Today, you are nineteen months old. You have a vocabulary of over 100 words that you will use, in context, without prompting: you can mimic and/or understand many, many more. (To put it in perspective, The Experts expect you to know and use five words by this age in order to eliminate the possibility of a speech delay.) You are completely unstoppable when it comes to Getting Into Things: you can now climb up onto our coffee table, our couch, and our dining room chairs without any assistance – and VERY quickly! This, in turn, means that you can climb onto the dining room table, the kitchen table, the kitchen counters, and so on. AND YOU DO. Your dad and I are really scrambling to figure out how to keep you (um, and our stuff) safe during these new developments.
Your personality is really shining through, too. You have a great sense of humour and love to make your parents (and grandparents) laugh. You are also very, very into music. You love to dance and you love to make music with, for example, Grandpa Ron’s piano. You have started to be interested in watching things on the TV, and your favourite thing to watch is music videos (especially those that simply feature the band playing their instruments. “Guitar! Guitar! Grandpa! Drum!” you shout excitedly (because both your Grandpas play guitar, the word guitar is ALWAYS followed by the word Grandpa). The instant the music ends, you sign and say “more” until we start another one.
This month, I took you on a week-long trip: first to Powell River, where we spent five days with Grandpa Ron and Grannie Maureen, and then to Vancouver, where we celebrated your great-aunt Liz’s 60th birthday with many family and friends. I was nervous, as usual, about what effects the trip would have on your sleeping habits, especially since we’ve gone through some struggles lately in that area. And as usual, I suppose I needn’t have worried, because you slept like an absolute champ. You always turn out to be far more adaptable than I think you are – but I guess in the long run, I’d rather worry needlessly than get overconfident and then pay the price!
You sure had a great time hanging out with your cousins and second cousins at the big birthday party. Last time you saw all those kids, you couldn’t walk yet: this time, you were in your glory as you could follow them from room to room and participate in whatever craziness was going on. You were just glowing with happiness to be part of the action, whether dancing to Raffi, jumping on the bed, or taking turns with an electronic toy.
Even though you are a very fast learner, Gwen, you don’t always learn things the exact way we would hope. For example, on the weekend I went to the spa and got a manicure with a lovely plum-coloured nail polish. You noticed this dramatic colour right away, and I took the opportunity to try and teach you the word “purple”. You were very co-operative, and often pointed at my fingernails and said “purrpurr” for the next day or two. I was quite proud of your growing mind, until your father pointed at his (non-painted) fingernails and asked you “What’s this, Gwen?” Sure enough, you answered “purrpurr”. (This is similar to the way you cover your mouth and say “cough, cough” AFTER you cough, or the way you stand up on a chair and shout “BUM!” (because that’s what WE say when you stand on a chair…)
Your favourite songs are “Itsy-Bitsy Spider,” “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” and “If You’re Happy and You Know It”. You request the latter nearly every day, and for the former two you will attempt to do the actions and even sing along a little bit. Your favourite stuffies are Bunny and Lamby, and I think your favourite toy is your LeapPad, though it’s hard to know for sure because you play with pretty much all your toys fairly consistently. Your usual M.O. is to dump all the perfectly-organized baskets and bins of stuff all over the floor, one after the other, as if you are making sure all your toys are still there. We call this the Toy Inventory.
You are also still enthralled with books. Some of your favourites are “Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb” and “I Already Know I Love You”, as well as your beloved Baby Einstein Alphabooks. It is thanks to the Alphabooks that you already know two of your letters: R and O. (I keep telling people it’s not nearly as amazing as it seems: if you can recognize and identify a picture of a dog and a cow and a sheep, why should it be amazing that you can recognize and identify the shape of a letter? It’s not as if you understand the abstract concepts represented by the letter, you just know that that shape is called “R”.)
On the other hand, something I do think is kind of amazing (an opinion shared, so far, only by your Uncle Mikey) is the fact that you have somewhere picked up the phrase “I did it!” Not only is this phrase utterly adorable when spoken with your wide-eyed pride and awe, but I cannot figure out where you learned the switch from “you” to “I”. Prior to you using this phrase, if you accomplished something, I would praise you: “You did it!” But when you started saying it, you didn’t parrot me, saying “You did it!” – you said, “I did it!” Unless Denise has been saying “I did it!” whenever you complete a task, and you are just mimicking that, you are some kind of freak genius child who has realized that I am I and you are you and that is not supposed to happen for another couple of years. In any case, like I said, it’s super-cute to hear you say it. (I’ve tried to capture it on video, but it’s completely unpredictable, so I have not succeeded.)
It's hard to capture just how amazing you are, Gwen, but every month I try my damndest. If nothing else, I hope these newsletters show you how proud I am and how blessed I feel to be your mom. I love you so much, my girl.