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By the way, I’ve started blogging at which is getting updated a whole lot more regularly than this one since I can post to it from my phone. That one is mostly photos, videos and cute or funny things that Elisabeth says. So if you’re looking for that sort of thing, you might want to be following that blog. I expect I will still occasionally post here but it may well continue to only be every 3-4 months. Just FYI…

We celebrated Elisabeth’s second birthday on December 4th with a lovely party – lots of family, godparents, friends and three of her little friends & their parents. The house was full to bursting, and it was very fun.

I think the most noteworthy thing about Elisabeth at two years old is her verbal skills. She often speaks in long and compound sentences. She is doing remarkably well with tenses and grammatical correctness. She’s very good at communicating what she wants. And she still often has a running commentary about everything that’s going on around her.

Other than language & verbal skill, probably the most notable knowledge acquisition in the last four months (since I last wrote an update) has been her repertoire of songs she knows (which is huge) and learning her colours. She can now correctly identify orange, blue, green, purple, pink, white, black, red and yellow. (She learned them in approximately that order.)

Elisabeth is slowly becoming a little less timid, although she’s still very quiet when she meets new people or is around strangers. It no longer takes a long time for her to warm up when we talk to Oma & Opa (or other US relatives) on Skype now, though. And she’s slightly more willing to perform when asked to. She definitely has to be in the right mood, though.

She only shows fairly sporadic interest in toilet training. Occasionally she’ll ask to take her nappy off so she can do a poo on the potty. She doesn’t usually manage to actually do anything on the potty, though. I’ve told her that once she does all her wee and poo on the potty, she can wear pants, so she sometimes asks to “do poo on the potty, wear pants.” And then I have to explain that it’s not just a one-shot thing. Which, of course, she doesn’t quite understand yet. In any case, we’re still taking a fairly relaxed approach to it all. I at least am hoping that she moves herself more in that direction as she approaches 2 1/2. We shall see!

Sleep is generally good. She sleeps through the night most nights, although it’s not uncommon for her to cry out in her sleep sometime between 4:30-5:30. On days that she’s at home in the afternoon, she’ll usually take a 2 to 2 1/2 hour nap. She still usually naps at nursery as well for at least an hour. She’s also a little better at coping when she doesn’t get a nap at all, although that does still occasionally lead to meltdown at bedtime.

She’s still miserable at eating – except at nursery. It seems that she eats whatever food they put in front of her at nursery, which on the one hand is great and on the other hand makes it even more frustrating that the range of foods she’ll eat at home is still minuscule. I think she would happily exist on crisps and biscuits and milk if we let her. (At least there’s the milk…) She is pretty good with fruit, and she does eat hummus and eggs. So there’s a little variety of nutrients in her diet. Veggies and meat are still non-starters, though – except, again, at nursery. Thank goodness for nursery!

Speaking of nursery, for the most part Elisabeth still seems to enjoy it a lot. She often says “Izzabeff no go to nursery, stay at home” when we tell her it’s a nursery day. But once we reminder her of all the people she likes who will be there – especially her favourite teachers Sevda and Kate – she happily acquiesces. And her log book always says, “Elisabeth had a very good day today,” or similar.

Favourite activities include writing/drawing (especially with mommy & daddy’s pens); cutting – either cutting paper with scissors or cutting play food with a play knife; pushing her “babies” around in her doll buggies, often with a bag hanging from each arm; related to that: pretending to go shopping – usually to buy bread; singing & making music; playing with playdough; playing with water – she loves standing next to the sink and playing with the water coming out of the tap – and watching TV shows or videos on YouTube. Her favourite TV shows are Tweenies, In the Night Garden, Zingzillas, Charlie & Lola, Chuggington, Waybuloo and Timmy Time.

Elisabeth has a defiant streak – like pretty much all two-year-olds – but for the most part she’s still our very sweet, good-natured, happy little girl. She’s developing a rather hilarious sense of humour. So far having a two-year-old is loads of fun!

Once again, looking back at the blog entry that I wrote about Elisabeth three months ago, I’m struck at how much she’s changed in those three months. Of course we see her learning new things constantly, but the difference in those two snapshots — Elisabeth at 17 months and Elisabeth at 20 months — is still quite striking.

