Day 298

Dear Elliot,

You are going to be trouble, kid. Trouble with a capital “T”. In the last week alone you have discovered the joys of pulling both DVDs and books out of the shelves upon which they reside. All over my floor. With very little care and much abandon as you seem to be having a rip roaring time. When Genevieve was little, everyone warned us that we would have to put locks on all the doors, everything breakable up high and, well, pretty much everything up high where it could not be reached by little hands. And then she never seemed interested in touching anything.

Ok, so that’s not quite true. She was particularly attached (and still is) to riffling through my handbag and dislodging all the contents across the floor but she never went for my bookshelves. They weren’t that interesting to her. To you, they are awesome opportunities for mischief. And other items of my furniture, such as chairs and coffee tables, are structures under which you can reverse and hide. Or get stuck which prompts a distress call from you so we know where you are but you will very soon figure out how to extricate yourself from situations that you don’t want to be in and from that point, I think we are just going to start losing you.

ej_22nov3

You can certainly get yourself around now. You have been somewhat mobile recently but today you figured out the whole opposing arm and leg thing that is required for the crawl. You haven’t mastered the art. You alternate between weight bearing on the knee in order to push forward and just bringing the whole leg underneath you as if you were going to push yourself up onto your feet. So crawling looks a little like a drunken, limping crab. Moving forwards (thus the drunken part) and dragging a limb as though part of it had atrophied and wasn’t bending in the proper form.

This of course hampers your speed a little but you are a smart cookie. You will either figure out that you are just going to have to get both your feet underneath you and start walking if you hope to be able to catch up to your sister or you will become a ninja crawler and disappear silently. A lot. We’re not really looking forward to that. I have contemplated setting up a port-a-cot permanently in the living area to put you in if I can’t watch you like a hawk. To the best of my knowledge, you don’t know how to climb out of those yet and your sister isn’t big enough or strong enough to easily lift you out of them (note I only said easily lift) so I am reasonably confident that you would stay where I had put you. You just might be a little ticked off. Which is another thing that does not bode especially well for your father’s and my stress levels in the future.

ej_22nov2

You are going to want to move and to explore. You will want to touch and to try and to test. Experiencing things is going to be high on your hit list. And anyone who dares to say nay is going to get a big cheeky grin as you go ahead and do it anyway. I am hoping that your penchant is going to be a little more scientific than careless. Inquisitive rather than destructive. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the outcome would always be different but at least if you can learn that it matters why you do something (not to mention have the best of intentions), I am hoping that this will help to put in you in a good place. And help us to keep you engaged. Cause I gotta tell you that I don’t have a lot of prior experience with energetic boys and you are going to be a handful. A delightful, hilarious handful.

You are already quite adept at charming the pants off people. You copy most of your sister’s crazy facial expressions and your face is pure joy when you smile. That never gets old. You are totally in the moment and you are just…happy. Others remark on it too. You certainly have your moments when you let us now that everything is Not Cricket but most of the time you are my happy-go-lucky little joy. I love this stage. You are still a baby and not yet a toddler. You are learning to do things by yourself, gaining some independence, millimetre by millimetre. You are discovering the world around you and slowly growing into your own personhood but you are still my snuggly Boo. Until you fling your arm across my windpipe for leverage to turn yourself outwards in my arms because wherever I am looking is bound to be far more entertaining than looking at me, right? That is what I really dislike about this stage. I’m just saying.

ej_22nov1

But I love you to bits, Boo and I am looking forward to whatever comes next.

