Monday, August 25, 2008

Excuse the Mess...

...we have moved! You can now find us here - featuring fotos, real names, real places, RSS feed - the whole deal!

It's password protected though, so email me for the access code and - if I know and trust you - I will hook you up. ;-)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Eight Months

Baby girl, baby girl... can we even call you "baby" girl anymore? It seems like this month you have left the last remnants of true babyhood behind you, and have entered the world of "child". Many things happened in the mobility department, but what's truly astounding is how you have now started to GIVE BACK. You are no more like an impassive sponge that is soaking in every bit of love and affection you are receiving, but are now responding in the most adorable and heart-melting ways, not just with us, but with other babies as well!

For instants: Liz is no longer a threat to you. Since you can hold yourself in a sitting position, you can withstand her attempts at playing with you much better. She has recently entered a snuggly and kissy phase with you: whenever she sees you she bends down to kiss your cheek - and I almost fell over laughing when I saw you interrupting your play to actually move your head a bit towards her, and holding this position until she was done loving on you. You have also started to lean towards people with outstretched arms, when you want to be held by them rather than by whoever is holding you at the moment. One of the first true demonstrations of your own will, and as you can imagine, whoever you do it to is reduced to a puddle on the floor instantly. I have yet really only seen you do it to your Daddy, your grandparents, and of course me. You clearly differentiate between "your pack" and everybody else now. That is not to say that you have already entered that stage of crying whenever you see a stranger - you are still friendly and always sociable, but with strangers you don't go to very great lengths to show them any extra affection. You really know how to make "your peeps" feel special now!

And boy, how you are making ME feel special! You give kisses now, more like big wet baby slobbers that leave me bathed in your saliva, but I love them so very much! You hug and kiss me whenever you can, you snuggle into me every chance you get. It's so awesome, to feel you now returning all that affection that you are receiving from us in your cute little uncoordinated and over-enthusiastic baby-way. You melt my heart.

You have also started to be vocal in a very deliberate way. Your "word" of the month has been "Ba!", which you threw at everything and everybody. Not so unusual, but the cool part was when I started saying it to you, and you would smile and say it back at me, then waiting for me to respond, so you could respond again, and so on, and so forth. So, for the first time, we were having a "conversation" together - quite mono-syllabic and a bit repetitive as it may have been. Git and I were almost falling over with laughter as you threw a casual "Ba!" at Liz the other day, only for her to pick it up and exactly mimick you in tone and pronounciation, and then listen to the two of you going Ba! Ba! Ba! Ba! Ba! at each other, one after the other, each of you awaiting the other one's turn, before answering back, for almost a minute straight! It's the same with your ear-piercing shriek. It's a real hoot for you if I join in your shrieking, if I match your volume you will get louder and louder, turning this into a little shrieking competition, all the while with a big delighted smile on your face. Not so nice for the neighbors, maybe, but absolutely adorable - especially when you seem to try to get me to shriek with you by looking at me, smiling, and then going at it, waiting for my reaction and response.

Also, this month you opened a very great and exciting door for yourself into this world - you are now fully mobile! What's so astounding about this is the speed with which many very important changes happened in a VERY short amount of time:

From your last month's discovery of holding yourself in a sitting position and putting yourself up onto all fours you suddenly went into a developmental frenzy. First you crossed the living room "caterpillar style": going up on all fours - sliding your hands forward until you were laying flat again - push yourself up onto all fours again - repeat until destination is reached. You never quite did the "army style crawl", you were just kind of "caterpillaring" away. Then, all of a sudden, you figured out how to sit up all by yourself, and out of all positions. And how to kneel. So now you were able to "caterpillar" over to your toy box, kneel in front of it, and reach inside to fish for the toys that you like. What a great new take on the world! But you didn't stop there, oh no. Thankfully I had the video camera close by, when all of a sudden you decided to CRAWL through the living room. With a lot of complaining and straining and voicing your utter discomfort, you FINALLY put one hand in front of the other, let your rear follow, and thus crawled across the room to your Daddy in quite an unstable and wiggly way, before collapsing on the floor on your tummy for the exhaustion of it all. Alas! It only took you a couple of days from then on to perfect your newly acquired skill, and now I daresay you are a master of the crawling arts! And daring you are, too! You sometimes you even leave the safety of my immediate proximity, and venture out on your own to the other end of the apartment and into your own room, where you play for a little while before coming back out into the living room, all smiles.

However, this new mobility of yours hasn't only brought joyous moments. Firstly, the era of "NO!" has now officially kicked off. Seeing as you find the button on the TV extremely fascinating, as well as those electricity outlets on the walls, I am now constantly on my toes to keep you from getting into things you are not supposed to. And as if that wasn't enough, your favorite time to practice your sitting-up now is sleepy time. Heck, you even sit up while you are fast asleep - and then cry because you can't lay down on your own anymore. Putting you to bed has become quite a task now, as it is now "putting you to bed" quite literally - and quite a fight of wills, sometimes, too. I don't much like holding your legs as I put you to sleep in order to keep you from automatically sitting up, but it is the only way to get you to eventually fall asleep these days.

But this mobility has also shown another thing: your complete and utter infatuation with your Daddy. You are on his heels constantly, you cry when he walks past you and you are not fast enough to keep up with him, you cry if he ignores you hugging his leg in an attempt to make it clear to him that you want to be up in his arms. You wiggle and giggle when he comes home from work, you are all huge smiles when he picks you up out of bed in the morning to change your diaper. Me? I guess I got a bit boring to you after all these months with mostly me. But you know, it doesn't matter. In all actuality, I am very happy that you are taking to your Daddy so well and intensely - I know more babies that don't much care for their dads than I do the other way round. And you really know how to put a huge and happy smile onto your Daddy's lips, and seeing this always makes me extremely happy, too. :)

Naturally, the baby proofing of our place has happened this month now, too. And quite in a hurry, I must say. I guess neither your Daddy nor me were prepared for the suddenness with which you started to move about the place all on your own.

