Thursday, January 29, 2009

Left Handed?

Since Ella first began reaching for things, she has used her left hand. I have watched this with resignation, reminding myself and others that babies usually don't display hand dominance until around 8 months or later. The more she uses her hands, the more I think she will be left handed. She holds the spoon in her left hand, reaches with her left hand, sucks on her left hand, etc. The picture at the top of this blog shows her eating with her left hand. Last night I had a realization when she was Johnny Jumping (did you know that was a verb?) - she always kicks with her left foot. At this point, I don't think I can deny that she's left handed.

When talking about this with other people, I invariably always say, "How am I going to raise a left handed child?" (I'm right handed, myself.) I invariably always get the answer, "Just like you raise a right handed child." Hmm.

Understand that I don't have any issue with the fact that she is left handed. There's nothing wrong with that. My concern is that I won't know how to teach her to do things because I'm right handed.

Me being me, I decided to Google it (another verb) and found that my concern is legitimate, and I am not the only right handed parent with this concern. There is a whole left handed world on the Internet that I didn't know about. I found tips for demonstrating how to do things, guides for teaching them to write, stores full of left handed products (even pens!), and information about challenges they face in this predominately right handed world. I was pleased to realize that I've already been accomodating her to some extent by standing in front of her to show her how to do things (courtesy of signing), rather than sitting beside her. Upon thinking about it, I also realized that a lot of the time when she's frustrated with what I'm trying to show her, it's because I'm sitting beside her and she's trying to imitate me with the wrong hand. Hmm.

It's very interesting to know that there are things I can do differently to help her learn, and when it's time to teach her to write she will definitely be getting a left handed workbook to show her how to form the letters in all her left handed glory.

Speaking of hands, this morning she started holding something in each hand at the same time. Until now, when she was holding one thing she would take something else with the other hand, then put down the first thing and switch the second thing to the holding hand. (Guess which one that was? The left.) This probably seems trivial to some, but I find myself more amazed at her fine motor development than her gross motor skills. Every couple of days she seems to be doing something new with those little hands.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Babies Don't Ride Well After Dark

Silly Dave and I. We decided to have a family date Friday night and go out to eat at the Olive Garden. We packed Ella into the car after picking her up from Grandmother's house, and away we went. She commenced to screaming and continued all the way to Alabaster. We made the rounds to Olive Garden, O'Charley's, and Longhorn in an attempt to find the shortest wait time, then decided it wasn't worth it. She screamed the whole time. We finally decided to eat at Firehouse Subs because I don't think either of us could face driving back home again just yet with the screaming baby in the backseat. We unloaded her and took her inside where she transformed into Happy Baby. She talked and smiled at everyone in the place, sat in the middle of the table and shook two bags of chips until I'm quite sure they were pulverized to bits, and generally just had a good time. We stayed there way longer than we needed to just to enjoy the peace, knowing that loading her back into the car would trigger another screaming fit. We weren't disappointed. I even rode in the back seat with her on the way home, and she still screamed the entire time. I told Dave that the next time we want to have a family date on a Friday night, one of us is bringing home take out. Do you know how long the drive is from Alabaster when the baby screams the whole way? It feels like an eternity.

Saturday we met Aunt Becca at the Olive Garden (no crying this time), and Ella had a grand time alternating between chewing on a breadstick and rubbing it all over her head and face. (She has a fixation right now with putting things on her head.) When it was time to leave, Aunt Becca picked her up and brushed the garlic crumbs off of her, and it became obvious that they would need to vacuum around our table before seating someone else there. I guess life will be that way for the next several years. We should probably increase our tip amount.

We also shopped for some new toys for Ella, since she has figured out how to work most of her old ones. We went to the consignment shop and spent $50 on what I feel certain would have cost at least $125 if we had bought it all new. She got some cars, pop beads (the giant ones), an alphabet puzzle, a nesting toy, a little truck tool set, a tap-a-tune piano, and a rocking zebra. The zebra might have been a bit of an impulse buy, but it was only $23 and it was so cute. It will be a while before she outgrows it, too. The nesting toy is great for stacking and kicking in the Johnny Jump Up. Her daddy taught her to hold onto the zebra while she rides him, and I taught her how to roll the cars and make car noises and how to use the tools to work on the little truck. Dave commented that I bought a bunch of boy toys for her. I did, I guess, but in my defense, I was looking for things to occupy her hands and there just weren't any girl toys that would. Besides, who really cares if she plays with tools and cars?

Sunday she fell asleep in church with no crying at all. I cannot tell you what a big deal it is for her to be able to fall asleep without crying or nursing. It amazes me that she does, and that I can put her into and out of the carseat without waking her up now. I never thought that would happen. I love it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Piglet in a Snowsuit

I bundled Ella into her Piglet snowsuit yesterday so that we could have a walk in the very cold wind. I bought it on clearance last spring, before I knew I would give birth to a tiny, human heater. Considering the child almost refuses to wear socks and spends the majority of her days pantless because she’s so hot-natured, I decided that a brisk afternoon walk would be the perfect opportunity for her to get at least one wear out of it. I was surprised to see that it fit her perfectly. It must have been just cold enough, too, because she didn’t complain about it at all.

