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TBD is three years and five months old, and does not want to nap any more.

We're still adjusting to the new schedule, which includes an afternoon hour's "quiet time" and an earlier bedtime, but aside from low-resource evenings and the occasional mid-afternoon crash, it seems to be working out. Which we like because it means more afternoon for errands and more evening for ourselves.

Achievements unlocked this month: riding 12 blocks on a balance bike to the wash ("river") and back, folding a square paper into quarters ("small squares"), drawing crossed ("window") and parallel ("walking sticks") straight lines, using "Aw, man" as a release for disappointment (such as anyone getting sent back down the Candyland path), "reading" familiar picture books to self, and seeing figures in clouds.

There have been more and more demands for invented stories ("Tell me about my X day," including a running serial about meeting Ponyo in daily life,** who then disappears before any grownup sees her,* as well as episodes of meeting Daniel Tiger), and more demands to play rather than read. We parents are starting to be used as a sibling substitute: "Say 'That's mine'" is the signal for the start of a practice wrangle. Ditto the cats.

Monster Threat Level is currently low -- which is our way of measuring anxiety levels: more monsters "show up" when unsettled. OTOH, during a discussion about whether ghosts are real, after being told that TBD could decide whether to believe they are, said, "I don't want them to be real. Like Daniel Tiger." -- and there's been much less anxiety about them since. Overall security is high enough that the parent of a friend is sufficient accompaniment for a half-hour ramble in the forest; on the other hand, being left alone with grandparents for a 10-minute errand meant a few days of clingy worries of abandonment.

More interesting is how TBD keeps making connections between things: for example, took the fact that we've seen ant nests in broken street pavement and the fact that broken roads get repaired, and asked how the road workers move the ants out of the way during road repairs. A few days after a discussion about how bicycles can't go inside schools and libraries because the wheels are dirty from being outside, asked why wheelchairs are allowed.

And then there's number abstraction: if there's two cups on the table and I put down another, when asked how many does that make, we get the answer not by counting the cups but own fingers. (We still having trouble keeping track of which objects have been counted past around 7, though.)

Also: TBD can get enough focus on a given task that it can be hard to catch attention.

So, um, yeah. This is a preschooler with an interesting brain. Not to mention one who's always talking, talking:

TBD: "Why my shadow so long?"
Me: "The sun is lower in the sky. It's setting earlier and earlier."
"It means I'm getting bigger."

"Why we people?"

"Why some tigers and some cats wear clothes?"
(struggling with the concept of story animals)
(note, btw, the way in these three "why" acts as a verbal)

Janni: "Would you like some yogurt?"
TBD: "Yeah. That would cheer me up."
(this may be an Elephant & Piggie reference)

"It's not funny, said the fart."

"If we have no furniture, we say, :gasp:! We have no furniture!"
(this came totally out of the blue -- no idea where that came from)

"If I want to be a moon, I will rise."

"Let's take this man to the hospital. No, we're not ready yet. We have to do the dishes."
(it took 10 minutes for the "ambulance driver" to finally take me there)

Growing, growing, always growing.

* Rule #1: grownups never disbelieve Ponyo was there, and are always disappointed they missed her. "Aw, man!" *giggle*

** The fanfic impulse starts young.


Subject quote from "Oda a Diccionario" ("Ode to the Dictionary"), Pablo Neruda, tr. Margaret Sayers Peden.


Maps of things:

National Geographic has a website that serves you printable versions of any USGS quad. Each quad is packaged as PDF with a lower resolution index plus four pages that each print on letter-sized paper. (via, with other useful map widgets in the comments)

Generated fantasy world maps. (via)

An illustrated flowchart of which Shakespeare play you should see. (via)

Subject quote from "On the Gorilla Trail," Mary Hastings Bradley (mother of Alice Shledon/James Tiptree).

Let's see if I can do this consistently, by way of posting here more often: a post for Monday Poetry:

A Farmer's Boy, Anon.

They strolled down the lane together,
The sky was studded with stars.
They reached the gate in silence,
And he lifted down the bars.
She neither smiled nor thanked him
Because she knew not how;
For he was just a farmer's boy
And she a Jersey cow …


Subject quote from "Doun Fair Dalmeny’s Rosy Dells," James Smith.


Read the Wednesday! Even if it's a little late! Because I have lately been reading, a little:

The Compass Rose by Gail Dayton, a reread -- I have ~50 pages to go, intending to do the whole trilogy at once. For values of "at once" that include "in 15-minute snatches every other night."

The Mister Rogers Parenting Book by Fred Rogers -- This is not the only parenting advice book I've read, of course, but the first I've wanted to mention: humane counsel that rings True in almost everything (the chapters on disabilities and adoption are problematic, though the problems are more from omission than by commission). Overall, many good reminders with nuggets of useful new advice. Why just getting to reading it now? Because I only just learned about it, and anyway its focus is 3-6 year olds.

