...put the gate up at the bottom of the stairs when James is alone in the living room.
This morning, as we got ready to go to work and daycare, I left James to play in the living room while I went to the kitchen to get our lunches together. Usually, James follows me into the kitchen (if that gate is open) and pulls all the magnets off the fridge. He really loves those magnets, mostly because he's not allowed in the kitchen that often. If the kitchen gate is closed, then he holds onto it and "talks" to me or he finds as many toys as possible to throw into the kitchen. I should have known that something was up when neither of those things happen. I started to hear James make some weird noises, so I went back into the living room. And he wasn't there. I called his name and heard him respond "DA!" which I think is his way of saying "Yeah". Only I'd heard him responding from upstairs. I walked halfway up the stairs to find James peering at me from the other side of the stair railing in the upstairs hallway. Apparently, James really wanted his upstairs toys and not his downstairs toys. He looked amazingly proud of himself and a bit like he knew that he wasn't supposed to be up there without a parent. Luckily, he didn't try to make his way down the stairs, as he has rolled down them on one previous occasion. I am definitely going to have to start remembering to put the gate up when I leave the room.