H’s Sunday, with Xylophone Goodness

This morning H went to church and spent the first 35 minutes being extremely interested in the vocalists and organ, then went down to the nursery for the sermon because he’s two and hasn’t yet gained the patience to listen to a sermon. They had a plush Elmo down there which made him pretty happy.

Oh, and he took my hymnal away and loudly said, “B! book!” His Auntie M took his picture after he speed-read the entire thing a few times.

Afterward we went over to his Auntie M and Uncle A’s house to see M’s latest art installation (so cool!). Uncle A, who is a music teacher, had been working on a school xylophone and wheeled it out for H… Hope this video link works.

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When he wheeled it out, H looked at it and declared, “X! Xylophone!” Because he’s freaking adorable.

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He loved playing it.

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At one point I got one of the mallets away from him and picked out the tune to “Row Row Row Your Boat” upside down, which is a little harder than I thought it would be. He lost his poo — so excited. He’s an absolute sponge when it comes to music and learned [some of] the words to that song after I sang it twice in a parking lot. This is his version:

“Row row the boat
Down the stream
Nummy nummy nummy
It’s a dream!”

I recorded him on my phone tonight but can’t seem to get it onto my computer, so I’ll work on that. It’s pretty cute.

Later we went to Costco and found ourselves next to a sample-distributor who said that he was beautiful and looked like a movie star baby because of his eyelashes. It was pretty funny. Then she gave him a second sample (because he loved it — tomato basil lentil crisps) and I bought a bag of them.

Oh, and at Costco we were waiting for a parking spot, with our turn signal on. When we went to take it, another car blasted its horn at us and tried to push their way in, but we were already halfway there. The driver gesticulated angrily and glared at us when they walked past a moment later — because there was another parking spot literally two past that one. I’m like, Lady, I’m 4.5 months pregnant with a 2-year-old; I was waiting there for several minutes with my turn signal on and was almost CERTAINLY there first, and you and your husband are able-bodied. Get over it!

After that we had to go to the grocery store and he yanked his foot out the proper leg hole and got it stuck between the cart and the handle and yelled. It took me a few minutes to get him out, and later in his bath tonight I saw that he’d bruised his ankle. Poor buddy.

He dumped water all over himself and then passed out on the way home.

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Tomorrow we are back to work full time and he goes to a new day care for Mondays. I hope he likes it better than the last place. I sure do love my little friend.

Henry Update, July 2015 Edition :)

I am always thinking that I ought to be “journaling” about Henry’s growing-up, and then when I actually finally sit down at a computer I never know exactly what to say! This is probably going to be a slightly boring and inane post unless you are just curious about what is going on in the life of my kidlet, but it is what it is.

Henry turned 2 this May but is tall enough, and has a look to him, that people tend to assume that he is 3. Since he’s still VERY two in his behavior and speech, that can make for some awkward “judgmental stranger” moments! It can be hard for me to remember that he’s really just a baby, sometimes — a long-legged, willful, faster-every-day baby. He’s in a bit of a snuggly phase right now, which is so nice. He loves to back up across the room and then run as fast as he can at Ryan or me, crashing into us with a huge smile and saying “Boom!” If we put on Sesame Street or one of hugglemonster chairhis other shows, he’ll often come sit in our lap to watch, if he’s not playing with something or sitting in his Hugglemonster chair. He loves the “finger spider” game and will take my hand and put it on him so that I’ll tickle him.

In the past couple of weeks, Henry’s imagination has blazed into life. I think it was triggered by me bringing home a lightly pre-loved Cookie Monster Count N Crunch toy. The only stuffed animals Henry had ever paid attention to were the ones who moved and sang/played music, and this one was his favorite Sesame Street character. You open his mouth and put in a plastic cookie, and Cookie Monster wiggles and says something in response. Henry LOVED it and soon progressed from feeding it the approved plastic cookies to sharing his own food — and drinks, yikes! — and ultimately anything he could get to fit in its mouth. Including my big hairclip that turned him into Cookie Cthulhu.

Cookie Monster

And from there, it just took off. Out of nowhere, he noticed his non-electronic stuffed animals. He danced with a plush Superman doll, had conversations with an oversized dinosaur, hugged his Hugglemonster — and went, almost overnight, from liking Scout because of all the different buttons and songs, to cuddling, toting around, and really being attached to Scout even when Scout wasn’t doing anything.

