Wednesday, November 5, 2014

George at One Year, Part Five

George learns new words every day, including "up", "down", "Bane", "please" and just, yeah, he pretty much mimics whatever we're saying.  Favorite words include, "apple", "banana", "green", and "cheese"--but "cheese" is said with a devoted intensity of love and adoration.

He doesn't just love the word "cheese", he loves cheese itself.  It's his most favorite thing to eat in the world (currently, this changes frequently).  When I pull out a bag of shredded cheese he'll chant, "Cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese!" and wave his arms all excitedly.  If he even hears you say, "cheese", he'll do some more cheese-chanting.  He loves the stuff.  Randomly, while playing with his toys, he'll start singing, "Cheese, cheese, cheese..."  Pretty sure he dreams about it.  If he had a diary, it'd be filled with, "Cheese, cheese, cheese!"

George also sings along in his own Chinese to songs that we sing often.  His favorite song as of late is the Rainbow Song.  I have no idea if that's the factual name, but the ending goes, "I can sing a rainbow too," and thus, the Rainbow Song.  George's favorite part is the beginning, which sings, "Red and yellow and pink and green, purple and orange and blue."  When he sings along to it, it goes like, "[George Chinese] na-na (George for "yellow) and blue."  It's sort of the cutest when he'll start singing it on his own while he's playing.

He also loves to count.  Or, well, have you count for him.  He'll count in his own language; sometimes he's got the actual sounds down, but most of the time it's him just filling in the blanks with his Chinese.  When he's eating he likes for us to count the food on his tray, like cut-up strawberries or cereal.  Otherwise, he loves counting the laces on this football my dad got him, and when I count while we play with his pop-up toy.

This kid has been breaking out teeth like nobody's business.  The first two brought a very grumpy George Bailey.  He was not at all pleased with those teeth.  Then the molars started coming in, oh boy.  Let's just say George's emotions have been permanently set on HIGH this past month.  Emotions running wild!  No joke, if he couldn't figure out what he wanted to do to entertain himself he would just come find me and cry about it.  It's been awkward, to say the least.  But also highly hilarious, as always.

George till loves outside SO.  MUCH.  This has been rough as it's gotten colder.  Combine his love for the outdoors, plus the inability to go outside as much, plus high emotions due to teething, and you get one very upset baby when the door opens and he's not allowed outside.  Luckily the cold days were sparse in October, so we still got out, just not as much as he's used to.  Most nights when Bradley got home from work, George would need a Dad/George/Bane moment where Bradley would take George outside to play with the frisbee with Bane.

This was a nice moment for George because he got outside, and a nice moment for me because I was able to finish dinner without my son trying to stand up by the stove.  Which is super safe, right?

Speaking of standing up by the stove, George made his first attempts to stand up on his own.  He can do it, but he's sort of terrified of it so the only times he stands up on his own are at moments where he doesn't even recognize that he's doing it.  Otherwise, any and all attempts for us to help him stand and/or walk are thwarted by George.  He knows before you've even begun what you're trying to do and he totally shuts us down!  We're learning to trust the doctor's observation that, "There's a big difference between can't do it and just won't do it," and let him do it at his own pace.

Again, moving at his own pace (and not giving a poop what anyone else thinks), George has finally begun utilizing furniture walking.  This is both darling and dangerous.

George is incredibly smart, but he's also incredibly content 98% of the time.  This has been a blessing because he's a super chill child the majority of the time, but it's also meant that there's not really an easy motivational tool to be used to get him to exit his comfort zone.  Take a toy away, he'll just find another one, no big deal.  What we should've realized, with the fascinations he's had with it, is that dog food would be the motivator to use.  He loves digging through it, throwing it in the dog's water, the like.  So it only makes sense that it was the dog's food--which I had set up on the round table that's by the back door--which convinced him that furniture walking was a necessary skill.  Every since his first expedition to retrieve the dog food on the table he's just gotten more and more confident with the fact that furniture walking is a good tool.

George has gotten over the roughest patch of stranger danger!  To which, YAY.  However, he's still my son.  As such, if too many new people approach him at once he panics and is totally upset by it.  He, like his mother, needs the option to choose when and how he wants to introduce himself.  And yet in church, with total strangers who are keeping their distance because it'd be awkward to just canoodle a random person's child, those are the people he wants the attention of the most.  Basically, he's an interesting mix of his introvert mother and his extrovert father.  Poor kid.

This month Brad's parents were working hard to clean their house out so prepare to put it up for sale.  During the big clean-out, they had quite a few things they offered to hand-down to us and George.  One such item was a tepee that Michelle had purchased but admittedly had never put together and used when Brad and his siblings were little.  It had gotten forgotten, and so it was basically brand-spankin' new when we got it.  Well, George loves it.  Seriously, he adores it.  I set it up in the front room and every morning he goes and plays in it for twenty or thirty minutes before he's ready to go upstairs to eat breakfast.  It's mighty cute!  And man, when he's in the tepee-zone, it's like no one else is there.  He'll grab a few cars, crawl inside, and he's seriously done that for over and hour, just talking to me from time to time.  SO CUTE.

