we can do hard things

Kia Ora ladies and gentlegeeks,

August already. The almond tree outside my office is in bloom already, and I relish standing underneath and basking in the buzzing. I reckon that I have buzzed out about that very phenomenon on this very blog, on previous years. Consistent, or boring?

It’s nice to count the good bits, eh. The bad bits clamour for attention and our poor little prehistoric brains can struggle to deal with the slow burning dread of our multiple crises: global pandemic, voracious inequalities, heating planet – our stress response systems weren’t made for this shizz.

The hard things I’m referring to do include living in the shadows of those aforementioned disasters, but hard things extend even beyond those. My li’l girl is away on her first school camp – we talked about how ‘excited’ and ‘nervous’ can feel like they sit side by side in our bodies. We are both excited by the temporary respite from some of our routines, and we have both been nervous about being separated.

Did you hear about the downturn in premature births during the pandemic? Pretty wild! And it shouldn’t surprise us that children are making sense of the COVID via play – cos that’s how kids make sense of the world.

Multitudes of tech related links … cos … y’know. This one is about the way kids’ tech habits mimic their parents’ (see … they get it “protect developing brains”. YES. (I do love the Hechinger report… check it out, it’s all about reducing inequalities in education) and if you don’t protect those li’l brains, they’ll fail to direct small bodies to adequately move. I’m talking about inactive toddlers. C’mon! Toddlers are designed to be active. It’s right there in their name! They toddle!

now check out this news item from India, sharing their struggles with excessive screen time at the moment.This is a piece from The Conversation in Australia about similar concerns.Jeez, whaddya do? Go to school too soon and risk COVID or succumb to online school and wind up depressed and cross eyed? Oh, for real, I offer my thoughts and angst to all the teachers in the USA … here is a tragically sad piece written by a teacher and published by McSweeneys. Speaking of school – in unrelated news, here is a piece how about how boys bear the brunt of school discipline.

Let’s be as informed as we can manage, lovelies. Try this piece from Common Sense Media about Tweens, Teens, Tech and Mental Health … worth a look … and HOLY DING DONG listen to this episode of the Being Well podcast: an interview with Stephen Porges.

Look for the Helpers – here is a strong piece of work by ARACY – the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth – it’s about Building Children’s Potential. Here’s a bit by our man Rick Hanson about looking after mothers (or, as I like to yell at my family, periodically: “MUMS RULE!”) THIS is a funny bit of satire from McSweeneys, here is a link to some kiwi made masks, and here is a collection of lessons from the great Brain Pickings. ENJOY x x x

PS: shout out to Glennon Doyle, whose book Untamed brought “you can do hard things” into lovely, crispy focus x x x

trust the experts, already.

Kia Ora friends.

So, I’ve overheard a few comments and had enough conversations to make me want to share this notion publicly … it’s about racism, and political correctness, and adapting behaviour. It’s also about white ladies thinking they can decide what racism is, what an appropriate accommodation might be to facilitate goodness for all, or whether it even exists in NZ (*It DOES).

(I’m sure white dudes do it too, but my analogy works best with ladies, so bear with)

To those nice white ladies I say:”Honey. I’m a nice white lady too. And I gotta tell you, you are not the best person to decide when protests have gone on long enough or what is an acceptable level of outrage about issues of race. Here’s the thing: y’know how some blokes will stare at your boobs when they’re talking to you? Hell, some blokes will stare at your boobs even when they’re not talking to you. You know what that’s like? To have dudes just stare at your boobs? “

Yes, yes. The ladies will say. For boob-starers are everyhwere.

Now, if I was to ask many men to assess whether they think women experience frequent boob staring, or if boob-staring is a problem, indeed if an individual friend of theirs is a boob-starer, those men would be likely to downplay or deny the issue. Because THEY ARE NOT THE ONES HAVING THEIR BOOBS STARED AT.

So, my dear white lady, for you to question a person’s experience of racism (or their expression of outrage at the existence of racism) just because you have not tasted the foul effects of that racism yourself, is as idiotic as inviting a man to decide whether boob staring is real, or problematic, or how annoyed women should be by it.

Trust women. Our boobs are frequently stared at. We are the experts here.

Trust people of colour. They experience racism. They are the experts about this.

I’m not trying to be glib or silly, I am truly trying to find an analogy that my people – the nice white ladies – can understand.

While we are trusting the experts in the respective fields, can we have a moment of silence for the death of sanity in the USA? Ay yi yi.