In that last entry, I wrote that Elisabeth stil wasn’t walking on her own. Exactly a week after I wrote that, she was toddling around at church like she’d been walking for a long time! Having her start walking by herself was a bit of a relief as it meant she could walk around the house without me always having to come with her. Hooray for more independence! People warned us that once she was more mobile, we’d have to worry about what she was getting into, but since she’s not a very mischievous kid and the house is pretty effectively toddler-proofed, I don’t have to worry all that much if she’s in one part of the house by herself for a while. It’s been great! The main downside is that she frequently gets tired of riding in her pushchair and wants to walk. This really had a big impact on the week we spent in Paris in the middle of July. Elisabeth wanted to walk EVERYWHERE, so we went a lot of places very slowly making frequent stops for her to explore, watch people or dogs, or just look around.

We’ve also had about three months now of consistently sleeping through the night, which is another thing that feels like it has just changed our lives. Being able to rely on getting a good 7-8 hours of sleep at night myself just makes a world of difference! Elisabeth generally goes to bed around 7:15-7:30 and wakes up around 6:30-7:00, although she usually doesn’t make any noise when she wakes up and will play or lie quietly in her cot until we come get her, sometimes for as long as an hour or more, so it’s hard to know just when she’s actually waking. At some point we walk into her room, and there she is, standing up in her cot just patiently waiting for someone to come get her. She goes for an afternoon nap sometime between 12:30 and 1:30 and usually sleeps for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Elisabeth loves music, singing and dancing, and we frequently hear her singing to herself. There are quite a few songs that she can sing all or mostly by herself including:

  • Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
  • The Alphabet Song
  • Baa Baa Black Sheep
  • 1-2-3-4-5 Once I Caught A Fish
  • Row, Row, Row Your Boat
  • Ring A Ring O’ Roses
  • Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
  • Incey Wincey Spider
  • See Saw Margery Daw
  • Throw, Catch

We go to singing time at the Wood Green library most Monday mornings and at the children’s centre around the corner from our house most Wednesdays. They do a lot of singing at Elisabeth’s nursery too.

I long ago lost track of how many words Elisabeth knows. Her vocabulary is huge. She surprises us daily with words that she knows. We have to watch what we say too, because she repeats a lot. She’s been using more 4-5+ word sentences like “Ah-bess play ball park” and “Ah-bess owwie on her head”. (“Ah-bess” is how she says her own name.) She can count to 10, and she can recite the days of the week in order. She learned both of those things at nursery. Makes me feel like I’m getting my money’s worth! While she chatters all day long at home, she’s pretty shy around other people and takes a while to warm up to them. It’s almost impossible to get her to “show off”. When we Skype with my mom, it always takes her 10+ minutes before she’ll talk at all and she steadfastly refuses to sing or count or show off other things she knows.

One of her favourite things is pushing her “baby” around in the doll buggy. She loves taking her baby outside for walks which usually means going to the park. It also means that occasionally we have to take the doll buggy along folded up on Elisabeth’s pushchair, so Elisabeth can push her baby wherever it is that we’re going.

Her other favourite things right now include drawing/colouring with crayons and coloured pencils, going to the park (any park, but mostly Chestnuts Park just down the street) and playing with buckles and cream. Elisabeth is kind of obsessed with buckles and cream. If there is a buckle, she wants to buckle it. If there is cream (suncream, nappy cream, lotion, etc), she wants to open it and rub it on her face, arms, etc. I guess every kid has their own thing, right? At least with the buckle thing it’s great for improving hand-eye coordination.

Eating hasn’t improved that much other than the range of fruit that she’ll eat expanding a bit again. She was down to just bananas. Now grapes are her favourite. She’ll also eat apples, raspberries and sometimes oranges or clementines. She still won’t eat any vegetables. She’s definitely a grazer. We can get her to sit in her high chair for meals, but she generally doesn’t eat very much during those meal times and she wants to snack a lot throughout the day, usually asking for crackers. She’ll also snack on Cheerios, raisins and fruit. Every now and then she’ll eat some of the pasta or rice or other food that we’re eating, but we definitely can’t count on that. She does seem to eat better at nursery where she’ll usually at least sample whatever they’re having for lunch.

