Monday, July 25, 2011

Quack Quack

Wesley enjoys touring around the house and balcony with his duck-on-a-string. Wes frequently stops, picks Duck up, laugh and smiles, and give Duck a hug and kiss. Then they continue on their way.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

12 Months

This was a month of animal sounds and new words, gaining speed, and increased associations.

We have cut back some on books this month due to Wesley's passion for flashcards. Wes loves getting out flashcards and going through them with us. This is largely how he learned all of his animal sounds. He loves to exclaim over animals in books, making their noises while pointing.

chicken: "bok-bok"
Lion: "rooaaar" (he does such a great, dramatic lion roar, very throaty)
dog: "woof" everytime he sees a dog
cat: "ee-aah" very high pitched
snake: "sssss"
bee: "bmmmmmm"
elephant: hard to translate, very cute based on "bra-loooooo" noise from a book he has
horse: any number of noises while shaking his head back and forth for the whinney.
Roaring at the lion
Wesley has gotten even more talkative with his babbling sentences, also he has added some words.

Mommy: Ma-ma
Daddy: da-da
Grandpa: ga-pa (?) it sounded just like grandpa and he did it a bunch of times while pointing to Grandpa Don. He hasn't made the noises in any other context

The below words he says (generally while pointing) every time he sees the object. He is so excited to point at them and say his word:
ball: "bah"
bird: "bih"
bike: "buh" (very similar to bird)
airplane/car/truck sound effct: "vrrrrrmmm"

Wesley loves to push around his cars and go "vrrrrrrr" like a motor. He also takes the toy airplane that Casey carved for him and flies it through the air while making the same sound effect.

One day when we were on a walk, Wesley started going "vrrrrrrrm" continually. I wasn't sure what was going on until I noticed that he was looking intently at a plane that was flying very high overhead.

I must also mention Wesley's new shockingly loud voice. Sometimes he uses it when he's excited about something. Most often it is when he is either demanding something or upset. It is so loud. ear-piercing. almost enough to drive me mad. but this has happened before and will subside. It has gotten better already, I think.

Wes has spent a lot of time working on his speed this month. I say "working on", and perhaps I should clarify Wesley's process. He uses the same method as when he was just starting to crawl and as the first days of walking. He stays up really late for a week stretch, going to bed after 10 or 11. He gets in his zone of wild-energy, happy exuberance, carefree. Then he attempts new physical feats. Like walking back and forth across the living room for an hour trying to increase his speed all the while laughing, babbling wildly, and having so much fun with his efforts.

After two days of this, his speed increased dramatically. His process works. He is so stable, balanced, and comfortable now. He can walk so far that by the end of the month he seems to not think about distance as much and will try to walk clear across the park.

Also, his balance is just amazing.

Walking up & down the hill

Following directions/context building
Wesley's context of associations is so much more robust. Examples:
  • Wes and I are in the living room after dinner. I say, "oh, we should brush your teeth." I am not sure where his toothbrush is because he'd been walking around with it brushing his teeth after breakfast. I say "Wes, we have to find your toothbrush, do you know where it is?" He looks around, then walks to the bathroom door and starts banging on the door, yelling and crying. uh oh. I walk over and try to explain that it's not in there. no help. Then I open the door and he is relieved and starts pointing at Casey and my toothbrushes. Crying ensues. Eventually I find his toothbrush in the kitchen.
  • I take the laundry out of the washing machine and say "ok Wes, let's go hang this up". Wes starts walking toward the balcony. We go out together, he hands me diapers to hang up, often so fast it's hard for me to keep up. Mid-month he began actually hanging up some of the diapers himself and also taking hangers on and off of the rack. He generally hangs a diaper up, takes it off and puts it in the basket, and repeats.
  • If I ask him to bring me any number of items my without looking toward the object, he will do it. This works with his books, his blocks, his shoe if I tell him it's by the door, etc. If you tell him to go pick out a book, he goes over to his shelf, looks through his books and chooses one to bring over.
  • He's started helping put his books back on his shelf at the end of the day, but he immediately takes them back off and starts looking through them, so it doesn't yet make things cleaner.
  • He stands in the kitchen, pointing at our fruit basket yelling "ba-ba-ba", which means banana. He loves bananas and wants to eat them all the time. He knows where we keep them.
  • Wes points to his nose, his ears, and his feet when asked. His nose is his very favorite thing to point to. He points to it as soon as you start singing "Sing a Song of Six Pence" because the last line is "pecked off her nose" which is his favorite part.
  • He knows which animals correspond to songs. He starts clapping if he finds his flashcard for blackbird (Sing a song of Sixpence), the king (the same song, it is his favorite nursery rhyme), the goose (Goosey Goosey Gander) and the spider (itsy bitsy spider). This surprises me. His associations are so strong with those nursery rhymes.

