Thursday, February 25, 2010

You Likey?

Don't you feel so much better coming to my blog now? I know I do.

Custom blog designs are not cheap. But, in my opinion, they're not overpriced either.

I used to think, "Who would pay that much for a custom blog design?" Just post and publish. Done.

When I first started my blog I said it was to keep family and friends updated on my life with kids. But that was just a cop-out reason because here's the thing about me. I'm not just a blogger. I'm a writer first. I need to write. Writing makes me a better wife, mother and overall person.

But lately my writing has felt, well, a bit dull. Every once in a while I'd sit down and write out a very thoughtful piece. And it was great. But those ideas weren't coming to me as freely anymore.

My mom and Brian's mom were avid cross-stitchers as young mothers. My mom made her own wreaths and she hand-sewed each of our Christmas stockings. ALL of Brian's mom's food was made from scratch. And still, both of our moms read books more often than they drank water.

"How did they find the time?" I once asked Brian.

The lightbulb went on and I quickly answered my own question. There were no home computers back then. And there certainly was no easy access to this thing we call the Internet.

All these things they did, that was their creative outlet. Doing those things made them better wives, better mothers and better well-rounded individuals.

Writing is my creative outlet.

And that boring, green, cookie-cutter design was leaving me uninspired. I needed to get my mojo back.

So I contacted Jo-Lynne over at DCR Design and she came back to me with some lovely ideas that I think fit my personality perfectly. Don't you think? (Jo-Lynne also has a hilarious personal blog and spills the beans on a whole gamut of products over at Reviewsings.)

Here's a little known fact about Jo-Lynne: She can perform sex changes. OK, so they're not the kind that'll get you on Oprah. But she did change that cute little baby character up there from a total boy into a total Lucy girl with just a few swift clicks of her mouse. So cute!

Maybe I'll make some more changes, maybe I won't. For now I'm just going to sit back and breathe in the fresh air that is my new blog design. Won't you join me?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

STOP! Don't Change That Website!

I've got some exciting new changes coming to my blog.  Actually one of them is already live.  If you look up in your website address bar you'll see that I've now got my own domain.  How cool, right?  If you go to the old address (mamanash.blogspot.com) you'll be automatically redirected to the new address.  If you've got my blog saved in your favorites or in your RSS feed go ahead and change it to http://www.mamanash.com/.

After blogging regularly for nearly three years I think it's safe to say that I'm  here for the long haul.  I mentioned getting my own domain as well as a customized design to Brian and he, being in the industry of sales & marketing, loved the idea and encouraged me to go for it.

So keep your eyes peeled.  Fun stuff coming!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Fight Night

Written by Brian about The Bachelor - Week 7 & 8

“And now…the moment you’ve all been waiting for….Tyson – Holyfield!”

We’ll get there eventually, but first let’s cover the previous week. Gia didn’t get a rose. Ali begged to come back. I was out of town. We fast-forwarded it in about 10 minutes before watching this week’s episode. I’m not sure if that was even worth it. On to the show!

I’d have to say, there is a lot of crap thrown into the two-hour Woman Tell All episode. Not unlike the previous eight shows we just watched. Like how about the ten minute saga showing previous bachelor and bachelorettes drinking themselves into comas in Vegas? Does anyone really care? Unless there is a fight or Alan shows up trying to get a sig on his beeper, I’m not interested.

Eventually Chris Harrison gets to the part where he starts interviewing the ladies. Michelle showed up wearing a tuxedo and a mechanical arm. No…that was just my imagination. She was actually bald, smoking tea leaves, and holding a picture of Richard Moll. No…just kidding. I’ll stop now.

The interview was pretty boring. This will become a theme. Chris Harrison (Warlord/Sith Lord) asks only the tough questions; girl in “hot seat” denies all allegations.

Chris Harrison, “Michelle, some girls have said that you are crazy, whack, funky. What’s your response?”

Michelle in Joker voice, “No, I’m not.”

And in this corner…the challenger, wearing 10 lbs of silicone and a dress made of men’s souls….Rozlyn! And in the other corner…The Emperor of Disaster, “He lives in America!”…Chris…Harrison! They even show Rozlyn shadow boxing down corridors behind stage. The Bachelor is really helping out my analogy.

I’m wondering how they could have done an 80s training montage before the showdown. Chris Harrison sharpening pencils and writing down questions. Rozlyn modeling. Kenny Loggins blaring in the background.

