have yourself a geeky little Christmas

mama body issue coverKia Ora koutou, hello everybody!It has been a challenge to get to the computer, but I did it … even if just for a moment!  To the left is a quote I’m rather proud of – I have an article in the most recent issue of OHbaby! mag, about mother’s bodies and the need to care for ourselves.

My usual annual ban on wintery Christmas songs (White Christmas, Sleigh Ride, etc) is temporarily abated – it almost feels like winter, because the conditions in my kiwi summertime are so spazzy (hail, rain, chilly temperatures).  So what the heck, right?  I could try being, as my Big Girl would say, “all chill”.  Not my natural state!

Quick link dump for my friends, then I’m off to help Little Girl clean her bedroom – how could a person add gifts to chaos in good conscience?

Speaking of gifts, may we begin with this from the LA Times, it’s the advice of pediatricians this Christmas.  Just say NO to electronic toys!

Other useful gift ideas: I have made another donation to RAICES, which is an organisation in Texas that gives legal representation to children who have been separated from their parents at the border.  Seeking asylum is not a crime!   If you can watch that video without crying you’re exempt from donation, I guess (but you may find coal in your stocking on Tuesday).

I supplemented that donation with the purchase of ITMFA gear for those I love.  These small acts of resistance make it easier for me to spread kindness and joy, which I will continue to try doing, because the positive vibrations will have genuine impact!

May your festive season be full of family and love and mess and tasty treats.  May you play board games, go for slow waddles around the block, and have the opportunity for a nap … but please exercise caution if your nap strategy involves plying children with screens.  It is probably oK just that once, but unconscious screen use is a poor long-term solution, especially if the kidlets are super young.  And don’t trust the buggers  telling you it’s all chill!  Even schools have been seduced.   Exercise caution, friends.  Use critical thinking.  Even some cynicism might be useful here.

But before we slide into Grinch-y cynics all the time, here are some lush treats to close.  This is Fred Rogers’ Emmy acceptance speech from 1997 (LOVE HIM), here is a link to the Greater Good Science Center  at UC Berkley, and this is a TED talk from Ilona Stengel about the role of emotion in science (big emotions here: I’m still tearing up from rewatching the Mr Rogers bit!).

Enjoy this rare and magnificent treat: Terry Crews channels Bob Ross for a restful gift, and I cannot get enough of the Inspirobot …

Speaking of awesome advocates and wise folk no longer with us, I await the film about the late, great Celia Lashlie with bated breath and I send extra greetings to her whānau at this poignant time of the year.

Finally: if you are involved in early education in New Zealand in any capacity, please take some time this summer to have a jolly good look at the info about the ECE strategic plan, and make your voice heard!  

Arohanui, y’all x x x x

 

it’s fledgling season

E reads Earlybirdwhen I’m at my sink or at my desk I have views to different bits of lawn.  I can hear (I always hear them first cos they are LOUD) and see fledgling birds following their mothers around, and yelling for food.

It’s all I can do to not run out and give the fledglings a lecture.  They could find a sweeter tone when they call out, surely.  And then I’ll turn to the mother starling and insist she set some clear limits and encourage fledgling to develop the set of skills that will enable him to fend for himself, some day.

So I’ve been thinking about big ol’ fledglings, almost the same size as the parent but so clearly in need of their parents protection.  And then LO! and behold I went to a delicious and delightful book launch last night, for a lovely book called EARLYBIRD, by Julie Burgess-Manning with illustrations by Jenny Cooper. You can order your copy HERE.

Anyway, it is a beautiful picture book for children and families about a Pukeko family whose new egg hatches too soon, the care that egg must receive and the ways that the li’l Pukeko can (and does) flourish.  It will be such a gift for families to support understanding and hope during a really tricky time of life.  More and more babies are born prematurely, so lots of families could use a bit of extra support and let’s just say access to such support is patchy.  This book will help.   All hail, Champion Centre!

Other things that have been happening include a busy week of presenting and a final date for university work, and I foolishly had an expectation of kicking back thereafter.  Instead it’s catching up on appointments, tending to spring time garden, commitments with the kids, family stuff.  Which is all a blessing, to be sure, but sometimes I long to switch lives with my 11 year old nephew.  Muck around with a ball, eat, make fart jokes, do the occasional chore, eat, read, and sleep.  Oh, and hang out with your mates.

Sounds AMAZING.  That pretty much sounds like my dream holiday.  Throw in a lounger, some yoga, and cocktail hour, and I am on vay-cay!

