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.