Seventeen months

We are in Austria right now with your Oma and Opa. When we arrived, on a rainy afternoon, we went straight to the supermarket for supplies. While Michael was putting our shopping bags into the car, I noticed some horses walking through a nearby playground, and I showed them to you. ‘Neigh neigh!’ you said. Up till now you’d only ever seen them in books and in the ‘Old Macdonald had a Farm’ song on youtube. When you woke up the next morning, before we even got you out of your crib, the very first thing you said was ‘neigh neigh!’, and pointed desperately at the window. ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘there are some horses around, we’ll visit them later’. Requests to visit the ‘neigh neighs’ haven’t let up yet. Every time we take you to see them you want to see them again immediately.

Your favourite word right now is ‘more’. You want more yoghurt, more songs, more peas, more spins in the air, more horses, more cows, more tunnels, more raspberries in your bath water, more tickles, more little trecks around whatever strange thing has caught your interest. It’s not always a request, sometimes it’s just a statement that you’re going to do something again, or even checking with us if you should do something again. When we were stuck in traffic on the way down here, you were trying on my sunglasses, peeping out of them, saying ‘daaaa!’, and then, when we laughed at you, ‘more?’ And you would do it again.

It’s very cute to hear you say ‘peas!’ The word always seems to be exclaimed. Some of your new words, apart from ‘more’, are ‘bubble’, ‘turtle’, ‘key’, ‘moon’, ‘star’, and ‘yoghurt’. You’re favourite song right now is ‘Tiny Tim’ (a song about turtles and bubbles), and you are getting very good at the actions.

You’ve got very good at bossing us around. You like to sit on a step, and point to the spot next to you to indicate that I should sit down too. Or you stand up, point at the floor until I stand up too, take my hand and lead me to where you want to go.

You had your last breastfeed the day before you turned 17 months. It was more my idea than yours, I’m afraid, but you took it in your stride, which I’m pretty sure you would not have done a month earlier. I miss it a little but you are sleeping so much better now, and we still have lots and lots of snuggles.

When we were staying in the B&B in Denmark we had to wait until 7.30 for breakfast. Given that you woke up at 4.30, you were none too impressed with this. For the last ten minutes before we went in, you clutched your bib and your spoon, saying ‘yoghurt? Mama? Yoghurt?’ Again and again and again. And when we finally got in there and poured you a bowl of yoghurt, you burst into inconsolable tears, because it wasn’t in a little pot like you were used to. I had to take you outside and calm you down, and stop talking about yoghurt and offer you some cheese, before you were happy to sit in your chair again, at which point you contentedly put away about three bowls worth of yoghurt, after all.

Apart from the horses, your favourite thing about Austria were all the cable cars. The first time we took you on one you were amazed every time a carriage went past in the other direction. ‘More?’ You would ask. And sure enough, another one would show up. After that, if we were walking or driving anywhere, as soon as you spotted a cable car you would point and complain urgently, letting us know that you wanted to get on it immediately. As long as you had a banana or a piece of apple strudel to munch on on the way back down, you were pretty much in heaven.

This month has been all about connections, between things, pictures, words and people. It has been such a delight to see you form such a strong bond with your German grandparents, and you’ve also had a wonderful time lately playing with our neighbour’s daughters and some of our friends’ children. When we read your books at bedtime, one of them has a picture of a sippy cup, and you always excitedly point at the picture of the cup and then at your own cup, and at the picture of the bed and at your own bed. When we were out for dinner this evening, you were fingering the buttons on my shirt. ‘Buttons’, I said, at which point you hastily pulled up your top and pointed at your belly button. When Michael returned from America with a t-shirt for you with a picture of a tyrannosaurus on it, the first thing you did was rush to your bookshelf and pull out the book about the Gruffalo, and say ‘argh!’ They did look quite alike. Then you dug around in your duplo box until you found your duplo dinosaur. You are so much fun to be around right now.

