Thursday, May 31, 2012

I laughed my head off

Chloë and I went out shopping Monday to get some fruit and other things. We decided to stop at Meijer for "Daddy's special drink" (cans of powdered Gatorade). Chloë needed to pee, so we stood inside the bathroom while she did so and I told her we'd change her in the car if there was a Pull-Up in the diaper bag. We bought the Gatorade (and looked at the fish in the pet section) and went back to the car, where Chloë reminded me hopefully to look for a Pull-Up. We had one, so I had her stand in the front seat to be wiped and changed. "When you're three, you're going to be too big to be changed like this," I muttered as I held the Easy-Up out so she could step into it. "Of course, when you're three you're not going to be changed at all. You'll be in underwear."

Chloë looked worried and I braced myself for a discussion about how she doesn't like using the potty. "But I will still be Chloë," she said.

I laughed and agreed, "You'll still be Chloë," and helped her into her carseat. When I got into my own seat I turned on the air conditioning and said, "Let's blow this popsicle stand!", expecting her to ask "what popsicle" or somesuch. Instead, she sucked in a breath and blew.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Status report: Maia, month 13

Oh my Maia, the walker. In just the past few days she's shifted from mostly crawling to mostly walking. It's still that funny, move-the-whole-leg-as-one-unit walk, but it won't be for long. I told her months ago that I'm allowed to call her a baby until she walks, but I changed my mind. I'm allowed to call her a baby until she can tell me to knock it off. Even if saying it doesn't make it true.

One of her books is Sandra Boynton's Moo, Baa, La La La, and I've noticed she especially likes the little dogs (they go ruff ruff ruff). We read Biscuit the other day and she pointed to Biscuit and panted like a dog. And I was delighted because that's exactly how Chloë used to identify dogs, and then to identify the noise they make. Ask her now and she says, "Dogs say wuff wuff." But Maia has taken up the mantle! I love it!

"Cheese" is definitely her first word. We may be working on "ball," but I'm not positive yet. I've asked her to say "up," but whenever I do she just raises her arms, which is "up," so I can't really argue.

She climbs stairs now--did I mention? She loves climbing the stairs. At first she was off like a shot whenever we forgot to put up the gate, but now she looks and waits for our approval before she climbs. She's much more adventurous than Chloë was at this age (or ever); she rocks the rocking horses hard, stands up on them, climbs up and down and around.

She's also gotten interested in her stuffed animals lately. There are a few in her crib, and the past few nights I've offered one to her. Sometimes she'll shake her head, and sometimes she'll accept it and hug it to her as I lay her down to sleep.

In just the last few days she's gone from a water baby to water-phobic and...probably...back again. She generally can't wait to get in the bath, but the last two baths she cried the entire time she was in the water. I vaguely recall a phase like this with Chloë, in which we got in the bath with her at least a couple of times to make things easier. I tried putting my feet in the water so she could hold onto me while I scrubbed her this last time, but it didn't help. Then, we went over to Nancy and Don's for Memorial Day, and Maia had her first barefoot-in-the-grass experience, and also her first splashing-in-the-water-table experience. Her bath yesterday went just fine. So we'll hope that was a momentary phase.

As mentioned, she didn't get to eat her birthday cake because she was sick; but Mom and Dad sent us an anniversary cake, and she had some of that instead. She enjoyed it. A lot.

On a different occasion we also gave her something chocolate. I forget what. Does it matter? She loved it. Not just a baby, I guess.

(We started her on using a spoon, but haven't been real serious about it. Second baby syndrome, I can see it.)

She likes playing with the diaper pail and in the garbage, though she doesn't like the yelling she gets once we notice. And she LOVES books. Loves them. A lot. With a lot of love. She points to them before, after, and during nursing. She loves to slide down from my lap, point to one, and wait for me to pull it out and hoist her back up. Sometimes I show them to her, as with her stuffed animals, and she'll either shake her head, grinning at her power, or make an interested noise and settle back in my arm, and I'll start to read. She screams when we say "enough" and put her to bed.

She's a funny, happy girl, on the move, and I think falling over that precipice of "good grief how can she learn so much so fast." She's definitely expressing her wants and preferences, and becoming all the time more independent, knowledgeable, dextrous, and capable. And beloved.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Status report: Chloë, Month 34

At just two months to go before her birthday, I sometimes forget that Chloë is still two. "I'm two!" she said the other day, in response to my idle question. "No you're not," I said scornfully, and then remembered that she was, and had to pretend that I'd been joking ("You're seventeen!") to save face. In front of my two-year-old.

