Lifelong Learning

Baguette has a significant language delay. We do a lot of interpretation.


She works so hard at communicating. I’m so impressed with her, and how diligent and persistent she is with any number of tasks. These are traits that are going to serve her well no matter what she chooses to do with her life.

These traits are invaluable with ABA. She makes no secret of the moments when she is bored, or frustrated. There are plenty of times when she resists completing a task or participating in an activity (to the point of banshee screams). But there are so many other times when she will Just. Keep. Trying.

She does this with speech, and I want to encourage her. So I try really hard not to tell her that she’s saying something incorrectly. Instead, I say things like this:

    “Mommy doesn’t know that one yet.”

    “Mommy still has to learn that.”

    “Maybe you and I can figure that out together.”

Because I want to let her know that communication is a two-way street, and the burden isn’t entirely hers. I want to let her know that I’m still learning, too. I want to show her that adults also struggle. I want to let her know that it’s possible to share tasks and work together.

Ultimately, I want to help her make herself understood to others. But first, I have to show her that I understand her. I have to show her that I’m going to work hard with her. I have to show her that I think hearing her, listening to her are worthwhile, even if it’s not immediately easy for me.

Oh, and Nigh You Ra? She requested it for days. I asked her ABA providers and her teacher and Bestie’s mom and a co-worker with a daughter slightly younger than Baguette. And then (as you can see above) I turned to Twitter–and I was not surprised at all when the answer came from Cloud, with an assist from one of her daughters:

Oscar Night

As they read off the nominees for Best Foreign Film:

Me: It’s going to be Tangerines. Or Wild Tales.

Mr. Sandwich: Oh?

Me: I know nothing about any of them. I’m just going based on names, like at a horse race.

Nicole Kidman: And the Oscar goes to Ida!

Mr. Sandwich: (pointing) You are WRONG!

Me: (shrugging) I’m often wrong at horse races, too.

On a more serious note, I get the point behind the #AskHerMore campaign. I do think that the work should be more of the focus for women, as it is for men.

But you know what? Those actresses didn’t accidentally fall into those designer gowns. They didn’t take a wrong turn and wind up on the Red Carpet. The gowns and the stupid questions are promotional tools for the actresses, the questioners (I don’t consider them reporters or journalists), the designers, and the event–and everyone’s been using them that way for years.

So if you want to change the dynamic, change it from multiple angles. Push people to #AskHerMore, by all means. But also forgo the gowns and the jewels and the shoes and the clutches. Because they’re going to stop asking “Who are you wearing?” if every time the answer turns out to be “David’s Bridal” or “J. Crew.”

I think this is going to work particularly well when everyone is prepared to say something of substance.*

*I agree that Patricia Arquette’s remarks backstage, after the ceremony, were problematic and at best poorly thought-out. But her overall point still is one worth discussing.

In Character

Baguette fell in love with Frozen this summer. I know, that sentence looks funny–but if you keep in mind that August is when she starts telling us, “Want to go play in the snow,” it makes sense for her.

It seemed like she identified with Anna, in no small part because every time she reenacted the first scene with Anna and Elsa, she made me be Elsa (probably a wise move, because I’m less crushable). So when we started collecting things for her to choose from for Halloween, we bought her Anna’s coronation gown.

She could not have been less interested.

But once she was done trick-or-treating (in her pajamas), she settled in to watch her favorite movie. And part way through, she looked over and spotted the Anna dress. It all clicked. She wanted to put it on.

little girl dressed as Anna from Frozen

Over the past several months, she’s worn that dress through quite a few Frozen viewings (yes, always over other clothes), acting out scenes in our living room as they play out on screen.

Then, during Friday night’s screening, she started reciting Elsa’s lines and announced, “Want Elsa dress.” Well, if my girl is going to ask–with words!–for an Elsa dress, then an Elsa dress she shall have, and as quickly as humanly possible.

As is often the case in our house, came to the rescue. So when she watched Frozen last night, she was dressed like this:

little girl dressed as Elsa from Frozen

But I did let her know that even queens have to help make their beds in the morning.

Thoughts on Measles

I have been vaccinated against measles four times.


The first time, I was one year minus three days.

The second time, I was going into the third or fourth grade, and my school required that I get the vaccination again because they required that you get it on or after your first birthday, and as I mentioned above, I got it three days shy of my first birthday.

The third time, there was a measles outbreak at colleges in the Midwest, and my mother decided that this put me in danger in California, and insisted that I get the measles vaccination again. The student health clinic asked me if I wanted the MMR, and I said, “No, just measles, please.” (The outbreak did spread. This in no way prevented me from being irritated with my mother.)

(Then, when I applied to grad school, they required that I also be vaccinated against mumps and rubella, but I couldn’t get the MMR because I’d gotten the measles vaccine that fall, so I had to get two more shots separately, which I also found irritating.)

