Sunday, November 15, 2009

2 years

Dear Alli,

Today is your second birthday! To celebrate, we had a bowling party. Yes, a bowling party. Not typical for a 2-year-old girl, sure, but it was awesome. (And not just because I didn't have to stress about cleaning the house. Although, I'm not gonna lie, that was a MAJOR plus.)

Two weeks ago, Dad and I realized we had an entire Saturday afternoon free. No photo shoots, no radio broadcasts, no orders to process, no phone calls to make, no plans, no responsibilities, nothing. It was blissful. So we starting brainstorming things we could do together as a family, and one of us suggested bowling.

We figured it was a bit of a risk because we didn't know whether you'd be able to handle it, but not only did you tolerate it, you LOVED it. You loved pushing the ball down the ramp they had for kids, watching it knock over the pins and announcing whose turn it was. And just when you thought it couldn't get any better, they turned off the overhead lights, fired up the disco lights and started blasting music.

You squealed, you laughed, you danced, and we put down a deposit for your party.

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We spent the week before your birthday in Rochester with Grandma and Grandpa. While I was there, I had a bunch of holiday photo shoots, which included mock Christmas presents.

Those presents taunted you. You wanted to open them so badly, even though I explained repeatedly that they were empty and that you would have real presents in a matter of days. But you couldn't give it up. You begged for those presents. You wanted to arrange them and carry them and rip off the bows.

So when it came time for actual! presents! ... you had shell shock. All of your cousins and friends at your party were ready to rip and tear. In fact, I had to hold them back from doing so on more than one occasion. But in the midst of all the crazy, you kept quietly turning to me and asking, "Momma open?"

I got them started, prompted you to help, and tried to take in your reaction as you discovered what was inside.

Mostly it was a whirlwind of tissue paper, shrieks and little pointing fingers, but when you got to the toys Dad picked out for you, the world stopped.

I have to preface this by saying your father is addicted to his iPod and all of his damn apps -- one of which offers a single product every day and when it's gone, it's gone. Every afternoon he shoves that thing in my face to show me the fantastic item that's going to change our lives, and every day I tell him if he does it the next day, I'm going to shove it up his ass.

But when the product of the day happened to be four plush dolls from your favorite TV show, I conceded. I agreed it would change our lives. Yes, that app was indeed useful. One. Time.

Because although your show is popular, it hasn't quite made it to mainstream status yet. "Wow Wow Wubbzy" is mostly relegated to online specialty retailers. I couldn't find a single Wubbzy party hat or plate in any store. We had to print ghetto invitations from the official online site. And the only thing that made your party anything close to being Wubbzy related was the amazing three-tiered kickity kickball cake your great-aunt Glrrr made.

So when you saw a miniature Wubbzy, Walden, Widget and Daisy for your very own, you just gasped. You got very quiet, pulled each of them from the bag and hugged all four in your arms so tightly, I had to pry them free in order for you to finish opening the rest of your presents.

That moment almost made listening to the Wubbzy theme song every day for the past month tolerable.

Almost.

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I'm not sure if I've written about this yet, but one of the most enjoyable things to experience with you hasn't been tangible. Watching you learn to use a spoon or figure out how to jump or master a new task has been incredible, but in the past few months, I've watched your imagination develop.

You no longer need to play with an exact replica of something to envision it. You can pretend that rocks are cookies or bring your stuffed animals to life by giving them emotions and actions. You replicate the sound of a train as you push it around the track and use toys in ways other than they were intended because you can imagine them as something else.

This is perhaps your biggest milestone in my opinion. It's one thing to watch your physical development, but to experience your mental and cognitive growth is astounding as a parent.

People still constantly remark about your advanced language skills, but now I just expect it. I expect you to use the correct tense and place an adjective before a noun instead of the other way around. I expect you to ask for something in a complete sentence.

One of the experts who came to speak at your play group said that 90 percent of a child's brain is developed by age 5. When my jaw returned to its normal closed position, I leaned to the mom next to me and whispered, "But no pressure, right?"

You are so eager to learn and do and try right now. I want you to know that we're all just trying to keep up.

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Bunny and Bear, your favorite companions, have become BunnyBear. As in, "Where BunnyBear?" or "BunnyBear stuck" or "Wait! Get BunnyBear!" They are now one entity. And they rank in that order.

When you were less mobile, we would leave them in your crib. Every morning after changing your diaper, I would ask you to toss them in bed before we went downstairs. Eventually, once we made our way back upstairs to play, you'd pry them from between the bars of your crib or scream for help when you couldn't.

