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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Letters to Carrots : Month Eighteen

December 7, 2012 - January 7, 2013
Dear Carys,




Eighteen months. Good gosh. That's practically two which is practically five which is practically eighteen which is practically thirty which means I'm almost a grandmother and sob, I'm not old enough to be a grandmother. I hardly feel old enough to be a mother! 


Carys, I love you. I just...love you. With every fiber of my being. Your smile lights up my soul like nothing else. It's as though there's a physical connection between the two. I feel it sometimes, that tenuous and invisible thread that links us. It makes my heart ache in the most amazing way - a physical pain as my heart struggles to expand enough to contain all the love and joy within.


One day last week, I was watching you eat, and I was struck by how old you looked, and how much like a true little GIRL. You looked a year older, just overnight. It was something in the way your hair was curling around your ears, or the way you smiled at me with a mouth full of teeth, or the way you expertly drank from a real cup while eating with a real fork. Even in the moments when you're at your most "baby-ish," laying limp and sleepy in my arms rather the twisting to escape my grip, I have to search my memory to see any hint of the baby you once were. You're halfway between one and two, and let me tell you, kid: you're ALL two. It's hard to believe it's been just six months since your birthday, because you have grown so much in so many ways since then.


Your eighteenth month brought snow and Christmas and joy and wonder.  We watched the snow falling outside the window and your eyes grew bigger as the drifts grew deeper. Even though it was late, we couldn't wait until the next day to take you out, so bundled you up in your slightly-too-big snowsuit, evoking memories of Randy's snowsuit in the "Christmas Story." The combination of snowsuit and hat and gloves and boots delighted you; we could have stopped there and played inside and you would have been thrilled. When we got outside, you turned in a slow circle and took in the landscape that was so vastly different than the last time you'd been outside.  We threw snowballs, we rolled a snowman, you kicked and stomped, you did snow angels (unprompted - this must just be a kid thing and not something you have to be taught), you fell face first into it purposefully over and over. You looked at the snow stuck on your gloves and tried to shake it off and laughed in delight when it wouldn't come off. You would have happily stayed outside for hours, but it was cold and dark and frankly your mother hates both of those things and was ready to go inside. We went out again the next day and you chased you dad as he used the snowblower.  Snow - said "no!" - is a new favorite word. Every time we pass by the front door you beg to put your snowsuit on and play outside.





Christmas came and went so quickly - too quickly.  But it was filled with enough activities that it deserves a post alone, so that will be coming later. Summary: Family is awesome, Santa the figure was a hit (you loved pointing him out and saying "ho ho ho!," Santa the person was scary, wrapping paper is the best ever, and our house is now filled with 50% more crap.


In other round-up news, you went through a food strike, which is apparently how one-year-olds exert control over their lives that are largely under autocratic rule (if two parents can share an autocracy). While I knew it was a normal stage of development, it was still incredibly frustrating. You went two weeks where you would eat MAYBE five bites of food a day. I busted out old favorites, tried new foods, attempted to trick you with smoothies, and even gave you things that I would never normally feed you (for dinner), like cookies. You wouldn't even open your mouth to take a bite and see that it was a sugary sweet morsel of delight. Just as quickly as it started, however, it was over, and you were back to your normal eating habits, which is to say that you'll eat pretty much anything. So I can safely say: yes, toddlers can actually survive on air.


The biting/hitting continues to be a work in progress. You stop for a while, then start again. It's still when you're overtired, overexcited, or frustrated, so it's easy to head off, but when it happens you look shocked at what you just did and gently stroke my face saying, "soft, soft." The "soft touch" lesson seems to be sinking in, at least.


Daddy is still your favorite, or so you say when we ask, but if we ask who you love most, you'll say, "Mommy!" You also respond 'mommy' if we ask who you love least and who is the silliest and what color the sky is, so you don't know what you're saying, but at least now I have a rebuttal when your dad pulls his, "Who's your favorite?" trick out.


On Sunday, you spent your first night away from us. You've spent the night away from the house and away from dad before - with me at hotels and at your Nana's apartment in Dubuque, but never away from both of us. I don't know how I managed to get zero pictures of this momentous occasion, but there you go. Bad mom. We all went over to exchange Epiphany gifts (per family tradition) and I set up the pack and play in Nana's room. Nana and Kimber gave you a bath, and while you were distracted your dad and I quietly slipped out. And you never noticed, you little traitor. You laid down so easily and quietly that Nana was sure you'd be up again, but you were out for the night. The next morning, you weren't awake when Nana woke up, so she got ready to take a shower. As she glanced at your pack and play on her way out the door, she saw your little eyes peeping over the side and your little hands grasping the rail, watching her. Not a sound! After bringing you home, she just kept repeating, "She was SO good. Just so good." Your Nana misses you so much when she's not here, kid. Like a lot a lot.


But I wasn't surprised at how well you went down - you've been a dream to put to bed the last few months. You'll tell us when you're tired and head to your bedroom. It takes all of three minutes to put you to bed. You sleep all night, you nap for two plus hours, and it's wonderful.


