What do you most want to remember about Emilia right now?
She’s so affectionate, loving, sweet and inclusive. She is so fortunate to have so many people in her life that she has spent time with, remembers, loves and cares about and it makes my heart just about burst into pieces with pride each time I see her run and throw her arms around her Nana or her MiMi and PaPa. She adores all her grandparents and actually climbed up onto her great grandmother Lois’ lap to be held when we visited recently. When we say our goodbyes to family and friends, if we’re doing a group hug and she senses that MiMi or maybe PaPa isn’t in, she’ll lean out and extend her arm to add that person in. I just about die at this little girl’s capacity for love.
Which new words has she learned lately?
I can barely track them at this point; it seems she is adding new words everyday and I find myself marveling that she’s suddenly saying ‘table’ or ‘try’ without my having specifically taught her that word. Since Halloween we’ve been “dawing” (drawing) with crayons more so I’ve been working on colors with her; she likes to name them as she pulls them from the box or hands them to me to join her. She can correctly identify purple “pouurr-poull” and guesses a lot at blue, red, pink and green. “One,” “two,” “three,” “Ho Ho” (Santa), and “pease” (please) are some of the other fun recent ones. She relies on her sign language less and less, but some of the ones still in rotation are “more” “bird” “hear” and “all done.” I see less of “broken,” “help” and “milk” lately since she can say all of those how. One of her more interesting sign language developments is that she actually developed her own sign to convey “give it to me” or “so and so has this or that” for example, if she wants an ornament of the Christmas tree, she’ll point to it on the tree, then point to the palm of her hand, like: “put it in my hand.” The other context she uses it in is if we’re talking about my Mom’s cat, May. Emilia always uses her index finger to point to the palm of her other hand and says “Nana.. May” as she signs. So amazing how she has developed this one all on her own.
Is there any toy or book Emilia is particularly attached to this month?
Her favorite lovey is a bunny that her Nana Lois gave her when she was born which is an absolute must-have for sleeping and nursing, but she’s very into her baby dolls or “babies” as she calls them that they often accompany her into our bed when she comes in to nurse with me in the mornings. Her “Dee”= Daniel Tiger, Baby Margaret and “Melmo” are other favorites. Drawing with crayons and especially pens and whiteboard markers are other favorites but I think my favorite of her favorites has to be her Frosty the Snowman book. The second we read it to her, she pats her head to remind us that she’d like to wear her hat and mittens while the story is read, because, as you know, the whole story is about that magical hat.
Is Emilia more like you or Brian?
From what my mom has shared, she’s the spitting image of me in both looks and development which I can see only in that I know how closely my siblings Kevin, Skylar and I look alike and I remember seeing them as babies and toddlers and see them in my daughter on a daily basis. Her pouty face is 100% Brian though. There’s one expression in particular that I’ve seen Brian making in an old photo when he clearly hadn’t gotten his way and was under a table, lip jutting out, brow furrowed together, still oozing charm and mischief despite having a sour puss on his face, and I’ve seen Emilia do it too. I think she also shares the same sense of curiosity that both Brian and I had as kids which explains why she’s so bright; she’s interested in everything. I really do think the older she’s gotten, the more she’s become a perfect blend of both Brian and I. As far as her mannerisms, temperament and behavior, I see her make a lot of my expressions, but is a bit more fiery and sassy as far as her temper than either Brian or I. Brian and I joke that we love how strong-willed she is now, but we’re nervous for her teen years.
What fun things has she done with her grandparents lately?
Earlier this month while we were down in southern CT for our nephew’s first birthday we took advantage of having doting grandparents and an adoring godfather and aunt around and took a day trip into NYC to celebrate our engagement anniversary and do our favorite “Christmassy” things in one of our favorite cities. While we enjoyed a delicious lunch (and later, dinner) and walked around Bryant Park and saw the tree at Rockefeller Center, Emilia had a blast running around a cut-your-own Christmas tree farm with her MiMi and Papa and aunt and uncle. Earlier this week, my mom and I had a fun lunch at our favorite Thai restaurant with the little miss who exclaimed “num, num, num” and rubbed her belly enthusiastically as she climbed into my lap to better get at the food being placed in front of me. And last night, Nana was over again so mama and dada could go join the hordes of moviegoers seeing Star Wars’ Rogue 1 and do a little Christmas shopping.
Has she tried any new foods this month?
As the temperature has dropped, Emilia has been very into my morning cup of tea and also “taaa” (chocolate) which she can thank her doting Nana for supplying in abundance. Emilia wasn’t all that impressed by Thanksgiving dinner, particularly the turkey, but she did really enjoy the cranberry. Again, nothing new, but this has been a month of rediscovering old favorites, like pineapple and steel cut oatmeal. I actually wondered if she might be allergic to pineapple because after we realized how much she was loving it, we gave it to her for weeks and she developed a terrible, patchy, dry skin rash all over the backs of her knees and inner elbow creases. After a lot of troubleshooting and assessment, we think it’s just Eczema and have been treating it as such and also dressing her in much looser, cotton PJs and have seen improvement, but just to be safe, we also cut out the pineapple! “Keem” is another favorite = ice cream. Specifically, ice cream sandwiches which she’ll eat in near-entirety all by herself, handing to me as she goes for help peeling the wrapper down so she can neatly hold it without dirtying her dainty fingers.
How do you spend your time while Emilia naps?
Until recently, I’d squeeze in reading work emails but now that she is napping longer and on her own, I usually try to make myself sit down and work through something on my massive To Do list, whether that is editing photos, working on some project, or trying to blog more regularly. The time I spend writing for this blog is usually the most rewarding so I’m trying to reprioritize that but it’s easy to distract myself with a million things to do around the house.
Does Emilia have any fun new quirks?
