Monday, October 27, 2008

Nasal Gazer

Owen’s new favorite activity? Nasal gazing.
That’s right. Squatting down and peering up our noses, to see what’s inside. He’s recently discovered that he can jam his finger into his nose and it fits quite well, hence more than one Halloween party picture where the YG is trying to see if he can touch his brain. Previously, he preferred to jam his finger into our noses. He’s started trying to blow his nose, despite the fact that he’s healthy and doesn’t need to, thanks to Dr. Seuss’s ‘Hand Hand Fingers Thumb’. It’s mainly about monkeys playing the drums, but one page shows the monkeys blowing their noses into hankies and Owen is very, very interested in this page.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hasta la vista, Champy

RIP Diaper Champ. You served us well. Through the first 1000 or so baby diapers you were great. But then, when Owen’s taste expanded to include all the food groups, your powers of odor suppression failed. And now you must live in the garage away from all with noses.

Best advice from my brother Scott – never feed your (diaper-wearing) toddler a bran muffin at breakfast and chili for lunch. Good to know.

10 year old pants

I have some 10 year old pants that I’ve been wearing to work. Is it wrong to want newer work pants? I don’t really want the old ones anymore. There’s nothing really wrong with them, except that they’re old, and a maybe a little faded. They’re not obviously out of style, but still. Am I shallow for wanting new pants? Will it be ok to get new ones as long as I donate the old ones? I can’t shop until after I take the GI boards (self-imposed), so I can defer my decision until then.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A proud moment

Owen went to the CD cabinet, opened it and immediately picked out A Tribe Called Quest's Low-End Theory. As soon as it started spinning, he began bobbing up and down and waving his arms.

I could have only been more pleased if he had then found Kerry's Chumbawamba CD*, howled and hurled it across the room.

* Even after nine years of marriage, commingling of bank accounts, etc, etc, there are certain things that I'm sure to identify as Kerry's.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The surreal world of O

Yesterday, Owen wanted to wear his lion costume so that, once wearing it, he could go into the guest bedroom/storage room, climb into his old infant bathtub and put three pillar candles and one candle holder in the tub with himself. (This would be after the brief self-admiration Kerry described.)

When he's old enough, I expect him to go into a bar and order a single plum, floating in perfume, served in a man's hat.


Language development is really interesting, particularly when it’s your own kid and you can see all the changes first hand. Owen is getting more vocal (more on this in a moment). He’s always been very observant and seemed to understand a lot of what we were saying. Now that includes ‘Go get your Brown Bear book’ or ‘Go find George’, which he’ll toddle off to do.

Yesterday, Travis and I discovered that he understands a lot more than that (and no it’s not b/c Owen started cussing). We were discussing how much Owen likes his lion Halloween costume. In particular, two Saturday mornings in a row, he’s wanted to put on his lion costume and look at himself in the mirror in our guest bedroom, admiring his mane and tail. Yesterday, Owen heard us discussing this, and he went and started banging on his bedroom door. When we let him in, he went to get his Halloween costume and cried until we put it on him, then promptly went to the guest room door so we could open it and he could look in the mirror. He also roars like a lion when he’s wearing it, which is pretty cute. So it seems that he understood our conversation and it reminded him that he wanted to go play with his costume. I guess it’s time to start spelling things in front of him.

He also talks more – more babbling in O-gibberish, more successful mimicking of words we say, and more words of his own. From his favorite word ‘up’, to bubbles, apple, truck, dog, cat, and my favorite - stinky (to refer to his diaper) he’s getting quite a vocabulary.

My favorite language development that he's had is that he's starting to learn animal sounds, thanks to Sandra Boynton's book 'Moo, Baa, La La La'. Now when I read the book to Owen, he'll fill in some of the animal sounds i.e.
K: A cow says
O: mooo (in a soft cute baby voice)
K: A shee says
O: baaaaa (same voice)
K: 3 singing pigs say
O: ah ah ah (or la la la, depending on how the mood strikes him)

He realizes that real cows say moo, also, as we discovered when we took him to the petting farm last weekend.

It seem like just yesterday that he would scream like he's being eaten by a bear every time he wanted to communicate. Hmm... How times change.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Observation on the brain and self

This is a fascinating account by a brain scientist of her own stroke. Her description of her thinking and perception as parts of her brain shut down is remarkable.

(Or see it on the TED Talks site)

I'm not as amazed by her suggestion that we all ought to live in our right brains. I can't help but observe that, were it not for the nagging of her left brain that something was seriously amiss, she would have died. But I'm a pretty died-in-the-wool lefty*, so how else could I respond?

I remember how Owen went through the process of discovering his hands and other fundamentals of his being, and I wonder how much his perception was like Dr Taylor's.

* New conversational fun: I think I'm going to start swapping the political and brain hemispherical senses of "right" and "left" without warning.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The hobgoblin of little minds (and parents)

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds," wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson. I often mis-refer to that quote, dropping the "foolish" bit, when self-deprecating my own nit-picking of comma usage, capitalization, font sizes, etc, at work. But I was thinking this weekend about how hard consistency is in the realm of parenting.

I think that Pre-Parent Me did a pretty decent job of not claiming to understand the job that parents were doing. On the matter of consistency, however, PPM did claim too much. "Parents should establish consistent rules for their kids", or something like, is the guidance, which seemed obvious and straightforward to PPM. But now I appreciate how hard that can be, as any moment of the day can present a new discovery for Owen, which is a new opportunity to say "OK" or "no", ie, make a new rule. And in addition to all the new rules, there is the continual revisiting of the old ones (at least the old "noes"). So I realize over time that that spur-of-the-moment rule about not playing with the Halloween cat candle probably isn't all that important, but if I revoke that rule, then - horrors - I'm being inconsistent and - double horrors - I'm teaching Owen that he can wear me down. Yes, I know (as PPM knew) that the key is to make rules only where they matter, but I note again the multiplicity of new opportunities each day for the Young Gentleman to break himself, others or his surroundings.

