Monday, September 27, 2010

Lola's Expanding Vocabulary

The Whomptons and Strictly Pediatrics steadily have worked with Lola in 1) increasing her vocabulary and 2) making her use her words to communicate meaning.  Today we were asked to guess how many words she knew.  We guessed 50-100 and I mentally started listing them while rocking Lola to sleep tonight.  Here's her speaking vocabulary thus far:
mama, daddy, Raina, baby, dog, cat, kitty, my, moo, cluck, cock-a-doo, hoot, owl, neigh, pony, duck, bird, fish, frog, shark, bear, bunny, turn, chair, dino, cracker, cook (cookie), gum (gummi), milk, water, cup, uh-oh, cheese, apple, banana, car, bus, choo-choo, choo (also what she calls a plane, although she points to the sky for this one), chalk, bubble, boat, bike, walk, run, jump, rock (she understands and uses both the verb and noun meanings), ball, girl, book, help, up, down, open, close, crayon, shirt, sock, shoe, jacket (it doesn't sound like jacket, but it is what she means), diaper, pee, poop, wet, keys, I, bite, one, two, blue, yellow, block, "Good call Bob" (she actually says this phrase, which is hysterical), tickle, belly, mine, head, eyes, ear, nose, tongue, foot, feet, toe, where, go, boo!, zoo, dust, Elmo, and dunno (which she says when she doesn't know).

We're still waiting on the word Samantha or some adaptation of it. 
Daycare was right.  The more words she has in her arsenal, the less likely she is to use her teeth as her communication mechanism.  Her biting is down significantly, hooray!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Long Line of Expletives ...

Lola is head-strong, in addition to being body strong, so when she declares NO! she means it. And that declaration has emerged at bedtime. Twice in the past four days, Lola has refused to let her parent go when we went through the bedtime routine. No amount of consoling worked and both times resulted in Lola's climbing / falling out of her bed. Insert loud and forceful expletives here. Tonight's incident was much worse than the previous one. Not only did she get out of her crib, but she came into the living room twice. We audibled to setting up a cot in her room and she happily laid down on it, but if we left the room then so did she. Eventually we just shut the door on her. She opened it and came out, we caught her and returned her to her cot, calmed her down and walked away, only to repeat the same process two more times. The final action was to have Eric barricade the door while Krystal sat next to the cot and tried to convince Lola to lie down on it. Then I sat next to her for 10 minutes until she was goodly asleep.

Lola's night terrors make this situation even worse. Lola screams out -- terrified, horrible screams, sometimes also shouting "NO! NO!" -- each night. She calms down immediately if a parent comes in and tells her everything's okay and to go back to sleep; she promptly lies down, is covered up, and that's that. Those parent-child interactions last about 10 seconds, but each one leaves me jarred and anxious. Last night saw five separate incidents, plus a very early morning wake-up call from Lola as well.

We put in an order for toddler sleep books from Amazon; here's hoping that at least one useful idea comes from them. Poor Lola, and poor Lola's parents.

Our Little Athlete

Of our two children, Lola is by far the more active one and she grabs (or makes) any chance to run, climb, jump, etc. Her favorite work is GO and she embodies the word. At this point, she can do all the climbing structures at three separate playgrounds (excluding the climbing walls, because we yank her from those each time she tries). She sees Raina climb something and then says "my turn!" and goes right at it. Right now she is practicing her jumps and forward rolls in addition to climbing up and down the stairs like a big girl and without assistance. She delights in throwing and kicking balls and running all over the place. Eventually we'll enroll her in some sort of baby athletics but right now it's tremendously fun to watch her make her own activity at every turn.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Raina's Stories

One day I was downstairs playing with my dollhouse. I had a new place for it. I liked it there until Lola went in. And then I said "No, Lola!"

One time I was at school and I asked Ms. Neary if she wanted to know how to make eggplant parmesan. And she said she did not know how to make it. I told her that I would ask my mommy if she can write it down on a piece of paper.

One time I was in P.E. and I roller skated. I roller skated off of the carpet on to the wood and my teachers roller skated too. It was new so I was a little scared but it was okay. If I fell down, I could get back up again! I fell down a lot. It was lots of fun.

One time I was playing hide-and-go-seek with Mommy and Lola. I found a hiding spot under the couch, and a place in the closet that Mommy had, and in the bathtub, and in the pantry. Well, Mommy and Lola thought I was downstairs but I was in the pantry! And they looked for me for a long time, and then they found me. I went under Daddy's pillow, pretended I was a turtle. Daddy doesn't like to have his head on a pillow, so he doesn't really use it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Raina is becoming a full-fledged reader!