Elisabeth is still for the most part a sweet, happy, fun kid although in the last months tantrums have definitely become a lot more frequent. She has very clear ideas of what she wants to do and how she wants things to be (and what she wants James and I to do) and if things are other than how she wants them, she will scream and cry. Thankfully her tantrums rarely last longer than 2-3 minutes, and usually we have the time and patience to let her try doing things on her own, pre-empting some tantrums. She always wants to try to put her shoes on by herself. Often she wants to try to open the front doors with keys by herself. She hasn’t reached the point of wanting to dress herself yet, although she’ll sometimes resist getting dressed at all.

We’ve had the little potty in the bathroom for about 8 months now and have often encouraged Elisabeth to sit on it before she gets in the bath in the evening. So far, though, we’re taking a rather casual, relaxed approach to potty training. Elisabeth really likes sitting on her potty, although she doesn’t stay there very long. She has three times done a poo in her potty, but that seemed to be more due to the fact that she just happened to be sitting on the potty when the poo came out (in one instance, I quickly pushed her on the potty when I saw the poo starting to come out of her bottom!) than her actually trying to do it. In fact, every time she got quite upset when she saw the poo in the potty and repeated, “Uh oh, potty!” We had to work quite hard to convince her that it was a good thing and she’d done really well!

It’s been a very busy summer with lots of visitors and travelling. Elisabeth has been an amazing trooper through it all. But I’ll save that for another blog entry…

I was just looking back on the post I wrote about Elisabeth at 14 months old and marveling at how much changes in three months!

The headlines are: still not walking, range of food she’ll eat hasn’t changed, vocabulary is up to about 125 words, sleep is still variable and she has lots more teeth.

At fifteen months old, Elisabeth finally mastered crawling, but she’s still not walking on her own. In the last couple of weeks she’s begun to take 3-4 steps between furniture without holding on to anything, but it seems that’s mostly when she’s caught up in what she’s doing and not thinking about the fact that she’s not hanging on. If I encourage her to take a couple of steps to me without anything between us to hold on to, she won’t do it. She gets down and crawls over instead. She’s gotten pretty good at climbing up the stairs but usually wants to be holding a hand when she does that too. In general she’s a pretty timid kid when it comes to anything physical. Her nursery teacher encouraged me to do more messy play with Elisabeth at home because apparently she’s fairly “squeamish”, according to the teacher.

She’s certainly not timid when it comes to being social or talking. She still gets loads of attention from strangers when we’re out and I think it’s because she watches people intently with those big blue eyes. She’s very curious about people, and she especially loves other kids. (“Kid!” she exclaims exuberantly when she’s sees a small person.) We go to the park most days that she doesn’t go to nursery, and it’s so she can be around other kids as much as the physical exercise and getting out the house aspect of it. There are a group of girls at our church who are around 7-12 years old who absolutely adore Elisabeth. As soon as the service is over they come over and take her off to play leaving James and I to have our post-service coffee/tea and conversation in peace. Elisabeth loves it too. It’s reason enough to get up and go to church on Sunday morning!

Elisabeth’s vocabulary is up to about 125 words and she still chatters away most the time, even sometimes when she’s in her pushchair. We’re trying to teach her good manners, and she’s picked up “thank-you” very well (“Kank-yooo!”), saying it unprompted most of the time when we give her something or do something for her — and sometimes when she gives us something if we don’t say it fast enough. “Please” still usually requires prompting (“How do you ask nicely?”), although occasionally when she’s really wanted something, she’s repeated “Please! Please! Please!” over and over. She knows lots of names of relatives and kids she goes to nursery with. Other than “Kank-yooo”, I think my favourite word that she says is “hello” because she sticks her tongue way out of her mouth to make the “L” sound. It’s rather adorable!

Sleep has really been up and down the last few months, and I think much of that is connected with teething. Elisabeth has popped out another 7-8+ teeth in the last three months (it’s a little hard to get a good look to see just how many there are now) and it seems like she’s been teething at least half of that time. We can tell when she’s teething because she gets a lot more clingy (especially to me – often she won’t even want to go to James and cries when I hand her over), she eats even less than usual, her poo gets really squishy, and she wakes up more at night needing attention. Recently she’s been waking before 6 am and will sometimes go back to sleep, but only if she’s on me, which means I don’t go back to sleep. Thankfully the last few mornings have been back to normal – waking up between 6:30 and 7:00.

