Friday, January 30, 2015

Tying the emotions to the memory

Right now, my son remembers lots of stuff. He remembers what we did for his birthday last year and he remembers being in his Nana's wedding when he was two. He remembers games we used to play and trips we've been on. But, he doesn't remember what he had for lunch at school.

That's probably because my son doesn't have any emotional involvement with his lunch.

It will be several years before my son starts losing his memories, and it will be even longer before we figure out what his first memory will become. But the research shows that it will probably be tied to emotion. Making our memories emotionally meaningful in some way, means that we will hold onto them longer.

Scientists are currently using this information to help patients with dementia, but I think it could easily be applied to children as well. Here are a few ways to help your children tie their emotions to their memories.
  1. Talk about them. Ask them how they felt about an event or an activity in their lives.
  2. Look at pictures. The visual images help bolster the connections.
  3. Share your own emotions. Sometimes children have a hard time putting the right names to how they feel, so give them the vocabulary to help them label what they feel.
What do you do with your children to help them hold onto their memories? Share your tips in the comments.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Why cookbooks are awful

This weekend, I am getting rid of the majority of my cookbooks. I'm beyond fed up with them.

Let me explain.

For my 100 challenge last year, I tried out 100 new recipes to add to the repertoire of yummy dishes my family already loves. Friends and family learned about the challenge and sent me cookbooks. And after a year of flipping through them, this what I learned:
  1.  The trendier the cookbook, the worse off you are. I think that most families (especially with children) have a picky eater in them. And I really do not like having arguments at the dinner table. Yes, my family will try something new, but there are limits: I had one cookbook that touted 10 recipes that included chard. Chard. We were not going to eat that.
  2. The do ahead cookbooks waste your time. Yes, there is something great to be said about doing prep work ahead of time. But, cookbooks that have you clocking in 90 minutes of prep work before you even start cooking need to go away.
  3. Most of the cookbooks today are filler. If you already know how to cook, you really don't need a 100-page section of the cookbook telling you the basics. For some cookbooks, recipes are an afterthought.
  4. Cookbooks are expensive. I would often only use one or two recipes out of a book that cost $28. So each of those recipes cost $14. Not worth it.
Here's how I kept my sanity throughout the project.
  1. I looked for recipes online. Sites like gave me access to thousands of recipes that were tried by actual people. And, I could search by ingredient to make sure that the recipe contained something that my family would eat.
  2. Chopping on the weekends. I did prep work for longer recipes on the weekends, but I kept weekday meal prep time to under 45 minutes so we could eat at a decent hour.
  3. Make your own recipe book. If I did find a recipe in a cookbook, I just copied it into the binder where I keep of all our family recipes. No need to keep that extra book in the house.
  4. Be realistic. You can't serve new dishes every night of the week. Limit it to two. Otherwise family members will revolt.
I'll be dropping off all those extra books at my local book swap shop this weekend. (Think of the shelf space, I'll gain!)

So, only one question remains: What's for dinner tonight? Tell me in the comments.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sharing the pain

Every delivery story is different. Mine involves my husband looking at some monitors and telling me when I was having a contraction. (Thanks, honey. I knew that.) I figured he was just nervous and didn't realize what he was doing. At no point of time did I want to throw him out of the delivery room.

But according to the hospital staff that gave us the tour of the birthing center, lots of women do ask their husbands to leave the room. And that might actually be a good idea. It turns out that women who don't feel a strong sense of intimacy with their partners, might actually experience more pain during delivery.

And more pain is not something women need during childbirth.

For women who do feel rewarding intimacy with their partners, the story is not that much better. It turns out that men in the delivery room - at best - have a neutral effect on relieving their partner's pain.

And yet, knowing all that, I am still glad that my husband was there. It was a big moment for all three of us - him, me and our son. And that is what I remember - not the pain.

Share your delivery room experience with me - were you glad your husband was there or not? Tell me in the comments.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Stalking your children with technology

We had a sound/video baby monitor in my son's bedroom for the first two-and-a-half years of his life. Through that little camera, I watched him sleep, kick out of his blankets, sit up in his bed, and even saw the time our cat ended up in his crib and meowed out for help when she realized she was trapped.

When we moved we didn't install the camera in his new room. And since then, I haven't missed it.

But I realize there will come a time when I have to start monitoring him again: When he gets his own cell phone.

Unless something major changes between now and the time my son is old enough to have a cell phone, I am pretty sure monitoring his use of it will be inevitable. There will come a time when I, like the other parents in this piece from the Sun-Sentinel will find a tech company that allows me to monitor texts, calls and online access.

But here's what I think I may do a little differently:
  1. I'm going to tell him that I have a way to monitor him and why I am doing it.
  2. His phone will have a curfew.
  3. We're still going to have ongoing conversations about privacy.
  4. We can reopen the conversation about monitoring and privacy when he is old enough to date.
I don't want to be one of those parents who abuses the monitoring technology, but I do want to make sure I am there to discuss moments when he makes a misstep.

Do you currently use an app to track your child's cell phone use? What do you like about it and what do you wish it did differently? Tell me in the comments.