Oh, and the next huge milestone of the month? Yes, indeed... your first tooth. And then the second one, within the week. And those two really snuck up on us, seeing as they were giving you no obvious trouble whatsoever. In retrospect I could say that in the few days leading up to the first tooth cutting through you were eating a bit less than usual, but other than that - suddenly, there they were. And damn, you look cute with them! Even though I have to say that I will miss your toothless gummy smile...

And so it goes... you have started to wave, aimlessly and pointlessly but ever so cutely. At the wall, at your toys, in all random directions. But never when we try to encourage you to, of course. You no longer need your baby seat in the bathtub - we have simply bought a rubber mat for you to sit on, and you enjoy this newly gained freedom a lot. Bathey time is now much more exciting than it ever was before, now that you have your hands free to play with your toys and a whole bathtub for you to crawl around in. And you are so much fun to watch, I can tell you that. You have closely observed me blowing onto your food when I made it a tad too hot, and promptly copied me when I was about to put a spoon into your mouth - with the result that the table and I were covered in goo all over. And I couldn't stop laughing. You don't much like the sippy cup, in fact, you don't like it at all, so your fluid intake is a bit questionable. It is on my to do list to find a solution to this problem ASAP. Your foot has finally found your mouth - and finally we have taken on a new nursing position with you sitting on my lap, facing me, instead of laying sideways across my lap.

So many developments in just one paragraph. I am sorry that I am not too detailed, but with all these things happening this month, this entry would be endless.

But before I end this with my proclamations of my eternal undying immense love for you, I certainly cannot forget to mention your "life celebration", which has taken place this month:

It was set on the 14th of June, in the beautiful setting of the "life tree circle" on a hill high above the city of Vienna. Quite a spiritual place, if you are sensitive to such things. Each tree in the circle stands for a birthday, much like the Signs of the Zodiac. Your life tree happens to be the walnut tree, so naturally we chose that one to celebrate around. We were quite afraid that the weather wouldn't hold. The week leading up to your ceremony was cold and rainy - and we seriously considered postponing your party. And tell over 20 people to come a week later! Impossible! Naturally, I was under a lot of stress, which ended with me calling the central weather station and have a weatherman guarantee me on the phone that it wasn't going to rain during your celebration!

All my worries were unnecessary, however. It turned out to be a beautiful day: not too hot, not too cold. And certainly no rain. You were dressed in a beautiful beige dress with a white blouse, which I had purchased on eBay for a riduculously small price. I had put a white bow into your hair, and you were wearing your first ever set of shoes, a pair of white sandals, for the first time, too. In other words: you were impossibly adorable as usual.

The ceremony was very beautiful! Antonio, the spiritual ceremony master, has done a really outstanding job. We were all gathered around your "life tree", the walnut, seated on the lower benches of the amphitheatre. Your Tio#E and Git were making the music, him playing the guitar and her singing along. A bit off-key at times, but heck! I wholeheartedly admire her guts to sing in front of everybody to no end! Your Tio#E even wrote a song just for you, a text with a melody, more like it. Your Daddy and I were reading the text in both Spanish and German while your Tio#E was playing along a tune... very touching. I managed to get through about two thirds of it before choking up. You Daddy did a lot better job than me, I can tell you that!

Your Godmother Auntie#K held a little speech, and gave you a wooden box as a gift: to be filled with memories of you and her together as your life unfolds. Beautiful! Your Tia#R made your candle for you, designed it and executed it all by herself. I didn't realize it, but apparently there has been a little accident involving too much heat in the car and the candle, which reduced her to tears when she saw it before the ceremony, poor girl! She put so much effort into it, but thankfully no real damage has been done. I can't wait to light it on your first birthday - which suddenly isn't very far away anymore at all!

And everybody participated in your ceremony: I had given a piece of paper, cut in the shape of a walnut, to every guest a couple of weeks before your big day and asked them to write down a life-wish for you on it. Meanwhile your Daddy did a great job cutting the shape of a tree from a wooden plate, and an amount of walnuts, onto which your guests' paper nuts were to be glued. I glued colored paper all over your tree and the nuts to finish it, and we had the whole thing tied to the real walnut tree during your ceremony. And then everybody went ahead, stood in front of us, read their wish out loud and then glued their nut onto your tree. It was very touching, very personal, and the centerpiece of your ceremony. Your tree will be fixed onto the wall in room sometime soon, a permanent reminder of this day and all the loving family and friends that you have.

And then - imagine! It was a LOT of work, a LOT of stressing over, but we made EVERYBODY fit into our apartment! I didn't think it was at all possible - but we borrowed all chairs and a couple of tables from Git and Bo, along with nearly ALL of their dishes - and we made it happen! It was a crazy mess, but comfortable! I couldn't believe how many people - almost 30! - found room in our apartment. Of course, if it would have rained and we wouldn't have been able to place two of the tables outside onto the balcony, it would have been impossible. But we were so lucky! Everything about this day was great - and it all happened because of YOU, little girl. Everybody came to see YOU, and love on you. You made it all possible.

