Oct 25, 2011

Dear Daughter: Month 8

Dear Vivienne,

Today you are 8 months old and *ahem* a couple of days. It's getting harder and harder to get to these letters because you are so busy theses days, and I need to show you all the things you want to see. You are still as sweet as ever. This month has been filled with lots of smiles and giggles.

I've always wanted to expose you to books, and start you on the right path of learning. Since you were born, I've sat down with you to read a book or two whenever I get the chance. However, when you were younger, you didn't care for this activity too much so I had to make sure you were in a good mood before attempting to sit you down for reading time, and you would invariably start fussing after one or two books. This month, your opinion of this pastime has completely changed. Now you love reading time. In fact, when you start getting fussy in the evening I know it's time to sit down to read, which cheers you up. You also sit on my lap for long stretches of time; we usually read 11 or 12 of your books each evening. Then we read a little bath-time book, and we have two bedtime books to finish the day. I forgot to mention in previous letters that you have known what "turn the page" means for a few months now, and you do so when I ask you to. The most interesting thing for me is that you have books you love (Mr. Brown Can Moo; Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See; The "That's Not My Monster/Tractor/Puppy" series; Dinosaur's Binkit), but also that you have books you do not care for (The Napping House, We're Going on a Bear Hunt).

You also have music you like to hear. Shake the Sillies Out and The Wheels on the Bus bring an instant smile to your face. We sing these songs on the car ride home each evening, to distract you long enough from the fact that you are getting hungry for oatmeal so that I can get home and make you some (you are not the most patient child I have ever met). We have improvised a few new verses for The Wheels on the Bus. By far, your favorite is "The farts on the bus go...". I'll let you figure out how that verse continues. I sang Dream a Little Dream to you when I was pregnant and as a newborn, and of all songs, this one definitely has the greatest calming effect on you.

The funniest thing that you did this month was laughing hysterically at a ball I was bouncing. I was trying to show you that a ball I had bought for you that day lit up when it was hit hard enough. However, after I few bounces, I realized that you were cracking up laughing each time I bounced the ball. It had nothing to do with the lights in that ball; I switched to another ball that doesn't light up, and you found it equally amusing. I managed to get a video of it, but when I played it back, there was a very loud hissing noise (I had radio playing in the background). Thankfully, I was able to fix it with software, and I have watched it about a thousand times since. I sent it to your father, grandparents, and great-grandmother, all of whom agree that it is adorable. Your laugh is truly the greatest sound I have ever heard.

You have eaten lots of different fruits, vegetables and cereals this month. You really love solids, and try to help me feed you. Alas, that invariably results in you flinging entire bowls of food all over the room. So far you have coated me, yourself, the sofa, my laptop, and my desk at work in Oatmeal or vegetables. I've been making all your foods myself from organic vegetables, because we realized Gerber "organic" bananas contained things like tuna oil, gelatin and several chemicals I can't pronounce (thankfully you won't eat Gerber foods). However, we discovered Earth's Best foods which don't have strange additives, and you like the Sweet Potato with Cinnamon a lot, so I have been experimenting with cinnamon in the foods I make for you. In other food news, we went with the Little Peeps to an apple-picking farm. You and Riley had a great time sitting in your strollers. Unfortunately, the organic apple farm wasn't open for picking, so instead we went to a different farm. That meant you couldn't try any of the apples we bought, so I used them to make your father some apple sauce. I did get you some apples at Atkins Farm, and made you a veggie mix with them.

The biggest event this month was a huge, and unexpected snow storm at the end of October. You were in bed, and your father and I were watching a movie together when the lights started to flicker. Then they were out. We left you in your room as it was nice and toasty, periodically checking your thermometer. However, the electricity didn't come on after a few hours, and the house was starting to get cold, so we lit a fire and camped out as a family in the sitting room. Your father and I were quite uncomfortable, but you thought the fire was fascinating and loved that we were all together. The next day we found out that there was no chance we were getting power back any time soon, so we headed to your Grandmother's house in New Hampshire. We spent two nights there, and she was so happy to get to spend time with you that she sent your father and I out to have a meal by ourselves so that you girls could get some quality time. We had your first Hallowe'en at your Grandmother's house, and you dressed like a little lamb in a costume that I knit for you. Of course you were adorable. The night itself was so low-key, you wouldn't know it was Hallowe'en. We didn't have any other costumes or decorations, and Grandma's house was too remotely located to get any Trick-or-Treaters. However, in the areas affected by the snow, Hallowe'en was cancelled altogether!

You now have two teeth! You weren't very fussy before your teeth came in, just a little restless the night before they arrived. Since then, we keep thinking that you have more teeth on the way. The biggest clue is the fact that you butt-scoot over to furniture so that you can gnaw on them like an otter. I say butt-scoot, because you haven't quite mastered crawling yet. You have all the components, but you're not putting them together in the right order. And, a little like your mother, when you don't get it right the first time you try, you go straight to being totally frustrated. At this point, I usually intervene and carry you to whatever you were trying to get to. I am trying to get better at letting you be frustrated in order to learn from it.

One thing that is not causing you any frustration is learning how to talk. You love chatting away, and I often wake up to the sound of you telling yourself stories over the monitor. Your favourite sound is "dadadadada", which your father has decided means you know how to say his name. Between you and me, I have seen you call your foot, a book, the cat, and bubbles in the bathtub "dada", so if you are communicating that word, you have serious paternal identification issues. Whether or not you know his name, you are the apple of his eye. He asked me to capture you saying "dada" with my iPod, and when I sent him the video, he watched it over and over. You adore him too, you gaze at him as he walks across the room, and whenever he looks at you, your face lights up with the biggest smile I've ever seen you make. Don't worry, I know you love me too.

