Jul 30, 2012

Dear Daughter: 12 - 16 Months

Dear Vivienne,

It's been four months since I wrote you a letter. It's been a busy third of a year, and you have been learning a lot in that time. I am so proud of my smart, sweet, beautiful little girl.

March 20th - April 20th
Since your first birthday, you have mastered walking. Your first steps occurred a couple of days after your first birthday, and you didn't take long to become a pro. The only time I see you crawling now is when you are completely exhausted. It's so much fun to walk with you, though you rarely want to hold my hand as you prefer to shoot off to see the world. We have an Elmo harness to put on you in public to keep you safe when we are out in public; you're so intrepid and run off with no apparent concern for where your father or I are. Speaking of motility, you have become really good at climbing steps. You love any opportunity to climb steps, and insist on limiting all our time outdoors to going up and down the steps to the backdoor. It can be slow-going with you on the stairs, as you have an adorable habit of hitting each new step with an open palm multiple times, as if checking for terra firma. In a similar development, you have learned that objects can be used to stand upon. You love stacking up toys to look over the safety gate we have around the TV. I am a little nervous that you might get over it someday!

As of this month, you have five teeth. As always, you were a trooper with teething, and you didn't seem bothered at all. In fact, you have so few symptoms that I never really know when one is about to come in. The only possible sign of your teething is a recent spate of night awakenings. You have had some liquid in your ear which I think may be becoming an earache, so that may be the culprit. You might also be wanting to be fed. In other health-related news, you finally got your MMR shot this month. As much as I have been looking forward to not having to worry whenever I read about measles breakouts, I'll admit I did have some anxiety. I was reassured by our decision to use the Dr. Sears Alternative Vaccination Schedule, and you did so great that I was sure there wouldn't be any longterm side effects. 

Since mid-February, your Dad has been working in Nashua, which means that you and I have been on our own during the week. You are such great company, and we've had a lot of fun, but you are always so happy to see your Dad on Skype or on the weekends. Your father and you love playing together. On a recent evening when he was at home, he taught you to play ball. He threw it to you (sitting in my lap, so I helped catch the ball), and you threw it back, which basically consisted of dropping it in his direction, and saying "aah". It was adorable. You and I are looking forward to him being home for good in May!

You are so responsive now, and clued in to what's going on around you. When I drop you off at daycare, you smile and give me a big wave goodbye. It's such a nice image to keep as I miss you during the hours I am at work. Your greater comprehension shows in other areas too. When we are reading your word book, when we get to the goose, you start making a "honk" sound, and poking yourself lightly in the stomach like I usually do. When we read your "Peek-a-boo" book, you now say boo as we turn each page. 

April 20th - May 20th
This month, you have been adding to your words. Your two favorites are "Whoa" and "Uh-oh", which can be used to categorize most anything. You are so eager to use them that you have taken to dropping things on purpose just to say "uh-oh", notably food from your high chair.

This month, you gained more teeth. I always say this because it impresses me so much -given my own horrendous memories of gaining my adult teeth -that I never know when you are getting new teeth because you never fuss at all.

It wasn't only teeth growing in your mouth this month. Lots of words appeared too! By far the cutest was the fact that you have started "reading". You and I were in the sitting room together, and I heard you saying "ooo" over and over. I looked to see what you were up to (I was reading my own book) and I saw you were reading your Peek-a-Boo book. Since then, you have done the same with your "Where's Spot?" book, but in this case, you were saying the word "No".

You had another ear infection this month. It sadly has become a familiar routine of noticing you have a fever, taking you to the doctor, and getting you diagnosed with an earache. You do not care for antibiotics one little bit! As always, you were not bothered in the slightest by it.

We discovered your love of being photographed this month. One morning when you were a little cranky from being tired and suffering the effects of your ear infection, we put you in the red chair to take your monthly photo, and you started fussing and wanting to be held. As soon as the camera came out, you immediately stopped crying, and started smiling and posing instead. You're such a little ham! This love of posing really paid off when we had another photo session with our friend Kristin, and we got some really great pictures. One of you and your Dad is my particular favourite.

The best thing this month was a visit from your Nana. She was here for two weeks, and spent the first week at home with you while I was at work. You didn't do much as you were still sick, and I was a lot happier that you were able to recover from your earache with Nana, rather than at daycare. The next week you were better, I was off work, and we had an amazing time together. We went to Janel's BBQ, the mall, cafe's, a petting zoo/farm (where you stole Cheeze-its out of a rabbit hutch!), the Yankee Candle store, Magic Wings butterfly farm, and the Cheesecake factory on the way to the airport. We had so much fun with Nana here, and we were very sad to see her leave.

