larryhammer: pen-and-ink drawing of an annoyed woman dressed as a Heian-era male courtier saying "......" (dot dot dot)
In the personal news department, I came back from vacation (a working one: helping my parents move) to learn my employer is shuttering this satellite office and my position is one of those being cut along the way. Which means job hunting time again. The gig's up at the end of next month, so it's not a desperation search yet, but still.

(Any tips as to tech writing jobs, preferably in Arizona or working remote, are appreciated. I also freelance as a copyeditor, proofreader, and ebook formatter, and referrals to potential gigs greatly appreciated. But mostly I'm posting this in a bid for sympathy.)

FWIW, travel with a four-year-old is so much easier than even three. I can now comprehend the trip around the world my family took when I was that age. Also: TBD still adores Grandpa.


Subject quote from "Goodbye (She Quietly Says)," Bob Gaudio & Jake Holmes.
larryhammer: Yotsuba Koiwai running, label: "enjoy everything" (enjoy everything)
TBD is four years + one month old.

Achievements unlocked this last month: counting before seeking in hide-and-seek, connect-the-dots pictures, a recognizable written A, recognizing own $realname by spelling out the letters, appreciation of fractured fairy tales, and funhouse mirrors. TBD is trying to figure out how rhymes work, and asking us if a given pair of words rhyme, but this is not down solid yet. It is a harder leap than I remember. Also, they've started remembering dreams and reporting details surreal enough ("I dreamed I was a white car") that we believe they were not invented.

Three emotion-related bits:

1. TBD has learned that soldiers fight and kill, and while they are supposed to fight only other soldiers, they also know that people do not always do what they are supposed to. That there is an air base on the edge of town and half the aircraft overhead are fighting planes also became clear at the same time. Nonetheless, a visit to the local Air and Space Museum, which is slanted towards military craft, was greatly enjoyed -- especially the space exploration exhibits.

2. While shopping for a Mother's Day gift, TBD remembered without prompting Janni's one-time comment several weeks before that she likes challenging jigsaw puzzles, and insisted on getting the biggest one we could find: 2000 pieces. That is, on own initiative picked out something they themselves didn't want. They did, in the end, find that many pieces overwhelming, but have been helping gamefully with small, localized subsets. Sometimes. (Sometimes, they do one of their own puzzles next to the big one. Or just whine for attention.)

3. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day has been the bedtime reading nine nights in a row now.

In physical skills, we now all use full-size dinner plates because, gasp, TBD sometimes wants more than one thing on it at a time, even at the risk of them getting mixed. Also, I'm needing less and less to echo statements/questions to make sure I've understood them correctly -- or at least, for pronunciation: when the sentence gets tangled up or has antecedents missing, I still need to try a clear version, to make sure I'm responding to the right thing.

Which of course leads into talking, talking:

"Daddy, you be on a march."
"What's this march about?"
"Is this against planets or supporting them?"
"A march for planets. Got it."

$friend: "When I shoot ice, you get frozen."
TBD: "When I shoot webs, you get stuck."
(playing superheroes)

"Hey Siri, why do some people died?"
(this was TBD's first question for Siri; it was followed up with "Why do some rocket ships have a lot of astronauts?")

"Who is is Lunchbox Squarepants?"

"What are Scooby-Dooby snacks?"
(followed shortly by "What was the earliest dinosaur?")

"What comes before 1?"
(followed two days later by "What comes before 0?" -- and explaining negative numbers is HARD. First try using a number line didn't take -- will try again soon.)

"We are the dentasaurs!"

"I'm a superhero."
"Well it's time for the superhero to go to bed."
"But I have to save the day!"

Needless to say, the superhero had to save another day.


Subject quote from "Show Me," Mint Royale.
larryhammer: Yotsuba Koiwai running, label: "enjoy everything" (enjoy everything)
Four links for the price of three. Get them while they last!

A portal to over 1600 high-resolution maps of US national parks, monuments, recreation areas, and seashores. Search the whole collection or just start with the curator's favorites. (via)

The white ravens of Vancouver Island. (via)

The consequence of napping. Oh so very yes. (via)

Timelapses of spring flowers blooming and autumn leaves turning. (via)


Subject quote from "To Night," Percy Shelley.
larryhammer: Yotsuba Koiwai running, label: "enjoy everything" (enjoy everything)
TBD is four years old. Finally. The party was yesterday, in a park with 5 child guests (and a toddler sibling). We survived.

Achievements unlocked this last month: mazes (usually traced with finger, pending the fine motor control for a crayon/pencil), the concept of trying to color inside the lines, math video games (basic addition and subtraction, with answers worked out on fingers or counting objects), Snap and Go Fish (open-handed), opening the freezer, using a cooler to climb onto the kitchen counter without help, "Nana-nana-boo-boo!"

