Saturday, December 27, 2008

Whew! The FIRM WAVE is Tough!

I've been working out with the FIRM WAVE for a little over two months. At first I started working out once or twice a week. A huge improvement from never working out. This week I've bumped up my exercise level again, and I'm shooting for five times a week. And the workouts are getting tougher. I think there are two reasons for this:

  1. I know the routines now, so I can really apply myself and use the maximum weight with more intensity.
  2. Working out two days in a row is much more challenging than working out, resting for three days and working out again.
I decided to take a month to go through the WAVE Deluxe Rotation. I'm expecting to see great results and feel comfortable in my pants again (especially since I won't be buying more chocolate chips).

Friday, December 26, 2008

The FIRM WAVE: Rock Solid Buns Review

Christmas Wishes- Blog Them and They Will Come True
Several of my Christmas wishes came true. I received the FIRM WAVE Speed Slimming Workout Deluxe Upgrade from the distributors of the FIRM, GAIAM. Thank you! I really needed the upgrade.

I Started Working Out and My Pants Got Tight
When I started working out, I noticed my pants getting tighter. This has happened in the past as my muscles started developing and my body reshaped. I didn't worry about it. I knew if I kept working out, things would start getting looser. But then I was confronted by the scale at the doctor's office. There was no denying I had gained at least 10 pounds since I started working out! How did it happen? I couldn't figure it out--until I looked at my stash of chocolate chips. Remember how I bought eight bags two weeks ago? Only one and a half bags have survived. I was shocked. How did I eat that many without realizing it?

Tonight, I attacked the new Rock Solid workouts with determination and enthusiasm. I had to burn off those chocolate chips (although my husband caught me with a bowl of granola and chocolate chips 30 minutes before I worked out. I stopped stuffing my face and put them aside for later. I mean, another day.)

Rock Solid Buns with Alison Davis-McClain
I really enjoyed Rock Solid Buns with Alison Davis-McClain. It was a nice combination of footwork, standing exercises, and floor work. It incorporated the WAVE and resistance bands in ways that challenged my balance and my muscles. Alison always throws in challenging variations of the standard exercises, which I like. I have a hard time learning complicated footwork, so simply adding a new level to dips and lunges and squats is great for me.

What I Liked
I've worked out with resistance bands before and I didn't like it. They seemed awkward and ineffective. Not this time. Alison used the bands in exercises that worked. And the slots in the WAVE worked perfectly for anchoring the bands and keeping them in position. And the instability of the WAVE made my whole body work to keep my balance, not just the muscles targeted by the band. I could actually getting into band work using this tool.

The final stretch incorporated yoga stretches that felt great.

What I Didn't Like
The inner thigh burn during the side lunge to the top of the WAVE sequence. Ouch! I've never felt that side lunges did that much for me. Until now. Alison did the lunges unto the top of the WAVE and then made you pull yourself to a standing position on the top of the WAVE. Now that's a side lunge that works!

Again, the camera work wasn't great. And in the close up shots the faces are fuzzy. This is a problem in all the WAVE videos by the FIRM.

More Info on the Firm's Wave:
The WAVE by the FIRM - I'm Feeling the Pain
I Tried the Firm Wave- A Review of the FIRM WAVE
More on the new FIRM Wave
The New FIRM Wave Arrived
The New FIRM Wave - I Bought It
The FIRM Wave - Is it a Gimmick, or Lots of Fun?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Just for the Fun of It

I saw this video on Good Mom/Bad Mom . Enjoy!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

How to find your non-emergency emergency number

In my post about the great flat tire incident, I mentioned calling the local non-emergency emergency number. Yes, there is such a thing as a "non-emergency emergency number." This number is often answered by 911 dispatch, but it is answered at a different priority level. By calling this number you won't be taking resources away from someone who was shot or is having a heart

Non-emergency emergency numbers are not universal, like 911. You can find the number by Googling "non-emergency emergency number" and then your city. Or go to your municipality's website. If you still can't find it, call your local police station.

Why is it important to have this number programmed into your cell phone?

  1. You have a flat tire on the side of the highway and need highway assistance.
  2. Someone is lurking around your neighborhood. They are not immediately threatening, but you want it checked out.
  3. Random things happen every day that aren't emergency-emergencies, but they are non-emergency emergencies. Get it?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What I Want for Christmas: More Firm Wave DVDs, a Trench Coat, a Laptop....

My wonderful husband asked me to make a list of things I want for Christmas. Of course, I want the big ticket items, like a new laptop and wireless internet connectivity so I can blog from any room in the house. I could even blog in the same room as him while he plays Halo 3 on his new Xbox 360 I gave him for his birthday. Wouldn't that be romantic?

And I would love to get the Internet on my Treo. Think of all the tweeting and blogging I could do then! And constant connection to Facebook. How great.

And I found a stunning monochromatic, black and white trench coat at The Limited. It looks really cute on me. (Size Medium)

Of course, I would love more workout DVDs for the FIRM WAVE. I'm having fun with the two WAVE workouts I have, but I would also like the WAVE Speed Slimming System Deluxe System with Rock Solid Abs and Rock Solid Buns. The third WAVE workout I would like is Rock Solid Cardio.

I don't know how he's going to find this for me, but about a month ago I dreamed I was on vacation and went to the resort gift shop. I found the most amazing pair of deep blue pinstripe trouser jeans. If he can find my dream jeans, I'll be ecstatic.

Oh, and if it's a tight year, I would love a comfy, soft sweatshirt. I realized yesterday that the last time I bought a sweatshirt was (gulp) 14 years ago!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Sheep in the Drain - Or Imaginary Bravery

My 2 1/2 year old daughter believes that bears use the potty in our house. Occasionally, she waits to use the toilet until the bear finishes going. She even wipes the bear's bottom for him before taking her turn on the toilet.

And now, sheep live in the bathtub drain. Not just one sheep, but lots of sheep. Today, when she pulled the plug, sheep came crawling out. She fearfully slid to the back of the tub. I wasn't sure what to do. Pretend with her that the sheep were scary? Tell her she was silly? Ask her why she wasn't afraid of the potty-trained bear?

I decided to help her learn bravery by controlling her imaginary world. I held her hand and helped her weave her way between sheep to pull the plug in the tub. Then she surprised me. She sat on a sheep and "Squashed it!" Those pesky bathtub sheep won't bother her again.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Food Allergy Drama and Flat Tires

Yesterday I made a trip to the local food allergy store, Navan Foods. I decided to stock up on foods instead of wasting gas every two weeks. Plus, I wanted to make sure I would never run out of my chocolate fix, Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips. I bought eight bags. But then I moved on to the alternative flour section and realized that most of the flours I was using were processed in the same facility with peanuts and tree nuts. I didn't worry to much about it when I was the only one with a peanut allergy. But now that I have to watch my daughter's food, too. I really need to get rid of the foods that have a potential to be contaminated with nuts. But I have allergies to dairy, nuts, soy, wheat, eggs, and yeast. My options are so limited, it was crushing to realize I was going to have to find a new distributor of alternative flour...and probably special order it. I wanted to cry, but instead, I shoved a few handfuls of allergy-free chocolate chips in my mouth and headed home on the highway.

