I’m not even sure where to start! It’s been a busy month: you had your first “real” haircut at a stylist; we had Christmas Eve in Cleveland and Christmas Day at home; you’ve picked up new words; you’ve tried new foods; you’ve started getting new teeth.
Last Christmas, Connor wasn’t really old enough to appreciate getting gifts; he was almost three months old, and I’m pretty sure he spent our gift-opening time laying on a blanket on the floor next to his parents while we opened gifts to each other. Well, I mean, we got him a couple of little things, but we figured he was too little to remember or even know what was going on.
This year was different.
Connor’s Grammy sent him alphabet blocks for Christmas!
This is actually kind of special, because some of my favorite memories of being around kindergarten-age revolve around playing with my alphabet blocks with my Mom. We’d make pyramids on the coffee table, out of words — she’d help with the big seven-letter word that would form the base, then we’d make a six-letter word, and a five-letter, until we finished the pyramid with an I or an A. Then we’d take turns poking out the blocks, Jenga-style (this was long before we’d even heard of Jenga), until the pyramid fell down.
There have been two big themes this month: your vocabulary and your independence.
You’ve started to mimic us more and more when we speak. Mommy still tries to teach you new signs, and the words to go with them, and it’s super cute when you actually pick them up. One day, you wanted a taste of Mommy’s ice cream, so Mommy said, “Please,” and made the sign for it. And you repeated, clear as day: “Peeeeeze!”
So Mommy gave you a bite of ice cream, then did it again: “Please?” And you reached forward and rubbed Mommy’s chest and said, “Peeeeze?”
Ah, well. You’ll figure it out.
A rare bird, this: a video blog post!
After this, Connor decided that he wanted to climb down the stairs after all. Since the basement isn’t a place where he’s generally allowed, I had my work cut out for me in keeping him interested only in the stairs (and not Daddy’s comics).
He’s not nearly as adept at climbing down as climbing up — and he’s not nearly as adept at climbing up when he’s getting slappy and tired. He bonked his nose climbing up near the end of the evening, and I had a bit of a time convincing him that he should climb up the rest of the way and get back on the proverbial horse.
(As an aside: I really have to work my pronunciation around my new braces. I hadn’t realized what that looks like. It’s a good thing I’m not any more self-conscious about having braces than I was about having bad teeth. There’s just a learning curve to working around the extra hardware.)
Nothing too crazy happened this month, but it’s a slow and steady learning curve for you. You’re learning new words, like “Mei” (our kitty’s name), and “meow,” and “ear” (although that comes out sounding like “eye”). You still say “bye” a lot, and wave, but you don’t say “hi” so much anymore. You sign “milk” now, but that’s your only new sign lately. (Edit: You also sign “diaper” now, and make some sounds along with it that sound like “dah-bah.” Probably only Mommy and Daddy would know what you’re saying, though, as with a lot of words that you’re trying out. You also know where your pee-pee is, and call it your “pay-pay.”) You understand many more words than you can articulate or sign: body parts like nose and teeth and mustache; different foods like applesauce, melts, and yogurt; and games like “Mommy’s gonna get you!” and “Gone, gone. Connor’s gone. Where’s Connor?”
Speaking of Gone-Gone, you have taken Peek-a-boo to a whole new level. You’ll run around with your crocheted baby blanket on your head — the one that Grammy’s friend Kay made for you before you were born — until you decide to reveal yourself and pull the blankie off. We have you use that blankie instead of one of your old hospital blankies because you’ll still run around with it on your head, just without the crochet holes, so you’ll actually be running around blind and bonking into furniture, which isn’t so good.
Another new game you like to play is carting Mommy and Daddy’s shoes around. Sometimes we’ll find one of our shoes in your playpen. You also like to push Mommy and Daddy into a new position, wherever we’re sitting — you’ll open and close our legs, or push us over if we’re sitting on the floor, or just move one of our legs or arms back and forth. You’re realizing that you can affect the world around you, and that’s kind of fun to see.
You’re finally getting to a point where you get frustrated when things don’t go your way, or the way you expected them to go. Mommy’s trying to find a happy medium between helping you when you get mad and letting you experience the frustration. Sometimes Mommy will help just a little when you’re not looking, then see if you notice that you don’t need to be mad anymore; either that, or Mommy will use the fine art of distraction to direct your attention elsewhere.
