Posts Tagged ‘milestones

Dear Jariel,

One year ago you were born into the oversized mesh underwear I had just changed into ten minutes prior. We’d made it to the hospital this time, barely made it into the room nearest the assessment area, didn’t make it onto the bed. They gave you a perfect Apgar, and they gave me the best peanut butter on toast I’ve ever had. You woke up every hour that first night and, uh, to date there’s been only marginal improvement. It’s okay, though. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

imageLately you’re a velcro baby. There are times I suspect you’re trying to literally meld into one entity with me, as if I could absorb you like an amoeba if you smushed hard enough. It’s cute, but incapacitating. I function with one hand, one eye, and half my attention. I feel like I need to apologize to everybody for my inability to carry on an undistracted conversation.

You took your first step (singular) at eight months, but it took three months before your desire to walk surpassed your love of the Mowgli crawl. I think you finally realized that walking frees up your hands to hold things, or push over furniture. There was that one afternoon you chased your sister around the house as she handed you pieces of nori – basically paper you can eat! Which is all you’ve ever wanted, at least until I started giving you free rein at the playground. Then you were all, What are these crumbly little grains hmmm must taste test …

imageYour first word was mama, but I’m beginning to suspect that, all this time, you might actually have been saying mum mum, as in FOOD. Considering the overlap between the two, I suppose I can’t fault you too much. You eat very well, despite being on the leaner side, and you’re willing to try anything (see above re: sand). Your appetite is robust and your pincer grasp is masterful, but the mess is new territory for me, and I’m not even new at baby-led weaning. Your sister never gleefully squished her food into her hair.

Since unfamiliar people get immediate poker face treatment, most don’t know what a cheeseball you are. You like to climb onto the sofa and throw yourself around bodily, shrieking. (Yes, once you threw yourself clean off. Ouch.) The other day you were doing this, happy as a clam, when suddenly your mouth started bleeding. But you just kept going, leaving mouth-shaped blood stamps in your wake. It wasn’t until the day after that I figured out what happened: you severed your upper lip tie. And you didn’t even react.

imageYou may be wary of new people, but you adore new environments. Who was it who said that being a baby is like being in love, in Paris for the first time after having three double espressos?* Well, I believe it. I can see it in your face. Every time you point to a seagull, every time you scrabble at the sand under your tiny shoes, every time you spot a water fountain at the mall. And when you interrupt your antics to sidle over and lay your head under my chin, it’s how I feel about you, too.



*Alison Gopnik

Dear Jariel,

photo 5Two weeks ago you turned six months old. You’re a wide-eyed little tumbleweed with self-inflicted nutty professor hair. You’re remarkably chill when out and about, but when it’s a chill day at home you’re a fussbutt because you get bored.

We thought your sister was overachieving, but you flipped over for the first time at three weeks. By four months you were rolling across the floor. At five months you began pulling up. You’re crawling now, a true hands-and-knees crawl, because the caterpillar shuffle was so two months ago. You’re cruising and walking assisted. Very recently you’ve started trying to stand unassisted, and to stand up by yourself. Clearly you don’t care about those old-timers who say it’s bad for your spine or leg musculature or linguistic development, I’m never sure which.

photo 2Speaking of linguistics, I’m officially counting “mama” as your first word. You say it clearly and often enough, although only when you’re just so fed up with it all omg PICK ME UP NOW! You’ve just come off a phase of your favourite sound being “rhza rhza rhza.” You also do “baba” and “yeh.”

My babies hit their milestones early, but when it comes to sleep, they are broken. BROKEN!

Unlike your sister, you nap in the crib, and you’re transferable. However, you only nap for half an hour at a time. You don’t self-soothe. Instead, you spring up like a freaking jack-in-the-box and wail.

At least night stretches are longer than half an hour, I think. I’m not counting. I don’t want to know.

photo 3Sometimes I still can’t believe I’ve got two little punks. Yet, as much as I could really use a good sleep and an extra set of arms, there are pockets of time when two are easier than one, because you’re entertaining each other. I imagine these moments will only increase. Seeing you light up for your sister is worth the (thankfully rare) occasions both of you are screaming at once.

馒头, I can’t get enough of your gummy chuckle, full-body stretches, and marshmallow thighs. The way you arch your brows and wrinkle your nose. The curl of your eyelashes.

I think you’re miraculous.


In August, you suddenly and inexplicably developed boob preference. Or should I say boob ADHD? Gone is our alternating one-per-feed system that worked so well for so long. For some reason you now feel a need to switch it up every few minutes, like, A HUNDRED TIMES. (Okay, maybe ten.) I’m decidedly unhappy about this. Not only is it annoying, it usually leads to MORE LAUNDRY.


