Todd Family Blog

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Month 9 with Levi

During Month 9 Levi became quite the little comedian. Like most little kids, he gets funny ideas and has a lot of initiative. I love seeing him come up with his own plans instead of what I expect or, yes, suggest. (So often my ideas are significantly inferior to what he has planned.) I mean, it is now obvious that toy boxes are for sitting in with dogs (stuffed, not real), hats/curtains/chairs/the side of the tub/strollers are all for peek-a-boo, saying "ssssss" is much more fun than saying "snake", and most obvious of all, basketball goals are for hugging....Oh, and peek-a-boo, too. But that goes without saying. And his favorite? Why should we all stand a few feet apart from each other when we could stand side by side and have group hugs? Pulling us into group hugs is his is best idea of all.

It was a strange month in a way too. We had two 18 month apt.'s with both his pediatrician and the international adoption clinic. They all do a great job, but it feels he is very under the microscope. Everyone is so afraid they are going to miss something due to his harder start in life. So, after two long checkups (he's now in the 5% for weight and 90% for height - big progress!!!), we are then sent to the eye doctor (NOT fun to dialate a 19 mo-old's eyes!!! He's very strong and pinning him down is just no fun.  Turns out his left eye is a bit weak, but should fix itself.  Now we know.), had First Steps come out to evaluate his speech (They think he is just fine for a baby who hadn't heard English until he was 10 months-old, and that he is even ahead in some cognitive aspects. Check that one off.), and we are still supposed to see a hearing specialist. (Really, really, really don't think that one is necessary considering he hears dogs in the distance, sings all sorts of pitches, does all his consonants, etc. Sigh.) For one seriously happy, healthy child he is getting a lot of attention.

Brad had a lot of fun during this month on his dad's annual week-long fishing trip in Minnesota. That meant that my mom, "Nanny", came to stay for a week. A week with Nanny is always a blast! Levi was spoiled with attention from both his grandma's, Nana AND Nanny, that week.

Every month includes the sleep update. This month, just see Month 8, but add complete regression. Levi had a fitful month with lots of thrashing and twirling during the night, for some reason all against my head. (Once even dropping his full weight right on to my cheekbone!) And not only does he still sleep with me (or Brad on the weekend, or Nanny when she visits) from 11:00-ish on, but is now also getting milk in the middle of the night again. He's so, so, so active (NEVER stops moving) and growing all day, he just really needs the extra calories, I guess. So there we have it....Back where we started in month one. Oh well.

Fun firsts for the month:

Funny new "wave" where he tucks his hand under his chin and smiles; has started using Legos correctly (yes!); jumped in leaves; can point to almost any animal in his books; caught a ball a few times in a row!; got off the ground more when jumping; used some of his words a bit more (up, cat), but "A dog!" is still his favorite; strung a couple words together with "Mama, A Car!" (sounds like "Mama, A Da!"); Said his first animal noise: Ba for a sheep; can hold a squeezable snack and not squirt it all over himself, me and the car. (Again, it's the little things.....)

First big bubble bath.

The correct way to play with his Butler Bulldog, he informs me.
Note the toes peeking out from the curtain
Fun with our best church buddies, Elias, Isaiah, and Jennifer. Elias and Levi are 5 days apart in age!
While Brad was gone Mom, Levi and I took a trip to Tennessee to see Great (Great!) Aunt AnaMay and (Great!) Aunt Jennifer. This one's a little blurry, but just so, so sweet.
Running around the front yard with mom and Cindy.
It's just been a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful fall. Lots and lots of fun. I'm discovering all the gorgeous parks that are only minutes away. How did I not know about these things before Levi came home?
Fun at Coxhall Gardens with Mom.
We had a fantastic day up in Crown Point with Elizabeth and Keith. They were kind enough to recreate their Oktoberfest feast for us since we, along with Tim and Steve, had to miss it.
Can't stand how cute this hat is - a gift from a student. Thank you McLean family!
I couldn't help snapping this - and they didn't even wake up, flash and all.
This is generally what Levi looks like - constant motion.
Chair pictures, Month 10! This is almost what our chair picture was. Convincing him to pose in a chair is just not part of his plan.

Levi loves Aunt Jenny! He has a picture of her in his room and likes to carry it around.

If there is a basketball goal nearby, Levi will be running to it...and eventually hugging it.

Levi was just a piece of work one night while mom and I were cooking dinner.  He put on quite the show for us.
Levi's Greatest Hits - Peek-a-boo with a hat, stomping, twirling and jumping.  (Sorry I have to set the camera down a couple times.  Takes two hands to put on his hat, apparently.)

I know I've mentioned a couple times that Levi's favorite thing is a group hug.  I don't know how many times he did this with mom and me in the kitchen that night.  He would pull us together and then herd us up.  So weird, but very cute.  

