a secret language

47 weeks

You’re rounding the corner on 11 months, and it seems every day brings a new discovery for you–or a discovery on our part of something you’re now capable of doing.

Yesterday afternoon, after I’d picked you up from daycare and we were sitting on the living room floor playing, you pointed at the stereo, which we’ve come to understand means you’d like us to turn on music. (The first time you did this, I was absolutely blown away: Not only do you know what music is, but you know to ask for it to “turn on” and you know where it comes from?!) I put on some Zucchero Fornaciari, and you started bopping in place to the rhythm, clapping your hands and smiling goofily before going about your business.

After Daddy came home, he asked you, “Where’s the stereo?” and you pointed right to it. I was amazed! Somehow, you’ve picked up the word “stereo” and know that it refers to that delightful box on the shelf with the music and the flashing lights. Then I asked, “Where’s the fan?” and you pointed at the ceiling. You identify a handful of things by pointing: light, fish (which you associate with the fish mobiles in your room; you’ll point at any one of the three under-the-sea-themed hanging decorations), cat/kitties or either of the cats by name. You even know Luis is your doll; when we ask where he is, you crawl over to pick him up.

But when I say “where’s Mamma?” you kind of look absentmindedly around the room or stare back at me blankly. “Where’s Dada?” gets the same reaction. Daddy and I are not just a little puzzled that you clearly know your doll is named Luis but you show no indication of knowing that I am Mamma and that he is Dada.

We’ve been trying to rationalize it: Maybe you know us by other names (like our first initials, which is how we often call each other) or maybe you think it’s weird that we’re referring to ourselves in the third person and therefore refuse to acknowledge us. So we’ll continue to wait, patiently, while you giddily embrace “Luis” but not us. Humph.

I’m also fairly certain that you’re trying to say “cat,” which may wind up being your first (discernible) word. You’ll point to one of the kitties (who, by the way, have perhaps accepted the fact that you’re not leaving any time soon but certainly haven’t warmed up to you much beyond that), and I’ll say, “Cat. Do you see the cat?” And you’ll say, “Kah. Kah kah.” I think you’re also attempting to say “round,” although it comes out sounding nothing like that. One time, you pointed at the fan and I said, “It goes round and round and round and round” while pointing at the fan and moving my arm in a circle. You imitated me! You actually pointed, moved your arm in a (kind-of) circle and said “wah wah wah wah” in the same cadence as “round and round and round and round.”

Oh, what fun this is! (Although I can see how we’re going to have to start being careful about what we do and say.)

I spent a recent evening pumping session (yup, still pumping, although I have it down to three times a day during weekdays) reading the motor skills development book that Nonna lent to us when you were first born. I read the 10- and 11-month chapters and was pleased to have confirmation that you’re right on schedule. Some of your major motor milestones didn’t even register with me, like how I can hold out my hand for whatever you might have in yours and you’ll pass it to me. I always praise you for sharing when you do this, but it didn’t occur to me that it’s a pretty significant motor development. Then I’ll hold the object out for you to take, and you’ll grab it back.

You’re side sitting, ring sitting, long sitting and kneeling nicely. You’re cruising along whatever you can find to pull yourself up on, and especially all over your crib, even navigating the corners (although they’re the easier concave corners as opposed to the more difficult convex ones on the coffee table). You’ll transition, standing, from one source of support to another (couch to coffee table, say). You will push an object, moving forward, for a short period of time. I feel letting go must be right around the corner. I don’t want to rush you, of course, but man, are you getting heavy.

This Month in Guppy Growth

  • You are obsessed with your index finger. You use it to point to everything. If I hold mine out, you’ll touch the end of it with yours, ET-style. You use it to jab at your food and mash your blueberries. And recently, you’ve discovered two holes in your nose that are perfectly finger shaped and you like to rest your index finger there.
  • Recent food adventures include teething biscuits (delightfully time consuming for you to polish off), tomatoes, French fries and popsicles.
  • You love clapping along to the song we made up for you, and as soon as you hear it you know to start clapping: There is a boy who is a joy, and Ethan is his name-O. E-T-H-A-N …
  • Magnets are your most recent favorite toys. You discovered them at Nonna and Opa’s, where you have access to the fridge, and then Nonna bought you an alphabet set to keep at home. Daddy rigged up a magnetic “board” by drilling holes into a 16-inch pizza pan and tying it to the gate in the living room. It’s not as tall as the fridge is, but you still have to stand up to interact with the magnets.
  • We’re starting to move you out of your 12-month clothes! But still no teeth.



just beachy

44 weeks

It’s July. How is that even possible? The Fourth always marks the midway-through-summer point, at least in my mind, and it’s already upon us. Our official summer vacation has come and gone, and now we’re focusing on what’s next, and a big part of that next is your first birthday.

But not to get ahead of ourselves.

Your first vacation and our first trip to the beach as a family of three was a huge success. You proved to us once again how highly adaptable you are, and we remained once again completely awestruck by your easygoing-ness. Not only did our five-day beach stay mark the first time you’d slept away from home since those first couple of days in the hospital, but it started out with your first major road trip.

You took it all in stride: You did great in the car with very little fuss and quite a bit of napping, and you took to the little bedroom nook in which we set up your Pack N Play like you were always meant to be there. The big, old house we rented along with Nonna and Opa (thank goodness they were with us, as it allowed Daddy and me to squeeze in some relaxation while we were away and to squeeze some extra stuff into their car) was perfect for your exploration inclinations. You had ample room to roam the open first floor between the living room, dining room and enormous kitchen–not to mention a screened-in porch–and it convinced us more than ever that we needed to provide you with the same type of open, crawlable, danger-free space at home. You were so enthused about this space that you started crawling around in it on all fours consistently, a big, new milestone. You’d been inching around on your belly for months, occasionally getting up on all fours for a few paces but then reverting to that spastic army crawl. Once you started real crawling at the beach (and on it–more on that in a sec), you never looked back.

