Here you see (if you have a graphical browser, anyway!) a picture of a very young Sam using XBBS, where his alias was "Keyboard Thrasher." The messages below, however, come not from XBBS but rather from my Pyrzqxgl BBS, where I wrote/posted a lot of baby-book-style messages about Sam. Unfortunately most of them are inaccessible right now due to the fact that they reside on the hard disk of my old dead Victor BBS computer. The few listed below are ones that I had made copies of to include in letters to relatives.
So hopefully I'll be able to collect more of them soon, but these are the ones I can get at right now.
From Tachyon, 1-03-89, 11:09
It looks like January will be a great month for Sam.
Maybe this has something to do with his New Year's resolutions -- on January 1 for the first time, I could put toys into his hands and he would play with them instead of immediately dropping them. He puts them in his mouth, he shakes rattles, he passes them from one hand to the other. His arms are short enough and mobility limited enough to make it hard for him to reach and retrieve toys on his own, but when he dropped one on his face he was able to pick it up again. Right now his favorites are a rattle and teething ring that were presents from Rogue and Diana (thanks again!).
This also means he's beginning to be able to entertain himself instead of wanting us to do it all the time. I can put him into his crib with a toy in his hand and his soft "crib mirror" by his face and he'll play for quite a while. He likes to look at "the baby" in mirrors, but also likes to hit the mirror with a rattle. This morning it sounded like he was trying to do some kind of rock tune with the weird sounds he was making, punctuated by bang bang bang!
He makes new sounds all the time, some sounding like words; some quite unearthly. Sometimes his timing's pretty good, as in a time recently when one of Jon's friends was playing "Louie Louie" on my synthesizer and Sam yelled out something that sounded like "Oh YEAH!" At the Logan's Run party I was surprised how much Maya's (she's two, for those who didn't meet her) talking sounded like Sam's noises -- like the fact that they could be resolved into words was just a difference in degree.
I guess he'd been laughing for a while, but it was only a few weeks back when a certain set of noises became refined into something that was unmistakably laughter. When he's in a good mood he likes to be tickled and will roll around practicing many types of laughs, from squeals to trills. He also recently learned to spit (oh oh) and in moments of bliss will sometimes spit in your face.
He can now crawl a centimeter or so at a time, with much effort (he hasn't gotten the idea of lifting his stomach off the ground yet, you see -- this is the first time I've heard him pant from exertion rather than from being frantic), using his arms, knees and face!
I'm not sure what the exact time was when he started seeming completely human to us rather than like some kind of special effect, but it was probably marked by the time his yawns began to provoke yawns from us in response.
Right now he's three months, a week, and a day old, but many people say he looks like a six-month old, and his six-months size clothes are tight on him. Three weeks ago he weighed in at 15 1/4 pounds and was 26" tall.
That's all for now -- I'm starting to feel like this is my version of those long form letters ("this year our family did blah blah blah") people send out with their Christmas cards.
From Tachyon, 1-27-89, 15:37
Sam types his own journal entry
bhn b 3m b
z6vc [Dmm k x m [D m cxfffcxgvedd 9 [B [Cd [Cqazxsq b. z dd
z z v nm
From Tachyon, 1-27-89, 15:42
Sam, I guess you shouldn't use the computer so soon after drinking.
That was totally incoherent.
From Tachyon, 1-29-89, 10:03
* I held the keyboard in front of him while he was sitting on my lap, and he ran his fingers over it. Obviously the space bar, being big and in front, gets hit the most.
From Tachyon, 1-29-89, 09:44
Sam was four months old last Thursday. (Warning -- this message contains flying food and dirty diapers!)
These "Sam's Journal" entries are great -- I can print them out and mail them to relatives, as well as point them out to people here when they send me "How's Sam?" mail.
I'll address a few items from the last entry: Luckily he's gotten bored with spitting. Along with those little rattles, he enjoys playing with the members of his stuffed animal collection small enough to have arms and legs his fist can surround. He's really cut down on the bird-like sounds and is working on his consonants, ala "mummm mumm mumm buhh buhh buhh".
MaryLee visited on the 8th with a late Christmas gift which included the book "Instant Baby Food" and an "I Love Daddy" bib. I'd been planning to start giving Sam cereal (as his first "solid" food) on his four-month birthday, but the book made feeding him sound so interesting and entertaining that we got a large jar of unsweetened applesauce and started him on it that day. He'd already been drinking apple juice for about two months, so applesauce wasn't much of a step up. He makes a face when the cold spoon first touches his lips, but he loves applesauce.
His second present (many months before he was born) was a tiny old silver "Boston" souvenir spoon from Jon's grandmother, so that's what I used for his first applesauce feeding. It was a good size for his mouth, plus we could joke about all that "born with a silver spoon ..." stuff. When babies suck they press out and up with their tongues, which is completely counterproductive to eating from a spoon. He took a bite, his tongue pushed it all out again. He's gotten better at it, though he sometimes resorts to sucking the spoon, sucking his lips (to get the food that's all over them) or shoving a hand into his mouth with the food and sucking it. I'm sure it feels really good to him to get the gooey stuff on his hands and smear it on his face or my shirt!
Usually I can keep pace with him as he gets the food on his face and I get it back into the spoon and into his mouth, but once he jerked a hand against the spoon and knocked a blob of cereal into his eye. Generally he's pretty neat about it, though -- most of the time I don't put a bib on him -- much neater, I'm sure, than he'll be when he starts learning to feed himself and discovers that, unlike his other toys, food sticks to the wall and makes pretty patterns when you throw it. I won't be able to complain much -- I started some food fights in college!
I started him on cereal last Sunday. Since baby cereal in a box is identical to instant wallpaper paste, I mix it with applesauce and milk for flavor and he enjoys it. You're supposed to wait a week for each new food at this point to watch for strange reactions, so today or tomorrow I'll start giving him bananas or something else -- I haven't decided yet.
Cereal, and, I'm sure, future foods more solid than milk or fruit, change more things than just feeding routines. First, it takes longer to digest so it stays in his stomach longer. My boss claims that babies sleep longer after they've eaten cereal but I haven't found this to be the case. It does, however, make for a longer likely-to-throw-up-with-exertion-or-excitement period after eating, and the result is messier and smellier, too. Which brings us to the next point, which I warned you about in the message title:
A baby on milk alone produces shit that resembles curried cottage cheese and smells like some sort of imported cheese I'd rather not eat. It doesn't turn your stomach, and you can't feel too badly about it if you breastfeed because it's all stuff you ate in the first place! But as babies eat more and more types of foods, their output becomes more and more like unto that of you and me. The frequency goes down, at least (some young babies shit ten times a day), but being more concentrated only makes it smell even worse!
I've been taking a bottle of apple juice along when we go to restaurants or visiting, so he can have something while we do. He's even getting pretty good at holding the bottle himself. We took Jan and Mary Ellen to Aragona's Friday and once again he was well-behaved while other babies screamed. People still always remark on how big he is for his age. He also has a large head -- I'm so used to him that when I see other babies they look less human, with somewhat shrunken heads.
A few days ago we found out that Sam liked to play peek-a-boo. If he's in a bad mood I can usually get him out of it now by alternatively covering his eyes and making faces. He laughs when people make silly faces or sounds at him. If he's in a talkative mood I can sometimes get him to carry on a "conversation" with me. And about a week ago he became ticklish on the bottoms of his feet. He's a very happy, friendly baby.
Jon's started taking Sam along when he runs errands, so I can have some uninterrupted time to get work done here. He also took Sam with him to what was sort of a hackers/writers party (I always have too much hacking and writing to do to go to these parties!), where Sam was again very well behaved. People make a big fuss over them wherever they go. Jon took Sam for a walk (Sam in a stroller) along West Cliff on Thursday and one couple came running out of their house to see him. And it's the same when the three of us go out together -- everyone wants to see Sam, open doors for us, let us go before them and such. All of that is just little stuff, of course, but it's interesting to suddenly be treated differently by so many people. I've been known to recommend that people drastically change their appearances from time to time to see how much of how people treat them is due to appearance -- well, having a baby with you produces the same sort of changes but even more so: you feel the same, but lots of people behave quite differently toward you. The one we're somewhat looking forward to is that it will be quite a while before we have to wait in line to get on a plane again.
Pampers puts out a free magazine called "Baby Care" consisting of excerpts from Parents' Magazine. Every three months you get an issue corresponding to your baby's age -- we just got the 3-6 months one. Predictably enough, its purpose seems to be to try to persuade people that they'll be lost without Parents' Magazine (some of the parents in it sound really ditzy) and to sell Pampers (tch tch ... there are two Pampers ads using what is obviously the same baby, but in the baby-crawling ad the baby is referred to as "she", and in the baby-rides-a-toy-car ad as "he"!), but what I was going to mention here is a list of things most babies do at 4, 5 and 6 months. Sam does most of the things for all three ages already, but what we found amusing and keep making jokes about is its claim that a four-month-old's attention span has increased to a full 5-7 seconds!
From Tachyon, 2-20-89, 07:38
Yet another long message about Sam.
(Note -- for the purposes of this message, "talking" refers to babbling/chattering that does sound like some sort of speech, as opposed to squeals and isolated sounds.)