Pretty sure I've mentioned this before, but George loves our bed.  Or, well, any bed.  He loves to wrestle and play around on the softness of the bed, throw himself into the pillows, and body slam the bed while saying, "Ka-boom!"

Basically, if I'd let him, we'd be playing on mine and Brad's bed all day long.  Which, sure, I'd totally do (hello, stay in bed all day, heck yes!), but, um, yeah.  He's sort of the least safe person ever on the bed.  No forethought whatsoever as to where he's tossing himself around, and so the whole time we're catching him as he's throwing himself off the bed.  Or hurling his body at the headboard.  In short, he's not safe, at all.  So, one day when he ran into our bedroom and was begging to get on the bed again, I realized, duh, why not make a "bed" on the floor!

Thus, the Pillow Pile was born (patent pending).  We have, like, six too-flat pillows that we've just thrown into the closet because we didn't use them anymore, so I just laid them out on the floor in the front room and did my own, "Ka-boom!" and the rest is history.  George spends large amounts of time, again, grabbing a few cars, where he then lays down on the pillows and drives his cars.  It's pretty darling.  Sort of picture a teenage girl on the phone, that's what we always tease that it looks like.  He'll play laying on his stomach, legs popped up in the back, literally just how you'd picture it!

Another thing George continues to do is "sexy play".  He'll lay on his side, all draw-me-like-your-French-girls like, and play with his toys.  This is also quite hilarious.

Another hand-me-down we got from Brad's parent's was a bunch of flashcards.  I've been wanting to get George some just to see if he'd be interested since he loves things like counting and coloring so much, and so when Michelle had a bunch I was just like, "DUDE.  YES."  George has been surprisingly addicted to them.  He can do them for upwards of thirty minutes at a time.  He's been able to learn shapes like an oval and triangle, and he's become especially fond of saying, "Green!" because of the flashcards, to the point that it's become more common that, "blue" (which is a super huge deal in George Land, trust me).

As a last random detail, George loves to be "rawr"-ed and crawled after and chased around.  He added to that charging back to crawl underneath you and through your legs.  This is a confusing step for people who are chasing him for the first time, haha!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Nerd Side #1

Today I am going to be discussing and rating one of my favorite video games and guilty pleasures, so get ready to get your ninja on because we're talking Naruto today!

Last year, around this time, I bought the Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 video game for Xbox 360.  It is a fighter game, however it also has a story mode that takes you through basically two full seasons of the anime.  In the story mode, the graphics are amazing and overall the storytelling really grabbed me.  Even Heather, who's not usually a "story mode" sort-of-gal when it comes to fighting games, enjoyed watching me play during the story mode.  The story mode is actually what got us to start watching the anime itself (which you can watch on Hulu Plus).

I had a companion on my mission in the Dominican Republic who was a huge Naruto fan--both anime and manga--and he said multiple times that when I got home I needed to watch it.  However, it had never really interested me because Naruto is one of the longest running animes ever.  No joke, there are currently 17 seasons and 384 aired episodes.  Yeah, it's sort of an investment to start at square one.  It wasn't until I purchased Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 3  that I finally decided to give it a shot.  Now over a year later, I'm all caught up.

Going back to the video games, the fourth installment of the Ultimate Ninja series came out this September, Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution (these titles always make Heather laugh because they're so "anime-y"), and I am loving it.  They did things a little differently than prior installments, but man, it's a good thing.  It isn't so cookie cutter, there's an added game mode called the Ultimate Ninja Tournament where you can unlock customization items for you favorite character.  (For example, totally have a plush dog on Itachi's arm.  It's basically awesome.)  There are three story modes that have three fights each; not as long as previous games, but as the tournament mode has six or seven ranks to work through there is more than enough to do.  Plus the online battle mode pits you against other players from around the globe in multiple modes, including tournament and even four-played-esque fighting.

I give it 7 out of 10 only because I don't think it's incredibly replayable and I do wish the story mode had more to it like Ninja Storm 3.  But, still, I absolutely recommend this to anyone who enjoys fighter styled games.  The controls are easy to learn and allows you to easily reel out combos.  Heather has even been able to branch out past ranged characters because she was able to quickly learn other styled fighters (this is a big deal, trust me).  There are also enough attacks and counter attacks to make pretty much every match unique, which I appreciate.

As an end note, I also stamp this game as a highly Dad Friendly game.  I am not trapped in this game or left with a million penalties if I walk away (this is something I have a hard time with when playing, say, League of Legends or even Starcraft or any console first-person shooter game).  If Heather has run out after George is asleep in bed, it's easy--and fun--to build my own tournaments against the computer characters, which allows me an easy pause if I need to dash away to aid the George Man.  Overall, this is what we appreciate the most about this game, that we can easily step away, there's not freak out from teammates for going AFK, just fun game play without the stress.