It’s so cliché but my little girl is a ray of sunshine. She’s quick to smile and she can brighten an entire room with her sweet voice. This past month she has grown and blossomed so much. She’s giving me kisses and hugs, and she’s even learning to blow kisses so that the next time her daddy is in a port and able to skype, hopefully she’ll give him kisses too.
We go everywhere together. That might sound exhausting, but for the most part, it’s wonderful. I’ve got a buddy for grocery shopping and coffee dates, and I’m never lonely in the car. And so far there hasn’t really been anywhere I was DYING to go without her.
Anneliese’s favorite buddy is Zora. I know I’ve written about this before, but whenever I call Zora to us, she gasps and gets excited. When she hears Zora’s tags jingle, she looks around to find her. Anneliese offers Zora toys and treats, and pats her fur whenever she can.
This month has been an EXPLOSION of language for Anneliese. She has really recognized that using signs and words can help her get what she wants, beyond just food and milk. In these pictures, she had just taken a bath and was signing “please” because she wanted me to “coconut” her (give her a coconut oil massage). She loves being coconutted, mostly because she gets some oil on her hands and she can suck it off of her fingers. Little porky girl.
Anneliese is also getting more specific with her food requests. She points to the general areas of the kitchen she knows things come from. If she’s pointing at the fridge, she probably wants string cheese. The freezer probably means peas. The counter is definitely bananas. But when I ask her to clarify, and I say the word and do the sign, she will do it back to me and also sign “please” OR she will point more frantically if I didn’t get the right food the first time.
She has signed to me – vegetables, peas, cheese, bananas, eggs, water, and unsuccessfully tried to sign "fruit” which just looked like smacking her cheek. She doesn’t do all of these consistently, but bananas and water are her most frequently used ones. She has also said out loud – water, cheese, and bananas. I guess it’s safe to say I know what her favorite things are lately.
Anneliese is still getting lots of practice with independent play. Sometimes because I’m exhausted and just need to lay on her floor bed for a while, but often because (when she is in a receptive mood) I will leave her to her own devices while I wash dishes or do laundry or something. Often when I’m getting ready in the morning, she will disappear down the hall, and when I run after her a minute later to check and make sure she is doing okay, she is just hanging out at her shelves in the living room, playing with some toys nicely or looking at books.
She does the same thing at other times of day, choosing to play away from me if there is something specific she wants. I’ll be putting laundry away in her bedroom, and she will crawl across the hall to my room to play with her “morning toys” that are in my bedside table. Or she’ll find Zora and try to engage her. Her play is starting to get a little more complex too. See her trying to cut the apple (2 halves velcro-ed together) with the wooden knife? She’s seen me do it so many times, but now she’s trying to work out the mechanics of it for herself.
Every day, we play in the grass even if it’s just for a few minutes (if it gets too hot or if it’s a smelly day – yes, Lemoore has some majorly smelly days where the outdoors smells like a sewage treatment plant. It’s no joke). Sometimes we’ll bring a snack or a couple toys, but a lot of times we just sit in the grass and look at leaves and pick long blades of grass. Anneliese crawls around but she never goes far from me. Sometimes I pick her up and we go find different things to look at. She loves to touch the bark on tree trunks, gently feeling its texture, and when I tell her to look up to see all of the leaves, she breaks into a grin. I’m looking forward to when she can walk and we can explore and play more than we do now, and maybe she’ll enjoy the playgrounds behind our house more then too.
Anneliese loves watching her “Dada stories” on the TV. She’ll pick up the remote or point at the TV and ask, “Dada?” Sometimes she watches intently, but other times she just plays with toys and listens. I’m really thankful that we thought of recording so many stories before my husband deployed, and that he was willing to do it even though it felt silly to him at the time to read to a camera. These are definitely sweet moments, and I know she will be so excited to see him when he comes home. Already, when he is able to Skype with us, she doesn’t miss a beat. She knows exactly who is in the phone or computer.
I got Anneliese some new toys at World Market. This leather zipper bag is definitely her favorite of the new things. She will put her painted eggs in it and take them out again over and over for long periods of time (the first time was over 20 minutes).
There’s also definitely some developmental stuff going on at night. When Anneliese was learning to crawl, she would often “fall off” of her bed – which I’m pretty sure was actually her crawling off of it in her sleep. Now? I often see her standing like this when I check on her with the video monitor. She’s asleep, but standing beside her bed resting her upper body on it. One foot will step to the side, then step back, then the other foot steps to the side, then back to the middle. Or she’ll lift one leg up high (bent at the knee) and put it back down, then the other. She’s definitely practicing walking skills at night. I’m just not sure when it will all come together for her.
Anneliese has definitely had a breakthrough in the bath arena too. She has pretty much always HATED baths. Not when she was tiny – she was pretty apathetic. But probably from 4 months on, she has hated them. Like screaming, arching her back, straightening her legs and flailing her arms kind of hate. She still cries while I wash her but now she has kind of given in to it, and she holds pretty still so I can finish with that part faster. Then I sit her up in the tub, and she plays a bit. PLAYS. She has never played in the bath before. EVER.
These photos were from the first bath during which she wasn’t upset the whole time. This bath had no playing, just holding these toys. And not moving. The next bath had her playing with toys and even splashing a bit. And it’s been like that since. She still isn’t the type to stay in until she’s pruney. After a few minutes, she starts fiddling with the drain, and she’ll sign and say “all done” to get me to help start the drain. Then she waves goodbye to the water and happily watches it disappear before reaching up to be wrapped in her towel.
Then this happy girl gets to nurse in her towel, then get coconutted, potty with a story, diaper, pjs, and a little more nursing before bed. It’s a good routine. It works for us.
The last few days have had a lot of this sad face. I think teething is really starting up again, but I have no idea when this means she’ll actually have more teeth since she is such a painfully slow teether. It started with (clear) snot and sneezing, which is what happened with her first teeth. For a couple of days, she didn’t eat very much and just wanted to nurse all day. We’ve been managing the pain and swelling with teething tablets and ibuprofen, but sometimes it’s not enough.
My girl still somehow manages to be perfectly charming and glowing despite her hurt mouth. This is at yesterday’s meeting of Natural Parenting for Non-Hippies. We stayed for a while after the meeting was over and I chatted with other mamas, but it was definitely clear once the social hubbub had died down, that Anneliese still felt bad. She nuzzled in for some mama milk and fell asleep while nursing, which is pretty rare these days. Poor sweet girl.
My curious daughter, keep noticing the little things.
Keep exploring, even if your methods are a little unorthodox sometimes.
Keep sharing your joy with others.
And never be afraid to be proud of your accomplishments.
(This photo was taken right after she stood up from a sitting position with nothing to hold onto. Maybe the first time without pulling up on something first. I love that you can see how accomplished she feels!)
I love you, my Sunshine.