So I've been busy making scrapboxes. Here are a few lined up along the top of Sylvie's bookshelf. Can you see Luke dashing up the stairs? (Click on any of these photos to enlarge them for a better look.)
Here is Sylvie enjoying "Sylvie Button," the scrapbox memorializing the nickname her brother has given her. It contains lots of buttons.
And here she is examing "Bonjour Paris," which features an actual t-shirt, her first pair of shoes, and a photo of her wearing the ensemble:
It would have been nice if the photograph of Luke's head was actual size here, so I could've superimposed the real "Read to Me" hat over its image. But I am mathematically challenged and unfortunately ordered the enlargement in the wrong size. Twice.
Last night at dinner, inspired by who knows what, Luke wrote his order down. He's never voluntarily written anything other than his own name and even that is usually done under duress. I was thrilled. I saved the crayon and everything. It's tough to make out but that says "chicken ok."
Sylvie enjoys How to Eat a Poem, one of the poetry books the kids got for Christmas. There are many terrific poems in this one, including a passage from the Inuit poem "Magic Words." This is my favourite bit:
That was the time when words were like magic.
The human mind had mysterious powers.
A word spoken by chance
Might have strange consequences.
It would suddenly come alive
And what people wanted to happen could happen
All you had to do was say it.
Wow, where did the time go? Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and all that. Holidays with small children turn out to be rather busier and much less relaxing than they used to be. They're a lot more fun, though.
During the past couple of weeks Sylvie has learned to say "goo gir" ("good girl") and has begun to sit upright on her own for extended periods of time. We have to surround her with pillows, though, because she has not yet grasped the concept of breaking one's fall with one's arms -- when she tires and falls over, she inevitably smashes her head on the floor. And if that happens too often, well, she won't progress much beyond "goo gir." I feel a little guilty about the "good girl" thing, actually. I guess I've said that phrase to her a lot. When perhaps I should have been saying "smart girl" or even, I don't know, "you go, girl!" I'm worried I've already impeded her development as a strong feminist by valuing pleasant behaviour over her intellect or her brawn or whatever. At least her first words weren't "pretty girl." Which they very well could've been. I bought her a party dress for Christmas:
And those are black velvet Mary Janes. But they won't stay on her feet. None of her shoes do, and I take that as a sign that there will be no glass slipper stories for her, thank you very much. She will stand on her own two (chubby and delicious little) feet.
Here she is in a nice tough bear suit:
She looks so much like her father there, it's hilarious. I have a baby picture or two of his I must scan and upload.
Okay, so mostly I just wanted to post these pictures of Sylvie in this new hat. (It's a sickness, I tell you, this constant putting-of-things-on-one's-children's-heads as a form of entertainment.) But for the past couple of nights after Sylvie has fallen asleep, Luke and I have been cuddling up and reading The Wild Things. In the past he's often asked me to read aloud whatever book I happen to be engrossed in to help him drift off to sleep. This is the first time one of these "books without pictures" has kept him awake. Thinking it'd be too advanced for Luke, I'd purchased it to read myself, not expecting much -- I never do, when a writer tries to put his or her own spin on a classic -- but this is good, really good. Eggers has perfectly captured that kind of impulsive wildness that you often see in kids, particularly boys. And the conversations Max has with the monsters -- they're funny and very childlike in a realistically childlike way, not in that fake and sentimentally childlike way kids often converse in, in books. It's difficult to put your finger on the difference, but they say the kinds of things you'd hear kids say to one another if you followed some around for a little while and actually listened to them.* Max's thoughts ring similarly true.
Since I'm reading the book with the boy, his dad gets to take him to see the movie this weekend. I'm jealous. (One of us has to stay with Sylvie.)
*Disclaimer: I do not advise picking a group of children at random and then following them around to test this theory. You might get arrested.
So although I did my best with Luke, he just informed me that he intends to be a video game designer/tv show writer when he grows up. In the above video, taken when Luke was maybe two, I see now that instead of inspiring him, I was torturing the child with the profession I'd prefer he choose.
Some mothers might think twice. But not I. No, instead I got pregnant twice. Sylvie is the perfect opportunity to try again.
See how I'm already making better progress. She doesn't mind the hat at all. (Please ignore the hideous wallpaper in the background. I haven't torn it down yet as I'm holding out for a full kitchen reno. The ugly wallpaper in the video is now gone, gone, gone.)
