Newsletter: month twenty-four

Dear Ladybug,

Happy Easter, or as you pronounce it, Happy birthday to me!

Yes, on Wednesday you turned two years old. Usually I try to write these within a day of your monthly birth-date, but this week has been a little different, in that you’re convinced that every day of it has been your birthday. Each morning you wake up and, convinced that it’s your birthday, demand to be sung Happy Birthday, served cake and ice cream, and pampered with presents. It’s like living with a little Hilton sister. It started on Monday, when the first of what would be several boxes of gifts started arriving from your grandparents. Initially confused by it, your mom and I explained that it contained presents for you from your Nana and Papa for your birthday. We then foolishly let you open one before going to bed.

The very next day you awoke, announced “Happy birthday” to yourself, and proceeded to sneak into the living room and open up all your other presents. That might have been the end of it, except that another box arrived on Tuesday for you… and then they threw you a party at daycare on Wednesday… and then another box arrived for you on Thursday… and so on. Indeed, here on Easter Sunday, you are 100% convinced that the entire Black Hills region spent the day hiding plastic colored eggs filled with toys and candy expressly for you to find for your birthday.* Only two years old, and you already have a God complex.

* On a related note, tonight we went to the Olive Garden for Easter dinner. Near the end of the meal, in some far off corner of the restaurant came the sounds of a song that was remarkably similar to (but not copyright infringingly so) to “Happy Birthday to You” sung by the wait staff. At that moment you realized that they had made a horrible mistake, singing the song for the wrong person, as it was most universally evident that it was your birthday for the seventh consecutive time this week. Hence, every subsequent time our waiter came to the table, we would helpfully announce “Happy birthday Ah-na! Happy birthday Ah-na! Ice cream?” in an adorably desperate attempt to rectify the situation.

And, yes, you eventually got them to sing for you and get your ice cream too, so all was right in the world.

Apparently convinced that your mother and I are incapable of meeting your entertainment needs, over the course of this week your various grandmothers have equipped you with movies, music, medical toys, gardening toys, a new car, a jet pack, and a pony. Couple that with all the Easter festivities and candy, and you mother decided that this month you weren’t getting a birthday party, lest your ego swell to unhealthy proportions. (Given that you’ve already identified the festivities intended for the arisen Messiah with yourself, I’d contend she’s a bit too late.) Since you actually had two birthday parties last year, there’s a nice zero-sum finality to this.

So, what’s happened in the three-quarters of this month that wasn’t your birthday?

Well, for starters, you are now completely potty trained. In what I can only describe as the easiest transition in the history of the known Universe, you are a lean, mean, peeing machine. Gone are the Elmo and Pooh diapers; in their place it’s Disney Princess panties. You are particularly enamored with Cinderella, and I often catch you humming “Cinderella dressed in yellow” as you sit on the potty staring at your britches. I should remark that you’ve gone well past the impending-disaster phase, wherein you would announce your intent to leak (“Daddy, tinkle!“), giving me but precious few seconds to whisk you to your Elmo-seated throne before you commenced leaking. No, now when you make your announcement, you lazily stroll to the potty, hoist yourself up, grab a magazine to read while you do your business, and then unsubtly recommend “Bye-bye Daddy” to give you a little privacy. Next month I suspect you’ll be in there doing Sudoko.

You’ve also moved up in the world at daycare. You are now in the 4-to-4-year-old room. For you, the transition was easy: you finally get to go to the back room (which has always, inexplicably fascinated you), and you now have access to the playground equipment when you play. Perhaps the only downside is that you don’t have Miss Iris as a teacher anymore, which means you are stuck all day with whatever dorky hairstyle I decorate you with in the morning. Sorry, pumpkin.

We’ve also taken to reading stories each night as an established habit. Each night around 8:30, once you’ve been properly bathed and pajamaed, you announce “Booooook” while simultaneously pantomiming the opening of a book. (Yay ASL!) We then march into your room and grab a short stack of books to read for the evening. While the choices vary from night to night, some of your current favorites include:

  • The “Spot book,” also called Where’s Spot?, which I’ve written about before. Most nights I read it for you, but some nights I ask you to read it to me, which is delightful. The entire book in Ladybuglish goes like this: “Naughty Spot. Dinner time. Ah ah be? No… No… No… No… Yay!” promptly followed by “Again?
  • The “Mess book,” also called Love you forever, about a son and a mother with serious separation anxiety and no qualms about breaking and entering. You take great pains to point out all aspects of the messes that the little boy in the story makes, I think mostly describe your room as relatively clean by comparison.
  • The “Kiss book,” also called Counting kisses, about a cranky baby being repeatedly kissed before bedtime. You enjoy announcing the various body parts as the story counts down. This almost always goes hand in hand with the “Hug book” (or Mommy hugs), in which the aforementioned baby is repeatedly hugged by her mommy.

But let’s get a little perspective here… over the course of the year you’ve gone from a silent, toothless, baby to a chatty, toothy, girl. Let’s take a look at some then-and-now comparisons to see how you’ve grown. And quit making that face, it’ll be fun.

Then: soulful eyes, button nose, pouty lips, and indescribably beauty. Now: soulful eyes, button nose, pouty lips, and indescribable beauty. Okay, not everything changes.

You still like to help me with chores around the house. Not only are you pretty proficient at unloading the dishwasher, you have now learned how to load it with soap and turn it on by yourself as well. You’ve also taken to “vacuuming” the house with your popcorn-popper, usually side-by-side with as I vacuum too. I don’t know how long this little domestic goddess phase will last (although perhaps it explains your innate fascination with Cinderella), but by golly am I gonna milk it this year. Next week, I plan to teach you to scrub the toilet.

While you still love to be naked, it’s only from the ankles up. Now that you can (more or less) get your shoes on by yourself, you love to walk around the house, proudly wearing your boots or your new, house-only tennis shoes (what you call your pretty shoes)… and nothing else.

On one hand, oh how things change. one year ago, you had nary a tooth in your head, just a goofy gummy smile. Now at 2 years old, you’ve got a mouth full of big, goofily crooked, chomping teeth. On the other hand, you’re as big a dork as ever.

You still love to play outside at the park, although you are now tall enough to play on just about everything — the slides, the bouncers, the playground equipment, you name it. One nice change — at least for my cardiac condition — is that you are now less prone to throw yourself headfirst off on every slide you find yourself on. Then again, you’re now more willing to climb up on any piece of jagged metal and brittle plastic masquerading as playground equipment, which I think might be worse. If you’re wondering where all that grey hair on my head came from, I’d suggest Robbinsdale Park.

You still love to swing, and you still can’t do it by yourself. Given that the swings are probably the only thing that you haven’t yet mastered to a degree that you could inflict irreparable brain damage on yourself by screwing around upon it, the swings are definitely my favorite toy at the park. Any park.

You are still very much a bath baby. You like to splash and float and scrub yourself down with washcloths and plastic ladybugs.

After a bath, you still like to relax a bit. If anything, you’ve gotten better at being lazy! Go, skills!

One year ago — just twelve short months — you were my little baby. Now, you are my feisty, silly, wonderful little girl.

Yes, you may be growing up quick… but don’t you forget that no matter how old you are, my baby you’ll always be. I love you, Ladybug.

Ba ba

Photo album

See more pictures from your twenty-fourth month of existence over at Flickr.

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