2 years

Dear Shobha,

I honestly cannot believe it’s been two years already.  

This past month has been a bit of a whirlwind so I must admit that I hardly touched my camera.  Between packing and moving and trying to unpack and preparing for a visit from Ammachi and Appacha, my camera sat virtually ignored for most of the month. 

On May 1st we moved from our house just outside of Albany back to where your father and I grew up.  We moved to a bigger house with a much bigger yard and I can’t wait to watch you grow up playing in that beautiful back yard.  So far, you’ve had no trouble getting used to the new house.  You love the fact that you can run around and around from the foyer to the dining room to the kitchen to the foyer to the dining room to the kitchen and so on. 

This month has also seen an increase in your vocabulary.  It seems like you’re adding new words everyday, sometimes every hour.  Recent additions include backpack (which comes out as pack-pack), blocks, up and down.  You’ve also been working on recognizing individual letters.  You can pick out Q, R, S, T, I, K, O and Y.  In fact, you like to “read” your Frosty the Snowman book while I change your diaper and will point out each letter (other than F) over and over again.  And when you want me to sing the alphabet song, you will say “Q? Y? Q? Y?” until I start singing, then tap your knuckles together in the sign for more as soon as I’m done. 

On your birthday this month, we went to the Strong National Museum of Play with both sets of grandparents.  Even though you were coming down with a cold, you still had a great time.  In fact, after spending over three hours there, you were the only one who wasn’t tired yet.  You loved running around playing in all the different areas from the child-sized Wegmans to the larger than life chess board.  When we went into the butterfly exhibit, you were absolutely thrilled. 

The only time I had my camera out this month was on your actual birthday while we were at the Strong Museum, so here’s a handful of my favorite shots from your big day.

I don’t know about you, but this has been the best two years of my life.

Love,
Mama

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1 year, 11 months

Dear Shobha,

This month has gone by in a blur.  And then some.  I’ve never been this late in sitting down to write your monthly letter.  But I promise you I have a good excuse.  See, there’s been some hub-bub around here that’s been taking up the vast majority of my attention lately.  What’s the hub-bub, you ask?  Well, in the next couple weeks we’re going to be leaving the area that you were born and raised in thus far and moving back to the Rochester area, where your mama and dada grew up.  Specifically, to the same town where Mama spent her entire childhood and good portions of her adulthood. 

This wasn’t an easy decision.  We’ve got some really great friends here and there’s a lot of kids your age and more babies on the way.  Since we’ve had you, though, we’ve really come to realize how very important it is to have family around.  Seeing you play with your grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins is something so valuable but was so rare while we were living in Albany.  Added to that, we never really connected with the Indian community in Albany so you weren’t getting much exposure to half of your heritage and culture, something that is very important to us. 

So while we’ll miss our friends here, we decided to move closer to family in Rochester.  And we’ll always be able to visit our good friends in Albany.

Big decisions aside, it’s been a little bit crazy and a whole lotta work this month selling one house, buying another, getting all the mortgage details in order, trying to get everything in place for the move, trying to do a little bit of packing, and still trying to maintain a functional, toddler-friendly house.  When you have an almost-two-year-old of your own we’ll revisit that last sentence and you’ll then understand.  Needless to say, you can unpack five times faster than I can pack.  And you can always find things to do while I’m otherwise occupied.

Besides the craziness of moving, this month has been fairly quiet as far as things go.  One new change though had much more impact than I thought it would.  All this time, I’d been letting your hair grow out so it would be long enough to just pull back.  Unfortunately, you didn’t like having your hair up in pigtails or pulled back in a clip.  You might tolerate them for a little while, if there was something sufficiently distracting around for you to play with.  But before too long, you would inevitably pull out the clips or hair bands, along with a fair handful of hair each time.  Then, once again, you’d be running around with your hair hanging in your face.

I finally decided this was a losing battle that I was fighting and gave in to the idea of getting your hair cut.  You weren’t quite sure what was going on, or why, but you sat nice and still for the hairdresser and let her wet down your hair and cut bangs.  It’s amazing to me the difference it makes in how you look.  You went from looking like a baby to very much looking like a little girl.  I almost cried the first day or two, trying to get used to this new little girl running around, but now I love how it looks and love that I can always see your beautiful face.

