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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Letters to Emmeline : Twenty Months

July 12 to August 12, 2015
Dear Emmeline,

This cannot POSSIBLY be right. Twenty months? You will not be two years old in four months. First, it's August, and it's swelteringly hot outside. Is swelteringly a word? Spellcheck doesn't recognize it, but it sounds like it might be a word. And if not, it clearly should be. So, again, it's August, and December can't be four months away. It cannot. Second, you're still my baby. And two-year-olds aren't babies. So somehow, somewhere, something got messed up. There's a wrinkle in the fabric of time.

On the off chance that this is right, though, I'll write this letter, and try to express how happy you make me and how much I love you and fail miserably because you just can't capture those feelings in words. It's just such a big love. But damnit, I'll try.

We had a busy month - I feel like we were doing something every single day. It flew by. It felt as though only a couple days passed since Carys's birthday party - like the entire latter half of July and beginning of August haven't happened yet.

The family vacation involved 31 people from four generations (from you to my great-grandparents) crammed into a five bedroom, three bathroom house for four nights at the Lake of the Ozarks. It was a ton of fun and you loved having attention everywhere you turned (although you really weren't sure about having to share that attention with an even younger baby). We took you out on the boat a couple times and you were NOT a fan of the life jackets, although you were a big fan of the speed of the boat and watching the waves over the side...for the first hour. After that, you were about done. And fell asleep on Nana's lap with the life jacket holding you in a perfectly upright position. You loved doing watercolor paints with Nana and almost everyone commented on how you constantly seemed to be eating, which surprised me since in my mind you NEVER eat (seriously, you take maybe two bites of food at each meal). Apparently you're just a snacker. I also took you to a beach, which was totally horrible of me to subject you to for the first ten minutes, and then I was totally horrible to take you away from it. I can't win! The second beach we saw led to you immediately running into the water fully dressed, so you got over your original hesitations quickly. You did such a good job for most of the car ride (minus one carsick incident that I'm trying to foget) and kept yourself entertained with books and toys for nearly the entire drive. And you did a great job sleeping in the pack-and-play, going down for both naps and bedtime with no problem, even though there was a house full of people on the other side of the door.

In trying to squeeze out every moment of summer, I took you and your sister to the Sarpy county fair, where you DEVOURED your first corn dog (apparently that's one thing I can add to the list of food you eat) and loved watching the cloggers dance. You also tolerated the monkey leash during the parage (no judgement: it's seriously great during parades! the kids can run out to get candy, but you have control over how far out they go!) You do not share your sister's love of all animals, and when a giant pig started squealing mere feet from you, you started shaking your head no and signing "all done" over and over. I felt so bad!! You were so freaked out by the pigs that you wouldn't even touch the bunny rabbits. I hope I didn't scar you for life. If you're reading this as an adult and you break into a cold sweat whenever sausage appears, this is why and I'm sorry.

We also went to the zoo, children's museum, parks, play dates, walks, bike rides...a little bit of everything during these last few weeks of summer.

Dancing at the Children's Museum

And somewhere in all that...you started talking! Yes, my quiet girl who did nothing but observe the world with those big blue eyes and the tip of one finger in her mouth - you've increased your vocabulary by a factor of about ten. If you're in the mood, you'll repeat anything we ask you to say (which has proved a great source of entertainment for all of us - especially your dad, who loves to hear you say 'barbeque'). A few times, you've even strung two words together into a short phrase. It's so gratifying to hear you start to express yourself verbally. Some of your words are: more, baby, popsicle ("pos-ckle"), buckle ("pockle"), stuck, truck, stroller ("whoa-wha"), hot, momma, Lara, daddy, Carys ("keees"), Nana, grandpa, grandma, bird, fish, doggy, up ("pu!"), blanket ("bah-key"), brush ("buhsh"), paci ("pah-key"), cracker, milk, water ("wha-wha"), book, please, and "ta-da!". I'm sure there are more, but that's what I can think of off the top of my head - and can I just say how completely thrilling it is to be able to say that there are too many words for me to list??? And it's not a word, but a gesture - you arms-straight-out-shoulder-shrug "I don't know" is just too cute not to remember in this letter.

