Parenting

New Year Update and Parenting a 6 year Old Tip of the Day – 16th January 2015

This is my 1st post of 2015! Happy New Year Everyone.

It has been a while since my last post so there may not be anyone out there. If there is then let me thank you for reading and let me assure you that there are many more posts on the way.

Before the Tips – What’s new in Kam’s world?

My wife gave birth to our second daughter 3 1/2 weeks ago so I have been composing a post with lots of tips for parents of newborn babies. We need all the help we can get and I thought it would be great to share the few tips we have discovered and uncovered beneath the pile of milk soaked muslin cloths.

Amongst all the chaos of dealing with the 2 kids, the hurricane of tea drinking visitors wishing to share the joy of our newborn with us, Christmas, and my sister having a baby just 2 weeks after our second daughter was born, I somehow managed to watch the Doctor Who Christmas Special “Last Christmas” last week. I have also finished reading the Christmas edition of Doctor Who Magazine and I watched 2 classic Doctor Who serials (spoiler alert – Colony in Space is brilliant) between rocking my baby daughter to sleep and failing to be of any use when it came to helping my 6 year old daughter with her maths homework. I am working on Doctor Who blog posts in addition to the parenting ones too.

I also discovered the magic of cooking with coconut oil over the last few months, which has really helped calm down my IBS-D and as a side effect helped me lose over 1 stone of weight. Blog posts on this subject to follow.

The Tips – Space Books

Anyway, back to the theme of this short post. I will endeavour to post a useful tip related to the subjects I blog about here at Kamblog. Today’s tip is a Parenting one related to the love of science fact (as opposed to science fiction) that my fiction-hating 6 3/4 year old daughter has developed recently. My daughter refused to read or be read any fiction books with the exception of Mr.Men or Little Miss books, but she adores all things space themed.

These 2 books have been the most fun to read with her and are the best in terms of the right level of detail and ease of understanding.

See Inside Space – Usborne Flap Book

Official Link | Link on Amazon.co.uk

See Inside Space Usborne Flap Book

See Inside Space Usborne Flap Book

This is by far the best book about Space for kids that we have at home.

The Usborne See Inside Flap Book series, which covers lots of different subjects such as the Human Body, Castles, History, Nature and more, is a must for every parent of a children in Primary/ Elementary school.

This book, like all the other flap books, is full of useful information that even the adult readers will find informative. It is written in a really accessible, fun and humorous way that appeals to my daughter. She has now started to open the flaps and read the facts to me. This Book on Space is also full of facts about the Big Bang and the history of man’s fascination with space and space exploration. I find it’s open and honest style refreshing. For example on the Big Bang page it asks the reader How Do We Know and Who actually saw the Big Bang and is not afraid to tell us Nobody saw it and we really aren’t sure why it happened! Letting kids understand that science hasn’t answered every question we have and that’s OK is so empowering.

The illustrations are visually striking and although there is a lot of information in this book, the way it is presented is so clever that you and your child don’t feel bogged down or bored reading it.

If you only ever get one book about Space then this is the one I recommend. It’s has proven a useful aid to this science-fiction loving father when I watch Doctor Who and need to refresh my memory about certain space related facts. If my daughter can get over her dislike of fiction then hopefully this book will sow the seeds of curiosity and a fascination with space and time that might make her a Whovian one day (one can hope!)

National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Space

Official Link | Link on Amazon.co.uk

Little Kids First Big Book of SpaceThis book is clear, colourful, and up to date with modern space facts (many libraries still have books where Pluto is one of the “9 Planets in the Solar System”) such as Pluto being classified as a Dwarf Planet these days. My daughter loves it and we keep re-reading it, which is helpful as it tells you the correct way of pronouncing Dwarf Planets Ceres and Makemake, so I no longer embarrass myself as the amateur science geek that I in fact am. I highly recommend it. National Geographic also have a great Space themed sticker book that my sticker loving daughter can’t get enough of.

 

Bonus Tip – This is an activity book rather than a straight-forward fact book but it’s great nonetheless.

Super Space Sticker Activity Book (National Geographic Kids)

Official Link | Link on Amazon.co.uk

Kids Super Space Sticker Book (National Geographic)

Kids Super Space Sticker Book (National Geographic)

 

My daughter loves sticker books and this is great because in addition to stickers of stars, planets, aliens and more it also has drawing activities, maze, pattern and spelling games.

 

 

 

 

I hope that you found these Space Book recommendations useful and that you enjoyed the 1st post of a new year. With so much going on in the life of Kam I certainly have much more to blog about and share with the cybersphere.

