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lulu letters: month 31

Dear Lulu,

I started to walk into the kitchen yesterday morning (it was a Papa morning), and I saw you standing by the sink wearing a purply sparkly tutu. You held out your arm and said, “Nooo!” I quickly backed into the bedroom, closed the door, and got into bed. You walked in about 30 seconds later carrying a plate of sliced kiwi and said, “I love you, Mama.”

This is you.

My face hurts on a daily basis because I can’t stop smiling at the wonder of you. You are so smart. So sweet, so observant, so emotionally intelligent. So curious and aware and independent and seemingly beyond your years. You make nuanced connections, and you have voracious curiosity. You don't miss a thing. Not one thing. I see you with other kids your age and can't help but notice differences without looking for them.

The month flew by like no other, and I find myself at the end of it with only a few handfuls of collected tidbits. In short, it’s constant, and I can’t keep up.


Your language capacity is beyond comprehension. Viva said that you currently sound somewhat Russian, and I have to agree. Many words sound a bit garbled, as if you have a few marbles rolling around your tongue. A few examples:

  • paws: poas

  • sleeping: slah-eepin

  • little: leedle

  • lane: lah-een

I love watching you try to construct sentences, trying multiple times to put words together to form the intended meaning. It’s such a beautiful thing to witness.

We have conversations pretty constantly, and you’ve also started talking to yourself (or to us, always assuming we hear everything you say). Narrating, talking to your dolls and furry friends, singing to them…

You constantly ask questions.

  • Me: Okay, let's put on these puppies! [shoes]...Why you call them puppies?

  • What dis caowed? [What's this called?]

  • Why you say "My face hurts?"

We see your Uncle Mike for the first time in a year and a half, and he says, “Most toddlers respond with something like, ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ She responds in full sentences.”

For example:

  • Yes, I wiw use dat kee-on. [Yes, I will use that crayon.]

  • Yes, I wiw be keefo. [Yes, I will be keefo.]

  • No, I don’t want dat. It’s lucky. [yucky]

You completely attach to his friend, Kim, within about five minutes. I’ve never seen you glob onto someone so quickly. She has long blonde hair and blue eyes, and I believe you see her as an extension of yourself—or at least as some sort of soul sister. She comes downstairs the following morning wearing glasses, with her hair in a bun, and you say, honestly befuddled, “Where’s de udder Kim?”

We will never forget that.

Here are a few other monthly gems I managed to scribble down:

  • I want cereal…(Me) Puffins?…Yah. I was talkin’ bout dat seerow [cereal].

  • (Me) I think Anna and Elsa are your bed…Anna’s in dere, but I don’t see Elsa!

  • (Looking at the thrift store for “teesos” [treasures]) We beddo bowwo dat. [We’d better borrow that.]

  • I LOOVEE Paca. He my best fee-end.

  • (Seeing someone wearing a tree costume in a book) Tees don’t weaw [wear] eyes!

  • (Asking Papa to eat a playdoh cookie) Be peetend! [pretend]

  • Look a dis! Simba’s wingin' on my fingie. [Look at this! Simba's swinging on my finger!]

  • You have a cool sirt [shirt].

  • I want Orly cause he’s always in my bed.

  • (Me) Are you my little echo?…Yah. Ahm yo leedo echo.

  • What you doin’?...(Me) Washing your cup!...Oh, deekoo! [thank you]

  • Who’s gonna be at Viva’s house today?

  • You want a fig Newton, Papa?

  • Me: Newton, New Jersey! This is where Pepaw lives!...Like fig newtons!

  • Where did you put the fig newtons?

  • I tried, but it didn’t work.

  • Papa took my sick. [Caught my cold?]

  • (offering Papa one of your mini-waffles) You can hahv dis waffow, please Papa? [You can have this waffle please, Papa?]

  • ​​I want M&Ms (after dinner). Me: How many M&Ms?...(You hold out your arm with fingers spread widely) Umm…Dust five.

  • How did your day come fum, Papa? (I think this was my favorite line all month, after, "Where's de udder Kim?")

  • I want to paint with wattocowers. Ah you okay widdat? [I want to paint with watercolors. Are you okay with that?]

  • (Walking by the small park where the farmer's market is held) Sere's da fahmers market! Ihs not open dass ihs cohsed. Nobody is dere. Dass too bad fo dem. [There's the farmer's market! It's not open, it's closed. Nobody is there. That's too bad for them.]

  • Goodbye, Papa! See you laydo! We goin' go seck on Lily. We be bahk soon! [Goodbye, Papa! See you later! We're going to go check on Lily. We'll be back soon!]

Words continually shift. "Leedo" [little] is now "leedle," the "l" a new addition. A few choice words and progressions:

  • Banana is now “banbana.”

  • Orange is now “otteege” and yellow is “lie-yo.”

  • Swing has shifted from “wee” to “wing.”

  • small: fall

  • smell: foo (among my personal favorites, as in “I foo sumpin.”)

You can sing more than several songs now, including:

Tinkle tinkle leedo tao

How I wundo what you aow

Up above da word so high

Like a diamond in the ky…

Baa baa black seep

Hab you any woow

Yezziryezzir fee bahg so

One fo da masso, one fo da dame

One fo da liddle boy who lives down da lah-ane

Wockabye baby

On the teetop

When the wind blows

The cadle wiw wock

When the bough bakes

The cadle wiw fow

And down wiw come baby

And…cadle…and awe

One morning, you start to whine immediately upon waking up. The first thing you say sounds nonsensical, and I realize you’re sharing a dream for the first time: “I wanted to go on da hosse but somebody ewse was goin’ on it!” [I wanted to go on the horse, but somebody else was going on it!”]

