Friday, September 20, 2013

Rosy's scrawled book recommendation: The Wonder Weeks by Hetty van de Rijt, Ph.D and Frans Plooij, Ph.D

The Wonder Weeks
Hetty van de Rijt, Ph.D
Frans Plooij, Ph.D

Your Baby's Developing Mind: What a Wonder-ful World!
In The Wonder Weeks, you'll discover the specific dates during their first 14 months when all babies take eight major developmental leaps. And you'll learn how to help your baby through the eight great "fussy phases" that mark these leaps within a week or two. 
Wonder week by wonder week, you'll see how your baby's mind is developing. Now you will know which games and toys are best for your baby during each key week and how to encourage each leap forward. Calendars, charts, and checklists help you track your baby's progress-- and finally make sense of his fussy behaviour.
This is a baby book like no other. It will be your indispensable guide to the crucial "wonder weeks" of your baby's first year.

Rodale Books


Rosy's scrawlings on The Wonder Weeks
I'm writing this as a new mum with a 7 week old (tomorrow). You might think that I've had little use for this book yet, considering the age of my bub, but you'd be terribly wrong. This book has been the most helpful for me, and through me my husband, in knowing what's coming and keeping cool through the roughest times. While other baby care books spend all or most of their time on things like changing nappies and medical advice and methods of dealing with crying, this book has been the only one I've come across that's told me specifically why my bub might be acting as he does. And knowing why makes all the difference. It elevates my ability to relate from brand spanking new mum with no clue what to do but wrap, attempt to soothe and cry it out to responding to my bub's problems more directly. This started with knowing before he was even born just how he might experience the world. I also had a practical experience lesson during the pethidine drug trip I had to have for the pain that was making me want to throw up (I was c-ed for pre-eclampsia and his head not dropping and as it turned out this was an excellent thing as the cord was around his neck too). While under I heard light and saw music (which happened to be a Fats Waller track that was playing) and when in the recovery room I thought to myself that this must be a touch of the synesthesia that is mentioned to be the newborn's world before the first 'great' leap. The book and my drug trip helped me no end, I have to say. I could understand why my bub was the little dependent bundle he was and not just for the lack of knowledge and know-how. Understanding just what is and what changes and what is to come lets me and my hubby work out what we'd like to do in response before we're backs to the wall, fighting off the flood of screams, soiled nappies, snatched hair, sleepless nights, feeding problems and whatever else that comes along. Because, if you're new to this too, I can already say that the calm definitely comes before the storm and what you know as routine is nothing (or rather usable for that day and maybe, if you're lucky, a day or two to come). Chaos be a bub but The Wonder Weeks gives you a lot of very useful information to steer your collective life by. Instead of always feeling a step or many behind your bub's mood swings and mental changes you can now see those rough times ahead, have all your contingency plans ready, know when it is a good idea or bad to have your bub in someone else's care (mine becomes clingy and easily disturbed when he's otherwise unswayed by much and happy to adventure into other people's arms), know when it might be best not to go to that whatever as while it might be difficult at home it will be ten times more so away from home, when your bub is crying for new experiences rather than pain or tiredness, what sort of experiences might be wanted and so on. Some of the information may seem obvious, other bits you'll never have known or considered and more may be slightly different or N/A (as they say) to what you experience. And the times the growth spurts occur may vary too but if you read ahead this won't be an issue. My advice. As soon as your bub has passed a stage, read about the next and begin bracing yourself. Make that comfy spot on the couch, build yourself a castle, get as much organised beforehand as you can and settle in to being at your bub's moody whims for a while. Soon enough the calm will come and you can read on to the next step while you reclaim part of your life back again.
The Wonder Weeks is written for someone mostly mentally cooked (addle brained) but without condescending them. The layout is spacious, with lots of gaps, breaks in the text and large font for tired eyes. Still, the information is to the point and smoothly delivered. As mentioned, your experiences may vary but this book rarely guides you in how to as it focuses more on why and what. How you deal with the situation is largely left to you, which, I must say, suits my temperament as a new mum perfectly. I like to be able to figure it out myself and do things my way rather than always follow someone else's word. Why? Because me, my bub, my hubby, my surrounds, my supplies, my previous and post routines and my lifelines are all different to anyone else's. Obviously I need to get through my way. This makes The Wonder Weeks a far more useful baby book than most.
There are also notes from mothers (at least a few from fathers could have been included, especially father's on their own - the entire baby care industry and even parent health is very oriented towards mothers to the exclusion of fathers) that may come in handy for balancing your emotions and thoughts. For those who worry, self-analyse and generally tear themselves and their partners (if present) apart for it these notes may help bring a little peace. You aren't alone in your concerns and sometimes just knowing that and reading about what others have done to overcome certain problems will help. If, on the other hand, you're more headstrong, accepting of your own faults and/or have a little inner calm these notes can be skipped or read for the solutions as you please. No way of doing things is a problem although best not tear yourself and your partner (if present) apart as you are your bub's lifeline and best not lose your cool so much you harm your bub. If you think that's about to happen then follow all the normal advice and step away to get someone else's help. Every book and experienced parent and baby care pro will tell you that and that piece of advice is one to follow absolutely.

