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Posts from the ‘Reviews’ Category
A review and giveaway of a wonderful new book on mindful parenting, Parenting in the Present Moment, by Carla Naumburg.
I want to take a minute to highlight a couple of newish media ventures that I think readers of this blog would love. Funnily enough, both are a little old-fashioned. One is a literary magazine, printed on real, honest-to-god, paper. It arrives in my mailbox, and I know I need to clear my evening – put away my laptop and phone and snuggle into my bed a few hours before I actually intend to go to sleep. And the other is a podcast. Maybe that doesn’t count as old-fashioned, but as I listen, this form brings all the warmth and comfort of a radio show that makes me want to slow down, close my eyes, and just listen.
Both of these projects are doing something special and filling our need for real parenting voices amidst the chatter from popular websites and advice-filled magazines. After every installment, they leave me wanting more.
The Longest Shortest Time is a podcast and accompanying blog created by Hillary Frank. Hillary is a writer and a professional radio producer, and her experience shows in the podcast. I love good radio, and this is good radio. I just discovered the Longest Shortest Time last summer, at the recommendation of a friend. I was immediately hooked, and I plowed through the 20 existing episodes, recorded over the last three years, while I packed up our house in preparation for our move.
The Longest Shortest Time is about stories. But stories are different when they’re told from one friend to another, or one mother to another, empathetic mother. That’s something that Hillary recognized. She says:
“Something I did know from having been a radio producer for about 15 years, is – if you have a microphone, and you stick a microphone in someone’s face, they will tell you just about anything, and it’s not awkward. I just started sitting down with moms and calling moms, and dads too, to hear their stories of struggles in early parenthood.”
These are some incredible stories. The most memorable is Hillary’s conversation with her friend Kelly McEvers, an NPR war correspondent, about what it was like to combine early motherhood with her very dangerous line of work. That’s a perspective that I’d never heard before. I am nothing like a war correspondent, in my personality or work, and my experience with motherhood is nothing like Kelly’s. But still, I felt a certain amount of kinship with Kelly when she said this:
So, we’re moving this summer. At least, we think we are. The deal isn’t done yet, and we’re not even sure of our exact closing date, which is maddening. But probably, by the end of the summer, our little family will move to our first-ever, very-own home, just about a mile away from our current rental.
Talking about a move with Cee has been interesting. She’s been coming to look at houses with us from the beginning, starting in February. We struggled to explain to her why we were spending so much time dragging her through empty houses. We talked about moving to a new house, and she just looked confused. “Why, Mama?” Why, indeed, would we want to leave the only home she likely remembers? (We moved from Arizona to Oregon when she was 7 months.) What could be better than this house, the place of warm memories and celebrated milestones?
Cee thrives on the familiar. Even though we’ll still be living in the same neighborhood and not much else about her life will change, I know this move will be stressful for her. Heck, moving is stressful for everyone. So what can we do to ease the transition? I’ve had this question at the back of my head all summer.
I received the following guest post a couple of weeks back from the folks at Twigtale, a small parent-owned company that makes custom photo books to help kids with transitions. The Twigtale books are really cool, and I encourage you to check them out. Putting together a custom photo book for a big event is the kind of thing I might intend to do for Cee but never get around to, but Twigtale makes it easy with with a template and text written by child development experts. (Cee loves looking at our photo albums, but you know how long those take to put together. I’m still working on our 2012 family photo book!) So, I’m posting this article for those of you who, like us, might be approaching a move and as a sort of shout-out to Twigtale. They’ve also kindly offered to give away any custom photo book (about moving or any other topic they cover) to one Science of Mom reader. See the end of the post for more details!
Moving Guide – Preparing Your Child for a Big Move
Summer is here, and with the warm weather and sunshine comes a lot of change for families. The structure of the year gives way to more down time and loose fun.
Kids may be anticipating a new school year, with new teachers and classrooms, or perhaps starting school for the very first time. Some parents decide to work on potty learning in the summer, as they can take advantage of the warmth outside providing more “naked time” for their children to better listen to their bodies. And perhaps most stressful of all, you may be moving this summer.
So the burning question is, how to best prepare your young children for the move? Read more
Yesterday, I posted an excerpt from Nicholas Day’s new book, Baby Meets World. If you missed it, check it out to learn how modern hunter-gatherer societies raise children, and how that task is supported by not just by hard-working mothers but the entire culture. It’s good stuff.
After reading his book, I had lots of questions for author Nicholas Day. Today, I bring you our conversation about his book and on the roles of science, culture, and instinct in parenting.
Alice: Becoming a parent changes all of us. What was it about your particular transition to fatherhood that made you want to research and write this book, to dive into the history and the science of parenting in a way that extended beyond your own reality of parenting?
Nicholas: In a way, I think it was the part of me that wasn’t changed that led to this book: I had stupid questions about babies in the same way I have stupid questions about everything else. (It’s a personality flaw.) I didn’t see why I had to think of babies as simply problems to be solved. Most baby books have what I think of as the leaky faucet approach: if your baby is dripping, we recommend this socket wrench. And there were many, many times when all I wanted was that socket wrench. But I also thought babies were interesting subjects all on their own. I wanted a book that acknowledged that. And I wanted a book that was wide-angled. The study of infancy is highly compartmentalized: the different disciplines don’t talk to each other. The few good books about babies tend to be highly focused: they look at babies through the lens of a cognitive scientist, say, or a developmental psychologist. But there are so many lenses out there! It seemed a shame to only see a baby as like this or like that. There’s so much left outside the frame. So this book tries to show readers the many different versions of a baby that people have seen—and still see today.
