Bumps and Bruises

Dear Love Bug,

This morning you were playing in the living room when you let out one of those wails that only half comes out because you start suffocating on your own cry. It means it’s bad, whatever it is. I rushed up from downstairs where I was doing laundry and scooped you up, but you were barely able to breathe you were crying so hard. I held you tight and asked what hurt and waited till you could get it out, but by then we’d already spotted the blood, and it was a gusher. 

Somehow you’d fallen into your box of Duplos and had scraped right through the ring finger cuticle on your right hand. I rushed you upstairs to the bathroom, where Daddy tried to clean it out with peroxide, but you kept letting out these bizarrely non-human yelps and wouldn’t let us get near your finger. So instead I dunked your whole arm under running water from the sink and let the water flow down your arm. You were highly unhappy about this but at least we were able to flush out the cut. 

Then we managed to get you dried off and somehow got a Band-Aid around your finger even though you kept screaming and insisting it should go on your foot. 

Eventually you calmed down enough to choke out, through sobs, that you wanted to watch Paw Patrol and of course that did the trick. 

When I looked down, my nightshirt was stained with splotches of blood as were your PJs. As far as I can remember, this is the first bloody trauma you’ve lived through (except, of course, The First Bloody Trauma, to which nothing will ever compare). 

Once we’d got you cleaned up and dressed, we headed out to a local community fair at which there were a couple of moon bounces. Once we’d encouraged you past the severe disappointment of not being able to partake in the one designated for children five and up, you happily bounced for a bit in the other one. When you decided you were ready to come out, I was directing you down the blow-up ramp to help you down to the pavement. You sat down hard and bounced, of course, right off and landed hard on your back. More wailing tears. Thankfully you’d managed to keep your head up so we avoided head trauma, but you banged up your elbow pretty decently. (And not even your balloon toy laser gun made the tears stop.)

At Lincoln’s second birthday party (happy birthday, Link!) this afternoon, you were perhaps the only kid that didn’t bite it on a protruding stone or a tree root–those state parks’ll git ya every time–but you did manage to spill an entire bottle of bubbles solution down your front and you got your first big ol’ mean splinter. Right in your palm. And oh the tears at getting it out! That one merited an M&M! 

So you’re a bit worse for wear today, but you survived–and you got a corn dog for your troubles at Famous Dave’s, which happens to be the first restaurant you ever went to. “Who’s Dave?” you asked. And we didn’t have an answer for you. 

Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma

two

Blink. Just like that we’ve traveled once more around the sun.

As I strapped you into your car seat this afternoon–your legs somehow gone from chubby to gangly, all tucked up against the seat back–I took a good, hard look at your face and decided you are most certainly a little boy. There’s no more baby left there, I don’t think. Your features are so defined, so you. You’ve got little boy hair that’s always tousled. You’ve got little boy mannerisms and little boy expressions, and you run and climb and jump and ask for more anything that will flip you upside down or launch you into space. I try to rejoice in the little human you’ve become to keep myself from being just a tad heartbroken over not being able to go back.

And I really, really like you, little human. I would choose to be friends with you. You’re funny–really, you crack yourself up–and loyal and quick to forgive. You keep us, and yourself, company with your constant chatter. You like giving (and sometimes even getting) hugs and kisses. You ask us to “hang out.” And you’ve got verve.

I mean really, you’re fierce.

You are knock-down-drag-out willful, nearly 30 pounds of it. You fight for what you believe in (at least that’s how I interpret those tantrums that have begun to crop up), and you’ve got a brassy edge to you. I like you that way, although you have certainly brought me to tears, and I’m sure it will happen again. And again.

While this past year has been about us setting limits as your world has expanded, I have a feeling this next year is going to be about you testing those limits. As it should be. I just hope Daddy and I are ready for it. You have no problems advocating for what you want or making it known when you don’t agree with us. And you do it in full sentences and at full volume, often surprising us with the complexity of your thoughts and your syntax.

I’m not sure what I imagined when you were brewing in my belly two-plus years ago, but I never imagined a 2-year-old who could outsmart me. Daddy and I have taken to spelling words to each other, and on more than one occasion we have stopped dead in our jaw-dropped tracks. You seem somehow to be able to spell. You will repeat what we say verbatim, often tattling on one or the other of us. “Mamma said that,” you’ll say to Daddy, and when he looks over at me, I must sheepishly admit that you’re right.

And in this past year, you’ve gone from a relatively stationary object to a blur, half-tornado, half-hurricane, all ninja. You. Never. Sit. Still. You can climb onto the back of the couch in about two seconds flat, balancing on that top edge above the pillows so you can check out what’s going on in front of the house. You can maneuver monkey bars and climbing nets like nobody’s business. (Although you’ve fallen off of the rickety bridge at the playground and knocked the wind out of yourself at least twice. You cry for maybe 30 seconds.) Interestingly, you’re kind of lukewarm about slides and swings. Or maybe you just have to be in the right mood.

When you do slow down, you flop yourself down on your tummy to work on puzzles–you’re beginning to get pretty good at matching up more complicated pieces–or you pull books off of your shelves and flip through them. You love throwing balls (you’ve got a pretty good arm), playing with Little People (you’ve started to play pretend with them), making your trains go round their track and coloring. You also have an affinity for stickers, markers, magnets, flashlights, sticks of any kind (you call them “pew pew pews”) and all sports equipment (especially baseball bats and basketball hoops).

And you work up quite an appetite. We’re lucky that we’ve never had to battle you over food, and you often eat us under the table. Especially when it comes to pancakes. When you don’t eat, we know something’s wrong immediately. In fact, that was the first sign of your disastrous discomfort nearly two months ago when you suffered through an awful bout of Hand Foot and Mouth Disease, which I can easily say was, hands down, your worst sickness out of a pretty sickness-ridden year (that also included Roseola, ear infections, upper respiratory infections and more). Your favorite foods are hot dogs, the aforementioned pancakes, peanut butter and jelly, quesadillas and pasta. You love using chopsticks. You adore fruits of all kinds (but berries and grapes trump all), and you’ll willingly eat broccoli and string beans.

You are entirely your parents’ child with your sweet tooth. Or maybe teeth. You’re a fiend for cookies, ice cream, donuts and cake, and you’ll ask for them at the most absurd times. You don’t even really seem to care that you can’t have them. You just like talking about them. You’re pretty excited about the impending goodies that we’ve been promising you for your birthday, and when we talk about it, you say you’re going to “blow out the candles.”

When I think about where we were two years ago today, two years ago tonight (my water broken, hooked up to a fetal monitor waiting for labor that hadn’t begun), I realize how incomplete our lives were, and we really had no idea. You’ve filled spaces we didn’t know had to be filled. You’ve grown love we didn’t know needed to grow. And you’ve turned us into people we weren’t before, developing in us patience, empathy and a fierce sense of family. You’ve brought Daddy and me closer than ever. We have so much to thank you for, and you don’t even know what you’ve done.

Happy Two Years in this crazy place, Little Human. Happy Two Years to us, as we’re the lucky ones. May this year shine even brighter than the last and pass maybe a bit more slowly, ‘k? I love you SO big!

leaps and bounds

21 months

The hubbub in the house has died down post-Memorial Day cookout. The dishwasher’s running. The living room has been picked up. Food’s put away. My tummy and my heart are full. There’s something about having a lot of activity in the house that makes me feel satisfied, and the calm that follows it is even more satisfying.

You’re fast asleep–for hours already. I still wonder what you dream about–if you can remember the details of your day enough to recall them in sleep–and maybe the multitude of adventures we had this weekend are shaping your night thoughts. I’m glad we had the extra day off; without it, I would’ve been completely wiped out.

Between the outdoor time in the stifling heat, the pool, the sprinkler, the birthday party, the multiple meals out, the playground, the gardening and everything else, you’re exhausted–and so am I. You took a few marathon naps this weekend, and you’ve been crashing well before 8. This intensive time with you has felt like a luxury; our weekends are usually so rushed, trying to squeeze everything (chores, errands, play time) into two days. Having an extra day makes all the difference. Does anyone want to offer me a four-day-a-week job?!

We’re gearing up for more uninterrupted family time, as we’re off to the beach–for a full week this year!–with Nonna and Opa on Saturday. That gives us four short days to get everything prepped, packed and crammed into the car. And this after we packed and unpacked just a couple of weeks ago for a trip up to Massachusetts to visit Uncle Eddie, Aunt Lala and Hazel.

