larryhammer: drawing of a wildhaired figure dancing, label: "La!" (celebrate)
In lieu of the usual monthly TBD report, which I haven’t pulled together,*** a single anecdatum:

TBD found the pilot of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic so scary they didn’t watch another episode until a week later, and only after parental prescreening confirmed it's much less dark.* The ponies nonetheless immediately became part of pretend play, with scenarios being routinely interrupted by everyone turning into My Little Ponies for a detached adventure, before turning back into whoever they were beforehand. Rainbow Dash is definitely Favorite Pony—right after watching episode 2, I was told TBD wants to be Rainbow Dash for Halloween next year.**


* The pilot is darker than either Frozen or Moana. Surprisingly so.

** We already have his year’s costume, Batgirl.

*** I'll double up next month.


---L.

Subject quote from "Watershed," Vienna Teng.
larryhammer: drawing of a wildhaired figure dancing, label: "La!" (celebrate)
TBD is four years + four months old. Not as much noted down this month because life.

Achievements unlocked this last month: concentration-style games, a magnifying glass, twist-ties, recognizably writing own name (by copying letters from a model), rock paper scissors, camping, scrambling eggs.

Apparently Lunchbox Squarepants is the official headcanon name. Other media recently consumed eagerly include Paw Patrol, Space Racers, and Dinosaur Train -- as well as several Mandarin learning games, in part because we allow extra screen time for those. Which we do because TBD has started weekly Mandarin lessons at the local Chinese Cultural Center. As well as biweekly Hebrew school. Added to the occasional First Day School at Quaker Meeting, we have very full Sundays -- we'll see if this works out.

The camping trip was greatly enjoyed, as was hiking a mile without having to be carried (though we had to talk them into finishing the last 100 meters). TBD was disappointed we didn't do it again the next, holiday weekend. We're hoping this Friday night -- it's clear getting up the mountain is good for TBD, in many ways.

Lots of work at school and home on writing and drawing skills -- copying letters is only the start. One key skill I noticed: when coloring in an area, trying to color along the edge instead of stopping a line from crossing it.

Another key development: TBD is starting to volunteer more details about things that happen when we're not around.

Speaking of which, there's a few bits of talking, talking:

(while playing at camping, a campfire story was needed:)
"Once upon a time it was Halloween, and there were a lot of monsters, and a lot of ghosties, and a lot of zombies, and a lot of robots, and it was very spooooky. They all went out in the street, scaring people, and they went trick-or-treating because there were people inside, the end."

"If you smush a bug by accident, that's okay?"
"It's okay. It's good to try not to, but it happens."
"Mommy, you be the bug."

"Rock, paper, scissors, poop!"

"I wish we had a baby. Because I get lonely here."


Because sometimes, alas, the grownups have other things to do than play.

---L.

Subject quote from "St. Stephen's Cross," Vienna Teng.
larryhammer: Yotsuba Koiwai running, label: "enjoy everything" (enjoy everything)
TBD is four years + three months old (though month is increasingly not a particularly significant digit).

Achievements unlocked this last month: rinsing hair by leaning head back in the bath, telling a complete invented story with beginning + middle + end, drawing a circle then coloring it in, drawing recognizable squares and triangles, monkey bars, fidget spinners, matching sounds to letters and vice versa.

Pretend play has grown ever more important, to the point that it has significantly displaced reading as TBD's preferred way of spending time with me. Typically the actors are toy cars and trucks, but for a week there it was small dinosaurs. Sometimes the fourth wall gets broken and the toys interact with the "giants" around them. Diegetic pretenders!

I've learned most of what I know about what goes on at school through pretend play.

Favorite color is now strong part of self-identity: If someone else likes dark blue, it's almost an affront. We're not sure what to make of this.

Thinking, thinking continues apace. The startling recent example was putting together a couple different explanations of where babies come from to form a surprisingly accurate summary of human reproduction, at a level of detail appropriate for a 4-year-old. There's been other examples of clever problem solving as well, none of which I wrote down and so cannot remember at the moment.

While there's been some work at learning lowercase letters, there's been more effort on letter sounds. TBD can generally name the letter that goes with a sound, and so spell out a word as someone sounds it out (assuming regular orthography). Sounding out a written word is a bit trickier, and so far TBD only sometimes manages that. Numbers up to a hundred can be read out, somewhat shakily. Writing letters remains even shakier, although the work on drawing/writing motor skills at preschool is showing.

And then there's talking, talking:

(of the Joker's mecha suit)
"Did he get that at the bad-guy store?"

(of a pretend fart)
"It smells like cranberries and milk and eyebrows and feet."

(shortly after learning about kryptonite)
"No, wait, I get to be Spider-man and you have to be Superman. Sorry, Daddy."

"On a march! And set! Go!"
(current standard phrase)

"I am the car with the bloody finger and I am 10 blocks away!"

"I have to choose all by myself, and you're not me."