I’ll go back to my Results chapter in a jiff. Very challenging/humbling, as I am not a fluent speaker of Statistics, or a terribly proficient writer of code. Baby steps, snail’s pace.

Meanwhile, a few links to enjoy, if you’re still with me!

This is a wonderful website called “our words matter”, which is a collection of useful ideas and writing about what’s afoot in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Also homegrown, here is the reaction from Sensible Screen Use to the Reboot report I posted a while back.

Looks like Facebook are FINALLY getting served a tiny amount of comeuppance following their years of divisive nonsense. Here is a piece about resignations within the company, and just within the last 24 hours, more and more companies are pulling advertising. About time.

This is a li’l something from Harvard about a silver lining in the pandemic cloud: closer relationships between dads and their kids, which is good news, because elsewhere we have learned that increased parental stress points to less effective safeguards around screen use.

Some satire here, from the good folk at McSweeney’s … all parents of toddlers (past or present) will relate to this. THIS is a link to an article I wrote for OHbaby! about doing more by doing less, and this link to the Plum Village whānau will give you opportunities to join meditation practice with experts, which will help with … everything.

compassion and social distancing

For a while there, the public health professionals were trying to amend the term “social distancing” and replace it with “physical distancing”. This was an acknowledgement of the fact that we are inherently social l’il mammals and we needed to prioritise our emotional bonds even as we severed physical ones.

Anyway, I’m very physically distanced from the pain in the USA and simultaneously socially tied and connected. My husband was born there, my daughters are hybrid citizens. One of my dearest mama friends is Minnesotan, we danced and laughed in Minneapolis when I was 23. I had no idea, then, how advantageous my fair complexion was as I moved through the world. I wouldn’t hear the phrase “white privilege” until 1999, which was years later.

Party over, oops … out of time.

As a sidenote, all hail the Program for Infant Toddler Care in California. I was lucky enough to do their training in the late 90s. I remember a photocopied handout, “unpacking the invisible backpack of white privilege”, a solid 10-15 years before the concept began to be explored in the wider world. Early childhood teachers have long been the avant garde practitioners of that which will prove to be even more important than we could have quantified.

Anyway, so I”m rambling on because I’m in pain and a bit muddled.

Here’s what I think we could do. And by “we” I mean the work-from-home mums, the mums on the opposite side of the world to the protests.

If we can afford it, we can chip in a few bucks to help one of the organisations supporting those making a stand for justice in the USA. Here is a link to fundraising campaigns supporting bail for protestors in these various cities. This is the Action Center on Race & the Economy, they highlight issues of racial injustice, highlighting the need for wall st. accountability. Just a couple of options.

And if you are someone who works with kids (or if you have kids), be even more ready than usual to have some conversations with them about race. This is an awesome resource from the National Museum of African American History & Culture, and here’s some more ideas, … um … y’know … that’s us.

Then we gotta surf that line between staying informed about the world’s events, (even if via satirical works that are brilliant and hilarious and tragic … like THIS heartbreaking, knee-slapping McSweeney’s gem. Or THIS one)(or, for flip’s sake, THIS ONE) and keeping a lid on telly, internet, smartphone for reasons of self preservation. If no news is good news, how much time should we really devote to the news?

(not to mention the fact that we are still having our data mined, pandemic or no, race riots nonewithstanding. The world might be on fire, but too much time on devices is still messing with kids’ minds. In fact, it’s arguably worse, because so many kids are online even more during lockdowns all over the world – homeschooling or recreating. This has led to a terrifying increase in online sexual exploitation of children , among other ills. And we cannot really trust them (tech companies), because they keep proving themselves to be such snakes. ) Sigh.

Mind our influences. Listen to beautiful music, watch some stand up comedy, go for a blimmin walk. Support your favourite online physical (& therefore mental!) health expert. I love this local gal, and I love this local gal, and this one, all of whom have made switches to some kind of online delivery to support their communities. AND I love this international practitioner of strength, who has always had an online community! Thanks to all the people helping people to keep moving! You too, Adriene!

But yeah, if you can, donate.

on mites, lice, and COVID-19

Kia Ora lovelies. What a time to be alive, eh? Lessons a-plenty, as seen here in this bit of deliciousness showcasing the work of the awesome Bagshaws. (And Lyndon Puffin, no less!)

I’ve been putting my faith in Dr Bloomfield and Ms Adern, which was easy when we were on full on lockdown (I heart home) but it’s been a test today … sending kids back to school … YIKES.

