About a week after you were born, my parents drove up from North Carolina to meet you. Though I’d wanted them to hold off for a little longer, my mom was about to start cancer treatments again, and so there was no keeping her away while she was up for the trip. She was wild about you, of course, holding you and talking to you. But my favorite moment of the whole trip came when Joe’s parents came with dinner for all of us from a nearby Panera. We all sat around our dining room table – the first meal we ever actually ate in that room – while you were in a bouncy seat nearby. A song that Joe’s parents had sung to Lily came up in conversation, because Joe and I had never heard of it before, and my parents said they knew it, too. And then, spontaneously, my mother and Joe’s parents all began to sing “Hi Lili, Hi Lili, Hi Lo” to you. I fought back tears, and I saw my father taking off his glasses to wipe his own eyes. It was one of the most moving little moments I’ve ever experienced. To have the people who raised your father and me welcoming you into the world together in this way was something I’ll never, ever forget.
Swaddling really worked for you. We had you swaddled within an inch of your life for several months after you were born.
The thing that soothed you more than anything as a newborn was a sling we carried you in while walking around. It was black, and you were snugged up in it like you were back in the womb. Whenever we just couldn’t take it anymore, one of us put you in that sling and went for a walk. In fact, the day I first truly felt like motherhood had really hit me was when I’d taken you for a walk and then carefully stood over the trashcan, trying to hurriedly eat a sandwich without waking you or getting crumbs on you. Good times.
Very early on, Joe placed you on his shoulders when you got upset, and more often than not, this would make you stop crying. We’re still puzzled as to why.
Another thing that often soothed you was being held up high on your tummy, as if you were flying. We called you “flying baby” quite a bit, actually – along with “crazy baby,” Lily-bird, and Lily-bug. The last one has stuck the longest.
In July of ’08, when you were only two months old, we walked you around the Farmington Founders Festival and bumped into a barbershop quartet (weird, I know, but not so much during this annual event). We asked them to sing “Lida Rose,” from “The Music Man,” to you, since we sang it to you often, and they did, standing on the sidewalk of Grand River. I love this memory.
When you were only a few months old, you’d be crying inconsolably and we’d put Fall Out Boy on the stereo. You were either stunned into silence by the music or a little rock fan from the get-go.
Besides “hi” and “bye,” your first word was “cheese.” I don’t yet know what that says about you, or your parents.
At your first birthday party, you only allowed yourself to be pushed around in a little car for a while before insisting on being the one pushing. Your cousin Abby – only 13 days your junior – happily rode in the car while you pushed, holding your father’s hand (since you’d only taken your first steps a week before).
You started refusing to get into a stroller shortly after you started walking. In some way, this was not surprising, given your strong-willed little ways, but it makes things logistically difficult, to say the least.
In late July 2009, I did my first mini-triathlon, and later that day, you wanted to bring a stick you’d been playing with outside to the bath with you. (You were going through a stick phase at the time.) Weirdly, I remember more about that bath than about the triathlon, though I’d spent weeks preparing for it. Maybe it’s because your stick fetish cracked us up after a long day.
Your most (over)used word in the summer of ’09? “Up.” As in, up out of this high chair, up out of this car seat, up on our shoulders, etc.
You LOVE the library down the street (coloring, playing with puppets, hugging the big stuffed bear, reading board books, playing with Legos, looking at kids’ magazines, etc.). For a time, you cried and screamed every time we had to leave – which made going a double-edged sword; so happy while there, so miserable afterward.
You’re 18 months old now, and for the last several months, this is pretty much your daily diet, without much deviation: banana, yogurt, pancake (if left over from the weekend), mac and cheese, watermelon/strawberries/pears, a roll (sometimes), carrots or sweet potatoes in babyfood form (only veggies you’ll regularly eat besides an occasional cucumber slice), graham crackers, applesauce or apples. Sometimes, you’ll try rice or hummus and be a little interested, but that’s about it. Each time we give you a little chicken, you spit it out, so so far, no meat, except some fake bacon.
Early on, you were obsessed with shoes – and particularly liked putting your feet in Mommy or Daddy’s shoes and trying to walk around – and when it got cold, we all had to have hats, “mits,” and coats, or you’d get upset. You were very much into the ritual involved in preparing to go outside.
In the late summer of ’09, you made a beeline across the library one day saying something that sounded like “or-see.” I didn’t understand, but you walked toward, and lifted up, an issue of Click Magazine that had a horse on the cover. “Oh, horsey!” I said, and that was the day your obsession with horses – which meanders into zebras as well – was established. Since then, you have a rocking horse (that you’re scared of when it makes noise, but otherwise fond of petting), a stable of tiny horses, and two movable plastic horses we got you in Asheville at a Cracker Barrel.
While acquiring an early vocabulary, something you’d utter repeatedly was “duckle duckle duckle” – while playing with something or walking around.
At 19 months, you fell in love with the elevator at the library, including pushing its buttons. What’s hilarious is that you’d get out of the elevator and push the button, but you wanted to see the door close and open again, so Joe had told you “Wait.” Consequently, you now always point at the button when you get out and say, in your little voice, “Wait.”
In early spring of ’10, Joe rode the bike, with you in the trailer, to Panera. You ate dinner, including a little bit of cookie for dessert, but after you pronounced you were done, Joe loaded you back into the trailer. When he arrived home, he found that you had dug out the leftover, big cookie and eaten more than half of it on the ride home, so chocolate was smeared all over your face.
May 2010, you became aware, and quite enamored with, your shadow. While walking to daycare, you tried to watch it, and I had a hard time convincing you to go inside and stay, because you didn’t want to lose your shadow.
You made the transition into a preschool room early in 2011. You’d been reluctant at first, but then pre-schoolers paraded through your room for Chinese New Year. You said you wanted to join the parade, and you were pretty much in from then on.
As your third birthday was coming up, I asked which of your friends from pre-school you wanted to be invited, and you answered “Kayla (Eaton), Aiden (Menning), and Zack (Burns-Pavlik).” We had a big open house kind of party, during which you and Kayla giggled and played in your toddler bed; you and Aiden repeatedly ran toward Aiden’s Mommy, who would twirl you around; you had a chocolate cake with a kitty on it (your request); and Zach, who came late, played dress-up with you, with your new Disney princess costumes, and you giggled and ran around while Zach’s parents and Joe and I sat out on the porch and relaxed. A nice day.
While I was pregnant, we asked you what you’d like to name your brother or sister. The answer? “Mocassin Kelly.” You switched to “Dora” later, but we liked your first choice best.
Shortly after Neve came home from the hospital, you started asking to go out and see the moon before bed. One time, I toted you outside to do just that, and while carrying you back to the house, walking on the driveway, you hugged me and said, “I’m so glad you’re here, Mommy.” I said, “I’m glad you’re here too, kiddo. Believe me.”
At 3, you came home from preschool and said you couldn’t do something we asked you to do because you were “full of hands.” After taking a moment to translate, Joe and I figured out that you were saying that your hands are full.
The week after Labor Day, 2011, you had your first dance class – a 45 minute ballet/tap combo class. On that day, you received the new ballet shoes, tap shoes, tights, leotard, and dance bag that we ordered as a package, and when we got home, the tap shoes went right back onto your feet, and you danced around the kitchen for a good while. Mostly, you stood in front of the over, so you could see yourself in the reflection, and you often looked at the shoes themselves, so in awe and excited were you. Here’s a video taken that evening (we sent it out to all in our immediate family, and I posted it on Facebook):