Blueberry gow

Dominic’s language has been exploding over the last two weeks.  Speaking–or trying to–is now his default mode, though deciphering what he’s saying is still pretty touch and go.  Here is a helpful snippet from the Dominic-to-English dictionary:

Pay-guh: playground
Boobuh: blueberries
Chooch: church
Bast baba: basketball
Peetish: pizza
Pich: chips
Jew-wah: cereal
Jew-bah: …rosary?  (seriously, I have no idea.)

Some of the reason for the fuzzy pronunciation is just that he’s trying to say EVERYTHING all at once, so it’s a bit slap-dash.  He doesn’t have time for accuracy, people!  Do you have any idea how many words are waiting just behind that last one, clamoring to get out? “Here!  Here’s a sound.  It vaguely resembles what I want to say.  Moving on!!”

…and some of the difficulty might be just…well, whatever makes toddlers pronounce things in willfully weird ways.  When I was about his age, I had this conversation with my parents:

“Jenny, say, ‘popsicle.'”
“Pop-bicycle!”
“No no!  Ok, say ‘pop’.”
“Pop!”
“Good! Now say, ‘sicle.'”
“Sicle!”
“Very good!  Now say, ‘popsicle.'”
“Pop-bicycle!”

Dominic and I had his first “pop-bicycle” conversation today:

[Dominic, clamoring for jam on his corn muffin]: “Gow!”
“Ha!  Honey, say ‘jaaaaaam’.”
“Goooooooooooow.”
“Jaaaaaaaam.”
“Goooooooooow.” [laughter. Making the hand-sign for ‘more’.]
[sigh] “Oh, okay, wait!  Dominic, say “Jew-bah”.”  [Still don’t know what it is, but it will serve the purpose.]
“Jew-bah!”
“Right! Jjjjjjjjjjjjjjew-bah.”
“Jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjew-bah!”
“Good!  Jjjjjjjjjjjjjjew-bah.  Jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjam!”
[Dominic laughing]
“You try!  Jjjjjjjjjjjjjjew-bah.  Jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjam!”
“Jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjew-bah!  Goooooooooooow!”

Whatever.

A bit more…

Heard from Dominic in the last 24 hours:

Playing with his little plastic container of pom-poms, which he is supposed to use tongs to pick up and move from one container to another, but which usually end up being poured over his head in a happy pom-pom shower.  Picking one up and placing it on his palm to show me: “Mom-mom!”

Playing in the living room early in the morning as folks slowly wandered downstairs to start the day.  Looking up and seeing Grandpa rounding the corner into the kitchen: “Bump-pa!”

Asking for the millionth repeat of his favorite song on his Peter, Paul, and Mommy CD about being swallowed by a boa constrictor: “‘Gen? ‘gen?”  [Me: *sigh* “No, honey, not again.”]

 

…also, he is starting to really sing along to well-known songs for real now.  Some of those songs have nice sustained notes in the refrain, which Dominic can now match in pitch and even anticipate!

 

 

Progress

Dominic is slowly adding more words to his original two-word repertoire. While I have the feeling he could say far more than he does — every time we ask him to say something, his finger goes straight into his grinning mouth and we get incoherent mumbles — we’re definitely seeing some progress.

Mostly we get the first syllable of various words: “wa” for water, “ba” for…well, ball, butter (which is like baby crack to him — eats it straight), and Bob (the stroller).

No, we did not name our stroller Bob. That’s what it’s called. (It’s written on the side, okay?)

BUT! Lest his teeny-tiny expressive vocabulary be taken as a sign of little intelligence, I would like to note that he can count. …sort of. This is what it’s like going up the stairs with him now:

Dominic: “….nuuuuuunn…?”

Us: “one…”

Dominic: “….dooooo…?”

Us: “two…”

Dominic:

Us: “…three…”

Dominic:

Us: “…four…”

Dominic:

Us: “…five…”

Dominic: “Saiks!”

He’s a genius, I tell you. He’s done it twice now, so I KNOW it’s deliberate.

Oh — for several weeks now, too, we’ve been hearing him sing a snatch of some melody that always includes “aaaa-sheeesh, aaaaa-sheesh….” towards the end.  It took us a while to realize he is singing “ashes, ashes” from Ring Around the Rosie. Which we’ve sung to him, like, twice.

