Monday, November 19, 2012

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Jolly Holly Stripes Christmas Card
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Jolly Holly Stripes Christmas Card
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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Stationery card

Little Star Birth Announcement
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bryker's Birth: A Short Story

Despite the expectation of everyone and my brother that you'd want to join the party early, Cinco de Mayo (aka "d day") came and went and you sat tight in your incubation chamber. Mommy even tried the Ansley trick and got a mani/pedi on your due date (at the same place). But alas, you were stubborn and stayed put.

On Friday (the 6th), I cleaned like a crazywoman in an attempt to get the house at least semi-presentable and ready for your arrival (and maybe also slightly in hopes of inducing labor...). Mia and Zade brought ice cream for the same reason. Just before bed, I told daddy that I thought I may have had a contraction. He responded with "Aw, man. I was really hoping to get some sleep tonight." Though mommy remembers some tossing and turning (as much as can be done with a giant belly) and general restlessness, I didn't fully wake until around 5:30, when you startled me with a strong kick followed closely by a familiar rush. The dam had been breached. Your water was broken. 

It was a bit unbelievable, having waited for so long, to know you'd be here within 24 hours, but I remember saying to your dad that it was "time." He roused fairly easily [which you will learn is a bit of an anomaly with your father] and went to call the g-rents while I took a quick shower. I had a minor 30-second contraction while rinsing off. When I got out, I was anxious to record it with my recently-downloaded full term contraction timer app, being the giant nerd that I am. 

But then I had another one. And according to my calculations, it was only about 3 minutes behind the last. I vaguely remembered something about Dr. Cousins having said to page her when the contractions were 10 minutes apart. Whoops. After a couple more hits just a few minutes from one another, mommy and daddy began to wonder if you could be coming with a quickness. 

Grandpa Mac was on his way to take over Ansley duties and Mia had been notified and would meet us at the hospital. Unfortunately, Granny had to work that day and Bumpa was setting up for a big garage sale as they were in the midst of a major move. No one was in a huge hurry since, clearly, these things take time. I mean mommy's first labor was around 16 hours. Surely this one would take a while as well, right? 


As we readied the car, mommy had a painful contraction. They were getting longer and.. was that correct?.. even closer together. I'd tried to page Dr. C before we left, but had a feeling I didn't do it right. Was I supposed to enter the area code? Do I press pound after or just hang up? 'How does a pager even work these days??! Why do people still have pagers? Wouldn't a text be easier?! Pagers are ridiculous and irrelevant and should be summarily rounded up and nuked.' [Thus was my thinking in mid-pain]. I told your father I was pretty sure it was a fail and somehow amongst the commotion he made a successful second attempt.  

We sped down Wendover with the hazard lights full on Nascar-style. Daddy told me later that the odometer was at a pretty constant 80 and he'd run four red lights (and he totally felt like a race car driver). I didn't even notice. It had taken us just under 15 minutes to get to the hospital. In that time, mommy's contractions were so close together and so painful that I couldn't concentrate on anything else. I did my lamaze breaths like a pro - as though they would actually ease the discomfort. But I'm pretty sure they just give you something else to focus on so you don't go blind from the sheer agony of a small human attempting to exit your body. No offense. 

Just before we arrived, I recall feeling the urge to push. When we finally rolled up to admissions, I could barely walk. Thank you God I'd had the sense to pre-register because as soon as we sat down to check in, I clenched my teeth with the pain of yet another contraction. Daddy attempted to impress upon the admissions nurse that time was of the essence here, but I'm not sure she got it until she saw how long the megacramp lasted and we informed her that they were about a minute apart. 

Though we'd begun to fill out paperwork (and by we I mean your dad as I was willing you to stop banging on the escape hatch and literally attempting to hold you in at that point), the nurse ultimately recognized the urgency of our situation and ushered us into an exam room. I almost disrobed with the door open. When they had to wait for the contractions to stop in order to examine mommy, I got a little panicked (don't tell your dad). The nurse announced I was at an 8-9 (10 being "push") and we were off to a birthing suite.

And bless your daddy's heart for being so sweet: he actually had the decency to ask at that moment "I know this may be a stupid question, but.. are we too late for the epidural?" The nurse didn't even answer. I did. That would be a resounding "no."