I think you’ve outdone yourself this past month, both in terms of sugar sweetness and omg-what-kind-of-creature-have-I-unleashed-upon-the-world-ness. You had a will, but now you have an opinion.

You like to snack on raw noodles. I have no idea whether this is in any way good for you. Generally we keep our noodles and pasta out of sight behind cupboard doors. Still, when you see them, you demand one. One noodle, thin and hard and crunchy.

We had a week-long potty strike … a week of laying off and letting you poop in your diaper, because poopy diapers are bad, but still better than constipation. A constipated toddler is not something I wanted to risk having on my hands. Thankfully your potty strike ended as abruptly as it began.

The revolt against diaper changes and tooth-brushing lasted a bit longer. We seem to be over that hump, but it’s a delicate peace, highly dependent on your mood.

IMG_20130806_222644You think soaps and lotions are the grossest things ever, something about the way they smear over skin. Whenever we break them out you make this pained expression, accompanied by an anxious whine. (It’s a sound I might make if I were ever forced to let a spider crawl down my arm.) You’ve even gagged just watching daddy rub on hand cream. Who needs lotion when you’ve got perfect marshmallow skin, right?

Jumping! is your new obsession. You don’t always quite make it off the ground, but you try.


Sorry, did I say “obsession”? Actually, most other things pale in comparison to the intensity of your feelings about music. You like Disney songs – especially the opening African choir part of “Circle of Life” and the segment in “Kiss the Girl” where the tadpoles jump in and out of the lagoon singing “na na na” – and will insist that we replay those same twenty seconds over and over and OVER. You also like Lily & Madeleine. I have video footage of you interpretive dancing in the kitchen to “In the Middle.”

When I sing a line you recognize, you light up and go hunting for the iPod touch, demanding that I play the track. You’ve been known to melt down when a song ends or stops abruptly. (This applies to live music as well, whether it’s band practice or just me tinkering on the piano.)

IMG_3979Your vocabulary has been exploding lately, approaching a hundred words. Notables include open, more, 弟弟, (belly) button, ball, apple, bucket, toes, balloon, ten, done, mine, rice, hair, raining, run, come, chicken, dirty, music, blackberry, water, 哥哥, phone, door, morning, bird, bee, cookie. Your enunciation, however, can require some deciphering. Raining and morning you pronounce perfectly, but blackberry sounds more like “bai-jee!” Oh, and you know your name: “Aye-den.”

When I mentioned sugar sweet, I’m thinking particularly of how, even though you’re increasingly able to play and read independently, you still like to know that I’m there. I’m thinking of how you pat a spot nearby, telling me in unequivocal terms to “[sit] down!” before contentedly going about your business. (You get very upset and scream-y if I try to leave.)

And for the times my brain starts to unravel from hearing the same twenty seconds of the same song over and over again, your spontaneous kisses and 愛你s totally make up for it.

New spoken words this month: 姑姑 (Aunt Sally), 舅舅 (Uncle David), no, meow (for cat), moo (for cow). New “signed” or understood words: mouth, down, blink, 笑一个 (smile), smile.

Melting in Glendale, AZ.

Melting in Glendale, AZ.

That’s right, you say “no” now, but not in the defiant-toddler way where it’s a default response to everything. When you say it, you’re either mimicking us or pre-empting us, because we’ve either told you not to do something, or you know we’re just about to. You’ll shake your head, wag your finger, and say, “No-no.” Aunt Sally gets the credit for teaching you that trick. Now I can’t help myself; sometimes I wag my finger at you for no reason at all, just to hear your matter-of-fact “no-no!” (For the record, telling you “no” or “stop” isn’t terribly effective at getting you to stop whatever it is you shouldn’t be doing.)

You totally light up when you see pictures of babies and children in books or magazines or flyers, pointing and giggling “baby!” as if those images were a well-delivered punchline. You enjoy perusing photos of yourself, too, and you’ll make clown faces at your reflection in the mirror.

Operetta face?

Operetta face?

I swear I never set out to teach you tricks; it’s all you! In addition to your previous repertoire of funny faces, you know how to pout, blow a kiss, bat your eyelashes (cue: “blink blink”) and do this:

You react with great drama whenever the doorbell or phone rings, or when the timer goes off for the toaster oven or microwave. Perking up, eyes and mouth wide, insistent “Ah! AH!” You know it signals something – probably something momentous – and you expect us to go get it already!

You love visitors, and scramble to show them all of your things. Seriously, you’ll dig everything out from under the exersaucer (where I store them) and present each toy, one by one.

You’ve started showing an interest in erecting towers, as opposed to only knocking them down. You can balance blocks on top of each other.


