She will be 2 YEARS OLD!! in about a week. (We are celebrating with a ridiculously over-the-top birthday party, in addition to whatever family-based activities I decide on: things sort of took on a life of their own.) Supposedly most of R's crucial development has already taken place, and according to my parenting books, her personality and social style will be fairly stable from this point on.
At least in R's case, things have stabilized, as has our relationship dynamic, her daily routines, and her likes and dislikes. For quite a while we were in a constant state of conflict over who was going to be in charge (which was just as much fun as it sounds like! ugh). Thankfully I won that battle quite handily and routine defiance and testing behavior are now a thing of the past (not to say R is always obedient of course! but she accepts my authority and decisions fairly gracefully 90% of the time). This makes things like putting her to bed, holding her hand in parking lots and dressing her much, much easier. I wouldn't say parenting was exactly easy, but compared to any time in the past it is a cakewalk.
She remains a cheerful, curious, independent, energetic little person, who spends most of her days busily trotting around on her self-appointed tasks. The biggest new developments are her increasing independence (since now she can get her own water--she gets cups, turns on the tap, and fills it up; food--she helps herself from the cupboards if I'm too slow at serving her; dressing--she takes off/puts on her own shoes, and can (often) undress herself (it depends what clothes she's wearing); and ability to amuse herself, which has improved) and her speech (she speaks significantly more, and seems to add new words almost every day, though I wouldn't say she is yet really conversing yet).
Most of her interests have stayed pretty constant over the last few months. They include:
Preschool (doing a cookie decorating project): she LOVES school and can't wait to get there each day.
Physical activity, of all sorts: running, climbing, jumping, dancing, skipping...R is quite dexterous these days
Reading: she still loves books and spends long periods reading them to herself or being read to. She's started to like books with a plot (finally she can follow it, to some degree) and these days tends to prefer the real picture books over the board books.
Television (here she's watching the Teletubbies): Favorites are Dora, Teletubbies and Studio Ghibli films. She also loves Mickey Mouse but rarely gets to see it as I despise Disney. She has begun to respond to Dora's questions consistently and sing the Teletubby theme song.
And at school, with her toy grocery bag.
Playing with water: R loves swimming (like in deep water, dog paddling), baths, the shower and anything else allowing her to play with water. She would spend all day wet if I would let her. So naturally she loves watering cans.
R sleeps and eats well (though she generally dislikes vegetables, this doesn't concern me too much). She usually sleeps 8-8 (though it varies somewhat: she tends to be a late sleeper), plus a 2-3 hour nap at around 1 pm. She eats three meals a day, plus an afternoon snack (she gets an additional snack at 10:30 on school days, because the school feeds them), and uses cups and utensils (teaspoons, mostly: she's graduated from the baby spoons).
She still has tantrums (though now they're about being overwhelmed with frustration or other strong emotions, rather than trying to get me to do something). It seems very frustrating to be a toddler, as so frequently your intentions completely outstrip your ability to carry them out. Since the tantrums are not usually meant to manipulate me, they don't bother me that much (usually I just leave R to her own devices and tell her to come see me when she wants a hug or some help, which typically happens in under five minutes).
So far I am really loving R as a toddler (as opposed to R as a baby): she has personality, ideas, imagination and a sense of humor. It's so much fun to see what she will come up with next!