him? I love Vietnamese. Well, if I tell him this, he might be ready to change his opinion of the smell, and re-interpret it as a lovely smell, but if he isn't, it is probably time to think of another restaurant or some other solution to the dinner problem. To put it simply, I keep making bold conjectures and subjecting them to criticism until I have a solution that everyone involved wholeheartedly prefers to any other candidate solutions any of I can think of at the time. (I call that a common preference, the preference I have in common.) I enact the solution tentatively. Why tentatively when all agreed wholeheartedly. Well, we can all agree and still be mistaken. Everyone used to agree that the Earth was flat. We might all wholeheartedly agree to go to a particular restaurant; when you get there, it turns out to be very smoky and we hate smoke. Or, even if the restaurant is exactly as we were expecting, it may turn out to be the wrong place to go because I myself wasn't as I was expecting. Remember, I can be mistaken about myself too.

It is not having problems that feels bad; what feels bad is being stuck, unable to solve them. Solving problems, growing as a person, and improving my life, my children's lives, and the lives of my loved ones feels wonderful, both on an individual basis and jointly. The more I do this, the better I get at doing it. The more I improve my life, the better my life is, and the more able I am to improve it further. The same goes for the improvements I make with my family, jointly.

How easy is it always to find solutions that everyone prefers? Do I have to have unlimited patience, time, resources and creativity, and be infallible. That is and always will be the human condition. I am fallible. It is not the distance I am from perfection that makes me unhappy, but being unable to move towards it. I don't have to be infallible or perfect to improve things. I don't have to get everything right! I don't have to start out right and have unlimited this, that, or the other, all I have to do is to try to set things up in such a way that what is wrong can be altered. As I said before, I don't mean attempting to create a problem-free state. It means simply actually starting to solve problems rather than being stuck. Happiness is not being without problems; it is being in the process of solving your problems.
I hope I didn't loss you, my friend.
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What Kind of Shoe Are You?

Hmmm...while I have never been called a flake before, I did have my share of "play hooky" back in my good old corporate life during courting with dh.

You Are Flip Flops

You are laid back and very friendly.

Cheery and sunny in disposition, you usually have something to smile about.

Style is important to you, as long as you can stay casual.

It takes a lot to get you to dress up!

You are a loyal and true person, though you can be a bit of a flake.

You tend to "play hooky" and blow off responsibilities a lot more than most people.

You should live: By the beach

You should work: At a casual up and coming company

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Affirming Quote by Winston Churchill

“How I hated this school, and what a life of anxiety I lived there for more than two years. I made very little progress at my lessons, and none at all at games. I counted the days and the hours to the end of every term, when I should return home from this hateful servitude and range my soldiers in line of battle on the nursery floor. The greatest pleasure I had in those days was reading. When I was nine and a half my father gave me Treasure Island, and I remember the delight with which I devoured it. My teachers saw me at once backward and precocious, reading books beyond my years and yet at the bottom of the Form. They were offended. They had large resources of compulsion at their disposal, but I was stubborn. Where my reason, imagination or interest were not engaged, I would not or I could not learn. In all the twelve years I was at school no one ever succeeded in making me write a Latin verse or learn any Greek except the alphabet.” – My Early Life (1930)

In a letter to his mother, arguing against even one hour of tutoring a day in his summer holidays: “I shall feel that I have got to be back at a certain time and it would hang like a dark shadow over my pleasure.” – quoted in Churchill: A Life by Martin Gilbert

“I hope that if evil days should come upon our own country, and the last army which a collapsing Empire could interpose between London and the invader were dissolving in rout and ruin, that there would be some -- even in these modern days – who would not care to accustom themselves to a new order of things and tamely survive the disaster.”

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I Am an Unfinished Creation

I am a mother learning to balance my family, faith, and crafty addiction. I am an unfinished creation, a masterpiece only in the mind of my Creator--charcoal on parchment, slowly, being transformed by gentle strokes of the Master’s hand. In time, colors and deeper hues will be added, making me more vibrant and more like Him.

Until then, I am learning to be content in my Creator’s hand, realizing that a masterpiece cannot be rushed.
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How Fast Can You Type?

In my career days, I used to type over 120 wpm easily! It's been 9 years since I left the glamorous corporate life behind...this is not too shabby with zero mistake.

Click on the link to test your typing speed--or use it as a homeschool typing test!

102 words

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5 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kids Do!

Presenting is a terrific, "unschoolish," short speech given by Gever Tully, a co-founder of The Tinkering School, at a TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference. It was based on his ongoing book-in-progress “Fifty Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do.” Mr. Tully encourages us to let our chilren play with fire, throw a spear, own a pocket knife, get behind the wheel of a car...

His point is children feel empowered when they have a chance to explore these frequently forbidden experiences. Like us adult, children too acquire knowledge they could never comprehend merely by viewing a demonstration or listening to a speech from a mindful parent.

