Just had the coolest math conversation with Robin…

Just had the coolest math conversation with Robin. TMBG taught him the joy of a basic addition game with us: What’s tuba plus tuba? What’s fourba plus fourba? Today he took it further. He asked me what 8+8 was. Then 8+9. Then 9+9. Then he asked me what made 19. I said 10+9. He asked me what made 100? I said 80+20. He said, “Also, 90+10.” Then he said, “Does 90+1 make 100?” Wrong, but an interesting insight into how he’s thinking about numbers.

Just had the coolest math conversation with Robin…

Just had the coolest math conversation with Robin. TMBG taught him the joy of a basic addition game with us: What’s tuba plus tuba? What’s fourba plus fourba? Today he took it further. He asked me what 8+8 was. Then 8+9. Then 9+9. Then he asked me what made 19. I said 10+9. He asked me what made 100? I said 80+20. He said, “Also, 90+10.” Then he said, “Does 90+1 make 100?” Wrong, but an interesting insight into how he’s thinking about numbers.

NaNoWriMo Rebel

I wrote a 2000 word outline for roughly 6000 words of future story today. Apparently my method for doing that kind of detailed outline is a first-person narration. The sort of narration somebody who isn’t a very good storyteller might give in a conversation. Whatever works, although I’m a bit concerned that it’s kind of dull and introspective. Maybe that’s just a living example of ‘show not tell’?

Now I’m sitting up knitting and decompressing. Robin didn’t fall asleep until 12:30, despite a bedtime of 10. Tomorrow I need to write another 2000 words of outline and I still won’t be caught up! Because that’s how crazy NaNoWriMo is.

A writer’s lessons from board books

Robin has finally —finally— realized that if he brings us a book, we’ll read it to him. And when we’re done with that reading, he takes the book and gives it to us again. And again. And again. Until we run away or distract him. He balks when I try to get him to say or signal ‘book’. He’s giving us a book, we damn well know what he wants, why should he learn a new mechanism? If we try to suggest a different book or even hint we might not read him the book he’s demanded, he cries like an addict being denied his fix. On the other hand, when he brings us a book, or we ask him to find a book (often by title) he does this delighted little full-body shudder. He prefers to sit on the floor so he can look between the book and our faces, but sometimes he’ll consent to sit in our lap so we can whisper certain lines in his ear. 

His favorite books are, in order:

  1. Secret Seahorse
  2. Goodnight Moon
  3. Busy Doggies
  4. My Many Colored Days
  5. The abridged board book version of Hop On Pop, specifically the pages about walking.
  6. Whatever is to hand, as long as we’re not denying him what he’s asked for.


Secret Seahorse is his clear favorite. He has good taste! It’s a very sturdy book that has endured his love much better than Goodnight Moon (2 damaged copies floating around) and My Many Colored Days (second copy hasn’t fallen apart– yet). And it’s a beautiful book– Claire Beaton does unique, amazing work, constructing elaborate landscapes out of textiles. We’ve picked up several other books she’s illustrated, including another one written by Stella Blackstone– but none of them have quite the appeal or magic.

And, having read Secret Seahorse six or seven times a day for the last week, I finally feel confident discussing why the book works so well! It’s the writing. It’s a board book with a plot. Most of the board books I’ve seen are just lists of things– doggies in different situations, or rhyming words arranged amusingly, or an introduction and a conclusion tacked onto a sequence of, say, colors, moods, or animals (and let me say, I do very much love My Many Colored Days and another one, Rainbow Rob). Or even dinosaurs, to reference another Blackstone/Beaton teamup. Goodnight Moon is a dreamy, surreal, spot-on description of a small child drifting to sleep, with pictures and words that create a lulling rhythm; everytime I finish it I want to snuggle under covers. (“No! Read it again, mama!”) The rhythm almost feels like a plot but it’s not, really.

On the other hand, Secret Seahorse could be a template for all sorts of adult books. Told in the first person, our unnamed protagonist discovers an interesting situation. At first it seems awesome, but it soon gets beyond her. She’d like to catch up, so she first seeks out the advice of mysterious figures. She doesn’t understand their response (but a keen observer will notice that they give her exactly the answer she needed) and so goes on a journey. In her travels, she encounters amazing things, one, two, but neither are what she’s looking for. Finally her exploration is balked by a barrier she can’t pass– and in great literary fashion, the true barrier is her own fears, rather than any external obstacle. But she overcomes her fears with the help of her curiousity, and discovers on the other side of the barrier everything she’d hoped for, in a fashion she totally didn’t expect.

Great stuff. And it rhymes, too.

Yes, the fact that I can divide a board book into a 3-act structure amuses me to no end.

It’s official.

