It’s been almost seven months since I wrote Babe-in Forever, just before Aliya’s third birthday, and I’m happy to say, Babe-in is still going strong. Not just as an amazing little person, but with her nickname as well. We’ve been wondering on and off how long it will be before she forbids us to call her that, but so far, she’s more than happy to keep the name going.
Our reluctance to let the nickname go, and us hoping she won’t make us stop calling her Babe-in, points to a sort of deeper issue: she’s our baby. The last of three. The only kid in the house left that still has a little baby fat and that way of talking that is so adorable:
She still refers to herself as Babe-in.
She makes up stuff like “Huna Scala” which we have no idea if it has meaning. She’s used it as a name like, “Huna Scala Mama.”
She still has very little concept of time, and it’s getting better, but if you say, “Why don’t you go pee before bed, Babe-in,” she’ll respond, “I went pee last night!”
She still drops her Ls and Rs sometimes, “Riving Woom” for “Living Room.”
I just realized that my last post was sort of a cliff-hanger. Keana did audition for the Nutcracker and despite not feeling very good about her performance in the hour-long audition, she got a part! She’ll be a “little mouse” in the December performances at the Saroyan Theater in downtown Fresno. After the initial excitement wore off, she began to feel nervous about learning her part, and now that a month has passed, she’s pretty much not thinking about it at all. Which is good, since rehearsals for her part don’t start for a few more weeks anyway. I know she’ll be great and we’re very excited to see her on a truly big stage.
The other interesting thing that’s been developing with Keana is her fear. I think as her understanding of the world develops, so does her understanding of the unknown and what’s possible, and it can be a little scary for her. For instance, she doesn’t like having the curtains open now when it gets dark. She doesn’t say particular reasons why, but she knows it scares her. Also, we started reading The Fellowship of the Ring, and even though it’s not as blatantly scary as some other books, she’s starting to understand all the darkness that Tolkien eludes to and is building up to. So tonight she said that we may not be able to finish this one now because it’s too scary, which is a first for her. And of course, it’s all good by me.
There are stretches of time when I stop for a minute (or sixty, on and off over a few hours) to update our records of Team Hokama—whether it’s the blog, photos, or videos—when I realize there is more happening than I can possibly keep up with. Yet I continue endeavoring on. So. Time to write some stuff down.
The past week+ has been tough. We were cruising along, having a great Mother’s Day, and just after a really nice brunch of belgian waffles and eggs benedict for the adults, Keana starts throwing up. And it doesn’t stop. For 7 hours. Yeah, nasty. At least it stopped by the time bedtime rolled around, but when things like this happen, especially with two other kids, I just wait anxiously to see who’s next. I was really proud of us though, because Sarah and I managed Keana and were still able to enjoy what we had planned for the day. It was a true tribute to Sarah on Mother’s Day.
Throughout the week, Sarah got a milder version of what Keana had, then it hit me pretty hard Thursday night. Luckily, Maia and Aliya seemed to have escaped it, though Aliya has been a little sensitive lately, possibly due to fighting this thing off. It’s just one of those things about having kids and it can, and does, derail things. I think we’re learning how to roll with it though and are a little better about taking time for ourselves if we need it. Half the battle is just staying in the moment and dealing with what’s actually happening and not getting carried away with what might happen. It’s funny to write all this, now over seven years into this kid thing, realizing that I’m sure I wrote those exact words after the first year of having one kid. Cycles of realizations and revelations?
So life’s been busy. Keana and Maia have been enjoying ballet since mid-January as something “extra”. Keana is pure muscle, tall, and poised. She watches the teacher like a hawk and doesn’t miss anything. Her execution is of course strained at times, but she is a joy to watch. Maia is definitely a natural. She’s only four yet her moves are crisp and precise, then graceful and smooth when they need to be. She makes it look like she doesn’t have to think much about what she’s doing. They’re preparing for their dance recitals, which will be happening in the beginning of June. They both have some apprehension about it, as can be expected, but they also have no idea what to expect, so we’ve been balancing listening to their fears and trying to give them a little supportive push at the same time. Another challenge as a parent: let your kids do what they want and what they enjoy, but still push them to try new things so they can figure out what those things are.
