two years and one month old

[photos for the last 6 months are 95% ready]

Dear Beatrice,

Until recently, our focus on watching your development has been to a large extent on seeing how your speech was coming along.  Now, though, you have a large vocabulary, you’re attempting to use the past tense (you said you “finded” something a few weeks ago, which I thought was impressive), and you understand and act on anything we say.

For example, about two weeks ago you found Baby Fox in your toybox in the living room and asked me where Mommy Fox was.  I said, “I don’t know–maybe Mommy Fox is in your tent in your bedroom. Do you want to go look for her?” You said yes and trotted upstairs, then reappeared shortly thereafter with Mommy Fox in tow.  I realized about 10 minutes later that upstairs was nearly pitch black and you happily did all of that on your own anyway.  Similarly, I asked you at bathtime to take your dirty clothes upstairs and put them in your laundry basket, which you happily did.

So I think your verbal abilities are well and truly established.  Now your development is more sophisticated: so, for example, speaking of Mommy and Baby Fox, sometimes you pretend that one or the other of them is crying for some reason, maybe because of a banged head, and so you fix it by making sure the crying party gets kisses.  You can sing your favorite songs pretty much in tune (these are Itsy Bitsy Spider, Twinkle Twinkle, Wind The Bobbin Up, and Baa Baa Black Sheep off the top of my head.) And you have learned to tell knock-knock jokes–well, almost.  You have one knock-knock joke and it goes like this:

Knock knock!
(Who’s there?)
A tiger!
(A tiger who?)
*ROAR!*

For tiger you occasionally substitute polar bear.  I believe you have also branched out into snake once or twice, and ticklemonster on occasion.

You’ve also got particularly good at memorizing books.  If I stop at any point in one of your favorites, you can almost always finish the line.  You can recite Aliens Love Underpants and Each Peach Pear Plum from beginning to end with very little prompting, if any.

AND . . . AND . . . you know the letter O!  Your drawing easel has a magnetic board on one side, and I have got you a load of magnetic letters.  You keep bringing them to me saying “what’s THIS? what’s THIS?”–and then out of nowhere you came up to me and said “Mommy, I got Os.” I looked, and sure enough you had three Os in your hand. 25 to go.

I measured you on your 2nd birthday to predict your height.  On your birthday itself you appeared to measure 34 inches tall, which apparently means you will be 5’8″.  If this is the case you will dwarf me.  However, I also measured you on the 2nd anniversary of your due date, and then you were 33 inches tall (predicting 5’6″).  I have to say that the latter seems more likely, but then again you have a possibility of inheriting height from Daddy’s side.  I hope you do–the world is made for tall people.

For your 2nd birthday your major presents were a shiny red Radio Flyer tricycle (you haven’t quite got the hang of pedalling yet) and a toy kitchen.  I also took you to the bike shop to let you pick out your own helmet.  Helpfully, you picked out a shiny red helmet–technically a boy’s helmet apparently, but I can’t blame you since the “girl” options were incredibly boring in comparison.  Yours is vaguely in the shape of a fireman’s hat and has a fireman badge on it, and you love it.  I haven’t told you that you must wear a helmet to ride your scooter, but you insist on it.  In fact, when a nice man passing you on the pavement asked if he could ride your scooter, you asked him “Where is your helmet?”  They must have taught you this at nursery!

Speaking of your scooter, you are more than happy to go on long scoots and walks these days, without getting toooo tired, unless the walk involves an uphill slope.  Now that you have the taller scooter handlebars, though, pulling you along is a lot easier, and I think the scooter will be a good option for transportation when the new baby comes, if we are going out at a time when you won’t need to nap.  You are excellent on your scooter; you always stop when I tell you to, and you are careful of pedestrians and of places where we need to cross the road.  I am proud of your scooting.

In general you are a careful and caring little girl, in fact. If I get up with bleary eyes in the morning and have a little yawn that makes my eyes water, you will study my face and assert that I am crying.  If I say that I am not crying, you say “Mommy is better.”  You ask “Is Mommy ok? Is Daddy ok? Is Daisy ok?”–and on Daisy, you are now entirely gentle with her, without having to be reminded.  At nursery they say that you are very good with the younger children who have just joined (at around a year old) and that you are friendly with older children who are new and haven’t yet made friends.  Indeed, when we take you in and pick you up, you are usually surrounded by a gaggle of children who apparently love spending time with you.

So you are good with younger children, but you really love spending time with older children.  At Christmas you had the most fantastic time with your cousin Francesca, who is nearly 4.  The two of you ran around with very little supervision needed; Francesca is a very sweet girl who likes looking after you, and you clearly admire her a great deal.

However, Francesca accidentally sparked a sort of mania in you–for ballet.  Since Christmas, you haven’t stopped doing ballet.  You dance on your tiptoes, put your hands over your head and turn around in circles, and lean forward and lift up one leg.  Also, you prefer to pick your own clothes now, and they have to be “ballet” clothes.  So you have ballet dresses and ballet tights, but you also have ballet jumpers and ballet trousers.  I have not yet been able to determine the precise quality of a given article of clothing that elevates it to “ballet” status, but you have some method, and you are quite clear about what does and what does not pass muster on the ballet front.

On the back of this, I have been looking for ballet classes for you to join, but in our area they don’t seem to start for little girls until age 3, nor do gymnastics classes.  Never fear, though–what you ARE going to start in April is football classes with Daddy.  You love football, and your balance and core muscles are really very good now, so we have signed you up with Kiddikicks.  I am hoping with all my might that there will be other little girls there, or that you will love it enough that even if it is all boys, that won’t put you off it.  You’re young enough now that you probably won’t notice, but I know that all changes very soon.