So, there you go. Genius.

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Siblings

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Love and annoyance.  They always seem to go together.

These two do love each other, though!  Madeleine grins and kicks and reaches for Dominic whenever he comes near her bouncy seat or her space on the play mat.  (Which changes to annoyance when Dominic tries to poke her nose and ends up in the vicinity of her eye.)  She seems mostly enthralled with him, which sometimes manifests itself in pulling his hair or scratching his face when he gets too close.  It’s tough love.

Just hangin' in Dominic's crib.

Just hangin’ in Dominic’s crib.

As for Dominic, he tends to blow hot and cold.  At Madeleine’s first well-check after her birth, Dominic attacked the nurse who tried to take Madeleine from me in a burst of protective fervor.  He loves to pat her head goodnight and give her “kisses”, and he always points to her empty car seat base when we put him in the car first, as if to say: “We aren’t leaving without my minion!”  He stuffs her mouth with pacifiers (a pacifier already in her mouth is no deterrent) and tries to feed her from any empty bottles sitting around.  He usually wants her to be with us when we say our bedtime prayers, but he will also unceremoniously order her and daddy out of the room when it’s time for Mommy to sing him a lullaby.  (And if Mommy happens to be holding Madeleine during prayers, heaven forbid, he will grab her sleeper and try to pull her off my lap so he can take up his rightful place.)  If her play mat is lying across his path, he will look at me and make emphatic, “Take this thing away!” gestures, and he’s not too wild about Madeleine playing with his toys, including the ones he hasn’t seen or wanted in over a year.

Double the attitude.  ("Oh.  We're going for a walk.  'Yay.'")

Double the attitude. (“Oh. We’re going for a walk. ‘Yay.'”)

In other words: perfectly normal siblings!  (Except much cuter than the average.  It has to be said.)

 

 

Speech! speech!

At 21 months, it seems like Dominic is finally beginning to move into the “language” phase of development.  He has been able to communicate his wishes pretty well for the past nine months or so with a combination of baby sign language (“more,” “please,” “all done”, and “hot”, plus one sign of his own invention that means “come”), pointing, and the utterly interminable repetition of a seagull-esque “eh? eh? eh? eh? eh?”  As far as I can tell, he essentially uses this sound to mean, “Make it so.”  (Alternate translations include, “I want that,” “Look, look!”, “Can I do this?”, and “…Houston, we have a problem.”)

For a little while, he has been trying to imitate some basic word sounds, but it’s all been imitation and not purposeful communication.

Then, about two weeks ago, he said his first word, (besides “Mamamamama” and “Dadadada,” which don’t count.)  While going up the stairs with Daddy, who always counts the steps aloud as they go, Dominic took a step and said, “…..nuuuuunnnnn…..?”  [It sounded like a lilting question, though, come to think of it, this is exactly the tone we use when we count anything out loud with him.]

‘Yes! ‘One’!” We shouted.  “…can you say, ‘two’?”

“……nuuuunnnn…..?”

Well, maybe not.  But a few days later, when he thought no one was around, I distinctly heard him say, “…..nuuuunnnn…..?  …dooooo….?  …..feeee……?”  (I’ve just…never heard it since.  But!  It was there!  I promise!)

No other words have been as reliable as that one, though he has started singing the last four (well, three) words of that one-hit wonder, The Wheels on the Bus.  Singing this song with him — which, yes, has been going on in this household for almost a year — now sounds something like this:

Us: “The babies on the bus go—”

Dominic: “Wah, wah, wah….wah wah wah…..wah wah wah!” [Pretty much on pitch, too!]

Us: “The babies on the bus go—”

Dominic: “Wah, wah, wah…..AAAAH doooo daaaaah!”

Close enough.

[UPDATE: Just this week, Dominic has added another “communicative sound” — not a word, exactly, but very definitely intended to convey a specific meaning, and Mommy is not thrilled.  Conversations with him now go something like this:

Me: “Dominic, honey, it’s time to [insert any activity].”

Dominic: [firmly shaking his head, sometimes accompanied by a finger wag] “Uh-uh.”

