It's hard to believe how much more grown up Gabriel is this trip compared to last trip. The beauty of a blog is that I can easily compare almost exact dates between this year and last year.
This last month has really shown me that development cannot be charted on a perfect linear graph. Much like his sign language Gabriel woke up one morning with three times as many words as he went to bed with the night before and it continues to grow! At this point I've stopped keeping track of how many words he has because it's changing so quickly! He mimics words out of my mouth all day long, to the point where Chris and I have started spelling words out. In addition to mimicking 'random' works from our lips he'll point out objects wanting to know the name of them. Every now and then he throws a few word sentence at us and we don't know how to react. The other night her very articulately said, "ready, set go!" while playing with his cars and Chris and I immediately met eyes asking the same question, "was that really him?" Other words are not so articulate like water, "wawa," and Jesus, "jeeshees," but it's also super exciting and we're so proud of him.
We're starting to really work on him structuring his requests- rather than doing a whine sound followed by signing please we're working one him saying mommy (or da da) which by the way is the cuuuutest thing I have every heard, sounds something like, "mom-mi", then point/say/sign to what he'd like followed by the please. He only uses 'mommy' to get my attention when I'm in a different room, if I'm in eye shot he does a whiny 'uh' which drives me bonkers! Hopefully we'll nip that in the bottom sooner than later.
It's all about Legos, trains, cars, balls, and books right now...
His Lego skills are something else that have really developed this past month. He used to get sort of frustrated with the Legos if we weren't sitting right next to him ready to assist at a second notice but now he'll independently stack up some pretty sweet looking structures, take them apart and do build them up again!
|Lego pit at a mall in Odaiba.|
I'm not sure if he's obsession with trains would be as strong if we weren't in the land of trains but this boy gets so excited every time he sees a train pull up or speed by- he reacts as if it's the first time every time. He loves playing with the train set at Starbucks and the ones we come across in malls. He doesn't own any trains yet but we're already dreaming of buying a Brio set when we get home that we can build upon over the years. Though we don't have trains we do have some cars. Gabriel loves playing with cars and has moved on to the match box size. He plays with them in his stroller, on retaining walls in the park and the car ramp he's borrowing. When it comes to playing cars inside though he insists that you sit right next to him. This doesn't mean you play, you just sit there. A lot of the time he desires just to be right next to one of us. During these times I usually either read his books to him or read my books out loud to him, he doesn't seem to prefer one over the other, just likes hearing me read.
It's a tough love that Gabriel has with sports balls. He is like a bee to honey when it comes to those things! I try to bring a ball to the park but it's never as interesting as another childs'. He's pretty good about it, he doesn't go up and take other children's soccer balls but rather stands near excitedly watching and will follow a ball if kicked but never tries to take it. However, he happily accepts an invitation which usually happens at some point as he joyfully watches. He loves it, but he has gotten his fair share of bumps and bruises while playing, including his first bloody nose. It's all to be expected when he's usually the youngest by at least 5 years in the groups he tries to play with.
Puzzles are also something new in Gabriel's rotation of independent activities. It felt like he woke up one morning (like everything else) and had the patience and the skill to sit and successfully do a puzzle! It's fun to sit with I'm on the couch and work on puzzles together.
Bedtime continues to be one of my favorite times of the day, not because that means I get a break but because he welcomes it so happily. He absolutely LOVES our bedtime routine and is just itching to go to bed when that time comes. To be able to place him in his crib, see him smiling and cheerfully telling us bye-bye as we close the door melts my heart every time. Part of Chris and mine bedtime routine includes sneaking into Gabriel's room and ogling over how precious he is, how blessed and undeserving we are, and question how it's possible to look so peaceful when sleeping.
He now likes and asks to brush his teeth! This has been a year long battle, one that I did not think would last this long so I finally turned to my FB page for help. We were doing everything suggested besides using a children's electric toothbrush because in my mind this was no different than a Sonic Care. Well, it was. As soon as we tried brushing teeth with a children's electric that we went out and bought he loved brushing his teeth and actually requests is throughout the day. We felt so silly... I guess the Sonic Care was a little too powerful and the children's is just right. Thanks to all who helped us with this problem. He also prefers the DoTerra OnGuard toothpaste over the children's which we completely welcome.
Wow can the kid eat! This isn't new though, just noting that it hasn't changed. He's now wearing 2T clothes is the size of a Japanese 2.5 year old. Chris and I have had conversations discussing how we're started to be hesitant to say his age to Japanese people because we're almost half embarrassed how big of a kid he is for his age in this country. It's not just a little bit, it's a 'jaw dropping' difference, yes we have left locals speechless and questioning whether or not we were being honest. I'm just happy he's a boy, speaking form experience it was very difficult being an uncommonly tall girl through adolescence- 5' 11'' at 13 is not normal. He's really big on all forms of dairy and fruit, cheddar cheese and grapes being two of his favorite foods. Gabriel's pretty good at eating most things but doesn't swallow everything- he'll just chew it for 5-10 minutes then spit it out, this is what usually happens to chicken.
He also is good about holding us accountable to not skimping on prayer for meals. If I try to quickly say a prayer with him so he can start eating before us, he won't let go of my hand when I say 'amen' and will instead hold onto it and reach a hand in the direction of Chris until he comes over and joins the prayer. Once we all pray together as a family he'll let go and begin eating. I'm a little sad that he doesn't clap anymore after praying but he is starting to say 'amen' when prompted and thats so sweet to our ears and heart.
We're continuing to try to make the most of these precious months we have with just him before adding an addition. We're excited to give Gabriel a sibling but ending our time with just him is a little bittersweet.