Thursday, October 30, 2008

In the leaves

One benefit of our unfortunate loss of the elm tree is that the maple foliage is now better displayed. It's a good year for fall colors out here! We're going to do some pumpkin carving tonight to get ready for our brisk business in trick-or-treaters tomorrow. Audrey's got her pumpkin costume and matching socks ready; very handy that the costume is, itself, a warm coat since it's been getting down into the freezing temps at night. Pumpkin will be nice and toasty-- and will be in bed before most of the tricker-treaters show up anyway.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Words, and a short history of Nell the parrot.

Along with the first steps, there are Audrey’s first words. She is all expressive intent this month, and it helps that her parents constantly—one might even say obsessively—encourage her communications. There is plenty of pointing and clapping, and a little bit of signing (“milk” and “more”). Her vocabulary is growing fastest in the Barnyard Animal sounds department, but there are also practical terms.

What does the [fill in animal] say?
  • Chicken: BOK!
  • Cow: Mmmmmmmmmmm
  • Dog: Ooof, ooof!
  • Lion: Blah! (with tongue out)
  • Snake: Ssssss (hard sound when you have only five widely spaced teeth)
  • Owl: Ooooooooooooooo.
Uh-oh: the original utterance is still a popular choice.
Cheese: pronounced “cheece,” also indicates keys and geese.
Audrey: pronounced "Audie" or "Ah-Dah"
Shoe: Djoo
Book: Boh
Diaper: Dia-Pah
Who’s that?: Hoe dah? (with palms upturned and eyebrows arched)

Now, about the parrot.

When Audrey is working hard to get my attention by using some of these words, I’m reminded of Nell, a neurotic but charming African grey parrot I once knew. Words seem to be much more about getting our attention than about specific meanings, which I think was how language mostly worked for Nell. (Human language anyway; who knows what she said to other parrots.) Audrey, like Nell, recognizes that her keepers do all kinds of entertaining tricks if she throws a word or two at us. For example, when Audrey wakes up from a nap I often hear her on the baby monitor saying “Uh-oh?...... Uh-oh?.....Uh-oh?”

Nell the parrot lived at the aviary in SLC where I hail from, and to get the attention of her favorite bird keeper (who was an acquaintance of mine) she would start performing portions of her bird show—like sneezing and coughing or making the sound of a ringing telephone. She particularly did this when she was stressed or excited, which was pretty near all the time. Nell was a minor celebrity at the aviary but, like many African greys, she was incredibly sensitive and had a lot of nervous breakdowns during which she lived at her keeper’s apartment so she could get herself back together. Audrey is much sturdier of constitution than poor Nell, but she seems to regard me—the resident bird keeper—in much the same way. I almost always show up when called, and I am especially alert to the command “Uh-oh!"

Audrey Aloft in August

This is one from the photo session we did back in the summer. Just thought you'd all enjoy this one today.

Friday, October 24, 2008

She walks! (after a fashion)

Tonight she actually walked straight across the living room from me to Scott. Most of the time it's just a few steps, then tip over. But she can stand independently for longer and longer stretches of time, and she seems determined-- and surprisingly patient-- with the walking.

As you can hear in the video, Scott has learned to say "keys" and "cheese" over and over again. It's really cute. Sometimes Audrey says it with him, but mostly it's just him. He's really precocious!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Walk in the leaves with pumpkin

The brochure says not to walk on the grass or sit on the tombstones, but we weren't being disrespectful. Were we?

We wanted to give Audrey's Halloween costume a try and take some pictures for the grandparents.

She tried to eat these leaves shortly after we took this picture.

Audrey doesn't so much give kisses as hold her face out to receive them. Still, cute.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

"That's a wild baby. And she has boy hair."

...wise and honest commentary from four-year-old Oscar who was watching Audrey pull down a whole shelf of board books at his house. He is right, on both points. Her hair is growing straight down into her eyes right now and we aren't sure what to do about it. We'd like to just let it grow but she won't tolerate barrettes. Or rather, she loves barrettes-- as chewy snacks.

This hair-cut issue is such a loaded topic. I remember being mistaken for a boy when I was little because I had close-cropped "pixie" hair and much as I would like to be impervious to all of that gender nonsense now, I'm slightly annoyed to be told what a handsome boy Audrey is, just because she's wearing overalls. And people are so mortified if you answer a question like "What's his name?" by saying, "Actually her name is Audrey," like I'm going to be terribly offended by their mistake. From now on, I'm eliminating pronouns from my speech when I say anything at all about a baby. I'm just going to say, "Your child looks so happy. And you appear well-rested and neatly dressed. If there's any spit-up on your sweater, I certainly can't see it!"

