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Monday, July 16, 2012

Letters to Carrots : Month Twelve : One Year Old

June 7 - July 7, 2012
Dear Carys,

Well, this is it. You're one, and it makes me want to burst into tears and clap and celebrate and kiss you and watch you walk and force you to cuddle with me like a newborn all at once. I'm so excited for what the next year will bring; I'm so proud to see the wonderful kid that you've become in the last year; and I'm heartbroken that your baby-hood is over.  I was there five days a week for most of it, and cancelled cable, and committed to staying off my phone and Facebook and computer while you are awake (I succeed about 75% of the time, but sometimes I just need to look up one quick thing, which leads to 100 quick things...please tell me I'm not the only one...), but still, I feel like there was SO MUCH I missed because I glanced away that one time. If I could I would go back and just stare at you all. day. long. With a video camera. And a time-freezing machine. I wonder if I could have done something differently to remember every second, like been born with a photographic memory.  Thanks for nothing, MOM.

 You want to be a big kid so much!

 This last year has been both the fastest and slowest I've ever experienced. It feels like a long time in that it's like you've been with us forever, and it's hard to remember pre-Carys days. But at the same time, it FLEW by. Actually, my whole pregnancy with you flew by too, so it's like the last two years happened in the blink of an eye. The Rally to Restore Sanity that we went to just before I found out I was pregnant with you feels like it happened just a few months ago, instead of in 2010.  I was warned. I was warned about how the whole space-time continuum changes when you're a parent, but I didn't understand. I COULDN'T understand. But it really does. Time takes on an entirely different speed and meaning once that slippery bundle of joy shoots out of a bodily orifice.

And I want 100 more years of you. I wanted 100 more years of newborn you and 100 more years of six-month you and I want 100 more years of one-year you. Every single stage has been my favorite up to that point, and I could never pick just absolute favorite. I want them all, concurrently.  Although today your dad said, "I love one. One is definitely my favorite." And really?  I love One too.  One is full of laughs and smiles and wonder (ONEder! ha!). If I thought you were toddler-like before, this month you truly embraced the role. Your babbling is purposeful. Your walking is confident. Your gestures are full of meaning.

It occurs to me that at some point I will have to stop calling these monthly letters, as "Letters to Carrots Month 180" when you're 15 seems impractical as well as difficult to keep track of. However, I'm telling myself it's okay as long as you're still in clothes labeled "month"...although you do have a pair of 2T pants. That fit. WTF. I blame Old Navy reverse vanity sizing.

If you're my mom, you're probably wondering if I'll still be nursing you at 180 months, and obviously the answer is: only if you want to be nursing. JUST KIDDING. You're only one; you're still a baby in so many ways, and you are so clearly not ready to lose that relationship, and neither am I. We're working on slowly dropping sessions here and there and I often offer you a sippy of milk or water instead of nursing when you make the "milk" sign, and sometimes you take it. But just as often, you just want that comfort, and I am loathe to take that away from you at this point. It just doesn't feel like the right stopping point. 

If I had to pick two things to define this, your twelfth month of life, they would be walking and reading. 

You love to walk. You took your first step at 10 months and 1 day old, and it was almost exactly a month from then until the day you officially were walking more than you were crawling. You are a pretty fast and stable walker by now and you love to toddle up and down the aisles at stores while I'm shopping...pulling everything off the lower shelves, of course (note: I let you if it's something I can pick up easily and isn't breakable, but I'm not that parent who lets their kid destroy the store).  It's a whole new world for you! In fact, I am not sure I've seen you crawl at all in the last two weeks. You have been waiting to be able to walk for months now, and now that you can I don't think you'll ever go back to crawling. The second I set you down, you're off and running.  Adorably, you prefer to walk so much that if you're tired and can't keep your balance as well as you can when you're wide awake, you'll fall and get up and take a step and fall and get up and take a step over and over, rather than just crawling to wherever it is you're trying to get. And you can walk in shoes, and you can walk on grass, and you can walk carrying heavy books. You are much more graceful than I am at the age of 31! The other day we took the dog on a walk and you walked for about two blocks, which is just incredible, especially for someone who at the time wasn't even a year old yet!  I love watching you walk, but at the same time it is the most surreal thing I've experienced during your first year (besides, well, you). When did you get old enough to do this? When did you get that tall? Where did my baby go?? Who is this CHILD who walks everywhere like a real little person?