Just to recap here, we'd gone from nothing to water breaking to contractions three minutes apart and about 30 seconds long, then one minute apart and one minute long in around 30 minutes. It was go-time. I knew this.

Apparently, we should have taken the doc a bit more literally when she said, "Just make sure you have your bag packed and are ready to go, because I have a feeling when this baby comes, he's coming like a bat outta hell." Holy goodness she was right..  though I prefer to rephrase it and say you swooped down like an angel from heaven.

As we rounded the corner, I saw Dr. Cousins rushing in and was slightly comforted (for approximately 5 seconds until the next contraction kicked in). They'd told us it would likely be the other doc on call. But evidently, Dr. C had a patient in the room next door that had been there all night. She went to check on her while they stuck mommy with an IV (just once; that nurse was a champ) and prepped me for (holy crap) delivery. 

When Cousins came back a few short minutes later, she did a quick check and asked if mommy wanted to push. Next thing I knew it was wheels up and 'let's do this.'

And yes, since everyone asks and it's hard to recall even now, it hurt. It hurt like nothing else has hurt in my life and I was seriously terrified. Had I had more time to think about it, that fear might have been paralyzing. 

But it only hurt for 10 seconds. And then it was done. Two and a half pushes (a half because the doc had me stop in the midst of one) and you were here. They laid you on my chest and you looked at me in wonder just like your sister had done. You were so tiny and perfect. I loved you instantly.

But it all happened so fast, I had trouble processing your appearance. Mia didn't even believe your dad when he called her to say you were born until he texted your picture minutes later.

We'd arrived at Women's at 6:06; you were born at 6:14.
(I know, my penchant for extremely lengthy storytelling perhaps made it seem otherwise ;)

Once you were here, the doc had to leave to fix up our neighbor (who'd delivered four minutes before), so mommy still had to endure some contractions until everything was out and officially done. In the meantime, daddy stayed at your side and they weighed, measured and cleaned you up. And the nurse asked me the rest of the questions necessary for admission (Fun fact: yes, we were actually admitted after your birth). 

We couldn't figure out who you looked like, with your little round head and serious tufts of light brown hair(!!!), but we were so proud.  
Bryker Jon Stevenson
6 lbs 15 oz; 20.5" of precious

Once everything was finally said and done and we had a minute to reflect, I realized how close we'd actually come to having you on the side of the highway (hm now that I think about it, dang we totally missed our chance at that Dr. Phil appearance and 15 minutes of fame! Jk). Every new nurse or doctor that came in commented on your speedy entrance. I tried to convince your dad to change your name to flash or bullet, but to no avail. Though apparently deciding on the correct middle name was akin to taking the SAT's because your father came out of the shower to change it twice while I was on the phone about your birth certificate. Daddy kept waffling between Jon and Jonathan - finally deciding on Jon so that your credit won't get confused with his down the road (yes that is the actual reason your middle name is Jon. Sorry).

So apparently you weren't ready to join us until you decided it was time. But man, when you did, you were sure! So thank you for popping out quickly and saving me hours of painful, exhausting labor.  ;)
You really are such a sweet baby. Already quite proficient at eating and pooping. And you slept for like 5 hours after your man-surgery (poor thing), allowing us to sleep, too. Perhaps you felt bad about not allowing mommy enough time for medication, but honestly my recovery has been easier this time as well. Everything seems a little easier. Maybe it's somewhat because we're a little more relaxed and confident we won't break you. And we [kind of] know what we're doing now (apologies to Ansley - sorry sweetie, with you we were flying blind). 

Speaking of Ansley, your big sister absolutely adores you. When they brought her in to see you at the nursery, she kept trying to get through the glass to touch you, and cried when she had to leave to see mommy. She wanted you. When they brought you in to see us, she could not kiss you (i.e. cover you in slobber) enough.

Sadly, she was a bit sick while during our hospital stay, so the grandparents kept her away until we were discharged on Monday. Obviously, mommy needed to do the laundry because your grands couldn't seem to find any clothes for her and she ended up arriving to take you home in this:

In case you can't see that shirt very well, it's a onesie with a picture of a toddler flippin' the flippin' bird! The caption reads "my dad can kick your dad's a$! at fantasy football." It was actually a hand-me-down from your "reject" pile. And it was probably a size 3 months. But I have to admit, it was awfully funny.

