A language guide for translating Madeline

I loved the introduction to the development of language in my college cognitive science class, and I love that each child builds his or her own vocabulary of gibberish that makes no sense to anyone else except perhaps family and friends. If you ever babysit M, here’s a leg up on trying to understand what the heck she’s saying. I’ve collected these words over the past few months; a lot of her language is fairly intelligible with context.

  • Taintu: Thank you
  • Malcom: Welcome
  • Bassoo: Bless you
  • Babybug: Ladybug
  • Pickabook: Pick a book, read a book
  • Henny: Henry
  • Nahnice: Not nice
  • Meow: Cat
  • Rawr: Lion, bear
  • Mohs, Mimi Mohs, Mimi Moush: Minnie Mouse
  • Schwann: Shoe on
  • Muk: Milk
  • Shawbee: Sorry
  • Shtawbee: Strawberry
  • Shuggoe: Snuggle
  • Simmee: Excuse me
  • Padzu: Pretzel
  • Kooky: Cookie
  • Kinko Shar: Twinkle Star
  • See-yoh: Cereal
  • Ahmo: Elmo
  • Sheesche: Quiche
  • Wound and wound: I want you to sing The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round
  • Uppeedown: I want you to sing The People on the Bus go Up and Down
  • Weh ee go: Let It Go
  • Ewer: Ever (For the First Time in Forever)
  • Shummer: Summer (In Summer)
  • Up high, dow-woe: High five, down low
  • Baddee: Belly
  • Burr: Bear
  • Budday cake, Ahmo cake: birthday cake, Elmo cake
  • Chiddee: Chilly
  • Dah-wee: Dolly
  • Ditz: Dance
  • Dump: Jump
  • Pouts: Pouch (fruit pouch, yogurt pouch)
  • No-wah: Laura
  • Gama: Grandma
  • Gampapa: Grandpa
  • Eeemee: Amy
  • Miam: Liam
  • Eee ah you: Where are you
  • Mon: Come on

Madeline’s alphabet

Since the holidays, we have become very acquainted with Madeline’s repertoire. Here is her version of the alphabet:

A B C D E esshee (at 20 months, up to here was all we had — she would repeat this loudly with gusto and with emphasis on “ESS” if you attempted to sing any other song, as if you didn’t know what you were doing)
Ay-shy gay K ehhhhmm mo P
Syoo aww S, See-ooo B
Dubboooo X, Y n Z
Now I know mah A B C
Ness tahm bon’t oo sing WHIM-MEEE!

Teaching manners


“Say, ‘Cookie please?'”


“No, say, ‘Cookie please?'”


<shakes head> “‘Cookie please?'”


“‘Cookie please?'”


<sighs> “Okay, here.”


“You’re welcome, baby girl.”

^^^^Improvement over the past week, where repeated attempts of “Madeline, say, ‘Thank you’?” were met with “Macom” (her word for “welcome”).

How med students handle uncertainty could predict career future

Thanks, Madeline. You, along with four years of musical theater, have most definitely taught me to roll with uncertainty. Although I always liked unplanned organic adventures and surprises before, that kind of variability in a medical setting made me hyper-anxious. Not so much anymore. So thanks, baby girl.

The survey found that high tolerance for ambiguity was associated with students’ intention to work in underserved areas and with lower levels of perceived stress.

Tolerance for ambiguity—or the tendency to perceive uncertain situations as more desirable than threatening—is an important competency for physicians. For instance, the AAMC includes tolerance of and adaptation to stressful or changing environments as part of its core competencies for entering medical students.

via AMA Wire®: How med students handle uncertainty could predict career future.

“I’ll never miss another bedtime.”

Madeline has been going through a developmental growth spurt this past month or two. We have observed that she

  • very clearly loves to dance (as in the video here) and also loves to watch dance (she was suddenly mesmerized by a dance video I came across while web surfing),
  • claps to music with a strong bass beat (today, she clapped regularly for a few seconds when Flip Fantasia came on in the car, and just to test her, I played it again a while later, and she did the same),
  • figured out old-school 1970s toys (a pull train with a whistle) almost immediately when we went to visit the grandparents,
  • matches her socks when we fold laundry,
  • matches shapes on her sorting toys and claps for herself when she succeeds (and when she doesn’t, too),
  • recognizes objects she’s seen once (a Trader Joe’s bag of freeze-dried strawberries, which she snatched unbeknownst to me during our next trip to the store; a display of fruit pouches after her first one at Karla’s wedding, for which she lunged frantically to grab),
  • recalls activities she’s done once (a week ago, we read Eric Carle’s book of food and made a silly game where I ask a question and we shake our heads no; today, she brought me the same book while vigorously shaking her head no with a big grin),
  • recognizes hats, sunglasses and shoes as such even if she’s never seen them before (which she demonstrates by trying to put them on),
  • points to the “puppy” in various picture books, even if they don’t look like Henry,
  • perks up and says, “Daddy!” while looking expectantly when she hears someone at the door.

Not long ago I was somewhat concerned that Madeline was developmentally slow, even with accounting for her late premie status. Although she has far greater receptive language, she still has relatively few intelligible words besides “mama,” “daddy,” “bye,” “shoes” (“shuce!”), and “socks (“shocks!”). Alas, I should not have doubted her, for she soon demonstrated the extent of her comprehension.

