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?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Funny Cake Disasters at Cake Wreck Blog

Cake Wrecks has great photos of professional cakes gone wrong. I can't get enough of this site. Maybe it's because of those Wilton Cake Decorating classes I took years ago.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Wiggly Triceps? Don't Worry, Even Olympic Athletes Have Them.

Tonight I was watching Phelps' final race in the Olympics. His win was definitely exciting, but what made a bigger impact on me was the triceps I saw. Not his, but an Olympic athlete was waving and the skin under his arm was waving, too! I always thought that meant I was getting old, or I was out of shape. Apparently not. That's one hangup I'm checking off my list. Can you see me (and my triceps) waving?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

We Met Rachel Coleman at the Signing Time! Dreamcatcher's Concert

The Signing Time! concert was fun, exciting, and motivating. Kalen was fun to watch. She's been talking about seeing Rachel for several days now. When Rachel came on stage, Kalen smiled a big smile and was so excited. But when they started playing the Signing Time! videos on the big screen behind Rachel, Kalen got very confused. Her little eyebrows were crunched together. I could see her thinking. But, apparently she figured it out, because soon she was yelling, "Pick me! My turn!" to be one of the children chosen to sign on stage. So sad for Kalen and mommy, but another child was chosen every time. But, I guess that's fair, because none of those children were Signing Time! Stars.

The concert was motivating for me, because Rachel talked about how she originally thought, "Why me?" when she learned of her children's challenges (Leah was born deaf. Lucy has spina bifida and cerebral palsy.) But then she started thinking, "Why not me?" I know you've heard that all before. Hears the motivating thing. She now thinks, "Of course, me!" Her gifts and abilities have enabled her to be a great mother to her daughters AND bring hope and communication to thousands of families throughout the world. She challenged us to look our lives and see them through the eyes of "What does this allow me to give to others."

No wonder she and her sister have accomplished so much!

The Signing Time! concert was a Make-A-Wish request for a boy named Collin. Kalen and I stopped and thanked him personally after the event, but I wanted to thank him again for making my dream come true--I got to meet Rachel Coleman!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Kalen Loads the Dishwasher for the First Time

Kalen has started helping out around the house. You know--sweeping counters, spilling food while clearing the table, etc. This week she loaded the dishwasher for the first time. I'm proud of my big helper--I just wonder when her dad is going to step in and show her how to do it his way.

For those of you who are new, when my sister lived with us, there was an ongoing debate on how the dishwasher should be loaded. He kindly shared his philosophy on dishwasher loading on his blog Works for Me. Of course, my sister baited him from her blog b(LIST)fulness first. Fortunately, Kalen is too young to start her own blog. All she would be able to write is "B - O - X" over and over again (thanks Word World). She'd probably throw in "M - O - M" occasionally, too.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Am I a Mean Mommy?

Tonight, Kalen was pretending to drive a car and I pretended to be a baby in the backseat. I cried and told her I wanted to go to the store. (Just like she does.) She said, "No store. Go home." I continued to beg and she remained firm. (Just like I do?)

Then I cried and asked to watch Word World. (Again, just like her.) She said firmly, "No Word World!"

After awhile of this I began to wonder, "Am I a mean mommy?" It took awhile, but I came up with an answer I liked better. She just enjoys the power of being in charge. (Uh-oh. Like mommy?)

Babies 'R Us Coupons - Because we all could use the money somewhere else.

Babies 'R Us coupons for the weekend of 8/8 to 8/10. I'm going to get diapers, even though I'd rather buy a Dora bed. The online code for a $5 discount off $25 is 923557. And you can sign up at this link to have the discount emailed to you (instead of going to the store to pick up the little booklet and then taking it in on the wrong week and getting thoroughly frustrated because your kid is running around like crazy and she didn't want to leave the Dora toys and you did all of this and NO $5 discount!).

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Namaste Blondies - Delicious Allergy-Free Food

While my sister got to eat this gorgeous cake made of three different flavors of cake, I had to suffer. Suffer from a drooling mouth and tempted tastebuds. But I remained strong and stuck to my allergy-free diet. It helped to know that I had a whole pan of Namaste Blondies waiting for me at home. And they were good! Even my husband liked them. He said he couldn't tell they were dairy-free, wheat-free, corn-free, yeast-free, etc. That is high praise! The Namaste Foods mixes cost more than Bob's Red Mill, but I prefer the flavor so far. What is your favorite allergy-free mix?