Thursday, December 24, 2009

Little Cindy Lou Who

We didn’t think it was possible, but somehow Stella has figured out how to walk in her sleeping bag. Taking smaller steps than kimono wrapped geisha she shuffles along the floor. Put a barrette in her hair and you’ve got the spitting image of Cindy Lou Who from the Grinch Who Stole Christmas (the original cartoon version).

You may have noticed that there have been fewer pictures lately. Part of it is because it gets dark at 4pm and we’re not out and about as much lately. Part of it is that we’ve been really busy. But another is a new character trait that has recently surfaced. Stella would rather be behind the camera directing. Wanting to make some movies I pulled out the tripod for the little camera. As soon as that comes out, Stella runs behind the camera to see who is on the screen and push buttons. One time she set my white balance to underwater. Luckily I caught it before I started filming but it has since been a challenge to get her on screen. Do we have a director in the workings? You know she’ll have her own camera before long. ;-)

Stella’s cognitive and motor skills are really showing an advancement this past few days. As if overnight, we’ll it was overnight, she grabbed her Legos and started pulling them apart and then attempting to stack them on the big “house” we had built. Then she started taking them off the house and attaching them in a long tower. These are the little square pieces. She’s not 100% but I’d say 70% of the time she can get the pieces on herself now, no problem.

She’s also “using” more and more words. She can say Oma (mmmmMa) and Opa (ohPA). She wants lights turned “on”, things opened (auf), closed (zu but sounds like two). Stella uses the German slang word “Heia” (hiya) to signal that she wants to go into her bed or that someone or something is sleeping. She’ll take her stuffed animals, say Heia while laying the animal down and then tuck it in with a blanket. Ya Ya is Stella.

“Holly” (hoyya) although sounding very similar to Heija is very clear that Holly is meant. And lastly, “Oya” is telephone. We’re not sure where this comes from. There is nothing in German or English that sounds like this for telephone or cell phone but Stella is clear that her little toy phone is meant. And Auto, well is auto. Anything with wheels is an auto and Stella makes sure to point it out to you.

Surprisingly she is also using the German word “Doch” There’s no direct translation but its meaning is similar to actually, or really. For example, no I don’t want something, oh yes I really do. I thought I misheard her the other day. I held out my arms and said, “Come to daddy”. She shook her head saying no and a half a second later she said “doch” and came running into my arms. Since then she has pulled this trick several times. Talk about being able to grasp complex meanings before you can formulate full sentences.

Do you remember the old stick doll toys? There’s an up-side-down cone with a stick through it. On the other end is usually a clown and with the stick you can make the clown dance or hide in the cup. Stella loves to take this toy and pull the clown down into the cone, acting surprised that it’s gone saying “oh”. Then after looking around, she’ll pop the clown up screaming “DA” (there) and laughing wildly, then repeating.

She’ll also hide herself in a corner or behind a door and then jump out and yell “DA” (there).
Stella has become a jumping fiend. She wants to jump everywhere. Especially when she is in her crib she’ll grab the ledge and start jumping manically, working herself up into a fever where she’ll then let go, spin around, stumble and drop only to get up and repeat. And as if a caged animal, she’ll run from one end of the crib to the other back and forth, back and forth building up steam to stop and then jump again.

And yesterday, she jumped (without spring help from the couch or bed) for the first time. Standing in the middle of the living room she jumped and booth feet left the ground. She landed solidly with a big grin on her face.

Stella has learned that water comes out of a faucet and that we use the water to wash dishes. The last two days she has helped or played at the sink.
I really hope that Stella’s molars come in soon. Besides having her fingers (sometimes fist) inside her mouth the last week, she has been having major problems sleeping. So much to the point that she won’t go down easily like she used to. Her gums are as thick as marbles and I think the pressure is sometimes unbearable. Two nights ago she would only lie on her stomach with pressure on her face. Last night was extremely bad. She would lay quietly in your arms but as soon as you would move to put her in her crib, she would scream terribly and crawl up you as if the boogie man was waiting in the crib to get her. After an hour with maja and then an hour with me she finally fell asleep…on the floor. She had to have physical contact and well daddy doesn’t quite fit in the crib. So I pulled her out of the crib and we laid down on the floor. First on my belly and then on the side. When ever I moved she would stick her head up to make sure I was still there and then bury her head under my arm. Slowly I inched my way to detach ourselves and finally I was able to leave the room. I covered her with a blanket and then left the room. Later when we went to bed we checked on her. I was so afraid that we’d wake her but
Maja and I quietly lifted her into bed. Of course she didn’t sleep in and shortly after 7 we were up and ready to start the day.

