Until Next Time

I’ve been trying to find a time to write this post for a few weeks now. Somebody has been keeping me very busy : )

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It’s been a great 3 years writing Baby KERF, but I’m ready for a hiatus – until the next baby comes along!

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I’ve enjoyed writing about motherhood (even though I said I wasn’t going to!) and most of all I love having this blog as a digital baby book.

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When someone asks me a question about Mazen as a baby, I know where to look. Because of course my memory is all one big blur!

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I know many of you have written that you have gotten pregnant and ran here to read for the first time. I’m thankful that it’s been a good resource!

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Because of that, I’m leaving the archives up and running. Plus there might be a sequel in the coming years…

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While I’d like to write about our parenting adventures moving forward, I do believe there is an age where only cute photos should be shared and developmental details remain behind the scenes.

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For us, that age is 2.

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Our baby is a little boy now, and for the sake of his privacy, I’m ending my written story here.

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But of course you’ll continue to see snapshots on Instagram and KERF.

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Because of course he’s a huge part of my life! 

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And I can’t promise I won’t have a random post or two here and there. 

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I’m leaving the whole blog as it is for your reference and mine.

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I do hope that when we’re ready to get pregnant again that I’ll return to this space and will find the urge (and the time!) to document another pregnancy and the baby years, even if it’s a lot less detailed the second time through.

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Maybe someday I can turn the blog into one big printed baby book : )

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I can’t wait to show Mazen all of these photos and tell him about his first words someday.

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Thank you for all of your comments…

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…your tips

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….your advice

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…and your friendship.

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Looking back at these photos makes it seem so long ago. I really can barely remember him being so small!

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I had no idea then what Mazen would be like when he could walk, talk, jump and laugh.

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But when I do look back at these newborn shots, I can see the same personality, smiles and mischievous grins that I see now.

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Especially when he is asleep!

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Thank you all for sharing our journey!

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Until next time?!

37 weeks (6)

(And no that was not an ‘I’m pregnant” announcement. Ha. I know some of you were probably hoping that’s how the post would end! I’m still not convinced I could handle two kiddos yet : ) )

23 Months

Mazen turns 23 months old tomorrow.

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Can you believe he ever looked like this!? I can hardly remember those days!

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Yet his personality has stayed the same. Such a sneaky boy!

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And I can often see his spirit in the same facial expressions that he has made since birth. Like this one! That’s the face he makes right before he jumps on me!

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Can you tell I’m getting all sentimental that he’s about to turn 2!? When I was pregnant I used to be able to imagine myself the mom of a baby, but I couldn’t see myself as the mom of a little boy. I just didn’t know what it would be like! Now I am in the thick of it, and it gets more fun by the day.

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In recent weeks Mazen’s language has come to life. Before he would say a word at a time, but now he really puts emotion into full sentences.

He has started saying “Yeaaaaahhhh” when asked a question (instead of a simple “jes”) He sounds like he’s from Minnesota when he says it!

He says “bye-bye” to things all the time (trucks, cats, trees) and smacks a kiss into the air right after.

There is always lots of commentary about eating and drinking: “Mommy bite? Mommy taste? Mommy drinks coffee! Mommy eats oats! Mazen eats pancakes!”

And recently when I sneezed he said “Bwess you!” <—something KK taught him!

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On the fun front, we’ve had a great time playing tent in the mornings. After I get him out of his crib, we go into my room and I make the comforter a tent with my leg and he crawls in and out with Pumpkin the cat for about 10 minutes. It’s loads of fun!

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He has developed a fierce independence this month where he wants to buckle his car seat, climb into his high chair and do things his own way. Generally this is going fine with me – he’s pretty good at most things – but we do have battles from time to time.

Here he is looking all proud after climbing up into his car seat himself!

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Speaking of climbing, that’s new too. He hasn’t been much of a climber until now and all of a sudden he got the concept. He can climb up onto his high chair WITH the tray on and loves everything climbable at the playground. I wouldn’t let him stand at the top of a steep flight of stairs without me, but he’s getting better at stairs too. He goes up and down the stairs on our back porch all the time.

