Today, Lara and Gloria are one year old!
In this year, they have more than tripled their birth weight and they have grown more than 50%. In terms of growth, Lara is still ahead of her sister, meanwhile 2cm taller and 2 pounds heavier. In an amazing demonstration of neural network growth, the girls have learned to smile, to laugh, to hold their head, to turn around, to grab and to pick up crumbles. They have learned to eat from a spoon, to crawl, to sit up, and to stand. They have been through all vowels and are currently working their way through the consonants. They like to take and give toys, and as of lately have learned to throw them. They have both made the first stumbling step, but still deem crawling safer.
Lara has meanwhile two teeth and has found out that grinding them makes her daddy draw funny faces. Gloria has one tooth and now discovers all the possible ways to make noise with it, like running it up and down the bed posts or biting on cups.
It is interesting that while the girls are very different in character, they have made all developmental steps almost simultaneously. If one of them learned something new, the other would soon follow. The one exception is that before Lara could crawl, she had a phase of moving by rolling sideward that Gloria entirely skipped.
Every month, somebody told us the worst is yet to come. The worst are the first three months because they don't sleep through the night. The worst are months four to six because they sleep less during the day but can't yet use any toys, so want to be entertained around the clock. But wait, the worst are months six to nine because they get mobile and you can no longer just put them somewhere and go about your own business. Months nine to twelve are the worst because they get teeth and there goes your night rest. Now that the first year comes to an end, we've been told 12 to 18 months are the worst, because they start to walk and you can't leave them alone for a second. And just wait till they start talking!
As for me, the worst were month -3 to 0, everything after delivery was a vast improvement; I clearly wasn't constructed to carry around 17kg excess weight.
Still, this year has been very exhausting to say the least. We changed an estimated 5000 diapers, picked up pacifiers 20000 times, and our commuting from Heidelberg to Stockholm and my occasional conference attendance has been organizationally challenging. Scientifically, it went better than expected, in that I did manage to write two proposals (one of which was meanwhile declined however), gave a few talks, am organizing a workshop, and did indeed publish a paper. For me, the main problem working from home is the difficulty staying in touch with colleagues, which is also why there are some papers in the pipe that are not making much progress.
Stefan and I, we have been fighting now for more than a year with various institutions in Germany and Sweden for our parental benefits. Just in time for Christmas, we received good news: three quarters of what Stefan applied for has been approved. The problem with the remaining quarter is a fundamental incompatibility between counting in German and Swedish. The Germans count the months of parental benefits starting with the day the child is born (i.e. the 29th in our case); the Swedes count from the 21st on. In addition, the Germans count a month of leave as "taken" even if only one day has been taken. Based on this, they have calculated that for us the year 2011 has 13 months, and we've applied for one month in excess since we mistakenly assumed the year has 12 months.
We still haven't seen a single cent child allowance.
We have also encountered an ambitious local photographer, who has plastered the town with advertisements for "baby-shooting," and whom you have to thank for the creative arrangement in the below photo.
PS: You find some little videos here.
PPS: For birthday greetings more material than words, on Lara and Gloria's Amazon wishlist you can find what the girls will need in the coming months.