With you, EVERYTHING seems possible.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Seven Months

As I am typing this, I am sitting in my nice, big comfortable reclining rocking chair, my feet up on the footrest, and my elbows on the armrests, that are just a tad bit too high to be comfortable. That is, because this is our nursing chair and those armrests are designed to comfortably cradle a baby while holding it to the boob, but that is besides the point. YOU, on the other hand, are in your bed beside me, and you are supposed to SLEEP. Instead, you prefer moving around all over your bed, peering through the bars and making cute faces at me, trying to get my attention. And when you do get it, you crack into a wide smile. You also seem to think that this is a good time to practice your newly acquired skill of standing on all fours and wiggling back and forth, so whenever I look over to you I either see you smiling brightly at me, or I see your big diapered butt wiggling around. Your Daddy, who has been bringing you to bed lately almost exclusively, claims that this new method of just sitting next to you and letting you monkey around until you get tired enough to fall asleep is actually working. "No sense in fighting her to sleep", he said. I suppose he is right with that, but right now I can't quite imagine you suddenly knocking out, either. In fact, I am a bit annoyed, because after you were done with your bottle and I successfully burped you, you fell asleep in my arms immediately, just as if I had switched you off. As soon as I had then put you down into your bed you were right awake again, gearing up to turn sleepy time into a big ol' party - which pretty much sums up this last month of your life:

Sleep has become your new enemy, that one big thing that has to be avoided and fought off at all costs. You haven't napped in your room a single time this month, because every time I carried you there after you have fallen asleep, your mattress-sensor must have switched on, telling you to WAKE! UP! once you have made contact with the bed. So I have switched to just letting you nap on the couch as you were, lest you wouldn't get any daytime sleep at all - a circumstance which this month has become MY new enemy, the one big thing that has to be avoided and fought off at all costs. Combine a TIRED baby with one that's going through the discovery that Mommy can actually walk away, and will scream and holler when Mommy does so for more than 3 steps, you can imagine how part of this month went over for me. I am sorry to say, but you can have quite a temper, and you have been quite a handful this month. I think it was a combination of a growing spurt, the realization that I could, theoretically, leave you and never come back when I go to the bathroom, and your immense frustration at wanting more than you can do.

The latter tapered off quite a bit towards the end of the month, though. The two big things that happened were that you were suddenly able to hold yourself in a sitting position all by yourself (for a brief period of time), and that you figured out how to push yourself up on all fours! This actually started to happen about a week ago. You started to work on pushing yourself up with your hands, and it only worked when you had your feet against the wall, against which you could push. And once you had this figured out without your arms giving way beneath you again, you suddenly (and to me it seems like it was only 2 days later) you did it without needing the wall to support your knees from sliding away. And yet another day or two later suddenly you were up on all fours even on the slippery hardwood floor, not just on your rubber play mat! It's so amazing to watch you figuring things out, and watching you practice so determinedly until you have mastered something. The next step, I guess, will be you figuring out how to actually move forward from this position, because right now you seem stuck, kind of unsure what to do next when you are up - so you just wiggle back and forth, giggle, and then slide back on your tummy again, only to do it all over again!

That's not to say you are still immobile, though. You haven't covered a lot of ground yet, but everytime I put you down somewhere and I look back on you a minute later, you are about a meter away from where I actually had you, and I still haven't really seen how you do it. You are not quite army-style crawling yet, so I guess you just turn over and over until you have rolled and wiggled to where you want to be at.

And this rolling and wiggling business? It's driving me nuts, because you also keep it up while you sleep. Not only are you refusing to sleep properly, and wake up in the middle of the night again way before you SHOULD, but when your Daddy gets you to come spend the rest of the night with us, you wiggle and move and kick and push, all the while whimpering discontentedly, like you cannot find a position that suits you. To me it seems that only when you lay in a 90° angle between your Daddy and I, kicking one of us in the chest while pinching the other one into their nipple, you are satisfied. Opposable thumbs are a great thing, aren't they, Baby Girl? Especially after having mastered control over them... the uses to which you put them HURT more often that not, especially while being assaulted by them in the middle of the night, deeply asleep. Pinching seems to be your newest favorite thing to do. Almost everytime you touch us now it is such that you deliberately find the smallest amount of skin possible to put between your thumb and index finger and then to execute the most amount of pressure that you are capable of on that small fold of skin. Either that, or you go at it all out with your whole palm and then just squeeze. It's outright painful, it's highly annoying, and I have no way to make it clear to you that this HURTS and for you to STOP doing this. My loud "OWWWW"s don't really impress you at all, you either give me a bewildered look or a friendly smile, and then just keep right at it. I hope that this, like everything else, is just a PHASE...

And speaking of favorite new things to do... your grandpa has taught you how to pick up your own things after you have gleefully tossed them down on the floor. He's holding you by the hips while lowering you to the floor, where you eagerly grab for your fallen toy and when he lifts you up again you have the biggest grin on your face. So you do it again. And again. And again. And you never get tired of it. Unfortunately for us, you do not limit this game to your grandpa, but now everybody gets to have their turn. I guess I shouldn't complain about the exercise?

In other big news, you have eaten your first green veggies, and later on your first meat. So far, you still like everything I am putting into your mouth, and so I have finally started to give you a portion of fruit in the afternoon. Apples and bananas. And whenever you are done, you are asking for more. Sadly for me, you do not seem too interested in the boob anymore. That is to say, you still cry for it and make all the motions, but you do not latch on for very long anymore, take a few sips, and then get distracted by something - and I am talking about such exciting things like a handkerchief that's lying on the couch next to me, or a speck of dust. It feels to me like you only want to nurse for comfort and contact anymore, but you get all your nutritial needs out of the solids that I am feeding you, and that one time that you are nursing in the middle of the night. It makes me sad, I hope that our nursing times are not quite over just yet.

