The Christmas Gifts Getting the Most Use

It’s been a few days now. Certain gifts have been tossed aside by both BigBrother and LittleBrother alike. You know, like clothes. They are, however, also fighting over certain gifts. I thought I would share the few that are definite hits in the FireFamily household.

Hits with BigBrother

Other than his bed, BigBrother is digging his Dinoco Helicopter from the movie Cars. It was the only thing that he asked for this year: a blue helicopter. He was enthralled with it on Christmas morning. It had to travel with us on Christmas Day. It went with him to visit Papau and Yia Yia this weekend and rode with him, in his seat, on his way back home. It is rather noisy, I admit, but it also makes me smile. (Recommended for ages 4-8 due to small pieces.)

Second in the love line is the Fisher-Price Little People Fire Truck Ball Pit (that I mentioned in one of our fire fighter themed gift guides). In fact, this is greatly loved by both boys. I will admit that the 25 balls that come with the ball pit are not enough to cover your foot and, as such, you need to get more balls. We have 100 more in there now and it seems to be enough (though I could probably fit another 100 in there just fine). BigBrother loves this fire truck. He likes driving and pretending that Fire Pup is sitting next to him (as he is painted on one window). LittleBrother loves climbing in and out. This was a dual hit.

Hits with LittleBrother

As you can see in this picture, LittleBrother loves his Vtech Sit to Stand Alphabet Train. I’m really liking it as well even if it doesn’t have volume control. (I really like when toys offer two options for volume. It’s my sanity switch.) All the same, he likes putting the letter blocks into the engine and watching them shoot into the caboose. I think that in itself is doing wonders for his manual dexterity because he also, probably the day after Christmas, was able to put money into his piggy bank. Yay for toys that aid in development! BigBrother also likes this toy and has been telling LittleBrother all about the letters. A bit above him, yes, but right now sitting, riding, pushing and playing with blocks are acceptable as well. (Recommended for ages 12 months – 3 years.)

He also likes his Playskool Wheel Pals Triple Track Tower (that’s a mouthful). This was a gift from someone and, I must say, a good one. LittleBrother will play with it without sound, just simply enjoying sending the cars flying with a press of a button. BigBrother insists on sound. I’ve had to help LittleBrother learn how to place the cars but he even enjoys when they tumble down sideways. He’s rather easy to please. (Recommended for 12 months – 3 years.)

Hits with FireDad

I’m sure that his answer will eventually be his laptop. But it’s being sent off for return and repair due to a backlighting issue (or lack thereof). So, right now? Call of Duty: World at War for Wii (with the shot gun thing) is his favorite. (A small note: no, he doesn’t play it when children are awake in the house.) I would like to brag a second about this gift. Three days before Christmas, he was talking about it. He hadn’t mentioned it before but he was suddenly raving over it and how someone at work said it was awesome. As he is telling me all of this, I logged into Amazon, put it in my cart (along with the gun thing), used a gift certificate, used my free Prime shipping and smiled and nodded at him the whole time. I’m rather sneaky.

Hits with FireMom

I’ll be honest. I’m pretty easy when it comes to gifts. But my favorite gift this year? (And I got some really nice things, folks.) It’s a laundry basket. With reinforced handles. No, I’m serious. Not only do I now have enough baskets for my laundering needs but this one is now my haul-up-and-down-the-steps-to-the-laundry-room basket. You know, since it has reinforced handles and isn’t all broken and, therefore, doesn’t fold in half when I try to pick it up and hold it against my hip. The lack of folding in half, of course, allows the clothes to stay in all the way up the steps. It’s a miracle!

There were many, many other toys and books and articles of clothing and games and so on. In fact, we’re going to have to make a new rule about presents and birthday/Christmas season for next year. But more on that tomorrow.

 

Land Of Nod: Design for Kids and People That Used to be Kids

Communicating with a Thirteen Month Old

I’ve been receiving comments from people about something that I don’t usually give a second thought to until, well, I’m questioned. On another site, I was discussing how LittleBrother now signs to us when he wants to eat a snack or when he wants to go to sleep. Someone who didn’t know me or about my boys asked the logical question: is LittleBrother deaf? No, he’s not. But we learned, a little later with BigBrother, that teaching young toddlers signs really helps with the frustration level.

We didn’t start until BigBrother was about a year old and we didn’t ever include a whole lot of sign. He learned milk, bath, more and a few others and that was enough for us to notice the benefits. When LittleBrother was about six months old, I decided we would take it one step further and include Signing Time DVDs in our teaching. This has been the second best parenting decision I have made thus far. (Right behind babywearing because I’d still get nothing done or be able to go anywhere without babywearing sometimes!)

