Thursday, November 15, 2012

Trains, Tigers, and Toilets

Eamon is starting to mature faster and faster, it's really quite amazing.  Just when I think he can't possibly get any more like a little boy, he surprises me again.  The biggest change lately has been his emotional maturation.  He's always been a mature child, but seeing the difference in his behavior now versus a month ago is startling.  He is reasonable and compassionate.  He still has meltdowns, but they are much shorter in duration, and he recovers very quickly, and can often be talked down from a tantrum.  He is also starting to show a little bit of impulse control.  He's kind and gentle (mostly) with his friends, and even enjoys playing with littler friends.

He is nearly completely toilet learned, and I couldn't be prouder of his accomplishments, considering the fact that he has taken the lead lately, and will now tell us whenever he needs to go.  We still carry a change of clothes with us, but other than the occasional "skid mark" underpants change, we haven't used our extra clothes in weeks.

Yesterday I took Eamon to Toys 'R Us to buy "new wood Thomas."  He did so well all day, and I gave him a schedule at lunch (pee in the toilet, drive a little, go to the baby store, drive some more, go to the TOY STORE).  He was very patient with me, and when we got to the toy store, he didn't go ape shit like I expected.  He walked calmly and held my hand.  We found the train table, and he played with the other children for about ten minutes while I did my "over-researching mama" thing - I had to make sure the wooden Thomas fits our track (he does), and would attach to our generic trains (of course he does), and that we can get more of our generic track if we need it (as it turns out, all the major wooden trains, except the Ikea brand, are compatible).  I pulled the Thomas off the shelf and handed it to Eamon, and he immediately asked me to open it.  I told him, "We can't open it until we pay for it."  With no complaining, he got up from the train table, took my hand, and started off to find the cashier.  When we got to the check out, he put the train up on the counter, and pushed it as far over to the cashier as he could manage.  She scanned it, and he put his hand out to get it back, then turned to me and said, "Open it now?"  We opened it, and he looked at it and said, "Hi, Thomas!"  It was the most adorable thing.  And he and "new wood Thomas" have been inseparable ever since.
Eamon on Halloween - he was a station master.

Eamon's imagination is really starting to take off now that he is approaching two years old.  For several weeks, he's been telling us he hears a tiger.  He'll wake up in the morning and say, "Mama.  Heard tiger."  Now he reports, "saw tiger!"  We are curious about the tiger, but don't bring it up unless he does.  When he mentions it, we just affirm him - "You heard/saw a tiger?  Wow!"  The past few days, he has been seeing a moose in our house as well.  This morning he was playing happily on the floor, and suddenly jumped up and ran to my lap, exclaiming, "Mama!  Sceered of moose!"  In addition, we see lots of role playing now.  He loves to cook while I'm cooking, and he takes his trains and stuffed animals to pee in the toilet, makes sure they get drinks of water, and sometimes offers them a bite to eat.  Last night Thomas had a big slurp of Frappuccino at Starbucks.

The other place we are seeing maturation is in routine and tidying.  Though we still don't do a firm bed time, Eamon always takes a shower or gets his jammies on around 8:30.  Then I offer a bedtime snack, and he eats and plays until he starts to feel tired.  Sometimes he asks, sometimes I remind him to go brush his teeth.  Then he will play quietly for a while, and he'll finally turn to me and say, "Mama, nurse.  Upstairs.  Go sleep."  He is learning the order in which his clothes go on in the morning, and will do a great job (usually) of tidying his toys when we ask.  He cleans up spills and puts things in their proper place.

It's amazing and a little overwhelming to think our little baby is going to be two in less than seven weeks.  So much has changed in the past two years, but it's hard to remember the before-Eamon time.  He's truly a gift, and a wonderful little person I'm so lucky to know!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Movie Night... Or not.

About once a week, I try to have a real movie night with Eamon.  Usually we pile up some blankets on the living room floor, eat some snacks, and snuggle in together.  Tonight, however, I decided to pull out the sleeper sofa while Eamon was in the shower.  I covered the mattress with a blanket and brought our pillows from the bedroom.  I readied our movie (March of the Penguins, in case you were wondering) and got him out of the shower and into his jammies.  When Eamon came into the living room, he exclaimed, "BED!  Wa-how."  Then he clambered up to test it out.  I went in the kitchen to slice some fresh baked bread, and when I came back, I saw my little boy all snuggled in like he was ready for sleep - under the covers, laid back on the pillow, with a broad grin on his face.