So, your Daddy had his 29th birthday this month, and to celebrate, him and I went out by ourselves for the first time since your birth. Your grandparents stayed to babysit you for the first time - a HUGE milestone! It was very weird to leave you behind, a bit awkward to be just your Dad and I for a while, and I was very worried that you might cry for me and I wasn't able to come for you and comfort you. Don't get me wrong - I was completely comfortable in the knowledge that my parents were watching over you, they have brought ME up after all, so who would be better suited? But still, a mother leaving her baby behind for the first time, that's a worrisome experience as a whole. We went to watch a movie, a rather mediocre one at that, and that dreaded phone call never came. We made it home around 11:30PM, to my parents watching TV and you being peacefully asleep in your room. What a success! The week after we had to repeat it, because your Daddy and I had to attend to the vernissage of an exhibition that he and I have designed and organised for the Mexican Embassy. I was comfortable, knowing how well it went the other night. This time it was just your grandma, as grandpa accompanied us to the vernissage. Well, let's just say that just after the opening ceremony that phone call came after all: you were crying, inconsolably, and refusing your bottle from your grandma's hands. We were never home faster - and we found your disshevelled desperate grandmother and a completely soaked-in-tears you, who broke into the biggest relieved smile at the sight of us! It melted my heart!

It is really amazing how you are responding to us now. Your Daddy coming home from work? You go into a smiling and kicking frenzy at his sight. Me telling you that you are about to get food and tieing your bib around your neck? You get all excited and slap the table with your hands. I move my wiggling fingers from high above my head down towards you chanting "tickle spider", and you start thrashing about and grinning expectantly until I tickle you and you start giggling. You smile when somebody is looking at you, yet you already are very specific in who gets to see your beautiful smile and who doesn't. When you managed to sit by yourself for the first time and when you managed to get up on all fours for the first time, you were making sure you were stable, then looked at me and the smile on your face was nothing short of prideful. The look on your face clearly said: "LOOK, MOMMY! SEE WHAT I CAN DO???" You have even started to "sing" along: when one of your music toys goes off, you start excited and loud "wa-wa-wa"-ing as long as the music is playing, and you stop when it is over. It is simply amazing to see your reactions and responses!

I fall in love with you more and more every day, and even though I must admit that this month has been a bit difficult, I also have to say that you have learned so much and have turned into such a big little character, that this makes more than up for the bad times, my immense sleep deprivation, and all that damn pinching. I could just sit there and watch you endlessly when you play all by yourself on the floor, when you have moved yourself away from all your toys enough so that you can't reach them anymore, and then just settle yourself without toys, just laying there and babbling and talking to yourself. Watching you lay there almost motionlessly, only to see you breaking into a smile for no apparent reason at all, as if some funny thought has suddenly crossed your mind, or watching you watching your own reflection in the glass front of a cabinet in the living room, telling yourself what sounds like entire stories. There are not enough words in neither language I know that could describe properly how much I love you, and how much I enjoy my time with you, am looking forward to every day to see what new thing you will have learned and mastered.

And you have mastered a few more things this month, too. Banging toys together to figure out what sounds they make is one of them. Putting your pacifier back into your mouth all by yourself is another. I have upgraded to the next size pacifiers, and since I did, you were suddenly able to do this. To me that's a huge relief, because I don't always have to be there to do this for you. Only when we are in the car (our NEW car, imagine!), where you are now deemed to sit on the backseat, you scream up a storm when you lose the paci, just as if you have NO CLUE how to ever put this back into your mouth, so that I have to stop the car, turn around and give it back to you, only to have you spit it out not a minute later and start the screaming all over again.

I have also introduced the sippy cup, since you refused to drink water out of your bottle, and actually managed to take a few sips out of a real cup with my help. So I figured it was time for the sippy, and you have figured out the use of the handles immediately. Only the different opening was and is still giving you a bit of figuring out to do.

In terms of celebrating, this month has also seen my first Mother's Day, and your Great-Grandpa's 85th birthday. 85 years! You were so good at he big family celebration, I couldn't believe how patiently you were standing both the heat in the humid and stuffy restaurant and the hugs and kisses and touches from all those relatives, some of whom have never seen you before, or maybe only once yet. When we came home, I put you into the bathtub immediately: you were so grubby and dingy from all those people getting their hands on you, and the sweat drenching your clothes, but you were a real trooper, and everybody complimented your Daddy and I on our sweet and good little baby. And Mother's Day? Your Daddy got me a beautiful bracelet of which he said that you actually picked it out for me. Thank you, Baby Girl, you picked it well, I love it very much! :)

But there is nothing in this world that I love more than YOU.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Half a Year in Pictures

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Six Months - Half a Year!

I am a bit melancholy today. The first half year of your life has come and passed in a rush. In a blur, even. I remember how I tried to imagine this day half a year ago, how it seemed so far away, like an eternity. I tried to imagine how you'd look like as a 6 month old baby, and failed miserably, looking down onto the helpless tiny bundly of baby sleeping in my arms. 6 months always was some kind of magical marker in my head, some kind of imaginary milestone, some kind of borderline between wee little baby and... well... not-so-wee-anymore. Yet time has never gone by faster, and here I sit, having given birth practically last week, with a happy and always-friendly baby sleeping in her room in the back of the apartment, having just woken up with a shriek, because her teeth are bothering her!

Yes, you are teething now, and have been for a good couple of weeks, which makes for some restless nights, some grumpy days, and a clueless Mommy, who doesn't know how to comfort you, when all your teething aids aren't doing much to help you. You are needing a lot more physical contact now, and need either your Daddy or me to sit beside you until you fall asleep, or even want to be carried around until sleep finally overpowers you. You have even fallen asleep on my chest a week ago, while I was sitting in a café with Git, and you were too exhausted from crying in pain. I was floating on a cloud when you did - you rarely ever do that with me, and I was relishing the feeling of your warm small body snuggling into me for comfort. In fact, you fell asleep so deeply, that Git was able to wrap you into our carrying cloth around me, without you noticing a thing.

