Gisele's a very different baby from the beastly infant that she once was. It has been a slow change, but worth the wait. There are so many funny little things that she does now, and it seems like she's up for anything. The worst torture for her is staying inside the apartment for any length of time. She wants to ride in the car, play with our neighbor's rocks, or visit her disease-carrying friends. She enjoys stroller rides, and usually keeps her left arm hanging out the side so she can grab things as we pass. The danger in that is that I once ran her hand into a cactus.

As predicted, Gisele still shows no signs of crawling. She is obsessed with trying to walk, though. In the past week, especially, she is becoming more and more fixated with walking (see the 10 month video for a demonstration). While I'm holding her hands so that she can practice walking, Gisele likes to turn her head and chew on my thumb as she walks. It's very silly. Today I noticed that she is no longer content to be toted around on my hip on our outings. She constantly twists to slip out of my grasp and onto the ground. Besides the slow pace, there is also the inconvenience of her shoeless feet. But never fear! I'm on the ball and have ordered Gisele's first pair of shoes.

Gisele had her 9 month check-up last month, and as her pediatrician says, "There's nothing wrong with the way this kid grows". She was 30" long and 24 lbs., both measurements above the 97th percentile. Her growth is leveling off, though, and she's slimming down. Much of this may be due to the fact that she still won't eat solids. Yep, she's 24 lbs. of breast milk. I have noticed that Gisele likes pieces of food that she can gnaw on more than pureed baby food. The big challenge may be in the beverage category, however. Perhaps because Gisele has never had a bottle or pacifier, she's finding the concept of sippy cups detestable.

Like her parents, Gisele is developing a rather dark sense of humor. As I'm nursing her to sleep, she'll often clamp down on my much abused nipple with her pincer-like teeth. When I gasp and pull her off, she laughs in delight. Other forms of negative reinforcement meet with the same result and I'm left cursing under my breath in frustration. Another apparently hilarious activity is grabbing Stimpy's fur. He's very patient and only sometimes looks as if he'd like to bite her. These anecdotes may shed some light on how Gisele has acquired such nicknames as "hell hound", "vicious beast of nature", and "turkey".

A lot of time has passed since the first time I put up comparison photos of Nels and me, so I'm doing it again. The two pictures below on the left are of me, and the two on the right are of Nels. So who does Gisele resemble more? To me, she seems to be quite a blend of the both of us.

Cousin Connection
Watch your step! Do you know the trials and indignities that Annick's carpet has had to endure recently? If it isn't George grinding blueberries into it with a chair leg, it's Anne leaving a trail of poo upon it as she crawls around naked. Anne still enjoys an inordinate amount of time in her natural state. Perhaps this contributes to her amazing agility. Like a billy goat, she tries to climb any and all vertical surfaces. Her favorite challenge is climbing George's dollhouse (pictured below). And while I hesitate to announce Anne's Big News for fear of the inevitable comparisons to Gisele it will engender, I've decided to reveal it now so that I can spin it. Anne, at 9 months, started walking. But before the "congratulations" start rolling in, be aware that she doesn't walk further than across the room, and when she does, it's with the gait of a drunken monkey.

What's new with Georgie? He's enjoying being the star of his soccer team. He's also by far the tallest member, which is surely a reflection of his vegetarian diet. Because Valentine's Day is upon us, George has been busy making cards for everyone. As he says, "Everyone needs a Valentine". But this sweetness belies a naughty little boy. George has been extremely rambunctious and hyperactive lately. Annick keeps complaining about it, but she still won't take my suggestion to dope him up. As Nels would probably say if I asked him, "This is America. If I want to modify my child's behavior through the use of modern medicine, I can. It's called 'freedom', and if you don't agree with me you must hate freedom and are therefore a terrorist".

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