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Thanks to their nearly successful Stanley Cup run this past spring, the National Hockey League‘s Edmonton Oilers are again this town’s most difficult ticket, but we were able to attend the second home game of the 2006 preseason tonight versus the Phoenix Coyotes.

On the LRT, Dorami-chan was amazed at the range of hockey fans wearing their team colours – kids, mothers and even grandmothers were all decked out in Oilers jerseys. Rexall Place was less than full and quieter than my last time there — Game Three of the first round playoff series against Detroit this past spring. The crowd perked up during the pregame scoreboard montage of playoff highlights, only to be put to sleep by the national anthem singer’s stultifyingly plodding renditions.

This was the Oil’s third game in as many nights, and they iced a team that was only half NHL regulars. Still, that was better than the Desert Dogs, who rested notables like Cujo, Doan, Jovanovski, Nolan, Roenick, Comrie and Laraque in favour of a bunch of unknowns. So, I don’t think it means anything, but the half-Oilers looked very strong, at even strength and on the power play. The training camp rave reviews about the seemingly telepathic combination of emerging star Ales Hemsky and newly acquired Petr Sykora were absolutely accurate. They will be fun to watch this year.

Tonji-kun lasted until the halfway mark of the Second Period, then became unmanagebly restless, forcing us to bail at le deuxieme entracte. By that time the Oil were leading comfortably 3-1, the eventual final score. I guess we didn’t miss much, other than the post-game rush home!

Game Report: Oilers vs. Coyotes – 19 September 2006


Over the last couple of weeks, Tonji-kun has become more directive in his play. He puts toys of his choice in the bath while the tub is filling, and now, instead of using the shower curtain for “inai-inai-baa (peek a boo)” (thank goodness – that moldy thing needs a wash or replacement), he asks me to sit forward so he can stand behind my back and tap my shoulder when he wants to be “found”.

During the summer, towelling off and dressing for bed would occur during Edmonton’s long northern twilight, but now with the evening darkness that signals approaching winter, I need to turn on the bedside light to see, which casts shadows on the wall. The other night I did a bit of puppetry for Tonji-kun with hand shadows. He seemed to enjoy the show, and to my surprise he has remembered and requested it every night since, asking for “Wan wan” (his word for “dog” is a dog’s bark in Japanese) – a dog is the only hand shadow I know (and Dorami-chan says the Japanese would call my pointy-eared dog a fox) . If this goes on, I will need to expand my repertoire!

I saw evidence at supper today of a new development Dorami-chan noticed yesterday in the car: Tonji-kun can do a second sign, “Motto (more)”, or at least his version of it (it should be: fingertips of both hands brought together; he does: fingertips of one hand into palm of other). Whatever, it was deliberate, consistent and used in the appropriate context (an empty milk cup). Even in spoken language children don’t say words perfectly at first (or ever – see Dubya and “nuclear”). Tonji-kun was very pleased that he got the result he wanted (a refill). We are amazed and have pulled out of storage our notes from our sign language class a few months ago. This stuff actually works!

Japanese Sign Language WWW Guide

Wikipedia > Japanese Sign Language Syllabary

Japanese Sign Language opennew world of communication, friendship

I thought this might be a good way of periodically summarizing new developments in Tonji-kun‘s ever-changing repertoire and physical state.

  • Teeth – 7 out, and 8th (a lower incisor) just showing. Beautifully white and straight. He looks after them with his little toothbrush. He can do a fair bit of damage to a whole apple (skin on), but becomes full or bored before it is finished.
  • Handedness – showing some preference for his left hand.
  • Mobility – YES, and then some. His walking is steady, fast … and determined if he sees something of interest. He has learned to get down stairs on his bum. His reach has increased, such that last week I had to install the doorknob protectors we bought some time ago.
  • Speech – none, but some consistent sounds:
    • “Ma-ma” – any food item (specified by pointing)
    • “Wan-wan” – dog (“Wan-wan” is how a dog barks in Japanese)
    • “Ba-ba” – bus (in Japanese, “basu“)
    • “To-to” – bird (in Japanese, “tori“)
    • “Bu-bu” – pig (in Japanese, “buta“)
    • “Ahhh-ah” – after dropping or breaking something
    • Shrieking for no apparent reason – this we’d like him to stop, please
  • Signs – yesterday he just started doing the sign for “bath” (scrubbing chest with both hands)
  • Diet – Eats everything we give him (he loves rice and tofu!). Can drink from a sippy cup, and from a regular cup with a straw. Eats lemons without wincing. Still breastfeeds at bedtime and when tired during the day.
  • Social – recognizes faces, claps when pleased (or when others clapping), laughs when amused (or when others laughing).
  • Understanding – he follows (some) commands, e.g. Ask “Buta-san wa doko desu ka (Where is Mr. Pig)?” and he searches for and brings a pair of my boxer shorts with a motif of dancing pigs (BTW something I would never buy myself, but thanks again, Sybil and Dave).
  • Play
    • Constructive (Starting to be): about two weeks ago, began putting Duplo together instead of tearing it apart, stacking rings instead of (or after) taking them off the stand, putting toys back in their place.
    • Soccer? Keeps the ball with him like a natural.
    • Music? Often humming to himself.
    • Brave – enjoys going down the slide solo (but supervised, of course).
    • Helpful – wants to participate in things others are doing shovelling, sweeping, lawn mowing. Dorami-chan got him a toy mower so he can feel involved from a safe distance without endangering his digits and limbs.
  • Memory – gets very quiet when we tell him “Goron-goron ga kuru (Thunder is coming).” He was frightened by his first prairie thunderstorm earlier this summer.
  • Sleep – wakes up crying at least once in the middle of the night.