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Ready to Launch

rocket_launchBB spends his days watching LTD and in the process must feel like he wants to run with the big boys. Why do I say such things? Because even though BB is only 7 months old and can only army crawl he is trying to stand up and walk. Of course he is trying both at the same time and not using anything to hold on to, which has the effect of launching him forward and landing on his face. Lately, he has started to figure out that he may need to hold something when trying to stand up. I’m sure he thought this might make things easier for him but now instead of launching straight up and falling on his face, he now slides his face down the side of whatever structure he is using as his legs go out from under him. The moral of this story is that he is getting and going to get way more bumps and bruises then LTD ever did.

Modern Marvels

machineDon’t worry folks most of these exist only on the drawing board, but occasionally they will advance to LEGO or wood prototypes. I’m of course talking about LTD’s machine inventions. Whenever I ask him what he is drawing or building nine times out of ten the answer is a machine. He has designed a machine that shoots marshmallows and one that shoots candy. However, his greatest machine and the one he has spent the most time on is his self titled Halloween machine that shoots Halloween decorations. As I write this I am now just realizing that all his inventions involve shooting things out in wide bursts. Thankfully most of his machines use soft items but I imagine his marshmallow machine would be the safest.

The Cat’s in the Cradle….

I suspect that it is the most cliché thing in the world, a dad wanting to play catch with his son. Well, I’m here to tell you it has finally happened. Only it wasn’t me that experienced LTD first game of catch, but our friend Sarah. More on that in a bit. A few months ago, The Mommy and I were in the little guy’s room and he seemed to be into one of the balls we have made available to him. The Mommy suggested we play catch and so with us alternating sitting behind him and holding his hands we threw the ball back and forth. With our help LTD was able to catch the ball and every time it happened he let out not a victory cry but instead a full belly laugh. So the back and forth wasn’t really about developing hand eye coordination but the joy of listening to the little guy laugh wicked hard. Fast forward to a few weeks ago and he as ready for the big show.

Our friends Mike and Sarah hosted a Memorial Day petite soirée and the LTD was in the full no sit still zone. After chasing him everywhere Sarah grabbed the foam football and played catch with him. Before we knew what was happening LTD was catching the ball all by himself and getting ready for the NFL hall of fame. It was amazing, Sarah was counting down from three and then lighting tossing the ball wide side out and LTD was grabbing it up like a hug. Yeah, we got the video camera out and enjoyed some ‘did you see that?’ milestone moments.

Lately, it has been a little hard to get him to catch the ball due to his lack of focus. However, the real challenge has been when I use the phrase, keep your eye on the ball. He takes it very literally and starts squinting and walking towards the ball when I stop him and switch to the easier to interpret, watch the ball. I haven’t yet been able to truly capture the magic of that day and he doesn’t seem ready to play catch again soon, but the good news is that he has no problem watching two hours of Imagination Movers, so who needs sports?

I Started A Joke…

During he run up to LTD’s second birthday it felt like the little guy wanted to do something special at the party. He knew he would be the center of attention and wanted to have a little something up his sleeve to provide entertainment at the shindig. Well it turned out he wasn’t kidding about having something up his sleeve because he literally did. You see the little guy had invented his first joke. He slide his hand into his sleeve and begged us to answer the question, “where is it?” and since we didn’t know he was forced to pop his hand out and announce ‘here it is.” But as great as his joke was he always committed the biggest party foul around, he laughed at his own joke. So as much pride I took in the fact that he created his own joke it was always bitter sweet knowing that he showed bad form after the execution by laughing like a madman. Regardless of his behavior I still booked him on a summer tour of the Catskills, tickets and dates TBD.

You Talking to Me?

