Sunday, January 20, 2008

Parenting Resources (I am not pregnant)

I know, I know, why would I compile a list of alternative parenting resources if I am not now nor in the coming year going to be a parent? Well, partly it's because the New York Times Magazine had an article Family Values in it's Consumed column that had a number of references to things that, while inapplicable now, may be applicable in the future. And when I'm wigging out about folic acid and organic everything and not sleeping and constantly nauseous, I'm thinking I won't be in the mood to ferret out cool resources like this to assuage my alternahubby's fears of impending daddiness.

And just to make this clear, I am not pregnant.

Edited on 5/4/2008 to add:
There's this really disturbing article on about ultra posh pre-natal nonsense (which I found via OhDeeDoh, which had the even more disturbing comments implying that all this ultra posh pre-natal nonsense was O.K., e.g. "The photography session and the five-star vacation sound normal to me," which sorta makes me never want to read OhDeeDoh ever again). But perhaps the most disturbing thing was not about the ultra posh at all.
Babies cost an average of $10,600 in the first year to feed, clothe and care for, according to 2007 federal statistics.

Seriously?!? And is it wrong for me to think, "I'd kinda rather have a new car"? Maybe that's just a sign that I'm not ready yet. Which is true. I am not pregnant. I am not trying to become pregnant. I will not try to become pregnant in the next year. Just in case you weren't clear on that.

Edited on 5/13/2008 to add:
If you're one of those future parents who thinks you have to unplug all modes of media in your house once the tiny tyke arrives, apparently you can relax and let them play violent video games from like birth or something and studies show it will all be O.K.

Edited on 6/2/2008 to add:
A neat Time Magazine article on green parenting which name drops three different green parenting books:

Edited on 9/18/2008 to add:
Inhabitots posts about cloth diapering.

A friend of mine suggested the Boston Women's Health Collective, of Our Bodies Ourselves fame, as a great resource for pregnancy and childbirth information. She also suggested that What to Expect When You're Expecting is a horrible book for expecting parents as it is entirely couched in negative terms, like pregnancy is a horrible disease and birth is the cure of this affliction. The BWHC has a very thorough critique of childbearing advice books.

Edited on 9/23/2008 to add:

AskMetafilter responses to a question about parents expressing anger in response to a child's wrongdoing. Perhaps like a lot of AskMetafilter posts, the responses provide no real answer to the question posed, but provide a number of resources that might be interesting to check out.

Edited on 9/29/2008 to add:

Alice Waters on raising kids to eat right via Serious Eats.

Edited on 12/11/2008 to add:

Whip Up's elephantine list of tutorials about how to make stuff for babies and parents.

Blue Marble's post about a study that indicates obesity is linked to grandparents' diet.

Re-Nest scavenges Etsy to find an Eco-Friendly Toddler Flatware Set.

AskMetafilter on natural birth vs. medicated birth. The key to AskMeFi is to read the comments as that's where the good stuff is.

AskMetafilter on parenting issues around two kids sharing one bedroom.

Re-Nest on how to make your own baby wipes.

Edited on 1/8/2009 to add:
Serious Eats' video interview between chefs Mario Batali and Tony Bourdain about baby food.

Edited on 1/15/2009 to add:
The Kitchn (Apartment Therapy's food-centered blog) recommends a children's book: Let's Cook! by Robert Crowther. This interactive cookbook for kids includes pop-out cardboard bacon and utensils.

Edited on 1/16/2009 to add:
The hive mind of AskMeFi seriously pondered what material possessions a new baby requires. One oft-noted book I'd never heard of: Dr. Harvey Karp's The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer.

A question that is seriously taxing my husband's mind: will our relationship with our dogs change when a new baby joins the family? The AskMeFi hive mind wisely pondered this concern. A book recommended by the hive: Childproofing Your Dog: A Complete Guide to Preparing Your Dog for the Children in Your Life by Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson.

In the fantasy world where I'm an awesome parent and my kids buy into my crazy parenting nonsense, we would totally do this resolutions thing Laura from Girl in a Swirl posted over at Whip Up.

Edited on 1/29/2009 to add:
The Write Start is a blog by a mom/pediatric occupational therapist/writer Jennifer Hallissy about getting young children ready to write. Via Whip Up. has a toy and kid gear recall finder. Via Consumerist.

Edited on 4/24/2009 to add:
A number of friends of mine who have recently had children have not found breastfeeding to be as easy as it's cracked up to be. From what I've heard that's a very common experience that a lot of women just don't talk about (I have this whole conspiracy theory involving La Leche League and the baby formula industry, but I'll save that for another day).

A friend of mine who just had a baby in October highly recommends The Nursing Mother's Companion: Revised Edition by Kathleen Huggins.

