it's official, people. she's walking. as in, she no longer crawls.
it's so fascinating to watch the transition. eva woke up one day at 15 mo and decided to walk. so she did, from then on. she had clearly known how for months, but needed to decide to go for it. but once she did... she went from full time crawling to full time walking literally overnight (i believe it was october 3rd?) hazel, on the other hand worked it out over a period of a few weeks... those first strings of 5 or so steps a month ago, then part-time walking (arms out for balance), slowly tipping the balance to walking more than crawling... and for a week or so now, she walks full time. so every day this last month has been something new, a measurable shift in her abilities (not unlike how eva and i have been watching her pinto beans grow, and there's often a change between lunch and dinner. don't blink or you'll miss it!)
she seems thrilled that she can now transport items around the house in true bipedal fashion. which explains why i keep finding markers and rubber bands in the silverware tray of the dishwasher, and why the remote and both cordless phones can generally be found under the kitchen table or in the pantry.
she's signing a bit more but still not too much -- she clearly understands lots of signs, but isn't that in to doing them. and i don't care, because it's communication, that's all i'm really hoping for. she'll be crying at the gate because papa left to go upstairs to work, and i'll call to her from across the room, ask if she wants milk. she'll stop crying, turn and grin, and walk over to me, both hands up flapping away signing milk (one that just really "clicked" for her recently). wow. she's like a whole person. i know that shouldn't continue to amaze me, but it does.
and that brings me to the dominant theme of the last several days -- hazel is officially in a papa phase. say, in that previous scenario, that i'm sitting nursing her, and she may even be three-quarters asleep. larry will walk in, he may or may not speak, and hazel will pry herself awake, wriggle herself into an upright position on my lap, climb down, and make a beeline for him. this is new to me, a baby who will give up nursing to do... well, anything else. but hazel is 100% in love with her papa: more than almost anything in the world, she loves to sleep on his belly (she always has). she lights up when he's around (sorry, mama, you're old news :) and cries when he leaves. she finds him hilarious.
it's a beautiful thing to see. and while part of it is personality and part is the situation (two kids, divided attention), he has more than earned this adoration. they spend so much time together, including hours in the late evening. after i head up to bed, he stays downstairs with her (as he's generally up late anyway) so i can get a couple hours of uninterrupted sleep. if she wakes, he can get her back to sleep with no problem at all. this, too, will never cease to amaze me. (but not really. because it's larry.)
i've said it many times, but we feel so privileged that our children get to have two parents around them for so many hours of the day. (okay, there are times when larry might not think of this is a "privilege", like when he really needs to get some work done and there's crazy flying around out of every corner of the house.) it's easy to become immune to one's own daily experience, whatever it may be, but i am in fact conscious of this one quite often. among all the many blessings in my life, this is a good one. my kids get to have this amazing relationship with their dad (who nicely balances out the mama side of the parental equation). and of course that would be true whatever his job (or my job)... but the extra time together sure is nice, and i am truly thankful for it.
okay, that wrapped it up in a nice tidy bow, but i can't resist this postscript: it's like wrestling a drunk monkey trying to change hazel's diaper these days, never mind trying to get her dressed -- she's halfway across the room and somehow you're still holding onto one sleeve chasing her down. she's not opposed to these things, not (generally) protesting or crying -- she's just too busy to be bothered with it, she has places to be.
but come at her with her shoes.... wow. she-who-shall-not-be-still becomes placid, calm. she watches with rapt attention as you slip the shoe onto her foot. she doesn't even move while you hunt around for the other shoe ("hey eva, have you seen hazel's shoe? can you check the dishwasher?"). she knows her shoes mean freedom. and then she's ready to go.