Thursday, March 24, 2011

Who Is This Elmo Guy?

Ezra began using his first proper noun at the end of January.  Proper nouns are exciting because when a baby starts saying your name it is like winning a popularity contest.  You are so special to someone that your name is one of the first words ever uttered by that person.  I had a mental list of the most likely individuals to receive this honor: one of Ezra’s daycare friends, Piper, Grace, Stella, an aunt, an uncle, Amanda, me.  No.  The first name Ezra said was “m’Elmo.”

I can’t help but wonder how Elmo swooped in and stole this glory from actual people Ezra knows and loves.  We don’t even own a TV.  Ezra is only familiar with Sesame Street from clips on YouTube we have watched a few times and two Sesame Street albums he received for his birthday.  Compared to most children his age his exposure to Elmo is pretty minimal, but apparently Elmo is the type of monster toddlers fall in love with at first sight.

Before Ezra was born, I would have been able to pick Elmo out of a Muppet line-up, but other than being able to recognize him I knew nothing about this Elmo guy – I had never even heard him speak.  I did know the character was extremely popular.  I vaguely remember news reports from the mid-late 1990s of fistfights between Christmas shoppers anxious to give their kids the opportunity to “Tickle Me, Elmo.”  So, I was curious to learn more about the most popular celebrity among 1-3 year olds.

The first thing I learned was that Sesame Street claims Elmo has been on the program since 1972.  Does anyone from my generation remember him?  No. He was more of an extra hanging out in the background.  In 1985, puppeteer (or is it Muppetteer?) Kevin Clash took over the character.  The character, previously only known as baby monster, was rechristened Elmo and quickly became the star of the Children’s Television Workshop eclipsing all other Muppets, including the classic Sesame Street characters.

After watching Elmo in action I began to realize why he became so popular.   He is a master of self-promotion.  Does any other character or person refer to himself in third person as much as Elmo?  “Elmo wants to . . .”  “Elmo loves the . . . ”  “Elmo can learn . . .” This little monster will say his name 500 times in a two minute clip. His name is said so often that Ezra became a little confused and decided everyone on the show must be named Elmo.  He points to Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch, Bert and/or Ernie and says, “m’Elmo,” but without the joy and enthusiasm he displays when the actual “m’Elmo!” appears.  To Ezra Sesame Street is a show starring Elmo along with his co-stars, the lesser-Elmos.

Ezra discovered “C is for Cookie” when Garry's sister played a clip for him on her phone.  As you can see, he loved it. Because he liked it so much, his grandparents bought him Sesame Streets CDs for his birthday.  Elmo’s two songs, “Elmo’s Song” and “Happy Tappin’ with Elmo” quickly became his favorites.  (Notice Elmo even puts his names in his song titles).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I ♥ Nursing

Ezra and I at the Field Museum in Chicago last month. I love nursing my toddler! He likes it too ♥

Monday, March 21, 2011

Goodbye Knut

I was saddened to learn of the sudden death of Knut, the famous polar bear at Berlin Zoological Garden, this Saturday.  Knut’s celebrity spilled into the Postilius household this Valentines Day.  Amanda gave Ezra the book, Knut: The Baby Polar Bear, as a gift, and the book immediately became one of our favorite bedtime reads.  Unlike most of our bedtime stories, Ezra reads Knut to us.  He points to the first photo of the adorable cub Knut and tells us it’s a “bear” and a “baby.”  He tells us about the “shoe” and “ball” Knut is playing with in other photos, and the “bath” Knut is enjoying on the next page.  The story ends with Knut falling asleep as Ezra wishes him, “night-night, Knut.”

Knut and his brother were born at Zoo Berlin on December 5, 2006.  Their celebrated arrival soon turned to potential tragedy as their mother, a 20 year-old former circus performer, refused to care for the cubs, and abandoned them on a rock in her enclosure.  Zookeeper Thomas Dörfelin stepped in to provide round the clock care to the guinea pig sized bears.  Though Dörfelin could not save Knut’s brother, who died of infection after four days, Knut thrived in his care, and he became the Zoo Berlin’s first polar bear to survive infancy in more than 30 years.   On March 23, 2007, Knut was presented to the public for the first time.  Four hundred journalists from around the world visited the zoo that day to report on this young bear and his human caretaker.  Interest in Knut never waned and he soon graced magazine covers, a German postage stamp, and brought record numbers of visitors to Zoo Berlin.  His popularity was met with both celebration and criticism.  I too have mixed feelings about Knut’s celebrity, but with Ezra I wish him sweet dreams. “Night-night, Knut.”

What else have we been reading? Check-out more "What we're reading" posts:

Moo, Baa, La La La

Peek a Who

Manhood for Amateurs

A Look Back: February 21-March 6

We had a busy couple weeks in the Postilius household! We took a weekend trip with Amanda's sister, brother and sister-in-law to Chicago. We ate deep dish Chicago Style pizza at the very first Pizzeria Uno (established 1943). We rode the 'L.' We visited museums. Well, more accurately Jessica, David and Kim visited museums and we mostly visited the children's play rooms in the Field Museum and Art Institute. On our return we stopped in Lafayette to wish Amanda's grandmother a happy 85th birthday (Happy Birthday Emma!).

On Friday, we went to Ezra's inaugural First Friday at WonderLab, Bloomington's children's science museum. There were a lot of families and kids, and Ezra had a lot of fun!

Garry spent his first night away from Ezra and returned to his hometown for his grandmother's 80th birthday party (Happy Birthday Maxine!). He missed Ezra and was surprised he did not sleep better in a bed by himself.

 Happy Birthday Emma and Maxine!

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Along the B-Line Trail

Just a couple weeks ago, the weather was warm enough that we were walking through downtown Bloomington along the B-Line Trail. Ezra enjoyed the uptick in temperature, gaily singing and running along as my Mom and I walked at a more ambling pace.

I was reminded of the fact that Ezra has been along this stretch of the B-Line Trail before. It's just passed the 1-year mark since we saw Malcolm Dalglish's The Welcome Table and we walked – no marched! – from the Buskirk Chumley Theater to Dale Enoch’s sculpture The Bloomington Banquet. We were gaily singing then too! There must be something about the B-Line Trail and a festive spring atmosphere that brings out bursts of song and activity.