But the bulk of my reading has been more of Encyclopedia Britannica 11e. (1911), which easily chunks into piecemeal times -- am ~½ through volume 11 (Franciscans to Gibson) after a digression into articles on Dutch history. The number of articles that bury the lede by assuming you already know what the subject of an article is, and are only there for more details, bemuses me.

Plus, sometimes, a little poetry here and there.


Subject quote from "The Captain’s Drum," Benjamin Franklin Taylor.

TBD is three years and four months old. Hello there, obvious preschooler -- where'd you pop up from? And when did you start asking multipart "why?" questions with subordinate speculations?

Achievements unlocked this month: somersaults, putting on velcro'd shoes (sometimes asking whether the first one is going on the correct foot), undoing buttons (still working on fastening), unlocking the front door with keys, knowing that if you have 1 of something and then 2 more that's 3 things, and making simple puns ("Uncle Bret's name sounds like bread -- Uncle Bread!").

We can reliably enumerate up to 8 objects now, before losing track of which have already been counted, and sometimes up to 11. We're still working on counting to 20 (the mid-teens are confusing). Not clear whether any new letters are recognized, but some numbers seem to be.

Longer stories are now in play: TBD is starting to request and sitting through a chapter book with limited pictures, if read in installments. (We started with a Junie B. Jones tale. 'Cause we found one at the bookstore, that's why.)

Play-acting now encompasses being a superhero while wearing a paper mask (you pick up a lot of those as a toddler - it's an easy craft project to decorate one). The main job of a superhero, btw, is to tell bad guys, "Don't be mean!" and if they don't stop being mean, take away their sword. Or sometimes put out the fire that's burning them -- games shift quickly around here.

We've been informed that the rule of the road is "Don't crash!" This is what police officers tell people when they stop them.

Talking, talking continues:

Janni: "What did you put in your underwear?"
TBD: "A flashlight."
"Why is there a flashlight in your underwear?"
"You do it."
"I don't want a flashlight in my underwear."
"I'm looking for someone who is lost."

(pointing to picture of a family eating pancakes)
TBD: "Lookit. They left the syrup open."
Me: "You're right. I wonder why."
"Maybe because it's hard to open."

(pointing to picture of ants carrying a slice of watermelon towards their nest)
TBD: "How they going to get THAT down [the small tunnel]? :laugh: Maybe they bite off little pieces."

"It's a rumblestorm. Why?"

"When you draw, you see what happens."
(that is, you find out what you've drawn)

"We're going to someplace." (sees me in the kitchen) "Uh oh, this is a cooking place. Let's go." (heads to bedroom)

So it goes.


Subject quote from "The Hosting of the Sidhe," William B. Yeats

Why we shouldn't bother colonizing Io: every time it's eclipsed by Jupiter, its sulfur dioxide atmosphere freezes out, only to sublime back into a gas when warmed by the sun. (via)

The biggest ant war ever is still going on right now. (via)

My brother-in-law gives a TEDx talk: introduction to the double-bass, including some wicked playing.


Subject quote from "Mount Vernon," Grenville Mellen. Yes, that's in Spenserian stanzas. Really.

Short, not at all shameful confession:

We've so far managed to raise a toddler to three thinking that Mickey and Minnie Mouse are the same character, named Mickey, who happens to sometimes dress like a boy and sometimes like a girl.

Said toddler currently prefers Mickey's femme form.


Subject quote from an anonymous Tartar song, trans. W.S. Merwin.

TBD is three years and three months old.

Achievements unlocked in the last month: drawing vaguely anthropomorphic figures (with recognizable if blobby arms and legs), mixing blue and yellow finger paint to get green then adding a large blob of red under it to depict a strawberry, an appreciation of Elephant & Piggie books, "Good job!" as self-praise, demands to be thanked for small courtesies, using kid chopsticks (hinged) to eat noodles, twirling spaghetti onto a fork, finding "On Top of Spaghetti" funny, throwing paper airplanes, and answer-shopping between parents. (So far, that last hasn't worked.)

TBD can reliably count to 13 aloud, and up to 6 objects (more than that, we start losing track of which have been counted). Distinguishing "shoulder" and "stroller" is still challenging, among other pronunciations. Eating out, we talk more with strangers, and more loudly. And demand attention. Very three, as an observer commented. The last two weeks, especially, much more boundary and authority pushing.

The "scary monsters" we've been evicting from the house during bedtime ("Go away, scary monsters, you don't belong here") have been augmented by robots and skeletons and, sometimes, Darth Vader. Also, lightning and thunder has suddenly become scary, requiring reassurance that we're safe indoors.

But most of my notes this time are, for once, talking, talking:

TBD: "Let's play {$cats} are the doctors."
Me: "So we'll have to wait a while for them to see us?"
TBD: "Yeah."

"I'm pretending I'm milk in the bottle."

"Let's go to the park. No, it's too late. Let's go back."
(this was narration of pretend play)

"Thank you, rain, for putting out fires."

