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Lindsey Kuper

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Words my eighteen-month-old has said [Jan. 17th, 2019|01:05 pm]
Lindsey Kuper
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One of the coolest things about being a parent is getting to watch my kid learn. I've been meaning for a while to make a list of words she can say, a task that gets harder the longer I put it off. Figuring it was now or never, I finally just took a stab at it with Alex's help. So, here's a list of words we've heard her produce at least once, in a very rough approximation of chronological order, as best as we can remember:

  • dada
  • mama
  • book (well, sort of; we usually read board books just before bedtime, and she'll try to say something like "book, book, book!", but she puts the ending "k" sound first: "kah-boo-kah-boo-kah-boo"</em>. We found this so charming that we started saying it that way, too.)
  • bubble ("buh-baa")
  • bird ("bihd")
  • apple ("appa")
  • door ("doh")
  • up
  • cat ("cah")
  • banana ("nana")
  • cracker ("cah-caa"; also refers to any kind of biscuit, cookie, or bread)
  • uh-oh (a frequent utterance when she or someone else drops something on the floor)
  • cheese ("chee", the food of choice)
  • baby (she loves babies; every baby must be pointed at and its presence must be announced. She also refers to my phone as "baby", because the lock screen is a picture of her.)
  • ball ("bah")
  • no
  • hi
  • bye (usually said about thirty seconds after a person leaving has left)
  • more ("mo")
  • bull ("buh") (Tash had a sculpture of a bull in her house; I think Sylvia has probably forgotten this word now, but I'm sure I've heard her say it while pointing at the sculpture)
  • moon ("moo"; on evening walks home from Tash's place, we'd often see the moon; I would point it out, she'd repeat after me, and before too long, she would be the first to point it out and say "moo")
  • key (she says this every time we get to the front door and I get my key out)
  • "ooh!" (this is what she seems to say instead of "yes"; we have a lot of conversations that go something like: "Do you want grapes?" "No." "Do you want Cheerios?" "No." "Do you want cheese?" "Ooh!")
  • Elmo ("Eh-mo"; we've been watching Sesame Street videos since she was quite young, but I don't think she could call any of the characters by name until after we got a book called "Elmo Loves You" when she was about a year old. After reading it out loud to her pretty often for a few months, she started pointing at Elmo and calling him by name. About a week ago, we watched a bunch of Sesame Street on my laptop, including no small amount of Elmo; a few hours later, she amazed me by actually pointing at my closed laptop and saying "Eh-mo!" I mean, yeah, obviously, the salient fact about my laptop is that it's where Elmo comes from. I've been needing a name for this machine, actually...)</p>
  • zip/zipper ("zippah")
  • bus ("buh")
  • airplane ("ay-pain"; she loves pointing them out in the sky, and will announce one's presence even if she can only hear it and not see it)
  • owl ("ow-ah"; she may have seen one in person once at a zoo, but they seem to come up a lot in kids' books; also, she has pajamas with owls on them)
  • light ("lie")
  • on (usually used when pointing at a light switch that she wants to be flipped on)
  • dog (Alex says she used to say "gog", but I don't think I've heard that)
  • nose ("noh")
  • eye
  • "wow!" (I'm not sure if she knows what this means; I think she's just repeated us saying it while looking at something interesting)
  • clock ("caa-cuh", while pointing at a picture of an analog clock in a book)
  • bath ("baah")
  • "rawr!" (the sound that tigers make, of course; she says this every time I point out a picture of a tiger in one of her books and say "tiger". Our theory is that she picked this up from a particular YouTube video of animal sounds that Tash used to show the kids)
  • moo (the sound that cows make, of course)
  • neigh (the sound that horses make, and also the word for horse)
  • diaper ("die-pah")
  • go (in the sense of "let's go!")
  • bike ("bie")
  • head
  • hat (somewhat interchangeable with "head")
  • coat
  • shoe/shoes
  • sock/socks
  • "shh!" (this melted my heart the first time it happened: Alex was trying to sleep, so I said to Sylvia "Let's let Dada sleep", and she put her finger to her lips and said "shh!". She usually says "ssh!" now anytime sleeping is mentioned.)
  • frog ("fog", one of her bath toys)
  • duck (another bath toy)
  • lotion ("lo"; she is very excited about lotions and creams, but she doesn't actually want them on her; she just enjoys squeezing them out of the bottle, or trying to wrest the bottle away from a hapless parent while chanting "lo, lo, lo")
  • blimp ("bimp"; there was a Goodyear blimp in the sky over the stadium not far from our house recently, and she was very, very excited about it and wouldn't stop saying "bimp")
  • please ("pease"; she also uses (her own very liberal interpretation of) the ASL sign for "please", which I think Tash taught her; sometimes she'll use it and the word at the same time)
  • bib
  • "knock-knock" (said in situations involving doors)
  • sun ("suh")
  • lamp
  • bee (another animal that I don't think she's seen in person, but that seems to come up a lot in kids' books)
  • boat (also only in books)
  • poop (I'm not sure she truly knows what it means yet, but I've started telling her when I notice she's got a poopy diaper (in the hopes that soon she will be able to tell me), and she repeats the word back to me when I say it, so that's something)
  • sit (meaning either "I want to sit here" or "I want you to sit here" or both)
  • shower ("showw"; she's gotten really excited about the shower lately)

