Monday, September 29, 2008

Signing Time Volume 4

Baby Signing Time Volume 4: Let's Be Friends

Signs we learn: friends, play, share, nice, feel, sad, cry, happy, laugh, opposite, hot, cold, yes, no, dirty, clean, you, me, apple, pear, carrot, peach, juice, bubble, balloon, telephone, game, music.

Let's Be Friends: This section shows children signing friend, play, share, and nice. The children are playing with each other, sharing their toys, and being nice (not knocking down the blocks). I have to say that although Rebecca & Mary-Gail knew the signs for "share" & "nice" before watching this DVD, they use it a lot more!

Can you feel it? Rachel does it again with another wonderful song illustrating the signs she teaches. We learn: feel, sad, cry, happy, laugh. During the song, Rachel asks, "Can you feel it?" and signs "feel" throughout while the children sign the different feelings. The children's faces exaggerate the feeling (sad, cry, happy, laugh) and there is one boy who is laughing hysterically when he signs laugh - it makes the girls laugh too. I like this section because of the song, and how Rachel teaches the signs through the song. There are small parts that remind me of the trailer of The Brady Bunch show - where the children & parents are lined up in boxes on the TV screen. After we learn the signs for the feeling, the TV screen divides into 4 boxes and we see 4 children signing the feeling. It works really well with this section (hope I explained that well enough). Also, Rebecca pushes her bottom lip out and fake-cries when the the animated frog, Hopkins' ice cream falls - she feels his pain!




Opposites: Rachel asks, "Do you know what an opposite is?" She helps engage the child and prompts him/her to think about opposites. In addition to the signs Rachel teaches - hot, cold, yes, no, dirty, clean, you, me - she uses signs that help the child visualize what an opposite is: tall, short, big, small, wet, dry, yours, mine. She also teaches "different" when she explains what opposites are. This section has a very catchy tune with Rachel teaching us the "opposites game." The background changes with each opposite: red background for "hot;" then changes to blue for "cold." The background is splattered with dirt for "dirty;" then is wiped clean for "clean." This is another visual learning tool that Rachel continues to use through out this section.

That Tastes Good: Wearing a giant bib, Rachel teaches us the signs for apple, pear, carrot, peach, and juice (and tree). She helps the child understand that when he/she eats the food, it might look different from when it's picked off the tree. She shows what the food looks like when it's picked off the tree (again, I LOVE REAL PICTURES!) and then shows what the child's food might look like. The Signing Time children sign the food, some of them eat the food - none of them gaging, thank goodness - and then Rachel tastes each food (in its puree form) from a big spoon. She satisfactorily says "MMM,MMM,MMM,MMM. That tastes good!" She then shows that each of these foods can be juice, signs juice, and then adds the sign for apple. "Apple Juice." This section ends with Rachel drinking juice from a sippy cup, just like the little kids do. Rachel makes trying foods look fun and satisfying.

In the Sky: This section is, by far, my girls' favorite! They start saying "bubbles" as the animated Alex, Leah, & Hopkins blow bubbles. Rebecca is especially interested in Hopkins as he hops into a bubble and starts to float to the sky. Rachel shows the sign for bubbles - your fingers flick out like bubbles popping - and as she signs, her "bubbles" pop with a sound that the girls try to imitate. Seriously, they LOVE this section! Next sign we learn is balloon with Rachel giving a cautionary reminder that blowing up balloons is for adults.

Toy Box: We learn 3 signs in this section: telephone, game, music. Since watching this section, Rebecca has turned everything into a phone - even a pad of paper! I thought this section was a little cheesy, especially the parts for telephone and music. The song goes, "...Mom's love their telephone too," and shows a Mom holding her toddler on her hip (who is holding a play phone) while she talks on the phone and stirs a bowl of cookie dough/flour. Although this is a normal occurrence at my house, I thought it was a little overdone and cheesy. The other part that I thought was cheesy was "...Mom's love their music too," and shows a mom in her car signing "la, la, la, la, la" VERY exaggerated. However, neither Rebecca nor Mary-Gail seem to notice. They even point out the play piano that the child has in the backseat. Lastly, the song ends with Rachel singing, "I open my toy box, and peek inside. What will I find, what will I find" and has a girl pulling out a teddy bear. Rebecca says "Bear" and roars while she signs it.

