Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Month 11

Month 11: The month of walking and pointing.

Wesley has really become a walker this month. He has gone from taking a few steps to now walking as his primary means of locomotion. Once in a while I'll be across the room and know he's going to come over to me, and it catches me by suprise that he stands up and walks over to me. I sometimes forget he is walking so well. The fanfare of walking has mostly passed for Wesley. He no longer beams at his accomplishment, but takes walking as a normal activity (unless he's going really far and fast, with two objects in his hands, or if he's being silly, then it still tickles him). By the end of the month Wes sometimes prefers to walk without his walker when out and about.

We try to go on a couple of walks with his walker each day. He has taken to pushing it with one hand quite a bit. We usually only walk a block or a block and a half, and it takes about 30-45 minutes. In the middle of the month we were able to pick him up and walk him maybe 7 paces past things we didn't want him touching on the walk, but by the end of the month, he'll just turn around and walk back! His confidence and steadiness have increased so much. He has so much energy that these walks are essential or else he has a very difficult time getting to sleep.

His walking ability has developed so rapidly...

This boy loves to point. It is amazing how much more we are able to communicate with Wesley now that he can point to things. He is now able to let us know exactly what he's looking at, what object he wants, what sights delight him, what parts of the story he is studying. Then he looks at us to share his thought or to inquire about something unfamiliar. It helps alleviate some frustration because he can point to the water jug or his cup if he's thirsty.

He regularly says "ma-ma" to me when he needs me or is coming to find me from a different room. He loves to talk into his toy microphone and into anything that echoes. I love how Wes vocalizes his thoughts more intelligibly now. If Casey leaves the room he'll say "da da . . .and then a long babbling sentence about him". Sometimes these sentences are concerned, sometimes they are forcefully expressed thoughts, sometimes they're just little sweet baby musings. He's making commentary on situations, and I can understand more clearly the kind of thing he's saying as he thinks outloud to himself.

Also, he says a very chesty "woof" when he sees dogs and has a special high pitched "ee-ow" sound he makes when he sees pictures of cats.

Wesley learned to play the harmonica this month! His blowing skills have increased and so he can suck in and blow out while playing the harmonica. He LOVES his keyboard. He plays the keys and then says a few lines into his microphone, then plays the keys some more, back and forth. He likes to talk into the mic and then he offers the mic to one of us to say a few words. He continues to love drums. He continues to dance to music when he hears it, and we've caught him singing...that is, baby talking distinctly to the rhythm of a song which is playing.

We have a little social butterfly on our hands. When we first met Louis, Wesley was nervous about interacting with him, and about being with strange people. Now, he totally loves playing with other kids and smiling at other adults. We try to somewhat limit the "playing with other kids" some because we don't want him sick all the time, but if he had his way he'd follow all the big kids and explore all of his peers. As soon as he sees other kids he wants to walk or crawl over to them.

In public he is continually delighting people with his smile, then he turns away and looks back again and flashes them more smiles, gets delighted and starts laughing. It is special to feel like we're spreading joy to strangers in the grocery store, on the street, or anywhere. Some people catch his fancy and he reeeally loves to look at them. At first they like the attention, then they get a little uncomfortable and confused as to why he is so delighted by the mere sight of them.

Wesley does things because he thinks they're funny. It's neat to see his sense of humor developing. If there is an adult conversation going on and everyone starts laughing, Wes will laugh, too. He is clearly picking up on more social cues. And, laughing with others is just plain fun.

He starts games with us which he thinks are funny, other than chase, which continues to be a favorite. An example is putting a particular little ball in our mouth so that we'll pop it out. Or he brings over a pair of glasses with silly shut eyes pictured on them. He thinks the glasses are hilarious.

Wesley is able to chew a lot of food now without choking. He is moving away from mushy foods to now eating primarly finger foods. Some items still have to be purreed or seriously mashed, but he still eats them with his hands (making a serious mess) or uses his spoon (depending upon his mood. He is getting pretty good at it, with some assistance to scoop the food on). He is eating three solid meals a day.

Other Delights
Coloring: Wesley colored with crayons for the first time successfully.

