Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Summer time classic

Katen got her first popsicle today. It's been so hot and humid that it just seemed like a fun thing to do. I dressed her in her art shirt (knowing she'd be covered in drips) and we headed outside. She loved it!!! ...didn't need all that sugar but she loved it.

Oops again!

So after we got her first shiner out of the way, Daddy and Katen were playing in the living room and she came into where I was folding clothes crying. I thought she was upset because she was teething. It was definitely an "I'm hurting" cry, so I gave her a few teething tabs and rocked with her a little bit. She calmed down right away but the second I put her down she started crying again. I noticed she was not moving an arm and Daddy told me that she might have hurt it. They were playing and just like we always do she was swinging by her arms at one point. This time however her elbow popped out of joint.

We ended up taking her to the Emergency room because she seemed to be in a lot of pain. I could only imagine what they were going to say with a bum arm and a black eye on top of that. The Dr just laughed and said that was typical of a toddler and that we didn't have the characteristics of a child beater. Whew! He was able to pop her elbow back in a matter of seconds and she was able to move it again immediately. However, now until she's 5 years old, we cannot let her hang by her arms at all because she's predisposed to the same thing happening again. It's actually very common and is called Nursemaid's elbow. Go figure that our little dare devil would have this. She's constantly hanging on things.

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Little pickle got her first shiner a couple of weeks ago. I guess it was inevitable since she's such a mover and a shaker. She literally runs from the time she wakes up until I put her in bed at night. No need for a gym membership at our house. Whew! Anyway, Katen was getting down from the couch and thought her feet were on the ground but they weren't and she lunged forward hitting the side of her head on the coffee table. The sound was absolutely awful and as tough as she usually is, she immediately started screaming so we knew it hurt pretty badly. Daddy ran to get an ice pack while I tried to console her. Looking back I have to laugh a little because I told Mike to grab an ice pack out of the freezer door. He comes back in a flash ...with a bag of frozen chopped onions.

Huh? I looked at him and said, "Ice pack. We need an ice pack. These are onions" to which he replied, "I know but this was faster and I'm getting the ice pack now." Ha! Gotta love Dads under pressure. :) Keeping an ice pack on an active toddler is nearly impossible though. We sure tried but didn't have much success.

In the end, Katen is okay but I think the coffee table is still pretty shook up about it.

An unlikely visitor

A few weeks ago Katen and I were outside (playing in the rain) and she kept pointing to the privacy fence and saying "cat!" "Cat!" "CAT!" with a huge grin on her face. I kept telling her, no there's a DOG in the neighbor's yard... until I see a face peek up between the fence and the deck. It's a racoon!!! I think the whole neighborhood heard me scream. I ran over, snatched Katen up and ran inside. I guess the raccoon was intrigued because shortly after, we found it peeking at us though the patio door. Helllo I see you!

Aren't these things supposed to be nocturnal?

We were kind of hoping it would just go away but two days later, on a Sunday morning, our furry friend was still hanging out with us. The raccoon had been peering in our window, pacing the deck and yard, entertaining our kid (or was it the other way around?) and finally on that Sunday morning it started foaming, shaking, and vomiting all over. That's when we decided it was time to call animal control. (we were going to wait until Monday)

I felt pretty bad seeing the policeman go after him with a rifle, since the critter did seem pretty friendly and just plain confused, but a little too friendly...and sick. The cop didn't end up using the gun. I won't go into detail but the raccoon is now dead and gone. R.I.P. "Baccoooon." It is nice to be able to go into our back yard again though.

"Mom it's playing on my slide!"

A new set of wheels

Katen got her first bike trailer this summer. Now she can go on bike rides with mommy and daddy. It's got pockets for snacks and even a drink holder. What more can a girl want? We think she looks pretty spiffy in her little helmet, don't you?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

18 mos - A look back at Signing

Recently several people have asked me about our experience with using baby sign language. My answer is always that it's been awesome and so very helpful. We've avoided so many meltdowns simply by being able to communicate. Signing is proof that children truly do understand way more than we think they do. They may not be able to use words because their vocal cords aren't ready yet but their motor skills are well developed by age 1, and by using signs they can show us they understand so much more than you'd imagine.

At about 6 mos we started signing with our little pickle. I found that learning the signs myself from online animated dictionaries was much more helpful than reading a book on the subject. Books seemed to leave too much of the signs up for interperatation. Animations show you exactly how to make the sign correctly. The first signs we chose to teach were "more," "all done," and "milk." She caught on within a few months of being consistent with showing the sign and saying the word every time we used it. This was despite the fact that Katen was in daycare at the time and was not signed to during the day. (So working moms and dads, you can do this too!)

After mastering 2-3 signs we'd move on to learning a few more. At about the age of 12mos I noticed a huge (and I mean huge) breakthrough. When it used to take Katen a few mos to learn a sign, she'd now learn them in a few weeks and soon she was learning them in a few days. Now at 18mos if you show her a sign and use it a few times, she's got it and she'll use it. She now knows over 50 signs with "eat, drink, sleep, more, all done, and help" being the most helpful in my opinion.

Now that Katen is a year old, we let her watch Signing Time videos and they really increase her confidence and help reinforce the signs she already knows. She feels really good when they say a word and she immediately knows the sign. Generally we don't park her in front of the TV for those though. We watch it with her and discuss the signs, etc. We also pick up and use a lot of the songs that they use with their signs. I'll admit that some of them are really catchy!

If there's any advice I can give, it's to BE CONSISTENT and DON'T GIVE UP. It may take a while at first for the baby to repeat the sign (they understand them well before they use them) and you may have to watch very carefully for any effort to come close to making the sign from your baby. When they do, applaud their effort, repeat the sign, letting them know you understood, and make a big deal about it. Your child may also make their own version of the sign. That's fine! Still repeat it using the correct sign. They'll know you understand.

I really feel like we'd have a very frustrated toddler on our hands if we hadn't started signing at an early age. Pickle is very independent and really has a need to be understood. By signing together it feels like there's a deeper connection because I can understand a little more about what she's thinking or feeling. Most kids don't learn about feelings until they're older and able to verbalize. However we've been able to begin working on emotional intelligence well in advance of that. This ability, again, will help keep temper tantrums at bay. Obviously there are still temper tantrums but now they usually revolve around mommy saying that horrible word, "no." Oh the horror!

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