Thursday, April 19, 2007

banana dreams do come true

tucson, AZ

yesterday our little baby turned one year old. she must not be so little anymore, but to tell the truth, i still see her as so small, because her learning-growth outweighs her physical growth, and compared to a tiny blob that does not much at all, suddenly she is this slightly less-tiny blob that does sooooooo many things that big huge people do! mitchell, liz' boyfriend, calls her "midget" sometimes, and that seems very appropriate for the view i have of her. although i realized a little bit recently how much not-midget she really is for her size: we are in arizona for the week, staying with one of my best childhood friends, whose baby danielle is three weeks older than sparrow, and is much smaller in size. when we first met up, i was marvelling greatly about how huge sparrow suddenly seemed, particularly her head. but nevermind, was this supposed to be a blog about her birthday or what?!

sparrow's birthday started off with her daddy calling us from china at 7:30 to sing to her with the whole dance company through the speakerphone. yes, he had to be in china even though her birthday was smack in the middle of the tour. he told me he had a dream the other night that she was falling over and he tried to run and catch her in time, but couldn't reach and she fell on her butt and he went over and picked her up and comforted her... "i think the message is that i really need to be there," he said. it's not as though he's been particularly absent during her life or development. but i'm glad he has the sentiment nonetheless. sparrow is so in love with him that she's pretty much over me if he comes into the room. the other day i made her some wallet-sized, laminated pictures of him to put into this wallet that we have given her as a toy. once the idea came to me i was like a woman obsessed until the project was finished, and am quite pleased with the results, as she can bend and chew the pictures as much as she wants, and she can get all the daddy-cards out now and gush over them. i am quite satisfied that she won't get all confused and forlorn about it, like she did on the ireland trip when she began to point to every picture of any man and say "dadda!"

anyhow, birthday, birthday. she got to spend most of the day playing with danielle and watching me stress over making her cake and getting everything done in time for the party, which was to be held at 6 pm. i was making a whole-grain carrot cake that was to be sweetened with raisins and apple juice. the frosting would be buttercream, and from my experience at reece's son's 1st birthday, i had decided i was NOT going to try crazy shapes or do ANY piping of words or designs. i was going to stick rubber duckies and flowers on the cake and that would be that. the cake turned out amazing, though it did take lots more time to make than anticipated, partly because i was in an unfamiliar kitchen. contact me for the recipe--it was super moist and yummy.

we went downtown in the afternoon with omi, danielle, and emi, to get balloons and flowers and things, and sparrow got so excited when she saw the balloons and even more excited when she saw the little plastic doggies in the party store. but she wasn't getting one of those. needless to say, the girl blew up our 12 helium balloons way too full, and not only was it so windy that omi almost blew away with all of them tangling around her, but the second we got them all in the trunk and closed it, two of them immediately popped, with more following suit every few minutes. after our wal-mart stop, there were so few left that i had to get a new boquet altogether... sparrow loves riding in the car with a buddy next to her. she kept reaching over and flapping her hand about to touch danielle. also, when danielle droned her sleepytime "song," sparrow caught on quickly and soon they were both droning away.

6:00 rolled around, and i was still in omi's kitchen putting frosting on the cake and washing flowers. and we still had to decorate the auditorium! not all too worried, though, because everyone was basically on wycliffe-time, which meant they would be even later than me. and they were. sparrow was in a beautiful, fluffy pink dress, and lovely shoes and bow in her hair, and had a fabulous time lolling about on the floor with the balloons and kicking her legs around, also playing peek-a-boo with the tablecloth and generally hanging out under the table. the dress had to come off for the eating of the cake, which was actually preceded by the eating of bananas, or shall we say "the squishing of bananas."

this was an event generated by sparrow's contiuous attempts previously to get her hands on bananas, not just to eat them, but mainly to squish them, and bite into the peel. one day in a bit of a fluster about it, i had said, "sparrow--look. on your birthday i will let you squish bananas and eat the peel... and you will be naked." and then i realized that her birthday was actually in 2 days and i would have to be true to my word and fulfill her banana dreams if i was any semblance of a good person. she wasn't naked, however. for this event she was wearing a nice new pink onesie that may never get clean again. (currently soaking in sink.) i had made a mess-safe area by covering everything nearby with plastic trash bags, and we'd brought danielle's booster chair and set her securely in it. then we let it all happen and she mashed them between her fists for quite some time. little danielle crawled onto the banana-droppings area excitedly, signed "please?" to her mum, and with the go-ahead, began squishing and devouring the leftovers. two happy babies.

