Category Archives: Letters to P.

This is 18 months

Let’s just accept that I have permanently dropped the ball on writing monthly letters to P. (poor second child). I have a lot of notes in her journal, but I can really see the difference in how much I observed/wrote down before I went back to work compared with after. 18 months feels like a milestone, however, so I wanted to make sure I wrote something down. I’ve heavily borrowed from Non Sequitur Chica’s format as I always enjoy her updates!

Vital Stats:

I never weigh or measure P. myself. At her 15 month appointment she was 81.5 cm (32”) (95th percentile) and 9.53 kg (21 lb 0.5 oz) (25th percentile). Three months later she was 84.5 cm (33.25”) (95th percentile) and 10.22 kg (22 lb, 9 oz) (25th percentile). She has been on that weight curve since she was 9 months old and has been gradually creeping back with the height (she was off the charts for most of her first year).

P. has twelve teeth (all four molars came through in her seventeenth month). No sign of the canines yet.

P. still has very little hair. It is thickest at the back but it’s still baby fine and quite wispy. It will be some time before she will need a haircut.

P. usually wears cloth diapers during the day and size 6 diapers overnight. When she wears disposables in the day she is in size 4 but she really needs to be in size 5 (we’re slowly using up our last package).

P. was in 12-18 month clothing (with the exception of 18-24 month sleepers) but mid-way through this month I dug out the rest of the 18-24 month clothing and discovered I probably should have put her in the new size earlier. I think her winter boots are a size 6 (they’re hand-me-down Bogs) and they fit well.

Development (Gross/Fine Motor):

P. walks with a lot of confidence and is starting to attempt something that resembles a run (usually accompanied by a drunken stagger and arms akimbo). Her default speed is “beetling”, where she walks with great purpose and some speed. She can move very quickly when she is excited to see someone arriving at the door or when she’s trying to do something without me noticing (she is also very fast and very sneaky at going up the stairs if we leave the gate open). She can walk from our house down to the main road and then back again with a rest stop in the swing at the park on the way (a distance of one kilometre).

She loved the “sleeping bunnies” song this month and would try desperately to jump at the critical “wake up, sleeping bunnies and hop, hop, hop!” moment. She could either bob up and down at the knees with her feet firmly planted on the ground or march in place. She was clearly deeply frustrated that E. could jump and she couldn’t.

P. sometimes chooses to walk up the stairs, holding on either to our hands or to the railing. Most of the time she still crawls up. She is starting to come down the stairs on her bottom, again holding on to a hand or the railing. She remains a confident climber and has now mastered the art of pushing E’s kitchen step stool or one of their little chairs to a particular spot and then climbing up on top of it. This has greatly extended her reach and has resulted in yet another round of baby-proofing.

P. is a pint-sized tornado, cheerfully destructive. I have to assume that her fine motor skills are improving because she has absolutely zero interest in doing anything that requires precision and patience. I know she can stack up to eight blocks because I once managed to convince her to do so, but her preferred method is to knock blocks over the minute she stacks one on top of the next. She expresses an interest in colouring but then eats the crayons (which she absolutely knows she’s not supposed to do and she’s largely stopped mouthing anything else, so I can only assume she is doing it on purpose for attention). She isn’t interested in Megabloks or Duplo and cares not a whit for puzzles. One of her favourite words is “dump”, accompanied by her emptying whatever bag or basket she has found. The number of small animals and cars we keep in our living room has dropped significantly as a result (although she is pretty good at helping to clean everything up again before bedtime).

Like E. at this age she absolutely loves cleaning and helping out. She has the apron he used when he was a toddler and she will ask for it and put it on independently. She likes to help with sweeping and the dishes, but her favourite activity is cleaning up messes. A frequent sight in our household these days is P. trundling off somewhere clutching a cloth saying very seriously to herself, “Oh dear, oh no, oh boy.”

P. can put on her own boots, neck-warmer, and hat, can unzip and take off a hoodie, and will help get her arms and legs into the rest of her clothes. She has very firm ideas about what she wants to wear. Her favourite colour (which she can clearly identify) is purple (most other colours are also identified as purple in books but when she says “purple” in her room she always follows up by choosing the purple items of clothing). She likes to wear both socks and tights, and frequently negotiates to wear both at the same time. She has clear preferences for her pjs, her pants, and her hoodies. This has come as a bit of a shock to me (and to Q.) as E. really couldn’t have cared less about his clothes at this age and has remained largely disinterested in what he wears ever since (with the exception of the red hoodie phase when he was two and three).

She likes to find items of clothing for the other members of the family and will sometimes follow E. around in the morning holding one of his mittens or one of his boots (with E. inevitably saying, in a tone of exasperation, “No thank you, P.! I don’t need those yet!”). She can turn the light switch in her room off (but has trouble with on). She is getting very good at opening and closing doors. We now keep bag clips on our cereal after one too many incidents where P. tried to help herself to Cheerios (she did try to pour them into a bowl she’d fetched for the occasion but it didn’t quite work out as planned).

P. wanted to sit on the toilet, just like the rest of us, so I got the potty out and put it in the bathroom. She’s happy to sit on it for a few seconds and then wants toilet paper to wipe herself. Nothing thus far has appeared in the potty, but I’m not the least bit fussed about it. She tells us when she has a dirty diaper (although she will always deny it when asked), and she likes to suggest that her dolls need a change as well.

Development (Language/Social):

We have been blown away by P.’s language development. At 15 months, when her paediatrician asked if she had any words, I reported that she had “Mummy” and “no” and then we both agreed that those were two very effective words! When P. turned 18 months she had over 100 words. She now (closing in on 19 months) has too many to count and is starting to string them together to make little phrases: “Mummy lap”, “green sheep”, “more snack”, “thank you, Mummy” (her “thank you” sounds like “dee-dee-oh” and is adorable), “play outside” and “Daddy play more”. On Skype, when we asked P. to explain to her Australian Granny why it was that we’d just spent 30 minutes adjusting the Christmas tree, she replied “Pippa touch lights” (“Peppa tah yigh”). When I was on the phone with her Canadian Grannie after the stomach flu incident I asked P. to tell Grannie what had happened. She gleefully reported that she had thrown up “doh up!” and then, unprompted, added “bowl” (we have a designated vomit bowl) and “bath” (she needed a few of those). She is starting to very clearly enunciate the final consonant in some words, so eat is no longer “ee”, snack is no longer “snah”, and sleep is now “seep” rather than “si-si”.

Her vocabulary has a huge range. Lots of very useful words: help, eat, water, milk, snack, all down, up, down, outside, more, play, bath, door, gate, potty, other side, etc. Words for what she wants to play with: boat, car, tractor, ball, Colleen (my old Cabbage Patch doll), tea party, animals (sounds like “ammo” or “Elmo”). Words for the other members of the family: Daddy, Mummy, E. (“Eeee”), brother, auntie, uncle, Grandpa (“Dam-pa!”), Grannie, cat, tail, cat’s name (“ee-ee”). She has picked up that we call ourselves boas after E.’s long-standing snake obsession, so she often calls Q. “Da-dee bo-a!” and when E. first gets up in the morning she runs for the stairs chanting “Eee! Ee! Bo-a! Bo-a!”. The first beginnings of what will hopefully one day be good manners: please (“pea”), thank you (“dee dee oh”), bye-bye, and sorry. Her “no” is very clear and can be said in many different ways (including a long, drawn out “nooooo”). Her yes is a head bob and a happy “hmm” sound, exactly like E’s was. She also has a bunch of words to help tell us how she is feeling: happy, sad, cold, fall (used more generally to mean “scared”), sleepy. Her “oops” words (oh dear, oh no, oh boy, uh oh) are adorable. She reduced my mother to helpless laughter when she was eating dinner and carefully poured her milk all over her plate, then examined it and said “oh deeee-aaar” in a tone of astonished dismay.

I don’t know if this is just reflective of the difference between how boys develop and how girls develop, or if this is a second child who has realized she has to get talking quick smart if she will ever be able to get a word in around her brother, but it has been quite something to witness. She’s going to really be able to express herself as she gets closer to two and the desire for autonomy increases (she already says her name firmly if she wants to do it herself and I’m convinced she’s started saying “me too”).

P. thinks her big brother is the best thing in the entire world. She wants to do everything that he’s doing. If he’s reading a book under a blanket, she needs a blanket too (preferably the same one he has). If he’s reading a book while eating snack, she needs a book to read too. She knows she’s not allowed in his room unless invited and when he does let her come in to watch him driving his Lego train she stands so carefully in the middle of the floor and doesn’t touch anything (if she sneaks in when he’s at school it’s a totally different story). She has a special cackle of glee that she reserves for when she’s driving him crazy (and she knows that’s exactly what she’s doing). If he’s trying to read quietly on the couch her favourite activity is climbing up onto the couch and then rolling around on top of him. When we had our living room furniture moved around to accommodate the Christmas tree, P. quickly figured out that meant she could climb on top of the coffee table and reach the basket with E.’s library readers. If she felt no one was paying enough attention to her, she would climb onto the table, stand up, and start throwing the books on the floor one at a time.

