The very day I'm posting this blog entry, baby Darwin is turning one year old. We won't have a party celebrating this event until the weekend, but given the coincidence of the birthday with the date of this entry, I'll write about it now instead of saving it for next week.
We just celebrated Margie's birthday with a lunch at Henrietta's Table in Cambridge. To the left, Margie and Darwin are shown at that event. Darwin likes to work with her hands, so she's not eating the bread you see her holding, so much as tearing it apart into small pieces. Elissa reports that she'll do the same thing with pieces of facial tissue, proudly handing you the little bits she produces.
She now enjoys eating Cheerios, but she also likes to carefully position the back end of her plastic spoon precisely over the hole in the center of an individual Cheerio, then press down, and watch it break apart. I watched her do this during Margie's birthday lunch.
The rate at which Darwin is changing these days is staggering. It now seems that, like her Aunt Sara as a child, Darwin is always Busy, busy.
Margie and I are fortunate to have both our daughters living nearby, so we usually see Darwin at least once a week. Every time we see her, she seems quite different from the previous time. A few weeks ago, she could be counted on to stay more or less wherever we put her down. Now, she's highly mobile, crawling all over the place.
But perhaps the biggest recent change is the growth in her language. For some time now, she's recognized quite a few words. She responds appropriately if you suggest she shake something, or wave goodbye. On request, she will point to your nose, or to her mother's belly button. She can identify and point to numerous animals in a picture book if you name them out loud.
She has fewer spoken words, but that vocabulary is increasing as well. She's been saying "mama" and "dada" for some time, and several weeks ago, when she began to point at things, she started saying "this" and "that" (except it sounds more like "dis" and "dat"). Maybe it's just me, but I'm pretty sure she looked at me and said "papa".
She's able to point in a picture book to a few animals you name, although at the moment, if she names them herself, it seems many animals are called "duck". And Elissa noted in a e-mail, "Dar has discovered birds flying in the sky this week. She now enthusiastically points out all flying birds. All of them."
Darwin was only recently introduced to Ryan and Elissa's pet ferrets, collectively called "the Fuzzies". Two of them can be seen in the left-hand picture below, left-to-right Fluffy Fuzzy and Dark Fuzzy, with Darwin in the middle. She also enjoyed meeting a pet rat (named "Bear") that Ryan and Elissa are babysitting (right below). Temporarily hosting a rat recalls Elissa's former pet Rats, previously written about in an earlier blog entry of that name. Ah, it's so nice to have a rat around the house. Darwin now seems to get enthused whenever she sees a dog on the street.
It seems clear to me, and somewhat surprising, that at one year of age, Darwin appears to have a sense of humor. She has a fake laugh, with which she'll sometimes respond if you laugh at her (imitating your sound, I think). But then she'll find this funny, and follow up with a genuine laugh. And I get the impression that one of the reasons she shatters Cheerios with her spoon is that she finds it amusing to watch them break apart.
After a long stretch of very cold temperatures, the day of Margie's birthday lunch was unseasonably warm, about 10 degrees C (50 degrees F). We took advantage of the weather to once again walk around Harvard Square, as we had done after my similar birthday lunch (see my blog entry Hair, which, towards the bottom, shows a picture of Darwin's hair blowing in the wind that day).
We went into the store Hidden Sweets, on Brattle Street, where Darwin browsed a bit in the toy section. She was particularly attracted to a set of shelves containing an extensive collection of small, rather fanciful rubber duckies. After looking over what was available, she seemed particularly taken with an odd duck with rabbit ears!
After she turned it over in her hands for a while, I tried to take it away to put it back on the shelf. This was met with another fairly recent vocabulary word, repeated emphatically, "No no no no no!" Elissa reports that Darwin never says just "No", but always repeats the word several times.
Since I reserve the right to spoil my granddaughter, I bought it for her. Here's a picture taken later at home, showing Dar pointing at the "BunnyDuck". While pointing, she's likely to have been saying "Dat!", or maybe "Duck!".
The picture below is from a video Ryan took of Darwin interacting with her own reflection in a mirror, which took place a couple of weeks ago when he was picking her up from daycare. She fogged the mirror with her breath, licked it, and kissed her reflection on the lips. Just after the kiss, you can see her point at something with her left hand, and utter a short version of "dis".
If you click on the picture, and have software (such as QuickTime) that can play a .mov file, the 45-second video will play:
Sara took the pictures of Darwin with the Ferrets and the rat. Ryan took the picture of Margie with Darwin, and he also took the video. Elissa took the picture of Dar pointing to the BunnyDuck.
No doubt, Darwin will be quite different next week.