Saturday, December 12, 2009

Soccer!



She's only 19 months old, but Kai has started playing soccer! I have been looking forward to Kai playing soccer since long before she was born -- and I love that she is so into running, kicking, and... well, soccer!! Last week was our first class. As is Kailey's usual style, she decided to just check things out last week. She sat wide-eyed as the coach ran through various games. She didn't kick the ball, every time the coach came over to give her a high five she recoiled and eyed him suspiciously, she wouldn't run across the field with the other kids. The coach started most activities by saying, "one, two, three... if you can hear me touch your nose." Or, "one, two, three... if you can hear me touch your toes." Kai looked at him and... nothing. I had to hold her a good chunk of the class, and at the end, the coach asked me if she was really shy or if it was ok to keep trying to engage her. I said, "she'll get used to it." When we got in the car, Kai pointed at her new uniform excitedly and said, "ball! Mama! BALL." Then she started holding up her fingers and saying her version of "one, two, three" (which is more like uh... uh.. tu, but I know what she means). I asked her if she liked soccer, and she kicked her legs excitedly. I rolled my eyes (a skill Kai has also mastered, by the way... like she's a teenager or something. But, that's a post for another day).



All week, we "talked" about soccer. Meaning, Kai kept pointing at her uniform every time she saw it in her drawer and insisted on wearing it to bed one night. She was very responsive whenever we started a new activity with "one, two, three" (just like coach did) and kept pointing out all the balls in her room and carrying them around the house. I could tell she was ready for week two. This morning, I asked her if she wanted to go to soccer and she let out a HUGE holler and ran into her bedroom and started looking for her uniform. She was so excited. And at practice today, totally different kid.



She ran across the field with the other kids, playing red light/green light. She kicked the ball, gave high fives, touched her nose and her toes when instructed, and scored her first goal (well, they all get a turn to score a goal at the end of practice). Some videos:

video

video

She LOVED it. It was so much fun to watch her really get into practice. SOCCER practice! And, it totally wore her out. I am really looking forward to our next practice (which isn't for THREE weeks). We'll have to practice on our own in the meantime.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Bribes



I mentioned in my last post that Kai can be bribed with peas. In fact, she can be bribed, if you want to call it that, with all variety of things that she more or less has to do anyway. For example, she doesn't love to open her mouth and let you brush her teeth. But, when I say, "Kai, do you want to go to bed?" (she nods) "then let me brush your teeth." And, voila, she opens her mouth! Or, when I want her to clean up the books she has unceremoniously dumped off of her shelf I can say, "Kai, do you want to eat lunch?" (nods) "then pick up your books". And, again, the books are cleaned up in moments. I love it.

Of course, of course -- it won't last. I'm sure she'll learn to barter with the best of them. But, at this point, Kai's likes and dislikes are still somewhat simple. She hasn't really discovered a lot of the best things in life. I think she's had dessert 2 - 3 times, and it isn't something she thinks about. We take her all variety of places that she loves (the zoo, the play cafe, parks, playgrounds, museums), but she isn't at a point that she asks to go to these places. She is just excited to arrive. And, she really enjoys most of the day to day business of living -- she likes to go to bed; she likes to eat; she likes to take baths. These are all things she would have to do even if she hated them, but the fact that she enjoys - and even looks forward to - these things makes it so much easier. The only thing she has to do on a regular basis that she really hates is having her diaper changed; although, even this is beginning to change. Well, her hatred of the diaper change isn't changing -- but she has started to tell us when she needs to be changed. It's sort of funny. She'll grab onto her diaper and look at us, and we'll say, "do you need your diaper changed?" and then it'll dawn on her that if she says "yes" that means that we will, in fact, change her diaper (which she hates) so she says, "noooo no noo nooo no" while continuing to clutch her diaper. She has discovered that the changing table is up high (have I mentioned Kai's love of heights) and so every time I go to change her, she promptly flips onto her belly and shimmies to the edge so that she can hang off the table with her head jutting out over the edge. Lovely.



Nothing is really mundane to her yet. I think this is why the "bribing" works. Not only does she want to eat her lunch, but picking up the books she just tossed off the shelf also sounds pretty fun. She loves to tear things down and put them back, and she's eager to do what we ask her to do. Meals are slightly different -- she is skeptical of new foods, but if she gets a pea for trying it, well... why not. I think she figures she can always spit out whatever it is she has tried (when does the spitting out stop? So gross). It's fun to live in these moments with her.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mealtime

One of the things I find most stressful about being a parent is dinnertime. Before being a parent, dinnertime didn't really matter. Eric and I often ate in front of the TV with bowls of pasta, or we went out, or we ordered in... it wasn't really something we thought a lot about. We could skip dinner altogether. Or just eat pie and ice cream. I mean, we are adults, and dinner is just a meal. Sometimes, it was grand - when we had time to shop and cook and sit down together... or when we treated ourselves to a nice meal out (which, really, happened way more often than our budget should have allowed for). But, more often than those two scenarios, it was something that just happened.... with little to no planning because there was always something we could scrounge up and, really, it was just another meal.

Being a parent changes mealtime. Now I feel all this pressure to eat healthier (note, I didn't say healthy), plan meals, and - this is the really stressful part - eat together at an appointed hour that is more or less fixed in time, and way earlier than either Eric and I are accustomed to eating. Kai definitely thrives on a schedule (she's a child, after all), and so she eats at prescribed times (in between snacking at all other times, of course). Which means, if we want to eat together, we have to eat during those prescribed times.

I admit, this is a relatively new stressor. In the beginning, there was no pressure for us to eat together. I'd breastfeed her when I got home, and again before she went to sleep, and that was that. Eric and I could continue our old routine of eating whenever and whatever suited us (sans the nice meals out, of course). As we transitioned away from breast and towards normal feedings, we continued to feed her on her own schedule, particularly because we weren't exactly going to be eating the same thing, and it was so much easier to defrost some baby food and put it in front of her without worrying about what we were going to eat as well.

But, Kai has been eating pretty much whatever we eat for about 5 months, and as a result, I now feel pressure for us to all eat together. One too many public service announcements about the importance of sitting down for dinner together as a family. Honestly, I don't think these commercials are really geared towards us... they are more likely targeting families with older children - you know, the kind of children that sit through meals, don't throw food, and can actually talk and tell you about their day. But, for some reason, I feel like because Kai can eat what we eat, we no longer can get away with just watching her eat (well, we can't get away with it as often, at least).

Logistically speaking, dinners together at an appointed hour are much more challenging they would appear to be on paper. It means someone has to make dinner by about 6:30, which is also the time we are often walking in the door with Kailey after a long day. This is also why the easiest dinner option continues to be grabbing some yogurt, bread, cheese, peas, fruit, cold cuts (you get the idea) out of the fridge and plopping some random assortment of food in front of Kailey, holding off on official dinner prep until after she goes to bed and we have had a chance to unwind a bit. We have taken this approach to meals with some frequency for the last few months... but, increasingly, every time we feed Kailey "random things out of the fridge" rather than a "planned meal" I feel guilty.

Slowly, as Kai has continued to increase her repertoire of food choices, this guilt has translated into more family dinners, and I am slowly learning the tricks to a successful family meal. After 12 years of not really worrying/caring about dinner, this has been a bit of an adjustment.

