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Journal Key:

Green = Steve | George = navy | Janet = Purple | Evelyn = Black

11/17/05 (Thursday)

More info on Cara's slow maturity. Compared to three weeks ago, Cara has much better control of her arms. She used to have flappers, but now she's mostly purposeful with her movements though there are plenty of things she has yet to learn. For example, she has a too-large hat that I like to put on her. After a minute or two, it begins to slip down over her face but she isn't yet capable of adjusting it so she can see.

She is much more intent as she studies people and things. You can see that there might actually be thoughts occurring as she looks at things. Weeks ago, she just looked on in amazement.

Cara was very good on a busy day. Today is the first day that is actually cool, if not downright cold. It's about 42 degrees and windy but the sky is blue and clear. At 9 A.M. we go for a walk to the swings. She's bundled up in a green sweater, the aformentioned hat, and one of her fluffy blankets. The wind howls all around her but she doesn't complain and actually has a good time on the swings.

Later in the day, she's on the trip to BJ's, then to the drug store. All the shlepping around knocks her out. When she's home, she has her late afternoon bottle and at 5 P.M., she's asleep for at least a little while.

Tonight I was showing Cara her book about a train taking animals to the zoo, and we had it open to a page. As she has been doing, Cara took hold of the left side of the book. Usually her next step is to simply try to put the book in her mouth. This time, however, she proceeded to deliberately open and close the book over and over again. It was interesting. I wondered whether she might be thinking of the plastic book-like toy that's in her saucer, where whenever she turns one of the pages it makes a musical flourish. I thought maybe she was trying for this on her real book and wondering whether it was broken or something.

Also tonight Evie gave Cara her bottle and tried to put her down for the first time in a long time! Unfortunately, it didn't work. I think I'll go up and see what I can do.

OK, I'm not going to say that she's down for the night, but I put her down. I had to get back on here just to add a little about what happened last night. If you have been keeping up, you know that lately baby has been waking up at least once before really going to sleep, and a few nights this week (or, in baby journal terms, last week) she has been waking up early in the morning. I was sure last night that she was going to wake up again before I got to sleep, since she'd only had 3 ounces of her bottle. However, as she is wont to do, Cara fooled me and went against my expectations by sleeping all night and well into the morning, even though she had gone to bed earlier than usual. It is now a bit past 10, which is a good hour later than when I got her to sleep last night. And also tonight Cara entirely polished off the bottle Evie gave her around 9. I don't know what that will mean for us.

11/18/05 (Friday)

Yesterday I bought two large containers of formula for Cara without noticing that they were soy-based and meant for children with colic. Once the containers were home we decided it would be okay to try them. At about 7 A.M. Evie made a bottle using the new stuff and everything was fine until about 10 A.M. Cara had been napping for a little while but then at about 11 A.M. began to cry, very early in her napping period (and vociferously too). Evie went to check her and saw that she'd vomited lots of formula on her clothing, the sheets and everything around her.

We knew we had to clean her and the bedding up, and we knew we had to get rid of the soy-based formula. I went to the store to exchange it and when I returned at about noon, Cara was napping in Evie's lap, the two of them upstairs in the glider. We made a bottle but went easy with it, assuming that Cara's tummy remained queasy: our first attempt at feeding her resulting in the vomiting of the remainder of the 7 A.M. bottle.

For Evelyn, one point of interest is how we changed the sheets on the mattress. Instead of wrestling with the mattress as it sits on the bed, I took the mattress out of the bed and put on the fitted sheets, pads, etc. with it hanging in the air, as it were. After putting on many layers of sheets, I put it back on the bed, under the mattress bumpers, all to Evelyn's astonished admiration.

In early afternoon I took the warmly bundled Cara to the park. Once on the swing, she didn't want to get off! I would say 'that's enough, Cara' and she would make a face like she wanted to cry. When I gave her a push on the swing, her face lit up with pleasure. This happened at about five different times in the day's adventure.

It's Evie. I don't know how long it's been since I've written anything here, but it's certainly been over a week. I don't have a color; I was assuming I'd stay black.

The past two weeks or so have been very difficult for me. I've pretty much spent them on the couch; I've never been too tired to talk before. Now, though, I feel better. The thing that has brought us all through this has been the amazing contributions of the whole family, who have pulled together to somehow take care of both Cara and me this whole time. Both grandmas were wonderful, and my poor father has been putting in eleven-hour days. Steve has been really wonderful. Every night, he gets home, feeds himself (amazing, I know), cleans up, takes care of the baby, takes care of the cats, takes care of me, and just doesn't seem to get five minutes off for himself. He's done everything for Cara; handing things I never used to take care of by myself. I really admire him.

Today, as Daddy said, was an eventful day. Poor Cara! She was clearly very unhappy and just wanted to be snuggled, but if I lay her down in my arms she would get sick. I kind of held her to my chest, sitting up but still nestled. It was nice. I was so happy that I was well enough to sit up and hold her like that when she needed her mommy.

I like to think that she has missed me. I mean, I've been here, but I've not really been here. I think she did.

