Posts Tagged ‘baby signing’

Favorite Things: Coronavirus Edition

My asthma has been flaring up, likely from anxiety about spread of COVID-19. There are moments I have to remind myself that I have no fever or other symptoms, and the people in my direct contact are indeed safe.

The pandemic has caused many of us return to the things we tried to give up for lent: nail biting, screen time or alcohol. (My finger nails are a hot mess!) Our house has had a few tensions like any one else’s, but we haven’t gotten it all wrong.

Wes and I have been practicing gratitude by sharing each night for the last year or so one thing in which we’re grateful. Recently his answers have brought me to tears and laughter, and it occurred to me that I haven’t shared a “favorite things” post in a while.

Here’s a few random things that we enjoy and use, and perhaps one of them may bring a needed smile to your face, too.


<<Newest Discoveries>>

We discovered this funny app a few weeks ago. You post on an imaginary social platform, and thousands of bots “like” and comment with ridiculous replies. It has made us giggle and scratch our heads! (Fair warning, though, I haven’t yet found a language filter.)

UNICEF Kids Power Band
Wes mentioned that he misses going to his specials during the school closure – particularly Dance & Drama, where his classmates complete group exercises to “unlock” opportunities to send high-protein food packets to malnourished children through UNICEF. It sounded cool to me, too, and I researched their family fitness program, snagged a couple activity trackers on eBay, and now we’re competing against each other for highest number of daily steps. In a week, we’ve been active enough to “earn” a dozen therapeutic food packets sent to kids who need it most.

Loog Guitar
Wes received a 3-string acoustic guitar by Loog for Christmas, but he’s been intimidated to try it until now. It helps kids learn fingering and strumming in a simpler way than with a standard 6-string guitar, and the company makes chord flash cards and a cool app to keep players engaged. For at-home “Music Class,” he is slowly learning how to play, though he says it hurts his fingers. (I remember those days!) It’s been fun to have an excuse to dust off my old guitar and play with him, too.

Practicing A minor

There are hundreds of homeschooling resources available and many lists of suggested activities floating around. We’re excited about Wesley’s upcoming virtual classes on Outschool – PokéPlants: An Introduction to Plants (and Fungi) using Pokémon! and Zelda and World Mythology. Depending on how these go, we may sign up for a few more during the next six weeks.


<<Baby Favorites>>

Cloth Diapers
We’re a part-time cloth diapering family, but now that we’re at home for the foreseeable future, the diapers are getting even more use. I used a variety of cloth diapers for Wesley’s first year and wrote a blog post on the experience, and this time around, we opted for cheaper ones. I’ve been really pleased with Best Bottom Diapers (similar to the more expensive GroVia) for their simple button inserts and reusable cover. We also have a handful of Alva Baby pocket diapers (bought on Amazon), and they’re just as good as the more expensive brands.

One more suggestion: invest in some Rockin Green detergent, and add Bac Out for eliminating the ammonia stinkies! I pour in about 1/4 cup in the pre-wash cycle.

Baby Signing Time
Still love this series a second time around, and nearly 10 years later! Maisie appreciates that we know what she’s referring to and can communicate effectively with us. While she does babble and “talk” quite often around us, she only says between 10-20 words. However, she can sign more than 50.

The songs are generally catchy and minimally annoying, and even Wes likes to watch one of the four 20-minute episodes with Maisie. We never did get much further than Rachel and the TreeSchoolers, which is another quality educational program from this company, though I know Signing Time is well-known and popular.

Signing “water” while in the bathtub

When Wes was a toddler, we didn’t worry about him falling down the stairs, because the only steps were to the basement, blocked by a door. He also wasn’t interested in moving from Point A to Point B, unlike Maisie, who has already boinked her head more times than we can count.

In this house, we have a prominent staircase with a bannister on one side and a wall with crown molding at railing height on the other. It has made for a challenge in finding the right baby gate to keep Maisie downstairs. I finally found it, though: a removable, retractable gate that can attach at an angle. It’s pricey at $120 – and accessories may be required to attach like on our stairwell. But with all the perks included, so far it’s worth the cost.

