Jack and Carolyn: An Update.

There were some very exciting developments in our house this weekend…

That, my friends, is undeniable evidence that my baby boy is now a spirited, ferocious, independent toddler. On Friday, Rob removed the front of Jack’s crib and replaced it with the guardrail attachment. Jack had climbed out of his crib twice in one day, and so I decided it was time to make the big switch, rather than risk an injury.

So far, it’s been a little bit of a challenge. The first day, we made an unsuccessful nap attempt. Jack was apprehensive about his upgraded bed, and since he wasn’t restricted to it, he spent an hour and a half playing with his toys. Things have since improved- he has spent three nights in the bed, and fallen out twice (I put a papasan chair cushion underneath the gap in the rail, so he’s completely cushioned). From what I’ve read and heard, it takes some time for children to get used to staying within the boundaries of a bed. Honestly…I don’t believe that Jack is 100% ready for a toddler bed, but he is too active to be in a crib, so I’m not left with any other options. He is extremely excited about the idea, and happily shows his new bed off to everyone that comes over, so I’m trying to capitalize on that and make it into something fun and exciting. He hasn’t taken a nap in it yet- that’s tomorrow’s project!

His verbal skills have made a huge leap forward- he can now express himself in three-word sentences! Mostly he likes to tell me what to do (“Mama sitdown bed!”), or ask for things (“Mama treat cookie!”), but he will also tell me stories or communicate his feelings. The latter point is probably the most exciting- I have been looking forward to hearing Jack tell me how he feels, what’s bothering him, or what he’s thinking.

Among other things, he can now say: fire truck, kitty, no, yes, please/por favor, thank you/gracias, Grammie, Grampie, James, Ron, Madrina, almond butter, bread, treat, apple/manzana, peach, strawberry, blueberry, cheerio, bed/cama, bear/oso, blanket/sabana, Hello!, all done, night night, boo-boo, rain, boom-boom, more/mas, teeth, guitar, Mama, Dada, toot toot, tractor, big truck, up/arriba, down/abajo, outside/afuera, I love you, agua, fix, Batman, Superman, ciao, I fell down!, and bunny.

We have also introduced decision making. Jack will pick out what he wants to wear, eat, and even do during the day (within reason). I think it gives him a sense of independence to have control over things like that- and why shouldn’t he? He’s wearing the clothes, he’s eating the food, so those should be things that he chooses. I am also hoping that it teaches him to make healthy choices. Favorite foods: blueberries, strawberries, puffed kamut cereal, oatmeal, bananas, kale chips, hummus, any soup, peaches, farro, lentils, almond butter, cookies, water. Dislikes: tomatoes, yellow squash, raspberries.

His fascination with “toot toots” is still going strong. He loves anything with wheels or wings. He went on his first roller coaster ride at the Grange Fair this year, and it was the highlight of his life.

As he gets older, his awareness of the existence of ‘toot toots’ outside of his toy box is growing. The other day we took a walk around Newtown, and passed by the Firehouse. The doors were up and you could see the engines from the street, and Jack went wild- he was so excited! One of the firefighters came over, showed him the fire truck, and gave him a little plastic fire hat!

Jack is wonderfully silly, but not hyperactive. He has incredible patience for his age, can play independently for hours, and rarely puts up a fight for anything. He does have a temper, and doesn’t like to be reprimanded, but he is also easily redirected. He has exceptional determination. He loves his sister, but can be over-enthusiastic at times. We’re working on that one.

I can’t believe he’s the same little boy that I brought home from the hospital two years ago. He is such a little person now, with so much personality. He has definite likes and dislikes, can express himself, has complex emotions, understands questions and gentle, non-negotiable suggestions (Jack, why don’t we go take a nap?), sleeps in a toddler bed, and rides a tricycle. He is so engaged with the world around him, so eager to experience all it has to offer.

The most difficult thing for me to believe is that this is only the very beginning. He has a life full of developmental milestones ahead of him! It is also hard to believe that very soon, Carolyn will be doing all of these things too.

Carolyn is on the brink of full mobility! She is a champion crawler and can pull herself to standing on just about anything. She hasn’t yet stood up on her own, but I have a feeling that’s not far off. She is wonderfully curious, but anything that she finds ends up in her mouth, so we’ve had to be hyper-vigilant about vacuuming and keeping smaller toys up high. She is full of personality, and very clear about what she does and does not enjoy doing.

Some of her favorite activities include: being held by Mommy, being tickled, making funny faces, exploring the house, climbing the single step up into the kitchen, chasing the kitties, eating with her hands, and taking a bath. She is not so hot on: having her diaper changed, getting dressed, having something taken away, being in her car seat for more than 30 minutes, sleeping independently.

The biggest development for Carolyn is actually ongoing- her introduction to solid foods! She is a good little eater, but prefers to do things her way. She wants nothing to do with spoons, preferring instead to eat with her hands- which means the only purees we’re doing are the Ella’s Kitchen pouches. I have been cutting up soft fruits, veggies, and cooked beans for her to munch on, and it’s a lot of fun eating breakfast each morning as a threesome.

So far we have had: black beans, lentils, chickpeas, banana, avocado, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, softened apples, pears, figs, eggplant, spinach, cantaloupe, whole grain bread, rice puffs, puffed kamut cereal, oatmeal, millet, tofu, carrots, watermelon, and kiwi. I have been introducing new foods as often as possible (while still keeping an eye out for any allergic reaction), in the hope that it will help Carolyn to appreciate a variety of healthy foods. So far, so good!

Honestly, I am amazed at how different she and Jack are. I can see their individual personalities shining through, and it’s hilarious to see how different they are, and in which ways. Carolyn hates her car seat, while Jack is a fantastic road tripper. Jack is a picky eater, and likes familiar foods- Carolyn will try (and so far, eat) anything. Carolyn is slim and long, while Jack is stockier. Carolyn tends to jump right in to things- her introduction to pools and water was great, but Jack has always been very apprehensive. Jack has always been able to entertain himself for extended periods of time- Carolyn maxes out after 15-20 minutes. Jack got his first teeth really early, Carolyn is still rocking the gummy smile. Carolyn hates being fed with a spoon, but Jack used to love it.

And then there are the similarities- they both have great big brown eyes, soft dark hair, healthy appetites, and they both love animals blankets, the cats, climbing things, bananas, my cell phone, and the outdoors. Watching them grow up together is already such a joy- and we’ve only just started out! Of course, sometimes we have days that are more challenging…

…but most of the time we have fun just being together. If you had told me a few years ago that I would be in love with motherhood at this point in my life, I probably would have laughed in your face. Somehow, I took a detour from the path to nothingness and wound up here, raising two wondrous children and absolutely bursting with ambition.
Jack and Carolyn have changed my life in so many wonderful ways, I can only sit back and marvel at how fortunate we are to have found each other in the world.

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