Because the important moments in life just don’t fit in a status update! I started this blog when I was training for my first ½ Ironman, (70.3 miles) to record what I hoped would be growth and progress but ended up being a huge learning experience. Although fitness is one of the key ingredients to a happy life, it certainly isn't the only ingredient. My blog has evolved to document growth, progress and setbacks in other areas too. From my surprise proposal in Rome and wedding in the fall of 2013, to Mom's devastating stage IV cancer diagnosis and death 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant. Who knows what shape it will take, but thanks for being along for the ride.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Tabula Rasa

Tabula rasa is a Latin phrase often translated as "blank slate" in English and originates from the Roman tabula used for notes, which was blanked by heating the wax and then smoothing it. 
Tabula rasa refers to the epistemological idea that children are born without built-in mental content and therefore all knowledge comes from experience or perception. Proponents of tabula rasa generally disagree with the doctrine of innatism which holds that the mind is born already in possession of certain knowledge. Generally, proponents of the tablua rasa theory also favor the "nurture" side of the nature versus nurture debate when it comes to aspects of one's personality, social and emotional behavior, knowledge and sapience.
What am I do after her 1st birthday when I can no longer post adorable shots like this?
As a psychology major, I took a lot of human development courses. Learning about the Nature versus Nurture debate, I felt like I had to pick a side. After all, "versus" implies that we must choose a side. I fell squarely on the side of nurture, agreeing with the psychologist John Watson, a strict behaviorist who said: "Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I'll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select - doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations and race of his ancestors."

It wasn't until a few years later that I read Nature Via Nurture and realized that both could be true instead of one or the other. Suddenly, to choose any one side seemed a bit too drastic, and unrealistic. Very few psychologists pick a side now, but instead debate over what percentage each factors in. A more current viewpoint is that genes provide a blueprint for the brain, but a child's environment and experiences carry out the construction. 

I see both nature and nurture at play in my little girl. I feel that she has been born with an amazing basic nature that I cannot take credit for. She is calm, easy-going and happy, no matter the situation. In my heart of hearts, I feel that this aspect of her developing personality has been passed on to her through my Mom.

But I can't ignore the nurture side of things either. Surely, how we parent and love her through the years will have an effect on the woman she becomes. The experiences she has now can affect her for years to come, possibly her whole life. Even though she won't remember these experiences, having her needs met, for example, is teaching her to trust and be secure. Her experiencies are also contributing to her brain formation. Between conception and age three, a child's brain undergoes an impressive amount of change. At birth, it already has about all of the neurons it will ever have. It doubles in size the first year, and by age three it has reached 80 percent of its adult volume. Even more importantly, synapses are formed at a faster rate during these years than at any other time.

Her rapid brain development is one of the many reasons she won't be watching any television until she's at least three. It's not just what watching TV can do to harm a developing brain (leading to motor, attention and speech delays) but also what children are not doing when they watch it. This is a hot topic for me, and I'll be writing more about it in a future blog post. But research aside, I want her to have experiences in the real world and real interactions instead of turning into a zombbabie while I do my own things. I want to be with her, really present, and experience things through her eyes.

So in the vein of new experiences for my little blank slate, I signed us up for a baby art class at Granola Babies in Costa Mesa. The cost for the class was $12. It was a small group of four other Moms and babies ranging in age from 6 months to one year. Autumn had a great time, but it wasn't anything that we couldn't replicate at home for much less money, even if we purchased a canvas. 

Since that class, I tried an edible paint recipe with cornstarch that was perfect right after I made it, but solidified while we were on our walk, before I could use it with her. This week, I'm going to try this recipe made with condensed milk.

I think the class setting is good for babies who have limited interaction with other babies. She gets her fill now that she's in daycare, but still enjoyed watching them. She absolutely loved getting messy, and it was a reminder to me to let her do that. 

While the art class was fun, They didn't "do" anything special, other than give each baby a palette with the edible paints and a blank canvas. She doesn't need to be signed up for special classes in order to experience new things. One of her favorite things to is to sit with a box of tissues and take them out and shred each one into tiny pieces, and she still loves to play with paper. New experiences can be had in our backyard. She loves watching the birds on the feeder, airplanes flying over and Trevi playing fetch. She gets so excited when Trevi races back at top speed, and usually lets out a squeal.


The other day, I caught her staring at her hand, as she opened and closed it over and over again. She was fascinated by it, as if it was the first time she had done it. And then I realized, it probably was. And this morning, she found my bag of polly-fill stuffing, and thought it was the greatest thing ever. I had put her with her toys in the living room the night before. When I put her down she crawled herself away from all of them and was focused on the bag, touching the stuffing that I use for her birthday favors. 

She also spent almost an hour playing with her Dad on the floor yesterday with a big box. He would hide in it and she would lift the flap and find him. They did it over and over again and it didn't get old. Classes are fun and can give us new ideas, but they're just as good as hanging out at home, as long as we're together.


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