Thursday, September 30, 2010

Baby sign language????

Okay, peeps I've heard a ton about baby sign language, and we never tried it with Dani. I just had it in my head that if we taught her to sign she would take longer to talk. I was contacted by the folks at about, well baby sign language. I told them that if they wrote an article for baby signing skeptics, I'd put it on my blog and let you be the judge! (**disclaimer--I have received absolutely no compensation for this post**)

So, compliments of my newest BFF Mindy, here's the article! And, if you try it, let me know!

Baby Signing Skeptic
So you are a baby signing skeptic? That’s OK – baby sign language has been around for a while but there are many myths about how it works, or even if it works, and whether or not it’s actually worth while attempting. Teaching baby sign language to your baby should be fun and rewarding but it will only work if you’re really into it. Read on to find out more about why you should definitely teach your baby to sign…

Myth #1 – Babies who sign don’t talk early

Untrue. Research has shown that children who sign as babies often speak earlier! It’s true – baby signing can act as a ‘stepping stone’ to verbal speech, supporting a young child’s efforts to express himself. Research has shown that babies who have early exposure to signing often have bigger speaking vocabularies when they start school. How does this work?

From an early age, babies try to communicate in many different ways – through their facial expressions, for example, or by smiling, babbling, crying, trying to move nearer to you. The most important way to communicate with a baby is to let them know you have received their message. Nod, or smile, or pick them up. The response must fit whatever your baby is trying to communicate. One of the great things about Baby Sign Language is that it gives both babies and parents another tool for communication. Many studies show that signing does not replace speech, but actually aids its development, by improving a baby’s confidence in its ability to communicate.

Confidence And Communication:Babies who are better able to communicate their needs will develop more confidence than babies who struggle to be understood and validated. This is because every time you respond to your baby in a way which validates his efforts at communication, his confidence in his abilities grows. As your baby’s confidence grows, so will his abilities. It is a positive spiral. But the converse is also true – if a baby does not learn that his efforts at communicating are successful, he may either withdraw, or develop more and more extreme ways of getting your attention!

Communication And Language:It’s important to remember that talking is only one part of communication – and for most pre-school children it’s only a small part. Children communicate with us and each other through touch, facial expressions, tone and volume of voice, by telling stories and through play. They also instinctively communicate by using hand gestures – such as signs. Talking is a natural progression for children and talking to your children, by reading stories and explaining every day activities, is a great way to encourage speech. If you add sign language into the mix, you are simply giving your child another tool for expressing themselves. There is no evidence that baby sign language slows down speech development – while the opposite may indeed be true.

Myth #2 – Learning baby signing is difficult.
True – but it is no more difficult than learning any new skill, and babies have to learn many! Babies learn by imitation. Through all forms of interaction – play, quiet time, watching and listening, signing or talking – your baby is learning from you and the world around them. Whether they are learning how to walk, how to sign, or just how to interact with others, repetition is one of the ways they learn important messages about how to behave. The key to baby signing is repetition, and the more you do it the easier and more natural it is. Learning the signs can often be harder for the parent than the child, and this is why many parents don’t bother. But when you understand the whole range of benefits which come from signing – for baby and for Mommy and Daddy – you might think it worth the effort.

The benefits of baby sign language:

1: Signing helps with bonding. Signing is a two-way activity, encouraging communication from parent to baby and back again. In fact, mothers who sign with their babies often feel closer to them, noticing and appreciating baby’s efforts at communication earlier than non-signing moms.

2: The signs are simple and straight forward to learn. You can start signing with your baby by learning just a handful of signs, such as Mommy, Daddy, Milk and Diaper. Find more useful starter signs here. Once you’ve mastered these, it’s easy to build up your repertoire.

3: It’s a great way to involve dads. Dads sometimes feel left out of bringing up a baby, especially if Mom is breastfeeding. Apart from changing diapers, there’s not a lot he can do! Signing is something baby and daddy can do together, creating a special bond.

4. Baby signing is fun. So many things these days are just plain hard work! Baby signing is supposed to fun – and that’s one of the reasons it works so well. If you’re not having fun you’re doing it wrong.

