Announcing #AsGoodAsGold by @PatFurstenberg #BlogTour 21-25 May and Giveaway

📢 Announcing 🌍21-25 May 🐕 As engaging as a tail wag! Can YOU resist it?

☕️Come visit amazing book-bloggers and their fabulous blogs!📚

AsGoodAsGold - GIVEAWAY schedule. Get them on Author.to/PatFurstenberg on Amazon
AsGoodAsGold – GIVEAWAY schedule. Get them on Author.to/PatFurstenberg on Amazon
#AsGoodAsGold Blog Tour @PatFurstenberg
#AsGoodAsGold Blog Tour @PatFurstenberg

Follow the Blog Tour on my website here or by subscribing to the #AsGoodAsGold Twitter list here and never miss a post!

Thank you! Looking forward to interact with you during the Blog Tour!

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Belle Cat, Whiskers on my mat – Publication Day

Belle Cat, Whiskers on my mat by Patricia Furstenberg
Belle Cat, Whiskers on my mat by Patricia Furstenberg

Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Japan . Read what others say about it on Goodreads.

What would you do if a kitty needed you?

When a stray cat, lost and hurt, is given a second chance she grabs it with all of her… paws!
Based on a true love story between a cat and her human, told with compassion and humor.
Insightful images of the real cat Belle are included to support this poem.
Additional fun, educational chapters:

  •  “Did you know? Fun-tastic cat facts” – Interesting cat facts for young and old.
  • “Say what? What is a cat’s tail saying?” – Understand the secret language cats and kittens use by moving their tails.
  • “How to… Tracking pet cats” – Just like the big cats, house cats leave footprints everywhere! Be a pet detective in your own back yard.
    True story, pet rescue.

Read my Book Launch Guest Post on wonderful Nayu’s book blog here.

Coming soon: As Good As Gold and its fantastic Blog Tour, 21-25 May 2018!

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From MyPuppyClub to Astro’s Adventures, a Journey of Sunday Blog Posts

A lovely collaboration and friendship was born on Twitter. In July 2016 I met wonderful and talented Australian author Susan Day. Susan invited me to write a Guest Spot for her comprehensive blog Mypuppyclub  “all you need for a happy, healthy, well-trained dog!”

Patricia-Furstenberg for MyPuppyClub.net
Patricia-Furstenberg for MyPuppyClub.net

What started as one blog post soon turned into my Sunday Dog Tales column as I wrote a post each Sunday until the 29th of April! 86 posts 🙂

Starting with Sunday the 6th of May I will be moving over to Susan’s exciting blog Astro’s Adventures Book Club!

My very first post written for Mypuppyclub was Tara, From “Gone With the Wind” to “Happy Friends”. Here is my last post for Mypuppyclub:

Bailey the Sea Dog

(inspired by a bunch of dogs we saw during our holiday in Ballito, South Africa’s Kwazulu-Natal North Coast)

 

In the little house with a brown gate, by the sea,

Lives Bailey the dog, his two brothers and one sister, Rea.

And two distant cousins, Scraps and Flea;

Six dogs and their owner – not me.

And if you think a home with six dogs is filled with glee,

Then you are… wrong. I know. Bailey told me.

In the house with a brown gate, by the sea,

Where six dogs live with their owner and nannie, Calliope,

Happy patter or paws, cheerful barks and… sticks from two trees

Are often seen and heard; as well as… balls; one, two, three.

For where six dogs live there ought to be some balls,

Some sticks to chew on and the rhythm of happy feet on wooden floors.

All day long Bailey, his sister and brothers, all six

Snooze in the sun, crawl to shade, bark and, occasionally, sneeze;

All along waiting for the hands of the clock to move past three:

The time when “daddy” comes home and they all go to swim in the sea.

All – meaning Bailey, the sea dog; the rest walk with dad, enjoying the view,

Run on the soft sand, fetch the ball and might, just might, jump a wave or two.

But Bailey! Every day he tries to become one with the sea.

White as the foam he is, restless like the waves he flees;

In and out of the swells Bailey jumps, spring, skips,

Although most of the time our brave dog swims licking his lips.

The cool waves, the blue sea, the pungent breeze

Is all he’s been dreaming of while snoozing at 30 Celsius degrees!

