Tuesday, December 05, 2006


from Carolyn

Pete has recently started wanting his blanket with him when we get him out of his crib. And he's also gotten very invested in holding a single wet wipe. ("A one!" he calls it. "A one!" "A one!") So he often heads down in the morning or after his nap with a wipe in one hand and his blanket in the other (often draped around his shoulders so it won't trip him up). That leaves him with no hands free to negotiate the world. Yesterday he just sat looking at his cereal. I had to feed him a couple of bites. Finally he decided to put down the wipe to feed himself, but it took a while. The blanket makes some sense to me, but why does he want to hold the damp clammy wipe?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Giving Thanks

from Carolyn

I was putting a diaper on Pete after his bath tonight, and he burst into a little exposition on the subject of gratitude: "Home, yay! School yay! Thank you, thank you, thank you!" Oh, Sweety P! You're so welcome!

I tried to stump him last night by asking him where his tail was (while he was trying to hold Giddy's tail). He put both hands right on his backside, very matter-of-factly.

Friday, November 10, 2006


Carolyn is gone from yesterday to Sunday running a convention in Chicago. I've never been with Pete for so long on my own. Though I'm fighting through a minor illness, we had a good day yesterday, going through all the routines cheerfully. Then, reading the very last bedtime book, as I began to exult in having conquered the first day, Pete turned to me with an odd expression on his face. I think it was somewhere in the middle of the second wave of vomit that I realized that the theme of Friday and Saturday had fully shifted from "father-son bonding" to "limit-testing building of character."

(We saw the doctor. Having regained his appetite, Pete should be fine soon.)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Hawkeye of peace, and a floor show

Pete has been ridiculously happy this weekend, so much so that it's been hard to keep up with. This morning, we sat down in church, and he spent a minute checking out the silhouette of the dove of peace on the bulletin. Being the product of daycare in Iowa, he thought about it for a second, then pointed to it and yelled, "Hawkeye! Hawkeye!" On the way home from Iowa City, he said "Iowa Hawkeye." Note that he knows very few two-word phrases at the point--they don't go far beyond "big ball" and "big puppy"---so that's a remarkable development.

In the evening, in Iowa City (at Z'Marik's), Pete attracted the attention of a table of three female UI students. So he started waving. And screeching. And then spinning in circles, grinning, until he fell down from dizziness. Then dancing, in full groove. Then alternating among those activities and absolutely refusing to be removed from his little self-decreed stage in front of their table. This contined for a good while until the students finally left. As I said, a happiness so extreme it's tough to manage.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Take that, Eve!

Last night, Pete ate a whole apple. As in peel to core--the WHOLE apple. Less than a year ago, a tiny corner of an apple-flavored baby puff made him throw up because he couldn't handle such a big bite.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Summer photos

Here are updated Pete pictures, with scads of new ones from the summer.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Studio 916: The Art of Peter Simpson

From Pete:

I'd like my blog readers to know that instead of posting occasionally about my art here, I now put that material up at Studio 916: The Art of Peter Simpson.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Language acquisition runs hot and cold

From Carolyn:

Pete has been saying "hot," and making attempts at blowing on his food when we put it in front of him. We thought he was clearly a genius. Until this morning when he took a bite of his cereal and (cold) milk and insisted it was "hot."

He has been coming to grips with the concept "two." Often he says "two" when he sees two of any one thing: two cats, two birds, two cups. And although he occasionally says "two" when staring into a bowl full of dozens of pieces of Kashi, he has seemed to reserve the term for things that are actually in pairs.

Last night he blew us away by saying "two towels!" when I showed up with, in fact, two towels to wrap him up after his bath. This was the first time he had linked "two" with a plural noun. However, he then proceeded to say "two towels" when he saw the two cats together, two bugs on the wall, and two feet in one of his books. It's so hard to understand what he thinks some of his words or phrases mean.

