Christopher Updates
Archive of October 2002-April 2003

13 October 2002
Forgive me readers for I have sinned. It has been two weeks since my last update. My son is now thirteen months old.

The snot is subsiding, everyone is feeling better. Even the baby drool is less.

We went to Costco one day, which is a pretty long car trip from here. He wanted to touch everything, but was quite well-behaved, only getting cranky at the end when the payment card machine had a hissy fit and refused to talk to anyone but a supervisor.

Swimming two weeks ago was good, as usual. I just love that smile when he first hits the water. Pure baby ecstacy. We did a lot of the same things we do every week, but this time he was really into the falling in part. We're doing the session with fewer people in it these days because if Dave can make it to either one, it's going to be the later one (although he didn't happen to make it to this particular one). The other mothers were deeply impressed with Christopher though, and each one took a moment to tell me. He repeatedly went under the water on his own, and was perfectly fine when I pulled him out again. He was the youngest baby there, so it was more remarkable. He's starting to venture out further from me, which is slightly worrying. He does trust that I'll be there to save him, and I am. And I will be every time he's in water until he's old enough to understand safety for himself. I'm just not sure how to raise my vigilence to over 100 percent. That's my problem, though. Christopher is having a great time in an ever-larger world. He will hold onto the side rail, and turn and lunge at me if I'm a step away. He learned that he can sometimes find my leg under the water with his feet, and he uses it for his maneuvers. He'll be swishing off to the left, come back to center, find my leg, pivot, and swish off to the right again. When he was tiny I swished him around, but now he does it with me just as safety.

We stayed close to home for most of the last week, but had lots of good play time with just us. He does like to get out to meet and greet his public, so he was thrilled to go to his baby group on Thursday. There were only two other babies there, but he got into a rumble with the other little boy over some cake, and later over some cheese baps. Just like little dogs! They didn't hurt each other, but the other little boy kept trying to get Christopher's food, and Christopher was not shy about shoving him away. Mostly they just had fun playing. That house happens to have a nice long staircase, conveniently carpeted. At one point we all got to go up, and the other little boy (who lived there) crawled straight up. Christopher lives in a bungalow, and has never had access to stairs before. He watched, then followed. His style is a little different. He was trying to do hands and feet more than hands and knees, although there were several knees thrown in. He was fascinated. And yes, I was right behind him, ready to catch him if need be.

After that we did a few errands in town, then went to see Dave at work. Christopher has a small fan club at Dave's current workplace, and since they plan to close the doors and give everyone a big goodbye kiss next week, we decided that Kit should make what might be his final appearance there. He toddled all around the lobby, inspected all the rocks in the plant pots (rearranging many of them), and generally gave everyone a big eyefull of cuteness.

Thursday night was a bit rough because it was getting cold, and he couldn't manage to sleep in it. He'd needed warm body visits in the few nights before, but that night was way past what he could handle. Because the heating controls are all outside, we let him sleep in the big bed with two big people. He was reasonably well behaved, but did toss and turn a bit. This kept me up most of the night, but at least I had a very cute boy to gaze at.

Friday we swam again. Quite a few more people turned up for class, including some we'd never seen before. He was his usual bold self, jumping in off the side, tumbling deliberately off the floaty things, chasing toys around the pool, and babbling at the other babies and children happily. I was impressed with his toy chasing this week because as I propel him through the water, he's very good at turning with his arms and legs so that all the forward motion has no choice but to be sideways motion.

Saturday we went out to a local village event, where he showed off his master toddling and padlock chewing skills. Dave had a great time doing thr proud father thing while I supported the local economy.

Saturday night he was getting crabby, so I ran him a nice warm bath. Big grin. Instant grin. He played extensively with one of the wind up fishies we have, and with several other of the toys. He spent about five minutes studying buoyancy and currents by repeatedly swishing his plastic shovel around in the water and letting it go on the surface, then a little under water, then further under the water, each time stopping to observe the speed and path of its ascent to the surface. When he'd learned all he could from that, he conducted wave expeiments. He splashed wildly, but this time not just for the job of splashing. He was very deliberately observing the effect of his splashes on the toys at the far end of the tub. He tried a few different things, then moved on to learn a skill that had previously eluded him. He has a set of bath toys in animal shapes. These toys can be filled with water by squeezing the air out then letting them ever so slowly reinflate under water. Recently he has been enjoying having these filled for him, then he squirts himself by squeezing them, or sometimes squirts other people or just the room in general. At the very end of his bath tonight, I caught him squeezing one under water and holding it there until some water had found its way in.

He's spending more time with his shape sorting toys, and ever more frequently getting the shape in the appropriate opening. He can get the triangles into the triangle hole, but seems to prefer to put them in the round and square holes, where they stay on top. I have to admit, it does look very pleasing that way. When all the toys are in, he is able to get them out by himself and do it all again.

His top tooth is coming in quickly, and he knows just what to do with it. He bites down hard and leaves upper and lower tooth marks in his food. Nursing is a bit of a challenge, but he no longer needs to be removed if he gets a little toothy. I can just tell him to be careful and not use his teeth, and he tries to adjust.

He doesn't really say words yet, but he talks a lot. The last week or two he has been channelling German and French babies. Close your mouth tight and say "cracking corn" and you'll have an idea of what he sounds like. He's also been experimenting with the spitty "hxxxxwa" sound in French, and has mastered his close-mouthed G sounds. Close your lips and say "gaggy gum." Welcome to my world.

He had his first cup of cow milk this week and wonders where I've been hiding it all this time. He's only had the one so far, most of it still remaining hidden. I'm very conflicted about letting a cow do my job. Food is one thing, but milk is clearly MY domain. I'm trying to work through it.

Another food achievement is that he learned to use a straw. I'd been trying to get him to learn it a few days ago and it was just too frustrating for him. Saturday night he was very very thirsty, and I happened to have a juice box handy, so I popped the straw in and let him have a try. He drank almost the whole thing in one sitting.

The heat is now on, and nights are once again time for sleep. Dave not only turned on the burner Friday night, but installed an indoor controller for it Saturday afternoon. Such a handy daddy!

Desipite the warm house to sleep in, Christopher had a very fretful night on Saturday. It was probably Sunday morning by then. He cried, and Dave went in to snuggle him. Christopher liked that a lot, and insisted that Dave stay. He cried and screamed every time Dave tried to put him back in his own bed. It's not the cold this time. Maybe another tooth?

29 October 2002
Christopher had a good time going to his girlfriend Alice's house for baby group a few weeks back. She met him at a baby picnic and gave him a big snog. She was about 8 or 9 months old at the time, Christopher just a few weeks older. They sort of ignored each other this time, but he and Zachary (Vincent) went exploring in their hallway, and Christopher made time to thoroughly inspect the handles on their cabinet doors and drawers.

The next day we went swimming, but the usual instructor for the new group we go to wasn't there. There was a man who said he'd had to give her a warning and some time off to consider her transgressions, but he hoped to get her back. Seems she'd called in sick or unavailable 13 times in three months. He said it didn't matter if she was good if she wasn't there. I actually thought he was better than she was, and hope we get to keep him. He included more mummy swimming and gave us more challenges.

The next Monday he saw his old pals Maya and Mary. They were fetuses together, along with Austin who couldn't make it to that particular meeting. Jacqui gave the adults all biscuits and beverages, then gave the babies breadsticks. One for Mary... and Christopher took it from her. And one for Mary... and Christopher took it from her. Once both hands were full, Mary finally got hers, but she only ate half of hers while Christopher ate one and a half of his. I guess he knew the score. He opened and closed all the doors he could get access to at their house.

The baby had his first excursion into the land of meat-eaters this week. He has always been a big fan of playing in the dog's water dish, but has left the food alone... until now. He got a handful, put one in his mouth, spat it out, put the next one in, spat it out... I think he's convinced now that dog food isn't as good for eating as it might seem to be. The dog has a million allergies, and has to eat a very expensive food made of fish and potatoes, so it's just as well he doesn't like it.

We had a load of babies over here Thursday for a play date. Christopher seems to enjoy being the host. They all ate baby muffins and got doggy kisses, and had a good time playing with the drum and tambourines.

Friday we failed to swim because it was half-term and the school where it's held was closed.

On Saturday I decided we were going to a Halloween party we'd been invited to so we could leave Dave to get over his tummy bug in peace. The party was being thrown by a Yank who wanted to show off what Halloween ought to be like because Brits don't have much to do with it. It turned out to be attended mostly by other Yanks and some Aussies, but never mind that. It was all put together quite well.

So the first thing I had to do was get dressed for it, and get the baby dressed for it. This took 35 minutes. That's 31 minutes longer than we usually need. Those 31 minutes were used up by the baby who became a screaming, shrieking, snot blowing lump of kicking toddler. I finally got him in the car and he instantly fell asleep.

I wore all black, and topped it off with a grim reaper hood with black material over the face so I could see out but no one could see in. The baby wore black jammies with a glow in the dark skeleton printed on them.

Anyway, my little bag of bones refused to be set down for a full hour. He's over 25 pounds now, so this can be a bit wearing. He cried a lot when I tried to expand his world by introducing pumpkin muffins into it, or other such heinous violations. There was another baby there in the same costume, and someone took a picture, one smiling, one crying. Guess which was mine. Then suddenly he was fine, went tromping all over their house, turned off their TV, opened and closed every cabinet door no fewer than 50 times (but probably way more).

Christopher has been enjoying roaming our house more. Cabinet locks installed in the kitchen now, so he gets a little more freedom. For some reason whenever I tell him to go find Daddy, he goes into the bathroom and plays with the toilet seat. Eventually the reasons for this will become clear.

