Friday, October 31, 2008


So, Joseph has started using that famous toddler word, "NO!", quite liberally right now.

What's funny is that he uses it in two very different ways. The first use is traditional; that is, he says "NO!" when he doesn't want to do something.

But the second is when he DOES want to do something, but knows that we'll say no. For instance, he'll drop food on the floor while looking at us and shaking his head and saying "NO! NO!"

Also, my favorite use of this breed of "No" was last night. We were moving (yuck) and so the front door was open for long periods of time while Todd and some stalwart ward members were moving furniture. Whenever the door was open Joseph would try to run outside but everytime he got close I would say, "No."

So then he spent a considerable period of time going near the door, pointing outside, and saying, "No! No! No!," quite despairingly. Eventually, of course, he would give into temptation and make a mad dash.

Funny boy. We need to teach him "Yes."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Patching It Up

We went to a pumpkin patch a couple of weeks ago. This is a tradition that we started last year, and, unlike the tradition of putting Joseph in a pumpkin, this tradition lasted for a second round.

I was excited to take lots of good pictures of Joseph because last year we got some really good ones. Well, it turns out that it was much easier to take pictures of Joseph last year when he was five months old, relatively uninterested in the pumpkin patch, and utterly immobile, than it was this year when all he wanted to do was climb all over the pumpkins instead of pose for pictures. But we got some good ones, and it's fun to compare.

Pumpkin Patch 2007:

With Cousins Lena and Dojo

With dad


With Mom

Pumpkin Patch 2008:

With Mom

All alone (which he couldn't really do last year unless we laid him on the wet ground).

He loved sitting on the pumpkins ...

Climbing on the pumpkins ...

And jumping on the pumpkins (ouch!)

With Lena (couldn't get Dojo in the picture)

Scoping things out

Come to think of it, there are lots of differences between our visit last year and this year. They include:

1. Last year, it was cold. This year, it was hot.
2. Last year, we had to evacuate the day after the pumpkin patch because of fires. This year, we did not.
3. Last year, we ate lots of samples in the country store. This year, they didn't have any good samples.
4. Last year, Joseph ate breastmilk at some point during the visit. This year, he ate funnel cake. Much healthier.
5. Last year, we were too poor to take Joseph into the petting zoo. This year, we could spare the two dollars.

Speaking of the petting zoo, it was perhaps Joseph's favorite part of the pumpkin patch. Joseph is obsessed with animals and always gets really excited when he sees dogs or cats or birds or squirrels or rabbits around the park. He rarely gets to touch them, though ... and sometimes when people are nice enough to let him see their dogs, he ends up getting scared if they charge at him. So I wasn't sure how he'd react to being penned up with a bunch of goats, sheep, geese, chickens, ducks, and even a baby pig. He loved it.

Petting Zoo Fun:

Mom and Joseph with a cute little goat

Joseph and his friend

Getting ready to hit an innocent sheep. When Joseph gets really excited, instead of laughing or smiling he starts yelling really loud and (softly) hitting things. So there was a lot of yelling and hitting/petting. But I promise he was gentle.

Not so gentle, though, when he decided to be a lion tamer.

There were a bunch of ducks in this igloo thing. Joseph tried to go inside, and they all ran out toward him. It gave him quite the scare.

Also, I'm pretty sure the petting zoo gave him ring worm. No biggie. When I suspected this I promptly scheduled an appointment and started researching ring worm. I was pleasantly surprised to know that it's not a worm at all, it's just a fungus like athlete's foot or something. Still somewhat gross, but not NEARLY as gross as worms crawling under my baby's skin.

All in all, I think we'll do this again next year. Maybe we'll replace the petting zoo with a tractor ride, though.


We're in the middle of moving. We'll post more about the new place once we've moved in.

For now, Joseph likes asserting his dominance over the new boxes in his play area.

Moving also involves a lot of cleaning. Joseph still doesn't mesh well with vacuuming, but he really likes to sweep with the Joseph-sized broom that the Toddster broke during a particularly intense cleaning session.

