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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Letters to Carrots : Month Twenty

February 7 to March 7, 2013

Dear Carys,

Happy twenty months of life, kiddo! In just a short time, we'll be celebrating your second birthday, though that seems hard to imagine now since it's cold and chilly and freezing and your birthday is in the middle of the summer, when it's warm. Warm and lovely. (Sick of winter, I am.)

In the last six months, you have seemed SO much more like a two-year-old than a one-year-old, and it is only increasing. Which, duh, you're closer to being two than one, so: yes, obviously. But it's still startling and unexpected, and particularly disconcerting when you say something or complete a task that seems like it SHOULD be beyond your years - yet, there you are doing it. I see these signs of you growing up every day, and I am frantically trying to keep up with you. But that, my daughter, is like trying to capture...um...well, trying to capture something that is not easy to capture. Please excuse me, I am the mother of an almost-two-year-old who thinks she's ten and my facilities are not all there (however, I can recite "Baby Bear, Baby Bear" and a number of other books by heart, so -- wash?). We try on pajamas that just a month or two ago were swimming on you, and suddenly they fit perfectly. You can reach counters and knobs and drawers that used to safely hide our drugs breakables. And, of course, as an almost-two-year-old, you have an opinion on EVERYTHING.  Which coat to wear, which shoes to wear, where I should be sitting, which toys to play with, what color crayon to use.....and god forbid one of those opinions doesn't mesh with reality. MELTDOWN. In a sure-to-change-soon fortuitous turn, though, you get over your meltdowns in record time. I doubt you've cried more than two minutes at any given time over a temper tantrum.

What hasn't changed?

You are still a crazy little daredevil.

You still have a rattail.

You're still smart and funny and goofy.

And adorable, of course. You're shy, but outgoing. Independent but clingy. Puzzles are a favorite toy. You still love to pretend to go to sleep. You still make some incredible messes. Daddy is still your favorite, but you love me most. You still love dressing up.

You continue to want to color ALL THE TIME (preferably with pens or markers but will begrudgingly accept crayons) and you love to help me cook.

Bathtime is still one of your favorite activities and you absolutely adore swim class (you now swim underwater - holy cow!).  You're a crazy dance machine. I love seeing you start bopping while we're shopping or at a restaurant.  You still love to read more than anything and read to us and let us read to you.

You've always been a loving kid, if not a cuddly one. You blow kisses unprompted when we are leaving, when going to bed, to strangers at the store. You give high fives and fist bumps left and right. You ask hugs.  You say, "Love you!" But you very rarely just cuddle, save for reading books, when you'll sit in our lap and read dozens and dozens of books in a row.  I was so apprehensive about weaning you for that reason, though several people assured me that you would come around and let me snuggle you. And, as always, the seasoned moms were right. You do indeed.  Each morning, you let me cuddle you while you slowly wake up. Sometimes we watch Curious George or Sesame Street (with an occasional Yo Gabba Gabba or Shaun the Sheep diversion), but often, we just sit together. It's my favorite time of the day.

You're a bundle of contradictions sometimes. If we go grocery shopping, you're Little Miss Trader Joe's Ambassador, with a smile and a "Hi!" for everyone we meet. Also see: Little Miss Target Ambassador and Little Miss Blue Sushi Ambassador. To the point where you will go from chirping "Hi!" happily and sweetly to practically screaming "HI!!!!" if they don't notice. But sometimes, when we first enter a new situation, be it dinner with friends or a playdate or even visiting Nana's house, you'll cling to me so hard that I think you might be able to actually melt right into me if you tried (me, or whoever else happens to be holding you at the time...but usually me). Slowly, you'll warm up and start stealing glances at people, until eventually you're the outgoing, bubbly girl we all know so well. It's fine by me if you need to take a minute to acclimate - more cuddles for me!

You LOVE packages. This may speak to my only-slightly-kidding addition to online shopping. If you see a box on the porch or hear the delivery truck outside, you yell, "BOX!" and you rush to go get it. You then want to help me open it - and could only care a little bit about what is inside, as you mostly just want to help me pop the bubble wrap.

When I put pigtails or a ponytail in your hair, you want to see it in the mirror and you pet your hair excitedly - then you immediately want to show your daddy. He scoops you up and tells you you're beautiful. And then I die because my heart explodes.

You have an incredible memory. It may not be incredible - it may be a normal toddler memory - but seeing as you're the only toddler I've got, it's incredible to me.  You were sick a few weeks ago, and I took your temperature under your arm. Yesterday, you found the thermometer, pressed the button to start it, and stuck it under your arm.

When we read books or see someone who is angry or sad or happy, you'll point out the emotion and then mimic it. You love pretending to be sad most of all.

When you get an owie, you'll immediately run to me to have it kissed, and, like magic, it's all better. I've been waiting my whole life to be able to do that for my child. It's totally as awesome as I thought it would be.

