Dear Miss M,
When I went to the doctor recently, she was asking me how old you are, and I stumbled. Because, 17 months sounds REALLY old to me! How can you possibly be 17 months already?! You continue to delight and amaze us every day, and we simply adore you. You are very funny, and absolutely LOVE to laugh. You constantly try to catch the eye of strangers, with a quick and adorable grin. You love life, and we just love that about you.
About a month or so ago, you started having your inconsolable crying jags in the middle of the night, the ones that we cannot wake you from. We've learned that these precede a big developmental growth, and sure enough, shortly after that your language skills just exploded. You know so many words that I cannot even keep track of them. Some of my favorites are "oh no mommy!" (said in a little high pitched voice that always makes me giggle, and may signify either a perceived disaster (a cartoon has ended) or a real one (upended milk on the living room carpet); "dog!" (said EVERY time we pass one on the street or in the park, with great pleasure and pointing); and "please" and "thank you." I am just so very proud that you say please and thank you in the perfectly correct context. Oh, and "Minnie" and "Mickey"--like mommy and daddy, you are a big Disney fan.
You have grown to be a sophisticated eater. You still don't eat enough for your poor mother, but you eat a wide array of foods, with a particular love of strongly flavored food. You love chicken, all cheeses (particularly strong ones), all dairy (drinking a few cups of milk each day; cottage cheese; and two containers of yogurt a day!); and pretty much all fruits and vegetables. You will eat banana pureed, but refuse to eat it raw. It is a texture thing--you hate to touch it. The same is true of raspberries--you pick them out of fruit salad and hand them back to me. You'll eat them pureed, though, so it's not the taste. You are MADLY in love with strawberries and blueberries. You've eaten an entire carton of strawberries a day for the last two days, in fact. Last night for dinner you had TWO CUPS of fruit salad! You became a big fan of apricots during our recent trip to Italy, and couldn't get enough of them. Sadly, the ones that I buy in the store here don't even remotely compare to the gorgeous, perfumed, sweet, rich apricots we got fresh from the tree in Italy. After rejecting ice cream for the last few months, you have decided that you like it very much. The ice cream joint in our neighborhood serves baby-sized mini cones for about $1.50, and we get you one when we go in. You are delighted with it. We took you for Mexican food recently, and you were all about the tortilla chips and black beans. We had a sad incident with a quesadilla, though--I tasted it and didn't think it had anything spicy in it, so I gave you a bite. Your sensitive tongue felt differently, though. You shrieked and spit it out as fast as you could, and cried. But you also, adorably, got angry at the food, and repeatedly hit the offending bite that you'd spit out on the table. It was a little sad, but priceless. A gulp of milk later, though, and you were good to go.
You are a very busy child, and like to have a lot going on. It's sometimes harder to stay in the house with you than it is to take you out and about. In your stroller or backpack, you are a delight. You love to see the sights and the people who are out, and are almost always perfectly behaved. You are generally excellent in restaurants, particularly if the staff is nice to you. You are just such a people person. You take after your daddy, who also loves to people watch. It's hilarious to watch you try to engage with people. You start by trying to make eye contact. Then you might wave. Then, you might get bold and belt out a big hello. Or, as you often say "HIYA!" People often stop to comment on how outgoing you are, and you are happy to let others hold you.
While we were on a beach in Italy, we came across a handsome young man who was with his parents. He had two prosthetic limbs, and his parents watched him anxiously. He chatted with daddy, and his mother eventually asked to hold you. You went off and played with her for the longest time, and I could see how you made her heart lift. It turned out that the young man had been in a bad accident in the last year, and almost died. He was their only child, and you could see how his parents still worried about him. He seemed confident and outgoing. Their hearts, though, still need mending, it was clear. It was so wonderful to see how your joy could lift their spirits. They asked to take pictures with us before we split up, so we did and we've got great photos of you hamming it up with them.
You LOVE the camera, and give a big toothy grin on command. I have many wonderful pictures of you from our trip to Italy, because you just love to mug for the camera. I have this one picture that I took while we were standing in line to get tickets at the Colosseum. You wrapped your arm around my neck and pulled me close, then smilled for the camera while I took our self-portrait with my free hand. The picture is just priceless. You are just so full of joy.
You are also, however, growing quite headstrong. You have a very decided preference for what you want to do, and when you are allowed to roam freely, which direction you'd like to go in. If we try to go in a different direction while you are walking, a tantrum is certain to ensue. And when leaving the playground. . .meltdown! We know it's your way of expressing your displeasure, and we roll with it. Daddy does find it a bit disconcerting, though, as before this month, we'd never experienced such behavior from you. You've always been so pleasant, so it's a bit of a shock to see you be disagreeable. Still, we treasure these moments as your little self develops. . .another milestone.
You are finally in a size 3 shoe, and wearing some 18 month clothing, although it is largely too big for you. Items sized 12-18 months seem to fit the best. The 12 month items are finally getting a bit small. You are still a skinny girl! We will have to go back to the specialist in another month to see how you are growing. Developmentally, you are thriving, but you are definitely still very petite.
You've grown a bit bored with your toys, but will sometimes play your little mini-piano and "sing" along. I recently fished out a play piggybank with play oversized coins, and it's fun to watch you build dexterity by trying to figure out how the coins go in the slot, and put them there. You also like the sand castle mixing bowl/spoon/cup set I bought you, and you pretend eat from the spoons, which cracks me up. You also pretend drink from some of your toys that are cup-like, such as some of the other sand toys. You like it when I pretend eat with you, and find it hilariously funny.
We treasure every day with you. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me, other than daddy. You are just such a little firecracker, so full of zest for life and so curious about everything. Our house is full of laughter every day, and that makes my life so bright and wonderful.