Attachments /Social Interactions
He loves his stuffed monkey. He gives it hugs and kisses and is so excited when he sees it. When he was stung by a bee, his monkey was the only thing that would soothe him.

He gives kisses. And sometimes he just comes up and hugs or nuzzles us. Also, he continues to rub noses with Eskimo kisses when I say "want to do noses?" It is one of my favorite little sweetnesses. Love it.

Also, he appears to be going through a phase of being more sensitive to separations from both me and Casey. He is still very social with most strangers, and he loves watching older kids, though sometimes will focus on his own mobility and business in lieu of watching others.

Nightmares. He's had a few night terrors. It is disturbing. He wakes up SCREAMING and can't be calmed. He is confused and shakey, looking around, so afraid. The only cure is to take him out into the living room, turn on all the lights, and spend five or ten minutes helping calm him. Finally he does readjust. He had three major nightmares this month, all in the same week. I wonder what his nightmares were about.

I have been trying to do some more planned activities with Wesley, because I can tell sometimes he gets fussy out of boredom. He always responds really well when I show him a new skill and watch him work at it. He is so hungry for new knowledge. Much of his learning he absorbs from his environment, but he loves new activities, toys, and information. He often does the activity briefly and then continues focused play in his own way utilizing the materials. He likes to spend a lot of time looking at pictures of animals, then looking at us inquisitively, waiting to be told what sound they make. What sound does a snail make?

Below is a pic of one-to-one correspondence practice by putting small blocks in ice cube spots.

Wes has started shaking his head no right before he does something that he knows he's not supposed to do. It is hard to keep from laughing when he does it. Also, it is a good opportunity for preemptive intervention.

For example, he shakes his head before he puts rocks in his mouth, before he goes into the corner in the bedroom to screw with the cable which comes out of the wall, before he tries to play with the plunger in the bathroom, etc. He clearly knows that there are certain things he is not supposed to do, but is not yet able to always keep himself from doing them. At first he'd look straight at me, shake his head and then continue on his way. Now he will shake his head even to himself without looking at me, and then complete the disallowed act.

Toward the end of the month, he has started shaking his head "no" to express a preference when asked a question. For example, when we ask him if he wants to go on a walk, if he's busy with something else, he shakes his head "no" as opposed to walking over to the door per usual. Or sometimes if he doesn't want food and I show him the food, he'll shake his head.

What a crazy month for eating! So many different wants throughout the month, a great increase in volume consumed, and many new preferences of how to consume food.

For a couple of weeks I swear Wesley was eating almost as much as an adult. Three large meals a day. He must have been having a growth spurt. It has been a total lifesaver that he signs "food" when he's hungry. Otherwise, I doubt I would have known that he wanted to eat so much more all of a sudden, and I would have had one upset baby. He signs "food" by looking at us very intently and then slapping himself in the face, which is sort of what the sign looks like.

By the end of the month his appetite has waned and he really has the eating habits of a toddler. He does not want to sit in his high chair to eat unless I am also eating so that he can eat the food off of my plate instead of his, which is totally fine. He prefers to eat finger food on the go.

One of his major eating patterns, when in the high chair, goes like this:
Step 1: Intentionally drop a large amount of food on the floor.
Step 2: Yell to be let down, or sometimes sign "all done" while yelling to be let down.
Step 3: Pick item up off floor and eat while walking around house.
Step 4: Return to scene of mess, repeat step 3 until full or all food pieces are eaten.

So, I have taken to giving him quite a bit of finger food throughout the day and offering a couple meals.
Not all of his food translates into fingerfood so sometimes I'll spoon feed him as he's playing because it's easier, faster, and more pleasant for him. He's a busy guy. Sometimes he does use his spoon, which he can handle successfully himself now without assistance.

Other Things

  • He tries to do itsy bitsy spider by touching his fingers together and wiggling them back and forth. Also he does the "out came the sun" by lifting his arms over his head. He thinks this trick is hot stuff. 

  • I am 3/4 sure he has started signing when his diaper is wet. This could be very helpful. It is one of the only five or so signs I have done consistently.

  • His Great Aunt Cindy and Great Uncle Rick visited us from Iowa. It was special to share our home with them, to have them meet Wesley, and to have extended family from the Midwest visit, because we haven't made it out there yet. Wes learned a cute trick of boomska which is touching foreheads. He still does it if we say "boomska". So sweet.

    Our friend from college, Priya, came to visit before taking off on a trip to France. We hadn't seen her for a few years (since we flew to a Tom Waits concert in Houston). It's always inspiring to hear about her projects and adventures.

