Wednesday, December 05, 2007

In retrospect, it seems a turning point in the primary campaign

Pete and Barack gave each other some (disputed) type of "five." They discussed a "high five" in the seconds before it occurred, Pete then offered what I'd call a "low five." Obama, after returning with an appropriate reciprocal gesture, referred to the interaction as a "soft five," and Pete referred to it this morning as a "small five."

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Knowing your station in life

Something put Pete in mind of Space Shuttles this morning. After
noting the shuttles' salient features--wings, huge nose--he paused and
declared, "I'll be astronaut." Carolyn immediately pointed
out the wisdom of this ambition: space exploration is probably the most
prestigious profession that allows, and even requires, the wearing of

Friday, November 30, 2007

When parents overestimate their children's readiness for public events

from Carolyn

Whoops. The first note of a percussion ensemble concert tonight did Pete in. He then inserted his own solo during the otherwise deep silence: "I want to goooooo!" Sorry about that, percussionists.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

No connection with the voters, no nomination

from Carolyn

The phone rang last night, and it was a recorded message from Chris Dodd. Pete ran over, clammering to talk on the phone. So I handed him the receiver, saying, "It's Chris Dodd." Using one of his most friendly voices, Pete said, "Hi, Chris Dog!" Then a pause. Then, again very engaging, "Hi, Chris Dog!" Then a quizzical look at me, since Chris Dog wasn't pausing in his monologue to say Hi back.

Friday, November 09, 2007


Pete's favorite number has long been five. He insists that he has
five grandparents, for instance, and this evening he wanted to go to
five restaurants for dinner. He recently decided in the singing of
"Take Me Out to the Ballgame"--a frequent event here--that it
is, in fact, FIVE strikes you're out at the old ball game. I think we
have a healthy sense of the value of imagination over undue literalism,
but come on! Three strikes. Three. Carolyn is with me on this

Let me tell you a tale of the upper Midwest ...

Pete has started to love "stories,"
whether established (we can struggle through a passable Goldilocks or
Three Little Pigs) or made up. I've been using a formula I think I got
from Adam Gopnik's brilliant essay "The Rookie" (about
telling stories to his son): make the main character like the kid and
throw a bunch of obstacles in for drama. Every evening, Little Petey
Fish tries to make it up a stream to find a sandwich (obstacles: log
and rapids, overcome by alliances with frog and salmon, respectively).
Or, in a Carolyn creation, Pete gets a family of ducks off a runway
using duck food from the zoo, thus rescuing a family vacation. Pete
loves this stuff, to the extent that stories even capture his attention
and calm him when he's really upset about something (e.g., having to
get out of the bath). Last week, Carolyn told me she had asked Pete
to tell his own story, but he just named a bunch of things from our
stories--the ducks and so on. Said Carolyn, in totally unironic
disappointment, "It was completely derivative." Little Petey
Fish meets a tough crowd!

During Carolyn's current absence, Pete understands perfectly that
Carolyn is in a place called Cleveland "running a
convention"--a phrase he has allowed me not to explain very
thoroughly. I hope this week doesn't give him a lasting,
little-understood aversion to northern Ohio.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Lit theory moment: language fills the gap left by the absent mother

Carolyn is running her convention in Cleveland until Sunday. Night
one of solo parenting is in the books with only a little crying from
Pete. He's gotten very good at saying "Cleveland."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Love and candy

This was Pete's first real Hallowe'en--the first time he was able
to anticipate the event, to know what he was going to be, to leave the

He was Tigger. We got a great costume from a consignment store in
Davenport. Pete loved the idea and had been willing to roar and bounce
for weeks. When I picked him up from school yesterday, he was all set
to get into the holiday mood.

Then, a setback. We wanted to have a quick dinner before heading
out, but Pete was unwilling to eat. This would be normal for many
preschoolers, but it's very strange for him. It was the first sign
that he was uncertain about the whole business. But all went well when
first trick-or-treater--the older daughter of the family next
door--arrived at our house dressed as Carmen (as in Bizet). Pete came
with us to talk to her and seemed to like doing so.

