Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sam on Anna's Birthday

Today is Anna's fourth birthday, and Sam spent much of the day trailing his big sister. He succeeded in climbing up onto her bed all by himself. He also climbed all the stairs at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery this morning - very nonchalantly, as if he climbs stairs all the time, even though we have no stairs in the house for him to practice on.

The great mystery at our house this week is what "a-duh-a-duh-a-duh" might mean. Sam says it all day, and insistently. It clearly means something. We think it might be a general noun - "toy"? "book"? or even something more generic such as "that"? When we point out things Sam might be interested in, he understands when we say "look" and follows a pointing finger with curiosity. If we say, "Oh, isn't that beautiful?" he repeats, "Oh!" in a short, sharp imitation.

Sam is determined to get more teeth than the four he has managed to grow so far. He is looking forward to being able to chew better. With his four little front choppers, he does a mean job biting into toast fingers and peeling apples to chomping into their flesh and prying corn kernels off cobs. He tries to chew things with non-existent molars, fails (because, hey, the molars don't exist) and then bits fall out of his mouth. He uses his dextrous little fingers to pick up any bits that fall and he delicately puts them into his mouth, and the cycle continues.

Sam isn't quite walking but isn't far off. He is able to move from standing to squatting to sitting with great ease and to edge around tables and chairs. He manoeuvres into corners and stands unsupported for quite a while before he notices and then he gently lowers himself to the ground.

I go back to work in such a short time - just six weeks or so - but Sam is uninterested in formula or in reducing his nursing. He's polite about our offers of bottles and is delighted by the action of shaking a bottle to mix in the powdered formula. He just doesn't consider it FOOD. I can't say I blame him, because I don't consider it food either, so I've decided to wait three weeks and see if he's willing to give another try to an adapted schedule. We took another conflict resolution course last week and he only had to join me at lunch time.

Sam is a morning bird, happy to wake at 5:30 a.m. if he can get away with it. He makes sure to wake both his mom and his dad with happy morning crowing, though he rarely succeeds in getting both of us out of bed at once.

His sense of humour is getting more and more defined, too. When anyone laughs, he laughs - and looks around wondering what he has done that is so funny so he can try it again. (He also thinks all applause are for him, even applause on TV.) He loves to pull my glasses off and thinks this is hilarious - this accounts for the rakish angle of my poor mangled specs, when I bother to wear them around the house. He loves it when Anna bangs things or makes them fall on the floor or yells or stomps around. In just one evening a few weeks ago, he figured out how to clap his hands, wave to people, and say "bye-bye" in just one evening, and he was terribly pleased with himself. He grins with delight when he claps or waves. He can also give kisses. He likes to press his forehead against mine and rub noses and then engulf my nose or cheek or whole head in a big slobbery kiss.

Almost a year old already, and we know from watching Anna fly through the last four years that in a blink he will be grown.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Nine Months In, Nine Months Out

Summer is holding on longer than usual, though the evening crickets us tell us that fall will soon have its way with the world. Today and yesterday were late-summer beach days, with lots of splashing and swimsuits full of sand. Sam sets out to taste every rock and shell on the beach and grins with a sand-encircled mouth. He loves to feel the waves break over his feet and is curious about the undertow that pulls sand out from under him. He would crawl out to sea after his mermaid older sister if we let him.

Last week, several milestones. He showed that he can stand unsupported for at least a few seconds at a time. (This week, he even repeated the feat by standing in the ocean by himself, despite the water's movement.) He climbed three steps at Grandma Carolyn's before being stopped by his father, and he tried to climb the open ladder at home, too - and could probably make it to the top if he tried. (He wasn't allowed to try beyond one step.) On Friday, he also said Anna's name, clear as a bell. He has called her "ayayayaya" for weeks, but the other morning, he was playing in the early morning light in the living room and heard her wake. He bounced excitedly on his bum, and then when she called out "Hi, Sam," from her bedroom, he exclaimed, "Anna!"

