Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Language Acquisition

Lately, Valerie has been watching Sonic the Hedgehog on Netflix. (Yeah, yeah, I'm a terrible mom, I know.)

Which means we've been roleplaying a lot of Sonic the Hedgehog. The first few times she asked to play, she told me, "Mom, you be the blue head." Which was a logical way of referring to Sonic, since, well, he has a blue head. Sometimes, she would call him "the blue super bear," so I think she didn't know what a hedgehog was. She knows porcupines (and pygmy marmosets and naked mole rats - Thank you Philadelphia Zoo!) but I don't think she's ever seen a hedgehog before. And, to be fair, even if she had, Sonic doesn't look much like an actual hedgehog.

Then she started calling him "Yonic", which was amusing to me in a nerdy, "Ha ha, my daughter is using inappropriate words that are way beyond her realm of understanding" kind of way. Then she started calling him "Onyx", which is a simple shuffle of the "s" sound from the beginning of the word to the end of the word ("onics"). "Onyx" is also the name of a horse on another show that Valerie likes to watch. I have noticed that, when faced with a new word, Valerie will often replace it with the closest word she already knows. When I offered her a poncho the other day, for example, she called it her "pom pom".

Then, a few days later, Valerie asked me to be "the blue head jog". That's when I realized that Valerie may have known what a hedgehog was after all, but Sonic wasn't a "hedgehog" to her, he was a "jog" with a blue head. A "blue head jog". Say it out loud.

But these adorable Valerie-isms don't last long. Because after she hears it the "right" way a few more times, she usually stops doing it. Sometimes, it takes a lot of self-restraint on my part not to reinforce her adorable misconstructions, but I know it does her no good in the long run to sacrifice accuracy for adorableness. I don't correct her, but I do say it the right way myself, and eventually, she abandons the cute alternative. (Although sometimes she spends a lot of energy beforehand arguing that her way is right. She just finished watching a new show called 64 Zoo Lane, and as the credits ended, she said, "Mom, it's called Zixy Call!" I said, "Oh? Sixty Four?" and she said, "No, Zixy Call, listen to the song!" and then she started the show again so I could hear them singing the Zixy Call theme song.) Her pom pom became a poncho within a few days, and I know Onyx will suffer the same fate sooner or later. Yesterday, Valerie said to me, "Mom, you be the blue super bear... er... hedgehog."

Watching her learn is pretty adorable, too, though.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

New York City!

I spent the day in New York City yesterday with a 13-month-old strapped to me, a three-year-old in and out of a stroller, a big, heavy diaper bag, a camera, and a friend who was also pushing a stroller with a ten-month-old inside. New York City is awesome, and there are so many things to see, and we walked as much as we could, but sometimes, you just have to take the subway. And for every subway entrance in NYC with an elevator, there are about 20 that just have long, narrow flights of stairs.

As my friend and I were fumbling with our children and our strollers at the top of the first of these flights of stairs, a helpful man came along and offered to help. He took the bottom of Karla's stroller, and helped her carry it to the bottom of the stairs. And as he was helping Karla, a helpful woman came along and took Valerie's hand as she was about to slip on the wet stairs, and helped her to the bottom.

I thought, wow, that was neat. Two helpful people in this city that is renowned for its rude, rushed population. We thanked them profusely, and went on our way.

But then, we came to another flight of stairs at our destination. And two more helpful people jumped in, and this time one of them helped me carry my stroller with my 30+ pound kid STILL INSIDE. And it happened again, and again. At every single subway station, at least one, but usually two or three, helpful people rushed over to help us with our strollers and our children. When my coat fell off the back of my stroller, the person behind me picked it up and handed it to me as soon as I was at the landing. (And, in one particularly awkward moment, an older gentleman actually picked Valerie up and carried her to the bottom of the staircase. I was a little too stunned to say anything, and at least he was carrying her towards me, but it was still rather uncomfortable.)

On almost every subway train, somebody noticed the baby on my back and offered me their seat (which I politely declined, since it's not very easy to sit on a subway seat with a baby on your back, but I appreciated the sentiment). I thought back to the time I came to NYC when I was pregnant with Valerie, and I never had to stand on a subway once, because someone always jumped up to offer their seat to the pregnant woman. And once, when I arrived at a bathroom with a long line, the women in line unanimously bumped me to the front of the line because, "You're pregnant! You can't wait!"

I'm sure there are rude people in NYC, but there are a lot of people in NYC. As a percentage of the population, there are probably just as many rude people in your hometown.

I want to make a television commercial for New York City. It will have a hipster standing in Times Square, saying, "Yeah, we used to be rude, but then it got so mainstream." And then he'll see a lady struggling with a stroller and rush off camera to help her. Anyone have half a million dollars and a hipster they want to give me?

Thank you so much, people of New York City. We had a great time!