I’m thankful for the cold this past week because it gave her an opportunity to wear all the thick cotton and fleece outfits that everyone has bought her – all with the obligatory short-sleeved onesie underneath so that she can be stripped down to a comfortable layer while in the house. Everyone thinks a baby needs to be bundled and blanketed and kept in a stiflingly hot house during winter. This is probably the case for most babies, but nothing makes her crankier than being hot and overdressed. For this reason, I’m that negligent mom you see out with her barefoot, jacketless baby when the temperature soars into the sixties. They (the infamous They) say you are supposed to dress the baby in one more layer than you are wearing. Not so with Miss Ella Grace; I am usually dressed in one more layer than she is wearing. I constantly get (in that lovely, passive-aggressive, let me berate the mom by addressing the baby way): “Where are your shoes?!” and “Your little legs are going to get cold!” and “Why aren’t you wearing a hat?!” etc. I dare them to dress my child the way they think she should be dressed and sit in the too hot house with her for any length of time. She’ll be stripped to her diaper and sitting on the front porch with steam rising off of her sweaty little body in no time. I know; I’ve been there and done that.

All that said, I’m sitting here trying not to feel guilty because I didn’t realize the high today is only 37 degrees and she’s wearing short sleeves (but she is wearing pants and socks). She’ll be fine in the house, but I would have at least put a long-sleeved t-shirt on her if I’d realized it would be that cold today. Oh well.

She’s so close to crawling that I just know it’s going to happen this week while I’m at work. We practiced over the weekend and she is now getting onto her knees from her tummy, and she’ll rock and move one knee forward then stop and collapse again. We installed the baby gate at the top of the stairs yesterday and I put the little plastic thingies in all the electrical outlets, so we are ready to go. I feel certain that when this finally happens, there will be no containing her. As busy as she is while sitting in one place, I’ll be constantly running after her. It will be like having a puppy again – even the part about trying to eat everything, especially paper products.

Sometime over the past week without my realizing it, she started using her pincer grasp (that’s the ability to pick up small things with her thumb and index finger). I saw this for the first time Sunday night when she took a cherry puff from my fingers using only her thumb and index finger rather than the full fist like she normally does. I was shocked and excited for her.
After her bath last night, she insisted on playing the keyboard with Daddy. I got some good video footage of her banging away on the keys and looking very proud of herself. I’m really hoping we have a budding musician so we can steer away from the cheerleader path in the future (the future that seems so far away but will really be tomorrow at the rate she’s growing up).

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Apple Bottom Jeans

Dave works with a couple of social workers who would repeatedly ask him what we were naming the baby while I was pregnant. He always told them we were naming her Shaquanella, and one of them always told him, "You need to give that baby a white name. Like Hope." They also always caught him singing the Apple Bottom Jeans song. So, for Christmas, they sent Ella a gift of her very own Apple Bottoms outfit.

This is the little desk that she fell off of twice on New Year's Eve. It belonged to her cousin, and Aunt Trisha passed it on to her. She's happy to finally have a place to do her work.
This is her pet lion. He earns his keep by riding her around the house so she can get all of her things done. He also likes to chase the kitties, but she's working on breaking him of that habit.

She can't ride it by herself yet because the tips of her toes barely touch the floor, but she knows how to prop her feet up for a ride, and put them down when we stop. She also gets off of it by herself, with me there to catch her of course.
Her newest chore is to pick the "dirty" spoons out of the canister and throw them in the sink for me. She works on it while I wash pump parts in the evening.

Once she's finished with all of her work, I let her have a relaxing bath before bed time. We just got the new bath seat last week because she's too long for the little tub. She likes it and gets super excited when I run water in the tub.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Baby Sign Language

We’ve been signing to Ella since she was about 5 months old. Dave bought me a baby signing book as a prize one day because he knew I was interested, and we started almost immediately. We use the following signs with her regularly.

Change diaper
All done
Soft touch

She understands all of them (maybe not “dog” so much because it’s a pat on the leg and she seems to miss that since it doesn’t happen in front of your face). The book says they usually start to sign back at around 7 months. She has been inconsistently signing her variation of “milk” for about a month now, but it’s suddenly become very consistent and clear. She signs while she’s nursing or drinking milk from her cup. When I dropped her off this morning, I was talking to Grandma about milk and she was signing it when I said the word. When I called to check on her a bit ago, Grandma told me that she was telling her she wanted to nurse this morning by patting her (Grandma’s) breast with one hand and signing “milk” with the other! Grandma told her that “Mommy does that,” and offered her milk in a cup. She didn’t want the cup. She continued to pat and sign. She was sleepy and wanted to nurse, so I think they opted for a cuddle instead.

