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!)



a secret language

47 weeks

You’re rounding the corner on 11 months, and it seems every day brings a new discovery for you–or a discovery on our part of something you’re now capable of doing.

Yesterday afternoon, after I’d picked you up from daycare and we were sitting on the living room floor playing, you pointed at the stereo, which we’ve come to understand means you’d like us to turn on music. (The first time you did this, I was absolutely blown away: Not only do you know what music is, but you know to ask for it to “turn on” and you know where it comes from?!) I put on some Zucchero Fornaciari, and you started bopping in place to the rhythm, clapping your hands and smiling goofily before going about your business.

After Daddy came home, he asked you, “Where’s the stereo?” and you pointed right to it. I was amazed! Somehow, you’ve picked up the word “stereo” and know that it refers to that delightful box on the shelf with the music and the flashing lights. Then I asked, “Where’s the fan?” and you pointed at the ceiling. You identify a handful of things by pointing: light, fish (which you associate with the fish mobiles in your room; you’ll point at any one of the three under-the-sea-themed hanging decorations), cat/kitties or either of the cats by name. You even know Luis is your doll; when we ask where he is, you crawl over to pick him up.

But when I say “where’s Mamma?” you kind of look absentmindedly around the room or stare back at me blankly. “Where’s Dada?” gets the same reaction. Daddy and I are not just a little puzzled that you clearly know your doll is named Luis but you show no indication of knowing that I am Mamma and that he is Dada.

We’ve been trying to rationalize it: Maybe you know us by other names (like our first initials, which is how we often call each other) or maybe you think it’s weird that we’re referring to ourselves in the third person and therefore refuse to acknowledge us. So we’ll continue to wait, patiently, while you giddily embrace “Luis” but not us. Humph.

I’m also fairly certain that you’re trying to say “cat,” which may wind up being your first (discernible) word. You’ll point to one of the kitties (who, by the way, have perhaps accepted the fact that you’re not leaving any time soon but certainly haven’t warmed up to you much beyond that), and I’ll say, “Cat. Do you see the cat?” And you’ll say, “Kah. Kah kah.” I think you’re also attempting to say “round,” although it comes out sounding nothing like that. One time, you pointed at the fan and I said, “It goes round and round and round and round” while pointing at the fan and moving my arm in a circle. You imitated me! You actually pointed, moved your arm in a (kind-of) circle and said “wah wah wah wah” in the same cadence as “round and round and round and round.”

Oh, what fun this is! (Although I can see how we’re going to have to start being careful about what we do and say.)

I spent a recent evening pumping session (yup, still pumping, although I have it down to three times a day during weekdays) reading the motor skills development book that Nonna lent to us when you were first born. I read the 10- and 11-month chapters and was pleased to have confirmation that you’re right on schedule. Some of your major motor milestones didn’t even register with me, like how I can hold out my hand for whatever you might have in yours and you’ll pass it to me. I always praise you for sharing when you do this, but it didn’t occur to me that it’s a pretty significant motor development. Then I’ll hold the object out for you to take, and you’ll grab it back.

You’re side sitting, ring sitting, long sitting and kneeling nicely. You’re cruising along whatever you can find to pull yourself up on, and especially all over your crib, even navigating the corners (although they’re the easier concave corners as opposed to the more difficult convex ones on the coffee table). You’ll transition, standing, from one source of support to another (couch to coffee table, say). You will push an object, moving forward, for a short period of time. I feel letting go must be right around the corner. I don’t want to rush you, of course, but man, are you getting heavy.

This Month in Guppy Growth

  • You are obsessed with your index finger. You use it to point to everything. If I hold mine out, you’ll touch the end of it with yours, ET-style. You use it to jab at your food and mash your blueberries. And recently, you’ve discovered two holes in your nose that are perfectly finger shaped and you like to rest your index finger there.
  • Recent food adventures include teething biscuits (delightfully time consuming for you to polish off), tomatoes, French fries and popsicles.
  • You love clapping along to the song we made up for you, and as soon as you hear it you know to start clapping: There is a boy who is a joy, and Ethan is his name-O. E-T-H-A-N …
  • Magnets are your most recent favorite toys. You discovered them at Nonna and Opa’s, where you have access to the fridge, and then Nonna bought you an alphabet set to keep at home. Daddy rigged up a magnetic “board” by drilling holes into a 16-inch pizza pan and tying it to the gate in the living room. It’s not as tall as the fridge is, but you still have to stand up to interact with the magnets.
  • We’re starting to move you out of your 12-month clothes! But still no teeth.