Below is a letter I wrote to London for her 2nd Birthday, detailing what has gone on in the last year and what she is like, along with my hopes for the next year. Enjoy!
Yesterday you turned two. In some ways it seems so hard to believe you are already two as I still remember the tiny baby that you were and how scared I was to even change your diaper for fear I would harm you. Dressing you was even worse! At the same time, you are so much a part of our lives that it can be hard to remember what it was like without you.
To celebrate, we took you down to Monterey, CA that included a trip to the Aquarium for the very first time – something your dad and I had been meaning to do with you since your were 3 months old! Knowing the drive would be too long to only do a day trip, we drove down Saturday and spent the night. Luckily, our passes were for two days so you got to experience the Aquarium both on Saturday and Sunday. You could only handle about 2 hours there at a time anyway. And you did so well in the car even though you didn’t sleep as much as we would have liked. You seemed to love the Open Oceans exhibit and all the interactive play exhibits for kids. You definitely didn’t care for the Octopus – one on each day was on full display when we passed by, something your dad and I had really never seen in all the years we have been going. They are usually curled up in a corner and barely visible. This time they were spread out and one even swam a few times in its tank. Something about it scared you, which is interesting as not much scares you.
This trip to Monterey also included the first time you slept alone in a big bed – not a crib or play yard. You’ve outgrown the play yard which means we now need to make sure there is a bed for you when we travel. Luckily, the hotel provided 4 pillows on each bed – especially since your dad and I forgot to bring all our pillows. That happens often. Anyhow, we put two pillows on each side of the bed and I gave you one of mine to use for your own head. We also put the long bolster pillows from the hotel at your feet – all of this under the comforter. You then slept on top of the comforter, under a sheet and a couple of your blankets – probably for all of ½ hour, before you were on top. Good thing I packed your flannel PJs.
But, you slept through the night without falling off the bed! And you were so cute when you woke up babbling to yourself and then heard me move so you rolled over peeking at me over one of the pillows. At least you made it to 7 AM – you’d decided to wake up at 6 AM on Saturday. Guess that was our fault for putting you to bed on time Fridays. We have to let you stay up late if we want you to sleep in some.
This year we also took you to Disneyland, just before Thanksgiving. You had such a blast – loving all the sights and sounds. You particularly loved It’s a Small World, much to your dad’s detriment (he once got stuck on it for 15 extra minutes chasing after a girl, before he met me). You also really enjoyed Dumbo and King Arthur’s Carousel. Unfortunately Pirates of the Caribbean was closed for refurbishment so you missed that one.
This last year brought a few changes in childcare. After adjusting to not having me 24/7 7 days a week when you were 6 months old, you got used to going down the street to stay with Auntie Lauren 5 days a week while I worked. But unfortunately, Lauren could no longer care for you soon after you turned a year due to her back. Your dad and I were sad to see the arrangement come to an end but we also knew we needed to get you somewhere you could socialize with other kids.
Unfortunately, you only lasted at the first place we found for 3 days! It wasn’t anything you did – we solely blame the owner and provider. She was in over her head and was just looking for an excuse to unload some of her burden. She said you were too clingy and not acclimating quickly enough. You were barely 1 year old and we soon found out, cutting 3 or 4 teeth.
The second place lasted much longer until some safety concerns were presented to us two weeks ago. They had to do with the owner/director, not Miss Alisha, who was great with you and your classmates. While we’re sad to say goodbye to her, we suspect the establishment may be shut down as a result of the events that led up to you leaving.
So last week you started at a new daycare, in the Toddlers room. Luckily, you had your friends Evan and Blake to help you get adjusted and all the teachers seem quite attentive and caring, not to mention happy to be there. Everyone has said you are a delight. But, again, change occurred this morning, as now that you are two, you move into a new class – away from Evan and Blake for the next month until Evan joins you. I hope you accept the changes rather quickly but I completely understand if you don’t.
