Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mayhem and Chaos

Usually when I take a shower, I put Doug in his crib with a few toys to keep him occupied. Today, I asked him if he'd like to get in the shower with me, which he loves. He responded by saying and signing 'yes', so I led him into his room to get him ready.

He started doing this:

I thought that because he was throwing ALL of his toys into his crib that he'd rather stay in there this time.

So I plopped him in his crib and went on my merry way. You may have noticed that he's now wearing shorts in this picture. A few weeks ago, he threw everything out of his crib as usual, but this time his diaper as well. For a few days I took the precaution of making sure he was wearing shorts or pants, but then I forgot about it. Until Monday, when once again, his diaper was on the floor. When I walked into his room, he just pointed and stared at it, as if he couldn't believe his own daring. But lesson learned, the child shall wear shorts!

This is what I found when I returned after my shower:

"Spring me!"

And this:

At least he was wearing his diaper.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Signing with Doug

I've been meaning to write about signing with Doug for a while, but I've only now just gotten around to it.

Way back when in the B.C. time (before children) I studied Speech Language Pathology and Audiology in college.* One of my classes discussed augmentative communication for children who developed typically, with the main method being American Sign Language. I recall that many studies were done about this and children were able to communicate earlier than their non-signing peers, had a larger vocabulary later on as well as a higher IQ. Contrary to what some people may believe, the studies showed that typically developing children who signed did not have a delay in oral language. I'm really tired of saying that last statement. One of the nurses in our pediatrician's office tried to say that signing made children 'lazy'. I just smiled and tried not to roll my eyes. Some times you just have to pick your battles, ya know?

Anyway, then after college I went to work in a learning center, with a focus on literacy and comprehension. One of our programs was geared to oral language comprehension and as a result we saw many students on the Autism Spectrum. The kids we saw came to us at all levels of language development. Some had good receptive skills, others were good at expressing language. Several had used some signs at point, and we'd sign too if it would help diffuse a situation. I'd taken several ASL classes by this point (but was by no means great at it, I'd forgotten gobs of it) so I could sign with some students as needed.

So, that was long, but that's the place I'm coming from. One of the things I learned in college was about babbling, you know, goo goo gaga, etc. I bet you didn't know that people actually studied this. At any rate, there are various stages of babbling that eventually lead to word formation. Earlier stages are like cooing, with 'ooos and aaahs' with later stages having almost a word like sound, things like 'dado' 'bada' ect. I'd always intended to sign with Doug. I'd bought a book on baby signing when he was about 3 months old with the plan to introduce it at 6 months old. Most babies can get the receptive part down by 8 mos, and then start signing back to you around 10 mos. Well, when Doug was around 6 mos, we started getting ready to move, and the book got misplaced or packed some where. The idea just kind of got shelved, I felt guilty about it, but there were so many other things going on, like moving! When Doug was about ten months old, I noticed that he hadn't advanced to the later stages of babbling in a typical developmental pattern. I wasn't concerned that there was a speech or language issue, he's a boy and sometimes kids will have typical language, but just later on. I believed that his first word would happen in the later end of the normal range and decided we would get cracking on signing.

Right about eleven months old, Doug surprised us by saying 'hi!'. I was pleased, but decided we'd continue on with signing. I think we picked three signs at first to work on, 'milk', 'more' and 'bird'. We chose 'bird' because we have a parakeet that Doug is totally fascinated by, and it's an easy sign (use your thump and index finger like a beak). 'Bird' ended up being Doug's first sign, maybe close to his birthday. A little after 12 months, Doug also began saying 'hot'. Everything concerning food is 'hot' as well as our wedding portrait, which is quite baffling. Then he began to sign 'more' and we really vamped it up. Then came 'milk' which he uses to mean beverage and the action 'to drink', which is totally a separate sign.

As in oral language, children who sign also create their own sign. Doug's first made up sign was 'lotion', which looks like you're rubbing lotion on your hands. He also made up a sign for 'toothbrush', 'open' and Herbert, his lovie.

In all, Doug has seven oral words and over a dozen signs by now and can use signs in combination ( 'more food' 'yes drink' 'please drink' 'please all done') . Very recently, I started to teach him the sign for 'yes'. The other day he started to say 'yes', which sounds like 'yish' while he was signing 'yes'. That was the first time he combined oral ans signed language.

I don't want to push signing on people. I think that every family has its own needs and that everything isn't right for each family. I do believe that signing has opened up doors for us and for Doug and that we're able to communicate with him much more effectively than if we didn't sign. I do encourage people with babies and toddlers to think about it and I'd love to discuss our experience with you, but I am by no means an expert in anything. Except perhaps catching food that comes out of Doug's mouth. Motherhood is so gross some times.

* I have my bachelor's degree, not a master's, so I am not an SLP and cannot practice as one.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Lemon Scented 500

One night last week we went out to Denny's for dinner. As usual, Doug managed to charm the bejesus out of the wait staff. He was making eyes and smiling at all the waitresses there and then sure enough, one of the waitresses came over and offered Doug a toy car from the movie 'Cars 2'. It was plastic and the wheels were molded onto the body of the car and didn't move. At some point during the meal Doug had appropriated the lemon from my drink. He lined up the lemon and the car and then started sliding the lemon around the table, complete with car noises!