Tonight he got hold of a single serving box of strawberry soy milk, and spent ages placing it inside the cabinet with the pots and pans. He'd carry it over, open the door, wedge the box in between two stacks of pans, close the door, wander away, come back a few minutes later, take it out, inspect it, walk around, return it to the cabinet between the pots and pans, close the door, walk around... you get the idea. He must have spent 30-45 minutes doing that along with the activities he found to do on the walks.

He's learning what things not to do. After several stern comments about not touching a stack of pots on a stand in the dining room, he's stayed mostly away from them. He has always had wanted to play in the dog's water dish, but after being directed away from it several times with comments about not playing in them, now it just takes a little gasp sound to make him turn away from it, if he even bothers to approach it.

He's getting to be quite clingy, wanting to be held and rocked more than he has in recent months. I think the world must be getting so big so fast that he wants a bit more reassurance that his people are there.

His opening and shutting, and his putting things into other things dominates every activity. You're just been provided with several examples, but it goes deeper. When he has his fromage frais at the end of his evening meal, he likes it when Dave leaves the paper lids not entirely torn off. Christopher then pushed the covers closed again between bites, and expects Dave to open it again for each spoonful. He does it with me too, but the guys seem to have more of a ritual with it.

He's making more of an effort to feed himself in general. I feed him until I think there is probably enough in him to keep him growing and healthy, then he takes over. The carpet gets most of it, but he's making real progress in the study of spoons and forks and their use for food reorganisation. The dog appreciates his learning curve, and does any cleaning up he can.

He enjoys peekaboo, and knows just what to do. If he has access to a towel or bit of cloth, he'll pull it over his face and drop it down when asked "Where's Christopher?" He laughs and laughs.

He's had a bit more cow milk and thinks of it as the good stuff. He drinks as much as he can before stopping to catch his breath, panting, then again drinking as much as that breath will allow him.

Kit is tremendously skilled at sliding off of laps and chairs and landing on his feet. He never seems to get it wrong.

We are once again battling the dreaded nappy thrush. It hurts so much that he cries until he shakes when I change his nappy. We got the medication for it much earlier this time, so I'm hoping he's out of pain soon.

After a nice long nap, he was in a pretty good mood this afternoon. We were rolling around, and I put my finger in his mouth. He said AAAAAAAH as I bounced it up and down between his lips, making it a ba-buh-ba-buh sort of sound. He sometimes gets frustrated with that, but today he kept opening his mouth over and over and starting it off with an AAAAAAAH. At the end of that I noticed that tooth number FOUR has finally broken through the gum. That's two up and two down. Just call him Christopher Four Teeth!

Today, Tuesday 29 October 2002 is a red letter day. Today my son became a toddler. He has been walking well for weeks, but today he threw his very first (and second) temper tantrum. He was frustrated with breakfast so he took a few steps away from me, found a nice open bit of floor, threw himself down on it and started screaming and kicking his feet. I very deliberately looked at something else. Somewhere between 10-15 seconds of that and he was back with me negotiating for food again, calm and reasonable. Tonight he tried the same deal on Dave, who did the same thing. Also an abruptly ended scene as he realised he'd rather have the fromage frais than the victory.

10 December 2002
Christopher went to a birthday party on Halloween. His buddy Geoffrey turned one that day. Christopher decided that it would be a good time to investigate the contents of their cupboards. I went to stop him, but the hosts were insistent that he be allowed to do it, and that there were no baby-unfriendly things in them. I don't think they'll be insisting anything of the kind again soon. Ringleader Kit taught all the other babies how to do it. Mummy did help with the cleanup, but I think it was a bit more than they were expecting. Next time I'll keep him from doing it even if they do say it's okay. He's getting a lot more logical now than he was then, and would understand instructions better.

We continue with our swimming. We started going to the later class because it was the one Dave had a chance of getting to. He only made it to one before his work demands changed and made it impossible. We stuck with the later class anyway. It has a lot fewer people in it. One week we were even the only ones, but there are usually a few others. Christopher continues to love the water, and I plan to keep him in swimming for as long as he enjoys it. He impressed the swimming instructor recently by traveling along the rail from the middle of the long side of the pool all the way to the ladder by sliding one hand then the other. She said she'd never seen a baby so young do that before. She thinks it's something she would expect from a two year old.

After swimming one day I decided to push my luck and take him to get some bigger shoes. They quizzed me about his walking, since different stages have different shoe needs. I let him run around in his stocking feet to show them what he could do. Of course he stopped in front of the little shoe mirror and admired himself. He's still little enough that he could see most of himself in it. He knows he's a pretty boy and likes to have a look. They measured his feet, which are 4H -- the widest shoe they carry. The saleswomen went in back to see what they had in his size and left the door open. The door happened to be a full door size mirror. Christopher decided to see where they had gone and what they were doing, and RAN to find them. BAM! He brained himself by running full force into the mirror. He only cried for 5 seconds or so, most of which was in my arms, me commenting that he probably hadn't been expecting that. The noteable part of this to me is that he then approached every other full length mirror door and patted it with both hands. He completely understood what had happened, why it happened, and how to not have it happen again. He tried on a few pairs of shoes, which turned out to be very expensive, and I decided to restrict him to the softer, more affordable shoes. With new shoes every six weeks, I'm not interested in blowing my inheritance on them.

Dave had a taste of my life as he did the solo parent with baby thing in town one Saturday. There are a lot more stairs around than you realize when you don't have a pushchair, and the aisles are a lot narrower than they otherwise seem. Everyone seems to have survived the ordeal, but I thought it was very brave of Dave to attempt it when he hates going into town at the best of times, avoids Saturdays, and rarely takes the baby out on his own.

We had a few days in Bristol in early November. Dave's work had a client there that they wanted him to go see, and as it happens, Dave's family lives there. We all went along. Grandad took the Friday off and spent it with Christopher, who demonstrated all his favorite games and interests for him. Kit opened and closed the washer and tumble dryer doors many hundreds of times. When he was done, closer inspection revealed that several of Grandad's shoes had mysteriously migrated into the tumble dryer. He also spent a lot of time on "open/shut." This involves Christopher going up to a person who is sitting in a chair or on a couch, grabbing one of their knees in each of his hands, pulling them apart and waiting for the person to say "OPEN!" He then dives between the legs, buries his face on a thigh, then backs out and closes the knees again. The knee owner is then to say "CLOSED!" Then he opens them again... I think you can see where this is going. Grandad's knees has a good workout that weekend, as did his cousin's. He got quite a bit of nice attention from Dave's sister and her kids. He loves going to Grandad's house.

We all had a very bad cold in November which none of us is quite over yet. He loves his medicine, and spits his pacifier out to have it, then sucks it out of the syringe.

We tried swimming at a larger public pool once in November. It was a little colder than the pool he's used to, and the locker rooms are smellier, but it's still something we might do again someday. He was very clingy at first, not wanting to do any of his usual swimming games, but he eventually warmed up to the new venue. The pool also has an attached "soft play" room he's been to a few times. It has a ball pit and all soft equipment to climb on, around, and under. He's starting to like that more and more, but his main interest is trying to chew or rearrange the ball pit balls. Not in the pit though.

Christopher now has five teeth. He has the bottom middle two, the top middle two, and the top one just to the right. Considering his power-drooling the last few days, the return of nappy rash, and the weay teething gel makes him stop crying (although he hates the stuff), I think toothie number six might make an appearance soon.

Speaking of teeth, I have so far failed to report that he LOVES brushing his teeth. In the early days we'd get the brush ready with a little paste, and he'd open his mouth for cleaning. He never objected to this in any way. More recently, he makes a grab for the brush in the moments after it enters his mouth, and brushes his own teeth. He does a good job of it too. He does the fronts and the backs and rubs them up and down and back and forth, and in and out over the tops.

In the old days, he could only cry if he wanted things. Now he's developing a whole new range of ways to ask for things. One day he reached into the trash bin and pulled out an empty fruit bar wrapper and handed it to me. I asked if he wanted a fruit bar, and he made his yes sound. He was very happy when I got a full packet and opened it for him. He'll also grab bananas and bring them to us for opening. His milk sippy cup has a top that closes. Sometimes he can open it, but sometimes it's too hard, so he brings it over for me to open for him. Just recently he's started asking for more of something by holding his open hand out. He had an unsalted chip, and when done reached toward the plate until I handed him another, over and over again until he was full.

Doorstops are not safe in this house. Christopher has collected them all up and put them somewhere. We're looking for the ones that go over the tops of the doors, but no luck so far.

He's learning to climb up things. He's always been good with his feet, and from the first attempts at walking he's understood what to do about steppping around toys on the floor, and even how to recover if he steps on a toy he wasn't expecting. Now his feet are taking him up. Up the bodies of his parents, up onto low chairs, up onto toys pushed near tables so he can reach things formerly safe there, etc.

I've started taking him to Gymboree to channel some of the climbing energy, but so far what he likes there is the balls. He was a little freaked out the first time we went, but the second time he remembered the balls and went over to their bin as soon as I set him down. He likes them in all sizes. He kicks them around the room with his feet, showing some pretty impressive football skills, like standing one foot, putting his free toes on the ball and bending his knee back to make it spin backward, then going to get it in its new direction. He also picks up balls and spikes them with two hands down to the ground. He thinks that's a wonderful thing to do. He can't catch them yet, but there is plenty of time for that. He loves the ball game where you put him sitting in a big comfy chair, then throw the ball into his lap. You've never heard such laughing! He pushes it back to you, then you throw it back and he tries to grab it with his hands. Usually it gets corraled in a basket of arms and legs.

He's had Megabloks for a while now. They're sort of like Duplo blocks, but another brand. The game used to be that mummy or daddy would build something, and he would come along and take it apart. Now he's gotten to the point of putting them together himself. The other day, presented with three blocks, he had one in each hand and had to figure out what to do about the third. He thought for a moment then attached the one in his right hand to the one in his left hand, then grabbed the third one with his right hand. Pretty good for 15 months, I think!