You love to sing songs, especially songs with motions. We do "Twinkle, Twinkle," "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes," "Pattycake," "Itsy Bitsy Spider," the "ABCs", "Old McDonald", and a variety of other songs over and over and over and over. And over. And over. And over.

You like things to be where they are supposed to go: books go on the bookshelf, toys go in the toy bin, and the nose on Mr. Potato Head in the nose hole. You'll put his in the wrong spot and announce, "Nose hat!" before laughing uproariously and fixing it.

We went to the zoo. Again.

We went to the Children's Museum. Again.

Neither of them ever get old.  Neither does doing ANYTHING with you.

When you want me to do something, you'll lead me around by the finger. If you want me to sit somewhere (and you often want me to sit somewhere) you'll call "Mommy!" and pat the ground where you want me to be. You'll push and pull me into the exact position you want.

If I'm carrying you outside, you tuck your arms in against my chest and bury your head in my shoulder to stay warm. You have to do this, you see, because you refuse to wear coats outside about half the time. However, the cuddles during this time are THE BEST.

When we color, you will invariably ask me to outline your hand, then have me put my hand down on the paper so you can outline mine (which equals drawing lines coming out from between my fingers). When the hand is lifted to reveal the traced handprint, you exclaim, "Ta-da!"

You nursed to bed for over a year and a half, and we stopped in February. I was worried it'd be difficult to put you to sleep without it, but you are the easiest child in the world to put to bed (KNOCK ON A LOT OF WOOD). I'll tell you it's naptime or bedtime at around 7:30, and you'll walk into your bedroom, telling anyone who is in the living room, "Night night!" and blowing kisses. A bedtime story, night diaper and some PJs later, you're ready to go. You barely tolerate me trying to rock or cuddle you and cut me off after about ten seconds, twisting away from me to get into bed. The second night of no nursing, you told me, "Night night, mommy. Bye bye." COLD! You'll allow begrudgingly allow me exactly one hug and one kiss, and that's it. You say, "I love you" and "Night night" to me as I walk out the door. And then we don't hear from you until 7:30 in the morning.  TRUST ME I know we are blessed on this front and DOUBLY TRUST ME I'm sure it's all going to go to hell at some point but I am savoring it for now. Also TRUST me that hearing your little voice say "I wuve oo!" is the cutest thing in the whole. entire. WORLD. (Even though I know you don't know what it means.)

Speaking of going to hell...so those dreaded two-year-old tantrums peek through at least once a day, but in I can always easily re-direct you. Your crying and screaming jags usually only last a minute, if that. I hear about people dealing with 45 minute tantrums and I inwardly cringe. I know that will be you at some point in the future, since every kid seems to go through that stage, but I'm grateful we haven't hit it full force yet. And still no incredible tantrums in public places...yet. (WHERE IS THAT WOOD TO KNOCK?)

Painting the paper that would later become the Valentines you handed out to your classmates.

Carys, you take after me in the talking department. You never shut up. And I love it. You talk and talk and talk. You love to read us stories, and in the car it's a non-stop babble-fest from start to finish. You're saying new "real" words every single day, LITERALLY. Words I didn't even know you knew, like "towel" or "push" or "bowl" (yet you still call water "milk"...).  I can't decide what my favorite Carys-pronunciation is, but "tank oo" for "thank you" is pretty high on the list. Oh, and "ahpee" for open.

You ate an entire package of dried seaweed as a snack the other day. Gross.

We went sledding and, predictably, you loved it. Snow plus action? OMG Baby Carys heaven. We may have tried to go down too steep of a hill together and you may have shifted on the sled and we may both have fallen off and I may have rolled on you and it may have terrified you, but luckily the situation was rectified by a quick run down the tiny hill, and you were in love with it again. Me? I'm just eternally grateful you didn't break a leg.

We went to Des Moines in early February to visit your Nana. Kimberly and your Gam-pa (I love how you say "Grandpa") went with us. We had a lot of fun visiting botanical gardens and the science center, but your favorite was when we ditched the family and went to visit my friend Sarah and her new baby Leo. While you were shy with them at first, once Leo came out, you couldn't stop touching and hugging and patting him. If we're ever lucky enough to make you a big sister, you're going to rock it.

You also celebrated Valentine's Day with your class at school (daycare). We made some cute little Valentines to pass out, and I was able to join you for the party.  You were SO excited to share your school day with me - you grinned from ear to ear the whole time.

It's so hard to end these letters, Carys, because there's always so much more to tell about you and your giant personality and I know that my memory isn't good enough to hold every detail about your childhood, and if I don't right it down, it might be lost forever. I KNOW I can't possibly remember everything, every little detail, but oh, how I want to do so. This is a magical time. You're totally innocent, yet you know so much. You're fully a toddler and almost a little girl, but you're still a baby. You're so independent, but you still rely on me for comfort. I know these days are numbered and I just want to hold onto them and live them to the fullest and only very begrudgingly ever let go.

Because, kiddo, I love you and I love almost-two.

La-la-love you. Hugs and kisses,