Raina is an avid lover of books, and she has migrated into the world of studying books on her own. Matching up with that, I wondered how she might do with the BOB Books, which is a collection of incremental beginner readers. In March, Raina and I breezed through a few books, worked through a few more, and then struggled to finish the first set. Each book required a significant amount of mental energy and focus, and by the end of the first 12 books, she needed a serious break.

We picked up the 2nd set this summer and read maybe 5 of the books. Through the five, she needed a lot of assistance, and I worried about her 1) feeling unsuccessful and 2) giving up. So we took another break until this past week.

We pulled the 2nd set of books out on Thursday and she read four straight without a mistake! Each time she arrived at a word she didn't immediately recognize, she sounded it out and pieced it together without my prompting her to do so. The triumph on her face at the conclusion of each book was priceless. We read all 12 books this weekend, and sent off for the last three sets from Amazon. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the transition into set 3 goes smoothly.

What's fascinating to watch is the concentration she shows when reading. She requires the ideal learning environment to perform: quiet, well lit space, no distractions (no talking, no Lola), and one-on-one attention. Without that set-up, she struggles and makes mistakes, but as soon as we return to quiet (and Lola is abducted by Eric) Raina zooms through the words without pause.

A few times this weekend Raina volunteered to read books to Lola. What wondrous moments those were!

Lola Bites, Round Four

Lola bites. This is nothing new, and I think we've been dealing with Lola's biting for well over 6 months at this point. Daycare and we had taken certain measures to extinguish the behaviour, and we thought success was ours when she went three whole weeks without biting someone. It was glorious and, unfortunately, short-lived because then she started biting again.

Then we received the much dreaded phone call from the daycare director: "Please come in for a meeting so we can discuss your child's biting." Eric and I were certain that the meeting was the prerequisite conversation before kicking out our child, and we were very nervous. Instead, the director wanted us to know all the new things they were going to try to extinguish the behavior. Daycare is adamant that once her ability to communicate improves, then she'll stop biting altogether.

So, to prevent Lola's biting nature,
- she is always in a group of no more than 3 other children
- she is grouped with kids who she tends not to bite
- she receives behavioral therapy each day
- and she has one-on-one work to increase her speaking vocabulary.

And on the home front
- we are forcing her to sleep more hours each day
- we are drugging her with an allergy nasal spray
- we are working continuously on her speaking vocabulary
- and we drop her off later and pick her up earlier from school.

The days on the new system have been wonderful for Lola, and the daycare workers have reported that she seems like a totally different kid. Yesterday, someone was blocking her favorite toy. Her traditional response has been to get frustrated and then bite, but instead she said "Move please." And today someone tried to take her book, and she said "NO! My book!" and then she moved away from the situation.

She is thrilled that her words can be understood by others and that actions occur as a result. Earlier this week, she walked to the fridge and said "Milk, milk, milk!" When I opened up the fridge and gave her the cup, she literally did a happy dance of joy. She wandered off with her milk glass, and then a few minutes later we heard her crying. She had lain down on her diaper changing station because she was ready to go to bed, she needed someone to change her diaper and put her in the crib, and she upset we hadn't followed through on the "milk" command with a "put me to sleep" action. Lola has never put herself to bed before, and maybe now that she has the words, she'll tell us she wants to go to sleep earlier.

We are incredibly proud of her for 1) not biting, 2) for using her words, and 3) problem solving.

What Raina Knows ...

The information that Raina randomly inserts into conversations often surprises me. Today's two examples:

Before school, she draws this incredibly elaborate full-white-board sized picture, which seems like a mountain landscape scene. Here's a transcript of the morning's converation.

KSW: Wow, what a lovely picture! What did you draw?
Raina: It's Mount Fuji. Did you know that Mount Fuji is a mountain AND a volcano? It's in Japan!
KSW: That's great, Raina! Are you studying about this in school?
Raina: Nope, I just knew it.
KSW: Oh.

Later this evening, Raina appears before me, contorts her body into a very distinctive yoga position, promptly wobbles, and proclaims "This is Tree Pose!" It certainly was and she was so proud to show me. But that's not what they're doing in PE, so who knows from where she picked up that piece of information! (The adult image was marred slightly when I noticed this huge amount of toothpaste on her upper arm. When I asked her, she said, "Oh, yeah. I spilled." And even though my brain replied "You 'spilled' a significant amount of toothpaste on your bicep?! How in the world?" my mouth replied "Oh, okay. Clean it up kiddo.")

Raina is always good for a surprise.