We were grocery shopping recently. He's usually very good for it, and I try to explain to him what I'm doing and why. Last week we were in the freezer section, and one of the young men working there stopped to say hello to him and ask him about his shopping and all. You don't usually get that from guys so close to 20 (probably younger), so it impressed me. As he left to go back to work, the guy waved and called "Bye!" to Christopher. Christopher waved and called back "BYE!" I was very impressed because he hasn't shown much interest in speaking English yet. I called the guy back and told him he just got the baby's first bye, which sent them into another conversation, and another bye at the end of that. Not seen it since, though.

I usually give him something to play with in the store if he's getting upset. Sometimes it's a packet of mushrooms, or a tin of beans, or anything crinkley. The other day it was a tube of apple-cinnamon rice cakes. He loved it, and was not letting go for anything. I didn't notice right away, but he actually chewed through the wrapping and was trying to eat them right there in the store. I don't let him eat in the store, at least not until things are paid for, but there was no stopping him that time. It remains one of his current favorite snacks.

He's gotten very fussy about meal times. We've been feeding him out of blue plastic bowls so that he can try feeding himself and not break our regular dishes. Over the past few weeks, he cries at the very sight of food dishes, throwing tantrums before even knowing what's inside. I think milk and bread would be a perfect diet in his mind. Noting that he likes fingerfood, we've been trying to come up with things he can feed himself until his spoon and fork skills are fully online. I'm pleased that we've eased him back in the direction of a varied and balanced diet, and he no longer panics at the blue dish. He'll even accept sweet potatoes and corn from it now.

Christopher was playing nicely in the living room one day. I stepped out for a minute, and came back to see that the glass lid to a cooking pot had been smashed. I asked him if he was okay, and he just walked away and started playing with something else, so I assumed all was well. Cleaned up the glass, then sat down to give him him a snack, and noticed his shirt and trousers and legs and arms and face all covered in little dabs of blood. Ooops. He was just fine with it, but started screaming bloody murder (instead of just looking like it) when I went to clean him up. He got the first bandage of his life, which he HATED. Hated. Loathed. It was on his right pinkie, which had the tiniest of cuts on the tip. He spent the next several hours crying and poking at the bandage, calming down, seeing his finger and crying again. Blood, snot, and tears. I tried the old trick of handing him two biscuits, but he refused to take one with the offended hand. He meant business. So did I, and the bandage stayed on for 3 hours. I'm a bad, bad mother.

He's got a bad habit with his milk cup. He'll drink as much as he wants, then shake the mug until there are little drops of milk all over the carpet. Not wanting to live in a sour milk house, I yelp, grab the cup from him, and get a towel to clean up the floor before it can really soak in. Just in the past few days, when I do the little yelp, he looks at me, leans over, and wipes the floor with his hand. Too cute!

He's been very much into removing his shoes over the past month or so, but this week he changed his mind. It probably helps that it's getting colder. Just in the past few days, he's begun to pick up his shoe from the floor, stand on one foot, and hold the shoe up to the elevated foot. He also understands a lot more about getting dressed and undressed, and finds the whole concept a whole lot less offensive. He'll hold his arm up to be put at the inside opening of the sleeve, then will push his arm down when it's in position. He's done that on request for a few months, but now he initiates the steps of getting dressed. Even socks, which used to be torture for him, go on easily. "Christopher, I can't reach your foot to put your sock on." And he moves it closer. What a boy!

He's getting a lot more hair. I don't know if you can see it on the recent photos (are there any recent photos?), but he has a load of yellow ducky fuzz on the back of his head. Less on top, but he has a definite hairline with definite hair. It's almost long enough to brush. I wonder what he'll think of that.

Christopher had his first baby sitter experience on the 4th. Actually he had a sitter back in January, but that wasn't at his own home, and it was most of his life ago. Kate came over and we all spent about an hour showing her around and telling her his routines, then the parents disappeared. By all accounts he was good for her, but he would not go to sleep until we got home. He was just lying in his cot waiting. Once we got home, he was out like a light.

The next night I was out on my own, and Dave had a meeting to go to in the village. He ended up taking Christopher along with him. I hear he was good for it, wanting to be picked up near the end, but remaining quiet and letting them get on with their business.

Friday night Dave's father came to visit. He arrived just as I was heading out to take the cat to the vet for a test, which saved me from having to wake Christopher from his nap to take him along. When I got back, my little boy was snuggled happily in his grandfather's arms. He didn't fret at all when he woke up and found a different adult in charge. He's always remembered Grandad between trips, and takes right up where they left off whenever they meet up again.

He got to spend most of Saturday with Grandad, including another bit of time with no parents as we took our cat Lacey to the vet for her last visit. She was in kidney failure and let us know Saturday morning that it was time for her to go. After that I caught them engaging in one of Christopher's new favorite games, being chased. He loves to run away, giggle and look back, then squeal with delight if he sees someone is coming after him.

Chrono and Christopher have a solid relationship. It involves Chrono pushing past the boy to get where he wants to go, often knocking him over, and Christopher shoving the dog out of his way to get where he wants to go. Neither one seems to see anything wrong with this system.

Putting things in other things continues. I discovered a shape-sorter toy of his had indeed had shapes sorted into it -- including the shapes of a water bottle, a biscuit, and half a dozen MegaBloks. There were probably a few of the circles and triangles that came with the container in there as well.

18 December 2002
The toddler boy is emerging from the baby package a little more every day. He looks older and is getting more complex skills and emotions.

We had a little time to kill before turning up to a playgroup meeting when the grocery shopping went faster than anticipated last week. Christopher was getting a little edgy sitting in the trolley, so we went to the toy aisle to try a few things out. He had a good time pushing the buttons on the big expensive learning to spell toys before we moved on to the little inexpensive toys. I found a Bob the Builder toy that was interesting. A hard plastic Bob has a magnetic writing screen over his stomach, and a small hammer shaped stylus allows drawing or writing to happen, but only if held the correct way. It was marked half price to clear, and after a quick demonstration he was very anxious to try it himself. Amazingly (to me) he managed to work out very quickly that the stylus only works one way, which way that is, and how to fix it if he picks it up the wrong way. He can manipulate it with the fingers of the hand its in with no help from the other hand, which is busy holding the Bob portion of the toy. He scribbles and scribbles, and won't let anyone take the toy to erase the screen. The toy is marked for over 3 kids, but if he only gets it under supervision it should be fine. The first day he had it, he refused to let go during nappy change and bedtime rituals, and was distinctly unhappy when Dave pried it from his fingers. Quite a strong grip for a 15 month old.

He is getting very good at anticipating things. When it's time to get out of the car seat, he tries to push the release button (but can't make it pop, thank Dog), then threads his arms out of the restraints before holding his arms up to be picked up.

We went to a toddler Christmas party today. Christopher demonstrated some new and unsavory skills. Geoff was there, and I was asking his mother about his tickle spots. I asked about one of Kit's best tickle spots, and she had never tried it, so I did. Geoff laughed himself silly and wanted more. Christopher walked up to Geoff, face to face, and gave him a hard and deliberate shove. Baby jealousy! Later Rebecca wanted one of his blocks, so he beaned her with it. She cried, so I told him he had to be gentle with other people and went to fuss her instead. Not sure how many times he'll have to try it to learn it's not the kind of attention he wants.

He can now reliably be counted on to eat chips (fries). Not the most nutritious thing in the world, but it can take the edge off when we're out. Other foods are subject to daily negotiation. He likes flapjacks (oats and sugar) and mince pies (raisins are good for him, right?), along with his beloved fromage frais. He mostly wants whatever the big people are eating, which is unfortunate because his kidneys are not ready for most of it. The most irresistable food is that which is not offered to him.

His other new interests are a challenge for me. He desperately wants to pull all the books off the bookshelves. He can't get to most of them at the moment, but we can't live like that forever. Trying to think of a good solution for that. The other new thing he loves to do is a variation on a theme. He has always adored playing in the dog's water dish, but now it's not just his hands. He's good enough on his feet to be able to stand on one foot and put the other into the water bowl. We whip him into his playpen, where he cries for a minute before being ready to come out again, but his love of this pastime is stronger than the fear of any possible consequences. Looking for solutions for that one too.

Still no progress on the speaking English thing, but he generally is able to get his point across. He also talks a lot, but in BabyLanguage. He seems to be using complete sentences, and even paragraphs, but so far the deeper meanings elude me. All in good time, all in good time. He understands what people say to him, so there is a pretty good system in place for most things.

20 December 2002
Christopher's milk sippy cup shaking days were put to an end when I got him a new cup which doesn't let any milk out when shaken. Mildly frustrating for him, but he seemed to have gotten on with his life. Tonight he introduced the next level of the game. He extracted a mouthful of milk in the approved manner then spat it out on the floor. Dave told him to clean it up and gave him a tissue. Much to our delight and amusement, he DID clean it up. He spent many minutes wiping at the floor, mostly missing the milky bits, but eventually getting a lot of it up.

He discovered the power of surnames today as he approached the dog's water bowl for illicit purposes. I saw him and said in a stern voice "CHRISTOPHER HOUGH!" He stopped what he was doing and tried to look innocent.

We went to the village hall for open chat yesterday, and they turned out to be having a christmas play made up of the people who turned up. I got out of singing because the songs here are all different from the ones I know. Christopher ran around screaming and having a great time with the other kids. It's nice that the other villagers are getting to know who he is.

21 December 2002
I don't like mince pies, but both Kit and Dave do. I bought some little ones for them, and just made Dave aware of them. Christopher was on my lap and had one, but then wanted MORE. I told him that Daddy has them and he should go ask Daddy if he wanted another one (I didn't feel like being further covered with the crumbs of food I don't like). He immediately slid off my lap, walked over to Dave, and started his "heh heh heh" of yearning, his hands outstretched. It always amazes me how much he understands. And yes, he got a second mince pie.

