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Baby Sign Language

Titus signing milk just after waking up in the morning, he still looks all sleepy

I have done baby sign language with all 3 of my children and so I thought I would share some of my experiences with you in the form of answering some questions that people often ask

1) What age to start?
I would say that it is better not to be too enthusiastic and risk to starting too early. Babies are not dexterous enough to start signing back to you much before 9months and some only really get going after a year. Titus is 16 months now and from about 13-14months he really started to use the signs. There is no problem in starting early it is all about you, and if you think that can sign for months before they first sign back then that is fine but if you might get demotivated if you have been signing from 3 months and have months to wait until they sign back, rather start later.
The only time that this is not the case is when you are in a family where a memember of the family uses sign language to communicate. Then it is good to use sign language with the baby from young and let baby see it being used by all the family as a communication that extends past the baby years.

 

2) Which type/language/version to use?
This is a personal choice, when I had Rachel I was keen to use South African Sign Language as I hoped that she would be able to learn the language and then use it one day if needed. I struggled to find stuff on line in South African sign language except expensive courses and books. So I just went with what I could find in books and on line. This happened to be mostly American Sign language. Although a lot of the signs are quite similar.

What I realized with Rachel was that babies drop the sign and start using the words as soon as they know the word. When Caleb came along Rachel who signed a lot as a baby could not remember any of her signs ( except I love you, which we still use) For a family that does not use sign language as part of the normal communication most children will not remember their signs and so it is not really a useful language for later it is just a tool for communication while they are small. This is obviously not true for a family using sign language for other reasons. Then it is important to use the same signs as the rest of the family are using.

 

3) Will sign language slow down or interrupt their speech development?
No, not at all, it actually stimulates the centers in the brain used for speech and communication and babies often start to speak early or totally on par with babies not using sign language.

4) Can babies make all the sign properly?
Well no not always, it is a bit like they might mispronounce words when they first start talking but you as a parent who are tuned into what they are saying can understand them. Titus’s signs are often not perfect but I know what he wants and this is the most important thing

 

5) Bilingual families
Titus is the first of my 3 that is being raised bilingual and so I did not know how sign language would fit into this but it has been great. The biggest reason that I think Titus signs so much is that both The Geek and I sign to him but when we say the word I use English and he used Afrikaans. It has been great in helping Titus see that the different words in the 2 languages have the same sign. I am expecting him to talk later as bilingual babies often do, so for him sign language really helps him communicate and be less frustrated.

 

6) Why use sign language?
I guess I should have started with this one but I need to take the kids to swimming and I don’t feel like remumbering the whole post ( how is that for honesty)
Why sign – becasue babies are dexterous and able to use their hands to communicate before they are able to speak and so it help give them a way to communicate during the toddler stage when they are finding their independence and are often frustrated that we don’t understand their gurgles. Being able to know when Titus is hungry and when he wants to go to the potty or has finished eating is great.

There are course available which I am sure you can find in your area if you want to go for a course.
I just used google and looked for signs. I also used a small book I found at Exclusive books which had some basic baby signs.
There are lots and lots of baby sign language websites, some that want you to buy the course but there is a lot for free too.
You can also make up your own signs as long as you all use the same signs.
Makaton is specific sign language for those who battle to communicate and is often used with children with learning or developmental difficulties. If you have one child using this or feel it might benefit a family member then this is a good version to use. It also uses more simple and easy to do signs that are perfect for babies.

Most of all enjoy communicating with your baby.

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Potty Training

With Rachel I did Elimination Communication or Nappy Free. I did used to back up with cloth nappies when we went out but mostly with a combination of timing and her signaling we did pretty well. She was totally dry at night from about 11months, with occasional accidents but these were few and far between. She was potty trained from about 15 months. She would reliably tell me when she needed to go and we had very few accidents after this.

Caleb was born in the UK which is colder and so being nappy free was harder, we were also renting and the place had carpet floors which meant that a missed wee was not easy to clean and so I used cloth nappies as a back up a lot more even at home. But still he always knew the cue for going to the toilet and would try when I remembered to take him. Life with 2 kids and my ex away a lot off shore meant that I never had the same time to focus on EC like I had with Rachel. But still he potty trained earlish for a boy I guess. He was out of nappies by 2 and although we had more accidents than Rachel. I am not sure if it is a boy thing but even now (just turned 5) he has a few accidents at night. Mostly if he drinks a lot before bed. I do try to remember to lift him for a wee before I go to bed and it is not that often. Up to 6 for boys for occasional bed wetting is considered normal. But I admit to being a little concerned as Rachel was dry at night from just under a year.

