I’ve started this blog post a couple of times – a few days ago I drafted an intro about how grand life is at the moment, how we’ve fallen into such a good rhythm and how Juliette and I are enjoying each other’s company more than ever.  And then came Friday, when Juliette woke up super-early and wailed because I gave her the wrong spoon to eat her yogurt and whacked me in the face each time I carried her upstairs to change her diaper and shrieked like a banshee when I told her she couldn’t play in the shower.  Forget grand.  Some days, parenthood sucks the life right out of you.  We’re back on the upswing now, so I figure I should get this post published while I still have mostly nice things to say about my daughter.  Here goes:

Most significantly, she started at a new school last week!  When Juliette moved to a noon-time nap schedule and I stopped visiting her during my lunch hour, Shane and I started to feel like having her downtown, close to our offices, probably wasn’t worth the big cost premium.  We put our names on a waitlist at a daycare a little closer to home and found out in January that they had an opening.  It was harder than we expected to say good-bye to her teachers and buddies at her old classroom – I didn’t realize how much they had come to mean to her (and to me) until we were faced with the fact that those people won’t really be a part of our lives anymore.  Our farewells left me feeling incredibly sad.  I felt like I was tearing Juliette away from people she loved without being able to make her understand why.  Add to my sadness and guilt a case of extreme anxiety over the fact that she is in the midst of some serious separation anxiety, crying uncontrollably when I move out of her sight for more than a second, fiercely protesting when we try to leave her at Sunday school or with friends.  And now we were going to dump her in a brand new school with a bunch of strangers?  I tossed and turned the night before her first day, wondering if we’d made a monumental mistake, and…oh man, that first day.  The moment we stepped into her new classroom, she turned to me and clung tightly to my legs, begging me not to leave.  We read a few books together and I put on my most excited face about all her new buddies and toys, but she was hip to my tricks – she eyed everyone and everything warily, refusing to move from the safe space of my lap.  I had no choice but to cut and run.  I kissed her, told her I’d see her that evening, and walked out as she began to cry and my own eyes welled up with tears.  Shane held her for awhile longer as she sobbed into his chest, but we both knew no amount of lingering was going to make this any easier.  He passed her off to her teacher and made his exit, his eyes also swimming in sadness.  That walk down the hall to the front door, the sound of Juliette’s screaming ringing in our ears, were some of the hardest steps we’ve ever taken.  Our poor baby!  How would she ever make it through the day?!  The director of the daycare called me later that morning and I braced myself for bad news when I saw her number pop up on my phone.  But PRAISE THE LORD, Juliette was having an “amazing” morning!  She had settled down pretty quickly, enjoyed an outing to the playground, and was contentedly eating lunch as we spoke.  I thanked the director profusely and breathed a huge sigh of relief, feeling my doubt and worry melt away.  The drop-offs were progressively easier on Tuesday and Wednesday and I could see that Jules was already starting to bond with her teachers.  She surprisingly adaptable, that girl.  That said, Wednesday evening couldn’t come fast enough – it felt so good to walk out of there with her in my arms and assure her that she had a few solid days of mama-time ahead of her!

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In other exciting developments, after several weeks of smacking me in the face and giggling every time I asked for a kiss, she’s finally got a proper pucker down, complete with the sweetest little lip smack.

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In general, she’s seemed more affectionate lately – she was quick to give this abandoned Ironman action figure a hug and a few pat-pats when we visited the coffee shop last week.

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Why use a table when papa’s belly is the perfect surface for typing or coloring or playing the drums?

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She’s learned a host of new words this month:  ow-shy? (outside?); mo-mo-mo! (more!); show-ah (shower); show-ah (flower, too); and sorr-rry (but only when I tell her to say it…).  She’s also way into animal sounds – her birdy impersonation is classic.

She loves to have her belly kissed, laughing hysterically as I nuzzle into her tummy.

She also loooooves shoes, perpetually pulling my boots out of my closet when we’re upstairs and struggling to sink her feet into them.

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Yes, I’m aware that it might be time to retire that “dress” that used to come down to her knees!

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When living room fashion shows lose their charm, we look for new places to pass the rainy wintertime afternoons.  We visited Seattle Gymnastics a couple of weeks ago and let Juliette run wild on the floor mats and balance beam and runway trampoline.  She had a blast.

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We also discovered the toddler gym at Garfield Community center – tricycles and scooters galore!

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The Columbia City Library is a new favorite – we pop in for the Saturday morning storytime or swing by on our way to the bakery to pick up a couple of books.

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And then there are the days when, rain be danged, we just have to get outside, so Jules sports her yellow boots and we walk around the block to get the wiggles out.

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We’ve been making good on my resolution to do a new art project each week – we made play-dough one Friday afternoon and did a little sculpting.  I made a worm, a hot dog, and a snake.  And then Juliette tried to eat them.

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Before you declare me super-mom, with our storytime and homemade play-dough, know that this has also been the month that Juliette discovered Sesame Street.  Some days, I can’t help but call on Elmo to give me a break…

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And thank heavens for her continued love of books.

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Shane and I took Juliette out for her first round of frisbee golf on Friday.  She needs to work on her form a little bit, but she wins major points for style!

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Oh, the way that girl struts her stuff!  Kills me.

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Happy 17 months, goofball!