Christopher Updates
Archive of May - December 2003

3 May 2003
He'll want to read (be read) a book several times in a row, which is normal, but after a while he'll start pointing to the colors on the page and looking at me inquisitively. He also has a "Baby Tad" toy that has different shaped colors on his chest and will ask him to press certain ones. He has little interest in the coaching of Baby Tad, but likes to press the buttons. Today I asked him to touch the green shape, and he did. I thought it might be a fluke, so we did several more colors. He got blue and yellow right but missed red (choosing purple instead). I think he's really starting to get the hang of this color thing!

He's also learning a lot more about getting dressed. He's pretty little to do it himself, but he's been pushing his head and arms through the right holes for ages. He steps out of trousers if they're lowered, and today Dave got him to step into trousers one foot at a time!

Don't ask me why, but he adores gravel. He likes to rearrange it and hand bits of it to people.

He points to lights a lot, and notices the light reflecting off of things onto other things. My own first word was "light," so I secretly hope his will be too, but I don't think it will be. I'm not sure what to count as his first word. He says "BOO!" a lot. Is that a word? He sometimes tries to count along with me, although most of the numbers sound the same as each other. I've heard "un" and "deux" and "deeeeee," but usually it's un un un, or dee dee DEEE dee dee. Still a bit of work to do in this area, but I'll bet he knows more than he is letting on.

We had Indian food for dinner last night. Rice and curry was of no interest to him this time, but he ate several mini onion bhajis and a few pappadoms. Later he experimented with the age old question: "into how many pieces can a baby break a poppadom?" The answer is "all of them."

4 May 2003
Deeply upset that I was tidying the living room, Christopher ran around behind me trying to put everything back from where I'd taken it. Alas, his valiant efforts were insufficient, and something less than mayhem prevails in the lounge.

Dave and I were both sitting in there playing with him, and Kit started showing off his ability to be gentle with the dog. This included walking circles around him without stepping on him as he tried to sleep, and gently touching his tail now and then. Chrono didn't much care to be walked around so thoroughly, so he kept getting up and moving away. No good, the baby followed him and started over. At one point Dave put his leg out as a roadblock between them. Christopher stopped to consider this for a moment, then leaned forward on Dave's leg, kicked off, and teetered over to the other side, catching himself on his hands and easing his legs down.

Chrono needed a bit of consolation after all this gentleness, and went to Dave for a good head rub. Christopher came over to intervene. Dave was only using one hand. Christopher took Dave's free hand in his and placed it just under the dog's ear, right where he most likes to be scratched. Too cute.

A few hours after bed time, we heard some crying and a disturbing smell. Baby yak. I changed his bedding while Dave took him to the bathroom for a wash and a cuddle. We got him into clean jammies and Dave continued to snuggle him for a while. A few sips of water to help with any bad taste in his mouth, and half a dozen readings of "Where's The Baby," a book with flaps to move to reveal the baby. He started saying BOO as each baby was exposed, and smiled at me broadly each time. Finally he started yawning and rubbing his eyes, so we decided to put him back to bed. But no! Time for round two. Loads of baby yak all over the new jammies, Dave's clothes, and Dave's chair. We stripped him again, and I took him for a wash while Dave stripped off his own violated clothing. Dave joined us in the bathroom, and Christopher wanted a Daddy snuggle, so we wrapped him in a towel and the two guys rocked for a while. Christopher kept turning his face up to get a kiss from Daddy. So sweet. So smelly. We played a game where Christopher touched a color we asked for on a multi-colored towel for a while, then it was new jammies and bed.

8 May 2003
Swimming on Tuesday was terrible. He cried and cried. We abandoned the lesson and went to play in the shallow end of the pool. When we got to where he could stand up and not have to deal with flotation devices, he let out an audible "ahhhhhh."

Swimming on Friday was stellar, enlightened, magical, and all around pretty good. He was smiling and laughing from the moment we got near the pool. We were a few minutes early, and he declined to sit on my lap, instead walking up to the pool, pointing emphatically, and making his "I want this right now" noise. And he really did want it. He embraced every task I introduced and made up some of his own. He held onto me and floated on his back. His idea, not mine. He held onto the edge and threw his head back into the water several dozen times. It looked like a back-dive. He "monkey walked" all the way around the pool's internal railing and climbed up the ladder before jumping back into my arms. He kicked and kicked his legs. Usually one to hold on with both hands, as we crossed the pool together, he kicked with both legs and paddled with one arm.

The village hall was open as usual on Thursday afternoon, but he had a late nap and woke up just before it was time to go. I probably should have stayed home and let him wake up a bit. Live and learn. We walked over there hand in hand, stopping to admire a local cat. We got in the door, and.... WAAAAAH! He cried for about 15 minutes. He refused to go into the hall. He stood by the door and wailed. One of the organizers went over to chat with him, and took a book to show him. Eventually he was lured inside, but had no desire to play with his football. He did do some drawing though, and had a cookie. He was in a good mood again by the time we left.

10 May 2003
I talked to another swimming program about Christopher, and we're going to try them for a few weeks. They offer badges for achievement, and have structured lessons, but have a very different philosophy from the Tuesday classes. For a few weeks, we'll have three sessions a week if we got to everything we can. I'll follow Christopher's lead on this, once he's had a chance to settle in at the new pool. Once we've tried this, we'll decide what to drop.

A few days back I had a friend over, and we had a project to work on out in the garden. Christopher got to spend 45 minutes pushing chunks of charcoal ash through the grate in the barbecue grill. He as in heaven.

He can't seem to get enough of his books lately. He sometimes wants them read to him dozens of times in quick succession, and sometimes just wants to point to colors and have us say the names of them. Sometimes he'll sit and look at the books on his own, turning the pages and regarding each one, but parental involvement is strongly sought as well.

11 May 2003
Christopher and Dave spent a lot of the day together so I could get some things done. They played in the garden, and rolled around in the grass. They played with Dave's computer. They ate snacks. It's so nice to have another parent around. They really seem to enjoy one another.

After a late afternoon nap, Christopher woke up cranky. Crabby. Crotchety. He cried and cried. I went to relieve Dave, but relief wasn't an option. He wanted both parents with him for his mood. Finally I got him to eat something, and we took him for a bath.

Magic. That boy really comes into his own in water. He fussed a little at first, but before long he was playing with his toys. I gave him four of his Do-Re-Mi Dolphins and their floaty rings. He rearranged them so the dolphins and the rings were of matching colors. After about 20 minutes, he started doing his swimming practice. He layed himself down on his stomach and managed to get his whole body floating except for his elbows, which were on the bottom. He also floated on his back a bit, using a few points for support while suspending the rest of him. He was smiling about as big a smile as he could. He takes great pride in his accomplishments.

13 May 2003
Today our baby is 20 months old. Toothie number 12 finally popped through.

We went swimming twice, attending two separate classes at two separate pools. He learned to climb out of the first pool on his own, provided someone puts his elbows up on the side for him, then demonstrated his skills on the very different construction of the second pool. He used floaty arm bands for the first time. He had concerns at first, but got used to the concept pretty quickly, and seems to understand that there could be benefits to it. it looks like he already has all the skills for Ducky Badge Number One, except for blowing bubbles in the water. He has no interest. He has most of the skills for Ducky Badge Number Two as well. He doesn't seem to mind having gone swimming twice in one day at all.

Boo! That's still the only word he's willing to say. He communicates clearly without words, and understands everyone else's words. He did say BA! when he retrieved his ball the other day, but we're waiting for a repeat to confirm intent and understanding. I could take him to the doctor, but all they would do is check his hearing, which is clearly fine. He can hear my knees snapping from the other end of the house.

He's learning colors and dabbling in numbers and shapes. He's getting better all the time at pointing to specific colors on request. He loves to draw (scribble) but thinks crayons taste yucky. He should know, he's tried quite a few.

Kipper and Maisy are his favorite TV shows, but he still loves Dora and Blue's Clues. He loves his Baby Einstein videos.

