lulu letters: 15 months

Dear Lulu,


Well, Missy Moo (I started calling you that, and I have absolutely no idea why)...this was a month.


Here are some highlights, in chapter form…(?)

 

Chapter 1: All Things You


In Which I Gather Random Points of Note From This Past Month


About you this month:


  • You have little curlicues collecting on the back of your head. A few ringlets graze the tops of your ears, leaning in to gather those secrets your ears capture so stealthily.

  • You’re finally outgrowing 12-18 month clothing, shooting up into more and more of a beanpole. It happens so gradually, yet your legs are noticeably less stocky than they were only two months ago. When you were leggings and a tight shirt, your belly is a round melon on top of string bean legs.

  • Your face remains that of an angel. Sometimes you look at me, deep into my eyes, and I lose all sense of who and where I am. I eventually reach out to touch you to ensure you’re real.

  • You’re so intent while reading books now, pointing to things you recognize and releasing that serious dimple on your forehead.

  • You’re more sensitive, afraid of the stuffed Wild Thing at Veronica’s and running out of Mema and Pops’ dark room panting.

  • You pat your own arm when you hug dolls and fuzzy friends and other random objects (balls, remote controls, my booklight – which you know you’re not supposed to have…). You do the cutest little hand squinch when you hug your closest people as if you’re trying to pick up our essence or squeeze love between us.

  • You have new little pants with a lion on the butt, and they are the cutest darn things I’ve ever seen. We can’t stop laughing at you and your little butt and little dynamo legs in these pants.

  • You are a tap dancer! We caught you tip-tip-tapping in your little silver Mary Janes and encouraged you to do more: “Tap dance!” You did a little tap jig. You are too much fun these days.

  • You babble more and more:

  • “Dibidibidibidibi…”

  • “Numanumanumanumanumanum…”

  • “Bilibilibilibili…”

  • “Boidaboidaboidaboida…”

  • “Doobledoobledoobledoobledooble…”

  • You have the most precious silent lip smacks, as if you’re tasting something new.

  • Your gross and fine motor skills continue to skyrocket. Our chairs are a bit too high, but you can climb on the ottoman with ease.

  • You now associate me eating breakfast with our daily 15-20 minutes of TV (Encanto, Charlotte’s Web, and Sesame Street were on this month): In early January, you saw me carrying my breakfast and pointed and “Eh!”d to the remotes as you tried to climb onto the couch. Hey, it’s the only way I can eat breakfast in peace. We do what we have to do, sweet thing.

  • You officially hide! It’s brilliant. Someone starts to do a “monster” move and you scuttle away and duck behind something, all silent and sneaky-like.

  • We think you squat when you pee…Every so often we catch you squatting for a few seconds and remember how you squatted and peed on the floor during our brief “Let’s run around naked after a bath because it’s fun and freaking adorable!” period (which, after the second occurrence, signaled the end of that period).

  • For the first time, you sometimes flat out refuse to try a food that we offer you. Way to nurture that stubborn streak, m’dear.

  • You’re mastering some signs! “More” and “Please” and, thanks to Mema, “More, please!” “All done” is also making somewhat of a comeback. You also wave bye-bye when prompted. You’re so darn cute.

  • You’ve learned how to remove your bib. One evening, you sign “All done” and remove the bib. Brilliant.

  • You’re more and more of a daredevil. Mema says you love the thrill of risk-taking, and I agree. One evening, I look across the room and you’re standing on the ottoman, bouncing your knees up and down with a huge grin on your face. Papa tries to remain calm so as not to startle you off: he puts his wine on the counter and walks over. We decide it’s the end of the ottoman for now.

  • When we’re looking for something, or I ask you where something is, or when we’re otherwise wondering, you sometimes put your arms out to the sides with palms forward, as I do when I say, “Where did it go?” You’re so observant. (Slash I really have to start watching myself…)

  • You open doors by pushing down on the handles. So much for quiet showers.

  • You are so stinking determined. You want what you want, and you’ll keep at it for a surprising amount of time.

  • You’re learning that not getting what you want is INFURIATING. You have been known to put your arms down by your sides as you scream so angrily your face turns pink and your entire little body shakes. Hopefully, this is not a taste of what’s to come, but I’m not holding my breath. Even though you hold your breath sometimes…Yes, you’re trying on all kinds of new expressions this month. You terrified your Papa one day, grunting and holding your breath in your car seat. He thought you were having seizures.

  • You give more hugs now. You hug my legs and hang between them when I’m in the kitchen. You hug me from behind when I’m kneeling (usually picking up books or toys). And some days you’re more affectionate than others, wanting to be held more and spontaneously wrapping your arms tightly around me. These are things I always envisioned as part of a joy-filled future, and you have brought them to life for me.


Some favorites this month:


  • Books: Arthur’s April Fool (an unlikely standout, but, as your Papa says, “Sahzeech sahzone!”), The Salamander Room, When the Sun Rose…So many books are big hits these days. We spend a lot of time reading and looking at books.

  • Toys:

  • Furry friends: Lily Cat remains #1! Quite a winning streak here, I have to say.

