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Dear Gem – Month 19

baby in ferocious zebra costume

Your vocabulary is just exploding. It’s not just one or two new words a day, it’s several. Big words, like squirrel and butterfly, which is nearly unintelligible, but I know what you’re saying. You’re picking up on concepts, too. The other day when we saw the peacock at the zoo, you pointed at it and said “blue.” You just told me “thank you” when I gave you some apple slices. Make a note, I know you know how to say thank you. It’s de regueur for you now.

This month has been busy. Last weekend we had a memorial service for my grandmother, your Great-Grandma McKinley. We called her Grandma Candy because your cousins, Max and Ilona, couldn’t pronounce Grandma McKinley when they were little. The name stuck.

Great Grandma McKinley

The picture above shows Grandma Candy holding you a few days after you were born. She hand knit the green blanket on her lap just for you. She was going blind and her hands were extremely arthritic. That means completing this blanket was a big challenge, but she didn’t let her fading eyesight or the pain in her hands stop her from making a blanket for you. Because she couldn’t see well, sometimes a mistake would slip through, and then great swathes of the blanket would have to be ripped out and re-knit to get it right, or “just so.” Grandma Candy would say “just so” when describing something that had been carefully and thoughtfully arranged. Someday when you are looking at that blanket, you will notice that a few holes and dropped stitches remain. I  hope that someday you will understand how precious that blanket is, and that those dropped stitches are precious too. She loved you very much.

Along with the memorial service, we had a big family reunion.  This was the first time for you to meet most of our extended family: your aunts and uncles and your cousins and second cousins and even third cousins.  There are more degrees of separation in there, but I’m completely baffled by calculating whether someone is a second cousin once removed.  I finally just settled on calling everyone cousin and left it at that.

You got along well with your cousins and you were charming with everyone. So many people stopped to comment on how sweet you were.  Daddy and I were so proud of you.

Right after the family reunion, it was time for trick or treating.  You were a zebra this year, fitting after all the time we spent at the zoo.  You were a little scared of the costume at first, but once we got it on you, you roared.  That’s your thing lately, you like to roar.  So I should rephrase.  You were a ferocious zebra this year.

baby in ferocious zebra costume
I am baby, hear me roar

You still love to color and draw. It is your favorite way to pass the time.  You lie down on the floor with your feet kicked up, and color for hours on end. I bring crayons and paper with us everywhere we go.

gem drawing in her journal

You sit on your green chair with the white polka dots, with your little bare feet sticking out and your toes wiggling while you fill up your journal with pictures like this:

baby picasso

I love seeing you so happy. There’s something about wiggling toes that goes hand in hand with happiness, too. You can’t stay in a bad mood and wiggle your toes at the same time. Try it. I dare you.

I love you so much.

Mommy

Seattle writer, Judy Schwartz Haley, blogs about raising a toddler while battling cancer, finishing a degree, and fending off ninjas. Also, she needs more coffee.
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