I’m coming to the end of my list of things I wanted to write regarding the past 3 months, and there are a few miscellaneous items left, as follows:  You now give proper kisses, with little pursed lips and a *smack* sound.  You enjoy sitting on your potty, but with very little actual result (we have seen success on each front once).  You now enjoy bathtime–even asking for baths–and I seem to have cracked whatever issue it was where you wouldn’t let me wash your hair for fear of water in your face, I guess through sheer persistence. I wouldn’t say that tantrums don’t exist for you now, but really-truly tantrumy tantrums are pretty rare.  You do generally get in an almighty grump once or twice a day, especially after waking up, but that’s fair enough, really–and it doesn’t take much to get you back on track.  And Daddy and I have gone on a little holiday before the baby comes, while you stayed with Grandma and Grandpa.  You had the best time with them, visiting animal parks and soft play and having long walks with Grandpa and Nelson and Uncle John, and you told Grandma that you were on holiday too.

Finally, you are about to experience a lot of change over the next few months.  Your key worker at nursery, the lovely, vibrant, friendly, loving Ruby, has left to start a new job, which is great for her but sad for us.  You are moving down from 4 days at nursery to 2, now that I am on maternity leave, and your little brother is going to join us on 22 April. And Daddy’s colleague and our friend James (who you call Uncle James!), who has been staying with us, is about to move out so that I can get the spare room ready as the baby’s nursery.  So there is a lot for you to adjust to, but I think you will be a little star about everything.  I personally am looking forward to the next two months where you and I get to spend a lot of time together.  I think we will have a lot of fun!

I love you,
Mommy

twenty-two months old

[PHOTOS TO FOLLOW!]

Dear Beatrice,

Three months have passed since I wrote to you last, bad mommy! I kept notes for you becoming 20 months, but I thought I was going to write to you at 21 months so I didn’t for then–and now we’re at 22, so I’d better get going before I find you are suddenly going off to university.

20 months
At 20 months you were starting to get really cute. I mean, you’ve always been cute, but you really started ratcheting it up. Your nursery must have been working on Please and Thank You with you, because we weren’t, at least not consistently, and then suddenly you were saying “TAE KEW!” when I would hand you a yoget. You also seemed to get suddenly competent at running, jumping, and riding your scooter, all of which I believe must have come from the wolf pack of older boys you seem to hang out with most at nursery.

When we sing Old McDonald with you, often we will pause and let you choose the animal, then sing the noise the animal makes together. You made a couple of jokes this month: namely following “And on that farm he had a . . .” with “Camel!” (that one stumping Daddy) and “Ice cream!” (that one stumping me). You knew you were making a joke, because you giggled at it both times. You’ve also started hiding things, then saying “Where did it go?!” while holding your palms up like “I don’t know!” You really are a confident little performer.

We’ve noticed your tantrums happen mainly when you are tired or hungry, so we try to anticipate those situations and keep them from getting too severe. This month you’ve really embraced the word NO, despite the fact that I have always tried to use words other than that to direct you elsewhere. NO has also been combined with your new “thank you” and often comes out “no THANK you” as if we have offered you something that offends your moral core.

You really like lying down, saying “good night!” and then pretending to sleep, complete with squeezed up eyes and a fake snore. Where did you get that?! Conversely, when you recently had to sleep in a travel cot at the end of Daddy’s bed, you got him up in the morning by tickling his feet and yelling “Wake up, Daddy!” Again, no idea where that came from.

This month we took you to France for a quiet family holiday. You loved the big house and the gigantic garden (and happily went very far without us, without even a second thought it seemed), and you really adored walking up and down the hedgerow stuffing yourself with blackberries. You were less keen on swimming, and you didn’t want to get in the pool without clutching me tightly, but every day you requested that we got into the water together, so something about it was interesting to you.

Finally, this month we finally saw you take an interest in puzzles, and also suddenly you could do them with very little guidance. Again, this is probably your nursery’s influence: at home, until now, you’ve not shown the slightest bit of interest in your puzzles, but suddenly in France you could do one that your Aunt Cecilia gave you.

21 and 22 months

For the past two months, we have watched your range of conversation and your terms of reference increase dramatically. You now speak in sentences, not just individual words. Your sentences go something like this:

“Beatrice hold it the yogurt.”
(in response to “Can Mommy have a bite of your cookie?”) “No, *mine* bite Beatrice cookie!”
“Mommy open the apple.”

So they’re not perfect (and you don’t only talk about food), but you’ve moved well beyond noun-based conversation.

Your language development also means you finally understand me a lot better than before. I can tell you about consequences: say you are throwing your toy on the bus floor for the fun of having me retrieve it. I can say to you “Beatrice, if you throw the toy on the floor, Mommy will take it away. Mommy doesn’t want to take it away, so don’t throw it.” And you don’t. Also, it seems the most effective discipline (say if you are pulling Daisy’s tail or hitting me in the face) is to tell you to say sorry. It really gets to you: you say sorry, you have a brief moment of upset, and you give me a big hug and stop whatever it is that you were doing.

You’ve somehow learned your shapes (I know that you know circle, triangle, square, rectangle, and I’d say thank you Mister Maker for that, except that you also know heart), and you have just started saying ALL your colors. (That video shows you also understand if I question the accuracy of something you have said. “IS it yellow?” “Noooo! It’s orange!”)

Your memory seems to be improving, in that you seem to know the lyrics and (roughly) the tunes of a lot of songs now, and you like talking about things you have done in the day, things you’ve recently read about or seen. You can also now recite entire passages from your favorite books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Each Peach Pear Plum, and Monkey Puzzle, and you can finish sentences throughout most of your other books too if I prompt you.

