It feels like spring. The snow is mostly melted off the garden, and soon we'll take the mulch off our strawberry plants. Snowdrops are blooming on the south side of the house; tulip leaves are poking through in the front flowerbed.
And for the past two weeks, new/renewed vocalizations have been sprouting for Joy like shoots from subterranean bulbs. There've been so many, it's hard to keep track. Some of them are Elvis Sightings: she said "buh-buh" for bye-bye, just once! She said "muh" together with her "more" sign at just one snack time, two requests in succession! She said "bay" for her bagel, just once! Others are more durable: a big explosive "pah!" that might mean "play". A lovely "chew" noise that is associated with her chewy toy (and also with a tickle game).
Rose and I have been attuned for noticing signs of spring. We saw the first robin of the season on Friday morning near Joy's daycare. We saw an animal in the backyard that first looked like a rabbit, but then turned out to be a squirrel with a white tuft on the end of its tail.
I remember one of the concerns I had when I first meet with the Birth-to-Three case manager who came to our house for an intake interview. I told him about how, when I would be on for childcare with Rose and Joy and Joy's daycare buddy, I'd point to a squirrel out the front window. Rose and Buddy would be fascinated. I could not get Joy to look. "Maybe it doesn't mean anything," I said self-deprecatingly. The case manager wouldn't commit to what meant what, but told me to keep paying attention.
This morning Joy was looking out the front window, watching a squirrel. Later in the morning we went for a run, with her in the stroller. She tracked a bird that flew over. She giggled at an airplane. And every time a car went past, she'd turn her head around to follow it, with a great big giggle.
Did I mention we went for a run? I am picking myself back up after falling off the wagon with running during the long dark iciness of January and February. It feels so good to re-emerge onto ice-free sidewalks and sunshine pouring down.
Rose is making great strides on piano these days. The material in her class is getting more and more challenging, and she's keeping right up. She's got the ear... when she makes a mistake, she hears and works to correct it. And it helps a lot to have me play through a song just once when the rhythms get too difficult.
Joy's speech therapist was all set to write up a present-level for Joy's upcoming IEP that said something to the effect that imitation was not something that has moved very far forward this year. All of a sudden, the occasional imitations are popping forth all over, from animal noises to word-approximations. At school during her kindergarten practice the other day, she was playing Row Your Boat on one of those wooden rocking-boat kinds of toys, with a couple of other kids. "If you see a lion, don't forget to roar!" went the music. The kids roared, Joy roared. And then she roared again, to get more roars going. Not just imitation, but initiation too!
There are other things -- more occasional potty successes, getting her coat on and off by herself, making attempts to blow bubbles. The list is getting too long to remember. I've been a little bit hesitant to even write about it, for fear of jinxing the whole thing. But I think it's time to start celebrating, at least just a little.