Monday, October 18, 2010

A mover and a shaker

Take a look at any picture taken recently and you will notice one constant. Scarlett is in continuous motion. If she isn't sleeping, she is moving. It is fun to watch and exhausting at the same time. Good thing there are two of us for the most part! We realize that babies move quite a bit, especially when trying to master walking, but we have been hard pressed to find someone with this much energy and staying power.

On Tuesday she went to her 4th swim class and by the end of the 30 minute class, Scarlett had even more energy than when she started. I will say that she started the class a little slower than usual. This was the first time she seemed a little overwhelmed that there were 30 other humans swimming around her (half adults). It reminded me of her first few Gymboree classes where she looked shy and uncomfortable. Well, half way through the class she was back to normal, splashing, kicking, and yelling with excitement. During the class, we went through the same basic routine that I outlined in previous blogs. She is adding more and more kicking into her motion and is able to tread water ever so slightly. Her favorite is still kicking towards an object with arms outstretched, and climbing out of the pool (with a little help of course, but not as much as you think). The biggest problem with her energy level after swimming is that it continues for HOURS afterwards. Yes HOURS. This past Tuesday she went to sleep just after 1130pm, and her class ended at 7. Of course we did call in a babysitter (our neighbor Abigail) for 3 hours (730-1030) so we could have dinner with Shonna's MN co-worker and friend. When we returned home, she was still bouncing off the walls. This has been a pattern on Tuesdays, so it definitely wasn't Abigail's fault!

Besides swimming and dinner Tuesday, it was a pretty uneventful week until the weekend. We went to the outlets Saturday and stocked up on clothes for Scarlett after a fun lunch at Cheesecake Factory with Jacy and Joel. I've come to realize that Cheesecake, while it has a ton of food options, and of many different types, 90% of the food is greasy, buttery, and Friday's-like. Good thing the other 10% is just enough to have a good meal... and of course they have great desserts ;) Sunday we had brunch at a local New Zealand joint before the big carving day. Cassatt's has great food for a little neighborhood cafe, and we really don't eat there enough. Scarlett had breakfast earlier at the house, but it didn't stop her from eating half a fruit plate. Her new favorite fruit? Move over strawberries, its now honeydew melon. Not even close. She was pushing away her old favorite for this sugary green heaven. At one point, she stuffed a big piece in her mouth, and before her first attempt to chew, she grabbed a similarly sized chunk and tried to shove it in her already packed mouth. I attempted to stop her, but she knew what I was trying to do, so she turned her head away from me and tried to stuff it in anyway. I was able to stop her and she dropped it on the floor. At least she isn't stubborn? Yikes I hope she changes a little before she gets older....

After brunch, we decided to go next door to get Scarlett her first pair of real kicks. Up to now, she has only worn shoes without tread, essentially moccasins that are dressed to look like real shoes. Does she walk better in the new thicker shoes? Well, uh, she'll get used to them.. After shoe shopping we went to Arrow Wine for some beer, stopped at the local Lebanese Taverna market to pick up some excellent avocado salad and hummus (and the cashier gave Scarlett a balloon, which is always a good thing), and Shonna went to La Union for the final pieces of the cupcake puzzle (did I mention we got carving utensils the night before, which apparently included cupcake batter?). Anyway, I finally made it back to the house with 15 bags of stuff. The carving day started out with guys watching football and girls using 6 sticks of butter and 2 packages of confectioners sugar to make 24 cupcakes. Well... a few beers, lots of pumpkins, and many goofy pictures later, it was time to light the pumpkins with a remote control (you read that right), roast pumpkin seeds, and sleep.

Carving pumpkins was lots of fun! We had picked out a Scarlett-sized pumpkin the week before so we decided to carve it up and see if it fit. She was having a lot of fun in the pumpkin at first, but then she seemed to realize that she was in fact inside of a large vegetable. She seemed particularly annoyed when she realized she couldn't move around in it very well. She tried to bend over to pick up her yogurt snack that fell inside when she realized there wasn't room to maneuver. We could keep her happy for a while longer by clapping and laughing but eventually she was ready to get out of that pumpkin. Luckily I've read that babies don't form real memories before the age of four...