This sound can also be used creatively to communicate, “You are seriously bugging me right now,” as when the babysitter tried to distract him from his wailing after Mommy, by suggesting, “Dominic, why don’t you come over here and play with me?”  Dominic spun around, glared at her, jabbed his little finger in her direction, and yelled, “Uh-uh!!“]

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Resurrected post II — Birth story

Now we’re going to get REALLY meta: what you see here is the resurrection of an all-but-completed revamping of a much earlier draft of a post which was itself written a month after the events it describes.  And that is four levels of lack of commitment to this blog.  

My autosave says I last worked on this post on April 21, 2014.

**********

As I was trying to figure out how on earth to get back to posting after a three month hiatus that followed the BIRTH OF MY SECOND CHILD, (something I guess I should really post about), I saw this draft of a post from ….the end of January, it says. [Isn’t this fun?  It’s like Inception, but with less walking on walls.]  It’s only a fragment, which is totally appropriate, so I’ll have to dig around in the recesses of my memory and see if I can finish it for you:

*****

This is a posting from that hazy, murky place called “sleep deprivation” and “raging hormone-fueled wine-and-chocolate cupcake-bingeing”.  I have such a backlog of things to post about, some of which I’ve already begun jotting down in a draft post that may or may not ever see the light.  [Oh my gosh, it goes deeper than I thought! This IS Inception!]

Madeleine Mary Grace was born at 7:56 pm on the Feast of the Epiphany during Polar Vortex the First, while about a foot and a half of snow fell outside.  My water broke at 2:30am on Sunday, prompting us to head to the hospital to beat out the impending snowfall, despite the fact that labor was initially slow.  My friend Maureen arrived at our house minutes after my breathless phone call around 3am, still in her pajamas, and wide awake with helpful advice and reassurance.  Later in the day, her husband and two children would move into our house and stay for the next several days, freeing Phillip up to take care of endless last minute details that, naturally, we had failed to prepare (like shoveling the driveway and taking down the Christmas tree) and shuttle back and forth to the hospital several times a day.

I spent a good part of the afternoon by myself in the birthing suite, calmly bouncing on a large exercise ball (“to open up the hips!” the nurse assured me), alternately Skyping with family members and reading Gates of Fire.  As long as things were slow and easy, Phillip decided it would be better for him to be home with Dominic and taking care of said details.  Very gradually, labor began to kick into a higher gear, at which point I got an epidural, and things went back to calm and uneventful.  My book was interesting and my nurses were kind.  I drank my body weight in water and apple juice.

Phillip and Dominic had come to visit in the afternoon, and Dominic appeared generally uninterested in the whole scenario, except for a brief moment when the nurse tried to hook up a fetal monitor to my abdomen.  From his place on my lap, Dominic repeatedly slapped the nurse’s hand away every time she reached towards me, defending his mother against whatever insidious plans these strange women had for me.  (He wasn’t too wild about the straps she placed around my tummy, either, and yanked on them with an unhappy expression.)

*****

[Apparently that was all I had time for.  So!  The rest of the birth story]:  Phillip returned by himself after Dominic went down for a nap, and we talked for a few hours — beginning with a somewhat surreal but entirely enjoyable conversation about the concept of masculine virtue in Spartan culture, while the monitor continued to chart my unfelt contractions (a little bit of irony there).  Like the rosary that Phillip and I said in the wee hours of the morning as we waited for Dominic’s arrival, this my favorite part of the labor.  I was free from pain, and Phillip and I had that heightened awareness of the awesomeness of what was about to happen that made a kind of bubble around us.  For the first time, maybe, since Dominic was born, the normal distractions and preoccupations (and computer screens) of daily life disappeared.  The topic didn’t really matter; the conversation was simultaneously easy and profound, like the marathon conversations we used to have when we were dating.  Things that had previously seemed difficult to express under the weight of old arguments and worries and the banality of daily life were suddenly easily said (and stored away and cherished.)   It was the pink moment of Madeleine’s delivery.

Eventually, Phillip went home to have dinner with Dominic.  Things continued to be very slow and painless, prompting the nurses to turn up my dose of pitocin.  Then, suddenly, things were neither slow nor painless.  My epidural blocked out all but some (very emphatic) localized pain, but since I hadn’t been able to feel *anything* when Dominic was born, I didn’t really know what the things I was feeling meant.  Around 7pm, it seemed like I was gripping the sides of the bed somewhat especially hard every two minutes or so, and I had the distinct sense that something (ouch!) was definitely (hoooo!) happening… (HOO-hoo-hoooo!)

