Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Quotes From Zen Moments - I


Song:  Sacred Journey

Artist:  Kitaro



My Blog is not merely something for me to do...
it is not even something to only help other parents with children on the spectrum.

I intend it to be a chronicling of my son's life...
for him to enjoy when he grows up...
and as a parenting guide for him should he one day...
decide to become a father.

As I am almost 41 years older than my son...
I want to ensure that I leave something to remind him of my 
continuing thoughts of him...
of my great love for him.

I say this to assure you that the same advice I preach...
I not only live...
It is the same advice I give the one person 
whom I love more than anyone or anything else...
my son, Alex. 


---------


I don't pretend to be knowledgeable in Philosophy.

I make no claim to any knowledge of Religion.

I do know, however, when something said, or done, strikes true.


I have gathered a few selected quotes from Zen Moments.

It has a gathering of quotes from many well known religious figures...
philosophers, various wise people throughout history
(although I cannot fully validate the original source).

(on Twitter)



I shall be cutting and pasting the quotes...
 including my take on them...
and the value of them in raising children.

The purpose lies in the general morals or guiding principles in which they teach.

By guiding the mind...
you guide subsequent actions.

Children...
especially ones on the Autistic Spectrum...
can derive great benefit from a set of high moral standards...
especially when they are set in a form of very general statements to help
guide them throughout life.

By the time children are eight or so years old...
minus their delayed impulse control
(usually not fully formed until into their 20s)...
their minds have full cognitive functioning.

What they lack is experience.

These quotes give them the benefit of many lifetimes of wisdom.

---------------------


Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it. ~ Helen Keller


Helen Keller...
initially, a prisoner of her own body...
Deaf, Mute, and Blind.

She eventually became a teacher and advocate of others.

She learned not only how to communicate...
but how to love life.

Very few people will have to face the obstacles she had to.

She learned the value of Perseverance...
and the joy of conquering a great obstacle in life.

She had a teacher of great compassion.
A teacher who never gave up.
A teacher who had relentlessly taught and led...
 despite the incredible difficulties facing her and her pupil.

All the attributes of a great parent.


I think the real message here lies in the acknowledgement that although
life is sometimes visited with suffering, pain, and fear...
it is still worth it.

To be able to have conquered these obstacles in life gives great meaning to it.

To wish to merely live a life devoid of suffering 
is to wish to live a life devoid of great joy for fear of experiencing pain
along the journey.

What should be avoided in life is not potentially painful experiences...
but stagnation.

To never extend one's self...
although many think it means they will make a mistake...
by default...they will have made the biggest mistake of all...
living an unfulfilled life.

When you reach for great heights...
you sometimes fall...
you sometimes break some bones.

You learn from it and heal...
and do it right the next time.


Happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to deal with them. ~ Anon


This quote is just more in support of what I had written above.


The great lesson for your children to learn is to not fear trying...
to always expand themselves...
to not fear falling and not being able to get back up...
of having placed themselves behind the pack because they had fallen...
instead of realizing that to not try is to certainly fail each and every time.


----


Our life is what our thoughts make it. ~ Marcus Aurelius


Our actions are guided by our thoughts, hopes, and plans.

To seek short term pleasures at the expense of long term pleasures...
comes from having no true hopes for the future...
which comes from not having expanded horizons...
from not having their eyes opened to all the possibilities for their future...
and the true long term pleasures which await them through
Deferred Gratification.

A person constantly looking for short term pleasures
is living a hedonistic lifestyle.

Just as someone with a full box of chocolates and who is allowed to eat 
as many as he wishes...
each successive one becomes less sweet...
less fulfilling. 

He then must search for something more to temporarily satisfy him
(just as a drug addict must).

He never realizes that nothing is so sweet as a drink of cool clear water to 
a man who has suffered great thirst through his great exertions (efforts in life).

He never tires of it...
it never loses its great sweetness.

It is also all the sweeter because he knows he has earned it...
and so, he may thoroughly enjoy it to the depths of his soul.

Through Deferred Gratification...
a child has only hope for his future...
as he has already paid his dues.


