*What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children* Giveaway & Book Tour

This is my very first book review on this blog, and even more exciting is that I get to give away a prize to a random reader! Sarah MacLaughlin is someone I’ve had the absolute pleasure to get to know as a person and a mom. I’m thrilled to be the first stop on the book tour celebrating the e-book release of her book What Not to Say. Before I jump into the book review, allow me to introduce Sarah.

Sarah MacLaughlin has worked with children and families for over twenty years. With a background in early childhood education, she has previously been both a preschool teacher and nanny. Sarah is currently a licensed social worker at The Opportunity Alliance in South Portland, Maine, and works as the resource coordinator in therapeutic foster care. She serves on the board of Birth Roots, and writes the “Parenting Toolbox” column for a local parenting newspaper, Parent & Family. Sarah teaches classes and workshops locally, and consults with families everywhere. She considers it her life’s work to promote happy, well adjusted people in the future by increasing awareness of how children are spoken to today. She is mom to a young son who gives her plenty of opportunities to take her own advice about What Not to Say.

As parents, teachers, or caregivers to children there will probably be a million times that a sentence or phrase comes out of our mouth and as soon as it hits the air we wish we could extend a frog tongue and snap it back in. Sometimes we know exactly why it wasn’t the right choice in words (“What is wrong with you??”), sometimes it just didn’t sound right (“Good boy!”), and sometimes it just elicits a bewildered stare from your child that tells you the language was not processed (“Come on! Give me a break!”). Without wagging a finger at you, Sarah MacLaughlin’s book, What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children, sheds light on language adults use with children.

I realize that raising a child to grow into an adult with minimal therapy cost really comes down to communication. I also realize that I model language skills and communication skills to my children (and the children I babysat and teach in school). Sarah goes through all of those cliche parenting quips from “I’ll give you something to really cry about,” to “What’s the magic word?” and gives adults the alternative. It’s hard enough knowing you’re saying the “wrong” thing, but Sarah doesn’t leave you high and dry there, she runs through a suggested scenario using words that you won’t feel phony hearing come out of your mouth. You won’t have to bite your tongue and smooth down your hair before coming up with a response to your toddler darting into the road, refusing to put on shoes, or sticking beans up their nose. What Not to Say gives you the tools to communicate in an authentic way. A way that you and your child can respect.

Even better [,says the bookworm,] than helping you deal with your child’s emotions and behavior is the fact that after each specific phrase that you shouldn’t say and the alternative suggestion, a children’s book is recommended that directly relates to the behavior exhibited by your child. This gives you another way to communicate with a young child using relatable language.

The end of this book refers to the power struggle parents often find themselves in due to the language and often physical response it evokes. Sarah refers to this as the “balancing act.” Being in control, but not having it be about control.

The day I began reading What Not to Say I had taken Liam and Nora to a friend’s house to swap around gendered baby clothes. As Liam scrambled up onto the couch and tore through every piece of folded and sorted miniature clothing I thought in my head, What the hell is wrong with you??? Except that’s just the archaic response our brains have been trained to react with. I’m smart and intuitive enough to know that my 2 year old just spent the day at daycare, is probably hungry, and tired of being corralled into one room when he really wanted to explore this new space with lots of other off-limit rooms. As discussed in Sarah’s book, I narrated the disaster I was watching before my eyes, stating out loud what he was doing and that it was not okay because those belong to someone else who worked hard to make those clothes neat. Liam responded by clambering up the side of the recliner and swiping at the stack of clothes there. I told him that was enough, I understood he was ready to leave and I was trying to get everything together as fast as I could. I asked my 25 month old for some patience. {sigh} I’ll keep practicing this. Maybe by the time Nora and I need to communicate beyond nursing, pooping, and soothing to sleep I’ll be a pro, thanks to What Not to Say.

Here comes the 1st ever giveaway on The Bebe Diaries!

Please comment on this post so that you can enter to win an ebook copy of Sarah Maclaughlin’s book, What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children, in the format of your choice: PDF, epub, or Kindle format. Sarah will be giving away 1 copy at each blog stop! (Other stops during this Blog Tour are listed here: http://sarahsbalancingact.blogspot.com/p/blog-tour.html)

Also, be sure to enter at Sarah’s site (http://sarahsbalancingact.blogspot.com/p/blog-tour.html) for the Grand Prize Giveaway: a Kindle Touch.