I had a hilarious exchange with E. before Christmas after I’d run down the street to catch our neighbours who had a baby girl in September. I told E. I was asking them whether they wanted any of our clothes since we were done having babies.
“I’m so glad we’re not having any more babies,” E. announced as we went inside.
“You know, when P. was little you were very upset that she was our last baby,” I told him. “You said you weren’t done being a big brother yet.”
“Yes,” said E., “but that was before I realized just how annoying a little sister can be! Although I guess if you did have another baby when I was older, like maybe seven, and P. was big enough to look after herself a bit more, when that baby got bigger and was very annoying to P., I could say to P., ‘Yes, P., this is just what it was like when you were a toddler.’ Because otherwise P. won’t get to know what it is like to have someone that annoying.”
I agreed that the baby of the family never had the experience of the younger sibling always getting into their stuff, but then pointed out that P. would always have to wait to be old enough to do the things that E. could do.

P. mimics everything that he does (and everything that we do too). She uses remote controls as telephones (along with blocks and anything else that seems remotely suitable) when she can’t get her hands on my actual phone. I have to keep it well hidden because she can push the button to turn it on and can swipe the screen. I didn’t have a smartphone with E. so this is an entirely new experience.

Play:

P. likes to play with small vehicles, especially tractors, and our collection of Schleich animals. Mostly this play involves carrying them around, putting them in bags and baskets and then taking them out again, and dumping them all over the floor, but she does occasionally push the vehicles along the carpet. She still loves balls, although not as much as she did when she was closer to the year mark. She is almost ready to play trains with her brother as she is getting the idea of pushing the train along the track, but she also likes to take the track apart, so that’s still an exercise in frustration rather than a fun group activity.

Without a doubt, her favourite toy is my old Cabbage Patch Kid. I have been having a really hard time with this. I loathed dolls as a child (I thought they were creepy and pointless) and spent years collecting and playing with model horses (I had hundreds of them- no exaggeration). When E. showed absolutely no interest in playing with dolls as a child, gravitating instead immediately towards vehicles, trains, and building toys, I was disappointed. Now I’m disappointed that P. doesn’t care much for those toys but will carry the doll around all day long. This is my own problem, not theirs; there is nothing inherently gendered or wrong with any of these toys and they should be allowed to explore and enjoy their own interests.

In an effort to combat this, I made sure that Santa brought P. her own baby (one of the Corelle infant dolls with the bean bag bodies) because my Cabbage Patch Kid is a big doll for her to be lugging around. On Christmas morning, when the kids came downstairs, I put P. down and she looked at the tree before announcing “baby!” in a tone of joyful surprise and then toddled straight off to take the doll out of its carry bag. She does like to look after the baby (it spends a lot of time sleeping and needing food and diaper changes) but I think she still prefers the Cabbage Patch Kid, largely because my doll came with its own bag of clothes (most made by my mother thirty years ago) and P. loves to request a wardrobe change. Interestingly, P. interprets the bunting bag my mum made for the doll, which is supposed to be a snowsuit, as a sleep sack. P. makes some interesting dress choices and has a distressing tendency to choose socks, shoes, and underwear/shorts for the doll, but not much else.

She also received a tea set for Christmas from one of her aunties and she loves to have tea parties with the Cabbage Patch Kid (and sometimes some of the Schleich animals as well). She will set Colleen up on one of the little chairs at their table in the kitchen and arrange some assortment of cups and plates and spoons (she never forgets the spoons- I think they’re her favourite). Inevitably she ends up pushing Colleen off the chair as she decides she wants to try sitting on that one herself, leaving Q. to intone seriously, “I’m a bit concerned about what she’s serving at these tea parties” after one too many afternoons of him arriving home from work to find Colleen face-down on the floor near the table, only half-dressed.

P. loves to play outside but hates playing in the snow, so the last month has been hard on her. She’s just a year too little to really enjoy the snow. She’s basically spherical in her snowsuit, she can’t properly see her feet, and wrestling her thumbs into the appropriates holes in her waterproof mittens is a real challenge. Outdoor play with the two of them usually results in E. happily romping around engaged in a building project of some sort with the snow while P. pokes morosely at a ball, falls over, and requests to go back inside for snack. We took her sliding for the first time on Christmas Day. E. at this age loved it. P. went down twice and then refused to go down again, preferring instead to sit in the snow looking resigned and miserable, chanting “all done, snow” over and over again.

Books:

P. is very interested in having a book near her, especially when eating snack, something she’s most certainly copied from her big brother (he is the best possible role model for encouraging a love of reading). We’ve fallen into a pattern of going to the library on Saturdays at least a couple of times a month. E. immediately finds a few new chapter books and starts reading them. P. used to spend the time climbing off and on the chairs, running amok, and pulling books off the shelves but in the last couple of visits she’s started to more carefully choose a book or two and bring them to me so I can read them with her.

P. likes books with flaps (although she can’t have those unsupervised in her crib because she also likes to pull the flaps off and then frantically request “tay tay!” (tape) to fix them). She still loves the Priddy Baby 100 First Words board book and will gleefully turn the pages to find anything you ask her to identify. She knows she’s not allowed to touch E.’s books with paper pages and she’s pretty respectful of his shelves. I did get Cars and Trucks and Things That Go out this month as that was E.’s favourite at this age, but P. got bored with it very quickly. She definitely does not have the same attention span for books that E. did.

At bedtime we read three stories. Perennial favourites have included the BabyLit Dracula and Frankenstein, Eric Carle’s Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? and Mr. Seahorse (flipped through and summarized more than read), Where is the Green Sheep?, and It’s Time to Sleep, My Love. I Say, You Say, Feelings! turned up at Christmas and has been very popular as is the 100 Flaps Things That Go large board book.

Sleep:

P. goes to bed somewhere between 7 and 7:30 p.m. (7:15 is probably ‘normal’ bedtime) and falls asleep almost immediately. We never hear her chatting to herself like her brother did (and still does). She still gets up once to nurse but we are getting very close to that feed becoming the first of the morning as most of the time she sleeps until 5:30 a.m. or a bit later before nursing. I think we could fairly easily persuade her to drop that feed but then she’d get up for the day at 6. If she nurses and goes back to sleep she often sleeps until 7:30, so I’m not in a rush to change things.

P. naps around 12/12:30 p.m. and sleeps for two or two-and-a-half hours. A 90 minute nap is noticeably too short by the end of the day. Sometimes she’ll sleep for three hours but usually there’s a reason to explain it- a poor sleep the night before, or a lingering illness, etc. She still uses sleep sacks and a white noise machine. I dropped the white noise machine on our return from visiting grandparents over the holidays and thought I had broken it but it turned out it was just too cold from being in the car to function properly. I’m planning to wean her from it in the summer, like we did with E. She’s better at sleeping through noises in the night and the morning, but I’m not ready to lose that support.

Eating:

P. is still a great eater, despite what her place on the weight percentiles might suggest. Our nanny comments all the time about how much food P. eats and all the different kinds of food she likes. I think this is another case where E. is acting as an excellent role model. He was much fussier when he was little but he’s been a pretty consistent eater for a couple of years now and he’ll try things even when he already knows from previous experience that he doesn’t like them. P. will sometimes refuse to try something (head shaking and “no!”) and other times will give anything that looks suspicious a bit of a lick before she’ll put it in her mouth.

She is good with a spoon and getting better with a fork (I think sometimes she is stymied by the blunt tines of the baby forks). She is perfectly capable of drinking out of a regular cup but likes to drink very nicely for quite some time and then unexpectedly turn the cup upside down (or throw it) when we let our guard down. She also needs someone to hold her cereal bowl while she eats or she’ll dump it over the side when she gets bored.

She likes to make her own decisions about breakfast (again copying her brother) and can choose between muesli (“mew-ee”), oatmeal (“oh-mea”), Cheerios (“chee-chee-oh”) and toast (“tow”). She doesn’t usually eat a big breakfast (probably because of the nursing overnight) but will put a lot away at lunch and supper. She still doesn’t like drinking milk very much but is getting better with cheese and yoghurt. She has no sweet tooth whatsoever and doesn’t like ice cream, chocolate, cake, cookies, or basically any sort of dessert (is she really my child?).

Interestingly, P.’s favourite food is still avocado (my number one craving when I was pregnant with her). She would eat two a day if we let her and “a-cah-o” was a clear word before her eighteenth month was finished. Other favourites are cucumber, crackers (especially Goldfish), strawberries (and most fruit in general), pasta, mashed potatoes, and any sort of stew or vegetarian dish mixed with rice (dahl, chili, chana masala, etc.). She notices immediately if we’re eating something that she isn’t (whole nuts are a big issue), and she frequently requests to drink our wine or my tea (although she will cheerfully follow up the latter request with “Noooo, hot!”).

She is still nursing. She nurses before bed and before nap if I’m the one home with her, once overnight, and sometimes first thing in the morning (depends on when the night feed was). She associates nursing now with comfort and connection rather than with food, and she can very clearly ask for it (“Mummy!” complete with hitting her own chest, or just lifting up my shirt/sticking a hand down my shirt if I’m within reach). She wants to nurse as soon as I get in the door after work and would prefer to spend the hour between me getting home and eating dinner attached to a boob. On days when I’m home with her she nurses a lot, but these are usually quick cuddles. I don’t really have any sense of how much she’s actually drinking these days, which is why I’d like her to be a bit more keen on dairy products. I no longer get over full on work days after the weekend at home with her, and I can miss both the nap and the bedtime feed on nights when I teach without becoming uncomfortable. It’s clear that how much she’s drinking is decreasing, but it’s also clear that she’s still very attached to nursing, and I’m in no rush to encourage her to give it up, especially since she is able to go down for a nap or at night without me. She is my last baby and I am very glad to have such a positive nursing relationship after the way things ended with E.

