Sunday, September 27, 2009

Eleven Months

Dear Peeper:

You are eleven months old today, and that is compeletely freaking me out because, next month?
Oh my God, how did you get to be almost a year old?!?

You are seeming like such a big girl these days, especially now that you've started signing a bit. It's just amazing being able to communicate with you, even in such a rudimentary way.

Well, I suppose we've actually been communicating since the day you were born, but it's getting to be so much more effective, now that you can (usually) tell me whether you want more food or want to get out of your highchair, for example, instead of me guessing what you're complaining about!

You now sign "more" and "all done" pretty consistently, but "more" still often means "read my mind and do whatever it is that I want right now," and you still often use it when you mean "all done."

You sign "milk" occassionally, but not very consistently.

Now that I think about it, though, I don't know why you'd be particularly motivated to use that sign, because of all the things you might want to communicate, "I'd like some goody now, please, Mama," is the one that you get across most effectively, and have done so for months!

Throwing your body sideways into my lap and chewing through my shirt seems to get the idea across just fine, so why would you suddenly change and start using a sign?

You also sign "doggy" on command, but I'm not sure whether you're signing it spontaneously, in context or not. It's a tough one to tell, because the sign is to pat your leg, like you're calling a dog, and that's a pretty natural gesture for you anyway.

A couple of times, it's looked like you might be almost trying to wave "bye-bye" but that's still very random.

You might be trying to clap, but it's hard to tell whether you're clapping, or signing "more" or just banging the objects in your hands together, because that's what you do now, if you're holding something in each hand.

Your "verbal" language is really coming along, too. You're making many more sounds, and are doing repetitive sounds a lot now (babababa, dadadada, mamamam).

At times, it sounds suspiciously like you are trying to say "Mama/Mommy" (usually "mumumum" but sometimes very clear "mama"), "goody" ("guhduh" or "geegee") and "doggy" (something with "d" and maybe "g" sounds) - but on the other hand, you also "say" those things completely out of context, too, so maybe I'm just imagining things.

Speaking of the doggies (as I sort of was), you looooove your doggies, especially BigGaloot, who loves you back. If I'm holding you when I let them in the house, you get all excited, and "jump" your legs up and down in my arms - much like you do when Mommy comes home from work. You still think Galoot's wagging tail is one of the funniest things ever.

I can tell that you want so badly to be able to chase him, and it won't be too very long before you can.

You can go go go while holding our hands, and within the past couple of days, you've started getting pretty good at walking while only holding one hand.

You are quite happy standing while holding onto furniture, and you occassionally forget yourself and let go with both hands, and a couple of times, you've even taken a step or two toward one of us, so I know you're starting to get the idea.

You don't seem to be in any big hurry though, and to be honest, for a while there I was a little concerned about the fact that you've been "stuck" at the walking-holding-hands stage for so long (you started doing it about ten weeks ago, and have been good at it for a couple of months) and haven't started really cruising yet, and you don't pull yourself up at all.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I was reading The Baby Book, by Dr. Sears, in which he described the typical progression of gross motor skills: sitting up, crawling, pulling up, cruising, walking holding hands, standing unsupported, taking steps, walking.

Oh. Hmmm. I guess it's not so much that you haven't reached those stages as it is that you've skipped them, right along with the crawling.

I guess that's why people seem so impressed when you do it. Evidently it's a more advanced skill that I'd realized.

You've always been about the "standing" even when you were just starting to be able to support your weight on your legs, so about the time you started sitting up well, we started helping you to stand and walk while holding our hands, and you discovered that you were able to get where you wanted to go quite quickly.

You don't have to get on your belly (which you hate with a white-hot passion) to do it, and you're not limited to places where there's something to hold on to, so why would you chose to crawl or cruise instead, if someone's available to help you walk?

I have noticed that if I "park" you standing up, holding onto something, and just watch out of the corner of my eye while I do something else, you often "cruise" a step or two, especially if there's something worth moving to get to. Sometimes I'll set you up, by parking you a couple of steps from a toy, then "ignoring" you.

But, if you know one of us is available, you're more likely to ask for our help in getting where you want to go, than to work your way over to it yourself.

Even with your new pushtoys (your convertible car that I just discovered, and also your animal safari truck has a handle you can push) you tend to push them across the room once or twice - with a huge grin on your face, I should add - and then grab our legs, asking to be picked up.

I think that, as exciting as they are, and as well as you're doing with them, physically, you're still not real confident with the whole idea, and need to come back for some snuggles and reassurance after a little independent jaunt across the room.

I don't suppose any of that should surprise me one bit, as it fits with how we do everything around here. You are a lot more used to depending on me and Mommy for things than on inanimate objects, and I think that's a good thing.

I know that when you are ready - physically and emotionally - to let go and walk on your own, you will, and when it happens, we will be both thrilled and terrified.