She's learned most of these in the last six months. Tash (the lovely person who ran the home-based daycare that Sylvia went to for over a year1) thought she was saying "mama" in a meaningful way as early as six or seven months old, but I'm not convinced. She could definitely make a "ma" sound then, though, and she would tend to repeat it an odd number of times: "ma-ma-ma" or "ma-ma-ma-ma-ma". I think she figured out pretty quickly that making that sound would cause me to pick her up and nurse her, and so she kept on doing it, but I think that to her, it just meant "I'm hungry! Feed me!" Meanwhile, she was saying "dada" as early as February, and I think that she was faster to associate "dada" with Alex than she was to associate "mama" with me (as opposed to just being a sound one makes when one wants to nurse). To this day, she's much more likely to point at Alex and say "dada!" than she is to point at me and say "mama!"

Her language learning really took off when she figured out that she could point at something and we would say what it was. I'll never forget the first time this happened. She was about thirteen months old. We were sitting in the hallway, and she pointed at the door to her room. I had the presence of mind to tap on it and say "door" a couple of times. She clearly repeated me: "doh". And then she was suddenly pointing at other doors and saying "doh"!

We've been given a bunch of books for babies that just have lots of pictures of household objects or animals or shapes or whatever, labeled with their names. I had thought that these books would be kind of dry and boring -- wouldn't hearing an actual story be more fun? But it turns out that, at least at this age, Sylvia loves these books and prefers them to stories (which she usually doesn't have the attention span for). She'll race through the book, pointing at objects, only pausing long enough for me to name each one. Sometimes, if she knows the word, she'll say it, or if she doesn't volunteer the word, I'll say "What's that?" and try to get her to say it.

She hasn't really been combining words yet, although she's said "mo" and "pease" in pretty close proximity, so we think "mo, pease!" as a single thought can't be too far off. On the other hand, Alex thinks he might have heard her say "heea-go" ("here you go!") while handing him something! I haven't heard that yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

Finally, there have to be lots more words that she understands but that we've never heard her produce. For instance, she seems to understand "Sylvia, can you throw that away in the trash?", although I've never heard her use any of those words. (Her interpretation of such requests can be hilariously literal.)

Edited to add: Since making this list two days ago, here are a few more that I've just heard her say for the first time:

  • phone (after hearing my phone make a noise from the other room)
  • sheep (yet another bath toy)
  • the "sauce" part of "applesauce" (until now, it was just "appa")
  • broom ("boom"; she's very into brooms and sweeping; she may have also said "sweep")
  • helmet (she has a little bike helmet that she wears when riding in her baby seat on the back of Alex's bike; I didn't realize she was saying "helmet" at first because it sounded identical to "Elmo", but she was clearly referring to the helmet, because we were looking at a picture of her wearing it)
  • "um..." (she seemed to say this several times when I asked her a question and she was thinking about it)

  1. Tash and her spouse relocated to New Zealand in December, which was just a bit too far away to keep sending Sylvia to her place. We found another local home-based daycare that we like, but we were sad to see them go!
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Call for talk proposals: !!Con West 2019! [Nov. 29th, 2018|09:33 pm]
Lindsey Kuper
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New blog post, in which I keep trying to squeeze mileage out of this "enthusiastically embracing the physical and human geography of the west coast" verbiage I came up with, even though I'm still not exactly sure I know what that means.

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An introduction to replica conflict resolution [Oct. 31st, 2018|11:42 pm]
Lindsey Kuper
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New blog post, in which I mostly just gush about how great UC Santa Cruz undergrads are.

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Course announcement: Languages and Abstractions for Distributed Programming [Sep. 20th, 2018|04:05 pm]
Lindsey Kuper
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New blog post, which was delayed until I settled on a naming convention for course repositories.

