Mary Anne Mohanraj

Journal

October 30 -- 8:56 AM

I have just figured something out. My students are inordinately fond of paragraphing. They want to do a new paragraph every three sentences or so. I was writing comments on a paper, and realized that if they just smooshed those paragraphs together, it wouldn't work -- it'd be jumpy, going from one to the next.

What they're missing is the transitional half-sentence or so, that logically connects the small ideas they're working with. They're expecting the reader to just make the same logic leap they did, and they can't rely on that. Readers are whimsical creatures, and they go in all sorts of mental directions. They need to make the chain of thought explicit and clear.

I think if I explain this, it will help. I hope!

(Am a bit embarrassed that it's taken me this long to figure this out, given that I've been teaching composition, in one form or another, for almost fifteen years. Ah well.)

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October 30 -- 7:55 AM

For those whose kids don't fall asleep easily, may I just say that all of the folks who told me to try audiobooks were COMPLETELY RIGHT. It's been a week now, and every night that Anand's book-playing device was charged (it took us a while to figure out a routine for making sure that happened daily), he just went to bed at 8 p.m. with his sister, per usual, but then STAYED IN BED. Previously, she would fall asleep quickly and he would then immediately get bored and come bother us for basically another hour. This is MAGIC. I'm not sure when he's actually falling asleep, but I suspect much earlier than he was, and regardless, I've gotten an hour back in the evenings and IT IS AWESOME.

This commercial brought to you by audiobooks. Returning your sanity, one child at a time.

Oh, and the specific combination we're using is an iPod Shuffle and a Totoro pillow player -- he loves to snuggle up with it, and clearly finds the whole thing immensely comforting. So far, he's just been listening to Paddington over and over -- if I have to buy him a new book every week, it will be well worth it. I have Winne-the-Pooh waiting.

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October 30 -- 6:00 AM

Official school pic for 2014, 7 years old, 2nd grade. I wonder whether it was her choice or the photographer's, not to have her smiling wider. She's generally quite a smiley child. :-)

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October 30 -- 5:10 AM

I've had the Fitbit Flex for a few weeks now, and I meant to report back, so here goes. It hasn't done anything for me re: weight loss -- I've been walking a lot more (almost half again what I was doing previously), but I've also been eating more, because I get hungry more, so it all seems to be evening out in that department. For me, it is not a magic weight-loss device.

But, as noted above, I'm walking a *lot* more than I was. And as a result, I feel healthier, stronger, more, dare I say it, fit. I've been able to do more in a day, without getting tired, most days. (Yesterday I was oddly exhausted all day, but I think that was an outlier.) In general, I would like to be a stronger, fitter, sportier person than my normal couch potato self. So in that respect, the Fitbit is a rousing success. (My clothes also do seem to fit a bit better than they did two weeks ago.)

Also, I just like it. Checking in on the little counter a few times a day is pleasing to me, as I watch the little numbers climb, and at age forty-three, keeping an eye on my health seems like it should perhaps be something of a priority. I enjoy the mild competitive aspect too. Despite having a low day yesterday, I'm still (just barely) at the top of the leaderboards with my friends for the past week's average. I admit it, I like to win. So that aspect of the interface really works for me too. And the wristband is loose and comfortable enough that I don't notice it most of the time, and being able to just leave it on for days at a time makes me much less likely to forget to wear it.

Overall, strongly recommend, as long as you understand what it likely will and won't do.

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October 29 -- 4:13 PM

I'm thinking of starting a new photo series -- "Kavya reading, with beverages". Milk usually, but since today was the first cold day, she got hot chocolate for a treat. I think it's funny the positions she ends up in -- these are actually two of the most normal. In the laughing photo, she'd just called me over to tell me a funny bit -- in the story, the mother says to the kid at bedtime, "Goodnight! Don't let the bedbugs bite!" It's funny, because the characters in the story are beetles.

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