Favorite activities at the moment include helping with just about any task, from unloading the dishwasher to tidying up your toys, pretending things are different things (a bucket is your current favorite hat; yesterday you rolled up a piece of paper into a cylinder and thought it was hilarious to act like it was a cup), and cuddling, kissing, and playing with Daisy.

Over the last two months your tantrums have really decreased. I think this is down to your increased range of communication, but I know you are not 2 yet, so I fully expect to start to see more tantrums that are not based in a frustrated ability to tell me what you want, but instead annoyance that you I’m not letting you have what you want (for example, like the big tantrum you had the other day when I wouldn’t let you sleep in your extremely hot fleece dressing gown). You also don’t want to share anything (even Daddy gets the evil eye when he dares to touch your favorite chair), so I suspect you’re not going to cope well with having to share Mommy, Daddy, and all your toys with your new brother or sister, who is coming at the end of April next year.

I love you,
Mommy

nineteen months old

Dear Beatrice,

2013-08-04 15.49.17You are 19 months old! Your little personality has developed enormously in the last month. Now you and I can have conversations like this one:

YOU: [brandishing a sticky spoon] Yoget!
ME: Yes, you are enjoying your yogurt, aren’t you?
YOU: More?
ME: You want more yogurt?
YOU: More yoget.
ME: Ok, Mommy will go get you more yogurt.
YOU: Yeah. More yoget. HUG!

That last part where you demand a hug isn’t really you asking for a hug, though. You are telling me that you know I am going to go downstairs, you don’t want me to leave you alone while I go, and you want me to carry you as we go. Right now you want a “hug” a lot–this means I have to do a lot of things (like picking up the milk from the doorstep in the morning, carrying it downstairs, opening it, finding a cup for you, and getting your cereal ready) entirely one-handed with you on my hip.

See also:
[Daddy leaves the room]
YOU: [runs to follow] Daddy pee pee! [rattles the handle of the bathroom door]

2013-07-24 16.08.55You still really don’t like people leaving the room. When there are two of us we can usually distract you, but if I am alone with you and need to leave you to get something done, like prepare your dinner while you are in the playroom, there is still a lot of wailing. Fortunately, though, you don’t do that for naptime and bedtime, and I can often head it off if I put on some children’s music.

As mentioned above, you are putting more than one word together now, often really successfully. Daddy and I heard you say “You doing that?” after I had asked him to feed the cat and he had obliged while I was carrying you downstairs. That was a complicated sentence, but I think it’s related to my saying to you “What are you doing?” quite a lot. I am not sure you really understand pronouns and deixis. But I guess you have to learn sometime–so maybe you do, more than I would think.

B and LegoThis month has been quite hard with regard to teething: three of your four canine teeth came through, and the fourth one really should have been through by now (I can feel it under the gum) but it hasn’t quite emerged. I think it has been painful for you; we do get a lot of random crying and your hand shoved entirely in your mouth. Once that last canine is through, you will be lacking only your backmost molars, and my hope for those is that you will be a little older before they start bothering you.

We have seen a lot more tantrums this month, again related to your increasing sense of self-determination moving slightly faster than your ability to tell us what you want. For example, you are desperate to drink from the rim of a cup rather than from a sippy cup (and you are reasonably good at it with close supervision). This means my preparing and giving you your milk as normal can result (and has resulted) in an instantaneous tantrum without my having any clue what I’ve done wrong. Come to think of it, I’m not really sure how I managed to work that one out. But I do try to listen to what you’re asking for, and I’m pretty good at working it out (I think).

2013-08-03 08.23.12I always thought the hard part of having a child who doesn’t yet have much language would be not being able to understand what it is you want. But the problem really is that I can’t make you understand why you can’t have something you want, if that is the case. I can’t make you understand that I just need to put you down for a brief moment while I pick up the chair that you’ve asked me to move, and that I can’t do it while holding you. In those moments, I can’t win.

Your favorite thing–well, you have a lot of those. Yoget, and singing, and hugs are all up there. This month you have become obsessed with plums and nectarines, and you would eat them at every meal if I could stand the diapers. But I think the thing you like most of all is moving around.

2013-07-28 10.37.19You love see-saws especially, and when there is no see-saw available, the next best thing is to sit on Daddy’s foot while he is sitting on the sofa, and to let him do leg lifts in the air with you on his foot as you chant “see saw! see saw!” until his leg gets tired (then you sit on the other foot). You have a scooter and you can actually use it a little bit. You never tire of dancing with Daddy in the kitchen. You love getting out of your buggy and walking alongside it, though I make you hold onto it (otherwise you do have a habit of running ahead). When we go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house you run around their whole garden playing football–and I may have said this before, but you are surprisingly good at kicking and throwing a ball already. Daddy’s family is quite sporty, and I think you have inherited a lot of that.

2013-07-24 15.55.41Other miscellaneous news: I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but you are now entirely competent at feeding yourself, and you don’t really let us feed you at all nowadays (unless it is something you find utterly delicious but can’t shovel into your mouth as fast as you would like). Your main tools are spoons and your hands, though you can use a fork. Also, you had your first real cup of tea this month and pronounced it “yummy.” (I made it with the teabag I had used for my own cup of tea, which I dunked only briefly and topped up with lots of milk, but now I have bought some decaf teabags, which I will use if you ask for it again.)

I love you,
Mommy

eighteen months old

Dear Beatrice,

2013-05-27 16.27.50When you are an adult, a week or a month or a year doesn’t really make all that much difference to the way that you are. I would be lucky to have any sort of personal development in any given 6 months. By extension, then, I know that writing to you monthly about the ways you have changed will eventually no longer be appropriate.

When you were 16.5 months old, I hadn’t yet written a single note regarding a change in your development. You still seemed much the same as you had for the few weeks before, so I thought maybe monthly changes were at an end, as I knew they would be one day. “I’ll write to her at 18 months, then,” I thought.

