Its hard to believe so much time has passed since our last update! In good news, life is going well for Christi, Eric and Keith. Keith is thriving in every way, and while he is still all-consuming, he’s getting easier (and more fun!).
Unfortunately, this year, all three of our remaining parents have had issues arise, so in addition to caring for Keith, we’ve also had to spend a lot of time helping our parents. Christi’s dad had some medical issues that popped up early in the year — in the April 2013 post, we mentioned Christi had already gone to Las Vegas to see him five times, primarily to take him to various doctors. Fortunately, Christi’s dad is doing better now. Just as Christi’s dad started to improve, Eric’s dad — who has been ill for several years now — took a significant turn for the worse. Unfortunately, Eric’s dad has been steadily declining since then. Eric’s mom — who has health issues of her own — is having a hard time with the situation. We’ve decided that caring for children is much easier than caring for aging parents.
Eric is still traveling a lot for work. At the end of June, he went to a conference in Paris. Christi and Keith tagged along. Paris with a baby is certainly a different experience than Paris as a romantic trip for a couple. Below are photos from Paris.
Keith has come so far since the last update! He is now 17 months old. He recently got four molars and is now up to eleven teeth. He’s always amazed us with his ability to consume food — he was eating burritos back when he only had six teeth, none of them molars! Now, that he has molars, he’s an eating machine!
Keith took his first steps without holding onto anything at 14.5 months old (in May). It took about a month before he was really walking well, and it happened while we were in Paris. It took yet another month before he was steady enough that he no longer looked like a drunk. Now he’s pretty darn fast and trying to run.
Where Keith really shines is in his communication skills. He’s been unusually expressive since birth, and has just become more so over time. Keith is by far the most gregarious kid we’ve seen. He always manages to make his feelings known, either through words, noises, facial expressions, or other behavioral indicators. For instance, in swimming, he’ll scream very loudly in delight at the exercises he likes, but cry as if the world was ending at exercises he doesn’t enjoy as much. The other kids just smile or make mild complaining noises — they aren’t nearly as dramatic as Keith.
Keith has an enormous vocabulary. By 15 months old, he said about 20 words. Now he is up to well over 50. Of course, when we say “words” we mean all his consistent uses of sounds. Many of his words are very clear, such as: car, hat, hot, cookie, happy. Some words he doesn’t enunciate as well. For example, “ice cream” sounds more like “eye tee” and “snack” sounds more like “cock.” Some words are only half words, such as “papa” and “nana” instead of “grandpa” and “banana.” Some words he has made up. For instance, he says “die” when he means “milk.” And there are certain words that he uses special sounds for (which are especially amusing). When he wants chicken, he’ll say “bock bock” and when he wants water, he’ll say “aaaahhhh.” And he consistently says a few words that we have been unable to identify so far. Christi still works with him on sign language, but he only signs four words: water, milk, hurt and more (which he uses as want).
His comprehension abilities are also excellent. Around the 12 month mark, he started to understand most of what we said to him. Of course, we were using simple language. Now he understands more complex commands, as well as a lot of what we say to other people. For instance, if we’re on the phone and we say “I’ll talk to you later,” Keith will start screaming “Bye bye! Bye bye!” We have to be careful about what we say now, and sometimes certain words have to be spelled, such as “We’re having C-A-K-E for dessert.”
We love that he understands what is happening and that we can explain things to him and (sort of) reason with him. We love that he can usually tell us pretty clearly what he wants.
He loves people, including strangers, and will happily talk to just about everybody he encounters.
He’s also still unusually observant and has a longer than normal attention span for a child his age. He doesn’t have much interest in toys. He prefers to entertain himself by trying to figure out how things work, like remote controls and cell phones. He also likes books. Up until about a month ago, he just wanted to look at the pictures and have you tell him what it was a picture of. But now he enjoys being read to. He loves cars and big trucks. One of his first words was “car.” He likes to be outside where he can see assorted vehicles. For about a month, he went through a phase where all he wanted to do was stand on the curb and say “Bye-bye!” to every vehicle that passed by. His favorite books are about trucks, and in books of assorted pictures, he always wants to look at the pages with the vehicles.
An interesting paradox about Keith is that he is curious and adventurous, but not reckless. He loves to go new places and try new things, but he generally will grab an adult’s hand and lead them to where he wants to go and/or to the new thing he wants to try (before he could walk, if he wanted to go somewhere/try something, he’d indicate that he wanted to be picked up and then point in the direction he wanted to be taken). He still prefers to be supervised, and generally doesn’t sneak off — though in the last week or so, he’s started to play a version of hide and seek. He is usually good about listening and following rules, though he has his moments of disobedience.
On the subject of disobedience, the temper tantrums started around 12 months old. Back then, they lasted literally seconds. Now they last longer, but honestly, he doesn’t have tantrums often and they usually are over in less than two minutes. Tantrums are most common after 4:00 pm, and are a good indicator that he’s tired.
Unfortunately, Keith is still a terrible sleeper, waking up several times a night and not napping much. We are trying to get him sleeping through the night, but we seem to have one setback after another: he had a pretty strong reaction to both his MMR and Pentacel vaccinations (which he got a couple months apart), the trip to Paris destroyed his schedule for three weeks, and these last five teeth have all wreaked havoc on his sleep. His sleeping has actually gotten worse instead of better!