Ansley loves to pat your head and stroke your hair, which, clearly we can't blame her for; it is a magnificent 'do. She calls you "Buckee" or "Buckuh," and loves to greet you with a cheery "hey!" even though it will be a long time before you can respond. Her ultimate goal seems to be playing Row Row Row Your Boat and holding you, but don't worry mommy and daddy will run interference till she's old enough to do so safely. For now, she's otherwise content to help mommy toss away dirty diapers and burp you by patting your back.  

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bryker's Turn!

Tomorrow marks your actual due date. Wow! How did we get here so quickly? Despite the fact that mommy is told daily that I "must be about to pop!" I'm holding out for you to decide when you're ready to join the world. Sounds like everyone thought you were coming early because I keep getting calls and emails making sure nothing has happened. I'm so anxious to see your face and let it all settle in, but you're sittin' tight.  :)   Running after your sister doesn't give us much time to meditate on what it will be like when you get here, so it still seems half-real. We've finally gotten the nursery (mostly) ready, though, and I hope you like it. You won't really be living in there right away, but mommy wanted to be sure you had your own space just like your big sister did when she was born so you know how special you are to us, too. I understand that kind of stuff doesn't matter as much to boys, but it is important to me. ;) 

Aunt Heidi got those cool letters for you for Christmas (before you were born!)

I've been popping Zantac and/or Tums most days for the past 2 & 1/2 months, so yay for you: you probably have hair!! Other than the heartburn, you haven't been plagueing me much from the inside save an itchy belly once in a while and the inability to fit into my clothes.

In fact, I've noticed a strange phenomenon. My skin has been miraculously clear and my legs have stayed smoother longer, when the opposite seemed to be the case with your sister. It may or may not be due to the hormones that come with having a boy, and may or may not just be me, but it's kind of nice. Thanks, baby B!

You also move around like crazy—something your sister never so much did on the inside (now that she's out, it's a bit of a different story... ;)
Your favorite position is semi-bilateral (i.e. head down to one side, butt up to the other). I'm sure you'll straighten out eventually.

Unfortunately, the curse of the clumsy pregnant lady struck again last month, and mommy had two more accidents within a couple-week span. The first happened on a rainy day as I scurried back to my car after dropping off your sister. Mommy lost her footing, stumbled a few steps and—instinctively hugging you like a football in protection mode—dropped to my knees and shoulder, finally stopping the fall with my face. This resulted in two chipped front teeth, very bruised knees and a scrape on my face that is still trying to heal. I called my doctor, dentist and daddy (in that order) before I was able to breathe correctly.

[Whenever you do something bad, 
I'm going to show you this picture to
remind you what you put me through. 

The next week I was heading out to the garden to join Ansley and daddy when I stepped wrong on one of the cement circles and again twisted my trick ankle pretty badly. To make matters worse, it happened in the midst of an outgrowth of poison ivy that was heavily infused with ivy poison (daddy attempting to kill it off), so after carrying mommy inside and stripping me down to the bare essentials, daddy grabbed a CLOROX WIPE and scrubbed me off thoroughly - starting with the severe scrape on my shin. Since I wasn't thinking clearly and was crying profusely anyway, I allowed this to happen (but holy mother of #$%! did it hurt) and followed daddy's further instruction to get in the tub and soap up in continuation of the ivy detox. It was comical the next day, and I was able to hobble around somewhat. Although limping around with a huge belly and wrapped ankle was not so fun. I may have been more angry (at myself. for doing that again) than hurt after the initial trauma.

But hopefully you'll get here soon (if nothing else, so that mommy doesn't have any more accidents.
I kid, I kid).

I'm looking forward to meeting you, B. Daddy is just as excited, though he claims that it's the week of "vacation" he can't wait for. When you think about it, I suppose it is kind of like a vacation, though. A babycation. We get to take time off just to hold and snuggle and get to know you after you arrive. I already know I'll love you; it's just hard to imagine how much. You were only a dream 9 short months ago, and now you're almost here. Actually holding you in my arms will be the culmination of a thousand thoughts and prayers.

See you soon, my darling.  :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

6 months; 1 post

This has been a long time coming.

