We have a water baby. Shortly before going to Florida, Caroline and I joined Sam, Ethan, Fiona, and Sam's mom at the pool at Sam's mom's apartment complex. Caroline was eager to get into the Wawie (her word for water) right away. At one point after we had been there for awhile she slipped and went under for a few seconds. She looked shocked when I pulled her to the surface, and asked to get out shortly thereafter. We thought this might have spooked her, but... minutes later, "Wawie! Wawie!" and back in we went.
While in Florida for the every five year Fontaine family reunion, Caroline enjoyed multiple dips in the pool daily, and, as the pictures below attest, her first experiences of the ocean. Kev said she wanted to go further and further out. She could not be near the ocean without wanting to go in it! I, personally, do not like ocean swimming- perhaps the result of never going to the ocean before the age of 20. I'm not a fan of the beach in general; I find sand to be one of the most annoying substances on earth. But... the pure joy Caroline found at the beach indicated to me that I have to get over it and we need to get her to the ocean on a semi-regular basis in her young life. I sort of wish we had made it to the beach while in Oregon last month, but it is probably best that her first experience of ocean water was bathwater temperature!
While in Florida we started thinking about joining the Y. We came home and on July 2nd we stopped by to inquire about what the fees would be and what benefits attach to membership. There is a Y within a 15 minute walk from our house. This Y has an indoor and an outdoor pool, a playground (Hooray! A decent playground within walking distance at last!) an incredible wellness center with workout equipment and free cable on most machines, LOTS of free classes, and free child care while parents are working out up to 2 hours at a time, up to 10 hours a week. Our limited, graduate student income turned out to be a major benefit as they waived our joining fee on the basis of our tax return and our monthly fee is almost half the usual! We joined on the spot. And Kev has taken Caroline swimming twice already and he and I have worked out together two days in a row while she has thoroughly enjoyed the child care! The caregiver last night gave her a "golden" review. She was the first kid there last night, but several others joined her, two of whom had, in the words of the caregiver, "terrible cases of separation anxiety," crying for 10 minutes a piece each. She was sure that Caroline would join them, misery loves company after all, but no... she was fine! She does scream pretty fiercely when we first leave her, but usually stops within a minute.
Pa and Eepa were great help in Florida, often tending to her at night so that Kev and I could visit with other family. One night I spent a long time trying to get her to sleep (the night after that late nap! shooey!) and she fought sleep with everything she had. She is impressive. She was SO tired, but had just enough extra steam from that nap that she had a lot of play in her. Eventually I called Kev to give him an update. We were supposed to be playing cards with cousin Suzy and family and I was holding them up, or rather... Caroline was. Pa and Eepa said they'd come up and tend to her. Of course, as soon as they came up she turned from happy, playful fighting sleep, to screaming bloody murder fighting sleep. It was agonizing to leave. I knew she'd be totally fine in their care, but I hated to subject them to this. I worried the whole time we were playing cards that she was still screaming. It turns out she screamed for a minute or two and then stopped. And shortly thereafter she was showing sleepy signs so they put her in the crib with her stuffed duck, and said good night. She cried for a very short bit and then went straight out. Praise Jesus! And thanks to Pa and Eepa for fabulous care!
We've tried putting her in her crib since coming home, and letting her cry, in a few different circumstances, but... if she knows that we're within earshot... she will cry, and cry, and cry, and cry... working herself up into a full blown rage. I've watched the clock... its not worth it to me to let her go. We'll keep trying on occasion, but... for now I'm happy to nurse and rock, or Kev is happy to rock and sing, she won't want to be rocked forever. Our pediatrician said early on that she regretted the rocking part of the bedtime ritual with her first daughter, and so refused to rock her second daughter at all. It is simply too time consuming. Well, maybe. But she's already so big its sometimes awkward to rock. And soon... this era will be over. And while I won't miss disrupted sleep and sometimes long bedtimes... I will miss the tender closeness.
We lost some ground on the sleeping front when she started cutting her canines and got her first (and only) ear infection a few months back, and then with the travel... but we seem to be getting into good rhythms again. Phew.
