Well, two days ago at dinner, I repeated the word "more" numerous times and did the sign for it before I would give him more mac & cheese (always helps to use a much-desired food!). I showed him what to do and put his own little hands together to make the "more" sign. Lo and behold, he did it himself and after a brief explosion of delight on my end, I passed out the desired mac. He seemed to begin to comprehend the connection, but I figured it would come slowly. Next morning, before he even came downstairs, he began signing "more" to T for his morning Cheerios! The kid has picked up the sign with a vengeance.
This makes me so incredibly happy--he's realizing he can communicate with us to get what he wants. The words will come (we still say "more" about a zillion times when we sign and talk to him) next and when he's ready, with a little help. J may not take the "usual" trajectory of talking that other kids do, but he's making progress a day at a time, going at his own pace, and, again during this holiday season, I am so utterly thankful.
Oh, and he knows where his tummy is: Just ask, and he'll yank up his shirt and slap his round little toddler gut. It's the best.