And your teeth? I can see them already shining through your bottom gums, but they don't seem inclined to cut through anytime soon. I hope for you and me both that I am wrong with this assessment, though.

Maybe the biggest and greatest news of last month is the beginning of you eating solids!!! We have started with a few spoons of carrots - and have since worked our way through potatoes, white carrots and pumpkins, and it seems that whatever vegetable I serve you next, it's your ABSOLUTE! NEW! FAVORITE! You are a passionate eater, have been from day one. It was so much fun to feed you for the first time, to watch your facial expressions, the surprise, the way you worked out how to deal with this spoon-thingy, and your eagerness to get more of this interesting new substance into your mouth. I was happy to see you liking it so much, and the fact that you seemed to know exactly what to do with your food and didn't push it out with your tongue reassured me, that I chose the right time to get you started, even though I didn't wait for you to be a whole six months old, as initially planned. By now you are eating one half glass every day at noon, and we even already bought you a high chair so you can sit at the table with us. You are holding yourself pretty well, but we are still stabilizing you with a blanket stuffed around you - just in case. And now it truly is the highlight of our day when we have dinner together with you on your high chair and a piece of dried bread inbetween us, a true family dinner for the first time. :)

In the mobility department I can say that you are progressing rapidly. What was not too long ago a true work out for you is now no effort to you anymore at all: you roll over from back to tummy and tummy to back like it's nothing, and in fact, as soon as we put you on your play mat onto your back we find you rolled around onto your tummy not a minute later. You are enjoying tummy-time a lot now, and I am most delighted to see you trying to work your knees beneath your butt now, in an effort to push yourself forwards to reach your toys. You haven't quite figured out the small technicality of having to move your front end as well in order to progress, you just push and shove with your feet and don't advance a millimeter for all your determination. Your chest and arms stay glued to the ground, and it's so much fun to watch you trying to get the hang of this crawling thing, endlessly patient with yourself.

You have, however, figured out that you can cover ground by rolling yourself over steadily into the same direction. Tummy - back - tummy - back, and before we realized what was going on you were far from your play mat, grinning widely! I am sure soon I will have to pry you out from underneath the couch, if you work on this new skill of yours some more!

In other news, I have signed you up for the kindergarten downstairs, in our apartment complex. It's the same kindergarten that Liz is signed up for, and I have settled your entry date for November 2009, shortly after your second birthday. The place is big and bright and friendly, and I got a very nice impression from the little tour that Git and I took through it. I am curious to see what our circumstances will be in 11/2009, to see if I am really going to go through with this, or wait just a little longer. It will really depend on whether I will be going back to work, or will be able to work from home, or if maybe even your sibling is already on the way by then.

Imagine, we have also finally managed to set up a meeting with the ceremonial master who is supposed to lead us through your "Life Celebration", as we like to call it. Life Celebration? Well, it'll basically be a baptism without you being baptized, or made part of a sect, or without any kind of religious mumbo-jumbo at all. It will be a celebration of you having joined us in this life, a celebration of life in general, and an official bringing-together of you with your "godmother" (for the lack of a better word), Auntie#K. We will celebrate in the "life tree circle" high above the city, in a large clearing of the forest, around your "life tree", the walnut. The ceremonial master used to be a Catholic Monk who has left the Catholic church because his personal beliefs were too free-spirited in order to fit into the rigid structure and dogmata of the Catholic curch, and he now calls himself a "spirtitual guardian". I was sceptical at first: with me being an atheist, your father being highly spiritual and your Auntie#K being a Catholic, how would we ever manage to find a common ground that our "spiritual guardian" could agree with, too? However, we were all very positively surprised after our meeting, and I am sure that it will be a memorable event. And today, as a matter of fact, I have started to work on the invitations! Things are coming together - slowly, but finally.

Baby Girl - this past half year has been the most beautiful of my life so far, despite the sleepless nights and the loss of my so-called "independence" of my life before you. I am happiest when I am with you, I am melting to a puddle on the floor whenever you smile or giggle or give an all-out belly laugh, and every day brings on a new excitement when we see what you have in store for us now. You are becoming more and more of a personality, you have a wide range of facial expressions available to us now, and the way you use them and practise more, and push further every day, make you cuter and more adorable by the day. So even if I am a bit melancholy that now you are TRULY no longer our wee little BABY, I can see that the next half year will be even more exciting than the last one, with all those leaps and bounds you are going through in your development. I can hardly wait to see what's going to happen next.

You are the best thing that ever happened to your Daddy and me, you truly are. We love you 'till eternity and back, you are the world to us.

Thank you for being you.

Love, endlessly,

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Five Months

Cutiepie! Time for my monthly update on you again! If I keep on repeating just how much time flies with you, I'd slowly but surely sound like a broken record, and an annoying one at that - but it is just so true! And how big you have gotten! Since your birth you have grown a whole 10 centimeters - just about a full head - and we have very recently switched your clothes-size yet again. Well, a lot of your 62 pieces still fit, but your pants we definitely had to size up to 68 already. I sorted through the mountain of your clothes, to return your first size of 56 back to Git, who is so kindly lending us all of her baby clothes and saves us a ton of money, and when I saw all those 56 onesies again, I couldn't believe just how small you once were. And now you are almost half a year old.

