Early on, before QQ's first surgery, I had a lot of wonderful pictures of her facial expressions of beguilement. At that stage, she was only just learning to crawl, and if I put her in my studio, she was pretty much confined there. She was just discovering her happiness with us, and would seek attention and eye-contact by making her wonderfully beguiling facial expressions at me. It was really fun taking dozens of photos at that point.
Since she has learned to walk, she is much more occupied, and much more scattered around the house. She's very speedy, and very curious, so it's harder to keep up with her with the camera. She's also more independent and less confined, and she has learned very quickly to communicate her wants and needs and gain attention through a combination of vocalizations plus very eloquent hand, face (and foot) gestures. She's very bright, and has no trouble communicating that way at this stage.
These days, her artful beguilement is reserved mostly for the times that I am preparing her meals, during which time she grins, winks, hugs, and winds herself in and out of my legs in a very catlike and affectionate way. I'm wise to her, so I know exactly why she's turning on the charm.
Now and then, however, she still has a period of sheer happiness where she turns on the charm, the smiles, and the open affection just to show us that she's happy to be alive and together with us.
This photo sequence is from one of those times.
Here, she is climbing around on a shoebox, just to show her dexterity and coordination.
Here, she's holding and patting my hands.
Once again, I have to admit that we frequently "press her buttons" by saying the words that we know she will respond to. "Show me your feet" is one of them.
But there are many others, and more by the day. If I ask her to show me her knees, she'll pull up her pant legs. If I ask where her ears are, she'll pull her tiny, rubbery ears forward with her fingers. During mealtimes in my lap, she loves to have me touch her eyelashes, eyebrows and hair, saying the words, after which she touches my eyelashes (at great danger to my actual eyes, since she's not all that gentle) and then bats at my newly-shorn hair. It's also fun to hand her any sort of hairbrush or comb, and watch her go to town on her fine fringe of hair. She's quite dexterous and can brush her hair front and back more or less effectively on her own, even with my big, heavy wooden brush.
She has not yet learned the distinction between "hairbrush" and "toothbrush" however, so she sometimes brushes her hair with my electric toothbrush, which is so funny that we rarely correct her. (We still brush her tiny teeth with a washcloth, so she doesn't yet have a toothbrush of her own).
Oops, couldn't help asking for the feet again, because it's so cute to see her do it. I doubt if she could resist, even if she's bored of the exercise. It's a thoroughly pavlovian response at this point, which is why it's so easy for us to abuse the privilege.
Here she is winding herself through my legs just for the fun of it (I was not making a meal for her at the time).
Seriously. Can you see why she has us so thoroughly wrapped around her little fingers?
Incidentally, that book that she's chewing on is the very first book we ever gave her - a "soft book" we bought for the trip to China, which doubles as a teething toy, and which proves a saving grace for us on the 24-hour return trip to the US.
Though she has graduated to more advanced books, this one remains a standby, and she frequently carries it to us for a read.
It's an extremely simple "starter" book, with very few words, and when I bought it for the trip I didn't expect it to be worth much in the longrun. The pages include instructions for touching your nose, touching your toes, spinning around, jumping up and down, and, finally waving goodbye. As it happens, these few simple lessons have stretched out through her developmental process. One at a time, she has very deliberately learned how to do each of these things, and is always proud when she accomplishes the next. She learned the "touch your nose" while we were still in China, and is so bored with it now that she often wants to skip that page. "Touch your toes" took a lot longer. She learned "toes" not long after we came home, but reaching down to touch them was another matter. "Wave goodbye" was one that we thought she'd pick up quickly, but apparently she needed to learn her "stranger danger", and then begin to be comfortable with other people again, before she dared to start waving goodbye to departing guests. Now, she does it quite frequently.
I didn't dare tackle "spin around" until a couple of weeks ago, when she was getting steady on her feet. She loved watching me do a ballet pirouette the first time I demonstrated, and did her very own (wobbly) version the next day when we pulled out the book. I was so very proud!
The last one she tackled was "jump up and down", which she only attempted a few days ago. To our delight, she immediately realized that she was going to need to bend her knees in order to jump...so her progress was pretty quick and stable. Today, when I read her that page from the book, she immediately bent her knees...but then decided she wasn't confident enough without support, and ran to a chair for stability before going into a series of very correct little leaps.
I swear...that girl is so smart!