Bailey is in love, in love with the sea, the waves, the foam, and the winds

And all Bailey wants, is to swim in the blue deep, to surf the tides.

In and out he jumps; his tail is a flag, a rudder, a mast;

While his brothers chase the ball on the shore, Bailey is having a blast.

Only his sister, Rae, tries every now and then to bring him out of the waves;

You try to ask the swells to obey, the ocean to stand still and behave.

Bailey is one with the sea now; he is the jubilant spray atop the waves!

Thank you for reading!

You can find more poems like this one in my poetry books about dogs Puppy, 12 Months of Rhymes and Smiles and As Good As Gold, a dog’s life in poems both available through Amazon.

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You Can’t Go It Alone by Jessie Cahalin @BooksInHandbag, Author Chat and Book Review by @PatFurstenberg

It gives me great pleasure to share with you the chat I had with lovely Jessie Cahalin best known as the original, highly creative and ever so supportive of all authors @BooksInHandbag. Jessie just released her debut novel You Can’t Go It Alone,  a book focusing on life through IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), love and the importance of music and friendship.

Here are my thoughts on You Can’t Go It Alone by Jessie Cahalin

You Can't Go It Alone by Jessie Cahalin
You Can’t Go It Alone by Jessie Cahalin

Sophie and Jack are the main characters of this novel and the story opens as they just moved in Vine Cottage in the village of Delfryn. We soon discover that life for this young couple is not a “picture postcard” as Sophie dreams of, as they undergo a treatment of IVF (In Vitro Fertilization). The emotional roller-coaster they both go through and the pressure it puts on their relationship are presented with feeling and in-depth knowledge.

Jack’s parents, Jeanie and Max and their camper nicknamed Molly, bring humor and, surprisingly, a lot of action into the story. They, too, have their own struggles. I enjoyed the positive shift in relationship between Sophie and her mother-in-law Jeanie.

Next door, in Dove Cottage, lives Ruby with her daughter Daisy and partner Dan. Ruby has to deal with her own personal struggles. We discover that, sometimes, by opening up to others, unexpected help comes when we most need it. Nearby is Rose Cottage where widower Jim Evans lives alone with his dog, Lassie. There are a few secrets here that burden his last days, but also unexpected, happy news.

The main setting for this novel is, however, The Olive Tree Café run by Italian descendants Rosa, her jealous husband Matteo and their talented daughter Olivia. Why is Matteo so suspicious of his wife and daughter? Is it only his Italian blood to blame? And what keeps Rosa’s spirits up?

As one character says: “Maybe all the secrets hide in each branch and they fall away with the leaves.”

My favorite character was Rosa. I liked her creativity, all the effort she put in her small yet chic cafe while making time for everyone, her dedication towards her husband (even since the times they were just engaged) and how she knew how to support her young daughter Olivia. I liked how she kept her heart young.

You Can’t Go It Alone is a novel that appeals to all the senses.

The nature comes alive through Cahalin’s picturesque descriptions: you feel the April breeze through your hair, the rain washing over your face only to be dried up by warm sunshine.

Crickhowell, South Wales inspired Delfryn
Crickhowell, South Wales inspired Delfryn

“As they neared Delfryn, the light vanished from between the lush green trees, and the grey sky absorbed the colour.”

You hear the sounds, thunder and laughter, billowing voices and a little girl’s giggles, soulful chitchat and women singing, happy clinking of cups and saucers mingled with guitar music, tires screeching, laughter and sobs. An innocent girl laughs as she skips along the pathway to her “Magic Garden” and you hear the pebbles under her shoes.

It is a book filled with fragrances too; rosemary and lavender, freshly grinded coffee and cocoa dust, the earthly scent of olive oil and sweet tomatoes on bruschetta; the scent of wet ground and leaves and the sterile, impersonal smells of hospital.

It is a book of memories and secrets, of what it could have been, of what it really happened but most of all of what the future holds for all the characters: hope. The importance of communication and of speaking the truth is intertwined with each character’s journey.

Just as in the opening line of You Can’t Go It Alone,

“As Sophie looked up at the sky, its vast blueness held endless possibilities.”

this novel is alive and filled with love, for each other and for life, and a zest for life. It is the perfect pick-me-up read, with warm, engaging characters, a gorgeous setting and unexpected situations, both sad and humorous.