Then, a big setback. The younger neighbor girl, Ryn, arrived in a
ghost mask. Nothing fancy, but Pete was truly spooked. He hopped into
my arms and hung on HARD. Fortunately, Ryn is very sweet and was in no
hurry, so she stayed for a few minutes, mask off, and talked to Pete.
Pete seemed able to separate his fear of the mask from his affection
for Ryn--he cheerfully waved and said, "Bye, Ryn!" between
bouts of cowering--but he wasn't getting over the fright anytime soon.

Back to dinner, with Pete now uncertain about the whole costume
business. The highlight of this time was not directly Hallowe'eny.
Pete and I were sitting at the table.

Pete: Mama's a sgurrial.
Erik: Mama's a squirrel?
Pete: Mama's a guirrel.
Erik: Mama's a girl?
Pete: Uh-huh! I love girls!

This is an instance of Pete's very recent tendency to declare his
loves. As far as I know, the first such declaration came last weekend
in Kansas City, during one of Pete's rare exposure's to cable TV--in
this case, the Food Network.

Pete: What's her name?
Erik, seeing Rachel Ray on the screen: That's Rachel.
Pete: I love her!

Talk about screen presence. No wonder Rachel Ray is a very wealthy

Anyway, we eventually coaxed Pete into the Tigger costume because
his fear of other costumes was temporarily conquered by his hope that
he himself would be scary.

We went around the neighborhood trick-or-treating, a process that
consisted mostly of our carrying a mildly anxious Pete to the doors of
people we knew. Another child in a mask caused another mild panic, but
everything went pretty well overall, and Pete gained confidence as he
went along. At most places, he was willing to bounce (like Tigger) or
roar or say "trick or treat"--sometimes before, sometimes
after lunging for the candy bowl. He did pretty well with saying thank
you and being generally sweet.

After trick-or-treating, it was clear that we had to work through
the frights. Pete talked about the scary masks many times, and then,
in his bath, he pretended to put on a scary mask himself. We would act
properly scared, then he would take it off, and we would express our
relief that the scary creature was just Pete. He repeated this perhaps
a dozen times.

By morning, however, the masks had largely faded from memory. Pete
is now, emphatically, all about the candy.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

See how much you like it after the first stomach flu, kiddo.

from Carolyn

We're grandparents! Pete announced to me tonight that he had a baby, and proceeded to cup his hands together around what I gather is a very small baby. He then said, "I put her to bed," and disappeared into his room, turned off the light, and came back to me, hands at his side. "I threw her into bed. [pause] I missed." But he then went and retrieved the baby and gave no indication that she was hurt at all. I asked what her name was, and he wrinkled up his nose, as he does when he's thinking hard. Then his face opened back up with a smile and he said, deliberately, "My . . . Baby." A little later, he went to bed with no trouble, since his baby was there, and seemed to appreciate the little towel I gave him to cover her up. He seems to be adapting to parenthood a lot more smoothly than I did.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Would that all these moments were the reassuring kind

It's a cliche of parenting: parents are first horrified to hear something their child said and then experience a second horror when they realize that their child is just parroting back something that they themselves have said. Luckily, the same type of realization can happen with something really nice:

Pete: Can I have more cereal, please, Mama?
[I put more cereal in his bowl.]
Pete: Thank you! That's awfully nice of you!

I was first really happy about his manners (which aren't always quite that good), and then I realized that I could hear "That's awfully nice of you" in my own voice. It's good to have moments of reassurance that we're doing some things right. As Pete might say, Good job, MamaPapa!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The very special kitchen implement and other stories

from Carolyn

Last night Pete, out of the blue, started jumping on big pillows and hooting [the name of our friend, biology professor] "Jackie Brown! Jackie Brown!" Then he looked at me like he'd had a big revelation and said, "I'm Jackie Brown!" and went back to jumping and hooting.

He's been having trouble getting to sleep this week, and last night he seemed stuck in a bad place--cranky, wanting Erik to come and fly his planes around his crib, thinking he was wet when he wasn't. I decided he needed something to kick him out of the mental bog he was in, so I grabbed a small whisk from the kitchen and brought it up to him. I explained that it was a whisk and that he was going to be in charge of it for the night. I left him marveling at the shape of it, and that was the last we heard from him. Oh, thank you, whisk.