I was also determined to get Scarlett involved in the fun. Since I couldn't very well give her a carving tool, I decided that she was going to finger paint a pumpkin. We bought a little white pumpkin, a big can of finger paints compete with rollers, and a smock. As it turns out, it's kind of tough to get an 11 month old to do much with paint other than sticking it in her mouth. She did help me move the blue paint around on the pumpkin and she did a good job painting my shirt and jeans, so we'll call it a successful first try. Maybe in a few more months.

Poor Liam was battling teeth so he wasn't in much of a pumpkin carving mood. Scarlett only has one coming in right now and we can tell that it bothers her. Liam seems to be getting a bunch of them all at once! Dave, Matt, and Amanda also came over to participate in the fall fun. I'm looking forward to costumes in a few weeks and carving pumpkins again next year when she has a better idea of whats going on! It's gonna be tough to find a pumpkin big enough for a 2 year old... and it's gonna be even harder to get her into it!

Scarlett has been incurring a lot of injuries lately. She has war wounds all over her head. Bumps, bruises, and scratches. It takes a pretty hard fall to make her cry, but there have even been a few of those in the last week, including a run in with a bookshelf and falling off of the couch. Sigh. Sometimes I wonder how she'll make it out of toddler hood. Other than her injuries, she is doing pretty well. As Paul said, she is a very busy bee. She also seems to get more and more social every day -- getting even more determined to get the attention of whoever might be near her (including demanding that cashiers and salespeople hold her). It's Scarlett's world and we're all just visiting.

On Friday Scarlett and I went to lunch with my friend and client, Pat, before we stopped at the bookstore and headed up to the University of Maryland for another study. We got stuck in horrible rush hour traffic through the city on the way back (16 miles in 90 minutes) and Scarlett screamed (or should I say screeched) for the last 25 minutes. She really hates the car seat these days if it is for more than a half hour. I think she is too tall to be rear facing, but they say to wait 2 years now. We need to do some investigating though, because making mommy and daddy a nervous wreck while driving cant be very safe either! She looks pretty uncomfortable since she basically has to do the splits while she's in her seat. I guess I cant blame her.

As for new tricks, Scarlett has learned how to blow kisses and she is mimicking us more. She puts her hand up to her ear when we answer the phone and she "helps" me put her food back into her bowl. We're sill having trouble transitioning her off of her bottle and onto a cup, but I'm expecting that will be a long battle.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fall is Here!

Scarlett is eleven months old now! She is seeming much more toddler-like these days too. As of the last post, I was coming off the tail end of my "staycation." Ah, those were the days! On the last day (last Monday) we bought a new (to us) car. We were originally going to get rid of my BMW because it's a pretty tight fit with the car seat and since it's so low to the ground I have trouble getting her in and out with my back, but just as we were about to sell it, we had more problems with our SUV again. We'd already dumped 3 grand into it over the last three months and it was going to be almost the much to get it fixed again, so we decided to re prioritize and trade it in. I'm just glad to be rid of it at this point! So we ended up getting a 2010 Acura MDX. They get great ratings and everyone I've talked to who owns one loves it. So far, so good. It's much roomier and I like the ride a lot better. Until we can sell the BMW (not until spring at the earliest), Paul is going to drive the BMW and I'm going to drive the MDX.

Scarlett had swim lessons again on Tuesday. I got out of work late so I met Paul and Scarlett at the pool. It was kind of cool to walk in and surprise her. She was doing so well!! I'll let Paul say more about her progress since he was in the water with her, but since I had been out of town the week prior, it was night and day from the last time I'd seen her in there. She was actually SWIMMING! The best part was that she seemed SO happy in the water. She was smiling, clapping, cheering, splashing and just having a grand ol' time. It was a funny contrast because the other babies seemed to be enjoying the water, but in a very leisurely way. Not our baby. She was moving nonstop. At the end of class they were teaching them to pull themselves out of the pool by putting a rubber ducky (her favorite!) on the ledge. She pulled up, onto the ledge, and crawled right past the rubber ducky and straight to me. It wasn't exactly what she was supposed to do, but it definitely melted my heart to know that she was anxious to see me after a long day as I was to see her. Paul said that maybe I shouldn't show up at the pool anymore! Tomorrow I'll try to get home before they leave so that we can get our hellos out of the way before class!

