Last night, instead of rocking Cruz to sleep in the living room recliner, I snuck back to his room, sank into his Great Grandma J's off-white recliner, and rocked my boy in the quietness I so often neglect. In a room with dimmed lights, no television, and a blanket I once used to swaddle my tiny one just over one year ago, I was able to drink in the silence and drink in this boy who is almost too big for my arms. I sat in the silence and tried to memorize his face as if I was studying for this great big exam in the course called, Life. Soon, I drifted off into those first weeks of parenthood, the weeks of figuring things out. Nights spent breastfeeding my little one in the middle of the night, listening to the Beatles Rock-a-Bye CD, feeling as if I was the only one up in the whole entire world. Life, especially parenting, is all about stages. And while they change about the time it seems you've finally figured them out, it's a lot about giving up the control and enjoying the good that comes with each. But some things, like the look of your baby's face as they sleep in the quietness of the night is one stage that never gets old.
October came and went about as fast as Cruz's birthday party seemed to go. Now, we're left with November, the remains of the first snowfall, and a very active one year old boy. Cruz is morphing from a baby to a toddler every day. He's active and he's persistent, and he's definitely all boy! Grace is definitely not a quality in Cruz's repertoire! He does everything with a sort of roughness to it, from turning the pages of a book, to banging a drum at Kindermusik. It seems I'm saying phrases like 'be gentle, Cruz' on a daily basis, and I'm starting to see some evidence in the nature side of the nature vs. nurture debate--- especially when I witness Cruz interact with his cousin, Charly.
The other night, my family got together at my brother's for dinner. Charly, being about eight months older than Cruz, does everything with a hint of grace to it, from picking up her strawberries with her index finger and thumb, to stirring her play pots and pans as if she learned from Rachel Ray herself. Cruz, on the other hand, reminds me of those crazy chefs from Iron Chef America, the ones who complete every task with a zealousness or eagerness to it. I've rarely seen him take a bite without shoving his entire fist in his mouth, and lately, he's taken to playful head-butting and what we call, 'crawl tackling.' If you get in a Cruz crawling position, he'll playfully and fervently charge toward you as fast as his knees will take him, butting heads before toppling over sideways. A few times, he even tried this escapade with his cousin on Saturday, to which Charly thought was pretty funny. It's very very fun to watch the two of them interact, and I'm sure this will continue to blossom.
Cruz is doing lots of new things, and has such funny quirks that leave us laughing out loud on a daily basis. Our month started with a not-so-fun doctor's appointment-- by far the worst one yet. At one year, they are far more aware than the appointments prior, not to mention they get a total of FOUR shots, and the worst yet, a finger prick! By the time we actually got to the shots, Cruz was exhausted from crying and scared to death of the stethoscope, scale, and ear probe. Speaking of scale, our little linebacker is growing! Despite his noticeable decrease in appetite, he weighed in at a whopping 24 pounds, 6 ounces, and measured at 31 inches long! He's above the 50th percentile in both, 68th in weight, 75th in height. While the finger prick and preventative care measures were catastrophic at first, they were nothing a good nap and McDonalds Happy Meal couldn't cure.
Cruz is starting to get a little mind of his own when it comes to eating, and decides very quickly whether he likes or dislikes something. When he has something he likes, he wastes no time eating it, however, if he doesn't like something, he'll immediately spit it out, then proceed to take his fingers and scrape his tongue as if to remove every last taste. He can spot a new food a mile away, and will casually ignore us as we spoon up a bite. He's a big fan of fruit, and could put down a banana or an entire pineapple in a single sitting. He loves his grains, loves all 'breakfast type food,' and is a big fan of green beans, yet, pretty inconsistent when it comes to meat, veggies, and cheese. We keep persisting, however, keep picking up unwanted pieces of food that find their way on our kitchen floor, and occasionally find a new go-to food. Most recently, it's my mom's Ah-mazing cheesy potatoes. Cruz was a very big fan.
As I said earlier, Cruz is a huge fan of fruit, and has lately taken to eating his fruit as an adult. The other day, I gave him a bite of my very crispy Honeycrisp apple. He grinned as he gnawed through a piece of apple flesh, then promptly demanded 'moh.' Now, every time we open the fridge door in proximity to Cruz, he grabs an apple out of the crisper drawer, lifts it up to us and demands 'moh.' The other night, however, Cruz took matters in his own hands. While we were busy cooking dinner, Cruz was busy biting through his very own apple. With both hands clasped tightly around the fruit, he knew exactly what to do, as if he's been eating apples for weeks.
Our last can of formula is gone, now replaced with numerous sippy cups of whole milk. Cruz still gets a bottle before bed, but I guess it's time to start weening this, too. It's hard to let go of this final 'baby' thing...the next thing I know we'll be looking for a big boy bed! I recently realized just how 'old' my boy was getting when I noticed that many of the cute footie sleepers are only made through size 12 months! I've found myself fanatically searching through baby aisles and kids' catalogs, just checking to see if sleepers come in Cruz's size. I've had some luck, but secretly miss those tiny button up one pieces in the wintertime.
Cruz is demonstrating lots of new learning and making many new discoveries. At daycare, he gets to participate in a range of fun learning activities, from singing songs at Monday chapel, to finger painting, crafting, and having dance parties! Most recently, Cruz debuted as an animal on Noah's Ark in his daycare's annual children's program. While he was allowed a speaking part yet, he did look awfully cute on stage. In a room full of proud parents, my heart skipped a beat when Cruz picked us out in the crowd and smiled an adorable toothless smile. I even managed to get it on camera!
Cruz loves his toys, loves music, and loves to DANCE. He takes his dancing very seriously, and it's the cutest thing to watch his concentration face as he attempts to move to a beat. He's a big fan of Kindermusik, a big fan of his play piano at home, and a big fan of Raffi. I love this characteristic, and hope he continues to demonstrate a love for music as he ages. Now, if only we could get him into books!
Cruz recognizes a lot of words and phrases, and has a bank of about five he uses accurately and consistently. He says, 'HI,' all the time, and says it at the cutest times. He also says, 'kitty,' 'mama,' 'dad,' and 'moh,' for 'more.' When he's not saying anything coherent, Cruz is talking---all the time. He jabbers to himself, will have entire conversations with you when he's about to do something he knows he shouldn't, and tries to reason with you when he does do something he shouldn't. We have these conversations when Cruz is about to climb the stairs, throw his pacifier in the trash can, or unravel yet another roll of toilet paper.
Finally, the walking thing. About three weeks ago, Cruz took his first legit steps. He stands by himself all the time, can squat to pick up a toy and end up back in standing position after, and will walk back and forth from me to Beau. We are not, however, into the official walking stage yet. For now, crawling is Cruz's chief form of mobility. I'm not exactly sure what's holding him back, but balance is definitely not a strong suit right now!
Our boy at 13 months is a fun one! He giggles at himself, and likes to make people laugh. He gives big, wet, slobbery kisses on demand, but gets annoyed when I ask for them too much. He knows that blankets signal sleep time, and continues to sleep for 10-12 hours every night. He imitates everything, can be defiant at times, but can turn on the charm in seconds. Beau and I find ourselves laughing in astonishment everyday at the quirks and charms of our little man.
Happy Lucky 13, Cruz Bennett! We love you :)