Monday, June 30, 2008

Correcting My Parents

A national survey was done on 3,000 American adults to measure the amount of accurate knowledge they possess about child development. The results were a bit negative but not surprising. Many people often think they know things because they are "smart enough" and don't need knowledge from books. At less this is what my brother told me as he pointed to his temple area on his noggin.

Some examples of the results of the report are:

"44% of parent of young children incorrectly believe that picking up a three month old every time he cries will spoil him."

"29% of all adults do not understand that brain development can be impacted very early on."

26% of all adults incorrectly believe that a child as young as six months will not suffer any long-term effects from witnessing violence."

"67% of all adults incorrectly believe that working parents cannot develop a bond with their children as strong as stay-at-home parents."

Only 12% of people understood that infants 6 months and younger can experience depression. 51% thought only children 3 and older could become depressed.

"Almost 40% of parents of young children are likely to believe that a child’s behavior is based on revenge at too young an age."

(I never understood why Parents think their kids are vengeful? Yet I have heard parents say such things.)

"More than one in four parents of young children expect a three-year-old to be able
to sit quietly for an hour, yet child development research shows that they are not
developmentally ready to do so."

(I have seen parents insist on their kid sitting a special events for upwards of an hour and then punish the kid with a time out (more sitting) for not sitting still.)

"45% of parents of young children incorrectly believe that letting a two-year-old get down from the dinner table to play before the rest of the family has finished is spoiling."

"61% of parents of young children and 62% of all adults condone spanking as a
regular form of punishment. This finding is surprising, given that while many parents condone spanking as a regular form of punishment, many also understand that this can lead to children
acting more aggressively, and that it will
not lead to better self-control."

"The Education Factor: Among parents of young children, a four-year college degree
is the single largest differentiator between those who know more about child devel-
opment versus those who know less. Parents with a high school education or less
need more information on child development."

"The Generation Gap: There are significant generational differences between parents of
young children and grandparents regarding “spoiling.” Grandparents are more likely than
current parents of young children to view appropriate caregiving activities as spoiling."

DYG Inc. (2000). What grown-ups understand about child development: A national benchmark survey: Civitas Initiative, Zero To Three, BRIO Corporation.

The Survey


This is a video focused on breastfeeding in third world countries. But I think we all can learn from this new born baby as it "crawls" toward her mom's breast, latches and feeds.

Finding Help During Pregnacy and Birth

I have never liked the word "birth". It is just a odd sounding utterance to me...

To get to the point of my post, finding help. And help can come in a variety of ways. After finding out I was pregnant I quickly started doing research. I Googled, read books, magazines, and research papers. I learned about everything from cloth diapers & carriers to thermometers & understanding babies have different kinds of cries. Of course everything can't be learned from text in a book that is why there is photos and videos. I love . See the video at bottom of this blog to learn how to ware a Mei Tai carrier.

I wish I knew about all the organizations and books before I had my baby. Here is a short list with a Buffalo, NY focus. But most cities have their own sister organizations.

The Vaccine Book
What To Expect When You Are Expecting
What To Expect The First Year
Raising Baby Green

Buffalo Birthing Network
La Leche League (Breastfeeding)
You can also start or find your local baby sitting co-op.

There is also the phone book which is where you'll find local businesses that have cloth diaper services and phone numbers to stores that you'll want to call ahead to make sure they carry the item you are looking for. For instance, I live in the middle of the city of Buffalo the Babies- R- Us store is in the suburbs. The dilemma was that the local grocery didn't carry glass baby bottles. I needed to make a trip to the BRU for the bottles and it was a good thing I called. There was a run on glass bottles and they were out of them for a month.

Some key words when searching on the internet: Birthing Network, Natural Birth, Consignment Store (insert your city name also) and Baby sitting co-op.

Also, has been my near and dear friend. Ordering in bulk on-line has saved us about $50 a month and that does not include the vehicle/bus and gas needed to go to the store. Or the fact that shipping is free and delivered to my door. If we had to own a car just because I now have a kid it would add an addition $400-$500 a month for a machine that only depreciates in value. Instead of having a vehicle on my balance sheet as a liability I put money in my kids college fund. $50 today appreciated over 18 years will pay for a couple books for school. And every penny counts.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gardening - Part Three

Along with going to the farmer's market on Bidwell Ave I like to watch the garden shows on PBS. One of the shows showed a woman and her traditional food garden. One section had plants that compliment each other. She had combined corn, pole bean and squash which are all native to North America. I believe the bean plant fixes nitrogen in the soil which helps the corn and squash grow. The corn acts as a trellis so the pole bean can grow up the stalk. The squash vines grow on the ground and probably have another purpose as a compliment. Possibly the squash works as a ground cover helping to keep moisture in the soil and not evaporate.

