Letter to Eli, 23 Months

Dear Eli,

What a month this has been!

In mid-December you were given a developmental screening. We were expecting it to show a speech delay but were shocked by the degree of delay they say you have. The good thing is that it qualifies you for some free services in addition to the therapy that the insurance has approved. We have full confidence you will do just fine in the speech department given time, and the extra help is certainly welcome. Already you are showing improvement. At the time of the screening you weren’t saying much verbally other than “Mama” (when crying) and a couple of words you would repeat if asked to. Now you are saying “Mama” all the time and have added to that more, sopa, agua, dog, tea, Dada, ball, go, apple, Elmo, in, ‘Acki (Aunt Jacki) and a couple others that I just can’t think of right now. As of yet you’ve only had 2 speech therapy sessions, so I think a big part of it is just that you are becoming more ready to speak.

What we didn’t realize before the screening was that some of your behaviors aren’t just you being Eli, but rather indicate a¬†Sensory Processing Disorder. For you it is mainly the vestibular system that is affected, although there are other non-motion things going on with you as well.

This actually helps to explain a lot… especially about why you are ALWAYS moving. As it has been explained to me you don’t have a sense of where your body is located in space unless you are receiving the stimulation of movement. Ironically, for your body to feel at rest it has to be moving. It explains why when you were a little baby you couldn’t sleep unless you were in the swing, and later why you would start rolling across the bed like a little tumbleweed waking up on your hands and knees crying 3 or 4 times every night. (We are thankful you don’t do that anymore.)

You beg to take a (cold) bath at least a couple of times a day. Once is usually the limit. I don't look forward to the day when you make the connection between getting dirty and bathing. I shudder to think of what you will do then. ūüôā

Other ways you are affected are that you only want to be bathed in cold water. We’ve slowly gotten you to the point where you will tolerate it being luke warm. You also aren’t tolerating a lot of different textures of food, and often end up coughing when you try to drink fluids or when eating small grains. The swallow study you had done this past month showed that your esophagus works fine, so the problem has been attributed to the Sensory Processing Disorder. ¬†In addition to the group and individual speech therapy you’ll be receiving you will also have group and individual occupational therapy. We are all of the sudden very busy, but I’m so glad that there is help available for you.

Adding the final touches to Mama's crudely drawn sidewalk pig.

You continue to love music, instruments and performances. You love to hear the sound of a crowd cheering and applauding. Sometimes when you are in a fussy mood it helps for us to turn on a game show in the background because when you here the applause you usually can’t help yourself but to cheer and applaud along.

You have had an on-going love affair with your daddy’s old guitar for many months now. The headstock is now completely shattered from all of the times you have dropped it on the floor. Let’s face it, it’s a lot of guitar for a little guy. It has been held together with duct tape, but the few remaining strings are becoming less and less strum-able.

Thankfully my Aunt Sylvia and Uncle Dave sent you a new, toddler-sized guitar. The day it arrived you spent much of the day carrying it around in a big bear hug when you weren’t strumming it. I caught you kissing it a time or two as well. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to get a non-blurry picture of you with it yet.

You also are drawn to the microphones and drum equipment at church. It is so cute to see you in your element happily exploring these things after service. Less cute is our inevitably loud exit as no amount of time with your beloved instruments is ever enough. Your howls and shrieks of frustrated disappointment are most likely heard at least a block away.

Here you are pointing inside your cup, exclaiming delightedly "TEA!"

Your love of tea continues to grow, much to my delight. You like to play tea party, in which you serve me pretend cup after cup of hot(!) tea, poured with all sorts of burbling water sound effects. In return, I am expected to share any cup of my (real) tea with you. I pour a little in a small cup and you impatiently wait for it to cool. This practice has led to a great improvement in your ability to drink from a cup without choking. The tea we have at home is all caffeine free but when we are out I like to get an occasional soy chai latte. I order it weak and you enjoy drinking the cold last half inch in the bottom of the cup so much that I figure whatever small amount of caffeine there is won’t kill you. The looks we get from other people are really something though, as it seems like I am giving my toddler coffee! This appearance is then only underscored by your normal extremely active behavior! (For the record I’ve never noticed any change in behavior after you’ve enjoyed the last of my tea.)

Riding on the firetruck at the park.