Since my schedule can be irregular, Chris has been putting Madeline to bed the majority of the time. They have their own little routine, and she generally goes to bed quietly without a fuss. Last night, Chris had to do some work outside, so it was my job to put Madeline to bed. All was going fine; we played with toys, read a story, settled down, and I lifted her in her crib. She’d had a big day of playing at the sprayground and she was clearly tired. As she stood holding the side rail, I said, “Bed time, baby girl. Good night, Madeline.”

A question on her face. “Daddy?” she asked.

“No Daddy. Daddy’s not here.”

At that, she began to wail. Long story short, she was very upset, refused to sleep, and shrieked at the top of her lungs in that special way that she reserves for only Mommy. At one point she was even leaning against the side rail half asleep, with chin resting on her arms, eyes closed, and continuing to voice her feelings. She never sleeps well when she goes to bed upset, and she had multiple awakenings throughout the night.

When Chris came home, I told him about how she asked for Daddy and was very agreeable until she was told Daddy’s not here. Chris thought quietly for a minute, then said simply, “Well. I’ll never miss another bedtime.” Asked why, he explained that he never thought Madeline expected their bedtime routine, that she looked forward to it. Sometimes when she’s very tired she reaches for the crib as he’s putting her down. Chris had assumed that she went to bed more willingly if he put her down because she didn’t care much about staying with Daddy, in contrast to her separation anxiety with Mommy. But now that it’s clear that little Madeline wants her special bedtime routine with Daddy, that she asked for him and cried horribly for him to come put her to bed —

Now, he’ll never miss another bedtime.

(Point, Mommy!)

Why I married my husband

Well, one of the reasons:

If you are female, a degree from one of these schools complicates dating. It takes a self-assured guy to absorb that information and not say something insecure and cutting when he learns of it, and to look at you for who you really are as a person and a woman.

via “What do you do?” | adventureswiththepooh.

Props to Wendy for articulating the awkwardness of explaining yourself to people who think you’re an “overqualified” mom who could be putting her education to “better” use. (This reaction is pretty obvious when it happens — I swear I’m not having a hangry moment.) I’ve been called a hippie more than once; we cloth diaper, baby-wear, and are still nursing (though not pumping — I cut that business ASAP), and I was fortunate to finagle an extended maternity leave. So yes, I have an incredible bond with my child, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But none of that could have happened if I hadn’t set limits on my work, which is an incredibly difficult thing to do for a (former?) workaholic. So yes, I am not making full use of my schooling. I am content to look at my experiences as a pursuit of pleasure that I earned, or as a windfall by chance — either way, they have intrinsic value to me even if they are not all formally applied. We as a family are still learning to balance. I could not do any of this without Chris. It takes a special guy to put up with my quirks while keeping a smile on his face.

Happy Holidays 2013


We did mail these on time; I just haven’t had time to blog. Or facebook. Or read the news. Or sleep. Thanks, school! Glad you are finished for the semester. And so happy to spend a cozy winter break with my baby girl. Once again, she is reminding me to appreciate simplicity. That is, I don’t have to be crazy busy to be happy, because she’ll give me plenty to do. Don’t go looking for trouble, Mommy.

Photos courtesy of the lovely Ericha Farrington.


Remember the reset

Note to self: Sometimes, baby just needs a reset. It could be a stroll outside, a paci, a song. Daddy’s favorite method has always been changing the diaper. Even if it’s perfectly clean.

I type this on the phone as M is sound asleep, after having woken at 12:45am and desperately clawing at my chest, trying to nurse back to sleep. Not so, said I, and a battle ensued. Paci was refused — who are we trying to fool here, Ma? Lullaby mitigated the fury somewhat but its soothing magic eventually expired. Finally, groggily, Daddy suggested: “Diaper?” She seemed dry, but might as well check. In the dim nursery lamplight I found she was indeed dry, but then It hit me. Quiet, no more crying. And a coo. I looked at her. Innocent wondering eyes. As if she had completely forgotten the preceding twenty minutes of turmoil. And then, so did I.

How to Talk to Little Girls

Things to remember as Madeline grows:

…[F]ifteen to eighteen percent of girls under twelve now wear mascara, eyeliner and lipstick regularly; eating disorders are up and self-esteem is down; and twenty-five percent of young American women would rather win America’s next top model than the Nobel Peace Prize. Even bright, successful college women say they’d rather be hot than smart. A Miami mom just died from cosmetic surgery, leaving behind two teenagers. This keeps happening, and it breaks my heart.

Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. It sets them up for dieting at age 5 and foundation at age 11 and boob jobs at 17 and Botox at 23. As our cultural imperative for girls to be hot 24/7 has become the new normal, American women have become increasingly unhappy. What’s missing? A life of meaning, a life of ideas and reading books and being valued for our thoughts and accomplishments.

via How to Talk to Little Girls.

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis


AKA mother’s wrist syndrome per Wikipedia.

From MayoClinic.com:

If you have de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, it will probably hurt every time you turn your wrist, grasp anything or make a fist…any activity that relies on repetitive hand or wrist movement — such as working in the garden, playing golf or racket sports or lifting your baby — can make it worse.

Note the tendons of the extensor pollicis brevis and abductor pollicis longus muscles, mnemonically known in anatomy class as the snuffbox.

Note the tendons of the extensor pollicis brevis and abductor pollicis longus muscles, mnemonically known in anatomy class as the snuffbox.

So THIS is my problem!