Back to the Beach

Dear Love Bug,

Here we are, back in our beloved Chincoteague. This year may not be as beachy as years past; the weather looks just ok. But we’ll make do and we’ll still have fun. 

In the late afternoon, after unpacking at Misty Moon, we drove out to Assateague to make sure it was still there. Just kidding (but some years we worry). It’s there, and other than the addition of a bike lane along the road across the island, it’s more or less unchanged. We parked as far to the left as we could, kicked off our flip flops, and ran across the sand toward the water. It was incredibly windy and pretty chilly, so we zipped you into a hoodie. 

After launching a kite–it was great kite weather!–in which you immediately lost interest and retrieving a shovel to ward off a meltdown, you got to work digging, which is your favorite beach pastime. But when you’d had enough of that, you ran toward the water’s edge and absolutely squealed with glee at getting your feet wet. You were jumping and twirling, running up toward the drier sand and then back toward the waves. You’ve found your happy place. 

The next thing we knew, the water–all 65 degrees of it–had lapped your front up to your belly button, and you’d managed to sit down in it as it creeped up the shore from the breakers. I consciously quelled the OCD rising up inside of me and told myself it was fine. 

I continued to do so as you hauled your fully wet self up into the powdery sand beyond the reach of the water and rolled around in it. You became a sandy burrito. A very, very happy sandy burrito. 

It was hard to haul you away from there, but we did. And we stripped you down and let you air dry in the gentler wind near the car until you were clean enough to put on dry clothes (Mother’s Instinct FTW, but it failed to remind me to bring a towel). 

Tomorrow will be a true beach day, and you can dig and jump in the waves to your heart’s content–and to mine, too. 

Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma


Crossing the causeway, having just woken up from your nap. 

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from where we stand

26 weeks

They told me not to blink, but somehow it happened. And here we are, a full half year in, time racing away from me at a pace I’ve never known it to keep before. You’re six months old. You’ve hit too many milestones for me even to tell you how many they are anymore, “firsts” come and gone, never to be firsts again. It makes me a tiny bit sad in the midst of this hurricane of joy that has upended our lives. But really, I’m way too busy being happy to spend any time being sad.

As you lay across my lap this evening, having nursed yourself to complete relaxation as you often do at your evening feeding, I thought about how far we’ve come. You came into the world spindly and scrawny, and we exhausted so much energy those first weeks trying to get you to eat and to gain weight. Now, your Buddha belly precedes you, your thighs push the outer limits of your 9-month pants (!) and if we photograph you at the right angle, you have no fewer than three chins.

26percentThe tears I shed over our early breastfeeding woes seem like they defined a previous life, decades ago, and my heart dances for our success. When you were born, I said I wanted to breastfeed you at least two months. At the two-month mark, I said I’d be happy if we made it to four. At four months, I said that six months was my ultimate goal. Well, here we are, six months in, and you still nurse contentedly. I’m so proud of us–proud of you for sticking it out through the struggle and proud of me for not giving up when it would have taken so much pressure off of me to just let it go. (I still hate pumping, but I’ve found ways–like browsing Facebook and spending money on Amazon–that make it less tedious.) So here I am, one of the 26 percent of (American) full-time working moms who have breastfed their babies at least six months. I’m so very, very proud to have earned this badge; for me, it’s one of honor.

I’m also proud of how you accept your world and all of the new things you’re encountering. You’ve embraced solid food with gusto (although given my adoration of all things edible, that’s not surprising), and you are always willing to try something we put in front of you, grabbing it with your tiny, pudgy hand and bringing it, so efficiently, to your mouth to sample. So far, you’ve given carrots, sweet potato, avocado, parsnip, broccoli, apple, pear, banana and cantaloupe a whirl. Oh, and oatmeal (spoon fed, of course) is a clear favorite. You scream for it between bites and then want nothing more than to lick the spoon clean when you’re done.

You love water; you’ve learned to take (less-than-graceful) sips from a nosey cup, but when you see it coming, you can barely contain your excitement. I’m fairly certain you’d leap out of your high chair to lap at it if you could. You haven’t quite got the whole technique down–you often stick your tongue out into the cup, like the cats do–but you’re close. You’ve also tried drinking from a straw, but we’ve had less success with that.