Find You Can’t Go It Alone on Amazon:

Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia

Jessie Cahalin Outside Bloggers' Cafe
Jessie Cahalin Outside Blogger Cafe

For such an amazing novel setting I headed over to Jessie’s Blogger Cafe to discus her thoughts and dreams for this book.

Patricia:  Jessie, we have been communicating for a year now and working together on my book launches.  You seem happy and positive about life and we have developed such a special, supportive relationship.  Can you capture your life in two sentences?

 @BooksInHandbag
@BooksInHandbag

Jessie: I’m the proud author of You Can’t Go It Alone and creator of Books in my Handbag Blog.  Life is great, and my only regret is not connecting with the bookish world earlier.

Patricia:  How would you describe You Can’t Go It Alone and the central themes?

Jessie:  You Can’t Go It Alone explores the impact secrets can have on relationships and pursuit of happiness. The themes of the novel are: love, infertility, bereavement, loneliness and literacy.

The reader is invited to the fictional Welsh village of Delfyn where you can gain a little taste of Italy while listening to the music.

Patricia:  Identify one of the key emotional journeys in the novel.

Jessie:  Through Sophie and Jack, I show how a couple struggles to deal with IVF while getting on with life. Surrounding the characters with other people meant I could integrate emotions, comments and situations faced by couples like Jack and Sophie.   Moreover, I decided it was important to give the husband a voice and this is conveyed via a blog.

Patricia:  You introduce women from different decades, explore differences in their opportunities, and move in and out of their lives.  Can you explain this?

Rosa, the leading lady of the Olive Tree Café, must face issues in her marriage. Sophie, a teacher, helps others to communicate but struggles to communicate with her husband, Jack, about their IVF journey.  Married in the seventies, Pearl struggles to pursue her dream.

Patricia: In your book you approach the medical and emotional struggles of a couple going through IVF proving that a lot of research went into it. Can you share how you went about researching for your book?

Jessie: The IVF journey is from personal experience. When writing the book, I did research fertility websites and records of our treatment.  Over the years, I have also spoken with many women about the experience and have realised I was not alone. And, I am always happy to support others who are going through the treatment. In You Can’t Go It Alone,  I wanted to covey the experience through characters placed in real situations; hopefully it will connect with the readers.

Patricia: Gosh, Jessie, I had no idea you went through IVF. Having just read Sophie’s story I do admire you so, your determination and strength… *hugs*

Which character was the closest to your heart?

Sophie’s struggle is close to my heart.  I can connect with the frustration and anger she experiences.  Sophie has worked through the anger at her situation and is learning how to count her blessings.  I had to nudge her to think of her husband’s perspective as she had become a little self-involved, but she is a kind person who can’t stop helping others. Although Pearl has an absent presence, I also feel connected to her through Jim and may tell her story, in more detail, in the future.

Patricia:  I would love to read a follow-up to You Can’t Go It Alone! Who would you like to read your book?

I hope the story will resonate with everyone and should appeal to anyone who likes a good story and real, flawed characters. Despite the heavier themes, it is a feel- good book and conveys my commitment to the simple things in life.

I hope the book would support to anyone who is going through IVF or is about to embark on the process.  The novel has light-hearted moments and presents hope.  As C. S. Lewis said, ‘We read to know we are not alone.’

Patricia:  What do you do when you are not writing?

Jessie: When I am not writing, I adore walking, cooking and procrastinating.  Walking helps me to sort out tangles in my narratives or blog posts.  We live in an area where there are some impressive mountain treks and costal walks, and we also have beautiful castles on the doorstep.

Jessie Cahalin’s Biography:

Jessie is a word warrior, bookish and intrepid virtual explorer.  She loves to entertain with stories, and is never seen without: her camera, phone, notebook and handbag.  Having overcome her fear of self-publishing, Jessie is now living the dream of introducing the characters who have been hassling her for decades. Her debut novel, ‘You Can’t Go It Alone’, is a heart-warming tale about the challenges women still face in society.  The novel has light-hearted moments and presents hope.

Jessie hails from Yorkshire, North England, but she loves to travel the world and collect cultural gems, like a magpie. She searches for happy endings, where possible, and needs great coffee, food and music to give me inspiration.