But more often you’re into “nesting” things and gathering small items into various receptacles. You’ll put your rock collection into a tupperware container, stir sticks into a paper cup. Then you’ll take them out, one by one, and transfer each object into another makeshift container.

There’s also the sneaky planting of “surprises” around the house. Like one of your rocks in the diaper bag, or crayons in the kitchen cupboards alongside the pots. Or maybe in a pot. Surprise!

For someone who rarely ever stays still – somehow I manage to dress you while you’re running away – you’re surprisingly cooperative when I put your shoes on. My theory is you’ve figured out that shoes signal going out, and you’re always up for that. Once, because we had a bit of a cold snap, I broke out your socks; once they were on you headed straight for the front door. (This shows that, one: I’m probably right, and two: I don’t do socks in the summer.)

Crayons are good for more than just eating.

Crayons are good for more than just eating.

You understand and obey when I point across the room and say, “Ashelyn, go get me that.” I always say it offhandedly, vaguely, not really expecting you to respond with comprehension. But you do! You think it’s fun to blow my mind, obviously.

You’re able to unscrew the caps off bottles and jars, provided they aren’t twisted too tight. You even unscrew the tip off the water spritzer I keep at your change table.

The other evening I saw you pretend to punch numbers into the iPod touch (it was on the passcode lock screen), then hold it up to your ear and say, “Hi!”

Let me push my own stroller!

Why sit in my stroller when I can push it?

Seems like we have a phone hog in the making. When either of your grandmas are on the line, you’ll completely hijack the call, drowning out our end of the conversation with your fluent – and loud! – gibberish. Inevitably it becomes a dialogue between you and grandma. Yes, a dialogue – you leave space for her to speak, listening and responding like a seasoned conversationalist, albeit a slightly frenzied one.

I’m not unfamiliar with the sentiment that once a child can walk up to mama and ask for milk … it just might be time to move on. Except I never knew you’d be able to do this at 12-13 months. That doesn’t even count as “extended breastfeeding.” Anyway, you show no signs whatsoever of losing interest, and you’re lucky I’m in no hurry to wean. In fact, sometimes you get agitated when I put my boob away, like, HEY! Okay, I know you thought I was finished, but I’M NOT FINISHED!

Breastfeeding doesn’t even keep you still anymore, which IT’S SUPPOSED TO DO. You breastfeed and dance at the same time. You breastfeed and HUM! At the same time. I’m, uhh, glad you draw so much artistic inspiration from this activity.

IMG_3649Since I alluded to weaning: I’m starting to think you need to be weaned off electronics. You find cell phones altogether too fascinating. All our handheld devices now have passcode locks to prevent you from poking around and “restarting springboard” … whatever that means.

You climb up and down stairs with ease. We don’t even have stairs in our house (save the creepy ones down to the basement), so I’m not sure how you could’ve practiced this. You’ve been able to safely slide yourself off furniture for a while now, so I don’t need to worry about you falling off the (guest) bed anymore.

It’s been a long, drawn-out road to walking, but here we are at last. From the first time you stood unassisted (at seven months), to first steps (twelve months), to willingly walking on your feet instead of your knees (a few weeks ago). I guess this means you’re officially a toddler! Where did my baby go? Admittedly things were simpler before you became mobile, but they weren’t half as fun.

It looks like she's upset, but she's actually clowning around.

It looks like she’s upset, but she’s actually clowning around.

You do this fake laugh, and it looks like this:

Sometimes you’ll even point and laugh, as if you’re making fun of something. Once it was a sleeping baby. Often it’s your reflection in a mirror.

Daddy and I were taking inventory the other day, and we realized that you know over twenty words! Some you say:

  • mama
  • hi
  • neh-neh
  • wow
  • 唉呀 (ai ya)
  • 爸爸 (daddy)
  • up
  • baby
  • amen (“ame-yah”)
  • please (“bee”)

Some you “sign”:

  • bye
  • no
  • yes
  • kiss
  • thank you
  • brush teeth

Some you recognize and respond to:

  • face
  • why
  • give
  • nose
  • high five
  • hug

Next milestone after walking: levitation.

You dislike the sensation of grass under your bare feet, and will contort yourself in attempts to avoid such contact.

You and I play hide-and-seek around the house.

I’m pleased that you get along so well with other children. Especially ones who are slightly older, old enough to humour you when you jabber at them unintelligibly. Old enough not to mind when you grab at items of interest in their hands or knock down things they’ve built. Really, though, you’re all friendliness and curiosity.

Daddy has a boxful of wooden stir sticks in his office, and you’re obsessed with them. You like to gather them into bundles and traipse around the house holding as many as you can in your fists, and a few in your mouth. You freak out when some slip out of your grasp, which inevitably happens because your hands are too small to hold that many! So then you crumple to your knees, wailing, “Oh no! Oh no!” Except it comes out more like, “Ah nao!” Have I mentioned that you’re hilarious?