For a few minutes, he cuddled with me and watched the movie.  About ten minutes in, he climbed under the sofa bed, calling it a "tunnel."  Now he has all his trains with him, and has created a network of imaginary tunnels.  Every so often he explains part of the movie to Thomas, and occasionally he sneaks back up for a quick hug.  Mostly, though, he's playing trains.  Just like the rest of his day.  Always the trains.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Nonsense Words

It seems like I'm writing a series on toddler verbal development these days.  I have several posts about Eamon's vocabulary, because I find his words just so charming.  At 21 months old, he's just entering the "makes me pee myself from laughing so hard" verbal phase.  He comes out with the most hilarious conversations these days.  He tells us all about his day, and recounts stories from "Curious George" and other movies.  He uses this incredible high-pitched inflection, and has the most expressive face I've ever seen.  Add those together with his inherited weird sense of humor and knack for performing, and he becomes the funniest little person I've ever met.  (Of course, I think Baby Daddy is the funniest big person I've ever met).

It's shocking how many words he can say - I couldn't even begin to count, since he repeats most everything we say.  It's equally surprising how many nonsense words he says - these words he repeats again and again, so we know they mean something, we just can't figure out what.  Lately, he's been saying, "Hogan poi."  Over and over.  I can't figure it out.  And it's driving me batty.  I've asked him to show me what "hogan poi" is, and he looks at me like I'm crazy.  I ask him to use a sign, and he laughs, "Hogan poi?"  Sometimes he just sits and babbles, holding a whole conversation with himself.  It's very entertaining.

Equally funny are the incorrect word choices he has (maybe because I'm a grammar snob).  He's started asking, "Mama, pick it uppa, please," when he wants me to pick him up.  When something pinches his finger or falls on his foot, he'll exclaim, "Ow!  Hurt you!"  If he finds something difficult, he's been known to ask, "Mama, helping me?"

E is really into taking self portraits, and of course
needs to "see picha" as soon as we take it.  

The other developmental changes we see are just as surprising.  Some days, I can only look at him and sigh, knowing my sweet, content baby is nearly gone, replaced by a funny, kind, and independent young boy.  His Y chromosome has fully kicked in, and despite my best efforts to raise him in a neutral way, he shows a preference for all things with wheels (especially trains).  He spends his days building and destroying train tracks, finding muddy spots in the yard for digging, and fitting random findings (like screws, kitchen tools, and the like) into random holes - I frequently pull the vacuum cleaner out and find a screwdriver stuck into the screw holes on the back.

Potty learning is going very well - he's certainly on the train, but hasn't reached the last stop yet.  He's completely out of diapers, and has been for nearly two months.  He's consistently dry over night.  We've discovered that he's much more likely to tell us he needs to use the toilet if he's wearing underpants, so he doesn't run around nudey-bottom quite as much now.  I still carry two extra pairs of pants everywhere, but I haven't needed to use them in a few weeks.  We mostly struggle with having potty misses when he's tired - before naptime and at night.

This was one of those sensory activities that flopped -
it held his interest for about two minutes
Eamon can follow complex directions now, but I've noticed it takes him a few moments to process the information.  The other day he came to find me in the shower, then turned to leave.  As he was going out of the bathroom, I asked him to close to door.  He kept running for nearly ten seconds, then stopped, came back, pulled the door shut, and took off running again.  He wasn't being disobedient, it just took him that long to process my direction.

He's very helpful around the house - picking up toys, putting his clothes in the wash, and helping to dust and clean.  If he sees me at the kitchen counter with baking goods out, he always drags a chair to the counter to "helpa you."

It's hard to believe how fast time goes when you are busy keeping up with a toddler.  Yesterday I mentioned something about a one-and-a-half-year-old, and Chris corrected me.  "You know he's one and three quarters, right?"  How is it possible that he'll be two before we know it?  It's so cliche, but where did the past two years go?  When did he change from a baby into a complete little boy?

Discovering acorns with 'Chelle.
He came home with two pockets full !

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Our First Messy Playdate

For quite some time, I've been trying to orchestrate a playdate with Eamon's peers.  There's about ten little boys his age in the area, and several little girls as well.  Though we'd had some success getting together at the park and for storytime, I really wanted to set up something truly spectacular.  As Eamon gets older, I see more and more benefits of spending time with his peer group - not only is it fun for him, it's fun for me!