this was followed by the squishing and devouring of a mini-birthday cake with a little duckie on it and everything, but was still somewhat anti-climactic, i think, compared to the banana thing. then she was thoroughly wiped down, onesie off, and dress eventually back on as i tried to get her interested in the presents. reece and christian had brought quite the plethora of baby gifts and i was myself very excited about the finger-animal books etc. but sparrow mainly wanted to crawl up and down the stairs and climb behind things to get into non-baby-safe areas. she and danielle were having quite the meltdowns by the time we got out of there at nine-ish, for she had not had her afternoon nap that day! but i think she had still generally had a good time.

video: hahaha... kinda long, but all the details are great. like notice, for example, how even when i give her the birthday cake, she is still more interested in the bananas and ends up putting some on top of the cake for decor. she was SUPER tired at her party. i'm hoping to get her more animated at her local shindig...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

na-na! and other short stories

are there different schools of thought on the do's and dont's of encouraging language development and expression in your child? besides the whole sign language thing, which seems to me to be too much of an intuitive thing to have doctors do 10-year studies and write books about it. but since we do have a lot of research going on in this country, the question is this: when your baby clearly says a word, are you supposed to REMAIN CALM. STEP AWAY FROM THE BABY and let her just think that that was just the course of everyday life? (which would be true, technically.) or are you supposed to clap and hoot and holler and freak out and attempt to draw the word out of her again and again, just to make sure it was really a real word and not a fluke? i already know the answer, but that is what i did.

my baby said banana. on tuesday the 10th of april she clearly pointed to a banana and said these syllables: "na-na!"...out of nowhere. it was a phenomenon. i still can't get over it, it was the cutest sound i have ever heard. i was exuberant! and rushed her to her high chair gushing about it, to feed her the desired food at once. she must have been a little intimidated by all my to-do, because she said it a little halfheartedly one more time, and then stopped. all day i was saying "nana! and banana!" and showing her bananas and wishing i could hear it again, but nothing. not that day and not the next.

i felt quite bad for having presumably made her regress by putting pressure on her, and made no mention of bananas for a whole day. and today i was rewarded generously. this morning not only did she point and speak it out again at breakfast, but the funniest thing happened after breakfast, when she tried to dig the banana peel out of the garbage. she was standing at the trash can, saying, "na-na! na-na!" in her urgent, gravelly little voice, and fishing around for the peel. (she likes to eat the peels for some reason.) i was dying with laughter and didn't even want to stop her playing in the rubbish, it was so good. at dinner she requested the fruit again! mystery: she has not particularly loved bananas up until this point. do you think that being able to say the word makes the banana more appealing to eat? evidently. this is a good tip to pass along to liz, aka "auntie sissy," her fabulous baby sitter. since bananas are the easiest food on the planet. everyone wins.

speaking of her fabulous baby sitter, i don't think i could have asked for someone more loving or fun for my baby. the other day she was telling me sparrow had slept for two hours. "that's good!" i said, thinking of all the free time she had had to do laundry or homework. not until later did i realize that the reason liz' sweatshirt had a huge drool spot on it was because she had lain there with her the whole time and let sparrow sleep on her chest! that's dedication. i can't even do that without a stealth sudoku game going on on the side somewhere.

sparrow discovered lying on her back and doing bicycle kicks the other day. she is getting increasingly better at playing by herself, and thomas and i just watch her and laugh under our breath all the time because she'll be laying there, for example, kicking her feet in various ways and saying "wowowow!" or looking at her baby books for extended periods of time, or doing the classic "downward dog" and looking back at us through her legs, or trying to climb through the bottoms of all the chairs in the kitchen. and the funniest thing is that she frequently, in the midst of these explorations, will just stop and lie on her belly on the floor and rest her head on the ground, for about 3-5 seconds. and then it's back to business! i call it a mini-break or her power nap.