After sweeping inside the house, Joseph got bored and decided that the rest of the neighborhood needed some sweeping too.

This week we're really grateful for friends who have taken Joseph during the mornings so that we could make more progress on our move.

Joseph's a little stressed that he won't have enough time to finish sweeping the rest of the neighborhood, but we're hoping he'll forget once he gets settled into his new surroundings.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween Horror

Last Halloween, according to some, we traumatized our young son by putting him in a pumpkin.

As you can see from the following picture, he quite liked the pumpkin

This year, Erin wouldn't let me put him in a pumpkin, and yet another annual family tradition fizzles.

Sticking with our theme of "Last Halloween" here's a shot of Joseph in his 2007 costume:

We’re still not sure whether he was a baby duck or a baby chick, but either way he looked pretty cute…at least that’s what we thought.

Joseph seems to feel that his costume from 2007 made him look “fat,” and he doesn’t really like it when we show the pictures to other people.

So this year we were determined to find a costume that de-emphasized Joseph’s cheeks. After polling family members and sifting through various websites, we settled on this costume:

Joseph, the Triceratops

From this picture you might think that Joseph loved his costume the moment he slipped it on, but you'd be wrong.

The following images--taken within seconds of the above photo--show his true first impression of his 2008 Halloween costume.

Get this off of me!

Why did you put THIS on my head?

We tried to re-assure Joseph that his costume was in fact very cool by showing him what he looked like in the mirror.

Far from having the desired effect of soothing his troubled soul, all we succeeded in doing was dredging up insecurities about his weight from last Halloween.

He turned to his father for escape, but all I did was point a camera at him.

I tried to re-assure Joseph that his costume didn't make him weigh more, but he didn't believe me.

OK, so maybe that wasn't a very accurate description of Joseph's inner thoughts. But, as you can clearly tell from the photos, he really didn't like his costume when he first tried it on--but he wasn't so traumatized that he forgot about how much he likes to stomp on the bathroom scale.

Fast forward to yesterday at Nana & Grandpa's house, where all of Joseph's Toddster-cousins (minus Kristen--Feel better soon!!) are wearing their Halloween costumes for the Halloween party at Nana's church.

Suddenly, wearing a costume isn't so bad after all:

After a few moments of observation, Joseph quickly got caught up in the fun of wearing his costume with all of the other cousins:

Here's a shot of all of the cousins together in costume

From L-R we have: A proud Ninja, Elphaba the Witch, an out-of-position Triceratops, another Witch, and 50-Cent dressed up as Darth Vader.

Here's another group shot, this time with Grandpa corralling the roaming Triceratops:

(Grandpa is dressed up as a guy pretending like he didn't have heart surgery two days ago)

Joseph never once tried to take off his costume--although the claw-mittens on his hands did interfere with his ability to pick up candy.

Once we got to the Halloween Party, he loved running around and checking out all the kids' costumes. He even pulled out a few new dance moves, but it was too dark to get any pictures.

Joseph had gone his whole life (all 17 months) without really ever eating candy. We gave him some last night and he giggles when he tastes it. Not wanting to tempt him too much, I'm planning on eating the rest of his candy by tomorrow.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Things that never happened

So last night, it started to get later and later, but Joseph still hadn’t gone to bed. He was really excited to see the final game of the ALCS to see who would be playing the Phillies in the World Series. He even had his baseball pajamas on.

You see during most of the season, Joseph doesn't really care about baseball. But every October, he gets fired up for the post season and even starts to wax nostalgic about the glory of America's Pastime.

Unfortunately, last night's game went on well past his bedtime. Even more unfortunate was Joseph's disappointment when he found out this morning that his retro-baseball jacket from daddy's childhood was now officially totally worthless for the 2008 World Series.

Tampa Bay?

Like most of America, Joseph woke up this morning to the stunning news that Tampa Bay has a Major League Baseball franchise.