About a month ago, I saw a blog about a messy playdate.  The idea immediately clicked with me, and I put out some feelers on Facebook to see who would interested - imagine my surprise when a dozen families jumped at the thought!  After doing some research about how to host a messy playdate (I found this blog particularly helpful), I started to formulate ideas.  Another blog recommended coming up with a theme first, so I decided on transportation, since Eamon (and his friends) are completely obsessed with cars, buses, trucks, tractors, and dozers.  I thought about sensory materials I've been wanting to experiment with, and the ideas started flowing.  I figured with about a dozen children, I would need six stations, and I decided on: A pool with boats, painting with wheels, a snow plow with shaving cream "snow," a bin of dirt & beans with tractors, a mud pit with some dozers, and a bin of dry, colored pasta with dump trucks.
Dried, colored pasta - Eamon loved helping to make it!

The pool with water beads & boats
(before it became a swamp)
Dirt, colored beans, and some tractors

I asked each family to contribute $10 and a snack.  That contribution really helped defray the costs of materials, and although I certainly didn't pocket any cash, I didn't break the bank with this venture, and now I have a lot of materials we can reuse in future playdates.

The weather was perfectly bright and breezy, not too hot or too chilly.  I set up our stations in the grass near the driveway, popped up a canopy and tables for the snacks, and whipped up some tea, lemonade, and water.  I set up two clean up stations, one near the playing, and one near the door to get to the bathroom.

This shows how we were laid out -
lots of room to run, but still close enough to interact
(Photo courtesy of Mandy Jones)
Once the kids starting arriving, it was clear what a great idea this was.  I didn't really lay down any ground rules, because I wanted it to be a thoroughly "yes" environment.  There wasn't a single argument among the children, who ranged in age from five months to five years.  I loved just sitting back and watching them play, and seeing the creative ways they entertained themselves.  It was also really interesting to see the different personalities - some children (mine included) were covered in mess from tip of toe to top of head, while others played very neatly.  I'm so thankful so many families got to come and enjoy, and helped out so much by providing snacks and contributing financially.  I'm already planning our next messy playdate!!
All the kids playing

I don't think this guy left the paint table at all!
The tractor bin
(Photo courtesy of Andrea Conner)

The pool is starting to get swampy...

Jada & Eamon enjoy the shaving cream pit
This guy was the cleanest one after two hours!
(Photo courtesy of Andrea Conner)

Jada wasn't sure what to think of all the tactile experience!
This is called mixed media - fingerpaint and shaving cream!
(Photo courtesy of Jessica Mostyn)

Eamon spent at least 20 minutes bathing in shaving cream.

Scoop and dump, scoop and dump

Jada chilling in some noodles
(Photo courtesy of Pam Hylton)
This is one of my favorite photos of the day - so much joy in messy!
(Photo courtesy of Jessica Mostyn)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Potty

When I was pregnant with Eamon, I remember talking to my mom about potty learning.  I told her I wanted to have the baby out of diapers by the second birthday.  As Eamon approached 18 months, I started looking for signs of readiness - waking up from naps dry (which he's done since about a year old), knowing when a diaper is wet or dirty, general toilet interest, etc.  When Eamon started showing these signs, I spent a lot of time researching potty learning techniques.  (Of course I did.  Research is what I do best.)  I really liked the concept of the three day method, so I decided to go all in on a long weekend.  

The basic premise of the three day method is that you don't leave the house, pump your kid full of liquid, and offer potty breaks every 15-20 minutes.  There's no rewards system, there's no shaming or discipline for accidents.  There's just, the potty is where we pee and poop, and that's it.

We used elimination communication from the time Eamon was about four months old, maybe a little younger.  We've never been really great about it, but I figured his familiarity with the potty chair couldn't hurt at all.  

I decided to use a little reward just to keep the experience positive.  Eamon could care less about candy and treats (not to mention I don't like the idea of food rewards), so I stocked up on balloons and stickers (which he most certainly does care about) before our potty weekend.  

Since I knew we'd be stuck in the house all weekend, I stocked up on all our favorite foods, and collected lots of snacks, books, games, and toys.  

We started intensive potty learning on a Friday morning.  I took the day off work, and we didn't have any plans for the whole weekend, so it was a perfect time.  We had a relaxed breakfast, then tucked in for a day of pottying.

