My daughter is fourteen months old.

My delicate, contented, snuggly baby has become a vivid, exuberant, determined little girl.  She has a bright grin, a boisterous laugh, and a joyful attachment to her favorite things.  She loves her daddy: she greets him at the door with a frantic high-pitched demand to be picked up immediately.  She loves going outside: anytime someone makes the slightest motion that way, she is perched hopefully at the door saying “Buh-bye?  Buh-bye?”

— and she sits perfectly still to be dressed in piles of snow gear and taken for a ride in her sled:

She loves music: she sways from side to side, beaming, when I sing “The Gospel Song” with the boys at breakfast or when we sing grace at dinner.  She sits on my lap when I play the piano–adding some little runs and grace notes and minor chords of her own, of course.

Her other favorite thing is terrorizing her brothers.  She breaks the speed limit when anything interesting of theirs is placed remotely within her reach, and my days are punctuated by the sound of her crawling hell-for-leather across the wood floors (smack! thump! smack! thump!) while her brothers greet her with a rising crescendo of “Noooooooo, Iiiiiiiiwaaaaah!  NOOOOOOO!”  She can take just about anything they dish out.  Being sat upon or pulled backward by her sweater hood elicit an angry squawk, but tears are not considered necessary provided she got what she wanted in the end.  In an entertaining reversal, they are fascinated with her toy kitchen utensils.  She loves those, too, but her life would be complete if she could just get ahold of their big basket of cars without anyone noticing.

In terms of size, she is tiny: I don’t know precisely what she weighs right now, but she wears 6-12 or 6-9 month clothes and I’m becoming okay with it.  She can put away the food.  But because of all the allergy concerns our introduction of solids was delayed, and so we are on a slower schedule when it comes to broadening her menu.  She now eats whatever we are having for dinner, but she still requires that it be reduced to fairly thin pulp. Occasionally I panic that we are so behind on her eating.  Then I do deep breathing and remind myself that my boys are very good eaters (thank God, since their options are limited!) and she will not still need me to grind her food for her when she is 18.  I hope.

In terms of future careers, I believe she’s considering being a town crier, an auctioneer, or — if she can apply her ear-splitting lung power to a more pleasant range of pitches — the opera.  Right now, she might do very well for the role of some raucous Wagnerian villainess.  Her scream is piercing, and her yell is shattering.  She employs them for various ends: telling us she wants something, asking to be picked up, complaining when her feet don’t hold her up as long as she’d like, or just for fun (with a mischievous little grin on the side).  We’re working on it.  We’re covering our ears with both hands and working on it.  Pray for us.

She has a lot to say at a more normal volume, too.  Mama, Dadda, What dat?, Yummm, Hi, Buh-bye, Ow, Wow, Uhb-bah (Opa) and Uh-mah (Oma), and long strings of fluent and interactive babble.  For a while now she’s been standing up in the middle of rooms and then thinking better of it, but last night her record of two wobbly steps went up to six.  She kept walking toward our front door, toppling partway, getting back up with a yell, and repeating the process until she arrived in triumph and crawled back to do it again.  She ponders at the bottom of the stairs, peeking through the banisters to see if I am watching.  She plays peek-a-boo with  squealing abandon, and this week she started “hiding” by flopping down to bury her face against her crib mattress or  the floor,  snickering at the hilarity of it.

Her favorite books are I Am a Bunny, which she calls “Buh-eee”, and Mommy Hugs, which she refers to as “Byyyye” — I think because the mommy and baby make a trip to the park.

I just came downstairs after rocking her in the dark and laying her in the crib, with her HoneyBear and Baby and Lambie snuggled at her side.  My prayers for her fill my heart: that she will be strong, and well, and happy.  That the world would unfold to her understanding smoothly, bit by bit, as it should, and that she would grow and speak and laugh and learn and not lose the sparkle in her clear eyes.  That she would love Jesus, and love his mercy, and be sheltered by his goodness.  I love her more than I can say.

Tomorrow her brothers will clamor to waltz into her room and say good morning to her; they will hand her toys (right away or  eventually) with a cheery “Heee-ere you go!”; and they will ask to give her hugs and kisses.  Her daddy will toss her in the air and chase her around on all fours.  I will smack her soft cheeks with kisses until she yelps at me.  If it’s nice outside, we’ll go for a walk and she will kick her pink boots in the air the whole time.  It’s a crazy, busy life.  I’m so glad she joined us in it.

Happy fourteen months, my E.

*top two photos: newborn shot by Brandon Ritter; second shot by Misha Seger.