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A: is the most charming oh-my-gosh-he's-a-toddler-now in the world. He smiles delightedly and even laughs when you play with him! He really enjoys clapping songs and tries to clap along! And doesn't cry when milk is spilled! He wants to Be Helpful and when he sees me put toys in a bin, he toddles over and tries to do it too!

He's also very quiet and calm and super snuggly when you hold him — he clutches on to your arm or shoulder. I thought maybe all babies except for E. were like this, but now that enough people have commented on it, I'm thinking he may be a slight outlier on this particular axis.

He's a much better night sleeper than he used to be, but he's still a very light sleeper and he still wakes up at 4am to eat — for a while I thought I'd trained him to last until 5am, but with this last growth spurt he's right back at 4am. This week he's been sick and while he otherwise doesn't seem to have too many symptoms he's been waking up every two hours, which I'm not used to any more, ack! But it's probably good to have one thing that makes me aware I have a real human baby and not, like, a perfect baby I dreamed up or something. (After waking up every two hours, he is FINALLY sleeping, hence I can post! Of course, watch this mess up his naps.)

He really loves things that move nicely relative to the ground. Interestingly, there are a lot of people who make reference to the fact that he's a boy when they see him intensely concentrating on scooting a car or tractor across the floor, and no one yet has made reference to his gender when he's similarly concentrating on moving the small broom's bristles across the tile. I'm just saying.

(E was not as into Things That Move as A., but she was way more into airplanes. A. also likes stuffed animals more than E. did at this age, although she liked soft blankets more.)

He just suddenly two weeks ago decided he was a Walking Toddler instead of a Crawling Baby — his walking is still wobbly but he's now invested in doing it, whereas before he occasionally took a step but when he realized he was doing it he'd go right back to crawling. He seems to feel that talking, however, is still pretty much unnecessary because now that he has the signs for "milk," "eat," and "more," what else does he really need to communicate? Well, he can say "Doggie!" (which as far as I can tell means not just "doggie," although it does, but also "animal!" and "Look at this!") and "Uh-oh!" (which I think he thinks means "This is fun!") and "Dada," which just a day or two ago he displayed signs of connecting to the actual person.

He has embraced his new ability to hold things and carry them from place to place. I don't think that he started walking in order to do that (which E clearly did), but it's clearly an exciting new ability for him and he has been busy carrying various items from place to place very industriously. He carried my shoes to the trash can, various toys to the laundry bin, many of E's clothes from her dresser drawer to the living room, etc. At one point he proudly brought me a folded-up cereal box from the recycling bin, clearly under the apprehension that I needed it and that I would enjoy it better than whatever it was I was messing around with at the time. I wish I could direct this for good, as it would be awesome if I could get him to move things from one place to another that I wanted him to move. But of course toddlers don't work that way!

The only potentially gender-related difference between the kids I've noticed (besides associated with the actual genitalia, of course) is that A. has arm muscles. Like, since before he was a year old you could see actual biceps defined in his arm. It's a little freaky to me! E. never had anything like that (still doesn't). The only babies' upper arms I am intimately familiar with are my kids', so I don't know: is this a thing? Is it a baby boy thing? Is he just weird? (D. also seems to have more large and well-defined upper arm muscles than the norm — my sample of men's upper arms is slightly larger -- so it might just be from him?)

E: still really likes dinosaurs, although it's not the all-consuming obsession it was several months ago.

She's doing really well. She's made a lot of strides in little things not causing meltdowns (some of which was completely lost during this cold, but not all). We've obviously been working a lot on it (a LOT) at home and at school and for a while she had an awesome therapist (who unfortunately is now in Hawaii), but I think a good chunk of it really is that she's a year older chronologically and she's about two years behind emotionally/socially — so now she's basically acting like a typical 4-year old, whereas last year she was acting like a 3-year-old, and while 4-year-olds have their moments (and so does she), they're WAY more able to deal with stuff than a 3-year-old with a 5-year-old body-and-cognitive-processing-capability.

(She's also just a really nice kid, very eager to please, which helps immensely.)

She also recently started speech therapy (she had problems with saying her k's and g's — they all came out sounding like t's). Her speech therapist is phenomenal. I was prepared for her to spend a lot of time laboriously sounding out k's and g's. Nope — the first time we went, the therapist talked to her some as she played with toys, and then she turned to me and told me that some of the muscles of her tongue weren't strong enough. She sent us home for the first month with tongue exercises — no k's or g's at all (although they did do some of that work in her weekly sessions). After about a month, one day we were hanging out and E. said to me, "Hey Mommy, watch this!" and made k sounds at me. I just about freaked out, in the best possible way.

She has so far been an amazing big sister, very willing to help out and play with him (it helps that he's so darned fun to play with), but the specter of sibling rivalry is now raising its head, now that he is toddling about and wanting to be into all her stuff. I'm hearing a lot more of the "Moooommy, baby is [trying to play with my toys/ trying to take a toy from me / pinching me / climbing on me]."

She and D have been bonding through playing Portal, which is hilarious. She's been learning important lessons like "Don't trust!" (she actually wrote that in a picture she drew for school, and I informed D he had to explain it to the teacher so they didn't think bizarre things about our family; of course, they probably still think bizarre things about our family, but at least hopefully they are accurately bizarre things) and "When a sign says Keep Out it really means Come In!" (She knows this is a game-world phenomenon and not a real-world one, I should append.)

I've stopped holding her hand in non-busy parking lots (although I still do in, e.g., the local Trader Joe's, because their lot is insane) because she is good at following rules and has become good at following me. This may be a mistake. Last week she realized she wanted to go back for something, changed course in the middle of a parking lot, and almost walked straight into the path of an oncoming truck. Fortunately she's been trained to stop immediately as soon as I say stop, and the truck driver (who looked rather shaken) also stopped, but it was pretty hair-raising. Kiddo has, I think, rather less situational awareness than the norm for her age. Since then, whenever we're in a parking lot or even crossing a street, I've been talking very explicitly about situational awareness and watching and listening very closely to what's going on.

Me: I feel like the combo of waking up with A. and having this cold (again, with almost no symptoms except being tired, which is a big improvement over the early years with E., but my focus is shot to heck) has completely tanked my productivity. AND E. is finishing up the school year, which necessitates a bunch of end-of-year rituals, much of which I'm supposed to be present for. But I am hopeful this will all calm down soon. Very soon. I hope. Ideally before things heat up at work (lately they have been pretty slow, which has worked out).

I also feel like I need a lot of Me Time these days. I feel like this hasn't always been true — I have certainly had weeks and even months where I spent almost every available moment working and parenting and So On, with hobbies fit in around the edges or done via double-tasking (this is how I watched pretty much the entirety of Fringe, for example), but now I get too tired and I just need a chunk of time every evening that's All Mine.

Of course, it has not helped that I have picked up not one but two time-consuming hobby-type things in the last couple of months (not counting Jukebox). The (revival of the) jewelry-making one is entirely my brain's fault. (I hope to have pictures soon! But I don't have a finished product yet to show. I'm really pleased about this, though.) The wanting to write YA fic together thing is my sister's fault. (My suspicion is that this will get no further than elaborate outlines, as has been the case for other such projects, but hey, it's fun to do that.)

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