This came in handy when it was naptime because you couldn't fall asleep without them. At least we wouldn't be frantic looking through the entire house, just a few rooms. And there was never a fear of leaving them somewhere, because they weren't allowed out of the house.

Now that you're big enough to walk upstairs to get them yourself, I've given up. They are your sidekicks. Where you go, they go. But I've demanded that they stay in the car when we get to our destination. The potential for disaster is just too great.

I say this because they don't sell them anymore. I can't just go to Super Everything Mart and buy four backups. Besides, I want you to have the originals. As someone who still has her childhood bear, I know how special that is.

But after two years of you sucking on Bunny's tail, the unthinkable happened this month. The tail's little hole became a big hole. And all the stuffing came out. Then the entire thing fell off.

"OH NO! MOMMY! BUNNY BUTT! ALL GONE! ... Momma fix? Momma fix? Momma fix?"

It was beyond repair. Bunny's entire rear end is gray from saliva and who knows what else. Dad and I had been joking for months that she has irritable bowel syndrome. The last thing I wanted to do was reattach what was left of the tail.

So I gave in to Dad's pleading and paid a ridiculous amount for another one on eBay. I lost sleep over what was going to happen and how we were going to make the swap, but Dad looked at me and said, "Go with it."

He held you in his arms, told you to toss Bunny to me, then I ran into the kitchen, made the switch and tossed the new one back to you.

You looked at it suspiciously at first, and I could see you knew something wasn't right. Then, just as I thought you were ready to reject it, I flipped it over, pointed out that the tail was miraculously fixed, and you shouted, "YAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYY!"

Then you hugged it, and spent the rest of the day remarking "Bunny softy" because this one still has all its plush goodness.

So now the new Bunny goes on your daily adventures. She stirs pasta. She flies from one end of your bedroom to the other. She rides Toby like a horse. She reads books. She dances. She plays dress up. All with her best bud Bear.

But I promise that the original Bunny will be ready to play with you again when you're old enough to understand how special she is.

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I have a million other things to write about, but mostly I want you to know what a tremendous little girl you are. You smile freely. You can't pass anyone on a walk without shouting hello. If I'm not blocking you into a booth at a restaurant, you will instantly jump down in attempt to visit all of the tables and see who will talk to you.

You love milk, cheese, chocolate chip ice cream, pomegranate seeds, craisins and any kind of fruit cup, but especially mandarin oranges. You love pasta or "noonles," and you always drag your chair to the counter to help me cook dinner.

You like to run at full speed, lean to one side like you're losing your balance, scream "WOA! WOA! WOA!" and purposely fall to your knees.

You like to collect sticks on our walks and throw them in the river when we get to the bridge. You also ask to sit in the gazebo near the train station to watch for them, but always run to me and cover your ears when one passes.

You like to ride the arms of the couch like a horse. You often take all of the decorate bowls and candles off the shelves in the dining room and pile them on the coffee table.

You love showers and scream to take a bath every time we change your clothes. You think that if you're naked, you ought to be in the water.

You love pop-up books, but you desperately want to pull them apart to see how they work. A shark took one for the team when I wasn't looking this month.

You love playing dress up and piled on three skirts, butterfly wings and a princess hat last night, but you also grab bugs, get dirty and play rough.

You love animals, when Dad swings you as high as he can, getting lollipops at the bank, putting your blankets over your head when I lay you down to sleep and giving high-fives and kisses.

You love making faces at yourself in the mirror and want to eat lotion, soap or anything else that has no nutritional value and would cause you to vomit if I didn't stop you. In fact, when I tell you not to eat my lotion, you just close your eyes and continue as if I can't see you anymore.

You stuff your mouth so full of food sometimes that you can't swallow. Then you walk over to me, I hold out my hand, and you spit everything out in a half-chewed mass. And sometimes, if I'm not fast enough, you'll pick part of it back up and shove it into your mouth. My parenthood badge keeps me from dry heaving.

You often call me "Momer," and I couldn't figure out where you had come up with that until I realized I like to call Toby "Tober."

You asked for an apple in Chinese this month after watching an episode of "Ni How Kai Lan." I nearly ripped my hair out trying to figure out what the hell you were talking about.

You pooped in the toilet tonight, looked between your legs into the water and screamed, "LOOK MOM! FISHIES!"

You never say please on your own, but when prompted, you drag it out as long as possible as if the extra emphasis makes up for the fact that you didn't think to say it the first time.

You've gotten so good at saying thank you that everyone comments how polite you are. But I know that you like to announce every time you fart. And laugh like it's the funniest sound you could possibly make.