Miscellaneous:

P. is a great traveller. She really enjoys playing with toys and looking at books in the car (a mystery bag filled with vehicles and animals is always a hit), and she almost never complains if E. is in the backseat with her. They often invent silly games (usually involving throwing stuffed animals at each other), and if E.’s back there it’s easy for her to eat a snack as he will carefully hand her things and pick up her water bottle if she drops it. She drove with me when I went to see my Dad during his medical scare in mid-December (and coped admirably with the eight-hour epic that was our return home when we were caught in a snowstorm) and then again between Christmas and New Year with Q. and E. as well.

P. had her first ever stomach bug (at least in terms of vomiting) right after the New Year. She threw up nine times in eighteen hours but was generally cheerful when she wasn’t puking (and was very frustrated and confused that I wouldn’t let her eat anything other than Cheerios). She also unfortunately caught HFM from her cousin at the end of November (although she escaped much more lightly than either Spud or poor labmonkey).

She is prone to serious bouts of Mummyitis. It is still generally impossible for me to cook dinner if it is anything more complicated than defrosting something Q.’s already made and cooking rice or potatoes or pasta to go alongside it. P. either demands to be held on my hip (and clings like a monkey if I try to put her down), wants to nurse, or holds on to my leg and cries. The other day Q. came home and I was running late because P. had had a massive diaper blow out that had required a full wardrobe change and a bath. When he walked in the door, I was trying to get pasta in the boiling water while P. held on to my leg and cried.

“I don’t know why you’re never able to have beef Wellington ready for me when I get home,” Q. quipped. “It would be so easy for you to make it.” (When Q. cooks, P. happily plays with her toys.)

At this age, E. loved standing on a chair helping me with dinner, but P. is not trustworthy enough to stand on a chair. We decided to get one of the learning towers (or a smaller knock off) as her present for Christmas but the one I want has gone out of stock most places online. Hopefully I can order it soon as I feel like it would make a world of difference if she could safely help me. It is unfair that so much of the cooking is resting on Q.’s shoulders right now, even if he understands why this is the case.

Q. and I have always felt that around 18 months was the golden age when E. was little. He was walking, sleeping well, eating well, communicating with us, able to amuse himself with toys, keen to help and/or participate, and still generally very agreeable (the autonomy seemed to emerge overnight when he turned two). We have been getting noticeably more resistance from P. in the last week than had been the case earlier, but she’s still very obviously in this sweet spot as well. It’s a really wonderful age, and she is a great deal of fun to be around.

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Filed under Blink and you'll miss it, E.- the seventh year, Letters to P., P.- the second year

The Fourteenth Month

Dearest P.,

I feel like you grew up so much this month. Your face changed in a way that made you look so much older. I don’t know what caused it- you didn’t get any more teeth and your hair is still coming in at a snail’s pace- but your Daddy noticed it too. Your Grannie has been saying for months that you were going to be trouble- she has always maintained there was a lot of mischief brewing behind your big brown eyes. This month you made it clear that she was absolutely right! This month was a lot of fun, as I was home with you and your brother and we had a chance to enjoy the summer together, but it was also filled with days where I found myself constantly one step behind you, trying to keep up and predict what crazy thing you were about to do next.

This month you decided you were ready to walk. From the very beginning of the month you were able to take five or six steps independently, and you could take more than forty if you were holding my hand. Mid-month you were up to 11 or 12 steps, and then, almost overnight, you were suddenly walking more than you were crawling. I think the critical factor was you were tired of trying to carry something while crawling and you realized just how much easier and faster it would be to walk. By the end of this month you were getting much faster and much more confident on your feet, even when outside on uneven ground.

Along with your newfound walking abilities came something that caught your Daddy and I completely off-guard. You, my darling girl, are a climber. Your brother was not a climber as a toddler (and still is a cautious child), so we simply weren’t prepared for what you were going to do. Part of your motivation, I’m sure, was trying to keep up with your big brother, but I also think you’re inherently bolder than he was at this age. It started innocently enough at the very start of the month when you finally succeeded in being able to climb onto the couch (something you’d been working so hard to achieve last month) and onto the coffee tables. Less than a week later you figured out how to crawl up onto the cushions at the back of the couch to look out the window, and then two days after that you proved you could stand up and balance on the very back edge of the couch, just like your brother does. That day, in particular, was nothing short of a gong show: not only did I catch you standing on the back of the couch, but you also demonstrated you could climb into your high chair all by yourself (and stand up in it), you managed to push out one of the screens of the living room window and let our (indoor only) cat escape (luckily she was too confused to go far), you got your hands on your brother’s scissors, you pulled off the (small, total choking hazard) metal end of the drawstring of your Daddy’s shorts, did the longest stretch of walking we’d seen to date, and tried to pull the protectors out of the electrical outlets. To top it off, you ate more beef and potato pie at dinner than anyone else in the family! We were all exhausted by the time you went to bed, and your Daddy and I spent that evening setting up a new round of baby proofing.

Despite our best efforts, you keep finding trouble. Two days after the day you gave us so many new grey hairs I found you on the kitchen table- you’re still too small to climb up onto the chairs yourself but you pushed my backpack over next to a chair so you could use it as the first step. The day after that you climbed onto the top of your toy shelf (which required you to climb onto the back of a chair to reach it). And then you discovered how much fun it was to try to climb from the coffee tables directly onto the couches. At the end of the month we were visiting your grandparents and you spent the entire visit climbing in and out of every chair in the backyard. Climbing into your high chair when I wasn’t looking became a game, so we had to institute a new rule that the tray was washed before you were allowed out at the end of every meal, as you can’t get in when the tray’s attached (or at least, not yet). We also had to move your brother’s stool out of the kitchen as you would climb onto it to make yourself tall enough to reach the buttons for the washing machine (luckily you haven’t yet figured out which one turns it on).

By the middle of the month you’d succeeded in learning how to pull the covers off the electrical outlets, which you also thought was a wonderful game. One day your Daddy and I were both in the kitchen and you obviously felt we should be paying attention to you. You pulled both the outlet covers off from the outlet nearest the table and then came around the corner to where we could see you with a huge smile on your face. You brandished the outlet covers at us with a triumphant “Yah!”, knowing full well this wasn’t supposed to be something you were doing. Your Grandpa observed that you have a real cackle of a laugh when you’re intentionally being naughty. I hear it frequently when I’m changing your diaper because you love to try to reach down and grab the old diaper. If you’re successful you’ll then swing it around over your head, so I’ve learned to be much faster at getting it out of your reach!

When not rampaging around the house causing trouble, you’re communicating more and more with us each day. You absolutely hate to be told no, and you cry in frustration when things don’t go as you had planned (such as when your mean Mummy doesn’t let you play with the sunscreen bottle while you’re eating lunch). When you’re eating something you’re really enjoying you have a “yummy yum yum!” sound of appreciation. You never sign “milk” anymore, even though you’re still nursing frequently. You find it’s more efficient to just tap my chest or tug at my shirt. Since that was the only sign you’d adopted with any real consistency I think we have to acknowledge that baby signing isn’t for you. When you don’t want something you have a firm “Na!” with a head shake and a hand to push away the offending item. When you do want something you’ll wave your hand at it while chanting “Mee-ma, mum-ee, ma-ma”.

We went to the zoo this month and we ate lunch near the large water park. Your brother had a blast running around but we thought we’d managed to conceal it from you, as we wanted to make sure you ate a good lunch. After lunch, while we packing up getting ready to go see some more animals, you went over to the stroller and pulled out your spare romper and started putting it on your chest and fussing- it was obvious you wanted to wear it. I wasn’t sure what you wanted but decided to humour you. As soon as you had been changed you started trying to walk to the water park- you had thought the romper was your rash guard! Once we realized what you wanted we put you in your rash guard and you then had a lovely time getting absolutely soaked. I eventually had to remove you from the park, with you protesting mightily, even though you were shaking with cold.

Going to the zoo is always an interesting experience with a very little person, and I have to admit there were quite a few points where we debated getting you out of the stroller and ultimately decided to leave you strapped in because we didn’t think you’d be interested in what we were looking at (“You see that very large grey lump over there, P? Not that one, that’s a rock. And that’s a rock too. But THAT one? That’s a rhino. It’s asleep, so it’s not moving or doing anything at all to distinguish itself from a rock.”). With that said, you did really enjoy the giraffes and the penguins. It was great timing for a zoo visit as just this month you’ve started to become fascinated by animals. You point to all cats and dogs outside and have a “buh buh” noise if we ask you what a dog says (although you seem to think cats say it as well). You also have a “bur” noise for birds when you see them, and if we see a bird in a book you’ll point outside to show that you know we see birds outside. Your favourite books at the moment involve animals: Ten Little Ladybugs, I Am A Bunny, Doggies, Baby Woof Woof, the Bright Babies Animals book, First 100 Animals, and First 100 Words (which has many pictures of animals). This marks a big change from before we went to Australia, when your favourite books were Global Babies and Baby Faces Peek-a-boo. You started choosing your own books at bedtime this month. I put you down on the floor in your sleepsack and you carefully pull out the book you want to read, and then I lift you up into the rocking chair. The book that was chosen most often this month was our utterly battered copy of Baby Woof Woof (battered because your brother loved it so much at this age too). I’ve had to try to repair it with duck tape! You noticed our cat months ago but now whenever you see her you let out a huge high-pitched shriek of excitement (which means that the cat then vanishes almost immediately). The cutest change is you’ve adopted your stuffed koala, Fuzz, as a lovey. We put your blanket bunny, Arsinoe, in your crib last month, and you think she’s all right, but Fuzz you specifically asked to have in your crib (and you just as clearly rejected a stuffed bunny when it was offered). Whenever you see Fuzz you grab him and snuggle him up against your face. It’s adorable.

