Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Close Shave

One more cute thing I forgot to mention that Anna did this past weekend: She was looking at photos on the mantelpiece of Grandma Marjorie's. Her auntie Sandra asked Anna to point to mommy, and Anna pointed to the picture of me from our wedding. Then Sandra asked Anna to point to her dad, and Anna looked at the picture from the wedding, scrutinized it, and instead pointed to a picture of her dad from his sister Mary Jane's wedding.

Why? Stephen had a beard when Mary Jane got married and was clean-shaven for our wedding, and Anna has never seen her dad clean-shaven! If he ever shaves again, Anna won't recognize him.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Someone Anna-sized didn't get the memo that the clocks went back an hour on Saturday night. Or she got the memo but can't read yet.

We tried to keep Anna awake a little later last night to begin to align her body clock with the kitchen clock, but at 6:30, which felt to her like 7:30, she felt strongly that her parents were overlooking her needs and had forgotten her nightly rituals, so she grabbed her father's hand, led him to the bathroom door, looked at him meaningfully so he would understand he was supposed to run a bath, then wandered to her changing table to get a facecloth.

She is either a smarty-pants or she is as routine-oriented as her dad!

At thirteen months, Anna is an expert walker and now is willing to sit and play for whole minutes at a time. She loves to sit on anything at bum-level: the crossbar at the bottom of her highchair's support, the baseboard heaters, the cat. Her grandma gave her a little stool to sit on, and she loved to spend happy minutes sitting on it -- for the first hour she had it at home. Ah yes, off and on for that whole hour, she sat by the pots and pans and clattered them happily. Then -- bored -- she picked up the wee stool, carried it to the living room, maneuvred it to the side of the piano, climbed up on it and stood there playing a little "tune" of her own devising and dancing precariously close to the stool's edge.

She learns new things every week. On Saturday, when she hosted a three-hour gallery opening for her father, she learned to blow kisses. (Thank god someone in this family can schmooze.) She has also learned this week that she can get her parents to follow her by grabbing them and pushing them or dragging them in the direction she wants them to go. ("There -- towards the crackers!" "Here, where my blocks are!")

And her repertoire of dance moves expands every day. At first when she started dancing, she mostly bent her knees and bounced her bum. Now, her whole body has got the action. She dances in ways she has never seen anyone dance -- it is all inborn in her rhythmic little person and her happy little imagination. She bounces her bum and moves her arms and bobs and dips her shoulders and head. All it takes is someone clapping their hands or threatening to hum a tune, and she's all a-dance. Her favourite CDs these days have Latin rhythms. Salsa, mambo . . . you name it. She loves music and sings more and more. It is again possible to figure out from her body language and her singing which songs she likes best on any given CD. She likes all the songs good and loud, too!

Now that Anna has eight teeth through, she is also very independent about her food. She eats grown-up food with gusto, protein most of all, the spicier the better. She's never met anything tomato-based she didn't like. And if her parents want to eat an apple, they can only do so in a dark room with the door closed -- otherwise, the apple will be stolen and gnawed on ferociously, consumed with startling efficiency. Anna is not satisfied to eat with her fingers (like her mother does, since her mother has never had a good relationship with cutlery or society). She now wants to control her own spoon. This results in a lot of soup and yogurt on the floor, on her parents, on her lap, on the cat. We might not give her soupy foods until her motor control matches her control-freakiness.

Verbally, Anna meows. She says "Shh" with her finger to her lips and whispers her garbly babytalk if the cat is asleep and doesn't want to be wakened. She doesn't say a whole lot of words, but she still manages to communicate very well and she understands everything she is asked. She will get a book if you offer to read to her, knock on a door if you step behind a closed one, hide if you say you're going to find her, get her shoes if you say it's time for a walk, get a facecloth from her changing table if you say it's bathtime.

And if you are her parent and are not giving her your full attention, she communicates her displeasure by scooping up the catfood and throwing it across the room. Which is why the cat now sometimes is served her supper on the counter. Fortunately, Moon loves to play with Anna as much as Anna loves to play with Moon -- otherwise, the food-swiping would be an issue for the cat as much as for the parents.

Anna's keen on "helping" when she's feeling less destructive, though -- putting away stacks of laundry (if by putting them away you mean picking up folded laundry, dragging it to the next room, and dropping it behind the furniture), tidying up her toys (if by tidying you mean throwing them in a box and then standing on top of the box), and sorting her socks (if by sorting you mean pulling them out onto the floor, putting half back into their box, and stogging the rest under the furniture).

Anna is still pretty popular with her parents and grandparents and relatives and friends, for all.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Birthday Daze

Anna has now celebrated her first birthday. For, oh, about three days now. I took the actual birthday-day, Friday, off work in hopes we could have some family adventures, but, alas, it was very rainy, and we barely got a walk in without a drenchin'. But we got a head-start on baking and preparing for the birthday party, and we went to the grocery store. Always fascinating.

Here is a snapshot of Anna at one: She has shifted to one nap a day, but has not yet quite adjusted to getting less sleep in the daytime and so can sometimes get a little wild. (We're in favour of lengthening the one nap, a strategy she hasn't hit upon for herself yet.)

At one, she loves accessories and checks the bangles, earrings, necklaces, shoes, and handbags of everyone who comes in the door. At the end of the day, when her mom gets home from work, it is often hard to tell if Anna is happier to see her mom or her mom's brooch, watch, and (occasional) necklace.

At one, Anna has lots of hugs and kisses for her family, immediate and extended, and she loves spending time with all her grandparents. She has special rituals with each of them and has broken at least one of each of their possessions.

At one, Anna loves to cuddle up with a book and someone to read it to her. She knows what will happen on the next page of her favourite books and makes particular sounds and gestures that anticipate the next page and show how well she remembers the story. She loves to look at paintings, pointing out one colour at a time and wanting it named; pointing out cats or birds or objects she knows in the pictures. (She also likes to explore paint textures with her fingernails, but don't tell her father.)

At one, Anna spends most of the rest of her time following the cat from room to room (and the cat spends her time walking from room to room trying to be followed). Peekaboo has expanded into hide and seek as Anna has become mobile and can sidle down the side of the couch. She is so mobile on her feet, she barely scoots on her bum at all.

At one, her word comprehension is still much better than her ability to speak, and "ga" (which also specifically means "cat" or "dog" when spoken with specific inflections) is her general word for almost all concrete nouns. "Mmm" is her sound for all animal noises.

At one, she carries around shoes and reorganizes her socks. She is a connoiseur of blackberries, raspberries, and varieties of cheese. She holds phones (and remote controls) to her ear and wanders the house babbling into them, but if the phone rings and gets held to her ear with a familiar voice on the other end, she just smiles and laughs. She is still very solemn when she is observing new places and people and very giggly with the people she knows and loves.

She's a lot of fun, though it takes some effort to say so after the ordeal of getting her settled this evening after a weekend of over-stimulation. Her party on Saturday saw all her local family members and some special guests from BC (including a nine-month-old second cousin) gather for lunch and time to admire her in a pretty dress and fancy (clunky) shoes. After the party ended, she woke from her nap and went to the livingroom and cried to see that everyone had gone home.

And today, a long autumn walk along the bay where her forebears lived, and another visit at Grandma Marjorie's, the Sunday afternoon visit that has come to be called "The Viewing." Anna will find the week at home with her dad quite a come-down after all the feteing.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Back to Work

Today, Anna Sophia's mom went back to work. We experimented with me going to work last week, when I attended a workshop for a couple of days and also spent some time in the office surveying the clutter I had left behind me when I went on leave a year ago.

I came home from a half-day reintroduction to the work world to a happy baby, well-fed, and a not-yet-too-tired-to-make-sentences parent. She had only fallen on her head once, with only a mild abrasion to the cheek and a minor bump on the head. She had enjoyed her lunch so much, I could tell what she ate by looking at her shirt and pants.

Since her first steps, Anna retreated into more tentative wall- and furniture-surfing, insisting on having her hand held for longer trajectories and higher speeds than she could manage solo. But the last few days, walls and furniture have been left behind. Today, she walked from the kitchen to the living room and back numerous times, including one particularly exciting naked romp (during which she was atypically staggery, having lost the ballast of three pounds of pee in her diaper to help her maintain her centre of gravity).

She is also very chatty. We haven't the foggiest what she's saying, but she asserts herself in every conversation, usually with some vigorous nods of the head.

A favourite game of Anna's is the tickle game. She sneaks up behind someone who is crouched down or bending over and tickles them, making a special high-pitched tickling noise so they know they are being tickled.

When she's not walking or talking or tickling these days, she's kissing. She now puckers up her whole face to come in for a big smooch. She still doesn't like to get prickled by her dad's beard and so spends extra time taking careful aim and lining up lips when she's giving him a kiss. (So do I!)