Then my tire blew out. On the highway. Weirdly, I handled it with complete composure and calm. My internal allergy tears disappeared. I called roadside assistance and the state highway patrol. Even when roadside assistance told me they couldn't change my tire for me because my location was too dangerous, I didn't worry. I did buckle my seat belt while I waited in my parked car, though. If I got hit, I was going to be strapped in a prepared! Eventually, the highway patrol roadside assistance arrived, my tire was changed, and I got home with only half of the chocolate chip bag eaten.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Chocolate Mochi is Curiously Chewy and Addictive

I've been trying new food since the discovery of my multiple, life-changing, food allergies. I recently discovered a recipe for easy, microwave Chocolate Mochi. It only has four ingredients, sweet rice, cocoa, water, and sugar. Since those all fit into my diet and my online search for information on mochi revealed that it is a Japanese favorite, I decided to give it a try.

The recipe wasn't particularly difficult, except that the cooked rice mixture is extremely sticky and gummy. It's like rubber cement. Appetizing, right? Just be warned, don't use a hand-held electric mixer to stir the concoction. It sucked the mochi right up into its electric motor. I think it might be the end of my tiny mixer. And, don't put the extra mixture from the bowls down the sink. It'll clog your drain faster than congealed bacon grease.

But, once you struggle through the rubber cement stage, it's very simple. And the end result is truly unique. Kind of like a chewy, gummy, chocolate jello cake. I rolled some of mine in a cinnamon, cocoa and sugar mixture. Mmmm...

So, if you are brave enough to try making mochi, here's the recipe I used from Koda Farms.

Cocoa Mochi (Easy Microwave Version)

A traditional Japanese confection, dense and chewy in texture. This microwave version is contemporarily flavored with cocoa.

2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 box (1#) Mochiko Blue Star Brand Sweet Rice Flour
3 cups water
extra cocoa powder for dusting

In medium saucepan, using a whisk, combine sugar and cocoa together very thoroughly. Then add 1 cup water and mix well. Heat syrup over medium high, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
Using a whisk, thoroughly mix flour and 3 cups water in a large microwavable bowl until smooth. Cover and microwave 5 minutes on high. Remove from oven and using a large spoon, mix thoroughly. Return to microwave, uncovered, and cook an additional 5 minutes on high.

Remove from microwave oven. Add cocoa syrup and mix thoroughly.

Pour mixture into a 9 x 13 inch nonstick baking pan lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray. Let mochi cool overnight or until firm.

Dust top with cocoa powder and invert contents onto a cutting board dusted with cocoa powder (before inverting pan, gently pull the mochi along the pan sides free).

Cut mochi into small pieces and dust all surfaces in cocoa powder.

Store in airtight container and refrigerate.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Alternative to the Firm Wave - The T-BOW

Thanks to Edward and Lisa for pointing out an alternative to the Firm Wave. It's called the T-BOW and it originated in Europe. It appears to be more curved than the Wave and it's thinner. It comes in wood or plastic.

Here's a quick video of the T-BOW in action. It's used in clubs and doesn't come with videos like the Wave by the Firm does. It is available with 1 DVD for about $200. (Thanks ElenaGracia.)

But this picture is what really impressed me. I can barely do that on the floor. Ok. I can't even do that on the floor.

Print Your Own Wrapping Paper

I tried making my own wrapping paper today. It was really fun. I scanned on of my favorite shirts, and then Photoshopped the pattern using different editing presets. I loved several of the results--so much so I'm thinking about making my own wall art and printing it on canvas...
But, I had a problem - my printer doesn't print to the edge, so wrapping a larger gift would be difficult.

Bestow, what do you recommend?

Squirt Baby Food Dispenser - Is This a Good Idea?

Every now and again, I Stumble across something interesting. For instance, the Squirt Baby Food Dispenser. No more scooping baby food from a bowl. Just squeeze the bulb and the spoon refills. I'm not sure, is this ingenious? Or just a huge accident waiting to happen. My kid had a pretty good grip. I could see her painting the walls and the dog with this thing.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thrifty, Crafty Gift-Wrapping -- I Might Even Try This

If you know me well, you know I despise wrapping presents. The paper seems such a waste of money. I can't tie bows (a co-worker taught me how to tie bows in my clothes a month or two ago, seriously). And I can't get the corners straight. And at the end, all the packages look the same. Too matchy-matchy for me.

But, this inspires me. Bestow scanned a skirt and printed out the paper to wrap this gift. Amazing. Now, I do think it is taking it too far to show up with the gift while wearing the matching outfit. Again, too matchy-matchy.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Toots - Blame it on the Pumpkin

Mammatalk recently wrote a post on Toots. In our house, if the unmentionable should happen, we mention it by saying joyfully, "I tooted!" Of course, I never toot myself, so I don't say this.

When we were carving pumpkins for Halloween, someone tooted and promptly blamed it on the pumpkin. Kalen flipped the pumpkin over and showed us the bottom of the pumpkin where the "toot" escaped. We later named the pumpkin "Tootie JJ."

Do you have any fun tooting stories?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

So, My Kid Has a Peanut Allergy

My daughter was tested for food allergies while she had surgery to unblock her tear ducts. We got the results back this week. Fortunately, she doesn't have a long list of true food allergies. Just one. She's allergic to peanuts. IgE allergic. It's not just a food sensitivity. It's the kind that can be dangerous. She hasn't had any severe reactions, but IgE allergies can seem like no big deal one day and the next they can kill you. That doesn't bother me to much with my own peanut allergy, but somehow, it's different with Kalen. I can't watch her everywhere. I can't control her actions forever. One day, she's going to want to kiss her peanut-butter eating boyfriend.

Fortunately, her daycare is peanut-free. They don't even buy products manufactured in the same plant as peanuts. That's a real relief for me. I thought I would need to pack her a lunch everyday.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Apparently, There is Not Enough Time for Work, Family, Romance, Fitness and Blogging

About two weeks ago I tried a bold experiment--I added exercise into my weekly routine and focused on saying more to my husband than, "Hi, how was your day? What's for supper?" and "Let me tell you what the cutest kid on earth did today."

So, Bryan and I have had some wonderful conversations. Check for Family. Check for Romance. I've also managed to work out with the FIRM WAVE or other videos at least twice a week. I also spend time running around the house while carrying my daughter--yes, literally. It's a game we play. Check for Fitness. Work automatically gets a check.