Part of the reason for my trepidation is my first hand experience with what happens when one gets too lax, too fast, about controlling a vile outbreak. During lockdown, I had to sort lice from a child’s head and mites in my henhouse. Lemme tell you: you gotta keep your foot on the gas or outbreaks return without regard. Ya hear me, Ministry of Education? Did you SEE this proposed future, laid out by NZ Geographic? We gotta be careful!

Trusting you, Dr Bloomfield. Trusting you …

Some more links now, some COVID resources from Bruce Perry & pals, and this article from Reuters is about the need for green solutions in the rebooting of economies. There is lots we can do as individuals, too … like these inspiring ideas from Retrosuburbia.

Meanwhile, here is a post from Sensible Screen Use which reminds us that all this online education is experimental, this is an important portal to thinking about digital use and wellbeing at the mo, thanks be to the Center for Humane Tech, because let’s not forget: too much tech isn’t great for kids. It’s like the mites: they don’t care if there’s a pandemic on. It’s like the potential for damage to my dear wee liver because of excessive alcohol consumption … it still counts, pandemic or no.

Finally, here is an article from the NY Times which explains how and why Zoom can feel so unsatisfactory.

I mean, thank you Zoom, you’ve been helpful, but y’ain’t face to face. You can’t help it.

OH … by the way … today’s picture shows the latest issue of OHbaby!, which features an article I wrote. It’s about Growing Great Flatmates, and i hope you will enjoy it 😉

OldTryCovidPosters-01Kia Ora e hoa ma, g’day mates. Here is another lovely image from the talented folk at The Old Try.  Free to download!  If you’ve a printer, put one on your fridge!

We have at-home schooling starting in NZ today – I’ve tried to put some reasonable guardrails in place for my two. Sorry to say, but there are still a great many reasons to be cautious about tech.  I know people are all jazz-hands about online learning, but let’s not forget that kids’ data is still being harvested, that children need our protection from online sexual predation (MORE THAN EVER), or that we learn best hands-on, pen & paper, face to face.  And we gotta get outside to play!

Not to be all Captain Bringdown … just speaking truths that are STILL TRUE.

Here’s some lovely stuff, to counteract the grimness … some beautiful tips from a zen master for staying sane in challenging times are here, and this is a cool little video clip about making it out of lockdown without murdering anyone in one’s bubble. Here are some cool ideas for families from the excellent Sparklers website, and darlings: make space for your grief.

Another tech caution is HERE, in an article I wrote for OHbaby!, and here is a lil’l something from the brilliant Bruce Perry about responses to trauma (which I suspect an unprecedented number of people will be relating to, right now!) and if that all has you feeling a little verklempt try moving your body! Take it away Sam Shorkey!

Or try a little meditation, thank you Adriene 😉

Love y’all x xx take care x x x arohanui x x x

 

look for the helpers

flatten curveKia Ora my friends.The beautiful image to the left is one of the series of free, lovely downloads from the awesome people at The Old Try.

You know what awesome Fred Rogers is quoted as saying? “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.””

Oh, bless you Mr. Rogers.

Look for the helpers, my friends.

Like here: in Singapore. And here: Yoga with Adriene.

 

And look for the beauty – like those aforementioned prints, like these phenomenal cross stitch patterns, and like this bit of amazing news about the return of swans and dolphins to the canals of Venice.  And how lovely to witness adults being playful, as in this collection of lockdown vids from Huff Po. I know … it’s confusing.  The ‘net is both blessing and curse.

A couple of COVID specific screen time resources here, for all the kids spending extra time at home …there is a well-timed webinar coming right up from our friends at the Children’s Screen Time Action Network, and Common Sense Media will help you tread a little more carefully in the digital world, and I humbly offer an article I wrote some months (years!) ago, with some info about offline play for little ‘uns. 

Also: cut yourself a little slack, in the meantime! Good enough parenting, darlingsFeel those feels and let the kidlets feel theirs too!  

We still gotta be careful about all the time online, pals. This is an article from the Guardian about how YouTube is an agent of radicalisation (if you didn’t hear this episode of the Undivided Attention podcast interviewing Guillaume Chaslot, it explains this notion v. well).

What else? Gotta bring it on home so I can go meet little girl off school bus.  Yup, still running in NZ.

Here is a guest post I wrote, about screen free week in NZ.  

