Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Oh, it's your buddy, Malachi! I should have known. You guys are pretty tight these days, aren't you.
Okay, why don't you run along and play with Malachi while I talk to our Internet audience for a minute...
Malachi was a Christmas gift from Grandma G. Silas bonded with him almost immediately. I thought up the name Malachi and Silas originally just called him "Kai," but now he pronounces his whole name. "Malachi, diaper on! Malachi, face cream! Malachi, ride front!" are all common phrases. To explain the last two, we put lotion on Silas' face for some eczema (which you might have noticed on one of his cheeks in certain photos). Silas makes sure Malachi and the rest of his toys, along with mom and dad and the cat, all get their "face cream" too. He also likes for Malachi to ride with him on his bike or the rocking horse, and he'll tell me if he wants Malachi to "ride front" or "ride back" meaning if he wants me to stick the doll in front of him or in back. Yesterday, he wanted Malachi to ride on the back, so I stuck him into the back of Si's overalls and Si happily skipped around the house with him there for quite a while.
Silas also likes to take off Malachi's tiny shoes and try to put them on his own feet. When I hear him say "Boot on! Boot ON" I know I'm going to have to explain to him yet again that Malachi's shoes are much to small for Si's feet. It is undeniably funny watching him attempt to put on a pair of shoes that wouldn't have fit him even when he was a newborn :)
Saturday, January 24, 2009
...So, when I last posted, I mentioned that I wanted to write more, but mommy duties cut my computer time short. I wanted to write a bit more about what I had been thinking of that day.
Silas is a great kid, but he's also a normal toddler and this means he has moments of frustration, anger and over-excitement. These moments can lead to hitting, biting, and outbursts. We are always striving to find ways to stop these moments before they start. The loop reward system (mentioned a few posts back) has been very successful thus far. He really gets it and so we are trying to give him loops when he has been biting/hitting/tantrum-free for a long period of time. Sometimes, I think Silas is simply frustrated because he feels he can't communicate his needs. I remind him to use his words because, really, he has quite a large number of them and in truth can communicate much of what he needs too. We are also trying to redirect angry energy by doing "mad dances" to stomp away angry feelings rather than hitting. When I write this, I feel like I'm giving the impression that he is a little terror who needs serious behavior modification therapy. I assure you, that's not the case. We are simply trying to reward for good behavior and deal with fixing the cause of bad behavior before that behavior even begins.
Anyways, I could go on and on about all of this, but the real point I wanted to make, before I blab too much, is this: Learning how to parent Silas, to gently discipline him, to raise him to be a thoughtful, compassionate person, has really forced us to reexamine ourselves. We know any negative behavior we exhibit will rub off on him. We know we aren't perfect people, or perfect parents. We are perhaps hyper aware of this and therefore, we've really become focused on awareness of our own issues and actions. One thing Drew said recently really stuck with me: "How we react to anger is a choice." Anger doesn't have to be met with anger, and keeping a cool head when your toddler goes berserk...definitely helpful. And that is where "house of kind words" comes in. If you want a peaceful child, you must have a peaceful family, a peaceful home. If we are quick to anger, Silas will be. If we are judgmental towards each other or towards Silas, he will be judgmental. If we react to stressful situations or outbursts with anger, he will grow up to do the same. I know this is all obvious on an intellectual level, but in practice, it takes constant reminding. It is so easy to forget Silas is in the room when we talk about certain things, but whenever we speak negatively, we now remind each other that this is a house of kind words.
As a family, we share the same goals: we all want to live peacefully with each other, have a happy home, and enjoy each other's company. I suppose it helps that Drew and I rarely rarely argue, but this is just one piece of the puzzle, and we are still striving to deal with some of the issues all people face. I am incredibly grateful to Silas for showing us that it's not just the toddler in this family that needs to learn (or maybe unlearn) a few things!
On a different front, yesterday, Silas said another complete sentence. Out of the blue, with no prompting, he announced "I like salsa." Yep. He may look a lot like me, but he is his father's son. He also learned the word iPod this week (it was bound to happen). He can now be heard saying "mommy's iPod, daddy's iPod, sync iPod!"
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Today, Silas burned a hole in one of my socks by putting it on the heater. He refused to nap for Drew and bit him three times. When I got home from work, he wanted to nurse and was asleep by 5:15. He's woken a few times but went right back to sleep after just a couple of minutes. Most likely, he'll be up bright and early tomorrow morning.
So, it's been one of those days. I wanted to write quite a bit more, but Silas has been stirring again and it doesn't seem like he'll quite settle down again for the night until I'm nestled up next to him. That's the trade-off for having him fall asleep so early. I'll have to continue on in another post.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Yesterday, we went to the Mochi Festival at Islandwood. The Japanese American community on Bainbridge Island hold this festival every winter. The video shows them pounding the cooked rice into a paste. Below is an image of them cooking the rice. I didn't take any pictures of the finished mochi. We were too busy eating them. Yum!
The event seems to have made an impression on Silas. On the way home, he kept repeating "cook rice, pound rice, mochi, mochi!"
