You are nineteen months today! I've let these monthly letters fall by the wayside, but it has dawned on me that unless I intend to start keeping a proper baby book for you, I need to write something down once in a while, otherwise, when you ask me how old you were when you took your first steps, I'll be forced to say, "Um, somewhere between one year old and your college graduation?" Sure, I've occasionally been posting your milestones on Facebook as status updates, but Facebook's archive feature leaves much to be desired, to put it lightly. It just took me ten minutes to bring up my status updates back as far as September, I'd hate to see how long it would take to bring up years of back entries.
So, before I get to the gushy stuff, here's what has happened in the past six months in the milestone department:
September 24, 2009: First molar (top right)
October 8, 2009: Second molar
October 11-16: Visit to Vermont to see Nick and Timmy
Week of October 20, 2009: All three of us got sick - we're pretty sure it was swine flu
October 31, 2009: Second Halloween - dressed as a Starbucks barista
November 8, 2009: First time climbing the play structure and going down the big slide by yourself
November 10, 2009: First sentence: "Wow, look at that!"
November 10, 2009: First steps! (You took two steps, twice, with a LOT of coaxing; you started regularly taking steps on your own about a month later)
December 17-20, 2009: Visit to Western NY to visit my aunt and uncle and my college friend and her five sons (you loved those boys!)
December 23, 2009: Went to Disney on Ice with your cousin Trevor
December 25, 2009: We spent your second Christmas at Nana and PopPop's house
January 10, 2010: Spontaneous day trip to NYC to visit a friend. Played on the big piano at FAO Schwartz
February 7, 2010: First time sledding (tied on Mommy's back)
February 8-15, 2010: Visit to Ottawa to see Grandma and April and Jacob and the Munniks
February 19-21, 2010: The King family came to visit. You got to go to the zoo with Noah while Emily and I cleared the clutter out of your room
Now, looking over that list, I realize there are several things missing. You now have four molars, and only two are documented. The next two came within the next two months, I'm fairly sure, but so much for keeping track of dates. And so many things are simply not measurable as firsts, like your developing sense of humor and emerging nurturing instincts. I guess that's why the monthly letters were a better guide than the occasional point form list of milestones - they gave me a chance to reflect on your development more generally. Oh well, you live and learn.
I somehow let TV creep into your life over the past few months. I wasn't going to, but you enjoy it so much, and it gives me some free time to do things like dishes that you otherwise won't sit by and let me do. I'm picky about what I let you watch, though. You only get to watch things that I like, and that don't annoy me. You ask for your favorite shows by name: "Wiiwii" with accompanying wiggle fingers is The Wiggles, "Wawa" with accompanying head wobble is Pingu, "Baby" is Monsters, Inc., "Elmo" is Elmo's Adventures in Grouchland (the movie, not "Elmo's World" the TV show), "Maou" is An American Tail. You're a very empathetic TV watcher, or perhaps you will be an actor, because you're more fun to watch than the actual movies. You whimper when the characters are scared, cry when they are sad, and laugh when they are happy. At first, I thought you were getting too worked up by the movies, and maybe I should show you less stressful movies, but then I realized that you were pretending along with the actors. It's adorable.
Our friends Phil and Rachel had a baby at the beginning of November, and Asher brought out a new side of you that I had never seen before. You showered him with kisses and hugs, and sat holding his hand, and begged us to let you hold him. Then, when we got home that night, you dug through your toy box and found all of your baby dolls, and started kissing them all goodnight. This "little mother" stage is really endearing. You feed your babies, carry them around, try to tie them on your back like Mommy does with you, put them on the potty, not to mention shower them with kisses and hugs. Once, when you were nursing, you popped off and asked me for your baby. I handed you the closest doll, and you immediately put the doll to my breast so she could nurse for a little while. It was very sweet of you to share.
Your verbal skills continue to improve. You babble in sentences, now, and more and more of the babbling is becoming recognizable as words, even to outside observers. You can repeat almost anything you want to repeat (although that doesn't translate as "anything we want you to repeat"), and every once in a while, you boggle my mind with a word or a phrase that I had no idea you knew how to say. The other day, you were "helping" me fold laundry, and you picked up a pair of underpants, and said "underpants". That's a pretty big word, little girl. It frustrates you that we can't understand you completely yet. You'll turn to me sometimes, and let fly a long stream of syllables that mean nothing to me, and when I say I don't understand, you'll repeat the exact same syllables. It's obvious that you think you're making sense, and I feel bad that I don't understand you, because you're trying so hard. You have a pretty big vocabulary for a child your age, probably 200 words or so if I sat down and counted, but it's not enough for you. You want to be able to talk as much as the grown-ups do, and you try your best. Honestly, I think you're saying more than I give you credit for, I bet you are really saying twice as many proper words as I can understand. I'm sorry I'm not a better listener.
You can walk everywhere on your own, now, although you still like to be carried or worn more than half the time when we are out and about. I think it's a confidence thing. You were very tentative about taking your first steps, but once you realized you could do it, you dove in. You love to explore, as long as Mommy or Daddy is close by, and when we are in a familiar place, like home, you are a climbing maniac. You have recently discovered that you can climb up onto higher places by using intermediate items as stepping stones. Last night, for example, you figured out how to climb onto the dining room table by climbing from your potty to a chair, then onto the table. You're usually quite cautious when you're climbing and exploring, so I don't worry too much about you falling off the table, for example. You seem, however, to have inherited my ability to hurt yourself doing simple things, like sitting on your little chair or walking on flat pavement. You'll cry for a minute, but you'll usually get over it quickly, then dive right back into exploring, even when your face looks like you were in a dirt biking accident (okay, so that only happened once, but it looked so painful!)
You still love books, and pulling every single book out of the cabinet remains one of your favorite activities. You're starting to realize that books are more than just a cool textured toy with pretty pictures, and you will actually bring me books to read them to you, now, rather than just flipping through them by yourself. You can do all the actions in the "From Head to Toe" book (whether I read it to you or not), and you love to flip through the "Hello Baby" lift the flaps saying "No" on all the "wrong" flaps. You will only allow yourself to be read to when you are sitting on a lap. If I'm sitting on the floor, you will hand me a book, then slither quickly onto my lap, without missing a beat. When I'm on a chair, you will hand me the book, then say "up!" until I lift you onto my lap. You don't have a terribly long attention span for individual books, sometimes only allowing me to read two pages before asking "down" and getting another book. But your attention span for this "get book, sit on lap, get down, get new book" rotation is fairly limitless. It's the same with watching TV. You would love to have the TV on all day if I let you, but you want to watch 2 minutes of The Wiggles, then 5 minutes of Monsters, Inc., then 30 seconds of Pingu. Or, you may just want to have An American Tail playing in the background while you read books (really, you'll ask for a show, then not actually watch it, but you'll fuss if I turn it off). I'm not sure if this is something I should be bothered by or not. Fortunately, we have all of these movies on demand on our Netflix player, so flipping between them is easy enough to do with the touch of a button. I might have less patience for this game if I had to get up and change a DVD every time.
You love to laugh, and you love being tickled. You also love being bounced on my knee or thrown in the air, and don't seem to understand why I can't continue these activities indefinitely. You have a beautiful smile, although you have recently taken to making a "cheese" face for the camera, which is cute, but I miss being able to get pictures of you smiling naturally in my direction.
You give fantastic hugs, gripping my neck with a surprising amount of power. You are gentle, loving, and compassionate, and I love the little girl you are becoming just as much as I love the little baby you so recently were. Thank you for being such a jewel in my life.