Apr 10, 2012

Dear Daughter: 1 Year

Dear Vivienne,

You are now one year old! It's amazing to look back at all the things you have done in that time, and how much you have grown and changed. It really has been the most perfect and fun year of my life. You are the perfect daughter, and it is a pleasure and an honour to be your Mum. This letter is the final in a year of letters. I will continue to write to you, and document your achievements, just not in a rigid monthly fashion. The main reason is that you are so active now, and I don't want to miss time with you because I am behind a computer trying to fulfill some self-imposed task.

Early this month, you were starting to learn how to walk. The first thing you mastered was standing. We noticed this month that you had gone from leaning against the coffee table when you were playing at it, to standing away from it while you slammed your toys into it (luckily, your Dad had the foresight to switch out the glass insert with some plywood when you were born). For ambulation, you very quickly learned that you could get around using your Winnie the Pooh car as walker, or holding our hands. However, if there was something you really needed to get to quickly, it was time to drop to the floor and crawl there. As with all milestones, there were a few nights of disrupted sleep involved. Unfortunately, there was a perfect storm of learning how to walk, getting your two front teeth, and developing a bit of separation anxiety. A few cuddles and a little nursing in the glider got you back to sleep pretty reliably. By the end of the month, you had taken a few steps, and you also were the proud owner of two new teeth!

This month, you have really enjoyed being with your friends at daycare.  Every morning, you jump up and down in my arms with excitement as we get out of the car. Your minders are always telling me what a smart and friendly little girl you are. You have been busy making lots of art projects this month. I have two hanging at my desk at work, and I keep the rest safe in a box that I will ensure the cats don't pee into, again!  At home, you and I have been fostering your creativity by drawing with crayons, bubbles, and soapy water. Our fun with crayons tends to end in a bit of a temper as you tend to attempt to eat the crayons and you don’t like being corrected on their proper usage. We have also been having dance parties to bad 90’s music because Mum knows the words, and we sing along. I love that you have begun singing along when I play music. The first real song that you ever sang was “Mmm Bop” by Hanson. I sing it to you every evening as we get out of the bath because you seem to think songs with the word “bop” in them are amusing.

Everyone knows about the “Terrible Two’s”.  In addition, so many parents gripe that no one warned them about the “Terrible Three’s”, that we are now aware of that phase.  However, I was never once warned of the “Terrible Ones”. I should point out that I am saying this in good humour, because you are generally a very sweet and happy little girl. You are also very bright, and with that intelligence comes a little bit of a temper. You threw a pretty good tantrum one evening because I wouldn’t let you take your pyjamas into the bathtub with us! In addition to becoming assertive, you are also becoming quite the intrepid little explorer, which sometimes conflicts with your ability to be obedient. For instance, while you understand what the word “no” means, you love standing at the top of the stairs to the basement shaking the safety gate. As you can imagine, this makes me quite nervous so I have been preventing you from crawling to the basement stairs. When I say “no”, you often look at me, pause for a while, but then continue on toward your destination!

Your motor skills really took off this month. At the start of the month, you mastered your shape sorter, and you were so pleased with yourself that you would put the circles and squares through the sorter over and over again. As a indicator of how advanced you are, at your 1-year check up, your nurse asked if you were putting objects into containers. I started explaining that you were good at the square, triangle, and circle, but not so much with the more complicated star. She looked confused, and it turned out that she meant simply putting anything into a container like a bucket. She also asked if you turned pages on books. I let her know that you’ve been doing that since you were about 5 months old!!

This month, you also loved playing with blocks. I would stack a few off them up, and you would quickly knock them down. We would make a game of it, whereby I would try and stack as many as I could before you came and smashed them over. I rarely got past two or three. One time you were giggling with your Dad so I managed to stack about twelve. When you turned around and saw the tower of blocks, you gave a gasp of delight, and then you knocked them all down! It was so cute that your Dad tried to get it on video, but subsequent 12-block towers were not as surprising to you. Later in the month, you learned how to stack the blocks yourself, but again, your desire to knock them down gets the better of you before you get too far past two blocks.

This month, you have been way to busy to sit still for reading time. In past months, I could read up to 12 books, or more, with you sitting on my lap turning the pages as we went. This month, depending on how tired you are, you don’t sit still to get through even one book. That’s not to say that you don’t like reading. You spend a lot of time going through your book collection, selecting one of your favorites and bringing it to the coffee table to read aloud (which I could listen to all day). Your daycare minder told me that one day when you were put in a different room due to a flood in your normal room, and the very first thing you scooted over to was the books. In the evening when you are a little less energetic, you love to sit on my lap and enjoy story-time. Unless you have brought a book to me, I hold up three and let you pick which one we should read first. You still have specific books that you love that will always be picked first, and books that you can't stand that will cause you to end story-time if I attempt to read them to you, and I love seeing that you are being selective and forming your own opinions about literature! 

