So... we've been on the road for over two weeks now. We hope to return home tomorrow, on the last day of Christmas, and return to routines and normalcy and sane eating, etc. We're strategizing about bedtime rituals for the return home and about other domestic matters (being more intentional about couple time in 2010, for example.. that's something that fell by the way side somewhat in 2009). We've been lax about the bedtime ritual on vacation. We were often visiting with people in the evenings and Caroline seemed hesitant to miss anything... This means, I think that we could alter the ritual, start fresh, if you will, when we get home. Perhaps not tomorrow, however, as we'll be on the road for eight plus hours, with at least one decent move about break in the midst of that. It seems likely tomorrow night will be a bit off. So... on the last day of Christmas we'll let be (wheat and sugar may be consumed by mommy for one more day as well... then back to discipline...), but on the first day of ordinary time... let the bedtime rituals resume.
I have to say that for all the weariness that resulted from Caroline's erratic sleep in her first year, the fact that her sleep patterns resulted in frequent car sleeping (Daddy driving until she fell asleep) or co-sleeping (at least for the second half of the night), actually well equipped Caroline for flexible traveling. The first two hours of our drive were absolutely dreadful. She screamed for the better part of two hours. We were supposed to meet friends in Louisville for dinner, but we called and cancelled because we had to stop sooner, let her move around, and see if she would cheer up. She did. And then she fell asleep shortly thereafter and slept for the the better part of the remaining five hours of driving. Of course she was then ready to play when we arrived in our college town and I spent some of the wee hours trying to stay awake as she flitted about. All the following drive days have been even better. She has slept for nearly every leg. She slept most of the way to Syracuse from Wooster, woke up in Erie for dinner with our friend there, but then fell right back to sleep. Of course, again, wide awake in the wee hours in Syracuse. We watched the nutcracker together on PBS, for a little while anyhow. She seemed fairly enchanted. Her bedtime has been all over the map, but so long as she could stay close to us she got a fair bit of sleep this break. And that was fine with us. Cousin Wendy shared that her Gracie, born three weeks after Caroline has been a brilliant sleeper for much of her first year, but that when they travel she doesn't sleep- at all. I'm hoping that that changed for the little get-away they took right after Gracie's first birthday! While I think brilliant 12 hour independent sleeping is perhaps a greater gift than flexible traveling. I give thanks for Caroline's flexibility as a traveler as this vacation draws to a close.
So... on these travels C has met LOTS of people... and re-met several others... It would be seriously difficult to list everybody she met... perhaps as I post pics in days to come I'll touch on several... but among the special meetings were encounters with other young ones:
- Logan and his big brothers and sisters- the children of my best friend from high school, Logan was born almost exactly four months before Caroline and they were last "together" belly to belly when I performed the wedding for Logan's mommy and daddy in their backyard shortly before moving south.
- Young ones at church on Christmas Eve- particularly that five week old mentioned earlier and a young girl with a fabulous stuffed Pooh!
- Heather and Eric- o.k., they're not so small, but C loved them!
- Her cousin Gracie, born three weeks after her on her baptism day, and Gracie's fabulous older brothers Ben and Josh. She had a blast playing with all three of these wonderful kids!
- Anna and Amelia and Abby- my mother's most recent Goddaughter and the daughter of a childhood friend and her cousin, born exactly three months after her, all of whom came to an open house my mom hosted so we could see lots of loved ones. Caroline was delighted with each of these little girls!
- Clare and Hannah- cousins in northern Virginia with whom Caroline was also delighted.
- Abby, Erin, Christopher, and Josh- cousins farther south in Virginia who were also a pure delight to Caroline.
- Cousin Elliott- just as marvelous as he was at Thanksgiving!
I think the most frequent observation made about Caroline by adults who would meet her was "She's SO inquisitive!" They would say this with seeming delight (yes, I'm overusing that word... it's late... I don't feel like searching a thesaurus!) And... I think this is true. She's into everything! Just after Kev got done telling somebody she isn't interested in outlets... she got interested in outlets. She is an explorer. Inquisitive is a good adjective for our girl.
And she is adventurous! She continues to be an adventurous eater. So much for the "introduce new foods one at a time and several days a part" thing... We've never been great about that, but having past the first year we seem to have just set aside all precautions. She's never had a food reaction... so we're rolling with that. I think I gave a fairly full list of her new foods in the prompt post below, but... now we have to add to that- bagels and graham crackers. She loved both! She continues to be open to spicey food and has taken well to meat. She occasionally resists poultry, but red meat and pork... um... nope. Loves both. And sugar... aie. She's addicted. She became a little beggar. Though at first she was cautious around adults other than Kev or me, as she'd discover people eating she'd make her way to them and beg... looking up sweetly, batting her eyelashes almost... too cute. You'd think we starve the child...
In general she's very focused on whatever it is that she wants. If she wants to pull all the tissues out of the box, it is as if that tissue box is the only thing in the room no matter how many lovely distractions are presented to her. If she wants the cookie on your plate... same deal... the remote control... you get the idea.