Exploring

Tonight Felix said, very clearly, moon, star, when I pointed to them in a book. He’s also said, recently, chair, key, tractor, blueberry, pea, bo, for book, so, for socks, uhoh, and eeieeioh, from Old Macdonald. He makes sounds for cows, pigs, bears, snakes, clocks. He tries to say giraffe.

I’m endlessly fascinated in the little guy. It’s a funny feeling, hearing new words from his lips. I wonder what it will be like – what he will be like – when he can really talk to us. Because always, the new Felix erases the memories of the old Felix. That is why I am so glad I write some of this down. When he can speak in sentences, how will I remember what he is like now? He only has a few words (I guess between 40 and 50), but he’s constantly expressing himself, with his voice, his body, his face, his energy. When I picked him up to take him home from the barnehage today he was very distressed and pointed desperately at my bag, saying ‘mmmmmmmmm!’ I couldn’t console him. He didn’t want his leftover sandwich or his water bottle. It’s normal for him to point to my bag and demand a banana, but I’d run out of them, and besides, that wasn’t what he was saying. Eventually I worked out that he wanted milk, so I went to the kitchen and got him some. (He’s only been interested in cow’s milk for the past week or so.) When we got home he wanted more, and again before bed. A couple of his books had pictures of sippy cups, and he pointed at them happily, saying ‘mmmmm’, confident that I knew exactly what he meant.

More than ever, now that he can walk, I love watching him explore. He likes exploring, and wanders happily around shopping centres or the very quiet Halden town centre, as I follow a couple of steps behind. He’s not indiscriminate, however, in where he’s happy to go. He’ll wander down the driveway to our neighbour’s house, and then get nervous and want to get picked up. On Sunday I took him to a big public garden with an orchard, and thought he might like to wander down between the trees, but he wasn’t having any of it. He likes stairs, benches, and things to climb. Most of all, however, he likes water. Show him a body of water, a fountain, a puddle, a lake, and he’s off like a shot.

Sixteen months: brought to you by balls, bubbles, puddles

In a couple of days, my darling, you will turn sixteen months old. You amaze us every day. You make us laugh. A couple of times this week you stretched your normal 6am wakeup to 4.30 am, which we weren’t exactly thrilled about, but as you smiled at us sweetly, your father had to ask ‘could you be any cuter?’ You took your first steps over a month ago but it has only been in the past couple of days that you’ve been comfortable just walking around everywhere without having to think about it too much. I think it’s made you much more relaxed in general. Today you were running in circles around your father in the kitchen, giggling.

Your latest words are ‘shut’, and ‘keys’. You are quite frustrated when doors are shut, but at least you have a word for it now. You are pretty much obsessed by songs with actions, and there are several we watch together on youtube every day, in addition to songs that go with your boardbooks, songs you learn in barnehage, and songs we sing in the car and in the bath. Some of your favourites right now are ‘Down at the station’, ‘Insy Wincy Spider’, and a very silly one on youtube called ‘Uh-huh’ (actually you really like all the youtube clips from Super Simple Songs). You adore your books and have taken to toddling off to pick the one you want to read next and bringing it back to me. Your favourites at the moment are any with flaps to lift, and any about trains. You love pointing out animals and practicing your animal sounds.

This weekend your parents were a bit grumpy and tired, but together we turned it all around. As it was raining today and we couldn’t think of anything else to do, we went across to the big shopping centre in Sweden again. Your father bought you hundreds of balls. When you discovered them after your nap, you couldn’t believe it. ‘Ba! ba!’ you said, tottering over to them and plonking yourself in.

Later I made us a cake. I turned 33 this week and took two of these cakes to work on my birthday, but I decided we needed one all to ourselves. It turns out a family of three can demolish a sponge roll in one sitting, even if one family member is less than a meter tall. (It’s also probably time a sponge roll featured on my blog again. Our new oven is better for baking than our old one. I’m always tempted to try out variations such as chocolate and raspberries, but I will record here for posterity that you cannot beat a sponge roll with strawberries and cream.) You insisted on eating your piece with a spoon. Mermos was also impressed and snuck in through the kitchen window to lick up the cream.

