Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Have I mentioned that D is something of a baseball addict? For Christmas, he asked for a certain collection of old baseball game footage, and he has been happily plowing through watching the various games since then. The boyos, of course, are fascinated by TV, and specifically by anything on TV that Daddy will actually sit down and watch, since Daddy isn't much of a TV watcher in general.

Tonight, as D was attempting to load the baseball DVD into the player and then get the electronics cabinet door shut without trapping any of 20 questing little fingers (an aerobic activity all by itself!), Sam suddenly started saying, "Beezball! Beeeeezbawww! Beez! Baaww! Beezball!" (Sometimes the "ll" in "baseball" makes an appearance, sometimes not.)

I thought D was going to bust something, he swelled up with so much pride! His boy! Saying "baseball!" At 21 months!

Of course, when Sam saw what a reaction he got from Daddy, he said it all night after that. It was pretty funny, and just got funnier every time he said it. You know, we wouldn't want to forget we were watching a baseball game or anything .... Baseball? The devil you say! Why, I thought that was curling! Thanks for the update, Sam!

I thought Gus might also pick up "beezball" right away, since they often do that with each other, but although we coaxed him, he wasn't quite ready to commit himself. However, when I had Gus on the changing table this evening, I asked him, "Who likes baseball?" And without any prompting at all, he shot back, "Dada!"

Seems like our boys know the score! (All right, I hear those groans out there. Sorry, couldn't resist!)

To make up for it, I'll include this shot of our boys being rambunctious little pills ... and on the strength of that, wish everyone a Happy 2009!

Pee! Pee!

This will be a short one since I MUST get to bed, but I have to record what Sam showed me this morning. I got them an adorable little book called "GALLOP" for Christmas (well, two copies, one of which resides in the closet until the other one gets torn up), which shows "moving" horses and dogs and such when you turn the pages. This morning Sam pointed at the "p" in "gallop" and crowed, "Pee! Pee!" I was floored. They're only 21 months old -- are they supposed to notice things like that? I checked him two or three times with other p's in the book, and yes, he knows what a p looks like. Well, ya know (scratching my head in wonderment since this forty-six-year-old mum didn't learn the alphabet until the freakin' first week of first grade) -- who knew?

Of course, Gus had to get in on the action, since Sam was getting attention, and he showed me the "A" in "gallop" and said, "Eh! Eh!" With a little coaxing then, both of them pointed at the "o" and informed me that it was indeed an "o."

Oh yes, and last night Sam showed me on their little toy piano that the opening note of "Baa Baa Black Sheep" (as played in this household, anyway) is a "C." I asked him to play the song, and he couldn't play the whole thing, but he hit first the middle C, then the C below that, then the C above. No fiddling around with notes in between, just the octaves. Which really, I found rather astounding all by itself. Gus is the one who wants to sing along with their "Trebellina" DVD, but I think Sam is the one who is paying attention to the music lessons! (It's funny -- although there are exceptions, singers are notoriously poor musicians as such. Perhaps we have one singer here and one good musician. Or, maybe just two kids who like to fool around with music a little.)

Oh, and their vocabularies are progressing by leaps and bounds. We were practicing drinking water tonight after dinner (if they get soaked, I will change their clothes for bed anyway), and with a little prompting, Sam actually lisped, "Mooooorrre ... preeeee...." (aka "more please"). I would not have expected any of this six weeks ago. And they pick words up at the drop of a hat. It's a good thing I have mostly quit cussin' now!

On the downside, Gus is quite determined never, ever to fall asleep in his own crib again. This causes difficulties, as one might imagine. I can't do the "cry it out" thing (even if I could stomach it) since the boys share a room. If I remove Gus from their room, well, then it's no longer "cryng it out" since what he wants is to leave the room! But it seems unfair to subject Sam to up to an hour of brother's wailing (not to mention it eventually makes Sam cry too, and then I have TWO crying toddlers with healthy lungs and a determination to be heard in Philadelphia, which makes ME want to cry!). I've thought about moving Gus's crib into our office and letting him cry it out there, but (a) it's not his room, which is the whole point, and (b) I think they will shortly learn how to climb out of their cribs, and our office is decidedly NOT babyproofed. And I don't have time to babyproof it at the moment.

So what is happening now is that Sam goes straight to bed, but Gus goes into the pac n' play in the living room, there to "read" his books and listen to soft music until he eventually gives it up oh, maybe half an hour later -- or more -- during which time the living room is Off Limits and Adult Time has gone out the window. And then when he does fall asleep, I have to transfer him to bed, and he has to be 28 pounds now.

So this is doable, but hardly ideal. Any suggestions on how to deal with this that do not involve "cryng it out"? I'd love to hear them!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Good day, Moon!

We are up to our ears around here in board-type baby books. Oh, and up to our hip-waders in partial baby books -- that used to be part of whole baby books -- and bits and pieces of various women's clothing catalogs and crystal catalogs and flower seed catalogs that have been "loved to death" by our eager first readers. If it has a picture of any sort on it, Gus and Sam are all over it. Frequently, a silence will descend and I'll go tearing from the kitchen into the living room to see if the kiddos have escaped down the hall or even (who knows!) out the front door or something -- only to find the boys sitting down quietly with books or catalogs in hand. The fact that they can't actually read yet certainly hasn't deterred them. They observe that big people read, so therefore, so do they!