2013-06-04 17.23.19This was the wrong choice. Just as you were on the cusp of turning 17 months, when I had decided not to take notes, everything started happening at once. At 16 months you enjoyed toddling around and you were frustrated at not being able to say much. It was the same two weeks later. But then suddenly at 17 months you repeated anything you heard, and now at 18 months you say over 100 words on your own*, either correctly identified without prompting in pictures, or spontaneously in your environment.

2013-06-06 10.32.22Relatedly, you sing. You started right at 17 months; now you do it all the time. You sing Twinkle Twinkle, the alphabet song, Row Row Row Your Boat, Wind The Bobbin Up, parts of Wheels on the Bus, parts of Old Macdonald, and probably more.

At 16 months I wouldn’t have said you had much interest in numbers or counting, though naturally I did count things in front of you because that’s just what mommies do; I wasn’t thinking about it too much. At 17 months you were making “counting” intonation noises along with me. At 18 months you count to 13, on your own, as you walk up the steps on your own. (Here is a video of you counting to 10 along with me. Even then, just the other day, I thought you didn’t know what you were doing, but it is becoming increasingly obvious that you do.)

2013-06-15 17.54.58Speaking of steps: at 16 months you were still getting your feet. Now you walk up the steps on your own, standing upright (though you still must hold my hand or the spindles on the staircase). You don’t crawl up steps any longer. You also want to walk down the steps, but you really aren’t able to do that, even when you hold on to me. You think you can, though, which is probably my biggest fright right now.

You also like running, which often involves going flying and then doing a bit of crying. Your legs are never free of bruises now. I am not sure how much I am supposed to protect you from yourself (apart from the aforementioned stairs, of course). When you stay more or less in one place, you’re still not still: one of your favorite activities is opening, shutting, taking out, putting in, making a mess, tidying up. You are an unbelievably active child.

2013-05-23 18.09.17What Daddy and I have noticed the most with all of this is your personality becoming more and more well-defined. You can and do tell us what you want and what you are thinking about. A lot of the time you seem to be thinking about us. You come up to me and demand hugs and kisses. You seem extremely happy.

You are enormously personable, and the shyness you appeared to be developing seems to be dropping away again. A few days ago we took you to a barbecue where there were no other children, but there were two dogs. You cuddled the dogs, walked around charming people, sang songs, made animal noises, and were generally a complete delight, continuing well past your bedtime. At nursery they keep telling me what a lovely little girl you are, and recently they have started saying you have a brilliant sense of humor, and that you laugh long and loud at things you find funny. They say you never cry there. (You most assuredly do a normal amount of whinging at home.)

2013-07-06 10.13.07Finally, I swear I didn’t do this to you, at least not on purpose, but you often won’t leave a room unless you have a hat, a bag, and your shoes. It is astonishing. Aren’t toddlers supposed to be hat-shy? On the other hand, though, you’re obsessed with spotting cars (fairly easy pickings, to be sure), you love trains, and there’s not a lot better in your eyes than kicking a ball around. So I think your influences are currently still well-balanced.

I would say you have probably changed more in the past 6 weeks than in months 13-16. It is truly amazing. We are so proud of you, and really in awe of everything you have mastered all at once.

I love you,
Mommy

2013-06-04 17.44.49 *We have attempted to make a list of the words you know. Here are 108 of them, dumped on the page at random; I am positive that there are words we have forgotten. Fingers crossed (but no promises) there are no duplications. You may be closer to 120 words or even more. I have included a couple of utterances that aren’t really words, like uh-oh, because they have meaning. Oddly, there are some words you’d think you’d say, like arm, leg, and horse, but you don’t say them spontaneously, so they’re not in this list.

Duck
Car
Cat
Dog
Bird
Swan
Owl
Milk
Mommy
Daddy
Tree
2013-06-24 18.46.49Butterfly
Ball
House
Train
Pig
Cow
Sheep
Boat
Chair
Outside
Shoes
Nose
Eyes
Mouth
Head
Ear
Cup
Water
Tea
Teapot
Brush
Watch
Fox
Bed
Jump
Up
Down
2013-05-29 15.38.28Back
Blocks
Trousers
Hands
Socks
Zebra
Elephant
Monkey
Bear
Rabbit
Tummy
Fish
Cereal
Banana
Fruit
Hat
Kiss
Cuddle
Hug
Ice cream
Keys
Moon
Sun
Star
Flower
Yogurt
Button
Book
Sleep
Wolf
2013-06-02 14.42.46Daisy
Hot
No
Yeah
Strawberry
Step
Pretty
More
Uh-oh
Bag
Yummy
Gentle
Necklace
Sit
Muzzie [muslin]
Bite
Quiche
Hello
Bye-bye
Snake
Go
Sky
Toast
Bat
Foot
Peepo
Cheese
2013-05-25 16.20.17Walk
Toes
Glasses
Blueberries
“High Five”
Tickle
Elmo
Knee
Toes
Santa
Squirrel
Teeth
“Stick Man” (thank you Julia Donaldson)

sixteen months old

Dear Beatrice,

2013-04-16 12.25.36Congratulations on being 16 months old! I would say one of the major themes for this month has been “frustration.” I suspect and hope there is some sort of language explosion about to happen, but without words you have still developed all kinds of signals that tell me you are frustrated about something.

The first sign was when you started throwing things in anger (then sometimes picking them up just to throw them again!). Daddy and I can see you scanning your immediate area for a likely candidate for throwing, then the deliberation with which you grab it; it’s a very grown-up thing to do and, unfortunately, very funny, though we try not to dismiss your feelings by laughing at you. Then came the advent of the full-blown proper tantrum, where you throw yourself to the ground, roll around, and wail. Then, while we were away on holiday, you started banging your head on the walls or floor (never very hard!) and biting me on the backs of my legs if I wasn’t giving you 100% attention constantly–but the banging and biting seems to be part of a specific kind of frustration related to boredom, so I think I can keep them at bay.

