Here we are, back in wet and windy Hamilton, New Zealand. But when Maria “turned” 15 months – and I turned twice as many years as she turned months – we were in sunny Australia! We spent nine lovely days in the country’s Gold Coast, about which I will write more soon. But let’s first recap this last month with our little cutie.
Language & Communication Skills
And boy is she cute, although as always I am completely biased. This last month we mainly noticed big jumps in Maria’s language and communication skills. She started saying a few words, some of which are only understood by us. One example is “kaka” of “kak” when she shows us something, meaning “look” (“kijk” in Dutch). Another word is “hawa” when she picks up a (imaginary) phone. The word is Arabic for “wind”, but probably she is trying to say “hala” or “hello”.
Following months of practice she is finally waving her hand while saying bye when someone is leaving. Or actually she is waving and saying bye all the time – sometimes to us, sometimes to strangers, and occasionally just to herself.
From a very young age, Maria has been a real chatterbox, and her conversations are getting more real and animated by the day. She loves talking on the phone and does it all the time. We wonder who taught her that. Both Ahmed and I don’t call that much (or so we think). Maria also started “reading” her books out loud. It is just so funny to hear her imitate sounds we make when reading to her.
But her communication skills are best when it comes to mealtimes. There is no doubt about it – Maria knows what she wants and does not want to eat. If we give her the wrong food she shakes her head vigorously while saying a clear “nee” or “no”. She then points to the thing she wants. Her favorite foods vary from week to week, but at the moment she loves banana, dates, yogurt, carrot, avocado, tomato and plain spaghetti.
All these new communication skills are not to say that she is not also developing her gross motor skills. Her walking has become much steadier, and she is now practicing stair climbing. She still uses her knees most of the time, but a few times we saw her putting her foot directly on the steps. Going down, on the other hand, is still a little tricky without our help.
Every now and then (or rather several times each day) Ahmed and I wonder how the “terrible twos” are going to be – one or several tantrums are already part of each day. A quick look on the Baby Center website puts me at ease; apparently, power struggles – when changing her diaper, putting her in the stroller/car seat/high chair, or while brushing her teeth – are completely normal. I quote: “Rigid, contrary behaviour shows that your child is beginning to understand a huge concept: she’s a separate person from you.” (Source)
Call me superstitious, but whenever I write down or tell someone how good Maria’s sleep has been she immediately proves me that she can still wake up multiple times a night. In my 14 months update I wrote how we struggled with her sleep, and the fifteenth month pretty much continued on the same note, until we decided to visit the Family Centre, a service that supports and advises parents of babies with sleep and feed issues.
As we had expected, they advised us to stop the night feeds altogether and let Dad go into the room when Maria woke up. It would probably cause a couple of rough nights, but after that Maria would sleep through the night, they reassured us.
It was as if Maria had understood what was going on, because that night she slept without waking up at all. The second night she woke up, Ahmed went into her room, and she almost immediately fell asleep in his arms again. The following day, however, we travelled to Australia, which messed up our entire routine. The fact that we didn’t have a proper cot for Maria did not help, either.
Long story short, we had a few rough nights – rough especially for Ahmed, who had to go to her whenever she started to cry – but eventually, things seemed to settle down. By way of compromise we accepted the 5-am wakings, which, we justified, were probably a result of the two-hour difference between Australia and New Zealand. The result was that we started our days fresh and early. On several occasions, I gazed at the clock showing me it was 8 a.m. and we had already watched sunrise, gone for a run, showered, and eaten our breakfast. (The flip side is that we got ready to go to bed around 9/9:30 p.m., but I didn’t mind that at all.)
So, for not wanting to reveal too much about Maria’s sleep in fear of jinxing myself again I think I wrote quite a bit! It is just a topic you can never talk enough about (as any parent with a baby or toddler will confirm), and it is a fixed part of any conversation you have with other parents with young kids.
There is, without a doubt, much more I could tell about our life with a 15-month old. Perhaps I should go back to weekly updates. Only, the times I can actually sit down and write have become quite sparse. There is no way I can get my laptop out and write when Maria is around, so I have to keep it (and plenty of other things I like or need to do) for when she is asleep. I do hope to write a post about our trip to Gold Coast soon, so stay tuned for that! Plus, I think it’s time for another training update. It’s been ages I wrote about that.