We think that last was learned at preschool.

The story lines of pretend play are getting more complex, as are the premises of requested stories. Either people or toys play the roles in pretend, where by "toys" I mean cars and trucks, the go-to pastime hereabouts. There is more interest than ever in establishing what is real and what is only in stories.

Current superheroes of interest are the Guardians of the Galaxy with a side order of X-Men and Spiderman. Bedtime story requests have included a LOT of pregnancies and births lately -- something's being worked through there. TBD still really wants to learn to read, but reviewing letters has less urgency ATM -- possibly because of a surge in maths. The only capital letters that give trouble are V (looks like Y) and E (like F or G), but the only lowercases really known are those similar to its capital.

Syntactic swapping has extended to semantic forms: "Learn me something!" and similar confusion over the direction of action. (And then there's "I won you.") "Doodle!" (sometimes "Deedle!") is the current all-purpose nonsense response, especially when not wanting to answer a question. Attempts to reintroduce Totea haven't really taken (we parents kinda miss her).

Plonking on piano is getting more exploratory: playing with rhythms and dynamics (loud/soft) as well as harmonics. There's been more variety, the past couple weeks, in songs sung at random moments -- and, hmmm, less invented lyrics. Dunno what to make of that.

Don't know what to make of this, either: TBD correctly, without anyone naming it, identified as poetry my habitual reading while supervising bedtime. When I'm reading poems about bugs, there is enough interest in it that reading one aloud has by popular demand become part of the routine, after stories. (That there are no poems about rolly-pollies was a disappointment.) For this, I'm willing to allow the delaying tactic.

And other talking, talking:

Janni: "I'm still learning how to do this."
TBD: "I'm teaching you."
"You are."
"We all teach each other."

"1! 2! 3! 4! 1! Blastoff!"
(eventually counting down all the numbers caught on)

"I can't say Urias very well."

"You be a people and I be a T-Rex." (pause) "T-Rex can eat people?"

"I be a cheetah and you be an antelope."

Me: "No, this car is going night-night."
TBD: (scornful) "It can't go to sleep. It's a toy."

"Tell me about the robots in space and in rockets and on planets and who crashed and whose batteries have died."
(still a much-repeated request)

"$friend says I know everything. But I don't know everything!"

(playing quietly with balloons on couch)
(softly to self) "5 balloons. If I take away 1 (throws one to floor) then I have 1 2 3 4. If I take away 1 more (throws one to floor) then I have 1 2 3. If I take away 1 more (throws one to floor) then I have 1 2. If I take away 1 more (throws one to floor) then I have 1." (turns to me) (triumphantly) "1!" (throws it at me)

"Maybe you can be the little kid and I can be the blender" (screeches at top of lungs)

Needless to say, I covered my ears and said,"Eek!" As one does. Onward!


Subject quote from "Passing Afternoon," Iron & Wine.
larryhammer: Yotsuba Koiwai running, label: "enjoy everything" (enjoy everything)
TBD is three years and eleven months old, also known as "almost four" and "cannot wait to turn four."

This is suddenly a hefty child -- one not so easily tossed onto the bed. Or carried in arms for longer distances.

Achievements unlocked this last month: counting to forty-ten (and higher two-digit numbers with occasional assists with the names of the tens), trolling with science, more strategies for managing disappointment even with low emotional resources.

Shortly after the last update, during alphabet drill, TBD confused K and Q -- first sign of phonological association. There's also been some M/N and I/Y confusion. Most capital letters are recognized now except N (often called Z) and V (often U or Y). A couple all-cap words are recognized, including STOP and TAXI, even out of usual contexts. Lowercase letters are still very iffy -- we've all tacitly agreed to get uppercase down more solid before returning to that complication.

Career aspirations have returned to bus driver or tow-truck driver -- that astronauts have to be brave is a source of ambivalence.

Recent obsessive reading includes the Princess in Black series, Richard Scarry, Curious George tie-ins, and books about nature and the planets. I have had to memorize the names of all currently active space probes robot explorers (plus as many as I can of those that have crashed or had their batteries die) for daily recital, often at bedtime. I tend to fudge the ones orbiting Mars because six is a lot to keep straight. Of most interest are Opportunity, New Horizons, and Voyager 2 (who is traveling through outer space calling out "I am a robot").

Bedtime storytelling has gotten interesting again: TBD chooses a couple elements, usually the animal main characters and sometimes a premise or an event, and the parent on point has to spin out something. Those that reflect an anxiety, or recapitulate/anticipate a daily-life event, are appreciated, but not wanted all the time.

