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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Humuhumu update [20140827|19:38]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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I've been jotting down various new quirks as they happen in a paper diary, but as Humuhumu seems to have undergone a big cognitive leap recently, it seems like a good time to make a longer update on her development.


She has lots of ways of referring to things that probably aren't obvious to anyone who isn't her parents. For instance:

  • "Door", accompanied by pointing to a specific kitchen cupboard. She knows that her special treat-foods are kept inside, such as "Pouch" (for an Ella's Kitchen fruit smoothie pouch) and "Cake" (can be either a rice cake or an Ella's Kitchen Nibbly Finger - a sort of chewy grain bar thing).

  • "Bey", which refers to the nursery rhyme "Wind the Bobbin Up". Usually she says this when she sees one of us holding our smartphones, and it means she wishes us to engage its most important function: playing YouTube videos. Today, however, she used it in a particularly devious fashion. I had just made a big bowl of popcorn, which we were sharing as a snack on the sofa. The bowl was sitting between us. She took a kernel, popped it in her mouth and then turned her big brown eyes on me. "Bey," she said. "Pull, pull, clap clap," she prompted, doing the arm motions.

    I started to sing. She smiled happily. Pulling the bowl onto her lap, she turned to face the arm of the sofa, giggling and stuffing popcorn into her mouth as fast as she could.

  • "Key", aka any cotton muslin square. Means "blanket", the corners of which get clutched tightly in her fist while she sucks her thumb. Probably explains why Iggle Piggle is her favourite In the Night Garden character, since he always has his "key" with him.

  • "CUGGLE!" Almost invariably shouted at the top of her voice as she hurls herself bodily at you. OK, this one probably is obvious even if you're not her parents, but she screams it so enthusiastically it's not always comprehensible.


These began fairly recently, and have been coming on in leaps and bounds. My favourites include:

  • "Bless you Mama (or Dada)", when we sneeze. She says it so promptly and clearly. My heart melts every time.
  • "I like/don't like [insert thing here]". Said things usually fall into one of four categories: foods, apps, YouTube videos or CBeebies shows. She uses "don't like" when she has grown tired of something temporarily.
  • "Night night Mama/Dada/Nani". Yes, she says good night to herself.


She loves her alphabet-based books, particularly A is for Aloha, which was one of mine when I was a child. It has a mixture of Hawai'ian and English words along with some beautiful black-and-white photographs of Hawai'i. She requests this one by saying, "'Loha". She also loves her Brian Wildsmith-illustrated ABCs (also ancient). Her identification of letters goes like this, depending on which book she's looking at. The ones with dashes are the ones where she can't say the word yet, e.g. canoe and elephant.

  • A is for: "'loha" or "Apple"
  • B is for: "Beebee" (baby) and "Boll" (ball) or "Fly" (butterfly)
  • C is for: --- (canoe) or "Meow" (cat)
  • D is for: "Dada" or "Fff fff" (dog - I think this is her attempt at "Woof woof")
  • E is for: "Nom nom nom" (eat) or --- (elephant)
  • F is for: "Suki" (friend) or *puffs out cheeks, makes popping noise* (fish)
  • G is for: --- (gecko) or "Goat"
  • H is for: "Hair" and "Flower" (hibiscus) or "Neigh" (horse)
  • I is for: "Ipu" or --- (iguana)
  • J is for: *jump* (jump) or --- (jaguar)
  • K is for: *kisses the page* (kiss) or *attempt at whistle* (kettle)
  • L is for: --- (lei) or "RAAAARRR" (lion)
  • M is for: "Mama" and "Muumuu" or "Eee ee ee" (mouse)
  • N is for: "Net" or "Nest"
  • O is for: --- (octopus) or "Twit TWOO" (owl)
  • P is for: --- (pineapple) or "Peacock"

After this it all goes a bit hazy, apart from "Turtle", "Unicorn" (!!!) and "Yucky".

She's also attempting to "read" more independently. I'll read her a story and then she'll take the book and flip through the pages, chattering to herself as if she's reading it, although I don't think she can yet.


This last week has been an exceptional one in the amount of television we've been watching, since we've both been ill and on our own some of the time too. Hence, we've discovered that we like some new CBeebies shows. We knew we liked In the Night Garden already, as we get an episode of that on the tablet most nights before bed. But now we've added Pingu (penguin and his baby brother), some funny little animated French thing about insects with good music called Miniscule, DipDap (slapstick adventures of a line-drawn character) and Timmy Time (claymation sheep, younger sibling of Shaun, I think?).

We're lukewarm toward Chuggington (animated show about train engines) and Sarah and Duck (narrated by Roger Allam, which softens me toward it but not Humuhumu).

She also likes two I can't stand: Kate and Mim-mim, about a little girl and her purple stuffed bunny toy that comes to life, and Waybuloo, which I'm at a loss to describe. The former is too saccharine even for me (and I have a pretty high tolerance for cutesy) and the latter is strange and pointless and the animated characters are very uncanny valley.


One again, this week has included an exceptional amount of tablet usage, and Toca Boca has managed to make me part with money for apps, something I'd resisted for years. Humuhumu's learning curve on the tablet is positively terrifying. She doesn't know how to unlock it yet ("Uh oh, locked," she says, holding it out to me), but she knows how to scroll to the screen containing her apps, to pick the ones she wants and to use 70-100% of their functionality.

She also has a technique for ensuring that she remembers how to do things within her apps. For instance, in "Pet Doctor", she will select an animal, hold out the tablet for me to show her how to cure its ailment if she can't immediately figure it out, watch me do it, and then keep going back to the same animal four or five times until she has its treatment down pat. She went from being able to "treat" one animal on her own on Tuesday to being able "treat" nine of them unassisted today. I find it fascinating, watching her absorb information and improve her fine motor control in such a methodical way.

This entry was originally posted at http://nanila.dreamwidth.org/941174.html. The titration count is at comment count unavailable.0 pKa.

[User Picture]From: pax_athena
2014-08-27 21:04 (UTC)
Awww ...!

I am especially fascinated by the phone/tablet usage. We (as in: a group of astronomers in late 20ies/early 30ies) have just been sitting in that pizzeria in Chicago a few days ago, observing a group of pre-schoolers engaging in a phone-assisted version of "Who am I?"-like game and talking about how compared to them we feel antiqued and non-tech-savvy. At least not in the same way ... ;)
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2014-08-28 20:44 (UTC)
I think it all has to do with interacting through the touch screen, which is far more intuitive than the mouse/keyboard combination. She will imitate us typing and moving the mouse around, but she doesn't connect that with what's happening on the monitors in the way she connects the movement of her fingers across the screen with what's happening on the tablet.
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[User Picture]From: cosmiccircus
2014-08-28 01:52 (UTC)
I LOVE cuggle! It's like cuddling and hugging all in one word!

So what does she say that just makes you laugh? Does she have any funny sayings or anything like that?
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2014-08-28 20:45 (UTC)
And that's exactly what cuggling feels like! :D

Her command of language isn't good enough to tell exclusively verbal jokes yet, so her comedy is mostly physical.
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[User Picture]From: bryangb
2014-08-28 10:23 (UTC)
Heh Heh! We've got all this coming up again in a few months.... We don't have broadcast TV but Roric still sees new stuff at places such as his granny's house - or on YouTube. He also has a new tablet coming for his 4th birthday, but don't tell him! (-:

I thought Chuggington was pretty dreadful - but then so's a lot of newer kids animation. Have you been subjected to Tayo the Little Bus yet? Oh, and I don't think the relationship between Shaun and Timmy is ever explained, but the implication seems to be he's Shaun's son.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2014-08-28 20:56 (UTC)
Lucky Roric! Humuhumu's tablet is actually supposed to be her daddy's, but she gets far more use out of it these days.

Fortunately she doesn't seem attached at all to Chuggington. No, I haven't seen Tayo the Little Bus. I will beware...
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[User Picture]From: bryangb
2014-08-29 12:15 (UTC)
She'll probably like Tayo. Like a lot of these modern animated series it is full of useful messages (don't rush, be nice, make friends, red light means stop, etc), it's just that they are layered on with a trowel, subtle as a dropping brick and so on. That's probably OK to a toddler, but can be agony to a parent.
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[User Picture]From: mysterysquid
2014-08-30 14:33 (UTC)
Kids with tablets is an amazing thing to watch. My nephew's three and he "plays" Minecraft.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2014-08-31 18:33 (UTC)
Yes. She still needs help with more complex functions, but every day I see her do something for herself that used to require my intervention.
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