Caroline was blessed by the fact that many of the folks whom we visited had cats and dogs. On Christmas day she was more interested in the cats than in her presents. We watched up while visited Wendy and her family and the way the dogs would react to squirrels in that film was a good approximation of her reaction any time she'd catch a glimpse of cats or dogs. She'd be playing or interacting merrily and then out of the corner of her eye "CAT!" and she was off... and the cats were off even quicker. While at Aunt Sherry and Uncle Hugh's house, where there are two dogs who are used to kids, one big and one small, Caroline even got comfortable with dog kisses and being whapped with big dog tail. She'd giggle even! Both these things scared her initially, but delighted her eventually.
Being around dogs and kids helped her practice being more steady on her feet. While visiting Alisha and Tom and the kids the first time the dogs or kids would brush past her and she'd frequently wobble a bit, but then catch herself. It is AMAZING how much more steady she is now. She is really moving. She also is figuring out to adapt her movement to avoid falls. While at Sherry and Hugh's there are several significant lips between rooms. After falling when going from room to room several times, C started immediately getting down on all fours when approaching a transition between rooms, even when there was no unevenness! She continued this in the next house at which we arrived, for a bit at least!
Not only has she made motor skill strides (no pun intended), but her verbal skills seem to be leaping ahead. Early in our time in Syracuse my mom said to Caroline "Your Mamie's losing it." To which she immediately replied "Yuh!" Coincidence? Not sure! But, in general, her babble is more and more conversational in its rhythms and inflections. Though we rarely know what she is saying she seems to! And she is picking up words. Kev and Mamie swear she says "cat". I haven't heard it, but I believe them. She also seemed to pick up "ball" and was saying "hi" and "bye" more sharply and clearly.
One of the most fun new words acquired this break was "five", not said quite that clearly, but she lifts up her hand to give five and says it at the same time. She gave her soon-to-be-aunt Lauren five over and over again and said it every time. And once today she pulled off from nursing picked up her hand and said "five" as I brought mine to hers! Very cool.
While she high fived Aunt Lauren quite a bit, it was Aunt Lauren's beloved, my little bro, Uncle Daniel with whom Caroline was MOST smitten! And it was mutual. C has met Daniel before at 3 weeks and at almost nine months but both visits were brief. She was just fixated on him from the first time she saw him shortly after we arrived in Syracuse. He was very worried about her, freaking out any time she'd fall over or bump her head (we're fairly non-plussed by such things these days...), he was quite protective. It was sweet to see. But it was with Uncle Daniel that C first broke her "not going to anyone but mommy and daddy" streak. We went over to his house shortly after Christmas and met his mother-in-law and sisters-in-law to be and C kept making eyes at him. Then she found a barrel of honey wheat pretzel rods. He gave her one. She put it in her mouth like a cigar and then... of her own free will... plopped down on his lap, crossed her legs, leaned back and watched football with him for something like 20 minutes! She doesn't sit still on our laps for anywhere near that long! Not even when nursing is she still! But she chilled with Uncle Daniel. And it was a sight to see! He said to her "You just made my Christmas, baby!" We have great pics of this. They'll get up... eventually... I promise.
After this warm up to Uncle Dan she warmed up to other people, lots of people. She let people hold her, gave people hugs, played with people... it was fabulous! She didn't ALWAYS freak out when one of us would leave the room if she was engaged with others. She discovered at the open house the joy of pushing people over from behind. She turned Aunt Debbie B. into a play thing and then tried to turn Melissa, who was seated where Auntie Debbie had been seated earlier, into one as well. She tried pushing over Clare and Hannah, but they did not find this so amusing. She enjoys this game with mommy and daddy now too. So much giggling. She's inconsistent yet. She won't always let other people hold her or won't always give a hug, but... more often than not... she will let others closer now! Great timing for the transition. SO MANY people wanted to hold her this vacation!
The one gift we asked for for Caroline is a musical cube that she played with at her Godsister's house this past fall. Mamie and Grandpa got this for her and it was a huge hit. She started playing with it right away and she'd dance and dance and dance... it was so cute to see! Each side of the cube plays a different song and she'd do different things for different songs, from the get go! Hand motions for "Itsy-Bitsy spider", clapping for "If you're happy and you know it", a funny mouthing face for "five little monkeys", etc. She tended to clap and or dance anytime she'd hear music this vacation. This was so great to see. When the piano would start with every Christmas carol on Christmas Eve she'd start clapping. I played "Walk, Walk to Boston" with Logan while we were at his house and she saw me. She then started bouncing as she walked towards me and reached for me, trying to tell me she wanted a turn to play! So cute!
There is so much more to share, but it is late and we have a long drive tomorrow and the computer is almost dead... so just one last thing... we found out that Auntie MIeke was preaching just an hour from where we were staying Saturday-Sunday, so we had to go worship with her. This was the first time we've been with Auntie Mieke since she baptized Caroline just over a year ago. And Caroline was able to receive communion from her. This was so special. So powerful. Mieke was in awe of how big she is... she was SO tiny a year ago. What a difference a year makes!
Have to post ONE picture... y'all have been so patient! This was taken on New Year's Eve at Alisha and Tom's house. The kids picked out a cute outfit for Caroline and we were in the process of trying to get her out of the outfit we had brought her in when she escaped, one legging on, one legging off, her new hat on backwards... she was fascinated with the cat door, of course! Alisha kept declaring her "so stinkin' cute", uh yup!
Oh, by the way, prayers going up for dear friends Jenn and Sean who will be bringing a baby into the world tomorrow morning. They have a c-section scheduled for 9:30 a.m., I believe... Can't wait to meet baby Williams!!!