Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Advice

Sorry, folks, the camera is still broken. The good news is that it was recalled by Sony, so we get it fixed for free...the bad news is that it was recalled by Sony, so we get it fixed for free, at a snail's pace.

Anyway, in the meantime, I need some advice. Brad is officially poopy-trained. Every time he needs to go poopy he goes in the toilet. But he never tells us when he needs to pee. I don't know if this is related to his spinal cord issues or not (his neurosurgeon says that he may not have the ability to control his bladder). But it's not like I can ask a two year old if he can feel his bladder urges.

So I'm thinking of adopting what one of the women in my church calls the "nakedness plan." That's right--I'm going to strip him down and let him run around and see if he tells me he has to go. The down side to that is that there could be accidents, and it would be very confining (obviously the nakedness plan means we're in the house 24/7).

What do you think? Any suggestions?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Happy Birthday, Kelly!

Kelly is 20 years old today!...I don't think she still sucks her thumb...

Friday, June 22, 2007

Congratulations!

Ben graduates from C-NS High School today. Congratulations, Ben!!


PS Bad news for all you Baker Family Fans: our digital camera is broken. I need to take it somewhere next week to determine if it can be repaired...so it may be awhile before more pics of the kids are up again. But check back on Monday the 25th for a special birthday post!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Yay, Brad!!

Alert: this is a very indelicate post--non-mothers should avert their eyes.

There's no delicate way to say this, so I will just go ahead and say it:
Brad pooped in the potty! Twice now! And I have reason to believe that this will be a recurring phenomenon...he really wants the "special treats" we give him when he goes.

The only problem? No pee yet. I know, that's usually the reverse in potty-training. We'll see--it could still be that he isn't aware of his bladder urges--the doctors warned us that may be a problem with his spinal cord. But the fact that he's aware of bowel movements is encouraging. I'll keep you updated (I'm sure you're all thrilled and can't wait to hear more!).

Gotta keep that hair in line!


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

New Series

As many of you know, I (Nicole) love to read. And read, and read, and read. Not only do I enjoy it, but I consider it one of my many duties as a wife and mother. It's my job to stay informed of the current research in regards to child development, how to best save and manage our finances, where the market is headed, and anything else that serves the interests of The Baker Family.

So, once a week or so, I'll be posting a review of a book or a study I've recently read that will share some of the new research that's out there as well as give my opinion on said research (I have lots of opinions!) in the hopes that this will benefit some readers--I know I always appreciate having the latest information.

Don't worry, there will still be plenty of pics of the kids!

Buy, Buy, Baby

I have just finished reading Buy, Buy Babyby Susan Gregory Thomas. What an eye opener! I know, of course, that the AAP recommends that children under two not watch TV, and I know that companies target young children for marketing, but I didn't realize how little I know.

The most shocking, and horrifying, bit of information, is that companies are teaming up with marketers to provide "educational" materials to preschools and daycares. They want to get into the new market segment (the under-three crowd), but first they have to get past the Generation-X mom. And studies have shown that the GenX mom is, as the book says, a formidable gatekeeper. She wants to know that her child is learning, is being prepared for school, is having the best experience possible. So Disney and PBS and Barbie are hiring marketers to come up with ways to spin their products as more “educational.” Mostly, this consists of labeling the actual box with words like "learning" and "educational."

Preschools and daycare are often strapped for cash, and as parents want a more academic curriculum in place, the centers are finding it very easy to accept free materials from Scholastic promoting Clifford's Big Ideas (one of the "big ideas": believe in yourself...not exactly educational). In return for this free material (including big posters of Clifford to place around the room), the centers provide Scholastic with demographic data on the attendees, most of the time, without informing the parents.

What's wrong with Clifford, you ask? Well, what's right with him? How is "believing in yourself" preparing your child for elementary school? Even if you allow that the supposed academic/educational benefit is wildly exaggerated, there's still harm. You are allowing Clifford to be marketed to your children--they are going to want Clifford lunch boxes and Clifford toys, and Clifford books, to the exclusion of others. That's a very imbalanced childhood.

More importantly, Clifford and Playhouse Disney, and all of the other product lines marketed as "educational" are giving parents a false sense of security in "knowing that their child is learning, when in fact, it may actually be leading to developmental delays! Infants and toddlers who watch television have a higher risk of developing ADHD by age 7. Researchers have shown that TV-watching actually "re-wires" the infant's brain and interferes with normal neurological development.

If you want to teach a child a simple task, he will have to watch the video or TV show 20 times in order to learn how to do it. But if you, the parent, work directly with him, in person, he will learn it in four or five demonstrations.

