Sick Boy

Sick Boy

Thomas has been feeling a little bit poorly recently.  We don’t know exactly what the problem was, whether it is the change in weather, something he has picked up from school, a new tooth or something totally different.  He was running a fever, wasn’t sleeping properly and was off his food.  When we had his fever under control he was his normal self,
running around and generally being a handful (in a good way).  When his temperature was high he was easily irritable and cantankerous.*

One of the upshots of this is that we have been letting him eat whatever he wants and watch more TV than normal.  I
think that whenever you say are letting a kid eat whatever they want most people would assume that this means

Brocolli, Unknown Cultivar

Photo credit: Wikipedia

chocolate, crisps and other unhealthy stuff.  Not so with Thomas.  Instead at lunch today about the only thing he would eat was broccoli.  I have a very strange child.

In terms of TV, he has been watching a lot of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  He has always liked to dance along to the Hot Dog Song by swinging his arms from to side like Mickey, but he has never managed to kick his legs as well.  Normally when he watches the rest of the programme he is very passive. not even blinking his eye lids.


Credit: Wikipedia

Recently, though, I have seen a few changes.  Before he got sick he had started to laugh at some of the scenes when, for instance, Goofy fell over or something.  In the last couple of days he has been interacting a lot more.  One of the aspects f the programme is that Mickey and the other characters are always asking the viewers for their point of view or ideas.  Thomas has now started to point at the screen when he is asked which item he thinks would be useful.  I am not sure he knows exactly which item he is pointing at, but it at least shows he knows something is expected of him.

I am not too bothered about him watching the odd episode of Mickey every now and again.  When I watch it with him I make sure it is in English to try to increase his exposure to the language.  The programme itself is all about team work and completing tasks together.  The language is more about showing empathy for each other rather than being competitive and there isn’t any hint at all of and aggression.

The good news is, though, that in the afternoon and the evening Thomas has looked to be back to his old self and so
hopefully we can all stop feeling sorry for him and indulge him in slightly less TV, although he can keep eating the broccoli for as long as he likes.

*Cantankerous is my new favourite word.  I like the sound of it and it seems to suggest the actual meaning of the word.


My Mate

Marmite and Vegemite have a distinctive dark c...

Marmite has a distinctive dark colour (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There seems to have been a bit of a lull in Thomas’ language acquisition.  I am not worried about this as it is something that I have noticed in my own progress in learning Portuguese.  I can go ages without seeming to improve, and then all of a sudden there is a lap in my language skills.  I think what is happening is that the brain is busy assimilating language and coming up with theories as to ow it works, and then, when it feels it is ready to put the theories into practice, there is a sudden rush of activity.  With adult language students this can be a problem as they want to feel they are progressing all the time.  They have to be reassured that çanguage learning is not linear, it is full of ups and downs and almost as many backward steps as there are forward ones.

A gross over-simplification, I am sure, but one that works for me.

We have, however, been learning and experiencing new stuff. Some of these include;


'Our Mate' - Jar of UK Made Marmite Spread bra...

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Marmite is a yeast extract spread that is black and one of my favourite things to eat in the world, especially on toast for breakfast. They have something similar in Australia and New Zealand called Vegemite.  Most people who don’t learn to like it as kids end up hating it.  I have yet to find a Brazilian who likes it at all*.  As the advert says, you either love it or you hate it.

Unless youare a 20 month old toddler, when you can both love it and hate it.  I had some for breakfast this morning and Thomas was intrigued so I gave him a small bit of my toast.  He was suspisous of the look of it and the smell, but he eventually put it inhis mouth anyway.  He ate it as if it was a normal piece of toast, and then all of a sudden scrunched up his face and shook it violently.  I reckoned he was a Marmite hater, until 5 seconds later he came back for more.  The result was the same and he declined another offering.  I think, though, that it is an acquired taste and we have starte dout on the right road to getting aother Marmite lover in the world.


