Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Perfect Fit

**disclaimer: I talk about my underwear in this post. If you don't want to know about my under garments, then stop reading.**

Today I suddenly realized that tomorrow is the first day of April. It's April already. Next month is May, and technically that is when little Evelyn is due to make her mark on the world. This kind of freaked me out a little. Next month. That seems really close. I am not sure where time went with this pregnancy. It's hard for me to grasp how far along we really are.

Because I had this realization, that I will have a daughter *next month* I decided to get a few things ready. I feel very prepared for her arrival as far as what we need. I have plenty of nursing bras, for example. So I went to get said bras from my storage bin. I could wash them today with the rest of my laundry, an then it would feel like I accomplished something toward getting ready. However, it seemed like I cringed with every item that I took out of the box. This one had pokey wires in the side. This one offered no support. This one was too small. This one has been attacked by velcro (a bib) in the wash. Etcetera, etcetera. And my "sleep" bras... well let's just say that they aren't as "nice" as I remembered them being. These garments definitely needed to be replaced. Plus, I had such a rocky ending to my breastfeeding relationship with Jonah, I thought it would help to have new "equipment" to start fresh and get over my fear of a repeat experience.

It also just so happened that today, Jonah had a morning appointment with the orthopaedic surgeon at the hospital. On our way to the doctor's office, we pass a little shop located within the hospital, called the Mom and Me Shop. I had rented my first pump from them, and they also sell breastfeeding products that are difficult to find without going online. They carry a large selection of nursing bras, including Bravado, a brand I've been wanting to try just to see if it's all that people say it is.

One thing about buying a nursing bra, is that it is pretty important to get measured and fitted for your bra size late in your pregnancy. This was a mistake I had made with Jonah, which is one of the reasons that I have an entire shoebox full of nursing bras that don't fit when I'm nursing. As any pregnant or nursing mom can tell you, your boobs will grow! (and grow, and grow) It's also just all around important for a nursing mom to have a bra that fits properly. If you are wearing a bra that is too snug, then you might cause a clogged duct, or restrict production, or just feel plain uncomfortable while nursing. While it might seem obvious to know when a bra does and doesn't fit, the majority of the women in the US don't know their correct bra size.

So after Jonah's appointment, we stopped at the shop and I asked if they could recommend a good place to get measured. They offered to measure me there, and they even had a dressing room to try on some bras. As an example of my above statement about women not knowing what bra size they are, I went into that shop wearing a 34 C. After being measured, I now have the knowledge that I am a 38 D. Wowsers.

I tried on a few styles that Bravado has to offer, and I was very pleased. They were much more comfortable and supportive than the bras I had in storage. I'm assuming that this is both because they were the correct size, but also because they were a higher quality brand. I bought two, which I will be reviewing shortly. I would have bought more, but they are a little pricey, as undergarments can be. I'm definitely intending on buying a couple more before the princess arrives!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Well Worded Conversations

Today, I had an amazing experience with Jonah. I had let Jonah play on his own for a little while, and when I went to see what he was up to I noticed he had soiled his diaper. I didn't really acknowledge this (and I know I should have), I just picked him up to take him to the changing table.

The whole way to the changing table, Jonah kept repeating "boo boo... boo boo..." Booboos are what we have come to call my breasts. My three year old nephew, who is very inquisitive and who has had a lot of exposure to breastfeeding, came up with this name for this particular body part. Although Jonah stopped breastfeeding nearly ten months ago (has it really been that long already?) he has taken an interest in my "booboos" lately. I think it goes hand in hand with that whole learning body parts thing.

"booboos?" I said back "Yes, Mommy has booboos. They're to feed babies with!" He kept repeating "boo... boo!"

It wasn't until I laid him on the changing table and saw that ever so familiar baby sign, that I realized what he was really saying. "Poopoos!!! Yes, you went poopoos!!" Jonah laughed, seeming pleased that I finally understood what he was telling me. I took the diaper off, and Jonah said "boo... boo.... ingy! ingy... boo boo"Jonah put his finger up and curled it around his nose, as the sign that I've shown him for stinky. "Yes, this poopoos is very stinky!" I agreed. He reiterated "ingy" nodding his head. Then he put his hand over his mouth and pretended to cough. I have to admit, it really was *that* stinky!

I'm sharing this with you not only because this story is pretty comical. But also because I had a *conversation* with my son. A *verbal* conversation. Yes, it was about stinky poop. But it was a conversation that he initiated, he kept going, and he used expressive language. As is the pattern with all of Jonah's language so far, he probably won't do it again for quite a while. He has this habit of making great progress, and then not showing us that progress again for months. But, he did it. I don't care if the conversation was about stinky poop, or if it was about nuclear fusion, or even if it was about health care reform... I had a conversation with my son, and I adored every word of it!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Life with Leg Castings

Two words can very swifty sum up our experience thus far with leg castings:
"This sucks."

