Thursday, June 14, 2012

Kiss it better!

Ok, it's not on his own initiative, but by diligent teaching from both parents, we've finally got the Monkey to request us to kiss his injuries better.  And frankly, it gives us the opportunity to get a quick cuddle - all it takes is a surreptitious smack to the back of the head, and he comes barreling towards us, demanding "tiss! tiss?!?".

Alright, alright, I was joking about the smacking.  HOWEVER - as I recently found out - he's not averse to a little bit of self 'harm' in order to get the required attention.  The other night he inspected his elbows, and finding them both bruise and graze free, he drummed them on the table-top, then demanded they both be 'tissed'.  This little performance was repeated a few times until we all grew bored of it (yes, sad to say that at the moment, he tires before we do!).

Just as a language aside (ahem), the Monkey is currently substituting alveolar stops for velar stops, so we get "twose" not "close", "tiss" not "kiss", "twime" not "climb", etc etc.  Except for the word "drink" or "drinking", in which case the pattern is reversed: "gwink" or "gwinking".  He's also producing quite a few 3-word utterances, usually cobbled together from something an adult has just said - so I might say "Let's go downstairs to see Daddy!", and I'll hear back "go down-stairs daddy?".  As of about 4 weeks ago, he started with regularisation errors.  These are really cool, as they're what happens when a child actually forms a rule of a language, and then over-applies it (something really easy to do in English!).  So the Monkey has been working on plurals, and we're getting a lot of "sheeps" and "foots" and "feets" at the moment.  He will imitate correctly just after he hears the right form, but I love catching his own rule-set in action.

Thanks - in no small part - to his mother's increasing laziness, he's spent rather more time on the iPad than I'm entirely happy with.  And the only way I can assuage my guilt, is to try to make sure that I have plenty of 'educational' stuff on there for him.  I have to say, I am impressed by the number of baby-centric apps that have been produced!  Many of them are great quality, and at $1.50 a pop, it's not a big spend for a few hours of entertainment.  I attribute his familiarity with alphabet letters and numbers largely to his iPad exposure - I certainly haven't been grilling him with flashcards, and in fact I was a little taken aback when I realised just how many letters/numbers he could name.  

As to number 2 (the poor chap really doesn't get much of a look-in), he's growing, and using my internal organs as a punching bag.  It's a bit of a challenge looking after a toddler and growing a baby at the same time, and I feel like I rather do let down the Monkey on that front.  I take him for the occasional walk, but he really likes being tossed about vigorously, and I'm just not up to it!  Well, only about another 6 weeks of baking, and hopefully the grub will be evicted.  I'm a little nervous as to how the Monkey's going to react.  I have tried to prime him by pointing to my stomach and saying "Here's your baby brother!", but only yesterday he pointed to his own stomach and said "baby brother!", so I don't think he's quite got the gist of it.  Oh well, we'll see.  The midwife has given us a spot of advice - she said that a travel cot was a good way to let the baby sleep in the room where all the action is - it'll prevent the Monkey from (accidentally or otherwise) falling on top of him, and it means that I don't have to corral off an area and keep them totally separate.  It sounds pretty good actually, so I'm going to have to go portacot shopping soon!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Language Sponge

Recently the Monkey skinned his knee.  At the time it wasn't painful enough to elicit a reaction, but when he caught a glimpse of the graze in the shower that night, he produced an extremely credible (and high-pitched) "ouch!!".  It was repeated every time he saw his injury over the next few days. 

It was a bit confusing as we hadn't really used the term much at home.  Previously if a graze or a bruise has been spotted, we've said things like "Oooh, you have a graze!", or something like that.

Anyway, we were sitting down watching some nature doco or other, when a porcupine appeared on the screen.  I named it for him (as is my wont these days), when he suddenly started up on his "ouch!! ouch!!" routine.  The only porcupine he's been exposed to is some African legend book about how the warthog got his warts (by running face-first into porcupine's quills, the daft sod).  I asked him if he wanted to read the book, and he trotted off, and fetched it back, and sure enough on the page where warthog becomes intimately acquainted with porcupine, there was a large "Ouch!" in the text.  We hadn't read the book for about 2/3 weeks, but as far as I can tell, this is probably the most likely source for the knee 'ouch!' as well. 

I was quite stunned to find that out.  I mean, I'd hardly credited the Monkey with being able to recall the morning's events after he'd had his midday nap, and now I have to assume that things are actually sticking in his wee mind.

He's turning into a little parrot as well.  Everything you say, you can expect to hear back, in its entirety (though maybe slightly garbled in the translation), or just some key words.  I suppose this is the point where we're really going to have to start watching our language!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cute Overload!

