Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Two short videos of Elyana. She uses Help twice in one (when she closes the calculator) and once in the other when he tea pot is playing the wrong song... It's hard to get her to "act" for the camera.... :) She uses it a lot, but well, you know how children are on camera....

In case you can't see the embedded video below, you can go here....
and here:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sign Language - She's getting it!

What is exciting is how quickly Elyana is understanding and applying sign language now. She babbles constantly... I mean, she just talks and talks and talks. Which I adore. But I can't understand most of it.

I read a lot from different websites, and I bought and read Sign With Your Baby when she was 6 months old. I immediately started to implement working specifically on modeling "More" to her and making her hands form the sign. I knew it would take a while, and that patiences and persistence were key. I knew there was no time limit for it taking "too long" for her to grasp. I would use a few other signs to her, when they came into normal conversation, but I was mainly trying to just work on that one first. My reading had told me that there wasn't much point to starting before 6 months, because babies don't have a ton of memory to recall something like that, at that point. I had also learned that with patient persistence a baby will usually start signing back around 9-10 months. Haha.

Well, my darling girl did it at 13 months!!! Oh but the joy of that hard-earned "more" was deligthful! She understood very quickly that signing "more" to us got her more of whatever her little mouth was craving... Strawberries, puffs, blueberries, bites of Momma/Daddy's food.... Basically, by about 2-3 days into using it, we called it her "magic word", because she would very feverishly and intensely sign "more" if we weren't giving her what she wanted (specifically with cookies or chocolate or anything sweet that she wanted). We figured she thought if she used it enough, she would get more!!! Very funny. And a little heartbreaking because I wanted to give her more and reward her diligent use of her sign language. But alas, teaching "No" is pretty important.

With "more" well at hand, I started intorducing more to see what she would pick up. I showed her "All Done", "Banana", "Strawberry", "Hurt", "Help", "Book" and "Shoes". She would do banana, strawberry, and shoes back to us, but not all the time, and sloppily. (They are more precise than all-done, to be honest.) Then, about two weeks after she got "more", she got "All Done." What a joy to be able to ask her when she's regusing food if she's all done, or if she just wants more of (fill-in-the-blank). As a mother that was so helpful.

But our favorite sign? The one she got only days after all-done? HELP!!! Oh my goodness, this one is a lifesaver for both her whining and my relationship with her. We used a revised version of Help that's easier for a baby, and she really understood that one. She started using it when her ball was trapped. No more whining for it to get my attention, she just stood there patiently and silently, and signed "help." Over and over and over! The she used it when a toy of hers was playing the wrong song. Or when she wanted to get in her toy car, but couldn't. I saw her in the back of the car, in her carseat, quietly signing "help" because she'd dropped her book!

If I could, I would recommend every mother teach their child this sign very early on. We use the word "help" a lot, so it was a concept she understood easily. It melts my heart to see my little baby signing for my help - and to see the relief and delight on her face when I say, "You need Momma's help?", well that's even better. A 14-month old really does have an intense desire to be understood, and they are so happy and fulfilled when this occurs.

She has started just today and yesterday to use 3 other signs. "Eat", "Excuse me" (when she burps), and "Hurt".

Just wanted to share what she's up to... As well as encourage any one out there who wants to try it....

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Receptive Language

I have been reading about this lately, and it interests me so much! I have been delighted and impressed with Elyana's understanding and communication with me/us. It is something I've been very intentional about, but this being my first child, I am not sure how much is attributable to her ability, and how much is attributable to my work. But I am eager to share what we've done and where we are currently with her language development.

Since Elyana was newborn I have talked to her and read to her a lot. All sorts of things. I would explain:

- what I was doing while I held/wore her - and why. (cooking, laundry, getting the mail, making coffee). Ex: "Momma is sauteeing onion to put in the bread for dinner." "Momma is washing our dirty cloths, look at the Georgia red clay." "Let's see if anything fun is in the mailbox. What a sunny day outside!")
- detail-by-detail what I was doing with her and why (bathing, diapering, swaddling, dancing) Ex: "Momma is soaping up your feet now to make them smell all nice." "Let's get you all swaddled in the white swaddle blanket with the sheep on it so you can be all cozy." "Listen! It's Yo-Yo Ma playing Bach's Cello Suites. Let's dance."
- what we were seeing as we were out and about (walking, grocery shopping, driving) Ex: "Oh, it's Christmas, look at the ornaments hanging from the ceiling." "Blood oranges are on sale, let's buy them to eat." "Do you hear that bird chirp? That's a bobwhite quail!"
- when I was looking for something. I often would ask "Where is your...." and then fill in the blank with paci, shoes, hat, a book title, of particular toy. I'd also do this when I was looking for something of mine!
- I talk to her about how much I loved her, about her birth story, about how she was conceived, about how much I love her Daddy, about how sad I was when her Daddy was deployed ... basically, I just shared my heart at different times.
- I share the Gospel with her... I talk to her about Jesus, and about his life on earth. I talk about His ultimate sacrifice, His perfect sinless life, our need for Atonement, His Ultimate Love. I talk about how God reveals Himself to us through Nature and Beauty... so we pay LOTS of attention to nature.
- I read, read, read to her. Since she was very young (2 months old? I know people start earlier, but that's when I first did it.) I read everything. We have tons of books. Some days we only go through about 5 together, other days it's 30! From books with pictures with one-word-per-page, to books with entire story-lines and few pictures (still toddler-appropriate). I read a chapter from the Bible to her aloud each day. I read the menu to her at restaurants. At 11 months old, she started to read books to herself. She'd sit down, go through the pages, and "talk" about them. Now she will choose which books she wants us to read, and which she wants to go through by herself.
- I have always assumed she understands more that I probably think, but I've never required it of her.

All this is to say, she now currently can and will (some of the following she's been doing for months, but this is just a compilation):

- Understand and obey two-stage requests ("Find your shoes and bring them to mommy." or "Get your hippo and put him in the basket.")
- Find a book by its title and bring it to us. (She's been choosing between 2 books since she was 7 mos old)
- Understand and obey me with "no's" (no walking in the street, no touching the candles)
- She remembers past experiences and relates them. Ex. She will see a fire in a restaurant and say "hhhhooo" for "hot" and understand it's a no-touch.
- I start off all my fun sentences very slowly and quietly with "Elyana, would you like to...." and she snaps her head to me intently. She knows it is something fun!!! It's usually ended with "watch Baby Dance" "have a cookie" "go outside"....etc.
- She understands "Help" and will sign it to me for at least a half dozen circumstances daily. This one is so huge to me, because it is clearly an understanding that whatever is frustrating her, her momma will fix if she asks. Whereas before it was just a whine and a general pointing, now she'll clearly get near the object she is having a problem with, and sign "help," knowing that I will come fix it for her!!! If it's a toy she's closed and can't reopen, or a ball that's stuck, her toy playing the wrong song, or her dropped paci... She can tell me and know I'll fix it.

These are a few of many ways we've been working on communication (both ways). I try very hard to consistently work on something new with Elyana every few days/weeks (depending on how hard it is for her). For example, we've always used "no touch" to mean for her not to even go near something. Today, we worked on 'no touch with your hand, but you may step on it' (it was a puddle of water). We have worked on "wait" a long time, because that's such a hard concept. But I don't care how fast she grasps them, so long as I am working with her.

I think our children are capable of so much more than we give them credit for, or opportunity. But it's not something necessary to work on, I just enjoy it so much. I have just ordered a book I read good reviews on called The Philosophical Baby. I am eager to read what it has to say about my child's developing mind.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Healthy Children's Snacks To-Go?

I'm not sure how you all manage when you're out-and-about, but I've found that an integral part of a successful shopping trip is having food for the baby! I try to always have some in my purse, as well as in the car. I like to keep it in the house for when we plan to go on long walks or play dates at parks. But I have found that for a 13 month old (and younger, I've been doing this for a while), she still can't just take a piece of fruit to munch on.... (Also, those don't store so well long-term in the purse.) So I have found I need easy snacks that are baby-friendly (8 front teeth, 2 molars)... BUT healthy! The healthy part really is difficult. There are plenty of kid snacks out there, but they've got sugar, HFCS, oils and unpronounceable processed stuff in them. No thanks!

So, here are some of my go-to's... Can you all please share what you have found that works? please think stuff that works in a purse/diaper bag so she can eat it in a grocery cart or stroller.... :)

Lara Bar - if I pick out the few large almonds (usually only 4-5 per bar), she just loves these. Totally raw.

Peter Rabbit Organic Fruit pouches - Discovered these at Starbucks. We adore the just-blended-taste! (Plum Organics also makes these, I just haven't found in a store them yet.)

Suzie's Thin Cakes Puffed Multigrain Cakes - likewise, she loves unsalted rice cakes. But boy do they make a mess in the car or in the carpet! :)

String cheese - Easy to get. Glad for protein.

So now.... weigh in with something you know of that is a healthy snack that a young toddler could eat on-the-go.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Happy 1st Birthday Elyana Ruth!!!

Our little girl is now One Year Old!!!