But I’m the Auntie, not the nephew, so I’d better make the most of it.

Nerding out is one way I do that, so please do join me in a quick link dump before I go make dins for my peeps.

Alright: first up … I saw another awesome webinar from the Children’s Screen Time Action Network, this one features Nancy Carlsson Paige and her content is so good … well, all of them have been good.  Check out the archives HERE.   Annnnnnnnd, that webinar also served as an announcement for the release of this piece of goodness, it’s Dr Carlsson Paige’s Parent’s Guide to Young Children in the Digital Age: it is both free and wonderful.

Hey: I learned about this event “Roaring on Aotearoa” .. TOO LATE!  I have not read this book  or heard of this movement but it looks like my cup of tea, 100%.  Fingers crossed Santa could get that book for me.  Did any of y’all get to go?  Was it awesome?  I did manage to get tickets for this, though … turns out I’m a sucker for slapstick British comedy.  Blame my upbringing – big brothers = the Young Ones, etc.

Meanwhile, I thought this local bit about young leaders was both depressing and inspiring, and MATE our young people could use some back up, too … I ain’t lying about the need for caution around the tech and education for folks about the ways we’re being manipulated … in the meantime, we could all use the tech to look up loveliness like this recipe for simpler holidays from New Dream, then jot our favourite ideas onto a bit of paper and power down.   Just for a couple of hours.  GO ON.

 

 

geeky links, pretty links

Kia Ora ladies and gentlegeeks,

Many links to share, today, and school bus soon to arrive.  So let’s GO …

First up, Scientific American wonders if it is possible to quantify awe.  Well, is it?  If so, you might give this site “a lazy girl goes green” a passing grade for awesomeness.

This is an abstract to a piece of research dealing with the fine line between advertising and content in apps designed for children, and here you will find a write up of that research by the Washington Post.

This is a toolkit for educator and student privacy from the Children’s Screen Time Action Network (specifically their “Badass Teacher” subset) and speaking of teachers, this is a piece about how many of them are observing poor fine motor skills  in school starters.  Perhaps they ought to become craftivists? 

Here is a piece about early childhood education here in NZ, written by a visiting ECE teacher from the US, and (poor segue, but hey!) speaking of early, this is an article about the toll that early exposure to cortisol takes on our thinking abilities, and here is one of my fave dudes Dr Bruce Perry talking about such things on the telly.  Speaking of trauma, this is an article about the ways that such things interfere with formal learning.

You have GOT to read these two articles about the tech execs in Silicon Valley who are now becoming parents themselves … guess what decisions they make for their own kids?  (“I am convinced the devil lives in our phones”).  And read the second article from the NY times HERE.

A couple of nerdy links for the students among us (whoop!  whoop!) this one is about statistical procedures  and p-values (still learnin’) and this is a glorious method for organising notes, from the awesome (quantifiably so!) Thesis Whisperer website.

This is a link to the work of an artist named Ulla-Stina Wikander which I think is just bloody gorgeous, here is a pretty website about house plants, and this is an item I covet.

work and play

oh, self discipline.  I love how you’re getting me to stay at my desk and burn through my work, but it saddens me how this leaves us less time for joyful exercise!  And when we are getting our workout groove on, the desk work feels utterly protracted!  What to do?

Questions for the ages.

Here are some links for my pals …first … a link sourced from today’s webinar by the Children’s Screen Time Action Network (thanks, friends!) … please read this from the Atlantic … an article about distracted parenting.  This is what my research is about, and it is reeeeeeeally real.   We watched a short version of this documentary, and I defo want more.  The session also reminded me of this excellent article by Richard Freed, which we’ve linked to before but WHAT THE HECK, here it is again.   Digital detox, you say?  Here is a how-to.

Now, here is a link to the site of a group called Defending the Early Years (sheesh, someone’s got to …) and OH here is another article from the Atlantic, this one about whether we should trust Alexa  (which I think of as beginner AI … so the answer to the trust question is: of course not!).  Even so-called safe education based platforms wind up exposing inappropriate stuff  to kids

If you are not already subscribed to the excellent Evolutionary Parenting newsletter, check out some of their juicy goodness here and this is a chirpy little article about sexism in childcare (what comes first?  The undervaluing of children, the mostly female workforce, or the low wages and status?)

If you’ve the strength, read this article from Scientific American, it’s about downplaying competition and upholding growth mindsets in education, and finally, here is an article I wrote a few years back for OHbaby!  It’s humbling, because I have taken on more extra-curriculars than I had on my plate even then, so I reckon I am super un-fun-mum most of the times these days.  Join me in a deep sigh, will ya?