Christopher has a new passion. He loves to draw. Granted, at 15 months all he can do is scribble back and forth, but he loves to do it. Inspired by the previously mentioned Bob the Builder drawing toy, Dave gave him a pencil and some sheets of paper. He sat and drew for at least 30 minutes. That's a pretty good attention span for someone his age. He cried bitterly when I took the pencil away, but he had started to wander around the room a little, and I didn't want anyone getting an eye put out. I think that's in the mother instruction manual. We'll have to look into getting him some big crayons or something less dangerous. He does appear to be right handed, in case anyone was wondering. I'm not sure if that's fixed or something that could still change.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention that he is making more effort to sing along when singing is going on. He also dances when it is clear that dancing is appropriate.

The last few nights at bedtime, we've been having him stand on a stool in front of the sink for his tooth brushing and face wash. Tonight I called him into the bathroom and he grabbed on to the edge of the sink with his finger tips and got himself up on that step. He's very excited at the prospect of being able to splash in the water and brush his teeth.

Christopher sometimes watches me tidy up the toys, so now that seems to be one of his games. Periodically he'll stop and put several of the toys away. He usually takes them right back out again. We can work on that as he gets older.

The shoes were coming off just a little too often for my taste. It's not just the thrill of ripping velcro and kicking his shoes off in stores (although I somehow always noticed and retrieved them), but his most recent pair was starting to open themselves. Those baby hoofies are just too big for size 4 velcro closing shoes now. He's now made the move into size 5 lace-up ankle boots. He wore them with his jeans and a T-shirt and looked just like a construction worker. He's also wearing new cloth nappies which are just a little too big for him. As a result, we got treated to a rare and amusing sight -- Baby Butt Cleavage. It's so tempting to get him a little tool belt and hard hat.

25 December 2002
We slept a bit late, knowing that this might be the last Christmas we can do that for 16 years or so. We let Christopher stay in his purple footie sleeper for presents. He got a corn cob shaped harmonica, a ride-on tractor with a pull along roller behind it, an inflatable ball pit, Do-re-mi Dolphins, two videos, two "My first Thomas" engines and some track, a really nice outfit, a learn-to-play Megabloks piano, a video, a Blue cuddly toy (from Blue's Clues), and some Baby Einstein books. Did I leave anything out? So many fun presents! He played and played and played, then got all tired out and had a short nap.

When Christopher woke up, he discovered that I was having some chocolate orange, and he wanted to be having some too. He used his piano as a step to get up to where I was reading on the couch, and curled up right in the line of chocolate. It might have been a mistake, but I gave him a segment. We got a big chocolatey grin as it disappeared bit by bit into his mouth, along with copious amounts of brown drool coming out. He had climbed up on me to use me for his chocolate station, but when things got too wet and sticky for my liking, I rolled him off. He landed on his feet, and we noticed he had two more pieces of chocolate orange in his non-feeding hand. We didn't see him take it, and based on where it had been, it took him a fraction of a second to see it and grab it on his way down. Dave had a hard time getting it away from him again. Later he got another piece, and we saw those lovely chocolate smiles again.

We went for a walk to the local playground. It's fairly limited in what it offers, but Christopher is a pretty little guy, and doesn't need much more than it has at the moment. He explored the merry-go-round/roundabout, getting slightly more confident with every try. He's not entirely comfortable with how it moves, but is willing to learn. He really enjoyed riding it with Dave near the end of our time there.

26 December 2002
Christopher loves mince pies. Loves. We decided he could have some today, which pleased him to no end. When he'd finished his first one, he took the empty foil container to Dave for another. Then again for a third. He did very well, providing minimal floor-findings for the dog.

Many hours later, I turned up with dinner. He's got real anxiety around evening meals these days, so we mainly try to be sure that he gets lots of nutrition early in the day, then make food available at dinner time, but not force the issue. Sometimes we do make him take one bite, and three times out of four he'll want more once he's had a taste, but starting the meal is so stressful for him that sometimes we just let him play with the food rather than eat it. Tonight he was very interested in playing with the food, but was crystal clear about his intention to have none of it in him. I opened my mouth, and he got one of the most delighted expressions I've seen on him, right up there with the chocolate eating expression. He fed me about 75 bites of his dinner (no, not exaggerating. That's low if anything.) with his spoon. Most of these bites had no food on them, or maybe just a little essence of food, but a few of them had a morsel or two. He's not very skilled at getting food onto utensils yet. He was really into Mummy feeding, even opening his mouth as he guided the spoon into mine, as countless adults have done with him. Priceless.

Somewhere in there he became aware that the mince pie foils from his earlier frenzy with Dave were on the floor and under foot. He wasn't pleased with that, so I picked up the five right in his vicinity and threw them away. He got excited because he'd spotted the sixth one a few feet away. He went over and got it, and handed it to me to dispose of along with the others.

2 January 2003
On the Saturday after Christmas, we had some people over for most of the day. Christopher seemed to enjoy the attention he got, and was relaxed enough to have a nap right in the middle of the festivities when he got worn out. He got to swap trade secrets with another baby, who was five months old. We spent time trying to reenforce the elusive concept of "gentle."

The next day, we went to see Dave's Aunt Chris, who is actually just a year and 9 days older than I am. We won't be calling her "Great Aunt." Chris said he looks just like Dave did at that age, and that Dave was one of the cutest babies around. Dave took exception to the use of past tense in reference to his cuteness. Chris pointed out that there are no photos of him at that age because he was still in the hospital with the meningitis he'd contracted at 9 months of age. She used to go visit him when she was a tiny girl and tap on the glass.

Christopher got to meet her kids, and seemed to be quite impressed with her holiday decorations and food. He went around mooching bread off various people and eating it messily on the floor. Chris was very gracious about the consequences to her carpet. At one point he went over to Dave and took the end of his bread, which happened to contain some sliced ham. Other than dog food, Christopher has never had meat before. He actually ate most of the bread before realizing there was something else inside. He sat on my lap very thoughtfully chewing and considering before spitting out the parts that required molars. He later tasted and rejected a small sausage.

A while back I bought a rocking chair which has quite a low seat and a high, wide back. Christopher is spending some time every day mastering this chair. He has experimented with many of getting himself onto it, and is refining a short list of them. Sometimes he tries standing on it and rocking, which has worked out fine so far. It's not much of a drop, so I am not terribly worried about his falling because he seems to understand the consequences and holds onto the arms. He has a strong interest in avoiding it.

One of the presents his grandfather got him for Christmas was a small inflatable ball pit. We haven't set up the pit yet, but he hasn't missed it. He cannot get enough of those balls. With 100 of them, he hardly has a chance to be without them. He delights in removing them from the box, having them thrown at him, kicking them around the room, putting them into any handy container, handing them one by one to a parent, then taking them back one by one and spiking them into the floor. No end of fun! When his excitement over the loose balls wanes, we can set up the pit for new levels of joy.

There was a time when we ate dinner at the table every night with the baby in his high chair. He got to a point where being put in the chair was good for an instant tantrum, so we started eating in other places around the house. He got fed on laps a lot, or even standing up in front of the person with the food. He didn't mind occasional visits to the little seat that hooks onto the kitchen counter. We decided to try the dining room table for meals again, so he got put into the high chair once again. Instant tantrum. No idea why he hates that thing so much. We finally hit on the idea of taking the tray off and pushing him right up to the table. Bingo. He wants what the big people have and if the big people have no tray, he wants no tray. We moved his chair to the end of the table so he has a parent on either side at dinner, and he really likes that a lot. He watches Dave take bites of food. He sometimes gets bites of Dave's or my food. He's currently using the three-spoon method of self-feeding. The first spoon goes into his right hand. He digs the food, lifts the spoon to his mouth, flips the spoon over, and gets the food down the front of his shirt. Then the second spoon comes in. That goes into his left hand. He uses the spoons like tongs to get the food onto either spoon, then lifts one to his mouth. The third spoon comes in when Dave or I decide he actually needs to get some food in him. That one starts out in one of our hands and a bite of food gets popped in his mouth. Sadly, this is usually against his will, but once he's had a taste, he's good for more 9 times out of 10.

6 January 2003
The past few days have been really wonderful with Christopher. He's had a few lightbulbs go on over his head, and it makes a big difference.

On the evening of the 3rd of January, Dave and I had stuffed peppers, which are red with rice and rice-sized veggies in them. Christopher was having some pasta with red sauce and veggies in, chopped up small. It was just a coincidence, but the two food items looked quite similar. We were getting everything ready, taking it to the table, him in his chair waiting for us... but he didn't wait. He picked up his spoon and started eating his food. And he ate it all, all by himself. Then he had a mince pie all by himself. No crying or fussing about anything. He was happy.

The next three days have been similarly successful. The more his food looks like ours, the more likely he is to eat it. We've been trying to have foods he can eat, or that look like foods he can eat. He's still on a salt restriction because he has baby kidneys. That we all have similar plastic placemats (San Francisco or Gibraltar) is not lost on him. He's been feeding himself yogurt, and because he loves it so much, he's learned to take the spoon to his mouth without flipping it over. His success is giving us all a lot of joy.

He still enjoys feeding the big people. He likes to put drink bottles to our mouths, or feed us with his spoon. He loves the power!

He also knows his bedtime routine quite well. I walk to the bathroom, he walks to the bathroom. I turn the water on in the handsink and let the temperature run to warm while he climbs up on the stool. I relieve him of his pacifier if he has one. With warm water in the sink, I wash his hands and face in turn and rinse the soap off again. Then he points at his toothbrush, which I load up with paste. I give him a quick brushing to make sure everything gets a bit of a clean, then I let him do the rest. He used to really brush his teeth himself, but he's getting more into biting the brush now. When the teeth are done, he reaches for his pacifier and climbs down and goes to his room for a new nappy and a sleeper, then gets tucked into bed with his Mozart CD playing. He's good with it all.