Needless to say, Sam continues to grow and grow. Thursday he had his second set of shots, and, at a little over four and a half months, weighed 19 pounds. It's really something to see him outgrowing clothes that once seemed very big on him, as well as watching his carseat, swing chair and stroller appear to shrink. Jon asks the parents of every baby he sees how old their baby is, and usually responds something like, "nine months old? my four- and-a-half-month-old is bigger than that". Actually I've heard that the ubiquitous age-asking people do is often not just this sort of measuring yours against the others, but a way of finding out a baby's sex for additional conversation without awkwardness: "How old is your baby?" "She's three months old." "Oh, she looks a lot like you."
Sam continues to find new ways to entertain himself and for us to entertain him. For some reason throwing objects into the air in front of him produces hysterical laughter. He's also getting more involved with objects in his crib and will spend longer periods of time in there talking to his crib mirror, watching his mobile and playing with his toys.
Last Thursday he did two more things for the first time: one was to be able to grab his feet as he rolls around on his back; the other was to be interested in pictures of people's faces. Specifically, I got in bed with him intending to keep him company as I looked some things up in the Dr. Spock book, but when Sam saw the baby on the book's cover he began talking to it and got mad when I tried to move it for reading.
This sort of thing should make for some cute pictures -- Saturday morning he was lying on a chair in the kitchen while I cooked, and I gave him that free Baby Care magazine to hold. Soon he was happily spitting in the cover baby's face. He also seems to interpret a Mickey Mouse toy sent by Jon's parents as a face -- he studies it intently and talks to it.
His new foods list is moving steadily along. I'd wondered what the first food he didn't like would be, and how he'd show that, and it turned out to be the second fruit I tried: mashed banana. He pushed it back out with his tongue, made a face and turned his head away, and shoved his feet against me hard. Applesauce, peaches, pears, sweet potatoes, rice cereal and oat cereal he's enjoyed -- I'd say applesauce and sweet potatoes are his favorites. Sunday I steamed and mashed some carrots for him (although he's been "biting" our fingers harder and harder lately, with no teeth things need to be pretty soft) and he liked that too. Funny, I'd prefer bananas to any of that stuff, I'll have to try him again on them in a few months.
I've also given him raw carrots to play with (more flavor than sucking on a plastic rattle, and probably a lot better for teething) and he enjoys them but I have to wash them a lot as he throws them on the floor every so often. It'll be nice to be able to give him fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden this summer, as well as share food (sounds cosmic, what?) with him at the table.
Last night I was drinking iced apple juice with Sam on my lap and impulsively decided to try him on drinking from my cup. He thought it was pretty strange -- probably because he'd never had anything so cold before --but at one point did seem to be trying to drink.
Some people have asked if I, a vegetarian, am going to give him/let him eat meat. Actually, yes. I think being a vegetarian in this culture is something a person should decide for him or herself, and eating meat will provide Sam with more information for such a decision as well as not making him miss out on experiences like barbecues, Thanksgiving turkey et al, and finding out firsthand how bad a lot of fast food and such is! Jon patronizingly says he's surprised I have such an "enlightened attitude". The thing about meat for young babies, though, is that it looks pretty indistinguishable from sweet potatoes and the rest of the pulverized mush.
Sam can't crawl yet (though can give himself a good shove forward if there's anything to brace his feet against) but is getting better and better at rolling around. Saturday I was sitting near the head of the waterbed, and he was laying on his back at the end, and he slowly made his way over to me by rolling. Getting from his stomach to his back is easy because all he has to do is topple over by raising or lowering one shoulder. Getting from back to stomach is much more of an ordeal which involves twisting and arching his body as well as not putting his hands in places that will prevent him from rolling. He often loses patience in the middle of this and protests. It was amusing to imagine a baby who got so good at rolling as to not be interested in crawling and just roll everywhere.
Although he's usually very well-behaved when we take him visiting, shopping or to restaurants, there are still many hurdles to cross of things we haven't tried with him yet. One of these was taking him out on the bus by myself, which I tried Sunday before last when I had various errands to run. He rode in his carrier when we were on the bus, and the stroller when we weren't. Basically he was very good and had a nice time (I'm sure even the most tacky stores look like galleries of beautiful shapes and colors to him) except when I tried to take him into K- Mart to buy some umbrellas. As soon as I'd wheel him into the door he'd start crying; as soon as I'd wheel him out he'd stop.
Jon found my not being able to buy umbrellas to be clear evidence of good taste on Sam's part. Jon tends to extend some of his own opinions to Sam (example: "We'll get a small dog for you, and Sam and I will want a big one") which I find pretty cute and touching. Just so he stops when Sam can speak for himself!
The carrier mentioned above is a turquoise cloth "Comfey Carrier" which is a variation of the slings used in various third-world countries to free your hands while carrying the baby around. It distributes weight (and so is much easier on the back than carrying him in your arms) all around your back and shoulders and can be worn on front, back or side with the baby facing in or out. At first it reminded me of being wrapped up in a diaper with him but I got used to it.
When he was too young to hold his head up well I hardly ever used it, because he wasn't too fond of being cooped up in the facing- in position that would support his neck. Now that he's older I wear it with him facing out and he always enjoys going for walks to the store and so on. His arms and legs are free to move about so he often taps his feet on me and puts his hands in his mouth.
When Jon's parents came to visit in October they got him a wind- up swing with removable chair seat. A winding lasts for 30 minutes, which I suppose is a good compromise between giving you time to get some things done but not encouraging you to leave the baby in it all day long. If he's in the right mood he enjoys riding in it and even sleeps in it, though rewinding can be pretty noisy. Often I'll prop his crib mirror near the swing so he can watch himself. I'm getting more exercise these days (besides all the carrying him around I do) because it entertains him -- if he gets tired of swinging and starts complaining, exercising in front of the swing is completely fascinating to him.
If anything, we use the swing's chair more than the swing -- it makes a good portable seat for around the house. I can set it on the kitchen table so he can watch us cook or eat, in Jon's office for that exciting spectator sport, programming, or even outside if we're doing something there, though I'm more likely to have him play on a towel on the grass in the backyard, clothing optional.
The first time we took Sam out in the car I grabbed a plastic Dysan bag to hold some diapers and other supplies. We ended up using this for months! As Dysan makes "head-cleaning kits" I thought we ought to at least get a bag marked "Dysan butt- cleaning kit" but instead I eventually bought a cloth bag with a fold-out vinyl changing pad.
Another thing I got for him recently is a "sling seat" -- this is related to the carrier, and allows him to sit up in normal chairs. Sam's appearance of size is very context-dependent (for example, when Phoenix holds him, it makes both of them look big, but "standing" on the floor -- he straightens his legs and pushes, but needs to be supported by a person holding his hands or waist -- makes him look very small) -- baby seats make him look big by provoking thoughts of how soon he'll outgrow them, but seeing him sit in a normal chair in the sling seat makes him look like a tiny elf as he moves around and smiles at you.
The sling seat provides much more freedom of upper-body movement than the swing chair, so it's ideal for playing my synthesizer. I hold the keyboard over his lap and change instrument sounds as he plays and vocalizes. He also likes to play when being helped to stand in front of it. Sounds with a lot of sustain are best because (obviously) they keep sounding as long as his hands are on the keys; he doesn't have to continually move them. Sounds with a lot of vibrato or explosion component can make him laugh as he plays. It's also fun to see his surprised expression as I change instruments or play with the pitchbend wheel.
He has several different playing styles: Sometimes he just drones on a few keys and stares at the speakers. Other times he watches the keyboard intently and explores it with his hands. He also alternates banging on it with calling out syllables or laughing. If he's in the right mood he really enjoys playing the synthesizer, though, like anything else, he gets bored with it before too long.
From Tachyon, 5-29-89, 14:31
Sam was eight months old on Friday.
It's been more than three months (over a third of Sam's outside life!) since I last wrote one of these. Partially because I've been really busy, and partially because there's so much to write about as to make for a formidable project. (I started writing six and seven-month journals for him and didn't finish, though I'm going to chop a few parts out of them to use in this message.) Well, let's jump right in:
As of a month and a half ago (4/13), Sam was 22 pounds and 28 3/4" tall, which is basically one-year-old size. He's already outgrown many of his 12-month-size outfits, and we can now shop for him in the children's' departments rather than the baby section. More of his clothes are sporting sizes like 2T and 3T and less age-levels like 12 or 18 months. It really is something to see him grow, to pack away clothes that once were huge on him, to see his legs dangling in front of his stroller when it used to be just his little feet sticking out over the edge of the seat, to see him smiling back over the crib railing when you look into the bedroom.
Not being able to talk yet handicaps him in two ways in terms of learning to do new things: We can't tell him how to do something, and he can't tell us when he'd be ready to do something if he only had a little help. For instance, when I tried putting a toy into his hand back in January he was ready to start playing with toys -- it's just that his reach and coordination weren't good enough to get them for himself. Once this was done, he progressed rapidly, and today grabs anything in sight whether we like it or not.
