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Monday, March 28, 2011

Criss-cross applesauce

We all have odd physical traits that we exhibit without ever thinking about it- quirks that have been a part of who we are for as long as we can remember. Like the fact that I cross my feet when I'm in my most relaxed, natural state- whether it's sitting at the desk working (ok, so not the most relaxed or natural, more like unthinking...) or lying in bed falling asleep.

We don't often think about how these little habits come about- are they the product of learned behavior or genes passed down over which we have no control?

I think I might have an inkling now... :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Say what you mean; mean what you say

With five words, Sophie made an observation, drew an inference, and issued an imperative:

"Slide broken. Closed. Fix it."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The center cannot hold

Things were great while it lasted- Sophie had no qualms climbing up the structure all by herself, coming down the slide on her own, laughing when she fell, and picking herself up after. But things started to fall apart after about 15 minutes and we had no choice but to leave...

So on the recommendation of one of the mommies in our mommy group, I brought Sophie to Jungle Java, an indoor playground, yesterday afternoon. It's one of those places with a large labyrinthine play structure into which you can let your kids loose. They also have a designated toddler area with climbers and a slide that are more size-appropriate for the little people. It sounded so promising conceptually- the kids get to play in a safe, enclosed area while parents sit back and relax while enjoying good snacks and coffee. But the combination of the time of the day (Sunday afternoon), time of the year (cold and wet so the kids are all wound-up from not enough outside time), and Sophie not having been exposed to such large play situations just got a little overwhelming for the poor girl. The big kids were running recklessly in and out of the toddler area so there were children every which way you turned, many not even watching where they're going and almost trampling on the little ones; the bigger play structure was really distracting for Sophie and she kept wanting to make a break for it to join them; because it's indoors, every sound is amplified so the whole place was just ringing with noise; and many parents basically treated the area like a baby-sitter and left their toddlers alone while they went and enjoyed their coffee- unsupervised, rambunctious toddlers are sometimes not very nice to other toddlers, even those with their mommies with them.

And so there Sophie was- excited, (over) stimulated, enthralled, but also a little frightened and anxious. Fifteen minutes after we arrived, 4 or 5 trips down the slide, and several failed attempts to dash to the big kid area later, Sophie threw herself onto the floor in a puddle of kicks and tears. I think there was simply too much going on. And so I scooped her up, put on her shoes and jacket, and walked right out. The cold, bracing air was such a relief and we just sat in the car for the next 10 minutes, letting Sophie cool down with some milk, crackers, and The Innocence Mission on the car stereo. We spent the rest of the afternoon at Nicola's Books where Sophie and I were the only people in the store. She was perfectly content.

Here are some videos of when the going was still good:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring is for...

Running outside in the sun,

swinging on swings,

sliding down slides,

feeling the wind blow across your face,

hanging out with friends,

and chasing after leaves while searching for water fountains :)

Friday, March 18, 2011


[Lunchtime. Damien Rice's "Delicate" playing in the background]

Me: Sophie, this is one of Mama's favorite songs. One day, you'll love Damien Rice just like Mama, okay?
Sophie: Oh-tay.
Me: Say delicate?
Sophie: Oh-tay.
Me: delicate?
Sophie: Puff puff?

We need to work on this... :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Random Daycare Daily Report #11

Sophie is definitely an independent thinker :) Today, several of her friends were making a "messy painting" (finger painting with paint and shaving cream). Sophie took one look at it and decided she wasn't interested in getting messy today. Actually, I think she was more excited at having all the toys in the room to herself while her friends were pre-occupied with something else. Smart girl!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The birth of a word

If you have or know a child under the age of three, you must watch this video.

Coming out of the Media Lab at MIT this is an astounding study of how children learn words- what the role of the caregiver and context is, and how we can visualize that information. As a parent and early childhood researcher, this blew my mind. Since Sophie spoke her first word, I've been keeping a record of each word that has come after and the approximate date of its acquisition. Call me obsessive, but like I tell Jude, "It's data!" How else would I know that what was "ta-too" in September last year finally evolved into "crackers" two weeks ago. But this study takes that obsessiveness to a whole other level, with 140 000 hours of audio and video data. The visualization of the data is stunning but more importantly, what Deb Roy presents in this video barely scrapes the surface of what the study can potentially tell us about children's vocabulary acquisition and what we can do to support their learning. There's still so much we don't know about how children pick words up- learning how to speak is a natural and instinctual process but it is also one that is profoundly complex and mysterious.

I'll let the video speak for itself. Really, watch it, and feel yourself tingle when you hear how "gaa gaa" evolves into "water".

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lunch epiphany

At lunch today, we taught Sophie that instead of eating her minestrone soup and bread separately, it is entirely acceptable to dunk her bread into the soup first as another soup-delivery mechanism. Let's just say that was the last we saw of the spoon this afternoon.

You may count her mind as officially blown...

Lip-smackingly good :)

After Dunk #2:

And the final verdict?