Thank you for another perfect month,

I love you, sweetie,

Mum xxx

Oct 4, 2011

Dear Daughter: Month 7

Dear Vivienne,

You are now a seven month old baby. I say this every month, but the time is whizzing by. You are developing physically and mentally at a pace I never would have expected. Even your daycare headmistress commented that your mental progress is astounding. I'm delighted that my little girl is so smart and bright.

As you might realize as you grow older, your old mother is a little bit of a hippie, especially where child-raising philosophies are concerned. I'm really a believer in attachment parenting; I believe true independence will come from a place of security. As long as I let you know that you are loved, and safe with me, you will develop your independence yourself. However, I didn't think you were going to do it at six months of age! We had all been co-sleeping happily, though your father had asked that we start putting you in the crib when you turned 6 months old (the age that the SIDS risk plummets). I was decided that we'd co-sleep for a much longer time, maybe up to a year or so. However, the day you turned six months old you started wriggling and fussing in the bed with me. You also abruptly decided the bassinet in our bedroom was no good for you either. In an effort to find anything comfortable for you, I placed you down in your crib, at which point you promptly fell asleep for 7 hours. I miss my little co-sleeper terribly, so when you wake up at around 3am, I take you into the bed with me for the remainder of the night as you are usually too sleepy to notice.

To make up for the loss of co-sleeping, you have reinstated a different bonding activity between us this month. For the last couple of months, you were not remotely interested in nursing during the day, because there was too much to look at. I am glad to report that you have now decided to boycott bottles in favour of nursing. This has posed a problem for your daycare minder, as well as making outings a little more challenging (compounded by your refusal to abide nursing bibs), but I couldn't care less. I love having you nurse again.

The most momentous activity this month for you was our trip to Kansas, which marked your first flight. I was extremely nervous about flying with you, not because of the reaction of other passengers to crying, but to the idea that you would be in pain. I did lots of reading, and sought advice from many people as to how to minimize discomfort. However, it was all for nothing, as you promptly fell asleep right before each take off, and when you did awaken, you were as cheerful as always. I was given many compliments from other passengers about how well behaved you were. My personal moment of triumph was sharing a quiet cuddle with you as a two year old a few rows back was throwing the mother of all tantrums.

Everyone in Kansas was enamoured with you. Your Great-Grandmother Melva had not seen you since you were a month old, and was thrilled to see how much development you have accomplished since then. She commented on how mentally acute you are, noting in particular your fine motor skills. I've always known you were brilliant but it's nice to have it confirmed by someone who ran a daycare for 28 years.

Another concern about travel I had was the possibility that you would get sick. Luckily you didn't, but the week before our trip to Kansas, a stomach virus went through your daycare. You threw up a couple of times, but you never fussed and you didn't get diarrhea like the other children. Your father also caught the bug, and was knocked down for a couple of days with aches and chills. I ended up getting something between the two of you. I think you fared better because you are such a strong and happy little girl, but also because you have been nursed. I've read that being nursed lessens the frequency and severity of contagious diseases. As your father and I weren't nursed, I think we can attest to that theory.

Your daycare is going really well. Marie, your minder, says that you are one of the sweetest children she has looked after. She also commented on how alert and bright you are, and told me that you are really social. Apparently, you stroke the other babies when they crawl by you. I've been working on teaching you to pet the cats (as opposed to grabbing wads of their fur), and I think you might have thought I was telling you to pet anything smaller than you! Marie also said that while you are sweet, you also have a good temper! I have to agree with Marie, as I have seen you get close to terrible two levels when I try to put you in the car seat, or when I fail to get your cereal quickly enough. Your Nana claims you got that from me.

At daycare, you had your first school photo taken this month. I wasn't planning to buy anything as we take photos of you, and my friend Kristin is a great photographer, and is available to take pictures of you. However, I put you in your little "Collins Family" Sweater, and you looked so adorable that your Dad and I ended up buying one. It's very cute.

Your biggest discovery this month is that your little jumper in fact allows you to jump. It's very sweet to watch you in it. You seem to forget that it has this property, and accordingly discover with great enthusiasm every couple of minutes that you can bounce in it.

This month has seen a great increase in the amount and variety of solids that you are eating. You love your rice cereal and oatmeal, but your absolute favourite is bananas. You have started eating sweet potatoes and carrots, but avocados are being firmly boycotted. I have a confession to make: I've been sneaking them in with your bananas! And what better time to become interested in solids than the same month you cut your first tooth. You were a little restless one night, but not fussy at all. The next night you returned to sleeping happily, and when I dropped you off at daycare, Marie told me she had spotted your tooth the day before. I was a little sad to be reminded that in all likelihood, Marie is going to see you reach as many milestones as I do, if not more. Nevertheless, I am so blessed to be your mother, and I am delighted by how quickly you are meeting those milestones, so who gets to see them is less important.

This month has been so much fun. You are just the sweetest and happiest little girl I have ever met, and I am in awe of how quickly you are developing. I was watching you sitting up unassisted and playing with your activity mat the other day. You took the mirror I have hung from it, and angled it so that you could see yourself. Then you inspected the wings on one of the butterflies. You held part of its wing between your thumb and index finger, and there was a very certain purpose to your movements. I remembered how only months earlier, you would lie down on the same mat and flail your arms about aimlessly. It's amazing to watch your progress unfold before my eyes. I am so proud of my precious daughter.

I love you, Beebop,

Mum xxx

10 Things in 1000 days

I decided to rationalize my impulse purchasing of knitting books by setting myself a personal challenge.
Here's how long I have left:

Quotation of the Day

This Day in History

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