Zoe has a new friend. Her name is Dee Dee and she lives in a crack in the concrete in our backyard patio.

Dee Dee evolved from Zoe’s affection for nonsense words a couple months ago into a full-fledged girl in recent weeks. Dee Dee came on vacation with us to the Outer Banks last week. Dee Dee shares many, if not all, of Zoe’s tastes and interests. She takes baths with Zoe, goes swimming with Zoe, and gets her diaper changed when Zoe does. Dee Dee is brave when Zoe is brave. Dee Dee also has parents and sometimes goes places with them. Or Dee Dee’s parents follow behind us when we’re taking Dee Dee on an excursion. I gather Dee Dee’s parents prefer to drive their own car.

Along with Dee Dee, Zoe had a marvelous time at the beach. What a difference a year makes! Zoe was eager to jump in the pool and swam around like a little beaver in her swim ring, or without it. She is very fond of pool and bath toys and particularly loved a little penguin who swam with her around the pool and who she rocked to sleep and cared for with the requisite pacifier, bottle, and rattle that all beings need when they are crying.

The big theme this week was being brave. “I want to show Fuzzy how I’m being brave! I want to tell Zannah and Uncle Aaron how I was brave!” Zoe bravely jumped into the pool (and into our arms) from various steps and ladders. She bravely showered in the outdoor shower with Mommy and Daddy and let us wash her hair without crying. She bravely swam in the ocean and rode the waves with Mommy (a first!) for a while, even though “the ocean is pretty cold, I think!” While she observed several times that the ocean was very big, she was much more willing to test it out than she has been before. She was especially fascinated with collecting shells and rocks and building things in the sand. Aunt Susannah or Mommy would dig a hole and fill it with water and Zoe would jump inside, splashing for a few seconds until the water receded into the sand.

Zoe continues to try to impose her will on the world as best she can. One day at the beach the biting flies were particularly aggressive. “Go away bug! Don’t bother me! Go back to your little hole!”

Zoe has an emerging interest in cooking, and climbs up on her stool in the kitchen so she can see what we’re doing. I have experimentally helped her bake a bit, cracking the egg and mashing bananas and stirring the batter to make banana bread. She continues to be a ravenous snacker and I think understands us when we spell out S-N-A-C-K. She can spell Z-O-E and sometimes Mommy and Daddy. She can also count to 10, reliably now, in English and Spanish. I have to admit that I have been won over by Dora the Explorer, now Zoe’s favorite show, because she has actually learned a lot from watching, including Spanish words that pop up occasionally in conversation. And I am a fan of Dora as strong female role model, at least as far as cartoon characters go.