----


Genius is only the power of making continuous efforts. ~ Elbert Hubbard



One of the most prolific inventors in history (Thomas Edison) had once said -

Genius:  1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.


A child who believes that only the "smart kids" will succeed
and, therefore, gives up trying...
doesn't realize that it is the ones who don't give up...
the ones who eventually succeed in life are the ones with the 
highest drive to succeed.

They are usually not the quickest or the top of their class...
merely the ones who wanted it more...
and through their unrelenting efforts...
had become far more successful in life
(many studies were conducted connecting drive, and not I.Q., to success).

Through superior drive...
their passions compel them to study more...
and to eventually surpass the naturally gifted ones who study less. 

Drive is derived through a passion or love of learning...
a clearly defined goal to achieve...
and the hope that it gives.


----


What you are must always displease you...
if you would attain to that which you are not. ~ St. Augustine


What this means to me is that while you may be
satisfied in the direction you are headed...
and in the pace you are maintaining...
to be satisfied with where you are is to never wish to leave 
your area of comfort.

Just as a hiker who finds the lake at which he camps so comfortable...
and so, forgoes his original trek to the top of the mountain (his goal)...
a person who learns to love comfort over struggle...
settles for stagnation...never to achieve...
never to learn to love life...
merely wishing to rather not experience pain...
only short term pleasures.

It is through pain, sacrifice, and purposeful self-denial... 
that life's true pleasures are realized.

A child learns this through Deferred Gratification.


---------------------


The following thoughts are from my previous articles.

They are from me to you...
from one parent to another...
and as described at the beginning of this article...
as an eventual parenting guide to my son, Alex.



Shiroi Tora's thoughts on Parenting


I have included some previously posted quotes from me... to all parents.

It is nothing that many do not already feel deeply inside.

I had merely put them into words as a reminder...
and to help guide new or future parents.


----


When it comes to parenting...

we are all brothers (sisters)...
looking to better the ones which matter the most to
not only us...but to the rest of the world.

It is they...our children...
who through their passions...
 shall eventually change the world.

It is we...the parents...
who through our passions for our children...
shall provide the solid bedrock
from which we may catapult them to success...and so...happiness.

We shall be their Atlas...
upon which our shoulders they may stand...
the weight of the rest of the world...
upon our shoulders may it rest...
so upon theirs... it shall not.

Let us be strong enough
to carry the burdens...
so their wings are unbound...
so they may be free to fly.

                         ----Shiroi Tora


----



THE PARENTAL CREED

I give you, my sweet child...
Love, Affection, and Positive Reinforcement
so you may love learning...
 and so, life...and all that it may bring.


You fear nothing...as you know I am always here for you.




I am your guardian...


I shall make your world safe from negative influences...
whatever they may be...
so you may see the world through the eyes of a child...
full of love, hope, and wonder.




I am your guide...


I shall find the most efficient, and so, effective path up the mountain...
so you may avoid the pitfalls...and so...enjoy the journey.




I am your Teacher...


I shall give you the tools necessary to excel in any endeavor...
so that all the doors of opportunity are open for your choosing.




I am your Parent...


I lead by example...
so you may also learn to be a good parent to your children.
                                        ---- Shiroi Tora
----


We, the parents, are part of The Great Generation.
We have the power to alter the course of humanity
through the correct teachings of our children.


By teaching... 
we alter the next generation.


By teaching how to teach the teachings...
to all our children...
and they, to all their children...
ad infinitum...


we alter all those who follow...through eternity.

This is how progress is to be made...
how good conquers evil...
exponentially.

                               ---- Shiroi Tora




Monday, February 27, 2012

Alex Learning Of Ancient Greece And Of The People Of The Mediterranean



Song:  Zeynep's Romance

Artist:  Omar Faruk Tekbilek

Forgive me for reusing this song.
I had used it on a previous post...
however, it fits this article so well...
besides being such a very beautiful song.

-------------------------------------

Alex is studying about Ancient Greece in school during Social Studies.




He has a test on the Greek Alphabet tomorrow.


On the weekends...
after his normal studies...
we work on his long term projects for school.

He has to put together a montage of one of the ancient greek gods.

He had chosen Apollo. 