But really. She speaks so well, except for Ss, and she remembers things, and makes up songs, and notices things I don't, and can be so eloquent on what she's feeling and thinking and wanting. Oh, the wanting. She's very good at demanding things. Also at saying "You don't tell me what to do." She's funny to listen to sometimes, when we tell her to, for example, put down the Swiffer and come put pajamas on, and she goes into this long explanation that doesn't explain anything: "But I have to. Because I, because I, because I don't, and I need the Swiffer, and I don't want to, I don't want pajamas, I want more naked time, and you don't tell me what to do, and Mama doesn't tell me what to do, and Maia doesn't tell me what. To. Do." 

She's definitely been getting more time-outs this month. I don't think it's an unreasonable amount, just a normal testing of boundaries, but it does take up some time. 

Also, the potty thing. Dude. We switched her to Easy-Ups, to see if getting away from her beloved diapers would help, but it doesn't seem to be the comfort of the diapers specifically that holds her in thrall; it's the not going in the potty. I've been getting her to sit on the potty at night, Easy-Up on, and was able to persuade her to do it bare-bottomed once, though only for a few seconds before she started crying. I swear we didn't tie her to a potty and beat her or anything. Why is this so traumatic for her?

And sleep continues to be our other big trial. She's still taking hours, sometimes, to fall asleep, and feels free to roam around her room as long as I don't catch her (the standing rule is that if she's out of bed, she doesn't get a story the next night). Half the time she ends up sleeping on the floor, like so:

If she's in a really ridiculous position, we'll move her; if not, we've been leaving her. She sometimes ends up in her bed come morning anyway. She doesn't like going down for a nap, either, but she definitely still needs it. Switching her to an afternoon nap may have been part of the problem, but it may also have been merely another symptom. This situation is still developing.

On to happier topics. She had her first real haircut this month, meaning anything other than my straight-across-the-front bang job. The hairstylist was marvelous. I'd been worried since Chloë has hated the head/hair part of baths forever, and consistently screams and wails when any bit of water gets in her face, but the hairstylist managed her perfectly, reassuring her and getting no water whatever in her face, and Chloë was perfectly behaved and even excited about having gotten through it without tears. (Also, the stylist mentioned that normally with the really little kids she doesn't shampoo them, just spritzes their hair with water in the chair. But Chloë didn't take the soft option!) She liked the especially-for-kids cape she got to wear:

She didn't get impatient while her hair was being cut, and kept as still as you could reasonably expect a toddler to do. Such a big girl. She went from this:

to this: 

and is utterly pleased by the seven seconds it now takes to comb her hair on bath night. I've now adopted part of the hairstylist's technique when rinsing Chloë's hair (the key is bringing the showerhead really close to her head), and we're doing a little better on baths now. 

As Eric noted recently, she's turned a corner on eating; now unless the food is meant to be eaten with hands, like pizza, she almost never requires more than a napkin after meals, and can handle her fork and spoon with aplomb. She's slowly learning to cut (we have a knife but have only brought it out once or twice, but she's doing okay with the fork edge) and has been practicing drinking from a big-girl cup at meals and at tooth-brushing, and doing excellently. Normally she doesn't like water, but she gulps it expertly and greedily at bedtime. Otherwise it's mainly her new favorite, mango juice.

She got a Dora compendium when Mom came for Maia's birthday, and we've read very little else with her ever since. "How about a tory from the book that Gwampa gave me," she would say, and we'd groan. Lately she's been willing to hear something else once in a while, but Dora still features heavily, both in bedtime reading and in my nightly oral story, and also shows up in pretend play once in a while. That girl gets around.

She continues to enjoy working in the garden and baking with me (she decided the other day that she wanted peanut butter cake with chocolate frosting for her birthday cake--birthdays are big lately too), and playing with her Duplos and train tracks, and eating Maia's yogurt melts. She delights in sharing food with Maia--especially so when it's a baby treat, such the melts or the "baby trail mix" I make out of Cheerios, puffs, melts, and dried apple bits, but she's also happy to share a bowl of Goldfish crackers or a string cheese. "We're sharing!" she announces, all pleased.

