Ellie - the Second Year Reflections

It's hard for me to believe my girl is 2 already!
This past year has brought us such joy with our Ellie girl.  So many of the uncertainties of the pregnancy and first year have disappeared  - it seems that this year, we found more time to just delight in her.  
Ellie did not have a single surgery between turning one and two.  Perhaps not having the anxiety and preparation and time spent in recovery is what made the difference... perhaps it is that we didn't move across the state - with a baby in a body cast as we did in the first year of her life.  Though she still sees lots of doctors and does lots of therapies, even that part of life seemed to take on its own routine... its own normal.

The day I dressed her in the peach silk dress sewn with love and gently hand smocked by Ellie's Great-Great Granny, I couldn't stop the tears.
She's the fourth generation to wear this precious little dress, made by Great Great Granny in Missouri around 1937.
Great Great Granny lost a toddler daughter.  And a son too.  It was the Great Depression and I hear their names sometimes and my heart aches for this Great Grandmother I never knew.  
I once prepared myself to lose my daughter.
I packed a bag for a hospital and I had a bag for her too.  
Inside her pink and green bag, I had dresses carefully chosen.  They were washed and ironed and folded.
And laid in the bag in order of importance.  
Most were antiques - worn by both me and oftentimes by my mom and grammy.
The peach silk dress?
It was on the very top.
Because I didn't know how long my daughter might live but I knew I needed pictures of her in these precious dresses- passed down by the women in our family and sewn by a Great Great Granny, who knew the heartache of losing a daughter.
And first and foremost I wanted a picture of my own daughter in the peach dress.
By the grace of God, my Ellie is doing so well.  And so I didn't have to dress her in the oversized peach silk dress in the hospital that day.  I didn't have to rush through pictures in too short of time.
I don't know how long I will have with my children (none of us do) but I have no reason at this time to not hope it is a long time.
And so the dress fits at last.
And I took my time and dressed her.  And I brushed her hair gently, as she yelled "no!"
I laid out the pink and white quilt - also made by her Great Great Granny.
And I took pictures.  Lots and lots of pictures.
I'm so so thankful - for this past year and for my girl and for time with her.

 Ellie at age 2:
weight:  23 lbs
height:  32 inches

Ellie naps once a day - usually for about 2-2.5 hrs.  It's glorious.  (Both kids still nap that long!)  Her signal that she is tired is when she starts playing with her hair.  I often check on her in bed and find both hands up in her hair!
Ellie wakes up happy.  She will usually cuddly for a while but often while talking to me.  Sometimes I like to listen over the baby monitor while she chats in bed.  The girl is a talker!  

Ellie is generous with her affection.
It's one of my favorite traits about her!  She is constantly blowing kisses.  She sometimes even kisses the floor while she scoots around!
She kisses her toys when she is happy and her babies and her people.
and her dog.  She kisses and adores Ruby.  At this age, Will loved Ruby (still does) but his love was shown to Ruby in playing with her and often climbing on her.  Ellie seeks out Ruby in the house and just cuddles her.  She kisses her and brings Ruby blankets (which barely cover a paw) when Ruby is "night night."  She brushes Ruby's fur with her baby doll brush. She hand feeds Ruby (despite our frequent "no no" & time-outs) and looks for her when we come in the house.  
It's not uncommon to walk in a room in our house and find Ellie with her head on Ruby's back and an arm draped around Ruby's neck while Ruby just lays there.  Ellie's other favorite position is to sit just in front of Ruby's face with her legs spread out across Ruby's front paws and her face right in Ruby's.  Precious friends.
And when there is a storm and Ruby is terrified, we can always find her in Ellie's room.

Ellie spends her play time playing babies - putting them night night, nursing them, feeding them bottles, and kissing and rocking.  This keeps her very busy.  (Us mamas know how busy a mama can be kissing and nursing and rocking and feeding babies!)  I love how nurturing she is already.  
She also loves building towers (I'm told this is a sure sign of a baby who spends time in therapy!)  She can build a pretty high tower - in fact she recently tested around 27 mts for her tower building abilities!  Go Ellie!
She loves to pretend cook and lately has been turning objects into pretend microphones and singing at the top of her lungs.  No idea what she is singing but it has a lot of high notes.
She loves tea parties and puzzles too.
And coloring.  Goodness the girl loves to color - especially with markers and especially on her tummy. 
I think she may love pretend play as much as her big brother.
She also spends a whole lot of time getting in the middle of whatever her big brother is playing.  

 She has recently started to cruise!  If we put her in position against a chair or coffee table or our old pew, she can cruise!!!  This is a very exciting milestone for our Ellie girl!
This also keeps her very busy as the steps take a lot of energy for her.
She loves stairs and although she can't do them independently yet, she is quite content to hold my hands and go up and down stairs repeatedly for hours.
This past year, she has been working on standing too.  So far, she's up to about 14 seconds of independent standing!
Her independent main method of mobility this year has been scooting - which she began late fall of last year.  Sometimes, she falls down and because she hasn't (yet) mastered getting to a sit (she has done it independently 7 times!  I'm hopeful she will master this soon!) she sometimes still rolls.  The girl can roll like a little maniac to get where she needs to!