It didn't take long to learn Eamon's pee schedule.  I kept offering the potty, and most of the time, he happily sat, even if he didn't pee.  We read books, played games, sang songs.  When he peed, I did a little happy dance, and we took his pee to the toilet together.  I used the stickers and balloons, but he totally doesn't get the reward system, which is fine with me. I’m pretty sure he’s starting to understand that the potty is the right place to pee. 

Pottying brought us closer together.  Having to be so vigilant actually made for a fun, very bonding day for us! Since I wanted to make sure I didn't miss any signals, we spent A LOT of time sitting and reading, singing songs, etc. 

Day 2 was a learning day for us.  Chris was home from work, which meant the TV was on most of the day.  Also, we had house guests.  In addition to being distracting, having guests over is a sure fire way to make sure Eamon doesn't nap at his regular time.  House guests, the TV diversion, and sleep deprivation= (you guessed it) bad pottying times.  We had A LOT of misses, and I found myself very frustrated after the very positive start we had on day one.  

Day 3 was relaxed.  We were all spent from the disappointments of day 2, so we just took it easy.  Had about 50% success.

Day 4 was my first day back at work.  I wasn't sure how consistent Chris would be with the potty, but he was great (and has been great through this whole process).  Eamon did great in the morning, but the afternoon and evening with me were a little rough.  He was already showing a trend - he doesn't do well with the potty when he's tired or grumpy.

On day 5, I got a great text from Chris that said, "Just had a poop on the potty with no help from me.  He grabbed a book, sat down, and pooped."  I almost exploded from pride.  

By one week in, Eamon was getting many of his pees in the potty, including his first morning pee.  The ones we most often miss are before and right after nap time.

Eamon ended up sleeping diaper free about a week and half in, sort of by accident.  I had been putting his diaper on after he fell asleep, but I fell asleep with him, so he ended up with no diaper.  He is dry most nights anyway, but I felt like sleeping without a diaper was a big step!  Now, a month in, he sleeps diaper-free some nights, and other nights in training pants.

By two weeks in, he was averaging only one miss a day, and most of that was because we weren't offering the potty often enough.  
We were in a habit of reading a book or singing a song on the potty, which seemed to really help.

Not quite a month into the potty adventure, we took a road trip to the beach.  Over the four days, he missed three pees.  We didn't use a single diaper.  

We took another road trip about a month and a week in, and he had a little regression after about 4 days away from home.  He got to the point that he would physically protest sitting on the potty, and lost all interest in pottying.  I had to start offering a book at every potty break, and I tried not to push it.  Of course, we were guests in a family member's home, so I didn't want him peeing on things.  He finally got over the hump by our last day, and did really great on the car ride home.

Now, after about six weeks, he's averaging a miss every other day.  Some days are great, some days are not so great.  But he never wears a diaper, and knows where the toilet is in all of our regular haunts.  He loves to flush, his favorite potty song right now is "Pop Goes the Weasel."  He still has misses when he's tired or really distracted. 

For us, the biggest keys for successful pottying have been an enthusiastic team (having my parents and Chris on board is such a gift), a positive outlook, the willingness to jump in full force (and clean up some pee on your carpet), and a child who is ready and interested.  Oh, and several potties.  We have a toilet ring, a potty upstairs, and a potty downstairs (which travels with us).


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Money Crackers

Right now Eamon is in the midst of a language explosion.  His vocabulary is expansive, and growing every day.  About a week ago, he suddenly started putting two word phrases together, and yesterday I heard our first three word sentence - "Mama, nurse, please."  His two word phrases are hilarious, because he puts this giant pause between the two words.  He says things like, "chocolate. milk."  "Crazy. chickens."  "Ice. water."

One of the most interesting things about language development at this age is the ability to retain information.  Eamon's mind is like a steel trap - he'll hear a word or phrase just once, and it's cemented in his brain.  It's truly amazing to witness, and can be both a good and bad thing.  It was very funny when it only took a minute to teach him to call a friend of ours "Uncle Drunk Monkey."  (That may come back to bite us in the butt.)  Sometimes, however, it means that if Eamon hears you incorrectly, he will immediately memorize the incorrect words, and they stick.  This evening, I offered him some "bunny crackers."  He repeated back to me, "money crackers," and no matter how many times I said it correctly, he continued to call them "money crackers."  Actually, it sounds more like "mumay crackoos."  