Talking, talking, I didn't get down much -- a week of flying solo while Janni was at a conference reduced my note-taking ability:

Janni: "I'll love you forever ever ever."
TBD: "Never never ever."
"Forever and ever."
"But you can't forever, because I will die."

(a few minutes after asking whether Saturn and Mars are hot)
TBD: "Is Mercury the hottest?"
Me: "It is."
(sly look) "It's the Sun."
(trolling with science!) (and anyway, I was wrong: Venus is hotter)

"How do cars work? How does EVERYTHING work?"
(while failing to wind down for bedtime)

TBD: "Maybe you could walk and I run."
Janni: "But then you'll always win."
"That's okay."
(said cheerfully)

"I want shoulders all over my body."

*holds up an Ariel-branded toy* "Is she part of the Princess Team that has Elsa?"

I got the impression the Princess Team is thought of as a unit much like the Avengers. Which is not actually wrong.


Subject quote from "The High Road," Broken Bells.
larryhammer: Yotsuba Koiwai running, label: "enjoy everything" (run run run)
TBD is three years and ten months old, a.k.a. "going on four." Very going.

Achievements unlocked this last month: closing only one eye, continuously hopping on one foot, eating chicken drumsticks, clucking tongue, subtraction ("If there's three things, and I take one, then there are two" said at random without reference to any physical objects), and numbers in the teens (with glimpses of how further two-digit numbers work: "They keep circling around!").

FWIW, we are raising the sort of child who gets annoyed when a classmate claims that only bees sting, because they know that other insects also do (some from personal experience). It's one of those things, when reading a book about bugs, that you ask about, for every bug.

For a while, the planets were the current subject of interest, as in reading about, asking questions, absorbing the answers, and making connections. (Also being absorbed, less obsessively: dinosaurs and the human body.) To be clear, grownups do the actual reading -- though TBD now finds not being able to read deeply frustrating. As a result, now that numerals are down solid, we're trying hard to learn the alphabet, making this the current absorbing interest -- including repeatedly requesting books that tutor the reader in letters (such as Curious George Learns the Alphabet) and self-drilling using fridge-magnet letters.

Yes, self-drills. This, and asking us to drill them, still floors me. Self-motivated learner much?

Current favorite play at home: cars/trucks/planes, jigsaw puzzles, Busytown: Eye Found It, pretend games, and reading, with relative preferences constantly fluctuating. Current favorite tv: Wonder Pets! and Hurray for Huckle!, with Peppa Pig waning.

In the daily living side of things, we have a growing wardrobe crisis: winter shirts that were comfortably large at the start of the season are now noticeably too short in the torso, leaving us with little more than a week's worth of truly acceptable outfits, slowly added the past two months. Oops. Since most of short-sleeved tops are the same size, we'll have to replace all of those RSN. Hello, consignment shops, we've missed you.

New lisp: initial and medial /l/ often sounds closer to /w/ -- used to be clearer. Dunno what's up with that. Nor with the occasional lingering noun-swaps, as in "There's a sock in your hole" (though subject-object swaps are more common).

And speaking of speaking, talking talking continues:

"Maybe we can play that we are on a march."
(why, yes, we have been to a few protests, why do you ask?)

"I won't lick my friends, only grown-ups."

"Everything is in something."
(welcome to beginning set theory; the context, fwiw, was talking about what's inside stuffies and pillows)

"I'm going to fart at you guys. Daddy, stand back."

Me: "No, flipping the calendar forward a month doesn't make your birthday come any faster."
TBD: "Aw, man."

"I never tried it before so I don't want it."
(Janni considers this karmic revenge, as she got away with this for far too long during her childhood; it turned out to be yummy)

"When I get bigger, I won't know my name."
(lol whut?)

"What happens if you are driving, and there's someone in the back, going to the hospital, and you're driving fast, and you get to construction?"
(Translation: Do you have to slow down for road-work when you have a medical emergency? Janni interprets this as a truck fan's equivalent of "Who would win, Batman or Superman?") (FWIW, an ambulance-driver friend says her SOP is to cuss and then go around the construction.)

"You're so Daddy."
(multiple times, in the intonation of "You're so silly")

"Daddy might know. Daddy might know everything."
(no, I don't -- I'm only a Daddy)

(at bedtime) "I can't lie down because I have so many things to do."

Yes -- yes, you do. (But you still need to go night-night.)