He loves chocolate. The other day he saw a photo of chocolate on the brown page of his colo(u)r book, and repeatedly put his mouth against it. If you say the word chocolate, even if you clearly haven't got any, he takes out his pacifier and drools. This is proof -- if any was needed -- that he was not switched at birth.

We walk more and more places hand in hand, leaving the stroller behind. He seems to know when he really has to hold a hand, and makes no effort to break free.

Gymboree yesterday was a bit trying. He had two falls. The first one was a spectacular tumble off a step that landed him in a perfect head stand, where he remained for the two seconds it took me to get to him for a rescue. He looked a bit shocked to have been in a headstand, but no harm was done. Later though, he took a bad step and fell, smacking his face on a board. He now has a bruise running vertically from over his eye down to his middle cheek area. A minute of screaming, and he hasn't complained any further about the matter, but I got him an ice pack anyway. He was very wiggley, so we had to put it against his face for ten seconds then off for ten, over and over. After a dozen or so times he saw the game in it and put it against his face on his own. Once released from treatment, he took his ice pack to the slide, where he climbed up, sent the ice pack down, went down himself, then dragged it up to the top again, repeat ten times. Today the bruise can be seen if you look for it, but it's not drawing the sort of comments his black eye did.

Want to know how to make a toddler cry? Bake a batch of yummy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, take one to him, and don't give it to him until you have thoroughly explained the significance of the recipe in his family history, and how these cookies are his birthright. Somehow I don't think he absorbed much of the story, but he did absorb the cookie. And one of its batch-mates.

15 May 2003
Christopher has developed a strong desire to be read to, although he likes to skip pages, and often just wants to point to colors or shapes and have the reader say what they are. Today we took several board books along to the village hall, and Christopher made our next door neighbor read all four books to him. He'd been through them all with me eariler in the day, but I think he was checking up on me. The neighbors were delighted that he could touch some of the colors when asked to.

He made a visiting friend do it yesterday. She very nearly got him to say "Moo."

Some older children (2 and 5) made a long line of chairs and were walking back and forth on them. Christopher looked at them do it once or twice, then climbed up to do it himself. He was very sure-footed, and got a lot of compliments for being fearless yet safe. The neighbor said he clearly wasn't going to let anyone out-do him.

16 May 2003
Swimming was good. He threw his head back into the water a lot, and climbed out of the water a few times, and even jumped in from standing once.

After swimming we went to the grocery store to pick up a few things. We took a few minutes to check the clothing section, where Christopher found a yellow swimming costume he liked a lot. I pointed to a bunch of shirts, and he shook his head no until I got to one with yellow stripes. He wanted that. We popped over to the toy section, when I found a soap bubble gun. You dip the front into soap solution then squeeze the trigger, and a little fan blows tons of bubbles for you. When we got home we gave it a try, and are prepared to pronounce it a success. He was clapping his hands together to pop them, then when Dave got home and started popping them with one finger, he adopted his father's style and did it that way too.

Christopher also saw and requested (through unmistakable pointing and grunting) a set of arm bands for swimming. He knew what they were because he had a brief encounter with them at the Tuesday afternoon swimming session. A reasonable request, and therefore granted.

If Christopher does something he thinks is really good, he gives himself a round of applause. He also has a strange fascination with footwear. He'd decided that Mummy must always wear shoes. I have Birkenstock clogs, so it's easy to slip them off if my toes need a bit of cooling, but this is not acceptable to the small blond one. He'll come along and do his best to put my shoes back on my feet. He'll stop whatever he's doing to set things right. Sometimes he can't quite manage it, so I'll put my own shoes back on. He gives me a round of applause then.

17 May 2003
We decided to take the baby to the public pool today because Dave so rarely gets to swim with him, and we had the new armbands to initiate. He fussed a little when we tried them on him at home, but once we were at the pool and it was clear to him that he would actually get to use them for their intended purpose, he held his arms out willingly to have them put on.

At first he was a bit unsure. He held tight to Dave as they went wandering around the pool. It took 20 or 30 minutes to graduate from holding tight to holding one hand to realizing that he could swim away without holding onto anyone. Naturally we stayed close, but he pushed us away if we tried to help him or handle him. He swam and swam. He liked getting himself over to the stairs, and the few times I turned him around to try to get him to go away from the stairs, he just turned himself back again.

Dave was pleased to see how his confidence and skills have improved recently. Even over the course of today's session, he went from swimming solo for a few feet from one parent to the other, to swimming away from both parents as fast and far as he could go.

I overheard one father tell his son to watch Christopher and learn how to kick. The boy was at least a year older. I'm very proud of Kit's swimming skills, and pleased by how much he enjoys using them.

Another game he kept going for the whole swimming session was to find the depth markers and point to each of the letters and numbers over and over, wanting to know what they were called. He monkey walked around the pool railing and found them all, some of them several times. We were there for over an hour, maybe closer to an hour and a half before he started looking tired.

Unfortunately, it turns out that letting him set his own activity level and itinerary means he swallows water. Lots of water. Too much water. Lots too much water. All of which he returned once in his carseat. I never knew such a little guy could hold so much.

21 May 2003
Someone (who shall remain named Christopher) sat on the potty tonight before bed. He didn't produce anything, but he did climb on and off a few dozen times, refining his technique. I put him on there the first time, which upset him, but then he went back and tried to figure out how to get on himself. He held my hand for balance the first four or five times, then he started approaching it from all different directions. Each time he got himself into position, he gave himself a round of applause, and we joined in. He also showed some awareness that his penis was going to be involved in this new skill, sooner or later. I've put him on the potty a few times in the past, and it's always just upset him, so I always helped him off right away. Trying it again was 100% his idea.

He's been watching Dave in the loo with great fascination for some time now. He's 20 months and 8 days old, and potty training has begun! Yay! I know it'll take a while, but I'm still very proud of his accomplishment

The postal chick had a delivery for me today. Kit has been a bit shy lately, hiding his face when new people look at him (then usually warming up in a few minutes), but today he came to see her, not even a moment of shyness. He went out of the front step, even without shoes. He pointed to birds on the power line, and birds flying, and chattered to her about what it all meant. It sounded a lot like "dit deet deet deeet deeeee dit," but in paragraph form.

24 May 2003
At a friend's house today, Christopher learned to jump. How and why he learned is a mystery because no one was teaching, but jump he did. It's a skippy sort of jump where his right foot comes up and then his left foot also comes up some time before the right one hits the ground again. I missed the first performance, but Dave arranged an encore for me. Too fun! I've seen him walking around on tippy toes for several days, but I didn't guess it was leading to this.

27 May 2003
Today we had some visitors over, including an eight year old and a six year old. Christopher learned some things from the six year old, such as how to get in and out of a toy car. Seventy five times. He didn't manage to nap until 3pm because so much exciting stuff was going on.

When he woke up, he was a total crab cake. He cried and cried. He ate some biscuits and spat them out. He shoveled his yogurt into his bib and splashed it in his hair. One cure for a boy like that. BATH TIME! He doesn't get a bath every night (although he does always get a wash), and he was really ready for it. There was no swimming today because it's half-term. No matter, he did his homework. He splashed. He played with toys. He started making happy noises. At some point he went into swimming lesson mode. He stood up and threw himself into a sitting position in the water, then he did it five or six more times. He kicked his legs. He blew bubbles in the water. He floated his body tummy down with his hands on the bottom. He floated on his back with one hand down, then with no hands down. He threw himself backwards into the water from sitting, and got his head under water a few times, but he just sat up a little and got it out again. Big proud grins for his back floating. I don't think he could hear our cheers with his ears under water. He saw us clapping and smiling though.

3 June 2003
Monday we did the Gymboree thing after missing a week due to a bank holiday. He was only edgy for a few seconds before finding another boy and playing ball with him. They took turns bouncing it at each other for half a dozen volleys. It gets pretty hot in there in the afternoons, so it's not unusual at all for the parent to strip bits of clothing off their kid. This week it was Molly, who lost her shirt. Christopher was fascinated. He walked circles around her looking at her bare chest, stopping to look her up and down, then walking another circle around her. After doing this several times, he went and found someone's sippy cup and presented it to her.