Yes, I said it. And I'm not putting a quarter in the swear jar for it either. I am really surprised at myself for being so stressed out over these casts. When we went to the orthopaedic surgeon, I was fully prepared to have his legs casted. And I thought I could handle it. I thought that with all of the things that are happening right now, and with all of the possibilities of what we could face, leg castings are really a simple solution to something that is quite a big problem for Jonah. I wasn't upset, I was just doing what I knew he needed.

Then they put the casts on. Having the casts put on was a little more emotional than I realized it would be. Jonah sat, reading his "Very Hungry Caterpillar" book, while it took three people to manipulate his feet into the correct position and get the casting into place. I watched him sit placidly, wondering how would he walk with these on? Will they be uncomfortable for him at night? Will people ask questions about them, or stare, or make assumptions when they see a baby with both legs in a cast? What in the world will this child wear on his lower half?

It had not occured to me before that his pants would no longer fit. I had to take him out of the hospital pantsless, covered by his special blankie. He didn't seem to mind, or notice what he was donning on his feet. When we got home, he played for about an hour and then everyone began trickling in from their daily events. I hadn't shared with anyone my expectations that Jonah would be getting braces or casts on this day, so our family was quite surprised.

When his grandmother picked him up, I noticed that his toes on his right foot were no longer to the edge of the casting. They were deeper into the cast. We thought maybe he had enough room to curl his toes back. He played for a little longer, and suddenly I saw him reach down to his feet and pull the right cast completely off of his foot, as if it were simply a shoe or a sock! I've never, in my life, heard of a child getting out of a cast. How does that happen?

The next morning I called the nurse at the office, and she had us come back. This was our fourth trip to the hospital within the last four days. As soon as I took Jonah out of the car, he looked around and realized where we were at. He began protesting immediately. It was so hard to drag my screaming toddler through the hospital and up to the doctors' offices.

Instead of recasting the whole foot, because Dr. M was in surgery, the nurse decided that the best option would be to saw the cast in half, and use an ace bandage to keep it secure. The original plan for these castings was to have full casts on his feet for one week, then we would go in and have them sawed in half so that I could put them on and take them off of his feet. So, this seemed to be okay, since it was somewhat the original plan anyway. The nurse showed me how to wrap the casting, and off we went to run the rest of our errands. Jonah seemed to be in a better mood now, and I needed to stop at the grocery store.

The whole time we were in the store, my sweet Jonah screamed. Nothing would calm him down. I even tried one of those carts that looks like a car. We will never be getting one of those carts again. They are huge, and hard to turn, and I just didn't need that with Jonah screaming his head off. People turned to give me "the look." I felt so guilty; I've never gotten "the look" from other parents before. That look that says "why are you out when your child is so miserable" or "please control your kid." I just started grabbing whatever I could think of, and we got out of there ASAP.

Jonah continued to scream throughout the day. He has screamed all night, and then all day the next day. In fact, there has been no end to it. constant screaming, 24/7. The plan to keep the casting on his right leg with an ace bandage has failed. It comes off within seconds of me putting it on. I called the nurse again, and she said to try to leave it on him when he's sleeping and they will recast it at our appointment this coming Monday. I could certainly leave it on when he's sleeping, except he won't sleep. No naps, no night time sleep. None.

We discovered part of the problem is that he's also getting three new teeth right in the middle of all this craziness. I feel so guilty, making him as uncomfortable as possible right when he is already miserable from his teeth. We've been giving him Tylenol, but it only mildly helps. He also has stopped putting any weight on the left foot, which is still fully casted. When he pulls himself up, he stands on one foot, and he is now refusing to walk even one or two steps.

Daryl and I are exhausted, and counting down the minutes to this Monday, when both casts become part-time casts and we won't have to keep them on his feet the whole day.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Orthopaedic Surgeon

On Monday, we went to the specialist whom I personally think is the most important at the moment. Not that Jonah's speech etc aren't important, but all of those specialists could only tell me what I already knew, and confirm what the pediatrician has already told us. But on Monday, I had no clue what to expect the Orthopaedic Surgeon to tell me. All that I knew was that my son doesn't walk, and his feet and ankles look very odd compared to other children's feet and ankles.