As with most of our transitions, we have taken this one slowly. We started by trying to have dinner together once a week, on a weekend. Or, if we were feeling particularly ambitious, BOTH weekend days. On the weekend, making the dinner isn't the problem -- there are two of us, someone can watch Kai while the other person cooks, and we can start cooking before 6 PM -- all the elements to a successful family dinner, right? Well, all the elements to successfully getting dinner onto the table. Then there is the small matter of actually eating together, which is also a bit stressful, as the meal involves little actual conversation and a lot of, "no, Kailey, EAT it. Don't throw it." or "Kailey, try your chicken. No more berries. No. No more berries. NO. Don't throw it. Or spit it out. Eat it. Are you done? This is dinner. Are you done? Eat it. Sit. No. Sit. Sit. Sit." And she tends to "finish" before we have even started, which sort of defeats the purpose of eating together.

However, after about a month of what could only be called unsuccessful family meals, we have started to learn some tricks to making family dinners work. First, we no longer serve the entire meal together. Fruit and veggies are like Kai's desserts. If she sees peas, corn, carrots, or any variety of fruit - that's all she'll eat. Whatever we've made for the main course will just sit there, until it lands on the floor. But, if the only thing on her plate is the main course, she'll eat it.

Second, Kailey can be bribed -- with fruits and vegetables! I know this probably won't last -- it's too good to be true. But, Kai will try most anything if you tell her she can have some peas once she tries it. I just don't feel badly about bribing my child with vegetables, and I plan to continue to use the tactic until Kai wises up and realizes that the veggies are not really a choice (or, that she can have her veggies irrespective of whether she eats her main course, desipte my threats). Soon, she'll realize that she could, in fact, barter for something more forbidden... say, dessert or something that she might not really get if she refuses that main course. But, until that time, I plan on bartering with peas.

Third, Kai seems to eat better if she gets to be involved in the meal in some way, and involving her in the prep of the meal distracts her from the fact that she's hungry while we busy ourselves preparing it -- win-win. So, we've taken to having her set the table with us -- an activity that can be drawn out over about 10 minutes. First we put the plates on the table (Kai carries her plate from the kitchen to the living room), then run back to the kitchen to get a cup, then back again for a spoon, back again for a fork, then a napkin... and, eventually, you've killed 10 minutes and Kai is feeling ready to eat anything that you put in front of her because of the anticipation of dinner (at least, this is my theory). Using these tricks made our weekend dinners much more pleasant (as in, we'd all sit and eat our food for about 10 minutes, before Kai started trying to toss items overboard and causing general chaos).

A successful 10 minutes of eating together was enough to motivate me to try a few weekday dinners. We have gotten better at planning things for weekday meals that only take 15 (or fewer) minutes to get onto the table, which is about how long you can distract Kailey by allowing her to "help" with dinner. We are up to about 3 - 4 dinners together a week, which I think is pretty good. On the nights that one of us is working late or that we are just too exhausted to deal with dinner (or we don't have anything in mind that can be made in 15 or fewer minutes), we resort back to scrounging through the fridge and assembling a random assortment of food for Kailey. But, we are starting to eat together with greater frequency. So, here's to continuing to muddle through family dinners! Maybe someday I'll make dinner every night (although I am really not holding my breath... and neither should you!)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Transitions



Kai is a child who understands transitions, it seems. Eric and/or I were home with her for the first 8 months of her life, but she had no trouble transitioning to being with our good friend Doug three days a week. Indeed, it was the opposite. From the very beginning, she would wave her hands excitedly as we pulled up to Doug's house. Now, in the morning, we ask if she wants to go to Doug's and she runs to the front door, frantically trying to open it. We've started visiting daycares and preschools, and Kai has accompanied us on many of these visits. Walking into a room full for 12 children does not begin to phase her. Again, the opposite. She squirms to get down, and immediately starts to play with the toys and introduce herself to the other children. I've found issues with every place we've visited; although, with the exception of one, they've all been good programs where Kai would certainly continue to thrive. I just can't really imagine leaving her with so many other children -- and, it's not because she can't handle it (clearly). I just worry about everything - safety, top among them (although, when it comes to safety issues, one could say I have a tendency to be on the hyper-vigilant side. I am the person who refuses any amusement park rides, won't go on trips that involve any combination of height, speed, or the possibility of being subjected to hypothermia or bear attacks. I've been known to be a bit of a lurker (as Sarah and Doug call it). It's possible that I've called the police when Eric was an hour late. So, it could be that my safety concerns are a tad overblown). Bottom line: I am not so good at transitions. I can see Kai as a teenager now, rolling her eyes at me and saying "mooommmmm, STOP worrying."

Our transition to a big girl bed is yet another example of Kai's adaptability, and my resistance to change. We bought her a toddler bed about a month ago (as I mentioned a couple of posts ago), which she was excited about right away. From the moment we set it up, she started signing "sleep". She knew that one could sleep in the bed (in addition to jumping on it or using it to practice climbing skills). For the first week, we just let it be in her room without trying to get her to sleep in it. She would jump on it, run to it when she was tired and sign "sleep", throw the blankets on and off the bed... she liked it.

video (ok, I know I've posted this video before... but, it seems appropriate here. Also, I tend to be a little redundant).

Then we decided to try a few naps in the bed. The first time I put her down for a nap in her bed, I crawled into the bed with her. She curled up on my shoulder the way she always does... then she lifted her head, looking at me and then at the wall, that was pushing up against her, as if to say, "ummm... it's a little crowded." She put her head back down, and went to sleep and proceeded to nap as though nothing were different. Next day, same drill, same result. We did that for a few more days, with absolutely no trauma.


This week, we started putting her to sleep in her bed at nighttime. The first time I went to put her to sleep in her bed, she happily crawled into bed, let me cover her (covers are NOT permitted when she sleeps in our bed, but apparently, they are fine in her own bed). Then I tried to get in next to her and Kai pushed me and slapped at me. She wanted her bed to herself! It was as if she had decided that if we were going to be doing this "big girl bed" thing with some frequency, she was going to need enough room to fall asleep properly, without being crammed against the wall. I sat on the floor next to her bed, holding Kai's hand and she drifted off to sleep. Again, absolutely no trauma. Granted, I am sitting right next to her until she falls asleep, but, really, I think we may be taking this transition a little slower than she needs (but a little faster than we need!) Kailey is sleeping in her own bed as I type this. We are still bringing her into our bed with us before we go to sleep -- mostly because neither of us wants to crawl out of bed in the middle of the night to go get her when she wakes up (I know, we're lazy!) Baby steps for us, big girl steps for Kailey.

Friday, October 30, 2009

One and a Half


Kailey turned one and a half this month (I know, she turned 18 months a couple of days before my last post... so, this post is a little delayed. But, hey, we've been in other parts of the country - Portland and D.C. - for half of this month, so I am proud to be writing anything at all!). Since I have been so remiss to write anything as of late, I want to just catch up on all of Kai's latest tricks and treasures.

Kai is continuing to sign up a storm. We've stopped teaching her new signs (we're too lazy to look up all the words that she wants to be able to say). Not to be deterred, Kai continues to invent new signs for the various things she wants to communicate. She has made up a sign for Popsicle (licking her finger), drawing (acting as though her left hand is a tablet and scribbling with her right finger), washing her hands (rubbing her hands together -- which may be the actual sign, but we didn't teach her that), spider (waving her hands madly in front of her face... the way one does when they run into a spider web and are terrified that they have a creepy crawler in their hair... a reaction she has observed MANY times since our house gets overrun by spiders at about this time of the year), hot (she just blows... the way I do on her food when it is too hot. But, Kai will look at the heater and blow and then point to it and blow some more. It's pretty funny), car (pantomiming driving with one hand, just like Eric and I usually do... she also uses this for train, scooter, motorcycle... anything with four wheels). The ways she watches us and uses our own reactions and hand motions to make up signs is just incredible to me.