She's still a little skittish about cars and trucks in the road, and will say urgently "Hold my hand!" when we're getting out of the car in a parking lot, though that may just be her general sense of what the rules are. "No talking with your mouth full," she reminds me at dinner occasionally (sometimes when my mouth isn't full), and "No throwing," when I toss a toy off the table. She also enjoys telling her little sister the rules.

The park and bubbles are very big with her right now, as is (sigh) being "a princess," which mainly involves putting on her tiara and some jewelry and then maybe pretending her string of beads is a guitar or a horsey. Her exposure to princesses is mostly in Dora rescuing them (and in one of those stories, becoming one, but only for the purpose of rescuing her friend Boots), but she's obviously picked up that they're desirable things to be. Luckily she also still enjoys being an astronaut and a cowgirl (man, she rocks those horses hard), a bridge-builder and a shark. 

She's gotten through the "I don't like kisses" phase she was in a few weeks ago, which makes us happy. I told her "I love you," as I was hugging her good-night today and she said, "I love you too," matter-of-factly. I suppose it is very matter-of-fact, on both sides, but it's still a wonder and a joy, and so is she, even if she's also a trial sometimes. I'm probably a bit of a trial as a mommy sometimes. But we're getting through all right.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Say "tzhchshe" and smile

Maia walked twenty-one steps the night before last. She's getting more and more confident about being on her feet. Oh, my baby. Stretching toward toddlerhood. I think she's got a first word, too: "tzhchshe," which means, "cheese." We've also heard her say "dow" when being put in the tub (when we invariably say either "one two three, two three, down" or "up we go...down we go") and I was amused thinking that maybe I'd have one daughter with the first word "up" and the other with the first word "down," but I think "tzhchshe" may have beat it out. Eric doesn't think it counts because she also says it when we read her new mirror book page that says "The sun has a sunny smile...say cheese!" but I think all that means is that she recognizes the word.

Yesterday after I came home from work Eric went upstairs for a nap, and while I probably should have taken the girls outside, I was tired too and suffering from allergies and didn't feel like it. So instead we hung out inside and watched a couple of Dora episodes. And it felt so good: lounging on the couch, cool and resting after a long day and a warm car ride, Chloë beside me clutching her beloved mango juice, Maia lolling against my leg as she played with a plastic bowl and occasionally pointed to the TV. "This is so great!" I said. "We're going to do this same thing in ten years! We'll have popcorn and watch chick flicks."

Chloë asked "What is popcorn?" and I got derailed trying to explain, but I didn't lose that feeling of being intensely where I should be, where I wanted to be, happy. I don't have that feeling much. But I don't think I'm really going to have to wait ten years to have it again.

Friday, May 18, 2012

More conversations with Chloë

Chloë (pointing to a spot on the ceiling): Is that a spider?
Jenny: It might be. It's too small for me to tell.
Chloë: Maybe it's a jaguar.
Jenny: It's too small to be a jaguar.
Chloë: A baby jaguar.

Chloë: Want me to sing another song, Mama?
Jenny: Sure. Let's hear a song about Maia.
Chloë: Maia, mister sister, steals my drink, steals my drink, steals my drink, steals my drink!
Jenny (laughing): Now let's hear one about Daddy.
Chloë: Daddy steals my drink, steals--
Jenny: Daddy doesn't steal your drink, silly.
Chloë: Daddy puts me in time out, puts me in time out, puts me in time out, he's a hero!
Jenny: Now I want to hear one about me.
Chloë: Mommy steals, steals, steals, steals.
Jenny (resolving not to clean Chloë's plate after dinner anymore): I'm not so impressed by that one.

Chloë: My hot chocolate spilled!
Jenny (on the glider with Maia): Here. [throws rag] Wipe yourself up with this.
Chloë (doing so): It spilled on the floor too.
Jenny: Try to clean it up too. Press down on the hot chocolate spot.
Chloë: It's not working. I need a wipe.
Jenny: Okay, go get one.
Chloë: [gets a wipe, wipes] It's working!
Jenny: Very good.
Chloë: See, I'm scrubbing it. You can do it next time I spill hot chocolate. I'll show you how. You just scrub, like this.
Jenny: Thanks for telling me how it's done.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Miss Maia knows

Miss Maia knows things! She can point to her ears, her nose, her head, her mouth, her belly, her toes. And to yours. She might be able to point to Chloë's, but Chloë is too busy doing it herself.