Now that LTD is speaking on a regular basis The Mommy and I have had to get out the special decoder computer to process a certain word pattern that the little guy seems to be stuck on. This behavior falls in the half cute-half nothing’s ever easy categories. That’s right folks, LTD uses the words ‘You’ and ‘Me’ incorrectly, interchangeably and by process of luck sometimes right. It took us a little while to figure it out after many false starts. He would order us to sit by saying You Sit, but what he meant was he wanted to sit. The worst problems occurred when I would try and say the following: If you mean me than say me if you are talking about me than say you. It didn’t take long for The Mommy to realize that I was being foolish. She of course immediately told the little guy that if LTD means LTD than say I or Me if you want Daddy to do it say you or Daddy. Either way the funny thing about the you/me situation is that now The Mommy and I can totally tell what he means while other people can only look on with confusion. He mostly says ‘you do it’ when he wants to hold the cup or something, which to the outside observer seems cruel that we are forcing him to do something that he has clearly indicated that he wants us to do, but outsiders don’t speak LTD.

The issue is beginning to resolve itself as the little guy is starting to refer to himself in the third person with phrases like “LTD do it,” but the you/me confusion is still very much a presence in our lives and you wouldn’t have it any other way.

I hope that was an S

When LTD began speaking his first words, they were of course not only cute, but simple. Things like up, down, boom, dada, mama and our friend, no. However, over time his vocabulary evolved and seemed to be limitless. For a while there it seemed like he was saying a new word a day and things were amazing. Our son was obviously a genius and we spent each day waiting for a call from Harvard. That all changed when we took him to the Aquarium. After that the only call we got was from Emily Post. I know what you are thinking? But I assure you it’s much worse. For you see in the beginning the little guy had a hard time pronouncing his S’s they were coming out like F’s. Not really a big deal basically cute. However, at the aforementioned Aquarium he saw his first shark. Well, I’m hear to tell you that when some one pronounces the S in shark as an F and does it while speaking toddler it sounds an awful look like a certain very taboo word. A word that makes his swapping of the “e” in deck with an ‘i’ sound quaint. Thankfully, as with most LTD related matters he out grew his letter swapping and now he can say shark clearly in case we find ourselves in mixed company.

Music on the Brain

And now for something a little different, an article co-written by Emily Patterson and Kathleen Thomas on the importance of music and development, entitled, Music on the Brain.

A child’s senses are stimulated to the fullest when he or she grows up listening to music, singing songs, or dancing to music. A child’s early development is positively impacted through exposure to music, as it works to strength the neurological pathways between brain cells. An early introduction to music is crucial for jump-starting childhood learning processes whether it be in day care, at home, or homeschool. Incorporating music into early childhood education strengthens cognitive abilities like memory and spatial reasoning skills. More over, research has proven that creating an educational environment that engages the five senses, with particular attention to hearing can positively affect a child’s mind and physical development. The Nemours Foundation, a nongovernmental organization dedicated to the health of children, produced a report concluding that children who actively listen to, play, or perform music related activities excel in math and reading, have higher self-esteem, are more focused, and are more likely to play and explore with their peers.

Music makes the greatest educational and neurological impact on children when they actively experience it. Active listening can be defined as clapping, singing, tapping, or keeping the beat to music. Further more allowing a child to create his or her own music will prove to be priceless. Passive music participation (listening to music) is also beneficial to a child but does not work to engage and develop neurological pathways as deeply. If you would like your child to experience the benefits of music on early childhood education and development, begin simply.

1. Teach your child basic nursery rhymes and songs. The Itsy Bitsy Spider, This Little Piggy Went to Market, and The Wheels on The Bus are nursery rhymes that have accompanying hand motions. The synthesis of music and movement enhances a child’s memory by linking the memorization of words with hand motions. This method also works to strengthen a child’s ability to do more than one thing at a time.
2. An upset child can be comforted by music. Playing certain types of music for a sad or angry child provides stability and repetition as the child learns to cope with new feelings and emotions.
3. Use any available opportunity to share music with your child. Play music when riding in the car or before bedtime! Researchers say that tones and notes characteristic of jazz and classical music work best to stimulate neurological pathways.
4. Play music for your child then ask he or she to distinguish the different instruments present in the music. This game works to sharpen your child’s divided, shifted, focused, and sustained attention. Each type of attention is crucial to the healthy development and functioning of your child. Divided attention can be defined as performing two or more tasks at once. Shifted attention is moving back and forth between multiple tasks without forgetting the rules and instructions particular to each task. Focused attention is concentrating on one task. Sustained attention is concentrating on one specific task for a long period of time.

