Good golly it’s been a long time since I did one of these! The 98th episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast features some stuff I recorded back in April and then follows it up with an update from this week! It’s not a complete update, but you’ll get the deets on both kids’ birthday parties, the swingset construction and more!
Guys, first off, Kite Day was more fun than I expected. Kites are rad, even cheapo ones from the drug store (just don’t get those crazy-long tails tangled up).
I talked about the Charlie & Lola cartoons back in PPNC #84, but here’s a look at the artwork I mentioned.
Charlie and Lola art sample
Birthdays! Cakes make kids even cuter. It’s a law of nature.
Here‘s the list of tips I came up with for throwing a solid pre-schooler birthday party. It’s pretty much the best thing you’ll read all day.
And finally, behold the glory of a more organized garage!
The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 97 reflects back on a year of Jack, his many developments in recent weeks and our struggles to get our daughter to sleep in her own bed.
The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 91 covers a gnarly stomach bug, all this snow and video game fun times with the eldest child.
If you’re curious about why The Protector 2 was so disappointing, read this.
Here’s Patton Oswalt’s routine from Werewolves & Lollipops on birthdays that I mentioned. It’s probably NSFW.
Here’s the video I mentioned of my doing Alphabet Sounds when Lu was a baby. I wrote about doing this with Lu back in 2011.
If the Retron 3 sounds like something you’d be interested in, check out the following link on Amazon: Hyperkin Retron 3 Video Game System for NES/SNES/GENESIS – Gray
Check out the Babes In Toyland post I wrote here.
WebMD has a solid post on Fifth Disease.
Littlest Pet Shop Season 1 gets a big thumbs up from me!
The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 77 covers Lu’s first two weeks of school, the difficulties of going to the grocery store and a few words on the NFL-based child abuse cases.
The cartoon I mentioned is called Peep And The Big Wide World.
Speaking of arts and crafts, Tomie dePaolo’s book The Art Lesson is a personal favorte. Above you can see the cover as well as the title page of my version which he signed back in 1991. The song I mentioned is called “Flowers Are Red.”
Above you can see the delight that is the giant Mr. Potato Head.
And here’s the Hot Wheels ramp I was talking about. It’s called Hot Wheels Mega Jump Track Set. I’m stoked to get my cars here and show her the whole set-up.
If you’re unfamiliar with Gamera, this is him. Or is it a her? I have no idea. It’s a flying turtle. I’ll have post called Daddy Daughter Movie Mania up with a specifica review about this and the 60s Batman movie.
My apologies for the lack of episode last week and this one’s lateness, but life tends to get in the way of all my internet aspirations. Anyway, the 27th episode of the Pop Poppa Nap Cast runs down our recent vacation to Ipswich, gives an update on our house hunt and gives the Pop Poppa Of The Week to one of my favorite authors!
Tangled is a reimagining of the Rapunzel story. It’s pretty cute, but just about everything loses its cuteness after the 300th viewing.
I thought I’d done a post about my dislike of PBS’ Sid the Science Kid, but apparently I hadn’t. Basically, no other kid show bothers me this much. Even though the general message is “science is cool,” something I completely agree with, it just seems incredibly dumb and filled with one-note characters. Bleh.
Here’s the Geek Mom article about the new season of Sesame Street! Thank Henson for new content.
Jill Thompson’s excellent The Little Endless Storybook and Delirium’s Party: A Little Endless Storybook earned the Pop Poppa Seal Of Approval. I also recommend reading the actual Sandman comics either in regular trade form or the exquisite Absolute editions.
And, finally, Brad Meltzer easily earned the Pop Poppa Of The Week, not just for writing a series of novels I’ve gotten hours of entertainment out of, but also reminding me how important it is to tell your story to the world. Seriously, check out The Book of Lies, it’s pretty darn great. I wrote a review of it a few years back over on UnitedMonkee, check it out!
Thanks for your patience once again regarding this holiday-belated episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast. The 26th episode covers the Labor Day Weekend, taking care of house business and my thoughts on gender and how niceness comes into play.
You can read Catherine Newman’s complete article, titled “I Do Not Want My Daughter To Be ‘Nice'” over on The New York Times site.
Finally, here’s Kevin MacArthur (Steve Rannazzisi) with his daughter Ellie from The League also known as this episode’s Pop Poppa Of The Week.
The 23rd episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast deals with keys, phones, potties and more!
Above you can see my keys and the dog leash swivel clip I was talking about. Like I said, any clip-type key chain will work!