He also said "two" and pressed the number "2" on a toy keyboard last night. I was ready to call the local news to proclaim the discovery of prodigy RIGHT IN OUR MIDST, and then he said "two" and pressed lots of other keys. Woah, Mama. Take it easy over there.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Dancing fool

We went to a fantastic dinner put on by Grinnell's International Students Organization--great food, lovely atmosphere. Pete was especially fond of tortilla soup and sweet potato pie, but he sampled a bunch of things. And THEN! There was world music playing, mostly dance-oriented stuff with a heavy beat, and Pete started dancing with his little friends Emma and Bea and Shivani, occasionally joined by Timo. The girls and Pete were all dancing like crazy, in Pete's case well beyond anything we'd seen before--jumping and waving and squealing and grooving. For a long time!--at least half an hour. All this was punctuated by occasional sprints around the gym where the event was happening. (We are grateful for the tolerance and sidestepping of everyone in the kids' path.) Pete's giddiness persisted until bedtime. He should sleep well tonight.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A limited adventure; pet sounds

From Carolyn:

Taking Pete out to CERA today didn't go as I'd hoped. He was scared of the forest and refused to walk on the mown path, wanting to be carried instead. He's heavy enough that there's no way I would be able to take a real walk carrying him, so we sat in the path for a while, and then went back to the car, where he played with the buttons and levers in the front seat for about an hour. I enjoyed standing outside the car, feeling the breeze, basking in the sun, trying to blot out the noise from I-80.

Pete started imitating the cats today. He's been saying "Ca[t]" for quite a while, but as with most other animals, he has chosen only one way to refer to them. (He only uses sign language to refer to birds, only uses a moooing sound to refer to cows.) But one of the cats meowed today, and Pete imitated it quite well. His cat noises are very accurate (no stereotyped "Meow"), and we've been getting a kick out of asking him to remind us what cats say. I only wish the cats were more vocal so we'd get more impressions.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Storytelling; eating like a big boy

I haven't provided any Pete updates in a while. Here are a few tidbits:

* Pete has started telling stories. He doesn't have the vocabulary to do this in English, so he does it in Pete, with all the cadences of sentences. We can usually tell what story he's telling because he punctuates each one with sound effects or reenactments of recent events. The first one we noticed involved talking about the time, a few minutes previously, when he had fallen off the chair. He started the story, then pointed to the chair, then made a little falling motion, then gave his analysis. He also likes to tell The Time I Saw a Volleyball Game and The Time We Went to the Scary Car Wash But It Was OK in the End.

* Pete now refuses to be strapped into a high chair or booster seat, and he doesn't like using baby plates and utencils. Most of the time, he's eating more or less like we do: he has Cheerios and milk in a glass bowl in the morning, drinks out of an uncovered cup, and so on. It is hard to believe that a year ago, he couldn't hold down the tiniest bit of a banana puff for babies. Now he sometimes eats more of the same food than I do at a meal.

* Pete's favorite activities suddenly include sitting in the driver's seat of the car with the keys--he knows how to put the correct key in the ignition, which is alarming--and going potty. We weren't thinking of potty training him yet, but a couple of weeks ago, he started insisting ("insisting" is now a hard verb to avoid) on sitting on the big toilet without a diaper, so we got him a training seat. Now he LOVES sitting on that and hates getting into a diaper. Usually, nothing, ah, emerges, but he has once peed right into the training seat. Good lad! Two or three times, he has peed near the training seat, which, it turns out, is less fun for us than his producing no pee at all.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Martial Arts for Babies

From Carolyn

We all got sick yesterday. Pete's problem seemed to be duplicating what he had last month, so this morning we took Pete to the emergency room, which, as far as we can tell, is what we're supposed to do when Pete's doctor's office is closed. Erik drove to Newton to get prescriptions filled. But now Pete seems much better, so we're considering holding off drugs until tomorrow, and maybe even waiting until Tuesday, when we can call his real doctor and ask for advice.

While Erik's nose was roughing it out against the grindstone this afternoon, Pete and I went to the Aikido demonstration. I wasn't sure if Pete would sit still for it, but he was great. (He called out "Boom!" once when someone hit the mat and made his train whistle sound/sign when a train passed, but other than that he watched quietly.) There was good turnout (I thought). I wish we could have stayed to see some of the practice that followed, but Pete wanted to go out in the hallway and yell "BALL" about 50 times while looking at the trophy cabinets.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Bedside manner

From Carolyn:

When I put Pete to bed every night, we have a series of little rituals: big hugs, forehead kisses, handshakes, high-fives, sticking out our lower lips at each other. When we go through this ritual, he is standing up in his crib, often holding on to the horizontal bar of the side of the crib. I've been kissing the backs of both his hands as they grip the bar, but recently he has started raising up his hands to me, one by one, to be kissed, like a lady offering her hand to be kissed. I got him to to offer his hand to Erik this morning so he could see how cute and silly it is.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Who is the drooler and who the droolee?