Titus I have mostly used nappies, it is hard to EC with 3 kids, a business, home schooling and housework. But like the others I introduced the idea of the potty very early and let him sit on it, made the cue sounds and praised him a lot of he did a wee or poo in the potty. He does really well, it is more my lack of time and remembering to take him that stops him being totally out of nappies.

Zoe from Baby Throne sent me one for Titus when he was little and it has been a huge help. He loves his potty and it means that he can sit comfortably. I used it on the base when he was little and it was convenient to move around as we needed it.

He can now sign toilet and so every time I take him to the potty/throne I use the sign.He is now at the stage that he has the seat on the toilet.I have a few toys in the bathroom which he likes so this helps him sit for a few minutes. Today was the first time that he signed toilet to me without me signing first. Nappy was dry and he did a big wee in the toilet – Mommy was very proud.

What I love about EC is the bond and the communication that it build between mom and baby. I wrote more about it on Parent 24 But with out drive to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly I have always loved anything that cuts down on nappy use. Be it disposable or cloth. I EC’ed the others by just holding them out over the toilet or sitting backward but the Throne really does help. I do make sure that when out and even at home on occasion we do try without it so that he is used to not using it if we are out or at another house.

How was potty training for you?

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Tutorial: Alternative Cable Cast on

ALTERNATIVE CABLE CAST ON TUTORIAL

This is a fantastic cast on for a knitted item that starts with a 1X1 rib.
The rib stitch then runs all the way from the cast on up the work. It is a little fiddly to get right in the beginning but well worth it. Be sure for hats and other items where a bit of stretch is required not to cast on too tightly. If you usually have a tight tension, consider going up a needle size.

Here is my Titus with his big blue eyes modeling his new Owl and The Pussy cat hat that I designed. You can see the rib extends right down to the cast on edge with this method.( I am quite excited the pattern goes out for test knitting tonight) Yay for my first real pattern

Start with a slip knot


Insert needle as if to knit

Yarn around needle

pull through

pull the yarn through with the right needle

 

 

Slip new stitch onto left hand needle. ( Leg of the stich that was in front on the right hand needle is on the back of left hand needle)

 

 

These form your first 2 stitches, the slip knot is the first purl and the new stitch is the first knit stitch.

 

Next is a purl stitch: Insert needle purl-wise behind the legs of the previous stitch

Yarn around needle as if to purl

Slip needle to back keeping yarn on right needle

 

Slip stitch onto the left handle needle again the front leg goes onto back of the left needle

You have now completed the 3rd stitch the purl cast on, you will repeat this stitch every alternative stitch

For the knit stitch this time you do not go through the stich like the first knit, this time you insert your needle knit-wise behind both legs of the previous stitch.

wrap the yarn around the needle

pull yarn through

Continue with these 2 stitches for the required number of stitches
It can be helpful use a stitch marker every 10 stitches to mark progress

If you have any questions please feel free to email me. It can be a bit fiddly to get this right in the beginning but for a rib edge it really is the neatest cast on. cameronsallyjane (at) gmail.com

Download as a PDF hereAlternative Cable Cast on Tutorial

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Greener Baby

I wrote an article for Parent 24 a while back Saving the Planet, don’t have more kids This was before I met Yme and Titus graced us with his presents. I mentioned that I was not saying don’t to have kids or even that I would not have any more, but the question was should we consider the environment when deciding to have children.

I think there are ways to have kids without having a huge impact on the environment. I want to highlight some of these over the next few weeks. I was going to do a baby week but I thought even I might be sick of baby talk by the end of that so I will intersperse the baby stuff into the general life news.

My first tip is on clothing
Kids grow so fast and one of the great expense is keeping them clothed. Titus fondly known as ‘bundle of puke’ when he was younger would go through quite a few changes of clothes a day. One of the best ways to decrease the environmental impact is to use pre loved clothes and pass on the clothes that your kids have out grown. I know not everyone likes hand-me-downs but they make economic and plant saving sense.