Another accomplishment in this vein was to be able to hold his own bottle of juice. Before he was born I bought a four-ounce bottle so I could give him water before the milk came in. When we took him to restaurants I'd bring along a bottle of juice in case he got fed up. (At that point he would often as not sleep through our meal. Or he might look around for a while, then be happy with being rocked in his carrier, then be happy with sitting on someone's lap, and finally be satisfied only with the bottle of juice.)
As he would sometimes empty the bottle before we finished eating (usually when the service was really slow), I got an eight-ounce bottle to take to restaurants and put the other away. Then one day at home I gave him the four-ounce bottle, and surprise, he could hold it himself, whereas the eight-ounce one had been too heavy and unwieldy. Now I take it with us whenever we go out. Usually he's very entertained by all the sights and sounds, but sometimes he gets fed up with, say, waiting in line at the grocery store, so I can give him the bottle and he'll happily drink away. A slight problem is that he also likes to play with it, bouncing the nipple end on his clothing and stroller, which can make for a mess if he's drinking grape juice.
The next big thing to follow was sitting. For a long time I'd made a practice of entertaining Sam by laying on my back on our waterbed with Sam sitting on my stomach, and rocking myself to make the bed and us bounce up and down. (When he wants to be held, this is much easier on my back than carrying him around for long periods of time.) I had to hold him at the waist while doing this because it didn't occur to him that he should try to balance; if I let go he would topple right over.
After a while he got a little better at balancing so I could hold him at the hips. Then, while Jon was away at the West Coast Computer Faire in mid-March, I tried putting Sam in a sitting position on a stable surface: the living-room floor. Surprise, he could sit! He could balance himself perfectly, but every once in a while would just lean over too far or suddenly throw himself one way or another and fall over, so one of us needed to sit behind him.
A month after that, he could sit up as long as he wanted, and lean over to pick something up without falling down. Many of you have seen him sitting in front of my synthesizer playing away. And now, at eight months old, he can even balance (sitting) on the bouncy waterbed, and can lower himself to a crawling position from a sitting one.
Then, last Thursday, he sat up by himself for the first time. And knew what he had done, because he has done it many times since then in exactly the same way. This was on the waterbed, however, so it may be a little while before he is able to do it on the floor (though I've seen him try), just as he learned to roll on the waterbed before he could on the floor. (The waterbed makes things like this much easier because shoulders and hips sink down into the mattress rather than getting in the way and needing to be pushed up over.)
When he plays the synthesizer I've been setting a bunched-up blanket behind him in case he topples over. Now and then he's leaned back onto the blanket, and used a combination of his back being propped up a bit and his feet being able to push up against the bottom of the keyboard to raise himself back to a sitting position. And before that he sometimes used to pull himself to a sitting position by grabbing my clothes. But last Thursday is what I count as first-time-he-sat-up because it was the first time he did it on his own from laying flat on his back.
It may seem strange that I'm going to describe what he did to sit up, when we do it so automatically, but there really is a lot to do at once in terms of shifting weight and pushing at the right times. (I was also confronted with this during the two days after Sam was born, when I was so sore that it could take me five minutes to get out of bed. I was painfully aware of Every Little Transition involved in sitting up, going to hands and knees, standing.) He started out on his back, and then rolled most of the way over, so he was pushing up with his hands but balanced on a hip rather than on his stomach or knees. He then pushed up with his arms while leaning back onto his butt. Soon he'll no doubt learn other ways to do it.
Just over the last two weeks (though, yes, this is another thing where he had to wait for it to occur to me to try it) he's been enjoying "suspended walking". I stand behind him and hold his hands, and he walks forward. At first it was pretty much by accident that he would get anywhere, but now he regularly "walks" from one room to another, or over to someone. He has progressed to taking big steps and bending his knees rather than just swinging his legs out a bit. People seeing him do this sometimes remark that he will probably learn to walk before he crawls, but I don't think so -- he's pretty good at getting around on the floor on all fours by himself already, but makes no attempt to balance when "walking", just sways happily back and forth from my hands.
And as I just implied, no, he doesn't quite crawl yet. For a little over two months he's been able to turn and go backwards on the floor, has continued to get faster and more purposeful at it, but he doesn't go forward yet. At first he had trouble lifting himself up on both his hands and knees at once -- one set would go sliding out from under him, and in fact this is basically how he goes backwards -- but now he can stay on one hand and his knees while using the other hand to grab something.
If he wants something he can get over to it pretty quickly with a combination of turning and backing up while turning, but if you put something directly in front of him yet out of reach you can see that he knows there's something more: that he needs to move forward to get the toy and that there is something he can do with his body that will accomplish this. He's close. We're close, too: we've been cleaning and rearranging the house to make it safer and provide him with more room to play. Visitors have been surprised to see more of the floor than they suspected existed. Another thing Sam does on his hands and knees is fast, hard forward and backwards rocking -- this is funny to see on the waterbed because he also goes up and down with the waves it makes.
He really does love to roll and play on the waterbed. A while back he was rolling around, bumped his head into the wooden frame and started to cry. So we went out and got a set of the foam "rails" for the edges. I also have to keep a closer eye on him when he's on the waterbed than I used to -- he'll get alongside one of the rails and try to climb over the edge.
At least he's also getting interested in his crib, now that he can sit up and move both his body and hands well. I'll sit him in the middle of the crib between his two busy boxes, and he'll happily manipulate the various doors, beads, ratchets and so on. If you call his name you may see a happy face look up at you over the side of the crib, or he may have moved onto his stomach or back. He will pull himself to a standing position if you hold out your fingers to be grabbed, or stand holding the crib railing if you set him in that position, but hasn't started climbing up on things himself yet.
One thing that surprised me about Sam is that he has basically stopped putting objects into his mouth in favor of manipulating them with his hands. He still likes to chomp on big things occasionally, like my arm or our quilt, and sometimes puts fingers into his mouth, but small objects are studied and manipulated or used to bang on other things. He's teething (oops, there I go giving away the punchline of the next paragraph) so I'm surprised that he doesn't chew on his toys, and people always talk about babies putting everything into their mouths.
Ok, he's getting his two bottom-front teeth. The right one is now sticking out far enough to be quite sharp; the left is more or less at the gum line. He nips me now and then, but otherwise they don't make much of an impression yet: although his upper gums are often visible when he smiles or laughs, his lower ones rarely are. As I've said to many people in person, I'm so used to his face, I see it so much more often than I do my own, that when I hold him in front of the mirror (he loves mirrors) and look at the two of us, a mouthful of teeth looks weird.
New foods: He continues to try new kinds of food, but the list doesn't grow as fast as it used to because we often repeat ones he's had before and liked rather than getting each food only once, then moving on to the next. Sometimes I buy him little jars of baby food (usually when giving him a food for the first time, or if I'm a store without any good produce) and other times I prepare food for him. I'm certainly looking forward to the summer, when many more fruits and vegetables will come into season.
Let's see, foods he's had since the last journal entry are: beef, potatoes, yams, squash, turkey, apricots, avocado and pineapple. Applesauce was still far and away his favorite, along with being extremely convenient for me because it comes in big jars, which makes it easy to grab a little for him in a moment's notice anytime he's hungry. But with all the fuss over Alar I thought I might as well put him on some new staples for a while.
Basically he likes everything I've given him, except turkey -- I gave him one bite and he projectile vomited on the floor. He also may have had a reaction to apricots -- he liked them, but later threw up twice, both times in greater quantity than I'd ever seen from him before. (Poor Sam, he really hardly ever throws up and here I am calling attention to it.)
He's gotten very good at eating from a spoon. When we first started him on "solid" foods a few months ago he'd kind of suck on the spoon, with his tongue pushing out as much as would go in. Later, he progressed to taking delicate little nibbles. These days he opens his mouth wide and makes a big chomp.
I still use Filbo's Amiga to log onto boards from the living room while Sam plays on the floor, but he's gotten so good at getting over to me and getting his whacks in at the keyboard while I'm typing, that I had to set a decoy "parts" keyboard in his path to keep him from filling my messages with random characters and wreaking havoc at command prompts. He also loves "curly cords" and will grab them at any opportunity to pull a keyboard or phone receiver away from me while I'm using it.
And now he's suspected of destroying the "N" key on the Amiga's keyboard. I opened the mechanism and found that it worked by what must be the worst method I've seen yet -- a spring is mounted horizontally, and when you push down on a key a post hits the middle of the spring. This particular mechanism's spring was broken in half, and as Sam is the only one who has been observed pounding away on it with all his might (believe me, with Jon it only sounds like he's doing that!) ...
Besides keyboards of all types, he also loves to get his hands on anything made of paper. If he sees you reading a book or magazine he'll make a good try at getting over to you, getting it out of your hands and crumpling it up. So now and then I give him scrap pieces of paper while I'm trying to read. Sometimes he just waves them about, sometimes he crumples them up and sometimes he rips them into pieces. The other night he was trying to take a newspaper away from me so I gave him the front page. He rolled onto his back and within a very short time had covered his hands with newsprint and his body with small paper shreds. As long as he doesn't put the scraps into his mouth I'm not much concerned about this other than keeping him from destroying our books and magazines.
He's starting to get an interest in the books on our bookshelves (moves over to them and runs his hands over the tops) but luckily hasn't started trying to take them out and do away with them yet. So far the only thing I've had to tape back together was a magazine.
