Thursday, January 22, 2009

Standing

Another new milestone this morning!! They're fast and furious these days.

This morning, I had Kai in her crib while I sorted her laundry. I looked over at her, and she had pulled herself onto her knees using the railing (something she has been doing for awhile). Then, she grabbed onto the top rail and began grunting and straining to pull herself onto her feet. She toppled a couple of times, but in usual Kai fashion, was completely undeterred, returning to the rail to try again. And then, she did it. She pulled herself all the way up into a standing position, turned to me and broke into the biggest grin I have ever seen, and then - to top it off - she took one hand off the rail and started waiving at my, grinning ear to ear. It was amazing.

I hollered at Eric to come into the room, grabbed Kailey and put her back on her tummy in the crib (aren't I mean?). But, Kailey has clearly grown accustomed to having to perform her new tricks over and over -- and just pulled herself up once again, to our applause.

Then, I went and grabbed the camera and had her do it once more, which she obliged. She is quite quick at it in this video -- practice makes perfect. Enjoy!

video

Monday, January 19, 2009

Nine Months


Wow. Kailey is nine months as of a few days ago. Nine months old and today we got a new President who will hopefully be her president for her first eight years of life. Until the third grade (how crazy!) At least, I hope he is her President until the third grade!

I was just watching CNN today and all the excitement and celebrating in DC and feeling like I've missed out on the political news of this year (and probably one of the biggest political moments of my lifetime). Of course, I've paid attention to the events of the last year, watching the news obsessively and reading the papers. But, I don't feel like I participated much. Or, any, really. Which is not like me or us. Eric and I met on a political campaign and have been involved in some campaign, to varying degrees, every two years ever since. And in the off years, we've worked to change public policy. We've continued the policy work, but it has been much more localized and we didn't do any campaigning this time around. I know that in the past (except the 2004 election), we've mostly been observers. But, engaged observers. We've knocked on doors, made phone calls, gotten involved. We have never been at the center of the action (or anywhere close to the center of the action), but this time around, I feel like we've just watched from far away. Our attention shifted this last year, expanding beyond our jobs. I say expanded -- but, really, we've focused internally. On our home. On our new baby.

I've enjoyed this time immensely (except at first -- that was stressful). But, it's just funny how my focus has changed so profoundly this last year, and watching the inauguration today made me really feel that. I'm so glad I had so many years to "think big" - even if I wasn't always doing things that were "big". And, I know I'll return to that place. In fact, I had this glimpse of that future yesterday while I was watching Kailey playing. We were at a cafe that has a big children's area. Well, two areas, actually. One for the infants (or crawlers), which is separated by a little passageway (made of furniture) into the big kid's room where there is a kitchen area, a castle, train sets, and other "big kid" toys. Kai was fascinated by the whole place, but was quite content to play in the infant area for quite a long time. But then, after about 45 minutes, she crawled over to the passageway and peered into the big kid area and, after a few minutes, decided to venture on in... almost getting trampled by a 4 year old! She looked so tiny crawling into that huge expanse of room with these huge children galloping about. But, she also looked determined and was very no-nonsense about it. She just took off and went for the first toy within grasp, glancing at the bigger kids as they whizzed by. And in that moment, I glimpsed her going off to elementary school, middle school and then high school, and then college... venturing out, into bigger waters, onto those "big ideas". And, I also saw myself returning my focus to more worldly pursuits. There was just something in that moment that gave me great peace, in a weird way. I realized (again, because I've realized it before) how fleeting all of our moments are and gave myself permission (again) to just enjoy these little moments and my small(er) world. And I realized that even though I sat this election out (the BIGGEST election of my life!! Oh well), that I would be back (if I wanted to return). Indeed, even in the last few months, as Kailey has started daycare and has gained more independence, I have begun to shift my focus once again. These days my focus is on the juggle and the balance of home and work life. Trying to be focused and engaged during my more limited time in the office. And, trying not to let the office interfere with home during those more limited hours that I get to spend with Kailey. Balancing is taking all my attention at the moment, but I know that this is also fleeting and shifting.

Beyond reflecting on how much my life has changed this year -- the inauguration also has me thinking about how much the world is about to change. I have never felt so much hope, so patriotic, so invigorated by a new President. I love how he calls upon all of us to dig in, do the hard work, and make the necessary sacrifices. Even in these dark economic times, it feels like an exciting time to be growing up in this country. And, an exciting time to be a progressive dedicated to social justice. I'm excited about the next few years -- and excited to share those years with Kailey.

So - that's what I'm thinking about as Kai turns nine months old and begins to seriously explore her world. She is now pulling herself up onto her knees and, sometimes, her feet. She tends to get into a sort of v-shape with her hands on the floor, but standing on her tippy toes. It always looks like she is about to do a head dive -- but, somehow, she manages to lower herself safely to the ground.

