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Oh dear, my Martha, Martha my dear.

At the present moment, my younger daughter is coming out of a fabulously intense developmental stage. Suddenly my baby is no longer constantly clinging to me. She has new confidence to strike out on her own. I hear the sound of her distinctive scoot-slide, scoot-slide – whose efficiency she has now refined to get across the kitchen in just a few scoots – and these days, when I turn around, she might well be out of sight. She’s taken off for the great white north. Or at least for the great white tiles of the sealift room.

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But. Within the first hour after she was born, I put her on my shoulder, and she draped one arm around my shoulder and the other around my neck. She’s still the expert hugger, and has taught us all to stand still to receive some affection. I adore that she still nurses to sleep quite often, and afterwards, when I transfer her from my bed to her bed, I linger in those moments that she’s asleep in my arms. Her body now takes up my whole torso, like a warm, breathing sack of potatoes, but for now, she’s still my baby.

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Speaking of a sack of potatoes, my northern baby loves to be amuk-ed. She’s so happy to observe the world from my back, especially now that it’s warm enough that I don’t have to put our hood up or wrap her face in layers of knitwear. But I have to watch it – regardless of the time of day, if she’s on my back for more than half an hour, she’ll be asleep. She has some tolerance for frozen fish, and she was pretty interested in the illu (igloo) we visited last week, but her most northern quality is certainly her affinity for the amauti.

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Martha is a joy and a delight. Between her maniacal laughs and her scrunched-up ham-face grins, she’s so determined to communicate: sampling new combinations of sounds, pointing gleefully at everything, pushing her way into whatever her sister is trying to do, saving her effective expressions of extreme displeasure for when she’s excluded, ignored or injured. She communicates quite well to her parents, though somehow her sister is the first to hear her saying that she needs a new diaper.

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Her birthday party was so much fun, with all her and Naomi’s little friends, their grown-up friends, and their northern adopted grandmas. She slimed up the miniature carrot cake I made her, and let all the bigger kids help open her presents and blow out her candle.

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Here’s to you, my peanut, my little monster, Maatakulu, Maataralaaq, Maatakallak, Maataga. Dear Martha, Little Martha, Chubby Martha, My Martha.

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