Between riding around town in his stroller and laying on a towel in the back yard watching Jon garden, Sam's gotten a fair suntan. Although I stay away from the sun as much as possible myself, I think it's probably a good idea for him to develop some immunity, and I've been careful not to let him join Jon and Filbo in getting burned. In general he gets a kick out of being outside -- there's always so much going on for him to watch.
As I mentioned earlier, Sam often used to sleep in restaurants, just as the motion of the car would usually put him to sleep within minutes. But now he only falls asleep in the car when tired, and when he visits a restaurant is very interested in watching people walking by. Whereas he used to be completely content with being held and talked to, as he becomes more active and in control of his body he sees a table or desk as a smorgasbord of toys, he tries to grab silverware, tablecloth, anything he can.
In Connecticut we took Sam to Pepe's, a seminal (ask Jon if you want to hear a speech and interest him in going out for pizza) pizza restaurant, where he sat on the table until the food came, then on the seat next to me in the booth. There was enough going on (us making a fuss over him, little kids in an adjoining booth waving to him, toys and juice for him) to keep him happy, and every once in a while he let out a loud happy shriek to inform all the other diners of this. He goes through phases of shrieking, speechlike babbling, spitting (luckily not very often) and grumbling-groaning sounds.
He was >not< very patient at the two Passover dinners he went to, however. At that point in his life, having to sit still and be quiet for two hours was proportional to a 21-year-old doing it for three whole days! He was fine for a while at first, but then kept wanting to grab tablecloth, silverware and food, and got sick of every change of position within minutes.
I guess this will do for now, though I still haven't said much about his trip to Connecticut. I've already edited a lot of stuff (such as gratuitous vomiting details) out of this message because it was getting really long and rambling, and hopefully I can finish editing and get it onto Pyrzqxgl before Sam wakes up. (Yes, it does seem strange that for me to be able to write about all the impressive and cute things he does, he can't be doing any of them at the time. With one exception -- right now he and Jon are asleep on the waterbed and they look very cute.)
From Tachyon, 6-10-89, 09:03
Sam's Discoveries and Revelations
In Ray Bradbury's "Dandelion Wine", the main character, Douglas Spaulding, plans to immortalize his summer in a notebook divided into the sections "Rites and Ceremonies" and "Discoveries and Revelations". "Rites and Ceremonies" was for recording the first times you did or ran into regular summer things of note, such as "first time running barefoot in the grass" or "first mosquito". "Discoveries and Revelations" was to mark things done for the first time ever, including new theories and impressions.
As this is Sam's first "outside" summer I think this electronic notebook can skip the "Rites and Ceremonies" part, but "Discoveries and Revelations" will come in handy for remarking upon the new things he's doing, new experiences he's having, almost every day at this point. Obviously some of the stuff I post here will fall into the "who but Sam's parents could care less how many teeth he has on any given day?!?!?" category, but it will let me fit things in and keep track of them when I don't have time or inclination to write long journal messages. Also, the relentless hammering away of Sam doing or learning something new every day or so is a great reminder that we ought to be doing more of the same ourselves.
From Tachyon, 6-10-89, 09:07
A few recent ones off the top of my head ...
May 16th he got his first tooth.
May 27 was his first trip to San Jose and his first time (well, I think his feet were all that went in) in a hot tub.
May 30th was the first time he got into a sitting position on the floor by himself. Now he does it all the time.
May 31 was the first time he pulled himself up from a sitting to a standing position. (He had help in that he was sitting on my lap in front of a chair and so could just reach forward and take hold of the edge of the chair, but it was the first time he stood up without one of us helping by letting him hold our fingers.)
June 1 he met his Grandmother Jane and Uncle Anders.
June 7 was the first time he rode in the child seat of a grocery cart. Boy, does he enjoy it. It was also the first day he sat outside and played in the grass rather than being on a towel. Hmm, and it was also the first time he got to wreak havoc on a computer belonging to the U.S. government (no nuclear missiles were launched, though).
During the last week we noticed that he sometimes imitates sounds we make, and that we can get him into a "conversation" by imitating his sounds right back.
Yesterday was the first time he had anything with wheat in it.
June 8 was the first time he got a present in the mail where the sender had forgotten to remove the price tag before sending it. (Hmm, sounds like I should end this now before it gets too silly.)
From Tachyon, 8-16-89, 17:59
Today Sam climbed into the dishwasher for the first time.
And was not too pleased at me for taking him out.
From Tachyon, 9-08-89, 20:12
This is the first day I've seen Sam clap his hands.
He was very enthusiastic but didn't make a lot of noise.
From Tachyon, 9-22-89, 20:35
Today Sam figured out how to climb onto the kitchen chairs.
He bends over the seat, grabs the back of the seat, and with his arms pulls himself up onto the chair. Then he either sits and makes loud happy sounds, or tries to climb up to the counter or table to grab things he shouldn't. I am going to have to keep a close eye on him so he doesn't have a bad fall because of this.
From Tachyon, 10-09-89, 17:15
Three things Sam did for the first time today:
1. Usually if you build a tower with Sam's blocks and he doesn't immediately flatten it, he'll hand you blocks one by one for you to use as construction materials. But this morning he would hold up a block as usual, then snatch it away and crawl off with it, giggling, just as I would reach for it.
2. Was fed with a fork. (as opposed to a spoon, and it was french toast, BTW)
3. Ate pieces of a chocolate bar. (Of course that snob, DSA, will probably claim that milk chocolate doesn't count!)
From Tachyon, 11-28-89, 20:41
* Today Sam got his first shoes (red Nike hi-tops).
From Tachyon, 6-13-89, 19:36
Sam can crawl!
After months of sliding and turning, rocking and rolling, getting on his hands and knees only to move further away from his target as his legs slide back out behind him, he now can finally crawl forwards on his hands and knees.
He had been making good progress on this over the last few days: first, he figured out that he should move one knee at a time forwards, but would forget to move his arms and so would tip over and fall on his face. Then he would move his arms forward too quickly and fall on his stomach. But today he's doing well enough, though slowly, that I'd say he's really doing it.
As you would expect, this means he can get into more and more of our stuff (I think it was just yesterday he started to pull things off the living room table), but it's still easy enough to distract him and trade, say, a piece of junk mail for the book he was about to shred.
And yesterday I put his swing in the shed. When he first got it seven and a half months he looked very small in it (I was recently surprised to see how tiny he looked in some early Sam-in-swing pictures) but now he's outgrown it. It's rated to 25 pounds, which is what I estimate his weight at right now, and it's tight around him and creaks when I put him in.
Two more random items -- May 31 was his first time in a restaurant high chair (Aragona's) but he got bored quickly and spent most of the time in our (including Chroma's) laps and playing on the floor. June 5 was the first time he stayed in a restaurant high chair (Thai Place) throughout the meal. He had a good time banging his rattles onto the (it was really loud!) metal tray and throwing them onto the floor for me to retrieve.
Oh, and let's see: June 10 was the first time he played volleyball. Well ... we sat on the rug some distance from each other and rolled a volleyball back and forth to each other. Well I had better go ahead and save this now before it's too late to save Jon -- he's on the bed playing with Sam now and Sam keeps kicking him in inappropriate places.
From Tachyon, 6-18-89, 07:25
More firsts for Sam mixed in with some SCHS graduation stuff.
Yesterday Sam went to UCSC for the first time. At eight and a half months he did not become the youngest graduate; he had to graduate early from the (SCHS) graduation because he became very disruptive. Actually I could say he was there last year when Steve Guy graduated but somehow he was much more quiet back then -- willing to settle for only a little squirming!
We sat pretty close to the front and far to the left. Sam had a good time watching people walk around getting seats, and we saw many other babies there. He behaved while a student said the pledge of allegiance (many people in the audience were saying it along with the guy, which didn't register on me until they said "under God" during a pause by the student, who didn't say it). He enjoyed it when another student sang the Star Spangled Banner. He was happy during the principal's speech and the first valedictorian's speech, but during the second valedictorian's speech he suddenly started howling.
Which was very strange behavior for him. Usually he'll make "ehh ehh" noises of protest as he gets bored with something (sitting in the stroller in this case) and I can pick him up or change his position or give him his bottle of juice. But this time he didn't want any juice, and neither holding, rocking nor walking him back and forth would stop him from crying. At this point the third valedictorian was speaking, and I decided that we had better leave or other people wouldn't be able to hear the speeches. As soon as he was back in his stroller and rolling again he was happy. I stopped in another place to see if he'd be happy watching the graduation from there, but stopping made him start crying again. I rolled him around in the woods for a while and then took him home. So he didn't get to see Rapunzel graduate (and I assume Mermaid was also graduating) but I bet she heard him!
This SCHS graduation and last year's have been interesting to me because I remember my own high school graduation as having been pure B.S., and yet here are these students making stirring political speeches. Last year there were seven valedictorians and someone decided it would be cute to have them speak on "the seven virtues". But the first student got up and said something like, "I was supposed to write a speech about >whatever virtue< but instead I'm going to talk about discrimination." This year the first student dedicated his speech to protesting students in China, Palestine and South Africa, and that was the kind of thing he spoke about, too. The audience cheered throughout the speeches.
