I guess there’s no denying it- even though you have yet to show any interest in walking or free standing, the fact that we’re already an entire month into your second year means you, my son, are firmly in the category of toddler. I must say I found this month less rushed than the last month. I think it was because we didn’t have the buildup to your birthday. I loved celebrating your birthday, and I looked forward to it even as I was sad to see the end of your first year, but it was nice this month that there wasn’t a Date of Great Importance marching closer with each day that went by. On your actual birthday we had dinner together as a family like we usually do, and we gave you another cupcake (which you devoured with as much enthusiasm as you’d shown to the first), and then we were just sitting around chatting and tidying up and we realized it was almost the exact minute when you were born. So we gave you an extra special cuddle, and I got a bit teary thinking about how much our lives have changed over the past year. I wouldn’t trade the last year for anything. Even with the sleep deprivation and all the worry over the MSPI, I wouldn’t change it one bit.
Last month I wrote that you hadn’t really experienced any big development leaps but instead had focused on refining the skills you already possessed. Well, you were obviously saving up a few things to make sure you could start your second year off with a bang, because the changes this month have been incredible. The biggest, by far, is that you have figured out you can communicate with us. It started very early in the month, with you poking and fussing at your peekaboo baby faces book that we bought you for your birthday (which was an instant hit) until I read it to you. Then your Daddy noticed that you were using a variation on your “all done” sign to mean “more”. I spent a day modelling the “more” sign at every meal, and the next day you started using it, and you haven’t looked back. At the moment, a combination of “more” and “up” can mean, “I want to sit on my ride-on car while you push me around the room”, “I want to stand on the couch and look out the window”, “I want my balloon” or “I want to go on the swings” depending on the context. You recognize the bag that your favourite corn puffs come in, and will sign “more” when you see it. You sign “more” if you’re hungry (I’m working on “eat” but you haven’t picked that up yet), and sometimes we can’t keep the food coming fast enough when you’re in your high chair, as you’ll be signing “more” in between bites!
Your comprehension really exploded this month as well. It took three demonstrations for you to learn how to get off the couch safely (feet first). The number of words you recognize is growing every day, even if you don’t have any spoken words of your own yet. When asked, “What does the cat say?” you make a noise that, while not yet really recognizable as a “meow”, is clearly meant to be an answer, as it’s the only time you make that sound. You’ve started holding up things to show me- often bits of your meal, but not always-, and I think you’re asking me to label what they are so you can learn the word. You now have favourite books, which you can find no matter where they are on the shelves, and which you ask me to read to you over and over again every day. Your current favourites are Moo, Baa, La La La; Hop on Pop; Doggies (a counting and barking book); and Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb, but your all-time favourite right now is, without a doubt, Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? I now have all of these memorized, but I’m glad to read Mr. Brown eight times in an hour, because for twelve months we read to you while you basically ignored us, and it makes me so happy to see you get so much pleasure out of listening to a story that you picked out yourself and asked me to read.
It’s difficult to put into words how much this change has altered the patterns of our days. Before, when we used to play in the living room, I’d get various toys out of your toy box, or you’d pull them out, or you’d pull the books of the shelves, or you’d sort the DVDs. You were always good at amusing yourself, but I could never be sure what you wanted to do. Now, suddenly, when you’re pulling books off the shelves, it’s because you are looking for a specific title, and once you find it, you bring it over to me so I can read it. We spend a good part of each morning hanging out on the couch while you look out the window and I tell you what we see. A couple of times this month you were on the floor and something interesting went past outside, and I looked out and started to tell you about it and you immediately began signing “more” and “up” so you could come and see it for yourself! Your babbling has changed again, and you’re starting to mimic sounds that we make if we ask you to say something, so I don’t think it will be all that much longer before you’ll have some true words. Just in the last week or so you’ve started growling/roaring- you’re experimenting with using your voice, and it makes your Daddy and I laugh every time we say something to you and you growl back in response.