We didn’t go anywhere too exciting this month. Even though Mommy bought you a costume earlier this year, we didn’t actually go anywhere for Halloween; we had an invitation to go pass out candy with Harper and her parents, but you usually get tired so early that we decided to stay home, instead.
Mommy gave you your second-ever haircut this month! We left you in your highchair after dinner, got out the scissors and a damp washcloth, and went to town. It turned out pretty good! Mommy’s learning, too.
Grammy and Grandad sent you a box of Uncle Phil’s old baby clothes from the late 80’s. Some of them fit you quite nicely!
Daddy managed to rescue a few of his old baby clothes from your late Grandpa Schnuth’s attic several months back, too. Some of them got eaten by mice, but some of them made it just fine — including Daddy’s old coat from the late 70’s. You look great in it!
Your personality is getting more and more pronounced every day. You’re generally a happy guy, unless you’re overtired or your teeth are bothering you (which has been happening a lot lately — you just got your seventh tooth in, and are working on your eighth). You love to interact with people, even total strangers, but you love the one waitress at New Empire — OK, pretty much everybody at New Empire — and Mr. Kim at Korea Na, and the owner of Star of India, and the baristas at Starbucks (although we don’t go inside very often anymore). Like I mentioned earlier, you’re only just starting to get upset when things don’t go your way; you still try so hard to make things go, though, even though you’re mad. You really are a combination of your Mommy and your Daddy, in so many ways.
We love you so much. Keep being awesome.
Grammy and Granddad sent Connor a box of vintage 80’s baby clothes that used to belong to Connor’s Uncle Phil. Baby fashion shows take a while, so we still have most of a box to try on, but the red corduroy overalls fit perfectly. (The shirt underneath, not so much.)
I wasn’t sure if I would keep writing these monthly notes to you after you turned one, but Mommy’s worried that she’ll just let Life pass us by and forget to remember all the little things you do. Mommy and Daddy have a baby book for you, but sometimes we forget to write important things in it right when they happen, and Mommy has to go back to what she wrote here or other places on the Internet to remember exactly what happened when.
So, here we are. You’re 13 months old, and you’re always on the go!
You’re walking a lot more steadily than you were a month ago, when you’d just managed to get your feet under you. Mommy and Daddy bought you your first pair of shoes at Target, and you’re starting to get the hang of walking in those, too.
Lots of things have changed with your routines this month, but none of them seem to be bothering you much. You’re eating more solid food, and drinking whole milk instead of formula, per your pediatrician. Daddy started giving you solid snacks during the day instead of just bottles, and he started putting you down to nap in your crib instead of in your swing. (Not only was the motor broken, but you just didn’t fit anymore. It was almost comical.)
Mommy also modified your bedtime routine so that we don’t give you a bath every night; this way, the next time a babysitter gets to put you to bed, you won’t be thrown off if there isn’t a bathtime. Instead, we jump straight to brushing your teeth, then change your diaper and give you a massage with lavender baby oil, then get your jammies on, then book, then bottle, then bed.
You don’t say very many words — “Uh-oh” is the main one (when you drop something, which happens a lot), with the occasional “hi” and “bye” — but you do a good amount of signing. You’ll sign “more” a lot of the time (although I think you mean “want” sometimes), and you clap for “all done,” and you’ve started signing “eat” when you’re hungry. You also like to wave hello and good-bye, although sometimes you don’t get the timing quite right on those. You also wave bye-bye for bedtime — to say good-night to Daddy or Mei Kitty. Mommy showed you the sign for “milk” and some other foods, but you haven’t picked up on those yet. Mommy’s trying to think of other signs she should introduce to you (and Daddy), like “tired” (although you’re like Mommy and don’t like to admit when you’re sleepy).
Since you’re such a big boy now, you’re sitting in the big-boy car seat that Uncle Pete and Aunt Dee bought for you last year. We also bought a big-boy car seat for the other car, and Daddy had a much easier time installing that one than the first.
And since you’re not in the infant carrier anymore, we bought you a new stroller, since the old stroller was only really handy since the baby carrier snapped into the top of it. It was really large and bulky and hard to get in the trunk of the car, but the new one is much lighter and smaller.
