Monthly Archives: August 2006

Ready For His Closeup

I believe Eli has finally absorbed the lessons of television, specifically reality shows: we all deserve to be on camera. He has taken to introducing us to his studio audience. “Oh, hi! I’m Eli. These are my friends, mom and dad. We’re playing Candyland.” Occasionally I can tell what show he’s auditioning for: “Oh, hi! Welcome to Sesame Street!”

He is often playing for his audience, real or imagined. Just a week or so ago he got done with dinner early and climbed down to play. He went into his room and returned with his etch-a-sketch-like drawing pad. He was walking slowly, not doing much, but as soon as he was back in the kitchen and realized that we were watching him, he began scribbling furiously on the pad.

On Mythbusters, Tory once claimed that Adam Savage had always acted as if a camera crew was following him and filming his every move at all times. Now we know who Eli will be when he grows up. Man, I’d really hoped that Eli wasn’t going to lose his hair like that.

Please Make an Appointment with My Secretary

The phone rang at 7 a.m. this morning. It was my dad calling to wish Stephen a happy birthday. By 7:30, I was in the shower and Stephen was shaving his head at the sink. We were talking about something. I don’t remember what. Eli wondered in with the phone. Apparently it had rung and we hadn’t heard it over the shower and us blabbing. It turned out to be my mom, calling to wish Stephen a happy birthday. (My parents are slow with the birthday cards so we get wake up calls to fill in the gap!)

But here’s the point:

My two and a half year old answered the phone, recognized who was calling, and carried on a five minute conversation without our knowledge.

And then he totally didn’t want to give up the phone to let Stephen get his birthday wishes. When if was finally my turn to talk, my mom said that she wasn’t sure that she’d called the right house because Eli sounded so grown up. But finally he called her Mumsie so she knew that she had the right number.

So if you call, don’t be surprised if Eli gets to the phone first. Just be prepared to talk for a while cause he’s not turning loose of that phone until he’s read you every book and explained every puzzle in his room.

Sunday Drive Up a Mountain and Back

Our friend Rachel confessed that she’d never been to the state park on top of Monte Sano mountain. “What?” we said in shock and disbelief. “Get in our car! Yes, now. Right now.”

So it was that we made our way up the windy roads that lead to Monte Sano state park. It’s extremely pretty up there, with some nice overlooks and trails and that sort of thing.

But that wasn’t what interested Eli. What interested Eli was the playset.

Hm. That doesn’t quite give the flavor of the thing. Let me try again.

What interested Eli was THE PLAYSET.

The playset was huge. It had multiple levels. It had slides sprouting from it like tentacles. It had a fake rock wall and a bunch of bars to swing from and oh so many places for Eli to fall and smash open his head.

He, of course, was all about the climbing.

We helped him climb at first, but at one point I was distracted by a girl who couldn’t have been more than a year and a half old, and who had wandered up the stairs and onto the platforms and then to the tallest slide where she proceeded to slide down. Misty caught the girl and returned her to her very surprised mother. When I turned around, I discovered Eli had been climbing all by himself.

He did think the sliding was good, too.

We had a lot of fun on Monte Sano. While Eli climbed and slid, Rachel, Misty and I swung and played on the see-saw. There was only one thing that made the afternoon less than perfect. I discovered that the playset was not just a place of fun. It was also a purveyor of lies.

In case you can’t quite make out the assault against science in general and the IAU in particular, let me show you more clearly.

I shall be writing my park ranger about this.

Two Stories About Eli

It’s been a while since we’ve written about Eli, so here are two stories to make sure you get your RDA of Eli.

He now goes to preschool two days out of the week. This year preschool includes a “music class,” which appears to involve playing music at the toddlers and having them move around. One day here recently they were playing some sort of Duck-Duck-Goose-like game which involved them standing up and going around the circle of toddlers. When Eli finished his turn of circling, the next kid was too shy to do the same. “It’s okay, you can do it,” the teacher told the toddler, patting him on his arm.

Eli promptly walked over to the toddler and said, “Come on! It’s okay!” He, too, patted him on the arm, and then proceeded to take another turn around the circle. When he got back to the kid he again patted him on the arm and said, “Come on!” before continuing around the circle. The third time, the kid got up and went around the circle with Eli.

I see a cruise director job in Eli’s future.

Second story. He was outside playing with Misty when he spied a line of ants. There was nothing for it but for them to sit down next to the ants. “Hello, ant,” he would tell each ant in turn. “What’s your name? I’m Eli. This is my friend, Mom.”

Friday Night Videos: Bad Trip

matchbox twenty: Unwell (2003)

How do you write this band’s name? Matchbox 20? matchbox 20? Anyway, I will admit that a YouTube flash movie is not the best way to see this vertiginous video, but it’s what I’ve got. Look past Rob Thomas and note all of the nifty things going on in the background. Plus the CGI version of the dog is adorable, even if his skeleton is a little scary.

