And so it is here. We've entered the land of the two year-old boy. It is a strange and new place, living up to every story one hears. Of course, we saw signs of two year-old Levi long before the actual birthday, but he has latched on to his new persona and is not looking back. I have never been more grateful for the wonderful training that was required of us during the adoption process. Not only did we learn what to expect when bringing home a child with orphanage/transition house experience, but they mixed in some wonderful parenting techniques. If not for these, I am pretty sure our days would have been highjacked by Levi's desires, tests, and whims. "Time In" is my very best friend and our constant go-to. It's incredibly gratifying (and really just a huge relief) to see it work. (Is there anything better than seeing your toddler voluntarily clean something up after a bit of discipline?)
I've also come to the realization that kids acting out at this age is actually desirable. How else can you show them what is okay to do? I will forever be more understanding when I see a child having a "moment" (what I now call a "learning moment") in public (though never understanding if the parent is screaming back or giving in). Already I can feel how these years lay the foundation for expectations and consistency throughout Levi's entire childhood/young adulthood.
However, I must admit, even these testing moments are a true joy as they tell us he is right on track developmentally. I am constantly amazed at his resilience. His two year appointment was much more uneventful than his 18 month (after which we were referred to First Steps, as well as an eye and ear specialist. Whew!) Our fantastic pediatrician (who has the wonderful perspective of being Nigerian) could not have been more thrilled with his progress, weight, height, and overall health. What a relief.
Levi's speech still isn't very clear, but he continues to add words. Some highlights include names for the dogs! Cal has become "Ga Ga", Gracie is "Good Girl" (guess we call her that a lot!), and Luke is "Gu". He just adores talking about them, asking for them, and calling them by name in his sing-song voice. When I made a list of all his vocab for his doctor's appointment I had to laugh at the words he has chosen to say. The list is comprised of almost soley his favorite things or funny words to say. Very rarely anything useful, like, say, "milk, juice, tired, hungry...." This month he added words like "Bummer" (makes him laugh hysterically) and Bird. He's also getting very good at recognizing letters and is beginning to pick them out without practice first. D (for "Dada" and "Dog") is, naturally, his favorite at the moment.
More fun firsts:
Loves to imitate us doing anything grooming related - comb hair, clean glasses, put on lotion/moisturizer, wash hands or pretend to wash hands; Pretended to wash dishes; Pretended to crack an egg and put it in a bowl in a play kitchen; can almost put his shoes on, and can put his arm in his coat; Peed "near" the potty; Tries to count his fingers; Tried to peak out of his bedroom when he knew not to be out of bed; can climb a couple rungs up our farm fence in the backyard; asked to go to Nana and Grandpa's; Knows where certain landmarks are, like his favorite parks and stores; knows the whole route to Nana and Grandpa's; participates more and more in music class by playing instruments and standing on his own for standup songs.
I promised an interesting sleep update, and boy was there one. Out of pure desperation one night I just curled up on the floor by his toddler bed, wrapped in just a baby blanket. It worked like a charm to be right beside him. I didn't have to get up to comfort him or share a small bed with him, and he stayed in his bed all night. So, I did it the next five nights (adding a yoga mat) before realizing I had to give in and just put a mattress down there. Though he still tried to climb in my bed now and then, for the most part we were successful at getting him used to sleeping on his own all night. (This is NOT to be confused with him actually sleeping all night, which is still not happening, but I'll take it.) I'll forever be grateful for the bonding that came with sharing a bed with our wiggle monster for all those months and months, but to have my own space again was a revelation. More progress to come in month's 15 and 16! (Desperation leads to the best ideas!)
Aunt Jenny made a visit at the start of Month 14! She had a meeting in town and we were excited to have her stay. Plus, we got to have a girls' night out on the town with some great food and wine.
Love seeing Aunt Jen!
After a little flu Levi was an expert at taking his temperature
Pointing to "Dada"
The great yogurt experiment! Who knew it was so easy!? And now we have cheap, organic yogurt on hand all the time. Plus, the strained whey makes fantastic breads - Mmmmmm, bagels! But the real question: Would it be Levi approved? Yep!
Our dogs love their veggies. This is Luke chomping on some bok choy.
As always, a boy and his dog...in Christmas PJ's in March.
Oh, we are in trouble. At 2 years old almost to the day Levi figured out how to climb the fence in the backyard.
Weekend trip to Nashville to visit some family...Levi was OUT after the drive at the hotel.
A good southern breakfast, our little carnivore skips over the fantastic biscuits and egg to pick out the country sausage.
The "Cheesy Smile" continues. This is what you get these days if you ask Levi to "smile."
Trying out the race car at the Children Museum's fantastic Lego exhibit.
I had to laugh after I set out all the spices to make more Ethiopian Berbere spice (the cornerstone of most Ethiopian food). Just the measuring takes quite a while, not to mention the grinding.
But, very, very worth it.
The big 2! So, the day before Levi's birthday I decided that Levi needed a German Shepherd cake. You know, that is a lot harder than I thought it would be. But I did learn a lot for next year's cake adventure and found yummy new chocolate cake and buttercream recipes.
When I asked Levi "Where's Luke?" (Luke is the dog that looks like the cake - I hoped), Levi actually pointed to the cake! Hallelujah. Really wasn't sure how that would go.
Giving cake Luke a kiss.
Blowing out the candles with Grandpa's help.
This year he ate cake and liked it. (Last year he smashed it and cried.)
This doesn't look like a special picture, but for the first time he is eating his Ethiopian chicken stew (Doro Wet) off of the Peter Rabbit dishes I grew up using on special occasions. Aw.
Attending the birthday party of our good friend, Elias Yutzy.
Levi's first time being a guest at a birthday party!
Obviously fascinated by bubble time. And none of the parents could believe that all the kiddos actually sat at the table and ate. Guess they worked up an appetite!
Play date with the Mott boys! Always a blast.
Fun with our friend, Kayan! Kayan and his family are our new friends and are originally from Kenya. Levi and Kayan are almost exactly the same age and have a great time together.
First golf outing!
Chair picture, Month 14. Still growing like a weed and quite the handsome little man.
Girls' night with Miriam in Broad Ripple. A nice meal out ended with us getting a (large) assortment of cookies from Insomnia Cookies, some McDonalds coffee, and eating way too much while sitting in my truck. Glamourous and, well, yum.
Laughing over the word of the month: "Bummer"
Trying out a tricycle for the very first time. Thanks, Nana and Grandpa! Still need some practice.