All this time, I was by myself in the room, since the nurses were convo-ing outside my room in preparation for a shift change.  I assumed they knew what was going on with me, since they had just checked me out and said things were progressing nicely but didn’t seem terribly excited.  Eventually, though, I thought perhaps I should interrupt their paperwork and other shift-change formalities and suggest that something….might require their attention…perhaps?  They came in smiling and with the air of preparing to take my order for tea on the veranda; “Hi, again!  Yes, we’ll check you out, sweetie…”

[ever so brief a pause]

“Page the doctor — get him in here, now!  We’re gonna do this, girl!”  Big, round overhead lights snapped on, carts laden with mysterious instruments appeared out of nowhere and were wheeled to my bedside, the out-going nurse forgot her plans to leave.  “Call your husband!  Tell him he’s got two minutes! (….where is that doctor?  Anyone seen him on the floor yet?)”

I managed to call Phillip in between contractions and assure him that, yes, this time I was sure this was no false alarm like we’d had with Dominic.  “Sure I won’t be waiting around for six hours this time?” he quipped.

“GET. (breathe!) OVER. (breathe!) HERE!”

“…right.  On my way.”  Two contractions later (it seemed), he was at my bedside looking calm and pleasantly interested, like he was about to see a good movie.  Some 10 minutes after that, my doctor came strolling in, snapping on his gloves with a smile and an air of benevolent boredom, like he was going to perform some elementary parlor trick for the umpteenth time for another group of easily-impressed children.  The nurses were the only ones who seemed to be taking this thing with the appropriate level of fussing and bustling excitement.

This time around, the delivery was much more painful — which is to say, it rose to the level of, “Ow, that really hurts and I don’t want to do this” for about 30 minutes.  (Complaining or asking for sympathy from my natural-birth mama-friends, I am not.)   There was a little yelling during the pushing phase (“It hurts, I know,” the doctor murmured at one point.  Like hell you do, I thought), but roughly three to five pushes brought little Madeleine blinking into the light, all 6 lb, 2 oz of her.  One of those ounces was all thick black hair.

The doctor immediately presented her to her father for approval and gender-inspection.  “Congratulations, daddy!” he said.  Phillip had some difficulty at first distinguishing what it was he was supposed to see.  (“He showed me the baby butt-first,” he said afterwards. “I couldn’t see anything.”)  I pushed myself up far enough to see what he couldn’t, and fell back on the pillows content.  And vindicated.

“It’s a girl,” I said, and smiled.

I knew it all along.

They laid her on my tummy while the doctor tried (unsuccessfully this time) to convince Phillip to cut the cord, then she was brought up to my chest for our first meeting.  She was instantly calm and quiet and studied me gravely for a while.  “Hi, baby,” I grinned.  “I’m your mommy!”  Phillip leaned against the head of the bed and watched us both for a while, occasionally stroking her black mane and murmuring to her.

Baby indicated her approval of our little triad by quickly latching on to nurse and staying there.  For an hour and a half.  The nurses, kind, patient, and in favor of prolonged mother-baby bonding time as they were, began to get impatient.  “Okay, girlie,” one said as she finally cut in.  “You’ve got places to be.”  Madeleine gave a high-pitched, prim little squeal as they took her away from me to be weighed and prodded and made official.  I watched her from across the room with that peculiar, mild alarm of the Brand-New Mother, as though Madeleine might stop breathing without me.  Giverherbackgiveherbackgiveherback, said my brain.   Madeleine’s wailing seemed to be saying the same thing.

Finally she was back in my arms, swaddled and warm; immediately, her wailing stopped, and she fell into a contented sleep.  Too soon after, Phillip and I were being hustled out of the labor and delivery unit and over to the maternity ward.  There was the negotiating of piles of personal items that seemed to have multiplied awkwardly since we arrived; the ugly blue hospital socks, the wheelchair.  My gentle and doting nurses had suddenly become brisk and efficient.

*******

And that’s where the final layer stops.  I suppose I couldn’t figure out how to finish it, since most everything that came afterwards was so completely ordinary.  

