Annabelle has always had a pretty good vocabulary, but not everyone has always been able to understand what she's saying. I, of course, always understood her pretty well because I'm always around her and probably taught her most of the words, but just today Erica pointed out how she can understand Annabelle really well now. She's really speaking clearly, and after Erica pointed that out, I realized that I've been translating for her to other people a lot less now. She still makes the "t" sound for the "k" sound (like calling Corgan "Tworgan"), but other than that, I think most of her baby sounds are gone. The conversations that she has with me really amaze me. The questions that she asks. The ideas that she expresses. The dreams that she has. Wow! Her teacher even noted a few months back about how Annabelle is one of the best at show and tell because she's such a good public speaker. As a daughter of two Toastmasters, it makes us very proud (and no, this skill isn't because we make her do speeches for us at home... although tabletopics, maybe)! Nikki recently spent a day with Halle and Annabelle in their class, and she commented on what a great job Annabelle did too. She recorded part of Annabelle's show and tell (that's another blog that I've got coming), and I was really impressed too. :) I always wanted to be a fly on the wall during her show and tell because I knew that having me in there would make her act differently, and thanks to Nikki, I got to be one. Yes, I was there when she did her "Tera" (the dinosaur) show and tell, but the kids were so excited then that it was more "show" than "tell".
Annabelle has never really tried to color within the lines or had the dexterity to write small things. She can draw straight lines and circles, and never had any interest in trying to write letters. When she did try letters, even just 2 months ago, she really struggled and gave up easily (except for the "H" for Halle, that she'll write over and over and over again). Yesterday while Corgan was napping, she pulled out a letter tracing dry-erase type coloring book that she has and asked me to do it with her. After showing her how to do a couple of letters, she was doing them on her own. She was still tracing every letter, but she was actually staying on the lines and not getting frustrated at all! Yea!
Belle has always really liked to do puzzles, but until recently didn't seem to really get the concept of the ones with pieces that fit together. The puzzles with individual pieces each shaped differently to fit into one particular spot, she did fine with though. With the puzzle-piece shaped ones she would just try putting every piece in until one fit, unless she had quite a bit of guidance. But now, she is zipping through the 9 piece wooden puzzles, and does pretty well with the 24 piece ones on her own once she's done them a few times and knows about where everything in the picture is supposed to be.
Annabelle's athletic ability seems to be one area that she constantly excels in. I think a lot of that comes from her genetically competitive nature. With the few strange exceptions, Annabelle has done really well with swimming. Except for the first day of swimming lessons when she freaked out, she hasn't complained once in her swimming lessons and is doing really well. In fact, I'm still convinced that she's in the wrong class because she breezes through every activity they give her to do and doesn't seem to be learning much. The one thing that I guess she is learning though is to have more confidence, and she's getting even more exposure to the water, which in turn makes her even more comfortable. Today was Elena's 1st birthday party, and it was at a pool. Annabelle was having fun swimming with Halle, and when Halle put on her water wings (that's what we used to call our arm floaties), I let Annabelle try some that I had just bought to see how she did with them. I had been hesitant to put them on her because I didn't want her to like them so much that she didn't want to swim without them, but I bought them for Corgan because he just will not stay out of the pool when you tell him to. I let her try them anyway because I was afraid that she was going to jump in when no one was looking. She spent a good hour swimming all over the pool chasing Halle, throwing and chasing a floating water bottle, and jumping in on her own. She LOVED it. At first I think she was a little frustrated because she couldn't move as fast (because she couldn't use her arms), but she learned to kick better. When Halle got out, Annabelle said she was done with the water wings. I thought she was ready to get out too, but she wanted to jump in with Corgan a few more times so I put the water wings on Corgan, and let her jump in to swim to me. She kept telling me to back up further. One time, she jumped in and swam to me... and stopped to take a breath while she was swimming!!! I was SOOOO excited that she did that! That has been my goal for her this summer! I let her know just how excited I was once she got to me. I think she was equally as excited, and she asked to do it again! And she did! YEA!!! Corgan's swimming today was really impressing me too. He isn't quite swimming on his own, but he has absolutely NO fear of being totally submerged under the water. He still keeps a huge open-mouth smile on his face while he's under the water, but apparently he's at least not breathing in when he does that. He will jump in off of the side from standing or sitting with no hesitation. Most times when he jumps in, I don't touch him for a second or so so that he is totally submerged. He kicks like crazy, but doesn't really propel himself. It's hilarious too because whenever he does that, he shakes his head back and forth like crazy. That made it really hard to get a good under water picture of him. :) When he jumps in I'll also do some moves that they taught us in the Parent/Tot swimming lessons. Sometimes I'll turn him back around toward the wall while he's still submerged (to teach him to reach for the wall if he does fall in) and other times I'll let him kick back to the surface, then after he gets a breath I tell him to "swim" back while I let him go back under the water and lead him back to the wall by just pushing the back of his head. He is doing so awesome for only being 22 months old! I'm sure having a "Seaturtle Astronaut" (Annabelle's new self-proclaimed name) for a sister makes a huge difference too. He sees what she's doing and wants to do it too! Speaking of that, both of them tried diving again today. Annabelle did it a few times, and while she isn't doing it with quite the perfection that she had last summer, she's at least trying it on her own again. Corgan did it with me leading him with my hands, but he loved it too. No fear, that kid! Oh yeah... AND Annabelle was retrieving diving sticks off of the bottom of the pool at the 4 ft depth. She tried swimming down on her own, but her buoyancy wouldn't let her get down there, so I helped her. I would stay above water and push her down at her neck, she'd kick like crazy and managed to grab the stick about 90% of the time! By the time that they were ready to get out of the water, Annabelle's eyes were totally bloodshot from swimming with her eyes open so much. It reminded me of when I was little and the many hours that we spent swimming at my parent's friends' house ("Jim & Lora") where the days ended with my eyes on fire from all of the swimming. Those were the days, and I'm sure my little kiddies have many of those days ahead of them too!
P.S. Enjoy the pictures of swimming at the party today on our photo gallery.