Indeed, Kai is a keen observer of everything, and she continues to demonstrate how closely she is watching(it's a little unnerving... what is she learning from us that we are really not intending to teach her?!) The signs are one indication of how much she is watching our every movement. But, she is watching more than us, of course. For example: this last week, we traveled to D.C. and while we were walking through the airport we passed the bathroom. As we walked past, Kai started signing that she wanted to wash her hands. "Later," I said. Further up ahead, we passed another restroom. Kai looked at the signs outside the restrooms (you know, the "woman" symbol and "man" symbol") and signed, again, that she wanted to wash her hands. I realized that she recognized that we were passing a restroom because of those symbols. I was totally blown away. How did she know what a restroom was?! Sure, we've gone in restrooms before (duh) -- but, I've never pointed out the little signs outside the restroom to her, and a week later, it continues to blow my mind that she noticed the symbol and connected it to the room and further connected that to the fact that she might be able to access some water in that particular room (you know, like a bathtub, only much smaller! Kai will do anything to splash in water for a moment.) Now, every time we pass a public restroom, Kai lets me know that - you know, if I would oblige her, we could go in there and wash her hands.

She is starting to talk a bit more. Her best word, by far, is "DOWN" which she demands, more than she says. It's more like "DDDOOOooooWWWWNnnnnnnnnn" while she points at the ground. She really doesn't like to be restrained. Shocking, I know. She also has started saying "turtle" -- more like "tur - tu". It's very cute. Actually, most of the words Kai bothers to say are animals and animal sounds (in addition to "DOOOOWWWWNNNnnnnnnn"). She says "duck" and when she wants to make the sound a duck makes, she moves her mouth like she's quacking, but no sound comes out. I am not sure what's going on there, but it's very funny. She does a very credible meow, bark, and monkey sound -- observe:
video

Kai has also become an avid dancer. She loves when Eric breaks out his guitar and starts playing. She immediately starts stomping and spinning in circles. It is so funny. Although, it involves a good deal of falling -- spinning in circles when you have the stability of, well, an 18-month old, isn't really the best idea. But, it really doesn't seem to bother her (the falling), so I try not to let it bother me. It just looks ouchie.
video

I think Kai has also decided that she is five, not one and a half. There is a park in our neighborhood that has a a toddler playground (specially designed for the 2 - 5 set), a "big kid" playground (for the 5 - 12 year olds), a duck pond, basketball court, etc. Kai has been playing in the toddler playground for some time now. She loves it. The slides, the sand, the climbing. What's not to like? But, unfortunately, the folks who designed the playground put the toddler swings in the "big kid" area. Kai LOVES to swing. She sits as far forward in the swing as possible, then she hangs her head down and spreads her arms -- anything to make it more like flying. The higher the better, as far as she is concerned. Every time Kai notices the swings, she squeals. But, until this week, she always ignored all the big kid play equipment around her. However, yesterday, she looked up from her swinging heights and realized there is a world beyond the toddler playground. She insisted she was done swinging and decided to go for the "big kid" slide, climbing up to the top. The slide looks a lot like the toddler slide -- it's covered and yellow. But, it's not a toddler slide. Luckily, right before she launched herself down (on her belly and head first), I hollered to Eric to come catch her (I was at the top of the slide making sure she didn't jump to her death from one of the many unenclosed platforms). Eric caught her head, right before it hit the ground. Turns out that slide was a very fast, very steep slide. Good thing he was there! Kai, of course, immediately signed "again" and started making her way back up the equipment. She also tried out the big kids swings, the monkey bars, and the balance beam. Five, not one, it seems.





While Kai is absolutely fearless on her own terms (at the playground, at the gym, etc), it turns out that she is not completely fearless in all aspects of life. I've taken her on two merry-go-rounds recently, and both of them completely freaked her out. As soon as the carousel animal started going up and down, Kai's eyes got huge and she started clawing at me to get off the crazy beast and into my arms, where I preceded to hold her the rest of the ride. No more merry-go-rounds for us in the near future... it's hard to hold a terrified toddler while spinning in circles.




So, those are little glimpses into this last month. I need to try to go back to writing more frequent updates so that, when I do write something, it isn't such a mish mash.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Beds and Bottles

This month is a little crazy. We were in Portland last week for a week, and leave on Friday for D.C. for another week. In between we've been running around like mad trying to keep up on house projects and work. Like updating/redecorating Kai's bedroom including getting her a new bed!! I mentioned awhile back (at least I think I did) that Kai managed to climb out of her crib (well, she didn't quite complete the task because I caught her in the act). Combine that with the fact that, at 18 months, we have started to scheme about ways to get Kailey to sleep in her own bedroom, and we decided to buy a toddler bed. She LOVES it. I mean, not to sleep in, but as a toy - it rocks. Here she is the first day we set it up in her room.

video

And, today, she is napping in her bed!! Next up - nighttime sleeping on her own... at least, that is our goal (realizing, of course, that nighttime could be a bit of a process.. but napping is a big step for us. Very exciting developments, I tell you what).



In addition to starting to sleep in her own room (I love how I count one nap as sleeping in her own room), Kai has also given up bottles (before 18 months - woo hoo!!) I only note the age because our doctor kept telling us to wean the bottles before 18 months, and as we were approaching that deadline this month, I had more or less given up on the idea. Kai EMPHATICALLY asks for a bottle at night, and the few times I had tried a sippy cup instead, she completely lost it and it took more than an hour to get her to sleep. I figured she'd wean herself when she was ready, and this was a battle I wasn't very interested in fighting in the meantime. It's not like she was sleeping with the bottle, she was just drinking a bottle before bed. But, when we went to Portland this last week, we decided to just leave the bottles behind -- and with all the excitement (and exhaustion) of traveling, Kai never really noticed. Now that we are back at home, she has taken to sippy cups before bedtime and it's no big thing. Success and before the deadline! Now I won't have to lie at her 18-month check up this week... big smiles all around!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Catching Flies

(this picture has nothing to do with this story... I just find this picture amusing)

Kailey is developing more of a sense of humor, which is hysterical in itself, even if the things that Kai finds funny are really, well, not. Her newest joke is pretending like she is catching flies. We ate most of our meals outside for the last couple of months, enjoying our new deck and the late summer the Bay Area is known for. At one of these meals, there were a lot of flies and mosquitoes, which is really not that common, but it was a particularly hot and buggy day. So, I kept swatting at the flies and clapping my hands together at the mosquitoes to try to catch them. Kailey thought this was Hy-ster-i-cal. She couldn't eat anything she was laughing so hard. I didn't really get the joke, but was cracking up watching her crack up -- and, of course, I started swatting at imaginary flies and mosquitoes just to get her to laugh again.