We also had to say good-bye to our sweet Mel Mels recently. You won’t remember eventually, except for pictures and she wasn’t a great dog to have around you. She was 9 when you were born and already experiencing lower back arthritis. And we’d already turned her world upside down by bringing Tulley home a few months before we brought you home. She snapped at you a few times and mostly stayed away from you. But you loved her and referred to her as Mel Mels. You still call Tulley woof woof – as you do all dogs. Occasionally, when you see a dog, or wolf, that resembles Melody, you will say Mel Mel. And when we head home you sometimes mention her and just this morning said “Mel Mel nite nite”. It’s the best way we can explain to you she is gone.
Speaking of our pets, you began to associate all cats as bubbas when you learned that we called Jake that sometimes. You now call any cat a meow – I have no idea why you can’t say cat. But you still call Jake Bubba and we’ve recently gotten you to say Lulu when referring to Kelsey. As for daddy and me, you’ve recently transitioned from mama and dada to Mommy and Daddy – you even called Daddy Dad this weekend! So grown up.
We also enrolled you in swim lessons this year, as you are attracted to water. You’re a ways out from actually being able to swim, but you sure had a blast in swim class. You love water whether its for swimming in, bathing or just splashing around. You actually threw a full on tantrum once this last year when we went up to put you to bed and you went to the bathroom in hopes of a bath. When I said no bath that night, you lost it, and I relented. How can I deny a child a bath when they want one? You just can’t! I just hope you always are up for a bath.
You also have a love for being outdoors. Long walks with your grandpa is one of your favorite activities when he is in town, but you also just try to be outside as much as you can when you are home. Unfortunately, you don’t quite understand why we can’t always be out there, particularly on hot summer days. We try to get you out there as soon as it cools off and your dad and I try to take you for walks in your stroller as often as possible too. Sometimes our evenings are just too busy.
When we really need to distract you, we turn on a show called Yo Gabba Gabba, which you call Dabba Dabba. You ask for it whenever we are downstairs in the kitchen. Your dad and I do try to limit you to one episode a night, but on days we are particularly exhausted or need your attention elsewhere, we’ve been known to show you 2 or 3 in a row – at least they are only between 20 and 25 minutes long, with no commercials. It’s the only show that holds your attention – you don’t last more than 10 minutes on most anything else, though you did relatively well with the movie Toy Story last week.
For the most part you are a happy, curious toddler that people enjoy. You love saying hello and bye bye to passing strangers and friends the same. You are also very well versed in saying no and I did it, all gone, I don’t know and nite nite. It amazes how much you understand from us and at the same time what you don’t – like when we ask if you like Dog food. You don’t eat dog food, nor do you have access to it, yet when your poop is hard, solid rocks, Miss Alisha would say it looked like Dog Food. Once she said she asked you if you ate dog food and you said yes. When Miss Alisha asked me about it, I corrected her. Just joking around your dad asked you if you liked Dog food this weekend and you said yes.
In reality, you love Mac & cheese, cheese in general, cheese and sticks, hot dogs, bananas and anything you can dip into a sauce. You’re not afraid of spicy foods either – you even ate some peppery cheese grandpa brought on a recent visit, to his surprise. You ate most of it! You also have a curious appetite for food and want to try anything your dad and I are eating. You’ve tried lettuce several times, even straight ginger, though both you quickly took out of your mouth and deposited in my hand. But you keep trying, which is all I ask for.
The next year will, of course, bring more changes. For one, you’ll no longer be an only child. We find out tomorrow whether you will have a little brother or sister. My hope is you embrace your sibling, though at your birthday party last week, you grew quite jealous when I held your new cousin Elijah. With this new sibling is also bringing you a new bedroom. As soon as we get your dad moved out of his office into the new office we are building downstairs, we will be decorating the old office for you. In this new room you will also get a new, big girl bed. That will be an interesting transition. The goal is to have you in there no later than the start of October.
What I hope for you most is that you maintain your curious, outgoing nature as you continue to grow and develop into a little girl. That and I hope you’re potty trained by this time next year.