Thursday, July 25, 2013

Watch Her Grow...

This Week's Focus: Practical Life
Q-ball helping with laundry.  She decided to also hang up the shirt she had been wearing.

Interactions with Materials
  • It seems like we didn't work with too many materials this week, somehow.  I think we spent lots of time outdoors and doing other out-of-the-house activities.  But, Q-ball's pretend play has expanded so that she now likes to take the roll of positions that she's read about or seen.  Typically, she plays a (train) engineer, but after a trip to the pool yesterday, she's been a lifeguard.  She walks around the house saying, "this engineer, this engineer, no, no, this engineer....." Over and over.  But, I we certainly know not to ask Q-ball to sit down to dinner.
Interactions with Others 
  • While it takes her a bit of time to warm up, Q-ball likes playing with similar aged kids at the park.  She'll laugh with them and frequently come and tell me that they are playing together. We clearly still need to work on how to talk to others to encourage them to want as, "Hey! Hey! Climb up here!" might not be overly welcoming.
 Practical Life
  • We have really been working on dressing ourselves this past week, and she's pretty much got it now.  It does take a bit of time, but she's typically happy to do it.  She talks through the steps as she dresses herself.  "Find the tag....put foot in hole...push through..."  She's also successfully put her sandals on now, but this is certainly not her favorite task, and she normally yells for me to do it for her.   

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Watch Her Grow...

This Week's Focus: Practical Life and Language
Making cookies (if you consider food that's sugar-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free a cookie)

Interactions with Materials
  • This week we invested in some more Legos. They were a very big hit.  She loves building tall towers.  The set also includes some construction vehicles, and she loves driving them around the house.
  • She continues to pretend that items around the house are her dog, Roxy. Typically reusable bags or slightly deflated balloons.
Interactions with Others 
  • She continues to improve in her skills with playing with others.  She willingly allows older children to help her at the park if she has climbed up too high.  And, she actually loves taking turns on equipment at the park- she considers this "playing together."  She gets really excited if another child comes to join her on a slide as she'll get to "wait on line."
  • We recently changed churches, and she is doing pretty well staying in the nursery for 30-45 minutes.  Mainly because they have lots and lots of Goldfish.
Critical Thinking
  • She is developing initial concepts of time and future events. When we have to leave a park or a store, she often wants us to assure her that we'll be able to visit "another time" or "next time."  She'll even come up with ideas (like riding a choo-choo train) and ask to do it on "Friday" or "Saturday."
  • Q-ball is a big talker.  People are always shocked by how much she can say.  During some car rides, she'll talk for up to 20 minutes at a time, and she often dominates dinner conversations.  She's been using full, complex sentences for some time.  But, I still love to hear the phrases that she uses, although this week's "nope" is not my favorite.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Practical Life at 27 Months

I can't believe how quickly Q-ball is growing and how much she is now capable of doing on her own!  Although, it can still take a bit of patience on my part to give her the chances to do them  as it much faster when I do things.  And, it can take a bit of patience on her part as it's certainly easier for her if I do things.  

  • Q-ball picks out all of her clothes when directed.
  • Q-ball can easily take off her sandals and put them away in the closet.  We are working on learning to put them on. We can do it on occasion, but need some more practice.
  • She can put on and take off underwear and pants on her own, although Mama might need to straighten them at times. 
  • She needs a little help with shirts- she's typically able to remove shirts on her own, but needs a little help getting them on.
  • If we prepare her toothbrush, Q-ball can brush her teeth by herself, but Mama or Daddy helps at least once a day to make sure all bases are covered.
  • She is working on washing her hands on her own, but we need to get a better step stool- right now she can't completely reach the facets, which is a bit of a setback.
  • After over a year of struggles and tears, she has learned to tip her head back when we are rinsing shampoo out of her hair.  This is a relief!
  • Q-ball will occasionally clean-up materials on her own, but typically needs one or two reminders.  Some days, of course, we need lots of reminders and help, but by and large, things are returned to their shelves. 
  • Q-ball helps me load and unload the washing machine and dryer.
  • She places dirty clothes and dirty towels in the correct baskets.
  • She cleans up her spills with available towels.
  • She can carry her own plate, cup, and utensils to the table.  But, this is a something that has been really difficult for Mama to get into our routine- not because I don't trust her, but because we are juggling Daddy playtime, cleaning up materials, and hand-washing before dinner. I just need to do a better job of working it into the schedule.
Eating/Food Prep
  • Q-ball lost interest in using her fork and spoon for awhile, but in about the past two weeks has taken to using her fork again- typically with little issue.
  • She can cut veggies (carrots, celery, and a few others) on her own using a special knife.   
  • We just tried pouring water for the first time in a long while. Overall it went well, but after a few minutes of practice and some excitement about the event, we did need to use a bath towel instead of a dish towel. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Placenta Encapsulation II: Why Would I Do That?

This is the second post of this Science Friday series which explores placentophagia- the act of eating the placenta after birth. While this can take several forms for humans, one of the most common is through placenta encapsulation. This post analyzes several theories that have been proposed as the cause of placentophagia.  Check out the first post here.