Show me a sign: I LOVE this song. This song was on the 1st Signing Time show we purchased (in VHS). Rachel has remade it a little, and it sounds just as good as the original.

Overview:
Rebecca & Mary-Gail are very engaged in this DVD. They seem to like some sections more than others (they really liked "In the Sky" section). The songs are perfect, as they always are, and Rachel is a great teacher. The Signing Time children all appear to be 3 years and younger and sign very well. I've noticed that Rebecca & Mary-Gail seem to pay more attention when they see the children signing. Great DVD. I would definitely add this Volume and Volume 3 to my Signing Time collection!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rest little ones

Rebecca & Mary-Gail have been sick this week. Rebecca came down with a cough (barking dog cough) and fever. She's feeling better now, but she looked at me and said, "Sick, Mommy. Sick." I know baby - I'm so sorry you're sick. Mary-Gail got the cough & fever Wednesday night. She's been down right miserable! Baby Becs said to me," Sister sick." Yes, little one, sister is sick.

They're both asleep now. An hour and a half past their bedtime. Mary-Gail is still barking. I have to watch her closely as she gags herself and throws up. Last night we spent it downstairs in the guest bedroom to give Rebecca and Tony some reprieve from her coughing and crying. Mary-Gail slept on my chest and sucked her thumb. I'm glad she got some sleep. I'm guessing tonight will be a repeat of last night; the humidifier, saline drops, and drugs provide little relief to my baby girl. She just needs to sleep, and I'll do what I need to to help her sleep.

Helicopter & Hyena

We're just miles away from the Provo Airport and the local hospital, which means we constantly see and hear airplanes and the Life Flight helicopter pass over our home. Rebecca is really good at spotting them, and Mary-Gail runs to me saying, "hold me" as if she can only see them when she's in my arms. I point to the airplane or helicopter and sign airplane (for both) and we watch it cross the sky. Mary-Gail laughs with pleasure and then waves and says in her princess voice, "Good Bye. Good Bye." About this time Pixie & ArlaMae start to play-fight and I usually tell them to stop. But Rebecca intervened and said, "Stop it!" She's really picking up what I say.

Yesterday I was outside with the girls playing on the swings and we heard a helicopter approach. Rebecca pointed and said, "airplane" and for some reason I said, "Not that one. It's a helicopter," and signed helicopter. Both of the girls said - and I'm not kidding - "he-copter." What?! WOW! I thought I was "helping" them by not offering too many words, and here they are speaking and identifying words that they've just learned.

And today when Lovey was reading Mary-Gail her book, "Goodnight Gorilla," he said Hyena and pointed to it. (I usually point to the other animals that Mary-Gail knows: Gorilla, Giraffe, Elephant, Lion, and skip the Hyena and Armadillo). But not anymore. After Lovey showed Mary-Gail the Hyena, she pointed back and said, "hee-na." No more holding back girls!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Signing Time screener

Lindsey Blau, the Communications Manager for Two Little Hands Productions (they produce Signing Time!) contacted me through one of my blog postings inquiring if I would be interested in being a screener for the two new volumes of Baby Signing Time. Would I ever!!! I've had the DVD for nearly a month (I'm sorry!) and I'm ready to post my review and honest response to these two new episodes.

Rachel Coleman is one amazing and talented woman and mother. To read more about Rachel click here for Utah Baby Guide, an online magazine, who have spotlighted Rachel; and click here for Rachel's Signing Time Blog.

Baby Signing Time Volume 3: A New Day
Signs we learn: Day, New, Outside, Wind, Rain, Snow, Sun, Cloud, Sky, Tree, Grass, Flower, Stop, Go, Wait, Again, Bug, Up, Down, Star, Moon, Night.

