Let me just say, this little girl is awesome.
(I like to take pictures of her when her hair is wet because then it looks like she has some hair.)
And because I feel like you, the blog readers, know my older kids so well, I wanted to dedicate this post to Leah, who, as it turns out, is no less spit-fire than her bigger siblings.
Following in the footsteps of her older siblings, Leah is a phenom when it comes to gross motor skills and spends the better part of her day finding news things to climb. As with most of the lesser desirable skills and qualities I see developing in my kids, I try to look on the bright side. Like, she's going to make an excellent mountain guide someday. Because she devotes most of her energy to her climbing, running, and other will-be-athletic skills, she does not do a whole lot of talking. It's not a concern at 16 months, especially considering the pattern of her older siblings, but she communicates perfectly well with nods, shakes of the head, an effective pointer finger, and squeals of discontent. This is the modus operandi of Sheppard children. And it seems even more so for the 4th child with three verbose older siblings.
While she might not do a whole lot of meaningful talking, she definitely understands us when we talk to her. "Do you want to wash your hands?" is followed by a vigorous nod and an all-out sprint to the sink where she tries to scale the cabinet hardware as taught by Sarah. When I tell her it's time for a diaper change, she runs to the living room and even lays down next to the basket where we keep the diapers and wipes. Even when I try to encourage her to do more talking, like when she kept sliding off the side of the vinyl chairs at the doctors office while trying to climb up onto them and resorted to smacking the chair and staring at me, I said, "Leah, say 'Up, please,'" she just looked at me and nodded as if to say, "Yeah. Duh. That's what I've been saying this whole time."
This week has been an exercise in watching her imagination grow. I don't remember my others doing "pretend play" so early, but then again, maybe it's the pregnancy brain. She's got her Barbie and Prince Eric dolls having some serious conversations. Incomprehensible to most, but definitely not to her. She's also been loving on her baby dolls. Kissing them, rocking them, hugging them, and pushing them in the stroller. So she needs a little practice to keep her from crashing into the walls. Typical woman driver.
You tend to think that by the time you get to number four you've seen most everything. Not true at all. Leah is our first to love shoes at such an early age, particularly rain boots. She literally sprints when she hears either an exterior door or the pantry door open, regardless of where she is in the house. She pantomimes a very convincing look of sheer, brute force with her arms on either side of the tray when she's finished in her high chair and wants to get out. When we cry (or pretend to, just to see her reaction), she gets the saddest little pouty lip. We're not sure if all the fake crying is scaring her or if she's trying to commiserate, but either way, we think it's pretty hilarious. While she is most definitely not the first child we've had to prefer the emperor's new clothes look, she's the first we've had to attempt to redress herself after completely stripping down. We can tell this is happening because of the screeches of sheer panic that come from trying to shove a head and two arms through the same arm hole. I am pretty sure she is the first child we have who is completely afraid of being submerged in any depth of water. The surf, the two inches of water that collects in the roadside gutter after a rainstorm, and Grammie's kiddie pool all qualify as death traps for this little munchkin.
And then...there are the hijinks. While I don't think she has the strong will of Ben, the all-out wide-open energy of toddler Abby, or the scary combination of will and athleticism of Sarah, Leah has her own brand of quiet mischief. And she does it with a smile and a seemingly innocent "Who? Me?" look. Trust me. She is not innocent.
Not when she's scaling the table just moments before friends come over for Bible study and shredding all of the napkins.
Not when she's removing all of the dirt from the [sad] plant in the foyer. (Okay, fine, so maybe she was just trying to put it out of its misery. A green thumb, I have never claimed to be.)
Not when she's wearing several pair of Mommy's underwear as scarves and finishing off someone's Cherry Dr. Pepper after Sunday lunch...on top of the table, of course.
And not when she busts into the under-the-sink cabinet with child-proof locks not once, but twice in a week and ingests a dishwasher tablet and sprays herself in the face with 409 cleaner. Turns out, she's okay. But, really, Leah? Why?
Couldn't you almost eat her? She's so precious.
If you aren't buying it, come hang out with us some day. She might give you a dirty look at first, but she'll warm up. Especially if you give her some food. Preferably candy. And now, if you don't mind, I'm off to watch her dance while she pulls on her earlobes excessively hard as Sam sings one more round of "Do Your Ears Hang Low?"
One Year Olds, Man. Crazy. Crazy Fun.