Corban at 4 years, 3 months old

Before I let any more time go by I want to capture the fun and ferocity that are Corban and Mara right now. Let’s start with my firstborn.

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It is so much fun to see Corban’s mind at work* as he soaks up new ideas and begins to see how they are applied in real life. I can practically see the lines being drawn as he connects concepts across different experiences—when he learns a new word then hears it used the next day in a different context, puts letter sounds together and sees how they form a word or starts to grasp the connection between the faces on his “Presidents of the United States” placemat and the characters in “Hamilton.”

Speaking of “Hamilton”…

Both kids are obsessed, but we are taking a little break from listening to the cast recording because Corban is starting to pick up a little too much from it. He and Mara both love a few songs enough that Corban has them just about entirely memorized, including phrases like “I’m the ‘damful’ that shot him,” (as he pronounces it) and “I will kill your friends and family to remind you of my love.” It makes me so, so happy to share things like brilliant musicals with them (and it is pretty fun that Corban’s starting to learn about our country’s history because of it), but we are switching back to children’s catechism and scripture songs for a while—music with lyrics that are 100% OK (and wonderful) to repeat.

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Corban also is obsessed with his Wildlife Fact File, a.k.a. remember those binders with pages about various animals that would come in the mail? Peter’s mom found one at their house from back in the day, and we read a few pages every day and learn so many interesting facts about animals.

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Photo credit: Wade Tregaskis

Books

He loves to be read to in general, and we all enjoyed intentionally reading through the “Jesus Storybook Bible” start to finish in about three weeks during Advent. Other current favorites are still Beatrix Potter stories, “Where the Wild Things Are” and nursery rhymes/fairy tales from anthologies.

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School

Corban is also very into his Sunday School class and Primary Praise (children’s worship) at church. He often asks when he is going to go to preschool (this is probably partially because adults ask him this ALL the time) and I know he would love it if we decided to send him. But as of right now we have no plans for 4K (for a variety of reasons).

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Perpetual bedhead

Play

While last year was all about pirates, this year is shaping up to be all about super heroes. That’s the favorite game these days. Corban also is a card shark—Go Fish, Uno, War and Slapjack are popular in our house. He plays endlessly with little action figure-type toys, animals and cars, but is also a very physical kid, always climbing on things and jumping off furniture. When he plays outside it’s all bikes and sports. He doesn’t usually opt to color or do art unless we have a specific activity planned.

He and Mara are two peas in a pod, always playing together. They love each other well but do fight over toys like any siblings.

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Learn

Like I mentioned, Corban is starting to understand how letter sounds form words. He sounded out a word almost fully by himself the other day (“Max”) and it felt like one of those special parenting moments like when he took his first steps. He is far from actually reading, but I just recently started working with him a little more intentionally using some Montessori methods for learning letters/words and it’s crazy how even just a tiny bit of that goes a long way when a child is ready for it. He has this letters activity book that he loves, and I’ve noticed recently he seems to be “getting” it and can complete the activities correctly on his own. We are more of a “learning through play” style family, but his brain seems to be ripe for phonics right now.

“Why?”

Corban continues to be very inquisitive and a HUGE fan of the question, “Why?” My response is almost always, “Why do you think?” and I would encourage every person who hears this question from a child to respond that way. Corban almost always has a theory in mind and a lot of the time he’s right, or he’s looking at it in a way that I hadn’t thought about.

I simply relish how uninhibited he is with sharing his heart with me and asking questions about life. This age is also sweet because everywhere we go and everything we do is a learning opportunity. I love how curious he is and it’s fun to explain life to a kid who devours everything you say!

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“Learning” about senses and nature on a hike. Also saw a hawk eating a dead animal–wildlife in action!

Some recent firsts

The other weekend I took Corban to see a musical at FirstStage, “Just a Little Critter Musical.” It was geared at the preschool set but was just as entertaining and thought-provoking for parents. Every kid in the place seemed to be enthralled, including Corban. I’ll be keeping an eye out for the next preschool-geared show there.

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We also took both kids to their first movie at the movie theater this past weekend, “Zootopia.” I think Peter and I loved it even more than the kids. Corban enjoyed the whole experience but keeps talking about this one borderline scary scene (which thankfully Mara and I were in the bathroom during). It felt liberating to be able to take the kids with us to the movie theater (Mara was pretty antsy, though).

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Peter bought a used Nintendo 64 late last year and introduced Corban to his first video games (much to my chagrin, though I probably need to lighten up). We will play Mario Kart, Starfox or this WWE wrestling game (which Corban somehow wins at) maybe once a week. Corban is quite into it (that might be an understatement). The nice part is that we play together as a family.

A few words I’d use to describe Corban:

Observant, social, silly, curious, loving, cautious.

Up next: Mara update (and more posts that have been sitting in drafts, hopefully soon!)

*work, work.

Corban at age 4

I told Corban his birth story for the first time the other day. I relived out loud the joyous memory of meeting him for the first time, and he was all smiles. I think hearing it made him feel very special and loved, and that makes my heart leap.

Then I relived it on my own yesterday. This is the first year since Corban was born that I worked on his birthday. Walking out of the building at 5:30 p.m. unexpectedly brought me right back to that exact place and time four years earlier, when I hurried to my car in the freezing cold, tears pulling from my eyes due to the wind, mind racing with nerves and questions, knowing I was likely going into labor.

The memories were so vivid, it felt like I could have been thrown right back into that night (only it was much warmer and I was walking to a different parking garage this time). How little has changed since then, and yet how very, very much.

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On his 4th birthday.

Corban and Mara both have this birthday book, which includes a questionnaire for each birthday. I sat Corban down yesterday to record his answers using the StoryCorps app (which is excellent, by the way).

There’s one point in the interview that embodies the spontaneous and surprising hilarity that is a hallmark of this age: he gets frustrated with me and calls me a “nasty [or possibly naughty] hedgehog.” No idea where that phrase came from.

Here is the full interview.

