Sunday, September 21, 2008

NAMI Walks for the Mind of America 2008

Team Serenity (Josh, Kara, and Mihret in the middle) at the 2007 NAMI Walk for the Minds of America, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Fox Valley, Appleton, WI

Dear Everyone,
We are writing today to tell you about an upcoming event that we are participating in that is both very important and very exciting to us. It is NAMIWalks for the Mind of America, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) signature walkathon event that is being held in Appleton, WI at Appleton Memorial Park on October 4, 2008.

Kara is bipolar, and both Kara and Josh have loved ones who live with clinical unipolar depression, bipolar disorder and other mental (biochemical) illnesses.

This year Kara became involved with NAMI as a volunteer. She received training and now is a facilitator for Five O'Clock Friday, a support and discussion group for young adults who are living with mental illness. This is the third NAMI Walk in the Fox Valley, and the third walk for the Patterson family. We're planning on making it a family tradition.

NAMI Fox Valley continues to advocate for individuals and families in our community, fighting the stigma that unfortunately still exists.

On walk day, we're going to do more walking in one morning than we usually do in a week. :)
If you'd like to visit our personal walker Web page, go to You can donate directly to us online, if you choose. Donating online is fast and secure, and we'll get immediate notification via e-mail of your donation.

If you would prefer, you can give or send any of us (well, not so much Mihret, it'll just go into her mouth) a check, made out to NAMI Fox Valley, and we will make sure that it gets to them.
(Also, a quick note - if we have already walked, and you think you missed the deadline... you haven't! You can donate to NAMI Fox Valley - or ask about being a volunteer there, if you're in the area - at any time.)

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the largest education, support and advocacy organization that serves the needs of all those whose lives are touched by these illnesses. This includes persons with mental illness, their families, friends, employers, the law enforcement community and policy makers. The NAMI organization is composed of approximately 1100 local affiliates, 50 state offices and a national office.

The goals of the NAMIWalks program are: to fight the stigma that surrounds mental illness, to build awareness of the fact that the mental health system in this country needs to be improved, and to raise funds for NAMI so that they can continue their mission.

NAMI is a 501(c)3 charity and any donation you make to support our participation in this event is tax deductible. NAMI has been rated by Worth magazine as among the top 100 charities "most likely to save the world" and has been given an "A" rating by The American Institute of Philanthropy for efficient and effective use of charitable dollars. Thank you in advance for your support.


Kara, Josh and Mihret Patterson

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Llama Llama Something Something

If you're a parent, you should totally look up the Llama Llama books. There are two of them, and they're both kind of wonderful. They are:

  • Llama Llama Red Pajama (Which makes no sense - that word requires an s, thank you.)
  • Llama Llama Mad At Mama

Both contain several words that rhyme with Llama, but they abuse this fact and use the words Llama drama in both books (Come on now! You'd never see Dr. Suess stooping to using the same rhyme!) and making up things like the Shop-O-Rama.

Given the very few words that rhyme with Llama, however, Kara and I thought we would lend a helping hand with the next few books:

Llama learns a valuable lesson about running with sticks in: Llama Llama Eyeball Trauma.

Llama discovers the importance of good punctuation in: Llama Llama Errant Comma.

Llama learns about the importance of government in: Llama Llama Vote Obama!

Llama goes to work for his country in: Llama Llama Finds Osama.

We're sure that the author of these fine books (Anna Dewdney) will be happy to share whatever money she makes writing and illustrating these fine bits of literature. Or at the very least will not sue the pants off of us for creating these titles.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mihret Plays the Piano

I kind of love this video because it doesn't go quite the way you'd think.

I figured she was going to just kind of bang on the piano - and she does, at first, but then she kinda-sorta starts to play it.

If you look just behind her, you can see her high chair. Because she usually has to eat dinner before Kara and I are ready to sit down to eat, I will sit and play the piano while she has dinner. It seems like she's started to pick up on that, if only a little bit.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

World of activities awaits young daughter

Mihret at about 10 months old, tickling the ivories with her Abaye

My (Kara's) latest column in The Post-Crescent: (from Aug. 27, 2008)

My 18-month-old daughter, Mihret, and one of her day care teachers love to dance together at day's end, when Mihret's waiting for me or my husband, Josh, to pick her up.

Our energetic toddler loves to make up her own moves. Recently, she figured out how to turn on the CD player to get the music started.

Her day care also offers Musikgarten, an early childhood music and movement class, as an addition to the curriculum.

