Bigger and better

In the three weeks since she turned one, Maddi has grown — right in front of our eyes — from a baby into a little girl. She plays games, performs and has strung together yet more short sentences. She’s found new ways to get into mischief and knows the names of more of her relatives. She knows what is and isn’t allowed (whether she chooses to ignore the rules or not). Sometimes I can’t help but look at this toddler and wonder “What did she do with my baby girl?”

Maddi’s been quite a big girl in many ways for awhile, but never quite enough to distract you from the fact that she was just a wee, roly-poly baby thing. She’s always had a big vocabulary, but more often than not, she’s remained content to whine, cry or point rather than verbalize her desires. Iinstead she chose mostly to speak when she thought no one could hear, when she was excited, or when she was desperate to convey a point. She was steady on her feet, but only stood erect with the assurance of something solid to hold onto. She enjoyed games, songs and books, but was mostly content to watch rather than participate.

Since about her first birthday, Maddi has begun humming along with songs, clapping her hands during pat-a-cake, flinging her legs apart when the “doors on the bus go open and shut,” and insisting on lifting the flaps herself when we read “Where is Baby’s Belly Button?” She’s also moved from playing peek-a-boo with blankets, dust ruffles and tea towels to using her hands in big, dramatic gestures during her favorite game. And last week when I sang “Roly Poly” to her in the car, she moved her hands “up, up, up” and “down, down, down” even though she hadn’t heard the song in a month and hadn’t done the arm motions by herself ever. It almost brings tears to my eyes when I realize what a big girl we have on our hands.

Two of her favorite birthday presents were a little car babies can either ride or push, and a Hasbro Busy Ball Popper. Her walking skills have increased tremendously since she spends hours a day pushing that little car all over the upstairs, and we suspect she will work up the courage to walk unassisted just about any day now. The ball popper, on the other hand, has turned her into an even bigger girl — one with a favorite (and appropriately girlie) color. For some reason, although there are five different-colored balls in the ball popper, our wee angel has taken a particular liking to the purple ball. She rescues it from the popper as soon as she can get her little mitts on it, and then proceeds to gaze at it, slobber on it, and crawl all around the house, adjusting her gait to account for the fact that she has that beloved ball in one hand. And if Daddy doesn’t come running when she calls from the top of the stairs, she drops her prized toy down from between the banister rails as a sort of ultimate sacrifice. When Chris isn’t home to retrieve it, she looks at me with big blue eyes, plaintively asking, “Mama, ball?”

Her purple ball is so beloved that she routinely whispers a happy greeting of “puh-pull ball” as she grabs it each time I plop her down to play. She has also begun saying “ball pa-puh” while she stands transfixed in front of the ball popper. She is quite the little scientist, trying to stuff into the popper everything from her Little People baby (it fit) to her Roll-Arounds (they didn’t quite) to her big, plastic toy cars (they don’t even come close). And it’s not just the ball popper. A few weeks ago, she was standing at the central vacuum outlet (which Chris had to tape over after repeat offenses) trying to pry the circular outlet open, purple ball in one hand, and asked me, “Ball?”

I wasn’t sure that she knew what she was saying when she said “purple ball,” but recently when Maddi grabs her beloved nasal aspirator — which (coincidentally or not?) happens to be a bright shade of grape — she has whispered “puh-pull” to herself. Still not much concept of yellow, green, red or blue, but she’s got purple down!

In addition to her love of the purple ball, balls in general, the color purple, and things into which balls can be dropped, Maddi also loves people. And after a long spell of only knowing the names of three people (Mama, Dada and Nana), she finally knows the names of six people. This past week, she started saying “Poppa” very quietly and “Becca” in a regular voice (but pronounced “Bebba”). And the week before, she began working on “Kaija,” which so far most resembles “Tie.” Not one to forget her oldest friends, in addition to making enticing kissy noises very proficiently, she also now says “Hee, kikky” (“here, kitty”). And in true big-girl form, she has become so gentle recently that Deva now snuggles her head up under Maddi’s chubby little hand for more of that good petting!

While Maddi doesn’t walk on her own — not even a bit — she does run when you let her hold your fingers and when she’s pushing her little car around. She can crouch from standing and then stand up again, toy in hand, without holding onto a thing. She just refuses to walk, that’s all. However, she will stand in the middle of the room and drink milk from her sippy cup, tipping the last drops from her mouth with head craned, so we know she doesn’t have a problem with balance. Our little baby, who as you may recall did quite the elaborate and lengthy dance routines in utero, will even “dance” in place now when asked. She can also play “Ring Around the Rosie” if you slow the pace up just a tad.

She’s also expressing interest in the potty. Since she’s scaled back to 0-1 naps daily, I’ve given up on trying to pee during her naptimes, so I just tell her Mommy’s going peepee in the potty. She races into the bathroom at full speed, giggling maniacally, and stands with her hands on the edge of her bath seat, which sits on the floor in front of the toilet. She is very interested in the whole process and helps me applaud myself afterward, although so far she’s shown no interest in ever using the potty herself and merely looks at me as if I’m crazy when I tell her she will use the potty when she’s 2. But soon … soon!

And finally, in the weeks since Maddi turned one, we have introduced all kinds of yummy things — fruit sorbet, tomato sauce, and whole milk — all with no consequences. The only thing that has broken the baby out is, yet again, rice. Both on her birthday (from the cake) and this past Tuesday (from stealing a cracker in playgroup) poor little Maddi has gotten a rash from this seemingly innocuous grain, which continues to be her one and only food sensitivity.

Coming soon: Pics of our 1-year-old girl enjoying her toddlerhood!

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