Virtual Reality Doctor Who

Oculus Rift Virtual reality Headset

Oculus Rift Virtual reality Headset

I’m supposed to be watching this PHP Web Development course. It is part of the exciting journey that I’m on, teaching myself computer programming and building my own private social network website. However its hard to concentrate when your 5 ¾ year old daughter and her 2 hyper-active school friends are downstairs screaming, dancing loudly to you tube videos on the Apple TV and crying every 5 minutes as they injure themselves on doors, floors, tables and each other. I thought removing all the non-foam toy swords from the lounge would help. I thought wrong. At least they won’t bend my Darth Vader toy Light Saber. It’s safely hidden in the loft.

So being surrounded by distractions, I thought I’d do what I haven’t done in a while. Take a break from coding and update my blog.

I haven’t posted much recently. This is not for want of things to say, or lack of things happening to me. On the contrary, far too much has happened in my life recently. Most of it has been unpleasant. Extremely thought provoking and insightful? Yes.  Sowing the seeds of emotional maturity and growth? Maybe. Painful and depressing? Definitely. Do I want to blog about it? It might help me, but I think not. My marital, financial and emotional wellbeing are pretty fragile at the moment. However, on the plus side, I have come across some cool things that distracted me, in a pleasant way, and I feel are worth sharing in the blogosphere.

1) On Writing:

I read this somewhere the other day. “A writer is anyone who has something to say and a burning desire to say it”. That’s me, except without the talent.

Creative writing has always been the main outlet for processing my thoughts and experiences. This is because my childhood home wasn’t somewhere where you were allowed to be open and honest about your thoughts and feelings. You were free to feel and say what you wanted, as long as it was exactly what my parents wanted you to feel and think. They were like this with each other, and fought violently all the time. It was a really tense and volatile atmosphere of fear, abuse and neglect, but the most important thing drilled into me was not to tell anyone about it. Especially not them. They are not good listeners, and are much better talkers, or lecturers to be frank. They overwhelmed me with years of constant verbal bombardments on how I should live my life (essentially for them) and why everything I seemed to think and feel was wrong.

They didn’t have blogs or even the World Web Web when I was growing up. The closest I got to the internet was the 1983 film WarGames. Watching Matthew Broderick connect to a noisy old school modem and take the world to the brink of nuclear Armageddon was surfing for my generation. I did have pencils and paper though, courtesy of my dad’s stationary cupboard at work. I poured all my frustrations and dreams of escape and freedom into stories. I found creative writing more natural than writing a dairy or thought journal. I loved making up fictional protagonists, who had the same troubles as me, but ways of overcoming them unavailable to me. If only I was a super-hero with mind reading powers and a winning lottery ticket, then I could put all my plans to overcome my difficulties into action. In many ways I am still the same. I still love to write, but have no time to do it. I barely have enough time to fix the leaking garage roof or broken gutters pouring green moss filled rain into my rotting garage door.

There I go again, going off on a tangent. My blog posts are too long. I need to keep them short. It’s not easy when you have so much to say and no–one to say it to.

2) On Dr. Who:

Patrick Troughton is the most fantastic Dr. Who I have come across so far. I have still yet to watch any Dr. Who episodes with the 3rd Doctor (Jon Pertwee), 5th Doctor (Peter Davison) or 6th Doctor (Colin Baker), and I’m a big Matt Smith fan. However, having spent the last few weeks watching classic black and white Doctor Who episodes form the late 1960’s,with Patrick Troughton as the 2nd doctor, I have to say I am entranced. He has a much wider range of character traits and facets than William Hartnell’s 1st Doctor, much as I loved him. He brings to the role an eclectic mix of tomfoolery, eccentricity, humour, wit, genius, child-like curiosity, hand wringing and funny walks, which all suddenly collapse when he gets angry and show’s how much depth, courage and feeling he truly has. I’ve even grown to like his companion Jamie, whose lack of genius highlights the doctor’s superior cerebral powers, but who is at least loyal and caring. I’m not so convinced about wearing a kilt in Ice Age Britain or on a moon base though.

It’s a real shame many of the Troughton Who episodes are missing. The Enemy of the World, a serial previously missing for decades, and recently re-discovered and re-mastered, was amazing. His Mexican accent may have left a little to be desired, but Patrick Troughton’s slimy, smooth, evil genius dictator wannabe Salamander was a great performance, especially in contrast to the raggedy man, dishevelled doctor. Thanks to the marvellous Apple TV for enabling me to sit back and watch episode after episode without buying DVD boxsets I have no space for. And thanks again to my good friends Paul and James for starting their wonderful Cricket and Doctor Who podcast show last year. I’m still not a fan of cricket (I don’t have enough time to get into that too) but they have helped me rediscover my inner geek and find something legal that stimulates my neurons in an exciting way.