 I have a feeling they will be "money crackers" for a long time.  And then, one day, they will quietly turn into "bunny crackers."  Just like "boohkA" became "book, read," and "bapper" suddenly morphed into "diaper," one day we will notice that "money crackers" are no longer requested in our house.  It's sad, really, to think about how fleeting the most adorable moments of my day are.  I've noticed that Eamon says "uppa, mama" only about half the time now.  The rest, it's a simple, "up.  please."  Someday soon, "uppa" will be gone forever too, but hopefully he'll have something equally as charming to replace it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


People often comment on Eamon's independence.  In truth, yes, his nature is to be independent (he is, after all, born of a mama whose favorite toddler words were "I do it!").  However, we try to foster self-sufficiency and confidence at every turn.  Whenever I see an opportunity to allow him to take care of himself, I take it, even if it means cleaning up after him, or taking longer to get the task done.

At 18 months, Eamon is taking showers by himself.  We are a low-soap family, believing strongly in the cleaning power of warm water and friction.  When Eamon gets into the shower, I simply stay in the bathroom with him, observing his creative play, and then remind him he needs to wash his diaper area.

Eamon generally carries his own plate of food too.  Until recently, we put most of his meals in a little glass jelly jar, but he has started asking for a plate.  He's quite adept at carrying his plate in two hands, and has yet to spill.

In my opinion, independence goes hand in hand with contributing to the family.  In the past several weeks, I've started really encouraging Eamon to help with clean up, and trying to help him become aware of messes.  He frequently puts his own clothes in the laundry, and helps fold clean diapers.  This past weekend, he was a huge help in cleaning the house, even going so far as to mop the floor in his room.

His most recent leap into independence has been clothing - he figured out a method for putting on his own shirt.  This unique method means I'll be folding his shirts inside out, but I feel so proud that he's figured it out himself!

Friday, June 22, 2012

On parenting

Lately I've been reading several parenting books.  I'm a consummate researcher (for this, I blame my parents - their answer to my childhood questions was always, "Go look in the encyclopedia"), and I like to have as much knowledge as possible in every interest I have.  Before we decided to start a family, I read every book I could get my hands on about conception, nutrition, prenatal care, and so on.  I have a library of pregnancy, labor, and breastfeeding books.  And now that Eamon is growing into a young boy, I feel it's time to read parenting books.

Our style of parenting is natural and obvious to us, and we don't use it because it's gimmicky or popular (though it has been getting a lot of press lately).  We use it because it makes sense for our family.  We treat our child the way we treat each other.

My parenting philosophy is simple - I treat Eamon as a person, a human who has feelings and needs and a free will.  I respect him and expect him to do the same.  He's a contributing member of our family, and I make sure he knows how he can best contribute (right now, he helps with laundry, cares for the chickens, and sometimes helps to tidy up).  We don't use coercion, threats, or rewards.

Already, the fruits of our parenting style are showing.  Eamon is an even-tempered, gentle, fair soul.  He is generally cooperative, and responds well to reasoning and redirection.  He has little tendency toward violence, as he has no example of violence in his life.  He's loving and free with his affection.  He's an explorer, but knows we are here when he needs help.  He fully understands our family unit, and prefers when we are all together.  He's bright and sensitive, and helps me to know every day that my patience and loving parenting style is working for him.

I really don't need a book - or several - to teach me how to parent, but it's very reassuring to know that other people out there are doing it the same way.  I like seeing the science behind my parenting style, the research that shows I am raising the best child I can.

I just finished The Natural Child, by Jan Hunt.  It's a collection of essays on a variety of subjects, and so many passages spoke right to my heart.  Now I'm working on Attached at the Heart by Barbara Nicholson.  It's my first ever Kindle book, and so far it's a great read.  I'm trying to get my hands on a copy of The Continuum Concept, one of the first books written on attachment parenting.  I'm always on the look-out for new book suggestions, so let me know what your favorites are.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Rabbit Hunting

Eamon got a new wagon just the other day, so I decided it was time to get some wagon pictures...  But before we got the wagon to the backyard, we spotted the rabbits!!  We have a large family of rabbits that lives in the brush just past the fence on our property, and they spend most of their time grooming our lawn.

Sweet little rabbits, happily munching away, unaware a toddler is nearby.

Enter toddler!!  

