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.