There were hokey speeches too, but each had at least one amusing moment. Last year a student was saying that people should be careful not to spend too much time at the beach during school hours or they wouldn't be able to get a BMW by the time they were 40! And this year the same sort of "Do your homework and listen to your teachers, don't goof off and take drugs because you think it's cool" speech had the interesting line, "don't have sex with lots of people you don't care about ... have safe sex with the one person you like the most!" Well, I thought it was amusing that this guy was basically telling the audience to go out and get laid.
I missed some of that speech because Sam was crying, and again, we left during the third valedictorian's speech, which was about an "environmental pledge" some of the students had decided to take: they would consider the environmental impact of any jobs offered to them. (I'll say something about the principal's speech in another message -- she gave statistics on what students were doing after graduation, which was surprising to me at least.)
Ok, now we return to more firsts for Sam: Most of his newest physical skills he gradually worked up to over the last week; it's hard to pinpoint the days that divided "almost doing it" from "doing it".
He now kneels, either by pulling up on an object or by pushing up from a crawling position.
When on the bed, he can put his hands on one of us and stand. (He hasn't done this on the floor or in his crib yet probably because the waterbed makes it easy by sinking down under the weight of his foot.)
He can crawl (a little) on hands and feet as well as hands and knees.
He's been getting better and better at playing my synthesizer. He can change and modify sounds, and messed up my playing (you probably didn't suspect it could be any more messed up than it already is) a few days ago by working the pitchwheel.
June 17 he met his Uncle Erik. Erik brought many presents for Sam from my mom, including his first set of alphabet blocks. At this point the toys have long since overflowed Sam's crib and are all over the house.
June 14 he went to Monterey for the first time. We dropped Filbo off at the airport (he'll be back 6/28) and took Sam to visit an old boss of mine.
June 16 he got interested in his large teddy bears for the first time. Until then he had only treated smaller objects as toys.
From Tachyon, 6-18-89, 20:06
Sam rocks out
He turned the volume on the synthesizer way up, he took portamento off, he put on a cello sound, he stood up with his hands on the keyboard in a loud drone, he lifted a leg in an arabesque. Nice!
The problem with all this increased mobility is that he also will be doing a lot more bumping into things and tipping over until he gets things down. At least he often is able to break a fall with his hands or by rolling into it.
The other big new thing for him today was that a half-grown (does that make me an optimist?) collie licked him all over the face. Sam smiled through this in a squinty way as if he was looking into the sun.
From Tachyon, 6-23-89, 14:52
Sam first got off the waterbed by himself yesterday.
He had been sitting on it with Jon for quite some time and was playing happily. I walked out of the room for a moment, Jon got off the waterbed and into the bathroom to brush his teeth, and there was a loud whomp as Sam rushed to the edge and went off it. It makes me glad that we stayed with our "frame on the floor" model rather than buying that platform bed with drawers a few months ago. I've been helping him ease himself over the sides so he doesn't fall on his face but so far he hasn't learned an easy way to get on and off.
June 20 was the first time he stood up on his own using the furniture (the living room couch -- though he's pushed himself up when playing the synthesizer before, it's so low to the ground that he's basically on hands and feet rather than standing upright).
He continues to progress in pulling himself up to the level of tables and shelves so he can pull down whatever's on them. He also likes to turn my synthesizer on and off over and over again in rapid succession so he can watch the LED go on and off. He's even started looking at the screen (well, sometimes!) when he types.
He pays more and more attention to the details of the world around him, to the point that he will notice and try to pick up a tiny ant. Unfortunately he has many opportunities to do this now because our house has been invaded by ants in search of water -- they've even gotten into the bathtub.
From Tachyon, 6-28-89, 03:37
Sam was nine months old on Monday.
Jon was very impressed with this milestone, as it meant Sam had now spent as much of his life outside as he had inside. I got Sam a musical keyboard of his own as a present, one that was small and battery powered with a built-in speaker, so he could play it in his crib and take it places and so on. It's a Casio SK-1 sampling keyboard with many different rhythms and voices that can be modified, the ability to record your playing, and probably a few other things I'll find out about once Jon gets tired of it and lets go of the manual.
Jon has been having great fun with the sampling ability -- saying things like "Sam is the best!" (I think I'll save him lots of embarrassment by not typing in some of the other phrases he was sampling) and then playing tunes for Sam "in" it. It's amazing how quickly your voice stops sounding like you when moved only a few notes up or down in pitch.
You probably get the idea that at this point Jon has been playing with it much more than Sam has. Well, yes, but Sam's been getting his hands on the keys and buttons too, sometimes when Jon's trying to do something else with it. He's even managed to sample himself twice that I've seen as he played with it: once a burbling sound and once a sireny shriek. At one point I heard a steady drone coming out of his crib and walked over to find him sitting on the keyboard. As I type this, however (which will probably be many hours removed from when I upload it), Sam is sitting in Jon's lap while Jon and Ulmo play with the keyboard.
Monday we bought two "baby gates" at Jacoby's, so we could keep him out of the bathroom, away from my exercise machine (to be explained in a message someday) when I'm using it, and any other time we need to temporarily close off an area to him here or at someone else's house. It was a strange experience to go to Jacoby's and realize that Sam is really past the period for many if not most of their various baby gadgets, that he's more of a little kid and less of a baby every day. I remember the first time we were out with Sam and saw someone with a baby who was actually smaller than he was. Now, they're all smaller. It all happened so fast.
I've been trying to figure out at what point I'll stop calling him a baby (this is complicated by the fact that I've always thought the word "toddler" sounded ridiculous) and I suppose it will be in three months on his first birthday -- I'll start saying I have a one-year-old rather than that I have a baby. Phoenix makes the point that to her mother she will always be "her baby", but that's not what I'm talking about.
The only new foods he's had recently are cantaloupe and yogurt. I tried him on the yogurt to see if he'd be able to deal with cows' milk yet. Wheat and dairy products are supposedly the top two substances many young babies are allergic to, with some people's advice being to put off trying them until a baby is a year old and less likely to have an allergic reaction.
I was basically going along with this, but after a while decided that (1) a year is a totally arbitrary figure, and here's Sam bigger than many one-year-olds and extremely healthy, (2) wheat and dairy products are in so many things that if he could handle them with no problems it would be nice to find out sooner rather than later so we wouldn't have to be as restrictive about what he eats, so (3) I would try him on them. Wheat he had no problem with, but unfortunately the yogurt didn't seem to go well with his digestive system, necessitating a rather messy clean-up during a trip to the UCSC libraries. I had no problem with cows' milk as a baby but Jon was allergic; I've heard many times that it made him cry constantly.
Sam is really getting to be an incredible crawler. Usually you can tell ahead of time when he's about to come into whatever room you're in because he makes no attempt to "tiptoe"; you hear a series of steadily louder thumps and bumps as he comes down or across the hall, slapping his palms and knees against the ground. It's a lot of fun to have him follow you around, decide to come visit you, or rush up and climb into your lap. It also means he's getting more and more into things, but that kind of stuff can be dealt with as it comes up or is about to.
He's still learning about what it means to be able to, at most any time, choose what he wants to do and go do it. Often he will charge off toward something but be distracted by something else along the way. He may crawl under the kitchen table but not be able to figure out how to get out again without bumping into a chair. Sometimes he can't seem to decide what he wants to do, and will get frustrated while making a few "steps" in one direction, stopping and going back, going a different direction, going back, and so on.
I may be projecting here, but I think the fact that he's become very willful over the past few days is a side effect of this realizing just how much he can control what happens to him. He used to be very easily distracted and basically would do something for a while, get bored, then you would move him to something or somewhere else and he would be entertained for at least a little while just by the change of scenery. Now if he likes what he's doing he knows it and may protest a lot if you try to move him on to something else. I think that both this and the frustration at sometimes not being able to decide what to do will calm down pretty soon as he continues to discover how much he can do no matter where he is.
Sunday night Phoenix came over to visit, and we played a game with Sam. We sat in opposite corners of the living room and built towers out of Sam's alphabet blocks. Sam spent his time charging back and forth from one of us to the other, knocking down the towers. Sometimes we could build fairly impressive structures before Sam's return trip, but usually we only made it to three or four stories. He was growling and roaring as he crawled back and forth so it was easy to make Godzilla jokes. I was going to title this message "I have become Sam, destroyer of buildings", but couldn't remember if the quote had a "have" or an "am" in it.
Jon got in on it after a while, too, and soon we were trying to show off for each other (rather than just keeping pace with Sam) by outdoing each other in creating show-offy, precariously balanced buildings, which often fell down of their own accord before Sam was able to reach them. Now, should I end this by echoing the tag line "The Greeks called it Hubris" from a recent comic strip I saw, or will it just cause the message to fall down of its own accord?
From Tachyon, 7-29-89, 08:32
Some stuff about ten-month-old Sam
Whereas nine months seemed like the milestone age to Jon ("now he's been out as long as he was in!"), ten months is the one that seems different to me. I know it sounds silly, but just the fact that it's double-digit just doesn't make him sound like a little baby to me anymore.
