Thursday, February 3, 2011

Dear Violet,

These past few months have been a whirlwind of excitement for your growing mind!  You've bursted out with talking so well lately, and have soaked up and enjoyed learning so many new things.  It's brought me unbelievable joy to watch you learn.  I had no idea how rewarding this part would be.

You were always ahead of the game (or right on track) with all your accomplishments (sitting up at 4 months, crawling at 7 months, walking at 10 months, etc.), and it's just kept going since you've turned one.  Once you decided to try repeating words after us, you just exploded into repeating everything (including the phrase "butt call" after Nana said it... it was pretty hilarious).  You made another breakthrough yesterday when you put your first independent thought together: "funny Nana."  It was the first time you put two words together completely on your own to communicate a thought.  It was so exciting!  And Nana was being funny!  You've also started "using your words" to tell me what you want, rather than just grunting, which is so beneficial to both of us!

Another smartie pants thing we've been working on lately- animals and their sounds.  You love love love Emma- she's your best friend, so I thought that would be a natural place to start, and you've absolutely blown me away with how fast you're learning!  You now can correctly point to several farm/zoo animals on a chart when asked (you still get cows and horses mixed up, but that's understandable- they do look alike), and we're working on their sounds.  You get "meow" every time, and your favorite is the lion's "roar!"  We have a membership to the zoo, which is so perfect because it's only a few blocks away so we can go at a moment's notice and not feel like we have to spend the whole day or see everything.  You've always enjoyed our trips there, but when we went this past Sunday (our first visit since our animal sounds activities), it was so much fun.  Rather than just going and getting energy out and having fun looking at generic "animals," you were enthralled in seeing the "monteys" (monkeys) and your eyes conveyed so clearly that you were connecting the dots with our 'lessons.'  Sundays are also a fun day to go to the zoo, because it seemed much more interactive than any other time we've been.  We got to go in the Lorikeet cage (what I thought were parrots), and they were landing on my shoulder and head, and you got such a kick out of seeing the birds, they were beautiful!  I was afraid you would maybe freak out about them being so close, but you didn't at all.  We also got to pet the elephants!  Three zookeepers stood in between the 2 elephants and let people come up and ask questions and pet them.  It was interesting for me too!  You sort of quickly "brushed" them more than actually petting, but you did like pointing to their ears and eyes.  We also got a really close look at one of the lions, because it was laying against the viewing glass!  We had fun "roaring" at it...

(These photos are from my phone, so they're not the best, but they work!)

Watching the orangutan sleeping.

The lion was a lot closer than this just a minute before...

Who's that adorable little girl???

I searched Youtube for an animal sounds kid video (to expand just using our books) to help you learn, and I stumbled on a channel called "KidsTV123," and I am so grateful I found it!  There are so many shows and videos for kids that are incredibly annoying and don't give kids enough credit, or are so busy and loud and high energy that it doesn't keep anyone's attention (I think some of them actually give kids ADD!  They give me a headache!).  These videos are educational but are also really nice songs to listen to (which is great for me, who has to listen to them all the time now).  You are OBSESSED with your "dame" you call it (I call a little toddler app on my phone your "game," so you call these videos that too). Every morning you run up and climb onto my chair saying "dame, dame, dame?"  These videos are about letters, numbers, colors, animals, etc, and a few songs like "5 Little Monkeys" (which is one of your very favorite things in your whole world) and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."  There's also "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes," which is another one of your favorites, and you now know where your head, shoulders, knees and toes are (as well as the parts of your face, your belly button, and your booty- which you're pretty interested in pointing out to people...  "booty?"  as you grab your booty...  it's hilarious).  The songs are sung by a British guy (I think), and I'd liken his voice to Neil Diamond (not nearly his caliber, but it's similar in my opinion.... wait, you probably don't even know who Neil Diamond is right now... he's even a little before my time).

Let's see, what else can I brag about?  You're starting to want to feed yourself... to the point that you freak out (screaming and shaking!) if I try to help when you spill all your food all over your lap.  You definitely have an independent streak!  You love phones.  You have a few play phones and love to play with other peoples' real phones.  You walk around babbling with it on your shoulder like you're super busy...

You're starting to get interested in dressing yourself, although you still need my help for the most part.  You like to use a stool or one of your chairs to climb up to the sink to "wash your hands" and brush your teeth (or get into my salt box, or open and shut the microwave, or grab any and every thing you can get your hands on...).

You are the most affectionate little girl!  You give spontaneous hugs all the time, and they're spectacular.  You wrap your arms around my neck and squeeze with such passion!  If I could choose between the world's wealth and your hugs, I'd take your hugs every time.  You also give kisses, but not as often.  Most of your kisses are "paci kisses," with your paci still in your mouth.  You just lean in and press your paci against my lips...  it's pretty funny.  You think it counts.  You're really interested in shoes.  You put your, mine and daddy's shoes on and walk around the house, and most of the time when I find you've put on someone's shoes, they're on the right feet!  I refuse to believe it's a coincidence.  You also like us to wear shoes.  You'll bring me a pair of boots (right now you really like my boots) and whine and whine until I put them on.

I can't even think of a list of all your words, because you just repeat EVERYTHING we say, so it's past the list stage!  You even make up some of your own words that you like to say over and over around the house.  "Boodita" and "Beeta" are your two favorites right now.  I'm pretty sure you're just such a genius you're part speaking Spanish- when you say "boodita" you mean "small booty," and "Bitte" is German for "you're welcome!"  You even say the "t" with your tongue against your teeth like a German.  See how smart you are?  Well, okay, maybe you don't know Spanish and German (yet), but you are learning how to count to 10 in Italian!  

Another thing that we've been doing lately is "Time Out!"  No child can grow up without getting in trouble, and I knew you'd be no exception.  Growing up is about testing boundaries and learning what behaviors are acceptable... when you can react instinctively and freely and when you should restrain yourself and act unselfishly.  I respect that part of the process, so I see discipline as something that is actually positive (when done the right way, of course), because it will make you a better person for it, and you'll thank me later (hopefully...).  Right now, you are counting on me and daddy 100% to show you how to behave in this world, and I can't let you down, even if you try to make me.  True to your beautiful, smart nature, you almost seem to understand this process too, in a way.  When you're sent to Time Out, with exactly 2 exceptions (the first ever Time Out, and a particularly sassy evening), you sit in the chair the entire time until I give you permission to get up.  When you get up, you come give me a hug (I used to ask for it, but now you just know) and we talk again about why you went to Time Out.  You rarely cry or whine while you're in the chair, it's more of a "Eh, fair enough" look on your face.  It's so hard not to smile at you, but I have to keep my game face on!  We started Time Out around 15 or 16 months, and you already respond BEAUTIFULLY to the threat of it.  It's incredible.  I can tell you 4 times to put something down, and you completely ignore me, but as soon as I say, "either put that down, or go to Time Out," you immediately put it down.  I don't use the threat often for fear that it will stop working so well.  I also NEVER want to tell you you're "BAD," because that's not a label I ever want to put on my child.  You are good.  Every little tiny atom that makes up who you are is good.  Instead I say "Good girls don't (insert bad behavior description here), and you're a good girl, so you can't do that."  I haven't read this theory in any book or anything, I just don't feel comfortable putting that thought in your head, because I know too many adults who can't get that feeling out of their heads, and it's done some terrible things to them.  You have such potential, and I feel like my role is SO HUGE in seeing that you have the foundation to see that for yourself and to try your best to reach it.  I hope I don't blow it.  I know we'll both make mistakes along the way, but I hope you grow up knowing that every thing I do regarding raising you is out of love and respect.      

I Love You,

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