earning your wings

14 months

Oh goodness. I haven’t blogged in forever. It’s a compounding problem because when I’ve skipped many (many many) weeks of blogging, I feel like I have so much more to write. The idea of covering everything that’s happened over the past eight weeks (or more!) in a blog post feels pretty overwhelming. And because of that, I decide to put it off yet again and to focus on something else. In my defense, I’ve had hundreds of photos to edit, organize and upload, and photography always takes priority.

And now I feel silly defending myself on my blog about why I haven’t been blogging. Onward.

It’s been well more than a month since we landed in Verona, bedraggled and bleary-eyed after our first grand transatlantic adventure. It was much less traumatic than I’d anticipated. I think we were well prepared, or at least as well prepared as parents of a 13-month-old flying as a lap infant can be for approximately 11 hours in the air plus all of the airport time that goes along with an international flight.

We managed to get our three suitcases (one wheeled duffel each for Daddy and me and a much smaller, nonwheeled duffel for you), your car seat, your umbrella stroller, your diaper backpack, a second backpack and a large tote bag into the airport, checked/through security and to the gate with relatively little hassle. We were extremely, once-in-a-lifetime, won’t-hold-our-breath-for-it-ever-happening-again fortunate in that we somehow managed to book ourselves on a nearly empty flight. No one could explain why, but the 747 that would normally hold 370-something passengers took off with only 99. We learned this upon checking in and therefore dragged your car seat with us to the gate so we could strap you into your own seat. (I will never, ever underestimate the value of this, and my big takeaway from this whole trip is that I will never, ever fly with a lap infant who’s mobile again.)

You toddled around the gate area at Dulles, showing off your new upright moves, much as I did during my first transatlantic flight (in the other direction) precisely 35 and a half years earlier. You were asleep before we ever boarded, as we’d kept you up through your regular afternoon nap time, and you slept for the first two hours or so of the flight. You were up for a couple of hours and then you fell asleep for the night, tucked snugly into your car seat. We weren’t quite so lucky during the layover in Frankfurt; you woke up as we went through passport control and we had a tough time getting you to go back down. You did, eventually, but were up for the entire hour-plus flight to Verona, climbing all over us because we had to gate check your car seat.

So you were incredibly off your schedule and quite cranky during our first day in Italy, and you stayed that way, really, for the first three to four days. Meaning we did, too. We were so fortunate to have a beautiful apartment with a decent amount of space in which to take refuge. We even managed to figure out how to block you into the living room so we weren’t spending all of our time running defense for the plethora of stuff there that you could easily have destroyed if you’d set your mind to it. (You also seemed quite taken with Italian cartoons.)

We realized by Day 3 or 4 when you woke up screaming inconsolably in the middle of the night that perhaps there was something else going on. We took you to a pediatrician, a family friend, and he diagnosed you with an ear infection in one ear. He prescribed some antibiotic ear drops, and within 24 hours you were good as new.

We spent our time in Verona taking it all in at a relaxed pace. We saw your Nonno every day, and I reveled in watching the two of you get to know each other. It took hardly any time at all before you were cuddling up to him, and he was tossing you into the air and squeezing you. He took to calling you “Ercolino,” little Hercules, because you’re so solidly built. We wandered the charming cobblestoned streets of the center, stopping frequently to eat gelato, for which you are a fiend. You also couldn’t get enough pizza but turned your nose up to Italian cheese. We spent a lot of time with your zia Ila, who soaked up your cuddles, and we took some glorious day trips up to the mountains above the lake, out to the country and–most impressively–all the way to Burano, one of the islands off the coast of Venice. You were an absolute champ through all of it: happy, chatty, smiley and remarkably flexible, all told. We were pretty enamored of the schedule you adopted while we were there; you’d go to sleep between 8 and 9 p.m. and easily sleep until 8 a.m. What a treat!

We were less lucky with the plane situation on the way home. We were able to snag you a seat on the short flight to Frankfurt (that was nearly diverted because of an in-flight medical emergency) but the transatlantic leg was overbooked. We nearly volunteered ourselves to be bumped to the next day’s flight, but as they couldn’t guarantee us seats together, we stuck with the plan. Once we were in the air, you did beautifully: You played on the floor of the bulkhead until you fell asleep for the night, about halfway through the trip.

It took a good five days for all of us to adjust back to East Coast time, but after two days back, you started radiating heat with a super-high fever. Daddy and I were home with you for three full days, waiting for your fever to dissipate. By Thursday, you were back at daycare. On Friday, Ms. Gina, your daycare provider, mentioned she’d seen a slight rash on your torso. We took you into the pediatrician and were unsurprised by the diagnosis: Roseola. And now this, too, has passed.

Before we knew it, Halloween was upon us, and by then you were walking pretty well, even in your baby Moon Boots fresh from Italy. You were doing something funny with your right leg, though, kind of swinging it around in a strange limp-like movement, so I took you to an orthopedist. He wasn’t terribly concerned, and by the next week, you seemed really to have gotten the hang of it and were walking, steadily and diligently, everywhere.

Now there’s no stopping you. You’re fast and furious, and it takes all of our energy to keep up with you. Two weeks ago, when you’d fall from standing, your default reaction was to crawl. Now you tripod yourself and push back up to your feet. And it happened just like that, without anyone teaching you how. You’re so confident, you’d think you’d been doing it your entire life. I’m sure you’ll be running imminently.