Just before your bedtime, the sun finally came out, so we headed into the garden. You ran around the trampoline for a while and had a poke in the sandpit, but got frustrated trying to walk on the lawn in your gumboots so I took you over to the driveway. Oh my. We have the best puddles. The cats couldn’t quite work out why you wanted to stand in the middle of them.

I remember a card my Mum had sent me half way through my pregnancy, with a photo of a little boy toddling down a lane. And it’s hard to say exactly what I felt, except that it was somehow momentous, seeing you stamp around your very first chain of perfect puddles, and pick yourself up when you fell.

Fifteen months

Sometimes I am astonished at how quickly you change, but you are still you. You still calm down when I sing about the animals in the bus while we’re driving, exactly like you did when you were five months old. You have the same delight when you show us a new skill as you did in the beginning. You still want to nurse every couple of hours overnight, a trait that I am not quite so keen on. You learnt to walk this month, but you still prefer to crawl.

This month has been about songs. You have learnt some of the actions to the songs in the barnehage, and you love to clasp your hands and wave them about for the bumble bee song, and point your index fingers together to make a little diamond for twinkle twinkle little star. That’s my favourite one, I think, because it’s so careful and deliberate and quiet – you do it, and wait for us to notice. The other day we were driving and you pressed the button on your little elmo to make the ‘twinkle twinkle’ song, and then made the diamond with your fingers. You also do it when you hear any other music you like. It’s just adorable. You also sing little songs to yourself, and have a good go at saying ‘baby bumble bee’ – it comes out ‘baby bee’, which is pretty close.

You’re still using all the words I mentioned last month, and have added ‘switch’ (one of your favourite things), ‘cheek’, ‘toe’, and ‘hole’. I sometimes wonder about all the Norwegian whirling around in your head…It’s funny to think about how your erratically expanding vocabulary reflects your interests. We talk about toes a lot at the moment, partly when reading ‘Ten Little Fingers, Ten Little Toes’, but mostly it’s when I want to wrangle you into your pyjamas without the tears. ‘Look’, I say, ‘I wonder if the toes are going to come out the end this time. No, there are no toes there, I can’t see any toes, I don’t think it’s going to work this time. Oh… there they are!’ You laugh and laugh.

You love the bath and never want to get out. One night I let you stay in for ages and ages, and I could tell you were tired of it. ‘Do you want to get out now?’ ‘No!’ ‘Well, do you want to stay in?’ You looked very confused.

You dramatically say ‘fffff’ and hold out your hand as to say ‘stop’, to mean something is hot. You do this to the oven, to lights, to food in bowls. You are very earnest about this and seem quite pleased with yourself. You’re excited when you get to eat hot food. Just the past few days you’ve decided that you are interested in eating a variety of food after all and the anticipation when you’re about to tuck into dinner with your spoon is just priceless. The other week when we were having a picnic in the garden, Whitby came up and tried to eat our falafels. You looked straight at him with great concern and warned: ‘ffff! ffff!’

Whitby is your best friend. It is just delightful to see the two of you together, patting and head-butting each other. I am so grateful we have a cat like that for you to hang out with. He’s very selective and is afraid of strangers, especially other children, but he adores you and always comes to visit if you’re in the sandbox. You look out for him too and tell me if you see him outside, waiting to come in.

Fourteen months

This month has all been about ‘Mamma’ and ‘Dadda’. Mostly ‘Mamma’, to be precise, but you are pretty enthralled with your ‘Dadda’ too. When we are out shopping, if Michael disappears for a few moments, you scan the scene and crane your neck until you spot him, and then you point and pronounce enthusiastically: ‘Dadda!’ If I disappear or leave the room even for a moment it is another matter altogether and within seconds you are in tears.

The middle of this month was a little challenging as you were feverish again and seemed to have terrible pains in your gums. Unfortunately there are no new teeth to show for all that suffering – I really hope they make it through next time, if that’s what that was about.