If anyone is wondering, he is almost definitely right handed. He picks up pencils, toothbrush, and spoons with his right hand almost every time. He still uses the left for second-spooning when he needs to, or he'll try his left hand if the right isn't working for something he wants to do.

We returned to Gymboree today, which was hard for him. After being away for a few weeks, all those colors were overwhelming, and he started Mandraking out. After ten minutes or so of mummy hugs, he decided it might be fun to play with the toys there. By the end of class he owned the place, and we stayed for a bit of open gym after.

I'd arrived a few minutes late because there was ice on my car, and in my haste I had forgotten to put his stroller in the car. That meant carrying him. He's good at walking, but not at walking where I want him to. After Gymboree, we went to Mothercare and got him a harness. We then tried it out by walking around the mall a little. He is easy to steer in it, and seems to enjoy the freedom of his own feet.

A few days ago we took him outside on the gravel to get his photo in the sunlight. For the first time, he realized he could walk on that stuff. He's been on the gravel before but for some reason thought he had to stand very still when on it. It was the first sunny day (or portion of a day) we'd had in a while, and he cast a long shadow. He thought that was pretty funny and started trying to chase it. He realized the futility quickly, but it was a happy experience for him.

We've been experiencing fewer tantrums as more things suddenly make sense to him. He doesn't seem interested in speaking English, but what he understands never ceases to amaze me. Life is good.

7 January 2003
Several cuteness attacks today.

He's very fond of a cartoon dog called Kipper, who made an appearance on the television today. He climbed into the rocking chair all by himself and watched it from there, turning to smile broadly at me when he thought some part of the show was really good.

We went grocery shopping, and went through the whole store with me trying to kiss Christopher and him laughing and trying to push me away. I explained to him what I was buying and why, and he seemed most interested. At the checkout, someone recognised him and greeted him by name. He turned his head sideways, seeming to want to see if she was more familiar upside-down.

Back at home, I asked him if he wanted a new nappy. He said "a-yeah." And he did!

Wandering around the room as I sat reading in a chair, he came over and chest-butted my knees, which were together. He did it several times before I said "closed." He was SO proud of me for passing the test, his star pupil. He then pushed them apart, I said "open," and he climbed up to give me a big hug.

He spent some time playing with his Megablok piano. He took the blocks (bloks?) out, put them together, took them apart, put them back in the piano, pulled them out again, put them together, took them apart... I think you can guess the rest, and add several more cycles at the end. He really concentrates on this activity.

As is becoming quite usual, he is happy and excited when Dave gets home. He runs to the door and puts his arms up and collects a big hug. They cuddled and played and rolled around, then Christopher did something that everyone hopes will NOT become usual. He bit Dave on the chest, right through his shirt, hard enough to leave a mark. After being told what he'd done wrong, he got put in his playpen for a timeout, but the effectiveness of it seemed slim because he immediately fell asleep.

We woke him up for dinner, and learned that no matter what's on offer, he's probably not going to let anyone else have his spoon ever again. He is clearly proud of himself, as well he should be.

21 January 2003
Christopher now has two swimming sessions a week. It might be too much for him, but it should be easy to stop one of them if it's not fun enough. We started him on lessons with a particular group when he was a newborn, then stopped in August, making the move to another group. The new group costs less and has longer session, but offers little or no instruction. We have fun with the other babies there, but I thought perhaps his skills and ability to learn in the water were waning, so we went back to the teaching class. The first day back, he cried. He screamed. He wailed. He didn't like challenges. I think I was right to take him back though, because now he's getting more comfortable with the unfamiliar again. I'm not pushing him as hard as the lessons dictate yet because I want him to enjoy it as much as he can.

On Friday, after the slacker lesson, we went to buy some tofu and bum wipes at the local crunchy store. He was so exhausted from swimming that he fell asleep right in the trolley. He just put his head down on the push-bar and checked out. I ran into someone I know, so we sat to have a beverage and chat for a while. He stayed head down for almost the whole time. People kept coming up and leaning waaaay down to see his sleeping face.

He's got a new tooth coming in. Just left of the center two on the lower row. This brings his lifetime total up to seven teeth.

His current interests include walking backward or sideways. Sometimes it looks like he might break into a moonwalk, but he never quite does. He can cover quite a bit of distance in reverse. He's also developed a new interest in textiles. One day he found a basket of clean laundry and spent quite a bit of time methodicallly moving each item to his left until everything was there, then to his right, then back, repeat several dozen times. He repeated this another day when I put him in his little chair and put a blanket over his legs while he had a snack. Once the snack was eaten, the blanket went hand by hand yo his left, then right... you get the idea. He is also deeply committed to putting objects in the dog's water dish. These include but are not limited to his hands, his feet, toys, dog food, and papers. If the house is quiet and you can't see the boy, you had better go save the dog water from his efforts. Also in the kitchen, he loves to take the tea towels out of the drawer and, when caught, put them all back in again.

One night we broke from the custom of eating at the table, and had burritos in the computer room. Christopher ate a bit of his, then decided that it would be much more fun to feed it bit by bit to the dog through the baby gate bars. Dave got some cute photos of that. The dog was very gentle in accepting the hundred tiny bits of tortilla.

Doors in the house are not safe. He can now open any one of them except the doors to the outside world. He has to stand on his tippiest of toes to get some of them, but he likes to demonstrate his domination of the door by opening any door we decide to close, even if he has no interest in going through it. At certain times of day, strategic doors are blocked with chairs.

His frustration levels are high, but come in shorter bursts. He has a lot of success in the things he tries to do, but he's trying a whole lot more than he used to be able to, so while the number of frustrating events is going up, the percentage of efforts ending in frustration is falling. He sometimes responds well to suggestions like "take your time" or "slow down" or even more specific suggestions as to where to put his hands, feet, etc.

As a wee little baby, Kit always turned to watch the adverts on television which were asking for donations to end suffering. Animal welfare, starving children, foreign aid, domestic violence, he wanted to end it all. And now that he's a big boy, what kind of adverts do you think he's interested in? Debt consolidation loans for homeowners. He can't get enough of them. I have no idea what this means.

I spent one Saturday away from home, leaving the boys to look after each other. Whenever I'm away, Kit wants a good cuddle session with me before he goes to bed. If it doesn't happen, he'll wake up a few hours later and demand it. I happened to be home in plenty of time, and was still holding him when it was bedtime. Dave was getting his sleeper ready for him, and I asked him if he'd had a good time with Daddy today. He said "uh-huh."

I spoke with my friend, Kitty, on the telephone today. Christopher wandered up and started babbling at me, and Kitty really seemed to enjoy hearing him. She told me that he was saying "daddy" in Chinese. She's originally from China, so I accept her as an authority on the matter.

1 February 2003
We've missed quite a few of our regular classes in the last few weeks. Some were weather related, some were scheduling problems, and one swimming class was because of a problem with the pool.

Christopher has kept himself busy with rearranging things, as always. He likes it when we count the things aloud for him.

A few days ago he got the first black eye of his life. He stumbled and clipped his cheekbone on a round-cornered metal box. He wailed at the time, but hasn't complained about it since.

We had to break down and get a couple more baby gates. He can't resist opening closed doors. He finds them frustrating, but seems to have accepted their presence in his life. We now have eight internal doors with five installed gates and one portable gate.

He still enjoys throwing things out of the shopping trolley. This week it was crisps. Beats eggs! I managed to catch the bags, say thank you, and put them out of reach.

Oddest new behavior is head-butting the dog right over his tail. He walks up behind the dog, makes sure I'm watching, and does a crisp bow at the waist, bumping his forehead on the dog's lower back. If I tell him to be gentle with the dog, or to leave the dog alone, he instantly tries to do it again. If I praise him for being gentle (whether he was or not), he gets bored and wanders away. He does so want to be naughty. Mostly the dog doesn't even notice he's doing it, but that's not the point. We're working on establishing some limits and what words actually mean.

The biggest event of the last two weeks is probably the blizzardy type thing we had. Although it only came to about five inches of snow, it was fiercely delivered. Dave was lucky to get home to us on Thursday night. He was only two hours late. We heard the next morning that there were still some people stuck from the night before on the roads he travels.

What this meant is that Christopher got extra Daddy time on Friday since he couldn't get in to work. We took advantage of this by introducing him to snow. At first he didn't like it. At first he cried. We took turns holding his hand and leading him around in the back garden. We let go of his hand and took a few steps away. He walked over to us. He got more and more comfortable, and started walking around on his own a little. Eventually it was time to go in, but he didn't want to. He's still not convinced that holding it in his hand is a good idea, but he seems to have a guarded love of snow. At least this week.

6 February 2003
Oh yeah, he likes "Bubble and Squeak." It's a British food made of potatoes and cabbage, shaped like a hockey puck.

"Christopher Heaven" consists of two pacifiers: One in mouth, one in hand. Remove one from mouth, regard it, place other one in mouth, remove and regard that one, place other one in mouth, repeat 16,000 times.

One day Christopher learned to climb onto the dining room chairs. There were some dishes left on the table, and he was drumming on the plates with the knives and forks. Not good. He could get onto lower chairs before, but this was a big step for him. It also gave him access to the books behind the chairs, so I thought I should discourage this, and removed him. I made the chairs into a different sort of barricade after I found him behind the one I'd already constructed. I removed the plates and took them to the kitchen. Mistake. He was ON the table in the newly vacated spot, sitting on his heels and looking mighty smug. More rearranging. A few days later I found him proudly sitting on one of the armchairs, a previously unreachable height.