Ah - and one more word: "MINE!" Which usually comes out as a high-pitched whine screech scream: "Miiiiiiiiiiiiiii!" You use that one a lot. You've suddenly realized that you can stake claim on things with that one simple word and you do it all day long. You're in that toddler stage where if you have it, it's yours; if you had it yesterday, it's still yours; if you think you might want it in the future, it's yours; if you've ever glanced at it, it's yours; and in fact let's just go ahead and call everything yours including toys that haven't even been invented yet. Although....you aren't terrible at sharing, which is surprising for a kiddo your age. There was a totally adorable moment at the family vacation where you shared your popsicle with baby Cece and I melted, and you're almost always willing to give Carys some of your snack (sharing your baby doll, however, is another story. One that ends with "NO!").

You've got the cutest little face and your grin remains just completely my favorite everything. Big blue eyes with an amber/brown ring at the center, deep dimples, tiny perfect chiclet teeth, and full, rosy cheeks. Curly dark blonde/light brown hair that sweeps over your forehead so delicately. The sweetest little round tummy with a knot of a belly button and the chubbiest thighs. Oh, man, I just want to eat you up, you're so sweet. If I even spy a sliver of that belly, I'm blowing raspberries on it.

You have this fingertip-in-your-mouth pose that you do when you're tired or sad or just quietly observing life around you. You love to run up to people, pull up your shirt, and say, "Bah-buh!" (belly button) and then you expect them to lift theirs to show you. You give the best hugs, always followed immediately by a kiss. You'll suddenly drop down and do this frog/bunny hop across the floor (I NEED to get this on video). When you're tired, you'll rest your head in your hands while your elbows are propped up. And when you're observing something lower than you, you bend down and bend your knees and put your hands on your knees. When we're driving in the car, one of your favorite ways to pass the time is to call "Mommy!" and you want me to respond, "Emmeline!" You change your inflection and volumne: "mooo-MEEEEE!" and I need to match it in my response: "emmm-ELINE!" And we might repeat this for the entire 20 minute drive (with Carys interjecting her own calls and responses, and sometimes, I get silly and call other names out in response and make you laugh. I love that you're big enough now to "get" silly games like that.

And that smile. Your smile and laugh are just everything that is right with the world. When you're happy, the whole family is happy with you. You're happy with your entire body, every last cell of yours filled with joy. When you're in a good mood, you randomly put your arm around me, or cuddle Carys, or run up to me, giggling, and fall into my arms for a full-body hug. I love those hugs and I kind of want to go wake you up from your nap to get one.

The intensity of your happiness is evenly matched by the intensity of your temper - you have what they call a "flash in the pan" temper, where you're angry for two seconds and then over it. And actually, it's not so much angry as it is....serious. You flash me a dirty look to let me know that you are not happy with me, staring me right in the eyes. Then in those two seconds, you throw whatever it is that offended you, or grab shirts, or pull hair with the fierceness of a second child who needs to make herself heard, all while maintaining a serious face. It's so hard not to laugh - I try not to, because I want you to know that I hear what you're feeling, but at the same time....this big temper on such a little sprout is so funny. I'm so, so, so glad that you get over it so fast, though. Extended tantrums are not my thing (to be fair, are any tantrums anyone's thing?).

Things you love:
- Popsicles (Like WHOA do you love these things.)

- Ice cream (Again: WHOA.)

- Nursing (Still nursing. I'm ready to wean, but you....are not.)
- The magna-doodle (You request to have "fish!" drawn over and over and over and barely let us get the last fin on the page before you're erasing it and asking us to start over.)

- Riding bikes/scooters/trikes (We have a few of them parked in the family room and you entertain yourself for ages on end scooting from one side of the room to the other - you seriously might be riding a two-wheeler before your big sister!)
- Fixing people's hair (You bring a brush over and say, "brush!" and brush for a little while, then start grabbing hair and squeezing it in bunches - your attempt to mimic me fixing your sister's hair.)