So that’s our tale for today.
Wishing you all a merry Christmas and we’ll post again soon.
Maja, Jeremy, Stella and Holly.

Friday, December 18, 2009

New type of head banging

Daddy has lost his bedtime privileges.

I’m not taking it personally though, its one of those things. It’s kind of weird. She’s super excited when I come home from work. We play and rough house. But the last few nights when I sit down in the chair for our nightly routine she screams bloody murder and mom has to put her down. Is it the over stimulation and lack of sleep she’s had the last few days? Could it be that her teeth are painful and she wants the comfort of mom? (She’s practically sticking her whole fist in her mouth now and the lower molars are working their way out.) Or daddy has a new role. We’ll well see how the next few days pan out since I am finally on vacation and will be home in the mornings too.

This past week day care was closed. The Moms traded taking care of the girls (Hannah & Stella). It was interesting to be able to directly compare personality traits. I’ve always admired how Suzanne and Daniel could show such insight to the personalities of the twins. Stella is Stella we have no other point of reference. But this week we did. But then the question is where is your reference line? How do you compare?

I could make a blanket stereotype statement that Hannah is a hog. A downright cookie monster. She devours everything in sight. Stella doesn’t even have a chance to grab any food. But it also could be that Stella isn’t as assertive…nah we know she goes after what she wants. Or maybe it’s that Stella continues in the line of very slow eaters. We do have to beg her to eat sometimes. Who knows but it is a fact that after Hannah left the other day, Maja brought out a snack for Stella so she could have some food too.

Stella doesn’t have a sweet tooth. Often she’ll want a cookie, take a bite and want nothing more to do with it. Usually sneaking it to Holly. Stella received a red Christmas boot for Nicolas day stuffed with all sorts of wrapped chocolate bon bons. She has had this boot for two weeks now. She loves carrying it around, taking the bon bons out and putting them back in. Just playing. Then Hannah came over. Before Maja could say anything Hannah downed 2 bon bons, needless to say the boot is now empty.

The two are also funny, copying each other. Whatever one is doing, the other has to do it too. Their favorite game is still by far sitting on the piano next to each other banging away. I see duets in the future.
Stella loves the game of scaring you or being scared. She’ll hide around the corner then stick her head out. She has this funny little grin, sticking her bottom jaw out, drawing her lips tight. Holding her hands clasped together and squinting her eyes at you, she’ll throw her head back and give a quiet and ghostly “boo”. Then giggle with joy as you act startled.

This evening Stella wanted to be put in her bed. Not to sleep but to play. It was as if someone has wound her up and then let go. She spun around, running back and forth. Throwing herself to the ground, moving her animals from one end to the other. Having so many close calls with banging her head on the sides that made mommy and daddy cringe. I almost couldn’t watch any more. And of course the main activity, grabbing the crib rail and jumping up and down like a hyperactive chimpanzee on speed. Yes, the mattress will be lowered tomorrow.

She had us rolling on the floor with laughter. She took her teddy bear and had him jumping up and down, just like “the monkeys on the bed.” Then all of a sudden she smashed his head on the bed railing. She then paused as if in reflection and then said “Owa” And with that he fell to the mattress arms and legs sprawled in every which direction. Maja said, yes you hurt teddy, you need to blow on his booboo and give him a kiss to make him feel better. And with that she bent down, picked teddy up and blew on his forehead. Then she put teddy down and after prompting from Maja, she covered the teddy with a blanket.

This was only a momentary lapse in activity because she promptly started running from one end of the crib to the other
again. Spinning and throwing the animals out of the crib. She threw a fit if we tried to get her out. However, her laughter was infectious and we all had a good time.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Music Lovers, lets share

Sunday December 13th, the third week of advent was celebrated with an advent concert in the 800 year old Carlow church. The billing was the Carlow Choir (including Oma) and a brass quintet.

The youngest member of the standing room only audience was our 19 month old Stella.

