Sunday, November 30, 2008

Inspector Gurglet

Lately, a lot of people I know have been having babies - mostly because the 10 or so other pregnant women I work with have all recently started to pop themselves. And since I create and send out the monthly electronic newsletter for my company's corporate services team, I get early dibs on seeing the photos of most of these new arrivals.

However, what it's really made me realize is just how quickly time goes by with a baby. I look at little Austin and can't help but think how cute and little he is. But, then when I see how much littler the newborns are in the pictures coming through my work email, Austin suddenly looks so much bigger (and he is, of course).

Yes, Austin is now just past 4 months old... although sometimes it still feels like he just joined us. And at just 4 months old, the changes we see in him are impressive.

They say you shouldn't compare your kids... but when they're this close in age, it's impossible not to. I'm not talking about debating if one is better than or smarter the other - there would be no winner since they're both our little angels and both so incredibly unique from each other... but looking at how differently they interact with the world as they age.

One of the biggest differences that I've noticed with Austin, from when Tyler was this little, is his attention to detail in the world around him. I guess you could say that Tyler's more a big-picture guy.... but Austin's more about the many little pieces making up that big picture.

When Tyler was a 4-month old, as much as tried to entice him, little toys and stuffed animals never really held his interest for long. And now, even though we tuck him in each night by putting a baby blanket in one of his arms and a stuffed monkey in the other, Tyler still could probably care less if one of those was missing for whatever reason.

Austin, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. He's already found himself a "lovey". It's a cute little ladybug his grandmom gave him, which we appropriately just call "Ladybug". Austin doesn't just grasp Ladybug. He fiddles with Ladybug, snuggles Ladybug to his face, sucks on her nose, and gnaws on her antenna (unfortunately, gnawing on Ladybug's antenna is also something Max likes to do... which means that we're actually already onto Ladybug #2, with Ladybug #3 hidden away in a safe place in case of another antenna emergency).

But, it doesn't end with Ladybug. Austin also now pays very close attention to other things around him - tags on someone's shirt sleeve, designs on a T-shirt, a bib around his neck... He loves to tinker with stuff, move it around with his hands, investigate how it feels and how it moves. When holding a different toy the other day, a stuffed dog, he spent about 5 minutes just twiddling and focusing on the toys little ears.

Now, that's not to say that Tyler was never interested in these kind of things... just that I don't have a big recollection of him doing these sorts of investigations.

Difference #2 has to do with baby noises. Tyler loved to babble and laugh as a baby. He still does, in fact. Austin, on the other hand, has been more of a cryer until recently. Now, he too loves to laugh. But, a key thing we've noticed about Austin is the bevy of "baby noises" he actually makes. They say babies coo, gurgle, etc... we never noticed it with Tyler. But Austin really does coo and gurgle. He's also the inspiration for our "I wanna be a baby dinosaur" song - because, yes, he actually sounds exactly as you would imagine a baby dinosaur would sound. He just makes the absolute cutest baby noises you've ever heard! Tyler, on the other hand, seemed to have passed the baby noises pretty quickly, and if you've seen his very first YouTube video, you can see he moved right into giving full speeches in babble.

And the third main difference we've noticed centers around food. Tyler likes his food - especially anything sweet. In fact, for a toddler, he had a very hearty breakfast this morning of 2 sesame street cereal bars, a handful of teddy grahams, a banana, and one Pillsbury Cinnamon bun. (Okay - not the healthiest, I admit - but it was mommy's day to get up with the pipsqueaks and after battling a fun stomach bug for the past week, she was in no mood to put forth the effort needed to make egg and cheese burritos as she had originally been planning). But, as a baby starting on baby food, it took Tyler a little while to get started. His first feeding had him covered in sweet potatoes because he just couldn't get the concept of the spoon needing to make it in his mouth.

Austin, however, seems to have that part down pat. In trying to give him sweet potatoes for his first foray into baby food, and applesauce on his second, Austin showed that he not only understood the concept, but he was going to help you out by lunging for the spoon to get it in his mouth even faster. Unfortunately, this approach also leads to the ending of a baby whose face is covered in baby food. But, needless to say, he's big on the idea of moving beyond just bottled fluids. And if you had any doubts, the crying you hear when all the baby food is gone should help convince you otherwise.