Many kisses -- air kisses mostly -- are directed at the cat. Moon loves being chased as much as Anna loves chasing her, tho' we'll see how Moon responds when Anna is actually able to do some catching. Most mornings, Moon tears around the house, comes to a rest somewhere semi-accessible within Anna's line of vision, and waits to be noticed and followed -- then she tears away as soon as the baby is near. Both Moon and Anna especially enjoy the sofa. Moon goes back and forth behind it and Anna goes back in forth in front of it, and rarely the twain do meet until one or the other is too tired to resist any longer.

Today, she also figured out how to make a sound on the tin whistle, though the piano and the pots-and-pans orchestra remain her instruments of choice. She's been trying for days to get the damn thing to whistle for her. We've shown her how to exhale into it, but she would just grab it and hum a slobbery tune into it and hope for the best. Accidental exhalations, followed by flutey noises, followed by praise and applause from her audience let her know she was on the right track today. So she started alternating humming into it with making it whistle. The slobber remains the consistent element.

She's teething, and we have absolutely no idea what we're doing when it comes to putting her to bed or keeping her in bed at night, but the fact is that she is way, way ahead of us and when we're groggy, we lose even more ground to her nefarious strategies. Here's her logic: If I cry until I throw up, Mom and Dad will have to lift me out of my crib and change all the sheets and by that time I'll have done all the playing I want. Or: If I cry hard enough, Mom and Dad will worry that I'm going to throw up and will lift me out of my crib to avoid the extra laundry. Either way, she gets lifted out of her crib, which was her goal all along.

We suspect that if we come up with a counter-strategy, Anna will prove to already have a new tactic in reserve. When I asked my mother -- ever ready to provide advice when asked -- for ideas, she made several helpful suggestions, but when I said, "But don't you think she'll just try something new to get us to lift her up?" even mom faltered. "Yeah, you're right," she said, "you were like that when you were a baby." Any behaviours Anna exhibits that I exhibited first are cause for Stephen to label our darling chickadee "grandma's revenge."

Monday, August 20, 2007

Baby Steps

Anna Sophia took her first steps yesterday. She is ten-and-a-half months old. It seems amazing what she has learned in the last two months, in the time since I had to take a break from documenting her life due to the busy-ness of living life. If I can, I will return to this blog and fill in some blanks, but for today I'll stick with the present.

For a week or two, Anna has been at the Wile-E-Coyote-over-the-edge-of-the-cliff stage of standing independently. In other words, she has been able to stand up until she notices that she is not holding on to anything, then she reaches for the nearest support or gently lowers her bum to the ground. The cliff edge of standing unsupported has been getting less scary for her, it's true, and sometimes she has waved her arms in the air and wiggled her butt before realizing she wasn't holding onto anything.

But yesterday morning, we noticed that she was standing around unsupported and aware that she was unsupported and was relatively unperturbed. She tested her balance and tested her weight. She rarely wanted to plop to her bottom and scoot on her bum, and instead spent her time scooting along the edges of furniture, along walls, and around corners. She eyed the cat as though she might be able to catch her this time.

At her Grandma Marjorie's in the afternoon, after yelling at her Aunt Andrea's cat for being hissy and ducking around the edges of the coffeetable, she was well-settled in to the environment. When Andrea came home and sat on the floor with hair and earrings dangling like temptation itself, Anna let go of her mother and walked three or four steps to Andrea. This little march was witnessed by both Anna's parents and by her grandmother and Aunt Cathy and Uncle Frank. Anna was delighted with their response to her accomplishment and knew she had a hit dance move. (Aunt Mary Jane took in a "rerun" later in the afternoon, when Anna went for another little walk to try to snatch her camera from her.)

Today, Anna clearly understands what we mean when we ask her about "walking" and has put on a few more demonstrations of her new skill -- when she doesn't have to get anywhere far away or get there in a hurry. She has also spent a good part of the day just standing around, dancing in place, lifting or lunging heavy objects one would expect to put her off-balance.

In addition to walking, Anna is up to so much these days. She will not eat anything pureed and wants only food she can pick up with her fingers -- preferably bits of whatever her parents are eating. She is lamenting the end of raspberry season, since she has been a little raspberry fiend for weeks, sitting in her high chair imperiously, waiting for us to raid the bushes at her command. She adores potatoes and will eat almost as much potato as her dad at supper. She loves cheese and peaches and rice cakes and toast. She will eat almost anything that has been laced with trace amounts of her beloved yogurt. While she loved vegetables only a few weeks ago, she finds them a challenge to chew and won't eat them pureed, so they tend to sit on her plate and then get thrown to the floor, but we expect this is temporary, since she still likes the taste of them.

Anna loves books and especially loves books with pictures of animals and words that include animal noises. She met a number of farm animals for the first time at the provincial exhibition and was astounded by them. She made special friends with an uninhibited goat who tried to eat her father's t-shirt. Anna sorts through her books constantly, picking up her favourites and carting them to her parents' laps, where she asks us to read them three, or four, or eighteen times. And she thinks about books even when she isn't reading them. We can tell, because she practises her animal noises as though she is telling herself a little story. She tries to "moo" and "meow" and "woof" and "baa," but they all come out as a very cute "ma-a" like the bleat of a little kid. (The goat kind of kid, I mean.) Today, she managed a "mew" for Moonlight and was so excited, she fell over.

She also applauds herself when she succeeds at anything, and she waves at anyone passing by.

Music is her other great joy. She's a big hummer and singer, and she walks up and down the length of the piano keyboard, picking out notes -- confidently, I guess you would call it. Certainly not "delicately." She also has figured out how to work the buttons on her CD player and knows that the centre button will turn off the god-forsaken CBC programming her mother is trying to listen to and will turn on, instead, one of her groovy kiddie CDs. She will then dance, bouncing her bum up and down, tapping her feet, and humming. Anna also thinks grandparents were invented just to sing to her to make her dance. And, who knows? Maybe they were.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Leaps and Bounds

Anna Sophia is learning and growing at such a rate at the moment that documenting it seems like a lot of work, and there's precious little energy left in us after a day of following her around, extracting her limbs from the cat's dish, pulling her out of cupboards and closets where she engages in her never-ending, unhelpful, "reorganizing," and picking bits of food (and non-food items) out of her fingers and mouth and off her clothes.

Fortunately for us, though, her leaps and bounds aren't literal. Not yet. She's still just bum-scooting around wildly and pulling herself up on stuff willy-nilly. She also has learned to wave for hello and bye-bye and has become a pro at a new game, Head Tilt, which was started by her Aunt Andrea, who one day leaned her head down onto an armrest and got a similar head tilt from Anna, who now happily flops herself sideways at all hours (including suppertime when spoons are headed mouthwise) and expects her playmates (or parents or pets) to follow suit. Very cute.

She woke up one morning last week making all kinds of new sounds that exist in the English language (and that should, if they don't), and she has rarely been quiet since. She constantly practices her "b" and "p" sounds (and smacks her lips kissily while eating her yogurt). She learned to blow a proper raspberry -- tongue out and vibrate-y -- yesterday (messily, while eating her yogurt). She also has four "words": "ha-a" (with a dropping sing-song inflection) for "hello"; "ga-a" (with excitement and pointing or arm-flapping) for the cat; "mamamamama" for "mom" or for when she wants just about anything; and "dadadadada" for her dad, or when she has gotten what she wants.

To be honest, it is other family members who credit her with these "words." I, her mother, am waiting for more indication of true understanding. I'll count it as "hello" when she gets the diphthong in "hi" -- though I will admit that she mostly consistently gets at least the context right with her "ha-a" -- something she does less reliably with "mamamamamamamama." Heart-warming as it is to think her first word might be "mama," she doesn't have a full grasp on the concept. Last evening, she woke briefly soon after she had been tucked in and her dad gave her the dregs of her bottle. She drank them down, her eyes lolling sleepily back in their sockets, and just before passing out completely, she smiled up beatifically and said, "mama." Of course, her father is a good mother.

Anna is in a big hug and kiss and cuddle phase. Her bum-scooting lets her carry and cuddle a toy with one hand while steering with the other as she scoots. It also gets her to her parents' ankles where she can climb to our knees and reach up for lots of hugs for dad (who is too fuzzy in the beardal region for kisses) and hugs and kisses for mom. The kisses continue to be the sloppy, wet open-mouthed variety. If mom and dad attempt a hug or kiss without her, she yells at a high pitch and comes tearing across the floor to get in on some group hug action.

