I feel like Natalie's development -- gross motor skills, fine motor skills, verbal skills, personality -- has really been taking off lately. Here's a little window into our present normal.
I know this is destined to end shortly, but this week Natalie has been waking up at 7 a.m. and then calmly lying in her crib until 8 a.m. This is absolutely amazing. She is happy to roll around and talk to herself and play with her stuffed animal, so I have been doing something I have wanted to do for over 11 months: take a shower first thing in the morning. Rather than waiting until her first nap of the day to shower and change clothes, doing this at the start of the day makes me feel like I'm more productive simply by being in different clothes and not looking horrible. Thank you, Natalie.
I think we are in the final pre-walking days. For the past month, but especially for the past week, Natalie has been standing on her own for increasingly long periods of time. She's not holding on to furniture or me. I try not to make a big deal to her about the fact that she's standing because I feel like she doesn't even realize what she's doing, and often when that moment of realization sets in she'll plop back down on the floor. I keep trying to coax her into walking to me. She is almost there.
Natalie's awareness of others seems to be increasing. She likes to hand me books and toys, particularly her blocks from a new favorite toy (this Melissa and Doug Shape Sorting Cube). I keep saying "thank you" and using the word "sharing," but I also know we will hit the toddler "mine" stage somewhere down the road. I think our play group helps Natalie with the concept of sharing, but she is also known to gladly take toys right out of the hands of her little friends, so I know this will be an ever-developing skill. In the last week Natalie has started feeding me Cheerios. If you want to witness something heart-melting, see the smile on my baby's face when she puts a Cheerio in my mouth. It is my second favorite new thing she does.
But, speaking of food, this has been a major source of tension these last few days. Many foods that Natalie gladly ate in large quantities are no longer cool with her right now. These foods can be homemade or store-bought, they can be finger foods or purees, they can be healthy or not-so-healthy -- it really doesn't matter, she's not interested. I hear this is a phase and we appear to be in it.
I've been pointing at pictures and words in books for all of Natalie's life, and now she is starting to mimic this action. Watching her "read" her books has been quite entertaining.
Another heart-melting moment came last Friday when Natalie started saying "mama." Although I wish she didn't exclusively say this when crying (and therefore turn it into "mamamamamaa mama") I appreciate the cuteness of the fact that she seems to be aware of me and my name.
Hands down Natalie's best trick is dancing. It started last week when we were listening to music while feeding her dinner, and Matt and I started throwing our hands up in the air. Natalie started throwing her hands in the air, and we kept repeating, "Let's dance! Let's dance!" Then a day later Natalie started dancing by bobbing her head from side to side any time one of her musical toys started playing. Now, most of the time, she will dance on command with some combination of head bobbing, arm throwing, knee bouncing, giggling and squealing. Sometimes I feel like I'm treating Natalie like a sideshow monkey when I tell her to dance, but watching her sheer joy is overwhelmingly worth it. It is my absolute favorite.