She's at this amazing place between "baby" and "little girl." I guess that's why they call this toddlerhood? But I also mean in the way she looks--because she's still so bald, she looks like a baby. Yet she has the attitude and aptitude of a toddler. She's Ms. Independent, but she also still loves snuggling. She is adventurous, but she's also a mommy's girl. I kind of want to wrap her up and keep her just. like. this. forever... but I also can't wait to see what she does next.
When she gets whiny, I know it's nap time and at home she's still napping 2 hours after she wakes up in the morning and 3 hours after she gets up from that nap--like clockwork. Now I can ask her if she's ready for "Night-night" and she'll repeat "Night-night" and happily lie down in her crib on her own (and I remember back in early June when I thought that would NEVER happen!).
When David gets home from work, she screams, "Hiiiiii Daddy!" which is seriously the cutest thing ever and the best part of his day everyday. It's kinda the best part of my day, too, since it means it's someone else's turn for diaper duty.
I'm working on teaching her more signs because we had a miscommunication earlier in the week when she was signing more and I thought she meant more milk but when I refilled her cup, she was absolutely crushed with disappointment because (as I finally figured out from her crying fit) she actually wanted more sharp cheddar cheese. (That's my girl!) My eighth-grade class did a big unit on sign language and it amazes me how much I can recall. I would have said I didn't know the sign for cheese, but suddenly it just clicked and I was holding my hands flat and twisting my palms together. (Apparently eighth grade was a memorable year for me.)
Zuzu loves high-five now, and not only does she perform the high-five, she giggles like it's the funniest thing ever. We had the entire check-out lane at Michael's laughing along with us just from high-fiving.
Her current favorite song is, "If You're Happy And You Know It." I think they must sing it at daycare a lot, but we also sing it each week at swimming lessons ("If you're happy and you know it, splash your hands!"). When I start to sing it, she throws her head back laughing and immediately starts clapping.
She is mildly obsessed with shoes. (Again: That's my girl!) She loves to carry our tennis shoes around by their laces, and she'll find my flip-flops by the back door and carry them over to sit with her in her mini-chair. This morning I found one of my Toms in the freezer, so Zuzu must have been "helping" me put groceries away last night. When I have her three pairs of little shoes lined up, she chooses her favorites (lavender sequined t-strap mary janes) and carries them around until it's time to put them on. Her feet have finally grown out of size 2 (3-6 months) and into size 3 (6-9 months). She's probably more of a 2 1/2, but she can walk in the 3's without falling down.
Swimming lessons have been going well. She's fearless in the water and has no trouble with the backfloat. She swims underwater from the instructor to me and comes up for air with a huge grin on her face. She "jumps" off the edge of the pool--I lift her up there, we count, and on three, I lift and drop her into the pool (letting her free fall actually makes her catch her breath as she hits the water). I was a little nervous the first couple of times I dropped her into the water, but when I lifted her up after her second jump she looked at me expectantly and then started signing "More! More!" She really is a little fish.
We try to walk up to the park each night when David gets home from work. The other night we didn't have much time before we needed to be back home, so we decided to make a short loop and cut through the middle of the park. We planned to avoid going by the playground, but as soon as we got close, Zuzu spotted the swings and started squealing in delight. It's pretty hard to resist that kind of request, even though she's also been known to burst into tears when it's time to get back in the stroller to go home. She also wants to climb up the stairs and go down the little slide by herself, but I really don't trust her, so there's a lot of parent-hovering. (Also parent-hovering required when NOT climbing the stairs since evidently mulch is delicious.)
A favorite joke is to take any toy (or finger puppet) and after making it dance and sing, we suddenly make it growl and "bite" her. My mom started this game with the finger puppet book "Mary Had a Little Lamb," and Zuzu was belly laughing at the hilarity of being "attacked" by the little lamb. Today we got a lot of mileage from Sophie the wild giraffe squeaking along and then suddenly turning vicious and growling. #toddlerhumor
We are in such a sweet routine (keep in mind that the way time works with a toddler is that anything that has happened in the past three days is our new routine and feels like it's been happening forever and will continue indefinitely... in reality, I think it was just last week she was fighting naps and fussing at bedtime). And she is at such a sweet age that I'm having lots of mixed feelings about going to work next week. I have loved being home all summer, but being home has always been (in my mind) a vacation, a temporary thing, which I think is part of what makes it so much fun. It's not my job, you know? It's just what I get to do when I'm not working for the summer. I honestly think I'd feel differently about it if it were a permanent situation. I think I need a professional career to challenge me and make me happy and I am pretty sure it makes me a better wife and a better mom to NOT be a full-time homemaker/housekeeper/butt wiper. Still, there's a part of me that envies stay at home moms even though I know it's not what I want for me. Is that even possible? To be envious of something you don't actually want?
My fall schedule has me teaching from 10-12 on MWF and from 9:30-12 on TR, and even though my other responsibilities (class prep, meetings, office hours, and the grading, oh, the grading) definitely make a 40 hour work week, I'm really lucky that a lot of that work can be done at home and my afternoons are flexible. I know that it's the right thing for me. It's important for me to show Zuzu that women can and should be part of the professional world. I went to school for a zillion years and I want to DO something with all that book-learnin'! But, damn. I'm going to miss afternoons like this one, where I read a book outside while she puttered around playing with toys. Funny how good days like this instantly make me forget all the exhausting/frustrating/irritating days that we've also had! Also it could be that I'm lazy and I like sleeping until 8am and sometimes just watching TV during nap time (while I fold laundry... I'm not a total slouch...).
If there's anything good about summer ending (besides crisp fall days, jeans, boots, hot drinks, red wine, pumpkin patch visits, and Halloween costumes), it's that I've really been savoring the past few weeks. These are some of the best days we've ever had, but I suspect Zuzu is going to keep getting more and more fun.