Today is your first birthday.
So much has happened this year, but as I think about the day you were born, as I remember holding your squishy warm body wrapped tight in the hospital blanket,
I can't believe that was only a year ago.
And yet, when I think about how much I love you, Ellie-girl, I can't believe I only met you a year ago.
This last month you've started talking. First it was "Hi!" with the accompanying wave--you'd say "hi" to anyone and anything--Nicholas when he'd wake up, Mama as I'd come into your room, and the flock of ducks that would walk past us at Grandma's house. Then came "mama" and "dada." "Uh-oh" and "no."
And the Sunday I baked cookies and gave you a taste you pointed emphatically with the most adorably sweet "More!"
I gave you almost three cookies that night, nibble by nibble, because I just couldn't resist your darling little voice saying "more?!"
When we tell you that it is time to take a bath, you get a little wiggle and climb up those stairs as fast as you can. You splash and splash and splash the entire bath, not even caring when the water gets in your eyes or mouth or nose. We have to spread out towels across the floor and our laps to try and keep the rest of us dry while you bathe.
And after your bath, you are a wild thing, grunting and wiggling and screeching as I try to put on your diaper and pajamas. One night after bath you were so wired that you actually let go of my knees and took ten steps across the room, then sat down as if nothing happened.
You still love to eat, but you are definitely getting more opinionated about it. You'll eat anything, as long as I give it to you in the right order. If I give you cottage cheese or bread before your veggies and meat, you'll decide you are only going to eat cottage cheese, and you'll point to the kitchen and say "more?" until we either get you more cottage cheese or we end the meal.
You are still a determined soul; I doubt that is ever going to change. And you are a fast learner. You watch us and you pick up on things I never thought you even noticed. The other day I found you sitting in the shoe closet, trying ever so hard to put my shoes on your feet.
You try to put the bows back in your hair when they fall out. You fold your hands when we say it is time to pray, and then applaud yourself through the whole prayer with a big proud smile.
At Church a few weeks ago you leaned in and gave me one of the biggest sloppiest loudest open-mouthed kisses right on my cheek. The ladies behind us giggled, so you did it three more times.
I sat next to you on the stairs one afternoon, and I tried to show you how to go down the stairs backwards, safely, but you weren't too interested (or so I thought), and we moved on to other things. A couple of days later, you went down the stairs, backwards, safely, all on your own, just like that.
I expect you'll learn to walk like that too--we've done a little bit of practicing here and there, but I'm guessing that one day you'll just let go and walk, all over, all the time. Just like that. Because that's how you do things.
You've figured out that having a big brother has its ups and downs. You two can play together, laughing and laughing, but if there's a toy involved, you both want the exact toy that is in the other childs' hands. And when Nicholas takes your toys, instead of fighting back, you tip your head back and wail, big tears streaming down your face.
When you hear Nicholas's voice in the mornings, though, your eyes pop open and you sit straight up, leaning around me on the bed to try and see him, waving "Hi!" with all your might.
You've stopped nursing completely now. Little by little you decided it just wasn't your thing anymore. And when I tried to feed you in the early morning last Monday, you just weren't satisfied until I got you a bottle instead. So we're done, and I'm missing it, but I'm going to need to get used to you making your own decisions about a lot of things. You have a mind of your own and you know what you want, Ellie-girl.
I love to see how you are learning and becoming a little person more each day. You communicate with us, showing us things you find, smiling proudly with your little lips pursed. You reach out and wiggle your fingers when you want something. You snuggle up to us with a sweet little sigh that means "I love you." You walk around the house hour after hour after hour, pushing the shopping cart or the wheely bee, turning and backing up and acting like you're just one of the big people.
I love you ever so much my sweet Ellie. You're growing too fast, but I'm going to squeeze you close and kiss your cheeks and wash the blueberry juice off your fingers and read you books as long and as often as I can.
You bring us joy, you make our lives sweeter, and we can't remember what we ever did without you. I'm glad you're ours, Ellie.