Miss Maia knows when I say "Lie down for diaper change" to drop down onto the changing table and wriggle around until she's on her back. She raises her arms when told "Arms up!" and can pull loose pants off when told. Of course, she can do it when she hasn't been told, too.

Miss Maia has started screaming at night when we put her down. Bedtime used to be this lovely soft ritual: pajamas, nursing, a couple of books, tooth brushing, night-nights, and being put down in her crib with her aquarium on. Now she's cooperative right until we get through the night-nights. Then, suddenly, she's wriggling and pointing at the glider (which means either "milk" or "books") and squealing, and instead of lying down and looking up at her aquarium she sits up and screams in rage. I've been a little worried that I haven't had enough milk for her at bedtime, but we've offered bottles and sippies and water and it isn't that. She just doesn't want to sleep because there's too much other fun stuff to do instead. Apparently Chloë is already a bad influence.

She's still not quite walking, but she takes three or four steps at a time now, sometimes. We've been out in the backyard a lot the past couple of weeks to do yardwork, and Maia gets put in the (sandless) crab sandbox she got for her birthday, with a blanket and the singing refrigerator she also got for her birthday (not from us, be assured) and some other toys. Aside from eating the grass, she does quite well. I know she'd rather be out with us, but she seems content with her lot.

I call her "baby" more often than "Maia," the same way I call her sister "sweetie" and "Miss Girl" and "Miss Bear" more than "Chloë." Of course Maia also gets called Sweetie and Miss Girl and Miss Baby. Chloë has taken to saying, "Maia or me?" when we say things that might be ambiguous...or things that really aren't, like "Use two hands to hold your cup." But I wonder how long I'll be able to call her baby. I want to, even though I know the toddler phase will be better, partly because I don't feel like I've had enough of her at this stage yet. What a lovely, sweet, giddy, smart, funny baby she is. How much she knows. And how much her mama loves her. Miss Maia knows that too.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Conversations with Chloë

Chloë (awakening at 2 AM): Mama! Mama!
Jenny (hurrying to her door): Yes?
Chloë: I want to wear my green shorts in the morning.
Jenny: ...Okay. Go back to sleep.

Chloë: Mama, it's raining! Are you going to get wet?
Jenny (carrying three bags and a plate of conciliatory baked goods): Yes.
Chloë: Okay.

Jenny: You have a lot of nice Dora underwear. And pink, and white, and with polkadots.
Chloë: I like my polka dot underwear. You should get polka dot underwear too, Mama.
Jenny: Maybe I will.
Chloë: It would be biiiiiig.
Jenny: ...
Chloë: The polka dots would be small.

Chloë (awakening at 3 AM): Mama! Mama!
Jenny (hurrying to her door): Yes?
Chloë: I want you to tuck me back in.
Jenny: Go back to sleep.

Eric (as Maia is throwing food onto the floor for the third time): Maia Verity!
Chloë: Maia Verity. Maia Verity. Verity?
Jenny: Verity is Maia's middle name. Like your middle name is Leeja.
Chloë: What is your middle name?
Jenny: Actually, it's the same as yours. Leeja.
Chloë: Mommy Leeja.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Potty thoughts

The potty is back out. Sans stickers; Maia kept prying them up, and anyway that reward system is over. If we give Chloë stickers, we'll put her chart back up for them.

I told Chloë recently that we're starting to run out of diapers, and when we do we'll be switching her to Pull-Ups. (Actually Easy-Ups, the Pampers brand. They have Dora.) She seemed okay with it at the time, though she's asked every once in a while since whether we still have diapers. We're going to run out today. I also asked her whether we should bring the potty out, and she said yes, and even reminded me when I forgot to do it that night--though I don't think she's sat down on it yet. (Maia has. She gets a big grin whenever we help her on it. Then she stands up and tries to stick both feet in the hole.)

The only roadblock in the potty training path has been this reluctance to do without her diaper. She's got control; she doesn't like being messy; she's totally verbal. (Good gods is she verbal.) She recently had to pee in her diaper without a change at the grocery store, and she wasn't happy about it--to the point of not sitting down at the pharmacy, which she usually likes to do, because "I have a wet diaper." We drove out of town about half an hour last week to take family pictures, and on the way back Chloë announced she had to pee. "Well, we're not going to stop to find you a bathroom just to go in your diaper," I told her. "So you can just pee now in your chair, or you can wait until we get to the restaurant for dinner."

