Thursday, January 30, 2014

Chicago Celebrates Chinese New Year 2014

Friday, Jan 31
Chinese New Year Kickoff Celebration
12:00 - 1:00 pm, Daley Civic Center, 50 W. Washington St.
A multi-arts program of dance, music, martial arts, and Lion Dancers.

Saturday, Feb 1
Argyle Street Lunar New Year Parade
1:00 pm parade step off, Uptown neighborhood, 1121 W. Argyle St. parade starting point
Watch parade floats, marchers, lion and dragon dancers heading east down Argyle, turning south onto Sheridan, turning back west on Ainslie to Broadway, and back north to Argyle.

Year of the Horse Chinese New Year Celebration
2:00 - 4:00 pm, Chinese-American Museum of Chicago Raymond B. & Jean T. Lee Center, 238 W. 23rd St.
Admission:  $12 for nonmembers; $10 for members
Catch the Lion Dance and get a taste of Chinese tea, sweet dumplings, sweet and savory sesame balls, and New Year cakes.

Chicago Chinese New Year Celebration with Redmoon Theatre
6:00 - 7:30 pm, Navy Pier Grand Ballroom, 600 E. Grand Ave.
See Chinese cultural performers and fireworks sponsored by the Chicago Cubs.

Sunday, Feb 2
Chinese Lunar New Year Parade
1:00 pm parade step off, Chinatown, Wentworth Ave. at 24th Ave parade starting point
Celebrate with marching bands, colorful floats, dragon and lion dance performances, and a 100-ft paper dragon.

Tuesday, Feb 11
Lunar New Year Celebration Dinner
6:00 - 9:00 pm, Phoenix Restaurant, 2131 S. Archer Ave
Tickets:  $75 per person
Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce celebration dinner event with a full-course Chinese New Year banquet, performances by Miss Friendship Ambassador contestants, and raffles.

Sunday, Feb 16
Chinese New Year Lantern Celebration
12:00 - 3:00 pm, Navy Pier Crystal Gardens, 600 E. Grand Ave.
Join the Chinese Fine Arts Society in celebrating with dance, music, multi-arts performances, Chinese cultural vendors and artisans, calligraphy, paper cutting, and lantern making.

For more information, see Chicago Chinese New Year.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

How To Behave So Your Children Will, Too

In the book, How To Behave So Your Children Will, Too! by Sal Severe, the author says that parents run into trouble when they are inconsistent, procrastinate, and give warnings but don't follow through.  Parents also say things that they don't mean, lack patience, punish in anger, and attend to the negative rather than the positive.  Other problems are that parents criticize too much, don't plan, and don't recognize that their own patterns of behavior are part of the problem.

Suggestions the author gives to be a successful parent:

1. Let your kids make their own decisions and learn from their own mistakes.
Encourage cooperation.  Don't be controlling--teach self-control.

2. Be a good role model.
Take responsibility for your actions.  If you make a mistake, explain that you were wrong and apologize.  Speak calmly.  Be polite.  Read.  Eat healthy.  Exercise.  Your kids will, too.

3. Don't reward a tantrum.
State your expectations before you leave the house.  Give the kids a job to do, and praise them for good behavior.  Always follow through with the negative consequence if they do not behave appropriately.

4. Focus on the good behavior.
Recognize their efforts and improvements.  Have high expectations and confidence in your children.  Reward the good behavior with special activities.

5. Teach responsibility.
Use a chart, checklist, or a written contract to help your children focus on their goals and keep tabs on their progress.

6. Follow through on consequences immediately.
Keep your expectations specific, reasonable, and requiring effort, without frustration.  Allowing specific, reasonable, and enforceable consequences teaches cause and effect, and helps teach good decision-making. Be consistent!

7. Be proactive.
Take care of problems before they even start by laying down the ground rules and the expected consequences.

8. Create a positive family climate.
Emphasize togetherness, cooperation, and structure with flexibility, fun, and humor.  Avoid anger, criticism, rigidity, and defensiveness.

9. Build self-esteem.
Don't do things for your kids that they can do themselves.  Teach your kids to accept their strengths and weaknesses, overcome disappointments, love and support themselves, and look for alternative solutions.