This morning:
Pete [flying a toy airplane around his crib]: Look, mama! Airplane!
Me: Yes!
Pete: There are people on the plane!
Me: Yes!
Pete [suddenly serious, as if he were correcting me]: *Pretend* people, Mama.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Seriously, you could just snap his nose off at any moment

from Carolyn

When Pete really really wants something, and wants you to know he's really serious about his request, he'll come over and in a low voice state his request very firmly right into your mouth. It's sort of the equivalent of getting in someone's face and looking right in their eyes, except several inches lower. Sometimes he holds your cheeks in his hands to make sure he has your attention. Although such moments are very serious to Pete, they always make me laugh. In part because they tickle.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Blog updaKA-BEEP!

Recently, Pete has reached the point of altering the routines he
has mastered to create jokes. For instance, if we ask him a language
question to which he knows the answer, he will often replace part or
all of the answer with "ka-BEEP." So if we ask him the color
of a purple car, he'll say "Purpaka-BEEP" and laugh. And
after learning how to steer one of his cars along the sidewalk when we
push him, he now sometimes steers it suddenly into the grass to shake
things up, again with much laughter.

What they ARE!

Within the standard big developments--picking up language and
movement and such--we see the oddest little developments. A few weeks
ago, Pete started asking about things he saw by saying waving his hands
excitedly, drawing his breath in sharply, and saying "Oooh! What
HAPPENED what they ARE?" The same phrasing would apply for
singular or plural referents, and often remarkably unexciting ones--for
one of many examples, we were walking downtown and had this exchange:

Pete: Oooh! What HAPPENED what they ARE?
Erik: Well, that's a door.

This kind of conversation happened all the time for about ten days,
and poof, no more.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Preparation for The Waste Land

from Carolyn

Pete Takes after His Parents:

Pete is obsessed with his first literary allusion. It's the framed picture on the wall in Goodnight Moon that reproduces in black and white a colorful illustration from Runaway Bunny. He holds both books in his lap, both open to the correct pages, and looks back and forth. He wouldn't hand them over, last night, and I left him in his crib, in a room too dark for him to really see the illustrations, still marveling at seeing a picture long-familiar in once context (the oft-read Goodnight Moon, newly discovered in another (the more-recently-added-to-our-collection Runaway Bunny).

Speaking of Goodnight Moon, Pete is obsessed with the "old lady whispering hush." When I used to read this book to him every night, he never noticed her. But now that we're reading it regularly again, she's the main focus for him. When we're looking at the pages where she doesn't appear, he always (ALWAYS) asks where she is. In some cases, where the picture depicts the room in such a way that she is simply out of the range of the illustration, I point to a place off of the page where she would appear if the illustration were larger. He's started to do that, too. But he's still unnerved about where she is when the book begins (and her chair is vacant) and ends (when it is vacant again). We talk about how she's probably doing the dishes at the end (since that's what I do after I put Pete to bed), and he'll sometimes suggest that's where she is, but I don't think he's convinced. Her comings and goings really seems to puzzle him. Goodnight nobody, indeed.

I think I should write an essay about all the disturbing things about the books we read to Pete. Like Harold and the Purple Crayon. Being and Nothingness for the toddler set is what that is.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I'm just axing!

In today's raised eyebrow category:

Pete's been testing the limits of being aggressive. He knows he's not supposed to hit, but when he's upset at us, he'll form a little fist and press it against, say, one of our arms, with a little push. He'll see if he can get away with that, and then try pushing a little harder, or pressing a little more suddenly. What is hitting, what isn't?

So the other day, he was doing this with (to?) me, and I said: "No, Pete. We don't hit."

He responded: "I not hit. [pause] I drum. [pause] With my ax."

More like it

from Carolyn

Making up for all the axing, Pete, for the first time completely unbidden, said, "I love you, Mama."

Friday, August 17, 2007

Also the phrase "rigor mortis"

from Carolyn

Pete [pointing to a cemetery we're driving past]: Was dat, Mama?

Me [flustered]: Um. It's where people go to remember loved ones.


Erik [dryly]: Way to avoid the word "mouldering."

Sunday, August 05, 2007

How fetching

Pete and Erik this morning--

Erik: Hey, Pete. I'm going upstairs to get my shoes. Do you want to come with me, or do you want to stay here and play with your cars?

Pete: I get them. I be right back.

Erik (confused--this hasn't happened before): You want to come with me?

Pete (starting up the stairs): You stay here.