A few days later, we were sitting outside and Kailey started clapping her hands. But, not clapping like she does at the end of a song (in true appreciation of the fine rendition of I Like the Flowers we just listened to). No, this was random, sporadic clapping. She would clap above her head and then clap in front of her. She was looking at us and trying not to crack up. We just looked at her, densely. "Are you clapping?" I asked. Kai got an exasperated look on her face and shook her head, "no". She then swatted her hand around, again trying not to crack up. "Ohhhh... you're catching flies," I said. Kai started laughing in response, and clapped at another imaginary mosquito, so pleased with the joke she had made.

She has been repeating this joke at various intervals throughout the day ever since. I never really got the joke to begin with, but, every time she does it, I crack up... so, it must be a pretty good joke.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

THE Smile

Kai has a new expression that she has been perfecting. She breaks this look out as we pass children in stores, at the playground, for animals (both real animals and those in stories). It is a very deliberate look -- I can see her assessing a situation and seeing if it is worthy of THE smile. I think she believes it to be extra special, and saves it for people (or animals) she finds especially fetching or situations she finds particularly entertaining. The other time she flashes THE smile is when there is something that she really wants (like watching the "I Love the Flowers" video or "Five Green Peas in a Peapod Pressed" video over and over again... as soon as the video in question ends, she claps and then she flashes THE smile as though her smile is hardwired to the "replay" button). She is clearly convinced that, once flashed, whatever she desires will be hers. It cracks me up.

It took a long while to capture the look because the camera is really not worthy of THE smile. But, we got it. Do you feel the power of THE smile? Irresistible, right?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Persistent Is A Better Word For It...

A few posts back, I wrote about Kai's stubborn streak. Persistence is a better word(well, I suppose the refusing to sign when she clearly knew what we were asking her to do was a bit of stubbornness). But, beyond being stubborn, lately I've observed a persistence and determination that I find both exhilarating and incredibly annoying. Kai really likes to do things by herself and for herself. I mean she REALLY likes to do things on her own. Really. As in - if you try to assist, she'll throw herself on the floor in a fit or start to scream at the top of her lungs. I want her to do things herself, but every once in awhile it'd be great if she'd just let me do it for her.

Like eating. We are no longer allowed to feed her. She can feed herself, thank you very much. And, as long as you sit back and let her have the fork and spoon, she is happy to try to get the pea onto the fork and balance it and then transfer it to the spoon and then - with great flair - fling it into her mouth. Of course, it usually ends up on the floor. And, it would be so nice if she would let us just load up the spoon a few times so she gets some actual nourishment. But, no. If you touch her fork or spoon, she will. not. open her mouth. No. It's like trying to pry an oyster open with your bare hands. It isn't going to happen. So, we let her feed herself. I suppose it's good she is interested in developing these skills. Good. And messy. And a little boring (the meals are soooo long). But, good.





And this weekend I took her to Children's Fairyland. It's this park in Oakland that has a bunch of storybook sets (based on various fairytales), rides, gardens, a train. For example, there are sets for the Old Lady in the Shoe, Peter Rabbit, Little Miss Muffet... you get the picture. You walk up to the set and you can look at (and in many cases climb inside or explore) the set. And, there's also a little sound box that you put a "magic key" into and it tells you the fairytale associated with the set. The first time we went to Fairyland, I didn't bother getting a key because I figured Kai wouldn't be that interested in the talking boxes. But, lately, she loves her little music cubes and other toys that play music or talk to her. So, this time, I bought her a key thinking she would enjoy listening to the music. I was close. She wasn't too interested in the music, but the key. THAT she wanted. As soon as she saw me stick the key into the first keyhole, she was hooked. She wanted to do that. The thing is, the key is grooved, and you have to insert it just right or it won't go. And then you have to turn it to get the music to start. Kailey watched me do it once and then grabbed the key and started poking at the hole. And poking. And poking. After about five minutes I said, "Kai, do you want me to show you?", while simultaneously reaching for the key. "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" she screamed in response, whipping the key away from me, and promptly turning her attention back to the keyhole, calm as can be, pretending as though I hadn't just tried to steal her precious key and interfere in her new life's pursuit. Fine, I thought. There's no harm in this. Poking. Poking. Poking. After another 5 minutes, I was getting bored of watching her and feeling frustrated for her. Mind you, Kai was not the least bit frustrated. She was just trying to figure it out, turning the key, looking at the keyhole, trying again. Happy as a clam, really. But, I wanted to show her once more how to do it (I had only done it once -- I thought maybe further tutorial would help). Again, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO". But, this time I managed to get the key, which Kai responded to by sitting on the ground, hard, and crying. She clearly was not going to watch my tutorial. I handed her the key. She stood up, again as if nothing had happened, and continued her attempt at figuring out the key and the keyhole. After I-have-no-idea-how-long-but-a-really-really-long-time, she finally got the key in the damn thing. "WOO HOO!! Good Job!" I shouted, turning it for her so she could hear the song, turning it back, and removing the key for her. She was none too happy about me finishing the project for her, and snatched the key back from me, shooting me a look that said, "don't TOUCH it". She promptly started to try again, determined to complete the entire activity on her own. Sigh. And that was our day at Fairyland.







But, the thing is, she figured those keys out. And once she did it a couple of times on her own, she was ready to move on. So, we ended the day by riding the train, playing at the Pirate Ship that is surrounded by a giant sandbox, and exploring the music tunnel. But, the first hour, we spent at a box with a key. Thrilling. Clearly, I will be learning what we call "patience" in the coming years to cope with her persistence. And maybe patience will be its own reward because, really, it is cool to watch her figure things out on her own.

Friday, September 11, 2009

She's Listening





It's easy to forget that Kailey understands so much more than she can actually say, because she says so little. She is up to about 30 signs/words, which seems like a lot compared to a month ago, but still leaves us forgetting that she understands many times that number. But, lately, Kailey has been demonstrating how much she is hearing and understanding.

A case in point - we were driving back from the aquarium, discussing Kai's first words. "It wasn't really a word - it was growling," I said. "Does she still growl?" Janet asked. In response, Kai started growling. Well, there's your answer!

And, last night, we were playing right before bedtime. Kai was going from the dishwasher (where she has a new magnetic toy that she loves) to outside, and running around. We didn't think she was paying any attention to us. Eric glanced at the clock and announced, "10 minutes till bedtime," referring both to the time and to a book that we read Kai. Kai stopped in her tracks, looked at Eric, and then ran into the bedroom, grabbed the book "10 Minutes Till Bedtime" and handed it to Eric. She then resumed playing. It was hysterical. I couldn't believe she knew what Eric was referencing.

All those words that she has stored in her brain are going to come spilling out soon -- I can't wait.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Neighborhood Cat

I depart from my regularly scheduled blogging (all Kailey all the time) to bring you a funny story from our neighborhood block party this evening. The party was held right at the top of the public stairs that run along our house. We heard the music playing, so we all trooped up the stairs to check it out. "All" including Abby and Oscar. Abby likes to take walks with us, she always has. She likes meeting people. She always knows all of our neighbors before we do. And, everywhere that we've lived with Abby (DC, San Mateo, San Francisco and Oakland) our neighbors always considered Abby to be, at least in part, their cat. I have no doubt that she learns the schedules of those in the neighborhood. She is always there, ready to greet us, when we get home. But, during that 10 - 12 hour stretch when we're gone, she spends her time with the other people she has met who have come to think of her as part of their family. When we were in DC, there were numerous times when some neighbor three blocks over would try to adopt her. When we were in SF, our next door neighbor asked if she could have her when we moved to Oakland. We said no.