 She laughs a lot.  Loudly.  And she giggles too and I love that sound.
She especially thinks her brother is hilarious.
We think she is pretty funny too.  Especially when she does the Ellie Show.

She is talking a lot more lately.  Ellie finally said "mommy" this past spring!  She pretty much skipped "mama" and went from "Daddy" to "Mommy!"  She says "Will" like "whee-el" - often yelling it across the house.
She has words and phrases and some short sentences and we love hearing her speak her mind!

 She has an assortment of funny faces she does on command:
 "mad"/"seriously, mom?"
 "oh wow!"/ "ahhhhh"

 Ellie pretty much eats anything.  We can't figure out where she puts it all.  The girl loves everything!  Except she's not a huge steak fan.  But seriously?  Fish - loves all kinds of seafood - salmon, mahi mahi, tilapia, crab.  Chicken - will eat it all sorts of ways.  Tenderloin - loves it.  Fruit & vegetables - she loves them.  She especially has a thing for steamed spinach.  She is not as crazy about potatoes or squash but she will eat it.  But give the girl steamed spinach and she will devour it and begin begging for "more."
She definitely has a sweet tooth but doesn't love ice cream - too cold.
She loves cereal and yogurt.
Her very favorite thing in the world is dips.  Ellie Girl can not get enough dips!  She loves spicy dips, salsa, queso, crab dip, smoked tuna dip, ketchup, any flavor of hummus, ranch dressing, balsamic vinaigrette, olive oil, etc.  Sometimes she just wants to double dip with her little fingers and forego the accompanying food with the dip.  We have to remind her to eat the cracker or veggie or whatever and not just the dip.
And she still loves her mommy's milk.  Yes, I'm still nursing.  Because it feels natural and still works for us.  And it brings her comfort and in many ways, though I know she is technically a toddler, the fact that she is not yet walking or standing independently makes me still feel like she is my baby... I carry her a lot still and she doesn't yet have the "big girl" feeling of a walking toddler... so, yes, I'm still nursing!  I assume I'll have to quit this year and hopefully my heart will be able to take that but for now - it's still working for us.
(& I never thought I'd be "that" mom."   But again - it works for us.  for now.)

 She really has the gift of contentment.  Ellie spends a lot of her time with doctors or in waiting rooms or in therapy (speech, OT, & PT) and yet she is so happy almost all of the time!
She is flexible with when she eats and can be somewhat flexible with her naptime and even location.  I'm so thankful that she seems to have such a spirit of contentment.
I often watch in amazement - her brain knows what a two year old typically does.  She watches her brother and her friends run around.  She wants so badly to keep up.  She wants to walk all the time.  Though she is fast scooter, she loves to be up "stepping."  Yet her body is not really cooperating yet.
And she has to work so so so hard.  Every single step for Ellie is a challenge.  And a safety risk.
And she is somehow so happy.  She gets frustrated with her body but she doesn't let that frustration dictate her day or her mood for very long.  I'm so thankful she is a happy girl.
My sweet Ellie love - 
such incredible joy you bring us.
You have taught us to appreciate each day and each moment.
We have learned not to take a single thing for granted - how thankful we are for your presence in our lives.
How much we love your loud, high squeal and your giggles and even your yelling "no!"  I love playing with your hair and that I can braid it and do ponytails!  I love dressing you and putting you in so many of my own dresses from my childhood.
I love watching you enjoy whatever I cook - it's good for your mama's self-esteem.  
I love watching you learn new things and new words.  I love your animal sounds and how you make up a guessing game in the car to entertain yourself (& me) with animal sounds.  I love your excitement over your brother's accomplishments - the way you watch him play and say "wow!"  You're good for his self- esteem too! 
We love how you nurture and love other people - from strangers in the grocery store to grandparents to babies (you love babies!) to even your dog and your toys.  You are generous with your affection and kisses.  
I love how you adore your Daddy.  You get so excited when you see him and beg for his kisses.  And how he delights in giving them to you.  I love how protective he is of you - it took a lot of begging to convince him you are old enough now to have your fingernails painted!
We love your smile and your laughter and the way your eyes sparkle with life.  We love your sense of discovery and your work ethic.  We love your determination and your quiet perseverance.  We love your little body - even when it doesn't cooperate the way you want or when we have to push you so hard to help you accomplish "simple" tasks... we love your body.  Because it's part of who you are and we love everything about you.  
You are funny and cute and sweet and cuddly and perfectly made for this family.
We love you and are excited for all this next year holds.
We have such great hope for who you are becoming, sweet girl.  How thankful we are for the time to watch you become.
Happy 2!

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