Your fine motor skills are continuing to develop, too. You seem to have the pincer grasp down, and can pick up not only Cheerios and raisins easily (although there is still often a juggle-scoop move to get them in your mouth) but also any and every "bob" of fur or paper or whatever that you find on the floor. Those also go right into your mouth.

I've been noticing, just in the past couple of days, that you seem to be turning the pages of Fuzzy Yellow Ducklings much more carefully and coordinatedly. Several weeks ago, I had to do some major taping of pages, because you'd found all the weak spots in the die-cut pages, and they were starting to tear as you turned them.

I can't quite say what you're doing differently, but now, you seem to be doing it in a way that's not quite so stressful for them, somehow.

Which is good, because it's one of your favorites, and I'd hate for you to tear it up.

Actually, you love all your books. When faced with a room full of both books and toys (or, in the case of our house, several rooms full of both books and toys), you more often go for the books.

You prefer the Readers' Digest versions of them, though. You like sit in our laps, on the floor, surrounded by piles of books. You will lean waaaay over, or we'll help you stand up, so that you can reach them, and you'll grab a book and plop back down in the lap.

As we try to read, you turn the pages really fast, sometimes stopping to feel the textures in the books that have them (you have several of those), or look at the pictures, but often barely even glancing at the pages as they go by.

We've pretty much given up on actually reading all the words to you, and usually just comment on the pictures, or summarize each page. I don't think you're in it for the story at this point.

When you get to the end of the book, you push it away, and grab another one. (There's usually some whining or at least "uh uh uh" involved.)

Then we "read" that book the same way. Then on to the next, and the next, and the next.

Sometimes, you go back and forth between the same three or four books, other times, you work your way through a whole pile of them.

You've definitely "learned" several of your books, because you go right to the textures, or flaps, or whatever it is that they have on each page. There are some books that you never read all the way through, always stopping and tossing them aside at the same point. I wish you could tell me why.

Just in the past couple of days, you've started pointing out (well, hitting actually) a few things in some books when asked.

You can almost always find the doggies, and you can sort of show me the bunny and monkey in one book, and babies in some other books.

But, if you don't know the answer to the question I've asked, you just change the subject. When I ask "Where's the . . . " you either pat it, or you shove the book aside and look for another one!

I'm not quite sure how to handle that, because I want you to know that it's okay to say, "I don't know," and ask for help finding the answers.

I know you're just a baby, but it's obvious that you understand tons of stuff that we're saying, so I think it's important that we model these things for you now, and help you to learn them from the beginning, rather than trying to change the way you deal with things later on.

As young as you are, you are already an expert at playing the "Mama said I could" / "But Mommy let's me," game with us. There are things that each of us has let you do or play with that the other doesn't like, either because we (I) think it's dangerous or likely to break something, or because we (I) don't want you to try to do it on your own later, or because we (I) just don't like doing it.

We only have to let you do something once for you to remember it forever.

For example, several weeks ago, I was helping you walk in the sunroom, and you went up to one of the big bowls of dogfood. You reached for it until I told you that it's "Not for Peeper, it's for doggies."

Then you very deliberately put your foot in the bowl. I thought it was kind of cool, watching you explore it with your foot, so I let you do it.

A few days later, I remembered and told Mommy about it. She said, "I know. I figured you must have let her do that, because now she tries everytime we go out there."


Speaking of Mommy, you're outside with her right now. I saw you swinging for quite a while, now you're walking around in the freshly mown grass. (Thanks for mowing, Mommy!)

You get so excited when she comes home from work, and (except for goody and naptime) you usually hang out with her most of the time that she's home.

(Thanks again, Mommy!)

A couple of weeks ago, Mommy suggested that we try something new at night, and we've instituted Family Bedtime.

Before that, what usually ended up happening is that Mommy would go on to bed while I stayed up and nursed you to sleep (maybe after playing for a while, if you weren't in a go-to-sleep mood yet), then I'd usually get involved in something on the computer for a while, and it would be another hour or so before I moved you to the bed and went to sleep myself.

Now, our "evening" (actually, it's the wee hours of the morning, thanks to Mommy's work schedule) routine is something like this:

Ideally, you are up from your last nap (usually your third, but sometimes you take a later, longer first nap, and only have two) before 11:00, but sometimes you go down late, and I let you sleep for a while. I really, really should have you up absolutely no later than 11:30, but sometimes I let you go as late as midnight. I usually regret that.

So, let's say that you've woken up from your nap at a respectible time.

Then, I generally suggest that you nurse around 12:30 or so, so you'll be "all goodied up" when Mommy gets in, but that doesn't always happen.

Mommy comes home between 12:45 and 1 am, and after she's greeted the dogs, and jammied up, you play with her while I have a snack and take a hot bath, all by myself.

Then, I run out most of my hot water, and add a little cold, and get the tub ready for you to join me.

Mommy brings you in to me, and I get you bathed while she checks her email and such.

First, I wash your hair, and your back, then I lay you in my lap and soap up the rest of you. I rinse you off (you like that, except for rinsing your hair) then sit you back up in the water to play.