Abby has definitely been her happiest since we moved here. She loves this house, particular all the "woods" that are ideal hunting grounds and the public stairway that runs along the house, giving her the chance to meet people as they come and go.

I didn't realize how well Abby has acquainted herself with people around our neighborhood until the block party this evening. when a group of school girls, ages 5 -6, show up and a few of them start to pet Abby. "That's Abby" I said to them. The girls looked at me with that annoyed look that children get when you've condescended to them, as though I had told them the sky was blue. "We know," one of them responded, and then turned on her heel and looked at her friends with that "can you believe that woman?" expression. I started cracking up. Duh. Everyone knows Abby!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Inventing Words

Kai has now gone from learning new signs to inventing them. The development of language is so fascinating to watch! "Bubbles" was the word she was searching for last night, while gazing longingly at the bottle. First, she did her usual reach for it accommpanied by a grunt, but quickly pulled her hand back. You could tell she was thinking about it -- how do I say that? How do I tell them what I want? And then, she put her hand up for her mouth, to do the sign for water, and blew. Like she was blowing bubbles. It was so cool!! I wasn't going to let her play with the bubbles at 7:30, but, you know - she invented a word! We got out the bubbles.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Signing

I swear Kailey reads this blog. Her tendency to do something right after I have remarked on her refusal to do that very thing is uncanny. I've written before about how Kailey likes to prove me wrong. And, after reading my last post, she decided that signing isn't such a bad thing and learned a whole host of signs this last week that she now uses consistently and accurately.

She now says:
1. please (such a nice word! She usually does this with both hands, so it looks a lot like "bath")
2. milk (this is the one that she refused for soooooo long.. but, now, it seems she realizes that signing milk is so much easier than having a tantrum)
3. water
4. cracker (really, she doesn't do this one right. She taps her forearm or the top of her hand, and it is supposed to be her elbow. But, we know what she means)
5. grapes (she is closer on this one -- but, she still doesn't do it quite right. She uses the same sign that she does for "cracker" -- but, hey! a 50/50 guess is better than a grunt and waving her hand in the direction of the kitchen!)
6. bath (I sort of wish she hadn't learned this word - since she has been asking for baths non-stop... not that she has been getting baths non-stop. Except on vacation - when we let her take 4 - 5 baths a day in the jacuzzi tub in our room. That was a bad precedent, clearly)
7. book
8. bird (sometimes. We screwed up with this word and taught her the wrong sign and then tried to correct it -- now she does both, sometimes signing it correctly, sometimes signing it the way we originally taught her. Oh well)
9. again/more (this is the one she started doing with frequency first - and I list it 9th. Shows how my memory works!) And, she really only does the sign for "again" but it also means "more")
10. help (mostly when she gets stuck on her new scooter and wants a lift off of it!)
11. up (although, she often does it with only one hand -- so it seems a little interchangable with "help")
12. hungry

Those are the words she has down (well, if you aren't too picky about how clearly she actually signs -- we know what she means!) -- she also sometimes does "berry", "thank you", "juice" and "peas" (her new favorite food -- she ate THREE bowls of peas in one sitting while we were at the beach, and two for lunch today. Crazy kid). That's a lot of words to learn in just one week (we had only been working on milk, water and more previously -- because she wasn't really very interested in the signing. But, once she took to it this week, we taught her a bunch of other words -- and now she's picking them up left and right) -- and a lot of proving me wrong!!

What else can I say she isn't doing just to get her to do it? ha ha -- just kidding. Obviously, I am kidding about her dogged determination to do things just to prove me wrong! I have no idea why she suddenly busted out with 12 signs this week, but it very cool to be communicating with her on this more advanced level (12 words - so advanced!) The last two nights, she has signed the bedtime routine for us. At about 7:30 (earlier tonight - she was tired) she signs "bath". Once we're done with that, we put her PJs on and she starts signing "milk" (which she gets after she brushes her teeth - I know, wrong order. Whatever.) Then, when she has milk in hand, she drops the bottle to sign "book". Pretty cute.

Here she is signing some of her new words (I couldn't remember half the words she knows when I took this video!):
video

Saturday, August 22, 2009

stubborn streak


Kailey has a bit of a stubborn streak (hmmm.... wherever did she get that from? Her father and I are so flexible and willing to jump through unnecessary hoops just because someone else asked us to). Ok, duh, genes. But, Kai inherited the stubborn genes in a double dose, I think. The only time Kai gets really upset, as in temper-tantrum, throw herself on the ground screaming and crying, is when we ask her to do something just to prove that she knows what we mean. I'm talking about signing. Baby signs! I totally see the value in them, and get why it would be nice if Kai would take to signing to tell us what she wants. However, Kai does not agree. She doesn't really see the point. She has developed a whole system of telling us what she wants. For example, if she wants to go outside, she runs to the front door (or the back door) and shakes the handle. If she wants to read a book, she grabs a book and crawls in your lap. If she wants to eat, she runs to the fridge. If she wants milk, she runs to the fridge and points up at the bottles on top of the fridge.

Once she has indicated what she wants, we usually respond. For example, if she is at the fridge, pointing at the bottles, "do you want milk?" we ask, and do the sign at the same time and Kai nods yes and turns and points at the bottles again (and sometimes comes and gives us a big hug -- I guess for figuring out what she wants). If you take it a step further (which we almost always do) and say, "Kai, say milk" while making the sign again, she gets pissed. She frantically points to the bottle again and we make the sign and say, "you can have it, say milk". At that point, usually Kailey will throw herself on the ground wailing.

Could it be she just doesn't know the sign? It could be. But, it's not. The last couple of days, I decided to quiz Kai on the few signs we do frequently first thing in the morning, when she doesn't really want any thing and she is in her best mood. This morning I said, "Kai, can you say water?" and she held her hand up to her mouth. "Can you say milk?" and she squeezed her hand. "Can you say more?" and she tapped her hands together. I asked her to say "water" again and she looked at me with that look - "didn't we already cover this mother?" I could hear her thinking. She grabbed a book and turned away from me, done with the quiz. She hates being quizzed. But, she knows the signs. I knew she did.

So, after our quiz - we went into the kitchen and I said, "Kai, do you want water, milk or juice?" signing each of the options. She ran to the fridge and pointed at the bottles and then came back and gave me a big hug. Sigh. I said, "Kai, which one?" signing and saying all three again. She looked at the signs, the dreaded signs, and threw herself on the ground. I got her some water and asked her if water was what she wanted, handing it to her. She looked at the water, and gave it back to me, and pointed at the bottles. I told her to sign milk and, practically glaring at me and so quick I would barely notice it if I wasn't really looking, she squeezed her hand one time and shot me another look. I'll take it, "that's right!! Good girl!" and I got her the milk. Stubborn child.

On some level, I understand her resistance. She knows that we know what she wants. In her mind, the communication loop is complete. She has indicated, by running to the fridge and pointing, and we have confirmed, by saying "do you want milk?" What more is there to say? (as an aside, even when we don't say, "do you want milk?" but just say, "what do you want?" she knows we know what she means -- she just points at the bottles again and looks at us like we're idiots, since we've been through this a million times before). I just never thought a one year old would be so stubborn about just saying the word when she clearly knows it! I guess there's no further proof needed - she's our kid.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Classic Kai

This video is classic Kailey:

video

She goes after what she wants, and is very no nonsense about it - when reaching for it doesn't work, she just makes her way round the table and - inevitably - when the child she is attempting to steal from starts screaming, she is completely unfazed and continues to try to obtain the object of her affection.