And then the LEGOs! (Technically Mega Blox or Duplo or whatever, I suppose.) Henry had always just thought they were excellent things to throw across the room. Then one day I turned my back for thirty seconds at my parents’ house, and when I turned around he had pulled out a bucket of blocks and built a tower. I didn’t know he even knew how to fit them together! Now he’s a budding LEGO maniac, and it’s so fun to watch him work with them. For a few days he would be utterly devastated when a tower fell down or broke — I’m talking full-on meltdown with enormous tears — but it wasn’t long before he was anticipating structural issues, holding a hand behind a wobbly bit to catch it before it fell, gently readjusting unstable bits until they caught their balance.

lego 1The entire time he plays with LEGOs, he has the most serious look on his face. He carefully picks out which block he wants next (his favorites are the 2x1s), adds it to the tower, steps back, examines his work, and then often circles the tower to check it out from every angle. He’ll get down on his hands and knees or even his stomach and look up at the tower from below. Then he’ll carefully pick another piece and do it again.

One time, his grandpa built a tower. We started to take it down later so Henry could have the blocks, and he pitched a fit — so we put it back the way it was, and he spent several minutes examining it as he built his own tower next to it, copying some elements… I am not going to say that Henry is going to grow up to be an engineer, because I was very block-oriented like this as a kid too and look how I turned out, but right now he is definitely being a junior engineer.

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Speaking of engineers, he’s very fond of Thomas the Tank Engine. Whenever he sees one of the engines he lights up and says, “It’s a Thomas!” His grandmommy has several of them from garage sales and whatnot, and he likes to line them up in neat little rows and, again, examine them. Woe be to anyone who disturbs those neat little rows, too! (The picture below is one of his earliest lines and is less fastidiously perfect than his current ones. I tried to turn the first Thomas around to match the others and he absolutely wailed.) Are all toddlers this OCD?

lining up thomas

Unfortunately, his current favorite game is to find a piece of furniture that he can get behind — say, a coffee table or a sofa in the middle of a room — and throw everything he can find over said object. I’ve given up at home, and by the time Ryan gets home from summer school the loveseat is generally completely covered with blocks, toy instruments, stuffed animals, sippie cups, my stuff, you name it. Nothing I’ve tried has put any brakes on this behavior, so I’m just waiting it out. Surely the novelty will wear off eventually, right?

Henry’s speech is much better but there are still some issues. He has a LOT of words and phrases but doesn’t use them to communicate needs, which is probably more frustrating for him than anyone else. He just loses his poo when he wants something, and we have to calm him down before we can get him to think logically about it, and the only way to calm him down is to give him the thing that he wants, so he never ends up actually asking for it. I’m not sure what to think or do about that. Speech therapy was frustrating and pretty useless for us, I think. We were going to completely cancel it but now I’m wondering if we should just request a different therapist? Ours seemed very knowledgeable but she was patronizing to us, rarely available due to medical issues, and never really interacted with Henry in any way that seemed to have any purpose. And the “homework” she gave us had zero impact on him — the progress he made just happened, and even when we reported all of the exciting bounds he’d made, she just poo-poohed them and said it wasn’t the right progress. Pretty disheartening. I really don’t think we got anything valuable from the process, and I sorta believe that everything is going to sort itself out at this point, but I WOULD like him to be able to tell me “eat” or “drink” BEFORE the meltdown.

He is, however, very good at telling me (or anyone else, or inanimate objects) “Stop it!” when something happens that he doesn’t like, or doesn’t happen that he would have liked. The other day he bopped his head on a table, turned to it, and admonished it to “Stop it!” That was pretty funny. Oh, and this morning he decided that Paisley was not a “dog” or a “doggy” but a “fuck.” What in the world. I promise we haven’t been using that word to describe our pets, even though they might deserve it!

I gotta say, I’m not worried about his intelligence — and related to the whole “not convinced he’ll be an engineer” thing, his musical intelligence blows me away. He knows the hand movements to “Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree” and “Patty Cake,” as well as “I’m Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee” (he knows all of the words to that one, too). He also knows the ABC song, and can identify all of the letters out of context, including on signs and stuff. He knows “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” AND recognizes that it has the same tune as the ABCs, sometimes mashing the two into one song. He knows “How Much is that Doggy in the Window” although he generally only does the barking part — in rhythm, and at a perfectly tuned fifth interval every time — and “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” There are others, too, that I’m forgetting right this moment. He likes to play the piano, and when he does there is a certain musicality to it that might almost be a little frightening. He doesn’t bang on it just to enjoy the noise; he picks out notes and moves up and down the keyboard, rarely dissonant, and when he plays more than one note and once they’re often at pleasant intervals. I’m not a string player so I have a hard time getting my mind around the idea that you can start kids on violin at 3 — will Henry possibly have the self-control to not destroy a violin when he’s 3??? — but I’m eager to see how his musical abilities develop as he gets bigger.

