I am glad that I have been fairly consistent about writing up AJ's development. The photo situation is another matter. Digital photography is a blessing, I know, I know......but consolidating and organizing all those photos: it's like a whole other job. Which is not being done. The blog entries are still the closest thing AJ has to a baby book, and probably will be until I somehow find the hours of time and motivation to make scrapbooks or photobook. I have no idea when that will be.
This time last year? I was excited that AJ was babbling, and banging objects together with her hands, and sleeping in her crib. Such an amazing time....and it puts where she is now into perspective.
This month? Here's what's most noticeable:
AJ has become very interested in music, which she calls "nuckies." (Her neologisms are too cute but she usually figures out the real word in a few weeks....almost disappointing). She likes to "play" the piano, i.e. sit or stand on the bench and bang the keys. At least somebody is playing it. She is learning how to operate the CD player I have in the basement. I chose a selection of our music for her. AJ likes to take the CDs out of the cases, look at them, and then put them in the CD player. She sometimes can push the right buttons to make it play but she's still rather random about it. AJ hasn't shown a preference toward any particular music except her baby song CD and possibly the Irish Rovers. I think she generally prefers slower songs, however. Her current favourite is "Row Row Row Your Boat" which she calls or "Row Row." Lately she likes to insist I sing her to sleep with this song, while holding her on my shoulder ("shol, shol"). I have to say all the words, too: when I get tired and start humming it instead, she opens her eyes and says "Row Row?" Feel free to suggest alternate lyrics to Row Row Row Your Boat.*
This week she also learned the word "song" (saying "song" when a track ended) and then, she said "drum" when I played some Moya Brennan for her. Picking out the instruments. I'm thrilled. Occasionally I also think she's trying to dance, but she hasn't quite figured that out yet. Oh, I can't wait for her to start dancing. I know on that day I will feel that my life is fulfilled.
AJ also knows my iPhone can play music, but it's a bit too confusing for her to operate still (and I don't really encourage her to play with it, though I sometimes let her). She loves to look at pictures and video of herself on it, however. She will ask to see "us, us": which might mean us or might be how she says her name.
The other thing that stands out about AJ is how verbal she is. I long ago lost track of her word count, but she knows a dozen at least in each of these categories: animals, foods, toys, books, the house, the outside, body parts, people and relationships. She strings words together ("All gone", "Walk outside", "Mommy bike" "Kitty's toes") and she is very close to using sentences (but will most often string them together with babbling rather than strictly English).
Lately she is working very hard at learning the names of all the important people in her life: Mommy, Daddy, grandparents (Baba, Grandpa, Grandma, Grandpa K, Nana, and Gidi), uncles, daycare teachers and baby friends. She identifies people by name in pictures and in person. When I pick her up and drop her off at daycare she points out the other toddlers in her room and identifies them by name (and they know her name too, which is just too sweet). My dad did not live long enough to hear AJ call him Grandpa. However, my mom has a little shrine set up at her house with pictures and mementos and the urn, and every time she visits AJ will ask to go see Grandpa. When we show her his picture she breaks into a huge smile. And she gets lots of kisses and hugs from Grandpa, via Baba and Mommy.
This month we broke the walking barrier! It was awesome to see AJ get excited about walking, finally. For a long time she just didn't seem to care about it. At the beginning of May she was cruising and asking to hold our hands, but also beginning to take several steps without holding on, often at a run. It was very funny to see her realize that if she stands without holding on, her hands are free. She stood for several seconds wiggling her hands and looking at them thoughtfully. Oh the possibilities! She followed this up by trotting around and around furniture, using it to balance occasionally. Finally, in the last week of May she found the confidence and energy to walk all over the house on her own, without holding anything, although she does like to carry a toy or other small item with her.
AJ has a mouthful of teeth, all her top and bottom on the front, and several molars coming up behind them. Teething has never seemed to bother her much; at least not in a way that seriously disrupts her regular life. She continues to eat well: daycare staff always tell us how impressed they are and her appetite and how willing she is to try everything. Favourite foods include bread and butter, muffins with butter (she finally clued in that butter makes everything better), cheese, grapes, oranges, cucumbers, avocado, carrots, blueberries and raspberries and watermelon when we can get them, cereal (including bran flakes), soup, potatoes, and she will even eat some chicken and fish by themselves (other times we mix it in with a potato or sweet potato.) She doesn't particularly like tomato based sauces but has started liking fresh tomatoes lately. And of course cookies, cake, donuts, chocolate, pie. She doesn't get a lot of desserts but she has them occasionally.