Friday, October 14, 2011

Month 8 with Levi – Opinions, Opinions

Ah, month 8. It made me nostalgic for the days when it was my way all day every day after we brought him home. I know it’s good and normal development and all, but he has SO MANY opinions! Opinions about what he’d like to eat, do, where the dogs should be, where he should be, if his booster seat is acceptable or not, how his toys should be played with, which books we should read, where he’d like to sleep, who should hold him, and on and on.

On the harder days we’ve been know to have 10 “Time In’s” (we can’t do time out due to orphanage stuff, so we hold him in a boring place under the stairs for a minute and talk about what went wrong) before 9:30 in the morning. (It’s possible that after that morning I cried through his bath. Sigh. Otherwise, I have somewhat maintained my composure.) Throwing food and toys or pulling mom’s hair are usually the big offenses. Tantrums have become a bit more frequent, though certainly don’t rule the day. But there are definite glimmers of the 2’s to come. I will say, “Time In” seems to be working as I’ve noticed a significant improvement in the throwing of toys over the month. So, there is some small victory.

We end “Time In” by saying (well, me saying for him) “Say, 'Aznalo – I’m sorry, Mommy' ”, and then we give a kiss. Of course, now he tries to end “Time In” by giving me a kiss right away. I manage a straight face 90% of the time, I would say. Another small victory.

This all said, he is really one happy boy. He is a big snuggler and his happiest moments are when we do a group family hug. In his best world of worlds we would all three move in unison, joined at the hip, all day long. Though he still wants Mommy he has become almost equally a Daddy’s boy. When he isn’t feeling well he ping-pongs between the two of us, not sure where to settle.

As for sleep…Well, I must admit some regression. As he has become more and more attached to us he just can’t stand to stay in his crib all night after waking up scared, teething, wondering if we're still there, etc. The only way we both are going to get any sleep at all is for him to spend half the night with me in the twin bed in his room. The only other option would be to soothe him literally all night long or let him throw a tantrum for hours while I stand by the crib (and he tries to propel himself out of it). At some point, we both just have to lie down and sleep. Any chance I get, if I happen to wake up, I try to return him to his crib while he sleeps. But honestly, I just don’t wake up that often once he is finally back asleep.

So, there you have it! Here are the firsts he LOVES this month: lots more dancing, brushing his own teeth, almost jumping (got off the ground once!), understanding pretty much everything, finding our car, stomping, the sign for "Touchdown!", eating with a fork, getting in containers, throwing balls or treats to the dogs, putting things away, Sandra Boynton books, bringing us his favorite books to read and finding his favorite pages in them.

Fun at the beautiful Cox Hall Gardens down the street. They have a mini village, tunnels, a giant sand "stream" for the kids. I would have died for this place when I was little!
Greeting Dexter the Boxer on our way in to the Metzings for brunch with Monique.
First time taking Nana to the Children's Museum with us
Trying out some sunglasses
Fun at the zoo with Elizabeth Mott and her twins. Thanks for taking us, guys!
Levi went crazy chasing the tiger, who was DEFINITELY chasing us too.
One day I blocked off the kitchen in order to clean a bit and keep the dogs out of my way. It became very obvious on which side of that baracade Levi would prefer to be. I see where I rank.
This was cute. We had a great time at the Greek Festival with Levi. He thought the children dressed to do their traditional dances were very cool. They were so sweet and came over to play.
One of the more important things Levi learned this month - how to signal a touchdown. Now if only the Colts could score one or two more a game!
The adorable and delicious cake Bob and Bonnie brought to celebrate Levi's 18 months on Sept. 11. (Same day as Ethiopian New Year, the Sunday of football, obviously the 10th anniversary of 9/11 - whew! Crazy day.)
Throwing an impressive tantrum at the park simply because I asked him to walk to me. Sigh. I sat down nearby and waited it out (can't do the walk away and ignore with a child who has spent time in an orphanage, so I do the sit down and look bored technique), but the houses behind the park must have thought someone was killing him.
Finally deciding the tantrum was less fun than he thought and he would walk the 10 feet to me.
We always enjoy our almost weekly visits to Connor Prairie, especially as the weather has cooled off and the fall has been so beautiful.
Our month ended with our first trip to urgent care (naturally when Brad and I were all dressed up and ready to walk out of the house to go to Elizabeth and Keith's Oktoberfest party)! Poor little guy - he had a fever of 103 and was literally screaming and doubled over in pain (thankfully, just stomach cramps from the fever). Over the next week he broke out in a terrible scabby rash from the fever as well, but has since made a full recovery. Scary, but a right of passage, right?
Chair picture, Month 8! So close to being a little boy instead of a baby.
Levi is working hard on his vocab, seeing that English is his second language. (I mean, when he came home he didn't even know "Mommy" and "Daddy", so he has come far!) This is his first animal sound, right as we are leaving Connor Prairie and seeing the animals. So fun to see it all start to click!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Month 7 with Levi (And some fun sans bebe too!)