What a treat for you that was: You chased their chickens and collected their eggs; you rode in a wagon that Uncle Eddie pulled with his tractor; you had room to do nothing but run (through the sprinkler, even–a first!) on their huge property;  you had a built-in older sister to entertain you (I’ve decided that rent-an-older-sibling is a fantastic business idea); you ate delicious homemade ice cream and played on a couple of playgrounds; you hiked along the Mill River. It felt so good to breathe that fresh mountain air and to bask in having nothing in particular to do and nowhere especially to be. You had a ball, and Daddy and I had a chance to be grown-ups with our grown-up friends, which we think is important for our senses of identity and our happiness.

In getting to and from Massachusetts, you took your fifth and sixth flights, respectively. We managed to do it pretty cheaply (and they were easy-peasy, less-than-one-hour flights) with you flying as a lap infant, and it marked the last time we’ll be able to take advantage of that option. Next time we fly, we’ll be paying for a seat for you because you’ll be TWO. That happened extraordinarily quickly.

And as we enter the last quarter of a year leading up to that milestone, you’re growing by leaps and bounds. I’m fairly certain you’re stretching in your sleep; each day, you seem taller and more little boyish. We caught you with your leg slung over the top rail of your crib in attempt to escape, so we lowered it yet again–and this is the final frontier, the lowest setting. Next stop: toddler bed.

You’re getting excellent practice at climbing (and also running, jumping, galloping, hanging, crawling and shimmying) at the playground, where you spend most of your days (natch) now that the 40-Day Flood has ended and summer seems to be here to stay. And you work that playground like a boss. You’re up and down stairs and ladders and all other climbing implements effortlessly, and the other day–straight outta nowhere–you walked up to the slide, sat down, turned yourself around and went down backwards and on your stomach. What?! You were down and up again before I could figure out what had just happened. You’re also starting to make contact when kicking balls, your throwing arm ain’t half bad and you’re maybe (kinda) starting to figure out how to make significant forward progress on your riding toys and in your Cozy Coupe (as opposed to just pushing yourself backwards).

Other recent interests include coloring with crayons (rather than eating them, although you sneak an occasional waxy bite, still, here and there); playing with stickers; and preparing elaborate spreads of fake food and then demanding that we eat them. “Sit,” you say, pointing to the pouf in the living room. “Eat.” And you shove a wooden lemon toward us or, if we’re lucky, some “bread” that you’ve “buttered.”

Your language skills continue to floor us.

We’ve caught you responding to the TV when the characters–presumably either in Elmo, Super WHY! or Yo Gabba Gabba, the shows you request regularly–address the audience with a question. “What’s your name?” they ask. You’re very emphatic: “Ethan!”

You speak in full sentences, although much of it only you can understand, especially when you get going fast. Some of your latest gems include:

“Ethan push button and watch Nemo on the iPad.”

“Mamma, flip-flops hurting Ethan’s feet.”

“There’s a hole in the bucket” followed by insane laughter.

And–first words uttered upon waking up in the morning–“I need chocolate cake.” (You are my son!) This has led to some bargaining when I respond by saying there’s no chocolate cake. “Cookies?” “Nope.” “Goldfish?”

You talk so much, in fact, that we’ve realized we’ve gotten to the point that every parent, I imagine, gets to eventually: We respond exasperatedly to the endless “Mamma? Mamma? Mamma?” or “Daddy? Daddy? Daddy?” with a “Yes, Ethan, WHAT?”

I have to remind myself that you talking all the time is awesome because you’re able to express yourself using words and not by screaming or crying.

And that, Love Bug, is something to celebrate.

earning your wings

14 months

Oh goodness. I haven’t blogged in forever. It’s a compounding problem because when I’ve skipped many (many many) weeks of blogging, I feel like I have so much more to write. The idea of covering everything that’s happened over the past eight weeks (or more!) in a blog post feels pretty overwhelming. And because of that, I decide to put it off yet again and to focus on something else. In my defense, I’ve had hundreds of photos to edit, organize and upload, and photography always takes priority.

And now I feel silly defending myself on my blog about why I haven’t been blogging. Onward.

It’s been well more than a month since we landed in Verona, bedraggled and bleary-eyed after our first grand transatlantic adventure. It was much less traumatic than I’d anticipated. I think we were well prepared, or at least as well prepared as parents of a 13-month-old flying as a lap infant can be for approximately 11 hours in the air plus all of the airport time that goes along with an international flight.

We managed to get our three suitcases (one wheeled duffel each for Daddy and me and a much smaller, nonwheeled duffel for you), your car seat, your umbrella stroller, your diaper backpack, a second backpack and a large tote bag into the airport, checked/through security and to the gate with relatively little hassle. We were extremely, once-in-a-lifetime, won’t-hold-our-breath-for-it-ever-happening-again fortunate in that we somehow managed to book ourselves on a nearly empty flight. No one could explain why, but the 747 that would normally hold 370-something passengers took off with only 99. We learned this upon checking in and therefore dragged your car seat with us to the gate so we could strap you into your own seat. (I will never, ever underestimate the value of this, and my big takeaway from this whole trip is that I will never, ever fly with a lap infant who’s mobile again.)

You toddled around the gate area at Dulles, showing off your new upright moves, much as I did during my first transatlantic flight (in the other direction) precisely 35 and a half years earlier. You were asleep before we ever boarded, as we’d kept you up through your regular afternoon nap time, and you slept for the first two hours or so of the flight. You were up for a couple of hours and then you fell asleep for the night, tucked snugly into your car seat. We weren’t quite so lucky during the layover in Frankfurt; you woke up as we went through passport control and we had a tough time getting you to go back down. You did, eventually, but were up for the entire hour-plus flight to Verona, climbing all over us because we had to gate check your car seat.

So you were incredibly off your schedule and quite cranky during our first day in Italy, and you stayed that way, really, for the first three to four days. Meaning we did, too. We were so fortunate to have a beautiful apartment with a decent amount of space in which to take refuge. We even managed to figure out how to block you into the living room so we weren’t spending all of our time running defense for the plethora of stuff there that you could easily have destroyed if you’d set your mind to it. (You also seemed quite taken with Italian cartoons.)

We realized by Day 3 or 4 when you woke up screaming inconsolably in the middle of the night that perhaps there was something else going on. We took you to a pediatrician, a family friend, and he diagnosed you with an ear infection in one ear. He prescribed some antibiotic ear drops, and within 24 hours you were good as new.

We spent our time in Verona taking it all in at a relaxed pace. We saw your Nonno every day, and I reveled in watching the two of you get to know each other. It took hardly any time at all before you were cuddling up to him, and he was tossing you into the air and squeezing you. He took to calling you “Ercolino,” little Hercules, because you’re so solidly built. We wandered the charming cobblestoned streets of the center, stopping frequently to eat gelato, for which you are a fiend. You also couldn’t get enough pizza but turned your nose up to Italian cheese. We spent a lot of time with your zia Ila, who soaked up your cuddles, and we took some glorious day trips up to the mountains above the lake, out to the country and–most impressively–all the way to Burano, one of the islands off the coast of Venice. You were an absolute champ through all of it: happy, chatty, smiley and remarkably flexible, all told. We were pretty enamored of the schedule you adopted while we were there; you’d go to sleep between 8 and 9 p.m. and easily sleep until 8 a.m. What a treat!

We were less lucky with the plane situation on the way home. We were able to snag you a seat on the short flight to Frankfurt (that was nearly diverted because of an in-flight medical emergency) but the transatlantic leg was overbooked. We nearly volunteered ourselves to be bumped to the next day’s flight, but as they couldn’t guarantee us seats together, we stuck with the plan. Once we were in the air, you did beautifully: You played on the floor of the bulkhead until you fell asleep for the night, about halfway through the trip.

It took a good five days for all of us to adjust back to East Coast time, but after two days back, you started radiating heat with a super-high fever. Daddy and I were home with you for three full days, waiting for your fever to dissipate. By Thursday, you were back at daycare. On Friday, Ms. Gina, your daycare provider, mentioned she’d seen a slight rash on your torso. We took you into the pediatrician and were unsurprised by the diagnosis: Roseola. And now this, too, has passed.

Before we knew it, Halloween was upon us, and by then you were walking pretty well, even in your baby Moon Boots fresh from Italy. You were doing something funny with your right leg, though, kind of swinging it around in a strange limp-like movement, so I took you to an orthopedist. He wasn’t terribly concerned, and by the next week, you seemed really to have gotten the hang of it and were walking, steadily and diligently, everywhere.

Now there’s no stopping you. You’re fast and furious, and it takes all of our energy to keep up with you. Two weeks ago, when you’d fall from standing, your default reaction was to crawl. Now you tripod yourself and push back up to your feet. And it happened just like that, without anyone teaching you how. You’re so confident, you’d think you’d been doing it your entire life. I’m sure you’ll be running imminently.

At least you’re keeping us in good shape.


  
  
  
  
  
  

joaquin/walkin’

Posting this, despite never having finished it, for posterity’s sake. Spoiler alert: Joaquin headed out to sea, thereby sparing us all a lot of angst, and you’re now fully walking. Stay tuned for a major catch-up post on your first big adventure abroad.

13 months

Unpredictable powerhouse Hurricane Joaquin, churning over the Bahamas and absolutely battering them with its Category 4 wrath, is keeping us in limbo about the viability of our flight out on Sunday afternoon. Damn that weather system. Yesterday, it seemed awfully dire: It was going to race up the East Coast and all the way up the Bay–imagine!–and absolutely pummel us this weekend. Last night, after you went to bed, Daddy and I even cleared the deck of all objects that might possibly be picked up and flung by hurricane-force winds.

And this after we’ve been planning this trip for nearly a year. We even got our packing done last weekend, knowing we’d be pressed for time this week and seeking to avoid the stress of leaving things for the last minute. We still have a lengthy list of last-minute stuff to do and things to pack, but I’m feeling organized and on top of things, which hopefully will keep everyone’s blood pressure steady. We’re attempting to pack in two suitcases plus a (relatively) small duffle for you. We have a single carry-on (amazing) in addition to your diaper bag, although it’s fully bursting at the seams. We’ll also have your car seat and umbrella stroller, of course–and you!–so we’ll have plenty to wrangle.

I’m nervous but not nearly as nervous as I was before. At this point, I just want to head out.

Which is where Joaquin might foil our plans. We’ll know significantly more tomorrow, and all we can do is wait and watch to see what he’ll decide to do. (As an aside, is it weird that we name our storms? That we assign them genders? Every time I think of the storm, I see Joaquin Phoenix’s face–fitting, since I’ve never particularly liked him as an actor.)

list-making mode

12 months

The kugel for tomorrow night’s break fast is in the oven. Lunches are made. Coffee is prepared. The daily chaos you create in your room and in the living room has been made less chaotic. All of the little projects that come before blogging are done (I even finished up the photo book for your second six months, of which I’m quite proud). So Obie and I are curled up on the couch, and I can focus on filling in the seemingly huge gap since you turned one–an eternity ago.

Life has been a bit frenetic lately as we ramp up to our big trip to Italy–where you’ll meet your Nonno and get your first taste of my beloved Verona–in less than two weeks. We planned this months ago and kind of tucked it back behind all of the other things that came first: the beach, the summer, your birthday. Now it’s imminent, and I’m in full-on list-making mode. We’ve squeezed as many plans into September as we possibly could, and I’ve managed to keep this coming weekend free for last-minute whatever and for our first stabs at packing, if we can get around to it. I’ve been focused this week on stockpiling an arsenal of distractions–from a mini Doodle Pro to pipe cleaners to a little library of iPad apps–for the plane rides. I pulled out the iPad yesterday evening and let you go at it for the first time. It kept you busy for a full 20 minutes before you’d had it. Twenty minutes is good! Twenty minutes will do. Especially if I can get several 20-minute chunks out of it at a time.

I was exactly your age, 13 months old, when Nonna boarded an international flight (in the opposite direction, of course) to bring me to the States for the first time. I’ve been traveling overseas for my entire life, and yet this trip–this plane ride–is causing me angst. It got so bad at one point a few days ago that I told Daddy I wanted to cancel our plans. I’ve never been afraid of flying, but because we’re taking you with us, I’m having misgivings. It’s my responsibility to keep you safe, but in getting on that plane, I’m handing over that responsibility to someone else, and that’s hard for me to reconcile. The panic has subsided a bit since talking about my fears with several people, and I’m focusing on what lies on the other side of the air travel to get me through: 11 days of watching you get to know your Nonno, of walking you around the prettiest city in the world, of playing with your zia Ila and of eating better than we have in a long, long time. I’m anticipating you’ll initiate a long love affair with pasta. These things make me happy, but I’m wondering: Has anyone else out there traveling by plane (or overseas) with your baby for the first time had this same anxiety?

You, of course, are oblivious. You’re much too busy discovering more and more of the world each day.

You’re still not walking, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not getting everywhere you want to go as efficiently imaginable. You’re so confident on your feet, cruising everywhere while barely holding on. You can go up and down stairs without ever slowing down, and you’ve even begun to step up with alternating feet if we’re holding your hands and helping you lift yourself. You’ll take several steps between bases, like the coffee table the couch, and you’ll walk quickly and confidently while holding our hands. You just haven’t let go to do it on your own, but I know it’s coming soon. (You have your first pair of real shoes–the cutest little pair of Saucony sneakers I’ve ever seen–so we’re ready.)

You’ve got your third tooth, lower incisor just left of center, and you’ve begun using a fork to feed yourself. You’ve even gotten the knack of stabbing food with it and navigating it to your mouth. It’s not consistent, but you seem to like doing it, and even just holding the fork makes you happy. You have a great relationship with the whole milk we started you on about a week after your birthday; despite our concerns about an intolerance (we supplemented you with soy formula from the time you were three months old because you had such negative reactions to the milk protein-based formula), you’re handling it just fine with no apparent digestive fallout.

Your language has blossomed; every day, you spit out something new that catches me completely by surprise and makes my heart soar. In addition to mamma and dada (still not entirely consistent, but it’s clear you know who we are), you now say car (so clearly!), hat, cup, cat and kitty (that one’s new as of today). You can tell us how old you are (pointing your index finger), and you still look up and say your version of “round and round and round” when we ask where the fan is. You know the sounds that monkeys and ducks make, and you’re working on cows, pigs and cats. When Wild Kratts comes on, you sing the opening jingle: “Wild Wild Wild Kratts” comes out “wa wa wa.” One of your favorite expressions is “no no no,” and you’ll accompany it with a finger wag.

But it’s not just talking; your comprehension is astounding. You can make the sign for “butterfly” when you see one in a book. You throw your hands in the air when you choke and we say “arms up.” You do the same when we ask you how big you are. You point to your head and to other people’s noses on command. You know the words “ball” and “plane” (as they relate to your toys), and you know your dolls are named Luis and Andy (as in Raggedy). And you’re beginning to generalize, so “car” is both your toy cars and Mamma and Daddy’s big cars. “Hat” applies to Daddy’s, yours and the toy crown in your room. Also, you’ll pull out books and look at them intently, flipping the pages, whereas just a week ago your main goal was simply pulling them off the shelf and throwing them on the floor.

It’s all just so amazing to watch, to see the synapses connecting and know that you’re getting it. I could go on and on about other things you’ve figured out–to my surprise and delight–but I’ve mentioned the biggies. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

In the meantime, I’ll keep making lists while you figure out your world. Have an easy fast, everyone. May this new year bring us all much joy and peace–and may we all be inscribed in the Book of Life. ❤

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turn, turn, turn

50 weeks

It’s been a bit of an emotional week for me.

Early in the week, I learned a former colleague of mine–someone with whom I’d worked closely on specific projects but had left the university several years ago–died suddenly. She’d just turned 40 and leaves behind a little girl who’s getting ready to enter kindergarten.

Nothing hits me in the gut anymore like hearing about a child who’s lost a parent or a parent who’s lost a child. And when it’s someone I know, well, it feels like I might literally double over from the impact of it. I try not to generalize these things–not to think that because it’s happened to someone else, it will necessarily happen to us. But it’s hard to put it out of my mind. So I squeezed you a little bit tighter this week, slowed down to appreciate fully the moments we’ve spent together, especially the quiet, cuddly ones right before you go to bed when you allow me to tuck you into the crook of my arm, still, and rock you in the glider and Eskimo kiss you.