  • Necklaces: You’re often adorned with at least one.

  • The Loving Family: Mema dug out Zia Leah’s figurines and camper, followed by the house. When at their house, you more often than not have a few figurines (usually the mamas and daughters) jammed in your hands.

  • Aunt Jen’s tea set: One day, we read Bunnies for Tea under the “fort” we made with a blanket and chairs. You had your Calico bunnies in your hands, and I pulled out the tea set. I said, “Look! The bunnies are having tea. And your bunnies are having tea!” You looked at the bunnies in your hands and pointed to the bunnies in the book, your brain whirring. I agree: pretty darn cool.

  • Taking off and putting on – pen caps, spray bottle caps, chapstick lids, my contact solution bottle, and whatever I’ll let you experiment with.

  • Dancing! Your current modes of dancing are:

  • Bopping up and down by bending your knees (when standing)

  • Rocking forward and backward from your hips (when sitting or lying down)

  • Moving your head back and forth (that one kills me)

  • “Tap dancing”

  • Spinning

  • Waving: You really got the hang of this one this month and wave your entire arm now.

  • Admonishing things: I’ve told you how you got a kick out of Mema admonishing Lily on the table and how you started admonishing your own furry friends and toys at home. It remains a major source of entertainment for you. It excites you as nothing else does – you shout-babble, laugh maniacally, shake your pointed finger, and are beside yourself with glee. Are you a sociopath? Time will tell.



What made us laugh this month:


  • After you throw some food on the floor, I ask if you’re done with dinner and begin to clean up your tray. You grab a falafel chunk, look right at me, and stuff it in your mouth. Then you immediately do it again with the last falafel chunk. Your Papa and I turn our faces so you don’t see us guffawing. Is it intentional? It must just look like you’re acting like a teenager because WOW: I didn’t think one-year-olds were capable of such sassafras.

  • You guffaw when I take out the Dustbuster and want me to “chase” you around the room. I hear your giggle soar through the air, dancing over the monotonous buzz.

  • We’re playing “Momster”: you try to get off the couch, and I swoop you back up, over and over again. I finally let you get away, and you run away and laugh as I chase you with my Momster “Ahh!!...” voice. You run to the other side of the chair and dip down to HIDE. Crouching down, silent as can be. Again I ask, is this normal for one-year-olds? To play HIDE AND SEEK?! I apparently don’t give you enough credit, no matter how brilliant I think you are.

  • We’re all cleaning up after our last dinner together, and I see you standing by yourself in the dining room, staring upward. Abigail walks in and sees the cause of your spellbound wonder: a tiny spider is slowly working its way to the floor on a single thread of silk. Zia Leah holds you, and you stare at the spider inches away from your face. “It’s Charlotte!” Mema exclaims. And the wheels in that beautiful blonde head turn. You are transfixed.

  • You, Papa, and I are dancing before dinner. You start spinning in a circle, leading with your head. You crack yourself up as you grow dizzy – falling, then falling again on your bum. After that, we just have to say, “Spin, Lulu! Dance!” and you start spinning. If we say, “Tap tap tap!” you tap tap tap your little tap dance. Stop it.

  • I’m drying off after a shower and Papa says, “Go smack Mama’s butt!” You walk right over to me with a huge grin and start smacking my thigh. Yes, he taught you that.

  • I admonish you more strongly than ever when you unplug your bedroom light. (For some reason, your fascination with cords and outlets has returned.) This is one of the only times we raise our voices, and we want to really hit home, but you don’t always take us seriously when we tell you “No!” Anyway, on this occasion, I don’t realize that I pointed my finger, until I put you on your changing table, and you start babbling and shaking your pointed finger at me. It takes every ounce of strength I have to not laugh – to simply say calmly, “Yes, that’s right. We don’t play with cords…” Good grief, woman.



And, last but not least, sleep updates:


  • 12.17: I put you in your crib, and you reach up. I offer my hand, and you wrap your fingers around my pointer thumb and nestle my hand under your chest. I melted. As I rock you a few minutes later, you hold my hand again. I’ve been waiting my entire life for such a moment.

  • 12.19: Let it be known that this date is Day FIVE of you sleeping until around 6:30 am. Is it a pattern? I’ve learned not to hope, but perhaps this is a Christmas miracle.

  • 12.21: You wake up at 6:45 this morning. We make a FULL WEEK with 6 ams – the earliest day being 5:50 am. This is huge.

  • 12.28: You sleep until 7:30 am, calmly waking to a “Bop!...Bop!...” until I walk in, not believing what just happened.

  • 1.3: You sleep until 7:15 this morning. Granted, we’ve had quite the festive week of family visiting. Still…praise be. Happy New Year to us!

  • 1.10: We rock for two minutes and you signal toward your crib. I put you in and you happily roll to your belly, cuddling your faithful furry friend, Lily Cat, and gab yourself to sleep. It’s 6:45 pm. Wild as it may seem, this is kind of the norm these days. And, this occasion in particular, I’m a bit sad that the rock is so brief. After three days of Papa rocking you to sleep due to my COVID fatigue, I cherish our brief time together in our chair and marvel at how far we’ve come together already.