While she didn't agree with everything The Nursing Mother's Companion said, she found it very helpful for nursing. She also offered the caveat that reading it required her and her husband "gathering the ability to move past laughing hysterically at all the pictures of breasts in it." So if nothing else, you might get a laugh out of it.

Edited on 7/22/09 to add:
100 Geeky Places to Take Your Kids This Summer by GeekDad Doug Cornelius over at Wired (via OhDeeDoh) includes old standbys like Colonial Williamsburg and Old Sturbridge Village and annual events like Comic-Con and the Penny Arcade Expo.

Linked through an ad on OhDeeDoh to an online store for natural toys called ChildTrek. I totally want the Kidsonroof TOTEM Tree to play with all by myself.

The Boy's Almanac is a blog by "two mothers constantly striving to maintain a wild, self-sufficient childhood for our boys and wanting to revive the old school methods of practical scouting, bypassing the modern organization and its discriminating baggage." I like that mission statement. And they're not sexist, they just don't have girls. The blog follows their adventures as they undertake the projects in The American Boy's Handy Book: What to Do and How to Do It, Centennial Edition. Via OhDeeDoh (let's just call today's update The OhDeeDoh Digest).

Uncommon Goods sells Your Body Puzzle, which seems like a neat way to introduce a 3+ year old to their parts both external and internal. This puzzle is a little more cartoony and a little less Grey's Anatomy than the 3-D Muscle & Skeleton Puzzle (for 8+ year olds). I love the idea of anatomy toys for kids. I have to say, I spent hours looking through my dad's medical books, mostly for pictures of skin diseases to gross myself out. Again, via OhDeeDoh. Fat Brain Toys has a set of Human Anatomy Models for 7+ year olds that looks seriously anatomically correct AND lots of fun. Kids Toy Chest has a wide array of human anatomy toys as does another childhood favorite Edmond Scientific. Of course Dover has the Human Anatomy Coloring Book.

All that talk of human anatomy is making me hungry. Good thing OhDeeDoh found tempered glass Kidishes available at Zoe B Organic. In case you're not up on the major issues in child dining, here's a quick summary: plastic is evil. Even if it's BPA-free plastic or melamine, it's still evil if you put it in the microwave. That's where tempered glass dishes come in. They're harder to break than normal dishes, but they're just as safe to throw in the microwave as normal dishes.

Edited on 7/23/09 to add:
While I was assembling yet another piece of IKEA furniture, I got to thinking about The Boy's Almanac from the previous update. When I was a kid, messing around in my dad's workshop was so much fun. With shop classes eliminated from so many school curricula, covering at least basic hand tool skills has, yet again, become the parents' responsibility. There are a few books out there to help even novice parents meet this challenge. Woodshop for Kids by Jack McKee seems like a good one.

Edited on 7/28/09 to add:
All Things Considered had a great segment on the "MommyBlogger" phenomenon . . . and pretty much how they're all a bunch of sell outs. But then the accompanying web article has all these enticing articles that make me want to patronize nothing but sell outs . . . I mean MommyBlogs. One that sounded most entertaining from the article, but is unfortunately not linked to from the accompanying web article (it is linked to from the associated All Tech Considered blog post - which totally seems like trying to generate hits at multiple sites rather than actually providing content in a usable fashion) is DadLabs [READERS AT WORK BEWARE: DadLabs has some autoplay video that will start playing even before the rest of the page has finised loading, so mute].

Edited on 7/29/2009 to add:
Check out Playful Learning, a website (with a link to a blog) by Mariah Bruehl, an educator cum mommy. She adapts what she knows "about educational research and practice into simple, playful learning experiences that parents can easily share with their children." Via OhDeeDoh.

And edited again on 7/29/2009 to add:
My dear college roommate who had a baby about two months ago (not to be confused with my dear college roommate who had a baby about a month ago) suggested the following three resources.

And edited yet again on 7/29/2009 to add:

Urban Preschool takes a fairly abstract approach to early childhood education. It's mostly links to resources for interesting stuff for/about kids. It covers everything from art and design for kids to eco-literacy.

