Are you my Mommy?

Are you my Mommy?
Are you my Mommy?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Baby Sign Postscript

This week was monumental...not in the climbing a mountain way but in the toddler way. But first, I need to give a little back story.

Given a family pattern of young speakers stubbornly waiting until they could speak sentences to utter much, I long ago began baby sign American Sign Language (ASL).  As a mostly SAHM and a lover of ASL, this decision was easy as I could not imagine entire days without communicating with the other biped in my house (I am still working on getting the 9.5 pound dog to use baby sign...he just stares at me...he's stubborn too).  I read about baby sign and the idea of using gestures seemed like it would lead to conversations involving pointing and whining (both of us that is), so I went with a ASL which is a comprehensive language.  ASL is beautiful in that so many signs are just common sense (you know hi and bye already.  Train for example is to pull the whistle and banana is to "peel" your pointer finger with the opposite hand.)  Initially, we began at 6 months per instructions from a book...ha! ha!  He was more interested in eating and people watching.  We re-started around 10 months and kicked into high gear after one year. 

Mr. B is now 25 months.  I have tried counting the number of signs he knows and when I write the list I add to it for a few days with Mr. B reminding me when I forgot something.  (paused typing to put my gymnast back in his crib and thus decided to try the list again....grand total for right now is 145, oops 146 signs since I just remembered that I forgot "turtle")  For the last 3 months, I have looked up only a couple of signs when I saw that he was becoming frustrated and needed a way to communicate.  The reason for the slowing down was that my prediction came true (yes, I know that I could have made this happen, but I found empirical research demonstrating that baby sign does not slow verbal language acquisition but does decrease toddler and infant frustration levels) [If you want a copy of the publicized research, I will be happy to email information].  We are proud receivers of the toddler lowered levels of frustration.  Mr. B is a content, happy child who rarely tantrums and any whining is solved when he is reminded to use words in some form.

We went in for the 2 year pediatric well child check and I will first sign that I am in favor of this type of care as it is preventive care and not sick care.  But, I go to each and every one with apprehension as my child's development and our parenting decisions are not the American norm beginning at birth.  (Mr. B nursed and stayed awake for almost all of two days, and then he decided to catch up on sleep, but this led to almost hitting the "too much weight loss" line.  By the 5 day old visit, he was on track and a big fan of full on mama milk.)  I knew this visit would focus on language development.  Although it turned out to not be what I feared, the doctor was concerned with his mere 15 word spoken vocabulary since his aforementioned 146 signs did not count.  I am left to wonder if the medical field is primarily concerned with children forming speech sounds aka phonological production and not language knowledge/acquisition (apparently sign is not fully recognized...I beg and plead to differ).

In one months time he has gone from 15 spoken words to 37 +/- a few given that he would not admit for an entire month that a certain person's name was not just babbling...stinker...cute stinker.  I should add that he can sign all his letters, make all their sounds, point out all capital letters aka "mama letters" whether you sign or say them, and point out 20 of his lower case letters aka "baby letters." He knows his numbers 0-12, shapes, and colors.  The doctor did not request an evaluation.  Ironic that part of me wanted to have one just to gain the first hand experience (hmmm, probably shouldn't make Mr. B the guinea pig).  He did however respond that Mr. B needed to verbalize two word sentences by 2.5 years. 

Well this week was our monumental event already.  Once upon a time, Mr. B and I were having our morning chat and cuddle and he asked about "dada."  I responded and then came his first sentence that I will never forget my entire life, nor will he as I plan to tell this story in the future.  Here goes and if you have sensitive ears you may want to look away for a moment.  Dada poop. With raised inflection on the end.

