I have a mommy confession.
I really don’t handle the whole “sleepless nights” thing well. Like, At all. We’ve been traveling a lot for the holidays, and LeLe really has done remarkably well, especially for being only 19 months old. But when she doesn’t sleep… it makes me want to just stay home… for forever… so that we all can sleep. Lately I have realized how much I fight for my mommy time. I am ravenously possessive of her nap time – i.e. my time. I love those hours where I can focus on being someone other than an interrupted distracted mom… where I can actually accomplish something from beginning to end. There is such a tension to balance (for me) between going with the flow of having a toddler, building structure and continuing to find my identity (both as LeLe’s mom and as myself).
So, after last night… when I woke up 6 times (although Matt actually got out of bed to comfort her when she needed it)… and then this morning (grumpy toddler who is not satisfied with anything and cries at the drop of a hat)… writing out my favorite memories from the last few months will provide some therapy. When all is said and done, I really do love being LeLe’s mommy. I wouldn’t trade her for anything. And I know that in the blink of an eye, she will be grown up and taking the world by storm (that’s what all of those toddler demands should mean, right? That she will be a passionate woman?)
As fall settled in this year, LeLe’s language comprehension and expression really took off. She went from calling her cousin “Neo” to his real name, “Niam.” She also correctly pronounces her new cousin’s name, “Gaius.” Other family names mastered: Great Grandma, Great papa, Auntie Nonna, and best of all… Mark Uncle. Not Uncle Mark, but Mark Uncle. And she also loves to ask for her babysitter, Miss Chris. She has begun to construct small sentence phrases, and she is getting much better at expressing what she needs / wants (instead of just screaming). This includes a need to taste everyone’s coffee, expressed as “coffee coffee coffee!” LeLe also has grown in her imitation skills. She can mimic Gaius’ newborn cry. She picks up on phrasings and vocal changes and learning new words like a pro. Stickers are “sticks.” Our favorite phrase by far, though, was LeLe’s rendition of Merry Christmas – “Merr Chrisas.” Our other favorites have got to be when she walks up to people smiling and says “hey you!,” and also when she whispers “sleeping” when she sees people taking a nap.
This fall, she also found much joy in Nana’s apple tree. Each morning, she would wake up, point out the window and say with a happy sigh “apples.” We ate apples, picked them up off of the ground, danced around them, made them into crisps, pies and applesauces. Oh the apples were so lovely. Next, LeLe delighted in finding circles and ovals everywhere. “Circle!” she would state triumphantly, as she traced them on high chairs, toys, in books and everywhere she went. LeLe loves to sing songs with her papa, dancing in circles to “Old MacDonald” and other toddler hits. LeLe has also become very picky about what songs she wants you to sing. I’ll start one and then she will say “no no no” and pick another one, only to let me sing one measure of it and then she picks another one. Her favorite right now is “Twinkle twinkle,” and I often hear her walking around singing to herself, and I catch “Tinkle” here and there.
LeLe also thrilled to have pillow fights with her uncle Chad, and she laughs at bunny kisses on her cheeks and arms. And LeLe’s new hairstyle began with persistence on her Nana’s part. Now she sports a cute side pony tail to get her bangs out of her eyes. Over Christmas break, she even let me braid her hair a few times. This is a great accomplishment, considering that she still screams when we pour water over her head in the bathtub. On the other hand, LeLe really loves swimming. One time when Matt and I were both with her, Matt was taking her through the lazy river, and each time she passed people sitting on the side, she would wave with a princess wave and smile. And who is the bees knees? Elmo. If Elmo even leaves the screen while she is watching sesame street, she says, “Elmo!” and stops watching. LeLe’s agility is also greatly improving. She jumps from ottomans to couches, scales tall chairs and creates obstacle courses out of kitchen tables and chairs.
There’s a few drawers in the kitchen just for grandkids. They mainly contain plastic serving spoons and such. Over the past few months, LeLe would take two spoons or spatulas, and walk across the floor like she was playing hockey. We finally figured it out – she was imitating Nana scooping dog poop from the backyard! Sometimes we will be cooking in the kitchen and she just blissfully breezes through, picking up the imaginary dog poop. LeLe has also begun to imagine going shopping. One day when she was hanging with her auntie JoJo, she picked up Joanna’s purse, and then walked around the room tapping everyone and telling them all goodbye. She would then smile and repeat the process.
November was a really tough month for us, with a lot going on in our families and in our personal lives. But we also found some beautiful moments. We traveled over the river and through the woods to my grandmother’s house for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. For the first trip, LeLe was very shy and not sure what to think. It took her a long time to warm up to her family over there… just in time for us to leave. One day, my papa (LeLe’s great papa) decided to try and win her over. So he personally made her an ice cream cone. She kept ducking behind people’s legs and trying not to look at him as he circled the kitchen trying to give it to her. In the end, I had to give it to her. But, I think the action planted a seed, because for the next several days she walked around saying “Great papa… Great grandma.”
Last year for Christmas, we all got the stomach flu. But this year, we all got to live it up! Matt played his saxophone for a Worship and the Word Movement Christmas Concert (he played so beautifully!). We went to a baby reunion with our doula and chased all of the little babies around that she has helped deliver over the past few years (seriously Sarah… you are totally a part of our family story!). We also went to a white elephant Christmas party hosted by Laura and Andy Abbott… By the end of the night, LeLe was running around in circles, pushing boxes and jumping on couches, and having a grand old time. We had a fondu family Christmas, played for our Christmas Eve service at church, and we had BBQ and great family time at the Zlaten family Christmas Eve party. We drove Christmas day (seriously the best day to travel ever! There was no traffic!) to Paonia. That early evening we exchanged presents, ate our traditional Muncy shrimp dip (Matt won’t touch the stuff) and played a few rounds of belly-splitting “telestrations” with all of the Reschke girls. For our second Paonia trip, LeLe was definitely more at home. She quickly warmed up, and was very delighted to play penguins on the stairs with the girls. She also would run into the other room and yell “I chase you!” as an invitation for someone to come in and chase her. Then she would squeal with delight. Our last Christmas stop landed us a few days with the Tuckers in Grand Junction. We played lots of games, cooked yummy food and the babies all played together. We are home now, and she keeps asking for Nathan and Benjamin.
Life is full. And hard. And so many moments I find my heart bursting with love for this little creature, and the joy she brings to me and so many others. Other moments I have such a hard time helping her process this crazy world.
Whew. Thanks for the blog therapy.