I bought Signing Time! Volume 1 and started playing it once a day (or so) when LittleBrother was about seven months old. To say that he caught on quickly is an understatement. I soon ordered Signing Time! Volume 2 and he learned even more. As of now, with Volume 3 having just joined our collection on Christmas Day, he comprehends nearly 30 signs. He can actively sign 12-15.

I know some people wonder why teaching American Sign Language (ASL) to a hearing child serves any purpose. I’ll simply quote Signing Time’s FAQ’s and then expand on it with our personal story.

Most children are not developmentally ready to speak until approximately 2 years of age. Babies are developmentally able to communicate with signs much earlier than that. Some studies indicate children as young as 5 to 6 months of age can communicate with limited signs. The inability to communicate can cause frustration and tantrums for both the parent and the child! Sign language is a wonderful tool that allows even very small children to express themselves. Most parents that sign with their babies talk about an unexplainable bond that is felt when their child communicates so early!

The Fire Family has found this to be true. LittleBrother absolutely grins from ear to ear when he tells us something and we understand. Sometimes he even claps when we simply “get” what he is trying to communicate. It’s adorable. It’s also helpful. I normally serve morning snack around ten in the morning. On days when someone forces us to start our day early, it is nice that LittleBrother can tell me that he wants to eat. What’s more helpful is the sleep sign. While we have a rather predictable schedule, it’s nice to know when LittleBrother has simply had enough of being awake and is ready to start winding down. It is also a clue, if it is over an hour before bed, that he needs some extra cuddles and time or meltdowns will occur.

It is, of course, rather hard to capture signs on video as I’m usually in the middle of actively communicating with him when he signs. If you ask him to sign something that he doesn’t want at the time, he looks at you like you have two heads. You know, like when you try to get your three year old to sing the ABC’s for their grandmother and they look at you like, “Why would I want to do that now?” And then you look like you’re lying to impress your relatives. Yes. It’s kind of like that. But, trust us, LittleBrother is a great signer. Anyone who has spent any time with him in the past month or two has witnessed it, communicated with him and, in essence, learned from a thirteen month old.

As an added bonus, since adding the DVDs to our library, BigBrother has also relearned his previous signs and added new ones as well. Not only is he improving his own vocabulary but he acts as a translator when others don’t know what LittleBrother is trying to sign. It’s really quite adorable.

See for yourself.

We love Rachel Coleman and her Signing Time products. Yes, we could just as easily teach the signs ourselves, I suppose. But if you get Signing Time, Volume 3 and watch the Silly Pizza Song, my guess is that you won’t be able to master that in one passing. (Heck, I can only, seven months later, say that I’ve just barely mastered the whole Signing Time credit song.) To boot, Rachel has a blog and, most recently, a twitter account.

As I’m still in the spirit of giving, I’d like to give one lucky reader a choice of Signing Time Volume 1, 2 or 3. (I’m only offering up one of those three as I can personally vouch that they’re awesome.) You choose and I’ll have it shipped directly from Amazon to the address of your choosing. (So, grandmas can have it sent directly to grandchildren and what not!)

How to enter?

1. Leave a comment about who would be benefiting from winning (your child, grandchild, someone somewhere) and why you think that child/person could benefit from this DVD. Also state whether you would choose Volume 1, 2 or 3. (You can change your mind if you win and pick a different volume. I’m easy.) One comment only for this step.

2. Post a tweet on your twitter account! Use this URL (  http://tinyurl.com/SDBsigns ). Also, please use the hashtag: #SDBSigns when making a tweet. (While not necessary, feel free to follow me. I’m FireMom!) You may tweet once per day and come back and post an individual comment (don’t post your tweets in the option/comment #1) for each separate tweet (one per day).

That’s all this time. Again I will have a spreadsheet with all of the entries and pick via random.org. I will leave the giveaway open through January 5th at noon. At that time, I will close comments, eat my lunch and contact the winner via email. The winner will have 12 hours to respond or I’ll move on to the next random winner. Once we have a confirmed winner, I will announce it on the blog. Winner’s choice of Volume 1, 2 or 3 will be shipped direct from Amazon with two day (Prime!) shipping. Tracking number will be passed along so the winner can track it.

Even if you don’t win, I recommend either buying one of the Signing Time products or checking to see if your library system carries any of them. (Ours does! That’s how I first decided to make the purchase. It’s always good to check something out first. I know!)