As I look in the mirror this morning, I still see the remnants of a black eye on the right side of my face, compliments of my now 18-month-old. So, you might think I am a little crazy when I say that though I’ve found joy in all stages of babyhood from newborn to crawling and walking, I do have to say that this new toddler-hood stage is by far my favorite. Vesna has turned into a strong-willed miniature version of us both that has us constantly entertained and at times holding our laughter back as we try our best to keep a serious look on our faces. Her big (now full on teeth-y) grin and big embrace on weekend mornings or post nap when we go into the room to greet her have made me cry out of pure happiness on several occasions. To this day, I still look at her as she sleeps hugging her blanky and right when I think I couldn’t possibly love something more, I become even more madly in love with her.
Vesna has developed two very distinctive personalities– a mischievous and rumbustious one at home and with dedo, baka, tetka and cuko Sammy, and a quiet, more serious one when she is out and about and around other people – the girl will not even crack a single smile. Not even for the kind cash register worker she sees at the North Market on a weekly basis and who alas now always refers to her as the shy girl. In addition to beating up mommy, we love to chase one another in circles around the kitchen/living room as she squeals and giggles out loud. As soon as we are not giving her attention, she starts to climb on things and then mischievously laughs when we start freaking out and running towards her. Although she has plenty of toys to keep her occupied, her favorite items to play with include: a piece of string around a cardboard circle that she drags all over the house, an old box of my pictures (Hello Spring Break 2009 and old memories I now relive every single day); old clothes that she meticulously takes out of storage bins and folds and then puts back in, Sammy’s leashes, and can’t forget playing in the sink with water until I have to drag her away as she kicks and screams – goes to show that kids don’t need any fancy toys to play with.
As of last couple of months, she’s learned to close doors behind her using the door knob and will on occasion run to our bedroom where we all sleep, turn on the humidifier and her sleep machine, climb on the bed and slam the door behind her as if to say “privacy please!”. Or on weekend mornings as Jason and I are still waking up, she will leave the room, closing the door behind her ever so quietly as we listen to her in the kitchen getting the pots and pans ready for breakfast. Most recently, she closed the door behind her in the upstairs bathroom and pushed the button on the doorknob locking herself in. At first, I though she was just holding on to the doorknob and I couldn’t turn it before quickly realizing that the door has a lock and she had locked herself in. We slowly started to panic and sensing it, she started to panic too. Jason ran all over the house, found an old box of keys the previous homeowners left behind for us (bless them for being so organized), all labeled as something else. As Jason ran back down to find something to break open the door with, I tried all the keys until finally, the one labeled ‘side door’ opened the bathroom door and we hugged and cried for an hour. We have now learned to keep that key right next to the door and within our immediate reach. Never a dull moment with our girl.
I no longer know what it feels like to use the toilet in private as she is always there or will come barging in and laughing as soon as I think ‘ah finally some peace and quiet’. Though on occasion I get a little bruised up, the little moments when she’s playing with my hair, scratching my back or removing a strain of hair from my face make me indescribably happy. In the 18 months that we’ve been with our girl, we’ve only been one night apart to mark our 4th wedding anniversary and we are perfectly okay with that. Everything we do has come to be a full family affair.
Though she’s still not talking (at least nothing we can yet decipher as there is plenty of jabbering), she understands numerous words and commands (like ‘let’s go upstairs’ or ‘let’s go by-bye’) and is constantly pointing to things around the house. She knows most of her body parts, like when I ask her “Vesna, where are your piggies?” (see photo below) or “Gdje je pupa?” (belly). Our entertainment these days is filled with songs, dancing and horsie rides on mommy’s back, as well as reading and reenacting the ‘Barnyard Dance’. She loves to dance to her favorite tunes, including ‘Ringa Ringa Raja’, ‘Head Shoulders Knees and Toes’, 'If you're happy and you know it' (which she reenacts in both the English and Bosnian versions of the song) and my new favorite thing may be whenever we see a picture of a lion, she puts up her hand and hisses a little ‘rawr’.
Happy year and a half, my little growly lion!