    First Birthday
    He's one year old.
    Here is a picture of the birthday boy. I will try and do a separate little post on the birthday.

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

    Unexpected Wonders

    There have been things I hadn't imagined about this first year of parenthood. It's hard to capture the feeling of all of them, but at I want to remember some. I couldn't have imagined:
    1. How when Wes was first born, I didn't know how to hold him, was seriously perplexed as to how I could possibly position his body for breastfeeding, how I could move him from one side to the other. He was so tiny and fragile. I was truly confounded.
    2. How easy it is to fall into deep sleep while nursing in the weeks after birth, even while sitting up.
    3. How often Casey and I crack each other up when the baby had fallen asleep. This could be because he made a funny noise or face, or because one of us does something amazingly loud on accident. The harder it was to get the baby to sleep, the more likely we will have a laughing fit, it seems.
    4. How often when we're trying to be reeeeally quiet, we end up doing something dramatically loud like kicking a pot across the floor or setting off a baby noisemaker.
    5. How soon after the birth we felt the same as before in that we wanted to go out to restaurants and do our normal things, but that those desires just fade and change shape.
    6. How sweet it is to have a baby wake up next to us and give smiles and a laugh that is brighter and more purely joyous than any I could have imagined.
    7. How young Wes was when he got a sense of rhythm and enjoyed dancing to music.
    8. How many silly faces I could make, effortlessly. I have never been one to be very ridiculous, but I surprise myself sometimes with how fun it is to dance like a fool and to make funny faces.
    9. How little time there is to do anything except watch the baby.
    10. How hard it can be to get yourself fed. Prior to having Wes I never understood people who would "forget" to have a meal, but I have been incapable of getting myself fed reguarly for much of the year.
    11. How much I felt like I was in a cocoon after birth, not able to imagine beyond the immediate of our little sphere. I slowly emerged throughout the months.
    12. How different my awareness is post-baby. I feel always partially conscious of Wes even when doing other tasks. At first this meant I was almost entirely unable to focus on a conversation, and felt like I wasn't making any sense, like I wasn't grounded in my mind/body during conversation. Also, in any room with cross-conversations going on, I'd feel crazy, unable to focus, and slightly overwhelmed in the chaos. My ability to talk to others has returned, but I am more sensitive to chaotic environments than I used to be. Prior to parenthood I never had trouble focusing on conversations even in a busy environment, though I did have trouble studying with music playing...
    13. How Wes senses our presence. As an infant he'd start nursing in his sleep when I entered the room. Or he smiles when Casey comes home. Frequently he wakes up (briefly) about a minute or two before Casey pulls into the driveway at night, as if he senses his approach.
    14. How confusing it is to know what to do with a colicy baby--and the answer is, there's not much you can do except be there for them.
    15. How newborns sleep with their eyes open, half open, or opening and closing.
    16. How little some babies like to be swaddled.
    17. How much I would want my mom nearby.
    18. How thankful I am for Skype.
    19. How quickly babies go through phases. What Wes loves one week, what works for him one week, will not necessarily work the next, it is a constant dance of adjustment, of cues and response and connections and attention.
    20. How quickly I lost the baby weight, but how different both my body perception and my actual body is than before.
    21. How it's hard to imagine Wes at his next big milestone (pushing up, sitting, crawling, walking), and just how amazing it looks when it arrives, how unbelievably cute he is when he is doing a new skill.
    22. How special it is to see all the tiny nuances of change on a daily basis.
    23. How impatient I can be. I have always thought of myself as a patient person, but I have been to my limits this year in ways I had not anticipated.
    24. How patient and present I can be. I have spent much of the year giving, being in synch, and sharing with a third person this year (the second being Casey).
    25. How loud the world is. I cringe and suffer lawn mowers, slamming doors, sirens, loud trucks and motorcycles, teenagers, barking dogs on walks with my sleeping baby or was-drifting-off-to-sleep baby.
    26. How parenthood takes growing into and it's a 'learn on the job' kind of thing. So, our parents had to figure it out as they went along, too. They weren't experts. And the baby keeps changing, so there is always something new. As a parent I'm always trying my best to handle something I haven't dealt with before.
    27. How parenthood has accentuated my strengths and my weaknesses--thrust them into the spotlight.
    28. How parenthood makes me want to be a better person.
    29. How we will all give our children psychological complexes of some sort or another. So, I will apologize in advance, try to work to be a better person myself, and try to give Wes the best tools possible.
    Additional things about Wesley in his first year that I'd like to remember:
    1. How after he was born he inched his way bit by bit from my tummy up to latch on without assistance, just little head movements and scoots and he found his own way.
    2. How for his first two weeks he'd make little oinking pig noises when he was hungry, rooting for food.
    3. How much he has loved books this year. The books have changed throughout the year, but he's always adored them.
    4. How much he wanted to be a part of the world, wanted to see what was going on, be part of the action.
    5. How strong his neck was and how much he wanted to stand up very early on (like before 6 weeks).
    6. How exuberant he is--full of loud squeals and talking.
    7. How when he gets excited his entire body tenses, his legs and arms straighted straight out.
    8. In the later months, how he clings on to me like a little lemming with his arms and legs. This is especially true when I am holding him on my hip, I think sometimes if I let go, he'd still be hanging on.
    9. How playful he is, how he can laugh so hysterically if you keep doing the same 'funny' thing over and over, until you couldn't possible have the energy to do it one more time...
    10. How aware and alert he was from very early on.
    11. How he pushes himself to the point of frustration in order to overcome barriers.
    12. How he multi-tasks with an easy (like spinning his music wheel) and a difficult task (like a puzzle) in order to manage his frustration with the difficult task.
    There are a million other little things I wish I could capture and keep so that I can remember. And, so that one day, when Wesley wants to know, he can have bits of information with which to imagine himself so young. But I can't document it all, so some will fade away and some will live in differen't people's memories, getting rehashed and reshaped throughout the years because that's how life goes...

