Two years ago, you were still a mystery. A fuzzy image on a monitor. A bouncy girl inside my uterus, waiting to come out. Two years ago, I was asking nurses about progress, impatient to have you enter the world and to hold you in my arms. Two years ago, you were still mostly a stranger, but you were already loved.
At one, you were walking (and running) and had less than 10 words. You still napped. You were still a baby, although I could see hints of little girl starting to peek out from your face.
This past year you have truly blown me away. You have thrown babyhood away with both hands and embraced your toddlerhood. You are a little girl, a baby no more. You speak in sentences, even if it’s just to tell us “No more Simpsons. Want Elmo.” Your hair has sprouted and corkscrewed past your shoulders…most often it is back in an adorable curly pony tail.
You adopted the sippy cup and abandoned your bottle. You have learned to eat with a spoon, although the fork is still a mystery to you. Why bother when you have perfectly good fingers, right? You eat a huge variety of things, but your favorites include strawberry or mango yogurt, bananas, cheetos, McDonalds nuggets, watermelon, grapes, pickles, apple juice, pineapple juice, and kool-aid (when we let you have a sip of ours…which you call “juice”).
This has been a year of profound change for our family. Your Daddy was laid off from his job last November, and in his search for a new job, we moved halfway around the world to Singapore. I never imagined living with you in a small Southeast Asian country 84 miles north of the equator, even when your Dad and I would talk about moving abroad…we’d always pictured Europe.
Obviously the move was scary. Not that I was worried that you wouldn’t adjust…but I was worried that we wouldn’t be happy here, that we would’ve completely turned your life upside down and taken you away from friends and family for nothing. Happily, we’ve made friends and you’ve found playmates again. You have adapted to life here; taking to the water with the ease of a mermaid, your adoration of the local zoo (that we can visit 365 days a year)
You’ve learned to skype online with your grandparents.
You visited Phuket, Thailand and while on vacation there, started swimming with just arm floaties.
You are an incredibly happy little girl. Unless you are hungry or tired, you have a smile on your face and an enthusiasm for life that radiates from you. You almost never just walk–you bounce, you dance, you sprint, you run with your arms wide open as if to hug the world as you do. You have a beautiful smile, and your eyes dance with laughter. The gymnastics classes you’ve been taking for a year now help you tumble and climb your way through your days.
You’ve embraced new friends this year. We have a live-in helper named Ebeth, and the two of you are very close. If I’m not around, she is your preferred pal. She is endlessly patient with you (for while you are happy, you are also trying at times). She’ll miss you terribly during our trip home. You’ve made new little friends-Aiden, Garret, Noah, and Henry.
Your happiness is only matched by your stubborness. You are a “my way or the highway” kind of girl. You do not want to be in the stroller, preferring to walk or have me carry you (which I would love to do, but as your weight increases, so does the strain on my low back). The word no can cause tantrums and whining (the whining is not my favorite sound in the world, just saying). You can be obsessive…it has to be THIS thing in THIS way. Quarter of an inch off, facing east instead of west, and the world has suddenly become a post-apocalytic nightmare.
You are sweet. You freely give hugs and kisses (once you’ve warmed up to strangers). You get concerned when another baby is crying. You lavish love on your dolls and stuffed animals.
You are very bright. You can identify most of the numbers from 1-20 with little error, although counting on your own shows that you have small sequences put together, but not all sequences are in the right order “1,2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9” for example. But you love numbers and would rather play with them than letters. Which is not to say you don’t love letters and books…we spend a good chunk of every day with books. You’ve learned about half to 2/3rd of your letters on site (although not phonics) and can sequence some of the abc song correctly. You love ask and answer books where you can respond to questions or say what an animal says to “help” read the book.
I was worried about your language until you hit about 20 months…in the last 4, you went from random single words to three and very rarely four word sentences. I understand a large chunk of what you say, but there’s still a lot of gibberish or struggle to pronounce that makes your speech occassionally unintelligible.
You and your Daddy watch football (you say “watch feetball with Daddy”) on the NFL game pass program he bought to stream the games to Singapore. We dress you up in your dolphins dress and you usually make it through the first half before needing to go to bed (you watch after your dad gets home from work, so it’s a late start).
You are a constant source of joy, laughter (sometimes at you…thanks for smearing diaper cream all over yourself and your bedroom…you’ll have only yourself to blame when that shows up in slideshows for the rest of your life), love, smiles, and hugs. My life is so much richer for having you in it, and I love you deeply.
Each year I’ll have a new letter sharing all the new ways in which you’ve become a strong, independent girl…and then woman…but you’ll still always be my baby.