Connecting with authors via her Books in her Handbag Blog is a blast. She showcases authors’ books in the popular Handbag Gallery and has fun meeting authors in the virtual world.  Fellow authors have deemed her ‘creative and quirky’ and she wears these words like a blogging badge of honour. The challenge is to get out there and meet the authors face to face.  She has already set up a few interviews for June and have travel adventures planned.

Her debut novel showcased on the virtual red carpet and was supported by the wonderful bookish community. One day, she would dearly love to roll out the red carpet and host a huge book launch for indie authors.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B06XQ5RVD5/
You Can’t Go It Alone by Jessie Cahalin

About You Can’t Go It Alone

Love, music and secrets are woven together in this poignant, heart-warming narrative.

Set in a Welsh village, the story explores the contrast in attitudes and opportunities between different generations of women. As the characters confront their secrets and fears, they discover truths about themselves and their relationships.

The reader is invited to laugh and cry, with the characters, and find joy in the simple things in life. Listen to the music and enjoy the food, as you peek inside the world of the inhabitants of Delfryn.

Let Sophie show you that no one can go it alone. Who knows, you may find some friends with big hearts…

‘Jessie creates soulful connections between her characters and the reader.  These relationships crescendo and blend until the reader is into the full depths of human nature.  It’s not every day one finds a book they can’t put down.  This is reserved for the undeniably human writer.’

Jennifer. C. Lopez

Connect with Jessie Cahalin through her website, Facebook: Jessie @BooksInHandbag and Facebook, Jessie Cahalin Author, on Twitter @BooksInHandbag  or drop her a line jessiecahalin@aol.co.uk

Remember: You Can't Go It Alone
Remember: You Can’t Go It Alone, by Jessie Cahalin @booksinhandbag

 

 

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How Mind-Brain-Education Can Aid the South African Education #MBE @ITSI_SA via @PatFurstenberg

What do a pianist and a London taxi driver have in common?

Brain Science studies on the plasticity of the brain discovered that, in both cases, an area of the subject’s brain was enlarged. The area of the somatosensory cortex representing the fingers is more enlarged in pianists than in non-musicians. London Taxi drivers (that need to learn how to navigate the twists and turns of the city’s streets) showed an enlarged hippocampus (an area of the brain responsible for special navigation) – the degree of enlargement reflects the amount of time spent as a taxi driver.

In both cases, an area of the brain become enlarged as a result of mastering a certain skill, as this sustained activity produces new neuronal connections that in time were strengthened. Over time this accounted for an enlarged cortex area.

Perhaps the most extraordinary case study is that of a student who had half of his brain removed during preschool due to severe epilepsy and it revealed the incredible plasticity of the human brain (Immordino-Yang 2008, A Tale of Two Cases). The student received extensive educational support, tailored to his needs, while his abilities were reinforced. During time, the remaining brain hemisphere developed to compensate for the missing one to a significant degree. Now in high school, this student is cognitively normal, performs above average, has a normal social life and is an aspiring artist.

These Brain Science observations are proof to the human brain’s plasticity and its ability to constantly develop.

Good to know as the Anthropocene era has high expectations of its students. The youth today needs to acquire, apart from foundational knowledge, computational thinking and a community and global level ethic of care. They have to develop the six C’s considered the core skills of the 21st century:  critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration, citizenship and character.

Can teaching alone prepare our youth for the 21st century’s requirements?

21st century genetics has researched how the environment affects our hereditary structure.

Something as abstract as the learning process is re-analyzed using innovative cognitive methods as neuroscientists have been able to study the brain in action, with brain imaging tools.

This is a PET (Positron-emission tomography) scan of a child listening to a story read from a book.
This is a PET (Positron-emission tomography) scan of a child listening to a story read from a book.

The top two images show parts of his brain lighting up when he hears and sees the words. The bottom two images show how his brain reacts when he talks and processes the information from the book.

For a favourable learning experience we want many different parts of the brain to light up. This can be achieved through active teaching, when different techniques encompassing hearing, seeing, speaking, thinking, both auditory and visually, are used. Teaching, as well as learning (a rigorous discipline in itself) need to be fun, engaging, stimulating.

A collaboration between Brain Science and education is paramount. For this inter-disciplinary partnership to become viable and productive educators need to understand how the brain works and scientists need to learn what tools a 21st century educator needs in his classroom.