And finally: RIP Ron Lally.  He was a tireless advocate for children and he helped change my professional trajectory.  He was kind and decent to me, we hung out both here and in Cali, and we in the field have lost a giant.

I only recently learned of his death, and I wept.

many links for geeky friends

Kia Ora e hoa ma,

Many amazing things for you to read, coming right up.

First, from the World Health Organisation, about the needs of li’l kids.  I love how they cut through the dross and tell it like it is!  Here is a gift from the folks at New Dream, about being an effective change maker in 2020.

And now … a bunch of tech links.  Cos I gotta.  The first comes from MIT, the prestigious technology based university.  I highlight that source, because you cannot accuse them of being anti tech!  And if they are concerned about use of tech in the classroom, we oughta be concerned. From NZ, now, a summary of research that led to some recommendations for classrooms. Thanks, Sensible Screen Use!

 

(I wrote this piece a few years back: for OHbaby! about school readiness … might have to pitch another one with an emphasis on countering the over-technification of too many of our classrooms!)  I would begin by sharing the NEW ACTION KIT from the Children’s Screen Time Action Network. 

Outside the classroom: here’s a write up of an initiative to get kids to put down their phones, and here is a link to that initiative (“Look Up”). Kids can function just fine without phones, enjoy this story from the NY Times as evidence!

We do need to be a little more nuanced in our thinking about all this … the Human Screenome Project is one interesting example. 

From a speech language perspective, this is for parents about their own tech use, and this is about the need for sharing books with babies … books made of paper, not digital ones.

Children in NZ also need us to pay attention to the fact that so many of them are living in poverty, they need our support in getting outdoors and being a little free range, and let’s not forget the emotional development or the magical glial cells!

Finally, cos I gotta go drive a carload of kids to some swimming sports … I am coveting this.  Is that shallow or WHAT?

a love letter to my wrinkles

Photo on 27-01-20 at 1.52 PM #4Dear Wrinkles,

I like how when I gently separate the smile lines around my eyes, it reveals little pale stripes. This tells me that the summer (and my life!) has involved so much laughter and amusement that it has altered our landscape, creating little white valley floors.  Cute!

And as for that monstrous chasm between my eyebrows (aka my “MacGyver line“), I kinda love you too.  You exist like a sheer cliff face because you reflect the depth of my care, my concern, my outrage. With so much trouble in the world, none of us oughta have an unfurrowed brow.

Babies in cages? Languages dying? Planet heating?  …Until we can sort out a thing or two, there is too much to frown about.

Yikes, just today I have learned about the untimely death of poor Kobe Bryant & his little girl. Consider their surviving family … right there is grounds for a compassionate frown!

Other things that are frown-worthy: the increasing concerns surrounding smartphone use in the presence of our babies, that previous link from the NZ Herald, and over here in a professional setting from the good folk at The Conversation: same, same.

Anyway, Just letting a couple of things off my chest before January runs away on me.

And she’s a big one, e hoa ma. January 2020. New decade.

Oh, George Michael sang it beautifully back in the day:

Now everybody’s talking about this
New decade
Like you say the magic numbers
Then just say goodbye to
The stupid mistakes you made
Oh my memory serves me far too well

That was released in 1990, which does not seem that long ago to me! I still think that album sounds totally relevant. Current. But realistically, heaps of things have changed. It was 30 frickin years ago. I was 15. Now I’m a motherless mother of 2, a wife and homeowner. I can still dance to George Michael but let’s make it snappy cos I’ve got to get dinner ready.

Life changes. Which brings me back to the love letter to my wrinkles. …

My vestige of valleys. The creasy crew, the liney lot. You are a series of stories on my face, and I wouldn’t be without any of you. The longer I live, the more of you there shall be.  So, while I’ll continue to wear sunscreen everyday and slather on the moisturiser at night, I’ll welcome each of your entrenchments as evidence of a life lived fully.

Love,

mm x x x

PS, In other news, here is an article I wrote for OHbaby! a while ago about looking after our beautiful bodies, this is an article from Scientific American about the brain’s penchant for our bodies being exercised, and – similarly – HOLLER to the other peeps who are enjoying Adriene’s 30 day yoga programme = HOME. I’m about to do day 24! No frowning there.

’tis the season …

IMG_0570Kia Ora friends,

Here is a picture of me reading the latest OHbaby! under the Christmas tree… because
’tis the season for a link dump, fa la la la laaaaaa…

This excellent summer issue of OHbaby! holds an article I wrote, and many I didn’t!  All good though!

