Thursday, December 11, 2008

A long time...

It has been a very long time since I've updated this blog. The main reason is signing is no longer a major part of how we parent Annabelle. Around 15 months Annabelle language skills exploded. By 18 months she was speaking in 2 or 3 sentences and is able to communicate without signing. I have completely lost track of how many words she says. My guess is it is close to 200 words. She repeats almost everything we say (we have to be very very careful of what we say!). She also sings her ABCs and counts to 10! She's amazing. She almost always speaks in two or three word phrases. "More milk!" "Mommy sit" And she is becoming very bossy (like her daddy!). She will say to me, "Mommy get it!" and last night she said "Daddy Sit down!"
Annabelle still uses her signs although we stopped signing to her months ago. She still uses more, milk and please because I think those are the words she probably says the most. She says the words as she signs them too. And I think she uses the sign a lot for emphasize. If we don't get her more of whatever right away you see her little hands signing frantically!
Recently, Annabelle was struggling with an ear infection and pink eye. She was miserable. One night as I was holding her she had her eyes closed and was crying. As she was crying she signed milk (without saying it) and I knew she wanted her milk. I got her her milk and she settled down and was comforted and was able to get some rest. If she hadn't known the sign she may have continued to be miserable.
Another reason why I haven't updated in awhile is because I am expecting our second child in April. We found out recently we are having a baby boy. I am looking forward to all of his firsts and watching him grow up. I have loved watching Annabelle learn and look forward to watching my little boy learn to communicate. I also look forward to seeing their differences and their similarities. Most especially, I look forward to seeing my darling little girl welcome her new baby brother. The thought of which brings tears to my eyes.
I will be going on (another) break from this blog but will continue blogging when we start signing with baby number 2!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Teaching Baby Manners

Annabelle has been hitting me on occasion. I think one time she wacked me and I said Ow! and she has been doing it ever since. I think she thinks its funny. She'll come up to me and whack me and then say, "Ow!" Or she picked it up at daycare. I tell her to tell me she is sorry and she will sign sorry! I say you hurt mommy and you have to say your sorry so hopefully she is getting the message. I also tell her that we say we love each other with hugs and kisses.
She also signs Thank you. She has done it when I say, "thank you" or when I prompt her to say it to someone else but now lately she has been doing it appropriately. I gave her her teether the other night and she signed Thank you! Then the other morning I took her to the library for a storytime and she was playing with a little boy. The little boy handed her a puppet and she signed Thank you to him! Such a polite young lady! Except for the hitting!

Help, Hurt and Medicine

Annabelle is teething. She got two new teeth last week and is working on some more. We have been showing her the sign for medicine for awhile but there have been thankfully few opportunities to show her this sign. While she has been teething she has been signing medicine more regulary. Sometimes she just wants us to know that she sees the medicine sitting there. She started doing this one day when she was really fussing and I knew something was wrong. I knew she was trying to tell me something but just couldn't communicate it to me. Crying, she pointed upstairs so I took her upstairs then she pointed to her nursery. I took her into her room and I tried to give her her blanket thinking she wanted that for comfort. I got a big "NO!" with a shake of her head. I told her that I knew she wanted something and when we found it I would teach her the sign so next time she would have it. She then pointed to her dresser where here tylenol and orajel were. I said, "Oh, you want medicine!" I showed her the sign and she did it back to me. I show her the sign for hur to and said, "Your mouth hurts you want medicine." I gave her the tylenol and a little bit of orajel and she was much much happier.
Annabelle also got confused the other day when I showed her a picture of a family friend's daughter, Madison. I said, "there is baby Madison" and Annabelle signed medicine. I guess Madison sounds a lot like medicine!
It wasn't until this week that I saw her sign hurt. She pointed to her mouth on our way to drop her off at daycare and then signed medicine. She did this a couple of times so I knew she was trying to tell me her mouth hurt and she wanted medicine. Unfortunately I had none in the car. She made it through the day okay though.
Help has also become a wonderful sign for Annabelle. Everytime she was trying to do something and was having trouble with it I would sign Help to here and say, "do you want me to help you?" Now she does it all the time and she says the word. Which is the whole point of signing right? Sometimes she signs Help when she is trying to do something I don't want her doing. Like I'm going to help her climb up onto a high part in the house or close the bathroom door on me!
Happy Signing!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Language Development

From The Baby Book by William and Martha Sears:
"Baby's speech explodes from an average of ten words at fifteen months to as many as fifty words by twenty-four months, though many sounds are still unintelligible except to parents."
I have added a list of the signs Annabelle does and the words she says. Some of the words she says are ones only we can understand. You can see that she does about 30 signs and 20 words. That's a vocabulary of 50 words at 13 months! You're impressed aren't you!
I will try to update the word/sign lists as much as possible. It's fun to track what she is doing. I probably even forgot some!

How to learn to sign

I have added to the side bar some of my favorite books I used when learning to sign with Annabelle. I read all of these books for their tips and tricks as well as their games and songs. Each has a link to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Catalog where you can find the books.
Another way to learn to sign is to take a class. Some classes charge money. I run a program at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Carrick called "Read & Sign with Baby". It begins again in June. It is free. We will learn signs as well as have fun with our babies.
Reading to your baby is another great way to teach your baby to sign. Here are some of our favorite books. Any books can be used to sign. If you see a picture in a book you are reading with your baby. Point to it, say the name and do the sign in your babies line of sight.
These can also be find at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Martin
Counting Kisses by Katz
Spot Goes to the Farm by Hill
Peekaboo Morning by Isadora
Who Said Moo? by Ziefert
Where is Baby? A Lift the flap Sign Language book by Cryan
My First Animal Signs by Lewis
My First Signs by Kubler
Getting Ready by Lewis
Going Out by Lewis
Meal Time by Lewis
Play Time by Lewis
You can also use DVDs to learn sign language. I find it useful to see how a sign is done demonstrated by a real person. So, I suggest these more for adults to look at rather than babies. The American Pediatric Association recommends that babies younger than two years older should not watch television. The following DVDs are very good and well made and should be shared with your child.

