Hello, sweet love.
Though, as per usual, I find myself at a loss to capture you in mere snippets, I’ve finally accepted that what I have managed will suffice. You are indescribable, and every day is the epitome of fun.
We celebrate your third Thanksgiving with the Wolffs and Russells. Everything is delicious. Your favorite this year: Amy’s homemade applesauce. I’m proud to fill your plate with a taste of everything, as you continue to be a great eater. I see you eating Brussels sprouts and lettuce, but leaving your mashed potatoes. Those potatoes…I wonder if you’ll ever grow into them.
We’ve entered the Christmas season, which adds an extra layer of magic to everything.
I hang white lights and other festive sprinklings around our apartment.
We hang Mema's sacred advent calendar and pull out one new homemade ornament a day to velcro to the felt tree, oohing and aahing at each one.
We start listening to holiday music – instrumental during our early mornings together, jazzy in the evenings, and, of course, some Frozen thrown in there.
I pull out some Christmas books and get a few more from the library. We read Auntie Claus a million times. (Note to self: I need to up your Christmas book collection, which I’ve hesitated to do because, frankly, I can’t bear the sight of those books any other time of the year. I just get too excited for Christmas.)
I introduce you to some holiday movies: a few Muppet flicks, The Snowy Day, The Snowman…I’ll keep them coming and hope you get on board, for my sake.
We get our tree and have a surprise viewing of Santa and Mrs. Claus. You're very unsure in my arms, which is how I felt about seeing him at your age. He holds out his hand for an awkward amount of time, and I finally give him a high five. At home, you love looking at the ornaments for about ten minutes, but the real magic is your first hot cocoa.
Pops reveals their lit Christmas tree with great anticipation, and you look around the room for the "surprise." ("Umm...that's a nice tree, but where's the new toy?")
We can't wait for Christmas day with you. Next year, you'll know what's coming, which makes this year special in its own way: You live 100% in the moment.
What’s Big This Month:
Books: You love to sit in (yes, in, as the top comes off) the ottoman while we read, and you love when both Papa and I read to you together. You and he share a love of Happy Dreamer. When we reach the final pages – which open to reveal four pages of “happy” and “dreamer” variations, you look up at us with the epitome of glee. You identify many of us on those pages. I’m “Power Dreamer” (with the big muscles). Papa is “Civic Dreamer.” (?) Pops is “Artist Happy.” Mema is “Nature Happy.” Zaza is “Laugh Happy.”
TB [TV]: We continue our norm of 30 minutes with Papa on weekday mornings (while Mama exercises) and, often, 30 minutes during dinner prep. This is your routine, and it works well for everyone.
You move from Frozen to Frozen 2 to shorts like Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (“Ova. Fobahda”) and Frozen Fever.
“Buh sohmee” [Build A Snowman] – and “playing” Build A Snowman are both big these days. This entails you knocking on doors and saying, “Buh sohmee!” or sitting in the dark bathroom and waiting for one of us to knock and sing the song to you. You also love to make the tick-tock sound that Anna makes. And one evening, you start a new happy moment: spinning in circles while “singing” “Fuhs tah fo-ebba” [“For the first time in forever”].
You move from The Lion King to The Lion King 2 and The Lion King 1 ½. (One of your favorite bedtime songs these days is My Lullaby, from The Lion King 2, which sounds lovely but is actually a very dark revenge/threat song about killing Simba. Disney went off the deep end with that one, but something about it lulls you to sleep.
Papa introduces you to Finding Nemo (“Fuh Nemo”) and Finding Dory (“Fahvee Doh-ee”), which don’t really have any songs to listen to during dinner, much to your chagrin.
The number two: One evening, I pick you up at Viva’s house, and Kit’s mom is there picking her up. You exclaim “Two mamas!”
Routines: Routines are big in general. When you come home, you like to sit at your "oh teebo" [own little table] and watch a little TV while I make dinner. You request "edamame sack und wawa" ([edamame snack and water], with that beloved tongue-sticking-out thing on the first "m" of edamame). We eat dinner together, and you often end up on my lap to finish. You always carry your tub into the bathroom when you’re done eating, and you always run into the living room to give Papa a naked hug after your bath. You know that we read a few books, after which you’re 100% ready for your crib.