Our beach-going process took a few days to perfect. I’ve decided that next year we’ll go for a full week, because by the time we’d figured out a routine, it was time to pack up and leave again. We had so much stuff for you–tent, blankets, towels, umbrellas, toys, baby pool (a genius move on Nonna’s part, as you were so content to sit in it and play in the ocean water we carted up to it in pails), multiple bathing suits and swim diapers, multiple changes of clothes–that even just getting to the beach and setting up was a time-consuming challenge.

But once we were settled, boy did you revel in it. You crawled jubilantly across the sand, picking it up, throwing it and stuffing it wholeheartedly into your mouth. You loved the water, too, and you giggled and squealed when Daddy and I waded past the breakers to dangle your toes in it. (It was pretty cold, so we were all brave about this!) You also enjoyed sitting on the packed, wet sand, waiting for the tippy-tops of the crashed waves to venture their way to you and gently surround you. (We had to stop you from crawling straight into the ocean on only a few occasions.) We showed you shells and mole crabs. You watched the gulls to your heart’s content. Your happiness and delight made us all happy. And on our last day, we even managed to get you to nap under the umbrella, sprawled out on blankets and towels.

The mosquitoes were bad this year, so we spent our non-beach time in town, pushing you around in your stroller. You tasted hand-picked crab for the first time, and ice cream made its debut in your life. I can only imagine it’s going to be a lifelong love affair, as it is with Daddy and me. You took a tiny taste of Marsh Mud, a deep, dark homemade chocolate from our favorite Island Creamery, and broke out into a huge grin. I’ll never forget it.

Since we’ve been home, we’ve been busy with birthday parties and lunch dates, pool excursions and time spent with your grandparents (and great-grandparents, lucky boy). We followed through on our living room baby proofing almost immediately after our return. It took us a couple of evenings to get it done, but it’s exactly what you needed. We’ve given you free reign of the entire space, bordered by the couches and the entertainment center. We’ve gated off the stairs and the cats’ space–including the kitty condo, as you enjoyed pulling yourself up on it and planting yourself face first, mouth open, on the furry platform right at your eye level–and now you can play and crawl and pull yourself up on the couches and coffee table (I rest easy now that we’ve padded the corners). Everything within reach of you now is yours, and your favorite activity is pulling your board books off of the shelves and throwing them on the floor. I call you Demolition Baby because your second-favorite activity is making a beeline (on all fours–you’re very fast!) to block towers that anyone (Daddy, Beebee, Opa) might have built for you and knocking them down with a huge smile plastered across your face.

On your 10-month birthday (although the date itself was a complete coincidence), we installed new, super-deluxe Britax convertible car seats into our cars and transitioned you out of the infant bucket seat you’ve been using since you came home from the hospital. No more carrying you around in that thing, as you are getting much too heavy. Swinging it up and into the car with you in it after daycare every day was killing my back. These seats are cushy and luxurious, although they seem to swallow you whole. You’re comfortable enough in them to fall asleep easily, which you’ve done on several occasions during the 10-minute drive home from daycare since they were installed.

You’ve also started feeding yourself your formula from a sippy cup; this is an important step for us, as I’m determined to have you completely off of bottles by the time we head to Italy in October (or at the minimum, on a single pre-bedtime bottle). Quite frankly, you’re often not terribly interested in your daytime bottles, which we still offer you at 10(ish) and 2(ish). You much prefer solid foods or–if it’s first thing in the morning or last thing before bedtime–the boob. I’m very curious about the process of weaning you off of formula and off of bottles, and I’m looking forward to chatting about this with your pediatrician at your one-year appointment.

Your cognitive abilities have taken a huge leap forward recently. You’ve begun pointing with your little index fingers at things you’re interested in or might want, saying “ma-ma-ma-ma” and looking back and forth between me (or Daddy) and said object. Just yesterday, Daddy called me into your room where the two of you were reading a book in the glider. He asked you where the kitties were and you looked down at the ground for them and pointed at the door, which is spot on since they’re not allowed in your room. Then he asked you where the fishes were, and you pointed, one at a time, at each of your fishy mobiles. I was stunned. You understand so much! You also have begun dancing, bopping up and down wherever you might be (it’s particularly entertaining when you’re strapped into your high chair or car seat and can only really move your head up and down in what we call “the turtle dance”). And you’ve completely mastered “more.” Sometimes you point at what it is you want more of, sometimes–if you’re eating–you tap your mouth over and over. But if I say, “show me ‘more,'” you almost immediately tap your fingers together in the sign language for the word. I’m so impressed!

This Month in Guppy Growth

  • You’ve been pulling yourself up to standing on everything: couches, tables, bookshelves, gate, Nonna’s refrigerator (those magnets are so enticing!). You’ve been known to let go momentarily to transition from one support to another or to grab at a toy, but you haven’t really started cruising or moving forward while upright.
  • Your sleep has normalized, and you sleep soundly and consistently. You’re usually asleep by the time we put you to bed between 7:30 and 8 p.m., and you sleep until 6 a.m., sometimes later if we’re sleeping in, too. Your napping is less impressive, although you nap better at daycare than you do at home.
  • You like every food you meet, and your latest obsessions include watermelon (which you eat right off the rind), hot dog and freeze-dried berries. You’ve also begun eating Cheerios.