Archive for October, 2006


Posted by jonesey on Sunday, 29 October 2006, 20:55

Must be Halloween.


Sylvan and Mommy, models

Posted by julie on Saturday, 28 October 2006, 22:17

Sylvan and I are going to be famous — in Eugene. And everywhere where bikes are sold. And among active parents looking for creative ways in which to haul their offspring. Sylvan and I were in the right place at the right time last week when our friend Cary, the marketing director at Burley, called. Burley, located in Eugene, designs and builds bicycle trailers, bikes, baby joggers, and raingear. Cary had plenty of men who work for Burley who could take part in a photo shoot the next day for their new trailers, but he needed women. I’m sorry, what actually happened was that Cary called and said, “We’re having a photo shoot for Burley’s new catalog, and we need superbly attractive moms and their adorable children. I immediately thought of you and Sylvan.”

So of course we said yes. Well, Sylvan said, “daw,” but that’s just because the photo shoot was in the park, with its plentiful pooches. We just viewed the photos, and some are fantastic; it’s amazing what a professional photographer can do. Unfortunately, we can’t post any of the photos on our blog, but, let me tell you, they’re great! And, when they’re published on Burley’s website or in a print catalog, I’ll let you know.

Explaining a parking meter to a baby

Posted by jonesey on Saturday, 28 October 2006, 7:30

It sounds like a Billy Collins poem, but today, it’s an observation about abstract concepts.

When Sylvan and I go for walks, I like to point out the objects along the way and talk about them. Usually, the objects we see are mundane and straightforward, at least to Sylvan: truck, dog, tree, bird, light. Sylvan understands these objects. He even has words for them and will point them out to me, repeatedly and unprompted.

The other day we passed a parking meter, and Sylvan was giving it a look, so I tried to explain. “That’s a parking meter. When you’re driving your car and you want to park, you put money into the meter, and you get to park for an amount of time based on the amount of money that you put into the meter.” That’s when I realized that a parking meter is a much different class of object from a truck or a dog. Especially a dog.

While a parking meter appears to be an ordinary inanimate object, certainly less complicated than a truck or a dog, just the opposite is true. Understanding a parking meter requires understanding, at minimum, two abstract concepts that many adults don’t even grasp: money and time. A parking meter’s function is to turn money, an abstract concept whose true meaning and value eludes most people, into time, an even more abstract concept that eludes even more of us.

These are the things you learn when you walk with a one-year-old child.

A brief exchange while looking at an ad in the New Yorker

Posted by jonesey on Sunday, 8 October 2006, 22:59

Chris: “Sylvan, what does a monk say?”

Sylvan: “…”

Chris: “That’s right!”

Sylvan’s Vocabulary

Posted by jonesey on Sunday, 8 October 2006, 22:44

As far as Julie and I can tell, Sylvan’s thirteen-month vocabulary currently consists of sixteen words, along with a few questionable sounds that will probably turn into words soon. He always says these words in the appropriate context. Sometimes he surprises us by seeing or hearing something (a dog, a bird, a truck) that we either haven’t seen or heard yet or didn’t pay attention to.

All of the words are nouns so far. Fluent English speakers would consider most of Sylvan’s current noun definitions somewhat broader in scope than Mr. Webster would prefer. His words for things are often more like words for classes of things. For example, the word “sock” includes socks, shoes, and pretty much any other kind of footwear. I have included examples of items included in each word’s scope of meaning.

Pronunciation follows each word, in parentheses.

Ball (bah or baht) – Any round or mostly round object, including balls, round fruit of any sort (grapes, plums, apples, avocadoes, avocado pits, peaches, etc.), pumpkins, eggs.

Balloon (moom) – He doesn’t say “balloon” for non-balloon objects, and he can accurately point them out as we pass a car dealership at 40 miles per hour.

Bird (buhrt or buht) – He has been pointing out birds for a while. He used a version of the sign language sign for “bird” for a while (Grandma Diana taught him) until he could say “bird” and be understood.

Book (bhut) – Sylvan loves books. Magazines are books. If you ask him to bring you a book, Sylvan will bring you a book from his basket and then sit down to be read to. Those of you who knew Julie and Christopher as children will not be surprised by this report.

Bottle (boh’l) – Bottles include glass jars, any sort of plastic water bottle, and drinking glasses. His only two-syllable word, unless he’s in a hurry.

Dog (daw) – This was Sylvan’s first word, at about nine months. He said it frequently for a few weeks, then stopped saying it for a while. A dog used to be any animal with four legs and fur, but he has stopped using it for cats recently.

Duck (duh) – Most water birds are ducks. At the beach this weekend, Sylvan pointed to crows, sparrows, woodpeckers, etc., and said “bird”, then to seagulls and said “duck”. The great blue heron fooled him, though. A heron is a bird, so far.

