Friday, April 27, 2012

Baby Sign Language

Fun fact. I wrote this post, almost in its entirety, during breakfast the other day. While I was refilling my coffee in the kitchen, my toddler got out of her chair, walked over to the laptop, and held down backspace while I was gone. Deleted the whole thing. So, here we go again.

I had a request to do a post about baby sign, and I think that is a great idea, because A. it's a great subject and B. I like to talk about it.
I feel like doing baby sign with Isabella was one of the best things we've ever done for her. She would probably argue that giving her ice cream is the best thing we've ever done, but we're all entitled to our opinion.

First, the good news. You do *not* have to know sign language to do baby sign language. Does your mind = blown? Now for the bad news. Oh wait. There is no bad news. Baby sign is easy, fun, and beneficial.
 I learned everything I know about baby sign from a little book that you can pick up for about $8 called Baby Sign Language Basics by Monta Z. Briant.
I super duper highly recommend this book, but honestly you don't really need anything to do baby sign, except hands and a baby. (preferably your own baby. Its weird and inconvenient to try to sign with a stranger's baby)

Ok. I'm going to break this topic into two posts, because a lot can be said about baby sign. There's the what, why, how, etc. For part 1 (HINT: that's the post you're currently reading) I'm going to cover what baby sign is, and why one might want to do it.

What is baby sign language? Well, I'll tell you what it isn't. It isn't teaching your baby a second language in the form of American Sign Language (ASL). That would probably require you actually knowing ASL. Baby sign is simply learning only signs that you and your baby might want to use to communicate with each other while your baby is pre-verbal. Your child will, in all likelihood, forget these signs once she becomes verbal. Ours did, and that's normal to drop the signs once they learn the spoken word for it. If you want your child to continue to learn ASL, you should probably look into learning ASL yourself and be sure to stick with it even after baby becomes verbal.

Why would you want to do baby sign? I'm so glad you asked.
I'll start with the obvious. Babies want stuff. Babies can't talk. This presents a problem for the baby. Of course, most parents are very good at knowing what their baby needs, but I can tell you from experience that it is really fun when baby can instantly communicate whether they want milk or a diaper change (or to be taken to potty), sleep or a ball, or a book, or whatever. It just cuts out some of the guesswork on your part, and frustration on baby's part. So to me, that is the most basic, simple reason one might want to do it.

Unfortunately, I no longer own the book I recommended. I lent it to someone and, well, you know how that goes. I would love to have it in front of me to quote the research on the developmental/intellectual benefits of baby sign for babies, but I can't. So I'm going to be vague about it. The gist of it was that the benefits of baby sign may be similar to that of any bilingual child, even though the baby doesn't actually learn ASL completely. Perhaps it sharpens their thinking skills and linguistic skills, basically. There also may be emotional benefits for a baby who feels a sense of accomplishment at successfully communicating to an adult, being listened to, understood, etc. blah blah, it's probably good for baby, but obviously not a necessity in raising a happy, intelligent child.

So that brings me to the BEST reason to do baby sign. It is really, really fun! There is so much more to it than what your baby needs. Because honestly..babies don't need much besides love, milk, cuddles, and clean bums. It's easy to think that babies don't think about much besides "I'm hungry" or "I crapped my pants" but of course that just isn't true. They simply are physically incapable of verbalizing their thoughts. Sure, they may not be contemplating the mysteries of life, but they still have something to say. They are people, after all
It is so rewarding as a parent when one day your baby is hanging out, being a cute, drooling baby, presumably not thinking about much besides how to get to the dog food bowl, then not long after they are signing things like "hear airplane outside" or "where daddy?" or "more eat" or "hat, glasses" when someone walks by. Or "moon" every single time you pass a streetlight at night. Or "grandad" every time a bald man walks by. You will be blown away at how incredibly observant very young, pre verbal babies are. They LOVE to show off what they know, too, and are always ready to sit in your lap with a book so that they can sign puppy, tree, hat, bird, etc when you come across one.

We had so much fun signing with Isabella, and we believe that it was really helpful in developing her awesome vocabulary. Now we sign with new little one, and it is just as rewarding!

I'm finally done with part 1, and I'll add a link to part 2 on HOW to sign with your baby once I get it written ;) Happy Friday everyone!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The post where I blog about blogging.

