Tuesday, May 02, 2006

(darn blogger -- no trackback. I thought this was a good enough comment to Parenthacks to post here.)

Over at Parenthacks, Asha's posted a query: "Creativity and parenting: do they mix?"

My answer is "Yes, definitely." My personal brand of creativity is not of the music/writing/art ilk but the technical/business sort, but I have rarely felt more creative (starting with my 2nd trimester of pregnancy). I've applied for a patent, developed and led a project, and started a new team in the last year and a half (and that's just at work!). For my personal life, I'm building a web application/starting a business, contributing to Parenthacks, blogging some on my own, designing a new patio, and planning creative parties for friends getting married this year. I can truly say I've never been more creative.

I think there are a number of reasons for this:
1) having a child pulls your values in sharp contrast -- I ask myself "is this what I want to be modelling for my daughter?" (In my case I realize I want the same values my parents instilled in me -- ownership of decisions, entrepeneurship, independence -- for J.)
2) I'm stuck at home more -- after 8 every night I have 3 hours of uninterrupted time to do things. Previously I would have gone out. Now I value that time much more.

I do think there are a number of things that make creative pursuits more possible:
1) working a day job -- I am able to switch focus 3 times during the day -- work time, J. time, and me time. For me, I know spending all of my time with J. would probably not work as well, but having some very discrete family time and other discrete work time is very effective.
2) getting your life together -- to do lists, reducing stress, finding help you trust, and a job that isn't *that* demanding.
3) no TV. I never get anything done if I watch TV, even if it's all on DVD. Web surfing can also be bad, and I occasionally institute a "no web surfing before noon" rule to keep myself focused.
4) getting a full night's sleep. I was miserable before J. started sleeping through the night. I think this justifies the maniacal focus I had on the "sleeping through the night thing."

So creative pursuits and children? Definitely!

Gracious Living: Silver Baby Cup

My daughter was given a silver baby cup engraved with her name for a gift. One might think that a silver cup is an impractical gift, but I have found to be a lovely gift. Instead of putting it away, we sat it on her windowsill. As J. got older, it became a diaper-changing-time toy. Yes, it got banged and dropped, but that just put some nice dents in it to make it heirloom quality. Ben has given J. water out of it in an attempt to teach her to drink from a cup. Somewhat messy, as any non-sippy-cup would be, but the cup is lightweight, unbreakable, and easy for a young child to hold and sip out of.

Monday, May 01, 2006

More of my Parenthacks:

Orisinal online games: simple, subtle, fun

A trick for getting medicine into babies

Target's prescription bottles simplify measuring and dispensing medicine

Teaching kids to use chopsticks

Podcast on getting children to eat well

And on BabyGadget, Intellicot. (Jenna did not link to this blog in her post, despite my including the link in the email. Guess I'll have to be more blunt about it in the future.)
This looks to be a good idea for Christmas gifts: Gourmet Peanut Butter. Cranberry Cinnamon Peanut Butter, anyone?

Handmade foodstuff makes great gifts -- cheap, disposable, and most people really like it. A friend and I made mustards for Christmas a couple of years ago, and I was suprised at how easy they were and how much people liked them.
Other ideas in this category include beef jerky, sugared nuts, baked goods, homebrew beer, cider or mead, and flavored liquors. I tend to pick something that is a "trendy" food and design a homemade label to go with it. Including the recipe drives home the "homemade" point.

Here's some peanut butter recipes to get you started:
Chocolate Peanut Butter

Homemade Peanut Butter Recipes