Before she comes out, Chris Harrison asks the other girls if they saw anything between Rozlyn and the staffer. And they did…a lot.

Chris Harrison gets his initial connecting jabs. “Did you have a physical relationship with the staffer? No relationship? No actual physical contact? Egon? No touchy touchy? Nothing?”

Rozlyn struggling with the lies, “No. Absolutely not. No touchy. Absolutely not.”

Then Chris starts with the uppercuts. “Girls, tell her about all the crap you saw.”

They don’t mess around at this point. Rozlyn is visibly shaken. Chris Harrison starts talking about how the staffer lost his job, they were friends, and it was all her fault. Gut shot! Gut shot!

We’re at the breaking point. This is where you think she finally might admit it. But she doesn’t. Tyson doesn’t go down, he goes nuts. “Yeah, that’s news to him. Especially when you hit on his wife in New Zealand. He thought that was crazy.”

She bites Chris Harrison’s ear off. You’re right Roz, that was crazy. Totally random. Tyson. It happened. No jokes necessary.

Chris Harrison’s eyes turn red like the scene in Teenwolf when MJ Fox asks for a keg of beer. He says he won’t dignify that comment with a response. That was the end of the show. I really have to admit, that was entertaining. I need a shower. That is all.

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Is It Summer Yet?

I know green grass and spring flowers are a long way's off but there's no such thing as being too prepared, right?


And if anyone out there knows of an Elton John look-a-like contest please inform Lucy.  She'd like to enter.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Under the Table and Dreaming

I just love that my kids are beginning to reach the age when they can start to play together.  Lucy is old enough to move around and understand simple games.  And William is mature enough to know he shouldn't take advantage of the fact that he's older and bigger than his little sister.  Well, most of the time at least.  What would a big brother be without a few blows to the head, right?

Better Than Granola Bars

My mother-in-law has been making carob balls for us for as long as I've known her.  Do you know what carob is?  Neither do I.  Best I can tell it's some sort of healthy alternative to chocolate.

Whatever the case these balls are delicious.  They are healthier and easier than making your own granola too.  My kids eat 'em up.  Shhhh...don't tell my pediatrician my almost-10-month-old is in love with peanut butter.  Oh crap.  And honey too.

Carob Balls

1 stick of butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons carob powder
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup dry powdered milk
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup Rice Krispies
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats

Directions:
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Form into balls and place on a cookie sheet.  Let balls sit in refrigerator for 30 minutes to one hour to firm up.  Enjoy!

If you have a hard time finding carob powder try looking in the bulk bins in the healthy and organic section of your grocery store.  And if you still can't find I'm sure you could substitute cocoa powder.

I should note that I LOVE nuts so ideally this recipe would include almonds or walnuts.  But since I've already broken so many rules with my Lucy girl, I've left them out.  But if you enjoy nuts throw in a half cup or so!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Head Strong

Tuesday marked three months since Lucy's surgery.

I think it's fair to say that Lucy is officially recovered. She was noticeably back to her old self two or three weeks post-op but her incision took longer to heal than I would have thought. Her stitches had all fallen out (thanks to a little encouragement from mama) by Christmas. But some of the scabs remained through the end of January.

It's just now that I'm starting to feel comfortable running a comb through her hair. And she needs it! My little Chia Pet come to life.

When family and friends see her they all make the same two comments:

1. "I can't believe how different she looks!" (In a good way, of course.)

2. "You can't even tell she had surgery!"

I would agree with both. Of course I'm the mama and every mom knows every bump, mole and marking on their child better than they know the back of their own hand. So I still notice the faint line where her hair parts from the scar. But I realize that the general population does not see this the way I do and in time, as her hair continues to grow, I probably won't notice it anymore either.

Today our Lucy is a joyful, curious little thing. She's so happy and trusting to be around other people. She exhibits no sign of stranger anxiety. Sometimes I feel guilty taking advantage of how easy it is to leave the room, hand her off to a friend for a minute, etc.

It's those thoughts that still make me wonder how I was able to hand over this smiling little girl to the doctors and nurses knowing that when I would see her again she would be in excruciating pain. We did it. But not without the help of family, friends, kind strangers and, not least of all, God.

It taught me the true strength of the human spirit. Scratch that. It taught me the true strength of a mother's spirit. We never know how capable we really are until we're on the other side of the mountain. Then we can finally say, "Wow, did I really do that?"