Hey mom.
So, I was kind of thinking I probably wouldn't blog anytime soon. Nothing "of note" is happening, I guess. Although I am considering , for the sake of memory keeping, making a post with some recent fun memories/funny kid quotes from before I started the blog, even though I've already told those stories to everyone.
Then I thought about if for two seconds and realized there is a lot of stuff going on.

Well, the point is, I'm sitting on some ideas for future posts. I get a lot of questions about what brands of cloth diapers I use (well, actually, I graduated to big girl panties a few years ago, but Sophie wears them sometimes) and about babywearing, infant pottying, and just some other mommy stuff.

I've also considered that maybe people are curious about life in Germany, or Army life in general (General <--Army pun!)

I have some craft projects in the works, a huge birthday party/cake I'm planning, a MOVE, and some super cool upcoming trips that I may bore you with. But hey, you should come take a look when I post pictures from Paris and Rome, at least. You can skip the needle-felting-little-animals posts, but at least come for the travel blogs, ok?

What I'm getting at is that this is the customary "new blog disclaimer" where I assure you that keeping a blog doesn't mean I have a huge ego, or think that what I have to say is intelligent or important, (but also that if YOU have a blog I certainly don't think that you have a big ego) and that I realize I probably have very few readers, yet making sure not sounding so humble that it sounds like I'm fishing for people to say they love my blog and of course they read it. WHEW! Did you get all that? The point is, whether you are there or not I'm going to continue blogging as if you are, because maybe someday, if I stick with this, my sweet precious babies will come read this blog and laugh together at what a dork mommy is, then I'll tell them to hush and go clean their rooms, and it will be good times.

But if you are there, lemme know what you'd like to hear about. German beer? French cafes? How to properly wash a cloth diaper? Or perhaps I should stick to what I came here for, to tell funny stories about my kiddos. And with that, I'll leave you with this.

The kids are being their usual cute, funny selves. Sophie continues to try to eat the dog, and her toothlessness continues to be a major obstacle. Bell is witty as always, though I can't think of any laugh-out-loud bloggable moments in the past few days except that when husband came home very sore, moaning and groaning from playing sports with  his co-workers (I'll skip the Army jargon for now) Bella asked me, very concerned "mommy, what's wrong with daddy??" I told her nothing, he's just getting old and decrepit. She rushed to his side and said "aw, daddy! Are you crepit?" and patted his arm. hehe. Poor crepit daddy.

Friday, April 20, 2012

It's raining, it's pouring...

I really thought that the moment I decided to make a blog dedicated to my kids' crazy antics...we would immediately begin a sort of boring dry spell. Ha! No. Here is what was transpiring as I was clicking "publish" on my very first blog post.

It is a very, very rainy week here in lovely Germany and the girls are a little stir-crazy. Three year old Isabella and 8 month old Sophia were playing in the next room with their musical instruments (thanks for shipping those to us, Mom. ;) We've really enjoyed the incessant noise) when suddenly the sound of maracas and tambourines was replaced by an odd Sophia laughing harder than I have ever heard her laugh. I rushed to see what baby girl thought was so hilarious and I see Bell taking gulps of water...and spewing it full blast onto her little sister's face. *facepalm* I suppose the proper response would have been to send Bell straight to time out for "being mean" to her sister..but Sophie was so happy. So I guess I might have sent her for making a mess, and yes, she *does* know better! Unfortunately my good parenting was foiled by my own laughter at Sophie's gummy smile while water ran down her shiny bald head..

So much for staying warm and dry inside today!

All the Cool Kids Are Doing It

First Post!
Welcome to my blog, where I will share my thoughts on the many subjects in which I have no real expertise. I've decided that personal blogs are officially common enough that I can have one without any specific reason, but the general purpose of this blog is to document some fun memories while my kids are little (and hilarious.) That being said, I reserve the right to ramble about any and all subjects, including but not limited to my adventures in: Parenting, Army Wife-ing, gardening, cooking, cloth diapering, babywearing, crafts, homemaking, my journey to Catholicism, and my journey to becoming a midwife. If nobody but my mom checks in once in a while to read, I will consider the blog a wild success. So, pressure. ;)