You have always loved to be naked - I think most kids do - but this month you started saying the word ("nakeh!") and doing your Naked Dance. When it's bed or bathtime, I just have to say, "Let's get naked!" and you'll run over and start stripping your clothes off. When the diaper drops and you're free of all those cumbersome clothes, you jump up and shout, "Nakeh!" and then you will literally start dancing while shouting "Nakeh!" (Your dancing = bouncing legs and spinning in circles and fist pumps and head bops). The other day, your dad came home right as we were at that point of the night, and you ran to greet him at the top of the stairs with your naked dance. Naked dancetime might be your favorite time of day.


Even though you'd usually rather be taking clothes off, you love picking out your outfits, and usually compliment them with an array of hats, gloves, shoes, extra shirts, and perhaps a blanket on your head. You will put on and take off every pair of shoes in your closet - I'm not sure if this is so much a fascination with the shoes themselves, or just the fact that you can put them on and take them off yourself. You go to sleep with socks every night, and wake up barefoot every morning (a child after my own heart, as I cannot STAND socks). There have been several times when we've left the house with you wearing three coats. You also love wearing our things - glasses, shoes, jewelry, coats (as the tails and arms drag on the floor behind you). We discovered a stockpile of our clothes that you'd nabbed and put in your dresser drawer.


You also love dancing with clothes, and making funny faces, and singing songs ('Itsy Bitsy Spider,' 'Pat-a-Cake,' and 'Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes' are favorites).  You put Mr. Potato Head's nose and tongue in your ear and looked like a very small punk (this freaks your dad out a LOT - he's convinced you will rupture your eardrums - so we haven't let you do it again).


You love to open and shut your dad's backpack and every morning he has to check to see what you have hidden in there - a puzzle piece, a baby bottle, a book, a shoe. You love making us laugh by whipping out your signature gangster arm cross and eagerly enjoin us to follow suit.


You like to jump off tall things, and climb anything, and make forts with your blankets. You still like to pretend to go night-night. You love fasteners - zippers, snaps, buckles, velcro. You are obsessed with your dad's helicopters (sorry, quadcopters). You ask me for it first thing when you wake up, even though you know your dad is the only one who can fly it. So you run to the bedroom and try to get him to wake up and fly them for you, and when he finally does drag himself out of bed you race to him, beg to be picked up, and direct him to the "heh-ca-ca."


You pack up your bag (a blue and red owl backpack) when we go on outings and try to take your babies, the bottle, an extra pair of shoes, your finger puppets, and anything else you can cram into it. You don't have one lovey - you have a hundred. Your lovey is whatever toy or blanket is within eyesight. Yesterday, you went to bed with two blankets and a stuffed doll and a stuffed bear, and when you woke up, you pulled them out of the crib and handed them to me: "Bankie. Bankie. Buby. Roar." You still love animals, real or not. If you spot ceramic animals on walks, you make a beeline towards them to pet and cuddle them.



Your word explosion continues, with new words coming every day. Backpack. Dance. Grandpa. Nana. Chair. Blanket (bankie). Helicopter (he-ca-ca). You recognize circles and stars. If I count ducks on a page in a book, you try to mimic me by stabbing your finger at the page and saying, "un! oo! ee!" (though of course you don't know what you're saying yet). You might know a couple colors, but it's hard to tell if you know or are just good at guessing. You finish puzzles in a flash, can build tall towers of blocks - and knock them down like a pro, of course - and can peel clementines and bananas.  You use a fork and a spoon well, and you drink from a real cup (we still use spill-proof cups for on-the-go, though - these ones, for anyone wondering).


You still have gray eyes and one dimple, with skinny shoulders and arms. You still only have three of your four front bottom teeth, but all four molars and all four top teeth. Your hair is still short and thin and wispy and curls in the back, but you have these long pieces that I can put in pigtails. And if there is anything that screams toddler, it's tiny pigtails.


You still nurse a couple times a day. We just recently (fingers crossed) cut out the before-nap session, and are working on dropping the nighttime and morning sessions. Mornings are going to be the hardest, I can tell. But kiddo, if you ever want a little brother or sister, we're going to have to take this leap together. And I'm pretty sure you want a sibling - you LOVE babies. Real babies or doll babies, you want to hold them and feed them and put a diaper on and pat their back and cover them up with blankets and put them to bed. And undress them, so they too are "NAKEH!". Strangely, you like undressing your Cabbage Patch doll and putting just shoes on her. You will then hold both of her hands and help her "walk" around, which, predictably, is adorable. You'll also go on all fours and ask me to hold the doll on your back so you can give her a horsey ride. God willing, finger crossed, flying spaghetti monster hoping, we'll get you a sibling to boss around soon.


You're just a fun kid, Carys. A really fun, awesome little girl. So sweet, so funny, so smart, so spirited.  I wouldn't trade you for the world. Maybe the whining. I would trade that. For like a nickel. But you? No way.

Love, mama




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