Anna doesn't want to be changed at the moment, and her happy naked kicking, which she used to do just to get her ya-yas out, now rattles the room and puts actual holes in her changing pad. Hmm. Her cloth diapers may be more comfortable on the days she would prefer to be naked, but they sure ain't designed for bum-scooters. The cloth all gets pushed to one side as she scoots, and she leaks -- on the very side she is pulling against the ground. We figured this out from the big red soil stains on her butt after a day spent bum-scooting in the yard and garden. She likes to scoot to the edge of the grass, where the soil has been dug out, and carefully remove stones and twigs and leaves from the soil. This is part of her craze for reorganizing. Sadly, it also becomes part of her craze for putting things in her mouth too. Yummy, yummy rocks.

Well -- can't be much worse than the taste of baby formula, which tastes like it has had its mineral content boosted with iron shavings. No wonder Anna is so keen on grown-up food. Her whole body shook with excitement when she first chomped down on her Grandma Carolyn's French bread. And last week she weirdly commandeered her mother's curried split pea dal for her own lunch. Since it was just split peas and spice and was as mushy as her usual baby food, I figured there was no harm in letting her develop a taste for curry. Her parents sure hope she'll like a wide range of foods from different cultures . . .

Anna is sleeping off her Grandma Marjorie's very exciting birthday party from yesterday afternoon, but her nap will soon end. We'll enjoy a peaceful Monday of walks and gardening and naps, and then her dad will tuck her into bed to sleep as long as her still-sore teeth allow.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

First Vacation

It seemed like a good idea at the time: a long weekend getaway to Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, on the warmer-than-here South Shore, in a quiet bed and breakfast, just hubby and baby and me. And it was a good idea, and it was a good vacation. It was just a bit . . . damp. And snotty.

On Thursday night, before our trip, Anna came down with the cold I had had all week. Every time Anna has gotten a cold, she has gotten the same cold that I have had, so I have had to solace of knowing her symptoms a few hours in advance. Thursday night, I knew that she would feel snotty and sore-throated and that she would sleep better sitting up. However, there are few ways to help a baby sleep sitting up without sitting up oneself, so Friday morning found me packed and ready to go, but a little sleepy.

No matter. Stephen was driving. We made the boat in plenty of time, and Anna loved her first trip on a ferryboat -- it provided classic people-watching. She seemed less distressed than I felt by the collective ugliness of the Maritime people I call my own. She just found them all interesting. Ah, to be innocent.

Anna travelled well in the car, alternately playing and sleeping. Friday evening, a warm welcome at the B&B, where a two-year-old was already in residence (a good omen that the place was baby friendly), a lovely supper out and about in Mahone Bay (I love paying people to cook for me), and a sleepy baby who drifted off at her usual bedtime, allowing her parents to read their books. (Books! Imagine.)

Anna woke for her bedtime bottle in wonderful humour, but with a bit of a fever. And that began a long night. She couldn't sleep lying down. She woke every time we set her back down, and I ended up letting her sit up to sleep all night. Without the props and places to go that we would have had at home, we got precious little sleep as we tried to make sure Anna could sleep as much as she needed to.

And so, Plan B. When we woke, sleep-deprived, to pouring rain, we decided that if we were to enjoy our day of touring around Mahone Bay and Lunenburg, it would be best to spend the night in Halifax -- an hour closer to home, and among family at Aunt Gen's.

This plan, generously accepted by Gen and Pete, allowed us to spend as many hours as we wished wandering the galleries and tea shops of Mahone Bay and Lunenburg, keeping ourselves and the baby as warm and dry as possible. Anna's production of snot and drool was prodigious, but the rain was less prodigious, so the day was very pleasant. Anna is easy to be around, even when she's under the weather, under the weather.

Late afternoon found us in Halifax, where Anna was more than happy to find herself in Gen and Pete's cozy livingroom where she could bum-scoot around the floor and where there was furniture to be climbed and overturned. Her uncle Danny came over to play, and soon Gen and Pete arrived home, with more aunts and uncles (Cath and Phil!), and a plan for supper that also included cousin Mark and Amanda (and Anna's wee second-cousin-to-be).

So, with ten at the supper table, we found ourselves at an impromptu party, and there's nothing Anna likes better than a party. She stayed awake until she couldn't stay awake and missed as little as possible. She woke again at 10, with a stuffed nose and sore teeth and a bad attitude resulting from her severely overtired state, but she only yelled for half an hour and then slept through the whole night. Her dad and I had a wonderful nine-hour stretch of sleep, a big treat.

We didn't manage to organize ourselves to leave on time to make the boat and so opted to take the bridge home, a long but leisurely drive. Anna got lots of extra sleep to chase away the remnants of her cold.

As interested as Anna was in seeing all the sights and visiting new people and places, she was never more excited than when we drove in the driveway. She recognized her very yellow house right away and kicked and shouted excitedly. Once in the house, she scooted around to see all her toys and familiar favourite spots in the house, and she chased the cat with great glee. Moon, for her part, chased right back.

So while it didn't exactly meet the ideal of the original idea, the first vacation was much better than it seemed like it was going to be at 4 a.m. on Saturday morning in Mahone Bay, with a warm, sticky baby in my arms and a fear in my heart that I had proved a very irresponsible mom for taking a sneezing baby anywhere outside her house.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

On the Move

On Saturday, Anna Sophia hit the seven-month mark and her first tooth made an appearance above surface. She purses her lips around her still-sore gums, and she hums and hums.

Anna spent the weekend trying to propel herself forward, mostly overbalancing onto her face. She tried "creeping" flat on her belly but could only go backwards -- and then yell when she realized that she was farther and farther away from her goal.

On Tuesday, we finally had to name whatever it is that Anna is doing to get herself around the room "crawling." It's kind of a bum-scoot with a lean-over. It involves one foot flat on the floor, knee up, and one foot in front with the knee down. It looks weird, but it gets her where she wants to go. Mostly, she wants to go where the cat is. Barring that, she'll settle for the catfood. We have had to move the catfood.

We have given up on having furniture. There were so many head bumps on Tuesday alone that we put away two chairs and a coffeetable. When she kicked up the attempts to climb up on things, we had to move the piano bench and . . . umm, I don't really remember what furniture we had anymore, now that we sit on the floor so much. The piano legs, the couch, the remaining chair, the bookshelves, and parents' legs and bodies remain to be climbed. And there are always walls to be scaled. Now that Anna can get into previously inaccessible parts of the room, she spends a lot of time banging her hands on the baseboard heaters, enjoying the sound, and then trying to climb the walls. She definitely knows that the climbing will get her standing, and standing will get her walking, and walking will get her running, and running will let her catch the cat and rule the world.

(Earlier today, she tried to climb her aunt Emily, but she kept sliding down the bump in the belly that is her little cousin.)

Meanwhile, the cat is alarmed at the lack of furniture and even more alarmed that the baby is turning up in places the baby has never been before. Cat and baby have clearly negotiated some kind of detente, though, since they seem quite comfortable angling around the edges of each other's prescribed territory, and kitty more and more often waltzes past baby (though healthily just out of reach). She likes to live dangerously.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bouncing Baby

As we've met other parents of children under one, we've noticed a sad phenomenon. So many new parents believe their children to be the most gorgeous, the most adorable, the most active, the most advanced of all babies ever born in the history of the world. And the phenomenon is sad because these parents are all so clearly suffering delusions. Because we have the most gorgeous, the most adorable, the most active, the most advanced of all babies ever born in the history of the world. And we can only shake our heads with sympathy at the other poor, poor deluded parents.

Hee hee.

Of course, as parents we are finely attuned to Anna Sophia's individual baby superpowers, but we know that if she were a different person from whom she most definitely is and who she is most definitely becoming, we would simply attune ourselves to a different set of superpowers. I hope. Sometimes we're so busy being attuned to Anna's busy being, it's hard to tell what we would think under different circumstances, if we were able to think straight at all.

These days, Anna is teething hard but very slowly. There must be teeth in there somewhere, but they aren't showing themselves. She is drooling in buckets. She is then climbing into and out of the buckets.

She is still desperate to walk and is trying to decide if crawling is worth an investment of energy. She no longer stays in one place when set on the floor. She bounces on her bum, reaches impossibly far in front of her, grips the floor with her feet, and either spins in a circle or pulls herself forward or tries out a crawling position or faceplants, depending on her mood and her sense of adventure. She can boogie her way over to her toy basket and empty its contents one by one onto the floor (an activity she also likes to apply to laundry baskets and any shelves at baby level). She is still most adept at spinning in a circle where she sits, which usually leads to a ring of toys just out of her immediate reach, with her sitting in the middle of the ring still trying to decide if crawling is worth an investment of energy. She has faceplanted just often enough to make her wary.

