sign of the times

It’s been a long, long while since I posted anything on this blog. Why? Well, I’m not sure. Perhaps the severe winter weather we’ve been, well, weathering, temporarily froze my inspiration. In any case, I hope to start posting some stuff on a somewhat regular basis (don’t you admire the certainty of that language: “hope to start…” and “somewhat regular”).

We are currently in a fun stage of development with our son Theo, who is now 15 months old. Yes, there are tantrums from time to time (read: flailing limbs during diaper changes) and the word “no” (or shall I say, “NONONONONONO!!!”) has become a mantra of sorts for Theo.

Eric snapped this one mid-meltdown

Eric snapped this one mid-meltdown

However, aside from the more trying moments, I am loving this time. Here are a few highlights.

1.) Signing!

A few months ago, it seemed that Theo was frustrated a lot of the time. He would gesture and howl and emphatically attempt to draw our attention toward… something we usually could not determine. I talked to a friend with older kids, and she suggested sign language as a way for Theo to learn to communicate his thoughts and desires before he is able to use words for these things. It had been my intention to incorporate sign language months ago, but it wasn’t a real need yet, so I kinda let it fall by the wayside. However, as the need for communication increased toward the end of Theo’s first year, we started to introduce some signs. The results have been so encouraging! Theo learns the signs (if it is for something he actually cares about and has interest in) within a day or so after they’re introduced. It has alleviated his frustration and provided a strong bridge of communication between us. It is also super duper cute! Here is a list of the signs we basically have down at this point:

1 bath

2 car (most frequently signed)

3 eat

4 shoes

5 ball

6 banana

7 bird (another most frequently signed)

8 more

9 bye-bye

10 hat

11 book

12 all done

signing "bird"

signing “bird”

Theo signs “car” approximately 30 times a day, and often climbs up to our big window to look out at the cars parked on the street, while passionately shaking his fists up and down. If Eric and I are talking and the word car happens to be spoken, Theo looks up at us and immediately starts to do the sign. It is neat to see him make connections, notice words and find a way to take part in the conversation.

Birds, along with cars, are another one of Theo’s biggest interests. As we drive or walk around Calgary, Theo is always noticing birds, and pointing them out to us. Sometimes he notices designs that resemble birds, or even just sees trees, and starts to say and sign “bird”. When Theo signs “bird”, he also says “bir!!!” (exclamation points warranted, believe me), which leads us to the next fun aspect of development:

2 Words!

Theo is acquiring a spoken vocabulary, which is something I have looked forward to since he was born! Though he said “mama” many months ago, that was pretty much it for quite a while. Now there are all kinds of words popping up each day! Admittedly, most of them start with a “b”, and sound a lot alike… but Theo uses them within context and he knows darn well what he is saying (and we do, too!). Here is a list of words we’ve noticed as of late:

1 bear (“beh”)

2 bird (“bir”)

3 bath (“baa”)

4 banana (“ba”)

5 ball

6 apple (“puh”)

7 Dada or Pa

8 no

9 lamb (“namby”)

10 spoon (“poon”)

Sometimes Theo sits in his car seat in the back of our car while we are driving somewhere and sings “nononono” to himself (or us). It’s cute, though of course all that no-ing gets a bit tough to handle at times. At this stage, Theo is more than capable of letting us know when he does not want to do something, or if he does not like us interfering with what he is doing. While I know there’s much talk about the “terrible twos” and so on, my goal is to keep in mind that this stage is a natural part of development. Theo is learning that he is a separate person, and that’s a good thing.

Another good thing is the way that Theo is learning to identify and make animal sounds, which leads us to our third fun thing.

3 Imitations and Animal Sounds!

The age of imitation has begun. Sometimes it is downright hilarious! If I attempt to deter Theo from rifling through the trash can (he’s drawn there like a bee to honey) and say “yuck”, Theo makes a guttural sound in the back of his throat; his version of “yuck”. If I give him a kiss, he clicks his tongue to make a kiss sound. If Eric waves his hand in front of his face while changing a diaper, Theo does it, too. He’s learning about the world and forming reactions to it, mostly based upon what he sees modeled in our behavior, which is both exciting (his capacity for learning is so immense!) and a little scary (read: those moments when I have “sharp words” for another driver, or the occasional potty-mouthed utterance).

Animal sounds are another fun development as of late. Theo loves to roar like a lion, snort like a pig, bok (“bah-bah-bah”) like a chicken, woof like a dog, and meow like a cat. He also does a pretty spot-on horse impression.