today i tested her limits of playing alone and inside to the max. i have been semi-obsessed with trying to get some pics printed of her first year of life so i can do a mini-album to take with us to az to show at her birthday party. well the long's uploader is not that great, and i figured out that you have to do little quantities at a time and babysit it and send in all your batches separately. well this was a task that took the bulk of the day, and by the end of it sparrow was going mad from being inside and neglected for way too long. but i had one more thing, a special treat for her, and had to upload a few final pictures. i am so proud of this idea i had that i carried out today: laminated wallet-sized photos of her and her dad to put into her wallet so that she can not only remember her dad while he is gone in china, but also chew on the photos and not ruin them or her intestines! i even went to kinko's before dinner and laminated them myself, and they are soooo cute! she loves them.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

sparrow claps, other baby throws up

the hunch i'd had that sparrow is "the best baby ever" was confirmed on our recent travels. let me just give one illustration: on the flight back, which was a day flight, sparrow napped, clapped, waved, entertained preteen passengers with fishface on command, and argued but little when i told her she had to stay in my lap for the whole 11 hours on a completely crowded airplane. there was another baby and momma sitting next to us. this baby was the same age and nearly as beautiful, but was alternately whining and vomiting the whole time. sparrow? clapping hands. irish baby? barfing on mum. i count myself blessed. let me copy a few photos and excerpts from my blog on germany that pertain to her...

"sparrow was so sweet in the airport, waving to this beautiful lady on a big poster so earnestly. when the plane took off, she was sitting on my lap, and clapping her hands eagerly. then we looked at our in-flight magazine and she tried several times to grab the glasses off of a picture of robin williams. she slept in the bassinet in front of me for at least half the time, and by 4 am our time we had landed and were wandering the dublin airport looking for our next flight."

"oh. hehe. and sparrow's little healthy baby diet? right out the window. i noticed quite early on that feeding a squirmy baby in your lap liquid baby foods on a plane was not the greatest of ideas, when an hour into the flight we and the airplane seats were thoroughly decorated with the stuff and there still wasn't any in her tummy. just too excited! she just kept wanting to get down or look over the seatback and play with the irish grandma who had said her name was "very silly." then she kept swiping and batting at my dinner, and i couldn't very well keep it far away from her... finally i broke down and decided to give her my cracker pack. she'd never had white flour in her life. i rubbed all the salt off the crackers and handed them over and she devoured them in less than 10 seconds. wow. that was so...easy! here! have a bun! and it was all downhill from there, from french fries to cream sauce to pizza... and she didn't get sick once."

"my sister got to come down and stay for the weekend which was great, as she hadn't seen baby since she was 2 months old and could not yet make a fish face. the more the merrier, hey? sparrow was reveling in all the new attention, and making friends with the ladies but keeping a flirtatious distance from the men, whom she could not trust, no doubt because they were blond."

"but speaking of fish face, germany was where it first made its appearance on sparrow's countenance. thomas had been trying to teach it to her for weeks, but she hadn't responded. then i was trying to impress the relatives and said, "tigerface!" which she did, and "fishyface!"...which she did! i was just as surprised as my cousin tim but played it off like she has just always made any animal face on command... hehe."

at the frankfurt airport:
"ran off lopsidedly as fast as i could, pushing my cheesy veering umbrella stroller with one hand and still holding the baby in the other arm. she was quite unaware of all the cause for stress and was happily bouncing/jolting about bobbleheaded and happy and waving to everyone as i raced by them with much sweat and grimacing."

From germany

oh but she's learned so much more than fishface in the past month. a million little things that i am sad to have missed out on blogging, for i can never remember them all. one of the cutest is that she does patty-cake now, with the highlight of "mark it with a b," at which point she takes her extended little finger and draws on her other palm; ohmygoodness, it kills me! the other day, our housemates naomi and barnaby came in and i said something to sparrow about "uncle bar-na-bee," and the next thing i knew she was marking it with a b! which amazed us all and pleased naomi in particular, as her special nickname for her husband is just "B."

she has also officially made up her own sign for the first time, a symbol for "phone," where she simply puts her palm on her ear. at first i thought she was just saying "ears;" she has known where her ears are for quite some time now. but it was right after naomi had hung up the phone with someone, and sparrow kept pointing to the phone and then doing her ear thing excitedly. when the light went on as to what she was doing, i was so proud of her that i unplugged the phone and let her play with it for half an hour. we have given her thomas' old cell phone to use now that she doesn't chew on them so much anymore but actually holds them up to her ear and pushes buttons and what-not. when she gets a hold of mine it is particularly lovely because there is a picture of her and thomas on it. she points to his little face on the right side of the screen and says "DADDA!!" with so much vigor every time. i love that she is pointing directly now.

i will have to come back with more some other time because i am falling asleep right here. remind me to tell you about how she said banana, and express my speculations on language encouragement