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You are 23 months old.

You received a wooden train set for Christmas. Your favorite thing to do with it is flip up the arms on the crossing gate.

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You also enjoy fitting together two or three random pieces of track and dumping all the pieces out of the huge basket where they live.

You know when Mama skips a page of your favorite book, and you do not hesitate to tell her so.

You have learned to ask, “May I?” while grabbing things off the countertops. Sometimes you add a “please.”

You started saying the Telugu words for “what” and “hang on” during a recent Skype call with your Indian grandmother.

You have known for a while that sheet music is to songs as books are to reading. But now you try to pick out the songs after Mama finishes playing.

You adore packing and unpacking things: the matchbox car carrier, groceries, the dishwasher, a case of MP3 player stuff.

You talk around things that are in your mouth: straws, toothbrushes, your thumb, your bottle. And so now we ask you to take things out of your mouth and repeat yourself so we can understand you.

You have counted to four once, and to two once, both times while picking things up. You also count along when Mama counts the stairs as we go up or down.

You do not like Mama to carry you up or down the stairs, and will yell “walk!” in protest, but you often hold your arms up for Daddy to carry you.

You are roughly 34 inches tall and somewhere between 25 and 26 pounds.

You cried as soon as you saw the nurse at the doctor’s office, refusing to get on the scale and weeping your way through an armpit temperature reading. As far as we can figure out, she give you a shot a long time ago.

You know there’s a camera in your room, because daddy told you.

You are still an angel on the changing table, though you have begun to twist from side to side as you try to see things on the floor.

You have a five-syllable word: peekakabaga, your mashup of peekaboo and kabaga, which is your word for kaboom. You also have many new words, chief among them: booger, medicine, snot, kaboom, game, really, bless you, peanut butter, wallet, careful, broken, fixed, better and booty. You have also begun to string two and three words together: Hi bug, open Sesame, goodbye daddy, may I please.

You have seen three snowfalls this winter but have yet to play in the snow because every time, you’ve been sick, or Mama’s been sick, or the temperatures have been deadly.

You respected the Christmas tree while it was up, helped put the ornaments away, and asked after it when it disappeared from the living room.

You were shown “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” and wandered out of the room after 5 minutes.

You repeat words in conversations that take place while you are concentrating on something, the most stunning example being at a kiddie art class where you were talking to Grammie and Mama and stopped to repeat a color uttered by a kid across the room.

You’re very, very good at repeating a word after hearing it for the first time.

You are beginning to attempt to sing and for a while you said “la-la” if Mama asked you to sing a song. This week, you began to actually vocalize, sweet little lines of “ahhhhh.”

You said “sorry” to a boy you bumped with a piece of gym equipment — your first spontaneous apology.

You are 23 months old, and sometimes you still fold up your legs and feet exactly like you did when you were a newborn.

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In a seize-the-good-weather moment, we (my mom and I) took the Boo to a pumpkin patch for the first time. That’s right, I did not take him last year — don’t know if that makes me a lame mom or just wise with how I spend my energy, but there it is.

At first, he wandered hesitantly around the outside of the main pumpkin shed. My mom introduced him to the giant inflated scarecrow, which he liked very much. Eventually, we got him inside to look at the approximately 8,000,000 pumpkins, but he was far more interested in pointing out that the doors, propped with cement-filled buckets, needed to be closed.

I plunked him on a bale of straw and got a few really nice photos during the few minutes he was enjoying the novelty of being up there. He patted a few pumpkins and took a liking to one that was off to the side on its own next to a planter he decided was a trash can. My mom fetched a little red wagon, and Boo leaned against his pumpkin, a tiny man of leisure in a festive rolling Barcalounger.

But what he really went apeshit over was the ducks. Between the shed and the actual patch (which we did not ever get to because DUCKS!) they had a few large pens with the aforementioned ducks, chickens, bunnies, a turkey and a pig. He stood watching them, making the happiest noises I’ve ever heard come out of him. I didn’t even take pictures (one of my main motivations for the trip) because I was having such a good time watching the joy pour over his face. Also, I didn’t want to be the parent whose kid gets his finger gnawed by a farm animal while she’s busy taking photos.

The ducks were the epicenter of the rest of the visit. He would run around and put rocks in trash cans (a favorite pastime), but he kept wanting to circle back to those ducks. And his attentiveness was rewarded when a lady came by on a four-wheeler and threw a few heads of lettuce in the pen, causing a really cute feeding frenzy.

