I read a post in one of the caregiver blogs that talked about a two-year-old’s vocabulary. I tried to document this kid’s at 22 months, but just can’t keep up. The other night she slept over. For a late afternoon snack she had cheerios and milk. It takes a fairly long time, as each banana slice gets a thumb through it and occasionally the cereal is eaten with the fingers- piece by piece. When she finally neared the end she sat up and said,

“More? More?” Well of course there’s more. I sprinkled new honey-nut cheerios on top of the milk still in her bowl and she took a spoonful. She chewed for a moment, then raising her eyebrows she looked at me.


Yes they are indeed.

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2 photos

Two quick photos:

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Yeeha! Puddles!

Her mom found great snow pants for her and we all hoped for a decent snow fall so we could use them. We finally had an inch or two and my granddaughter was excited to get her snow pants and purple boots on. We went over to the park and she did enjoy the snow. The brick walk that runs over the canal was bare, though. There were ducks, of course, but a few good puddles, too. The puddles gave us both a bit more joy. In the clip, my granddaughter actually says, “Yee-ha!” at about eleven seconds in. I have no idea where she learned it; could it just be spontaneous?

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a found cartoon

Let me be clear: This wonderful little drawing is not my work. I found the cartoon just as it appears here: lying in the street in a zip-loc bag.

I was walking to my car early Sunday afternoon and saw the bag on Spring Street at Cherry Alley. I realized it wasn’t litter from a few feet away; it was spread flat, and smoothed out as if intended for clear presentation. I slipped it into my pocket to review later. It turned out that I couldn’t wait long; after I started my car, I pulled out the bag and dumped the contents into my hand. It contained a small, folded, very stylish cartoon and a glass marble. My instincts told me the placement of the bag was intentional, and the method of random distribution only made the thing more endearing. I may replace it in an alley somewhere, but maybe I’ll frame it. I’m not sure.

After I ran my errands, I messaged the folks at Comic Swap and walked to Jack’s comic and Game shop on High Street. I asked if they recognized the style. I knew Comic Swap sold the work of a number of local cartoonists but wasn’t sure about Jack’s. Neither was able to shed any light on the work. I posted a snapshot to twitter, and it, too, resulted in no response.

The work is beautiful. Whimsical and gritty, I think the piece is just stunning. Stumbling onto it, finding it in the street, feeling like it’s a personal message – all these things just make this package a little jewel.

I don’t need to know who did it, but I’d sure like to let them know how much I like it. And I’d like to pass it on to keep the story alive, but the “thingness” of it is so wonderful I’m hesitant to give it up. Will posting on twitter or this blog help keep the story alive? Not sure. Will the post eventually reach the creator so they can ignore it, reclaim it, add some backstory, whatever? I have no idea. By all means, read it. Enjoy the drawings. If you recognize the style let that artist know about this post.

But by any and all means: Pass it on, and keep the story alive.

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twirling spaghetti

The question being answered quite clearly here by my granddaughter, is “what is the proper way to twirl long pasta with a fork: On the plate, or, against a spoon?”

Traditionally, foodies frown on using a spoon. The only time that pasta —say, angel hair— would be twirled against a spoon is if the pasta is in broth and twirling it arranges it neatly in the soup spoon. The spoon then carries the pasta to the mouth. But really, who cares? Isn’t the spirit of good food one of personal enjoyment? Tradition be damned?

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lost mittens

Mittens peaking out above a lamp shade.

Can you see them? The mittens? They’re drying on the lamp shade. Imagine a viewpoint that’s several inches lower; my granddaughter’s viewpoint. Pretty difficult to spot unless you know they’re there.

We’d been out romping in the first decent snowfall. Of course, after playing with snow, the mittens were wet. My granddaughter’s mittens are cute little knitted things, not insulated or waterproof, but enough to protect little hands during a short excursion on a 30° day. We came in as soon as I noticed how wet the mittens were. We took off our hats and layers of coats, and I draped the wet mittens on the inside of the lampshade, then went to make lunch.

Five hours later we were getting ready to leave. My daughter stopped by and we talked about the day, the three of us played together, then it was time to rummage through the big pile of blankets, sweaters, hats and coats to find clothing for the trip to the car. The monkey hat was easy, but the mittens are small; I couldn’t see them anywhere. Static could have them stuck to any of the blankets that draped, with the coats, over the old playpen, but they just weren’t there.

“Where are those mittens?” I muttered.

My daughter was about to help, then stopped and said, “Dad, did you see that? They’re here on the lamp.”

What my daughter had seen that I hadn’t was my granddaughter spinning halfway around across the room and stabbing her finger at the lamp. “She pointed to where you put the mittens.”

She hasn’t said mittens nor does she say lamp, though she’ll point to it and say on or off. At just over 18 months old, my granddaughter understood that I couldn’t find the mittens and she helped. I’m truly amazed. I’m thankful that we have the time to notice and appreciate the behavior. It really makes me wonder what else my granddaughter notices and understands even though she doesn’t talk about it? What is she thinking when, during a nap, I notice she’s awake and staring off into the distance?

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Toddler seated at a card table using pencils and crayons.