10. Emphasize priority behaviors.
Set a goal and work on a couple of behaviors to change. Intervene with rewards or consequences, and see how well the plan works.  Adjust the plan as needed.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

In the book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, by Marc Weissbluth, the author cites sleep deprivation as a major problem for today's overscheduled kids.   In a child, inadequate sleep can lead to drowsiness or hyperalertness, inattention, and decreased concentration.  It can cause laziness, impulsiveness, difficult mood, and hard-to-control behavior.  Kids can even get frequent headaches or vague abdominal pain.  They may experience decreased energy, grumpiness, excitability, irritability, or tenseness.  Poor sleep leads to increased adrenaline and cortisol.  No wonder these kids are so cranky!  

Dr. Weissbluth maintains that parents can often create sleep problems for their kids if sleep times are inconsistent and regular sleep habits aren't developed.  Kids will often fight sleep in order to keep playing.  If sleep is postponed for too long, kids may become too tired to fall asleep.  Crying may be due to just being overtired.

Naps are felt to be most effective when they occur at the right time and in the crib or bed.  Sleep quality is felt to be poor in cars, swings, strollers, rocking chairs, and arms.  The author recommends that parents start sleep training early and use a sleep log.  Parents should put the child to sleep in a quiet, dark room with no lights or music.  When it's time to sleep, parents should not respond to every cry.  They need to allow the child to learn to fall asleep unassisted.  However, if a child misses a nap, parents should keep the child awake until next sleep period to maintain the sleep rhythm.

Various sleep problems are discussed in the book, along with many possible solutions.  Sticking to a sleep routine can help to minimize kids' behavior problems and keep kids happy.

Why Gender Matters

In this fascinating book, Why Gender Matters:  What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences, author Leonard Sax discusses the differences between girls and boys, how they are built differently and subsequently perceive, learn, and behave differently.  Here are just a few interesting topics covered:

Apparently, girls’ hearing is more sensitive than boys’ at the frequencies required for speech.  This could be why teachers so often think that boys in their classrooms have ADHD.

The female retina is wired to more cones, which detect texture and color.  The male retina is wired to more rods, which detect motion in black and white.  The author observes that newborn girls prefer to look at faces, while newborn boys prefer to look at mobiles.  Most girls like to draw people, pets, flowers, and trees in many (>10) warm (red, green, beige, brown) colors, while boys will often draw action scenes with rockets and cars in fewer (<6) colder colors (blue, gray, silver, black).  Also, girls often prefer to play with dolls and baby strollers, while boys often prefer balls, trains, and cars.  The author suggests that there could be a scientific basis for this.

The parts of the brain involved in language and fine motor skills mature earlier in girls.  The parts of the brain involved in targeting and spatial memory mature earlier in boys.  Some boys are not ready for reading and writing in Kindergarten.  Boys and girls can learn the same things, but they learn best in different ways.  The author feels that single-sex schools could be a better choice for our kids.

Dr. Sax covers a number of other topics, including risk-taking, aggression, sex, drugs, and discipline, citing differences between boys and girls, and how best to guide them individually, as parents.

Scream-Free Parenting

In Scream-Free Parenting:  The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool by Hal Runkel, the author aims to "calm the world, one relationship at a time."  Everyone wants cooperation, harmony, and peace in the family.  He claims that parents focus too much on their kids' behavior and end up feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and inadequate.

Parents often get too emotionally reactive:  screaming, manipulating, neglecting, avoiding, withholding love, or being violent when things get tough.  Mr. Runkel feels that instead of trying to control their kids, parents should try to control themselves and their emotional reactions, and become a calming authority.  In order to be influential, parents need to be in control of themselves.  He suggests that parents don't try to control their kids' behavior, but instead, try to influence their decisions.

The author states that parents should inspire their kids to motivate themselves.  Forcing compliance teaches kids that force and power are the way to win.  Instead, the kids need to be allowed free choice in order to learn the connection between their own choices and the resulting consequences.  When kids are able to explore, experiment, make their own decisions, and make their own mistakes, then kids will learn to be self-directed and responsible.  Your being overly controlling can cause your kid to rebel or become a "passive robot."  Parents need to allow kids the freedom to choose their consequences, whether it means complying with your wishes or being given a time-out or a loss of privileges.