I realize that there are a couple of possible rejoinders here. One might be, "Enh, Owen will live in the world, and the world isn't consistent, so don't sweat a little variability on your part." Another might be, "Look on the bright side: If you change your mind, you're teaching him that Dad isn't bull-headedly stubborn and that persistence pays off." But that's not the point of this post. The point is that, even for someone who thought that parenting looked pretty hard, it can be harder than it looks.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Treasure Update

After rescuing all the magnets from underneath the fridge and returning them to the front, O has removed them all and placed them in their proper place. Underneath the fridge. If only I had the babytranslator from the Simpsons... I'd love to know what he's thinking.

Universal banking

So it seems to me that most commentary on the ongoing financial crisis regards the return of universal banking (combined retail, commercial and investment banking) as a saving grace. Were it not for the repeal of the Glass-Seagull Act in 1999, then JPMorgan could not have bought Bear Sterns, Bank of America could not have bought Merrill Lynch, and we wouldn't have the joy of Morgan Stanley and Goldman turning themselves into bank holding companies.

The argument, as I understand it, is that universal banking supports volatile investment banking activities with stable, secure retail banking. But surely this goes the other way, too. Why is this a good thing to more tightly integrate those inherently innovative, risky activities with regulated banking, which above all is meant to be sturdy? It looks to me like the AIG model: a vast, traditional insurance business married to a smaller, more creative financial-products division. And that worked out. Oh, wait...

I don't see why this whole kerfuffle doesn't reinforce the "thin banking" model: You want deposit insurance and government protection, then stick to simple retail banking. You want to be cutting-edge? Good luck, but you're on your own. As this crisis broke, I read an analogy that the financial sector was like a utility next door to a casino, and that the government would raid the utility to keep the casino going. That may be the right thing to do, and may ultimately be better for the utility than letting the casino close. But some separation still seems like the right thing to do; I don't see how setting up the roulette wheels in the turbine hall puts us in a better place for the future.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Hidden Treasure

More things found today that were previously hidden. We had kiddler safe magnets on the refrigerator. These are big flat ones with no little magnet disks that can be ingested and cause bowel perforations. We have a nice Van Gogh flowers magnet (mine), a Star Trek magnet (Travis’s), a magnet from the Tallgrass Prairie in Oklahoma, and Owen’s favorite, the ‘Keep Civility in Howard County’ magnet bumper sticker. He used to carry the civility magnet around the house waving it the air and babbling. He also put it in a stock pot and stirred it with a spoon (not sure if this was had something to do with his opinion about the civility movement or not). Then suddenly the magnets were gone. All of them. Not in the stock pot, not scattered around the kitchen. O hid them and we just found them. One was in the coffee table padded bumper and the others were safely stored under the refrigerator. I think he’ll be pretty excited tomorrow to see that magnet Spock has shown up again.

If it don't fit, force it

... and even if it do fit, force it.

When Owen tries hard to open, close or otherwise move something, he makes a tremendous, open-mouth grimace. It exposes his four bottom teeth, and it looks like the sheer effort of whatever he's doing is pulling his face down his neck. If I have any pumpkin artistry at all, my jack o' lantern this year will be that expression.

Owen tries hard almost all the time. And for over a month, it's sort of made sense, as the name of the game was putting things in other things. Whether toys in a bag or shapes in a shape sorter, sometimes pushing a bit harder does the trick. But now we're trying stacking things, and in that case, using all your might generally doesn't help and often has the opposite effect. So the Young Gentleman will put one block precisely on top of two others, then push down almost until his arms shake, at which point - surprise - the tower falls.

I'm not worried, but this is curious. Do all kids do this?

Friday, October 03, 2008

O update

Aside from the new laugh (see below), here’s what Owen is up to.
1. Climbing – on the furniture, up the stairs. He’d like nothing better than to stand on the back of the couch and beat on the front windows.
2. Shoes – He loves shoes, and trying to put on shoes. Especially mine. He says ‘shuss’ pretty reliably now when confronted with footwear.
3. Hiding things. He finds places to hide his toys – in the coffee table bumper, under the ottoman. He also his our nanny’s book in the pantry and deposited her car keys under a table. Hmm… note to self: Don’t let O play with keys in the morning before work.
4. Dancing and humming. He loves music, particularly the tinny music that comes out of all his toys. His current favorite musical toy is a cow teether/rattle that plays ‘Old McDonald’ when the button is pressed. He stands, rocks, smiles, and waves his arms like he’s directing an orchestra.
5. Belly button – Thanks to 2 books, Sandra Boynton’s ‘Belly Button Book’ and ‘Where is Baby’s Belly Button’, Owen can now find his own belly button, which he calls ‘buh buh’. He can also find other people’s belly buttons and loves to ram his tiny pointy finger into them.

Mr. Sinister

O has developed a new laugh, which I refer to as his ‘Mr. Sinister’ laugh. This laugh only appears at certain times:
1. While trying to smash the cat in the door
2. While trying to grab the cat’s heart and pull it out a la ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’
3. Trying to poke mommy in the eye
4. Trying to bite mommy/daddy/nanny.
The laugh is easily distinguishable from his normal cackly, cute giggly laugh. Is this the first taste of 2? I guess only time will tell. Fortunately, he responds somewhat to ‘no’ and is still redirectable. Even when he's doing his mad scientist laugh, he's still pretty dang cute.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A tiny boy, brandishing a bottle of Wasabiyaki, chases a cat through my kitchen

Nope, not a dream, just another evening in the Holler.