Clara’s palms healed really well, and we were able to take her bandages off a week after the accident. Luckily, the wound care center at the hospital across the street agreed to see us for follow up, saving us another trip to Augusta. The doctor said her palms look great. She won’t be scarred for life, at least not from this. She is enjoying her hands and is back to busily crawling around and playing. She’s interested in taking steps again and is walking a little more often each day, taking three or four steps and then sitting down.
We got to visit lots with old friends last week. On Monday, we had a short visit in Marietta with the Hardens, the day after their return from their boat trip around the world. The next day, Quinn, Clara, and I drove to Great Wolf Lodge in Charlotte to meet Kristin, Lucy, and Drew for a howling good time (for real, the employees say that there) at this indoor water park resort. Highlights of the visit were the long hallways, the arcade, and swimming in the wave pool and kiddie pool. When asked her favorite part of our stay, Quinn said, “Swimming and watching TV in the bunk bed with Lucy.” It was so great to see them, although I spent much of the time secretly worrying about Kristin’s health. She’s on the mend now. Here are some pics:
Who is that the dude with the other baby and Clara? That is the family that Clara adopted on our first morning there. It clearly had been to long since she seen her real daddy, so she made a beeline for the first dark-haired Dad of about 5’10 that she saw, about 30 feet away from us. I tried to take her away after she spent a couple minutes of quality time with them, and she returned about two more times.
One year ago, our sweet Clara June was a chubby 8-pound newborn who rarely opened her eyes:
And now, at 12 months, she is this busy 20-pound delight:
Clara is loved by all. Though she started out chubby, mellow, and serene, she has grown into a very active one-year-old that loves to play, wiggle, and speed around the house, entertaining herself with blocks, things with wheels (while saying “vroooom”) the play kitchen, anything that makes music, her cats, and her big sister. She is extremely verbal (although we’re not always sure what she’s saying) and loves to be included in everything the family does. She faced adversity this year with her chronic ear infections, tube surgery, and her recent trip to the Augusta burn unit, but rarely stopped being her happy little self. At 20 pounds and 28 3/4 inches long, she is a little under the 50th percentile. Quinn calls her “Little Tiny” lately, a change from “Chubba Wubba.”
We celebrated her actual birthday (pre-burns) with just the four of us and cupcakes. I think Quinn may have been the most excited of all. She has been making presents for Clara all week and wanted to give them to her first thing in the morning. She also decorated the cupcake box and made dozens of other paper decorations (bows, airplanes, hats galore). Here are the more intimate, bandageless festivities:
The two days following her birthday were a bit traumatic. Clara followed Quinn out the front door, leaning down with her palms on the black metal threshold of our front door for about thirty seconds. It wasn’t that hot, so I didn’t attribute her crying to the burn at the time. She was crying inconsolably, which is really out of character for her. We thought that it was a reaction to the vaccines she had gotten that morning or that she was getting sick. The next morning, Quinn noticed blisters on her hands, and we put it together. Her doctor wanted the second degree burns on her palms to be treated by a burn unit in Augusta, where they debrided her blisters and wrapped her hands in big mitts. We changed the dressings daily for the next week. She was such a champ about it, quickly adapting to them. She crawled, played, and even picked up food with her bandaged mitts, earning her the temporary nickname, “Stumpy.”
On Saturday we had her first birthday party with Uncle Jimmy, Aunt Tao, Aunt Renee, Uncle John, Cousin Kate, and friends Melissa, Charles, Ceci, and Janie. Everyone had a great time. It was so nice to spend the day celebrating with family and friends after a rough couple days.
Quinn Stein Tooley, Age Four
Favorite Color: Blue
Favorite Book: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (nearly memorized)
Favorite Show: Tinga Tinga (preceded by Pingu, Dragon Tales, Super Why, Blues Clues, Strawberry Shortcake)
Favorite Movies: Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Sound of Music, the Velveteen Rabbit, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Height: 42 Inches
Weight: 36 pounds
Best Friends: Lila, Janie, Lainie, and Lucy
Favorite Quiet Activity: Drawing and pretend play
Favorite Toys: Stuffed Animals, Construction blocks (in which she constructs things for her stuffed animals), dress-up attire
Career Aspiration: A doctor and a Mommy
Sweetest Quotes: “I wish that nobody would die. Ever. Only mean bugs.” and “I wish that guns weren’t real. I want to live in a land where there are no guns.” and, saying goodbye to Lainie last summer when Lainie moved, “I’m not saying goodbye. We’re in a movie! And people in movies don’t move!”
Fourth Birthday Gift: First bike
Happy Birthday to our beautiful, creative, energetic, compassionate girl. Being three held many challenges for Quinn: moving to Georgia and saying goodbye to her first and closest friends, starting preschool at a new school, living in our landlords’ personal residence for three weeks, moving to a rental house without the big yard, playset, flourishing garden, and neighborhood kids that she was used to on Mulbbery Ave, and, just 9 months later, getting the news that she is moving yet again in the summer. We are so proud of how well she has handled this tough transitions. She definitely had her angry moments, but mostly, she is an obviously happy, happy little girl.
