Dear Elsa: a letter at fifteen months


You are fifteen months old and acting more the toddler every day. You are full of sweetness and happiness, and we can no longer imagine our days not filled with your actual laughs and your excessive fake laughs and big wide-open mouth smiles.

owen-1-2184-2The biggest change in you since you turned one is that you are now walking. You took your first journey of eleven steps at your Grandpa Joe and Grandma Pam’s house on February, in front of everyone, stopping to applaud yourself every couple of steps. But then, you stopped. We brought you home and would coax you to walk, even holding out your brother’s sippy cup as incentive, but you would stand for a second, consider it, and then drop down to your belly and kick your legs and laugh. But about three weeks later, you just kind of started walking. Everywhere. It’s still something we celebrate as you walk into a room, arms straight up, smiling wide, as if to see “TaDa! I’m here! Hooray!”  And now there are moments that you seem to be almost running, going from room to room in our house, or across baseball fields with your hands in fists up by your shoulders for balance.

Learning to walk has allowed you to participate in life more, and you love it. You do your best to join in with your dad and Owen’s running game, as your dad swoops you around corners, and you whisper “schhhh schhhh” while Owen looks for you. You squeal with delight when you see his face poke around corners, and any activity resembling peek-a-boo is basically your favorite thing in life. You play it back now too, covering most of your mouth and one eye with your fingers and laughing each time you lift them off. Walking has also increased your destroying capabilities, and you take great joy in removing things. All of the contents of the diaper bag. All of the clothes in a basket of laundry. All of the books on the shelf.

You’re just trying so hard to be part of things. You use all your might to pick up the fat bat, and swing it at the tee or the ball in your dad’s hand. When you make contact, you drop it, run a few steps “around the bases,” and then drop to your belly and kick your legs to “slide.” You look at us as if to say, “Did you see  that? I’m amazing.” You are always stopping to clap – for snacks, when you see someone you love, at animal books and talk of video and at your own efforts to climb and roll and walk and run. You try to build blocks but are mostly interested in knocking even the smallest towers down, much to Owen’s frustration, though he does build them on the floor, right in our walking paths. When you were just over a year, you picked up Owen’s Goliath shield and hit it a couple times with his “spear,” and when he pretended to throw a stone at you, you fell down on the carpet, all the way down. You were delighted with yourself as we were delighted with you.  You go down slides and giggle. You swing and giggle. You hear the opening plastic of a snack and giggle and sometimes even throw in an “ooh!” For some reason, you think it’s so funny to lay down on the floor in front of us and roll around, kicking your legs up in the air – we’re not sure if you’re sliding or playing Goliath dead or what, but you think it’s hilarious, and so do we.

You’re also trying to talk. You’ve got “hiiiiii” down, and you say “mama!” all the time, but you call all of three of us “mama,” though you do throw out an occasional “da!” (May 14 you finally got the hang of that one, much to your own delight.) We’ll hear you talking softly to yourself upstairs after you nap, and when we go to pick you nap, you’re often sitting upright, playing with your bunny, and we always wonder how long you’ve been awake. You greet us with happy squeals and smiles, and as we head downstairs, you’re always peering out the back window and down the stairs towards where you can find Owen, questioning, “Mama?” On the rare occasions that you wake up before Owen, I have to do everything in my power to keep you from sprinting over to his room, pushing open his door, and waking him up. (When you finally do hear him wake up, you squeal with laughter and clap your hands. It’s adorable.) You seem like you’re trying to say “dog,” the absolute love of your life, and you pick up all of your stuffed puppies and hug them and kiss them, saying “dah.” When you kiss and hug your stuffed animals or dolls, I kind of fall apart. It’s so adorable. The other night, a person at a park let you pet her big, fluffy golden retriever, and you lay on his belly, and stroked him gently, and kept picking up his paw and hugging it close to your shoulder and chin, open-mouthed kissing his furry body a couple of times. You LOVE dogs.

You can sign the basics – more, please, thank you, all done. You sign the best when there’s dessert involved, but you’ve come a long way with food and will eat just about anything, though you prefer cuties oranges, or really any fruit, applesauce pouches, graham crackers, and cheese.

Your life is so full of joy. You love so many things. You love your dad dramatically. After your nap, you sometimes stand at the backdoor, knocking on it, yelling, “Mama?!” and when he comes home, you run over to him, squealing and laughing and hugging and clapping. You love to stand on the end of our couch, reaching onto the end table for piping hot cups of coffee, and the computer, and chords, the second love of your life. You love to get ahold of your brother’s baseball cards and stare at any screen presented to you. You live for a stolen moment with one of our phones, crying tears of devastation when they’re taken away. You slyly sneak over to pound on the computer keyboards, laughing a little maniacally when we say NO! With the coming of spring, we have learned you love to be outside, especially if it involves a wagon ride or eating mud. You continue to love baths, and you permasmile when you are laid back in the bathtub to get your hair washed. After we do it once, you continually trust fall backwards for the next three minutes, trying to lay back down again. You can’t get enough.

This last month or so, you have learned the word no in full force. You hear it so much as you get into everything that is definitely not a toy. Sometimes now, you squawk back; you writhe and twist and yell during every diaper change. When Owen takes something out of your hands, you know let him know with an angry yell right in his face. You’ve got opinions, Missy.

Honeybear, I finally weaned you in mid-April. The weeks prior had seen a pretty drastic drop in my milk supply, and you would whip from side to side, tugging and pulling, and neither of us was having much fun. Those last few nights, I stopped to really look at you when you finally got a little milk. Your face relaxed, your hand gently rested on my chest, and I let you fall asleep that way, every part of your body heavy against mine. I felt your long legs stretched across my lap, your round cheeks gently suck, your eyes flutter open and closed. And as much as I (and moreso you) was ready to be done, I will miss those gentle and quiet moments with you, the ability to comfort you like that. But in exchange, we’ve begun to put ponytails and the tiniest pigtails in your hair (to combat your toddler mullet), and it is one of my favorite things in life right now.

Elsa, you are so, so full of life, always on the go, yet you will stop, mid-play, and climb into my lap, throwing your arms around me for a legit hug and a little snuggle. Before bed, you are every nestling your face into my neck and full-armed hugs. I am thankful for these moments too.

I love you more than I thought possible.

Your Mom

Things You Love: baths, being outside, putting anything into your mouth, eating, snacks, desserts, drinking out of a sippy cup, when your dad comes home, when Owen plays with you, reading books that have flaps to open, peek a boo, crawling through the tunnel, slides at the playground, playing in sand and dirt, playing in water of any kind (puddles too!), dogs, videos, screens, balloons, pacifiers, crawling up stairs, standing at the front window, brushing your teeth (you laugh at the mere mention), going to sleep (you seriously dive for the pack ‘n play most nights), finding food to eat on the floor, music of any kind, singing (you kind of hum to yourself at night when you want us to sing), sleeping in bed with mom and dad, whenever you get to be on Owen’s bed

Things You Hate: getting dressed, getting your diaper changed, (sometimes) getting your hair done, being pulled away from something you’re not supposed to be doing, when we take our phones out of your hand, when Owen won’t include you, getting your nails cut, being in the stroller when you want to walk, (sometimes) not being held by mom,

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