When Alice was born, I began to write to her. Just little things; how she looked, what she did, how she changed, how we loved her. Little did I know what a gift it would turn out to be - for both of us. I can look back and read about all those "little things" (that are now worth more than anything) and marvel at how quickly I had forgotten them. Luckily for me, the weakest pen-stroke is stronger than the best memory. Someday I'll give her these journals so she can read about all her silly, messy, adorable stories. I hope she's overwhelmed with how much we love her and how much everyone else loves her.
Now, after two years of writing, I have filled the pages of one non-descript kraft-brown moleskin and am marking up another.
Below are just a few of my favorite excerpts from entries of Alice's life as a one-year old. Enjoy her little snippets :)
"This morning I was working in the kitchen and heard you grunting for a while in the dining room. When I finally turned to look, you were seated perfectly in a dining room chair, eating cheerios off the table. The age of climbing has begun :)" - 8.22.13
"The other morning we were playing in the playroom and I was resting my head on a pillow when all of a sudden you plopped a pillow right down next to mine, laid your head on it, and smiled at me." - 9.6.13
"When we go to the grocery store, you are your most charming self, waving graciously to all your subjects, captivating them as I push you in your shopping cart - I mean, chariot ;) They adore you and my heart wells up and bursts when I see how unreservedly friendly and without bias you give your smiles and cheer. The other day at Runza, you toddled right up to an elderly handicapped man with a big smile on your face and patted him on the knee. Oh Alice, you inspire me. So innocent. You don't see him as the world sees him - you see him as God sees him. You just love to love and I love that about you. What a perfect reminder for me." - 9.8.13
"You like to play with my paint brushes. I usually set the pitcher of them on the floor for you to unload, touch, and inevitably taste. After a while, you bring one to me, brandishing it about like a sword, the bristles soggy from your taste-test." - 9.10.13
"When you come across a piece of fabric, you tuck it under your chin and hold it there, pinned against your chest. When you play with your dollies you pat them gently on the back. You also bring me things and say "heeygo" (here you go) and then turn around and promptly leave." - 9.16.13
"This morning you were devious and adorable. You were throwing food off your tray - very intentionally - and I said "no" with my stern-mommy-face. You gave me your best winning smile and I caved after 5 seconds. I couldn't help but smile. Alice: 1, Mommy: 0. I'll have to work on my stare-down or you'll never take me seriously.
Also today, I went to fold you in a hug and I noticed a big sticky green booger on your cheek. Before I could do anything, you wrapped your arms around my neck, burrowing your face in my hair. Panicked, I pulled you back and to my horror found that the booger was no longer on your face. I frantically searched my long tresses, but alas, it was swallowed up. Thank goodness for showers." - 9.26.13
"This afternoon we had a big tickle/giggle/pillow fight on the couch. You would no sooner sit up and poof! - you'd pitch yourself head first into a pillow, bursting into a fit of giggles. I loved all 10 minutes of it." - 9.26.13
"One of the things I love that you do is you'll walk around the house, swinging your arms back and forth, like 'hey guys! whatcha doin'?'" - 9.27.13
"Boy, have we been busy! Last week we picked apples with our friends at the local orchard and then the day after that we went to Vala's Pumpkin Patch with daddy, Gramma Jo, and Aunt Lynnie. It was a warm and windy fall day. You had your first train ride and then bounced on the giant inflatable "pillows" - that was your favorite. We ate hot dogs and frito pies for lunch, petted some goats (and pumpkins), ate apple cider donuts for a treat and walked around all the attractions. By 3, you had had enough (and so had I) so we bought kettle corn for the road and packaged you up. You slept all the way home and then another 2.5 hours in your crib.