"How long will it be?" she asked. I said, "Several minutes," and she said, "I'll wait." And she did--fifteen minutes or more, until we arrived at Chili's and got into the bathroom and I closed the stall door. She now usually says "I have to pee," as soon as she gets up in the morning. She's been waking up dry from naps and usually in the morning (though she also had her first nighttime leak recently, due to her habit of taking a sippy of water with her to bed). The other morning she told me, "I kept the pee in my body all night!" Basically, she is potty trained...just without the potty part.

So the key--the only--question is, how do we get her away from her diaper and onto the potty? Mom suggests that maybe in the summer, when it's sweaty and hot, she'll be happier about removing the diaper. We're also going to try another end run, if it gets to that, by telling her that when she's three she has to wear underwear, period. But I hope we're not in Easy-Ups until then; they're expensive.

She told me this morning, "I used to wear Pull-Ups. But then it dripped ("dwipped"), so then I needed my diaper." I'm not sure if this is significant. In our last potty-training attempt, when she sat on the potty she always said, "The pee won't get into the potty," seeking confirmation. (She does that all the time. It's funny. "I can play train tracks after breakfast," she says anxiously, or "I can put my sockses on my bed. It's okay." The other night it was, "I'll need my sparkly shoes on for going outside to blow bubbles." Very sneaky, since what she really wanted was to be told we could go out and blow bubbles.) She hadn't seemed unduly upset the couple of times she had accidents when trying out underwear, but maybe they upset her more than I thought.

At any rate, her concern seems to be with leaks. Some advice we've read suggests that toddlers often think that pee is part of their bodies and they're anxious about losing it, but I'm not sure whether that's the case here or whether she just didn't like the yuckiness of the pee going everywhere. There's also an obvious need for the comfort of the familiar diaper. I wish we'd been able to get this done before Maia was born; I wonder if jealousy of Maia's baby status is part of the issue. But we've got what we've got. So she'll switch to Easy-Ups today, worries about leaks notwithstanding, and we'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Growing up and up

I saw Maia walk this weekend! She took a couple of crablike steps once to get to me, and then a couple of forward steps to go from Eric's hands to mine. Eric also saw the crab walk at a different time. She's also delighting in climbing the stairs, and in riding her rocking horse standing. She's been grinning all weekend. She's got a couple of days to go on her antibiotics and the remnants of a cough, but otherwise is very well. Whenever we hold her and start patting her back now she pats our backs a few times too. "It's okay Mom," she seems to be saying. "It's okay, Dad."

Chloë continues to have sleep troubles. In the last week I've gone in and seen her sleeping with her legs slung over the side of the bed, her trunk on the mattress; one leg in and one leg out of bed; with her legs under her pillow and her head on the blanket; facedown on the floor with one leg hooked over the chair. The other night I was talking to Dad on the phone about an hour after bedtime and she came out into the hall and called me. "Mama, did you say 'Chloë'?" she said. I said I had, and that I was talking to Grandpa. "Did you tell him that we went out into the garden and planted tomatoes?" she said. "No, I didn't," I said. "Go back to bed."

We did plant tomatoes, just in time for some torrential rain. I'd mentioned that I hoped it would rain so the tomatoes would get water, and that morning Chloë said, "The rain will be good for our plants to grow!" She has a great time digging around with the little spade she got for Easter, and continually asks me to dig for worms. When I find one, she accepts it in her hand with delight and coos at it for about three seconds. Then she puts it carefully down in the hole and asks me to find another one. I'm glad she treats them well but it's a pretty exhausting pastime.

We went to the farmer's market Saturday, and watched the river for a while. A couple of men were fishing on the dock there, and we got to watch one of them catch a big silvery panfish. Now Chloë wants to go fishing. I know both her grandpas would be delighted to take her, so I'm sure we can get her out fishing this summer.

They got a sandbox as a joint birthday present from Memaw and Omi, and Chloë has been asking every day when we're getting the sand. Maia is a bit young for it, but I'm contemplating bringing out the empty sandbox and putting it in the yard for them to play around in. They're enjoying it that way in the living room now, which is fine but doesn't leave a lot of room for things like walking. We also finally brought out a wooden train set that we got from Ikea over a year ago, and both girls love them--Chloë to build tracks and run the trains around on them, Maia to lift them up and chew them. "Maia Destroyer," Chloë laments whenever this happens (as our friends call their youngest). She also likes knocking down the towers and bridges and rocketships Chloë builds. Maybe they'll play more harmoniously as they get older.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dear Maia, year one

Darling Maia,

Happy first birthday! I'm really sorry you have pneumonia.