Over the last month she’s been switching from morning to afternoon naps which completely reorganises our days. On days that she naps at home, she’ll usually go down for a nap sometime between 12:00 and 2:00 and will sleep for 2-3 hours. Naps at nursery rarely last more than an hour and there have been a few days recently when she’s been at nursery all day and not napped at all.

A fun new development is that just in the past week Elisabeth has started getting into taking care of her “babies”. I’ve gotten her some secondhand dolls and doll furniture on Ebay, and she can get awfully absorbed in wrapping the dolls up in blankets, putting them in and out of the cradle, taking the blankets off them, pushing them in the doll buggy, giving them drinks from her sippy cup, etc. It’s very sweet.

Elisabeth loves music and will “dance” to almost anything, including sounds that apparently sound musical to her – like the hair dryer and the car alarm sound on her play keys. She sings to herself a lot. The main thing that she sings is “Bye-bye, Dada. Bye-bye, Dada. Bye-bye Dada. [mumble mumble mumble]” This is a song that we often sing at baby & toddler singing sessions at local children’s centres to start and end the sessions. The tune is perhaps best known as “Goodnight, Ladies” from The Music Man. Elisabeth started singing this at around 16 months old and it took me a little while to figure out what she was singing. The thing I find most remarkable is she had worked out that the “Bye-bye, Dada” bit is repeated three times and then the fourth line is different. She has since added, “Hello, Dada”, “Hello, baby”, and other variations. She has in the past couple of days added a new song to her repertoire as well: “Ee-oh. Cuck. Quack, quack.”. (That would be, Old Mac Donald – with a duck.)

Favourite things: her babies, the park (“Pahk!”), Lego (“Geggo!”), nursery, music & singing, crackers, and of course, her dummies.

At nearly 16 months old, Elisabeth’s vocabulary is now up to about 70 words. (I keep a running list in a note on my iPhone!) She chatters away most of the time, usually recognisable words. She’s starting to put words together like “clip open” (little bag clips are one of her favourite things) and “keys open” when she wants a door opened. She’s picked up exclamations like “oh no!”. She’s just recently started saying “no” with a lot more frequency.

The words she uses the most are probably “up” and “again”. It’s rare that we can sing a song or read a book or do something funny without Elisabeth commanding “again!”. We sing songs over and over and over and over again. She says “again” to the TV as well. (Especially to the TV theme songs that she really likes – Chuggington, Timmy Time and Bob the Builder.) There’s not much point yet in trying to explain to her that the TV doesn’t repeat things on demand.

She can point to photos on the fridge and name Opa, Oma, Tante (my sister Erin) and “Ah-yah” (her cousin Leah) without prompting, and she can point to other people when asked to. She loves Skyping with Oma & Opa and with Leah & Aunt Dana.

I’m very much enjoying having a kid who is getting better and better at communicating and expressing herself. And language development is absolutely fascinating!

As I mentioned in the previous post, Elisabeth is getting pretty good with animal sounds and can do a lot of them, but her favourite animal sound is definitely “quack, quack”. She loves ducks. She pointed out that there was a picture of a duck on her toothbrush – something that had escaped James’ and my attention. She even says, “Quack, quack” when she sees pigeons. I’ve tried to teach her that pigeons say “coo”, but as far as she is concerned, they are ducks and she loves chasing them.

This past weekend we ventured over to the Brick Lane Sunday markets and, having done some market browsing and eaten a rather late lunch, were waiting at the end of Commercial Street to get a bus home. Elisabeth was looking down the road and said, “Quack, quack!” We thought that she was looking at some birds flying in the sky and pointed out that they weren’t actually ducks. But she continued to periodically say, “Quack, quack!” even when they were no birds visible in the sky.

Finally James spotted that an LED billboard down the street was showing an O2 advert which featured several very large rubber ducks! It was one of about 5 or 6 adverts that were cycling through fairly quickly. But every time the advert with the ducks came around, Elisabeth piped up, “Quack, quack!” She had spotted it long before either of us did. Leave it to her to notice the ducks!

