All my life, people have told me that children grow up so fast. And I always nodded my head and agreed. But now that I have a child of my own, the complete truth of that statement is really starting to hit home. You really do blink and they're bigger. These past few months, Dessa has hit so many milestones and grown so rapidly, it's hard to believe that it has been such a short time. Things have busier than usual around the Gavin household as we prepare for the upcoming move into our forever home, but we finally had a chance to sit down and catch you up a bit on life with Dessa now that she's nine months old.
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From Crawling Everywhere…
And I mean EVERYWHERE. You turn your back for a second, and she'll be on the other side of the room. And God forbid that you leave a baby gate open: she'll be off like a shot to explore the previously inaccessible territory.
Watching her learn to crawl has been fascinating. You could see her putting the mechanics of crawling together over the space of a couple days. She knew to move her knees forward, but she hadn't quite mastered moving them together, or even moving her hands. But within a few days of starting that, she put it all together and crawled a few feet. And it only took a week or so for her to be crawling all over the darn place. And now that she's got all that practice in, she is only getting faster at it.
… to Pulling Herself Up
On just about any surface she can grab on to, Dessa is pulling herself up: tables, couches, chairs, baby gates, the TV stand, mom and dad, anything that she can get a decent grasp of. Not only is she pulling herself up, she's trying to stand on her own. Once she's got herself into a standing position, she sometimes lets go and tries to balance on her own. She doesn't make it for much more than a heartbeat, but I'm expecting she'll figure it out any day now. Maria saw Dessa push herself into a crouching position and hover for a few seconds before gently lowering herself to the ground. It's only a matter of time before she truly stands on her own and then Maria will have to bust out another one of the Milestone Original Baby Cards for an adorable photoshoot.
Bumps and Bruises
As good as she is at pulling herself up, Dessa is still new at this and she's still developing her sense of balance. She falls down regularly, but usually with remarkable control and grace, which helps ensure a soft landing. But a graceful fall hasn't always come naturally to Dessa. The first time she fell and got a pretty good bump on the head, she nailed the middle of her forehead right on the entertainment center. She had a bruise there for about week that made it look like she got ashes from Catholic church on Ash Wednesday. She's had a few other bumps and scrapes, too, but nothing quite as rough as that first bump on the forehead.
Out With Her Tongue
Dessa keeps going through phases where that little tongue is ALWAYS outside of her mouth. Whether it's sticking out the side as she concentrates hard on something or licking up food from around her mouth as she eats, she just loves wagging that tongue. She's also a pro at clicking her tongue and makes little clicking noises throughout the day. We won't see her little tongue out much for several days, and then suddenly, her tongue is out and back to greet us. Sometimes Dessa seems to think her tongue is something fun to play with, but it means mom and dad are constantly struggling to keep up with large amounts of drool coming out at all times. It sure can be cute, though.
So Many Silly Faces
One day it was a popped out bottom lip, the next it was her tongue sticking out, and now it's scrunching up her face and snorting through her nose. Dessa is definitely developing a sense of humor and silly faces are a main part of her repertoire.
When Dessa gets really excited, her eyes get really big, she perks her head up to listen closely, and she makes little grunts of anticipation. She mostly does this when we bring out the puffs, but it's really cute.
Dessa's signature expression keeps changing just about as rapidly as she is growing. About a week ago, completely out of the blue, Dessa started scrunching her face up and breathing quickly through her mouth rather than shrieking with excitement.
A few days, later, she scrunched her face up even more and started sniffing with joy.
And then there's the baby glasses. Dessa has this a pair of black plastic baby frames (which is just a pair of sunglasses with the lenses removed) and a pair of heart sunglasses that she wears on sunny walks. Aren't these just the cutest thing?!
Everything is Entertaining for Dessa
I know mirrors always entertain babies, but Dessa just can't get enough of them. Her latest really makes Maria and me laugh: she ADORES it when you open the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. Merely walking into the bathroom will get her excited. She starts sniffing excitedly and, when you actually open the cabinet, she'll start clapping and giggling a little bit. Who knew that such a simple cabinet could be so entertaining?!