Kevin’s been very picky about what qualifies as ‘talking’ from Robin. Imitating sounds we make as we provide him with food (like ‘cheese’)… nah, didn’t count. Occasionally shouting ‘ya-ya-ya’ when he desperately wants mama’s attention, but it’s so hard to be sure there because it’s so rare….

But at last he has been satisfied: Robin’s first word is ‘doggy’.

Hurricane Robin

Last night, we dug out some foam alphabet blocks that had been stashed somewhere last time we cleaned Robin’s room. And we learned a new facet of his personality.

We would stack the blocks up.

Robin would knock them down.

We’d make a neat pyramid.

He’d scatter it.

We’d stuff all the blocks in a container and he’d stomp over (and somehow it was stomping despite being on all fours) and pull them all out.

From across the room, he’d charge a four-block tower like it was an affront to God, or at least him, and whack it over, and then pick up the individual blocks and toss them aside.

He didn’t laugh. He stuck out his little jaw in an expression of grim determination.

Later, he was on his back on the floor drinking his bedtime bottle. I stacked all the blocks into a mega-tower. He looked at it, and waved his feet toward it, as if he could kick it over from the other side of the room. When that didn’t work, he took his bottle out of his mouth, and stared meaningfully at the tower. Then he popped the bottle back in again, as if to say, “I’ll be coming for you later.”

And he did. He scattered those blocks far and wide. Then he threw them, for good measure.

1 pm and already a big day!

In the last 24 hours, Robin has started pulling himself up in his playpen regularly and easily. As has become usual for him, he first hit this milestone three weeks ago or so, did it a few times and then stopped. But in the last day he’s started doing it again at the drop of a hat.

He’s also figured out how to navigate the single step between each room of our house, up and down. He crawled over to the staircase and peered up and down it thoughtfully before backing away.

He also got to pet a live vacuum cleaner as it roared next to him! He was nervous but petting it was the only way forward.

And he got to try some edamame, since previous exposures to soy haven’t caused any problems.

Currently his favorite meal is a slice of bread, torn up, and a chunk of cheddar, cut into little pieces. I try to mix it up some with apples and grapes and blueberries and broccoli but it is only bread and cheese that gets reliably devoured.

copycat (baby-anecdote)

So, I’m doing Rock Band singing and I gave him the Logitech microphone. for the PS2.  While I was setting up with the controller he was trying to grab it from me. As soon as I picked up my microphone he went over and grabbed his. And then he spent the whole song looking between me and the tv and his microphone. Heh heh heh.

You take what you want!

Robin’s been picking things up (and putting them in his mouth) for a while now. But over the last couple of days he’s become a lot more aggressive about reaching out for stuff he wants. He does amazing gymnastics (for somebody who can’t roll over reliably yet) while his diaper is being changed to find something to grab, and when he’s sitting in his chair at the table, well, stuff on the table within reach is gonna get grabbed.

He’s more interested in the bottles I drink out of (my water bottle and lately, the ramune I got from Ranch 99) than his own, for grabbing purposes. He likes juggling his pacifiers. I’ve been trying to arrange some situations so that his newfound ambition to GRAB! is incentive for him to, say, practice sitting up and rolling over more.

I still haven’t found the charger for the camera. I’ll have some pictures to post soon… some of them are rather old. See Robin Grow!

That one tiny guy, age 4 months

Yes, today, Robin is 4 months old, or so they tell me.


I took this picture a week or two ago. He is still a serious baby. But he does have a burgeoning Harrison Ford grin. I tell him, “Babe, cultivate that. It will serve you well in the future.” [simage=36,160,y,right]

Robin was grouchy yesterday. Very grouchy. He spent part of the evening flopped over my shoulder, which he usually hates, but last night he was so miserable he just laid there. My theory is early teething, but it could be a growth spurt. Or both! Last night, after midnight, while Robin was grouching loudly (so, today, really), Kevin came stomping downstairs and swooped down upon the baby rice cereal and the baby spoons I’d picked up earlier. I’ve been meaning to get spoons for a while because a.) he likes to put things in his mouth– well, he likes us to put things in his mouth (he’s still working out how to use his own hands)– and I figured it’d be good to get him used to spoons and b.) he’s been giving me very meaningful looks as I eat lately (which is also why I got the rice cereal… for eventual use). Very meaningful looks– when Kevin gives me those looks, I know he’s about to steal my food, and when other people do, I usually end up offering them some. It’s spooky getting those looks from somebody with no teeth.

Anyhow, Kevin mixed up some cereal according to the package instructions for Baby’s First Feeding, which means it was formula thickened with just enough cereal to not slip off the spoon, and Kevin fed it to that one baby because, as he informed me, He’s Four Months Old Now (which is the minimum recommended age for rice-cereal-thickened-liquid to be administered).

Enjoy the pictorial.