Friday, December 24, 2010

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Hang a shining star upon the highest bough...

Wherever you are, whatever you believe, may the new year bring peace, health, and happiness to you and yours.

Monday, December 20, 2010

What's In A Name - Part III

Naming in adoption can get tricky. I've already devoted two posts to it in the past.

What isn't so tricky is all of the loving little nicknames we've given Dylan. It seems like with each new phase, he earns some silly new moniker. Here are the ones that come to mind:

Golden Nose, because he came out of the womb with this unusual gleam. (We subsequently learned that it was caused teeny-tiny pimples that disappeared not long after we brought him home.) We saw it as a sign of his inner radiance ;).

Bright Eyed Boy - As soon as Dylan could open his eyes, they became his most prominent feature. There is just something so magical about his deep, dark eyes and the way they sparkle.

Burrito Baby - Once we mastered the swaddle and our kid slept a lot better, we became huge fans of The Happiest Baby on the Block. (Can't you just tell what he's thinking in the photo below? "I want my Binky!" Well, have no fear: he often earned another, related nickname: Baby Houdini.)

Cobra - Our son always seemed to enjoy his "tummy time." From very early, it seemed to us that he had unusal strength in his upper body, and at just a few months old, he began extending his arms, arching his back, and posing in this yoga pose.

Inchie - From Cobra, Dylan moved fairly quickly on to inchworming. It was his fist self-directed, forward motion and it was adorable.

Bozo - Our boy was born with quite a lot of lovely, dark straight hair. That grew. But it grew in a strange pattern, first just in tight curls at the top of his head, and one goofy lock on the side of his head. Since that tuft would get fluffy, he of course drew references to a certian clown.

The Hurdler - Since he's been able to sit on his own, Dylan has surprised us with the poses he finds comfortable. One of his favorites is to jut one leg out straight in front of him and to tuck the other behind himself. Of course, his former track star daddy immediately recognized that his boy is already practicing to make it over the high hurdles.

Butterstein - So, one day we fed Dylan some green beans bathed in butter. That day, he was especially interested in his hair, which by that time had grown out to a fairly uniform length and gentle wave. Naturally, he put his greasy fingers into his coif and the result was a 'do reminescent of Albert Einstein. Since then, he's had many crazy hair days, caused by things like sleep, rolling on the floor, and applying yogurt to his locks, but we always refer to the original gel.

(Photo taken by Auntie Lisa)

Of late, now that he's toddling and super curious, I've taken to calling him Destructo. No explanation necessary. Of course, we're attempting interference rather than snapping photos whenever he's earning that name...

Last by not least, no matter what stage he's in, or how old he gets, I know that Dylan will always and forever be my precious, special boy.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Look Who's Walking Now!

Dylan First Steps

Since I can't get my act together to create a traditional "baby book," I've intended to use this space to chronicle Dylan's development. Alas, you all see how well - or poorly - I've done with that. It turns out that blogging regularly is one of the things, along with exercise and a social life, that have been squeezed out of my life by the full-time work/parenting combo.

But I've caught a few moments now and want to share what I can.
Obviously, the big news is that just a few days before his 14th month, Dylan began walking, and this morning for the first time, I noticed that he seems to prefer getting around on two legs rather than on four limbs. (We'll see if that's still true this evening when he's tired.)

Truthfully, I'm surprised that it's taken our little guy so long to stand up and get going. I haven't been worried about him; I know that all kids develop differently, and that though some parents can boast that their kids were toddling around at nine months, there was not yet any cause for concern with our boy. What I didn't expect was that he'd be inchworming (at eight months), then bear walking (at nine months), then speed crawling (at ten months), then cruising (at eleven months), then jamming around the house with his walking toys (since around his first birthday), and then "walkin' with the one-finger assist" (since shortly after that) for so long. I kept thinking he was so close to taking his first independent steps, but then another week would go by.

For a couple of weeks now, his cruising has advanced to include a few shuffling steps between couch and ottoman, for instance. And more and more, he'd stand up on his own, pick things up, throwing balls, etc. without any locomotion. But finally, the other night, we had bonafide first steps...and (in an incredible stroke of good luck, since it's rare) I had my iPh*ne with me.
I was in the living room, M. and Dylan were in our bedroom. M. shouted, "Hon, come look at this!" But I didn't have to go anywhere, because into the living room toddled my little boy.

In one hand, he was holding a wooden flute M. had picked up in Ecuador that we'd just given to him to distract him from other items he was going after in the bedroom. In the other, he was holding his precious Puppy. I think he wanted to show me the flute, but he wasn't willing to put his lovey down. Dylan could crawl very easily with an item in one hand, but carrying TWO things made getting up and walking a necessity. So up he went and off he went.

The vid is just moments after I applauded his accomplishment and encouraged him to show his daddy the flute. Who knows how far he would've gone if we all hadn't gotten so excited about it!