But the box next to Blogging goes unchecked. I love blogging. I love connecting with friends I've met in the flesh and friends I've met through the keyboard. So, I'm going to have to figure out how to fit that in---I just had an idea. I can stand up at the keyboard and type while I "jog" in place. Naw...That doesn't work. I used to do that in college to meet the physical education requirement for gym classes. (Who out there from Cedarville remembers "PACLing'?)

The only solution I can come up with right now is to purchase an internet plan for my phone (Hint, hint, hubby.) What solutions do you have for me?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Motrin Ad - Does it Make You Laugh? Or Make You Mad? #motrinmoms

Motrin recently came out with a new ad campaign targeting mothers.

Some mom's are offended. Some find it funny. Like Mom 101, I felt that the script just needed a little tweaking and different voice talent and it would be fine. But then, baby carriers killed my back and neck.

Mom's on Twitter (#motrinmoms) are boycotting Motrin. I would never be that foolish. After all, Motrin stopped the pain for me, my husband, and my daughter many times. I can attribute many hours of sleep to Motrin while we waited for the doctor's office to open in the morning. And, if I remember right, Motrin helped with the pain after my c-section (or was that Tylenol?).

Their ad campaign was a little off the mark. Big deal. As long as Motrin is safe and effective, my family will be using it.

Oh yeah, I gave some to my daughter tonight when the apple juice "medicine" we gave her failed to take away her ear pain. And yes, she's sleeping now, and I will be soon.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Work, Family, Romance, Me Time--And Exercise? Is It Possible?

Since my daughter was born, I've been trying to gain balance in my life and exercise. When I was on maternity leave, I did squats and plies while holding her and occasionally worked out with The FIRM or Karen Voight's Sleek Essentials.

For two weeks, I had a free membership to Bally Total Fitness and worked out with my personal trainer sister. But mostly, I've done nothing but try to regain my sanity and a sense of normalcy. Now, I'm trying to exercise again. Three times in three weeks! That's really good for me.

But I've only worked out on the weekends. By the time I get home from work, play with my daughter, eat supper, clean a little, talk to my husband, get my daughter in bed, etc. it's after 8 p.m. And I'm am spent. At 7 p.m. I still have energy. I actually feel like working out. At 8:15 p.m., I'm ready to sit and watch t.v., blog, or go to bed.

How do you fit exercise into your weekdays? I'm thinking about doing yoga 1 or 2 evenings. I always fall asleep on the floor afterward, but that's not so it?

But please, tell me how you make it work. Holly's Tried It---and I can't figure it out.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Difference Between Nightmares and Night Terrors

I had terrible dreams when I was little. I dreamed a family of alligators lived in the bathroom cupboard (which made going to the bathroom in the middle of the night terrifying). I dreamed a family of lions lived in the bathroom, too. I believed that if I left the light off, they wouldn't wake up. Once day, my grandma was visiting and walked in on me in a dark bathroom. Try explaining that without looking crazy! Also, big tarantula's would drop down on my face from a web strung from the upper bunk of the bed. And a magic black cat materialized in a brown paper bag and stalk out to. . . Well, I don't know what it was going to do. I just woke up terrified. And I didn't feel right about the sound of crumpling paper for a long time.

Science Mom has twin sons. Even though they are identical, one has nightmares, the other has night terrors. Basically, the child wakes up during a nightmare and often can remember it in the morning (in my case, 30+ years of mornings later). Night terrors usually occur within 90 minutes of falling asleep. The child screams and sweats and appears extremely distressed, but doesn't wake up during the episode, and doesn't remember it in the morning.

I didn't have night terrors, but I think that might have been preferable. With nightmares, parents should comfort the child to help reduce future nightmares. With night terrors, comfort yourself by trying to comfort the child, even though they won't even know you are there.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

New Firm Wave Infomercial Available

You can watch 5 minutes of the Firm Wave infomercial at the FIRM website. It's not posted to YouTube, yet.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Allergen-Free Hotdog Cake - As Promised

A couple weeks ago, we had a Halloweiner Party. Today, I learned we are not the only ones to create Halloweiner celebrations. Oh well, I bet nobody else had a hotdog cake that was dairy-free, soy-free, corn-free, yeast-free, nut-free, and wheat-free. Since I couldn't find a allergen-free frosting, I used Wilton's Colored Fondant Icing. Interestingly, I can't eat the white fondant icing.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Wave by The FIRM Rock It Off! Review

The new Wave Rock It Off DVD by the FIRM kicked my butt. Alison Davis included more complex and new moves than Allie Del Rio did in Speed Slimming Sculpt. I'm glad I started with Speed Slimming Sculpt, because even though I was working out on new equipment, my body still new what to do. I was comfortable with the basic moves.

Rock It Off will definitely take me 4-5 times through to get the steps correct. But I've always been step-challenged. It's not that the choreography is horribly difficult. It's just that she includes steps and exercises I haven't done before on equipment that moves when you stand on it.

Rock It Off included stepping on the Wave, jumping on the Wave, rocking on the Wave, balancing on the Wave, and climbing over the Wave. You will need a lot of space for this workout, since the sequence of exercises takes you completely around the Wave. You will need space in front, beside, and behind the Wave. I got a little frustrated with having to reposition my Wave during exercise sequences to make sure I had enough room. Next time I will move my couch.

The camera work on this DVD was a little off. Alison's face often appeared a little fuzzy and out of focus while everything around her was crisp and clear. She's pretty young, so I don't think they were trying a soft glow effect to smooth out wrinkles. :-)

The Wave Rock It Off DVD gets your heart rate up and the day after, my glutes are sore. However, it was obvious in the video that even the FIRM instructors had a hard time keeping the Wave from moving. In one section, Alison's Wave shifts half-way off her mat.

My review? Get the Wave, but be careful and keep away from stairs.

More Info on the Firm's Wave:

The Wave by the FIRM - I'm Feeling the Pain
I Tried the Firm Wave
More on the new FIRM Wave
The New FIRM Wave Arrived
The New FIRM Wave - I Bought It
The FIRM Wave - Is it a Gimmick, or Lots of Fun?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Why did Wesley say, "As you wish?"

Today, I feel like Buttercup in the Princess Bride after she discovers that Wesley was really saying, "I love you," every time he said, "As you wish."

