Friday, June 19, 2009

Handprints by T. Lambert, Jr.


Sometimes you get discouraged
Because I am so small
And always leave my handprint
On furniture and wall

But everyday I'm growing
(I'll be all grown someday)
And all those tiny hand prints
Will surely fade away.

So here's a final handprint
Just so you can recall
Exactly how my fingers looked
When they were very small.
--T. Lambert, Jr.

I remember the first time I heard this poem. My brother David (or maybe it was Steve) made a little handprint art in nursery school to give to Mom for Mother's Day. I thought it was really cute then, and I still like it a lot. I intend to do something like that with each of my kids.

Elizabeth has been making such great strides with talking lately, I thought I'd do one more "First Words" list before there are too many for me to remember. I did another one back in March as an email to my sister-in-law Marcelle, and I was surprised today to find out that I hadn't posted it to my blog. When typing it up, I've put the actual word first, and then if necessary, I've included her pronunciation of it. Finally, I give a short explanation of how the word is used. Since I didn't put her pronunciations is a consistent place, I've bolded the word as she says it the first time it appears in the entry.

When writing out the baby talk, I ran into some typographical issues. How, for instance, should I represent the way she says the word dog? She pretty much leaves off the g sound at the end, so "dog" sounds more like "do'" (though with the correct short o sound from "dog" rather than the oo/u sound in "do"). I decided to put in apostrophes for missing letters so that you can tell that I'm not just writing a shorter word that already exists with a different pronunciation.

With animals, sometimes she knows the name of the animal, and sometimes the sound it makes. She uses either one interchangeably at this point to label what she sees.

Toys and other nouns
  • Ball - "BaaAAllll" (at least three syllables). She LOVES balls right now, and so whenever she sees anything even vaguely round (logos on TV, pictures in books, blueberries, peas, some beads, etc), she says this word. When we went bowling in Ohio, she said it about every three seconds the whole time we were there. She also uses it generically for anything that catches her interest.
  • Balloon - "B'loon" Elizabeth often asks for balloons when we're at the grocery or dollar stores that sell them. She also likes to look for the red balloon in the Goodnight Moon book.
  • Bath - "Baaaa'" This generally means that she wants to take a bath, though last week, she said it while looking longingly at the spot where the wading pool had been in the front yard at Grandma Kathey's house.
  • Bead - This refers to the large scale beads for stringing, smaller ones on bead maze toys, and tiny ones on necklaces.
  • Beep beep - I put this one in toys because she says it with her toy car (When you push the horn, it has a human voice saying "beep beep" rather than just a beeping noise.)
  • Book - "Boo'" Again, she leaves off the last sound, but gets the vowel right. She never did quite figure out how to do the sign for book without my hands pushing hers together, so it didn't surprise me when she learned the word instead.
  • Bubbles - "Buh Buh" This word is used to refer to pictures of bubbles in bathtubs in books. She'll sometimes say it if I blow bubbles for her when she's in the tub, but never when she's outside. More often, she just makes a blowing noise to indicate that she wants me to blow some more.
  • Car - "Caaaarrr" She likes going for a ride in the car, and if I suggest it, she'll go wait impatiently by the door until I get my shoes and bag ready. She also has a Fisher Price ride-on car that talks and sings to her, and several car/bus shaped toys.
  • Cart - "Car'" I can only tell the difference between this and "car" by context. This word generally refers to shopping carts that she wants to ride in, including the one that lives at our apartment complex. It can also refer to laundry carts, and her little toy shopping cart (which she has found is just the right size for giving her little people toys a ride in).
  • Shoes - "Sshhooz" Like the "ch" sound in "Cheese", the "sh" sound in "Shoes" gets said very carefully.
  • Slide - "Sliii'" She generally just says "wheee", but lately, the actual word "slide" has been creeping in to her vocabulary.
  • Train - "Too too" is her version of Choo-choo. She uses it to talk about her Thomas the Tank Engine books, which she loves, and insists on reading even though I think they're boring or dumb. Peter thinks it's Thomas's round face that interests her.
  • Vroom - Grandpa Randy taught her the word Vroom when giving her rides on Great Grandpa Jesse's red walker/seat. Now, it refers to anything with wheels that goes including: bikes, motorcycles, scooters, cars, ride-on toys, tricycles, etc.
  • Wheee - This could be the noise you make as you go on a swing or slide, or it could mean, "I see a swing or slide and I want to go play on it."