Drinking from a Straw: Of course he has good suction, but for some reason this one surprised me.

Drinking from a cup: Wes can hold his cup on his own and drink from it without spilling on himself too much. However, setting down the cup is not a concept he yet understands and he spills every time. He points to the water jug during his meals when he gets thirsty.

Sweeping & Watering: Wes had been pushing our big broom back and forth, so we gave him a tiny hand broom. He went around the house sweeping for 45 minutes. He swept around the edges of all the furniture and under the chairs (do we even sweep under the chairs?) and was very focused the whole time. He repeated the activity that evening with equal vigor.

One of my favorite Wesley moments was when we were at the garden. He picked up the extra hose we let him play with while we water. He took the hose, dragged it over to our plot, and gingerly brought it to the base of the tomato plants. He then proceeded to water back and forth over the top of the kale like we do. Casey and I both looked at eachother in surprise. He had noticed the way in which we water the different plants and was copying us. It was precious.

Wrestling: Wesley loves to wrestle. He now knows how to instigate wrestling matches. If we're on the floor he pounces on our face (particularly going for the nose) or bites our ankle or something in addition to jumping on us. Then the wrestling and tickling begins. It's great to hear his squeals of laughter.

Reading: Wesley adores having books read to him. It is one of his primary activities.

Gram & Grandpa P's Visit
Wesley's Gram & Grandpa P visited for the first two weeks of the month. Though Wesley fell sick the day they arrived, we had a great visit and it was a treat to spend time with them.

Wesley enjoys Skyping with them and thinks they are pretty entertaining on the computer, but live in person was even better. He thought they were good fun. It is very special to see how much Wesley enjoys his grandparents, and to witness the love they have for him.

They witnessed Wesley working on his balance and saw the early days of walking. He was just beginning the transition from crawling to standing and walking. He started regularly standing up without pulling up on any object when they were there (oh what an applause he got when he did that!). Wes became much steadier on his feet during their visit.

Teeth: Wes also cut two new teeth on the top. He now has six teeth.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

First Drawing

This week we had our first real coloring session. Last month Wes was only interested in eating the crayons and couldn't have been less interested in watching me color on the paper. This month he participated in drawing, choosing crayons, and tapping the crayons together. He also did taste them.

My animal drawing skills are a bit rusty--my dog looked like rabbit. I imagine they will improve with practice.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Wesley loves books.
Like, he is kind of obsessed with books right now.

He has always enjoyed being read to, has had books that he preferred over others. His favorite books have changed throughout the months from his book of black and white patterns, to The Little Penguin book which was an early favorite due to its finger puppet which wiggles in each scene, to Playtime Peekaboo where he could open the flaps of the book, to Crunching Munching Caterpiller which he liked to mimic the crunching noise and he liked the bzzzzz of the bumble bee, to Mother Goose and some others.

In the last two weeks, though, his love of books has gone to a new level. I find myself having read 10 books or more by 9am. Within his assortment, he has a favorite few which he always picks out for us to read, then we branch out. He takes them off his shelf, flips through them a bit on his own and then either looks at us for help or starts whining and looking at us with the clear message of "please read this to me". Sometimes he looks through them on his own for extended periods of time.

As soon as we set him down in the morning, he crawls to his bookshelf in the bedroom and we read a book before leaving the room. Then we go to the living room and he takes his books off the shelf and we start our morning pre-breakfast reading session (30-45 minutes).

He'll often pick up a book and walk over to us. Then he crawls up into our laps and settles in. It melts my heart. I love how he crawls into my lap for storytime.

He likes to point to his favorite parts of the book. I think his new love of books may be closely related to his new love of pointing. He has certain sound effects he makes for his favorite books (bzzzz and crunching noises for a bee and a crunching munching caterpiller, and a certain grunting/woofing noise he does for dogs). He also likes to point at his favorite things in each book, often a dog or a cat. He will point at objects when requested (such as a duck, quack quack) but we try not to 'test' him in this way too much.