The word “LooK!” as in, “LooK - Mama.”
Morning “suggow” [snuggles] and “muhk” [milk]: How we all cherish these morning snuggles. They are truly one of the greatest aspects of our humble lives.
Eating breakfast in your “dodo” [stepstool] at the counter: You eat breakfast at the counter, lunch at your little table on the weekends, and we all eat dinner together at the dining room table. I love it so much.
Pushing your baby stroller around the apartment: You spend a long time making sure the seatbelt is on right and the blanket is on right.
Putting food in your water and milk cups
Finding “bubbies” (bellies) in book pictures.
Who are you this month?
Here are some pieces of you, in no particular order:
You now have tiny blond hairs on your legs and arms, and your hair is past your shoulders. Some days that hair is a curly halo. Those are your Curly Lu days. On other days it’s mostly straight and feathery, with some curls around your face and around the edges.
Naptime and bedtime are a breeze compared to our rocky history. Some nights still consist of you calling us into your bedroom up to about eight times for everything from a “tissu” [tissue] to finding a friend, to fixing your blanket. Toward the end of this month, you often fall asleep easy as pie. Naps are a gift: we read a few books, and you’re asleep within minutes.
You sleep with friends that take up about half of your bed – furry friends, figures, even random objects like hair brushes make an appearance.
You outgrow your small baby blankets. One night, I pull out your larger knitted blanket and have you feel its soft coziness. You smile, grateful. I look at your long body under the blanket and marvel at how much you’ve grown.
Potty training is low on the totem pole right now. Once in a while, you’ll pee before your bath, but you have very little interest otherwise. When we bring Phoebe baby and Mama gifts, you sit on the toddler potty at her house, fully clothed, and poop. Hey, it’s the right idea.
You love to climb – gracefully stepping into and exiting your learning tower, climbing into and out of your booster seat and car seat, relishing any opportunity to master new playground equipment (though those visits are sadly few and far lately). You have so many close calls yet manage to evade injury 95% of the time. You finally pinch your finger (for the first time?!), about 30 minutes after rocking so hard on your rocking horse that you keel over backward – and about an hour after falling off the couch and hitting your head on the table. But other than that strange morning, you’re usually quite adept at moving around your world.
You’re pretty clean overall. Washing hands when they get messy is very important to you.
You’re so smart. You know how to hold your paper with one hand to keep it still while you draw with the other. You can answer when I ask questions like, “Who _____?” and “Which one?” and “Where is _____?” How and when and why remain unanswered. You just know so much. While reading a book, I comment, “Oh, he’s cold!” to which you reply, “Haht.” Yes, sweet girl. He needs a hat. You figure out, after watching us…once? twice?...how to turn on our new keyboard. You find your red buffalo plaid hat, hold it up to your red buffalo plaid PJs, and exclaim, “Same!”
You’re so incredibly good-natured. Such a good traveler. And you love “pahtees” [parties], basking in the joy of it all, happy and agreeable. You listen so well and do as asked – whether bringing me something, or putting something away, or finding Paca before leaving for the day. You’re not always compliant, but I’d call it a good 90%, which is extraordinary to me.
Yet, you’re still very much a toddler. I remind your Papa that, even though it seems as though he can “reason” with you, your brain literally hasn’t developed to that point. Still, I second-guess myself. We say things like, “We can read that book after we get dressed” or “If you have a bite of this, then you can have that” and you study our faces, study our words, before complying.
Emotions are real and often gigantic. You erupt like a volcano when I tell you it’s time for a nap (sometimes) or that we’re all done with x for now – or when you can’t find Paca in your nest of bed friends. Your little face is the most pathetic sad face imaginable, especially as tears fall, the feelings crashing over you like ocean waves. When “the angries” hit, you’re prone to a single piercing scream followed by either a full-body fling to the floor or hitting your head on the back of your chair or with your hand…something to that effect. You never hit us.
Then there’s the joy and wonder: the joy of snow (and immediately scooping it up to eat it), the acute concentration as we look for images in a book, and the wonder of anything new.