Subject quote from "Just So," Agnes Obel.
larryhammer: stylized figures of a man and a woman on either side of a shopping cart carrying a heart (shopping cart of love)
For Poetry Monday, as I recover from a flu caught from TBD:

Axe Handles, Gary Snyder

One afternoon the last week in April
Showing Kai how to throw a hatchet
One-half turn and it sticks in a stump.
He recalls the hatchet-head
Without a handle, in the shop
And go gets it, and wants it for his own.
A broken-off axe handle behind the door
Is long enough for a hatchet,
We cut it to length and take it
With the hatchet head
And working hatchet, to the wood block.
There I begin to shape the old handle
With the hatchet, and the phrase
First learned from Ezra Pound
Rings in my ears!
"When making an axe handle
          the pattern is not far off."
And I say this to Kai
"Look: We'll shape the handle
By checking the handle
Of the axe we cut with—"
And he sees. And I hear it again:
It's in Lu Ji's Wên Fu, fourth century
A.D. "Essay on Literature"-—in the
Preface: "In making the handle
Of an axe
By cutting wood with an axe
The model is indeed near at hand."
My teacher Shih-hsiang Chen
Translated that and taught it years ago
And I see: Pound was an axe,
Chen was an axe, I am an axe
And my son a handle, soon
To be shaping again, model
And tool, craft of culture,
How we go on.

Another pome on children and teaching.

Subject quote from "The Excursion," William Wordsworth.
larryhammer: a symbol used in a traditional Iceland magic spell of protection (wonder)
For Poetry Monday, an old favorite:

For a Five-Year-Old, Fleur Adcock

A snail is climbing up the window-sill
into your room, after a night of rain.
You call me in to see and I explain
that it would be unkind to leave it there:
it might crawl to the floor; we must take care
that no one squashes it. You understand,
and carry it outside, with careful hand,
to eat a daffodil.

I see, then, that a kind of faith prevails:
your gentleness is moulded still by words
from me, who have trapped mice and shot wild birds,
from me, who drowned your kittens, who betrayed
your closest relatives and who purveyed
the harshest kind of truth to many another,
But that is how things are: I am your mother,
And we are kind to snails.

For us, it's small beetles ("buggies!") in the house, but same message. "We are kind to snails" was a code phrase in our house for many years prior child.


Subject quote from "The Snow-Storm," Ralph Emerson.
larryhammer: stylized figures of a man and a woman on either side of a shopping cart carrying a heart (shopping cart of love)
TBD is three years and nine months old, and almost daily anticipates turning four. ("Will I get presents for my birthday?" "Can we get a jumping castle at my party?" "Is my birthday tomorrow?")

Achievements unlocked this last month: the only one I noted was pumping self on swing. There was lots of practice towards mastering previous achievements, including buttons and storytelling (now up two sentences long).

In books, now that we've all-but-exhausted the Elephant & Piggie series, we're working our way through the empire of Curious George. While there's been a few more chapter books, including some Winnie the Pooh (I have to viciously hack away skip a lot of verbal murbling) and various series by friends of Janni, mostly we're still in the land of picture books + early readers* -- the latter with an emphasis on Marvel superheroes (Spider Man, Iron Man, Avengers) and nonfiction about the natural world and space (Dorrington-Kindersley, Cat in the Hat science books).

FWIW, current favorite superhero is Batman. (Batman shirts and underwear are worn as soon as washed.) Much effort is being spent trying to reconcile Hulk's anger with being one of the good guys. And on the difference between stories and reality.

We still go out to wave at the astronauts during visible ISS transits, bath-and-bedtime permitting. Growing up to be an astronaut ("I'm going to drive a rocket ship") has been insistent/consistent/persistent for a couple months now. We're trying to encourage this without pushing too hard.

After seeing snippets of American football at Grandpa's house, TBD came away with this understanding of how you play: one person throws a ball, then the other person catches it and falls down. This is not actually wrong. This makes for an entertaining indoor game.

In other pastimes, the Busytown: Eye Found It game has been successfully introduced. We've made many trips to the nearest used book store, as each visit we allow one new jigsaw puzzle (as well as yay books).**

Numeral recognition is down cold, but numbers past 9 are still confusing -- as is, to be fair, counting past 13. This somewhat hinders the lessons in clock-reading, requested every couple days. Some basic words are recognized as a whole pattern ("No", "Roar"), but less than half the alphabet can be identified.

In current pronunciations, for a while "Daddy" often resolved closer to dah-tee than dah-dee -- I blame Peppa Pig. (Not my favorite TV show, but it's relatively innocuous and introduced the Tooth Fairy so we don't have to. Also current watching: Paw Patrol and Hurray for Huckle). Sentences grow in complexity, including more careful use of conditionals and subjunctives. Time beyond yesterday and tomorrow is still somewhat fuzzy: "tomorrow" often means "the next day," as in "tomorrow and tomorrow is (event)" for something the day after tomorrow.

