Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rainy Day Fun

Last week we had some rainy days, but enjoyed them with Tummy Time at the library, reading a zillion books, playing with counting bears, and doing some puzzles!  I hadn't gotten his puzzles out in a while and apparently he had really missed them!  I definitely need to make more of an effort to play with them!  He particularly likes the one with various shapes since we have been working on polygons lately (it looks similar to this).  I name them for him and he likes to watch me put them where they go.  He also tries picking up the pieces and banging them against the frame repeatedly (and chewing on them).

Also, even though coloring wasn't a huge success, I decided to keep trying, this time, with chalk!  It went over a little better, but he mostly colored on himself.  He had good time though!  If we keep trying long enough, he will eventually get the concept of coloring!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Approach to Flash Cards

We have been doing flash cards together since Xander was about 3 months old.  We started with math cards as described in How to Teach Your Baby Math.  Then we added word cards.  We are currently doing three sets of five words each, three times a day.  We follow the rules of doing them FAST and joyfully while making eye contact.  Unfortunately, lately Xander has been losing focus.  There is so much else to see and do.  So many muscles to try to master.  I have tried putting in a plain setting with no toys around, but I can't get him away from the distraction of his feet (or hands, toes, lips, etc)..  Today I decided to try a different approach.  Instead of facing him, I set him in my lap.  I held the flash cards in front of him and went through them as quickly as I could. It worked!  He was much more focused and we were able to accomplish the flashcards more quickly and easily.  He even stayed focused through a much larger set of words from a category that we had "retired" a while back.  I am glad we found something that worked!

Today, this is how my little stinker wanted to play.  He isn't very good at it and falls often, but would complain until I set him back up on the couch.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Unexpected Milestone

In the last few days I have really noticed Xander blossoming and developing.  He is so curious and wants to learn and understand everything around him.  He doesn't want to miss a thing.  It has even started interrupting his meals, which if you have been following the posts, are the most important parts of his day!

Most outside people would think he is just unhappy, but when he sees something new or interesting he gets a very serious face, concentrating hard.   Today I was playing rhythms for him on the drum and he just stared and stared trying to understand the patterns.  In between patterns he would coo, babble, and squeal, showing his delight.  He also had a ball attempting to beat the drum himself (although, like I said, looks very serious in the video.  I also think it was cute that he kept looking to me for approval and would get a huge proud grin when I would give it.  Sorry I didn't catch that).  He later attempted eating the mallet, banging the drum with his hands, using the mallet in his left hand, and banging the drum from the bottom rather than the top.  Quite the little scientist.

Then tonight, Xander surprised me again.  He is not a giggly baby.  He sometimes giggles when you tickle him a lot, but mostly shows delight or amusement by letting out an almost inaudibly high squeal.  Anyway, tonight he was watching one of his videos.  They were teaching about the differences between quarter, half, and whole notes.  As an example they were saying chick for quarter notes, goat for half, and cow for whole.  So they say "chick, chick, chick, chick, gooooat, gooooat, coooooooooooooooooooooooooooow."  Well apparently that was funny to his baby brain because Xander laughed out loud.  I have seen him talk to the tv before, but never laugh.  For some reason it really struck me as a sign of his growing up.

I guess I haven't written about Xander's movements in a while.  He is getting close to crawling.  He goes in circles on his belly a lot.  He can also go backwards relatively long distances, albeit unintentionally.  His arms are strong, so I am guessing army crawling will be soon.  He also can flip himself from sitting to his tummy in a way that would make any adult wince in sympathetic pain.  However, Xander's preference is to be standing all day.  If he is sitting near me, he will grab my hands in his to pull himself upwards.  If he is crabby, standing calms him down.  He isn't great at stepping, but he is pretty good at bouncing up and down.  I am excited for him to learn to crawl and walk, but completely unprepared for it at the same time!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gabby Xander

Xander wants to talk.  In fact, he does talk.  ALL the time.  I can't understand him, of course, but his tone is usually very very clear.  He jabbers when he is angry, when he just wants to complain, when he is playing contently, when he is excited, etc.

I have been having conversations with him since he was first born, and wonder if this has contributed.  The Doman books recommend talking to your infant, pausing to let them talk if they want, and then continuing the conversation.  You can definitely tell that Xander appreciates the attention.  I look forward to many many conversations with him.  I think once he starts talking in real words there will be no holding him back.  In fact, he has been watching the Preschool Prep Sight Words DVD lately.  It shows each word and says it about 10-15 times.  After the first few times the narrator says the word Xander tries his hardest to say it along with.  It is really cute.

Here is a short clip of his jabbering.  Unfortunately, the camera didn't pick it up well, so you have to turn the volume way up.  Oh, and a plastic spoon has become his new toy of choice.

Dancing Baby

A few posts ago I wrote about how much Xander loves music and had started dancing.  Well he is definitely still at it!  We can be shopping at Hy-Vee and he will just start bopping away to the music over the loudspeaker.  One of these days I need to get more music instruction for him.  For now we are relying on Trebellina and Your Baby Can Discover.  Anyway, I said I would try to capture him on video and here is what I got, with Brice's help.  It isn't his best dancing, but it is a little taste.  It is much cuter when he dances sitting down and gets the shoulders going.

Monday, June 20, 2011

River Museum

Yesterday was Father's Day and we spent the day with my dad (who is the best father in the world, by the way).  At my dad's request, I made blueberry turnovers for breakfast.  Brice had to work, so I took one to him there.  Afterward, we went to the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque.  It was Xander's first car trip and he did pretty well.  He slept most of the way until we got off the interstate.  We ended up having a lovely, although tiring day.  Xander enjoyed the greater sirens and paddle fish.  Grandpa enjoyed the old steamboat we got to tour.  I liked watching the giant, disgusting octopus.

