Thursday, June 28, 2007

Astrid's 1st French braid

I tried something new today, I french braided Astrid's hair for the first time. I parted her hair down the middle and did a French braid on either side, and then attached a bow at the bottom where both braids meet.

You'll see in the photos below that I played a slide show of photos for Astrid to watch while I did her hair.

I got a lot of compliments and questions from moms and nannies at gymnastics class - on how pretty it looked, - and how did I do it?

Justin, a 3 year old boy in Astrid's class (who is a real cutie) took her hand and held it while doing their walk around in a circle. His mom and I just looked at each other and laughed.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Wall Street Journal article about "What Kids Get From Time With Dad"

U. sent me this article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal about the impact father's have on their children.

I had to laugh when I read this:

"Dads also tend to handle misbehavior differently, stressing real-world consequences. Where moms might say, "If you misbehave you're in trouble with me," dads more typically say, "Knock it off...nobody will like you, you'll never get a job" if you behave that way, Dr. Pruett says. Such fathering may reduce teen delinquency."

It reminded me of a time when Astrid was whining and fussing in her car seat when we were driving somewhere. My natural instinct as a mom would have been to give her another book or something to keep her occupied and entertained - or point out something outside for her to look at. U. on the other hand was very matter of fact about it and said, "Look outside like everybody else does." It was a no nonsense approach. You couldn't argue with it. Yes, everyone does look outside to keep themselves entertained while in the car. She just has to learn how to entertain herself. So while she gets something from me, she gets something else from her father - as it should be.

The article is posted below.
Life With Father: What Kids Get From Time With Dad
June 14, 2007

Amid Father's Day celebrations this week, many young dads will be harboring a little secret guilt: They feel they should be more like moms -- traditional ones, that is, who spend a lot of time at home. My email bears evidence: One father, a salesman, writes that he feels guilty for not taking paternity leave but he fears damaging his career. Another says he's "scared about long-term effects" of his heavy business travel on his two small children.

If a dad can't be Mr. Mom, what can he be? A growing body of research offers new insight. Fathers can have a distinct impact on children beyond that of mothers, and in many cases without regard to the fact that they often spend less time with their kids, researchers say. Specifically, dads' early play and the way they talk to their toddlers are emerging as special "father functions" that have a particular and lasting effect.

The findings aren't just about a parent's gender per se. Mothers and fathers stimulate children through the same psychological processes, researchers say. But mothers can only do so much; fathers have an additional impact, over and above that of mothers. Also, men have a tendency to behave differently with children. After defining good parenting for decades as what warm, nurturing mothers typically do, researchers now are also beginning to see how behaviors characteristic of fathers can shape children too.

Fathers tend to engage kids in more rough-and-tumble play, for example. Researchers say this can have a powerful positive impact on children, fostering curiosity and teaching them to regulate emotion and enjoy surprises. Thom Singer, Austin, Texas, says, "I'm much more physical in a playful way" with his two children, 10 and 5. "I'll wrestle, I'll tickle them, and when it's time for bed they get on the Piggyback Express."

A 2004 study by Catherine Tamis-LeMonda at New York University and others found a link between fathers' warm, stimulating play with their 2-year-olds and better language and cognitive skills in the children a year later, independent of mothers' behavior. The effect endures into adolescence. Dads who play with toddlers in stimulating and encouraging ways tend to have children with healthier relationships at age 16, surpassing mothers' effect, says a 2002 study in the journal Social Development.

As children grow older, focusing playfully on activities your child loves and needs is a path to high-impact fathering, says Roland Warren, president of the National Fatherhood Initiative, a Gaithersburg, Md., nonprofit advocacy group.

Washington, D.C., executive Jay Young makes the most of time with his son Jared, 7, an avid sports fan, by targeting activities the child loves. To fuel his interest in math, Mr. Young sometimes calls Jared during the day to play math games, asking such questions as, "If LeBron James plays two games and scores 20 points in each, how many total points did he score?" He believes "kids pick up cues from their fathers" -- and so far, Jared loves math.
Fathers also tend to shape language development. Fathers typically don't "talk down to their children as much as mothers," using larger words, says Kyle Pruett, an author and clinical professor of psychiatry at Yale University.

