Sunday, September 26, 2010

Today was one of those roller coaster days.

I've been looking forward to weekends since last weekend we went to my parents, this weekend Mike's friend came up to visit, and next weekend is Natalie's birthday party. Each of these have increasing anticipation. Even though Natalie has cried at Mike's friend many a time in the past, and she started off afraid of him, she warmed up to him so well by the end of the weekend. She let him hold her and he even read her a book with her cozy on his lap! Cute and sweet all around.

But, because we had an extra person around here this weekend, things were a little more off than a usual weekend. Natalie fought her naps. Mike was home, but busy with his friend a few times. Today especially, we went out to breakfast a little late, then we didn't go out again. And, a fairly large chunk of the day Mike was busy working on a computer, playing a tie breaking game of Bases Loaded, and mowing the lawn. I started to get annoyed with Natalie wandering off out of the living room because I was tired. Then, I felt guilty about not wanting to chase after her, and a little jilted because like every parent you meet ever always says that once they start walking you'll wish for the old days. So, all that was bumming me out some. We brought Natalie outside to play for a little bit. She has been attacking our tomato plants. She pulls the little tomatoes off and then runs around with them, occasionally putting them in her mouth, which of course scares the crap out of me. Actually, a lot of the outside is stressful. She likes to go up and down the steps on the deck, so their are sharp corners to bang her head on and the steps to fall down since she tries to walk down them. She also crawls along the deck and I'm worried about splinters. Once she is in the front, I worry about her smashing her face on one of the cars or on the driveway itself. And of course, I'm worried she'll get away from me and get in the street, though she never wanders off that way ... yet. Anyway, after a little romp outside, I put her down for a nap. She disagreed with me at first, but then slept for about an hour and half. I mean, she'd been up for 6 hours; she needed a nap. During that time, I took a little nap, too, and thought about why the day just wasn't going right.

It wasn't so much Natalie wandering off. She wasn't doing it that much more than usual. It really is that our normal week days are broken into chunks. I usually get little breaks from her running off. She starts in the play pen so I can eat breakfast. Then later its her first nap. I get a little bit more time when she's in her chair for breakfast. During Sesame Street, she usually is sticks around in the living room. Next, we go out for our errand where she is stationary in the stroller or shopping cart (except for story time when she gets to walk all around the children's room). Then, there's another nap and lunch. And we've been rounding off the day recently with a walk, where she is in the stroller. So, overall, there is a lot of breaks for me built into the day. Unlike today when she was awake for 6 hours and the only breaks from her moving around where the restaurant and lunch. No wonder I was feeling a little more worn down than usual.

All this got me thinking about more places I could bring her to move around. When we go to the library, its a nice change of scenery for her and I feel safe letting her explore. I'm thinking that maybe a couple times a month we could go to the other local library so that she can explore their children's room. Also, our home visitor left us a flyer for their center. They have a play group on Mondays at 10. Now that Natalie is able to do so many things, I think that taking her to a play group could be a good idea. We'll just have to see how old all the other kids are when we get there and what there is for her to get into, but I'm thinking it will be a great way for her to get out of the house and run around, especailly when its winter. And, I feel less annoyed at following her around somewhere like this, whereas retrieving her from the kitchen over and over gets old fast. Also, tonight, we brought Natalie downstairs with us to watch her montage on the big TV as a test run for her birthday party. Natalie had a blast down there. True, we had to keep her from the brick hearth of the wood stove. And we had injury free fiasco with her trying to grab some remote batteries that ended with her sprawled on her back and a stack of DVDs in the trash can. And we know that the DVD rack will probably crumble if she touches it. And lets not even go there about if she did something to Mike's TV or new Blueray. But, still, we had fun dancing around and she enjoyed the newish space to run around in and drumming on the ottoman. She also worked on climbing up the stairs. So, maybe I should make an effort just to bring her downstairs more often.

Today was also special because it was an important milestone for us as parents. Mike put Natalie to bed all by himself. Now, at almost a year old, some people might shake their heads at this, but until about a month ago, she was still nursing at bed time. Since she never took a bottle, this meant I, or at least my breasts, needed to be present at bedtime. I had talked about taking a class with our home visitor last month, and this month she brought the course catalog for adult ed. Mike and I talked about it some more today. The course I want to take is a photography course (which I loved in high school) and it would mean me missing bed time. It starts November 8th, so we have about six weeks to see if Natalie could go to bed with out me. So, we said we'd need to do some trail runs.

