Happy birthday, sweet one!

Can it really have been a year ago that I pushed little Maddi, puffy, purple and cone headed, into this world? Sometimes it seems like such a short time since our wee one joined us, and sometimes (such as when she decides she’s had it with napping) it seems forever.

Yes, exactly a year ago I was pushing and screaming and grousing about Maddi’s “stupid melon head” — which of course has rounded out into a very nice shape by now.

In the past year, she’s gained some 14 pounds and nearly 10 inches in height, begun eating a few dozen different foods, has gone from crawling to climbing to cruising to standing, and says 30 words and repeats many others with prompting. This month, she learned to stack blocks, “bounce” the ball, play peek-a-boo with her hands if a towel’s not available, and call the cat by making kissing sounds with her lips. She’s learned the meaning of the word “gentle” and initiates applause if she thinks she’s done something praiseworthy. And she’s working on a bicuspid, to boot!

Tonight, Maddi woke up crying at 11:30, and as I snuggled the little one back to sleep, I realized that exactly a year previous, I was enjoying my long-awaited epidural and, unbeknownst to me, a mere 30 minutes away from the pushing stage. Ninety-five percent of me was anxious to see at long last the baby I’d carried for so long. The other five percent was trepidatious, sensing that inside me kicked a restless little maniac who would doubtless cause many sleepless nights for decades to come. And sure enough, as predicted by her in-utero behavior, Maddi is a restless little maniac who thwarts baby-proofing efforts and nap schedules, and whose destructive powers sometimes tempt me to call FEMA and ask for some relief workers.

However, she’s our maniac, and what a sweet, intelligent and friendly little maniac she is. This week, she began autonomously saying “cheese” (it was only a matter of time!) and “backpack” (in reference to the beloved purple carrier in which she gleefully rides while I do housework) for a nice, round 30 words by age 1. “Backpack,” being a rather difficult word for a baby, was initially pronounced “dackpack” but is now uttered in a more recognizable form. She also says “baseball” and “Kaija” on command (although the former sounds like “ba-ball” and the latter like “tie”). She doesn’t associate those words with anything yet, so we’re not counting them as they are just parroting. It is nice that she’s making an effort, though! One thing she does say is “Bye-bye, baff.” Maddi has bid her bath adieu every night for the past week or so as I carry her from the bathroom. She also says, “Bye-bye, Dada,” “Bye-bye, cat” and “Bye-bye, high-tcha” when prompted. Ever the sport, she tries to repeat, “Bye-bye, baby,” when we leave a mirror, but it comes out sounding like “Bah-bah, bah-bah.” Quite the tongue-twister.

Maddi is working on still more short sentences. Not only has she said things that sound like “Go see Daddy” when clamoring to open her bedroom door and go downstairs, but today she grabbed her favorite book from me as I was reading aloud to her and said what sounded an awful lot like “I gonna wee.”

Maddi still has yet to take her first official steps, but it’s just a matter of time. She walks very proficiently while barely holding onto furniture or a finger. Like Dumbo with his feather, Maddi just needs to know she has something to hold onto to “help” her walk. But very soon, I suspect she’ll figure out she could walk all along.

This month, Maddi began eating turkey stuffing and tomatoes and tomorrow will be reintroduced — again — to rice. I’m sure we introduced some other food but I can’t for the life of me remember what they were. She eats so many things now!

Truly entering her toddler years, Maddi now gets down on the floor after bedtime and nap time and help retrieve her pacifier from wherever she chucked it while in her crib. This began as crazy Mommy talking to herself, asking where Maddi’s suckie could possibly be. Maddi looked at me and then darted under the glider, retrieving her pacifier in two seconds. Now, whether it’s near the bed, under the bed or across the room, Maddi enjoys showing me where her suckie went. She also drops dirty clothes in the hamper upon request, although she often feels instant remorse. Lately, she’s also begun to realize that it’s good manners to play with only ONE towel or washcloth while Mommy is folding laundry, rather than running amok through the just-folded sleepers. I plan to enjoy these helpful years while I can!

On days like today, when she helps with laundry and finding her pacifier and says “Bye-bye” to just about everything in the house, it’s mind boggling to think that just a year ago, I was handed a tiny, kittenish newborn with a puffy purple face and nothing on her agenda but eating, pooping, sleeping and having colic fits. Tomorrow, we’ll have nearly a dozen babies running around the house, eating allergen-free cake, frolicking in the play yard and opening loot bags filled with stuffed puppies and Mum-Mum crackers — a scenario I could never have imagined orchestrating a year ago when my only thoughts revolved around how cute this new baby was and when I could get a shower and pee. (OK, my thoughts still revolve around all three of those things, but I’m now cleared to go to the gym and do the latter two!)

Anyway, happy birthday, Maddi! It’s been the most wonderful year ever.

Coming soon: Pictures of the birthday girl during what will be either the best or most awful birthday party ever, depending on how her friends from playgroup hold up!

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