If you were given a novel written about your marriage, would you read it? What would the title be?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rhetorical Question on Giving from Dooce

I loved this post by Dooce on the question of whether or not to give to beggars. You know, the people you see in Target parking lots with signs asking for help. I used to be conflicted by some of the concerns Dooce had. But I love her solution to the problem.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Winner of the Baby Signing Time Gift Set is Heather!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Baby Signing Time Gift Set Giveaway. I wanted all of you to win and I was really pulling for hollydlr who entered obsessively (exactly what I like in a baby signing fan). Congratulations to Heather @ DIY Life. You are the winner of the BST Gift Set with Baby Signing Time volumes 1-4 and all the BST music CDs. Send me your mailing info at hollytriedit at

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wil Wheaton (one of my Jr. High Crushes) is on Twitter

Who knew cute Wil Wheaton from Star Trek: the Next Generation was all grown up and using Twitter. Now's the time to contact your junior high crush--and he won't even be able to see you blush. Quick tip, he would probably prefer to talk about tech stuff than Trek Stuff.

read more | digg story

Monday, October 20, 2008

What is Your Blogging Style? - 3 Question Quiz

I'm a sucker for a personality quiz, and online ones are even better than I ones I used to do in Teen Magazine. They calculate the results for you! For all my blogging friends, here are my results to the What is Your Blogging Personality Quiz. Do you agree? What's your blogging personality?

Your Blogging Type is Logical and Principled

You like to voice your well thought out opinions on your blog.

And if someone doesn't what you write, you really don't care!

Serious and blunt, sometimes people take your blog the wrong way.

But you're a true and loyal friend to those who truly get you.

Friday, October 17, 2008

10 Overused Words in Writing

All words are good words, but some are overused in writing. Precise Edit created a list of 10 overused words, based on documents they have edited during the last 5 years. Which of these do you overuse? Feel free to edit my writing in a comment!

read more | digg story

Allergen-Free Hotdog Cake for Halloweiner Party

It's that time again. Time for the Annual Halloweiner Party. You haven't heard of a Halloweiner Party before? Too bad, because you are missing out on the fun. A Halloweiner party combines Halloween with all things Weiner. We created the event to celebrate our weiner dogs' birthdays and their victory at the Annual Oktoberfest Dachshund Beauty Pageant.

All events and food relate to weiners or hotdogs. We make a large hotdog pinata, grill hotdogs and bratwursts, and play pin the weiner on the, uh, bun. It just wouldn't remain a G rated party any other way.

We dress our dogs up in hotdog bun costumes and Bryan wears his, "I love my Weiner" shirt. All party guests bring a hotdog themed food. It must either contain weiners (Pigs in a Blanket, Little Smokies, etc.) or be shaped like a hotdog.

Which is why I am attempting to make this cake. Only, because of my food allergies, I have to make all kinds of substitutions. I'm using Namaste Chocolate Cake for the bun (I'll probably ice the bun like brown or just say it's Rye.) I also plan to cut out extra cake and shape it like a hotdog and ice with red-brown frosting. Since my recipe is dairy-free, wheat-free, soy-free, corn-free, nut-free, and yeast-free, it'll be interesting to see how it turns out. I promise, I'll post a picture. And if it's horrible, I'll even submit it to Cake Wrecks.

If you have a great recipe for frosting without using butter, shortening, or Spectrum Shortening, please let me know. And if you know of a good hotdog game, post a comment.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Wave by the Firm - I'm Feeling the Pain

Whimper, whimper. Two days after working out on the Wave by the FIRM, my outer thighs hurt. My abs hurt. My inner thighs hurt. The Wave definitely works your muscles differently then the step and the inclined step. With the FIRM step, I feel it in my quads and buttocks. With the inclined step, I feel it in my hamstrings and calves. If I use all three products, I'll have some fine looking legs and buns!

More Info on the Firm's Wave:
I Tried the Firm Wave
More on the new FIRM Wave
The New FIRM Wave Arrived
The New FIRM Wave - I Bought It
The FIRM Wave - Is it a Gimmick, or Lots of Fun?

Easy Green Tip: Water Your Plants with Ice Cubes

Some of you know that I'm an environmental educator by day (which pays a lot more than the $24 I've made blogging). And right now, everyone's talking about going green. All the information on what you should and shouldn't do gets overwhelming (And maybe a little annoying. Am I right?)

Every once in awhile, I'll share a green tip with you that makes my life easier, not just greener.

Easy Green Tip #1 - Water Your Plants with Ice Cubes

I have a hard time remembering to water my plant. (Yes, plant, singular.) But this water-conserving tip has given my dehydrated, drooping plant new life. Whenever I drop an ice cube on the floor, I pick it up and put it in my plant. This is slightly more difficult than simply kicking the ice cube under the fridge, but just as easy as putting it in the sink. If my automatic ice cube maker goes crazy and shoots cubes around the kitchen instead of into my cup, I ice cube my plant and then put the rest in my dog's water dish. Too make this even easier, keep your plant (or plants) and dog's water dish near the freezer.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Yummy Granola Recipe - Wheat-Free, Dairy-Free, Corn-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free

There haven't been many things that I've tried on my new allergen-free diet that I've loved so much that I ate them like they were the real thing. But thanks to my friend Julie, I have a delicious recipe for granola that Kalen, Bryan, and I love. It's crunchy, but not jaw-cracking hard. It's sweet and salty and just plain good. I like to use it as breakfast cereal with rice milk. Mmmmm... Or mix in some dry fruit ( I can only do this occasionally because of my sensitivity to mold.) But my favorite way is to mix in a scandalous amount of Enjoy Life dairy-free, soy-free Chocolate Chips. Yum!

Julie's Granola Recipe
5 cups quick oats
6 T brown sugar
6 T maple syrup
1/4 cup oil
3/4 t salt
cinnamon to taste

Combine oats and brown sugar. Combine syrup, oil and salt. Add wet mixture to dry and stir. Spread out on 2 cookie sheets. Cook for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes at 250 F. Stir every 15 minutes to keep an even color.

I also tried this recipe by using molasses instead of maple syrup. It was good, but the maple syrup is much better.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I Tried the FIRM WAVE: A Review of the Wave by the FIRM

I finally felt good enough to workout on the new FIRM Wave. Since it is a completely new concept and fitness tool for me, I did the 10 minute introduction to the Wave video, Ride the Wave with Emily Welsh. (For all you Firmies, Emily Welsh has two kids and now owns the FIRM studio in South Carolina. Good for you Emily!).

Generally, tutorials are dull. Ride the Wave isn't really an exception, except that I really had no clue how to position myself, where to press with my feet, etc. Ride the Wave explained it all. For example, press out through your outer thighs, and lift your heels to rock from side-to-side. Aahhhh...that makes sense, but I didn't figure it out on my own. I still have trouble "carving the wave." How do I rock back without straightening my back leg? I'll be going through parts of Ride the Wave before my next workout.