For readers of the blog, you know she can’t sit still for more than a half a second. Yet for an hour and a half, she watched with wide open eyes as the choir and quintet created their magic. Sometimes we stood in the center isle so she could see better, other times she sat on Opa’s lap. She picked out Oma in the crowd on the risers and pointed to her.

And when “Go tell it on the mountain” rang through the hall, Stella tried to clap with the rest of the audience.

When she did eventually get antsy, she turned around a played with her shadow. Shaking her head so that the shadow showed the two bobbles from her hat flying around, she would smile and point then shake her head again. A couple of minutes later she would turn around to enjoy the music again.

We are extremely proud of her for holding out so long and yet I’m not surprised. She seems to like music; dancing when she hears something she likes, testing her voice in what sound like weird scales, banging on the piano. And now holding her attention for an extended period of time. There could be a future.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Lübeck Weihnachtsmarkt

Yesterday Stella experienced the Lübeck Christmas market fort he first time.

Although the weather was overcast and rainy, she fully enjoyed it. So many new stimuli, people and shiny lights.

We started at the Fairytale world where several scenes from famous fairytales are depicted with puppets. Stella was fascinated by the animated creatures and the spinning carousel. When we would turn to leave a particular attraction she would start fuss but two seconds later she would see something else to attract her attention and all was good again.

From fairytale land we moved onto the crowded marketplace. Sitting on Daddy’s shoulders she had a birds eye view of the packed market. She started dancing to the music and shouting “ohh, ohh”. The passerby who happened to look up at her instantly had a smile on their face.

Stella tried the large soft pretzel with cheese melted over it and she especially liked the chocolate Bannana.

Finally we were by the big Ferris-Wheel. Although it was huge and colourfully lit, Stella didn’t take any notice. There were PONY’s! Stellla stared transfixed on the little Shetland ponies and when they stopped she would pet them. We had to stand there at least 15 minutes. She did not want to leave.

When we finally got home, she was worn out, over stimulated, fussy and crashed.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bucket head breaks the unbreakable

Corning, famous glassware. Oven safe, microwave safe, dishwasher safe, Virtually unbreakable. This is what I told Maja as Stella was pulling out and stacking the small corningware bowls we have. „Maybe“ says Maja, „but is it Stella safe?“ Good question I say as Stella looses her grip on a bowl and in super slow motion, the bowl drops to the tile floor shattering into hundreds of tiny pieces.
“Guess not.” I laugh back to Maja as I swiftly pick up Stella and Maja moves in to clean up the mess.

Picking up, stacking, and moving things, especially bowls (usually she only has access to the Tupperware cupboard) is a favorite pastime. She’ll even help you clear or load the dishwasher. She needs clear oversight though, otherwise she gets confused and will put dirty in with the clean ;-)
And if she isn’t stacking the bowls then she is happily wearing them as a hat. I call her bucket head.

I am happy to announce that the snuffles promptly went away with out further increase of systems. In its place are two top molars and two on the bottom about the break through.

The teeth though I don’t think have helped with her attitude. Or its just the struggle with learning to handle independence or the understanding the lack there of. Stella knows what she wants. She tells you what she wants. If you don’t understand, the pitch of her groan lifts, eyes shake in frustration, face turning red. Okay, nothing new. But now tell her she can’t have something, or it’s time to stop and watch her drop to the floor in a heap burying her face in her blanket, arms or stuffed animal that is in hand. A rather amusing display which is rather short lived. Sometimes I’ll get down on the floor and put my face right up next to hers. I’ll look for a second then say “boo”. From underneath the pile of blanket you’ll here a frustrated giggle.

These new tantrums have disturbed our nightly routines. As we sit in the rocking chair and read our books, we’ll pick out one last book to read. When it’s done of course she wants another one. I say no it’s lights out. I’ll turn the light out and she’ll start squirming and crying. As soon as I move her from a sitting position to a lying position in my arms, she’s out.

This happened three nights in a row. On the fourth, I got her to bed with out the crying. I put our book down and just before she started fussing for another book, I pulled another bunny from behind my back. She grabbed it with glee and buried her face in it and the other ten animals she had in her hand. At that moment I turned off the light. She contently lay down in my arms and then I was able to put her down in bed. Whew. Good night.