We came back from Reno at the end of January and settled back in to home and work at the beginning of February. Sam was moving around more on the floor but not scooting forward – yet!
There was no activity on the house for a couple of weeks while the cement cured, so it looked like this:
The day Sam turned eight months old, he started “army crawling”! That means he started scooting himself forward with his belly on the ground. However, I wasn’t paying attention to the date so I didn’t take his 8-month photo that day!
The same day, we went for a walk and saw our first signs of spring! Crocuses starting to bloom!
The next day, Sam started sitting at the tiny table in his daycare class and eating bread and other solids with the other older babies – so cute!
The day after that, we met up with friends at Pied Piper Play Café in Sellwood, which has since closed. 😦 My friend asked me how old Sam was, and I said, “Eight months! No, almost eight months! Wait – no – he turned eight months old two days ago! I forgot to take a picture!” Aw, second babies…
The play café had this great dinosaur that blinked (or winked, apparently?) and roared:
Sam scooted around the play area:
At the library after the play café, I tried to keep Sam on a clean blanket, but it seems those days are over! He was all over the place, finding all sorts of things to put in his mouth.
Back at home, I thought the dog bed would stop him, but he climbed right up!
A few days later, I finally got Sam’s eight-month photo:
Ari wanted one too:
Then, after we did some good clean-up work in the basement, we had pizza and gelato with friends.
Later, on Valentine’s Day, Sam practiced his standing (at that point, I think we were still putting him in that position – he wasn’t pulling up yet) and Ari got some cuddles in:
Another day at home:
Another day, Sam getting into Ari’s dinosaurs and my attempt at a simple, kid-friendly dinner with vegetables, starch, and protein – fish sticks, roasted purple sweet potatoes, steamed carrots, and parsley for something green. Ari tasted everything but only ate fish sticks, as usual. I think Sam had a little of everything!
Another day at home with the boys:
Trying to keep them busy so I could cook:
Another day at home by myself… After several weeks of no activity on the ADU, the lumber was delivered!
I decided to try to be the perfect mother and make homemade baby broth with dandelion greens, carrots, and cauliflower:
I pureed the mushy vegetables after straining them out of the broth, and froze the gross mush:
I was also trying to make a curried peas dish and some steamed carrots and parsnips:
And a vegan chili! This was actually quite good – here’s the recipe.
I puréed some of the chili, too. I think that’s what I have pictured here, next to the broth.
In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t wasted so much time trying to make homemade baby food! Sam seems to like pretty much everything, but the broth and vegetable puree were super bitter and he didn’t like them. I ended up putting most of the broth into another soup recipe, and I don’t know what I’ll do with all those cubes of vegetable purée. However, he did like the soup! I try not to over-salt things I give him, but he does really seem to like foods that are seasoned.
Meanwhile, in the backyard, the first stage of framing for the ADU happened:
The next day, it was the weekend and it was finally dry out so we went to the park! My parents came to visit and met us there.
My mom took these:
The first wall was built!
At the beginning of March, Sam summitted his slide:
He also enjoyed eating finger food:
And the first wall was up!
I have so many stories about the boys to catch up on. The other day, I realized that in these nine months I’ve been paying so much attention to Sam’s development (although less attention than I did to Ari’s first nine months, I’m afraid!), Ari has grown up quite a bit, too. For instance, I noticed that I’ve often been letting him stand near me while I get Sam into or out of the car, without keeping a hand on him. Suddenly, he’ll stand there calmly instead of running around, so I don’t have to get him all secured in his seat before I deal with Sam. This is a great development – just in time for Sam to start walking!
Ari has also gone from snuggling into me and sucking his thumb and crying when I leave him at school, to running in happily and giving me a hug and kiss goodbye. Every day, he would tell me, “I’m feeling shy” as we approached his classroom. But one day, he said, “I know!” and announced that he would say “chicken butt!” (his favorite joke at the time) to the first person he saw in his class. So I opened the door and he ran in and screamed, “chicken butt!” at a startled child crouched in front of the cubbies. The teacher said, “Here’s our silly one!” and he was off, shrieking and giggling with the other kids. He did the same thing every day for a week or so, and we talked about it at his “strategy” for not feeling too shy at the beginning of the day.
One day, I dropped him off in the gym, because everyone was in there that morning, and all the kids wanted to hug him at once! So the teacher hugged him, and ten or so kids circled around in a giant, multi-layer group hug. It was so sweet!
He also likes to challenge himself to run into his class by himself, now. One morning, we were getting out of the car and a small child was running toward us, with her dad trailing behind with a baby and a car seat, and she shouted, “Hi, Ari!” Not long ago, I would have been saying, “Ari, there’s so-and-so, she’s saying hi to you!” But this time, I didn’t even recognize her from so far away, and Ari casually called out, “Hi, (and her name)!” Then they met up and ran to the school doors together, where someone let them in, and they had gone all the way down the halls, around a few corners, and into their class by the time the dad and I, with our babies, caught up to them. Ari was already telling his teacher, “We ran to the classroom by ourselves!”
Ari has also had more challenging behavior at times, and I’ve been working on responding in a calm way. I feel like most of the time I fail, but I’ve had a few successes to share. Maybe I should share all my failures in great detail, so other parents could commiserate, but, honestly, I don’t think I’m brave enough for that! So, anyway, here are a couple of stories about gaining Ari’s cooperation.