Obviously Thomas has sneezed before.  The weather has changed recently so he has started to sneeze more often now than he has in the last few months.  Today we learned of the dangers of sneezing when you have a mouth full of food.  I had just put a spoonfull of banana and milk in his mouth when he sneezed it all over the table.  I haven’t seen such wonder and astonishment as was on his face since he first tried to eat a lime.  Within seconds he was trying to eat it all up once again.


English: Whistle icon Català: Icona representa...

It was one of Thomas’ friend’s birthday over the weekend.  Fortunately I missed it as it was at the same time as the rugby match betwen Wales and England (which I won’t talk about).  All of the kids get a goody bag when they are leaving and in Thomas’, among many other things, was a whistle.  It took a bit of time to figure it out because he had to get his lip position right and regulate his breathing.  To start off with he was holding it in his lips and imitating a whistle with a sort of quiet scream (see below).  But he is now at the point where he can make it whictle more ofthen than not.  He is very chugffed with himself when he manages it.


A couple of weeks ago we got a Mickey Mouse magazine that had stickers in it og the main carachters.  He loved the stickers but got quite frustrated with them when he couldn’t get them off the paper he had stuck them to.  As part of the same goody bag that he got the whistle from, he also got a small notebook with stickers from the film Cars 2.  These stickers have been very successful.  He likes the tactile feeling of the stickiness and spends a minute or two experiementing with that, before carefully putting them on the paper.  This time there have been no disappointhments with the fact that once they are stuck they are stuck.

Colouring in

We have always had crayons and pencils around the flat for Thomas to use.  For Christmas he got a small table and 4 chairs which he loves to use and demand that somebody sits next to him.  Until recently his colouring in was faint and sometimes diffcult to see.  In the last week he has developed very strong, bold strokes so that whatever he is ‘colouring in’ is pretty much obliterated.




We were having breakfast the other day and Thomas was starting to get bored waiting for his freshly-squeezed orange juice.  He started messing around calling my name and then various other people.  After a while these calls developed into screams, but good natured screams as he did them with a smile on his face.  He was obviously delighted with what he had found out that he could do.

Up to now, these screams have continued to be for the fun of it.  We went swimming today and another little kid started screaming for real.  Thomas thought it was great fun and joined in with his play-scream.  What could have descended into parent hell ended up with a happy ending as the first child stared at Thomas and then just started giggling.

I know that the day he uses his screams for real in a shop or a restaurant is just around the corner and I am not looking for ward to it.

EDIT:  Since publishing this post I have been reminded that I do know a Brazilian who loves Marmite.  I apologise wgoleheartedly to Luc  and Kelly and I promise never to forget either of you again.

Free the Feet

Baby Feet

Photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik

As I mentioned in a post at the beginning of the week, the weather has changed recently to get much cooler and wetter.  One of the results of this is that Thomas has had to start wearing socks again.

When he was a proper baby he didn’t particularly like wearing socks and he would rip them off at the first opportunity.  Sometimes it would take him ages to figure out how to get them off, but perseverance eventually paid off.  It lead us to developing a game when I was changing his nappy in which he would start to try to get one of his socks off and I would say things like ‘Don’t take your sock off!’  or ‘Don’t you dare take your sock off!’  or ‘If you take your sock off I’ll have to eat your foot.’  Whenever I said one of these phrases in a mock serious voice he would burst out into laughter.

Eventually, and sometimes with a little bit of help from me, he would succeed in getting his sock off and I would imitate complete anger and look at him and say something along the lines of ‘I told you not to take your sock off.’  I warned you that if you did I would have to eat your foot, so now I am going to eat it all up.  And I am really hungry so I am going to eat it now!’  Whereupon I would bite the toes and the sole of one of his feet.  The fit of giggles that it sent him into must be one of the sweetest sounds known to man.

As soon as he had calmed down he would start work on the other foot and the whole process would be repeated.  As you can probably guess, nappy-changing often took a long time but, so long as it wasn’t a smelly one, it was also very enjoyable.

So over the last four or five of warm months we haven’t had the chance to play this game, and to be honest I had almost forgotten about it.  Until yesterday that is, when I was changing his nappy again and he looked at me, looked at his socked foot and looked back at me again.  I swear there was a twinkle in his eye and I knew exactly what he was thinking. I said ‘Don’t you dare take that sock off’ and we were back in the game.  The laughs are a bit louder now, and the socks come off a bit quicker, but it is still immense fun.

