We are in full-on toddler mode at the Ingle house. Ben is 14 months and a few days old, and he seems to have changed so, SO much since his birthday.
I have always kind of thought toddlers were kind of gross. (Is that wrong to say)? Don't get me wrong, I LOVE all of the kids in my life. They are delightful and I have loved watching them grow and change so much since they were little babies. What I'm referring to is more of the "mall play area" stranger toddlers that, pre-Ben, I would try to hustle past or avoid completely. Snotty-nosed, loud, slobbering on everything, crying for their mommies, etc.
OBVIOUSLY my view on these kiddos (and their moms) is completely different now that we are living it - and I have to say, having a toddler is pretty awesome :) He is, in fact, snotty-nosed, loud, slobbery, and will cry for his mommy.....but I'm beginning to understand his preferences for things, what he likes (and when he wants them), and what will really set him off - and combined with his growing understanding of how things work and what I'm saying, watching him every day is rad and fascinating.
I don't have Ben's full growth stats, as he won't have another appointment until January, but when I took him in when he was sick a couple weeks ago, he weighed 23 lbs. He definitely FEELS heavier to me, to the point where either our cat, Maxwell, has lost a ton of weight lately, or just the difference in size between the two of them is significant now. (Probably both). He also has two more bottom teeth that cut through last week, (which he will happily let me brush, BTW) :)
Ben still is not saying too many actual words, but he babbles and tries to talk constantly. The word list right now is pretty much: Mama, Dada, Mum-Mum, and All Done. I think we have heard him repeat: Juice, diaper, and bye-bye...and he will make a "mew mew mew" sound when I ask him what the kitty says. He also will say "meeee meeeeeeeeee" which I am starting to think may translate to "binky".... needless to say, I am so excited for when these babbles will turn into words I can understand :)
The awesome thing lately is that we can tell he understands what we are saying on a whole new level. He will now nod his head yes when I ask if he would like to get into the bath tub. He will shake his head no (mimicking us) when he starts to put his foot on the fireplace, (the one thing we really try to stop him from doing and will occasionally give him time outs for). He will take his binky out of his mouth if he sees food and is ready to eat or have a bottle. He will run to the door when I ask him where the kitty is (probably so he can let him in to terrorize him further). He will clap his hands if he is proud of himself for something he has done. He knows where his belly button is, (and where mine is). He is getting really good with his sippy cups and finally understands he needs to tip them up to get anything out of them. He will grab the remote control and point it up at the TV (embarrassing). He seems to love music and will either dance (total white boy moves, BTW) or just stare in the direction of where the music is coming from. His favorite? The Sex and the City theme song. This video is from a WHILE ago, but I never posted it. These days when he hears it, he will run from whatever room he is in to stand and stare at the TV, but this level of concentration is what I'm talking about. Obsessed. (Note him leaning in at the end).
His favorite activities lately are to take things out of something (silverware from the dishwasher, my lotion/chapstick/old lady face cream from the nightstand, anything out of any drawer) and hand each item to me one at a time. I will then hand each item back to him and we could probably repeat that process for hours. He is also still a big fan of pushing things around the house (toys, bar stools, boxes, anything big). I took him to meet our friends Denise and Jasper (17 months) to the North Kirkland Community Center's Indoor Playground yesterday ,($3 to basically play in a room full of toys and other kids, up to age 5) and Ben got a HUGE kick out of it! He ran around nonstop for about 45 minutes, essentially trying to push every toy or toddler size car (with or without another kid inside of it). Most kids seemed confused, but tolerated it. One little girl FREAKED OUT (and we had our first lesson about personal space, sharing and waiting our turn).
Another thing we have noticed is that Ben loves to step on pretty much anything but the floor. If it's a flat surface, it's boring. He would much rather step across feet, pillows, blankets, toys, boxes, etc. He loves to flip the pages through books, when I'm reading them, and when they are just lying on the floor. Last night he occupied himself for a good 10 minutes just turning page after page after page. Another favorite activity is to walk around outside, both in the stroller while I take him on a long walk, or just walking around (and around and around) the yard, up and down (and up and down and up and down) the various steps we have, and around and around the car. (So, toddlers very much enjoy repetition, I'm learning).
Ben is super clingy in the mornings, and is not happy if I put him down (which I just HAVE TO occasionally) within the first hour of him being awake. He would prefer if I would just cuddle him while he has his bottle while we watch Super Why on the Spout Channel, and anything requiring me to get up, (coffee, making breakfast, or my needing to get both of us dressed and out the door on my in-office days) will result in instant tears and him just sobbing as he walks after me throughout the house. This is new and really fun. He also will not tolerate Greg arriving home from work and not holding him right away. It's cute, and it is clearly him telling us that he loves us and misses us after a night of sleep or a day at work.
As for us, we are hanging in there! The biggest change for me lately is that I've stopped nursing (and, sadly, stopped burning calories at a rapid rate - that was a really fun year, carbs). We have kept our sanity by staying pretty strict with the nap schedule. If something fun is happening that might interfere with (or eliminate all-together) Ben's nap, we (or at least one of us) typically will choose to opt out. This has resulted in us feeling a little cooped up at times, but at the same time, doing something with a whiny, exhausted toddler is not fun either. I am told that soon his two naps a day will likely turn into one nap a day (yikes), so maybe our social schedule will pick up a bit then...
I think the biggest thing I've learned lately is that being a parent and being responsible for the growth, health and development of another human being (particularly one that is mobile and has a mind of their own), is hard work! A joyful sacrifice. Totally rewarding, yet all-consuming, work! My patience has grown by leaps and bounds, my ability to care about non-important things has diminished drastically, and the things I spend my time doing or thinking about pretty much revolve around Ben's health and happiness 99% of the time. I can't say enough how thankful I am to have someone like Greg to parent with. I know that it makes all the difference in the world to have someone to share in the joy, the worries, and the responsibilities and to simply give one another a break when it's needed!
So, to wrap up this super long Ben update: 14 months = fun, and also "phew"!