2nd Birthday Extraordinaire!
And boy, the difference the past year has made. All babies change an enormous degree in one year's time, but honestly, it can be hard to remember Julia's just two and not three on this birthday weekend. I mean, she grew three inches this spring, and is now off the growth charts at 37-1/2 inches tall. She's heavier by far than the average 24-month-old. And her verbal development continues apace: she routinely speaks in paragraphs and strings together 6- and 7-word sentences. People who see us around town assume she's much older than she actually is. And yet: she's only (but already!) two. Still a baby, in so many ways. An OLDER baby, yes---but she still sleeps in a crib and wears diapers and her legs and belly are baby-chubby yet. Personally, I'm glad.
She had a fabulous birthday, aside from one tumble off a playground jungle gym that resulted in a scraped, swollen nose a bit like a baby prizefighter. Other than that, it was all good: celebrations with grandparents spanning two consecutive weekends; soft ice cream cones at the coffee shop and an outing to show off her favorite sculptures on campus where Daddy works; a family party with scads of overly generous gifts including puzzles and bubbles and tiny gardening tools and piles of adorable playclothes and shoes and fluffy bears and Sesame Street figures and sidewalk chalk and a big beautiful wooden play kitchen full of pans and wire whisks and pretend food; cupcakes with crayon candles to blow out; turkey burgers, coleslaw, and berries for a summery supper; mastery of the art of saying, "I'm two!" when asked; and at the end of a magical day, new pj's and sheets for her bed to make going night-night just a little bit easier. Seeing as how she kept repeating, "Baby Julia happy! So happy!" all day long, I think Julia enjoyed her 2nd birthday.
And, proof positive that I am truly a Parent, no longer a Random Adult With a Decently-Decorated Living Room: Julia's new play kitchen, the size of a small piece of furniture (which I guess it is), previously intended for the PLAYROOM upstairs with the other toys, is now ensconced right there in the dining/living area of our main floor, amidst the regular grown-up furniture, where Julia can happily stand at her pretend stove and stir up pretend food in her tiny frying pan, absorbed for a full hour at a time, while Mama cooks for real (or does anything else for that matter). Not exactly a scene out of Dwell, but hey people, YOU try arguing with an angelic-cheeked toddler whose eyes are shining with the excitement of cooking right next to Mama----not to mention arguing with the objective fact that having such a novel plaything right down where the adults are actually causes Julia to ENTERTAIN HERSELF for long periods of time without requiring parental interaction every single second. So much for those well-intentioned plans of keeping most of the play-clutter out of the adult living area. Who was I kidding? We're a family--we might as well look like one.
So, Julia's in 2-year-old heaven. As for her Mama, I'm BEAT. Difficult pregnancies, unseasonable heat, and lots of entertaining don't make the best mix, I've learned. I need about a week of lying on the couch eating leftover cupcakes and drinking Diet Cokes and watching Law and Order reruns (not likely, by the way). HOWEVER, it was all worth it! We had a wonderful time, and these memories will be a part of our family lore forever. And for those of you readers who are also loved ones, watch your e-mail for a Flickr photo collection of Birthday Highlights coming to your inbox soon.