It seems like it’s all of a sudden that at eighteen months my granddaughter has radically increased her vocabulary. She calls a horse a ‘neigh-neigh’, a pig an ‘iggy’, and a turtle is a turtle. She asks for ‘more’ and clearly says when she’s ‘all done’. She has a new found passion for ‘oh-nits’ which, considering the shape, may make more sense than ‘do-nut.’ But we’ve had a sense that she understands far more than she says for a few weeks.

Well over a month ago my granddaughter was on the floor paging through a book while her mother and I talked. I noticed a picture on the page she was looking at and on a whim said, “Honey, can you show your mom where the basketball is?” Without hesitation, she put her finger on the basketball that the boy in the drawing was holding. Several weeks ago, before a walk, I said, “Honey, could you go in my bedroom and get the umbrella?” After hearing that, my granddaughter seemed to perk up and toddled through the apartment and into my darkened bedroom. She came out hugging the large umbrella, one a few inches taller than she is. We put a small hairclip in her hair to help hold the hair out of her eyes. It gets pulled out pretty regularly and if I see a clip on the floor I pick it up and clip it to my shirt pocket or lapel till I get a chance to use it again. Last week she was sitting on my lap letting me brush her hair back. I held her hair with one hand and looked down at my shirt pocket. There was no clip. I looked on the end table and my desk without getting up and didn’t see a clip anywhere. I half muttered, “Where is that hair clip?” and my granddaughter turned her head toward me grunted as she stabbed a finger up at my shirt pocket. I hadn’t been able to see it because my pocket had flaps covering the clip. My granddaughter understood what was going on, and helped.

So I’m thinking she understands far more than I had been giving her credit for. That makes so much sense; haven’t I always thought that my clearest thinking came without words? Haven’t I solved the toughest problems without an inner conversation? And hasn’t my granddaughter learned to spend most of the day with someone who doesn’t really talk that much?

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Giant lego blocks in a small tower.

My granddaughter lets me play with her giant legos. I have fun playing with her, though I hesitate to say ‘we’ have fun since she usually takes apart the stuff I build. Except for, oddly, a house for the dogs in her dog collection to live in. And I think that over this holiday with her at her mom’s, I have some work to do on it.

A simple lego dog house with several plastic dogs. She hasn’t really jumped on the blocks. I build stuff, she takes it apart. Again and again. Till yesterday. Yesterday my little 18-month old just built the little tower at the top of this post. Other than watching her skills putting the pieces together and finally making something I see as something, I was taken by the simple fact that she builds with the pieces upside-down. Or, truth-be-told, I build with the pieces upside-down. Who is to say? They’re her blocks, so I guess she is. Which brings me back to the work I have to do. Obviously, I need to turn the blocks in the doghouse over. For some reason, I think she’ll be checking on Monday morning

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three years and counting

Three figures walking into an autumn sunset.

Facebook just showed me this image otherwise I probably wouldn’t have noticed the anniversary. Three years in the new position and I’ve settled in nicely to the changes. I think this job is a keeper.

Grand daughter smiling in a wooden sleigh at the park.I’d written several paragraphs in celebration, then again in explanation, but really, a photo says it all. So on the left is a quick shot from our last all-staff meeting:

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Toddler hugging two sock monkeys.

I’ve written about my sock monkey and his offspring before. When my granddaughter started trying to sneak into my room just to see him, I thought it would make another cute post. On the way to wordpress, though, memories washed over me and the nature of this post changed. Maybe the nature of today’s holiday?

Way back when I was around the age of 5, or 7, definitely in the 1950s, a neighbor three doors up from us brought me this sock monkey. Her name was Mrs. McCord, her husband was Frank and a daughter maybe ten years older than I, was Carol. Carol grew up and married a fellow named Wally and Wally went on to drive me to the hospital when I broke my arm. Frank and his wife were the first on our street to own a color television, and they invited my sister and I to their house one evening to watch a new show called Daniel Boone in living color. All of that is pretty impressive and even though I’ve always been thankful, I don’t think I ever passed on the depth of my gratitude. Frank and his wife may have passed on, Carol is probably in her mid-to-late seventies, and I have no idea where she’d be.

That’s sad. The thought that washed over me was a waking dream of me driving to Pottstown with my granddaughter and my monkey, finding Carol, and introducing my granddaughter and reconnecting Carol with her mother’s handiwork. My monkey comforted me on many scary nights and entertained me often when I was stuck inside. Carol would have to forgive the tiny bits of paper towel and glue around the monkey’s eyes. That’s where I glued a paper mask when my monkey was the Lone Ranger. Carol would hopefully forgive the poor sewing job this 9 or 10 year old did patching holes that I wore through the sock skin. And the string on the arms from when I tried to turn my monkey into a marionette. It took a lot of trying before I realized I needed strings on the head, too, otherwise he just hung, inactive, from his wrists. Poor thing. I didn’t mean it to be torture.

So thank you, McCords. You were wonderfully giving neighbors. I hope Carol has grandchildren of her own so that each can have a sock monkey. And I hope somehow you can feel the joy it gives me seeing my little one with one of your mother’s selfless gifts.

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