5. Signing reduces toddler tantrums. Yes, it really does. Baby signing has been proven to reduce frustration and to help children through those toddler-tantrum years. Many tantrums are caused by communication frustration, and when your child can easily express what he wants he is happier and calmer – and so are you!

6. It’s a great talking point. When you and baby are out for coffee, imagine how envious your friends will be when baby tells you she’s tired, or hungry, or too hot – just by making hand gestures? Amazing! While other moms struggle through the baby years, you and your baby will be communicating happily with each other. Be sure to share your knowledge with them.

7. Baby signing can help with post-partum depression. The bonding aspects of Signing cannot be underestimated. But post-partum depression can begin at any time, even during the second year. Many early-years programs teach baby sign language to moms and babies to help build communication and trust.

Still a skeptic? Why not give it a try for a month or two and see if it works for you. You never know, you may join the millions of Moms who love Baby Sign Language and have never looked back.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mommy has silly friends, a Tori guest post.

Hello again, it's me, Tori. Dani went to sleep already so I snuck onto the computer to say hi. Don't tell her--she's still not so good at sharing. She's getting better though. It's probably getting easier for her because I'm getting so cute, that it's hard to say no to me.
It was my mommy's birthday a few weeks ago. She's really old--37! I don't know much about birthdays but they seem like fun. You get to have cake! I don't really know what cake is, but mommy and Dani sure seemed excited about it when daddy baked it. And people give you presents and sing songs to you.

Today one of mommy's friends sent her a present. It came in a big box! She said it was from her friend Chang, who I guess is one of her and Daddy's bestest friends from college--there are a bunch of pictures around the house with him in them. I can't wait to meet him, because he seems like he must be funny--his present made mommy laugh.

He sent her a toilet seat that had a painting about baseball. You can see the little boy's booty on it.

Mommy says thanks Chang! She says she's going to make daddy answer any questions Dani has about the picture, though. I'm not really sure why. Anyway, I'm getting hungry now, so I'm going to cry for a bit until someone brings me a bottle. Life is good. Bye bye!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Oh yeah, that other kid.

I know that it must seem like I'm favoring Dani, since she's more often the focus of my posts. But, (sorry Tori) she's a little more exciting than Tori at this stage (ok, a LOT more exciting) and she's talking in sentences and stuff! And Tori, well she's super on-track for being almost 5 months old, but let's face it folks, 5 months is just less interesting than 21 months.

But we love her just the same! You may remember that back in the Dani-baby days, the 'mote was off limits. Here, daddy is teaching Tori about his favorite toy.
Tori is always focused on Dani, just hoping that Dani will pay her some mind. She's always staring at Dani, trying to make eye contact and laughing at everything Dani does. Dani likes to yell "Tori get me" which is code for me to scoop Tori up and help Tori chase Dani around the house, ultimately ending with Tori hopping on top of Dani and (mommy) saying "got you".

Tori's also finally figuring out baby food. She really doesn't get it down too well. So, we tried other soft stuff, and found that our 5 month old who can't (or won't?) master a spoon of stage 1 prunes, can power down a bowl of mashed potatoes! (below--prune fail)
So, Tori's fun too. And we love her lots, even if she's under-represented in my posts these days.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Arrrrrgh, a Dani guest post.

Arrrrgh. I see me enemies out th' porthole! T' scurvy bastards won't get me!
I will protect me baby sister and cut off mine enemies heads! Arrrrgh.

I lick the blood of mine enemies off me sword! Arrrg, Captain Dani Feathersword must protect her pumpkins and her family!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Thick as thieves, almost.

Today, I had a little foreshadowing into the closeness Dani and Tori will share when they are just a little bit older. Dani wanted to sit with Tori "under Daddy's covers" (which means the blanket nearest Big Man's couch spot". Dani proceeded to snuggle and give her repeated kisses on her head. Every few minutes, Tori, an inexperienced sitter, would flop over onto Dani, which would send her into hysterics! Shouts of "Tori get me" and Dani racing off the couch, with the expectation that I would scoop Tori up (I did) and chase Dani around the house saying "Tori's gonna get you", while she squeals and halfheartedly tries to run away.It's so neat to see them have this bond--they are so interested in each other but only on their terms. For Dani, it's when Mickey Mouse isn't on, and when she's sure she's getting enough attention from Big Man or me, that she will focus on Tori and just try to make her laugh and smile, or just be close to her. Tori's pretty young still, but if I hold her near Dani, she constantly moves her feet or hands near to Dani to touch her. Which, to Dani, is Tori hitting and kicking, but she doesn't seem to mind, because deep down she knows Tori's a baby.