And then there's the talking, talking:

(swooping about a bunny) "Help! I'm flying instead of hopping!"

"Wolves blow down houses only in stories?"

TBD: "Once upon a time there was a king who lived in a castle for three days."
Janni: "Then what happened?"
"Then a dinosaur came and ate him up."

"In stuffies there is stuff."

TBD: "I wish I was a clock."
Janni: "So you'd always know what time it is?"
(laugh) "That clock doesn't know what time it is."
(apparently this is funny because it's inanimate)

Janni: "You don't want to watch the rest of Cars?"
TBD: "Because I don't like Mater and Lightning."
"Because Lightning McQueen is mean?"
"I think he's going to learn to be nicer."
"I don't want that story."

(evening after the post-inaugural march)
"How was your day?"
"What was the best part?"
"The $friendsname part."
(we marched with said friend, who had a two-seater stroller enclosed against icy rain -- TBD carried a sign saying "DON'T BE MEAN" and friend "BE KIND")

"Oh no, the plate is sneaking away without any food on it!"



* As a book, I'm especially impressed with a retelling of the first five minutes of A New Hope from the droids' point of view, called Escape from Darth Vader. It's a complete, if open-ended, story.

** Props to Melissa & Doug for their high quality floor puzzles.


Subject quote from "Kiss," Prince.
larryhammer: Yotsuba Koiwai running, label: "enjoy everything" (enjoy everything)
Public Service Announcement:

A crocheted Totoro stuffie with a pink doctor's kit bandage on one ear and a cast on the other arm is ridiculously cute.

(Pix didn't come out sorry not sorry.)


Subject quote from "Alexander Hamilton," Lin-Manuel Miranda.
larryhammer: a wisp of smoke, label: "it comes in curlicues, spirals as it twirls" (what tangled tales we weave)
Since all knowledge is contained somewhere out there, an open request for advice:

Since I'm unlikely to ever reread Marmalade Boy or Kodocha and we are pruning for space, it's time to sell them off. However, given the difficulty I had assembling the complete series, I suspect that if offered in the right venue, we'd get enough more than from the local used bookstore chain (typically $2/volume) to make it worth the bother.

Am I likely correct? If so, where do you recommend?


Subject quote from "Tank!," Yoko Kanno.
larryhammer: stylized figures of a man and a woman on either side of a shopping cart carrying a heart (romance)
TBD is three years and eight months old.

Achievements unlocked: dressing self, jacket zippers, jigsaw puzzles, hopping on one foot, fear of dying (to the point of sometimes not wanting to grow up), body modesty with those not authorized to help in the potty, and sitting through a theater movie not previously seen (The Eagle Huntress, which was fine except for one scene and previews too scary to stay in the theater).

Holiday visit to grandparents went quite well -- more social, more interactive, and generally more stamina for road trips. Grandpa is adored. The present-a-night observance of Hanukkah is being thoroughly enjoyed, as was the big gallumph of Christmas presents. (I should explain, I think, that while Janni and TBD are Jewish, I and my parents are not, so both traditions are observed. We also observe Chinese New Year.)

Lots of developmental things happening -- including the above-mentioned mastery of jigsaw puzzles, which is current favorite play activity, as well as inventing more songs than ever -- but I noted very few of them down. Instead, this post is mostly talking, talking:

(pulls off shirt)
TBD: "I did it $realname style."
Janni: "You found your own way to do it?"
"Say that was pretty awesome."
"That was pretty awesome."

TBD: "Mommy, Daddy, I'm hungry."
"Come to the table to eat."
"I'm not that hungry."

TBD: "Who's that?" (pointing at a photo of Trump)
Me: "That's the man who's going to be president."
TBD: "What's his name?"
Me: "His name is Donald Trump."
TBD: "Why not Hillary Clinton?"
Janni: "Because more people ... not more people, but more people in the right places wanted Trump."
TBD: "We're in the right place?"
Me: "It's complicated"
Janni: "Basically more people wanted him."
TBD: "We didn't."
Janni: "No, because he's mean to people. Do you know what a bully is?"
TBD: (shakes head)
Janni: "Well ... because the president is mean, we have to work harder to not be mean. To be kind. That means if someone is sad, ask if they're okay. If someone is playing alone, ask if they want to play with you."
(A few minutes later, TBD asks that I put a safety pin on their shirt, like I've been doing)
(TBD goes to Janni, now in another room)
TBD: "Why you not wearing one?"
Janni: "I can wear one."
(TBD leaves and comes back with another safety pin, hands it to Janni)
TBD: "Don't be mean."

"Do you want juice or water?"
"I want books."
(is this our kid or what?)

