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)