The other defining item this month is reading. You've always loved books, but now it is ALL you love. I asked your dad what I should talk about in this month's letter, and he said, "Reading. Say she loves to read. And then say it again. And again. And again. For two hours straight."  And he's not exaggerating! You will pull out every single book on your bookshelf, bring it over to whatever adult is in the vicinity, put it in their hands, and sit on their lap to listen to them read to you. Then you repeat this times a million. The other day I spent - no lie - six hours reading to you (obviously with nap/eating breaks in there). You didn't want to play, you didn't want to dance, you didn't want to do anything but read. If the nearest adult is otherwise occupied, you'll physically grab their hand, open it, place the book in their hand, and close their hand around it. Your favorite book right now is one that you're not actually allowed to read on your own, because it's a pop-up book, but you know where I keep it and the second you wake up from a nap you ask to be picked up so you can see it and you point to it until I get it out for you. It's also very large and very heavy, and seeing you try to pick it up with both hands and bring it to me is a picture I never want to forget. You grasp it in both hands, lift your arms up high with your elbows by your ears, and peer over the spine of the book as you lug it to me.  And you like books on your own too - if no one is available, you'll sit and flip through the pages on your own. I never thought I'd say this, Carys, but I actually got sick of reading at one point. What?!!?! How?!?! And I'm pretty sure that you say, "Read!" too. It's a new addition to your vocabulary if you are saying it, but each of the last few times you've brought me a book you accompany it with a "reeee!" 

Other words in your vocabulary are dog (sometimes just "dag!" and sometimes a very clear "daggie!"), dada, cat ("keeee!"), hi (said with a wave, and said to ANYTHING), and the newest - tickle! You will work your fingers against my arm or stomach and say "ickle ickle ickle" and then wait for a reaction. It is absolutely hilarious.  It took a day or so for me to catch onto what you were trying to do, but when I realized it and gave the appropriate laugh and squirm you were positively delighted.  You sign "milk," "all done," and "more."

If "reading" and "walking" are the verbs of the month, the adjective is "fearless." 

A rare example of both your climbing and bikini-hoarding skills.

I've touched on your daredevil nature before, but it bears repeating. You. are. INSANE. You are the most kinetic child ever and want to constantly be moving, preferably at high speeds and off a high ledge.  You climb up slides (and not just the little slide in our backyard, but full-size ones at parks). You climb up the couch. You stand up on this wobbly child-size plastic chair we have. You can go up or down stairs just as fast as I can.   You climbed from your rocking chair onto your DRESSER. Then stood up on the dresser. On the fourth of July, you didn't even flinch at the fireworks (even the M80s!). You looked, pointed, and then clapped and wanted more.  Seriously, I'm having a heart attack, someone pass me some aspirin. 
Your fearlessness really manifested itself during our two swimming outings. 

This kind of swimming is for babies.

We went to Two Rivers State Park this month, and you absolutely loved swimming in the river. You'd dunk your face right in and try to paddle out. Jared and Kimberly took turns swinging you through the swift currents of the water and you thought it was the best thing ever. I had you in a swim float for babies, and you wanted nothing to do with it - you wanted to be free, you wanted to be in the water, you wanted to be going. So you climbed out of it, face first into the water. And thought that giving me a heart attack was the best thing ever - you came up smiling and laughing.

A week later, we went to the annual Fourth of July part at the G's house. We've been going forever, and your dad for years before that. It's a big food/swimming/firework extravaganza (that I hope, when you are reading this, you recognize because we're still going!).  I've been looking forward to having a kid to take swimming since the start. And it figures - I forgot my swimsuit. Argh. I ran to the store to get one (hint: don't go swimsuit shopping in July; there is NOTHING left to choose from), because there was NO WAY I was going to miss this, so if you're $40 short on your college fund it's because I wasted money on yet another swimsuit. I thought maybe you would be more apt to like the baby float in the pool because there was no current and you couldn't touch the bottom. Nope. We got in the water and you immediately crawled out and faceplanted into the water. I took you out and put you on a floating lounge chair instead, which was pretty much the best thing you've ever experienced in your life. You crawled back and forth on it, tried to stand up (and succeeded a few times...we need to get you into surfing lessons!), jumped off of it, dove off of it, and slid off of it. You'd hold onto my hands across the mat and have most of your body in the water, and you'd kick around and splash and dunk your head and laugh your ass off. You wanted nothing more than for me to let go of you and let you swim already, geez, mom, are you going to hold my hand the rest of my life???! You had no sense that you couldn't just swim. 

Ignore my gross face and focus on the fact that the kid is trying to stand up on a float in the water. 

In bad-parent news that is related to this fearlessness, you fell down the stairs. I knew it was going to happen. We can't baby gate our stairs because of the way they are set up (in a wide V-shape going down, with nothing to attach to on either side), so I have been dreading this moment. I've managed to always protect you up until the other day, when you were walking by them and took a step right off the edge. I leapt over the ottoman to get to you but couldn't reach you in time, and I just heard a series of sickening thumps and then wailing. Luckily, they are short stairs (only six of them) and luckily you weren't going down fast and luckily it's "just" vinyl linoleum at the bottom and not granite or something.  So no major injuries, though you did cut your lip on your teeth and bled all over yourself and me for the second time in your life (the first was a few months ago visiting Nana in Dubuque).