Last Thursday Keana had Author’s Night at her school which is where all the kids gather outside to share the books they’ve written and illustrated with parents, friends, and family. This starts in kindergarten and goes through fifth grade. Just like last year, we were really impressed with Keana’s story, how well it was written, and of course, the amazing pictures she came up with to go along with it. It’s really such a cool tradition at this school. Imagine having a book that you wrote each year of elementary school? What a gift. I have to admit that this year Keana had enough plot twists in her story that I’ll have to read it again to be sure I catch all of it. As the school year winds down, Keana is definitely struggling with the long, eight-hour day. She’s struggled with it on and off, and that, coupled with 30-45 minutes of homework each night has really been tough. This morning I told her she just had to stick with it through the rest of the year and we’ll reevaluate this summer. Nothing can’t be changed I told her. So we’ll see how that all plays out.
Maia has really been growing up fast too. She is just more and more mature every week, with how she relates to and helps Aliya throughout the day; being more open to what she wears and eats; and just generally handling things that used to stress her out. She tells amazing stories and plays really well on her own, mostly taking care of her babies or animals. She can often be seen flitting about the house, gathering things from each room, each item necessary for the best possible care of her clients. She loves taking care of us too. For instance, when I get back from a run, she’ll often grab a towel to dry me off and help cool me down. For how fiery she is, she is really sensitive and sweet. She is such a joy day in and day out, and I know Aliya really enjoys having her to play with. They like to run around the house playing together, making up various adventures, and yelling, “C’mon Aliya, c’mon!” and Aliya will scream back as she runs, “Okay Sissy!” We feel really fortunate that they get along so well and have so much fun together. The real bottom line with Maia is that she knows what she wants—or doesn’t know—and will make that clear either way.
And Aliya. Oh, little miss Aliya. Since the last post featuring her, she’s just progressed on that path of talking up a storm and being her own little, opinionated, feisty, happy self. She’s filling in her sentences more, sometimes with gibberish, but definitely trying more complex word formations. She has fits of silliness that crack us up, like changing the way she walks as she sings a little song or chants something. She’s fearless when bouncing on the bed and runs like a little daredevil, barely slowing down as she turns a corner. She’s definitely territorial and if she even senses a threat to something she has, or even something she sees that she wants, she screams, “It’s minnne!” Having two older sisters will do that to you I guess. Keana and Maia are mostly pretty good about sharing, but they are bigger and faster and swoop and pounce on things a bit quicker—for now. Aliya loves stacking things and will run into the room and motion saying, “C’mon Papa, c’mon!” then run to her stack of blocks to show it off. She love racing too, often counting off, “Two, two, two, GO!” Lastly, she, almost more than anything, wants to be doing exactly what everyone else is doing. She’s stopped sitting in her baby chair at the table. She clears her plate just like her sisters; loves to brush her teeth and even taps the water off the toothbrush just like we do. She wants regular glasses, puts her own shoes on, wants flip-flops, you name it. She is two going on five. What a brilliant little independent child.
Look at that, 1176 words. Apparently I could go on forever. And I would, but I have a few more hundred photos to back up and I would like to squeeze in some lushly mellow, possibly brainless, relaxation time with Sarah too. So. I go now.
She’s almost two. Unbelievable. Aliya our littlest, budding communicator. It’s been amazing witnessing her speech and communication develop. I’ve written about this many times with Keana and Maia, and it is still one of the best parenting experiences to watch and hear your child’s speech and communication develop. All their stylized words and adoptions of gestures are so adorable that you can hardly stand it.
Aliya started out a while ago with “Mama” and calling just about everything “samy”. Then, seemingly overnight, she was saying, “Thank youuu, Mama” holding on to the “u” sound a little longer and pausing slightly before “Mama”. She says this still with just about anything you do, from handing her something, to feeding her, to opening a door—everything. And up until just two weeks ago, everyone was “Mama”. She knew who her mama was, of course, but she had gotten so used to using “mama” in her speech, that even when someone else did things for her, it was still, “Thank youuu, Mama”. Now she says “papa” and “sissy” but still sometimes corrects herself, immediately, by saying, “Thank youuu, Mama, thank youuu, Papa”.
Her vocabulary grows daily, literally. The last two weeks she’s really been into saying “Um on! Um on!” for “C’mon! C’mon!” and waving towards herself. Aliya loves company. Even months ago she would sit down and pat the seat next to her to invite you to sit. Just last night she said, “G’night e(v)erybo(d)y” with a soft “v” and “d” sound that made it just the right about of “baby” to melt your heart. She also still says, “Otay!” for “Okay!”, often with much enthusiasm. Of course she says “bye-bye” but also blows kisses, and will always greet you with a hug, even people she rarely sees. She’ll ask about people too, so when Keana goes off to school, Aliya will often roam around the house asking, “Where’s Sissy? Where’s Sissy?” When she asks about something, “Wha(t)’s that?” and you tell her, she exclaims, “Wowww!” even for the most mundane things, and she’s also started to determine if things are gross by saying, “Ewwwww.”
