Here we are, almost at your first birthday, and these days when I nurse you, your body stretches long across mine, your legs hang off my lap. Where there was once this tiny peanut whose entire body fit between my neck and my stomach, there is now this little girl, who stands and thinks about walking before dropping down and racing across the floor on all fours, beelining for all of our electrical cords, the bathroom trash, your brother’s dropped dinner crumbs, the banjo, the stairs.
Els, you are such a delight. You regularly crack yourself (and us) up, scrunching up your face at the dinner table and cackling at everything and nothing. Your greatest joy in life is to crawl across the couch, pulling yourself up on the arm rest, and stand there, bobbing up and down, squawking with happiness. You stand so well, so sturdy, now, and we stand you up, just a few feet away from us on the carpet. We stretch out our hands towards you, urging you with the space to take a step; you squeal and do mini-squats, excited until you drop down on your knees and crawl over to us, then up on our laps, ever climbing up, up, up.
You love to dance, love to sing, and often I catch you lately, quietly singing to yourself, or better yet, quietly humming and ahhing along with some song at church or on the computer. It is such a sweet and gentle song that you sing. And you’ve got moves, baby girl; you bob your booty up and down, or wiggle your torso when sitting, at the first note of any song, though you seem partial to Desiny’s Child circa 1999 or kid techno-beats like The Hampster Dance.
You are finding your voice more and more everyday, filling our ears with mamamas and aspirated dah!s, squawking like a happy bird in public restrooms, clapping at the sound of your own echoed voice. You greet us with a happy and breathy “baaaah” when we pick you up from your nap, a sound you make with a wide-open-mouth smile whenever something excites you. We believe your first legit word is a friendly hi, which admittedly sounds a little more like aye but you say it with so much warmth, such a big smile, such a vigorous wave that we’re counting it. Your face lights up if anyone says hi and waves to you; your whole body wiggles with excitement.
This month has also served as your introduction to Christmas. You are obsessed with the tree skirt under our tree, the one your Grandma Pam made so long ago, with all the sequined snowmen. Despite our ottoman barriers, you would worm your way to it, crouching over it and staring with wonder, then trying to sneak in a chew on the Christmas lights or pull off an ornament or two to mouth. We celebrated your first Christmas with just our little family last week. You, of course, loved (and chewed) all the crinkly paper, but when you opened the little play cell phone we got you, your eyes lit up. You held it up in the air as if to show us, and then actually sat and played with it for a few minutes, like you knew what opening a gift was all about. We still sort of can’t believe we bought one of our kids a techy toy, but you take such joy in finding my phone or seeing it light up, that we had to.
While you don’t seem to be winter’s biggest fan, we’ve discovered that you will tolerate being outside in the cold if we pull you around in a sled; the moment we stop, you burst into tears and look at us with the saddest eyes. At times, I fear for your teenage years, because your eyes, Elsa, when filled with tears, are irresistible. They are big and blue and wet and imploring.
For now, we say no to you in an attempt to teach you about the dangers of chewing on chords or touching the fireplace, and to you, it is the greatest game. You look back at us and immediately start giggling. When we finally pull you away from the object of your heart’s desire, you squeal at us like an angry baby piglet, and it is a sound of annoyance. And then it’s our turn to laugh.
Your love affair with all things dogs and cats continues…I think I’m going to make a dog cake for your first birthday party. You clap upon the arrival of any dog and squeal and laugh when they lick your face.
Elsa Bear, I love you so much. You bring us a tremendous amount of joy and it’s hard to imagine life without you. You make all three of us laugh all the time, and when you’re sleeping, I legitimately miss you. Lately, you’ve been waking up from your afternoon nap just a little bit before Owen – probably due to the two teeth you’ve been cutting on the bottom. It’s rare these days that you and I get time alone. Owen always seems to be awake before you. But these last few weeks, I have snuck in about fifteen minutes with you in the afternoons before he wakes up. We nurse and snuggle quietly by the Christmas tree lights, then read (and chew) a book or two before getting on the floor. You love it when I crawl with you or play peek-a-boo with the curtains, and we just play together while I try to make you laugh. Our play is much quieter than my play with Owen…softer but no less silly. But by it I can tell that you are a different bird; you watch me intently, you delight in being close to me, and you, in the midst of play, will crawl over to me and up into my lap to give me a little snuggle with snarfie. Every day when your dad walks in the door, you greet him with a dah! immediately start crawling over to him, pulling yourself up on his leg, not content until he picks you up with his cold hands and gives you a hug and a smooch. I love that about you.
Honeybear, you are the daughter of my dreams.
Things you Love: baths (your splashing together with Owen is epic), crawling, standing, music, dancing, eating most foods, pretzel rods, pacifier, dogs, cats, when your dad comes home, my cell phone, your cell phone, OWEN!, seeing other kids in general, Owen’s sppy cups, your own sippy cup, the toilet, the bathroom trash, electrical chords, Christmas lights & ornaments, dancing with your dad, being pulled on the sled, sleeping (lately, you’ve been diving for your bed), tvs, videos, and screens of any kind, talking with your dad by video chat, the banjo & guitar
Things you Hate: getting your diaper changed, getting dressed, getting out of the bath, falling down, when we stop sledding, teething, being with babysitters / in the nursery