Brian and I like to slow dance with her in the kitchen where we keep the iPod dock but in the last month, she has insisted on a slow dance with either Brian or me before her morning nap and at bedtime. It’s hysterical but also so sweet and I cherish each and every one with her nuzzled against my shoulder. It’s become such a part of her routine that if we try to skip it, she starts to whimper as we enter her bedroom and bounces is our arms pointing out toward the kitchen (where the iPod and doc are) and cries “Neee! Neee!” For some reason neither Brian nor I can figure, “music” = “nee” to her.
How is she sleeping lately?
We’re extremely proud that our daughter is such an excellent sleeper but I have to credit it to our strong bedtime routine. Emilia sleeps 7 to 7 without any wake ups (which we are grateful for). After a bit of a setback with nap time as she transitioned from two naps to just one in the late summer, we finally got her falling asleep on her own at nap time again starting in just the last month when I opted to tackle a few days of sleep training her on my own just before the Thanksgiving break (when Brian would be home and could help me if needed once the tougher days were through). Thankfully, the “training” was less than a minute of slightly irritated, “protest” whining before she plopped herself down in the corner of her crib and slept for two hours continuously. Prior to that, I’d relied on nursing to sleep and holding or laying with her for the entirety of her nap so it’s life changing once again to be able to place her, awake, in her crib and have her settle herself and fall asleep herself without any tears at all. Bedtime has consistently been on the dot right at 7 PM and at that time, she practically DIVES into the crib happily.
Is there anything Emilia does that cracks you up?
I probably shouldn’t have taught her this, but recently she said “doo doo” without any connotation of any sort and I jokingly gasped and threw my hand over my mouth theatrically and exclaimed, “What did you just say?” pretending to be horrified. She was delighted and quickly said it again so I repeated my performance. Her eyes absolutely lit up and it quickly morphed into a family game where Brian holds her in his arms and she will become very quiet, then suddenly burst out with “Doo doo!” and hold her breath and wait for me to run toward her in a sneak “attack.” She throws her arms around Brian’s shoulders and yelps and buries her head and face into his chest, squealing. It’s hysterical and as soon as you’ve “attacked” she signs “more” and points to the door which is her way of requesting an amped up sneak attack involving misdirection. Usually I enter one door but sneak around through our dining room to attack from a blind side.
What has been the greatest change in her lately?
Without question it would have to be her growing independence. As a mom who works from home, Emilia receives a LOT of one-on-one so over the past few months, I’ve been trying to give her a little space for some creative play on her own. Surprisingly, the greatest leap forward in this came when we put the Christmas decorations up. To free up space in our living room, we relocated a lot of her toys to her bedroom which isn’t her primary play space in our home (our living room is). Since making this change, she has played on her own for longer with fewer toys.
What has surprised you lately?
Her capacity to understand concepts and remember things. Recently while we were having a pizza date, a song with a great beat came on and she stopped what she was doing and started to dance and wiggle and stomp. “Reece, Reece, march, march!” she exclaimed because she remembered that her Aunt Reece had taught her to march when she’d seen her recently. Since putting up the Christmas tree, we were worried that she’d rip ornaments off and risk toppling the tree but instead of just declaring it off limits and telling her not to touch it, simply explaining to her that they the ornaments are very delicate and to ask for help for whatever she wanted to see and touch seems to have been effective. She has a few favorites like Brian’s Stay-Puft Marshmellow ornament that we eventually relocated lower to where she can reach just so she can easily push the button to play the music, but she doesn’t pull it off and for signs for help when she wants a lift up to see and touch something delicate that’s higher on the tree.
Have you learned any new tricks for going out?
Dining out isn’t quite as easy as it once was when she’d agreeably remain in her lobster claw high chair but timing and preparedness are key. We made a point to continue to eat out at nicer restaurants with her while she was young so she had the experience early and often, so now my trick is to make sure she has napped prior to the excursion, has a clean diaper, and I have a selection of both food, drink and entertainment distractions that are “new” to her. This just means that I stay on top of the toy rotation on a week to week basic and cycle things out so everything seems new and novel.
I’ve found she does better with less and she appreciates an almost toy store-like presentation to her playroom: toys aren’t crammed together on a dozen shelves. Instead, we keep a small bookcase in the living room stocked with a few big and small toys and books that we regularly rotate. I do the same for the books and toys we keep in a basket in the car and anytime we’re dining out or heading out for what I call “stroller errands,” I always bring a selection of toys that aren’t in the current rotation so whatever I pull out to entertain her with is completely new and novel for her at that moment. Small quantities of dried fruit, cereals, and cut up fruit are helpful too.
Any tips for when she’s overtired/grumpy/due for a nap?
On occasions when I might have kept her out too long and she is fixated on, say, a baby doll she’s just seen in a box out in a store, I can usually “change the channel” as her pediatrician calls it by quizzing her on her body parts, (Where’s your nose/ears/eyes?) or asking if she thinks we should go visit Nana’s so she can see May the cat who likes to lick his paws (she mimes licking her paws). The occasional small piece of chocolate is very effective too.
My strategy for trying to stretch out her usually 45-minute morning nap to follow this formula:
1. Fresh air outside
2. A quick, warm bath
3. A small, warm bowl of oatmeal within 30 minutes of nap time
The best results of following the above to the letter resulted in a 2.5 hour, completely uninterrupted nap in late November. It was glorious.
What do you hear most from strangers about Emilia? I know it’s completely obnoxious for a mother to write this, but it has to be: “She’s SO ADORABLE,” or “beautiful or “cute” and “she should be modeling” is still a big one. But the one that makes me laugh the most is, “How old did you say she was? Almost 2?” with disbelief in their voice. From a young age, Emilia has had a pretty full head of hair so I think a lot of other parents assume she is older. But I also think
Date: December 18, 2016