She loves to move and to talk, and has introduced "ga ga" "go go" and "da da" into her repertoire of sounds. I spent some time online today researching places that are good for crawlers and toddlers because we've realized that Kai is in need of more things to explore!! She no longer holds back -- she wants to try new things! Her knees are always red now from all the crawling that she does. And, she continues to be an adventurous eater. She LOVES puffed cereal. What do they put in that stuff?! And, we tried corn tamales this week, which she also rather enjoyed. Avocado, pears and bananas continue to be among her favorites.

I weighed Kailey for the first time in a looonnnggg time the other day (and relished the fact that I no longer feel the need to know her weight - at least not in that obsessive way that I did for months!) She is now 18 pounds. SIX TIMES her birth weight. Crazy.

Here are a few pictures:




Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Music Together - Part Two

Today was the first day of Kai's second round of Music Together classes. Her last session finished on December 4th, so we've had about six weeks off. What a difference six weeks makes!! During our first session, I knew after the first few classes that Kailey enjoyed being there. She smiled and she would really light up later on, when I would sing the songs to her at home. But, she never really participated in class. She wasn't very interested in the instruments -- other than to try to eat them. She didn't interact much with the other babies. She mostly just sat back, wide-eyed, taking it all in.

Today was a totally different experience. As soon as we got there, Kailey crawled over to the drum (the drum and synthesizer are out at the beginning of class for the kids to play with) and pulled herself up on her knees and started pounding on the drum. Then, she crawled over to the synthesizer and started pounding away again. As the other babies and toddlers arrived, Kailey crawled over to them to check them out. And, when the teacher started class, I tried to get Kailey in my lap, but she took off for the synthesizer. When she got with in a foot, I pulled her back. And then she went for it again. She did that until the song was over and the synthesizer was put away.

When we got out the scarves (to use as props -- you know, to dance with... the classes require you to be a bit silly. I think I've mentioned this)... Kailey started shrieking and cracking up. And the instruments? She grabbed a tambourine and shook, shook, shook it with all her might -- cracking up the whole time.

She played with a two year old for awhile and had fun poking the other baby who is just a month older than Kai.

She LOVED it. I couldn't believe how much more engaged she was this time. One of the other moms said, "wow -- she is incredibly active." I'm not sure if that was meant as a good thing -- but, it's true. She's very active. She likes to try to get things and she LOVES to crawl. She is still doing a combination of commando crawling and real crawling... whatever gets her there the fastest.

I guess I have already noted how active she has become -- I mean, I've written about it!! So, of course I've noticed that she is into everything now and in constant motion. And that she goes after things with the dogged determination of... well, of someone who is the offspring of me and Eric!! And, I also noticed it with swimming class. Now, when we take her to the pool, she starts kicking and splashing and shrieking the second we get in the water. She loves the water. She loves being lifted into the air and then put back into the water (something that used to make her cry). She has totally come around to the pool, but the pool is a little different because she can't exactly go after things or engage the way she can in music class. So, I don't think I had completely realized what a transformation she has made. But, the class today really put it in perspective. She's gone from being the most reserved baby in the class to being one of the troublemakers (just kidding).

It was really fun to see her engaging and really taking part in the class. I'm so glad I signed her up again.

And she's been napping for the last hour!! Guess she wore herself out.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Storytime

Kailey has liked books for awhile now... eating them, that is. She gets excited when a book appears, but rather than looking at the pictures, she spends her time trying to get it in her mouth. The pages of her books stick together because of the excessive drool.

But, this week, for the first time - she started to listen to the story. A few pictures:



I did no such thing...

Kailey likes to prove me wrong. Like the time I told the doctors at the high risk clinic that she only rolls to the left, and she promptly rolled to the right. Or that she favors her left hand, and she proceeded to use her right exclusively for the next five minutes.

So, a couple posts ago I mentioned Kai's dislike of textured foods and thought I might catch her drama queen reaction on video. But, when the tape was rolling, she toned it down and actually ate the couscous. She is still not thrilled about it, but it is not the reaction she has had every other time. Here it is:

video

I guess when the pressure's on, Kai steps up her game. Or, she just likes to make it look like I'm the one who is a drama queen!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bedroom Complete

Let's all stand up and give a big round of applause to Eric. Seriously. In less than a year, he has designed and built and entire kitchen, done an inordinate amount of digging outside, and now - has completed the bedroom. The bedroom was supposed to be easy -- new carpet, new paint, new furniture. No problem. But, Eric looked at the bedroom wall (the wall you face when you walk into the bedroom) and decided it had to go. His rationale: It would take so much sanding to make it look good, that it made more sense to just tear it out, insulate the outside of the house, and build a new wall. And, while he was at it, he'd fix the door to nowhere on that wall, making it into a window. I protested -- this sounded suspiciously like remodeling. Sheet rock, tearing something down to the studs, insulation. I wasn't ready to tear down more walls. But, he convinced me that I would love having an insulated room and also reminded me that all i really have to do is put up with the dust, debris and clutter of the work... in other words, "Angie, you don't actually DO anything, so quit your whining."