Beyond emotions, there’s attachment: carrying a Band-Aid from the doctor’s office all day long, wanting to sleep with two brushes brought home from the Wolff house, struggling to hold three furry friends plus a pretend remote plus a board book plus a bracelet…
You remain deeply attached to Paca, who goes everywhere with you. What a loyal companion. You also remain deeply attached to Lily, the beloved Wolff cat. She’s your bestie, and you worship her. You shower her with snuggles and hugs and pets and kisses. You gently place her catnip bag under her paw while she lounges on the bed or chair or floor. You offer her toys. She, in return, joins you on your playmat, on the stairs, or at the window to watch the falling snow. Your souls are entwined somehow, and we all know we’re in the presence of a connection beyond our complete comprehension.
And there are still random “WTF?” moments. One morning, after finding you with one of my handwritten affirmations hanging from your mouth, I say to your Papa: “She’s eating my affirmations!” Now there’s a fun sentence.
You have such a wonderful sense of humor, chuckling at little mishaps and relishing goofiness in all its guises. The sass face remains a real kicker. Your “old lady walk” is a complete mystery and an endless crowd-pleaser. You hunch over until your torso is at about 90 degrees, your elbows bent and your hands in fists, complete with a shuffle step. We have absolutely no idea how this became a thing. Yes, you’re already a performer. Mema and I catch you twirling with your arms up and “singing” and think, “Well, the apple didn’t fall far from this tree.”
You’re more and more my daughter. You’re so theatrical, so dramatic, and you love to put on dress-up clothes. You’re also your Papa’s daughter. You do things your own way, and you want to do things by yourself. One evening, you get up and down from your chair three times because I try to help you down the first few times when you look stuck.
Again, you are on fire. You’re really figuring it all out. You have such beautiful diction, t and k for example, and you often pause between words and syllables. These are just a few examples of how you break down our unnecessarily complicated English language into pieces. Words continually shift and change. “Tomato” is no longer “minnow.” Now it’s “tominnow.” Lily is no longer “Namana”: she’s Lil-ly, with a precious little flip of the second “l.”
I’m in awe of your ability to pronounce difficult letters and combinations, and I applaud and silently grieve every developmental step forward.
Here’s a sampling of fun words…
fuzzer: sweater [as in “udder popuh fuzzer”]
freens: friends (as in stuffed toys and figures)
Beebee Derry: Baby Jelly
Counting: “Numma one…numma toh…” (We’ve seen you count up to five once or twice.)
“Wahs! Heens!”: wash hands
“Beebee boot” (your brown shoes)
“No need dis.” (after finding my headphones on the table)
“NoT boo [blue]...DIS boo!” (You hold up the other blue crayon.) “DAT boo wuhk!” [That blue works!}
“Papa ah dah [all done]...Mama ah dah…Emmy no ah dah.”
“Mama, ah foh?” [Mama, what’s this for? – holding up an acupressure foot tool]
“Papa cawwy heeties!” [Papa carry hairties]
While eating eggs: “Dis so gohd.” [This is so good.]
“Mama kee dees.” [Mama carry this.]
Overheard, as you carry Marilla the Gorilla: “Cheege dahpo Geega.” [Change diaper, Gorilla.]
“Toh orly”: too early (which is what I sometimes say to you when I go in your room after hearing you call to me at 5 am: “It’s too early. Go back to sleep.”)
"Mama. Seep. Pedge." [Mama skipped a page.]
“Dat movie wight dee-er!” [That movie right there.]
…and fun exchanges:
Big smile and headshake: “Noo…”
“Oh! Not comfy?”
“Is that good?”
“No…beenkee foded.” [blanket folded in baby stroller, aka not just right]
“Peeto.” [pictures, on the phone]
“No, we’ll look at those later.”
You look right into her eyes and say, “Wight now.” [Right now.]
“Which socks would you like to wear today?”
“Wah popo, wah peek…Popo Emmy favee.” [One purple, one pink…Purple Emmy’s favorite.]
Papa gives you a taste of honey, and you respond with a simple and understated, “Yum.”
