Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What is going on?

I don't know what has happened, but Della has made more progress in the past month than she has in the past 10 months. Whatever the reason, I will take it! She pulls to her knees in her crib in order to reach the window blinds so that she can bang them against the wall...at 5 AM.

Archer's preschool held it's annual Art "Fest-i-ble" last Saturday. He drew a picture of himself when he is all grown up and working as a detective. Although he has since changed his mind and wants to be a spy. When asked what a spy does, he answered "Spies find out people's secrets and look in their windows to watch what they are doing." I think that might be illegal...

With his teacher Miss Sara...

Akward smile on the pony ride...

What, you don't tape leaves on the side of your head to pretend you are a rabbit? You are missing out!

Friday, April 25, 2008

"That's Amazable!" -Archer

Everyone knows that an infant's first 12 months are the most important period of development in their life. All you have to do is look at a newborn baby and a 12 month-old. The leaps they make in development is nothing short of amazing. A huge part of this progression is a child's interaction with the world around them. They bat at toys, bang objects together, and put everything in their mouths. Each new interaction creates new neuropathways in the brain and that is why it is imperative for infants to get a variety of experiences (being read to, played with, handling different kinds of toys, etc). In fact some of the most important neuropathways are formed during "tummy time." Research has shown that children who were born under the "back to bed" (sleeping infants on their backs) campaign and didn't get enough "tummy time" as infants have an elevated risk of learning disabilities. Infants create strong neuropathways that help the brain to "focus and attend." Maybe this has to do with the rising rates of ADD? Make sure your infants are getting enough tummy time, it is so important. To read more about the advantages of the prone position, here is an article.

Onto the real reason of my post. Children who have developmental disabilities (autism, Down Syndrome, etc) or physical disabilities (cerebral palsy, etc) don't get the interaction with their enviornments that other infants do. Mostly because of delays in crawling and walking. So three researchers at the University of Delaware got together and built a "robot" that babies can drive. Sunil Agrawal, professor of mechanical engineering, James Galloway, associate professor of physical therapy, and Ji-Chul Ryu, a doctoral candidate in UD’s Department of Mechanical Engineering built the UD1 (pictured above). Infants as young as 7 months have learned to maneuver it!

From the article:

“If these infants were adults, therapists would have options of assistive technology such as power wheelchairs,” Galloway said. “Currently, children with significant mobility impairments are not offered power mobility until they are 5-6 years of age, or older. This delay in mobility is particularly disturbing when you consider the rapid brain development during infancy. Their actions, feelings and thinking all shape their own brain's development. Babies literally build their own brains through their exploration and learning in the complex world.”

When a baby starts crawling and walking, everything changes for everyone involved. “Now consider the negative impact of a half decade of immobility for an infant with already delayed development,” Galloway said. “When a baby doesn't crawl or walk, everything also changes. Immobility changes the infant, and the family. Given the need, you would think that the barriers to providing power mobility must be insurmountable. In fact, the primary barrier is safety.” Therapists and parents fear a young child in a power wheelchair might mistakenly go the wrong way, end up in a roadway and get hit by a car."

The model now in development will have a remote control for the parents to use to steer their child clear of any danger. If you want to read more about the UD1 here is the article. I find this all very fascinating but I studied child development and speech pathology so I am a little biased.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Best Idea Ever (almost)

A friend told be about this site called "blurb." It is a company that will PRINT OUT YOUR BLOG! I have been wondering for a long time what the best way would be to keep a hard copy of this digital journal. Blurb has a program that you download for free. It will then "slurp" your blog off of the internet and put it into book form. You can edit the text, take out and rearrange pictures, etc. Then you can get it made for a really reasonable price. A 10x8 book that is 20-40 pages is $19.99 for a softcover and $30.oo for a hardcover. The price only increases $2 for 41-80 pages! There is a smaller book that starts at $12.95. Anyway, it is pretty cool. I think we are going to do books by date, like a yearbook/journal/scrapbook/family history. I was also thinking of all the gifts that could be made. They even has this great cookbook layout. Awesome.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Archer at Yo Gabba Gabba!