This post also provides a good opportunity to see how Joseph has grown into his cheeks over the past year:

October 16, 2007

Some of you (but not enough of you) out there are alarmed at this jacket. But you needn't worry: Joseph has been raised in a good home where he has been taught proper disdain for all things Red Sox.

Joseph was just sort of amused at the possibility of having a jacket with both World Series teams on it (as long as the Dodgers won the series).

We're hoping that the Dodgers make a comeback next October (even though daddy's jacket won't fit) and we'll get to see Manny take down the Sox in Bean Town.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Rare Performance

Joseph is utterly fascinated with his world. He spends all day, every day, pointing at everything he sees and waiting expectantly for us to name it. If he hears a noise outside, he points to the source. When we read books, he'll let us read through the book once, and then he'll go back through and point at everything on the pages and have us name it. When we go outside or drive in the car, he points at plants, cars, planes, birds, squirrels, everything, and if we don't chime in with the name, he grunts to make sure he has our attention.

He is far less interested, however, in communicating to us the name of anything. Sometimes it's hard to tell what words he knows because he is very selective about when he responds. There are definitely things that will always get a response: "fruit snacks?" or "raisins?" results in an instant grin and dash to the cupboard to receive his goodies; "want to go get daddy?" and he immediately rushes to the bedroom to wake Todd up in the morning; "outside" or "want to go bye bye" directs him straight to the door; "say prayer?" and his arms are folded before you can finish the word -- unless he's distracted by new toys or new people. There are definitely a lot of things he responds to -- every day things like breakfast and bathtubs and what have you. So we know he comprehends a lot.

But when we try to solicit performances, he's very reticent. Often he waves goodbye, but not always, and usually when *he* realizes everyone is saying goodbye but not when we tell him to wave goodbye. And although he is constantly pointing at things for us to name, he rarely points things out that we ask him to show. In fact, he does the opposite. If we're looking at a page in a book with a dog and a cat, and say, "where's the dog," he'll inevitably point to the cat. I know he knows the difference; often I'll ask him to point at something and I'll see him *look* at it, and then point to something else. I think perhaps he thinks that since the dog has already been named, it's time to draw attention to the cat.

But today Todd and I were treated to a rare performance that let me know that he really IS learning all of these words we are constantly saying, even if he doesn't show it. He was playing with a car and making car noises, so we said, "what does a car say" and he responded with his version of "vrrrooom."

Then we followed up with questions like what does a dog say, what does a bird say, and he made appropriate noises.

Then, where is your hair, your ears, your nose, your eyes, your belly button, your diaper, your socks ... and he was pointing away in all the right places.

Of course this stopped eventually and he was back to observation mode. But I'm convinced that when he does decide it's time to work on his oral communication skills, he's got an arsenal of words stored up. For now, he'll just absorb some more.

And point. Which, as evidenced in the photograph below (taken when he was about 9 months), he's been doing for a long time now.

Monday, October 13, 2008


This morning while I was getting ready for work, Joseph, as usual, was exploring the bathroom drawers and cupboards. He found a small bar of soap and, to my surprise, took a bite. Maybe he thought he'd said a bad word, because that's the only time we ever make him eat soap.

Hah! Just kidding.

Anyway, he made a face, dropped the soap, and spit the piece out into my hand.

Then he picked up the soap and did it again.

I decided it was time for breakfast.

This picture is totally unrelated to the story, but isn't he handsome in his big boy clothes?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Playing Dead

You know how on the local news they always have some story about a pet that saved its owner's life by somehow calling 9-1-1 when the owner became incapacitated?

Despite appearing on the "local" news, these stories always happen in a state nowhere near your own and are usually preceded by an unrelated story about a remarkable third grader (who also doesn’t live in the same state as you and lives in a different time zone than both you and the heroic dog). This is one reason why I never watch the local news.

But, inspired by the stories of life-saving pets, I conducted my own experiment today to see what Joseph would do if I were suddenly knocked unconscious.

