Eli - 18 Month Update

Naps: One nap a day, around 1 p.m. for two to four hours
Feeding: Two percent milk (16-20 oz./day), water all day, and table foods three times a day with a snack after nap.
Clothing: 18-24 month.
Bedtime: 8 p.m. Sleeps 12-13 hours consistently each night.

The big thing we've been working on this month is having him feed himself using silverware. It's a mess I tell ya. Before this month, every once in a while we'd let him feed himself with fork or spoon - but usually only if it was not that messy and/or he demanded it. Typically we just have him use his hands. But with baby girl coming in just two months (Eek!) it's important to me that he begin to learn how to use a fork and spoon well since I won't be available to feed him nearly as often. As I mentioned, it's a HUGE mess, food splatters everywhere as he tries to stab something too hard or completely spills it accidentally (usually), it gets down his shirt, in his ears, on the wall, everywhere. BUT, he's getting a lot better at it and he LOVES it. I think he eats way more food when we let him use utensils and even though I have to help him out pretty frequently (the stabbing thing is still pretty tough) it's still a lot less work for me during actual meal times. 

I've been loving these full-coverage Ikea bibs, plus I usually throw a dishtowel on his legs as well to save his pants. After a meal, I use the dishtowel and a washcloth to clean up him, the chair and the floor, and I handwash the bib in the sink so it's ready for another meal. I have two, so I just alternate them to give them time to dry. 

Overall, sleeping has been great this month. His last two teeth he's been working on popped through, and since then he's been sleeping really well. As I mentioned here, he has completely dropped that morning nap and it's great to have a consistent schedule with him! I do find he gets a little fussy/clingy around 10/11 a.m. if we're home all morning, so I've started "crib time" for about a half hour which has been a total life saver (for both of us!) In the afternoons, I can usually count on at least two hours, sometimes up to four depending on how much activity he's had that day, but let's be honest, those days are few and far between. 

As usual, this kid's vocabulary just keeps exploding. Recently, he's started putting two words together like, "I sit!" and "Where Dada?" He also finally says "Love you!" I admit it's pretty garbled, but Mike and I both recognize it, plus, it usually comes with a kiss, so that's a dead giveaway. While he says a lot of real words throughout the day, many of his speaking is still gibberish too. He pretty much talks all day long and sometimes I'll find him saying the same word over and over and over again to me, but I can't for the life of me figure out what it is. He'll say it super seriously and I'll start guessing, and he'll say, "No, jkflajfdalj!" Sometimes, if I ask him to "Show momma," we'll figure it out, but often he starts to get frustrated so I try to distract him with something else. Then later in the day the word will come back and we'll go through it all over again - with me still not figuring it out. I feel terrible that he's trying to tell me something and I can't understand - he probably thinks I'm dense! 

Also, it seems like he has so many words now that he's started to get them confused, especially opposites. Like "in" and "out," "up" and "down," "on" and "off." He'll say the wrong one so I'll correct him and he'll repeat it, but lately I've found him saying, "Up, down, up, down, up, down," all at once, when all he really wants is to be "up."  It's hilarious. He continues to rack up the body parts and animal noises, my favorite has to be his fish and bee sounds - the fish is just a kissy noise while he raises his shoulders up and down and he's got a long, loud buzz for the bee. 

He finally learned to go down stairs backwards this month! I have to give credit to his grandparents and cousins after spending quite a bit of time in Iowa this month. When he starts to look scared at the top of the stairs, I just have to say, "Turn around!" and he actually does and proceeds to go down! I'm so proud of him, that was a long time coming. He's sorta started taking it to the extreme though. Where he used to carefully walk over a threshold between doorways, now he makes a big to-do by turning around and delicately going over it on his hands and knees. It's like an inch dude, just walk over it.  

