Have you ever watched a baby learn about his or her world? It’s terribly fascinating. Duplo’s in a stage right now where he’s trying to figure out what things are and why we do certain “rituals” with them. He’ll hold telephone-like things to his ear, hit himself on the head with a brush over and over, make sniffly noises into tissues, wipe whatever surface he can find with anything that resembles a rag, and point at nothing in particular in books while babbling. He has no idea what these things are for, so he plays with them the way he sees us use them, and I’m guessing he’s either hoping to obtain insight in this way, or else he’s desperate to fit into our family by doing what we do in hopes of gaining our approval.

Everything he does is a little window into his mind, yet so much is a mystery and will remain so until he learns to speak well. Even then, those who are fluent in their language don’t understand one another very well most of the time.

Meanwhile, Lego is continuing to figure out how the world works, but obviously at a more sophisticated level. The other day he asked me whose tummy his babies would be in when he’s a daddy. I feel like I’m answering “how” and “why” questions much of the day, and each one teaches me a little bit about what Lego knows and how he thinks the world works. How exciting it must be to be trying to figure out the mystery that is the world, let alone the intricacies of human behavior and culture. To come into the world knowing nothing and watch these big people around you in order to gain clues as to how to become a person. No wonder Duplo wanders around the house nowadays with an impish grin on his face, smiling in awe and delight at nearly everything.

There’s nothing like a child to help you remember what awe and delight are.

Pudding Cake

I’m too lazy to make cakes from scratch, but ones from mixes are always so dry and airy that they just don’t satisfy. So yesterday, as I was making a cake, I added half a package of chocolate pudding mix and the appropriate amount of milk to my cake batter. It took a little longer to bake, but it turned out so amazing that I will be doing this every time from now on. Oh my word.

*dies and goes to heaven*

The healthy eating dilemma

It seems like the criteria for eating healthy has gotten a lot stricter in the past ten years. Before, if you ate a variety of things that included fruits and vegetables, you were good. Now, you need to worry about whole grains, sodium, trans fats, organic produce, “whole foods,” and more. I feel like there’s no way I could actually eat enough of the foods I’m supposed to eat and not too much of the foods I’m not supposed to eat and have any of it actually resemble real meals, let alone tasty ones.

At the same time, I’ve been too lax about our eating habits lately. I like vegetables, but I have had a hard time figuring out which ones Duplo will be able to eat without teeth and which ones the rest of the family actually likes. Also, we mostly eat junk food (hot dogs, chicken nuggets, ramen, etc.) for lunch and almost always cold cereal—which Lego almost never eats much of—for breakfast. And then Lego snacks on fruit snacks, goldfish crackers, and animal crackers throughout the day. It’s gotten bad. There have been many nights where I’ll think back over the day and what Lego actually ate (as opposed to what I offered) and feel ashamed.

So I’m taking control and taking responsibility. I can’t afford organic, and I’m not totally sold on the idea that it’s that much better anyway. We do buy whole wheat bread and cereals, so that much is fine.

On Monday, I researched sample healthy menus for toddlers. I figured if I bought foods Duplo could and would eat, the rest of us would probably be able to eat them too. I then made up menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for two weeks. I made sure every meal included fruits and/or vegetables. After making up the menus, I went on a huge shopping trip and bought everything I would need to make the meals for two weeks.

The biggest change has been with our breakfasts. Instead of cereal day after day, I have made pumpkin muffins, pancakes, and oatmeal. Yeah, it’s a little more work. There are more dishes to wash afterwards. However, I’ve enjoyed eating breakfast so much this week that it’s totally worth it. My favorite, I think, was the day when I made oatmeal with blueberries, peaches, and a little cream. Yesterday, we made “flag pancakes” with strawberry jam, blueberries, and whipped cream. Lego thought that was a lot of fun. I used some whole-wheat flour in the pancakes. They turned out well, so I’ll definitely do it again.

Anyway, I’m feeling optimistic about the whole thing. It feels good to be intentional about things and not just let the day go wherever it wants to and then not like where you end up. If that makes sense.

And now for a random anecdote. My sister, Kenneren, told me that she had a friend once who made “chocolate chip cookies.” Instead of sugar, the cookies contained honey. Instead of oil, they had applesauce. Instead of white flour, wheat flour and oatmeal. And instead of chocolate chips, they had blueberries.

I’m sorry. Maybe they were good, but they were not cookies, let alone chocolate chip cookies. I think that’s the point where healthy eating goes too far.

One year old

Duplo had his birthday on Friday. I wanted to share a few things about him so that when he asks what he was like as a baby, I’ll be able to find this and share with him.

1. Duplo is a sweetheart. He loves his family and will tolerate quite a lot from us, especially Lego, and especially if Lego is laughing. The look on his face is often, “Is this supposed to be fun? I’m not totally happy with it, but Lego’s laughing, so I guess it’s a game and I’ll laugh too.”

2. Duplo loves walking and climbing. He can climb up onto Lego’s bed, and from there, he could reach the pictures on the wall above it (well, until we hung them higher). He once climbed up onto a little picnic/sand table in our back yard. I turned around from pulling weeds to see him on top of it! I think my heart stopped for a moment.

3. Duplo likes lights. If you ask him where the light is, he’ll tilt his head way back to see it and point. If you ask him where Mommy or Daddy is, he’ll point to the light. We’re still working on that.

4. Duplo is a little carpet cleaner. If there is something on the carpet, he will find it. And put it in his mouth. And then bite whoever tries to remove it. Dozens of times every day. I will be so glad when he outgrows this stage. The grossest thing he’s put in his mouth so far is a pillbug/roly poly.

5. Duplo still likes to growl from time to time. He also says “muhmuh” meaning “milk” and “mum-mum” (yum-yum) meaning “solid food.” He said “dada” a few times when we were sure he meant Daddy, but I haven’t heard it for a couple of weeks.

6. Duplo loves his bath. Further, he gets really annoyed if anyone is in the bath or shower and he isn’t allowed to get wet too.

7. When Duplo pushes cars around like Lego does, he makes sound effects. We’re not sure if this is an innate skill that all young boys possess or if he learned it from watching his older brother.*

8. Duplo is starting to mimic our actions with certain objects around the house. He’ll brush his hair with a brush, hold a phone to his ear and babble into it, rub things with a rag, and scribble with a pen. The cutest ever was the other day when he pulled a piece of toilet paper off the roll, held it to his nose, and “blew” his nose into it, in and out.

9. Duplo is still not sleeping through the night. I’m hoping part of that has to do with frequent illnesses. At his one-year checkup today, we found out that he once again has an ear infection. He was throwing up over the weekend. Last week (or was it two weeks ago?) he had a bad cold. When will he just be healthy? Poor little guy.

10. Duplo can follow a few basic commands, though only when he wants to. These include “Come here,” “No,” “Don’t eat it,” and “Wave bye bye.” Today, he was playing with a pen and paper, so out of curiosity, I asked him, “Can you color?” He immediately squatted down, put the pen to the paper, and scribbled, then looked up at me for praise. Smart boy!

Here are some pictures from the birthday celebrations, for those of you who haven’t seen them yet:


the birthday boy


birthday cake and candle


walking in new birthday clothes


looking at a light

*Some obstetricians have reported hearing “vroom vroom” sounds when trying to listen to boy fetuses’ heartbeats.