Speaking of running around, I’ve got to say that you sure do know how to move these days.  There’s hardly any walking anymore.  It’s all run, run, run!  From the kitchen, up the stairs, from room to room, up and down the driveway… Anywhere you go, you get there by running.  And I’ve also got to say, it’s really darn cute.

Very soon we’ll have a nice big house for you to run around and explore.  I can’t wait to see you in our new home.

Love,
Mama

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1 year, 10 months

Dear Shobha,

My oh my.  We are certainly getting closer to the Terrible Twos, aren’t we. 

It is rapidly becoming clear that while you have a very definite idea of what you want, you do not yet have the capability to adequately convey your thoughts into words.  You are, however, quite capable of “speaking” your mind.  I think I’ll let this picture speak for itself:

Now, I’ll admit something here.  I was starting to worry a bit about your meager vocabulary.  I was nervous enough to mention it to your pediatrician, who gave me a number to call if I decide I want to have you evaluated by a Speech Therapist.  Shortly thereafter, you started picking up new words each day. 

I’ll make another admission here.  I have to try harder.  I honestly don’t know if you’ve been trying to say more and I’m just too dense to translate Shobha-ese into English.  Just today though, in a matter of only a few hours, you added ball, bird, bunny and hat to your vocabulary.  And that’s after adding choo-choo yesterday.  Choo-choo is the only one that sounds like it’s supposed to though.  Ball is “bah”, bird is “bir”, hat is “haa” and bunny is “buh.”  At least you tried for bunny.  At your first sight of our neighbor’s bunny this afternoon your face lit up and you proudly declared, “Kitty!”

 As your mother, I am proud to see you developing a love for reading books.  Anyone who has more than a momentary passing knowledge of me knows that I love to read.  I am so delighted to see a blossoming love for books in you.  Everyday you gather up a stack of your favorites and we read the same books together over and over and over.  I’d also like to take this moment to point out that when I say that I devour books, I’m speaking in metaphor, and when I tell you, “Shobha, don’t eat your books!” I’m speaking quite literally.

As you get closer to your second birthday you’ve been pushing the limits of your abilities.  As of right now, every chair at the dining room table, other than the one I’m currently sitting on, is pushed at least three feet away from the table.  Three feet seems to be about the limit.  It takes you long enough to push the chair those three feet that I’m able to, usually, get to you in time to stop you.  If I don’t, you’re liable to push the chair just close enough so that you can climb up on it, reach over to the table, and nearly give me a heart attack thinking you’re going to slip, fall, and knock your teeth out on the edge of the table. 

In that same spirit of exploration, inventiveness and the all around fun of giving your mother a heart attack, you’ve been more and more spirited in your endeavors to learn your boundaries.  Boundaries which are often learned, I might add, by crossing them.  Most are relatively harmless, like your never-ending desire to see what’s on the other side of the bathroom door.  It’s always interesting to see what you’ll try next though, that’s for sure.

Despite all the temper tantrums and the death-defying inquisitiveness that are part and parcel of toddlerhood, there is so much joy in watching you learn and grow.  I love watching you color and read.  I love hearing you laugh just because you heard someone else laugh.  I love having you come around a corner and run right into my arms for a hug.  I love sharing my strawberry Häagen-Dazs with you and listening to your “mmmmm” after each bite.  I just love each and every day of being your mother.

Love,
Mama

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1 year, 9 months

Dear Shobha,

Before I became a mom I never realized how quickly children grow up.  I’ve had the experience of time flying, but it’s truly remarkable how much quicker time flies when it comes to your own children.  And I’m reminded of it each month when the 15th of the month arrives much more quickly than I expect and I find that, yet again, you are another month older already. 

Each month that passes it seems like you’ve grown so much.  I look back on the previous month’s letter each month before I sit down to write the latest update and I’m always amazed at how very different you are from the previous month and just how much you’re learned and changed.  I wish I could slow the time down and make each of these precious months last twice as long.

