Tuesday, October 27, 2009

On the verge

For the last few weeks, Haven has been THIS CLOSE to walking. She's been doing an extraordinary amount of running around the table (video coming soon, Eric) and standing all on her own. Gradually, she's begun to push up to a standing position rather than pulling herself up to stand, which requires more balance and more leg muscles. And then, every once in awhile when she was just standing around, she'd take a step or two. Usually, she was distracted, chewing on a toy or some such thing, not realizing she was walking at the same time, and usually she would plop down once she realized what was going on.

We've been waiting for Haven to walk for the past couple months it seems, feeling like she is just on the verge of walking, that she is just THIS CLOSE. And for the past few months, I'd been feeling this great sense of - well, I'm not sure what, but this sense that we - all of us - were on the verge of something big, something momentous. This walking thing seemed different than all of the other milestones we'd hit in the past year, and there have been A LOT of them, seemingly everyday. Rolling over, sitting up, crawling, standing. But the idea that Haven would be walking soon felt like our lives were going to change, that somehow we were crossing a threshold for which there was no going back. It sounds dramatic, and I don't mean it to be dramatic, but I think there's some truth to this, that Haven is moving forward, moving out of babyhood and into toddlerhood, that we are leaving things behind as well as facing new and exciting frontiers.

A couple weeks ago we had a routine NICU follow-up appointment for Haven (the hospital checks in with their NICU babies every few months for the first two years, to catch any physical or developmental delays or issues). In our time with the therapist who does the developmental screening, she made an interesting comment regarding Haven's readiness to walk - she seemed to indicate that Haven might be physically ready (balance, strength, coordination - or whatever it is that goes into walking) but that she might not yet be emotionally ready. I asked about that, because in all of the reading I've done this past year, I'd heard no mention of an emotional readiness for milestones, or for this one in particular. The therapist said that walking is the first big milestone that moves towards independence and that sometimes some babies are maybe a little more grumpy or clingy for a few days when they make this transition. She said, too, that there are some theories that this is repeated at other milestones that continue this move toward independence (first day of school, moving away to college, etc). She said some kids breeze right through it, hardly bat an eye, and others maybe have this little hiccup for a day or two.

I found this really interesting. It helped me see this walking thing as not just a new skill for Haven to master within a certain timeline, because heaven forbid we don't keep up with the Jones's. No, it helped me see this as a developmental step for Haven as a person, as a whole person, that this has just as much to do with gaining balance in her legs and hips as it does with gaining balance in her relationship with me and Aaron. She is learning where her center of gravity is and how to propel it forward as much as she is learning that when she walks away from us we will still be here when she turns around or when she stumbles and bangs her head, she won't be left comfortless. And I think we are learning that delicate balance between when to hold one hand of her hands or two, or when to let go altogether. Perhaps this is a developmental step for all of us, not just Haven, and maybe that's why I've been feeling the drama, the gravity of her first steps so keenly the past few weeks.

Whatever the case, I'm pleased to announce that, all on her own and seemingly overnight, Haven is now walking (I swear, video coming soon). We have crossed that threshold, all of us. She seems pleased to be marching around like a little Frankenstein, arms stretched out in front of her as her legs, all wobbly and gangly beneath, her take choppy steps down the hallway. And I am pleased too, taking it in stride, this little person developing right in front of me.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Talent of the week: Supervising

Supervising the gardener

Supervising her grandfather while he power-washes the deck
"Grandpa, I think you missed a spot!"

Haven developed a talent this summer for supervising work being performed in and around our places of dwelling (our apartment, my parent's house in MN). A keen observer, she has spent many a Monday morning watching the gardeners blow leaves, whack weeds, and trim the grass. Thanks to her careful eyes, they do excellent work. She also used these skills as supervisor to guide my dad through the process of power-washing the deck (in preparation for re-sealing it). She was smart enough to keep vigil from inside the house, letting my dad work up a sweat in the heat and humidity, but she also held my dad to a high standard of excellence in deck washing, quick to point out areas he had missed or could improve. She sets the bar high but only because she wants to see us do our best in life, be it mowing or washing.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Brilliant idea #174

Nap while the baby is napping. Not after you've washed the dishes, read your email, and scarfed a piece of toast. No, nap immediately. Waste no precious minute of quiet.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Talent of the week: Sorting laundry

Haven has quite the talent for sorting laundry, if by sorting you simply mean pulling everything out of the laundry basket and disseminating it widely across the floor. Or if you mean crawling into the laundry basket on top of all of the laundry. Either way, her talents are many.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Brilliant idea #7

Place baby in stroller. Tie beast of burden, er, I mean very large hairy dog, to the front of the stroller in a pseudo-harness-type-fashion. Instruct dog to commence walking, stopping only for necessary potty breaks, and to turn left three times (at appropriate intersections) and then right one time until arriving back at starting point. This allows you, the responsible parent, to relax and drink your morning cup of coffee from the comfort of your couch as well as accomplishing the dog's morning walk and the baby's time out in the fresh air.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Talent of the week: Entertaining Zoe

Whether Zoe wants to be or not, Haven is developing quite the talent for entertaining Zoe. It usually involves a lot of shrieking at Zoe, the shriek being some sort of articulation of the word "dog." We think. Other forms of entertainment include: "petting" the dog, using the dog as a step-stool to get onto the couch, kissing the dog, and crawling over, under, and around the dog. Thankfully, Zoe is more than patient. Her reward comes at meal times, when she lays under Haven's high chair waiting for the food to drop. And drop it does.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Brilliant idea #259

For the crawling baby, attach Swiffer cloths to their knees, legs and hands. Avid crawler = clean floors!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Talent of the week: Reading

Haven is now an avid reader. She likes to empty her box of books, one by one, and then sits on the floor (or in the box itself) and pages through the books. Sometimes she reads quietly, other times she is pointing out all of the exciting things, like dogs and balloons and, really, who knows what else. I can't really tell what she's saying. When I told my dad about her new knack for reading, he said "She's a true Johnson." At a Johnson family gathering, it's not unusual for at least 25% of the people in the room to be reading. We love to read. I do hope she continues to love books and reading and stories. They make the world a better place, in my humble opinion.