Thursday, January 28, 2010

Developmental Super Highway

During the past month, Clara's developmental progress has kicked into high gear. In addition to beginning to walk (see the previous post), Clara's ability to communicate has greatly improved. For those that don't spend much time with Clara, her verbal babble probably sounds like gibberish. However, it is apparent to us that she is trying to vocalize certain words with intent.

ah-gee = doggy
ah-duh = all done
muh-muh-muh = Mommy
da-duh = Daddy
ba-bee = baby
ki-kah = kitty cat
wee = wee (reserved for fun times on the swing during therapy and at home)
whoa = whoa (when the therapy swing goes too fast and she loses her balance)
up = up

Clara is also starting to purposefully use signs in concert with vocalization attempts. Her favorite sign is more. Since she first started to use the sign for more while she was eating, she seems to use the sign to tell us that she is ready to eat. We are working on the sign for eat and drink, but she prefers the sign for more at this point. She also purposefully uses the signs for all done, cracker, and yogurt. Clara waves at appropriate times to say hi or bye, and the girl is professional at blowing kisses.

During our IFSP meeting this week, one of the goals we established was to work with Clara such that she can communicate her desire when given certain choices. For example, at breakfast we will ask if she wants cereal or yogurt with the intent that Clara will learn to communicate her choice to us verbally and/or with signs.

Clara is also learning to do imitation play. On Saturday morning, she was sitting in her room with one of her baby dolls in her lap holding a small book in front of both of them and pretending to read a story to her baby. She was turning pages and babbling and having a great time entertaining her baby. She has also started to use random objects to pretend to brush the hair of her baby dolls. If she is playing with two dolls, she puts them together as if the two dolls were playing with each other in addition to playing with Clara.

On the negative side, Clara has decided that her job is to make the biggest mess possible if someone is not playing directly with her at all times. She will stand or kneel at a toy box and proceed to remove every toy by by immediately throwing it behind her. Keep in mind that she does not play with the toys before tossing them, she just grabs and tosses until the container is empty. Needless to say, Clara will be learning that cleaning up is part of her play time responsibilities.

Clara has also started to periodically hit. Generally she hits Owen when he is in her space or preventing her from getting what she wants. However, I have also seen her hit the dog and the sitter has said that she can sometimes be a bully with the other toddlers. Although she probably does not understand the concept, we have started to give Clara timeouts when we see her hitting. She is old enough to start learning that there are consequences for inappropriate behavior. Furthermore, it is important for Owen (and the kids at the sitter's house) to see that there is not a separate set of rules for Clara.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Step, Step, Step

For the past month or so, Clara has been toying with Ellen and I by taking steps while she is at our daycare providers house or while she is with our friend that takes her for treadmill therapy (refer to the last paragraph of this post), but not while she is with us. During physical therapy last Thursday (New Year's Eve), Clara finally showed Ellen and I that she could purposefully take 3 to 4 steps to get the toy she desired. It was also the first time she had demonstrated her skill for Jen, her PT at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Close to Home Center. Needless to say, it was a great way to end 2009 and we were all very excited.

Yesterday, our friend reported that Clara took ten unassisted steps prior to treadmill therapy, then proceeded to walk for 11 minutes on the treadmill. Considering that she started at two minutes with much complaining back in August, 11 minutes with no complaints was a vast improvement. After returning to the sitters house after treadmill therapy, Clara continued to demonstrate short bursts of unassisted walking. When she got home, she wanted no part of demonstrating her skills for Ellen and I, but eventually relented and showed us her stuff.

We have no expectations that she will be running around by the end of the week; however, this is a significant accomplishment for Clara and we are very proud of her.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Wildlights Part II

During our November trip to see the Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo we were limited on time and only saw the west portion of the exhibit. Owen was not happy to have his visit cut short and we promised him that we would return again before the end of the exhibit. In the blink of an eye, Christmas was over and we only had a few days left to squeeze in the return visit. Although the weather was a bit colder than in November, it was nice to view the exhibit with some snow on the ground.

View of the lights around the frozen pond just inside of the zoo entrance.

Clara all bundled up.

Owen displaying his rapidly developing "funny guy" personality. It is more fun to make a funny face than to smile.

Clara giving Owen a dirty look for being silly in her photo op.

Finally, a normal smile from the boy!

Better Late Than Never

It has taken a week and a half following Santa's visit to restore some sense of order to our house and I finally have a few moments to post. It seems like we just put the tree up yesterday but now it is at the curb waiting to be turned into mulch.

I suspect that this will be the last year that exhaustion will be able to restrain Owen's excitement past 6:30 AM. This year he figured out that if he got up to go potty frequently enough that he would eventually wake Clara up. Next year I suspect that he will try to conspire with Clara to formulate an early wake up strategy. I am about to receive payback for all those years that my brother and I woke up at 4 AM and tried to provide subtle hints to Mom and Dad that it was time to wake up.

Santa has been here. Let the chaos begin!!

Where do I start? This paper is too pretty to rip.

Santa delivered the one toy that Owen really wanted - the Fisher Price Shake n Go XTREME Speedway. Santa was nice to Mom and Dad and used Amazon's frustration free packaging, but had to add a picture since the contents are not visible on the box.

Ready for the inaugural race! Thanks Santa!

Eating breakfast amongst the clutter.