I suppose that I had a slight clue. The pediatrician had given me two terms that she felt Jonah might be diagnosed with: metarsus adductus, and tight heel cords. We discussed what the treatment for these might be, and she said that it varies from case to case. Most often, the child outgrows either condition by 12 months. For slight cases, special orthopaedic shoes could be worn. More severe cases require braces that can be adjusted as time goes on, to force the feet into the correct position. Another option would be castings.

This is all of the information that I had going into the orthopaedic surgeon's office. I did not know what to expect of the exam, other than they would look at Jonah's feet and probably watch him walk and crawl. I was anxious and kind of excited about this exam. Not happy excited, but I knew relief would be coming soon. I know how to help Jonah with his speech issues and cognitive delays. I desperately needed help getting him to walk properly. I was happy to finally be getting him the help he needs in this area.

As far as visits to doctors' offices go, so far Dr. M's office takes the gold star. It was a very comfortable office for children, with toys and interesting things hung on the walls right at Jonah's access level. In other doctors' offices, it's been a battle to get Jonah's attention away from the medical equipment, but the staff at this office seemed to have the insight to place more fun distractions at appropriate levels. I severely appreciated this. The staff is also the most friendly of all the offices, and one nurse is assigned to each doctor. So we will always see Nurse H or talk to Nurse H on the phone when we call with questions. That is very warm to me, to have the same smiling face helping us with each visit.

After waiting for a little while in the exam room, the resident who works with Dr. M came in and did his own evaluation. I was told this was for practice, and he would be comparing his notes with Dr. M's to see if he did everything properly and made the right judgements. He also explained to me what to expect. I was actually very grateful for the resident. He did the exam in slow motion, and explained most of what he was doing. When Dr. M came in, it was like a hurricane. He was extremely focused, and extremely fast. He contorted Jonah into all sorts of weird positions, looking at his joints and the way that the muscles were bending. He called out numbers and degrees to the nurse who was writing faster than I'd ever seen anyone write.

Then I was asked some questions about Jonah and his history, and his developmental problems. He asked me to take Jonah's shirt and diaper off, and watched Jonah walk naked. Jonah would only take a few steps, but it was enough. Dr. M remarked that Jonah must have just started walking recently. I corrected him, saying that he has actually been walking since November. I explained to him how we kept waiting for his balance to improve and his toe walking to stop, and it never did. He is still at the same level of walking now as he was then. This really seemed to concern him, as I feel it should have. He started talking to the resident about possible underlying causes of everything. He visually noticed very low muscle tone in Jonah's lower body, and also noticed when he put Jonah down that he did not try to put much weight on his legs. He told me that this concerned him with the knowledge that Jonah had been trying to walk for so long.

Dr. M decided that the best thing to do for now would be to treat Jonah for slight metatarsus adductus in the right foot, severe in the left (both hind and forefoot, if anyone is taking notes) and extreme congenital tight heel cords. I was somewhat relieved to hear the familiar terms that I had already discussed with the pediatrician. I had come prepared, almost expecting, to take Jonah home in either braces or castings, so it was actually a relief to hear that the outcome was something that I was prepared for (as opposed to something that would require surgery, which I was not prepared for) After these problems are treated, Jonah may still need to use an orthopaedic device, or wear braces, to help with the muscle tone. Our hope is that once these problems are fixed, the muscle tone will help to fix itself.

Metatarsus adductus is the opposite of what is commonly known as club foot. Everyone has been asking me if Jonah has club foot. The answer is no, he has the extreme opposite! With club foot, the feet are turned outward. Jonah's feet, particularly his left, are turned inward. This is thought to happen because of the way the feet are positioned in the womb when those bones begin to develop. Tight heel cords means that the muscles in the heels have not developed properly with the feet. The doctor explained to me that sometimes at night a child's bones will develop very quickly, and the muscles don't have time to catch up. This makes it impossible for the muscles to stretch with the bones in the joint, because they aren't long enough. Thus, Jonah's feet are always pointed, and he cannot lay them flat on the floor to walk.

