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(Last Mod: 04 November 2010 18:14:48)
Phoebe and Stacy arrived in Colorado Springs late (like, 11pm late) on the 21st. I had wanted to take a picture of the two of them at the airport but someone (okay, I admit it, it was me) forgot to take their camera. It's going to take a while to really get into the habit and I'm sure I will miss out on many opportunities in the meantime. I really wish I had a picture from that first meeting -- but, oh well.
It wasn't until a couple days later that I thought, "Doh, they've been here a couple days and you still haven't taken a single picture!" Stacy really liked the flash and would smile and giggle every time it went off. I was at least able to catch one of those captivating smiles, although the picture just doesn't do it justice.
You might notice that there are no pictures here. That's because someone (any guesses?) forgot to take their camera.
This day was not one of Stacy's more agreeable days. While she had been tolerating me pretty well - she would even come up to me once in the morning all on her own - she didn't really want much to do with me on this day. She wanted her mom, plain and simple. She would play with me for a few seconds, but if I tried to hold her she would start wiggling like made trying to get to her mom. That's how she earned the nickname "Little Miss Wiggles" or the "The Wigglet" from me. Usually, I just call her "Wiggles" and leave it at that.
We tried to go to the zoo but were just a few minutes late to get admitted. So, instead, we took the Skyride and spent some time up at the top. Don't expect to really see much of the zoo, if you go, but the view of the Colorado Springs area on the way down is well worth the $5 ticket price. While at the top we met an interesting couple that gave us some child-rearing tips since Stacy was bawling pretty much constantly for her mom's attentions. I (the great child-rearing expert that I am) mentioned that I figured we just needed to put her in a room with a bunch of her toys and put a gate across the door and let her cry herself out. They said that part of that approach was right, but that it had a serious flaw. They surmised that Stacy was going through what they termed "first phase separation anxiety" -- this sounded reasonable to us, although the "first phase" part didn't sound particularly encouraging! They said that while the goal is to demonstrate to Stacy that she won't get her mother's attentions (or whatever else she wants) just by crying, that is was crucial that we do so in a way that underscores that she is not actually being separated from her mother. In other words, decouple physical access to Phoebe from the ability to exert control over Phoebe through crying. This made a lot of sense to us.
What they recommended was putting her in a room that was removed from where we were but from which she could get to us on her own. They said it was important not to strand her by putting up a gate or closing a door and also to be sure that Stacy knew we were around either by passing in sight of her from time to time or being sure that she could hear our conversation. They then said to simply ignore her, no matter how much she cried and even if she's tugging on your legs. After she does make it to you and you let her tug on you awhile, they said to pick her up and put her back were she started without doing anything to try to sooth her or really even acknowledge her any more than necessary - that it's important to minimize whatever benefit she perceives she's getting from crying. So you simply reset her, walk away, and start all over. They said to do this frequently (pretty much any time she is crying excessively and apparently just to get attention) and that it might take two or three months to get over the problem.
When we got home Stacy was still adamant about wanting to be attended to by her mom pretty much continuously, so we figured we'd try their advice. Since Stacy was good at going up steps (but not quite ready to go down them) we (by "we," I mean "Phoebe") put her downstairs in the family room while we (by "we," this time I really do mean both of us, although I pretty much just imitated a statue most of the time) would stay upstairs and go about our business. Phoebe placed a number of Stacy's toys along the path and sometimes one of them would catch her attention for a fraction of a minute and sometimes not - she was pretty single minded and a couple times I thought she might beat Phoebe back up the steps! After about six bouts Phoebe went into the living room and laid down on the floor with her head tucked away in her arms -- so now she started out of sight from Stacy, which was not appreciated in the least! At this point I saw an opportunity to get involved in the process; I laid down at the base of the steps going upstairs so that we didn't have to add a stranded-Stacy to the mix. Since her sole focus was mom, I was a complete non-entity and therefore made a particularly effective barrier. But that meant that I got to watch how Stacy was reacting to her mom as her mom patently and patiently ignored her. I can only imagine how hard that is for a mother to do, but Phoebe stuck to her guns. Stacy would get up to her mom and climb on here and pound on her and, when Phoebe didn't respond, the crying would intensify. Phoebe would let that go on for several minutes and then we (okay, she) would reset her back downstairs. After five or six cycles of this we agreed to stop after one more time - it was not only approaching Stacy's bed time but we figured enough torture had been inflicted for one night, although we weren't altogether sure just who, exactly, had been the tortured party! We had been told that it might take months, so we weren't expecting to see any change and weren't in the least surprised or disappointed when we didn't. But what happened next was amazing and did surprise us.