She also had many joys during the last year. Best of all, she got a baby sister. She is growing into the kind of big sister that makes us proud every day. Of course she zealously competes with Clara for our attention, but she has never resented Clara or said anything unkind to her “Little Tiny.” Rather, she is full of love and hugs for Clara. Now that Clara is a little tougher, Quinn loves nothing more than carrying her around. They play together, laugh together, and as of last night, sleep through the night together.
(Overpriced “crib canopy” to make Clara’s crib feel more closet-like)
Also this year, shortly after she began school at Emmanuel in Ms. Bette’s and Mr. Keith’s class, she made new best friends, Janie and Lila. Recently, when Janie was on vacation for four days, Quinn said, “I miss Janie so much and she has been gone so long that it feels like she is one of my old friends!” She is so loyal to these two girls and talks about them every day.
Starting last fall, she started her first activities. Over six months, she has learned beautiful moves on her trapeze and can pay close attention during a very structured ballet and tap class. Still, if you ask her what she enjoys about her activities, she tell you that she likes seeing Lila and Janie at trapeze most of all. Other big milestones: her big girl bed that we got from Ikea when sleep was going so poorly that it couldn’t get much worse. She loved her little bed from the start. Now, however, she’s so excited about sharing a room with her baby sister, she is already talking about getting a bunk bed someday. Another big achievement this year was being a flower girl in her Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Tao’s weddding. She has come a long way since Aunt Renee and Uncle John’s wedding when she had to hold my hand. This time, she was the big girl, helping little two-year-old Ella down the aisle. She made us so proud. Moving again has put her into a mode where she feels overwhelmed and reclusive more easily than she normally would, but, sleep-deprived and feeling shy, she bravely walked down the aisle.
We celebrated her fourth birthday the day after the wedding at a new bar called the World Famous, with kindie rock band Like Totally. It was so great to have family in town– Nana, Papa Ris, Virginia, Grandpa, Pammy, Aunt Renee, and Uncle John all attended. Most of her class came as well as her friends Norah, Samer, Sophie, and Sophia. They all danced and had a blast. When Ms. Bette asked Lila if she danced at Quinn’s party, she held her hand out and replied, “I didn’t stop.” We had a unicorn pinata and a unicorn/dragon cake from the Grit. She is still not eager to leave the house because she’s having so much fun with her new presents.
New state, new school, new house, new friends… Quinn is still Quinn. She loves to draw and create. She doesn’t make pictures or paper airplanes or bows for herself– they are always gifts for others. She’s pretty intense if you get a look at something she is making for you before it is finished. She loves surprises. She feels uncomfortable getting gifts without giving one first. She can play pretend for a couple hours straight with great focus. Sometimes, when she is doing this alone, she gets embarrassed if we’re listening. She is still high energy. She doesn’t do anything halfway. She doesn’t like when we teach her things because she loves to feel like she figured it out herself or had the idea herself. She is independent at her best, stubborn and bullheaded at her worst. Her new favorite phrase is, “I don’t have to.” She is loving. She loves to describe to us how much she loves us: “I love you all the way to the mooon and back and to other lands and back and all the way to the tops of the highest mountains,” etc. She is sensitive. It has become hard to find movies that she enjoys because she is adverse to scary and sad parts. We watched Charlotte’s Web and she realized that mothers die. This made her extremely angry. A few months later, she watched the Velveteen Rabbit and cried for the first time during a movie. It may have been the first time she cried tears of sadness. She is still most afraid of abominable snowmen. Chill Out, Scooby Doo was a big mistake. She seems to be more sensitive surrounding transitions, and the move is already looming. She had a particularly angry morning recently, and I begged her to tell me what was bothering her. I asked her if there was any sadness stuck in her that she is not telling me about. She admitted that there is and said, “I won’t tell you my sad. I won’t tell anyone my sad!” I finally played a guessing game where she denied being sad about the move or missing people. She finally came out with, “I am sad that I do not have a climbing tree.”
We are looking forward to the year ahead with her. We are sad to see her say goodbye to the friends she loves, but we are excited about the new ones she will make in Florida. And hopefully, all the friends she has made along the way will make there way down to see us in Gainesville, or, at least meet us at Disney World. We have been repeating the mantra of our last move lately: “Everything is coming with us to Florida. Our things. Our cats. Our family. Family sticks together.” We feel so lucky to have such a healthy, strong, happy 4-year-old.
It’s hard to believe Clara has been brightening our days for almost a year now. Her eleventh month was busy for Dave and me, house hunting in full throttle. We made a trip down to Florida to look at houses, and we made it into a mini beach vacation with Nana in Cedar Key on the Gulf of Mexico. It was Clara’s first time seeing the ocean. Quinn felt like it was her first time too because she hasn’t been since she was about 18 months old. Ooops. Hopefully, we’ll be better beach people soon when we live in Florida. Clara was a great little traveler, as usual. She loved all the sand (yum!). I thought she might get braver about walking at the beach, but she enjoyed zipping around on all fours, as usual. When we got home, she started something new though. She now stands up from a squatting position and can stand for over a minute, if distracted. A few times, she has been so focused on something that she has actually taken a step. She then plops down and crawls where she needs to go.