If her parents are nearby, we automatically become jungle gyms. If we sit next to her, Anna grabs pantlegs, pulls herself up to standing, and bounces and dances. Or faceplants. If we sit or lie on the floor next to her, she climbs over whatever part of us is closest. She tugs and pulls our parts, and she hangs over and balances on our parts.

Anna is only still while sleeping. And she prefers to save her sleeping for the night-time rather than daytime naps, though she likes to wake in the evening long enough to check out American Idol. She was a Sanjaya fan, but he went home last week, and we were surprised last night to find Anna inclined to support Blake. Perhaps since this season of Idol is so boring, Anna will soon choose to sleep through the night??

Anna loves adventures outside, now that spring is in the air. She has greeted many upstart crocuses and six early tulips in the garden. We've been enjoying "field trips," adding to our usual destinations (Confederation Centre Gallery or Confederation Centre Library or Mavor's at Confederation Centre) some new, scenic locations around town. And one day this week, we went to the greenhouses around the corner to buy fresh green beans (Anna's favourite of all her favourite vegetables) and to look at all kinds of blooming flowers and seedling plants. Anna hummed to them very happily. She also tried to grab them and rip them to shreds. (She seems to understand an alarming amount of what we say to her, but "Gentle" is still a concept beyond her, um, "grasp.") We also visited the bunnies that live in the greenhouse. They were at it like, well, rabbits. I decided it would not be age-appropriate to explain this aspect of spring.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Happy Easter!

In some climates, in some parts of the world, Easter might fall in springtime, but here, where springtime exists only as a state of mind and our closest approximation of "spring fever" is a warmish reddish rash from friction burn where we tried to scrub off a layer of mud, Easter has brought a blizzard. It's a real blizzard -- the one they've been forecasting all winter but that has never materialized.

Anna's first Easter brunch with grandparents Ledwell will be, if we are lucky, Easter late lunch with Uncle Patrick and Aunt Tara, who are within walking distance and are still young and strong.

We're determined to make it out for turkey dinner at Grandma MacInnis's. We're told the turkey is in the oven and that it would have died in vain if we don't make an attempt to get there.

Only two logistical hurdles to face: digging out whatever has blown in since Stephen dug out earlier this morning, and getting Anna into baby leotards to keep her legs warm in her Easter dress. Given that she resists all and any clothes, I'm not sure what army will be able to get her into leotards. Come to think of it, I can't think what army would be able to get me into leotards, but -- really -- if you can't apply double standards to babies, who is left to apply them to?

Anna is happily watching the snow breeze past the window as she scoots back and forth in her non-saucer shaped exersaucer. It's called an "intellitainer," but we refer to it as the "intellicizer" when we don't refer to it as "the contraption."

Anna's up to her old tricks but is adding new ones. On Thursday, she decided her favourite new game is to grab hands or arms or anything she can and use them to pull herself to standing. She did this again and again and again on Thursday, and not only is she able to do it with ease, now, she is able to look proud of herself for doing it. Very proud of herself. The girl knows an accomplishment when she sees it. On Friday, she showed off her new skill for her uncle Danny, home from Halifax.

Her parents are proud, too, but most days, we look at each other and say, "Hoo boy. We are in so much trouble." We can barely keep up with her now, when she's barely mobile at all. We aren't sure how we'll catch her when she manages to walk, a goal she has decided is more interesting (and possibly more attainable) than crawling.

Right now, she can mostly launch herself forward and backward from sitting, either bonking her head or narrowly missing bonking her head. (We surround her with pilllows and our own selves, so mostly she bonks her head on pillows or legs.) She loves to try to crawl over her parents -- we are obviously obstacles to getting where she wants to go. As usual, where she wants to go is wherever the cat is. Which is never far away, because Moon loves to be near the baby. While the baby naps, Moon naps -- on the changing table.

Anna's other favourite toy, for when the cat is out of sight, is a stainless steel bowl and a rubbery ball. Who knew that what she most wanted to play with was a bowl from the kitchen? We thought all baby toys had to be created by teams of baby psychologists with theories about how many whizzbangs and gadgets and colours and questionable baby-fied representations of major works of cultural importance could be safely fit into ten inches of plastic to create a genius.

Anna is sitting in her intellicizer full of whizzbangs dangling her feet and happily sucking on her finger. There's drool everywhere. Do you think she's doomed to a life of non-genius?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Whole Half Year

Tomorrow, Anna will mark six months on the "outside." She had her six-month check-up with the doctor this morning, and was called by Doctor Kathy "the most independent six-month-old I know." We know, too.

She is growing and thriving on all the measurements: height in the 75th percentile, weight in the 50th, head in the 95th. This percentile business is not particularly meaningful except as an explanation of why her feet reach the bottoms of her sleepers before her belly fills out their width, and why baby hats are laughably tiny on her huge noggin. It has its own atmosphere and satellites. (The atmosphere some days is mostly methane. The satellites, we suspect, are us.)

By all other measures, she's well beyond her age. At least we, her parents, aided and abetted by her adoring grandparents, assess her as extraordinary in every possible way.

She can sit up, unsupported, and play with toys all the live-long day. (Her mother even cavalierly leaves the room for whole minutes at a time and leaves her sitting up.) She figures out how new toys work in minutes. She eats her sweet potatoes and rice cereal and carrots as though she had a full set of teeth (except for the chewing part). She loves books, also to eat. She loves the phone -- to eat, to listen to, to push buttons on, to yank from her parents' hands.
She loves to pull blankets over her head until someone says "Where's Anna gone?" at which point she pulls down the blanket to show a big giggly smile and to hear a happy "Peekaboo." She loves her new sitting-up and looking-outwards point of view in the stroller without the infant car seat attachment. She gazes at the world with a frightening level of knowingness. And sometimes she (almost) catches the cat, who continues to be a careful playmate, strutting in front of the baby but keeping a safe distance.

Anna is still a striver. Desperate to crawl, she pulls herself onto her belly from a sitting position and then shrieks with unhappiness as she flails her arms and feet and scratches the floor with her fingernails, all to no avail in getting her forward. She reaches for whatever is in front of her and rocks on her belly and bends her knees, but she can't coordinate her actions. God help us when she can. Nothing will be safe from her. (Please, no one tell her about the rolling-across-the-floor option, or the bum-scooting option!)

Getting her dressed is a huge ordeal now, because she is so busy and so strong. She pulled a diaper out from under her bum one night and waved it in the air while her sleepy father was trying to change her. The fewer pieces the outfit comes in, the better. Pants and socks make her cry -- if you can get her into them at all. "I'm ready for the rodeo," Stephen laughed one day after wrastling her into something or other. If only her long legs and feet were better accommodated by one-piece suities . . . Grandma Carolyn might have the best idea -- she just yanks off the baby's outer clothing as soon as she gets near her and lets her eat her toes in peace.

Beyond clothes, Anna's "new look" this week is the nose-squinch, the first sign that she might be related to me and my family. Previously, she had two smiles, the close-lipped impish grin and the big toothless open-mouthed show-offy smile. This week, she added a brand-new smile with an open mouth and a squinched-up nose (and a little laugh created by inhaling and exhaling through a slightly stuffy squinched up baby nose). The nose-squinch was, of course, perfected by her aunt Emily when she was a baby. (Emily famously used her nose-squinch "ph-mile" to charm and distract grown-ups so she could put her arm into their whiskey glasses.)

What Anna loves best in the world is to be praised. "Yay" and "Hooray" are her favourite words. Applause is her favourite sound. What a little diva. The praise is obviously spurring her on to great accomplishments -- and, uh-oh maybe that's what swelling her head?!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Happy Anniversary & Bonne Anniversaire

By luck or by design, I've managed to work a few major life milestones in before society-dictated "deadlines."

Friday, Stephen and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. We got married three days before my 30th birthday -- not, as some suggested, because I was desperate to get married before I turned thirty but, instead, because I was desperate not to have to endure a thirtieth birthday party, so we had a wedding instead. It was a great day.

Our first year married was tough, with two miscarriages and the death of Stephen's ancient old hag of a cat, Neruda. The next two years, we celebrated the time we had together as a couple to enjoy each other's company, but we were saddened that no baby was on the way. Last year, we were at the trepidatious end of my last trimester, nervously hopeful of a happy ending.

We got our happy ending in September, and, as I said to Stephen on Friday (as we prepared for an evening out! with dinner! and a movie! and a wonderful sitter, in Auntie Cathy, for Anna to enjoy!), it was our fifth anni-versary but our first Anna-versary. Our beautiful, smart, funny girl.

As a gift, we bought ourselves (or, err, Anna) a ridiculous contraption of a play centre with literal bells and whistles. It takes up the entire of the available floor space in the living room. But when Anna tested the floor model at the store, she shrieked with delight, and we were sold. All our proclamations that we would not be materialistic parents distracting our baby with noisy contraptions melted away as she found first the bells and then the whistles and then sounded them all at once.