…though, come to think of it, that’s not true.  Other things I might have chosen to include in my description of Madeleine’s very first days in the world:

1. The fact that she and I were mostly alone during the entirety of my stay in the maternity ward, aside from brief visits from Daddy and Dominic, and the 847 nurses, doctors, specialists, consultants, therapists, social workers, government employees, kitchen staff, and cleaning women who rotated through our door approximately once every 15 minutes and I’m not even exaggerating.  (Well, you know — not much.)  The finishing touch was the nurse who woke me up at 2am to ask a list of questions, including “Do you feel like you’re getting adequate rest?” 

2. Dominic’s utter lack of interest in his new sister.  To be fair, I did everything I could to downplay her presence at first, to head off potential eruptions of jealousy and abandonment issues.  Maybe putting her in her bassinet and shoving it in the corner of the room before his first visit was going a bit far…

3. The fact that Dominic’s second visit to see me suddenly became a visit to the ER, after he caused a mild panic by picking up a pill that had fallen to the ground and popping it in his mouth.  No one could say what it was, but the possibilities were frightening, so off he and Daddy went.  (He was fine.)

4. The fact that Polar Vortex the First had made it impossible for about half the hospital staff to come to work the day after Madeleine’s arrival, so nurses were working double shifts, doctors were simply camping out at the hospital, essential employees were being brought in by hospital-owned Hummers (still not even joking), and the kitchen was simply sending around whatever meals it felt equipped to throw together, delivering to the wards in the order dictated to it by some mysterious algorithm of its own devising.  I will only say that the maternity ward was at the end of this schedule because, as the kitchen employee informed me when depositing my ice-cold eggs and toast at 10:30am, “Someone said they thought the mothers would like to sleep in for a bit.”  

Because, naturally, the arrival of our breakfasts was the only thing keeping us from getting our full 8 hours.

Resurrected post I

Alright.  I am five months behind on this blog, at least.  In fact, I don’t even know if that’s a true statement because I haven’t even been on my own blog yet to check to see how far behind I am.  So, before I can launch into new things, I have to first dig up all of the old new things in posts that never saw the light of publish.  

…and I’m not going to polish these at all, ’cause honestly, if they sat around this long waiting for that spit and shine, the odds aren’t really in favor of successful (read: completed) editing.  

So.  First, a draft dated December 30, 2013:

******

Hoo, lots to catch up on!  [Look at that!  An unpublished post about how I haven’t published any posts!  We’re getting a little meta here.]

1. Dominic is walking, all the time now!  He began cruising when Gran and Grandpa came to visit us in September, (giving himself a beautiful bruise on his chin when he cruised his way off the end of the footrest under the bar.)  Several weeks later, Grandma Mary came to stay, along with her walker, which Dominic immediately and gleefully claimed as his own.  He could often be seen trundling along under the front of the walker, holding onto the bar, while Grandma Mary pushed the handles behind.  Grandpa Vince, witnessing all of this on Skype, saw an opportunity and bought baby a walker wagon, which Dominic immediately loved and used to race Grandma around the kitchen.

Within a month, Dominic was taking a few hesitant steps between his parents on the living room rug, with more intentional collapses and giggles than distance covered.  Distance didn’t really enter the picture until Uncle Paul, Aunt Valerie, and Malea came to stay in early November; suddenly, with his aunt and uncle as targets, Dominic decided to cross the length of the kitchen, casual as you please, to the cheers and claps of an appreciative audience.  His next big leap forward happened at Gran and Grandpa’s over Thanksgiving; surrounded by the entire Cabaniss side of the family, Dominic began taking more and more solo trips across longer and longer distances, most likely to better keep up with his highly-mobile cousins.  After that, there was no looking back, hesitating, or clinging to mommy’s fingers (much).  Dominic quickly decided that he was done with crawling, and no amount of initial unsteadiness would deter him.

Moral of the story: Dominic will only decide to apply himself to learning new skills when he feels he has a sufficient audience of extended family around to cheer on his every move.

2. Part of this whole “done with crawling” attitude is, unfortunately, a refusal to crawl up and down the stairs.  He wants to WALK them, thank you very much, despite being hilariously unable to actually do this yet.  …the less hilarious part is when he starts off at the top of the stairs, extends one leg out straight in front of him, and pitches face-first.  Sadly, tumbles down the stairs don’t seem to deter him much.