Wednesday and Thursday Paul was out of town, and in typical Scarlett fashion, she had a rough night (and therefore I had a rough night). Wednesday we had gone to Bethesda to meet my friend Scott for dinner. We got stuck in traffic and a poor GPS route choice on the way out, so it ended up being a later night than we planned. It was after 10 when we got back so it only took me about 5 minutes to put her down. Very unusual, so I was pretty hopeful for a good night! On the contrary -- she was up every hour from 1 am to 4 am, when she finally slept until 6:30. I think she tries to tell us that she prefers to have both parents at home!

I had to teach on Saturday but then Scarlett and Paul met me at Octoberfest at Rustico in Alexandria. It was fun and we met up with some friends there before splitting off for Scarlett and I to go to Jacy's welcome back party and Paul and my friend Matt to go to the Caps home opener. Scarlett and I were both in bed by the time Paul got back from the game. It had been a long day! On Sunday we went to the corn maze ( with Jacy, Joel, Liam, my cousin Dan, and his daughter Eve. We had a great time! Scarlett LOVED the slides, the pumpkins, the tractor (plus the bark, the hay, the grass... just about everything). She was smiling and laughing the whole time. When we first got there it was just us and my cousins but Eve and Scarlett were content playing in the piles of pumpkins for quite a while. Scarlett was loving the pumpkins. No, seriously... she kept giving them kisses. Lots of kisses. She patted them, kissed them, rolled them, and even got a bruise on her forehead from trying to play peek-a-boo with one of them. Who knew pumpkins could cause so much joy!

Scarlett not only got a bruise from a pumpkin, but she got a bloody gum (tooth maybe?) from a butterfly! I'm not even 100% sure how it happened, but she was trying to do pull ups on the wooden cut out when Paul noticed that she was bleeding! Kind of scary since she has never bled before, but she was fine after a minute (and she never even cried).

After about 3 hours on the farm, the babies were getting tired so we picked out some pumpkins to carve next weekend and hit the road. Scarlett got 3 pumpkins -- one as big as she is (we have plans!), a normal carving pumpkin, and a white pumpkin that she can paint herself. I think we're going to be making a lot of pumpkin bread!

Today was Columbus Day -- one of the few holidays I do not get off of work. Unfortunately we didn't remember until yesterday that our daycare provider doesn't work on Columbus day, so Scarlett came to work with me this morning. She was really good though! I set up a bunch of toys for her and her travel crib and she played quietly most of the time she was there (9 - 2). She visited with many of my coworkers who all commented on what a happy baby she is. She refused to nap with all of the excitement of a new place, but she never fussed or cried while she was there, so it could have been worse! Paul picked her up at 2 PM after he left the office so that I could have a few more productive hours. Tonight we tried to go to Roosevelt Island for walk, but it got really dark, really fast! We made it around the island, but it got pretty creepy, so we won't be doing that again unless it's a weekend when we can go during the day! All-in-all, we've had a fun few days! We're looking forward to pumpkin carving next weekend and getting ready for halloween and Scarlett's first birthday!

Funny how every time one of us is out of town, Scarlett decides to be difficult at night. Its definitely a trend and not a coincidence. I would say that when we are both home and we sleep feed her, chances of her going to sleep before 10 and waking up after 7 is in the 90% range (and most of the 10% is remedied by a simple 4am quick feed). When Shonna is away, its about 50% (I think its 2 out of 4 nights), and when I'm away it seems like 25% (I've been gone at least 8). She has this sense about her. In addition, when I have an early meeting or have an early flight, there is a good chance she is going to be trouble... Think she is trying to tell us something?

