Archive for April, 2007

The Bad News and the Good

Posted by julie on Monday, 30 April 2007, 12:14

The bad news: Sigh (If you’re reading this after 5/6 or so, my prediction – hope? – is that I won’t be sighing so loudly.).
The good news: My husband is happy. And my sister. And Uncle John. And Chris’s Dad, Tom. And all of Boston, that scrappy little town.

The good news: Someone has even written a wikipedia entry for yesterday’s inaugural Eugene Marathon. And the weather was perfect. And we cheered on our friends, offering them beer. And Sylvan got to say “runners” and “running dues” (shoes) again and again.
The bad news: Oh, that one guy with the chafing. Ow. And the fact that we didn’t run. A chance missed.

Sylvan smiles with Kenny and the lorikeetsThe bad news: I don’t think I’ll ever figure out how my mother-in-law, Diana, can take close-up, active, happy photos of Sylvan when she’s the only one with him. How does she get him to smile instead of running away, chasing the pigeons?
The good news: Sylvan’s cute enough that it doesn’t matter if I merely record quick snapshots of our experiences. Here, Kenny, a fifth grader and new friend, offered Sylvan the chance to touch the screeching lorikeets. Sylvan did, with some coaxing.

Sylvan and Chris sculptThe good news: The Children’s “Museum” in Portland is the World’s Greatest indoor playground: outrageous indoor water play, a dig pit filled with shaved rubber instead of diaper-finding sand, climbing structures, clay sculpting, train sets, crannies in which to hide, and a pint-sized supermarket. Yippee!
Sylvan with a dumptruck!The bad news: We could have just spent $3.50 and rode around on the light rail all day. Sylvan needed to sit in his own seat, flailing his arms for balance when the train braked in a manner that would have made even his grandparents laugh. Highlights included tunnels and young women with pink cell phones.
Sylvan sleeps with his hands behind his headThe best news: Zzzzzzzz.

The news: Tephra has “naked feet.”
The good news: She doesn’t seem to mind.

The bad news: $1800 for plane tickets to Italy!?!
The good news (with the bad): We need to see Glacier National Park before all the glaciers melt, anyway.

The good news: Mommy’s running again!
The bad news: Mommy’s running again.

Some Recent Photos

Posted by julie on Wednesday, 25 April 2007, 14:18

Annalena under the parachuteAnnalena is three days older than Sylvan, and, like Sylvan, she enjoys using her words. Annalena and Sylvan sat side-by-side on the heater in the library lobby, paging through the Danielle Steele novels they’d grabbed off the “Free Book Exchange” rack. Words are words. Here, Annalena enjoys the parachute at our last Birth to Three meeting; that’s her Mom, Shelly, smiling behind her.

When five and a half inches of rain inundated New York early last week, my Mom walked out her front door and took this photo of the neighbor’s house. This house was flooded back in the late eighties, too, when our friends, the Freilers, lived there. TheThe flood approaches 145 Craig Lane Tenmmile River is on the left in the photo, blithely overflowing its banks. This time, my parents didn’t have much time to become anxious; the river rose quickly, flooding houses in Dover before folks had time to respond. My parents’ house has been spared again, but it might be time to move to higher ground.

Nicholas tries out his new BurleySylvan’s cousin, Nicholas, who will be one in June, got a Burley bike trailer for his ten-month birthday! Not until we saw the photo of this super-cutie enjoying his new wheels did we realize that Sylvan is on the cover of the tag that comes with Burley trailers.

Needs Work

Posted by julie on Wednesday, 18 April 2007, 20:43

Hey, check this out before someone scoops it up! Gosh, I love this town.

5/1 Update: Ah, you’re too late! It was a hovercraft for only $800. Sitting in a pasture, covered with blackberry vines, and looking like something your bright little cousin would have built with some plywood.

