As promised, this will be a long one. There’s so much to catch up on, including two weeks worth of Mamatography photos.
Not only has a ton happened in our lives since I last had the opportunity to write a thorough update, but so very much has changed with Annabelle, too. The biggest change I have seen is with her play and her incredible imagination, but it seems like I notice something else every day.
On the 25th, we moved out of our house on Guam and into a hotel downtown, where we stayed while we sold our cars, tried to get in some time with friends, ran errands, and otherwise prepared to leave the island. That week in the hotel was necessary to get everything done, but it was not easy to keep Annabelle happy and engaged in interesting things. I was glad when it was over!
On the 1st, we left Guam and headed for Washington, D.C. The trip was mostly uneventful. It was wonderful, for once to have the daddy’s help on a flight, and Annabelle and I were both pros at surviving a long trip together already, so the added help made it totally manageable. I brought a pared down list of things, most of which had worked well for us on our last trip. We got to DC several hours later than expected due to some severe weather, so we were relieved when we finally made it to our hotel to crash.
The next morning, we drove into our new town, stopped by the farmer’s market, and finally got to scope out the new house in person. We checked things out here before heading off to get phones and try out some new restaurants, then spent one last night in a hotel. I was so very happy to make that our last one!
That next day we finally got to start setting things up in the house, making beds (an air mattress and a futon our landlords kindly left behind), and stocking the pantry and bathrooms with a few essentials. In the morning, the daddy would head off for his first day of work in D.C.
During the first part of the week, Annabelle and I focused on exploring the neighborhood and making things comfortable at home. There’s a great playground right nearby where the community play group meets three mornings a week, so we scoped that out and started finding our way around town. We washed and put away the things (cups, pots and pans, toys, and books, mostly) that our wonderful landlord had coordinated with the neighbors to loan to us while we wait for our shipment, and we slept. Oh, did we sleep.
On Wednesday afternoon, I had the long awaited first appointment with one of my midwives. After some of the experiences I’ve had during this pregnancy, I can’t tell you what a joy it was to welcome her into our home and have a slow, relaxed visit.
My natural-friendly OB on Guam was sweet to try to get a fetal heart rate with the fetoscope I purchased, since we wanted to avoid too much exposure to ultrasound waves via doppler, but she wasn’t ever successful. We weren’t worried, as this baby loves to move, but it was so sweet to see the smile on my midwife’s face when she picked up a strong and healthy heart rate, and to have her feel the baby’s position. I was already feeling good about having a homebirth, but now I’m looking forward to it so much more, knowing the baby and I will be in loving and capable hands. It’s already such an altogether different experience from the previous one, in the best way possible.
The rest of our time has been filled with more settling, more exploring, shopping for a car, buying birth supplies, and recovering from the jet lag. I’m happy to say that we recovered sleep-wise fairly easily and we have been thrilled by all the things we’re discovering in our new home. We’re finding so much for each one of us to do, and so many great resources right at our fingertips. We started off the week by taking Annabelle to her first “Rise and Rhyme,” which is a series of performances aimed at under fives that is being held at a local coffee shop/restaurant/venue called Busboys and Poets. It was so neat to see Annabelle among a group of children in a new environment like that. I love that there are so many explicitly kid friendly opportunities to expose her to music and culture.
I can’t believe how incredibly adaptable Annabelle has been throughout this entire process: watching nearly all of her belongings hauled away in a moving truck and then living in a nearly empty house for weeks only to leave said house after packing up what’s left of it and move to a hotel before flying across the world to another hotel and finally ending up in another nearly empty house. All of that, together with many schedule changes, and many days when the agenda involved far too little in the way of child-friendly activity, and I would have expected a far less settled child. She has put up with all of it, and with two stressed out parents. I couldn’t be more grateful! Of course there have been some very challenging moments, but not at all on the scale that I was expecting.
