Monica Bielanko
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Newsletter: Month Ten

Dear Violet

Ten months. That's how old you are today. I'm so happy I've written these monthly retrospectives because just now I went back and read over them and realized how much we forget, how many cherished details blur with the passage of time. But with photos and the written word I can remember, forever, this most precious time of your life.

I love you so much its hard to articulate my emotions and I feel like a big, thick-tongued doofus trying to describe the enormity of my feelings for you and what you mean to me. I've heard a mother's affection for her child compared to falling in love. It's a good analogy because when you smile at me, or I look up unexpectedly and catch you watching me with those big boundless eyes that are just like your Papa's, my heart catches in my throat and tears prickle my nose and eyes because I am just so full of joy to know you. You and only you, Miss Violet Avelaine Bielanko.

Several moments with you really stand out this month. You've had a couple rough nights and I have to admit, I can't just let you cry. If two or three binky/bottle readjustments don't do the trick I'll come in and scoop you out of the crib and hold you. A few nights ago I sat in the rocking chair and held you close AND YOU LET ME. The older you get the more uncommon it is for you to not only sit still in Mama's arms, but to burrow into my body like a little badger seeking warmth from the cold. I rocked and sang songs and breathed in your sweet hair and could not have been more thrilled to be awake at one in the morning.

The second moment that really stands out happened late one night when I peeked in on you after getting home from work. I walk in the door at about 10:25 every evening. The first thing I do is creep into your room to watch you breathe, pull another blanket on you and marvel at you. This night I'd done the usual Find The Binky routine. I located it in the far corner of the crib and placed it gently next to your head where you'd be sure to find it if you woke up. The binky made a barely audible click as I set it down. Although your eyes were closed and you were breathing deeply your little hand shot out and began feeling along the sheet like a blind person until your fingers grasped the binky. Eyes still closed, you pulled the binky back to your face and jabbed around with it for a bit until you found your mouth. All of this done with your eyes closed and apparently deep in sleep.

Funniest thing I ever saw.

You've discovered books! This is one of the few times we can get you to stop moving. You'll sit quietly in our laps for the story but will throw the most excellent tantrums once we come to the conclusion of each book. The minute I close the book you start ballyhooing and flailing until I open it up back at the beginning and start all over again. FOR THE FOURTH TIME.

"One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish..."

Just recently you've realized how to turn the page. I'll read each page while you pay rapt attention and then I'll say, "Okay, turn the page." And you do! It blows my mind. This may be the first direct cause and effect communication we've ever had. God, I hope you're a reader. No pressure! But please love to read! It changed my life in more ways than I could ever express. Seriously, no pressure. Still, if you take after Mama in any way I hope it's that you love books as much as I do. Please, please, please... No pressure and all BUT COME ON!! Throw your old mother a bone, considering I carried you for nine months and you looking nothing like me at all!

It is important to note that you were congratulated for being born by President Barack Obama and the First Lady. I spent the night Obama was inaugurated in labor with you and you were born the very next day, the first day of his presidency. I like to say you wanted to wait until President Bush was safely out of office before making your grand entrance. So I wrote a letter to The White House to tell them all about Violet Bielanko and this month you finally received a response.

You celebrated your first Halloween this past month and I've gotta be honest: we didn't do anything. Oh, we dressed you up in several costumes purely for our own personal entertainment but we didn't take you trick-or-treating or anything. I don't imagine you minded very much, like me and Pop you're just happy to hang out around the house in your pajamas so it works out really well for everyone involved.

You're getting so big I can't believe it. Michelin man thighs stretching into toddler legs, hair growing, starfish hands grabbing at everything you can reach. I know I sound like eighty million other parents out there when they say it goes so fast but it does. It goes by so fast it hurts. It hurts to know you'll never again be the way you are right now. Or last week. Or the week before that. Oh, I know there are so many other equally amazing moments to come but each milestone is so thrilling to me I can't help but mourn its passing even while it's still happening. Like the other day, Pop called me at work to tell me that your two front teeth are peeking out of the upper deck of your precious pink gums. I was devastated. I love that big gummy grin so much and to think that pretty soon I'll never see it again breaks my heart. But time stops for no one, soldiering onward with my beloved baby girl as hostage, leaving behind this almost-toddler in her place.

You and your Papa sure share something special. After I leave for work he saddles up the hounds and you guys go walking in the dog park together. Every day. And this is no small feat when you've pretty well outgrown the Bjorn and spend much of your time excitedly kicking Pop squarely in the balls. I imagine when Pop looks back on your first year your daily walks with the dogs will tug a few heartstrings and maybe cause his balls to twinge with phantom pain.

It's so special to see Pop develop his relationship with you. Every morning we plant ourselves on the front couch so we can wave to Pop as he pulls out of the driveway. And without fail he will spend a considerable time making a fool of himself in the front yard by popping up and down and dancing in front of the window just so he can make you laugh. You chortle appreciatively and bang on the window when you get particularly excited. When we hear him come home we rush to the window that overlooks the porch and you'll giggle and thump the window excitedly to let Pop know how glad you are that he's home again.

As you may have guessed from a majority of these photos, this month has involved a lot of leaves. Leaves and raking. Each new raking seems to present a whole new slew of photographic opportunities and each of us have snapped our fair share of Violet In The Leaves. Violet Plays In The Leaves. Throwing Leaves On Violet. As if we were the first parents ever in the history of mankind to discover that kids playing in leaves equals cute! Violet Eating The Leaves, hell, here's Violet Raking The Damn Leaves.

I assume we will be the very same photographing idiots once the snow finally sticks and we bust out the awesome puffy, pink snowsuit Grammy sent you from Pennsylvania. So yeah, the leaves. Round about the fifth or sixth photo session in the leaves you became very suspect. What's with all this leaf bullshit, your expression seemed to say. I mean, I know you guys really dig the leaves and think the photos are cute and stuff, but seriously, these scratchy suckers aren't the most comfortable, you know? So can we maybe call it a year with the leaf photos and wrap up this little photo shoot?

My favorite set, though, were taken by your Pop when I wasn't around. I picked up the camera one day and discovered dozens of photos of you guys messing around in the front yard and it felt like someone squeezed my heart so hard it done stopped beating. Because this? It's the cutest damn photo I ever did lay eyes upon. Do you see the expression on that rough grizzly bear's face? That's what you bring out in your Papa.

The other day we just stood around the house letting you crawl all over the place. Reconnaissance to help us baby proof in advance of the highly mobile person you've become. We wanted to see what you'd get up to without adult interference. You know, a little fork fiddling in the plug here and some light plant snacking there. Every now and again you'd pause and shoot a busy, little grin our way. And then you came upon the lower kitchen cabinets. While hanging on the cabinet handles you pulled yourself up to standing and then tried to open the cabinet. Open and shut, open and shut. But because you were holding the handle for balance, after two or three rounds of open and shut you'd fall on your adorable, little hiney. Pop helicoptered nervously, lunging at you whenever you started to fall - he is definitely the worrier of the two of us - and I told him to stand back and let you figure it out. We argued for a minute and finally Pop said, "Look. I can't help it. It's how I am. If I see her fall, I'm always going to rush in to catch her."

And I believe he will.