On September 6, 2010, Clark will be eight months old. I was eating lunch with a friend the other day who had a sweet baby girl two days after Clark was born, and she said, "You know our babies are going to be a year old in four months?" And I replied, "Nope, not mine" because I am in serious denial about how fast this little boy is growing up. I don't remember ever being in denial about Jake hitting the eight month mark, and heck, I don't even know how old he is right now. But remembering Clark on the day he was born and then watching him today open a cabinet and pull out all the pots and pans simply makes me want to cry because this year has flown by and I won't ever get it back.
Believe it or not, but I procrastinated writing Clark's seven month update for an entire month, which means I have to combine months seven and eight. This, my friends, is no easy task, because I could write an entire book about the last two months and how much he has grown up. I had to go back and read what I wrote on his six month post just to know where he left off because it seems like he has been at this stage for a lot longer than two months.
I'll start with the big stuff, like crawling. The boy can crawl, and fast. He's a big fan of the belly crawl, or 'commando crawl' as my occupational therapist cousin Kristy coined it, but when he feels like it, he will get on all fours and boogie. Its hard to believe there was even a time in Clark history that he couldn't crawl because it just seems so normal now. He's all over the place and my eyes are on him at all times when he's on the floor, emphasis on at all times. He's already into everything imaginable and anything within arms reach is fair game for Clark, whether it be under the coffee table or in the kitchen cabinets. The first thing he does when we put him on the ground is haul booty to the fireplace, which has become Clark's forbidden fruit. There must be a magnetic force that draws him to the fireplace from any point in the house because there is no stopping him. He wants to touch it soooo bad but we won't let him. He crawls right up to it and reaches out only to be picked up and told 'no' at the last second and taken to the other side of the room. But he's a determined little sucker because we play this game at least 300 times a day. One day, I believe, he will know that he is not allowed to touch it and will honor that, but until then...well, we'll just keep trucking on.
This is why we had to move the swing to the attic. Clark would rather climb it than swing.
Another big thing going on these days is Clark's newfound ability to pull up on anything and everything. He started pulling up on his crib right after he turned seven months old, and we were just dumbfounded that our genius baby could do that. The only problem was when he would he would pull himself up in his crib and not know how to get back down, so he was stuck standing up until one of us would go in and put him back down. We lowered the crib mattress to the lowest setting thinking that would solve the problem, but it didn't even phase Clark the Dark Shark. For what seemed like an eternity, naps were horrible. Horrible. And horrible. He would play the stand up-get stuck-cry until mom or dad came in the room game for at least 30 minutes each time. Eventually, he learned to just let go and he would plop down on his bum, but until that happened, we learned patience in a way like never before. Now that his confidence has gone through the roof when it comes to pulling up on any object possible, there is no stopping him. He will crawl right up to the couch, the coffee table, our bed, a chair, the dresser...you get the point...and use his bulging biceps to pull himself up, look around the room to see who noticed him, and wait for a round of applause. With this new development has come the increased risk of bruises and goose eggs on his head, but so far he's avoided anything worthy of an emergency room visit.
We officially retired the changing table and resorted to the floor for all diaper changes. I'm assuming most babies are like this, but Clark is not in his best mood when he's getting his diaper changed. He flips over, tries to crawl away, wriggles, squirms and kicks, which makes for a very difficult, but definitely necessary, attempt to keep his bum clean. We've become experts at distracting him with toys and random objects and changing the diaper in about 15 seconds from start to finish. The changing table became a hazard a couple of months ago when I laid him down and he immediately rolled off the table and I caught him in mid air. He thought it was hilarious. I, on the other hand, almost had a stroke and needed a diaper of my own.
Speaking of retiring baby items, we've gotten rid of quite a few things that Clark no longer uses or needs. Our neighbor was having a garage sale a few weeks ago and we donated some of Clark's old things and a bunch of unopened wedding presents (from six years ago). You wouldn't think it would be a big deal, but handing over Clark's bouncer seat was torture. It was one of the saddest things I've had to do in a long, long time. When he was born, he sat in his bouncer for probably 20 hours a day. He loved it so much and we loved it because he would sit in it and entertain himself for hours on end. But sooner or later, as anticipated, he grew out of it. When we put him in it, he was pretty much lying on the floor, and he ripped the toys off of it and they are lost permanently. It just made sense to get rid of it and get a new one for baby number two. But tears were definitely shed over the giving away of the bouncer seat. Those were the days when we could put him somewhere and he wouldn't move. RIP, bouncer. You treated us very well.
