23 months!  It’s hard to believe that Juliette’s second birthday is right around the corner.  On the other hand, with all the cognitive and verbal strides she’s made this past few weeks, she hardly feels like a one-year old any more.  She’s chatting like crazy and it’s fun to finally get a glimpse of what’s running through her head.  We were driving to the park last week when I asked her what she was thinking about.  Her response: “Opp-o-tus swim in water, mama!  Pretzels, please?”

She’s a full-fledged sponge, picking up new words every day and thrilled with herself when she’s able to put them to use.  She loves drawing and naming shapes and went a little nuts when she realized that the world is full of octagons in the form of stop signs – every time we roll to a stop now, she excitedly points out the window at the stop sign and shouts, “ANUDDER OCTAGON!”

She has a host of new interests – after several months of neglecting her doll, she’s back into playing mama, so sweetly giving her baby a bottle and then picking her up and gently patting her back for burps afterward.

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She loves helping me in the kitchen and was stoked when I let her sit on the counter and mix the ingredients for pancakes.  Messiest breakfast ever – that extra “help” comes at a cost!

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Despite her total disregard for cleanliness in the kitchen, she does seem to have a knack for organizing and order.  Her new favorite pastime is pulling all of my nail polish bottles out of the bathroom drawer and then lining them up one-by-one on our windowsill, making sure each label is facing the same way just-so.  Once they’re all lined up, she puts them in my purse, slings it over her shoulder, and says “Bye-bye!  See you later!”  She returns 7 seconds later, having gone no farther than the hallway, and then repeats the routine again, carefully arranging each and every bottle.  It’s pretty great – I stayed in bed almost an hour yesterday morning while she did this bit several times over.

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She’s really into hunting for things and adores her new Elmo book, which is kind of a toddler’s Where’s Waldo – the hours we’ve spent looking for all 10 popsicles on these two pages!  Her counting skills could use a little work, but at least she’s consistent, always ticking off “one, two, three, five, seven, MUNTY! (twenty?)”.

And the jumping!  So much jumping these days.  Girl can get some height!

She’s a social butterfly through and through, ecstatic when she gets a chance to ditch mama for a bit and hang with her buddies.

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I helped out as a chaperone on her class field trip to the zoo last Wednesday, and wowwwwwweeeeee!  What an adventure.  It was kind of fun, climbing onto the bus with her classmates and grabbing a seat next to La Verne and Nico.

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But once we climbed off the bus and all 19 toddlers were officially un-confined, I got a little anxious.  They were like an unpredictable, feisty hive of bees in their matching yellow t-shirts.  I was put in charge of Juliette and one other little boy, and I’m pleased to say that I didn’t lose either one of them, but it seemed that every time I looked around, a child was crying or trying to climb over a railing or resolutely sitting down in the middle of the path.  My blood pressure was through the roof by the time we all convened for lunch.  Jules, on the other hand, had a grand time – she’s been talking about those monkeys and giraffes for days!

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A rare moment of compliance as we headed back to the bus (although look at Juliette’s bottom lip – she was none too pleased about leaving!):

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Thursdays are as good as ever (and comparatively quiet, after that field trip!), as we work our way through our list of to-visit parks and playgrounds.  We hit Northacres last week, swinging and sliding and running and jumping.

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Happy 23 months, baby-cakes!  I sure love hangin’ with you.

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