Monday, August 31, 2009

Signing

I swear Kailey reads this blog. Her tendency to do something right after I have remarked on her refusal to do that very thing is uncanny. I've written before about how Kailey likes to prove me wrong. And, after reading my last post, she decided that signing isn't such a bad thing and learned a whole host of signs this last week that she now uses consistently and accurately.

She now says:
1. please (such a nice word! She usually does this with both hands, so it looks a lot like "bath")
2. milk (this is the one that she refused for soooooo long.. but, now, it seems she realizes that signing milk is so much easier than having a tantrum)
3. water
4. cracker (really, she doesn't do this one right. She taps her forearm or the top of her hand, and it is supposed to be her elbow. But, we know what she means)
5. grapes (she is closer on this one -- but, she still doesn't do it quite right. She uses the same sign that she does for "cracker" -- but, hey! a 50/50 guess is better than a grunt and waving her hand in the direction of the kitchen!)
6. bath (I sort of wish she hadn't learned this word - since she has been asking for baths non-stop... not that she has been getting baths non-stop. Except on vacation - when we let her take 4 - 5 baths a day in the jacuzzi tub in our room. That was a bad precedent, clearly)
7. book
8. bird (sometimes. We screwed up with this word and taught her the wrong sign and then tried to correct it -- now she does both, sometimes signing it correctly, sometimes signing it the way we originally taught her. Oh well)
9. again/more (this is the one she started doing with frequency first - and I list it 9th. Shows how my memory works!) And, she really only does the sign for "again" but it also means "more")
10. help (mostly when she gets stuck on her new scooter and wants a lift off of it!)
11. up (although, she often does it with only one hand -- so it seems a little interchangable with "help")
12. hungry

Those are the words she has down (well, if you aren't too picky about how clearly she actually signs -- we know what she means!) -- she also sometimes does "berry", "thank you", "juice" and "peas" (her new favorite food -- she ate THREE bowls of peas in one sitting while we were at the beach, and two for lunch today. Crazy kid). That's a lot of words to learn in just one week (we had only been working on milk, water and more previously -- because she wasn't really very interested in the signing. But, once she took to it this week, we taught her a bunch of other words -- and now she's picking them up left and right) -- and a lot of proving me wrong!!

What else can I say she isn't doing just to get her to do it? ha ha -- just kidding. Obviously, I am kidding about her dogged determination to do things just to prove me wrong! I have no idea why she suddenly busted out with 12 signs this week, but it very cool to be communicating with her on this more advanced level (12 words - so advanced!) The last two nights, she has signed the bedtime routine for us. At about 7:30 (earlier tonight - she was tired) she signs "bath". Once we're done with that, we put her PJs on and she starts signing "milk" (which she gets after she brushes her teeth - I know, wrong order. Whatever.) Then, when she has milk in hand, she drops the bottle to sign "book". Pretty cute.

Here she is signing some of her new words (I couldn't remember half the words she knows when I took this video!):

Saturday, August 22, 2009

stubborn streak


Kailey has a bit of a stubborn streak (hmmm.... wherever did she get that from? Her father and I are so flexible and willing to jump through unnecessary hoops just because someone else asked us to). Ok, duh, genes. But, Kai inherited the stubborn genes in a double dose, I think. The only time Kai gets really upset, as in temper-tantrum, throw herself on the ground screaming and crying, is when we ask her to do something just to prove that she knows what we mean. I'm talking about signing. Baby signs! I totally see the value in them, and get why it would be nice if Kai would take to signing to tell us what she wants. However, Kai does not agree. She doesn't really see the point. She has developed a whole system of telling us what she wants. For example, if she wants to go outside, she runs to the front door (or the back door) and shakes the handle. If she wants to read a book, she grabs a book and crawls in your lap. If she wants to eat, she runs to the fridge. If she wants milk, she runs to the fridge and points up at the bottles on top of the fridge.

