Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It's a Twofer!

Okay, if you don't do southern California amusement parks, you might not get that... Or maybe you will, and I've just insulted about 95% of the country. Guess I'll find out later...

So, if I haven't posted in two months, I might as well make two posts now, right? So, yes, that's right, there are TWO new posts on my blog!

This one is just some fun Nathan stuff. I feel as if I may not have been focusing on correcting his speech as much as I should. Jonah enunciated things fairly well by the time he was this age, but Nathan still has some major slurring going on. Granted, every child is different, but I've been lax nonetheless and need to correct that. In any case, it does from time to time make for some fun Nathan quotes. That, and the fact that he'll talk nonstop, regardless of whether anyone is actually listening, which can lead to him making sure he has your attention at very unusual points in his monologue. Plus, he's just plain nuts.

Both of our boys are into the typical "boy shows", if you will. Pokemon, super heroes, Ninja Turtles... If it has running, jumping, explosions, and/or really cool weapons (that never kill or really even injure anyone) that's their kinda thing. Incidentally, did I spell injure correctly? My spellcheck says yes, but, that doesn't look right... Oh well. One common element to these shows is special attacks. They may have different names, such as powers, or abilities, or super moves, but whatever they call it, you know it when you see it.

The boys and I will wrestle in the living room from time to time (mommy is kind enough to allow this provided we don't break anything or anyone). They of course work together to try and beat me, which is always a fairly obscure goal which is often accomplished after they've given me the directive "Okay, now you stop fighting and let us win." They also enjoy showing me their new special attacks, which often involve a short run then in some way pummeling me with most or all of their body at once, at which point I'm expected to fall down. Recently however, Nathan came up with a new special attack, and decided it was time to try it out. Jonah had (I think even legitimately) knocked me over, so I was flat on my back on the ground. I try and keep an eye out for both boys, to be sure that they're only pummeling me and not one another, so it occurred to me that Nathan wasn't within arm's reach. I didn't think about it too much or too long, because Jonah was about to take advantage of the fact that he'd gotten me down by jumping in the air and landing on me with his bony posterior.

All of a sudden I hear Nathan say something in the other room, then I hear him running. It didn't immediately register what he said, as I was now dealing with the end result of being landed on by a gravity propelled bony posterior, but it quickly sorted itself out. "Running attack!", that was what he'd said! Which meant he was doing a special attack, which meant he was about to... And it was right about there that I managed to cock my head up, crown to the floor, to see Nathan leap fully off the ground to fly directly over my body at a full sprawl. Had I been sitting up, this would have really hurt for both of us. In this case, it was about to really hurt for him, as he was headed straight for my bent knee. Fortunately I was able to grab him by the waist as he flew over, pushing him off to the side in such a manner that he merely grazed the knee, bounced off and rolled onto the floor, and ran back into the office to do it again. And again... And, again...

When Linens'n'Things went out of business last year, Sunny made a trip through to look for any particularly cheap sale items that we could actually use. I don't know what all treasures resulted from that trip (not many, I do think), but I do know that she came home that day with new sheets for the boys' beds. Since they had perfectly good sheets, these did not really enter the rotation right away. Actually, they didn't enter the rotation until about a week ago. Sunny decided to go ahead and wash them and start using them. That day was particularly warm, and there was a good amount of laundry to do (we've been very busy lately, and away from the house a lot), so only one set got washed, and it ended up on Nathan's bed. I hadn't really noticed when I went to put the boys in bed that night, and neither had Jonah. Nathan, however, was walking into the bedroom directly in front of me, going on and on about something (probably whether or not there would be spider shadows, or telling me he wanted to stay up a little while longer), when suddenly he stopped in mid sentence.

"I haves new sheets! I haves new sheets, and a new pillow!", he exclaimed as he was climbing up onto his bed. "Daddy, I haves new sheets, and a new pillow!" At this point Jonah, who was already in bed, propped himself up to take a look. "Hey, he DOES have new sheets and a new pillow!" I assured Jonah that he did as well, and they'd probably be on his bed tomorrow, and explained that it was only a new pillow case, not a new pillow entirely. Nathan, in the meantime, was sprawling out on his new sheets. "Ooooh, they're so com'furble! Daddy, they're SO COM'furble!" He repeated this a few more times as I tucked them both in and turned out the lights. I told Sunny, because I thought it was cute, then didn't really think about it.

The next morning Sunny got up earlier than I did (not unusual). When I got up she told me that Nathan had already been awake, and when he saw her the first thing he told her was, "Oh, mommy, my new sheets are SO com'furble."

Who knew the way to a kid's heart was through new sheets.

Had more, but this is long enough; I'm tired, and Sunny and I are going to watch Bones before bed.

Addition, Jonah Style (and a curiosity)

Just a short post (why not? After all, it's only been two and a half months!).