In Other News
The girl loves her outside time, often asking first thing in the morning, “Ou(t)side Papa? Ou(t)side?” She’s’ gotten into playing chase and throwing the ball and now that it’s getting warmer, she’s really been enjoying our water table and small pool, being fearless of the cold water, and often trying to climb up into the water table to use it as a little pool. Thankfully she doesn’t climb on the kitchen table as much, but she still gets her climbing where she can.
Aliya wants to be included in everything and wants to be doing what everyone else is doing. This mostly applies to whatever Keana and Maia are doing, but watches us carefully too. She’ll wipe up the floor if something spills and insists on clearing her own plate most of the time too, even though she can’t reach the counter. She loves to brush her teeth and expects to have you cup a hand with water in it to rinse, though not knowing how to suck it up, just laps it up like a kitty. She’s getting better and better at potty training and goes long stretches in the day without a diaper, being sure to let us know when she has to pee. After taking care of business, she’ll often fill in whoever missed out by running up to them and exclaiming, “I peed Papa!!!” and whisks a finger in the direction of the toilet. Or, if she has an accident, she’ll say the same thing and bring you to it to help her clean it up. And yes, she likes to get in on cleaning up her own mess, which I can respect even though it can sometimes make the task more difficult.
A couple other incidents to give you an idea of our amazing Aliya:
Aliya’s very interested in opening the toilet, using it, putting toilet paper in (thankfully not too much…most of the time), and flushing. She sometimes repeats these steps more times than necessary, but hey, practice makes perfect, right?
Tonight, I was asking Sarah if she knew where my phone was and while were talking about it, Aliya ran off, found it, and handed it to me. I didn’t even know she was listening.
She loves to walk up to her sisters, especially Maia since they spend the day together, and give her hugs, kisses, or snuggles her stomach when they’re lying down. Maia gets very excited and whispers (as if not to ruin the moment), “Look Mama, she’s snuggling me!”
There are so many things that I haven’t mentioned or can’t even put into words. We have photos and videos, but a lot of the stuff I just wrote down just can’t be captured in those mediums for one reason or another. I’m hoping that by at least getting this much down it will help us remember this magical time even better, months and years down the road, because it really is too special to let slip away completely.
Yup, another nickname is taking hold for Aliya: Booshki. 1.5 years old. Crazy. Funny. Strong. Talented. Smart. Sweet. And it doesn’t need to be said, but I’m going to anyway: just cute as hell. We still call her Bo-Bíj and Keana likes to call her Li-Li, but Booshki has been one of my personal favorites lately. It really seems to capture her cuteness and sweetness, but has that edginess that is really starting to come out in her too.
The Girl is a climbing machine. She’s going to be our little rock climber if any of them are. This morning she had one leg up on a dining room table chair—which had been too high for her to climb not that long ago—and a tiny vice-grip on the very narrow edge of the table. There was some huffing and puffing and grunting, but she made it up. This wasn’t the first time, but it was a really good example of her strength and shear will. Then of course, she proceeded to try and climb up on the table, which she can easily do too. Luckily her sense of heights and caution have kicked in too, but she still is clumsy enough that she’s fallen off the couch and definitely has to be supervised. I mean, shouldn’t we all when we’re climbing on the table?
Along with climbing has come her thirst for speed (which isn’t exactly new either). Maybe it’s a push to keep up with her two bigger sisters, maybe it’s for the joy of it, or whatever, Aliya is ready to run. It’s the cutest thing to watch her get her motor going with her short, chubby legs moving as quick as they can as she swings her arms side to side, slightly bent at the elbow. This is all accompanied by a huge grin and an occasional squeal of delight. Just tonight in the kitchen, post-bath with her Elmo towel as a cape, she was copying Sarah as she said, “Ready. Set. GO!” and would take off racing to the edge of the tile, then return to position to do it all again. Aliya loves to chase too. You just have to give her a certain look and she peels off in the opposite direction, sometimes spinning too fast and tipping over. She actually corners pretty well, almost losing control, but somehow sticking it just as you prepare to cringe and look away. She’s fast and she’s pretty tough.