This year has been so amazing, and wonderful, and joy upon joy with her in our lives. I remember the years of pain, and the years of not knowing if I'd hold a baby of Jonathan and my making. I remember the ache as I looked at women around me carrying their babies, nursing them, comforting and loving them... I remember crying often for what my heart was aching for. I remember receiving prayer, words of comfort, words of faith, and many scriptures with God's character and purposes to me. And now, I look at my child, and my heart overflows with gratefulness. Her presence lights up my days and nights!

Her personality comes out each day. She loves outside, animals, books, music, dancing, her parents, and lots of little things I have forgotten! She gets a cute obsession about her passions... For example, for months it was dogs! Every single dog picture she took note of, every dog stuffed animal she wanted to hold, and every real dog got squeals of delight and endless chasing! This was from about September to January. Then toward the end of January it became all about birds! Oh the fun she has! We keep two feeders outside the kitchen and she can watch doves, goldfinches, purple finches, sparrows, and cardinals come eat. She can spot them in a tree and will point until we can acknowledge where it is! She says "buur" for bird and "Caaa" for cardinal (the red male ones she sees). Of course I think she's so smart!

Music she asks for every single morning. She can find the remote and often turn it on. She is over-the-top in love with Classical Baby The Dance Show. Mostly because it combines two of her favorite things: dancing with her momma or daddy, and music!!! If she finds the DVD, she will push it in our faces asking for us to put it on! So adorable! Besides Your Baby Can Read, it's the only DVD she's seen so far.

Over my December stay at my parents' house, she started reading books to herself! Now she will often just want to pick out books and go through them herself. It's a welcome growth, as it gives me a few minutes to do other things and I know she is choosing to entertain herself that way, and not just pining away unhappily while momma is busy! She still loves being read to, but her favorite books change almost every other week.

She loves watching me to Itsy Bitsy Spider. She'll try the motions a little. She will come in on the "oh-oh-oh-oh-oxen" part of the short vowel song. She can make a (muffled) "woof" for dog and "ur-ur-ur-ur-uh" for a chicken. She loves chickens/roosters currently. She seems to say a TON of words, we're just not sure how much she understands (she impersonates very well). Yesterday she said "Hannah" when she was swinging with her friend Hannah. Lots of times two of us hear her say something and we're shocked at how well she enunciates. But it's usually a one-time word, and we don't hear it again much.

She signs now!!! Her first one was (of course!) "More"! How proud I was! This was in early February. She will do a sloppy "All Done" and "Help" and "Banana" and "Toilet" that's about it. I've worked on "Nurse" and "Drink" a lot as well as not-so-faithfully: book, bedtime, please. I was just so happy she got "more" I felt like such a success!!! We call it her "magic word" because for a while she was so insistent at it that she figured if she used it enough, she'd get what she wanted!

She loves eating. She sees Daddy pour his cereal each morning and she goes to sit next to him and eat bites. So sweet! She isn't a picky eater, but she especially adores blueberries (almost as much as chocolate!), cheese (especially string), peas, borscht.

As you can tell, she's a delight and a handful and we wouldn't change life at all. There's a ton more to say, but mostly from a mothering perspective, so I'll leave that for later.

Now I'm going to just put pictures of each of her months in her first year of life!

Newborn.... the bliss!!!! Seriously!

1 Month Old.
Loved the Sleep-n-Play outfits! We lived for those little segments of time she was awake and interactive!

2 Months Old
Smiling regularly, Loves to be in momma's wrap, loves baths.

3 Months Old
Hates tummy time, loves paci and swaddling

4 Months Old
A delight. Travels 6 hrs in car ok. Schedule-lover. Naps great. Loves swimming. Loves books.

5 Months Old
Loves Daddy home! Sits up easily, has specific favorite books. Loves interaction. 

6 Months Old
First shots, stranger anxiety, loves this little car, loves her cousins.
....and first two teeth!!!

7 Months Old
Beach bunny! Hated that 2nd tooth, disrupted sleep for 10 days! Was cranky all the time for 5 weeks!!! Toilet trained.

8 Months Old
Still love the car, love swings, love sandboxes, grass, outsides. CRAWLS!

9 Months Old
Avid dog lover, outside lover, crawler.

10 Months Old
Cat for Halloween! Very attached to momma!!! Hates being separated.
...tries to eat leaves when we're not looking. (Very obedient!)

11 Months Old
Say bye to Daddy again... really develop an attachment to him. Adore books! All day long!
...and have my first Christmas!!! AND CAN WALK WELL NOW!!!

ONE YEAR OLD!!!!!!!!!!