But on to the good stuff. Tuesday's swim class was a blast. The second we walked into the pool area, Scarlett started giggling and screeching. While I was holding her, she would twist her body towards the pool and push her arms forward like she was going to grab the water. Grinning from ear to ear and laughing, Scarlett caught the attention of a few mothers. They would smile at her, smile at me, and basically were in awe of how excited she was. I told them this is how she acts before getting in the bath, but this is a HUGE bathtub so the response is even bigger. As Shonna mentioned, her energy didn't end outside of the pool. When we started class, she was ready to swim. The instructor started class in the usual way beginning with the basics. This is the same routine from week 1 including stabilization techniques and preparing the baby to get adjusted to the movements. Well, Scarlett doesn't have time for the simple stuff. She wants to go faster, glide, lick the water, and get her face wet. These are things we ended up doing later in the 30 minute class anyway, but I went with it during warmups. The instructor started walking over and I was ready for the "you can't do that" speech, but he actually said "wow she is doing great!". He singled us out a few other times as well. One was because I wasn't holding her properly when gliding her on her back, but still... :) The other games she excelled in included: placing a duck just outside the pool so that she would reach with her arms and kick to arrive at her destination; and placing a duck 2 feet outside the pool so she would again reach, kick, and then climb out of the pool. One of the fathers who's kid was next to us gave us the nod and thumbs up a few times. The coolest non-swimming trick she did was, after grabbing the duck from the ledge, I said "touchdown" and she preceded to raise her hands in the air, then she threw her hands down and spiked the duck. I was one proud papa :)

Scarlett was a little social butterfly this week. Shonna mentioned her dinner Wednesday, Octoberfest, Jacy's, and the corn maze. As you can see by the pictures, she hated every minute of it. We also went to dinner last night on our way back from the maze (by the way, the "maze" was a mini maze this year due to the late season drought, so unless you were under 4ft in height, it wouldn't have been challenge. Not a maze like the Shinning if you know what I mean.) We couldn't decide what to eat, but for some inexplicable reason, we both craved fried chicken. Real fried chicken, but what non-diner has fried chicken? Probably Cracker Barrel, but we were in Arlington. On a whim, we decided to stop in Clarendon and parked near Liberty Tavern. Our strategy was to walk down the sidewalks, look at the menus, then decide. The 2nd menu we looked at was Spider Kelley's, and wouldn't you know it... FRIED CHICKEN!!! 4 pieces and a side for $10. That's barely more than popeyes or KFC! But that's not all we discovered. We also found out that they have GREAT crab cakes! Almost all meat, barely any filler Scarlett had crab, mac and cheese, and potato. Fantastic food for a bar/restaurant. As you can see by the website, its a little crazy on weekends and happy hour, but we were there on a slow Sunday night.

Just for the record, Scarlett's diet this week consisted of chicken, crab, cheese, lima beans, green beans, broccoli, pumpkin, carrot, peas... she is turning into a foodie before our eyes! And of course we paired her courses with the finest formula (now mixed with whole milk), water, and liquid yogurt money can buy!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Walk and Roll

One of the biggest events of this week was that Liam, Jacy, and Joel officially became DC-area natives again! They left on Thursday night and got in on Friday late morning. Scarlett and I went to see them on Friday afternoon after her study at Maryland's Speech and Language lab. Very cool to have them local again and fun to see the kids together.

Scarlett will be 11 months old on Friday! She seems to be changing so fast these days. She is very sweet/affectionate -- she loves giving kisses, especially to other kids/babies. She gives kisses and immediately makes an "awwww!" sound. It's pretty cute. She has also gotten a lot better about sharing. She often offers to share her chewed on food with Paul and I, and even shared her beloved cell phone (my cell phone) with Liam on Friday! Scarlett seems to think Liam is really funny. She laughs when he laughs, she laughs when he cries... just generally, she seems to laugh when she sees him. It's pretty funny. The contrast between them is kind of cool because Liam is bigger, stronger, walking, and typically pretty mellow, while Scarlett is constantly moving (although mostly on all fours), and is often at an extreme (laughing or crying).