Speaking of tough, Aliya is working on her scowl. It’s hilarious. She squints her eyes a little, furrows her brow, and looks you dead in the eye. She doesn’t back down either; she holds the intensity. Also, when she’s wronged somehow, like a sister takes a toy from her, she stands there, still, head slightly down towards the ground, panting slightly with either indignation or indignant rage, brow furrowed and a look that means business. After all, she is the third girl in a line of strong little ladies. Aliya’s going to be sweet, but I don’t think she’s going to stand being crossed. It’s really interesting to see this side of her developing and somehow feels like she’s becoming more emotionally complex, even though I know she has been already, we just haven’t seen the spectrum like we are now.
I guess you can’t have complex facial expressions and emotions without a more complex vocabulary and Aliya’s working on that too. She often says things that almost sound exactly like a familiar word or phrase, but she doesn’t incorporate it regularly enough to be considered “learned”. Like I said though, tonight she was clearly saying “Ready. Set. GO!” with just the slightest baby accent. And even though she may not be able to say full sentences or anything, you really can ask her almost anything she’s familiar with, and she’ll give you a yes or no answer. It’s really cool to be able to ask her, “Do you want this?” or “Are you hungry?” or “Are you ready to sleep?” and get the answer without having to put all the other clues together. She of course goes on and on in her own language, practicing, which is always fun to listen to. She even puts in hand gestures like she sees us use to match the tone of her little speeches.
Along with her speech she’s also developing her musical ear and singing. We have several “team” songs that are call and response in nature, and she’s singing right along with Keana and Maia on the responses, often nodding her head to the beat and swaying her shoulders. Aliya loves to dance, just like her sisters, and she will get down when the mood (or music) strikes her. We could watch her all day. Even if she’s strapped into her chair at the dining table, she’ll start swaying and swooping back and forth like Stevie Wonder when she’s feeling the music, sometimes with a hand in the air as if she’s been to a rock concert. Genetic memory?
The last thing I want to share tonight is her fierce independence. Aliya is ready. Period. If she sees it done, she wants to do it. It’s very difficult sometimes because she’s just not quite capable, but she will throw a fit to try. We try and let her have a chance as often as is safe, but it is a real test of patience. Decorating the Christmas tree was pretty crazy. Keana and Maia are able to help out now, Maia maybe a little less, but Aliya was chomping at the bit to put glass bulbs six feet off the ground and was literally trying to climb the tree to get there. Same goes for running at the park, riding bikes, eating, and just about anything else you can think of. We know it’s an important step in development and definitely something we want to support, but with the demands of Keana and Maia on top of a lunging, screaming baby, it can definitely be tough. It’s one of those “good problems” though. It’s good to have a kid who is ready and willing to try new things and has that insatiable drive to learn and grow. She definitely falls more than the other two, even more than Maia did, which I guess is just the natural progression as you have more kids. I don’t think it’s due to our neglect, because after the way her birth went, I feel like we may even been more cautious with her. It’s just not possible to protect her every move like we did with Keana and Maia, and I think that’s probably a good thing.
Aliya is so much fun. I mean, not much else is expected in Team Hokama, but really, we have a blast with her. It hasn’t just been go-go-go since she started walking July 1, it’s been a blossoming of her little personality and her amazing sense of humor too.
She loves to dance. Yes, the girl has the dancin’ gene. It’s that adorable, kind of stiff, knees slightly bent, bouncing baby dance, and she’ll often put both arms in the air and bounce them too. One of the newest things she’s been doing too, mostly while sitting at the table in her highchair, is this cute little swaying motion to ballads or classical music, showing off her lyrical sense. Aliya also has this other new move where she’ll squat down, bend at the waist, shake her arm side to side, all while displaying the hammiest, squinty grin you’ve ever seen. The other day she walked right into the kitchen where Iana was, bent down, boogied down, and walked away. Perfect timing and Iana just had to laugh out loud. What a show off.
She’s a perpetual, earthly satellite. She orbits round and round the house, picking things up, checking in on her people, dropping things off, and on and on and on. Occasionally she’ll even work up to almost a trot, especially when her sisters chase her or she’s captured some treasure from them and tries to make a “run” for it. Her balance is still a little nerve-wracking, but mostly, she’s quite stable.