Jonah has been doing basic math for quite a while now. I'm not talking about counting, he's been able to count to well over one-hundred, and more or less properly understand the concept of a thousand, since he was about four and a half years old. I'm talking about addition. One day he randomly started throwing out some addition questions. "Is 2+2 4?" "Is 2+4 6?" "Is 3+5 8?" He doesn't always get them right, but he's usually within a difference of one. He didn't pick this up on Sesame Street, so we weren't sure how he figured it out exactly, or what his method was. This was over a year ago, if I remember correctly. We've tried different times to help encourage him into larger problems (he's fairly comfortable adding together single digits), or other things like subtraction and basic multiplication, and he'll pay attention for a little while when we try to explain something, but he loses interest fairly quickly. I assumed (and still do) this is because he's using his own little private Jonah method, and our textbook methods don't quite mesh.

Well, for some reason today he finally decided to share his method with Sunny! She then had him tell me again how he does it after I got home. He said it was "a new way to count." Then he explained to me that 4+4 is 1 2 3 4 5 1 6 2 7 3 8 4, so 4+4 is 8. Using this method, I can see why moving beyond adding your basic single digits could get cumbersome! I'm impressed that he seems to have come up with this on his own; he obviously had a system he was using, because he was right most of the time, and I don't know anywhere he could have learned this system from someone else. I'm also a bit worried though that when it comes time for him to study math he's going to get frustrated by learning to do it a different way. Though, I suppose all he'll really be doing is adding new steps to his system. Once you learn about numeric places, his single digit system will still apply. And of course the more he does it, he'll just start to memorize basic facts. So, maybe I'm concerned over nothing.

The second thing I wanted to mention is something I'm not sure yet if I'm concerned about or not. For a couple weeks now I've randomly noticed a feeling like something is crawling on my leg or foot. The first few times I did the typical frantic swatting and flailing as if it were a bug, only to discover nothing was there. Now it's happening so frequently that it's fairly annoying, but I generally dismiss it as the "phantom bug", rubbing at it to make it go away, not out of a concern that something is actually crawling on me. It's not an itch, or a pain, or that feeling you get when you cut off the circulation, but it happens fairly often (probably ten times now since I've been writing this post) and almost always in my right leg. It doesn't seem to matter if I'm sitting or standing. I'm trying to decide if this is something I should eat the copay to go talk to my doctor about, or just live with it. Feel free to share your thoughts on the matter, or send links to terrifying medical journal articles about things that sound similar. Even if it's not helpful, it might be amusing.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Oceans, and Boats, and Whales, Oh My!

Since he was quite young, Jonah has known about the story of Jonah and the Whale. Most often when he got a gift as a baby or toddler it was one of two things: something related to Noah's Ark, or a whale. The former was due to people's confusion regarding his name. It was one of the biblical characters having to do with water, that much they remembered. The specifics, obviously, were a bit more vague.

The older he got, the more people loved to tell him about Jonah and the Whale. Why they thought telling a boy named Jonah a story about a person named Jonah getting thrown off a boat and being eaten by a big fish was a good idea, I'm still not sure. But it was a scenario that played itself out many times. It actually got so bad that there were a couple times he would start crying when someone just tried to hand him a whale toy (of which we had [have?] several).

Now, I can't fault any individual for wanting to tell him the story. It's certainly not a problem telling a child a bible story, especially considering the story of Jonah is often one of the first bible stories a child learns. This was only an issue due to the fact that it happened so often! So, as we've had our various devotions and whatnot I've typically avoided that story. Not hard to do, when there are so many to cover! But recently, Jonah has started asking about it. When we've done our evening devotions (which isn't nearly as often as it should be, I confess) every once in a while when I'm looking for where we left off he'll ask if we can do Jonah instead. I had wanted to start in Genesis and just go straight through (skipping lineages and most of Numbers, of course, considering the age group), so I usually tell him that we'll read about that when we get there.

Tonight I decided that instead of reading more about Isaac, we would read from Psalms. So, I asked the boys, "Do you know what we're going to read tonight?", expecting to hear "Abraham" or "Maybe the flood?" or something else we'd discussed recently. I should have expected what I actually did hear, which was Jonah piping in with, "Um, well, maybe we should read about Jonah." Since I was jumping out of order anyway, I thought about it a bit. This pause apparently tipped the boys off that I was considering it, because Nathan then jumped in with, "Yeah, we'll read about Jonah! THEN, we'll read about Nathan!"

Now, we had of course told Nathan that he was named after a prophet. But no one ever made nearly as big a deal about it as they had with Jonah. Unfortunately, I wouldn't be surprised if most people didn't even remember that Nathan was a prophet, much less which and what he did (rich man, poor man, stolen sheep... It'll come back to you). The story of Jonah is easy to tell, and Jonah is the main character. Nathan on the other hand comes into play in someone else's story, and not at a time that I particularly want to discuss with my three and five year olds.