We discussed the options of both braces and castings. I thought that braces would be easier to handle, but the doctor was really recommending the castings. He told me that with a case as severe as Jonah's, braces would take much longer to work. He also told me that with Jonah's age, braces are a bit more of a hassle. So my little boy had casts put on both feet and lower legs. It really broke my heart. Jonah was a trooper though. He was as good as gold while they manipulated his feet into the position they needed, and put the casts on. He eventually even fell asleep. The nurse turned out the light in the casting room and told me to let him get a little sleep before heading out. He laid there so peacefully and precious. I suddenly felt really guilty for what had just happened. I wish that there were some way that I could explain it to him, and make him understand. These casts will be a huge adjustment, and I wondered if he could handle it. But for the moment, I just let him sleep.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Belly Love

Jonah has begun to take notice of my belly. This could be for a lot of reasons. It is getting big and round enough that he may be noticing the change. We've also been teaching him body parts, and he has discovered, as most one year olds eventually do, that everyone has a belly button. He likes to look at people's belly buttons, and poke them, again as most one year olds do. So I think that plays a roll as well. To top it off, we've been trying to get him ready for the coming of little Evelyn. We have been telling him about Baby Evie who is in mommy's belly. And my pants have been feeling uncomfy, so I have also been laying on the couch with my belly hanging out a little.

All of these things have to make the big round floating belly enticing to him. Sometimes at the end of the day, we will be relaxing on the couch and getting some cuddles in, and he'll suddenly lift my shirt off my belly and pat it with his hand. Just recently, he's been getting a serious look on his face, leaning down, and planting a big slobbery kiss right on my belly button.

I'm pretty sure that he doesn't really know that his baby sister is in there. But it still warms my heart

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Another Eggsellent Activity

I love this time of year for thinking of new activities, because there are so many products out there that are egg shaped. Eggs are great for little hands to manipulate and explore. Don't be surprised if you see egg-themed activities on my blog through the month of April!

In the easter section of our grocery store, I found these plastic eggs for about $4. They come in a plastic container that the eggs nestle into nicely, and each larger egg has two smaller eggs inside of it. I'm looking for ways to help Jonah with his fine motor skills, as well as his balance. Manipulating these eggs to find the smaller eggs inside, and even just putting them into each slot in the container, is a great way to get Jonah to use his fine motor skills. By putting the container on an elevated surface, where Jonah had to let go of the surface in order to play the game, we worked on his balance at the same time!

Jonah loved these eggs. We played with them for about an hour. He would take them out of the container, move them around and rearrange them, dump the whole container out and put them back in. I showed him how to open the egg and find the surprise inside. He loved finding all of the smaller eggs, and experimented with putting the smaller eggs into the slots as well.

He did really well, leaning against the ottoman and using his hands to manipulate the eggs rather than holding himself up.

One thing that he likes to do, that I didn't expect, is sort the eggs by color. If I mix all of the colors up, he rearranges them so that the colors are next to each other. This really surprises me, but I'm not sure why I'm surprised when he does things like this! He's very interested in matching. He loves to match pictures together, or things of the same color. Here's a picture of the eggs after he's organized them. The only eggs "out of place" are the green and orange, and shortly after I took this picture, he switched them so they were matched as well. I tried to get a picture of that, but he dumped them out!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Buying Used Cloth Diapers

This week, I made a very large purchase of cloth diapers. Eighteen bum genius! It looks as though we will be having two kids in diapers, at least part time, and it sounded like a good idea to have more one size pocket diapers. This way, if we ever have a baby sitter both kids can have plenty of "easy diapers" to last an entire day. And, because they are one size, rather than packing a couple of each size diaper for outings, I can just take a couple of these and adjust the size to fit whichever child needs to be changed.

And, the price couldn't be beat. $90 for the whole lot. I'll do the math for you, that is just $5 per wonderful fluffy diaper. For the same price as a footlong sub, I purchased luxurious soft convenient and practical cloth diapers that can be used over and over and over. To put this into perspective financially, when Jonah was using disposables because of that wicked staph infection, we spent $12 per pack of diapers and went through two packs a week. That's $24 per week, or $96 for the whole month. With this purchase of diapers, we can diaper both children and still maintain our wash routine of doing laundry every other day. If these were the only cloth diapers we had, they'd pay for themselves in two weeks!

The catch? Oh yeah, they're used.

Yes, used cloth diapers.

Buying used cloth, as long as it's done wisely, is a great way to help the environment, save quite a bit of money, and help out a fellow Momma who's family needs are growing. But, the key word is "wisely." Here are some tips to help you out if you are considering buying used cloth.

1. Buy from someone you know, or a community that you trust. There are a lot of great diaper selling websites out there. However, if you are new to buying used cloth, it could be hard to tell one of the handful of scammers on those sites. The majority of mothers on websites that are for the sell and trade of cloth diapers, really are honest and wonderful people. A select few, are not, and if you aren't careful then you could be scammed.

2. If you cannot purchase the diaper in person (for example if you are dealing over the internet) then ask for lots of pictures. Don't buy from someone who uses a manufacturer's picture, you ought to be looking at pictures of the very diaper you will be buying.