Last week you started coughing while nursing, which made me worry at first you had an allergy to codeine, since I'd just started Tylenol 3 because of a toothache. Then Friday, your birthday, it developed into a real cold, with a drippy nose and a fever. That night I noticed you were breathing fast when I put you down for bed. I'm sorry, sorry, sorry I didn't get more alarmed by it, or think to give you medication for the fever. I did tell your dad about it, who said he'd look it up. I went to bed. He woke me up at 1:45, saying, "I'm taking Maia to the ER." He'd checked your breathing and heartrate, which were both much too fast, and taken your temperature, about 102F, and the doctor had directed him to take you to the hospital. So you went. He had me hold you while he grabbed a last thing before leaving, and you were so lethargic and hot.

You got some ibuprofen and a chest x-ray there (your dad holding you, the film between his chest and yours, so that you wouldn't scream and writhe while they took it), and they diagnosed you with pneumonia. It was mild, as pneumonia goes; they didn't even give you breathing treatment, just a prescription for antibiotics and more ibuprofen and instructions to take you to the pediatrician in a couple of days. You were due for your one-year well-check anyway. Dr. Magoun was pleased with you overall (75th percentile for everything, developing just right) but found that the antibiotic wasn't working and you had an ear infection as well, so switched you to something different, and that's working better. You perked up as soon as we got the fever down, but now it stays down without the ibuprofen, which makes us all happier since you don't like having it injected down your throat. The last couple of times I've fed it to you very gradually, and that's worked better. But discontinuing it is better still.

That aside, your twelfth month and your first year have been wonderful. You're such a happy, explorative baby. I always intended not to compare you too much to your sister, and while I do it some, it really does feel like we're starting over with you. I kind of remember how Chloë was at this or that age, but mostly only by realizing how different or similar she was to you. Now you're my benchmark for three-month smiles, and six-months sitting, and seven-months crawling (sooner than your sister), and baby high-fives and kisses and trying to eat baby feet. I taught you "Kiss Mama," sometime in the last month or two, which instantly made your dad jealous, so now you also know "Kiss Daddy," and, kind of, "Kiss Chloë." Your one-year-old self is so smart. You point to the books or your new statue from Grandpa when you want them, and turn yourself around to slide down off the bed, and move off my legs when I'm getting up from the toilet, and understand things like "Arms up," and "Lie down," and "Milk?" and "No eyes!" This afternoon you and Chloë were at the window of our bedroom, and I heard you start to giggle intermittently. After a moment I peeked behind the curtain to find you tentatively poking your finger toward Chloë's eye and laughing when she was dodged. You both seemed to be enjoying the game, but I put a stop to it anyway. I love to hear your laugh, but maybe not at that potential price.

You love to laugh, much more so than your sister. Your very early months were a bit of a trial, especially the night colic. But as soon as you started emerging as a real person, with a real personality, I had a lot more fun with you--I think we all did. You like to be tickled, of course, and hung upside down, and to play peekaboo, and have raspberries blown on your belly; but you also like being jounced up and down while we make funny noises, or playing keepaway, or poking at my glasses after I've told you not to. You have a sunny smile that you bring out when I come into your room to get you after a nap, and when I come home from work at night, and when you catch sight of me unexpectedly. Sometimes it takes my breath away, my great good luck in being so beloved by you. I know, the whole giving-you-life thing gets me some brownie points, but still, I'm not always sure I deserve this.

You love your daddy too, and your sister. You're so pleased to see Chloë when I get you first and we go into her room together to get her or to wake her. You crawl all over her, and steal her drink and push her out of her own chair, because you like the things she has because they're hers. Recently you've started leaning over and kissing her hair, open-mouthed, at every opportunity, which she enjoys too. You love her hair. I keep telling you you'll have your own like that...eventually. (I think you've finally got as much now as she had at birth.) You two get along very well, all things considered, and I'm so glad. I look forward to the next year or two when you can really start to play together.