3) On Virtual reality:

Virtual reality may finally be coming to a home near you. I grew up on 1990’s sci-fi, from Star Trek The Next Generation’s Holodeck, to the virtual reality games machines used by Lister in classic British Sci-Fi comedy Red Dwarf. The closest I ever got to VR was watching a pre-James Bond Pierce Brosnan ponce about unconvincingly in The Lawnmower Man film, when my parents finally got cable TV. I was sold on the idea of Virtual Reality (especially as I hate mowing the lawn)and I’ve been waiting ever since.

Given what I mentioned above, about my inability to experience much freedom in real life, the idea of escaping in to a fantasy world of alien planets or tropical jungles all through the power of immersive virtual reality really appeals to me.

I’m not much of a computer gamer. I lack the time, fancy consoles or attention span. Even my daughter understands Lego StarWars on the Wii better than me. However hope may be at hand. I came across an article talking about something called the Oculus Rift. It is a virtual reality headset that was showcased at this year’s CES in Las Vegas. It looks amazing. I want one. Maybe someone can develop a Dr. Who virtual reality game where me and my friends board the Tardis and are whisked away by Patrick Troughton’s 2nd doctor, to fight hissing Ice Warriors from Mars using only his recorder (he didn’t have a sonic screwdriver in the serial, although I recently got a key-ring 11th doctor one if that would help).

4) On Twitter:

Life would be much simpler if I wasn’t interested in so many things, although it would be duller. Posting my Follow Fridays on Twitter today made me realise that I follow too many people and media outlets. The problem is who to cull? My main issue is that I am interested in far too many things. From science to history, art to socialism, music to comic books, virtual reality to web development, Dr. who to psychology, economics to the local traffic updates, food intolerance diets to computer programming, Irritable Bowel syndrome to Woody Allen Movies, my life is full of noise. Well that’s what my wife keeps calling it these days. Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The problem is that too much noise can, and often does, overwhelm you. I can’t read everything I want to read. I’d love to explore and research all the random questions that pop up in my head, but I’m not in a financial position to do so. Anyway, the point is that the world is full of so much intellectual and cultural richness, even if I’m too poor to be able to devote my life to swimming in this pool of knowledge and ideas. If I could plug my brain directly into my twitter stream I am sure I’d never get bored or feel deflated. And I don’t even follow Justin Bieber.

Parenting Weblinks

When a close friend of mine was being congratulated on father’s day for his first father’s day and he posted pictures of his first father’s day meal (which looked delectable), I started to get extremely confused as I was sure his wife was due to give birth to their baby in August. It started my wife and I discussing whether or not he was already a father and the conversation became far more complex and philosophical than my over taxed brain was capable off.

Anyway that was 2 weeks ago. Today I finally got round to checking my ancient Hotmail email account (the 3rd email account I got after my first – Altavista, remember them anyone?, and my second – Yahoo, remember when they were a search engine?), and low and behold my friend had sent an email 3 days before Father’s day (which is 16th June here in the UK) letting us know his wife had had the baby! It was great news to hear on a day when I struggled to get out of bed due to a body that is so stiff (I played squash again last night, for 4th week in a row, after an absence of about 5 years) that I could be re-christened the Man of Steel (in the inflexible steel rod sense).

Anyway it encouraged me to go back and work on the parenting links I had been due to put up on my work-in-progress website, Razaweb.com, which is an archive of all the links I have found useful over the years, by the subjects that I am interested in or have affected me and been part of my life.

I have been a parent for 5 years and I love it, although no amount of blogs or books can ever truly describe what the experience entails. You just have to live it to understand it, and everyone understands it in their own way. It is hard at times, lots of times, but the rewards are worth it, at least for me and my wife. Our daughter has always been well behaved and well mannered (thanks to good mothering I stress) and generally calm, but she has started to get a little bit spoilt, crying towards the tantrum level just when she doesn’t get the ice-cream or treat she wants or see’s another kid have. This is not great, as if she expects to be given treats whenever she opens her mouth then she’ll be sorely disappointed and shocked when she grows up and realises life doesn’t always give you what you shout for.

As my wife constantly reminds me (she is a child psychologist) children need boundaries. It makes them feel safe and helps them process the realities of life when they grow up. It is something I agree with, as I am trying to develop this myself, having suffered the consequences of being materially spoilt too much as a child myself.

Anyway, my flow of thoughts on parting were interrupted by the Delivery man who brought over the needed Blue Polo Shirts I ordered when the sun was finally beating through the perpetually grey UK sky last week.

So until the next blog post.

Good Luck all you new parents out there!

New dad and baby