(singing) "Rats and bays, apples and grays, all the pretty little horses, and cows"

"I am a human so I dress myself."

"Mommy, I want a hippopotamus."
"You want a hippopotamus? A real one?"
"You want a play hippopotamus as a present?"
"For a surprise."
"Is it still a surprise if you know what it is?"
"It's a surprise because it is hidden."
(still working through the concepts of surprises and secrets)

(Janni draws on a restaurant placemat)
TBD: "Only kids can draw. Not grownups."
"Grownups draw."
"No they don't."
"What about $friend? He draws picture books."
"Only $friend can."

"Some spiders eat spiders?"
(putting together that spiders a) eat bugs and b) are bugs) (FWIW, it turns out there's a family of spiders that prey on other spiders)

"Why no dinosaurs in the world?"
(that they died long ago was a shocking recent discovery)

"There's so many stars. It's so awesome."


Subject quote from "Just So," Agnes Obel.
larryhammer: Yotsuba Koiwai running, label: "enjoy everything" (enjoy everything)
TBD is three years and seven months old.

(Meta: I've been avoiding gendering TBD online, including personal pronouns, but many observations of late are about gendering. Because, well, we're at that age. I think I will continue this bit of privacy, limited though it is, and shorten the public report. As it is, we are rapidly approaching the age where TBD will able to knowledgeably consent or not to even this much sharing.)

Achievements unlocked: mugging for the camera, slide switches, working larger buttons, continuous scissors cutting (long strips), peeling oranges, consistent recognition of the numerals, and pronouncing terminal -th. Plus while it's not an achievement per se, we now appreciate routine "You remind me of a man" "What man?" "A man with power." etc. -- and, of course, want the infinite joke to keep going. (Time for "This is the song that does not end"?) More simple puns.

Current Monster Threat Level, after an SF con with hall costumes (Jabba the Hutt was especially impressive) and maternal outpatient surgery, is elevated but relaxing: Last night during bedtime I had to chase away threats of a scary tomato and a bad bed, among others. (I ate the tomato and changed the bed.)

Speaking of anxieties, I forgot to mention, a few months ago, that after the last grandparental visit, TBD took that they are getting old/slow and need medicines to keep them healthy, and worked out that this means they will eventually die. That brain, always thinking, thinking. (Another example: late in the day, taking me to task for running a yellow light early in the morning -- thought it through, and based on the guidelines we'd explained, decided I should have played it safe.)

We're in a phase of strongly wanting to help in the kitchen, to the point that cooking dinner takes half again as long (at least). Some dishes strain our ingenuity, finding ways to be assisted.

Current favorite tv: "The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That" -- which is not as emotionally smart as Daniel Tiger, but is at least better than average and has a lot of natural history goodness. Daniel hasn't been abandoned, mind, but is asked for less. Interestingly, now that the Curious George books have been discovered -- and my, there are so many! -- we haven't watched a single episode of the show.

Scatological humor is big right now, especially to try getting a rise from us. Developmentally appropriate, we tell ourselves. As was repeating a cuss word -- that it was "darn" made it hard not to laugh. "Darn darn darn darn."

Other talking, talking:

TBD: "I want to read about the girl who went first."
Me: "Which book is that?"
"The one about Clinton."
(Hillary Rodham Clinton: Some Girls Are Born to Lead) (TBD was disappointed to learn that she would not, in fact, be first)

(shopping for a birthday present for Mommy)
"If we don't get her a toy, she'll be sad."

(in line at grocery)
"I'd like a kitten sometime."

"Why do fire trucks water plants?"
(question word with verb! -- those suddenly appeared) (also: huh?)

"Why do dinosaurs honk when we do this?" :squeezes a stuffie's tail:
(it was a short tail on a triceratops -- I wondered later if this was confused with the horns, thus the honk)

"Maybe I want cookies for breakfast."

TBD: "Every time you walk you say Dum dee dum dee dum."
Janni: "Dum dee dum dee dum."
"Don't! Because every time you talk you get spines in your mouth."
"You talked! Now you have a spine in your throat."

"Butt, butt, Butty is a butt!"
(the tune for this managed to earworm me)

"Hi, we're going to the tow truck. Why? Because we are, silly goose. Said the fireman."

We are all silly geese around here of late. *honk*


Subject quote from "The Village," George Crabbe.


15 November 2016 01:49 pm
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (some guy)
TBD fell asleep on my shoulder while shopping, and did not see me pick up the bag of clementines at Trader Joe's. Awake at home, when they were finally seen, there was a shriek of delight.

Oranges have returned. Repeat: ORANGES HAVE RETURNED.