All in all, I am very pleased with ASL for Mr. B.  The following are some interesting results we have had.
  1. Less tantrums
  2. More 2 way communication
  3. Mr. B showing pride in himself
  4. Mr. B showing that he remembers the past through story telling
  5. Telling stories with sign and then making himself laugh
  6. Making requests
  7. Having choices such as preferred food for dinner or color of cup
  8. Mr. B getting to be a teacher to family members
  9. Finding out he knows more than one would think given his quiet demeanor
  10. Planning events, such as discussing the animals he would like to see at the zoo or what we would see on vacation
  11. Using mutli-modal learning with "seeing sign" "seeing the letter" "producing the letter sound" and hearing the letter name and sound
  12. Communicating to his buddies aka stuffed animals
  13. Entertainment in the car
  14. Learning house rules, such as not to feed the dog from the table
  15. More interaction when reading books as he likes to sign the words we read
  16. Naming objects on his own, such as particular books he prefers
The Compromise:  Taking time to look up signs to expand my own vocabulary.  Funny stares and questions from other people.  If you choose baby sign and have this problem, just tell curious people or nosy people that the parent not present is deaf.  and that will be that, no questions asked.  Some will bypass the questions and stares and go straight to expressing their opinion about how you are harming your child.  Please keep trudging forward as this path less taken is a worthwhile journey that is not arduous. 

The Sweet Reward:  See above, need I say more.  This is really only one years work, easier than any other school subject.

   P.S.  I am a little sad that we are entering the next stage where we focus on verbal language and slow down on introducing new signs (although 10 of his 37 spoken words are repeats of signed words). I have enjoyed immensely the baby sign portion of our lives.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Moving 101

Disclaimer:  Whereas I have moved a plethora of times, I have never bought or sold a home.

Until a few weeks ago, this was my status as a homeowner.  This month that has all changed.

Disclaimer:  I have moved many times (see above), but always as a single individual.

This month however, I am learning how to move as a family unit including a husband (who likes to collect) and a toddler (who does not understand why life became so chaotic).

I have learned a few things and thought I would pass on my wisdom common sense hints that you probably already know...I wonder why I didn't know these things before...hmmmm....

Here I go...First of all, do not start packing too soon.  Our selling and buying situation went much more quickly than any of us (husband D, me, our agent, and even the economy) imagined. While we are extremely thankful to have gone under contract 10 days after putting on the market, it has become a whirlwind that increased in speed with their request for a quicker than normal move in date and the fact that we had not yet found our next home.  Back to my first moving hint:  we became so nervous/excited that we began packing literally immediately.

The Compromise:  We have reopened most of our packed and sealed boxes needing items (and not always knowing which box to open).

Second, packing so quickly can lead to finding new ways to do daily activities.  D packed our office supplies and Mr. B wanted to do his number game (aka learning numbers).  Big box = chalkboard.

The Compromise:  Said toddler, Mr. B, finds every permanent marker for box labeling to draw on said boxes or whatever surface is nearby.

Third, a family means that real meals are essential, thus we are packing the kitchen last.

The Compromise:  Kitchen items become most accessible household possessions and thus are more readily used by toddler for toys.  This actually makes me happy as I prefer non-traditional/non-big-box-store purchased toys.

Fourth, obtain boxes from everyone you know including friends, colleagues, grocery stores (apple boxes are awesome), offices (paper boxes work great for books....we have many).  Make sure to break them down for easy travel home in your car.

The Compromise:  Flat boxes leaning against couch between coffee table can and will be used by toddlers as makeshift home slides.  Same boxes also make a great hiding place and with Mr. B's quietness he really does get to hide.

Fifth, leave out small games that your family enjoys as you will need down time at the end of each day.  You will feel worn out physically from lifting boxes and emotionally given frustration of looking for items that were packed too early (see the first hint above).

The Compromise:  Mastermind is only fun so many times...:) reality, evening games and occasional movies (I highly recommend The Help after reading the book) has been a great way to unwind.

Sixth: Crockpots are amazing devices.  To have a warm healthy porridge ready when you wake up, to cook up healthy beans to minimize pantry contents, etc.

The Compromise  My toddler knows that he world is a little topsy turvy, so he decided to add a new twist of learning to climb out of his crib, over and over and over and over again.