So the next time you think about popping in a Baby Einstein video, ask yourself why you’re doing it. If you want to give your child the best educational advantage, it’s better to get down on the floor with him and stack those blocks. If you need him entertained while you take a shower, it’s better to stick him in the pack-n-play with those blocks.

Finally, just a note: as a mother, I am incredulous that people willingly believe whatever they’re told by other mothers or marketers without doing the tiniest bit of research to check the facts. How hard is it to ask your pediatrician what the AAP recommends regarding TV-watching? Most likely, you won’t even have to ask—he’ll make it a point to tell you during a checkup. Just because all the other mothers are popping in those Baby Einstein videos doesn’t mean it’s right or good.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Morning silliness




Wait--if he has that on, does that mean Anne is spitting up on her dress? Yup!

Must get MORE puzzles!


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Too cute!





Last year he loved the horses...this year he likes to sit perfectly still on the bench and watch everything go by. It would make me incredibly dizzy, but he seems content to sit and stare.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Impatient





I didn't realize how easy we had it with Brad and eating! He was happy to sit and wait for the next spoonful--Anne insists on helping, and you never get it in quite fast enough for her. Besides that, she hasn't quite mastered the art of pushing the food down the throat, rather than out the mouth. Plus, whereas she used to spit up milk, she now spits up milk mixed with sweet potatoes. Lovely. Anne is not the only impatient one...Mommy and Daddy can't wait to move beyond this phase!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Double Trouble




Do you know how hard it is to get a toddler and an infant to sit still so you can take a picture of them together? I have about a dozen pairs of pictures like this--Brad sort of smiling with his fingers in his mouth, Anne looking a little drunk, and then, in the next frame, Brad bolting off somewhere while Anne looks confused. And, of course, right after this Anne spit up EVERYWHERE...do you know how many loads of laundry we do???

Friday, June 08, 2007

Schooling

I've been agonizing for several months (okay, almost a year) about what to do with Brad's schooling. He has a late birthday (October 28th) and in some states he would be allowed to start Kindergarten at age four, going on five. In New York, where I grew up, the cutoff is still December 1st, and in Louisiana (Doug's home state) it's even later--January 1st. In either state, Brad would be one of the very youngest in the class.

However, in Maryland the cutoff is September 1st, meaning Brad would start at five, going on six, making him one of the oldest in the class. For a long time I wondered and thought about what to do--I didn't want him to be bored in class, but I didn't want him to fall behind, but I didn't want to push him if he wasn't ready...you can see where I was going with this.

Then I read an excellent NY Times Magazine article that talked primarily about "red-shirting" and referenced a study, "The Persistence of Early Childhood Maturity: International Evidence of Long-Run Age Effects."

One of the things I like to do when reading press releases or news articles is to look up the study referenced. Then, once I have the study (if I have time) I look up the primary source, such as raw numbers from the National Center for Education Statistics to view the source directly. So many statistics have a way of being manipulated by the media....

Anyway, I digress. This was a very helpful study, and I am now convinced that I'm doing the right thing in waiting until Brad is one of the older children in the class. As a parent you want to give your children all possible advantages, and it turns out that this is one big advantage...some quotes:

"...their maturity advantage increases the likelihood that they are selected for more advanced curriculum groups...relative age effects can persist...because students are separated into programs with different rates of human capital accumulation during the early primary grades..."

even in eighth grade, "...there remains...2-9 percentiles...between the oldest and the youngest students..."

"...old[er] children are more likely to be leaders in high school, which has in turn been shown to increase wages in adulthood...As such, relative age appears to have a direct effect on human capital accumulation holding educational attainment constant and is therefore likely to have a direct impact on adult outcomes such as wages, independent of its effect through educational attainment."

Anyway, all that to say that I really appreciate the proliferation and availability of material to which the Internet has given rise. Even ten years ago, I wouldn't have (easily) been able to find this study and would have had to rely on anecdotal evidence from friends and neighbors on which to base a life-altering decision. As Brad likes to say, "Knowledge is Power!" (yeah, I know, too much Schoolhouse Rock...)

EDITED: If you have times to read the NYT piece it references briefly, but pointedly, who is red-shirting, and thus giving their children advantages.

Big Girl?




Yesterday I was working at my computer while Brad went down for an early nap and Anne was playing in the other room. She's usually quite happy, but suddenly started fussing. When I went to see why, I discovered she had rolled over from her back to her tummy and couldn't figure out how to roll back over! Plus, she was very tired (note the red eyebrows). So I took pity on her and put her down for an early nap as well. She sucks her thumb just like I used to--with one finger hooked over the nose!