Can I tell you how excited I am about this?! She is six and a half months old, and she just clearly communicated a want without crying or fussing – and she didn’t just say she wanted milk, she specified that she wanted to nurse rather than have it from a cup. Amazing. I had been wondering how that would work because the book says to use the same sign for milk regardless of whether it’s from nursing or a cup. Obviously, she figured out how to distinguish between the two. I’m inspired to start incorporating more signs into our vocabulary. I was sort of waiting until we had a breakthrough because I didn’t want to overwhelm her (or myself). I think we’ve had one.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Pearly White Chompers

Ella finally has teeth!! While I was bathing her last night, she smiled really big and I saw white spots in her mouth. I stuck my finger in there and I could feel both bottom front teeth! They have just broken through the skin, so you have to look hard to see them, but they are there. I stuck my finger in there several times just to be sure I wasn't imagining it.

Now she’s guarding them. She's using her tongue as a gatekeeper and she won’t let me feel them. We keep trying to make her smile really big so we can see them because she’s trying not to show them at all. Dave said she probably thinks I’m going to take them away from her. She's definitely using her tongue to play with them, so once the novelty wears off I'm sure we'll see more of them. She already tried them out on me - she leaned into me like she was snuggling and bit my arm. This is going to be fun.

The Piglet has also decided she is finished with bottles. The last time she was offered a bottle was December 22, but the last time she grudgingly took a bottle was the 19th. Since then, she has been drinking her milk exclusively from her cup when I'm away. I can't say I'm upset about this development, in fact I'm overjoyed because a cup is a lot less work than preparing and washing bottles after work every day. However, I didn't expect it to happen this soon or this abruptly; the child knows what she wants. I think drinking from a cup makes her feel grown up.

Her sounds are becoming more and more intelligible, so I don't think it will be long before she starts talking. According to Grandma, she clearly said, "Uh oh" on Monday when she was dropping toys off of the high chair. I haven't heard it yet, but I'm not at all surprised since we say that to her all the time. She's been making a noise that sounds like "Mama" for months, but she only does this when she's upset and crying so I'm not convinced that she's actually saying it. When I hear it plain and clear, I'll believe it.

I've been feeling guilty because I haven't updated her baby book since right after she was born. I just can't make myself fill in the blanks. I think I have issue with being so structured. Over the Christmas holidays, I re-read my blog posts about her and realized that I've captured nearly everything here. I've decided that I'm just going to take out the baby book pages that I consider crap and fill it with my own stuff. It'll be much more thorough that way, and I'll be much more likely to keep it up-to-date.

I realized that I have been blogging for two full years, and I've captured a lot of stuff that I had already forgotten. It was really interesting to go back and read from the beginning, to remember the things I had forgotten and to realize how much I've changed since I started keeping this thing.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Hello 2009

My new year officially starts today with my return to real life (i.e. back to work after my Christmas vacation). It was hard leaving the Little Lion at Grandma’s this morning. I have had so much fun playing with her for two straight weeks. She’s becoming a little girl right before my eyes.

Dave and I celebrated New Year’s Eve on Eastern time. At 10:47, he was one-eyeing the TV and I asked him why he didn’t just go to bed. He was waiting for the ball to drop at 11:00. I think we were in bed at 11:03.

New Year’s Eve 2008 was brought to me by the number 2.

Two is the number of times Ella fell of her little desk and hit her head on the floor.

Two is the number of times I bandaged Georgia’s foot and cleaned blood off the floor.

Ella and I were trying to nap when Dave came in to tell me Georgia’s foot was bleeding. I managed to extricate myself and leave Ella napping on the couch so I could see about the hurt paw. She must have cut it on something, and it was bleeding with every step so there was blood all over the living room carpet and the bathroom rug. Dave and I wrestled her to the floor so I could clean and bandage it, and in the midst of that the phone rang and woke up the baby, who started screaming. Getting the foot bandaged became a family affair as Ella had to be there to see what I was doing. Georgia is doing better, but she was styling with a pink baby sock for a couple of days just in case the cut opened and started to bleed again. The basement carpet still has blood on it, but I’ll get to that later.

Ella fell off her desk the first time because she sneezed and lost her balance. Of course I was across the room and didn’t have a pillow behind her. The second time, she leaned too far to reach her fuzzy cow and fell onto the pillow, and rolled onto the floor. It was a two inch fall, but it scared her. A little nursing fixed that right up.

We don’t believe in resolutions anymore, but we do usually set some financial goals for ourselves. We met our goals for 2008, and set a rather aggressive one for 2010 – contingent on both us remaining employed for that time, of course. I don’t discount the importance of tithing in our financial success. God’s math is always better than mine.