Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bringing Up Bebe, or Things I Wished I'd Known When I Was a New Parent

Last night I got to work with K. She's been on maternity leave and since her return to work, our schedules hadn't coincided. Her husband brought the baby in, so I got to see her three and a half month old beautiful baby girl. I asked if she's sleeping through the night. "Not yet. She just wakes up once in the night to eat."

I told her that she should check out this book, BRINGING UP BEBEicon. Not that I thought she was doing anything wrong, not at all. It's just that I'd read this book recently and really wished I'd had it when I was a new parent.

Pamela Druckerman wrote BRINGING UP BEBEicon because as an American, an American living in Paris with her husband, and a participant in daily life in France, she observed that children behave differently in France than they do in the U.S. They tend to behave better. She set out to find out why.

Raising her own daughter gave her a chance to examine her own parenting tendencies and observe how the French do things differently.


None of it is rocket science and so much of it makes SENSE.

My first child didn't sleep through the night until he was seven months old. As soon as he would make a peep, either rustling a little in his sleep, or whimpering because he lost his pacifier, I'd rush into his room and try to soothe him back to sleep.

Even before I read this book I realized that that was a mistake. The book just confirmed it and gave valid reasons as to why it was a mistake. rah.

Druckerman describes how the French help their children learn how to sleep through the night. Instead of, like I did and Druckerman did, running into the baby's room every time the infant stirs, the French wait. They pause. They listen to see if the baby really is in need of attention, or if she is just moving around in her sleep cycle and will settle back into a deeper sleep. This waiting, this pause, allows the child to figure out his/her own sleeping abilities and rhythms. Parents running in there at the first sound actually disrupts the children's sleep cycle and inhibits their ability to learn how to get back to sleep on their own. Allowing the baby to settle back into a deeper sleep allows them to "have their nights", as the French put it.

Another thing French parents do is that they expect their children, even little children, to wait. They do not allow their child to demand the parent's attention. They don't give in to whining. If a child, even a very young child, interrupts the parent (on the phone, or in conversation with another person), the parent tells the child firmly and kindly that they need to wait. The parent will be with them in a few minutes. And said parent does not give attention to the child until the few minutes are up.

By giving children an opportunity to wait, for their mother's attention, for food to be prepared, for getting an answer to a question, they are teaching the children how to deal with not knowing. Or not having what they want the moment the idea of it enters their brain. Can you say "delayed gratification"?

I did this a little better than the whole sleeping thing. When my kids would ask a question and want an answer RIGHT NOW, ("Can I sleep over at so-and-so's house this week-end?" "Can I go see a movie with so-and-so tomorrow night?"), I'd say that I have to think about it. If they needed an answer right then, the answer was no. I told them I'd give them an answer after dinner, and the answer might be yes. I did not like feeling pressured to have to answer right that second. And they did learn to wait. (I learned that from my own frustration, not from the French!)

Helping infants "have their nights" and learn how to wait are just a few of the things Druckerman talked about that I wish I'd read and known when I was raising children.

I really liked how Druckerman approached parenting; she was so willing to learn. She did her homework (as my dad would have said), finding out where the French got their ideas and how they've incorporated them into family life in France.

That new parent in your life (even if it's you!) might really appreciate this book! I know I would have.

Clicking on the underlined book title might take to you Barnes and Noble's web page for the book (it's been glitchy). Clicking on the book cover will take you to Amazon's page for the book. Purchasing through either of these links helps support the blog. You can send us email: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Please, Keep Reading!

When I taught third grade, one of my goals every year was to get my kids to read more. To this end, I scheduled 20 minutes every day for the class to read. I had a classroom library where kids could find a good book to read. As homework, I also required that they read for one hour over the week-end. The parents loved this. Some of the kids loved this.

Some kids did not love this. They weren't big readers, so sitting for 20 whole minutes with nothing to do but read was torture. They'd squirm. They'd fidget. There was sighing. There was eye rolling. I told them they had to find something to read, something they'd enjoy reading. They could get a book from the classroom library, they could read a comic book or a magazine. But they had to be reading for those 20 minutes.

I had the philosophy that getting kids to read anything, even if it wouldn't be my first choice of reading material for them, was a good thing. They could get into the practice of reading and later we could work on the quality of their reading material.

