Category Archives: guest

Benefits of Baby Sign Language (For Once? I WAS RIGHT!)

When our little niece was about 6 months old, my sister in law started teaching her baby sign language. “That’s kinda cool” I thought and tucked away in my wee brain for future reference. Fast forward 2 years later and I have my own little 6 month old. I proudly announced to Andy that I wanted to start teaching Rylee baby sign language! He was skeptic…to say the least. As a teacher, he had read all kinds of information about how teaching your baby sign language will delay speech. However, I had read my own articles about how if you teach your baby sign language, the more gestures they know by 9 months old, the larger their vocabulary will be by the time they are 4 years old. After seeing how easy it was with my little niece, I decided to go for it. We taught her some of the basic signs: More, all done, please, thank you and eat. She picked it up pretty quickly and used the signs well. Like these ones…

Fast forward to Rylee being about 18 months old and not saying Mama. Or Daddy. Or really anything but DANTE! for that matter. I really began to think that Andy was right…again…damn it.

Now fast forward about another 6 months. After a weekend away from the monster, I came home to Ry yelling “MAMA! MAMA!” After that, it was like the proverbial flood gates had opened and all of a sudden the child was saying things like , “Need help please” and “Mama, done talk daddy?” Things have just mushroomed from there.

Wha?? Where did these complete sentences come from!? Hooray! My kid isn’t completely stupid!! Oh, and that’s right…Andy was W-R-O-N-G!

(But I’m not gloating) (Ok, maybe just a little) (But of course not to him)

Fast forward another 2 months. I get an e-mail from Misty Weaver, the editor of asking me if I’d be interested in her writing a guest piece for me regarding baby sign language. When I saw that Baby Sign Language and Speech was one of the topic options I immediately thought “uhhh, shyea! (Wayne’s World style, of course)” A couple of weeks later, Misty sent me this article.

So, while I sit back and gloat that for once, I was right, please read, learn and enjoy!


Baby Sign Language and Speech
When I decided to start teaching my Baby Sign Language, well-meaning people told me that teaching my baby to sign would slow down her speech development. Most of them said something to the effect of “Why would she bother to talk if she can sign?”

I am so grateful that I did my own research before I listened to them. The research shows that just the opposite is true: Babies who learn to sign learn to speak at an earlier age than those who do not sign.

Isn’t that great news for parents?

Signing with your baby builds synapses in his little brain! Signing uses both hemispheres of the brain. When your baby hears the word, his left hemisphere is activated. When he sees you sign the word, his right hemisphere is activated. The more you sign, the more neurons are firing!

All babies learn to speak at different ages, and usually, there is no reason to panic if a toddler isn’t talking a blue streak at his second birthday party. But we want our children to be able to communicate for their own sakes. A child who can make himself heard is a happier, less frustrated child.

So why not give them the gift of sign? Linda Acredolo, Ph.D. and Susan Goodwyn, Ph.D., two of the baby signing pioneers, conducted studies which showed that at 24 months of age, signing children had vocabularies of 27 or 28-month-old children. They also found that the 24-month-old signing babies spoke in longer sentences than non-signing children.

When the children involved in their study turned 3, they were speaking at the level of a 4 year old.

Are you ready for the real shocker? At the age of 8, the signing children involved in their study had an average IQ of 114, compared to the average 102 of the non-signers involved in the study.

Marilyn Daniels, Ph.D. found that children who had grown up signing recognized letters and sounds better than non-signers, and that signing children were better spellers, and had larger vocabularies.

Are you ready for another shocker? The children in Daniels’ study who had learned to sign had higher reading levels than those who had not learned to sign.

Educators today are operating on the premise that every child has a specific learning style. Each one of us learns best via one of four ways: audio (by hearing), visual (by seeing), tactile (by using our hands), or kinesthetic (by employing large muscle groups). Teachers are taught to teach to all of these learning styles.

Baby Sign Language targets them all! Your baby hears you say the word. He sees you make the sign. He uses his hands to make the sign. And he can, and usually will, sign while using his large muscle groups. No matter which learning style your baby will grow up to prefer, you have your bases covered! Of course signing helps your baby learn language — how could it not?

So, if you run into the critics, which you will if you sign in public, tell them to do the research. The research will back you up. And your baby will back you up to!