We're still on the twice on Tuesday swim schedule. He impressed his morning instructor by using a floaty tube. Normally they make him cry, but he's been using arm bands in the other class, and that seems to have made all the difference. He impressed his afternoon instructor by doing all the things to earn his first swimming badge. Yes, Christopher earned his Duckling 1 badge today, although he doesn't get it until next week. To do this, he had to swim 2 metres without another person helping him (arm bands allowed), get his hair wet, blow bubbles, and a few other things I've forgotten. Jumping into the pool was probably on there. She said she's seen him do all the things for Duckling 2 as well, with the exception of blowing a ball across the water for two metres.

I'm so proud. *sniffle*

Around the house, he's big into climbing. He can now get himself into his high chair, which is actually high. We saw him doing it once by getting on my chair then over the table and down into the high chair (we hid so we didn't have to tell him off for it -- next time he gets correction), but since then it's been pulling up and using the foot rest as a step. Once in the seat, he tries to buckle himself in. He's a safety boy.

Dave took him to meet some friends in a pub last week. He befriended the bar staff and spent most of the evening climbing up chairs to see them behind the bar. He was good natured, happy, and devoted to his work, even though it was an hour past his bedtime when they left. He is welcome to go back any time.

He's been learning to get himself into his car seat. It's quite a challenge!

He still sits on the potty before bed, but seems to have no intention of peeing in it. He's pretty proud of the skills he's got.

He still asks to brush his teeth once or twice during the day most days. He does those on his own, but the evening one is a mummy or daddy super clean followed by him finishing the job. In the past week or so, he's taken to washing his tummy with a washcloth as part of his evening ritual. Not sure where he got that, but I have no objection to clean tummies.

He has definite ideas about what people should be doing, and he will rearrange their hands for them to achieve his goals. He's big into taking hands off keyboards or big people books to put them on little people books or toys.

He's got a book with a frog in it. Although we haven't covered frog sounds and behaviour, for some reason when we get to the frog he says "GREP!" and hops a little. I'd love to know where he got that!

He likes a good snog. He pulled my face to his and kissed me on the lips with his lips closed. Usually I get the wet open mouth soggy baby kisses, but he's getting better about giving dry ones. It might have helped that we were in the pool at the time and he didn't want to swallow the pool water.

Dave has a bunch of little drawers with electronics components in them. They're blocked off with a bit of wood so he of the small fingers can't get at them, but they're exposed now and then for Dave to access them. Dave caught him trying to get in, and with the biggest smile you can imagine, Christopher grabbed Dave's body and turned him around on his swivel chair. He was quite clear that he did not want to be watched in this activity. He repeated the Daddy-turning several times before we took him away to do something else.

Christopher is fascinated with cats. He'll stop and point out any we see when out walking, and gets excited when he sees pictures of them in books. Even a silhouette of a cat gets him going. The two cats we have here are used to him and how know much distance they want to keep at any particular time. Zizi has been letting him test the limits with her more and more often if it means Dave petting her. She can often be found on Dave's lap while the baby is present, sometime helping to pet her. Sometimes Dave will swish her fluffy tail in his face, and he giggles madly. He's begun grabbing her tail and swishing it in his own face, and has developed a gentle enough touch that she doesn't complain. This is a good thing.

Christopher has sort of learned how to use tissues. He'll extract one from the box, make a number of attempts of varying success to wipe his nose (he even wipes down rather than up), then takes the tissue over to what he considers is the bin and disposes of it.

This has some interesting variants, sometimes he'll do minimal wiping, so we may go through a lot of tissues before he's learned, he's been known to try to extract tissues from the bin for re-use and in the pub the other night where there wasn't a bin, a convenient bag (fortunately Dave's) was designated as a substitute.

17 June 2003
There are now many, many animals living here. We have a cow, a cat, a frog, a lion, and a sheep. We also have a little creature who pops out from behind things and says BOO! The frog and lion sound suspiciously similar, but don't tell them that.

He's learned to control all the different settings on his electronic talking drum. He loves to jam on his electronic teaching piano. Unfortunately these toys (and a few others) will do something to let him know they are going to turn themselves off after some period of neglect. He can't stand to have them turn off! He goes around the room restarting them all in turn.

19 June 2003
A week or so ago, Dave had to go to the hospital to have an eye test. I went along as designated driver, and Christopher went along as designated toddler. There was a play area for children in the waiting area, so we sat and did some art, then went to check out the toys. At some point, he found a toy stethoscope. He put it around his neck in the approved manner and held the little cup to my belly (it was all he could reach). He looked up at me and moved it around a little, looked at me again, moved it again. He gave me quite a thorough listen, despite the earpieces not actually being in his ears. He hasn't been to a doctor himself in over a year, so he must have seen this on television or something. It's always a shock to realize just how much they absorb.

24 June 2003
Morning swimming was good. Christopher did lots of gutsy things, like walking around in the shallow end, seeing how deep he could get (mouth under water) without holding onto anything, and using a kickboard.

Afternoon swimming was stunning. He had his armbands on, and floated FLAT on his back with his head in the water. It was completely his idea to do that. He picked up toys held a foot underwater as part of a lesson to get them to look down into the water. Every time he wasn't being made to do the lesson for a second, he spun around and around like a top, using his arms and legs to turn him 360. He's his own whirlpool! He was SOOOO happy. We're assigned to work on blowing things across the surface of the water so he can get his Duckling 2 badge. The rest of the class is being encouraged to develop skills for Duckling 1. It's fun having the baby all the other parents point to and ask their kids if they would like to try to do what he's doing. I don't want them to feel bad though, so I do point out that he swim three times a week, and started lessons when he was 7 weeks old.

Gymboree yesterday was a great breakthrough day too. He ran over when new activities were announced. He sat himself in the circle and even put himself on my lap. He did all the group things. He has always hated and avoided group things. I think maybe he's just had things to do that he found more interesting than what they offered him. Sadly, the leader told us they've decided to close that Gymboree location at the end of July, so we have to look for another place for him to climb. I need to check out Tumble Tots, which is a bit more gymnastic-y, but he might be almost ready to follow instructions at a place like that. Balance beam, anyone?

26 June 2003
Christopher went to an art exhibition at the regional college. He wore his glow in the dark skeleton pajamas, and got more comments than any of the art work. He had a great time running around in the approved places, and being carried around upside down by his father.

27 June 2003
We had the lame-o swimming class. Once we run out of the ones I've paid for, we're just going to go to open swimming time for under 5s at a different pool. It's a longer session, a bigger pool, and costs less. We've gotten pretty good at ignoring the instructor for the Friday class, who does the exact same thing every week. We had 15 minutes to go, and some baby threw up in the pool so we all got ejected. I didn't think Christopher'd had enough, so we packed up and went to the replacement pool for another 45 minutes of swimming. It was great! He wore his armbands and was free to swim anywhere he wanted. He did some climbing out and jumping back in. He did spins. He did rolls. At one point I decided to show him something fun. I put him about 10 feet out from the edge, went to the edge myself, counted to three, dropped under water and pushed off. I resurfaced on the other side of him. Not behind, because he'd turned around to watch me come up. He was laughing and laughing. We did that another three or four times. By the end of the 45 minutes, he was actually ready to stop. It's rare we find his limit with swimming, but he had a nice long nap when we got home. Most of the kids were younger, but one was older. Most of the mothers were just holding their babies and walking around in the water, so I hope we inspire them a bit.

1 July 2003
We went swimming twice today, as we do on Tuesdays lately. For the morning class, we were a tiny bit early, so he sat on the edge of the pool and waited. I stayed nearby just in case, but he showed no signs of actually getting in until I was in the water to catch him. He swam around on a floaty tube on his own. He used to fear and loathe them, but now he's very happy with them. He used a kickboard too, and went through some hoops. A lot of the lesson involved walking around on tippy toes in the shallow end. He excels at this.

