Friday, May 16, 2008

Noticing a pattern

Last month, Adriana said "dog," her very first word. Yesterday she started in on her second: "woof woof."

No wonder the cat doesn't like her.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

16 months

We spent some time in DC this month, visiting with friends from London who have a baby two months older than Adriana. It was funny to see how different they are, even though they are so close in age. Abigail is much more verbal than Adriana, speaking very clearly in her husky little baby voice to ask for what she wants, instead of fussing or signing. But Adriana is the more kinesthetic of the two girls, sliding gleefully down the slide, and running up and down a little hill outside the Hirschorn by herself, even after taking a couple of spills, while Abigail wanted to hold a hand. That difference really made tangible for me who Adriana is right now (and it's amazing that she is somebody right now--a real little person).

She is stubborn and excitable and independent and daring. She likes to try to climb up the slides, and while she will ask for help if she can't do it, if we refuse to help her, she'll keep trying to do it herself. I'm terrified when I see her climbing the play structures at the park, but I take a deep breath and let her go--staying near enough to catch her if she takes a big spill, letting her take occasional little spills in the hope that she'll learn, and applauding her when she goes down the big slide without any help. For a while I assumed that she was a sort of a daredevil because she was just a little kid who didn't have any sense yet, but as I watch other children at the park, I see that other kids her age are more cautious. That worries me and makes me proud. As far as I can remember, I was always an extremely cautious kid, and I think in some cases it held me back., so as much as I worry about the falls she might take, I force myself to let her climb.

With other activities she's less independent, or at least she gets frustrated easily. She struggles with a little puzzle she has. She'll try only once or twice to put a piece in, and then gives it to Brian or me to put in. She doesn't want to try to put the jacket on the toy monkey herself. but brings both things to me so I will do it for her.

She still isn't speaking, but she manages to communicate. She learns signs fairly easily these days, only needing to see them once or twice, so we have been working on signs for different kinds of food, and she now specifies what she wants by signing for cheese, beans, veggies, or grapes. She points out babies, kids, dogs, and birds everywhere we go, signing frantically until we say, "Yes, there's a baby." Or a bird or dog or whatever. Her eyes are sharp, too, so sometimes we think she's just making signs for a moment before we catch sight of the dog she's noticed across the street. And she recognizes the sounds of a dog barking, a baby crying, a bird chirping, and kids shouting, and will make her signs then, too.

I've found this age challenging. Some days I'm back to where I was a few months ago, wondering how on earth I'm going to survive her being two if this is what one is already like. Other days I even wonder how I'm going to make it until that evening when Brian gets home to help me. Last week she had her first real, public meltdown. It was at our mommy-baby yoga class, so there are worse places it could have happened, but it was still no fun. Adriana was still functioning on East Coast time and I wanted to her get back to normal, so instead of letting her nap when she wanted to, I hauled her off to yoga. Part way through class, in the middle of some sort of tantrum, she threw her water bottle, hitting another kid in the head with it. I took her out of the room to calm down for a bit, but it wasn't too much longer before the next tantrum began again, and I packed us up and left. She fell asleep as soon as I strapped her into her car seat. And now I've learned my lesson about not letting the baby sleep when she needs to. Over and over since she was born I've needed to be reminded to take my cues from her, to do what works, to not force things, to pick my battles carefully. It's challenging, and it's hard to remember to do when she's screaming and kicking, but then we get through those hard times and the easy times, the times where we snuggle and read stories, or run up and down a little hill at the park, are more frequent and make me think that this is the best time ever.

Nature walk: Wilder Ranch

Or, My Second Mother's Day!

Because my first Mother's Day went so well, I decided to plan another one just like it--except in California. We would drive down to Santa Cruz, have brunch at the Walnut Avenue Cafe, and then walk at Wilder Ranch. We decided to execute said plan on Saturday rather than Sunday, partly because the weather was supposed to be a little nicer that day, and partly because our Sundays are already so perfect and we've been out of town for the past couple of weekends, and I've missed our routine of yoga, farmer's market, and a picnic at the park. (You know life is good when you get to pick whatever you want to do one day and you want to do exactly what you do every week, Brian said; he's right.)

Brunch was absolutely perfect--hot chocolate with whipped cream, orange juice, and French toast with grilled bananas, walnuts, and vanilla yogurt. I've been considering getting a bicycle, so we stopped at Spokesman for me to ride a couple and to check out their child seats. I can't remember the last time I was actually on a bicycle and I hadn't missed riding, but I don't know why not. I felt a little wobbly as I first climbed on, but you know what? It was just like riding a bicycle. (Why, yes, I do amuse myself.) I felt fast and easy and free as I pedaled and coasted in loops around a nearby parking lot. I still haven't bought a bike yet, but hopefully this weekend I'll be bringing one home.

We finally headed up to Wilder. There are nice walks on the far side of the freeway, but I really just wanted to walk along the cliffs, so that's what we did. There were tons of red-winged blackbirds around, chirping noisily from the bushes, and then darting overhead with their flash of brilliant red. The landscape was bright with flowers, and we saw otters playing and eating in the water below us. It was windy and chilly, so we didn't walk long and instead went back to the ranch where we watched a blacksmith work and Adriana was fascinated by the chickens.

Afterwards we stopped by the Boardwalk so I could take a quick turn on the Giant Dipper, which right there tells you that my day was pretty much perfect. How can one ever complain about a day that involves a trip on a roller coaster? And then we ate dinner at Al Dente before heading home. Perfect.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


For a while now, I have done this thing when I wake up in the night and have trouble getting back to sleep: I lie in the dark and imagine what my friends are doing in various time zones around the world. Somehow I find it reassuring and relaxing. When Adriana was a newborn, things changed, though. As I groggily nursed the baby and then rocked her back to sleep after she ate, I imagined all the other mothers who were awake with their little ones. It made the middle of the night feedings less lonely.

For the past few nights, Adriana has had a fever and last night she couldn't keep down any medicine that would help. In the wee hours of the morning, I lay in bed with they hot little baby on my chest--it was the only way she would sleep. I worried about when she would start to feel better and about how I would function today with so little sleep. And then I thought of all the other mothers who were up with their feverish children, kissing the hot foreheads, stroking the damp hair back from the little face, worrying about when it would all be okay, and I started to relax.