Dads also tend to handle misbehavior differently, stressing real-world consequences. Where moms might say, "If you misbehave you're in trouble with me," dads more typically say, "Knock it off...nobody will like you, you'll never get a job" if you behave that way, Dr. Pruett says. Such fathering may reduce teen delinquency. In a 2006 study led by Jacinta Bronte-Tinkew of Child Trends in Washington, D.C., close, supportive fathering was linked to less teen risk-taking and delinquency

Friday, June 22, 2007

Playing the drum

Today we made our own drum by turning a bucket upside down. For drumsticks we used a wooden salad spoon and fork. Astrid pounded on her drum while I sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “Row Row Row Your Boat.”

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Watching mama cook

Astrid always want to see what I'm doing. That includes what I'm doing in the kitchen.

If I'm cooking I'll either sit her on the counter to watch, or she'll climb up on her chair in the dining room so she can peek over - like she's doing in the photo above. (Tonight I cooked spaghetti with a fresh turkey/basil/tomato/marinara sauce.)

When I'm washing dishes, I'll put a chair next to the sink so she can crawl up and down at her leisure. I used to put her up on the counter, but that proved to be a hassle because she would want to get down and then want back up over and over again. It's easier to just push a chair up next to me so she can get up an down without any assistance. (Which means I don't have to stop and rinse and dry my hands 10 times in order to get the dishes done.)

When she was an infant she would just cry and cry when I washed the dishes. I would bounce her in her bouncy chair while I did the dishes, and then later when she was a bit older, I put her in her ultra-saucer which I brought into the kitchen so she could play and still see me while I finished up. But still most of the time she cried. Definitely a mistake of a new parents. The whole time she just had a view of my back and couldn't see what I was doing, while I kept turning around to reassure her and let her know that I'd be done in a few minutes - while I rushed like a maniac. If I had it to do all over again, I would have put her in a baby chair and sat her up on the counter so she could see what I was doing. That would have avoided a lot of tears and near nervous breakdowns on my part.

Washing the dishes and cooking still isn't something that I can do leisurely, because Astrid gets bored and wants my attention (i.e., she'll bring in books and ask me to read to her and is not all too pleased that I'm preoccupied with something else), but it is a lot easier now. It's easier in part because I can include her by letting her watch or help me (i.e., pouring ingredients, throwing things away like the ends of vegetables, drying the dishes with a dish towel, and using the Swiffer to clean the floors).

Papa's coffee

Astrid can't read yet (she's only 2), but she recognized the Starbucks logo on a stand alone cup in a photo and remarked, "Papa's coffee." And we try so hard to shield her from brands. *sigh* Must be all those Saturday morning trips with Uwe to Starbucks.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Kinder gym class

At the end of class Ms. Iris brings out a drum and announces it's "sticker time". All the kids come together to get stickers and stamps on their hands. Those that are waiting can play the drum. Astrid and Ava playing the drum together.
We went to Peekaboo Playland recently (our first time) and lo and behold Ava was there (the girl sitting next to Astrid). The two little girls instantly recognized one another, and walked towards one another. Astrid said, "Ava", and Ava said, "Astrid." Since then Astrid will ask me where Ava is, or try to tell me that Ava wore her hair in pig tails today. Astrid has started making friends in the class. There are two girls and one boy that she plays with. It's very cute to watch.

After class three of us mom stuck around to let the kids play together and to chat. The other little girl and boy had played together before so Astrid was the newcomer in their circle. I watched as she went to join them and the 2 toddlers got up and walked away. I was happy to see that Astrid didn't give up. She joined them at the drum and started playing along with them, all the while chatting away. Soon both kids accepted her and started playing with her. Especially the boy whose full attention Astrid had captured by talking away and pointing out different things to him.
Her motor development has improved greatly in just the last month. She now can climb up this plank without my assistance. Before she needed to hold my hand to do it, but now it's all about "self self" - she wants to do it by herself.She loves climbing all over this wooden play structure.As well as sitting on top to watch all of the activity below.Going down the slide.Wearing her sticker.This slide is quite fast, as it's at a steep angle, so if she goes down it by herself she'll use her feet to slow herself down.Watching an older kid land on her feet as she goes down the slide.Playing with a gymnastics ribbon.On her way up again.

This two day a week class is great exercise and social development for her. They also play music and sing and dance.Astrid can also climb up a ladder now by herself. (She's all about the ladder in the pool as well.)It's always exciting to see Astrid being able to do new things that she wasn't able to do before.