Like Volumes 1 & 2 of Baby Signing Time, Rachel breaks up the signs into sections. There are 4 sections in this volume: A new day; Strollin'; I'm a bug; Starry night. Rachel, as always, is smiling and speaks with a smile in her voice. And the songs she creates and sings are wonderful, catchy, and help you and your child learn the signs!

Things I liked:
A New Day: Rachel shows the sign for the words and says things like: "let's sign it together," Or, "show me how you sign ..." It engages the child and encourages him/her to interact with Rachel. There are REAL pictures of what's being signed (rain, snow, sun, etc.) in addition to animation. Rachel also incorporates other signs that we've learned in previous Signing Time DVDs ("more," "play") reminding the child and showing how two signs "work" together. Rachel shows the new sign 3 to 4 times, and sometimes explains the sign to help the child (and adult) remember it. When she teaches "outside" she shows what you do when you go outside. I like how Rachel is sitting in the sun w/her sunglasses on to illustrate "sun," and then takes them off to illustrate "cloud."

Strollin' is a GREAT section! Rebecca & Mary-Gail start walking in place when they hear the music! The DVD shows children in their strollers strollin' around with their families/caregivers. When Rachel teaches "tree, grass, & flower" there are REAL pictures of each of them. Can you tell that I LOVE the REAL PICTURES? Rachel takes a moment to explain or help you understand why that is the sign for tree, grass, & flower. Strollin' is a very fun section and gets my girls moving. Now when we go for our walks, we say, "Let's go strollin'!"




Stop & Go: Rachel is wearing a police hat and has a whistle. She helps illustrate rules with these props and explains the signs (stop, go, wait, again) very well. Mary-Gail loves watching Hopkins (the animated frog) as he has to wait for the train to pass. She times it just right to sigh when Hopkins sighs! It's great to watch them learn from these DVDs. Mary-Gail also started saying, "again" (like when she goes down the slide and wants to do it more) instead of "more" which I attribute to this new DVD.

I'm a Bug: Rachel continues to engage the children in this section by adding a big, fuzzy antenna headband as she teaches the sign "bug." Some of the children are dressed in bug costumes (some are bees, some are lady bugs) and they make this section fun for song & dance. The song is catchy and you can't help but smile as Rachel and the children sing and sign "bug."

Starry Night: Rachel teaches star, moon, and night. When she teaches star, she asks the viewers, "Are you pointing to the star in the sky?" Rachel speaks to the children as if she's with them in person, which is great! When she teaches "moon" the picture shows 3 different phases of the moon. I really like this because Mary-Gail & Rebecca seem to identify moon only with a crescent shape. Could that be because "Goodnight Gorilla" is one of their favorite books and it shows the moon as a crescent? Rachel also encourages the children to combine words when she teaches "night." She offers the sign "good" and then signs "night" and puts them together to sign "good night." This section shows families going to bed - a great ending to the DVD.

The DVD ends with a familiar song called "Tiny Hands." Rachel has sung this on another Signing Time DVD and I love it! She shows her daughter, Leah (the inspiration for Signing Time), and nephew, Alex, when they were younger doing the signs (baby, ball, kitty), and then shows them at current age doing those signs. Rachel & Signing Time always show appreciation to the families who helped with and "star" in Signing Time. She always says thank you for making Signing Time possible.

Overview:
I absolutely love this volume! Throughout the DVD Rachel encourages the children to sign with her. When she teaches "snow" she says, "Let me see your snowflakes." It's great because children this age copy what you're doing and you've given them that opportunity. I would suggest adding more REAL pictures (perhaps in the bug section - you've used plastic bugs which are OK, but REAL bugs might be more interesting...?). In the Stop & Go section, you could use streetlights to help correlate stop & go (you've used this on another Signing Time DVD and I think it is very effective).