2013-05-05 16.33.36The thing about biting, though, is that Daddy and I are pretty sure it’s not always because you are frustrated or angry. It’s very close to kissing, and sometimes you lean in toward my face, then say “bite!” and nip my lips or cheek, sometimes while pinching my face, when in fact I think you intend for both the pinch and the bite to be nice. It is also a thing you can both do and name–most of your words up to now have been nouns, so I think things like “bite” and “walk” are both exciting concepts to you.

But to return to a point up there: yes, we went on holiday this month. You visited your Granny Cloahe and Granny Cathy in Arkansas for a week (where you also saw Auntie Kim and your BFF Eleanor), and then we met your Gran (who you called Nana) in Destin, Florida, for the next week. You did extremely well on the airplanes. Going out, you charmed everyone around you. There was a young man of about 25 sitting across from us who said you were the cutest child he had ever seen, and one of the flight attendants came and sat with you in the floor (we were on the bulkhead) and played with you for a long time. Coming back, you again charmed everyone around you–that is, except for the slightly unfortunate half hour where you screamed uncontrollably because you couldn’t get to sleep. After that, though, you slept and then woke up happy, so I think all was forgiven.

2013-04-21 16.28.02During the holiday you got on well with all your grandmothers and the new people you got to meet, and you seemed content. Everything was low-key in Arkansas, so all you needed to do was run around outside on the grass, eat at regular intervals, play with all of my old toys, and sleep, and you managed all of that pretty well–though you did end up sleeping with Mommy and Daddy every single night, because you kept waking at 2am due to jetlag, seeing us in the same room, and insisting on crawling in with us.

2013-04-14 13.40.47In Florida you had your own bedroom, where you slept very well, and we had a huge suite to run around and play in, PLUS a pool that was perfect for you, PLUS a private beach connected with our hotel. We went to the beach one day. It was beautiful. The only problem was . . . you apparently hate sand. We put you down to walk on the sand and you wailed. Then unfortunately you then plopped down to sit in the sand, whereupon you lifted your hands and feet up and balanced on your bottom as if to say “GET THIS STUFF OFF ME!” We put you on a towel then (which effectively imprisoned you), and you were ok then as long as at least one of us sat next to you (and you enjoyed watching us make sand castles). You loved paddling in the sea, but unfortunately that also involves walking on sand, so you kept alternately shrieking with delight and dismay. By the time we left, everyone else around us had cleared out and you started laughing. Was that your plan all along? to make the private beach truly private?

2013-05-05 17.32.54By the time we left Florida, you looked a little battered, with a skinned knee, bruised shins, a skinned elbow, a blister on your foot, and a small graze on your back. I hadn’t considered what the combination of a toddler who has just learned to run but is wearing shorts, short sleeves, and new sandals might mean. None of these things seem to bother you, but they do bother me! But at least you are finally starting to get some hair, which does improve the overall look.

This month you have also started pointing decisively at things that aren’t in books. You’ve been pointing things out for a while, but I was beginning to think you would never point to actual stuff in the world (I was imagining it was out of politeness, of course). I think your favorite thing to do is to point at whatever I am eating and say “What’s THAT?” Naturally I always end up giving at least a little bit of it to you. It’s usually something you shouldn’t really have (and by extension neither should I!).

2013-04-13 14.17.55Speaking of pointing at things, you also now happily show the world your belly when we ask you where it is, and you bend over and touch your toes when I ask where they are. You’ve had your head, ears, eyes, nose, and mouth down for a while. Maybe by this time next month you’ll know your philtrum, gnathion, and opisthenar?!

The best and funniest thing you have started doing is announcing a decisive and enthusiastic “YEAH!” in answer to most questions. (You’re still not in love with “no” yet.)
“Beatrice, do you want a banana?” “YEAH!”
“Do you want to get your nappy changed?” “YEAH!”
“Do you want to go for a nap?” “YEAH!” *runs to the door, then crawls up the stairs to the bedroom*

2013-05-05 18.21.20That last part is absolutely true. At the moment you are more than happy to go to bed at naptime/bedtime and you know exactly where to go to get there. I’ve never seen anything quite like it and I am just enjoying it while it lasts.

Daddy and I are enjoying our little toddler, and I think we are meeting your growing demands for playing, running around outside, and reading. Fingers crossed for a dry and warm summer, and also for our garden to get sorted out soon.

I love you,
Mommy

PS This post features your friend Alice at the beginning and your friend Rafu at the end. You and Rafu spend most of your time together chasing each other and kissing.

fifteen months old

As I write this, you are actually 16 months and 2 days old. I am going to write the 16 month letter directly afterward! But never fear, I keep good notes about what you do from day to day.

2013-04-03 13.22.32Dear Beatrice,

You are 15 months old! This month you have had your biggest teething challenge yet: all four of your front molars emerged at once. This wasn’t much fun for you, though fortunately we didn’t suffer with much sleeplessness thanks to Calpol. In the day, though, you have been grumpy and crying randomly, and directly after you started crying one time, I saw that the gum above one molar was bleeding a little bit. So I think it has been a painful time for you, poor thing.

2013-04-02 15.10.27You have decided to set yourself some physical challenges this month, such as walking backward and walking around with a muslin over your head (which sometimes you wear like a hat–hats being another new obsession for you). I’ve been surprised at how good you are at both of those things. Sometimes you still crawl (especially right after you have crawled up or down some stairs), but if I say to you “stand up and walk for Mommy” you do it straight away. You also say “Walk! Walk!” when you are walking and when I put your shoes on you. (Speaking of shoes, you are in your second pair already!)