This all came about spontaneously when Joseph tackled me (he does this frequently). While bracing myself to hit the floor, I nearly bumped my head on some hard plastic toy that I hadn’t seen when I planned my fall.

As I lay on the floor, I thought to myself, "What would Joseph do if I were suddenly incapacitated by being knocked unconscious?" I then stayed on the floor and held very still.

Through this experiment I found that Joseph would

1.) Try to run over my head with his Corn Popper riding toy
2.) Throw golf balls at my legs
3.) Go to the other side of the room and play with a doorstop
4.) Not make it on the local news for saving my life when I become incapacitated

Now, some of you nay-sayers may be thinking, "He knew you were faking, so your results aren't valid."

To you I say, "I was holding really, really still."

Now, some of you other nay-sayers may be thinking, "You should have waited longer to see what he would do after he played with the doorstop. Maybe he just didn’t notice that anything was wrong yet."

You have a point.

But, after he had played with the doorstop for a while, he came back over to my (seemingly lifeless) body and started to throw golf balls again, but this time he was aiming north of my legs, so I abandoned my experiment with the hope that I would not be precluded from one day repeating this experiment with Joseph’s future siblings.

The rest of you nay-sayers (we have a lot of nay-sayers who read this blog) are thinking, "You didn’t use the scientific method. How do I know your experiment was reliable?"

For you, I have reproduced my findings below, using the scientific method taught to me in public schools:
Problem – What are you trying to figure out? Write this in the form of a question.
What would Joseph do if I were suddenly incapacitated by being knocked unconscious?

Hypothesis – What do you think you are going to find out?
Joseph will try unsuccessfully to revive me

Materials – List the materials you will use in the experiment.
Me, pretending to be unconscious
Room full of household objects

Procedures – Make a detailed list of the steps in your experiment.
I will stay on the floor
I will hold very still
I will keep my eyes barely open so that it looks like they are shut, but I can still see
I will wait to see what Joseph does

Results – What did you observe when you performed the experiment?
1.) Joseph tried to run over my head with his Corn Popper riding toy
2.) Joseph threw golf balls at my legs
3.) Joseph went to the other side of the room and played with a doorstop

Conclusion – From what you observed, how would you answer your original question?
Joseph would:
1.) Try to run over my head with his Corn Popper riding toy
2.) Throw golf balls at my legs
3.) Go to the other side of the room and play with a doorstop
So, writing this reminded me how much I really didn’t like science classes at all.

It's no wonder America can't get kids to like science. Instead of telling kids, "Hey, want to learn about dinosaurs? Or how to blow things up? or how to help sick people get healthy?" we say, "Fill out every step of this repetitive form, or else you have to do the whole thing all over again." There has got to be a better way to introduce kids to science than making them fill out tedious worksheets--that's what math class is for :) .

Anyway, I guess this whole post was just my way of saying if you want to see what Joseph is up to, don't bother watching the local news, just look at this website.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Getting Smarter

During the last week or so, it appears that Joseph has turned a corner. It's hard to describe, but he now interacts and plays with things less like an infant and more like a little kid.

For example, the other day I said to Joseph, "Joseph pretend to be a businessman from the late eighties or early nineties." And this is what he came up with:

OK, so that's not really what I mean, but it gave us a good excuse to post these pictures. Joseph does like to put on my glasses and push buttons on the phone and wait to see what sort of noises come out of it.

He also really likes to play with remote controls. He knows that if he points the remote at the tv long enough and keeps trying different buttons something will happen. Usually, that something is Telemundo.

Maybe later I'll figure out how to explain what I meant about his playing with his toys like a little kid, but there is a much more concrete milestone to announce:

Today, Joseph reached full-blown velociraptor status. While mommy tried to get a quick nap, Joseph figured out how to open the bedroom door. He then proved it wasn't an accident by repeating it 5 minutes later.

So far I've only seen him open one of our doors, but all of our door handles are the same style, so it's only a matter of hours before he realizes that the bathrooms are no longer inaccessible.

Life just became a whole lot more interesting.