At least you’re keeping us in good shape.


  
  
  
  
  
  

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list-making mode

12 months

The kugel for tomorrow night’s break fast is in the oven. Lunches are made. Coffee is prepared. The daily chaos you create in your room and in the living room has been made less chaotic. All of the little projects that come before blogging are done (I even finished up the photo book for your second six months, of which I’m quite proud). So Obie and I are curled up on the couch, and I can focus on filling in the seemingly huge gap since you turned one–an eternity ago.

Life has been a bit frenetic lately as we ramp up to our big trip to Italy–where you’ll meet your Nonno and get your first taste of my beloved Verona–in less than two weeks. We planned this months ago and kind of tucked it back behind all of the other things that came first: the beach, the summer, your birthday. Now it’s imminent, and I’m in full-on list-making mode. We’ve squeezed as many plans into September as we possibly could, and I’ve managed to keep this coming weekend free for last-minute whatever and for our first stabs at packing, if we can get around to it. I’ve been focused this week on stockpiling an arsenal of distractions–from a mini Doodle Pro to pipe cleaners to a little library of iPad apps–for the plane rides. I pulled out the iPad yesterday evening and let you go at it for the first time. It kept you busy for a full 20 minutes before you’d had it. Twenty minutes is good! Twenty minutes will do. Especially if I can get several 20-minute chunks out of it at a time.

I was exactly your age, 13 months old, when Nonna boarded an international flight (in the opposite direction, of course) to bring me to the States for the first time. I’ve been traveling overseas for my entire life, and yet this trip–this plane ride–is causing me angst. It got so bad at one point a few days ago that I told Daddy I wanted to cancel our plans. I’ve never been afraid of flying, but because we’re taking you with us, I’m having misgivings. It’s my responsibility to keep you safe, but in getting on that plane, I’m handing over that responsibility to someone else, and that’s hard for me to reconcile. The panic has subsided a bit since talking about my fears with several people, and I’m focusing on what lies on the other side of the air travel to get me through: 11 days of watching you get to know your Nonno, of walking you around the prettiest city in the world, of playing with your zia Ila and of eating better than we have in a long, long time. I’m anticipating you’ll initiate a long love affair with pasta. These things make me happy, but I’m wondering: Has anyone else out there traveling by plane (or overseas) with your baby for the first time had this same anxiety?

You, of course, are oblivious. You’re much too busy discovering more and more of the world each day.

You’re still not walking, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not getting everywhere you want to go as efficiently imaginable. You’re so confident on your feet, cruising everywhere while barely holding on. You can go up and down stairs without ever slowing down, and you’ve even begun to step up with alternating feet if we’re holding your hands and helping you lift yourself. You’ll take several steps between bases, like the coffee table the couch, and you’ll walk quickly and confidently while holding our hands. You just haven’t let go to do it on your own, but I know it’s coming soon. (You have your first pair of real shoes–the cutest little pair of Saucony sneakers I’ve ever seen–so we’re ready.)

You’ve got your third tooth, lower incisor just left of center, and you’ve begun using a fork to feed yourself. You’ve even gotten the knack of stabbing food with it and navigating it to your mouth. It’s not consistent, but you seem to like doing it, and even just holding the fork makes you happy. You have a great relationship with the whole milk we started you on about a week after your birthday; despite our concerns about an intolerance (we supplemented you with soy formula from the time you were three months old because you had such negative reactions to the milk protein-based formula), you’re handling it just fine with no apparent digestive fallout.

Your language has blossomed; every day, you spit out something new that catches me completely by surprise and makes my heart soar. In addition to mamma and dada (still not entirely consistent, but it’s clear you know who we are), you now say car (so clearly!), hat, cup, cat and kitty (that one’s new as of today). You can tell us how old you are (pointing your index finger), and you still look up and say your version of “round and round and round” when we ask where the fan is. You know the sounds that monkeys and ducks make, and you’re working on cows, pigs and cats. When Wild Kratts comes on, you sing the opening jingle: “Wild Wild Wild Kratts” comes out “wa wa wa.” One of your favorite expressions is “no no no,” and you’ll accompany it with a finger wag.

But it’s not just talking; your comprehension is astounding. You can make the sign for “butterfly” when you see one in a book. You throw your hands in the air when you choke and we say “arms up.” You do the same when we ask you how big you are. You point to your head and to other people’s noses on command. You know the words “ball” and “plane” (as they relate to your toys), and you know your dolls are named Luis and Andy (as in Raggedy). And you’re beginning to generalize, so “car” is both your toy cars and Mamma and Daddy’s big cars. “Hat” applies to Daddy’s, yours and the toy crown in your room. Also, you’ll pull out books and look at them intently, flipping the pages, whereas just a week ago your main goal was simply pulling them off the shelf and throwing them on the floor.

It’s all just so amazing to watch, to see the synapses connecting and know that you’re getting it. I could go on and on about other things you’ve figured out–to my surprise and delight–but I’ve mentioned the biggies. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

In the meantime, I’ll keep making lists while you figure out your world. Have an easy fast, everyone. May this new year bring us all much joy and peace–and may we all be inscribed in the Book of Life. ❤

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