One thing he's been enjoying a lot this summer is his wading pool. Often we would be changing his diaper in the afternoon and decide to just bring him outside for a while instead of putting a new diaper on him right away -- he loves having his clothes off for a change and also playing outside while Jon works in the garden or hangs up laundry and so on. Sometimes he climbs onto things and pees standing up -- fortunately not on anyone's leg yet! We got a pool for him a few weeks ago and now he alternates between playing in the pool and sitting on a sheet or towel. He likes to play with floating toys and splash, though doesn't like it when some of the splashed water goes into his face. He also likes to reach over the side for handfuls of grass to drop into the pool.
I put a large metal mixing bowl in the pool, and he's learning (one imagines) about "inside" and "outside" as he drops toys into it and takes them out again. It also makes nice noises when hit with toys. The pool means we have to keep a closer watch on him anytime it's full and he's in the backyard, because he'll often crawl right over to it and start to climb in, undressed or not!
Jon has started reading to him, though at this point Sam wants to pull on the pages more than anything else. He does like his "pat the bunny" book, though, and will play with it by himself, turning the pages and feeling the "bunny" and other inserts.
Yesterday I got him a pack of tennis balls. After having heard many times about how my dogs used to love to play with tennis balls, Jon's first reaction to the idea was, "Now don't try to turn him into one of your dogs!", but they are nice soft bright-colored balls, just the right size for him to pick up with one hand, and even though he has lots of toys, he didn't have anything that bounced yet. He had a good time bouncing them around the kitchen -- picking them up and dropping or rolling them and then crawling after them.
He likes the game of dropping things in general. A nice example of this was yesterday when he was playing in his pool: he'd throw a yellow squeaking ball out of the pool, I'd throw it back in, he'd go over to it and throw it out again. A less appropriate example is when he threw a rattle on the floor about 25 times in the grocery store one day. (Actually I've started using toys with rings or other openings when we go out -- if he decides to keep throwing them on the floor I just run the seatbelt of the stroller through the rings.) And a sort of milestone of an example was when he gave a shelf in Jon's office a working-over two weeks ago -- one by one he pulled out each hardware or software manual and dropped it on the floor. After this Jon's office was added to the list of rooms rearranged to keep Sam out of things.
Several weeks ago I lowered the floor of his crib all the way -- he was pulling himself up on the sides and would have fallen out before too much longer if I hadn't done this.
"Sam's brother", "Sam's tree" or "weird placenta stories": Well, I'll try to explain this gently, kind of the way I did to my mom, who had never heard of anything like it before and thought it was rather strange. You know how some back-to-nature types are into eating their placentas? (Or maybe you don't ... "Placenta Helper" notwithstanding, my mom had certainly never heard of this.) Well, no, we didn't do that, but Jon thought it would be nice to plant a tree over Sam's placenta. An apple tree grown from seeds, specifically, and he had saved seeds for this (taken from a Jonathan apple) before Sam was born.
When Sam was born the seeds were still in an envelope, so the placenta went into the freezer where it did nothing but occasionally mildly freak people out when we remarked upon it. After many months Jon tried to get some of the apple seeds to grow, with no success. Then, about two months ago, we were at Orchard Supply and impulsively bought a dwarf lemon tree which then became "Sam's tree". Jon transplanted it (over the placenta) into a large tub in somewhat ceremonial manner. Remembering that identical twins share a single placenta, Jon started calling the tree "Sam's brother". It's growing well now. He also put some spare strawberry plants around it as "ground cover" for the tub, and now there are runners hanging down the sides of the tub, only a few days away from reaching the ground.
New foods: Peanut butter, corn flour, mango, papaya, kiwi fruit. He liked all of them. Now when's the last time >I< tried some new kind of food? Good question!
Sam loves to play with people's faces. Problem is, he has no concept of being gentle about it. He tries to stick his fingers into people's eyes and up their noses. He drew blood for the first time a few weeks back when he suddenly jammed a finger up Filbo's nose, giving him a nosebleed for a while. If he sees an open mouth he tries to stick his hand inside and down the person's throat. If he sees a closed mouth he sticks his fingers between the person's lips and tries to force them open. He also loves to grab hair (including beards, though sometimes he will just stroke them instead) and use it to pull a face close to his. I deal with this by taking his hand away from my face and tickling it, but I've often had to rescue Jon from Sam by just picking Sam up off Jon's face.
Sam loves to do whatever someone else is doing. I can set his little synthesizer by my big one and alternate playing songs on one and then the other. Whichever one I'm on, he comes over and starts playing himself, then switches to the other after I do. If I read a magazine he takes it away. If I pick up another he takes that one away. Anything anyone is using or holding he will try to take away. I have all kinds of automatic "hide/fool" tricks I used to keep things away from my dogs, but they don't all work with Sam. If I'm reading in bed and he goes after a book I can hide it under a pillow, he's not onto that yet. But if I try to hide something behind my back he definitely knows where it is and will go around.
Sam doesn't stand unsupported yet, but he's getting better and better at it, will stand very straight with only a handful of pant leg or hair (!) for balance. He can also let go completely while changing objects to hold onto. And he's good at smoothly lowering himself to a sitting or kneeling position afterwards. Many people have said things like, "Watch out when he starts walking -- he'll get into everything!". But he already gets into everything -- he crawls over, then pulls himself to a standing position. The difference between crawling and walking won't be that he'll be able to reach things he couldn't before, but that it'll be harder to outrun him when he's heading for something you don't want him to get into!
We don't have a lot of steps in the house for him to practice going up and down on, but he enjoys climbing on and off the waterbed over and over. He also crawls on top of my synthesizer. I had to put my synthesizer flat on the floor (it used to be on top of some phone books) because he was taking hold of the table behind it, stepping up onto the synthesizer so he could reach everything on the table, and finally falling off backwards when he tried to get back down and didn't realize he wasn't on the floor.
He loves anything with LED's on it. Besides turning both synthesizers on and off in rapid succession to watch the LED and manipulating the Caps Lock key on XBBS's keyboard for the same effect, he'll get into mischief by heading for modems and powerstrips with lighted switches. Yesterday he visited Tim Bowden at work and got very interested in the power switch and modem for some mainframe stuff. When I bring him into work he goes for the telephones with blinking lights and computers standing on end on the floor. Yesterday I caught him just before he hit a reset button.
I had to break down (hey, I liked sitting on the floor!) and make an actual desk sort of setup for my computer stuff at home to keep the modem and keyboards out of his reach. And if I don't keep the chair placed just right, he can still get to the Pyrzqxgl keyboard while holding onto the chair. So if you're ever on leaving a message and all sorts of garbage starts rolling across the screen ... well, yesterday I grabbed him while Oz was on and Sam's fingers were just about to come down on the keyboard. He really got mad, too, when I took him away from the keyboard.
I'm sure I had a lot more things to write about, but might as well end this now so I can post it before Sam wakes up. Well, he woke up when I typed that, and now he's sitting on my lap! Lessee ... in our bathroom we had to put the toilet paper on the toilet tank where he couldn't reach it, because he was unrolling it and shredding it all over the house.
From Tachyon, 8-07-89, 18:04
Today Sam rebooted XBBS for the first time.
Well you see, Jon and Filbo had this scheme to keep people from rebooting XBBS with Control-Alt-Del. Jon made it Shift-Control- Alt-Del instead. But guess who has no problem holding down the Control, Shift and Alt keys at once while crawling around on the keyboard?
Friday Sam learned to throw (tennis balls) rather than just picking things up and dropping them. Maybe we'd better trade in our CRT's for flat-panel LCD displays!
Wednesday he had chocolate ice cream for the first time. He liked it a lot, but what a mess! Usually I either thin his food with apple juice or thicken it with cereal flakes, so it's soft but not runny enough to drip all over him while I'm feeding him. But ice cream doesn't stay at one texture on a warm face! Instead of having little bits of food around his mouth, more and more dark-brown streaks appeared running down his chin and all over his clothes. What a mess!
From Tachyon, 8-11-89, 06:58
Sam gets his own bedroom, moves out of ours.
Jon said, "I guess this means we're middle class".
Yesterday afternoon The Dove helped move the last of Filbo's bedroom stuff over to Filbo and Irene's house. At some point while cleaning out the room afterwards, the final stage of metamorphosis between Filbo's room and Sam's room took place, and it was as if one room had vanished and another been set down in its place. Anyone who had ever seen Filbo's room would be quite amazed.
We moved Jon's old queen-size mattress (the pre-waterbed bed) in there to become Sam's bed, and the crib will be disassembled and put in the shed. I thought it would be good for him to have a bed he could easily and safely climb on and off of himself (he'd have been able to climb out of the crib before too much longer, with less than wonderful results), as well as other people being able to get on it with him. Actually Sam had slept on this bed before, with me -- for a few days after he was born, when it was much easier for me to get on and off of it than the waterbed. Some of the work of getting him born was done on it too. He's sleeping on it now as I write this.
His changing table/dresser is in there, with a lamp that was a present from Jon's father. Stuffed animals are lined up along one wall. The mobile we had to take out of his crib when he could stand up and pull it down is now back in service attached to a shelf. At night (or any other time this would be necessary), one of the "baby gates" goes in the door to make his whole room effectively a crib or playpen. Tomorrow we'll go out to pick some material to make better curtains for him.