One of Dessa's favorite toys isn't even a toy; it's a book. And not some board book, though she loves those, too. No, it's a grown-up book. Specifically, The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic by Matthew Kelly. We had been keeping several books on our media stand and Dessa loved reaching for The Four Signs and leafing through it. She would ignore all the other books and reach straight for that one. Since Dessa kept loved that book so much, we decided to give her a copy to call her own. We had a few extra copies of The Four Signs around the house so it worked out well for Dessa to have her very own copy of the book to play with. She just loves it. And she's shockingly great at flipping through the pages really fast, like a flipbook.
More Food, Please!
If there is one thing Dessa does really well, it's eating solid foods. The only foods so far that seem to turn her off are chicken and avocado, and we think those are really more of a texture problem than a taste problem. She loves her puffs, but strawberries seem to be her absolute favorite food right now. She still enjoys eating her pureed foods so much that she'll scooch her high chair forward in eager anticipation of some pureed deliciousness. And if you don't put that food in her mouth fast enough, she starts grunting at you and slapping the tray to remind you that she's waiting. We've been teaching her the sign language sign for “more” in an effort to encourage better behavior; it's only about fifty-fifty right now.
Praise the Lord, She Finally Naps
Dessa has always been a great sleeper at night, but her napping was the worst. For the longest time, we were lucky to eke out three 30-45 minute naps in one day. Often, she got less. We finally hit upon the solution with Dr. Ferber's sleep training method, which he outlined in Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems. Dessa still hates naps and will cry for a few minutes when we put her in the crib, but she now consistently naps three times a day (often for 1 to 2 hours at a time!) We occasionally have a day with only half-hour naps, but more often she's getting the sleep she needs and is a much happier baby because of it.
Learning to Communicate
When Dessa's really excited, she will clap a little bit (though it's really more waving her hands in a vague clapping motion) and the clapping recently evolved into waving. For a few weeks now, she's been waving hello and goodbye. Both Maria and I love to wave goodbye to her while she watches us walk to our cars from the living room window. It's super cute to come home to, as well.
Dessa's also doing great with verbal communication. The excitement began when, she started to babble “dada” a lot. We never were really convinced that she was talking specifically about me, though. It always just seemed like she really liked the “da” syllable. Then, we started getting her to say “uh oh” when she dropped things or knocked stacked blocks over. She doesn't so much say “uh oh” as hum it, though and Dessa also somehow turns it into a three syllable utterance, but we know what she means.
And then, this past weekend, she said her first word! Wanna take a guess what it was? I'll give you a hint: it wasn't “mama” or “dada.” No, it was “duck!” Dessa loves her rubber duck. It's one of her all-time favorite toys. So much so that she said “duck” when grabbing it out of her to ybox last week. She didn't repeat it, though, so we weren't sure it was intentional. But on Sunday, after her bath, she was playing with her rubber duck while Maria got her dressed and there it was again, multiple times, clear as a bell: “Duck!”
And you know what? Just as Maria and I were about ready to publish this post, Dessa said her second word. Dessa's rubber duck may be first in her little heart, but “dada” was second! Unfortunately, I didn't get to witness it as I was at work, but Maria saw it. Dessa saw my photo on the wall, reached her hand out to it, and said “dada” several times. So we know for sure now that it was intentional and not just babble. My heart just about burst with pride when I got Maria's text about it.
Cell Phone Sneakiness
Like most adults, Maria and I spend a little too much time on our cell phones. We try to keep them away when we are spending time with our little girl (Maria does a much better job at it than I do), but we are on them a lot. For work, for the blogs, and just for pleasure. And unfortunately, Dessa just LOVES our cell phones, too. They're so bright and shiny and play videos and have pictures of her on them. What's not to love?! If she sees one of our phones laying about, she makes a beeline for it and starts flipping it over endlessly to try and find the picture of herself on it – then proceeds to squeal or snort or pant with delight. We take the phone away as quickly as possible and never reward Dessa by “opening” the phone or showing her more photos but she is always so proud of herself when she gets her hands on one of our devices!
So there you have it – our nine month old baby girl in a nutshell. It's been a wonderful, crazy, and beautiful time with Dessa and I can't wait to see what the next nine months will bring.