Since then, he's had several "repeat performances," going a bit further and not requiring two hands full, but he definitely still showed a preference for the speed and accuracy of crawling. But after this morning, I suspect we've truly entered a new phase: life with a toddler.

When I've mentioned this to others, they all get a sympathetic look in their eyes and say something akin to "oh, I hope you've baby proofed" or "he'll really keep you on your toes now." Uh-ooh.

Yes, the last couple of months, as Dylan's mobility and determination have increased, have been a lot more challenging. Long gone are the days when we could strap him into his bouncy seat and clean the garage while he contentedly fiddled with a toy. He now requires constant, vigilant supervision. And it's exhausting. Will it get even harder?

But he's also so much fun now.

He understand so much of what we say, sometimes it startles me. How did Dylan know what I meant when I suggested he smell a blooming rose? I'd never done it before. Then I remembered that Paul smells the flowers in his "Pat the Bunny" book. It's so cool that now I can say, "go get your brush" and he'll DO it!

Dylan's comprehension is impressive to me, but he still hasn't articulated much. He babbles all the time, and its fun to hear him mimic the tone or cadence of our voices. He's insisted that a dog says "arff! arff!" for months now, and recently he's learned that a dinosaur says "rrrrhhhrr!!" Still, it's rare we'll hear him say something intelligible. Everyone agrees, however, that he has uttered his first, easily-understood and consistently applied word: "BALL!" Usually followed by "ball! ball! ball!!!"

Now he is really playing - stacking blocks, moving cars around, throwing (and catching!) balls of various sizes, opening and closing doors to play peak-a-boo, "diapering" his stuffed gorilla. He is still a bibliophile, pulling book after book from his shelf. Often, he'll spread one out on the floor in front of himself and flip through the pages, pointing at things and making sure we notice them. Not infrequently, he'll find something on a page and we'll hear "arff! arff!" or "ball!" and sure enough, he's "reading."

For quite awhile, he was a terror on the changing table, wiggling and squirming so much I feared he'd fall off. Now I can ask him to help, and he (usually) lifts appropriate body parts at the right times, even offering a foot to go into a pant leg and such.

Dylan has always loved bathtime, and as he gets older, his fun in the tub just seems to increase. He's got a few favorite toys that he scoots around and splashes with, but he gets by far the most enjoyment when we let the cup pour into the water or onto him from higher and higher.

Our boy is now not just a walker, he's a climber. Though (thankfully!) I haven't seen it myself, I received a report from the park that he climbs all the way up the big slide ladder, fusses and pouts for awhile at the top, and then finally decides the easiest way down is plopping on his bottom, letting go, and woshing down the slide. Oh, my!

I've always thought Dylan was a pretty good eater, and maybe he still is, comparatively. But the list of finger foods that make it into his mouth rather than getting thrown off his tray and onto the floor is shrinking and concerningly scares of vegetables. His favorites right now: yogurt, grapes, apple, tofu, and J*oe's O's. He will no longer eat cheese (unless its melted on pizza) or peas. Increasingly, he's interested in what's on our plates and will fuss until we offer him some, only then to send it flying over board. For awhile, I took some pride in the balanced, healthy "meals" my son ate because they focused on whole-grains and veggies. Now I happy if he'll just eat the same stuff his folks do.

As with his eating, Dylan's sleeping pattern seems to go through phases. Napping is kind of a crap shoot these days. Fortunately, he continues to be a very good sleeper at night, usually going down around 8:30 p.m. and rarely peeping until around 6:30 a.m. or even later. In the last week or so, he's been doing something I find so adorable: he loves this little plastic music maker some of my friends from work gave him. You press a button, lights flash, and it plays one of a half-dozen or so simple, classical tunes such as Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. Well, one day M. put it in Dylan's crib with him for a nap, and he played with it quietly until he fell asleep. Now, rather than being awoken ourselves with some whining and the beginnings of tears to let us know he's up, some lovely little electronic tunes will come floating down the hallway from the boy's room. If we're lucky - like we were this weekend - we can extend our snoozing for twenty or so minutes while he continues to make his music.

At other times in the day, when he plays his music box or he hears music from some other source, he'll do a little dance. When he's seated, its waving his arms and moving his feet around. When he's standing, he puts his whole little body into it. My favorite is when he dances while I'm holding him and we can boop joyfully around together. The kid has more rhythm than I do!

For awhile, I was a bit disappointed because part of Dylan's growing independence seemed to include a lack of interest in snuggling. Almost as soon as he'd finished his bottle (which is down to just three times a day and should be even less), he'd want to be up and playing or pointing sleepily to his bed. Sure, I'd give him lots of kisses and hugs anyway, but often he'd just push me away...which is a hard thing for a momma to take! Somthing has change this week, however, and I hope it's more than just a phase. He offers lots of hugs, has snuggled with us in bed in the mornings, and is full of kisses.

There is just something about slobbery little smacks that makes my world a better place.