Today, on my thirty-fifth birthday, with a five-month-old unadjusted to an early change to Daylight Saving Time and brightly and noisily working the bells and whistles, I realized that I had met the other society-imposed deadline for having babies before you're 35.

Tune in another time, not my birthday, to hear me bristle and rail against arbitrary dates designed to put social pressure on women and to make us feel guilty and/or inadequate, too old or too young. Don't get me started on pregnancies being called "high-risk" the instant a mother turns 35. Just don't. It's my birthday, and I'm putting politics aside to read cookbooks and talk on the phone.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Playing Catch and Playing Catch-Up

I keep checking this blog to see if there's anything new about Anna Sophia, and I am always disappointed there are no new posts until I remember that I'm the person supposed to be posting. I'm sure I'm not the only blogger who secretly hopes that someone else will have uncovered something shocking and thrilling and will have revealed it to the world (or to the audience of six interested family members) in a breezy and engaging literary style while no one else was looking.

At this stage in her growing up, everything Anna's world changes so fast, it is difficult to document - but at the same time, her growth and her learning are so constant and so incremental that they can slip past, day by day, until you one day realize that, gosh golly gee, she's five months old, and she's begun eating rice cereal and sipping from a sippy cup like an expert, and she's "talking" with new sounds every day, and she's growing like a thing that grows in both her length and her weight, and she can sit up without help (but with close supervision!) for a few more seconds every day.

We've had a few days of bright and warming weather and have been able to pop out of the house on unplanned, unscheduled adventures on a whim - tra la la - so today's return to the deep freeze and wind chill and to the ignominy of snowsuits and the indignity of car seats and cold drives in the car was disappointing and tiring for both Anna and her mom.

Restricted as she is to the indoors and her playmat, Anna is making the best of it. She rolls and kicks herself into circles so she can end up somewhere other than where she was put. She sits up and scrutinizes her surroundings. She rolls balls back and forth with her dad, playing "catch" and even kicks at the ball if it comes close to her foot while she's standing up (supported). She knocks over towers of blocks. She makes designs on the bookshelves that her body can't quite carry out - yet. She shrieks with absolute glee when she sees the cat and even has a special vocalization just for her furry friend. She hopes and hopes she will be allowed to pet the kitty, and once a day or so, kitty obliges by allowing a flank to be rubbed with a drool-covered mitt. Once this week, kitty miscalculated and got her tail good and grabbed, but both she and the baby were so surprised that they startled each other into quick extrication.

Man, are we going to be in trouble when this baby can move much farther than the inches she can manage now.

Every day, she is more reachy and more grabby and more stretchy and more strong. She wants to drink coffee, but her father says "she can't until she's two." She loves to wave around, tear up, or eat the flyers from the paper. She uses sweeping motions to clear off any surfaces she can reach (leaving us worried she might be the kind of neat freak that we are decidedly NOT). She initiates her own games of hide and seek and peekaboo by pulling a blanket over her head and then pulling them off with a sly grin and a giggle. She's all personality, our Anna.

But soon she will be all personality and action. God help us all.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Baby Human Tricks

Anna is up to new tricks -- every day, it seems.

Trick 1: While getting a clean bum, lying on her changing table, she rolls onto her side, crosses her legs, arches her back, throws her head back, and reaches over her head to knock the vaseline off the table and onto the floor. Then she giggles at the clatter and looks for other items to toss. She has become a perfect sculptor's model for torsion. In art history, they didn't explain that the development of classical statuary, from straight up and down to contrapostto, followed the patterns of baby human development.

I urge you all to attempt to change a baby who is lying on her side with her legs crossed and her back arched all the way back. Anna's dad, who can paint eyeballs onto angels on the heads of pins, throws his hands up in the air in despair when dealing with our dervish.

I should never have told her that the vaseline is made from "dinosaur trees." It just spurred her on.

Trick 2: While standing around at her grandma's house, supported under the arms by her Aunt Andrea, she loosened up her formerly rigid knees and lifted her right leg like a high-stepping horse on parade. And forward she stepped. She kinda only "stepped" in this way with her right leg, which means she mostly spun in a circle. Practising pivots for basketball, perhaps?

Trick 3: Yesterday, while I was folding the clothes on the bed, I propped Anna against some pillows. From a position leaning back on the pillows at a 45 degree angle, she pushed her elbows back and raised herself to sitting. She toppled over when she got overexcited because of the praise being lavished on her for her strength and ingenuity -- but she went on to repeat her little sit-up six or eight times -- until her father came into the room to see, and then she wouldn't do it again. She was too busy gazing adoringly at her father.


Today, we also played with her little toy drum and little toy xylophone, but her movements aren't quite subtle enough for those toys, yet. She can grab the little toy mallet and aim it at the instrument well enough, but she hits it with an almighty, unmusical force, then draws the mallet back and bonks herself on the forehead with it.

Anna still always wants to do the next thing. She's very reachy, grabby, and lean-forwardy this week. In yoga, pushing too far forward suggests a preoccupation with the future, and I guess babies have to be future-oriented to some extent -- but we're all enjoying the moment, moment to moment, too, and we hope she'll enjoy her journeys as much as her destinations.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

A Good Day

Some mornings, Anna wakes up and it's as though she has done weeks' worth of developing during her sleep. This morning, she got up early with her Dad while I slept peacefully through the news I had stayed in bed as a pretext for listening to. I missed some of the action, but I can still attest that she ran the full repertoire of her tricks -- rolling over this way and that, holding her bottle by herself, laughing and giggling and babbling, trying to chase the cat, kicking and grabbing her toys, drinking water out of a glass, trying to pet the cat, drooling on anything inanimate enough to get into her clutches, testing her gag reflex with her fingers and thumb (still works!), throwing and then reaching for her jangly soft blocks, trying to lick the cat.

She was so happy and so pleased with herself -- not frustrated that she couldn't do more, just excited by what she was accomplishing. What a sweet little butter bean.

In fact, she only managed to do one thing to break down her mother's resolve: she looked beautiful and glowing in her little suitie. Now, I've been resisting very strongly the enforced Wearing of Pink for Girls. I try to put her in other colours when we go out in public. But I'm more resistant to buying new clothes than I am to avoiding pink, so the pink hand-me-downs come out fairly regularly, for all. And, to the great amusement of anyone who knows my convictions, Anna looks fantastic in pink. All shades of pink. All patterns of pink. She just sits there, looking stunning. In pink. Of all colours.

Monday, February 5, 2007

The Further Adventures of . . .

Anna Sophia is growing and changing faster than we're able to keep track. She continues to be a bright and active baby who only cries when she knows she's starting to fall asleep and might have to miss something. As she goes through life, she will discover . . . that she's not missing much. Her parents live boring lives when she is asleep and tend to fall back on DVDs of Corner Gas for entertainment. And let's not even mention American Idol.

As I write, Anna is lying on her back on her play mat with one hand in her mouth and a toy mirror between her feet. She intermittently kicks her toys or grabs them with both hands or dandles them between her feet. She sometimes rolls over onto one side to look at Moon, the cat, to see if she's still asleep.

When the cat wakes up, she walks and jumps around and around the room for the baby's entertainment, but she knows to stay just out of reach. Anna wants to pet the cat more than anything in the world. The few times she has succeeded, she has been gentle, but Moon is wisely wary and is enjoying the time she still has left to be in control of the situation.

Anna is never satisfied to do what she already knows she can do and is always keen to do the next thing. She doesn't bother to roll all the way over, except when comfort requires it -- she's too busy trying to sit up. And if she's propped up in a sitting position, she's launching herself forward over her feet into a crawling position. As always, what she loves best is to stand up and hold her own weight. She still can't do much from a standing position, but nowadays, rather than just standing rigid, she experiments with bending her knees and leaning forward as far as she can. Leaning forward is a big theme in any position. When we sit at the piano, she tries to play it with her head. So much for those long, elegant fingers.

This week, Anna is eating everything in sight, whether it is food or not. Everything goes into her drooly mouth. And everything gets chewed. She doesn't suck her thumb, she gnaws on it. The soothie is rarely used for sucking -- just for chewing. She can pull it out of her mouth and put it back in, now, but she usually likes to put it in sideways or backwards, the better for mashing between her gums. On Friday, she discovered that it was particularly fun to put her soothie in her mouth and pull her bottom lip over the bottom edge of it and then chew. She has done this several times since.