Aliya is a water girl. She loves to be in the spray of the hose, and often orbits around the yard, transporting water from one location to another in whatever tiny vessel she can find. Often she dumps half of it down her front while scooping and doesn’t flinch—she just rolls on. And when she takes a bath, and she thinks you’re going to pour the water over her head, she puckers her lips and begins taking quick breaths to prepare. She doesn’t really mind the water pouring down her face, though she does seem a bit surprised at first, but she never fusses. I wonder if this will last? Keana was like this too I think, tolerating water on the face, but Maia, oh no.
Aliya just loves to connect with people. She’ll wave at you, hello or goodbye, and if she doesn’t smile at first, she keeps her eyes in contact with yours until she’s got her assessment. She’s cuddly and she’s so solid and squishy at the same time, it is the best to give her a little squeeze or just hold her. She’s also recently started flirting by turning her head so her chin touches her shoulder, tilting slightly down, and giving the sweetest smile you’ve ever seen.
As far as language goes, Aliya has been trying out different syllables and sounds, still saying “mama” and “papa” and “bye-bye”, and enjoys call and response, especially in the car when she can’t see you. She’ll call out “maaaa-maaaa” and we call back “aliiii-yaaaa” or “baaaa-beeee”. So sweet.
There are just so many things that she’s adjusting to and figuring out, making day-to-day things so much easier (not that they were ever really that hard with her). Everything from getting dressed to getting in her car seat to communicating what she wants to eat. I was really impressed tonight when I was taking her jumper suit thing off for bath, and she stepped out of it, one foot at a time, like a real pro. She still does several big nods “yes” when she wants something or is doing something she likes to do, and shakes her hands in refusal in front of her when she’s done with something or doesn’t want it. She’s been squealing more and more with joy and disappointment (usually when here sisters steal something from her), and she’s definitely been showing that she’s not going to let her place in the line-up go unnoticed.
To say “so much” has happened with Aliya since I last wrote about her specifically, is beyond an understatement. For that, Aliya, I apologize. I’m just thankful we have the photos and video to show what’s been happening. But let me write it down here too for posterity’s sake.
At the beginning of February Aliya really started varying her sounds when she talked, but now at nine months, she says mama, papa, bye, more, and hi, and a whole slew of new sounds that aren’t quite words yet. Yesterday we were running errands together in the car and it was fun to talk to her and have little nonsensical conversations just like I did with Keana and Maia as babies. Two weeks ago she also started waving regularly when people arrived or left. Of course, she continues to be quite smily and huggy too.
In the second week of February Aliya started sitting up on her own with minimal tipping over, and not long after that could be left confidently knowing she was okay. She often leans all the way over to reach things, folding in half, and can then push herself back up. When she moves to her stomach she’s been able to do push ups and has gotten up on her hands and knees and rocked back and forth, so crawling is on its way; no idea when, but she’s definitely practicing.
She of course has been interested in objects and playing with toys, but it really feels like in the last week her desire to play with things has increased and often motivates her to scoot, backwards for the time being, to try and get new things. Aliya still loves to play with her sisters and is quick to crack up at any sort of little game anyone plays with her.
Her appetite is voracious and her favorite thing at the moment is goat yogurt, vanilla. Her little fangs have poked through and her two front teeth are visible below the gum. “Mmm, mmm” is a constant with her when she sees food on the way or wants to try something. Aliya eats much of what we eat, but her primary meal is still mama’s milk. She has really been loving water too and just this weekend started drinking out of a regular bottle with a twist top. She even had a little fun and tried sprinkling it on Maia’s seat while we were riding in the car today as well, which, of course, Maia did not tolerate in the least.
Aliya is just super fun now and changing daily as most babies seem to do that first year. Even as our third child, we’re still amazed by her blossoming vocabulary and ability to articulate what she wants or likes. Even though her development reminds of us Maia and Keana moments, Aliya is very much her own little person with a whole new range of unique moments of her own. Unique and similar, Keana, Maia, and Aliya get along so well together, and the fact that they often do best when all playing in the same room definitely brings Sarah and I much joy and peace.
Oh Little Aliya, I feel like you’ve been neglected here. Clearly the writing has slowed since you’ve been born, but it’s not your fault. Many people think that it’s the second kid that gets lost with regard to photos and video, but I’m starting to think it’s the third. Don’t worry, I think we have plenty of photos and video of you, but I need to work on the writing. And what better time than now?