If you have kids, are thinking about having kids or just want to learn more, I strongly urge you to check out their website. It’s really easy to navigate and has some great, easy to use videos and information. I really wish I knew about this website when I was learning about BSL!
And since my thoughts seem kind of “endorsey”, just to be clear: I was in no way compensated for my words. I just think Baby Sign Language is a very great tool for parents!

Out of the Office Week: Leavin’ On a Jet Plane…


Meet Tiffany. Balancing two kids, two dogs, a rock-star job, a new home, a kick-ace blog and PTSD. And doing it pretty damn well if you ask the chick living across the US who actually only knows based on what Tiffany posts on her blog. Oh yea, she also has a husband she’s trying not to forget about!

That rock-star job? Yea, she does PR for a zoo. A ZOO! She has got to be the coolest mom in her kid’s school!

Her blog? Has made me cry. I am not kidding. Tears straming down my face crying. And I? Hate to cry.

She is proof that while things don’t always go like you had planned, it all works out in the end…

I always imagined I would live in Manhattan after graduating college.

I thought I would work at some major PR agency and attend swanky events and have high-profile clientele. I dreamed of marrying a midwestern boy who had found himself in Manhattan around the same time – going to grad school and preparing for “big things” as well.

I pictured us traveling to Europe together, back-packing, hiking, taking the train. I envisioned myself getting engaged and then married in typical upper East Side fashion and settling into our spacious apartment.

I thought we’d put off having kids until our early 30’s & then we’d talk about moving “home”.

We would move home before the kids came. Move back to the midwest and find a gorgeous lot and build our spacious home. We would prepare the nursery for a wonderful arrival. I would stay home – he would do something amazing & we would live in perfect harmony with our extended families nearby.

And then life happened.

And I got knocked up.

Ironically, my first trip away from my son was a MUCH anticipated trip to Manhattan for a PRSA conference. It was bitter sweet, to say the least.

I had always pictured my first trip the Big Apple like that of a fairy-tale, where the plane landed and I felt my heart pitter-patter and knew I had found my temporary home.

Except this time, I was landing in my never home & the only person I considered home was actually back in the Midwest. (I was certain he was still screaming his head off wondering where I was. I should point out – his grandmother said he cried less in those four days than he had in any four day period since he was born. Kids…)

I couldn’t help but feel a little angery when the plane landed. Jealousy, disappointment and despair shot through my veins. Why was I missing this little boy and also missing the life I always dreamed of? How do these two dreams live together within me?

I pictured picking up everything and moving to Manhattan after gradation, with my son. I thought we could still live our fancy lifestyle in the Big Apple. I saw moms with strollers and trendy wardrobes strolling Central Park and I thought, “Yea, that could be me.”

And I knew it couldn’t.

I knew in my heart that I was home in the Midwest. I had support and family and love there. I had a place to raise my son.

I knew I had to put aside those childish dreams.

I had made my bed…so they say.

The entire trip was full of highs and lows. Full of anxiety and sadness. Missing my son, missing the life I never had. I figured out the subway system quickly – I blew everyone away. I can’t tell you how many people asked me if I was from Manhattan. If I lived here before. If I had family here.

I would answer no & every time I felt a piece of me chip away.

I was 20. It was painful.

The trip flew by, as they always do. I absorbed as many places and faces and smells and sights as I could. I took the subway and rode in cabs. I visited tourist spots and called on friends who lived in Manhattan to take me around. I went to non-tourist spots – places where only “locals” went. I felt myself blend in with the crowd and I found myself happier than I had been in quite some time. I found myself pretending I was 20 & I had 20 year old responsibilities.

And then I’d see a photo or hear a mom talk about her baby – and my heart would ache to be home.

I was lost.

As the conference came to an end and I packed my bags to return home, I knew it wouldn’t be my last visit to the Big Apple. I knew Manhattan had not seen the last of me. And, I knew I didn’t belong there.

I had made my bed…and I was fine lying in it.

It was comfy and soft and full of smiles and happiness.

I laughed to myself as I watched the New York skyline disappear from my tiny window in the sky….

I thought, “perhaps one of my kids will live here someday…and I will visit and tell them of my dreams & how they made them come true.”