3. Find out how much use the diaper has gotten, and make sure it matches the amount of wear on the diaper. If the seller says it has only been used once or twice, but the velcro is worn and the inside is stained, I would look elsewhere.

4. Look at the closures and elastics. Velcro wears easily and can need replaced if the diaper was well used. a little curling around the edges is normal, but you want to make sure that the velcro still sticks, and it should be lint free, or be sure that the price reflects the amount of wear that the closures have. You don't want to pay too much for a used diaper and then find that the closures need replaced. The elastic around the legs is another part of the diaper that wears easily.

5. Ask how the diapers were washed and stored. You'll want to know what kind of detergent and harsh chemicals were used on the diaper (bleach, for example) because these things can wear the elastic and other parts of the diaper. Make sure the price reflects the treatment of the diaper.

A good summary of these five tips would be to make sure that the price reflects what you are buying. If the diaper has been well worn, but is only a few dollars, then to you it may be worth it. But you want to make sure that you know the exact condition of the diaper before you buy it. For me, this purchase of bumgenius pocket diapers was well worth it. I met with the mother, who I was connected to through a local natural parenting group, inspected all of the diapers, and honestly they were in better condition than any of the diapers we were currently using. Some of them were the older model, so I wouldn't have been willing to pay much more for those, but as far as the condition went they were like new. She told me that she used them all twice, decided she didn't like them, and boxed them up. I completely believe her.

There are also some children's consignment shops that sell used cloth diapers. Of course, you can't ask as many questions about the diaper, but you can inspect them thoroughly. I've heard of many people finding used cloth at garage sales. Many communities have parenting groups for natural parenting, and you can find mommies there that would be willing to sell or trade items such as cloth diapers.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Crock Pot Cake

March seems to be "the" month for birthdays. I can think of five birthdays just in my immediate family (including both mine and Daryl's) that are in March. With so many birthdays that are so close together, the traditional cake can get b-o-r-i-n-g. Here's a delicious and fun way to make a different kind of cake. Kids love to scoop out their serving, and did I mention how incredibly easy it is?

1 box chocolate cake mix
8 oz sour cream
1 pkg instant chocolate pudding
1 cup chocolate chips
4 eggs
3/4 cup oil
1 cup water

Mix all ingredients directly in the crockpot. Cover with the lid and cook on low for about six hours. If you double the recipe, I advise using two crock pots or cook on low for about ten hours. I tried doubling the recipe this time around, and compensated by cooking on high for four hours and low for three. Before the four hours of high temperature cooking was done, the house smelled of burnt chocolate. Only the bottom was slightly burnt, but the smell lingered in the house for quite a while! I only mention this because my recipe says to cook EITHER on low for six hours or high for four. I would definitely stick to the low setting for a longer cook time. You can check the cake to make sure it is done by using one of those long thin icing spatulas, or a wooden skewer.

Provide fun toppings like cool whip or different frostings to spoon on top. The serving method is literally to just take a spoon and scoop the cake out. Don't try to make it look pretty, but just have fun with it. It tastes delicious, so no one will care what it looks like.

One final note about this cake, is that it actually tastes much better after it's cooled completely. Make it a day in advance and store it with the lid covering the crock until it's time to serve.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Super Easy Fool Proof Ribs

One of the biggest downsides to living in Northern Ohio is the extremely long winters. Given that Daryl's birthday is in early March, and one of his favorite foods is ribs, it's pretty difficult to deliver full satisfaction for that special birthday dinner (as ribs are most often the best prepared on the grill.) I've tried making ribs in the broiler before, and sometimes they turn out nice but other times not so nice.

A couple of years ago, I stumbled across this wonderful recipe, that results in delicious juicy and tender ribs every time. I've never had a dry piece of meat come out of this recipe! Some would complain that it "isn't the same" as ribs on the grill, but the slow cook method really deserves a category all on it's own. The flavor is completely different then you would get from the grill or the broiler. And when you're still looking at months of winter, the grill seems awfully distant. Daryl's birthday was this week, and he asked me to make this for his dinner. I was all for this, because truth be told, it's one of the easiest recipes I have in my book as well as one of the tastiest. I took a half hour before bed the night before Daryl's birthday to prepare the meat, then in the morning I simply plugged in the crockpot and went to run my errands. By the time that the family and company had gathered, we had perfectly cooked ribs. The measurements below are really approximate. Depending on how many people you want to feed, or the size of your crock pot, or your personal tastes, it is really easy to adjust this recipe by adding more or less of something. This is about what I used for Daryl's birthday dinner.