You’re seven months old now. SEVEN. And just like we had done when Maia came along, we’ve forgotten what amazing little beings babies are. You continually amaze us with your even temperament and your quick smiles. When one of us walks in the room your eyes light up, your mouth opens wide with a smile, your body springs into action, and it’s as if we hadn’t seen each other for a month. All this is especially sweet given the fact that we had just left the room 30 seconds before.
You have seven rolls on each arm and wonderful little sumo thighs. You’ve been marveling at how your wrists move and how you can match your thumb up with just one of your other fingers. This also allows you to pinch your mama and mess with her neck when you nurse, and while she loves you dearly, this seems hard for her to endure at times. She asks you to stop and you just laugh at her (and she laughs back).
Your bottom teeth broke through just after Christmas and they’re about halfway out. Two tiny, cute little chompers. You’re a master at tummy time and stick with it longer than Keana or Maia did without getting frustrated (I think…this fact should be checked though). You still like to bounce yourself in your bouncy seat with your left leg, and of course love to grab your toes striking those famous makes-your-heart-want-break-baby-poses. You do suck on your toes, but’s it’s been so damn cold they’re usually covered up.
When you’re distressed, a few times, we’ve heard you say “ama” and Mama swears you’ve said “mama”. I wouldn’t doubt it given the fact that I’ve definitely heard word-like sounds coming out of your mouth. Generally you’re quiet, but you can ramp it up when you’re done sitting in on position or need some food. Speaking of which, you’ve tried a ton of things so far: apple sauce, avocado, carrots, turkey, chicken, goat yogurt, pears, and some baby cereal stuff which you don’t really like. When we sit down to eat you often say, “Mmmmm” and you watch us eat with such intense curiosity. You’re also really fast with high precision grabbing. Just last night Mama turned away for a second and you lunged out and snagged a big chunk of meat off her plate. Yup, you’re definitely a member of Team Hokama.
You’ve rolled over from your stomach to your back for a couple months now, but not the other way. Don’t worry, we’re not worried. You’re perfect…and really strong. You have such a sold little body that you haven’t met anyone yet that doesn’t think you’re just “the huggiest”. I think your super-sweet demeanor helps a lot with this too.
When Keana messes with you or dances around you or even just looks at you really, you crack up. You have a great laugh and Keana really brings it out in you. Maia too, but Keana really likes to get up in your face, which you mostly like. You’ll grab her hair and bang on her head, and every once in a while you pull her face close for a nice wet, open-mouthed baby kiss. Keana’s strong enough to hold you too, which she loves to do, but still makes us a little nervous. Maia is very helpful to you too. When you drop something she springs up, runs over, and gets it back in your hand. I’ll often here you cry out and it’s immediately followed by Maia’s fast little stomping steps as she runs to see what you need. And when we ride in the car, both your sisters are very helpful and only torture you occasionally. This winter they’ve especially liked pulling your hat over your eyes or just over one eye and call you a pirate. Luckily I think you’ll be big enough and fast enough to hold your own…some day.
So I guess that’s it for now. You’re bouncing yourself in your seat as I write this, starting to maybe get a little upset (barely). Plus Keana’s nagging me to make her second breakfasts, so I better get on that. You’re doing great Chuberoo and I’ll try and keep the words up to go with those amazing photos and videos we have of you.
There are so many things we love about Maia and I think it’s safe to say one of her greatest characteristics is also her biggest challenge for us: she is full of fire. On the positive side of things this plays out in being confident, adventurous, and quite funny, and on the other side of things her will is very difficult to get around when she’s tired, hungry, or frustrated. She’s so much like me that having her as my little, slightly less developed mirror is scary.
Maia may end up being our most petite kiddo, but she sure is growing up fast. She begins her fourth week of preschool this week and she’s been adjusting really well. The first day was a breeze, but the next couple times involved some screaming and crying at departure. But the last two times I’ve dropped her off, she simply says, “Bye Papa.” gives me a quick hug, and runs off to talk to Great Grandma Bev. It’s been really nice, for both her and Keana, to have family as part of their first “teacher experience”. After school Maia is completely exhausted, but still insists on coming along to pick up Keana who gets out 30 minutes later. It is SO sweet when we arrive. Keana waits in a line until we show up and when they see each other Maia screams, “Sissy!” and Keana screams, “Oh Maia! Maia! I missed you!” and they run and embrace as if it had been weeks and not hours since they last were together. All the other kids seem to look on with envy and excitedly ask Keana, “Is that YOUR little sister?!”
