Last week we flew to Florida for a few days, to visit Adriana's great-grandfather, and the trip certainly demonstrated the highlights and challenges of this age. Adriana cooperated well at the airport, provided that we gave her plenty of warning for things. I told her as we got in the car to head up to SFO that when we got to the airport I was going to put her in the carrier until we'd gone through security, so instead of fighting me as she often does when it comes to carriers and strollers these days, she happily let me swing her around onto my back. We warned her that her monkey and shoes would have to go through the X-ray separately, and so she didn't object when Weed was tucked into Brian's bag and I placed her shoes in the plastic bin with mine. She does well with quiet play these days, even independent play, so the flights to and from Florida were uneventful. She drew with crayons, played with her doll and her monkey, looked at pictures of dogs and cats in the Sky Mall catalog, and then had some milk and slept for at least an hour. Flight attendants and other passengers stopped to tell me what a good girl she was. Once we were in Florida, she did surprisingly well with being in an apartment that was not exactly child-friendly. She had her crayons and her legos, and there was a piano to play on. For the most part she didn't show too much interest in the fragile knick-knacks that were down at her level (a couple of ceramic cats were an exception to that).
But we also witnessed a couple of full-scale tantrums that surprised us. She was out of her normal routines and not getting quite as much freedom to run as she is accustomed to, and it was frustrating for her. We thought we knew what tantrums were a year ago, but now she's really gotten the hang of them: every now and then when she is upset or overtired or overstimulated, we witness the wrath of the two-year-old, as she hurls her body to the floor, kicks, screams, and throws things. I've found it's best to let her blow off steam for a minute or two without interfering (although we do have to make sure there's nothing in her way that she might accidentally hurt herself on), and then she is willing to be soothed, usually by nursing, but sometimes with some other distraction. And so we faced this twice in Florida, both times in our hotel room when she was feeling cooped up and frustrated. But for the most part we were able to head off the worst of her tantrums. Several meals were eaten at shifts, so that Adriana could get outside to play. Of course, in some ways that aggravated the problems more, because it meant that she wasn't eating well. Adriana has always been a bit of a quirky eater, and eating when there are distractions is nearly impossible for her--and restaurants are full of distractions. We took food back to our room after breakfast, picked up snacks at the supermarket, and sometimes just nursed a bit more often than we normally do at home. It was good to see her eat a good meal the night we got home, gobbling up a bowl full of vegetable barley soup, rather than the diet of French bread, string cheese, grapes, and Cheerios she'd been subsisting on while we traveled. She has been such a good eater lately--eating a real breakfast in the morning, two light lunches most days (one before her nap, one after), and a decent dinner--and it was hard to watch her intake of "real food" decline throughout our trip.
Adriana's language explosion continues. I kept a careful list of the words she said and how she pronounced them, up until she reached 100 words. Then I couldn't keep up with her and going to the computer every time there was something new, and I stopped. She combines words now into little sentences. "Mom read book," she commands me many times a day, bringing me a story to read. "Ana get ball," she exclaimed over and over at the Children's Discovery Museum earlier this month. And her spoken language lets her demonstrate the other things she is learning. She can identify colors and likes to label things--blue cars, purple balls, brown shoes. She sorts things constantly: I leave her alone to play while I shower and come back to discover that she has stacked all the red legos in one tower, the green in another, the blue in a third and is working on the yellow ones. She sometimes builds with her alphabet blocks, but she nearly as often just divides them up by letter, as she is recognizing and naming some letters. She surprised us the first time, pointing to a capital letter A and telling us, "A, Ana," since I always say her name when we are looking at alphabet books. She also now identifies B for baby, M for mom, D for dad, and S for Sam. She tries to fit other letters and numbers into these categories: V gets matched with A; W, N, and 3 are all M to Adriana; 5 might as well be S; and O is a D, according to her. Going through the airports on our trip, she spotted the double A of the American Airlines logo and shouted, "Two! A! Ana!" with great glee. She describes her games and gives me instructions as I play with her, in a mix of spoken and signed language. During a tea party, she signs cookie and places an imaginary one on my saucer beside my cup. As I pick it up to take a bite, she tells me, "No, dip," and demonstrates dipping her cookie into her tea before tasting it (and I have no idea where she learned that). She signs panda and then says "eat pie," as she serves her toy panda a pie made of legos. She uses her made-up sign for "where?" as she speaks the word of what she's looking for.
I am thrilled right now with the joy that Adriana takes in things. We've had a great deal of fun this past month taking her to places we thought she'd like: the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Oakland Zoo, and Butterfly World and a park with a carousel in Florida. At the aquarium she ran eagerly from tank to tank, signing fish, demanding to be picked up for a better view, and then demanding to get down so she could run to the next tank on her own. She watched with great excitement as river otters played and wrestled in the water (although she backed way nervously as their game took them close to the glass where she was standing). She gazed in awe at sharks circling before her in a room that looked into a great tank. At the zoo, she leaned away from us when she was in our arms, trying to find some way to get closer to the monkeys and lions and elephants. She talked about that trip for days afterward, telling us about the monkey that was jumping in the trees, the monkey that was sleeping, and the elephant that pooped. At Butterfly World, it was hard to get her past the initial walkway into the garden as she pointed to flowers and butterflies, exclaiming over the colors. While the carousel in Florida wasn't the first she's been on, it was the first time she seemed old enough to really enjoy the experience, and after two rides she still was begging for more: "Mo' neigh! Mo' neigh! Mo' neigh, pwee!" Everything is amazing to her and it's so much fun to get to witness her joy.