Celebrating 18 Months of Judson

Judson is 18 months old today.

Marker mouth and busted lip, my heart is always with him even though apparently my eyes aren't always on him!
Marker face and busted lip, my heart is always with him even though apparently my eyes aren’t always on him!

I have some words that need to be used about him today, so thanks for obliging me.

I have one picture of him hanging on the wall in our house. Well, two if you count the one of him in my belly. (I know, it doesn’t count. #hangshead)

I adore him in a fierce way that even after four years of loving his big sister with all my heart, still surprises me.

This first part of his life has all been a sweet surprise, really. The last half of my pregnancy with him was a very tough season for me. We had just moved to the Middle East, which meant new house, new country, new culture, new friends; my husband started a new job, I started a new job that was a poor fit for me, my daughter was smack in the middle of her Terrifible* Twos plus adjusting to all our changes plus she was going to pre-school part time and I was just pretty much hot and tired and tired all the time. (Yes, I know I wrote it twice. I was very tired.)

Then, Judson was born.

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Yesterday. Or so.

With him came a peace and a sense of being home. My job ended, Ayla turned three (hello threenager though!), and stayed home with us. We were finally getting adjusted to our new normal. It wasn’t so hot and though I was still tired, I was getting used to it.

As newborns go, he was perfect. Healthy, a good eater, a great sleeper, he’s been a mama’s boy from day one. Nursing and cuddling with him was the salve to the soul wounds I bore after a day of battling the threenager’s will. Oh, I felt terrible for preferring his company to hers sometimes, but that’s how it was.

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I’m thrilled he got his daddy’s blue eyes. We’re still waiting to make the call on his hair. He was bald for so long and I secretly wanted him to never get hair because I could still pretend he was a newborn while kissing his soft head. He did get hair though, and it’s curly and light brown in the back and straight and strawberry blonde on top. It’s a strange mullet to be sure, but I can’t bring myself to cut the curls off just yet.

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He’s hitting his stride as a toddler. He’s hilarious and sweet. He comes running full speed at me with his mouth wide open. That means he wants a kiss. He spins himself around in circles until he falls down when his “Da-TE” comes home. If anyone he deems a stranger tries to touch him without his approval, he screams, but he’ll high-five and say “hai” and “buh buh” to everyone.

He’s discovering the ineffective use of tantrums, that is standing in the middle of the room screaming while signing “please” with no context for the trigger, then finding a hard surface or corner to stuff his face into while continuing to scream and give no indication of what he wants. Unlike his sister, who did the classic “throw head back on floor and flail arms” tantrum, he lowers himself carefully to the floor face first and does a sort of dolphin kick thing with his legs.

He finds things to climb on and get into that I never had to worry about with Ayla. He makes me question my parenting methods every single day, which is turning me into a better mother. He loves being read to as long as it’s the same three books that have balls in them, twenty times each. He wants to be attached to me at all times but is learning that he can survive 3 ½ hours at daycare without me. (Summer camp for the win! Triple digit temps here in the summer plus nothing open during Ramadan is a recipe for crazy-making if they don’t get out of the house!)

He quickly preferred his thumb to a pacifier as an infant, and now his favorite way to soothe himself is clenching a blanket or part of my shirt in the palm of his hand with his thumb in his mouth. It’s pretty sweet and endearing right now, so I try not to think of the ensuing battle to break him of the habit down the road.

I’m brushing up on my Honest Toddler reading, to navigate the next year or so (Bunmi Laditan, creator of HT, is a genius who saved my sanity when Ayla was a toddler.) For those who aren’t familiar with the Honest Toddler blog, I’ll link to some of my favorite  posts after this.

A year from now, we’ll be turning his life upside down, moving him to the U.S., away from the only home he’ll have known, away from his beloved nanny, away from a land of adoring strangers and to a land of SO MUCH FUN (libraries, parks with grass, cats he can pet, Chick Fil A), he has no idea (maybe I’m a little excited!). I don’t know what the months will look like in between now and then, but I know I’ll look back at today and it will be a blink. Five seconds ago he was a squishy newborn and now he’s a kiss-assaulting, mystery-induced tantrum throwing, heart-stealing toddler. Every moment he’s been here, he’s made my world a better place to be. He’s my son, my heart, my buddy, my gift, my fountain of praise in the desert.

Baby born in the desert loves the sand
Baby born in the desert loves the sand

He doesn’t have a lot of words yet, so that’s why I’m using a few of mine to share the joy that he is. Thanks for reading!

*Terrifible- Part Terrible, Part Terrific. Coined here, use at will.

Here are some of my favorite Honest Toddler pieces:

“Up”

I just wanted to ask: How much do I weigh? Is it 300lbs like I suspect because lately it seems as if you don’t want to give me up. I mean up in your arms the way nature intended not in a baby carrier meant for babies. Being close to you all of the time is one of my love languages and I’d like to express it more often.

http://www.thehonesttoddler.com/2012/06/up_14.html

“Recipes”

Dinnertime is hard for all of us and I know why: you have terrible recipes. I’ve compiled several of my favorites below. Please print them out and put them on a fridge using a magnet. When it’s time for cooking, follow it and don’t get creative.

http://www.thehonesttoddler.com/2012/07/recipes_26.html

“The Woman” (tear jerker)

It has recently come to my attention that the woman and I are indeed, not the same person. She is one, and I am another. This news has not been easy to come to terms with and I’m still not sure if I believe it.

http://www.thehonesttoddler.com/2012/06/the-woman_23.html

“Fruit”

Fruit tastes good and is good for you. My favorite fruits are apples, bananas, red popsicles, blueberries, and pudding. Toddlers, eat your fruit but don’t compromise your values.

http://www.thehonesttoddler.com/2012/08/fruit_11.html

Oh man, there are so many good ones. Here’s one more:

“Games”

Before we start our game, ask yourself, “Have we played this before?” If we have, we’re going to do it THE EXACT SAME WAY. I hope you remember the rules.

http://www.thehonesttoddler.com/2012/08/games_7.html