Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It never fails ...

On Friday night, Dan had a very sleepless night. He was up every few hours. He didn't want to go back to sleep. By 5 a.m., Jim got up with him. They had breakfast and went to Lowe's. Later that day, he began walking. We should have known ... sleepless nights precede major (and sometimes even minor) developments.

Actually, he's been taking steps since he was eight months old. But on Saturday, he finally began pulling up, letting go and practically running around the house. He's doing what Jim calls "room to room transfers." He walks from room to room to room. This weekend, he was crawling as much as he walked. But today, I barely saw him crawl at all. All this activity is exhausting him. He's been taking good daytime naps and sleeping well at night.

Up till now, the only shorties roaming around the house were the dog and the cat. Seeing him toddle around is hilarious. He's eye-level with the dog and he loves it. And he's finally taller than the cat. In fact, the first time I saw him walk across the room, he was heading for Bob the dog. He gave Bob a nice pat on the snout, and buried his hands and face in the dog's furry neck. Then, his next stop was Smug the cat. He squatted down beside her while she was eating and started petting her back. We've been working on the concept of "gentle" - for petting the animals, our faces and our hair. He gets it when we say "gentle Dan," I think. Anyhow, he hasn't pulled my hair or poked my eye out lately.

The best part of staying home with Dan is watching him accomplish feats big and small. Today, he seemed to get better at walking with each passing hour. His balance has improved enormously in just three days. He can stoop down to pick up toys, stand back up from a squat, shlep steadily through toy piles and even carry rather large toys while walking.

No wonder he's exhausted.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

Jim, Danny and I spent Thanksgiving with my parents in Raleigh. Here are some photos from Dan's first Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Maybe this will work ...

Dinner time has become a battle to keep young Dan from purposely throwing food over the side of his high chair. Tonight, it occurred to me, "If there's no 'side' to throw the food off of, maybe he won't throw the food."

So, instead of eating food off his high chair tray, he ate food from a plate on the table. Maybe it was the novelty of eating at the table, but it seemed to work. He didn't throw his food.

See more photos in the series and the video below.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The baby has left the building ...

Click here to see several new photo albums.

Enter tempestuous toddler Dan. He is just a few weeks shy of his first birthday, but it's pretty clear that we no longer have a baby on our hands. He's rocketed into full-blown toddlerhood, complete with tantrums and defiance aplenty. And if this isn't full-blown toddlerhood, but just a warm up, boy, are we in BIG trouble. Because he's smaller than most kids his age, it's easy to still treat him like he's a baby. It's dawning on us that he understands way more than we thought - which is a mixed blessing.

This morning, Dan and I were playing with the shape sorter. I held up a square, gave it to him, showed him which hole matched and he would put it in. Then, on to the circle. When we got to the triangle, I began to sing the triangle song (Cousin Kelley knows about the triangle song, it's her favorite, right Kelley?). The triangle song is from a large stuffed block with shapes on each side that plays a song for each shape. Dan loves it; we tolerate it and often find ourselves singing the different songs. Ugh. Anyhow, as I sang the song, Dan crawled away from our activity. He went straight for the block and pulled it off the shelf. The triangle side was visible from where we had been sitting. He gave me a wide grin as he banged the triangle side and made the song play. His face said, "See, I know what a triangle is, mommy."

Great. Now, son, do you know that we don't want you to throw your cup off your high chair during dinner? Handing it to us or setting it down would be just fine. And sometimes he does. Some nights, however, he looks straight at us and does it anyway. Tonight, we started taking him out of his high chair, putting him on the floor and telling him to pick up his cup. When he did, we put him back in his high chair and continued dinner. We repeated it three times tonight.

Does he know that the CD racks, the stereo, the stairs, the dishwasher and the fridge are off limits? Of course, he does. He just doesn't like to hear the word no. I'm really not looking forward to spending the next two years telling him no and getting angry red-faced screams in response. I was just starting to really enjoy him. Now he has a will of his own. And it's not always in line with what our will for him is. Isn't he going to get weary and discouraged at the constant redirection? I'm afraid he's not to going to like us very much over the next year.

I'm going to really miss my little baby.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What I've learned so far

Tonight I had a flashback. We were getting ready to take a walk in the chilly early evening. I got out Dan's stroller bunting and quickly slipped it in the stroller, pulled the seat belt through the bunting and buckled Dan in.

