Dear Helen -
We've made it 17 months and you are still the snuggliest toddler ever (and it is still impossible for me think of you as a toddler instead of a baby!). You continue to have a million hugs and kisses to give out to anyone who crosses your path, whether you know them or not. And at the end of the day, you always remember to hug your dad, your "tonr", and me. And then before you close your eyes, you say "bye bye Mimi, bye bye ZoZo", and that ends your day. Every day.
You spent a few days this month trying to potty train yourself, but I guess you figured out what you were interested in, and after using the toilet a few consecutive mornings, you've gone back to relying on Pampers. You do, however, get major bonus points because one night, about five minutes after I bade you goodnight, you shouted "mama". This was so unusual that I decided to go check on you and when I got there, I asked "Helen, what's the matter? It's sleeping time." and you said "poop!". And indeed, you had pooped! Thank you, for telling me this, because as I suspect you know, dirty diapers do not get better with time.
You are definitely destined for stardom. Every time a camera is near, you flash a very cheesy grin. I have no idea who taught you this, but it is pretty funny - though sometimes annoying because I will be on the verge of capturing a very sweet (and natural) smile when you notice the camera and "cheese" me. You notice the paparazzi following you everywhere, even when the cameras near you are not pointed in your direction. It's important to be prepared, I suppose.
You are a strong-willed child who is happy to throw her weight around - even if that weight is much lower than others your age can throw around. You smack Connor with toys, you steal his things the minute he puts them down (only fair, since he will do the same to you), you will bully your way to any toy you want at the indoor playground we go to each week, and you do not take "no" lightly. As I was preparing to walk you and Connor into a park last week, I noticed a parent hoisting a screaming child out of the park, and I thought to myself "I'm so glad that my children leave when I tell them it's time to go, without all that carrying on" and then I looked at you, and immediately regretted the thought - because it is quite possible that you will decide to "throw down" over this soon. And I do not look forward to that.
You love to "tickle tickle" your dada and you adore it when he tosses you into the air. You love running around the house chasing "Tonr" and dada and you think it is really funny when you catch them, or they catch you. When being dressed, you like to run away so that I have to chase you to put clothes on, and you laugh, and laugh, and laugh when you find something funny. You can climb the stool in the bathroom by yourself now and you finally moved up to 12 - 18 month clothing.
Katherine, a mom I see around town often, says she has a "baby crush" on you, and it is no surprise since whenever you see her, you give her a big hug. She just gave birth to a baby that is just about your size, which is why she says she adores you so much, because she's never experienced an itty-bitty kid like you.
When you're not stealing things from him, you can Connor are the best of buddies. A couple of weeks ago, you were playing in the sand as I was working in the yard, and Connor decided you were making rabbit stew. You had tossed a few leaves in a giant bucket and were stirring them with a stick. Connor would come up to you and ask "Helen, did you need some leaves in your bucket?" and you would either nod "yes" or you would say "no". If you said "no", he would reply, "when you said no, did you mean yes" and you would then nod your head "yes". You see, you still often say "no" when it is clear you mean "yes" - which is still a little confusing for the rest of us.
Your favorite thing to do at the park is to swing, followed closely by playing in the sandbox. Connor will give you a whirl on the merry-go-round, and you seem to love that as well.
Most of all, you love to look at the phone and pretend to call your "mimi" and whenever a grandparent is on the phone and you are near, you wave very adamantly and then seem confused when they don't say "hello" back to you. I'll try and explain this to you someday, but for now, I'm just going to sit back and enjoy it.