We got some new books yesterday to expand the collection. One of them is about the ocean and features a page with sea turtles. Last night I pointed to the sea turtles in the book and then pointed to his light-up sea turtle toy. Tonight when I read the book, as soon as I turned to the turtle page, he started looking around the room, found his turtle, pointed at it repeatedly, and then pointed to the turtles in the book. He continually suprises me.

He has pages in his book that he thinks are funny (a woman's surpised face at finding a gorilla in her bedroom, etc) that he likes to smile or laugh at and he has pages which he finds a little worrisome (a concerned raccoon watching a trash can roll down the hill).

It's as if his attention span went from somewhat short to extremely long overnight. He can focus on books for 20+ minutes at a time, for 5-7 books at a time. Yesterday we read for the first 45 minutes straight upon waking. Sometimes he likes to be standing next to us while we're reading, sometimes he'll sit still for that long.

He often likes to flip the books closed to look at the front cover while we are reading it, then he wants us to continue on. I think he's keeping track of which book we're reading so he can choose it later. He really knows his books. In Mother Goose as soon as we turn the page he recognizes if it's one that is rhythmic because he starts bopping up and down (his dancing) before we even start reading the words. As soon as he sees the Pat-A-Cake page he starts clapping. He has certain ones he flips past because he thinks they're boring.

He's now able to help turn thin-paged books without ripping them. He takes his page books off his shelf and looks through them on his own, too, without ripping the pages.

It's wonderful. And a little wild. A few evenings ago Casey and I read 10 books in a row before bedtime, all the while Wesley is climbing all over our laps and looking at the book while we read. It's amazing because for a long time Wesley had very little "rest time" during the day. He was always moving. Now, with his reading, he has a lot of engaged rest time. It's a wonderful new development.

It is awesome to watch Wesley further develop in his love of books. It is a special way to share time with him--very close, very connected, and now very interactive.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

First Harvest

Our garden is thriving. We have been eating as much spring mix lettuce as we want to and enlisting others to do the same. It makes me so happy. I can hardly believe that it's doing so well.

Our first harvest

One interesting thing about eating food fresh from a garden is that everything tastes better. I hadn't had spring mix from a garden before--only heads of lettuce. I generally buy spring mix at the grocery, but I hadn't thought about the way in which it would be better from the garden. The leaves are lighter, more delicate. They sort of melt in your mouth. Far superior to any I've had from the store. Also, I pick our baby kale and eat it straight--it's not tough, it doesn't taste over vitaminy.

It had been raining all last week so we didn't check on the garden for five (ish) days. We were expecting to potentially see a garden disaster when we finally went to check on it, but instead we found this...

Tomorrow morning I am going to harvest a bunch of kale to puree for Wes. He loves kale.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Couch Climbing

This evening Wesley finally discovered how to climb the couch. We have been watching him get closer for quite some time, but when he tried a new strategy tonight, it paid off. He was getting really close by swinging his leg up sideways and trying to get traction to pull himself up the rest of the way. I figured it'd be a few weeks, or maybe until he grew another inch.

However, this evening he started pushing the cushions up and looking underneath them. BINGO. He pushed the cushion up enough to crawl under it while holding it up with his hands. Then he shimmied to the side cushions and was up. He has repeated the method several times now, so I think it's embedded. So far he has been very careful and able to get himself back off the couch without assistance, but I saw him eyeing the end table as a potential place to crawl onto from the couch...This baby is a climber.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Our Walk

I often feel like the best way to capture a sense of Wesley is to show him in sequential photos. Still shots catch his expressions and some of his action, but they miss so much of his activity. This was our walk from our house (in the background of photo one) down the block to the park. Note Wesley pointing at the neighbors (photo two) and then later pointing at the palm tree before going to further investigate it. I love our walks.


Walking is good fun. Wesley pushes his walker with confidence and purpose now. He stops briefly along his way to investigate or point at the highlights (palm trees, nice stones, flowers), but for the most part he readily returns to his walker and presses onward.