I would be apologizing profusely for my lack of attention to this blog as of late, but since you, baby girl, will have no clue how long it's really been between posts by the time you read this, I'm pretty sure you'll forgive me.  :)    [And if you're a friend or family that's just stopping by, you may want to get a snack and strap in. We're gonna be a while.. Really, feel free to take breaks and re-visit later].

I hesitated even typing "baby girl" right then, because it seems that somehow in just a few short months, you've become so much more a "little girl." Despite daddy's resistance to cutting your beautiful, curly, almost tuck-behind-your-ears-length hair to delay the process, you somehow just grew up. You're addressing people by name now (when you call out "mama!" to me, I can't tell you how my heart soars. I absolutely adore it. Remind me to get that on tape). You can even name all the kids in your daycare class. Of course, this started out with the most easily pronounced (Chase) and had us wondering if we needed to have a talk with Chase's parents about your future together and your seeming obsession with the little man. For a while there, we would ask you who was in your class and all you offered up was "Chase" (along with a bright, beaming smile that was probably just you being proud of yourself but totally kept us conjecturing about your pint-sized relationship). One time when I brought you to school and Chase showed up shortly thereafter, you screamed out his name several times in short succession and darted toward him. Clearly, this only furthered speculation.  ;)  And more recently, we passed Chase's mom in the hallway (nobody else in the vicinity, natch) and you purposely waited for her to come up to us before shouting "CHASE!" in greeting. I think she was flattered that you recognized her as his mommy, but I was compelled to confess my suspicion of your love affair and we laughed it out. She said they love you, too. But then you started rattling off "Jake," "Livlia" and "Hay-Lee." And my personal favorite [based on tonality alone], "Dru-Dru" (Andrew).  Apparently, Chelsea is now stuck saying "Chase," so I think he may have moved on. Playa.

The infatuation with BoBo continues, so you're quick to spot any dog in your viewing radius and call attention to its presence. Daddy found this extra comical when picking out birthday cards with you because every other one had a dog on the front. He said you kept walking back and forth excitedly hollering "BoBo!!" "BoBo!" "BoBo!!!" and pulling out each paper pup you discovered. Allegedly, there were about 15 cards on the floor before daddy realized what you were doing.

You also began using words correctly around months 17 & 18 (like hot and cold, shoes, nose, eyes, button, etc... my goodness there are too many to name). Daddy thought it was hilarious when he taught you to properly identify "boobies," so I'm anticipating the call from daycare about you inappropriately denoting your teachers' or classmates' chests any day. You can identify simple things (dog, duck, spoon, ball, eggs, pizza were among the first) and take direction well. My favorite version of this is asking you to "help mommy" do something. You're especially good at folding laundry (taking items out and putting them back into the basket, and then taking them out again) and "wiping" (using a paper towel or baby wipe to towel off your mouth. Or the floor. Or table. Or even daddy, whom you caught off-guard the first time when you went straight for the crotchal region. Hey - it's at your level. And apparently 'you dropped some food there, dad'). Even your teachers say that you become hyper-focused on certain "tasks," and will repeat them over and over. I'd ask if I should be worried about OCD, but I think it's a little early to tell. You have proven to be most helpful in throwing away trash, as the pantry is one of your preferred playplaces. Since you can open and close the door by yourself, you take great pleasure in coaxing mommy or daddy inside and shutting the door. You occasionally let us out when we bang hard enough. 

You can identify "boy" and "girl," but adults are all "mama"s and "dada"s. Which is actually quite cute. Daddy was initially very flattered when you pointed to a large, muscly African American gentleman on a magazine and said "dada."

And now you've begun putting words together. The first example was "good girl," which we use when Hannah is doing something correctly. Since that's not too often, I'm actually a tad surprised you picked this one up (just kidding; we use it on you quite a bit). You also say "up, please" when wanting to be picked up, and have been doing so for at least a couple months now. This has lately transitioned to "hold you" if we don't get you right away - probably because before you say up please you reach out your little arms and look up pleadingly until we ask if you want us to hold you. Since mommy is now in her eighth month of pregness, this is easier said than done for me and apparently frowned upon by BabyCenter. But I still do it. I'm already fearing the day you don't want to be held, so ... whatever BC. You're only 22 pounds anyway (!). 