Rebecca & Mary-Gail have truly enjoyed this volume. They have learned most of these signs from the other Signing Time DVDs, but I think they prefer this Baby Signing Time DVD - they REALLY like seeing other "babies" doing sign. They always point to the screen and say, "baby" and get all silly, giddy, and happy. As I mentioned before, both Rebecca & Mary-Gail interact with this volume. And, they are adding signs to their signing vocabulary that we haven't learned yet (day, new, again, sky). Sign truly has been instrumental in my daughters' development; Rebecca & Mary-Gail have excelled with their speech because of signing and Signing Time - I thank you for that. One more thing - I have been and continue to be pleased and impressed that Signing Time has many different children doing the signs. These children are diverse in race, gender, & learning abilities. Hats off to Signing Time who shows that sign is for everyone regardless of ability.

Friday, September 26, 2008

More of Uncle Pat


videoAnother video of Uncle Pat with the girls

Aunt Kim sent lots of goodies with Uncle Pat for Rebecca & Mary-Gail. Uncle Pat made sure Rebecca & Mary-Gail had their fruit snacks for breakfast (thank you Pat), and I confiscated (read: ate) the Charleston Chews (thank you Kim!) Kim also sent coloring books and crayon holders which she made. We whipped them right out and both girls started eating the crayons. I've corrected that since, and now we're coloring fools! These will be perfect when I'm on bedrest: the girls can keep their crayons together and color with me on the bed. Thank you Kim - you're always so thoughtful!

The crayons have their own spot & they roll up and tie closed with a ribbon

P.S. Rebecca has been practicing saying the kids' names. She calls Dalton "dolphin" & Brella "ko-wah-wah." Can you guess we've been learning our animals? Both Rebecca & Mary-Gail say Jesse's name perfectly. Thanks for the picture! I'm sure you and the kids are happy to have Pat home. Thanks again Kim!!

A week with Uncle Pat

Uncle Pat came to visit us!!! Tony's younger brother, Pat, flew in Wednesday night (9/17) to help us cut down a crooked tree and trim all the other unruly trees in our backyard. Pat left his lovely wife, Kim, and his 3 kidlets in Charleston, SC, for a week!!! The girls and I didn't get to spend a lot of time with Pat since we left for Phoenix early Thursday morning after Pat arrived. So we tried to make up for it in pictures and videos.
The girls LOVED Uncle Pat's enthusiasm and for his ability to make they fly! Rebecca & Mary-Gail made quick friends with him, and Pixie & ArlaMae tried to stake a claim for him also. Basically my four girls wanted to hang on Pat.

Rebecca scurried up to Uncle Pat's lap
Mary-Gail's turn...

...but she can't be without her blanket
Uncle Pat spent nearly an hour throwing Mary-Gail & Rebecca onto the couch.
They loved it and kept coming back for more!

Uncle Pat & Rebecca have the same expression :)

Don't worry - Mary-Gail shoved Rebecca out of her way so she could go first


(My Dyson vacuum cleaner thinks it's part of the family -
it is always in my pictures!!!)
video

Mary-Gail honks Uncle Pat's nose...

...then pats his face...

...then gives him what? A great big kiss!
(Cute huh?)

Pixie & ArlaMae wish Uncle Pat would sit with them again

Mary-Gail could NOT get enough of Uncle Pat!
Pictures the night before Pat left
(Tuesday, 9/23)

Again, Rebecca & Uncle Pat have the same expression!
Love it!

Thanks again Pat for cutting down & pulling out my trees, for trimming the rest of the trees, and for cutting down my blackberry bush. You and Tony worked really hard while I went and played in Phoenix. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! My backyard is going to look so good!!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My make-over

I got my hair cut today! I haven't had it cut since April - I try to explain to the stylist the cut that I want, and inevitably I get something different and am always disappointed. However, this time I knew I wouldn't be. See, I saw this fabulous girl at Home Depot two Saturdays ago (Rebecca, Mary-Gail, & I were searching for clearance lawn/garden/outdoor items). When I asked this girl, Ali, who cuts her hair, she said her husband did and gave me his card. I called the salon and scheduled an appointment for last Thursday, but had to reschedule since I would be in Phoenix. I was so anxious to get my hair done that I made everyone else anxious too. JoJo, CarCar, Mom, & Tony were all so excited for me and called me to wish me luck (Tony gave me kisses and said I'd be beautiful no matter what. What a great guy!).

