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Author honors uncelebrated moments from babyhood

Posted: Thursday, January 02, 2003

The first year of a baby's life is marked with many milestones that parents feel compelled to preserve.

Bookstores and baby supply outlets abound with cute little scrapbooks for parents to record these treasured memories. But the standard baby books only have space to commemorate the typical baby milestones, like the baby's first haircut, their foot and hand prints, how much they weighed each month, etc.

These milestones are all well and good, but they are certainly not the only firsts in a baby's life. There also are those somewhat disgusting yet fascinating milestones, like the baby's first poop and what color it was, the first person the baby peed on, the first indigestible object to come out in the baby's diaper and the first item to get lodged in the baby's nose.

"The Inappropriate Baby Book," by Jennifer Stinson, gives parents a chance to record these special moments and more for antiquity -- or at least long enough to embarrass the child when they're old enough to date.

Stinson is originally from Ninilchik, where her family has a homestead. She attended high school in Anchorage, spent the summers in Ninilchik and left the state for college in Oregon in 1991. She created the book as a gag gift for a friend's baby shower 2 1/2 years ago.

"We used to always tease her because she loved to talk about really gross things," Stinson said of her friend. "She would say whatever was on her mind -- things people don't normally talk about. I knew she was probably going to tell me all sorts of stories of all the gross things the baby did in the beginning, and she is very detail-oriented. I made the book for her as sort of a joke so she could write everything down and kind of preserve it."

 

Jennifer Stinson.

Photo courtesy of Andrews McMeel publishing

Stinson doesn't have kids herself, so she enlisted the help of a sister to come up with ideas for the book.

"When I made i,t I sort of had a vague idea of what I wanted in it," she said. "I called my sister, who has two kids, and off the top of her head in five minutes she was able to go through a list of things."

That list includes the day the baby's bellybutton stump fell off, some of the public places the baby was allowed to play naked and a description of the mother's labor experience.

Stinson made some crayon drawings to illustrate the book and gave it away at the shower. As more and more people saw the book, they approached Stinson about wanting to buy a copy of it. Friends suggested getting an agent and getting the book published. When she made the book, she hadn't intended to get it published, but Stinson followed her friends' suggestions and before long she found a publisher who wanted to print the book.

"It all kind of snowballed," she said.

The book was published in September.

"I think it's been doing really well," Stinson said. "The last I heard from the editor was it had sold out half of the first printing. I've done a few radio interviews in Quebec and Australia and even the (British Broadcasting Company) called me."

Having "The Inappropriate Baby Book" published was a new experience for Stinson, since she had never written a book before. She had always been interested in creative activities like drawing, but the book coming together was more of an accident than a plan, she said.

Stinson lives in Los Angeles with her husband and pets and is pursuing a doctorate degree in clinical psychology at the California School of Professional Psychol-ogy.

She doesn't intend to abandon her career track to take up writing, but said she and her publisher have talked about the possibility of doing other books in the inappropriate vein, like an inappropriate wedding book, pet book or college graduation book.

"I've just gotten a lot of good feedback -- people think it's funny and say, 'Oh, I remember what my kids did.' It brings back memories, and I guess that's a good think because people laugh."

A side affect to the notoriety Stinson's book has brought her is all the inappropriate stories and mementos people now share with her, like a Polaroid of an extremely poopy diaper.

The friend who Stinson made the book for has gotten a little carried away with the theme, Stinson said, and has even sent her a post card with baby boogers taped on it.

If nothing else, it has certainly been an interesting experience in inappropriateness for Stinson.

"It's been sort of a funny journey," she said. "This whole thing is not something I expected."

"The Inappropriate Baby Book" is available in Anchorage at Barnes and Noble and Borders Books, online at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com and other locations.



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