3. bobbing and weaving walk, with wide, dramatic hand gestures and lots of babbling

4. gestures: imitating us a lot more: talking on the telephone, everything from our cell phones to upside-down spatulas.  I pump lotion into my hand, he immediately grins and starts rubbing his hands together.  Working on his new puzzle, he can’t figure out where to put the pieces yet, but he’ll place one randomly on the board, then tap one of the holes with his index finger, the way Mommy does when she works the puzzle with him.  Also finally learned to give high-fives and shake hands; still working on the fist-bump.

5. Taking Christmas presents to the neighbors two days before Christmas, on a night that was bitterly cold.  We bundled him up in his giant puffer coat, stuffed his hands into a set of mittens, put a Santa hat on his head, and loaded his walker wagon with little baggies and tins of goodies to distribute.  It was as screamingly adorable as you’re picturing.  Phillip carried him and the wagon to the driveway of each unit, then put him down and pointed him towards the door, while I ran the video camera and rang the doorbell.  Phillip had already made the rounds of the units to make sure everyone was home before we started out, so everyone was ready at their doors, with enormous smiles and squeals of admiration and a few camera phone shots.

After his initial uncertainty about the whole project, Dominic began enjoying all the attention, and we usually had to hold him back from offering each neighbor all the goodies in his wagon.  He smiled and gave high-fives and even a few kisses on request, and generally cemented our position as Best Neighbors on the East Race.  (We’ll post the videos as soon as we can figure out how to get them off the camera, onto my computer, and into a format that we can actually post!)

5.

****

What that fifth point was going to be, who knows.  Possibly something about my enormous belly and the impending arrival of the second Munoz spawn, which I expected to be about three weeks away.  

So, so wrong. 

 

(Backlog of firsts)

On some day recently, he discovered:

Feet are ticklish.  Apparently, this is not just laughter-inducing for whatever reflexive reason we laugh when tickled — he seems to find it genuinely funny that his feet produce that sensation.

He can get himself, on his own steam, from one floor of the house to another.  The first time he tried it, he paused at the landing half-way up, turned to look up at the top of the stairs, and grinned with a sudden realization:  “I’m going to *do* this!”  When he made it to the top, he sat down for a few seconds in what looked like amazement, then laughed hilariously and scampered away.  (The howling that ensued when I had to pick him up and carry him downstairs for bed sounded like heart-break!)

The concept of intentionality.  At his cousins’ house in Omaha, I tossed an inflated balloon in his direction as he sat with his back to me.  As the balloon bounced off his head, he immediately turned to look — not at the balloon, but at the direction the balloon came from.  He looked back and forth suspiciously between his aunt and me, but it was clear he knew one of us had thrown it!  (When I marveled at this to his aunt, she replied, “Yes.  In contrast to his three-year-old cousin, who said that his ball disappeared because the fairies took it.  And when his father came up behind him and dropped it in his lap, he stared at it wide-eyed and said, “The fairies!!!”)

Light switches.

That little knob on the front of the washing machine that selects the setting.

The cupboards *above* the counter.

LIFE cereal.

Today’s first

…discovering that his chubby finger fits perfectly inside his nose.  Joy.

(This should not be confused with his discovery last night: that a chubby finger with a sharp fingernail, when inserted in *Mommy’s* nose with just the right amount of force, can produce a substantial flow of blood.  Double joy.)

In which I convince you to read *lots* of text by promising tons of cute photos.

Oh.

Hi.

Um, we have a baby.  Still.  Still have a baby.

In fact, we have *another* baby now, too, though this one won’t make an appearance for several more months yet.  (Yay, us!)  We have a few other things now that we didn’t have before, too: mainly, a looming dissertation deadline, brought on by the immanent appearance of said second baby.  Thus, all a good chunk of my free time for the past several months has been taken up by dissertation-writing.

The free time not taken up by writing has been taken up by time-wasting, in a half-hearted attempt to rest and avoid writing but without actually committing to not writing by doing anything fun/constructive/creative, etc.   So, all in all, not good for blogging.

Meanwhile, Baby has been providing his father and I with months and months of eminently recordable material, which we will agonize over having lost forever because Mommy didn’t actually record any of it.

Sigh.