Mike, my NEW stylist, cut my hair exactly the way I wanted it - just like his wife's hair. Here's some before & after pics - hands down the after pics are MUCHO MEUJER!

Is there a way to re-attach hair?
Having some fun with my old ponytail

The ever-tired and not-so-glamorous me

Viola!

LOVE the back! It's cut on a slant which is super for my untamable cowlicks!

I'm so happy! I even made a 2nd appointment with Mike!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Leaving Phoenix

video

It's 3:30 am Sunday morning. We're packed up and leaving Phoenix, but we've added another passenger...Carly! She's coming home for 2 weeks to help with a Provider's Fair in SLC and teach her pre-marital clinic. She'll be flying home Sunday, October 5th - the day after running the St. George Marathon.

Notice Reese's expression when she asks, "Why does Spencer have to go to school?"

Priceless!

Saturday starts with Fit Kids

Jo & Jed have a DVD called Fit Kids w/Denise Austin. The kids' school uses this DVD to encourage activity and stretching, so we popped it in and started our day off right. Gage led the way:

video


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After breakfast we got dressed and sent the kids to play. They discovered Carly's back patio. They played there for a while until their feet hurt from the poky grass. Time to go to the pool!

We have sensitive feet!

Friday's hang time

Naptime
Cy decided he was going to sit on top of Mary-Gail. Imagine this: Cy (17 months & 28 lbs) versus Mary-Gail (22 months & 22 lbs). The parents intervened before any damage could be done. Cy hasn't experienced Mary-Gail's alligator roll :)

Cy is still trying to tackle Mary-Gail. She does pretty good one-handed doesn't she?

Loving their favorite teacher, Rachel, from Signing Time

JoJo & baby Taylor
(neither of them are "pretending" to sleep - they both were out cold!)
Reese Carly & Carly Sue. Reese has Carly's hair caught in her toes

Gage says he is too big to take naps anymore
(he's 5 yrs old)

Sometimes Rebecca & Mary-Gail think they're too big for naps too

Supper at Car's

Thursday night we rolled into Phoenix around 6:30pm. Carly had dinner ready for us. What a great Aunt!


Carly's RED WALL: she finished painting it a few days before we came and it looks awesome! The tile in the dining area is the same tile through out the entry way and living room. The tile in the kitchen, hallway, and bathrooms is a lighter shade, but the same size tile.

Phoenix pictures!

There are a 100 pictures of our road trip to Phoenix and most of them are from the drive down. YIKES - it was a long drive, but the kidlets did amazingly well. Hallelujah!
My song of "If you're happy and you know it..." didn't go over so well
So we colored instead

Mary-Gail holding her coloring stick

Reese showing us her "r's" & a picture of Uncle Spencer's house and school
(Spencer's house is the colored mound on the left;
his school is the stacked blocks on the right)
Reese drew Kai & her whiskers. Kai is Carly's cat

Here is Kai with her claws out - more appropriate since Kai
"bats" at the kids

Boys are chillin'
video

Happy Pappy wrangling the kids for a picture at Glen Canyon Dam
We stopped at Glen Canyon Dam for lunch and to let the kids run around

Pappy is handing out candy (of course)

Rebecca has her KitKat & takes off;
Mary-Gail is anxiously waiting for her KitKat from Pappy
Candy, Candy, Candy!!!
Gage sitting in Baby Taylor's car seat eating his PBJ
Jed smelling Gage's shoe to see if he stepped in poop
(it was just brown dirt)
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Loaded back up and hit the road again.
I traded cars and rode the last 4 hours w/Jed, Gage, & Cy

Cy playing with Gage in the car

Kemp Kuties on the Charleston Pier

Kemp Kuties on the Charleston Pier
September 2007