    So for now, I'll end this list and say, this has been an amazing year. Truly transformative. It has been so challenging and rewarding and beautiful which sounds cliche but is true.

    First year of parenthood complete. Many more adventures ahead/currently in progress.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    The day before the party

    A year ago tonight was the last day before labor began. The air around me felt like it was humming with anticipation as it does when you're on the brink of a big experience that is unpredictable and unknown. We didn't know what it'd be like to be parents, and we were going to step into that world right after the adventure of labor and birth which promised to be intense.

    I had, since my due date July 9, been making a concerted effort to naturally induce labor. I had my suspicions that Baby McPizz would choose to arrive on the date of both his grandmas' birthdays (July 15), but I wasn't taking any chances of having to birth at the hospital instead of the birthcenter (if I was over 42 weeks pregnant).

    So I was going on many walks and hikes, taking evening primrose, and indulging in spicy food. I was also trying to rest lest I forego sufficient sleep or a nap and the baby chooses to come at night and I find myself already exhausted. I was meditating on my bed while listening to Krishna Das on my iPod every day, falling into deep relaxation and sleep. I was spending as much time as possible on my birth ball or sitting cross legged on the floor or in cat yoga pose with hopes that Wes would descend and be in proper position for an easy delivery.

    I was really excited to give birth. For some reason, I wasn't scared about the birth process at all. I felt totally confident that Casey and I could make it through any pain naturally, and I was looking forward to sharing the experience. I knew it would be amazing. I knew that if so many women had done it before me, that I certainly could. I felt strong and prepared. My main concern was that Wes would choose to stay in too long, but I was trying not to think about it (and doing a semi-good job at), because I still had another week before the birth center option closed. I had decided to not be too concerned until my next appointment.

    A year ago tomorrow morning I would have my check-up. At my previous one on my due date, I had "not progressed" at all, and I had no idea if my efforts were going to have made a difference.

    Waiting for labor to begin was a unique experience. I felt poised in wonder--constantly wondering when the baby would decide to come, hoping he would be healthy. Who would this child be? What will his life be like? What will it be like to be a mother? What would labor be like? Would I know when it started?

    I felt like we were on a swing upward--we had found our home in Petaluma, jobs, and were as ready for his arrival as we could be, as ready as possible for the birth.

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    Baby Raven

    When Wesley sees birds, he points and excitedly says "Buh-Buh". If the bird is near, he walks toward it. The bird usually relocates a short distance away from him. Wesley continues pursuit. This often goes on for some time, until the bird relocates to a higher perch.

    One evening when Casey, Wes & I were at the park playing, Wes stood up and pointed to something in the grass. He started saying bird repeatedly, looking at us, and pointing over 10 yards away or so in the grass. We looked more closely and saw a baby raven (quite a large baby) sitting in the grass. It had fallen from its nest. Wesley started to walk over, continuing to point and say "Buh! buh!"

    We relocated to the far side of the park, where you could just barely see the bump of the black bird above the grass. After fifteen minutes of play, Wes spotted the bird, started pointing, saying bird excitedly, and walking toward it. He decided it was too far to walk and looked at us with concern.

    A week later, when Wes and I were at the park, we were playing in a different location. He walked very far over to the spot where the baby raven had been the previous week and pointed on the ground where he'd seen it. He looked at me, and I understood what he was saying. It amazed me...

    In case you're worried, we looked it up and it is normal for a baby raven to leave the nest before being able to fly. The mother raven continues to feed it.