Everyone commented at the family reunion on how outgoing and social both she and her cousin (don't ask me to be precise about what sort of cousin, I get so befuddled and have to look it up every time- child of a first cousin!) Nola Grace were. When we went to visit GG (kev's grandma) she was so delighted. She said "I've been saying to everyone around here 'you have got to meet my babies!' I'm so glad you came." And lots of people we met in the halls (C needed to do some walking!) were very glad we came too.
She traveled well once again. The time in the Nashville airport was a bit harrowing as she wanted to push rather than ride in the umbrella stroller we purchased for the trip. Between her exhaustion at the time and the carpeting she could only make the stroller go in circles. This simply was not going to get us to our gate. We tried to gently assist, letting her do the bulk of the pushing, but aiding with steering and this would result in full on meltdowns. She wanted to do it herself! Fiona, her best friend who is six weeks older, now insistently says "SELF!" when she wants to do something herself. In time... in time...
A fun and impressive memory from the day I spent with Caroline and Fiona a few weeks ago. Caroline was having a rough teething day (or something) that day and was quite screamy all throughout it, in fits and starts. So she nursed a fair bit. Fiona would come over every time Caroline was nursing, and get really close. She'd smile and raise her eyebrows and say "I neus?" To which I would gently reply "Caroline is nursing, Fiona. You need to wait for your mommy and then you can nurse." I would gladly nurse her, and have Sam's blessing to do so if need be, but she wasn't in distress so it didn't seem necessary. By the end of the day Fiona was nuzzling into me and quite insistently trying to get me to nurse her, but again I gently explained, "Caroline is nursing with her mommy. Your mommy will be here soon and she will be happy to nurse you." She sort of shrugged. I didn't think she was understanding me, but figured it was worth a try.
Well, the next day Caroline spent the day with Sam, Ethan, and Fiona at their house. When I arrived to drop C off, Fiona pointed to me and said excitedly "MOMMY!" And Sam corrected her, "That's Caroline's mommy, Miss Sarah, but I'm your mommy." But she pointed again at me and said "MOMMY!" "Yes, she's a mommy, she's Caroline's mommy." Then one of us said "There are two mommies here, one, two." She said "two mommies!" She repeated this several times. I sat down a moment later to nurse Caroline before leaving and Fiona came in close and said "I neus? No, cahline neus. I neus mommy." And then she turned to Sam and started nursing. Holy cow! She was processing what I had been trying to teach her the day before from the minute I got there. And she got it! She is scary smart. She is also regularly and appropriately asking "Why?" at 19 months old?! Sam is beside herself. This is a typical phase that kids go through by the age of 3, but this is super early. Caroline picks up new words every time she hangs with Fiona! She's a good influence! I'm so glad they're friends!
Speaking of language development... she has so many words and signs now, I can't keep up. We should start writing them down daily. The most recent addition to the vocabulary (that surprised us) is "necK" said crystal clearly. And she often cranes her neck or points to it when saying it. Kev does go through the body parts with her during bath time, but he never says "neck," for some reason he always says "under the chin!" So initially we were puzzled about where this came from. Our best guess is that it came from her Eric Carle book "Head to Toe"- "I am a Giraffe and I bend my neck, can you do it?"
She is working on two word sentences from time to time. "I down," in particular, when she wants to get out of her eating chair. We're trying to encourage three word sentences "I down please." Up until today she'd only occasionally sign please (her version of it which looks more like the sign for "sorry!") when encouraged to do so, but today she signed and said it. And this morning she was on my lap waiting to nurse and was clear that we were moving in that direction and got very excited. She signed please with great fervor and then buried her head in my chest!
(For any who are uncomfortable with sharing about toddler nursing, I'm sorry, but C is an avid nurser, it is a big part of our life together... and thus there are stories to tell...)
She is learning her colors and frequently says and signs them. The other morning she kept asking for "More black" signing and saying both words. Neither of us have any clue to what she was referring? The chocolate cake I made the night before? The chocolate chips used in the making of that cake? Raisins? Perhaps we'll never know.
She knows the difference between signing and saying, if asked to sign something she often will. If asked to say something she'll do that. And she's correcting signs she used to do incorrectly. For example, for the longest time her sign for "bird" was backwards, but now it is facing the right direction. Friends, language development is thoroughly exciting... or maybe I'm just a geek...
One of my predictions at the family reunion was that in five years Caroline will still be astonishing... she is so, so astonishing... this will surely remain the case.