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MOOD MUSIC: With two energetic sons, ages 7 months and 5, I'm always on the lookout for ways to inject some quiet time into our daily routine. I found a soothing solution in Thomas Schoenberger's ``Music for Infants, Vol. 1: Nurturing Music'' (Intelibaby; $14.98) and ``Vol. 2: Travel Music'' ($13.98). Designed for an infant's attention span, these delightful one- to two-minute piano concertos were composed by Schoenberger after he suffered a head injury in 1982. Now, according to the album's liner notes, he writes two to four pieces every day, keeping only those favored by his young son, Wolfgang. For my family, the music worked best at home as we unwound at the end of a long day. The quiet melodies provided a smooth transition from playtime to bedtime, helping my sons relax and prepare for sleep. The CDs can be purchased at the Right Start, Borders, Barnes & Noble or by visiting or

- Sherry Joe Crosby

NO WORRIES: It's about time somebody delivered a pox on the ill-informed pregnancy police. Dr. Michael S. Broder reviews the scientific evidence and tells moms-to-be what's safe and what's not in ``The Panic-Free Pregnancy'' (Penguin; $14.95). Yes, you can have a cup of coffee in the morning. Yes, you can drink the occasional glass of wine. And no, you don't have to get rid of your cat. You're more likely to get toxoplasmosis from gardening without gloves than you are from the cat litter box. Broder, an assistant clinical professor of obstetrics at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, takes the fear out of what should be an exciting rite of passage.

- Mariko Thompson

MAKE IT A DOUBLE: Forget Diaper Genies, crib bumpers and even those ``What to Expect'' books. Give the new parents in your life what they really need: ``The Three-Martini Playdate: A Practical Guide to Happy Parenting,'' by Christine Mellor (Chronicle Books; $12.95).

In addition to an on-call baby sitter and a whole lot more sleep, the other thing in short supply for rookie parents is a good laugh. And Mellor's practical advice that goes along with it won't hurt, either. Her message: Parenting is all about balance and not giving up everything you once were - or giving in to everybody's prevailing wisdom or unsolicited ``advice.'' She could quote Dr. Phil, but that wouldn't be as funny as these chapter titles: ``Bedtime: Is 5:30 too early?'' ``Diaper Bag or Steamer Trunk?'' ``Child Labor: Not Just for the Third World!'' and ``Self-Esteem and Other Overrated Concepts.''

In addition to the actually useful tips on child-proofing, tantrums and schooling, don't miss Mellor's recipes. Lemonade for Grown-Ups is a great way to get through a kid-clogged birthday party. But remember her advice: ``Omit vodka if serving to the younger set, as it doesn't sit well with them.''

- Steven Rosenberg

BRAIN POWER: Most people are worried about keeping their bodies fit. But what about the brain? Jokes about senior moments aside, we don't have to lose our mental acuity with age. According to Dr. Gary Small, director of the UCLA Center on Aging, the risk of dementia for the average person is about one-third genetic. The remaining two-thirds are tied to environment and lifestyle, writes Small in ``The Memory Prescription'' (Hyperion; $25.95). Small, with co-author Gigi Vorgan, outlines a 14-day memory fitness plan that builds on many of the same strategies included in his best-selling ``The Memory Bible.'' Small sprinkles brain teasers and memory association exercises throughout each day of the plan, a holistic approach that combines a Mediterranean diet, exercise and other stress-reducing activities. This is really a prescription for well-being. Small bets readers will feel so much better and sharper after 14 days that they'll make these habits for life. Small will appear at Brentano's Century City, 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., at 7 p.m. Thursday.

- M.T.


5 photos


(1) no caption (``Music for Infants, Vol. 1: Nurturing Music''

(2) no caption (``Vol. 2: Travel Music'')

(3) no caption (book: ``The Panic-Free Pregnancy'')

(4) no caption (book: ``The Memory Prescription'')

(5) no caption (book: ``What to Expect'')
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 14, 2004

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