The photos I rifled through for this post are a measuring stick for the subtle changes Corban has gone through between his third and fourth birthdays. Not just in his appearance, though look at the comparison from last year:

The changes that were more apparent in the photos were the fears he’s overcome and the skills he’s acquired in the last year. He’s matured in measurable ways.

For example, in January, this was as far as he would get in a pool without screaming.

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And here’s Corban today at swim lessons.

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He even jumped in without holding the teacher’s hands for the first time today.

And last year at Lindner Pumpkin Farm, he was afraid to ride the barrel train. This year…

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Last year at Cozy Nook Farm he was afraid to feed the cows. This year…

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He’s a machine on his balance bike (I’m betting age four is going to be the year he rides a regular bike without training wheels).

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He learned how to ride the big kid swings this year, and is pretty successful at pumping his legs.

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(He must have worn that outfit every day this fall, ha.)

Corban at age four is is so very observant. He sees, hears, learns, remembers everything (good or bad). He is curious—he’ll “Why?” you till you give up answering, and then some—and is so refreshingly open (though I’m starting to see some self-awareness creep in on this trait I love so much).

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He loves us and his extended family so purely and fervently. And he is so cuddly. It. is. glorious. I want to snuggle his soft little self forever.

But he’s not so little anymore! At 40 pounds, he’s getting harder to pick up.

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He is definitely an extrovert at this age, in the sense that he loves being around people. He takes advantage of every minute with his aunts, uncles and grandparents, and asks every day if he’ll get to see his friends. It’s a huge challenge to get him to leave any social situation.

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Corban can be so sweet and loving toward Mara. In some ways, I know he looks up to her.

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Of course, they fight and bicker at this age (and probably will at every age), but I am so thankful they have each other and pray they will remain close. It makes me so happy to see their relationship develop as they play and scheme together.

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Corban is also very active and loves sports of every kind. Baseball, racquetball…

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He became obsessed with mini-golf this summer, and has played in three states with more holes-in-one than me.

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He was so excited to go to dance class with our nanny’s daughter recently. I think he was expecting something a little more wild than preschool ballet, though.

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Bocce ball… he’s on it.

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Snow… he doesn’t ever want to come inside.

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Hiking… he’ll complain at first, but then hike two challenging miles and proclaim, “I love hiking!”

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Some other favorites:

  • Jake and the Neverland Pirates
  • Beatrix Potter stories
  • Go Fish
  • Candyland (and other board games)
  • Toy cars and trucks
  • School buses (I always know when there’s a school bus nearby)
  • His “activity books” (these two preschool workbooks he does)
  • Playing outside
  • Building forts
  • Taking pictures with my big camera
  • Sunday school, and any songs with hand motions they do in church
  • Candy/treats (ever since Halloween this has been a big thing)

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Sunday school Christmas song this past week.

Being Corban’s mom has slowly but dramatically changed my heart and grown my capacity to love in new ways. I love every part of him, even his tantrums and lies and ridiculous stunts and unreasonable behavior. I can’t imagine stopping loving him.

It is such a sweet, small picture of God’s love for me. Beautiful.

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We did have a little birthday party for Corban on Saturday that was so much fun. I will share details soon!

Happy 3rd birthday, my favorite little boy

Three years ago today, my favorite little boy came into the world.

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On Corban’s third birthday, the biggest thing on my heart is overwhelming appreciation.

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Appreciation for God’s loving creation. For the incomprehensible detail of our bodies, minds and hearts. For the privilege of witnessing this little boy’s healthy growth. For Corban’s curiosity and sense of humor, his funny phraseology and lack of self-consciousness. For his abiding love for his family and friends. For the luxury of spending time with him (even if every minute isn’t easy — sometimes far from it). For the gift of being a mom — his mom — and the growth that it has brought to me as a person and a Christian.

Corban’s first two birthdays made me reflect a lot on his birth and newborn days, but this year I’ve had to consciously bring back those memories. No, at age three Corban’s birthday is all about Corban at age three. He has been eagerly anticipating it for months (ever since Mara’s birthday in September) and has reveled in the rituals of songs, gifts, family visits and cake. He also knows that December 8th = his birthday, so while there has been some confusion between what was his birthday party (Saturday) and his actual birthday, all I had to tell him was that today is December 8th and he understood that it’s “still” his birthday.

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It worked out for me to take the day off work today, so we’re headed to the children’s museum and out to lunch with Peter. I considered setting up a play date with his friends today, but that would distract me from spending time focused on him, so we’re keeping it low key. We celebrated formally with family on Saturday, and I’ll share the details of the Peter Rabbit-themed party soon.

I just can’t overstate how thankful I am to be entrusted with this little life — and to be able to celebrate a happy, healthy “big boy” today. I don’t want to take for granted what a blessing this moment in time is.

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Bye bye, pacifier!

After months of thinking about it, talking about it but ultimately putting it off due to one thing after another, we finally (finally!) said bye bye, pacifier. For Corban, mind you. Mara is still more than welcome to soothe herself through the long night with hers.

Ultimately it came down to the fact that I discovered dirt/mold inside Corban’s one remaining pacifier and I just couldn’t stomach giving it to him anymore. There’s no easy time to go through this transition, but with four weekends of travel in the past month behind us and another three weeks until we go camping, we had a window to take advantage of.

So last night we pulled up some youtube videos. First, the brilliant “Bye Bye Binky” song by Elmo (thank you, Elmo, for using your influential position among toddlers to make the world a better place for parents).

Then we trolled around for videos of other little kids saying bye bye to their pacifiers. This was enlightening. Apparently many parents tie them to balloons and send them off into the sky “for other babies who need them.” Some put them in a box and leave them overnight for the Binky Fairy to replace with a toy. Corban was enthralled by all this, but thankfully the video that resonated the most with him was one of a little boy simply throwing his pacifiers into a large garbage can in the garage.