The weather has gotten a little nicer this month, and we have enjoyed more and more evenings outside together. We play with bubbles that we were given at your friend Riley’s birthday, as well as running around with your Winnie the Pooh car. We also brought out your tricycle that is for a slightly older child, but you seem to know to hold onto the handles and we hold onto you as we scoot around. You love it so much that you smile and giggle as we go around. You and your Dad had a lot of fun on your tricycle at your birthday party. More recently, I think you have taken to “ghost-riding” as you often try to stand up on your seat while we are in motion!  

This month has seen you become even more expressive than before. You chat and tell stories all the time. We frequently wake to the sound of you telling yourself a long, involved story over the baby monitor in the mornings. You have being saying some distinct words like “Hi”, “Hi-ya”, and “Bop” (the last being reserved for singing). More recently, when you are done eating your dinner, you sit in your high chair shaking your arms above your head. I use the baby signing classes we attended, and point my finger upwards saying, “Do you want up, up, up?” In response, you point your finger upward and respond “up, up!” The irony of you learning both the sign and the spoken word at the exact same time is not lost on me!

This month obviously ended with your first birthday! It was on a Tuesday, and I was able to take the afternoon off work to spend it with you. I picked you up from daycare and you were very happy to see me. We sang Happy Birthday (a song you heard numerous times that day). We first went to the local Bank of America to open a bank account, and deposit the $40 your Granddad sent from Ireland for your birthday. We bought you some organic food that we needed for your lunches at the River Valley market, and then headed to the mall to buy you a present. I wanted to get you some Duplo (lego for toddlers), and “Mega Bloks” (a similar toy) had a two-for-one offer, so I bought you a bag with fun, bright, primary colours, and another bag with pinks and purples for my beautiful little girl. I was so impressed that you figured out that the blocks could be put together and taken apart within minutes of opening the bag. Needless to say, you also loved knocking over anything I made with them. I also bought you a puzzle board with wooden numbers with little pegs. You love biting the little pegs and carrying the numbers around like a pacifier. You also think it’s hilarious when I do it.

We had your birthday the following Saturday on March 24th. While it technically took place during your 13th month, it seems germane to this letter. We had a barbeque in our back garden. You wore a beautiful little dress that Nana Mary sent over from England. I had been knitting a dress that I wanted you to wear, but it ended up being way to small, so luckily Nana had sent the beautiful -and quite expensive- little dress. The guests were Riley, Sean & Connor with their parents Yael, John, Sabrina, Brendan, Aimee, Michelle, Micah, Ian; Baby Isadora and her parents, Brie and Johan; Janel & Mike; Daddy’s colleagues, Kristen with her husband and two children, Amy and her son, April and her stepdaughter, and Jolie and her daughters; our neighbours, The Cox’s and The Browns; and your Grandmother and Great-grandmother. You took a nap so you were in a good mood by the time people started arriving. We played with our friends while we ate burgers and hotdogs. Then it was time to eat cake. We had two cakes: your Grandmother brought a Winnie the Pooh cake, which all the guests ate, and I made a special sugar-free, nut-free, oil-free, egg-free carrot cake with vanilla-ricotta “icing” that you and I ate. We had test-run it the week before, and I knew that you loved it. When we came out of the house singing Happy Birthday, you had your back turned to us, and you were more involved in playing with a toy. However, you loved everyone singing to you, and once you got into the icing, you delighted in smearing it into my cardigan. Then it was time to open your gifts, and we had a wonderful bounty of toys, books, and adorable clothes from all our generous friends. My personal favourites were the hand-knitted dress from Connor’s Mommy, and the hand-sewn toy from Janel. We have had a great time reading all the books you were given and playing with all your new toys.

This month, like every month before it, has been the happiest of my life. I can’t believe how much you have grown in the year since your amazing entry to our lives. Your birth was at the time the most happy and love-filled moment of my life, but seeing you smile for the first time, hearing you laugh at This Little Piggy, feeling your arms suddenly clinging around my neck when you were scared of the vacuum cleaner, watching you grow and learn, or the many nights I simply watched you sleeping, have all been moments that are happier than the one before it. I am just blessed with how much love, smiles, and giggles we have enjoyed with you. You are the sweetest, brightest, and most beautiful little girl I have ever met, and I have treasured each and every one of the 527,040 minutes that you have been my daughter.

Happy birthday to my most precious little girl,

I love you,

Mum xxx

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