Thursday, January 7, 2010

Baby Sign Language

When Lil Hoot started showing definite signs of a willful personality and frustration at her inability to be articulate, I thought it was time to look into baby signing. I did a bit of looking and the two most popular books seemed to be Baby Signs and The Baby Signing Book.

I checked out both from the library but I definitely prefer The Baby Signing Book. Perhaps it is just my personality (a touch Type A) but the book is laid out in a very organized fashion. I found the break down by age and the suggestions for how to choose signs very helpful. The dictionary in the back can be a tad confusing but any text that tries to show movement can be confusing. I choose the signs using their dictionary as a guide but then look for videos online if I am confused.

Baby Signs was written in more of a prose style that felt disorganized and meandering to me. I was quite overwhelmed by how to choose signs after reading their chapter for Lil Hoot's age group. I found their shameless promotion of their other products to be off-putting. They also completely dismiss the AAP's recommendation of no television for children under the age of two by saying that the AAP meant non-educational TV, not DVDs like theirs. I have read several books that give a scientific backing on the AAP's recommendation and feel that this dismissal is ill-advised and obviously self-serving.

I received The Baby Signing Book for Christmas and am now trying to add a few signs to my vocabulary each week. I found two handed signs very difficult until Lil Hoot reached the age where she could sit up and be mobile for herself - she is obviously in the mobile stage now! She already recognizes "milk" and "all done". We also consistently use "dog", "water", "bath", "want" and "more". I have added "ball", "block" and "fan" this week.

Did you sign with your kiddos? If so, what signs did you find the most helpful? What signs did your kids like the most? Any tips or tricks for remembering to sign consistently?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Banana Nut Muffins

Big Hoot gave me a food processor for Christmas and I am LOVING it. I have only a hand mixer and a blender, both of which seem ready to die, so I am learning to use the food processor instead. This past week, as the title suggests, I made banana nut muffins. We had TONS of bananas on hand from our co-op and I needed to use them up. I thought muffins would be handier as a grab and go snack than a loaf of bread. I used the following recipe from Food Network. My notes are shown in italics.

Banana Nut Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 overripe bananas

1 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup pecans, chopped *I used walnuts instead.

*I added 1/2 t. of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and lightly butter 2 muffin tins.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture. With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together like you mean it, for a good 3 minutes. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla and beat well, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Fold in the nuts and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins to fill them about halfway. Give them a rap on the counter to get any air bubbles out.

Bake until a toothpick stuck in the muffins comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before turning the muffins out. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*I used a food processor rather than a mixer and 'whipped' them together in mere seconds. I used a 1/3 c. measuring cup to ladle the batter more evenly into the tins. My muffin tins made 18 muffins. I had a few larger ones and they didn't set as well in the center. In the future I plan to better mash the bananas they had me set to the side and add some chunkier nuts to the top for 'decoration'. Stored in an airtight container it seems they will last about 5 days, though they are getting a little sticky and are better microwaved a few seconds these last 2 days.