Erik: OK. I want the brown ones, all right?

(Pause of about three minutes, punctuated by clunking and clomping upstairs. Pete slowly makes his way back down the stairs, carrying two of Carolyn's white sneakers, which do look like my white sneakers, by his fingers in one hand.)

Pete (on the stairs): I be careful. I have fingers in them!

Erik: Good job!

Pete (at the bottom, handing the shoes to me): Here you go! I did it by self!

Sometimes the most interesting milestones are the ones we never knew to seek.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Scene: friendly conference with Pete's daycare teacher, Stephanie. Erik and Carolyn ask how she organizes lunchtime so we can reinforce the class's little rituals. Stephanie describes how she encourages kids to try everything on their plates before she gives seconds of anything.

Erik: And how does Pete do with that? Does he do all right with fruits and vegetables?

(Stephanie's eyes grow wide.)

Stephanie: Oh. (beat) Pete eats EVERYTHING.

Note the difference between a casual "Oh, Pete eats everything!" and this. It was an expression of a kind of mildly frightened wonder, one I immediately recognized from the comments of previous teachers. And from descriptions of a number of Pete's relatives on both sides.

Monday, July 16, 2007


Pete, on Carolyn's recent placement of some blueberries in his cereal: "Great job!"

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sometimes a cigar . . .

Scene: dining table, lunchtime.

(Pete begins making little waves with his hand and arms.)

Erik: Pete, is that the tuna fish? (referring to a song he knows)
Pete: No.

(Pete switches to a more overhand wave motion.)

Erik: Oh, are you swimming?
Pete: No.


Erik: What are you doing?
Pete: I'm moving my hand!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Changing the old ways

From Carolyn

For years, Erik and I have quoted Trading Places to each other to indicate that we're ready (to eat, to hit the road, to move on to the next thing): "Looking good, Billy Ray" "Feeling good, Louis." We had finished packing up the car to head to the zoo on Sunday, and I was helping Pete get into his car seat. Without thinking about it, I started in: "Looking good, Billy Ray," to which Pete responded (a la his recent response to Erik about his nickname "kitten), "I not Billy Ray. I Pete." True, true.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I not kitten. I blog post.

Pete made a big transition a couple of days ago. He and I had been in the car for a while, and when I got out, I said, "Hey, here we are, kitten!" (That was one of our first nicknames for him when he was born.) He responded, "I not kitten. I Pete."

Monday, June 11, 2007

Baseball and then some baseball, please

Pete has become utterly obsessed with baseball. He has been mildly interested in baseball for a long time, but something clicked when I got a new toddler-sized wiffle ball set for him. We started playing with it about a week ago, and to my surprise, he picked up the basics right away. He started out missing most pitches, and he still misses a lot, but he makes a lot of contact now, and he can handle overhand pitching. He lined a ball at my head yesterday, hard enough to make me flinch. The entertaining parts of this are two:

1) The sheer intensity of his love for hitting. Now when we're at home, every little while, the idea of hitting will come to him, and he begins a relentless campaign: "Hit some baseballs? Hit some baseballs? Hit some baseballs?" He'll make his way to the front door, desperately trying to entice us outside: "Hit some baseballs?" This morning, during one of these episodes, Carolyn said, "Oh, Pete, can you give me a little kiss?" Pete walked to her, put his face up to hers, put a little hand on each of her cheeks, inclined his head slightly to the side, and said, "Hit some baseballs?"

2) Out of nowhere, Pete has made the shift from wanting to play sports to wanting to imitate sports mannerisms, which is much funnier. Jackie Brown's kids taught him to run after he hits a ball; after seeing the Cedar Rapids Kernels play on Friday, he added the step of tossing his bat away with a flourish. The Kernels also seem to have taught him the art of tapping his bat on the outside of the plate before each pitch--Pete now gives his favorite anthill a few gentle whacks. And when we watched the French Open final on Sunday, Pete started swinging his indoor (foam) bat like a tennis racquet and doing Rafael Nadal grunts with each pitch. If you see him and ask him "What does Nadal say?" he'll give you a great little "Ah!"

