Monday, April 25, 2011

The Almanac at 18 months.

Throughout my life, I've collected many things: Backscratchers. Owls. Shiny gems, minerals and the like. As a kid, there were unicorns and cabbage patch dolls. Pin-ups of the irresistible teen boy-du-jour.
Every accumulation eventually lost it's glamour and wound up suffocating in a black garbage bag on the curb, awaiting the truck from the Kidney Foundation to scoop it up for it's unfortunate fate. Tax deductible.

And then there are the words. Millions and millions of words collected over the years. Hundreds of thousands of words collected since Opal's birth. Words in dribbly ink that smears against the outer edge of my palm. Words in a variety of personality-defining fonts, tiny clusters of gangs in bold and royalty in italics.

I have no idea what to do with all the words.

What I do know is this, there is a satisfaction that comes from offering the words to someone other than myself. To let them view a landscape that exceeds the interior of my desk drawers and hard-drives. This makes them feel at least like free-range notions. Winged thoughts that could blow into some very interesting tundras indeed.

Truth: this blog has a good many words. Likely a few thousand, though I didn't check. As with many of the human-almanac blogs that have preceded this one, the intention is more to share the facts than to entertain, as it were.

Not much editing, could be some grammar and spelling errors. One straight-forward Ulysses-esque draft as transcribed from Opal's warn little baby journal from where we left off in January (see Front Row: A 14.5 Month Development-Blitzkrieg as Told in List Form.).
Just wanted you to be clear what you were getting in to...

January 12th, 2011. (14.5 months)
Opal sings her A-B-C's. No joke, and with very little prompting. She also says LOLLOO for love you, knuckles pishy and lollipop. Her vocab list for things to be named when pointed at is growing by the day. She nods now and inserts yea, yea in places that are appropriate as well as not. (But you can tell she enjoys how the yea keeps her connected in the circle of conversation in a way she never had access to before.)
Bedtimes are epic now, she is learning to stall, seeing the power in it.
** See Blogs: Eight-minute speed round: Knuckles Pishy and The Fox and the Epic Bedtime.**

January 21, 2011.
Opal is just starting to gain success at feeding herself with a spoon and can color with crayons (though, she is often met with some level of frustration with the latter).

February 4, 2011.
Opal knows many of her books by content as opposed to simply cover-art now and can ask for them by name. She recalls certain books by what animals, shapes and themes they contain and likes to stick to certain themes for days at a time. Doggie book! Balls! She can also spot and identify many different animals (and fruits) in magazines. Knows the difference between Owls and Birds.
She is struck with the beauty of rushing water and refers to it all as waterfall. From the rainwater that pours out of the gutters to water that drips from the sink-faucet, any moving water is a waterfall.
She once saw a 'real choo-choo' while playing at a park while, ironically, inside of a fake choo-choo. (Hence the coining of the term real choo-choo versus simply choo-choo.) She learned the very distinct sound of their long-think horn that day and never misses the sound of one in the distance. (You can often hear them from our house, gently hollering a quarter-mile in the distance.)
She also listens for airplanes and trucks and sirens in her world. Drops everything to run to the window to look. Except for the choo-choo: she's learned she can't really see a choo-choo from where you are standing.
She puts mittens on her hands and walks around like a lobster with claws.
She plays the kazoo, by and large, better than I do.
She sleeps with the following cast of characters: Golla (gorilla), B (Bunny), Baby, Doggie, Raggetty Ann and Little Blankie. She tracks every one of them and any attempt at distillation is noticed and kiboshed.
She sprouted her very first top tooth today!
Is working the No No No No No No angle with puckered lips.

February 10, 2011.
Opal is beginning to make word associations.
For example, she was playing with the words "Leo Koettke" and said Leo Car-Car and Lulu Koettke.
She holds both hands in the air when looking for something as if to say "where is it??" I love that.
More recognition: she noticed that the lotion (lo-lo) on her dresser was the same as the lotion Dora uses in her beach book. When daddy noticed this and pointed it out further, she was visibly delighted and with the association and commenced to pretend to put lo-lo on daddy and B and Dora in the book.

February 11, 2011.
Continues to say yea yea, and nod head.
Says the word Nada—another—very often. Nada Ball, Nada book, Nada doggie. Often when we spot and identify something she is jazzed about, she immediately wants to see more and more:
Look Opal, a black doggie! To which she replies: Nada doggie? Like cool, I like it, now show me more.
She loves to prompt sing-alongs with certain code-words.
Happy = You are my Sunshine.
Honey = Crawdad
A-B-C-D = Obviously the alphabet song.
She says dis and dat —this and that—on a regular basis. She'll point and say dis? if she'd like to know what something is called. She'll also use dat to say I'd like to have that. (We encourage dat, please.)