This morning we ran errands on the bike, going to the post office, the bank (visited Aunt Lynnie and her co-workers who love to see you), popped over the Jim & Connie's bakery to share a bag of donut holes (the old men love to see you, too - everyone does), and then played at the library for a bit before you decided it was time for a diaper change and "niy-niy." We also had fun stomping around in the crunchy leaves collecting in the parking lot there and throwing them. I am so excited to share the fall with you!" -10.17.13
"It's November today! October went by so fast. We've been enjoying the fall - playing outside touching and crunching leaves, drinking copious amounts of hot chocolate, baking cookies, wearing hats and mittens, listening to jazz, and enjoying the change in color on the trees. I've been busy with photoshoots - 8 in the last couple of weeks! It's been good business and a gift from God. Daddy says you're a giggle bug and you've been talking lots. We dogpile on him when he gets home from work, talk about our days, make pillows of each other and give you zerberts and kisses and snuggles. You love it - and so do we." - 11.10.13
"You and daddy are quite a pair. He taught you how to ride piggy back which is now your preferred method of transportation when descending the stairs. Two days ago while I was giving an art lesson, you two went downstairs to play. Daddy got out his guitar and started to play for you, but you came over to him, put your hand on the strings and exclaimed "all done" while shaking your head. Ha! That night you laid on his chest and snuggled there for a while. I love seeing you together. What a sweet duo you two make." -12.1.13
"You try to put pants on even if you're already wearing some. Yesterday I caught you more than once sitting on the table, munching on a cracker, trying to stick a spoon in the salt shaker. You're cute. You love to "tickle" our feet and we squeal to encourage you. You say 'hi hi hi hi.' I love you." -12.6.13
"You love playing peek-a-boo. I was reading on the couch the other day and you came over, hid on one side, ducking down and then popping up, shouting "boo!" with a huge smile of delight on your face. Then you climbed up, hid under my blanket and then pulled it off, throwing back the covers, revealing that same smiled accompanied by another gleeful "boo!" "Where did Alice go?" I'd reply in mock earnestness. You'd giggle under the covers, pop out again with a "boo!" and say "aredAligo?" You're trying to say your name!
You don't always listen so well, though. There are two things you get into now and somehow you magically can't hear me warning or reprimanding you. Like, you don't even turn around to mischievously acknowledge that you know you're getting into something. The trash and the toilet paper are you current kryptonites. You stand at the roll, picking off pieces to put in your mouth and then unroll a long swath of it, all the while ignoring my "Alice. Alice. Alice, no-no. Alice. Alice! No!!!" I try to give you a chance to listen and stop, but you usually don't with these two. I then have to come in, say no-no again and then remove you from the situation by picking you up and depositing you somewhere else to distract you from the luring temptation of toilet paper tasting. You'll thank me someday, but definitely not right now. This usually ends in you kicking and bucking to get free while voicing your extreme displeasure at my interference and a few tears and fussing. I know - I'm so mean ;)" -12.11.13
"This afternoon, you came to grab my hand, saying "come" while leading me into the living room. There, dancing on the walls were dozens of patches of rainbows. You were in absolute awe of the little colors moving this way and that. You wanted to touch them, catch them, and then you got curious and tried to smell and taste one on my hand with a tentative sniff and lick.The amazement on your face as you registered the newness and beauty of refracted light reminded me to slow down and re-discover the world through your eyes. Your innocent, observant, awe-filled eyes. Thanks for reminding me, Alice." -12.31.13
"You like to "paint" things with my brushes - including the vacuum cleaner. I was vacuuming yesterday and you walked up to it really slowly and then with a smile, struck out and touched it with your brush, exclaiming 'I got it!'" - 2.17.14
"Alice, you're going to be a big sister! Upon learning there is a baby in my belly last friday, you paused, lifted up my shirt, and then laid your head on my tummy, wrapping your arms around me. It was such a sweet moment :) You're going to be a wonderful big sister and helper. I'm always amazed at your comprehension of things. It makes me sad, though, to think of our special Alice-Mama time coming to a close. You are my firstborn. My focus has been nothing but you for two years and I've loved it. You will always be special to me in a way your other siblings can't be because you were first and because I got to spend so much time with you, uninterrupted. I will love them as much as I love you, but you are special, Dear One." -3.6.14
"You're so cute in the garden - "digging" some dirt and rocks and plucking grass. We have to focus on keeping the rocks in the rocks and the dirt in the dirt, though - you like mixing them. And plucking the heads off the chives. A robin landed nearby and you said "Birdie! I'm gonna go pet it, OK?" You were absolutely miffed when it flew off." - 5.7.14
"The other night, you woke up crying at 9:30 p.m., so I got you and we all rocked on the porch swing for a while in the humid, warm air. There was a storm coming so we listened to the thunder and watched lightning crack open the sky. You were a sweaty little bug but insisted on being wrapped in your blanket cocoon anyway. You fell asleep there in my arms. It was quiet and still except for the thunder. Then I laid you back down in your crib. I remember thinking what a magical moment it was." - 5.12.14
"Laying next to you on the floor just now, you tucked me in with your zebra blanket and kissed my forehead and said "I luboo, Mama!" like you were putting me down for a nap. :D Of, how you make my heart melt! "I don't know, Mama" is a favorite of mine. Sometimes I say "oh no" or drop something in the kitchen and you say (with a very concerned voice) "are you okay, Mama?" So sweet and blue for sure. Alice, I love you. You make life so much more "alive." Full and sweet and joyous - that's what life with you is like. I luboo, Alice. XOXO Mama" -7.3.14