Much love,
Mama

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Day 276

Dear Elliot,

I am so bad at keeping up with everything new for you. I think of things as they happen but invariably don’t write them down. You change all the time but then there are some things that for whatever reason, I find more remarkable than others. Most recently;

You have learned how to clap. Or rather we can recognise that you know how to clap on purpose. We see you repeat the motion to have fun and we see you recognise and copy the action from us. Its such a small thing to me when I say it but it feels lovely to build part of that language between us that doesn’t consist of words. We love you and we want to share ourselves with you. You adore us in return and want to show us how you are learning to be like us. It connects us. It is not merely something we observe in you but something that we have been part of and continue to share. You are very cute when you do it too.

ej_29oct

You have also learned to suck a bottle. Not something specifically cute but totally useful. You are very much on solids now and getting enough water into you has been more of a challenge until now. We have tried to give you sippy cups that tip and others that don’t but the act of extracting water from them has so far been beyond you. We have never given you milk in a bottle so you have never particularly had to learn to stay nourished but it seems that after exposure and perhaps a little sibling example, you will now drink water from a bottle. You haven’t mastered the art of letting air back into the bottle. You would rather just keep on sucking till all of the inside comes outside which unfortunately for you will never happen. You can’t actually suck a golf ball through a garden hose my son. Just so as you know. You are now able to get water and stay hydrated though. This is a big plus.

You have shown us that you can use your smarts too. Particularly when in involves getting something to eat. Your dexterity and fine motor skills are improving all the time but your father noticed the other day that you have already created workarounds to compensate for what you are still unable to accomplish. When watching you eat, one could be forgiven for thinking that you just wanted to make a mess but there is method in your madness. When you can’t get a little bit of something, you will spread a lot of something across the tray of your highchair. You will spread it out finely enough that you can manage to pick up individual pieces of whatever is in front of you. And if they are too slippery or small or just inconvenient to pinch your fingers around, then you will use that spread to isolate a piece of what you want and swipe it towards the edge of the tray so that you can just close your whole hand around it to pick it up and jam it in your mouth. There is such concentration and ingenuity there. It is impressive to watch.

ej_29oct-2

Your core strength is impressive too. Hardly surprising though as you have liked bearing weight on your feet for quite a while. Now though, you are starting to pull yourself up on things. You are desperate to walk. I can see the frustration in your eyes. Why can’t I do this?!? You will get there little buddy, I promise. You are definitely putting in a valiant effort at the moment and managing to stand for much longer than a couple of seconds as long as you can lean against something. Part of me wants you to get there because I can see that you passionately want to move. The other part of me thinks please stay my baby and don’t become my toddler. At least not yet. Stay in the jolly jumper a bit longer. That’s like a compromise, isn’t it?

We have brought this out for you recently and you seem to thinks its fantastic. You are not one of those kids who will happily stay in there for an hour but you are usually good for 15-20 minutes with some music. You jump madly and laugh to yourself, usually as you are watching your sister do some crazy dancing. We usually have to make her let you do it for yourself at some point and you go for broke. We can have your toes just touching the floor and you will push to the point that you get slack on the spring. We have to keep moving the wire up.

ej_29oct-3

And there are doubtless other things that I have forgotten to mention as they are rolled into the day to day process of us moving forwards with our lives. We do notice little things though and celebrate with you as we see them. Even if they don’t all make it in here.

Much love,
Mama

Day 203

Dear Elliot,

Where do you put the food little man? I mean really? It was only a couple of days ago that you were hardly eating anything solid or being slightly subsidised by broth…

EJAug16-2

Food with you is definitely an adventure. None of this introduction of one taste at a time crap. Boring!! No bland fare is to be passed by your lips either, no siree. Forget those baby food mixes from the supermarket! You expect to be fed with whatever we are eating and damn it, you expect to be fed well. As I have mentioned before, you have not been partial to the introduction of either pear or banana on their own. That was apparently an insult to your tastebuds. I mean how patronising can parents get?!? But Bepi’s beef casserole? Well that was acceptable. And Grandad’s chicken lentil stew? That was also sufficient. Simply put, complex tastes are the go.

EJAug16

Since we got home, we have been trying to feed you at least part of what we have been eating for our main meal. On several occasions this has meant syringing the liquid parts of our meals into your mouth (thus the broth) but you have been quite obvious that you expect to be included from now on. You are more than ready apparently, its just the parents who have been a bit slow on the uptake and are still catching up.

EJAug16-5

To be fair, we have discovered that some raw foods are ok. Genevieve would never have had a bar of this but if we give you actual carrot sticks to munch on, you are as happy as a clam. For a while. And just today you amused yourself with actual slices of apple but it seems that any preparation beyond slicing and into cooking requires the addition of a number of other ingredients. Like guacamole.