From Tachyon, 8-15-89, 12:08
Yesterday Sam had pie (raspberry-strawberry-cream) for the first time.
And today he ate zucchini for the first time. Lucky him, eh? Actually, he's gotten to the point where I'm not worried about feeding him anything we eat, after some mashing to make up for the fact that he only has two teeth. Except that almost every non-dessert-type thing we eat is loaded with garlic and hot peppers. I don't think I'll try him on any "hot" dish until he's old enough to talk and understand speech, so I can warn him about what he's about to experience rather than giving him a complete surprise.
A week ago we had several people over for dinner. I made a pie and Jon cooked a turkey (with stuffing and gravy) and candied yams. Jon was a bit miffed that none of the guests liked his yams, but Sam really loved them. At this point Sam is happy to eat whatever strange concoction I give him (for example, kiwi fruit mixed with beef), so he ought to make both Jon and I feel our cooking is more appreciated when one of us makes things that the other can't stand.
From Tachyon, 8-25-89, 06:05
Sam will be eleven months old tomorrow.
Yesterday he played with soap bubbles for the first time. I remembered that we still had some bottles left from a batch Teddy Bear gave us years ago, and brought one into his bedroom and started blowing bubbles. At first he would go after the ones that landed intact on the rug, and look quite surprised when they vanished at the touch of his hand. Later when Phoenix was blowing bubbles he just sat on the floor, reached for the ceiling and happily waved his hands around to pop the falling bubbles.
Less charmingly, Wednesday he played with the water in a toilet for the first time. We have a baby gate blocking off the main bathroom, but usually just leave the door to the bathroom in our bedroom shut. Sometimes he does follow one of us in and try to get into things, usually unrolling toilet paper or mangling any reading material on the floor. But this time he stood up in front of the toilet, stuck in his hand, and began to splash around.
He's been standing much better in general (very straight, holding onto something with one hand for support, as opposed to being bent forward a bit at the waist) and reaching higher, so he's been getting into lots of things that were safe from him only a week or so ago. Visitors may have seen that the second shelf of Jon's office bookshelf is empty because Sam liked to pull all the manuals off -- well, a few days ago he started on the third shelf. So I quickly crammed a few more manuals into it until things were jammed in too tightly for him to pull out.
Last week we got him a nice old wooden highchair. When feeding him solid food I've just always done it with him sitting on the floor in whatever room we're doing things in. But as he learns to feed himself, the highchair should restrict his food throwing to one area! He enjoys sitting in it, and things than normally make him quite angry (opening the refrigerator to get something, but closing it before he can crawl over and pull food onto the floor) don't bother him when he's in the highchair. In his own highchair or in a restaurant's, if you put any toys or other objects onto his tray he will happily throw them on the floor.
A week ago we took Sam to dinner at Dave and Lina's (my "ex" and his wife) place. They're used to eating their meals sitting on the floor (no table there) and you can imagine how we had to hold a squirming Sam to keep him from crawling from (and onto) plate to plate. Dave had made very spicy Indian food, so all I could try on Sam was a spoonful of rice. This was a completely new texture for him, but I think he did swallow some of it though some he just held in his mouth for a while and then let it fall out onto the rug.
Dave has a houseful of instruments of all kinds, and while Sam loves to play synthesizers and listen to the radio, he's not used to the volume of acoustic instruments played at concert (practice, at least) volume. So when Dave played a saxophone or a set of Greek bagpipes, Sam held his ears and started to cry.
He did, however, enjoy Jon's drumming. Dave had picked up a drum kit (and added various ethnic percussion devices here and there also) since I last saw his setup, and Jon was having a great time playing it. So much so that he was speculating on where in our house he'd put a drum kit, and hinting about whether Dave was going to sell his when they moved to Kentucky in October. I would hand drumsticks to Sam and he'd occasionally use them to bang a cymbal or metal drum stand; otherwise he'd pat things with his hands, work a kick-pedal with his hand, or "sing" along with Jon's drumming.
One fond memory of a dog I used to have, Carmel, is how she would sometimes run around the yard propelling a large plastic ball in front of her with her front legs. Sam has basically been doing the same thing with some medium-size balls and a balloon. It's fun to watch him clumping around playing instead of just sitting still with blocks or keyboards.
For quite a while, even after he started crawling, Sam would stay put if we set him on a towel in the back yard. But now he enjoys crawling all over the yard, especially over to the strawberry patches to rip leaves off the plants. This is OK, he doesn't do much damage, but when he goes to the main garden I pull him out. One time he crawled over to Jon's fennel plants and sat on them.
When he's playing in his pool he'll sometimes decide to climb out and crawl around the yard instead, and this is pretty funny because, wet, he gets covered with grass and dirt, and has to be cleaned off again before coming inside. These days he treats his pool a lot like a highchair -- methodically throws his toys out of it onto the ground. If he's in a good mood you can throw them right back in and he'll enjoy charging around in the water collecting them and ejecting them again. But if his patience is wearing thin, he'll get mad if you throw them back in after he's thrown them out.
Last week I made Sam a large peanut-butter jar full of mashed squash and tofu. He was crazy about it, kept wanting more and more, was eating about twice his usual daily amount of solid food. After he finished it I made a jar of mashed apples and tofu, which he likes but not to the degree he did the squash-tofu.
I've started bringing little jars of solid food to restaurants for him as well as the old this-will-absolutely-keep-him- entertained-while-we-eat bottle of juice. And last week he ate his first restaurant food (we always get such spicy food that there's not much he can share) -- tomatoes off of a pizza at Aragona's. I don't really know what he thought of them -- he was making horrible sour faces while eating the things, but kept opening his mouth for more, which he won't usually do if he doesn't like something.
Earlier this week he figured out how to open Jon's stereo cabinet, and was flipping switches and pulling buttons. I was worried he'd hurt himself on the glass doors (as well as messing up all the settings and pulling records out) so I put a box in front of it. He doesn't like this at all.
Sam's now getting a third tooth (right top front), so Jon has modified one of his silly nicknames for Sam, "two-tooth Sam" to take this into account.
Sam is very affectionate. He likes to put his arms around a person's face or neck and hug, holding his face and body against them. Unfortunately he's likely as not to be pulling hair or pinching skin at the same time, but it's still cute.
From Tachyon, 9-15-89, 15:57
Sam, bears and books.
I was just making Sam laugh like crazy (a long hahahahahahah!!!) by animating his teddy bears. I put a pair of sunglasses on one and would make it jump up and down whenever Sam pulled the glasses off. He thought this was incredibly funny. Two other things that had him practically falling all over himself laughing were when I made a smaller bear dance on a larger bear's head, and when I had a bear playing synthesizer by dancing on the keys. Shouldn't make him laugh too much just yet though -- he caught Jon's cold and lot of laughing starts him coughing.
He also has figured out a use for all the books he pulls down from our bookshelves: put one under each hand and he can "skate" around the house, they slide so he doesn't have to lift his hands to crawl. Books get scattered all over the house, but I can take it in stride and pretend that the ones that end up in conspicuous places are his personal selections of the books he thinks I should read or reread next.
From Tachyon, 9-16-89, 07:30
He does accelerate the wear and tear on books; covers come off that were starting to come off already, but he doesn't rip them to shreds like he does magazines and newspapers. It does, however, seem a hopeless task to put the books back on the shelves.
Another fun thing for him to do is to play with a flashlight in a dark room. Much of the time he acts as if he understands the cause and effect of the light beam -- he waves the flashlight around, watching the moving spot of light on ceiling and walls. But sometimes when he sets the flashlight down on its side, he seems to see the stationary lit spot on door or wall as a separate object and charges over to it. Of course when he gets there he blocks the beam and his quarry disappears!
It is interesting to try to figure out (whether correctly or incorrectly) how his mind works, as well as being able to see everyday objects from a new perspective that finds them all really fascinating. Jon thinks that having watched Sam's mind develop will be useful, relevant experience if he ever gets back into AI work.
From Tachyon, 9-26-89, 11:25
Today Sam is one year old.
And I'm about to leave for the grocery store to get ingredients to make him some birthday cakes.
From Tachyon, 11-09-89, 18:30
Sam took his first steps today.
(Details later ... I'm behind on finishing one of those long journal entries.)
From Tachyon, 11-24-89, 02:38
Sam's first steps and so on ...
How Sam took his first steps on the 9th: I was talking to Jon on the phone, with Sam standing in the hall watching me, and I remarked that he looked like he wanted to walk, because he was starting to shift his weight back and forth from one foot to another. Then he took a small step with one foot and then the other. Jon complained that he had missed it. Jan will, too -- he used to say he wanted to see Sam walking before he and Mary Ellen left for Florida. Then Sam goes and starts walking the day after they leave!
Since then he's gotten much better at keeping his balance and at taking bigger steps. He gets a big kick out of walking, but at this point doesn't have much incentive to go more than a few feet at a time: in most places in our house you can't walk a few feet in any direction without running into furniture or walls anyway, and for any longer distance he can still get there much faster by crawling.
Sam had learned to stand without holding anything for support, along with climbing down backwards from high surfaces, on our recent Central CA "get away from the aftershocks" trip. He hadn't had much opportunity for the latter at home, since the beds here are down on the floor, but on the trip there were plenty of hotel beds and benches for him to practice on.