Anna is fascinated when her parents drink from a cup or eat real food. She makes a grab for cups, especially, and has great success with glasses of cold water. She likes to steady the glass in her little hands and gum the edge to sip as much water as she can get. I've decided that it isn't too horribly unhygienic to share my glasses of water with her in this way, considering everything else she chews on. I've tasted her fingers, for the sake of science, and they don't taste like distilled water in a clean glass. They taste of floor.

Funnily enough, while she was sucking back a glass of water at lunch today, I decided to see if she wanted to drink a little bit of her formula from her glass. Nothing doing. She pushed it away (and spilled the whole sipful in the cup all over her sleeper, something she never does with the water). Her look clearly told me that glasses are for grown-up drinks, not baby drinks. Bottles are for baby drinks. I had made a categorical error. Luckily, she knows I'm still in training, so I got off with a reprimand and an order to launder her wet sleeper.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

The Failure of Philosophy and Science in the Face of Baby

Anna Sophia makes a liar out of me. Not that it takes much. Lying is an inherited, endemic family trait -- tho' we usually like to think of it as "storytelling" at best or "embellishment" at worst.

For all my claims that Anna was not eating well last week, she is growing normally, healthily, beautifully. What she wasn't doing well last week was making a transition. This has happened before -- the week before making a big jump in her eating or sleeping or any other big change to her regular routine, she hardly eats at all, and she fusses about her food, and she resists all interventions -- then kaboom, she suddenly starts to eat everything in sight. Anna woke up on Monday morning and started to eat like a ravenous animal.

It turns out that babies dissolve the part of your brain that is capable of making rational assessments on the topic of Baby. (People who generalize this brain deterioration and claim that women become irretrievably irrational when they get pregnant and give birth can go directly to hell, but I will grant that when it comes to the topic of my baby, my ability to think logically might be a little bit compromised.)

I acknowledge that last week, my concern about Anna's eating was illogical. And by illogical, I mean based on faulty logic. In fact, I mean based on two contradictory premises. My thinking went a bit like this:
Premise 1: She's putting on weight, which should mean she needs more food, but she's not eating more food, so I really should be worried.
Premise 2: She's not putting on weight, even though she's growing, which should mean she needs more food, but she's not eating more food, so I really should be worried.

I'm not sure how I managed to hold simultaneously on to the thoughts that she needed more food to grow and that she was growing so much she needed more food.

For what it's worth, I still insist that my concern over her eating last week was Justifiable. How could it not be when I went to such lengths to justify it?

(Ah, grasshopper, the tautologies grow more taut.)

Stephen, the type who bases conclusions on evidence rather than logic, was no less tripped up by last week's lack of appetite. He hypothesized that Anna was not eating because the calcium build-up in our sterilizing pot tasted bad and was turning her off. He stopped using the pot, she started eating better, and -- voila -- hypothesis proved. In his mind, anyway. Never mind that he ignored a number of important variables in the experiment: for instance, the fact that her soy formula tastes like ass with crushed up vitamins, anyway.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Four Months Old

Today, Anna Sophia is four months old -- by the calendar. She's a bit older in lunar months. But we seem to have lost track of weeks, and so lunar months as well. We know for sure that winter has arrived, because it is making it harder to traipse about with stroller and baby. Sometimes, the snow slows us, sometimes the wind that steals baby's breath.

It would be impossible to chronicle all that Anna has learned in her first four months. By the time we register one learning or one change, she's striving for the next.

She now tracks the cat's movements in fascination and adoration and has, a few times, petted her fur quite gently. The cat, in turn, sniffs Anna up close and jumps over her head when she's playing on the floor. Every day, though, there's more reaching, and you can see the wheels turn in Anna's head: "I want to chase that cat." And in Moon's head: "I want to be chased, as long as I can move faster than whatever is chasing me."

This morning, Anna's dad and I took her upstairs for the whole morning, a change of scenery she seemed to enjoy, albeit from the comfort and safety of her playpen (politically correctly renamed as a "play yard"). She looked at her dad's new painting, with approval, and she probably swallowed four months' worth of her peck of dirt. We haven't spent a whole morning together upstairs since Anna was born, and we mostly had to vacuum the wood floors up there, which we also have not done since she was born.

Now that she knows she can turn herself over, she doesn't bother to try very often. Instead, she is putting her energy into trying to sit up. If you lie her down on an upward tilt, on your lap or any other surface, she strains to lift herself upright. And if you set her down sitting up already, she smiles and smiles -- though we set her up sitting in her "play yard" this morning and she stretched forward as far as she could (paschimottanasana in yoga), fell onto her belly, then flipped onto her back. She was ricocheting more than causing the flips through her own effort, but we praised her anyway.

When she's getting changed, Anna now likes to immobilize the parent who is changing her by hanging on to one of our arms with her bare feet and holding on to the other with her hands. She then tries to eat our sleeves.

There is no adjustment of pipes that will turn off her faucet of drool these days. No washer we can install. Her fingers and thumb are constantly in her mouth, and any slackness in her sleepers gets yanked on so she can get as much fabric as possible to suck on. Her cheeks are also starting to redden up. These are all signs of teething. Stephen likes to tell Anna (while she watches, transfixed, as we brush our teeth) that if she had taken better care of her teeth, she'd still have them.

I have a strong suspicion that Anna's teething process will be as long and drawn out as her birth -- a sign here, a sign there for weeks and weeks -- then a big, painful production. I've warned her that she can't reasonably opt to have her baby teeth surgically extracted from her gums.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Crazy Going Slowly Am I

It's amazing how often, in thinking about Anna Sophia, the words that spring into my mind are that I'm "absolutely crazy about this baby." And it's equally amazing how infrequently I stop to reflect on the presence of "crazy" in my phrase-of choice. But there's little doubt that there's a healthy (or unhealthy) dose of insanity thrown into love for a pre-verbal infant.

We're very lucky. According to everyone, we have a "good baby." Also according to everyone, we have a baby who is very clear in her communications about what she wants and what she needs, preverbal or not. But "everyone" is not as attuned to the particularities of Anna's emerging personality. And "everyone" isn't spending a ridiculous number of hours a day at home, cut off from intellectual endeavours, with nothing analytical to do except to dissect those particularities.

In other words, it's impossible to avoid a certain amount of obsessiveness. It's impossible not to go a little bit crazy about the baby. My obsession, when it gets the better of me, fixates on Anna's objections to eating the amount that most babies her age, weight, and activity level would eat. She's only four to six ounces a day under the average, and "everyone" is again right to observe that she's thriving, strong, and extremely busy and alert. Still, there are weirdnesses in her food choices.

The weirdest thing is that no matter what time she wakes in the morning, no matter how hungry she is when she wakes, she absolutely will not eat more than ten or eleven ounces before noon. If she wakes with an empty belly at 4:30, she still won't eat again until 10:30 or 11:00. If she sleeps the sleep of the just until 7:00 a.m., same thing. This means that if she doesn't eat enough on Monday, she can't make up for it by eating more on Tuesday, because the number of hours in any given day always turns out to be finite, and her ability to stay awake is equally finite, and she'd prefer to sleep than eat almost any time.

Most days, she eats enough. But if she's equally tired and hungry on a particularly busy day, the tiredness will almost always win, and she'll go to sleep with too little food in her belly.

I know she won't starve herself, but the day after she has eaten too little always goes badly, and no amount of rational discussion about changing her feeding schedule seems to persuade her to eat a little bit more to even out her eating. Hence, obsession.

For all of those who suggested I should calm down about her food intake over the weekend, thanks, and of course I'm fine by today. But Monday with a hungry and restive baby (after Sunday with an over-tired and unwilling-to-eat baby) was not an easy day.

I have almost always let go my obsession of the week by Wednesday evening, after a coffee with other moms with babes ranging in age from three to ten months. Collectively, we've been through it all. Each baby has his or her own crazy-making features and his or her own joys, and all of these are fun to share and are inherently reassuring. Today, rather than coffee at a coffee shop, we got together at a mom's house -- ten little people. Some stander-uppers, some sitter-uppers, some lyer-downers, some crawl-arounders. As they circulated and watched each other and ate and spit up and farted, we could all see that our obsessions were futile.

Anna, still a lyer-arounder but fascinated by crawlers and stander-uppers, particularly enjoyed lying on her back, kicking vigorously, watching the other babies with her wide, wide eyes. She made a sincere effort to lick or chew anyone or anything who came into range. And if they stayed just out of range, she gently patted them on the leg, or the arm, or the bum, or whatever part presented itself. I did not offer her any food, so she did not have to yell at me that I was ruining everything. She did not need to spit it out or refuse to swallow it. And, in the course of the afternoon, she did not starve to death.

Anna has had issues with food since she was born, and this is why I worry. I still find it hard to accept sometimes that she couldn't breastfeed and I couldn't provide food for her from my body instead of from a tinny-tasting can full of sucrose, soy, sunflower oil, and vitamins.

