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Dearest Emmie,

Today you are 17 months old. Somehow, I keep thinking you are even older than that because you suddenly seem so mature. You understand so much of what we say, and are able to tell us so much more of what you are thinking. You are more self-sufficient and are capable of doing many things on your own; it’s so amazing to see you become a more full-fledged person.


Language is still the big story in these parts. You’ve started “fast mapping,” where it only takes one or two times for us to say a word before you understand exactly what it means. It’s scary sometimes how much of what we are saying you understand and we usually don’t even realize it until you repeat a word or stand up to go to a place we mentioned in passing. We definitely have to spell things, which I frankly was not expecting to have to do quite yet.

You’ve gotten better at imitating signs more quickly, although you don’t always remember the sign later, and there are still signs I think I’ve tried to get you to imitate a hundred times with no success (“elephant” comes to mind). It’s been fun to watch your signs get clearer too, although there are still plenty of signs that look more or less identical. Tonight was a very exciting moment for me, when I saw your sign for yogurt go from a general waving of your hand side to side(ish) to a very clear back and forth motion with a definite handshape (kind of a “1” with your thumb out?). As you’ll see in the list of words you’ve started signing this month, there are a LOT of new words. “I love you” is my very favorite one. The handshape for that one is pretty hard, so you just hold up your little index finger and shake it back and forth. You’ve even done it unprompted several times, which I adore.


Your verbal words still lag behind the signed words, although I think it’s mostly because so many of your words sound exactly the same, so without context, I might not even know you are saying a specific word. “Ba” can refer to: ball, Jasper, bird, Soothie, Grandpa, random-thing-I-just-saw-and-is-super-exciting-but-you’ll-never-guess-what-it-was. Your vowels are getting clearer and more accurate, which helps because “bye” now sounds different than “ball.”

Mostly, you are really trying to COMMUNICATE. If we don’t get what you are trying to say right away, we usually can guess several options, and when we hit on the right one, you light up and nod your head excitedly. “Yes! Finally! THAT’S what I was saying!”


Words you understand: I’m actually going to stop this one, since I can’t keep track of all of them anymore. Here are some of the words I have been able to count:
Body parts: eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hair, chin, cheek, neck, tummy, belly button, arm, leg, foot, toes, hand, bottom, head, face.
Clothes: shirt, pants, coat/jacket, pajamas, socks, shoes, hat, mittens, bracelet, necklace
Places: your bedroom, our bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, downstairs, upstairs, outside, the door

Directions/questions you understand: Most yes/no questions (e.g., Do you want bananas, Are you ready for your bath, etc.), 2-step related directions (Get the ball and put it in your room), Shut the door, get the ______, give me ______,  Go get your other shoe, blow your nose, wash your hands, look behind you, lay down, Sit down please, put it in your hair, give it to ___, tickle _____, give ____ a kiss, give ____ a hug, brush your teeth, brush your hair

Words you use (new in italics):

Say: wash-wash-wash, go (do), snow (no), eyes, milk (mo), shh, boo (Soothie), no, box, boots, shoes, boots, ball, bye bye, bread, mama, dada

Sign: wait, I love you, where, thank you, banana, bath, water, clean, dirty, work, cracker, help, shower, snow, windy, tree, go, lion, gorilla, penguin, bear, bird, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, cereal, book, spider, please, bread, “lovey,” sock, hair, straw, sleep, baby, sunscreen, drink, bye bye, avocado, fan, rain, outside, hat, brush, eating, airplane, ball, daddy, water, dog, Soothie, more, eat, all done, yogurt, milk.


Even though I get most excited about language, you are growing and changing in so many exciting ways. We are really trying to encourage your independence and your natural inclination to imitate everything we do. You have your own drawer in the kitchen and you can independently recognize your plates, spoons and cups and put them in that drawer by yourself. You know where most familiar things go, and have even found things for me that I’ve been looking for. You like to help me clean things, although you also like to blow your nose, then use the tissue to “clean” the floor or wall directly after (yuck!).

Unfortunately, you’ve been sick most of this month with a double ear infection that took two different antibiotics to clear up and a tummy bug not too long after, not to mention your generally unending daycare-cold. In spite of it all, you’ve been remarkably cheerful, in general. Sure, you can get whiny or fussy, but you are still a toddler, after all. I’ve just been happy that you are continuing to learn and grow through it all!


You are getting to be a lot more social. You like to blow kisses and give high fives, and you also like to do fist bumps. This month, you’ve started to genuinely be scared of loud noises and will run to me if you hear something scary. These can be sounds you’ve heard a thousand times before, like Jasper thundering up the stairs or the heater turning on, but somehow you are now realizing that some things can be scary.


You started really coloring this month. It was pretty exciting for me, especially since I now have a way to occupy you during flights or at restaurants. As with most things, you are pretty good about knowing the limits and boundaries and obeying them the majority of the time, and you can be trusted (most of the time) to keep the crayon on the paper. The very first time you colored, I put the paper on the floor and you laid on your stomach, propping yourself up to color just like a big girl. In that instant, I could almost see you doodling at 12 on your bedroom floor.


Your favorite things: yelling while you “run”; putting on your hat and coat and standing at the door to go outside; kissing and snuggling your babies; coloring, writing, drawing; yogurt, crackers, pears, bananas (“meh” to avocado!); Baby Signing Time; “talking” on the phone; stacking, sorting, dumping; driving cars; sliding down slides; playing outside; copying mama doing *everything*; helping out around the house; eating with real utensils; roughhousing and physical play; doing anything big kids are doing; music, signing, and dancing.


I love you, always and forever,

Your Mama