Last month you took your jammies off, this month you took your diaper off too.  I knew it was coming.  The first time it happened was while you were hanging out with Daddy.  You apparently decided to truly hang all out.  He said one minute you were fully dressed, the next minute he looked up and you were bare naked, jammies in a pile next to you and your diaper in a pile next to your jammies.  Thankfully, that time at least, it wasn’t a messy diaper.  You’ve managed to get your diaper off a few times since then before anyone noticed, but I’ve also managed to improve my hearing to the point that I can detect the nearly silent sound of the zipper on your jammies. 

Besides the obvious issues with static cling, you may notice in the above picture that you have a few extra teeth now.  Last month you just had those front four teeth on the top and the bottom.  This month you spent a couple cranky, drool-infused weeks cutting your molars and it’s remarkable how much more those teeth make you look like a big girl to me.  The first few days they were really obvious, I kept forgetting they were there and would think you had a wad of food crammed in your cheek anytime I saw that hint of white in the back of your mouth. 

While you still don’t have a large vocabulary, this last month has seen a significant change in your speech.  Last month you would mostly use single words at a time, other than the frequent occurence of “hi kitty” which I’m not entirely sure you realized was two separate words.  This month, however, you delight in using two word phrases.  My day is filled with you saying “oh, no!” and “nyum, nyum” (which is your way of saying you’re hungry) and “night, night.”  You’ve also added a few new words.  “Cuh” is for cookie, “buh” is for book, which you request every time you get your diaper changed I might add, and you love, love, love the word “two.”  I regularly count things for you, but you just love the number two.  If I’m counting with my fingers you’ll even push the third finger down and insist I remain at two. 

It’s amazing to watch you grow and to see your personality emerge every day.  You have distinct likes and dislikes and are blossoming into such a unique little girl.  You don’t like milk in a sippy cup, but love it out of a big-girl cup.  You absolutely refuse to eat anything mushy like mashed potatoes or applesauce.  You think when Mommy or Daddy say “Ow!” it’s just the funniest thing ever.  In fact, the only time I’ve seen you laugh at something on tv was when one of the characters on one of your morning cartoons, a talking dog named Martha, was in a cone and kept walking into her doggie-door and saying “ow!” over and over.  You thought that was the funniest moment in tv history.  And you love helping out around the house, even when your version of “helping” involves unfolding every item in a full laundry basket. 

These dark, dreary days in February are some of the hardest for me to get through each year, but having you around brightens up every day.  Thank you for being the light of my life.

Love,
Mama

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1 year, 8 months

Dear Shobha,

I can’t believe another month has flown by already.  This past month was so full of fun that the time just got away from me. 

Christmas was a few weeks ago.  It wasn’t your first Christmas, but it was significantly more entertaining than last year.  As soon as I brought you down to the living room Christmas morning, you noticed a little play kitchen that Santa had left for you.  For the next twenty minutes or more, nothing I did could distract you from that kitchen.  I tried tempting you with the piles of wrapped gifts for you but you just were not interested.  Once you discovered that you were not only allowed but encouraged to rip that wrapping paper off you showed much more interest.  And even better was that most of the presents you opened were actually for you! 

Instead of picking just one or two favorites, here are a handful of the best photos from this past Christmas.

By the time you were done tearing your way through all those presents, our little living room was buried in bits and pieces of wrapping paper, boxes and so many toys you didn’t even know where to start playing first.

As you get bigger, you’re really becoming such an adorable little girl.  Don’t get me wrong; you’ve always been adorable.  But as you get bigger, this amazing thing happens: your hair gets longer.  And you know what that means???  Pigtails!!  I just wish I could get you to sit still long enough for me to get your hair in pigtails more often, or when I did get them in, that you’d actually leave the rubber bands in your hair for more than an hour, at best. 

Lately you’ve also started singing along with your favorite morning cartoons.  I just noticed it a couple weeks ago.  You often dance along with the songs on “Sid the Science Kid” or “Curious George,” but just recently I noticed you making little “oo-oo-oo” noises along with the songs.  I gotta tell you, this is one of the cutest things of each day.  I wish I could get it on video, but as soon as you hear the beep of the camera starting recording, you stop whatever you’re doing, run over to me, and just reach up for the camera. 

