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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Fourteen Months

Charles turned 14 months old yesterday!  This last month has been full of changes, as usual.  The most exciting one is that he has begun taking steps!  Not "walking" yet, he still crawls for the majority of his mobility, but he can definitely take steps unsupported.  The record so far is about 25 at a time.  He took a few last week while at my parents' house, three on the first day.  The next he took seven, the next 13, and then finally 25!  We got home to Papa Monday night, and so far he hasn't really walked at all here.  I think he's readjusting to his surroundings; we had been gone seven days.

I haven't wanted to rush him into walking, but it is pretty cool now that it's happening.  My favorite thing, though, is how proud he is of himself when he does it!  His whole body shows his delight at his accomplishment; he even claps for himself.  :)  And I am looking forward to him being able to walk as the weather gets nicer:  parks and playgrounds are so much more fun when one is vertically mobile!

This month his language skills have exploded!  While we were at Pop and Mimi's a few weeks ago, he began learning animals' names and sounds, and now he LOVES spotting animals and pictures of animals while we're out and about!  It's a great way to keep him entertained at the grocery store.  His favorites are dogs and bears.  For dogs (and most other animals that make two-syllable sounds) he can go "uff uff" and cows (and other drawn-out sounds) he can go "vvvvvvvvv," which, apparently, to a 14 month old, sounds like "moo."

Some of Charles' favorite activities are playing ball, stacking blocks, playing with puzzles and shape-sorters, banging/shaking musical instruments, and--most of all--READING BOOKS.  Our time together is passing so much more quickly now that he's bringing me books to read, and actually more or less sits still for me to read them!  He loves Brown Bear and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, as well as But Not the Hippopotamus and any other story featuring animals.  He LOVES Clifford the Big Red Dog and can identify pictures of trains and say "ch! ch!" ("choo choo," of course).

The past month or so Charles has also begun "singing" little songs.  Sometimes he'll sing "with" me, sometimes with the radio, and sometimes just because he feels like it.  As a music-lover, I hope his new-found enjoyment of song lasts a lifetime.

I think we're finally over the hump sleep-wise.  Most nights he'll sleep from around 8:00 PM to somewhere between 6:00 and 7:30 AM.  It's fantastic!  I feel like a new woman.  He's making up for missing his night-time nursings by still nursing around five times during the day, which I love.  I read on a blog somewhere that most 13-month-olds nurse 2-3 times a day and just chuckled.  I hope the day when he only nurses twice is still a long, long way off!

As you can see, Charles is really growing from a baby into a little boy.  This all really happened after he was mostly done with cutting all four of his one-year molars at once (which of course has expanded his menu options as well).  The molars have been accompanied with a prodigious amount of snot and congestion, but he's handled it well and hasn't seemed too uncomfortable.

Another contributing factor to his development might be the time we've been spending with other toddlers at the Morning Garden program at our local Waldorf School.  He's the youngest there, with most of the other nine children around two years of age (the range is one to two-and-a-half).  We really enjoy our time spent with other "green" moms and toddlers--it's nice being a part of a group where I'm not the weird one!  I also love seeing the other moms close-up in action:  loving on their toddlers, teaching them, disciplining when necessary.  And since most of them have slightly older kiddos, they're able to assure me that whatever phase Charles is in that's not so happy will pass, that we're not the only ones.

Overall, the past few months have been awesome.  Each stage so far has been my favorite!

*Photos by Rachel Stricklin, taken at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Friday, March 7, 2014

We have a Stander!

Charles is 13.5 months old now, and yesterday he really discovered he could stand on his own!  A couple weeks ago at my parents' house he stood unsupported several times in a row, but he hadn't done it since.  Now I think he's really got it down, and he is SO proud of himself.  He claps and laughs the whole time, giving us that, "Yeah, I'm good!" look.

I've been in no rush for him to stand or walk (I know he will when he's ready, and I don't want to push him!), but I'm super proud too.  I love seeing his excitement.  :)

Charles is also learning how to climb, which is exciting for all of us, I'm sure.  The other day I barely caught him from toppling the high chair over on himself because he'd climbed halfway up it!  He'll use anything for a stool--even toys.  Let the real exploring begin!


In verbal news, Charles is a huge fan of the onomatopoeia, specifically animal sounds.  While we were at Pop & Mimi's house last week he really began trying to connect animals with their names and sounds (with varying degrees of success).  His attempts don't always sound just like grown-up ones, but that's okay--they're cuter.  He can "baa" and "neigh" (though those two sound about the same), "moo" (sort of), and does a rockin' impression of a dog:  the cutest "uff uff" sound you've ever heard!

Also cool is that he recognizes animals as animals even though they may look really different from others we've identified for him--one cartoon chicken does not look like another!  After learning about dogs and their sound at Pop & Mimi's, when he came home he identified a stuffed dog as an "uff uff" and got super excited when he saw his little Clifford book, pointing and going "uff uff uff!!!"  Now that's his favorite thing for me to read to him.  (I wish it were longer.  The same five board pages over and over get old pretty quick, but his excitement keeps me going.)  His most used words are "ball," "book," and, as of a couple days ago, "dog."  "Mama" and "Papa" don't happen much--at his age he still doesn't completely realize he's separate from us.

Speaking of Clifford, I bought him a Clifford coloring book and some "My First Crayons" today.  He colored for the first time on a kids' menu at a restaurant (Folks) in Georgia last weekend and seemed to like it.  I just bought some Crayolas, but I'm keeping my eye out for some "green" crayons too.


On the food front, Charles is still nursing an average of five times a day, which is a bit more than a lot of babies his age but just right for us.  I'm planning on letting him wean when he's ready and no sooner; I have no aversion to letting him nurse past two years:  the worldwide average is more than four!

He still loves eggs and avocados, as well as those organic food pouches while we're on the go.  He pretty much eats whatever we're eating unless it's something he's unable to chew, like carrot sticks or nuts.  I'm trying to make it a policy not to eat something myself I won't allow him to eat for health reasons; so if I splurge, he gets some too (if he wants some).  The idea is that it'll make me think more about my own food choices and splurge less!  So far it's working.


My favorite thing right now is that Charles has gotten to a point where we can really do things together.  I can finally read to him and he'll pay attention.  Now he can build block towers with me rather than just knock mine over.  He's learning how to put shapes in a shape sorter (with a little help from one of us).  When I sing to him, he sings back to me.  If I hug him, he hugs me back.  (He blows kisses too.)  He can really understand so much more of what we're saying than even a month ago, and I love love love being able to talk to him!

Charles is also learning to manipulate his environment, pointing, grunting, and otherwise directing us in what he wants us to do.  He knows what he wants--sometimes he points to a spot with several things and he will shake his head "no" until you pick up what he was pointing at, whether it is a specific book or a type of food.  I'm trying to be more conscientious about labeling things for him so that one day (hopefully sooner rather than later) his grunts will turn into attempts at words.

It's pitiful and adorable when he gets frustrated by not being able to get his message across.  Unfortunately, his frustration right now comes out as hitting, which I understand but obviously don't condone.  So we're encountering our first real discipline area and praying for wisdom in how best to handle how to teach our son not to hit without "hitting" (as he would perceive it) him.


In sum, we're having a blast.  It's not always easy:  there are multiple times every single day where I sit back and wonder, "What in the world am I doing???"  But it is SO worth it.

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