Trying not to forget...
She tickles everyone these days, crunching her little fingers in other kids faces and making a tsk tsk sound, all while looking like she is being tickled herself. When she doesn't get a laugh out of her tickle targets, she fake laughs on her own and then walks away cheerfully. Last night at the park, she missed a few tickles under the chin and wiggled her fingers straight into the eyes of a few toddlers. When one of them cried a little, she looked at me quizzically as if to say, "they don't really get it, do they dad?"
Our babycenter update yesterday mentioned this: "The challenge for toddlers is not understanding speech, but coordinating their lips and tongue and breath well enough to make themselves understandable." I have a new appreciation for her words now, which on any given day include some or all of the following: car, shoe, dada, mama, wawa, dog, go, ba nana (two words for her), cracker, ba bye, tee (as in television), bubble, hair, eyes, nose, teeth, mow (mouth), cheese, ball, Ieey (Eisley) and her new word that she is in the process of mastering: squirrel (which sounds like qua?, as if she's asking a question).
The inside of our Element has turned into a playground of late. Maybe it's the tinted windows or the moon roof or the ample cargo space (or maybe that's just what I like), but for whatever reason she loves climbing and roaming around the Element after a long drive. She'll pick food out of the cracks of her car seat and then stumble into the front where she steers and shifts and cranks up NPR without much difficulty.
There is a moment that happens at least once a day and it's my absolute hands down favorite part of the day. It's the moment when our little family crosses paths somewhere in the hallway or dining room, with all of us going somewhere but not to each other. Kari will be headed towards the kitchen, I'll be headed to the office and then there is Stella who is walking from her bedroom to who knows where in the house. She always has this interesting purposeful look in her eyes as if what she is about to do was her decision alone and she doesn't need us for any part of it. Sometimes I'll stop, turn and follow her secretly to see what was on her mind. It's usually to drop off something in the living room that she found in her bedroom, like a ball or some paper clips, which she found yesterday. It's only for a moment, that my little child is suddenly on her own and doesn't need us for something, but I always get this rush of contentment and a wonderful dose of reality. It's not just Kari and I, or Kari and I and our little baby anymore. It's US. We are a family.
[Thanks to Mel B. for the brilliant pictures!]