Once she has indicated what she wants, we usually respond. For example, if she is at the fridge, pointing at the bottles, "do you want milk?" we ask, and do the sign at the same time and Kai nods yes and turns and points at the bottles again (and sometimes comes and gives us a big hug -- I guess for figuring out what she wants). If you take it a step further (which we almost always do) and say, "Kai, say milk" while making the sign again, she gets pissed. She frantically points to the bottle again and we make the sign and say, "you can have it, say milk". At that point, usually Kailey will throw herself on the ground wailing.

Could it be she just doesn't know the sign? It could be. But, it's not. The last couple of days, I decided to quiz Kai on the few signs we do frequently first thing in the morning, when she doesn't really want any thing and she is in her best mood. This morning I said, "Kai, can you say water?" and she held her hand up to her mouth. "Can you say milk?" and she squeezed her hand. "Can you say more?" and she tapped her hands together. I asked her to say "water" again and she looked at me with that look - "didn't we already cover this mother?" I could hear her thinking. She grabbed a book and turned away from me, done with the quiz. She hates being quizzed. But, she knows the signs. I knew she did.

So, after our quiz - we went into the kitchen and I said, "Kai, do you want water, milk or juice?" signing each of the options. She ran to the fridge and pointed at the bottles and then came back and gave me a big hug. Sigh. I said, "Kai, which one?" signing and saying all three again. She looked at the signs, the dreaded signs, and threw herself on the ground. I got her some water and asked her if water was what she wanted, handing it to her. She looked at the water, and gave it back to me, and pointed at the bottles. I told her to sign milk and, practically glaring at me and so quick I would barely notice it if I wasn't really looking, she squeezed her hand one time and shot me another look. I'll take it, "that's right!! Good girl!" and I got her the milk. Stubborn child.

On some level, I understand her resistance. She knows that we know what she wants. In her mind, the communication loop is complete. She has indicated, by running to the fridge and pointing, and we have confirmed, by saying "do you want milk?" What more is there to say? (as an aside, even when we don't say, "do you want milk?" but just say, "what do you want?" she knows we know what she means -- she just points at the bottles again and looks at us like we're idiots, since we've been through this a million times before). I just never thought a one year old would be so stubborn about just saying the word when she clearly knows it! I guess there's no further proof needed - she's our kid.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Classic Kai

This video is classic Kailey:



She goes after what she wants, and is very no nonsense about it - when reaching for it doesn't work, she just makes her way round the table and - inevitably - when the child she is attempting to steal from starts screaming, she is completely unfazed and continues to try to obtain the object of her affection.

Kailey will walk into the middle of a group of 4 - 6 year olds who are twice her size, and emerge with whatever object she set her sights on. She often gets knocked around in the process - but, usually, that doesn't deter her (and she's been known to knock right back). I find it amusing, but I do keep explaining the concept of sharing and reminding her that she cannot just grab things from other kids. And, I don't let her take things from other kids (the other child in the video kept his bucket! I just find his terror at Kai's approach so funny).

This is a kid who knows what she wants and how to get it. We're in trouble. I know.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

16 Month Vignettes




Wow. Kai turned 16 months old this week. Time is going so fast these days. I think part of it is the routine of our days. Or, I should say, the juxtaposition of highly routinized days and the fact that Kailey is changing so quickly in the context of that routine. Every week brings a lot of familiarity -- working, Wednesdays with Kailey, watching Kai on the weekends while Eric remodels, commuting, that rush to make dinner and have fun in the 1.5 hours between the time we get home and the time Kai goes to bed, trips to the park or the toddler cafe, walks to the store, playing on the (new!) back deck. Combine all of that with the constant deadlines (and looming deadlines), appointments, errands, house cleaning, and other tasks -- and each week has barely begun when it ends. But, despite the familiarity and the rush of each day, there is a lot of variation to our days because Kailey is constantly changing and regaling us with new tricks and delights. The speed at which she is growing up combined with the speed of every day life... I think it just has put time on turbo charge. Maybe that's not it, but it's my theory as to why time has REALLY sped up this year. Either that or I'm just getting old. But, in any event, the summer is almost over and Kailey is 16 months!! I think the best way to capture Kai at 16 months is a few stories:

Kailey loves the outdoors and is quite happy that Eric built her a deck off the back of the house that nearly doubles our living space and gives her a huge area to explore and run around. The first few days we had the deck, she kept going to the back door and saying something that sounded a lot like "OUTSIDE". She even learned to open the back door to let herself out. But, after a few trips out barefoot, she got a bit distressed. It turns out that oak leaves are sharp and ouchie to walk on. So, the other day, Eric and I were out back and Kai was standing in the doorway looking at us, but refusing to come outside. At first, we didn't know what was going on, but then she reached her arms up to me. I said, "Kai, come on out" and she looked at her feet. So I said, "Kai, do you need shoes?" She nodded and ran to fetch them, plopping herself down when she was back in view and holding out her feet to me. As soon as her shoes were on, she ran onto the deck.

Once outside, she busies herself collecting the oak tree seeds. We don't like her eating them, and she knows this -- so she picks them up and then waits for us to look at her and pops them in her mouth (the little fink!). But, she knows what "spit it out" means, and spits them back at us once she has us worked into a sufficient frenzy.

She also has gotten quite good at imitating us. She sweeps the back deck and, when Eric was still building it, would pick up the tools after he put them down and mimic him, filing the edge of the boards and squatting down to examine her work. It was too funny!

It's so fun to be communicating with her these days. In the morning we'll say, "Kai, do you want to go to Penny's house?" and, in response, she'll make a beeline for the door and start pounding on it (as in, YES! NOW! Let's GOOOO people!) Yesterday, we were in the bedroom when I asked her that question and she started running out of the room, headed for the front door. Eric yelled after her, "bye Kailey" and, without stopping or turning around, she waved over her shoulder, yelling "BYE! BYE!"

She has favorite books, and beyond favorite books - favorite pages within the books. She really likes, "My Friends" and, particularly, the page with the ant and the page with the birds. Every time we get to the ant, she stops frantically turning the pages (she likes to get through her books quickly) and points at the teeny tiny ant on the page (and then resumes frantically turning the pages). And then, we reach the birds, she stops and coos and then looks at me so that I can "sing" like a bird (you know, "tweet! tweet!").

She also loves the temporary tattoo Eric put on her arm yesterday. It depicts a little dog. It was hard to convince her to sit still to put it on (she thought we were trying to torture her and threw a bit of a fit) but, once she saw the result, she was quite pleased. She kept admiring it and then would turn to something else, but after a moment would turn to us and hold up her arm, point at the little tattoo and yell "DOG!" And when we asked, "Kai, where's your dog?" she pointed to her arm. Doug told me the next morning, when we dropped her off, she rolled up her sleeve and was showing off her tattoo to him and Penny. It's still on today -- she'll be so disappointed when it wears off.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Report from the High Risk Clinic Part II

The only high risk category Kai seems to be in these days is the one of imminent danger of needing a trip to the ER from scaling a dangerous object (e.g. the bookshelf) or attempting to do something exactly as she sees us do it, forgetting to account for the fact that she's ONE (e.g. taking the stairs one step/one foot at a time -- not realizing that her legs are only long enough to do this for the first step or two and then she is reeeaccchhinnngggg for the next step, while holding onto the railing, and putting herself into a most precarious position that, ultimately, results in a backwards tumble. Of course, we're always there to catch her... but, if we weren't -- ER. That's all.) Anyway, my point is, developmentally-speaking, we don't think or worry about the "high risk" category that Kai was put into at birth. I think I mentioned the first time I wrote about her high risk clinical exam that Kailey was on the borderline for being admitted into the clinic. Babies who are born before 32 weeks and who are less than 3 pounds qualify. There is some dispute as to when Kai was born. By my calendar, she turned 32 weeks that Thursday that she entered the world. But, according to Kaiser, she was 31 weeks and 6 days on that day. And, she was born 3 pounds and one ounce. So, in my estimation, she didn't qualify for the clinic on either factor. By theirs, she qualified for her birth week and the fact that she dipped below 3 pounds shortly after her birth qualified her in the weight category. So, she qualified. I am never one to pass up on extra services and assessments, so I didn't argue.