Oh My Namaste, I Needed That

Tonight I started a prenatal yoga class taught by a mommy friend, Lara Schneider.  Her son is equally as “active” as Liam and they are buds together at their school, ROOTS.  Lara has this calm, but inviting energy that pulled me in like a magnet from the first time I met her.  When she posted a flyer for her class on facebook I knew that this was just the sort of thing I needed.

I’m busy.  No, I mean really busy.  Like mom of a wild child, working full-time (as in traveling between 6 schools, lesson planning, professional conferences, correcting assignments), taking a college course (sometimes 6 homework assignments a week), trying (reeallly trying) to stay on top of house necessities….and oh yeah, pregnant.

This poor BB2 has become the after-thought.  The “oh yeah.”  Not like with Liam when I was all I need to lay down, I’m pregnant.  Or, I wonder what that baby’s doing in there right now…maybe I’ll sing the baby a song.  BB2 is already getting Liam’s hand-me-downs; he or she gets the songs and stories I sing to Liam.

I have this stone with a carving in it of a woman figure carrying a heart in her full belly.  I’ve started carrying it in my pocket so that whenever I rub my thumb over the etching I can take that small moment to give my little, growing baby a second of my undivided energy and thoughts.

My pregnancy reminder

Besides really needing some physical activity in my life beyond the stairs that I climb and chasing Liam from room to room, I really wanted this prenatal yoga class to be a time where I centered my energy on my body and this new baby.  From my experience with prenatal yoga classes, including this one, the instructor guides your meditation to include thinking about the baby or touching the belly to connect with the baby.  The movements and poses are carefully selected as ones that will strengthen your body for carrying a baby and giving birth.  No, they’re not weird, different yoga poses, they’re poses that you would normally do that just focus on opening and stretching the areas that you want opened and stretched.  Eerrr.  I mean…okay I don’t mean….Whatever.  You know.

So, tonight I feel refreshed, limber and I also like I got some QT with BB2.  I’m posting Lara’s flyer below because they are ongoing classes, drop-ins welcome, and I know there’s room for more to join.  The space in the studio is just open, gorgeous hardwood, and bright paint.




Make Me Blush

I have a 1 year old.  Stunned might best describe how I feel when I look over at the little boy who practically runs on his own two feet.  I remember a time when I wondered what he would look like when he has hair.  (It is a sandy color that curls in the back and has the potential for a wicked rat’s nest.)  I remember holding the t-shirts that he wears and thinking that he would never be big enough to fit into them.  He wore one of those t-shirts yesterday.  Husband put it on him in the morning and when Liam toddled over to me, arms outreached and a big smile on his face, wearing the green t-shirt with a dinosaur on it my heart didn’t know which way to go and I cried a little.  I was overwhelmed with thankfulness for this incredible, happy toddler in front of me…but panicking about where he came from. Wasn’t he just a squawking infant with chicken fluff for hair and a gummy smile?  Where did these teeth come from? How is he possibly walking and choosing books from the bookshelf??

Luckily, I have a good friend, Stepheney, who is a photographer at Blush Imagery.  I brought Liam into the studio at Blush for 1 year professional pictures.  I brought his birthday party outfit, one of the t-shirts that I thought he would never fit into, and I brought some of his toys as props.  Stepheney put some children’s music on her ipod and with gentle guidance snapped photos of my little boy running amok in the studio.  The result is an honest, accurate capturing of Liam’s spirit in a beautiful form of art.

This picture was added onto gorgeous mommy cards with my contact information on them.

I’ve trusted Stepheney to photgraph every important moment from belly pictures to now.  She has an eye for detail, a sense of emotion and the angle that makes everything seem even more incredible than it was.  She treasures being able to share in these amazing life moments.

If you check out Blush Imagery’s website you can also peruse their beautiful wedding photography and the other baby faces, besides our very own Liam.

Your life is art, decorate your space with it.