Friday, August 29, 2008

Fear conquered.

Adriana is no longer afraid of her shadow. My aunt had the brilliant idea of teaching Adriana the sign for shadow. It's a complicated sign, combining the signs for "black" and "shape" (which is sort of creepy, isn't it? I mean, the first thing that brought to mind for me was Echthroi)(see, I told you Madeleine L'Engle's books were embedded in my brain), and it hasn't really taken so far.

But we've been waving at our shadows and making them dance every time she notices them, and this morning at the park, Adriana caught sight of her shadow and waved. Then she moved into the shade and stepped back out again, experimentally. I signed "shadow," and she looked at me and then back at her shadow, and continued on her way toward the swings.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Afraid of her own shadow...literally

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

-Robert Louis Stevenson, A Child's Garden of Verses

Yesterday at the movie, Adriana was playing on the landing near the emergency exit. Just before I picked her up to take her back to our seat, she began pointing at the floor and whining. I looked at where she was pointing, but couldn't see much because of her shadow. I pulled her to the side so I could see if she had dropped something, but then she pointed into the area of her shadow again, and I realized that was going on: she had just noticed her shadow for the first time. I scooped her up and went back to where our friends were sitting, thinking that there was probably no line in her baby book for this particular developmental milestone.

Even though I had mentioned what had happened to Brian, I was surprised as I led Adriana toward the bathroom to brush her teeth before bed last night. As we walked into the bedroom, the light on Brian's bedside table cast our shadows before us onto the ground. Adriana stopped where she was and reached for my hand. She pointed anxiously at her shadow. "It's your shadow," I told her. "It's because of the light. It won't do anything bad." Nevertheless, she ran behind my legs. I called to Brian, who came in and made some shadow puppets on the floor for her. She seemed okay with that, but there was still something about her own shadow that made her uncomfortable.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


In a language that is only symbols (although, aren't all languages just systems of symbols?), not sounds, are there homonyms? I suppose if you have always been deaf, it would be hard to imagine words sounding the same, rather like the inhabitants of Ixchel and their inability to understand the concept of vision in their eyeless world. But the sign language in our house happens simultaneously with spoken language, and it turns out homonyms (or homophones?) do come into play.

A few months ago Adriana learned the sign for glasses and now whenever she sees me without mine, sees Brian with his sunglasses on top of his head, or notices my sunglasses sitting out of their case, she makes the sign (well, her version of it). But I was confused last night as she made the sign over and over again (accompanied by the whine she always adds when she thinks we aren't paying proper attention to her signs) while pointing out onto our balcony. I was wearing my glasses, and there were no other glasses in sight. And then I realized what she was really pointing to: water glasses, left over from dinner, sitting on the table outside. It's such a little thing, but it's interesting to me to see how her language, her ability to communicate, and her display of all that she understands are developing.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Nature walk: Castle Rock

We hiked at Castle Rock State Park once last fall and Brian has been wanting to go back ever since, but most weekends that he suggests going, I veto it because I am a horrible wife and enjoy making him suffer the weather report has always said that it was going to be 90 degrees there and I just refuse to hike in that kind of weather. But last weekend when Brian was talking about getting out for a hike, I checked the weather report and, after discovering it was "only" going to be in the low 80s, suggested we head up to Castle Rock.

We did the loop suggested by Bay Area Hiker except in reverse, sticking with the Saratoga Gap Trail at first and coming back down on the Ridge Trail, detouring slightly to the campgrounds so that Adriana could get out of the backpack and run around during lunch. I am not a very experienced hiker, and there are some bits of this hike that make me nervous, but I clung anxiously to the metal rope and didn't look down on one narrow part of the Saratoga Gap Trail (and carefully did not watch Brian as he did the same part with the baby on his back), and scooted along using five points of contact as I descended over a rocky bit on the Ridge Trail. But it's good for me to fight my natural inclination to be such a chicken, and the views from up there are worth it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

19 months

These days it seems as though our main goal is to wear Adriana out. I am naturally a bit of a hermit but I do need social interaction, so I think it is good that in order to keep Adriana happy (and tired at night) we have to get out to the park every day. We let her walk to and from the park most days, hoping to tired her even more. The walk is slow, as she stops to inspect leaves (big, leathery ones from the magnolias are the best), gather small rocks from the landscaping along the sidewalk, and pick up every piece of trash she encounters (I never realized how much litter there was in our neighborhood), and I have to remind myself that she is learning and that this is just as much fun and as interesting as the park for her. Plus, at least she's not climbing anything and terrifying me.