We had been talking with him for months about someday throwing his pacifier away, and about how he doesn’t need it and he’s becoming a big boy, so this wasn’t a novel concept for him. We had even attempted a paci-trashing session a few months ago, but he genuinely seemed so disappointed to say goodbye to it that I relented and backpedaled. Maybe it’s my own memories of pacifier-sucking bliss as a child or just my reluctance to admit Corban is growing up, but even watching the darn youtube videos of kids saying bye to their pacifiers had me misty-eyed with compassion.

But this time it was happening. After all the video motivation, he was excited about getting in on the action (and possibly even more excited about watching the garbage truck come and take it away, which is a weekly highlight we enjoy together).

So we pulled out the big garbage can, let Corban sing Elmo’s binky song, and without so much as a second of hesitation he tossed the thing in. Bye bye, pacifier.

I did my part and posted the video on youtube to motivate other little ones who may be headed for Pacifier-holics Anonymous.

Of course, come bed time (a few minutes later) he was like an addict in withdrawal. Seriously. Kicking, fidgeting, crying, rolling around in bed. He begged to “put Mara’s pacifier in my mouth.” Sorry, sir. Our bedtime routine distracted him for a while, but when we left his room he would not stay in bed. After nearly an hour of whining and crying in the Pack N Play, I lay down with him in bed for about 5 minutes before he passed out.

Thankfully, he napped perfectly for our nanny today and tonight was better than last night. He only brought up the pacifier once and instead of crying he just lay awake singing and talking to himself in the Pack N Play, and eventually fell asleep on his own.

No matter what the next few nights hold, I’m glad to finally have the pacifier gone!

Snapshot of right now

I didn’t intend to let this blog sit on a negative note for so long, but somehow days, weeks, months pass and I just don’t get around to posting all that I would like to write about.

Right now I have a few minutes (hopefully a bit longer than that) while both kids nap. This morning we woke up early – 6:30 a.m. is the norm these days, especially for early bird Mara – and read and played in the nursery for a while before breakfast. I’m off work on Wednesdays, and while typically we head to a 9 a.m. women’s Bible study at church, today the study is on “spring break” so we had the morning to ourselves.

After early bird Mara went down for her first nap at 8:30 a.m., Corban and I washed dishes (he could stand on his step stool at the sink all day rinsing things) and made a broccoli salad to bring to a playdate set for later in the morning. He played independently in the sunroom while I blow dried my hair, then we got to work “training” for the Easter egg hunt our nanny is taking him to tomorrow morning. I showed him the concept, then hid some empty eggs around the sunroom and had him search for them while toting around his cloth Easter basket. Instant success in the fun department.

Mara didn’t wake up from her nap until 10:15, so as soon as she woke up I quickly fed her and got us packed up and out the door to our playdate. I’ve been part of a really fun, active moms Meetup group since Corban was 9 months old, and while my schedule doesn’t allow me to make it to a ton of playdates, there’s almost always something planned for the days I’m looking to get out with the kids. This morning it was an Easter party at a fellow mom’s house. The Easter egg hunt tomorrow is organized by a few of the moms in the group, and Friday (my other day off work) we may head to a meetup at a bounce place. Most weeks we are not nearly this active with the group!

The playdate was a hit – there were tons of toys, kids from 6 months to 3.5 years old, brunch food, a craft (which Corban lost interest in after 2.5 seconds so I meticulously finished). I got to catch up with some of the moms I hadn’t seen in a while (I can’t remember the last time we were able to make it to a meetup!). Mara just chilled (as usual) and ate a few bites of egg yolk (the one food besides milk in her diet at this point). It was a really fun morning.

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We didn’t leave till close to 1 p.m., which is Corban’s usual nap time, so I was faced with a dilemma. I needed to stop at the dollar store to pick up a few larger Easter eggs and then drop the eggs off at another mom’s house for the hunt tomorrow. I debated, do I push my luck and get this over with while we’re already in the car, or wait till after Corban’s nap? I pushed my luck, and Corban was overtired and crying by the time we got home at 2 p.m.

Thankfully sweet Mara was (barely) OK with hanging out in the jumperoo while I put out the Corban fire and finally got him to sleep. Next was Mara’s turn to eat and go down. She fell asleep rocking in my arms and I held her longer than I needed to after she was out, just to relax and enjoy her snuggled up there.

Since my last post, I’ve really tried to avoid being out of the house by myself with the kids anytime close to Corban’s naptime. It’s the easiest way to avoid meltdowns and it works – no surprise – because crabby goes hand in hand with exhausted. Today clearly I failed at that (sorry, Corban) but thankfully it wasn’t too bad.

Corban is at such a fun age – he loves to sing, read (by himself and with us), play boat (on any piece of furniture) and airplane (in any small space), wrestle, help me in the kitchen, spot animals in our backyard. He picks up on new phrases and concepts all the time. He loves being outside (spring, we are so ready for you!), stuffed animals, playing with his friends from church and being around people. He’s also able to play independently more and more, which is so sweet to watch. He calls lemons “lemonades” and requests the “teacher song” every time we’re in the car (it’s a song about the 10 commandments on a children’s catechism CD). When I close my eyes and picture him I see his little eyebrows raised in surprise and delight as he gasps, “oh!” at an exciting discovery. Everything is exciting.

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Mara is amazing. She’s along for the ride, whatever it may be on any given day. Her legs are epic-ly chubby and her cheeks are just so kissable. Most people comment on her eyes, which are a striking gray-blue-turning-brown color. She is a happy girl and laughs a lot. She loves shaking rattles and toys, grabbing books and stuffed animals (really, anything), practicing sitting (still wobbly and will occasionally face-plant and make me feel horrible for not catching her) and “flying” up and down in my hands – an excellent arm workout since she weighs probably close to 20 pounds.

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Other notable items in this snapshot of right now: We are now aunt/uncle/cousins thanks to the birth of my sister’s little girl last week, Peter started a new job this week and I got my first Stitchfix in the mail yesterday (I know that absolutely pales in comparison to the first two items, but it made me giddy and if I had more time right now I would blog about it. Maybe later.)

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Hope you’re having a good week and can stop to capture the “right now”… in words, a photo or just in your memory.