This morning Archer and I went down to audition for a small part on Yo Gabba Gabba! He loved it.
They had him start by holding a number sign and saying his name and age. He did it with a beaming smile.
They then asked him to say, "my name is Archer and I like to dance" which he was then supposed to start dancing. There was a small orange "X" taped to the ground that he was told to stay on. I got nervous because this was a lot to handle for a four year old but he did great. He was jumping, kicking, punching and twirling all the while staying right on the "X". By the time it was over, all present were laughing.
The audition itself was very fast, only a few minutes. Across the warehouse where the show is filmed we could see some of the set that was in the process of being assembled. Our friend Ryan Williams was nice enough to run us over for a quick picture.
In the end, we had a great time. We'll find out in a few weeks if he'll be on the show or not. Either way, just being there and seeing what we saw was enough for Archer.

Friday, April 18, 2008

This comment was left on my last post by Alex Gallafent, the man who did the story that I mentioned from PRI's "The World."

Hi Caitlin,

Thanks for posting about my poetry story from PRI's The World. Glad you liked it (or at least the politicians-as-trees poem..)

Would you mind creating a link to The World where you mention it? It'd be really helpful. www.theworld.org.

If were feeling particularly generous, you could find room for my name 'Alex Gallafent' and my blog 'gallafent.wordpress.com', but no pressure. Narcissism ought to have limits!

Thanks and all best,


*I have posted the links above. Thanks for all of your hard work Alex and for keeping us connected!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Two things you may not know about me...

1. I don't really like modern poetry. Call me uncivilized, but it's true. I do like some older poets such as Shelley, Dickinson, and Whitman. I also like the poetry found in the words of hymns. Other than that, I am really not interested.

2. I am a National Public Radio (NPR) junkie. I feel like I am learning something when I am in the car listening. I know that NPR may seem liberal to some, but I feel like the discussions are usually pretty balanced. Besides it's good for a conservative (who does not wholly identify with either major party) like me to not discount the other side until I know what they have to say. Anyway, I was listening to Public Radio International's "The World" on NPR and I heard this segment on "The Politics of Poetry." I was very struck by one of the poems that was read and so I am going to post it.

If Politicians Were Trees

If only politicians
were trees
we would have
much more protection;
the air
we breathe, our breeze
would be
so much freer of
sorry, i mean, pollution ...

If only politicians
were trees
we would have nothing
to fear;
we could bask in
their shade
while our children
carefree from branches ...

If only politicians
were trees
think how our budgets
& diets
would be balanced;
their fruit
flower, roots & leaves
give such rich sustenance ...
And what a bonus it
would be
if we, their constituents
hack them down
each time
they became a nuisance ...
If only politicians were trees!

Cecil Rajendra from Shrapnel Silence and Sand ....
1999, Bogle L'Ouverture Press, London

You can listen to Cecil Rajendra, the author of this poem, read it aloud on the link above. Rajendra is actually a lawyer in Malaysia and most of his cases are handled pro bono. Interesting guy. You can read more about him here.

I don't usually like to post about my political views. Mostly because I want to keep my friends. I was raised on politics. I remember vividly having a discussion with my dad in the 5th grade about what a constiuancy was, attending Chino Unified school board meetings during a financial scandal, and holding a sign protesting fireworks in front of a fireworks stand. Anyone who lives in Chino Hills, especially in Carbon Canyon, knows that dry hills and fireworks are a bad combination. Anyway, this poem really stuck a chord with me. I have heard many people theorize why my generation is so politically indifferent. I know that there has been a lot of excitement about the Democratic Nomination race, but in reality, most people my age don't vote. I think I know why. The entire political arena is disillusioning. When I voted in the last Presidential Election, I felt like I was choosing between the lesser of two evils. The pool of candidates consists of the elite rich who can afford to run. Period. I think many in my generation just don't care. I think many of us have been jaded by the self-serving motives of many politicians. Think of the recent political scandals of the past year, or 10 years. Besides, in all reality, Ben Bernake and the other 12 people who sit on the Fed have a much more powerful effect on our lives than President Bush, well, unless you are in the armed forces. I agree with Rajendra, I wish that the government was for the people, by the people. The way in was originally written in our inspired Constitution.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Yesterday Della had her endoscopy (camera down the throat) to see what was going on in her tummy. We had the sweetest Irish nurse who was wonderful with her, but unfortunately Della started to have a panic attack the second we walked into the pre-op room. They had to give her Versed (sp?) to help calm her down. It is similar to Valium. The Neurologist said that she has symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This was very evident at our last Dr. appointment when she tried to bite our Pediatric Gastroenterologist. Nice. Anyway, Della was put under for the procedure as well as for the insertion of a pH probe. This consists of a small wire that is inserted through the nose and goes down into the stomach. It measures the amount of acid Della's stomach is producing and then sends the information into a small compuer that is plugged into the other end of the probe. Needless to say Della didn't want anything in her nose and she had to be put into arm restraints to prevent her from pulling it out. We made it 24 hours and then we went back to CHOC this morning where they took out the probe. The worst part was the tape that was all over her face and head. Pulling it out of her hair was so hard to watch. Luckily we had a great Child Life Specialist who brought her therapy dog in with Della. It was a good distraction for her and she was able to pet the dog and cry at the same time. Anyway, we got some pictures back from the endoscopy and there is some evidence of erosion in her lower eshphagus and top of the stomach. Of course I would rather my daughter not have any reflux, but I am glad something was found and that the whole preocedure wasn't for nothing. Next week we meet with our Dr. to go over the results of the pH study, the biopsies, and the endoscopy. I am excited at the prospect of finally being able to do something that may help her development to speed up. Fingers crossed!