Stephen, on the other hand, puts forward the perfectly reasonable proposition that Anna might just have his appetite and metabolism rather than mine. And he won't eat before noon, either. Between Anna and Stephen and "everyone" else, I'm clearly outnumbered. I might just have to find something more productive to fixate on.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Stuff and Nonsense

Last week, Anna did manage, finally, to roll over. She rolled over twice from her belly to her back (Thursday, I think) and soon was able to do it proficiently enough to be captured by camera. She rolled over once from her back to her belly, but I missed this. I was peeling five pounds of potatoes for the family brunch in her honour and only heard the shriek of surprise when she found herself stranded on her tummy. I took a picture of her on her belly in the middle of the kitchen floor. Anticlimactic, but still worthy of applause.

Anna still can't call up the ability to roll over at will -- she's still catching on to the theory of momentum and finds rolling easier when she's on her blanket on a folded yoga mat. She works her way to the edge, and hey presto she's upside down or upside right in no time.

Last night, Stephen and I decided to stay up late for the first time in yonks, and Anna decided to wake twice through the night for the first time, like, ever. Today, we were all tired. While Anna took a long nap, I read her Tarot cards, where there were few surprises. The cards said she's daddy's girl but is more insecure about her mother's affections. She's very independent and intuitive and influenced by her environment. She is frustrated at the delays in reaching her goals at present. In her future, she feel pulled between romantic attraction to the raffish and the rational, but she will seek harmony in love above all and will love the world she discovers through her senses. Of course, the final card basically said, much will be revealed later, I'm only a baby.

Hmm. My hope in writing this post was to seem less flaky as a mom than the earth welcoming might have portrayed me to be. Perhaps revealing that I read my baby's Tarot cards while she's napping is the wrong strategy?

Anna's music pick for this week is the Our Power Solar Compilation, featuring a great acoustic track by those In-Flight Safeties and a new favourite by Great Aunt Ida. Guaranteed to put baby to sleep in eight tracks or less, and all for a good cause.

Of course, we're beginning to wonder about Anna's musical taste, considering that when she's fussy, the only thing that settles her is her parents' singing Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love" as a duet, with vocalizations of the guitar riffs. [*shudder*]

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Earth Welcoming

Our families are Roman Catholic, and, sadly, the Catholic initiation of babies is inadequate to baby girls who would like to live and grow on the earth. Among other things, it lacks connection to the earth and soil. For another, it rejects women's leadership.

For our Anna Sophia, we asked a special gift: a more inclusive welcoming liturgy to help her be welcomed into the community of people of all faiths and no faiths who similarly seek justice, wisdom, and compassion. We asked my aunt, Genevieve Mullally, and she enlisted the help of her husband, Peter Mullally, and their friend Pauline Dalton to create an Earth Welcoming for Anna Sophia, which her family shared in this morning. Here is the liturgy they created.

Earth Welcoming for Anna Sophia
January 14, 2007

Welcome and introduction
[One special part of the welcome was that we lit a candle for Anna Sophia, floated in a bowl of water that brought together water from the book where Anna's mom's family played and fished and the lily pond where her dad's family played.]

Song: "O Beautiful Gaia" (Gaia, a Greek word for earth)

In the recesses of our being we hear the call…the first and deepest call…
the call of Earth, through water and wind, forest and farmland, inviting
us to become one again with all that lives. We are called home
to our place within the Earth community. We are called on, into the
ongoing relatedness of creation.
(Copied from Song Lyrics booklet from the CD O Beautiful Gaia)

O Beautiful Gaia, O Gaia calling us home,
O beautiful Gaia, calling us on.

Fraîche rosée du matin, O Gaia tu nous appelles
Fraîche rosée du matin, rentrons chez nous.

Soil yielding its harvest, O Gaia calling us home
Soil yielding its harvest, calling us on.

Waves crashing on granite, O Gaia calling us home
Pine bending in windstorm, calling us on.

Loon nesting in marshland, O Gaia calling us home,
Loon nesting in marshland, calling us on.

Repeat 1st verse.

Reading: "The Four Elements"
(adapted from a reflection by John Seed and Joanna Macy in Earth Prayers)

What are you? What am I? Intersecting cycles of water, earth, air and fire, that’s what I am, that’s what you are.

Water: blood, lymph, mucus, sweat, tears, inner oceans tugged by the moon, tides within and tides without. Streaming fluids floating our cells, washing and nourishing through endless riverways of gut and vein and capillary. You are that. I am that.

Earth: matter made from rock and soil. Earth pours through us, replacing each cell in the body every seven years. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, we ingest, incorporate and excrete the earth, are made from the earth. I am that. You are that.

Air: the gaseous realm, the atmosphere, the planet’s membrane. The breathing in, the breathing out. Breathing out carbon dioxide to the plants, breathing in oxygen that keeps each of our cells awake. The dance of the air cycle, breathing the universe in and out again. That is what you are. That is what I am.

Fire: fire from our sun that fuels all life, drawing up plants and raising the waters to the sky to fall again replenishing. The inner furnace of your metabolism burns with the fire of the Big Bang that first sent matter-energy spinning through space and time. You, Anna Sophia, were there, I was there, each of us was there, for each cell of our bodies is descended in an unbroken chain from that event.

Shared blessings

[Everyone present lit tea lights from Anna's candle and offered their blessings and wishes, from a wish for health and happiness to a wish for discovery to a wish for a love of animals and shoes!]

Family litany Response: You are with us.

[Everyone present called to mind their name saints.]

Salute to Anna Sophia

[An earth prayer adapted especially for Anna Sophia, celebrating her roots in the soil where she was born and the way she will grow and move in her future.]

Closing song: We Rise Again (composed by Leon Dubinsky)

The waves roll on, over the water, and the ocean cries
We look to… our sons and daughters… to explain our lives.
As if our child could tell us why
That as sure as the sunrise, as sure as the sea,
as sure as the wind in the tree

We rise again, in the faces of our children
We rise again in the voices of our song
We rise again in the waves out on the ocean
And then, we rise again.

When the light goes dark, with the forces of creation, across a stormy sky
We look to… reincarnation… to explain our lives
As if our child could tell us why
That as sure as the sunrise, as sure as the sea,
as sure as the wind in the tree

Friday, January 12, 2007

Pet Sounds

One of the most common questions I get from a certain type of people (cat people) is, "How is your kitty adjusting to the baby?"

Now, our cat, Moon (a.k.a. Moonlight, Moon Unit, Moonie, Chicken Monkeyface) has acquired, undeservedly, a Bad Reputation due to her rambunctious nature, her terrorization of her cousin kitty when they were both kittens, and her tendency to bounce of the walls and sit on the kitchen table when people come over to visit. Moonlight definitely has energy and personality to burn, so we were curious to see how she would react to Baby.

She knew something was up while I was pregnant. She used to sit on my lap and massage my belly, and given the gestational activity level of Anna-to-be, Moon must have felt a kick or two or seventy. Moon also undoubtedly noticed shifts in furniture in "her" room -- the spare room, which became the nursery. And, finally, a month before the baby was born, we set up the bassinet and lined it with tinfoil to pet-proof it, to give tin-averse Moon the message that while the bassinet was on her usual jump-and-play route, it was out of bounds. Moon only jumped in the once.

When we brought Anna home, we kept Moon out of the bedroom for a few nights, so we could see how she reacted. She was great. She jumped into the bassinet once, sniffed the baby carefully, decided she was Hers, and jumped out. She then became the baby's protector.

When Anna cried, Moon would find Stephen or find me and tap us on the back of the leg, as if to say, "Human Person, your small bald kitten is crying." (She might, of course, have been saying, "Human Person, you loved me first, so pay attention to me instead of your small bald kitten." We aren't expert cat translators.)

When we brought Anna home from one of her adventures, Moon sniffed her carefully, to make sure we had brought home the right baby.

When we set a stool beside the bassinet to help Bad-Back Daddy manipulate the baby in and out of the bassinet, Moon decided this was her sentinel post to observe the baby and make sure she was okay. This was very cute.

Then, when we woke one night to find Anna the Active bouncing the bassinet alarmingly, we set up the crib. "Aha," thought Moon, "this new piece of furniture has not been lined with tinfoil and must, therefore, belong to me." She jumped in and fell asleep. We scooped her out. And she avoided the crib for a week or two.

Until . . . Anna started to encroach on more of Moon's territory. Sitting on Stephen's lap in the morning while he drank his coffee! Lying on the floor in the middle of Her livingroom! Snuggling up to Jane in bed in the morning! Moon did what any cat would do. She strategically communicated messages about her territory. When, and only when, the baby showed up in part of Moon's territory, Moon stalked off to the bedroom, hopped into the crib, and looked at us menacingly until we got the message. As soon as we showed we had registered her concern about her territory (or as soon as we moved the baby), out she hopped.

