Saturday, April 25, 2009

Smiley's Baby Communication

My wife and I use mostly speaking but also some ASL when communicating with Smiley. Yesterday he added a fifth word to his spoken vocabulary. Today he invented two gestures.

From November to February he used only one gesture: raising one arm straight with an open, flat hand. This could mean all sorts of things: "I want to be picked up", "Look at me", "Follow me", "I'm so big", or even "I want milk" (the last because he was thinking of our sign for milk but not squeezing his fingers).

(Using only one hand for "I want up" is unusual. But he spent a lot of time those months in a baby corral, so one hand was often busy supporting him standing against it.)

In late February he began to sign "finished" but did so in a doubly-confused manner. First, he used a single clap rather than moving his hands apart. Second, he understood it to mean "help me with the next thing I want" which could mean he was finished in his high chair but also could mean "next food, please" or "help me with what I am trying to do".

On March 9th he began to "steer" us when we carried him by reaching in the direction he wanted to go. On March 13th he began to wave goodbye more consistently.

In late March he began to sign "up" but again did so almost unintelligibly: he touches his fingertips together, which is actually the sign for "more".

A few times he has signed "food", but not recently. He has been teething for weeks now, which causes him to touch his mouth so much that it caused this sign to fall from use.

His first two words besides "Ma" and "Da" were "in" (started Feb 4th, regularly by Feb. 26th) and "down" (March 5th). (Mamama and Dadada he still reserves for babbling. When he refers to us it is usually one syllable.)

Yesterday he added "up", saying it both when being picked up and when scooting up the cobblestone slope in the back yard. Apparently prepositions come most easily to him. (He might have said "sand" on March 2nd but it was vague.)

Today he invented three gestures.

Both times he was ready for a nap he told me by going to his stuffed animal rabbit and hugging it as he does when going to bed. I asked him if he wanted a bottle, and he giggled, which is his way of answering affirmatively.

When he was ready for dinner he crawled over to me and pretended to pick things out of my palm and put them into his mouth. I asked him if he wanted food, and he again giggled "yes".

He has played with the aspirator before, but today he gestured that he wanted it used by alternately touching its tip to his nose and touching a tissue to his nose.

UPDATE: A week later he continues to use his stuffed animal rabbit to communicate wanting a nap, but has not reused his invented sign for food. Happily, he no longer has need of the aspirator so I cannot say if he would reuse that gesture.

Video Victory

I'm all caught up with Smiley videos!

The final 24 are batch uploading to BlipTV. They might not be properly sorted chronologically until late tomorrow.

Next, the photographs! Or perhaps blogging about the videos, so I can provide the context for what is happening in them.

Goodnight, Nellie

In Goodnight, Gorilla the zookeeper is named Joe.

The book has an amazing amount of hidden detail. For example, look for the travels of the floating balloon and examine the framed photograph's in the hallway in Joe's house.

But it appears that Joe's wife, despite being a major character, is never given a name.

So my wife decided that Joe's wife is named Nellie. Now everyone knows.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Three Videos, Two Milestones

Three new and current videos today!

First, sorry for so little blogging this past week. Smiley has been sick all week. He probably caught it at his doctor appointment last Thursday, or mine the day after.

But today he is feeling a bit better.

For months he has known about noses, and my wife and I say "beep" when he touches our noses. Earlier in April he also learned about eyes and ears. This morning he reliably identified eyes and nose on stuffed animals for the first time.

(Most exciting about this video is the context. He was identifying his bunny's eyes early in the morning. Later in the morning the aspirator was needed, and it became a fun thing instead of a bravely endured trauma. I have no idea why. But to reinforce that change we were playing at using it on his stuffed animal dog, Cerebus. A few minutes later the video was recorded.)

Smiley also learned how to climb onto the green chair in early April. This is where I read to him and give him a bottle before bedtime. He wanted to climb onto it to get to the pacifiers we keep beside it on his toy chest. Now, when he is tired, he has no trouble climbing up to get a pacifier. But today he not only took a pacifier but also one of the blue schmatas he holds while falling asleep, and sat in the green chair instead of climbing down. Seeing this, I asked if he wanted a book. He giggled, which is his normal way of saying yes. I gave him his favorite book, Good Night, Gorilla, and he proceeded to rehearse going to bed.

The third of today's video is not about a developmental milestone, just a small situaitonal victory. For weeks he has been wanting to play with the tulips but was not allowed. Today the tulips started losing their petals, so he was given some to play with. It turns out they are not amazing entertaining after all. I'm not sure which of us was more disappointed.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Gypsy Moth Update

The spraying I mentioned two months ago is now only eight days away (wind conditions permitting). The official website has been updated.