Back during one of our snow days, we left our friends’ house down the street to head home, and Ari really wanted to go back inside to read books. I tried to empathize and validate his feelings, saying something like, “I know you really want to go inside and you’re feeling disappointed, but we need to go home and eat dinner now.” After a few repetitions, I was feeling cold and tired and hungry, wearing Sam on the front of me, carrying a bag of stuff, and holding the sled we were taking home, so I got angrier. I offered him a choice between walking or riding on the sled, and repeated the choice with a more and more demanding tone, until I was ready to just pick him up and drag him (which I have done before), but I couldn’t because my arms were too full already. I felt so angry because it seemed like I’d already done all the “right” things, and he wouldn’t cooperate, and I was out of options and at a loss as to how I could force him to MOVE. So he sat on the ground refusing to budge and I finally stopped the escalation of yelling and ordering him around and tried to calm myself down. I remembered what a difference it had made to me as a child when someone treated me with dignity and respect, even when I wasn’t acting like a person who deserved it. So I sighed and said, “Ari, we need to get home. What should we do?” He promptly stood up and offered some third option that must have felt different enough to him – I think it was that he pulled the sled, or held my hand, something like that. So I said okay, and he walked happily all the way home!
Another day, we had just dropped off Sam in his class at school, and Ari wanted to stay and look at all the baby books instead of going to his class. I was in a hurry, and we were standing there in the hall (actually I think he was lying down across the hall and people were stepping over him) with him wailing something like, “But WHY can’t I see all the books?” and I was snapping back at him with something like, “We NEED to GO to your class!” and then it suddenly occurred to me that I could actually answer his question with the real reason I was saying no. So I squatted down to his level (okay, now in my memory he was standing up at this point), and said, “The reason I don’t want you to touch all the baby books is that you have a runny nose and I don’t want you to get germs on all the books.” Then he said, “Okay!” and scampered off down the hall. And I thought, “Huh, I’m sure glad I didn’t escalate that to a giant battle of the wills when it was THAT SIMPLE!”
I’m having a hard time with all of the “why” questions. I remember anticipating this phase, thinking how much fun it would be to answer all of my kids’ questions about the world, but really it’s like being followed around being interrogated about every little thing, while you’re trying to multitask with the baby and child care, and figure things out and make plans and decisions in your head, and most of the things he’s asking about feel like they don’t have any explainable rhyme or reason, so I’m shouting, “Just BECAUSE!!” Sometimes we talk about all of his questions and how I’m getting tired of answering them, and one day he told me, “I have lots of questions in my body,” then, “They’re in my tummy.” Then we were able to laugh about that.
Some of Ari’s questions and thoughts in the past couple of months have been about gender roles. For a while, he would tell me that only boys liked dinosaurs, and “no girls like dinosaurs,” but then when I asked him about specific girls he knows, he would tell me they like dinosaurs. One evening, he was playing with a sticker pad that had medical personnel on it, and I asked him to point to a nurse. He searched around and finally pointed to a woman in a white coat. I pointed to a man in scrubs and asked, “What about him?” Ari replied that he was not, “because he’s a boy… Boys are doctors.” I was flabbergasted! I remember saying basically the same thing as a kid, but I thought now, with all the examples of female doctors (but maybe no male nurses, come to think of it…) in the books and TV shows he’s exposed to, that he wouldn’t have that idea. So, I told him that both men and women can be both nurses and doctors, and another day while we were riding the bus, he suddenly started quizzing me about all the people we knew, asking if they were nurses or doctors.
Okay, time for a few words about Sam! I’ve noticed that he is showing more attachment to me than he used to. When I arrived to pick him up from school one day, he gave me a big grin and a wave (oh yes, he started waving before he hit nine months!), then I turned around to wash my hands or something, and turned back and he was crying! I think he was upset that I hadn’t gone right over to him. He also started turning and holding his arms out to me when other people are holding him. I don’t think Ari ever did that! But in other respects, I think Ari liked cuddling and being held more, and Sam seems to always want to be going somewhere. He’ll reach for me, but then once I’m holding him, he’s twisting around and reaching for something else. He seems like quite the little explorer, heading straight for cords and outlets and whatever he can find that is new to him.
Ari had a hard time when the crawling/scooting started, and we had a lot of conflicts when he would get mad that Sam was heading for his toys, and he’d push Sam away, or bite or pinch him. He was often shrieking, “No, Sam! Noooo!” Then I would get mad, and then wonder what I was supposed to tell him about these toys that I used to refer to as his. I set up his little table in our dining area so that he can put things on it that he doesn’t want Sam to get to. I’ve tried telling him that if he’s playing with something on the floor, it’s fair game, so he needs to move his puzzles or other things he doesn’t want Sam touching to his room or to a table, but he never wants to play off by himself, so that’s a hard one. We switched to a bigger coffee table (brought up from our basement) that he can play on, and that’s helped. And Ari has been learning strategies like offering other toys to Sam. I also set up the playpen, so I have a safe place to put Sam where he can’t crawl away while I’m busy and where Ari can’t get to him. Did I mention yet that I walked in the room once, after I’d stepped out to wash my hands, and found Ari standing on Sam, using him as a step stool to reach something? That really scared me!
But overall, I definitely feel that I’m setting into my new role as a mother of two kids! I remember that when Ari hit eight months, I started to feel like things were normalizing for me, and I had a similar feeling with Sam turning eight months, except that this time it wasn’t that I felt I’d adjusted to life with a baby, but that I’d adjusted to life with my two little boys. I love them so much!