The lemon made a few laps around the table along with the race car that Daddy drove.

Then a winner was declared!

And then eaten.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer Reading

In honor of National Book week, I thought I'd share with you what I've been reading lately. I do tend to read more of the summer, I think it's ingrained from summer reading assignments growing up!

The first few books I read this summer were a part of a trilogy I reread. I found the first one on my high school's reading list and it's been my favorite book since I was fourteen. It's called "Here Be Dragons' and it's part of the 'Welsh Prince Series' by Sharon Kay Penman. They're not light reads, they average about 800 pages each. The series portrays the struggles that the Welsh faced in the shadow of it's stronger neighbor, England. The characters are so vivid they practically walk off the page. You'll definitely need a box of tissues handy when you read them! The next two books in the series are 'Falls the Shadow' and the 'Reckoning". I highly recommend them.

Another great book I read this summer is 'Water for Elephants' by Sara Gruen. It's so exciting, with a great romance story. The setting of the story on a circus train is just incredible, full of so many things I'd never even imagined, very exotic. It's a great beach read, it's hard to put down!

My book club selected 'Bossypants' by Tina Fey for our first summer book. It was hysterical. I read it at night on my nook while Jeff slept, and several times I woke him up snorting because the book was so funny. Tina tells readers about her childhood and coming of age. She also talks about being a woman in a mostly guy's club, and the obstacles she had to over come on the way. It's a quick light read, perfect for a road trip, the beach or a lazy afternoon.

The book I've most recently finished is 'The Help'. It's a very powerful book, dealing with racial tensions in the South during the Civil Rights movement. The main characters are African-American maids and the white women they work for. It's a bit of a more serious read, but it's also uplifting. I can't wait to see the movie when it comes out!

The book I'm currently reading is 'Dreams of Joy', Lisa See's sequel to 'Shanghai Girls'. Lisa See's characters are very well formed, you forget that they're not actual people. The story deals with the complications of a mother/daughter relationship as well as the relationship between sisters. Another element dealt with in the book is the change that China under went as it became communist and the struggles and corruption communism brought to the country. The book really makes me want to go back and reread 'The Good Earth' by Pearl Buck, which I think Lisa See is a fan of. I also have an urge to rereal 'Animal Farm' by George Orwell. There are so many interesting elements in this book to discuss, I'm kicking myself that 'Dreams of Joy' and 'Shanghai Girls' weren't book club books!

I still have books that I want to read this summer, one of which is 'Then Came You', by one of my favorite authors, Jennifer Weiner. Several of her previous books left me disappointed, but her last book, 'Fly Away Home' was closer to where she started as a writer and I really enjoyed it. I'm hopeful for 'Then Came You'. Another book on my reading list is 'Room', which is a dark story about a mother raising her son in while in captivity. I'm not sure I'll be able to get through that one. The next book for my book club is 'Winter Garden' which I don't know much about yet, but looks exciting. I'll keep you posted.

Happy Reading!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Fighting Back

One day last week I was lying in bed and wondering why I was there. The answer was obvious, that I was exhausted and couldn't do anything more. And then I began to wonder why I was letting that stop me from doing the things I wanted to do, from living my life. I realized that yes, I was tired, but I can decide to succumb to it, or push through it. I will grant you, that this attitude is easier on good days than bad, but even on bad days I need to do something.

Last week, thanks to an old acquaintance, I met a new doctor to treat my fibro. He's not a rheumatologist, but a chronic pain doctor. He also has actual fibro patients, I'm not one or two of fibro patients he treats, but about one of thirty he sees weekly. That's a lot of fibro experience. He wasn't happy with or complacent about my treatment either. My first doctor told me that he aims for a 60% recovery for his patients. I've always wondered why he didn't want more for them. This new doctor is willing to try new things, one at a time to see how I react to them. He's also willing to see me more frequently, once a month instead of once every three months. I'm sure that appointments will become farther in-between as the fibro becomes more stable. But he gives me hope, which is more than any other doctor has done so far.

Last week I started yoga again. It wasn't something I was planning on doing, but I got a groupon offer for classes at this studio and they offered some gentle yoga classes. Sometime I think things like that land in your lap for a reason, so I jumped on the offer. The class was definitely more challenging than my lost yoga class, which was mostly done in a chair*. It was hard but not impossible. I left the class sore, but feeling well. I also didn't realize how weak some of my muscles were, which was a good wake up call.

I've been lamenting the shape of the house for weeks, smears on the kitchen floor, crunched cheerios in the carpet, dust everywhere. I began to wonder 'Why can't I have a clean house? Who says it's impossible?". So last night I decide I'd take the house one room at a time and clean it. Thoroughly. So far the upstairs bathroom is done as well as the kitchen. I bought a large wicker bin for the living room to stow some of Doug's larger toys in.** I feel pretty good about what I've accomplished so far and look forward to finishing the job!

Have a great week!

*The last yoga class I did was a therapeutics class, full of mostly older women with various types of arthritis, so many things were done on a folding chair to accommodate that. To be perfectly honest, it didn't really feel like yoga to me. Also, folding chairs are not friendly to fibro type people. Ouch.

**The main toy room is in the basement, but Doug manages to have toys in the living room as well as his room, which got a toy basket long ago. I swear he's taking over the house!