Saturday, March 31, 2007

Dear Fern (Part XIV)

Dear Fern,

Sometime this month, you made the transition into "little girl." We can't put our finger on exactly what we mean by that, but we know it's true.

You're talking a lot more. You pick up words with ease, although you don't always remember them for very long. We'd think you were just mimicking us if not for the fact that pretty frequently, you'll bring the word back a few days later, unprompted.

While it's fun hearing you say all these new words, our enjoyment pales in comparison with your excitement at being able to communicate what you want. It's a little like being in a foreign country: you use a combination of pointing, the few words you know in English or sign, and some very focused grunting to get your meaning across.

Here's an actual conversation you had with your mom the other day:

"I'd like some food," you said.
"Oh?" answered mommy. "What would you like?"
"Cereal, please."
"Ah, I'll get the cereal out, then."
"With milk," you added, politely.

Maybe you think I'm exaggerating your lucidity. It's true we translate a little bit for you, but not that much. You're very well spoken.

A beautiful spring has hit San Francisco, which means we're doing big outings at least once a week. You love the beach and the zoo, and we spent a memorable day in the park with some new friends. I'm learning that you resemble us when it comes to travel: you like going to beautiful and interesting places, but once you're there, you have no need to sight-see. You don't need to experience every animal at the zoo, and a pigeon is just as good as an eagle. And one good lawn at the botanical garden is enough for an afternoon's experience... no need to see everything.

Thanks in part to these long morning outings, you're down to a single nap per day. You'll stay up for about five or six hours after you get up in the morning, then go to sleep for up to two hours. This has been a fantastic thing for us... we can really get out there and experience life when you're able to go that long. Your napping has been incredibly easy, too: once, after a particularly exhausting day when we visited mommy at work, you actually fell asleep in the car! (I know, to other parents this doesn't seem like a big thing, but it's a rarity for you.) Even more amazing, you stayed asleep as I parked the car, transferred you to the stroller, rolled you a block to our house (crossing a busy intersection as we did it), decanted you from the stroller, carried you upstairs, changed your diaper, and put you in your crib. Good nap!

You are having a little bit of trouble at night, waking for sometimes an hour or even more at 3 or 4 a.m. We're not sure why, although we suspect that your erupting molars are one possibility. We've also had luck feeding you extra right before bedtime, so it's possible you're just waking up a little hungry sometimes. Still, it's a big improvement over the multiple awakenings that were happening even just a few weeks ago, and we're hopeful that once those teeth come in we'll be able to get back to sleeping through the night.

Walking, which you've been doing for over two months now, has finally entered the realm of "second nature." I no longer have to worry when you're in head-banging range of something, which is a relief. I think it's done wonders for your self-confidence, too, to realize that you can get somewhere, experience the new place, and then get up and come back to us, all without any particular help.

So I guess what we mean by "little girl" is that your gifts for interacting with the world have developed to the point where you're asserting your own being more often than not. Honestly, it's just a little bit frightening to contemplate the entirety of the path that you've started out on, but at the same time we're jazzed to see you taking it!

We love you very, very much.


Mommy & Daddy

Monday, March 12, 2007

Weathering the weather

San Francisco has gotten warm and wonderful this week, so we decided to go out and enjoy our lunch alfresco in the playground. Fern had no trouble adapting to a summery lifestyle: kick your feet up, eat a strawberry, and watch the birds do all the work!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Two and a half feet!

Just a quick note to report on this week's one-year physical checkup. Fern passed with flying colors and all her stats are in pretty much the same deciles as before: 75th percentile height, 90th percentile weight, and somewhere just over the chart lines for head size. So, at 30.5 inches, Fern has crossed the two-and-a-half foot mark for good!

Many of you will remember the friend in the photo as our former roommate (and wedding cake designer) Laurel, who still comes over to hang with the family every week or so and also blogs all about her gourmet lifestyle, here.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Dear Fern (part XIII)

Dear Fern,

I have really enjoyed using the nice round term "a year" when people ask how old you are. You're doing everything a good one-year old should: your walking is coming along really well, you pick up new words (in English and sign language) nearly daily, and you're discovering new skills (like dumping things out of other things).

This month, though, I am paying special attention to your emotional development. It's been a challenging month for us, with difficulties facing many in our family and loved ones. So maybe I'm projecting, but I imagine that your sentiments about and toward others are starting to emerge.

One day this month, at the playground, you encountered a ball-stealer. (These are fairly common in the one-year old set, and you, in fact, play the role pretty frequently yourself!) In this instance, you didn't cry out or lunge after your stolen property, but you didn't disconnect and move on, either. You just looked at the other baby with an impenetrable expression. You showed that you were annoyed, certainly, but it was mixed with a question, almost a sense of wonder about this other being and his actions. It seemed as if you were trying to figure out why anyone would snatch a ball like that.

Do one-year olds ask these kinds of "Why" questions? I have no idea. I expect I'm grownupopomorphizing. But there was definitely something there. Other examples float up in my memory, too… You've started hugging both me and your mom a lot more without being prompted, often when you don't seem to be either seeking comfort or hiding. You’ll be playing in the living room when suddenly you turn, hug your mom or me, and then go on with what you were doing. It’s pretty charming.

At the playground, you're over your stranger anxiety. You approach other parents, climb on them, even hug them... not quite as often as some of the other kids do, but a couple of times a day. At home, you're suddenly very attentive to dolls (and stuffed animals, to some degree). You have two baby bottles that you feed them with, and if a doll isn't handy, you feed me or your mom. Or the cat.

It's hard to predict your adult personality from what we see now, but one thing seems clear: you're going to be cheerful. Thoughtful too, I'll bet. And pretty curious. Not without tearful episodes, unfortunately, but always consolable. (You’ve started complaining and even crying a lot more this month when you don’t get what you want.)

After that, though, the signs of your future persona become hazier. Will you like animals, sports, dolls, or trucks? (All of the above, at the moment.) It seems equally likely from this distant vista that you’ll be a novelist, a sorghum farmer, or a professional roller derby skater.

Whatever will be, will be. We’re sure having a great time watching as you figure it out, though.

Much love,

Mommy & Daddy

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Fort California

California living

Fern and I got to play "fort" the other day. She's still a little unsure about it: she seems to like the idea of being inside the cavern we constructed, but pretty quickly scoots out. Good thing she did, too, because as you can see, our building collapsed immediately afterward. Living in earthquake-prone California, I guess we'd probably better teach Fern a very important new phrase: unreinforced masonry building!