So the baby-proofing line is raised. He can get his hands on anything on a desk or table.

Finally made it back to a Gymboree class this week. He had no desire at the beginning to do what the rest of the class was doing, but he wasn't idle. As the other babies learned to walk up ramps and go down slides, Christopher learned to climb the rungs of a ladder and play with the rattles on the platform on top. They're little rectangular ones in bright colors. He arranged them in several different configurations, seemed fascinated when I counted them for him, and even built a tower with them. Other babies could see he had the best game in the room, and kept coming over to steal his rattle blocks, but he didn't get upset, and their mothers usually extracted and returned them. When free time came around, he did all the things they had been doing. I like to let him do things in his own time, but eventually he's going to have to learn to do group things. For now, I'd rather not have him associate the place with torture.

He's not making it easy though. Today he went to play with the locks on the stock cabinet, but the locks were off. He managed to fit his thumb through the hole the lock would have gone through, and was unable to get it out again. After I extracted it for him, we explored the therapeutic properties of Mummy kisses. Potent things indeed, it seems.

Afterwards, we went to pick up a few things, including a pair of wellies for him. I've tried to get him into wellies before, and they always make him burst right into tears. Like half a dozen times. He was pretty tired this time, so that may have been all he needed to get past the initial shock. Or so I thought. Once he had to stand up in them, he went into full Mandrake mode, right in the ear of the shop assistant who was feeling his toes. She had been warned, but didn't take notice. Anyway, he now has the royal blue wellies of eternal doom and suffering. Thomas and Friends adorn the sides as agents of darkness. He did much better with them when we got home, although he's just a little too good at getting them off. Once he learns how useful they are for jumping in puddles, I hope he can accept their evil influence in his life.

When we got home, I decided to give him a Jaffa Cake. He sat on a chair and ate it, displaying that special smile he reserves for occasions when he suddenly discovers that life is better than he thought it was. I'd avoided giving them to him before because the jelly bit is too chewy on some of them, but these were very soft.

8 March 2003
We went to Amsterdam in early February. Christopher got to get up at 4 in the morning and go to the airport in his jammies. He was very good on the trip because we walked and walked, pushing him in his stroller. He loves that, and will sit there enjoying the ride and taking in the sights all day. He only objected when we stopped moving, which we didn't actually do very often. Mainly for meals.

The main Christopher news from Amsterdam was his bedtime issues. He is very good about sleeping at home, fussing very little if any when he gets put in his bed, almost always sleeping through until 6 or 7 in the morning. The first night in Amsterdam he refused to sleep in the crib they provided. Refused. We let him snuggle up in his favorite H position between us with him as the cross-bar and an adult as each vertical of the H. The second night we decided to really try to get him to sleep in his crib, but he flat out refused. He cried. He screamed. He fussed. He nearly fell asleep standing up with his chin hooked over the top edge. We finally gave in out of consideration to the other people staying at the Botel, but it was quite instructive of just how stubborn he can be when he has strong feelings about something.

He didn't really get a cold, but there was a week of a runny nose without any indication of not feeling well. He did not want his nose cleaned, even though it was fairly crusty and gross. Being the evil mother that I am, I cleaned it many times a day anyway. One night he was on his changing table getting his bedtime nappy, and I decided to go for a nose clean one more time. He saw it coming and put his upper lip all the way up against his nose, blocking his nostrils from the tissue of doom. Of all times not to have a camera! Tissue of doom prevailed, alas, and he went to sleep with a clean nose.

Swimming continues, but with variable enthusiasm. He loves to play with the toys in the pool, and will grunt and point if he wants me to help him get one. he is tall enough to touch the bottom of the pool with his toes in the shallow end now, and will make small attempts to move himself in the water in pursuit of toys. He still jumps in from the side even though he knows he'll go under water before I catch him, but now takes the time to splash his toes for a bit first. He does some stunningly brave and daring maneuvers in the water, but also freaks out sometimes when new things are introduced. I know I ask a lot of him, and if it's causing more than a moment of distress, I'll take him out of the group and do things he likes for a bit. It's a fine line between letting him quit and pushing him too hard. We try to find a healthy balance for a 17 month old. I hope he starts enjoying it more soon. The swimming instructor says kids often go through slumps, but they always snap back to loving it. We shall see.

At Gymboree he's a happy maniac. He can climb almost anything. He climbs up things and slides down them again without any adult guidance or assistance. He loves it. He walks around fearlessly on platforms. He's receptive to new ideas. He's always doing things that make adults want to rush and catch him, but he never falls. He knows how to balance, he knows how to get down. He's going to have to move the next class up soon because he's topping out on the age range for the one he's in. The teacher thinks he'll be great at the new level. He has the physical skills, and she says none of the kids really pay attention in the group activities anyway.

Our bedtime ritual for Christopher involves a step stool and a sink with warm water in it. He has to have his hands and face washed, and his teeth brushed. He isn't all that keen on the soap part, mainly because he seems to have a reflex which makes him put his soapy hands into his eyes. He either cries that the soap is in his eyes or that we're keeping his hands away from his eyes. Lately I've been teaching him about getting soap on his hands and rubbing them together, then rinsing them. He's starting to get the hang of that now, and helps rather than hinders the process. He still complains about face washes, but I try to go fast. Tooth brushing comes next. If I'm too slow, he points at his toothbrush and makes emphatic grunts at it. He watches with a smile while I put on the paste, and works with me as I gently tip his head back and brush all around his mouth. When I'm satisfied that the teethies are all clean, I hand him the brush, and he finshes the job. That can take anywhere from 10 seconds to a minute depending on his mood. Then he hands the brush back for rinsing, and gets his face wiped clean of froth.

The stool is positioned in such a way that he can't reach the taps, nor his toothbrush. One night he really really wanted to be able to reach his toothbrush, but couldn't. The next night as he approached the step stool, he stopped, leaned over, moved it five inches to the left, then got on it. He'd figured out how to get what he wanted the night before.

Of course being a toddler is all about testing limits, and Christopher is a fully qualified toddler. We try to present him with choices and consequences, and always follow through, but he's not a very gracious loser. He gets frustrated and has tantrums, even though he knows they don't work around here. He's started actually doing some of the things we tell him to do, but mostly the struggles continue.

He'll do some distance on his own two feet now. I took him to the grocery store one day and made him walk from the car park to the store. It was really pretty far, and he did it with no trouble (although I was holding his hand and providing balance over the strange terrain). He wanted to be picked up shortly before we got to the store entrance. He communicated it very clearly, and enjoyed his shopping. Encouraged by this, I took him to the village hall the next day for tea and biscuits (no tea for him though). Rather than going in his stroller as usual, I held his hand and walked him over there. He wanted to be picked up twice on the way there and twice on the way back. The day after that, we walked to see the new village sign with Dave. I think he's starting to learn that walking is a good way to get places.

Another week, we went to see a hugely pregnant friend and her little girl. He and the girl, who is almost four, played and played. She was very attentive to him, and they had a great time together, even though they weren't always playing the same games as each other. He seemed very interested in the older woman, and made a careful study of everything she did. Later, we went to the village hall tea and biscuits afternoon again, where another older woman (almost 2 years old) started taking any toy Christopher showed an interest in. Finally she got him up on the stage and announced that she needed to "cuddle" him. Which she did repeatedly, usually wrestling him to the floor in the process. He seemed unconcerned and vaguely pleased to be admired in this way.

We've taken his football to the village hall several times now. He continually amazes the older villagers with his ability and interest in kicking the ball all around the room. "The next Beckham" is something I hear several times a week now, as he also kicks the balls around at Gymboree.

He has a lot of ideas about meal time. He doesn't always want to eat, but he knows how things go and what to do. He knows that a bib goes around his neck. He can reach where the clean ones are kept, and if he's feeling hungry, sometimes he'll go get a bib and put it on. He knows that Mummy sits in a big chair for meals, and he really wants to have a big chair of his own. Actually, he wants MY chair for his own. He'll quite often go sit on my chair and pretend to eat during the day. Just today he was offered a yogurt, and he refused (tantrum style) to consider eating it unless he could be in Mummy's chair, which he was allowed to do after he'd been calm for a while. At dinner time he still sits in his high chair and feeds himself as much as he can. He still prefers food that looks like ours, unless he doesn't like the look of ours. He'll eat a stuffed pepper any day of the week, even though they're a little spicey.

He likes to feed other people. Being around most of the time, I get a lot of it (which is why he doesn't get fed much that I don't like). Several times in the past few weeks I've had the experience of him holding a rice cake up to my mouth, him opening his mouth. He puts it in my mouth, I bite down, he breaks off the main bit leaving me with a small chunk in my mouth. If there is any part of it sticking out from between my lips, he gently pushes it into my mouth with one finger. Then he smiles and starts smacking his lips with his tongue out. It's so sweet. I just love it.

In late February Grandad came for a visit. He rang the doorbell, and I took Christopher along to answer the door with me. I opened the door, he stepped to the threshold, looked at his grandfather, and put his arms up to be collected for a hug. Christopher does NOT do this with everyone. I was impressed that he remembered him so well after not seeing him for a few months, but he always does seem to know who Grandad is. They spent a lot of time together over the next few days, and enjoyed playing together with the outgrown cousin toys Grandad brought along with him. Plenty of snuggles too.

Last night in his bath (instead of the sink ritual, he sometimes has a tub bath) he was having a great time playing with his toys and splashing around. Dave washed his hair, then went to rinse it. He's not always a fan of having his head rinsed, but last night it was all he wanted. Dave poured a little cup of water over him. He wriggled then burst into a huge smile. Another cup of water, another wriggle and smile. A dozen rinses later, Dave stopped. Christopher got the cup and handed it back to him for more. A few dozen more times, including some with timing variations to play on his anticipation, and Dave stopped again. Christopher handed the cup back to him. I have no idea how long they went on like that, but I know bedtime was at least 15 minutes late when the start time of the bath actually had him destined to be under the covers a bit early that night.

