Sunday, March 16, 2008

Life as a Psychologist's Daughter

After Cody began studying psychology he occasionally made comments about how great it would be to have identical twins - imagine all the psychological experiments you could conduct! Fortunately for Junie, she came solo. Although there was some talk of pretty odd name choices in the name of psychology/in order to toughen her up (A Boy Named Sue by Johnny Cash was used as anecdotal evidence), Cody hasn't followed through with his prenatal schemes. In fact, once she was born, he was content to rear her based on his fatherly instinct, while I agonized over what was, empirically speaking, the best way to raise her into a well-adjusted, obedient, brilliant little kid.

Cody couldn't, however, suppress his psychologist/researcher side forever, and the other day I caught him letting it out, full force. Check out the following video. Hopefully there won't be any permanent psychological ramifications...

She has shown some disturbing exhibitionist tendencies lately... should we be concerned?

I suppose some might question the healthiness of our boundaries...

And then there are the psychological experiments Junie seems to be conducting on us. What child in their right mind would walk in circles when there is an entire group of highly entertaining ducks right next to them??

But in all seriousness, why does Junie's eventual success in life seem to hinge upon every single parenting decision we make? (Letting her shower with Cody, aside...) Why do parents inflict that type of torture on themselves? I wholeheartedly agree that providing a safe and loving environment for your children will likely positively affect how well-adjusted and happy they eventually are, but there are many different ways that loving environment can be achieved. And I am convinced at this point that letting your child chew on rocks on the playground will not make or break them as a contributing member of society. I am still, however, struggling to come to terms with the notion that allowing Junie that extra sippy cup of juice will not doom her to eventual obesity and a mouth full of rotten teeth. The fact that I am even questioning these minutiae at this point gives me hope for our next child. But I also have to admit that Junie will probably always suffer from my own psychological issues with being a parent as she moves through uncharted territory for me as a mother. But to the next kid I say, enjoy those rocks!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Hard up for entertainment

Keeping Juniper occupied is more than just a pastime, it is the pastime. Juniper is getting old enough to want to always explore, interact, engage--but environmental limitations like short legs, limited coordination, and (mostly) this endless winter do put a damper on her adventures. When last summer ended, Juniper was still only crawling. Now that she's walking and climbing, she feels her birthright to play outside, and asks to go out all the time. She lacks a working knowledge of and, by extension, the knowledge that the temperature is still in the negative double digits at times. Outside exploration is limited.

Enter Mom and Dad. We're often amazed both at what does and does not interest her. Interest her: Walking. Not interest her: Being carried, even when it's well below freezing outside and Dad really wants to go in. Interest her: Books. Not interest her: The same books (when in church). Interest her: crackers in a box. Not interest her: nearly identical homemade crackers. Interest her: Washing the dishes. Interest her: Blowing a piece of fuzz. Interest her: a ten minute long video of an orchestra performing Rossini's William Tell Overture. Interest her: Touching the on/off light on the computer. Interest her: A screwdriver. Interest her: A battery. Interest her: A pen. Not interest her: Going to bed.

Junie with a feather (look closely), Dad's hand (lower right) and Mom (not pictured). She will watch us blow a feather around for ten or fifteen minutes at a time.
Our second worst enemy (after winter) is diaper rash. See if you can figure out what this jovial young lady is wearing before continuing.

Jennie created a diaper contraption that would both save Junie from diaper rash and save our carpets from Junie. It consists of two diapers, a handful of safety pins, a pair of suspenders, and a small piece of yarn.

Moms and Dads need wintertime entertainment too.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Junie has recently discovered belly buttons. She says "hee hee" when she pokes her little finger into one (Cody taught her that one). This also brings to mind a new concept she has just learned which is "off" and "on". She uses it in conventional ways, such as the light or some other electrical appliance being on or off, as well as taking clothing off or putting it on. In terms of belly buttons, when I have let her have a peek at my belly button and the novelty has worn off, she says "off" as she is pulling my shirt down back over it. Interesting the way a baby's logic works.

After years of wishing I knew how to play the violin I have finally begun taking violin lessons. My teacher tells me all the time how quickly I am catching on - after 2 lessons, I get to start actually playing. Although I'd like to feel flattered, I must remind myself that the rest of her starting students are two or three years old. I'm kind of glad I didn't try starting at a young age - I don't think I would've had the patience to make it past the months of simply holding the violin, holding the bow and making sure my feet were in the right position. Cody was mocking me as he took this picture of me just standing there, holding the violin under my chin... "oh, you're 'practicing' the violin, are you?"

This basket in Junie's room is becoming a favorite spot for her in the rare moments that she actually prefers to be alone.

A new favorite mommy-Junie activity. She has now added the words "bubbles" and "dishes" to her vocabulary. The other night I made the mistake of inviting her to wash dishes a little too close to her bedtime. When Cody took her to get ready for bed before I was done, she cried nonstop for the next 10 minutes, wailing "dishes! dishes!" over and over.

We had an impromptu visit this week from Jeremy Fraley (a childhood friend of Cody's) and his family en route from Boston back to San Diego.

Junie has a collection of mini-board books that highlight each letter of the alphabet. She adores these and sometimes will ask us to read each book, one right after the other, without tiring of it. She has surprised us recently by being able to recognize and say about 15 letters. She has maybe 5 to 10 that she always gets right, and some that are hit or miss. Her first letter that she recognized and said with regularity was "F". She now amazes us by spotting and saying letters on signs, our shirts, food packaging, etc. Perhaps this is normal, but each jump in development for her seems almost miraculous to us. The following video is of her saying a letter and also shows off how many pictures/symbols she recognizes and for which she often has words or signs. It's also funny to note how words that sound similar to others have become permanently fixed in her mind as the similar sounding word. For example, in the "I" book, there is a picture of an iron. Every time Junie sees this picture she makes the sound of a police siren - get it? Iron vs. Siren. In the video that follows, she sees the number 8 and makes the sign for "eat". This also goes for visuals: she regularly confuses W with M and C with G. Can you tell I like to talk about all Junie is learning?