Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A two-week countdown

We have just two more weeks until we expect Elizabeth to arrive. I still haven't managed to scan in the ultrasound pictures, and I don't know if I'll get them posted before actual photos of little miss Elizabeth! We are almost prepared for her arrival -- well, as prepared as we can be. Vanessa is starting to understand that she has a baby sister coming. She points to my tummy when asked where her baby sister is, and runs to point out Elizabeth's crib when asked where Elizabeth is going to sleep. Vanessa has been practicing being a big sister. Several of her toys (and even a piece of raw spaghetti noodle today) have been crying lately, and are only soothed by rocking on Vanessa's shoulder or drinking some milk.

In fact, I have a funny story from today. Vanessa was making a sort of whimpering noise and pointing to her tummy. "Does your tummy hurt?" I asked, "is it hungry?" "Yes," answers Vanessa. "What would it like?" "Milk," she answers. So I give her a sippy cup with milk in it. Vanessa promptly puts the straw up to her tummy, trying to soothe her tummy directly!

Here's a picture showing my tummy progression from two months of pregnancy in November until the beginning of this month. I left a space open for June in case I manage to update the pictures before Elizabeth is born. Since Vanessa was induced three weeks early, I am experiencing what it feels like to be nine months pregnant for the first time. I don't think I've quite developed the waddle I hoped for, but my belly button seems to be popping out in a highly satisfactory manner.

Vanessa's Aunt Heather and Uncle Terry visited a few weeks ago. Vanessa has been playing an alphabet game, wherein I sing the alphabet song as fast as I can and Vanessa runs in circles around on the letters of her alphabet rug (sometimes in the correct direction). Heather added just a little extra absurdity to this game by placing a large sea turtle on her head. Vanessa seemed to think that was pretty normal.

Vanessa seems to be inventing all kinds of games lately. (Maybe I play a part in their invention, but I do think she is the one doing the inventing.) One of her favorite new games is "Home!" For this game, Vanessa pushes her car or other vehicle to "work" in her bedroom or her parents' room, and then returns, saying "I'm home!" This means of course that she gets a great big hug from her mommy and daddy. Then she goes back to work and comes home again, getting lots of exciting hugs.

Daddy's garden has been a fairly successful venture so far. We have lots of plants popping up and even a few things yielding something of a harvest already. Vanessa has been enjoying helping her daddy. In this picture, she's planting some seeds, and she likes to pour water on the plants with the watering can. Although this picture was taken a few weeks ago, Vanessa still associates the word "seeds" with daddy's garden.

I'm kind of sad to be wrapping up my baby-sitting as we prepare for Elizabeth's arrival. I only have one more day of watching Grace ahead of me. Vanessa has been enjoying playing with Grace very much and has been learning a lot of good habits from her (such as picking up her toys and holding still for diaper changes). I hope we can keep up regular visits with Grace. We've been trying to keep visiting Maya, whom Vanessa seems to view as sort of a big sister.

Grace and Vanessa like to play a game I like to call "Bounce 'til we're tired," wherein they bounce wildly in the crib and then pretend it's suddenly naptime. They repeat this cycle over and over.

I've been trying to do a better job of regularly visiting the library so that Vanessa always has a fresh stack of books to read. She has been wanting to read for longer periods of time each day, and I find that it's hard to find books of her own that she wants to read at bedtime. After reading each of them several times the day before, I can't blame her! Here Vanessa is practicing "reading" one of the library books. I'm pointing to the word "my" and she says and signs it. It doesn't take too long for her to memorize these books! (And by the way, yes, Vanessa is sitting in a diaper box. She usually prefers my lap when we read, though!)

Vanessa has been better about cleaning up after herself when asked, but she sure does relish making a good mess!

Vanessa and Grace really are so cute together. Here they are sharing a little snack in their little chairs.

My mother came to visit a couple of weeks ago. She and Vanessa enjoyed a few good jam sessions on the piano. Grandma always brings Vanessa some good books (which I'm always desperate for!) and a few truly wonderful handmade toys from Grandma's early childhood education classroom to play with, on loan until the next visit or so. Vanessa has especially enjoyed playing with a family of dolls that Grandma brought, including a daddy, mommy, big sister and baby. The daddy goes to work sometimes, and the family members take turns napping in Elizabeth's crib, but mostly they spend their day lying in Vanessa's crib waiting for her to bounce so they can bounce too.

Vanessa helped Grandma pour the water and add most of the ingredients for pizza dough, but when it came to adding the flour, Vanessa decided she didn't want to help anymore, on account of the fact that the flour made the dough look yucky (thus the tongue sticking out).

Perhaps as parents we feel a little guilty about introducing so many changes to Vanessa's life all at once, because we've been buying quite a few new toys for her in the past few weeks. Vanessa spends a good portion of the day hiding in her new tent (in addition to various other locations in our house). In this picture, Vanessa is answering the question I ask more often than any other question, "Where is Vanessa?" "Here I am!" she points! Lately if I don't find her in a satisfactory amount of time, she'll start to give me little hints, like sticking her foot out and saying "Foot!" Other times, if I ask "Is she in the closet? Is she under the table?" I can hear Vanessa's voice from the tent answering "no... no..."