Of course she doesn't mind sitting in the carseat when it's not in the car.

Of course she doesn’t mind sitting in the carseat when it’s not in the car.

Your newest (understood) word is “hug,” and it is priceless. You’ll even pat us affably on the back or shoulder; I didn’t even realize I did that to you until you started doing it to me.

Dear Ashelyn,

One year ago today, you were born in our bathroom, while your father freaked out because he didn’t know how to deliver a baby. (Well, now he does.)

IMG_3586You’re always bucking the script. Remember how you were crawling and pulling up and cruising and climbing at six months? At the rate you were hitting those milestones, you should have been walking months ago … but you’re not! (You do, however, “walk” on your knees.) This month you’ve been willing to walk while holding my hand or holding onto our fingers, but before, whenever we tried, you’d just become dead weight. Totally uninterested.

Do you realize this is infringing on my bragging rights?

I thank you for that.

You’ve started saying “hi.” It comes out more like “aye,” but people get the idea, especially since you say it repeatedly: “Hi. Hi. Hi!” I carry you in the Ergo, and you greet anyone who happens to come alongside us.

You also say “oh wow” and “uh oh” (originally “woh woh”). I know when you drop something on purpose because you’ll say “uh oh” before you let go.

Last month you were nodding and shaking your head in response to hearing the words “yes” and “no” … now you nod to mean yes and shake your head to mean no. Let’s go outside! Yes. Want another strawberry? Yes. Shall I take you for a minute and give mama a break? No.

IMG_3569You clap in response to “yay” and “good job” and “好棒啊!” When we say it’s time to brush your teeth – four now – you run your finger across your mouth like a toothbrush. When you see a stray tissue, you’ll use it to “wipe” the nearest surface. Then you’ll pinch it into little confetti bits. You know both the Mandarin and English words for “kiss,” and you give them freely, generously, maybe a touch too indiscriminately.

In the evenings, you flop backwards in bed and kick your legs crazily in all directions, a throwback to when you were mere weeks old. Part of me is still taken aback whenever I see babies younger than you are; wasn’t it just yesterday you were the newest of them all? And now, now you say “mama” and smush your nose into my face.

IMG_3561Some mothers say they no longer remember life before their little ones, but I do. I remember late nights and lengthy internet browsing and leisurely meals. I miss those things sometimes, but I’ve found parenthood to be remarkably good at exposing the selfish parts of me, prying them away without anaesthetic.

You’re worth it.


I’m (very, shamefully) late in noticing this, but you “dance” to music. It’s a little rhythmic bounce you do while standing or on your knees, often accompanied by wildly flailing arms.

The other day you were “dancing” a little too enthusiastically and bumped your chin into the coffee table. There was a minor amount of fussing, but the funny thing about your reaction to pain is (1) the delay, and (2) the disbelief. Whenever there’s a mishap you freeze, then make this incredulous hurt face that seems to say, How could this happen?

You love to watch video clips of yourself.

I have no idea where this came from, but you randomly and spontaneously attempt arabesques. (Sometimes while breastfeeding.)

IMG_3440Daddy was first to discover that you’ve begun crawling out of your highchair. (The straps on the toddler side are missing.) He occasionally drags the highchair into the kitchen so he can cook and supervise you at the same time, except one day he blinked and you’d half crawled onto the stove! Luckily he was only doing prep work, so none of the elements were on … I think.

Interestingly, you aren’t really drawn to stuffies or soft toys. You favour hard, shiny, SMALL objects … choking hazards. Of course.

IMG_3524Your other favourite plaything is a container full of some homogeneous item: a box of sugar packets, a basket of blankets, a laundry mesh bag of nursing pads. You’re a fan of scattering everything with gusto all over the place. You’re not a fan of cleaning up after.

Your crooked-salute wave became an up-and-down wave, and is now a real wave. You wave at the words “bye” and “hi” and “wave.” If you’re extra excited, you may wave with both hands.

And you can nod now! You nod at “yes” and shake your head at “no.” Although you still like to shake your head randomly.

You’re a chatterbox and your vocalizations span the entire alphabet; still, there are a few recurring syllables: the bright, chipper “ahn ahn ahn” (sometimes “ahn-ye”), the murmured “ma ma ma,” the impatient “dar dar dar.”IMG_3461

When it’s time to sleep, you protest by throwing yourself backwards, or squiggling around like a caterpillar in its death throes.

You know how to climb off the sofa.

You’re really getting the hang of mimicry, as evidenced by the growl-offs and squinty-face contests you have with daddy.