My First Signs: See & Sign with Baby (Baby Einstein)

Baby Signing Time! Vol. 1 & Vol. 2

Signing Time! Multiple volumes available

My Baby Can Talk: First Signs

Sign with Your Baby

There is also more information on the websites on the side bar as well. Happy Signing!

Celebrating Annabelle's first birthday!

It's been over a month since we celebrated Annabelle's first birthday. She had a lot of fun with the cake. Here is a picture of her after she got into the cake. She is signing "all done".

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bear, Fish and Duck

Annabelle has been using a lot of signs lately to communicate. The first time my husband and I saw her sign bear was rather fittingly at the zoo looking at a bear. One of her favorite stories is "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" and we have been signing the animals as we read it. When we saw the brown bear at the zoo she looked right at it and signed BEAR and tried to say bear too! My husband was holding her so I didn't see or hear it the first time but he was so impressed and excited.
She has been using the sign for FISH often because she loves looking at the aquariums at the pet store. She also has signed FISH when we've looked at books and she has a toy fish she likes too. When we went to the grocery store the other day we were walking down the cracker aisle. All of a sudden she started to sign FISH. I said, "Do you see a fish!" I walked back down the aisle to find the fish she was looking at. Sure enough she pointed to the packages of goldfish crackers. Those were the fish she saw and wanted. I gave her the package and she carried them around the store until we checked them out. It was great knowing what she was trying to communicate. I'm sure not knowing what she was trying to say would have resulted in a big tantrum but she could express her wants to me and I was able to understand. Signing is great!
The other night when I put Annabelle to bed we were reading a book and she signed DUCK and made her quacking sound. I said, "Do you see a duck?" and she pointed to the picture in the book. I had never noticed a duck in the picture before but she sure did and let me know!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Signing Explosion

All of the books I've read have talked about the signing explosion that can happen around this age or stage of signing. Well, we have certainly seen an explosion of signing. Annabelle signs more, milk, drink all the time now. Her newest frequent sign is cracker. She loves animal crackers and she will sign this whenever she wants one which is often. I took her to the library the other day and she was walking around signing ball, which looks a lot like her sign for more, and I couldn't figure out what she needed more of. What she was signing was ball when we were playing with the toys. She also saw stuffed apples and she was signing ball.
I swear she was signing flower too the other day when she saw a flower on the cover of a magazine in the checkout aisle. She seems to sign it a lot too but it also looks like her sign for eat and she also looks like she's just touching her nose. So it is easy to miss.
Some people ask me if I am worried about her not talking and only signing instead. I am not. She has many words as well as her signs. She said mama and dada around 7 or 8 months (then both my husband and I were dada for awhile!). Besides that her first official word was "kitty" all though it sounds like "itty". She also says ball, bed and book but they all sound like "ba". She also says "cracker" because of her love for animal crackers! I have also heard her say what has sounded like "dog" before. We are constantly pointed things out to her that we know the sign for and signing and talking to her. Just because we sign with her doesn't mean we stop talking to her. If anything we are talking more to her.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Daddy and Bath

Last night Annabelle was trying out her signs. She spent the whole day with daddy as is the norm for her on Fridays and when I came home he left to go out. She doesn't usually cry when he leaves but she has been having a lot of separation anxiety the past few weeks. When he left she started crying and I took her to the window so she could wave bye-bye. She loves looking out the window and we stood there for awhile and she waved and watched him pull out.
A few hours later I said something about Daddy. She turned towards me and did her sign for BATH. I have seen her do this when she wants to take a bath or if Daddy is in the shower. I thought she would start going up stairs to the bathroom but instead she went back to the window and started saying "dada." I told her Daddy would be home later.
Later on she tried to do the sign for WINDOW again and started saying "dada." I had to take her back to the window and let her wave "bye bye" to Daddy some more even though he had left hours earlier.
I am trying to figure this out. Maybe she is associating the sign with BATH with daddy because he usually gets in the tub with her in his swim trunks or when he says Daddy he hits his chest like she was doing. Either way she was trying to communicate and did so with some success. I don't think she would have been able to do so without the use of sign language.

Friday, April 11, 2008


My husband and I began signing with Annabelle when she was eight months old. We began with the basics: mommy, daddy, kitty (we have two cats), milk, eat and more. Her first sign was "milk" which appeared soon after we began signing. For awhile that was all she would sign. And she would sign it for everything. When she wanted a drink she signed "milk". When she saw the kitty she signed "milk". When she wanted milk she signed "milk". We also watched her as she understood the signs we were showing her. I signed "drink" during dinner once and she looked right at her sippy cup so I knew then she understood.
Annabelle will be celebrating her first birthday next week and she not only signs "milk" when she wants to nurse but also signs "more", "drink" and "all done" on a regular basis. She also signs eat, bed, bath, shoe, socks, ball, banana, flower, hat and book less frequently but still with consistency. Just this week she has attempted the signs for window and cracker.
Signing with Annabelle has been fun and so helpful. She is becoming a toddler and already starting to throw tantrums when she doesn't get what she wants. With sign I know that she wants to nurse when she signs "milk" or that she wants her sippy cup when she signs "drink". And she gets so excited when we know what she is trying to communicate. It's fantastic! I can't imagine parenting without sign.