Further bulletins will be issued as the situation warrants.

larryhammer: a symbol used in a traditional Iceland magic spell of protection (iceland)
Two nights ago, for the book to read before bathtime, TBD requested "the girl who was first." On questioning, this was clarified as, "the one about Clinton" -- which led to a scramble to find, amid the piles of picture books that is our former coffee table, Hillary Rodham Clinton: Some Girls Are Born to Lead.

The girl who was first, indeed. We surely hope so.


Subject quote from "Make You Feel My Love," Bob Dylan.
larryhammer: stylized figures of a man and a woman on either side of a shopping cart carrying a heart (romance)
TBD is three and a half, and spent half the past month looking forward to being Spiderman for Halloween.

Achievements unlocked this month include: telling stories, joy in roller coasters and other fair rides,
"I'm teasing you!", dominoes, and cutting up hot dogs with a knife (while closely supervised). (I'm not sure if it's an achievement, there is also starting to consistently respond (especially with a nod) to tv characters addressing the viewer.)

Following up on last month, I've come to realize that all interrogative pronouns are used as verbals: "What you say?" "Where we going?" "How we get there?" -- it wasn't until verbs were consistently used in statements and other questions ("Are we going in the big car?") that this usage stood out, though it had been there for a long time.

Other language use of note: there's increasing use of several general-use nonsense words, which can be names, places, objects, or verbs. Totia (which first showed up as the name of an imaginary friend), sing-sing-song, and hohala are the most common, but there are many others, both two and three syllables.

Other behaviors I haven't had much time to note down (crunchy worktime), though transitioning to the next room at preschool (and consequently playing with a larger pool of friends) and to initially sleeping in own room at night have both resulted in feeling like a bigger kid than before. But I did get down some talking, talking:

"The animals that are babies, they all cry?"

TBD: "Jennifer's kids who are grownups, they went into a different house?"
Janni: "They did. But when you're a grownup you can stay here or move into your own house. It's up to you."
"I don't -want- to go."
"Then you don't have to."
"How you have enough room in mommy and daddy's room for me?"
"Maybe we'll just put a bigger bed in your room."
:pulls down pants: "Look at my butt!"

(talking about dressing as Spiderman for Halloween)
"Then I will be a superhero. I will tell people, 'Don't be mean' and 'No fighting.' And I will climb buildings."

"After all the no-school days and school days, I'll be big."

(TBD buries self under blanket on top of me)
TBD: "I'm a baby in Daddy's tummy."
Me: "This baby is heavy. When's my due date?"
Janni: "You'll have to ask her."
TBD: "I'm a baby can't talk!"

(while looking at the farm-machinery page of a book of truck pictures and talking about what vehicle we'd each like to drive)
Me: "Can't I drive the sheep this time?"
TBD: "I don't see a steering wheel."
(said as if this was a conclusive argument)

"If a turtle has a shell covering its butt and private parts, how it poops and pees?"

Many important questions. We answer as best we can.


Subject quote from "Sing," Joe Raposo (yes, it was written for Sesame Street).
larryhammer: a wisp of smoke, label: "it comes in curlicues, spirals as it twirls" (curlicues)
All Knowledge Is Contained Et Cet.

My current office building has a stairwell with 8 flights up, which is great for stair-walking in breaks away from the desk. This needs a playlist with a measured walking pace -- tracks roughly 60-70 bpm, preferably without words, or at least without English lyrics. Current favorites are:

Love Beat, Yoshinori Sunahara
Make the Road by Walking, Menahan Street Band
Solamente, Pretty Lights

I need more. What else should I add?


Subject quote from "Vuelvo al Sur," Gotan Project, another on this playlist.
larryhammer: Yotsuba Koiwai running, label: "enjoy everything" (run run run)
TBD is three years and five months old, and does not want to nap any more.

We're still adjusting to the new schedule, which includes an afternoon hour's "quiet time" and an earlier bedtime, but aside from low-resource evenings and the occasional mid-afternoon crash, it seems to be working out. Which we like because it means more afternoon for errands and more evening for ourselves.

Achievements unlocked this month: riding 12 blocks on a balance bike to the wash ("river") and back, folding a square paper into quarters ("small squares"), drawing crossed ("window") and parallel ("walking sticks") straight lines, using "Aw, man" as a release for disappointment (such as anyone getting sent back down the Candyland path), "reading" familiar picture books to self, and seeing figures in clouds.

There have been more and more demands for invented stories ("Tell me about my X day," including a running serial about meeting Ponyo in daily life,** who then disappears before any grownup sees her,* as well as episodes of meeting Daniel Tiger), and more demands to play rather than read. We parents are starting to be used as a sibling substitute: "Say 'That's mine'" is the signal for the start of a practice wrangle. Ditto the cats.