She loves waving at everyone, including strangers a block away. She is a big fan of the double wave. When she sees Dave lately, she is clearly saying “Da-da” to him. She loves her cats and calls them both Dasher (or “Dadder” in a high-pitched voice). We can almost make out the words “hi” and “bye” sometimes. Her cutest trick is when she crawls away, pauses at the entry of the room, and waves bye-bye.
Now that she’s sturdier, she has become a big fan of roughhousing with her sister. Quinn loves to pick her up and carry her around, and Clara usually enjoys it, squealing and smiling.
She still gets most excited about her cats. Other new favorites: bouncing and wiggling to songs and trying to put on shoes. She tried to pull her clothes over her head too, and has pre-temper tantrums when she fails (which is every time).
It’s springtime in Georgia. The irises and daffodils are emerging, the gloomy cloud cover has lifted, and our onions (the only thing that the animals left us) are ready to be harvested. Quinn loves markers of time and seasons passing– the activities, decorations, traditions, etc. She has already decorated a batch of Easter eggs and pretended to be an onion-loving Easter bunny. She’s begun preparing for her favorite time of year (along with Halloween)– her birthday. She throws surprise parties for herself daily, with dozens of stuffed animals in attendance. She can’t wait to turn four like Janie and Lila (her best buds).
Quinn was elated to have her Aunt Kate visit. She brought along her boyfriend Will, who we all approved of, even Dave. She asked when Aunt Kate was coming about twenty times the day of her scheduled arrival.
Me: In ten minutes, Quinn.
Quinn: That’s too long!!
We had a great visit, sharing meals and just being silly (Quinn’s favorite pastime with Kate).
Last night went well until around midnight when Clara woke up and thought, “Hey! This isn’t my Pack N’ Play! This is my nap crib!” She wailed inconsolably until we laid her down in her trusty little bed in the closet. Quinn slept soundly through the whole thing. Tonight we will find out if she was actually saying, “Hey, this isn’t my closet!” Hopefully, it was just a bed issue, and she’ll be ready to move into the crib in a few days after getting used to the room change.
We tried to move Clara into Quinn’s room back in November right before the recurrent ear infections began because both of them were sleeping so well. Now that Clara is sleeping 8 to 8 in her Pack N Play, we think it’s time for her to come out of the closet and sleep in a real crib in a real room. Quinn is so excited. To prepare, she has been practicing her new morning routine for weeks. Gone are the days of our 6:30 (now 7:30, THANK YOU TIME CHANGE!) wake-up call: “THE SUN IS YELLOOOOOOOOOOOOW! GOOD MORNING!!!!!!!” She still waits for the sun to turn yellow but instead of hollering, she tiptoes quietly out of the room and gets in bed with us.
Night One Bedtime went pretty well. Fingers crossed for a quiet night.
The past month has been so wonderful. Clara’s ear tube surgery went so smoothly, and she got immediate relief from pain that had been ailing her for almost three months. She has been sleeping through the night since the surgery. She’s always been a happy baby, but now she is happy and much more active. She does laps around the house, speed-crawling and exploring everything (everything in her path, cabinets, boxes, etc). She loves to sit in the play room, and will crawl away to go there and play with toys. Today I found her stacking two blocks. Her other cool trick of late– when I put her down in Quinn’s classroom at pick-up, she makes a beeline for the bin of lunch boxes and grabs Quinn’s.
At home, she spends much of her day chasing after the cats and her big sister. When she hears a song (most often the Dragon Tales theme song, which seems to be on a lot at our house lately), she bounces, claps, and twists from side to side. She squeals and flaps her arms in glee for no particular reason.
She still loves to eat. She gets really upset at the grocery store if we don’t give her something to munch on in the cart. She has moved on from pureed baby food to anything she can pick up. Her favorite foods are bananas, kiwi, peas, veggie burgers, meatballs,sweet potatoes, bread, and cheese. Last month she had two teeth on the bottom, and now she has four new ones on top. Teething doesn’t seem to bother her too much. I imagine it is far less painful than the eight ear infections. She seems to be hearing a lot better because she’s babbling more. I can make out something that sounds like “diddy dat” and “Dadder” for both Dasher and Captain. She calls Dave “Da-da,” and when she is sad and wants to be picked up, she crawls to me crying, “Mamamamamama.” Quinn loves playing with her even more lately, and they laugh and play little games together (if you consider putting toys in each other’s mouth a game). It’s bittersweet seeing her do all these new things so quickly. She’s going to be a little girl before we know it.
She just started pushing around Quinn’s wooden stool as a makeshift walker, but doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to walk on her own. She stands on her own pretty well, but only if she’s really focused on something and doesn’t realize what she’s doing. She started climbing up the stairs, so we finally had to put up gates.
She’s got such a sweet personality. People comment a lot on how she loves to go with the flow. She smiles a lot but gets shy and coy with people that aren’t family. She gives friends a lot of bashful smiles as she buries her head in my shoulder. It’s super cute. After a couple of minutes, she warms up and waves at people.