It’s strange. You wouldn’t think that babies would be an obscure subject: they are everywhere. (In our highly fertile neighborhood, I sometimes feel like Hitchcock’s The Birds is being reenacted—but this time with babies.) But they’ve been weirdly neglected. This is sort of hard to believe: any book about babies has to clear the high hurdle of being another damn book about babies. (Right? Like that’s what we need. Also, we totally need more diet books.) But I concluded that we really did need that. Babies are still strangers in our midst.
Alice: Your book focuses on four basic facts of infancy: “suck, smile, touch, toddle.” How did you choose these topics? Why not “eat, sleep, poop, cry,” for example?
Nicholas: I joke about this at the end of the book—that there’s so much going on in infancy I could easily have chosen spitting, shitting, screaming, sharing.
Part of why I went with these topics was that I actually wanted answers about them: I really wanted to know where a smile comes from and what a first smile might mean, for example. But I also thought these subjects had been overlooked. There’s been an enormous amount written on sleep, for very obvious reasons: any new parent is obsessed with sleep. But there’s very little written about smiling or walking. It’s the leaky faucet problem: because a smile can’t be fixed, no one writes about it. Read more
I am delighted to have a guest post from Author Susan Brink today. Susan’s book, The Fourth Trimester: Understanding, Nurturing, and Protecting an Infant Through the First Three Months, was released a few weeks ago. I really enjoyed this book. It is billed as an “operating manual” for newborns, but it read to me more like an “understanding manual.” This is actually more helpful, because if you can understand why your newborn is doing the things she’s doing, you’re on your way to figuring out how you and your baby will survive and thrive in this period. The Fourth Trimester includes chapters on crying, sleeping, feeding, sound, sight, touch, physical development, and stimulation. Each is full of both science (well-cited, I might add) and stories from real parents. The sight and sound chapters were two of my favorites, so I’m happy that Susan chose these topics for her guest post on Science of Mom. Enjoy!
WHAT THE WORLD LOOKS AND SOUNDS LIKE TO A NEWBORN BABY
By Susan Brink
Imagine yourself in Paris, and you don’t speak French. Pretend for a moment that you’re from rural America, have never seen a big city much less the elegant capitol of France, and you’re trying to cross the Champs-Elysees at the Arc de Triomphe. You dare not step into traffic, you can’t read the street signs, and you cannot understand what people are trying to tell you. Sights and sounds overwhelm you. Nothing makes sense.
That’s something to think about when wondering what the world looks and sounds like to a newborn baby. But there’s more. Dr. Alison Gopnik, professor of psychology at the University of California, Berekley, adds two elements to the confusing mix: love and caffeine. “You want to know what it’s like to be a baby?” says Gopnik. “It’s like being in love for the first time in Paris after four double espressos. It’s fantastic. It’s a wonderful state to be in. And very likely, you’ll wake up at three a.m….crying.”
We look into a newborn baby’s eyes and wonder what he sees. We watch her reactions and wonder what she hears. But now we’ve got a wealth of recent research into what newborns see and hear that adds scientific chops to what parents have been imagining for ages. Read more
We had just an incredible number of interesting questions about language development submitted on the Beyond Baby Talk post. I love how our kids make us so curious, how they compel us to think about things that we’ve probably taken for granted for most of our lives.
Congratulations to “Dukes Haven Homestead” on being the commenter chosen at random to win the giveaway of a copy of Beyond Baby Talk! I think she’ll find the chapter on siblings and birth order especially interesting, since she has a baby and a toddler to talk with now.
As promised, the authors of Beyond Baby Talk, Drs. Kenn Apel and Julie Masterson, took the time to answer a few of our readers’ questions. The rest of your questions certainly gave me some ideas for future blog posts, for that time in the near (truly!) future when I have time to research and write another post!
Your Baby Talk Questions Answered
by Drs. Kenn Apel and Julie Masterson
What gets more bang for the buck– variety or repetition? Should I be singing the same songs over and over or always surprise my baby with new songs?
~ Tara Sutherland
They both get you bang! On the one hand, you get bang for your buck with some repetition in song, and in language that accompanies daily routines (using the same kind of phrases and routine language when engaged in bath time or changing time) because your baby begins to “catch on” when she hears the same words and phrases attached to the same contexts/movements/objects. On the other hand, variety is good because it allows your baby to experience different words and phrases that make up language. Read more
You can’t be a parent and not be fascinated with development. A child’s growth – from newborn to toddler and into childhood – it’s such an incredible transformation. It’s quite a privilege to witness it, and from the front row, too.
During the first year, I was most interested in Cee’s gross motor development. I loved watching her move her body in deliberate ways, from the way she turned her head away from something too stimulating as a newborn to sitting up for the first time, to pulling up, cruising, crawling, and then boldly to walking, climbing, and running.
Now, nearing her second birthday, the most fascinating development frontier for me is Cee’s language. She surprises me with new words everyday. It’s exploding.
It was perfect timing, then, that I received a copy of the newly revised book, “Beyond Baby Talk” by Drs. Kenn Apel and Julie Masterson, professors of Communication Sciences and Disorders at University of South Carolina, Columbia, and Missouri State University, respectively. (The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association sponsored the book, and they sent me a review copy. As always, I only review books that I’d recommend to my friends, and I receive no compensation for doing so.)
I’m super excited that Drs. Apel and Masterson have agreed to do an author interview with Science of Mom readers, answering your questions about language development. Just leave your question in the comments below, and the Beyond Baby Talk authors will answer several of them in a follow-up post in a couple of weeks. Plus, we’ll also be giving away a copy of the book!
Now, let me tell you a little about Beyond Baby Talk (but let’s call it BBB). Read more