EJAug16-4

And holy guacamole, you can eat that stuff till the cows come home. You went to playgroup the other morning and apparently ate a pancake. Then your dad made guacamole as part of lunch and just thought why not give you a bit of a taste? You had a lot of a taste. Then, not thinking you would be that hungry, we gave you some more guacamole mixed with banana for dinner. You finished that and started looking for the next course. We then tried to give you the rest of the mashed potato we had tried on a previous night. The rest of the mashed potato that contained no milk and no butter. No seasoning at all. Bad move apparently. The look on your face said it all.

I HAVE BEEN BETRAYED!

There you were, sitting there, all innocent and trusting. We were feeding you and you were enjoying the fulfilling tastes when suddenly we callously ripped the carpet out from underneath you. It was dinner after dessert. It was just plain wrong. Sorry about that little dude. We may be slow to catch up but we’ll get there.

Much love,
Mama

Day 185

Dear Elliot,

Oh My Goodness. You can actually sleep through the night! I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it but you totally did between 11 and 12 hours straight. I must admit, I even checked on you at one point to make sure you were still alive. There you were though, sleeping peacefully. I wish I knew what it was that made it so though. In this strange bed (portacot) on a different mattress (foam) in someone else’s house (Bepi’s), in a new location (up the coast) when every semblance of a routine that you would previously have known has been shot to pieces (we are on holiday), you sleep through the night. Figures.

EJJul16-4

And, I was mildly perturbed by the fact that in terms of offering me a break, you already seem to be in cahoots with your sister. I wasn’t actually able to enjoy your sessions of extended slumber as on the marathon sleep night and the neighbouring few where your shortest stretch of comatoseness was 6 hours, Genevieve suffered some extremely broken nights of sleep. So I was still up and down. Several times. It does offer me hope for the future though. Even if it is distant. Because when I say the future, I do mean weeks and perhaps months away from where we are now.

EJJul16-3

Despite the fact that you so beautifully and swiftly graduated to a full night’s sleep, I am definitely not naïve enough to either assume that this will continue for the rest of the holiday or indeed return once we are at home. Some would probably say that you should believe in something to make it happen but I don’t think I have a defeatist attitude. I think I’m realistic. I’ll take it when I get it and be grateful and you will get there on a regular basis in your own time….and, you know, since I never got to take advantage in the first place, I never really had it so theres not much to miss.

EJJul16

Any time you feel like doing 12 hours again though, try and pick a night where you sister is also out for the count for the whole night. That would be awesome.

Much love,
Mama

Day 170

Dear Elliot,

Or perhaps I should say Boo. Not as in Peek-a-boo. Or like surprise but merely hey there my little Boo Bear. You are now to be known and recognised as Boo.

Genevieve got known as Genibean from very early on as an alternative to her Christian name and she also has the (mis)fortune to additionally answer to Missy Moo, Crazy Pants and Chicken Noodle. You have at times been referred to as Chicken Pants (like that’s an actual thing?*) or as your father seems to favour at times, Mr Magoo. Your sister frequently repeats this as Mr Gagoo and won’t hear any correction but neither are names I ever use for you. I seem to have settled on Boo.

As names go, I don’t think its that bad. There are definitely worse ones. Your Aunt Ishy was known as Fruitbat for years so you shouldn’t complain. And who knows, it might not stick beyond your toddler years which I’m sure aren’t far away. On the other hand, it just may be like your shadow from now on. But no matter how big you get, I think there will always be a part of you that is my little Boo. Just saying.

EJJuly16

And I also want to say sorry about the Play School concert. In hindsight, we really should have brought the noise reduction headphones for you because you completely freaked out with the sheer volume of noise and rambunctious children. I am sure that you will enjoy that sort of thing one day but on this particular occasion, you found that somewhat distressing. We will do better next time. Promise.