I taught him how to outline his information for inclusion in his project
(which had given him the necessary information to research)...
 how to get the appropriate photos and illustrations for it...
and how to design his layout by first constructing a rough picture board.

Alex typed out the main body of the project and printed the pictures.

We just have to have him print out titles to the photos and we will 
cut and glue the photos to the poster board.

Presentation of material using some form of art has always been one of Alex's
areas of difficulty.  

I am sure he will have many more to do in the future.
With what I had taught him...he should do well with them.



Not too long ago...
we had gone to a Mediterranean restaurant here in Reno...
right across from the Peppermill Casino.

It was called the Naan & Kabab.




Alex loves Naan (a flat leavened bread).


The salad was very good...very tasty.


My meal.  I especially loved the lightly grilled vegetables
(yes, I know, a tomato is a fruit...I am still going to call it a vegetable :)


My wife's meal.


Alex's meal.  He really likes chicken...and he loves onions...
so we got him Chicken Kabab.


This was only his second time eating in a Mediterranean restaurant.
He has become much more adventurous with his food.

Years ago, we were extremely limited in our restaurants because of 
Alex's extreme aversion to certain textures and tastes.

We have been slowly introducing new types of food to Alex.
We may now go to many types of restaurants...
and Alex gets to explore many of the wondrous types of food the world has to offer...


especially their desserts :)

This restaurant has some very, very good food.
I love the food of the Mediterranean.

The people of the Mediterranean region have one of the most 
healthful diets in the world (along with the Japanese).

I had earlier written an article on these diets here:



Besides the emphasis on vegetables, fruit, grains, fish and poultry...
healthful amounts of red meats and dairy...
I think there are four especially healthful aspects to their diet...

The Tomato...
besides being used in plentiful amounts fresh...
it is used as a base for many of their sauces.

The Olive...
used whole and for their oil as salad dressings...
as well as for cooking.

The Onion...
used fresh or cooked.

Yogurt.
Not the American thin type...
but Greek Yogurt and the like.

Greek Yogurt is processed differently...
it uses far more milk to make...
has more steps in the process...
and it has twice the Protein...
twice the taste and body...
and...well...anyway...
although it is more expensive...
it is worth it.




Yogurt, in its many forms and brands...
has been one of the foods eaten on an almost daily basis...
by most of the longest lived people in the world.

Alex loves Greek Yogurt...
it has been one of his staples for years.

Our family eats it on an almost daily basis

(I've only just gotten back to eating it daily...
I had forgotten how well I felt when I normally consumed it...
and not a lot of cheeseburgers...one of my weaknesses :)

Our digestive tract holds far more importance to our health than
what has been given credit by the medical establishment.

You must realize...besides the myriad of other functions
it provides...all of our nutrients must pass through it.

A healthful amount of the right types of intestinal flora enables
our digestive tract to breakdown and extract various nutrients.

Whether it is from enzymal action from the intestinal flora...
or from chemical input from the liver or other organs...
without a healthful digestive tract...
full and vibrant health is impossible.

The protein in Yogurt is complete...
some of the most bioavailable...
easily digestible...
in short...
nutritious and delicious  :)

A cup or more with each meal will do much toward
bettering your health through, not only its nutrients...
but through the stabilization of the digestive tract.

Some of our favorite Yogurt is from Brown Cow
(the third pictured one).

Think of Greek Yogurt as part of every meal...
or as a yogurt drink with every meal.

And no...
I do not get paid by any yogurt company  :)

So there you have it...
we started with Ancient Greece...
went to modern Mediterranean food...
Greek Yogurt...
and we ended up at the end with the digestive tract...err...
never mind  :)




Thursday, February 23, 2012

"I Love Coral Academy Of Science"


Song:  The Magic Forest

Group:  Future World Music





"I love Coral Academy of Science!"...
"Coral Academy is great!"...

 direct quotes from Alex when he got home today.


Alex is on a self paced High School Geometry on-line course at the Academy.

We've only just begun teaching him Geometry at home and it was his 
second day of his on-line course at school.

Alex, being Alex...
got impatient and wanted to just start taking tests before he was ready to do so.

