We made it to one year! (a while ago)

Dear Little Elephant,

On June 15th you turned one. Beforehand and since, I have been composing a letter in my head to you. But, I have failed to put anything on paper. There is so much I want to tell you about yourself as a little girl and all the joy you have brought into my life. There is so much I want to remember about your growing, your interacting with your family, your trips, your happiness, and your overcoming challenges. The months surrounding your 1st birthday were so full that at times they feel like a blur.

At the end of April, we flew from Kazakhstan to DC where we spent a week. Then we went to Chile for three weeks to be with that side of the family. We returned to DC for a week with the cousins. Then we flew to Wisconsin to the other grandparents’ house. We spent 4 days there before driving to St. Louis for a long weekend. We returned for a month in Milwaukee before flying to our new home in Tirana. You are a trooper!

I love watching you grow; seeing your personality show itself; watching as you communicate effectively with only three words (“mama”, “dada”, and “bye”); listening to you sing to yourself; cuddling with you— when you slow down long enough to let me.

You are very opinionated and smart. You are stubborn— you get this from both of us; I guess it was inevitable. You are learning that sometimes manipulation and love is the way to get what you want, not just brute force and shrill shrieks.

Your voice can scream octaves so loud, we think some day you will shatter glass.

You are willing to try anything and have an adventurous spirit, but at the same time you are cautious. You will take on obstacle courses, but beforehand, study them, silently weighing your options, thinking it through, furrowing your brow. Once you are ready, you throw yourself head first into action, come what may.

You like to go, go, go. Resisting sleep in any way possible.

You want to be a big girl and do what the adults do. This includes in eating. You love to feed yourself. When we were having lamb and I was cutting up pieces for you, you watched as I dipped mine in mint jelly. You refused to eat any more, loudly complaining, until I dipped yours in mint jelly too. There is almost no food you dislike. Despite being in the 7th percentile for weight, you eat all day, nonstop, and you never spit up or otherwise lose your lunch.

You are learning to throw food to the dog. And to scold her when she is bad. You point the way for her back to her house when she is punished. But you love her fiercely.

You want to be outside and with people. While you still like people over toys, you are showing more interest in things. Especially in new things.

The coffee grinder no longer scares you with its sound.

Several times you have decided it was time to change your diaper. You went and found a new one, or wipes, and brought them to Grandpa or Dada and then led them to the changing table. I can only hope this means that we can start potty training on the earlier side.

We celebrated your birthday repeatedly. In DC, your Aunt made you a carrot cake (her first) and gave you a toy, pink, bilingual cell phone (your favorite of the presents). You put your hand in the cake and got to try both cake and frosting. In Chile, you were showered by presents. You tried all kinds of new food. In Wisconsin, you had fun ripping paper off of gifts multiple times. We took you out for Indian food and home for homemade rhubarb pie. In St. Louis, you got a toy microphone, which you promptly broke; you still play with it though because your Grandpa put it back together with duct tape.

Thank you for your first year; I can’t wait for what is to come.

Love always, no matter what,

Mama

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