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Two years ago I was newly pregnant, very freaked out but also hoping that I was on the verge of something awesome.

Boy, was I.

Today, Owl is 16 months old.

I’ve never been big on toddlers. Little babies are good because they’re so simple to interact with. Hugs and tickles = good. The end. Kids are fun, too, because you can play imaginative games and read stories with them and listen to their peculiar world views.

But toddlers are just sort of… in between. Especially the 1-2 year old set. They LOOK like little people. They walk like little people. They have strong opinions like little people. But really… they’re babies. They can’t have a conversation with you, they don’t understand English all that well, and they certainly have no capacity for reason.

And they always seem to have baked beans on their face.

So I always saw the toddler stage as something I would just suffer through.

But actually? It’s been SO MUCH FUN.

Watching Owl’s language capacity expanding day by day is frigging awesome. Before you have kids, you wonder how someone can get so excited just because their child learned where his own nose is. But when you realize that you MADE something that can identify the location of its own nose, you can’t help but get really excited.

Especially when you remember the days when this self same person couldn’t even hold up his own head.

It’s hard to keep track of language milestones when you’re doing baby sign language, because it isn’t mainstream enough to provide a large enough statistical pool. 

That being said, I think that Owl is about average for his age. When it comes to actual spoken words, he says “mama”, “dada”, “da” (which means dog, cat, duck, and several other things), “nana” (meaning my mother or a banana), “brr” (meaning book or bear or bird or boat), “ho” (horse), “ball”, “down”, “uh” (up), a strangled “ggraaghhh” which is his attempt at “cracker”, “uh-oh”, and today he developed “awa” (whale or water).

But when you add in his signs, his vocabulary is much larger. It is thanks to the signs that we know the difference between dog, cat, and duck, or between bird, book, bear, and boat. The vast majority of his words are beyond his sad little attempts at pronunciation. We find it hard to keep up with him, but we estimate his total vocabulary to be around 40-50 words.

Sounds impressive, but really, since he only has 8 or 9 spoken words, I think he’s bang on average for his age.

It’s still fun to watch. He is hungry for words and will turn through a book obsessively, identifying nouns, and studying us closely when we show him a new sign.

Do you mind? My book and I are having a private moment.

In fact, he largely ignores all other toys, choosing instead to identify things in his books again and again and AGAIN.

His walking is pretty good now, and he’s almost running. He does a funny little  waddle run, which is usually ended by a tumble and a little voice going “uh-oh…”

This seems totally safe to run on!

He’s just full of giggles and silliness (my in-laws complimented us on his “advanced” sense of humor. Not sure what that means considering that he still thinks that being dangled upside down is the height of comedy, closely followed by me pretending to be scared of him).

Daycare Lady still praises his easy going and cheerful nature, which should be hilarious to anyone who remembers his newborn days. 

I’m not sure I’d really call Owl easy going. He’s… INTENSE. When he’s happy, he’s very, very happy. When he’s upset, he’s VERY LOUD ABOUT IT. Thankfully he is confidant and generally disposed to be happy most of the time.

The only thing that he really has tantrums about is nursing.

He is still a savage nurser, insisting on milk constantly when I’m around, although he happily goes all day without it at daycare. If milk isn’t delivered the second he starts signing ‘MILK, PLEASE, PLEASE, MILK, MILK, PLEASE?” he starts to freak out – getting clingy and whiny and then I need to talk him into a calm state before I will actually let him nurse.

If I’m holding him and he wants to nurse but I need to put him down so I can, say, take off my coat to expose my boobas, he pulls his legs up to his belly and clings to me like some kind of simian.

He’s a little crazy about the boobas. 

I know that if I cut out all nighttime nursing he’d probably be sleeping through the night – we cut down to just one nursing at 3-4 AM and he started sleeping from bed time (the earliest we seem able to get him down is 8:30 pm, which seems late, but he JUST WON’T GO DOWN earlier) until that early morning nurse.

The last few days that seems to have gone to hell, but I think he’s teething again.

I should probably work on getting him off of that 3 AM nursing session, and then I’d have a baby who sleeps through the night, probably, most nights. Some nights any way.

But it’s so hard to stay conscious long enough to put him back down any other way. This is my failing, not his.

The nursing demands cause so many problems that I think I would consider weaning if it weren’t for two things:

1) Clearly he’s not ready to wean, and I can’t imagine what forcing him away from the booba would be like. VERY LOUD, no doubt.

2) He’s still tiny. He’s 9.5 kg, according to the scale at daycare, and that’s in light clothing, including his cloth diaper. Now, he hasn’t dropped his percentiles much (for a while there he slipped down to, like, the 9th percentile, but as you folks predicted, he has regained that lost weight.) but still – he’s wee.

I’m okay with his teenyness, but right now the last thing PH and I want to do is deprive him of any possible extra calories because clearly he needs them. His enthusiasm for food rivals the average Labrador Retriever.

Last month Daycare Lady handed him a piece of cheese, and he was so excited that he fell right out of his chair and knocked his face on the side of the table. He then screamed until he ran out of air and contiued to scream silently for a while BUT NEVER ONCE RELINQUISHED HIS HOLD ON THE CHEESE.  He then proceeded to continue to cry for the next 5 or 10 minutes – a long time, for him – WHILE DEVOURING THE CHEESE.

No, I don't beat my baby. There was just an incident with some cheese.

Today I fed Owl several mandarin oranges, some waffle, some crackers, and then two bowls of spaghetti with meat sauce and cheese. Then we want to a friend’s house where he spent the next THREE HOURS eating grapes, strawberries, nuts, pretzels, carrots, brocolli, and more NON-STOP.

This is NORMAL for him, and still you can see the knobs on his spine when he bends over.

Wee Owl

In fact, since we’re afraid that giving him cow’s milk will bring back the diarrhea, and since I can never seem to pump more than two or three ounces in a day, we’re seriously talking about buying him some formula for daycare, because I have forbidden juice, and water just doesn’t have enough calories.

We have to keep up his calories, because clearly he’s burning them somewhere.

Either that or he has a tapeworm.

I wish I had this problem.

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