t minus 30 and counting

In 30 short days, my baby will turn one. I can't have been one whole year already. It can't have been. This shit, it ain't right.

Yesterday she learned to clap her hands. Her very first spontaneous clap was to Taylor Hicks singing something or the other. But yesterday, on her baby swing out back, this one was beautiful and filled with joy and shrieking and it made me cry. Her happiness is contagious. If I had a digital video camera, you would know what I mean.

She is growing and changing in amazing ways every day, ways you think three kids into it you wouldn't care so much about, but I think no matter how many little minions you crank out, the little milestones never, ever cease to amaze.

She says mama on occasion, but she's pretty hung up on dada. And not in the easy-baby-babble sort of way. She intentially says dada all damn day long to me. When I say, "Come give mama some sugar", she says "dada" with the look that translates dada into, "Why, woman? What exactly do you want? Dada will give me candy and eat my toes? What's your best offer? A clean diaper?" When I smother her big, fat, yummy face with kisses, she says "dada" with the inflection that translates dada into, "Sure, you'll kiss me. But dada's kisses are scratchy and kinda tickle, and tickling's my favorite." When I ask her to try to walk to me and drown her in encouragement and woo-hoo's, I get dada. And then I get pile-drived. She will walk five whole steps across a room to her dada, but I try to get a step out of her and it's one big, swooping lunge into my lap with a simultaneous (and surprisingly impressive) latch-on to the milk-bags, because if she must be bothered with the whole sitting on mama's lap thing, the least she should get is some tasty milk out of the deal. She screams at me out of boredom or teething pain or almost walking frustration or poopey diaper discomfort most of the time, but with dada it's with the cooing and the smiling and the adorable little growling thing because she sees in dada's eyes that she will get a pony for her first birthday and her Christmas stocking will probably be stuffed with keys to a Benz. She's got him fucking whipped, and that's just where she plans on keeping him.

Today, to celebrate her 11 month birthday, we took a walk to the playground for some late-afternoon filthy-getting. There, she discovered that she can, indeed, play on the playground equipment. Those stairs are the perfect size for toddler knees, that tunnel is just wide enough to crawl into with her brothers, and if she wiggles around for a minute or so, she can get onto her cute little bottom and if mom waits at the bottom, it is totally safe to slide down that big yellow slide all by herself. The girl is independent.

Today, my baby girl learned that her brothers are pretty damn cool and that she can play with them. I walked over to the wastebasket to get rid of some candy wrappers, and as I walked back I heard the laughter of three children. I peeked onto the play thing and saw my children play together, not just the two being silly for the one, but the three of them interacting, mimicking each other, and laughing their asses off. They created a game they all could play and they played it. And my poor heart stood back, watched in silence, and melted.

Today, I learned one small, simple thing. That one thing is that no matter what happens to us, no matter what crazy curve balls this life throws our way, we will be just fine. Because we have each other. I don't think I could ever need anything more.