DIY petrichor

Screen Shot 2018-09-28 at 12.05.47 PMSpringtime is lovely in this garden.  These past couple of weeks I have spent many blissful minutes under various blossoming trees, eyes closed, breathing deep, smelling sweet smells and hearing the productive meditation that is the buzzing of bees.
Another blessing of spring is the excuse to hang out in my glasshouse.  I’ve gotten some seeds started for the year (bit slow, actually, compared to my neighbours!) but nonetheless I relish the opportunity to go watering in there.  It gets so parched in my glasshouse that when I water I can sometimes fake the most beautiful smell in the world, aka petrichor.  Here is legendary Australian singer/songwriter Paul Kelly  performing his song of that name.

What else?  Some brain stuff: here is a gorgeous website, Knowing Neurons, and this is a nice li’l cellular research update from the good folk at Harvard Check ‘er out!

And tech stuff … an article about the ways children’s social interactions are being warped, and this is an article about the case against teaching kids to be polite to AI.  The number of homes in the USA using devices like Alexa is staggering.  This is a worry: Canadian parents wanting to opt out from having their kids participate in the google-ification of classrooms are finding it difficult to do so.   Here is a report going deeper into the the ways that tech companies discourage us from exercising our rights to privacy.  Deceived by design!

AND THIS!!!  A report  about the impact of persuasive design on childhood.  Crikey.

Don’t wait till next year’s screen free week: reclaim your weekend right now!   (and you might wanna register for the next free webinar from the Children’s Screen Time Action Network).  Irony of connection via a screen is acknowledged!!

More goodness here: I love the TRUCE toy guides, and this is one especially for infants and toddlers, this is a newsletter with an adolescent focus from our pals at Brainwave, and I flippin love these images of working archeologists doing their thing with their pregnant bellies along for the ride!

Here is a cool book to encourage confidence in our girls, this is an episode of the NPR show Planet Money  with a focus on female computer coders (where’d they all go?) and here is a report from Ohio about a concept I used to dream about: our young folk and our older folk all together. 

Home stretch: a resource from the Center for the Developing Child about the impact of early adversity on child development, an article for dads of daughters, and I love this piece from by Lauren Porter published in Natural Parent Magazine, about infant sleep.

Finally: hooray to Jacinda at the UN.  Kei te whakakake matou ki a koe!!  We are so proud of you.

(and Clarke … Hi, it’s me.  Your cool auntie.  The one who has been reading & thinking & learning about babies for decades.  I only say this because I love you, and I want what’s best for Neve and therefore her parents and therefore the ever-outward-rippling circles of humanity … it’s cute to quip intimate moments of family life as a contrast to the formality of moving in diplomatic circles, but honey, what you did there with your whole “cute alert: busted watching late-night TV” thing is make a joke about the equivalent of blowing second hand smoke in baby Neve’s face.

And I know you don’t mean to do that, and you kinda get a pass because you’re bearing the brunt of being the cocoon to this precious infant in strange places with uncanny time zones and YOU GO, you’re doing great.  But honey, remind me when I see you, we need to talk about infant regulation.

People are going to be looking to you, Clarke, as first Dad of Aotearoa, and it’s not cool to make light of the casual saturation of babies into a digital world which held no regard for their wellbeing, in design nor implementation.

You get a pass, you’re traveling.  I’ve done that, with babes.  It’s tough.  Look, we all make comprimises between what we want/need and what our baby wants/needs, but if you’d read what I’ve been reading about the scale and extent of the potential harm done when parents don’t limit their digital use in the presence of their children – especially their babies – you would keep this joke among your close friends, and you’d model skilful behaviour for the benefit of the watching public.

New parents have to amend their digital habits. We don’t smoke inside the house, and we don’t consume digital media like we did before this baby arrived.  Cool auntie says: Not in our family.  We are world leaders now, Jacinda has made it so.  And, Clarke!  You are the first Dad of Aotearoa!   So let’s be a bit more careful how we talk about a habit, in this case the casual consumption of entertainment media, that will be come to be thought of, if not like tobacco, like alcohol.

My grandad was given whiskey when he was an infant, he survived.  Neve will survive this too!  I’m not giving you a hard time, Clarke.  I’m telling you cos I love yiz.   Just come over and stay and we can talk all about it.  But wait till my dining room repaint is finished, K?  xx

super fast roller coaster, with a deliberately chilled out soundtrack

oh babe new septKia Ora e hoa ma,

What a day.  What a week!  A week in which the pictured issue of OHbaby! was released, there is an article in there that I wrote about our Minds … with deep and humble respect to Dan Siegel!  

