Meet Janine Kovac, a Cognitive Scientist and Happy Mom of Three


(reposted from

After completing my degree in cognitive science at UC Berkeley, I was pregnant with what my husband and I thought was our second child. Then, surprise! We were having twins. I had never given much thought to how a twin pregnancy could be different from what I’d already experienced. Then, halfway through our first ultrasound, the sonographer excused herself and returned a few minutes later with another sonographer to verify her findings. Usually babies (twins or not) develop in their own gestational sacs. However in my case, my boys were sharing both a placenta and an amniotic sac. It was a 1 in 25,000 kind of pregnancy.

Sharing the same space meant there was nothing to keep the umbilical cords from tangling, braiding, and knotting together. And if one twin died in utero, there would be no way to save the healthy twin—we would lose them both. A crimped cord that cuts circulation to point of asphyxiation was not inevitable, but it was unpredictable and unpreventable. The odds of survival without complications in this kind of pregnancy hover at about 50%.

After carefully outlining the risks and the protocols our doctor said to me, “There is nothing you can do to prevent the babies from dying. Don’t let it stress you out. You can’t do anything about it.” And then he sent me home.

That’s when I turned to Raising Happiness and the Greater Good Science Center.

Interesting, huh? You can read the rest of the post directly on Christine’s site.

Meet Christine Carter Who Wants You to Meet Me


In 2008 I was up to my ears in parenting books and I couldn’t help but notice that many of these experts did not agree with each other. So I began to evaluate their works not on the basis of their words but rather on the abstract structures behind their words.

I know. It sounds boring. But it’s fascinating. So fascinating that it became the subject of my thesis A Linguistic Analysis of Parenting and the thesis won a fancy award (The Glushko Prize for Distinguished Undergraduate Research in Cognitive Science).

As I was compiling data for my research, I came across Christine Carter’s work. At the time she was the executive director for the Greater Good Science Center. It changed my life (and my thesis).

I’ll be the first to admit it. My thesis is rather dry. There are no pictures or exclamation marks anywhere. But I stand by the content. It’s pretty rad and gave me a way to navigate in the NICU when my husband and I were flanked by more experts who didn’t agree with each other. And Christine’s work (you can experience the Full Christine here) became the road map.

In 2012 I wrote a series of posts for Christine’s parenting site, combining what I gleaned from her 10 Steps For Raising Happy Kids with stuffy abstract cognitive linguistics. I’m reposting them the essays for your enjoyment. Please check out and if you have the chance. She offers a fantastic online class and all of her advice is science-based. Awesomeness. Exclamation point.