Dear Babel, happy 2nd and a half birthday our short-haired smart boy!! It feels like it was just a moment ago that you turned 2 years old. What did we do after our Japan trip? Well, speaking of the Japan trip, we booked another Japan trip in less than 2 months. Mama found a really good deal for flights over Christmas and New Year’s, and came up with the idea that we spend Oshougatsu (New Year’s Day) in Japan with your Japanese Oma, Opa and other family members. Because this holiday overlaps with Papa’s university’s winter break, we will spend 3 full weeks in Japan!
This is really exciting :). This time we have to go to Thomas Land, as you are really into Thomas & Friends. Maybe we can also go to Minion Land in Universal Studios Japan. We were supposed to go to Disneyland your first time in Japan, but we couldn’t because you were sick. It will be better to go this time as you will appreciate it more. Same goes for Minion Land. You got several Minion figures, mostly from Happy Meals at McDonald’s, and you have been singing the banana song, so you will have more fun in Minion Land.
Your love for Thomas and his friends grew day by day. Now you have a looooooooot of Thomas engines and toys. Your memory is amazing. You remember the names of a lot of different engines. That really impressed us. You even know who it is just by looking at one part of their face for 1 second. There is a series of YouTube clips that complete puzzles from separate pieces in 30 seconds. Each has a picture of Thomas or his friends on it, you can say who that is just by seeing a few pieces.
The Thomas effects are seen in our bathing time too. You started to feel scared of bathing from around February and sometimes it was hard for us to bathe you. I remember when Oma and Opa were here, we got a Thomas Mini slides course, and that attracted you to the bathtub and you bathed. I think you feeling scared was partly my fault because I rinsed your shampoo without covering your eyes, and it was very uncomfortable for you.
So Mama got easy waterproof puzzles (2 to 4 pieces) of Thomas, Percy, James, and Toby for the bathtub. I showed them to you, and started making them. You asked me to put you in the tub immediately, and we realized how powerful Thomas is! In the tub, we learn the words for colors and shapes. Now you know aka (red), ao (blue), chairo (brown), and midori (green); also maru (circle) and shikaku (square). You still love making these puzzles; the Thomas effects have been maintained. Quick, significant, and long-lasting effects with no side effects; sounds like an ideal intervention for bath anxiety :) (my colleagues are researching math anxiety, so it’s even funnier).
In May, you had another birthday party. This time we were in the UK, and you celebrated it with your friends, and Uncle Djamo and Aunt Yasmin. Uncle Gyano and Oma also joined us by surprise. We didn’t know they were coming, and of course, Mama cried to see them. Mama decorated the room, and prepared the food. You blew out the candles on a cake Mama made, having your friends next to you. You played with rice, discovered dinosaurs, danced, and opened lots of presents. It was a great party!! Also I was very impressed to see your development, comparing this with your 1 year birthday. You can run around, say several words, and have so many friends!
In June, you and Mama celebrated the Father’s Day for me! We made key chains with our hand prints. It was difficult to make nice ones, so we had to do it a couple of times. Also, after printing our hands, Mama had to warm them up to make them solid. That was also difficult. But in the end, we got nice keychains of our hand prints. I have attached your and Mama’s hand print keychains to my bag. They really stand out on my black bag.
We also started to have barbecue nights with our neighbors from this month. Everyone was impressed how smart, sociable and cute you were. Especially you had great time playing with Theo. We have to do that more often.
In July, not only this month, but you went to the pool often. I am very thankful that we have this great park and pool near us. Though you often ran in the grass next to the pool, you really love water! In the water, you splash water, and walk towards a fountain. When you play with water, you really look happy and excited. We also lie down in the grass space, and watch the sky. One time, because Mama had to clean the house, I took you to the pool by myself. It was really hard, as I needed to watch our buggy on the grass, and you in the pool. If you had run towards the other way, I would have struggled (fortunately you didn’t). Mama takes you to the pool by herself often, that is impressive.
In August, Oma and Opa came to visit us in Derby! It was just in April we met them in Japan, 3 months and a half later, we met them again. It was afternoon, you were outside with us, and a yellow taxi mini-van arrived in the court, and Oma and Opa were there. You noticed them, and said “Oma! Opa!” That was the best welcome for them, I’m sure.
We started with opening omiyages, and we did a lot of fun things together. This time, we ordered a lot of fun staff on Japanese Amazon, and Oma and Opa brought those too. You got, of course, a bunch of nice clothes, and some Thomas, Doraemon, Mario, and Anpanman goods! We went to so many places with them; Monkey Park, Nottingham, Oxford, Belper, Heights of Abraham, Tramway Museum, raspberry picking, Wildlife Park, Wedgwood, Buxton, and Cadbury. We had great fun every day.
When they were here, Oma cooked Japanese food a lot, and you loved to eat them. You ate a lot of rice. In fact, your love for rice started with Oma’s cooking. Oma was very happy to see you eat what she cooked. You learned ‘Gu Choki Pa’ song from Oma and Opa, and really enjoyed singing and making shapes by hands. We all had a great summer vacation!
In September, you went to a cinema for the first time of your life! Of course we saw a Thomas movie. We got a huge bucket of popcorn (See SweetStatistics #40) and you sat through the movie. We were so impressed! Maybe we can watch some movie in Japan. Anpanman? Doraemon? Another thing you can do!
In September, your Dutch Oma visited us, and we had fun! You played mini-golf and went to the dance class with her. 2 Dutch speakers in the house, I learn Dutch a lot when Oma is here. When you become fluent, I will learn more. Now she lives in a neighbor country, so she can visit us so easily. She will visit us again in November, exciting!
In October, you got croup, for which we ran into an A&E in the middle of a night. Fortunately, there were no major issues, so we got to go home after a few hours. While waiting to see the effects of the medicine, we played with a weak version of Duplo a lot in the waiting room. That was fun :). Every year this season, you pick up some virus, and suffer from it. It’s hard to see you in a bad condition, and we give you as much care as we can, but maybe it’s also part of your growing path. Tough to be a toddler, indeed ;).
Your growth is even faster in this month. You now can do so many things, and say so many words in your 3 languages! What I am especially enjoying is that people tell me you look like me a lot!! No significant difference is often not a good outcome in research, but I am happy to see it between you and me!
These days especially, I like to run in the park with you. We often run down a small path from the street into the middle of the park. We run together, and jump to touch leaves on trees. You are also happy because until that point, you need to be in a buggy, but after this point, you can run as much as, and to any direction, you want! You, Mama, and I walking, and running in this beautiful park, that is my golden time, I feel genuine happiness doing this. We will do more of this :).
Happy 2.5 years old, little me, but you are not me! Your cognitive, social, and physical abilities are skyrocketing! I am just so excited to see what you can do next every second :).
Big love from a research lead Papa :).