There are so many things you enjoy doing these days, but going to Barnes & Noble takes the cake! Now if we even drive on the street that glorious store is located on you begin frantically signing “book” long before the store is even in sight. At night your daddy and I like to wind down by watching a bit of Masterpiece Theater. He always mutes the B&N commercial at the beginning to prevent you from getting the idea that you have to go there RIGHT NOW. They have now removed the Lego table, but there are so many other things you love to do there I’m not sure you have really even noticed.

You had to test drive EVERY nook! You were so careful to replace each one carefully on the display holder without me even having to say anything. I was amazed (and hovered just the same.).

You usually make a bee line for the Music and DVD section immediately upon entering the store, (although today you were momentarily distracted by those wonderful nooks.) As soon as it is in sight you break into a canter, chirping “Elmo!”, Elmo!” Once inside the music section you gravitate to the DVDs looking for the Baby Einstein and Sesame Street displays.

These DVDs are then taken one by one to the scanner to be scanned. This is very serious work.

With each satisfying beep you abandon  that DVD and look for another to scan.You are actually pretty good about returning them to the place you found them, but you sometimes need a little encouragement. The sales people who work in that section  now recognize you and even seem to enjoy your visits.

Leave it to you to find the guitar!

Then it’s off to the children’s section, which, after all, is where Elmo lives.

You especially like the books in the vehicle area that have all sorts of sound effect buttons on them.

At some point it is time to go to the cafe, and as Daddy is usually your shadow at Barnes & Noble, you find Mama there with a cup of delicious tea and hopefully a coconut macaroon! In fact, the best way to get you to leave the children’s section sans tantrum is to suggest, “Eli, do you want some tea?”

Mmmmm... TEA!

Best of all, Barnes & Noble is a place where we occasionally meet up with people who love you!

Yes, Barnes & Nobel is truly your idea of heaven on earth!

I can’t wait to see what this last month of your second year will bring. I love you so very, very very much!

Mama

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Letter to Eli, 21 Months

Dear Eli,

Today you turn 21 months old. You constantly please and amaze us as we watch your personality develop and unfold. You love to “help” with things around the house. Some jobs, like putting diapers into the garbage, you have claimed as your own. When the diaper that was removed is cloth or soiled you don’t get to do the honors and you express much indignation. You love to “garden” by moving the soil from the large planters out front from pot to pot with a trowel. Inevitably quite a bit spills onto the sidewalk. You love helping to get it all swept up. You can now follow simple directions. When your Daddy asks you to bring me something you do so with such a look of pride. Truly adorable!

Playing with your Radio Flyer wagon.

First experience with sidewalk chalk.

This month you got your first haircut. I wrote about that in a separate post. You look so much more like a little boy with your hair trimmed. I guess I can’t call you Samson any longer.

Before

After

You are now scaling the furniture to new heights. You move chairs around the room to reach the shelves where all of the things we’ve put out of your reach reside. You pull out the drawers of your daddy’s dresser and use them as stairs, so we can’t let you be in the bedroom alone to play anymore. It is becoming ever more challenging to keep you accident-free from one day to the next, but I love seeing how able you are becoming.

You love to climb!

Sleep, or rather lack thereof, has always been an issue with you. For your first 10months you were awake every 20 minutes at night more often than not. Then there was a long span of every-hour awakenings, gradually lengthening to 90 minute and 2-hour intervals. Lately we’ve been up every 3 or 4 hours, about 3 times a night, which I’ve found manageable, but barely. Of course, many people have had advice and we’ve listened to it all. Some we have tried without success. Other advice was to stop co-sleeping and to nightwean. Intuitively we knew that this would actually do more harm than help. I’m¬†so glad we listened to our intuition as we have uncovered the cause of the restless nights. You have developed allergies (sorry for the genetic gift there) and we began to give you Zyrtec. It soon became apparent that you are one of the rare individuals that gets the side effects of hyperactivity and insomnia instead of the usual drowsiness. (Oh, how we had looked forward in vain to the drowsiness!) I have been taking Zyrtec since long before you were a twinkle in your Daddy’s eye and thus passing it on to you at each nursing session. Since I’ve stopped taking it you are usually awake, and only briefly, once or twice a night — that is, unless your allergies are bothering you!

Dreaming of riding the carousel. Soon, Eli. Soon.

