Austen finally turns 13 months old today. I say "finally" because there've been so many developments and hilarious moments since the twelve-month update that I've been dying to write this one for at least two weeks. I wish now that I had started writing earlier—I have so much to say that it'll be a race to get this post in by midnight. (Thank god for back-dating!) I'll put the best news up front: This month has been infinitely easier than the last, mostly because I finally adapted to the New State of Things (which of course will become the Old State of Things in another month or two).
I never wrote about Austen's first birthday celebration in any detail, and since it started off this month, now seems like a good time to do so. We ended up moving the party from our house to a local hotel because we realized there was no way we'd be able to fit the 30 people who'd rsvp'd into our living room for the Toljabee event. [We still can't believe our luck in finding a hotel that had a room available on a Saturday in December at all, much less one that was perfect for us in every way. A shout-out to the Hotel Sofitel in Philadelphia for the fabulous space, food, and especially the service.]
Austen didn't seem to mind being dressed in the traditional Tol-bok—he even kept the hat on for the entire ceremony and then some, to my astonishment—though I found out later from my mother-in-law that I put the clothes on incorrectly. Apparently the blue vest was supposed to go over the peach jacket. Oops. In any case, it was fun to see Austen's reaction to the Tol table and to the audience arrayed around it (he kinda freaked at first). Once he stopped clinging to Al for protection, he actually made his way around the table by himself (tradition dictates that the father is to walk the child around the table, and that dad is also supposed to put the things he wants the child to grab closest to the edges, where the kid can reach them easily). He picked up the knife first, indicating that he'll be a good cook, and the caligraphy set second, indicating that he will be a scholar. Perhaps the combination means that he'll be a cookbook author? We're not sure. Only the first and second items grabbed have any real significance, but in case you're curious, he did pick up a rice cake—and promptly throw it on the floor—next. He steadfastly ignored all of Grandpa Cho's encouragements, both verbal and physical, to pick up the money.
Austen started going to the Please Touch Museum at the end of last month, but I think we more than got our yearly membership's worth in the month of December alone. Early in the month shopping was his favorite activity, but Al reports that on his last couple visits he didn't want to shop much at all. (This could be because I've started taping up empty butter boxes and soup cans in our own kitchen, and he got a little shopping cart for Christmas, so he no longer needs to leave home to indulge his taste for groceries.)
Austen was lucky enough to discover snow this month, and he totally loved it. It turns out that our back deck is the perfect spot for making snowballs and snowangels (the snow collects really well out there, and there's no chance that he'll run into the street while we're playing).
I've been keeping a list of the quirky behaviors that Austen exhibits, but I realize now I don't have any photos of him doing these things—either because they're noises, or because I'm in close as a participant, or because a still photo just wouldn't do it justice. Case in point: the Kramer Entrance. This is Austen's way of bursting into the master bathroom when we've forgotten to latch the door completely. He sweeps the door wide with his right arm and then leaps into the room, planting his feet like a superhero. If one of us is in the shower or on the toilet, we'll greet him the way Jerry Seinfeld did Newman. "Hello, Austen."
Other items on the list include the way Austen uses one of his three words to prove that he knows how the Sheep in a Jeep story goes (I say, "Beep beep! Sheep in a Jeep on a hill that's steep!", he yells, "UH-OH!", and I continue, "the Jeep won't go!"); the way he'll stop and boogie to anything that has the faintest of beats; the way he puts things in my mouth for safekeeping (not the smartest of moves); the way he's finally learned to "hand it to Mommy" when he doesn't like something he's been given to eat insead of throwing it on the floor; and the way he rearranges all the cupboards and drawers. He especially likes to pull things out of my nightstand, and as a consequence several medicines have gone missing recently. (Luckily, we found the most expensive prescription ones; the children's Motrin is still MIA.) There are socks in my t-shirt drawer and tubes of Lansinoh in the laundry, so "IT. COULD. BE. ANYWHERE." is a common refrain around our house these days.
One behavior I do have a photo of is the "pot/stirring fascination". I was making Austen some stuffin muffins one morning when he asked me to pick him up. I did, and then continued stirring my stuffing mixture. He reached for the spatula and gave it a few turns. In the interest of speeding the muffin-baking process, I handed him a pot and a wooden spoon and set him down on the floor. At that moment, our little chef was born. (Or maybe it was when he picked up the knife at his Toljabee?) He pulls pots and pans out of drawers, begs for the ones that are in the upper cupboards, likes trying out new utensils, and knows how to sample his pretend creations. He's taken to setting his pots on the ottoman by the front door and jiggling and stirring them like he's standing over a stove.
Austen's looking more and more like a little boy and less like a baby, and I'm starting to notice the resemblance to Al more. Everyone—especially members of my family—have always said that Austen "looks just like a little Al!", but until now I haven't really seen it. To me he looks like a mix of me and Al, plus a hefty dose of Original Austen. The top photo below, however, made me change my mind about whom he favors most. As for his laugh, however—well that's pure Grandpa Cho.
The other big event—after the birthday party—for this thirteenth month was Austen's second Christmas. He was less than a month old for his first (and consequently, he slept through most of it), so this was the first Christmas where he really got to open presents and enjoy the day. He received several books (including Sheep Out to Eat, two Carl the rottweiler stories, two Eric Carle color books, and an Applebee the Cat pop-up), a scary stuffed monster from his cousin Henry, a Thomas the Tank Engine toy (the first of the Thomas toys that I've found clever and fun—pressing on the conductor's head makes the train go), and his two favorites: the little shopping cart, and a Mozart music box. He was also rather enamored of the atrocious counter-spinning hubcabs on the giant remote-controlled F-150 truck that Henry received from his grandparents, but as that was Henry's favorite present, most of the time Austen had to admire the hubcaps from afar.
Last, but not least, Austen is finally getting some more teeth. They all seem to be coming in at once, which has made for a few feverish nights recently, but he's been such a champion sleeper for the past couple months that it's really not that big a deal. Most notable are the two front teeth, which seem to drop down a couple milimeters every night. The best way to get a good look at them is to blow raspberries on Austen's belly after his every-other-evening bath, as this makes him laugh heartily. Even the prospect of a belly blow will cause him to squeal and giggle in anticipation, making it a wonderful way to end the day.