By the way, changing the sheets like that was my idea, and I wish I'd thought of it months ago! That crib is a doozy to wrassle with.

Steve came home early today, and so poor grandpa finally got to leave at a normal time. Cara and Steve and I had a nice evening, playing with our toys, sticking things in our mouths, and making funny noises. Steve gave Cara a bath, and I am finally returning from limbo to write in the journal. I still need to gain twenty pounds, but things are going to get back to normal, now, I think.

11/19/05 (Saturday)

On Friday morning, Cara woke up when I got out of the shower. Early this morning, at 1 am, Cara annoyed me no end by waking up again. I guess I must have tried a bit of bottle on her, but it didn't work, so Evie tried a bigger bottle, which leaked all over them both but got Cara to sleep. I think it was some time past 2:30 before everyone was back in their beds. Cara fortunately followed some rules of logic after that and slept until around 8:30 before waking up for her next bottle.

Today we had a very nice day. Cara went down to Middletown to see her Grandma Janet and Grandpa George (and for a little while, her Great Grandma Emily). George and Janet were great with baby and carried her around and did all sorts of fun things with her. Cara got to see the fish tanks, of course, but she also had an energizing encounter with the local cat, Schmutz--he may not have enjoyed it, but Cara certainly did. Janet held the baby at cat level and allowed her to sort of grab at him.

A couple of things while I think of them. I may have mentioned this before, but lately Cara has taken to reaching her left hand down and holding onto her left foot while drinking her bottles. Also, the other day we had Cara sitting up on the floor of her nursery, as she is wont to do, and her little basket full of her toys was right next to her. Cara showed her growing dexterity and intelligence by casually reaching down into the basket multiple times to pull out random contents (almost immediately discarding all of them). I was very impressed.

Cara had a long day today; she slept in the car a bit both ways, but did no napping other than that. I did try to get her to nap at around 10:30 or so, but she preferred to sit up and look around at things instead. We didn't get home until past Cara's regular bed time, so I tried to make it as graceful a transition from car to crib as possible, so as not to wake her up. It didn't work as well as I'd hoped, but I think I have managed to get her down now, hopefully for at least a few solid hours. I'm sure there were other amusing things I could have mentioned about Cara's adventures today, but I'm too tired to think of them--perhaps Janet or George can remember something good and email it to us. Basically, though, Cara was very good-tempered and a very nice baby today.

11/20/05 (Sunday)

Some extra words about yesterday:

In late afternoon, I took the carefully swaddled Cara to the swings at Bodman Park which is located right behind our house in Middletown. She enjoyed the walk as being carried in drying leaves is something new. Each time my feet sloshed through the leaves, she would look down and try to figure out what was making the sound. Once we were at the swings, she had her usual blissful retreat from her humdrum worries.

Just before the kids left our house, Janet gave Cara a bottle and had the wonderful experience of launching Cara into the depths of sleep. Lying on Janet's lap, Cara was out cold, perfect for the beginning of her trip home.

Also I forgot to mention that Cara seems to have figured out how to work the rolly ball on her mirror toy (mentioned in an earlier post). Yesterday she sat there and was rolling it really good with her hand. Another thing she's been doing lately is taking whatever toy she's holding and whamming it repeatedly against the floor. A few weeks ago, I noticed her doing something similar, but at that time I thought it was simply her way of trying to release an object from her grip (not having mastered the idea of opening her hand). But now that I think she's better at putting things up and putting them down, I think this whamming is just for the fun of it. Also she seems to have figured out that her rattles make noise when she waves them around, which may be why she's slamming everything up and down (to see if it rattles).

When Cara falls asleep in my arms lately, she's been turning her head so that she faces my gut. This must be comforting for her, or at least warmer. This morning we heard Cara in her room at around 6:15. I got up to do something about it, but she stopped making noise. I made a bottle and went back to bed. We got an extra half hour before Cara started making more definitive noises, and then she got her morning bottle. Currently she is in the midst of her Second Bottle Morning Nap, and we are awaiting the arrival of her other set of grandparents, who hopefully will baby-sit so that we can get our grocery shopping done and I can rake together the masses of leaves that have been gathering on my lawn.

It's Evie. I'm using black text. (I can't help saying it, just until I get used to the color thing.) There was a magical moment yesterday. Cara was sitting with someone, probably Steve, facing away from me. She had her mirror toy in front of her, and I waved at her in the mirror. She saw me, and she bent forward, closer and closer, and then finally turned around and found me! We've been looking in mirrors for months, but there's never been a moment like that in which she connected what was in the mirror and what was outside of it.

This was a really good weekend. Cara got to play with all of her grandparents, and she was good for everyone. She just laughs and laughs. She also grunts a lot, but that's okay. I'm thinking back to how she used to snort a lot when she was a tiny little thing; I wonder whether the grunting is preferable. She also does babble a lot, particularly in the middle of movies. It's cute.

Things are better now, Steve says, because I'm alive again and I can help out. I'm not quite as useful as I was, but things are getting more balanced and we're all able to relax more. Life feels very good.