Someday, I thought…
Tiffany is also a regular on twitter, so if you are a twit or tweep or twitterer or whatever, look her up. Some of my favorite Mom-Nom posts include: 50 things about Tiffany, Where she tells Satan to GO TO HELL! and where she admits she sucks at being domestic.

Out of the Office Week: First Night Away

Our first guest post comes to you from Krista over at Not Mommy of the Year. As she puts it…”You know that woman who always has her shit together? The one that effortlessly pulls together a stylish look in 20 minutes, has time to hit the gym, laughs on her cell phone as she waltzes into the office? The mom who dresses her kid in the cutest outfits, takes the best pictures and provides a hot meal and a clean house for her husband. I AM NOT HER.”

And this? Is why I love her. She has a whole blog dedicated to the reasons why she will not be voted mom of the year. Her blog was actually the very first blog I started reading. Ever. Other reasons I lover her: She works in marketing/PR, like me. She is addicted dedicated to her job, like me. She likes wine, like me. She’s funny, like I think I am. Sometimes it takes days for her to put away laundy, also, like me. 

Ok, enough about the reasons I love Krista probably more than I should and onto the good stuff…

If you know anything about me, you know that I tend to take my job pretty seriously. I think I’m all important and stuff with my crackberry attached to my hand and responding to emails at 9:00 at night. Go ahead, roll your eyes. I KNOW. And I’m getting better, I swear. In fact, when I went on vacation over the 4th of July, I turned work email off on my phone and to date, I haven’t turned it back on. ssshhhh, don’t tell. It’s been… freeing… to say the least.

But, anyway, I digress. When my maternity leave was wrapping up, I was still very much worried about how I could convince my boss and coworkers that nothing had changed. That just because I had a tiny little human at home relying on me for EVERYTHING, I would still be just as devoted and dedicated to my job as I was pre-baby.

So, when the call came two days before my maternity leave ended, asking if I could attend a conference the following weekend, I said yes. And then I promptly hung up the phone and cried. The conference was three hours away and I needed to be there for a hospitality event that would last until midnight. Which meant I would need to stay over.

I quickly devised a plan to take my husband and seven-week-old baby with me. I would get them settled in the hotel room, go meet and greet in our company suite, dashing out to change dirty diapers and give kisses. This would work. I was even a little excited about our first family trip.

But then, my husband got nervous about traveling with the baby and his commonsense voice was screaming to him that maybe it didn’t make sense to travel that far with a baby if I really wouldn’t get to see them much anyway. That maybe dragging her halfway across the state for my benefit was a little bit selfish. (My words. Not his).

So, I agree to go alone. But I was PISSED. I kissed my baby goodbye with tears streaming down my face, biting my lip to hold back sobs, thinking at any minute he would see the pain I was going through in leaving her and he’d say “give me ten minutes to pack a bag.”

But he didn’t. And I cried the entire first hour in the car. And part of the second. And held back tears all night as I looked at the picture of her on my phone. As I crawled into the big fluffy hotel bed, I wasn’t thinking about what a rock star employee I was. I was thinking about how much I missed my baby. How I wasn’t there to give her a kiss goodnight and wondering if she noticed.

I questioned whether I should have turned down the assignment. (I should have.) I wondered how often I would feel conflicted like this. And I promised that I would stop taking myself so seriously. I realized that while I do care about my job, respect my coworkers and want to be the same ambitious person I was pre-baby; I can do that without sacrificing my family.

I woke up at the crack of dawn, rushed home and took the rest of the day off to stare at my daughter and make sure she hadn’t forgotten me overnight.

Since then, in the last eight months, I’ve spent one other night away from my daughter for work and this weekend she is having her first sleepover at my mom’s house. I’m simultaneously looking forward to the sleeping in and recognizing that I will likely wake up wondering how she slept and if she’s OK and call my mother at 6:23 saying “Is she still breathing? You better go check.” I will pick her up two hours before I said I would and when my husband says, “see I didn’t want her to go, you missed her too.” I will have to admit that he was right.

Unless, of course, I sleep in until 8:00am, in which case I will stick my tongue out at him and smile.
If you want to learn more about Krista and her cutie pie kid, you can check out her blog. And if you’re the tweetin’ type, you can also follow her on twitter. Some of my favorite posts from Krista: Postcards from Vacation, Where she admits work is kicking her ace and where she finally finds something that proves her child is hers.