He has four words, which he uses on whims rather than on demand, but which he uses meaningfully. He says "Ha-a" for "Hi" and then "Dada," "Mama," and "Anna." He has no word for Moonlight the cat, but that does have designs on her. He sets out to catch her often, but she has been through this baby thing before and always manages to get away. Sam would settle for a chance to squish his fingers through her catfood and dip his fingers in her water, but he gets scooped up by his mom en route to the cat's dish every time he gets close.

Sam continues to love to sing - he and Anna sing together loudly quite frequently - and he today discovered to his delight that he can reach up and play the piano.

Sam is beginning to be interested in food he has to chew and loves to gnaw messily on corn cobs. He has started eating yogurt, his first dairy food. Well, I say "first," but there was the incident at a cousin's wedding in mid-August when I heard him sucking particularly noisily on what I thought was his soother. It was actually an almost-but-not-quite-empty plastic container for a butter pat. And then there was the day he stole my chocolate dip ice cream popsicle. Cow's milk, here we come.

When he is on his own and not being hauled around by the armpits by his sister or having playthings snatched from him (also by his sister), Sam loves to play with toys. He will sit contented for whole dozens of minutes just figuring out how to flip the pages of books (and rip out the title page, if possible). He loves to play with Anna's princess castle, which has lots of little triggers for sounds and lights. He turns the knobs on Anna's play stove. He loves to talk to Anna's hobby horse, Beatrice June, and poke her plastic eyes. Today, his sister went to the park and as soon as she was gone, he lit out for her bedroom to explore her treasures. He hid under the play table and sucked on the beads of one of her necklaces and tried to flip through her books and was so happy and quiet that at one point I lost him completely. Next week, he will have mornings to himself when Anna goes to playschool. It will be an unaccustomed quiet time for all of us. (Possibly for Anna, as well, since we keep her pretty active and engaged.)

What Sam does not wish to do is go to sleep. The dastardly fourth tooth that plagued him for a month finally popped out of his gums, and he has been exploring and testing it with his lips and his fingers and his crackers. Since then, he has had a few better nights' sleep, but he still does not sleep through the night (by anyone's definition) and he now does not want to go to bed at bedtime. He wants to jump in his crib or explore the living room or sing along to lullabies or just arch his back and cry. He wants to chase the cat and see what Anna's doing. But not sleep.

In the daytime, he is down to two naps. Since he was born he was on a fairly regular routine of three cat-naps of about thirty minutes each. Now, he has two naps, and usually one or the other is an hour. When he is awake, he is always moving, exploring, playing. And soon - very soon - he will be walking, too.

It is amazing to think that he has only just past the threshold of being out in the world longer than he was brewing in my belly. What another nine months will bring...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Crawling, Climbing, Curious

Now that he is almost nine months old, Sam is all personality: happy, goofy, laid-back, fun, curious, and active. Sam mastered crawling all of a sudden one day in mid-July and hasn't looked back - though he mostly uses crawling as a means to get to things he can then climb up on. We see his head and his mischievous grin peeking over the edge of the couch, our knees, the coffee table, the kitchen chairs, and the edge of his crib. And when he sees that we see him, he bounces up and down with delight.

No matter how much his sister mauls him - and she will not give him an inch of space or a moment to play on his own before she hauls him up under his shoulders and carts him around - he comes back for more. He follows her around the house, trying to do whatever she is doing.

He cut a third tooth at the end of July but is still suffering terribly for a fourth. I keep thinking that it will cut through the gum by tomorrow, but several tomorrows have come and gone and several sleep-deprived nights and no tooth yet. This evening, Sam got unusually overtired and out of sorts and couldn't manage to do anything except pull on his ear and bite me (hard) on the arms and shoulders and cry about his sore gums. Poor little pumpkin. And also poor me. I'm hard up for sleep, too.