All that to say, our son is a budding genius. Have a good day!Image

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Nickname-Fusion-Confusion

Today you are in for a special treat! I’ve decided it is time I shared my parenting tips. I have, after all, been a parent a whole 13.5 months now, and that gives me the right to boss you around (even if you’ve been a parent longer). In order to keep the blessing flowing, I will be sharing these intermittently on my blog. I’m certain readership will spike and reach epic heights in nanoseconds.

Alright, here we go. Get ready to be parented, parent!

1. Assign your child with a horrendous nickname as soon as possible, and change said nickname at whim. I like to call this “nickname-fusion-confusion”. For instance, in my son Theo’s 13(.5) months on this faire planet Earth, he has been called the following:

Donkey

Bonkadoo

Donkel

Scooby

Scoodle

Diggery-doo

Poodle

Wonky

Toesy-Woesy

You might think I am making this up. I’m not. I have used each and every one, and sometimes all within one minute or so. Yes, my son is confused. What is his real name? He isn’t sure! But he knows darn well that it sounds silly. I like to think this is preparing him to be adaptable and well-adjusted as an adult. I’m sure I am right. There must be some data somewhere to back that up. Maybe I will run my own study. It won’t be biased; how dare you suggest such a thing!

You might notice a general theme among these nicknames. That is because there was an evolution of sorts. It all started with Bonkadoo, and took off from there. “Toesy-Woesy”? How does that fit in? I’m not sure; I can’t account for that one. Just thought it sounded cute! That is the key, after all; nicknames must be cute. And, in addition, a really stellar nickname must have what I like to call “embarrassment potential”. That is, it must be weird and cutesy-pie enough that it would mortify the child if they were 14 years old. That way, when the nickname fails to wither with time, and you find yourself calling out “Poodle!” across a crowded mall when you need to catch up with your teenager, they will be plenty embarrassed. That will be fun for you! And fun, my friends, is what parenting is all about.

And now, to reinforce the magic of this particular tip, I would like to share a photo of my child. Here he is at 6 months or so, enjoying the fruits of nickname-fusion-confusion.

A well-adjusted child

A well-adjusted child

And now, for an entirely silly post with no content of import!!!

Well, I don’t know about other mothers out there, but I find that one of the pure joys of motherhood involves draping colorful scarves around my little boy’s head whenever I feel like it. Please see below.

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He obviously loves this.

 

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“See his contented expression?! It’s his favorite game!” (my internal dialogue)

 

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Hmm. His tolerance seems to be waning a bit with time, but my delight is replete.

hard work + delight

As of late, I am incensed with large, unfeeling corporations who create products that are harmful for consumers. The latest in this list? Johnson and Johnson, whose products have been found to contain formaldehyde. Did I mention that the products containing this agent, which is a known carcinogen, include those marketed for babies? For shame!

It is easy to become downcast at such thoughts. After all, we all spend our hard earned dollars to obtain said products such as that mentioned above (for our children, for ourselves), and it is so disappointing to learn that the products are not good for us (as they claim to be). After learning that our one-year-old son’s shampoo and body wash (both made by Johnson and Johnson) contain things like formaldehyde, my husband and I tossed it all into the garbage. And so it is out of our lives… or is it? Today we went to the drugstore to purchase a replacement, which seemed to be free and clear of toxic elements. Guess what I found out this evening? It is made by Johnson and Johnson! We, the consumer, are subject to massive parent companies who produce ad nausea. Thinking we have escaped the dishonest marketing and unsavory ingredients of one line of products, we are liable to stumble right into another without realizing it!

So, as we can see, it is hard work to find good, pure, beneficial (not harmful) products for our families. You know what else is hard work? Babies! Babies is hard work. Wait a second, something feels off about that sentence… ah yes, here we go: Babies is are hard work. Yes, indeed. They require daily maintenance and every parent gets tired sometimes. My young son Theo has culled a few harmless yet exasperating skills that occasionally make me howl in dismay (on the inside).

Example 1:

Occasionally, I prepare a considerable feast for him to consume, and he immediately and joyfully hurls it on the floor while I beg for mercy. He responds with uproarious laughter, and I cry.

Okay, that might be an exaggeration… I don’t always cry.