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On the food front things have gotten a little bit better. He still won’t touch berries of any kind! And he is finickier than ever about some foods, but he has also tried a lot more new things lately. Salmon was a food he hadn’t liked for a while and one day I offered him some and he called it “Pink bok bok” (aka pink chicken). He ate his portion and mine that day! He also devoured a can of sardines one day while I held my breath. He doesn’t have to eat blueberries if he likes sardines! The boy also loves ice cream like it’s his job.

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Naps are still going well. We had two THREE AND A HALF HOUR NAPS this month!! Dannnnng those were long! Most days it’s 2 to 2.5 hours, sometimes 3. A few times on our travel days he has skipped his nap completely and that has actually gone pretty well. I’m glad to know it’s a bit flexible now.

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However, bedtime has been a bit tricky lately. He started doing some more crying when we tried to leave the room along with a few middle-of-the-night wakeups with crying. After a few weeks of rushing in and talking to him, and trying different night light/door open techniques, we determined that nothing was actually wrong – he just wanted our attention and knew if he cried we would come. I talked to some friends and decided to do another round of sleep training. This meant that after lots of books, lots of rocking and singing and a drowsy toddler that when he got in his crib we left the room and stayed out. Guess what – it worked! He still doesn’t like it when we leave, but he settles down in about 2 minutes and talks to Elmo and Big Bird and then falls asleep. The nighttime crying has stopped too.

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Speaking of bedtime, M has started to actually sing songs! He knows the words to Twinkle Twinkle, Happy Birthday, Row Row Row Your Boat and the ABCs – and the tune to Jesu Joy of Mans Desiring! He sings with us at bedtime, and it’s very cute.

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We are having lots of fun trying new activities together – baking, coloring, playing trains. Karen took M to the fire station while I was in Hershey and as much as he LOVES fire trucks, he was too scared to climb up on the truck!

He looooves the ice cream cones she makes though!

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I have debated birthday party themes. His favorites are fire trucks, trains and dinosaurs. I think we’re going with a prehistoric theme and will be having one of these at the party!

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Tips For Toddlers At The Beach

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We had an absolute blast taking Mazen to the beach this year.

Our first visit to the beach was when he was just learning to crawl. That wasn’t very fun. 

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During our second visit he was just learning to walk. We had a little more fun, but he still didn’t really know how to play on the beach.

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This year he was 22 months and had a wonderful time!

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The first day he was quite scared of the ocean. He was content playing in the sand. But by day 2 he started to explore the surf and by the end of our week he was begging us to take him deeper into the water. "MO WAVES!"

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Here are five tips for taking a toddler to the beach!

1. Bring a baby pool. This was Caitlin’s genius move. She packed a blow-up baby pool that we were able to fill with water. When the toddlers were first timid about the water or when the grown-ups grew exhausted from jumping in the waves, the pool was a lifesaver to keep them happy. They alternated games of "swimming", throwing sand inside, dunking toys and cleaning hands.

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2. Purchase a few new sand toys. I bought the boys matching sand dump trucks that were a big hit! Matching because then there would be no bickering and sand trucks because the wheels were big and there were no creases for sand to collect. Moreover, they were designed to be completely rinsed off when the day was over. They had lots of fun scooping sand into the back.

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3. This beach bag. I can’t say enough good things about it!! The outside pockets are amazzzzing for sunscreen, diapers, snacks, etc, and the mesh material was awesome for sand, sticky, etc. It can all be rinsed off! I’ve never had a beach bag that I even liked, so to find one that I love makes me really happy.

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4. Shade. Thanks to Caitlin for their great tailgate tent. We were planning to buy one this year but put it off since they already had one. I can’t go to the beach in the summer without shade, and it was so nice to have a full-size tent rather than just an umbrella. I know little pop-up tents are popular for babies, but I hated the one I bought second hand last year – I couldn’t fit inside and it was hot! A big open air tent like this is way more practical for a day at the beach. And necessary if it’s a scorcher and you plan on staying out a while.

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5. Baby sunglasses, a hat, a rash guard or just lots of sun screen. Whatever your toddler will tolerate! My child wears sunglasses like it’s his job, but he refuses a hat. Caitlin’s son doesn’t mind a hat, but tears sunglasses off. I’ve heard these sunglasses are great for babies (and the company will replace them if they break like our GAP ones did a few months in!) I love this company for rash guards and hats too. If you can cover up as much as you can with fabric, putting on sunscreen gets a little easier.