  • ABC's - "bee dee tee bee" She can't really say her ABC's, but she does recognize the song when her car sings it, and she'll sing along with syllables ending in the long ee sound
  • Baby - "Bay-bee" or "Bee-bee" This can refer to her dolls, a real baby (like her cousins Andy and Hazel last week), pictures of babies in books or on packaging (like cereal or diaper boxes), or to herself when she's feeling like she needs extra loving attention.
  • Bye - Repeats it when somebody says bye bye. Also when Daddy leaves for work, whether he actually says bye or not.
  • Daddy - "Da-da" is Peter.
  • Fix it - She doesn't say anything like these words, but she has a very distinctive squeal that means, "I'm very distresses or frustrated with this thing, come fix it for me!" She will stop squealing when I offer to fix it, and will often even bring whatever it is over to me. Common things that need to be fixed are her toy stroller, which collapses far too easily; her stool, which is too top heavy for her to right it after she pushes it over (it doesn't fall when she's standing on it, only when she deliberately tips it while standing on the floor); and when things are stuck going into or out of other things (one of her favorite games at the moment is putting-things-into-other-things)
  • Hi - generally used when pretending to talk on a cell phone (or anything vaguely cellphone shaped).
  • I Love You - "Ayeee la" After we say family prayers, Peter says, "Give Daddy hugs!" and holds his arms out wide. Elizabeth approaches warily, and is enveloped in a big bear hug, while Peter says, "Oh! I love you! I love you! I love you!" Once she's released, Elizabeth tries to say "I love you!" back, but she's only got the first part down so far.
  • It's a - "'tsa" this syllable often precedes her labeling of something else--especially when I ask, "What is it?" or "What do you see?" for example: "'tsa Baaaalllll"
  • La la la - Sometimes when we're singing to her, or a group of people is singing in church, she'll join in with "la la la." (She also likes to wave her arm like the music director)
  • Mama - That's me.
  • Round and Round - "Roun' roun'" Elizabeth uses this phrase when her car sings its "wheels on the bus" song, and also when doing the "round and round the garden" finger play. She also likes me to say it when talking about her dizzy dance, and what fans do.
  • No - "Noonoononono" The first couple of sounds in this word are more like "new" than "no." I almost hesitate to put this word on the list since she uses it so infrequently. I try very hard not to forbid things unless they're dangerous, and even then, I say things like, "Not right now" or "That's not for you" or "That's not a good game" or "That will hurt you" rather than simply "No." I don't want that to be one of the most important words in her life. I also try to notice what she's doing, and frequently say, "Oh! That's a good game!" or "That looks like fun" or "What a good job you did stacking those up" so that she hears at least as many positives as negatives.
  • Tickle - "Deedle deedle". almost any word with "le" at the end becomes a variation of deedle or doodle. See also: turtle, noodle, and cock-a-doodle-doo.
  • Uh-oh - This is what we say when something falls on the floor - generally at mealtimes or when she's throwing things from the shopping cart or stroller.
  • Yes - She doesn't really say "yes" but when we're trying to figure out what she wants and we list several things, she has a particular nervous/relieved laugh that says, "Heh heh heh you guessed it! That's right! Now give it to me quick!"

  • Aaaah - As in, "Say Aaaah!" to get her to open her mouth to put food in. She often will say it to me to indicate that I should open my mouth and let her put food in (which I may or may not consent to do depending on how gross the bit of food or her fingers have gotten in the course of the meal).
  • Bean - An early favorite food and easy word to say.
  • Beef - When I prompt her with a list of options, she'll repeat this word to tell us what she's wanting at dinner.
  • Bottle - "Baa'll" (often hard to differentiate from Ball, we get this one mostly by context, and the fact that it's generally shorter in duration with a bit of a glottal stop)
  • Cheese - "Cchheeez" It takes a lot of effort for her to say the "Ch" sound, so she puts a lot of emphasis on that part of the word. This generally refers to string cheese, which is one of the things she looks for when I open the fridge, but can also refer to her other favorites: cheddar, American, or parmesan.
  • Cup - "Cu'" This can refer to her sippy cup at the table, but she uses her sign for drink more often. She uses "cup" to refer to stacking cups, and the cups she sees in the bathroom for storing toothbrushes, pouring water in the bath, and the paper ones I use to get water to help me swallow my pills.
  • Orange - "Rrrrr" It doesn't sound much like "orange" to me either, but it's the sound she makes while pointing impatiently at oranges, either fresh or mandarin in a can.
  • Pea - "Peez" Because they're shaped like little balls, frozen peas are the perfect snack for Elizabeth.
  • Noodle - "Noodle doodle" this is for any kind of pasta, which she really enjoys eating (especially rotini, spaghetti, and ramen).

