Chloë would say "Merry Christmas from the Overlord!" if (a) she could say any of those words and (b) she weren't throwing up left and right. Christmas was spent with a grandma recovering from a stomach bug and an aunt and cousin (a very huggy cousin) coming down with it, so I'm not surprised, though I am very sorry (and so is Eric, who has to keep changing his clothes as well as hers).
Other than that, it was a great Christmas. She got books and movies and clothes and electronic toys, and a new doll and a sock monkey and a fuzzy blanket, and a package of four nubbly balls that, along with her armchair, were really all she needed. She opened that first on Christmas morning and we had to open the box and get the balls out for her, and even after ten minutes of play we had a hard time convincing her that maybe she could look at the other presents that needed opening. She did enjoy ripping into the presents, hers and ours, and was restrained with difficulty from opening the ones still under the tree for her cousins and grandmas and such. And she was okay wearing her fancy Christmas dress for the family Christmas, though she was a little concerned when she was asked where her belly was and couldn't find it under the skirt.
Christmas was the first TV-free day she's had in a while, a trend we're not excited about. She asks for TV early in the day and keeps asking, even if she's seen a couple, and mostly we've been letting her watch one or two of her Baby Einstein shows. (She got a new one for Christmas, Baby Neptune, and the next day we watched it. Afterward she pointed to the TV and said "Baby," so I got out Baby da Vinci, which is what she usually means when she says "Baby" these days, but what she wanted was to watch the Baby Neptune one again.) We're not keen on letting her be a couch potato this early, so we're putting up with the whining and encouraging her to play with her blocks, or dolls, or Leapfrogs, or talking purse, or books, or...you get the idea. Mom brought her a couple of teach-your-baby-to-sign books, basically miniature ASL dictionaries with kids doing the signs, and she loves looking at these. Anything with kids or babies in it is tops with her these days.
This past month she has continued to pick up vocabulary at an alarming rate. She knows "honey," for example, and "pepper." She can say "car" pretty clearly. She's been practicing "Halmoni," based on pictures on the fridge and the webcam call we had on Christmas, and it's now more of a "Hah....eee" than a "Hal." She now uses "Mimi" we think to refer to Memaw, Eric's mom, though that one's hard to tell. She calls all cats, or at least all black cats, "Shadow" ("ahh-daoh") now, after Memaw's cat. "Ba" is box (normally her jewelry box), or sometimes sheep; "pih" is her piggybank; "gkaoh" is chocolate. (She learned it because she got it daily, or anyway every day she remembered to ask, up until Christmas because she got an advent calendar from Memaw, though we switched out the "chocolate" in it for Hershey's. We'll see how it goes from now on.) She's getting better at calling oranges oranges instead of apples; she was excited to correctly point them out in her How Are You Peeling? book this past week. The peppers still perplex her, especially when I point to the red and green ones side by side and call them both peppers. I don't know if she connects them with the pepper shaker on the table or not. Poor kid.
"Button" is now "buh," which I hear pretty frequently, as one of her favorite pastimes is to sit on the spare bed and open up my button tin and let all the buttons cascade out. Then she shows me the pretty ("piee") ones, or we play "button eyes" or "stack the buttons" until she starts flailing her hands about in the pile and flinging them about, and then it's time to pack them up again. She's good at helping put them away. She's also good, after having been told several times, about not opening up the little bags with the special buttons in them. "Nanana," she says, holding them up to show me, and I nod and say, "That's right, that's a no-no. Thank you," and she puts them to the side. "No" is showing up more and more. Sometimes it's in response to "do you want your drink?" which is okay; sometimes it's in response to "come here so I can put your diaper on you," which is not. The definition of "no" will, we know, be ongoing for pretty much the next seventeen years.
She can also name various body parts. Previously we would say "where's your nose?" or "where's your arm?" and she'd point to it. Now we point and say "What's this?" and she says "nohh," or "ahm." She knows her leg, and her knee, and her cheek and chin and back and bottom (which makes everyone laugh).