With apologies for having abandoned this faithful blog in recent weeks, I return with a plethora of interesting reading for the geekily inclined.

First up, hot off the (virtual) press: Here is an excellent piece from the NY Times, written by Tristan Harris (he of Center for Humane Tech fame).  It’s about our dear wee Paleolithic brains dealing with the Godlike capacities of tech. Then you might read this article from vox.com, it challenges the idea that our relationships with tech are aligned with evolution.

Some interesting stuff here about the youth: this piece from our pals at Sensible Screen Use is about the potential legal ramifications for schools & boards if children are harmed by their tech use while at school, here is an article linking teen smartphone use with ADHD, and this is an article from Ed Week about how bad kids are at spotting fake news, and LOOK! You can counter that by sharing this awesome resource about fact checking skills for students (thanks, Mike Caulfield!).

Let’s just ask the question, then: does educational technology really help students learn?

Check out the flash new website of the magnificent Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, and then ponder this article, which alleges that parents only spend 24 more minutes per day with their kids than they do with their phones.

A couple of gorgeous links here celebrating PLAY and specifically loose parts play. Loose Parts were all the rage in ECE circles toward the end of last century, and I”m happy to see discussion of their awesomeness again. THIS is an article from Penn State University, about observing children during such play, and this is from closer to home, from Education HQ.

Here is a report which confirms what you probably already instinctively knew: Work-Life conflict is stressing us out, and this is a report from Common Sense Media about youth screen use in 2019.

A few more tech links, now: this is a link to Richard Freed’s blog.  His latest piece reminds people about the parallels between the tech industry and the tobacco industry, blaming the individual user for becoming addicted (rather than amending the addictive nature of the products…).\ HERE is a story about learning to think (without the internet) again, and THIS is from the Guardian in the UK, another little something about the immorality of Facebook as they count alcohol and gambling amongst childrens’ interests. Nice! (not).  Which is worse?  That nonsense, or THIS spying by the period tracker app and the pushing of antenatal products by FB advertisers?

How about some yumminess to close … I LOVE this, from Scientific American … what can we learn from the advice we’d give our younger selves? (My advice: frown less & smile more, and always always always with the sunscreen!) here is a wonderful article from Simplicity Parenting about knife skills for kids (I’m so into it!) AND from New Dream.org … ideas for simplifying the holidays.  

Arohanui, y’all x x x

the kindness of strangers

Mims-Ad-Facebook-Landscape

Kia Ora ladies and gentlegeeks,

It’s Labour weekend, and sunny.  I gotta go have yummy family time or at least get my sorry self into a shower, but first, I must express my gratitude to all the kind young mamas-to-be who have been enquiring about participating in research.

I was just hanging washing and reflecting on the generosity and curiosity of these familiar strangers. I’m an ol’ hippy from way back and I’d describe my vibe as :Feeling the love.

Tell you what though, my beautiful moment was marred by the realisation that I didn’t have sunscreen on my arms and that is reckless behaviour.

I’ll need a few Brene moments and a revamp of the morning routine.

Thanks to colleagues at OHbaby!, Plunket, KiwiParent, Family Times, and Tots to Teens, and the Brainwave Trust … also thanks to my buddy Nathan. What are these lovelies up to? They are helping to spread the word the research project I’m part of at the University of Canterbury.

Which circles me back to the warmth and gratitude I’m feeling toward the young women who have reached out via email… Arohanui x x x

Anyway, if I may return to the business of this blog and do a quick link dump? Then I’ll go rip into Labour Weekend.

First up: this link will take you to a well researched, well written article about kids and tech, by Keryn O’Neil at Brainwave.  Kia Ora.

And teacher friends … look at this exceptional blog about teaching media literacy to students. It’s called Four Moves, it’s all about fact checking, and it’s the work of Mike Caulfield, in the Pacific Northwest of the USA, but I’m going to leave you to check that fact.  Labour Weekend, etc., that’s why.

This is an interesting finding, from The Conversation in Australia, about how teens who don’t play organised sport seem to be pretty much as active as their pals who do.  Although perhaps those findings wouldn’t apply to the young uns described in this story from the Guardian, about overuse of video games. 

And I cannot get enough of this podcast. I adore Dolly Parton (remind me to tell you the story about the time I saw her at Nashville airport TRUE STORY) and I love Radiolab so this is a win.

 

PS GO THE MIGHTY ALL BLACKS.