Mind, Brain, Education (MBE) can help 21st century educators.

“It takes a village to raise a child.”

MBE studies discovered that children absorb information in different ways, depending on the subject at hand. Therefor educators need to adjust their teaching style to suit each subject. Furthermore, MBE studies show that multiple factors influence the continuous development of the human brain. These factors are: our DNA, life experiences, formal learning, work experiences, informal learning (comprised of extra murals, community experiences, the cyberspace, etc) – How the Brain Works.

Our emotions also play a vital role in moulding the human brain as our emotions filter the formal learning acquired through study, a positive situation motivating us to achieve. Humans tend to gravitate towards such positive situations. The academic content is not the sole purpose of education anymore. Due to the brain’s plasticity and the factors influencing it, the learning experience is equally important in aiding students through their learning process.

Today, MBE can help educators comprehend how people with reading disabilities such as dyslexia actually use their brain when reading so that educators can understand how to adjust their teaching methods to better suit each student.

MBE research suggests that, while active content is important, students learn best through active learning experiences, in a flexible educational environment. This is where, by the use of technology, the instruction can be differentiated, thus offering varied and comprehensive content that will benefit a wider audience. This approach is beneficial as each pupil is different, has different needs and requires a different teaching technique – and therefor a flexible teaching method.

Education is the building brick for a better lifestyle
Education is the building brick for a better lifestyle

MBE advocates a student-centred approach to learning. This approach will prove beneficial in underprivileged communities where pupils have less educational support at home and therefore can thrive when various teaching techniques are used in the classroom.

Education is the building brick for a better lifestyle,

a better job, better health care and a better future for one’s children, thus a prosperous community and nation. Education is also the much needed tool to improve the life of women, to reduce pregnancy rate and infant mortality, to empower women and afford them equal rights to men. An empowered woman is a positive force in her community. She will contribute towards improving the lives of her children, of her community and of her nation.

https://www.it.si/
https://www.it.si/

The first MBE seminar in Africa is organised by ITSI.

ITSI is the MBE pioneer in South Africa. It aims at providing educators with the knowledge needed to use the Brain-Science discoveries in their classrooms. The seminar is facilitate by Glenn Whitman and Dr. Ian Kelleher, leaders of The Center for Transformative Teaching & Learning, the only Mind, Brain, and Education science research centre located in a pre-collegiate school in the United States and co-authors of “Neuroteach: Brain Science and the Future of Education”.

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ITSI and the First Mind-Brain and Education Seminar in Africa #MBE #MBEafrica18 @ITSI_SA via @PatFurstenberg

Mind-Brain and Education (MBE) uses emerging research in cognitive and behavioral sciences to better understand how the human brain works and to uncover new methods needed by a 21st century active-style teaching. The student of the Anthropocene era (current geological age) must acquire, apart from foundational knowledge, computational thinking and a community and global level ethic of care. In a technology-driven future educators need to extend their professional skills further, beyond what the industrial era called for. The time is now for MBE to step in and step up in transforming the educational process. South Africa takes the lead in implementing the principles of MBE in its educational system via ITSI and hosts the first seminar in Africa on MBE.

How the Brain Works

Imagine walking through a field of grass. You’ve reached its middle and glimpse behind. You can hardly see where you came from; to make a path that lasts you have to walk the same route many times. And then you would have formed only one path.

The same happens in the human brain when we learn.

Neurons are the specific cells forming the nervous system. What makes them unique is their ability to transmit chemical and electrical information through the body. But unlike other types of cells, neurons stop reproducing after birth. The good news is that neurons are capable of forming new connections, thus new pathways, any time in life and can maintain them as long as we use them.

When we use our brain, be it to study or listen to the news, new pathways of neurons are formed and older pathways brought back to life – one neuron can connect itself with several others. Over time, the active connections become more prevalent while non-used ones weaken or are eliminated.

Neural pathways for in the brain and old ones are strengthened during reading. Patricia Furstenberg for ITSI #MBEafrica18
Neural pathways for in the brain and old ones are strengthened during reading. Patricia Furstenberg for ITSI, #MBEafrica18

When a web of neural pathways is formed, that information is stored in our long-term memory. For this to happen learning must be active: to stimulate visually and auditory, not only cognitive (passive study). Brain-Science shows that an active learning process involves a wider area of brain, new neural connections are made, old ones are strengthened, as opposed to the passive study where few cortical changes register.