Our very first walk with Dan wasn't so simple. It was December 10, it was cold and it was my first mild exercise since Dan's birth. We bundled 10-day-old Dan up and then spent nearly a half hour trying to figure out the stroller bunting. So, eleven months into parenthood, one thing I know for sure is how to attach the bunting to the stroller in less than 30 seconds.

What I don't know could fill an entire blog, but here's a start:
  • How to dress my son without him screaming or going rigid
  • How to snap the baby's pants while he's trying to crawl away
  • How to diaper a baby who's trying to crawl away (Here's an idea for a baby shower game: Diapering cats.)
  • Why he sleeps through some nights and not others
  • Why he stops what he's doing suddenly and just shrieks
  • Why he poops three times a day no matter what he eats
  • What the fascination is with the refrigerator, dishwasher and stove
  • Why he looks up in wonder, coos and waves at the ceiling fan
  • Why he doesn't take a morning or afternoon nap some days
  • Why, after a trying day with him, I still feel compelled to check on him while sleeps, just because I miss him.
The stroller bunting, I have that down. Now if I could just figure out how to dress him without the drama.

Scarred for life ...

... or at least the next few days.

Poor Dan. Today Jim found him with his little finger closed in the bi-fold door to our linen closet. He must have screamed for a good three minutes while we both tried to comfort him. When he had been sufficiently soothed, he got busy playing again. As he crawled past the closet door, he started to cry and crawl faster. He did this once more as he passed the offending closet.

Maybe he won't play with the bi-fold doors anymore.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Halloween, the begging holiday

As my husband Jim points out, Halloween is the only night of the year when you willingly open the door for masked strangers. I remember my mother was not very fond of Halloween and I thought she was such a wet blanket. Well, guess what? It's my least favorite holiday, so I guess I've turned into my mother.

I worked on Halloween night, so I didn't get to witness the parade of masked strangers begging for sugar. Dan is too young to trick or treat or even enjoy getting dressed up. And judging by his response to the trick or treaters, if we had dressed him up, his own reflection might have terrified him.

Jim had Dan in his arms as he answered the night's first doorbell. Dan took one look at these masked marauders and began screaming. By now, he's learned certain things about the appearance of humans, and what he saw on our front porch just didn't fit with his ideas. The second batch of trick or treaters elicited the same response. So Dan played in his funtime playland while Jim attended the beggars, er, I mean, kids.

What bugs me the most about Halloween is the complete lack of manners. In years past, there have been some kids who don't even say "trick or treat." They then reach into my basket before I can hand out the candy, pull out several pieces and then leave without saying thank you. They barely make eye contact or smile. What's worse is their parents stand at the end of our driveway, not even bothering to come up to enforce basic manners or speak with us, their neighbors.

This year, our neighborhood agreed that trick or treating would happen between 5:30 and 7:30 and only at homes with porch lights on. So, Jim turned off the porch light and began getting Dan settled for bed after 7:30. Dan was nearly asleep on Jim's shoulder at 7:45 when some little brat rang the doorbell over and over and over again. Guess who woke up?

When Jim told me this, I asked if he got the door. Of course, he didn't because he now had a wide awake, crying baby on his hands. But if I was home, I might have gone down, opened the door and given them one hell of a Halloween scare. That's what Halloween is all about, right?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Running on instinct

Dan is 11 months old today. So, I did my monthly perusal of The Books. You know, the ones that tell you what your child should be doing and what to expect in the next month. I've had to limit myself to reading once a month and only the parts that apply to Dan's age and/or stage. No reading ahead!

As I read about 11 month olds, I realized just how dead on my instincts have been. Usually by the time I read about an age or stage, I'm already doing a lot of what's suggested for Dan's developmental stage. In the past week, I've started giving him more direction and telling him what's going on using adult phrases followed by a simpler version using just key words. This is something The Book suggested. I didn't read about it until yesterday.

The technique comes in handy when closing the fridge or dishwasher. These two appliances are the most fascinating thing EVER for Dan. He makes a bee line for the kitchen when he hears me open those doors. If I open them while he's in his high chair, his eyes light up and he starts fidgeting. So, I usually let him play a bit and then tell him "Mommy needs to close the door now. Say bye bye to the dishwasher." This has dramatically reduced the drama surrounding the closing of the fridge and dishwasher.

Another interesting development is that he hands objects to me instead of taking them away or holding onto them. Now when he's gotten a hold of contraband I can just sweetly say, "Dan, can Mommy have that?" And he hands it over! I also use this strategy to keep him from throwing or dropping his sippy cup on the floor. I might as well take advantage of it while it lasts.