Letter to Bella, month twenty

Dear Bella,

The holidays passed in a blur, but you did much better than I could expect from a toddler. No matter how your schedule changed or how much running around we did, you were able to go with the flow. This is a huge signal to me that you are officially a big girl and the baby days are behind us.

PhotobucketBut I have an even bigger sign: you're using the potty ... and not in your diaper! I don't think I can adequately convey the kind of the type of celebration that goes on in the bathroom when you tinkle - which has happened three times, the last two on purpose. However, you began making toots on the potty and the week of Christmas - you made a poo! You got a big piece of chocolate for that one and you were so proud of yourself.

I can tell that you know what to do on there on now because you try very hard to make some business so the candy and chocolate will flow. I should point out that your real favorite activity in there is flushing. You lose all focus when it's flushing time - and we have to scrape the little chocolate fingerprints off the metal.

Even more fun than making business in the potty? Gymnastics! You started the "Me & My Folks" gymastics class through Parks & Rec at the beginning of this month and immediately fell in love. From the moment we walk into the building, you want your coat and shoes off and you spend the full session running. Running from one station to the next, from the front of the cavernous room to the back, and from one child to another.

Your mobility and agility are pretty amazing. You aren't content just to jump on the trampoline or scramble through padded tubes. No, not you. You love to swing on the bars and the rings, walk the balance beam, climb the makeshift ladder (which is as tall as I am), and tumble down the huge padded ramps. Your friend Cera also attends the class, and the two of you show everyone else who's boss. The last day before holiday intercession, I asked the coaches to play music and that's when you started showing off - dancing, singing, and tumbling to your heart's content.

Everywhere we go, you manage to steal the spotlight. Yet, that's not often a good thing. For Javi's birthday, we had a party for him and his friends at McDonalds. All 12 of those little boys couldn't manage to worry the playplace staff the way you did. You climbed, ran, hid, and jumped your way into a heartache for the woman keeping the room in order during the party. I think I had to tell her 1800 times to just not worry about you, that we had you under control, but she didn't listen. I think when we left, she breathed a very deep sigh of relief.

But that's your personality. You go at the world full force with all the intensity your tiny body can muster. And you are pretty tiny. At your well-baby visit, you weighed a whopping 23 pounds and stood 31 inches tall. That puts you at 50th percentile for height and 25th percentile for weight - which is not so bad, but is a slight drop from your last visit where you were 50-50. I think you hit a growth spurt that translated to an inch of height but didn't come with an appetite increase. All the holiday sweets and heavy foods will surely bring you back up to average by the time of your next appointment.

Speaking of Christmas. We had four of them: Christmas Eve at Grandpa's, Christmas morning at home, Christmas day with Grandma, and Christmas night with Nana & Poppie. To our surprise, you had a blast at each and everyone, though you never really showed much interest in opening gifts. You are definitely a mini-Billy because unwrapping has always been my favorite part of gift giving. But for you guys? You want what's inside. This year, your favorite gifts were: the Mickey Mouse rocker from Daddy, the Little People animal farm from me, the storyteller bear from Grandma, and your megablocks from Granny Gwen (the babysitter).

I fight the urge to hide those megablocks from you. They, along with the rocker and your Little People animals, are always in the middle of the floor. And you won't leave them in the bag. No, they must be scattered over every surface. When we zip them up into the bag, you hook the strap onto your arm and drag it around the room while whining and whimpering. Yesterday you drug that bag all the way up the stairs and into your bedroom and then had a meltdown when I wouldn't let you dump them out. However, when they are out, you will play with them for hours, so I can't really complain.

While I'm happy that Christmas is over, I can't help but smile when I think about how much you loved the sounds, smells, and sights of the season. I thought were going to strip the Christmas tree but then I realized that you only messed with it because you wanted the lights on - all the time. If you were in the room, then those lights had to be on - including the star. If the star wasn't on, you'd point up at it and yell "gar!" until we followed "the rules."

While it's nice to have our lives back to normal, I will treasure the memories from this holiday season: your first photo with Santa, your first time unwrapping your own gifts, and, most importantly, the first time our family has seen its traditions come effortlessly and without any forcing. This is how we do things, and you fell right into step. You are our perfect fit.

Love, Mama


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