Two is…

I don’t know quite how it happened (well, I suppose I do, but time is weird), but here we are, nearly a month into life with a two year old. Her birthday was a casual family day, but it was also fun and adorable. The Engineer’s Two Year Old is proving a pretty fun person to get to know.

So far, Two is up and down and a bit all over the place, especially because it coincides with having a month to pack up all our stuff and move halfway across the world.

Two is also:

  • Pleading eyes and “Watch videos now, please?”
  • Long bedtimes and early early mornings (we’re talking 5am, or even earlier!)
  • Lots and lots of stories, again and again and again.
  • Picnics (or NICNICS!) on the floor in the lounge with all her friends.
  • Copying everything we do, with sometimes hilarious consequences.
  • Counting “1 2 3 4 6 8 9 10”
  • Stripping down for “nudie” time whenever she gets the chance.
  • Possessives: “Elsie’s friends” “Elsie’s Papa” “Elsie’s snot”
  • Feeding the fish one tiny piece of food at a time, so it takes forever.
  • Reading her animal books to me from the back seat. “Ox bellows. Mama make noise!”
  • Running away as fast as she can to show us she is done.
  • Showing us just how much she remembers from a surprisingly long time ago.
  • Snapchat. So much Snapchat. (She calls it “masks”)
  • A quite sudden ability to complete more complicated puzzles.
  • A whole new level of communication. “Spicy! Spicy mouth! Milk helps…” and “Kiss knee, Mama. Ouchie Elsie”
  • Inventing names for things. Flavoured crackers are “messy crackers”.
  • Telling us a story over and over until we figure it out.
  • Meltdowns over stopping her using our phones.

Two is hard. Two is messy. Two is a whole lotta fun.

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Two is two candles on a birthday cake and one birthday girl enthusiastically blowing them out.

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A first birthday letter

The Engineer’s Baby’s first birthday was more than two weeks ago now, but we’ve been busy with various things, and I’ve been struggling to process all the feelings, so this letter is happening now. Better late than never, I say.

Dear E,

You are now officially one year old. And what a year it has been. It has been joyful, and hard, and surprising, and amazing, and tiring. We are both learning about each other, about the world. Of course, we haven’t always been right in sync. There are times where our needs have butted heads like I never imagined. But we’ve both come out the other end relatively healthy and happy, so I’m calling it a success.

When you were born, you were big and cuddly, and strong. You took a little time and encouragement, but then came rushing into the world with gusto. And these patterns from your earliest days have continued to appear again and again throughout the year.

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At one month you were smiling and staring and loved nothing more than your parents. We hadn’t yet figured out what you needed to ease into sleep, and the evenings were fairly loud and uncomfortable. But during the night and day you were a curious wee dot who wowed everyone with those strong legs.

At two months you worked out how to roll yourself over so you could see the world from a new angle. You spent most of the time on your tummy (or cuddled into a parent) from then on.

At three months you were growing and growing. You were moving through clothing sizes rapidly, were figuring out new things all the time and were starting to move around a little. We were still struggling with sleep, but the evenings were a lot calmer.

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At four months you figured out forward momentum and could commando crawl to what interested you, which revolutionised your play time. I started to feel like I knew what I was doing, and you showed me that I didn’t really (and probably never truly will).

At five months you worked out hands and knees crawling and how to get to a sitting position. You got your first teeth and tried your first foods. We were in New Zealand for most of the month, and came back with a completely different baby.

At six months it was hard to keep up with the changes. You were babbling, pulling up to standing, and going through your first bout of separation anxiety and we all caught more than one virus. I was tired and overwhelmed and it was a rough month. But we survived.

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At seven months we made some changes to your sleep habits, and we all got a bit more sleep, at least temporarily. You took your first cruising steps, and continued to surprise everyone with your movement.

At eight months you finally gave up the carrier for your naps (with a little bit of encouragement from us. Or quite a lot of encouragement…) You continued to get faster at cruising around, started to let go a little, and got a whole lot more teeth.

At nine months you could stand on your own. You also started to clap and wave, and were losing some of your babyness. It was amazing to watch, but we definitely had mixed emotions about how very fast you were growing.

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At ten months you took your first wee steps. We were so excited and proud, and you seemed to think it was no big deal at all. You slowly grew in confidence and walked further and further.

At eleven months you were walking more than crawling, and were starting to talk. Your words weren’t English, but were adorable. Combined with a lot more pointing, you were able to communicate more and more every day. Your favourite thing was to stare out the window and watch the birds.

And now, at twelve months you are just starting to run (or at least you want to!) You’re a real little kid, and an amazing kid at that. You love to wander around outside, and are very good at letting us know when you want a cuddle. You are very serious about your playing, and when we’re out and about. But for your favourite people you always have a smile (and often a present).

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I share these milestones not because the actual milestones or their timing is important, but to show just how far you have come. But with all that growth and change, you remain the same E underneath. You take a while to warm up to situations, but once you’re confident you go for it. You’re a bold little explorer, but like to have the safety of a parent watching out for you. You’re a scientist, running experiments all the time to figure out the world and your place in it. You’ve got your opinions, and you’re not afraid to show them (loudly if necessary). You are cuddly when you want to be, but are first and foremost an independent wee soul who needs to work everything out for yourself.

This has been the most amazing year of my life so far, and I can’t wait to see how you take these things and build on them in the years to come. I haven’t always found it easy to keep up, but together we made it.

Happy birthday E. I love you.

Mama

Hitting our stride

The Engineer’s Baby is nearly four months old (!) and we definitely feel like we are coming into our own as parents.  This doesn’t mean we always get it right (far from it!), or that there won’t be times when we feel like we absolutely suck.  But it does mean that we no longer feel like those new parents with no idea what to do with the little creature who has suddenly appeared in our lives.  (Because despite the nine months of preparation time, and the years of trying before that, it really does feel sudden!)  We have a little bit more confidence, the wee one is more robust and independent, life is just a little bit easier.

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I think this recent confidence is the culprit behind my recent boredom.  I no longer feel completely overwhelmed with the baby, and have a bit of space in my brain to do something else, for pretty much the first time since I found out I was pregnant just over a year ago.  But I am pleased to report that thus far the writing is helping greatly, along with some lovely play dates and fun activities.  This week was better than last, despite the fact that I spent two full days at home, one of those with a stinking cold…

This confidence might also be the reason I decided to invite a group of people over for a dinner to celebrate my birthday.  A group of eight people, when we’ve never had more than two or three in the past.  It was a decision made on a bit of a whim, and without much forward planning.  So Saturday was pretty much committed to preparing for a dinner party. This wouldn’t have been too complicated if we were at home, with all of our home kitchen. But until Saturday, our Brunei kitchen didn’t even have knives to eat with (which was usually fine, but not ideal when serving a roast!), so it was a little bit more of a challenge.  I always like a challenge though, and I really enjoyed myself.

In the end we had a slightly smaller group, and a slightly different dessert, than we had planned, but it was a lovely evening.  The Engineer’s Baby even slept through the whole thing, after waking three times between going to bed and guests arriving.  We were prepared for a night of distractions, but instead we could focus just on food and guests and fun.

It was a great way to celebrate the end of my third decade on the planet. And this weekend we are headed to Singapore to celebrate a bit more, and to give Baby Engineer the first of three aunty-meetings (the next one visits in early December, and the last one will be when we are at home for Christmas).

It’s been a busy time, and we have even more busy times ahead, so it’s pretty lucky that we have this surge of parenting confidence to carry us through!