I’m not sure whether it’s the exposure to so many new people or places, or simply a natural unfolding, but she has suddenly become so friendly. We were exploring downtown this weekend and stopped in the grass very near the White House to have a quick snack. There was a steady stream of tourists walking by and Annabelle waved and said, “hi” to each one whether they looked her way or not. This from a child whose usual response to even the most friendly of new people has been silence. She has become quite social!
I have been so disappointed by how little we’ve been able to offer in terms of independence over the past few weeks. Our hotel was not equipped with step stools, of course, and our new kitchen is still waiting to be made child-friendly with the arrival of our Learning Tower and child-sized table. I am doing a lot of lifting up so that Annabelle can get on the potty, wash her hands, and so on. Despite it all, her independence has increased in a huge way. At the coffee shop performance, I sat back and sipped a latte at a table while Annabelle sat among children she had never seen before and took everything in. She preferred to be a quiet observer rather than a participant, but she was perfectly comfortable despite the unfamiliar situation.
While shopping for a car today, we happened upon a playroom in a dealership and Annabelle’s eyes lit up at the sight of all the toys. I opened the door so she could go inside and she did so eagerly, turning around only to say, “Mommy, walk away.” Well, okay then. She didn’t want to be hindered in her exploration, I suppose. Fortunately the room had all glass walls, so I was able to give her the distance she craved while also keeping an eye on things. She also loves going into the various rooms in our new house and their closets, and closing the door so that she can enjoy them all by herself.
Her language skills are ever-increasing, naturally, and its really fun to see the sorts of things she comes up with. Her pronouns are still completely switched around, but every once in awhile she’ll surprise me by using them correctly, so I suspect that it’s only a matter of time before that changes, too. She is very interested in having her daddy and I repeat things to her that we have said before. Something came up on our flight about planes landing in water, and Andrew explained that a plane only goes into the water if its broken, and when that happens everyone has to get off and another airplane comes to pick them up. Every day, she will ask one or both of us to, “Talk about when a plane gets broken and its in the water.”
What has really taken me by surprise is how incredibly imaginative she has become. She was given a balloon on the car shopping trip today and she stood holding it by its string directly over her head, and said, “Is it raining outside? Do you need to have your umbrella?” She knows full well that balloons and umbrellas are two completely different things, so it was really neat to see her using her imagination in this way.
Not all that long ago, I noticed that she didn’t really play with things in a symbolic fashion at all. Dolls were just another thing to move. Animals were something to identify and to carry around, but she had not yet begun to interact or pretend with anything. Little by little, she started to make friends with her animal models and to take an interest in dressing, undressing, and even nursing dolls and other toys. Lately, however, this play has taken on an entirely new dimension. She is constantly nursing toys or bringing them to me to nurse, but she’s also feeding them and telling us all about what they want and need, and how they feel. “Does your tiger want to go to the park?” “Is your girl hungry?” Not only are the pronouns switched, but everything is phrased in the form of a question, making her conversation a bit confusing for those who don’t know her well, but that’s alright.
It may be that this sort of play has helped her process all of the changes going on. I’m also thinking that this is the perfect time for her to become a big sister, since she is so interested in caring for things.
She still loves to simply move objects from one place to another, however, in gross motor transfer activities of her own design. Recently there were the coffee cups, as in the picture above, and today she moved an entire box full of toys and stuffed animals in the car dealership toy room from a box to a table before proceeding to climb into the box.
One other small change this week has been in Annabelle’s preferred hair style. She has never been keen on letting me do anything with her hair. While she did take a temporary interest in clips, she would always remove them within minutes of asking me to put them in. After seeing a book with a little girl wearing a ponytail on top of her head, however, Annabelle requested the same and has since asked me to put a hair tie in her hair every morning. If it comes out, she asks that it be put back in, and she loves looking at it in the mirror.
So that’s the long and not at all short of what has been going on with us over the past few weeks. It has been crazy, but things are good and I’m so very grateful. I would love to know what’s new with you, too, so feel free to link up a recent update of your own so that I can check it out!