You are quite the character. We spent some time towards the end of the month with your Canadian grandparents, and you made your Grannie laugh when eating breakfast one morning. You had some blueberries on your tray and you hurled them over the side with disdain. Later in the meal you started eating strawberries with a lot of enthusiasm, so I gave you two more blueberries on the off chance you’d changed your mind. You looked at the blueberries and then looked over the side of your chair at the blueberries on the ground. You then very deliberately picked up the two on your tray and tossed them over the side to join the others. Your Grannie swore she could see you thinking, “I’m sure I had some of those earlier and I put them over here. Oh yes, there they are.”
You pulled up my shirt and blew a big raspberry on my back one afternoon when we were lounging around in the grass, but we’re not entirely positive you did that deliberately. What was certainly deliberate was the joke you played on your Grandpa (my Dad). We were out in his backyard playing with bubbles when he got home from work. As soon as you saw him, you gave him the biggest smile and held up your arms so he could pick you up. But when he came over to get you and held out his arms, you immediately turned and hid your face in my lap like you were shy. Then you looked back at him, smiled again, and again held up your arms to be picked up. Grandpa held out his arms and reached to get you, and again you dove back into my lap, this time with a giggle. You must have done this eight or nine times in a row and you kept giggling every time at how you were ‘fooling’ Grandpa. It is hard to believe that eleven months ago we were in that backyard and all you could do was smile and flail wildly when you got overstimulated, and now there you were making jokes!
You are a master of peekaboo and will engage anyone in a game. You initiated a great game with your Gramma when she was outside sweeping the patio- you kept popping in and out of view in the window with a huge smile. You received some edu.shape sensory balls as a birthday present, and you love rolling them around the room. You’ll throw them to Mummy or Daddy if asked, and you’ve got quite a good arm already, although your Grandpa is disappointed you always throw with your right hand. You also love your Pl.an Toys pull-along alligator that one of your aunties gave you for your birthday. You love to drape the string around your shoulders so you can crawl and explore with your hands free and yet still take the alligator with you. You’re interested in putting shapes into the shape sorter, although you get easily frustrated, and you can stack two blocks on top of one another. You love being outside and crawling around on the grass, but if we’re at the park, nothing beats the swings. Your Daddy came home one day from a walk with you and said, “E. didn’t want to go to the park. As soon as I sat him down on the grass he just wanted to be picked up again.” A day or so later I was at the same park with you, in about the same spot (as that’s where the best shade was), and again you started signing “up” immediately. But when I followed your gaze, I realized you were asking to go on the swings, which were all the way on the other side of the park!
All of these changes have made for some disrupted sleeping patterns. I would say at the moment we don’t really have any predictability with your sleep, although the rest of our day still holds to the usual routine. The only way you fit in two good naps a day is if you wake up for the day at 5:30 a.m., something that has been happening with depressing regularity these days. It’s a vicious circle, because you’re obviously getting too much daytime sleep, but then if you wake up early you can’t get by on one nap. Right now we’re experimenting with cutting off the morning nap after thirty minutes in the hope that this will encourage you to take a long afternoon nap and, eventually, to drop the morning nap altogether. We’ll see what happens. Quite a few nights you’ve slept right through until 5:30 and then woken up for the day. Your Daddy and I were both notoriously early risers when we were children, so we suspect your dawn chorus will be more than just a passing phase (we think your Grannies are secretly enjoying this). You usually wake up in a good mood and are happy to burble and babble and sing to yourself for thirty minutes or so before we get you up.