Example 2:

At around 8 months of age, my son started to get colds (please see photo below for actual documentation of Theo’s first cold and the heinous reality it wrought upon us). Lots and lots of colds. Now, at twelve months plus loose change, it is novel to see his nose snot-free. Yes, these days, I’ve grown most-accustomed to the strange awe that falls when I view that perpetually thick veil of mucus coursing down, an eternal wellspring bubbling from both nostrils, which I am required (by my own sense of decency) to wipe approximately 34 times a day.

Striking awe into the hearts of many

Striking awe into the hearts of many

The best part of the constant cacophony of coughing and snot is this: each night, before bed, my husband and I have the rare pleasure of pinning my strong, wiry child to the bed in order to use what is called a “Snotsucker” to forcibly remove said snot from his nasal passages. My son screams as this practice is exercised, and incidentally, he also kind of looks like a demon is being exorcised (see what I did there?). Anyway, the gaget (said “Snotsucker; that is its real name, not a pseudonym invented by me. I am just not that clever!) is extremely effective. I recommend it! But, dear parent, prepare thyself for thy child to assume the appearance of human having brains sucked out by sadistic aliens.

I hope the above illustrations have enabled you to understand that parenting is, at times, hard work. However, as I mentioned before, this difficulty is tempered by something: cuteness! Children are very cute! And they do surprising things all the time. Cute things + surprising things = parental delight! As we all know, delight counteracts hard work; I believe the actual mathematical equation is:

hard work + delight = life worth living!*

(*I added the exclamation point for effect. It has no mathematical value.)

Yep, when you consider an equation like that, it is easy to see that parenting is a pretty decent gig (in the realm of those that do not pay, but cost money).

Cuteness in point: I am fairly certain that my son has started to utter the phrase “Get duck!!”. Out of his little mouth, these words sound more like “Get dutt!” Nonetheless, the similarity is enough, and the context in which the phrase is spoken is consistent enough, that I have decided to believe that he is uttering actual words. Other than “Mama” (which is whined, cried, spoken stoically, wailed, and muttered roughly 214 times per day), I had henceforth been unable to pick out any words from among the maniacal babbles that pour forth from his mouth from sunup to sundown. Until now!!!

The thing with the duck is this: it is about 4 feet long and mostly resides face down (it is a sort of dimensionless duck; think duck pancake) on our living room floor. Eric’s aunt mailed the huge, yellow, furry, fuzzy, HUGE thing in a garbage bag from the States (where she lives) a few months back. My love for the duck has increased exponentially with each day that he shares our lives. Upon his arrival, Eric, Theo and I proceeded to play a game called (informally) “Get the Duck”; the only rules are that the participants crawl toward duck, jump on top of duck, and make growling sounds while shrieking “Get the duck!” Theo located a passionate affinity for the game instantaneously, and often crawls over to the duck to initiate the game, giggling and growling with gusto. This week I noticed that some words were mixed in with the rowdy growls and giggles: “GET DUTT!” See?! That’s cute.

Why do I attempt to demonstrate the hard work and cuteness entailed by parenting to you, dear reader? Because I also want to make something clear. That something is as follows; I have outlined what I believe to be a ground-breaking thesis in 3 point form.

I. Parents who work hard should not have to:
a) find out that they have been bathing their child in harmful ingredients (like formaldehyde, among other things) for the first year of the child’s tender life
b) find out that they PAID to bathe their child in said harmful ingredients
c) toss out these products, disregarding usual personal semi-religious adherence to recycling all viable plastic waste, thereby suffering in conscience, resulting in loss of quality sleep (okay, this one is a stretch. i wanted a “c” for my list.)

And the cuteness; what’s with all the blabber about that? Simple: babies are cute, and cuteness is to be cherished.

Here is a definition of cherish:

verb: cherish; 3rd person present: cherishes; past tense: cherished; past participle: cherished; gerund or present participle: cherishing
1. protect and care for (someone) lovingly.
“he cared for me beyond measure and cherished me in his heart”
synonyms: adore, hold dear, love, dote on, be devoted to, revere, esteem, admire
-hold (something) dear.
“I cherish the letters she wrote”
synonyms: treasure, prize, value highly, hold dear
-keep (a hope or ambition) in one’s mind.
“he had long cherished a secret fantasy about his future”
synonyms: harbor, entertain, possess, hold (on to), cling to, keep in one’s mind, foster, nurture

You might have noticed that nowhere in that unnecessarily long definition of cherish was it mentioned that to cherish a person or thing is to bathe the cherished in formaldehyde.

And with that, dear reader, I bid you adieu.