The first time we stated talking about going home, he looked up and sweetly asked, “ducks?” and we said sure, let’s go see the ducks again. The second time, he started crying a bit while semi-whining, “ducks!” We were able to placate him with (semi-true) promises of seeing Daddy at home and pointing out that his pumpkin was in the car. Most of the way home, he patted it happily and babbled about his “pop.”

The next day, I decorated it with a Sharpie (I plan to bake it):

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You are 20 months old.

You still (still!) will not touch pasta, eggs, meat, cheese, cake or yogurt. However you do really like these, especially the cat ones:

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You like to empty your toy bins so you can stand and sit in them. You don’t fit easily when you sit; it’s more like a squat during which you resemble those YouTube cats who like to cram themselves into seemingly too-small spaces.

You can say “cat” now, and your habit of saying “meow-meow” to mean cat is fading quickly.

You sometimes use “please” as a demand, melding it with “up” like so: “Uppease, uppease, uppease, UPPEASE!”

You like to practice taking off your pants. You do this proudly, smiling up at Mama to make sure she knows what a big boy you are.

You have mastered the steps and slides at the playground, though Mama still stands by just in case you get distracted on the stairs. You particularly love the higher, faster slides.

You rush up to other kids on the playground, saying either “hi” or “baby!” We’re working on teaching you “kid” and “boy” and “girl.”

You prefer to walk down the stairs (while holding Mama’s hands or the handrail). You squirm mightily when carried down. That’s when we have short talks about being safe on the stairs.

You are officially down to one nap, though we all struggle through the time that used to be your morning nap. Our watchword for this timespan is “distraction.” Which sometimes translates as “iPad.”

You are adept at climbing onto the couch, chairs and low beds.

You love to run across wide-open spaces, chanting “run run run” or just grunting the whole way. You can easily run for the equivalent of a city block.

You are collecting new words at a blinding pace. Often, they sound shockingly close to what they actually are. But sometimes we have absolutely no idea what you’re saying despite your boundless confidence.

You can find and open the paper toss game on the iPad. You’re not terribly good at playing it though.

You know, and know how to say, blue, red, green and yellow (boo, led, geen and yeddah). You know, but can’t say, orange and brown.

You recognize the letter “a” if it’s capitalized, and will point it out on the covers of books.

You recently went back to wanting a bottle before bed.

You have begun to tell stories of your experiences, the prime example being the time you stuck your hand in a rotten orange and then we threw it away. You also like the one about the time the garbage can pinched your hand. You cross your fingers and get as close as you can to saying “pinch” when you tell that one.

You will beg for a slice of lime, then gnaw on it, pausing occasionally to say “tart.”

You put a stick of sidewalk chalk down your shirt and left it in there for at least an hour this morning, pausing occasionally to take it out and inspect it before putting it back.

You are 20 months old, and it is a great joy to watch you revel in tasting tiny bits of independence.

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Some kind of miracle has occurred, i.e., the baby is still napping, so I’m going to try to crank out a quick post.

The Boo has begun to manufacture his own words for things. See if you can guess what each one means. (A great way to get an idea of what my days are like.)

Duck…

Chuck, our neighbor, much adored by the Boo.

Yeddah…

Yellow, his favorite color.

Mimi…

Music, duh.

Nay-nay….

Ned, his beloved bedtime buddy.

Yay-yay…

Raisins.
Yeah, I don’t get that one either, but that’s definitely what he means.

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1. A 19-month-old can throw a snack cup — the kind with a twist-to-lock lid — such that it pops open when it hits the floor.

2. Cheerios travel impressively far on highly polished surfaces such as the floor of our local Target.

3. Saying there’s been a Cheerio disaster gets a smile from a worker bee.

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Baboo: Please?

Me: Please what?

Baboo: Ice!

(I fetch ice and give it to the Boo.)

Me: Here you go!

Baboo: No!

Me: Okay!

(I ditch the ice.)

Baboo: Please?

Me: Please what?

Baboo: Ice!

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Me: Say “please.”

Baboo: “bees!”

Me: Say “pee.”

Baboo: “bee!”

Me: Say “daddy.”

Baboo: “dah-DAY!”

Me: Say “yes.”

Baboo: “yesh!”

Me: Say “house.”

Baboo: “housh!”

Me: Say “ice.”

Baboo: “eyesh!”

Me: Say “kitten.”

Baboo: “nyow-nyow!”

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It’s a classic piece of unsolicited advice: Babies change everything. But it’s actually true.

For example, shopping:

– Target used to be where I went for affordable work clothes and fun housewares. Now it’s where I dance a little jig if I leave for under $100.