Kailey will walk into the middle of a group of 4 - 6 year olds who are twice her size, and emerge with whatever object she set her sights on. She often gets knocked around in the process - but, usually, that doesn't deter her (and she's been known to knock right back). I find it amusing, but I do keep explaining the concept of sharing and reminding her that she cannot just grab things from other kids. And, I don't let her take things from other kids (the other child in the video kept his bucket! I just find his terror at Kai's approach so funny).

This is a kid who knows what she wants and how to get it. We're in trouble. I know.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

16 Month Vignettes




Wow. Kai turned 16 months old this week. Time is going so fast these days. I think part of it is the routine of our days. Or, I should say, the juxtaposition of highly routinized days and the fact that Kailey is changing so quickly in the context of that routine. Every week brings a lot of familiarity -- working, Wednesdays with Kailey, watching Kai on the weekends while Eric remodels, commuting, that rush to make dinner and have fun in the 1.5 hours between the time we get home and the time Kai goes to bed, trips to the park or the toddler cafe, walks to the store, playing on the (new!) back deck. Combine all of that with the constant deadlines (and looming deadlines), appointments, errands, house cleaning, and other tasks -- and each week has barely begun when it ends. But, despite the familiarity and the rush of each day, there is a lot of variation to our days because Kailey is constantly changing and regaling us with new tricks and delights. The speed at which she is growing up combined with the speed of every day life... I think it just has put time on turbo charge. Maybe that's not it, but it's my theory as to why time has REALLY sped up this year. Either that or I'm just getting old. But, in any event, the summer is almost over and Kailey is 16 months!! I think the best way to capture Kai at 16 months is a few stories:

Kailey loves the outdoors and is quite happy that Eric built her a deck off the back of the house that nearly doubles our living space and gives her a huge area to explore and run around. The first few days we had the deck, she kept going to the back door and saying something that sounded a lot like "OUTSIDE". She even learned to open the back door to let herself out. But, after a few trips out barefoot, she got a bit distressed. It turns out that oak leaves are sharp and ouchie to walk on. So, the other day, Eric and I were out back and Kai was standing in the doorway looking at us, but refusing to come outside. At first, we didn't know what was going on, but then she reached her arms up to me. I said, "Kai, come on out" and she looked at her feet. So I said, "Kai, do you need shoes?" She nodded and ran to fetch them, plopping herself down when she was back in view and holding out her feet to me. As soon as her shoes were on, she ran onto the deck.

Once outside, she busies herself collecting the oak tree seeds. We don't like her eating them, and she knows this -- so she picks them up and then waits for us to look at her and pops them in her mouth (the little fink!). But, she knows what "spit it out" means, and spits them back at us once she has us worked into a sufficient frenzy.

She also has gotten quite good at imitating us. She sweeps the back deck and, when Eric was still building it, would pick up the tools after he put them down and mimic him, filing the edge of the boards and squatting down to examine her work. It was too funny!

It's so fun to be communicating with her these days. In the morning we'll say, "Kai, do you want to go to Penny's house?" and, in response, she'll make a beeline for the door and start pounding on it (as in, YES! NOW! Let's GOOOO people!) Yesterday, we were in the bedroom when I asked her that question and she started running out of the room, headed for the front door. Eric yelled after her, "bye Kailey" and, without stopping or turning around, she waved over her shoulder, yelling "BYE! BYE!"

She has favorite books, and beyond favorite books - favorite pages within the books. She really likes, "My Friends" and, particularly, the page with the ant and the page with the birds. Every time we get to the ant, she stops frantically turning the pages (she likes to get through her books quickly) and points at the teeny tiny ant on the page (and then resumes frantically turning the pages). And then, we reach the birds, she stops and coos and then looks at me so that I can "sing" like a bird (you know, "tweet! tweet!").

She also loves the temporary tattoo Eric put on her arm yesterday. It depicts a little dog. It was hard to convince her to sit still to put it on (she thought we were trying to torture her and threw a bit of a fit) but, once she saw the result, she was quite pleased. She kept admiring it and then would turn to something else, but after a moment would turn to us and hold up her arm, point at the little tattoo and yell "DOG!" And when we asked, "Kai, where's your dog?" she pointed to her arm. Doug told me the next morning, when we dropped her off, she rolled up her sleeve and was showing off her tattoo to him and Penny. It's still on today -- she'll be so disappointed when it wears off.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Report from the High Risk Clinic Part II

The only high risk category Kai seems to be in these days is the one of imminent danger of needing a trip to the ER from scaling a dangerous object (e.g. the bookshelf) or attempting to do something exactly as she sees us do it, forgetting to account for the fact that she's ONE (e.g. taking the stairs one step/one foot at a time -- not realizing that her legs are only long enough to do this for the first step or two and then she is reeeaccchhinnngggg for the next step, while holding onto the railing, and putting herself into a most precarious position that, ultimately, results in a backwards tumble. Of course, we're always there to catch her... but, if we weren't -- ER. That's all.) Anyway, my point is, developmentally-speaking, we don't think or worry about the "high risk" category that Kai was put into at birth. I think I mentioned the first time I wrote about her high risk clinical exam that Kailey was on the borderline for being admitted into the clinic. Babies who are born before 32 weeks and who are less than 3 pounds qualify. There is some dispute as to when Kai was born. By my calendar, she turned 32 weeks that Thursday that she entered the world. But, according to Kaiser, she was 31 weeks and 6 days on that day. And, she was born 3 pounds and one ounce. So, in my estimation, she didn't qualify for the clinic on either factor. By theirs, she qualified for her birth week and the fact that she dipped below 3 pounds shortly after her birth qualified her in the weight category. So, she qualified. I am never one to pass up on extra services and assessments, so I didn't argue.

And, actually, the clinical appointments are fun. They have Kai run through a series of development tests and it is fun to watch her figure out what she is supposed to be doing. Today, she was very engaged in the various activities for about 30 minutes, and then she wanted to walk around and explore the rest of the clinic. The therapist thought that she had a very good attention span for a one year old, which we were pleased to hear (since everyone is always commenting on how busy Kailey is, and we (being the nuerotics we are) worry they mean she is too busy -- but, for the assessment, she did manage to sit on my lap and do the various activities for quite some time). She figured out how to get the little bunny out from under the clear box (that was only open on one side) even when the therapist kept repositioning which side she placed the opening on, and how to put pegs into the holes, and track which of two washcloths the therapist used to cover a little duck and retrieve the duck once the therapist stopped moving the cloths around. She colored, flipped through a book, threw the balls, retrieved objects from a cup and put objects back in a cup. The only thing she didn't do is identify various body parts on the baby doll that the therapist pulled out of her bag -- but, I think that's mostly because Kailey has never seen a baby doll and was too distracted by the strange toy to pay any attention to what she was being asked. She kept shaking the doll like a rattle. Shaken baby syndrome. I crack myself up.

The other reason we like the clinic is because it both is that it's one more reminder of how far we've come in the last 15 months -- and moves us that much further away from the NICU days. She is no longer a preemie, at least not to us. She's just a normal, active, happy 15 month old who is doing 15 month old things.