Okay - firstly, I'm not talking about cuddly kitten pictures, but - yep, you guessed it - my adorable first-born.  And okay, I'm hardly the first parent to be struck by the abominable cuteness of small toddler-hood, but this one I just had to share.

So the Monkey was trying on hats.  He found some crazy purple and black three-pronged jester hat from my old work days (one of those things they give away as it's a sales pitch for a company).  And once it was safely on, he rushed off, muttering "takul, takul!".  This, I was to learn, means "crocodile".  He brought back the crocodile hand-puppet and with unmistakeable gesturing, let me know I was to put it on.  Fine.  So I did.  He then proceeded - keep in mind the over-size jester's hat slipping over his eyes - to look around the room, and name things for the crocodile. 
"Tar!" he said.
"Guitar" growled the crocodile.  The Monkey nodded in satisfaction, and took stock again of his surroundings.
"Wis" he said, spotting a picture.
"Fish", said the crocodile.  The Monkey grinned - what a clever croc!
"Pee-ay-day" he said challengingly, after a moment's thought.
"Playdough!", said the crocodile (who'd been watching carefully).

And so on, and so on.  The Monkey very happily educated the crocodile on all the items he could see, including a lot of pictures that appeared on the computer screensaver.  The crocodile was only stumped once at something like "Tass".  In the end, without being able to take a stab at the item, he was reduced to copying the sounds, which didn't seem to impress the Monkey - he did try repeating it another time, but Croc was just too stupid. 

Maybe next time...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

An Autumnal Update

Long gaps between posts just mean that I end up with huge novellas, as I try to document everything in one post.  Maybe one day I'll actually fix that.

As it is, here's an attempt at a quick summary:

Pregnancy: Now at about 24 weeks. No chromosomal abnormalities, and it's another boy.  Possibly with a club foot, so for the moment is going by the nickname 'Byron'. I don't have a lot of time to whinge about how I feel with this one as the Monkey certainly doesn't give me the luxury to wallow.  Selfish little git!

The Monkey: Ah, but he's a funny little chap. 

Language run-down first: We have multisyllabic words - hurrah!  Apple is now actually (finally!) 'apple'!.  Sultanas are 'tana', iPad is 'ipad' (surprised that last one took so long to produce, given its level of importance in his life). 
We also have final consonants: 'bussss', 'bik' (biscuit), 'bed' (bread), 'cot', 'hot', and so forth. He's also starting to put two word sentences together - mostly adjective + noun ('big car', 'red car'), and sometimes verb + noun ('bite apple', 'kick cat').
It's funny that he can produce the [s] beautifully at the end of syllables, but not at the start.  F'rinstance 'sun' is now produced as 'hun' or 'hum'.  In fact, this seems to go for almost every fricative, which means that "sun", "fan", "van" and "sam" are all pretty identical, and can only be distinguished with the help of context.
I'm also interested in his intonation patterns.  When I chat to him about his life's most important pursuit, I use the following stress: "Yes.. that's a RED car!".  He, on the other hand, reverses the stress: "red CAR!".  He's certainly not imitating me, but I wonder if it's meaningful.  Could be that he just emphasises the bit he thinks is most important.  Could be a simple effect of vowel 'openness'.  Who knows.  Of passing interest, anyway.

General behaviour: The tantrums are starting.  So far, I think we've only had 2 really classic ones.  He doesn't throw himself to the ground (yet!), but he runs into a corner, and doubles over red-faced, screaming his anger and frustration to the world.  One was over a cup (I wouldn't give it to him full of water).  I can't remember what the other one was about.  And of course, we get plenty of mini-tanties, but I don't think they count unless the screaming goes on for more than 5 minutes (feels like forever at the time!)

He's starting to play with other kids, but not in a huge setting - usually when there's just one or two visiting.  Any more, and I think he gets a bit overwhelmed. 

He's a bit of a stickler for routines.  At bedtime, he likes to bring a small fleet of cars from the living room to the bedroom - perhaps in an effort to convince himself it's still not quite bedtime?  Anyway, after the book's been read, he then becomes mad keen for everything to be put away.  This means that the vehicles must all be placed on top of the low shelves where his books are - and he gets quite upset if a car is just left on the floor.  I've made the mistake of not spotting one, and had to listen to the sad little voice saying "away? AWAY?!?" miserably through the monitor. 

He's physically affectionate, if not really cuddly, per se.  He'll plonk himself down on a lap by preference, or come and sit next to you on the sofa, but doesn't really ask for hugs, or even give any when requested.  Unfortunately for him, both his parents are inclined to hug him, so his life must be a bit fraught, as he wonders where the next affection attack is coming from.

I could go on and on, but I think I'll leave any other little stories for another post (ho ho ho).