You've developed well, giving us pretty much no trouble this year other than the colic and some dramatic projectile pooping while on vacation, and maybe a bit on food. You weren't all that keen on solid foods for the first few months we introduced them, but you love them now. While you've been sick you've mainly been eating cheddar crunchies (baby Cheetos, basically), which I'm not excited about, but it's better than no food at all and you won't take baby food. Ordinarily you love bananas and oatmeal and Cheerios and apple bites and soft vegetables and pretty much everything else we'll let you try. You have been eating some cheese (you love cheese) and applesauce and, tonight, some strawberry, so that's good. So far you've been a pretty adventurous eater, and I'm hoping you'll stay that way into toddlerhood. Tuesdays when your dad goes out with his friends have always been "weird food nights," first for me and then for your sister and me, and I'm really looking forward to having girls' nights, just the three of us, eating all the good things your dad won't touch.

We're still nursing, which makes me happy, especially since we've gotten past the "mauling me" and "biting me" stages and have weathered the need for formula. When I first went back to work, you refused a bottle. I worried you would starve. We took a weekend and did bottle Boot Camp until you caved (being only nine weeks old) and started accepting the bottle. When, some seven months later, I faced the fact that I wasn't pumping enough to cover my work hours and was going crazy trying and had no frozen stash (thank you excess lipase issues) to draw from, I worried that we would buy formula and you'd refuse it and, being bigger and even stronger-willed now, starve. But you didn't. You took a half-and-half bottle without comment and didn't look back. I may have muttered, "Traitor," to myself once or twice, but I was glad, overall. Now you're on whole cow's milk, and formula to finish off that one container we bought, and a little milk I'm still pumping. But we nurse happily when I'm home. You don't have a real need for it anymore, and you never indicated that you were hungry the way Chloë did, by bouncing her mouth off my chest; you got generally irritable instead. But sometimes you'll point to my chest, or gently press your mouth to my shirt, and I get the message. I'm glad we still have this together. I'll be sorry when it goes. I could probably get you weaned onto a bottle pretty easily, but I'd rather not, not just yet. If you decide you're ready for that, I know you'll tell me. You're good at telling us what you want.

You're not quite walking, but you're so very close. Your dad, and your halmoni, have seen you take a few independent steps. I haven't. But I've seen you cruising with one hand held so lightly, and I've seen you standing for half a minute or more, bouncing a little, confident, strong. I was so sure you'd be walking before your birthday, but I guess you decided to take your time. You don't have any words yet, either, though I'm starting to wonder about those times you start to chant "Ma ma ma ma." Probably having "Mama" be your first word is too much to hope for. But you do sometimes look at me with intent when you're saying it. You've also fixed your gaze at my face and said earnestly, "Bah," and I've known you're telling me something, though I'm not sure what.

We had to cancel your party because of the pneumonia, but we still opened presents and had cake (I worked so hard on that darn thing; there HAD to be cake on your birthday). You didn't eat any, because you weren't eating anything, which made me sad--not that you didn't taste the cake I made, but that you weren't up to trying something I'm sure would have delighted you if you were well. Now that you're feeling better we'll try it again soon. You did enjoy your presents, especially the bouncy ball your sister picked out and the new chair Halmoni bought you. (Chloë loves that it folds out, and has so far used it more than you. You're still pushing her out of her chair, so I guess that's fair.) You pulled at the wrapping paper, and were intrigued by the prizes inside. You stared at the computer where we were doing a web call with family and I could see you thinking: "Moving picture. Nice faces. They're talking to me. They look familiar." You're still a baby, but you won't be for long. My wonderful girl.

You're a bright girl, a happy girl, an adventurous girl, and I'm so glad you're my daughter. I worried when I was pregnant with you that I wasn't going to love you as much as I do Chloë, no matter how other parents kept reassuring me I would. I didn't see how I could avoid having an internal competition between the two of you, and Chloë had the edge of being less care-intensive and more familiar. But it turns out that when you have a second child, she doesn't get some negotiated share of a compartment marked "parental love." She gets a new compartment all her own. You have a sister, but you still have all my love. I've had a baby before, but you are still the first you, still an amazement and a mystery and a happy surprise, even in familiar wrapping paper (someday you'll stop wearing everything your sister wore). And you get the advantage of a mama who's had a baby before, even if she doesn't apply everything she's learned (like: when the baby gets a fever, do something). I love the baby you've been and the toddler you'll be, and the family you've given us by being part of us. I love you, Miss Baby. Happy birthday.