Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Letters and Adventures

We're back from our 4th of July trip to Oregon, and I will blog about that in more detail soon.

For now, what I wanted to do is to post the first in what I hope will be a series of monthly letters to Annika. I'm shamelessly stealing this idea from Heather over at (a wonderful blog in general, but especially when she's writing about her daughter). I like the concept of not only writing regularly about each month's new developments, events, joys and sorrows, but to address it to the person who's most likely to be interested later on. I'm starting with Month 3, because I found it easier to write than months 1 or 2.


Dear Annika,

At the start of this month, you started "Trena-care" and I went back to work. This required some adjustment for both of us, but all in all, it seems to be going well. Aerik has repeatedly declared his love for you, and Trena has negotiated with your dad so that Aerik may ask you on a date when you're 25. Anyone else must wait until you're 30. Kira is not sure whether you are something that might be good to eat, something to play with, or just a thief of Trena's time and attention.

When you look up at me with your sapphire x-ray eyes as you drink from a bottle, I wonder what it is you can possibly see in me. You look so knowing, so wise - and then you forget to coordinate swallowing, sucking and breathing, and start coughing and spluttering. The expression on your face says that you're a little annoyed that the bottle is trying to drown you.

Sometimes when you smile, you scrunch your nose and gasp in glee, and you look as though I just told you the most outrageous, juicy piece of gossip imaginable. It must be fun to watch grown-ups get so giddy every time you grin at them, and then make absolute fools of themselves trying to coax another grin out of you. But the best smiles are the ones you give me for no other reason than that I've magically appeared at your crib in the morning, or after a nap when you've started fussing.

According to the Authorities, babies your age should get "tummy time" to encourage upper body strength. You have a goodly amount of strength, you can hold your head steady, you can support your entire weight on your legs, but being placed on your stomach makes you grumpy. First you squirm, then you start making frustrated little noises, then you start to fuss - it's like you know you can't justify really crying hard, so you just go "Wah. Waawaah. Wah. Weh. Wehwaawaahweh." All the while, trying to use your legs to crawl, but not succeeding because you haven't yet figured out that your lower half won't move forward unless you use your arms to move your upper half forward at the same time.

This, obviously, is not your favorite activity. Your favorite? It's a close call between having a boob in your mouth, versus lying on the changing table kicking and squirming. You get so excited, and jerk all four limbs around so emphatically that it always puts me in mind of a marionette whose strings are being pulled by some kind of maniac. At times you look as though you yourself aren't sure who's controlling all this activity - your eyes get really wide and surprised-looking, and your solemn expression doesn't at all match the flailing and kicking.

You've gotten very good at cramming your entire fist into your mouth. Your dad and I look at the fist, and then your tiny rosebud mouth, and wonder how you do it. And recently, you made the astonishing leap of reasoning that if you can put your hand in your mouth, and if you can grasp an object in your hand, then that object can also be shoved into your mouth. You put a fuzzy toy alligator into your mouth the other day, and then made the most awful face, probably because fuzz on your tongue offended your aesthetic sensibilities. Those are some big words for someone who can, at best, say "ah-goo".

About two weeks ago you started sleeping through the night. At first, we would only speak those words in whispers, lest they turn out to have been simply a sleep-deprived hallucination, or a one-time deal. But now, we can reliably get you to sleep sometime between 10 and 11, and you sleep until 6 or 7 am. After the first two months, the sleep deprivation that made us feel more dead than alive, this is our idea of heaven.

I wonder if there is such a thing as too much affection - I have to fight the temptation to squeeze you too hard, to eat you alive with kisses. So far, you don't seem inclined to protest being gobbled and tickled and cuddled, and I intend to make the most of it before you're old enough to say "Aww Mom, stop it!" and push me away.