Month 7! How time is flying. As I write this month 8 is almost in the books too. At some point I guess I will have to stop doing posts that are themed, "Month Whatever with Levi." (If when he is 21 I'm saying "Month 240 with Levi" we can all say I've gone too far.) But for now, each month seems to separate itself with its own identity and firsts.

Levi's firsts for the month included: Actually started playing WITH other kids, not just beside them; opened the back door!; brings us things we ask for; knows which car is ours; pointed to my nose; built our first blanket forts; started saying "mamamama" and said "cat"; slept all the way through the night 2 nights in a row (hasn't happened since....sigh); hugs us tight around the neck A LOT; picked his own raspberries to eat in the garden; throws balls for the dogs; started rolling trains/cars; tried to do Itsy Bitsy Spider, loves to sweep and Swiffer; can use a fork pretty well!

Everyone always asks for the sleep update and there is really no new news. He's now slept through the night only 4 times total. Otherwise, I would say he wakes me up about 4 times a night, though it isn't infrequent for it to be as many as 7. Now and then he stays up for a couple hours here and there crying, or just dozes all night, thrashing around. Those nights I don't remember sleeping at all, though it must have happened at some point? His one nap runs from 1 - 2 hours, in general. We still need to answer every need, and when I think of all he has been through it isn't surprising he's still adjusting. He's one happy boy during the day though!

Enjoying his first "fort" experience
He also loves sitting in his chair like a big boy.
How our group has grown! We had a fun dinner at the Hoskins with the Metzings and Browns. Lots of kiddos!
Going to watch Grandpa Bob clog at the Boone County State Fair! Levi was determined to run up to the stage and join in.
Such fun to hide behind things and pop out at me.
At Tyler and Adrianne's annual cookout - Levi's first chocolate chip cookie. Obviously, a new love. A boy after my own heart.
Obsessed with Zoe the dog.
"What is this thing for?"
One morning we were lucky enough to have the splash park at West Park all to ourselves.
Holding his own cheese. Such simple things are such a big deal!
And no more tray - pulled up to the table like a big boy.
Saying goodbye to my dear student, Kirstin, before she heads to college.
Loving on Nanny, who came to help while Brad was gone on a guys' trip.
Taking Dad to The Children's Museum.
First time sitting on his own horse on the carousel.
So many uses for bowls and tupperware!
A play date with Polly, Adelaide, and Oliver! So great to see them as they passed through on their way to Louisville. Thank you, Ali and Wilson, for hosting!
First time at the lake and on a boat!
And on the tube!
The advantage to being the first ones up? Beautiful views of the lake. (I'm sure that is what prompted Levi to get up at 5:30. Not that it was light then.)
Early morning story with Great Aunt Judy. The older kiddos - Hayden and Mandy - seem to be enjoying too. Who doesn't love Dr. Suess?
Maybe I'll get some help with cleaning?
Brad's right - we've got to just get that saddle for Luke.
Chair pictures, Month 7! He's on to my tricks to make him smile. Very serious this time.
We've only been out without Levi (at night) 3 times, but one of those just HAD to be the State Fair with Tyler and Adrianne - our annual tradition. How can I turn down a night that ends with a fried brownie!?Amazing Lego displays of Lucas Oil Stadium, complete with the retracting roof....
....and The Speedway.
Our absolute favorite things are the oddities that have been judged. These identical alligators (?) in the collectible exhibit must be different somehow!
How do you judge bails of hay? This is completely fascinating to me. I've got to read the rule book.
Our dear friends, Keith and Kim, were in town from Canada and came over for a night. So great to catch up in person!
I had my first time away this month! I went to Chicago for about 36 hours for the bachelorette party of our friend, Alice (At 2nd City, on the far left in the first picture). It was a great time and Brad did just fine with LT in my absence. It was actually only AFTER I returned that Levi got fussy and seemed to realize that I had been away. It was like, "Where were you!?"
Food! I make a lot of pies during the summer - this one was to take on our lake weekend. Peach, because it's Bob Todd's favorite!
And THIS is what a tomato should look like. The glory of the Indiana summer: tomatoes out of your backyard that are red all the way through and taste so unlike any tomato you've had anywhere else that you wonder if you've ever even had a real tomato before. How I love them. My mom practically plans her summer visits around when the tomatoes ripen!

A couple more cute moments:
At the lake Judy brought Levi a balloon from the grocery store. Big excitement, followed by the somewhat predictable loosing of the balloon in the high ceiling, and the brave rescue by Bob.

There is no shortage of love between the boys - Luke, Cal and Levi. What those dogs will put up with! And when Luke has finally had enough he is even gentle about getting up and leaving, God bless, him.

Levi has many ways to let us know he is all done eating - the correct sign for "All Done", but also his own improvisation. This usually entails ripping his bib off. If there is no bib, he'll pull at his shirt. If there's no shirt, his skin will do just fine. He may not have many words yet, but he is still determined to communicate!