So this evening, we read the first part of Jonah. I tried to explain to Nathan that there were other things we needed to read before we could read about Nathan. I'm pretty sure he didn't understand, but he accepted it and we moved on. I'm pretty sure this isn't the last I'll hear of this though...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Goings on

Jonah has been asking a lot lately about getting a pet. He knows we can't have a dog, even though he really wants one (Sunny is specifically allergic to dogs, in addition to the generally bad allergies the rest of us have). So he's asked about snakes, and fish, and similar things. It used to be a little comment here or there, like, "If we ever had a dog, maybe I could play with it.", or, "Maybe someday we'll get a fish in our room." Lately though it's become specific questions, like, "Do you think maybe we should get a [random pet here] sometime? That would probably be fun."

After dinner this evening, Jonah posed a question, "Daddy, what pet do you want that mommy won't let us have?"

It took me a brief moment to process the question, but as soon as I did, I couldn't help but laugh out loud (literally, not the cheesy web slang thing). I had to quickly control myself, both because Jonah would not understand why I was laughing, and if I laughed much longer Sunny would have hit me. Then I had to explain that it was not just mommy that wouldn't let us have a pet, I wouldn't let us have a pet either. I told him that pets make allergies worse, and we all have allergies.

"But, I don't have allergies!", he said. "Maybe I could just have a pet."

"Then you would be the only one who could pick up its poop everyday, and the only one that could feed it everyday, and the only one that could play with it...", I tried to explain.

"Not if it was a snake! You don't pick up snake poop, do you?"

I had to think about that one for a moment. Flashbacks of freezing pinkies and feeding them whole to our snake when I was a kid rushed through my mind, and I actually had to think about whether or not we cleaned out the snake poop. I finally answered, "Well, we can't have a snake because mommy is afraid of snakes." Which is true, by the way. I just left out the part where mommy also would not want us to keep baby mice in the freezer next to the waffles and ice tray.

"Oh," he said, with a goofy grin, "heh, just like Indiana Jones."

"Yep," I said, "Just without the whip." Got a dirty look for that one...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Four Years of English

Alright, I've been sitting on this because I wanted to write something up about Nathan since the last post was rather Jonah-centric, but if I don't write these out I'm going to forget, and then it'll never happen.

It's really interesting to see how the English language develops in children. And having two of them close enough together to remember, it's interesting to see the differences between individuals also! Jonah has definitely built his own choice vocabulary, and there are certain words and phrases he uses a lot. Some of them I know where he heard, and others I haven't a clue. Sunny and her sisters pointed out that he has started saying "Niiiice!" about things he likes, which is apparently something I say often (I never noticed). Then the other day at church, I heard him use some word (I really wish I could remember what now) that was a full five syllables! And he used it in the proper context! I have no clue where he got that one.

It is also interesting to see how his mind works at times, and how he chooses to utilize his vocabulary to express his thoughts. Most people just think of these as those cute mistakes little kids make while they're learning. But I've noticed with Jonah that in a lot of cases, it isn't that he's trying to repeat something he heard someone else say and getting wrong, he's trying to use the words he already knows to get a concept across. For instance, instead of saying (pardon the incorrect grammar) "Me and mommy are going to the store, and you too!" he'll say "Me and mommy are going to the store, and also you!". "And also you" is one I hear him use all the time.

Anyway, that's probably far more interesting to me than it is to you :) And to be clear, I'm not just talking about Jonah (even though I pull my examples there). I've heard the exact same things from other kids his age. It's just very interesting to see how they develop and build their language skills :)

Anyway, I recently wrote down a couple different Jonah Stories, if you will. Things I found rather humorous and thought I'd share :) Enjoy!

Sunday School

I recently started teaching the youngest Sunday School class. We have three students in that class: Jonah, Lauren, and Nathan. One Sunday we finished the lesson a little early, everyone went and got a drink and no one needed to use the bathroom, so I let them play with some toys until Sunday School was over (about five minutes). This was a little interaction between Lauren and Jonah that I started writing down (Nathan was busy vacuuming).

Lauren: I'm going to play with the dollies. Here, -handing one to Jonah- you hold this. You'll be the brother and I'll be the mommy.

Jonah: Wait... Are we playing house?

Lauren: Yes.

Jonah: But... I don't like House.

Lauren: Well, fine, I'll just play with... -pause, then a little sad- I'll just... -another pause, and this time begging- pleeeeaaaase?

-- Jonah just stared at her for a little while, giving this some serious thought --

Jonah: Well... okay...

-- At this point Jonah's tone and posture changed suddenly. He'd obviously realized something he overlooked before --

Jonah: Wait, I'm the... shouldn't I be the... What if I'm the daddy, and you're the mommy.

Lauren: Yeah! I already said that! Put the baby down -pointing at a crib-.

Jonah: Okay... Here, like this?

Lauren: Yes, because she's a girl.


At School

After dinner tonight I asked Jonah what he had done today. I didn't actually expect to get much of an answer, but I was wrong.

So, what did you do today?

Jonah: Well, I colored. I was on the blue team today, and so was Lauren. And... another person, but I don't remember the name.

Me: Oh. Was it a boy or a girl?

Jonah: A girl. -thoughtful pause- And I played a lot with E'gar.

-- At this point I instantly thought of Men in Black, "It was like he was wearing a suit, an E'gar suit..." --

With.... Edgar?

Jonah: Yes. E'gar. He's kind of funny sometimes. He's as funny as me! One time there was a bug on him, but it wasn't a spider. It was just a little bug, with gray stripes. And its legs were little like this, so that's why it's called a little gray bug. And I was like, get on his shirt! But it didn't, and I was like...

-- I missed a couple things here when I realized, "I gotta write this down..." --

Jonah: And we were on the -very punctuated with a pause- "grass, area".

Me: Oh... Is that what they call it?

Jonah: Yes. It's the "grass, area". They call it that because it is a place with grass on it. It just has grass. It's not a lot of grass, just a bunch of grass. So because of that they call it the "grass, area". There's only one "grass, area". That's why they call it that. But you have to go through the gate to get to the "grass, area", because there's a gate. You have to go out the door, and then that way, and then through the gate to get to the "grass, area".

He went on explaining this concept and a few specifics of the "grass, area" (yes, he punctuated and emphasized it that way every time he said it...) in some greater detail, but I'm afraid I wasn't able to get those all down. Ask him about it some time, I'm sure he'd be more than happy to tell you.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Jonah and Pokemon

If any of you read my wife's blog you're no doubt up to date on all the latest antics of our boys. Jonah is loving going to school two days a week, and Nathan is having all sorts of adventures in learning the English language, and getting into everything, and tormenting his brother, and, well... being Nathan.

Jonah has taken up another interest as of late: Pokemon. His grasp of numbers and basic strategy is finally strong enough that I decided to have a go at teaching him the basics of this card game. And he picked it up fast! Much faster than I expected, to be sure. It was rough going at first. During the first two hands he was quite sure I was insane, and that this wouldn't be any fun at all. But then he started getting it. And then he started getting competitive. And then even devious...

I was pleasantly surprised to see his grasp of numbers was beyond even what I had thought it was. He easily and quickly identified all of the numbers between 10 and 90. However, when he drew Arcanine and put him into his hand (we play open handed right now) his eyes grew wide for a moment, then he asked me, "What's that number?" "That number?" I asked. "Oh, that's 100." This blew his mind, for two reasons. First, he immediately recognized that having a third number made it very big, and to him (as Sunny and I recently discovered) 100 embodies everything huge and vast ("There must be a hundred of them! Or maybe a hundred and thirty!"). Second, that meant Arcanine was huge, and "really hard" (as Jonah puts it), so he was now well situated to waste me.

Then the unthinkable happened. He had already played out his Growlithes. Now, as he was well aware, but some of my readers may not be, you cannot use Arcanine without Growlithe. All three of his had already been discarded. This is when I learned something else about my son. He really doesn't like to lose. I saw some faces during the next ten or fifteen minutes that I had never seen before (and I've seen quite a large range of his vast set of facial expressions).

Anyway, this didn't turn him off to the game. He still likes to play every couple days or so. This evening when I got home from work he had somehow found a large assortment of those erasers you can fit to the end of a pencil in various colors, about six colors, and must have been around forty erasers, and he had them all arranged on the coffee table. He explained to me that they were his deck, and started going through the list of what color was what type of thing, so on and so forth. I think we'll have to see about getting him some actual pokemon toys for his birthday this year...

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Google Chrome

Alright, I figure it's natural that when I start a new blog, the first thing I should do is talk about whatever the latest cool thing is that caught my attention. And today, that's definitely Google Chrome!

If you haven't heard yet, Google has released an open Beta of their own web browser, Google Chrome. I've been playing with it while I can today, and I have to say my first impressions are positive. There are definitely plenty of bugs that will keep me from making it my default browser today, but I'm sure those dedicated Google engineers will be sifting through thousands of bug reports to get us a new build by next Monday. Can't wait to see what they give us next!

For a little "under the hood" perspective, they posted a very cool comic that explains some of the fundamental design concepts and practices they've put into the work. I'll definitely be watching to see where this one goes, and to see what other people take from this, if anything. (Oh yeah, didn't I mention? It's open source!)