This month has seen the first tender beginnings of your mobility! It all started on the second day of your fifth month, when you turned over for the first time. I had put you on your tummy onto your play mat on the floor, and was sitting there with you, watching you play. Your Daddy was cooking, when all of a sudden I saw this concentrated look on your face. I called for your Daddy's attention, and just when he turned to look, you were in motion already, landing on your back, looking a bit surprised yourself. I immediately turned you onto your tummy again to see if you'd do it again. I remember that once you had turned over already, but because you didn't balance well on your elbows and your heavy head just set you in motion without any conscious effort. Well - this time it was, cause as soon as I had you on your tummy again, you rolled over one more time! And about a week later you then managed to turn from your back onto your tummy. For a couple of weeks then you weren't really happy with the result of your rolling, seeing as your arm always got stuck beneath you, but soon you have figured out how to pull it from underneath you as well.

Since then it has been a true blast watching you while you are on the floor on your mat, surrounded by all your toys. You can now reach for and grab pretty much everything within your reach - and even a bit beyond, since you have learned to do a full circle on the floor, turning sideways and pushing yourself forward with your feet. I was really surprised to find you laying 180° opposite to how I had put you down one day, and back the way I had initially put you only a few minutes later. And with all this legs-in-the-air-and-rolling-around-business you have also finally acknowledged the existence of your feet! You haven't yet tried to pull them into your mouth, and you also haven't managed yet to pull your socks off, but you are constantly holding on to your feet now, when no other toy is available.

It is amazing to see how much you are making yourself an active part of our daily life now. You are no longer content just sitting on our laps anymore, oh no! Nothing is safe of your explorations anymore, you want to get your hands onto everything, and everything needs to go into your mouth for further inspection! While sitting on our laps by a table, you lean forward and reach for everything in front of you: cell phones, plates, bowls, your pacifier, your tea bottle, the power cable of my laptop, even my laptop itself! You want to touch everything, figure out the feel and texture of everything. And once you have done that, you drop it onto the floor. And again. And again - and again! And what a contemplative baby you are. For the most part you wear your face in a concentrated frown, with a little fold between your eyebrows, examining everything you can get your little hands on very thoroughly, much like a scientist would with this really rare beetle. You turn things this way and that, put them in your mouth to taste them, then continue to look at them from all angles. You never seem to get tired of this. You shake them, pass them from one hand into the other, look at them some more. It's fascinating to watch your fascination with the world. And you do the same thing with the whole of your environment: you quietly observe everything that's going on around you, making me wonder a lot what's going on inside your beautiful little head. I can almost see the little wheels in your brain spinning, and I love to fantasize that you will NOT turn out to be a destructive little whirlwind soon, but a contemplative and thoughtful smart little girl who's trying to understand her world rather than destroying it.

This month has also seen your first real interaction with another baby. Since your exchange with other babies has mostly consisted of hysterical crying whenever a bigger-than-you baby tried to establish contact, respectively complete disregard of their existence, I was very surprised to see that this month you have actually acknowledged Lee, and extended your explorations in her direction as well. We had a blast when we held you and Lee opposite of each other, and both of you started to reach your little hands out towards each other and started to feel the other one with real interest. This one particular first incident ended with your fingers stuck into Lee's mouth who sucked on them like they were the next best thing to her pacifier, which was when the fun was kind of over for you. With all that is good an righteous: your fingers belong to you!

This really made me look forward to warmer temperatures, when you and Lee will be able to crawl, and actually play together outside in the yard!

Vocally, you have really picked it up a notch too. Shrieking has become your new favorite thing to do, and you do it so loudly and proudly, that my ears are ringing more often than not these days. You also do this weird kind of cry, that sounds like a laugh, and you are making it so that I can't tell from your facial expression, if it is actually the one or the other. I am starting to think that you have figured me out, figured out how to get my attention: I think you make this particular noise sound like a cry to make me look at you, and when I do you keep up the noise but crack into a smile, and then kind of draw out the sound until it matches the look on your face and it sounds like a laugh - until you run out of air. It's confusingly cute!

It also happened this month that you made yourself quite present out in public, particularly this one time at Starbucks with your Tio#E. You were sitting on my lap contentedly, making soft babbling noises - until the soft noises weren't so soft anymore, and people actually turned to look at you! I was very uncomfortable seeing as this was the first time that you actively drew attention towards you, and I nervously tried to read peoples' expressions as they looked at you: annoyance or approval? It seemed to be the latter, however, seeing as you really weren't making any unpleasant noises.

And speaking of your Tio#E - for now things seem to have sorted themselves out: he's moved back in with your Tia#R. For better or worse, I guess. I am curious about what the future holds for them.

In more family matters: you are becoming a cousin!!!! FINALLY your Uncle Bern has called with the good news! Your Auntie Bee is pregnant, I got the phone call pretty much before her pee dried on the pregnancy test they were so excited! And I am excited too! It's not the first time you are becoming a cousin - as a matter of fact, our family is full of second cousins to you, and in all honesty I don't even know how many. Most of them are on your grandmommy's side of the family, a branch of our family tree with which we have practically no contact whatsoever. We have a little more contact with my cousin W on your granddaddy's side, who has a daughter already and is expecting a second child in August - but the contact doesn't really extend much beyond family gettogethers and occasional instances where I have to fix his computer. As far as first cousins are concerned - well, Tia#R and Tio#E are VERY unlikely to ever produce offspring in this constellation... and your Uncles and Aunt on your Mexican side are too young altogether, all of them still being teenagers. But Bern and Bee, that's a whole different story. Before you were on the way we spent a lot of time together, far off any family gettogethers, since those rarely happen anymore on your grandmommy's side of the family. We are swimming on a very similar wavelength, and I can imagine that their kid and you will grow close as cousins - at least I hope so, and I will try to make it happen. Let's wish for the best for Bee's pregnancy!

