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.