I took some head shots of Lucy this morning for comparison's sake. The sun was shining brilliantly into the kitchen so I sat her up on the kitchen counter and started snapping away. The sun did not make it easy to portray her head shape but it did illustrate what beautiful, sunny little girl she is.

Previous Head Shots:

Before Surgery

5 Days Post Surgery

Three Weeks Post Surgery

Today's Head Shots:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

More 7 Quick Takes Cause I'm Sweet Like That

1. Did you have a good Valentine's Day? We did. We played. We put together puzzles. We ate gummy bears. We played Chutes & Ladders. We went to church. We went out for ice cream.

Brian and I didn't do anything together without the kids but Valentine's Day has always been more of a family day for us anyhow.

I received two Hallmark greeting cards (one from Brian and one from the kids) with some of the words crossed out and replaced with funny phrases that only our family of four would understand. Brian does this for me on all holidays and it's probably my number one favorite gift from him. I have stacks of them stashed away in my nightstand drawer.

Oh! I almost forgot. I also got this lovely drawing on the blackboard in our kitchen thanks to William and hubby.


2. Are you watching the Olympics? If I could I'd watch every second. Thanks to our DVR I can watch most of it and fast forward through the boring parts.

This Olympics I've got the added bonus of having a three-year-old who is very interested. It's also made me realize how scared I am to be raising an adventure-seeking, risk-taking little boy.

He watches things like ski jumping and exclaims, "WOW! I can do that when I get bigger!"

Of course, in the next breath he also tells me he's going to marry me when he gets bigger. And then I'm reminded that yes, I do so love being the mommy of a little boy.

3. Brian and I have been going on weekly date nights and it has been WON-DER-FUL! We've made it easy on ourselves which makes it easy to make it a weekly event.

Here's our strategy:

First, we use my younger brother as our sitter. Our kids ADORE him and he's over at our house enough that he knows the ropes. Plus he's going to school right now so I feel good about paying him money instead of some stranger.

Second, we still go about our normal bedtime routine. I always bathe, nurse and put Lucy to sleep before we leave. William is bathed and in his jammies and gets to play with Uncle JoJo for a bit before he, too, goes to bed.

Third, we keep it cheap and simple. Typically we're only gone for a couple of hours. We catch a movie. We grab a burger and beer. Stuff like that. Just enough time to have an uninterrupted conversation or snuggle up in a theater.

4. Have you realized how much sunshine makes a difference? Well maybe not for all my sunshine state readers but if you're anywhere in the North do you hear what I'm sayin'?

Every Tuesday morning I have to be out of the house by 9 a.m. For the past two Tuesdays it's been snowing. And I've been majorly grumpy. But this morning the sunshine was brilliant. And I was a much more pleasant mom to be around.

Thank you, Sun.

5. For the past four months or so yoga has become a big part of my life. I don't think I've yet written about this but I should. It really has been a big deal for me. The breathing. The relaxing. The bending, stretching and reaching. I've done no other exercise that has given me such total body wellness.

I don't do it for the physical outcomes but the physical outcomes have truly been amazing. Who knew downward-facing dog could do so much?

6. Lucy is so. much. fun. She's at such a great age. Part of me wants to cry that she'll already be ten months next week. But the other part is so joyful to have a 9-to-10-month-old in the house. The "so bigs", the "pattie-cakes", the wet kisses. It's pure bliss.

And now I've realized I've taken about half the amount of pictures and a quarter the amount of videos that I ever did when William was her age. After naps this afternoon I'm going to get on that.

7. You may (or may not) have missed Brian's post on The Bachelor this week. It's coming. He had a last-minute business trip to attend yesterday that ended up being a nine-hour roundtrip car drive.

He thought about inviting himself over to his client's house for dinner and subsequent Bachelor-watching, but somehow that didn't seem entirely appropriate. Although with the increased popularity in my blog due to his weekly writing it might have just sealed that sales deal he was trying to close.

Monday, February 8, 2010

I Feel Like You're Slipping Right Through My Fingers

Written by Brian about The Bachelor - Week 6

Remember last week’s post? Yeah, neither do I. I’m not sure if it was just a really boring episode or I’m running out of 80s actors. Jenny lost 59% of her readership after last week. I apologize you had to read that. I mailed it in. It’s what Nicholas Cage has been doing for the past 12 years. “Oh, what’s this? The Conbobulator Man? Do I get to freak out before a fight scene? No, I don’t need to read the script. Two mil sounds good. I’m in.”