Sunday, December 04, 2011

Easy, Almost-No-Sew Car Seat Poncho

Okay, for starters, I want to make sure you know that you should not be putting your child in his/her car seat wearing a big, puffy winter coat. In a car accident, all that down/poly-fiber can compress, and your child could pop right out of both the coat and the car seat, even though the seatbelt seemed to be fastened correctly. The safest thing is to remove the child's coat before strapping him/her in, but when it's cold in the car, it can be a battle to get that coat off. (And, if your kids are like mine, it was already a battle 2 minutes ago to get the coat ON in the first place, just to make the short trip to the car.)

So, here is my solution. A poncho that can SAFELY be worn in the car seat! And you can make one yourself for a little over $4 if you possess the ability to cut with scissors and sew on two buttons. This took me 45 minutes, including the time it took to take pictures and nurse a baby. It probably will take you half that time if you are working uninterrupted.

Here's how the poncho works: (Tutorial is below the demo pictures)

1. Put poncho on child, with buttons/opening to the back. Any child will do. (These pictures show my 13 month old and my three year old wearing the same poncho.)



2. Place child in car seat, and lift the poncho out of the way so that it doesn't get caught underneath them.


3. Hold poncho out of the way as you buckle the seatbelt. The poncho should be entirely free of the seat belt.



4. Tighten belt as usual. Return poncho to cover the child so they can keep warm until the car warms up.


5. Once the car warms up, the child can just lift the poncho over their head and take it off. (Or, an older passenger can reach over and pull it off for them.)




BONUS USE: When you arrive at your destination, and you put your baby/child in a carrier, you can just turn the poncho around so the buttons/opening is at the front, and you have a cozy babywearing poncho!



Alright, are you ready to make your own?

Here's what you're going to need:
-a fleece blanket (I got mine at Family Dollar for $4)
-a tape measure
-a permanent marker
-sharp scissors
-two buttons (I just found two I liked in my extra button box)
-a needle and thread.


1. Fold the blanket into quarters. Starting at the middle of the blanket (the corner with no edges), measure towards the shortest side of the blanket (if your blanket has trim/edging, stop just before the edge of the blanket). Lock the tape measure to save this measurement.


2. Using the tape measure as a compass, mark a spot every few inches in an arc all the way across the folded blanket.


3. Cut a smooth curve just inside the marked line (so that the marker marks won't be on your finished project). Cut through all four layers of fleece.




4. Discard the edge pieces, or use them for another project.


5. Lock your tape measure at 6 inches. Starting from the same corner you used before, mark an arc with a 6 inch radius. Cut it out.


6. Unfold once. You should have a rainbow shape two layers thick.


7. Fold one side about 1/3 of the way across.


8. Fold the other side across so that the edges of the outer portions overlap by about 3 inches (give or take, depending on the size of your child's head - you can pin it, and make sure it fits over your child's head before sewing, if you'd like).


9. Line up two buttons at either edge of the overlapping section. Sew them in place, taking care to only go through the top four layers of fabric, not the bottom two.


10. That's it, you're done! You could add decorative edging, or sew around the neck hole, or add embellishments, but I'm not going to bother with any of that. Fleece won't unravel, so you can leave the cut edges as is, and it looks fine!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

One Year Old!


Dear Dorothy,

You are one year old, now!

We went out for dinner on your birthday, and both you and your sister fell asleep in the car on the way there. But, we let you nap for a bit, and everyone was in a better mood for dinner. You had your first cupcake and you thought it was the best thing in the world.


The highlight of this month was a trip to Houghton for Homecoming. This year was Mommy's and Daddy's ten-year class reunion, which is pretty hard for me to believe. You had a lot of fun, and as a special treat, Grandma was there, too, for her slightly-more-than-ten-year reunion, so you got to see your Grandma, too! We all had a very good time, and the most exciting part of the trip was on October 8: As we were getting ready to go to church, you took your very first step! You didn't really realize you were doing it, but you were standing at a chair with a doll in your hand, and you wanted to get to Mommy, and you let go of the chair and took one step before you realized that you couldn't quite reach me, so you dropped to the ground and crawled the rest of the way.


You got three new teeth this month, bringing your total to six. I was starting to worry a little bit about the tooth behind your cleft lip, because it took a really long time coming in (the two lateral incisors on the other side came in before it, out of order), but it did finally cut through while we were in Houghton, and it seems fine, so that's a relief. The big downside of all these new teeth is that they seem to have changed your upper lip on their way in, pulling your frenulum down pretty low. This isn't a huge problem, but it does make it hard for you to stay latched on when you are nursing, so I have to be very vigilant about your latch the whole time. I probably should call the surgeon to get it clipped, which is a very simple out-patient procedure, but I've been putting it off, because I still have the memory of your sad little face coming out of your cleft lip surgery, and even though I know it's not the same thing at all, I can't quite bring myself to go back there.