The word "no" has entered your vocabulary as well; cutest in the form of "No, no Hanla. Stop!" (Said when imploring Hannah to cease licking, nudging or bothering you in whatever fashion). It is less cute when you say it to us. But I have taken to letting you choose the radio station on the drive to school every morning. Mommy tunes in and asks "this one?" To which you will either reply "no," with a hearty shake of the head, or "huh" (meaning, uh-huh) and a single, affirmative nod. Love it.  

I feel like you can communicate so much more efficiently, too. Since you can tell us when something "huhts," or point out/say what food you prefer. You let daddy know if you want "oh's" or "eggs" or "gits" (grits) in the mornings, for example. And every time I open the fridge and you spy the olives, you ask for one. (Interestingly, you love olives. Unfortunately, you have a strange compulsion to dip them in doggie water before completely finished. Are you washing the extra salt off?). You must take after mommy in liking the sour and salty stuff, because you've also recently expressed a love for grapefruit. Somehow, I don't think grapefruit is a favorite for most other 1 & 1/2 year-olds. 

You're also very good with animal noises. Each time we point out a monkey on TV, in a book or on the computer, you give us the "ah, ah, ah!" sound effects. Same for sheep, cow, horse, etc. Pretty much anything you can't identify or that doesn't make noise gets a growl. Which is kind of hysterical when you locate a squirrel or penguin and go "rrrrrr!" 
Evil squirrels...

Storytime has evolved into you 1. patting out a spot on the floor, accompanied by the instruction for mommy or daddy to "sit" (you're kind of demanding), 2. bringing us one of about three preferred reading materials (Hand, Hand Fingers Thumb; One Fish, Two Fish; Cat in the Hat), and 3. going to grab another book after about four pages or distracting yourself by pulling all the other books off the shelf. At bedtime, you'll sit obediently through several stories (unless you're supertired, which you indicate by motioning toward the crib sleepily and telling us 'no' when we ask if you want to read or try to sit down). 

In health news (because there's always something, isn't there?), we've gone through another couple ear infections, four [or is it six??] more teeth and a round of pinkeye in the past four months. Those were obvious irritations (as mommy can barely cope with your pain regardless), but then came the rash. This happened to occur during a rare stretch at the end of March when mommy was particularly immersed in work and had to stay late most nights and work over the weekends. I'd barely seen you in two weeks (though SuperJon did a wonderful job taking over) and was deep in PowerPoint purgatory when daddy called me at work. I believe his exact words were "I've been trying to reach you. Ansley has measles and we're taking her to the emergency room. And you can't be around her for a week because it can cause serious brain damage to the baby." Now mommy had never in my life cried in front of a boss or broken down in a professional setting (not that my job can be considered terribly formal)... until that day. The thought of not being in contact with my baby girl for a whole other week or harming my unborn child completely overwhelmed me and brought me to tears. Ok, caused a major meltdown let's be honest. After my terribly understanding boss allowed my exit, I sat in the parking lot and couldn't even start the car. Thank heaven Mia called and was somehow able to talk mommy off the ledge by assuring me that it was very unlikely that what you had was actually measles (though in my defense, daddy had totally said it like there was a doctor diagnosis backing that mess up), and that even if you did, I'd definitely been vaccinated and would not need the weeklong quarantine otherwise mandated. When mommy was finally able to pull herself together enough to drive, Mia and I met at the house to scour your vaccination records, since once we thought about it, we were also fairly certain you'd had an MMR shot in the not-so-distant past. The freakout concluded with daddy's final report that "The doctor doesn't think it's measles. It's probably only roseola or a viral rash." Didn't even require medication. Yeah. Let's give a pregnant lady a heart attack jumping to conclusions shall we? Thank God you were alright, but whew! Perhaps daddy was hoping to induce labor...

And then there was the call mommy received from school the following week asking if I might have an idea as to why your little bum bum had two small bruises on either side (Ms. Alecia noticed them while changing you). I was so stressed from the recent measles scare and more strenuous work schedule that I couldn't think why that might be the case until the moment I hung up. I called daddy immediately and lamented that I was sure we had unknowingly caused the bruised bottom by encouraging the repetitious singing of Ring Around the Rosey, during which you got so into the "all fall DOWN!" part that you would literally throw your feet out from beneath you and land smack on your buttocks with a loud thud. I'm expecting a call from social services at some point to inquire about our beating you to the point of bruising.

