Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dear Gwen: Month Eleven

Dear Gwen,

I kind of wish you could stay eleven months old forever, and that the magic allowing that to happen also enabled me to stay home from work forever. I feel like the next few weeks will be the last of our "babymoon" where, for the most part, it's just you and me exploring the world, and that "real life" is about to invade, conquer, and take over entirely. My longing to keep the real world at bay isn't just about busyness or dislike of my job (although, YES); it's also about the fact that you are at a really fun age right now.

Our weeklong trip to visit family and friends seems to have caused you to become a more affectionate little girl, and you will frequently give me or your dad big snuggly hugs. This is a lovely development. A few days ago you spotted me across the room as I sat on the floor, crawled towards me with great purpose and determination, climbed to standing in my lap, and wrapped your arms around my neck, flopping your head down onto my shoulder. Gwen, do you have any idea how wonderful that makes me feel? It's like after all these months you've finally figured out that these tall people who hang around you all the time are your parents, and you love them, and it makes you feel good to be around them. The feeling is definitely mutual!

We have a lot of pictures of you eating, because that's the only time you sit still.

Another recent change is your appetite, which seems to be increasing. I am still feeding you pureed food which I cook and freeze in ice-cube trays. Where a month ago you only wanted 2 cubes per meal, you now will take 3 and sometimes eat some food off my plate as well if I'm eating something Gwen-appropriate. The pureed food is almost gone, though, and that's a good thing, because you are less and less interested in being spoon-fed, and much prefer to fingerfeed yourself. I'm planning to make up some fish sticks, chicken fingers, and so on, to allow you to do just that.

Your daily meals at present are:
Upon waking: 4 oz bottle formula, because you've just slept for delve sours and I don't want to make you wait till we're both dressed and toileted and so on before feeding you
Breakfast: small container sugar-free yogurt with daily quota of rice cereal mixed in
Before morning nap: 6 oz bottle formula
Lunch: 3 cubes of pureed vegetable dish, i.e. Tuscan Tomato and Chick Peas, or Carrots and Parsnips au Gratin
Before afternoon nap: 6 oz bottle formula
After nap snack: either 6 oz formula or some kind of easy finger food: could be half an avocado if we have it on hand, or it could be a handful of Nutreeos.
Dinner: 2 cubes of pureed meat dish, i.e. Sole, Vegetables and Cheese, or Charlie's Cheesy Chicken + 1 cube of pureed vegetable dish
Before bedtime: 6 oz bottle formula

Your strength and mobility absolutely astound me. You are getting very good at standing unsupported, and yesterday, I saw you go from standing ... to a squatting position ... then back up to standing again. The whole time, your bum didn't touch the floor, and you didn't use your arms to support yourself either. It was all strength and balance. I don't think I know any adults who could perform the same feat, even if they were totally intrigued with a fascinating new toy.

Another fun change recently is that you have discovered books, and more specifically, how to turn the pages. When we read you your bedtime stories at night we have to make sure not to have our finger behind the next page in preparation for turning, because if we give you any opportunity whatsoever, you'll turn that page. Contents of the current page be damned. We've even seen you playing with books on your own, which is very exciting for both your dad and I. We are big readers, and we hope you will be too. I think most of the other skills, hobbies, and attitudes we hope to instill in you are probably negotiable, but reading probably isn't.

You really enjoyed playing with Kiera and Hannah's toy kitchen.
You've started babbling bigtime this month. Your favourite noise currently is a "lurdle-lurdle-lurdle" sound. It's absolutely hilarious. You say "mama" and "dada" with fairly low frequency and no sign that you understand their meaning. "Bah-bah" for bye-bye is sketchy, too, as you sometimes deign to wave goodbye to people until after they're long gone.

You were also really interested in Kiera's workbench. Take that, gender roles!

Alright, so with all this positive stuff going on, I have to mention the negative stuff too. Your temper has started to emerge. Like me, you're strong-willed. Like me, you're convinced you know best. Like me, you're not shy about showing your displeasure. A prime time to see this temper is at mealtime. You love to eat, yes, but you don't love anything else that goes along with eating:
- getting your bib on
- getting into your chair
- waiting more than 0.0000245 of a second for food to appear
- any method of eating that doesn't involve smearing the food into your hair
- having your sippy cup taken away after the third time of throwing it on the floor
- having your bib taken off
- having your face and hands wiped off
- getting out of your chair

Your tantrums at this point are mostly just laughable, but I have no doubt that soon they will be progressing into truly appalling and embarassing behaviour. Unless my wish comes true and you just stay eleven months old forever.

As I wrote a few days ago, your third tooth is now on its way after four entire months of no new teeth. If you keep up with this schedule, you might have all your teeth by the time you head off to kindergarten. I'm more likely to believe that you'll have no new teeth for a couple of months, and then SIX will appear overnight. At which point, logic dictates that you will be acting like the Anti-Christ.

The last thing I'm going to talk about today is your nap schedule. I've gotten really good, after eleven months of practice, at establishing a flexible daily routine that works well for you, allows me some downtime, and ensures enough daytime sleep. I can read your tired signals really well and I make sure not to let you get overtired. Currently, you seem to be on a pretty good two-and-a-half-hour schedule, meaning I need to start thinking about putting you down for a nap about 2.5 hours after you wake up.

I was really anxious about your transition from two naps to one - then I decided not to stress about it. I've noticed that your afternoon nap has been getting shorter and shorter, and while I used to worry about putting you down for a nap at 3pm - what if she sleeps till 5:30 and then she won't go to bed tonight?! - now I don't think twice about it. If it's late in the day, you're probably going to take a shortish nap anyway, and that's WAY better than trying to keep you awake from the time you wake after the first nap - usually around noon - until 7pm. You seem to be adjusting fairly smoothly, without me doing anything at all, and Gwen - I am SO grateful for that. So many things about being a mom are really, really challenging, and I'm just so very lucky that sleep seems to go more easily for us than for many others. Thank you for that.

We're all dressed up Japanese for an SCA event - and the camera caught you signing "more"!

Gwen, as I'm sure you know, it's my job as your mother to love you. I kind of can't help it. But this month, I realized that I think I'm going to really like you, too. I think you're going to be the kind of person I enjoy, respect, admire, and appreciate, even if we weren't related. I know, being mother and daughter, that you and I are going to bash heads our fair share of times over the years. But I'm going to work hard at making sure we have a good strong bond of trust and love to keep us making up after all those fights. You're my only daughter, and I'm your only mother. Even though the real world is about to get up in our faces something awful, it's still you and me, baby.

March 2009 - the discovery of pigtails. There's no going back now.

Love always,

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