You love water so much, in fact, that last weekend, when we took you outside for a few minutes during the biggest snow storm of the winter–it dropped about 10 inches–you grazed some of the light, fluffy snow off the top of our yard and stuck it immediately into your mouth. Yum! Cold! You did this consistently for the 10 minutes we were out there.

When you’re not focused on feeding yourself, you’re rolling about or on your tummy, trying to inch yourself toward a toy. In fact, you’ve managed to pull your legs up underneath you in an attempt to crawl, I think. You’re not there yet, but we’ve been watching your early experiments with the mechanics of it all. You’re also now sitting up with no support; that happened just this past weekend, and Daddy and I nearly died. One minute, you were tipping over from a sitting position as you’ve been doing for months now, and the next minute, you were sitting up and righting yourself when you started to lean. It’s incredible. This makes bath time lots of fun, as you no longer have to be propped up in your tub. You reach for your toys, sometimes tipping forward face first, but you navigate that small space like a pro.

These developmental leaps of yours simply amaze me. You study everything so carefully, really drinking it in, exploring everything (primarily with your mouth) and then processing it. Inanimate objects are fun, but things that move on their own are the absolute bee’s knees for you. The cats are your favorite things ever; you smile and giggle every time you see them, and I’m so thankful for them–for the pure glee they bring to your life.

This past week, Nonna had to take a couple of sick days (hired help these days … ), so I took a day off of work to be with you and then Daddy took one, too. On our day together, we went to Storyville at Woodlawn Library, a Disney World-esque wonderland for kids built around reading, playing and imagination. There are all sorts of fun areas there that I know you’ll delight in exploring when you’re older (a tree house, a caboose, a theater, a play house, etc.), but for now, we hung out in the Baby Park. You sat on the foam floor and played with new toys (new to you)–preferring the ones that made the most noise, of course–and we read a few books. You didn’t want to leave, and we’ll be back frequently, I’m sure.

Today, in our effort to dedicate some time every weekend to an activity that’s you-focused (it’s so easy to putz around the house all weekend when we’re working full time, and there’s always so much to do, but this is also our only uninterrupted you time), we’re taking you to the National Aquarium for the first time. I can just imagine how you’ll react to seeing all those fish and sharks and skates and eels and turtles swim about. I’m excited for you!

What fun life has become with you! You’re at such a delightful age now. And what a difference from those first six or eight unending weeks when we couldn’t understand how or why anyone would want to have a baby and certainly not more than one! Well, I get it now. And with your milestones ticking away so quickly, I can appreciate the inclination to keep having more kids, just to have a little bit more time immersed in these wonder weeks when everything in beautiful and shiny and new.


This Week in Guppy Growth

  • Sitting! You are sitting up by yourself, completely unsupported, and doing a bang-up job at it, too. You’re able to compensate when you lean, and you only very infrequently topple over anymore. Crawling’s not too far down the line: You’re managing to scoot forward a little by bringing your knees up under your chest. It’s still pretty disorganized, as far as movements go, but you’ll get there soon enough. Daddy and I have a lot of work to do to get the house ready for that step.
  • We finally took the changing pad and bassinet off of your Pack N Play and turned it into a playpen; we’ve stuffed it with toys, and you seem to enjoy spending time in there. It’s great for us, since you’ll entertain yourself for good chunks of time while we take care of things like bottle washing and lunch preparing.
  • You love going places with us in your Baby Bjorn One carrier, which has replaced the K’tan, which we used exclusively the first few months. We tried turning you around to face out, and you are happy with this new arrangement. So much to see!
  • I think we may have to lower your crib mattress. It’s on the list for this weekend.
  • You’re fascinated with two toys that had been “saved” until now:
    • a wooden Zany Zoo block with activities on all sides. You like to stand next to it (supported, of course) and hold onto the wires bent all which way on top and play with the beads that slide along the wires.
    • a push toy (in “non-push” mode) that looks somewhat like a lawn mower but has lots of moving stuff on top that you can bat at.
  • Just this past week, you tried cantaloupe and pear. You’re a huge fan of both.


your pet revelation

24 weeks

You have two furry siblings who joined our family about six and a half years before you did. Asterix (a demure, sweet, independent Tuxedo girl) and Obelix (an affectionate, somewhat neurotic beige tabby boy) are considered “domestic medium-haired” cats, but by the amount of fur that collects nearly instantly after we vacuum the house top to bottom, I would guess they’re part Wookie. They have always been fairly spoiled, which set the stage for what we anticipated would be a pretty messy disaster once you arrived. To our (rather pleasant) surprise, things have been going relatively smoothly.