Basketball-themed 2nd birthday party

If only every birthday could be as joy-filled as a 2nd birthday!

My baby Corban turned two years old yesterday, and if I stop and ruminate on that for too long I’ll get teary eyed. He had a most wonderful day celebrating with family, and I had the best time watching him enjoy himself so much.

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We decided for birthday #2 to do a family party, and since none of our families live in the same state as us, we moved the festivities to my parents’ house. One of Corban’s main loves right now is basketball, so a basketball-themed party it was. This was definitely an easy theme to pull off.

Basketball eating paraphernalia…

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Basketball cake on a basketball court table cloth…

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Basketball cookies…

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Basketball mandarin oranges…

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And (not pictured) basketball cutouts hanging from the ceiling and other assorted basketball decorations. I had to resist buying a basketball piñata from the party store…

The menu:

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We just did appetizer foods since the party was at 2:30 in the afternoon. It’s not easy picking a party time for a 2-year-old, and we failed miserably with our 2:30 gamble. Corban would not fall asleep for his nap when we put him down at noon. I’m sure the fact that he knew it was his birthday and that we were having cake later did not help. As our final last-ditch effort, Peter lay down with him until he passed out… at 2:15. So we let the birthday boy nap for an hour and be late for his own party.

After being woken up from his nap and presented into a basketball-laden basement full of both strange and familiar faces, Corban was a little overwhelmed. He quickly warmed up, though.

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Aside from his little sister, C was the only kid at his party. And Mara snoozed almost the entire time.

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He I was honored to have some of my dear high school friends in attendance, though.

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After a while, Corban got ahold of a dessert plate and a fork and made it known that he was ready for cake.

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“Cake? Cake?”

He had this very disconcerted look on his face the entire time as we sang to him. His head turned from one side of the room to the other, slowly taking it all in.

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But at the end of the song, he knew what to do.

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And then he stuck his fork in the cake, claiming it as his own.

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I debated telling guests not to bring a gift, like we did for Corban’s first birthday, but I’m glad I didn’t because Corban had SO much fun opening gifts.

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He reacted with such genuine pleasure after each one. He wanted to stop and play with each gift immediately after opening it.

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We had to whisk them away from him to keep things moving along.

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“The first Elmo that hugs back” — a little creepy, but C is in love with “Big Elmo.”

Corban slept on our long, snowy drive back home last night. He woke up as we pulled in, so I sat him in my lap in his room to read a book before putting him back to sleep. After we read, he groggily murmured, “Birthday,” followed by, “cake…” and “people…” and I could see the little wheels turning in his head as he processed the day and his very special party. It makes me so content to witness such pure toddler joy and wonder every day, and when it comes to joy and wonder his second birthday just couldn’t be topped.

Since I probably won’t get the chance to write a separate two-year update, here are just some of the things I don’t want to forget about my sweet little Corban at age two:

  • The way he pumps one arm up and down so fiercely when he runs.
  • Playing fire truck on the basement couch. He demands that I drive (fast), he honk the horn and we both get out and fight the fire with pool noodles.
  • His little voice saying, “Miss!” when he or someone else misses a basketball shot.
  • His backseat renditions of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”
  • His repeated requests for “Monkey song” on my phone.
  • The way he counts — adding emphasis to every third number or so (“one, two, THREE!! four, five, six, SEVEN!!”)
  • The way he eagerly points out, “Open eyes?” when Mara wakes up, and always looks out for his sister’s wellbeing by putting her pacifier back in her mouth, alerting me when she spits up or rocking her car seat if she starts fussing when we’re at the grocery store. He also points out when she smiles, or asks me to make her smile.
  • The way he pronounces Corban (“Corgo”) and refers to himself in the third person.
  • His love for Biggles and daily requests to have him sit in his lap or come play with him.
  • How his imagination is just beginning to blossom: he treats his stuffed animals like best friends, soaks in the pretend games I teach him (like fire truck, picnic and singing performances) and reads to himself.
  • The irrepressible fun he has with his little friends, and how he mentions them by (mispronounced) name when he’s not with them.
  • The feel of his snuggly head on my shoulder as I hold him and sing to him before bed.

I finally did a quick glance through all the video clips I’ve collected over the past two years and put together a snapshot of Corban’s life thus far to screen at his party. Here it is. Amazing how quickly these two years have gone by!

Corban at 21 months

Corban turned 21 months old on the same day Mara turned one week old. It’s crazy looking at her, and then looking at him, and remembering that he used to be that tiny (even tinier!) just 21 months ago.

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These past two weeks have been such a blessing for many reasons, but one big one is that I’ve gotten to spend a lot of time with Corban. Being home and being around him all the time has helped me get to know him better as a little person. I’ve come to better appreciate what a smart, funny, sweet little boy he is. He keeps me laughing every day. As exhausting as it can be taking care of a toddler, I try not to wish time away because it truly is a blast having little 21-month-old Corban in my life.

So, what’s new in Corban’s world?

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Talking

The biggest change from my last Corban update is his language development. He is saying lots of words now! And he even started stringing a select few nouns and verbs together. This came at the perfect time. I think juggling a newborn and a toddler would be much more difficult without the added clarity that language brings to communication.

It’s so much fun hearing the new words Corban picks up on – one of my favorites is smoothie (one of his favorite things to eat/drink), which he pronounces “moo-ee” (see video here). I’ve also been impressed a few times by the connections he makes and then articulates. For example, he heard a neighbor’s lawnmower the other evening and started pointing and saying, “Dada?” Or at the store the other day he saw a picture of a baby on a box, then pointed to my chest and said “baby.” Yup, baby Mara does nurse a lot…

Seemingly overnight he started recognizing and saying the names of people he sees most often. He has been saying Mama and Dada for a while, but while looking through pictures on my phone one day (one of his absolute favorite activities) he pointed at a picture of my mom and said “Dee Dee” (his name for her), then a picture of my dad and said “Papa.” When Peter’s parents came to visit, he immediately started calling Peter’s dad “Papa” even though we haven’t really referred to him that way. I told him I was calling our nanny one afternoon, and when he realized I had hung up and he hadn’t talked to her, he came running over repeating her name frantically.

