In the space of a short year, she has become an ardent eater, walks freely around the house, and talks a mile a minute. And she's not as friendly with strangers as she used to be, and her cautious mommy is OK with that.
Looking for something to do this weekend? Find what you need in our Weekend Entertainment Guide newsletter.
My daughter loves pictures, particularly of herself, so I prepped her for her meeting Santa Claus this year by showing her pictures of last year's visit. I asked her who was in the picture.
"Baby," she replied.
"Who else?" I queried. She was silent. Even after numerous discussions about Santa Claus, she refused to acknowledge him. I knew this didn't bode well for the 2011 holiday photo op.
The morning of our visit, she skipped along merrily, admiring the Christmas tree and accompanying lights, when she caught sight of the jolly old elf. She abruptly stopped, turned to me and wrapped her tiny arms around my legs.
I reminded her that she didn't have to be afraid of Santa, and to reinforce my point, I patted the arm of Santa's pretty red suit and invited her to do so, as well. She refused, continuing to cling tightly to her mother.
Lucky for us (or at least me), the venue where Santa visited that day was not crowded and had a relaxed atmosphere. So we stayed.
I thought that as my toddler saw other children sit on Santa's lap and get their pictures taken, she would warm to the idea herself and make peace with St. Nick.
She watched the other children come and go, pose for photos, pick up their candy canes and coloring books and make their way back out into the frigid winter morning. My daughter loves both to color and eat, so I knew she would be tempted to get closer just to snag a sweet treat and a new book to color.
After about an hour, she bravely walked up to Santa's young elf who offered her a piece of candy. Then, Santa asked if she would like to have a coloring book. She quickly snatched it out of his gloved hand and moved backward. I decided to ask one more time if she would like to sit on Santa's lap for a picture. Again, she refused.
Quickly, a store employee intervened and asked if my daughter would like to stand next to Santa for a photo. She agreed, but only if Mommy was right next to her. I knelt next to Santa's chair, both arms holding securely to my daughter, and the photo was snapped.
What a treat. My young daughter was photographed not only with Santa, but with me as well. I was prepared for walking out of the store without of photo of her with Santa, but I never imagined that not only would I get a photo of the two of them, but a shot that included me with them.
Raising a child is full of fleeting moments, and I am sure just as this year's visit was different from last year's, next year's experience with Santa will be a completely different story for both of us. But just as my daughter clung to me when she spotted Santa on that recent morning, I will hold fast to the memory of starring in a Christmas photo with St. Nick and my precious daughter.
First-time mother Amy Dulebohn is a page designer at The Herald-Mail. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.