As we approach the end of 2011, I get a little teary eyed when I think back over the past year and visualize how much you, our little girl, have grown. This time last year, you weren't even rolling over on your own yet. I would hold you cradled close against my breast, breathing in your sweet baby smell, and getting lost in your deep, dark eyes. I watched you lay in your Papa's arms too, as you quietly observed each other's faces, cooing back and forth.
Now, you'll barely ever stay still, even when you're having milk! You are already so determined and focused on being your own person. I am astounded at how grown up you look and act. You get so excited to run around and interact with everyone and everything. You have even started running off out of my sight when we go for walks outside. I think you know now that I would never leave you and I'll always be right around the corner.
You say many different words, and understand just about everything I say! You have even started to interact with me and ask for things by using your words paired with gestures. You will look at me and point to yourself while saying "buh" for book, asking me to read to you. If I ask who my baby is, you point to yourself and say, "baby!" You have a very strong concept of Self, for one so young. If I ask you where your ball is (or any other number of things), you hold your hands up and shrug very matter of factly as if to say, "well how should I know!"
You also love to get startled. Sometimes, I will hide outside your bedroom door as you play, waiting for you to come out. I pop out and scare you so you jump with surprise and you'll burst out laughing! Your favorite toy right now is your shape sorter. You enjoy pretending you've gotten your hand stuck and wailing pathetically for me to save you. When I tell you that you know how to do it yourself, you pull your hand out and make a pouty face at me!
You've gotten very tall recently; I no longer have to roll up the sleeves and pant legs of your 18 month clothes, though they are still baggy on you! You've also found your true love - spaghetti with tomato sauce and cheese - and you've even started eating it all by yourself. You love applesauce with cinnamon sprinkled in and harvati cheese with herbs. Your one year molars have all started coming in but you hardly seem to notice.
You love bubble baths, everything to do with the word "papa," and coloring. Lately, you have been allowed by the kitty to pet him more often, which you do very gently indeed. You pretend to tickle yourself and say "tick-tick!" and also still tickle my face with my hair. You adore when I pretend to bite your feet and hands while you're nursing - lots of giggling and squealing! When Papa's internet is strong enough, seeing him on the webcam is the highlight of your day. You also love dancing, which is a bit reminiscent of River Dance.
Even though I sometimes miss your days as a newborn, swinging you up into the air is just wonderful. Watching you explore and discover new things is just as exciting as waiting for that first sleepy smile. Hearing you say "mama!" warms my heart as much as your first little coos once did. When you run to me and fall into my arms for a hug, I feel just as much your Mama as I did the first time I held you. You are so different and yet, you are the same. You are my baby.
I love you, my sweet bunny.