Just Our Little Guy

Oh boy, this one is going to be a long one, because I wrote half of it and then stopped writing it for a couple months. A couple months in baby time is, of course, like a hundred years, so there's a lot to go over. I really gotta get more timely about these.

One year has come and gone for baby G. At this point, he's over 14 months old. When do I have to stop calling him that, anyway? Maybe when he eventually uses his words to tell me to stop it. Am I a bad father for not writing a Happy Birthday blog? I'd better do that now, huh? The birthday festivities were fun. Let me tell you about them, for the record. A baby's first birthday is his most important, you know (this is patently untrue).

We were lucky to have almost all our closest family there. My parents and sister (but not my brother-in-law--he was missed) flew in and stayed at our place for a few days leading up to it. We all drove down to a brewpub and met with my wife's parents, sister, and brother-in-law (who also have a baby, two months younger than him). The brewpub was my wife's idea, to appease all the beer-lovers, and it worked perfectly.

We fed him snacks and bits of our food all evening, and towards the end of the meal we brought out a cupcake with a single candle and sang him The Song. With the candle blown out, we waited expectantly for him to grab the cupcake in his fist and cram it... but he kind of didn't. I think he was a bit tired by that point and also stuffed with tasty snacks so he only picked at it and ate a few chunks. Too bad, I was hoping for a big display. Oh well, there's always next year, when he will certainly make a gigantic mess.

Well, as it turns out, we had a second birthday party for him a few days later, this one with close friends (not family). This was in the middle of the day and we gave him another shot at a cupcake. This time he destroyed it. He grabbed it with both hands and shoved it in his mouth and inhaled over the course of a few minutes, and that was the end of that.

His growth and development have changed from those early months. The big, physical changes aren't happening as much. It's a lot of mental growth and motor control, and it comes in spurts. There were a few months, just around his first birthday, when things weren't changing much, but in the last month he's started to develop in all kinds of cool ways that are a joy to interact with.

Back to work

I guess one of the biggest changes with the baby isn't really with the baby at all, but with me going back to work from parental leave. Over the course of my leave, his morning schedule changed dramatically, so my new morning schedule for work also had to change accordingly. Before, I would get him up early, change him, feed him, and spend a bit of time with him, then put him down for a nap by 8 AM when I leave for work.

Now he sleeps from 8 PM to 8 AM. Well, I get him up a few minutes early, change his diaper, start feeding him, and then hand him off to my wife and head off to work. In the evening, I get home in time to spend up to an hour with him, then start his bedtime routine. It's really not a lot of time with him, and that makes me sad. But I also commute an hour each way to work, and I don't see that improving anytime soon, so this is what I have to live with.

At least I'm the first thing he sees every morning and the last thing he sees every night. It's important to me that he grow up with a lot of memories of me and he feels like I'm around for him. Work gets in the way of that, and my wife has the vast majority of the time taking care of him, so I try to take him as much of the weekend as possible (Dadurday and Praise-the-Sunday). We still have our own way of feeding and going down for naps and playing while he's awake, and I can tell he's attached to me, so I feel good.

Feeding time

The biggest change in eating since the last time I wrote is that, once he turned one year old, he got to switch from formula to whole milk. You better believe I made the switch as soon as possible, because making fresh formula every couple days was a real pain. Now we just get a couple gallons a week, and it's great.

Even better, he's finally learned enough about how tilting a cup works that we can just hand him his sippy cup full of milk, and he drinks it all himself. We went through a phase where, when he was done drinking, he'd just chuck it on the floor. We fixed that by just not giving it back to him if he threw it.

As a funny by-product of learning to drink by himself is that sometimes he takes other objects that look to varying degrees like a cup or glass and tries to drink from them. This is absolutely hilarious to me. The other day he took a piggy bank with the lid off and tried to chug out of it. Heads up, baby, nothing's coming out of there. Sorry, man.

Aside from that, he still eats a big variety of food, a good bit of it being more or less adult food. That hasn't changed much overall.

What's the point

One of my favorite things he started doing around 13 months old is pointing. His cousin S was already pointing at everything in sight, and it was hilarious. Now baby G points at basically everything, and it's real purposeful, you know? It either means "I want to go there" or "Tell me what that thing is" or "I want to eat that". Just this morning he pointed at all the things on my t-shirt, and I named them as he switched back and forth between them. It's really obvious he's starting to soak up words.

Every once in a while, we'll get the elusive double point, using both hands. I don't really know what that means, but it looks even funnier than the single point.

He's picked up some bad habits, too. Sometimes he hits us when he's playing, so we have to stop him and redirect his hitting to rubbing. We tell him to be gentle with people. He's getting it, a bit at a time. I saw him trying (unsuccessfully) to grab the dog's tail. I knew that day was coming, oh yeah. We just have to be vigilant and tell him not to do those things. Redirecting to alternatives helps a lot.

The words he knows

One of the most exciting changes is that the rudiments of communication have started to emerge. He's started to understand certain words or phrases. Since he was very young I was always asking him to give me his arms for his sleeves when dressing him, and at this point he knows the drill well enough to offer them without too much complaint. Even better, if I need one arm for the sleeve and he's got a toy in that hand, he'll pass it to the other hand and offer the arm. Signs of real human intelligence! It's exciting!