She has so much fun at the park, too. I think she was about 16 months old when she fell off a slide, and she'd been afraid of them ever since, but suddenly she's back on them, and clearly enjoying herself. We usually take a ball to the park, and she likes to chase that around. I do feel a bit silly playing fetch with a baby, but hey, it helps her sleep better at night. She has always been sensitive to different textures, disliking the feel of sand and grass, but she is beginning to play in the sandbox a bit. She still doesn't want to walk on the sand too much, but she'll sit at the edge and shovel sand into a pail. And last week at Eagle Park, where there is a spigot in the middle of the sand for the kids to made puddles with, she had a great time getting dirty and wet, which is totally unlike her.

It's so interesting to me to see Adriana show that she has a real memory now. It's a bit easier to see in the kids we know her age who are talking: when a child's mom mentions some activity from the weekend, the child will jump in here and there with little words that show she or he remembers the even too. But suddenly Adriana is showing that she remembers things, too. I think she did before, but now it is more obvious. After I had suffered one night from severe insomnia, Brian came home early from work to take her to the park and give me a break. The next night when he got home, she got her shoes and started signing for the park. When we arrived at my dad's house for a visit, she went first to the room where the stereo is, so she could request music, having remembered where he'd turned it on a few weeks before on our last visit. Then she ran straight for his fridge, where she can just barely reach the water and ice dispenser. And I was fascinated when, at play group one day she started signing "dog" and I turned to see that some friends who had brought their dogs to the group two weeks earlier had arrived. Adriana signed dog frantically, looking toward the tree where the dogs had been tied the last time they were there. The dogs weren't there this time though--it was just that Adriana associated this other mom and baby with their dogs. I was surprised that she remembered the dogs being there, but I was especially surprised that she could remember who the dogs had been with.

I wish I could remember when Adriana's imaginative play began. I suppose she was pretending to nurse a baby at 14 months. But now she plays little games all the time. She likes to pretend to feed her baby and to feed me. She makes her monkey turn somersaults. She picks up the watering can and pretends to water the plants on our balcony that are at her level. She gets her popper when I say it's time to vacuum to pretend that she is vacuuming. And she does seem to be something of a neat freak (although you wouldn't guess it by looking at our apartment). She can reach into kitchen drawers now, and often after she plays with a juicer or measuring cup for a little while, she puts it back and closes the drawer. If I splash water on the floor while I'm doing dishes or cooking, she gets a towel and wipes it up for me. After I give her a tissue to wipe her nose, she runs to put it in the trash herself.

Summer has been good for Adriana's eating. She tastes all the fruit at the farmer's market. Her favorites are berries. We're on a break from strawberries right now--I think they are responsible for the little rash around her mouth--so she is instead attempting to eat her weight in blackberries. She likes the veggies that Brian grills and gets excited when she sees me shucking corn. I wish she would eat more protein-rich foods, so I scramble her an egg a few times a week, and she is pretty good about eating cheese. She hasn't been particularly interested in what little meat she's been offered, but when Brian started calling the chicken he was offering her "bird," she suddenly was willing not only to try it but also to ask for more. I don't know if it was that "bird" was a word she recognizes or if it was because it's also a sign she knows so that she could ask for more, but I am totally calling beef "cow" the next time it's offered to her.

Her sleep still isn't perfect, but it's improving. We've discussed night weaning, but it always sounds a little traumatic or just like too much work, and I give up the idea rather quickly. It's not that I'm still at the point that I hear mothers talk about where they treasure the nighttime feedings with their babies, since I barely remember most of the nighttime feedings. Some nights are better than others, and I think things are improving. Last summer, Adriana was still consistently waking up several times a night and then getting up for the day around seven. Brian would get up with her and I would get up an hour later to find them out on the balcony together while Brian ate breakfast. It was very sweet to see them together, and I loved getting that extra hour of sleep. Now that she sleeps better, I'm usually the first one up, and I have been treasuring my quiet time in the morning, so I was a little disappointed on Friday morning when, after nursing Adriana back down at 6:30 and getting up to feed the cat, I turned to find her right behind me, smiling. I drank my juice while she played, and then I made myself a cup of cocoa and took it out on the balcony to enjoy the cool, grey morning air. Adriana joined me, and we ate some berries and cereal together, and then cuddled in the chair while we watched hummingbirds at our feeder. She's normally so active that I don't get a lot of snuggles except when she is nursing, tired, or sick, and I was so glad that she had gotten up early that day to share my quiet time.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Things that made me happy last night

1. Going outside to admire the color of the sky at sunset and seeing a rainbow.

2. Two silly monkeys with their "big smiles."

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Hi Mary Ellen!

Look! It's not a sandwich recipe anymore! Aren't you happy?

Instead, here are some pictures of a little girl eating corn: