The cuteness that is currently residing on my camera is indescribable. But that is in the other room, so you'll just have to wait. To answer some of your other questions...
1) We have not yet bought a house. The house we made an offer on... we and the sellers didn't see eye to eye. My mom visited last week, so i drug her to ~15 open houses. I didn't actually count them, I wouldn't be surprised if it was more. I remain unconvinced that the combination of features we're looking for isn't a pipe dream. But I'm not yet willing to give up the dream, and the amount of money we save every month we stay in our house is significant. As long as we have a bigger space before next winter, I think i can survive.
2) I like my kid better than you. This is a new realization for me. But MJ is so fun, that, most of the time, I would far rather hang out with her than anyone else. I used to think that parents who didn't make a point to still spend time with friends were lame. More and more, though, if I cant spend time with her, too, its just not worth it.
3). Seriously, MJ is so fun. As long as shes gotten enough sleep. I mean, there's no one else in my life I can make laugh uncontrollably simply by crawling around on the floor.
4) this didn't start out as an ode to MJ post, but being as she is 18 months old in 2 days, here you go.
5) At 18 months old, your favorite things in the world are books and animals. Everything else is secondary.
Books: last weekend we took you to the eagles nest, a super awesome indoor playground with tunnels, slides and pure plastic joy. But, you were too enamored with the bookcase in the corner to care. Eventually, the screams of happiness from the children around you broke through your reverie, and you went down slides like a... Sailor? But it took a while. The first thing you want to do in the morning is read, and the last thing before you go to bed. I won't deny that i love it. But it would seem you're destined to be a nerd.
Animals: Sesame street? Kind of okay. Nature (the PBS show)? Pure toddler joy. Grizzly bears, tigers, anything with fur or feathers, apparently. You will find the single cat in any picture book and shriek with joy. I'm clinging to this fascination of yours with hopes that it will ward off princess lust. 7 months ago we took you to the zoo and you much preferred to stare at the people. I think things would go differently now.
Words: You talk an awful lot, though you sometimes seem indifferent to the actual sounds. You try to repeat things we say but don't come close. But you don't care. I'm thinking this will prove to be a problem as you get older. My favorite of your new words is "help". Much better than the shriek that used to indicate you wanted help. Others that you have added: bath, cup, tail, row, water, shoe, dirty. Everyone in your circle of trust is "mama", even dada. Except doggy, who sounds an awful lot like "dada".
Tidy: speaking of dirty... Any slight spill MUST be cleaned up. You don't get this from us. You love to wash your hands, brush your teeth, pick up toys... Im guessing this one will be a good thong as you get older.
Most of all, you are joyous. Mischievous. I think I use these words to describe you every month. In some ways, you've mellowed. You'll sit still for (slightly) longer periods of time. You'll allow us to read to you. We even successfully took you grocery shopping AND to a restaurant, two things I thought might never happen. You make every day worth waking up for, even when it's at 4 am.