Lu thought THIS guy was Superman! I’m gonna have my work cut out for me with this kid.
If you have a kid at potty training age who also likes Elmo and Sesame Street, do yourself a favor and buy Sesame Street – Elmo’s Potty Time.
This week the Board Book Photo Album – Black gets the Pop Poppa Seal of Approval!
And congrats to Elmo’s dad for earning the Pop Poppa Of The Week!
The latest episode is all about movies, sleep and some of the adorable things are darling daughter has started to say.
A Talk Boy commercial to help jog your memory.
If you like the sound of the My Neighbor Totoro (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) pick it up through this link, it helps the site! Below you can see a picture of Professor Kusakabe with his daughters Satsuki and Mae.
I’m really sorry about the janky version of this episode that went out. I was in a rush pre-vacation and didn’t check to make sure it was the way it should be. Here it is as originally intended!
In this episode we prepare for Disney World while also talking about a super fun party with friends, the waning days of Wizard and how that experience has helped me refrain my bad days now. Oh, and fun with baby talk!
I was actually right that a pidgin is a combination of two languages! I know this because I looked it up on Wikipedia!
If you’re curious to see what other offerings Golden Books have right now, check out the official Random House website.
If you’re interested in The Spirit Is Willing check it out on Netflix Instant, that’s what I did. If you want to read more about it, check out my review over on UnitedMonkee.
This week’s episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast recaps a recent visit from my parents, awards the Pop Poppa Of The Week to a person I actually know and compares raising a toddler to Enemy Mine. Enjoy!
If you’re interested in a little more information on our sign language process, check out this post I wrote a while back.
Here’s the Monkeying Around The Kitchen post I wrote about Barnaby’s.
I also wrote about Enemy Mine over on UnitedMonkee three whole years ago.
If you’re interested in learning more about this week’s Pop Poppa Of The Week Justin Aclin, check out his blog, but also be sure to buy his books Hero House and Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Defenders Of The Lost Temple. If that’s not enough, listen to his recent interview over on Matt and Brett Love Comics where, yes, he does in fact mention me.
And, finally, the drumming video:
One of these days, I’ll get the hang of coming up with posts on a regular basis for Pop Poppa. One of the problems I have in coming up with topics is that parenting a child who’s not even two yet is both the same every day and always changing, which means while a topic might sound interesting one day, it’s changed a few days later or I’ve become so used to it, it doesn’t seem worth writing about. Anyway, I figured now was as good a time as any to update readers on where Lu’s at with a few things here and there, many of the topics I’ve written about previously or talked about in various Photo Diary posts.
We’re still working with the cloth diapers and wipes and my wife does that laundry every other day. As I mentioned in a somewhat recent post, we’ve been trying elimination communication which is still a little tricky. Lu doesn’t mind using her potty and sometimes we can get into a good rhythm where I get her on the potty every hour or so and she holds it until then, but sometimes my timing’s off. She’s also not really doing the sign to let us know when she has to use the bathroom which makes the whole process more difficult. Still, she’s doing well and I think she’ll catch on to the sign soon.
Speaking of signs, we’ve actually had some pretty impressive leaps in that department lately. Lu’s had the ones for “eat” and “all done” down for a while and we do our best to accomodate her when she uses them so she knows that we’re listening. She’s also got “hot,” “cold” and a few others down. The biggest surprise was when she started using the sign for “cat.” She’s been able to actually say “kitty” for a while now, so we figured there wasn’t much point continuing to use the sign, but out of the blue a few weeks back she started using her version of “cat” and does it while saying “kitty” which is pretty neat. She’s also talking pretty well and learning new words all the time, my personal favorite so far is “touchdown” which she says while raising both arms straight up in the air.
The kid walks like a champ. She’s getting pretty good at going up and down hills and is even learning how to use steps while either holding a railing or our hands. For a while, she had no interest in hand holding and would yank hers away if we tried, but she’s getting better at that too. She still gets a little antsy when we’re out running errands or at the grocery store, but even that’s getting a little better, though I’m also getting faster at the latter.
Lu still breastfeeds, but only in the morning, to go to bed and when she wakes up in the early morning. Though our freezer is packed with homemade baby food, these days Lu either eats what we’re eating or gets her own meal when we eat out. I’m been surprised to find that she’s more interested in spicy foods than my wife or I would have thought and only seems sensitive to temperature (which is why we taught her the signs for “hot” and “cold”). She tries just about everything, but isn’t the biggest fan of leafy greens and some other vegetables, but I think she makes up for it nutrition-wise thanks to her intense fruit addiction, I can barely keep the stuff in the house and even had to move our fruit bowl up high because she was taking bites out of everything from plums to oranges.