And it’s a good thing Maia is so sweet with that touch of fierce, because although she and Keana play really well together 90% of the time, that other 10% requires some sweetness to deal with Keana’s bossiness, and a good dose of ferocity to eek out her space with her much bigger sister. I have to say it makes me proud to see our little one stick up for herself with such bravado.
Maia is also quite fearless. When she was having trouble sleeping she would often walk around the house in the dark, just playing or checking things out. Keana never did this and still won’t go into dark rooms without Maia. She often says, “Maia is much braver than me.” and I think it may be true. Also, this summer when we roasted marshmallows, it was Maia who stepped out first to get closer to the fire. Of course she has her things that she’s scared of, but overall, she’s our brave little girl.
We’re finally getting into a good schedule with her sleeping as well. For the longest time, probably because she is so independent, we tried to take cues from her for sleep. It was always a struggle though, and it seemed like just as we got on top of it, something big would disrupt it (the last being Aliya’s birth). So the last couple months we’ve gotten back on the boundaries and she’s sleeping much better, mostly through the night. At first, of course, she screamed bloody hell, but now bed time is much less traumatic for everyone. She even asks for her naps during the day when she’s ready.
Speech-wise Maia has always been impressive. Perhaps the influence of a very verbal older sister has helped. Communication is, though, a bit of chore at times. We think her thoughts might be moving much faster than her tongue can handle and she either gets very frustrated or gets stuck in these loops, repeating phrases over and over until they come out. For instance she’ll be telling a story and when she moves on to the next part, she’ll say, “And then, and then, and then, and then…”. It’s really cute, especially when she uses hand gestures that seem more in place with a thirteen-year-old than an almost-three-year-old.
Maia just continues to be our tiny-feisty-now-preschooler and it’s so fun to see all her amazing attributes just continue to develop and grow and evolve. I don’t think we’ll have to worry about her getting lost in the middle of our little trio of girls.
Aliya is—I’m just going to say it—a chubaroo. Man, she is the most delightful of fatty fats. That is to say, she is very healthy and doing amazingly well. Not only is she big and healthy, but about two weeks ago she started talking. Of course it’s just “agoo” and “brrvu” and “ugggg”, but it’s her timing and eye contact that really make it like a conversation. You look at her, say something, and she responds. Then you listen while she talks and when she pauses, you talk, and it’s back-and-forth like that, just as if you were discussing the most normal of things with her. We’d have to consult “the files”, but we think she may be our earliest conversationalist yet.
Another really cute thing that started about the same time are the “hand puzzles”. Aliya’s really been working on folding her hands or just playing with her own fingers, as if it were some kind of puzzle that could be solved. It’s especially cute because her arms are short and chubby, so she rests them on her big belly and stares out at the world with her big cheeks puffed out on her chest. With all this chub though, she’s still quite strong. She’s able to hold her head up pretty well and swivel it round to look at the things that interest her. For the most part, she likes to just be held but occasionally goes in her bouncer for naps or just to hang out while we eat.
Of course her sisters are in love with her and still smother her at times with kisses and cheek rubs. It’s really a challenge to let them show their affection and see what works and what doesn’t, without intervening or correcting them too much. Recently Keana’s been saying really crazy things like, “Aliya, I’m going to take you away and you won’t see your Mama any more!” At first we responded by saying, “Oh Keana, we don’t talk to each other like that.” and of course that just made it worse. Then we tried saying, “Now what would that mean and why are you saying that?” but that also seemed to make Keana think, “Hmmm, they don’t seem like this, let me try some more.” Now we observe and let her say things and just try not to give it any more charge. Maia for the most part just goes about her business and gives Aliya the occasional drive-by face smooshing or kiss attack. It is very difficult to figure out what the best reaction to a situation would be, especially in the moment your parental protectiveness is being triggered.
They always say that the first kid gets all the picture and video attention and the second kid gets none. I have to say, I think I did a pretty good job keeping up with Maia. But this third kid, man…definitely a challenge to keep the documentation up. But Aliya, I promise I will keep trying and I’m determined to take as many pictures and video of you as I did for Keana and Maia. The blog…not so sure…can’t make any promises, but I’m working on it…I’m definitely working on it.
p.s. The fact that I didn’t mention anything about sleep means it’s been awesome. She sleeps through the night, naps like a champ, and is the mellowest third baby anyone could wish for.