So, in two weeks time, Eric tore down a wall, built a new wall, turned a door into a window, sanded (extensively), painted and carpeted our bedroom. The results are lovely and - he was right -I LOVE me an insulated bedroom. Who doesn't like the feel of sleeping INDOORS (except if you're camping... but, we really didn't intend to spend two years of our lives camping!)

Eric is an Executive Director of a growing organization in the middle of the worst financial crisis of our lifetimes (the state has frozen all government grants -- three of his employees are funded through government grants. It's a little stressful). He's also a new and doting father. AND he rennovates our home and makes it beautiful and warm and cozy. He is a wonder.

Crawling

Kailey did a full on, up on her knees, left leg/right hand, right leg/left hand crawl today. She's been getting up on her knees and rocking for awhile now, but if she wanted to actually GO somewhere, she'd plop down on her belly and commando crawl to her destination. Observe:

video

But, today, she decided to go for the full on crawl. She didn't go backwards first (although she didn't go far, either). You could really see her thinking about it. And, after the first attempt, she practiced a bit. I caught some early attempts on video. Here they are:

video


video

And, this is after doing it a few times:

video

video

It's just amazing to watch her perfect skills so quickly. When Kailey is awake, she is focused (although, not on the same thing for very long) and in constant motion. She wants to move move move and do something. I don't think she really has any concept of what she wants to do -- but she is determined to be active. A task master without a task. And, she does it with such gusto.

Go, Kai, go!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Night Owls Don't Eat Pasta

I am most definitely a morning person. Not that I pop out of bed with a smile on my face each morning. I just don't have a lot of trouble getting up in the morning (well, I didn't used to have trouble getting up in the morning. These days, it depends on how many times I was woken up during the night... but, I don't think those nights that involve multiple interruptions should be included in the analysis). My point is, once the alarm goes off, I am awake. I may snooze it just for the joy of staying in my warm, cozy bed for 9 more minutes but, not because I can't tear myself out of bed. Even in my sleep-deprived state, I rarely snooze the alarm more than once. And, I do my best work in the mornings. I like mornings.

Evenings, on the other hand, are really not my thing. I've been going to sleep at 9 PM long before I had a baby "forcing" me to retire at such an early hour. Of course, now I am much more civilized about it all because I actually go to bed. As in the actual bed. Before, I would pretend that I could stay up late, but I never (or rarely) succeeded. It's true that I would be in the living room -- but, the awake part - not so much. I almost never made it past the 9:30 show... try as I might. 15 minutes into House (or Top Chef, or Project Runway), I was out like a light, waking up at 10:30 or 10:45, pissed off that there was a crick in my neck and asking Eric to detail the show I had just missed (a show that he likely had little interest in but that I insisted on "watching"). And, even if we were out for the evening (I realized re-reading this paragraph that I seemed to imply that I used to spend my evenings on the couch watching TV in the evenings...), I was known to start dozing at about 9 PM. And, yes, I've falled asleep in movie theaters and bars.

Eric, on the other hand, is a night owl. I cannot tell you how many times I have woken up at 2 AM to find myself alone in bed and Eric in the living room, glued to the history channel (we don't exactly share taste when it comes to television). So, naturally, the 6 or 7 AM alarm clock is a little harder for him to handle. I don't think he even hears it most of the time. And he is not at his best in the morning. In fact, he's been known to be a bit grumpy when woken up too early.

I figured babies were morning people. Everyone I've ever talked to complains about having to be up at 6 or 7 AM, ready for the day, just because their baby was up at that time. In fact, before having a baby, I never thought twice about making morning (i.e. 9 AM) calls to my friends with children, figuring they had been up for hours by that point. So, imagine my surprise to have a baby that is not a morning person, and who has been known to sleep in until 9 on more than one occasion.

So, this new schedule is proving to be a bit of an adjustment for Kailey. Now, three times a week, we have to wake her up at about 7 AM so that I can be in the car and off to Doug's by 7:30 AM. We let her sleep until the last possible moment, and then wake her up -- usually to this look:



Well, it's a more tired version of that. But, it definitely says, "go. away."