Once you were over the jet lag at the end of last month you settled back into a predictable routine. Your first nap is still close to 90 minutes long (sometimes it even cracks the two hour mark) and your second nap starts three-and-a-half or four hours after your first nap finishes. I’m a little worried about this as you won’t be able to have two naps once school starts up again- the timings for that second nap won’t work with your brother’s pick up schedule- but you’ve proven to be remarkably adaptable thus far and I can hope that will continue. I noticed this month that your eating has slowed down considerably- I thought at first you were teething, but no new teeth appeared, so it could be that you’re not in a growth spurt or that you’re just moving into the toddler stage of being too busy to eat. It’s especially noticeable with breakfast- you’ve gone right off oatmeal and anything else you usually only take a couple of bites before pulling off your bib and throwing everything off your tray. I’ve started experimenting with giving you your own plate, but I have to be careful to only put a little bit of food on it as the moment you get bored you flip it over (or throw it onto the floor if I’m really unlucky). We’ve also started to give you a spoon. You did really well immediately with a bowl of Cheerios and milk and with soup. Oatmeal and yoghurt have proven to be trickier, I think because they’re a firmer texture and require a bit more dexterity to get them on the spoon. You still nurse before both naps, before bedtime, when you first wake up, and once over night, and you often have smaller snacks in between, especially late in the day if you haven’t slept well. I love that you still get so much comfort from nursing and am in no hurry to wean.

This month saw your first fever- we’re still not sure what caused it, as it came accompanied by a very upset digestive system, which took a full week to get sorted out. The fever was high enough that I was planning to take you to the doctor the next morning when the Tylenol finally started to work. It was one of those rare times when I’m reminded that you only have one kidney because we’re not allowed to give you Advil, and I’ve always found that Advil is much more effective than Tylenol when your brother has a fever. Once the fever finally broke you were still up a lot in the night needing diaper changes and extra snuggles. It was wretched to see you feeling so miserable, but it reminded me how rarely you’ve been sick and how cheerful you generally are.

You spend a lot of time imitating us, and you want to do everything that we do. At the table you reject your sippy cups whenever possible and ask to drink from our glasses (you don’t want your own plastic cups either). If we have ice in our water, you want ice in your water. If we give you a cloth, you will try to wash your own face (although you mostly just rub it in your hair). You have this fantastic “I dunno” gesture where you hold out both your hands to the sides, palms up, and look at us with a quizzical expression. You tend to do this right after you’ve intentionally tossed your sippy over the side of the high chair- it’s like you’re pretending to be surprised that this happened. Your favourite thing to do in the mornings is wrestle with your brother. Usually you’ve woken up before he has, so when he stumbles down the stairs you make a beeline for the couch where he’s sitting. He just wants a few quiet minutes while he wakes up, but you’re too excited once you’ve seen him to do anything but jump on him while shrieking and growling with excitement. He occasionally flees to another room, but as long as he stays on the main floor you will toddle after him and start the game again- you are tiny but determined!

This month was bittersweet, as it was the last full month where I was home with you. All too soon you’re going to be spending three days a week with your nanny, one day a week with your Daddy, and one day a week with me. I know we’ll all get used to the new routine eventually, but right now I know I’m really going to miss our time together. You’re so much fun, and I don’t want to miss a moment.

Love always,
Mummy

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Filed under Letters to P., P.- the second year

The thirteenth month

Continuing my approach of “better late than never” when it comes to these…

Dearest P.,

This was a very exciting month, as it marked your very first time travelling to see your Daddy’s family in Australia. The exceptionally long flights and the resulting jet lag weren’t fun at all, but I’m afraid you’re just going to have to get used to it, as you’ll be making that trip every two years for your entire childhood. The flight there was during our usual night, so we changed you into pjs in the departure lounge while we were waiting to board the plane. You had a lovely time climbing all over the seats without incident, but you managed to fall off a heating duct near the window and get carpet burn on your forehead just as I was putting on the Ergo to load you up for the plane. The flight itself was very tiring: just like your big brother on his first trip you came down with a severe case of Mummyitis and wanted nothing to do with your Daddy. You were happy to nurse and sleep for much of the flight, although you got very manic when you were awake and tired. Mummy and Daddy were so relieved when the plane finally landed. Little did we know that we had a much worse ordeal lying in wait for us on the return journey. The flight home is a day flight, which meant that it should have been easier to entertain you as we didn’t have to worry about passengers sleeping nearby, the lights were all on, and the window shades were up. It was, your Daddy and I agree, the worst flight we’ve ever experienced. You couldn’t nap well and then didn’t sleep well when your body thought it was night. Our best guess is that you slept a total of seven hours, in four stretches, over a twenty-four hour period. The lack of sleep meant that, although you did have lots of periods when you were happy to play (and we were able to take advantage of the fact that we had a spare seat where you could sit), there was also a lot of crying. But, as I kept saying to your Daddy, we’ll never see any of those people ever again and we never have to take a toddler to Australia again!

The good news is you handled the jet lag much better than your brother did at this age. When we arrived you had a few mornings where you got up for the day well before 6 a.m., but you were mostly sorted out by the third night, which is pretty impressive. We took a hilarious video of you falling asleep in the high chair the first evening we were there. We were trying to get you through to a regular bed time and you were fading fast! (Your brother had already taken himself off to his room a couple of hours earlier “for a little rest” and passed out.) You also had a much easier time on the return journey because we’d learned from our mistakes when we’d taken your brother to Australia when he was a toddler. Instead of trying to establish bedtime first, we focused on getting a 12 hour “day” (even if that “day” started at 11 a.m.) and then gradually worked to align that “day” with our home time zone. You did have a few nights where you were up for an hour or so in the night, but you were content to snuggle and nurse before going back to sleep.

You had a wonderful time in Australia! Your relatives were so pleased to meet you. We had an official first birthday party where you slept through the main course and then refused to eat any of the cake your Aunty had baked for you (a yellow dump truck at E’s request), except for the strawberries. You loved watching your cousins run around (you were clearly very keen to run around with them, but not keen enough to start walking while we were there!) and you had so much fun playing on your Granny’s lawn. You also loved going to the beach. You were very good about not eating sand, although I did have to keep an eye out for pebbles- apparently they were tastier. We had gorgeous weather- one day you played in the rock pools only wearing a diaper, even though it was winter. We went to the Blue Mountains, went out on the family boat, took the train, ate Yum Cha in Chinatown (your favourite was the minced pork that came with the green beans), and did lots of hiking. You loved riding in the Ergo, but you wouldn’t nap well, and you also started trying to take off your hat whenever you thought we weren’t paying attention.

When you weren’t jet lagged, this was a pretty good month for sleeping. With the exception of a few days right at the end of our trip (explained by the appearance of tooth number 6 the day after we got back), for most of this month you consistently slept through until 4:00 or 4:30 before nursing and then going back to sleep until around 7:00. You still need two naps. The first one is usually around 9:30 or 10:00 a.m. and lasts for about an hour and a half, and then you’re ready for your second nap three hours after you wake up from your first. That second nap is sometimes only thirty minutes and sometimes an hour and a half- it’s much less predictable.

You made the jump this month from babbling to jargoning- you sound like a little creature out of Star Wars most of the time. You’re clearly speaking in full sentences, with syntax and emphasis, but we have no idea what you’re saying! The jargoning also started right after we arrived home, so it’s possible that the horrific homeward flight was largely a result of teething and a developmental leap. You started making a hilarious growling noise this month, which has meant we’ve started asking whether there is a tiger in the house (which you think is equally funny). You’re really not that interested in signing, unlike your brother. You’ve largely stopped using the milk sign and will just crawl over and tug at my shirt. “More” still isn’t consistent and you prefer to pull off your bib rather than using “all done”. If you want something in particular you make it clear through pointing and fussing. This month you developed clear interrogative “dere” and “dat” noises when you were pointing and wanted something identified (which is pretty much all the time). You also have a strong “na!” with a head shake for no, a “nigh nigh” for “night night” (with waving, although not consistent) and an “ah da” sound for “all done” that your Daddy and I belatedly realized was actually your first word as it’s the same sound you’ve been making since you were just under nine months old. Most exciting (for me) this month was the development of a clear “Mumm-mee” (as opposed to “ma” or “mama” or “mum mum”) when you want me. You have the sweetest little voice and I never get tired of listening to you chatter away.