  • Baa - This is what sheep say. She also uses this word when she puts on her lamb-ears headband.
  • Bee - she started noticing these in several of her books about other animals. She likes to play a game where she points to one of the bees on the page, then I go "Bzzzzz" and poke/tickle her with one finger.
  • Dog - "Do'" She still uses signs a lot for this one, but the word is starting to creep into her spoken vocabulary. Of course, she's also just as likely to make an excited kind of yelping sound, which may be her attempt at a bark, or may just mean, "Look Mama! I see a real live dog (or cat)! Isn't that exciting?! I wanna touch it!"
  • Cock-a-doodle-doo - "Doodle Doo" is what roosters say.
  • Duck - She sees lots of ducks: at the pond, in her books, and especially in the bath. She generally says the word in groups of three "Duk duk duk"
  • Kitty - This was one of her earliest words. It's generally said with a VERY high pitch, and more of a glottal stop than actual "tt" sounds. She's pretty excited, so it's about all she can do to squeak out "Key!" She also uses the excited yelp from "dog" to tell me about kitties.
  • Ook ook - "Oo oo ee ee" is what monkeys say
  • Moo - This is what cows say.
  • Roar - "Raar" is what lions say.
  • Turtle - "Deedle" See the explanation on tickle.

Elizabeth still uses a lot of signs as well.

  • Ball (make hand into ball shape and twist back and forth) - This is only used for emphasis these days since she can say the actual word now.
  • Fan or pinwheel (fwoosh noise like blowing on something) - She also sometimes traces a circle in the air with her finger to be sure we understand.
  • Flower (breathe heavily or sniff) - it's supposed to be sniffing, but she was chronically congested for a while, and is only now trying to say flower with her nose. She notices these when we're out for walks, and often when they're in the background of pictures in books.
  • Hat (pat head) - Elizabeth has a box of hats and a mirror in her room. She likes to put them on and look at herself in the mirror.
  • Light (Flick fingers like popcorn song) - This used to be one of her favorite words, but she hardly ever says it anymore.
  • Rain (hands downward like rain falling) - I've been impressed at how well she has transferred this from the Itsy Bitsy Spider song to real life rain, especially since we had so little of it in California.
  • Toothbrush (finger across teeth) - Elizabeth loves brushing her teeth, and often when I'm having trouble getting her to stop playing and get ready for bed, I'll suggest brushing her teeth, and she'll drop whatever she's doing for this special treat. She likes to run the toothbrush under the water to rinse it, then tap tap tap it on the sink before putting it away in the cup. She hasn't quite figured out how to spit, but she's trying.

  • Amen (two hands together like praying, then move them up and down) - She has also learned how to fold her hands at the beginning of a prayer. Sometimes she even interlocks her fingers. She doesn't always keep them folded through the whole prayer, but we're making progress.
  • Bounce with me (bounces body) - We were at Young's Jersey Dairy, and they had a moon bounce set up. Elizabeth saw it, and told me quite excitedly several times that she thought that bouncing in it would be fun. I didn't let her go in because I couldn't go in with her to pick her up when she fell over which I'm certain would happen every time somebody else jumped (which is what happens on a trampoline).
  • Bye Bye (wave) - She waves when prompted, but usually says the word "Bye." It takes her a while though, and the person is often already gone before she gets it out.
  • Clap your hands (Clap very carefully) - She took a long time to learn how to clap, and I think that she thinks it mostly means "Happy" since we finally got her to do it by singing the "Happy and You Know It" song. She can also stomp her feet and shout hooray.
  • Dance (turn around in a circle) - I'm not sure why she started dancing this way, but she does it often, and likes to move to music.
  • Hooray or Reaching high (two arms up high) - This action came from the "All About Me" book from Heather, and got transferred to the "Happy and You Know It" song. Elizabeth does indeed do this spontaneously when she's happy, and when I understand what she's saying, she claps her hands.
  • Peekaboo (hide behind hat or blanket and then peek out) - There's not much cuter than a game of peekaboo initiated by your toddler.
  • Please (rub chest) - She mostly says this only when prompted. Last week, her four year old cousin Kate kept asking her to do things and saying "please please please!" to convince her. Elizabeth usually didn't understand the requests, but obligingly said "Please" whenever Kate asked.
  • Thank You (Hand to mouth, then down) - This is another one the often takes prompting, but sometimes she'll surprise me by doing it spontaneously. Her version looks more like a salute since she often misses her mouth, and just moves her hand away from whatever part of her face it happened to hit.
  • Sleepy (Rub eyes) - This isn't something she chooses to say specifically, but I treat it like a sign in my interaction with her so that she might start using it as a sign, and so she'll associate that feeling with wanting to go to bed.