Mind-Brain and Education – Why the Time for South Africa is Now

South Africa’s Educational System faces a reading crisis, with 78% of grade 4 pupils failing to read for meaning, while private schools are under pressure to produce critical and computational thinkers. Moreover, learning became a social activity and the Anthropocene students are expected to master skills needed in a global tech-driven future.

Brain-Science speaks of the plasticity of the human brain, its ability to adapt, especially when it involves learning new skills. Their studies show that children learn along specific pathways, defined by the content they focus on (different for mathematics than history). Due to the brain’s plasticity the learning experience is equally important in aiding students through their learning process.

Factors influencing the continuous development of the human brain. Patricia Furstenberg for ITSI #MBEafrica18
Factors influencing the continuous development of the human brain. Patricia Furstenberg for ITSI #MBEafrica18

MBE takes into consideration all components of education. MBE transforms the learning process into an enhanced experience, while simplifying it and adapting it to the needs of each student and the requirements of each subject. Pupils can reach the standard of a basic level of education while empowered to be responsible for their own learning and still receive guidance from a classroom teacher. MBE can give the educational system the much needed boost and support, regardless of the social and educational background of its learners.

Who is ITSI and its South African Platform

ISTI is the first-mover in the South African market working with over 200 educational institutions and 80 000 users. 2018 will add over 25 institutions and 20 000 learners. ITSI breached into the rest of Africa by opening ITSI Solution in Namibia and has offices in the UK and the Middle East.

ITSI’s platform is accessible “anytime, anywhere”. Their e-books combine foundational learning with computational thinking. ITSI makes available digital lessons that follow the CAPS curriculum, enhancing the learning experience. As an added value, educators can personalise their teaching by adding resources and adapting the app to suit individual needs.

MBE Seminar, ITSI and Educator’s Skills

A vital part of MBE success is the teacher’s involvement and their level of knowledge on how the human brain works, as well as their extensive professional skills supported by a solid platform.

The first MBE seminar in Africa aims to provide educators with the knowledge needed to use the Brain-Science discoveries in their classrooms. The seminar is facilitate by Glenn Whitman and Dr. Ian Kelleher, leaders of The Center for Transformative Teaching & Learning, the only Mind, Brain, and Education science research centre located in a pre-collegiate school in the United States and co-authors of “Neuroteach: Brain Science and the Future of Education”.

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As Good as Gold by @PatFurstenberg #CoverReveal – coming soon with @BooksInHandbag

Update: Read Jessie’s lovely introduction to my gorgeous cover find out how As Good As Gold came to be.

As Good as Gold by Patricia Furstenberg #CoverReveal – coming soon with @BooksInHandbag

When: Tuesday, 8th May

Where: jessiecahalin.com

Follow on Twitter: @BooksInHandbag and @PatFurstenberg

 

Praise for As Good as Gold:

There is something truly magical about this wonderful collection. Having read each poem, I love how every word celebrates our canine companions from the tip of their wet noses to the wag of their tails.

Susan Day, Editor and Author, enthralledmagazine.com

A super sweet and poignant book of poetry about what a pup thinks of his world; the objects and creatures in it, the sun, the moon, a snail, an owl, a pigeon, his human mommy and daddy, as he discovers what it is to be a puppy. As a cat lover I especially was tickled by his relationship to the cat. Any dog lover would adore this book. The photos were appealing. Haikus at the end were tiny diamonds.

Kathryn Meyer Griffith, long time author
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001KHIXNS

Pre-order here (release day 23rd May in eBook and Paperback):

Amazon UKAmazon US ,  Amazon Canada

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How To Raise A Child With A High IQ by @PatFurstenberg

Raising a child is the most difficult job in the world. The decisions made by parents will model and impact upon the child’s emotional and intellectual well-being.

Parenting is a full-time job on its own, without the added pressure of medical literature, in-law advice or trying to keep up with that perfect family always posting on Facebook.

“Once upon a time I was a perfect parent. Then I had children. The End.”

In his book “Brain Rules For Baby“, developmental molecular biologist and dad Dr John Medina, bridges the gap between what scientists know and what parents practise.