   The previous post discussed some of the theories that are used to explain placentophagia.  I am not very convinced by any of those theories. However, I find the evolutionary and physiological reasons very impressive, and they actually convinced me to have placenta encapsulation done following labor and delivery.  
     The evolutionary and physiological reasons for placentophagia are primarily observed through maternal behavior.  Some observations, while relatively weak, indicate an increased attachment behavior between mother and infant.  Much stronger evidence supports the positive effects that placentophagia has on lactation, presumably because the placenta’s high estrogen and lactogen content.  As an avid proponent of breastfeeding, I find this finding one of the most compelling arguments for placentophagia.  Mothers currently face countless obstacles to breastfeeding; consequently, I find any method of easing a new mom’s breastfeeding journey is immeasurably important! 

        Another evolutionary effect, although one that may not yet be possible in humans, is the placenta’s impact on the maternal immune system.  Because the fetus and fetal placenta contain aspects of both the mother and the father, a mother’s immune system could reject some antigens found in the fetus’s blood.  In humans, this is observed when an Rh negative mother is carrying an Rh positive fetus.  During her first pregnancy, she creates antibodies to fight this seemingly invading species.  These antibodies could potentially harm future Rh positive fetuses.  Humans receive can receive a Rhogam shot to counteract this reaction.  In other mammals, however, placentophagia may serve to block the creation of the antibodies.  In this way, nature has provided a way to ensure the survival of mama and babies.  As someone who requires a Rhogam shot (I just had my third a few days ago!) and who hates shots, I’m hoping for more research on this topic for human use!

Kristal, M.B. (1980). Placentophagia: A biobehavioral enigma. Neuroscience and Biohehavioral Reviews, (4)141-150.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Road Trip Activities for a Media-Free Toddler

       We recently returned from a road trip during which we logged over 1400 miles in the car.  We worked to spend as little time in the car as possible, but the first and last days of the trip required about 5-6 hours in the car (much of this was through some very, very boring country- no buildings, no trees, few hills...blah).  This can be tough for anyone, but especially for a toddler.  I searched online for ideas to entertain my toddler during the trip, but many of them involved watching DVDs or playing with other computerized games.  We are a media-free family, so I knew that I would need to be a little more creative with my activities. 
    While Q-ball was obviously ready to get out of the car when the time came and did, of course, experience some boredom and frustration, my husband and I were incredibly impressed with the patience she showed and with her ability to largely entertain herself.  Here are the activities that were most successful: As always, I'm a little blog, so I'm not getting any sort of compensation for the links below!

  1. Car Tray. This item was necessary for all others to be successful! We introduced it to Q-ball a few hours into the trip, and she wanted to use it pretty much the entire time after that!
  2. Books, books, books.  Before the trip, I spent a substantial amount of time exploring our public library's catalog for books that related to our trip.  I ended up with over 20 books!  I looked for books that included lots of pictures of the areas and specific sites we were visiting as well as descriptions of activities that we were doing.  Of course, not all the books were successful (mainly the ones with a bit too much of an academic focus), but these were Q-ball's favorite: Fred and Ted's Road Trip and Maisy Goes Camping.
  3. Toy Cars. Q-ball played with these more than any other item!  She parked them, drove them, lined them up.  They never bored her! 
  4. I Spy. I'd never played with game with Q-ball before, but she enjoyed using these print-outs from the Montessori Print Shop. (They are free!)  While she wasn't able to identify object by shape or color, she liked picking out the objects by name or, at times, by subject (something to eat, an animal, etc.)
  5. Animal Matching Cards. This is another resource from the Montessori Print Shop.  I hadn't introduced this activity to her previously, but she enjoyed naming all of the animals and matching them to their "shadow."  We certainly weren't able to achieve any sort of Montessori neatness in our matching piles, but we got the big idea!
Other tips from our travel (most are obvious, but just to confirm!)
  • Schedule naps for car rides when possible.  Q-ball hated the carseat for about the first 9 months of her life, and our road trip when she was 4-months was much prolonged as we had to stop every 15 minutes or so at times to calm her screams, but I'm happy to report, she is now a relatively happy car napper!  (Although she does still like for Mama to sing her to sleep...)
  • Have snacks and water on hand.
  • Make lots of times for active play when you are not in the car.  We used hotel swimming pools at the end of the trips and ran around some green spaces before getting in the car.  When possible, take lunch breaks at parks or restaurants with playplaces. (Q-ball had her first Happy Meal on this trip- we very, very rarely do fast food, but she loved being about to run around the playplace for an hour!)
  • Include lots of cuddles when you are not in the car!  According to Dr. Laura in Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids, although you may feel very close to your toddler when you are all stuck in a car together, a car ride can be a separation for a child. Your child needs you to make up all of this time apart with extra attention later!
  • Introduce toys steadily throughout the trip.  I waited to introduce some activities until we were two weeks into our trip, so we'd have something novel on the way home. 
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