After more than two long years, we finally got to see my sister and my niece again this weekend. Annabelle was only five months old when we were all together last! As much as I miss Guam, one nice thing about being back from overseas is having the chance to see our loved ones more frequently. I was curious to see how Annabelle would get on with her cousin and I was a bit worried that Alyssa would be hopelessly bored with no one her age around and nothing specifically age appropriate for her in our house. To my delight, the girls had a fabulous time together and Alyssa didn’t want to leave. Annabelle spent the entire forty minute ride home from the airport letting me know how frustrated she was that I refused to take her inside to get on a plane to Colorado.
She loved her cousin so much that we kept feeling the need to remind her to give Alyssa a bit of personal space. They read books, ran laps around the house, collected fall leaves, created things with play dough, and generally acted as though they’d been the best of friends all along. I kept hearing, “Alyssa, do you want to carry Annabelle, Alyssa?” and “Alyssa, do you want to run with Annabelle, Alyssa?” She begins and ends every question with the name of the person she’s talking to these days, and it’s awesome.
Of course all of this excitement in the early days of the post-nap era has resulted in a general exhaustion like I have never seen. I served dinner at 4:45 tonight and rushed the bedtime routine in an effort to make sure A would be sound asleep by six. We were close. A few more nights of the same and the sleep debt may be nearly repaid. I have discovered that naps are possible if I put Annabelle in the stroller and recline it completely, so I gave that a go yesterday and spent some time breathing deeply on a park bench. Tired toddlers are a challenge, but I do love mine!
There has been fun despite the exhaustion, too. We’ve been baking bread, making fall decorations, drinking homemade pumpkin spice lattes, and jumping in leaf piles. It occurred to me that I have never before experienced autumn quite like this. Born in the desert and raised in a steppe, I never had the experience of raking leaves or, better yet, jumping in piles of them. Here there is so much variety and such brilliant colors. I’m obsessed with the Sweet Gum Trees in particular, and the deep purple leaves that fall from their branches
Elliot has enjoyed the leaves, too, and he’s taking so much more of an interest in everything around him. On our stroller nap excursion, he woke up before his sister, so I sat in the grass with him, where he became completely engrossed in feeling around at the leaves. He loves to smile and chat with his reflection in the bathroom and reaches for things with such clear purpose. In his game of hitting the rattle as I hold it for him, he has progressed to knocking the toy right out of my hand and waiting patiently for the chance to do it again. He seems to be working on his first teeth and is not very happy about it, but loves life otherwise. I can hardly believe how quickly his newborn days disappeared.
I’m busily working on plans for Annabelle’s Children’s House years, which are fast approaching. I’m finding more time to actually nurture myself, too, which is one positive thing about the end of the super intense newborn days. Strong coffee, walks under the autumn canopy, pumpkin beer, and snuggles with the daddy have been extra bright spots in already bright days, and welcome indulgences on the days that are a
lot bit more on the challenging side. I’m grateful.