11/21/05 (Monday)

Back to ordinary life! For the first time in the three months I've been coming up to Edison, there was a major tie-up on the Parkway this morning. It seemed that we traveled at 2 miles per hour for an interminable period. I arrived an hour late--an hour that makes Steve late to his work as well.

This past weekend we all agreed that I will begin taking Cara home with me on some Friday evenings. Janet and I are both looking forward to the adventure of having our grandchild sleep over at our place while Steve and Evie get some well-deserved time with each other.

This afternoon, Cara and I went for a long walk on a perfect day. There was no breeze at all and the sun was behind the clouds. The temperature was a perfect 45 degrees. Cara got to go on the swings twice, which she enjoyed very much. Later as Evelyn was getting home, Cara polished off 3/4 of a jar of bananas, amazing me with her eagerness.

I made it through my day just fine, and then my dad was nice enough to let me get a little bit of rest before I was alone with my Cara. She really seems to want to be with me when I get home, though, which I find touching. She reaches to me and when we're all on the couch she sort of falls in my direction.

Cara and I were alone for about two hours before Steve got home. She had a good time in her trusty old bouncer, pulling on the toys until she got one off and chewed on it. She was happy as long as I looked at her frequently, and I also sang some Burl Ives, for a special treat. When that was no good anymore, I made a big bottle. Somehow I got Cara upstairs (that's the hardest part, now, for me) and we settled in the glider. She was really squirmy for the start of the bottle, which I have since decided was because I hadn't gotten the lid on quite right, so it was dripping on us both. After I fixed it, she got very happy and very sleepy. She really slept through most of the bottle. When I put her in her crib, though, she was wide awake!

I left her in there for a few minutes on her own, and she scooted happily about six or eight inches. Then I sat her up, and she had a great time. She had her hippo to play with. She sort of tossed him, though, and then she had to reach for him. She can bend all the way over now and then sit back up. She really amazed me by showing how far she could reach for things and get them. Most of her reaching does consist of a sort of slamming motion, but she did demonstrate some fine motor skills, grasping the tip of the hippo's ear with the tips of her little fingers.

I sat down for a while and let her play on her own. She also had her fish mobile around her head, which was very funny. She can grab the fish and pull, but they don't come off. When she lets go, the bouncing brings them down like ripe fruit! There was one moment when she turned to smile at me, her hands busy slamming things, holding a fish in her mouth.

We spent the evening playing with Cara's toys. This means that I let her sit and take all of her things out of her basket. Some lucky few get stuffed in her mouth, sometimes for prolonged spells, but they mostly just get taken out. Around nine she got cranky, and now her daddy is putting her to bed.

11/22/05 (Tuesday)

I forgot to take my pills this morning, so I called my daddy and he and Cara came to school. It was of course cold and rainy, just the sort of weather anyone would like to go out in, so Cara was all bundled up. She rode in in her stroller, and several of my friends got to see her and say how pretty she is. It was fairly early for her to be out and about, so she was not at her happiest or friendliest, but she did some smiling and no real crying. I was a proud mommy.

Cara had two naps today, her ordinary one from ten until noon and an extra one from about three until I woke her at quarter to five. I really hope that that doesn't make her too difficult to put down. She was up at one in the morning for no good reason, so I really hope she sleeps well tonight. Actually, maybe having been up in the night made her sleepy this afternoon.

Steve is really Cara's primary caregiver now. I will step back in, more and more, but he's very expert and she just loves him to death. He gave her a bath tonight. I spectated, and I would like to report some highlights. Cara and her daddy had a fundamental disagreement about whether or not he ought to hold her duckie to let her chew on it. Later, Steve coined a pearl of wisdom that we expect to see on a fortune cookie any time now: It's hard to wash your face when you have a duck in your mouth. No one can argue with that.

11/23/05 (Wednesday)

Hello! Today Daddy had his last day of work before a long holiday, which he will be spending with baby. We have decided we really need to give George and Janet a break before beginning our weekend "date nights." However, tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and we are taking a trip down to South Jersey to see my parents and have a dinner and pawn the baby off on them. Ha!

This evening was fairly typical. Baby watched her movie while we had dinner, and then I fed her some bananas--George had given her some earlier in the day as well. I have decided it will be a good idea to develop a routine on the solid food, so what we've just started to do is give her some every night right after we eat dinner. So far it seems to be working out okay, though it is still a lot of work to make Cara eat that food and not just grab it with her hand and smear it all over the place.

One small possible breakthrough we had tonight was that Cara seems to have figured out how to work one of her mechanical toys. Her Aquatic Wonders Thingie which is attached to the side of her crib has a blue button that makes the fishies in it go, a rolly ball that makes a little clam open its mouth, and a lever that makes a starfish spin. She has hit most of these, probably by mistake, and made them work, but the starfish has eluded her because the lever or spring-activated button is hard for little baby hands to operate. Tonight after having watched me do it for the hundredth time, she fumbled around it with her hand and actually got that starfish to spin a little bit.

Also, Evelyn thought it was very funny that Cara can fit the entire head of one of her many rubber duckies into her mouth. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! We know that we have much to be thankful for, but mainly what I've been thinking about are Cara's wonderful, wonderful grandparents.

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