The last round started out like all the others. Stacy came upstairs, went to her mom, and started really crying when her mom wouldn't respond. But after a minute or so, like someone had flipped a switch, she simply stopped crying. For the next hour and a half she played with a baby bottle cap and seemed perfectly content. She never got more than four feet from her mom and occasionally would go over and push on her mom once or twice, but most of the time she sat on the floor and either played with the cap or played with some nearby magazines. At times she was even sitting with her back to Phoebe. I think twice, perhaps, in that entire time she started to cry, but both times the first sounds were hardly out of her mouth before she stopped and had this look that almost seemed to say, "Oh, forget. Been there, done that, no point." They warned us that it might take two or three months for it to really work - but Stacy's stubbornness gave way to adaptation (for lack of a better term) after only a few hours. We expected all progress to be lost the next day, but it really seemed to stick the rest of the time Phoebe and Stacy were here. It was remarkable to witness what, to me, was a profound moment of development in this child's life.
I sure wish we had gotten that couple's name and number! ;-P
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
We spent the morning at the zoo before Phoebe and Stacy had to go to the airport to go back to Minnesota. We seem to have had a good time. Of course, we didn't see the entire zoo and many of the animals were no shows (including the T-Rex ;-P). It's hard to tell how much Stacy, at eleven months, really enjoyed it. She seemed to get into parts of it, like the monkeys. Phoebe said that this was the first time she's ever fallen asleep in her stroller - though I don't know what that really says.
I definitely want to get a better camera and also get better at using it. None of these pictures do these two justice. I almost felt sorry for the parents of other babies because, on several occasions, people would actually go out of their way to remark on how adorable Stacy was and then not say a word about the two or three other kids around us. There are some other pictures that were taken, but they aren't worth posting. One picture I wish I could have gotten was Phoebe's reaction the first time that giraffe licked her hand - video would have been much better - it was priceless! Just one of the many little things that has endeared this lady to my heart. The best picture by far is the one in the upper-right of the table below. It is now my computer wallpaper.
I'm glad Phoebe never asked to take any pictures, because that means I got away with only being in one of them (well, two, but they were pretty much the same). I really need to lose weight - I may be down a full eighty-five pounds from my all-time high, but at 322 lbs it was still obvious I had such a long way yet to go. I want to be around for these two ladies a long time, and so with their help and inspiration I believe I can reach a reasonable weight. The only fat father I want Stacy to know is the one in pictures taken before she was old enough to have any direct memories.
As a testament to how much progress we made two days prior, Wiggles let me hold her a good fraction of the day including a couple of extended times, once at the zoo and another at the airport, when her mom wasn't nearby or even in sight of Stacy. If that couple was right about it typically taking a couple months, then this is one amazing child. Even if they weren't right, this still seems to be one amazing child.
Phoebe and Stacy left to go back to Minnesota shortly after noon and later, when I returned home, it was to a home that was noticeably more empty and lonely than it had ever been in the literally thousands of times I've come home to it before.
Phoebe e-mailed me these pictures from Stacy's first swim outing. Apparently she was pretty apprehensive at first, but then really took to it and enjoyed herself. I have to agree with Phoebe's comment - she's so cute!!!!!!!!!
Phoebe sent me these pictures from Stacy's lunar birthday. The lady in the middle picture is Stacy's aunt. The first picture was actually taken on the 12th. But since there's no particular story (that I know of) to go with it, I'm lumping it in here.
I also need to track down the e-mail where Phoebe explained that, by some reckoning of the lunar calendar, Stacy was one year old when she was born (or something like that) and was now two even though she wouldn't really even be one for another week and then some. I want to include little trivia bits and pieces in this album as well, and I think that will be an interesting one.
So this entry needs a bit of work.
These were snagged from the appraisal. I plan to take a comprehensive set of photos on or shortly after closing. Partly because I am trying to do a better job of documenting my life now that I am about to have a family, partly so that I have some kind of record in case I need it for homeowner's insurance reasons (like forest fires - eek!), and partly because I think it will be neat to have a record of how the house changes - or doesn't - over the years.