Sam has now been on his first big trip, to Quebec for his uncle's wedding. The last forty minutes of every leg of the car trip were tough. Sam and Anna both cried miserably. Sam was saddest at the end of the first morning of driving, and when we arrived in Fredericton, New Brunswick, he was still hiccoughing in sadness and his little face was smudged and crusted with snot and tears. Lunch by the St. John River and a crawl around the Beaverbrook Art Gallery cheered him up considerably.

The second leg of the trip, to Edmundston, also ended in tears, but after he was liberated from his car seat, he and his sister loved sleeping in a tent and energetically stayed up until the sun set at 9:30 and then until all my lullaby supplies were exhausted and I was just resorting to singing age-inappropriate, mournful Leonard Cohen songs.

The next morning, he and I woke at dawn and listened to each bird and animal awake in sequence and greet the dawn. Back in the carseat, then, for a long run past Quebec City. Anna got carsick and Sam got restless, but they were really amazingly patient, and it was more than worth the trip. We arrived to playgrounds and picnic spaces and swimming pools and incoming relatives and friends. Then we shared the most lovely cottage on the lake with Emily and her family, adjoining with the other aunts and uncles.

On Friday evening, Sam got to meet his godparents, Thom and Isabelle, for the first time at a welcoming barbecue party at the cottage. He was his happy, friendly self and - we hope - made a good impression.

The wedding day was sunny and clear and full of activity and excitement. Sam wore/ate his first tie and met tons of relatives, all of whom contemplated who he looks like. (The consensus seems to be that he looks a bit like my uncle Regis and cousin Paul - with expressions like his cousin Ryan on his Dad's side.)

The wedding was beautiful, and Anna and Youders outdid themselves as flower-girl and ring-bearer. The kids were tired but mostly good during the perfectly tasteful ceremony in the glorious church. Stephen and I only missed the vows when Sam needed space and Anna needed juice. There were many small babies at the church, so also many parents loitering in back pews with restless little ones.

Back at the reception, Sam was the first party guest to take off his pants, an important precedent-setting move at any wedding. He changed into formalwear for the evening, then - a t-shirt with a tuxedo painted on it. While other guests had cocktails outside, Sam finished up his supper of beets and breastmilk and then enjoyed dancing with his mama to the jazz Thom and Isa had chosen to accompany the cocktails. We had the dancefloor to ourselves.

We didn't make it to the actual dance, though we stayed up well past bedtime, but Sam still slept in his tux. Another important precedent-setting move at any wedding.

Sunday, Sam swam in a lake for the first time and then caught up on some missed naps before we said goodbye to the cottage on the lake on Monday morning and set forth again on the highway. We put in a long day of driving with stops along the St. Lawrence before putting in for the night at a kooky little campground in NB where they played bingo in the communal campground space. We woke and packed up in the pouring rain and drove fast enough to get ahead of the low front. After a leisurely stop in Sackville to visit the swan pond and the Owens Art Gallery, we were home in time for supper. The kids were delighted to be home, though they missed the cottage and lake and all the time and attention they had gotten from their aunts and uncles.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Seven Months Sam, and Counting

Another six weeks have passed since I wrote here with news about Sam. Six months and seven months are a great age - full of smiles and discoveries and emerging personality. Not many milestones in the seventh month that you can write down on a calendar, but lots of skill-building towards the big leaps that come in this eighth month and beyond...

Tonight, I watched Sam creep backwards in a circle around his vast frustration that he can't crawl forwards yet. He hates going backwards but is happier now that at least he can manoeuvre in a circle. He marks his path with drool, like a snail.

We suspect he wants to, or plans to, skip crawling and go straight to walking or possibly running. He can't sit up from a lying-down position yet, but he is adept at pulling himself to standing from sitting. If I set him down on the floor, he grabs my legs and tries to climb them. If I'm wearing pants he can get a grip on, he succeeds. If I'm wearing shorts, he wobbles around my ankle and reaches for my knee then decides if he can't pull himself up he might as well chew on my shin. With his two sharp bottom teeth, this is not comfortable for me.