In more current events, you and daddy have been building a garden. Though it's been a long road and half the crop was compromised by those pesky squirrels and rabbits (hey, they ARE evil!), it's your project together and I know how proud daddy will be if and when you're able to harvest. You were such a good helper in putting it together and planting seeds. Even if you were a bit more interested in the water bucket and piles of dirt...

Day 1: Playing around the garden
 "I'm pretty good with a shovel."

"I totally got this."

 Day 2: Using the wheelbarrow just like daddy

 "I think this plank should move over here.."

 "Here daddy, let me help you with that."

 "Hold on; I gotta take a call."

 Yes, mommy sees you with your hand all up in that bucket..

And now we plant!

Your obsessions as of late include:

1. Dolls/Babies. Holy flipping goodness. If you feel the need to hold or play with one of your 5 (and counting) babydolls and don't see one in the immediate vicinity, you call out "behbee; behbee; behbee" longingly and circle each room hunting for a child. Most of the time, you prefer to have two or more behbees in your possession at once. None of your dolls have names, save Barbie (who is actually a Barbie). Funny thing is, you distinctly call her "Bawbee" in contrast.

You play-act with all of them; taking them in the tub and "washing" their hair, or removing clothes and changing diapers (which, obviously, in your current wiping craze necessitates an actual baby wipe). We have to make sure when you turn them over, pat their backs and put them "night-night" that we're not too loud or that little finger will shoot up to your mouth and warn us to "shhh! ("behbee sleep!")." At daycare you tend to make a beeline for the dolls when I set you down, and you crack your teachers up making them do all kinds of things (like ride the rocking horse and pet the stuffed animals). Supposedly, you get quite the 'tude if a playmate snatches one of "your" babies - even if you've set it down and moved on to other things (like "excuse me! that's mine"). Changing the babies particularly piques your interest, and you will claim to discover "behbee, poop!" at regular intervals. They tell me you're rather diligent in checking your classmates' diapers as well (omg!!), and will let your teachers know if someone's dropped a deuce. 
Improper? Perhaps. Helpful? Quite.
But you've always been a bit of a leader in the class. Last week when I sent you off, you ran to the dolls and began passing them out. Seriously. I watched you pick up a kid, call out "Chase," and hand it over when he came obediently to you. Then you grabbed another and called Andrew. Such a good little mommy. If a bit polygamous...

2. YouTube. I know, many grown-ups are a tad obsessive about this one, too, but you will honestly sit and watch 45 minutes of random videos on the internet like a pro potato. It's surreal. You clearly have your go-to vids, such as the Muffin Man (love to watch you bop your head up and down to the beat) and duck song ("and he waddled away.. waddle waddle... till the very next day"). You've grown tired of the gummi bear one, but that obscene underwear-clad dancing green jellybear was your singer of choice for quite some time. We've even found some oldies but goodies like the Elephant Show theme song (skinamarink) and Supercalifragalisticexpialidocious. When we've run through the favs list, mommy will ask what else you want to watch, and the answer to this question is inevitably "behbees" or "bobos." So we find some silly dog tricks or chubby laughing babes to satiate your fix. But sometimes you fall asleep.

3. The phone. Besides the fact that you are now "calling" people and pretending to talk to them, you're also quite proficient at the toddler games on mommy and daddy's phones. You especially like morphing animal flash cards, which you refer to as "Bobos." Basically, they show a warped animal shape, you shake the screen and it goes back to its original shape, then spells out the animal. You shake it again to get a new one. I'm fairly convinced you go through all the animals solely to find the dog and ape.

4. Dancing. Yes, daddy, we're in trouble. Aside from the fact that you actually require no music and "can dance all by yourself" (mommy swells with pride), you take great pleasure in doing the Night at the Roxbury head bop and waving your hands to anything with a good beat even while strapped in your carseat. [JB's "baby, baby, baby" gets you every time].


