18 Months

Dear Annabel,

Today you are 18 months old. You’ve been out in the world for twice as long as you were inside me! And that felt like an eternity, so the fact that you’ve now been here for twice that amount of time? Well, it’s a little bit surreal. But I feel like I’ve been saying that forever and I’ll probably still be marveling at how old you are for…forever. When you go to Kindergarten, when you graduate high school, college, when you get married. All of it. I don’t think I’ll ever wrap my head around it. It’s one thing to try to understand my own aging, but the aging of a human that I brought into the world? Impossible.

You’ve grown up a lot in the past month, and it’s been so fun to watch you! While you are still pretty clingy to me most of the time, you are starting to show little signs of independence. The most obvious form of this is when you don’t want me around and wave me “bye bye.” It’s both exciting and a little heartbreaking. But mostly it’s funny, and I have to try hard not to laugh. Because you always say it with a hint of mischief in your eyes. Like you don’t want me to see you do something that you know you shouldn’t be doing. Clever girl.

You’ve developed some new interests this month, most notably drawing/coloring.

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Anytime you see me with a pen, you want to grab it out of my hands to do some artwork of your own. You’re pretty good about keeping the pen to paper, but sometimes you like to draw all over your hands as well. Of course you have crayons too, but you love pens the most. Probably because that’s what we use.

Which brings me to the next thing. You are becoming quite the little copycat! If I do it, you want to do it. This goes from putting on chapstick to wanting hairspray to carrying around my purse and car keys and wearing my shoes.

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You even want to push your own grocery cart when we’re out.

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You still love your babies and tend to them on a regular basis, giving bottles,

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and patting the backs of sleepy baby dolls. But it’s not just your baby dolls that you love these days. One of your new favorite things to do is to watch videos of yourself on my phone. Whenever you see my phone, you say “baby, baby” over and over again until I show you a video (that you approve of) of yourself.

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I love to watch your facial expressions as you watch these videos. You laugh right along with yourself and show deep concern when the you in the video gets upset.

You’re learning how to hide. When I pull out the vacuum cleaner, you run to the coffee table and crawl underneath.

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You are curious. A couple of weeks ago you spotted one of the cats under our bed and had to check it out.

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I photographed you as you inched further and further under the bed until you finally got stuck and had to be helped out. You weren’t as amused as I was!

Speaking of the cats, you’ve become quite bossy with Mr. Bojangles. If he is up on the counter or in a place that you deem unacceptable, you will yell “DOWN, BO!” at him or a simple “NO!!” This terrifies him and I laugh on the inside while trying to remind you that you don’t need to yell at him. Apparently this has also translated into a bit of bossiness at school as well. You’re like the extra teacher in the room, making sure kids don’t leave when the door is open and saying “Down, Emma!” when your friends find themselves in places they shouldn’t be. But you are sweet with them too. You share your snacks and pat their backs at nap time. You go to the back of the line when you’re walking to the gym to gather up the stragglers. Your teachers love you and think you are the funniest thing.

Now let’s talk about your hair. It’s getting so long and I just love the color of it! In the sun it is golden blonde,

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and it’s almost long enough for a real ponytail!

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One of my favorite things that you’ve learned in the last month is how to shake your head and say “yes!” You’ve been shaking your head no for a while, but only recently learned yes. This is great because now I can ask you a question and you will answer either by telling me “no” or nodding your head yes. And you definitely know the difference between the two!

But despite the new understanding, your favorite word certainly seems to be no. And your favorite phrase? “No, Dada!” Poor daddy can’t seem to get anything right judging by how often you are telling him no. I’m repeatedly reminding you that you need to be nice to daddy and that you can’t tell him no like that. The problem is that the tone that you use and the way that you say it is impossibly cute. It’s so hard to be stern.

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And speaking of your language development, whoa! In the past month your vocabulary has exploded. I finally got around to listing all of the words that you say on a regular basis and came up with almost 50, including all of your school friends’ names! You talk non-stop and I love that I can understand so much of what you say. Of course there is still so much that you are learning, so there is still a lot of pointing and “uh, uh, uh” going on around here. But in addition to all of your new words, you are also understanding more and more. And sometimes your literal understanding makes me laugh. The other day I told you to “chew up your food.” So you looked up and chewed your food. So funny.

You still love bath time (“bap-f”) and pretty much anything having to do with water. About a week ago, you decided that you needed a bath in the middle of the day. We had nothing else going on, so I went with it. I have no idea how long you would have stayed in that water if I hadn’t pried you out when the water was cold.

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I’m so excited to take you back to the pool this summer!

You love to be outside. Recently you spotted several of the neighbor kids playing out front and stared at them through the window.

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I took you outside and we all played for almost two hours. I love that our house is surrounded by other kids close to your age!

You’re so much fun, Annabel, and we’re just loving this age with you.

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Thank you for all of the laughs, hugs, and kisses! Even the early morning snuggles are pretty great. Though I wouldn’t mind if they came just a little bit later. Just putting that out there! Think about it.

Love,

Mama

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