Today you turn one year old! All across the country, families are sitting down to celebrate being together and to be thankful for all the experiences and happiness that life brings. I am so very thankful for you. If someone had told me two years ago that I was going to have a baby girl and she was going to be the most incredible girl I had ever met, that her smile would make my heart melt and that some days I would have to choke back tears while getting in my car for work because it would be so hard to leave her, I would have told that someone they were crazy. But now you’re here, and I can’t imagine my life without you.
This past year has been such a whirlwind. It seems like every time I turn around you have reached some new milestone that is worth celebrating. Your smile is infectious and your laugh is intoxicating and you bring such joy to everyone you meet. I know you won’t be able to read this letter for a few years, but I want you to be able to look back on it when you’re a teenager and an adult and read through all the amazing details of your first year of life.
Even though growing up on the farm and living near both your grandparents is the life you will probably always remember, you were actually born in a hospital a couple hours from here and spent the first two months of your life living in a small apartment in Trumansburg, New York. This is where your father and I had lived for a couple of years before you were born. The apartment was very small and, since it only had one bedroom, you shared a room with us during those first two months. Even though we were far away from all our family, I loved being with you those first two months when it was just you and me all day long. Your dad would leave for work and we would cuddle up on the couch, watching all six seasons of Sex and the City on dvd while you ate and napped and learned to smile. We said from the beginning that you were our little nomadic baby because you traveled so well. On you third day of life we traveled all the way back home so we could have a late Thanksgiving dinner with Grandma and Grandpa. And then you made countless journeys back and forth almost every weekend before we finally moved back to western New York in the middle of January.
When we moved back to the farm in the middle of January we settled into life in the apartment on the farm. At the time we were thinking it was going to be a brief stay until we found the house of our dreams and moved into that, but here we are on your first birthday and we’re still in that apartment. Good thing I put pictures on the walls right away or I would probably go crazy. We affectionately refer to our home as the Van Lieshout Family Commune because while we have a three bedroom apartment upstairs, my Uncle Andy lives downstairs in an apartment and there is another apartment downstairs with the farm employees and their families. Making a total of 13 people living in one house. And there’s still four rooms that are empty!
On January 31st I went back to work and I officially will refer to that
day week as the worst week of my life. Being apart from you after spending every minute with you for the previous nine weeks was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I still have a hard time leaving you for work some morning, but it makes it all worth it to come home to your smiling face and chasing you down the hall when you want to play chase is probably my favorite part of the day.
After I went back to work, I started to cherish every minute I spent with you even more than the last and your father and I spent the better part of every night laying on the floor next to you coaxing you to roll over. It wasn’t until a month and a half later that you finally rolled over for a friend’s mom while I was away for two days in central New York for work meetings. You came with me and spent the nights with me in the hotel and the day with my co-worker’s mom, whom you decided to begin your rolling debut with.
After you started rolling, it seemed like everyday brought upon a new milestone. And I am always ready to watch you do something new. On my birthday, you started crawling for the first time and I think that was probably the best birthday present you could have ever given me. It didn’t take you long to go from barely crawling to almost ready to walk! By August you really were a crawling whiz and you were walking along furniture and standing up and really becoming a little person. Grandpa was sure that you would be walking by his birthday on September 27th but here we are at your one year birthday and you still haven’t made the plunge. You are so cautious, a trait that you definitely don’t get from me but undoubtedly get from your dad, and even though you have the skills and strength required to walk you won’t just go ahead and do it. It is so funny to me that you can be so engrossed in a remote or a phone or a cup that you won’t even realize you are standing all on your own, but as soon as you realize oh my god! I’m not holding onto anything! You promptly sit on the ground.
Since I’ve been back at work, you’ve been spending a lot of time with Grandma and a lot of time on the farm. You love the calves and could look at them all day long. Your daddy has a brown swiss calf that you gave to you and it looks so good. I can’t wait till you’re old enough to show her calves at the fair. You really love all animals and reserve the same love and affection for Vick, grandma and grandpa’s dog, as you do for the calves. Even your teddy bear gets showered with love and whenever you’re feeling sad you bury your head into him and hug him tightly.
You love all your uncles and can’t smile enough when you’re around them. You and Uncle Garrett have been practically attached at the hip since you’ve been born and he loves to teach you new tricks and shower you with affection all the time. If he doesn’t get a chance to see you during the day, he is always sure to stop over to say hi to you at night. Uncle Alex just recently moved home at the end of October and he is already enamored with you. He even told me that you are his favorite part about being home and you can tell that you enjoy his presence also.
You are a very intuitive girl and I can’t wait to see you grow up to see just how smart you can become. You’ve recently become a champion waver and wave goodbye to everyone coming or going all day long. You have also recently learned to shake your head for no and when you are doing something you know you shouldn’t be you’ll look at me with an evil smile and shake your head back and forth. Just this past weekend, you were playing with a magnet and you stuck the magnet to a black hinge. Then you stuck the magnet to an overall buckle. Then, putting two and two together in your head – you tried to stick the overall buckle to the black hinge. It didn’t work, but the ingenuity for you to do that at such a young age! It has me convinced that you are going to be an engineer someday. That type of cognitive thinking is something I don’t know if I would even be able to put together now.
Brushing your teeth is one of your favorite things to do. You love to watch me brush my teeth and then you smile so I can brush yours. Right now you have six teeth. Three on the top and three on the bottom. There was a brief period of time when you had to center ones on the bottom and one to the side on the top. I loved that time because you really looked like my little hillbilly.
Anyway, Happy Birthday Pretty Girl! I love you and I hope you enjoy this day. On top of it being Thanksgiving Day we have a great little celebration planned in honor of you. I love you!