From Carolyn:

Pete and I spent yesterday afternoon in City Park in Iowa City, playing in and around a small amusement park there. Pete particularly liked the train ride. We went on it twice, and both times he sat perfectly contentedly through the whole ride. There were lots of kids and dogs to interact with.

We approach dogs cautiously, asking the owners if we can come and pet their animals. (More accurately, I approach dogs carefully, while holding back Pete, who would lunge headlong at them, if left to his own devices.) One dog was being walked by a young teenager. He was enthusiastic about kids petting his dog and had her lie down so Pete and another little child could approach. The dog licked Pete all over, which Pete loved. But when Pete leaned over to hug the dog, he drooled a little on the dog's back. The young owner got quite upset--very offended that Pete had drooled on the dog. "She doesn't mind, but I don't think it's right!" Whoops! I apologized a couple of times and we made a quick exit

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Like a big boy

Pete has suddenly become much more independent in a lot of ways. He will now grab a book, wriggle himself onto a chair or couch, sit up, and "read" it, turning pages and commenting on the pictures. He has also sworn off riding in his stroller on our walks near our house; he wants to push rather than ride, and he almost always pushes to the street (he likes going over the curb and back), so today, we just left the stroller at home, and things went pretty well. When I think how recent his first step was, I can't believe how quickly his relationship to the world has changed.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Listening to Stevie Wonder, if you know what I mean

I mentioned that Pete had started to like the Stevie Wonder song "Supersitition." For a while, we could convince him to go along with a diaper change by conflating the changing table experience with listening to Superstition, which was cued up on the stereo in the nursery. Noting the need for a new diaper, we would say, "Hey, Pete! Do you want to go listen to Stevie Wonder?"

Perhaps you see where this is going. "Listening to Stevie Wonder" is now an established euphemism for the process that leads babies to diaper changes, as in, "I just have to listen to Stevie Wonder, and then I'll be ready to go."

Sadly, due to the diaper rash caused by a stomach bug, listening to Stevie Wonder is now horribly painful for Pete. It's hard to watch, like the kidney stone episode of Deadwood.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

With emphasis

Notes from two alums, Erin and Elena, suggested that they always think of Pete's name with an exclamation point at the end: Pete! This made me realize that we do indeed, almost always, address Pete as Pete! As in,

Hello, Pete!
Good job, Pete!
Pete! Do you see the tractor?
That's right, Pete! Gentle! Gentle with the cats!

And so forth until

Good night, Pete!

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Dialogue from today:

Erik: Pete, can you say "octopus"?
Pete: op-ti!
Erik: Yes, octopus!
Carolyn: Pete, you say "octopus" like a pro.
Erik [aside to Carolyn]: Not really. More like a summer leaguer. He actually says it worse than almost anyone I know.
Carolyn [aside to Erik]: To be fair, we haven't heard a lot of the people we know say "octopus." Some of them might have a problem with it.
Erik [aside to Carolyn]: They'd have to say it really badly.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Shaking with excitement

From Carolyn:

Saturday morning, I bought Pete a very cute book about a young cat who has to go to the doctor because he has hurt his tail. He's apprehensive about the doctor, but everything goes well, and at the end of the appointment, the doctor says to him, "Shake," and he responds "Shake." The illustration shows them shaking hands. Pete seemed to be following the story more than he does with most books, and tonight, when I read that page, Pete stuck his right hand out in the air and shook it up and down. People have shook his hands before, but he's never really seemed to get it. And now suddenly, he gets it. He got up from my lap, turned towards me, and held out his right hand to shake hands several times.

So we ran up and showed Papa, and came back down and read the page several more times, and then throughout the evening he or one of us would hold out our hands and instigate shaking. Finally, as I was putting him in his crib, he and I were switching between shaking hands and giving kisses and giving hugs. Then he looked down at his hands, paused for a moment, and then gently shook his own hand.

Oh, my God, he is so adorable.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Jumbo things, such as dogs and trons

We've been busy. We had a busy but lovely trip to Milwaukee to see my brother's family and have our annual reunion with some of my college friends. We saw a bit of Summerfest and a thriller of a Reds-Brewers game on July 3rd, during which Pete pounded down most of a stadium dog and made the Jumbotron during the seventh-inning stretch. It's a busy work time for Carolyn and me, in different ways, but the weather is helping us have a little fun with summer as it all goes along.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

We don't like admitting we frequent this place, but ...

