Eighteen months ago, around this time (late at night), I got to meet you for the first time. I was just so excited that you were here, that you were you (a girl I got to name Ayla) and that you were mine, really with no idea what my life would be like with you in it.
It's been a hard year, baby girl, not gonna lie to you (ever), but you kept me going and made it all kinds of wonderful. Now your daddy is home from his deployment and we're learning how to be a family. You are discovering how much fun Daddy is and remembering that his strong arms are the best place to be (whether cuddling or swinging or tickling or dancing).
Even though I've been with you every day of your life, I still look at you and marvel. I love seeing you in a new light as Daddy gets to know you all over again.
You started walking about 4 months ago and now you're so good at it, you aren't content to just walk anymore. You're practicing new styles of walking, such as with a swagger, on your toes, with a little knee bend added in or just running. You're also becoming quite the dancer. I love to watch you stop whatever you doing to do a little boogie when you hear music. It actually doesn't even require music, if you hear pounding, buzzing or the beat in your heart, your feet start a jig.
One of your favorite things to do is slide. You call it "outside," even though you understand that outside is also "outside." You turn anything with the slightest angle into a slide. The back of the couch? Easy. The side of the tub? Yup (not that I let you do this, but you still try). A pillow on the floor? The slight incline between the driveway and parking lot? My bent legs? Angle + you = slide.
You are great at playing games. I think we make up 50 new ones a day, but your favorite is to pretend to go "nigh-night." You're not really picky about the surface, sometimes there's a pillow involved, sometimes it's just the floor of the Women's Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. You lay down on your back, say "nigh-night," then go, "shhh, shhh." It's pretty cute, but your comfort with dirty floors may not reflect well on my parenting style.
As for actual sleep, that's still a moving target, with emphasis on the moving rather than the still. I wish I could record our view on the baby monitor to show you someday how much you move around while you sleep. You dropped your morning nap a few months ago and your afternoon nap is anywhere from 1-3 hours. Or no hours, like today. You do sleep a good 11-12 hours at night and for that you are greatly loved. You're a big fan of getting sung to before bed and now that you've learned to say and sign "again," you get lots and lots of songs. Your dad and I both love that you say "Amen," after we pray. I can't wait to hear what you pray about when you start to say your own.
And, girl, you are saying so much! I counted today and you're at 102 words, and that's not including all the words you sign or body parts you know or animal sounds you can make. You don't really babble, instead you just pick a few words and say them over and over. I can even consider you bi-lingual, since you insist on calling "water" "agua," even to the point of correcting me. You've put two words together a few times, such as "No Mommy," or "Bye-bye Daddy," but no real sentences yet. One of my favorites is how whenever you hear us say "now," you say, "Now-I-Know," (from the ABC song) as if it's one word. Oh, and I also love how when I try to comfort you when you fall, you mimic me repeating as you cry, "I know, I know," as you pat my shoulder.
I probably take the falling harder than you do. Oh, I know you're tough and maybe like me you're a little clumsy, but I just hate to see all the bruises and scratches marring your beautiful baby skin. You're so bold and adventurous, like your daddy. Other parents comment about this when they see you on the playground or in the soft play room. Usually that's right before you tumble off a step or climb right over their child on your way to go down yet another slide. I hope we can add some thoughtfulness to that courage soon. You'll really be unstoppable then!
Like most kids your age, you love climbing on anything, opening and closing doors, putting lids on and taking them off, stacking things and then knocking them down. You love balls, bubbles and balloons. You're learning about sharing your toys with your friends, although right now sharing to you means, "give that back to me."
You do throw your fair share of tantrums, but you snap out of them pretty quickly. We haven't started time outs with you yet because usually a simple, "No!" or smack on the hand gets your attention. I'm not really looking forward to the discipline phase, but I know it's one of the most important aspects of my job, so we'll get through it.
Every day I thank God for you, and today I thank Him for eighteen months of awesome joy with you.
You are my jewel, today and always!