What else... your Tio and Tia's little dog Cipi has started to become really interesting to you... it's a tiny bouncing barking ball of energy, and you can spend ages just watching him zoom about. You reach out for him, but he's still too quick for you, so you just try to follow him with your eyes, and your head jerks back and forth as he zooms by. No smile will steal upon your lips, but your face is occupied with this look of utter wonder at that dog's many antics. Once you actually managed to grab his leg and held on to it, like he was some really interesting toy of yours, and I was afraid of him maybe snapping at you, for he isn't exactly friendly with children. But to my and your Tia's surprise, he didn't even growl, just tried to pull away from you. That's good to know that this little dog has accepted you as a part of his pack, and a higher-ranking one at that.

Oh, and have I mentioned yet that your father and uncle are now renting an atelier for their serigraphy art? It's something that your Dad has always wanted, something like a dream come true. It's a place in the inner city, an artist's community of sorts, a comlete chaos, a clutter of things, but very inspiring at any rate. Unfortunately that also means even less time with your Daddy - but he's really trying hard to make us some extra cash with his art. He's getting his own exhibition in June, imagine! A whole gallery just for his art - so you can imagine how much work he has to put into this project. All for the greater good of the family, I guess...

Let's wish your Daddy luck that he can get it all done on time... and you go ahead and enjoy the last month in the first half year of your life!

I love you endlessly,

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Four Months

Where has time gone to... what happened to my tiny little newborn baby? I cannot believe that you are four months old today! I thought back on when your Daddy and I introduced you to our neighbors, Git and Bo - you were a wee few days old and their daughter Liz was as old as you are today, and I remember thinking: "What a huge baby!" Well, now you are the huge baby. Considering how I was able to follow Liz' development since, and how she is now sitting and crawling and pulling herself up to stand, I cannot help but wonder how soon you will start to become such a mobile little person yourself. How time flies!

This month I have started to find direct comparison to become very interesting. You are now at the age where new things are learned and are happening almost on a daily basis, so it is no wonder how Ann and I are constantly comparing you and Lee - who is just 11 days older than you are. Don't get me wrong, it is not like we have our babies "compete" against each other - I just find it fascinating to see how different each baby develops: Lee is able to hold her own bottle while drinking, and manages to put her pacifier back into her own mouth the correct way. You are more talented in the less detailed, but more strength-requiring tasks, which I will come to in a bit. What I find most fascinating about this is that already you are an individual: you do things your way and at your own pace, and there is nothing more interesting than to watch and wonder about what's coming next.

And speaking of your personality: this month has seen your first conscious act of rebellion against us! Your Daddy and I are very adamant about you not watching TV. I usually don't have it on anymore during the day, but when we do, we try to make sure that you don't get to look into it. So you were sitting on your Daddy's lap as he was watching something, holding his hand up in front of your face, so you wouldn't be able to take a peek. This didn't sit right with you whatsoever, so we were STUNNED to see you suddenly lean forward - just enough to be able to see past his hand and the direct line between you and the TV wasn't obstructed anymore. Flabbergasted, your Daddy moved his hand to cover your vision again, and you repeated your little trick: you leaned forward some more and looked past his hand again! To us, this was your first conscious attempt (and success!) at logical problem solving! Simply amazing!

For certain the very best thing this month has brought on though was your first real laugh. I heard it only a few days into your fourth month, as I was playing airplane with you. Holding you high above my head I suddenly heard it: apparently this was finally too much for you to handle with only a wide silent grin, and you gave a short but oh-so-beautiful laugh - and then you did it again. Again I had reason to break into a flood of happy tears, which was the way I welcomed your Daddy at home only 2 minutes later - he missed it by a mere two minutes...

Unfortunate as this was, you soon made up for it though, as your laugh became more and more frequent, and he got to hear it very soon after this for himself. A sure way to bring it on has since been your Daddy making faces at you - and soon you have gone from these short laughs to real laughing spells, the first of which I heard while you and your Daddy were bathing together. He was making faces at you while I was sitting in the living room, when I suddenly heard you laughing hard, and continuously! I grabbed our camera and dashed into the bathroom to see you having the time of your life at your Papa's silly faces. I am so happy that I was able to capture this on camera, your very first real all-out laugh.

Very soon after this came delighted squealing when we make you bounce or "fly" or shower you in kisses, and sometimes you seem to be doing this even for no other purpose than to hear yourself doing it, which is a blast to hear. And just when I thought this couldn't get any better and any more fun, two days ago you gave your first true hearty giggle during a particularly wild kissy-attack from me! I almost fell off the couch laughing when you did it, it was so much fun! Keep on being this happy and content baby, my love, who sees reason to smile or laugh or even giggle at almost everything! Keep this attitude while you grow, and when you are grown up - keep your ability to smile, truly and honestly smile, just the way you so innocently do now. And tonight? Tonight when I came into your room when I heard you becoming a bit cranky with your Daddy, and you started to grin with your whole face as soon as you saw me for the first time ever, tonight you made me the happiest person on this planet. I will always remember this moment, for as long as I will live.

Overall, we have seen a lot of new developments in your vocal abilities. You seem to love to experiment with your voice, and to listen to yourself doing it. Not only are you having "conversations" now, during which you intently mimick the way we speak by changing and varying the shape of your mouth while you coo, like a speaking person does, you also have figured out how to make bubbles with your spittle, which seems to has become your favorite pastime now. You combine your spit-bubbles with different vocal-intonations, and integrate them into your "conversations" as well. And most astoundingly: you have gone from simply listening to me singing to you to actually "singing" along with me... it now usually goes like this: you break into a wide gum-showing grin when I start to sing, then you listen to me for a while with a concentrated look on your face, then you start to coo in a really high-pitched voice along with me. It is the cutest thing, and it really encourages me to keep up my singing, and really forget the fact that I cannot sing whatsoever. As long as you enjoy it, I enjoy it too!

