So here we go again: 21 months, only three months until her second birthday – eek! Maria spent this whole month in Holland, where we celebrated Sinterklaas and her second Christmas, among other things.
While we spent Maria’s first Christmas in New Zealand with just the three of us, her second Christmas was surrounded by relatives. The contrast couldn’t be bigger. She enjoyed all the attention (and presents!) she got from her aunts and grandparents, but the single thing she liked the most must have been all the Christmas trees and lights everywhere. Whenever she saw a tree with lights she exclaimed, “Mooi!” (“Beautiful!”), so much that we suspect she thinks that is the actual word for it.
Ahmed joined us in the Netherlands on the 20th of December. He arrived late at night and after much deliberation I decided to pick him up from the airport without Maria. When we were home, however, she woke up and started crying. Ahmed grabbed his chance and went to her room. She was happy to see him but did not seem surprised or be wondering how he had come here. For her, it was as if he had never been away.
The same happened when we took Ahmed back to the airport early in the morning on the 5th of January. Maria didn’t seem to be upset or sad after he left. That is not to say that she doesn’t miss him. Her face lightens up when we video chat or when she sees his picture.
Sleeping through the fireworks
In my previous update I wrote how well Maria slept since we came to Holland. Okay, she woke up pretty early sometimes, but when that happened I just took her with me in bed, where she often slept a bit more. Somehow, after a while she started waking up in the middle of the night. Within days, this went from waking up once or twice to four times! When I caught a cold, I couldn’t (and didn’t want to) continue like this. With my mom I agreed to put Maria in a different room, and if she woke up at night my mom would go to her. This worked for a few nights, but after a while Maria started waking up more often and getting her back to sleep became increasingly difficult. By the time Ahmed arrived she woke up almost every thirty minutes!
At some point we decided to leave the heater on at night. From that night, her sleep improved dramatically. The culmination was on New Year’s Eve, when she slept through all the noisy fireworks. At times, we felt the house shaking, but Maria didn’t even move!
To eat or not to eat…
I also wrote how well Maria ate since we arrived in Holland. I was amazed to see her finishing her food day after day. Even things she never really liked ever since we stopped mashing them – like beans or rice – disappeared from her plate. And no, they did not end up on the floor!
Unfortunately, this did not last. And now, one month later, food is hit and miss. Usually, breakfast and lunch go fine, but dinner really depends on her mood. Maria certainly has favorites, such as avocado, spaghetti, bell pepper (“pika”, a new obsession!), yogurt and cheese; but there are meals she eats very well at times, while at others she doesn’t even want to try a bite. It’s all part of toddlerhood, I reckon.
The single thing I am most amazed about is her speech development. I wrote it in last month’s update as well, but Maria’s vocabulary continues growing and growing. Almost every day I hear new words: sun, moon, tree, ball, outside, upstairs, butterfly, giraffe (most of them in Dutch). What’s more, she even started saying a few two-word sentences, such as “poes zien” (watch cat). Once she turned on my phone, saw herself on the background cover and uttered, “This is Maya” (in Dutch). I couldn’t believe my ears!
Not only does Maria now copy almost all the words we tell her, she merrily sings along with us. I now often hear her singing “Tinkle tinkle lidl tar” (Twinkle, twinkle, little star) and various Dutch songs. I am already a fan of her musical talents!
Despite all the activities we did this last month, I often forgot to take a snapshot. Luckily, my sister Hester is a first-class selfie queen, so here are a few more pictures.