she's one.

To my Elle Belle on your first birthday:

Oh how I love you through and through. I wish I could say that you are the easy baby everyone predicted you'd be, but you really aren't. You are strong-willed and stubborn, just like your sisters. You must get that from me. I hope you grow out of it sooner than I did. I see progress in the other two so I know you'll be just fine. In time, you'll learn the cool, calm ways of your father, and you'll learn it really is easier just to be happy (your father reminds me of this everyday and I'm still learning).

Honestly, I believe you have to be strong-willed to make it out alive when it comes to your sisters. They are relentless and rough in ways I wish I could change, but I can't. No matter how many times I ask them to put you down gently or not to pick you up at all, you always end up on your head or your back in a fit of tears. You are learning to fight back. You grunt and scowl every time Mya or V try to do something you don't want them to do. They ignore you, but they won't be able to for long.

You are a picky eater, a carnivore in fact. You'll have nothing to do with fruits or vegetables; you're a meat and potatoes kinda gal. I've started to trick you into eating fruits and veggies by tossing them in shakes, which you are fed daily just so I can feel better about how much protein you pack on those thighs. I do believe if you could name your favorite food, you'd choose Oreo milkshakes. We really should just hook you up to an IV that streams milkshakes all day long. You'd be in heaven.

You dislike any high chair and scream at the top of your lungs any time you are left in it for more than five minutes. I don't like your screaming. It is probably the one thing you do that I really, really dislike. I'd do anything just to make you not scream at me, and I think you know that so you scream even more. Ugh. Let's not go there. I just hope you grow out of it before I lose my mind. And let me tell you, my mind is teetering at the moment.

Belle, you are not in a hurry to grow out of babyhood, and that suits me just fine. While you are standing alone and walking a few steps here and there, you are happy crawling. You can get just about anywhere without my help. Just today I found you climbing up onto the couch without any help. You have nursed the entire year. You have not had one ounce of formula (to my knowledge), and not that there is anything wrong with formula (both your other sisters were formula fed), it has just been an amazing journey to share with you. I'm not really sure how to end it so we'll just leave it at that.

You don't really say words yet, mostly screams and mumbles of consonant sounds. You don't do or say anything on command so no matter how hard I work with you on simple sounds or actions, you just won't do it. You just stare blankly into my face and look at me so stubbornly with those big blue eyes. You know when you're being a stinker, and you have this face that lets me know you know. It's not really a smile or a grin, and it's not really a frown--you just make your lips straight and flat and only the edges curl up. It is my favorite. I have a hard time not laughing when you do it, and you do it a lot. You also have a fantastic happy face. One that makes everyone smile because they catch a glimpse of those six white square teeth that stare back at them. And oh do you have a pathetic frown. It's amazing how early you caught onto the frown and the whine. You even fold your arms when you are disgusted with something I do. You are just like your sisters.

What else can I say? You have always been a fantastic sleeper, once we got you sleeping through the night. You nap like a champ and sleep for 12-13 hours each night. You don't like to be swaddled anymore. You hardly like me singing you to sleep. You just arch your back toward the crib and beg me to put you down quickly. You don't love to be loved. Too many squeezes and kisses just make you mad, but I give them to you anyway. You love your mom, but you will go to other people if I am not around. You also adore your dad and crawl quickly to the stairs while shrieking with delight when you hear the front door open. I love that moment. Oh Elle, if you could only know how much daddy loves you. He really does.

You also love music. It calms you instantly. Your favorite song at the moment is "Zoom, zoom." I taught you how to end the song with your arms up in the air, but of course you won't do it if I ask you to. You only do it when you want to do it, but when you do...oh how I love it.

I have loved this year with you. It has been incredibly difficult because of all the other things that have been thrown on the plate, but you have always been a joy in my life. I have probably loved your infancy the most because I didn't have to divide it between school, work, a miscarriage, depression, etc. I have just been blessed to love you completely. And I really do.

You--your eyes--your sweet, silly grin fill my world with light. Onwards and upwards...I know this will be a fantastic year as we watch you grow.


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