Tall green grass, shade, tea parties and badminton create the essence of a good summer. Yesterday, I squeezed out ever drop of sunshine I could. I can barely take in that my baby turned 15 months old just a few short hours ago. These past few months were packed with focus, major life shifts and finally some fun along the way.
When LeLe turned 13 months old at the end of July, we were in full swing with packing our house to sell. LeLe was thrilled to run around and investigate the freshly packed boxes, and she often succeeded in unpacking them in the blink of an eye. Just a few weeks earlier, our house was on the market and sold on the first day at a higher price than we ever thought we could get for it. At the beginning of 2014, we really began to seek God about how we could amp up our saving, giving and getting out of debt. We were humbled by His answer – a call to sell our little house (we figured we would stay there for awhile), shipping me off to start my Ph.D. at CSU and living with Matt’s family so that we can raise a passel of kids together. We can’t say that we had too much to do with that whole scenario. Sometimes we don’t even quite know how to process it – we are now completely debt free. And we know that this opens the door for a lot of possibilities. So for now we wait… and ask… and keep our eyes open wide.
In June, LeLe really started talking. Her first word (besides “Uh-oh” several months ago, “Ba-Ba” and “Meow” pretty slurred around the time she turned one) was a very clearly articulated “doggy” followed shortly by “puppy.” This summer, nearly every moving creature has received the “doggy” designation, including the hammerhead shark we saw at the Monterey Bay aquarium. Daddy emerged very quickly as “da da,” and for a few months, I took a life tour as “Boppy.” Lele also quickly picked up “me” for her Memaw, followed my “meeee mawww.” And now she says my parent’s names all in succession… “Memaw, Papa, GiGi and Gacie (for Gracie the dachshund).” Watching the baby learn to speak has been one of my absolute favorite experiences! And now at 15 months, she says “Hi, Bye, Gotcha, Apple, Happy, Shoes, ‘Side (for outside), Winni, Lilac, Flowers, Leaves, and Baby.” Yep, these are all of the words one needs to know for breathing in and out summertime magic.
This summer LeLe progressed from tentative steps to full on climbing and running (and many many bonks along the way). She climbs slides and actually anything she can get her hands and feet to grasp. She also makes seats out of anything and everything – ledges, steps, overturned buckets. She worked very hard to master the art of turning off light switches. And right after her birthday, she decided no was the funnies word she had ever heard, and began laughing hysterically every time we said it… sigh.
In the middle of July we crammed into the Zlaten Zoo house. At some point there will be a small apartment for our little family, but for now we are crammed into my in-laws guest room and office… They are pretty crazy for allowing us to do this, and we are grateful for the landing pad as we learn to navigate our new reality (school… lots of work… toddler). And LeLe’s favorite word of the summer BY FAR has got to be “Neo,” the nickname she has bestowed on her 18-month old cousin Niam. When LeLe wakes up, her first word is usually “Neo.” And “Neo” carries many shades of meaning such as “Where are you Neo?” and “Oh, Neo is coming up the stairs!” and “Yeah I see you Neo!” and “Neo, chase me” and “Neo, I want your juice cup,” and “Neo, stop poking me in the face!,” and “Neo, make room for me on the chair next to you…seriously” and “Neo, DO NOT take my stuff.” It’s amazing how many nuances one word can carry.
At the beginning of August, we zoomed on an airplane for a family vacation to the San Francisco bay area. LeLe truly rocked her first plane ride – we even all said “woah” over and over again as the descent and landing happened, much to the laughs of everyone around us. LeLe gazed at all the people in the airport, and on the plane she wanted to play with the air valves. And then she crashed for a long plane nap. I was so nervous about all of this, and God’s grace seriously seeped into us. We really needed that vacation – exploring Santa Cruz beaches, eating tons of sea food, catching up with dearly missed friends, smelling the ocean and winding up the jaggedly curving San Francisco streets. I felt my mind decompress and let go of the moving stress. We played hard after we had worked so hard.
Right around the time of our vacation, LeLe also began a cute little toddler love affair with shoes, particularly her yellow crocs. They were the first thing she asked for in the morning and after naps, and she very quickly learned how to get them on and off for herself. Now she tries on pretty much any pair of shoes available.
This summer, LeLe became such a big girl. She sits at a stool by the table to eat, tries to skate board on her big toy car, voluntarily sings the “be bo” robot song, swims and explores. She loves playing with big girls – she watches with fascination, trying to figure out what the big deal is and why they are all so excited.
Even with all of the hard transitions, the summer left a delicious taste in my memory. I feasted on the mountains, took time to savor my little family, dreamed about the future in front of us. It’s hard to imagine my little baby growing up so fast, but I’m loving every turn along the way.