It’s also funny the connections he makes with people and certain objects. He pulled out coffee filters this weekend and said “Dee Dee,” which makes sense since we rarely make coffee, but she does every time she visits.

Singing

It melts my heart when Corban sings, and, much to my delight, his repertoire is growing. When he was a few months younger, he would make feeble attempts at The Itsy Bitsy Spider, but the first song he really learned to sing was Ring Around the Rosie (he sings “Ashes, ashes” over and over). He is also obsessed with playing Ring Around the Rosie with us or with his stuffed animals.

Next, he started singing The Wheels on the Bus, or, more accurately, the line “all through the town.” He also does all the hand motions and some sounds for the verses. Then one day I heard him singing “ee-i-ee-i-o,” and an approximation of “row row row your boat,” then Patty Cake, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star… it’s so exciting when I actually recognize what he’s singing! Needless to say, we do lots of singing around here, with hand motions for everything.

Big brother

One of Corban’s favorite words, and one that sounds the cutest coming out of his mouth, is “baby.” Ever since Mara entered our family, he has been saying it all the time. (See video of him saying it here.)

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He is still very interested in Mara when she is brought to his attention. She is pretty inoffensive to him right now, since she sleeps almost all the time, so he doesn’t seem to have any hard feelings toward her. He likes to touch her head and look at her. He is also really into being a helper. He loves to hand us a diaper or get a wipe wet for us. He gets upset if we don’t pick him up and let him attempt to wipe her (basically, place the wipe on the changing table). He loves some of the baby equipment we have out now – cradle, nursing pillow, co-sleeper – and we have to keep an eye on him so he doesn’t dump Mara right out so he can play with it. He hasn’t displayed any malice toward her, but he just isn’t quite capable of being gentle or careful around her so we have to watch him anytime they are in the same room. He has been known to happily attempt to throw her a soccer ball…

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Discipline

Over the past two weeks the concept of “time out” has really started to sink in with Corban. If he doesn’t listen to us, we ask him, “Do you want to go on time out?” About two-thirds of the time he will shake his head and immediately do what we’re asking him to do. The other third of the time, he will continue to disobey us and we will immediately carry him into his crib, tell him he gets a one-minute time out for not listening to us, and then leave him in there alone for a minute. I’m pleasantly surprised by how successful this has been in getting him to obey us. I think the key is to only threaten time out if you’re willing to follow through.

OCD toddler

One thing that has become very apparent to me in recent weeks is that Corban is very orderly. He has always been really into picking up miniscule pieces of fuzz or trash off the floor and throwing it in the garbage, but now he has a whole collection of quirky OCD preferences. He will not sit in his high chair without washing his hands — in fact, if he hears water running, he will want to wash his hands. He asks for his pacifier to be washed, and he asks to help wash dishes. “Wash” is definitely a favorite word. And yet he still loves getting dirty outside, whether it’s in dirt, sand or rocks.

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When it comes to his toys, he is happy to leave them strewn around the family room unless we prompt him to pick them up, but certain other things he is meticulous about putting in their place. We had a bunch of blocks stored in a tupperware container on a shelf, and without us even realizing it, one night he dumped the blocks out and put the container back in the cabinet with the rest of the tupperware. He also loves to help sweep, Swiffer and mop the floors. He’s afraid of the vacuum, though.

Favorites:

Elmo. We let Corban watch Sesame Street in bed with us every morning (our guilty way of getting some extra sleep) and like every toddler before him, he now has a strong affinity for the red, fuzzy muppet with a high-pitched, baby voice. He likes to feed his new Elmo stuffed animal snacks and let him drink from his milk cup.

Kissing his stuffed animals goodbye.

Smoothies.

Drinking from our water glasses.

Helping – everything from putting fruit into the blender for his smoothies to watering the garden.

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Baths.

Playing ball. Corban now knows how to kick a soccer ball, but his favorite is asking us to throw his beach ball really high up in the air — either to hit a tree branch outside or the high ceilings in our family room.

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Nursery Treasury. We flip through this thick book for about 10 minutes at least once or twice a day. It’s filled with tons of songs, nursery rhymes, bizarre folk rhymes and longer fairy tales (that we skip over for now). I think Corban first started requesting it because it’s long enough to significantly prolong his bedtime or naptime routine, but we’ve all grown attached to the ritual of singing the songs and silly rhymes in it before bed. He especially loves the ones with hand motions.

Rhymes and songs in general.

His blanket. He is more attached than ever.

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Dada. He has always been obsessed with Peter, and it continues. Now that I’m more occupied with Mara in the evenings, Peter has started putting Corban to bed some nights and now Corban pretty much demands Peter at bedtime (which makes me a little sad). He also mimics Peter’s body language at times… attempting to cross his arms if he notices Peter’s arms are crossed, etc.

Slides.

Being carried. “Up up up” is a common request, and one that’s hard to resist.

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Hats.

Swiping rapidly through the photos on my iPhone and watching videos of himself and people he knows. (He’s obsessed.)

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Stats

Weight: ~30 pounds
Height: 34 inches
Clothes size: 24 months
Shoe size: 6
Teeth: Possibly teething right now for two-year molars.

Corban at 19 months

I intended to write an 18-month update, but kept putting it off and now Corban is 19 months old! Where to begin?

 

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Corban is definitely a toddler now. He has distinct likes and dislikes, and is so much fun to play and engage with. He throws fits when he doesn’t get his way, but we can usually distract him to end the tears. It’s fascinating to see him experience the world. Everything is so interesting and exciting to him! When he finds a game he likes, he wants to repeat it over and over. Even something simple like me looking away and then snapping my face towards him and grinning can provide prolonged entertainment. Anything can be a game.

Talking

The past couple months have been all about language and communication. After he mastered all the animal noises I mentioned in his 16-month update, Corban started waving and saying “bah-bah” whenever we would leave somewhere or prompt him to say bye. Now, he says bye (in his little Southern-sounding voice) to everything — animals at the petting zoo, toys we’re putting away, his car seat. My favorite was after I washed his hands last week and he waved and said “baahh” to the bar of soap.