Want a four-month recap?  In no particular order!

1. Baby is finally crawling.  He was so loathe for so long to actually work on self-propulsion that his doctor recommended he be tested for a delay.   A week before the assessment team was due to check him out, he went from rocking back and forth on his hands and knees, to tentatively lifting up one knee in a, “is there something I’m supposed to do with this?” kind of way, to shuffling his knees forwards (and backwards) in random movements, to BARRELING ACROSS THE ROOM AT 15 MILES AN HOUR.

Well, not really.  But that’s how it seems in retrospect.  He finally figured out how to propel himself forward in tiny, shuffling movements, with pigeon-toed feet tripping over one another, just in time for the assessment team to declare him “normal” at 11 months.  From there it was all about increasing his coordination and his strength, which he did surprisingly quickly.  (Now we have a child who looks as though he’s never encountered the concept of “delay” in his life.  Everything he wants must happen NOW.)  His hands, knees, and the tops of his socks are usually  black by the end of the day, which he no doubt considers to be the sign of a day well-seized.  Mommy considers this a horrible commentary on the state of her floors.

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2. Once he started crawling, it was as though his entire personality changed overnight.  That statement actually isn’t so much of an exaggeration.  Once he realized that he could move himself whenever and wherever he wished… suddenly lights clicked on in his brain in the previously dimly-lit room labeled “Will.”  His curiosity exploded, and he became immediately obsessed with dismantling/unloading/unpacking/gutting/eviscerating any and every object that contains other objects: magazine racks, kitchen cabinets, mommy’s purse, garbage cans, you name it.  He also began launching himself at objects of interest with surprising force and without regard to the likelihood of cracking his head following a 4-foot drop to the floor if he happens to be on the changing table or in Mommy’s arms.

Most of all, he became *stubborn.*  Actually, make that “imperious.”  My sweet, laid-back little baby hit the Terrible Two’s at 12 months.  Any delay — or, heaven forbid, refusal — of his desires produces tantrums any toddler would be proud of.  (To be honest, this is still a little funny to his mother.  Something about so much rage in so tiny a body is just kind of adorable.  “Aw, you actually think you’re the first person to come up with the idea of throwing things to get what you want!  That’s really cute, sweetie.  It’s still ‘no’.”)

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3.  He’s playing more games with us.  Many of them he has made up himself and finds hilarious, like grabbing the shopping list out of Mommy’s hand and tossing it over the edge of the grocery cart.  When we join in the game, he gives a belly-laugh that wrinkles his nose and squints his eyes and is pretty much the most adorable thing ever.  Which is why Mommy is perpetually picking her shopping list up off the floor.

He also loves all rough-housing games with Daddy: he gets tossed in the air, swung upside down, “dropped”, and carried under his father’s arm like a football or a sack of potatoes.  (This last one earns us some dirty looks from middle-aged women in parking lots who no doubt think his father is abusing the defenseless little angel.)  Phillip has to be perpetually on the alert, though, as Dominic will often unilaterally decide to be swung upside down and vault himself backwards out of Daddy’s arms.

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4. He sings along to “Wheels on the Bus,” which is currently the only song that will keep him from having a fit when his diaper is changed.

[Us]: “The wheels on the bus go ROUND and round…”
[Baby]: “ba ba ba… BA ba ba!”  *grin, nose-wrinkle*

This is now our favorite parlor trick to showcase our baby’s adorableness to strangers.  He now also sings along to other songs I sing to him, with the same “ba ba ba” accompaniment.  *Also*, it appears that he has some ability to match pitch and rhythm: if I hum two notes, he will often hum them back to me.  If I sing three, he’ll give me three back, more or less on pitch.

[Update: he has now started singing at Mass, but it’s different than his “ba-ba-ing” at home.  I think it must have a lot to do with the fact that there is the full accompaniment of musical instruments at Mass.  Whatever the reason, when he finds himself surrounded by hundreds of voices lifted in song, and the organ and violin and guitar and flutes coming down from the choir loft, Dominic will get a slightly far-off look and begin…actually singing.  Atonally, of course, but with sustained notes that change pitch: “Ahhhhh ahhh AHHHHH, ba ba ba ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…..”  Kills.  Me.]