And, actually, the clinical appointments are fun. They have Kai run through a series of development tests and it is fun to watch her figure out what she is supposed to be doing. Today, she was very engaged in the various activities for about 30 minutes, and then she wanted to walk around and explore the rest of the clinic. The therapist thought that she had a very good attention span for a one year old, which we were pleased to hear (since everyone is always commenting on how busy Kailey is, and we (being the nuerotics we are) worry they mean she is too busy -- but, for the assessment, she did manage to sit on my lap and do the various activities for quite some time). She figured out how to get the little bunny out from under the clear box (that was only open on one side) even when the therapist kept repositioning which side she placed the opening on, and how to put pegs into the holes, and track which of two washcloths the therapist used to cover a little duck and retrieve the duck once the therapist stopped moving the cloths around. She colored, flipped through a book, threw the balls, retrieved objects from a cup and put objects back in a cup. The only thing she didn't do is identify various body parts on the baby doll that the therapist pulled out of her bag -- but, I think that's mostly because Kailey has never seen a baby doll and was too distracted by the strange toy to pay any attention to what she was being asked. She kept shaking the doll like a rattle. Shaken baby syndrome. I crack myself up.

The other reason we like the clinic is because it both is that it's one more reminder of how far we've come in the last 15 months -- and moves us that much further away from the NICU days. She is no longer a preemie, at least not to us. She's just a normal, active, happy 15 month old who is doing 15 month old things.

Monday, August 3, 2009

hugging and reading and hugging while reading

Kailey has a sudden love of books. Obsession, really. She picks books off her bookshelf and then begins nearly hyperventilating as she walks over to us, hand outstretched... like she's been wandering around a desert for a week without water. Must. read. now! Then, when she reaches us, she tosses the book to us and proceeds to crawl into our lap, settling herself in for a story. It's adorable - particularly because, until now, it was hard to get Kailey to stop moving long enough to change her diaper, much less cuddle with her for a moment. But, it doesn't last long. As soon as we open the book to being story time, she starts madly flipping from page to page, "read FASTER". Or, really, it seems she is just looking for a particular page -- the one with the ball, or cat, or dog, or duck, or flap, or button... you get the idea. She seems to have her books memorized (I know I do! "in the great green room there was a telephone and a red balloon and a picture of the cow jumping over the moon and there were three little bears sitting on chairs..." Seriously, I've had Kai's books playing over and over in my head. "hey big guys. Open your eyes. What do you say? It's a brand new day." Makes a person go batty, I tell you). Where was I? Oh, yes, the "reading" aka mad flipping through the books. The cat book is all about the page with the squeaky ball, and the mouse at the end of the book. She likes to tear through the book, reading it as quickly as possible. But, then, when we get to the end, she protests and flips it over so that you can start again. Ummm... why don't we just read it at a normal pace instead of speed reading the same thing 10 times in a row?

But, still, she seems to be developing a thing for books, which is very cute. And, it is fun to read to her. I am obsessed with getting new books, though, to stop the loop in my head of her current favorite selections. I need to hide Goodnight Moon. That book is like a bad 80s tune that just won't stop.

Kai's favorite books are ones with animals, of course -- maybe because she can combine reading with her other new favorite activity... hugging. Kailey loves to hug things. Animals and other children are on the top of her list of huggable things, and that includes animals in books. Every time we get to a picture of a cat, dog, duck, bunny in one of her books, she leans in to hug it. It's really cute and very funny. And, the animals in the books don't mind. This is as opposed to the actual animals that we share our living space with. Kailey likes to chase them around, trying to corner them for a hug. They don't like hugs. I mean, her hugs are not ouchy... she just leans her head in until it touches whatever object she is trying to hug. But, the animals find it a little freaky and try to avoid her at all costs. The children on the playground also seem to think it a bit forward. A little girl came up to Kai at the park yesterday and said, "hi". Next thing she knew, Kailey was leaning into her, arms outstretched. She didn't exactly hug back, but she didn't run away either. So, success!

Anyway, as soon as I get a new camera (Wednesday!) I will post pictures of all the hugging.