Monster Threat Level is currently low -- which is our way of measuring anxiety levels: more monsters "show up" when unsettled. OTOH, during a discussion about whether ghosts are real, after being told that TBD could decide whether to believe they are, said, "I don't want them to be real. Like Daniel Tiger." -- and there's been much less anxiety about them since. Overall security is high enough that the parent of a friend is sufficient accompaniment for a half-hour ramble in the forest; on the other hand, being left alone with grandparents for a 10-minute errand meant a few days of clingy worries of abandonment.

More interesting is how TBD keeps making connections between things: for example, took the fact that we've seen ant nests in broken street pavement and the fact that broken roads get repaired, and asked how the road workers move the ants out of the way during road repairs. A few days after a discussion about how bicycles can't go inside schools and libraries because the wheels are dirty from being outside, asked why wheelchairs are allowed.

And then there's number abstraction: if there's two cups on the table and I put down another, when asked how many does that make, we get the answer not by counting the cups but own fingers. (We still having trouble keeping track of which objects have been counted past around 7, though.)

Also: TBD can get enough focus on a given task that it can be hard to catch attention.

So, um, yeah. This is a preschooler with an interesting brain. Not to mention one who's always talking, talking:

TBD: "Why my shadow so long?"
Me: "The sun is lower in the sky. It's setting earlier and earlier."
"It means I'm getting bigger."

"Why we people?"

"Why some tigers and some cats wear clothes?"
(struggling with the concept of story animals)
(note, btw, the way in these three "why" acts as a verbal)

Janni: "Would you like some yogurt?"
TBD: "Yeah. That would cheer me up."
(this may be an Elephant & Piggie reference)

"It's not funny, said the fart."

"If we have no furniture, we say, :gasp:! We have no furniture!"
(this came totally out of the blue -- no idea where that came from)

"If I want to be a moon, I will rise."

"Let's take this man to the hospital. No, we're not ready yet. We have to do the dishes."
(it took 10 minutes for the "ambulance driver" to finally take me there)

Growing, growing, always growing.

* Rule #1: grownups never disbelieve Ponyo was there, and are always disappointed they missed her. "Aw, man!" *giggle*

** The fanfic impulse starts young.


Subject quote from "Oda a Diccionario" ("Ode to the Dictionary"), Pablo Neruda, tr. Margaret Sayers Peden.
larryhammer: stylized figures of a man and a woman on either side of a shopping cart carrying a heart (romance)
TBD is three years and four months old. Hello there, obvious preschooler -- where'd you pop up from? And when did you start asking multipart "why?" questions with subordinate speculations?

Achievements unlocked this month: somersaults, putting on velcro'd shoes (sometimes asking whether the first one is going on the correct foot), undoing buttons (still working on fastening), unlocking the front door with keys, knowing that if you have 1 of something and then 2 more that's 3 things, and making simple puns ("Uncle Bret's name sounds like bread -- Uncle Bread!").

We can reliably enumerate up to 8 objects now, before losing track of which have already been counted, and sometimes up to 11. We're still working on counting to 20 (the mid-teens are confusing). Not clear whether any new letters are recognized, but some numbers seem to be.

Longer stories are now in play: TBD is starting to request and sitting through a chapter book with limited pictures, if read in installments. (We started with a Junie B. Jones tale. 'Cause we found one at the bookstore, that's why.)

Play-acting now encompasses being a superhero while wearing a paper mask (you pick up a lot of those as a toddler - it's an easy craft project to decorate one). The main job of a superhero, btw, is to tell bad guys, "Don't be mean!" and if they don't stop being mean, take away their sword. Or sometimes put out the fire that's burning them -- games shift quickly around here.

We've been informed that the rule of the road is "Don't crash!" This is what police officers tell people when they stop them.

Talking, talking continues:

Janni: "What did you put in your underwear?"
TBD: "A flashlight."
"Why is there a flashlight in your underwear?"
"You do it."
"I don't want a flashlight in my underwear."
"I'm looking for someone who is lost."

(pointing to picture of a family eating pancakes)
TBD: "Lookit. They left the syrup open."
Me: "You're right. I wonder why."
"Maybe because it's hard to open."

(pointing to picture of ants carrying a slice of watermelon towards their nest)
TBD: "How they going to get THAT down [the small tunnel]? :laugh: Maybe they bite off little pieces."

"It's a rumblestorm. Why?"

"When you draw, you see what happens."
(that is, you find out what you've drawn)

"We're going to someplace." (sees me in the kitchen) "Uh oh, this is a cooking place. Let's go." (heads to bedroom)

So it goes.


Subject quote from "The Hosting of the Sidhe," William B. Yeats

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