Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Our Almost Seventeenth Month Report

For the past five months or so, Robert and I have sort of worked out a system about how we handle night time awakenings on the part of the girls. They've typically been fairly good sleepers, but on any given night, the chances are good that one of them will wake up at least once, usually for a diaper change or needing a parent to retrieve a stuffed donkey who has inexplicably escaped the confines of the crib. It's easy to recognize this particular nighttime emergency by the plaintive cries of "uh-oh" that you can hear in addition to the impassioned weeping. Anyway, the system, as it stands right now is fairly simple. I do the vast majority of getting up with the girls between our bedtime and morning, as I have been blessed with the gift of being able to fall right back asleep when I wake up at night. Robert, however, once he's been asleep for a couple of hours is usually up for several more following each night wakening, except of course for that first four months when every parent is able to fall asleep at anytime, including while running to escape attacking wolves or during peaceful, quiet times, like driving in Atlanta traffic at rush hour, when he was able for the first time the beauty of falling asleep on demand. Although there is the added factor that I'm not the one who has to be up for work the next morning and I have an outside chance of getting a nap if I need one. Apparently, they frown on napping at Robert's new job. Around 5:30, though, when the slightest sound wakes Rob up he goes on duty and gets up with the girls and feeds them their breakfast while I sleep in until he has to jump in the shower a little before 8:00. We live a mile and a half from the university, so when he leaves the house at 8:25, I reach him by phone in his office by 8:30, for which I'm profoundly grateful , as it allows me to sleep longer. I'm really glad, too, that Rob and the girls get to have special time together. One of the things that's been the most challenging about our move has been that, for the first time since L. and E. were born, Rob is away for full work days five days a week. I know it's different and special that he had the opportunity to be such a hands on parent for their early days; for the past two years, from the time he began his exams and entered candidacy, he was able to work from home a few hours a day almost everyday*. So for the babies, it's been an adjustment- his being gone so much. Every morning around 10:30 someone, usually L., will say "DaDa?" Suddenly, they both seem to realize, "Hey, it's been two hours since we saw DaDa. I wonder what he's up to?" So after a few minutes "DaDa-ing," they take matter into their own hands and go to find him. First, they go to our bedroom door and yell "Not, Not DaDa!," which means "knock, knock" and E. and L. strongly feel must be said as you're knocking on door or any other hard surface. When Robert doesn't answer, they run through the kitchen to the laundry room door (the office is on the other side of the laundry room) and knock and call for Robert there. When they get no response, they return to the living room sadly and someone, again, usually L., shrugs her shoulders sadly and says "DaDa bye-bye." When they hear the garage door opening as he arrives home, they like to go to the laundry room door and knock while shouting for DaDa until he opens it and greets them.
(Here is E. first thing in the morning, obviously under the care of the parent who is not as paranoid about babies who climb on boxes to try and pry open the fridge falling and getting a concussion.)

(Here's a picture of L., who saw me trying on my polka dot shoes to see if they went well with my outfit before my first mom's group meeting. They did not, but L. was excited about them and tried to wear them around the house for much of the day. I didn't have the heart to tell her that two bold prints on one outfit can be a little overwhelming.)

Everyone says that as you get between 16 and 18 months there is this incredible vocabulary spurt, so it may be silly that I've been amazed to see it happening in the girls. It seems like in the past month, they've gone from knowing a few words, to really beginning to communicate in small phrases. One afternoon at the beginning of August, E. came up to me making the more sign and saying "Mo!Mo!" So I asked, "More what, E?" "Mo Nana (banana)!!!" In my best sad mommy voice I told her, "Oh no, Sweetie. We're out of bananas." Which led, to "Mo nana (while making the please sign)," followed by her hurling herself dramatically on the ground, sobbing at my hard-heartedness in not being an adequate provider of bananas. I wonder where she gets it. I love, though, how communicative they are. For posterity, I want to list some of their favorite words : Mama and DaDa, La-La (which is what E. calls L.), cahh (cat), dog-dog, nana, mo, dank you (thank you), camel, donkey, behr (bear), baf-baf (bath), diggle (tickle), coe (cow), snack, wader (water), hi, bye-bye, moo, baaa, growwwwl (a lion sound), woof, mooow (meow), ew-ew-ew (chimp noise) and, because we read a lot of Sandra Boynton around here, they both believe that pigs say "la!la!la!"Lastly, L. began calling my mom, their Grammy, "GaGa" two months ago and they both call her that now. So we'll see what she ends up being called in the long term. Here's a picture of GaGa's last visit when she put their hair in what my family calls "buffys," although "dog ears" is also an acceptable term. L. is the one in back:

It changes from day to day, but on the balance right now, E. is doing more talking than L., but L. is the one to whom you can give an enormously complicated command like "If you want to play "stir in the bowls," you can go into the kitchen and get the bowls out of your cabinet and then the spoons out of your drawer." And she pads off to the kitchen and you hear the cabinet door open and close and then the drawer open and close and then she emerges with a bunch of bowls and spoons. It makes you secretly wonder if she's understood English all along and is trying to gather information on her family in their natural habitats for a book she's writing or something. E., on the other hand, will listen to your helpful suggestion and merrily go on her way. Sixteen months has been fun, but while it's so wonderful to see them grow and I would never want to change it, they are so much more little girls than babies most of the time that it makes me a little sad. (But only a little-they're too much fun to be too sad).
(E. playing tupperware. Rhianna- I have a tupperware cabinet now! It's such a mess- I hope you're proud of me!)

(L., looking like a little girl. Look at how long her hair is!!!)
Our last update item: September 6 is the anniversary of the day we found out I was pregnant, so it's sort of a special family holiday for us, where we celebrate the indescribable joy that E. and l. have brought us . Since we couldn't visit our nature preserve in Atlanta, we celebrated last weekend by picnicking at a lake near here:
(L. enjoying lunch.)
(E. enjoying some cheese as an appetizer to her main course of sand.)

*Since this is my blog, one of my pet peeves in counseling (and in real life) is when husbands refer to "babysitting" their own child. It always makes me want to shriek. When it's your own progeny, you are "caring for" your children or being a decent "co-parent." Maybe the desire to shriek and lecture people is part of the reason it's such a good idea that I'm taking a break right now.