You know a lot of words. You can sign for milk, food, more, and all done. You can say Mama, Daddy, nursies, more, all done, up, yum, yay, yeah, this? (as in "What's this?" or "May I have this?"), boo (peek-a-boo), hi, and baby. I'm pretty sure you have said Nana and Valerie (Wawie), too. I think there are other words that I am missing, though, because you love to talk, and you seem pretty confident that all the sounds coming out of your mouth (and the gestures you are making with your hands) are real words.


You continue to be a very happy baby. Whenever we are out, people always ask me, "Is she always like this?" And you pretty much are. Although, after 12 months of your sister sitting on you and taking things away from you, you finally have started to get upset when she does these things, but I can't blame you for that. In fact, I remember when you were younger, how hard it was to convince Valerie that she was hurting you, because she would always respond, "But she's still smiling!" So I must admit, from a parenting perspective, I'm a little relieved that you have started to express your displeasure when something upsets you, but I'm afraid you might be turning into a drama queen like your sister. Sister sitting on you? Good reason to cry. Mommy took away the book you were trying to eat? Not a good reason to cry. Let's work on that.


Things are going pretty well in the sleep department, too, although I'm sure part of that is just my perspective when I compare you to your sister who was such a terrible sleeper at this age (and now sleeps 11-12 hours straight every night - there is hope!) You go to bed at about 10, then sleep until 2ish, nurse, then sleep again until 5ish, nurse, then sleep again until 7ish. I'm happy with this arrangement for now, although I am hoping that your first stretch of the night gets longer soon so that I can put you in your sister's room. Naps are a little more rough. You used to nap so consistently, but now you seem to pretty much only nap if you fall asleep in the car or if I put you in the Ergo on my back. If my dishes are ever clean, it's all your fault for refusing to fall asleep unless I strap you on my back and don't sit down, so I often wash dishes until you fall asleep. So, there is an upside to it after all!


You are a pretty good eater, although you are starting to get more choosy about what you want. For a few weeks, you would ignore everything else in front of you and only eat meat, and you would cry if the meat was gone. Then you abandoned meat for a while, and only wanted carbs. Currently, you seem to be on an apple diet. All you want is apples, and if I turn my back on you for a minute, you will climb up behind the kitchen table and steal apples from the fruit bowl. But, there are worse vices, so I don't stress about it too much.

2011-10-03 12.21.21

Some of your favorite things in life right now:

  • Your baby doll, Lily, (actually Valerie's doll, but you have basically appropriated her). You love that baby doll so much. You cuddle her, and pat her back, and she was the doll you were holding when you took your very first step, because you didn't want to put her down.

    2011-09-16 12.15.58

  • Climbing. You haven't really progressed much past that one accidental step (other than repeating it on a few occasions), because you already have a way of getting across the room. What you want is a way to get to that thing up there that I thought was out of your reach. But almost nothing is out of your reach anymore, because you can always climb onto that chair, and then onto that other chair, and then onto the table. Fortunately, you learned to climb down almost as soon as your learned to climb up, so I can usually just let you climb and enjoy it. You love the stairs, and you go up and down like a pro, such that I don't even have to spot you anymore.


  • Eating things. Especially things that aren't food. Or things that were food yesterday, but now are dried out and gross. Or food that other people are eating. And occasionally, food that Mommy puts in front of you, if Mommy was lucky enough to guess your food-of-the-day.


  • Mommy. Sometimes no one else will do.

  • Daddy. You get so excited on Saturday and Sunday mornings when you wake up and he's still there. He also possesses a magic touch to make you sleep when Mommy can't. I'm more than a little jealous of this talent.

  • Valerie. Even when she sits on you, you still love her to death and keep going back for more.


  • Being tickled. Especially when you're tired and extra giggly.

  • Putting things into other things. I know this is a normal baby thing to do, but your sister only ever played the dumping-things-out game, so it's novel for me to see you voluntarily putting toys back into the toy box.

  • Pretending that things are hats. Especially bowls.

  • Peek-a-Boo. We play "Where's Dorothy?" with blankets, and you giggle with glee every time you reveal yourself. We also play "Peek-a-Boo" with our hands, and you will say "boo!" when you open your hands.

  • Mommy's computer. If I walk away for a second and forget to close my laptop, I will come back to find that you have deleted a blog post I was writing, or reset my homepage, or changed some setting that I have to spend five minutes figuring out how to undo. I suppose you see me spending a lot of time playing with it, so it must seem like the coolest toy in the world to you. (And it totally is.)

I love watching you learn and grow, and I love watching the gap close between you and your sister. There is only one size of clothing in the "too big for Dorothy but too small for Valerie" section of the closet right now, and that is so surreal to me. Before I know it, you will be best friends and co-conspirators. I can't imagine life without you.



Eleven Months Old!


Dear Dorothy,

You are eleven months old, now!

This letter is going to be pretty much a photo dump, because I'm two months late writing it. I'm not exactly on the ball lately with this blog. Sorry about that.


Major events this month:
-Earthquake (August 23)
-Hurricane (August 27)
-Driedgers visit from Ottawa (Sept 4-10)
-Trip to Bergen (Sept 15-19)