I then worked out with my favorite FIRM Master Instructor, Allie Del Rio. As you can see from this picture, Allie's been with the FIRM since the elaborite mansion sets with music written for the workouts. I loved that music--well, at least the fact that the horn section cued me to do plies and the drums cued squats. I needed all the help I could get. You probably should do Speed Slimming Sculpt without weights the first time. (I didn't, and admit it, neither will you.) I did compromise and use 3 lb. weights. Allie was a great instructor, as always. Not too perky, not to stiff, and just the right amount of encouragement. I like working out with Allie, partly because her weight shifts up and down, just like mine. But she always proves that when she wants to give up Chubbie Hubbie ice cream, she can and she knows how to whip her body from good to fabulous. She's living proof that there is hope for all us normal women (and men?) out there.

Speed Slimming Sculpt combined a lot of familiar FIRM moves with the new feel and challenges of the Wave. I liked that my feet new the steps, even if they weren't used to the surface. And I really liked the new surface. The curve of the Wave when I stepped on it was perfect. I loved the way the "crest" curled under my foot and supported my high arches. I didn't even notice the normal jarring of step. I've always hated doing lunges on a step, because it feels unnatural. I loved the TransFIRMer because the inclined position felt better. I think the Wave works better than the incline. The height and curved slant make an unnaturalness of lunging feel, well, almost natural.

Speed Slimming Sculpt uses the Wave in the rocking position for lunge/dip combinations. My thighs felt the difference. The Wave was stable enough that I didn't teeter over, but unstable enough that I had to squeeze my thighs and abs tight to hold it in position. It also forced me to press into the front leg instead of using the force of the back leg to pop me into a standing position.

The Wave was helpful during the ab section, also. Side-lying crunches never worked well for me. I had to tug on my arm to get my body into a position where my abs could take over. The curved top of the wave supported my waist and torso perfectly and enabled me to focus on developing oblique strength, not arm strength.

However, the Wave does shift a little when you workout, even if you use that mat. I'm going to try using my own yoga mat next time and see if it has more gripping power. And, as The FIRM does with most of their new stepping devices, they didn't make the base wider than the top to make it difficult to flip the Wave over if you accidentally step on the edge instead of the center. NOTE TO The FIRM and GAIAM: Just extend the edges of the wave at both ends . Voila! More stability.

My assessment? I don't think the Wave is a gimmick. The Wave will challenge you in different ways while still getting your heart rate up and building muscle. The Wave is probably not a workout necessity--unless you're like me and have to try new and fun things to stay motivated.

More Info on the Firm's Wave:
More on the new FIRM Wave
The New FIRM Wave Arrived
The New FIRM Wave - I Bought It
The FIRM Wave - Is it a Gimmick, or Lots of Fun?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

More on the new FIRM WAVE

I worked out on the New FIRM Wave a little tonight while watching The Amazing Race. The Wave is a great way to exercise while watching TV. I know, it sounds crazy. But I'm a couch potato who wants to move. A treadmill doesn't work well because your head doesn't stay level. The BOSU really doesn't work because you are bouncing everywhere. Yoga is hard because you are constantly bending over and looking at your knees or the floor.

But the Wave works. When you rock side to side, your head stays level. It's so easy to focus on Project Runway or whatever your favorite show is. Of course, you'll be limited to the rocking motions if the head-movement thing is important to you like it is for me.

My only problem with the Wave is that shifts slowly while you are using it. I had it on the specially designed safety mat on a carpeted floor. I noticed the Wave was starting to catch on something and realized it had shifted about a foot to the side. Don't use the Wave near stairs! I'm wondering if this will happen on a different surface. Anyone else tried it, yet?

More Info on the Firm's Wave:
I Tried the FIRM Wave
The New FIRM Wave Arrived
The New FIRM Wave - I Bought It
The FIRM Wave - Is it a Gimmick, or Lots of Fun?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The New FIRM Wave Arrived!

The Firm Wave came in the mail yesterday. Unfortunately, I have a cold, so I haven't worked out yet. But, my daughter had a great time walking up and down the slope (excuse me, the wave.)

I did preview the videos and try a few moves. When you first get on the rocking side of the Wave, it's a little awkward, but it doesn't take long at all to become acclimated to it. It doesn't feel dangerous after the first rock or two.

The videos contain pretty standard FIRM moves, so you won't be thrown off by a lot of new exercises and the new platform. There are new exercises, but mostly, the videos focus on doing the standards in a new way. The Wave definitely challenges your core muscles. You have to keep your abs tight to balance on the Wave. Some of the new rocking motions challenge the outer thighs even in a short time.

I think I'm going to enjoy this new exercise equipment. It's definitely not a gimmick.

More Info on the Firm's Wave:
I Tried the FIRM Wave
More on the new FIRM Wave
The New FIRM Wave - I Bought It
The FIRM Wave - Is it a Gimmick, or Lots of Fun?

Up in the Middle of the Night and Having Fun

Tonight, Kalen was crying in her sleep. Her face was contorted and she was squirming in bed. I felt so sorry for her. For some reason, it seems worse when she's hurting and asleep. Apparently she had some bubbles in her belly that were causing the pain. I finally got her up out of bed to walk. Sure enough, that took care of the problem. But then I had a wide-awake girl on my hands.

We decided to watch one episode of Word World together. She snuggled up close and provided commentary on the episode (she is an expert after all). And while I'm sad she was in pain, I'm glad we got to spend a little time together in an out of the ordinary way.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Year of CrockPotting

This blog is written by Stephanie, a woman with a crockpot obsession. She also cooks gluten-free, which makes this a great resource for those with celiac disease or gluten or wheat allergies. Thank you to my college friend, Chris, for sharing this with me. I've already found several recipes I can try. Which is great, because Bryan and I are getting really bored with the limited recipes that we know I can eat. I was really discouraged last week when I went through a cookbook for people with multiple food allergies and didn't find a single thing we could cook!

read more | digg story

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Random Things I Haven't Bought Because I Was "Economizing" or "Being Practical"

I've recently realized that there are several helpful products that would save me time, or make my life more pleasant, but I refuse to buy them because I'm saving money. Yet, I will buy a shirt or a new pair of shoes (granted, desparately needed) or an interesting cleaning product, or a book for my daughter.