That's all a new mother really wants to hear anyway, if I may speak for us all.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Walk at Walden

"Simplify, Simplify!" (printed on t-shirts in the Walden Pond gift shop, we kid you not.)

Looking sideways at a chipmunk...

Good fall weather today, so we took a walk around Walden Pond and enjoyed the peace and solitude along with the 900 or so other walkers who converged on the pond at the same time.

Tomorrow being our second anniversary we also stopped by the Pierce House where we were hitched, but Audrey had fallen asleep in the car so we didn't get out. Just watched a crew taking down someone else's wedding tent. Brisk business in the wedding sector right now. October is the new June of course.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

All right! All right! All right!

Gramma Jean politely demands more video of her grandbaby so we bring you some of tonight's footage. I have to admit that two things (at least) embarrass me about this clip. Number one, our living room is a fright. And number two, it appears that I can't address Audrey except by speaking in shrill questions??!! Just put that on my tab with all the other stuff I swore I'd never do.

She's never done this assisted-walking thing before tonight.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A few more birthday picts

The consummate hostess, Audrey invites guests to browse among the toys.

Yes, I know there's a big wedge of shadow on her face. Pretend I meant it like that.

See the cake in the corners of her mouth? And the tiny fires in her eyes lit by high fructose corn syrup?

I'm surprised to find no more pictures of my mom on the camera from this week, but I guess mom was busy taking a lot of pictures and didn't get into as many herself this visit. I think, despite the lack of photographic evidence, she had a good time. Audrey certainly loved having the attention, games, singing, kisses, adoration....

Audrey has her cake

Above, Audrey looks on in quiet amazement (or horror) as we sing "Happy Birthday" with friends. Ruth, whom you may remember from way back at the baby shower for providing expert help in unwrapping packages, was again on hand to-- you guessed it-- unwrap presents, and to assist Audrey in blowing out candles.

Audrey often hangs back in social gatherings, and our small party was no exception; she'd rather watch from our laps. But she did get out on the dance floor for some DJ-mixing table bouncing and bobbing. And cake! Yes, she had a bit of cake. Not a whole lot, but enough to rev her small engines.

And no first year would be complete without a one-year pediatrician visit. For those interested in the stats, she's still a string bean coming in at 75% on height, 10% on weight. Healthy, normal, took her shots surprisingly calmly. Dr. says we need to start brushing her teeth.

So I submit my next question to our distinguished panel out there: how in the world do you brush a baby's teeth?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Baby is not so much a baby anymore (Or: Birthday hysteria, from Audrey's mother)

Opening prezzies...

Reading with Gramma Jean...

Eating cupcakes delivered by our friends. Audrey crumbled hers into the carpet.

So. Audrey turned one today. One. Astonishing. While Scott and I are still drafting the publishable-quality letters that we intend to write for Audrey on the occasion of her first birthday for her to unseal when she turns 18, here are a few of my less polished thoughts.

We put her to bed tonight, as usual, by reading her a story and then turning down the lights so I can feed her and let her fall asleep in my arms (I know, not according to best-laid sleep plans, but there you are, it's what works) and I felt as if she had grown a full year in an instant. Only a few minutes ago-- wasn't it?-- I was holding this limp, kidney-bean-colored creature who had been allowed to return home with us from Mt. Auburn. Scott felt for weeks that this could only have been the result of gross incompetence or clerical error on the part of the hospital staff, to release a newborn into our care. A newborn! To us! What were they thinking? And now here I was holding a nineteen pound one-year old, with bruised knees from crawling and some hummos stuck in her hair, who had just an hour before been making calls on her baby cell phone.

I miss the newborn reflex where they fling their arms out wide all of a sudden. I miss the tiniest of the tiny diapers. I do not miss getting into bed at 7:00 pm to try to collect at least five hours of sleep during the night, counting interruptions. I do not miss the breast pump. I miss her at one month, and two months and three months... I can't quite believe that those times are over already.

But now we are the parents of someone who knows how to hold hands, turn pages, eat cheerios, bestow kisses, growl like a lion, and dance. We will be missing this exact moment in her life soon enough, so we'll just try to pay attention to every detail and hope that she can forgive us for our bad writing when she opens those letters.