Much love,
Mama

Day 156

Dear Elliot,

There are so many times throughout the week when something you do will strike me just so or when I have the thought now this is different. Times when I want to say…

EJJune16-4

Dude. Don’t bite. Your teeth hurt! You have two teeth now. You got them a little later than your sister but now you have two bottom teeth right at the front. I’m sure that the advent each tooth makes your mouth a little sore as before they arrived, you would clamp down more often than not when you were feeding. It wasn’t just the closed jaw though. Your mouth also felt…abrasive. It feels that way again now but I have not yet seen a new tooth through yet. I could really do without the biting though. That would be nice.

EJJune16-3

I love watching you reach for things and try to figure them out. You no longer bat your hands around randomly as if in reaction to a spasm. Now you can reach specifically for what you can see in front of you. And put it straight in your mouth. My fingers. Your toys. The tassels on my hoodie. You love those. Your fingers are strong and when they latch on, they don’t want to let go. You use them to explore the world around you. Including your toes. You find touching them fascinating as well. You can see them and you can feel them at the same time as you grab hold. Its cool huh? Theres only so much give though because as flexible as you are as a baby, you are not a contortionist.

EJJune16-2

People often ask me how I am sleeping with a young baby and usually, that is pretty well. You frequently sleep for between 3 and 5 hours at night. You feed without fuss and then go straight back to sleep again. What has changed over the past couple of days though is going down for that first stretch. I could usually gauge when you were that mix of tired and hungry that I could feed you just asleep but now its like the milk can only get you 90% of the way there. Oh, you droop your eyelids and start to relax but as soon as I pull you off my lap? Game over. You are awake. I then pace and pat and sing and sway. Get you to that stage where you constantly aaahhhhhh so you finally succumb to slumber.

We have tried to give you food a couple of times recently. Real food. Not that you seem at all impressed by this. From the look on your face, you’d think we were trying to poison you. Or at least trick you into something bad. You seem incredibly intrigued when we are eating. You follow the path of food to mouth frequently and watch in wonder as meals are consumed but when it comes to trying it out yourself, you are decidedly not a fan. Not of apple or pear or banana or anything else we have given to you. If you are not ready yet though, that is fine. In another month or so we might have another battle on our hands but for now, you win.

EJJune16

One thing that hasn’t changed is your beautiful cheeky smile. The one you give us when you should be going back to sleep but have no intention of doing so. Your lopsided grin when your dad is making faces and it amuses you, your toothy grin when Genevieve is singing and dancing in front of you and it makes you happy. Your surprised giggle when your merriment is too much to still keep inside is also one of my favourite things. You are going to be a heartbreaker when you grow up. You and your dimples.

Much love,
Mama

Day 126

Dear Elliot,

I must say that over the last week or so, you have become very chatty. Sometimes you are more a baby who will watch the world go by and wait to be entertained by those around you but sometimes you squawk away with intonation and intent, just as though you are having an in depth chat with us. You’re not very quiet but you are in earnest and its rather charming. Well, up until its at a slightly inappropriate moment. Then we do the sheepish parent thing and say sorry for the interruption – you are just trying to join in with everyone. And you do like to join in sometimes.

EJMay16-2

Your Dad is convinced that you actively play peek-a-boo with us now. If we start by hiding eyes and then revealing them, you might give us a big grin as though this is the best game out. And then, if we hand over a burp cloth to you, you will put it up over your face yourself and then jerk it down repeatedly, appearing thrilled whenever we have responded with the requisite “peek-a-boo”. Your whole face lights up when you smile which you do regularly. Starting first thing in the morning when we get you up for the day. I’ll hear you stirring and squirming around and as soon as I peer over the side of the cradle to see you, you’re like well hey, you’ve come to get me haven’t you, you are AWESOME.

EJMay16-3

And that’s another thing. You have been graduated to the cradle in our room now. You are no longer in the bassinet. You are getting so big that you practically took up the whole thing. I was partly concerned that you no longer had enough room to really be comfortable and mostly concerned that you if you stayed used to that, it would suck big time when we try to transition you to the cot. What can I say, I like my sleep.

Much love,
Mama