Although . . . Moon might still have designs on the birdie mobile over the crib. She's making no promises.

Anna, for her part, now notices the cat and tracks her movements. So far, she hasn't grabbed out for Moon. She will. Neither cat nor baby has been declawed, so I'm guessing they'll be pretty evenly matched.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Motor developments

While much of Anna Sophia's development and self-discovery is joyful both for her and for us, Stephen and I have been surprised at her palpable frustration when she can't do something she desperately wants to do. We've known since she was born that she would prefer to be a grown-up and wanted little to do with this whole baby business, but she can express her desires in so many new ways, now.

This week, Anna discovered the top of her head, first with her right hand, then with her left. This has allowed her to do a lot of ear-flapping and hair-rubbing with her hands. Even more excitingly, it has meant she has added one more motion to the set of motions she needs to turn herself over from belly to back or from back to belly. When she's on her back, she throws her arm into the air, presses her foot into the floor, and arches her back, and with one side of her body thus launched straight up into the air, she balances, in a poised state of frustration. She hasn't figured out yet how to thrust her topmost hip forward to give her the momentum to roll. Seeing her struggle to figure this out is fascinating and more hilarious for her parents than it is for her.

On her belly, she makes a special yelp which starts out kind of excited and playful but quickly gets more frustrated as she struggles to turn over. Actually, on her belly, she has trouble deciding between attempts to roll over onto her back (where she seems to know she will get stuck -- see above) or to move forward. She pulls one knee up under her and starts to press to roll -- then she yanks up the other knee and tilts herself facefirst onto her chin.

Anna spends more time on the floor on blankets now, since she can't be left in her carseat. She used to like to sit and watch the goings on. Now, no sooner is she set in the chair than she leverages her strong, long feet against the seat, arches her back into the air, then makes her body rigid. When -- if -- she allows herself to bend in the middle again, she slumps into the bottom of the chair with her feet hanging over the end. Not safe, not comfortable, just disconcerting.

Since I am ever helpful, I describe Anna's new movements to her using their Sanskrit names from yoga and explaining their yogic benefits. "Yay, Anna! You're practically throwing yourself from the changing table to the floor by doing setu bandha sarvangasana, the bridge posture. Aren't you strong!" It's going to take a lot of yoga superstrength and centring to catch this baby when she starts to move. When people ask if yoga helped prepare for childbirth, I can now tell them that's not the half of it.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Lasagna Revelation

Anna fights sleep, but she invariably loses. She is sleeping now. But I hope her fight was worth it. Today, in her attempts to stay awake, she managed to work in one more half-ounce of yummy yummy soy beans, one more giggle for her papa, one last attempt to roll over. (As of today, she has all the actions figured out that would allow her to turn over. She just can't put them together fast enough to get any momentum going.)

May she not seek to cram as much into every minute of the day as her mother, her grandmother, or -- god forbid -- any of her great-grandmothers. Oh, the long line of over-achieving women. Oh, the long life and long days ahead for daughters of these.

It's not the overwork that has been a big deal for me as much as my tendency to make things complicated -- or, in the worst cases, Complicated. This came home to me last year most clearly in what I came to refer to as the Lasagna Revelation. Simply enough, a friend invited us for dinner. Since I'm hard to feed due to celiac disease, I asked what was on the menu and what I might be able to contribute. "No problem," she said. "I'm making lasagna with brown rice noodles."

Lasagna, I thought to myself. Gee, that's a lot of work. I worried about my friend undertaking such a big project and having to add the complications of catering to my special needs -- checking ingredients, avoiding cross-contamination, the boring details of my kitchen life.

Lasagna, as it turned out, was not a big project at all. It is perfectly possible to make lasagna with some nice ground beef, some good quality bottled tomato sauce, layered with some brown rice noodles, and topped with some grated mozza. Pop it in a pan, heat to bubbly, and voila. Imagine my surprise at the lack of complication to this generous and kind meal.

This set off my Lasagna Revelation. I got home from the dinner and sat in the kitchen and cried. "Stephen," I said, "I didn't know lasagna could be so easy." He quietly (and mostly supportively) laughed as I burst into tears.

Why? Because I realized that lasagna, for me, really is a big project. Here's how I make lasagna.
First, I till the soil. Then I add compost and allow it to warm gently. Then I plant the tomatoes, the zucchini, the eggplants, the herbs. The garlic is already in the ground from last fall. We tend the vegetables, sporadically, interpreting "organic gardening" to include a harmonious relationship with weeds. At the end of the growing season, we harvest the tomatoes, the zucchini, the eggplants. I prepare some plain whole tomatoes and some tomato sauce for the freezer and freeze it in freezer bags. I make pesto and freeze it in ice cube trays.

At some point in the winter, I decide to make lasagna. I thaw the tomatoes or tomato sauce. Chop onions, garlic, zucchini, eggplant, red pepper, mushroom. Let them all simmer to a rich homemade sauce. I wash, stem, and chop a pound of spinach. This is a lot of spinach. I grate three kinds of cheese.

Then I make the lasagna. Sans ground beef, it is still basically tomato sauce, layered with some brown rice noodles and some spinach and cheese, and topped with some grated mozza. Pop it in a pan, heat to bubbly, and voila. But my lasagna required more than a year of careful tending in the lead-up. Delicious, of course. But, let's face it, Complicated.

It's more than gardening that went into that year of careful tending. It's always more than gardening. It's a whole lifetime's worth of complex, interrelated values (often expressed as Issues) that I can't escape, that I contend with every time I try to do something as simple as making supper or as challenging as making and rearing a baby. This does not mean I ever really live up to the ethical standards that I set for myself -- this is part of what makes it all so Complicated, with the rationalizations and the shifting priorities and the self-flagellation. But I do, truly, love the complexity of systems and value my part in that complexity, whether it makes things taste better or not.

A lot of the complications I create will probably, similarly be around food. With celiac rampant on both sides of Anna's family, she's likely to need to eschew wheat from the earliest age. I want for her to have passions and passionate values and expressions of them. I just hope they are not too complicated.

(My Libran friends who have made it to the end of this post are saying to themselves, "Sister, you don't know from Complicated until you try living on the scales." You are brave Librans, all. Help my baby!)

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

First Christmas

With just one final family gathering to go before the last of the aunts and uncles "from away" head for their various homes, I think we can say that we have survived Anna's first Christmas. Santa kept it simple, with some lovely little musical instruments, and aunts and uncles were wonderfully generous with practical, needed gifts to make the house baby-safe as Anna gets moving in the coming weeks.

Anna's gift to all was her happy presence. She was much in demand for social engagements, and her parents have obliged as often as possible.

Stephen and I are coming to terms with having given birth to a baby girl who is more outgoing than both of us put together. Anna Sophia loves to be around people, to watch what they're doing and hear their conversations. She also loves to be the centre of attention. More than once, she basically fell asleep -- her little body going very, very still and her breathing relaxing to its sleeping rate -- but conserved just enough energy to keep her eyes open to see what was going on. By noon on Christmas day, she was slumped in her father's arms, refusing to even blink in case she might not be able to get her eyes open again.

Since she was born and still today, at three months old, the two things people notice first about Anna are her bright, alert eyes that take everything in and her incredibly strong little body -- especially her legs. She has been able to support her own weight for weeks, but she "stands" with support for longer and longer times now, bouncing or sliding whenever she possibly can.

In her house painted with bright primary colours and hung with vivid paintings on every available surface, it's not surprising that she's observant. She hasn't figured out that she can see as much with her eyes casually open as she can with her eyes wide and her eyebrows raised, so she has a look of constant surprise. As much as she likes to be surprised by objects, patterns, and colours, she still loves people's faces the best. And if their faces are making funny noises, all the better.

Stephen and I are trying to figure out how we will parent a person who is showing signs that she could turn out to be laid-back, socially well-adjusted, and athletic. Based on our own experiences and personalities, we're better prepared for a misfit with an aversion to organized sports. I will know how to console a child hurt by emotional bullies who tell her she's "too smart for her own good" or that her unfashionable clothes make her look ridiculous. I will know what to do to buoy up a child's confidence when she gets picked last for softball. I don't quite know what I'll do if she wears mascara and is a rugby star. I'm not close-minded. I'm just allergic to mascara and suffer from Post Traumatic Gym Teacher Disorder.

I'd better get prepared to be as ready to learn from Anna as I am to indoctrinate her. I'm sure that next Christmas, when she's more aware of the goings-on and when she's fully ambulatory on those little legs, will be a great learning opportunity.