Another First

My wee babe did what I have been expecting for weeks... she climbed out of the crib.

I really have been on pins and needles at naptimes for the past week or so. This monkey sleeps wonderfully at night and goes down without so much as a peep. But naptimes are a completely different story. She whines, screams, thrashes and then whines some more before she'll allow herself to settle into sleep.

Well, today's naptime was like the others. Loud shrieking accompanied by her thrashing around in the crib like a caged animal. However, this time I heard a large *WHAP* *THUNK* followed by the piercing cries of a wounded animal.

I raced up the steps but I knew ... I KNEW ... that she was out of the crib. Lo and behold - there she was standing in the middle of the room with her hair on end and a terry cloth summer hat clutched in one hand. Snot and tears streaked her face and belly.

Obviously, the dramatics were out of fright because when I burst into the room, she pivoted on one feet and took off in the other direction. I did attempt to put her back in the crib but she was so pitiful I just gave up on naptime. We may try again after Javi gets home.

She's currently chilling on the floor drinking some juice and watching Bunnytown without a care in the world. Go figure.

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Do these count?

Along with shimmying out dog doors, Bella may have developed another very important skill today: Giving orders!

She loves wandering around in the yard, so we take at least one long walk (to her) a day. Unfortunately, on days like today when I have lots of work, we can only squeeze in yard explorations. Today she plopped herself down in a clump of flowers and promptly began demolishing them as I stood beside her.

She looked up at me and yelled "dihhhhh dowwww!" in a slightly imperious voice as she patted the ground beside her. Like any good servant, I plopped right down beside her.

It's my fault, really. She likes to eat off of our plates, but I don't like her roaming with food in her mouth, so I make her sit down first. I say "sit down!" in a pleading, yet firm voice while patting the spot where I want her to park it. It takes a few times, but she eventually sits.

Guess I'm better trained than she is. :) But those syllables totally count as words, right?

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I took great pains this morning to sweep up yesterday's crud from the kitchen floor, put Daphne's dog food on the table and shut off the bedroom and bathroom - all so that Monkey could roam freely in her favorite room.

So Javi and I are perusing the Big Green Help because he wants to go green at school. But there's this eery silence in the kitchen. I send him to make sure she hasn't found something nuclear to get into ... and he yells "Oh no Bellbell!" and rushes out on to the deck.

Tell me why that child was outside trying to go down the deck stairs? Yes, she had wriggled out the dog door and was making a run for it. We brought her back in kicking and screaming and put the stupid gate back up. Just when I thought it was safe to expand her world.

I have to admit - I turned into a crotchety 80 year old by mumbling, "give them an inch and they'll take a mile!" as a reinstated the prison bars.

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Have you met my son? If so, you know that he loves to sing (whether he knows the words to a song or not) and he loves to dance (even if he looks like a weird chicken while doing it).

We'll be driving down the road with the iPod cranked up and he'll be in the back seat just pounding it out. Maroon 5, Chili Peppers, DJ Casper, Korn, Shaggy, Justin Timberlake, Timbaland - you name it and he'll try to sing it.

I suppose this is another instance of DNA winning out over common sense. All of my siblings - including those born in the past 10 years - can't keep themselves from singing along when a familiar song comes on. We could be in the grocery store, an elevator, a restaurant, the bank ... it doesn't matter. We're moved by the music.

The dancing I think he inherited from Erin. Legend has it she used to lock herself in her bedroom so that she could dance to Solid Gold without interruption. I don't think Ashlee qualifies as a dancer - unless you consider the side-to-side shuffle during Shameless and having to spend a weekend recovering after dropping it like it's hot at a club a few years back.

If you haven't seen Javi bust a move on the dance floor, you're missing a spectacular show. Here's a taste:

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See these teeth?

These are what happened to my sweetness.

You can't really tell, but there's another one poking out just a hair from her gum line beside the newest beast. Can they just be here already?!

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The Shots

Bella had her 12-month shots back on April 4 ... and she's still not the same girl. She used to be a smiley, sweet baby ... not anymore!

Okay, to be fair, she's also cutting all four top teeth and has contracted a slight cold. So, there are extenuating circumstances. But! My sweet baby.