When He’s Not Wearing Trousers

Posted by julie on Wednesday, 18 April 2007, 14:41

Some of Mommy’s Favorite Sylvan Pronunciations:

guy-ba-duck = garbage truck

yaw-noah = lawn mower

Beet Yife = Sweet Life, the best bakery in town

oak dokie = okie dokie

Like any toddler worth his diapers, Sylvan is fond of running around without his clothes. I shouldn’t expect any less from the grandson of my Mom, who sometimes vacuums in her underwear (who doesn’t, though?). He’s going to love summer in Eugene. In the middle of a diaper change, Sylvan will sometimes ask for some bare-bottom play time by saying, “Nakeh boy!” [sic]

Language Explosion

Posted by jonesey on Monday, 16 April 2007, 18:39

Sylvan is in the middle of a language explosion. Long-time readers will remember our post about Sylvan’s 91 words. That was almost three months ago. Since then, he has picked up about 2-3 new words per day, probably more. There is no way that we could count all of his words now, but he must have three or four hundred. Almost every day, he says a word that I know I didn’t teach him.

He is now putting together two- and three-word phrases — Mommy shoes, Mommy chair, shoes on, on on on on on! — and saying four-syllable words — motorcycle, peanut butter, smoke detector. OK, those aren’t all words, but you get the idea.

He and I just got back from a quick walk to the store with Wendy. It’s about four blocks to the store. Our trip was about twenty minutes long. I didn’t have a voice recorder and didn’t think to take notes, but these were just some of the words he used to describe his surroundings during the trip:

around, ball, berry, bike, bin, bird, boots, brown shoes, car, cat, Chloe, computer, cow milk, dog, down, fan, flower, food, grass, hand, handle, home, oatmeal, socks, store, sun, touch, trailer, truck, up, water, Wendy, yogurt

And that’s just one twenty-minute trip.

It gets more amazing every day. And everyone tells me that it doesn’t stop. I don’t know if my brain’s amazement center can take it.

Mommy Dance!

Posted by julie on Friday, 13 April 2007, 21:20

Muchongoyo.  Julie is third from the left.Sylvan sat eating peas that he mixed with raspberries and yogurt this evening. Mmmmm. And he asked for more, pink yogurt in his hair and up to his elbows. As I washed dishes, he ate and jabbered. Then, he said, “Mommy. Dance.” I turned to him, and he flashed his dimples, “Mommy dance.” So I complied, spinning and undulating my spine. Sylvan wasn’t really commanding a performance, though. He’d already seen one today, so I think he was remembering: “Mommy dance,” rather than “Mommy, dance.”

Lamba.  Julie is second from the left.Courtney (“Cointy”) brought Sylvan to my Dance Africa performance this afternoon. Our usual audience is elementary through high schoolers. This particular show was set up for ShelterCare, a local organization that provides mental health programs, emergency shelter for the homeless, and training programs for people with brain injuries. Since we had space and it was pretty informal, I invited some toddler friends. Nora brought her Dad, Mark, and Annalena came with her Mom, Shelly. All three toddlers were remarkably well-behaved through the entire 45-minute show. Sylvan sat and crunched graham crackers, lighting up whenever he realized it was Mommy on the stage. Nora clapped excitedly and wiggled through the show, and Annalena stood a few feet from Mom, inching toward the stage, just waiting to fill in if anyone injured an ankle. Their responses encouraged me to consider taking Sylvan to see more live music and dance.

Sylvan just wanted to talk about his day over dinner. I hope he knew from my kitchen antics that I understood.

Happy Birthday: 19 Months

Posted by julie on Thursday, 12 April 2007, 12:27

Dear Sylvan-

You’ve learned how to push my buttons. I’m assuming it just means you’re precocious that you learned how to do that three years before I think you should be able to and eleven years before you’ll be remarkably skilled at it. And, although you made me want to shoot myself, as I so eloquently stated in my frustrated huff at the library, I also needed to put my face up against yours afterward, to feel your soft cheek.

sylvan_raincoat.JPGIt started even before storytime, when you escaped from the room three times, each time turning around to see if I was watching. “No, I will not sit and read. Yes, I will point out the music to you, Mom (Vivaldi, it turns out; good taste), by saying ‘meegan,’ and I will even dance, but I won’t focus for more than 11 seconds. Yes, you can try to ply me with Cheerios, but it won’t work, at least not for long. I’m taking off!”