This morning, she came into the kitchen and said "mama where-a-oo??" (Where are you?)
She also puts the word 'too' in appropriate places. Golla, B and Raggetty, too.

*Alert! Alert! Mid-blog format change! Copying directly from the journal is proving to be entirely too girthy and time consuming, so I am taking the liberty to hone it down a bit. I have that power.*

February 2011, continued.

Opal says:
Wheere it go? (again, with hands in the air.) Uh-oh!
In response to a bit of flatulence Jesse produced, Opal said "achoo!"

Opal does:
Jogging, climbing, spinning, rolling, tumbling. Not much toddling going on for a toddler.
We no longer use the front-pack—Opal is officially too large and in charge. Only the backpack and stroller form here on out.

Opal moments:
We were listening to the Beatles in the morning over breakfast. Hey Jude came on and J and I were singing along— more than pretty animated for that early hour—and Opal waltzed right over to her little piano, banged a flat-handful of keys and shouted HI JUDE!

March 2011...

Opal says:
Opal is beginning to assemble short sentences. No joke.
To daddy over breakfast, she said Mommy love me. This is astounding because we often say Mommy loves you and Daddy loves you, but rarely, if ever, have we used the word 'me' in that context. She figured out the me on her own.

Loves to list her family: mama, papa, ama, well as her friends: connor, pierce, eva, baby hannah (aka baby athena). And often throws an extra elmo or color —red— in there for good measure.

Says Bye! Bye! See you soon! Kissa hug, kissa lucy!

She's been playing word games, saying a word or sound and then looking at me as if expecting something. I repeat it sillier and she cracks up! She then repeats it even sillier and I crack up and the chain goes as long as we want it to.

There are more vocab words that I can keep track of. This month she wowed her daycare lady with dinosaur. She wowed me with trampoline.

By the end of the month she has said: Read book, mama here, open door, drink(a) water, come here, sit down, hi truck.
Two word sentences are a sinch.

Opal does:
She spouted a second top tooth!

Takes her stuffed animals for a ride in the laundry-basket choo-choo. We fashioned a tunnel out of an afghan, a chair and a low wall and she couldn't stand when the cat lied on the aghan. kitty tunno! kitty tunno! she whines, like get him offfffff mom. Two going on thirteen, she is.

Still two naps a day. We tried for one nap last month and another at the end of this month and she was just plain too fussy through the day. Two naps = more catch-up/chill/writing time for mommy. One nap = more time for social possibilities. It's a toss up.

We continue our morning identifaction-walks. I hope those never end, even when she's driving. We look for geese and squirrels and (other) birds and airplanes and pretty trees. She loves to touch leaves and branches and tree bark. If we don't see something she was hoping for, she'll say wheeere doggie? (or wheere Sophie, wheeere Moose—specific dogs) and raise her hands in the way that slays me.

She replies to questions now. For example (when fussing in the back seat of the car):
What's wrong, Opal? To which she replies Bright Light, Bright Light! (The sun's in her eyes.)

Plays pretend in more and more elaborate ways. Play tea-party? Is her baby tag line. She makes oatmeals and soups and applesauce-yogurt and serves it to everyone from the stuff-animal lobster (he has the best manners) to the ball we got at the zoo. And she'll pull it out throughout the day. We'll be driving somewhere and she'll ask me mama play tea party?

Plays hide-and-seek with her animals and finger puppets and actually plays it up like is it under here? no. It is under here? No!

She loves Tommy and Dora and Elmo (though I have read many books of each that are strangely poorly written.)

Love neckaces (neckies), putting them on, taking them off.
Puts hats and necklaces on all by herself. Has an unreasonable beef with bows and ponytails.

Watches Pishy and Balloon videos on You-Tube with daddy. But, other than Skyping with family, she watches no TV.

Opal moments:
While on a walk yesterday, two striking things occurred. Opal, in the backpack, noticed me rubbing together my glove-less cold hands and said mama no guv? Then she held up both hands, the delectable way she does, and said where mama guv? I replied, Mama no glove, honey. Mama cold. Thus engaging with my daughter in our first real conversation ever.