B in her Easter fascinator and new 60s-style dress.You enjoy dancing, and I know you know the word “dance” because you will dance on command. You really enjoy the Sleeping Bunnies game, which you must have learned at nursery. You also appeared to do an accidental front somersault this month, but I think what must have happened (as I only saw the first part out of the corner of my eye) was that you were doing your usual downward dog yoga pose, you decided to walk forward a little too far, and you fell over your own shoulder. You looked a little surprised afterward and you didn’t try to repeat it.

2013-03-29 11.14.44Your language ability is growing to the point that it now seems impossible to document which new words you are saying. Part of this is because you repeat most things we say to you, but it is hard to know how many of the things you repeat will become new words that you will actually say on your own later. For example, you repeat “shoes” after me a lot, but you never say it on your own, whereas I said “cereal bar” to you probably once, but you now know the term and request a “cece bot” when sitting down in your high chair. But words you have definitely added this month include “book!” (usually shouted while thrusting a book at me to get me to read it to you), “bubbles,” and “cuddle.” You can say “no” and shake your head, but you don’t really say it a lot (yet?!). You have also FINALLY learned how to say “meow” for a cat (even though “cat” was your first word and you did animal noises shortly thereafter).

2013-04-04 13.50.54I’m not sure if it is possible for you to make jokes yet, but you have started telling Daddy that cows say “baa”–but in front of other people you say cows say “moo.” I think you must have got it wrong one day and enjoyed Daddy’s reaction. Now we make a game of it, but I do worry that you are going to start really believing that cows say “baa.”

This month we have also seen a big improvement in your separation anxiety. While you still don’t like it if we get up and leave the room suddenly, you can usually be distracted if one of us is remains in the room with you, and if we do leave you alone in your playroom (which is in sight of the kitchen), you don’t have the same hysterical reaction that you have been having that made it impossible to get anything done. Perhaps relatedly, you have also let go of your attachment to your pacifier, and you have slept for a couple of weeks without it at all, which pleases both Daddy and me very much.

19 March 2013In short, it’s been a fun month, with lots of laughter and lots of running around! I am looking forward to the end of the long cold winter, because I think you will really love going wild in the park.

I love you,
Mommy

fourteen months old

Dear Beatrice,

[I wrote this two weeks ago and I had even uploaded photos. I just didn't put them together until today. Oops.]

fpu_tmp_1363735569.7581_8bce43This month has been a really big one for you. Your major achievement is . . . walking! After hesitantly holding on to things in order to walk, you started taking more and more steps before plopping down onto your bottom. Then, one day, I pulled your walker ahead of you as you chased after it, giggling, for SIXTEEN steps in a row. After that, you were unstoppable. Now you do all the walking, all the time. Sadly, your first pair of shoes is not nearly as adorable as I hoped, but you needed some right away, and the ones you got were the only pair in the shop that fit you.

fpu_tmp_1363734775.2491_8a749eYou have also decided to do a lot more . . . talking! Well, talking in the sense that you are happy to repeat anything we say to you, even though you don’t know what it means. I got both you and me laughing our heads off by convincing you to say “Oh dear!” in a very mournful tone of voice. But you also happily repeated a new word, “watch,” while holding on to my watch, and it seemed to become a new vocabulary word for you straight away, since you now say “oooo-ATCH!” every time you see it.

Your other new words include button, water, milk, walk, and head, and you have now expanded your understanding of “star” in that you can identify stars in books and on clothing.

fpu_tmp_1363734821.1536_9f6253You also say “back” all the time, which to you means “I want to get down.” This comes from the way Daddy and I have taught you to crawl off the sofa: I always say “You must go backward!”–and now any action of getting down from something is “back!” to you.

Going to nursery seems to be further developing skills we have introduced at home but which we haven’t particularly pushed you to do. For example, you now happily put rings on and off the stacker. You’ve had the stacker for ages, but you’ve never been all that interested, and I haven’t insisted that you play with it, but one day I looked over and you were stacking and unstacking like it is your favorite activity in the world.

fpu_tmp_1363734883.9903_b6c6dcYou now also stack blocks like a maniac (your record is 5) and, best of all, you now love to put things away. This is welcome after your previous preference for throwing them everywhere, and I thank your nursery for teaching you!

You are also getting better at hand motions for songs like Wheels On The Bus, Itsy Bitsy Spider, If You’re Happy And You Know It, and so on. I think this is because you are at nursery on Fridays, and they have a set weekly program where Fridays are music days. I wonder what you would be doing if you went on a day with a different focus. If you were always there for Theatre day, would you be performing Hedda Gabler ceaselessly? Time will tell, if we ever extend your nursery hours.

fpu_tmp_1363735951.6504_d9b133The hardest thing at the moment is that you still suffer from huge separation anxiety if Daddy or I leave the room. You don’t have any problem with being dropped off at nursery, though. This has been going on for such a long time. I remember hoping that nursery would help you get over your separation anxiety–but while it hasn’t made it worse, it hasn’t helped either. I think you are simply a very social person, and you don’t want to be left alone. So nursery is fine because you are getting dropped into a room full of kids and adults you enjoy spending time with, but staying in your baby-safe playroom full of toys and books is no good even though you can still see Mommy or Daddy in the kitchen next door.

Tea with Edward BearBut you also do so many nice things now: you blow kisses, in a big theatrical way. MMMMM-WAH! you say, as you throw your arm wide. You also grab your toy hairbrush and give everyone including yourself a good grooming (not that you have much hair, still).