Afternoon class was really great. He started by repeating his sitting on the edge of the pool trick. That pool has a lifeguard on duty who looked very concerned, but didn't say anything. Once again, he waited for me to get in and catch him when he jumped. I noticed the lifeguard staying fairly close as Kit climbed out and jumped in several times, climbed the ladder, walked along the edge, and so forth. He never had to intervene, but he was ready. Christopher is very sure-footed. He tries a lot of hard things, but rarely over-extends his abilities.

We did most of the stuff the rest of the class was doing, but there were a few tasks that were described to the class, then followed with "Christopher doesn't need to do this one." A lot of the tasks he did on his own, for example, if the parent was supposed to spin the baby in a circle, he spun himself in a circle while I stood by. The class has been working on pushing off the sides with their feet. The parent stands behind the kid, holds his or her legs against the side with bent knees, then pushes the legs straight and launches backward at the same time. We've done it that way for a few weeks, but this week I decided to stand next to him and just push myself off the side in the approved manner. He copied me four times in a row.

Toward the end of the lesson, the teacher came over and told me she thought he was just about ready to move up a class, and asked how old he is. "Twenty-one months." "Oh. maybe not then." I could be wrong, but I think she was talking about a class for three year olds. He's got great swimming skills, but I think he doesn't follow instructions the same way a three year old would. And not talking might be an issue.

Daddy, when told about this, was beaming with pride.

Christopher continues with his interest in art. He has a set of crayons, colored pencils, and washable markers. He also has his own sketchbook. He never seems to get tired of them. His style is alternating scribbles with jabs. He's very deliberate about where he's going to draw. He'll point to a space on the page, get his crayon, and draw there. He also enjoys emptying his pencil case onto the floor and picking everything up again. And again.

He's added to his animal sound repertoire. In addition to cow, sheep, cat, frog, and lion, he can now do dog. He also does rabbit, but it's identical to frog. He also understands about chickens, but seems not to want to make the noise. Instead, he'll put his hands in his armpits and flap his elbows. We saw a picture of a mouse in a book, and I asked him what sound a mouse makes. He is silent, but does the arm flapping thing. It seems there is something going on between chickens and mice that only he is aware of. He also resists oinking, and doesn't want to quack, but will say "DA!" when he sees a duck.

We've been letting him have some say over what he wears most days, giving him a choice between 2 to 4 shirts, shorts or long trousers, or which sleeper. I've even let him pick his nappy cover from time to time (jungle animals, fish, or mice). He's usually happy for the chance to express himself, but doesn't get upset if we just dress him. He likes to go through his drawers.

He's got a few pairs of shoes. He always gets good comments on his trainers/sneakers, but lately he favors the red wellies (rubber boots) grandad bought him. They are a bit too big still, which means he can pull them on himself. Sometimes he gets them on the wrong feet, but more often he gets it right. He'll put them on to show us he wants to go outside. He just loves to go outside.

The other day we were outside, and he got his hands into some slop clay waiting to be reclaimed. He didn't like being goopy, so I called him over to the hose and sprayed his hands. I think he would never have asked me to stop. When he was clean, he tried to trigger the hose himself, turning the tap on and off and trying to push the trigger. We hosed him off more later on, just for fun.

He wants to be clean a lot more than he used to. He asks to have his hands cleaned, and will try to clean his own face with tissues. He even tries to blow his nose. He's been asking to have his nappy changed at times he used to not want it. He used to want to wait a while when he got up in the morning, but now he's very clear on his desire to be dry right away. He'll approach a parent and tug on his trousers to let us know he's wet and needs help. He sits on the potty every night before bed, and appears to be trying to use it, but still without success. He often follows me to the bathroom and has taken to retrieving the toilet paper from the shelf for me, or pointing to it emphatically if we're out at a public toilet. He's very interested in what Dave does in the smallest room as well, and has been known to observe Dave, then run to sit on his own potty. Flushing is a big thrill on the big potty, and he's started offering to do it for his parents. I always thought these English siphon toilets would be really hard for kids to do, but he does it.

7 July 2003
We've had a very busy half week or so.

Thursday we dropped Daddy off at the train station bright and early in the morning so he could attend a day at Wimbledon. We spent the rest of the day doing coloring, flashcards, and housework before going to the village hall for our usual run around. After a bite to eat, we went to the college to help break down the exhibition. He stayed in his pushchair, but enjoyed the attentions of our friend Moragh when I wasn't able to be right there with him. We returned home for bedtime, and I explained to him that I would be waking him up in a few hours and getting him out of bed to go get Daddy at the train station, and then we'd come home and he could go back to sleep. When the time came, he was very calm and took the whole thing in stride. He was very interested in the lights at the train station, and listened while I explained to him what they were all for. Back home and into bed with not a single whimper for the whole trip. I think he needs to be kept in the loop. Some friends came over a few weeks ago, and I hadn't told him in advance, and he was very crabby and cried the whole time they were over. Live and learn. Keep the boy informed.

Friday we did lame-o swimming, but he had a great time and did a lot of practicing of his skills. At night some friends came by and set a tent up in our garden. He stayed up past his bedtime to meet them so he wouldn't be afraid if he heard the sorts of noises they make. He enjoyed jumping up on the couch next to them and giving them meaningful looks.

Dave tells me that the two friends, Christopher, and Dave went outside to play frisbee while I was cooking. The adults threw the frisbee among themselves, but occasionally Dave threw it to land in front of Christopher. He'd pick it up and take it to the man visitor every time, at least until they changed positions, then he varied who he returned it to.

The next morning several more people came over in order to car-share into town for our annual punting trip. As it happened, he didn't get a noon nap because of all the excitement, so when we arrived at the punt yard, he was dead tired, and then placed into unfamiliar surroundings. In a life jacket and in a boat, he decided he wanted DADDY to hold him, but Daddy was pushing the boat. He cried and cried, too tired to sleep, all the way up the river. Once at the picnic site, I thought he might have a nap in his pushchair, but he decided he would rather run around in the cow field. Dave made sure he avoided stepping in cow pats, and supervised him as he climbed into the boat, successfully got himself from one boat to the next with no help, and leaned way over to touch the numbers and letters painted on the sides of the punts. Dave told him what the names of the numbers and letters were. I had a little rest (crying babies can be exhausting) before we got back in the punts for the return trip. He slept on the way back, but that's okay because another baby on the trip took over crying duties from him.

He clearly recognises ducks, and loudly shouted out "DA!" to each one he saw on the entire trip. The ducks were not impressed, but I was.

Back at the house, some adults prepared to grill food while others erected a gazebo. Christopher ran around the garden and had some yogurts with assistance from Dave. He stayed up well past his bedtime because he was having so much fun with all the people, but went to sleep when we decided it was time, and didn't complain about it.

The next morning a whole other set of friends came over to do raku firing with me. Dave was designated parent for the day. They played with the ball pit, played in the garden, and observed the pottery happenings with interest. Christopher especially liked the part where pottery was being hosed off, and Moragh took the time to spray his hands and his wellies.

8 July 2003
Tuesday once again meant two sessions of swimming. In the morning, Christopher's swimming teacher asked me to bring him to the pool on Sunday because they're filming babies swimming under water, and she wanted him to be in it. She was not asking everyone in the class. I'm such a proud mother. It's probably just a training video, but I'll ask them for a copy if he's going to appear in it a second time. If nothing else, we get a free swimming session and the pleasure of knowing his teacher thinks he's doing a good job.

We took Moragh up on her offer of entertainment and tea after class. She has three young boys, but they're all school age. This means they have every cool toy (climbing frame with slide, sand pit, train tracks, etc.) for Christopher to play with, but no competition for the resources because they were in school. We had lunch and played and chatted for several hours before heading out to the afternoon swim. He fell asleep the instant he was put in his car seat, and didn't want to wake up again when we got to our destination. He even fell asleep standing up with head and elbows on the bench in the dressing cubicle.