Jake is on his four hometown dates this week. If this is anything like the past 32 seasons, I’m guessing they will involve tours of the city, really awkward dinner conversations with family members, and at least one parent that rivals Michelle in pure nuttiness.

Jake begins with Gia in New York. After the TOUR, they meet Gia’s family. The stepbrother and father are the highlight here.

The dad looks like a burned-out Steven Seagal and speaks in one word sentences.

The stepbrother won’t shut up and looks like the Farkus from a Christmas Story. He has yellow eyes. The night ends with Jake beating him up on the playground.

Williamstown, MA - home of Matthew Perry, water buffalo, and Ali from the Bachelor. Let’s start things out on a romantic note. Let’s walk through the dead grandma’s house. We click info on the remote to see if we accidentally recorded Ghost Hunters.

Have you seen Ghost Hunters? It’s totally awesome and by awesome I mean sweet. Grown men walking around houses saying they feel a presence. And they have a team of like 34 people and vans of equipment! Why?! Why do you need a team? Where is Winston?

No matter what way you cut this house tour, it’s weird.

Dinner with the family is pretty exciting. You should watch it. Trust me.

Jake later meets Tenley in Newberg, Oregon. The town was incorporated as a city in 1889 (most exciting fact I could find).

Not sure if you know this but interpretive dance is a great way to showcase your affections. That’s how I got Jenny. Tenley is pretty good at it.

After dancing, we have crying and lots of it. This family has been through a lot.

Amazing side note – Jake says his passion is aviation. Not flying…aviation. Right.

Moving on we get to Vienna’s hometown somewhere in Florida. Not worth rewinding to get the city.

A boat ride tour includes alligators and Jake abruptly mentioning Vienna’s divorce. Huh? New information!

Later we learn her dad Vincent is the boss and I don’t mean Bruce. Vienna is a princess. She needs to be treated good...not well! She was born to run. His proverbial foot is down. After 3 minutes, he has a “pretty good feeling” about Jake.

Back at the hotel while Jake is getting ready, Ali makes a surprise appearance. These are never good. Last time we had one of these, Jake was talking crap about a country singer and crying over balconies.

Ali tells Jake she needs to choose between her job and Jake. It’s obvious here that she is gone. The tears are half-hearted.

The rose ceremony confirms it. Even Chris Harrison can’t help and he’s half magician. Wow! He was part robot when he interrupted Cryfest 2010! Totally straight-faced. No emotion. “Ali, have you made your decision?” His mind is a neural net processor, a learning computer.

Ali leaves three hours later. Jake struggles with the car door shutting. Not smooth dude. Just shut the door. Man! It’s easy. I’m upset.

That is all.


Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Seven Quick Takes

I used to think that these type of blog posts were the lazy way out. A cure for all those ideas spinning in my head but no clear way to concisely type them on a screen. But then I started reading Seven Quick Takes over at a blog I frequent and realized that they were the posts I most looked forward to reading.

See if you like my version.

1. This weekend I watched Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area on the news in awe. Two feet of snow?! Then I looked in my own backyard and realized that I, myself, along with every other Minnesotan is living snowmageddon every. single. day. Well, November through March, anyway.

True, we don't tend to get two feet all at once. But what we do get stays with us. Two to four, five to eight; it all adds up and it all stays with us for five long months. Not like D.C. where it all melts off after a week or two.

2. Speaking of snow, we woke up to a fresh batch on the ground. William and I went out to play in it and do a little shoveling during Lucy's morning nap. I taught him how to swing on the tree swing really high and then jump off and land his little buttsy on that soft, fluffy snow.

Is there any beautiful music that can rival a child's laughter during outside play? If so, I have yet to find it.

Plus it's totally contributing to the killer nap he's taking as we speak.

3. Lucy's sleeping habits (or lack thereof) hit an all-time low this weekend when neither Brian nor I could get her to stop crying at 11:00 p.m. on Saturday night. This is a first for me. Even when William had raging ear infections as a baby I could always get him distracted until the Motrin kicked in. Lucy didn't even want to nurse. That's like crazy talk!

