Ellie showed Jan how good she is at sitting using the boppy for support. Jan was very impressed when Ellie started to fall sideways and she used her body to move into a controlled fall. I didn't teach her that. Ellie figured it out all by herself :-)
We are now working on side-sitting and trying to sit in a tripod position without support for short periods. There is also another technique which I find rather entertaining. I will try to capture a picture of Ellie doing this in the near future. You put Ellie into a box or small laundry basket (we used a plastic IKEA bin). She is able to sit and play with her toys, but she doesn't have to worry about falling off to one side. She is still building her abdominal muscles and working hard even though she is Ellie-in-the-Box.
The Bear still does a lot of back arching and extension which is apparently "bad", but a normal atypical movement for babies with DS. Jan showed me how to move Ellie from laying on her back into a seated position to then picking her up--this is more for when I want to pick up Ellie from the crib or off of the changing table. The key is to not place any support or pressure onto her back but rather onto her arms or tummy.
Basically our main goal is to strengthen Ellie's abdominal muscles so that she doesn't rely on her back so much and do the arching.
Jan is also happy with how quickly Ellie is picking up the sign language. Ellie is recognizing different signs (more, eat, milk, play, and cat). She will sign (while holding my hand) "eat" and "more". Jan recommended tapping Ellie on the elbow to see if she will drop my hand and complete the sign.
At the recommendation of a fellow friend who is a speech pathologist, I picked up Monta Z. Briant's Sign, Sing, & Play Kit. It has a book so that I can learn all sorts of signs as well as colorful flashcards. What Ellie really enjoys is the CD that has songs for me to sign. I find the songs extremely annoying and I want to pull out my hair, but Ellie loves them. This is actually how I get her to sit using the boppy pillow--I sit in front of her and sign the songs. I have only learned 4 of the songs thus far, but she loves the bath one and the traditional "Itsy Bitsy Spider".