According to Wikipedia, if spraying does not work the city could next try dumping large numbers of deer mice by helicopter. I have not read the Redwall books to know how mice paratroopers would work out. Doing a Google search for "Redwall Paratrooper" only leads to the interesting life of Chang Tung Sheng.

Monday, April 20, 2009

For a Walk

Today Smiley went not just on a walk with me but for a walk. He rode his scooter and I skateboarded.

He had ridden his scooter a lot in the house, in the back yard, at my my and my wife's workplaces, and in the nearby Safeway. This was the first time he went along the sidewalk. He did very well, scooting along a from the corner at the bottom of our hill all the way to the corner one long block west, and back.

Since today is sunny many neighbors were outside. We got to meet them, which was nice. Two had a dog with them, which was even more exciting. Smiley likes dogs a lot.

I did not take a camera or the Flip, but I'm sure we'll do this again soon.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Outdoor Scooter and Slide

Five weeks ago Smiley discovered the big play structure at the local elementary school. For comparison's sake, here are two videos taken yesterday at that playground.

In the first, he is so eager after several rainy days with no playground visits that he goes too fast and gets frightened (but not hurt). In the second he has regained his caution and goes more slowly.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Scooting Then and Now

After a few busy and/or exhausting days I am trying to catch up on video editing.

I just edited and uploaded another video of Smiley's first day on his scooter (Feb. 11th). To document the scooting expertise he has gained, I recorded him playing with it today.

The second video is unusually long. He had not been on the scooter in four days (it had been downstairs) and was having such fun I recorded for 15 minutes. Hopefully this will in part make up for my lack of recent video posting!

UPDATE: Two days later he learned a new trick. Now he can scoot up the ramp at our back deck.

One Year Checkup

Yesterday Smiley had his one year doctor's appointment.

He has grown since last time. Now he is 29.5 inches tall (40th percentile), he weighs 19 pounds, 13 ounces (10th percentile), and his head size is 47.7 cm (85th percentile). Two weeks ago he weighed a few ounces more but the recent teething has cut his appetite.

We did get the doctor's okay to up his dosage of baby Tylenol from 0.8 to 1.2 mL, which should help him when teething is bad.

Today he can start on whole cow's milk. We'll incrementally add a little to his sippy cups and bedtime bottles.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Paul's Guidelines for Pagan Things

Today I received a phone call from someone worried about how to celebrate Easter with his church, considering that some Easter traditions have pagan origins.

I referred him to Paul's three guidelines from First Corinthians 10, which are discussed within an old P'nei Adonai essay about Christmas.

Related is the old P'nei Adonai essay about Purim, since that holiday's traditions are also taken from Zagmuk.

Paul is not nearly so freaked out by traditions with Pagan origins as many people I know.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

2009 Squirrel Count: Six

Today we caught our sixth squirrel of the season. So far two have been relocated to my workplace and four to my wife's.

Not that we're keeping track, or anything.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Happy Pesach tomorrow night!

In case it helps anyone, the old P'nei Adonai haggadah is still online.

Everyone Letter 2008

I used to send out, a few times each year, an "Everyone Letter" by e-mail to all of my friends. Then I started blogging as a more efficient way to share personal news.

When I recently started using Facebook I enjoyed being back in touch with some old friends I had lost contact with. So I sent out one more Everyone Letter to everyone in my address book, in case I missed connecting through Facebook with anyone.

If you are a friend and did not just get this e-mail from me, I don't have a current e-mail for you! Please send me a hello. Thanks!

Hello, Everyone!

By searching through my e-mail I see that I have not sent out an Everyone Letter since August of 2006. Golly. Hopefully those of you who wished to keep in touch have been following my blog and enjoying the photographs and videos of little Smiley, who celebrated his one year birthday yesterday.

Yet it seemed right to send out another Everyone Letter because it's a holiday, because I recently joined Facebook as part of trying to find more playmates for Smiley, and because I recently stopped using my PDA and had to reorganize my address book.

I am very blessed. Springtime in Eugene is pretty and enchanting. My math and ministry work is enjoyable and rewarding. Smiley is delightful and kind. My wife is beautiful and caring. God is faithful and good.

May you have a blessed and happy time of Pesach, Easter, and Spring!
David V.S.

A Nice Lunch

I recent made lunch for myself and two guests. We ate in the back yard on a sunny day.

