September 1st: 10 months and feeling fine
... and by BIG Ben, I mean TALL Ben. 29 1/4 inches tall. Ben holds steady in the 75th percentile for height and is slightly smaller than average for weight in the 30th percentile at 19 lbs, 15 oz as of his 9 month check-up. No shots this time, but the youngest documented blood-drawer graced Ben with her presence to take some of his precious blood out of his precious pointer finger. She looked fresh out of her phlebotomy class at AB Tech and made me really nervous when she approached my unassuming little boy with a needle. Luckily she didn't screw up too bad, but Ben was very unhappy about his interaction with her.
Ben and The Turners have been enjoying a few consecutive weekends at home. We haven't traveled anywhere, engaged in ridiculous "home improvement" projects or been otherwise occupied with weekend warrior activities as we've become accustomed to. Instead, we've hung out close to home, played with friends and enjoyed spending time together in a quiet, non-eventful manner. It's been great. Last weekend, Ben had a playdate with his buddy, Levi, at Carrier Park and the two mutually enjoyed each other with no meltdowns from Ben "Sensitive Scorpio" Turner. As always, Levi was into everything and exploring the world around him with no worries while Ben observed quietly, secretly taking notes on how to be naughty when he got home. They went to the playground to swing, played on a blanket in the middle of the park, and were quiet passengers in their "3 wheeler" strollers while their mommies burned fat and gossiped.
August 30th: Levi shows Ben how Ball is played
We've also taken advantage of our very local Patton Park in Hendersonville and enjoyed the scenery out here. The Turners push Ben around and around on the path so he can enjoy the ducks, the pond, people playing soccer, and the skateboarders that hang around the skate park all summer. He really isn't too impressed with most of that stuff, but is fascinated with the boys on skateboards. The last time we went, we sat in front of the skatepark and watched the kids skate around the course until Mommy and Daddy got bored. Ben, however, never got bored. His gaze darted from one side of the park to the other, watching the colorful shirts and skateboards whiz by and listening to the constant chatter and wheels jump up and slam on the pavement over and over. We really encouraged him to be into the ducks, but they just weren't as cool.
August 23rd: Pretending to care about flowers in Patton Park
BIG Ben is becoming a more adventurous eater at every meal. He is finally tolerating chunky solids well enough to start eating table food regularly, so we've begun to wean him off of those delicious jarred Gerber selections and have started adding things like scrambled eggs, ground beef, fish sticks, yogurt, and sliced fruit to his high chair tray. When he tries something new for the first time, he makes a face like it's poisonous and chews cautiously. Once he swallows the first bite, he'll either open his mouth like a baby bird in anticipation of another yummy bite, or lean back and push up in his high chair as if he is trying to escape the torture. If he really hates it, he'll shake his head "NO" and scream. That makes for a long feeding session with food in the nostrils, hair, and all over the back wall.
Smiling because he doesn't know how bad this chicken sausage tastes yet:
At 10 months, Ben is winding down his loving relationship with formula and the bottle. We are hoping to make the bottle disappear by his first birthday, but this means he needs to start drinking from the sippy cup instead of chewing ferociously at the sippy part. This will take a lot more practice, but I'm optimistic that we'll be able to have our ridiculous bottle collection boxed up and in the attic by November.
The end of August brought an end to the daily visits to Gram's house for rounds of knocking over blocks and watching Sesame Street on demand. His last week was filled with long days because Mommy had so much going on at work, so he got a little extra Gram for the road. He misses her lots, and smiles and giggles every time we ask him "Where's Gram?" as if he expects her to come around the corner. He visited with her this weekend and was all smiles when she whisked him away to play with him and feed him treats out of Gram's kitchen. They have both had a busy week apart, however. Gram is catching up on the last 8 months of her life, and Ben is spending his mornings with Miss Crystal and Miss Melanie at Mud Creek. On September 1st, Ben started his first day of school as a Mud Puppy, and had a fabulous day. He was nervous at first, but by the time Mommy came to pick him up at noon, he was already a natural, playing on the floor with Miss Melanie and some new toys. I peeked my head around the corner to spy on him and he caught me immediately, smiled real big, and looked down at his toys again like "Nice to see you - could you come back in an hour?". He spent every day of the week getting acquainted with his new surroundings and other baby friends, and looked genuinely happy every day when I picked him up.
September 1st: Totally excited to be wearing a backpack
In the afternoons, he helps me with paperwork or tags along on visits if my clients want to see him. He came to the sheltered workshop with me on Thursday and brightened everyone's day with his smiles. Ben's presence has such an incredible impact on people with disabilities. It's amazing to watch people who would otherwise not acknowledge anything or anyone brighten up and approach Ben in order to interact with him. Generally, Ben has a little "stranger danger" when we are out in public and will sometimes cry or complain if someone reaches out to grab him. However, he is completely content with being touched and loved by people at the workshop. The feeling is definitely mutual. On days that I visit and I don't have Ben, I get approached by 30 people with the same question: "Where's your son?"
Summer is drawing to a close and Fall is in the air. The temperature is falling (ever so slightly), the days are becoming shorter, and the fields are being harvested. While I was pregnant, I watched a corn crop close to our house grow. Planted in spring, the corn grew higher and higher every day and I knew that once it was harvested and plowed, it meant that Ben would be arriving soon. I told Jacob one night close to harvest time that I had been watching this corn grow and couldn't wait until it was gone because it meant that I would be closer to meeting my son. The corn growing season coincided with my fetus growing season. It's funny what you remember from when you were pregnant. Anyway. Today the corn is tall and ready for harvest which means Fall is upon us and my son is weeks away from his first birthday. Hard to imagine we've gone through four seasons so quickly and are discussing birthday party plans already. It's been an amazing journey so far, and I totally look forward to watching the corn grow with Ben every year and be reminded of that first summer full of anticipation and excitement for what was to come.