Of course once he saw the pool he was golden again. He made my heart skip a few beats by walking away from me as I sat on the edge of the pool, and leaning over to pick up a toy floating several inches out in the water. I could have got to him in a second if he'd fallen in, but he didn't. Whew! He did nearly all the things he was asked to do in the water, but still not blowing objects across the surface of the water. We worked on it for a while, and he eventually started to blow a little, but didn't really blow the toy away. Face it, his prime objective is usually to GET the toy. This blowing them away from him business is contrary to his nature. At one point I got him to push the toy away with his hand, then told him to do it by using his mouth to blow instead of his hands. The immediate result was that he grabbed the toy in his hand and put it in his mouth, leaving it there for a good long time. No one can say he isn't trying to comply.

11 July 2003
Today's swimming had a substitute teacher. She was impressed with Christopher's swimming, of course! One of the things another teacher emphasizes is looking down into the water. Christopher has this mastered now. Today's teacher gave him a ring to hold. It's the kind with a weight on it so it sinks but stays on end when it hits the bottom. He dropped it and decided he wanted it back, so he hooked it with his foot and lifted it to his hand. Yay! He also did a lot of impressive jumps into the pool from standing on the side. It didn't take this new teacher long to start giving instructions to the class, then saying Christopher didn't have to do it because he'd already demonstrated it for her. During free swim time, I had fun swimming under him, and using him as a kickboard as I pushed off the side. He seemed to really enjoy taking the wave in his face.

His Tuesday morning instructor said she'd like to see him some goggles soon, so today I wore goggles in the pool. He pointed and laughed, but I hope he starts getting the idea that goggles are normal, and doesn't fight them too much when they're introduced. First I have to find a pair in his size. No one said being a swim mum was going to be easy!

Yesterday we did the village hall thing again. I knew we would be there before the other children, so I took along his crayons and a sketch book for him. He sat quietly drawing on as many pages as he could. The drawing things disappeared into my bag when the other kids arrived, and they all had fun running around and screaming a bit. The Vicar's wife was there, and spent some time on the floor with him among the provided toys. I went to check on them after a while, and she wanted to know how old he is, and pronounced him advanced. He built wooden block towers, and made the correct sounds for all the animals in the animal puzzle. She said he wasn't too sure about the bird, but she herself couldn't tell whether it was meant to be a cockerel or a turkey, so she let him off on that one. I don't know if he knows those sounds anyway, even if he had been able to tell. Sometimes he flaps his wings for chicken, and I did hear something like crowing once.

In other animal sound news, he now does owls too. He barks whenever he sees a dog and meows at cats. The village is having an event with pony rides in a few weeks, so we might go and introduce him to a few live animals then.

12 July 2003
Today we went to a farewell party for the family of a baby Christopher has played with since he was quite young. Jasper and parents are off to Oz in a week or so. The party was held in the garden of a pub, a very nice pub where cigarettes and mobile phones are banned. They have a Wendy house in the back, so Christopher and several other children spent ages opening and closing the windows and door. He also enjoyed meeting a rabbit, and attempted to speak to it in its native tongue. Christopher believes rabbits (and frogs) say (a very throaty) "brep!" The rabbit was not impressed. At some point he noticed that the picnic tables had numbers on them, and spent quite a bit of time and energy climbing from table to table investigating the number on each one.

When we got home, he wasn't quite ready for his nap, so he headed to the bathroom. There he got the dog's water dish, which holds nearly a gallon of water, and carried it from bathroom to hall emptying it on the floor. Then he lifted the lid of the toilet, installed the water dish, and flushed repeatedly. Dave and I did paper scissors rock to see who would go investigate the odd sounds (which turned out to be me), but I had to call him in to appreciate what Christopher had gotten into. I did the cleaning up, and Dave took him to his playpen for nap time.

After nap time was over (and I don't think any sleeping went on), the wee laddie was freed to play as he saw fit. Mostly he was confined to the lounge with one parent or the other, but at some point he gained access to the house at large again. Can we be taught? Maybe not. The instant he wasn't directly in one of our gazes, the ominous sound of flushing came from the bathroom. This time the contents was a cloth nappy and cover. Toilet locks have been ordered, along with oven and video locks, and anti-door-slamming devices.

Christopher is a big fan of bubbles. I have a bubble gun, but sometimes we also use the regular bubble wand. He's totally fascinated, and has been demanding to be allowed to try blowing them himself. Unfortunately, the toddler interpretation of this is to dip the wand in the bubble solution, raise it to his lips, insert it horizontally between his lips, and blow. He never complains about the taste, and gets a lot of small bubbles running down his chin, but so far no airborne ones. We'll work on it some more.

13 July 2003
Today Christopher turned 22 months old. We celebrated by going to the underwater filming at the baby pool. I was pleased to see that only 12-15 babies were asked to participate. Given that they have 6-8 classes with 10 babies each, one each of several different days, this is a big compliment. He was probably one of at least 200 potential baby participants.

We arrived at the pool a little bit early in case someone had time to answer a few questions for us. We determined that we would have a chance to get a copy of the video, but didn't clarify whether we would be paying for it or not. Probably we'll have to. Christopher had fallen asleep in the car, and had no interest in waking up for swimming, so we let him sleep on Dave's lap for a while, given how crowded the pool was. Unlike most of the lessons, a majority of the babies had two adults in the water with them rather than one. He eventually came around, and we changed our clothes, and joined the group in the pool. The crowding was pretty bad because filming was in the deep end, and everyone not in the shot was told to wait in the shallow end. Dave filmed us playing around in the crowd, and unlike the olden days, Christopher was very focussed on him. All we had to do to get him to cross the pool was put Dave on the other side of it.

Eventually we got called into shot because they were having babies who could swim staying afloat with woggles. All this time, nearly two years, I've been hearing the word "woggle" at swim lessons and have never been able to remember it when I got home to update. Those foam tubes/sausages are officially called woggles. No idea why that refused to go into my head for so long. Anyway, swimming on woggles was called for, and Christopher excels at that now that he's had his armband experience. Unfortunately, on that round he was very grumpy and pulled a big Frankenstein Monster face for the camera. It's part of the shy guy thing he's been experimenting with. Maybe his legs filmed underwater can be used.

I noticed the photographer focus in on Christopher when he decided to climb out of the pool on his own. The water line is a good eight inches lower than the side, but there is a bar a few inches over the water. So our boy's bum is immortalized.

He had a breakthrough moment when he actually got a woggle from the side of the pool and put it under his own arms to float. I did straighten it out for him so it would be safer, but wanting to float on a woggle and setting out to arrange it for himself are new things.

Later on we did the woggle swim again, and he was the only baby (including much older ones) who managed to swim on his own using one. I got him into frame, but then he did all his own steering and kicking. He was in a good mood that time. We did a few kickboard shots, and a few other tricks I probably won't remember until Dave processes the video he took. They lined up about eight of us, but as babies started crying, they had to take them out. It was hard to keep him on his board for all those delays. I had to let him off then put him back on again, telling him this was it many times before it really was it. In the end, only four of us did kickboards.

They decided to take the little babies out (which included Christopher) and do some work with two bigger kids -- 3 or 4 years old and able to follow instructions better. We were supposed to go to the side and monkey walk to the ladder and climb out, something he normally does of his own free will half a dozen times during each lesson, but today all the kids were resisting doing that. Waiting to get out, I popped under water with him, which prompted the teacher to command the photographer to get that. So we did it a few more times. Then everyone else did it a few more times. One woman put her baby on her back and swam to the bottom of the pool like a dolphin. I had my goggles on, so I popped under to watch it, and it was amazingly beautiful. Christopher can go on my back, but really doesn't like it as much as most things.

So we came home again, where he insisted on sitting on the big potty (we have a seat that fits on the big toilet now) several times. Big, big interest in all things potty, that boy, but still no production. We're going to have fireworks and confetti when he finally pees in there.