And there was this luscious bit: last Monday I heard (shout out to the hardest working researcher in showbiz!  Tēnā koe, Keryn!) that Sue, Executive Director extraordinaire of Brainwave  Trust Aotearoa had shared some goodies with our Prime Minister, new mum Jacinda Ardern.  Well, blow me down … one of the three articles she passed along is one that I had written some years back.  It still stands up, I’m stoked.  I could barely be more excited … I long for some sit down conversation with Jacinda, and until then, this will do nicely!

I had a useful couple of meetings at university, I got a truckload of work done here in my office (aka my happy place) and as I type this, my kitchen is undergoing a long awaited massage!  This means I am without an oven for the foreseeable future.  Bring on the weird dinners!!

Also today, I watched the most recent webinar by the Children’s Screen Time Action Network, featuring the authors of the book Screen Schooled.   It was all sorta energizing, kinda depressing.

HEY: For face-to-face training of a different ilk (love that word) then won’t you please check out this offering “The Approach of Dr Emmi Pikler in AotearoaNew Zealand” … I’m confident that anyone attending will be inspired, educated, and will find community.  It’s in October, in the central bit of Te Ika a Maui.

A few random links to finish: this is Evolutionary Parenting, which I love, and one of the peeps on the webinar today shared this link, which is some interesting research dealing with how long it takes us to get back in the groove when we’re interrupted.

This is an interesting article from Mothering Mag, reporting on a study about how our workplace interactions can overflow into our homes (and it’s the kids who cop it!) .  Speaking of kids copping it (!!!) here is a call for more thoughtful design in high rise apartments, and this is a most fascinating something from Harvard about sleep deprivation and subsequent possible effects.  Nap time, anyone?

vive la France!

Salut mes amis,
Kia Ora e hoa ma,
G’day mates,  hey y’all, hello my friends.

The resistance is rumbling.  There have been courageous law changes in France meaning that the children and adolescents there are being given mandated time away from the persuasive design of the tech companies that live in all our cellphones and feed off our attention.

Speaking of which, I enjoyed this trifecta of articles about Yondr, which is a simple and exciting option for creating tech-free oasesYes, schools are a perfect place to be phone-free, (may I remind you of this report from the London School of Economics) but also at live shows (we should all be allowed to be one with the music without fear of some meanie uploading our gyrations & undulations without permission!)

Meanwhile, the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood have sent this open letter to Mark Zuckerberg (if you know him, give him a nudge will you?) the Children’s Screen Time Action Network are continuing to advocate and agitate, which is just as well; because there are multiple layers to the weirdness of tech in kids’ lives, like how our distracted parenting can lead to bonkers patterns of child misbehaviour (and subsequent avoidance … the downward cycle of technoference, just like McDaniel told ya), OR like how our tech habits at bedtime are robbing our children of sleep.  

(ah, Sleep!  I love you so!)

Other stuff: crazy finding reported here by Scientific American, about the likelihood of women with heart problems dying/not dying upon admission to an emergency room depending upon the gender of the doctor on duty that day, HERE is a transcript to a wonderful interview with Ashley Montagu, and this is a link to an article I wrote aaaages ago, for my pals at OHbaby!.  Love y’all!

Finally: new podcast obsession this week … Song Exploder.  All hail Jonathan Van Ness, whose Getting Curious podcast led me there.

Podcasts.  They are amazing.  Put them on the list of things I do quite like about tech.

 

 

sharing, by clearing (tabs)

Sooner or later I’m going to have to learn how to use some of the tools at my disposal.  I can barely use my computer, I’m not sure I could even thread up my sewing machine, and I’m terrified of the new software I need to master.  To reference, graph, and get my shit together. 

I’m so mad at tech.  How will I learn to love her?  Appreciate the good bits.  Get playful with leaning new software.  Play with the wonderful communicative bits.

Like sharing stuff.  That is a cool gift.  Access to all the stuff.  I need to share some:

Here is an awesome article (with some blue language, look out) from Esquire magazine, about Fred Rogers.  The man is a hero.  Apparently there is a new movie coming out about Mr Rogers’ life.  If I was a diligent blogger I’d go find you a link, but I’m due at a school assembly, and my computer is running slow!

Very good resource here, based around Bruce Perry’s Regulate, Relate, Reason, which is some life changing stuff.  Ain’t foolin.

