Dear sweet Ursula,
You are one.
Just days before this milestone, you got an ear infection. And then you got a rash from the antibiotic. And diarrhea. We spent a few days in extra-cuddles mode. It was a sweet reminder to your mama that you’re still my baby, even though you’re quickly becoming an independent little girl, with strong opinions, specific interests, and a very fast crawl with impressive form. (Are there crawl-sprint races? I’m sure you’d win.)
But on your actual birthday, as the meds kicked in, you were ready to play again.
And on the day of your birthday party — an indoor teddy bear picnic — a few days later, you were your usual sweet self, engaging with each of your guests as hosts should do.
Other party themes we considered:
- recycling — you love playing with paper and cardboard and bottles
- books — because you read them/stand on them all day long
- accessories — you try to steal our scarves, watches, belts and wallets
A teddy bear picnic seemed to be the best option as, A, I wanted to make the house look pretty, not like an overflowing blue bin, B, every day is book day here, and, C, we can’t afford to put watches in the loot bags.
Your dad made the cake. I hope you appreciate his culinary gifts, child. Stick with him and your belly will always be a happy one. (He went with an almond-orange cake with buttercream frosting. Julia Child. When you’re older, I’m sure he’ll let you do the cake-choosing.)
We ate finger sandwiches cut into teddy-bear shapes. Little omelets. Mini muffins. Fruits and veggies. Cookies. We drank lots of water — your non-milk drink of choice — and a little wine. (Only 18 years until you can have some!)
I don’t know if you know this, but you gave each of your little guests a handmade teddy bear, made with scraps from Mommy’s stash. One cousin has a teddy bear made from the same fabric as the dress you wore that day.
Did I mention that I made your dress? And mine?
And did you notice that you sat in strawberries at lunch?
You’re a messy eater, Sully Bear. You like to bring your knee up to your chest while you eat, rubbing your hands on your pants between bites. And then you put your hands down, almost sitting on them, stashing food around your bum.
I scrub a lot. A LOT.
You’re still nursing, probably part of the reason why food has yet to be a big deal in your life. Now that you’ve mastered the sign for “milk,” you ask for it multiple times a day.
You like solids, but you’re not a huge eater.
You like carbs. As do we all, child.
You also like roasted veggies and beef brisket. And eggs and avocado. And peas. And all the fruit. And spoons.
When you were sick, I let you nurse whenever you wanted to. Now I’m trying to get back on a schedule. Mama’s gonna have to start working again soon, little one. And you will need to be daytime-weaned, at least. But for now, I love it. I love that quiet time together. The calm time. I love it when you doze off in my arms, a little milk-drunk, with beads of sweat on your nose.
You would risk your life just to reach a book.
You are learning to roll a ball across the floor.
You love banging on the piano. Sometimes even standing on it, Little Richard-style. (Rules don’t stop you.)
You like music. You like listening to it, watching others perform, and you like making it yourself.
(I could probably record an album of songs we’ve/I’ve written for you over this last year, including instant classics like “My Baby Girl Likes Books,” “We Can’t Spell Ursula Without U,” You Gotta Bend Your Elbow If You Want To Wear A Shirt,” and “Sully’s Rap.”)
When I ask you if you can say “Mama,” you promptly reply with “Dada.”
Dada is your favourite. Sometimes you cry when he leaves for work. When he showers, you sit by the bathroom door, waiting for him.
You can stand on your own, but, to you, it’s not that big of a deal. You’ll humour us and walk while holding our hands, but crawling is much more efficient. (I assume that you’ll just start walking on your own one day without much parental intervention. You seem to figure everything out on your own and in your own timing.)
Your laugh is my favourite sound in the whole world. You must know this, as you dole out your guffaws strategically. None of your grandparents have heard you laugh yet. Around other people, you’re generally happy but quiet. Around your parents, you babble and laugh more freely.
What made you laugh last week: I dropped a pea. I crawled under the couch to find a toy. I made my bed. (Essentially, Mommy doing manual labour is hilarious.)
You like watching dogs. You cry when they bark.
When it’s time to go outside, you know where you last saw your shoes and will bring them to me.
You hate the mall. Never change.
I love the way you scrunch up your nose and show off your new teeth. The way you play peekaboo with anything that will cover your eyes. The way you toss fabric over your shoulder as if it’s a scarf. The way you’ve altered the sign language I taught you to make it your own. The way you nap on your face, your bum in the air, without a care in the world.
It’s been a very short, very long, very exhausting and completely wonderful year.
We’re so thankful you’re ours, little one.
We love you forever.