Oh yeah, backtracking to Friday, after swimming he was walking around the locker room in a state of undress. He got a tri-fold changing matt and put it on the floor, unfolded it, and laid himself down on it. I applied a clean nappy and helped him up, then he folded the matt again and put it back where he found it. And this from the boy who used to practically Mandrake the building down when I laid him on anything in that room for the first year and a bit of his life. He's growing up so fast, and in ways I never saw coming. What an adventure!

Here's a photo for you, taken in May 2003. Brushing

14 July 2003
Is "ewwwwwwwww" a word? If so, chalk up another word in his vocabulary. He's said it a few times when he gets something sticky on his hands, or rather, when he's finished playing with the sticky stuff and wants to be cleaned. Today he was trying to drink from my big cup, which was pretty full of ice and decaf tea. I turned to Dave and said I didn't think he was drinking because nothing was coming out the sides, then EVERYTHING came out the sides. Some of it hit me, much more of it hit Christopher. He took two little pinches of his shirt and held them out from his chest and said "EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!" We stripped it off him, and he was happy again.

A bit crabby several times through the day today, then REALLY crabby after the dinner he refused, we checked out his mouth, and sure enough, two fangies are trying to cut through his upper gums. We gave him some baby tylenol and baby orajel, and he was much calmer when he was put into bed.

15 July 2003
We had a trainee teacher for morning swimming. She didn't introduce anything new, but she's nice and remembers all the babies names. She tried to talk Christopher into waiting to jump into the pool when the Humpty Dumpty song told him to, but he was set on using his own jumping schedule. She seemed to recognize his individual path and backed off after one attempt.

After we were out of the pool and dressed again, we had a brief chat with his regular teacher while we put on shoes. She said she got some good footage of him on Sunday. I can't wait to see it! Christopher found my shoes among the huge piles left there by mummies leaving the pool, in the pool, and waiting to go into the pool, and brought them to me to put on. I was very impressed! I mean, my Birkies are not like anyone else's, but it's still pretty good that he would know I needed them and find them and bring them to me.

Amanda, the regular teacher, had been to my website, so I asked her if she'd discovered (through these update pages) that Christopher swims three times a week. She hadn't, but she said it certainly shows. She asked me a bit more about the other classes, but Christopher wanted to go, so he took my hand and tried to pull me out. To be fair, he did have a pretty good nap after we left. He knows what he needs, that boy.

When we got to afternoon swimming, the instructor there (Sarah) said she was impressed that we still do two lessons on Tuesdays. I guess she and Amanda had a talk.

During the lesson itself, Christopher became totally fixated with the toys on the bottom of the pool. They're there to encourage looking down into the water, but that was all he wanted to do. He climbed out onto the side and looked down, pointing from one to the other so many times that the teacher finally disappeared them. They came back out later when it was time to prove he could look down into the water. That, in addition to blowing a ball across the surface of the water was what it took for him to earn his DUCKLING 2 BADGE! Woo hoo! They've made arrangements to continue the lessons through August, which is great because I hate having him out of the water for that long. He loves it so much.

16 July 2003
Today Christopher was watching Dora the Explorer on television, and actively participating. He got close to the screen (normally discouraged, but...) and as Dora asked questions, he pointed to the answers. Dora and Boots had to plan their route through a corn field, with choices of paths and biting ants down the wrong ones. Christopher sized it up and quickly traced the correct (safe) route with his finger. Earlier, some program had a song, "L is for Lion." He roared through the whole thing.

He wanted unhealthy food today, but I thought he should eat something at least vaguely wholesome. I decided he was having oatmeal with some fruit puree in it. He decided he wasn't. Every time he got crabby and started asking for things to eat, I gave him the oatmeal. Every time he refused it. After several hours of this (on and off, not continuous), I stepped out of the room for a moment. When I got back, he'd climbed into his high chair, strapped himself in, and was eating the oatmeal. He took his time, but ate most of it. He had a pretty significant layer of it all over his body (he hadn't put on a bib as he sometimes does), so when he was done I took him outside and literally hosed him off. He ran squealing with delight, and I chased him. It's really hot, and the hose water was cold, so it probably gave him some relief as well.

7 August 2003
It's been a busy few weeks. I hope I can remember some of the good stories!

He's got three new teeth coming through all at the same time, but doesn't seem bothered by them. He only complained one night. He's getting both upper fangs and the lower right one.

In July Christopher got to spend the entire afternoon with a baby sitter while Dave and I went to London. She reported that everything went smoothly, but he was very clingy for a few days after that, crying if we left the room for a minute.

He got over that in time to get his measles vaccine. That was done privately on a Sunday, so he got to have both parents along. At first he was a little on edge, but soon relaxed and played with the toys provided. When we were finally called in to get the jab, he sat nicely on his father's lap while everything was explained. The nurse showed us the thermometer in the vaccine fridge, and pointed out that it was actually a fridge, not a cool box. Christopher was bored by watching me sign consent forms, and started playing with Dave's mobile phone. The woman came around and asked us to hold him still, so I held his knee while Dave held his hip, and he got jabbed. He'd finished crying almost before the needle was out of his leg again, and then spent a little time being fascinated by the stickers he was given. By contrast, the little girl at the other desk started screaming long before her vaccine was taken out of the fridge, and was still screaming when we left after waiting around in the play area for 10 minutes to be sure there were no reactions to the vaccine. It was probably longer than that because Christopher did not want to leave. They had some good toys, and he had playing to do.

Christopher maintains his love for Dora the Explorer (along with Kipper, Maisy, and Kevin from the British version of Blue's Clues), but lately has been demonstrating that he really understands what's going on. The cartoon girl, Dora has some quest every episode, and has to consult a map to find out where to go, get things from her backpack, figure things out, and ask the appropriate characters for help. She has to ask either in English or Spanish, depending on who she's talking to. When she needs something done, she asks the children at home to say things with her. Map, backpack, and so on. Christopher now says "backpack" at the correct times. It sounds like Ba-bap, but he says it every time, and he means it. He also points to things on the TV screen that Dora needs to find (and some of them are pretty well hidden). One time the cartoon sidekick monkey, Boots, asked if they had enough bananas for everyone, and Christopher shook his head emphatically NO.

When watching Blue's Clues, he always spots the clue and touches it on the screen. Here again, he demonstrates that he understands what's being said.

He got to spend a day at the house with Grandad while I was otherwise detained, and they seem to have gotten along well. He was reported to have eaten well that day, and cooperated in every way. When he was first told that Grandad was coming, he got all excited and kept checking the door.

The next day, Dave returned from his business trip and brought a present. He'd found a backpack in a Canadian store that was just like Dora's. Christopher will go get it if you ask him where his backpack is, and understands that the word applies to both the one Dora has on the telly and the one he has in the house. Dora is not merchandised here the way she is in North America, so this is a real treat.

I bought him several packs of flash cards a while back, and he loves them. He asks to have them brought out often, and really likes going through them. Lately he's taken fascination with two particular cards from one pack, a blue car and a red bus. Most of the other shapes and colors are represented by food or toys, but the automotive ones seem to be his favorites. He makes train sounds when he looks at them, which he will do for prolonged periods.

He's curious about letters, but he's getting good at numbers. A lot of the time you can ask him to touch a particular number, and he gets it right. Not always, but I'm pleased with his abilities at this age. If he's still getting 4 wrong when he's seven, I'll start being concerned. We'll start practicing the alphabet soon, but at the pace he sets.

Christopher got to go to the doctor with me a few times, and was very good each time. At a hospital appointment, I decided to put him in the creche they have there, and he loved it. He didn't want to leave because they had all the coolest toys. When I went to pick him up, he took me around and showed me the ones he liked best.

Several days later at the local doctor, I decided he was big enough to go on foot rather than push chair. He got to pick out the toys he wanted to play with himself while we waited, and got along well with the other children. When it was time to go into the doctor's office, he sat quietly on the chair until it was time to go again. The doctor was impressed with how good he was, and so was I. I'm glad I trusted my instincts and gave him a chance to succeed and get praised.

