Friday, July 26, 2013

Sand Art? Colored Rice.

Sand Art

I loved the idea. It is about

working with colors and sensory play with textures

at the same time. So I bought some colored sand and bottles for our next craft project with my 20 months old. The bottles are great. They are made of clear plastic, have texture to them, colorful caps and strings to wear them as decorations. They are small: would have to fill them just enough for the project not to get boring. I've got an ice-cream cone and a tropical fish bottles. We are still to make the tropical fish.

Colored Rice.

Then I thought to use rice instead of sand. Camilla picked rice with her fingers (great for fine motor skills!) Rice is bigger than sand, which makes it faster to fill the bottle.
art for toddler
But not that fast. She has been filling that bottle for 3 days. A very hard working girl. She loved it first, seemed to be interested after several minutes, but wanted to play with pretty rice in different ways too. All that took time.

It is easy to color rice. Put some in a zip-lock bag with several drops of hand sanitizer and food coloring, seal the bag, and mix the rice with color for a couple of minutes. The rice should be dried before use. It appeared it was ready for use almost immediately though. The food coloring didn't stain the fingers. The smell of the hand sanitizer was gone fairly quickly too.
craft for toddler
The final product looked very pretty. And we both were very proud of the accomplishments. It was a great stress relief for me too:

Art project - the best stress relief strategy ever!

What else do you like to do to decrease your stress level? I am in need for some advice with this recently :(
craft 18 months old

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Speech-Language for Babies and Toddlers

We had a speech eval with my 20 months old. I have learned many interesting things preparing for the visit, during and after it. Results for Camilla: speech sound skills - at risk, talking - "mild delay" (really? with 60 active words that we counted? funny!)

Some people might remember our problem. Camilla suddenly started talking at 18 months. She picked up tens of words in a matter of a couple of days. And that made me worried because with all the great talking she still couldn't pronounce some of the basic sounds. It looked like she skipped all the first sounds and advanced to the next level without them.

It turned out I was right: there is a sequence of sounds that the babies develop normally. The speech-language pathologist, Jenny, was nice to give me an extra paper at the end; and there they were, all the sounds Camilla skipped. Here it is:

Speech Sound Development Chart

Up to 24 months old

Group 1......p, m, h, n, w, b
Group 2......k, g, d, t, ng

Up to 36 months old

Group 1......f, y
Group 2......r, l, s

Up to 4 years old

Group, sh, z
Group 2......j, v

4.5 years old

th (the th in thumb), th (the th in this)

5.5 years old

zh (as in measure)

First sounds: Speech-Language for Babies and Toddlers

P, M, B are made with lips. I found some nice tips of how to help a baby with these.

1. Our prescription after the visit (Ha! Ha!) is to buy a chopstick for Camilla to apply to the lips to help her be aware of her lips and start using lips to produce the sounds.
2. Use wet cloth to move around her lips. Or a piece of tasty food around the lips.
3. Play with syllables: ma, me, my, mo.
4. Blow bubbles, blow kisses, blow on the napkin and a feather, blow on the flower, blow bubbles in drinks.
5. Straw! It helps to develop muscles of the lips and the tongue. Many activities. We were advised to use a straw for drinking, eating yogurt, applesauce. Also, blow air in and out through the straw. Blow air into Mommy's face to see her making funny faces. Blow through the straw to move feathers or cotton balls on the table.

Some other tips that I found interesting. What do you think? Any other tips you could share? Please, do: I'd be happy to find out anything!
1. Toddlers talked more actively while playing. That means they manipulate an object with their hands at the same time producing their best, happiest, and most impressive talking. Parents can encourage that talking by talking, cheering, and making sounds (choo -choo for a train).
2. It takes 7-8 years to say all the English sounds correctly. The errors in sounds in words are OK. Ignore mistakes, but model good speech.
3. Ear infections. It's hard to imagine how little the baby can hear with those. Camilla was sick many times last winter. Did it really effect her speech that much? I am so sorry!
4. The truth. If you don't understand what was said, don't just say "Yes" - my common mistake, I did that many times (sigh, it's just easier and faster to keep up the conversation).
5. Pacifier can delay speech. Can breast feeding delay it?
6. Baby Einstein. This is my own opinion (there is a believe that these videos can delay speech). I think, the videos helped Camilla a lot. The many words she is saying are those from the videos. Of course, I used them too when talking to her. But the others common ones that I used, like "eat" and "drink" she still doesn't say. Aaaaaand she loves the classical music!

