Wednesday, June 27, 2007

figuring out milestones

Sometimes parenting seems like such a strange, magical thing. Realizing that so much of it is just figuring it out as you go along makes it a lot less intimidating.

But I've been thinking ahead to toilet training and I just want to run up to every parent on the street whose kid isn't waddling around with an enormous diaper butt and grab their hand and ask, "How do you do this???"

Every milestone is like that. Every milestone ups the ante a little, so what seemed complicated before (like nursing) now feels automatic and totally convenient compared to the next stage (like feeding solids-- what, I have to remember to *bring food with me* when we go out??)

When Paloma started acting hungry, we started her eating solids- even though I really wasn't sure how to do it. (If you ever pick up the book Super Baby Foods, which is very informative, take a deep breath and forgive yourself if you throw it across the room a few times because you're fed up because you can't turn the pages because all your fingers are holding other pages that the author suggests you turn to and so you never actually finish the book....)

So I skimmed that book, looked up Dr.Sears' advice (which is quick and readable) and went for it. Now I have a little one who loves yogurt and whole wheat bread bits and-- POOH!! Have I started her down a road of unavoidable allergies??? But but my ped said she could have everything except egg whites and shellfish. I'd love to hear what others have heard from your peds and what you've done.

And speaking of milestones, I'm convinced that *traveling* is the way to jumpstart her brain. We flew to MA, she came back crawling. We went camping, she came back with much less stranger anxiety. So the big question is, how far do I have to go to get her toilet trained- Tibet? Maybe Hawaii? :)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

What the F? Media and parenting

According to a SF Chronicle article on Wednesday, two-thirds of parents surveyed "are very concerned about sex and violence in the media (...)." The article says that these parents are "fighting back" (must say that I loathe both the cliche and the imagery of swinging your fists at the Media Behemoth) by "closely" monitoring their children's television, Internet and other media use.

Yet later in the article, it says that "[m]ore than half of parents reported that their children had televisions in their bedrooms (...)." So, there's got to be some significant overlap between the parents who say they're very concerned and the parents who plop tv's in their kids' bedrooms.

I don't think that all tv is bad. But shows that are worth my and Derek's precious, precious free time are very few and far between. As in, maybe one per season. So we save money by not having cable and just Netflixing. (I love having discovered that I love the noir and screwball comedy genres of the 1930s.)

We watched some tv at my parents' place and were So Wretchedly Bored. I mean, cable choices are cool and all, but - how many HGTV remodels can I watch? How much yum-O and BAM!? How many quick-cut pool/bikini shots with 30 seconds of a music video? My eyelids are getting heavy thinking about it. I learned this by watching tv:

1. There are barely any well-crafted, well-written, well-acted shows out there. It's reality-eqsue, cheap canned-laughs, and 15 second news bits that don't offer intelligent analysis or demonstrate much background research. Suck-o!

2. It's summer and new episodes of "The Office" aren't coming until the fall, so might as well get outside.

As for parenting and media, I'm just going to say it- these parents who are so worried about tv and yet put tv's in their children's bedrooms are truly blowing my mind with their stunning lack of common sense.

The article does discuss the measures that some parents are taking to monitor their kids' media exposure. And there's a sentence or two about how parents are "forced" to talk with their kids about "delicate" topics before they want to. But why is the focus of the article on monitoring and not on communication? Why are we failing at simple, face-to-face communication with our kids? Sure, we can check their email, their voicemail, who, when and what they're IM'ing. But can we talk about it to them? Is there a good way and a good time? If not, why not? What are our real priorities?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Public Health PSA- The Big Bad Wolf

The New York Times had a really interesting article on the correlation between lung function and hostility. The lead researcher happens to be my brilliant sister- go Dr. Beni!

Who knows how they heck they decided on this illustration, but it's pretty brilliant and surprisingly light-hearted for such a serious-sounding topic as lung function. The picture they chose shows the Big Bad Wolf having trouble blowing down a (pleased-looking) pig's house. Presumably his trouble stems from the hostility he harbors.

Yeah, now you *have* to click through and look! Sometimes the Times has a sense of humor.

Go for the illustration, stay for the content! Here's an excerpt: "After controlling for age, height, socioeconomic status, smoking and asthma, high scores on the hostility test were consistently associated with low scores on the measures of lung function in black men and women and in white women. The more hostile the person was, the more lung function declined. For each one-fifth increase in scores on the hostility questionnaire, there was a corresponding decrease in scores on the breathing tests. The association was not statistically significant in white men."

What do you think of that? Interesting and potentially provocative findings, no?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

chocolate review! Shaman's Vision

Pretend this photo is correctly laid out... sorry about that...

Shaman's Vision
Organic Dark Chocolate (60%) with Coconut
2 oz. (57 gm), $2.99
All profits support the Huichol Indians
Fair Trade

This is a very fine dark chocolate. Often when tasting dark chocolate, my first thought is, "Waiting... waiting...." The delicate dark chocolate flavor is slow to come through because the waxy texture often overwhelms it. Here, the organic sugar and vanilla carry the chocolate flavor and aroma out front. This is admittedly a little sweet for a dark, but overall well balanced.

The coconut adds a hint of nice texture but barely any flavor. If you're a coconut lover, this isn't going to send you into coconut heaven, but it's still worth trying because the chocolate is so well made.

Let me know if you try this or any other reviewed chocolate (or if you have a chocolate for review)!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007 debuts!!!

This is so exciting! Get all the dads, uncles, aunts, grandparents and other caregivers in your life to check out this companion site to!

jetsetting with the baby!

Many parents dread the thought of being in a confined space with a less-than-cheery baby, and I am one of them. I was thrilled to visit my sister and brother in law at their lovely home in Northampton, MA, and excited that Paloma could visit, too. (Derek was busy impressing the usually-unimpressed-genius crowd at an atomic physics conference in Calgary.)

The thought of eight or nine hours of travel solo with the baby was a little daunting. But all in all, it went really well! Paloma makes friends wherever she goes and did very, very little screaming/crying. I got lucky.

My best travel tip: take your baby carrier! I had her in the Ergo 90% of the time and it was a miracle-maker. I had her on my front, a backpack on my back, and both hands free for holding boarding passes, water, etc. The Ergo was a total lifesaver. She napped in it, nursed in it, and was generally a happy traveler.

At Beni Auntie's house, she got her crawl on! She went from doing impressive plank poses and downward-facing dogs and slipping backwards to actually getting a knee down. Ever since we got back she's been scooting around like crazy. And we've noticed leaps in her fine and gross motor skills in general. Perhaps, as Beni suggested, all the experiences of traveling stimulated her brain.

Slipping backwards:

Kind of crawling!:

And as a highlight for all you parents who know The Very Hungry Caterpillar, we went to... the Eric Carle museum!

It was really fun. The day we went, they had a tent outside with children's book illustrators. There was some whimsical, beautiful art. I purchased a Linda Dockey Graves print for Paloma, an illustration of the story of the Pearl Diver. (It's the picture on the right on her site.)

The take-home message from all this, for me, was: don't be intimidated by traveling with a young one. And definitely don't let fear of it stop you from getting out there and having a fabulous time. True enough, I was exhausted at the end from holding her the whole time (even seated and with the Ergo, it was still challenging). But I'm glad I did it anyway.

And I take comfort knowing that next time Paloma travels, Daddy's carrying her. :)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

homage to my fabulous husband

My husband is the most brilliant physicist. My sister is a brilliant health psych professor who loves Chamillionaire's song "Ridin' Dirty." Weird Al brings them together with his parody, "White and Nerdy." Let the hilarity ensue...