Sunday, February 28, 2010

End of an Era

Sebastian no longer uses a pacifier. This is huge. He's had one since he was two weeks old, and has always been ridiculously attached to it. He's always been a very quick eater, and when he was tiny, that meant that he'd breastfeed until he was full and still want to suck. So he'd eat too much and then be miserable. Solution: introduce the pacifier. That way, he could eat until he was full and then stop. If he still wanted to suck, he could do that without making himself sick.

We started with soothie pacifiers, and he really liked them. The only problem was that he'd spit them out and the dogs would eat them. We went through at least a dozen until we had enough. Enter our savior: the Wubbanub. It's a soothie pacifier with a little stuffed toy attached to it, to keep the paci from flying even if it's spit out. It also gives little uncoordinated hands something bigger to grab onto and helps reduce the need for parents to constantly do "paci patrol." Seriously, I recommend these to everyone I know who has a baby. Best baby item we ever got, hands down.

Sebastian has the froggy one. We call it his Froggy Friend. He LOVES that thing. One of his first words was "bah," which is how he says "frog." For the first 18 months of his life, that thing has been his best friend. We bought several just in case so that we'd always have one available. He has a green one for daytime use, and a "nighttime frog" that is purple. Miss Purple Frog stays in his crib and is only available for naps. He puts her back in his crib when we leave his room, and then waves "bye bye" to her. It's adorable.

We were wondering how in the world we were ever going to break his addiction to his "bah." How could we take away his best friend? Would it be a disaster? Would he freak and throw tantrum after tantrum if we dared take it away? We figured there was no point even trying right now, with the new baby coming so soon and everything, and hoped that a natural situation for pacifier-weaning would present itself. And amazingly, it ended up doing just that, sooner than we had hoped, even.

About a week ago, Sebastian bit through the pacifier part of the green frog he's had since he as two weeks old. That's a pretty good run for something that has pretty much been used daily for a year and a half. We quickly took the frog from him and cut the tip off, so he wouldn't be able to choke on the flap of silicone hanging off of it. We gave the frog back to him, and told him that it was "broken," but that it was still ok. He put it in his mouth, and got a very concerned look on his face. Then he held it up to us and put his hands up, his way of saying "uh-oh." We told him that the pacifier was broken, but that the frog was still ok and he could still play with it. So he ran off with it and was fine. (At the time, he had two green frogs that were in rotation, but one of them was MIA since he hid it somewhere, so we didn't look for it and just went with the "broken" frog. He found the intact one a day or two later, but it was spirited away when he wasn't looking and he hasn't noticed...)

He still had Miss Purple Frog in his crib for naps and bedtime, of course, and that was fine with us. We figured getting rid of the nighttime frog would be much more of a disaster, since he uses it to comfort himself if he wakes at night. Well, a few nights ago, he was putting the pacifier of the purple frog into his mouth, clamping down with his teeth, and pulling. We warned him several times that he should stop, or he would break it. He kept right on doing it anyway, until he ripped the tip right off. So that frog, too, was cut for safety, and we had to tell him that he broke it, and that was just how things were. He did the same "uh-oh" thing, and kept pointing to the broken part, but really seemed to understand that he did it, and there was no going back.

We braced ourselves for a horrendous night of no nighttime frog. We had the back-up intact frog on a shelf in the laundry room, in case the situation got dire, but figured now was as good a time as any to try a frog-less night. Well, not frog-less, because he still got to take Miss Purple Frog to bed. But she wasn't her old self. Amazingly, the night went wonderfully. He woke up once around 2am, cried for a few minutes, and went back to sleep. Without a pacifier. We were flabbergasted. He even slept until like 6:30am, which is late for him. Subsequent nights have gone equally well, even with teething woes. He did wake up two nights ago and had trouble going back to sleep, but that wasn't frog-related.