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What are your best baby beach tips?

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22 Months

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Lots of 2s…..getting soooo close to 2!!! Just 2 2 go!

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My sweet baby boy is so talkative these days and is starting to make me laugh out loud on an hourly basis. Recently before naptime he said “Ni-night Mazen!” “Yes” and “no” are now words he has mastered (and the word yes has been so helpful!)

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His verbs have really taken off so most of the day is filled with little sentences:

“Mommy taste eggs?”

“Mazen drinks water”

“Mommy gets glasses.”

Sometimes I have a hard time translating. The “Mommy gets glasses” sentence was one of them. We were out on the porch and he started to go to the yard and the sun was bright. He came and took my hand and led me into his room saying over and over “Mommyditglas.” When I finally figured it out I was laughing out loud!

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We have been working on saying please and thank you. He has please down pretty well and has used it unprompted a few times (when he realllly wants something!) but most of the time I have to prompt him. Thank you is following right behind. While he has known the sign for thank you for months, he said it for the first time this month: “tank oo mommy” or something like that. I also got an “I’m sorry mommy” out of him too. He is a really sweet boy.

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However, another word that has really taken off is MINE! He knows what it means and how to use it! Innocently enough though. We all need our boundaries. But he is quick to tell you what is “Mazen’s broccoli” and “Mommy’s broccoli” and so on. He knows when he wants more independence and will push me out of the way if he wants to do something himself.

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Another key word: Hungry! The first time he said it I nearly died of happiness. While he’s been able to sign eat for a while, just being able to say hungry and know what it means is a whole step of communication achieved. The words breakfast and lunch weren’t far behind. Now he will say “Mazen eat breakfast!” right when he gets up.

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When we roll through the neighborhood in the stroller he spends his time pointing out all the BIGTRUCKS and BUS!! and P-LICE CAR! He is an fan of any kind of transportation – from fire trucks (his favorite) to airplanes to trains. Every time we pass through the basement he has to say hello to his trains.

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We had been working on counting to 3 and have several counting books and one day he surprised me and just counted all the way to 10. I was completely blown away! We’re working on the ABCs a little, but no signs of going past C yet. Although when I sing the ABC song to him he chimes in during specific letter strings (W, X, Y, and Z). No sign of really knowing colors yet either, although I haven’t been working on them too much other than pointing out “red shorts” or “green truck.”

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Speaking of singing, his favorite song is Happy Birthday. I started singing it before naps and now it has become quite the singing event. He wants to sing it with me, and while he doesn’t know the whole song by himself, he chimes in and bellows it out while I sing with him… “HAPPY ….DAY….YOU!” He doesn’t want me to sing anything else!

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Naps have been KILLER lately! Last week he slept for 3 hours nearly every day. It’s kind of annoying because we now can’t make any afternoon plans, but it’s also the best thing ever for days when we’re at home. I have been able to get SO much work done!

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Favorites: firetrucks, trains, dinosaurs, Curious George, Elmo, putting trucks in trucks, his train table, swimming, slides, running everywhere, bubbles, books, his friend Saya

Major improvements: diaper changes, tooth brushing, naps

Least favorites: being rushed, sharing, most fruit, most meat, most food, actually, occasional tooth brushing

Weight: 31-32 lbs

Height: 32+ inches (was 32 at 18 months)

Clothes: Some 18-24 months but mostly 2T

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Guess it’s time to start planning that 2nd birthday party!

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Toy Wrangling

As we approach 2 years old, Mazen’s toys are getting out of control. I have had the mentality of “the more the better” in his toy baskets thinking that variety would keep him interested, but of course the opposite seems to be true. There is so much clutter that he just ignores most things.

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We have multiple toy (and book) stations throughout the house:

-Living room toys (his main set)

-Bedroom books (overflowing in a box and a bin)

-Bedroom small toys (in another bin)

-Outdoor toys on porch

-Big toys downstairs under stairs

-Small downstairs toy basket

-Chest full of misc toys, puzzles, legos, etc.

-Train table toys

Of all of these, he probably only plays with about 10% of them on a regular basis.

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So I took over on a big toy sorting project and weeded out the ones he never really liked that much. His reading nook is now a reading nook again!