Sam also loves to try to climb up on the box of board books in the living room. When he gets hold of a book, he is very pleased, and he either beats on it in an effort to open it or picks it up and chews on the corner. Beating on and chewing on are two favourite ways of manipulating objects. I read him Eric Carle's Very Busy Spider this evening, and he loved it - especially the farm animal sounds, which made him laugh. Especially the pigs.

Sam is still teething ferociously, but his third and fourth teeth are still hiding out in his gums. He is enjoying his first tastes of solid food but only likes purees - he spits out even the smallest lumps with precision. He has a sweet tooth and has yet to taste anything green that he greets with anything less than disdain and a sense of betrayal. If he likes something (applesauce, mango, sweet potato, squash) not a drop gets on his chin. If he's iffy about something, very little gets into his face and very much gets on his face.

He will put anything and everything in his mouth - except the baby crackers we got for him to gnaw on.

Sam still has a great sense of humour. He laughs and jumps with excitement watching his sister play, of course, but he is developing his own little jokes, too. He thinks it's hilarious to reach up while he's nursing and pull off my glasses. He never fails to make himself giggle with that one.

And the phonemes of the English language are set up as an elaborate joke on mamas. After nine months of gestating him and seven months of feeding him every two hours (though he is down to nursing just seven times a day, now!), I left him alone with his dad and sister just two afternoons in a row - just two afternoons, mind you - and came home to find him babbling "dadadadadada" happily. He is keen to express his opinions.

(I should note that I then paid for the two afternoons away from the baby with a blocked milk duct and I spent three days and long nights of full-time effort to prevent mastitis! Not the most fun I've ever had.)

Summer is here, and with it comes beach weather. Sam likes to sit in a puddle of warm salt water, digging in the sand with his hands and feet, tasting the occasional fistful of sand. Sam still responds in a special way to green growing things and to music. He is sitting forward-facing in the stroller, now, and he doesn't miss anything on walks. He likes to sing with his sister and loves the songs we have to mark his days, especially his "Yay, Sam, you ate it all up" song that we sing for him after every meal.

One very special happening since I posted last: the arrival of Sam's beautiful girl-cousin at the end of May. Her big brother got lots of practice taking care of babies by visiting his cousin Anna and playing with "Baby Sam."

Emily and Youdin call Sam "Baby Sam." Stephen tends to call him "Sammy" or "Sammy-boy." Anna likes to draw it out to a sing-songy two syllables - "Say-yam" - or to call him by his full name, which she pronounces "Sam-lee-oll." I seem to call him "Sam-sam" most of the time. He responds to all of these names with delight. He's never ungrateful for attention!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Six Months Sam

I wish I had been a baby born in November. I am amazed at the wonder in the eyes of a baby whose awareness of the world is blossoming at the same time that the world itself is blossoming with spring flowers and grass and leaves. Sam loves plants. Ever since he was tiny, he would grasp at the green leaves of houseplants. That the world is full of these green wonders is a sheer and utter delight to him.

Sam is six months old today, still a healthy and happy baby, thriving as his world blooms. He sat up by himself - unsupported but un-expertly - for the first time in mid-April, on what would have been his granddad's eightieth birthday. Now, he sits up straight and true for as long as ever you may please. He cut his first two little teeth last week, in a torrent of drool and with two sleepless nights of discomfort. He spent the rest of the week running his tongue and lower lip over the sharp new edges on his lower gums. This week, he took his first tastes of rice cereal and quickly grabbed the spoon from his mom and his sister, the better to shovel it into his mouth.

He has been grabbing for our food for weeks and his reach has been getting longer. I had to pry some arugula from his gooey hand the other day to prevent him from making vinaigrette his first food. He has always been interested in the food we eat - when he was small, if he was hungry and the house smelled good he would cry and cry, hopeful of a morsel. He would open his little mouth like a hungry baby bird, hoping for tidbits. Rice cereal doesn't quite live up to his expectations, but he is not complaining. I think he knows it is just for practice and that the real deal is coming soon. He ate up all the cereal in his bowl tonight without remarking in the least that the rest of us had eaten pizza for every meal today.