In addition, I feel like we're really getting into "life skills" training. He's at an age where I feel like he can understand almost everything I say - and while maybe "reasoned with" is a strong term, he understands that "patience" means "to wait quietly" and "obey" means "to do what I say," so I feel like we're at a point that I can be more intentional with him in learning and discipline. He's interacting more with other kids which means he's getting in lots of practice in the oh, so wonderful sharing. When there are other kids around that want a toy he has, or he wants theirs, sometimes I'll set a timer for one minute - and when it goes off, they have to trade. I don't think Eli really gets it completely, but he does get that "something big happens when the timer goes off," and he seems to offer over his toys with a much better attitude, so that's progress. 

We're also working on sitting patiently in his highchair at mealtimes until everyone is finished eating. I've been doing this since he was really little, but these days, Eli wants to go play when he announces he's "ALLLLL DONE!" Which is usually a good ten minutes before Mike and I. So we're working on having him sit patiently until the rest of the table is finished. Most nights, I just have to remind him several times throughout the end of dinner that we know he's finished, but he needs to wait until everyone else is to go play, and sometimes it's a lost cause so we run the timer for three or four minutes until he can be done. 

In addition I'm having him help me put away toys, get a diaper and wipes from the basket and throw it away after changing, and even put away his clothing. I've always involved him a lot in everyday chores, but really it's just him sorta playing by me/doing his own thing while I do it. Now, I'm trying to teach him how to do these things on his own. While I'm still by his side every step of the way, he's the one that is actually doing the work, and it's awesome to see how much he understands! 

Every once in a while I'll start thinking about something I'd like to teach him or have him do and I'll think to myself, "He's too young for that, he won't understand it." But time and time again, he surprises me with how much he can do as long as I'm consistent and patient in training him. 

Still totally crazy about music. He sings all the time, and often I swear I can recognize the tune! He for sure knows "Jesus Loves Me." When I say "Jesus," the kid immediately starts to sing it - only the word "Jesus" is really recognizable, but he can definitely get the entire tune. Stuffed animals, trucks and planes are still by far his favorite things. He also loves getting stickers and he usually walks out of Target with four in hand - he's sorta like a dog, the check-out lady starts ooohing and aaahing over him and he starts to do tricks, like showing his muscles, pointing to and saying his body parts, or shouting "Ready, Set, Go!" and throwing something on the floor - because he knows he'll get more stickers if he shows off. 

He still loves to be outside and go on walks, picking up sticks, smelling flowers and kicking rocks. He's also getting better and better at games, things like peek-a-boo (a massive game of it going on in the photos directly above), tag and hide and seek. As far as dislikes, it's hard to categorize them. He can certainly throw a stellar tantrum, but it's unpredictable as to what it's for. But overall, things like not getting what he wants immediately, having to give up something before he's ready, coming inside, not getting his food fast enough, just because he wants to, you know normal toddler stuff. 

Momma/Daddy Update
Thankfully, Eli is back to remembering my name! And he's equally obsessed with me as well as with his dad - it's so nice to be back in his inner circle! After our trip, Eli ran up to both of us and just kept saying our names, alternating each one. Then he'd ask to be held by one of us, then a few minutes later, he'd ask the other person to hold him, over and over and over. It was bliss for both of us. 

As always, it just keeps getting more and more fun with him, but I do feel like we're really hitting a point in parenting where we need to be very intentional, and it can be so easy to be lazy! Often I want to let things slide, but I know it's best to be consistent so I'm having to give myself an extra push to work with Eli. Mike and I are having more and more discussions about what's important to us and what's not in discipline and training, and I'm so thankful he's always on-board and thoughtful about how we're raising Eli. I do find that I have to work harder to be sure to let Mike know about things I'm learning or working on with Eli during the day - just like I wrote in this post, it can be easy to just step in and "do it," or get frustrated if I feel like he's letting something slide that I wouldn't. It's not that Mike doesn't want to, it's just that I'm usually the one doing the research or talking with mom-friends for advice, so he doesn't hear about all the "tips and tricks" I do. 

Overall, parenting is awesome, and it's so fun to see Eli become a little boy! We both consistently talk all the time about how blessed and lucky we are to be his parents! 


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