Hey! I'm still alive! Very busy, having fun/getting stressed out/having my computer dump important hours of work/cooking up a storm with hubby/getting Sam organized (teacher: "Let's try colour-coding everything..." me: "He's colourblind...") (If anything works I'll share our technique!)
We're all happy though, and we had a great bike ride through the New Forest on Saturday. Chas had an amazing moment when he sped down a hill on his bike and then when he was standing quietly listening to the forest, a huge stag stood up in the undergrowth beside him, looked at him for a moment and then bounded off. Chas was shining when we caught up with him.
I've been reading two interesting books:
"Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder" by Richard Louv: We all played in the neighbourhood, built treehouses and forts, and stayed out in the rain. But it is considered unsafe now to play out of sight of a parent (though statistically it is JUST as safe as back then). It is, in many places, illegal to build treehouses and forts: they break building codes and make an unsightly mess. Building a campfire? Might start a forest fire! Damming a creek? Flood risk! Climbing trees? Unsafe! Just being in the New Forest of Dorset, there were so many signs and rules... we played anyway though, climbed some trees, lay on a blanket, looked at fungi and the colourful leaves.
Read this book. Unplug your kids. Let them have the same natural learning experiences as Benjamin Franklin, Charles Darwin and countless other scientists and visionaries who had their first sparks of inspiration as children in nature.
Sue Gerhardt's "Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby's Brain" - the title says it all. Why are some people better at dealing with stress? This book can be a little academic, but it's still readable and anyone who works with mothers and babies should definitely read it. Sue Gerhardt explains the effects of Cortisol, the 'Stress Hormone', on the developing nervous system and how a baby's earliest experiences of affection have long-lasting effects on their health.
I am really interested in the way this book brings together instinctive parenting actions, like comforting a baby when they cry, and modern science, pointing out why not doing so can have serious physical and psychological consequences. All babies are different, with different needs.
I was interested to read that following baby's lead seems to be more important than doing everything 'Right'. And, that not starting out on the right foot at infancy can be remedied later on, particularly if the mother gets the help she needs to get over her own upbringing.
Edited: Visit http://oxpip.org.uk/ for more on understanding your baby's (and your own!) needs.