We've been home for a few days now, and Carter's still pretty jet-lagged. The first two nights, he woke up at 3:00 and 3:30. He normally sleeps until 8:00 am, so that's actually not too far off from the time zone we were just in. My strategy for getting over jet lag is just to force myself into a regular routine, but that's just not going to work with Carter, obviously! He went to sleep at 6:20 tonight, and I'm pretty sure he's down for the night. Last night he went to bed at 7:30, so I was totally unprepared. He hasn't had a bath and is still in his regular clothes, but oh well.
I've been thinking about how much Carter changed during the trip, and now I finally have a chance to sit down and write about it. He made a huge leap during those three weeks, and I guess we'll never know if it was just a coincidence that it happened during the trip, or if all the new experiences he was having pushed him in that direction earlier than would have happened otherwise. I'm inclined to think the latter, because it was just so dramatic.
Before the trip, I was really concerned about his fine motor skills. He didn't really have a good pincer grasp, he wasn't pointing at objects, and he wasn't really attempting to manipulate small things with his hands much. About a week into the trip, he started doing all of those things, all at once. Now he points constantly, wanting you to tell him the name of the object, or to take him closer to it so he can see it. When he's being carried, he points in the direction he wants to go. He points at things he wants and then signs "want".
His language skills also made a big jump. At some point during the trip, I became aware that he understood a lot of what I was saying, a lot more than he did just a few weeks ago. Maybe he understood before that, but he started responding to what I said in ways that demonstrated he understood, rather than just staring at me blankly. I could suddenly talk to him, rather than just make cutesy cooing sounds at him, and that made him suddenly seem much more like a child than a baby.
He has started soaking up a lot of words lately, which is a lot of fun. He now consistently says "kitty", "doggy", "bird", "wow", "door", and "uh-oh" (he likes that one a lot). He will hold the phone up to his ear and say "hello". He will also repeat words when you say them first, though many of them don't stick so quickly. This morning he said "Good morning" back to me when I said it to him, and he's also said "pool", "window", "outside", and "chair". He babbles a lot, in that toddler way that sounds like they're making up their own language.
In general, he's communicating in a way he didn't a few weeks ago. For example, this afternoon, we were playing on the bed, and he signed "book". I said, "Oh, do you want to read a book now?" and he smiled and giggled, which is the way he says "yes". He always seems so delighted when he is able to tell us what he wants, and it's so sweet! That would have been an unimaginable exchange to me just a few weeks ago, and now it happens all the time. It's really cool!
I think that in addition to him getting better at communicating, I'm getting better at understanding him. Maybe being away from home helped that. In an environment where we didn't have much to do but relax and hang out, we all paid more attention to each other, and that undoubtedly helped us all learn to communicate better. For example, I learned on this trip that Carter can decide when to take a nap and when to go to bed at night on his own. When he's ready, he will let me know by climbing in my lap and snuggling in a very specific way, and he'll then go to sleep very quickly once we snuggle up to nurse. If I try to get him to nap before he's ready, it will be a struggle. He's definitely very independent! It's easier just to wait and let him decide when he's tired enough. That may sound really strange, but it works so well!
Even though he's not walking yet, he's made some progress in his gross motor skills as well. He can get on and off the couch on his own, can climb up and down stairs, and climbs on everything. He's not a risk-taker when he climbs, which is a relief. He's very cautious, and though he will occasionally make a mistake and take a spill, he is generally very much in control. I feel like I can trust him to decide when he's ready to do something like get off of a bed on his own, because he is very careful about it.
He's also started trying to figure out what objects are for. For example, doors are for closing and opening, flatware is for scooping up food, phones are for holding to your ear and talking to, remote controls are for pointing at the TV, and so on. I got him play kitchen recently and put it together today, and I had to go dig up extra screwdrivers because he wanted to help. He would take a screwdriver and stick it in the holes in the toy and twist it around, just like I was doing. It was really sweet!
He likes his kitchen, by the way. It's so cute! I've been meaning to get this one for him ever since he fell in love with it at someone's house a few months ago, and I found it recently at a store. He loves it!
The back is a little living room set-up.
I need to go through his toys and pull out a lot of the baby ones he doesn't play with anymore. We have SO many toys at this point, and it's time to do a little culling...
Anyway, Carter is growing and changing in such amazing ways, and I'm loving every minute of it. I occasionally have moments when I miss my tiny little baby, but when I see the little boy he is becoming, it's so exciting! I can't wait to see what he'll do next. :-)