Tonight at the end of bath, Mike asks if I want to try it tonight. I felt a little sad because I didn't know I was going to miss out on bed time until just then, but I knew it was a good idea to give it a try. I got a kiss from her while she was wrapped up in her towel in the bath room (well, really it was a forehead bump since she was sucking her thumb), then Mike took her off to the bed room and closed the door. I cleaned up around the house, careful to be quiet in case she realized I was around, but not there, like she does in the morning sometimes. I listened a little at the door to see how it was going, but it was so quiet! She was super tired, so he barely even read any to her before he put her down. He said he was a little nervous that she was going to revolt at any minute, so he got her shirt damp from the towel, but otherwise it went smoothly. And thus, we had our first bed time without Mommy. I'm happy it worked out, but still missed the last snuggles, singing to her as I put on her lotion, making her laugh when I put her toes on my nose, reading to her as Daddy put on her diaper and pjs, and rubbing her back in the dark before I walked out.

This kind of sad and happy feeling is also how I've been feeling about nursing. In a lot of ways, I'm dying to be done. Natalie often clamps down hard and pulls at me, causing discomfort and sometimes blisters. She fusses, whines, pinches, scratches, slaps my face, and an assortment of other annoying behaviors. This morning, in her sleepiness, she bit me. But at the same time, I love the feeling her her snuggled so close to me. I love putting my arms along her back and around her head to cradle her. Its sad to think of this big part of her life being over, especailly now with so much reminding me of when she was first born and her birthday reminding me of how much she's grown.

Speaking for growing up, a list of cool things Natalie has done:
  • Wave. She is understanding that you wave when you say hi, but doesn't always do it. She also has waved bye a few times and said a B sound at the same time.
  • Blow kisses. This one really surprised us. We don't really blow kisses very often, but today, she was putting her hand up to her face like that in her car seat on the way to breakfast, so I did it back. Then when Mike's friend was saying good bye, we told her to give him a kiss (just to see if she would), and she did the blowing kisses gesture. Possibly a coincidence.
  • Squat, stoop, and bend over without loosing her balance.
  • Put the circle into the shape sorter and sometimes a second shape. This is frustrating for her. Often, she takes the lid off and puts the block in that way. We find this very funny, but also smart. Its like she's saying, well, this way is way easier, why do it that way? She's also working on putting the shape sorter lid back on.
  • She got a toy that plays music from Mike's brother's family and a ride on toy from his friend that also plays music. She is learning that if she hits the buttons it will play music, so she is hitting those places repeatedly and deliberately to hear the music. The ride on toy she really loves and will smile big, clap, and maybe even dance a little. She also loves opening and closing the musical card Mike's friend gave her.
  • Opening lids on boxes, such as a wipe box I got her, the lid on her music table, and lifting the seat on her new riding toy. I make a game of hiding a block in her music table's box. She seems to get a kick out of that.
  • She makes this "ca" sound at her duck. We think it might be quack, but it could be the end of duck.
  • I might have already said this one in an earlier post, but she is in love with these bangle bracelets I took out for her. She knows how to put them on and that they are for wearing on your wrist.
  • With her left hand, she can eat with a spoon fairly well. She can pick it up, get it in her mouth, and put it back on the bowl. With her right, she is more awkward, but seems a little better at putting it back in the bowl.
  • New foods she's tried are home fries, OJ, cinnamon toast. She's also had grilled cheese again today for lunch and ate all of her half a sandwich, which was a big improvement for the two or three squares from last time.
When the home visitor was here, we did the little assessment that we do every three months or so. Natalie was way beyond on the gross motor skills and on par with the fine motor skills for the most part. But, she is behind a little on communication. This was things like following directions without using hand gestures. I thought that doing that was still a ways away. I've really just started to make a point of asking her to do things, such as to give me something rather than taking it from her. I've also been working on "come here," but I really can't tell if she is ignoring me or if she doesn't understand me yet. She definitely understands a lot of things we say to her, such as putting her hands up, giving us something, and words involving food. I need to ask her things to see if she understands them. Like to get me a book and such. I bet she knows a lot more things than I know she does.

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