So we're paci-free! Once in a while he still comes up to us, frog in hand, and points to the "broken" part, puts his hands up and says "Oooh" in a sad voice, as if to say, "Look, my frog is broken, but it's ok." Then he either happily trots off with it in his hand, or gives it to us for safe-keeping. I have no idea where the frog is right now. And we don't have to go on a frog-hunt when we leave the house anymore. He seems totally fine without it. He seems to be babbling more, now, too...go figure, without something in his mouth all the time.

It'll be interesting to see what happens if Oliver takes to the pacifier and there's one available again. We have a pair of Monkey Wubbanubs reserved for him. I'm hoping that Sebastian will be ok with the fact that the frogs are for him, and the monkeys are for his brother. Time will tell.

But for now, his froggy friend is just a toy. It's the end of an era, and somehow that's a bit bittersweet. It's yet another piece of evidence telling me that my baby is actually a little boy now. And that's as it should be. Good thing I'll have a new itty bitty before long, eh? One big boy and one baby. Sebastian is already living up to his title as big brother. What a good boy.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

ENT Appointment

We went to the ENT today with Sebastian to check out his potential restricted frenulum (tongue-tie) issue. Of course I was actually debating on not taking him after all, because (no joke) the day AFTER making the appointment, he started working N, T, and D into his babbling arsenal. Those are the very sounds I was worried about (and the ones that could be difficult with a tongue-tied kiddo). So I was kind of expecting the appointment to be a bit of a waste, but figured we might as well go anyway.

Yeah, so turns out he's totally fine. Frenulum isn't restricted, might be a bit short, but nothing that would need clipping (now or in the future). Sebastian did awesome at the appointment...he was VERY quiet and reserved. That isn't altogether out of character for him around new people/places, but was pretty strange nonetheless, since he's usually such a maniac when we're out and about. I guess the doctor's office freaked him out a bit. The PA and doc were both really nice, as was the receptionist, and were obviously all familiar with kids and tried to make him as comfortable as possible.

Sebastian let them look in his ears and his nose just fine, but shook his head when we asked him to open his mouth, show us his teeth, or show us his tongue. So in went the tongue depressor, and he was even ok with that for a bit. He only started crying a bit when the doc kept it in for a while longer to let Ken take a look, but then he stopped and Sebastian was fine. I didn't get a look because I was holding him, but I trust the doc's appraisal.

So it looks like Sebastian's late-ish talking isn't from any organic cause. Which is good, I guess. No, it is good. It means that he'll probably just get that "language explosion" everyone keeps talking about a bit later than some other kids. But I know it'll happen. He's already babbling SO much more (and trying out repeating words, too) in just the last week, it's pretty amazing. We'll keep working with him on making different sounds, repeating, etc. And he'll get it.

Maybe we should have just waited a while longer, but all in all I'm glad we went. At least now I don't have to worry about it anymore. Now we can move forward and let him do things at his own pace (ok, ok, I'll probably push a little harder than most people would, but hey, it's my job as his mother AND an SLP, right?). In any case, I'm like 80% sure he said "tee-gah" for "tiger" this evening (Ken heard it too!), and that's CRAZY progress compared to "a-bah" for everything. Baby steps, eh?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

18 month pediatrician visit

We had Sebastian's 18 month ped visit yesterday, and it went great. He weighs 26 lb 13 oz, and is 33 1/2 inches tall. We asked about some turning in of his toes that he's had for ages, and the pediatrician did confirm that he has some tibial torsion going on, especially in his left leg/foot. It's nothing serious, and usually resolves itself without intervention. I had it, too, when I was a baby, and had casts on both legs when I was less than a year old to correct it. Apparently they don't do casts anymore (thank goodness), and it doesn't affect his walking/running/climbing like a manic, so they told us not to worry about it. But at least we knew we weren't crazy wondering about his feet pointing inward.