I remember when Javi started cutting teeth full time. Back then we thought Evil Javi was a fluke. Now I realize it's part of childhood. Perhaps teething is a transition equal to puberty. The sweetness burns off and leaves a raging toddler. Alright - maybe I'm over-stating the problem, but Bad Bella is not same baby from April 3.

Whatever. Bad Bella cries and throws herself around when things don't go her way. She kicks and screams when you try to change her diaper or clothes. She stands at the gate and cries when you're in the kitchen and she's not. She throws a fit when she sees the gate for the stairs.

It's all so traumatic for her. I remember the "Bucking Bronco" from Javi's toddlerhood. Oh my goodness - I am NOT ready to relive those years! Bring back my laid-back baby!

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Bella's Birthday Breakdown

Poor baby enjoyed her party ... but let's make a mental note to not sing Happy Birthday to her next year!

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Birthday Girl

Here's Bella wearing my favorite new outfit (thanks Grandma for the gift!). She's engrossed with another birthday gift (from Nana & Poppie) - a new toy!

I have to say - the most surprising part of her mini-birthday bash was how happy she was to get her book out of the Book Hospital (aka the school library where my mom took it to reattach a page Bella got too rough with).

Also - for fun - we stuck her in a sparkly pink tutu. She was NOT happy. She doesn't cry about it - she just makes you feel bad for her she's so uncomfortable!

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Happy Birthday Monkey Girl!

Dear Baby,

You turned one year old this morning at 5:56 am. In what seems like both the longest and the shortest year in history, you've gone from a squirmy, bony baby to a squirmy, chubby girl.

12 months ago, I was laying in my hospital bed introducing Javi to his new little sister, amped up on adrenaline from only a few hours ago pushing a human being headfirst into the world. 12 months ago, I was excited to breastfeed you and keep you forever safe from any pain or suffering.

I didn't know then that my milk wouldn't come in, that we'd spend the first few weeks sleeping only an hour or so at a time as you cried and rooted for something - anything! - to quelch that hunger. I didn't know that you'd only be getting enough nutrition to keep you hydrated and that the fat would melt off your frame.

Sitting in that bed with my family all those months ago, I knew only that I had the most special, most beautiful, most amazing children a mom could ask for. I knew that I was so lucky that God gave me a son and a daughter to love. I knew that your father and I were about to travel down a whole new road - one that includes fairies and bullfrogs, princess parties and pigtails, sleepovers and a housefull of teenage girls.

What we didn't know is how is how watching you blossom from baby to child would take us on our own rollercoaster. You will be our last baby. Every step you take into toddlerhood takes us further away from the smell of baby neck and the sound of baby laughter. Every breath you exhale is another second ticking away on this phase of our lives. I love the sound of those breaths, but they remain bittersweet.

At a year old, you eat whatever you want, love to drink out of a big person cup, lay down for naps and bed time and fall gently into sleep without so much as a whimper. You laugh, run, and climb. You dance, you clap, you try to sing. You look up at your brother with a face full of light and admiration for this big boy who is so sweet with you.

Little girl, you are the best thing your father, brother and I could've hoped for when we looked at that tiny swimming seahorse on the ultrasound screen 18 months ago. What has struck me the most today, however, is the memory of the placental abruption at 16 weeks in utero. When all that blood flowed out of me, I think I took a really deep breath and held it.

I wanted to brace myself for the pain of miscarriage, for the gaping wound of it, for the empty chasm of it. When I heard your strong and rapid heartbeat the next day, tears streamed as I struggled to mentally get back to that happy-go-lucky place so many pregnant women live in. But, I realize today that I never got back there.

I spent the rest of your time inside of me holding my breath - would you be healthy? would you be a little boy? would labor go well? And after your birth, I've spent these months holding my breath - are you full? will you sleep? are you developing correctly? are you hurt?

I never stopped being afraid that something was going to go so horribly wrong that I would be forever in love with a child taken too soon. Yet everything is going to be okay. I'm breathing today. I feel like I've finally settled into this role as your Mama and that no matter what winding, twisty road we wind up on, our love and respect for you will keep us safe.

Happy birthday sweetpea,


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