But the best thing by far is that you now bring me or Daddy books when you want us to read to you. Fortunately you currently seem happy to bring us a variety of books (not just The Gruffalo over and over, though I am sure you would be happy with that) and after 5 or 6 you are happy to go and play with something else. You also love tea parties, saying “tea,” and going around “drinking tea”–I guess I did have an English baby after all.

This has been a really exciting month for Mommy and Daddy watching you learn and grow. We are so proud of you! (Especially Daddy, with all that tea!)

I love you,
Mommy

thirteen months old

Dear Beatrice,

fpu_tmp_1362528009.4793_1576fbOh dear! I’m starting this letter at nearly 11pm on the 5th of March–in just over an hour you will be fourteen months old, not thirteen! This makes me officially the latest I have ever been with a letter to you. So I’d better get going.

Let me cast my mind back to 28 days ago (curse you, February, you short month). Aha, here we are. Yes, my little thirteen-month-old, you have continued down your course of amazing change and growth. Tooth number 8 has come through: your final baby incisor. I get the feeling you are getting a molar too, but nothing has poked out yet.

fpu_tmp_1362528052.7638_8459e7Physically, that has been the biggest change, and of course that is not very big. But you have made enormous changes in what you actually, you know, DO now. So, for example, you started stacking blocks this month (in the sense that you made a stack of two, once, before knocking it down–but according to Mumsnet, I’m sure it counts). You’re also interested in putting wooden puzzles together as long as I give you plenty of prompting and applause. You’ll brush my teeth when I am brushing yours–in fact, that’s usually the only way to get you to let me.

fpu_tmp_1362528966.7537_de1656Your grandma and grandpa taught you how to point to your nose, ears, head, eyes, and mouth, which you love to do–and you understand when I say “be gentle” as you’re pointing to/poking MY eyes. (I used to say “gentle” to you while stroking your hair; now if I say “gentle” you stroke my hair!). You’re very chattery and have added cheese, bye, star, and biscuit to your vocabulary.

You now always consistently wave for hello, goodbye, and goodnight, and you have started doing the star motions for Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and most of the motions for The Wheels on the Bus. I think you have been doing some learning at nursery–

fpu_tmp_1362528781.8917_188843–and that’s right! You have been attending nursery two days a week since the middle of January. You really love it; you’re never sad when Daddy or I say goodbye, and you’re always in a good mood when I pick you up. As of your thirteen-month birthday, I haven’t yet started back to work, so we have settled you in gradually, and that approach seems to have worked well.

At nursery you are also getting into some activities that I don’t do with you at home, like painting and really messy play. I have been given your very first painting, which is so precisely done that I suspect you might have been given some guidance.

fpu_tmp_1362528069.284_5da6edAnother good thing that must have come from nursery is that you are competently using both a spoon and a fork now. I do give you spoons and forks at home, but I haven’t really pushed you to learn how to use them. Imagine my surprise when you speared a bit of chicken and raised it to your lips like you were sitting in Gordon Ramsay’s. Your spoon work is still a little messy, but I encourage you to get on with it if the food in question is thick enough to stick to the spoon.

You’ve decided it’s time to think about walking, but you are being ever so cautious, which is not like you (as I will shortly discuss). For a long time now you have been cruising enthusiastically around all the furniture, and you are more than happy to push a walker around, and you’ll walk holding on to our fingers, but we have only just seen you take your first tentative steps without support. Your record this month is 6 independent steps. We know you can walk; we’re just not sure when you’re going to decide to let go of everything and do it properly.

fpu_tmp_1362528026.0955_e9dd96So, caution is your by-word, right? Not so much. This month you had your first (I’m hoping only) emergency room visit. This came about after you decided to wiggle out of the lap restraints on your high chair, stand up, and stand on the tray, all while I was right next to you but just not looking in your direction. When I did look, I made the mistake of gasping, which frightened you, and you fell right on your bottom. I panicked and called the emergency services; they said to keep you still, but of course the moment I was off the phone with them you were running around like a lunatic with your walker as usual. Even though they were sure you were ok, they recommended that we go see the doctor in the emergency room. Fortunately we didn’t have much of a wait and you were pronounced absolutely fine. I have now switched to a more secure high chair!

fpu_tmp_1362529818.0149_f764efI am starting to see the beginnings of what tantrums might look like from you, but fortunately you are still easily distracted and generally very happy, so even when you do have grumpy moments (and I won’t pretend you don’t!), they’re only a small part of our day together.

All in all, you really are my proper little toddler now, and even though this new phase is daunting, I think we’ll both be fine. The women who look after you at nursery say that you are so lovely, which just confirms what I already know and tell you all the time: you are a good, good girl.

I love you,
Mommy

P.S. That last photo isn’t very good, but it is you taking your first tube journey!

one year old

Dear Beatrice,

Beatrice's birthday at homeHappy toddlerhood! The fact that you are not quite walking yet is irrelevant, as far as I understand it–you are now one year old; therefore you are a toddler. You have changed, and in celebration of that, this website has changed too. I hope anyone reading it isn’t too perturbed!

This time last year you emerged into the world after 13 hours of labor and one emergency C-section. You were a fairly serene little baby, all things considered, and that has how you have remained. You were a good sleeper and a good eater from the beginning, which is more than a first-time mother can ask for.

I’ve tried to keep up with the enormous change you’ve undergone in the past year, and I feel like (late letters notwithstanding) I’ve captured most of it reasonably well. So let us continue in that effort!

fpu_tmp_1357681448.6338_7a3324This month has found you moving more consistently to having only one nap per day. My darling, one year is very early for a baby to make this change! Are you sure you don’t want to keep having two naps? It does make it easier for Mommy to have a shower at a reasonable time when you have an after-breakfast snooze–especially since your horrendous separation anxiety doesn’t allow me to leave any room you are in, even if you can see me, and even if I am just the other side of the baby gate.