Starbucks trips have gotten interesting since we started bringing you in without your infant carrier. You want to run around and get into everything, like the curious little boy you are. So, Mommy and Daddy have been doing a lot of drive-thru Starbucks lately, and your fan club at our favorite location hasn’t been getting to see you quite as often.
We’ve taken you other places, though! Before we got your new stroller, we took you to the Black Swamp Arts Festival in Bowling Green to meet Marlee and her parents, Eric and Jessica. We didn’t get any pictures, but you played with Marlee at Grounds For Thought, and had a great time.
We also took you to the International Festival at the mosque in Perrysburg. Mommy and Daddy enjoyed some Lebanese food and Arabic coffee while you hung out in your stroller and checked out all the people.
You’re getting to be such a big boy, but you still have quite a ways to go. Soon, though, you’ll have more words, and you’ll be able to do more things for yourself. It would be so easy to wish away these toddler days and look forward to the time when you’ll be even more interactive than you are now — but I know I would regret it. So, for now, Mommy’s trying to put down the smartphone and be actively present when she has special time alone with you.
Who’s my little squigglebug?
Here we are: you’re one year old! (Actually, you turned one about a week and a half ago; Mommy’s a little behind schedule. But better late than never!)
I seriously don’t remember the last time I got poison ivy, but I know I’ve had it at least once before. Elementary school? Who knows. At any rate, I certainly didn’t expect to get it in my own backyard.
It was about a month ago, before Connor started pulling up to standing and attempting to walk. Used to be that we’d rarely go out in our backyard, thanks to the annoying dog next door who barks at everything and everyone — even us. This particular evening, though, I decided, “To hell with the neighbor dog! We’re going outside to enjoy the weather!”
So we did. I brought a big green blanket outside and spread it on the ground, plopped Connor down on it, then plopped myself down next to him. Of course, Connor made a break for the open grass, and I was fine with that. He played with weeds and sticks and leaves and whatever else he could find, and I took pictures.
After a while, Connor got bored and made for the bushes. I wasn’t keen on him getting into the years-old mulch under the arborvitaes, or getting stuck back by the chain link fence behind the trees where I couldn’t reach him, so I followed him and scooped him up and called an end to Outside Playtime.
I didn’t realize at the time that I’d stuck my right arm through this:
Fast forward to the next morning at work, when I found myself scratching at a mild rash on my right wrist. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized what must have happened, and by then, I assumed it was too late to do much of anything but ride it out. I know now that there are other options, like steroid shots and over-the-counter topical washes and lotions — but at the time, I figured I’d just see how bad it got.
First, it cropped up on my right wrist and right shoulder, since that’s what had actually touched the ivy as I reached through it to grab Connor. Then, since I hadn’t realized at the time, I managed to spread it to my chest and my other arm and my right knee. But it kept going (I’m assuming it’s because I didn’t change the bedsheets that night or the night after), and I got little spots on my torso, as well.
The itching was fierce. Aaron suggested I take the antihistamine he had on hand for his seasonal allergies — that was a major lifesaver. Eventually, Aaron insisted on getting me something topical to put on my rash, and he picked up some Ivarest lotion. It did help, but by then the damage had been done. The rash on my wrist was oozing and disgusting, so I covered it with a giant bandaid — until it got too large to cover, after which point I just started wearing long sleeves to work in the middle of summer. The rash on my chest was red and nasty-looking, as well, so I wore blouses with rather high necklines — also not a normal summer fashion trend for me.
It took three weeks for my rashes to completely clear up, and I still have pinkish spots in places — hopefully it’s just new skin, and not actual scarring.
So, how is it that we hadn’t noticed until now that we have poison ivy growing in the backyard?
Truth is, we had.
When we had our tree trimmed a couple years ago, the tech mentioned to Aaron that a particular vine growing up our tree was poison ivy. Since we rarely used the backyard, and hadn’t planned to have any kids, and since Aaron is one of the few percent of the population who isn’t allergic to poison ivy, we took little heed.
After the fact, Aaron sprayed all the ivy and other weeds with extra-strength weed killer, and that seems to be taking care of the problem… for now. As for me, I started playing with Connor exclusively in the front yard, and changed the plans for Connor’s birthday party to be indoors, just in case someone were to find some poison ivy that’s not quite dead.
Poison Ivy – 1, Diana – 0.