I potted sunflowers with pole beans and pumpkin. I thought both the birds and my family would like the sunflowers. The beans and pumpkins will be fun too.

Surprisingly, the cotton tail bunnies seem to prefer the clover patches we left in the lawn and gardens then the food plants. The squirrels ate about a quarter of the sunflower seeds I planted directly into the garden beds but I put 3 seeds in each hole so no harm done. Nothing seems to be eating the plants which are now 3 feet tall. So, far so good.

I really did not know what to expect. But I am on my way to being an urban farmer.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Attachment Parenting

I did not know that the way we cared for our baby had a name, attachment parenting. I have learned a bit from some on line sources such as Dr. Sears . Much of our style just seemed to happen though. We rocked her to sleep, she slept with us and spouse carried her everywhere in a carrier. We also have a Stoke high chair so she can eat right at the table with us. And boy does she eat. We did most of this because we just like being together.

I think this affection is part of the reason why at 14 months she is 32 inches tall and 30 lbs which is much bigger then my spouse or me at this age. Yet, despite her size she stood holding onto furniture at 4.5 months (yes we have photo proof). We have videos of her at six months playing catch while sitting, and at 12 months doing a triple dribble with her little soccer ball. She also had about a dozen words including "cool" which she would screech whenever she saw fluffy socks. I am not totally sure of what to make of it all. But I keep up as best I can. I really did have the preconceived notion that babies were "baby like" longer not mini linebackers at 12 months.

I just finished putting baby to sleep. She laid on her green blanket while listening to some songs I put into a play list on She loves the Big Green Rabbit and Eric Herman songs. Kind of folksy and I could listen to them again and again. She smiled and smiled. She kicked her legs gently and turned her face to look me in the eyes with a big grin she held her arms around my neck. She just looked so satisfied, happy, and content. She turned away her head, towards the music then once again with joy hugged me and past out.

You know I always wondered what happiness was. My childhood has several rough spots. I think to me happiness is not just running a successful corporation or taking great trips around the world (though they do kick butt even if they are on a tight budget at youth hostels). Nor is it just enjoying my sunflowers that I planted in my backyard or the shade provided by my senior citizen silver maple tree. I believe, for me, happiness is all those great little moments of having the opportunity to appreciate my kid. I am really lucky to have her in my life.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Toddler Bed Co-Sleeping

Our baby slept in a crib in our room for the first month or two. We bought an organic cotton mattress with chemical free wool batting (stuffing) and a rubber tree support in the middle. Rubber is like a substitute for a spring but more comfortable. It fit her crib well. It was thicker then most baby mattresses. But I researched several of them and found that I wanted one because 1. baby would not inhale chemicals 2. I believe a comfortable mattress develops good sleep habits. 3. The mattress could be transferred to a toddler bed and I could get three-four years out of it.

But she gravitated into our bed. It worked out well. She took naps on our bed and slept there at night. It helps that we saved up and bought a king size Japanese style platform bed while I was pregnant. (We now own a whopping 4 pieces of furniture: a kitchen table from a second hand store, a futon in the living room, a dresser and our bed.) We thought our sleep was important enough to spend a bit of cash on a good sleeping set up. We figured that our kid's sleep was just as important and she should value a good nights sleep. I know I am a complete idiot if I don't get sleep. Both she and I walk into door frames when we are tired.

We recently inherited a toddler bed and slid it right up against our bed. Luckily it is a mission style wood bed with slats. Her mattress fit perfectly. We put her nursing pillow on it and she sleeps with her head in the middle (like a lucky horse shoe around her head). She stays on her bed until about 4 or 5am then inches her way onto our bed. We also got her use to sleeping with a stuffed bunny for companionship.

She is now 14 months, has been sleeping on her bed for a month and is doing rather well. Most doctors recommend waiting till the child is 35 inches tall. She was 31 inches at 13 months so she is big for her age though technically too short for a toddler bed. My thinking was that her bed is more like a co-sleeper and she just seemed ready. She was active by 11 months, she would slide to the edge of our bed, stand up as if getting off a chair and come running into the living room after a nap.