That night, after a very difficult bedtime, I suggest, “You can dream of the horse!” A huge smile breaks open your face as, lost in the fantasy, you murmur, “And no one gone be on it…”


You’re a young child (even though you’re a “big go”), which means everything is important. That said, you usually have some flavors of the month.

Favorites this month include:

  • The “Wizad O Waz” (figurines and watching certain scenes with Mema)

  • Using your kid chopsticks for cereal and even hazelnuts (now that’s some serious skill)

  • Your first ice cream cone (and your first mint chocolate chip ice cream), which you eat like a pro, though I had to show you how to eat the cone. You’re a bit reticent about that aspect at first.

  • Blowing fuzzy dandelions, especially because you’ve mastered the blowing technique, complete with a very audible inhale to prepare

  • Painting, which these days usually includes Papa or I painting Brave, Lava, or Wizard of Oz characters

  • Throwing rocks in the lake

  • Visiting me in my workout garage

  • Dancing

  • Playing outside, especially on playgrounds: Swinging and climbing like a monkey are two popular pastimes

  • My made-up song, “Buhleebaleebalee…” One night, you ask me to sing a song. I say, “Which song?” and you reply, “...Buhleebaleebalee.” So, I make up a song like so:




On the third line, I speed it up and nuzzle your neck on the “leebaleebelee.” The look of pure glee on your face could explode stars. After three “verses,” I ask you to sing it. On the third line, you pull my face in, speed it up, and pull my face in to nuzzle it.

  • Amy and Andy. They’re already on your top list of favorite people, but you get to spend so much time with them this month while Mema and Ba are in Italy: Two days with Amy and one with Amy and Andy. I also invite us to their house for Mother’s Day, where you share a special gift you made me: Lake treasures (stones and glass and shells), plus a small crystal because it’s Amy, glued to a big, flat stone. Andy says you were very deliberate in your placement choices. Amy gives me a string of pearls plant, and we give her photos of you and them as well as a candle from Papa. You make them a card complete with drawings of you, Amy, and Andy. We are blessed to be surrounded with so much deep love.

You often (not always) say you don’t want to eat dinner, but you always get upset and run over when we start to say grace. I love that that’s what always gets you to the table. You say, “I’m deeko fo…[I’m thankful for]...” and usually insert food you like on your plate or a character…and so forth.

When you work yourself up into a sometimes-delirious tizzy, we deep breathe together. I think Papa was actually the first to teach it to you, but I’m sure I taught him. Regardless, it often works like a magic spell. The best part: On several occasions, you do it on your own. I’ve witnessed you suddenly start doing big inhales and exhales through your mouth as if blowing birthday candles or whispery dandelion petals until you manage to calm yourself.


At the Taughannock playground one morning, we’re playing near a young girl with her mother and grandmother. You and she are about the same height, but I know she’s older. Her mom says to her, “Look! She looks like she’s about your age!” I ask how old she is, and her mom replies, “Five.:

. . .

Though it boggles my brain that you’re already two and a half, I need to continually remind myself that you’re only two and a half. You seem so much older in some ways—your language, your emotional intelligence (constantly asking “How s/he feel?” while reading books to name just one example)...not to mention your stature. Chandra comments on how you’re still learning how to walk, which seems crazy to me, as true as it is. I do attribute a good portion of your falls to your mammoth feet at the end of those long and skinny foal legs, but you’re also just a toddler learning how to balance and counterbalance and self-regulate.

We hit a particularly fun milestone at the end of this month: A forward-facing car seat!! We could have done it earlier, but everything I read said to keep it rear-facing “as long as possible.” Still, you’ve been scrunched in there for far too long. Five minutes into this new adventure, I experience the whole “kicking the back of the passenger seat” aspect of forward-facing children. Ha. But how I love turning around and seeing your smiling face looking right at me versus a mirror.

We end the month with Mother’s Day. You and Papa wake me up with a card made by you, gifts that you help me open, and breakfast in bed. You say, “Happy Mama’s Day!...I want to eat yo bekkis.” [I want to eat your breakfast.] We snuggle, you hold my face and say, “I love you, Mama...I love you so so so much," and it’s already one of the most beautiful days of my life.

Today is our third Mother’s Day together. I will never take years lightly, nor take the passage of time for granted. Three years feels like time twisted into a nest of helices. In short, it has no logical path of movement: a self-contained, elusive phenomenon.

I want to freeze this moment and keep you at this age for so much longer than time will allow. The vision of you in your little chicken nightgown spreading jelly on your toast with your wooden knife, the sound of your little sing-sing voice babbling to yourself...that wild hair...It is all perfection. Or how, when we whisper something in your ear we want you to say, you whisper in response, giving it an unintentional sacred quality.


At dinner, as always, we ask you what you're thankful for. Tonight you have the most thoughtful response yet. You point to Papa and say, "Him...I'm deeko fo Papa." I have to laugh at the irony of this proclamation on Mother's Day, but it's perfection just the same. You then continue with, "I love you, Dennis."


After I tuck you in, I sit down at the keyboard. I don't do this often these days, always have other things I "need" to do buzzing around in my brain. But what can I say? Our spirit moves me.

I'm a few pages into a ballad when I hear your feet pad in, with Papa's permission. You run to the keyboard and look up at me with a smile full of more radiance than I've ever seen on a face. Your eyes glow electric blue, your wild blonde hair frames your face like a halo, and the room suddenly warms with some kind of divine presence.

"One song," Papa reminds you, and you whisper, "Yes."

I quietly pull you onto my lap and continue, playing and singing softly. You press the keys ever-so-gently, joining me in the grace of the moment. At some point, you rest your head on my hands as they continue to play.

This is how we end our third Mother's Day together, and it is everything I've ever hoped for in this one precious life.

I love you.

Love, Your Mama


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