While you're playing, you take your iron supplement. A few weeks ago, Mommy came up with the idea of giving it to you in the tub, so we wouldn't have to worry about the mess when you spit it back out. (It's a dark brown, and stain clothes.)

The first few time, it was a fight, but then you suddenly started taking it willingly. Now, you just open your mouth, I squirt it in, and you swallow. A little bit always dribbles back out, but not much. Sometimes you want a little sip of goody to kill the nasty taste, but not always. I usually hand you one of the washcloths that's floating around in the tub, which you chew on for a while, wiping the vitamins off your mouth and chin.

When we're done in the tub, I hand you out to Mommy, and she gets your diaper on while I put on my jammies.

Then we brush your teeth, which is a team effort. Either Mommy or I uses the finger brush, and you use the real toothbrush and we take turns. We try our best to get your six actual teeth brushed, while you prefer to chew on the bristles with your gums. I'll bet that feels really good on them!

After your teeth are brushed, it's jammy time. Usually, Mommy gets the dogs, cats and house ready for bed, while I get your jammies on, which often involves some goody and acrobatics.

Finally, it's bedtime!

Mommy reads you books, while you go back and forth between lying between us nursing and sitting up watching the books. Right now, the bedtime books are: The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss; Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You, also Dr. Seuss; and The Going To Bed Book by Sandra Boynton.
(And, every night, Mommy and I wonder why the animals all get bathed and jammified, and then go up to exercise before going to bed. That makes no sense.)

Sometime, she also reads you a longer Dr. Seuss story from the big anthology that Anonygrandma and Anonygrandpa gave you for Christmas.

From that, I like The Dr. Seuss Sleep Book, because Anonymama used to read it to me and Uncle BabyBro when we were wee tots, and even back then, I thought it must have some magical sleepy-making powers.

After the animals on the boat rock, and rock, and rock to sleep, we're finished reading, and it's time to settle down for goody. Mommy turns out the light, and usually does Are You My Mother, then we sing for a while. Sometimes for a long while.

We always start with The Wheels on the Bus, because you really seem to like it. We are getting rather sick of it, but we keep it fresh by adding more and more verses each night, which often tend to get less and less baby-appropriate.

In addition to bus parts (wheels, windows, wipers, brakes, etc.), and riders (babies, mamas, mommies), and their belongings ("the iPods on the bus go lalala," and "the cellphones on the bus go ringringring"), your bus also has lots of animals on it, all making their own sounds.

It's quite a bus, and it's no wonder than one night you heard, "The people on the bus say 'What the fuck? What the fuck? What the fuck?' The people on the bus say, "What the fuck is up with all these animals?"

I think you were asleep by the time we got to that verse. I hope.

After the bus rolls on down the road, we usually sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Baa Baa Black Sheep and the ABC Song. We treat them as three verses of the same song because they all have the same tune.

Do you know I was an adult before I realized that? See, you're already smarter than me!

By that point, Mommy is fading, so I take over with some camp songs, starting with our traditional good-night trilogy of Green Trees, Taps and Run Along Home, with a few modified lyrics, then I move on to Wee Baby Moon, Where Does the Wind Come From, Desert Silvery Blue (which Mommy sings along to parts of, because she likes it), Walk Shepherdess Walk, and more, if necessary.

On a good night, you're asleep by then.

On a bad night. Well, I've written about a few bad nights lately, but I think that's mostly because you're still not 100% recovered from your cold.

Last night was a good night. You settled right down and were asleep within about twenty minutes of lights-out.

Sometimes I think it would be faster to just nurse you in front of the computer, like we still do for naps (you're usually out in a couple of minutes) but I think I'm getting to sleep earlier this way and, even when you're up for a while, it's very nice to all be together in bed.

I know Mommy would get to sleep sooner if you and I were doing our own thing, and I've offered to go back to that, but she's said that it's worth staying up a bit later to have that time together, and I have to agree.

Mommy and I were just talking the other day about how glad we are that we've chosen the parenting path that we have, and how happy it makes us to snuggle in bed with you, and to wear you, and - for me - to nurse you, and so on.

We wouldn't have it any other way, and we wouldn't have you any other way.

Well, except maybe less stuffy and snotty and still-feel-a-little-yucky-cranky.

Actually, I'd be happier if we were all a little less stuffy and snotty and still-feel-a-little-yucky-cranky.

But, other than that, you're just perfect.

Happy damn-near-a-year, my love.



  1. Beautiful, as always. You know though, in addition to starting to censor some of your, um, verses, you may need to do a bit of editing if you actully let her read the "Dear Peeper Chronicles" before she is an adult...

  2. I never realized that they were the same tune!

    Happy Monthaversary, Peeper!! Grandma and Grandpa love you.

  3. It's great to hear about Peeper's signing and language development!

    Here's a link to a video dictionary and a printable poster with signs for cold and flu season:

    Best wishes,
    The gang at Baby Signs, Inc.


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