The last week of her first year was mainly notable for her communication progress. She really seems to get what the "milk" sign means now, and seems so proud of herself as she signs while nursing :) And although she apparently just equates me with "milk", since she just starts signing it as soon as she sees me and as soon as I (try to) walk away, it was a little eye-opening for me to see how frequently she nurses now. I had been trying to offer more often (or at least just not push her off until a more "convenient" time), but I apparently still have been not reading her cues as well as I thought I was, since now that we have a clear way to communicate when she wants to nurse, the frequency has really increased.
Audra has a handful of words she tries to say (duck, fish, elephant, Josie, moo), and she now tries to repeat after us as we name the things for her that she points out to us. Surprisingly enough, only just now has she started to shake her head "no" - I would've thought she'd pick that up sooner, given how often she sees it ;) She also likes to play chase, and runs off giggling as I come towards her. This game is absolutely adorable but also a bad idea, since she does really like it, but it usually just means she falls all the harder at the end. She also does this thing with her arms now, where she holds them together with her palms up - it's just unclear if this is her attempt at catching (or grabbing) things or asking for a hug.
Her sleep was better than it has been, and she actually napped for a couple of hours straight a few times now, without needing to nurse to resettle herself every half hour. And after daycare told us that transitioning to Audra sleeping in a cot did not go so well the first couple of days, she was eventually even able to sleep on a flat surface for a couple of hours without needing to be rocked to be resettled. Hopefully once she has that down at daycare, we can implement their techniques at home too ;) Audra also was down to maybe 4 or 5 wakeups overnight, which sounds kind of awful but is a big improvement for her, so I'm happy :) I'm not even sure how it's going to work when she eventually does start sleeping through the night, since I have troubles sleeping more than 3 hours at a time now too. So maybe we'll have to learn together how to sleep longer ;)
Audra's rash started to clear up, then got much worse after we went to the pool again, so it's pretty clear to us that chlorine is at least partly responsible for her skin irritation. Now that we know to avoid that, hopefully her rash will clear up entirely soon. She is quite the helper when it comes to shoes, and likes to collect and distribute shoes to everyone as we're getting ready to leave :) She also sits so quietly on my lap now (well, sometimes), which I just can't get enough of, as she lets me hug her and hold her close without immediately pushing off of me. On the other hand, she definitely continues to get into everything, as she is now trying shove things into the vents, and has started shutting doors, even when it's not really to her benefit. For example, the other evening she shut herself into my closet (with me on the other side), then cried because she was separated from me... then cried when I opened the door and undid her work. Sigh :-\
Ryan was on travel for work the week of her birthday, so my mom stayed with me to help. Luckily, Audra decided my mom was a perfectly acceptable substitute for me, and was quite happy playing and reading with her most nights, crying when my mom left to take out the trash, and doing plenty of "arms up" to her. For Audra's actual birthday on Thursday, I ended up having to take the day off work since we had a big snowstorm and both Audra's daycare and Josie's school were closed.... but not my mom's work, so I was on my own with both of the girls for the morning. So we had a pretty fun day together, as I strapped Audra onto me and she tried to catch snow in her mouth, and I helped Josie sled down mulch hills and dragged her around on the sled until I was exhausted. Then, after Ryan was stuck on the tarmac for 2 hours waiting for the ice to be cleared, he finally made it back home to say "happy birthday" to Audra when she woke for the first time overnight :)
[Her birthday morning - bedhead and a mischievous look in her eyes]
We had a party for Audra's birthday at her daycare on Friday instead, where I brought the remainder of the rice krispie treats that we/I hadn't already eaten on Thursday, and daycare informed me that Audra apparently never throws tantrums there. They were shocked when they saw her throw herself on her back and kick and flail her arms after I had taken something from her.... this isn't too surprising, since she's going to test her boundaries with us more anyway, but that was still nice to hear :-\
Then on Saturday, we had a party at our house with our families, which was really fun :) We stuck Audra in a fluffy skirt, and she was so pleased with all of the additional people in the house to play with, and loved her balloons... but barely touched her cake (with lard icing). More for me then :) And perhaps also noteworthy for her party was the fact that every last person who attended (except Josie, Audra, and CJ, who all likely already went through it the week before) got a horrendous stomach bug :(
So, we made it a year. This has by no means been an easy year, as transitioning to two kids was both pretty amazing but also more difficult than I thought it would be. And Audra has not exactly been easy. I have to give it to her, though - all the things I found so challenging about her I think have also bound us together more tightly than we might have been otherwise. I struggled with the amount of attention and contact she seemed to need, and her less-than-convenient sleep habits, but I also think she likely would have gotten much less attention as the second child if she had been more passive. While I loved her from the moment she was born in the "I will protect you with my life" sort of way, it did take longer for the deeper "I am enthralled with you and think you're wonderful" sort of love to take root. And I credit her - and perhaps me too, for finally surrendering to parenting her in the way she seems to need to be parented - for causing this, as over the last few months, I've realized how much I think about her and miss her when we are apart now, and how special I think she is. Ryan and I were expecting that we would have to adjust our parenting techniques somewhat for her, but she has pushed us further than I think we were both expecting - which is good. Just as we continue to adjust how we parent Josie to best meet her needs, so too we have to do the same for Audra, as she has made it quite clear that she is her own person. And now that we have made it through the first year, I look forward to seeing what is in store next year for our special - and loud - littlest one :)
[Reading to herself]
[After stabbing her first piece of broccoli on her fork all by herself :)]
[Singing an aria... or just yelling, more likely]
[We are quite impressed that she can put the jack-in-the-box back in by herself]