An infant is like the weather in New England: if you don't like how it's behaving, just wait a bit. The changes in baby Darwin are now easily visible week to week (and sometimes day to day).
And they occur without warning. A month ago, we stopped for an ice cream at Dairy Joy in Weston, where you eat outdoors at picnic tables. Elissa set Darwin down on the table, keeping a hand on her. But then, having briefly let go, Elissa noted that Dar was sitting unassisted for the first time ever. I pulled out my cell phone, and took a picture (see left) to commemorate the event. The photo is time-stamped 8/20/2013, 3:22 PM Eastern Daylight Time, a week before her 6-month birthday. Of course, Dar was using her hands for support, and tilting a bit to her left. And Elissa's hands were nearby, just in case she were to suddenly tip over (since she was high up on a table, not on the floor).
But still, it was a milestone. I immediately e-mailed the picture to Ryan, her father, with the subject line, "Darwin sits!" (You can click on any picture in this entry to enlarge it, and then in most browsers click again to enlarge it even more. Then return with your browser's "Back" button.)
Over the next few weeks, Darwin started sitting without the use of her hands for stability. At first she was pretty shaky, looking a bit like someone balancing on a tightrope. But eventually she got pretty good at it. The photo at the right shows her a few days ago. She can not only sit upright unassisted, but while sitting can use her hands for other purposes. She'll clearly be playing soccer shortly (Ryan coaches a girls' soccer team at the school where he teaches).
Dar has started daycare two days a week, and each day, the center sends home a one-page PDF file summarizing the day's activities for all the children in the group (with pictures). Yesterday's report noted, "Darwin continued to practice sitting up without any support, but today she also practiced standing against the climber as John crawled back and forth through the tunnel part." Note 1
The report two days earlier described reading a couple of books to the group. It said, "John explored To Be a Kid by using his fine motor skills to try to turn the pages", and added, "Darwin explored All About Me! by using her sense of taste." Indeed, Dar is at a stage where she puts pretty much everything she can get her hands on into her mouth.
Another first: Darwin sat in a high chair in a restaurant (picture taken a couple of days ago in Bertucci's, in Wayland Center). OK, she was kind of stuffed in - the chair didn't have very good straps.
So far I've discussed Darwin's physical progress. But her mental development has also changed her a great deal. The week of our Cape Cod vacation in mid August (there's a picture at the bottom of my blog entry American Express) occurred at a particularly difficult time in Dar's development. She needed to eat or sleep every few hours, and if she was frustrated in these goals, she fussed or cried.
Meals were particularly difficult, often ending up with one of our party carrying Dar out of the restaurant to be pushed back and forth in her stroller. Elissa did many feedings at a restaurant table while trying to get a bit to eat herself.
But all that's changed. Darwin is now fascinated by the world, and spends her time looking around, particularly at bright colors and dazzling lights. At our lunch in Bertucci's, she sat quietly for the entire meal, playing with her toys, looking around the restaurant, and watching a game on a large-screen television that was in her field of vision (I don't think she sees much TV at home). Going out to eat is quite a bit more pleasant than it was a mere five weeks ago.
Just kidding - that's an empty iPhone case, which two seconds after that picture was taken went straight into her mouth. But the photo illustrates another change - she now uses her hands very purposefully, and with great success, to reach for things she sees, and to place them where she wants them (to be explored by her tongue, generally).
I've already noted in my blog entry Solid food that Darwin likes to feed herself from a bottle or a spoon. Now she can do so with greater success, so feedings are a bit neater. Although to say that are actually neat would be an overstatement - she still uses her outsized green bib.
Many big changes are yet to come. And they'll come in a new house. Last Saturday, Elissa, Ryan, and Darwin moved into their new home, where Dar has her own room. Here they are in front of the house on September 6, the day of the closing, when they became owners.
I see a strong resemblance between Darwin and Ryan in this photo.