When you can stand more solidly, perhaps I can consider taking you into the shower with me? I don’t know how most people make these things work. So far it seems to work in that I don’t have a shower until after your lunchtime–not entirely sustainable!

fpu_tmp_1357681693.7125_def4e9Speaking of standing, though, you now can stand unsupported for several seconds, and you have even taken two independent steps. You would think that such caution in walking would mean you are generally cautious–but no. You are a daredevil climber, and you can now climb up on the sofa in your playroom, but you don’t really understand how to get down without, you know, falling. I keep trying to get you to climb off backward. I am sure you will eventually understand, one way or another.

fpu_tmp_1357681781.7775_677c7eYou’re still seven-toothed, so you and I have been at least spared the pain of teething during all the other changes you’ve been experiencing. Your new word this month is banana (pronounced “badada,” but definitely in context, and you said it when I was listening to a radio program about bananas!), and I know when you are saying “blueberry” even if it does come out “baubau”. Your animal noises have grown to include a BROOT for an elephant, and at last you say woof for a dog. Daddy has taught you to raise your arms over your head when you roar like a lion, and your roar is remarkably enthusiastic. You also think it is hilarious to do melodramatic fake sneezes.

fpu_tmp_1357681318.6124_8acc94You now wave one-handed (this has taken a lot of prompting, as you previously only employed the two-handed effort), you hold toy and real telephones to your ear, and you have learned to drink from a straw! You also can identify your ear consistently, and you’re reasonably good at finding your nose.

Daddy and I have noticed that you have a tremendous amount of energy now, but you have a nice big playroom (complete with a ball pit, a gift from your Gran for your first Christmas), which gives you lots of opportunity to exhaust yourself. And your first Christmas was indeed a happy one–you got far too many presents, and you got to meet Santa Claus and visit his grotto at Westfield. Santa said he could tell you were always going to be on his nice list.

B as SantaThis month you had a couple of other firsts, too. Daddy and I took a brief holiday without you–we went to Dublin for a wedding and you stayed with your Grandma and Grandpa overnight for the first time on your own. You were fine with them, but when we returned you gave us the most amazing welcome, complete with big smiles and tight cuddles. And then you went to your first New Year’s Eve party! You slept through the whole thing, letting Mommy and Daddy have dinner and conversation with friends. You woke briefly as we wheeled you home in your pram, but when we got home, you laughed as I carried you up the stairs, and you went back to sleep the moment I put you in your bed.

fingers crossed, a less pixelated versionHappy new year, and happy birthday, my gorgeous little monkey.

I love you,
Mommy

(Have a look here at how you have changed.)

eleven months old

Dear Beatrice,

B and DaisyAha! Did you think Mommy could publish a letter right on time? Neither did Mommy! Let’s hope this is the beginning of a new trend.

This month we have noticed you really growing up. You’re getting taller, your face is changing to look more like a little girl and less like a little baby, you’re FINALLY getting some hair, and you are outgrowing everything very quickly. I guess all that growing energy is going to your body and not your teeth, because this is the first month since you started getting teeth that you haven’t had one (or two!) come through.

You really want to walk. You sometimes crawl with one leg bent up as if you’re about to stand up, and actually you can walk around the room holding on to your walker (which of course you only use under close supervision). You can now squat while holding on to something and then stand back up, and you have started letting go while standing, balancing on two feet for seconds at a time. So I don’t think walking is very far off.

15 Nov 2012Your verbal abilities are growing by leaps and bounds. You now say “uh-oh” (in that video I prompt you, but you now say it unprompted when you drop things). You say “mama” a little bit more than last month (but still not as often as “dada”), and you have added “ball” to your vocabulary and “bzz” for a bee to your animal sounds. Your comprehension is also good. You will obey requests, such as come to Mommy, go get the ball, come give Pooh Bear a kiss, and so on. You definitely know who is who between Mommy and Daddy, because you will kiss the correct person upon request.

You have started pointing at things, including pointing at yourself in the mirror (you did once say BEE! at the same time, but I am pretty sure that was just a coincidence). The morning after we put up the Christmas tree, I brought you in the living room, where you pointed at the tree and made an excellent “WHUH?!” noise. Of course you don’t really understand Christmas yet, but you do like the lights and the tree, and you absolutely love your little advent calendar, which has a Santa’s grotto scene on it with sweet little pictures behind the flaps.

fpu_tmp_1354729269.489_b8be22There have been a couple of small challenges this month. You had a cold that lasted a long time, and it really disrupted your sleep. You couldn’t bear to be put down in your cot, even when really tired–the moment you were down, you started screaming and standing up. I learned that if you didn’t go straight to sleep, the only thing I could really do was cuddle you to sleep and then put you down. Fortunately, now that you are better you are back to going to bed without fuss, but I feel a renewed respect for anyone who has a child who has problems going to sleep. Of course, all of that seemed to come at the same time as a change in your nap pattern–I think you are trying to transition to one nap in the day instead of two, so naps have become less predictable and I am getting less done in the day!

But the lovely things outweigh any challenges around sleeping. The sweetest thing you have done recently which surprised me is pick up a book, open it, and start chattering to yourself in a very specific “telling a story” tone! I also like the way you try to do some of the motions for songs like Itsy Bitsy Spider and Pat-A-Cake (you especially like to poke at your hand for the “prick it and mark it with B” part). You’ve also become surprisingly good at rolling a ball back and forth with me–of course, Daddy now sees your future as a professional sportswoman practically assured.

10 Nov 2012You have always been a pleasure, but now you really are becoming lots of fun! I love the time I get to spend with you, and I know I am really privileged to be able to do so.

I love you,
Mommy