Here's an article about the event.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Silas is awesome at turning just about anything into guitars, including sticks:
And, chillin' inside:
Giving pointers to Buddha:
Silas combines words all of the time now and occasionally makes something resembling a complete sentence. If I had hours to write, I could go on and on describing in great detail the strides Silas is making with language lately. Since I only have a few minutes...I'll just describe a few instances that stand out in memory.
Instance #1: About a week ago, Silas woke up, climbed over us and got out of bed. It's pretty standard for him to say things like "up, up. light. on. power. on. coffee. up, up, up" until we finally oblige him and get up and turn the light on. That particular morning, he said "turn on light!" I laughed and told him how funny it was that his first complete sentence was a command. He replied by saying "Please!"
Instance #2: Tonight before bedtime, we were playing together on the bed. I was kneeling and he was running around doing bellyflops onto the bed. He misscalculated and flopped down too close to me, slamming his cheek into my knee. After many tears and kisses to make it better, he had calmed down and was ready for "mom milk," as he calls it. He climbed into bed, looked at me, and said in a sad little voice, "Mommy's knee hurt Silas." "Oh, poor baby!" I said, "but excellent language usage!" I comforted him some more, but not before running out to the kitchen to tell Drew what he'd said.
We are SO close to having him speak full sentences as a matter of course!
Monday, January 12, 2009
As you can see, I'm very proud of my loops. My mommy said to stand next to them and smile for the camera. This is how I smile on command (and I think I deserve a loop for it)!
Okay, I think I'll let mommy take it from here...
A while back, I was talking with my friend Jill, and she described a positive reward system she uses with her boys, ages 4 and 2. Each boy has a jar and every time they do something good, such as be nice to each other or pick up their toys without being asked, they get to add a piece of pasta to the jar. Once the jar is filled, they get something they've wanted for a while, or get to go and do something fun. I thought I'd try something similar, but with my own twist. I cut a bunch of colorful pieces of yarn and when Silas does something "good" we let him choose a piece of yarn and loop it to the piece above it. We put a nail near the ceiling and the loops are trailing down from it.
Once the loops reach the floor, he'll get to do something special. We'll be emphasizing experiences over just getting an object of some kind. Right now, he'll most likely just ask to see Patrick. This is a positive reinforcement technique, so it's not used to threaten him, meaning, we never say "if you don't cooperate, you won't get a loop." He simply gets a loop if he's good and that's that. We give him two loops if he uses the potty, since we are really bumping up the potty training efforts at the moment. So far, this has been a successful endeavor and Silas seams to be getting it. We'll see where it leads.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Note: No toddlers where forced to wear hats for the making of these pictures. He insisted on putting on the second hat himself and got testy with me when I tried to take it off.
I think he would have gladly worn both hats for the rest of the day!
Monday, January 5, 2009
On Sunday, my sister and her kids came over to my parents house and they all got the chance to watch Silas open the Christmas presents they sent (which FINALLY showed up after being stuck in Seattle for several weeks).
Here's my sister and my parents, smiling at Silas:
In front of the computer are some of the things Silas brought out to show them, including his harmonica (he graced them with a long solo), his cutting board and wooden vegetables and fruit, which he sliced up for them, and his keyboard, which we encourage him to pound on, rather than our laptop.
The first picture also shows the little table and chairs that Grandma G sent to Silas. I'll have better pictures of that, and his newly redone little play area, in another post.
Hey, if you are a friend of Silas (or his parents) and you'd like to video chat, we use gmail to do so. It would be wonderful to say hello to you! Keep it in mind!
Snowballs by Lois Ehlert.
A family saves items like woolen hats, seeds, fruit, and buttons for just the right day, when they can put them to good use by creating an entire snow family. Once the snow melts, many of the items can be eaten by birds searching for food in the snow.
Given the weather we've been having over the past few weeks, this book seemed a pretty appropriate choice. In fact, I had just read this book to Silas on the day of our big storm, when we went out and made our own snowman. Because of this book, I made sure to use items like raisons and beans because I thought the birds would benefit from them after the snow melted.
Lois Ehlert is one of my favorite picture book authors. She hails from my home town of Milwaukee. Many of her books are at least somewhat rooted in her surroundings, so I always feel that we're getting a dose of the Midwest when I read her books to Silas. This is certainly true for this book, as there are photographs of real snowmen in the back, each one reminding me of the endless Wisconsin winters. Aside from that, all of her books are colorful and creatively designed. We have several other beautiful books authored by Ehlert, including two that just arrived for Silas from the LeClair family (Thanks guys! He LOVES them, and so do I!). Don't be surprised if you see some of these presented as future books of the month.
Not only is Snowballs a fun book to share with Silas, I also appreciate the fact that it teaches children to think beyond the simple joy of making a snowman to the positive impact their actions have on other living beings. Even after the snow family melts away and is no more, the birds can eat what's left behind. One of the most important traits to teach a child is empathy. This book hints at that importance, without being preachy or obvious. A lovely choice to put on your January reading shelf.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Today is a new day, and a new year, and Silas is looking forward to it.
We hope you are too, and that 2009 is filled with much happiness for you all.