Have they been neglected? More yes than no. But still, Daddy and I make time to cuddle them when we can. We’ve tried to provide them with new space that’s entirely theirs since we took their room away to make it yours. They’re no longer allowed in our bedroom, but that’s a holdover from when you were sleeping in there with us. Daddy’s sinuses have been so clear since we stopped letting them sleep with us that it’s evident they never should’ve done so to begin with.

Certainly, it’s been a bit of a tough go for them, and it’s taken them until now to warm up to you. When I say “warm,” of course, I mean tolerate and very occasionally rub their heads against your feet.

You, on the other hand, are enamored. You break into huge grins when you see them, you stare at them for long minutes at a time in rapt curiosity and sometimes, if they do something particularly cat-like, you double over in belly-laughing jubilation. You’ve even managed to grab a few chunks of fur here and there (more so from Asty, who seems to dislike you least but is, perhaps, learning to keep her distance). I love that you’ve started to realize that your fursiblings are of entertainment value; for the first few months, they didn’t register with you at all.

Since we don’t have dogs at home, Daddy and I have been thoughtful about exposing you to our friends’ pups, as we don’t want you developing fears of any types of four-legged companions. A couple of weeks ago at your friend Anthony’s house, after Anthony had already gone to bed but you were refusing to do the same, your Uncle Mikey sat you on his lap and played fetch with their dog Roxy. Every time Roxy would retrieve her toy and bring it back to you, you’d squeal with glee. Oh, how it made our hearts dance!

So this past weekend, we took you over to your Aunt Catherine’s house for lunch. You sat in your high chair and made mash out of sweet potatoes, and when we were all done eating, you snuggled on the couch with her puppy, Louie. He was so very patient with you, and you licked him about as much as he licked you. At one point, you lay down together like two peas in a pod, and you rested your hand so sweetly on his back. It was all going superbly until you snatched up one of his ears and didn’t let go when he tried to walk away. We’re now working on “gentle.”

Mimi stayed with you three full days this week, filling in while Nonna was out of town. It was so nice for you to have that intensive time with her and with Bee Bee, who was with you on Sunday and Wednesday. Mimi said you were an angel. Obie was less of one; he peed on your activity mat for the first time ever, and it required us taking apart the rubber play mat beneath it (which breaks down into about a million fist-sized chunks of foam) and soaking it in the bathtub. We weren’t smart enough to prevent it from happening again, so he peed on it the next night, too. Well, we learned our lesson: The activity mat stays off the floor when you’re not using it, and you’ve nearly outgrown it, anyway.

All of this moving things around in the living room–and the fact that you’re growing at lightning speed–has led to some changes. You love your big-boy stroller, especially now that we’ve outfitted it with the cozy cocoon of a BundleMe (we got the large size, which goes up to 3 years old, so you have some room to grow into it), and you’ve nearly flipped yourself out of your baby bathtub a couple of times. Now we’re thinking of packing up the Pack N Play that has served us so well; it was set up for you before you came home from the hospital, and it’s been there ever since. You’ve made excellent use of it, but we’re now mostly using it for the attached changing pad, which you outgrew long ago. You have to bring your knees up to your chest to fit in it anymore.

In less than two weeks now, you’ll be six months old. That big number is staring me in the face and scaring me; I feel like time has gotten away from me, and try as I might, I can’t make it slow down. You tried feeding yourself avocado this past week, and while it was hard for you to grasp because it kept slipping up and out of your hand, you didn’t seem to mind it too much. It’s definitely not your favorite, though. That honor goes to oatmeal, which you take by spoon (as if you’ve been doing it your entire life), followed closely by sweet potato.

Today, in honor of Valentine’s Day, you’ll get to try banana. Sweets for my sweet. You’ll also try water from a cup; we bought you a special training cup with a cutout for your nose. You took a spoon so well, even on the first go, that I have high hopes for the cup. We’ll see.

Happy Valentine’s Day! My heart has grown bigger than I ever thought possible because of you. I love you so very, very, very much–so much more than a bushel and a peck.


This Week in Guppy Growth

  • You are sitting up on my lap without any support at all. Amazing. When I put you on the floor to sit, though, you still kind of slump to one side.
  • You received your first passport. You’re well on your way to becoming a seasoned world traveler with a bad case of wanderlust, just like your parents.

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