One day Anni was twirling and singing one of her original compositions.
"It's my gift!" she declared.
Dizzy, she fell with spectacular gracelessness.
Laying on her back on the tile floor she began flapping her arms and legs
as if she were making a snow angel.
"Falling down is also a gift!" says she.

Monday, October 28, 2002

Our friends from Germany, Judit and Martin, came to visit us this week. Annika was quite taken with them both. In fact, she actually spent 2 days pretty much independent of mommy altogether. She thought Judit was a blast to play with, and loved hearing her favorite books read with a German/Hungarian accent. The Dr. Seuss book of tongue-twisters, "Fox in Socks", was particularly fun for little Anni--poor Judit! Anyway, she had so much fun running around the house with Judit chasing her, that she was just too excited to take a nap on Thursday. She's usually a great sleeper, so I was pretty surprised. Amazingly enough, she kept a sweet disposition for the rest of the day, despite no sleep. Friday morning I was going up to take a shower, and told Anni that I was going upstairs. She was playing "climb on sofa cushions" with Martin, and just turned around a waved "bye-bye" to me! Now, you have to understand than Annika *loves* coming with me to take a shower. She has a whole routine that she follows. First she knocks on the bedroom door, and then I open it and she runs in at top speed. She heads straight for the tub, and turns on the faucet; giggles when the water comes out. Then she runs over to the linen closet and grabs a couple of latex-free examination gloves out of the box I keep there, and then I put her in her playpen with some toys. She puts the gloves on her hands or her feet or some combination thereof, while I put on one of her CDs (either "Baby's First Playtime Songs" or "Country Goes Raffi"; I prefer the latter, she prefers the former--evidently the playtime songs were recorded in Australia; you haven't lived until you've heard "If You're Happy and You Know It" and "I'm a Little Teapot" sung with a heavy Australian accent 5,000 times...) Then I take a shower, sometimes singing along with the CD. Then I get out, comb my hair, hand the comb to her so that she can comb her hair, too, and we're on our way (after waving at ourselves in the mirror, of course). So, her decision not to come upstairs with me for shower time was quite a shocker. And she didn't even give it a 2nd thought--just back to playtime! She did decide after a while that she'd better look for Judit... After a couple of days, I was beginning to think that Anni was hitting an early adolescence (you know, "mommy is *so* uncool")!! However, on the morning that they were leaving we were saying our good-byes and joking around about them taking Anni along (we'll have to check your bags before you go, etc.). We didn't think that Anni understood this, but when I suddenly passed Anni off and ran to the kitchen because I needed to get some cookies out of the oven, Anni burst into tears like her world was coming to an end. Of course, Joerg and I reassured her that we would never, ever let someone take her in their suitcase!! We said our good-byes, and Anni gave a tearful wave as they left. After that, she stuck to me like glue for the rest of the day. I guess mommy still has some coolness left, after all. Whew!

Saturday, October 26, 2002

Annika is 2 years old! She had a great birthday, complete with a little party and her first taste of cake. The backyard-neighbor-girls, Anna and Demi, came over along with their mom. Also, her babysitter, Lauren, and her friend, Kathy, came to the party. I went a little nuts with streamers all over the dining room, and we had Pooh tablecloths, napkins, plates, you get the idea... Of course, the hit of the party was the big Pooh mylar ballon from our local grocery store. She had been eyeing that thing for the past several weeks with obvious longing. She was so happy to finally have it that she kept giving it kisses! She also had a wonderful time playing with Anna and Demi, especially as she still has so little exposure to other children. Believe me when I say that this is not from lack of trying on our part, but it does seem that everyone in town has been hit with some sort of cold lately. Anyway, she had a good time opening presents, but really she was more into the joy of playing with the other kids and, of course, the beloved babysitter, Lauren. We were curious how she would react to cake, as she's never had it before. The expression when she put it in her mouth was priceless! First she was very cautious, and chewing very very slowly as if it might turn sour at any moment. Finally she decided it was safe, and gave a big smile. However, she only ate one more bite and that was it for her. Honestly, I think she was too excited to care much about the rare treat of a sticky sweet. She also loved it when we all sang Happy Birthday to her. Again, I wish I could have bottled that look of wonder she had on her face as everyone in the room sang to her! It was especially nice, as music is her latest love, and she wants me singing to her all the time.
Yet another entry that was started weeks ago, but only now published... 10/6/02 Annika's obsession with neatness continues. We went for a walk at the big mall in Peoria on Saturday. Anni was out of her stroller and making her way on her own, much to her delight. As we headed for Penney's we passed a little cafe with tables and chairs out in the walkway. As we passed the tables Anni got a rather distressed look on her face. We thought that maybe she wanted to go into the cafe, but since there were a lot of bottles placed right at toddler height we weren't about to let her go in. However, we discovered the real source of her anguish when she twisted out of my grasp and ran back to straighten some of the chairs that were out of alignment. Once she had them all straight, she gave a big smile and ran back to us. She does have very specific ideas about the arrangement of certain things in the house. The mat that is by the back door to keep dirt out of the house *must* be placed in the hallway in front of the bathroom instead. The mat *must* be placed upside down. Also, there *must* be at least 3 cans placed on this mat, preferably 1 should be tuna. She also seemed to think that the saucer underneath my african violet should be removed and placed on the kitchen counter. I kept replacing the saucer (because I worried about water leaking onto the wood floor--unlike the mat which I allow her to leave by the bathroom most of the time). I guess she got tired of me returning the saucer to the african violet, so she simply put the saucer on the kitchen counter and then ensured that there was no african violet for me to return the saucer to. I did actually see this one coming, but by the time I got over to her, she already had the poor plant out by the roots. The poor little thing was just coming back after the neglect of our long hospital stay. She will not allow us to leave any room without shutting off the lights, turning off the music or tv or anything else that's on. So in addition to being a neatnik, she's also energy conscious. So Anni is doing very well. Her body is wildly out of proportion, though. She has the height of an average 12-18 month old, but she has the belly width of the average 4 year old. Needless to say, shopping for clothes for her is a real nightmare. I am going to have to learn how to sew. Besides the big belly, the only real problem she's having lately is with extremely low magnesium. She's getting huge doses of magnesium, which are giving her terrible diarrhea. The diaper costs are through the roof, as the only diapers that fit her (due to the difference in belly size relative to leg width) are, of course, the most expensive and she's going through them like a newborn. On a happier note, Anni has discovered music with a vengeance. A typical 2-yr.-old, she is obsessed with one CD in particular. Luckily, it's a CD that I like (Sarah Hickman's "Toddler"). However, even the best CD gets a bit old after the 5,000th time. I'm just thankful it's not Barney. She is also obsessed with the new Shania Twain song, and she loves the video, which plays approximately every 10 minutes on CMT and GAC!