Damien has been obsessed with music since he was an infant. He loves to play it and he loves to listen to it. Before he was a year, he was already blowing whistles and harmonicas and exploring anything and everything musical. He was also obsessed with Raffi.
As a young child, Aiden wasn’t a huge fan of listening to children’s music. We have dozens of CD’s, downloaded or borrowed from the library, but they always made him upset. Too much going on? Possibly. He loved classical music, though he did enjoy having us sing children’s songs to him (and he was miming several before a year too).
When Damien came along, we were already in the habit of not playing kids music as frequently. When we did, it became clear that both children now had a preference for Raffi. Though Damien will listen to other music (particularly when live), he went through 6 months of being obsessed with Raffi. To our great advantage, it was something that would instantly calm him down. If he was tired or fussy, all I had to do was turn on some Raffi music on my phone and he would relax and suck his thumb.
As a very fussy child, the ability to play Raffi music was a miracle to us! It bought us the half hour we needed of lap time to get to Keats Island on the water taxi and it bought us nearly 3 hours of fuss-free time on the way to Kelowna (see Raffi-induced naps above). If he was fussy before it was nap time? Raffi. If we were grocery shopping and he didn’t want to sit in the cart? Raffi. Such a lifesaver. It was not a permanent solution, but it bought me a good 10 minutes when it was needed!
Damien was so obsessed with Raffi, I think he overdosed. Most times we attempt to play Raffi now, he wants a specific song that he of course cannot yet vocalize, so the experience is frustrating for him, and for us, since we own every Raffi CD. Damien’s first sentence, 2 months ago, was: “I don’t want Baby Beluga,” when he was going through a very anti-Baby Beluga phase (now over). It’s his only sentence to date, too!
I have to say, though, as far as kids music goes, Raffi is the best. It’s mellow, it’s catch, and it’s usually not annoying. Most CDs for kids are overly perky or upbeat, which can get on your nerves after a while!
Our Favourite Raffi CDs:
Baby Beluga and Singable Songs for the Very Young
Damien turned 1 last month and we held a big party for him, complete with 4 of his little friends and their older siblings, as well as some of our extended family. It was so great to get together with all the people who have supported us as our family has grown in the past few years.
Coming up with a theme for Damien’s birthday was not easy, so I decided to combine his love of balls, sand and the Gymboree parachute into a colourful beach theme with a parachute / beach ball cake. My wonderful mother-in-law ran with the idea and came up with an adorable cake and cupcakes.
We continued the theme with extra beach balls and bubbles, some themed balloons, and ‘found’ decor from our stash of beach toys. Food was a primary decorative element, from the ocean-themed candy to the shark watermelon that Ianiv carved.
It was a wonderful birthday! Thanks to everyone who came to enjoy our little Damien!
We started using some sign language with both boys starting at around 6 months old. I used an iPhone app to learn some basic signs with Aiden and it was really useful. I found that he picked up the most useful signs very quickly – more, milk, all done, tired – but never seemed interested in non-urgent signs for things (like bird, etc). Most of the signs went away as Aiden’s vocabulary grew, though to this day you can sometimes see him unconsciously sign “please” when he’s asking for something – it’s quite cute.
Damien shows me the balloon on the ceiling, mixing his words (bah-l’n) with his gestures (Up).
With Damien, he was not as obvious with his hand communication to indicate he was ready for signs, but we began introducing them anyway and started signing around 7 months. As soon as he had one sign and realized we were communicating, other signs very quickly followed. Interestingly enough, I almost began EC training with Damien, since his signs were very clear before he needed to go and I already knew he hated his diaper, but it was just too tough with two kids and he eventually got over it.
Damien is very clear with his signs… when he wants to be. At around 10 months, we decided to try to make his use of signs more consistent by enforcing them at meals (for the most part). Damien is a little bit crazy at meal times – he wants to eat, eat, EAT and it can be overwhelming when he’s yelling or banging to be fed more and faster. In order to give him more tools to ask for what he wants, we insisted he use the sign for “more” (which he didn’t have, but we were hoping he’d develop) and within one morning he was using it. We weren’t super strict about it, but we made (and continue to make) it clear that we prefer he use his signs or words to ask for more. There are times, of course, when he’s making himself clear or he’s tired and asking for a sign just pisses him off – we’re not mean about it.
The use of “more” definitely brought his yelling down a notch, though I’m sure we could make even more progress if we were consistent about it.
Since we started teaching Damien signs, he has also developed a fairly sizeable vocabulary, so he uses both in conjunction, though he’ll often sign “all done” rather than use his words. Just like Aiden, he’s modified some of his signs to be personal to him. He abandoned the sign for “milk”, for example, and instead refers to breastmilk and to water with his “water” sign, which I think he uses to mean “thirsty” instead.
In a more confusing customization, his “more” sign is to clap his hands together. I think that our early enforcement of this sign caused him to create the sign in his own way before he understood how to make the pinched fingers, and the personalized sign has simply stuck (as they tend to).
So, if you see Damien clapping, it’s not always because he’s happy… sometimes he wants more of something! And yes, that IS very confusing!
Although I took the time to wish my Damien a very happy first birthday, I have yet to catch up on his amazing changes during the month. He has a very determined and independent personality that is asserting itself more each day. For example, be prepared for tears if he wanted to go into the bathroom to flush the toilet, but you closed the door! Doesn’t like his food? He’ll find a way to throw it onto the floor, no matter how hard you try to stop him. Despite his early ability to purposefully not listen to his parents, Damien was a joy to be around during the month – much less fussy!
- Weight 23lbs 5oz
- Sleeps 11-11.5 hours a night, waking about once a week during the night
- Can easily climb up stairs and ramps. Look out parks! He was able to climb the stairs of a play structure and go down the slide all on his own
- Can go down slides on his own. Doesn’t seem to mind tipping backwards, when it happens.
- Will finger walk (and run)… when he wants to. Still not super solid, but relying less on help with each day
- Can stand independently for a few seconds if he forgets to hold on to something
- Starting to share toys and food
- Favourite foods: yam soy paper rolls, butter chicken, yogurt, toast, smoothies, baked yams, pasta, freeze dried yogurt, raisins
- Loves to play at the train table, particularly if it involves pushing the tracks off
- Comes out with new words almost every day, and often can be heard attempting words or the first sounds in words to show you what he sees. You have to listen closely, as he’s not likely to repeat it and it’s fairly quiet
- Had his first visit to the lake (Trout Lake) where he played happily sans clothes in the water and the mud
- Many of his words are becoming clearer. Book went from “boo” to “hoop” and touch went from “ta” to a clear “touch” and shoes from “boos” to “shhuhs”
- Will push around cars, trains etc on the floor or down the garage ramp
- Has discovered the ability to put one thing inside another (like a block in a cup)
- Can do the hand signs for “Zoom, Zoom”
- Loves to blow kisses, particularly at night
- Will open the bath drain at the end of his bath
- Loves to throw everything.
- Can bound on the trampoline on his bum or standing, if holding something. Will bounce on the spot to request someone bounce him higher.
- New words that we hear often: sna (snack), hog, mow (meow), wow, hair, tree, bush, shoes, hello, play, hoop
- Clearest word to date: garbage. He said it once, but it was crystal clear.
- Said his first 2-word sentence, “Aiden hair,” when Aiden put his head down on the stroller
What is it about corn on the cob that kids love so much? Aiden has always loved corn, kernel or otherwise, whereas Damien is an only on the cob kind of snob. Still, it’s so cute to see them eat it!
The photos show Aiden at 17 months and Damien at 11.5 months.