I am always very grateful for stuff that has been passed on to us and I notice that some offer it hesitatingly though, I guess not all people are as welcoming when it comes to 2nd hand clothes. I in turn pass mine on with enthusiasm, so if I offend you offering you our hand-me-downs please forgive me I am just trying to save the planet.

We can’t always just get away with 2nd hand things so what about the times when you want to add that something special or you need something for your kids. Honey Badger Eco Friendly clothing fills this gap very well.

Look out for the full blog article on Honey Badger Clothing but in the mean time I just want to let you know of the special offer they are running for Pink Hair Girl readers. On their Facebook page they have an album of pictures of clothes less 25% for you including fitted sheets. Postage NOT included, while stock lasts,offer runs until the end of March. Their shopping trolley is down but you can contact Renee on the FB page about items you are interested in.

I am definitely going to get the kids a few more things. I was lucky enough to get a voucher for Honey Badger Clothing in an authors gift pack and have been very impressed with the clothes we got. And now you can OOOHHH and AAAHHH over how cute Titus was in October in his Honey Badger Clothes and sweet hat

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Titus Turns 1 – Hungry Caterpillar party

Photos as always but the wonderful Catherine from Cazpix

Birthday boy and Mommy

The Hungry Caterpillar theme. I got a lot of good idea off Pinterest and then just made it work for us, what I liked was that the worm eats a lot a fruit and it was easy not to have a lot of sweets as the kids loved that all the food the caterpillar ate was on the table. I did a row on the fruit he ate from Monday -Friday and behind was all the food he ate on Saturday.

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday
chocolate cake, ice-cream cone, pickle, swiss cheese, lollipop, salami, cherry pie, sausage, cupcake and watermelon

Sunday

Table

Crafts
making egg box caterpillars

I found a sticker book with the story so I read the story to the kids and they got turn to stick the stickers in

Titus and Bear played – bbf

Sleeping – the excitement was too much for some

Eating

With Oom Jacques

Cake and singing
Cake was made by Nadine from Jorja’s Cakes

Titus needs to learn to blow not grab the candle

The Geek looking Handsome

dirty

1 I can’t believe it

And the winner is…

Julia

I entered all your names into this random picker http://andrew.hedges.name/experiments/random/pickone.html and it picked Julia so well done!!

Email me your address or I can bring your Shewee at our next knit and chat. I hope you avoid many nasty public toilet seats!

Thank you once again to SheWee for this great prize and to those who did not win, go buy one or put it on your birthday list.

Some other random news

1) Our one chicken has a hole in her back, we are not sure what happened. Rachel saw the dog sniffing around her but we are not sure if the dog did bite her. I don’t think he did, as they free range around him all the time and if he really wanted to eat one he would have by now. The only time he might have, is when he was eating. She is the greediest chicken in the world and she tries to eat the food out of his bowl while he is eating and I have seen him snap at her. In any case we spotted it last Friday and cleaned it everyday and put ointment on it but by Tuesday it was looking horrible and The Geek decided to take her to the vet and see if they could close the hole and if we could get something to put on it. Rachel went with him and they returned with doom and gloom news, the vet said it was necrotic and that it could not get better and that it was better to cull the chicken. We could not even eat her as the meat would be affected if the infection had spread around her body.

The Geek did come home from the vet with the purple livestock spray that helps wounds heal. Necrospray or something like that. But he said it was good to have on hand for next time. Rachel was in tears and both her and Caleb said they would be cross with the Geek if he killed Potter. I got stern with them then explaining that it was not a job that anyone wanted to do and that at least Papa was being kind enough to do the horrible job for all of us and it would not be kind of Potter was suffering.

In the mean time I thought to put a post of the back yard chicken forum that I belong to. I took pictures which I will not put here as they are gross and I asked if she was worth saving. I said the vet was not hopeful and had said to cull. The forum is usually very quick to say cull if they think it is necessary. But the overwhelming answers were advice as to what to do and stories of chicken surviving horific wounds. Potter had up to this point being wandering around the garden eating as usual and did nto look stressed or in anyway distressed so I convinced The Geek to help to make a separate place for her in the garage and that we needed to clean the wound and see if we could get her better.