Also, your drooling has taken a turn for the worst, now! I will not let you spend a day without a bib anymore, lest I have to change your shirt about three times a day. You drool relentlessly and extensively, making me wonder if we will soon see your first tooth peeking through. You munch on everything you can get into your mouth, and you seem to get the most enjoyment (- relief?) from your own hands. You don't try to fit your whole fist (or both) into your mouth anymore, but only shove two or three fingers in anymore, and then you spend hours on any given day doing some serious chomping on them. I really wouldn't be surprised to see a tooth soon, even though it would strike me as really early for this to happen.

And speaking of early? You have started to want nothing but stand anymore when you are on anyone's lap. As soon as we sit you down on our knees facing us, you push your little feet into our tummies and pull yourself into a standing position - all by yourself - and all we need to do with our thumbs, which are tightly clasped by your fists, is to balance you. You do all the rest yourself. We are not pulling, you do all the pushing. And you are strong enough already to hold yourself like this for a while without your feet giving in. And as soon as you fall back on your butt, you try again - and again, and again, with serious determination that culmiates in the widest of grins when you stand there, full of excited praise from me or your Daddy! And when we hold you hovering above the floor or the couch, so that your toes barely and very slightly touch the ground, you start making walking motions... how much of this is still the walking reflex you were born with, and how much of this is actual "practicing", I cannot say, but proud Mommy that I am I tend to believe it is the latter. If it were up to you, you'd be running around the apartment all by yourself already! ;)

We have also been to a 2-day babyswimming class, together with Ann and Lee and Git and Liz. It was a great experience - for us as well as for you, that was obvious. You enjoyed the water a lot, some exercises more than others, even though I could tell that at very first you weren't sure what to make of all of this. As I carried you into the pool and the water started to engulf you, I felt you turning stiff as a board in my arms, with a look on your face that was closer to tears than anything else, but you were staring into my face, waiting for my own reaction to this new experience. Clearly waiting for reassurance. As soon as I smiled brightly at you, I felt you relax and give this new experience a chance... and soon I saw you enjoying yourself tremedously! The only thing I refused to do was to deliberately put you under water - holding-your-breath-reflex or not, it didn't feel right to do this to. Here you are, trusting me with all your heart, and there I go dunking your head under water on purpose? I don't think so. You will learn how to swim under water all by yourself, and when you are ready to, and whether or not I will have put you under as a baby will not make the slightest difference, thank you very much. All in all though this was a great experience, and I hope to keep it up with you at the pool at your great-grandparents', where they have warm water days every Tuesday.

The week after this we have met Ann and Lee again for a free baby massage unit, which you also seemed to have enjoyed a lot. Me, I didn't really learn too many new things, seeing as most of the techniques taught were things I was doing instinctively with you for many weeks already anyway, after your daily bath.

And speaking of your daily bath: you now recognize your bottle, and practically ask for it, giving your Daddy and me a whole of 5 minutes time between getting you out of the water and getting you dried off and dressed and placed on your Dad's lap with the bottle in his hand before you loudly proclaim your disapproval with us! After-bath time has turned from this drawn-out playing/snuggle/massage/play-time to a race to get you to your bottle before the screaming starts!

What else... so much is happening now, that I actually have to consult my list of notes to finish this letter accurately. If I don't keep tabs on what's happening and what you are learning, I would miss out on so many things, I couldn't possibly remember them all!

Let's see... you have taken your first walk alone with your grandma. She took you for a walk to see your great-grandma for her birthday in your stroller, where you coincidentally also met another Aunt and cousin of yours. It was weird for me to know you were out and about without me or your Dad, but I guess it's all a learning process, for me more than anybody else. Your grandma for sure enjoyed your little stroll. You have also been home alone for the first time last week, when we were invited for a Saturday night "out" next door with Git and Bo - we left you behind sleeping and only took the baby monitor with us. Worked like a charm, considering that your room is right adjacent to their living room! It was the first time your Daddy and I were out by ourselves ever since your birth! We also took you all the way up to the spinning restaurant on Danube Tower - the very last of our wedding gifts to consume. You behaved very well, allowing for your Daddy and I enjoy a rather romantic brunch, something that was given to us long before you were a part of our lives! We enjoyed this a lot, having you up there with us, and showing you our city from 150 m above ground level, at marvelous weather conditions and clear sight for kilometers on end! You have also received a VERY large package from your abuelita in Los Angeles: clothes, beautiful summer dresses, toys... and a few Spanish boos from your Tio#E from his vacation to Los Angeles!

However, this month didn't only see good times, unfortunately. For you, and our family as well. You have received your first shot at you last doctor's visit. I felt horrible having to put you through this and trying to console you afterwards - an almost impossible task. I have accidentally cut your finger while clipping your nails - which sent you into a brief but intense screaming fit that lasted for about a minute before you smiled into my face again... I was much harder to console after this than you, I almost cried myself, and finally had to be reprimanded by your grandfather not to make this bigger than it really is. I felt horrible having hurt you, and seeing you cry because of something I did!

And, above all, this month sadly has seen your Tia#R and your Tio#E split and end their marriage, a fact which has cast a big shadow over family life in those past weeks. I am very upset over seeing you probably losing your uncle before you really had a chance to get to know him and get to have fun with him - I guess the next month will see a decision over him remaining in the country or going back home. I strongly wish that you will still get your chance with him - he is a great person and could be a great enrichment in your life. Let's see how the dice will roll.

What a long letter this month, my love! I assume they will get longer and longer as you grow and learn new things faster and faster! Life with you has been so much fun and has been so uncomplicated and easy with you this month, I am very eager and curious to see what the next one will hold in store for us!

Keep it up, little sunshine, keep up the smiles and the laughter! We love you to no end!