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Time flies ... When you're pregnant AGAIN.

Didn't I say I wouldn't do this again?  Didn't I? Didn't I *specifically* write down the gruesome details of pregnancy so that they'd stick in my mind and prevent any stupid decisions of going down the path of bloated, nauseous, ginormousness ever EVER again??

Seems that I don't listen to me, either.

I'm at just about 15 weeks, and the sickness has mostly tailed off, so yay for that.  What really surprised me was the unexpected fertility of my body after four years of not wanting to know.  Seems like those weird round growths in the ovaries actually have a function after all.  Huh! Who'da thunk it?

Anyway, I'm not going to harp on about it too much, as this is my second pregnancy in the last 6 months, the previous one ending in a miscarriage at 12 weeks, which was an experience - and not one I'd really like to repeat.  Tomorrow I'm having an amniocentesis to make sure everything's ok - but to be honest, right now I'm just keen to have another look at the ultrasound and make sure that the little heartbeat is still going strong.

But the Monkey!  I really should write some updates, as without them I'm inclined to forget that the little fella IS actually making some progress!  I don't know how other parents feel, but at every stage in his life, I feel that it's been that way FOR-EV-AH, and it's going to stay that way FOR-EV-AH, and I do lose sight of the fact that he is inching his way to becoming (I hope!) a fully functioning human bean!

His language is really coming on.  I think he has excellent language comprehension (and no, I'm not boasting of any superior-for-age abilities - frankly, I have no idea of the language comprehension of other kids his age - but I'm just impressed by how much he does appear to understand without overt teaching).  He'll follow simple instructions, mostly when he feels like it:

  • "Pick up your cornflakes" (yes, because he likes to put things in containers)
  • "DON'T pull the cat's tail again!" (no, because .. because ..  just because)

His language production is certainly better than it was - we have moved away from "dah" as the single utterance, and we now have a few different ones.  The problem is that I think he has quite a sizeable spoken vocabulary now, but a very limited set of sounds and syllable structures, that we're almost back to the "dah" stage where I need a lot of context to understand what he's saying.  

I apologise here - I'm a linguistic nerd, so I'm going to be boringly pedantic at this point.   So - he only speaks in monosyllables, and the structure of those syllables is almost exclusively C (consonant) + V (vowel).  His consonants predominantly are [p t d k m n h w z ʔ], and his vowels [i e æ a u ə].

So, if he says [wa], it could mean "water" or "flower", depending.  If he says [pi], it could be "pea", "bee", "biscuit", or "bread".  You can understand that I might be a little nervous when he tries to hand me something while saying [pi]!   His strategy seems to be to take the first syllable of the word, and fit it to a CV structure with the sounds he has, regardless of the stress of the syllable - though I have noticed one recent change - "banana" has stopped being [bə], and started being [na], which suggests that syllable stress might be starting to play a part in his choice.  I've only heard a couple of words where he attempts a consonant at the end of the syllable:  "juice" (often [duz]), and words like "hat" and "heart" [hæʔ] or [haʔ].

Anyway, I have no idea why he has decided that a monosyllabic CV vocab is the way to go, but he has.  We try all sorts of implied correction: "[æ]!" he says, and "yes .. that's an APPLE", we say back.
He'll even imitate directly:
"Say 'a'"
"Say 'pul'"
"Say 'aPPLE'"

At some point, he's going to get multi-syllabic words, and you can bet I'm going to celebrate that day! :)

As to everything else not language related - he shows signs of taking after both his parents.  He loves the ipad, and he loves books.  He's quite shy when there are large groups of children, and tends to stand back and watch, waiting until the coast is clear before he'll have a go.  He doesn't often fight for possession of something - if another kiddie takes something he wants, he'll either watch them making triumphantly off with it with a slightly puzzled expression, or else (if he REALLY wants it), he'll come crying to me.  He's reasonably physically fearless (happy to climb up the slide), and doesn't startle too easily.  Because he's been at home with us all his life, he still gets anxious when either mum or dad leave, though he's been looked after at home by grandparents a few times, and seems to settle down quite well, as long as the parents are out of view.   I think he really thrives on routine as well - and we've been SOOOOO lucky with his sleeping, as he gets in bed awake, and has no trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep.  What a champ!