From Carolyn:

After a trip to the zoo in Des Moines, we took Pete to Jordan Creek Mall, which has completely won me over by having the best baby/family care bathroom facilities I have ever seen. They also have a play area for kids--a slightly-depressed circle in the middle of the mall with a spongy floor and lots of structures kids can climb on and over. Pete loved being here. I was trying to work on my dissertation in the food court, but Erik reported that Pete got more and more tired there until he was repeatedly falling down with clumsy exhaustion. Finally he gave up and just lay on the ground, giggling.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Superstitious Pete

Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" was already one of my favorite pop songs, but this version, performed on Sesame Street, is even better than the standard. It lets you hear and sometimes see the way the band is building up the riffs behind Stevie (some planned, some not), and just when you think it's over, there's an astounding, vamping sort of shout chorus*. Incredible, in the same way as are the best extended versions on James Brown's live albums.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Spring and Easter photos

Here are the Petey pix from the Spring, including Easter in Davenport with both sides of his family.

Pete Art #7

Pete art mommy.jpg
Originally uploaded by Childe_Erik.
Greeting Card
Peter Simpson, 2005- [and studio]
Mixed media

This piece echoes the use of pre-fabricated children's heart stickers in Valentine. Here the stickers attach a found object to the work: a four-line, jingling poem seemingly narrated by a small child to its "Mommy." The hue of the handprint varies, its lighter shades suggesting the simple pink of the child's card hinted at in the poem, its darker shades approaching the color of blood. The babyish innocence of the handprint is belied by the grotesque dislocation of the thumb and by the eight-foot height of the hand in the displayed piece, a signal that the "hands [that] were once so tiny" have expanded colossally and unexpectedly out of control.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Under the Table

From Carolyn--

Pete's new favorite place in the house is under the dining room table. He likes to go there to be chased and caught and tickled and kissed. You can tell he's heading under the table because he gets over-excited: breathing audibly and crowing with anticipation. He puts up a pretense of hurrying to get away, but he so clearly can't wait for me to catch up to him. The time I will spend under the dining room table in 2006 will far surpass the time I have spent there in previous years.

Monday, May 15, 2006


From Carolyn--

Pete was tired after daycare today, and he kept making a sound like a small, high-pitched, grumpy wookie.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Parental expectations

I think, on the whole, I do a pretty good job of limiting my vicarious ambitions for my son. I'll let him do what he wants to do. But I have to say, it would be awfully cool if he could learn to do this. Or this. But the choice between the two is his alone.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Anthropological linguistics

It's been interesting to see ways in which Pete's language acquisition takes unexpected turns. Last week, he was bending his head sideways whenever we read a book's page that said, "A train runs across this track." It took us a while to figure out that he was hearing "track" and "neck" (of another book's "bend my neck") as the same word. He separates them now. And sometimes his metonymies are strikingly clear: he saw the big wooden cross at church and immediately made his sign for "fan," and as soon as he learned a sign for "train," he explored how well it worked for other big wheeled things such as trucks. And he started calling me "baba" (for "papa") a while ago. When he figured out that he could use "baba" to mean himself ("baby"), that meaning took over. Forget papa! But now, there's a fascinating confusion between the meanings. For instance, if he's downstairs with Carolyn and hears me upstairs, he'll listen, point to himself, and say, "baba?" I've heard that other male babies use the same name for themselves and their fathers, too, even when the same isn't so similar to "baby." Hmm.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


From Carolyn--

Pete kisses! Best Baby Ever.

He's been making kissing sounds in the appropriate places in a song he likes that involves a baby being kissed, but this evening he started making kissing noises out of the blue, and when I made one back, he leaned in and kissed me! (Well, smashed his lips against my mouth sort of awkwardly, but intentionally and very fondly.) It's the greatest thing. And when I put him into his crib right now, he was back at it. Kiss, kiss, kiss. I may never go to work again.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Train sounds

Did you know that your brain makes repetitive sounds appear quieter if you don't attach emotional significance to them, louder if you do? When we moved to Grinnell almost five years ago, I couldn't believe how loud the train horns were. I didn't care about them one way or the other, though, so they started to sound softer and softer until I almost never noticed them at all. Now, Pete is obsessed with trains, and I think that's great, so if I hear one approaching, I'll try to scoop him up and go see it. And quite suddenly, the horns have gotten dramatically louder. The brain just fries my chicken.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Pete Art #6