OneKid Road Coat
During Maisie’s first winter, my mom got her a unique snow suit with an inner zipper that accommodates a seat belt harness in a much safer way than a regular snow suit or coat. This winter she used a second-hand coat found at a consignment sale, and once washed, the stuffing from the arms gathered in the shoulders and made her look truly beefy. It’s been such a pain to strap her in the car, and I’m sure it’s not safe.

I recently purchased a “transition coat” for less chilly weather from OneKid, the same company as the cool snow suit with the same inner zipper. Granted, we haven’t been traveling in the car too much lately, but getting her in and out has been a huge improvement over her bulky winter coat. I like it so well that she now has a down-filled version for next winter!

Notice the rad unicorn design!


<<Current Necessities>>

Moodstruck Lip Exfoliator
Cold weather may be heading out, but my skin is still so very dry, including my poor chapped lips. This Younique purchase was a splurge, but it’s one of the best things I’ve tried. You don’t know how much you needed a lip exfoliator, seriously.

AYR Saline Nasal Gel
Ugh, crusty noses are the worst. My mom introduced me to this stuff a few seasons ago, and it’s great for the kids as well as my own allergies. If you have dry skin around the nose, or it’s stuffy or runny, try it and be impressed.

Cetaphil DailyAdvance Lotion
Speaking of dry skin, I’ve been washing my hands so often throughout the day that they’re in bad shape. One of my friends asked for lotion suggestions on a Twitter feed, and I mentioned Cetaphil’s line of products. I figure it’s good enough to mention here, too, because it’s become a necessity around our house.

DIY Lysol Imitators
I’ve made my own floor cleaner since my weird MRSA infection last summer because I had trouble finding products that could kill the bacteria. Given the current demand for cleaning products, I’ve been making additional batches of disinfectants. Here are my recipes for floor cleaner and household spray.

Disinfectant Floor Cleaner:
– 1-2 gallon(s) hot water
– 1 cup white vinegar
– 1 cup rubbing alcohol (optional)
– 1 tsp blue dish soap (optional)
– 10 drops tea tree oil
– 10 drops sweet orange oil

Disinfectant Household Spray:
In a 16 oz glass spray bottle, combine (and shake):
– 12 oz rubbing alcohol (or nearly to the top of the bottle)
– 1/2 tsp hydrogen peroxide
– 30 drops tea tree oil
– 15 drops each of oils: eucalyptus, lavender, lemon


We’ve found that spending at least 15 minutes outside each day, regardless of the weather, has also brightened our moods. Today was nice enough to take a family bike ride around the neighborhood – and we were far from the only ones with the idea.

I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad

Stay safe, healthy and smart out there!

Posted: March 25th, 2020
Categories: Leah
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Chicago with Love (and some signs)

The three of us took a post-Valentine’s Day mini vacation to Chicago for the weekend. It almost didn’t happen, but I’m glad it did. Some time away with our little family always seems to allow Wes to hit some major milestones.

The plan was to leave midday on Friday, but we had a rough Thursday night and ended up at the pediatrician the following morning with another double ear infection. (That’s four in 6 months, for those of you counting.) Saturday morning’s departure wasn’t so bad – it was one less day of figuring out nap schedules away from home – and we enjoyed a happy-go-lucky kid, especially since we gained an hour driving north.

If you drive along 65 around the Lafayette area, you’ll pass miles of wind turbines. Wes was awestruck with the alien-looking things, and, in reference, he kept signing “star,” which I believe is a pretty close description. We picked up the train to head into Chicago, and again, Wes was amazed to see, hear and ride a real-life train. You better believe he signed “train” and yelled “WHOA” pretty much the entire 45 minute trip. I’m not ashamed to say that my beaming pride was evident as people oohed and aaahed over my adorable son.

After checking into the hotel, we took a quick walk around Magnificent Mile before settling in for naptime. Thankfully the excitement from the morning worked its magic, and Wes knocked out cold within minutes. Steven followed suit. So I got to read in an overly comfortable bed above Chicago while the boys rested. And you know what? One of the absolute best things about 4-star hotels are the hot showers and the complimentary toiletries. Their sleeping allowed me to test out the mini spa treatments in fancy packaging and actually wash my hair.

From the 9th floor of our hotel, Wes loved to watch the cars and busses (and sign accordingly) pass by. He was ecstatic when we hopped on a bus to the LEGO store and later the John Hancock Observatory. (PS – The Observatory is cheaper than Willis/Sears Tower, the lines are totally manageable, there’s a cafe at the top and the views are just as good, if not better.) Stroller riding is fun to an extent, but a wiggly toddler needs to wiggle, and that he did – 100 floors up. We got some meager photos, but the trip was super fun. I didn’t understand until later today, but the incoherent sign that Wes performed all that evening was “night.” Duh. We were up there and looking over all the lights of the city as the sun set.

Today we took a quick trip to Shedd Aquarium. We did have a couple meltdowns prior to seeing any fish, but once we did, Wes was in heaven. He couldn’t get enough. And no matter if it was a snake, eel or stingray. They were all signed as “fish.” He was beside himself with excitement, and I couldn’t help but laugh at him.

A few pieces of advice about Shedd – GO EARLY. We arrived just an hour after it open and the lines were already long. Also, BRING A STROLLER. Even if your child ends up walking the whole trip, having a stroller or wheelchair automatically puts you in the “accessible line,” which is at least 1/3 shorter. For real. And if you bring a 19-month-old? Skip all the extra exhibits and just pay the $8 general admission. You’re saving yourself at least $30 each, and in our case, Wes was done after an hour.

So I know this post is heavy with sign language talk. Maybe you are on the fence about whether to introduce it to your kids. Or maybe you think it’s a damper on language development. Or maybe you just don’t even know that it’s a trend! I was hesitant to keep at it because I’m pretty terrible with follow-through, but it’s worked really well for us. I didn’t know just how well until we came home tonight. Wesley was getting ready for bed and carried on an entire conversation with me with his grunts, few words and limited signs. Without any prompting from me, he signed “fish,” “train,” “bus,” “star” and “car” over and over again. Heavy emphasis on the train. He remembered the whole weekend’s events and wanted to tell me about it!

Some kids are talking more fluently than Wes at his age, but this is the way he is able to communicate right now, and his little face just lights up that he CAN, and that I understand. It’s now a two-way conversation. And golly, if it takes a trip to Chicago to figure this out, well, where to next week?!

Screen Shot 2013-02-17 at 7.34.52 PM

Posted: February 17th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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The Post About Stay-At-Home Motherhood

Typically Steven stays home with Wes on Fridays, but this week was my turn to work four 10-hour days and spend today with the little guy. I gotta tell ya, it’s an adjustment to say the least. Granted, we’re early risers and really didn’t have to get up outside of the norm, but the whole “getting the entire household ready and out the door by 7” thing is tough. I definitely wore my Supermom cape this week and have been beaming with pride with my accomplishments.

Photo 3So today. The original plan was to wake up late, ease into the morning and visit my sister and the kids. My niece and nephew came down with a stomach bug, so I thought it would be fun to take Wes to the Children’s Museum instead. However, his 4 a.m. wake up-and-scream fest lasted nearly 2 hours (another blog post some day on night terrors), and I decided instead to make it a productive at-home day.

Based on how productive I was, and how great I feel at 9 p.m., I’ve come to the conclusion that staying at home full time might not be as terrible as I’ve imagined. Now, if you know me at all, it’s no secret that I love my job and would tell anyone that I prefer to be a working mother. But I’ve convinced myself that I would pull my hair out and drive myself crazy if I didn’t have an office position, deadlines and social outlet. Oh, the agony of it! Sure, I’d get to spend oodles of time with my only son and witness his milestones and accomplishments, but somehow my sanity has always seemed more important. Selfish sounding? I agree. We’ll get back to this thought later.

By 10:30 this morning, I had already: washed the sheets and started another load of laundry, handwashed the several-day-old pots and pans that were becoming a major eyesore, swept (vacuumed?) all the floors AND dusted our room. Whew. I was on a roll. Partly because Wes didn’t end up taking his nap like I thought he would, so I had some alone time while he talked to himself in his room.