As the year progressed, even these reluctant readers would settle in and read. They even started liking it.

When Harry Potter came out, even though I was no longer teaching, I was thrilled. This series got kids reading, and reading a lot. Talking about the books and the characters. But mostly it got kids wanting to read more. Rowling did an excellent job in creating a magical world, and kids devoured it.

And then there was Twilight. Yes, people (often young girls) were reading, and reading and rereading these books, so I should have been happy, right? Kids were reading.

But Bella is such a poor protagonist. She broods. She pines. She puts her life on hold to wait for Edward. "I love him. I know he's dangerous and loving him could hurt me, but I love him." bleah.

And now there is the 50 Shades of Grey craze. People are reading. Lots of people are reading.

People come into the bookstore for the first time ever (they tell us this) looking for this book. People for whom this will be the first book they've purchased (they tell us this too) and the only book they purchase - unless, of course, they buy the rest of the series.

Is this a good thing?

Here again, people are reading. So many people are reading this series. This poorly written, unhealthy portrayal of women and relationships is taking the country by storm. (see this article for a great explanation of why I do not like this series: http://screencrush.com/50-shades-of-grey-movie/)

What bothers me is that so many of the people reading 50 Shades of Grey are not readers. And they are adults. This is their only idea of a literary romance. This is their idea of a good book.

My previous philosophy would hope that people might get started reading, even if they are reading books I think are rather less than good quality.

I really hope that people reading 50 Shades of Grey keep reading. I sincerely hope that this series is not their only vision of a literary relationship.

I hope that they get other ideas of what a relationship is. How about David Levithan's LOVER'S DICTIONARY? Or John Green's THE FAULT IN OUR STARS? Or THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE by Audrey Niffenegger? Or WUTHERING HEIGHTS? Or LOVE STORY by Erich Segal? Or STARDUST by Neil Gaiman? Or even, though his books are pretty sweet for me, Nicholas Sparks?

What other literary romances do you hope that people read?

You can comment right here on the blog...or on our facebook page, NOT the New York Times Book Review. You can also send us email: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Update: Not the New York Times Book Group Either

On July 13, I posted an entry about a new idea for a book group (see the link at the bottom of this post to read the original entry).

Several of you have responded, which makes me think that it is worth trying out this different book group idea!

One person suggested having the group share the books via email, as scheduling a specific time for everyone to meet via chat might be difficult.

I am open to perhaps having two groups, one that meets via chat and another by email (depending, of course, on interest!).

I'd like to hear from you about which you'd prefer..."meeting" and sharing books via email? Or finding a specific time to chat online as a group?

If you are seeing this for the first time, it's not too late to join!

Let me know if you'd prefer email or chat and we'll go from there...I look forward to hearing from you!
You can send email to: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com.


Friday, July 20, 2012

"I Need Some How-to Books..."

A young man, maybe 20 years old, very tan, short dark hair, wearing a blue t-shirt and darker blue cargo shorts came to the Information Desk.

"Can you tell me where the 'how-to' books are?", he asked.

"Well, they are all spread out by subject area," I told him. "The books about how to fish are in the sports section, the books about how to fix things in your home are in the home reference section...What is it you want to know how to do?"

"I just want to know how to do stuff," he replied. "So I want books that tell me how to do things. I need some how-to books."

"You want books that tell you...how to do anything?", I asked.

"Yes," he said.

"Well, we have a lot in the home improvement section, which is over here. We also have some in the science section, how to do math and that kind of thing."

"Can you show me those sections?," he asked.

"Sure, right over here." I took him to the home improvement section and showed him the books about how to fix things and how to build things. Then I took him to the science section and showed him the math books. "Right on the other side of this bay there are also books about how to learn languages", I told him, still not quite sure what it was he was looking for.

"Okay, thanks," he said. "I already found this one," and he showed me a bargain book called "HOW TO READ BODY LANGUAGE."

"Okay, great," I said.

"Well, that was random," I said to a co-worker back at the Information Desk. I told him about the customer's quest to find how-to books.

"Is it that young man over there?" he asked, gesturing to the man I'd been helping.

"Yes," I said.

"Well, he is with someone who is going to have a baby. They were just in the Family and Childcare section looking at baby names. At first I thought they were in the Sexuality section because they were giggling and I couldn't see exactly where they were, but they were actually looking at baby name books. I think he's going to be a dad. And I think he's realizing he has to grow up and figure stuff out, so that's what he's trying to do by trying to find how-to books."


