It seems I'm always posting pictures of messes that Tessa makes these days. (Did you see this catastrophe? Or this happy accident?) There are daily messes. Some are funny or surprising and some are just reoccurring. I remember in birth class--as we sat Indian-style in a circle on the floor--our teacher telling us that we new parents would need to ease up on expectations for the cleanliness of our homes. I also remember, about six months ago, sort of haughtily thinking that she had been wrong. I was still keeping things pretty neat and tidy, baby or not. Fast-forward to crawling and now walking and Tessa's ever-increasing motor skills. There are objects strewn in every room of the house. As I'm cleaning one room, she's destroying another.
Tessa Jean is 15 months old today. This is my favorite version of her so far. I had the sudden realization last week that she understands what I'm saying to her. If I say, "Bring mama a book and we'll read," she will fetch a book from her shelf in the other room and bring it to my lap. If I say, "Bring your chair in here," she will go into the living room to find her yellow plastic chair and she'll obediently drag it to wherever I am. When I ask her to, she can point to her nose, ears, mouth, teeth, hair, belly button, feet, hands, and tummy. She is paying attention. She has been paying attention all along, but I'm just now realizing it.
Here are some more things that are going on with Tessa:
Personality - I know this for sure: Tessa lives for her interactions with people. In the car, she's waving at the other cars zooming past. She says hiiiiiii!!!! to everyone we walk by and seems so perplexed by strangers who don't acknowledge her. Recently, I've been sneaking up to watch her while she plays alone with her toys and have been so stoked to see her begin to use her imagination. She's actually playing with her toys. Also to my delight, the kid LOVES books! She literally cries when I'm bored of reading to her. The cutest thing: She kisses all the characters in her board books: Leans in and presses her lips to the cardboard and says mmmmmmwah! Personally, I'm excited to get to the point where her books have plots and not just flashcard-type stuff. Thank the Lord her aversion to cuddling has come to an end. I mean, there aren't extended cuddle sessions unless she's under the weather but in general she wants nothing more than to sit in my lap and be carried around in my arms with her head tucked under my chin.
Food - She's not the best eater and never has been, but things are in a good place now with her diet. She accepts most cooked vegetables but very few fruits -- only bananas but refuses strawberries, cherries, blueberries, and melon. She sometimes likes things that surprise me--like plain tuna fish. She has eight teeth now -- four up top and four on the bottom -- but she still doesn't much like things that need to be chewed up. She now says "wa-wa" when she's thirsty. And now that she's on cow's milk instead of soy formula, her beverage of choice has gotten much less expensive.
Sleep - We are so lucky on this front! Since she was four or five months old, Tessa has been sleeping from 6:30 p.m. to 7 a.m. (or even a bit later). Once a week or so she'll wake up crying randomly and one of us will stagger into her bedroom to comfort her and she'll go right back to sleep. There are two key ingredients to this sound sleep: her blankie and her pacifier. We did cry-it-out when she was 4-5 months old and after some emotional-for-all nights, she seemed to realize that sleep is good for everyone. Now she gets in her crib as gratefully as Nekos and I do into our bed at night. She is also really portable -- she spends one to two nights a week over at my mom's house, where she has her own room, and can sleep in a Pack N' Play just about anywhere we pop it open. She's still taking her two-hour morning nap like clockwork but is refusing her afternoon nap more and more often.
Talking - About two weeks ago, I was Googling "Toddler Not Talking" and "How to Build Baby Vocabulary" -- stuff like that. Here's the most embarrassing and concerning part: Tessa's not saying "mama." I mean, she has said it but not often and not so that I know she knows. Believe me, I say "mama" to her 3,000 times a day. She says "dada" constantly -- sometimes in reference to Nekos and sometimes in reference to random objects and strangers. I'm still sad that she's not saying "mama" but I'm not so worried about her talking in general anymore. All of a sudden it seems there are lots of new words. She now says (with meaning): hi, buh-bye, uh-oh, woahhh (for things that she finds surprisingly marvelous), Gop (for our dog Garp), Ha-ee (for our dog Hattie), wa-wa (water), cah (car), foh-wer (flower), and soos (shoes).
Mother's Day Out - On Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. she's started going to a Mother's Day Out very near our house. I pack her a lunch and a nap mat and take her to play with four other little girls and one little boy. She sometimes cries when I leave her but she always looks so happy when I look through the door in the afternoon before I let her know that I've come to get her. I use this time to workout and get some of my freelance writing done. This time goes by really fast.
Happy 15 months, Little Bean.