On Saturday our baby Meera turned 18 months old. I know that all parents say it, but when you're in it you really feel it (or, at least we do)-- where does the time go? How can it be that one year ago this tiny baby bundle was still nursing and now she sometimes pushes away bottles to have her milk, instead, in her "kitty cup" (her plastic sippy cup that has pink cats on it)?! Meera Grace continues to be an amazingly wondrous blessing in our life. She is, for better or for worse, quite often, the center of our universe. This baby girl (we refuse to call her anything other than 'baby,' regardless of her official 'toddler' status) is absolutely loved and adored by four people in this world who think she is the sweetest thing that ever lived. And she, in return, fills us up with love, covers us with drooly kisses, gives us mega-watt-smiles, and delights us almost non-stop. From Day One Meera has been an easy, mellow, 'Angel Baby.' She's so easy-going, and so good, that we're almost embarrassed to talk much about it. She's the kind of baby that is easy to brag about and hard to believe is for real (unless you witness her in person). She continues to be a true blue 'Angel Baby' with very few exceptions. Even as we enter full-fledged toddler-hood, and discover some new dimensions of our Little Miss (her ability to throw some pretty big-time tantrums, for example, or her new-found love of throwing food at the table), she still is almost all sweet and very little sour. She is the kind of baby that people hope for (and that we didn't even dare wish for). She is the kind of baby that you wouldn't believe possible (especially if you had previously had two highly spirited babies), unless you see it to believe it. She is the kind of baby that makes you (or at least us) wish she'd never turn a day older. She is perfect just as she is. And always has been. And we gaze at her with wonder with how we could have gotten so lucky?
Meera is talking up a storm! All day long, hundreds of times every day, she says, "What's that?!" Other things she says include: Breakfast time! Bath time! Supper time! Hi Kitty! Bye Bye! Get Down Cooper! All done bottle! Bad! Hi! Baby. Bunny. Brothers. Mama. Papi. --- and her favorite... "Balloon!!!" (which includes any/all types of balloons, and any/all water towers she sees as we drive on the highway). She makes animal sounds (quack, moo, woof, tweet tweet), and she identifies body parts (says, "eye" with perfect clarity and is starting to say the words hair, ear, mouth, nose). She says, "vroom!" and points to the sky when there is an airplane overhead. In sign language she says "please" and "thank you" and "more" and "all done." She shakes her head, wagging her pointer finger back and forth, and says, "NO!" when she doesn't want something. She also, very, very, often, says something that sounds like "Ania" which translates, very directly, in no uncertain terms, to "I WANT IT!" Meera also loves to sing. She has many songs in her repertoire. All of them are sung so that the tune is very clear and recognizable to anyone who hears it-- these include Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star; Happy Birthday To You; This Land is Your Land. She also chants "Let's Go Lehigh!" and "Let's Go Red Sox, Red Sox Let's Go" complete with clapping and/or stomping at the right times.
Meera still sleeps like a champ. 6:30ish p.m. to 6:30ish a.m. very consistently. She still wakes once in the night demanding a bottle (we've been giving her 2 ounces of milk in the night for months now, but we've determined to end that at 18 months-- Project End-the-Night-Feedings is now officially underway). She takes a 2-3 hour nap (sometimes longer) each morning. She goes to sleep easily on her own. And she wakes up happy and chatty almost always. The exception to these sleeping patterns is during travel. Meera is a great traveler in terms of being happy to go with the flow doing anything/everything... however, she is a terrible sleeper when we're not at home. This throws a serious wrench into the J-M-family-traveling-adventures, but we do our best to make do. And given how little hassle this girl gives us, we figure it is the least we can do to put up with her travel-sleeping-problems.
Meera's current favorite foods-- Fruit of all kinds (especially kiwi, grapes, oranges, bananas, and any kind of berry); pasta of any kind (particularly tortellini) with any kind of sauce or with no sauce at all; Yo Baby yogurt smoothies; raw veggies (especially cucumbers, red peppers, celery); cheese (the sharper the better, and she loves parmesan); eggs-- over easy; fish (any kind, she loves it, prepared pretty much any way possible); anything salty (especially pretzels, popcorn, salted nuts, crackers, etc.).
Meera is a real girlie girl, who --continuing on with the tradition that her brothers have already established-- constantly makes us question everything we ever thought we knew about gender. She loves frill and fancy, despite our best efforts to raise her as gender-neutral as possible. She prefers dresses and pink, despite all the hand-me-downs from her brothers. She chooses stuffed animals over trucks every time. And she already shows more interest in crayons than both of her brothers combined ever have. She is a girl who still loves her necklaces with a passion. Anything that can be a necklace (or a bracelet) is one. And she's wearing at least one at all times. She loves shoes and boots and hats and scarves. Unlike her brothers (who, to this day have never once cared a bit about any item of clothing on their body and will wear anything I lay out for them), Meera has very strong ideas about what she wants to wear (and will wear) and what she doesn't want to wear (and won't wear). She lets these ideas be known right up-front each morning when we get her dressed. And she flat-out refuses to wear certain things. This is a whole new mysterious world for the J-Ms to navigate. She loves baby dolls. And she loves her "kitty" (a stuffed toy that she carries around everywhere --including, whenever she can manage to get away with it, in the bath). She plays quietly by herself for long stretches of time. She feeds her baby dolls and her kitty, she pushes them around in a toy stroller, and she spends much of her day doodling around finding things of interest to play with. She loves books. And most of all, she loves her brothers.
Meera has a special connection to Kyle and Owen. The three of them seem, at least to me, tighter than the average young sibling set. These three are lovey-dovey most of the day on most days. Lots of hugs and kisses and giggles and on-going-games. K & O continue to be the quintessential adoring big brothers. And Meera looks up at them with starry eyes. I know it sounds too good to be true. But believe me, for now, it is what it is. It is really a delight to witness each day.
Meera also has a special connection to Margie, who is her number 3 go-to adult (after Mommy and Papi, of course). Although lately she cries when I leave for work, she is still happy to hug and kiss Margie each morning when she arrives before I leave. Margie is the perfect nanny for Meera, and we are so grateful that we are able to give this childcare arrangement to our daughter. While Kyle and Owen genuinely enjoyed the stimulation of daycare when they were little, that kind of environment would not have been right for our gentle-spirited and quiet-natured and home-loving Meera. She goes on long walks in the stroller with Margie. She spends hours toddling around the yard with her. She plays quietly while Margie folds laundry. And she gets the amazing benefit of a bilingual (a lot of Spanish with Margie) immersion into language development. Most importantly, she has another secure grown-up in her life who loves her and adores her beyond belief. We could not be happier with Margie, and neither could Meera.
Big accomplishments of late and/or things of note, for Miss Meera Grace, include: finally, at age 17.5 months, learning to crawl!!!!! Refusal to sit in either her highchair or her 'hook on chair' at the table (and insistence on sitting in a 'real chair' -- luckily we have K & O's hand-me-down toddler chairs on hand). Pointing to numerous various objects in books when we name them for her (i.e., apple, tree, house, sky, etc., etc., etc.). Understanding pretty much all that is said to her or around her. Pushing and pulling objects of all varieties. Following simple commands ("put this in the trash," "put the toys back in the basket," "open the door," etc.). Feeding herself without any help using spoon and/or fork. Mimicking pretty much anything and everything that she sees Kyle and Owen do.
Meera Grace is 18 months old. We are grateful for each and every single day that she graces us with her gentle spirit and sweet soul. We love this baby girl like there is no tomorrow.