Well, it’s official. The Mister is quickly becoming a little boy right before our very eyes. No longer content to be catered to, he wants to do everything himself. He’d probably try to change his own diaper if he could get into the diaper basket closet. Lori and I are also continuously amazed at how tough and resilient he is. He has not had an easy go of it, certainly coming on the heels of his bout with pneumonia and time in hospital, but he recovered quickly and was up to his old antics in no time. The photos above and below were taken back home the day after he was discharged.
Noe’s really taken to books this month. I gave Lori a bit of a hard time when she insisted that we devote half of one of our freight footlockers (and a sizable amount of our weight allotment) to heavy, hardbound books in English and Spanish for Noe. I hadn’t spent a lot of time around babies before Noe and didn’t think a baby would have any interest in books until much later. Boy, was I wrong.
More than his one battery-powered toy that plays a handful of classical tunes, or his lion walker, or any of his other toys, his books are what keep Noe quietly entertained longer than anything else. He’ll take one of his books over to a corner and sit turning the pages, one by one. And it’s not like he just turns the pages. The books always appear to be right-side-up, and he seems to have favorites that he returns to over and over. He seems particularly interested in the ones with pictures of babies, particularly the fair skinned ones with light hair. He’s around a lot of other babies at his school, but he rarely interacts with babies that look anything like him. I often wonder what he thinks of all this.
As in months past, we’ve been taking Noe on lots of outings. We notice that he gets antsy if we don’t leave the house for several hours, so we try to do some sort of outing on the days that he’s home, even if it’s just a walk around the neighborhood in the evening.
He almost always faces out now on his carrier. While he will still sleep in his carrier on occasion, he really has to be tired and it can’t be too hot. Gone are the days of being able to have dinner or even drinks with Noe quietly sleeping in the carrier on one of us. He’s just too alert and taken by everything around him. But as long as he gets to face out, he’s still pretty tolerant of the carrier, though this three-hour hike in the Phou Phanang National Conservation Area (above) was testing his limits.
Most of Noe’s clothes are hand-me-downs from his cousin, me or Lori’s brother (yes, our parents saved everything). The rest were baby shower gifts.
We brought to Laos enough sizes of clothes to get him through one year, with his second year clothes waiting back in the U.S. for when we visit later in the year and do a trade. In all of that, Lori and I have bought him two clothing items. Shortly after he was born, I wanted to get him a special onesie, something I picked out just for him. I don’t know why, but at the time it was important. The other item of clothing is his awesome hippie/harem pants (two pics above) that feature prominently on this blog, largely due to both their comfort here in tropics, and their awesomeness, of course.
Some of his toys are also hand-me-downs. This month, we introduced one of my favorite stuffed animals when I was little, this panda bear.
One of Noe’s favorite pastimes is standing upright, by any means. Despite the photo above, he’s not a big fan of being assisted. He likes to find various items around the house (a plastic planter box, bucket, step stool, empty box, empty water cooler bottle) and use it as a walker to walk around the living room. He also does a lot of cruising around the coffee table.
The entire front room is hardwood, with lots of sharp edges — all of our furniture, the floor, and even the wainscoting (wall panels). I was pretty concerned when he started to pull himself up to the coffee table and navigate the gauntlet of hard, sharp-cornered wood furniture, but Lori was far more relaxed about the whole thing. He’s taken a couple of falls and gotten some bumps, scratches and bruises, but seems to have learned from them. He’s very careful around the sharp edges now and has learned to lower himself very gently to the hard ground. Nonetheless, I had our friends from the U.S. bring out some corner bumpers to put over the sharpest edges. I can live with a few bumps and bruises, but stitches are another story — something I’d rather not deal with in a tropical, under-resourced country, if possible.
Noe insists on feeding himself too. When he’s home with me or at school, he is bottle fed (though still fed from mommy when she’s home — and eating a lot of solids too). When it’s bottle time, he doesn’t really let me feed him anymore. As soon as he sees the bottle, he grabs it with both hands and shoves it into his mouth. If he’s feeling particularly sassy, he’ll suck it down and throw it on the ground when he’s finished.
I think I talked last month about how we got a great recommendation for a babysitter from Lori’s boss. We’ve now utilized her services a handful of times and she’s been awesome so far. One thing we’ve noticed, however, is that since then, Noe’s not only discovered the TV remote, but he points it at the TV and presses buttons. We have a TV in our front room, but only really use it to watch the news every now and then after he’s gone to sleep. Like our iPhones, we’d rather him not know what they can do (or better yet, that they’re even there). He’s quite content with his toys and books and exploring the house, and we’d like to keep it that way for as long as possible. But you can imagine our surprise when we looked over and saw Noe, remote in hand, trying to catch up on his favorite Thai soap opera.
Noe’s been loving his lion walker. One of the advantages of living in a place like Vientiane, is while baby stuff is expensive and fairly limited, expat families are constantly coming and going. Not so good for making friends, but great for finding second-hand baby gear. We haven’t gotten a lot, but what we have found has been very useful. In addition to the lion, we were able to get a high chair, and after months of searching, a kiddie corral, pictured later in this post.
For anyone who knows how breastfeeding works, do these photos strike you as odd? I don’t think I’ve seen Lori bottle feed Noe since the first time we tried a bottle on him before leaving for Laos (seven months ago?). You guessed it, another minor crisis that turned our lives upside down for another week. Ugh. I’ll return to that in a later post as well.
In addition to our monthly dose of drama, this month was dominated by festivities. We celebrated Easter as best we could in a Buddhist country with a baby, attending the Palm Sunday service at the Catholic cathedral in the scorching heat.
At the same time, the three of us experienced our first Pi Mai (Lao New Year/ Water Festival), which seemed like it went on for weeks. The biggest festival of the year in Laos, the entire country ground to a halt for five days as the devout cleansed their Buddhas, and everyone else drunk themselves stupid and attacked each other with an amount of water that would make even a large-scale farm owner in California cry.
All the while, it was bloody hot, with an actual high of around 100 F most days (with a heat index of 118 F). Needless to say, Noe spent a lot of time in his skivvies.
And finding other ways to beat the heat.
In his duck tub…
Swinging on the hammock with daddy…
And walking around the air-conditioned mall down the street…
And yes, they actually have a clothing store called “Portland” … in Laos. Having been born in downtown Portland, Noe had no trouble mustering his “Portland” look.
Over the Pi Mai weekend, we took a little road trip south, where we relived one of our favorite cave adventures in all the world, and retraced our motorbike loop, in a pickup truck with Noe.
Noe acquired a fourth tooth in this month — he’s now got two front uppers and two front lowers, excellent for annihilating a piece of banana, but not yet great for filet mignon, which keeps costs down, of course.
I’m not sure what Noe thought of Konglor cave. He’s a man of few words, so unless he cries, grunts or chuckles, it’s really hard to tell what he’s thinking. Terrifying? Boring? Mind blowing? We may never know.
What we do know is that he absolutely loved his matching Pi Mai “Champa” shirt. Can’t you tell?
Occasionally, Noe enjoys imparting blessings on his devout audience of mosquitos.
After ten months, ceiling fans still hold a special place in his heart. This is at a guesthouse. I can’t imagine if we had one in our own house. We’d definitely have to limit his “fan time.” Alright Noe, enough fan time. Go play with your toys.
Noe saw mommy and daddy receiving all sorts of bracelets over the holiday week, and finally got his own at a cave in the jungle. He was very excited about it…for the five minutes we let him play with it until it fell off and went into hiding for the rest of the trip.
Noe also enjoyed his time at a hippie commune…or rustic climber’s resort. It’s all the same to him.