You may be becoming a pack rat. You choose the most random things to be attached to and carry around...my wallet (I eventually got you one of your own), your bath towel (which you slept with one night), your shoe (which you also slept with, and woke up grasping the next morning), a crocheted cocoon photo prop, a water bottle, my bikini top (wtf?), a headband, a bag of pistachios, a plastic bag, a piece of trash...each one lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days, but it's never longer than a week. I have tried to push a "real" lovey on you but you're not interested. "What is this soft, cuddly piece of shit? Where is that crinkly death trap from Target?!?" you seem to ask, as you throw the soft lovey out of the crib.

 You dance and nod your head all the time, if you hear even the slightest hint of a beat. You love carrying things around in the crook of your arm. When you're pooping, you stop what you're doing, squat, and grunt. You are still an incredible mess maker.  You want to do anything I'm doing, whether that's doing dishes or putting on shoes. You love to play in running water.  You and the dog are best buds.  You point to and talk about everything around you. You notice it all.  You are so sweet and so gentle and so loving (but if you aren't feeling it, you'll bat them away!). If you get hurt, you don't want to cuddle; you want to walk it off, and you immediately tackle again whatever it is that hurt you (for instance, when you fell down the stairs, the first thing you did afterward was go down them, as if to prove that you can, never mind what just happened).  During your rare sad times, you dramatically lower your head to the floor and wail. It is adorable. 

I've written this before, but it continues to be true: You are so happy and so funny and so easy going. You laugh and smile at anything. You LOVE people. You've learned to say "hi" and when to say it, and you will great EVERYONE you see with "Hi! Hi! Hi!" and your bright smile. Even me, even when I've just run down to do a load of laundry. I get a toothy grin and a "Hi!" when you see come back up the stairs. I put an owl decal up in your room, and you noticed it immediately next time you woke up. Now, it too is greeted with a "Hi!" and excited wave whenever you catch a glimpse of it.  My favorite, though, is when you do it right after you wake up. You cry when you wake up, then I bring you in our room, and you lay with us and nurse for 30 minutes to an hour, drifting in and out of sleep. But once you've fully woken and you're done nursing, you'll pop up with a bright "Hi!", look over to make sure daddy saw you and give him a "Hi!" too, and then lean over the bed to say "Hi!" to Riley. Every morning, in that order. I will cry when you stop doing that and when you stop your greetings to strangers. The reactions from everyone to your "Hi"s and your smiles are the best. You truly, honestly make the world a brighter place.  Your cousin Ayah often asks disdainfully, "Are babies supposed to be this happy all the time?" 

We've continued doing things: We also went to an outdoor movie at the Holland Arts Center (where you became the mascot to everyone in the vicinity, and about a dozen people groaned when you fell while walking and faceplanted into the ground, then cheered when you got up smiling), to the Summer Arts Festival (which I vividly remember attending last year, pregnant with you!), to the zoo and Westroads play area (both staples!), and an amazing inflatable light/sound art installation called Architects of Air (which you absolutely loved). We went on a swimming playdate at Baby Leah's house. We tried to spend the night at Aunt Kimber's house, but you were too fascinated by her cats and all that was available to play with to go down to sleep. When you were still fighting sleep at 11 at night, I gave up and came home, where you immediately crashed.  You had your first Fourth of July, which, true to form, you loved.

Your hair is even lighter and more curly. Your eyes are still a very dark blue, with a light ring of hazel in the middle - although I have some pictures of you where they are bursting with blue, and others where they look almost brown.  I have given up on predicting what they are going to do (I've never seen an adult with eyes like yours, so I can only see them getting lighter or darker, but I can't imagine they'll stay this same color. You are tall, with a big head, one dimple, and wonderfully chubby baby legs. You have five and a half teeth - two on bottom, three on top, and one threatening to come through any day now.  You have a gorgeous, infectious smile. 

You are beautiful. 

You are smart. 

You are determined. 

You are vivacious.

You are wonderful.

You are sweet.

You are mine. 

(And I guess your dad's.) 

We love you more than anything. This has been the best year of my life, of your dad's life, of our lives. We can't wait too see what the next year brings.

Happy birthday, sweet pea!



  1. It has been so wonderful to read about Carys growing up over the last year. She looks like an amazing little girl, you are really blessed (as you know). My daughter was born about two weeks after Carys and you so clearly express what I would like to say. I also found your gear guides really, really, really helpful! I look forward to reading more and being a not creepy blog stalker. Oh, and where is that pink jumper from in the piano picture? I LOVE IT.

  2. Amy, the jumper is from Zulily....I know that doesn't help much, but I'll try to remember to look and let you know the brand! :)

    Thank you so much!!!

  3. You are a wonderful mother and an inspiration to me as well.
    And btw great pictures