A friend of mine recently reminded me of the saying, when it comes to babies, “you either have a walker or a talker.” She and I both have talkers! Elisabeth is quite comfortable toddling around as long as she has a finger to hold on to but isn’t yet willing to try walking on her own. And she has been trying to crawl more lately but is far from mastering that. Her vocabulary, however, is over 40 words now and she is picking up new words at a rate of about 4-5 per week.

Elisabeth can tell you what sounds these animals make: cow, horse, sheep, duck, chicken, monkey, elephant, wolf, tiger, penguin and rabbit. (The rabbit and penguin aren’t so much sounds as actions, but she sure knows them.) She understands “up” and “down” and says both words. She talks a LOT and is constantly trying to copy the words that we say.

Body parts that Elisabeth can point to on herself (and, most of them, on others) include: nose, mouth, ears, hair, head, tummy and feet. When she’s in the bath I give her a sponge and ask her if she can scrub her feet. She lifts a foot way out of the water and does her best to scrub it!

She has pretty much mastered feeding herself with a spoon. She eats her whole bowl of porridge at breakfast and bowl of yogurt at lunch or supper all by herself with almost no help from us. The range of foods that she will eat is still pretty tiny: besides porridge and yogurt, she eats banana, mango, bread, cheese, crackers, rice cakes and sometimes pear. That’s about it. Oh, and she drinks grape juice. The range of foods that she will eat – or at least try – at nursery is a bit broader, but even there she’s a very picky eater. Her nursery asked me to write down a list of foods that she will eat so on the days that she is at nursery all day they can ensure that she will eat something. That’s important since as of the beginning of March she’ll be in nursery two full days a week plus a half day.

Nursery is working out brilliantly for Elisabeth and for us. She really likes it there and they love her. The nursery manager said to me one day, “I wish I had a lot more Elisabeths.” The only thing that’s not working so well is naps. At home when I can tell Elisabeth is tired, I put her down to sleep in her cot and, in the quiet of her room, she sleeps as long as she needs to. At nursery the cots are on one end of the baby room, not in a separate quiet room. So when she does go to sleep, she doesn’t sleep very long, and sometimes they can’t even get her to sleep at all because she doesn’t want to miss what’s going on. The last two Tuesdays after she has spent all day at nursery, she has slept badly at night (one night she was awake from 3:15 to 6:00 am!) and I’m quite certain it’s because she didn’t get enough sleep during the day. So as she moves to two full days a week at nursery, I think we’re going to have to have a chat with the nursery staff about what can be done to facilitate better napping.

In the teething department, Elisabeth is now up to seven teeth (I think – it’s hard to get a good look at that top gum) and the seventh – which was a third bottom tooth – came in with absolutely no fanfare, thank goodness. In fact, we haven’t seen crabby teething Elisabeth since the middle of December, which has been wonderful.

For the most part (other than the full days she’s at nursery) sleeping is in a good pattern too. Most nights Elisabeth is sleeping 12+ hours straight without needing any attention from us. We put her down around 7 pm and she wakes up sometime between 7:00 and 7:30. Hooray! She wakes up happy, too, and will usually just lie in her cot chatting or sucking her dummy and playing with her stuffed animals until one of us eventually looks in on her. She’s still doing a long morning nap although there are more and more days when she doesn’t take an afternoon nap at all.

She’s been going through a “I want my mummy” phase for the past few months which can be a little frustrating for James especially when she cries when I leave her with him. In the last week she’s been a little more affectionate toward him, though, and he also figured out that often when she’s running away from him it’s actually because she wants him to chase her. “I’m gonna get you” is a fun new game.

Favourite things: books, eating, bath time, ducks, shape sorters, buckles, singing (fav songs are “Little Green Frog” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”), playing on the bed with Daddy before bedtime, and her beloved dummies (American: pacifiers).

For the last three weeks since we got back to the UK I’ve been meaning to write up something about this last trip to the US and especially about what an amazing traveler Elisabeth was.