P!nk: Just Like A Pill (2002)

Wait, rock stars take drugs? And occasionally write songs in which drug use is a metaphor for something else? As for the video itself, the running scenes crack me up every time. At least all the refugees from the Laurell K. Hamilton novels get a brief dance scene at the end.

Finished Project, New Project

Cramer’s Blue Morpho
This is the second of about nine possible Wee Beastie bugs that I have. I think it turned out pretty swell.

I have begun set up for the next project. This is the taped together chart that came in a 19 page booklet. The chart is, thankfully, bigger than the finished piece.
This is the pattern for The Fortunate Traveler. (Yes, that spelling is correct.)

And if that’s not enough of a chart, here’s some more:
This is the detail chart for the words on the bigger chart.

I estimate that in about six months I’ll get tired of working on this monstrosity and move on to a smaller, more manageable Terry Nolan Wee Beastie.

Carbo Loading

I’ve tried to be cool about how we’re rearing Eli. Goodness knows there’s enough guilt available from external sources for me to be manufacturing my own. But his eating is driving me crazy.

It’s not that he doesn’t eat. He has a healthy appetite and, like toddlers everywhere, is quite willing to snack his way through the day. It’s his five-loaf-a-day bread habit that worries me. Oh, sure, he eats other things. Cheddar cheese. Hummus. Cheddar cheese dipped in hummus. But above all, he loves bread products.

“I needa biscuit. No, I needa waffle. Crackers. I need crackers.”

Next to a blanket and a pacifier, crackers calm him down the most. When we put him in his carseat, the first thing he asks for is more crackers. It’s as if he’s training for a race.

I try not to worry, honest. Misty tells me I’m being silly. The internet tells me that this is normal. And yet, there it is, the guilt of Damocles, hanging over my head.

When you become a parent, you get a free subscription to Guilt magazine. You don’t have to subscribe! It shows up at your house regardless! And you can ignore them. You can let them pile up in an unused corner of a closet in a guest room. It doesn’t matter. One day you go to fetch something out of that closet, your eye falls on the uppermost issue in the stack, and wham. Guilt. The titles of all of the articles in the magazine are emblazoned on the front cover, screaming out at you in fear-mongering-point text. “IS YOUR CHILD EATING ENOUGH VEGETABLES?” “HOW YOUR TODDLER’S LOVE OF CARBOHYDRATES WILL CAUSE IRREVERSABLE DEATH!” That sort of thing.

Right now my hope is that, when Eli becomes an adult, there are organized bread-eating competitions. I can see him now, a large strapping lad of two-and-twenty, beaming at everyone who just watched him down two entire loaves of Wonder Bread, nutritiously-empty crumbs trickling down his shirt.

Indian Festival

Will’s mom, Chrissy, called yesterday and invited us to go to the Indian Festival in downtown Huntsville today so we headed over there for dinner and some traditional Indian dancing. It was at the Von Braun Center so we also managed to stop at Big Spring Park going in and coming out. The food was pretty good and the dancing was great with lots of traditional music. The playgroup dads all got to see one another and Eli had great fun with Will and Mackenzie. Big surprise there. The only down moment was when I went to get my henna they were closing up that booth for the night. I may never get the hennaed hands of my dreams. I did however get some groovy pictures.


Go here to see the rest of the photos.

Object Permanence is Maybe Not So Permanent

I’ve been fascinated with object permanence ever since I first heard about it. The concept itself is simple: when something is out of sight, do you remember it? Little babies don’t. They have no concept that a thing continues to exist when they can’t see it. It’s only as they age that they start to realize that. Then they start getting upset when mom is gone, so it’s something of a trade-off. Jean Piaget is the guy who first did scads of experiments on this phenomenon.

Now Cognitive Daily points out an article further refining the concept. A Lancaster research team has investigated how well babies can follow an object when it passes behind another one. They tested a group of four-month-olds to see if they would be surprised when an object passed behind something and re-emerged, and how the length of transit time or the size of the occluding object would affect this. Cognitive Daily has a great summary of the results.

Bremner et al. conclude that four-month-olds’ ability to see motion as continuous depends both on the time and physical length of occlusion. If an occluder is too long, or if the duration is too long, then babies appear to see the balls on either side of the occluder as two independent objects. Or perhaps even this is too strong a claim: perhaps what infants perceive are continuous motions — the babies see the connection between motions if they are close enough, either spatially or temporally, but otherwise, the motions are deemed unrelated.

Cognitive Daily also has nifty graphics to explain the experiments, so I encourage you to go read their write-up.