Now here is an article from the Huffington Post, about how we are all checking our smartphones more than we know.  It’s becoming apparent to me that the ‘checking behaviour’ is possibly more an indicator of worrisome stuff than just straight ‘time on screen’ measures.

More on that later.

Hey, anyone lucky enough to be near Sydney in September could go hear Stuart Shanker.  How about all the S’s in that sentence!  Here is a gift from his blog, about defiant children and diagnoses.  

Last year, I had cause to spend a lot of time in an ICU.  I was the family person in charge of an intense scenario.  I am so glad that there are people working to make that scene less weird and terrifying.  

Here is a cool 2 minute video intro to Roots of Empathy.  If you don’t know what  I am talking about, you needa watch it.

I am obsessed with this photo and this bathmat.

The more my iPhone plays music to me and the less I look at it, the better.  Singing rules.

school holidays = best and worst times of a mama’s life!

Hello my friends,

All is sunny and cold on this bit of my island.  We plan a road trip, hubby and gals and I, business mixing with (what I hope will be) some pleasure.  I am struggling because I really would rather my kids looked out the window, bickered and grizzled and “are we there yet?”-ed, but everyone else – from the kids themselves to my goodly husband to the lady who waxes my legs – insists that it’s oK to use devices on road trips.

Aeroplanes – fine.  But road trips?  Through devastatingly beautiful scenery?  Aargh … I cannot find peace around that one.  Not today, at least.  Ask me tomorrow, 5 hours in to the 6 hour drive.

ANYWAY.  Some links for the baby geeks among us.  First, some shame and outrage.  The current government of the USA just seem determined to be the baddies of the world.  Not only did they oppose the WHO’s resolution to support breastfeeding, they bullied Ecuador like a bunch of corporate loving monsters.  I want to be loving to all humanity, really I do.  But if I had the chance to poke the 45th prez in the eye, I’d do it.  If I could shove his cronies into icy river water, I’d do it.  If I could push him down a flight of stairs, I would.  If I’m doing the pushing, shoving and poking out of love for others, does that make it ethically OK?

NOW, in other news, here is a cornucopia of goodness from Stuart Shanker (who I have met, and did not push in a river or poke in the eye, but rather shook his hand) and his Canadian crew.  It is a slew of resources about self-regulation and I think you’ll love ‘em.

Also, a trifecta of resources dealing with the same thing: here is the original report from the London School of Economics, this is an article from the Guardian which summarises the findings,  and here is a recent opinion piece  which references them both.  What are we dealing with?  The case for banning cellphones in schools, and the demonstrated gains in academic performance that would flow from this bravery – especially for poorer performing students.

This is a piece from the Harvard Medical School which celebrates the work of one of their whānau, elevating the importance of mental health care (why, yes!) and this is a youtube video in which Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal theory (which is amazing, important, and brain-achy) is made most understandable.  Enjoy!

 

BYO sunshine, outrage, action & poetry

Kia Ora ladies and gentlegeeks,

Warm soup and winter sunshine.  What a joy it is to be alive when you’re fortunate in the birth lottery (yay, NZ in the 70′s!  Yay!  Thanks Papatuanuku!) but jeepers, mate, there is lameness and horror a-plenty.  I was just crapping on to my big brother over coffee a few days back about how if we could just ask all scenarios an overarching question (be the scenario designing a town hall, or prioritising health funding, or creating immigration policy) all would shift.

The question:
What would this mean for babies?

Whatever it is.  Going for a walk.  Approving an irrigation scheme.  Consent processes and elected officials would all have to prove how their decisions impact babies.  Most parents are pretty good at considering how their decisions impact their own babies (“if we stay for dinner, what does that mean for our bedtime routine?”), so we must now all consciously expand to our infuse all our decisions, large and small, with babyhood.

Because if it’s good for babies, it’s good for everyone (friends!  You know why!  Because attachment and neurobiology and human potential.  Because overstimulation and pace and wellbeing.  That’s why!

The only group I can think of who will suffer if we truly prioritise infant wellbeing are those with financial interests in selling nonsense to babies’ families.

And they can stuff off, anyway.

We have a rare opportunity here, because our Prime Minister just gave birth to her first child.  Well done, Jacinda!  And now you get to view decisions large and small through a lens you didn’t even know existed.  None of us knew, till we knew.  Welcome.  Nau mai, haere mai.  Welcome, Baby Neve, to the world.  And welcome, Jacinda, to motherhood.