Thursday, January 21, 2010

9 Months (Oops, and 8)

(9 month progress picture will be added here soon.)

Dear Gabers,

Today you turn 3/4 of a year old. To celebrate the occasion, we went shopping, a habit of ours that your father will probably never fully approve. One day when you get older I'll teach you how to slowly let the new things appear, not all at once as to alarm your Papai and send him quickly to the computer to check the Capital One account. These are the things that I look forward to sharing with you, my daughter, as you grow.

I have to apologize for never getting around to writing your 8-month letter. It's not that I forgot, but rather it got pushed to the bottom of the to-do list since it fell on the same day (December 21) that we were leaving Brasil to move to the US. And then by the time all the other pressing matters were taken care of, well, you were almost 9 months old! But I'll try to hit the highlights of your 8th month of life along with this one.

Two days after writing your 7-month letter, you started crawling like you'd been doing it your whole life. It is more of a belly dragging army crawl than a typical hands and knees baby crawl, but you get around just fine that way. And good grief, you are fast! Especially when going after something you know you're not supposed to have. Luckily for your father and me, you haven't learned how to be sneaky yet: you get real excited and loudly grunt when you're in a hurry and that alerts us to the fact that you are headed for trouble (usually in the form of an electric cord, breakable object, or something else we have guided you away from a thousand previous times.) Your timing with this whole crawling thing was impeccable: you started crawling just as we were starting to sort through the Belo Horizonte apartment and get things ready to sell/move/pack. You made the process extra exciting, while also creating a serious laundry issue for your mother. You did a great job cleaning my floors with your belly, but I seriously plan on patenting a disposable "swiffer onsie" just for babies like you who crawl with their belly dragging the floor! (I admit that I did put a cleaning rag underneath you on more than one occasion, but mostly that was to keep your clothes clean . . . not to put you to work as a mop.)

We arrived in the US just in time for Christmas with all the family. You did really awesome on the international journey (slept the entire overnight flight) and the subsequent trains, buses, and shuttle vans we took to get around to our destinations in Florida and Georgia. You had a constant stream of compliments on what a happy, pretty baby you are. And you eat all that attention right up!!! There is still not the slightest sign of stranger anxiety. I swear you'd go home with anybody!

Just before we got back to the US, your Papai taught you to give high 5's. And at about the 8 1/2 month mark, you decided to add two new tricks to your repertoire all on your own: waving and going from your belly to sitting. I hadn't been working with you much on waving, minus occasionally grabbing your hand and waving it bye-bye to people. But as you and I walked out of a restaurant after eating lunch one day, I heard people behind me saying, "Aw, look, she's waving at us!" And sure enough, you were grinning ear to ear and waving your little hand like a beauty queen on parade. The next day you were playing on the bathroom floor while I took a shower. You were on your belly and then decided you wanted to be sitting up, so you pulled your little legs up underneath yourself from the side and sat right up, completely effortlessly.

The food front is going great. You eat darn near 100% of anything offered to you. You are not a picky eater at all! Broccoli, collard greens (one of your favorites now, actually!), lima beans: you absolutely love all the usual not-kid-friendly foods. You've got the healthiest diet of anyone else in the household with a steady stream of various fruits, veggies, beans, yogurt, and meats in their pure form with no salt or sugar or any other additive. I get a few funny looks, as I am pretty strict about your current all-natural, sugar/salt-free diet. Ultimately, when you're older, I just think moderation is the important thing, but I can't see the point in feeding a 9-month old junk. And your Papai's with me on this one, so no ice cream, coffee, coke, processed stuff, or otherwise unnecessary foods for you right now. You currently get over-the-top excited when I put collards in front of you and plain yogurt for dessert? Score!!! I'd just assume keep it that way as long as I can! Breastfeeding is still going strong with four feedings per day and I intend to keep it up, as is the current recommendation by pediatricians, until your first birthday.

We had some trouble getting you to feed yourself, but we figured out a way to motivate you to do that too. Your Aunt Brii made a comment at New Year's Eve about how much you love to be praised. A couple days later, as I was trying to get you to feed yourself peas (and all you wanted to do was brush them onto the floor . . . despite the fact that you pick up inedible objects and shove them in your mouth constantly), I remembered that comment. I placed a pea between your finger and thumb and then guided your hand to your mouth. The second the pea was in your little chomper I did the biggest happy dance complete with all the yays and muito bons I could muster. You got a big grin on your face and, never taking your eye off of me, grabbed another pea and slowly put it in your mouth. I repeated making a spectacle of myself, much to your pleasure. After that we never had another problem. We put small pieces of food in front of you and you mow them down. Our only challenge now is keeping up; you eat faster than we can get the food cut up!

