Happy Halloween again!

Filed under: photos — by Lauren on October 31st, 2007 @ 8:49 pm

We heard a lot of quacking today:

Anya isn’t quite ready to go trick-or-treating, but we did take a walk with her friend CJ:

Check out those pumpkin socks:

Don’t forget about Daddy’s cool Jack’O'Lantern:

Happy Halloween!

Filed under: funny,photos — by Lex on @ 8:39 am

Happy 1st Birthday to Anya!

Filed under: baby's progress,photos — by Lauren on October 19th, 2007 @ 11:38 pm

Good morning, Birthday Girl!

Anya turned one today! We had a pretty normal day – Lex and I worked, and she went to day care. Tonight we celebrated by going out to dinner with some of my family, including my sister Samantha, who came in from Penn State to celebrate both Anya’s birthday and her own 21st birthday, which is on Monday (Happy birthday, Sam!). Tomorrow we have the parties!

I find it mind-boggling that in just one year Anya transformed from this tiny, helpless, blotchy mush into a beautiful, intelligent, bubbly little person. Here are all of Anya’s bear pictures from her first year (Thanks for the idea, Saina!). It’s pretty amazing to see how she’s grown.

First day home from the hospital:

3 1/2 months (we forgot to take bear pictures up until this point):

5 months:

6 months:

7 months:

8 months:

9 months:

10 months:

11 months:

And finally…1 YEAR OLD!!!!

Our big girl!

To my daughter Anya on the occasion of the first anniversary of her birth: A father’s scattered, rambling thoughts

Filed under: baby's progress,thoughts — by Lex on October 18th, 2007 @ 8:19 pm

Subtitle: I love you, and now I will say so less eloquently, with too many words.

Anya, your mom and I knew that we wanted to have children. And we even knew when we wanted to start. And honestly, we even knew that if we had a girl, we wanted to use the name Anya.

What we didn’t know was that, above all else, what we wanted was you.

You have been the perfect baby for your mom and me. If you’re reading this sometime in the future — you know, when you’re old enough to read, find this blog, and care enough about its contents to go through it — reread the previous sentence. You are perfect to and for us.

When you read through our archives, you’ll find that we had some tough times with you, as the three of us (plus Charlie!) learned to live as a family. But through it all, even when you were challenging (not wanting to eat, or not wanting to sleep, or not wanting to go to the freaking bathroom already, Q-Tips be damned) — you were perfect. We feel lucky every day to have you in our lives.

Before you were born, I wrote a song in your honor. I normally hate writing out the lyrics to my songs — I feel that the reader will miss on the poignancy and tone that my sung delivery provides, because I am a massive dork — but here’s what I wrote:

Anya’s Song

I don’t want to write a sappy song that will make you roll your eyes
I just want to write a happy tune that we’ll both know for all our lives
Don’t know that I have it in me
To write the perfect song
But if it’s about you, sweetheart,
Then how can I go wrong?

‘Cause you’re my baby
And I’m your dad
You’re the very first daughter
I have ever had
I love you so much
More than I can sing
My whole life, I’ll try to thank you
For all the joy you bring

I sat down to write this simple song before we ever met
I said, “How can I love you so much now, when I don’t know you yet?”
I hope your life is filled with love,
And laughter, cheer, and calm
And I know you are as beautiful
As your lovely mom

As I try to write this little song, it’s pretty hard to do
I have to make sure that it conveys the love I feel for you
And Ani, if you ever feel you have the need to cry
Just please come find me, so I can sing this lullaby

‘Cause you’re my baby
And I’m your dad
You’re the very first daughter
I have ever had
I love you so much
More than I can sing
My whole life, I’ll try to thank you
For all the joy you bring

I can see your smile
I can see your wedding day
I’ll always be your daddy
You’ll always be my baby
I’ll always be your daddy
What more can I say?

‘Cause you’re my baby
And I’m your dad
You’re the very first daughter
I have ever had
I love you so much
More than I can sing
My whole life, I’ll try to thank you
For all the joy you bring

My whole life, I’ll try to thank you
For all the joy you bring

You may not always agree, but your dad can be pretty smart some times, Ani Boo Bani. And somehow, even before you were born, I did have a pretty keen sense of just how much I would love you.

What’s amazing to me though, and what I suspect parents never really get over, is how my capacity for loving you seems to know no bounds. On occasion, at the end of a day, I’ll think to myself: This must be it — this is the most one person can love another. My love for Anya is the maximum I can feel. And that’s a nice feeling, really.

But it’s always wrong.

