Sunday, February 24, 2013

Eighteen Months, Or "What is 'Akhi'?"

Pictured with Baby Annie, purchased as a potty training aid, now her favorite toy

My girl has been in the world for a year and a half. Unbelievable.

The last month has been so much fun. She's adding approximately one new word a day. So far I can still keep up with them in her notebook. It's amazing to watch.

Funny, now, to remember that when she was about a year old, I was worried that she would be speech delayed because I wasn't talking to her enough. I felt like children with two parents would certainly hear more speech than an only child with a single parent who tried to talk as much as she could, but certainly got bored of pedantic one sided conversations with a silent infant. Oh, and then my "disadvantaged" child was with another silent infant and a nanny whose first language isn't English (but speaks English very well).

Oops. I guess I needn't have worried. Calliope and Eleanor seem to learn words from each other all the time. For example, in the last twenty-four hours, Calliope has just started calling all crackers "cookies," just like Eleanor does... which is especially funny given that neither of the girls know what "cookies" are. Prior to this, Calliope called them crackers, well, something like "cracker" that technically sounded a lot like "ga-ga."

So clearly she's not handicapped (verbally) too much by my solo status. Phew. Something else I can not worry about.

I don't actually know how many words she's "supposed" to have right now (I should know this from my nursing school days but I lost that knowledge in the early stages of pregnancy, never to return, along with things like knowledge of the whereabouts of my hiking boots... how DOES a person lose a thing like a bulky pair of hiking boots???) but I'm pretty sure she's fine.

It's also amazing to watch the connections she makes, connections I wouldn't understand if I didn't know her so intimately. For example, after breakfast, she points at the top of her toy kitchen and says "Ellie." Only I, and maybe her nanny, would understand that what she means... that she's pointing at Eleanor's toothbrush, sitting on top of the toy kitchen, because she knows it's time to brush her teeth, now that she's done eating, and furthermore, she recognizes that Eleanor's not there for tooth brushing after this particular meal.

Pretty amazing all that can be unpacked from a single word.

Tantrums, such as they are, are extremely short lived and usually end abruptly by way of distraction. The main thing that elicits strong negative reactions are diaper changes. She does not want to be laid down to have her diaper changed. As soon as I start, she starts to plead urgently, "Pah-ee! Pah-ee"! (That's "potty" for the uninitiated.) But she often only sits on the potty for a few seconds before wandering off (and never produces anything when I'm around, though apparently she's had more success of late with the nanny.) But as soon as I lay her back down, she pleads for the potty once again. So my rule now is that once she gets up for more than a few seconds, her "potty time" is over.

However, she's picked up a habit of screaming an unholy shriek when she's mad or frustrated, or occasionally, for no apparent reason. It usually gets better after time away from Eleanor, a weekend or longer, but gets worse after being with Eleanor again. Of course, this weekend it didn't let up at all, despite limited time with Eleanor. I generally pretend I can't hear her at all, and she usually tries another two experimental screams, to see if I notice, and when I "don't hear anything," she stops. I have a hunch this behavior may be just a little taste of what is to come as she approaches two.

She's both adventurous and anxious. God forbid I should leave her alone to go to the kitchen while she's playing in her room -- desperate tears result. Yet when we met my brother outside South Station (more on that in a minute), she stood quietly next to the car (under his care) as I loaded her stroller into the car... but as soon as she was back in my charge, she scampered off down the sidewalk as fast as her legs could carry her, giggling gleefully. She loves to run away and be chased. Which is sometimes fun and sometimes a little terrifying, as in the above example.

For the most part, though, she's easy going and fun to be around. She wants to see and help and participate in everything I am doing. As long as my expectations about my own productivity are low, we have a great time.

Our trip to Boston went quite well. I had to wake her up an hour earlier than normal to be ready for our trip, but she was in a great mood. I packed far too many snacks and gift wrapped entertainments (mostly books and toys she already owned -- many people advised me that gift wrapping makes things more time consuming and also exciting for a toddler), but I was glad to be well prepared. She loved the train, especially when I demonstrated that we could get up and walk around. After that, she wanted nothing more than to walk to cafe car and into the car beyond. She would impatiently shake off my restraining hand and toddle quickly ahead of me, careening side to side, laughing maniacally as she sprawled repeatedly.

I'm sure I looked like quite the neglectful parent as I hurried behind her, cracking up even as she went flying. Luckily no major head injuries resulted and I was at least exceedingly careful when the train doors were open.

Our best diversion was the DVD player. My friend Scott texted to ask how our trip was going; I responded "Calliope is watching a video and stuffing her face with processed food. God bless America."

She never gets unlimited screen time (rarely more than ten minutes) and had never yet had a snack in front of the screen but there's a time and a place for everything and this was the time for doing whatever I could to pass the time. Screens and puffs it is.

She was somewhat aloof -- more uninterested than anything more negative -- in my mother, who isn't a natural at interacting with children on her best day. She was more positive on my brother, once he sat on the floor and cheerfully played with her so I could work out, and actually let him carry her to the car while my hands were full of bags. And she was thrilled to play with my cousin's ten year old daughter, who patiently assisted Calliope on her numerous journeys up and down the thrilling staircase.

My cousin handed Calliope a plastic action figure -- a Samurai "guy," as she said. Calliope thereafter named every toy in the house a "guy." And then took that Samurai and rocked his tiny plastic body in her arms, saying "awww" in a loving, reverential tone. And then proceeded to pretend to change his diaper.

It's amazing what biology pre-programs in little girls.