Pete art wax.jpg
Originally uploaded by Childe_Erik.
Peter Simpson, 2005-
Wax on wood fiber

This piece, unfortunately, does not translate to digital media as well as some of the others because it is primarily an exploration of texture, of the different strokes produced by varying applications of colored wax on pressed wood fibers. Seen in person, this piece is one of my most topographical works.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Pete Art #5

Pete art blue green.jpg
Originally uploaded by Childe_Erik.
Blue in Green
Peter Simpson, 2005-
Watercolor on wood fiber

The title of this piece is, of course, an homage to the legendary Miles Davis album, and I had in mind particularly Bill Evans's piano solo on the title track. The chromatics of the piece evoke grass and water, and the form hints at the figure of an animal. The style attempts to echo Evans's spare elegance, and the wrinkled canvas in the top right quadrant of the piece suggests one of the tone clusters Evans deploys so artfully.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Silly circles

Over the weekend, Pete learned from his month-older cousin Blake 1) the sign for "bird" (thumb and forefinger in repeated pinching motion)--there was a great moment when two birds flew close by and the two babies looked up and did the bird sign together, 2) the ritual of "silly circles," or spinning around in one's living room, and 3) the sound a monkey makes. Blake learned "uh-oh" from Pete. Both kids start with what they know, so Pete's monkey sounds a lot like his uh-oh so far, and Blake has a chimp-like uh-oh.

Now that he can walk, Pete is bonkers about going outside. He picks up a coat or keys or his sunhat, walks to the door, and says, "bye-bye." He didn't like the hat until he figured out that he only wears it on walks. Now he puts it on himself to push us to take him exploring.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Crash, Bang, Boom

From Carolyn--

Pete's favorite book at the moment is one that is just a lot of different noises. It's one I loved when I was little, called Crash, Bang, Boom. My mother hated it, so she thinks I'm getting my commupance having to read it over and over. Pete is also fond of Noisy Barn which involves lots of animal noises. And he now sticks out his tongue when we open a book consisting of baby photos to a page with a baby sticking his tongue out. He then looks to make sure I'm sticking out my tongue, too.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Little man on campus

From Carolyn--

Pete and I have been taking advantage of the amazing weather and taking walks on campus in the early evenings. Erik and I started doing this over break (when it was finally warm enough), but campus was pretty desolate. Pete is loving seeing people and exploring. He's oddly obsessed with the Harris Center (including the disco balls hanging from the ceiling of the concert hall) and game for any flight of stairs that he can find. If you're out playing wiffle ball or catch and hear a little voice saying "ba[ll]?? ba[ll]?? ba[ll]??" over and over, it's probably Pete.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Pete Art #4

Pete art hearts.jpg
Originally uploaded by Childe_Erik.
Peter Simpson, 2005-
Mixed media

My first mixed media piece using an opaque background, Valentine creates two literal and metaphorical levels. Slightly above the surface, a loose triangle of naturalistic postage-like stamps intersects with a rough circle of mass-produced stickers like those given to schoolchildren on holidays. These geometric forms are linked by the pure, bright red that creates its own circle of the six leftmost stickers. The machine-made precision of that layer contrasts with the similar but muted coloring and abstract forms of the canvas layer, inviting the viewer to consider the two layers' interrelationships.

Assuming a position

From Carolyn--

We've been reading to Pete a lot recently. He has an insanely cute way of turning the pages and then folding his little hands together in his lap to listen to us read what comes next.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Pete Art #3

Pete art clouds.jpg
Originally uploaded by Childe_Erik.
Peter Simpson, 2005-
Natural and synthetic materials

This piece, a companion to Raindrops (see Pete Art #2 below), creates a different kind of tension between tradition and postmodernity. Here the clouds of the title appear as something like cotton balls, reminding the viewer not only of the hackneyed metaphor of cottony clouds but also of the common use of cotton balls to represent clouds in children's crafts. The piece jars the image away from conventionality by encasing that substance in a flexible plastic that reveals the tension created by the pressure of the clouds within.