You love standing and will walk holding on to our hands (something I swore I’d never do and refused to do with your brother). By the end of the month you were confidently walking around holding just one of my hands and were taking two or three steps independently. I know you’re going to walk soon, because it was clear in Australia you’re a FOMO baby- you hated watching your brother run around with your cousins knowing that you couldn’t crawl fast enough to keep up. You also wanted desperately to ride on their scooter and would try to climb on to it any time it was available. You are obsessed with your brother’s baseball cap and try to put it on your head whenever it’s left lying around. You also try to put on your own hat before we go out and put your socks on your feet- you occasionally meet with some success with your hat but the socks are proving to be more troublesome.

You can stack rings and fit three shapes into a shape sorter, but you get bored easily with both activities. You’re also still not very interested in sitting and listening while I read you stories. You’ll choose books from your shelf and hand them to me, but you tend to take them back and close them almost immediately (only to then hand them back to me again a minute later, and so on). You’re much more interested in mastering physical challenges: you’re desperate to be able to climb up onto the couch, and although you can get one knee up, you can’t quite manage it yet. You love to play games with people: while in Australia you started doing downward dog with your head right on the floor so you could look back between your legs. If I bent over to look back between your legs at you and said “boo!” you would howl with laughter. You try to catch the attention of everyone you see when we’re out. Even on the airplane, you were trying to make friends by peeking between the seats at the people sitting behind us (on the flight to Australia we were lucky enough to have experienced grandparents in that row who were more than happy to engage with you at all hours). When your plans are thwarted or you’re told no, you’ve now mastered a fake cry that comes complete with a monkey face where you push out your lips. It is very hard not to laugh when you do it, which of course only makes you more insulted.

You remain a very cheerful little soul with a very big personality. I’m so glad you joined our family- we can’t imagine our lives without you.

I love you very much, my darling girl.

love always,
Mummy

 

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Filed under Letters to P., P.- the second year

The twelfth month

SO late again. Sigh.

Dearest P.,

Happy birthday! I can’t believe it’s been a year already. It feels like only a few months ago I was still slowly walking your brother to school with my enormous belly. All the other mums at school have said that to me as well. They all knew that your birthday was coming up because they remembered meeting you as a newborn last June, but they keep being caught off guard when they see you in the playground. For some of the mums it’s the first time they’ve really seen you, as usually you’re tucked up in the carrier, and they can’t believe how big you are or how much you can do. You crawl around at top speed, cruise holding on to the play equipment, and do your best to keep up with your brother and his friends.

You had a busy month! You started the month cruising with a lot of confidence. Most days I’d find you doing the circuit around our living room (from coffee table to big couch to toy shelf to chair to bookshelf to coffee table to little couch). You often would only hold on with one hand and sometimes you would just lean against the couch with your back to keep your hands free to hold on to things. In the late afternoons, when you were feeling clingy you liked to stand and hold on to my legs when I was in the kitchen making dinner (which usually led to me putting you in the Ergo on my back to keep you out of harm’s way). By the end of the month you’d mastered standing without any support for ten seconds or longer. And, right at the end of the month, you had a banner day where you not only stood up from the ground without support for the first time but you also took three steps between your Daddy and me! It will be interesting to see how quickly you start walking now that you’ve figured this out, as you’re so obviously desperate to keep up with your brother.

You’re very interested in climbing. You race up the full flight of stairs and then you love to crawl down the hallway at high speed to my room to unpack my night table. You’re trying to climb up onto the couch (and the coffee table)- you can’t manage it when the cushions are on, but you put your leg up to try, so I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. You did learn this month how to get down from the couch safely, and since standing up on the couch looking out the window is one of your favourite things to do, any time you climb down you almost immediately start fussing to get back up again. You’ve also started trying to stand up in the shopping cart, even when strapped in, which makes grocery shopping a bit more exciting. I have to keep a close eye on you, especially now that you’ve realized you can reach things on the shelves. I didn’t realize you’d figured this out until I turned around from choosing a cucumber to find you eating a Roma tomato! You were deeply pleased you’d picked it out yourself and you were most distraught when you eventually dropped it in the cheese section and I refused to give it back to you.

Early in the month you started giving kisses (which were mostly big, open mouthed bites), but only to me- I loved the special cuddles! By the end of the month your kisses were becoming a bit more refined and you’d also started giving lovely hugs where you really leaned in and snuggled with the person holding you. When you get dressed in the morning you’re able to help me by pushing your own arms through the sleeves of your onesies. You’re starting to imitate people around you- you saw one lady using a hand sanitizer dispenser and you mimicked her by rubbing your hands together. You will rub your ears if asked where they are and you love to try to put your hat on your head (although it’s even better if you can try to put your brother’s hat on your head!). You also love to try to wear my sunglasses if you can get your hands on them (and you will take them off my face if you can reach). When we’re driving in the car you love to interact with us. Even though you’re rear-facing, we can still see you in your mirror through our rear-view mirror. You will smile, blow raspberries, and play peek-a-boo with your blanket bunny. It makes long drives so much more fun!

The big leap this month was in communication. You started to point really clearly and you’ve also mastered using your index finger to poke at things.  By mid-month you could point with intent- you would point at something and make a “dere” noise if you wanted it (such as a box of Cheerios on top of the fridge that we thought you couldn’t see- you don’t miss much!). You also realized that everything has a name, so we spent much of the month labelling objects for you as you pointed at them or held them up for inspection. Often you would hold up one item, listen to us as we named it, then hold up another, and then go back to the first one again to check to see if the name had changed. You’re starting to anticipate with the books that we read- every night we read The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton after you’ve finished nursing, and when we get to the last page and I ask you what the animals do you rock back and forth on my lap in expectation of the final line where they “rock and rock and rock to sleep”. You’ve figured out how to click your tongue against your teeth. Your brother thinks this is the most annoying sound in the world, but you love doing it because your Daddy or I will nearly always click back.

You’re now better able to tell us what you want at the dinner table. By the end of the month you had started to occasionally use the “more” sign (rather than just signing “milk” frantically with both hands). You’ve clearly decided you don’t need to use “all done” as when you’re finished you pull your bib off and then start to play peek-a-boo with it (or drop it over the side)- it’s very hard to miss your point. You tried cow’s milk this month; you weren’t too interested in it because you’re still nursing so much, but at least it didn’t upset your tummy. You also don’t care much for yoghurt or cheese- you’d much rather be eating fruit or oatmeal or pasta. Strawberries are still your absolute favourite fruit but bananas run a close second. Sometimes after breakfast you decide you’d like to have a quick nurse. You’ll sign “milk” and then push away the water glass if I offer it and then, if I say, “Do you want milk-milks?” you give me a huge smile. Usually you only want to sit on my lap and nurse for a few seconds before you’re ready to get down and play again, but it’s clear you like the chance to connect and cuddle in our busy mornings.

When you get down to play, you almost always head right for your ball basket. Balls are, without a doubt, your favourite thing at the moment. You love dropping them, throwing them, taking them out of the basket, putting them back in again, showing them to us, crawling while holding them, etc. The blue ball is your favourite, so it tends to be the one that takes me the longest to find again every evening when I’m putting them all back in the basket after you’ve gone to bed (if I try to put them away with you “helping” you take them out as quickly as I put them in). You get hugely frustrated if you put a ball on the couch or a chair and it rolls to the back and you can’t reach it yourself. You’ll squawk and fuss and point until someone (often your brother) comes and rescues it for you. You’re able to stack one block on top of another, but you rarely choose to do so- you’d much rather watch me build towers and then knock them down. When we come inside and I put you down on the floor the first thing you do is try to unpack my purse- you love to play with my keys and take all the cards out of my wallet, so much so that we even made you a wallet of your own with old gift cards and expired loyalty cards. I keep it in the diaper bag for restaurants and waiting rooms but you don’t like it nearly as much as my wallet- I think you know it’s somehow not the same. When we’re outside your favourite things to do are to go on the swings (you get so excited if you can see the swings you kick your legs as soon as I pick you up) and to play in our back yard in the water table. You especially love to play with the water table if your brother is playing too, although you get very frustrated that he’s big enough to hold the hose and you’re not. You spend so much of your life frustrated that your brother is doing something and you’re not. The best example this month was when we were visiting Grandpa in the hospital. He was giving your brother a ride around the ICU in his wheelchair and I was walking along next to them holding you. You fussed and squawked and pointed and expressed your displeasure at being excluded in no uncertain terms. Finally Grandpa set his chair’s speed to its lowest setting and I held you on his lap while we made a very slow circuit. You were so pleased- you had the biggest grin the entire time and you sat perfectly still. I think you knew you were getting to do something special (you then also wanted to use the remote to control Grandpa’s hoist after you saw your brother doing that too, but I drew the line at that).

On the sleep front, we’ve finally made some progress. It took a week or so of Daddy going in to settle you if you woke up before 3 a.m. but eventually you seem to have accepted that the open milk bar is down to one serving per night. Most nights now you sleep from 7 p.m. until 4:30 a.m. before waking up for a nurse and a cuddle. Then you go back to sleep until around 7 a.m. I suppose we could make an effort to cut that final feed but since we’re going to spend most of your next month overseas we didn’t really see the point. You still need two naps a day but you’ve pushed the second nap later. You don’t want to go to sleep until you’ve been up for at least three hours, which has been a real challenge with having to pick your brother up from school. The summer will be easier, but I’m hoping you’ll be ready to switch to one nap some point in the next couple of months as you’ll have to be on one by September. You’re still happy to fall asleep in the car. We had one unexpectedly epic drive this month- we were driving to Grannie’s and it took much longer than usual because of traffic and an accident on the highway. You were so good- you barely fussed at all. After dinner you fell asleep easily and slept the entire rest of the way (unlike your brother who resolutely refused to go to sleep even though it was almost 11 p.m. by the time we finally arrived).