Mommy and Daddy had an evening out by themselves to attend a gala sponsored by James's company. We enjoyed socializing with other adults, and Vanessa enjoyed playing with her Nana and Grandpa. Fun all around!

We've finally moved in and cleaned up enough to host a few social activities. It is a tremendous relief to be able to finally welcome others to see our new place. We had a play date last week and a housewarming picnic on Memorial Day. One of the families that we invited to the picnic brought their moon bounce. They certainly know how to be invited to future events!

Vanessa and Nana enjoyed playing with the sand and water table at the picnic. It was wonderful to have Nana and Grampa to help watch Vanessa so that James and I could chat with some of the fantastic neighbors, friends, and family we had over.

Friday, May 09, 2008

New home!

We are excited to report that we have started to settle in to our new home! We still have a lot of organizing to do, but at least we have unpacked enough of our things to get by for the time being. Vanessa seems to be handling the transition to a new home pretty well. We've visited friends in our old neighborhood and Vanessa walked right past our old house several times without even looking at it. And it took her about a week to really feel comfortable with the slightly different environment at bedtime, but she's adjusted now. There are many things about moving that are really exciting for her, such as re-discovering all of her toys and books as they get unpacked, and having so many empty boxes around to hide in!

Vanessa has mastered the art of crib bouncing and she practices daily to keep up her skills.

Vanessa enjoyed the new experience of clambering all over the bed before I'd had a chance to locate the sheets for it. So many new experiences for her!

Vanessa has always had the habit of finding her own snacks when mommy was too slow to find them for her. After a recent experience in the grocery store when Vanessa got hold of the Kix box that I had opened to appease her appetite while I was shopping, I always make sure to only leave mostly empty cereal boxes on tables or other places within reach.

Vanessa has really enjoyed exploring the outdoors in our own back yard.

Uncle Brian, Joanna, and Kyra came to visit last weekend. We enjoyed our visit with Brian and Joanna, and Vanessa REALLY enjoyed Kyra's visit. I don't know if you can see Vanessa in this picture (she's kind of hiding behind a tree), but she and Kyra are running outside to explore the back yard together.
Vanessa especially likes the benches near the fire pit. We're excited about having a fire pit, but I think it will be a few years before we use it while Vanessa is around!

Vanessa compares tongues with Kyra.

Vanessa and Kyra lounge in the kitchen together. Vanessa never wanted Kyra too far out of her sight!

In this picture, Vanessa is trying to see if Kyra is awake. She's been fascinated by the sleeping/awake pair of opposites for a while, but lately she's taken it to a whole new level. Now any kind of inanimate object might take a nap in her crib or on a bed.

My favorite example of Vanessa deciding to help her toys take a nap is when she put her large green lego block down for bedtime (actually a Duplo, but I always call Duplos legos). She made sure to cover it with a blanket and rub its back. She's also put her magnetic letters down for a nap, and always flips them over so that they are backwards, on their "tummies!" Her legos also had a chance to have a snack in the high chair and to go for a ride in the stroller. I wouldn't be surprised if Vanessa's legos get a good tooth-brushing one day soon.

Vanessa especially enjoys this particular box because she can step in and out of it by herself. It doesn't hide her too satisfactorily, though, so she uses other boxes for hiding in.

Uncle Brian attempted to keep Vanessa from squishing her toes with my software engineering book (which Vanessa enjoys flipping through from time to time). Vanessa actually managed to bring the heavy text all the way over to me without dropping it.

I told Vanessa she was strong, and she agreed. "Strong" is one of her favorite new signs. Her other favorite new sign is "fix." The other day, Vanessa found a nail in a box that had found its way into a box that hadn't finished unpacking. She decided to take the nail and "fix" her cardboard box (the one in the picture above) because it had a tear in it. For safety, I should have immediately taken the nail away from her, but I was fascinated by the fact that she understood that nails were for fixing things! When had she seen that? I did take it away in just another minute, when she decided that a nail would also be really great for "fixing" the CD player!

Vanessa has also started being a whole lot more verbal. Just this week, I have noticed her talking more and more in phrases, such as "blue eyes," "mommy's hair," "need more," and "no diaper," for example. I'm pretty sure I've heard her say entire sentences, including "I want to read this." It's amazing how quickly that happens!

In news of Elizabeth, the doctor thought I might be measuring small again, and I was worried that I would end up being induced early like I was with Vanessa, but an ultrasound this week showed that Elizabeth is doing just great, no reason to worry at all! I have some pretty good ultrasound pictures that I'll try to post soon. I am so very glad that Elizabeth is doing well, and I am glad that I have the extra time to get organized before welcoming Elizabeth into our lives!