  • 1.12: In yet another first, you refuse to let go of your milk cup as I rock you to sleep. I attempt to gently release it several times, but you snuggle it in closer and fuss me away. I eventually put you in your crib with the said cup, on your belly as is the way, and you can’t get comfortable. Shocking. You give up and reach your arms toward me. We try again. Again, you refuse to release the cup. I finally wrench it from your kung fu grip (something I avoid at all costs with any object), and you’re gone. So far gone. Lost forever. Crying so hard you lose your breath. Screaming. Writhing exorcist-style. For minutes straight. You can’t calm down. So, I just put you in your crib. You cry for a minute before passing out. Wow.

  • 1.16: Sleep is a bit more all over the place this week. Some mornings you wake up between 5 and 5:30 am, other mornings it’s closer to 6:30 am. Some nights you go to sleep easily on your own, other nights you need to be rocked to sleep, and, once in a while, you have the darndest time settling down. Still, it feels easy compared to the past.


*For the record, I feel no need to update you on food. In short, you eat pretty much anything (minus mustard, which you clearly did not prefer at this juncture) and you usually have a hefty appetite. I buy these little pasta "meals" to have on hand in case I need a quick meal for you. You usually eat what we eat, unless it's soup or something super salty, etc. Anyway, one of those "meals" is about one-quarter of a meal for you. Ha.

 

Chapter 2: Christmas


In Which You Run and Run…and Run Some More


Our second magical Christmas together, and you still didn’t quite get it – other than the fact that, yes, there was a lot happening.


Here are some snapshots:


  • You run around in your elf pajamas for most of the morning, doing your own thing (as per usual) while the rest of us open gifts.

  • You run around later in the evening with Christmas ribbons draped around your neck.

  • I show you how to “drink” from the teacups that Aunt Jen gave you, not expecting you to understand – and you follow suit about half a minute later.

  • You pull the red wagon from Mema in circles around the kitchen, loop after loop after loop.

  • You open Zia Leah’s incredibly special gift – a handmade purse and wallet just for you – and throw it on the floor (you got into it later, don’t worry).

  • You love your new furry friends: a bumblebee/bear thing (?) named Buzzbee and Baby Jelly a gray cat aptly named Belly Jelly after the larger Jellycat.

  • You see Casey’s molasses cookie. He offers you a tiny bit, and you immediately point and “ask” for more bites…and then, when he finishes the cookie and closes the box, you try to pull the lid off the box.

  • You hug your Russell family goodbye – reaching out for Andy and giving him a huge hug. Such beaming joy on his face.

  • You spend about 20 minutes after dinner trying (and succeeding) to stand your new Calico bunnies on your highchair tray – a perfect gift from Uncle Luke.

  • You find multiple Nalgene water bottles and hoof them around, milkmaid-style, in total glee.

  • You run and run and run. Nonstop. Through Christmas, through New Year’s…

 

Chapter 3: Rectal Thermometers

…In Which We All Get COVID


1.5: Your cheeks are very flushed, and you don’t seem quite yourself. I take your temperature rectally because it’s the most accurate. When I insert it, you immediately clench your little butt cheeks and hoist your butt up and away from me, your expression reading something like, “What the FUCK is THAT?!” Pardon my French. Your temp is 102.


1.6: You test positive for COVID. My heart breaks. Your Papa also tests positive. I don’t. I spend the day so worried for you, my love, especially when you sit completely glazed over and lethargic in my arms as we read books. It hits your Papa that night.


1.7: I test positive. We all have COVID. I feel rather out of it, yet spend the entire day chasing after you, as you’ve somehow managed to bounce back to most of your usual self. I'm at once deflated and elated. Discouraged that it hit after two years of being so careful. Elated that you seem a-okay. I see you wearing your Superman t-shirt and think, "What else would she wear?"


I spend the next two days completely out of commission. The entire family has it, minus Pops: Mema, Zia Leah and Uncle Luke, Abigail and Michael, Isabella and Jorge. I’m hit the worst. Amy suggests my severe stress over you probably shut down my immune system. I buy that.


1.16: Your temp has stayed a relatively steady 99.5 for over a week. You’re mostly yourself, though I can tell you’re still not 100%. Your Papa and I are still recovering. I spent about four whole days in bed, very slowly crawling upward and out of the haze. However, more cold-like symptoms hit us yesterday. This illness feels like a relentless cycle of different symptoms circling within – and it has only been ten days. May we fully rebound soon…They say it can take months to fully feel like yourself again.

 

As usual, I’ve attempted to capture snippets of you before they’re lost forever in the mosh pit that is my brain these days. COVID layered on top of Mama Brain, and it’s rather a lost cause. So, I’ll end here for this month.


I love you, I love you, I love you. I apologize for so much affection, if it ever feels smothering. I really try to hold back (aka not kiss and hug you constantly). I’m just still in awe of you. I always will be.


Love, Your Mama