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Random Daycare Daily Report #10

Sophie cracks me up with the things she says. She'll do something silly and then say, "funny!" She knows she's a comedian :) Sophie had fun making a special painting today for Month of the Young Child. It will be on display at Cafe Marie in early April!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sophie, meet bubble wrap

If we knew then what we know now about what best captures young toddlers' attention, we wouldn't have bought Sophie all those toys that now populate her play yard, no matter how developmentally appropriate they're supposed to be. Instead, I would have invested our money in stacks of stickers and rolls of bubble wrap. Next to her books, these are the only things that will occupy her (well, YouTube and TV too, but we won't go there...), which when it comes to Sophie, means getting her to sit by herself quietly for at least 10 minutes.

She discovered bubble wrap yesterday when an extremely heavy textbook arrived for Jude covered in the thing. After that, it was hours of endless fun spent popping the bubbles and hearing Sophie go, "bubble pop!" over and over :) It took a while for her to get the whole mechanics of squeezing the bubble and initially, she'd just try to gnaw at it to get it to burst when squeezing failed; but after a while, she got the hang of it and wouldn't let me near it to help her. And because the bubble wrap we had are the ones with the larger bubbles, Sophie could actually feel the air release in her face with each bubble she burst- watching her reaction the first few times was priceless...

[I really do love Sophie's pudgy little hands]

[Developing intense effort and concentration]

I've had the iPhone/iPad bubble wrap app for a while now but Sophie's never been interested in it. I'm not sure if having discovered the real thing is going to make her like the virtual one better or not...

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Day at the museum

1. Excited flapping hands :), 2. How big a mastodons leg is, 3. "Row, row, row...", 4. Kneeling for a better look at the wild-life dioramas. , 5. Dada showing here where on the globe we are, 6. Sophie wanted to touch the owl badly

I don't know what took us so long to finally make our way to the Exhibit Museum of Natural History which is right on central campus and a ten minute drive from us. I guess we thought Sophie wasn't big enough to appreciate the exhibits. But oh is she ready now...

Ever since downloading all the various Night and Day Studio apps for the iPhone/iPad, Sophie has come to know her animals very well. She can pick them out in a group, name them, and most of the time, imitate the sound they make. Add to that her odd penchant for dinosaurs (it started with an episode of Harold and the Purple Crayon...) and you have an 18-month old who was raring to go when we told her we were going to the museum to see dinosaurs and animals. All the way to the museum, she kept saying "dinosauce, dinosauce" (that's how her dinosaurs comes out) over and over... until we actually walked into the dinosaur exhibit area where she promptly clammed up, grabbed our hands, and refused to let go for the longest time. See, the thing is, methinks our daughter likes the idea of animals; it's an exciting notion, conceptually. But bring her anywhere near them (or in this case, their skeletons or a stuffed version of them) and she gets a little nervous... For all her hellion bravado, she's a little scaredy cat inside :)

She did eventually warm up though and had just a fantastic time scuttering from one exhibit to the next. She was enthralled by the large dinosaur displays but was probably still a little intimidated by them to appreciate their spectacular majesty (truly, they were awesome...). But she absolutely loved the wildlife dioramas-- from squirrels to ducks, rabbits to owls-- she wanted to look at each and every one (and touch them too of course, failing which, kissing the glass panels was the next best thing).

Sophie's not going to remember much of what we did today-- not in the long run any way-- but we'd like to think that we gave her something to see, think and talk about today and maybe tomorrow. And for an 18-month old, that's probably more than we can ask for.

[Rest of photos here.]

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Happy 107th birthday, Theodor Seuss Geisel!

Sophie's still a little young for the Dr. Seuss books (although when the mood strikes, she will listen to the entirety of Fox in Socks...) but one day, she will discover and hopefully fall in love with the Wockets, Whos, Grinches, bunches of Hunches, Bar-ba-loots, red fish, and blue fish who populate the Seussian world. It's Geisel's birthday today, and to celebrate the odd, fanciful, and wonderful books he has shared with the world, here are some of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes:
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells.”

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

“We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”

What's your favorite Dr. Seuss quote?

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Puddles of fun

**Update: It would seem that Sophie's obsession with puddles is not lost on her teachers. Her report from school today read:
Sophie had SO much fun outside today. Immediately she was drawn like a magnet to the puddles of melted snow. She couldn't wait to jump in and splash in each and every one. Sophie wasn't satisfied until she'd completely soaked both her mittens and her socks :) Speaking of, Sophie will need some extra socks in her cubby :)

Sophie loves puddles.

She loves looking for them, she loves us walking through them when we're carrying her, and most of all, she loves stomping in them on her own. And so yesterday, with the temperature creeping up into the 30s and the snow starting to melt, I bundled her up in her snow suit and boots (less to keep her warm than to keep her dry) and brought her on a puddle expedition.

We started out with a nice puddle outside our house (see video below) and then I put her in her wagon and we systematically visited as many puddles as we could around the neighborhood. Every time we saw a puddle, I'd take her out and she'd stomp in it to her heart's content, saying to herself over and over, "stomp, stomp, stomp" :) Sometimes I'd miss one and she'd yell for me to stop. A demanding one, our offspring... Along the way, I'd talk to her about icicles (she wants to touch and break them all the time), how slippery and dangerous black ice is, and why she can look at geese from afar but not try to chase after them (which she did of course and promptly got goose poop all over on her gloves and boots...)

Spring's going to be fun- puddles are really going to be everywhere by then and we'll have to have to get Sophie a pair of proper galoshes for all the puddles she will undoubtedly be jumping into :)