Plus, although this might sound sexist, nowadays it seems as if doctoring (as the old folks around here call it) is a profession often better suited to women anyway, especially if bedside manner matters to you. All of our doctors (our family doctor, Luke's pediatrician, his gastroenterologist, all the fertility specialists we saw, and the ob-gyns who delivered both children) are women. Our family doctor is a plump, white-haired woman in her sixties. When Luke was just starting to talk, every time he saw a grandmotherly-looking woman he said, "Look, a doct-ah!" Which I just loved. (Do you remember that old riddle about the boy who was injured in a car accident with his father, who was also severely injured? The surgeon enters the operating room and exclaims, "I can't operate on this boy! He's my son!" and you're supposed to figure out how that's possible. We were told that one in grade three -- and I remember being stumped.)
(Note: In a later post I shall discuss my strange penchant for photographing my children with hats, wigs, and a variety of household objects on their heads. For now I will say only this: I blame my mother.)
Happily, Sylvie is still too little to tell me what she wants for Christmas. Therefore this year I have free rein to purchase mainly medical-themed toys for my potential neurosurgeon:
A giant plush neuron is actually something she could cuddle up with now. The red blood cell also looks kind of cuddly. I'll probably get Luke the giant dust mite --he's put stuffed animals on his list against the recommendation of his allergist. (Two others that interest me personally are the bookworm and the swine flu.) Sylvie will also be able to wear these tiny scrubs right away. And this plastic doctor set will have to do for now -- she's liable to bash herself in the head with real metal pieces. And while a trip to the ER would certainly be educational, I don't want to risk the loss of any brain cells.
Perhaps I should use this brain gelatin mold on her rice cereal. It's never too early for shape recognition. And instead of a bib, she can wear this vinyl anatomy apron. This 5-layer wooden puzzle of a girl's body is something she could conceivably begin to chew on during the next few months. And it's never too soon to start scribbling in a Gray's Anatomy coloring book.
I like these 3-D anatomical puzzles so much I'd happily display them in my living room: this human muscle and skeleton model, this Bio Signs brain & skull and this
frog -- they're a lot more visually appealing than a pile of Fisher-Price and Hot Wheels crap.
I already have the art version of this book and it is full of fun, age-appropriate activities: Science Play!: Beginning Discoveries for 2-To 6-Year-Olds.
So what if it's not intended for children under three. The way Sylvie wears that shower cap -- clearly, she's very advanced.
Posted by Stephany Aulenback on November 03, 2009 at 09:09 PM in Books, Bright Ideas, Child Psychology, Childhood, Compendium of Terrible Parenting Advice, Education, Failed Projects, Family, Games, Health, Holidays, Little Things, Luke, Science, Stuff for Kids, The Baby, Toys | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
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This is Sylvie (right) with her first friend, Eden. This photograph really has nothing to do with the rest of this post, except both babies were in tow when Eden's mom and I stopped at the library this morning.
Once there, I picked up some books I've had on order: The Country Child and A Traveller in Time, are both by Alison Uttley, although The Country Child is autobiographical and A Traveler in Time is fiction. I was inspired to do so when Maud linked to an interview with A. S. Byatt in which she discussed some of the children's authors that influenced The Children's Book. I would have known without being told that E. Nesbit was a huge influence due to having read Julia Briggs' biography of her, A Woman of Passion, but I'd never even heard of Uttley. (A sidenote: Maud found James Wood's opinion of A. S. Byatt as “a very ordinary grown-ups’ writer and a very good children’s writer” ludicrous. I agree if you're assessing Byatt's whole body of work but I think if you're only examining The Children's Book, there's a ring of truth to what Wood says, although in my opinion Byatt is a great children's writer. While Maud's review is more astute than Wood's, the parts of The Children's Book that have stayed with me are the stories ostensibly written for children. And the one about the girl and the little people and the giants is downright haunting. I'm sure James Wood meant that statement as a kind of insult but I'd much prefer to be a great children's writer than an ordinary one for adults.)
I'm on a bit of a Hilary Mantel binge since Wolf Hall: A Novel and scored both Every Day Is Mother's Day and Fludd: A Novel. I'm kind of blown away by how different Mantel's books are one from the other.
I am planning to read every children's book about families Babelbabe recommends over here (except for the ones I've read already) and last week I started with Caddy Ever After, which I found both charming and funny. This week I picked up another by the same author, Hilary McKay, Indigo's Star. Bb also recommended The Saturdays, which seems awfully familiar now that I've got it in my hot little hands. I think it might be one of those long-lost childhood favourites.
Also, on the recommendation of my friend Ed, I picked up Matthew Kneale's When We Were Romans. Reviews of this call it extraordinary.
And last but not least -- in fact, this is the one I'll probably read first -- Selected Stories of Robert Walser arrived. Lydia Davis (my idol) mentioned him in her discussion of flash fiction with Sarah Manguso and I'm planning to track down and read everyone she mentioned. Since flash fiction is sort of my thing.
Here are some more gratuitous shots of the babies. (Psst, Kat and Gramma, click on the photos to enlarge.)