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A hoot

from Carolyn

We saw what I think was a small screech owl on campus yesterday, in the loggia between Clark and Dibble. We were walking through with Pete on our way to Mac Field, and it was just sitting about five feet up on a small pedestal in a corner. It was very exciting to see. ("I scared owl," Pete admitted, although he gave several excited hoots and has retold the story of seeing the owl many times since. I'm starting to think that when Pete says he's scared of something, he really means he's struck by it.) When we passed through again on our way home, the owl had moved to a bike wheel not far from where we had first seen it. Other birds in the area were making a big racket in nearby branches. Maybe because they were unnerved by the owl?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Pete defines the sublime

from Carolyn

We've been walking on campus with Pete most evenings, and we regularly stop in the art gallery in the JRC. We're big fans of the work in there right now (which is part of the draw), but I'm also curious about Pete's reaction, which, every day, is "I scared [of] art." He doesn't really act scared and I can't tell what would be scaring him. I keep hoping he'll elaborate.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


from Carolyn

Pete is occasionally hitting shots (into his kid-sized basketball hoop in our livingroom) from about 13 feet. I'm still probably a better shot than he is, but I'm guessing that will change before he turns 4. Maybe even before he turns 3. It may depend on how much I practice this summer.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The song begins.

Pete started singing a couple of days ago, completely out of the blue. I've written before about how sudden these developments are. This time, he went from having never sung a note of the alphabet song to singing almost all of it on his own in two days. This video--a dark and grainy one, alas--captures the transition from passive to active ABCs.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Little blessing

from Carolyn

Pete has developed an occasional timidity (toward big dogs, high slides, sudden noises). As he puts it, when he's apprehensive, "I scary."

Adjectives of scale are still really important to Pete. He's emphatically invested in how big or small things are. Last night, when he was supposed to be sleeping, he sneezed a couple of times. I was in the room with him and so I said, quietly, "Bless you, Pete." His response was to say, in the little high-pitched voice he reserves for small things, "Tiny bless you!"

Friday, March 30, 2007

Big! Airplane!

Here is my YouTube debut. I'm disappointed to discover how much the compression degrades the video quality--it looks vastly better on my computer--but it certainly captures Pete's enthusiastic little self. Before we had a child, I would wonder why people ever ate at certain restaurants, the loud places with mediocre food at prices that would buy you more interesting fare in a quieter setting elsewhere. The answer: because at the loud places, nobody cares when your child mangles his cheeseburger while shouting at the window. This video will show you what I mean. And let me emphasize that you're seeing one continuous shot, the only one I filmed. It's a representative sample.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


We got back yesterday from a trip to the DC area to visit friends and family on both sides.

The theme of the trip turned out to be aviation. Not only did we fly with Pete for the first time since he began to understand what airplanes are, but we also went to the new suburban annex of the Air and Space Museum, the downtown air and space museum, and then back to the suburban one! And just when we thought we weren't doing anything related to flying, we went to dinner with my cousin's family in Arlington and found ourselves right under the takeoff route from National. Now Pete regularly tells stories of seeing the Space Shuttle ("huge, huge, huge nose!"), the cool spy plane ("huge, black airplane"), the upside-down airplane, the airplane with teeth, missiles, and the Story of a Flight, with some mix of these components: "Big airplane! Here it goes! Take off! In the sky! Landing!" He had an amazing stamina of excitement for watching takeoffs; the hundredth one occasioned the same enthusiasm as the first. I got a great little video of his commentary that I'll share when I find the right cord to get it off of my camcorder.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Weekend of sick

from Carolyn

We've spent the weekend caring for a Pete who was sicker than I've ever seen him. I haven't left the house since I picked up him early from daycare on Friday, where he had already thrown up once.

Is it awful to admit that Saturday held some real pleasures, even in the midst of Pete being sick? He had a temp all day (104 at the peak) and threw up whenever he tried to eat anything. His only demand, really, was that he get to stay downstairs with us, and so we spent most of the day taking turns cuddling with him on the couch while he dozed and slept. We got to doze and sleep, too, which was heavenly. He's not usually very cuddly, so this was a treat of sorts. We watched a lot of basketball, and I read an entire book, which is unheard of in the era of Pete. When he was an infant and spent a lot of time in my arms, I was suffering from awful pains in my hands and wrists (an unusual syndrome that occasionally plagues nursing mothers), so I couldn't hold a book. But yesterday he was so worn out all day that I could read without him noticing. It was kind of great.