Later during the same walk, we stopped to watch a squirrel nibbling on a chunk of bread as it peered down on us from a high branch. I said Look! The squirrel must be having breakfast! And Opal replied He eat cracker.
Eat? I never say eat—she deduced that on her own and inserted it in a totally appropriaet manner.

Early in the month of March was when I really began noticing Opal talking in a way that far surpassed repeating and route memorization of vocab. She was piecing together whole thoughts, sentences. She was using speech to interact and engage with the people around her. To get her point across. She was deducing which word would be suitable to use (He eat cracker?!) and placing it on her own. There's now a level of back-and-forth. Communicating.

April 2011...

Opal says:
I LOVE THIS ONE. It all started with reading books to Golla. One day, she took Golla to a book that had a picture of a gorilla in it, held up Golla's head right to it and said Look Golla!! As if to show Golla his lineage, his people.
It's blossomed from there to showing B and Golla all sorts of stuff, particularly on walks and when heaped in a pile in the rocker to read books at night. Look B, a bird! Look Golla! Trampoline! Notha Trampoline! Look Golla! Peoples!
ANd she recently brought two giraffes in to join the fun. (Jaff.)

She says:
Take off jacket?
Kitty lick daddy hand.
Birdy gone. Birdy fly away.
Go see dada work.
Daddy airplane. Bye-bye. See you soon.
Here it is! Found it!
She lifts up found objects from the floor and hollers as if she's unburied treasure.

Opal family play with me.

She loves to say what mommy doing? And loves to reply to whaaat Opal doing?
She often replies with cooking, since that's what I often say.

Opal does:
We've been scouting out all the nearby parks. Some are much better than others for her age.
Also, we've frequented the baby-gym, a romper room of gynamium wonder, trampolines and mats and pads to climb on. Blow up bouncy-castles, indoor slides and balls galour. I've never seen anything like it. And Opal's coordination has improved noteably since she started, with navigating bumps and steps and stairs.

She loves to climb on the furniture. With the aide of a box or bowl to improvise where a step would be, she has no problem getting on the couch or chair. There was one time when she got up onto the couch without anything to step on and I about toppled right over.

She's been trying to jump off the ground from standing, with minimal success. But she looks like a wildly precious twitch-necked little bird when she's really giving it her best shot.

She drinks pretty well from a plastic cup, while sitting.

By the end of the month, Opal is starting to get time-outs for not listeneing to mama as well as missing her evening books for throwing a fit before bed. I definitely need assistance with disciplining her in pulbic places, where she's been acting up when it's time to leave. Jesse and I are investigating the book (empire) Love and Logic as well as Dr. Sears' Discipline Book.

UPPA MOMMA—Opal's been quite clingly lately, wanting momma anytime her comfort wanes in the slightest.

Opal moments:
We had a sandbox delivered and on the front was a photo of two kids playing in their fabulous sandbox. Opal saw it so I told her, "Opal! It's a sandbox for you! Not knowing if she even knew what a sandbox was by name. She did. Kids! Kids! She shrieked. Play with kids! Dada off, pointing, Dada off! Since I told her Daddy would put it together, she was expressing how she wanted for daddy to come home and make it real, make the kids come off the box to play with her! She stood and stared out the window for a long while as I warmed her milk and got her room ready for bed. She started walking to her room, then stopped short to go back, look out the window one more time and whiper kids as she finally made her way down the hall. (To this scene, I simply shake my head and say My God This Child.)

She's able to remember moments I've long since forgotten. An example: On one of our morning walking routes, at a very particular spot, she has been saying kitty. kitty walk. And up until recently, I thought she was saying how she wished there was a kitty to see during our walk. Wrongo, mama. It hit me like a tree that there was a walk we went on weeks and weeks ago when, at that very spot, a kitty crawled out from somebody's backyard and walked the length of a house with us. That was it, then he was gone and Opal has thought of him every time we passed that certain spot ever since. I dead forgot about him.

In conclusion...
I know quite well that, if we ever have a second, I'll never write this much about him. Or, hell, maybe I will. Maybe I'll just print this out and make hand-written notes in the margins, marking what is accurate and what is inaccurate for Little Grime's #2.

But there's no harm in indulging the reflection, the waxing, the gloating for the time being. It's all way too precious to zoom straight through. I have a ball thinking about how far this little lady has traveled in the last many months. How fearless. And still so far from self-refelction, self-consciousness. Not a single, solitary obstacle. No hindrances, what-so-ever.
I write and I re-learn this.

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