So, those are the latest updates on how Austin's been changing... but here's a brief snippet into Tyler.

Tyler's now moved on to trying to feed the dogs, much as we feed Austin. The other day, he was caught red-handed trying to feed Loki water from his sippy cup after having laid a burp cloth across Loki's back. Interesting image... I was really sorry I didn't have my camera handy for that one - but by the time i grabbed the camera, Tyler had moved on.

He's also gotten more concerned about helping out his little brother. Upon hearing Austin cryig upstairs one day, Tyler went to Austin's swing, took out his brother's binky, and carried it all the way upstairs to his brother without putting it in his own mouth! Isn't he such a sweetie??

Anyway, that's all the news we have to share today. It feels like I've been typing forever, so I guess it's a pretty long post as well. So, if you're still reading, then thanks! And hopefully, we'll have more stories to share soon. I intended to add a bunch of pictures to this post too, but just realized how late it is - and since I have a really long work day ahead of me tomorrow, it looks like the pictures will have to wait... Maybe I can get them up later this week...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Monkey see, monkey do...

I've recently realized just how different raising a puppy is from raising a baby.

Okay... before you start to question my sanity... of course I realize that they really are nothing alike - after all, one is a furry animal, and the other is human.

But, being that my only past frame of reference in raising something to become a "grown-up" was raising Max to become a bigger furry animal, a few things have caught me a little off-guard in the department of raising little humans.

Most notably, they observe and actually learn things even when you aren't trying to teach it to them.

Max knows a lot of stuff for a dog. He is great at letting me know very clearly when he needs more water. He knows when we've spotted a bug, and promptly runs for cover. He can even open doors with the right kind of doorknob (although he doesn't really care to close them.) But, what Max doesn't do is continue to learn once he's done figuring out the minimum that he needs to get what he wants. Once he's done, he turns himself off and putters away.

Tyler, on the other hand, doesn't do that. Even when you think he's tuned you out and is off in his own little world, he is secretly still absorbing information from his surroundings. In other words, you have to always be on guard with a baby around, unlike with a puppy.

Here are some recent examples of things Tyler has learned to do on his own through this silent observation:
  • Give hugs... and lots of them... to everyone. Today, his daycare teacher asked us if he hugs his brother a lot at home. After we responded that he does and that he also likes to hug the dogs a lot whether they enjoy it or not (they typically don't) - she commented that he often chases his friends around in school to hug them too all the time. Apparently, this might not be a good thing (or at least that's kind of the impression I took away from the brief conversation.)
  • Respond "Uh-Oh" when Austin starts to cry. This one, I'll have to admit, Tyler picked up pretty quickly from his parents. Funny kid.
  • Hold Austin's bottle for him. Sometimes, he squishes it with a little too much pressure into his brother's face, but Tyler definitely has a new sense of joy from helping to feed his little sibling.
  • Feed Snookies to the dogs. Unfortunately, however, he hasn't learned to stop at giving them each just one. The dogs love this. We don't.
  • Brush his hair with daddy's brush, using a water spray bottle to help wet it down. Too bad his aim is off though, and he usually just ends up with a wet face and hair that really doesn't look much different than when he began.
  • Fill a cup from the fridge water dispenser. Fortunately for us, although he seems to understand the process, he doesn't use enough pressure to actually make the water come out.
  • Use a revolving door. The tricky part is getting him to stop revolving with the door and exit from it.
  • Properly use a phone. Or at least a play phone. Now, unlike before when he would just press buttons, he holds his play phone up to his ear as if he's having a real conversation!
The funny part is that you don't know when or how he learns some of these things... and there's not really much going on to indicate he's even paying attention - until one day you just happen to catch him doing something new. Something you know he had to have learned just by watching you. Scary.

So, that's Tyler... but what about Austin? Well, he's turned a bit of a corner. The daycare people now talk about what a joy he is - what a happy baby he's become! Astonishing!