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His other favorite word is “yes,” which sounds like “yeths” or “ess.” Though his speech is still limited, he understands quite a lot, so we often ask him yes or no questions about his preferences and he’ll either say yes and smile or shake his head no.

Probably his third most solid word is ball (“bah”), which he says unprompted whenever he sees one (including the big red spheres on the sidewalk in front of Target — know what I’m talking about?)

If prompted, Corban will say bubble, blueberry, banana, please (just the p sound so far), mama, dada, more and, my absolute favorite, avocado.

Here he is tonight saying his version of avocado, his favorite food.

While I was shooting this video, Biggles jumped on the counter and started munching on my dinner, so I told Corban to say “bad cat” and he surprisingly picked up on the sounds right away. I think we’re on the verge of a language explosion.

Language Comprehension

We have a new favorite game as of the past month or two — identifying objects in picture books. This Sesame Street look and find book is the best for this. It’s huge, colorful and filled with pictures of fun, everyday things (plus some silly things) to identify. He’s learned so many words from this and other books with big illustrated scenes — clowns, fire hydrant, mittens, grasshopper, bench, the list goes on. And it amazes me how quickly he learns and memorizes the names for new objects we teach him from pictures. When I first discovered that Corban could point out specific animals I asked him about in books, it was one of the most exciting parenting moments so far. Now it’s part of our daily routine and can keep Corban engaged for a long time.

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Sleeping

Our bedtime routine has become something I cherish (most) every night. It starts between 7:20 and 7:30 and goes something like this: diaper change, PJs on, read in my lap while drinking milk, pray, sing or hum my made-up snuggle puppy song while he rests his head on my shoulder, then rest him in the crib with his blanket and say goodnight. I’m out of the room by 7:40 most nights, and Corban either goes right to sleep or talks and sings to himself for a few minutes before drifting off. He usually gets a solid 11 hours of sleep and wakes between 6:30 and 7 a.m.

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This sweet time of the evening turned into a warzone right around 18 months. Our consistent, great sleeper totally went through an 18-month sleep regression. For about two weeks, he just would not go to bed at bedtime. He’d fight his diaper change, fight his pajamas, refuse his milk, squirm out of my lap and do everything he could to reverse the progression of our routine — run around, escape out of his room, grab book after book to restlessly read, scream and cry. When I would finally get him into his crib, usually around 8, he would cry sometimes until 8:30 before passing out. Any contact during that time would just prolong the misery — of course if we picked him up and held him he would calm down, only to cry again the instant we made a move toward the crib. Our pediatrician said this was totally normal, and that we have to resist Corban’s trickery and stick to his bedtime. Thankfully, it got better and we’re back to a pleasant routine.

Even during the regression, naptime remained a consistent 1.5- to 2.5-hour affair every afternoon from about noon to 2 p.m.

While we were on vacation in Branson, Mo., this past week, we learned just how valuable an early bedtime and sufficient sleep is. He stayed up late several nights and the next day was a different kid — totally crabby and frustrating. Not worth it!

Favorites

Doing this cheesy grin to make people laugh:

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Throwing things (usually balls).

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Sitting in the driver’s seat of cars (or boats).

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Playing ring around the rosie.

Singing songs with hand motions, like Itsy Bitsy Spider and The Wheels on the Bus.

Sesame Street or Curious George in the morning (Daddy’s guilty pleasure so he can snooze while I’m in the shower).

Avocado.

Stuffed animals (he’ll hug every single one in a store).

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Blowing bubbles.

Giving kisses (nothing better than receiving a sweet Corban kiss!)

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Sweeping or playing with anything that has a long stick (like any cleaning tool — mop, pool cleaner, Swiffer, etc.)

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Our poor cats.

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Eating with utensils.

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Ketchup.

Rocks.

Pushing his stroller.

Pressing his mouth against glass doors.

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The two rides he could go on at Silver Dollar City.

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Stats

Weight: ~27 pounds
Height: 34 inches
Clothes size: 18 months
Diaper size: Size 4, but we switched to cloth a few weeks ago! So third or fourth snap in on BumGenius 4.0s. Separate post to come on that.
Shoe size: 5 or 6
Teeth: Aside from his last set of molars, two more teeth are coming in right now and that just about completes the set.

One more video – Corban doing the hand motions to the Itsy Bitsy Spider.

Corban’s 15- and 16-month update

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I started writing this about a month ago, as a 15-month update, but never finished or posted it. Such is life. That update was written while I was in the throes of morning sickness and emotional stress/sadness while Pa was sick, so it started like this:

This past month or so has been a challenge for all sorts of reasons. But through the ups and downs Corban continues to be a bright, beaming light to me every day. And even though I’ve felt at times like I’m coasting through as a mom and not giving him 100%, he continues to learn, grow, impress us and make us smile.

Thankfully, I am feeling much more like myself now, so I’ve been able to enjoy the fun of having a sweet toddler this month. He has changed so much since the last update I wrote, at 13.5 months! Here are some of the adventures and milestones he’s experienced in that time:

  • Started walking
  • Said his first word (well, sort of…)
  • Started understanding and following directions
  • Weaned completely from breastmilk/nursing
  • Switched to a convertible car seat
  • Had his first haircut
  • Learned how to open doors
  • Learned to walk (not crawl) up very small steps
  • Flew on an airplane for the second time in his life

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Busy few months, I guess. Each new skill so naturally builds upon every other that these milestones just keep creeping up on us.

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Walking

C took his first steps at almost 14 months, and now he walks all over like a pro. When he’s tired or overexcited he might get clumsy and falls on his big diapered butt, but he gets right back up again like nothing happened. He tries to run if you pretend to chase him, but usually gets too giggly and trips. It still makes me smile to see him toddling all over the house like a little busybody.