The Sweet Reward:  Learning just how resilient your family is in handling change and chaos.  Toddlers really are amazing when you think about handling being off schedule with major environmental changes that tend to come with moving.  and husband D learned a valuable lesson (ooo this should be the seventh hint): do NOT pack up the belongings of a toddler in front of him/her. They take offense even if you treat these items nicely as well as suddenly need to play with that item even if it has not been touched in months.

Friday, July 13, 2012

While on Sabbatical

Is it possible to take a Sabbatical from blogging?  I am not sure, but this is what came to mind when I thought about the recent events of our lives.  We have had more going on than I ever imagined, but I have had a lifetime of learning in the past month.

A little recap to help you know where I am coming from:  We started the Summer with preparing for our first BIG vacation with child and preparing our house to go on market.  The vacation required prepping for colder weather since we were going North on an active vacation and preparing amusement for a toddler lap child on a 4 legged (2 each way) airplane adventure.  The house required thinning down of possessions by  moving said accumulation of life "necessities" into a storage unit.  Then, we enjoyed said vacation and it went amazingly well. Upon our return, the house required further spiffying up and cleaning and staging for a photo shoot.  Then, we had final preparations to be constantly ready for a debut should an interested party call.  10 days later we had our first!  And the offer came with the request to move in less than one month later.  Since a bird in the hand is fabulous when considering the idea of numerous tours of strangers through our home, we accepted the offer.  Our year long search for our perfect home then began in earnest.  At one point I saw 11 houses in 2 days while toting along a toddler who just wanted to be at home with his toys.  And when I looked in his eyes, I could not help but dwell on the thought that my decision would make my cute toddler homeless.  (at this same time, when I said look in my eyes, he would smash his forehead and nose into mine and giggle uncontrollably...that helped)  Along came a very interesting house and after seeing it on the first day of its debut, we put in an offer.  One week after we accepted our offer.  Whirlwind, some may say.  Meant to be others might say.  In perpetual shock right now, I might say.  Relief, our families said.  Yep, said my non-worrying husband, D.  Mr. B simply says he needs a brown room...not sure why the color choice, although briefly he toyed with the idea of a gray room.  Funny boy.

You can suspect that I am learning all the usual things such as patience, how to pack a family of 3 in to as few boxes as possible, and how to make sure not to accidentally pack the dog.  I have learned additional things, and of course I will now present a list (I think the simple organization of a list is a thing of beauty for all to behold).

  1. Microfiber cloths will clean any surface with only water and elbow grease as needed, including glass and removing the layer of gunk life gets on sinks. 
  2. A duvet cover literally covers any ugliness.  
  3. Old tool chests used as end tables and old ice (literally ice) chests used as a hutch in the dining room will both hide toys.
  4. Long and low dressers will mimic a beautiful wooden side bar in a dining room.  Just don't leave the top drawer of underwear open.
  5. Red food dye and water will mimic red wine to make a picturesque scene on your porch.
  6. Water, water, water to get plants to bloom and stay blooming, especially if your garden is best described as pocket-sized like mine
  7. Inexpensive annuals at your garden store will hide sun baked bare spots in your flower beds
  8. Your child will choose the chaotic week with 5 house showings to begin his Olympic training for the climbing out of your crib sport.
  9. Said child will climb out repeatedly for over 2 hours many days in a row.
  10. Homemade frozen yogurt treats in silicone tubes are a nutritious treat for the family on the go.
  11. These treats will however be spilled in the car seat leaving a sun baked smell that I will not describe here and instead will utilize the strength of Denial to forget.
  12. Coffee can mask any tiredness and allow you to face the next day with at least one eye open

The Compromise:  There was a sad, dark night...I'm not just setting the stage here since a storm was looming...when I, The Compromising Mother, went through a drive through to feed my toddler while out really late hoping to find a roof for his head

The Sweet Reward: A new house big enough for a family of 3 to replace our one bedroom abode and a toddler who continues his training to become a gold medalist gymnast (It has been over an hour of climbing out of his crib and Mr. B is still not asleep).  There you have it. The typical mothering dilemma.  How is it I figured out how to sell and buy a home in this economy, yet can't figure out how to get my toddler to sleep without a drive in the car?