We determined that we had no other option except to bundle her up in her carseat and take her for a ride in the car. Brian played chauffeur. Seconds into the ride he told me she started giggling. And then babbling. About what? We're not sure. But it's my assumption that these late-night wakings are a sign that our Lucy is going to be a total party girl. She knew it was bar time.

4. William has been taking swimming lessons for the past few weeks. Have I mentioned this already? I can't remember. It's the first swim class he has taken without a parent and he's doing fantastic. While other students are shrinking into the fetal position on the pool deck and refusing to get into the water, William is jumping in the water and dunking his head with glee.

Until the past Saturday. I wasn't there but, as told to me by Brian, he pulled out all the hysterics and absolutely refused to get in the water. They were back in the car and on their way home without so much as his big toe getting wet.

What gives? Do you think he's copying the other children and trying to get attention?

I promised him that next week both Lucy and I would come to watch and that Lucy is very excited for her big brother to show her how to swim. That seemed to put a twinkle back in his eye.

5. I've been thinking a lot about food lately thanks to some recent Oprah episodes. Organic versus not. Our sugar intake. The amount we spend on food. Things like that.

Some ideas of mine have changed slightly. For one, I now think the health benefits of eating organic meat outweigh the increased cost. You couldn't have convinced me otherwise a few weeks ago. But I've been doing research.

Did you know that in the 1960s households spent 9% of their income on food compared to today where we spend only 4%? Factor in the rising cost of health care and the number of obesity, diabetes and heart disease cases and the savings don't seem to be worth it.

But here's a question for organic eaters. Do you also buy organic milk? If we switched to organic milk that would cost us more than $200 extra a year in milk consumption. I just did the math and we currently spend about $166 a year in milk. We drink a lot of milk at the Nash household. I've thought about feeding organic milk only to the kiddos. Or maybe using nonorganic for cereal and organic for everything else. What do you think?

6. Lucy is super close to crawling. Until now her development has spiked in her verbal and fine motor skills. You should see this kid pick up the tiniest morsel of food with utmost precision. No one's going to care if she can crawl or not when she's a heart surgeon.

7. Finally, we bought a new rug. This doesn't seem huge but before this we had hardwoods throughout. That floor gets pretty cold in these winter months. This large, plush rug has changed the entire ambiance of our living room.

At least one person is excited about it.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Sleep Files

I've decided, after much thought, that perhaps my post last week about William's lack of naps may have been a bit harsh.

Because here's the thing about William: 99.9% of the time he is the most fantastic sleeper you've ever met.

When we first brought him home from the hospital he woke only once per night to nurse and went right back to sleep. At five weeks old he was sleeping at least ten hours a night plus two or three naps during the day. At three years old he sleeps 11 hours a night and still takes a 3-hour nap -- on most days.

And when he's asleep, he's asleep. You'd have to make some pretty heavy racket to rock him out of his unconscious state.

When he does wake up he's happy to lie in bed for a while keeping warm and just generally being content. I remember when he was a baby there would be some days when I would forget to turn on the baby monitor only to find out later by wandering upstairs that he had been awake in his crib for some time just talking and singing to himself.

He's also fantastic at sleeping when we're away from home. Car, sleeping bag, floor or bed in the basement. He'll grab his shuteye wherever you put him.

But the problem with having a dream of a sleeper is that one generally fails to realize how good they've got it until they've got a child with the complete opposite sleeping habits.

Lucy.

Oh my darling Lucy.

On the rare occasion that William does wake in the middle of the night I race from my bedroom into his thinking that surely the roof must have caved in on top of him because he wakes for no other reason than total disaster.

But when I hear Lucy's cries from the bedroom next to mine I keep my eyes shut tight. I lie perfectly still. I clench my teeth and start chanting in a small whisper, "Please go back to sleep, please go back to sleep, please go back to sleep..."

And sometimes she does (PRAISE THE LORD!) but sometimes she doesn't. And when she doesn't you can count on a two-to-three-hour middle-of-the night party with Lucy girl.

That's where we were last night.

So I'm looking back at my post about naps from last week and I'm thinking, you know what? I'd gladly exchange a missed nap here and there if I could just get back shuteye between the 1:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. hours.

So what say you kiddies? Do we have a deal?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Skype!

It's the latest and greatest way to communicate. Everyone's doing it. Even Oprah's jumped on the bandwagon.

So why has it taken me so long to discover Skype?

I have no idea.

Skype rocks.

