Dear Baby Princesses,

You both have so much to say.

BP1, I was commenting to someone the other day that you are now at the precise age where you more or less speak like an adult, but without any sense of timing, appropriateness of certain topics, etc. You are just, just beginning to understand the concept of not saying things that might hurt people's feelings, but you haven't yet really grasped why words could even be hurtful. Recently, you asked "Mommy, why do you have all of those lines around your eyes?" You are constantly asking what words mean, even when you more or less know, and Daddy and I have realized that we are pretty bad with articulating definitions.

It cracks me up to hear you so precisely imitate phrases that we use, or take our wording literally. For example, if I say "We'll talk about dessert after you've eaten dinner," you'll later ask "Can we talk about dessert now?" Or, you'll preface a story that you perceive to have happened a long time ago with "Mommy, you may not remember this, but . . ." which is a direct imitation of how I tell you stories about when you were a baby.

There are more examples and I'll try to be better at just doing short posts to record them when they happen. I get into a cycle where I don't write anything because I feel like I need to say a lot, but then months go by and I don't write anything at all.

Also, I have to tell you how completely fascinating it is to me to watch someone learn to read and write. You can more or less write all of your letters now, though you still struggle a little bit with the lower case ones. And there are a few words that you've written often enough (like "love") that you don't even need to ask me how to spell them any more. You are a long way from truly reading and writing - it's not like you recognize full words (with the exception of your name) and for the most part with anything you write, we're spelling it for you letter by letter. But here and there, you do recognize something, or you figure out what a word is by the first letter, or you write something down without prompting. Occasionally we'll work on "sounding it out" with you but that doesn't seem to be what you do at school, so who knows if that's even how kids learn to read anymore?

BP2, it is just as fascinating to watch you learn to speak! Your vocabulary now includes Daddy, Mommy, your big sister's name (which to my ear, is indistinguishable from Mommy), no, yeah (I think you said that last night - not sure), dog, duck (those two also sound exactly the same), more, water, milk, pepper, and of course, your absolute favorite: baby. You LOVE baby dolls and we keep multiple ones on each level of the house because you are agitated and walk around saying "baby, baby, baby" unless you have one in your arms. You are the same way at school, apparently (actually, your infant teacher was the first one to tell us that you should have a doll to play with at home because as soon as you were old enough to sit up, you liked to sit on the floor and hold a baby and pet it). Now, not only do you love dolls in your class, but you essentially treat your classmates like dolls by trying to pet them when they're tired or sad. The school sent us a very cute video of one of the boys in your class lying across your lap while you stroked his hair to comfort him. Something tells me that you will always be that nurturing to people you love.

The other word that is a complete mystery to us sounds like "ghee." You are constantly pointing to something no one else can see and saying it repeatedly. It often happens at the table but isn't limited to that setting. Sometimes I really wish I could see inside your adorable head.

I also love seeing your non-verbal communication, which is almost more impressive because you somehow manage to get your point across without any words. The other night you stood up on your tiptoes and tried to move the placemats across the table (it was an imitation of the way your big sister sets the table when I tell her that it's almost time to eat). Clearly you were hungry and figured that if the table were set, you would get to eat. You give the most amazing tiny hugs on command, flinging your arms around the person and squeezing as tight as you can.

And amidst all of this, life goes on every day. We've been incredibly busy but not with anything earth shattering, which isn't a bad thing. A few weeks ago we had a nice sized crowd over for the Super Bowl and Daddy's birthday, after which BP1 decided that she wanted a Super Bowl party for her birthday. (I'm hoping she remembers that in September because we're all set with Super Bowl plates.) You've had visits from all of your grandparents in the past month or so, which makes Daddy and I very happy. And in a couple of weeks, we'll head up to New York where Daddy and I will go to cousin M's wedding and you will have more quality time with Daddy's family.

I have never been happier, my monsters, and believe me - I've had a very happy life. But I struggle too, and worry all of the time that I am not balancing things correctly. Our time together is so often rushed; of course I'd rather play with you than load the dishwasher, but if I do that then I'll never get you bathed and ready for bed before you hit meltdown status. Still, it doesn't make it easy to say no when you're standing there with a puzzle or a doll. And it was so sweet of you to invite me to your Valentine's party at school, BP1, but that one truly wasn't for parents (even though I know a few came anyway) and I'm so sorry but I just can't leave work for every event. I know these years are short and that soon you'll have no interest in me coming to see you at school, but I still can't take full advantage. Please just know that I'm doing my best, that you truly are the most important thing in the world, and that I live for the brief moments like last Friday night when we were finishing dinner and it was early enough to just breathe for a minute, to pull you both into my lap and hug you tight. I wish I were a better mom, a better wife, a better friend, a better employee . . . I don't know if I'll ever feel like I'm truly successful at any of those things or the other host of roles I could add to that list (sister, daughter, granddaughter, etc. etc.). But when I look at the two of you, you are so amazing that I hope it means we're doing something right.

So, that's all of my rambling for this Valentine's Day, my princesses. This week we have confirmed that you own an insane amount of heart clothing. And while I've never been a huge fan of this particular holiday, I am a fan of hearing "Mommy, you're my valentine because I love you." The feeling is quite mutual.

I love you humongous whale much,

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