Edited on 8/2/2009 to add:

Organic stuff for babies seems way overpriced to me. I just saw an organic onesie for over $10. That's nuts. Get thee to Dharma Trading Comapany, a store known for its tie-dyeing paraphernalia. As of today they sell organic onesies, t-shirts, hats, and bibs. All white (see they're ready for you to tie-dye, but you don't have to). Their Lap Shoulder Organic Infant Creeper comes in four sizes: newborn, 6 mos, 12 mos, 18 mos. If you buy 11 or fewer, the price is $5.85. If you buy more than that, the price per onesie goes down. If you bought 60 or more (like if you were starting a baby factory), the price would be $4.35 per onesie. Their Lap Shoulder Organic Infant T-Shirt also comes in four sizes: newborn, 6 mos, 12 mos, 18 mos, and if you buy 11 or fewer the price is $4.60. Their Organic Infant Pull-on Cap comes only in infant size and is $3.05 for purchases of up to 11 (I mean how many hats does a baby go through?). Their Organic Cotton Baby Rib Bib, also one size fits all, also for $3.05 for purchases of up to 11 (I bet they can go through bibs faster than they go through hats).

If you're not so hung up on organic, Dharma also sells a slightly wider array of baby stuff made out of bamboo fabric. Dharma has this to say about bamboo clothing, "Bamboo fabric is enjoying a popularity boom because of it's low environmental impact, absorptive and antibacterial properties, as well as it's sublime softness." Sounds pretty good as far as baby stuff goes.

If you're not hung up on organic or bamboo, Dharma has just about everything a baby trousseau requires, so long as you want it in white and cotton.

Edited on 7/4/2009 to add:

Giver's Log made a soft mailbox out of fabric for the aspiring letter writer and receiver in your household. She provides a great tutorial so you can make one too. Sounds like this would work nicely with all of the suggestions for encouraging writing over at The Write Start. Via OhDeeDoh.

Playful Learning put together a tote full of tools for the aspiring writer. Again, I think this ties in nicely with everything The Write Start has to say. Via OhDeeDoh.

On a non-writing preparedness related note, the big debate among new parents (who do not have unlimited space) seems to be whether to invest in a swing or a bouncy chair. The bouncy chair contingent seems to swear by BabyBjorn's Babysitter Balance.

Edited on 8/11/2009 to add:

Consumer Reports has a very thorough report on baby proofing your home. You don't even need a subscription to access it. You do need a stiff drink or stiff drink analog to handle the proclamations of doom. For example, if you don't put a child-proof lock on your toilet, all babies within a 10 mile radius will die. I'm exaggerating . . . a little . . . only a 5 mile radius.

Edited on 8/12/2009 to add:

Would someone please explain to me why books and such recommend pregnant women read other women's stories about their experiences in labor and birth? As a follow up question, would someone please explain to me why women share their stories, in graphic detail, with complete strangers, so frequently? O.K. Birth story rant aside, if you're going to read any birth story, you should read Dooce's birth story, not because it's a birth story, but because it is funny as all get out.

So I am REALLY not into toy buying for children. It is almost universally done to excess. It's all plastic crap made by child slave labor under dangerous conditions. And these days it is usually stamped with some corporation's branding and/or character. But then I see this giant photorealistic inflatable globe, and I must have it for my spawn. Via OhDeeDoh.

Edited on 8/13/2009 to add:

PBS has a website for parents. It's not keyed to any particular television program that I can discern (I haven't watched television in about four years except for the occasional Law & Order binge in hotels when traveling, so I could be wrong). Not only does it have a ton of information, it also has lots of ideas for activities parents can do with their kids.

Edited on 8/30/2009 to add:

Angry Chicken's post about making a poultice for her daughter's bee stings sent me down the rabbit hole of kid safe herbal remedies. First, check out the book Angry Chicken recommends: A Kid's Herb Book by Lesley Tierra. Then one of her readers recommended Walking the World in Wonder: A Children's Herbal by Ellen Evert Hopman.

Edited on 9/1/2009 to add:
While digging through eco-focused parenting blogs I stumbled across this post at Green Parenting about a little girl who always screamed like a banshee at the dentist and what the parents did about it. At the end there are links to a bunch of videos about little kids having positive experiences at the dentist.

Edited on 10/3/2009 to add:
AskMeFi had an interesting question about teaching a 9-year-old to cook, which led me to this neat website: Spatulatta. Spatulatta is primarily a series of webcasts that show two sisters, Isabella, 13, and Olivia, 11, cooking. They post the recipes used in the webcasts as well. Apparently they published a cookbook back in 2007 and won the James Beard Award. Not bad.

Edited on 11/4/2009 to add:
My mom was, among many things, a sex ed teacher. So we didn't have so much of a "talk" as an anatomically correct torso on the dining room table. Other people have distinct and often traumatic memories of the "talk" their parents had with them about sex. Time Out New York Kids has an entire issue dedicated to kids and sex including a section on how to talk to your kids about sex. One of the things I find most helpful about this article is that it starts with ages zero to three. I am pretty sure the reason I wasn't traumatized by talking about sex with my parents was that stuff like the anatomically correct names for body parts were part of the conversation from the start. Via the New York Times parenting blog Motherlode.

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