Granted, at this point Kailey is not a night owl either - although, for a baby, I think she is. Try as I might to get her to bed before 8:30, she won't have it. She falls asleep between 8:30 and 8:40 every night. Maybe when she is older, she won't embarrass herself by dozing off in the middle of a concert like her dear mom!

Beyond the new morning routine, the other big adjustment this week has been introducing more textured foods. I started with couscous, and it's not going so well. I find it rather amusing. Kai, on the other hand, thinks I'm trying to kill her -- death by a million tiny balls of pasta. I've given it to her every night this week, and every time, as soon as she takes a bite of it, she gets that look on her face (see above) and then sticks out her tongue, covered in couscous, and starts to howl. And then she begins blowing and spitting. The term "drama queen" comes to mind. I start laughing. She cries more. The whole meal goes downhill from there.

I'm going to keep trying, of course. She'll get used to it. In the meantime, it's sort of funny. Maybe I'll try to get a video of it (I'm so mean).

Friday, January 2, 2009

9-1-1

Well, tonight was our first call to 9-1-1 for Kailey. I hope to never have to do it again. Let me just say at the outset - she's fine. But, we definitely had a bit of a scare.

We had just gotten home from a day of shopping and we were unloading the bags while Kai played on her mat in the living room. We were in and out of the living room - never leaving her for more than a minute or two. She was on the foam mat, playing happily. There was nothing visibly dangerous near her. And, yet, I walked in the room after a brief stint in the kitchen to find her noiselessly gagging and choking on the floor. "She's choking... she's not breathing" I screamed to Eric as I grabbed her and turned her upside down and started pounding on her back. I ran into the kitchen, while pounding on her back, and Eric grabbed her out of my arms and whacked her on the back and she started sputtering and crying. We were terrified. She was terrified. But, we thought we were OK. We listened for a minute and held her. She continued to cry, which was good. Crying meant she could breathe. We moved back into the living room, and suddenly she started gagging and gasping again. Nothing had come out of her mouth after the first choking incident, and clearly, it was still in her mouth. Eric turned her over and started pounding on her back again. She sputtered and cried and started drooling - at first I thought she was foaming at the mouth. She was crying hard, so we knew she could breathe again, but we were completely freaked out. Other than spit, nothing had come out of her mouth and so we knew she might start choking again at any moment. We didn't know what to do. She seemed OK, but we felt like we needed back-up. We decided to go to the hospital, but as we loaded her into the carseat, she started gagging again. We yanked her back out of the carseat and pounded her back some more. I was beside myself. We decided to call 9-1-1.

Calling 9-1-1 is a big deal. The next thing you know there is a fire truck, and ambulance, and a couple of cop cars in your front yard and 15 EMTs in your house giving you dirty looks as your 8-month-old smiles and coos and bats her eyes. She looked totally fine when they all arrived. We explained what had happened. And, in fact, while we were waiting for their arrival, we had actually gotten a glimpse of something in Kai's mouth. It looked like a small branch from the redwood tree in our front yard.

The EMTs were actually very nice. They shined a flashlight into Kai's mouth and the one examining her said, "yes - I see it. It's lodged on the roof of her mouth." Kai continued to smile and coo and look completely bewildered by the circle of men surrounding her. "Open your mouth" the EMT said. Kai clamped shut.

The thing was totally lodged in the roof of her mouth, and the EMTs did not want to stick their fingers in her mouth to try to fish it out. We moved Kai to her changing table to try to get a better look, but it didn't look like we were going to be able to grab the little piece of nature or convince her to spit it out. We were about to load Kai into an ambulance to go to the hospital (where they could use some kind of tweezers to get it out) when the EMT and Eric managed to get it out together (the EMT holding Kai's mouth open, Eric fishing it out).

Turns out it was a leaf from the oak tree. A jagged, sharp little leaf that looked rather painful. Oak leaves are sharp and sticky, and thus, perfect for sticking to things. Like roofs of mouths.

We felt a little sheepish for calling 9-1-1, but we were also incredibly grateful for the help and to have trained professionals on hand. As soon as they left, Eric cleaned the floors corner to corner with a vacuum, a mop, and wipes. Nothing like a little choking incident to get the house cleaned.

Thank goodness she is OK. Kind of an ominous way to start the new year. I didn't really want my first post of the year to be about a 9-1-1 call. Luckily, there was no real damage done.

This morning, we had a stream of neighbors stopping by to see what all the chaos was about last night. We still feel a bit embarrassed -- for all the ruckus, and for letting our baby get ahold of something that choked her. We have vowed to make sure we no longer leave her unattended on the floor - even for a brief period. There is no way to control the leaves coming in from the outside --- our house is completely surrounded by trees, so between us and the animals - it gets tracked in. But, we can make sure that we are with Kailey when she's on the floor, and in her crib if we want to do something else for a moment. Lesson learned.