We also read to them quite a bit -- several books a day. (Since each book typically takes five or ten minutes to read, it's not that big a deal.) I've noticed lately that many of these children's books feature the moon, and we have ended up talking a little bit about the moon to them. But neither D nor I had done anything like take them out into the back yard and point it out to them.

As it turns out, it's not necessary to point out the moon to Sam and Gus -- because they pointed it out to us! Yesterday I saddled up the boys with their adorable little T*rget teddy bear backpack/harnesses and took them for a walk over the acre in back of our house. We were making slow progress (listen, with one of them tugging in each direction at all times, you can bet it's slow progress!), when suddenly Sam pointed up at the sky and shouted, "Moo! Moo!"

Yup. Sam was pointing straight at the half-moon, visible in the blue afternoon sky. Gus looked up and then also pointed at the moon, chanting along with Sam, "Mmmmmmmoooooo! Mmmmmooooo!" (Gus needs a bit of a run-up to get the "m" sound out of his mouth. I need not tell you how adorable that is, though it does elongate our conversations a bit.) Then just for variety, Gus pointed at a crow winging its way past and gave a very passable, and loud, imitation of a crow's caw.

I was really kind of astounded. How on earth did they make the leap of cognition that the little stick drawing in their children's books meant that white thing up in the sky? I told D about it when he got home yesterday and he flat-out didn't believe me until he took the boys out separately and tested them. Yes, at nearly 21 months, they can indeed identify the moon on command. Kind of cool!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Uh, doo, three, dubeejin

Sam first learned to "count" back in late June while my dad was here, and of course Gus followed right behind. At that time the boyos had a little toy elephant that once had "talked," but they pulled the string a little too enthusiastically and all conversation with the elephant ceased. However, the string still hung out enticingly, and Sam in particular loved to grab this thing by the string and swing it around his head like a medieval morningstar, or else whack things on the ground with it (are there polo-playing genes in our background?).

But then Grandpa showed Sam a better trick. My dad would lean forward and hold it out in a confidential manner. He'd swing it by the string and count, "One, two, three!" At "three," he would throw it up about a foot in the air so that it spun two or three times, and then catch it again. Sam and Gus would cackle in amazed wonderment like a gaggle of little guinea hens, and rush forward trying to be first to grab the amazing flying, counting elephant! Sam usually won the scramble, since he was more aggressive than Gus at that time, and he was first to pick up on the tossing and counting: "Doo, doo, dee!"

I was all excited at the time, thinking he was really learning to count. But I should have known better. "Doo, doo, dee!" was about as far as they got with the elephant (which since has disappeared -- I think perhaps it fell into the litterbox and met with an untimely displacement into the garbage). Both Gus and Sam have since learned to "count" on their fingers, or they will "count" birds eating on our porch, or really any damned thing that comes in multiples. But I don't think there's any real concept of counting -- only that you are supposed to point at things and make certain prescribed sounds. (Gus's preferred sounds at the moment resemble Japanese a little: "Doe, doe, doe, doe, dojo!")

But today, Sam made a breakthrough -- well, maybe. At least it sounded better. I have noticed before that often right after their naps, they are quite chatty. Today I had Sam up on the changing table after his nap, and he was fooling around with a string of four plastic pop beads while I changed his diaper. Suddenly I heard, "Uh, doo, three, ssnrgle!"

Okay, I don't know what the last sound was. Something vague. But "three" was clear as a bell! My head popped up and I said, "Sam, what did you say?" He said calmly, "Doe, three! Three!"

Of course, then everything was "three!" for the rest of the afternoon, which put paid to the idea that he thought it had any meaning. But still ... you know, really, at this point I'll accept anything that sounds like a real word! I'm not particular any more! And Sam can now say "three!"

In the boys' defense, they've had a bit of a word breakthrough in the last few days. Suddenly, they are rushing up to me with their (five million) board books, jamming them into my leg or my tush, and pointing emphantically at something in the book: "Cat! Dog! Baby! Dada!" they tell me. "Mama! Ba ba! Dog, dog! Woof woof!" Sam startled me a few days ago by stabbing his finger at one porcine cartoon by Sandra Boynton and announcing, "Pig! Pig!" Yup, it was a pig, though I had never heard him say it before that, and he has taken every opportunity since to point out pigs. He can even identify Dr. Seuss's pigs, which look more like a mangy pink camel. I never knew there were so many pigs around. They show up in children's lit right and left. I hope this adoration for pigs wanes a bit as time goes on, or there will be precious little bacon eaten here as they grow older!

Perhaps the cutest thing they do, though, is word substitution. There are some words they just can't or won't say, so sign language (all their own) comes into play. A flower (or plant of any kind) is a "sniff sniff" -- finger held up to the nose as if holding a flower, and a quick sniff. I even find myself answering them, "Yes, that's a sniff sniff," instead of sayng flower. They've also developed a cute thing for "elephant," where they lift their little arms to their faces and flip their hands at the wrist, and do a tiny little elephant trumpet. Gus does a fair imitation of the sound, but it's Sam who really kills me. Gus has kind of a raucous voice, but Sam has a soft little voice that is so gentle and sweet that it cracks me up every time when he attempts to trumpet like an elephant. It would have to be a very, very tiny elephant.