Mihret loves singing, and she's gone from parroting back sounds on pitch to repeating lyrics. Josh, a Beatles fan, has gotten her to sing "backup" on car rides, echoing him on "Hey Jude."
Even though she's not yet 2, we can't help but wonder what organized activities she'll want to try as she grows.

We both had parents who signed us up early for various types of lessons, some that lasted and some that didn't.

Now we're staring at our daughter's clean slate, wondering what marks she'll make on it first.
We're already thinking of ways we can offer opportunities without racking up the costs. There's Mihret's Grandma's well-preserved violin. Her Uncle Dave can give her drum lessons, and Josh can teach her how to play our home piano. Then there's Josh's company's discount at a local dance studio.

It can be too easy to tire our child out theoretically before she's old enough to protest.

Our job as her parents is to be her first coaches, advisers and teachers. We need to encourage her when we see she may enjoy an activity.

But what she sticks with when she's older, well, we need to remember that that's got to be her move.

By Kara Patterson, Post-Crescent staff writer

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Toy Duckies Splashed Me... Seriously!

Below, Mihret emerges soaked and satisfied from a water-table battle involving a friend and some plastic ducks at her day care's summer picnic. I (as Mihret's mama) was trying to get a close-up shot without getting our new digital camera wet. This is my favorite shot of the bunch... Kara :)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Kids' Music at the Patterson Household

I'm not sure if I just have an aversion to kids' music - but I didn't listen to a lot of it as a child.

I did have a few children's records, but most of them were - a little off the beaten path. And in some cases, they were just really old.

When I was younger, my dad had set up an old record player in the basement. And he provided my brother and me with a lot of records that he had owned as a kid.

Which is why, to this day, I'm deeply in love with something called The Silly Record, which still hasn't been issued on CD.

And I had my other favorites as well, I suppose, but most of them were stories instead of music. And in the rare cases where the records were musical in nature, they weren't what you would think of as "baby music" - they were Sesame Street records, and Disney Songs (I got college scholarships for my essay about listening to the Mary Poppins soundtrack as a kid) and a few Chipmunk records - which of course took popular songs of the day and gave them really high voices.

(To this day, every time I hear Arthur's Theme, in my head I hear Alvin saying: "Fall in love? Ha! I can think of a hundred things better than falling in love. Like Pac-Man, for instance.")

And so, when it comes time to play music for the kiddo... there are almost no children's CDs getting played in the house.

I would wonder whether this warps my kid or not, but I have a lot of fond memories of being very little, and having my dad play Steve Miller's Greatest Hits, and The Beatles, and any other record he felt like playing.

And so I do the same for my own kid.

Mostly, I've found she likes a loud, thumpy beat, because it says "dancin' time!" to her.

The music we've listened to the most in the last few months:

The Beatles: Number 1s

This is something of a tribute to my own dad, because I grew up hearing these on the stereo, probably when I was as young as Mihret.

Hey Jude is a big favorite, and we sometimes sing the song to Mihret. Often, she kinda-sorta sings with us, echoing the last word or two that we sing.

Except the one time that I swear, and Kara can verify this, that she sang "Remember, to let her in to your heart..." unprompted.

Aqua: Aquarium

Yes, they are the Barbie Girl people. No, we don't listen to that song. We prefer Happy Boys and Happy Girls. Which is how Mihret learned the word happy. Can your eighteen-month-old say happy?

The New Power Generation: New Power Soul

It's tough finding a Prince album with very few bad words and a lot of thumping on it. This is one of them, though we skip some songs.

They Might Be Giants: No

Yes, this is the one kid's record we do, but there are tracks on there that get old after a while. Real old. "Violin" is brutal after a while.

But Where Do They Make Balloons is usually good for a listen or three.

Bobby Brown: Don't Be Cruel

'S loud and thumpy, for the most part.

Soul Coughing: Irresistible Bliss

It's got a great boom-THUMP, boom-boom-THUMP opening. Though, strangely, the song Mihret likes to dance to most is White Girl. Go figure.

Ethiopian Music

We have a couple of CDs worth, and we enjoy putting them on and listening to them, but it's hard to listen to something for more than a few days when you don't know what the words are.

Aimee Mann: Smilers

For some reason, Mihret likes the song Freeway, even though it's pretty mid-tempo.

Michael Jackson: Greatest Hits

We learned that Mihret understood the concept of rhythm when we put on Billie Jean and she started bopping along with it - at six months old.

Other things that have gotten a spin here and there include the African Children's Choir, The Lion King, Julia Nunes' Left Right Wrong, Stereo MCs.

But my dad seems to have gotten it right - The Beatles made the only CD where, at the end of every song, Mihret yells out "Again!"