"Have no fear, Halloween is here!"


Yes, we are already anticipating trick-or-treating. We still have a few pieces of candy from last year, mind. But they could run out any day!

---L.

Subject quote from "Shine," Vienna Teng.
larryhammer: Enceladus (the moon, not the mythological being), label: "Enceladus is sexy" (astronomy)
Three useful links:

The myth of force-quitting apps on iOS will save battery life. (via)

Subway-style maps of Roman roads of Britain (via) and
US rivers. (via)

A Chart of Cosmic Exploration. OMG WHERE WAS THIS A COUPLE MONTHS AGO WHEN I WAS TRYING TO MEMORIZE ALL THE ROBOTS WHO'VE EXPLORED OTHER PLANETS FOR US? WHY CAN'T I ORDER IT NOW NOW NOW?

---L.

Subject quote from "Harbor," Vienna Teng.
larryhammer: yellow origami butterfly (origami)
Realization while talking with [personal profile] branna: I've been folding origami for 40 years. My usual personal marker for no longer being a youngster is my time online (35 years, starting with dial-up BBSs) but this is an even longer measure. And in its way more impressive.

Since, however significant this may be to me, that's not enough to make a post, here's a couple recent results of all that practice:

Three-headed dragon

Folded from a 10" (25cm) square, no cuts: three long necks with dragon heads, four legs, wings, and a tail. This was something like the 5th or 6th time I've made this model, and despite it being several years since the last one, it was not the technical challenge I remembered -- just long and complicated. Huh.

The apatosaurus was a very small dinosaur

A tiny apatosaurus* folded from 3" (7.5cm) paper from memory, by way of stretching myself. I can hold about a dozen models in my head at any given time, and this is the most complicated one I've ever memorized. With TBD old enough I don't have to pocket a tissue pack everywhere I go, I now carry small folding papers. I managed this model without resorting to a toothpick or the like, for working the smaller folds. And then repeated the feat in light green (not shown).

---L.

* AKA the Artist Formerly Known As Brontosaurus.

Subject quote from "Let's Go Crazy," Prince.
larryhammer: Yotsuba Koiwai running, label: "enjoy everything" (enjoy everything)
TBD is four years + two months old.

Achievements unlocked this last month: "Are we home yet?", starting pre-kindergarten, tape dispensers, roller skates, washing and rinsing a small dish, putting on a backpack, opening and closing (mostly) an umbrella, recognizable drawing of a cat.

(Lots of fine motor skills there, innit? Hadn't noticed till I pulled this together.)

The past two/three months, there has been a notable ... increase in cohesion is the best word I can find, in both mental and emotional levels. And in carriage. The effect is that it feels like we have here a small person, instead of a tall preschooler. It's startling.

Some ways this shows: Travel is so much easier with a four-year-old than three-and-a-half. TBD is willing to run off, away from us, in company of friends -- among other signs of growing independence.

TBD's pre-K teacher is actively working her kids on the motor skills for writing, starting with straight lines. (Capital A is recognizable more often than not, but not other letters yet.) When coloring, TBD now works on scribbling over an entire figure -- now, finally, not worrying about going over the lines, but rather trying to fill in the area within regardless. Drawings are starting to get more of a recognizable schematic of what's intended.

Media: as soon as discovered, Blue's Clues immediately went into high circulation for the day's screen time. (Dora the Explorer also liked, alas.) Still also watching Chuggington, which is indeed better than Thomas and Friends. More and more library checkouts are superhero early readers. ETA: Dinosaur Train is also popular; saying "Da, duh, DUMMM!" dramatically after identifying something as a mystery or a clue has become a household trope.

The principles of rhyming (and other sound effects) have been internalized, and are being used creatively -- including in improvised songs, as well as noting when rhymes being used. Pronunciation is smoothing out still more, with /th/ -> /f/ still an issue, unless trying to speak especially clearly.

And then there's the talking, talking bits. Didn't get as much down this month as usual:

(after listing several career aspirations)
Janni: "You want to be a lot of things."
TDB: "But I don't have enough arms!"

(points at Wonder Woman in a picture with Superman and Batman)
"Why is she naked a little bit?"

"Do orange and morange rhyme?"
"They do."
"But $adultfriend said nothing rhymes with orange."


Uh, you got us there, kid. As you will, no doubt, continue to.

---L.

Subject quote from an improvised parody of "Great Big Stars".
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.

---L.

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?"
"Planets."
"Is this against planets or supporting them?"
"Support."
"A march for planets. Got it."
"Go."

$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.

---L.

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)

---L.

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."
(Uranus)

"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!

---L.

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.

---L.

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.)

---L.

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.

---L.

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?"
"Yeah."
"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?"
"Good."
"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!"

Onward!

---L.


* 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.


---L.

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.)

---L.

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?

---L.

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?"
"No."
"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."

---L.

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."
"Oooooooh."
"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*

---L.

Subject quote from "The Village," George Crabbe.

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