Tuesday, March 3, 2009

a year in your life

Dear Alice,

In your life, you are going to hear the following phrase a lot: I can't believe the time went by so fast! You will hear it mostly from adults when they are dis
cussing your height, your age, what grade you're in, how much you're learning -- basically anything involving how you are changing. The adults might also utter this phrase when discussing their own age, but I wouldn't worry about it too much. The fact of the matter is, time really does go by quick - and what we're enjoying one day will be gone the next. Things like a few certain lovable rolls of baby chub that used to sit so prettily on your very adorable thighs. I used to snack on those rolls. They were particularly good with a scoop of ice cream.

My little dear, you have changed so much in your first year o
f life. I'm not sure it would be fair to you to say how many things have changed, because it would take pages and pages. Suffice it to say you came into this world on March 3rd, 2008 -- and you were this beautiful and sweet thing, but you were also a blank slate. I used to sort of actually forget that you were a real live human being because I spent so much time toting you around, changing your clothes, feeding you, putting you to sleep - and still you'd just sort of be there, a little baby. And now, my dear, now you are a tried and true person person. You have opinions. Oh, how you have opinions. You love bread products and anything even closely bread-related. You will eat crackers, chips (if I let you), bread, toast, english muffin, waffle, cake (again, if I let you). You do not, however, share this intensity of love for much of anything else. After many attempts, your full repertoire of vegetable matter consumption is green beans, bananas, and pear. You do like yogurt. Everything else gets ceremoniously dumped on the floor. Including scrambled eggs, cheese, pasta, and other fruits and vegetables when I decide to get wildly creative and try to give you things like raisins, grapes, steamed carrots, mashed potatoes, and sweet potatoes. You lower yourself to eat the dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets. Annnnd that's it for the meat group. Everyone tells me this super picky stage will pass, so I try not to get too worried that you are building brain matter and muscle mass on five foods.

Despite the lack of variety in your diet, you are growing and
getting so strong. You get everywhere you want to go (and more) on your little hands and knees, crawling for all you're worth. You love to pull yourself up and cruise the furniture, walls, and anything else that's relatively vertical (I find myself saying "WE DON'T USE OTHER KIDS AS LEVERAGE" alot these days). You are thisclose to walking. We catch you standing unassisted several times a day. I think this whole standing without holding on to anything isn't even a little bit surprising to you. Which goes to say a lot about your whole outlook on your life. You take chances, and you don't consider them chances. You think that everything you encounter is to be touched, to be grabbed, to be pulled around by its ears. You attack your life in a way that I admire and (to be honest) fear. I suppose that's my right as your mother: to worry for you. To know about gravity and the cost it extracts from those who ignore it. But truth is, baby girl, I want you to ignore gravity as long as possible. I want you to always leap into the unknown without second guessing your ability to fly.

This is what you say to me: mmmmmmmmaaaaaammmm. This is what you say to your daddy: daa daa daa daaad. This is what you say to your blankie: hhaaaaaaaaaaa
aaaaa. You use a language that's entirely your own - and I think you're saying A LOT to us, if only we could understand you. It doesn't matter. You get your message across quite well - wave to us when it's time to go bye-bye; put your hands in the air when you're done smearing pears in your hair; and plant nice juicy open-mouth smackers on our cheeks to tell us how much you love us.

In a year's time, the cats have discovered their own coping
mechanisms for cohabitating with a baby. Fergus mostly stays out of your way - and until last month, was perfectly safe sitting on the stairs and watching you with a wary eye. Since you have tackled the stairs and freely zoom up to the landing, he has taken to bed-level surfaces. Phoebe is another story. I tell her that she has no survival instinct because she just keeps coming back to you. The other day I caught you sitting on Phoebe. Her reaction when I unclenched your kung fu grip on her fur? A small meow. She didn't even MOVE. I suppose that's her way of saying that she loves you, in all her furry glory. I'm hoping that it will be a long and hairy friendship.

Alice, your relationship with sleep has evolved this past year, but it is still something of a gray area for us. You were the baby that wouldn't nap unless you were nursing. The smallest move away from my chest and you were wide awake and crying. In the months to follow I learned a lot. About naps (once upon a time, you took FIVE NAPS A DAY, and they were, like, FIVE MINUTES EACH). About night sleeping (or not). About how long an adult person can function on two hour increments of sleep (it turns out: indefinitely). As of now, you take two naps a day, of indeterminant, but still pretty short length. About 45 minutes to an hour each. Sometimes you squeak in an extra 30 minutes, but that's about your limit. I've learned that it's okay to let you be you. We adore you in all your quirkiness. Your official bedtime start is 6:30 p.m., but lately it's been getting pushed back because you are absolutely hysterical at 6:30 p.m. This is when you most want to climb the stairs and slide back down on your belly. It makes you scream with glee, and who would possibly want to take that away from you? After your bath, singing, and rocking with a bottle, I put you into bed with a paci firmly in your mouth, blankie clutched in your fingers. I love our night time ritual - the way I get to rock you to sleep, the feel of your heavy body against mine, the one last final kiss I give your sleeping cheek. Because of these small and precious moments, I have never once regretted our decision to parent you to sleep. I think that making you cry yourself to sleep would break something very special inside of you. Instead, you are whole and strong and so very brave.

At one year, you are a very playful kid. You love to smile at pe
ople and have them smile back. You love books, which really speaks to my book-loving heart. I adore watching you read a book to yourself. You make the story sound so much better than the way it was written. Your favorite toys continue to be your stacking cups, your kitty cat ring stacker, and any of your various amphibian toys. I don't understand the frog love, but who am I to get in between a girl and her green friends? There are several "froggies" in your life, along with Clyde the purple crocodile and Ally the large green alligator that we got for you when we visited Florida before you were even a foggy conception in our minds.

You have always been in the future for us, little Alice, this we know to be true. Our family wasn't complete without you, and now you're here, with us every day. The time couldn't be more sweetly spent. And so, honey, the time really has gone by so fast. My
friends told me that you wouldn't eat every two hours forever, and they were right. My friends told me that you wouldn't be immoble forever, and they were right. My friends tell me that you won't smell like baby lotion and sweet peas forever, so I'm sure they're right - which means that I'm going to enjoy you the way you are now, for as long as possible.

I know that you won't be the same little girl in a year's time. I
'm okay with that. You've been such a joy in this past year, I can only imagine what the next one will hold. Happy birthday, sweet little Bean-head.



Pickles and Dimes said...

What a lovely post to Alice. She's so adorable!

That first picture totally reminds me of you.

And "We don't use other kids as leverage" cracked me up. :)

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, beautiful baby Alice!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, beautiful baby Alice!

Sibley Saga .... said...

Happy Birthday Alice! I look forward to meeting you someday. You are such a talented, smart, beautiful little girl!

wandering nana said...

How happy your parents were when you came and as they waited for you. Happy Birthday Alice.

Rebecca said...

Happy Birthday Alice!

Kristen said...

She is such a doll! I love the pictures - those cheeks look like they're just waiting for a kiss...