Christopher has been allowed to drink from my water bottle for about a year now. He has his own drinks too, but water is for sharing, especially if we're out. He knows I sometimes have other drinks in similar bottles to the water bottle, and makes grabs for them now and then. I take this as a sign he's thristy, ask him if he is thirsty, and give him something else. Today he was not going to be put off of my drink with his own drink. He threw his on the floor and went for mine again. It was diet cola. Fizzy. Aspartame. Not for little boys. I made an impulsive decision to let him try a tiny amount. He lifted the bottle to his lips and raised the bottom. Talk about shocked! His eyes bugged out. His tongue shot out, along with all (a few millilitres) of the soda. A look of utter betrayal, horror, and just plain amazement that such a thing could come out of a drink bottle. I held it out to him again, and he suddenly went forraging for his previously discarded baby drink container.

Earlier today, Dave was elsewhere in the house, and Christopher and I were in the living room with the baby gated closed. Nothing odd there, but Christopher decided that he wanted to be with his father. He grabbed my hand (actually just a death grip on one finger) and pulled me over to the baby gate, then carefully placed my hand on the part that needs to be squeezed to open it. I let him out, and we went to find Dave.

15 March 2003
On Sunday morning we went to a strip mall to take care of an errand, but Dave wasn't interested in staying for the final details, so he and Christopher rolled off to look for a football. They selected a lovely yellow one. Not a toy with football markings printed on it, but a real football. Woo hoo!

On Sunday afternoon I was having a lovely nap, deep in sleep, and Dave was looking after Christopher. Crying. Screaming. Combination crying and screaming. Someone didn't want me to sleep. Dave appeared at the bedroom door and asked if I could help. Not one to give up on a nice nap when there is another qualified parent in charge, I asked, "Is he bleeding?" I was so sure that would get me more sleep time, but the answer was "a bit." It turns out that Dave and Christopher were going to have a walk in the garden, as they sometimes do. Dave took him to the sliding glass door, unlocked it, opened it, pulled back the curtain and went to help him through, but it was too late. Christopher KNEW there was glass there and decided to drum on it. But there wasn't glass there, and he went hands and face first onto the pavement below. He had a big purple bump and a small abrasion on his forehead, and scratches down his nose. It was a painful lesson (for parents and boy alike), but Kit is one to learn from his mistakes, and I doubt he'll be doing that again.

Gymboree class on Monday was devoted to social time. Christopher wanted no part of that. He got a ball and went off to play on his own. He did stop and watch them now and then. When the maracas came out, he refused to accept any, but then decided he quite liked the maraca song, and did a dance instead. He was clearly pleased that the other parents were enjoying his show. He tried some hard tasks and fell once, re-scratching his nose, but got right back on and tried it again. He's getting too big for the class he's in, so next week he'll be in the one with the bigger kids.

Tuesday we did water torture, otherwise known as swimming lessons. We picked up a few good tips, such as a new way to get him into the water, and diving in face first instead of feet first. Less water up the nose. The rest of the lesson was tear inducing torture. He hated all the flotation devices. He hated going under water. When the time finally came, he hated getting out of the pool, then he hated being in the dressing room. The only thing he liked was playing with the toys in the water, which we did as much as possible, easing into tasks now and then, and again when the screams came. I can't tell how much of it was just the mood of the day, so we'll keep going at least for the rest of the lessons we've paid for.

Wednesday we went to London Costco for a few household staples. Laundry supplies, tortillas, batteries, etc. Almost no food this time, oddly enough. Christopher was very good for the drive there and all of the shopping until we got to the checkout (he has a hatred of checkouts -- I have my own theories). By then he was out of milk in his sippy cup, so we got more at the cafe and got back in the car. I needed a pit stop, but didn't want to go back to Costco, so we went to the roadside services. Christopher held my hand and walked a lot of the way there, then to the shop to get him a snack, and all the way back to the car. He slept a lot of the way back, but we stopped off for a little side trip about half way home. We went to where Dave works to visit him. Dave got to show his little boy off to his coworkers, and Christopher got a little chance to run around, and to get a new nappy. One of the people who works there has a daughter just a bit older than Christopher and spent a while comparing and contrasting the two kids. He was impressed with how well Kit not only walks but runs, and by how big he is.

I got sick, so we missed going to the village hall on Thursday, and swimming on Friday.

Christopher is now 18 months old, and has begun to use toys in their intended manner. Megabloks are actually used to construct things, mostly towers. He'll sit on the tractor and ride it a short distance. He plays his musical toys (sort of) as they are meant to be played.

Thursday, when I had to do most of my child care from under a blanket on the couch, I watched him play with his megabloks, building, rebuilding, and completely absorbed for a full hour. We did have one intermission for a nappy change, but that was my idea, then he was back to work. He mostly wants to build towers out of the single cell blocks, but he will dabble in other sizes, especially when encouraged to do so. Today he decided that he was going to make a tower entirely out of orange single blocks. We were pleased that he could distinguish the colors so well. He found most of them on his own, but then we turned up a few more, which we presented in groups with other colors of blocks. He refused all but the orange ones until he had them all on his tower, then he moved to red and black. Later on in the day, he moved all the small orange blocks to a coffee table and moved them around, babbling to himself as if he was telling a story and they were the actors. Eventually he made them all into a horizontal tower, a train of storts, and then reorganized them several times.

In honor of his turning 18 months old, he's been offered a few salty items of food. He showed me up by refusing all offers on his actual 18 month day, but the next day he accepted two extra marmite rice cakes before getting into a salty snack food (Shocks onion flavor) and extracting a handful. He seemed surprised that we didn't take them away, and ate one. The he ate another. Then he fed all the rest, one by one, to Dave. Dave does not appear to have suffered any damage.

I know there isn't a magic switch that suddenly makes salt not okay on one day and okay the next, but a small indulgence to mark his passage into the land of developed kidneys seemed to be in order. It's nice not to have to worry quite so much about what he gets into his mouth.

He's holding steady at 30 pounds, but he does seem to be getting taller within that weight. No recent height measurements because he's just too wiggly. I'll post it when I can. His legs are longer, if his trousers can be believed. He's moved from size 5 shoes to size 6. They're big on him, but the 5s were not going on any more. He knows what shoes are for and tries to put them on his feet for himself, or stands in grownup shoes. He has at least ten teeth, but he's not into letting us check inside his mouth very often. He definitely has front four up and down, and a first molar on each side of the top. Lower right first molar is threatening to pop through. Real chewing is imminent. Fire engine red bum agrees.

Dave suggested another walk in the garden today. Caution caused Christopher to ask for a ride over the dangerous step, but then he ran around the garden playing football and frisbee with Dave. I took some photos, which you might get to see someday. Chrono ran around and played ball and chase with them. It was still a little cold, so the excursion was short.

I spent some time copying him today, which he thought was great. He clapped twice, I clapped twice. He clapped three times, I clapped three times. He kicked his feet, I kicked my feet. He thinks I am a great student, and will go far.

He's needed to have some verbal corrections lately, and he hates them. He cries like he's been hurt when he's told he can't play with electrical outlets. First he gets told, then he gets a more serious voice. If need be, he's removed physically. Sometimes he manages to comply with the nice request, and gets praised mightily. He loves praise.

At dinner time, I made him a bowl of white and sweet potatoes with cheese, a dish he generally adores. Not today. He refused it many times over the course of 30 minutes. He'd refused the breakfast offered too, and dinner last night, so we decided to dig our heels in and make a point. This or nothing. Tears, trauma, no eating. He was really hungry, but not for that. Eventually, he went and found a box of Jaffa Cakes and presented it to Dave, the clear message being that this would be a much more appropriate food for dinner. Nope! So he's in bed, possibly (probably) hungry. He'll get his potatoes and cheese again tomorrow, and the Jaffa Cakes are going into hiding.

30 April 2003
We have a very outdoorsy baby, as it turns out. Dave has been taking Christopher out to play in the garden almost every day. Dave asks, "Do you want to go out in the garden?" That makes Christopher make his yes noises, go find his football, and take it to the back door. He also knows that he needs socks and shoes on his feet before he can go out, and accepts them much more willingly than he does at other times.

We had a bit of a scare one night when we heard a sea lion barking in Christopher's room. It was the wee hours and he was meant to be sleeping, not playing with sea mammals. I went to get him and evict his guest, but it turns out he had croup. We were pretty scared by it and called the night doctor, who told us to give him baby paractamol, sit in a steamy bathroom with him, and call again if anything got worse. Christopher was trying to cry, but the sounds were not coming out the right way, which scared him and made him cry even harder with even fewer of the right sounds. Eventually everything calmed down and he got to sleep. We skipped swimming the next day, just in case, but he was fine and hasn't had it again.

He's getting taller, but his weight hasn't changed for about two months. He'd been at the high end of normal, so that's fine. He's also a very muscular little guy. As he gets taller, his rib cage seems much harder -- more like a little boy than a baby. He still has his baby belly, but he needs that because it's where he keeps a lot of his internal organs. Anyway, his height is now about 50th percentile and weight about 89th, which is a change from 25th and 91st a few months ago.

I don't know how strong other babies are, but this one surprises me often with his strength. He can now lift a 3 kg hand weight and carry it away.

Peek-a-boo is a big favorite around here. He plays it at bedtime when we put the covers on him. He pulls the blankets over his face while we ask where Christopher has gone, then he reveals himself and giggles. We have to do this between two and twenty times every night, but he just loves it. He also loves to close doors then pop out and say BOO! He's even played it in the swimming pool.

Another bedtime ritual has been added. After he's all changed and ready, we carry him to the light switch and let him turn off the light for himself. He's very proud of this skill, and sometimes reminds us to let him do it if we forget.