Things I haven't purchased for no particular reason:

  1. Another lamp for my bedroom. It's really dark in my room because there are no overhead lights. The only light in there is an old, cheap halogen-style lamp from 7 years ago. Yet, my room goes uncleaned and my clothes remain on the floor because I don't like to go in there after dark, except to sleep. Wouldn't it make more sense to spend $25 to $50 on lighting?
  2. Organizing containers for my makeup. I keep my makeup and hair products in a basket. At one point, I had everything divided into little containers. It made getting ready easier and quicker. I knew exactly where everything was! But my daughter wanted her containers back to use as bathtubs for her WordWorld characters. Since they were hers, I gave them back. But I never went out and spent $5 on new containers to save me two minutes every morning.
  3. New facial soap. I just don't know what to buy. So I'm using my daughter's Dove.
  4. Round cake pans. I can make due with pie tins, right?
  5. Shorts that fit well. I'm waiting for next summer...but in Virginia, any day of the year could feel like summer.
How about you? And weird things you won't buy for some odd reason?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The New FIRM Wave - I Bought It

I bought the new FIRM infomercial package before it even went to infomercial! I feel cool and special, like a FIRM Believer (Yes, I'm a member of the online club). Or maybe like someone who spends a lot of time online.

After I saw the new FIRM Wave on YouTube, I got a birthday check from my mom. She encouraged me to try it pointing out that my blog is called, "Holly Tried It." Thanks for the advice, Mom.

I'll let you know how it works and if it's something you should buy.

My favorite FIRM package so far is the TranFIRMer Body Sculpting System kit (BSS4) with the two long steps that can be placed on an incline. What do you like?

More Info on the Firm's Wave:
More on the new FIRM Wave
The New FIRM Wave Arrived
The New FIRM Wave - I Bought It
The FIRM Wave - Is it a Gimmick, or Lots of Fun?

PETA Wants Ben and Jerrys To Use Human Breast Milk

Instead of using cow milk, PETA wants Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream makers to use human breast milk. I wonder if they consider the disease or drugs that can be passed through human breast milk?I love this story. It shows how out of touch PETA can be. Hmmm.....but if they switched to human milk, would I be able to eat it? I'm allergic to cow's milk. Just thinking about ice cream makes me think, well, maybe....No! That's just gross!

read more | digg story

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Firm Wave - Is it a Gimmick or Lots of Fun?

Yesterday, when I went to The Firm site to get a picture of Firm Yoga I saw that they are offering a new product - The Wave. It looks like lost of fun, and maybe a tad bit dangerous. Since the only danger I experience right now is driving, that seems kind of exciting. If you are a FIRM Believer, then you can view several video previews by logging in.

What do you think? Is The Firm Wave a gimmick or lots of fun?

More Info on the Firm's Wave:
I Tried the FIRM Wave
More on the new FIRM Wave
The New FIRM Wave Arrived
The New FIRM Wave - I Bought It

Monday, September 22, 2008

I worked out with FIRM Yoga

I actually worked out, tonight. Only because my husband said, "Aren't you going to work out tonight?" I grudgingly tromped upstairs and put in FIRM Yoga. Within minutes I felt calm and happy. Dare I say, "centered"? After the DVD was over, I stayed on the floor and fell asleep. Aahhh...Why don't I do this more often?

FIRM Yoga is one of my favorite yoga tapes. It's paced well with no long breaks while the instructor goes on about form or Eastern philosophy. The positions all feel good with several variations to customize to your level. I've had this DVD since it came out, and I keep going back to it. It's not too hard, not too easy, not too long, and not too boring.

CLARIFICATION: My poor husband did the right thing in asking me if I was going to work out. I had told him I was going to, and he was only asking because I was planted on the floor watching E's red-carpet fashion show on low (so I wouldn't wake up Kalen). He wasn't insinuating anything.

More Info on the Firm's Wave:

I Tried the FIRM Wave
More on the new FIRM Wave
The New FIRM Wave Arrived
The New FIRM Wave - I Bought It
The FIRM Wave - Is it a Gimmick, or Lots of Fun?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Child with Down syndrome to meet one of her heroes | NewsOK.

A four-year-old with Down Syndrome gets to meet Rachel Coleman. Coleman's Signing Time videos have played a large role in helping the child communicate with her immediate and extended family.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Knock-Knock Jokes

We've been teaching our daughter the knock-knock joke:

A. Knock Knock
B. Who's There
A. Boo
B. Boo Who?
A. Why are you crying?
She can deliver this joke properly, but she likes to mix it up.

A. Knock Knock
B. Who's There
A. Jimmy! (Our neighbor)
I think the punchline is that she didn't tell the joke we expected....?

But the other day she surprised us with a joke we've never told her (and that's kind of funny).

A. Knock Knock
B. Who's There?
A. Impatient Cow
B. Impatient Cow Who?
A. Moo! (Shouted at the same time you say Who.)
Now, the timing wasn't perfect, but she did it. She learned this joke from the special features at the end of Signing Time's Who Has the Frog DVD. Thank you Lucy and Zach (mostly Lucy).

What jokes or "jokes" does your child tell?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Politics...A few links to help you make an informed decision

McCain and Palin Campaign Website
Obama and Biden Campaign Website
Nader and Gonzalez Campaign Website

Friday, September 12, 2008

Food Advice to Enjoy!

Take a coffee or cocoa drink for breakfast, drink green tea during the day, a glass of wine in the evening and … a piece of dark chocolate before going to bed !!!” - The Gourmand's Heart

I think this is advice we can all live by and actually enjoy. Dark chocolate, wine, and coffee everyday...count me in...except the wine thing. I just can't learn to like it. Learn about all the health benefits of green tea, coffee, chocolate, and wine at an admittedly odd source - The Babies Online Blog.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Win a $99 Baby Signing Time Giftset

Signing Time is sending me a Baby Signing Time Gift Set valued at $99. Unfortunately, it's not for me. It's for you, or some other lucky Holly Tried It reader. It will include the Baby Signing Time Videos 1-4 and the accompanying CDs.

The contest winner will be drawn from a hat, because I will want to give everyone the gift set. You can enter multiple times to increase your chances of winning. To earn one entry complete one of the following. You can earn multiple entries by completing more than one of the following:

  1. Post Holly Tried It on your Blog Roll and then comment on this post with your blog address.
  2. Twitter the address for Holly Tried It to your friends and add HollyTriedIt to the people you are "following."
  3. Comment on this post with a story about your signing child, or the reason you want to sign with your child.
  4. Comment on this post with a question you have about sign language.
  5. Digg this post.
  6. Follow me through your Blogger account.
Remember, more entries equals more chances to win.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Bloggers - Enter Signing Time Contest to win Baby Signing Time Set

Signing Time is having a competition for a Baby Signing Time set worth $99. Find the rules and enter here. I already have.

Moms, do you have a security blanket?

One of my friends admitted that she still has a security blanket--her scruffy stuffed animal named Chubs--and she still sleeps with him. I'm sure I would still sleep with my beloved Holland Chosun (sweet, stuffed bear) if my husband wasn't the jealous type. Poor Holland Chosun was immediately banished to the closet after we got married.

Do you have a security blanket of some type? Do you sleep with it when your husband is home? I admit it, I used to retrieve Holland Chosun from banishment when Bryan was gone. Is your loved one the jealous type, or is your special lovie welcomed in bed with you?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mommy, Is There a Baby in There?