– Baby Gap was a store I glanced at occasionally as I cruised into The Gap, thinking, “huh, cute.” Now it’s where I struggle to resist spending my kid’s college fund.

– Old Navy was my source for cheap jeans that actually fit me. Now it’s where I go to feel smart about dressing my child.

– The grocery store was an occasional necessity. Now it’s midday entertainment, and (sometimes) a twice-a-week necessity.

Time management…

– Ten free minutes used to mean making a few phone calls. Now it means showering, and maybe a phone call on speaker.

– Laundry used to happen on weekends, whenever I got up. Now it happens before the baby gets up and during naps on weekends. And weekdays.

– I used to unload the dishwasher as soon as it was finished. Now I wait for the baby to be around because he enjoys handing dishes to me. Sometimes I even wait until he’s a little cranky because seriously, he loves helping me.

And everyday objects…

– The couch was where I went to watch movies. Now it’s where I go to nap.

– Measuring cups and mixing bowls were for, well, measuring and mixing. Now they’re bath toys and hats and drums and…

– My iPad used to be the reason I was never bored. Now it’s the reason I’m able to cut the baby’s hair.

And trim his nails.

And brush his teeth.

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When Baboo was about seven months old, or maybe a little older, I started teaching him baby sign language. Just the classics, really: more, all done, please, thank you. For a while, he used each new sign to mean what the previous one meant, plus the meaning for the new one. So when he signed “please” it actually meant “more” and “please,” and sometimes “I want it.”

Now that he’s 18 months, he has a good range of words to convey his desires and chat about his world. All the books and websites say this is when kids experience a “language explosion.” In Baboo’s case, this has mostly meant pointing out every trash can and excitedly proclaiming “dash!” He also now chants, “go, go, go” every time we pass the gate to the basement, which is our route to going to the store/playground/for a walk.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been focusing on getting him to say “yes” in response to direct questions instead of signing “more” or “please.” I knew he could handle “yes” because three or four weeks ago, he began saying “house” and “ice” clearly (whereas before it was just “ow” and “eye”). The “yes” project went well enough that I was satisfied. My baby was On Target with this Major Developmental Milestone.

But then last week, he was in his high chair and he started doing the sign for “more” perfectly. He’d never done this, so it took me a minute to get what he was saying. I seriously thought he might just be playing with his fingers. So I asked him, just to be sure: “You want more?”

Again, the perfectly executed “more,” plus the word itself, reasonably clearly. Not the “muh” of the past few months. “Mow.”

I think he got tired of me sitting there with my mouth open, because then he signed, and said, “more, please.”

Both signs, perfectly, accompanied by words that were actually recognizable. He’s never done that. Hasn’t done it since. But apparently he put all the pieces together to do it last week, and decided to show Mama what he could do.

Astonishing, what goes on in that little head.

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You are 18 months old.

You can operate these toys all by yourself:

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You still insist upon inspecting Mama’s shoe after she farts. When you don’t find anything other than a shoe, you shrug.

You can locate your chin, cheeks, forehead and bottom.

You sometimes play with your blocks all by yourself.

You have mastered the art of climbing onto the couch and chairs.

Your morning nap is slowly evaporating and being absorbed by your afternoon nap. This makes you a little cranky, but the change makes Mama happy.

You decided to conquer the shape sorter last week — and you did.

You love to “walk” up the stairs as we hold your hands.

You know what “boo-boo” and “kiss it better” mean, and you bestow kisses on Mama’s boo-boos as well as your own. You have also begun to make contact with your kisses.

You know how to turn on the dishwasher. And now we know how to lock it.

You are almost able to thread shoelaces. Real ones, not baby practice ones. Well, they belong to the learn-to-dress monkey, but still, they’re tiny.

You know that if you’re happy and you know it, the only thing to do is clap your hands. Failing that, you can also pat your head or stomp your feet.

You are so obsessed with trash cans that Mama brought a little one into the kitchen for you. There’s a separate blog post coming about this because there’s just too much to tell for this format.

You went to the zoo for the first time with Grammie and Mama. You seemed to like the elephants quite a bit. You were also delighted to find they have trash cans there.

You know how to answer and end a Skype call on an iPad.

You regularly deploy the word “uh-oh” in the correct context. You are also an expert shrugger.

Your feet are five inches long.

You abruptly ended your long and ardent love affair with baby yogurt. Mama is fine with this because of the high sugar content, and trusts that you will eat enough of other stuff that you keep growing.

You are 18 months old, and we can’t quite believe it.

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