Each day, I love you more. Right now, part of that comes from watching you learn and achieve new things; as you discover new talents or words or faces to show off, you become eminently more lovable. But that’s not the only reason I can love you more each day. Every day you’re here is one more day I’ve shared with you — our history together grows. Truth is, I’ve only known you for a year. Just think how much I’ll love you after two! Or ten! Or… I can count higher, but it makes me feel woozy to think about right now.

The time has flown. Your first year has been a flash. But when I try to think back to Day 1 in the hospital, or when you first met Charlie, or your first day at home… That feels like a very long time ago. I swore it would never happen, but it’s honestly hard for me to remember life with your mom before you were born. (For one thing, what the heck did we do to fill up all our time before you were born?!) I try to remember during the day how overall the time seems to fly, so that I can stop and appreciate now with you. It’s always worth it.

One last thought. One of my favorite things to do with you — and there are many — is to put you to bed at night. Originally, that was a tough transition for you. (“Sleep? Me? But there’s still some perfectly good SCREAMING I could do!!!!!”) So at first, I took pride in simply helping you along from awake to asleep. Serving as your daddy, guiding you on a confusing and anxiety-inducing segue that was for your own good, in spite of how hard it was… And watching as your eyelids drooped, your body relaxed, and you curled into one of your ridiculous cribtime contortions… I loved that.

Now, bedtime is more bittersweet for me. For one thing, you’ve become great at it. With your bedtime story, song, Elmo, and pacifier, you almost look forward to going to bed. On occasion, you reach for the crib: “Hurry up, Daddy! Skip the song and send me to sleep!” It’s overwhelming to me, the joy I feel at the progress you’ve made and how good you are at going to sleep. (Being “good” at sleep was a foreign concept to me a year ago.) But the fact that now I’m largely irrelevant to the process, because you’ve got this sleep thing pretty much nailed down, just reinforces the same thing your birthday does:

You’re growing up.

Of course, you’re only one. But that’s one year older than you were when I first met you. Recounting how you’ve changed as you grew makes me marvel… And I can’t help thinking about all the other birthdays you’ll have.

It’s one of parenting’s eternal conflicts, I guess. Your parents want you to grow up and succeed. But they want you to stay little, too.

I love you, Anya. Happy birthday. And thank you for being you — our perfect baby. My whole life, I’ll try to thank you for all the joy you bring.

Almost 1 year update

Filed under: baby's progress,photos,video — by Lauren on October 15th, 2007 @ 11:48 pm

Anya’s going to be one in just 4 days! We’ve been trying our best to keep the blog up-to-date with what she’s doing, but it’s hard to keep up with her. We’ve still got a lot to do to get ready for her birthday, and the rest of the week is going to be jam-packed, so in case I don’t have time to post a good update on her birthday, here’s a random list of some the various things going on with her right now:

  • Nursing her before bedtime has been as struggle because she wants to jump off my lap and play with her toys instead of settling down. This evening she nursed on the first side, popped off, looked up at me with a sweet smile, and signed and said “play” – it was the the first time she did it unprompted. It was very cute and impossible to resist.
  • One advantage of Anya being as verbal is getting to have a glimpse into what’s going on in her head. There are times when I don’t really get it, though, like last night, when in the middle of nursing she stopped, grabbed her foot, exclaimed “Toes!” and then promptly resumed nursing. What was that about?
  • Anya says “I love you” and it melts my heart. It comes out as “I luh loo.” Most of the time she’s just echoing it back to us, but if you ask her what does a mommy or a daddy say, she answers “I luh loo!” We sort of caught in on video, but not clearly. She’s also been very sweet about giving hugs (especially to her daddy) and being gentle with Charlie.
  • The number of body parts Anya can identify continues to grow. In addition to the seven I posted about already, she knows ears, hair, fingers, and mouth.
  • Anya is Elmo obsessed! She has one doll that is supposed to stay in her crib, but every morning when Lex gets her from the crib, she grabs it as he’s picking her up to take it with her. She loves to push her other doll around on her train, “feed” it with her spoon, talk to it on the phone, give it her paci, and hug and kiss it. All day long we hear “Elmo! Elmo!”  She’s no longer afraid of the Tickle Me Elmo.
  • If Anya is cranky, a surefire way to cheer her up is to take her outside. She will start chanting “Outside outside outside” once she sees the door open. She points at everything she sees. She loves trees and cars, and can say both.
  • When we say, “One, two…” and then wait expectantly, Anya says “Three!” Anya also can tell you how old she’s going to be by raising one finger in the air. She won’t do it on video, but we got a picture:

  • Anya can tell you a car says “beep beep” and a ghost says “boo.” Adding to her list of animals, she now definitely knows a dog says “woof” and a duck says “quack quack.” If you ask her what we say when the phone rings, she holds her hand up to her ear and says “Hello!” She does that pretty much any time she sees a phone or hears one ring.
  • It looks like I will be right after all – Anya is not walking yet and I highly doubt she will be by Friday. She’s been resisting standing on her own over the past few days – she sits down right away. We’re still in no hurry, since she’s already very fast and tiring to chase, especially since she recently figured out how much fun it is to climb up the stairs.
  • Putting Anya to sleep has been a real pleasure lately. You can put her down wide awake and as long as Elmo and her pacis are there, she rolls over and goes to sleep without a fuss the majority of the time. Tonight when Lex was putting her to sleep, she actually reached out for her crib to indicate she was ready to go. She’s been sleeping a little later in the morning the last few days, and has even been playing in her crib for a bit instead of immediately crying for someone to get her.
  • Some other new words: hat (and she’ll pat her head to show where it goes), paci (she calls it a baba and gets SO mad if I won’t give it to her, especially if she says please), grandpa (she says papa) and banana (maamaa or naanaa, both when she sees a real one or a picture). There are others, but I can’t keep track.
  • We’re working on getting Anya to drink whole milk, but she’s not particularly interested. She’ll drink a little if I use a straw as a dropper or if I feed her Cheerios and milk with a spoon, but when I give it to her in the cup, she says “No no no,” tosses it onto the floor, and says “Uh oh!” She also likes to drop her food over the side of her high chair and say the same. Good times.

Here’s some of what we’ve been able to get on video:

A new place for photos

Filed under: photos — by Lex on October 14th, 2007 @ 10:38 pm

With Daddy’s new camera, we have a new home for our family photos. Check it out!

The second of our two October 2007 photo albums is divided into at least one sub-album as well… Enjoy!

Bookworm

Filed under: baby's progress,video — by Lauren on October 13th, 2007 @ 11:44 pm

Anya LOVES books.  She asks for books several times a day, either by signing or pointing and saying “boo” (she needs a little work on those ending consonants).  Although pulling all of them off of the shelf in her playroom (several times a day) is a favorite activity, she also adores being read to or even just sitting with a book on her own, looking at the pictures.  Any book with Elmo is a big hit with her, but she also has a bunch of picture books that she is having a lot of fun with these days.  Check out Anya “reading” to her mom:

Let’s pretend

Filed under: baby's progress,photos,video — by Lauren on October 3rd, 2007 @ 11:34 pm

I’ve been having so much fun playing with Anya these days. She’s doing some really neat stuff. Like many babies her age, imitation is a big thing for her, and I get a kick out of seeing her pick up her comb and bring it to her hair a few times before trying to eat it. She also loves to brush her teeth all by herself and then rinse her toothbrush in the sink. Neither the combing nor the toothbrushing is particularly effective, but she enjoys doing things she sees us do.

Her capacity to imitate words is a lot of fun, too. I never know what she’s going to repeat. Sometimes I call our dog Charlie “Bubba,” and last week after saying something to him I heard a little “Bubba” echo from the playroom. Now she says it all the time. It’s even more exciting when she’s able to understand what the words mean. We’re always telling her “gentle” – gentle to Charlie, gentle to Mommy, gentle to her friends…she started repeating it awhile ago, and now she’ll do things like lightly stroke her Elmo doll or my leg and say “Gentle!” (She also chases Charlie around the family room screaming “Gentle” while trying to grab him, so clearly we still need to work on that one!). She’s done the same thing with “tickle” – she’ll say it while sort of tickling herself on her tummy or feet, like I do to her.

(This is a little off-topic for this post, but while we’re on the subject of words, Anya’s started to use a couple of two-word phrases. She says “More, please” and “Hi/Bye-bye Daddy” on a pretty regular basis. I think I heard her say “Bye-bye Elmo” today, too. Occasionally she’ll combine two signs or a sign with a word as well.)