While the group singing fascinated you and held your attention for seven entire minutes, your communication then degenerated into yelling, “MELK! MELK!” while climbing on me. When I reminded you that there is no more milk and asked if you wanted yogurt, you screamed “YOGIT! YOGIT!” every three seconds until we reached the front of the line, which only took an endless three minutes and 46 seconds. Then you clammed up, not telling the nice barista what you so desperately needed so that you wouldn’t faint dead away from starvation. After the yogurt, two orders of fish and chips, a side of beef, four pears, and a whole angel food strawberry torte later, you walked up to the four-year-old boys eating their turkey sandwiches:sylvan_spongethx.JPG “Excuse me,” you said, “but my Mum doesn’t feed me. Could I please have a bite?” Oh, and then there was the refusal to get in your backpack. Ah, and jumping in your carseat, refusing to sit down but crouching down charmingly: “Look, my bottom almost touches the seat.” We feed off each other, you and me. My imposed limits beget your iron will begets my frustration, which leads to, you got it, more stubbornness. I am 32 years older than you; I should know better than to get frustrated.

Then you fell asleep in the carseat. And you were beautiful.

easterbasket.JPGThe only milk you now drink is cow milk. Your almost endlessly energetic Dad looked tired when I returned from four days in Arizona last month, a trip I took largely to wean you. You didn’t ask for milk when I was gone, but you did turn into a “terrible two,” insistent and loud and hilarious. You made me laugh so hard the other day that I fell over on the ground. You were just giggling in the closet, SOOOOOO excited that you could wend your way through my shiny (“yiney”) costume skirts and cowboy shirts.

Sylvan colors. Notice that he doesn't have a crayon in his hand. Too distracting.  You seem to be somewhat unique among one-year-olds in your eating habits and abilities. At school, Birth to Three, and when other parents see you eat, the response is, “He’s such a good eater,” which means, “Whoa, he sure can put it away.” You regularly finish your peas, bananas, crackers, Cheerios, or cheese and look up at the purveyor of snacks expectantly. “Please, Sir,” you plead in your little British accent, “can I have some more?” Often, when I peek in on you at Birth to Three, the other tots are done with their snacks and are off rolling balls or pushing toy vacuums while you sit at the table, looking up and requesting, “Cracker.” You’re a bit of a bottomless pit, undoubtedly because you burn off 23,412 calories with your daily running, bouncing, dancing, running, spinning, bouncing, and running activities.

Keep running, but work on running in a straight line. We’re going to enter you in the All-Comers meets this July. Ah, Oregon, where you only have to be one and a half to enter your first running race.


A few quotations from Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., 1922-2007

Posted by jonesey on Thursday, 12 April 2007, 8:27

The Earthling figure who is most engaging to the Trafalmadorian mind, he says, is Charles Darwin — who taught that those who die are meant to die, that corpses are improvements. – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Slaughterhouse-Five

Listen. All great literature is about what a bummer it is to be a human being. – Kurt Vonnegut, “Cold Turkey”, In These Times, May 12, 2004.

My uncle Alex Vonnegut[...] taught me something very important. He said that when things were really going well we should be sure to notice it.

He was talking about simple occasions, not great victories[....]

Uncle Alex urged me to say this out loud during such epiphanies: “If this isn’t nice, what is?” – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Timequake

I say in lectures in 1996 that fifty percent or more of American marriages go bust because most of us no longer have extended families. When you marry somebody now, all you get is one person.

I say that when couples fight, it isn’t about money or sex or power. What they’re really saying is, “You’re not enough people!”

