Today is such a bittersweet day. Today, you turned 18 months old. That's a whole year and a half old. You are truly no longer babies. Instead, you are toddlers and there is no going back to the days when you did not have a will of your own, the days when I could get you to do exactly what I wanted because you did not know you had a choice!
Today, you both know exactly what you want: what the other has! You fight for the things you consider yours, but share because you love one another. You hug me. You hug your grandparents. You blow kisses and pucker up when I ask for "Kisses, kisses!" You say something that sounds remarkably like "thank you" and everyone says you are friendly, sweet children. You have infectious laughs and one of my favorite sounds is when the two of you are playing and you start giggling so hard you can't stop laughing.
You look so big to me, but compared to others your age, you are still rather on the small side. I try not to consider that, because I can still remember when you were so tiny! I remember when Gracie was teeny weeny and even preemie clothes were too big. I remember Lukie and the O face he would make in the months after he was born. Gracie's cry that would take over her entire body. I remember how we would put you on opposite sides of the Pack N Play and you would migrate so that you were side by side. I remember when you drank milk from those tiny bottles the NICU gave us. They were so big back then and all they held was 2 ounces of milk. Today, you can drink 8 ounces of milk like it is nothing!
Do you remember when you were in the NICU and Daddy would sing that song? You know the one in Spanish about the sea and the boat? He only knew the chorus, but he would sing the song and you two would quiet immediately and watch his face raptly. Eventually, you would fall asleep and the nurses marveled at how just the sound of Daddy's voice could calm you.
Today, you still love the Slippery Fish song, but have discovered many others. You like it when I sing "Old Mac Donald" in the car and you clap along when I sing "If You are Happy and You Know It." You love your stroller and shopping cart. Slides are all the rage. Gracie would rather swing than anything else. As much as you love your friends and time at day care, you cry every time I pick you up. It breaks my heart every time, because I wish that I could be at home with you every day instead of sending you off to day care.
You love apples, graham crackers, hot dogs, any kind of cookie or cracker, milk (!), juice, and, tonight, I discovered you really enjoy broccoli beef! You like string cheese, but can really only eat half of one by yourselves. You throw your food when you are done (I wish you'd just sign "All Done" instead). You eat green beans like they are candy, but you still aren't sure if you like corn. You think pretzels, both soft and crunchy, are fantastic and when we go to Sam's Club, our trip is not complete without one.
If you got to choose the one activity to do all day, it would be to Splash, Splash, Splash in the bath tub. You love holding your bath tub cups under the water as it comes out of the spout. You love to splash the water so hard that it soaks the entire bathroom. You really dislike having your hair washed and sometimes I wonder who is taking the bath, you or me?
You are both obsessed with talking on the phone, but only when no one is on it. You will talk and talk and talk and then when I get Daddy or Nana on the phone, you refuse to talk. You love to push buttons, especially the ones on Grandpa's television and the ones on our dishwasher. You think that climbing is totally fun and climb on everything: your table, our kitchen table, the day bed, your stroller, the computer table, the toilet seat. You like to run from me when I try to pick you up; it's all a game to you!
You love your shoes. You will both sit by the shoe basket and pull every last one out and toss them all around the room. You will try to put them on your own feet and when you can't manage to do so will bring them to me and smile sweetly until I put them on for you. You like my shoes too, but have realized they are much too large for your feet. You are very helpful when we get dressed in the morning and when we get undressed at night. You are not so helpful when it is time to put on your jammies or have your diapers changed.
You are just starting to wear size 18 months in t-shirts; they still swim on you, but your 12 month shirts are getting short. Your pants are still size 12 months and Grandma has had to sew darts in the waistband so that they don't fall down to your knees every time you wear them. You like to pull your socks off and if you could figure out how to get your shoes off, you would never have any sockies on your feet. You hate hats. I don't know how anyone gets their children to wear them.
At night time, the three of us lie down in bed. I put on More from Pooh Corner on the CD Player and you drink your milk. Then, I turn off the lights and we lie there together. Sometimes, you fall asleep right away and sometimes, you think it is time to play, even when you are exhausted. You still use your binkies at night and I know the time is coming when I will have to take them from you. I'm not that worried about how you will react, I'm more worried about not having them to help you soothe yourselves when you are tired. Gracie will only sleep when she has her blanket and once Lukie is asleep he is really asleep. On nights when you will not go to sleep and I am so exhausted I want to cry, I will pack you up in the car and drive around until you fall asleep. On those nights, I feel like the worst mommy in the world because I resort to a sneaky trick to get you to rest.
Every day, I feel like I'm doing this whole mommy thing wrong: I don't hold you enough, talk to you enough, help you deal with the disappointments enough. When I feel the worst, I will hold you in my arms and savor the feeling of your little bodies snuggled close. For a brief moment, it will make me feel better. Deep down, though, I still feel like I'm not doing enough.
I wish that I could do so many more things for you. I wish that I could make Daddy all better so that he can come home. I wish that there were more time in the day, more ways to show you I love you, more opportunities to make wonderful memories for you. I wish we lived closer to Nana, Aunt Bec, and Auntie Ten Ten so that you could see them and your cousins more often. I wish our house were not sitting in the middle of a burned out wasteland so that you could have room to run and your own room to sleep in at night.
Even though I can't do anything about all of those things I wish for, I do know that I am very proud of who you both are. I am proudest that both of you are so incredibly friendly and loving. You wave and say "hi" to everyone and "bye" to people, too. You like people and are not afraid to make friends. People like you right back!
So, today you are a year and a half old. No longer babies, but toddlers for sure. In 6 months you will be two and just the idea of it makes me excited. I can't wait to see what will happen in the next month, the next 6 months. What words will you say next? How tall will you grow? What new and amazing things will you learn? What new ways will you find to say "I love you" with out a single word?
Today is bittersweet, but I would not have it any other way. Happy year and a half birthday, my loves! May the next 6 months bring amazing and exciting things!