Friday, November 30, 2012

Julia is two!

I did write this right on her second birthday... Just taken me awhile to get it posted! (Apparently I've run out of storage space for photos, so that's been confounding me... Unfortunately, no photos but here's the long update on my big girl!)


My dear, dear, sweet baby girl,

You are TWO years old! Every month, I think, “This is my favorite age yet!” This past year, you have grown in so many ways and astounded your father and me.

You went from saying and signing a few words, to signing up a storm, to talking nonstop. The constant stream of words babbling from your mouth is darling, exhilarating, and exhausting. You signed for a long time; you had about a hundred different signs and sounds and combinations, and it let you communicate with us while you weren’t quite ready to start speaking. “Food,” “water,” “frog,” “octopus.” You know, the important things. Then, around 18 or 19 months, you suddenly embraced verbal communication. You rapidly picked up more words than I can count, and you started putting together sentences almost immediately. “Mommy drive Daddy’s silver SUV.” “Mommy change Lana’s dirty diaper.” “Julia lick doggie.” “Lana poop everywhere!” When you were learning, you would throw together a string of words and let me sort it out: “Mommy Julia pick up school black SUV every day lunch.” Now, you pick up a different idiom every few days, and each new one is more adorable than the last. “Now what?” “Um… maybe?” “I LOVE IT!” Or your latest: “Move!” I’ve suspected you’ve always understood us more than you ever let on, but now it’s clear you get almost everything that someone says to you.

You started school this year. The first two weeks were pretty rough. You cried, I cried, and then you caught on that I always picked you up for lunch and you started to like it. Now, some mornings you actually get upset with us if we’re not getting you ready for school quickly enough. You’d run out without clothes or breakfast if we let you. (Yes, without clothes… we’re working on that.) It’s really neat to watch you learn new things from other people. Two days a week for a few hours is perfect. You sing songs, play on the playground with your friends, and do art projects. And you absolutely make my day every time you see me come pick you up. You drop whatever you’re doing and run towards me with your arms wide open, with a pure joy, “Mommy!!!” Don’t ever grow out of that, ok?

Another big first for you this year was your first baby sister! Lana was born a day after your half-birthday. At first you thought she was pretty neat, then you were seriously over her, then you ignored her, and now you’ve settled into a rhythm of mostly gentle tolerance. Lana, on the other hand, absolutely adores you. Just seeing your face makes her break out in a huge grin, and it only takes one “peekaboo!” from you to make her belly laugh. She watches you, which is tough because you’re constantly running from one thing to the next, and you are her favorite person in our family right now. I can see the beginnings of clashes between you two – mostly over toys and my attention right now – but I can also see the very tender beginnings of a loving sisterly bond.

Other big firsts for you this year:
·      Your first trip to the beach. You loved it, you fearless little thing you - right through the sand into the waves. Your favorite part was asking Daddy to dig you a hole in the sand, then sitting in it while we poured buckets of water around you. “More?” you’d sign.
·      You learned to count. You can actually count up to three, but can recite your numbers up to ten.
·      You learned the alphabet. You can sing it (although sometimes you get caught in a loop at the end: “Now I sang my ABCs…. D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K….”), and you know some of your letters. I don’t know how many, since you’ll never identify them on command, but you frequently come up to me out of the blue, hand me a letter from your alphabet puzzle, and tell me which one it is.
·      You’re slowly learning colors other than green. You like to sort things by color and match colors together, but you’re again very coy on which colors you actually know.
·      You’ve gotten almost all your teeth! We’re waiting for you to finish your last four molars (as of now you have two so far), and we’re done with teeth for a few years!
·      You (very reluctantly) kicked the bottle habit, and now you’re eating solid food and drinking drinks like a real little person. We ditched the high chair and you’re in a booster seat at the table. It’s wonderful. You smear food everywhere and you’ve probably ruined my nice, wood table, but it’s lovely sharing meal times with you. And it’s lovely that you sometimes will bring me a cup and ask for a snack. Or bring me a cup and ask me for juice. It’s so much nicer than you standing in the kitchen, wailing, while I guess what you might want.

 You started the “terrible twos” at about a year and a half. You started having meltdowns over things like wearing socks (we have a lot of meltdowns about socks, actually), or getting in the car, or sitting down to eat, or generally doing things that weren’t really on your immediate agenda. And you went through quite an adjustment when Lana was born, too. But, you’ve evened out a bit and I’ve done my best to respond appropriately when your feelings just get too overwhelming. And really, it’s just that you’re SO passionate about everything right now. While wearing the wrong colored socks (PINK socks are for NAPTIME!) feels like the end of the world, it also feels like you’ve seen the sun for the first time in your life every morning when I get you out of your crib. You can be unimaginably sweet. You love to “snuggle,” where you throw your arms around my neck, burrow your face into my neck, and hold on for dear life. You give kisses and say, “sweet dreams!” to your dad every night before bed. You giggle absolutely uncontrollably when your dad or I chase you around the house and “get you!” You love to sing and go on “adventures.” (Although it better be good if I promise you an adventure – you should have heard how upset you were when I brought you to an ordinary playground on “an adventure.”) You sit in the back seat of my car and sing along hilariously to my music. You like Dixie Chicks and Red Hot Chili Peppers. You love hugs, kisses, and tickles. It takes almost nothing to get you to break out into a grin, any time.

You are a delight. You are pure maple sugar candy right now and I wish I could keep you at this age forever. Your light shines so brightly, and I love being your mom. Hugs and kisses to you on your second birthday, with wishes and prayers for many many more.