I haven’t given a detailed update of M.’s doings in several weeks. Part of that is because we had our first extended rough period with her a few weeks back. In fact, the Saturday before Labor Day was by far the worst day I’ve ever had alone with her. Nothing seemed to please her during that stretch. Not Motrin, not food, not naps, not playing. Happily, it seems as though she’s gotten through whatever her issues were and is back to being her normal funny self.

First, the picture I’ve included above is one of my absolute favorites taken to-date. I wish the color and focus were better but it’s still a great shot of her. One morning, she picked the paper up off the floor and just started walking around, talking like she was reading it. Eventually, she took it into my office and threw it down, then left, acting like she was totally disgusted with the state of world affairs. My little girl is going to be a cynical contrarian like her old man!

Walking appears to be her favorite thing to do. Some nights, she just walks around our kitchen island over-and-over. Other times, she’ll circle through our kitchen, dining room, entryway continuously. She babbles to herself while on these little walks, and smiles if you acknowledge her, but generally keeps on moving as if she’s got a schedule to keep. She seems to enjoy a modified version of hide-and-seek, too. We’ll be sitting in one room and she’ll take off on one of her little adventures. When she reappears, she smiles as big as she can, and says, “HI!” in her high-pitched voice. It’s as if we’ve been gone for days and she’s pleased to see us again.

Speaking of greetings, she pretty much guaranteed she’s going to private school one day last week when I picked her up after my class. She’s always happy to see me when I pick her up from my in-laws. But last Wednesday, as soon as I came in the door, she dashed towards me, threw her arms open, yelled “Hi Daddy!” and then gave me a hug. Top five moment of fatherhood, right there. It cracks me up when I’ve been sitting in my office or just been doing something in another part of the house and she’s gone maybe 10 minutes without seeing me and she says “Hi Daddy!” as soon as I reenter the room. It’s good to be missed.

The girl has always been in love with her reflection, but she’s taken it to a whole new level of late. First, she loves to push/pull the door from our living room to our sun room open and closed. Each time it swings by, when she sees her reflection in the glass, she says, “HIIIII!!!!” She’ll do this for 5-10 minutes. We also had some professional pics taken of her last month and have a framed one on my desk and another on the wall in the room off of our bedroom. When she sees either one, she points at it until she has our attention, then does the obligatory “HI!” yell. You’d think she’d get tired of looking at herself. I hope this doesn’t mean she’s going to demand to be in beauty pageants one day. She may have to get new parents if she wants to do that.

Another new word, or sound more properly, is her cow sound. “What’s a cow say, M.?” “MMMMMMMMMM.” She furrows her brow when she says it, so apparently she’s very serious about the cows.

Back to the walking, she can actually get going pretty fast sometimes. What makes it funny is she’s only successful with the fast walking 15-20% of the time. Sometimes she just gets going too fast and goes down in a heap. Other times she forgets the concept of cornering and ends up running into a door or wall. What’s funniest is when she gets all proud of herself and is too busy looking at you, showing off, and her head ends up going a different direction than her body. As long as there are no sharp edges near, that situation is usually good for some pretty spectacular crashes.

If you can’t tell from the pictures I’ve posted, her hair is totally out of control. She will definitely hate her parents for giving her the curly hair genes when she’s old enough to realize her hair is going to take a lot of work.

Food has been a struggle as well, although it’s gotten easier to feed her in the past week. Until about a month ago, she would eat whatever you offered her. Then, suddenly, she even refused her old favorites. She’s not back to her omnivorous state, but after some adjusting of her diet, she’s now eating a little better. Baby foods are no more. We offer her lots of cereal, toast, oatmeal, and whatever else we’re eating at breakfast. Lunch is often a piece of cheese and turkey, then hopefully some fruit. Dinner tends to be some kind of pasta with bits of our dinner added. Vegetables are hit-and-miss depending on the night. Unfortunately, she’s decided she loves chips. If she sees either of us eating some, she starts begging and whining for a bite of her own. Not a good habit to start at this age.

We got her some Quatro blocks last week, which are the Legos for little ones. She hasn’t quite grasped the concept of stacking so the blocks snap together, but she loves to throw them around, and most of all, dump the entire container over when it’s full. S. and I build large structures then our little Godzilla comes over and destroys them. The blocks seem to get more use by mom and dad than kid most days.

Overnight sleeping now tends to stretch until 6:30 or 7:00, which is the greatest thing ever. She’s even made it to 7:45 a couple times.

The best part about this age is she truly is becoming independent. Between walking, the ability to entertain herself, and knowing when to yell when she’s in trouble, you can confidently leave the room to do other things. One night over the weekend I had to run upstairs to get some more diapers. She had a Baby Einstein DVD playing and was arranging her toys. I knew I had plenty of time to go open a box, stock the diaper basket in her room, and then grab some to bring downstairs. A few weeks ago, she would have screamed as soon as I left the room. Six months ago, I would have had to put her on the floor and surround her with couch cushions so she couldn’t roll herself into trouble. We can turn her loose while we’re making dinner, reading, or doing other normal activities. It’s great that developing her freedom in turn helps us rediscover our freedom.

That’s what our little girl us up to at 14 months of age. More-and-more like a little person every day.