In the past week and a half, Chloe's communication skills have really blossomed. She's been able to say dadadadada and mamamamama and a variety of other sound combinations for awhile, but she didn't appear to be using them meaningfully as words. Last week, she started to clearly use dada and mama sounds for Daddy and Mommy. I also figured out that the "ah-ya" sound she makes is her name for Maya. It is very sweet.
At the same time, she has learned to shake her head for "no" and to sign "all done", which have started to make things a little easier at meal times. Though it should be noted that signing "all done" can often more correctly be interpreted as "No more of that food mommy, please give me something different now". We can also no infer "yes" from a lack of a head shake, or her emitting a random excited sound when asked if she wants food or water or to nurse.
It's a relief to have these first words appear. Chloe has had quite a few meltdowns lately, where she's clearly been upset about something but we haven't been able to figure out what it was she wanted. Her little needs and wants have gotten more complex as she develops, such as wanting specific foods, or to be read a particular book but by Daddy not Mommy, but we're often left guessing as to what combination of things she wants at a particular moment. I know we have a long journey until she will really be able to express herself in detail (heck, Maya's 4 and we still have breakdowns in communication at least once a day) but at least we're on the path.