Thanks for checking out the blog! You can send us email: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com. You can also "like" us on our facebook page, NOT the New York Times Book Review.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Is it Time to Step Away From the Computer (and phone)?

I have been known to bemoan the fact that I am not on the computer all day at work. While I use a computer often (cash register and our in-store book search system), I am not able to check news happenings, my email, facebook, etc. at work. While I can check email and texts on my breaks (and yes, I admit that I love my iphone), I don't have access to full internet use at work. Sometimes this has made me feel unconnected to others or to what's going on.

But overall? I think this is a good thing.

Newsweek seems to agree with me.

In the July 16 cover story, Tony Dokoupil talks about how our increased internet use (including emails, texts, social media, news, video gaming, etc.) is changing our brains, our moods and how we interact with the world.

He describes how people are experiencing more depression, anxiety, higher stress, obsessive and compulsive behaviors, suicidal thinking, and addictive behaviors and brain imaging, often, studies are increasingly showing, as a result of higher internet use.

The article bombards (and I use the word bombards in a good way) the reader with studies and facts:

     -A third of smartphone users go online before getting out of bed.

     -People have been treated for "reactive psychosis" as a result of near constant internet use.

     -People are substituting internet use for visiting with people in person, exercise and sleep.

     -In one study, one week of moderate internet use (five hours during the week) was enough to change the brains (prefrontal cortex - determined by brain scan) of people who were rare internet users.

     -Brains of internet addicts look like brains of drug and alcohol addicts.

     -When the new version is released in 2013, the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) will include Internet Addiction Disorder as a diagnosis.

The article describes how China, Korea, and Taiwan are seeing problematic internet use as a national health crisis. One couple in Korea neglected their own infant to death while nurturing a virtual infant online. Another man bludgeoned his mother to death when she suggested he get offline for a while.

Extreme examples? Maybe. And yet...

Studies seem to show that increased internet use, which has increased exponentially since the advent of smart phones and social media, is affecting us in deleterious ways. This article provides some disturbing trends, corroborated by experts.

Sherry Turkle, MIT psychologist and author of ALONE TOGETHER*, talks about her concern about how our interactions with other people are changing because of our increasing need to be digitally connected. If nursing mothers text while nursing, she posits, and experience tension while texting, the infant will experience tension as well, and the infant is "vulnerable to interpreting that tension as coming from within the relationship with the mother." The ramifications of this are scary.

I mentioned above that I've felt unconnected when I'm at work because I do not have full internet access while I'm on the clock. And while our work computers don't allow us to cruise the internet freely, remaining off the internet is at least partly my own decision. I don't carry my phone with me (like some co-workers) and check it every few minutes (like some co-workers). So while this not checking sometimes means that I feel a little out of the loop, it is my choice.

How digitally connected are you? And how does it affect your mood? Your interpersonal interactions? Your life?

*see my blog post about this most excellent book here:

And yes, the irony does not escape me, that you are reading about the dangers of increased internet use on a blog. You can comment on the blog right here on this page. You can also send us email: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Not the New York Times Book Group, either

So I have this idea.

What if there could be...oh wait, first let me give you a little background...

I have been meeting with a couple of friends for several years, ever since we all worked at the same bookstore. In addition to catching up on our lives, we've come together to talk about the books we are reading.

I've loved this. I think of it as our spin on a book group or club.

This is different from more traditional book groups/clubs where one book is selected and everyone reads the same book before the meeting. When the group gathers, they talk about the book. The same book. That everyone read.

The traditional book group has its pluses. It gives everyone the shared experience of the same book. In a good group, members would be free to like the book or dislike the book selection, and the atmosphere of the group would allow for differing points of view to be expressed.

When my friends and I met, we would often bring the actual books we were reading or had just read. It was a literary Show-and-Tell, each of us sharing what we're reading, telling what we liked or didn't like about each book.

Even though we all worked in a bookstore, and often the very same bookstore at the same time, and it would seem that we would all be exposed to the same things, we'd always see something new and interesting brought by one of the others. Often they would bring books I never would have otherwise seen. Almost every time we met I would make a note of some of the books they brought and go get them for myself.

