Letter to Bella, month fifteen

Dear Bella,

How does a little girl remember her first real summer? I think if you have any memories of the past month, they will be: bubbles, trips to the library and local park, your big brother chasing you around, and lots of independence (including some of the gates coming down and riding face-forward in the car).

Your pediatrician had it pegged: You're a big girl who's on the move! Your now 22-lbs body fits perfectly into size 12 month clothing (only 3 months too late) and your gross and fine motor skills are off the charts. You can walk a balance beam, propel yourself around on ride-on toys, climb anything in your path, kick or roll a ball, jump, stack blocks and sort shapes. And yesterday you learned to brush your own teeth - now, granted that was after I showed you that toothbrushes aren't meant for brushing your hair ... but you picked it up pretty quickly after the rough start.

You still don't have many words, but you find ways to communicate. When we're in the car, you constantly babble at me - and lord help us all if I don't have the rearview mirror pointed at you so that we can maintain somewhat constant eye contact. You smile, hide your eyes, wave, and squawk from the time we buckle in until it's time to get out. The same goes at home: You are a talker. You just haven't figured out the correct order for those pesky syllables.

You have begun referring to us by names, which is awesome. Of course Daddy is still Da!Da!, but now I get to be AhMa! and Javi is BruhBa! (Yes, always as an exclamation.) You've also learned to point at what you want in lieu of language ... only you do it with your nose as often as with your finger. You'll get right up on the object you want and poke your nose at it. As soon as we stop laughing, we retrieve whatever object Your Highness desires.

That aforementioned independence means we've changed a few things 'round the homestead. Now, all bathroom and bedroom doors (except yours) remain shut so that you can roam freely without fear that you'll stumble upon the motherload - also known as anything you aren't supposed to have. Right now your favorite toys are the baby-fist-sized pool balls from Javi's game tables. You like to have one in each hand at all times ... even if that means holding your sippy cup between your wrists. Hey! Where there's a will, there's a way.

This past month has been more of the same: cheese and fruit is your favorite meal; you find Backyardigans, Blues Clues and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse riveting; you climb the walls and everything else... you are even more that little person I've watched develop.

I asked myself today why I continue to write these letters. At first I thought I would only write them through your first year ... but it's not as though you've stopped growing or developing. It's not as though you no longer fill our lives with surprises. You are still an amazing little feat that your daddy and I can't take our eyes off of. You are still the miracle that your older brother proclaims you to be. But most of all, you are You. Richly, resonantly, completely You.

That's what these letters are about. Trying to capture the essence of who you are - how you blossomed into the fun-loving, smart, precious child I know you will be. When you are old enough to read these letters, perhaps they will shine a spotlight on these murky formative years. Perhaps one day you'll read them and murmur to yourself: So this is who I am. Yes, baby, this is who you are.

Love, Mama


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