His speech actually reminds me of the use of antibacterial soaps and gels, etc., could actually be HURTING us because our bodies do not learn how to handle those normal everyday viruses and bugs that we normally come into contact with daily.

It is so easy and destructive to pass the attitude of fear on to our kids. We really can't live in fear as parents...we’ll teach children to do the same.

The first five were great stuff. I CAN’T wait to get the full list of 50 things!

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Valuable Lesson Learned--Do NOT Assume!

No...our vacation did NOT get extended. We have been back home since first week of February. Only we were caught up by raising money for Campfire USA for two weeks straight by selling candy in storefronts, often in the cold, day after day, weekend after weekend. Thankfully, we only do that once a year and it's finally over. The kids vowed not to participate again next year. OOOOOH, how dad would love to capture this on video and bring it out same time next year as a reminder! Nonetheless, we are very proud of each of our kids for wanting to help. Their salesmanship skills improved from that of last year. Though we missed the first week of selling, they still pulled through and sold 570 boxes in two weeks. Mind was no easy task when every 9 out of 10 people they asked turned them down, some avoided them completely by entering stores through other entrances, and some wouldn't even acknowledge them.

Then, I had a very negative encounter with a newcomer who joined our local unschooling group briefly. She blasted me for telling her, a total stranger how to raise her young children with my "speal"--basically just enjoy playing with her children who are 3 and 5. I did not greet her any differently than I were with other newcomers. Time and again, I relfected upon my post to her how it could have perceived unkindly. I honestly couldn't find one but apologized to her anyhow and assured her my single view did not represent the group and wished her to stay and give others a chance to get to know her and her family. She appeared to be warming up to other members greeted her since my posts. The next day, she said she was contended with her eclectic approach using online resources with her children and left the group. Because of this incident, our sweet moderator made a few changes to the group. A few newer members plus one long-time member felt it was directed at them because they have kid(s) in school. Some of these members has left the group. I spent over an hour consoling one and assuring her the recent change was not directed at her and others and that they were/are not viewed as the invaders or outsiders. I think she will give the group a chance to get to know her and her family. I am glad I had that talk because I have been affected by ways how I reach out to others as I have been before this incident. It is uncharateristic of me and I hate it. God did not want me to change because how people may perceive me unjustly. I pray that we will move past this trial quickly without much more damage to our small circle of friends. I truly value what we've built here and hate to see it deterioted due to misunderstanding. "Man was not meant to communicate through a wire. The best of all of us is lost in the translation."

Last week has been a trying week, with my dear husband gone for three weeks for a business road trip, DS was struggling with respiratory challenge especially at nights. Consequently, I had no sleep for 4 nights in a row. Finally, he had his restful sleep the past two nights and I got mine.

The kids enjoyed another Spring-Day iceskating with our homeschooling circle of friends on Friday. Next day, they had a blast at a friend's pool party followed by a postponed birthday party at her home. Yesterday, the kids stayed with the same friend while I had my monthly Moms-Night-Out break with other homeschooling moms. It was the best healthy meal at a gathering I had in years plus we enjoyed each other's company while creating beaded jewelry. I did try to make a spiral bracelet or necklace but ended up organizing my supplies instead. I am having a creativity block...HELP!

Today, I woke up with a heavy heart, achy body, and feeling miserable. Poor DD#1 had to carry my load around the house. She made breakfast and lunch for everyone, fed the dogs, let them out to potty. By mid-day, I decided to ask a friend to take them to last swimming lesson later in the afternoon. She was so gracious to offer to keep them afterward. When she checked in around 4:30 pm, I was in no better condition than I was in the morning. She offered to keep the kids for dinner and would bring them home when she leaves to meet up with a girl friend at 7. She even went out her way to pick up some hot and sour soup to satisfy my craving. Oooh, she is a true friend in need! Thank you, Lord, for hearing my prayer.

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Here is an interesting research. For myself, I'm still on the fence about children playing videos or watching TV so I am not sure I'd draw all the same conclusions from the research. My husband feels strongly, negatively, it has nerval impact in oneself based on his long-time human/anatomy's his passion and absession. Though I won't pull our 6-year-old son away from his video games to play Simon Says, it's still good to see some of the "experts" discovering that free play is just as important for children as all those hours of soccer practice and piano lessons.

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It's great to be back, my friends...I am still updating old posts to remove names because a couple of our homeschooled moms expressed concerns of my naming photos of their children. It never struck me to ask for, I am sincerely sorry for my ignorance. Another valuable lesson learned. Don't assume!

I wish you all PEACE.
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True learning-learning that is permanent and useful,that leads to intelligent action and further learning, can arise only out of the experience, interest, and concerns of the learner.
John Holt
Real heroes are men who fall, fail and are flawed, but win out in the end because they stayed true to their ideals, beliefs and commitments.
Actor Kevin Costner

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