The chase begins.  I'm actually starting to suspect the rabbits like this game, because they often run back and forth in the yard before darting under the fence.

Thank you, sport setting on my camera, for capturing this shot.

Wagon time!

This is the one.  I mean, really.  How adorable is he?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

17 months

I just love this look. 

This is Eamon's new shrug.  He tilts his head all off to the side, and puts his hands out in this
 "Eh, I don't know" kinda way.

New chicks!!  A mixture of ages and breeds - from right to left: Cordelia, an Old English Bantam Game (we think), a no-name Silver Laced Wyandotte, Emily the Easter Egger in the back and then two more SLW.

Eamon's totally in love with his new chicks!  He asks to go see "Corde" all the time, and has to go tell them all goodnight before dark.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Just Dreadful

About a week ago, I started this little one.  Sort of a "let's see how this goes" thing.  And a way of showing that dreads can co-exist peacefully with the rest of my clean, brushed hair (because so many people think dreads are dirty!)

A wonderful friend of mine did all my sectioning last night while our boys played, and we braided them up to be twisted and ripped at my leisure.  Here's a shot of all the braids, plus the one-week-old dread.

I got a few done last night before bed, and then wrapped my half dread/half braid head with a scarf to keep down the pillow friction.  This morning, the first thing Eamon said was "HAT!" and stole my scarf.

Nearly halfway done.  Twist and rip is MUCH easier and looks better than backcombing, but my fingers are getting a little sore.  And my arms are getting a little tired.


All finished!  I'm really happy with how they look, but I'm already not looking forward to the fuzzies.  It's a stage, though, and I guess I'll deal with it!

UPDATED: Just after the first wash (they are about 3 days old)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

So many words...

The rate at which Eamon is growing and learning makes my head spin.  He is a problem-solver, a mischief-maker, an entertainer, whiz kid, snuggle bug, and all around great guy.  The other day I sat down to make a list of Eamon's funny words, inspired by my sister's blog about words.  As my list grew, I was shocked by how much Eamon can say, when only a few weeks ago his vocabulary was around five to ten words.  I made my list in Eamon's journal - a book where I've been writing letters to him since we first discovered he was on his way. I've decided to share it here, since his little words are so charming and sweet.

First we'll talk about words he says the "mostly regular" way.  Most people can understand these, including strangers.  (I think it's a neat evolutionary trick that toddlers are well understood by their primary caregivers, even when the words are complete nonsense to others).  Most of these he still uses with a sign, but not all.

down             cracker          mama
eat                 marker           dada
off                 baby               back
apple             slide               bottle
ball                cat
dog                bug

Next come the adorable Eamon-ese words that he uses with a sign

uppA = up                                   bapper = diaper
mo = more                                  outdoo = go outside
nun = nurse                                  reen = rain
boohkA = book                           hep = help
payha = play                                mehk = music
alda = all done                             brabee = rabbit
flafa = flower                               tenk = thank you

And other Eamon-ese that doesn't have a sign

wa-how = wow
uman = Eamon (He sticks his finger in his chest and says, Uman!  It's pretty much the best thing ever)
prepa = pretzel (with an Eamon-made sign)
oh-doo = open the door
weeng = swing
momay = money 
tar = guitar
vwat (or something like it) = lap

And just for fun, here's a fairly comprehensive list of his signs.  He knows so many that it's hard to keep track, especially since he learns a new sign every few days, and often makes up his own signs.

up, down, nurse, all done, bath, egg, cheese, cracker, "o"s (cereal), more, again, book, play, eat, water, phone, sleep, help, shoes, diaper, dog, cat, horse, milk, moose, seal, popcorn, ice cream, pap-pap, out, hear, owl, bird, flower, toothbrush, apple, ice, sticker, ball, balloon, camera, sheep, rabbit, where, snow, please, thank you, rain, cozy, music, pretty, fish, baby, I love you                   

That's more than 50 signs, and I'm certain I've forgotten a few.  Some of his signs are particularly funny - he uses the "grandma" and "grandpa" signs, but says "pap-pap" for both.  His "I love you" sign is just a finger right in front of his mouth.  He is saying a word with most of his signs now, and I hope to do a new video soon.