He’s, uh, very not good at staying still. So many kids his age stick right with their parents, and if he’s not physically restrained he’s GONE. He’s very energetic and investigative and playful, and any hallway or open space screams “racetrack” to him. It’s a little exhausting for his geriatric parents, and we’re working to improve this behavior, but it’s hard. Did I mention how willful he is? I don’t know what the best way to teach a semi-verbal kid about boundaries and prohibited activities is. I know a swat on the bottom might get a message through but we’ve not done that and I’d prefer not to. So it’s kind of a constant thing. I’m definitely learning that there are vastly different personality types in little toddlers. Some kids are clingers and some are runners. Some will follow the line of kids marching in a circle to the music, and some will sit in the middle of the circle until the music stops and then do their own dance. Some want to sit in your lap during storytime and some want to go take the book away from the librarian.

Ryan is teaching summer school for two months and I’m taking this opportunity to realize that I’m probably glad I’m not a SAHM because it is SERIOUSLY HARD WORK to take care of a 2-year-old all day by yourself! Wow! Part of the trouble, of course, is that it has been so hot (and I’ve been under the weather) that we’ve had to spend more time indoors than is probably strictly good for an energetic little boy. This may be related to the throwing-toys game — someone just needs to go outside and run some laps! And someone ELSE needs to come and follow him, because I can’t keep him up with the little munchkin! 🙂

I can’t even begin to articulate how much respect I have for full-time parents who don’t work outside of the home, especially those who are well and truly on their own. I’ve got it pretty good; it’s only 2 months, I’ve got full contingents of grandparents and aunts/uncle on call, and my reinforcements come home every evening and weekend. Full-time parents are definitely superheroes!

He drove the boat quite a ways on Lucky Peak a few weeks ago. He’s a real waterbaby!

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It’s impossible to know where to stop so I guess I’ll just stop here for now. 🙂

Love is a Verb?

Following is my irreverent writing journal response to the host’s request that we listen to and write about John Mayer’s new song, “Love is a Verb.” With apologies to fans of Mr. Mayer and to the hosts, who intended it to be a very nice and thought-provoking writing prompt.

Love is a verb, according to John Mayer, despite the fact that he goes on to use it as a noun (“when you show me love,” etc.) and that’s true, obviously, because conceptual love is about as useful as hypothetical pizza. The purest everyday example of love-as-verb is your dog, right? When your dog is so excited to see you, just wants to be near you, not only for his comfort but for yours, when he’ll follow you cheerfully just because you are his and he is yours. But I’m not convinced that’s what this song is about. An old friend of mine once said that all music falls into two categories: pirate songs, and love songs. I’m gonna give you a hint right now and let you know that Johnny boy is a scurvy dog. This song is all about Mr. Mayer wanting to get laid, which is of course what all of his songs are about. Horny sonuvabitch, and manipulative, too — we’re all, “Aw, how romantic,” when really all he’s saying is, “that’s great that you say you love me, but would you please shut up and get naked already?”

End of the Dock on Payette Lake, 6:30 AM

In these bodies we will live;
In these bodies we will die.
Where you invest your love
You invest your life.

from “Awake My Soul,” Mumford & Sons

Music and silence — the kind of silence that is noisy with water lapping and bird call. Like Emily I’ve grown comfortable with my own company.

I wonder what Emily would have listened to if she’d had an iPod. Or is that a paradox — would music like this have existed if Dickinson hadn’t already done her thing? Would she have grown comfortable in the company of Pink Floyd and Mumford & Sons? Would she have found that they were, at times, all she needed — that rock and roll could save, or at least soothe, her soul?

The word of the day is defiance. I reject the idea that these scars are permanent.

Theologically speaking, I do not believe that music alone can save your mortal soul. But I do believe there are angels in the architecture, so to speak. I believe that some chords pleased the Lord, hallelujah, and that the Scriptures are not diminished by the stereo — or at least, not all stations.

My music is defiant. It is not always noisily defiant, although much of it pulses with aggression. Take “After the Storm,” for example, from the same album as “Awake My Soul.” I think sometimes I get more holiness from the songs on that album than I do in a month of sermons. “After the Storm” never gets aggressive or crazy, but can you feel the tension? Can you feel the strength?

I am stronger than this. I am defiant. This will not define me. I am stronger.