For much of the month we were filling your sippy cups with a blend of breastmilk and cow’s milk, and eventually you got used to the different taste of the cow’s milk and even decided you liked it. You always drink at least 8 oz. and often will get through most of the 16 oz. that your paediatrician told us was the maximum you should have. There have been absolutely no repercussions with your tummy, which is wonderful. It’s a good thing you like the cow’s milk, because you’re not all that keen on yoghurt at the moment. You do love cheese, in all forms, and your two favourite breakfasts at the moment are scrambled eggs made with cheese and milk, and cheese and tomato on toast (which is your Daddy’s usual breakfast). It is so funny watching you eat, as you will devour something (like blueberries or broccoli) one day and then resolutely refuse it for the next few days. I think your appetite has slowed down a little since you hit the year mark, but it’s hard to tell. You generally have two really big meals in a day and then will just pick at the third, but which meals you focus on changes daily. You still love pancakes for breakfast, and usually at lunch and dinner protein is the top choice, unless there’s pasta involved. We had prawns the other day in an Indian curry, and you would have gladly eaten all of Mummy and Daddy’s as well as your own if we would have let you.
We have been saying for weeks now that you are clearly teething, and it seems at last that the bottom left molar is about to break through. I suspect its mate on the right will also make an appearance soon, to judge from where you stick the fingers that always seem to be in your mouth these days. We can also see three of your four canines, but only through the front of the gum. They’re obviously moving around, as they didn’t used to be that close to the surface, but they’re still well below the gum line so it will be a while yet before they arrive. You’ve handled this round of teething really well- there’s been a lot of fingers poking and grabbing in your mouth, but you’ve been good tempered throughout and it doesn’t seem to have had much of an impact on your night sleep or your naps (although that could just be because everything’s been so crazy this month I can’t pin the disruptions down to a particular cause).
This month we had a number of birthday parties to go to as all of your baby friends turned one. We’d organized a group cake smash in the park one Sunday. Two of the mummies baked the cakes and decorated them, and then we stripped all of you down to your cloth diaper covers, placed you on a white groundsheet, and stood back and watched the fun! The baby who got most into the action was the only girl in your little group, but you also tucked in once you realized what was happening. You especially liked licking icing off of fingers, whether they were your own or those of the baby sitting next to you. We had a photographer there to take some pictures, and afterwards we had a picnic while you and your friends were able to crawl around on the grass and “play” with each other (and by that I mean pull each other’s hair, trample each other, or grab things that another baby was holding).
This month also brought with it a huge milestone- our first long car trip with absolutely no crying on your part. We drove from Gramma and Grandpa’s house back home. It took about five and a half hours, including our stop for lunch. You had a quick 45 minute catnap at the start of the trip, and then you were happy to just look out the rear windscreen and play with a few of your toys (you especially liked your soft “Mouse” book). When we ate lunch at the rest stop, you had a great time sitting up in the high chair and smiling at all and sundry. You devoured your lunch and drank most of the bottle of apple juice we’d bought (it was your first encounter with a straw and you figured it out almost immediately). We’re so relieved you’re becoming a better traveller. You’re not in the car all that much, but we do have fairly regular big journeys to see relatives, and you’ll spend a lot more time in the car next month when we’re overseas visiting your Daddy’s family, so it’s wonderful that you’re becoming more settled. Even the journey to your grandparents’ house was easier than normal, although you did get upset at a couple of points (although you’d been running a fever and were clearly not feeling your best). We think two things have helped: you’re now in the big carseat, which is probably more comfortable, and you’ve started using your thumb to self-soothe. Every time you seemed to be thinking about building up to a meltdown, in went your thumb and you calmed down again. But on the return journey, you were so happy and engaged you didn’t even threaten to cry. When we listened to CDs you would sing along from the backseat. It’s funny to think that when we make this drive next summer you’ll actually be talking to us about what you can see.
I’m starting to see what that Daddy meant when he told me in the park just before your birthday that the six months coming up were going to be even better than the last six months. At the time I didn’t think it was possible for you to become more fun than you already were, but watching you start to communicate with us this past month has really brought home to your Daddy and I just how exciting the year ahead of us is going to be. We have some big firsts still to come over the next couple of months- first steps and first words, and I can’t wait for them both. I’m so excited for this summer, the trips to the park that we’ll make, the adventures we’ll have. You are such a good natured and good tempered little boy. You truly are a joy to be around, each and every day.