He took two tests today...
and as a result...
he got lower grades in them than what he should have had...
had he just taken the time to fully understand the problem concepts
for each area before testing.

We told him he is not to take any tests on-line until
we ensure he understands everything in his lesson first.

We have access to the problems on-line at home.
We are going to have him work on them at school...
and we will run him through similar problems at home to ensure he
fully understands the problems before he is to take any more tests.

Alex is heavily goal oriented...
however, his present goal is too short sighted.

I had to reiterate the importance of 100% understanding as the goal...
not just how far into the course he gets.

The whole goal is complete understanding as a foundation in any subject.

He is compliant with rules in general.
We just have to reign him in sometimes, as his enthusiasm to achieve a goal
he has set in his mind sometimes overrides the ultimate goal of 
complete conceptual understanding.

While I applaud his enthusiasm...
I have to remind him to not get overconfident.

However, we, as his parents, love that he loves his new school so much.

He is still getting used to the new schedule...
however, he is rapidly adjusting...
and happily so.

We especially love that the Coral Academy of Science
stresses Math and Science to a much greater degree than do other schools.

At the academy, they learn Math and Science everyday...
 without neglecting the other subjects.

Alex also says that he is interacting with other children.

He says they are so friendly toward him...
and that he really feels accepted there.

Alex feels so proud to wear his school uniform.

The counselor at the Academy who deals with children who are on an
IEP or 504 plan, was extremely helpful and greatly facilitated Alex's schedule.

She had coordinated with us, and with the staff of the Academy...
to ensure Alex had a very smooth admission and transition to his new environment.

I pick up Alex from his school everyday.
I find the children to be much more well behaved and courteous
than at other schools I have seen.

That is another big plus of this Academy.

I think that besides quality teaching...
the uniform policy has much to do with it.

Children often seek to differentiate themselves from society and others
(not necessarily bad).
However, many will seek the easy path of merely dressing differently
(changing the outside instead of the inside)
instead of being different by excelling. 

With school uniforms...
the only way a child may stand out from the crowd...
is to stand out in performance.

Another factor eliminated is the wearing of a "mask"
(counter culture style clothing).

When a child wears certain style clothing...
he is seeking to emulate the normal wearers of such clothing...
the attitudes of the group he wishes to associate himself with.

Far too often...
he gets his examples from Pop stars and the like...
who make their money in being counter culture.

A child who wears the clothing of such people...
by wearing the "mask"...
often feels the need to fulfill the assumed role.

True individuality occurs from the inside out.
Not from the outside in.

These are the great strengths of a school uniform.
Uniforms eliminate the false route to true individualism...
and, so, foster excellence in children.


Alex studying right after school.

When he gets home, the first thing he does is to lay out his homework...
change from his uniform...
eat a snack...
and he then does his homework.

When he is done...
my wife and I check it to ensure...
besides his understanding of the material...
but his neatness.

He still has a problem printing legibly.
He often has to erase what he had printed because he too often
puts his letters together without adequate spacing.

We work with him every night with his homework...
not to give him answers...
but to guide him to correct answers should he miss a concept.

We will review a concept with him...
 we will rephrase or reframe a question to guide his answer in the right direction...
we will have him look on-line for examples...etc.

Alex likes doing his homework because he knows that we love helping
him learn.  He knows that he may ask us for guidance at any time.

As I am retired...
my time... is Alex's time.

It is such a privilege for me to be able to spend time with my son...
and to help guide him in life
(not to say that I sometimes don't get frustrated when he gets stubborn :)

By our helping him to learn...
we are helping to mold his thoughts.

By helping to mold his thoughts...
(through critical reasoning..an efficient and effective thought process...
a typically deficient mode of thinking in many Autistic children)
we are helping him mold his future.


We, again, feel so fortunate that we had moved here...
and that we had found Coral Academy of Science and
were able to get him in.


Alex is accepted by his peers there.
Alex has almost unlimited resources to challenge him there.
Alex comes home with a smile and with enthusiasm.
We get to review his schedule, assignments, and performance on-line.
We receive excellent support from the staff at the academy.

We are very fortunate indeed.
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