The author suggests that parents make their expectations and rules clear, without anger or anxiety.  They must command respect and expect obedience.  Parents should allow kids to learn by consequences and make sure that they follow through with the consequences.  Lastly, parents need to take care of themselves.  He suggests carving out time for a retreat so that you don't feel overwhelmed and want to escape.  This can be accomplished by exercise, a manicure, listening to music, meditation, or enjoying time with friends.

The Millionaire Next Door

The Millionaire Next Door:  the Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy, by Thomas Stanley and William Danko, states that many people who live in expensive homes and drive luxury cars don't actually have much wealth.  Also, many people who have a lot of wealth don't live in upscale neighborhoods or buy expensive things.

The authors say that the ones who become wealthy live well below their means.  Their parents and spouses are also very frugal.  They allocate a lot of their time, energy, and money to building their wealth.  They believe that financial independence is more important than displaying high social status.  Most of them did not get money from their parents.  And, their children are also economically self-sufficient.  They are experts in targeting marketing opportunities, and they chose the right occupations.

The authors believe that wealth takes discipline, sacrifice, and hard work.  Most of the wealthy were not born into money.  They are typically married with kids and self-employed or professionals.  Most have college degrees and believe strongly in education for their kids.

What can you do if you want to be a millionaire?  Earn and invest early in your life.  Be frugal and develop an annual budget.  Keep track of all of your expenses.  Make definite financial and career goals.  Spend a lot of time planning your financial future.  You need to minimize your taxable income and maximize your unrealized income (wealth or capital appreciation without cash flow).  Consider tax-free municipal bonds, tax-sheltered real estate, or stocks with unrealized gains.  Never buy a home with a mortgage over twice your household's total annual realized income.

The authors' advice for parents:  Teach your children discipline and frugality.  Don't tell your children that you are wealthy until they have started their careers and are already self-sufficient.  Don't discuss their inheritance with them.  Don't bribe them with money.  Don't meddle in their family affairs.  Emphasize their achievements, and make sure they know that health, happiness, family, self-reliance, and friends are more important than money.

Raising Baby Green

Raising Baby Green:  The Earth-friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Care, by Alan Greene, states that the Environmental Working Group tested the umbilical cord blood of 10 babies in 2004 and found 287 different industrial chemicals in it.  Yikes!  But what this means for you and your baby is not entirely clear. 

Dr. Greene says that pregnancy is a great time to start modifying your lifestyle to reduce the toxins in your food and your environment.  Choosing organic foods is a good place to start.  He recommends focusing on organic beef and organic milk (free of hormones or antibiotics), as well as organic potatoes, apples, and soy products (free of pesticides and not genetically modified).  He says to try to eat local food, in season, and wash it well with water and distilled white vinegar.  Because of high levels of mercury, avoid shark, swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, and albacore tuna.  Choose filtered tap water to drink.  Avoid fumes from paint, gasoline, glue, household cleaners, dry cleaners, and tobacco.

For your baby's nursery, Dr. Greene suggests you choose low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint, recycled or sustainable wood furniture and floors, and organic wool or cotton mattresses and bedding.  Your baby can wear organic cotton diapers with a waterproof cover instead of disposables.  There are also hybrid diapers with a flushable liner inside the cloth diaper.  Or you can buy the eco-diaper, which is a disposable made without dyes, fragrance, or chlorine.

Choose organic clothes made of cotton, wool, bamboo, hemp, or linen.  Dr. Greene likes unfinished solid wood toys or cloth toys made of cotton, hemp, or wool.  Choose plastic toys that are free of PVC, such as Brio, Lego, Sassy, Little Tikes, or Tiny Love.

For baby bottles, the author suggests glass, polyethylene, or polypropylene, not poycarbonate, which can leak BPA, a hormone disrupter.  In general, avoid plastics #3, #6, & #7.  Choose plastics #1, #2, #4, & #5.

Dr. Greene suggests non-toxic household cleaners and personal products such as recycled, non-chlorine-bleached toilet paper.  You can open your windows to increase ventilation.  Or you can get air filtering household plants, such as bamboo, Chinese evergreen, English Ivy, Gerbera daisies, or a peace lily for cleaner air.

You can also choose Energy Star applicances.  Use compact fluorescent light bulbs.  Get a home energy audit.  Vacuum with a bagless HEPA filter.  Conserve water.  Avoid pesticides.  Drive less, use a hybrid car, and buy carbon offsets.