Naps have never been an exact science with us, though I have gotten her into a pretty regular schedule of going down for about an hour between 10 and 11AM. If I’m lucky, I get some work done and a shower in in that time. If I’m even luckier, when she wakes up crying, I can pick her back up and get her to fall back asleep. She usually wakes up crying if I try to put her back in her crib, so I’ve been placing her on a blanket on the floor in the living room and going about my business. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. At night, she’s going down between 8 and 9PM and sleeps through to about 5:30AM. At that point I bring her into bed and she nurses until she falls back asleep. Just when I think she’s starting to sleep in more or switch things up, it turns out to be a fluke, but I still hope to get to the day where she’ll let her fall asleep for naps and the like on her own instead of fighting like crazy to stay awake.
One of my favorite things Lu seems to be learning is an appreciation of music. When it’s on she dances around and really seems to enjoy herself. She likes when I play guitar and is even starting to learn the rhythms to the songs a few of her toys play. My wife even signed up for a weekly class that the two of them are going to take that revolves around different music and instruments. It’s becoming pretty evident that the kid has good timing.
I try to limit the amount of TV watching in a day and have been doing an okay job of it, though some days are better than others. Our morning TV routine includes Sesame Street, The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake And The Neverland Pirates and Doc McStuffins. None of those shows are too annoying, though I am starting to notice reruns, something I’m not too happy with considering we’ve only been watching these shows for a few months. After that I get her down for a nap and then have the TV off for most of the middle of the day while I get work done. In the afternoon, I usually turn it back on to distract her a bit while I cook, but it rarely works. Maybe I need to just start blasting tunes!
So that’s a pretty general idea of where we’re at. If you have any more specific questions, drop me a comment and I’ll either respond there, or do another post answering them.
Wow, I can’t believe you’re one today. Depending on the day, it either seems like the time has flown by or like you’re been part of our lives for far more than 365 days. Truthfully, you were part of us for the nine months before that, of course, but as much as I would look at the black and white ultrasound photo that still sits on a shelf directly across from where I sit every day, I could not have imagined what you’d really be like. I could see your nose, but that’s about it. I had no idea you’d have such bright, blue, sparkly eyes or that your cheeks would be so popular that strangers would come out of nowhere and say they wanted to eat them. Don’t worry, I didn’t let them. A few copped a quick cheek feel, but I kept an eye on them.
No, I really could not have known what being your dad would be like, how amazing it would be, how impressive you are and how completely my happiness has been connected to yours. I doubt you will remember this down the line, but when you have a bad day, so do I. When you’re popping out teeth and just not feeling well, I can’t help but feel out of sorts myself (and not just because those are the days where you seem dead set on clearing everything off of every shelf and table in the condo). I could not have known how warm my heart would get when you look at me and said “dada” or when you finally started laughing. I can’t really explain how mad I get when people cut us off in the car or when those strangers try to touch you. Mom calls it my “daddy bear” coming out and that just about explains it perfectly. How dare they, don’t they know I’m carrying precious cargo?
Something that most parents say to their kids is that they just want their kids to be safe and happy. Oftentimes, parents will go overboard on the former and wind up inhibiting the latter. I know I’ve probably done this already and will most likely do it as you grow up, but I want you to know that it all comes from a place of love and caring. I do my best to let you run around and do your own thing and hope you know I’ll always be there to scoop you up when you fall down (both literally and figuratively).
Looking back, it’s been a heckuva year. Remember when I used to carry you through the whole grocery store because you were too small for the cart and I didn’t want to use those gross ones with built in baby seats? Or how about when you were so little, we’d have to wrap you up in a blanket so you wouldn’t bonk yourself in the face and wake up? Or how your tiny hands and inquisitive nature have lead to an early exploration of the guitar? No, you probably won’t, but that’s okay. I’ve taken plenty of pictures and done a fair amount of writing her on the blog and over on my photo diary about your exploits, so we’ll hopefully be able to strolls together down memory lane.
You won’t understand this — or maybe any of this — until you have kids of your own, but I want you to know how proud I am of you and how much I love you. It’s such a complete and honest and true feeling that comes from deep inside. Like just about everything else about being a parent, it’s hard to explain, but instantly recognizable when you feel it. I hope my own issues and problems don’t seep down to do you too much and I apologize for my bad days, but want you to know without a shadow of a doubt that I love and support you and want you to have everything the world has to offer. Happy birthday chickadee.