As many of you know, my daughter firmly believes she has a girl in her belly. Not a boy and not a turtle anymore, either. It's a girl.

Tonight, I was giving her a bath and she asked, "Baby in there?" and pointed to my belly.
I laughed and said, "No baby in there."
She said, "Yes. Baby in there. See it rolling!"

Thanks, sweet and precious daughter. Thanks for pointing out that my low-rise shorts are a little tight right now and they give me a muffin-top which apparently "rolls" while I'm bathing you. I was feeling motivated to I think I'll go stuff my face with allergen-free chocolate chips.

Squeaky Shoes, Size 9 or larger

My daughter's feet are suddenly growing. Which presents a problem--it's hard to find squeaky shoes size 9 or larger. Well, it's not that hard if you're willing to pay $25 to $35. I'm not. I'm looking at the $10 to $15 range. I try to keep my squeaky shoe purchases comparable to shoe prices at Target.

I found two stores online that sell reasonably priced squeaky shoes size 9 or larger.
Uniquely Squeaky - This eBay store is run by a grandma and offers reduced shipping for multiple purchases. You can also make an offer and see if she accepts it.

Itzy Bitzy - This store will break your heart and inspire you. What? A kid's shoe store can do all that? Yes. Itzy Bitzy was founded by a family who has one special needs daughter. Her bones in her face are underdeveloped and result in facial deformities. She has already had multiple surgeries, and will have many more. So, if you want an excuse to buy every shoe you like, go here. A portion of the proceeds are donated to charity. They also have a wide selection of shoes in larger sizes.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Dr. Laura Thinks Palin is a Poor Role Model

I don't pay much attention to Dr. Laura, but I just stumbled upon this post on her blog. Dr. Laura wrote,

But really, what kind of role model is a woman whose fifth child was recently born with a serious issue, Down Syndrome, and then goes back to the job of Governor within days of the birth? I am haunted by the family pictures of the Palins during political photo-ops, showing the eldest daughter, now pregnant with her own child, cuddling the family’s newborn. When Mom and Dad both work full-time (no matter how many folks get involved with the children), it becomes a somewhat chaotic situation.
Personally, I think she is a great role-model. The fact that she went back to work so soon is just a testament to her physical stamina. And, she went back to work WITH Trig--a situation I know many mothers would love to be able to work out.

The governor said she won't take a maternity leave but will bring Trig with her to work. Her spokesperson later clarified, at Palin's request, that the governor will take time off for medical appointments, physical therapy and whatever Trig needs.

And honestly, while most women don't go back to the workplace so soon after birth, many are actually working on maternity leave. I was working an hour or so a day from home by after my first week out of the hospital--and I was in poor physical health. Other women are getting phone calls from work, checking emails, or actually going back to work for a day or two to run important events. It may not be ideal, but I think it's a reality many American women face. And honestly...did the women who founded this country take three months off their back-breaking work maintaining the home when children were born? No.

And, yes, Trig has Down Syndrome, but I'm sure the Palin's are well-prepared. They have been aware of Trig's condition for months, and Sarah's sister's son has Down Syndrome.

I think Sarah Palin is a great role-model. I go to work and send my child to daycare. She doesn't get to come to work with me. I think it would be wonderful to be able to tell my daughter, "Look at the changes I am making in the world while we are apart! Look how I am able to make the world a more welcoming place for special needs children."

"Imagination, Imagination, Let's Pretend"

"Imagination, Imagination, Imagination, Let's Pretend." - Rachel Coleman

Imagination was one of the first songs Kalen signed. Now her imagination and ability to pretend is increasing exponentially. Today, she decided she wanted to go visit her Uncle Joel. I asked her how she was going to get to Uncle Joel's. She said, "Pack a bag. Ride a bus." She proceeded to pack her bag with clothes and training pants. And then we rode an imaginary bus (Bryan was the driver. Kalen and I were passengers in the comfy recliner.) and Kalen gave directions. "Go left!" "Stop!"

So much fun...but I'm not excited about her fear of bunnies. It's not like she's seen Monty Python!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Laura Berg of My Smart Hands Responds to Lasting Benefit of Sign Language Question

Laura Berg is the founder of My Smart Hands, a baby signing company. She is the mother of Fireese, the most famous signing baby on YouTube. Here is her insightful answer to my question, Do the benefits of sign language "wear off"?

This is a great question! Before I started my company, My Smart Hands, I was a grade 8 teacher. My principal had asked me to run the literacy program at our school. In trying to find ways to assist these children in their learning I came across a study that showed a significant improvement in students' spelling skills simply by the introduction of the ASL alphabet into their learning routines. The students would learn how to spell using the manual alphabet and in many cases their spelling scores improved by 100%. As a teacher I was amazed and would have been sold on the concept even if there were a 20% improvement. I began to use this method with a group of students at my school who were having difficulty spelling. Within two months of using this method their scores increased from a range of 9-11/20 on their spelling tests to 18-20/20. I was amazed! I wanted to understand why this was the case and share this information with other educators. I have done tons of research on this topic and to put it in very simple terms that makes total sense to me is this: we take in language on the left side of our brain as a sound and we take in sign language on the right side of our brain as an image, this gives us two places to recall one thing. Of course this makes total sense! We are taught to use the VAK method of teaching (visual, auditory and kinesthetic). Using sign language can encompass all those learning styles. I now lecture at universities and colleges to teachers and ECE workers on the benefits of signing with school aged children. I believe that you will find more and more teachers using it in their classrooms as another educational tool.

I think that many parents drop the signing as soon as their child starts to talk but I always encourage parents to continue signing with their children, especially using the manual alphabet with them. It is good brain exercise for them and a fun game to continue to play Whenever we go out to dinner at a restaurant and my daughter gets bored we start playing 'guess that sign' or 'spell that word' where we fingerspell short words with her. My daughter was reading and sounding out words when she was just over two. She is now almost three and is able to read books. I believe this is a result in her using sign language to learn the letters and words. I used signing with my 12 and 13 year old students and I used it with my baby, they have all benefited from it. Basically to sum it up, the learning your child has done will not be undone or lost. Giving them a great language foundation through sign and choosing to continue can only be positive and beneficial, how could learning not be!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Why Couples Need Couple-Friends

I'm always amazed at the things I learn about Bryan when we are hanging out with other people. He'll make a comment and I'll say, "Why didn't you tell me that?" And he'll say, "I did," or "I thought I did." And maybe he did, but not as clearly as he did to our friend. I know he finds out things about me, too. Tonight, I found out that the ankle he sprained months ago still bothers him. He found out that I sometimes feel like he's telling me that symptoms I have are "In my head." Granted, he's never said that, I just extrapolated. So, a simple conversation with someone else resolved issues for us. And we didn't even know they were issues!

