I recently brought home Desmond Morris' gorgeous book Amazing Baby from work and i've been enjoying learning from a biological/zoological perspective about the development, anatomy and growth that occurs in a baby's first two years. 

It's so crazy what their brains are up to! They work like sponges, soaking up every bit of information, finding uses for this information, putting it all together. "In the brain of a newborn there are about 2,500 synapses attached to each of the ten billion neurons.  In the brain of the two-year-old infant, this number rises to 15,000 synapses per neuron, more than we find in the brain of an adult human." This exuberant peak of  neural stimulation lasts until about middle childhood (age 4-8) and has been set in motion largely due to mental stimulation occurring in the first year of life.

Most of all I am excited and encouraged to read about how the opportunities and environment of those first couple years really does shape the adult human being. Morris writes about "neophilia," or the love of the new, as a craving that is stronger in humans than in any other species. 
"Given a rich, varied and friendly environment, every toddler will spend hours every day trying out new things and exploring different possibilities, as she feeds her growing brain with a variety of sensations and experiences.  If she enjoys these activities they become more and more essential to her existence.  If she is positively rewarded by her parents for her neophilia, then seeking novelty becomes a basic part of her personality and should last her a lifetime."  

I can see all this happening right before my eyes. This child of mine has always been curious but her wild side that has developed since she turned one has led her into whirling energetic explorations that engage her every sense and perception. She is on the move constantly and it is all I can do to just hang on for the ride, keep her safe, and help narrate and facilitate the discoveries she's making.

Here she is smelling the rosemary.

She has discovered the dynamic wonder of the changing season. I can see her delight at the leaves falling, the squirrels dropping their acorns, the eagles and vultures soaring overhead, and the shape and feel of a pinecone in her hand. 

Our tree out front is bright red with leaves for about two weeks only before they all fall. i am loving the view out our window, especially with the passersby: deer, bluejays, finches, woodpeckers, squirrels, towhees, skunk and raccoon at night.

Lucy wore these absolutely perfect fall overalls gifted from Kerry back when she was first born. I couldn't wait to get them on her and now I can't believe they already fit so well and she's growing out of them. I know I've said it before: overalls are the perfect article of clothing.

I wore a vintage tent dress thrifted in Reno last year before I knew I'd be pregnant this fall. It is perfect for my big belly and the fabric is magical with a print of animals that I like to think are astrological figures like Aries (the ram) and Capricornus (the seagoat) and Leo (the lion). 

28 weeks along, (now i'm 29) and i can still honestly say that i love being pregnant.

more Desmond Morris....
 "The more talking, the more music, the more visual excitement, the more social interaction, the more mental stimulation and the more physical activity that an infant experiences, the better are her chances of growing up to be a lively, intelligent, sensitive and responsive adult.  And the more playful and exploratory the daily life of an infant is, the more likely she is to grow up to become an imaginative, creative adult."  

on that note, we took Lucy to her first art show, which was her own dad's! Darin displayed photography and a couple pieces of art as well as screened a short film he made of time lapses of the stars.

an extremely busy one-year-old at an art show is a good idea in theory. however, she did not make it through our author friend Doug Rice's reading. it seems her more sophisticated literary pursuits might have to wait a bit.

for now, it's running wild and spinning around, and being a neophiliac!

a look at our growing at 28 weeks, emily at 23. i'm wearing the dress mary sent me last time, filling it to maximum capacity these days.

any thoughts on neophilism or neophobia (the opposite, a fear of the new, which can result from constant caution, trauma, or inhibition associated with new experiences) or their own effects in your life or your children's? and speaking of the new, bringing forth a whole new life has got to be the most mind-spinningly provocative experience i could have ever imagined. i think about this all the time as i grow another new life inside. i trip.


Jessica said…
This topic has always been on the forefront of my mind-especially since having my own little one! I know that as a child myself, my mom provided so many opportunities and new experiences for my sisters and I, but I am so weary of change and new things (my twin sister is the exact same)! I've always wondered why I'm like that and sometimes I worry that I'll pass it on to my own daughter. It inhibits me daily and I want Everdeen to be free from it and always be wanting to try new things and explore this world around her :) My daughter doesn't know it yet, but she has helped me move past some of my fears of trying new things, which I'm so thankful for!
Rachel Weaver said…
Clearly I need to read this book. It sounds wonderful and like my favorite genre- childrearing books that support what i thought I might already believe but want support just in case. I love this idea because it validates taking my little buzzards along with me wherever I go, and doesn't make me feel guilty about not sitting around with alphabet games trying to teach them to identify a very abstract concept that I'm not convinced they understand yet. Less flashcards, more faces and places and joy.
Andrea said…
I'm still waking up a bit as I read your post Heather... so I have very little to offer on the subject of Child Development. Just that I think it must be so fun to get watch Lucy at all these little stages. Also-- that dress is awesome!!! I love all the shades of blues & greens :) Very pretty!!!
dolly anna said…
trip trip trip trip!!!!

spinning dip!
i love this!

that book sounds like one i really want to read... i want to make sure that link is surrounded by everything that he needs to facilitate that universe of creativity in his amazing brain. it's so much more of a truth to describe small children as neophiles than as little devils that get into the cleaning cupboards....(which they do...) watching him helps me to remember that i have the very same instincts, and to just slow down and experience.

lucy and link should explore together one of these days...and it's heartening to read that you love being pregnant! you are a goddess momma demeter to the core!

so cool to have d's art at the cozmic, it broke my heart to find out from fb that was going on after i had already driven home from pville earliar that night.. :/ i guess this is why people have cell phones, so they don't miss cool shows!

mucho equinox amore!

Tera said…
Thanks for turning me onto that book, now on my immediate wishlist . And you might also be turning me on to wishing I was pregnant again. I loved being pregnant but I've been too busy to think about it lately but it was a wonderful time two years ago in Baltimore, thanks for reminding me :) You look RADIANTLY BEAUTIFUL!!!!! Little Lucy and her Papa looking great. Love checking in, Happy Autumning!!!
Tera said…
Oh and Lucy is so adorable in her overalls...must look for some!
Milla said…
Neophilia! I love reading about your observations on Lucy's brain at work. She is most definitely going to grow into a thoughtful, energetic, intelligent, artistic, curious and utterly magical little girl. Also. Overalls. Yep. I'd love to see Darin's film. It makes me happy watching your little family thrive and you are the glowiest mama in all the mountains! Love you so much.
Teeny said…
I meant to comment here a few days ago, and of course did not! Gosh, I hadn't heard of Neophobia before....I wonder if constant "be careful"s "watch out"s can contribute to that. Hmmmm, food for thought. I keep thinking your gonna have about 13 little babies, you really suit the happiness you have with pregnancies and the bloom of little baby in your belly (not really 13, but at least 3 or 4!) Beautiful in your tent dress. xoxo

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