I was a lot more anxious going into this trip than I was about our trip in March-April 2009 when Elisabeth was just three months old. Back then she was much more portable and not mobile. I was worried that this time around the long flight would be very difficult with Elisabeth not being happy sitting on our laps and wanting to get down and walk around a lot and getting upset when she couldn’t. It turns out I worried needlessly. She was an absolutely fantastic traveler – slept about half of the London -> Chicago flight and happily played on our laps for most of the rest of it. I took her walking up and down the aisles a couple of times and she happily toddled around wanting to check out everything and stopping to say hi to everyone she passed, especially the kids. She was a big hit, and the flight attendants were very impressed with her.

The only bad thing about that flight was our seats. We weren’t able to get bulkhead seats, and regular economy seating on United transatlantic flights is so squashed and uncomfortable. At one point the woman sitting in front of me completely reclined her seat and hit Elisabeth on the head with her seat! And then she couldn’t understand what we were upset about and was completely unapologetic. A flight attendant tried to intervene but couldn’t do much more than suggest I recline my seat as well which didn’t actually create that much more space for Elisabeth. Traveling in economy if you aren’t in a bulkhead or exit row seat is uncomfortable enough, doing it with a kid is ridiculous.

The first week of our trip we were in Grand Rapids and while it was lovely to be there staying with Christina & David and visiting lots of friends and former colleagues, it was made rather difficult by Elisabeth’s process of adjusting to the time change. She woke around 4:00-4:30 every morning, bright eyed and ready for the day. Ugh! Somehow we made it through that and kept our sanity in tact – just barely at times, though.

The next week and a half (Dec 19th-30th) – after an overnight at my sister Dana’s house in Morton Grove, Illinois (just on the north side of Chicago) – was spent at my parents’ house in DeMotte, Indiana. It was so lovely spending time with my family especially since this time Elisabeth was old enough to interact much more with my niece Leah who is seven months older than Elisabeth. At first Leah was a little suspicious of this new kid who was getting so much attention from her Oma (my mother) and Tante (my sister Erin) but she warmed up pretty quickly. Elisabeth, as usual, just glowed with all the extra attention she got with lots of relatives around. And James and I got a night away on our own. We left Elisabeth in DeMotte one night while we went and spent the night at a hotel in Chicago. What a treat!

We stayed in DeMotte a day longer than we had been planning because we were reluctant to take Elisabeth away from her Oma & Opa. But we had friends to see and parties to attend in Nashville, so on the 30th we piled into my parents’ minivan and, along with my sister Erin, drove the 7 hours to Nashville. Elisabeth was a trooper on the car journey. She wasn’t that thrilled about spending so long in a car seat (something she hardly ever does in the UK since we don’t own a car) but she managed and at least didn’t make us feel like we were torturing her the whole time.

Our week and a half in Nashville was a great conclusion to our US trip. We spent the first night at the Weavers’ – who we had never met – as none of our other friends had room for us that night. They were amazingly hospitable, and their seven-year-old daughter Julia was fantastic with Elisabeth. The rest of our time in Nashville was split between staying with the Dave & Sarah Dark and their three kids and with Trevor & Jenna Henderson (Elisabeth’s American godparents) and their two boys. Elisabeth loved being around other kids so much and was fantastic with all the adults. Having a kid who is very social and is happy being with just about anyone who will pay attention to her certainly makes trips like this a lot easier!

Our trip home was delayed by a day, but the bright side is that we were upgraded to business class for our Chicago -> London flight and got to spend our 7 hour layover in Chicago in the Red Carpet Club. While James and I didn’t get much sleep on the overnight flight, having wide seats that fully reclined made it a lot easier to keep Elisabeth asleep on us. As we were debarking in London, one of the flight attendants said to me that he would be happy to have Elisabeth on any of his flights any time! The man seated next to James also commented on what a great traveler Elisabeth was. I think flight attendants to some extent and other travelers especially assume that if a baby is on the flight there’s going to be lots of crying and they will be very bothered by it. So when Elisabeth is a perfect angel and hardly cries or complains at all, they are impressed and grateful. Well, we are too!

It was good to get back home to London, and Elisabeth’s adjustment this way was a lot easier on us as she pretty much slept 13 hours straight the first two nights back and by the third night was more or less back into her regular sleeping pattern. She was also back in nursery three days of the week (two half days and one whole day) right away, and I think that was probably a very good thing since she had gotten used to being around other kids so much during our trip. To just be with me five days of the week would have gotten awfully boring – for both of us!

