To Our Sweet BabyCakes, who is ONE YEAR OLD

This first photograph is currently my favorite picture of you, my daughter who is now One Year Old. It is not because is captures a particularly memorable moment, but because (and if you have seen pictures of me at this age you will gasp in agreement) you are undeniably, without question, The Spitting Image Of Me.
Being a petite little thing (most of the babies in Abeona’s baby room weigh more than you, including the ones only 4 months old) provides an excellent contrast to your temperament. Your stature may be small, but nothing about you is demure or docile. Your reputation for being busy, curious, interested, engaged, focused and determined is becoming well known: when babies (who are currently all boys) quickly crawl out of their classroom to explore other places, they are called “Kate Junior.”
Nighttime has recently become a challenge. While you still fall asleep at roughly the same time as your brother, you wake up after a few hours READY TO PAR-TAY. Indeed, the hours of 10pm-12am are the most fun to spend with you. You sing, run, babble, play, and talk… and then CRASH. For several nights in the past week, your Dad has put you in the car seat and taken you for a drive around the block as a last resort to get to you to sleep (since the porch swing, rocking chair, walking the house, patting your butt, singing to you and all the other assorted methods we’ve tried have proven fruitless). Last night, we realized that we would rather not go out past 10pm and used the car seat to “swing” you in the air. It worked, but now Dad’s right arm is 8 inches longer than his left.
Still, there is no question that you are a Night Owl. Vim, Vigor, and Vitality all after the sun goes down. This is completely opposite from your brother, whose daily mood can be charted with a line showing strong association between length of time awake and worsening of mood: peaked at euphoric at the moment he wakes up and then slowly tapering down into the range of whiny when he goes to bed.
This is not to say that you wake up grumpy. You generally wake up fine, not particularly bright-eyed, but pleasant and ready to cooperate with the family schedule… you just can’t walk in a straight line until you have had your coffee. You are SO my kid.
In one year, you’ve gone from a tiny infant who managed 18 poops on her first day home to a walking (almost) talking little person that can poop out whole lima beans with minimal effort. Like your brother, you are a very good pooper. And you LOVE the toliet. We have to make a concerted effort to keep the bathroom door closed at all times, lest you race your little self in there and flush the commode, over and over, until the handle no longer functions. I am hoping that this is a sign that you will potty train early, like maybe next month?
Last week, for the first time, you feel off the bed in the middle of the night. My Mother-instinct was awake the moment your body left the bed; the bedside lap was on and my feet were on the floor the second I heard the thump, before my brain had even understood what was happening. You cried for about a second and went back to sleep quickly. How you even got into bed with us that night is still a mystery (we’re getting so good that apparently we can even retrieve you from the crib without waking up). Despite all our attempts at reaching this milestone earlier (letting you nap on beds, horsing around with you in the covers) this was the first time you had actually fallen (your brother didn’t fall out of the bed until he was older and in his own bed). The fall was much less traumatic than I thought it would be; I assumed it would age me a bit, like when your brother fell while dancing and gave himself the huge egg on his forehead. In reality, tt was much more traumatic when you ate cat poop. THAT called for serious concern.
After your fall, we decided to make a greater effort in getting you to sleep in your crib at night. (Well, the fall and the fact that you — like your brother — are a seriously restless sleeper.) While you do like to cuddle, you rarely stay in one position more than 17 seconds (we’ve counted) unless the position is one where you are expertly poised to kick your Dad in the kidneys. (I find this perfectly acceptable, since, in my book, he has no excuse for turning his back on you in the night. His nose should be just as open to exploration by your fingers as mine.) Your restlessness is being noticed at school as well. You’ve moved (quickly!) into sleeping on a mat and have been photographed cuddling with other children to curl up and sleep.
You have said several words off and on (including saying “Gladys” which is the name of your previous teacher in the baby room at Abeona). Yet even with all these words (specifically: MaMa, Uh-ho, Owwww, and Gato) the word you say ALL THE TIME is DaDa. You LOVE DaDa so much that you say it all day long,chattering away in one endless stream of DaDa DaDa DaDa (just like that, too, with two capitals). Because you do this while you wave your ever-pointed finger around as if directing an orchestra, we are beginning to wonder if you equate DaDa with more than just Paul. Along with Paul (who you walk right up to and announce “DaDa!” with all the force of a child who demands to be picked up and carried RIGHT NOW) you have used “DaDa” to describe yourself, a few Cheerios, and a hairball.
Abeona has exposed you to baby sign language, which you’ve incorporated into your own special form of communication. Your brother helped a bit with this, if by “helping” we mean messing with your head. Will loves to show you signs that vary from the traditionally known motions (“Baby Kate, THIS means I love you, Mommy!” says Will with his middle finger raised. Okay, so I’m exaggerating. He hasn’t taught her that. Yet.) As a result, your signs aren’t necessarily the standard ones everyone else uses.
Your favorite sign is MORE, which you do with one palm outstretched in a “show me the money” sort of sign. It is impressive that you understand it to be applicable to more than just food. You’ll sign more when you want the book we’re reading to be read again. Or when you want to nurse. Or when you want to watch more American Idol. (Being the little hip-hop princess that you are, you have a little crush on Blake.)
Your first birthday came and went with only three teeth emerged in your tiny head. BUT, you’ve got FIVE teeth close to coming in… including all four top teeth. If you look in the picture below (yes, there is food all over your face and nose) you can see the whites of those teeth trying so hard to poke through…
Each day you are able to interact and play with your brother a little more. For the most part, you play together incredibly well. We hear that he visits you at school, and everyone knows how big your smile is whenever he is around. Likewise, Will adores you, giggling in every moment he’s with you. One of the best parts about renting the minivan on our trip was that your carseats were directly beside each other on the bench seat. The two of you spent our hours on the road making faces, playing peek-a-boo, and just enjoying each other’s close company. Still, whenever you knock over the tower Will is building with his blocks, or pull at the paper he’s coloring on, or reach over and try to drink from his sippy cup… he has moments when we praise him for using his words. I read somewhere that siblings start to really play well together when the youngest is 2 1/2 years old. It surprises me to think that your relationship is just going to get better. Watching the two of you together is one of my greatest joys. It is also very helpful when my hands our full; Will does a great job distracting you in those overwhelming moments!
How we could be so lucky to have you, so happy, so sweet, so beautiful, in our lives… you and your brother… is something your Dad and I ponder each day. Congratulations on a beautiful first year, Baby Girl!