This shall be known as "Month of the Bumps." Though the joy of "bumping" (walking/running/DRIVING/pulling ANYTHING over ANY kind of bump on the group/pavement) would continue for months, it was Month 15 when it became an obsession. Levi seems to have Brad's sense of direction. You take him somewhere a time or two, he remembers the route, and specifically if there is a "bump." His favorite bumps are in front of our local Whole Foods and Petsmart. He tells me all about them if we even just drive past those stores. He also adores the bump going into all his grandparents' homes. Pulling toys over Bob and Bonnie's driveway bump is his first activity (after raiding their pantry), and he immediately memorized all bumps around my parents' Florida home. (Thank God they also have a bump into the drivel!) And then there is the one that gets ME exercise: jumping over the bump (a.k.a. the threshold) of our backdoor. Levi would happily have me jump in and out all day if my arms and legs could hold up.
Month 15 also included a big sleep development which turned out to be the turning point we've waited for these 15 months. As always, like sleeping on the floor the month before, it was an idea sprung out of desperation. With Levi's "testing boundaries" attitude that comes with being 2 also came boundary testing at night. He rarely seemed truly scared or hungry at night as he used to (which were needs that we had to attend to due to his orphanage experience), but he more wanted to see if he could get attention, wiggle into my bed, get up extra early, etc. SO, one night after a tantrum that began at 11:30 and seemed to have no end, I put a baby gate at his door and went to lie down on the couch just outside his room. There I could still talk to/be there for him, but he had to stay in his room with only one option: GO TO SLEEP. After another hour of learning that he is now able to climb over both the short and tall baby gates I stacked the two on top of each other in his door. Back on the couch I waited until about 3:30 a.m. and then...SUCCESS!!! He got back in bed and stayed there until 6:30 in the morning. Yes!
This immediately became our bedtime go-to. Brad does the normal nightly routine of reading and prayers, which Levi is more than thrilled with ever night. Then the gates go up, and while we cook dinner in the kitchen or watch TV in the living room we only will say to him, "Momy and Daddy are here, we love you, climb back in your bed and find your teddy bear. It's time to go to sleep." After only a couple nights he got the hang of it and barely put up a fight at all. Sometimes a half-hearted visit to the door and that's about it. Sometimes there were still early morning or middle of the night wake-ups, but even then I could just ask him to get back in bed and he did.
Now, we couldn't have done this until we did. When he was first home he needed to know that someone is always here for him and also what having a parent is/who we are. But they said in our training that we would know when we could remove our presence a bit, and we really did. The "Terrible 2's" brought a shift in Levi. More confidence, more boundary testing, hence more boundaries being set. God bless the Terrible 2's! And I would highly recommend the baby gate method for anyone who wants something in-between "cry it out" and answering every whimper. He can see us, hear us, feels loved, his needs are met, but the boundary is clear. Working like a charm.
Levi's language has really started to come along. He is growing in confidence while imitating our words. I realized, when we brought him home may have been at a detrimental time for his language development. Right at almost 11 months he was probably about ready to try out some first words, and what do we do? Changed languages on the poor little guy! He must have felt like his ears had stopped working. Can you imagine everyone sounding completely different all of the sudden and using different words to describe everything? Maybe any younger and he wouldn't have been quite as attached to trying Amharic. (For instance, it is interesting that he has always said "Ah" instead of "yes." "Awo" is yes in Amharic. Hmmmm.) And any older he maybe would have understood the process of forming words/imitating a bit more. He would have at least gone through the process in some language. Recently though it is becoming difficult to keep up with all his new words! We've stopped filling in the blanks for him to encourage him to try out his own sounds. He also is great at picking out and making the sounds for many letters. We like to joke that he can read better than he can talk. Ha!
Other firsts and trends:
Understands and says "come back" - very helpful for separation anxiety!, Says Na Na (Nanny or Nana) and Papa, laughs whenever we laugh (even if he doesn't understand why), loves to get "Warm and Cozy" by snuggling in blankets or towels and also to "Snuggle in Tight" against my shoulder - very Mommy attached this month, made it through a whole church service!, asked to pray by folding his hands together, tried to put food literally "in his belly," moved to a twin bed, month of hating the park (sigh), loves his baby laptop, remembered EVERYTHING about Nanny and Papa's in Florida, obsessed with stop signs and bridges when we drive and walk, first time we used a sitter outside of the family at night, scratched me for the first time, can pull his pants up, really wants to hold drinks by himself and is doing well using a cup, likes to know our "plan" for the day.
Even more brave with the ocean on this trip! I was holding on awfully tight.
Nanny and Papa showing him how to work the very cool water table they got him. Still wishing we could have fit that in the truck for the drive home.
More sand digging skills on this trip too. And we almost always have the beach to ourselves. Gorgeous.
That's a lot of dog. Note the little one by Dad on the couch too. Five dogs for a week and they all got along famously.
Fun at the Jacksonville zoo.
Checking out the fort and walking along the water in beautiful St. Augustine.
Snuggling with Dada.
Easter! Had a great dinner with the Todds and a wonderful church service, but this is the only picture we managed to take. No egg hunts this year, but definitely next time.
Getting good at throwing the ball for the dogs. Note the bare feet. I don't think Levi has worn shoes outside since the weather turned warm. A boy after my own heart.
Still amazed that he snuggles with a teddy bear now and then after having no interest at all for so long.
Some day he'll fit in Dada's hat!
My brave boy conquering the big slide.
Chair picture, Month 15. Looking very grown up.
God bless Dada. He spent 5 hours putting together this fantastic airport train set for Levi, a gift from Nanny and Grandpa. It was a huge hit (and still is) when he woke up in the morning.
And our favorite warm weather activity, playing with our doggies. God bless them too for being so patient.