We ate a leisurely lunch together, which never happens. We laughed and made funny faces at each other. Throwing on less grimy clothes, we left to fill up the gas tank – where I got hit on! (mind you, without showering or makeup) – and stocked up on necessities and not-so-necessities at Target. By the time we got home at 1:30, Wes was ready for his nap, so I finished several items off my list. Including my newly organized pantry:

Photo 1

It’s too bad I got the Ellen schedule all messed up, but I did get to see the last 15 minutes of Nicole Kidman giving her best impression of a kookaburra.

If you notice on my check list above, it says at the bottom, “remove poop.” Remember Jake, the Italian Greyhound who doesn’t like wind, rain or temperatures below 72 degrees? He certainly was having a fit during Blizzard 2012 and decided to do his business as close to the door as possible. Now that all the snow has melted away, our patio looks DISGUSTING. I think I deserve some sort of reward for scooping up multiple days worth of slushy, loose dog excrement.

Wesley woke up shortly after. The warmth of today was absolutely lovely, and we spent a long time enjoying it. He was beside himself.

In fact, the only way I could bribe him to go back inside was Baby Signing Time. These videos are slightly annoying, yes, but SO much better than other signing programs out there. Thumbs up. He smiles throughout the entire 25 minutes, and lately he’s been attempting multiple signs he hasn’t before. I caught him signing “day.”

Photo 4

Even after all that play time, I still had time to throw chicken in the oven, snap green beans and tidy the house before Steven got home. Alright, so Wes was on my hip for much of this time period. But he’s at the age where if he sees/participates in the preparation of dinner, he’s more apt to eat it. (He didn’t, however.)

Whatever was left on my list won’t take long as tomorrow’s chores.

It was a great day. I love my guy, and he’s thrilled when I’m home with him. There’s so much teasing, playing, laughter and all those wonderful things you associate with parenting on days like today. I know it was just one day. There are bad days, and they happen fairly frequently. But for today, I can resolve that I could be a SAHM. As long as I have a schedule to accomplish and realize I may not get everything done, I could do it. And throw in a few do-nothing days.

I’m trying to be less selfish and more accommodating for my family. Steven makes many sacrifices and works around the clock to provide for us. I sometimes feel like I skip off to my dream job, enjoy the day and the people and complain if I have a sick child. Reality check: I may have to be mom-at-home one day. I’m starting to get used to the idea, and it doesn’t make me quite so angry anymore.

Posted: January 11th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Six Months

Weight: 21.9 lbs (97th percentile)

Height: 26″ (50th percentile)

Head: 43 cm (25th percentile)

I find it funny that this child has such a large body and a small head. I mean, I have to wear kids’ sunglasses because of how small my head is, but I wasn’t nearly this huge. Ped wasn’t concerned (like me) that he has no interest in rolling over. Apparently it’s one of the most common skipped milestones! He truly has little interest in the fact that his toy just out of reach and won’t roll to get it. I can imagine him thinking, “oh well. I’ll just look at my awesome hands.” The fact that he’s doing well with sitting up and continually improving his hand/eye coordination means we’ve survived another few months!

We’re starting a few baby signs this month. The sign for Daddy allows you to spread your fingers like a “5” and tap your thumb to your forehead, like a 6-year-old’s impression of a silly face. Somehow this seems fitting…

Wes is destined to have a slightly flat head. The ped isn’t worried about it, but it’s likely he won’t have much hair to cover it for another year or so, and then he will probably lose it again later (early) in life. I noticed, after digging through my hair “cleaned” with dry shampoo for the umpteeth day, that I, too, have a slight flat spot. Poor kid – with his parents’ genes, the odds are against him!

I was talking to my mom this morning about Wes’ 6 month stats & weird quirks, and she said, “I remember thinking with you girls that I would have never traded you in for anything different. You were perfect.” Yeah, he is my perfect little imperfect boy. No one could fill his shoes that he doesn’t wear yet.

Isn’t that how God views us?

Posted: January 20th, 2012
Categories: Leah
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