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I put all baby toys (rattles, plush animals, etc) in a bag in our attic for a future baby and donated a few randoms that were hand-me-downs that he never found that interesting. He’s also not really into stuffed animals, so I donated a few of those too (like the freebies that come with books and things). Some of his least favorite books were put back on the big shelf to be read at a later date. Maybe he’ll like those more when he’s older.

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Now his toy baskets have space to breathe and he can find his favorites faster. I’m making a point to rotate toys in and out so they keep their coolness. So far so good! Mission accomplished.

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Tell me your toy tips!!

The Lunchbox Surprise

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Remember Jem!? My mom recently found my kindergarten lunchbox. It’s 26 (!) years old or so yet in great condition. I was debating giving it away when my mom suggested I use it to store some of Mazen’s smaller toys.

Mom is filled with good tips on parenting. She said she used to have a special basket of toys that I was only allowed to play with at naptime. It got her a good hour break for years – even after my naps were over and we had Quiet Time every afternoon. She would change out the toys and add new little trinkets to keep me excited about it.

We’ve been struggling a bit getting Mazen into his crib for naps. He’s obviously tired and once he’s down he’ll nap for 2+ hours, but it’s convincing him to settle down that’s the problem. Stories, singing, rocking – they all get him tired but he just wants to stay up for the fun when it’s time to get in.

Thus, the Lunchbox Surprise was born.

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I’ve been filling the box with a mix of his smaller toys – Tegu blocks, big legos, wooden toys and new book. We’ve been at it for a week now, and so far it’s been a hit. When he sees it in his crib he gets excited to climb in, and I say goodnight and leave him playing. Within 10 minutes he’s sound asleep. The cutest part is that he packs everything back up before he finally goes to sleep! And now he asks for his “prize.”

Now before some of you go crazy for allowing him to have anything but a sheet in his crib, I wouldn’t do this if he were anywhere near the “putting everything in my mouth stage.” Mazen hasn’t put anything non-food in his mouth for about a year. So I feel comfortable. And I make sure the toys are big and sturdy. I also watch him like a hawk on the video monitor until he’s asleep since he’s getting to the age where he might try to climb out of the crib.

I’m sure this won’t last forever, but for now it’s been a fun and helpful change. And I’ve had fun planning the surprises!

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Mazen Moments

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Yesterday you reached up to me and said “Hand.” You wanted to hold hands while we walked, and I hope you want to for a long time.

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We went to the park this week, and I followed you up the big play set to the really steep slide. I know you are brave enough to go down it because I have seen the video your dad made of you going “wheee!” but when you got to the top you hesitated, asked me to sit with you, and we went down together again and again and again.

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You have learned the word “MINE!” and use it appropriately. You also like to point out what is “Mazen’s” and “Mommy’s.” I was drinking a glass of wine and you looked up and said “Mommy’s juice!” Yes my sweet boy, Mommy likes her juice!

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You love to play with my hair. If I wear it in a bun you tug at it until a strand comes loose that you can twirl.

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I was going through my repertoire of songs I sing at bedtime and started on “Happy Birthday.” You sang “Happy” with me each time I did. At the end of the song, I paused before I got to “You” and you finished the line for me with a laugh. Your first song!

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You were sick with a fever and woke up at 5:30 in the morning crying for me. I went in to pick you up and after telling me that you were NOT going back in your crib, I took you to my bed to see if you would sleep there. You have never wanted to co-sleep…there is too much fun to be had in a big bed! But this morning you snuggled into my arms and then rolled off of me and scooted your body into mine like a spoon. We slept like this for an hour. You don’t remember but you were flapping your hand in my face while you slept. You must have been dreaming about something funny.

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This afternoon while we were reading stories before nap we both laid down together cheek to cheek and you turned your head toward me and said “Kiss!” A moment to remember!

Cooking With A Toddler

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I look forward to the days when Mazen and I can cook together (and when he can cook for me! Ha!) In the meantime, we’ve started to get him a little more acquainted with the kitchen. There are whole sites out there dedicated to ideas for kids and kitchens. Here are simply four small moments I captured.

Moving cut potatoes from the board to the tray. He loved this “game” and the knife was far away.

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Stirring the pancake batter…gently

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Salad spinning GO GO GO! Then we eat the lettuce. And by eat I mean he tries it (a start!) and then spits out most of it.