The benefits of playing music and encouraging participation in making music can be huge. The developmental, emotional, and educational affects yielded from exposing your child to and encouraging your child toward a musical life are invaluable.

Emily and Kathleen are Communications Coordinators for the Atlanta day care facility, a member of the AdvancED® accredited family of Primrose Schools (located in 16 states throughout the U.S.) and part of the network of day care preschools delivering progressive, early childhood, Balanced Learning® curriculum.

What Did He Say?

Before LTD was born, one weekend The Mommy (to be) and I visited friends in Boston. At the time, our friends Kate and Joe had a daughter who was almost two. As the afternoon wore on I noticed that she was saying things and Kate would respond like she understood, while I could only look on with confusion. Turns out when toddlers say certain every day words for things like milk and water only rarely are they clear. However, toddler parents usually know exactly what they are saying due to experience and context. Now that LTD is approaching 24 months he is seemingly learning a million words a day and the only thing preventing him from starring in the Oscar nominated Kings Speech is that he has a wicked hard time enunciating.

Some of the words in the little guy’s repertoire that only The Mommy and I can understand include: “Hummus” translated as “Hass” and “Ahsss” is uttered when he wants applesauce. He says more and more words clearly now, but when he is speaks in a code only we understand I feel like we have a special connection. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention that while he knows a ton of correct animal sounds for some reason when you ask him what sound a cat makes he says, “aye.” And don’t get me started on his chicken.

Get Me Monkey

I would like to break from the world of LTD for a moment and write about an experience of a friend of ours. More than a few months ago, while visiting her and her son (who is a couple of months older than LTD), we observed something interesting. Her son was either hungry or tired and had a minor temper flare up. She quickly said, do you want monkey? Her little guy nodded in the affirmative, yes please and she handed him a super soft stuffed monkey. At the time of our visit, LTD didn’t really move much and so his temper was pretty much in check, but our friend suggested we get our version of monkey for the future. She felt monkey acted as a sort of security blanket, something that could instantly calm him down. We discussed the pitfalls of relying on such a device and as new parents we both settled on the side of there not being much harm in it at such a young age.

Armed with this new theory of providing LTD a “safe” toy, we choose a super soft Winnie the Pooh and placed said plushy in his crib. We figured it would make a good version of our friend’s monkey and if it ever got lost it would be easy enough to replace, avoiding what I imagine would be the meltdown of the century. However, a strange thing happened while the little guy likes his Pooh he doesn’t love it and it never became his security blanket. Yet, while Pooh lives in the crib to this day, as a lone sentry guarding against threats both foreign and domestic, LTD doesn’t rely on it. Now that he is older the only thing that ends a tantrum is distraction, time or sleep.

Hello

Hi is perhaps the simplest of greetings. Less formal than Hello and for that reason usually associated with youth. LTD has grown to embrace this salutation on a daily basis. The only real problem is that he tends to abuse the word in practice and meaning. He fails to truly understand it’s full significance by repeating the gesture over and over again. Technically, once you have greeted the person there is little need to greet them again. Surely, if they didn’t know you were addressing them after the tenth Hi, then they never will. Another issue with the little guy’s use of Hi, lies in his also saying it when people leave. Yeah, it is cute the first couple of times, but then he just seems like he ‘doesn’t get it.”

Yet, the greatest use of LTD’s Hi is in the supermarket. While in the shopping cart, he has taken it upon himself to travel down the aisles greeting everyone in the store with a cheerful Hi. Of course, most people smile, say hello or wave. However, a few people (or should I say robots) fail to react at all. When someone doesn’t respond to LTD’s Hi, he engages DefCon 5 and tries to break them. The other day he said Hi to a guy in the store and I think maybe the guy, who was staring at the salsa, didn’t know LTD was talking to him, big mistake. LTD let loose with a barrage of superfast Hi’s with such force and vigor that the guy finally had no choice but to submit. That’s right folks, my son bent a stranger to his will and received his returned Hi. Yes, he says bye-bye but that is for another day.