She continues to be an excellent eater. She does very well eating things like applesauce and oatmeal with her spoon with not too much mess, and spearing things like cheese and eggs with her fork with great readiness and pretty decent accuracy. She gobbled up the green beans and turkey at Christmas dinner. Also, she seems okay with spicy foods. Eric was picking out a cheese cube from the tray and realized too late that it was a hot pepper cube, not Swiss. He offered it to me; I took it and was reaching for a cracker to eat it with when Chloë, who was in my lap, leaned over and took a bite. We waited for her to spit it out or make a face, but she swallowed, considered, and took the rest of the cube.
In the past couple of weeks she's been very keen on helping with chores. Our standard routine after meals is to get a wet paper towel to wipe down her hands and face. She's been taking it to "wipe her hands" for a while, but now she also wipes her face, and sometimes the tabletop, and when I get her down from her chair she wipes the chair, too. She recently started bringing in plates and food from the table after dinner--unasked. And she and Eric went grocery shopping one night, and when Eric started loading bags into the trunk of the car she started lifting bags to hand to him.
She continues to like me to pick her up a lot. This is becoming troublesome, since I'm now noticeably pregnant (here come maternity pants, at five months, sigh) and my back is noticing, and picking up a thirty-pound toddler is not helping. I've started coming down to her level and letting her climb in my lap, or sitting down and lifting her up that shorter distance, but we're going to have to work on weaning her off of Mama's arms as well as bottles. The bottle-weaning is going fine; we're doing sippy cups in the morning with no trouble. When we gave her milk at dinner the other night she commented "babul," and went right on. Naptime bottles will probably be the next to go.
Potty training, on the other hand, is at a standstill. Most of the time she refuses to sit on the potty seat. Sometimes when Eric or I am on the toilet, she'll come in and sit, but once her pants and diaper are off she sits for about two seconds and then rockets upward again. Though this morning while I was taking a shower she decided to try it, and removed her pants and diaper herself and sat for a while. The diaper thing is new. Oh boy.
She's a one-nap girl now. It's still usually before lunchtime, which we're probably going to have to work on, but her schedule seems to be working out for her. She often wakes around seven, and if it's earlier she's usually happy to get a bottle and a change and go back to bed, so that works out for me, too.
She loves, loves, loves her bath. We get her undressed in the bathroom while the water's warming up; then we plug up the tub, set her inside, and let her play in the running water until the tub is full enough. If she hasn't stood up too much (this doesn't happen much anymore), she also gets to play with running water afterward, while we're giving her a final rinse and putting away her toys. She tolerates the scrubbing; when I've finished one foot she'll hold up the other. She still hates having her face cleaned, but she's learned to tilt her head back when we wash her hair, which has seriously cut down on the stress of that part of the bath. She stands up while we wash her bits, and then again when she's ready to get out; Eric lifts her out and puts her into the towel I've got waiting, and as I wrap her in it and sit down to begin the process of drying her off (a process that must happen quickly or it doesn't happen at all), I say "Say 'bye-bye, bath,'" and she says, "Bah-bah."
She's very good at tooth-brushing time now, too. She says "ahh" and opens her mouth wide, even for flossing. She has eleven teeth now--four incisors top and bottom in the front, one first molar on the bottom, and two first molars peeking in on the top. Afterwards I hold her up to the mirror and say "Say 'night-night, Chloë.'" She waves at her reflection and says, "Bah-bah."
She can climb both up and down stairs unaided now, though we insist on accompanying her, especially when she's going down, and anyway she prefers to hold onto one of our hands as well as to the wall or balustrade. She can tell when she's got socks without traction dots on and is more likely to ask to be carried when she's wearing them. She's gotten better about keeping her socks on, especially downstairs (where we insist), though she's now growing keener on taking off her pants and occasionally shirt. We're not sure whether it's a good thing it's winter or not.
We've spent this month mostly saying "What a big girl!" and "What a good helper!" She loves to help, she loves to talk, she loves to show off, she loves her life. And we love her.