3 days later and Potter is going strong and is in fact very cross at being locked up in a small space but I need to keep the wound clean ( chickens like to sand bath) and keep her from moving around too much. I can also watch what she eats if she is on her own. The wound is not too much smaller but it looks less necrotic and I hope it might start to heal. I think it will take awhile. The hole is about 2cm across and goes into her internal cavity.

If she gets worse or looks distressed at anytime then we will be kind and cull her but I am going to try my best to save this chicken.

2) I have new seedlings sprouting and am getting ready to plant our late summer/autumn crops. The companion planting and winter rainfall charts from Afristar that I blogged about here have been so helpful. I can at a glance see what to plant this month. The planning beds and companion planting is more difficult and I do wish that I had time and money to go on a permaculture course but I will just have to learn through trial and error.

3) Titus turns one on Monday and it is his hungry caterpillar party on Saturday. We have been making things tonight and I am baking tomorrow but I have tried not to overdo it. I even got someone else to make the cake so I would not have too much to do.

4) I feel the the priveladge rich person, which I am not as we don’t really make ends meet, but I have decided to investigate someone coming to help me as a nanny/housekeeper full time. The biggest problem is that I am not getting around to doing all the work, writing and home schooling that I need to do with Titus around. He is a lovely sweet boy but he is busy and into everything. It is affecting my ability to earn money and my time to help Rachel with her schooling. I am worried that we are going to get behind. I am also spending a lot of my time, cleaning, doing laundry etc etc.

This sounds like I am trying to justify this, does it not? I know plenty of people that live overseas, where help is not affordable, and they manage to look after the kids, homeschool and have a clean home. I don’t know why I am failing but I am getting irritated with my kids all the time and it is not fair. The poor Geek hears me moan all the time and it is not fair on him either.

I hope that by not worrying about the house and by being able to have decicated time to work, stress levels will come down. The nanny can watch Titus while I do school work or projects with the other 2 or they can watch the 2 boys while I work with Rachel on her reading and maths. And sometimes they can watch all 3 so I can get some writing or Earth Babies work done. I hope I find the right person.

5) It is nearly weekend – yay

6) I really need to blog about our water saving and how we are moving slowly forward but that will have to come in another post dedicated to water developements

Cherry Picking


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We went cherry picking on Sunday. It is the beginning of cherry season but the kids leave to Pretoria on the 8th and we wanted to fit it in before they go. It is quite a long drive and it made me grateful my mom talked me out of driving up to them for Christmas. The colder windy day gave me the perfect excuse to wear my new hat I knitted for myself. I so seldom knit for myself so it was nice to enjoy something I made.

We went to Klondyke Farm in Ceres. Titus loved the cherries and ate them with great gusto, there were even a few cherry stones in his nappy the next day. He would cry if Yme did not feed him them fast enough.

Here are a few pictures

Product Review: Hipp Organic

Hipp organic baby food I was asked by Kate from Brand Bakery if I would like to be involved in the launch of Hipp Organic Baby food here in South Africa. I know the brand from when I was in the UK and was delighted to be involved as Titus was just going onto solids.

So it was to great excitement that the box was delivered to our house

We got 4 boxes of banana baby porridge, 2 trays of Tender Carrot and Potatoes which was Titus’s favourite
2 trays of spaghetti bolognese
2 trays Sweet Squash and chicken
1 tray Banana and peach desert
1 tray Red Fruit and Apple Compote

From the first jar Titus loved it

Love at first spoon

Titus and Hipp Organic

Titus has a veracious appetite and has by far been my easiest child to introduce to solids. Rachel spat everything out and if you persisted she would projectile vomit it all at you. She really only started eating after a year and then went straight onto finger foods. Caleb I started with finger foods from the beginning and he enjoyed food but was never as enthusiastic as little T-man is.

The cereal in the morning was very helpful as he really enjoys sitting with everyone while they have breakfast. This and a top up of mommy-milk afterwards means that he has a good morning nap.

I have never been a mom to use jars of food as the main baby food. I usually made their food myself and they quickly moved onto what we were eating. But ready made food does take things to a whole new convenience level. It makes going out easy and we also left a tray at Yme’s mom so when we visited we knew there was always food for Titus. I am not sure I would or could afford to just use ready made food but was lovely to use and great for having when going out. If your budget permitted and time was a factor I would say this would be great for busy moms.

