It seems we've been celebrating Juniper's two-year birthday since early September as relatives bearing gifts trickled through our home.
But the real shebang was a few days after her birthday when we hosted her first small, but true party. Between the balloons and the older girls and younger boys, Juniper was nearly beside herself with glee. I made chocolate pumpkin cupcakes with orange pumpkin frosting and my famous squash soup. For the first time, we noticed the difference between boys and girls. The girls curled up in Juniper's bed, read books to each other and ate lunch together. The boys honed-in their radars for wheels, found the ridable toys, hopped on and didn't get off, not even to eat. And...aside from the 49 seconds of video while singing Happy Birthday, I didn't get a single photo. Not one. Sometimes it's nice to walk around without a camera smooshed to my face. But this time, afterwards, I felt like an asshole for failing to capture J bug's first party. Doh!
The whole party whooptie-do in her honor really made an impression. She name requests the song, Happy Birt-day Ju-per at least eleven times a day and it took a week for her to stop insisting on cupcakes (or rather, tuptakes, since she can't say "k" sounds yet) for snack. And anytime I reach for the top of the pantry she asks, Presents? Oh my.
:: But Juniper's growth in the last six months, and especially the last two, is what really *blows* our minds. Not just her hair and her long, thinning, legs...but her mind. And especially, her language. She throws out multiple new sentences on a daily basis (today, off the top of my head: I get cheese grater. And, Let's go get him!), she holds us to our promises, and boy is she getting finicky about how she thinks the world should be arranged. I love watching her little independent personality blossom.
:: She chooses her own clothes.
Often vacillating between wanting to wear three shirts and two pants, or putting up a fight to get a single shirt on.
:: She hates having her hair brushed or washed or dried (resulting in the extremely short bob seen in some of these photos).
:: She is especially particular with her mothering skills. Everyone gets a diaper and clothes and laid down for sleepytime.
They get fed milk and water and leftover oatmeal. They get swaddled and burped.
They go outside.
They splash in the mud. (When I tried to keep the doll inside she whined, Baby Sam outside tooooooo.)
:: She insists on reading her favorite books to herself saying, I read it.
:: And sometimes, requests that we take her picture: Sorry, sorry. Excuse me Ju-per. Picture?
:: She loves to be helpful.
Doing finishing work on the tile.
Helping unpack the chocolate sprinkles.
And the refrigerator baking soda.
She supervises her dad with the interior trim.
And her mom with packaging meat.
:: She likes our new house, but isn't crazy about the taller-than-she-is grass. (Establishing a YARD is our top springtime priority.)
:: She is still goofy and giggly and loves to play peepaboo.
:: She prefers variety in her meals. And whether it's hot sauce or beer, if she sees us eating something she doesn't have it's, Try some too? Ju-per try some too?
Still, she especially loves spaghetti, fish, tomatoes, blueberries and beets (because they stain her hands red).
:: And oh how she lives for singing and dancing. Favorite singing songs are: Ring around the rosie, Skip to ma woo ma dar-yen, London bridges, Happy Birtday Ju-per and John Denver's "Country Roads".
:: Favorite dancing songs are: "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" (which she requests with a rare, entirely unrecognizable name) and "The Safety Dance". We are head-over-heels with her hillbilly stomp, which is actually extremely difficult to mimic. It involves a little foot-stomping shuffle and your butt stuck out to one side. We do try.
:: Her favorite phrases change by the week. Last week it was, I did it! Yeah! This week it's been, Where'd car go? Ah! I find it. Or, Where'd dog go? There he is! And while my man was gone hunting it was, Where'd daa-y go? in a sad, lost voice.
:: Her low, bullfrog voice (she got that from her father) is getting sweeter and higher pitched, but for some things, she still busts out the bullfrog. If she's really excited about something (say, you pull a tangerine from the fridge and she hasn't had one for a few days) she says in a very deep voice, Oh, ho ho ho! Whoah!
:: She is an accomplished parrot. We learned the hard way to control our own swearing. We've learned to say things like "shoot-dangit" after several weeks of Juniper dropping Baby Sam in the grocery store followed by an, Uh-oh. SHIT!
:: After an entire summer of training her to hold my hand, she now does it willingly. Thank god. Just in time for the new baby. Maybe I won't lose my toddler in the grocery store parking lot after all.
:: And yet, for all her independent spirit, we have been working for over a month on getting her out of our bed, with mixed results. But that's another story.
:: (And seriously, I'm *trying* to post more frequently so we can avoid these War & Peace photo posts. Thanks for making it to the end!)