Someone please remind me of this tenderness when, in the not so distant future, I am reporting that they are beating the stuffing out of each other? (and/or fighting over clothes, toys, boys, etc.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I can be silly!

Hmmm, what is this. I haven't seen it since I was a little baby.
I will twist them until they make the shape I want."Goggles," I will yell as I run around the house, happy with my discovery.
Rattles, they aren't just for babies, you know.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Busy bees!

We had a busy weekend--from a Friday night wedding at Beardslee Castle--outside ceremony and reception with mosquitos so thick you could grab them out of the air--even the wedding party was swatting. It was a cop wedding--so lots of shaved heads--which were covered in bites/welts after a short time. After the ceremony, we learned that the cocktail hour was outside too...........AH! I kept Big Man's blazer on the whole time, and the bartenders had bug spray, so we all sprayed down, because it was brutal. Today, I look like I have the chicken pox--it's that bad--red dots all over my legs, feet and ankles.

It was a very nice affair, nonetheless. As my faithful blog readers know (Dad), Big Man won't let me post his pic to the Facebook friends who don't realize that I don't type the notes in Facebook...this is why you don't see his face...because it is here on my blog.

We got home late Friday night, and got up early on Saturday so we could get ready for Big Man's family to come visit. Brothers and wives and kids and such came for the weekend to hang out, and to watch the Bears game!
Dani had a blast with her twin cousins, Jason and Justin. But, she loooooved her Uncle Ronnie. She's always been attached to him, even as a little bitty thing. After they left last night, and all day and night today, she kept saying, "Uncle Ronnie" and pointing to "Uncle Ronnie's chair" which was where he sat at the dining room table.

Dani just had a blast!

And she even got to play with the 'mote! And the Bears beat the Cowboys! It was a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tori's 4 month visit to the doctor.

Little McSmiley is actually 4 months and two weeks old, because the doc had to reschedule her appointment, but she had her 4 month visit today.

Of course, Big Man took her, because (a) he's home during the day and (b) I don't want to see my babies get poked by needles. Tori's hella-bigger than Dani was at 4 months. (You can see the Dani post here: )

She 26 inches long and weighs 15 pounds, 7 ounces. (Dani was 25 inches and 13 pounds 8 ounces).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Primary day!

Primary day folks--hope you got off your butts and voted! I'm dying here, waiting for results. I've really never been so passionate about a statewide race. I really hope Eric Dinallo pulls it off for Attorney General.

In other news, I had a great visit with an old friend tonight. An old colleague who I don't see nearly as often as I'd like--Heather braved the craziness of near-bedtime, and didn't panic when Dani greeted her at the door screaming "bye bye" and crying. She was also a pro at holding Tori--who, for the uninitiated, is like holding a medicine ball--after a few minutes, your arms are sooooo tired!

The kids are growing more interested in each other by the day. Tori's fascinated with Dani, but Dani plays it cool. If I leave the room, she climbs on the chair/couch/toy to be near Tori, but if I come back, she tries to bail. Like this:
But when she doesn't think I'm looking, she's all:
That is, when she's not immersed in her books.
They exhaust me but are so much fun!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Home opener!

And somehow, the Bears won. It wasn't pretty, but we'll take it. We just can't afford to lose to the crappy teams like the Lions, and we almost did. If the officials hadn't declared Johnson's TD an incomplete pass (even Big Man said he got robbed) the Bears would have lost. But, they didn't!

And, Dani and Tori looked uber-cute in their Bears outfits!
Dani must have said "Ch-Ca-go Bears Foo-ball helmet" 4,000 times. So adorable!

And when she's not cheering on the Bears, little Dani tends to make a little mischief. She likes to sneak into the bathroom. We can't keep the door shut because that's where the kitties do their business, so every once in a while I'll hear the toilet flush, or find something like this:

And Tori is as giggly as ever. So cute and happy.
I have a video to upload but blogger's being a b*tch, so you'll have to wait for it.