(I am easily irritated.)

The fourth time was in 2011, when I got the MMR.

So that’s four measles vaccinations, which seems like plenty.

If I get the measles, I am going to be so pissed.

toy syringe from child's doctor kit

Grown-Up Day

Last Friday was my birthday, but I didn’t really plan anything, so Mr. Sandwich and I took today off. Baguette stayed in day care, which means:


Which, naturally, we spent watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Sure, some people might schedule couples’ massages or elaborate al fresco lunches, but we live not in a commercial but in the real world of total exhaustion.

Also, we like superhero movies, and we never get to see them in the theater.

Plus, you know what you can’t do while watching a movie in the theater? Put all of your clothing in a pile on the floor and sort out what to keep and what to donate. Well, I guess you can, but only until you are thrown out of that aforementioned theater.

And now we are approaching the time to pick Baguette up from day care, which means we will finish the day of superheroes and wardrobe productivity with a trip to the pool.

It’s pretty much perfect.

Baguette, of Late

The last six weeks have been pretty incredible. Toward the end of December, both Baguette’s day care and our workplace closed for the holidays. At the same time, her evening ABA therapist got married and took a few weeks off. We did schedule one session with the therapist who goes to her daycare, but for the most part it was a real break for all of us.

We’ve discovered that these breaks are very important. Routine lets Baguette learn new skills; the breaks are when she shows us what she can do. And when this break ended, she kept going. Here is a not even remotely exhaustive list of the new things we’re seeing from her.

  • She answered a question with a specific response: When Rockin’ Elmo said, “What do you want to do now?” she answered, “Run on the grass.”
  • She didn’t just quote, but imitated the “how do you wrap a present” segment from the Elmo’s World about birthdays.
  • On New Year’s Eve, she let Bestie watch videos with her on the iPad.
  • One day, after several viewings of a “Happy Halloween” Sesame Street compilation on YouTube, she came up behind us when we were in another room and said “Boo!”
  • One evening, she said, “Want carry you.” Then she jumped up into my arms and yelled, “Whee!”
  • Another evening, before bed, she sang first the first two lines of her favorite lullaby by herself.
  • She played with her Connect Four game and took turns with her stuffed lion.
  • When coloring, she enhanced a drawing of an elephant to show it spraying water with its trunk.
  • This morning, she used her Sesame Street-inspired gift-wrapping skills to help wrap Bestie’s birthday present.
  • At the zoo:
  • * “The elephant is eating the carrots”
    * “Look, an elephant”
    * “I see a lion”

  • After climbing and playing on the elephant statue at the zoo playground, she ran back, hugged it, and said “I love you. I love you.”

small girl sitting on statue of elephant

To a lot of people, these developments may not sound like much. But for Baguette, and for us, they’re huge.

She’s communicating in ways she never has before. She’s expressing a complexity of thought that is new. She’s interacting in ways that we haven’t seen.

Because not only will she let the lion take turns at Connect Four, but when she completed a task at day care and her teacher asked her if she wanted to pick a friend to jump with, she walked up to one of the little boys in her class and held out her hands to him.

It’s hard to know who was happiest about this–us, her teacher, or the little boy, who apparently was overjoyed that the girl who talks to no one had picked him out of the group. But probably the answer is that we were happiest. Because we know what it took her to get here.


A week ago, Baguette was coloring in broad swaths of marker. Now she can do this.

coloring book page with Big Bird




Don’t get me wrong, it’s not this precise all the time. But she suddenly gets what the lines are for, and pays attention to them. She matches the colors of the characters, whether it’s Zoe or Clifford the Big Red Dog. She’s doing SO MUCH right now, and it’s incredible to see how all of the hard work we’ve been doing, all of the hard work she’s been doing, is helping things come together.

Some Days, All You Have Is a List

Because that’s all I can come up with at the moment. Here’s today’s list:

  • Three years ago, I thought Baguette would be making her bed soon. Nope. But maybe that’s something we can start.
  • We have started having her help feed Wicket in the evening. Baguette seems to enjoy doing that, once we get her attention. Wicket definitely enjoys it.
  • One of Baguette’s favorite things to do right now is play catch. Soccer ball, football, lacrosse ball, it doesn’t matter. And she’s getting pretty good–she can throw fairly accurately and with strength, and she can catch while walking toward me.
  • When I say “favorite,” I mean we play catch for 30-45 minutes a night. In the dark.
  • I’m actually going back to the gym. People say, “Good for you,” and I respond, “Look, I’m just trying to stay alive.” Seriously. This is my goal.
  • Thanks to this worksheet from her day care, I know what Baguette’s handwriting looks like. I can’t wait to see more.

handwritten word "ten" on a worksheet