Sigmund Freud said he didn’t know what women wanted. I know what women want. They want a whole lot of people to talk to. – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Timequake

My sister Allie in real life, which for her lasted only forty-one years, God rest her soul, thought falling down was one of the funniest things people could do. I don’t mean people who fell on account of strokes or heart attacks or snapped hamstrings or whatever. I am talking about people ten years old or older, of any race and either sex, and in reasonably good physical condition, who, on a day like any other day, all of a sudden fell down. – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Timequake

I have one heck of a good time. Listen: we are here on Earth to fart around. Don’t let anybody tell you any different! – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Timequake

God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut.

Sylvanisms: Memory and Language

Posted by julie on Wednesday, 4 April 2007, 12:34

Please click on photos for full effect (especially with the first one).

Sylvan celebrates THE Master of ScienceChris completed his thesis last month, so Sylvan celebrated having Daddy back! I think he’s rather dapper wearing nothing but a rolled-up ladies’ vest.


On Saturday, the three of us (yippee, Chris is back!) ordered burritos, played in the park, went to a birthday party, and donated some items to a non-profit thrift store that assists homeless cats. They adopt out spayed and neutered cats with all of their shots from the store. The cats lounge on top of bookcases and hide under racks of jeans. On Saturday, over forty cats prowled the store, no small feat for any place, especially one this small. Contrary to what you might expect, the store does not smell like a litter box; they’ve rigged some good ventilation. Anyway, Sylvan’s been there once before, probably two months ago. As you might expect, he loves the place – lots of cats, most of whom are just dying to be touched, unlike our shy, prima donna cat. I drove up to the store on Saturday, parking directly in front of it. Sylvan looked out the window and immediately said, “Tdat,” which means “cat.” That’s right, Mr. Memory, this is where the cats live. So much for thinking toddlers don’t remember anything.

Yesterday, to celebrate his 18 month and 22 day birthday, Sylvan was diagnosed with the dreaded PINKEYE along with ear infections in both ears. “Moderate to severe,” said Dr. Diehl, whom we met for the first time but who lives exactly one block from us. When the doctor slid the end of the otoscope into Sylvan’s ear, Sylvan said, “buhd,” which, translated, means “bird.” Just as Sylvan spoke, Dr. Diehl starting to whistle, which is just what Sylvan’s regular doc does when she’s introducing the otoscope: “Listen for the birdies.” Sylvan remembered, and he was ready.

Connor takes Yael to the drive-inThis is our friend Connor and his date, Yael. I think Connor and Sylvan resemble each other, especially from the noses up, so, of course, I think Connor’s adorable. We see Connor once a week if we’re lucky, usually along with a load of other toddlers and adults at Birth to Three. I’ve always considered Sylvan to be relatively internally focused at big gatherings, moving from toy to toy while ignoring the people. However, I showed Sylvan this photo, and he said, “Connor.” Yup, that’s your friend Connor, Mr. Smarty.


Sylvan loves vehicles and heavy machinery. Trucks, backhoes, helicopters, and airplanes are a few of his favorite things. A recent addition to that list is “moga-dycles,” which makes me smile. I think that’s his first four syllable word.
Sylvan the clean frogMy mum was here when Chris traveled to Savanna two weeks ago. She became “Gamba.” After she bathed Sylvan one evening, he really wanted to wear his frog towel from my cousins Jeff and Kath. “Wrap, wrap, bug” he insisted (Oh, come on, he’s close. It could be a bug). This has become an after-bath ritual now. Chris wrapped him up the other night and said, “You’re a frog.” Sylvan looked at him and replied, “Wibbit.”

My “first” grandmother, Sarah, who lived downstairs when we lived in Memphis before I was two, will really appreciate Sylvan’s latest pronunciation. He has used the word “down” for a while, pronouncing it with Chris’s and my broadcast news non-accent. But, in the past few days, he’s started saying “daa-uhn,” two syllables and all. I’m encouraging it.