He's on track (or ahead) on all milestones, with the possible exception of expressive language. The pediatrician was not actually very concerned since he DOES have about a dozen words, and tons more signs, and his receptive language is fantastic. But after I told her about my concerns (having a limited repertoire of consonant/vowel sounds even in babbling, etc.), she said it wouldn't hurt to get his speech looked at. She admitted that some of what I was talking about was over her head, because she wasn't an SLP, but that if I was concerned, it might be good to get him checked out.

She gave me the number for Child Find in our area (early intervention in the school system where I work...), and said I could call them for an evaluation if I wanted to. She also said that taking him to an ENT would be another step to check into, because of the possible tongue-tie issue. She left it up to us what we were going to do.

We talked about it for a while, and decided to check into the tongue-tie possibility first. If it's a simple matter of him just needing his frenulum clipped for him to start using more varied sounds, it seems like a whole speech evaluation wouldn't make much sense anyway. The most they could do would be to confirm that they, too, had suspicious about tongue-tie, and refer us to an ENT. So we'll cross that bridge first, and go from there. If we need to, we can take him for a speech evaluation later, but I think I'd still like to wait a while and work with him on my own before we start that process.

We're really focusing on getting him to verbalize more rather than just sign, and there has already been a bit of a difference at least in his attempts...he picked up on the fact that we wanted him to verbalize instead of (or in addition to) signing, and he's doing it. But everything is still pretty much a variation of "bah," so not much different there. I really just wonder if he CAN'T get his tongue up to say T, D, N, etc.

Anyway, so I called an ENT that a friend recommended (she took her son to him for ear issues), and they had an appointment for this Tuesday! So we'll be taking him on Tuesday morning to go get checked out. I'm NOT looking forward to the appointment at all, mostly because it'll be a nightmare holding him down and prying his mouth open so they can get a look in there. I've been trying to get him to do it for months, but there's no hope. He'll sometimes open his mouth to say "ah" when I ask him to, but there's no way I can get a look under his tongue...gah.

We'll have them check his lingual frenulum (one under his tongue) as well as the upper one between his upper lip and gums, as it seems pretty short, too, and extends between his front teeth. I don't know that it is affecting anything, but worth checking it out, right? He doesn't really ever smile where you can see his teeth, so I wonder if he just can't retract his lips because of it. Who knows.

I really wonder what they'll say, and what they'll recommend we do (if anything). The receptionist said that for younger babies they will sometimes do the tongue-clip procedure (frectomy) in the office, but for older kiddos it has be done in the OR. That kind of scares me but I guess we'll see how it goes.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sebastian Meets Refined Sugar

So Sebastian has been going a little stir-crazy being cooped up inside for like a week because of the snow. We go outside every day for at least SOME sort of walk, but we can't go to the playground or anything because it's like 3 feet under snow, and the roads still aren't great so we can't go anywhere else like the mall (not that I'd want to, with all the OTHER people trying to get their kids out, too...). So we've basically been in our house. And have taken a few trips to my parents' house. But the poor kid is going NUTS (and so are we...). We try to let him run around as much as we can, but it's just not the same as being outside or playing on the playground, kwim?

ANYWAY, so we took a looooong walk today to try to get some of his energy out, which sort of worked. He discovered puddles for the first time, really, and LOVED them. It was adorable and I wish I'd brought my camera just to catch the pure JOY on his face as he splashed around. Ahh well, next time. But of course after our long walk trudging through snow and slippery icy streets, I was feeling like crap (I'm still supposed to be "taking it easy"...yeah, right, with the week we've had!). So I had a few chocolate chip cookies and went upstairs to lie down for a little while and Ken played with Sebastian.

Now apparently at some point during the 30 minutes I was upstairs, the dogs somehow made some huge mess that Ken was cleaning up while Sebastian wandered around the living room. (Usually totally's toddler-proofed for the most part.) But neither of us realized that the plate of cookies I'd been munching on had been left on the table, with two pretty good-sized cookies still on it.