In addition to making sure Lucy can see our mouths when we talk to her as much as possible, my wife and I have also been trying to teach her some sign language. One of the things about babies is that they can comprehend well before they can physically replicate sounds. So, essentially, they can understand the idea behind something like “eat” before they can actually say it, but that doesn’t mean they can’t communicate in other ways.
We’ve got a few books and a flashcard set, plus my wife has an app, but we’ve been sticking to a few basic signs so far. The first one we started doing months and months ago was eat. You bring all your fingers together and then touch those fingers to your mouth. It’s pretty simple and was also the first one Lu started doing back to us. But, we’ve noticed that she kind of does it all the time, so it has lost a bit of it’s communicative nature, but it’s still nice to see that she’s been able to copy the motion.
Another early one we started doing was “more” which is taking the “eat” sign and tapping it to the palm of your other hand. This is another one that we’ve seen Lucy mimic, but not necessarily master the concept behind. She has gotten the hang of “diaper” which is tapping both open hands around the waste area. Of course, you want them to learn this one so they can tell you when their diaper is wet or poopy, but she tends to do it after getting changed.
All of which brings me to one of the things I realized you have to keep in mind when trying to teach sign language to a baby: these are fairly difficult concepts for a baby to grasp. Also, it’s important to note that many people hypothesize that the very way in which we think is based on language. That means a few things. First, babies might think completely differently than we do because our relationship to language is so different. Second, you’re not just teaching the baby something simple like a noun, but a whole way of thinking. It’s not just “diaper” it’s, “when you do this sign that means you are wet or dirty and need a change.” But that requires a concept of what “wet” or “dirty” is. How do you convey that to a child?
Another important aspect of sign language is not to overthink it too much, which I clearly can do. Mostly, it’s just important to do the signs very consistently, do them right in front of the baby’s face and say the word as well. In addition to the signs I’ve mentioned, we’re trying to do some more basic ones, but we’ll see how they take. I’ll keep you guys posted. Oh, also, if you just say “clap” to her, she does it, which is kind of the reverse, but still pretty awesome.
So, it looks like I’ve been doing something right when it comes to our daughter’s vocal development. According to a recent story that I first heard about through my wife and then read about on The Huffington Post, babies between 6 and 12 months old watch a speaker’s mouth when they’re talking instead of the eyes. The researchers postulate that they do this in order to understand how we make the sounds we make when we talk.
This is what I was going for when I started doing alphabet sounds with Lucy. I was focusing on sounds instead of letters because she needs to be able to talk because she can read or write, but I also made sure that my face was very close to hers so she could see what I was doing with my mouth. Well, the study shows that that is exactly where babies are looking when it comes to language acquisition. It’s pretty cool stuff when you think about it and makes me wish I had my linguistics notebook from college here to see if there are any other things I can be doing to help out.
I made my bed, but that didn’t make sleeping in it any easier. That’s how I felt when Lucy starting saying “momma” before “dada.” I thought it would be nice to teach her how to talk to her mother first, not really thinking ahead to the days when all I would hear for hours on end as I feed and diaper her is “momma momma momma momma.”
Well, I succeeded. “Momma” was her first word. Now, whether she knows what it means or not, we’re not quite sure. Instead of meaning “mother” we think it might mean “adult” or “parent” in her developing brain. She doesn’t seem to say it to anyone but us, but she does babble it at various times. Heck, I was walking through the grocery store with her last week and she screamed “momma” out at the top of her tiny lungs. It’s kind of embarrassing because I don’t want people to think I stole this child who is crying out for her mother while I’m trying to figure out which kind of canned tomatoes to buy for that week’s pasta sauce. It would serve me right for reasons I’ll get into in another post. I have a surprising number of stories from my childhood where I almost got both my parents into somewhat serious trouble by being a wiseacre.
Anyway, Lucy’s had the “momma” thing down for about a month now. I’m glad she’s developing, of course, and know that it does my wife’s heart good to hear it, but I was really glad when, on Friday, I finally got her to say “poppa!” I always assumed I’d be called “dad” or “dada” or something along those lines, but I think it’s fun that she can say the paternal sobriquet that I named this blog after. My wife asked me “You want to be called poppa?” And I was like, “One, I’ll take what I can get, and two, it’s good for the blog.” She still says “momma” more than “poppa” but she slips it in enough to keep me smiling, which is nice because she spends about half the day screaming her head off just to see if she can do it.
