Dirk Knemeyer

Elena at 48 weeks

It is the dawn of 2011 and Elena is closing in on finishing her first year of life! Let’s see what she’s been up to:

– On Tuesday December 7 Elena took her first unaided steps, with her mother at the Science Center in nearby Newark. She has wanted to walk for some time previously but our house has entirely hardwood floors and she slips in her little socks. Once she got on the carpet at this new place she was able to safely take her first steps. She has continued to do so on-and-off ever since. Her favourite way to move is “scooting” along on her knees while sitting up straight. When she wants to move quickly she crawls. If her mom or I are around she reaches up, grabs our hands and has us walk her around. But sometimes, a few times a day perhaps, she walks. The most I’ve ever seen her walk is 12 steps, and her longer “journeys” are typically when there is something in front of her, when she sees a path toward something to hold onto.

– Elena now has seven teeth with her eighth about to peek out. She has big, silly front buck teeth and small little chicklets for the rest of them.

– I’ve been terribly ill since mid-September, and for much of it have had a deep, nasty cough. About six weeks ago Elena began to copy it. She goes around the house making little “ach, ach, ach” sounds. She does it A LOT. It is incredibly cute and endearing and loving. It makes me a little sad, because it underscores that she associates me with that somewhat tortured and miserable way of being. But it also makes me very happy that she pays attention to and emulates the things I do.

– Elena loves when I sing to her. I’ve “created” some songs that may unknowingly be based on other simple songs, rhymes or melodies. The two I sing most commonly are slight variants of the following bases:

“Da-ddy loves E-le-na
E-le-na, E-le-na.
Da-ddy loves E-le-na,
Yes I do.
Da-ddy loves E-le-na
E-le-na, E-le-na.
Da-ddy loves E-le-na,
Yes I do.
Through and through.
I…
Love…
You!”

“E- l-e-n-a,
El-e-na, is her name.
E-l-e-n-aaaaaaaaaa
El-e-naaaaaaaaaaaaa
Is!
Her!
Name!”
(repeat, repeat, repeat)

Of course, I only do this when we are alone!

– Elena’s mom has been taking her to a variety of nice little experiences during the day while I’m working. She takes Elena to a weekly music class and just recently began taking her on a weekly swim at the regional YMCA pool. Elena loves both music and water, and apparently is among the most verbose little participants at music class. She also loves to dance to music. We think her first “official” dance was a couple of months ago, when she started dancing along to the James Bond theme song when I was sick and watching a movie. Yes, the James Bond theme song! As for swimming, Elena is very comfortable in and brave around the water and, although she has just started, really seems to be enjoying her forays into the water with Sigrid.

– Elena’s mother is very total in her parenting, essentially dominating the raising of Elena. This means I am almost completely absolved from parenting responsibilities. Certainly, at times this is rather nice as – when I am not ill – I sleep full nights and generally avoid doing some things that I would certainly rather not do. But the downside is I do not get cherished time with Elena that I had when parenting my sons, the close moments borne from full-time parenting and their learning to rely on me in so many ways. On New Year’s Eve we had friends over and I happened to hear Elena up and crying upstairs before her mother did. I took advantage of this to go up and take care of her myself. Taking her out of the crib, bringing her onto our bed and soothing her to sleep, it was a simple but incredibly powerful experience. Easing her to sleep, stroking her hair, holding her close, looking at her with a smile that was beyond controlling, even had I wanted to. Toward the end of our little half hour together, moments she will never remember, I couldn’t help but cry: with the joy of our closeness, with the wistfulness of remembering similar moments with my sons so many years before. I need more of these times with her.

– Elena just finished her first Christmas. Sigrid took charge of organizing a lovely live tree, tasteful lights on the front porch, up our staircase and over the mantel, along with other homey accoutrements. It was really a nice, beautiful, enjoyable Christmas. While, consistent with our anti-materialist beliefs, we did not get Elena very much in terms of gifts she did receive, from us and family and friends, a wooden hobby horse, a wooden walker/wagon, a doll, a play dome with plastic balls to throw and bounce around in, books, a colorful round rug to play on, nice wooden blocks, clothes, probably other gifts I am forgetting or unaware of, and lots of love and attention!

– Increasingly Elena won’t eat her baby food, insisting on eating our adult food instead. At this point she’s tried pretty much everything we’ve eaten and has exhibited a broad palette and wide array of tastes. While sweet things are always eaten with a special urgency and desire she seems to enjoy all of the flavour profiles to various degrees. Ultimately, I suspect it is less about how the food tastes and more the fact she is eating what we are eating, how we are eating it that serves as the big attraction.

– Almost without exception, every time Elena sees me now she says “Dad”. Or, more precisely, “Daaaa” only sometimes adding the “d” at the end. She also just two weeks ago did her first sign, the hand-squeezing sign that says “I want milk!” I don’t know the signs and haven’t tried teaching her any, but it is good she is picking up on Sigrid’s efforts to communicate in a more effective way.

– Elena’s favourite thing to do with me is read. She is always delighted at the beginning of a book, and then either remains excited throughout or gets bored in some cases. She particularly likes the interactive process of turning the pages. At first when she turned the pages it was a clumsy exercise, kind of grabbing at the whole thing and turning one page, or more, or the whole rest of the book, even to inadvertently throw it to the ground. More recently, I’ve learned to – after turning to a new page – easing my thumb between the current page and next page. Once I’m done reading the spread we are on I use my thumb to tap-tap-tap the next page lightly in the air and she reaches her hand aggressively over, grabs it, and slams it forward to the next spread. This works nicely to keep her turning the pages at the “right time” while still getting her enthusiastic little interactivity with the book in.

– Elena is *extremely* long and slender but has not been to the doctor’s in a long time. She has a visit coming up in four weeks and I can’t wait to see how long she actually is…

That’s all for tonight. I’m so pleased for this simple little blog “technology” that makes it so simple to document the earliest moments of my wonderful daughter’s life. Good night…

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2 thoughts on “Elena at 48 weeks

  • January 14, 2011 at 9:26 am
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    Dirk,

    Just wanted to say how much I love reading your poignant reflections on Elena’s growth and development and about being a father. Happy Birthday to Elena as she reaches one! Can’t wait to read all about it.

    Cheers,
    Krista

    Reply
  • February 16, 2011 at 1:21 am
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    Dirk,
    I ran acrossed your web site one day when I was surfing the net and have been keeping up with it since.
    I too enjoy reading all your stories about your life and your family.
    The one about your father was of great interest to me as I was raised and went to school in the same small town.
    As a matter of fact I was very good friends with (what I have concluded to be) your uncle Mike.
    Please keep writing. You make it feel as if we know you 🙂

    Pam

    Reply

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