I'd recommend this book to: every new and some more experienced mums, dads and grandparents. I can even imagine this will come in handy to early childhood workers, older siblings helping to or in charge of minding their younger siblings and anyone else in close contact with a baby for a significant period of time.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Rosy's scrawled manga recommendation: Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou by Yamauchi Yasunobu

Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou
Yamauchi Yasunobu

High school boys are really simple and curious creatures. They want one and only one thing: girls. But they haven’t got a clue about them. Male teenagers are dumbfounded by the girls’ thought process, actions, appearance and everything in between. They spend countless hours amongst themselves discussing and arguing their theories which are usually completely off base. If only they had the courage to ask them instead of screwing around and talking about nonsensical things, they might get somewhere.

Alternative names
Daily Lives of High School Boys
Danshi Kōkōsei no Nichijō
Danshi Kokosei no Nichio


Manga reader sites (free)

Rosy's scrawlings on Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou
This manga, mostly known to me by the title Daily Lives of High School Boys, is unusual in its construction. The manga is more like a comic strip in structure, following the short adventures and conversations of three high school boys and later three high school girls. The boys are the first to reveal their idiosyncrasies and idiocy. They spend their time playing role play games, wearing girl's underwear, gossiping and wondering just how a high school boy is supposed to get a girlfriend, not to mention what makes a man cool. Dotted in amongst these stories are ones of awkward 'conversations' about the wind, meant to impress but the timidity and fear of the high school boy's mind is revealed in full. There's much to laugh at in Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou and the girls are just as worthy of being laughed at as the boys. The girls, however, keep creating challenges and battles in order to find out who is the strongest, exchange fierce words with enemies and beat up the unruly boys. All while wondering at the boys' strangeness and at times wondering how they can get a boyfriend.
Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou is a long series of comic-strip-like comedies of errors that snatch your attention yet allow you to read the stories at any speed you like. The humour is light and the insights into high school boys and girls amusingly accurate even if they are rather playful. There is a slow culmination of events but it is quite possible to read the strips individually and even start the stories at a random spot, although character introduction and relationship may need to be caught up on.
The art of Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou is made up, by and large of a lot of close up stills. The wild action is limited unless the story is, for example, about role play or wearing female underwear (which usually leads to the boys being beaten up by disgruntled females missing said underwear). This leaves many panels focusing on expressions and stances to convey the variety of thoughts and emotions the characters experience. This may seem minimalist for a manga but the illustration style matches the short strip structure of Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou.

I'd recommend this manga to: those who like stories that offer little slices of life, short comic strips, anything comedy of errors and the lives of high school boys and girls.

Notes on manga reader sites
The quality of manga readers can vary. The uploads are often done cheaply or as a serious hobby by a collective. Be aware that sometimes licence hasn't been given but the sites noted above, Manga Fox in particular, are extremely careful about adding and pulling mangas according to license agreements. So you shouldn't have to worry too much about the material being pirated. There are also translated works and non-translated. Amongst the translated works you will find that the quality of translation may vary according to the skills of the translators. Usually the works are perfectly readable anyway, with only a few added or dropped words or a word in the incorrect tense or with/out plurals. But sometimes the text becomes gobbledygook. In which case, either seek another version or give up and buy an official copy once a printed translation comes out. The other issue of note is you may need to expand the screen to read the text easily as sometimes the scans are minimised a little.
I find that if a page doesn't download properly or some other issue occurs (too slow or someone ordered the pages incorrectly etc.) with one reader then skipping across to another reader and picking up where I was is quite easy and rarely annoying.
Otherwise, enjoy and watch out you don't get too addicted you forget about the necessary things in life.