Improvised smoothly to the tune of "Frère Jacques" as we watched restaurant tables being cleared, all lines sung twice:
♪ Dirty dishes
Where are you?
Rolling in the trolley
Clean them up ♪

As we're taking off, looking out the window:
TBD: "There's a park! Is there a big-big kid down there?"
Me: "There probably is."
TBD: "And he's looking up, and pointing, and saying, 'Mommy, I want to get on that plane.'"
Me: "You think so?"
TBD: "But he can't, because we're already flying."

"I need to run."

"When you see the mockingbird, you point out the mockingbird, because you're the Daddy."

"I don't like the meat in bacon."

*hands to face* "Oh my goodness, I don't like heat."


Subject quote from "To Autumn," John Keats.


Reading, meming, meming, reading.

Mostly, more articles from Encyclopedia Britannica 11th edition -- right now, working through volume 11 (Franciscans to Gibson), where I am now being edified upon by French Literature.

But I've also started Parnasus edited by Ralph Waldo Emerson, a poetry anthology published late in life based on his commonplace book. As such, it has a lot of extracts not marked as such, supplied with editorial titles -- on the other hand, he includes entire several long poems, including Comus. His taste is, to my surprise, quite palatable. It turns out he was lukewarm on Wordsworth:
Wordsworth has the merit of just moral perception, but not that of deft poetic execution. How would Milton curl his lip at such slipshod newspaper style! … No great poet needs so much a severely critical selection of the noble numbers from the puerile into which he often falls. Leigh Hunt said of him, that “he was a fine lettuce with too many outer leaves.”
Well said, Mr. Hunt, well said indeed. (Emerson devotes several paragraphs to the issue, suggesting a certain defensiveness with this opinion.)


Subject quote from "To the Virginian Voyage," Michael Drayton.

Three extraordinary things:

Many lichens are not a symbiosis of algae and fungi, as we've long thought: large numbers are a symbiosis of algae, fungi, and yeast. (via)

On June 20-21, Icelandic state television RÚV did a 24-hour live broadcast of a drive on the Ring Road, all the way around Iceland, to the soundtrack of a procedurally generated 24 hour remix of Sigur Rós's "Óveður." I caught parts of this livestreamed online, and had fun recognizing places I've been. The recording is finally up on the band's website: "Route One" Content warning: hypnotic Icelandic landscapes. (via)

Via All of Bach (previously): Der Friede sei mit dir (BWV 158).


Subject quote from "Everybody Got Their Something," Nikka Costa.

In lieu of a regular reading-day post, some picture books I've particularly liked over the past two years:

Goyangi Means Cat, words by Christine McDonnell, pictures by Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher -- One of the few adoption books we've found that really is entirely from the child's point of view: it refuses to flinch from Soo Min's deep grieving. (It is very hard to keep my voice from breaking up when I read this aloud.) Korean rather than Chinese adoptee, but close enough to be representation.

My New Mom and Me, words and pictures by Renata Galindo -- Almost as tightly child-POV as Goyangi, this features a domestic interracial adoption (probably foster-to-adopt), with the mother drawn as a cat and the child as a dog. It's also a little more upbeat. And, yes, adoption is about all parties learning how to be a new family.

Over the River and Through the Woods, words by Linda Ashman, pictures by Kim Smith -- Four families travel to the grandparents' house for a holiday dinner ("bring your favorite pie!"). The text itself is quietly quirky, with spot-on versification, but the pictures are a delight of diversity: one family has a gay marriage, two have interracial marriages, and one has interracial adoptees (twin east-asian girls). Representation for the win.

Moonday, words and pictures by Adam Rex -- One day, a girl wakes up to find that last night's big, full moon is even bigger, because it's in her backyard. For all I love the wackiness of Smekday and his illustrations for the Chu books, I think Rex is at his best with quietly quirky -- see also his recent release, School's First Day of School. (Bonus representation: it's subtly painted, but the girl seems to be an east-asian adoptee.)

Good Night, Gorilla, words and pictures by Peggy Rathmann -- An excellent bedtime book, simple enough for younger toddlers but with enough going on for older ones to still enjoy. A zookeeper does final rounds for the night, unaware that a gorilla has swiped his keys and is letting the other animals loose. See also Rathmann's much busier 10 Minutes to Bedtime, which takes place on the same street.

The Very Busy Spider, words and pictures by Eric Carle -- I do not know why, but I like this one more than anything else by Carle. Yes, it's yet another farmyard animal book. I still like it. Spider!

Mimi Says No, words by Yih-Fen Chou, pictures by Chih-Yuan Chen -- Not only does this navigate the tricky balance of toddler independence versus security, but it's the rare picture book in English with animal characters that don't code as white (the artist is Taiwanese). More translations from Asia, please.

Ling and Ting, words and pictures by Grace Lin -- Not picture books, but very early readers, specifically a series (four out so far) featuring twin Chinese-American girls who are very silly in entirely childlike ways. My favorite so far is the second, Not Exactly the Same.

Recommendations for more, especially early readers at the level of the Elephant and Piggie books, cheerfully accepted.


Subject quote from "Solsbury Hill," Peter Gabriel.

... a place for posting bits of fluff caught in my filters. Warning: I list "very bad poetry" among my interests.

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