We’re not yet sure when our next trip to the US will be. Elisabeth will be a lot more verbal and able to express her desires. It’s hard to know whether that will make a long flight easier or harder. It’s also very possible that even if she’s not yet two years old, we may well pay for her to have her own seat. I can’t imagine that it’s going to be comfortable to have her traveling on our laps for much longer.

We’re very much looking forward to visits from Oma & Opa and Tante in the summer. And in the meantime, we get on Skype as much as we can!

Elisabeth in the Red Carpet Club at OHare

Elisabeth in the Red Carpet Club at O'Hare

So kid. You are a year old. Amazing. The last year has been quite an adventure! It’s certainly had it’s ups and downs, but I can say unequivocally that getting you as a daughter is definitely one of the best things that has ever happened in my life.

First of all, I apologise for missing the 11 month update. Between illness and teething, you’ve been a lot of work for the last month and a half and I’ve not been up to doing much besides the basics of parenting. I’ll try to cover the last month and a half in this one…

Your vocabulary is growing. After “dada” your next words were “Hi!” and “crocodile”. Yes, crocodile. You have quite a few books with crocodiles in them including your beloved bath book about Conrad the Crocodile. You also say “Gada” for Grandad and “cat” or “caga” after having spent a couple of days at your Nana & Grandad’s house where you joyfully chased the cats around. You frequently try to imitate words that we say. You’ve said “Buppa” a few times when we look at the photo of Oma & Opa on the fridge and you have pronounced perfectly clearly words like “cow” and “Leah”  but they aren’t yet part of your regular vocabulary. You also make a little throat growly sound which seems to be your attempt at making animal sounds.

You still don’t crawl, stand unsupported for more than a few seconds or pull yourself up very much, but you are getting awfully good at walking. Three weeks ago you still needed us to hold both of your hands when you walked. Now you cruise along with only one hand holding on to someone. You still prefer to have something in both hands when you walk around, and while clothes pegs remain your top preference just about anything will do including the remote controls.

Sleep has been much more of a problem for the last month. You had about 3 1/2 months straight of reliably taking a 2-3 hour nap every morning but then illness and teething came along and now you are as likely to only sleep for 1/2 hour in the morning as you are to sleep for 2-3 hours. When you don’t get a long morning nap you are tired and cranky all through the rest of the day and it can be awfully trying. During the last month you’ve been waking up more in the middle of the night too. The combination of sleep-deprived baby, sleep-deprived mummy and sleep-deprived daddy is not really desirable, to say the least.

Eating isn’t any better than it was a month and a half ago. You’ll still eat banana fairly reliably. Anything is up for grabs. You eat a lot less than you used to too, although I guess that’s fairly normal at this age. You’ve been known to skip meals entirely – just absolutely refuse to eat. A couple of times we’ve given you your supper in the bath because you would eat it there but not in your high chair. The lengths we go to… At least clean up is easy when you eat in the bath!

You LOVE having songs sung to you and it’s so fun to see how fast you’re learning motions to go with songs. You wave your arms around appropriately for “The Wheels on the Bus” and you stick your tongue in and out along with “Little Green Frog”. One night when getting you ready for bed I started singing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and your daddy noticed you moving your fingers. For a minute we weren’t sure what you were doing since it was a very similar motion to your attempt to do a crocodile “Snap!”.  Then we realised that you were doing the motion for “Twinkle, Twinkle” – something you had apparently learned in nursery! You also use the motions to request particular songs – including bobbing up and down on our laps to ask for “Pony Girl” and “This is the way the gentlemen ride” and “Horsey, Horsey”.

I taught you how to point to other people’s noses, and you take great delight in pointing out the nose on dolls, stuffed animals, pictures in books and especially mummy & daddy. One night when you were in the bath I made a comment about cleaning your dirty nose and you pointed right to your nose. When we said, “Yes! That’s your nose. Very good!” you pointed to your mouth and looked at us expectantly. When we named that your pointed to your ear. Apparently you had learned all of this just that day in nursery. What an impressive little girl!

I am so looking forward to this next year and witnessing you discover more and more of your world and learning how to respond to it and express yourself. You are our precious, beloved baby girl. I can hardly imagine my life without you in it. I love you so much, Elisabeth Soraya Clare!