The one very strange thing about this whole episode is that he started adding "eeee" to certain words. "No" became "No-eee" and, similarly, "juice" became "ju-eeese." "Pooh" became "Pooh-eee." "No-eee" in his small little sick voice is pretty heart melting.

Today the fever was gone, but the vomiting continued. And the crankiness began. He still wanted to be held, but couldn't get comfortable, so was unhappy most of the day. Having a throwing-up two-year old is so much better than a throwing-up pre-1-year old, though. 1) the all-milk diet of a little one makes for a unique sort of nastiness. 2) two-year-old Pete is great at throwing up into a container, even when he's not happy about throwing up. "No-eee," he says over and over.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Ice storm!

Yesterday's was the second major ice storm I've seen--the first was a legendary storm in Virginia and elsewhere in 1994. This one was much more localized but much more damaging. We were without power from about noon yesterday until early this morning, and four or five large branches fell on our little property, including one that tore off the side mirror of what Pete calls Papa car. We were very lucky compared to a lot of people, including our next-door neighbors, who have at least a dozen large branches down, some of them huge, and some damage to their fences and perhaps also their deck. We were also very lucky in that we got our heat back overnight when radio reports were warning the outage would take "not hours but days." I walked two blocks last night and saw dozens and dozens of downed branches and a couple of power lines. The amazing thing about ice storms is that the damage is all about having the perfect temperatures for making ice accumulate on surfaces, so they can be ordinary-seeming winter storms, slow and fairly calm. It's like getting hit by a train that has almost stopped. It doesn't look like much, but you don't want to be hit by a train.

We had to get seriously creative about playing with Pete. We were well and truly stuck in our house. Two of the day's highlights:

1. In the morning (before the outage), we persuaded Pete to wear a bib when he refused by putting one on a doll of Shakespeare (a gift to Pete from one of our friends). Background information: Pete's big fabric model of Thomas the Tank Engine was folded flat on the couch.

Erik: Pete, do you want the blue bib?
Pete: No!
Carolyn (knowing this had worked before): OK, we'll have Shakespeare wear the blue bib. (Puts blue bib on Shakespeare, sets Shakespeare on another seat at the table.) Would you like the green bib?
Pete (hesitantly, eyeing Shakespeare): No.
C: Would you like the blue bib?
P: Uh-huh.
(C moves the bib from Shakespeare to Pete.)
(Pete looks at his cereal, thinks. Gets down and walks to the other chair.)
P: Shake speare seepy.
E: Shakespeare's sleepy?
P: Uh-huh.
(Pete takes Shakespeare to the couch.)
P: Move train.
(Pete tosses Thomas to the floor and gently sets the Bard, face down, on the couch.)
P: Shake speare seepy.
(Pete heads back to the table to eat his Kix.)

2. After learning volleyball hits earlier in the week (he now has spotty setting skills and an uncannily good bump technique), Pete turned his attention to baseball yesterday. He started out wanting us to pitch to him--underhand, with puffy balls aimed at where he usually swing--and later in the day decided to pitch to us. He's very good at the step-and-throw pitching motion, and yesterday he decided to extend that to many steps. As you recall, we were inside for many hours, so this had time to develop into its culmination. Carolyn or I would stand with a bat (a toddler maraca) by our front door, with Pete about five feet away. He would consider throwing the ball, then decide to get a head start and run with his quick toddler steps to the adjoining living room. (We have a small house with the kitchen gated off, so this is all the space he has to work with.) Stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp (circling around the dinner table and then getting louder) stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp THROW!

And the pitch would come in from about four feet away, very fast and completely unhittable at that distance. Pete would collapse, laughing, then pick up the ball and start again. Stomp stomp stomp ...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

On being overtaken

from Carolyn

For the first time ever, Pete expressed a strong opinion about what clothes he wore this morning. That's why he headed off to school with his Thomas the tank engine pajama top over his blue shirt and crazy striped socks that didn't match anything.

Actually, Pete would point out, as he did to me last night, that his pajama top has pictures of Thomas AND Percy. Where did he learn to distinguish between the two? I hadn't noticed that there were two differently colored trains on the article of clothing, and although I have a general sense that Thomas's friends are different sizes and colors, I wouldn't have been able to identify that Percy was Thomas-sized and red. I've learned a lot from Pete over the (two) years, and he has pointed out a lot to me that I would not have noticed on my own, but this might be the first time that he's concretely known more about a topic than I have.