Grandpa and Xander and best buds.

Watching the turtles.

Walking around the port.
Watching the big fish.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Baby Reading

In the last couple of weeks I think Xander may have made a breakthrough with reading.  I have been reading him some beginning reading books and tracing my finger underneath the words as I go.  He has started to really watch and pay attention to the words rather than just glancing at them with the rest of the picture.  Maybe it is because the things we have been reading have many more familiar words than our normal picture books or because the words are kept by themselves opposite the pictures.  Regardless, it sent me on the hunt for more beginning reading materials that meet my criteria.

Made sense to me.  It is only one of the many talking about teaching youngsters to read.  What surprises me is that with all the new articles about young children reading, I still get some negative reactions when I talk about reading with Xander.  I was holding him and looking for a particular type of book at the library yesterday.  I asked the librarian for short, simple books, with very large, easy to read type, and she gave me a strange look asking "for him?" When I said yes, for him, she looked at me like I was out of my mind and proceeded to tell me that they just don't have anything geared towards his age range so I just needed to try my luck with the board books or picture books.  Then she pointed me in the direction of the baby section.  I wouldn't say that I was offended, just surprised that a children's librarian, someone I would expect to be a big proponent of early reading, was so dismissive.  Oh well, maybe I will have better luck finding the books I am looking for at Borders.


What a wonderful week we have had since Xander got over the worst of his illness!  Granted, he gave it to me (and Brice), but still.  I had no classes, no tests, no work, only job applications and cleaning for showings.  It is amazing how easy it is to get all of his lessons in when we have most of the day, heck we could add more.  Getting that many days of uninterrupted time with my baby is so calming and peaceful.  Makes me content even when I am not feeling great.  He has been enjoying it also.  He is on much more of a schedule, which is so nice!  I can actually kind of plan around his naps.  He is such a happy little guy.

I know I am a single mom.  I have school to finish and then will have to work hard to provide a decent life for us.  However, it is still my deepest desire to be home with my child and have more (and foster care at some point in the future, but that's a whole other story).  I have a fantastic day care provider, but she isn't me and can't possibly love him as much as I do.  Additionally, I've tossed around the idea of homeschooling for years.  Josh and I had even talked about the possibility of offering to home school Madelynn. Now that my child is here, I want to at least attempt it all the more.  No one will care about him or has as much invested in his education as I will.  I know it is a foolish desire for a single mom, but I keep praying that I can figure something out.  Maybe I can work three twelve hour days and do some sort of home school swap with another mother.  Luckily, I have 3.5-4 years before I want to start!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Done with Dots!

Hooray!  Today is a special day!  We are done with our Doman dot cards 0-100!  It took us about 4 months but I get to put them away!  Xander loves them, but they are so big and bulky, it is hard to take on the go with us.  Plus, he will get his review through LM. Tomorrow or Monday we replace the dot card lessons with irregular polygons.  My baby is getting so big!

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Today I decided to buy Xander some of those sturdy crayons to see how he would take to coloring.  I let him choose his color and we started out in the high chair.

Unfortunately the tray on the high chair was too high for him, he had trouble reaching the paper.  So we moved to the floor.  He was excited about having two crayons.  Wonder how he got the red on his mouth.

Notice the blue on my floor...
After a lot of blue and red on my floor, I took the crayons away.  So of course, Xander ate the paper.  Unfortunately coloring was not a huge success.  Oh well, we will keep trying.  I am thinking I need to get one of those big rolls of paper and sit him in the middle of it.  Then he can color all around him and I won't have to wash the floor!

Eating paper is fun too!

That's ok.  Xander was pretty content to play with some dishes.

What Mommy got accomplished while Xander played on the floor.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sick Baby & a Dancing Fool

Goodness gracious the last week was one of our toughest yet!  It is a long story, but Xander was very ill.  A double ear infection, a nasty virus, an allergy to a flavoring, and an antibiotic he couldn't keep down.  Luckily, he is doing much better.  We have a new antibiotic, that will hopefully work.  The virus is gone.  He is eating again.  Hopefully he begins sleeping for more than two hours at a time again.

In happier updates, my kid is a little dancer!  It started last week when I was holding his hands and he kept bobbing his hips up and down.  At first it looked like he just had really poor balance, but then I realized it was intentional.  He started doing that more and more often.  Maybe because whenever he is in his jumperoo, I play music for him so he associates music with bouncing?  Anyway, a couple of nights ago I took Brice out to eat since he has been helping me around the house lately.  We were sitting and chatting while Xander sat in the highchair.  Well he started bobbing up and down to the music and even got his head and shoulders into it!  It was so adorable I started laughing antwith him, which of course made him do it more.  We came home after and went straight to the computer to play some music.  That kid has rhythm!  He was bopping and swaying, shaking his head and shoulders to the beat. Of course, he stopped every time I tried to catch it on video.  I was shocked, because, really, he is only 7 months and he already has a feel for music and tempo?  I mean, we have been working on rhythm and pitch lately, but I didn't expect to see any "results".  He LOVES his percussion instruments, particularly the drum.  I can also entertain him for quite a while by clapping a rhythm for him.  I guess I will need to get a "real" instrument into his hands as soon as possible, and maybe some dance or tumbling classes.  I will keep trying to get a video.
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