You've even taken to imitating silly movements mommy does with her hands and head. And when you're unrestrained and free of the car, watch out. One of your Valentines gifts was a Tik Tok-singing "sidestepper" monkey. You still love turning it on and groovin' with the monk. When you lay on the floor and began inappropriately thrusting your hips in the air at one point, however, we had to intervene. It was a smidge too 'Little Miss Sunshine' for the grownups ... though the intervention may or may not have been delayed by our rolling around cracking up at that visual. 

5. Bugs. Apparently, mommy scared you something fierce the first time you saw a bug and you were forever traumatized, because every little piece of fuzz, speck of dirt, thread, furball or dust bunny around must be carefully inspected to determine its non-bugness before you are satisfied. When you see any such offending particle, you whimper, point, cry out "bug!" and back away postehaste. Mommy's job is to then identify it as "not a bug" and dispose of it properly. This really sucks when it actually is a bug. You're also going through a phase where there are certain things you're scared of, but fascinated with. Which is utterly confusing for mommy, since I don't know whether to let you play with/see those things or hide them away. One such item is your "chatterbox Cookie Monster" that pretty much just says random phrases anytime his mouth flops open. You're just not sure why or how those sounds come out, so you go back and forth with whether or not you actually want him around. At Mia's house, that item is a porcelain mask with hat and feathers that hangs on the wall. I think maybe you're worried it will come to life suddenly, and you want to make sure it doesn't. It's ok. Mommy has always found that mask slightly creepy myself (don't tell Mia). 

6. Potty. Ok. So I've hitherto mentioned (once or twice) daddy's propensity for early potty training, which he began encouraging around month 17 with edible rewards (Reese's Pieces. How very ET, right?). It began by simply extending a Piece for the act of sitting down longer than two seconds, and then we started removing the pants and trying it at the same time each day when you got up. Now, you're totally preoccupied with anything potty, and frequently order "mommy, potty. daddy, potty. wipe." We are well aware when you pass gas, but you politely warn us that you've gone "toot toot!" after the fact. You also know exactly what it means to go "poop-poop" (not to be confused with KaKa - more on that later), but are less forthcoming with that info. Not that it isn't obvious. Any time you need to take a two, you stop what you're doing, find a sturdy object to brace yourself, and grunt away till it's done. Your little face will turn red, you won't let us touch you, and when we ask "are you pooping?" you lie and totally deny it. Daddy frequently tries to get you on the potty before the struggle, but when he asks if you want to sit down, you give a panicked "no.. no" in response.  

Now it's happened once or twice that you've had trouble with the 2s, and at these times mommy and daddy have panicked. Especially when you call for "help?" in the midst of fruitless grunting. Since being backed up also causes you to refuse food and drink, we went a little crazy the first time it occurred. Daddy came running downstairs (having heard your pitiful protests), whisked you up to draw a warm bath and ordered mommy out to retrieve prunes and .. suppositories (as a last resort). I combed two drugstores before finding the correct medicine, rushing back home and sprinting up the stairs – sure to find my poor babydoll writhing in pain. I rounded the corner to our bathroom to find a full tub: sans Ansley, but graced with something else. Something that surely could not have come from your tiny little (absence of a) back side. Could it? It was eerily quiet, so I listened for a moment and heard a muffled voice from your room. As I pushed open the door, you looked up contentedly from the book daddy was reading and flashed a delighted smirk that told mommy everything I needed to know. My kid can muster up a turd beyond her years. We took photographic evidence, but I'll spare any peripheral readers the graphic nature and refrain from posting the content here. Suffice it to say: holy crap.

Clearly, we're still not ready for a serious commitment, since everyone mommy's consulted says the new baby will completely throw off your sit and go mojo, but you're so interested in it, we can't stop completely. And though the plunge to PullUps or panties has not yet been made, you are suddenly hating to be changed in a major way. (Like, you throw fits when we mention the act of changing you and try to convince us to change a behbee instead). Despite this little hiccup, you've peepeed on your pot a handful of times. On Easter Sunday, you were bathing one of your behbees in your water table in the front yard when you noticed that this particular bathtime babe has a hole between its legs (I guess for drainage), and appears to "potty" when taken from the water. Of course, this brought on an immediate chorus of "behbee, potty! behbee, potty!" and required the hasty relocation of one of your toddler toilets to the lawn (where baby could properly sit and do its business).