You can see where this is going. Sebastian very happily (and quietly) chowed down on TWO chocolate chip cookies. This is the kid who has probably had like 4 cookies in his life, and whose sugar intake is generally limited to fruit, water-with-a-little-juice-in-it, and the occasional graham cracker. Even the sugar in fruit makes him kind of hyper (and he's quite the firecracker as it is), so we definitely limit the refined stuff.

So afterward, he was a MANIAC. Like running around laughing his head off, positively cackling and grinning like a loon. Came tearing up the stairs to find me, jumped on the bed, and proceeded to try to dance on me while I tried to keep him from jumping TOO vigorously on his little brother. Even changing his diaper he was lying there on the changing table laughing hysterically and saying "HEE HEE!" It was hysterical. I've NEVER seen him so wound up. Makes me wish we had a video camera.

We ended up taking him to my parents' house so he'd have a new venue to run around for a while because he was SO spazzy and was trying to go up and down our million stairs at the speed of light....I was scared he'd hurt himself! My parents couldn't believe how hyper he was...we all just laughed and agreed that refined sugar was better in SMALL doses for our little Tasmanian devil!

Just had to pics or anything (don't think they would have come out anyway, fast as he was moving!), but hopefully you can just IMAGINE little Sebastian running amok. It was a sight to behold...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Animal Sound Hilarity

It's the little things that Sebastian does, these days, that are often the most hilarious. Lately, he's into animal sounds. His favorites are "cock-a-doodle-doo" (which just sounds like "coo-cuh-coo-coo") and "moo." He's been doing "quack" for ages, but the others are more recent acquisitions.

But what is Sebastian's take on what dogs say? "Shh!" Hahahahahaha! The first time he did this I nearly fell off my chair. Of course our dogs are pretty quiet in general, and don't really bark like other dogs do. Sometimes they "Rrrrooo" when they see something outside or when Gandalf bugginig us for food, but not a lot of barking. So when the dogs do start making noise, we usually tell them to "shhh." Sebastian loves helping us order the dogs around, so he "shh"s too.

And apparently, this has generalized. When you ask him, "Sebastian, what does a dog say?" or "What does Gandalf say?" he puts his finger up by his lips and says "Shhh!" No matter how much we try to convince him that dogs say "woof," or "roo," he's not having it. I think he's doing it now just because it's funny, because after he says it, he breaks out into a huge grin and says, "ha ha ha!" He's such a goof. I'm glad he has such a fun sense of humor. I love this kid!

Saturday, February 6, 2010


So right now the east coast is getting pelted with snow. We have upwards of two feet of snow right now, and it's still coming down. The BLIZZARD OF 2010 OMG was not so benign for our little family, even though we totally weren't stressed beforehand, and just planned to hang out at home and enjoy being snowed in. Not so much.

It started with our power going out at 2am last night. Of course the baby monitor starts going nuts because there's no power, so we go and turn it off and crack Sebastian's door so we'll hear him if he wakes up. Go back to sleep. At 5, he wakes up, and still no power. We get up and he's annoyed because his morning routine generally consists of hanging out with Ken downstairs, eating a banana and some oatmeal, and watching Blue's Clues. Of course, that is not an option because a)we can't use the microwave to make the oatmeal, and b)we can't use the TV to watch anything. So we just had to keep telling him the TV was broken.

Meanwhile, it's dark and cold (at this point it was like 60 inside), and getting colder. Fast forward like 5 hours until 10 (though it was NOT fast by any means, in real time, because Sebastian was getting more and more bored and cold by the minute) and Sebastian went down for a nap. We called the power company and they were estimating 5pm for getting our power back. Umm, our house is getting colder by a degree or more an hour. It would have been like 40 degrees or below by 5pm. So we start trying to figure out if we can get out and go to my parents' house (about 2 miles away).

Walking isn't an option with a toddler and me being almost 35 weeks pregnant, and supposedly "taking it easy" to keep contractions to a minimum. Our van is not good in the snow, nor does it have four-wheel-drive. So my dad/hero gets his SUV dug out and comes to get us. But has to come a really back way because there are two huge trees down on the road on the main way to our house. We manage to get packed up and get back to their house (though was touch and go several times). When we left, our house was at 52 degrees.