She goes for naps and to bed relatively easy. She does whimper when she loses her bottle of water and can't find it on her own in the middle of the night. But she gets plenty of sleep. We never have to wake her in the morning...she wakes us. I have read that bottles of water don't hurt babies at night because there is no sugar to rot out her teeth. And at her first dentist visit he said that her teeth looked great and a bottle of water would not hurts her. We also don't give her juice yet and we do brush her teeth before sleep. She loves brushing her teeth.

I like handing over small tasks for her to take control (though I do watch closely). We make her feel like she does have a choice and when she doesn't, the task is not a task but a chance to accomplish an achievement. We approach goals with enthusiasm.

Carpe Diem!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Socializing and its Benefits

My spouse, after our baby's play-dates left, made a comment that I managed to collect an intellectually stimulating and sociable group of friends for our baby. I stopped for a moment to think. Yes, the parents and the kids were great but it wasn't me that picked them out. I am good at keeping friends but not making friends. (I can be a bit intense.) It was our 1 year old who was going out of her way to smile, hug and vocalize at these children who happen to have cool parents. Then I would pop the question, "Would you want to get the kids together to play?"

This process really has me thinking. It has created a lot of questions and thoughts in general flying through my head. Why was baby attracted to certain kids and not others? Why was it that when baby was making friends with these kids it happened to be that the parents were also the type of people we would want to invite over again and again? Were we finding all these families in the same spot?

Location?...that might be it. We met one boy at the cafe, one near the ice creme shop court yard, and a little girl at... I think while walking by each other.

Speaking of meeting people ! Our baby went up to a little girl with pig tails that was sitting on her mom's lap in the grass. My baby thought it would be great to hold on to the little girl's pig my dismay...she can be rough. And then I realize this mom look familiar (and really cool). I had to remove baby's hand from her daughter's pig tail a few times. After the third time, I though to myself, I must live under a rock! It was Ani Difranco. She was so understanding, and down to earth.

(Back to the post) I think location is the key to finding playmates that are a good match. We happen to live in the Elmwood Village in Buffalo, NY. It is relatively diverse (compared to the rest of Western NY). The community has a variety of incomes and jobs. There are artists, college students, museum junkies, skateboard enthusiast, CEOs, investment bankers, bakers, shop keepers, theater goers, engineers, architects...etc. It really does seem too great at times. It is even family friendly but at the same time has a healthy night life. The community is supportive and creative. There are 14,000 of us jammed into a small area on the west side of the city.

The next thought in my head is that a diverse-vibrant community begets great people which produce well balanced playmates.

I don't know if I should smile and be grateful or be worried at the thought of my baby needing a Rolodex to help keep track of all her playmates. It is all good.

In summary I realized that these people in my community will have a major influence on my kid! These are the kids she will go to school with , talk with, and maybe date. When she is a teen she will be more receptive to other teens then me. I just paused. I am really, really grateful for living in such an environmentally and socially counscious neighborhood.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Gardening - Part Two

There is a local gardening store called Urban Roots here in Buffalo, NY that I buy pretty much all my stuff from. They carry everything from seeds, pots and starter peat moss cups to trees, plants, bird and bat houses.

Well, in my efforts to become an Uber Urban Farmer we (spouse and baby) bought: peat moss seed starter cups, seed starter soil (organic and no animal by products), organic seeds, bamboo sticks
(to use as trellises), terracotta pots, organic top soil and twine.

All the food plants we have we started in the peat moss cups with the starter soil. What is great is once the plant has sprung you can dig a hole and pop the whole cup right into the ground. We used our office/storage space as a nursery. Then transferred most of the plants to a raised area of dirt in the back yard. We kept several of the small plants in the house and put them in the terracotta pots with the organic soil. Top photo is combination pumpkin-bean-sunflowers in peat moss cups. Bottom photo is pole beans started in peat moss cups.

The most important notes are: 1. Read instructions on the seeds and peat moss cups. They are easy to understand and to the point. 2. Keep seed soil damp but not dripping wet.

My beans got a little dry but we saved them and my spouse had is celontro drowned in the rain but again they were saved.

I just had a flash back...I remember my mom telling me about how her in laws advised my father to not marry her and to marry the other girl who was an accountant. Until...They found out my mom was a gardener. Her in laws seemed to think that it was more important for my father to marry a woman who could teach the rest of the family how to grow tomatoes. Apparently, growing tomatoes was a more valued skill.