Train ride with Daddy

Your love of all things Daddy continues to grow. Most days you go out for “Daddy fun time” while I get a while to work on my projects or this blog. It’s great that Daddy can work from home most of the time. When he does have to leave for the office this is your reaction, unless he is gone before you get up.

When Daddy goes to work.

This past month you had a bad cold that turned into your first ear infection. You are feeling much better now but seem to be holding on to the illness-inspired eating habits. You mostly will only eat bread, pasta or cereal. Of, course your love of ketchup hasn’t been affected. You point and ask upon seeing it when I open the fridge door. More often than not you lick the ketchup off your food without eating anything. You have also been known to eat it with your spoon when it is put on the side of your plate for dipping purposes. I’m having to get creative to try to find ways to sneak some fruit and veggies into you (other than processed tomatoes that is)! It amazes me how much energy you have and how quickly you manage to grow when it seems that you are barely eating! The Thanksgiving meal so did not impress you. I think maybe 3 bites of food crossed your lips other than the roll.

Here you are NOT eating at Thanksgiving.

You really like the Christmas tree. I’m not sure how it’s possible that it hasn’t been knocked over yet. It looks a bit bedraggled and most of the ornaments are on the top half of the tree. I look forward to the years to come when we will make ornaments together. Now you are happy just to have it here within your reach.

Decorating the Christmas tree.

We are definitely in “Terrible Two” territory these days. You are not shy about expressing your displeasure when things don’t go as you think they should. You very definitely have a mind of your own. It is so frustrating for you to want to do so much more than you are able (or allowed) to do. Don’t worry the day will come when you can do all those things and much more!

I’m so looking forward to sharing this Christmas season with you and watching all of your joy and wonder!

I love you very,very, very much!

Mama

Letter to Eli, 19 Months

Dear Eli,

This month you have become OBSESSED with the names for everything. You point and say “Mmmm!”, which translates, “Oooh! What’s this thing called?!” The thing is, it’s CONSTANT. Nursing you now generally sounds like this… “Mmmm!”¬†“Glasses,” I reply. “Mmm!” “Eye.” “Mmm!” “Nose.” “Mmm!” “Eye.” “Mmm!” “Eli’s eye” “Mmm!” “Ear.” “Mmm!” Eli’s nose.” “Mmm!” “Eye.” It goes on but you get the picture. Each “Mmm!” is accompanied by your pointer finger spearing the body part in question, because when it comes to the parts of the face pointing just isn’t enough.

It isn’t only while nursing though. While walking, “Blue car.” “White truck.” “Black van.” With your books, Monkey… Monkey… Drum.” Puzzles, “Cow… Pig… Chicken… Cow… Goat…” Even when we are driving, from the back seat, at night, it’s “Mmmm!… Mmmm!… Mmmm!…” And while it does get a bit wearing, I actually love it.You are learning, and soon you will be talking. I LOVE that you are so motivated because I so want to hear all that you have to say.

Your other obsession is with the Baby Signing TIme DVDs. You have learned a lot from them; I think you currently are using 29 different signs and are able to make your wants and needs pretty clearly known. But you want to watch them ALL.THE.TIME. You wake up in the morning, stretch, look at me and begin to sign Baby!Baby!Baby! And so begins a day full of Baby!Baby!Baby! while I try to distract you with other activities because I don’t want my toddler to be the one who is constantly glued to a TV screen. (I actually feel a bit guilty that you watch any TV at all at your age.) The problem is that THAT toddler is exactly who you want to be right now. Even when we are out when you recognize our neighborhood through the car window on the way home you often start to frantically sign Baby!Baby!Baby! So this is one area where we are trying to strike a balance. I should have heeded the warning in Hobo Mama’s review of the Baby Signing Time series where she wrote that it is the crack cocaine of signing babies in its addictiveness. Turns out she wasn’t exaggerating.

One development this past month that couldn’t please your father and I more is that you LOVE Barnes & Noble! If we are at the Town Centre and try to walk by the store you will dart in the door if someone happens to open it at that moment. You might be distracted for a little while by the stack of hand baskets inside the door, but then it is off to the children’s section, or sometimes the cafe. It’s almost as if you feel at home there due to the many hours you spent there in utero, as until recently we haven’t been able to spend much time there since your birth.