I still know more letters of the alphabet than he does, though, so he'd better not get too high and mighty.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Pete becomes a toddler

I haven't written much about Pete lately, so as the Super Bowl winds down, I'll try to capture some of what it's been like to watch him pass his second birthday and careen into full-fledged toddlerhood.

We've been struck by how Pete develops in streaks and bursts. For example, he was a little slow to pick up his numbers; he had gotten pretty good at identifying two of something, and he had become fond of five ("Pie!") as a word for more than two. He had said three only sporadically and almost never four. Furthermore, he had never counted, even to two. Last Sunday, we all came downstairs in the morning, and Pete was standing in the kitchen as Carolyn prepared the coffee that would fuel the day. Pete looked around, then, as Carolyn put the scoops of coffee in the filter, said with complete authority, "One! Two! Three! Four! Five!" Or, phonetically, "One! Choo! Fwee! Fo-or! Pie!" And he squealed and clapped and laughed until he fell on his butt.

He's still shaky with three and four, and he still likes shooting balls at his hoop more than counting them--these developments have been complicated and cyclical, but the initial gains can be flashes of lighting. Just as he passed that tipping point from not counting to counting in a night, he later did a somersault out of the blue and began without warning to catch thrown balls; the kid who wouldn't leave our grasp in a swimming pool eight months ago wanted immediately to climb the ladder and jump in by himself this winter. In the last few weeks, Pete has gone from identifying no letters to naming about half the capitals most of the time.

I say these things not to brag about Pete but to wonder at toddlerhood: this is the stuff kids learn at Pete's age, but I find myself endlessly amazed by the way the process plays out, and my favorite part is how--as in the counting breakthrough--Pete takes such joy in the new things he can do.

Oh, a random bit of fun from the last week: Pete continues to love music--playing it as he can (mostly drums and kazoo), listening, watching videos, whatever. Becuase Carolyn's dad plays banjo, that is one of Pete's favorite instruments, so I found him this vidoe of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. As we watched it together after breakfast a few days ago, Pete started holding his nose and saying, "oooo." Over and over. After watching this for a minute I realized what was happening: Pete was playing harmonica! So we learned that word and looked for other harmonica videos. Excellent.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Quiz question

Though he doesn't get to do it much, Pete likes to watch TV. Though he knows the words for most things he likes that much, he doesn't know the word "TV." He does, however, have a set word for the TV that makes a lot of sense. My guess is that nobody on Plans would have used this word for the TV at Pete's age. What word is it?

(answer coming)


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Pete for THREE!

Pete now hoots "For three!" when he hits one from downtown. He also calls out "Yay, Papa!" or "Almost, Papa" (or "Yay, Pete! and "Almost, Pete!") as appropriate. I think "Almost!" is one of my favorite Pete expressions: he doesn't get down about a ball not going into the basket, he just celebrates its closeness to the basket.

He's also starting to string words together, often when he wants something. He was doing it a lot today: "Mama? Ball? Shoot?" when he wanted me to play, too. "Pete? Out? Snow?"

Monday, January 22, 2007

Tunney, tunney, tunney

From Carolyn

Pete turned two on Saturday. And he will answer you correctly if you ask him how old he is.

He's finally learning colors, or at least learning to tease us by insisting that everything green is blue. He can be quite crafty.

However, I think his repeated proud statements about his "big cup," in which he consistently replaced the final "p" with a "k" sound, were actually innocently spoken.

He traveled very well on our adventures out east, remembering how to sleep in the car and being game for new places to sleep many nights. The saddest moment, though, came the night after we drove through Pennsylvania. Pete loved driving through the tunnels along the Pennsylvania turnpike, and was very sad each time we headed out into the sunlight and left the tunnel behind. He woke up that night crying. Sometimes when he cries at night he's just fussing, but sometimes he's crying for some specific thing. If we can hear him say what he wants--water or his blanket, for instance--we'll go in and give it to him. That night, though, we heard him wimpering "Tunney, tunney, tunney." It took us a few seconds to figure out that he wanted tunnels, something we were unable to provide on the spot.