  1. Baby’s IQ during the 1st trimester of pregnancy

An adult human brain contains about 100-billion neurons formed before we are born. The embryo’s brain produces approximately 250,000 cells per minute, most generated as early as week three and during the first four months of gestation.

All throughout your pregnancy, stay away from potentially harmful substances like smoking, drinking alcohol and taking drugs – even over-the-counter drugs. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Scientists studying human evolution attest that morning sickness kicked in as an ancestral mechanism forcing the mother to stay away from toxic, potentially spoiled or exotic foods that might harm the embryo. One of the hormones inducing morning sickness is also a stimulant for the development of neurons in the embryo’s brain.

  1. Baby’s IQ throughout the pregnancy

A mother’s weight gain during pregnancy is vital to the well-being of her unborn baby. A study shows that a foetus’ IQ grows in proportion to its weight gain while inside the mother’s womb. A pregnant woman with healthy weight gain, good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle will influence the weight of her newborn positively.

A pregnancy vitamin supplement rich in folic acid and omega 3 is indicated.

And food cravings?

Studies have proved that food cravings are stress related, not pointing towards a vitamin deficiency. An anxious woman used to giving in to chocolate during stressful times will most probably go on craving chocolate whenever she hits a stressful time during pregnancy.

  1. A stressful pregnancy and baby’s IQ

If a pregnant woman is stressed, anxious or depressed, this can affect how the baby’s brain will develop. Research shows that the child will be at greater risk of slow learning or behavioural problems such as ADHD.

Severe stress suffered by mothers during pregnancy can have the following consequences for the baby:

  • Change the foetus’ body temperature, making the baby more irritable in the womb;
  • Reduce the baby’s IQ (by up to eight points);
  • Affect the baby’s motor skills, attention span and concentration – visible from six years of age;
  • Affect the baby’s own response to stressful situations; and
  • Even reduce the baby’s brain size.

“Researchers at Douglas Mental Health University Institute and McGill University followed more than 150 families after a severe storm, and found specific markers on the DNA of children whose mothers were pregnant or became pregnant soon after the disaster, providing rare evidence of how maternal hardships can have long-term genetic consequences.”

A good solution to reduce stress is being active.

Staying active during pregnancy

Women who have an active lifestyle and engage in regular physical activities during pregnancy have an easier birthing experience – shorter and less painful.

Pregnant women are advised to stay active and do mild exercise, without pushing it too hard.

During the third trimester, the best sport for a pregnant woman is swimming. It is a low-impact sport and keeps the pregnant woman’s body temperature constant, so her uterus does not overheat.

Attention!

  • Intense physical activity will reduce the blood supply to the uterus, which will decrease the oxygen supply to the foetus.
  • If the pregnant woman’s body temperature is raised by more than two degrees Celsius, this can negatively affect the cerebral and visual development of the foetus during the third trimester of pregnancy.

Family relationships during pregnancy

Dr John Medina points out that during the first year of the baby’s life, the number of hostile interactions between the new parents is often on the rise. Specialists believe that this can be harmful to the baby, which is very sensitive to external factors at the beginning of its life.

A prolonged exposure to hostility can have a negative impact on the baby, lowering its IQ and its ability to manage stress later in life.

During the first year of life, a baby’s main cognitive focus is on survival. Once the baby forms an attachment with its main caregiver, its brain can develop normally, resulting in a happy, sociable baby able to manage stressful situations.

If the baby cannot feel this trust and safety, then the genetic code tells its brain to develop in a different way – with a negative impact on its social, emotional and educational prospects.

The ingredients that contribute towards the making of a clever child:

  • Breastfeeding can raise a baby’s IQ by up to eight points;
  • Talking to a baby and a child about various topics will expose the child to a wider vocabulary;
  • Playing games with your child will stimulate the child’s mind;
  • As will engaging your child in music and sports.

Raising a child is the most difficult job in the world. The decisions made by parents will model and impact upon the child’s emotional and intellectual well-being, the character of the future adult. Yet it is good to acknowledge that these decisions are unique to each family, and each parent can adjust their parenting skills at any time throughout this roller-coaster journey.

* The information in this article is NOT intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional and is not intended as medical advice.

This article was written for Huffington Post SA.

