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:
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.