It was so nice to watch Football today. Just a wonderful, family Sunday. I didn't get to watch as much of the games as I would have liked, but there were babies to feed and books to read to Dani. It was fun though. I realized that, without Donovan McNabb, I really am wildly indifferent to the Eagles. The Football Ticket has an awesome new feature this year--you can program it to tell you when your fantasy football players do something point-worthy. That was pretty kept popping up a bottom bar that would give us an update on our teams. What did we ever do back before digital cable?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

It's starting to grow on me, a Dani guest post.

Hi everybody, Dani here. It's been awhile so mommy said I could post tonight. Things are changing so much around here. First, I'm getting SO BIG! I talk to mommy and daddy all day long, and not just baby words, I talk in sentences. And, I sing songs and count too. And I listen to music with daddy. He's fun!

When I get a boo boo, I tell mommy to kiss it and she does and then it feels better. I am still trying to make friends with the kitty cat. Tonight I caught him under the table and he scratched me on the head. I don't know why, but it wasn't very nice.

But, most important, I wanted to tell you more about Tori. She's WAY more fun than she used to be. I make her laugh all the time. All I have to do is shake a toy near her and she just laughs and screeches and stuff. She's a silly baby. I'm also learning to share. It's not very fun. Don't tell mommy and daddy, but I figured out a way to make them think I'm sharing, when I'm really not. I just share the stuff I don't want to play with. Like if I want to play with something really fun, I will bring Tori a boring rattle or stuffed animal first, so I look like an angel, and then I can play with whatever I want without having to share with her.

She is pretty cute, and she smiles and laughs all the time. She's starting to sit up, and we play pattycake. She's not very good at it yet, but she is still a baby after all.

The only thing that's not fun is when Tori is taking a nap. I have to try to be quiet, and it's hard. She always falls asleep somewhere where I want to play and it's not fair. Today, I wanted to bang on my drum, but mommy stopped me because Tori was sleeping.One other cool thing is that she gets to sit in my old high chair, and I get to sit in my big girl high chair. It's like the kind they have in restaurants. Not that mommy and daddy ever take me to restaurants anymore. They used to when I was littler. Now, we just stay home. I'm not sure why, but one time I heard mommy suggest it and daddy said no way. He said something about yelling and messes, but I wasn't really sure what he meant. He is kind of a messy eater sometimes, but I've never heard him yell.

Mommy drinks this really yummy stuff called bubbles. Whenever she opens a can, she uses a straw so I can have some too. She says I make a mess if I drink out of the can, so I have to use a straw. But, now that I'm so big, sometimes mommy lets me hold the can, and the straw!

I took a video of Tori today. She was on her tummy and she was trying to play with a rattle. It was kind of cute, for a baby.

So, as you can see, I'm a pretty awesome big sister. Mommy says I have to go now, bye bye!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Crayons are fun!

I am a daily visitor to They have four daily deals--a regular woot, which is typically something relating to technology (I bought a digital camera, printer, mp3, etc., from them)--a kids woot (where I have bought everything from nightlights to sleep sacks, etc.)--to shirt woot(where there is a daily graphic tee, and I've gotten some awesome ones, including tons of gifts) to the wine woot (I've ordered there too--usually good smaller vineyards with good ratings). And shipping is always flat-rate $5, whether you get a little or big thing. But I digress. The point of this is that I just got my most recent woot in the mail--a Crayola Ta-Doodler. It was a screaming deal--like $4.99 with $5 shipping. At this point with the obscene amount of toys in my house, I'm not looking to add to it, but. this. looked. so. fun.

It has a light up tummy and plays music and the light up tummy makes the crayon writings look really bright and cool. (Best part is that the tummy wipes clean after the crayons write on it!)

Dani loved it. She colored and sang and was happy. She was so into it that once I was comfortable enough to think she could handle the crayon-holders and not make a huge mess, I went into the kitchen and left her to her art. However, her paper art changed when unsupervised by mommy and became body art.
She drew herself a little green mustache. Which she didn't want wiped off.
And, in other news, Big Man snapped the cutest pic of McSmiley:

She has turned into the happiest, smily-est kid ever! (But when she is angry, she sounds like an angry alley cat in a fight---all screechy!