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Amazing Book-To-Movie Adaptations Coming To SA’s Big Screens

If you’re a bibliophile or a film buff, 2018 is sure to put a spring in your step, as a large array of popular novels will come to theaters and televisions.

Here are nine of the book-to-movie attractions to look forward to in 2018 in South Africa.

1. The Maze Runner: Death Cure – January 2018

What’s it about? – When the doors of the lift crank open, the only thing Thomas remembers is his first name. But he’s not alone. He’s surrounded by boys who welcome him to the Glade – a walled encampment at the centre of a bizarre and terrible stone maze.

 Genre: Young adult, teen, adventure

2. 12 Strong (based on the novel Horse Soldiers) – February 2018
What’s it about? 12 Strong” tells the story of the first Special Forces team deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11; under the leadership of a new captain, the team must work with an Afghan warlord to take down the Taliban.

Genre: Intelligence and espionage, history.

3. A Wrinkle In Time – March 2018

What’s it about? In 1962, Madeleine L’Engle debuted her novel “A Wrinkle in Time“, which would go on to win the 1963 Newbery Medal. Bridging science and fantasy, darkness and light, fear and friendship, the story became a classic of children’s literature and is beloved around the world. Now Disney is bringing it to the silver screen!

Genre: Teen, young adult, time travel, science fiction

4. Red Sparrow – March 2018

What’s it about? Ballerina Dominika Egorova is recruited to “Sparrow School”, a Russian intelligence service, where she is forced to use her body as a weapon. But her first mission, targeting a CIA agent, threatens to unravel the security of both nations.

Genre: Espionage, political thriller

5. Peter Rabbit – March 2018

What’s it about? A feature adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s classic tale of a rebellious rabbit trying to sneak into a farmer’s vegetable garden.

Genre: Children’s, bedtime, animals

6. Ready Player One – March 2018

What’s it about? It’s the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We’re out of oil. We’ve wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty and disease are widespread.

Genre: Young adult, dystopian

7. The War With Grandpa – March 2018

What’s it about? Peter is thrilled that Grandpa is coming to live with his family. That is, until Grandpa moves right into Peter’s room, forcing him upstairs. Peter decides to declare war in an attempt to get it back.

Genre: Teen, young adult, humour

8. Death Wish – March 2018

What’s it about? Dr Paul Kersey is a surgeon who only sees the aftermath of his city’s violence as victims are rushed into his ER – until his wife and college-age daughter are viciously attacked in their suburban home.

Genre: Mystery, thriller, suspense

9. Every Day – May 2018

What’s it about? From the genius of David Levithan, co-author of “Will Grayson, Will Grayson“, and “Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist“, comes a love story like none you’ve read before. A shy teenager falls for someone who transforms into another person every day.

Genre: Teen, young adult, science fiction, dystopian

Read my complete article and see the movie trailers on Huffington Post here.

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We Need A Multicultural Children’s Book Day In South Africa

We Need A Multicultural Children’s Book Day In South Africa – Reading expands children’s levels of empathy and broadens their minds.

U.S. readers of all ages will celebrate Multicultural Children’s Book Day on Saturday, January 27.

In 2014, teachers and educators from Jump Into A Book and PragmaticMom presented their very first January 27 Multicultural Children’s Book Day as a way of celebrating diversity in children’s books.

Our mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these of books into classrooms and libraries.

Reading puts us in touch with our humanity

Reading and access to diverse books offer children a safe door towards real life; towards what life is or how it could be; towards the lives of people from different nations and cultures. Towards different kinds of struggles, emotions and ideals; how and why are they like or unlike our own.

Reading expands children’s levels of empathy and broadens their minds.

Diversity and its meaning today in the book industry

The fact that different kinds of people – poor or rich, men and women, white and black – can write books is often a revelation for many young readers. “If they can do it, so can I!”

The book monopoly is a thing of the past. Today access to books and their creative journeys belongs to the young as well, and to women equally. The knowledge of this variety is undoubtedly empowering for many young minds.

Why diversity in children’s books is a win-win situation

The more children are exposed to different cultures and emotions through books, the more empowered they feel, as these books reflect their own race or inter-race, religion, sex or physical health, and home upbringing (including divorced families, immigrants, and single-parent families). Children feel good about themselves when they read about characters like them.

Read the rest of this article in the Huffington Post SA, here.

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