He's reached that age where he eats less. He's also reached (one of) the ages where his ability to say no (well, shake his head no) is more important to him than eating food he likes. This means that dinner has gone uneaten quite a bit lately. He's always offered something nice, but usually goes to bed without. He'll always eat fromage frais, so we can give him that if we have any worries about his intake. He has good energy and isn't wasting away, and we don't want stress or games around meals, so hunger it is. Still, it would be nice if he would learn to talk enough to tell me if he would rather not have banana in his oatmeal today BEFORE I mix it in.

We're trying to impress upon him that he does get a bit of say over what happens to him. He's offered choices, and he seems to like that. We let him pick which flavor of fromage frais he'll eat first. Sometimes I ask him which nappy cover or shirt he'd like to wear today. One day we were shopping and saw a new print available on the nappy covers we use. I showed it to him and asked him what he thought of it, and he took it from me and put it in the trolley. I took it out to look at it more closely, and he took it from me again and put it in the trolley again. He still likes that one a lot.

He's very interested in the toilet and what happens there. He has no interest in sitting on it or doing the things other people do with it. Be forewarned, if you come to our house, he'll probably try to follow you in there to see what you do. He follows me in and trys to peer at what I might be doing when I sit down. He knows his poops go in there after a nappy change, and will tell me when to flush. No desire to help flush, he just wants me to know when to do it. He's particularly interested in watching Dave standing up to pee. For a while he was getting very close and grabbing the toilet rim, but he quickly learned that toilet grabbing is always followed by hand washing, and he decided he watch from a few inches away. A three year old visitor went to the loo without any adults, but Kit went along, clearly fascinated that someone just a bit bigger than him could do that. I think we still have a lot of nappies to change, but he's storing up the information he needs for when he needs it.

He really really likes to have his hair brushed. He went so long without any hair that I was worried he might not welcome the new sensation, but my fears were unfounded. He's got access to a variety of hairbrushes and a few (clean) dish scrubbing brushes. He'll brush his own or let us do it.

Christopher went through a long period of time where he loved his books but did not want anyone to try to read them to him. He's over that now. He wants them read and read and read. One day we read "Put me in the Zoo" somewhere between 15-20 times. He's got a few other books about colors that he is very interested in right now.

He doesn't know the names of the colors yet, even though it's what he wants to read about most often, but he does know something about colors. The other day at Soft Play he brought me about 30 balls, one at a time, and they were all blue. Sometimes at home he hands me a dozen green ones, one at a time. He picks them out from a large quantity of mixed colors.

He's had several animal encounters recently. He got to meet an owl at the Saturday market one week, but didn't actually touch it. He watched while I did though. A few weeks back we took him to Wimpole Hall and Home Farm, where farm animals from very old breeds are raised and slaughtered as they were in the old days. He got to pet a sheep, see pigs and cows, and run around some chickens. There were horses, goats, rabbits, and a bunch of other animals too. He's seen a few ducks lurking around local waterways, and is taking more and more notice. He has started to point out birds when we're outside.

He also points out cats when we're out. One day he spotted a cat in a neighbor's yard. It was just about as far away as it could be and still be seen, but he saw it. He's got a lot of enthusiasm for the cats at our house as well. He would really like to pet them, but he's not gentle enough yet and they don't give him a lot of opportunities. Once in a while he'll find Zizi napping within his reach, and she'll endure a few dozen strokes from him before deciding to sleep elsewhere.

He's big on building things. He's made a lot of incredible structures with his Megabloks. Sometimes Dave will put him in his playpen with a few dozen blocks at nap time, and when we return to see if he's ready to get up, there will be a whole city built up.

One day at the village hall, he was the only child present, so rather than run around and play he decided to so what everyone else was doing, which was to sit on chairs around tables, eat cookies, and have a beverage. One of the organizers brought over a few wooden blocks for him to play with, and he spend half an hour arranging them into different structures. He's got a good reputation for being sweet and clever over there. People seem very interested in all his accomplishments.

He understands that telephones go against the head, so if he can get his hands on one, he holds it up to his head about three inches over his ear. Don't expect much if you call him up.

He likes to pull tissues out of the box, but has slowed down with this since we started wiping his nose with each and every one he removes. One day he had a wad of tissues, and took them over to the trash bin and threw them away. He really does notice everything we do!

He's noticed that keys go into locks. He got hold of a key one day and spent a long time trying to get it into a lock. Fortunately, he did not succeed. It was a door to the outside world. The key was to a padlock. Still needs a little refinement on this one.

He hasn't nursed for several months now, but I was wondering if that was really his final decision. I offered him a nipple. He laughed and laughed. He acted like it was the funniest thing he'd ever seen. Gee, thanks!

Christopher loves to play catch, but there is a small problem. He can throw but not catch. He gets close now and then, but is missing a lot of the needed skills. One day we decided to give him a hand with it. I sat on the coush with him right in front of me, my arms around to hold his hands. Dave sat on the floor several feet away and threw a ball at us. I moved his hands so he caught the ball. He LOVED it! After several times, I just started nudging his hands closed at the right time rather than pushing them all the way. He was so satisfied.

Dave noticed that he really likes to "post" things. He's got a small bank that he loves to fill with coins. He'll save as many as he can get. Dave got a small box that some computer bit had come in and cut nine slots in the top. Then he gave Christopher eight ice lolly sticks. Hours of fun. Days. He never gets tired of it.

Some time ago I dragged home a tiny table. It's just big enough to set a magazine on, or maybe a few beverages. It's in bad shape, but I had thoughts of playing around with decorating it. Fifty pence was a good price. A few weeks ago I was out at the Saturday market again and found a small plastic lawn chair. Bright orange and also fifty pence. It turns out that the table and chair fit together just right. He's been eating some of his meals at it, and uses it as a place to do his drawings.

For most of April, his hair had a little whisp sticking up at the back of his head. He looked like Alfalfa from the Little Rascals, except for the hair grease and the hair color. His hair finally got long enough for it to lie down again, but it's something to keep in mind for future haircuts. I guess we can consider it a little antenna or something.

He's getting into lip kissing big time now. He hasn't entirely got the hang of it, but he wants it anyway. Soft wet baby mouth being mashed into your lips is what's on offer. Come and get it while you can!

He's thinking about talking, and certainly understands a lot more of what's said to him than ever before. I asked him where his milk (sippy cup) was after not seeing it for a while. He took me to it, through a baby gate and down the hall. He also remembers where everything is put, so you can't just remove things from his line of vision. You have to hide them when he can't see. Otherwise he'll point and beg or simply retrieve them himself when you least expect it.

He does point to thing for identification though. He wants to know what things are called. He'll point to all the people in a room and want to know their names. He points to things around town and around the house. He's not satisfied with my not knowing. The other day a little girl was looking through the window at Gymboree, and he was quite insistent that I tell him her name. Oh well.

Christopher was trying to talk in mid-April. He was walking from the living room to his room for a new nappy, and Chrono was in his way, so he was pushing to get past and saying loudly. "GOD! GOD! GOD!" Then he saw Spider (the cat) and started chasing him and calling HIM GODGODGOD. The animals clearly have him well trained. Still, I think he was trying to say dog.

His swimming continues to improve. He does a lot more with his arms and legs than he ever did before. He does some serious kicking, using good form. He loves to "monkey walk" around the pool with his hands on the rail and his feet on the side of the pool. When he gets to the shallow end I tell him his feet will touch here if he wants to put them down. He usually does, and walks around holding the rail with one or both hands, but sometimes letting go. He's subject to currents that way, and usually needs a rescue after not too long, but that doesn't stop him from trying again. He loves to play with toys in water, and during one class spent some time rolling balls at the instructor, who was standing on the edge. When it's time to jump into the water from a sitting position on the edge, he's learning to put his hands up and his head down, just like a mini dive. He still hates anything he could use to float on, except me.

He still loves his Gymboree classes, and regularly freaks out the group leader by climbing up to dangerous locations. She's the one who built them, so it really shouldn't be such a surprise to her. He's a big fan of bubble time, but still hates the parachute and air log.

Not to say that he needs to be firmly on the ground all the time. He's started diving off things and onto things around the house. We have a small exercise trampoline. He'll jump on it for a while, then want to jump into someone's arms. He generally won't jump until he puts his arms out at a person and the person puts their arms out at him. Then he'll launch himself off to be caught. I was just telling his visiting grandfather about the arms out thing when Christopher invented a new game just for Grandad. It involved standing on the firm edge of the trampoline with his arms at his sides and tipping over at Grandad like a felled tree. He was caught every time. He just likes it when he can do things to make people say "Umm... you were saying...?" to mummy.

We had a nice visit from Grandad and cousin Stanley. Christopher and Stanley had a lot to say to each other, mainly in grunts and grins. Christopher decided that he needed to help Stanley play his video games. He enjoyed pushing all the buttons on the controller. Eventually a second controller was produced, and harmony was restored. Stanley takes it all in stride and with good humor.

They spent a lot of time talking about what things were and the names of all the people in the room, along with the kisses and cuddles they always seem to share. At bedtime one night, we told Christopher it was time to go to bed. He ran to Grandad and curled up in his lap with a sheepish grin. We decided to let him have an extra half hour in honor of visiting relatives. He did seem to really enjoy having more family around him.

I bought a harmonica before I left San Francisco, but early exposures to it did not go well for Christopher. No one had touched it for about a year, but the other day I got it out. He was fascinated! And he figured out how to blow into it to make a sound. On his second try he learned how to make sounds inhaling as well as exhaling. He's got great breath control, and understands the value of a big finish to his performances. He's not much on using more than one section of the harmonica per performance, but these are early days. He is clearly very proud of his musical accomplishments. So am I!
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since 1 July 2003