Monday, March 24, 2014

Totally a Toddler

I'm chock full of excuses. We drove to Mississippi. Grandma Susie came to visit. All the kids were home for Spring Break. It took forever to get Internet service. But while all my excuses may be accurate, the truth is that I got so sick of tripping over boxes that I refused to let myself blog until we finally dug out. We're still not completely there, but after another long day of organizing and sorting, I feel like we're finally moved in enough for life to move on.

And move it does! As of yesterday afternoon, our little Annika Mae is officially a biped. She's been able to stand up, balance, crouch, and bounce for a while, but only yesterday did she discover the utility of propelling herself forward. I completely blame Papa Kay. He pulled out his little container of orange tic tacs, and within minutes she was toddling to whoever held the bait. It's funny, but even though she's occasionally taken a couple steps for several weeks, I never really felt like they "counted" as walking. On March 5th she supposedly took a few steps near the fireplace for my Mom, but I certainly wasn't going to let that milestone happen in my absence. A few days later, she took several more steps when we let her out of the car during the long drive home from Mississippi. But seriously, who wants to tell their child that their first steps were in a gas station McDonalds? Trust me, between the matted hair and the absence of pants (we'd just taken care of a blowout), it was not a pretty picture.

When Grandma Susie came to visit the following week, I thought for sure we'd see the real thing. Annika did take some occasional steps while lunging between people, but walking? Not really. And then she stopped trying completely. For an entire week, she'd drop to all fours when you stood her up, having decided that crawling suited her just fine. I guess she was waiting for the right moment to make her debut. After Sunday dinner at the Andrus home, Tic Tac Time turned into walking time with Grandpa Charles joining us for the moment via Skype.

It has been absolutely adorable watching Annie practice all day today, persistently getting up each time she falls. As comical as it is to watch her slide on the wood floors, I'm glad most of the house is carpeted--it makes for softer landings. Even though this moment is not unexpected at nearly 14 months, I'm still a bit sad to see my daughter transition into a toddler. I'm going to miss having a baby around the house.

And so, here's a brief snapshot of Annika Mae at nearly 14 months:
A real daredevil, this girl loves to climb on everything. The last couple of times that I've picked her up from child care at the YMCA, they've had her contained in a Johnny Jump Up because she wouldn't stop climbing on all the tables and chairs. I've caught her standing and bouncing on the rocking chair, trying to ride it like a surfboard. Not only does she wiggle out of the safety belt and stand up in her high chair, but if I turn my back for a moment, she'll stand on the tray, just to get a bit higher. Let's just say that I recently discovered a couple of gray hairs, naming them Annika and Mae.

Annie adores hanging upside down. If given the chance, she'll throw her head all the way back while you hold her so that she can get a good view of the world from a different angle. She also thinks it's great fun to shake her head wildly back and forth. It is quite possible that she suffers from Shaken Baby Syndrome, but I promise it is self-inflicted. Other cute habits--she scrunches up her nose and blows fantastic raspberries. Oh, and she loves to play patty cake and wave.

Annika continues to love the water--any water. (Let's just say that we are extremely careful to keep the toilet lids closed). But apparently that's not enough. A couple days ago, I brought Annika into the bathroom with me while I took a shower so that I could keep an eye on her. I figured she would amuse herself by getting into the bottom drawer and chewing on everybody's toothbrushes--a favorite pastime. Well, I turned around to adjust the water temperature and suddenly heard a loud crash behind me. Annie had propelled herself into the tub, clothes and all. Far from being upset about landing on her face with water sloshing all around, she proceeded to happily play at my feet directly under the shower stream.

Annie's sleep habits are both wonderful and terrible. She is wonderfully easy to put to bed--we simply lay her down with a hug and kiss, and she snuggles deep into her blankets, happy to see her crib. On the flip side, she still wakes up and wants to nurse in the middle of the night, usually twice. And silly me, I let her. What can I say? She's my baby. As for her eating habits, she eats what we eat along with some baby food and lots of bananas--her favorite. She never figured out a bottle and isn't great with a sippy cup, so most of her liquids still come from Mom. As long as she plays nice and doesn't bite, I'm okay with it.

Our baby girl doesn't talk much yet. Holler, yes. (She has the volume to match her siblings.) Talk, no. She does seem rather consistent and intentional with "Da da," and a phrase that sounds a bit like "What's that?" Mostly, she just copies sounds and intonation. And speaking of copying, I'm amazed with how observant she is, trying to do the things she sees us do, whether putting on socks, brushing hair, or cleaning the toilet.