Clark is starting to get more and more comments that sound something like this: She's beautiful. How old is she. Look at her eyelashes. Her curls are so sweet. I'm not sure what to do about this because I'm against getting him a haircut until his first birthday. But I don't want him to get a complex because so many people keep referring to him as my daughter. Aaron has threatened to take him to the barber more than once, but he knows I will never forgive him if he does. I personally do not think he looks like a girl. I dress him in very masculine clothes and sometimes give him a mohawk to make it clear that he's a manly little boy, but it never fails that a little old lady at Walmart has to tell me what a sweet little girl I have. I always stick up for him and tactfully tell the old lady he's a boy and I want to hurt her for saying that. We are going to shoot for his one year birthday for his first haircut, but according to Aaron, enough is enough.
Clark is very clearly saying Mama now, but it is only when he's crying. He has yet to say it just because he loves me or if he's happy, but I'll take what I can get. I've been hearing it a lot lately...he's been pretty fussy for a while now because he's in the business of growing teeth. He's had his bottom two teeth since he was four months old, and the top two came in right after his seven month birthday. Now he is in the process of growing two on either side of the top two and those have been a DOOZY. They've already cut through his gums, and I can clearly see them, but they are just taking their time. I'm sure its a painful process and I really feel for the little guy, but dadgum, its almost just as painful for us having to deal with the crying. He's also especially clingy (to me) at all times during the day. Sometimes even when Aaron is holding him he reaches out for me and says "Mamamamama." I'm told this is completely normal and he won't be like this when he's 16 years old.
He's actually not grumpy all the time. He's still silly and laughs and smiles at us when we do crazy stuff and as always, Jake makes him light up. He loves when Aaron holds his feet and I hold his arms and we swing him. He loves when Aaron dances in front of him. He loves when I hang him upside down and bounce him. He still loves going on walks around the neighborhood. He loves the nursery at the gym I go to and is always so sweet. He loves his walker more than he loves me. We put him in that thing and he runs ninety to nothing in circles around the house. He treats the walker as his own personal bumper car and rams into everything he can on purpose. He loves his toys, specifically his laptop, and loves to dump out his toy basket at least 20 times per day. And I would be remiss if I failed to mention his complete fascination with tall people.
He loves to eat and will inhale absolutely anything in front of him, except bananas that is. I don't know what it is about bananas, but according to Clark, they are from the devil. I've been giving him whole blueberries, strawberries, grapes, cantaloupe, slices of pears, pieces of ham, cheese, those little baby puff things, biter biscuits, yogurt, and obviously all the regular pureed baby food. We tried to feed him a jar of chicken and rice that was pureed together, and I'm not going to lie, I wanted to throw up at just the smell of it. I wasn't surprised at all when Clark tried to throw it on the ground. I'm trying to move him to regular food but I'm definitely not rushing it. I've learned if I stuff his belly at dinnertime, and convince him to eat an insane amount of food, he will sleep until 7:30 or 8 the next morning. He's still doing great in the sleep department. He goes to bed between 7:30-8 at night and doesn't wake up until sometime in the 7 o'clock hour, which makes me so dadgum proud of the work we put into sleep training him. He still takes three good naps during the day but I think he's getting ready to drop the third. Personally, I love him taking three naps a day because those are the only times during the day I am semi-productive. And by that, I mean take at least two naps.
He went in for his six month check up (at seven months old) and everything looked great. He hadn't gained any weight in a while but the doctor said that is normal because of all the mobility going on these days. While we were in the waiting room waiting to be called back, there was one other mom and kid in there with us and of course, we had to engage in petty small talk about our kids. She saw Clark had a couple of teeth and asked when "we" got "our" teeth in. I looked at her and said "Excuse me?" because I honestly wasn't sure what she was asking. We? Our teeth? My teeth came in about 25.5 years ago, is that what she wanted to know? She clarified by wanting to know when Clark got his teeth, and then proudly told me that "they" got "their" teeth in last week. Apparently it is common to refer to the first person plural when talking about your child, because the next day I overheard a woman say to her child in line at Walmart, "We're going to get in our car seat and go home." I wanted to laugh, but refrained. I tried to follow the woman to her car and watch her get in her car seat, but didn't make it in time.