The only problem we have struggled with is chronic constipation. We reduced dairy in her diet, offered lots of fruit and fibre, and always have water available to her. I also discovered a prune/apple juice blend that seems to help her at daycare. I think that part of the issue is behavioural: after some painful experiences, I'm sure AJ started avoiding moving her bowels, which of course makes it worse. She also tends to clench her thighs together which pushes the poop the wrong way. Finally, her poops were so huge that in some cases I think she was unable to push them out into a diaper. We have stopped using her cloth diapers, since those fit a lot tighter and have less room. We also bought her a potty, though we have not committed to toilet training. AJ calls it a "toilet" and she likes to sit on it and say "poop" and "pee" although she doesn't show any inclination to actually do those things on the toilet. We hope that she can get the idea that pooping is something you do every day and that certain behaviours make pooping easier.
"Outside": looking for birds, ants, dogs and squirrels (occasionally a cat ambles by but not often). She likes to stand on the couch, look out the window, and tell us where the birds are. We had a laugh because she can't pronounce her r's or d's too clearly yet, so it sounds like she is saying "boys, boys." AJ also likes to walk outside (which she will request) and look at dirt. She is very interested in dirt, and likes to pick up any rubbish off the floor and give it to me, but the amount of dirt outside just blows her mind. She also loves rocks. Sometimes we take her to the playground and she can occupy herself for a long time picking up rocks and moving them from place to place. We joke that we don't need to go on any expensive vacations; AJ will be perfectly happy in a gravel pit.
Reading books: she will methodically work through all her books (it's a great excuse for snuggles), but also has her favourites which she identifies by title. She knows many of the words in her books and can fill them in if I pause while reading. Dr. Seuss and Sandra Boynton are favourites as well as any book with detailed illustrations that she can talk about.
Colouring, which means scribbling on any paper available. She says "colour, colour" and identifies yellow, orange, white, green, purple, black and blue. I am not sure why but it sounds too adorable when she makes her "bl" blend. We went on a bike ride / picnic for Mother's Day and AJ walked up to a flower and said "purple."
Walking around the house; as noted above she is increasingly comfortable with this, but it is still novel enough that she is very excited and proud of herself. Lately she likes to hide behind furniture and be found. She'll look at me and say "hide."
Putting on necklaces. If I'm wearing one and I take it off she wants to try it on. She has one beaded headband in particular that she likes, which she calls "Pretty." It begins.
Putting on clothes. AJ tries to put on her own socks, shoes and pants. She hasn't succeeded yet, but she's come close. One morning she was trying very hard to put on her own pants and actually got one leg all the way in; unfortunately the leg wasn't in the right pant leg. I made the mistake of picking her up, and putting the pants on the right way, which led to a major fit of outrage. So much for saving time in the morning. Lesson learned.
To sum it up.....we are having the time of our lives. That's the plain truth. AJ is a happy baby and we adore her and love watching her become a little girl. Maybe it gets way harder later, I don't know, but right now we are just enjoying the moment and it feels like AJ is teaching us everything we need to know (along with the occasional blog or internet article). I haven't bought any parenting books and I have no desire to. I don't mind reading about what other people do and think: I find it interesting. But we are doing fine making it up as we go along. If I could give any advice to myself before AJ's birth it would be to not worry about having little experience or knowledge of babies or small children. I think sometimes ignorance is bliss.
As for me....what to say. I think I'm in good health. I try to eat well and rest well; some weeks I succeed better than others and it can depend on my level of stress. I've talked about the trying to conceive angle in other entries, and will surely revisit it again. And again and again. My body now looks and feels much as I remember it before pregnancy and childbirth. Other than a blue vein that appeared on my right breast in the early weeks of pregnancy and never went away, I feel like there's very little physical evidence that I ever had a child (other than the child herself). Maybe my hair is thicker. I am rather surprised that my body returned to its previous state, as in the months after birth I was sure it had permanently changed. My priorities during pregnancy were the health of the baby and managing my anxiety and nausea. I'm fairly active but I don't have fitness goals. I never diet. I was resigned to carrying some extra pounds but they're gone, and I am wearing all my clothes from before AJ was born.
How do I feel about this? Mostly good. But with the physical evidence, and the visceral memories of pregnancy and childbirth mostly gone, it is somehow harder to believe I can or will ever have another child. Sometimes AJ feels like a miracle that landed in my life *plop* and I feel the knowledge of how she got here is lost on Atlantis somewhere. Hardly the worst problem to have, for sure. But discombobulating.
Well, it's getting late. Time for Mr. Turtle and rest. Thanks always to all who read and leave a note.
* Row row row your boat
On the seas so blue
Merrily, merrily merrily merrily
You're a dream come true.