So there is at least one upside to winter being around the corner.

The Weather in Curitiba

parque Barigui, curitiba

Parque Barigui with a touch of early morning frost. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wednesday 13th March was just as hot and sunny as practically every day since November.  A long summer made even better by the news of the wet and cold winter back home in the UK.  There is a certain amount of vicious glee to be had in watching family and friends struggle through the snow and rain in the dark of a never-ending January, February, March…

Thursday 14th March and the fun is over.  Cloud cover all day, strong and sharp showers.  Slipping and sliding all along the dodgy pavements of Curitiba.  The forecast the same for the next week at least.  Summer has abruptly gone.  Winter is coming.

One word to sum up the weather here in Curitiba is changeable.  The locals like to say that you can have all four seasons in one day and, while the last time it snowed was in 1975, they are not far wrong.  When people think of Brazil they often think of sunshine and heat.  In the summer this is possible, but there is usually a proper old-fashioned thunderstorm at about 5pm to break it all up.  This doesn’t stop the locals complaining about the heat though and hoping that winter is just around the corner.

The winter can be pretty cold with temperatures getting down to freezing, but this is usually compensated for by beautiful blue skies.  The problem is the infrastructure in houses and apartments is woefully inadequate.  Double glazing is either non-existent or so expensive as to be practically so.  Windows rattle when the wind blows because they aren’t fitted properly.  Gaps of 3 cm at the bottom and top of the doors are not unusual.  When the winter is bad it can be warmer out on the street than it is in your flat.  Watching TV means wearing all of your clothes, getting 2 or 3 blankets and turning on the expensive and inefficient heaters.  The locals complain about the cold and pine for the summer to return.

I can handle all of this.  I try not to complain about the weather because it doesn’t really do a fat lot of good.  If I am cold I’ll put on another jumper.  If I am hot, I’ll drink a cold beer.

The problem is with my son.

When the weather changes, as it has just done here, you can guarantee that half of his class will get a cold or a cough.  The other half will catch a cold or a cough from the first half.

As well as all the usual parent paraphernalia I also have to go out with three or four changes of clothes just in case the weather is different in a couple of hours compared to now.

These are probably not unique problems, nor I daresay even unusual ones.  The thing that gets me though is the state of the houses and the flats.  Having a heater on during the night is just asking for your little one to want to play with it.  Force 9 gales coming under the bedroom door because of the gap are just a bad idea.  When you just get a room warmed up, somebody will walk out and not close the door.  In the summer, when I put him to bed at 8pm, it is hot, but by 4am it is pretty chilly.  How do I clothe him for both?  Especially when he refuses to let a blanket stay on him for  more than 2 minutes.

I know that this isn’t the worst problem ever, and the situation is the same for lots of people in many different parts of the world.  I just wish that somebody would close the bloody door after them!

A Word Of His Own

Words have a power all their own

Words have a power all their own (Photo credit: Lynne Hand)

I recently blogged about some of the words that Thomas uses that we don’t understand.  There are also a number of other words that he uses, among his babbling, that only his mamãe and  I understand and when he says them to other people we have to translate for them as if he was speaking another language, which he is in a way, called Thomasese.

Some examples: mnah mnah means ‘I want another one’ or ‘Do it again’.  I think this one comes from the time he was eating tomatoes (he adores tomatoes) and we were trying to get him to say the word.  His approximation was mnah and we all congratulated ourselves and him on his new word, but it turns out he didn’t realise we were teaching him the word for the food, but instead the a way to get another one.  It is also a strange one because he can say mais and ‘one more’ which mean basically the same thing.

bise is his approximation of the word bike.  Until a few weeks ago he was using mo but he has started to use a different word now.  He uses it for both motorbikes and bicycles.

au au is not a problem for any speakers of Portuguese, but it is for English speakers.  It means ‘dog’ and, in Portuguese, is the sound that a dog makes.  All English speakers know that a dog actually says ‘woof’ and not au.