Crockpot Ribs:
5 lbs pork loin back ribs
2 cans dr. pepper (or any cola- I happened to have dr. pepper on hand)
2 cups water
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 red onion
3 cloves garlic
salt and pepper
Barbecue sauce of your choice (here is a good recipe, but bottled will work)

Sprinkle both sides of the ribs with salt and pepper. Place the ribs into the crock pot. You might need to cleverly arrange them so that they'll fit while raw. Keep in mind that the lid needs to be able to cover the crock. You might need to cut the slab into smaller pieces. I had one 2.5 lb slab that remained whole and folded over in the crock, and one that I had to cut in half.
Chop the onion into large chunks and sprinkle throughout the crock. It doesn't make a huge difference where they land, but you don't want all of your onions in one place. Coarsely chop the garlic and sprinkle it into the crock as well.

Pour the soda over the ribs. Add water until the liquid level is pretty close to the top, but not all the way. Add the brown sugar. Give everything a good mix, so that there aren't any dry ingredients just sitting in one place (this could even be just turning a piece of rib over)

If you are preparing the meat a night in advance, place the lid over the crock and place into the fridge. In the morning, place the crock into the crock pot heater (I guess it's what that is called!) and cook on high for 9 hours. Drain the liquids and pour some barbecue sauce into the crock pot, making sure to coat each rib (you might use a basting brush for this job!) continue to cook on low for about half an hour to an hour. Serve the ribs with extra sauce.Don't expect to eat these ribs as you would eat ribs off the grill. The meat is so tender that it will fall off the bone as you are serving it (as you see in the picture) so you'll certainly need a fork. Any leftovers that you have can be turned into pulled pork sandwiches!

This is a really basic recipe that you can certainly experiment with. I've added Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, molasses, honey, and all sorts of other rib-smacking good ingredients into the initial cooking liquids. I've also seen similar recipes that call for cayenne or chipotle pepper, and some have liquid smoke added as well. It all depends on what your taste is and what you have in the kitchen. I've found that no matter what variety of the recipe I've used, this is always the end result:

That's one satisfied carnivore!
Happy birthday, my sweet Daryl!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Another leap in our Elimination Communication

I have to be honest and realize that the lack of progress we have made in our elimination communication (EC) has been mine and Daryl's fault. Jonah has been communicating to us beautifully, but we have not been very consistent. Shortly after we introduced Jonah to the big potty upstairs, we got frustrated. Jonah would tell us he needed to go, so we'd take him to the toilet and put him on his little seat. His diaper would be dry. We would give him the cue to go, just as we always had, but Jonah got so distracted in this new potty environment. He could reach the toilet paper holder, and the wallpaper has big pink flowers on it, and the lid behind him can go up and down. Jonah got so distracted by all of these things, that he forgot to go! We'd wait for up to forty five minutes sometimes for him to go. Then we'd take him off the potty and go back to the living room. Two minutes later, he'd sign "potty" we'd take him back to the toilet, take his pants off, and his diaper would be freshly wet.

So we became very inconsistent with taking him, after about two weeks of this. Jonah has also found that he kind of likes going in his diaper rather than being interrupted to go all the way to the potty. He has found that he would rather go in his diaper than stop our activity. This is completey our fault. He was almost ready for trainer pants. I even bought a sewing machine so that I could learn how to sew his large prefolds into training pants that we could use as underwear.

We went from thinking about undies, back to using diapers almost full time. I'm ashamed that it's my fault, but I have to admit it. To say Jonah regressed wouldn't be fair to him- his communication is still right on. I've even found myself whispering to him in restaurants or public places "It's okay to go in your dipie this once!" Embarrassing, but true. I was beginning to miss being a part of family dinners and outings because I had to keep taking Jonah to the bathroom. He had to go, and he knew it, and he told me so, he just got distracted once we got there.

Today we made a huge leap, though. Jonah hasn't gone to the potty on his own since we moved his potty chair into his bedroom. We used to keep it near our play area, and he would crawl over to it, climb on it, and pee. But it got to be a hygiene concern, as he would often go back over to it and take the little bowl part out. I always dumped any waste right after he'd go, so it would be empty and cleaned when he'd take it apart. But, it still kind of grossed me out that he was playing in his potty. So we moved it to his room and took him there whenever he would tell us he needed to go. We also started to take him to the big toilet on the upper level of the house when we were up there, cooking or eating etc. He has never gone to the bathroom upstairs with the intent of going potty.