You are pretty much on track or ahead on most of your developmental milestones, with the exception of your verbal skills. You still don't really make any vowel or syllable sounds (despite lots of encouragement to say "Mamamamae" or "Papapapapai" from the respectively named adults in your life.) You have a whole arsenal of grunts, moans, squeals, and giggles, but I suspect you're going to be late talker like your ol' Mommy who didn't really say anything comprehensible until after I was two years old. Time will tell. Meanwhile, you have great eye-hand coordination for your age and you have a really developed little pincher grasp with your thumb and forefinger! I'm sure the people who think you're mute will notice that and think, "wow, what a smart baby!" ;)

It's exciting to see you are able to understand more and more of what we say everyday. I can ask you "Onde esta Madeline?" and you immediately start looking for and retrieve your Madeline doll that Grandma and Grandad bought you for Christmas (your very first doll and one of your very favorite things right now!) I can also ask for " beijos" or tell you to give one to Madeline and you spread the kisses around! You also get a real big kick out of not giving kisses to your Papai when he asks for them; I think you love his dramatic, heart-broken response and the subsequent tickles and big kisses you get from him after your rejection! Your father and I try to speak 100% Portuguese when we are alone with you. We only read to you in Portuguese, but in day-to-day interaction, we probably end up with about 20% English slipping in. But I figure any second language exposure is better than none, even if it is your Mamae's bad Portuguese. It seems like it would be such a waste to know a language and then not teach it to our children! We hope it becomes the natural language at home and you find it to be something fun and interesting as you grow older. (We'll certainly be trying to make it not a big deal and never force it, but encourage you to want to learn and speak the language of your second nationality!)

It's amazing to watch as you grow and learn and completely humbling to know that I had a little something to do with it. You are an amazing kid, already at just 9 months, and every time we have you out or around other people your Papai and I come home smiling and telling each other how proud you make us to be your parents. I love you so, so much my little Gabs!

Eu te amo,


P.S. You're up to a whooping 26.5 inches (15th percentile) and 16.4 pounds (10th percentile). Given how much food you can put away, I think that your small stature is really a testament to how you are wiggly, squirmy, and constantly on the move! Well, either that or your dairy cow is producing skim milk . . . not sure which. ;) But either way the doctors say they've never seen a healthier kid, so we're not too worried about you midget-ness.


Elena B. said...

I think it's really wonderful that you're speaking only portuguese with her at home! Good for you and I hope you're able to keep it up :) I also plan for my (far in the future) kids to be bilingual or even trilingual if possible (English, Spanish, and Portuguese). Sad to see your adventure in Brazil is over but it's nice that you're still doing the blog :)

Vivi DiLopes Adams said...

It's nice that you're speaking Portuguese with Gabriela. I'm doing the same thing with Ian. Hopefully they will appreciate it in the future!

Elena B. said...

As far as appreciating it in the future, they will. They may not appreciate it as much when they're 8 or 9, but eventually they will. I only say that because my mom spoke spanish to me occasionally growing up, and I refused to learn when she tried to actually teach me when I was 6, but eventually I decided to learn more on my own and it was sooo much easier because I had an ear for it and knew more than I thought. So not to worry Vivi!

Rogério Penna said...

I guess it must be really difficult for a kid to be bilingual unless each parent speaks a different language at home... but I am sure that any portuguese gabs learn now will be VERY helpful in her future, at learning any romance language, be it portuguese itself, or spanish, italian, french... hell, even to understand english itself, due to the quantity of latin rooted words in the language.

When she starts wondering about the words (instead of just accepting them as they are, as we all do when babies and small kids), she will have an easier time understanding why you say SOLAR SYSTEM instead of SUNNY SYSTEM... or why you say DENTIST instead of TOOTHIST. :)

Ray Adkins said...


You guys are so smart to try and teach her Portuguese.
I think if you get some Kids programs like Cartoons and such in Portuguese that could make it interesting and fun for her.
You don't have to worry about English because she will naturally learn that at School and with friends and family.
Learning the language of the country she was born will definitely be a treat she will greatly appreciate for life.


Elisabeth said...

I was reading your post and saw that my Gabriela is the exact same height and weight as yours, except she is only 4 months old!

I also think it's great to teach her a second language. Her father speaks to her in French/Portuguese and I'm using English. If you have any speech/language questions, feel free to email me as I'm a paediatric speech pathologist.

Take care