For a little over a month now, you’ve been able to unsnap the top of your jammies and unzip them part way.  Just last week you managed to get your jammies off completely.  Much to my surprise, you ran up to me and threw your jammies on the floor as if they’d offended you in some way.  I’m reassured by other mommy friends that I’m lucky it’s only the jammies you took off and not your diaper too.  I’m sure that happy day will be fodder for a future monthly letter.

Other than the joys of the holidays, this month was a wonder in and of itself.  Your personality grows by leaps and bounds every day.  You are so inquisitive and playful and friendly, you are truly a joy to be around.  Whether our day is spent with you chasing me around the table over and over or watching you investigate the ladybug that somehow found her way into our powder room this month, I just love being your mother.

Love,
Mama

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1 year, 7 months

Dear Shobha,

If you’ll kindly look at the above title and please note your age.  Now, if you could stop acting like we’re well into the terrible twos, that would be great. 

I’m not sure when it started, but you’ve definitely been getting better and better at expressing your displeasure when you don’t get what you want.  I think the first full-fledged temper tantrum was during the week that we were at Grandma and Grandpa’s house for Thanksgiving.  We needed to go somewhere and I was trying to get you ready to go.  For whatever reason, I’m still not exactly sure what the reason was, you decided something was not to your liking and proceeded to have a fit.  After whining and crying and pulling at me for a solid half hour didn’t work, you actually got down on the floor on your belly and screamed and kicked your legs for all they were worth. 

Up until that point, I always thought that was an exaggeration.  I didn’t think kids actually did that.  You have proven me wrong.

Since then, you’ve thrown more than a handful of tantrums over the tiniest matters.  You haven’t gotten all the way to the floor in a kicking, screaming mess since Thanksgiving, but you do stand there, whining and crying, and stomping your little feet until I give in.  Which, just so you know, is not a good way to convince me to give in.  In fact, you can almost guarantee that I’ll do exactly the opposite of whatever it is that you want, just to be sure you don’t get the idea that your temper tantrums are actually working.  Just remember, you may have gotten your stubbornness from me, but I’ve got 30 plus years on you in which I’ve been perfecting my stubborn streak.  You are far more likely to get your way when you’re being cute than when you’re being miserable.

This past month you had your 18 month check-up.  You’re still at the very bottom of the growth chart, but you’re following a steady growth curve of your own so the doctor isn’t worried.  She was pleased with your progress and is happy to hear you’re enjoying eating real foods more than toddler foods.  It used to be easy to just pop open a Gerber container of toddler food and set that out for your lunch or dinner.  Not any more.  You now want real food, not mushy food.  You’re so opposed to mushy foods that you immediately spit out anything with a mushy texture.  Mashed potatoes, applesauce, or anything like that is just not to your liking.  Thankfully, you’re a huge fan of most vegetables we’ve given you so at least that’s not a battle.  Yet. 

I must admit though, the older and more independent you get, the messier mealtime becomes.  You are now fully sufficient at feeding yourself, but most of the time it is not a neat and orderly affair.  You enjoy having a spoon or fork, but it’s mostly for decoration I think.  You’ll hold the spoon in one hand, while feeding yourself with the fingers of the other hand.  It won’t be cute as a teenager, but it’s adorable right now. 

This technique of yours has prompted me to take some preemptive measures when it comes to mealtime, particularly breakfast.  Not only do you hold the spoon in one hand while eating from the other hand, but you also will only take a few bites from the bowl then dump the entire bowl of cereal onto your highchair tray and eat it from there.  It only took a couple times of you doing this for me to learn to let your Cheerios soak up a bunch of milk then drain the rest of the milk off before giving you your bowl.  It’s still a mess, but at least now it’s not quite as bad.

While technically last winter was your first winter, this winter is by far more interesting because you are now much more aware and interactive.  Well before the first flakes of the season fell, your Grandma bought you a cute little snowpants and jacket set.  As is much of your wardrobe, it is a soft shade of pink.  All bundled up in both pants and jacket, you look like the cutest little Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, only shorter, and pink. 

