Sixteen Months (and a day) (ok, several days)

I remember my aunt used to laugh and laugh when her (then) toddler daughter wore a pair of slippers made by her big brother out of duct tape. “She doesn’t even know that’s not normal,” she would cackle. I didn’t understand it then, but now that I have raised my own toddlers, I do see what she meant. It wasn’t the slippers themselves; it’s that toddlers are just so accepting of whatever it is that we do in our daily lives. Oh! they say You wear duct tape slippers? Cool! I want some too!

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Furry green hats are normal? GIMME.

This is precisely the age and stage that Olive is in right now. She sees how we live and she wants to join in. She brushes her teeth (and even fake gags because she hears ME gag when I brush mine, THANKS TO THE PREGNANCY GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING) (I began gagging/barfing while teeth brushing TWO YEARS AGO you guys… what the blue fuck is THAT all about and WHEN DOES IT END), and she brushes her “hair” (don’t tell her she’s bald) saying loudly OUCH! because Marin cries and exclaims when we brush her hair. She dances when we dance and tries to sing when we sing and claps her hands when we cheer and fills in with jibberish if she has something to say but doesn’t know the words. She takes a tissue and tries her damnest to blow her own nose (complete with fake sound effects) and grabs a washcloth to fiercely wash up whatever surface she can reach. When I load dishes she “helps” by putting the silverware in their little boxes and shutting the soap door. She can accurately put just one (of many) loads of dirty laundry from the floor into a basket without mixing the loads. If we talk on the phone, she rushes to get her own and jabbers away, exclaiming BYE! before tossing it aside.

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Sweater pants, you guys. YOU GUYS. SWEATER PANTS.

And this baby? She’s the type of baby that wants NOTHING to do with babyhood. She hates sitting in her high chair (though her hatred is on a temporary hiatus because she now enjoys sitting in her chair and practicing doing the buckle), hates using a sippy cup or baby-sized utensils. She can feed herself with a spoon or fork and drink from a cup without a lid remarkably well, at least compared to my other children at this age. She can climb stairs– up and down–proficiently (we don’t own any baby gates, and she navigates our home well) and most recently learned to climb onto THINGS: stools, our Stokke chair, the couch, etc, and she crows with delight when she achieves a new height. She adores her sisters and watches them carefully, imitating them as much as she’s able, insisting on being included on whatever they are doing, and joining me in scolding them as well.

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Climbed up to swipe an apple slice off of the counter, the little turkey.

She is a communicative baby too, saying lots of words* and doing lots of baby signs**. She has something about her when she looks at you now, like you KNOW someone is in there and has an opinion and is trying her level best to communicate it. She’s learning some animal sounds too, but they all hilariously sound the same. Also, if I tell her a cow says MOOO she smiles and does the “moon” sign. So, ok, still some confusion at times. But! She knows lots of body parts now (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, teeth, belly, hair (ha ha!), finger, toes), even though I don’t recall ever teaching her any of them. (Beware: if you ask her, she make poke YOU in the eyes or nose, so engage at  your own risk.)

She basically spends her whole day trying so hard to be one of us, not the baby, but just part of the family, and it breaks my heart a little at how adorable it is. I don’t remember my others being like this, not in the way she is, and I’m sure it’s a product of living in a household of otherwise fairly self-sufficient humans that drives her desires to be BIG. Recently I think she’s crossed over from always being “the baby” to being a sister, just one of the kids, especially in her interactions with Marin.

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They also squabble now, which is proof they are sisters.

The intensity we saw in her as a baby is still present, but it’s different now. She’s such a sweet tot, with lots of hugs and kisses (ah-BA is the sound she makes when she plants one on you), and such an cheerful yet earnest nature. She very much knows what she wants, but her process of communicating has progressed so much since her scream-her-lungs-out-days of yore. In fact, these days she rarely cries, making it all 550 miles to South Dakota over Christmas without a single whimper (and maybe only 3-4 whimpers on the long return home). She motors around our home- our lives- with her little arms swinging, determined to do whatever is on her mind. But now that she can communicate her needs and wants, she’s quite pleasant most of the time. Snuggly, too.

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Ignore the mess; look at the baby. These are not the droids you are looking for.

Over Christmas, we spent time with Seester and my adorable 11 month old niece, and the babies were so hilarious together. They were delighted to see another little person their same size (despite the 5 month difference, they are the same size, which is a damn shame considering all the hand-me-downs Seester is now going to miss out on). Every morning they had a straight-up REUNION, complete with squealing, hugging, and kissing, that went on for VERY MANY MINUTES. In fact, nearly every time Olive laid eyes on Rose– which was every few minutes– she got excited anew and had to waddle over for more hugs and kisses, to which Rose would dutifully return. It was such fun! Baby homo sapiens in love!

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Why, no, I don’t feel bad for her. I raised twins, FFS.

I miss her infancy at times– or rather, I miss aspects of having an infant in the house– but this age? THIS AGE IS SO GREAT. I know sometimes we are tempted to freeze our children at a certain age (I’ve certainly wished this myself), but the fluidity of her knowledge is part of what makes her so fun to be with, seeing her change and learn right before my eyes. Nearly daily I can think of something new she learned or did, and if that’s not rewarding and wonderful, I don’t know what is.

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Doing her best Pa Ingalls impression. 

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[I may keep adding to these lists for a few days as I think of more words/signs she knows, simply because I will be interested later to look back on the list.]

*Words: MOM (always yelled), Dada! (but she usually calls him mom), Anna! (all children are called this), All da, all da, all da! (all done, all done, all done- always at least 3 times), Hiiii!, Bye! (no more bye-bye, now it’s just the one word), Bu-buey (blueberry), A-nana (banana), Ap-o! (apple), Ni-ni (night-night), de-toe de-toe de-toe (tickle tickle tickle), naz! (nose), uh-oh, no-no!, shhhh, YAY!, Elmo (don’t ask), Ga-ma/Ga-pa (interchangeable for grandma/grandpa), EMMMMS!!!!! (M&Ms. Thank you Christmas.), ouch,

**Baby signs: milk, more, help, please, thank you, yes, no (the earnest nodding and shaking head KILL ME), apple, banana, sad, brush teeth, bath (she also does the bath sign for bathroom, which I think is clever), moon, swing, water, eat, puppy, kitty, up, wash hands, ceiling fan (what can I say, kid is weird), change diaper, baby, hot (means both hot and hot coffee, as far as I can tell), bye-bye, hat, fish, bunny, phone, shoes, gentle, book