It seems like a long time since I last wrote. At that time, we had just arrived in San Diego, and now we're about to leave for Lexington, Virginia. It's a crazy time for the Mossoffs, but Samantha is doing just fine with all the changes. We try to keep up with routines and rituals, and to always tell her what's going to happen so that she has some security. I think it's much easier to move around like this now than it would be when she is older.
We managed to visit a lot of people we know in Southern California while we were here. My parents were able to spend quite a bit of time with us, too, which was great. We have loved the weather here, and the fires didn't get anywhere near us. We are now enjoying some high surf conditions and the beach across the street is crowded with surfers every day. A few days ago we had lunch in the park and it felt like a mild summer day - just lovely.
Samantha is so different than she was three months ago, but it's mostly in the details and hard to describe. A lot of it is communication. She understands so much of what we say, and her sign language helps her talk back. The only words she speaks consistently are mama, dada, and no, which is always expressed as "nonononono." But she learns signs for just about anything that is important to her. It's interesting how, if it doesn't matter to her, she'll just never pick up a sign. She has strong preferences for all kinds of things now - food, toys, books, etc. When she wants something, you know it! She also points and verbalizes in a way that we, as her parents, understand even if they are not true words.
She took her first steps in mid-November and she's taking an independent step or two every day now. She can walk with a "push toy" which is just a little thing with wheels and a handle that helps her balance. She can also walk holding on to one of our hands. She LOVES to walk! I think she'll be walking on her own within a month or two. She likes to scribble with any kind of writing device. She knows what most objects around her are for - when she picks up any brush, she puts it to her hair, when she picks up a tissue she puts it to her nose, she likes to try to mop the floor with the mop, and sometimes she tries to wipe her own bottom. This is a big change - in the past, the objects were interesting in and of themselves but now she is beginning to understand purpose and function. She is also crazy about bath time now that she is old enough for the big tub. Every time we go past the bathroom she signs "bath" and I have to tell her "not now - later." That's what we get for teaching her sign language!
Sam recently had surgery on her eyes to unblock her tear ducts. It went perfectly and it was a really easy procedure. Her eyes are much better now so it was worth it. She got her first 6 teeth in the past 3 months, too. She looks so different with teeth. Her hair is coming in but it will still be a while before she stops looking bald. Between her lack of hair and her small size, people usually think she's about 9 months old.
One of the best things we did recently was to visit a "Candy Cane Lane" - a block of homes that go all out on the Christmas decorations. Since this is Southern California and warm enough to be outdoors at night, it's designed to be walked through instead of just driven by. We all enjoyed it, but Sam was just in heaven! She loved the lights and characters such as Santa and Frosty. This is her first Christmas with any real awareness of what's going on around her and it's so exciting for us!
We're spending Christmas with friends in Richmond, then heading out to Lexington around New Years. We don't have time for Christmas cards this year, so I'll take this opportunity to wish you all a joyous Christmas and a prosperous New Year. Wish us well as we continue our adventures, and I'll write again in a few months.
*Disclaimer: The Sam Update began as a series of e-mails sent to family and friends starting when Sam was less than a month old. To keep the chronology I've faked the dates here on the blog to reflect when the updates were actually written. They were really added to the blog in May 2008, with just a bit of editing. All subsequent entries will be posted directly to the blog.