Talking

He has absolutely mastered the point, gesture and grunt to communicate his desires to us. He used to consistently sign things like all done, more and eat, and he sometimes does that still, but now is more apt to use sounds and facial expressions to communicate. He is surprisingly effective at telling us what he wants – but without using real words.

I have been eagerly awaiting a “mama” or “dada” (which we reinforce constantly to him), but instead I think Corban’s first official word is “dog.”

No, we don’t have a dog. We have cats. But Corban still thinks almost every four-legged creature says “woof woof” and, starting about three weeks ago, will point at them and bark and occasionally say “dah,” which I interpret as dog.

For a while he would constantly point at things and says “dis,” but I think “dog” is more of a real first word than “this” since “this” can refer to anything.

Over the past few days he has been saying “bah,” a lot, sometimes possibly in reference to a banana, but several times when I pointed to a picture of a sheep and asked him what sound it makes. Another new one is “aaarrr,” like a lion roaring. Yes, our child makes lots of animal noises (see video at end of post).

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Listening

Although he hasn’t done much talking yet, it’s been amazing to see Corban’s language comprehension really take off these past couple months. He understands and obeys when we ask him to go get a book off the shelf, put something away, go give something to mama or dada, find a diaper, go get his blocks, throw something in the garbage, go find Biggles/Basil, get his blanket and various other simple instructions. Every time he hears a phone ring, he puts his hand to his ear like he is holding a phone. It’s so much fun seeing the things he picks up just by observation.

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Eating

Corban is generally a good eater, but I feel like I bore him with the same rotation of foods in his diet. His nanny and I try to ensure he gets a good balance of grains, fruits, veggies, protein and dairy, but because of a combination of his preferences and my shopping habits, that means he eats some combination of eggs, plain yogurt, peanut butter, toast, bananas, cooked carrots, cheese, hummus and a few other fruits and veggies almost every day. It’s easy, healthy and he likes it, so I guess I shouldn’t worry, but other ideas would be welcome. He rejects most meat I have tried to feed him recently. Green smoothies are my new favorite way to get some extra veggies in him.

He went through a phase where he was obsessed with eating whole apples. He would spend a good 45 minutes working his way (partially) through one in tiny bites, with a huge grin on his face the entire time.

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Sleeping

Happy to report we are at a REALLY good place with sleeping! Corban naps for usually 1.5 to 2 hours right after lunch (usually asleep around noon). Bedtime is 7:30 p.m. He goes down without a problem and sleeps until the early morning, when Peter may go in and replace his pacifier to get him to go back to sleep. Up for the day between 7 and 7:30 a.m.*  I’d better hurry up and enjoy this before we start all over with #2!

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He has become attached to a blanket my friend Jess crocheted for him last Easter. He threads his fingers through the holes and picks fuzz off of it for comfort.

*Of course… I typed this two days ago and the past two mornings he has woken up in the 6 a.m. hour. Grr!

Fun

Current obsessions:

Being outside. This really took off when we were on vacation in South Carolina two weeks ago. He was fascinated by the snowless ground, filled with sticks, leaves, pine cones and other exciting things to pick up and carry around.

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But even before that, he enjoyed playing in the snow.

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He loves walking around outside and going to the park.

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This past week has been cold and rainy almost every day, and Corban doesn’t understand why we aren’t taking him outside. A few times he carried his and Peter’s coats over to Peter, his way of asking to go out. One time he even carried both of Peter’s big shoes over to him. Don’t worry, C, we aren’t fans of this weather either.

Balls. Corban loves to play catch (though he can’t catch yet) with tennis balls, a beach ball or balloons.

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Climbing. We are his human jungle gym and climbing on us while we’re lying down can entertain him for a long time.

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When Peter and I hug or kiss. This is highly amusing to Corban. He grins and laughs hysterically. I’m sure someday he will have the opposite reaction…

Jumperoo. We still have the Jumperoo out (even though I am sick of seeing it in our family room) because our nanny’s son uses it while she is putting Corban down for naps. Surprisingly, Corban still asks to go in it sometimes and has an absolute ball bouncing around. I never would have guessed he would still be into that thing at 16 months.

Stairs. Ugh. He doesn’t get to climb stairs very often because we have a one-story house, so you bet that the first thing he runs for at church or someone else’s house is the staircase. He has never fallen, but still needs supervision, which is the inconvenient part because he would be happy climbing up and down stairs for hours.

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Touch screens. He thinks every screen is a touch screen, and tried swiping at a friend’s TV the other weekend. I let him hold my phone and play with it, usually only while it’s locked, and he is usually sufficiently entertained by pressing the home button to reveal a photo of himself at one day old. A couple months ago I showed him the Gangnam Style music video on my phone and he was riveted. Eventually he started dancing, and then bent down to kiss the screen and put his face/ear on it.

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Humidifiers. This love has subsided quite a bit, but for a long time he was really into playing with humidifiers. We turn one on at night in his room, for white noise and to keep the air from getting too dry in the winter, and he used to freak out over it — squealing, clapping, putting his face over the vent.

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Stickers. A cheap thrill, but now I find them in unexpected places all over the house.

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“Cooking.” I designated a plastic spatula for him to play with and he likes to get a mixing bowl out of the cabinet and sit and stir the bowl while I’m cooking. It will be fun to try actual cooking with him when he’s a little older!

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“Helping.” Unloading the dishwasher, sweeping, doing laundry… these are all exciting activities in Corban’s world. He loved the Swiffer in the house we rented in South Carolina, so I’m thinking we should get one. Productive playtime!

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Brushing his teeth. If he sees you brushing his teeth, he tries to grab your toothbrush and put it in his mouth. He smiles while I brush his teeth with his apparently very yummy toddler toothpaste.