This death has also reminded me, once again, that Daddy and I really need to secure life insurance and draw up a will. I hate thinking about these things in the same way that I hate financial planning. I’d much rather just pay someone else to do it for me, but it will require some level of input from me, one way or the other, and I need to stop procrastinating to ensure you’re protected.

While I was processing the systemic shock of learning that someone I’d known relatively well had died, I got the news that your Aunt Danielle delivered a gorgeous, 6-pound-5-ounce, healthy baby girl on Wednesday. And so while the world lost a wonderful, kind, gentle human, it has gained one as well. Her name is Elisa, and I know you and she and her big brother Anthony will spend many afternoons playing together. I haven’t had a chance to meet this newest peanut yet, but I’m hoping to get over to see her and her mama this week. You’ll have to stay home, unfortunately, but you’ll get to know her soon enough.

I’m thinking a lot about your Aunt Danielle and how she now has two kids where once there was one. I can’t imagine this. I mean, not only can I not imagine having another baby, transforming our family of three into a family of four with an entirely different dynamic, I can’t imagine starting from scratch at this point. Here, on the eve of the very last week of your first year, it feels like we’ve come an exceptionally long way from where we were a year ago, battling to keep it together through murky, sleep-deprived weeks and struggling to get anything done between feedings. I quite like where we are now–it seems to me like a giant prize for sticking it out through the early months–and I’d be so reluctant to upset the beautiful balance we’ve achieved. (I’m pretty psyched to report that I’ve gone out for girls’ nights two weekends in a row! Daddy very graciously stayed home to take care of you, and you didn’t miss me at all.) I guess I’m not ready for another baby. And maybe I never will be.

In the meantime, your strength and independence continue to barrel forward as you check developmental milestones off your list. I’m attempting to catalog them here, but they’re coming almost too quickly for me to stay on top of them.

  • In addition to saying “mamma” and “dada” quite proficiently and appropriately now (my favorite is when Daddy or I walk into the room, and you spin around to greet us and say, “Mamma!” or “Dada!” as if you haven’t seen us in months), you’ve got a small vocabulary that we are able to decipher but may not be entirely comprehensible to the rest of the world. This includes saying “round and round and round” while pointing to the ceiling fan; making “eee-eee-eee” noises when seeing or pointing to a picture of a monkey; saying “one” and holding up your index finger when asked how old you are; saying “no no no” and wagging that same finger; saying “bye bye” (I heard this crystal clearly the other day when we left daycare) while waving; saying “quack quack” (but really it’s more like “ka ka” when playing with your toy duck); roaring when seeing any other animal, whether it roars in actuality or not.
  • You’ve got a second tooth! It just barely appeared a few days after the first did, but it’s completely caught up, and now you’ve got two nice, consistent central bottom teeth.
  • You’re cruising like a champ, and you’ve begun climbing. At some point, I’m sure you’re going to figure out how to climb out of your crib or over the gate. But for now, you satisfy yourself by climbing over low objects that are anywhere in your way, and you treat the living room like your own personal obstacle course. You also let go occasionally while holding onto a toy to stand on your own. We’re waiting for you to begin walking, which may be any day now or perhaps a couple of months down the road.
  • You climb the stairs like a little wind-up toy–you’re so fast! And you giggle like a maniac the whole way.
  • You can put the shapes in your shape-sorting toy, trying each shape in various different shaped holes until you get the right one. I am beyond impressed.
  • You’ve gotten to be somewhat pickier about your food, showing real preferences for carbs (shocker) and sweets (double shocker). You also love your steak grilled and slightly pink. You’ve started turning your head if we offer food you’re not interested in, and you’ll also shake your head and wave your arms to indicate you don’t want to do something or you don’t want to play with a certain toy.
  • We’ve finally said goodbye to your baby bathtub and have started bathing you in the big tub. You love it! You have so much more room to splash and play with toys, and you like swirling the bubble-bath foam around.

Next weekend is your much anticipated (by us–you have no clue) first birthday party, and the planning has hit a fever pitch. I’m both excited and nervous, since we brilliantly planned it right during your afternoon nap time. But the big cake and your little smash cake are ordered, and I’m dying with anticipation of you going face first. (I hope you do!)


  
  

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