Monday, August 3, 2009

hugging and reading and hugging while reading

Kailey has a sudden love of books. Obsession, really. She picks books off her bookshelf and then begins nearly hyperventilating as she walks over to us, hand outstretched... like she's been wandering around a desert for a week without water. Must. read. now! Then, when she reaches us, she tosses the book to us and proceeds to crawl into our lap, settling herself in for a story. It's adorable - particularly because, until now, it was hard to get Kailey to stop moving long enough to change her diaper, much less cuddle with her for a moment. But, it doesn't last long. As soon as we open the book to being story time, she starts madly flipping from page to page, "read FASTER". Or, really, it seems she is just looking for a particular page -- the one with the ball, or cat, or dog, or duck, or flap, or button... you get the idea. She seems to have her books memorized (I know I do! "in the great green room there was a telephone and a red balloon and a picture of the cow jumping over the moon and there were three little bears sitting on chairs..." Seriously, I've had Kai's books playing over and over in my head. "hey big guys. Open your eyes. What do you say? It's a brand new day." Makes a person go batty, I tell you). Where was I? Oh, yes, the "reading" aka mad flipping through the books. The cat book is all about the page with the squeaky ball, and the mouse at the end of the book. She likes to tear through the book, reading it as quickly as possible. But, then, when we get to the end, she protests and flips it over so that you can start again. Ummm... why don't we just read it at a normal pace instead of speed reading the same thing 10 times in a row?

But, still, she seems to be developing a thing for books, which is very cute. And, it is fun to read to her. I am obsessed with getting new books, though, to stop the loop in my head of her current favorite selections. I need to hide Goodnight Moon. That book is like a bad 80s tune that just won't stop.

Kai's favorite books are ones with animals, of course -- maybe because she can combine reading with her other new favorite activity... hugging. Kailey loves to hug things. Animals and other children are on the top of her list of huggable things, and that includes animals in books. Every time we get to a picture of a cat, dog, duck, bunny in one of her books, she leans in to hug it. It's really cute and very funny. And, the animals in the books don't mind. This is as opposed to the actual animals that we share our living space with. Kailey likes to chase them around, trying to corner them for a hug. They don't like hugs. I mean, her hugs are not ouchy... she just leans her head in until it touches whatever object she is trying to hug. But, the animals find it a little freaky and try to avoid her at all costs. The children on the playground also seem to think it a bit forward. A little girl came up to Kai at the park yesterday and said, "hi". Next thing she knew, Kailey was leaning into her, arms outstretched. She didn't exactly hug back, but she didn't run away either. So, success!

Anyway, as soon as I get a new camera (Wednesday!) I will post pictures of all the hugging.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Climber

Kai could climb before she could walk. I don't mean she could slither up a slope. She could climb. She has always been more interested in vertical pursuits, and her ability to walk has only fueled her desire to go higher. This child climbs. Nothing is off limits. Kai will throw her leg up onto the wall to see if there's a hold that she missed upon first examination. This is how she scaled the coffee table this evening. The table is only a few inches shorter than she is -- so she couldn't just throw her leg up onto the table (almost, but not quite) But, she didn't let that stop her from trying and in her attempt, she managed to snag the window sill. Yes, the window sill -- which is about an inch thick. She got a toe hold and, the next thing I knew, she was on the table -- quite pleased with herself, too.

This all went down right after I walked into her room - where I had deposited her moments earlier so that I could wash my hands -- and saw her about to make her great escape from the crib. I have no idea how she hooked her leg over the crib rail -- but, somehow she had done it and she was ready to throw the rest of her weight over the rail until I yelled, "KAILEY, NO!!" She is not usually deterred by the word "no." She thinks it's funny. As in, "don't be ridiculous... there is no way I can hurt myself by yanking this cord out of this outlet. Calm DOWN, people." But, this time, I must have struck the right tone because she crumpled into a ball and started crying. Either that or she realized she was about to plunge herself to her death and she experienced fear for the first time EVER.

I know I birthed this child, but I swear she didn't come from me. I am not interested in heights. Or climbing. Or throwing myself around. Or being tossed in the air (work with me here -- assuming I was tossable. I know, I'm not). I like to be firmly planted on the ground at all times.

Kailey would like to move as quickly as possible at whatever heights are possible and then plunge towards the earth only to be caught at the last moment. She's insane. That, and she'd like to take everything apart and see how it works. And no, I don't mean toys. I mean things that adults use because, you know, she doesn't really consider herself a baby.

I've been solo parenting the last couple of weekends while Eric builds the decks and I feel like I am constantly throwing myself between Kailey and a trip to the ER. I try to keep a full itinerary in the hopes of completely wearing her out, but, that's another thing she doesn't do easily. She's like the energizer bunny. Even when she goes to sleep at night, she fights so hard to stay awake despite her obvious exhaustion. Her eyes will be heavy as she finishes her bottle but she'll pull out of it by kicking herself over and saying "hi" "hi". You can see her fighting it. As soon as she starts to drift off she'll yank her head up and babble something. All the while I'm singing, "sleep, sleep, sleep sleepyhead" and thinking "oh. my. god. PLEASE go to SLEEP NOW. No, don't pinch me. SLEEP." And then she jerks awake saying, "HI!!!" When she finally drifts off, it's with one eye open (which she has done since her NICU days). She really hates missing out.

Tomorrow is another day. We're going to check out Children's Fairy Land. I'm hoping there's a climbing wall or something.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Summertime

We've been busy enjoying the summer -- what a difference a year makes! Last summer we were mostly housebound. Kailey had been home for about six weeks this time last year, but was still too little to go most places (or even fit in any carriers or strollers... I think we were closing in on about 8 pounds!!) so we were at home, watching a lot of movies, doing a lot of cuddling, and finishing up the kitchen (royal "we"). This year we can't be outside enough and there is very little sitting in our lives anymore. Kailey LOVES being outdoors and must be moving at all times. We have been spending a lot of time at pools and playgrounds -- anything to try to wear her out!

She especially loves to be at the pool. She taught herself how to blow bubbles in the water - which totally freaks me out. She just sticks her face into the water and blows -- and most of the time, manages to avoid inhaling any water. It's very impressive, but I wish she wouldn't do it. I feel like faces belong out of water, but maybe that's just because I personally abhor having my face in water. Eric, on the other hand, is a water lover, so maybe the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. And, we did name her after the ocean. She certainly is living up to the name! I've never met a baby who loves the water as much as she does. She splashes, bounces around, sticks her face in the water, dunks herself.... and never cries. Even when she swallows a big mouthful. She loves everything about it. It's fun to watch her, even if it does nearly give me a heart attack every time I watch her try some stunt that no 14 month old baby should attempt in water. Dare devil!

Besides swimming, we've been spending a lot of time just walking around outside. Kailey never really stops moving. She likes to be on the go. She walks from toy to toy, from forbidden object to forbidden object... I think she likes to try to figure out how to get into the most trouble in the shortest amount of time. For example, we were in Oregon for the 4th of July. My parents house is full of things that are off limits to babies -- ladders that allow one to climb to the top of the floor-to-ceiling bookshelf, outlets without covers (they were covered by the end of the weekend), dog food bowls, plants... and Kailey would toddle to the bookshelf and climb the ladder (until someone pulled her down or spotted her so that she could go all the way up), investigate the outlets, pick at the plants... but she did it all in-between approved activities. She's wily. She'd grab a ball or a block and wander around talking to it, as if to say, "don't mind me... I am just playing with this 100% kid-approved toy" and then, hmmm.... what's this neat little outlet? or What's this... a ladder? Why.. don't mind if I do...

