Gracelyn turns 13 months old today and has attained a number of milestones:
- At her 12-month check up, Gracelyn weighed 19 pounds, six ounces (20th to 30th percentile) and was 30 inches long (80th to 90th percentile).
- She’s now walking quite well and made it all the way from our mailbox back to our home yesterday, a walk of at least 200 yards.
- Gracelyn has a vocabulary approaching 10 words, including cat, ball, mama, dada, baby, peeka-peeka (peek-a-boo) and bye-bye. She even strung her first (and so far only) sentence so far—“Mama bye-bye.”
- She also uses a number of signs, including eat, more, all done, nurse, potty, hat, flower, good-bye, throwing kisses and no. She can also sign for spider, frog, and fish, and she says “moo” if you ask her what sound a cow makes.
Like most parents, we think our child is absolutely remarkable. Gracelyn is a funny, perceptive, observant, curious, engaging, trusting, compassionate, secure, resilient, self-possessed, fearless child who makes what she wants very clear. And not that we don’t hit bumps from time to time, but times with her are typically playful and fun-filled. She has a great sense of humor and laughs and squeals with exuberance when she’s delighted about something.
Gracelyn also enjoys playing with her collection of balls—throwing them, kicking them, rolling them back and forth to us. And she is enthralled with our feline family members, crying out “cah, cah” and walking over to pet them whenever they come in from outdoors. Bandit, Desmond and Kaali have been extremely loving and patient with Gracelyn as she’s learned how to gently express her love toward them. She revels in her bike rides with Shonnie. And Gracelyn really loves peek-a-boo—with us, with the cats and even with strangers.
Like her parents, Gracelyn is also a book person. She enjoys picking out books for us to read to her and she spends time looking through her books by herself. She and Shonnie read several books each evening as part of their bedtime ritual. We’re very fortunate to have a huge collection of children’s books—gifts from friends and relatives, some from Shonnie’s childhood and many from Shonnie’s mom, Cora Sue, who was a teacher and aspiring children’s book author.
Some of the things we’ve learned in the past 13 months
- Babies thrive when they are physically and emotionally close to their parents, especially their mothers, and this is very important early on. It’s the way humans and other mammals have done it for hundreds of thousands of years, that is until we started intellectualizing parenting and designing ways to be with our offspring for our own convenience.
- Babies do best when they sleep with their parents, snuggled up nice and close. And, no, we have no fear of rolling over onto Gracelyn. We’re very aware of her presence even when we’re sleeping.
- To be strong and healthy, babies do best with the sustenance that’s perfect for them—mama’s breast milk, and they need it on demand, not on some contrived schedule. However, early on Gracelyn also wanted to eat what we were eating at mealtime, so with a few exceptions, that’s exactly what she now gets (in addition to the usual breast milk).
- Babies dislike sitting around in wet and poopy diapers. For that reason, we taught Gracelyn to signal when she needs to use the potty, and she usually roams around at home bare bottomed.
- Babies and toddlers need to explore their environment, even when the parents are uncomfortable with it. This includes putting almost everything they come across in their mouths to see how it tastes and feels. Among other objects, Gracelyn has had river rocks, mulch, acorns, grass and weeds and dry cat food in her mouth and (to the best of our knowledge) has swallowed none of it.
- Crying indicates that there is a need to be met—hunger, too much/too little stimulation, fatigue, etc.—and we want Gracelyn to know that we are trustworthy, loving, caring, reliable and intend to respond to her needs as soon possible. Thus leaving her to “cry it out” is not an option.
Of course, we’re also learning about the complexities of living as a triad rather than a dyad. But more about that in a later post.