My mom seemed well. Tired, but herself. The transfusion seemed to help, but perhaps the effects were already wearing off. Still, I know she was glad to see us, and that Calliope was a good distraction. It was good for me to see her, too.

My brother and I got along fabulously, our best ever. He was more generous with me than I remember, things like helping with Calliope so I could work out as well as organizing dinner, and I tried to repeat as a mantra "give him the benefit of the doubt," and the result was harmony. We stayed up very late on Sunday night talking, and both agreed that we want to keep working on things between us.

So the trip was a success, though indisputably exhausting. I'm debating now whether we should ride the train for our next trip or rent a car. I had hoped to stash baby clothes and the old car seat and stroller in my mom's basement but maybe it's not worth the stress of driving with my car-hating toddler.

A video of her singing along to Itsy Bitsy Spider -- she's getting a lot better with the hand signals, but I especially love the wordless warbling at the end along with the enthusiastic "yay!"

Language update (this is not expected to be of interest to anyone, really, but it's how I keep track for myself... to some day be turned into a Calliope Journal Book).

And "Akhi" is the mystery word. She says it quite often, in a variety of circumstances, and I haven't a clue what it means. I know this is one of those details I will soon forget, so I'm writing it down here to remind her later.


  1. here (when she hands me something, she says this, as in "here you go")
  2. go (as in "let's go!")
  3. clap ("cap")
  4. car
  5. diaper "da-doe"
  6. bowl
  7. pear
  8. orange ("or")
  9. apple ("app")
  10. banana ("dada" -- my favorite of her baby words!)
  11. cracker ("quack-ah")
  12. cream cheese ("creaky")
  13. pear
  14. water
  15. pee
  16. poop ("pooh")
  17. baby ("bay-bee" drawn out in an adorable lilt)
  18. peanut butter ("mah" -- replaced tonight with "butter" -- I'm wistful about this)
  19. book
  20. bubbles
  21. pop (as in, what bubbles do)
  22. teeth
  23. sneeze
  24. E-I-E-I-O ("yie yie yo" -- like the song)
  25. head ("heh")
  26. belly
  27. nurse ("neh neh" -- as in, breastfeeding)
  28. potty ("pah-ee")
  29. help ("heh")
  30. all done ("elga")
  31. cheese ("gheeeeeezzzzzzzze")
  32. Jack ("Gah!" -- her buddy, whose name is now mentioned every time we leave the apartment, even to go to the trash chute three feet outside my front door)
  33. Ellie (her nanny-sharing playmate, aka Eleanor)
  34. Annabelle ("Bah!" -- her four year old idol)
  35. Amy (Ellie's mom)
  36. Mama
  37. book 
  38. "bock bock" (what a chicken says)
  39. "Nah!" (what a cat says... in her alternate universe)
  40. woof 
  41. baaa
  42. quack
  43. neigh
  44. moo
  45. doggie
  46. duck
  47. Squirrel -- don't know how she knew this but she successfully identified one sitting on our fire escape, much to my amazement (and without any help from me)
  48. Hi! (in the cutest lilting way)
  49. Yay!
  50. Bye bye
  51. Umm (said thoughtfully whenever she gains access to the open refrigerator)
  52. Up
  53. Down
  54. teeth
  55. sneeze (only once or twice)
  56. "me me me" (not sure this means something versus just being something fun to say)
  57. And finally, this isn't a word, but whenever I say, "Can you say 'Grammy'?" she answers "Hi!" and presses her hand to the side of her head, as if holding a cell phone
  58. girl -- the character on her pajamas
  59. wall
  60. tea
  61. jacket 
  62. hello
  63. Annie (her doll)
  64. orange ("ish" -- I don't know why, but it's very consistent)
  65. mango (sounds like "yumyum")
  66. money
  67. bagel 
  68. uh oh
  69. shhh (blows on her finger and says "ffff")

  1. more
  2. all done
  3. water
  4. food
  5. bath (her favorite sign because she loves the song that accompanies it)
  6. shampoo
  7. soap
  8. wash hands
  9. change diaper
  10. brush teeth (a sign that I made up)
  11. tickle
  12. shirt
  13. shoes
  14. socks
  15. bubbles
  16. I love you
  17. help -- we use this a lot and it really heads off whining 
  18. nurse (she's been doing this for a while but I forgot it last time) 

Just one, so far, and only said once, "Brush teeth!"

Unless you count the following as sentences? 

"Amy... yay!"
"Bagel... yay!"
Play date with her good buddies Eleanor, Jack and Eli. 
Eli and his parents are moving to Boston... we will miss them!
"Walk... yay!" 
Doing squats with Mommy's Rip 60 Straps
Calliope's "help" was the final nail in the coffin in attempting the impossible
task of assembling an Ikea miniature arm chair... thank god the nanny is better at assembling things than me! 
She wasn't too sure what to think of her first real exposure to snow. She didn't cry, but determinedly walked home
(one building away) after a mere five minutes of play.
She loves to carry things around the house on imaginary errands


  1. Ha! The itsy bitsy video cracked me up - how she keeps hitting herself in the face on the "dooooowwwwwn" part. Very cute. Very Impressive on the vocab, too!
    Glad to hear your trip went so well, and I'm so happy your mom's chemo is working! All around good report from Abby :)

  2. Love the update! Sounds like your trip was a success!

  3. I think that's quite an impressive list of words. My friend who just went to her daughters 18 month check was asked if she could say 10 words, so that must be the normal. I would say Calliope has far exceeds that.

  4. He vocabulary is impressive! I think she's we'll ahead of the curve right now.

    I love the idea of gift wrapping toys for trips. I'm going to have to try that next time.