We didn’t have a very big party for your birthday, but we did have your Auntie L., Uncle A. and your cousin Spud over for lunch. We had barbecued prawns and chicken, oven-roasted lemony potatoes, and a summer salad with strawberries and avocado. Your brother helped me make orange cupcakes with chocolate ganache, the same recipe we made for his first birthday (because it is dairy and soy-free but still delicious). Unlike your brother (who ate his entire cupcake at his first birthday party), you didn’t like the cupcake at all! You ate two or three bites, making faces every time, and then you just mashed it into your high chair tray.

You had your twelve month appointment but we delayed your vaccinations until after your trip because you had a bit of a cold and we didn’t want to make you even more miserable before putting you on an airplane. You were 77 cm (30.5″) which means you’re now on the charts for height, but I didn’t find out the percentile. You were 19 lb, 11 oz, which is still the 25th percentile for weight, and your head circumference was 47 cm. You also had your follow up appointment with the neurologist who confirmed his impression from the first appointment- although you do still noticeably prefer your right hand, the asymmetry isn’t anything to worry about. You’re just likely to be very right handed. You added one more tooth this month (on the top at the right, next to the big middle ones), bringing your total to 5. It’s definitely not a gummy smile now when you grin at us!

Your birthday was bittersweet. I’m excited to watch you grow in the coming year- it’s no secret that I love the toddler years more than infancy. At the same time, you are my last baby, and your firsts are also my lasts. I know you want to walk (and run!), but I’m in no rush. You are balanced between baby and toddler, and I’m going to soak up the late night snuggles, the soft pats at my breast as you nurse, your wispy hair with its one curl at the back, and the smile on your face as you crawl towards me as long as I can.

Happy birthday, my darling girl.

Love always,
Mummy

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Filed under Letters to P., P.- the first year

The eleventh month

A bit late but I’m under pressure to make sure I get it done before P. actually turns one!

Dearest P.,

This is so bittersweet. I have loved watching you learn and grow this past year, but now that your first birthday is just around the corner, it’s hard to accept that my last baby is almost no longer a baby at all. I’m not sad for you, because I know you’re so much happier now that you can do so many more things, and you’re becoming such an active member of the family. I just know that this really is the very last time I will get to watch a child of mine grow from a tiny, helpless infant, to a real little person. This year seems to have gone by so quickly.

This was a big month (again) for you! At the start of the month you were confidently pulling yourself up on everything, but you weren’t yet ready to move your feet. That soon changed and by mid-month you were starting to cruise around the furniture. As you became more confident standing you started to experiment with going up on your tiptoes and stretching out your arms to increase your reach, so another round of baby proofing (particularly with the magnets on the fridge) was required. You’re still not interested in taking any steps- you’re much too fast when crawling- but you have started to stand without holding on to anything for five or six seconds at a time. You love to crawl underneath the chairs to find one of your balls when it’s escaped and you’ll very carefully crawl underneath the coffee table to get to the other side if you can’t quite reach what’s on top of it. One day you pushed one of your brother’s little chairs all the way across the kitchen and I realized it was time to get out the yellow and green ride on car that your brother used. Over the course of the month you went from needing to be put on it and pushed around, to crawling along on your knees pushing it, to being able to get on it yourself, to being able to push yourself around slowly if you sat on it backwards. You can also walk along behind it holding on to the bar but at this point you prefer to ride.

This was also a month for climbing. Emptying the dishwasher has become even more of a challenge as you’ll climb up onto the lowered door and then sit up there, triumphant and deeply pleased with yourself, and “help” me by unpacking the cutlery basket. You always manage to find the sharp knives first- I don’t know how you do it. Most mornings now I take out the cutlery basket as soon as I open the door and put it on top of the counter. You’re not at all pleased, but it is much safer.

The other major safety change this month was we now have to shut the gate at the bottom of the stairs. We discovered this had become necessary one day early in the month when I went upstairs to put a few things away, heard a noise on the stairs, looked down and discovered that you were five or six stairs up already! I went down the stairs very slowly and carefully and scooped you up as soon as I could, but you sure gave me a fright! By about midway through the month, after several (supervised) attempts, you were able to climb up all fourteen stairs to get to the very top. The first time you did it your brother was sitting at the top cheering you on with every step and he still gets a big kick out of watching you rush to catch up to him.

You can also now climb onto the couch if one of the cushions is pulled off onto the floor. You love being up there and looking out the window, but your favourite couch activity is when E pulls off all the cushions and puts them on the floor to make an obstacle course. He’s busy jumping, crawling, and wriggling, and you’re right in there participating, rolling around and giggling. You may not have any idea about the order of the obstacle course (which frustrates your brother to no end), but you know that you’re playing with him and that makes you so happy.

As I’ve said to your Daddy more than once this month, we’re officially in the “living with Yoda” stage. Your favourite thing to do is to unpack, pull down, or tip over anything you can possibly reach, all day long. Folded laundry in a basket elicits shrieks of excitement as you barrel towards it, and bags of groceries are equally enticing. You also love to pull all the cloths and tea towels down from the door of the oven. You sometimes then put them on top of your head, just like your brother used to do, but you’re not as into “blind crawling” as he was.

Your wave is now open handed and is no longer identical to your “milk” sign, which is a good thing as you’re still trying to use your “milk” sign to mean anything from “I’d like to nurse” to “Can I have my water” to “I need help opening this lid” to “Can’t you see I need something right this instant, Mummy? Figure it out!” (which is when you frantically sign “milk” with both hands while squawking in frustration). You will put your hands on your head if asked where your hair is (although you still don’t have very much) and you can give high fives. You love to blow air out of your mouth (not raspberries, although you love doing those too), but we haven’t had any luck getting you to blow bubbles yet. You hate diaper changes and having your face washed, but with the exception of those two activities you’re almost always very cheerful. You also like to assert your own autonomy by staring us right in the eye while dropping food over the side of the high chair if you’ve decided it doesn’t look nice.

You love to put things into other things and then take them out again, so your favourite toys are your brainless elephant, your shape sorter (you can get some of the easier shapes in if we line up the sorter for you), and the seat of the ride-on car, which lifts up to make a handy storage compartment for various treasures. You can find “Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb” and “Baby Beluga” on your bookshelf and will hold them up in the air if you want them to be read (although most of the time you still close the book after a few pages). You still want to do absolutely everything your brother does. If I bring him home new books from the library you’ll sit next to him and “read” them too (they’re usually upside down).

This month we started a baby music class. You were a little apprehensive the first time we went but now you absolutely love it. You sit and bounce up and down in time with the music, chew on all the props, and watch what the other babies are doing. You’re still enjoying your one day a week with your babysitter, although you crawl frantically towards me signing “milk” as soon as I walk in the door since you do still love late afternoon cuddles and nursing. There was one day where I stayed in the house longer than usual and you were obviously confused and upset by the change- you like your babysitter, but you didn’t want to be with her if I was around.

We were so close to getting you through your entire first year without you getting sick, which I thought was incredible considering your older brother must have been bringing all sorts of new germs home from school, but our luck ran out this month as you came down with your first cold. You had a very runny nose and a weepy eye for a few days. You still managed to sleep fairly well but it was obvious you weren’t your usual cheerful self. You very nicely shared your cold with me so we had a few days where once we dropped your brother off at school we did very little else.

At the start of the month you went on a  real streak of getting up for the day somewhere between 5:20 and 5:40 a.m. Although this meant you were only waking up once to feed in the night, after nine or ten days of this your Daddy and I were utterly exhausted. We decided to try pushing back your bedtime to 7 p.m. This almost immediately solved the issue of you getting up too early but it meant that you started getting up twice a night to nurse again, which we felt was unnecessary at this point. So at the end of the month we started sending Daddy in to give you a cuddle and put you back to sleep when you first woke up in the night if it was before 3 a.m. We had some success but it’s too early to tell whether it’s going to be a permanent change. One of the reasons we were so desperate to fix the early wakings is that if you wake up too early there’s absolutely no chance that I can give you a cuddle and nurse you back to sleep in our bed. If you come into our room you get ridiculously excited- your Daddy says it’s like being in bed with a kraken. Even in your sleepsack you’re able to thrash around and climb all over us. If it’s the weekend and your brother comes in too it’s like being in a whirlpool. We’re definitely not going to be one of those families where everyone has a big family cuddle in bed on the weekends- you two just get too excited.

You’re still taking two naps a day, but we’re now at the stage where I have to wake you up from your first nap by 11 a.m. to make sure that you’ll be tired enough to fall back asleep before we have to go get your brother from school. Now that the weather is (slowly) improving it would be wonderful if you would nap in the stroller as then we could go for a long walk in the afternoon while you napped, but, just like when you come into our bed in the early morning, you’re too excited in the stroller to sleep. You want to see everything! At home, when it’s time to put on your sleepsack, you like to stand up in the crib and have me put the sleepsack behind you. You then lean backwards into the sack and fall (supported) onto the mattress with a huge smile.