Wes is a very careful new walker. He has yet to take a tumble when walking. He has always been able to catch himself with his hands. He takes steps anytime he lets go of a piece of furniture. Or, much of the time, if he's in the middle of the room he stands himself up and walks maybe five steps, squats down and catches himself, and then stands back up to continue on his way. He is still crawling much of the time, especially for speed, but he spends a lot of time walking or standing now. And, he loves to push his walker and his trike...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Natural Teething Solutions

Tooth #5 just came in. Wesley has a rough time with teething. He lets us know he's uncomfortable with extreme fussiness, he wakes often during the night, and whines during his sleep. I know every baby is different, but Wes definetely needs help when teething. We have found a mix of natural teething solutions that help successfully ease his suffering. They are listed in order of what I consider most helpful.

The Frozen Washcloth
When he's teething, we keep a few frozen washcloths in the freezer ready for those obviously uncomfortable times. Often it is an instant miracle cure. It's nice because there are no plastics involved. Simply take a washcloth (preferably an undyed cotton one--we use baby washcloths), run it under the faucet, and stick it in the freezer. It takes about 15 minutes to adequately freeze. I like to let it thaw a couple minutes before giving it to him as it can become very stiff.

Sometimes his teeth hurt so badly he won't nurse without his frozen washcloth. He alternates back and forth between eating and sucking on the washcloth until he is done. I was happy to discover this solution because it was bad news when he was hurting, hungry, and couldn't nurse to sleep.

The Amber Teething Necklace
Wesley's amber necklace is beautiful, made of small amber beads.The baby doesn't actually teethe on the necklace, but wears it around his neck, and the resin in the amber, when warmed by the skin, has an anti-inflammatory effect. Amber has been used for centuries in Europe as a teething and anti-inflammatory solution.

During Wesley's first bought of teething, I was willing to try anything, so I bought a necklace to see if it worked. I was very skeptical at first, hesitant to be convinced, but after five teething teeth, I am willing to say that it works for us. After a day of wearing it, his symptoms dramatically decrease. Like he goes from a frozen washcloth-dependent, sad little baby who nurses all night long to pretty much normal again. When I've taken it off (having misplaced it on multiple occasions), within a day or so, the symptoms return full force. So, we are pleased with the necklace and will continue to use it when he is teething. We take it off when he sleeps for safety. When he wears his necklace during the day, the nights seem to go more smoothly.

The Mesh Feeder
Once Wesley was 6 months old (so, after his first two teeth were in) and was eating solid foods, we put his frozen pureed food cubes into a mesh feeder so he could soothe his gums and eat at the same time. I had frozen puree cubes on hand, but some people who pump use frozen breast milk with success.

The mesh feeder only lets small pieces of food through so we don't have to worry about choking. Now that he prefers mostly finger foods, he teeths on the food in the mesh bag, but we also give him finger food on his tray to keep him happy as he eats. We have the Sassy Teething Feeder.

Wooden Objects
Wesley's small wooden blocks and wooden rattles make for good teethers, too. He likes a variety of textures when he is teething. We have this rattle by Haba and basic unfinished wooden blocks. Wooden objects are good alternatives to offer when he tries to chew on our wooden furniture.

Natural Rubber Pacifier
Wes didn't use a pacifier when he was younger, so we give him a natural rubber pacifier when he is teething. Rather than suck on it, he bites and chews on it like a teether. I think this solution only works if the baby isn't accustomed to sucking on a pacifier. I think that the natural rubber is better than the plastic or silicone alternatives.

Tea: I haven't been able to tell that this has any effect, but I drink camomile tea when he is teething because some people say it helps, because I like chamomile tea, and because I figure it can't hurt.
Chamomilla Homeopathy: Occasionally we'll give Wes some Chamomilla Homeopathy. He loves taking the drops. The drops at least temporarily distract him from his fussing and may help for a little while (?). I am not sure if the short term effect of shifting his mood is because it's such a yummy, fun experience or if it's the remedy working. It has not been a significant help for us, but helps diffuse a fussy situation and may help for a few hours?

Like many babies, when teething Wesley needs more snuggles and is more prone to waking or to wanting his mommy nearby. The above solutions help us all stay more comfortable when he's having teething troubles. I had not anticipated how much teething there would be in babyhood. There are a lot of teeth to come in!