  • All done (Wave hand from elbow in a dismissive gesture) - This was meant to have two hands, almost like an umpire saying "safe!" but Elizabeth chooses to use just one.
  • Applesauce (twist knuckle on cheek) - She just started using this one in the last week or two, though I've been signing it to her for months now. She also surprised me by using it to label the Apple inside on of her Fisher Price blocks.
  • Drink (finger in mouth with hand upside down like it's lifting a cup or bottle) -I use my thumb at my lips with a fist, but Elizabeth uses her pointer finger, and turns her whole hand upside down so we don't get confused and think she means "eat" She asks for drinks throughout the day as well as at meals, so I got her a water bottle that she can drink from whenever she's thirsty.
  • Eat (fingers to mouth) - When she starts eating dirt or books or toys, I know she's probably hungry as well. She doesn't often ask for food unless she sees something specific that she wants. Trying to climb into her high chair is another good sign that it's mealtime.
  • Goldfish (Make fish lips with a bit of a "pop pop" sound) - This is the same as the sign for fish in an aquarium or a tilapia fillet.
  • More (pointing to open palm) - I've finally got her using this one. At most meals, when she starts getting antsy, spitting out food, or throwing it on the floor, I ask, "Are you all done? or do you want more?" I used to have to assume the second, if she didn't sign "all done," but now I'm more confident that I'm giving her what she wants.
  • My cup or bottle is empty (Shake offending cup or bottle so that Mama can see that there's nothing left) - This one implies that she also wants a refill.
  • No, I don't want to eat that (shake head like no while avoiding the spoon) - This is where she says "No" most often. Since I generally keep giving her food until she makes it clear that she's done, this is an important thing to be able to indicate.

  • Bear (scratch chest) - We've been working on this one for a while, and she'll do it if I ask her, but she's not really interested in the bears in her animal books.
  • Bird (two fingers open and close like bird beak) - She doesn't do this one often anymore.
  • Bunny (make hand bounce up and down) - it's supposed to have two fingers up as ears like little bunny foo-foo. She has lots of stuffed bunnies, and makes them jump up and down too.
  • Doggie (pat leg, or anything else handy while panting) - This one looks like it won't last much longer because she's starting to say the actual word.
  • Fish (smack lips together like fish kisses) - This works for fish in an aquarium at the doctor's office, goldfish crackers, and also tuna or tilapia at dinner.
  • Frog (stick out tongue) - This is one of my favorites.
  • Giraffe (Trace your finger down your neck) - I've been signing this one to her for a while, but it wasn't until she got a Fisher Price Roll Arounds ball with a giraffe inside that she started using it herself.
  • Horse (bounce body like Mama is bouncing you on her knee) - This one isn't very frequent. It's another one where she thinks that I have to be involved.
  • Pig (push up on nose to make a piggy snout) - she aims for her nose with an index finger, but usually hits her mouth or cheek.
  • Spider (grab finger of one hand with other hand and twist like itsy bitsy spider) - I'm not sure she actually knows quite what a spider is other than the thing in the song.

Other communicative gestures
  • Get up! (yank on various body parts impatiently until Mama gets out of bed or off the couch) - This one generally happens on days when I haven't gotten much sleep the night before.
  • I want that (point with a whine or grunt)
  • I want to climb up (lifts foot) - Often onto chairs or beds
  • I want to nurse (Yank on Mama's shirt) - I deliberately misunderstood this when I was trying to wean her, and we sort of accidentally developed a game where she puts balls or other toys down my shirt and gets excited when they reappear at the bottom.
  • I want to sit in your lap and be cuddled (insinuate self into lap, often walking backwards) - This one is something she often does when she's uncomfortable, so it might also mean I need you to change my diaper.
  • Keep me safe/I'm scared (Cling to/hide behind Mama's leg) - She's pretty adventurous in general, but for a while she was afraid of the vacuum cleaner, and lately she's been frightened of strange men.
  • Pick me up (arms up or out with a whine or grunt)
  • Put some of that on my hand (Hold out hand expectantly with palm flat) - She usually says this when she sees the bottle of foaming soap in the bathtub or the spray on sunscreen. Sometimes she asks to wash and/or dry her hands when she sees me doing it.
  • Put this on (put piece of clothing near the appropriate body part) - especially shoes, hair clippies and hats.
  • Take this off (yank on clothing and whine) - I've been trying to introduce a new larger set of pajamas, but there's something about the feet that she doesn't like, and every time I put them on, she asks me to take them back off.
  • Take me there (point while being held)

Body Parts - Elizabeth can point to the following body parts on herself, someone else, a doll or a picture when asked. She doesn't have very good proprioception (knowing where a body part is when she can't see it) so she often misses when trying to point to things on her own face.
  • Head
  • Eyes
  • Nose
  • Mouth
  • Ears
  • Cheeks
  • Belly Button
  • Arms
  • Hands
  • Fingers
  • Legs
  • Feet
  • Toes


  1. The framed handprints and picture were David's from the Livonia Ward Nursery. Amazing memory to be able to list so much!

  2. Being wary of strange men is probably a good thing.

  3. Another way she says daddy is dah-ee, or sometimes die.

  4. Elizabeth will be pleased to go back and see herself through your eyes! Good job writing it down Karen!

  5. The fact that you alphabatized the list of Elizabeth's accomplishments is amazing! Well done! What a darling little girl, and what a good mom. Hope to see you soon.