Monday, April 26, 2010

Serious Ukelele Riffs

Ben's Grampy and Cousin Megan recently made (yes, made) a beautiful ukelele for him.  He needed one.  Seriously -- he was turning everything into a guitar -- hair brushes, sticks, air.  He had played with a ukelele at a friend's house, and it was a perfect fit for him.  In a related development, we got him a new pair of sunglasses, since he had outgrown his old ones.  These developments are related as follows:

Here he is, performing for his legions of stuffed animal fans, and rocking out beautifully.  He also does a good Stevie Wonder impression at his "piano" (Thomas box; he does have a real piano at his disposal as well).  And the pose vaguely reminiscent of The Bangles "Walk Like an Egyptian" is actually his version of the PBS SteveSong about rockets in which Mr. Steve periodically sets his guitar aside to "blast off".

Sunday, April 18, 2010

February and March

Here are Ben's calendars from February and March:

Toilet Training continues to be a central theme in our lives these days.  We still have to straighten out a few kinks in our system.  We've been doing "low-key" toilet training since last fall, meaning that we sit on the potty every night before bathtime, read a few books, and see what happens, but we've made no attempt yet to graduate from diapers.  And this was fine for awhile -- Ben enjoyed it, especially when he was successful and got to put a sticker on the potty, and everything was mellow and positive.  But he's starting to feel more and more performance anxiety, and Neil and I are engaged in a little research and strategizing right now, trying to come up with new tactics before anxiety turns to avoidance.  Fortunately our daycare provider is an expert at these things, and has managed to make considerable progress during daycare hours, but we're really starting to feel like we're spinning our wheels at home.  Anyway, you can see a reference on February 24th and a rather more explicit depiction on March 10th (Ben insisted that I draw him sitting on the potty, and this was honestly the best I could manage under the circumstances).

On Valentine's Day, Ben acquired a stuffed rabbit from my parents, and this is remarkable because it is the first stuffed animal or doll that he has attached a name to of his own volition.  For about 24 hours we were convinced that the rabbit's name was "Max Bund," which was delightfully creative and unexpected.  Then it became increasingly clear that the name was "Max Sponge," which is apparently short for "Max Spongebob."  This pleased us considerably less, but we're still amused that he chose the name for himself.  On February 27th, we got the cat's claws clipped at the groomer's, and yes we take her to a professional groomer because no sane person would attempt this potentially fatal act without due compensation.  Ben was quite impressed by the whole spectacle.  On the 28th, we forgot to get bananas when we were in the produce section, and Ben noticed this and brought it to our attention before we left the store.  He was very pleased with himself for having remembered the bananas.

Saturday, March 6, was a day that I will long cherish.  Students and faculty from our college's music program put on a series of children's concerts at the two local libraries.  They are fantastic, and Ben loves them.  The musicians talk about their instruments and the music, and it's all very hands-on and interactive.  At the March concert, a group of students were playing percussion instruments from Ghana, including a marimba-like instrument that had gourds hanging below the keys for additional resonance.  Afterward, Ben got to play this, and he was hammering out a fairly impressive little melody.  So the music student commented, "Hey, that kid's got a great ear!"  Not having noticed all the equipment, you see.  Delicious irony.  And I agreed, "Yeah, he's got a great ear, especially considering it's bionic," and I proceeded to explain that he's deaf and that he has access to sound through technology.  The guy's jaw dropped, and he was absolutely amazed.  I really felt like Ben had totally transformed this person's conception of what it means to be deaf.

For Spring Break (starting March 14) we visited Neil's parents in the Catskills and got a couple of days of skiing in.  Ben's favorite experience from this was getting to eat an orange every day in the lodge.  The one time we tried to put him on his skis, he protested loudly and vehemently.

On March 29th, Ben had an audiology appointment in Buffalo, and during one of the "listening games" he got to put a piece of cardboard "food" into the mouth of an animal every time he heard a sound.  Obviously one of the animals must have been an elephant.  At some point we told him a "Fiona and Emily" story in which their mother takes them to Buffalo to see Michelle Dube and play listening games, and this has now become his Most Favorite Story of All Time; he requests that we tell it several times a day.

The 30th was our fateful Seder at which Ben fell sick, and you can see that he visited the pediatrician the next day.  Here is our only good picture from the Seder, plus some from an Easter egg hunt at his friend Jackson's house a few days later.