Food (nahn) – We have used the sign for food forever, but Sylvan has not picked it up. He generally points to what he wants or away from what he doesn’t want, and we have to figure it out. He keeps us running around the kitchen picking up different foods to see if we can guess what he wants to eat. It’s a fun game, I think.

Light (neht or nat) – Sylvan has been fascinated by lights since he was about five weeks old. Ceiling fans are also lights. He pronounced it “nahn” until last week; one day he changed and hasn’t gone back.

Milk (neh-neh-neh) – This useful word was one of Sylvan’s first. He picked up the sign for milk pretty early, then he started using words and dropped the sign.

Mom (mom) – Another useful word. He can pick her out from really far away. “Sylvan, who’s that?” “Mom.”

Potty (dahn) – Sylvan says this when he sits on his potty and can also correctly identify multiple kinds of adult toilets with this word. This word may also be the verb “to change” and appears to have other related meanings that we have not yet divined. I’m guessing that when we figure out what he’s talking about when he says “dahn”, there will be fewer trousergrams for us.

Sock (dok) – A sock is anything that a person wears on his or her foot. Shoes are definitely “dok”.

Truck (tuh) – This was also one of Sylvan’s first few words. It originally applied to all four-wheeled vehicles, but only when they were moving. He is beginning to get the idea of “car”, but he doesn’t have a word for it yet.

Vroom (voom or boom) – “Sylvan, what does a truck say?” “Vroom!” “That’s right!”

Water (wah or waht) – Any drinkable liquid. He also recognizes water in its untreated state in rivers, streams, and lakes.

Emerging and dormant words:

Backpack (?) – He has a word for backpack, but I don’t think he’s settled on a pronunciation yet.

Box (bah) – He just started saying this tonight. I don’t know if it will stick.

Done (dun) – He used to say “done” and give us the sign language equivalent. He doesn’t appear to be saying it anymore. Now he just refuses additional food and gives the sign for “up”. This was his first non-noun.

Down (down) – I think he is starting to say “down” when he descends stairs. Holy crow, an adverb!

Squirrel (qurh or gurl) – He said this for a week or two, but I haven’t heard it in a while, even though we saw and discussed a bunch of squirrels this weekend.

Tree (bwot or maybe bot) – He used the sign for “tree” for a while, but he hasn’t done that in a few weeks. I think that he is telling us about the trees when he says “bwot”, but I’m not sure.

Clear Lake Camping

Posted by julie on Monday, 2 October 2006, 23:37

Chris’s summary of camping last weekend with Sylvan: “Camping was great. Sylvan loved the tent, and the water, and the trees, and the trucks, and the squirrels, and the birds, and the hollow tree trunks, and the watermelon, and the big fish, and the dirt, and the snuggling in sleeping bags. He was quite pleased.”

Due to commitments at 5 p.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Sunday, along with the reality of travel with a one-year-old, we needed to camp and hike somewhere nearby; but we wanted to visit someplace new. Chandra recommended Clear Lake, which is considered to be the headwaters of the McKenzie River, although Ikenick Creek, Fish Lake Creek, and the Great Springs all flow into it. The lake, which owes its clarity to 38 degree water that supports little life, was created when a lava flow dammed a river 3000 years ago.Julie and Sylvan near Clear Lake Some trunks of the trees submerged when the river backed up still stand upright in the lake, preserved by the cold, lifeless water. The water appears turquoise in some places because the bottom is covered with the silicate bodies of diatoms, a type of algae. The pale sediment reflects sunlight back through the water, giving the lake its Caribbean color. As Chandra had promised, the vine maples were also losing their summer chlorophyll, turning red and orange and yellow, depending on how deeply they were buried in the shady forest.

Sylvan playing in the tentSylvan has been a super camper since he was eight weeks old and snuggled in the tent on the way to Monterey, but he truly enjoyed this camping trip. Sylvan reading by headlamp He toddled into the tent as soon as it was up, recognizing that he’d found a soft, forgiving playroom; he tumbled around, flopping to the ground and burying himself in sleeping bags. Sylvan and Chris read a bedtime story by headlamp. Sylvan’s riveted expression is typical of storytime; if we offer to read Sylvan a book, he says “book” and sits down, patting his legs with his hands in anticipation.

And the big fish Chris referred to were spawning chinook salmon. Chandra told us about an artificial channel created for salmon habitat just downstream of the Trail Bridge Reservoir. The quarter-mile section of gravel stream (effectively a cul-de-sac, although fed by McKenzie water) held 40-50 salmon, holding position in the cold water and occasionally swimming splashily up over the artificial log steps. Chris says the fish weren’t over two feet, but I’m convinced they were closer to three. I just kept imagining them next to my 27-inch-tall son; they were bigger.