I probably wouldn't care so deeply if I didn't have children but it just so happens I have two. So therefore, Skype rocks.

Brian's youngest sister left last week to study in Australia prompting the decision to buy a webcam and subsequently download Skype. She will be gone until June and she couldn't bear the thought of her eight nieces and nephews (yes, I said EIGHT!) growing up so fast without her here to see it.

Just think. By June Lucy will mostly likely be walking and probably even starting to talk. That's a lot of growin' up to be missing out on.

My webcam arrived yesterday (we bought this one and so far have been very happy) and I immediately set to work installing it (piece of cake) and downloading Skype (an even bigger piece of cake).

Just when I started to say, "OK, how do I..." I heard, "HI JENNY!"

And **poof!** like magic was a family friend of Brian's waving to me on the computer screen.

I'm not kidding you. It was that easy.

And even without Skype a webcam is just plain fun for the kids. Did I say kids? OK, I admit it. Brian and I spent an hour in front of it last night laughing until tears were rolling as we tried out all the different effects.

Brian and William even recorded the "Daddy and William Show" after baths last night. Copyright negotiations are pending as to whether or not we'll be able to air that here on Mama Nash.

Even Lucy is in on the action. You know how babies love to look at themselves in the mirror? Turns out the same applies when they see themselves on the computer screen. Check it out:

video

If you want to reach me on Skype shoot me an email and I'll add you to our contact list.

Happy Skyping!

Monday, February 1, 2010

It's About Heart Appeal

Written by Brian about The Bachelor - Week 5

The girls and Jake have landed in San Francisco. The first one-on-one date is with Tenley. The date is pretty boring but there are some cool scenes in Chinatown. I think this is where Lionheart was filmed. Or was it Bloodsport? I’m not positive, but it’s incredible.

Almost as incredible as the turtleneck Jake is sporting. Jenny says he looks like Lloyd Christmas hanging out in Aspen. Where the women flock like the salmon of Capistrano.

Ali and Vienna – round 8 back at the hotel. I’m not sure why but these two are obsessed with each other. I think they need a one-on-one date or a therapy session or a make-out session. I don’t know.

The second date is almost awkward according to Jake. Jake, a winery/castle, a moat, Gandalf, and two women – it doesn’t get much more awkward than that.

Vienna bares all early in the dinner date. She really tries to hold it in but just can’t help turning on the faucets.

Jake puts Vienna in a circular room and tells her to stand in the corner so that he and Gia can hang out. Vienna racks her brain for a few hours but eventually starts wandering around randomly calling Jake’s name. At one point, she gets really scared because there is some guy with a camera following her around.

At the end of the night Vienna walks down to Jake’s room and sees him almost necked. That’s NECKED, not naked. Vienna is worried about their connection and steals extra one-on-one time.

Ali gets the final one-on-one date in SF. Best part of the date is the ceremonial ruining of the jeans where they both run into the bay with their shoes and pants on.

Jenny and I fast-forward through Jake’s one-on-one date with Chris Harrison. There might be good material here but it’s getting late.

In the end Jake sends home the one wholesome girl the show has to offer - Corey. Wow. Didn’t see that coming.

Hometowns are next. That is all.

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Baby Genius

I don't really do baby signs. William always did really well with his verbal skills so I found that, for the most part, by the time he was able to efficiently communicate he was already able to speak words. So we encouraged him to speak early on and still, at three-years-old, his strongest skill set falls into the verbal category.

With Lucy I don't know what will happen. Every child is different. I see proof of that every single day.

She's getting to that age when she's starting to whine rather than cry when she wants something. The change is slow and subtle yet oh so much more annoying. When your little newborn cries your heart aches and you stop whatever you're doing to comfort her. But when one of my children whines I just want to scream, "WHAT?!"

And this whining is never more present than during mealtimes. Do I hear a collective cry of agreement from the mothers of America? They're hungry. They're tired. They whine.

Enter signs. Like I said, I'm not big on the whole baby signing fad but I do find a few of them useful. I like to teach my children how to sign the words "more" and "all done." This helps me decipher the whines. Is she whining because she's still hungry or is she whining because she's full and she's ready for bath and bed? One can never be too sure.

Signs aren't foolproof but check out my little Lucy mastering her signs already at nine months. Did I say mastering? Alright so maybe it only happens when all the planets align and it's a full moon and the fourth Tuesday of the month. Whatever. She's still a genius in my book.

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