Sure, he still has his moments on occasion, but for the most part, he's been a pretty content little guy. He still loves to have people sing to him and dance with him. His favorite song is most definitely the "Stinky Stinky Baby" song (although the Chicken Dance is quickly gaining steam). And, he loves his bumbo seat - for which we've learned giving him a bib is a lifesaver since the bumbo seems to make him extra drooly.

Austin's also really anxious to grow up. They say the second baby develops quicker when it comes to some of the major milestones, but with Austin, you can really see it. He is determined to sit up on his own - and gets really frustrated when he can't do it. He's also incredibly close to crawling - something that took Tyler a really long time to master.

While it's cool to see Austin picking up on all these things so quickly, it's also kind of scary and sad. Not because "he's growing up so fast" (although that in itself is a little depressing), but more so because it means that soon we'll have to chase two of these little beings around the house instead of just the one. And that's a truly frightening thought!

Monday, November 3, 2008

What I think I hear you saying is...

Well, really, with Austin, we haven't got a clue what he's saying. But now that he's finally found his voice, we're one step closer to something!

About a week ago, a faint babble from across the room let us know that Austin has finally decided he has some things to say, and is more than determined to say them.

He also laughs a lot more now too - especially if you sing to him. Austin seems to have a real ear for music. His favorite songs right now are "Stinky Stinky Baby" and "I Wanna Be a Baby Dinosaur".

Just in case you'd like to sing these tunes to your own brood, I've included the words below...

Stinky Stinky Baby
Stinky stinky baby
Stinky stinky boy
Stinky stinky Austin
Makes a lot of noise
... and poo.

I Wanna Be a Baby Dinosaur
I wanna be a baby dinosaur
I wanna roam and stomp and ROAR
I wanna be a baby dinosaur

Truth is, neither is really a real song. Just a bunch of words we put to catchy little melodies. But, Austin doesn't care one bit. He's an equal-opportunity laugh-er.

I leave you now with some parting words from baby Austin...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The legend of the tiny chicken...

Legend has it, that if you open your door on Halloween to find a tiny, quiet chicken with big eyes staring up at you, you will suddenly find all your candy missing...

Actually, Tyler did quite well with his first Halloween working the street.

His busy day started with school. He was asked to bring his costume. So at 7:45am, if you happened to be in the lobby of the office building that houses his daycare, you would have caught a glimpse of a little chicken toddling down the corridor. By the time I arrived to take him back home for the evening festivities, he already had a pretty good start on building his candy collection (they must have gone trick or treating through the offices upstairs).

Once we got home and finished dinner, the chicken and monkey were prepped to hit the streets. The typical scenario at each house (at least at the beginning of the evening) was as follows:
  • Chicken walks up to the front porch, big plastic pumpkin tightly gripped in one hand.
  • As parent presses doorbell, chicken points at doorbell and grunts (wanting to press the doorbell himself - even though he's too short, and doesn't press it hard enough when lifted to its level)
  • Door opens, house occupant presents bowl of candy to chicken.
  • Chicken doesn't say a word... just looks at big bowl of candy until prodded to take a piece.
  • Chicken gingerly takes something from the bowl, places it in plastic pumpkin, then stands staring at stranger until directed away by parents to the next house.
Occasionally, the chicken would be stumped when told to take even more candy from the bowl!

Eventually, the chicken got a little braver. He didn't say a word to the people at the houses the entire evening, but he did try to walk into a couple homes. And at one place, he even tried to share the goodwill by taking a handful of his own candy to place into the candy-givers bowl.

However, for a little guy who didn't say a word all night, he came home with quite the bounty. Even Austin was offered candy along the way, but gracefully declined, as it wasn't in a liquid form.

Unfortunately, while Tyler came home loaded with candy, all his parents came home with were sore, tired bodies from carrying a monkey, a chicken, and a big plastic pumpkin-head throughout the neighborhood. (If you think the chicken walked the entire way himself, you are grossly mistaken... besides the fact, if he did, we would still be out there trying to make it to the rest of the houses!)

Overall though, my concern that Tyler "might not get it' were completely unfounded. In fact, he seemed to completely enjoy the fact that dressing up as a silly, poofy chicken got him so much of that good sugary stuff!