Well, my beautiful girl. You have learned so many new things in the past month. You started doing the sign for “all done” at the end of a meal. Then you added “So big!” and waving “bye-bye” to your repertoir. Then you learned to do the sign for “more” (although your “more” looks a lot like your clapping – you do both by moving one curled hand into one open hand). You initiate peek-a-boo anytime you have something appropriate in your hands – including the bottom of your bib after I take your high chair tray away. You also know to clap when we sing, “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands” – and doing so elicits a huge grin from you.

You still don’t crawl or pull yourself up but you are getting awfully good at walking (with assistance). And whereas a month ago you would happily take a few tentative steps around when prompted by us, now you are actively asking to be pulled up onto your feet and are off and walking, often for relatively long distances. You just need improved balance and a little more confidence and you’ll be walking on your own.

You have gotten much more verbal in the last month – both in the variation of sounds you make and the frequency of them. So far the word you use correctly the most consistently is “Hi”. You say, “Dada” and “Daddy” a lot and sometimes they are definitely directed at your father, but you also use “Dada” for me and for other people or things that you like. You often say “Dada” when you look at the photos on the refrigerator and when you see pictures of yourself or look at yourself in the mirror.

Your favourite “toys” to play with are books. You LOVE books! You will sit and let us read 10+ books to you at a go and if there are books nearby when you are playing by yourself, you grab them and open them and try to page through them. It sometimes sounds like you are “reading” them out loud to yourself. If we are walking around with you and wander over to your basket of books you usually want to stop and try to pull books out of the basket. Your favourite books are still mostly those with flaps (which you are getting better and better at opening yourself) or different textures. We get a lot of books from the library because you seem to get bored of reading the same books over and over everyday.

Your other favourite thing to play with are refrigerator magnets. You love pulling them off and sticking them back on again. I put about half a dozen near the bottom of the refrigerator at your level. Sometimes I’ll sit you down by them while I’m doing things in the kitchen and you’ll happily entertain yourself with them for quite a while.

Eating has its ups and downs right now. There have been plenty of mealtimes when you throw more food on the floor than goes in your stomach. You will still reliably eat bananas and bread with peanut butter but anything else is a crapshoot. Some days you love cheese, other days it all goes on the floor. Same with melon and grapes. Some meals I wonder how you fit all that food in your tummy and other meals I’m fretting about how little you’ve actually consumed. I’m trying to be a little more relaxed about it all.

You now have three teeth – two on bottom and one on top! (It’s possible you have four at this point – it’s hard to get a good look/feel of your top gum.) The two bottom ones came through with almost no difficulty. You would hardly even know that you were popping out some teeth. And then came that top tooth along with three weeks of trauma. You would wail any time we tried to put you down, you were cranky a lot, you didn’t sleep well and turned into an early riser – sometimes waking up as early as 5:00 am. You had two weekends in a row with intermittent fever, listlessness and lots of sleeping. The two days before the tooth came through, we were really worried about you because you seemed so ill and miserable. We had an NCT class reunion and all you did most of the time was lie on your Daddy. And then the next morning you woke up much happier than you had been in weeks and – lo and behold – there was a new tooth. Since then you’ve once again been your old happy self, you can play contentedly on your own again (for a limited period of time – you’d much rather have Mummy or Daddy play with you), you are sleeping better and you’re not waking up so early anymore either. Your parents especially appreciate being able to sleep until 7:00-8:00 in the morning once again. We’re really hoping that all your subsequent teeth don’t cause that much drama. It’s exhausting and it’s really hard to see you so miserable!

Another big change in your life is that this week you’ve started going to nursery two afternoons a week. We’re easing in to daycare, primarily because I’m still looking for freelance work. But I think it’s a good thing for you to have more time around other kids as well as other adults. The nursery is very nearby (we can walk there in five minutes) and the staff seem really good and nurturing. I shed a few tears the first time I left you there on your own, but when I came to pick you up at the end of the afternoon you had obviously been having a good time.

You are getting more and more independent and you certainly have a will of your own. I already see the beginnings of a lot of typical “first born” traits in you. You are a remarkable kid, Elisabeth. I am so proud of you and I love you so much! (Now, you just need to learn to say “Mama”…)