Monday, March 27, 2006


This evening, I was giving Pete his bath, as usual, and we were looking at his favorite bathtime book. (Pete now has strong opinions about books, bathtime and otherwise.) It's an alphabet book, with big capital letters accompanied by illustrations--a queen for Q, a rabbit for R, and so on. As Pete turns pages, I look for illustrations that lend themselves to sounds and read along, as in "Snake! SSSSSSS!" or "Lion! RARRRR!" (If anybody knows sounds to make for, say, queen or giraffe or rabbit, drop me a line.) For a while, Pete has looked at the last page, found the ball of yarn for Y, and said, "Ba!" which is not surprising, since ball has been his best word for a while. (For a few days, he would look at that page, say ball, and point to the xylophone. Happily, he sorted that one out.) Tonight, he added a new trick: he looked at L and made a growly little "AAAAAAA" sound. I didn't catch on at first, but he did it again the next time, and I got it: he was roaring! He was, in fact, making his very first animal sound! It is a wonderfully unintimidating little baby roar.

I must note that this development is grossly unfair. Carolyn and I read many of the same books to Pete, but we each have our specialties, and one of Carolyn's strengths is animal sounds; some of the books produce magnificent, convincing, fast-paced animal jamborees. (As they tend to be farm-themed, these books seldom include lions, though it would be fun to do the sounds of terrified antelopes and cowering chickens.) There's no way my very ordinary nightly roar should have prompted Pete's first imitation.

Pete's vocabulary to date:

Hi (the original, seldom used now)
Papa (baba--not nearly as solid as mama, but coming along)
More (in sign language or as "moi," both if he's really hungry)
Ball (ba)
Roar (aaaaaa)
Uh-oh (formerly meaning "oops, I dropped something," but now more like "ha, I threw it down," or even--just today--"just so you know, I'm going to throw this down")

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Pete Art #2

Pete art raindrops.jpg
Originally uploaded by Childe_Erik.
Peter Simpson, 2005-
Watercolor on wood fiber

Though abstract and monochromatic, this piece claims a place in the tradition of naturalistic painting in its title and the organicism of its patterns. More specifically, the appearance of dabbing the paint directly on the canvas recalls pointilist technique, here taken to an extreme that capitalizes on the dramatic effect of the empty canvas between the two painted areas.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Pete Art #1

Pete art bite.jpg
Originally uploaded by Childe_Erik.
Pete Simpson here. I've decided to begin posting comments about my art, which I have been creating for public display for a few months now. This was my first professional piece.

Peter Simpson, 2005-
Watercolor on wood fiber

The main field of composition in this piece is understated, subtle almost to the point of fading into a blank canvas. The light marks in the middle of the piece, made with only a brush of the fingertip, evoke gentle human contact. That gentleness makes the bitten tear on the edge fiber more startling in its suggestion of unmeaning violence. Boundary unsettles the viewer with the suggestion that threats lurk at the edge of even the most reassuring human moments.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Art bitten

Today, Pete moves up a room in daycare, to the land of one-year-olds who can walk. It might be a little bit of a shock for him, but he knows the teacher in the room, and every day he'll get time in the gym that involves throwing balls and is therefore a wonder. We hope for a smooth transition.


After descending into utter despair when we dropped him off, Pete seems to have had a good first day in his new room. When we picked him up (after his primary teacher had left), we found with his other things a piece of gray construction paper. Upon closer inspection, we discovered a number of barely perceptible pink smudges in a kind of random blast pattern and a much clearer mark left by a baby-sized bite out of one edge. At last, we read the listing of the day's activities: Fingerprint Birds! Of course! Genius baby.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Return of Pete

From Carolyn--

Pete got quite sick at school today--fever as high as 102.7. He's so different when he's sick--so passive and glazed. All he wanted to do was sit and watch the basketball on TV. (By which I mean he wanted to watch the ball itself whenever it was shown on the screen.) And then in a matter of minutes around 7:30 tonight his fever must have broken and he clicked back in to being his old self. (By which I mean that he wanted to toddle around and throw his own ball about 250 times.) A small miracle: our own Pete returned to us.

Friday, March 10, 2006


From Carolyn--

Forget balls. Now Pete is obsessed with noses. Or, more specifically, with nostrils. First he tries to stick one index finger up our nostrils, and then he tries to stick the other index finger up our nostrils. There's an odd urge for balance that I haven't noticed with other activities. We're currently trying to discourage him, but could we get this all out of his system with one exhaustive explorative session? Or would it just fuel his passions and lead to a life of obsessive nose picking? Parenting is stressful in unexpected ways.

At any rate, I am currently trying to skip the pages in his "First Words" book that deal with body parts, including noses.