As for Scarlett's study, the cool thing was that completing the questionnaire about her vocabulary made me realize both how much she knows and how much she knows but doesn't say. It's hard to complete a questionnaire about your baby's progress without wondering if she isn't where she should be, but during the study they seemed pretty impressed by how much she understood and was responding to. For example, there was a little toy cup, and I'd ask her what you do with the cup. She would put it to her mouth and pretend to drink! Then, she was across the room (about to take out the video camera) so to distract her I asked her to come give me the cup. She stopped what she was doing, crawled to me and handed me the cup! She does that stuff normally, but when they started interviewing me afterwards it became clear that not all 10 month olds respond to that extent. She has also been getting better about stopping when I say "no" or "don't..." and she is trying to say more words (duck, balloon, doggies, cat, Bacchus, mommy, daddy, hi, bye, yeah, touchdown, apple, etc.). It's cool to see her making connections. She understands a lot of verbs too (give, drink, push, pull, stand, walk) which makes it easier to communicate with her now.

Today Jacy and Joel came over and we went to the playground. The kids seemed to have a good time and it was tough getting her out of there. She was very excited when she realized where we were (she started shouting) and was really into the tube and the slide this time. She kept wanting to go again and again. She also spends a lot of time dancing (she loves old school hip hop!) and walking with her walker these days. We'll try to post a video.

On Saturday we had the Light the Night walk for Leukemia that we were doing in honor of Dan and Dave. She hadn't had her afternoon nap so she was a little cranky, especially in the beginning, but by the end of the night she was unstoppable (mind you that her night ended at 11:30 PM!). She even got digits from a waitress! She thought she was precious and offered to babysit! YAY!!! Always appreciate more babysitting options!
Maybe we can set her up with our single guy friends... ;)

Scarlett has made major strides as a swimmer. Tuesday was only her 2nd class and already she is comfortable putting most of her face/head in the water- and she does it with a smile for the most part. She hasn't quite mastered the art of holding her breath (swallowed a little bit of water), but she is starting to get a feel of treading and kicking. I know I am the bias parent, but I see her as #1 in her class so far (out of 15-20). I haven't seen anyone else be as comfortable as Scarlett is in the water. Some cry, some squirm quite a bit, but Scarlett is pretty much doing everything that is asked of her. The only small issue she has is when I put her on her back. She would much rather be facing the water, but she goes with it as long as I make a game out of gliding on her back. I can't wait to see her progress after the sessions are over. Every new ability is exciting to her, and as long as we let her know she is accomplishing something, I am confident she will continue to excel.

Speaking of accomplishments, over the past 2 weeks she has taken on quite a few. She understands many commands, and we are able to stop her from doing many things she shouldn't. Not always however. When it involves something like dropping her bottle or throwing food on the floor for the dogs, its more of a challenge. Stubborn? Heck yea, and she also like to see others get excited when she performs an action. Is there anyone or any thing more excited than a dog when food is thrown on the floor? Probably not! The positive feedback is not helpful...

Other accomplishments for the past couple of weeks include the ability to wave (kind of backwards, but its still cute), a hand shake on command, high five, and "touchdown" where she raises both arms when we say the word. She has also learned to say words like balloon, duck, and bottle more clearly, and has increased her understanding of many phrases and commends we throw at her as Shonna mentioned earlier.

Scarlett does so many amazing things, that we have to laugh at ourselves when we worry about minor things like she doesn't know enough words, isn't walking yet, etc. because its just silly considering all the progress she has made as a 10+ month old baby. Are we expecting too much? :) I mean strangers are constantly coming up to us and marveling at her eye contact, interaction, and comment on how happy a baby she is. She has received multiple baby sitting requests based on her demeanor. What is our problem?!?! :)

Sorry Scarlett. Mommy and Daddy are crazy. You will understand that better in a few years... just kidding.

BTW- Scarlett is now 1-0 with her new Ravens shirt. We won't wash it until they lose... :)