I find my eyes doing a lot of brimming lately when I talk about… (wait, let me grab the kleenex)… this perfect little baby girl turning one. My emotions are, as a friend put it, right below the surface.
Nothing will particularly change when Skyler turns one today, but the marker of time feels especially bittersweet when that time—that wonderful, precious time—has gone by so fast. And our family is complete with her, so there’s that, too. Every milestone is passed with celebration, but also with a sigh: “it’s the last first.”
But it’s also just the beginning! And every day, as with the Grinch who stood watching Whoville erupt in song, our hearts grow in size. She’s just so amazing.
At this, her first birthday, Skyler is a happy baby. She’s a social baby. She smiles freely and often, and she also smiles to court favor. She smiles when you smile, and she smiles when she’s doing something she shouldn’t. It’s effective, and she’s figuring that out.
Aron has remarked that his favorite moment is when she sees you again after a long absence… “when I come home from work she greets me with a beaming smile and then quickly scurries over with her foot and knee crawl so that she can be picked up.”
That “foot-and-knee crawl” is so funny. She drags one knee like a peg-leg, making a funny smacking rhythm with her palms as she careens down the hall (usually to follow Hudson into his room or to make a dash toward the water heater before we swoop in to close the laundry-room door, causing a wail of protest).
She frequently has something in her hands—sticks, straws, and the like are her preference. She enjoys sorting boxes and has put away Hudson’s trains or legos for him on a few occasions (sometimes a bit prematurely for his taste). The other night she put away at least two-thirds of Hudson’s sprawling train tacks and cars while Hudson and Aron had their backs turned. She’s just started to make little stacks of blocks—two or three is the most she’ll manage before accidentally knocking them down. Anything else she finds, she’s likely to try and wrap behind her head. We’ve laughed at how she’s the cliché baby on the cord-hazard warning. If she spots a string or a cord, she will hold it up and reach behind her head to lay it across her shoulders, hoping to take off wearing it like a necklace. But it’s not just small items: she’ll do it with a sweater I’ve left on the floor. (Fear not, we’re always closely watching—and safe-guarding.)
Before the cord issue, the biggest danger we’d warn any caregiver about was trying to sneak rocks out of planters. She likes to reach into potted plants and feel the dirt, or—in some cases—the rocks we’d stacked on top to prevent the dirt from being carried away when Hudson was younger.
She likes to climb, and practices getting onto, through, and under our woven-leather chairs with a great deal of frequency. We would repeat the same phrase as we used with Hudson “belly down, feet first” to show her the safest dismount, but it felt like she had it figured out herself in no time. She worries us a bit when she gets on the couch, however. Though she can climb on and off with ease, she gets so excited about sitting up top that she starts bouncing on her knees and treating it like a small trampoline—standing and squatting and then suddenly squealing with exuberant delight, a real display of physicality.
While Skyler was quick to roll and stand, she shows little interest in standing without assistance or in trying to walk. There have been a few times where she’s had both hands occupied and, without noticing, has stood unassisted. And she loves to walk while pushing carts and chairs around. But she’d much rather crawl.
She clearly has little conversations with us sometimes, but so far the only thing that it’s clear that she’s saying is “hi doggy.” I’m not sure I would have recognized the words out of context, but it’s clear as day when she spots him: she clicks with her tongue and waves or points and says “hi doggy!” The rest of the conversation involves a lot of dadada, and bababa but also “up” and “yea.” She has, however, just started to sing to herself. She dances by swaying or by clasping her hands and rocking her arms from side to side whenever music comes on, and she has just started to sing. (In fact, we took her on her first bike ride this past weekend and she was singing the whole time!)
And her giggle! Anybody will tell you, the sound of your baby laughing is the best sound in the world. But hers must rank pretty high up there! Hudson tries tickling her constantly and she laughs and laughs.
I’ve started taking her to Music Together classes on Fridays and she just looks amazed at all the singing and instruments. Next week I’ll start taking her to a weekly baby gymnastics class: “Diaper Daredevils.”
She loves to gives high fives and mimics a lot—from blowing raspberries to making a barely audible pow-wow noise by moving her spread little hand against her mouth. And she’ll show you where things go: like holding her shoe against her foot.
When it comes to eating, being neat is not Skyler’s forte. We basically remove all of her clothes such that the majority of her meals are consumed in just her diaper and a bib. She’s interested in trying everything, but don’t even think about trying to take a spoon from her hand to help her. She will not stand for your charity! (Though she loves sharing her food, and tries to put things into other peoples mouths.) As a result, we find ourselves trying to choose things she can hold and chew. She has six teeth—four on the top and two little sharp ones on the bottom—and she’s pretty good at using them.
In fact, when she’s hungry, she will start trying to bite my chin!
When corrected for “bad” behavior (this and, more often, her tendency to throw or drop food from the side of her chair), she mimics our “no-no Skyler” by giving a very serious shake of her head (and then, usually, she smiles and tries again). I’m reminded about babies being the best scientists: she repeats and repeats, trying to isolate exactly the variable which is the “no.” “Can I touch the box with the remote controls? Can I grab them? Can I bang them against the table? Are you sure? Are you really sure? It’s that last part you’re sure about?”
She’s not as easy on planes as Hudson was (go to sleep for heaven’s sake!), but she’s pretty easy-going in the car. One day, Skyler will probably complain that we took her so many places before she could remember them: this year she traveled to Florida, the Pacific Northwest, Hawaii, Italy and to various parts of California.
She loves her brother and her doggy, of course. She also loves her babysitter, Desmona, who spends many mornings with her while I work. When she sees pictures of things she likes—like these folks… or fuzzy bunny rabbits, or grandparents—she sometimes leans in to give the picture a kiss (an open-mouth face-plant, really, but that’s splitting hairs). She’s actually incredibly cuddly and comes in for snuggles and hugs often or will lay in your lap to get her back stroked. Desmona has mentioned that she strokes Skyler’s cheek at nap time, and Skyler will motion to ask her to do it more in return.
It is frankly hard to imagine how Skyler could be any sweeter. As her parents, I know we are completely biased, but she is truly and perpetually charming.
Skyler, we love you so much!
Happy, happy first birthday.
Update: A seventh tooth popped through the morning of her birthday. She weighs 19b, 9.2oz and measures 2 feet, 6.47 inches tall. (47th percentile in weight, and 90th percentile in height—much like Hudson at year one.)