It follows that this would also be the month when you began to show an interest in books. I always thought I would read to you daily right from the beginning, but you weren’t interested. You would vigorously slam shut most any book I tried reading to you. But now you come to me and sign “book?”, and of course I always agree that that is a wonderful idea. You have a set of Sesame Street board books and an ABC book that are your current favorites. (Your very first favorite book was Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb which for months was the only book you would listen to and look at.) You still don’t like to listen to books but like to point at the pictures and demand we name them.

We went to the Pumpkin Patch this past weekend. Here is a picture of you on the same ride this year and last. It’s fun to see how much you have grown!

This last photo I’m including not because it is a good one but rather because it so well illustrates life with you these days. You are a blur of near constant motion. In the time it takes to snap a picture, more often than not you have turned away or left the frame altogether. You are so full of energy and life! We are trying our best to keep up.

I love you so very, very, very much!

Mama

Letter to Eli, 18 Months

 

This post is now almost a month old. It has taken me longer to find a blog home than I imagined, but now that we are here I wanted to make sure this post didn’t get lost in the shuffle.

Dear Eli,

 

Two days ago you turned 18 months old, a year and a half. I gotta tell you, you never cease to amaze me! Every week you are able to do so much more than the week before. It seems that everyday your father and I are pointing out to each other some new aspect of your development.

 

Lately you have grown so affectionate! Not that we ever doubted that you loved us back, but you have always been too “on-the-go” for cuddling. Soon after you were born I read that when a mother kisses her baby she is picking up all the germs he is being exposed to and will then be able to give him antibodies to those very same germs in her milk. ¬†Before reading that I kissed you and worried that maybe I was exposing you to my germs, but after… Let’s just say you have been pretty much constantly kissed since then. I especially can’t keep myself from kissing the top of your noggin when I carry you in the Ergo. I have wondered from time to time if were you able to speak you’d be saying, “Enough with all of the smooches, Mom!”

 

But now you are the one who is constantly kissing. You kiss me. You kiss your daddy. You kiss your own reflection in the window or mirror. You kiss your toys. You even kissed a photograph of the hind end of a dog in the magazine on the airplane. Multiple times! And your not even all that certain that you like dogs yet! That’s how much kissing you are doing.


 

You are a boy who loves adventure. You love to get out of the house and explore. Your daddy will often take you in the jogging stroller when he goes running during his lunch break and the two of you usually end up rambling around the park. When it is time to leave with him you can’t wait to get out the door and then you proudly turn around and wave goodbye to me. (Gone are the days when I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without you crying as though your heart would break!)

 

We are now in Washington State visiting our cousin Sherie and her family. The day before we left I was packing the suitcases and you knew something BIG was happening. You were so excited that you wouldn’t go to sleep until midnight, and then you woke up every hour until we had to get you up at 5:30 because we had a plane to catch. We expected you to sleep in the car on the drive to the Los Angeles airport, but you stayed awake almost the entire way looking out the window with a half smile on your face. Then we expected you to sleep on the first plane ride to San Fransisco, or at least to be super cranky. But no, you spent the entire ¬†flight clambering over our laps, “talking” about everything and anything. So then we thought perhaps he will nurse down and nap during our layover, but no… There was an airport to explore, planes to watch, so much to see and touch. After all, this was an ADVENTURE.

 

 

 

One thing I am so enjoying about you right now is that we are communicating. And not as in I am reading your cues, but as in you are letting me know what you want, and even sometimes what you are thinking about by using signs. You now have a vocabulary of 23 signs and pick up more each week. Today when asked you told me you wanted a bath. That’s not a sign we’ve been using, but you learned it on your Baby Signing Time DVD. I love it when you surprise me by showing me new words you have learned. Since you were born I have wished I knew what you were thinking. Now my wish is beginning to come true.


 

It is amazing to me that at 18 months old you sign “thank you” at the appropriate time without being prompted. You have your own way of doing it by kissing your hand before bringing it down. I think the throwing a kiss thank you is a great improvement over the kiss-free variety! You are also pretty good about signing “please”.

 

You are also starting to talk as well. A couple a weeks ago you began to say the word that melts a mother’s heart, “Mama”. At first it was “Amamama!”, but soon you had it down to just “mama”. Now you often say it right when you finish nursing. And oh, how I love to hear it! You are also saying “Dada” now as well.

 

I love you so very, very, very much!

 

Mama