After a good half hour of this process (dunk plastic child, let her wee, repeat), you mentioned the deuce. I was all set to drop a Hershey's Kiss in the water below the doll when we realized you meant YOU had to poo. And right there in the front yard, with Mia, Zade and anyone on our street who happened to be looking out a window in attendance, we didn't even think twice about stripping you down to sit on your potty (sorry!). After a minute of sound effects, mommy was joking with Mia about the likelihood of your a. actually going #2 in the pot, and b. doing so completely nekkid in front of the entire neighborhood, when you got up, turned around and pointed. And there in the toilet in the middle of the yard was your masterpiece. Everyone was so excited/proud/amused at once we could barely contain the cheering, laughing, praise and celebration. Zade asked if you had a piggy bank where we could reward you for your hard work, so we brought it down and he helped you insert a number of whole dollars. Then we realized that this looked really bad in the absence of clothes (we had at least wiped you and applied a diaper at that point) and subsequently retreated inside so as not to embarrass ourselves further in front of the neighbors.

7. Ka-Ka. No, not the Spanish translation. In this case, Kaka is your own shortening of Mia's pup's name: Kashi. Kaka is a mini LhasaPoo. You absolutely love him, and request him frequently. He is small and soft (like you!), so I understand the compulsion. When I mention "going to Mia's" or anything Mia-related, "Kaka?" is your swift response. But it's probably pretty funny for bystanders to hear a little toddler walking around hailing "Kaka!!" every few seconds when you're on a roll. It's exceptionally humorous when you're asking KaKa to sit, as "sit" sounds like the English slang for the translation of Spanish caca. But Kaka can entertain Ansley like no other. You giggle when he leaps onto the bed or runs for a toy, and when he does his circus dance (up on the hind legs batting the paws) you shriek with delight. You like to imitate KaKa's toothy smile. You take great care, however, to avoid his puppy pads - even when there's nothing on them. I guess because that's where "Kaka poop."  

8. Boxes. Bryker's bedding arrived a couple months ago and we saved the box for you to play with. Evidently, this was one of the smarter things mommy and daddy could have done, because you've since logged hours of playtime in the box, on the box, in the box with daddy, banging on the box while daddy is inside, asking mommy to join you on the box, hiding things in the box, peekabooing up and down from the box and just generally playing with the large, plain cardboard box. We are so not buying you any more toys (just kidding ;)

You're still a pretty good eater, unless you're teething or not feeling well. Grits are your fave, followed closely by Raisin Bran (I know. Go figure), and you frequently request tea as a beverage. Our fault for introducing you to it, I know. It's pretty much all juice all the time now, since you're still not so keen on the milk unless slurping it from the remains of your cereal (so perhaps it's the sugar content??).

And fyi, this entry has been brought to you by the color blue and the number 2, as those are clearly your current color and number of choice. I take it you're learning this stuff in school, because any time you have two things together, you will very plainly state "two. behbees." Or "blue. ball." Those are the ones you get every time, but I've been noticing more and more accurate identifications of red and items in groups of three as well. Your capacity to learn at the point is completely amazing to me.

You are just so entertaining, enjoyable, loving and cute!! Mommy is enamored with you and most everything about 20-month-old you. You've now started in on "dad-DEE" and "mom-MEE" (as opposed to dada, mama), you're hugging people goodbye, and you walk around with a purpose and occupy yourself with games and tasks. You smile on command and say "cheese!" when we're taking pictures (without prompting). Sometimes you make silly faces just because. I think I've been remiss in your journal entries because I've just been watching you live and trying to hold those moments in my heart. Suffice it to say that the fact that you're now hugging and giving kisses without prompting is my dream come true. Honestly–when you wrap your sweet arms around my neck and actually squeeze, mommy could cry from elation. Every time. And I think to myself, "this is why I wanted kids!!" Oh my geez I'm crying just thinking about it. And when I come home and you run into my arms with the biggest, best grin and request "more hugs".. Let me go ahead and call pregnant (and stop myself from gushing too annoyingly). It's overwhelming. Mommy is so blessed to have you in my life. I love you more than I could ever tell you on some blog. I hope someday you get to feel the same thing for your kids because it's pretty much incredible.