Combined with pointing, he's really latched on to the idea that images or objects have names, and even though he can't say them yet, he's fascinated that we have words for them. A measurable amount of my play time with him is spent with him pointing at one thing after another--on the pages of books, things in real life, designs on t-shirts, magnets on the fridge... everything!--and saying "That's a pumpkin. That's a bat. That's a star. That's a robot." It goes on and on.

Now that he knows what pointing is, we can ask him, "Can you point at the robot?" or "Can you point at the lizard?" and he does! I'm not even talking all that slowly. I enunciate "point" and "robot", but it's more or less conversational. It blows my mind that he can pick out the words and connect them with an action and perform it. If you think about it, it's a lot to string together for someone who can't even walk yet.

We've been working with him on other simple actions, too. "Can you touch daddy's ear?" If he's holding a toy: "Can you put it on your head?" He knows ear, eye, nose, and mouth. He can identify our dogs, Poppy and Laika, and our kitty. He knows who mommy and daddy are. He can identify the lizard and the spider (a cool tarantula) that we have.

Of course, sometimes he gets stuff wrong. I asked him to touch my ear, and he touched my nose. So I pointed to my ear and said, "that's daddy's ear." And then asked him again, and he got it right. Maybe he was just imitating, but he's done stuff like that a few times, and I think he's genuinely learning.

He's gotten pretty good at waving. If you say "hi!" to him, and/or wave at him, there's a good chance he'll smile and wave back. That's really cute every time. People love communicating with a baby. Sometimes if he just sees you come into the room he waves.

You know, I have relatively little interest in other kids in general. Sure, if they're close friends or family, it's different, but if a child I don't know well tries to play games with me or something, I tolerate it, but no more. But I'll sit there for half an hour straight and name things for baby G, and the both of us will be completely enraptured. When it's him, I suddenly don't care about how much time I'm spending. I don't really get bored. It takes no effort at all. It's gotta be biological, the way I'm sucked in.

Play time

With his increased communication, he's also added new ways he plays. Most of his play time is still spent with him wandering around the house with some toy or kitchen utensil in his hand, standing against different furniture and waving the toy around. That's a behavior he picked up at some point, by the way: carrying things in his hand while he crawls. But when I am actively playing with him, he's started to get more interactive.

We've been trying to show him about putting things into other things, like putting a ball into a bin. He's good at taking them out, but he either doesn't want to or hasn't made the connection about dropping things into containers. Sometimes he'll put his hand with a toy into the box, but just takes it back out without letting go.

One cool thing is he's finally learned how to give something to someone else. Before that, he would at most hold something out to you to show it, but would never give it. Now I can say, "can I have it?" and he's started putting it in my hand. It's really cool, and he seems to like doing it, too.

His most recent goofy, baffling behavior is doing a sort of headstand (but with his legs still on the ground, of course), and looking around upside down. I swear he's doing it for attention... and it works. It's hilarious. I sometimes pick up his legs and help complete the somersault, which he loves. He'll lie on his back afterwards and kick his little legs while laughing... then get up and do the headstand again (of course).

About once a week we Skype with my parents and grandparents. When he was younger, this was a one-way interaction: he'd play with his toys on the floor and they'd coo over him on camera and try to get his attention. It was purely for their benefit, to see the cute baby. But that's changing: now he plays with my parents on the camera, too! For example, peekaboo is a big hit, and when they asked him to point at the lizard, he understood them and did it! It shouldn't really be surprising; after all, he's a human being, just like me, but I'm so used to dogs, who need that physical presence to make the connection, that it's really cool to witness.


No, he's not, but he's really close. At this point he can walk competently while holding one hand. He loves doing this, too. He'll walk this way and that across the house multiple times before finally deciding he wants to check out something else.

He figured out how to completely use his walker, too; before he would only scoot himself backwards and turn a bit. Now he goes in all directions, anywhere he wants to go [within the confines of the kitchen, since we have carpeting].

I've also seen him start standing without support, though only for at most 1 second at a time. Still, it means his balance is improving. Before, any time he let go of support, he'd fall right down.

I'm estimating that he'll be taking full, unassisted steps within the next 2 weeks. Things are going to get wild after that.


One addition to the bedtime routine is I now brush his teeth every night. Just a tiny dab of toothpaste, and it's more to establish the routine than actually clean the teeth. He's really not that cooperative, but he sort of tolerates it with some interest.

Mostly, he stands or sits or crawls around, and I contort my body, trying to get a good angle to scrub at his little teeth. His motivations and mine are totally unaligned: he wants to suck all the toothpaste off the brush and blow bubbles and stuff; I want to clean his teeth and massage his gums a bit (I imagine that feels good when he's teething. So, it's a struggle, but he's also really cute when he makes little noises and little faces while I'm doing it.

Speaking of teeth, he now has twelve in total. Four incisors and two bicuspids, both on top and on bottom. The bicuspids are still emerging. They're pretty big, and I imagine they are irritating him at times. Poor guy.

We still read a bedtime story every night just before bed. It's his time to wind down with us, and we like it. His sleeping, as it always has been, is magnificent. I cannot remember the last time one of us had to wake up during the night to attend to him for any reason. It's been at least 6 months, maybe 8. Like I said, can't remember. I attribute it in part to his nature and in part to our rigorous sleep training from day one.

And when my wife and I go to bed later in the night, we always turn on the fancy baby video monitor and look at him sleeping and coo over him and call him "just our little guy", because that's what he is.


Appietizer said...

Ugh this is too cute. We need to skype with you sometime! I miss my little nephew :(

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