Eleven months

May 13, 2015

Dear Eva,

There are hundreds, thousands of things to love about you. But here are 11 things I’ve especially loved about your 11th month — and especially love about you as an 11 month old.

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1. You started swim lessons this month, and I love the way you push off the edge of the pool into my arms. We’re supposed to sing a little song — Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall; Humpty Dumpty had a big fall! — and you’re supposed to come in on the last word. But now that we’re four lessons in, you can never wait that long. My little water baby.

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2. I love that you always want to do the next thing, to be in the next phase. You’ve been practicing your free standing and walking while we hold your hands, and sometimes you try to crawl so fast that you tumble over yourself because all the parts can’t keep up. You just always think you’re a little bigger than you are.

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3. You’ve discovered that you can sit on the floor and spin yourself around and around with your feet. It’s pretty much the best.

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4. When you’re really tired, or when I pick you up from school, or when you don’t feel well, or when you’re playing at being shy with strangers, you curl your little body into mine and rest your head on my chest. Please keep doing that forever.

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5. All of a sudden, your cheeks got so much softer. They still look the same, but daddy and I know the difference because we kiss those cheeks about a million times a day. I loved those firm baby cheeks and I love the squishier toddler cheeks too.

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6. You are constantly finding new treasures — an applesauce lid, a pen, a bookmark, a small flashlight, coasters, the remote for your canopy lights, a ponytail holder, in rare cases a toy from your What’s Inside box or an animal from your Canada train — and because you are a woman on the go, you have to find new ways of carrying them. It’s not uncommon for you to crawl around with something in each fist and some other item in your mouth. If you could find a way to crawl with daddy’s shoes in your hands, you would do that too. It is pure delight, watching you devise new ways of doing things every single day.

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7. I love all of the little summer jumpers you’ve started wearing, although the emergence of the 18 month wardrobe (and, in some cases, 24 month outfits) means bidding farewell to the 12 month clothes, to which I have become much too attached. Goodbye, little constellation jammies. So long, little geometric flower romper. I will miss you, little floral peasant blouse.

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8. We are all very excited about your new high chair (as opposed to the old one that attached to a dining chair and which I knew you would inevitably tip over backward one of these days) and less excited about your increasingly discriminating palate. You are well on your way to a reprise of the Allison Towers Hunger Strike of 1986, in which I ate nothing but Cheerios, yogurt, and cheese for months. Your list may also include applesauce and cheese crackers, plus salmon for Granny and mandarins when you’re in the mood, but not much else (unless it’s a bit of goodness knows what that you found on the floor, in which case you eat it immediately). You even rejected cookies on your first visit to our favorite cookie bakery in Hood River. That was weird.

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9. I love that we have conversations. Even though I have no idea what you’re telling me. Even though you know nothing of indoor voices. Especially when you laugh at yourself or gesticulate wildly or clap while you’re talking or babble with a cadence that feels like sentences, like thoughts strung together. I feel like I can sit and watch you learn language, word by word, far beyond what you can say yourself.

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10. You’ve been going to music class for a few weeks now, and you clearly have favorite songs (and not so favorite songs). When it’s time to put the instruments away, the bigger kids all help push the tub of drums and tambourines to the other end of the room, and you crawl right after them, trying to be big as always. You especially like when the teacher lets you pluck the strings of her ukulele. Maybe you’ll learn to play the guitar just like your granny and grandpa.

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11. You are passionate and fearless and strong, feeling every feeling with every part of yourself. This is my favorite thing about you, but it’s also the thing that scares me — because I don’t like when your little heart hurts (and some days come with a lot of tears), and because I don’t always know what to do with such big emotions in such a small person, and because I don’t always feel like I can be the mom you need, the mom who guides you and encourages you and shows you how to wield that passion and boldness without suffocating it but also without letting it control you. But then I’m reminded that I’m this way too, and so is your granny, and so was your great granny, and it is this legacy that is yours, generations of strong women who were also thoughtful and gentle and gracious and tender. And we pray and believe that the Spirit — the same Spirit who we prayed would rest on and dwell in you — will make you this kind of woman too.

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It feels like you come more alive, become more your own little self, with each passing week. It has always seemed fast, but this feels different in ways I can’t explain. I can’t ask you to slow down, but I hope I can so at least I can watch it all happen.

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Happy 11 month birthday, Eva Joy.

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