I know 26 months isn't normally a big milestone worth celebrating. But, Natalie, I feel like I'm witnessing a transformation of baby to little girl right before my eyes. I saw a glimpse of the future you just yesterday when I fixed your hair in a neat little pony tail and noticed your face had lost some of its baby features. For a split second I could see you as a little girl and it made me instantly wistful as I realized that a chapter in your life was ending and a new one beginning. Just tonight you told me that you loved me, unsolicited, for the very first time. It's days like this that I wish I had a "pause" button and could just rewind and keep playing those moments over and over again.
This little face, YOUR face, grinning at me from the other side of the lens tonight tells me quite a story. There is the macaroni and cheese on your cheek from dinner out at Dennys. You and Liam and I went (despite my apprehension that your post-nap whininess would manifest itself into an all out war). Surprisingly we had the best time we've ever had out to eat. You confidently picked your meal from the kids picture menu. "Macaroni, please". And ate every last bite. We then went to Target where you informed me that the "A" in the Target sign was broken and I suggested that it needed new batteries. You must have told me 40 times after that "new baowees, A". You were very concerned.
Then there's the rug burn under your lip from the post-nap fall out of your crib. This is the second time this week that you've fallen out while climbing and I believe it might be time for the toddler bed. It makes me sad to think we'll be giving up this symbol of your infancy and also nervous about getting you to stay in place during time-outs and naptime. I'm sure I can't keep you in a crib until your 18 though so this time has to come at some point. Thankfully you weren't hurt more than what a popsicle ("popsollll") could take care of. And you seemed perfectly content to suck on that while you recounted to me that you "bussawip" (bust your lip).
The smile on your face and your bright eyes (despite being tired) speak to your interest in seeing how things work. You haven't looked at the camera (intentionally) for quite a while. It's a level of control you have over me, I suppose. You know I want you to look so therefore you don't. But, just recently I started showing you your picture in the camera right after I took it and you've been more interested in posing for me. We can call it an interest in how the camera works or just vanity... whatever it is, I'll take it!
Then there's the duct tape on your pajama zipper. Redneck, I know. But, seriously, it's the only way we can keep you from undressing yourself and taking off your own diaper in bed. It's happened a few times and I'll go to extreme measures to keep it from happening again. All I have to saw about that is... Ewww.
And finally, the Dora sticker on your pajamas. No, you didn't go potty, but at least you tried. I know you only agreed to try as a stall tactic for bed, but that's okay. I was convinced that we were going to have SOME success tonight, but no luck. I DO believe that I'll have the mental picture of you sitting on your throne in the middle of the kitchen scrunching up your face and trying to "squeeze" it out. Little girl, you make me smile every single day.
You're a good big sister for Liam and I think you two will be fast friends. He giggled for the first time BECAUSE OF YOU a couple weeks ago and is ALWAYS interested in watching you and seeing what you are doing. I know you two will be good buddies when he's a bit bigger and hope you can always be close.
Natalie, I love you so much. You are truly a blessing to your dad and me. I'm so glad I get a chance to be your Mama.