HOT: Time Lapse of Independent Nine Month Old

On one level, this video is simply highly entertaining. Who would have thought that a nine month old that can’t even walk yet would be able to do circle work?

But moreso, this video really spoke to me because it reinforced a parenting principle that I’m hoping to put into effect with the NKOTB.  As with all pre-arrival statements made on this blog, feel free to take this with a grain of salt, but at this stage, I’m really hoping to be disciplined enough to employ a parenting approach that allows the NKOTB to be able to occupy itself independently without constant parental attention. Obviously I don’t intend to ignore her or starve her of attention, but it’s important to me that she be able to develop an independent mindset from an early age. I don’t want her to be reliant on something external to herself to occupy her mind or time (even if its me).

Not sure if that makes sense. But I’ve got a strong vibe about this!

NOT: The Festival of Me

So I was crunching on my cheese on toast this morning when I came across Mia Freedman’s article ‘Drawing the party line‘. Basically in it she talks about the plethora of new ‘traditions’ springing up and whose main purpose seems to be separating your loved ones from their cash or their free time.

The sentence that really hit home for me and the one that’s inspired me to interrupt my Sunday breakfast to blog was this ‘Where is the sensitivity to the fact that people have busy lives and financial pressures and may not want to devote days, nights and hundreds of dollars to the festival of All-About-You? Especially when their circumstances may be in stark contrast to those of the people they’re being asked to shell out for.’

It is precisely for that reason that I didn’t want any sort of engagement party. I chose not to have a hen’s night/day/weekend before my wedding. I don’t think I’ll be inviting my mostly childless friends who work full time to celebrate the birthday of a barely walking/talking/eating solids NKOTB.

That’s not to say that I think it was wrong of my friends to hold engagement parties or hen’s events or first birthday parties (or baby showers or kitchen teas or whatever). When I’ve been invited to these celebrations I have always gone along to be part of their joy with an open heart and bearing presents .

But I personally feel uncomfortable with all of this enforced and endless gift-giving. Especially when I know that some of my friends and family are in much tighter financial circumstances than me.

So for those of my lovely friends who have asked whether I’m having a baby shower, the answer is no. I also don’t expect any gifts from you before or after the baby’s born but any that are given will be gratefully and graciously received (see Amazon Baby Register if you like).

However, what I will be having is a sushi shower. Because I haven’t been eating sushi all through my pregnancy and I’m really craving it. So this is the plan: after the birth I’ll gather my girlfriends on a weekend, have lunch at a cheap Japanese restaurant in the city, get Tim to bring the baby around for cuddles and gushing for a limited period, then get back to having adult conversations that aren’t all about me, my baby and my life.

HOT: Amazon Baby Register

Usually Joyce and I aren’t the ‘register’ types.

We didn’t have one at our wedding and we intentionally aren’t have a baby shower for the NKOTB because we wanted to avoid the formalised gift giving thing.

But friends and family have convinced us that gift giving was difficult for some people and that they quite appreciated being guided towards something that would be practical and actually wanted.

So, partly inspired by this, and partly inspired by the fantastic Aus-US exchange rate at the moment, Joyce and I have decided to set up an Amazon Baby Register.

It’s got lots of positive female role models (Dora the Explorer, Madeline, the Paperbag Princess), high culture ABC and 123 books from the world’s great art galleries and some old childhood favourites. Plus some practical items like baby monitors and playpens.

So if you want to find a ‘HOT’ gift for NKOTB and don’t really know where to begin – this might be the place to go…

HOT: Free Range Kids

I’m filing this one under the “Makes Sense Now And I’m Going to be Trying Really Hard To Remember This After NKTOB Arrives”:

In a nutshell, Free Range Kids is the brain child of Lenore Skenazy, an American mum and journalist who was shocked when the rest of America was shocked when she allowed her 9 year old sun to ride the New York subway without adult supervision. Bemused by the reaction, Skenazy started doing some research about the incidence rates of common parental fears and found that most parents are very poor judges of risk. Not only that, but that parents’  over-protective, cotton wool response to these imagined risks was undermining kids’ sense of independence and ability to look after themselves.

As the Free Range Kids Manifesto states:

“(Child abduction) is a horrible tragedy. It makes my stomach plunge to even think about it. But when the numbers are about 50 kids in a country of 300 million, it’s also a very random, rare event. It is far more rare, for instance, than dying from a fall off the bed or other furniture. So should we, for safety’s sake, all start sleeping on the floor?