As to food ..  Well, he's probably no more picky than any other 18 month old.  He will eat almost any kind of fruit (though for some reason, he detests cherries, which is a shame, as they're particularly delicious this summer).  Bread, yes (plain, or with some kind of spread), salty biscuits & rice crackers (he would eat sweet biscuits no doubt, but he rarely gets the opportunity), cheese, milk, orange juice, meat (SUCH a little carnivore!), but not keen on many veggies.  Peas are a huge hit, and I give him some in a bowl as a snack, and he'll eat broccoli when liberally seasoned with garlic and anchovy.  Spinach (silverbeet) soup goes down a treat, but anything else is a bit of a battle.  He doesn't like carrot, corn, cucumber or capsicum.  Not a fan of tomato.  Had a brief flirtation with beetroot, but appears to have gone off it now.   Will eat things like pumpkin and sweet potato (and lentils, and a whole lot of other things actually), if mushed up in a curry-flavoured soup.   Which is what I make when a) I'm feeling that his veggie intake is a little low, and b) I don't feel like puking into the soup pot.  Which means he hasn't had a good veggie soup in months now.


Cheese makes everything better, right?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Banana is NOT a hair product.

So - for the first time in the Monkey's life, we've actually washed him down with a soap-based product (normally a washcloth and enough warm water produce the desired results).   You can probably guess the reason.

I suppose it was my fault.  I'd given the Monkey some banana to nosh on after his lunch, and at some point he got a tiny little piece stuck on his 'free' hand.  At one point he wiped this hand in his hair, and I said - stupidly, in retrospect - "Are you wiping banana in your hair?".  Well, he took that as a cue to apply the half-banana segment in his other hand to his head - as if it were an eraser, and his hair was a stubborn pencil-drawn thatch.  My reaction was somewhere between horror and amusement.  Yeah, I know, novice mother - because it was all that he was hoping for and more.  After that, every time he managed to catch my eye, the banana-head-rubbing was repeated with a huge grin.  Eventually I confiscated the fruit, as it became clear that it wasn't going to morph back into an edible product as far as he was concerned - and to be honest, as far as I was concerned either.

Banana is damn sticky, that's all I can say!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Hair Apparent

I've mentioned before that I'm not a fan of going to the hairdresser's. And I can quite happily ignore the state of my own hair for a fair while.  When it comes to the Monkey, however, I need to be a little more attentive.  After his brief spate of near baldness, he's developed a lovely thick mop - with some interesting characteristics all of its own.  He's inherited my tendency to have cowlicks - both front and back.  And added to that is his cool double-crown: one at the back in the normal place, and one at the front, a sort of mirror image of his cowlick.

Anyway, his hair grows reasonably fast, so in no time at all I'm faced with the neccesity of trimming it

I'm afraid I balk at taking him to a hairdresser for a couple of reasons.

1.  I'm too cheap.  I don't see the point in lashing out $20 (or whatever it costs) to have a stylist chop the Monkey's locks.  It's not like he'll get teased by 2 yr old bullies at playgroup or anything.

2. I don't think it's fair to inflict the Monkey's attitude to haircuts on an unsuspecting hairdresser (or any other salon patrons).  I think he may have inherited some of my dislike of the haircut experience, as he HOWLS during any haircuts I've been brave enough to give him.  I really think he's carrying on a bit unnecessarily - after all, it's not like I cut his ear OFF that last time.

So, I just do it myself.  The first time I tried was abysmal - I chased him around the room, trying to pin him between my knees while randomly snipping at his (dry) hair with - lets face it - probably rather blunt scissors.  The result was ...  interesting.  Avante garde, perhaps.  I decided that perhaps help was to be found online - as indeed it was.   Isn't the internet a wonderful resource?  It seems that noone was willing to show how to cut  the hair of a screaming and flailing unco-operative toddler, but I did pick up a few tips.

Pin them down in some way: high chair, person with baby on the lap, velcro suit and a patch of suitably fuzzy sofa.  It doesn't really matter, as long as you can access their head from all angles (unless you like mullets, in which case, feel free to pin them with their back against the wall, and also be prepared to pay for years of psychotherapy).

Distraction, distraction, distraction!  I use the television shamelessly - and morsels of honey toast, but whatever works for you - if they're paying more attention to the novel stimuli and less to the fact that there are interesting and sharp (hopefully) scissors within grabbing range, then you're doing well.

If your immobilisation plus distraction method winds up something like this:
then I'd suggest that you might perhaps want to tone it down a notch or two.  Just sayin'.

After this I guess it comes down to the cooperativeness of your victim, and your stylistic tendencies.   Even with maximal distraction, the Monkey is quite resistant to hair grooming.
There's a lot of vigorous head-waving - which, as you may appreciate, makes me a little loathe to approach closely with a sharp implement.

My strategy thus far has just been to grab a small hank of hair between my first two fingers, and apply the scissors to the bits of hair that stick out.  So generally, he gets the one-finger width haircut, though it's in no way consistent or even or any of the other things that you might expect if you were paying for a service.

But it IS shorter.

When he starts coming home from playgroup with nappy wedgies, I might reconsider my current MO.