Wednesday, October 28, 2009

In addition to general communication skills, Elaine has also been making huge progress on her computer skills. Last week, I started her out on Reader Rabbit. It's fairly different from the little, black and white game I played on my mom's mac as a kid. But it's the same basic idea: educational puzzle games that reward you with music and animation when you get them right. Of course, the puzzles I remember mostly had to do with spelling rhyming words (of only three letters), and they were way too advanced for Elaine.

Now, however, there's a whole sequence of Reader Rabbit games -- starting with one aimed at babies who can't do anything other than uncoordinatedly waggle the mouse and pound on the keyboard. Elaine mastered that one in two days. (Even so, it was an excellent game, as I don't know any other way to teach a two-year-old to use a mouse.) The next level of Reader Rabbit is aimed at toddlers, and it took more like a week for Elaine to master it. Last night, she graduated to the preschool level.

At this rate, hopefully, she'll be ready to play Diablo 3 with me by the time it comes out.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

This has been a big month in Elaine's little world. She started preschool, gymnastics, and a music class like the one she used to take in Seattle. Until I signed her up for all of those, I hadn't realized that she was basically starting school. Four days a week, she has somewhere that she has to be before noon, and, apparently, four out of seven days is critical mass for utterly shifting Elaine's sleep schedule. I don't think I've seen this much of this many mornings since I was in high school.

Elaine's language development has become fairly interesting too. She no longer picks a pronunciation (such as "doot" = milk) and sticks with it, requiring us to learn her code language. Now, she'll switch her pronunciation of tricky words around, trying to get them closer to standard English. This makes her overall easier to understand -- but it was confusing when "doot," which has been constant for about a year, suddenly became "nut" (with an umlaut over the 'u'). Elaine also uses complete sentences; though, her pronouns tend to be backwards. ("She wants more," being her way of asking for more.)

With all of this progress in communication, I've noticed that Elaine now feels different in my memories of recent events. For instance, if I remember that I watched a movie last weekend, and I try to remember who all was there, I might think, "I know there were three of us -- but, I don't think Mom or Molly was visiting... So, that would be me, Daniel... and... Elaine?" See, I'm used to discounting Elaine when counting people, because, until very recently, she hasn't actually contributed to events and conversations like a full person would. Now, in her broken way, she does. It's eerie. A little like the moment in "The Cat From Outer Space," when Jake the cat first speaks to Dr. Frank Wilson.

Now if we can just teach the other Floor People to talk...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

As Daniel headed back to work after lunch today, I told him I might just let Elaine watch movies all afternoon since it's already been a long week. However, despite my worst intentions, Elaine has so far banged on pots and pans, read Green Eggs & Ham, and played with alphabet refrigerator magnets. Now she's talking about going to the park.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A bigger house requires more cats to be properly cat-saturated than a smaller house. So, since our new house is about a third larger than the house we were renting in Seattle, we needed ~30% more cat after moving here.

A few visits to the local humane society turned up a three-month-old torbie kitten who seemed appropriately intense, intelligent, and independent (for me) as well as mellow (for surviving my dogs, two-year-old, and older cats). I named her Kelly for the classic song "Don't Fence Me In." And, this time, I thought for sure that I'd picked out a kitten that would love me best.

My first kitten -- Heidi -- is too zen to have a favorite human. My second kitten -- Theresa -- is definitely the kind of cat with a favorite person. Unfortunately, Heidi turned out to be that person. For Kelly, that person is Elaine. Yes, the two-year-old. The two-year-old who drags her about by the middle, grabbing her paws and poking her ears while shouting, "Tawry! Hold Tawry!" (That's how she pronounces "Kelly.")

I tried to protect my brand-new, delicate, little kitten at first. Then it became clear that she liked it. She seeks Elaine out. In fact, Elaine and Kelly are so close that getting Kelly is now part of Elaine's bedtime routine. Because Kelly seriously lets Elaine hold her like a stuffed animal until she falls asleep.