He is definitely starting to try to talk.He's started saying "outside"; he's also made recent attempts at "cheerios", "cheese"..... and of course his favorite, "shoe". He's finally reliably figured out the difference between nodding and shaking his head, which helps communication tremendously! (For the last several months, the response to any question would be a head shake, and you'd have to guess from his expression or the tone of his accompanying babble what he actually meant.)
His understanding, of course, is way ahead of his speaking, and he keeps surprising me in what he understands. An anecdote to illustrate -
It was his birthday, and he had a pile of presents in the living room which I had mistakenly let him see (meaning, of course, that he was most upset about me not letting him open them yet). I took him back to his room to change his diaper. When we were done, he went to the closed door and babbled at me hopefully. I said "We can go out of the room, Aiden, but the presents are still for later." He started crying. I then said, "But we can go outside and pick blackberries, would you like to do that?" He lit up, I opened the bedroom door, and he ran eagerly to the front door, bypassing the present pile entirely!
On 9/2 I had a contrast MRI, which involved a bit of a cockup. I didn't feel equipped to make a sound decision at that time, so opted for the conservative course and simply stopped nursing Aiden. The first night was hard - he was extremely unhappy at being denied his beloved breast. The second was far easier, and the third he actually slept very soundly, waking only once. But he is now weaned, rarely even trying to nurse except when he's thirsty and no cup is handy (and even then he'll usually take the cup without protest). Oddly, my breasts haven't been sore at all. It took two days for them to even feel at all heavy. Another sign that perhaps this was the right time.
I'm a bit sad and angry that it wasn't entirely by choice, but I'd been planning to start pushing on the weaning a bit harder soon anyway. And apparently the cold-turkey approach works, at least on a relatively mellow two-year-old!
He's starting to put on weight again, after a year of nearly no change at all. He's tall enough (and coordinated enough) to open many kinds of doors and push elevator buttons. He runs, he kicks and throws a ball with impressive strength, and is working on jumping. He's an amazing climber, and goes down the tallest of slides at the playground with no trace of fear!
Bedtime has gotten much easier in the last month or so. It's crept back to around 8pm, but rarely takes more than 20-30 minutes, and when I say "Aiden, bedtime!" he will almost always trot back to his room of his own volition! He will sleep in his bed until around midnight, at which point he transfers to our bed. We'll save trying to train him to stay in his bed until we're a bit less strung out - life has been exhausting for non-toddler-related reasons of late. And now that he's weaned he seems a bit less restless during the night, which helps all of us sleep better.
Aiden is now in daycare full time during the week. I miss him, but he's having a great time; and as with when he went in full-time, the reprieve during the day affords me the energy to be that much more involved when he is home. We're not currently sure when or even whether we will scale him back; it depends on health, finances, etc. But Aiden has adapted beautifully to whatever we've thrown at him.
He did get to enjoy the hospitality of Evergreen Hospital for a few days this month due to an asthma attack. You can't formally diagnose asthma in a child this young, since so many grow out of it, but he is now on a twice-daily inhaler which is doing a good job of controlling the chronic cough he's had since spring.
Aiden is eating well; he can feed himself quite well (and loves feeding other people). He loves chicken, cheese, corn on the cob, berries of all kinds, and raw green peppers. He will even occasionally deign to eat peas! He can drink from a regular cup with minimal mess so long as he's paying attention; that caveat would be why he usually ends up with a sippy cup :). I'm currently evaluating whether he has a sensitivity to cow's milk, as right when I weaned him (and consequently started giving him more cow's milk) he got a horrific diaper rash. I took him off the milk and it cleared up. Next to try the milk again in controlled quantities and see what happens....
Parenting has really become a joy of late. It's still hardly without its stresses and difficult parts, of course, but every day I see him becoming more and more a sweet, clever, independent person that I am thrilled to know, let alone take care of. His recent strides in communication have made it possible to occasionally catch a glimpse inside his mind, and having that communication become two-way has powerfully rejuvenated my supply of parenting energy. (Not that he was ever a brick wall, but there's only so much stimulating conversation you can come up with to someone who just stares at you and drools....)