I'm happy he's making a transition to eating some solids, finally. He has been a hungry boyo at the breast these past six months, and I've loved the convenience and healthiness of breastfeeding, but six months of sleep deprivation caught up with me after five months and this past month has been a blur of exhaustion and several rounds of colds and viruses. I'll be happy for a week (any week) with a full household free of snot, sneezes, and coughs. Ever since I had a terrible cold two weeks before Sam was born, we've all been susceptible to every bug going.

I'm beginning to think the sleep deprivation is designed to wipe a mother's memory clean of all but the happiest and most pleasurable moments of a baby's first months, though, because the memories of struggle are hard to hold onto - and who would want to hold onto them anyway? The world must be peopled!

Perhaps I am remembering wrongly, but Sam seems to me to have a lot of manual dexterity for a baby his age. He picks things up and holds them carefully and turns them around and around in ways that seem difficult. He still doesn't roll from his back to his belly but has mostly lost interest in rolling compared to sitting up or trying to crawl or testing his weight on his chubby legs.

He still has the most amazing smile and a great laugh. He still laughs most of all and hardest at his sister's activities. Whether she is galloping through the kitchen on a hobby horse or digging in the garden or hopping on one foot or pushing him on the baby swings in the park, he hollers and laughs with happiness. When Anna and Youdin play together, he follows their every move, and if he is being held in your arms, you have to hold him carefully, because he waves his arms and jumps his legs with all his might, trying to join in the games. We're still waiting for Sam's new cousin to be born and to enjoy all the stages of life we have witnessed with him this half-year gone.

Happy half-birthday, Sam. Much growing lies ahead in the next six months!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Four Months Plus

Sam is four months and a week old, still a thriving and happy baby. Today, he cycled his arms in an effort to make lift-off from his dad's knee as he watched his sister circle the kitchen.

Whatever she does, he wants to do. Walk, run, dance, talk, sing, eat real food, play with toys. Watching a second child learn is different from watching a first child learn, because the second child learns so much from watching the first. He tries to talk like a child, not an adult - hearing his sister gives him more range and more options for self-expression. (Some of them shrill. Some of the quite shouty.)

Sam is more interested in toys and in manipulating objects than Anna. It could be a gender thing - he shrieked with delight the first time he played with Anna's firetruck with its wheels, ladders, and lights - but Stephen thinks it is simply an imitation thing. He sees Anna playing with toys and using objects, and he wants to as well.

Sam can flip from his belly to his back now, much to his surprise when he manages it, but he doesn't get to practise as much as Anna did at his age, mostly because Anna gives him no space at all to roll over.

All the same, I can see that these treasured and peaceful days with a baby who stays where you put him down are coming to an end, and quickly. Already, Sam kicks himself in circles and edges himself to edges. He has a body built for crawling and can already almost get his knees under him. His bum reaches an alarming height and will soon enough propel him forward and then there will be no stopping him. Those few little tasks that are now possible to accomplish with a just-set-down-for-a-moment-on-the-floor baby will soon be gone.

When he can catch up with his sister under his own steam, she will be the one who needs her parents' help to get breaks from a space-invading sibling.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


This week, Stephen and I celebrated our eighth anniversary. Tomorrow is my birthday. Next week (St. Patrick's Day, and my grandmother's birthday) marks ten years since I came to own our little house. And Saturday will mark a year since I found out I was pregnant with Sam. (I was too superstitious to try a pregnancy test on my birthday.) A few weeks later, we went through a tough several days of threatened miscarriage and then another week or two of constant follow-up of HCG levels and vague disbelief that anything could work out. A year later, Sam is here after all, almost 16 weeks old, and coming into his own more every day.

