Wednesday, August 1, 2007

14 Months: A Little Abbey Update

Here is my monthly Little Abbey update and as always, in no particular order:

With ever increasing boundaries both physical and mental, it is becoming hard to keep Little Abbey entertained. She has figured out how to get into about anything under the height of three feet and does so regularly. Why is this spoon in my filing cabinet and how did my tiny metallic St. Francis pendant get all the way downstairs to the living room floor are all questions I find myself asking. Childproof cabinet clips are liberally distributed now around the house to drawers containing chemicals dangerous to humans or simply containing objects that we wish to remain intact. I feel like a prisoner under full lockdown in my own home because I have to spend minutes trying to unlock a cabinet just to get the dishwasher soap or an extra garbage bag.

In the beginning, we had a toy box containing all of Little Abbey's toys and another container for her books. They were stacked neatly against the wall of the living room and for the large part remained there. Now, not only do the boxes move as she pushed them around, but the toys appear to be randomly distributed through the rest of the house as if a huge explosion had happened with bright colored plastic shrapnel that sings nursery songs. No longer can I risk walking down the stairs at night for fear of stepping on something that might imbed into my foot or send my hurling out into space. To compensate I have developed a shuffling gait where my feet never leave the floor and regularly discharge my built up static electricity on anything I touch.

Perhaps one of the most disturbing developments is the arrival of the terrible twos a year early. Tantrums when an object that we value and whom Little Abbey believes is a toy is taken away from her, come now with frequency. When we tried to take a board game away from her full of little game pieces that could choke her, she repeatedly slaps at the game and screams until it is out of reach and then cries to let us know of her displeasure. Fortunately since her mind is still developing, she forgets within minutes and is on to something else.

Another physical boundary she is starting to break into is the outdoors. She has regularly been outdoors on walks in her stroller or sitting in her chair afraid to touch the grass. But in this last month she has overcome her fear of grass and her world has expanded. Just last night as my wife and I were returning from a day away, we drove up to the house where Little Abbey and Grandma were playing out in the front yard. Little Abbey was pushing around her plastic trike when she first spotted us still in the street retrieving the mail. Quick as a wink, she dropped to her hands and knees and was heading for us as fast as she could, deeper into knew territory.

I probably mentioned this one before but Little Abbey really loved to swim and swing. She swims at Mrs. Z's house about once a week and at our house on the weekends. She will splash and roam around exploring this watery world until she is prune skinned and tired. Most of the time she will always complain when it is time to get out but last weekend I decided to wait her out. It took well over an hour before she decided she had enough. Her other great love is to go to the park where they have those child swings. I have yet to find her limit on those as it is always me who tires first of pushing her now and then while she squeals and laughs as she arcs through the air.

Although Little Abbey is still small in the vocabulary department but I'm beginning to think it is just us. Both of my wife and I have scientific brains incapable of understanding baby talk. Although she can say a few words, most are unrecognizable to me. But lately I have noticed that she uses the same babble for the same object or desired action. Genetics can be a funny thing and although I started speaking normally, my father didn't start speaking until he was four years old, his excuse being that he just didn't have anything he wanted to say. So maybe the "non-speaking until late" gene skipped a generation.

Little Abbey is still crawling though she spends most of her days on her feet. She walks behind as she pushed her toy box, booster seat, rocking chair, trike and about anything light enough to move. I know it is helping her strength because she has a game of pushing me over whenever I am on the floor and clamoring up on top of my chest and bouncing up and down in victory. About once a day, I will see her take a step without hanging on to anything and once I have seen her take two steps. She also has resumed her love of standing up and walking as long as one of us is holding both of her hands. I'm guessing this will be the last time I write about her not walking.

What she makes up in walking she makes up in climbing. That kid is fearless. Since we have a split-level house with two sets of stairs, she frequently climbs up and down them to go where the action is or to just explore on her own. We will be sitting in the living room and suddenly realize that it is quiet… too quiet and have to start searching upstairs or downstairs to see where she is at. She loves to push her chair around to various places and then stand up on it to get a higher perspective. She will climb up onto the couch and then stand on the armrest to get the highest view in her world. She would climb right up on the back of the couch if she could but hasn't been able to date… fortunately. Another favorite is climbing into her toy box where she can spend a couple hours playing on top of a pile of toys. But with the ability of climbing come ouchies and booboos as she occasionally falls, tips over or slips. I don't let her do anything life threatening but I feel as if she has to learn the principle of action and reaction, and she does. I've seen her make an error and after consoling her tears, she has learned and goes about what she had been doing another way or avoids it all together.

One of my fears with having a child was that it would interfere with our love of houseplants. We probably have upwards of forty plants scattered throughout the house, all but a couple of them within arm's reach of a baby. I figured that we would constantly have to battle broken pots, dirt in mouths and uprooted plants for several years. But the amazing thing is that Little Abbey quickly learned that all plants were off limits to her. We could ring her in plants and she would probably cry because she can't think of a way to get through to the other side without touching them. All it took was a couple accidents where she did turn over a plant and a few firms "no's" when she was getting ready to play with them and she learned. Now we could leave her in a room full of plants and she wouldn't harm a leaf on them even if she spent all day among them.

As Little Abbey has grown older, she certainly has developed taste preferences. We first started noticing this a couple months ago when she started picking out meat in any dish and putting it aside. Up until recently I thought that this was because she didn't like the taste or texture of it but now I know it is because there is something better amongst it. If given only meat, she would eat it but given a choice of say meat and pasta, she picks out the pasta and eats it. If she had eaten all the pasta she would then probably eat the meat but by then she is full. I just realized this theory recently because she eats so much in one sitting that we have to give her several different types of foods to fill her up. For example, she loves bananas and she loves watermelon but when we gave them to her both at the same time, she ate all the watermelon first before she even ate one bite of the bananas.

Another slight change in Little Abbey has occurred with her sleeping patterns. She still sleeps all night and is an early riser with her mom and dad, but her naps have changed. If she wasn't as tired or was over tired, she would fuss and holler a while before falling asleep. Now she has picked up the habit of just lying in bed and passing the time away talking to herself. If she is tired she will eventually fall asleep and if she isn't, she will just lie there and talk for a half hour or forty-five minutes before she is ready to come back downstairs. She lets us know by saying, "Da?" (Dad) really loud over and over in a questioning manner until I come to get her.

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