Skyler at 2 1/2 Years Old

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I have a feeling I’ve said this before, but this is my favorite age yet. At two-and-a-half, Skyler is completely charming. She is at her most dynamic—stubborn, dramatic, affectionate, expressive, and all around wonderful. It’s difficult to watch her without remarking how happy she makes us and how much we love her. She’s so full of joy—bright, blinding, contagious joy.

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Sometimes I catch her practicing expressions and I think of that famous Will Ferrel clip, where Adam McKay’s daughter plays the role of the angry landlord who—at 20 months—would repeat everything that was said to her. I wonder if we could make a similar exchange with Skyler. She has an uncanny ability to pick up on verbal ticks and will often repeat things. Her songs are generally recognizable by tune. But at the same time, she loves to be contrary: if she knew you were trying to get her to say something one way, she’d probably say it another.

In the past few months she has become particularly interested in talking. We can understand a lot—even if her meaning isn’t always as clear to others. And even if she doesn’t have the words, she’ll often hold full conversations based simply on varying intonations. “Ah did dah,” is a sort of stand-in phrase for anything that can’t be precisely expressed. She’ll play it out in her face and shoulders—using her whole body to make even the point of  “sorry.” And when the meaning is easy to convey, it’s usually embellished with plenty of transitions like “umm…” and “so.” “So… I go park! K street park, Moon park… ”

She says things like “Oh, shoot,” “way cool, dude,” and “I know that.” When she’s sees a cat (a “meow meow”), she’ll say “Aww, cute!” And there’s often an exclamation mark (or two) implied: “I go Bapa house?!!” and “Good job, Hudsee! Woohoo!!”

I love watching her back-and-forth with Hudson. If he’s hurt or upset, she’ll often get down to his level and, with one arm around him, look at his eyes from a few inches away “Okay, Hudsee? You okay? Awwww. Poor Hudson. Okay now!” She hugs him tight and kisses him when she’s happy, giving him long looks of love. Of course often their exchanges are contentious—over a toy or the space one is occupying in the other’s bubble—and she’ll quickly scowl at him and give back 120% of any attitude he directed at her. She is master at the dramatic, arms-out to arms-crossed pout, and turns it on and off with ease.

He has noticed how much more she is talking lately and loves her sweet voice, and last week he said “Skyler sounds adorable.” She really does.

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For a while she would refuse to give me kisses goodnight and we joked that I was being too needy. It was only once I said “No kisses, please” that she’d come over to hug and kiss me. But lately she is all affection. She often greets Aron when he comes home from work, nearly screaming with joy, grabbing onto his legs; she won’t leave his side the next few minutes.

She loves choo choo trains, stickers, singing songs, doggies and walking her babies in their strollers. Her pull-toys and babies (“Baby Frida” being the newer addition) are definitely her favorite toys. Lately we’ve caught her reading books to her animals, and spending a lot of time talking on pretend phones—smartphones, apparently, because she also uses them to take pictures. (Hmm, I wonder where she learned that.)

A few months ago we took the kids to Disneyland (where she was thrilled to see pictures of “kikki mouse” everywhere).

She started nursery school half-way through the year, just after turning two, and never looked back. Her first stop is the art table, where she gets to paint and draw, and she likes to pretend play with some of her friends at school—they bring babies outside for picnics. But she also spends a lot of time climbing outside. On the last day of summer session, she revealed a new (especially daring) move. She’s a confident runner and jumper and somersaulter. And she’s getting quite good on her bike! I asked her babysitter Desmona to share some words that come to mind about Skyler and “fearless” and “strong” were two of them. She can be very independent, and rarely fusses or cries long over any sort of physical injury.

Still, it’s pretty funny: when Hudson talks about daring feats, whether it’s going off the high dive or floating over a city with a bundle of balloons, she’ll often interject “not me!” This is especially notable considering how much she admires Hudson; she wants to be with him all the time.

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We have had plenty of rough (late) nights the past few months and have finally started cutting out some naps, letting her have quiet time instead. It seems to be making a difference. When she does finally fall asleep, she likes to fall asleep with her feet dangling out of the crib, a blanket pulled up, and probably a few toys cuddled close. I often have to go in to take the blanket off of her face as she frequently buries herself entirely beneath it. I think she’d love to share a bed with Hudson, but she tends to get too excited and he eventually comes to us complaining that she wiggles too much.

She has started to show signs of being ready to go without diapers. She will often tell us when she’d like to go on the potty—even if it’s too late. I have a feeling she’d do fine if we really committed to a no-pants weekend. One day…

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For a while she was very afraid of the water. In fact, we took her to see her first movie, Finding Dory, and while nothing in the feature was upsetting to her, she was completely distraught over the short film preceding it. Piper was about a baby sandpiper who is afraid of the waves and it clearly resonated.

She still doesn’t want to put her head underwater—but with some effort (and a lot of singing and made-up songs) we were able to get her back in the pool, and now she loves swimming and playing and dipping her head back to get her hair wet. She takes lessons in our pool a few times a week and seems to really enjoy it, so she’ll be going to a regular swim class in the fall.

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Near the end of the preschool year, she started singing Happy Birthday a lot, and her interest in celebrating birthdays (her own, in particular) has intensified since Hudson’s 5th birthday party. She is so excited to be celebrating a half-birthday herself.

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For our part, we persist in disbelief. She is growing up so fast! But we are loving every minute.

Skyler, we love you every minute, every day. Happy half birthday to the best girl I know.

P.S. All of Skyler’s bi-annual updates, including her first week.

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