This is Della's famous "pouty face." She does it whenever she doesn't like what is going on. The most common cause is the things we make her do in physical therapy.

Why is she even smiling?

Endoscopy pics. I tried to get a close up of the erosion, but it didn't turn out.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Watching Conference With Children...

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the LDS religon, the leaders of our church speak to us twice yearly at General Conference held in April and October. General Conference is broadcast all over the world in 76 languages. The talks given are always basic doctrinal truths that are applicable to Saints regardless of age, location, and socioeconomic standing. At last October's Conference, Elder Wirthlin gave this talk on charity and the pure love of Christ. After hearing it, I am forever changed. Anyway, we were able to watch at home all four 2-hour sessions. This can be difficult with a 4-year-old boy. I don't expect him to sit through all of the sessions, that is a long time for any small child. He did well playing on the carpet and making "projects."

Here are a few of his projects...

The above picture is Archer drawing of "a very scary snowman." YIKES!

Oddly enough, the only part of General Conference that Archer sat and listened to was Elder M. Russell Ballard's talk on mothers. It just happened to be towards the end of his talk where he appealed to children to remember that they too have responsibilities in the home. He reminded younger children that they should be helping in small ways like picking up their toys and as they get older, to make their bed and put away their clothes. Elder Ballard then told children what their most important duty to their mother is "to give her lots of hugs and kisses and to tell her that you love her." That's exactly what Archer did.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Look Who Is Sitting Up!

FINALLY! It only took 15 months, but Della Belle is sitting on her own for 10-20 minutes! One night, about 2 weeks ago, she just started doing it. Like she just decided in her head that she was now ready to sit on her own.


This year our Eater Bunny went to See's Candy. Hooray! Archer finished his chocolate bunny before 10 AM. He had Della's opened and was about to take a bite before I intervened. "But Mama, Della can't eat this bunny. She is a baby," he argued. "That doesn't mean you can eat it. This is Mom..I mean Della's bunny," I answered. It was really good. Chad had to pick up some papers at home during the second hour and he confessed that he had taken one bite of the bunny and before he knew what was going on, just the bottom half was left. It's OK honey, I understand. That happens to me more than you will ever know (and far more than I am willing to confess).

Archer says "thumbs up" to eating chocolate animals...

My thoughts on the Easter Bunny...

It is a very strange thing to lie to your child. I can see why people don't like to go on and on with elaborate stories of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, etc. On the other hand, my son sees the world as a very magical place where anything is possible. The other day he asked me if I had been to space- because he thinks that I can do anything and everything. Anyway- the world isn't a magical place, and there will be a day when he figures that out. For now, I will let him enjoy his fantasies. So the day before Easter, we had the following conversation...

Archer: "Mommy, is the Easter Bunny real?"
Me: "What do you think?"
Archer: "I think it is a sneaky man in a costume."

Aaaaahhhhhh! Creepy! It was that day that we decided to have the "stranger" talk with him. Unfortunately Archer's world is a little less bright and a little more scary. Welcome to reality son.