We have coffee and some warm lunch, and things are looking up. Then we get a call like an hour after we get there that power is back (nearly 12 hours later). I guess we should have just stayed at home. But who knew, right, and we were worried about getting stranded in our freezing house. So my dad wanted to wait another hour or so to see if road crews would come take care of the trees. We did, and then packed up to go back home, because we didn't want to get stuck at my parents' house either (particularly because the dogs were still at our house).

The way we came was much more precarious so we went the main way, and there was even one MORE tree in the road. Crap. So we ended up walking the last half mile, through deep snow, carrying a toddler and three bags (we had packed in case we had to stay the night). My dad parked his car up on the street that was blocked by the tree and walked back with us, to help carry Sebastian. (Which was amazing, because there's no way I could have carried him, as hard as it was just to get myself (and Oliver) home as it was. Ken had the bags.)

We got home, exhausted, wet, but safe. Then my dad goes to walk back to his car, and realizes he doesn't have his keys. CRAP AGAIN! He somehow dropped them on the way from the car to our house. In two feet of snow. Ahh! So Ken and my dad go walk back to the car and try to look for them, but of course no luck. My mom ended up meeting my dad halfway between THEIR house and the car with the other set of keys, and then they walked back to the car together and drove it home. Gah! They've given up the keys for lost...Ken looked on his way back, too, but of course they're nowhere to be found.

What insanity, eh? Everyone is home, now, though, safe and warm. But what a DAY! I was so looking forward to just a chill day inside, waiting for our awesome vegetable stew to be ready in the crock pot, hanging out on the couch and watching the winter wonderland outside. But instead we got this. I am not amused, Mother Nature.

Anyway, just had to share....I hope everyone else getting snow has fared better than we did. I'll post pics later tonight when S is asleep and I can get some guaranteed uninterrupted computer time. Right now Sebastian is enjoying his second episode of Blue's Clues in a row and I don't feel the tiniest bit guilty. He deserves a break too.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Language Inventory

Because I've been meaning to do it for ages, here it is for posterity. Sebastian is 18 months old today. His receptive vocabulary is fantastic, in both English and Finnish. Conversationally, he understands probably 1000+ words, including two- or more-step directions and questions. He can point to body parts, animals, household items, vehicles, and foods consistently. He is getting the hang of colors and even some letters. He holds books the right way, turns pages from left to right, and knows when words are "upside down" and will turn them "rightside up."

His expressive vocabulary is a bit more limited still, but that's normal, particularly for kids learning more than one language at a time. He does a lot of pointing and gesturing, but is generally pretty clear about expressing his wants/needs even without tons of words.

So here we go. An inventory of Sebastian's words as of 18 months. (Just a note: the "words" he uses right now are more like word approximations and rarely sound exactly like the words they're supposed to be. But we know what they mean.) What I can remember off the top of my head right now, at least.

Consistent words:
frog ("baaah")
more ("mah")
on ("ahh")
Blue's Clues (ok this one is pathetic...but he's obsessed lately...he says "boo boo" in a high pitched voice with his hands by his face like in the show...sigh)

ball ("bah")

Inconsistent words:
apple ("ah-pah")
down ("ow")
Ella (one of the dogs) "eh-wah"
Pan (one of the cats) "pah"
book "boo"
help (he uses the Finnish word for help, actually: "auta," which he pronounced "awah")
walk "wah"

yes (nodding)
no (shaking head)
all done
come here
hi/bye (wave)

I'll talk to Ken later and see if he can think of any more. But for now, there they are. He's really starting to babble more different sounds now, so I'm thinking the expressive language explosion is right around the corner.

Edited on 2/8/10 to add that Sebastian is now quite proficient at signing "snow" after the weekend we've had. Oy.