Sunday, August 31, 2008

She speaks!

I have found it extremely difficult to decide when a word counts as a first word. I mean, she was saying "dada" months ago. Sometimes it seemed like she was saying it to mean dad, but other times it seemed like she just said it. She just recently started imitating our speech. She would say the word after us, and eventually started just saying it to herself over and over. But there was a breakthrough yesterday. She said her word in response to an appropriate event twice. Therefore, I'm counting it as her first word. The word is "uh oh." Hey! That's two first words!


Friday, August 29, 2008

Positive Reinforcement

As student in a BYU classroom management class I thought that classroom reward systems were a bunch of baloney. I thought that offering stickers for something students should be doing anyway would in fact decrease their intrinsic motivation. As a teacher, I later found out that that is absolutely true, but only for those 3 students that already have intrinsic motivation. As it turns out, intrinsic motivation is not a quality a teacher can sufficiently instill in students in the short amount of time before self destruction due to insane amounts of stress caused by too many students in too small a space misbehaving. And so, I learned the merits of immediate reinforcement of positive behavior, and even bribery.

There are some things I do well, in large part due to intrinsic motivation. There are some things I do quite poorly, or not at all due to lack of intrinsic motivation. I'm coming to the realization that I could possibly create an outside source of motivation in order to create the habit, and perhaps discover the natural benefits of good behavior leading into good behavior caused by intrinsic motivation. Actually, for a psychology class once I taught myself how to get out of bed on the first ring of the alarm (rather than the 9th ring of 3 alarm clocks) through a simple reward system, but even as I put my stickers on my chart, I knew that the true motivation was that I was going to have to report on my experiment to my teacher.

Unfortunately, I seem to be fresh out of authority figures expecting me to report on my progress. In fact, I've mentioned my plan to a few people that could possibly motivate me, but none of them showed much interest. In not showing interest they lost all power as a motivator, because deep down I know it won't be a big deal to them if I fail. ( I didn't ask them to be authority figures, I just told them what I was thinking of improving on. They would probably be willing to be a motivator, but I wouldn't be motivated by them.) There are a few people that I can imagine would be very "encouraging" in this particular quest, but I really want to like those people, and I don't think I'm strong enough to continue liking someone who is already good at what I want to be good at who is continually encouraging me to be better. (Jordan has bad memories of me on a bike encouraging her to run farther in training for the volleyball team. I have bad memories of Courtlin on a bike encouraging me to keep running. I think we still like each other, but only because we liked each other a whole lot before those experiences, and because we all had pretty much the same weakness.)

So, I decided that I need a tangible reward system. I'm going to create a chart, and make it daily more beautiful by filling in the boxes with pretty colored markers, but I know that's not going to be enough motivation for this particular weakness. I need something special every perfect week or so. So, I started thinking, "What would be really motivating to me?" I'm having a really hard time coming up with anything. The obvious answer for me would be some kind of really special dessert, except that in this case it would be working directly against eventually seeing the natural benefits of good behavior. So, that's out. What else do I really like? There are some material things I really like, books for example, but I really dislike spending money, and so I'm not sure the yucky spending money feeling will cancel out the "cool a book!" feeling. I really like spending time alone with Kevin, so I thought, maybe every so many perfect days I get to hire a babysitter and do something with him, but I'm not sure it's really fair to him to deprive us of that in the case of poor behavior. So, I need some suggestions here. What do I really like? What will motivate me? What has motivated you? Will someone come do all my laundry if I succeed?

Monday, August 25, 2008

And finally some footage!

This footage was taken the day after the last post, but was edited today.

This morning I took off all of Alena's clothes, because she had dirtied them. As per usual, she was playing before I got her dressed again. (I just can't handle making her cry by taking her clothes off and not giving her a break before I make her cry by putting her clothes on, at least not when I have the entire day before anyone is going to see her.) So, she was playing and she found her church shoes and brought them to me one at a time for me to put them on her. She's really into shoes these days.

She's also into moving things from room to room. She used to have to do a gimp crawl to carry something into another room, but now that she's walking, not so. So I find all kinds of things in strange places, like one of my shoes in the drawer in the kitchen, or several markers in the drawer in the bathroom. She really enjoys drawers. She likes to pull everything out. She does clean up after herself, only she puts things away where they don't go. For instance, pulling all her clean clothes out of her basket and moving them into the hamper.

Needless to say, we really enjoy having her around. In fact, she's my favorite baby ever.

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Friday, August 8, 2008


Alena took 6 tiny steps today. Kevin, earlier this week, saw her take one step twice. Then yesterday he saw the first two of 4 steps and called me to watch the second 2. Last night she took another 4 tiny steps. I'm not sure it counts as walking, but it's a start.

P.S. Add on a string of 7 steps, a string of 10 steps, and a string of 9 steps and I think we have a toddler as of today.