A lot of people say their kid learned to say “dada” before “momma,” but when you think about it the M (and P) sounds are actually a lot easier to make. Say all three and pay attention to where your tongue and lips are. When you do M and P sounds, you’re just moving your lips and pushing air out in different ways. But, the D sound involves getting your tongue up behind your front teeth and moving it downwards. That’s a little bit more difficult for someone trying to figure out what the heck this whole talking thing is all about. She’s doing great and I’m proud of her. I hope all those times doing alphabet sounds has helped out.
The other day Lucy made a few sounds that sounded an awful lot like “ha ha.” Since then I’ve been trying to get her to say it again with varying degrees of success. This video has the best example so far. I know it’s not really a word, but I think it’s important to start a kind of call and response with her. She might not be able to say words or actually communicated, but being able to replicate and repeat sounds is a big part of the process. It might just be my imagination, but I also noticed that she tends to smile when I say “ha ha” to her, almost like she knows what it means. Just saying…
In college I took a Linguistics class. It was, by far, the most difficult course in the English department at Ohio Wesleyan University, because, unlike its fellows, this one couldn’t be bullshitted through with a good paper. Linguistics is the study of human language, how we speak and the differences in dialect. It’s basically a science class masquerading as and English one. Dr. DeMarco was the professor, if memory serves, and she was fantastic, boiling things down so even the dullest of us could understand. And, unlike a lot of other classes I took, I actually remember a lot of what I learned off the top of my head. I actually had sat in on one of her classes as a senior in high school while visiting the school and still remember the discussion that day, it was about how different parts of the country have different names for fireflies (aka lightning bugs, etc). Wild.
I could regale you with trivia like why we speak English instead of the more prominent Dutch in this country, but that’s not really pertinent to the topic. The stuff that really stuck with me has to do with language development in children. We were taught a theory that basically that any baby born anywhere in the world has the potential to learn any language, which explains why babies born in one country can move to another and learn the native language. Basically, the idea is that babies are born with a kind of circuit breaker when it comes to language that includes the building blocks of every language, from the heavy back-of-the-throat sounds of German to the tongue clicks found in some African tribes. As the child grows and gets used to whatever language is around them, the circuits either stay on or get turned off with lack of use. So, for instance, a baby in Africa would keep the click sounds on while an American child would turn them off because they’re not a part of the dialect or language. However, if the child is taught several different languages, the circuits will stay on and the kid will have a much better chance of being multlingual than a middle age dude trying to learn French for his next business trip. His circuits are old and rusted into place though with enough practice, they can be loosened.
Another story Dr. DeMarco told us explained that children actually understand language long before they can use it. The story involved a linguist and his daughter. The girl hadn’t quite gotten the hang of Ls yet, so instead of saying “light” she said “yight.” When her dad went to turn the light off he referred to it as yight and she got upset, saying “not yight, YIGHT.” She knew the difference, but just couldn’t say it. It’s like understanding how hockey works, but not being able to skate, control the puck and hit people all at the same time. The ideas are there, but the mechanics aren’t.
I think about these things a lot with Lucy. Communication is very important on all kinds of levels, but especially the basic ones. They say you can figure out the difference between their cries, which I guess I’m starting to get on at least a visceral level. I couldn’t explain to you what a hungry cry sounds like as opposed to a gassy cry, but when they’re happening, I can feel it. My wife and I are trying to do sign language, starting off with basics, but it’s impossible to see if anything’s getting through to her this early (she doesn’t really have control of her hands anyway).
But that doesn’t mean I don’t try. I also make it a point to go through the alphabet sounds with her every day as you can see in the video above (I started taping with F). I try to get up close to her face and open my mouth as much as possible to she can potentially see what my mouth and tongue are doing to make the sounds. Another big part of that Linguistics class–and another reason it was so damn hard–was learning the different kinds of sounds your mouth makes and learning a mostly-new alphabet to spell words with using phonemes (the vowels were the hardest, think about how many different sounds they make). I can’t remember the alphabet right now, but I do think about how different sounds are made. For instance, the little girl who was trying to say light was making the Y sound in the back of her throat and with the back of her tongue while the L sound is made with the tongue right up near the teeth. It’s not something you really think about when talking because it comes naturally thanks to the circuit breaker, but something I’m trying to remember when teaching my daughter. Maybe it will help and maybe it won’t, but at least she seems to have a good time during out “lessons.”