We like to joke about how Annika is absolutely perfect--except for her funky teeth, crooked eyes, and tiny size. Yes, her two top teeth are a bit strange--they popped through rather late (11 months) and looked different from day 1. Good news is that we've had them examined by two dentists and both say not to worry--her teeth are fine. As for those crooked eyes, our pediatrician advised that we have them checked out since one appeared to drift in slightly. Once again, the optometrist assured us they're just fine. And as for that small size (15th percentile for height, 7% weight, 50% head circumference), well we all know that great things come in small packages. So apparently Annika really is perfect.

We are grateful to have Annie's smiles grace our home. I'm amazed at how she invites love, stretching her arms out freely to anyone who will reciprocate her snuggle. She especially loves and is loved by her siblings. (Well, mostly. Eli's struggling to cope with a little sister who can messes up his train tracks but can't fix them.) But when I bring Annika in as a "wake-up call" in the morning, his face lights up just like his sisters' and we know it's going to be a great day.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Run Swim Bike Cook Week 4: Cherry, Cinnamon, and Ginger Honey Scones

Okay, so we slept in our new home for the first time last night, making the move official.  Moving is complicated under the best of circumstances.  Moving into a house that is 114 years old can be particularly challenging.  Not only did the home need some serious deep cleaning (hey prior owners, the gift card was nice, but clean toilets would have been even nicer), but we had to do some last minute demolition because our queen size box spring couldn't make the corner upstairs.  I'm also getting a new front-loading washer and dryer out of the deal because our old top-loader won't fit. 

There are certainly many other interesting details to share, but I'm sinking in boxes, not to mention the fact that we don't have internet set up yet.  So without further adieu, here's the final wrap-up to Run Swim Bike Cook 2014.

The challenge: cherry and honey.  The result?  Kind of a flop.  I found a recipe for Cherry, Cinnamon, and Honey scones that looked interesting, although I should have been wary since the recipe differed drastically from my favorite go-to scones.  Fresh cherries were out of season, and the only dried cherries I could find were in a combo pack with cranberries and blueberries.  The recipe called for full-fat yogurt and mine was fat-free, but still I forged ahead undaunted.  With all of the kids home from school, an extra trip to the grocery store was out of the question. 

And so one frigid morning, I surprised the kids with homemade scones for breakfast.  Thrilled, they ran to the table, sighed contentedly because the kitchen smelled great, posed for a picture, took one bite, and left the rest untouched.   They probably could have overlooked the heavy texture and general lack of flakiness.  Unfortunately, they couldn't get past my "special" ingredient--the inclusion of a gourmet ginger honey from Lithuania.  While I personally love ginger, the flavor is admittedly quite intense and didn't mellow during baking.  Note to self: in future baking ventures, the combination of cherry, cinnamon, honey, and ginger is just one flavor too many.

Always prepared with a creative solution, Talia came to the rescue by suggesting we sample the special food Papa K brought home the day before: garlic mustard pickled eggs.  (By the way, the henna painting on her hand came from Girl Scout World Thinking Day.)

Back to the eggs, I was supremely grossed out by the concept, let alone the unnatural color.  When my daughter offered me one, I nearly turned my nose up completely before remembering how willingly our kids eat all the strange and unusual things we throw on their plates.  It was only fair that I also try a bite with a good attitude.

And so, we all summoned our courage and sampled the delicacy.  After finally getting the rubbery morsel down, we decided to let Papa K finish the rest.

And so, I guess Week 4's culinary challenge is all about risk-taking.  Whether the results are tasty or not, it's rewarding to be brave enough to try.

Other news:  I finished!  2.2 miles swimming, 112 miles biking, and 26.2 miles running, and not a moment too soon.  At 10 pm on February 28th, I lamented to Jason that I was still 2 miles short on the run.  Life had gotten complicated, and I'd missed my last trip to the gym.  Amazing man that he is, he climbed out of bed, got into his running clothes, and insisted on running the last two miles with me, despite the freezing cold and snow.  It felt so rewarding to actually finish--thanks, love. 

After such an intense month of training, I'd love to take a break, but it's time to start training for June's Utah Valley Marathon.  Thanks to the help of RSBC, I'm off to a good start.