Wednesday, November 28, 2012

His First Big Adventure

Today was the day: I put waterproof pants and boots on Rafael and set him loose to explore the woods on foot! 

He must have known something was different when I put the plastic overalls on him, and his new clunky winter boots. When I took him out of the stroller and set him on the forest path, he stood still for a moment, holding his apple, looking around him, wondering what he was supposed to do.

"Go on Rafael," I said, "Walk around!" He looked at me and then at the path. He took a first few wobbly steps...the boots were hard to walk in at first. But soon he was shrieking with delight, walking as fast as his little legs allowed, falling down every once in a while, rolling in the leaf piles, following the dogs into the ditches, thoroughly dirty and happy. 

This is truly the beginning of a new part of his life. He will no longer watch the woods pass him by, tucked into the wooly warmth of his stroller, merely a witness to the beauty around him. Now every walk will be an adventure! Full of discovery and messy exploration. It is such an awesome thing to watch. 

Thank you for your kind notes, I know it's been such a long time since I last posted. Everything is absolutely fine, I have just been too tired in the evenings to write or work on photos. 

I hope you are all doing very well, getting into the holiday spirit. I put up the very first Christmas decorations today, and am so much looking forward to December!


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Salamander Weather

When it's cold but not freezing...when it is damp with dew and mist....then we must watch every step we make in the woods, because it's what we call salamander weather, when they are out creeping over wet leaves and moss.

I love finding these shy, slow little creatures. There aren't many left, and they always seem so special, like a four leaf clover. I was very happy to capture that first photo, with the salamander's tiny smiling face. He could have clumsily crawled away, but instead, he stayed still, letting me take his picture. 

Mushrooms are soggy with rain and most of the leaves are down, carpeting the paths. Rafael drinks warm milk with breakfast now, and we turn on all the heaters in the evenings for his bath time. The days are so short, and winter is just around the corner. 

Happy November! Such an exciting month...


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Rafael Right Now, 13 1/2 Months

Guess where I am right now, while I'm writing this blog post? In bed! Alone! I know, I am as surprised as you are. I can't remember the last time I sat in bed, covered in a warm blanket, in the middle of a blustery day, with my computer on my lap. Ramon took Rafael on a walk, so I have some 'me time.' It won't last long, but hopefully long enough for me to write this post.

Rafael right He has grown so much, and is evolving every day. Besides the joy of him learning words, or learning how to walk, the most significant thing for me is watching his personality unfold. I am getting to know him, and at the same time, I am also one of the people molding him into the person he will one day be. 

As much fun as this time is, with him making me laugh throughout the day, it is also the most challenging age so far. He is mobile, quick, and curious. He understands so much, but chooses to ignore 'NO' most of the time. My approach to authority is to keep a loud and strict 'no' for the things that are dangerous. I don't want to over-use the word, and make it into something he hears all the time, therefore making him more likely to ignore it. But of course a 'no' also comes out when he is throwing rice in fistfuls from the highchair after I just vacuumed, or when he is poking the dogs while they are trying to eat. The hardest part for me is when my 'no' causes him to cry and throw a fit. This usually only happens nearing the end of the day, when he is tired. But I never really know what to do in this situation. He won't let me hug him, and usually points at my chest, demanding I comfort him by nursing. This leads me to say 'no' again, but it's a somewhat bewildered 'no,' because I am torn between going the easy way and giving him what he wants, or showing him that breastfeeding isn't something he demands from me when he is angry. In other words, I don't want to be bullied into breastfeeding him every time he doesn't get his way with something else. To me, this feels like our first bout of 'power struggle.' I try to avoid this situation at all costs, because it's very uncomfortable to me. It breaks my heart when he is crying his eyes out, pointing at my chest, wanting to be comforted, knowing I could give him that comfort very easily. But it just feels wrong.

Besides those tantrums, and my personal struggle with finding my voice and stance as a mother, I must say that Rafael is the most loving and hilarious little person I have ever encountered. This guy really has a sense of humor! We crack each other up so much, and there is nothing like hearing and seeing him laugh really hard. 

Another thing that impresses me is his incredible eye for detail. He will make car noises, pointing at a soda bottle, and I'll think, 'What is he talking about?' Then I turn the bottle to see what he's looking at, and there's a small red sports car on the label. 

Today he was looking at a book about winter, and there was an illustration of birds picking at the snowy ground. He pointed at them and then threw his arms wide and to the back, like wings. I have never shown him this move; in Baby Signing we learned to show a bird by using the thumb and index finger, up and down, like a beak opening and closing. He came up with this sign on his own, by observing the birds flying on our walks, and I thought, 'His sign makes so much more sense!' 

His eyes are definitely brown now. He has eight lovely little teeth. His hair grows at an alarming rate, it's been cut three times already and he'll need to go to the hair salon again soon! Feeding him is a bit difficult at the moment, as he seems to be getting very picky, and I'm never quite sure what to cook for him. It's pretty frustrating to cook him a meal and have the majority of it land on the floor!

One of the funnest things we do lately is go to the Schönbrunn Zoo in Vienna. We bought year-cards, so we can go as often as we like. Rafael especially loves the fish in the indoor aquarium, the seals, the flamingos, and the red pandas. 

My little with him is such an adventure. I love him so incredibly much. I thought about his birth the other day, while running errands and pushing him in the stroller, and was so overwhelmed by my love for him, by the bond we share. I had to stop the stroller and nuzzle his nose and shower his tiny smiling face with kisses.


Happy Halloween!

Having friends with babies gave us the perfect excuse to throw a Halloween party...who doesn't want to see their little one in an adorable costume? 

Rafael was a perfectly round Jack-O-Lantern, Ramon was a cowboy, and I was a black cat. In our group of friends there was a Doctor in scrubs, Mary Poppins, and a Vampire couple. Raffi's little friends consisted of a frog princess, Superman, and Count Dracula.

Today, the perfect thick mist was curled all around the village, so fitting to Halloween! I baked a chocolate cake, covered it in cream cheese frosting, and topped it with little marshmallow ghosts. It was already getting dark when I took the photo of the cake at 4 o'clock, and it was so dark when guests arrived that the photos didn't turn out. So, we will have to keep this Halloween saved by memory. And make a note for next year: take photos while it's still light out!

It's crazy to think that, next Halloween, Rafael will be able to tell me what he wants to dress up as. This is all going so incredibly fast. (Have I mentioned that he's walking now?!)

I hope you and yours enjoyed a fun and festive Halloween! 



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