I have started spelling a few words in front of Pete to keep him from wanting "P-U-F-F-S" (tasty star-shaped puffed corn baby snacks) or "M-O-R-E," which at certain times is a synonym for "P-U-F-F-S." "N-O-S-E" is also now on this list.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Pete unendeared

From Carolyn--

Has Erik mentioned that Pete is obsessed with balls? "Ba" is Pete's most-said word, he loves throwing balls, and he is getting better and better at it. Today, when Erik was holding him, he was doing a great job of throwing a small rubber ball bounce-pass fashion me, six feet away. Suddenly he caught sight of our cat Kirby, off to the side, and squealed as he does whenever he sees one of the cats. Before we realized what he was doing, he threw the ball hard at Kirby--a direct hit. Just one more way Pete has found to un-endear himself to poor K-man. We were torn between disapproval and pride at Pete's accuracy and strength.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Step one

Whoa! First step! As reported earlier, Pete has been standing up pretty solidly, and sometimes he has appeared to think about walking. This evening, we set him down in front of us to practice standing, as we have many times, and boom! That little right foot popped forward and set itself down again. He fell on his little bum almost immediately, of course. Then he did the same thing two more times. Waddya know--I guess that's the last of the big firsts, isn't it?

Oh, and Pete's vocabulary has now expanded to four words, with "uh-oh!" (after he drops something, usually on purpose) joining hi, ba[ll], and mama.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Pete now says "ba" for "ball"--and also "mama." The usage is imperfect in both cases, but he gets them right often enough that I'm willing to say he has a three-word vocabulary of varying reliability. He's also getting really close to taking that first step.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Useless flippers

From Carolyn--

This I miss: Do you know those little wind-up toys that move around if you put them in water? Do you know how silly they look if you put them on the floor and let them unwind there instead, flippers flapping uselessly? When Pete used to get really exited, he'd collapse on the floor on his stomach and kick his legs and pump his arms over and over, just like those toys. Now that he's able to stand up, he really doesn't do it any more. He still gets excited, but he shows it in different ways.

However, he does now occasionally give big sloppy open-mouthed un-puckering kisses, which are pretty great.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

New sets of photos

Here are the Petey pix including his first Christmas, first big trip east, and first birthday. Again, I recommend the "view as slideshow" function.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Happy birthday, Pete!

Happy birthday to Pete! The big oh-one! We explained to him this morning how he amazes us with all the things he can do now, and also, by contrast, what an utterly incompetent human he was a year ago. Man, you couldn't even eat right! Fortunatly, Pete has a wonderful sense of humor.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Pete says hi.

First word! First word! At Saints Rest this afternoon, Pete started saying "hi" to people, in the right context, with a little wave. He kept it up through the evening, greeting [cjacobso], her dad, me, my mom on the phone, his new rocking horse. For the almost-year he's been alive, I've probably asked him "Can you say [x]?" thousands of times, always rhetorically. "Can you say amphibious? Can you say Oscar Peterson trio?" Tonight, I said, "Can you say hi?" And he looked at me, gave me that little wave and a smile, and said, "Hi!" Wonderful boy.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Pete hits the road

Since that last update on December 22nd, we've taken our first big trip east (an annual winter event before last year) with Pete. Two and a half weeks and 2,800 miles later, we're back, enjoying getting used to our house again, and trying to catch up on a lot of things at once--including notes to some people who might be reading this. Soon!

Pete has gone through one of his phases of hyperdevelopment. When we left, he couldn't climb a stair; now, he can climb a flight. (Only up--he's eager to go down head-first, so we have to work on that.) When we left, he was eating prepared baby food and some training puffs, perhaps with a Cheerio here and there; now, we can hand him a hunk of bagel, and he'll cheerfully pick away at it on his own. When we left, he was babbling but seemed not to have the sound of words yet; now, a set of words--prominently "mama," "baba" (bye-bye), and "light"--are contending to be the first that he definitively and exclusively connects to their referents. He stands himself up with ease and releases his grip for quick moments without falling. If someone playfully falls from a sitting position, he falls too, and laughs. It's a whole new world for the whole new year, with a first birthday approaching in less than two weeks.

One great trip moment: we walked outside of our hotel building in Allentown, PA to get some breakfast. We were surprised by a sunny morning (rare on the trip) and a big flock of Canada geese making its way across the sky above us in a series of groups. We directed Pete's attention upwards, not knowing whether he could see or would notice the squawking birds, but he did--he pointed up, tracked groups of them, grinned, and squeaked himself, making a sound generally reserved for sightings of cats and dogs. Sky puppies! Every morning should start so well.