In March, our little Lara turned one year old. It's been such a delight to see this little girl change from a calm, quiet and observant baby into a squealing, giggling, trouble making toddler. While sometimes I think nostalgically about the days where she couldn't walk or move or climb (such simpler times!), I'm so glad to see her growing up and becoming who she is.
How can I capture this lovely little girl for someone who has never met her? I'll start with her appearance. Lara has light brown hair speckled with gold. Within the past few months her hair has grown long enough that we can see little curls forming at the base of her head and around her ears. She has eyes that shift from blue to green depending on the light and what she's wearing. She has perpetually rosy cheeks and the most impish little smile. When she laughs, her nose and eyes crinkle and her eight teeth shine.
Lara is sweet and loving. She frequently tries to share what she has, for example, trying to feed you a soggy cookie that she's been carrying around for an hour. She loves to give open mouth kisses and lay her head on your knee or shoulder or chest. Like most babies, she thrives on physical contact so she will play contently by herself but only if you're within cuddling distance and she will watch TV but only if she's sitting on your lap. One of my favorite things is when she brings me a book she wants me to read her (she's obsessed with being read to lately), she'll crawl into my lap, open my hand, put the book in it, and snuggle against my chest ready to listen.
She lights up whenever she sees her father or her brother or me and she loves to be where the action is. If the Professor and Roman are playing a raucous game of Dragon vs Brave Knight, Lara has to be not just on the stands watching but right in the middle taking it all in. If Roman has a friend over from school, Lara just has to be where the big kids are. In fact, she thinks she IS one of the big kids and it frustrates her endlessly that she can't keep up. If Roman climbs up a ladder or jumps onto the bed, Lara is right on his tail.
Having a big brother is probably a pretty big contributor to Lara's fearlessness. I used to describe her to people as a pretty calm baby with a very steady temperament but my how she's changed. She is active, curious, rebellious, and very stubborn. We've seen her dissolve into hysterical tears because she can't figure out how to work a toy or open a drawer. When interacting with other, even bigger kids, Lara will frequently growl like a lion to intimidate her opponent and she has on one occasion bitten her brother out of sheer temper. Sometimes when I hear the expression, "like taking candy from a baby" I have to laugh a little because I pity the person who dares take anything from Lara.
Of course, all interactions with her brother are not confrontational. There was a brief period when Lara was around nine months old when the Professor and I did our best to keep the kids in separate spaces to minimize the number of squabbles. It was too tiresome every day to hear Roman complain about Lara destroying his Lego towers or taking apart his train tracks so she could give every piece the taste test. We split them up whenever they were both home and Roman played in his room and Lara in the living room. Fortunately, the kids have adapted to one another's pace recently and can now play together more serenely without the Professor and I having to jump in and arbitrate every five minutes. That's not to say they don't want their own private time with no sibling around. As a matter of fact at least once a day, Roman picks his sister up and physically escorts her out of his room to the living room where he dumps her gently but unceremoniously on the couch, then races back to his room and slams the door. The Professor and I always joke that Lara's like the under-aged girl that keeps getting bounced out of the nightclub where the cool kids are hanging out.
When they're not in each other's hair, Roman and Lara are so sweet to watch. Roman makes her laugh hysterically when he imitates the things she does like bang on the table or make clicking noises with his tongue. He also loves to jump and dance around and act like a fool and she loves to watch him do it. My father noticed when he was here a few weeks ago, that Lara instantly brightens in her brother's presence even if he's not doing anything funny. Seeing him smile and laugh makes her do the same.
When she learned how to walk, a few weeks before her first birthday, she took tiny little steps with her arms spread out at her sides for balance. Now, with more practice under her belt, she takes bigger, more confident steps but she still tends to keep her arms raised and outstretched making her look like she's preparing for a Scarer Class at Monster University. She loves to totter around the house, picking up objects on the floor and depositing them in different places around the house such as the bathtub and the washing machine.
Apart from walking, her motor skills are coming along just fine. She can climb stairs, spin in a circle, get on and off the bed or couch safely and recently she learned how to dance. Of course for a one year old "dancing" is really just doing a few squats to the rhythm of the music while clapping your hands and giggling. The first time we saw her butt shaking skills was when we watched Moana and she still loves that movie and can watch it everyday (and sometimes does). She doesn't have the attention span to watch an entire movie or even a TV show yet but she absolutely loves music of any kind, and she gets quite a variety at home. I tend to play her classic music, her father plays her the Red Hot Chili Peppers and her brother often requests the music from the movie SING so I guess you could say we're covering all the bases.
Shortly after Lara turned one year old, she decided to quit breastfeeding cold turkey. It was quite a surprise for me and I have to say that I felt a little rejected that she didn't seem to want what was only days before one of her favorite things. But she was a year old after all and has a great diet so I didn't have to worry that she wasn't getting the nutrients she needed. I also realized that I should be grateful I didn't have to impose it on her as I did with her brother who had to be nudged off the breast at 16 months old. (Sidenote: I don't know why it's easy to accept intellectually that every baby is different but we still get surprised when our babies actually ARE different).
One of the funniest but most exasperating things Lara does is what we call the "monster routine". At every meal time, Lara is overcome with enthusiasm to eat and she growls and fusses until we give her food. She bangs the table to get our attention and squirms in her highchair, so very desperate to eat. Once she has a spoonful of food in her mouth, she gulps it down and instantly starts demanding the next bite. It's a pretty funny routine for outsiders but it's kind of annoying for the Professor and I and also a bit embarrassing when we're eating at someone's house or at a restaurant and we have to keep apologizing for bringing a baby Tasmanian devil to dinner. At least she's got a healthy appetite! :)
A few more of Lara's favorite things:
Bath time with her brother
The swing at the park
Being upside down
Foods: strawberries, raisins, chickpeas, ham, cheese, lentils, green beans, blueberries, grapes, green olives, any meat, yogurt
A couple of things she dislikes:
Food: creamed soups, tortillas, bananas, watermelon.
The doctor's office
Her medication for bronchitis which she's had four times now
Not being held
So that's it. That's my best attempt to capture our Lara at one year old. I'm so excited to see how she grows and changes in the coming months.
Love you so much darling girl!