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5. He absolutely loves other children and occasionally shows his affection by attacking them in a violently enthusiastic embrace aimed at their heads.  We had some friends stay with us for a weekend with their six children, ranging from 12 years to 2 months, and Dominic was in heaven.  One afternoon, he and two of the little boys sat playing with his bead maze.  For 5 full minutes, Dominic just looked back and forth between the other two and giggled periodically, or reached out a hand to pat their faces.  (George, the 3-year-old, was equally taken with him, and asked for “Donny-mic” first thing on waking up in the mornings.)

He’s also a terrible flirt.  Just this evening, we caught him making eyes at a cute 4-year-old sitting with her parents in the pew across the aisle at Mass.  Catching her attention, he crawled onto the ledge of the side of the pew and waved at her with his whole arm, from the shoulder, like he was hailing a taxi.  The other day at Target, he watched three little girls with their mothers walk past us down the aisle, leaning out of the side of the cart to catch a better view as he did so, until they finally turned the corner.  Then he looked directly up at his mother and grrrrrinnnnned.

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In his defense, Dominic is just as often the object of the flirting as he is the perpetrator.  Only in his case, it’s middle-aged women, the elderly, cashiers, female undergrads, Starbucks barristas, grocery baggers, parishioners sitting in surrounding pews, receptionists, nurses, high school students, and pretty much everyone in the world except modeling agents.  (So far.  Daddy and I aim to rectify this oversight.)  As proud as it makes his mother, it’s actually on the verge of getting old, mostly because of the burden it puts on me to stop whatever I’m doing and make small-talk with complete strangers every five minutes.

“Oh, my good-ness, will you LOOK at that cherub?!?  Those cheeks!  I just want to—”
“Yes, yes, he’s adorable, blah blah.  Can I have my groceries, please?”

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6. He babbles incessantly, using about every consonant and vowel combination imaginable in an unending stream of commentary, generally complete with arm-waving, until the moment a stranger stops to talk to him.  Then, dead silence and a long stare under lowered brows.

7. Sorting.  This child is a sorting fiend.  It started after we got back from Seattle in July; as I was emptying out my suitcase, he found himself surrounded by piles of clothes.  He immediately began picking them up one by one, passing them from his right hand to his left in a furiously efficient way, and tossing them behind him.  He did this until every single piece of clothing had been thrown into this pile…then he turned around and began doing it in the other direction.  This was literally his favorite activity for MONTHS.  We could keep him happily (and silently) occupied for a full 20 minutes when we needed to get work done by just dumping a pile of clean diapers or laundry at his feet.  In our first few hours home from a recent trip, Dominic celebrated our return by emptying: two kitchen cupboards, his father’s work-out shirt drawer, a bathroom cabinet, and his toy shelves and baskets of every. single. one. of his toys.

Now his sorting has become more complex — things have to go into things.  As I’m typing this, I’m watching him pick up his toys, one by one, and crawl with them over to the end table, where he stashes them on the bottom shelf.  Earlier today, I found all four plastic bottles I’d given him to play with stashed neatly underneath Daddy’s chair.

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8.   He is now imitating a lot of the things we do around the house.  Hand him his comb and he will immediately try to brush his hair; he wants his little fingertip toothbrush whenever he sees Daddy brushing his teeth in the mornings; it’s easiest to keep him occupied while I cook if I hand him a little bowl and spoon for him to “stir”.  He has no idea how to put his own socks on, but he wants to try, and heaven forbid if you try to feed him and don’t give him his own utensil to jab into the bowl while you do so.   He is also starting to imitate the sounds we make more closely, too: pitch, inflection, rhythm, etc.  (Go, “mmm-mmmm!” when you feed him his food, and he’ll do it right back to you!)

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9.  …which leads us to: his first word!  …well, according to me.  Daddy remains skeptical, for reasons of prejudice.  Dominic has been babbling for a long time, and “mamamamama” and “dadadadada” are among his favorite sounds.  We weren’t sure he was actually associating these sounds with us, though, until about two weeks ago.  Dominic and I were upstairs, when I realized I needed to fetch an item from the kitchen.  I told Dominic I’d be right back, and headed downstairs.  He continued to play quietly for a few moments, when I suddenly heard, drifting down from the head of the stairs, a clear and plaintive: “MA-MA!”

Yeah.  That counts.  🙂

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