Today, Jonah was crawling around the house like a madman. I have no idea where this energy came from! I gave him a bath, before which I put him on the potty but he wouldn't go. I'm pretty sure that he didn't go in the tub, and his diaper had been dry before getting into the bath. After the bath, he was crawling circles through the house, going up and down BOTH flights of stairs faster than I could keep up. The upstairs bathroom is right in front of the stairs that go down to our little apartment area. He was making his zillionth trip back up the stairs, and he headed straight for the bathroom. I said "where are you going?" and he signed "potty" I said "Yes, that is where we potty." and at that, he took off into the bathroom and tried to climb up onto the toilet. He was almost frantic about it! I followed behind him, took his pants and diaper off, but it was too late. His diaper was very freshly wet. He must have gone while trying to get up on the toilet. I sat him on the toilet anyway. He looked down and strained as though he was trying to go more. He signed "pee" and looked down again. He likes to see what's happening down there when he goes potty! He waited a few seconds and then reached for the toilet paper. I helped him rip off two squares, which he promptly used to wipe his bottom (as best as he could, anyway) and threw it down into the toilet. He was so proud of himself for using the toilet paper, too! This was not only the first time he went to the toilet on his own, but also the first time that he used toilet paper properly, and didn't just rip it to little bits and throw it on the floor.

I'm happy that he's taking the initiative to go to the bathroom himself. But at the same time, I'm scared about the safety issues of him climbing onto the toilet himself. He is too short to do it safely. I have seen videos of kids that have gotten their foots stuck in the drain of the toilet, and the EMTs had to break the toilet apart to get the kid loose.

I will have to be extra vigilant when Jonah is near the bathroom now, and learn to find the balance between giving him the independence he needs to learn to use the bathroom on his own and keeping our expectations realistic as well as safe!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Daddy Time!

I love watching Daryl play with Jonah. I mean, I really love it. It gives me those profound feelings that seem like they can't be put into simple words, but that's as simple as it gets- I love it! Seeing them together in their most happy moments, makes me realize how lucky I truly am. It really puts into perspective all of the good things in my life, and gives me the sense that absolutely nothing is wrong with the universe.

Just last night, Jonah discovered the nuudles left over from our science play group. I had left them in the baking trays and not yet put them back into their box. I didn't see anything wrong with Jonah playing with them, if that is what he wanted, so I let him get them out. Daryl was just as interested in the brightly colored corn starch pellets. We watched Jonah as he started to take them out of the trays, one handful at a time, and then he got impatient and dumped them all out. Daryl couldn't resist any more and he got down on the floor to play with Jonah in the rainbow colored pile.

I told Daryl that I was not cleaning those nuudles up one more time, so he would have to clean up their mess when they were done. I still had the rest of play group to clean up! At this remark, Daryl took two of the trays and started to scoop them up, dragging the trays along the floor. Jonah, who was watching intently, picked up the third tray and started dragging it along the floor too. He did not seem to mind that his tray was only pushing the nuudles, and not picking them up!

This touched me, because I don't see Jonah mimicking either me or Daryl very often. He will observe us, very intently, but he never seems to care about copying our actions. It was so cute to see him trying to do what Daddy is doing. He looked so grown up with all of that concentration on his face!

They continued playing in the nuudles for quite a while. Daryl started dumping the nuudles over Jonah's head, which of course led to an all out tickle fight and wrestling match. These are the moments that I wish I could freeze in time.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center (or Jonah, Dr. Dolittle)

Jonah loves animals. He has some sort of connection to them. He's our little Dr. Doolittle! Whenever we go anywhere, I try to find something for him to do that has to do with animals. I really see his personality come to life when we do such activities, and he seems to get a lot out of these kinds of outings.

Since we're in Florida, we felt that it would be fitting to take him to the Oceanographic Center that is right down the street from our hotel, to see what kind of marine life is in the area. While it is just a small facility, they have a lot of hands on activities for visitors.

One of these hands on activities was feeding the sting rays. I wasn't sure that Jonah would enjoy this activity, but we gave it a try. To my surprise, he loved it! He patiently held his hand, with a slimy little shrimp between his fingers, under the water until the ray came and gobbled it out of his hand. He had the help of his grandmother and Daryl, of course, but even with them guiding him I was amazed at how patient he was. After feeding them, he got to pet them as well. At one point, I was afraid he was going to jump into the tank with the rays! He couldn't get enough of them.Other activities that they had at the center include a guided nature walk, where you can learn about the vegetation and animal life of Florida, and a game fish feed where you can watch the staff feed the farmed gaming fish while giving a talk about each kind of fish in the artificial lagoon. There is also a children's area that includes a touch tank, a coloring contest, and several aquariums containing some very eye catching creatures. I absolutely loved that the tanks were lower to the ground, at the eye level for the little ones who they are meant to be viewed by. Jonah was able to look at them without Daryl or me holding him, and we even got to work on his walking and balance while he was having fun looking at the sea life.
The cost of admission is $8 per adult, children ages 3-12 are $4, and children under 3 are free. While it wasn't as big of a wow as something such as, say, Seaworld, I felt that it was a perfect activity for a small scale relaxing beach holiday. I wouldn't drive for more than twenty minutes to get there, but if you are in the area of Hutchinson Island I do recommend it as a nice morning or afternoon activity with the kids! Be aware though, that the nature walk is over an hour long and could be pretty boring for children.