You’re very, very busy. Unless you’re sleeping or sitting in your high chair, you’re almost always crawling, standing, cruising, climbing, and playing. The time we have together while your brother is at school flies by.  I’m so glad we’re still going to have the summer together before I go back to work as I can’t wait to see what fun we’re going to have once you’re walking. Your cheeky grin makes me smile every morning when I come in to get you out of your crib. You are such a happy little soul. I love you ever so much, my darling girl.

Love,
Mummy

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The tenth month

Over a month late again! #secondchildproblems

Dearest P.,

This was a BIG month for you! There were so many changes and new developments. There are good things about every stage but I have to be honest- this stage is one of my absolute favourites. At the same time, it’s bittersweet because so many of the changes in you this month make it clear just how close you’re getting to your first birthday. You’re still very much a baby, especially when I look at you compared to your brother, but you’re definitely an older baby now and it won’t be long before I look at you and see a toddler looking back.

The biggest changes this month were physical ones. At the start of the month you were very confident when pulling up on to your knees, so we lowered your crib mattress to the lowest setting and moved everything on the fridge a little bit higher. It didn’t take too long before you started pulling to standing- using the couch, a laundry basket, the door of the dishwasher, Daddy’s legs- whatever was available! By the end of the month you were very confident standing but weren’t quite cruising. You will let go with one hand or the other but you weren’t ready to move your feet.

The other big physical change was you finally started to properly crawl rather than use your asymmetrical army crawl. Ironically you started to do this the day before you had an appointment with an OT to get the army crawl assessed. Needless to say when the OT arrived to find you crawling around and using all of your limbs evenly you were given a clean bill of health!

The combination of proper crawling and pulling to standing has meant that you’re able to get into a lot more trouble now. You’re much faster (which has been a bit of a shock for your brother) and your reach has greatly extended. You can reach all of the coffee tables and you can even get your fingers onto the top of the dining room table if you really stretch. E.’s had to move all of his toys either up to his room or down to the basement as you can reach every spot on the toy shelf in the living room. He also has to have his snack at the dining room table because if he eats it at his little table in the kitchen you come along and try to throw his plate on the floor. You’re still his biggest fan- you crawl over and pull up next to him so you can see what he’s doing every opportunity you get. He’s so big and you’re so little, but you’re desperate to join in. It melts my heart.

All of this newfound mobility makes giving you a bath a bit more complicated. It’s very hard to keep you sitting now as you always want to crawl around in the water, pull up on the side, or try to grab the faucet. If I leave you in the crib while I’m having a shower you immediately stand up and throw all your toys over the side (and then shriek in displeasure that they’re gone). Your all-time favourite activity is to pull up to standing and then unpack anything you can reach. You’re starting to learn that you can’t pull E.’s books off of the shelf (although you gleefully unpack your own), but you love to take down all the plastic cups and plates in the kitchen. If I’m tidying up you’ll come along behind me and “help” by unpacking everything again. More than once our evenings have ended with me putting away your books, only to find that you’ve pulled them all out again while I’m putting away the toys, and you then move on to the toys while I frantically try to get all the books on the shelf again.

Your personality is emerging a little more each day. I wouldn’t say you have a lot of separation anxiety, but it’s clear that you’re not comfortable in new environments with lots of people looking at you, and you find people who wear glasses with big thick frames to be a little scary. If I’ve been out you crawl towards me at top speed, fussing and complaining, as soon as I walk in the door, even if (as your Daddy or your babysitter tells me) you were perfectly content before you heard my key in the lock.

If we say bye-bye you look to the door to see who is going (and you’ll usually wave, although sometimes you only wave once the person has left). When playing hide-and-seek, if I ask you to find your brother you’ll crawl towards where he’s hiding. You can find “Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb” on your shelf and hand it to me. I think you’re asking me to read it, although it’s hard to tell because you usually grab most books and close them after one or two pages. One night I made the mistake of bringing a new book upstairs to read at bedtime (“I am a Bunny”). As soon as I started reading it you started fussing and wriggling and looking at the bookshelf and you didn’t stop until I read “Global Babies” and “Baby Faces Peekaboo” like we usually did.

I’ve had to concede this month that “dada” is a word. You say it a lot (I think probably because it gets such a reaction from us) and it’s not always in context, but it is pretty clear that you use it to refer to Q. when he’s around. You also have a “ma” sound that you’ll sometimes make when you want milk, especially when you’re up and calling me at night. You also continue to make the noise that sounds like “all done” in context, although not very often so the jury’s still out on whether we should consider that to be a word.

You don’t really need “all done” as a word at the moment, as you’re more than capable of making it perfectly clear that you’re finished eating. If we’re not quick enough to figure out that you’ve slowed down you’ll start to mash your food, or fling it off your tray using your hands like windshield wipers. Your most common “tell”, however, is you try to pull your bib off. We’re starting to impose some rules around eating- you’re all done with your cup if you start to try to put your fingers in it, and you don’t get food returned once it’s been dropped over the side more than once. You still sign “milk” when you want a drink of water, but sometimes you just go straight to a shriek of frustration. You like all the same foods that you did last month. Some days you eat more than your brother and others you barely eat anything at all. I’m sure it all evens out.

You still love that you can ask for milk. In the late afternoon, if you’re feeling tired or sad you like to sit on my lap with your legs on either side of my waist and your body squished up against my chest. We have a lovely cuddle while you nurse. If you’re your usual energetic self you like to do what I call “nurse dancing” where you stand next to me, put your hands on my leg for balance, and then wiggle and dance while nursing. Sometimes you settle in for a full feed but most often it’s many frequent snacks. I don’t really mind, although it is a bit frustrating when you nurse just long enough to get a letdown before you head off to do something else. I always end up with milk dripping everywhere. You still have proper feeds before each of your naps and before bedtime, as well as once or twice a night, so I know you’re getting plenty of milk.

There was very little change in the sleep department this month. Your bedtime is still 6:30 p.m., you’re still up a couple of times in the night, you still nap twice a day, your first nap is still close to two hours long, and your second nap is still almost always interrupted by having to go get your brother from school. You tend to go down fairly quickly for naps and at bedtime, unlike your brother who at this age would grizzle and chat to himself for twenty or thirty minutes (and who still takes an incredibly long time to turn his brain off and fall asleep at night). We occasionally hear you chatting for ten minutes before your second nap but usually there’s not so much as a peep once I leave your room. You get up for the day somewhere between 5:30 and 6:45 a.m. and we’d love for you to decide you could sleep a little bit longer (as 5:30 is really early when I know you won’t be able to nap until after we’ve dropped your brother at school). You sleep on your side and I’ve noticed that you like to hold your own hands as you fall asleep- if I put you down when you’re very sleepy (like when you wake up too early and you’re desperate for your nap), you’ll roll over right away on to your side, hold your hands, and close your eyes. It is adorable.

Much less adorable was your realization early in the month that you could grind your teeth together. I remember this phase (and how horrified I was by it) from your brother’s infancy. I was so relieved that it turned out to be a short phase- by the time tooth #4 came through at the end of the month you’d already stopped. That tooth was the first one where we felt you needed Tylenol, which makes me wonder if more teeth are coming soon.

You really enjoyed the warmer weather this month. Spring has been very very slow in arriving, but we did have a few nice days. One morning I spent a happy hour weeding the garden while you played in the travel crib (and tried to eat any pine needles that the nearby tree dropped in). You don’t realize it yet, but you’re going to be spending many, many hours out in the garden with me, so I felt it was a bit of an occasion the first time you came out to “help”. We had one gorgeous day where we went to the park and you got absolutely filthy playing in the sand (and “helping” your brother and his friend with their engineering project). You had the biggest smile on your face the entire time. The warmer weather also makes me look like less of a terrible parent when we’re out for a walk and you pull off your socks while sitting in the stroller (you have just as much disdain for socks as your brother did- your Daddy says it’s your Antipodean heritage).

I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us next month. I love you ever so much, my darling girl.

Much love,
Mummy

 

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Filed under Letters to P., P.- the first year

The ninth month

Dear P.,

Nine months! I feel like nine months is a milestone, not only because it means you’re now three-quarters of the way through your first year, but also because that’s how long (roughly) I carried you in my body. My midwives told me when your brother was little that I should take the view that it’s “nine months in you and nine months on you” (although I find that teeth and the advent of separation anxiety usually means a few more months with lots of snuggles and being carried around). One of the mothers on your birth club posted the other day that 9-12 months is her least favourite stage of the first year and I was completely gobsmacked. Nine months, for me, is the true golden age of infancy. You’re fun to play with, your day is predictable, and, best of all, you’re starting to realize that you can communicate with us and exercise control over some parts of your world. You’ve been growing and changing in leaps and bounds every single month, but there’s no denying that something really special happened this month, and I’ve loved watching it happen.

By the end of last month you were pretty stable when I placed you into sitting, and you started this month absolutely determined to learn how to get into sitting from when you were lying on your tummy. At first you were only able to do this if you could push off against our legs or the step up into the kitchen but after a week or so you had it mastered. You then immediately moved on to pulling up to kneeling. By the end of the month you were very confident kneeling (you didn’t need to hold on to anything to keep your balance) and you’d also pulled yourself to standing a couple of times using the stairs. Once you even managed to get your feet up onto the second stair! I thought we were going to have to start closing that gate but you didn’t repeat it. Getting up on to your knees has meant your climbing has improved as well- now you can climb right up on to the top of a sizeable Rubbermaid bin, reach down over the other side to pick something up off the floor, and then slide back down on to your knees.

