I’ve had the hardest time getting a good picture of you lately. You’re not one to sit still and wait for the shot. You’ve got things to do, places to go, bookshelves to climb. Each night when I download the photos from my memory card, I sort through picture after picture after picture of the back of your head. It seems I’m just following you around.

And that’s alright.

I love your sense of adventure. I love your curiosity. I love your explorer’s spirit. Well, except when I need a nap. I don’t know what we would do without a play pen. I’m afraid you’d be off trekking in Nepal by now if we hadn’t come up with some way to fence you in. Not that there’s anything wrong with trekking in Nepal. In fact if that’s something you want to do someday, far, far into the future, I hope you do. Just not yet. I’m addicted to your hugs and kisses, and I sleep so much better when I can hear your little baby snores in the next room.


I worry that you’ve been spending too much time trapped in our living room watching TV. On the other hand, you’ve learned things from the TV that I didn’t think to teach you. You learned how to jump! Seriously. Ok, well, your toes aren’t quite leaving the ground yet, but you get your shoulders and heels moving in an upward motion while you chirp “Jump!” It’s the cutest thing. I was wondering where you got that from because I don’t really use the word jump around you, and I’m really not much of a jumper. It’s not like I’ve been modeling this behavior. But then I watched an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba with you, and watched you jump along through the “Jumpy Jump Jump Jump Jump Jump” song. I wonder what other important lessons I’m forgetting to teach you.

dandelion dance

As much as you love Yo Gabba Gabba, your favorite TV show is Ni Hao, Kai-Lan. You even recognize the lead in to the show where it is announced. You get up and squeal and dance, waving your little arms, through the opening and even through much of the show. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you as happy as you are while you are dancing to that theme song. My favorite time of day is when Ni Hao, Kai-Lan comes on because I love seeing you so completely enraptured. I’ve heard many kids have specific songs or shows that really get them dancing. Your Uncle Timmy used to go ape over the song “It’s so easy to fall in love” by Linda Rondstadt. Apparently when I was little my song was the theme song to the Davy Crockett Show.

yellow flowers

Your vocabulary is just exploding these days. I don’t think I could even catalog all the words I’ve heard from you. Today I handed you a banana, and you said “banana.” Three syllables! That is so cool. You can name off body parts like nose, toes, ear, eye (although it’s quite alright if you refrain from poking my eye out while identifying the eyes on my face). Your favorite words at the moment are “ball” and the previously mentioned “jump.” You are getting so much more effective in communicating with us. I’ve been a complete failure at teaching you to sign, with the exception of the sign for “eat.” This is not your fault at all. You see, teaching you the sign requires that I actually remember what the sign is myself. It’s not happening. In fact you may actually be correctly signing entire dissertations at me, but I’m just not getting it. On the other hand, we have “eat” nailed. And that has saved us so much stress. At the very least, I know when you’re hungry. I completely understand why supermoms teach their kids to sign.

baby found a pretty

It’s amazing to watch your brain develop. You are figuring things out so quickly these days. Last month Mary Jane made a game for you that was simply a little canister with a slot in the lid combined with a stack of poker chips. You love that game. You’ll pop those poker chips in through the slot, one by one, then bring it back to me so I can empty it and you start all over again. Recently, you’ve started sorting the chips into piles of blue, red, and white, and then pushing them through the slot in groups by color. You are learning your shapes and anymore when I give you a cracker, it’s not so much a cracker as it is a circle or a square. You have also started counting, or at least I think that’s what you are trying to do. You’ll move a stack of items, like the poker chips, from one pile to the other, saying, “two” with each item. Every number is two, but I think you’re starting to get the idea. “Two, two, two, two…” You’re too cute.

baby looking up

You’ve gotten a lot more affectionate in the past couple months, and let me tell you, that does your Mama’s heart a lot of good. You’re still a go, go, go kind of girl, but now you take a break every so often and come over and give me a hug and a kiss. Unbidden. I love that. Surprise kisses are awesome! I think sometimes you know when I’m having a bad day and need extra hugs, too. You’re an amazingly perceptive little girl. I hope I don’t burden you too much with my illness, especially as time goes on, because taking care of Mommy is not your responsibility. But I do love your little hugs and kisses.

I rock

This last little piece I want to put in here because I think there’s a chance you might argue with me about it in the future. Your favorite food right now is broccoli. Yes, that’s right. Broccoli. If I’m eating broccoli, you will try to take it away from me so you can eat it yourself. I can eat chocolate all day and it’s safe, but my broccoli you will steal. That’s alright. You can eat broccoli all day long if you like. It’s that good for you.

You are growing up so much right now. I miss the little baby you used to be, but I am so proud of the little girl that you are becoming.

I love you.


Read more Letters to Gem.

Judy Schwartz Haley


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