You’ve got quite a few words now:

Mamma
Dadda
Door
Bye bye
Se (look, see – I think this is your first Norwegian word)
No (accompanied by head-shaking)
Nom nom (breastfeed, food, yum)
Baa (sheep)
Ba (ball)
Ba (bath)
Bow (bowl)
Nana (banana)
Nawwww (cat, cuddle)
Aaaah! (sort of screetched. cat, meow)
Rah (lion)
Woof woof (dog)
Broom (car)
Toot toot (train)
Dom (down)
Do (stop)
Daaa (there)
Du (duck)
No (nose)
Mou (mouth)
Ah (eye)
Shoe

You’ve also made some very passable attempts at saying ‘waffle’

You take great pleasure in naming the world. Sometimes I think you point things out merely for the satisfaction of naming them. You say bye bye to everything right now, including toys and computers. You are very nearly walking. You’ve started initiating peekaboo games – hiding things behind your back, or hiding yourself, and jumping out, grinning your head off, saying ‘Aha!’ It’s just about the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen.

Words

As we walk through the supermarket, you spot the fruit and vegetables. ‘Nom nom nom!’ You declare enthusiastically. When we walk past the dog food aisle you point and squeal in delight at the pictures of the dogs.

***

‘Shall I make you breakfast now?’ I ask one morning.

‘Nom nom nom!’ you agree.

***

Your slow tumble into language makes my belly flip over. Yesterday morning we played with a little trumpet your great grandma gave you for christmas. You made me blow into it, then you worked out how to blow into it yourself. Later that day, you spot it on your mat. ‘Brrrrrr!’ you say, and go to fetch it.

***

You are playing next to the safety gate on the stairs, sticking your fingers through the slats.

‘Where’s your ball?’ asks Aunty Anne.

‘Ba!’ you say, and turn around to find it, your face awash with pleasure. It’s hard to describe just how happy you look in these moments – it was the same when you had just learnt to clap, and clapped whenever we said the word. I understand you and you understand me, your eyes say, look! For a moment you are as amazed as I am.

I am so impressed with your new word for ball that I try to tell the story to Michael. ‘And then he turned around, and said b-‘ But I am stuck. ‘Ba’ is not a word I am used to saying, and it gets stuck in my stammer. There is a small pause. You sit at my feet, watching me not speaking. ‘Ba!’ you say, before I can get it out. ‘Oh no!’ I say, ‘it’s starting already!’

We laugh and laugh.

Nine months

You are nine months and three days old. That’s closer to a year than it is to six months. How strange. Your little personality shines out so strongly now. When you were just a few weeks old, I took you to a baby group in Norway. You were the littlest one there. I looked at all the big babies and thought that you were so special because you were so small. But now you are a big baby, and I love having a big baby best of all.

You love to play.

You love to laugh. And you love to dance. You have perfected the most gorgeous ‘jiggle wriggle’, which you perform with gusto whenever we say those words. Your father has taught you to give high fives.

You love to babble. You say dadadada and bawawa and tch tch tch. I think yesterday you invented your first little word: ‘da!’, meaning ‘that one!’, or ‘take me there!’. You said it when we passed the duplo table in the Barnes and Noble, and later when you spied my mobile phone, and again when you saw me get out a jar of fruit.

You are very dextrous now and like to feed yourself peas and bread-crumbs. You like to drink from a big water bottle instead of your sippy cup.

You love to snuggle. You invented a game the other day of holding onto the couch then flopping into my arms, giggling madly, over and over and over. When I got tired of it and sat you on the floor with a water bottle to play with, you thought the game was still going, and were very disappointed when you flopped down and landed on the floor.

Every night before you go to sleep, after your evening feed, we read about your friend the owl in The Book of Sleep. You smile and point at little details in the illustrations. Then you cuddle your lion and start to yawn, and once I zip you into your sleeping back and sing ‘hush little baby’, you are well on your way to snoozy land.