Sam had lots of fun exploring everywhere we went on the trip. So much so that he would sometimes cry in frustration when we'd scoop him up, which he doesn't really do around here. He crawled around inside and outside Hearst Castle, all over the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum, outside Mission Santa Barbara, and up and down (and up and down and ...) the stairs at a park in Solvang, among other things. (In general he loves stairs and will repeatedly climb up and down whenever he can find a set.) He also enjoyed exploring hotel rooms, watching the news (it's very rare that he sees a CRT doing anything other than being a computer monitor) and throwing toys into the shower stalls and so on.
Visitors to our house are used to seeing Sam eat lots of weird- looking mush, such as (for some reason this is the one that always stuck in people's minds) kiwi fruit mashed with baby-food beef. He does love that kind of stuff, but lately we've been working on getting him to eat more normal food. The constant parade of restaurants during our trip was good for this, because we had to share our meals with him and had no cuisinart or potato masher to prepare strange concoctions. Enchiladas, pizza and omelettes were a few of the things he ate. In Solvang ("Little Denmark") he ate Danish pastry and pancakes. In a "home cooking from all around the world" restaurant he had all the tofu and mushrooms from my noodle dish. At Andersens' Pea Soup restaurant in Buellton he had pea soup, bread and some of my chocolate milkshake.
Jon remarked a few times what a "middle America"-style trip it ended up being, and part of the proof of this was that there would be tour buses full of old people everywhere we went. Just the sort of people to walk over and make a tremendous fuss over Sam whenever they saw him ... this was also lots of fun for Sam. In general everything about the trip except some of the driving was fun for him -- constant attention and lots of new things to see and do.
On 10/26 Sam was 13 months old. I remember when I used to measure his age in days, then half weeks, then weeks, then half months. With his first birthday it went to months. A few years down the line it will go to half years and then years. It's interesting to watch time go by this way when, otherwise, as an out of school Californian (no summer vacations or extreme changes in weather to mark the passing years) all seasons pretty much run together.
I was wondering when I would stop referring to him as a "baby", and thought perhaps that with his first birthday I'd start calling him a "one-year-old" instead. Nope, that was as silly as asking "do you feel different?" to a person at midnight on their 21st birthday -- nothing really changed except that the amount of toys underfoot went up again!
Sam continues to learn new ways to make mischief as his reach, grip and mischief database increase. Recently the kitchen smelled smoky and we discovered that he had managed to turn one of the burners on high, making a nice spiral pattern in the middle of a cooky sheet that happened to be sitting on the stove. He also figured out how to open the dryer, which means it will probably regularly fill up with toys. He likes to put blocks into people's shoes.
He gets into the kitchen cupboards, alternately depositing toys and other objects into pans and mixing bowls, and pulling out pan lids to noisily slam against the floor. He pulls the trash out of trash cans and replaces it with items such as books, mail and his own toys. He found a mudpuddle in the backyard and splashed in it until he was soaked and his face covered with dark spots. (Jon thought that his face looked too perfect, like stage make-up rather than the result of actual splashing.) Etc.
Sam really likes cats. (He'd probably like dogs, too, if there were any wandering around in the neighborhood.) Several come into our backyard to beg for food, dig in the garden or eat trash from the compost heap, and Sam crawls around after them. He likes them so much that when he ignores my calling his name (maybe he's crawling at full speed toward the garden with the intent of smearing tomatoes all over himself) I can always get his attention by meowing at him -- he'll stop whatever he's doing and look around for the cat.
Only one of these neighbor cats will actually let Sam come near it, and it's been very patient with letting itself be mauled by him. Sometimes he pets it very gently, but other times he will slap or pull its fur, or try to grab its face, and once he kind of flopped right on top of it. (I try to get him to be gentle but sometimes he gets a few swipes in anyway.) The cat never snarls, claws or bites, but just walks off when this happens. I've picked this cat up a few times, and after being used to carrying Sam around, the cat feels like it weighs about a half pound.
A few days after his first birthday we took Sam to the San Francisco Zoo. Jon found it kind of disappointing that Sam took more interest in the pigeons vying for our zoo fast food, and in climbing up and down the gift-shop stairs (it was the first time he'd climbed stairs) than in most of the exotic animals. Well, most of the animals were pretty far away from Sam's position near the guard rail, and sitting or laying still at that, so there wasn't much to get his attention. He isn't old enough to understand stuff like, "Look up at that koala sitting in the tree", and at this point in his life a rhino standing in the distance probably doesn't look any more unusual than do cars driving down a street. He did take an interest in animals that were active and close to him, like the aforementioned pigeons, the penguins, and the roaring lions at feeding time.
The zoo also provided him with his first ride in a playground swing. We wanted to take him to the petting zoo, but decided to go there last, and then found out that it was closed -- it closes an hour earlier than the rest of the zoo. We'll probably take him to the county fair next summer when he can better appreciate all the animals and so on.
After the zoo we went to a Burmese restaurant on Clement St. We had a multi-course vegetarian dinner for two which was pleasant enough but very mild in terms of spiciness. This was disappointing to Jon but perfect for Sam, who ate quite a bit of one of the main courses, "Tofu ala Burma" (tofu with garlic, ginger and cilantro). This was the first time he'd eaten restaurant food in any quantity, though I'd given him tastes of things in the past. I also fed him tofu from the lemon grass soup. Yes, he really loves tofu.
Guests at Sam's first birthday party were Sam Yorko, Phoenix, Jan, Filbo, Chroma, Irene and Fathom. Once again, we didn't want to have so many people here that it ended up being one of those parties where Sam gets in the way! Sam sat in his high chair with a piece of each of his cakes, chocolate and apple, which he proceeded to smear all over himself and the chair, and crumble all over the floor. A bath quickly followed this performance.
We had arranged Sam's presents on the floor to see if he'd be able to get them unwrapped. He pulled off some bows, but (I would say) had no reason to suspect the packages of having removable skins. I think he did help pull wrapping paper while we were unwrapping things, though, and had fun ripping it up and waving it around afterwards.
These are the presents he got: lots of colorful wooden blocks, a toy drum, a bee puppet and an octopus puppet, a "shape sorter" box with 18 differently-shaped holes for (yep) 18 differently- shaped pieces, two kinds of wooden trikes, a wagon, clothes, a tambourine (a few of these things arrived after the party, via mail or UPS), a bouncy ball and a toy truck. He was having a great time playing with all this stuff, with help from all the older people. (As has been remarked before, think of all the different toys we'll get to play with over the years!) He stayed up until about 11 p.m., which is unusually late for him (though he's done it more since then), but he was getting lots of attention and never became irritable.
From Tachyon, 12-08-89, 16:24
A few more Sam things
Sam has really been taking an interest in his stuffed animals lately, he likes to carry them around and hug and kiss them. Yesterday I handed Sam an m&m and he tried to feed it to his stuffed monkey before eating it himself.
When Jon walks out of a room (or one of us carries Sam out of a room where the other one is) Sam will wave goodbye. If he sees us kiss he will start smacking his lips. If I do sit-ups he sometimes does them too.
Another nice thing Sam does now is to hold his arms up when he wants to be picked up. If you're close enough to the ground he'll run over to you with his arms stretched out and throw them around your neck.
Sam's lemon tree has its first flower, which smells very nice. I didn't know that even the leaves of a lemon tree are very lemony -- if you scratch one your fingers will smell like a lemon. We ought to start collecting lemon recipes in anticipation of having lots of lemons sometime, and even for now, because we bought a bunch of limes a few days ago. So far we have had a lime-chiffon pie and a lime-cranberry pie.
On Tuesday Sam went to a movie theater for the first time, and saw Back to the Future, Part II. (Hey, with the Rio the only theater in town that seems to have a baby room anymore, and the Sash Mill/Nickelodeon establishment's discouragement of babies, we're not going to be seeing many movies for a while. I haven't been interested in most of the movies that have come to the Rio.)
The baby room is a small enclosed (glass wall in the front) balcony room with a few rows of seats and then an area for walking around behind them. There is an adjustable speaker on the wall, but unfortunately it would sometimes do its own adjusting. For us people who like to sit way up front, this room just made the screen look like a big TV.
For a while he sat on my lap staring at the screen, completely entranced. Then he got squirmy, so I gave him some juice. He was happy with that for a while, then got squirmy again, so we were passing him back and forth. What he wanted to do was to take advantage of the echoey room by charging around wham! wham!! wham!!! while yelling "aaaaaaahhhhh!!!!" at top volume, but since there was another group in there with us (with an older child) this did not seem to be workable. (He did get started on it a few times, though.) By the end of the movie we were taking turns standing up and holding him.
I used to point at Jon and say "da-da" to Sam, and after a while Sam would do it too. Problem is, what he got from this was not that Jon was "da-da", but that pointing was "da-da", so whenever he would point at something he would say da-da. He has called some pretty funny things da-da. He will move from thing to thing pointing, and we will tell him what the things are. Sometimes he seems to be paying attention (imitating "bah" for bear and "dah" for dog), but when he gets overexcited everything turns back into da-da. Sometimes it also has seemed like he is imitating the number of syllables in a word rather than the word itself.
Return to Tané's page for Sam