Monday, September 1, 2008

New Baby and Toddler Sign Language Blog

Hey all you loyal Holly Tried It fans who also sign with your children. I just created a new blog specifically about baby signing, ASL, signing with toddlers, and signing for early literacy. Come check out Smart Baby Sign Language and tell your signing friends.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Spice art for toddler

While Bryan and I were fixing supper, Kalen was being irritable. She was tired, hungry, and bored. We were having a hard time getting supper made. Then I had an idea. She loves art projects.

I gave her a bottle of glue, some paper, and several bottles of old spices that I needed to get rid of. She squeezed glue in designs on the paper and sprinkled and shook chili powder, chives, basil, and sesame seeds all over it. Of course, if your child is still eating everything they touch, you'll want to carefully consider what you let them sprinkle. When she uses up the spices, I'm going to refill the glass bottles with colored salt or sand.

She was happy. I was happy. And we all got to eat sooner.

Oh, and I got inspired and made a smiley face picture. She wasn't impressed at all. She was hoping for a rainbow!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Linda Acredolo's response to Baby Signing Question

Linda Acredolo, co-creator of Baby Signs responded to my question about the effects of baby signing "wearing off."

Here is her answer:

Susan and I are always delighted to hear from parents who have discovered for themselves the joys of signing with their babies. Your interest in lasting benefits is one we shared, obviously, and is what fueled our follow-up study using the WISC-IQ scale. Given our findings of higher IQs at age 8 among the children who signed as babies, we were particularly pleased at a recent study done by two Stanford researchers who found that better verbal language skills at 25 months predicted linguistic and cognitive skills at age 8 (citation below). That is, essentially, independent validation of our results given that we found positive effects of signing at ages 2 and 3.

Of course, even if no long term benefits in language or intelligence accrue, the fact is that the positive effects of signing on the relationship between parent and child is bound to pay off down the line.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

When do the benefits of baby signing wear off?

I've been wondering how long baby signing will give my child an edge before everything evens out between her and her non-signing counterparts. Research has shown that signing babies have a larger vocabulary both spoken and understood at least until they are three. There is one study that concludes that children who signed as infants have higher IQs than their classmates at age 8.

Results of the study revealed that 24-month-old signing babies were on average talking more like 27- or 28-month-olds, representing more than a three-month advantage over the non-signers. The babies who signed were also putting together significantly longer sentences. In addition, 36-month-old signers on average were talking like 47-month-olds, putting them almost a full year ahead of their average age mates. At 8 years, those who had signed as babies scored an average of 12 points higher in IQ on the WISC-III than their non-signing peers. Acredolo and Goodwyn
But I've heard from other mothers (I haven't seen any research) that children even out by third grade. The early achievers are at the same point as those who achieved within the normal time frame.

So, I want to know, will sign language benefit my daughter in the long run? I loved the early communication it gave us when she was a baby. I love the expanded spoken vocabulary she has now and her ability to interact with others. I love how sign language is opening up her understanding and interest in the written word and finger spelling. But, if all that won't matter after 3rd grade, will it be worth it to continue it after we can understand all her spoken words?

Don't get me wrong. I don't plan on quitting (unless the research indicates otherwise), but I just wonder. Because that's what I'm good at: wondering.

I posed this question to Andrea Burton Ploehn at Signing 4 Baby (visit her blog to see how I phrased the question to her). Here's her answer:

Thanks for emailing me, I love talking about sign language. As far as any research that I’ve read about child development advances in connection with using sign language, I have only seen studies that are documented up to the age of 8, like you said. I’m not aware of any other studies that have tracked a group of children past that point.

If you want my personal opinion though, I think that there are so many other benefits connected with using sign language as a child that last a life time. Besides the academic benefits of early reading skills, spelling advancements, language development, and enhanced verbal abilities, etc… I feel that signing with children allows for them to develop abilities that aren’t typically documented by research. For instance, the ability for the child to connect in unique ways with others and build greater self esteem, increasing memory storage and problem solving abilities, learning to communicate and problem solve in multiple ways (visual, audio, and sensory), and learning a second recognized language, etc…

So to answer the question, when does it “wear off”, I honestly don’t think it does. No matter what, children that use sign language are being exposed to a unique and special way of communicating that I feel gives them the “upper hand” in child development.

I've also posed my question to Baby Signs (the originators of baby signing for hearing infants without deaf parents). I'm going to pose this question to several others. I'll post their answers as I get them.

What do you think?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Raising a Signing Baby: 27 months

We took Kalen to the zoo for the first time, today. She loved it! Kalen decided she wanted to take a giraffe home with her, not just any giraffe. This one specifically.

Two weeks ago, I was signing to Kalen, sans voice. She answered all my signed questions verbally. But she got upset and started yelling at me, "Talk, Mama! Talk!" It was a rough day and I overreacted. I was convinced she would never sign, again. Hey, we're all allowed a little drama once in a while! Two days later she was signing words she had never signed before. And today at the zoo she surprised me right away by signing PANDA for the first time. I didn't even show her how to do it, she just pulled it out of her memory. And, it wasn't even a panda bear. It was a red panda, which is more like a funny fox than a panda.

Tonight we were playing games with her Word World poster. I signed sans voice again, and she calmly identified every object I signed. And then, I started fingerspelling the animals on the poster. She easily identified 3-4 of the fingerspelled words. Crazy! I didn't know she could do that!

So at the end of the day, I feel a little silly about panicking the other week. But, I'm reminded again not to underestimate children. They are smarter than we imagine, they just need the right tools to express it.

How to Choose Children's Shoes

Kalen's feet have suddenly begun growing at an astonishing rate and I need to decide...more squeaky shoes (very flexible) or move on to something else. Now that Kalen's moving out of the toddler stage, I wanted to find out what kind of shoes she should be wearing. I knew that soft and flexible was best for infants and toddlers, but then what? The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) recommends using the "1, 2, 3 Test" (see page 2 of this .pdf for illustrations of the following points).
1. Look for a stiff heal. The sides shouldn't squish together when you pinch the heal.
2. Check for toe flexibility. The toe box should bend, but not too much. I'm confused about this one, because their picture shoes a shoe that bends in half as incorrect. However, a shoe they recommend, Pediped Flex, shows a picture of their shoe bent in half--and it's an example of something good! The APMA also recommends Smaller by See Kai Run and See Kai Run composite-sole or stitched-sole shoes, Robeez and a few others.
3. Select a shoe with a rigid middle. Your shoe shouldn't twist in the middle.

What type of shoes do you buy for your children? Do they fit the "1, 2, 3 test"? Do you think this is even worthy of concern in this crazy world we live in?