You still choose to go everywhere using your asymmetrical army crawl. This month you modified it slightly so that you were pulling with your left arm (bent at 90 degrees at the elbow) and pushing with your right foot. This change allows you to carry something in your right hand, usually a shape from your shape sorter or a pair of your socks if I’ve been foolish enough to leave them lying around on the floor. It is, quite frankly, a most peculiar way to travel and your brother spends a lot of time demonstrating to you how much faster you could be if you would “do proper crawling” (as he puts it). You can be pretty darn fast if you’re trying to get somewhere you know you’re not supposed to be! If I put you on the floor of my room while I’m getting dressed, you’ll give the baby in the mirror some kisses and then, as soon as you think I’m distracted, you’ll set off at top speed down the hall towards your brother’s room. If I don’t immediately come after you, I can be guaranteed you’ll pull over the plant in his room and try to eat the soil (a plant which, may I point out, is in his room for the express purpose of keeping it out of your reach!).

There were some changes this month to your sleeping habits. I finally broke the habit of sitting in the room while you were putting yourself to sleep at naps and at bedtime. This was more a bad habit on my part, especially at bedtime, as I liked the ten minutes of peace and quiet I got while sitting in the rocking chair waiting for you to settle. You didn’t really need me in there, so it was a very easy change. More difficult, but no less important, was the change we made this month to your bedtime. Ideally you’d go to bed at 7 p.m. after we eat dinner, but this month we finally admitted that this just wasn’t possible if I had to wake you up by 2:50 p.m. to get your brother from school. We had too many dinners where you were just yelling in protest as I ate my food as fast as I could before we both abandoned your Daddy and your brother when I whisked you upstairs. So this month we experimented with you eating an early dinner by yourself around 5 p.m., and then going to bed by 6:30 p.m. It’s not perfect: I’m always forgetting I need to think about what you’re going to eat for dinner, and having our dinner that late does mean that your brother’s bedtime routine gets a bit rushed if he dawdles over his food, but we’re all agreed it’s a huge improvement. What really made us certain this was the right thing to do was when we were visiting your Grannie for a week and your brother didn’t have school: your afternoon nap was able to run later and you had no trouble with a 7:00 or 7:15 p.m. bedtime. I wish you could eat dinner with us, but that may have to wait until the summer.

You’re still up twice a night, usually around 11 and again around 3 (although this can vary wildly). I find if the second feed isn’t until 4 or a bit later you’ll sleep until close to 7, which is much more civilized than getting up for the day right at 6 (which is what you do if I see you at 3). I probably could now take steps to try to encourage you to drop at least one of these wakings, but I’m too tired to commit to it, and I don’t want to risk you waking up your brother. I’ve learned you’re a tummy sleeper now: on a few occasions I’ve had to go in to wake you from a nap when you’re still in a very deep sleep, and you’ve been lying on your tummy with your face pressed into the mattress. It’s quite nerve-wracking to see, but you seem to be comfortable! You did set a new record this month for sleeping: 11 hours straight (6:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m., including me checking on you in a panic at 4:45 a.m.). You then nursed at 5:30 and woke up again at 6. I assumed you were going to get up for the day, but you just nursed again and then fell back asleep until after 8- 13.5 total hours! Sadly no aspect of this feat has ever been repeated. I guess you were growing.

It’s very rare now that you wake up in the early evening. One night you did pop up at 8:30 p.m. Your brother was still awake and, once you started crying in earnest, he started singing the “We’re ok, P.” song with the verse “Mummy’s going to come up soon, Mummy’s going to come up soon, Mummy’s going to come up soon, and then you’ll have lovely milk!” I don’t normally nurse you if you wake up that early but he was being so kind and loving I didn’t want to disappoint him.

You are so very lucky to have such a wonderful big brother. He is extraordinarily patient and gentle with you, and he’s been so tolerant of the continual changes we’ve had to make to our environment to keep you safe. Some of your favourite toys are the sensory bottles that he made for you, and you love to follow him into his snake house behind our couch (although you usually then get stuck and can’t get back out again without help). This month you had your first bath with your brother where you sat up and I didn’t have to hold you. E. was thrilled- he said he’s been waiting for this for months! He immediately invented a game of boats with the shampoo bottles that you could both play. When your brother isn’t around to entertain you, you like to hold one shape from your shape sorter in each hand and bang them together or shake them like mad. You always have a huge smile on your face when you do this. You’ve mastered the “brainless” elephant (as we call it); you love dropping in the balls and then you’ll sway back and forth with the music.  This month also marked your first time on a swing. You loved it! You had the biggest smile on your face and you kicked your legs with joy (just like how you kick them when you’re eating something particularly tasty).

Speaking of food, things are finally getting easier. One day you ate an entire piece of toast with peanut butter on it for breakfast, which was the exact same food on which you had choked just a month earlier, leading us to largely stop the finger foods in favour of purees. It seems you just needed to grow up a little more and have a bit more time to practice as by the end of this month we were only really using purees if we were travelling (they’re just easy, especially since this month you learned how to hold the pouches and suck the food out yourself). You also learned how to drink from the Rubbermaid straw cup, which has again made travelling much easier. You’re very neat when drinking out of the IKEA glasses, although you do get very cross when I take it away when you start trying to put your fingers in it at the same time. Your pincer grip is excellent and you love sitting up at the table eating Cheerios when your brother is having his after school snack. You’ll try most things we offer you, but you have some clear favourites: hard boiled eggs, avocado, strawberries, oatmeal with cinnamon (made with large flake rolled oats as you won’t touch the baby oatmeal), and peanut butter toast.

There are signs, I think, that you might be starting to outgrow the dairy/soy intolerance. We’ve introduced it into my diet a few times without any ill effects, although when we did give you something with baked milk in it we felt you were still reacting if you ate it directly. We’ll try again in another month or so. In the meantime, I’m not quite as strict with my diet as I used to be, which has been a nice change.

Nursing has presented some more challenges this month. It’s been harder to get you to settle for a good feed unless it’s before your naps or at bed time. You often skip the first feed in the morning altogether (you’re still full from your feed at 3 or 4 a.m.), as well as the feed that came before lunch. That said, you’ve started asking to nurse in the late afternoon, rather than waiting for me to offer. At first you asked by crawling over, pulling down my shirt and sticking your head in my chest, but by the end of the month you’d mastered using the “milk” sign. You seem to use this as an all purpose sign for “drink” as you also use it at the table when you want a drink of water. When you first realized we understood what you were trying to communicate you went through a phase of asking to nurse, nursing for about ten seconds, popping off to go back to play, and then repeating this over and over again. Now the excitement has worn off a little bit and you will often settle for a good feed in the late afternoon (although you get up to some real acrobatics while doing so). It didn’t help that you cut your third tooth at the end of the month (your top right middle) as you never like nursing much when your gums hurt. I’m in a good pattern of pumping every day after you go down for your first nap as well as any time you skip a regular feed. You still love to nurse, even if you don’t always drink very much at one time.

Along with the “milk” sign we thought earlier in the month you had started signing “all done”, but it’s still inconsistent. You often signal that you’re finished by pulling off your bib or sweeping your hands back and forth on your tray like they’re windshield wipers. One day at lunch you very clearly said something that sounded just like “all done!” in context- even your brother noticed. We think that was probably just a coincidence as you haven’t repeated it. It’s clear that you’re starting to understand quite a lot. You understand the word “no”, even if you don’t always listen when I say it (especially when it involves not grabbing the cat as you just can’t help yourself). You also understand the question “Where is the cat?” and will turn your head to see where she is. She’s still your favourite member of the household after your brother. There was a lot of grabbing of her fur this month, but she brings a lot of it on herself because she knows you’re mobile and yet she still insists on sitting right next to you and bumping you with her head affectionately. I think on some level she likes the attention. This month you also started raising your hands to ask to be picked up and clapping. The sight of you applauding yourself after you’ve done something you think is particularly clever is adorable. You have a fake cough you use to get someone’s attention (usually directed at your Daddy or your Grannie), which is also adorable, but I think my favourite communication change this month is you started initiating peek-a-boo. You will “play” peek-a-boo with the baby in the lift-the-flap book by closing the flap to hide the baby and then opening it up really quickly and smiling and giving the baby kisses (which are still big vampire kisses). Then you’ll close the flap and start all over again. You also play peek-a-boo with me by hiding by the stairs and peeking out every time I ask “Where’s P.? Where’s she gone?”

You had your 9 month well baby appointment at the end of the month. You weighed in at 17 lb, 1.5 oz, which puts you in the 25th percentile for weight (although I was pleased that you’d gained almost a full pound more than your brother did between six and nine months, which I suspect is a result of your better nursing habits). You were 29 inches long, which means you’re still off the charts for height, so you’ve stayed long and lean. We’ll be moving you into 12 month clothes pretty soon, especially when you’re wearing cloth diapers. You’re also starting to look older- a number of the mothers at school have commented on this. You are still clearly a baby (especially because you still have almost no hair), but there are hints of the toddler you’re going to become.

We’ve had such fun together this month, my darling girl. You are such a cheerful little soul, and you take almost everything in your stride. I am so very glad you came to join our family.

Love always,
Mummy

 

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Filed under Letters to P., P.- the first year