They thought the meal was elegant and probably expensive. I simply thought it had a nice balance of flavor, color, and nutrition. Also, it was easy to prepare and a good deal.

The main course was wild-caught Alaskan salmon from Trader Joe's with a creamy sauce ($10.55 for three pieces, totaling 1.3 pounds), which I simply sprayed with olive oil and grilled on my little barbecue.

The side dish was vegetable gyoza, also from Trader Joe's ($3.49 for a bag). I simply put them in aluminum foil on the grill. We already had dipping sauce in the fridge.

The dessert was a bowl of frozen mango chunks, also from Trader Joe's ($2.29 for a bag, of which we used one-fifth), topped with a small amount of Dreyer's low-fat vanilla ice cream (we used about $0.8 worth).

So the meal had savory, creamy, and sweet. The fish's sauce was colorful with red and green bell pepper bits, and the mango added a third bright color. The food had protein, vegetables, and fiber. Preparation was trivial. And it only cost $4.86 per person for something apparently fancy.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Not a Monster

The book Where the Wild Things Are is being made into a movie.

A week ago I wrote about the Spanish translation of The Very Busy Spider. It had some awkward parts.

I also bought Smiley the Spanish version of Where the Wild Things Are. It has a terrible problem! Throughout the book "Wild Things" is translated "Monstruos".

The whole book is a young boy's imaginary and emotional reaction to and evaluation of being called a "wild thing" by his mother. Changing that to "monster" wrecks the story. Sob!

Turning Yellow

My wife's computer broke and I'm letting her use mine at night to relax before bed.

What can I do that's even better than recorded Go games for helping turn off my brain before bedtime? I got out my old Game Boy Color and Pokémon Yellow cartridge.

Just doing my part to participate in the Evil Conspiracy of the Juice.

I've yet to find Waldo or the Horde. Perhaps they are not in Kanto.

UPDATE: More Pokémon scare reporting here, in an article about ten Time Magazine overblown scares.

Economic String Theory

Here are a few articles of political theme that I never got around to blogging about. I'm most curious to hear more about the topic mentioned in the first.

Is the stimulus plan constitutional? Can banks back out? Does the link between campaign donations and bailout money matter legally?

Here is an article about some historical problems of Congressional Democrats. (Sadly, the Republicans also failed to "clean up" government and pork during their watch. But I don't have a good link for that tragedy.)

Finally, I found it humorous that amidst all of the events of bailouts and earmarks, a new study finds that emphasizing and rewarding effort and persistence (as opposed to intelligence or talent) best promotes success in children.

Counting to One

Today Smiley will have his first birthday party. It's a little early, so it will happen on a weekend day with sunshine and warm weather.

Strawberries are one of the foods that pediatricians suggest delaying until one year of age. So his birthday food treat will be strawberries and cream.

My wife also baked a yogurt cake for the adults. Since it has eggs, Smiley cannot have any.

Lately I have been enjoying thinking about numerical facts about what has happened during the last year...
  • We've lost two of his socks (he pulls them off while on walks behind me in the Ergo, and I do not always notice). So he has one pair that is mismatched, tan-and-gray, and still looks cute on him.
  • We have lost zero pacifiers permanently. There were a few occasions in the middle of the night where we could not find the one he fell asleep with, but that's why we keep two in the nursery.
  • We took 4,022 photographs of him, of which 385 were nice enough to upload to Picasa. (I still have 132 to process.)
  • We took 764 Flip videos of him, of which 279 were nice enough to upload to BlipTV. (I still have 96 to process.)
  • We clipped his nails only seven times. (For the first eight months it was not necessary to use the nail clipper since infant nails are so soft that normal play keeps them short.)
  • Parents are supposed to keep track of a newborn's eating, sleeping, and pooping on a chart, to provide doctors with that information in case growth is too slow. My wife wanted us to keep using these charts to help her monitor his nursing and her milk supply. So we have not added up the data, but for his first year we have a paper record of every time food went in or out of him, how much he drank, when he slept, how much milk my wife produced, and how many times he threw up.
  • We only used slightly more than one gallon-size container of laundry detergent, despite doing a load of his laundry most days in addition to our other laundry. I was initially unsure how significant that expense would be; it's quite minor.
  • He used up one bottle of infant Tylenol (when he was teething) and just over one bottle of infant probiotic powder.
  • The stuffed animals he wound up with most of were turtles (2), frogs (2), and otters (4, but they are identical).
If I think of more numerical curiosities, I'll add them later.