May 20th - June 20th
This month, you did some great reading. I was sitting with you as you were reading "Brown Bear", and you read it with the same tempo that I read it to you. I love how much you love books; they are by far your favourite toys!

One evening this month, your father, you and I went on a walk through the nature preserve (the place you took your first ever outing). We walked through the elementary school playground, and your father decided to play on the Monkey Bars. He hung motionless from the bars, which is a reference to an episode of a show called Arrested Development. You looked at him and started screaming with laughter. It was very adorable.

You have now learned what a cell or mobile phone is. You held a phone up to your head and started saying "Hi", and "Bye" and chatting away to the imaginary person on the other end of the phone. You have been doing the same thing with my iPod. I don't know where you picked up this habit; I never use my phone!

Finally, this month, you had yet another earache. In fact it is likely the same earache from last month that was resistant to Amoxicillin. We got yet more antibiotics, this time with a beta-lactamase inhibitor. You were so upset every time we had to give you antibiotics, and I felt awful, but we managed to finish the course. As we have had a recent run of earaches, we decided that it was time to say goodbye to your pacifiers. You are such a happy baby that you don't really need to be "pacified"! Indeed, you didn't seem at all perturbed by their abrupt departure.

June 20th - July 20th
This month, we have been using the methods in The Happiest Toddler on the Block. We had been already doing most of the recommendations such as spending lots of time with you, not letting you watch TV or eat junk, etc. However, despite all the positive reinforcement and affection we were giving you, your toddler ways started to come out. The positive of this is that you are becoming adventurous, and developing a love of learning and exploring, but the negative is that you can sometimes be a bit temperamental and defiant. One technique the book suggests is the "clap growl". Instead of spanking a child, which is barbaric, you clap loudly and growl. If the toddler still does whatever you are trying to stop, you turn away for a few seconds as if to say "I'm not engaging with you while you are doing this". Instead of learning not to do things that I attempt to discipline you about (screeching, throwing, biting), you instead have learned the clap growl, which you have applied when I haven't given you more grapes, attempted to make you sit down on a chair, or changed your diaper. In related news, you have definitely figured out what the word "No" means. It's usually accompanied by a hand swiping whatever you don't want (clothing, non-strawberry food stuffs).

The other words you have learned are "ball". "treat" and "cheese", among others. Your Dad took you to your fifteen month appointment, and the doctor said that four to six words is good for your age, and he prefers to see eight. We wrote up a list of your words that we were both in agreement you were using right, and you have 20! You're so smart. Even Lilly, the lady who runs your daycare commented to me that you have an amazing vocabulary. You have even started putting words together like "up and down" when we sing "Wheels on the Bus", and "up above" in "Twinkle, Twinkle". Your understanding of what we are saying is also amazing. Whenever I say to you, "Hey, let's put your books away!" you stop what you are doing, and help me put them away. It's really impressive, and also very sweet that you are so helpful.

You and took up swimming this month too. The first week, you cried and wanted to get out, until the teacher had us sing "Wheels on the Bus"; you thought jumping up and down was a lot of fun (plus you enjoyed singing along)! The second week, you still kept a pretty tight hold on me, but you used the noodle, swam on your back with your head on my shoulder, and had no tears.

This month you have been climbing everywhere. Every object is a potential stepping tool for you, including - much to my terror - anything with wheels. We have had to start watching you like a hawk. It is exciting to see that you are so smart, but it's exhausting too! You have also started reaching for anything you can get your hands on too. The funniest example of this was when I was feeding you the other day. I had you yoghurt and spoon ready on the counter, and I was collecting other things to feed you. You obviously weren't happy with how long I was taking, so you reached up to the counter, opened the yoghurt and stood in the middle of the kitchen feeding to yourself. We have been letting you eat with a spoon and you are doing really well with it.

This will be the last of the monthly letters, and instead I will email you updates of your development. The reason for this switch is that a monthly letters were appropriate when you were an infant, and only accomplishing one or two things a month. Now that your learning has picked up such a fast pace, you are learning new things daily, and it's hard to remember them all by the end of the month. To ensure that you get everything, I have been writing you emails as things happen, so that information is becoming redundant.

These last four months have been such a joy. I am so in love with you, and I am so proud of all the things you have been accomplishing. It is such a pleasure to be your Mum, and I am so grateful that I get to see you grow up and discover the world.

I love you, Sweetheart,

Mum xxx



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