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And lately, watering the garden. His new favorite evening activity with Dada! He gets soaked just in time for bath : )

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21 Months

If there’s a theme this month it’s “talk and play and play and talk!” Mazen has become quite the expert at both.

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He wakes up in the morning and says “Pway outside?”

He gets down from his high chair and says “Pway bus!”

He truly understands that play time is the best time.

He is finally really able to mimic words we say too. If we say “Can you say Pumpkin?” He says “Pumpkin” back. (Although at this point it sounds like “Put-tin”!) I even got him to recite the entire alphabet after me!

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Speaking of the ABCs, he’s picking up on those a little. He knows the letter A and can point it out. His alphabet puzzle he calls “the ABCs” and before naptime once he said “ABCs in crib!” He can say his friends’ names too, which is super cute.

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We’ve also been working on counting and he understands that you move your finger from object to object to count. He knows 1, 2 and 3 but we haven’t really moved past those yet.

Mazen’s word for tissue is “nose” because so many times I grab a tissue and say “wipe your nose!” It’s very cute – he actually goes up to the tissues and says “nose” when he wants to wipe his, which is also something new – caring about hygiene!

He doesn’t like his nose to run AND for the first time he doesn’t like a wet or dirty diaper. When he wants a change he grabs his diaper and says “POOT!” Haha. We’re not really sure how he chose that word, but at least we know what it means. Diaper changes are SO MUCH BETTER than they used to be. I guess because he finally realizes they have a purpose!

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We’re working on saying please and thank you as well. While he doesn’t use them all the time, he will say please unprompted if he really wants something. That’s a sign to me that he knows what it means! There’s nothing cuter than a baby saying “Pwease?”

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M is absolutely obsessed with little trucks – his fire truck in particular this month. He and Matt make fire truck noises and helicopter noises all day long. M can hear a fire truck siren in the distance hours before I will ever notice it. He also knows when the train is going by our house despite the fact that it never “choo choos” and just chugs quietly in the background. He still loves his Pumpkin, Elmo and George dolls.

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This past month I went on my first two-night trip away. Although he cries when I leave him with a babysitter, M was too cool when I left for Miami. He just looked at me and said “Byebye!” and kept playing with his friend Slyvia. When I got back from New Orleans a few months ago he stood up in his crib thrilled to see me with a big “MAMA!”, but this time he just glanced at me and gave me a look like “Oh hi mom. I’m reading now, but I’ll greet you in a minute.” Too cool, I say.

Then we spent the whole day together and I could tell he was really glad to have me home : )

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He’s not too cool at bedtime. He still loves to snuggle and asks me to rock him and sing to him every night. He’s actually started singing himself, which is really cute and sweet. He still loves to play with me and on me. Mommy Bounce is one of his favorite games – that’s the one where he jumps on me! He’s 32 pounds and starting to hurt me more when he plays rough. If he steps on my foot with his shoe on it really hurts!

Another first this month was throwing up. Since I was a little girl who threw up a lot, I have been worried about what would happen when I became a mom with a child who threw up. The first time it happened he started to dribble out of his mouth a little. I wondered if he was throwing up and thought it wasn’t so bad. But this is one of those “You’ll know when you know” situations because suddenly there were gallons of vomit erupting from him onto the kitchen floor. It was like an adult amount! He was very scared and I felt horrible for him – horrible enough that I picked him up right after for a hug. The cleaning it up part was soooo gross. Luckily it was a twice-and-done sickness and he was at the playground by dinnertime.

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On a more positive note, M loves buttons and things that go beep. Elevator rides are incredible adventures! He learned how to jump and say “Wheee” when it starts to move.

And guess who can say his own name? Cute.

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Some stats:

Weight: 32 pounds and counting

Height: No idea

Clothes: 2T, some 18-24

Nap: at 1:30 for about 2 hours

Bedtime: Between 7:30 and 8

Waketime: Between 6:30 and 7

Likes: Playing outside, bread, swingy with dada, couch time with mommy, Kids Zone, Curious George, fire trucks, watering the garden, ice cream

Dislikes: Teeth brushing unless he does it all himself, nap time until he falls asleep, when trucks don’t fit inside other trucks