The sign for Cracker

Jonah's newest sign is for "cracker." He usually uses this in reference to cheese crackers or potato chips. He also likes to eat avocado on saltines. This also happens to be his grandpa's favorite snack, and if Jonah sees him eating it he will go over to him and sign "cracker" until he gets a bite! Such a moocher!

The ASL version of the sign, which is the one that I show him, is to take your dominant elbow and cup it in the opposite hand twice. There are other variations of this sign, but that is the one I chose because of its ease. Jonah tried to lift his arm up and touch his elbow the way that I was, but he just isn't coordinated enough. After getting a bit frustrated the first couple of times, he adapted it so that he touches his forarm rather than having to lift his arm up to touch his elbow.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Picking Rays of Sunshine

And our "chilly" Florida vacation continues!

Yesterday we made the drive from our hotel to the opposite side of the peninsula to visit my grandparents. I cannot put into words how happy it made me to see them, and to be in their house, again. They have one last citrus fruit tree left (they used to have three) and one of the first things that we did when we arrived was to go out to pick some oranges. Jonah had a lot of fun! He thought the oranges were basketballs, or at least I'm assuming that is what he thought because he kept throwing them in the same manner that he throws his miniature basketball. We tried to show him that we smell the fruit, because boy did it smell heavenly! He didn't fully understand, but it was fun to see him try to mimic this action! He tried to help pick the fruit on the bottom, but it was extremely stubborn and didn't come off the tree easily.

Using Signing to Enforce Verbal Language

One of my biggest fears about going through speech therapy was that the therapists were going to recommend that we stop signing with Jonah. This might seem logical to some, and as I posted previously, it is the unsolicited advice that I get from fellow mothers quite a bit. But knowing what I know about how language is formed, I strongly (VERY strongly) believe that this would actually hinder Jonah's speech. It would actually make him a lot more frustrated with language and take away the ONLY connections that he has between his actions and communicating what he is thinking or needs.

I discussed this with the speech pathologist last week. We talked about my fears of following the advice that so many have given me, and we talked about keeping signing as part of our language and speech therapy. She completely agreed with me, and uses signs to communicate with Jonah throughout the group therapy.

But there is still the conundrum of how to turn these actions into verbal words. While I'm happy that Jonah can communicate to me, it really would be better if he could vocalize his thoughts and needs.

The speech pathologist suggested that we encourage him to vocalize while he signs. It doesn't have to be an actual word or a whole word, but just some kind of vocalization so that he understands the connection between saying something, and the meaning of the sign that he is producing.

This is how we are encouraging that vocalization. When Jonah produces a sign for something he wants, let's say his milk, we pick up the milk and emphasize "This is MMMMiiilk! Tell mommy you want your mmmmmiiilk!" and then give it to him. The first time he makes any vocalization at all, whether it is just "mmmm" or "aaaah!" or any noise at all, we praise him, repeat the sound back to him, an give him the milk saying "mmmmmiiiilk." After that first time that we hear him vocalize during the sign, we raise the expectation of him to hear that vocalization any time he signs for milk. If he only does the sign, we are to say "no, I heard you say it before, use your word... mmmiiilk." and wait for him to sign AND vocalize before giving him the milk.

The reason I am using milk as an example, is because this is exactly what we did at lunch today. Jonah gave me the sign for milk, and I asked him "Do you want your mmmmiiiilk?" He looked at me and did the sign again, vocalizing "eeeeehhhh!" Later during the meal, he did the sign again. I said "No, you said mmmiiiilk before, say it again! mmmmmilk!" as I did the sign. He did just the sign again, and I said "no, mmmmmmiilk." and did the sign. This time he did the sign and repeated "eeeeeh!" so I said "Eeeeeh! Yes, mmmmmiiilk!!! Good words! Mmmmmiiilk!"

I am very happy that we are able to come up with a plan for using Jonah's signs to enforce what he already knows about language. I am also relieved that the speech therapists are not only accepting of it, but embracing it as a valuable tool for Jonah.