After eight years married, our anniversary was all we could have hoped for. Not in a romantic sense, of course. Instead, our day was filled with unromantic events and happenings. Trying to get a wide-awake, talkative, pee-filled baby back to sleep between 3:00 and 4:30 a.m. Getting up with a chain-talking stream-of-consciousness toddler with a yen for yogurt at 6:30 a.m. Contemplating the best ways to prepare our household to transition to daylight savings time. Spelling each other off for morning catnaps (complete with cat). Stephen having his leftover spaghetti and meatballs for lunch commandeered and eaten by Anna on the pretext that "it is good to share, papa." Going skating with Anna's playschool class and helping make sure she only fell on her face and bit her lip once. Getting a whole hour to ourselves (with baby) but foregoing the planned-for "date" at an all-chocolate restaurant for our usual, ordinary coffee place because it has good changing tables and is a comfortable place to breastfeed in public. Using up the non-nursing part of our anniversary-hour-to-ourselves to buy milk and vitamin D (and some on-sale chocolate, for celebration's sake). Preparing a special meal of smoked salmon while the toddler writhed on the kitchen floor crying for smoked salmon and decrying the time it was taking to cook her some potatoes when what she really wanted was smokes salmon NOW, PLEASE, PLEEEEEASSSE! because it is her FAVOURITE!! Watching a Winnie the Pooh video all together (including cat) on our broken-down couch. Putting the children to bed. And finally watching a children's cartoon on DVD - one that we had only seen half of at the movie theatre before having to leave with a not-quite-old-enough daughter.

Just the kind of anniversary we might have hoped for eight years ago.

And as for Sam these days... He is thriving. He is still easy, happy, full of delight. He is getting stronger every day and will soon be rolling over - though he is more intent on moving forward. When he isn't eating his fingers, he is able to hold and manipulate objects better every single day and can now play with toys - a ball with baby grips, a light stuffed doggie with floppy ears, and a schoolbus that he can roll forward and back are his favourite things to play with. He watches every move his sister makes attentively and jealousy and is especially keen to bounce like she can.

Sam still nurses nine times a day. He eats less frequently at night, which is a nice adjustment, but he makes up for it by eating about every ninety minutes in the daytime. He also still takes short naps. A few two-hour naps have given us hope that he might start a trend, but they proved to be exceptions. He can't wait until he can eat real food, though, and gets really cranky sometimes at suppertime when the house is full of the aromas of good food he is evidently too small to eat. He sometimes paws at my shirt and tries to find a way in to his supper. We call this "trying to break into the refrigerator."

Sam laughs more and more, too. Peekaboo is hilarious to him, now, and so are peeks into the mirror with his dad. Sneezes always make him laugh, and when I choked on a cracker last week, he thought that was a hilarious performance put on just for him. Getting his clothes taken off is a guaranteed cause for a giggle. As the temperature cracks above freezing and the sun comes out, he loves walks outside in the fresh air, smelling and seeing the spring as it peers at us from its hideout, just around the corner.

He is eager to communicate and likes to mimic the shapes of people's mouths. Stuck-out tongues and raspberries are a big hit with him. Singing makes his eyes shine. His favourite noises to make himself are a happy hooting owl-baby sound (hoo! hoo! hoo!) and "ngluh! ngluh!" He has never been very ambiguous in his messages. When he's hungry, he says so clearly. When he is tired, there is no doubt. When he is pissed off at his sister invading his space, he yells at her.

Sam also makes special grunts when he wants to play and grunts non-stop until he gets to lie on the floor and kick his legs or jump up and down on someone's lap. ("It's kicking time!" his sister says, and hauls out the playmat and then hogs most of the space on it.) He also loves to arch his back far back and stretch out his strong spine.

Sam is almost big enough for many things he is keen to do, but he is still just "almost" for now - almost teething, almost sitting up, almost ready for his exersaucer, almost ready to taste rice cereal, almost rolling over, almost outgrowing his 3-6 month sleepers, almost able to fend off his sister. In two more months, it will truly be spring and he will truly be past some of these signposts and gazing towards the next things he wants to be able to do.