I remember the range of healthy snacks that you used to get in England. The little packets of rice cakes, healthy chips, fruit bars etc. Titus was too young for those and I am not sure if they are part of the range that has come to SA, but I hope so because I used to get the snacks for the kids all the time in the UK.

The nice things about this food is knowing that it was organic. Here is a bit about Hipp Organic:
HiPP was the first Baby food-company to establish organic farming back in 1956. We pride ourselves on being the leader of baby nutrition in major markets in Europe. HiPP’s philosophy is to manufacture healthy products with premium quality ingredients in compliance with nature. HiPP:- – is the largest procurer of organic ingredients in the world – sources our ingredients from more than 6000 farms in 29 countries – products go through an average of 260 quality tests and checks before it gets onto the shelf

HiPP Organic launched in the South African Market in July 2011.

Available in selected Clicks stores now

And now given that I am such a Pinterest addict and love Recycling and Reusing things, I have some new ideas to do with the left over jars

From Frugal Decor Mom Paint the tops with Black board paint and fill with herbs – I think this might be a Christmas gift

Did you use read made baby food or mostly make your own?
Were you kids very different when it came to starting solids?
If you used jars did you make anything nifty from the left over jars?

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We have chickens

I have always wanted chickens but just did not think we would be having them so soon. It was the church Bazaar in Philadelphia where Carle lives on the 2nd September. She knew that I wanted chickens at some point and so she ordered me some when she pre-ordered for her boys. And so our adventure with chickens began on 2 Septemeber at the Philadelphia Kerk Bazaar.

I read up about chicks and you are supposed to have a special brooder with a red heat lamp. We did not have that so we use a hot water bottle and 2 rice filled microwave bags to make our box warm. You are supposed to measure the temperature and keep it constant and decrease a certain amount each week – well no we could not do that either. I was panicking that I would kill my chickens and they would freeze to death.

We prepared our box with hot water bottle, soft fleece and even an old feather boa so they would feel all cozzy. The chicks were at the kids stall at the Bazaar, each in half a cut off coke bottle with some straw and food and a handle. There were about 50 chicks in total that all the kids were coming to buy. They were all peeping loudly which I later learned is there way of saying they are cold. Our 2 preordered chickens and my 1 extra ‘just-in-case’ chicken were put into our warm shoe box and put in the car to keep warm. During the evening I did feel sorry for the other chickens that were carried around in the bottle by kids all evening. I wonder how many survived?

They really were just tiny bundles of fuzz

Titus trying to eat one

I heated their bottle before I went to bed at about 11, then when Titus woke for a feed at 3 I heated it up again and by some miracle they all survived their first night. I chose the smallest runt to be mine so that the kids ones had the best odds of surviving. There was much debate as to what the names should be. Caleb had some weird names but one he said was Number Jacks so I suggested Jackie. Rachel’s is fluffball and mine is Gertrude or Gertie as I think Chickens should have posh names.

The next day they were moved to a bigger box, the one side had food and water and the other their hot water bottle

Chicken hotel

By 2 days later they had wing feathers poking out of the fuzz and by the 6th they were this long. I marked Gertie with pink 😉 Jackie is the biggest and Fluffball is shy so we know them apart now

The start of wings

Then chicken coop building started. They need to move to a coop by about 5 weeks so the construction began
chicken coop begins

Caleb lends a hand

strong boy

building the coop

coop building

The frame and door
frame and door

This weekend the wire went on so the run was ready for them to explore, the coop and nesting boxes will get added. They are still too small to stay outside all the time but they do go out for times during the day
coop

They all huddled in the corner until Jacques and Caleb went in with them
boy and chicks

you can see how much they have grown
feeding chicks

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Titus

Titus is 6 months if you can believe that. Saturday marked a half a year that he has been part of our family. He is a very dear little boy and I love watching his personality appear.
Babies are hard work no matter what but he has a very sunny nature most of the time to make up for his total dependence.
He is not skinny like the other 2 and was 8.5kg at 5m already
He likes food and we have slowly been introducing solids since about 4 months, mostly rice but now more veg and fruit.

Catherine has been taking a photo a month of our cute boy so we can document his first year. Here are the first 5 months. To see the whole set you can go to her Flickr page for our family.

Month 1

Month 2

Month 3

Month 4

Month 5