Although I realize I’m blinded by mommy love, I’m still amazed when I watch Anya pretend play. I think I mentioned in an earlier post that she loves to pretend to talk on the phone. She’ll say “Hello! Bye-bye!” over and over again, and she doesn’t even need a real phone. Sometimes she’ll pick up a remote or even a toy shaped like a phone (such as this barbell shaped rattle she has) and do the same thing. Okay, I know it’s likely that she doesn’t quite get what a phone is yet, BUT several times when she’s seen a real phone but doesn’t have anything to pick up, she’ll put just her hand to her ear and say “Hello!” That’s pretty awesome. “Making soup” is still another much loved pretend game for her. I got her on video last week:

I love that she initiates play. Tonight at dinner, Anya suddenly covered her eyes, babbled something that sounded like question, then spread her arms apart and shouted “Boo!” with a huge smile. Five more minutes of Peekaboo promptly ensued. She also indicates that she wants to play “Open, Shut Them” by opening and closing her hands and saying something that sort of sounds like “open.” Sometimes she’ll crawl over to me and grab my toes, then she’ll look up and wait for me to laugh (I have very ticklish feet). I think her absolute favorite pastime is looking at the pictures hanging on our wall.  Whenever we’re within sight of them she points to the wall and exclaims “Baby!” which means she wants to go over and look at them. She refers to all pictures as “baby” until she gets close enough to see who is actually in them; then she’s better at correctly identifying them. I guess that says something about the number of pictures we have of her displayed…we’re careful now to say, “Yes, that’s a picture of a baby.”

One step at a time

Filed under: baby's progress,photos — by Lauren on October 2nd, 2007 @ 8:50 pm

Anya’s signing and talking skills seem to have regressed a little over the past few days, but apparently that’s because she’s been working on doing this:

Standing baby!

She still needs help getting herself situated and balanced initially, but she can hold herself up for about 30 seconds now. It really feels like this happened all of a sudden. Last week she couldn’t stand on her own at all. We’re not worried about the talking and signing. When she was learning to pull herself up she took a little break from her verbal skills, but after she had it figured out she got right back into the swing of things.

But wait! There’s more…

SHE TOOK HER FIRST STEP TODAY!

The two of us were playing together in the family room, and I had just gotten her into a standing position. Imagine how shocked I was when she picked up her left foot and took a step towards me! Of course, she fell down immediately after, but it was still very exciting. I called up to Lex to let him know, and it turns out she had done it that morning with him, too, but he wasn’t 100% sure so he hadn’t said anything to me. There are 17 days left until her birthday, and I’m still holding onto my claim that she won’t be walking by then, but I have to admit I’m saying that a little hesitantly now!

Crib notes #3

Filed under: baby's progress — by Lauren on @ 12:08 am

Anya has never loved being in her crib, so I’ve been trying to give her daily opportunities to play in there with me in the room.  My hope is that eventually she’ll choose to play for awhile instead of screaming for us when she wakes up at 5 am.  Anyway, today I put her into the crib for a second while I got her clothes out of her dresser, and for the first time she refused to come out!  She was having fun goofing around with her crib toys and the 15 pacifiers we keep in there, and every time I asked her if she wanted to come out she crawled to the other side as quick as she could, giggling the whole time.  I was even able to leave the room for a few minutes to clean up after her bath, and she didn’t seem to mind.

Later this morning, she took a TWO HOUR nap, starting at 10:30 or so.  She fell asleep nursing, I transferred her to her crib at around 10:50, and she slept until 12:20.  Amazing!  Over the last week or two, she’s been moving steadily towards taking a longer morning nap beginning at a later time, but this was incredible.  The only problem is that I need to take her to day care three times a week at 11:10.  I don’t quite know how I’m going to make that work.

One of the disadvantages of the later, longer morning nap is that Anya is not particularly inclined to take an afternoon nap.  She may be gearing up to take only one nap daily, but the problem right now is that if she wakes up from the nap at 12:30, she cannot last until her 8 pm bedtime without being a total cranky pants (by the way, I do realize that a possible solution could be make her bedtime earlier, but then she’d wake up for the day even earlier, and we definitely don’t want that).  Around 4:30 pm today I decided I had to try to get her to nap, but she was too wide awake and playful to comply.  Instead, I put her into the crib with a few toys and stayed in the room while she played quietly.  Well, at least she started out quietly.  During her little crib party this morning, she discovered that it was fun to drop her pacifiers out of the crib through the slats.  This evening, anything loose in the crib was fair game – pacifiers, books, toys…you name it.  Every time she dropped something, she immediately peered over the side to see where it went, then gleefully exclaimed “Uh oh!”  Then, while standing and looking over at the ever-growing pile on the floor, Anya figured out that it is A LOT of fun to jump up and down in the crib.  Needless to say, napping was not high on her to-do list.  I gave up and brought her back downstairs, but by 5:45 crankiness had set in big time, and she finally went down for a short pre-dinner nap.