I've started the process of weaning him from his pacifier. He doesn't get it at all during the day, and I only give it to him when he goes down for naps and bedtime. So far I have been pretty successful, that is until Aaron Rice comes along and puts it in his mouth after Clark makes a peep and then I'm the bad guy who has to take it away. He's becoming less and less dependent on it, which is nice. For the past couple of days, I haven't given it to him when he goes to the nursery at the gym, and the sweet ladies who watch him said that he cried for a couple of seconds at first and then he was perfectly happy the rest of the time. I'm actually surprised he hasn't taken to sucking his thumb, because I hear most infants turn to that when they don't have their paci, but whatever.
Some other things Clark has been up to include more and more babbling, feeding Jake his food, taking baths in the kitchen sink, mimicking what I do with his toys, drinking water, pooping in his diaper at the most inconvenient times, staring at the huge deer mount on his wall, feeding himself finger foods, starting to understand the word 'no', watching Sid the Science Kid, meeting Governor Barbour, going to the nursery at the gym Monday through Friday, playing with his friends and cousins, doing great at the nursery at church, going to his great grandmother's 80th birthday party, attending his aunt and uncle's beautiful wedding, banging on everything, chewing on and slobbering over everything, wearing a size three diaper and 6-9 month clothes, wearing his sneakers when he goes outside, and torturing Jake, to name a few.
He's definitely getting older, as if I haven't established that already. One of the ways I'm constantly reminded of this is because he won't let me rock him anymore, and it makes me want to cry. I could never describe how unbelievably bad I miss it. Part of our bedtime ritual is reading a story out of his Jesus Storybook Bible, so I put him on my lap and read while Aaron tries to keep him from eating the book. Sometimes he'll rest his head on my chest and listen but thats unusual. After the story, we pray while he tries to eat anything within reaching distance. It was after we prayed that I used to just hold him and rock him and talk to him as he started to doze off. It was such a sweet time that I miss terribly. Now he's squirming around so much that he almost lunges right off my lap. Its sad, really it is, so my solution to this is to have more babies. Aaron doesn't seem to understand my logic.
It was during Clark's seventh month that I realized how much I love staying home with him everyday, but also how dadgum difficult and exhausting it is sometimes. I wouldn't trade it for the world because I get to see all of Clark's firsts and really get to see him grow, but I am a lot more tired at the end of the day now than I was working a 9 hour day office job. It is physically and emotionally exhausting keeping him busy and entertained during the day, and my arm muscles are bigger than Hulk Hogan's now because I spend 90% of the day holding a 19 pound infant on my hip. I have to get creative to keep him busy during the day, which is where the beauty of a routine comes in. These past couple of months only solidified in my mind that babies really thrive on a routine, even a very basic one, and when taken off of the routine, its obvious.
Crawling, standing up, and feeding himself are probably the biggest baby milestones he's conquered in the past two months, but there are so many new subtle things I notice everyday that show he's turning into a pre-toddler. For example, he can get bashful sometimes when I'm holding him and somebody says something to him. He will turn toward me and bury his face in my shoulder and then look back at the person and give them the biggest smile possible. Or if he is in his walker and wants to be picked up, he will come up to you and lift his arms up and stare at you. And if I'm holding him and he wants his daddy to be holding him, he will just lunge toward Aaron and then smile because he got what he wanted. I realize these are not a big deal, but I remember seeing other babies do them and thinking they were so cute, and now Clark is doing it. These little things just prove he is growing fast, I guess.
Once again I will repeat myself by saying the past two months have by far been the most fun out of all eight months of his life. I can't imagine it getting better than this, but people tell me all the time I haven't even seen the fun part yet. His personality is booming, he is learning new things all the time and in my opinion, he is a very smart little chunk. And he is so dadgum cute it hurts to look at him sometimes. Aaron and I tell each other several times a day that we are so blessed to have him. We really are. Clark taught us how to be parents and he's been a very fun and easy going baby to have around. I always have to remind myself to take tons of pictures and video footage of him and to try my best to keep this blog updated because each little stage is so temporary and I don't want to forget one thing about this time in our lives. I have no idea what to predict for his nine month update. He could possibly start the beginning stages of walking, but I'm not sure yet. All I know is that the next month is going to be awesome and I'm open to anything. In the meantime, I'm going to try to put more effort into the ole blog. Its been pretty abandoned lately, and I blame the laziness, not Clark. So now you are going to start reading about the incredibly exciting things going on in our lives, such as my continued attempt at losing baby weight, the contents of Clark's most recent diaper, and Aaron's 14th Amendment Class. I'll spare you the details on that last one. Trust me, its for your own good. So get excited about the future of this blog.