She doesn't give you much down time, which is why I keep thinking about last year. Down time was all we had, and it was fun. But, this is more fun. She is such an explorer. I love her adventurous spirit and her desire to figure things out. But, it can be exhausting. This last week Doug told me that when Evvy and Penny were Kai's age, he had a 5 minute rule with them. But, he said, there's no such rule with Kailey because she'd be halfway up whatever she could find (bookshelf, stairs, couch) the moment you turned your back on her. And, it's true. She is busy. And we're busy trying to keep up with her. No lazy days of summer for us! It feels good.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Communicating

Kailey is getting better at communicating. Not always with words, mind you. But, she is improving in that department as well. But, she knows how to tell you what she wants with very few words. For example, a couple of nights ago she asked to go to sleep. Well, sort of. She came over to me, rubbing her eyes, and put her head down on my leg and looked up at me and whined. So, I said, "Kai, do you need to go to bed?" She lifted her head from my leg, nodded and said, "yea." I was a little stunned -- did she just say yes? So, I asked again, "Kai, do you want to go to bed?" I am convinced that it is interactions like this that make children wonder why adults are so dense. Kailey cocked her head to one side, clearly thinking about the fact that I had not appeared to understand her initial response, and then she thrust her hands into the air (Kai's sign for yes, I agree with what you are saying). So, I scooped her up and put her on the changing table to get her into her PJs. Kailey HATES being changed, and started squirming and crying. I told her, "Kai, you have to get your diaper changed and get into your PJs, then you can brush your teeth, we'll read a story, and you can go to sleep." Kai looked at me and stopped crying and squirming. I was amazed. I have no idea how much of that exchange was pure coincidence versus how much she understood, but it felt like the beginnings of real communication.

She is also expanding her vocabulary. She has started to understand that not every round object is a ball, and Doug had her practicing saying "balloon" yesterday. She also barks now, which is so cute! I have to get that on video.

But, her newest forays into the world of communication are mostly exploratory... as in, I have no idea what she is saying. Kailey likes to babble, try out new sounds, and has recently discovered her tongue. Observe:
video

Kailey wanders around "talking" like this for most of the day. Either that or screeching. She has really perfected the screech. It's like living with a crazy person -- babble, babble, spit, stick your tongue out and babble, screechhhhh, spit, babble, babble, DOG, DOG, BAAALLLLLLL, babble... you get the picture.

Friday, June 19, 2009

New York City



Kailey made her first trek across the country this month, to visit her aunts in New York City! I have to admit, I was pretty nervous about the long flights there and back. I scheduled them to more or less correspond with naptimes, which is a great idea in theory, but requires the airlines to be on board with my little plan (ie take off and land on time). Ha ha! Not so much. The first leg of our journey... well, no. The FIRST leg of our journey was from our house to Sacramento. We flew out of Sacramento because we got to use a free ticket. The flight was at 8 AM on a Wednesday, so we loaded up the car on Tuesday night and hit the road at right about Kailey's bedtime. We gave her a big bottle of milk, turned on the Music Together CD and headed for Sacramento. Perfect, right? We'd have a sleeping baby, we'd check into our hotel and then the next morning, we'd fly across country. Not 10 minutes into the drive, Kailey threw up everywhere. Multiple times. Poor baby. Note to self: Big bottles of milk in a moving vehicle... bad idea. Apparently Kai is prone to car sickness. Who knew? We pulled off the road into some random parking lot, changed her clothes, rocked her a bit, and hit the road again. This time, she fell right asleep and we made it to Sacramento without further incident.

The next morning, our first flight was uneventful. It was during Kai's morning nap, and on time - so she slept most of the way. I even got to watch a few episodes of 30 rock on the flight! Woo hoo! In Denver, we ate lunch and then found an area with some televisions and couches and let Kailey run around during our (supposed) 2-hour layover. Which became a 6 hour layover... crap. Kai slept in the airport, of course, and we boarded the flight right as her nap ended. A four-hour flight.

Kailey was actually an excellent traveler. But, she is only a year old, so being an excellent travler means she doesn't cry. However, she also doesn't sit still. She likes to move - and when it became clear to her that walking around was not going to be an option, she decided to take to jumping between Eric and me and kicking us vigorously most of the flight. Love kicks, of course. That, and standing on our legs and waving and shouting at all of the passengers behind us, "HI! HI! HI!" she yelled out to a mixture of smiles and menacing glares. She also snacked on her crackers and generously offered to share with our seatmate. Repeatedly. He declined. Repeatedly. Luckily, he was a good sport about it all. And, when we walked her up and down the aisles to give her a change of scenery, she held out her hand to high five everyone we passed (most people obligingly reached out in return). She continued to do this throughout the trip, actually - waving, greeting, and offering to slap hands with everyone we passed. It was hysterical walking around the streets of NYC with Kai in the backpack waving like a little princess and saying, "HI! HI! HI!" Here she is greeting a stranger we passed:



The flight from Denver to NYC was exhausting, even though there were no tears and no meltdowns. It was just a lot of time spent entertaining Kailey in a VERY small space. But, as I said, she did great.

And Kailey loved NYC. She liked seeing all the people, and had a great time exploring Central Park. She also LOVED the Natural History Museum. Her favorite part was the IMAX movie on the Wild Ocean. She clapped and growled at the dolphins, and when the whales appeared she let out this huge screech in excitement. It was so funny (and, I'm sure, annoying to everyone else in the theater... but, I've never seen Kai so excited). She loved looking at the frogs, but got a bit freaked out by the planetarium (maybe because the show was about cosmic collisions and involved... well, collisions!) I didn't really think a one year old would have as much fun at a museum as she did, but she thoroughly enjoyed it.

And, of course, she loved seeing her aunts. On our third or fourth morning, we woke up and I said, "Kailey, do you want to go see Katie and Becca?" and Kailey threw her arms in the air (her signal for YES! I originally tried to teach her to use that sign to signify when she was all done, but she has decided to use it to express her earnest agreement with something she is asked. As in, "Kailey, are you all done?" and she responds "YES!" by throwing her hands into the air. Or, Kailey, do you want to go outside? same response. You get the picture).

I'll post pictures later today (from my other computer). But, all in all, NYC was a success. Thanks Katie and Becca for showing us around!

Oh, and the flights home were much smoother. No delays. Still a lot of greetings, offerings of food, and high fives. On our first flight, the entire row behind us was taken up by these old ladies who were in a bowling league together and LOVED Kailey. She would high five one after the other, flash huge smiles, and babble away with them. They were all very entertained, and kept commenting on what a social baby Kailey is and she would agree with "HI! HI! HI!"

Ohhh... and she also has learned to say "BYE!" Which she used upon our return when we stopped at Sarah and Doug's to pick up Oscar. As soon as Kai saw Penny and Doug (she was in her carseat in the car... they were just saying hello) she started screeching and kicking her legs with such force that I swear she thought she could propel the carseat out of the car if she just kicked hard enough. So, of course, we let her out to say hello and run around a bit (she had just endured two long plane trips and a car trip from Sacramento). We got inside and let her play for about 10 minutes and then said, "OK, Kai. We have to go now. We're going home." And Kailey responded by turning to Eric and me, waving her hand and yelling, "BYE! BYE!" We all cracked up. Kailey was clearly not interested in going with us... bye, bye!! We loaded her into the carseat to much crying and headed home. Toddlerhood is upon us.