Monday, July 8, 2013

The 12th Night and Gender Differences

Wow, Shakespeare thought it's funny, some 400 years ago! Here is a train of thoughts: Camilla got to climb the decorations for "The 12th night". Since it was a long weekend, everybody was together and the discussion went that direction. We talked about "The 12th night", about "Romeo and Juliet" (of course :) ), and then about the gender differences in babies and toddlers.

The physical differences are well know. Besides the obvious one, LOL, I can think of several now. The boys are supposed to be bigger, stronger, braver, with a bigger head. They are better at gross motor skills, while girls are better at fine motor skills. The girls start talking earlier and can draw better pictures (more skillful and using bright colors). Boys are more active and ready to take a risk, and girls are quieter and more fearful. What else I am forgetting here?

It also largely influenced by the cultural norms of the parents and caregivers. I thought I am open minded here. If my girl wants to run around with boys and get her pretty dress dirty, so be it. Or another example: Camilla has 2 ride-on toys. I bought her a truck because I knew from the experience with my son that it can be used in so many ways at play. This one is one of the best toys to help kids get creative. When Daddy saw Camilla's new truck, he did not object, but looked surprised and even said something like "Why?" Several months later he brought her a pink and pretty pony (which she really liked).

After thinking and talking about it, I realized I am NOT THAT open minded.

Once we discussed toys with our friends with toddler kids. The father of a little boy and a girl complained that when they bought a doll for their daughter, her brother was very interested to play with the doll. He asked if they should buy another doll and a stroller for his son. Another Mom responded that it's OK for boys to play with dolls and that her son loves to play with dolls. Then I quickly said that the boy was only interested because it was a new toy and that he will get over it soon. Later I thought of how wrong my reaction was, I am NOT against boys playing with dolls - LOL.

But what IS a correct way of doing it. The modern advice is to pretty much ignore the differences. Offer boys to play with dolls, but girls have to play with trucks. Offer kids to choose their cloths, if it's wrong  - oh well, their choice, boys can wear pink. Offer role play: boys play female characters, and girls play male characters. Let them cuddle and wrestle together (I am OK with cuddling, but wrestling for girls?). Take kids to a dance recital where both men and women dance together.

We are to teach kids the social norms: how to listen, care, share, use nice words... Why should we try our best to confuse them with this particular social norm? Is it not a social norm any longer: boys are not boys, and girls are not girls? "The 12th night" is not a comedy any more, it is a reality show? And what will it be in 20 years from now?

I would appreciate any comments on this topic. Should we raise the kids according to their gender? Or gender neutral? Or try to let boys experience to be a girl, and girls to be a boy?

Here is Camilla, 15 months old, with her first Valentine's card. The boy came up to me,  put his card into my hand, and ran away. Of course, I didn't understand what he was trying to do - :)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Blog Love - Liebster Award

Update and bumped the date. One more award: so great! Thanks to everybody who nominated me and participated! Love you all!
Exciting! I've learnt a new word today. And it is a word of LOVE, so I really LOVE it!

Liebster, German, Beloved, Dearest, Sweetheart, Darling. The other forms are: lieb, lieber, am liebsten... And I LOVE the translation of this word into Italian; it just sounds so pretty: Carissimo.

If you are still reading it, thank you so much, and you are probably wondering now what I am in love with at the end of the day. I am in love with all the Mom bloggers for your great info, advices, support, encouragement, everything! Thank you for being you, and for helping me to survive being a mother - LOL.