Pops reads Down By the Bay with you, and you finish nearly every line: “Down by the…bee…Where the…wahmee go”
“Are you going to drink it, or play with it?” (your cup of water at dinner)
“Diffee muhk.” [different milk]
“Yeah, it’s hemp milk! I know you like oat milk, so I’ll get that next time.”
“Omee muhk so GOOD!...No udder muhk.” [Oatmeal milk is so good…no other milk.]
(A few mornings later, you take a sip of your milk) “Omee muhk…I. Love. Omee muhk.” Perfection enunciation on “love.”
During a morning snuggle: “Papa, cub hee-er.” (You pat my pillow, wanting Papa to “come here.”) He moves closer, and you touch the tiny hairs on his chin: “Hayoh, leedo hee-er.”
“Let’s do the advent calendar!”
“Mama wohk. Aht.”
“That’s right! It’s almost time for Mama to workout.” (You certainly know our little routines.)
“Mama no wohk. Aht! Dee hee-o.” [Mama no workout! Stay here.]
“What's in Phoebe’s belly?” (Phoebe’s pregnant.)
You say something, and Papa says, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand.” You reply, “Ask. Mama.”
We also have some fun trends as of late:
“Yes” is finally part of conversations. Variations included “Yah!” and “Oh! Yah!” and “Yup!” At this point, it’s most often, “Yeah.”
“Um” has also entered your lexicon, much to my chagrin, as I fear you learned it from me. Ah well. I’ll work on my eloquence. At the same time, your little “um” is the cutest. On December 7th, you answer, “Um…yup!” And I lose it.
“LooK!” – as in “LooK. Mama!” and “LooK. Papa!” etc.
“Siwee” [silly] – as in, “Siwee Emmy…siwee Mama…”
I will forever be in awe of language development. It is truly miraculous.
They flow constantly, but here’s a glimpse into our sweet world:
Papa and I start dancing, and you run over and join us by putting your arms around our legs, looking up at us with your little face smooshed between.
We lose Ernie for a few days, but I find him at Viva’s house. That evening, I squat down, look into your eyes, and say, “Guess who I found…” You look right at me, smile, and say, “Ewnie…” My heart bursts.
Sometimes you climb up onto the keyboard chair, turn it on, and start playing. You also love to sit on my lap and play along with me. This is one of my thousands of versions of bliss.
The vision of you running across the room to show Papa your PJs…
You release a blood-curdling scream when I don’t give you more milk (because you already have some in your cup). I look at you in wonder. You look down at your plate and say quietly, “Ahm. Sowee. Mama.” [I’m sorry, Mama.]
You start saying “Pops” instead of “Ba.” His name in your tiny voice is beyond precious.
Whenever you see someone (in a book, in a movie, anywhere at all) who looks sad, you say, “Mama Papa!” Because they need their Mama or Papa to feel better.
You sit with your head nuzzled perfectly between my chest and jaw
You get very frustrated when a bracelet doesn’t fit on her foot. You fling it away, then roughly grab Hootie and start rocking him. You grab Simba and say, “WoK. Seeba. Toh.” [Rock Simba, too]
Pops sends a video of you baking with Mema: beating the eggs (with surprisingly deft wrist action!), pouring the milk, mixing the batter…The beginning of oh-so-much baking with Mema, I’m sure.
But, more than anything, I cherish the random, sustained hugs with long looks into my eyes. Your tiny hands touch my face, like feathers brushing my cheeks, as if you’re searching my face for the person you knew decades ago. You lean in slowly and kiss my mouth, and we are in our own snowglobe of magic, snowflakes wrapping us in a cocoon.
And, more than anything, I cherish our reunions at the end of the day. If I pick you up, you run over with the biggest smile, calling, “Mama Mama Mama!” and leap into my arms, glued to me. If Papa picks you up, I hear you call “Hi! Mama!” or “Hello! Mama!” from the bottom of the stairs. Your face is frozen in the widest grin, that dimple popping like a firecracker until Papa carries you to the top of the stairs. You reach for me and we fall into each other.
As soon as I publish this, I’ll remember a hundred other moments and force myself to
let them go. Just know that you are loved and cherished beyond these (many) words.
I love you.
Love, Your Mama