February 22, 2009

Spicy Alden

Alden seasons our floor. 

February 21, 2009

Scooty Alden

The double leg scoot (done when happy)

The winter is still keeping things slow in our lives, which means Alden is the news of the day. As of Friday morning he decided he could stand on his own. He could do this trick several weeks ago, but was not psychologically ready. He would stand for a few seconds, then whine, then crumble. Now he stands and beams... he is so proud of himself.

We figure walking is just around the corner. He is pretty much ready to walk, but isn't psychologically ready. In any case we figured we should capture his odd crawling style before it is gone forever in favor of upright locomotion.

The standard scoot (done for speed)

February 8, 2009

Sleeping and Speaking Tales

Kerstin mentioned briefly that Alden is now sleeping through the night. This was a hard fought victory with many nights of tears, tantrums and bleary eyes. We got the ultimatum from our pediatrician at Alden's last check up that he wasn't getting enough sleep and we needed to get serious. The problem, she informed us, is that Alden associates nursing with sleep, so when he wakes at night and he finds himself in a different location than where he fell asleep, he doesn't know how to get himself back down again without another wee dram. While this fact is no doubt obvious to everyone who has ever listened to me grouse about Alden's crappy sleeping habits, what wasn't so obvious was how to break him of this habit. The pediatrician suggested putting him in his crib when he was groggy, but still awake and waiting for 15 minutes before going to comfort him when he cried. We'd tried this approach briefly at about 8 months and found it made the situation much worse, but she insisted we just didn't give it enough time. Fair enough. I was willing to try anything at this point. Going a full year without a good night of sleep is tantamount to a frontal lobotomy and I was willing to do anything to get my old self back.

We tried the new sleeping strategy for about 3 days and suffered terribly. I'll spare you the gory details, but trust me, it was horrible. Kerstin and I were pretty sure that Alden would never love us again after what we put him through, and fell into that overcompensating parent trap in the mornings afterward. You want chocolate for breakfast? Want to walk around and around and around the house until our arms fall off? Done and done! Who wants extra hugs?...

I think we made matters worse by moving Alden's crib back into his room before implementing the new policy. In retrospect, we probably should have gently eased him into this transition and will probably be sidled with years of child therapy because of our actions. After a few nights of hell and feeling like I was the worst mother in the world, I called Gillian, who had recently converted her fitful sleeper into an all-nighter, and begged for help. She graciously loaned me a book outlining a similar, but in my opinion, more humane method where the time between visits was much shorter than 15 minutes. Alden went down on his own after only 8 minutes of fussing and then slept for 10 glorious hours on the very first night we tried her method. I'm a total convert to Ferberism. 

Sleeping has been 95% better and most nights he's down for at least 8 hours at a time. We still suffer through the occasional ear infection and nap time swings wildly between uncomfortably long and epic battle to go down/stay down. Alden is not a particularly verbal baby yet and seems to prefer that we continue to communicate with him through mind-reading. He babbles a lot (with choice words like "bwap" - which I think might mean ball, "bots" "deethz" and "schepptj") but "mama" is still too tricky. He says "dada" all the time, but just whines when he wants me, which kind of crisps my cookies. This morning he said "nana" for banana, which was met with high praise and a whole banana in his face as a prize.
He isn't much better with the signs. He does the milk sign every once in a blue moon, but hasn't figured out any of the other daily signs we use (eat, light, diaper change), nor has he worked out how to wave or point. What he will do is raise his arm in the air, hand outstretched with open fingers and touch his shoulder to his ear. The first time he did it, we were puzzled by the gesture and didn't know how to properly respond.  It was the first day of Kwanzaa, so we responded with a boisterous "Harambe!" This has been a bit confusing, because now sometimes he raises his hand because he wants you to shout Harambe and other times I think he does it because that's his way of pointing at an object. We're still working this one out.
As far as mobility goes, he is very stable on his own two feet and can walk quite quickly, but still lacks the confidence to try it on his own and needs two grownup fingers for balance. He wants to walk everywhere and see everything however, and then he wants to do it again. And again. Our backs are killing us. Like his friend Ronin, he will stand on his own for a few shaky seconds if you let go of his hands, and then sink to his butt rather than trying to set forth on his own two feet. His solo mode of transportation is still the one-armed boot scoot, although it's rapidly becoming less interesting than the walk with mom or dad.

February 7, 2009

Marble Game

I built this contraption I call a "Marble Game" for Alden and a few other babies I know. It's based on the design of a toy I had when I was young. My grandpa Fritz made it for me and it was a similar construction, only it used marbles. This one has difficult-to-swallow 1.5" wooden balls so it is safer for people who like putting things in their mouths. It has a detachable foot that was not up to the task of keeping Alden from pulling it over on himself, so I ended up screwing the game to the wall, which was an excellent solution. He likes pulling himself up on on it more than making the balls roll down, but I figure he will grow into it.  
There are a few design flaws to this model and I hope to make a version 2.0 before Alden has his second birthday.

February 3, 2009

After birthday

It seems like just after Alden's birthday a bunch of milestones manifested themselves. He is feeding himself like a champ (with his hands, spoons are still a little beyond him) and we finally got serious with our sleeping through the night policy. It took about three days for Alden to get with the program, but by January 25 he was sleeping for 10 hour blocks and seems to feel better during the days because of it.
We bought a cake to celebrate the sleeping through the night accomplishment. It was a lemon blueberry ginger chiffon cake. Judging by his reaction, it was the tastiest freaking thing Alden had ever put in his mouth in his entire life. I understand now why there are so many pictures of babies with cake smeared on their faces. It is such a great moment when they discover sweets.

Alden is back to his own room as well. Ben had been using the room, which meant Alden had to stay in our room. Now Ben is housesitting for the month of January in Waterville and decided to rent a room in Waterville for February as well. I am not sure if the loss of his room to Alden factored into his decision, but now that Alden has his room back, winter guests will have to sleep on the fold-out sofa.
Hopefully in the spring I will finish the rest of the major interior renovations to the house, which will give us another guest room and a downstairs bathroom... we will see.