Amee is both Mickey and Minnie Mouse.  If he wants to play with the clubhouse, watch the TV programme or wear the T-shirt, this is what he says.

me is a new one, and he has only been using it for a couple of days so I still haven’t quite nailed down what I think he means by it yet.  I think it means ‘my’ or ‘mine’, in Portuguese meu or minha.  I think he learned it when I was playing with a cricket ball with him and I kept saying ‘give it to me’.  It now seems that he says me whenever he has something that he doesn’t want to share with anybody else.

There are probably some other ones, but they escape me at the moment.

It is interesting how these have developed to be full-blown words, at least for Thomas.  Outside the family these words don’t mean anything, but inside it he can use them to communicate with us.  I dare say that soon enough they will go the way of other words, but for now it is cool to have our own secret code.

Dear Zoo


Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell was a book that Thomas absolutely adored from about the age of 4 months until he about 14 months.  It is a simple story of a kid who wants a pet and so he writes to the local zoo and they send him an elephant.  But the elephant is too big so he sends it back and then send him a lion.  But a lion os too fierce so he sends it back.  This keeps going through various animals such as a frog, a snake a camel and a monkey.  Eventually he gets the perfect pet and keeps it.

The thing that Thomas loved was that each gift that the zoo sent was behind a flap of cardboard that he had to open.  They opened in different ways; he had to pull one down, another up, and yet another had two flaps split in the middle.  He knew what was behind each one because he made the noise of the animal, but he was still chuffed to bits when he managed top open it.  So not only did he have a positive experience with a book, he also got to practise his motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

If you have to buy a present for a child you can do a lot worse than this one.  Be careful, though, as I have seen other editions that don’t have the same idea of opening the box to find the animals.

I Don’t Understand

Bowling coaching at 6:30.  You need to get that arm straighter, son.

Bowling coaching at 6:30. You need to get that arm straighter, son.

Thomas is now fast approaching 20 months and I have already reached the stage when I don’t understand him.  Thankfully, this isn’t because of some weird musical tastes or some new attitude to life (these are pleasure I am still looking forward to). At the moment the problem is that I literally do not understand a lot of the words he says.

One favourite word at the moment is be be.  He will just sit in the middle of his bedroom floor and point at one of the shelves and say be be.  I get up and point to stuffed animal of some sort and he smiles.  I pick it up and give it to him and for 3 seconds he looks at it quite content, then shakes his head drops it on the floor and points back at the shelf and again says be be.  So I get a different stuffed toy, or a book, or some random object that is somewhere in the vicinity of where he is pointing.  And always the same response; smile and three seconds later start all over again.

Perhaps be be means get all of the stuff off the shelf and put it on the floor daddy!

At least with be be he doesn’t get too upset if I don’t deliver the right thing on demand.  He has another phrase, which is something like po po that he only ever seems to use with me at 6:30 in the morning when he has decided that it is time to get up.  He’ll use this one in the living room and I usually start by assuming he is talking about a chicken because this is the sound a chicken makes in Portuguese.  It isn’t what he mans, though.  It could be the door because he says por for door (a sort of mix of the Portuguese word porta and the English word ‘door’, I think).  But again, this isn’t what he wants.  But after two attempts he is getting quite frustrated and looking around frantically for whatever it is he wants.

I offer him Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, a succession of cars, a soft ball, a cricket ball, but all to no avail.  As the tears get closer I have to try to buy him off with a drink, a biscuit or a game of hide and seek.  This last one has been working recently, even though he is crap at the game and hides in the middle of the room, or under a blanket and squeals with delight as I walk past him shouting out his name.

And all of this at half six in the morning!

And there are plenty of other words that he uses that neither I nor mamãe have any idea abut what they mean.

It’s quite cool though.  It is obvious, to me at least, that he is developing his vocabulary.  He seems to know what his words mean and he is trying to communicate this to the rest of the world.  The only problem being that the rest of the world doesn’t speak the same language.  Watching this process is fascinating as he struggles to communicate and learns at the same time.

He’ll soon figure out what the rest of the world does understand and then I am sure the problems will really start.