So here's my idea. What if there could be an online book club/group in which each member would bring to the table (or the computer) the books they are reading and we could talk about them? It would have to be something separate from this blog (a chat room? or email?) to make for easier participation by everyone.

I'm eager to give it a try, and I'm willing set it up and facilitate it. Ideally I'd like to have a way to show book covers, to encourage the whole Show-and-Tell aspect of the group, so maybe some sort of email communication (beforehand?) that includes at least pictures of book covers? Then maybe we meet up in a private chat room at a specified date and time? What do you think?

If you think it sounds fun and you'd like to be a part of it, send me an email and we can go from there.

My email address: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com. (Get it? if you read the email address, it's "two of three R's"...and what are the Three R's? I do two of them. You can guess which two.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


...to learn about people and places and things

                    ...to challenge yourself

                                                                  ...to   e s c a p e

...to be delighted

                                    ...to be    t r a n s p o r t e d

                     ...to   r e l a x

                                             ...to be entertained

                     ...to be smarter

...to have something to talk about

                           ...to be a good example to your children

                  ...to reduce S T R E S S

        ...to see another point

...to experience b e a u t y

         ...to increase your vocabulary

                           ...to improve your memory

                                                ...to I M A G I N E

...because it's fun!

Thanks for stopping by the blog! You can "like" us on our facebook page, NOT the New York Times Book Review. You can also send us email: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com. Read more!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Who Doesn't Like to Receive an Award?

I just got an email saying I've been awarded the Liebster Award, presented by tubchairtimes at blogspot (http://tubchairtimes.blogspot.ca/2012/06/liebster-award.html)! How cool is that?

As part of receiving the award, there are questions to be answered. Fun!

Here are her questions (and my answers!):

1. Favourite place to curl up with a book?
On the couch, feet up, with something to eat. And yes, I know you're not supposed to eat and read, you're just supposed to concentrate on eating, but eating and reading is one of my favorite things.

2. What is your ultimate favorite food?
Impossible to choose just one. Steak. Salmon. Turkey with cranberry sauce. Stuffing. Ice cream from Salt and Straw (Oprah likes one of their flavors too). Chocolate. Everything Salad from Le Happy.

3. Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging as a way to be disciplined about writing and have a creative outlet. Writing about books and reading? It's the best.

4. E-books or hard copies?
Both. I love books - the look, the feel, the personalities of books (have you seen the hardcover version of THE NIGHT CIRCUS? incredible). And, sometimes I love the ease and convenience of e-reading.

5. If you could be any animal which would you be?
A dog. Or a cat. And it would have to be our dog or cat because they have pretty good lives.

6. Which superhero would you most like to chill with?
Catwoman maybe? Or the Incredible Hulk?

7. Which planet would you most like to explore?
Jupiter. It's always intrigued me...it's so huge and it's got all those moons.

8. What band/musician would you love to see live?
Fun. Adele. Young@Heart. Gotye.

9. You get one wish upon a star, what is it?
That booksellers would be paid more. And world peace.

10. If you could be a character from any book, show, or movie, who would you be?
Katniss. Or Milo from The Phantom Tollbooth.

11. Today is your last day to live, if you could do anything (anything!) how would you spend your day?
Since I can do anything, I would know enough ahead so I could travel to a fabulous island with my loved ones. And the travel would be before the last day. I want the whole last day to BE there. I'd spend it by the ocean with the people most important to me, having fun and laughing. There would be rum punch.

And 11 random facts about me:

1. I've changed my name 4 times.

2. My hair used to be straight. Now it's curly.

3. I've lived in five states.

4. My brother is one year, one month, one week, and one day younger than me. (she said "random". I think this qualifies.)

5. I've taken classes in three different languages (French, Spanish, and German). I don't speak any of them well.

6. I don't really like beer.

7. I was married for 25 years and now am infinitely happier being with a woman.

8. I've been to Africa, Indonesia, Mexico, London, Canada, Alaska, Hawaii. There are more places to visit. I love to travel.

9. I love astronomy.

10. I taught third grade.

11. I love the ocean, not just warm, tropical beaches/ocean, but also chilly northern oceans and beaches.

Thank you, lemonstar, for the award!

And thank you for stopping by the blog! You can send email to: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com. You can also "like" us on our facebook page, NOT the New York Times Book Review.