Whew. It’s daunting catching up on 2.5 months of changes. And these are just the highlights. I keep thinking I’ll focus these updates more on my thoughts as a parent, but I like recording the details of Corban’s development (with photos) for both myself and far-away family and friends. I’ll leave you with some quick stats:

Height: 32 inches at 15-month appointment (80th percentile)
Weight: 24 pounds 4 ounces at 15-month appointment (75th percentile)
Clothes size: 18 months
Diaper size: 3 during the day, 4 at night (in Target brand — other brands tend to run smaller)
Shoe size: 5
Teeth: 14, I think, including 4 molars
Words: Woof woof, baah, dah (dog), aaarrr (roar)

And here he is yesterday showing off some of his animal noises. All but woof woof are recent developments within the past week.

13.5-month update

13.5 months? Wouldn’t you just round that to one year? That’s what I always thought before having Corban. I actually thought it was kind of ridiculous when people would say their baby was “13 months old.”

But now I’m the one doing that, because, as it turns out, a lot can happen in a month.

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It’s hard to believe it’s only been roughly six weeks since Corban’s first birthday. It seems like he’s changed so much in that time, but then again, I think I say that every month. Here are some milestones of the past month and a half:

Communication Skills

He is getting much more proficient at communicating with us. It’s amazing to witness this process! He points to his mouth if he sees food and he’s hungry. He will clap and sometimes wave on command. He gives sloppy, open-mouthed kisses if you ask for one  (the best!). He will say “woof, woof” if he hears someone talking about a dog or sees any animal resembling a dog (this includes cats — both live and in books — and just about every farm animal). Actually, we’re pretty sure he just thinks animals in general are called “woof, woofs.” We’re working on introducing some meows and moos into his vocabulary.

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Standing

The biggest physical development of these past six weeks is his ability to stand unsupported. He usually will only do this if you’re sitting on the floor with him and stand him up, but he finds it hilarious and waves and laughs the entire time he’s up (the video at the end of this post demonstrates this). We think his record is about 15 seconds. This new ability has made him much more proficient at walking while holding our hand(s), and he can walk across the entire house this way. If he really wants to get somewhere though, he’ll crawl (super fast) or reach for us to pick him up and then point to where he wants to be carried.

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Hair

His hair is out of control! Actually, it’s just the front that is an issue. It doesn’t like to stay brushed to the side and is getting quite long. But I’m still not emotionally ready for the first haircut, so we’ll continue to attempt to sweep it out of his eyes. It doesn’t seem to bother him at all.

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Play Time

He loves zooming cars around on the floor, especially little Hot Wheels. Still enjoys dancing, and sometimes “singing” with us. Buttons and touch screens are absolutely fascinating.

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He’s really into books, and has definite preferences for certain books. If he’s in a picky mood he will reject each book you offer until you hold up the one he wants. This is usually any of the three “Spot” books we own (they are the best! Perfect size, storylines, flaps, pictures, etc.), “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You Hear?” or “Where is Baby’s Bellybutton?”

Corban now uses his shape sorter as a shape sorter (rather than just a bucket) and after a few tries can usually fit the shape through the correct slot. He adores his counting piggy bank my parents gave him for his birthday, and also got tons of use out of his Little People nativity set from Peter’s parents before we put it away for the season.

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He also loves putting this plastic bucket on his head – his “helmet” – and wearing it around while talking to himself in the echo chamber.

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Weaning

Ah, yes. Right when he turned one, it seemed time to officially start the process of weaning. We are now down to one nursing session a day, in the morning right when he wakes up. I always thought the bedtime nursing would be the last to go, but we both seem to enjoy it most in the morning. I’m guessing my milk supply will naturally deplete over the next few weeks and that will probably be the end. *Tear!* But weaning has actually been very natural and comfortable (minus a few days of physical discomfort for me) for us both so far. I’m thankful for that.

Thanks to my ridiculous freezer stock of breast milk, he still has at least three bottles of breast milk a day and we probably have another month of milk left. I admit, it is nice to clear some space in the freezer, though.

I will probably do a separate post about the weaning process, so leave a comment or email me if you have any questions!

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Holidays

I almost forgot, Corban experienced his second Christmas and New Year’s Eve this past month. He got to see two cousins who are a little bit older than him.

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Can you handle this?

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Christmas Eve was such a sweet (and toy-filled) night with my mom’s side of the family.

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We didn’t spoil him on Christmas Day, but he loved his new sled.

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Corban also got a kick out of riding around in Pa’s walker like it was a stroller.

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Sleep

Huge improvements/changes in sleep this past month! I finally weaned him from nursing in the middle of the night, which doesn’t mean he is consistently sleeping through the night (yet, at least), but he is sleeping through the night a lot more. Peter and I switch off nights getting up and getting him back to sleep if need be. This usually involves replacing the pacifier, re-covering him with his blanket and rubbing his back for a couple minutes. I’d like the back-rubbing part to go down the drain, but we’re taking this one step at a time.

He is definitely down to one nap a day now. That was a somewhat rocky transition, but now he naps for 1.5 to 2 hours starting in the late morning or early afternoon. This is much better than our previous mid-morning and late-afternoon nap schedule, which often involved either a battle for the second nap or a cranky, awake baby.

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Food

Corban’s appetite is sometimes shocking. He’s unleashed an undying love for frozen peas/carrots blend, and if he’s in the right mood he can eat half a bag in one sitting. I maintain that he is welcome to eat as many veggies as his little stomach desires! His other main food groups are bread, Cheerios, bananas, grapes, scrambled eggs, plain yogurt and cantaloupe. I need to find some more easy foods for him because the aforementioned make up probably 90% of his diet.

He has mastered the art of drinking water from his straw cup, and we also introduced a travel mug-like sippy cup (this one, specifically). It’s basically a baby version of a travel coffee mug, with a lid with a small opening. I like it because he is learning to drink like you drink from a regular cup (which is the end goal) — just with less spillage. I took the no-spill suction thing out so he can drink it without sucking like he would from a bottle.

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Life is good with this little one in it. My love for him grows as he grows. Each new development and personality quirk is such a blessing.

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In Action!

Here’s a video of Corban from earlier this month when he first started standing on his own (right at 13 months old). Note how thrilling the novelty of it is to him!

P.S. I completed my attempt at taking and posting a photo of Corban each day of his first year. Here is the finished project.