And in other Eamon-related news, we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of a dime.  In a diaper.  I'm sure you can figure out what that means.  Told you he was mischief.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Gearing up

This week Eamon got a new little life jacket.  It's called a "puddle jumper," and it comes highly recommended for the swimming pool.  He did really well in the pool last year - even going so far as to swim underwater!  I want him to have some autonomy this year, so he can really explore his abilities, so we asked around for recommendations.  I wasn't so pleased that our style options were ladybug or frog, but Eamon is quite tickled with the frog.  It has been chilly or raining for the past week, so we haven't gotten into the pool yet, but I'm excited to see how this little thing works.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Toddler Magic

On a daily basis, Eamon reminds me how truly AWEsome children are.  All slang aside, young children are totally awe inspiring.  Their senses are so awake and fresh.  Which, in turn, reminds me how deadened my senses are.

Eamon frequently sees and hears things long before I do.  He often tells me, with signs or words, about a dog or cat far in the distance, or a baby he spots across the room.  I used to doubt him, but I've learned that if he says it's there, it usually is.  I just need to look or listen harder.  It's amazing to me that he can pick a familiar sound out of a noisy mix.  Last night, as we spent our first night of 2012 in our tent, the night was alive with nature's music.  Suddenly, Eamon started saying "hoo, hoo,"  and sure enough, when I strained my ears, I could hear an owl.  He has now started to tell us whether he hears something or sees it, and it's incredibly adorable to see him sign, "hear dog," and then say, "phoof, woof."  

Today as we were playing outside, I noticed Eamon staring straight up in the sky.  When I looked up, he had spotted a few birds.  He finally looked at me, signed, "hear bird," and then pointed and said, "twee."  I'm not sure if he heard them or saw them first, but in any case, I never would have noticed them.  Watching him delight in his world is one of the greatest gifts I can imagine.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Guest Entry from Bundle of Joy

Read the original and more of my sister's writing here.

Little Helper

Let me preface this by saying that I am not the perfect parent. But every so often I am pleasantly surprised to learn that my effort has paid off and I am doing something correctly.
I am a big proponent of having children be responsible for a growing list of chores as they get older. When I was a child I was always helping fold laundry, attempting to clean my room (typically not well) and I traded off with my sister on responsibility for sweeping the floor and doing the dishes after dinner each night. All of this was before the days of high school when we were forever gone from the house involved in various activities.
I've heard many parents say that they struggle to get things done around the house after working all day because they have to entertain their children. On the other side of things (and I've been guilty of this myself, especially during baseball season) you put your child, whom you have not seen all day, in front of the television so that you can put in a load of laundry, go to the bathroom and get dinner started. The few times I've fallen back on this strategy is has just hurt my heart so I try to avoid it at all costs.
The solution? Create a little helper. Children are helpers by nature. They are imitators and strive to please their parents. If you praise your child rather than scold them when they "help" and unfold rather than fold the laundry you will begin to build something in them. You will make them more prone to help. You will encourage them to try and not be afraid of failure. Over the last year I've spent quite a lot of time cleaning up Whit's messes when he has been "helping." There was the flour incident when our pizza making became 6 cups of flour all over the kitchen floor (some of which is still hanging around).
There were a few months this winter when folding laundry became throw Daddy's folded shirts all over the living room and dirty laundry rather than clean was winding up in the dryer.
Currently sweeping involves running a broom as fast as possible through Mama's dirt pile so that she has to start all over and washing dishes typically puts more water on the floor than in the sink (hey, at least I don't have to mop!)
We are still working on the concept that weeding the garden involves digging up the weeds, not climbing on the flowers.
Sometimes Whit's helping is easier to accept. It's adorable to watch as Whit follows Daddy around the yard with his toy mower every weekend or pretends to help vacuum (complete with whirring noises). He has quickly figured out how to water the "peppa" plants (even if he misses as many times as he hits the plants).
Throughout all of this I continue to tell Whit what a good helper he is to reinforce this behavior. Consequently, I am not surprised when I am unloading the dishwasher and he grabs a handful of silverware and tosses it haphazardly into the silverware drawer. I simply say "Thank you Whit, you are such a good helper!" And he beams at me and toddles right on about his business. It is my hope that we can continue this trend of helping. I love that Whit puts his books back on the shelf when he is finished reading them and that he brings me Daddy's empty glasses and dirty plates from the living room. Yes, it requires a little more effort now, but when Whit is 10 and I put "unload the dishwasher" on his chore list he should do it quickly, correctly, and with little or no complaint. Why? Because helping is FUN! And helping gets you praise and kisses!