And now here is this awesome award that made my day.  I'm honored and delighted!

Thank you, Jessica, for nominating me and the blog love! Jessica has a wonderful blog! Please, take a look if you can spare a minute! Pig & Dac

Thank you, Candice, for the double love! Candice is a Marine wife and a Momma for 3 boys! Check out her blog at  MY LITTLE CIRCUS & ME

The following apply when accepting this award:

     *Link back to the blog that nominated you
     *Nominate 5 - 11 new bloggers who have 200 or less followers
     *Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator
     *Share 11 random facts about yourself
     *Create 11 questions for your nominees to answer
     *Contact your nominees and let them know that you have nominated them

Blogs I Am Nominating:

The Padawan Years

Me... Plus One

With All My Heart

Laughing Kids Learn

My Teacher's Name Is Mama

Here are Jessica's questions for me:

1. If I was a fly on your wall, what would I have seen or heard last night in your house?
The family is sleeping, and I am working on the computer.
2. What's one beauty product you couldn't live without?
Lancôme eye cream.
3. If you could live anywhere, where would that be?
Atlanta, New York, Hawaii, I am not sure, it changes.
4. Dark or light?
Light :)
5. Target or Wal-Mart?
6. How many children do you want in total?
I have 2, and that's fine. Would love the third one, but my hubby said to chill out. Hmmm...
7. What's the best lesson you've learned in life so far?
Not to worry about past or future. Enjoy and appreciate a moment you live out now.
8. What's your parenting philosophy?
I try to follow mindful parenting...
9. What's your biggest pet peeve?
Dirty dishes in the sink.

10. What makes you happy?
When people around me are happy.
11. What are you most grateful for?
 To have my kids. I had different infertility issues while trying to get pregnant with both of them. I feel for those women struggling to become mothers, or going through decision making related to that...

 Here are Candice's questions for me:

1. What is your favorite drink?
Coffee, the one I shouldn't drink for more than 2 years now. Crazy!
 2. What is your favorite Makeup?
 3. What do you do for fun?
Write a blog - LOL.
 4. If you had to move where would you want to go?
Atlanta, New York, Hawaii, I am not sure, it changes.
 5. What is your shoe size?
Bigger then I would wish for. It just got worse after the pregnancy :(
 6. What color toe nail polish are you wearing?
Right now it's "Royalty reinvented" from L'Oreal.
 7. Favorite Season?
It used to be Spring. Now it is Fall, don't know why...
 8. Do you have a pet? If so what is it?
Our doggy, little red beauty, died in October, a few days before Camilla's first birthday. I am still very sad.
 9. Ice cream or candy?
Ice cream
 10. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I am thinking of getting back to school for a Master degree.

11 Random Facts About Me

*I used to love cats. Not all of them any more.
*I am happy to have a boy and a girl because I have an excuse to play with their toys with them ;)
*I love to wear summer dresses.
*My favorite season was spring. Now it is fall, I don't know why is it so?
*I love Scarlett in the book, but not in the movie.
*My favorite book is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
*Both times I was pregnant, all I wanted is to hide in the corner and knit baby cloths. Maybe because it helped me to concentrate on my thoughts and dream away.
*My beloved doggy, little red beauty, died 2 days before Camilla's first birthday. I am missing her so much!
*I don't really like cooking sometimes. Would prefer to spend time somewhere else.
*I made a conscious decision to stay at home with the baby for 3 years (hopefully). And every day I think about it and feel guilty for ruining my career.
*It is not easy to come up with 11 random facts: totally unrelated - LOL.

11 Questions for My Nominees to Answer

 1.Why did you start blogging?
2. Mountain hideaway or a beach house?
3. McDonalds or pizza?
4. Summer or winter?
5. Hot chocolate or coffee?
6. Strength training or cardio?
7. Computer or television?
8. Rolling Stones or Beatles?
9. Sidney or Paris?
10. Alaska or Hawaii?
11. Early bird or night owl?