- Hide and seek and peek-a-boo (Your absolute favorite game - one you initiate about 10 times a day - is to hide your eyes or go under a blanket and sit absolutely still until I notice and exclaim, "Oh, no, where's Emmeline?" The more people that become involved in 'searching' for you, the better. After you've sat there giggling to yourself for several minutes you uncover your eyes and give a huge smile. Then you want me to hide so you can "find" me. Repeat this all day long.)
- Fish (At the Lincoln Children's Zoo you found the koi pond and did not want to leave.)

- Things you can hold that are frankly kind of weird for a kid to be attached to, except not really since kids are just weird little people anyway (Like a water bottle. Or a shoe. Or a marker. Or a baby wipe. Or banana. You'll find something and cling to it until I take it away from you or you lose it, and then you wail like it was your favorite blanket instead of a piece of lint you found on the ground.)
- Lotion (If there's a lotion bottle around, you've found it and are holding it and repeatedly asking for "more!" squirts of lotion.)

- Your paci (Whomp whomp. Ugh. I'm trying to wean you from it. You only get it at bedtime and naptime and are doing pretty good putting it away without a fuss, but some days you want it so much and I hate not giving in and seeing you cry!)
- Swings (At the park, it's like no other play equipment exists. Only swings.)

- Anything you see Carys doing (You adore that girl like no other. You're her little shadow and it just completely does me in. Like I'm a puddle on the floor on a regular basis because the cuteness has just melted me.)
- Anything you see Carys playing with (Her toys rule, your toys drool.)
- Carys herself (Oy, the love there is just the best. Just the absolute best.)

- Reading books (At bedtime, you bring me book after book to read you, and even as I'm laying you in your crib, you're asking for more! more! more!)

- Dipping your food (It doesn't matter what dip and what food - if there's food, and there's something to dip it in, you're dipping it. At the family vacation you grossed out Yasmine by dipping a peanut butter and jelly sandwich into ketchup, to which I replied, "BUT SHE'S EATING!")
- Climbing (Much like your sister, you're a little daredevil who will scale and balance on anything.)

- Strollers and baby dolls (you make a beeline for them when we visit Elizabeth's house and keep them attached to you the entire visit.)
- Painting/coloring/drawing (At the Ozarks, you were the first one to start painting and the last one to stop - you outlasted a 2-year-old, a 4-year-old, and a 7-year old!)

- Destruction (You. are. a. hurricane. Hurricane Emmeline. If you have a bag of snacks, you dump it. If you have a cup, you spill it. If there's something on a table, you knock it off. If it's put away nicely, you scatter it. Basically, making a mess is your number one gig right now. And you do it so gleefully, you little stinker!)
- Water (Not baths so much, though you don't mind them, but you LOVE splashing in fountains and playing in cups of water.)

- Your Nana (You'll choose her just as often as you'll choose me if we're together. You fell down and ran straight past my arms into hers. And honestly, I love it. I love that you are loved and love other people so much. It makes my heart happy, all this love.)

Things you don't love:
- Sharing (Especially my lap.)
- Food (Especially if it's even the slightest bit healthy.)
- Being told you can't draw on yourself with pen or markers
- Being told you can't draw on the table with pen or markers
- Being told you can't draw on the floor with pen or markers
- Being told you can't draw on the walls with pen or markers
- Walking on sand (Although this is getting better...slowly.)
- Giant grunting pigs
- When you think I'm leaving (If I'm going somewhere and leaving you, you'll actually run to me to be picked up, turn to dad, and wave to him while saying, 'Bye-bye!' like maybe I'll get confused and accidentally take you with me.)

You're just such a lovebug, such a silly goofball, such a crazy little toddler. We're laughing all day at your antics. "Emmeline!" followed by a burst of laughter is a common refrain around here. You keep us entertained and you love us and we love you to the moon and back times infinity. I don't know what we did to deserve you, but I'm grateful every day for your presence.

Our Emmeline. I love you so much, little one. So, so much.


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