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As usual, there are lots of memorable moments from this month, but one in particular stands out in my mind.

We were all eating together at the table, and you announced, "I love you, Mommy."

It was the first time you told anyone that, so Dad and I kind of froze. He broke the silence with a big "Awww! Did you hear that?" and I just nodded. It took me a minute to tell you that I loved you back because I was busy storing the moment into my brain's filing cabinet.

Since then, you have told lots of other people that you love them, but you don't use that word freely, so we know you really mean it.

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I could have easily reminisced throughout this entire letter about the beautiful baby I brought home two years ago and tell you how nostalgic I get when looking at your old photos.

A few weeks ago I found this amazing frame in a discount bin with six identical spaces for photos. I spent days finding the perfect spot to hang it and even longer deciding which pictures to fill it with.

But as I went through my files trying to get a few good shots of everyone in the family, the perfect idea suddenly occurred to me. I hung it vertically and put a progression of photos of you starting with one I took when you were 2-days-old.

Allison, I love looking at that frame. I marvel at the changes you have gone through in the past two years, and I feel so privileged to have been able to experience them with you. If I stop and think about where we're going to be two years from now, I start to lose my breath. I want to put you in a bag, hook it up to our food vacuum sealer and preserve you in the freezer.

But I know you have so much more growing to do. More milestones. More birthdays. More farts, more shoe sizes, more sticks to throw into the river. And lots of things you haven't even tried yet.

I remember looking at your sweet little face as you slept for hours in my arms. I remember smelling your head, feeling your warmth and weight on my chest and wondering who you would become. What you would be like. What your voice would sound like. How your features would change.

Now I look at you, and I can't believe I didn't know it all along. I can't imagine you any other way.

I love you,
Momer

13 comments:

the_plainsman said...

At least she did not say "Look Fishies" in Chinese as you might have gone bald trying to figure that one out!

Again, a wonderful written record of your family's precious days. Thanks for continuing to share.

Timberly said...

Alli is very, very lucky to have you for a mom. Of course, you're lucky to have her, but she really got the pick of the litter. Love you guys!

Erica said...

This might be my favorite letter yet. It really is beautiful. I think it's so wonderful you have all of these photos and letters to preserve these years. Happy Birthday to Allison! Thanks for sharing, she's a lucky little girl to have parents like you guys, and she sounds pretty awesome herself.

Anonymous said...

Kelly,
This is a beautiful letter to Alli, she is lucky to have such loving parents. She will continue to amaze you and sometimes drive you crazy, lol.

Barbi

Cate said...

I may or may not have teared up a little reading this!

Fit Mama said...

happy birthday Alli! It might just be the pregnancy hormones, but this letter really made me tear up :) You put into beautiful words what so many moms experience.

Maria said...

Happy Birthday Allison!

Anonymous said...

another beautiful letter

Ray said...

One thing is for sure: NO ONE can say that you don't know your child. Wow, Kelly. Just, "WOW!" What an amazing, AMAZING letter. This one tops them all (I mean they're all great, but this one will always be my favorite).

It is SO amazingly beautiful the way you know Allison inside and out. One should be so lucky to know their child so greatly.

I can't believe she remembered that phrase in Chinese! You should really get her started on a second language. With how smart she is I think that she'd pick it up quickly. And it is shocking how the brain is formed by the age of 5! Total shocker, but I believe it to be true. They say that your personality will also forever be ingrained by the age of 5. I think that's true as well. The person that you were at five can very greatly so emulate the person that you are now.

Anyhow: Allison is an awesome little girl! "HAPPY 2ND (BELATED) BIRTHDAY ALLI!" ;D

P.S. Bowling party at “2” huh? So cool but: How are you going to top the third birthday?! ;o)

LeslieAnn said...

Happy birthday Alli! She's so beautiful. Every time my niece grows a year older I get so sad at the thought of losing her at that stage but so excited at the thought of how she'll grow and change. It's amazing. Alli has such wonderful loving parents. I think it's obvious that you're on the right track with her so far. She's a great little chickie.

Nina's Mama said...

Beautiful letter Kelly. As always you brought tears to my eyes.

I think this birthday letter touched me even more than the first since I now have a baby girl of my own.

~ Kirs

Anonymous said...

I literally laughed out loud, and literally teared up reading this. It's beautiful! Alli is so lucky.
:)

Anonymous said...

Ping guo! Apple! Haha.

Great letter as always. And happy birthday Alli. I can't believe how long I've been following your blog. Seems only yesterday you were writing about eating an entire bag of Doritos.