It's been very hot, and most of his swimming sessions have been suspended until September, so we set up the paddling pool in the back garden. He noticed that there are starfish printed on it, and spends a lot of time pointing at them through the water. He's also good at doing his homework, and practices his floating, splashing, and kicking.

He still has one swimming class on Tuesday afternoons, and this week Dave took him. I went along and took pictures. It was great fun because Dave hadn't been in the water with him for a very long time, and got to see just how far he's come lately. He's been fixating on the starfish the teacher puts on the bottom of the pool for a few weeks now, so Dave used it to get him to swim some pretty significant distances. There are a lot of photos of the event up if you're interested in seeing what they got up to.

With the exception of "ba-bap," he still is not talking. He communicates very clearly without words, and not speaking seems to be a choice. He points and grunts, he moves adult hands around, he pulls Dave (on his swivel chair) around to face him, he puts his arms up to be lifted, he goes to the refrigerator and taps it until we open it, then points to the milk when he wants milk. It's amazing, but there is really hardly ever any doubt about what he wants or is thinking. The point and "ungh" works for him.

He still enjoys making his animal sounds, but we've added a new one. After asking him what a sheep says, what a bee says, what a snake says, what a lion says, what a chicken says, etc., I started asking him what Christopher says. He gets a very self-amused smile, points off randomly into the distance, and says "ungh!" And he's right, that IS what he says!

He may not have much to say, but he understands a lot. Tonight when Dave got home, Christopher decided what they were going to do. First he brought his wellies over and got Dave to help him put them on. That meant he intended to take Daddy outside. Then he went and got Dave's shoes and tried to help him put them on. He pulled Dave to the door, then ran to the paddling pool. He walked around it a few times, and started to raise his foot, then walked around it a bit more. Dave asked him if he wanted his boots off, so he responded by walking over to Dave, steadying himself by holding onto Dave's shorts, and lifting his foot to have the boot removed. Then he lifted the other foot to have that boot removed too. He got into the pool and splashed around, and invented a game where he threw balls out of the pool and Dave threw them back in again.

I got him a small plastic drinking cup with animals on it so he could practice big boy drinking. He's had a lot of spills, but fortunately in this heat, it's only good if he can get wet and cool. We only give him water (sometimes with ice) so it's not too bad on the floors. He's very interested in this new skill, but still seems betrayed when it all pours down his front. He accepts help when he's very thirsty, and he responds to advice, such as "tilt your head back."

He's been responsive to nappy queries for a while now. You ask him if he needs a new nappy, and if he's open to the idea, he walks toward the room with the changing station. If he's not, he ignores the question. If the adult nose perceives a problem and he doesn't want a new nappy, that means he's sore and doesn't want it made worse. Recently, he's started responding to the question of whether he'd like to go to bed in the same manner. He does get tired, and quite often will willingly accept bedtime. Sometimes he goes through the bedtime ritual and gets put in bed, and then can be heard quietly playing or singing to himself for a while after. He does seem to be starting to enjoy a little private time to wind down at the end of the day.

The website with all the pictures of Christopher has been redone. It now lives at and includes pictures from February to August 2003 that were not on the previous site. Some of the large images (click on the thumbnails or select all the large pictures from the link at the top of each gallery page) now come with captions, with over 1,000 images it takes time to properly caption all of them.

8 August 2003
I forgot to mention the dancing. He breaks into dance when he hears music or even rhythmic speech or drumming. He plants his feet as far apart as he can, then bends his knees and rocks side to side, slightly lifting each foot in turn. He does turn to make sure someone is watching him, so he has a bit of the performance bug in him.

Christopher asked for the Thomas track to be opened, so I did, and we put it together. I made various wheeled things go around on it. He was fascinated. He took the whole thing apart and wanted me to put it back together three or four times, then settled down to play with his blocks on the floor. I looked up a few minutes later when he started applauding himself. He had managed to put the entire track back together himself, and he was very, very proud! So was I, and we had a little excitement party, during which he stepped inside and outside the track several times to honor its completeness.

9 August 2003
Christopher often has a little time to himself in the morning, and seems just fine with that. Today, however, he decided he wasn't going to wait for someone to come and give him a new nappy. He was wearing a onesie, but somehow managed to get the velcro open on both sides and slide his nappy out through one of the leg holes while leaving the snaps intact. Now THAT is an impressive new skill. One we will have to take safeguards against his repeating! It was a crappy nappy, and he managed not to get the mess on anything, so he does seem to be showing signs of potty training readiness. Almost.

12 August 2003
Today's swimming lesson was mostly ignored. When it was time to sit on the wall and jump in, he climbed out and played with toys. When it was time to push floating objects, he floated on his back. He did most of the things he was supposed to do at some point, but was quite insistent on his own schedule. I made him get into the circle for songs, but otherwise let him go. He doesn't need to learn to jump into the pool, he's already the master.

With about ten minutes to go, I was having no luck getting his arms forward, even though we've been practicing on dry land. Finally, I took off his arm bands and put him on a kick board. He didn't like that. He fought that. Evil mother that I am, I made him hold himself onto the kickboard and kick all the way to the side four or five feet away. I made him do it three times. He cried the whole time. I let him go get his armbands again, and we hugged in the water for a while.

After the lesson, I asked the teacher if she'd seen it. She had, and was impressed. She said he would be swimming on his own very soon. I told her he cried today, but next time, or some time in the near future, he would love it. That's what he does, he cries until he gets used to it, then it's a skill he takes pride in. She applauded me for making him do it. Lots of mothers wouldn't, she said. It's nice to have the validation and not feel like I'm pushing him too hard.

14 August 2003
Today Christopher saw a birthday cake on television, and tried to blow out the candles. I think he is just about ready to turn two.

Right before dinner time, Christopher was wandering around the house doing his mysterious little activities, when he suddenly appeared with a cookie in his hand. I'd baked off the last of the oatmeal chocolate chip cookie dough from a few weeks ago, and put the cookies on the counter so I could clean the pans. Turns out that he is now tall enough to get things from counter tops. As Dave and I discussed whether we ought to take it away from him or not, he disappeared again and returned with a second cookie in the other hand. For those who previously had doubts, please accept this as evidence that he really is my son.

19 August 2003
BUMP! Christopher got a goose-egg bump on his head this afternoon. We took him to the doctor, who smiled at our first-time parentness and sent us home again. A black eye is predicted for tomorrow. A Health Visitor is expected in the next few weeks to investigate us for child abuse. This is standard procedure when a kid has an accident and gets medical attention in the UK.

Dave came along to swimming today, and operated the camera while I swam with Christopher. We did lots of fun things, then I tried to get him to do the kickboard again, and he did, but then spent the rest of the lesson crying. I was commended for making him do it, but I think next week it will either be right at the end or not at all.

After we were dressed, I stopped to sign up for September-October sessions with the teacher. She said that he really is swimming now, despite his need for arm bands. He can go where he wants and do what he wants without help. We discussed which session he should be in, and I was assuming it would be the one for 2-3 year olds. She said in terms of skills, he could really leave the Duckling groups and join the Teddy Bears, who are 3 years and over. Those are not parent and child classes though, they are child only classes. Christopher might swim like a big fish, but he still needs Mummy or Daddy there if something goes wrong. She said we could think about Teddy Bears for him in January, but for now she'll do her best to keep him stimulated as a Duckling. She said she could either come up with a multi-level class where everyone is given an assignment and a choice of easy or hard, or she could come up with a separate curriculum for him, and I could just be in the water at the same time as the other kids. We decided to start with the first option, and keep the other in reserve if needed.

It's funny because when we had him, we were glad he was born in September rather than August because the school cut off age here is 1 September, and we thought it would go better for him to be the oldest in his class rather than the youngest. And here he is, jumping ahead in swimming so he'll be the youngest in his classes for a long time to come.

23 August 2003
He lucked out in the eye department, as in it didn't go black. There is still a slight lump on his forehead, which is a sickly yellow color.