Last week we had a small storm blow through the area that dumped a few inches of snow on us.  It was the first significant snow of the season.  After the storm passed, I bundled us both up and took you out to introduce you to snow.  We went out to the backyard and I put you down in the snow.  At first, you were definitely less than impressed.  You looked around and frowned and held your arms out to be picked back up.  After some prompting you slowly became more comfortable and I was able to get a few smiles out of you. 

This last month you’ve been working harder and harder at learning how to communicate.  You’ve moved on from the days when Dada was all you said all day long.  You now say Mama when talking to me, or trying to get my attention, or when waiting for food, or when you want out of your highchair, or any number of other situations in which you think I can help.  Except you don’t just say Mama.  You say, quite clearly, “MA!MA!”  I can distinctly hear the capital letters and exclamation points in it when you call for me. 

You’ve also learned words like “please” and “touch” and even though you don’t know the words, you mimic my inflection at times.  I often ask you throughout the day, “What are you doing?”  Every time, I use the same inflection.  Lately, you’ve been repeating the sound I make when I say that, even though you don’t have the words for it yet.  In fact, you’ve become so skilled at speaking just through inflection alone that your father and I are often laughing just at your tone of voice.  You may not have the words yet, but we can already tell you have a great sense of humor.

For each temper tantrum you throw, you make me laugh and smile far more each and every day. 

Love,
Mama

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1 year, 6 months

Dear Shobha,

I can sum up this month in one word: NO!

One day you figured out how to say the word no and that’s been your favorite word ever since.  The first few days you just wandered around the house practicing your new word. 

“No.  No?  No.  No. No.  No?  No!” 

The best part has been experimenting to see if you really understand what you’re saying.  Today we had this conversation:

“Shobha, does the kitty say moo?”

“No.”

Does the doggy say moo?”

“No.”

“Does the bunny say moo?”

“No.”

“Does the cow say moo?”

“No.”

Maybe you don’t understand what I’m saying and just feel obligated to answer.  It’s just so cute to see you shake your head and say no, I kept asking all sorts of silly questions just to hear you say no.  I’m sure the novelty will wear off soon enough.  I might as well enjoy it while it’s still cute.

The other thing you learned to say pertains to food.  I haven’t decided yet if you’re saying “nom” or “yum” but whenever you’re hungry, you look around the kitchen saying it over and over.  Some days it sounds like “nom, nom, nom” and other days it’s clearly “yum, yum, yum.”  I still haven’t figured out how you came up with it but your meaning is clear. 

Shobha 093

Halloween was just a couple weeks ago and this year it was easy coming up with the best costume for you.  It was your first word after all.  Kitty! 

I found a simple black turtleneck shirt, a pair of black pants, a set of kitty ears on a headband and a black velour tail.  I drew on a little black nose and a few whiskers on each cheek and you were the cutest little kitty I’ve ever seen. 

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The older you get, the faster it seems I have to be.  You’ve definitely mastered walking and are now running.  It’s remarkable how quickly you can cross a room.  And it’s not just running.  You now can climb on the couch, climb on the dining room chairs, and have even tried climbing over the back of the couch or from the dining room chairs to the dining room table. 

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As the weather turns colder I’ve been taking you to places like the mall or the museum so you can run around and burn off some of your energy.  The other day we met a friend of mine and her almost-two-year-old daughter at the museum for a playdate and the two of you had a great time running all over the place.  You found a set of three steps with a ramp running along side it and Ann and I just watched the two of you run up and down the ramp and steps over and over.  I think we’ll be spending a lot more time at the museum this winter. 

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In the last few months your hair has started getting so long.  I’m trying to let it all grow out so I can pull it back into pigtails for you or braid it to keep it off your face.  In the meantime, I spend most of my days brushing your hair out of your eyes.  I bought adorable little bow clips, which you’ll allow me to put in your hair if you’re immediately distracted with other things, but as soon as your hands are idle, they end up in your hair pulling out your little bows. 

Likewise, when I’m not paying enough attention at lunchtime and you’ve decided you’re done eating, as soon as your hands are done scooping food into your mouth, they go straight to your hair, often with lunch still all over them.

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And don’t worry, I’ll be sure to save that last picture for when your future dates come over.

Love,
Mama

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