… It’s crazy to limit our lives based on fear of a wildy remote danger.

… Not that facts make any difference. Somehow, a whole lot of parents are just convinced that nothing outside the home is safe. At the same time, they’re also convinced that their children are helpless to fend for themselves. While most of these parents walked to school as kids, or hiked the woods — or even took public transportation — they can’t imagine their own offspring doing the same thing.

They have lost confidence in everything: Their neighborhood. Their kids. And their own ability to teach their children how to get by in the world. As a result, they batten down the hatches.

….

So I started this site for anyone who thinks that kids need a little more freedom and would like to connect to people who feel the same way.

We are not daredevils. We believe in life jackets and bike helmets and air bags. But we also believe in independence.

Children, like chickens, deserve a life outside the cage. The overprotected life is stunting and stifling, not to mention boring for all concerned.

So here’s to Free Range Kids, raised by Free Range Parents willing to take some heat. I hope this web site encourages us all to think outside the house.”

Hear, hear.

She’s been doing an Australian tour recently including a talk at The Wheeler Centre and an interview with Red Kerry on The 7:30 Report:

After her Australian media tour, it’s reassuring to read her reflections on Australian attitudes:

“The Australian media have been very keen on the Free-Range Kids story. I’ve done more than a dozen TV, radio and print interviews so far,  but it wasn’t until this morning, when I was on a drive-time radio talk show, that I finally heard the words: “Oh, I could never let my child out of my sight. I just couldn’t live with myself if something terrible happened.”

What’s amazing is that this is pretty much what I hear EVERY time I am interviewed in America. So it seems as if catastrophizing every aspect of childhood has not yet fully taken root here. Oh, yes, fear is creeping in, and so is the idea that parents can and should control every aspect of their kids’ lives. But this obsessive outlook just doesn’t seem quite as pervasive here in Australia.”

Anyway, the Free Range Kid Blog is a great sanity check and hopefully a timely bulwark against the onset of American style Paranoia Parenting in Australia.

As I say, I’m really going to try hard to remember this once NKOTB arrives…

HOT: Anna Castelli Ferrieri Componibili

So apparently babies come with a whole load of crap (literal and metaphorical). Nappies, constant changes of clothes, powders, lotions and all kinds of things I haven’t even thought of yet.

So what’s design minded parent to do about the increased storage requirements?

Well, we haven’t tried it the field yet, but we’re thinking that Anna Castelli‘s 5 layer Ferrieri Componibili could be the answer. It’s got an excellent storage capacity to floor space ration (critical for cramped inner city living), easy access sliding doors and is such a style icon that the original design has been on display in New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

It’ll be interesting to see whether the modern Italian design cache is able to withstand a screaming/vomiting/defecating child, but I think this has got as good a shot as any storage unit out there.

Replicas available from Matt Blatt, the unfortunately named, but excellent modern furniture retailers.

HOT: Fitwise Mammas exercise classes

Medical opinion is unanimous on one thing when it comes to pregnancy – it is important to maintain a healthy diet and keep doing light exercise as much as you can during your term.

As a result, I’ve supplemented my gym membership and short bike commute with some group exercise classes designed for pregnant and post-natal women, run by a physiotherapy clinic called Fitwise.

Why did I choose Fitwise? Basically because they are located between my work and home, the classes are pretty reasonably priced ($225 for 10 classes) and most importantly I can claim the class fees as part of my private health insurance because it’s run by physiotherapists. Once I have the baby I’ll be able to bring her along to the classes as well.

My first class last week was the Fitball Combo, described as ‘low impact aerobics and weights followed by pilates to strengthen your deep abdominal muscles and pelvic floor.’  When I turned up I surreptiously checked out everyone else’s girth and it seemed that the students ranged from a-bit-of-a-tum to heavily pregnant.

The class started off with what you’d generally consider a normal aerobic warm – all done on a fitball. I have to confess I felt a bit foolish going heel taps and marching on the spot while perched on a ball. I mean I was pregnant but still reasonably energetic, I could still stand up and bear my weight! But my smugness wore off once we moved to pushups against the wall, side-stepping while lifting the ball and light weights. I found myself turning red with exertion while everyone else seemed quite sanguine about the level of effort – it was hard work!

Anyway, I woke up sore the next day and that Fitball Combo class is possibly the toughest workout I’ve done since becoming pregnant. I’m heading to the Pedal Combo tonight and will see whether I can walk tomorrow.

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