After all the crying at Tuesday's swimming class, I thought it was better not to keep him out of water for very long, so we went to the Under Fives free swimming time at the same pool. I promised him it would all be just for fun. He did a lot of school things anyway, like rockets off the side and floating on his back. He developed a new trick, which is to lie back as if to float, but keep his head up, then kick his legs. He ended up going in circles, like a coffee grinder. He was smiling and laughing! He did catch sight of a kickboard once, and just shook his head no. I think I'll give him a little time off from them to come to terms with the idea. He also decided that jumping into the pool with armbands does not require parental supervision, and made a big show of walking several steps away from me to jump in on his own. When without his armbands, I still have my uses.

On Saturday I went to the local car boot sale (like a flea market in the US) to look for a few essentials. I came home with several board books and a tricycle! He seemed to know just what to do. He got on it and pushed along with his feet. At some point he even put his feet on the pedals and moved along about a metre of floor -- backwards. Later we took him outside, where he decided it would be much better if we refilled the pool. It's sprung a leak somewhere, so we need to track that down, but he'll probably be back in water tomorrow.

At bedtime tonight be decided to spend an extra long time sitting on the potty. He did some grunting and bearing down, but still no wee wee. We said he did good trying. While we were waiting, I sneezed a few times. He thought it was pretty funny, and mimicked my sneezes with exaggerated head and hand motions and sneeze sounds. He copies a lot of sounds though, so I shouldn't be surprised. He's been known to say "iccchhhh" when we throw something yucky away. He starts quacking when I have to say "GAH!" in traffic.

He's been enjoying dancing a lot lately. He dances faster for faster music and slower for slower music. I got him a cassette tape of kid songs that have motions, and was amazed that he made big circles in the air when the Wheels on The Bus went round and round. He also beep-beep-beeped his own nose. He declined to swish though. He's starting to add bum wiggles and hand motions to his mostly foot-oriented style.

Last weekend we went to Potters Camp, where he had a good time showing off. We met some of the new people and said hello to the ones we already knew. People remarked on the largeness of Christopher compared to last year. One person told him he'd been very good last year, but this year, being almost two, she expected he would have some tantrums. Nope!

Christopher spent some time drawing in his sketch book, and did what I understand to be his first representational drawings ever. If he's done some before, he didn't tell me about it. He drew one and then looked at it and me and did his fish impression. He drew another and did the noise and gesture we'd given him for "rocket." Later, the did another one with the fish impression. Not bad for 23 months! Near the end he lured an unsuspecting potter over and handed her a crayon, insisting that she draw something for him. She did some stick people and clouds and flowers. He refused to draw any more, but kept pointing to places where SHE should draw. I think he's learning something from seeing other people do it.

Off to bed, and trying out the new camp beds and sleeping bags. We were on a slight hill, so Christopher and I kept sliding down to the bottoms of our cots. Christopher did NOT like the idea of camping, and had given Dave a lot of grief while I was inside making faces. He decided the only acceptable sleeping spot was on top of Dave. That works a lot better on an airbed than it does on camp beds. He hated his sleeping bag. He hated the tent. He hated everything. When I came in, he crawled for me, crossing his bed and mine, but seemed to wake up when I touched him. He started screaming. We cuddled him until he passed out, and managed to get him to sleep some of the night on his cot on top of his sleeping bag.

In the morning, the dedicated salt and soda organizers got up and started their kilns some time between 5 and 6 o'clock. Nearer to 6, the neighbor's dog started running among the tents to investigate, and decided to come into ours. That woke up the baby, who had a good scream about it, and woke up everyone in tents, and even in the house. Jerry called down from the upstairs window "REBECCA! GO HOME!" And that was the start of day two.

Christopher was all wet from a nappy that opened itself during the night, so I got up and got him clean and dry, and took him inside to have some food and drink while Dave got a little rest. Inside, Christopher spent a little more time with his sketch book, redecorating the stick people someone drew for him the night before, and doing some fresh drawings of his own. Victor commented that his round shapes were a developmental milestone, and that his four year old grandson was having trouble with them.

When he got tired of drawing, he spent a good deal of time quietly arranging Cheerios on the table. The assembled potters pronounced him artistic already, and tried to figure out if he was doing any sort of color groupings or patterns, or just making lines. His lines were not parallel, but arranged at jaunty angles to one another.

Dave spent a lot of the day looking after him while I did other things, including making a giant pot of soup for the communal meal that evening. He was crabby during dinner, but it turned out to be a very nasty case of nappy rash causing it. I took him to the tent to get cleaned and changed into his sleeping clothes, which included a few extra layers, given his hatred of his sleeping bag and the coolness of the evening. When we got back to the meal, he snuggled up on Dave's lap and accepted compliments for his work in his sketch book. Various younger potters said they liked the idea and were going to get their kids sketchbooks when they had them. When he got bored of that, he took up the task of standing all his jumbo crayons on end. They kept falling over, but he very patiently worked on the problem until they were all standing in a line. More people pronounced him artistic.

When bedtime finally came, he was a lot less fussy and by the time I came in from my late night potting conversations, Dave had him asleep in his own sleeping bag.

On Sunday he generally bounced around enjoying the group, and had a go at trying to learn to drive my car. In the early evening when the last kiln was being unpacked, some young girls turned up, and he had a good time chasing the younger one around. She was not entirely impressed with being pursued, but managed to chase him back a bit anyway. He slept most of the way home, and then continued to sleep soundly all night once put into his bed.

In other news, he's taken to enjoying his quiet time in bed before sleeping. He grumbles a little some nights, but usually he just accepts that bed is bed, and he's in it for the night. He sings and plays with his toys, and practices the various sounds he's heard during the day. Careful peeking in can sometimes show him to be playing with his feet on the bars, and trying out all sorts of interesting positions in the crib. In the morning, too, he can be heard playing and singing quietly until he senses that there is someone who will get him out of there. Then he starts objecting.

3 October 2003
Tonight Dave came home from work and collapsed on the couch. Christopher wanted to put something in his hand, but coma-Dave was not playing. Christopher, who was tired and crabby himself, started whining and crying -- on the fast road to a meltdown. When he's like that, it's almost impossible to get him to listen, but I tried anyway. "Christopher, I understand you're very frustrated, but that's not a very nice sound. Can you find a nice way to ask Daddy for his hand?" He looked at me for a moment, then started snuggling up to his father all sweet and cute. Dave gave him his hand.

Woo hoo!

19 November 2003 -- By Dave
While we were in Austin we picked up some more feathers for the cat toy. This is basically a set of feathers on the end of a piece of string attached to the end of a pole. Sweeping it around makes the feathers move and the cat will pounce.

I was playing with Spider who was attacking the feathers in a cat-like manner. Kit came up and disturbed the game and Spider wandered away. Then he wandered back into the room and laid down. I gave Kit the end of the pole and he had a creditable attempt at waving the feathers in front of the cat. When there was no response he ended up holding the feathers in one hand, picking up the cat's paw in the other and trying to shove the feathers under the paw. Spider, to his credit, sat there and let him do it. Sometimes the video camera is just too far away.

22 December 2003
El nino has been having a wonderful time of late learning things like numbers and letters. He was transfixed by the Sesame Street DVDs on the subjects, but was restless when I tried to do some alphabet with him today. I wrote letters in his sketchbook and he furiously scribbled them out. We came into the computer room and fired up, which has some lovely games for 2 year olds, in case you never knew. When Face knew the very same set of letters in the very same order as Mummy, suddenly it started clicking. Mummy was NOT making this up to be cruel. This is some secret code he needs to learn. As in he thinks he needs to learn it now, not just Mummy thinks he needs to learn it. He's not expert at mouse moving yet, and clicks tend to happen not at all or 30 in a row, but he likes to point to the screen and make choices and have me click on them for him. Today's winners seem to be the letter K and the letter Z. He's always been a big fan of S.

The learning process seems to involve a lot of saliva. There are little wet fingerprints all over my monitor, and drips of drool in front of the keyboard.
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since 9 March 2004