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Understanding the regression line with standard units [Aug. 31st, 2018|12:58 pm]
Lindsey Kuper
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New blog post, in which I bust out some Small Data.

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Trying Stitch Fix [Aug. 18th, 2018|10:04 pm]
Lindsey Kuper
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I need some better clothes, but I never seem to make the time to go shopping. So I just signed up for Stitch Fix, a service that picks out clothes for you (after you fill out a fit and style survey and specify what price range you're looking for) and sends them to you at regular intervals. You can try the clothes on at home, buy what you like, and easily send back anything you don't. The first box arrived yesterday, and I was stoked to see what I'd been sent and try everything on!

In the box were five beautifully packed items, complete with a personalized note and suggestions on how to wear each piece. For this first shipment, Britta was my stylist, and she chose a skirt, a pair of jeans, two tops, and a blazer.

mirror selfies ahoyCollapse )

The verdict: I decided to keep everything Britta sent me! I probably wouldn't have kept the blue top, except that there's a 25% discount if you buy everything you're offered, which more than made up for the cost of the top, so it was actually a better deal to just keep it all. That's how they get you, I guess.

Overall, I'm feeling pretty satisfied with the Stitch Fix experience. I'm already looking forward to the next box! If you decide to give it a try, here's a handy referral link.

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You don't need a 4.0 to go to grad school [Jul. 31st, 2018|02:45 pm]
Lindsey Kuper
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New blog post, in which I dredge up the remains of my undergraduate career.

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To explore strange new worlds [Jul. 10th, 2018|01:59 pm]
Lindsey Kuper
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Growing up in the late eighties and early nineties, I was aware of Star Trek: The Next Generation and sometimes watched with my parents when it was on TV. I liked it fine, but I didn't really follow the show, and throughout my adulthood, people have made references to the show that I didn't get.

Sylvia was born last July, and while I was still on maternity leave, the idea came to me of watching all of TNG, start to finish. I think having a child made both Alex and me a bit nostalgic for media from our childhoods. In his case, it was The Muppet Show; for me it was TNG. My Netflix viewing history reveals that I started watching on September 20, when Sylvia was just eight weeks old, and that it took me until December to get through season one.

Starting in January, I picked up the pace a bit as we began to settle into a regular bedtime routine with Sylvia. Around 7:30pm, it's Bedtime :: Maybe Bath -> Pajamas -> Reading -> Nursing -> Bed. Most nights, she's asleep or nearly-asleep by 81, and then I watch an episode or two of TNG.

So, I've been watching the show (having now made my way through most of it) and enjoying it quite a lot, and there's a lot I could say about that, but right now I want to tell a different story. One night this spring, it was getting toward 10pm, and Sylvia just couldn't seem to get to sleep after repeated attempts. So I held her in my arms and sat down to watch TNG with her on my lap. She stared wide-eyed at the screen as the iconic title sequence ("Space: the final frontier.") came on.

About eight seconds into that title sequence, a bright light, a star or comet or something, passes by the camera. By this point in my TNG-watching adventure, I had seen the title sequence lots of times (although Netflix offers an option to "Skip Intro", I generally don't, preferring to have an Authentic '90s TV Experience™), not to mention all the times I saw it as a kid, of course. So I wasn't especially paying attention to it. Then Sylvia suddenly flinched backward into me as that bright light hit the camera.

It's hard to explain all the feelings and thoughts I had just then, all at once:

  • Oh, my God. She thought that was going to hit her!
  • She is having this experience for the first time ever. For her, every moment is a strange new experience.
  • She doesn't know that things on TV aren't really there. I mean, why would she know that?
  • What does it even mean for something to be "there", anyway?
  • She's more perceptive than I am; that was a totally reasonable human(oid) reaction. I should be worried if she didn't flinch.
  • Oh, my sweet baby, I love you so much. I'll protect you from the giant burning space rock barreling toward us.

Every day is magical.


  1. Lest you think that our child is a particularly good sleeper, please know that even now, at eleven months old, she's still waking up a couple times a night every night to nurse -- usually around midnight and 4am. She usually only wants to nurse for five minutes or so each time and then it's right back to sleep, but I still have to get up and deal with it.
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Where and when should you go to PLMW? [Jun. 29th, 2018|11:35 pm]
Lindsey Kuper
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New blog post, snuck in just before the application deadline for the next PLMW.

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Back to school [May. 13th, 2018|01:00 pm]
Lindsey Kuper
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New blog post, in which I break the big news about my new job!

This entry was originally posted at https://lindseykuper.dreamwidth.org/25590.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
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