I think we will have to call this installment the Too Much Cuteness Edition, or the Too Many Paragraphs Edition. I am completely unwilling to decide which of the following 24 pictures is not awesome enough to make the cut.
This month was long and busy. It has been the longest in my career as a mother. September 16 seems to be about two years ago. I don’t even know how many times you’ve been sick since then. It’s never anything terribly dramatic (well, except once) but you are getting bug after bug. You have one right now, gunking up your little face, and I couldn’t say for sure if it’s the same one you had six days ago.
During this long, long month you attended your second wedding (Auntie Gwen and Uncle Pasha) where you made quite an impression with your ball gown; you spent some quality time with Nana & Papa’s four enormous black dogs (you were not unnerved); and you met a bear (or maybe we should say the bear met you).
The most memorable moment for me, though, was walking through the mall one night in Edina, Minnesota. Just minutes after Papa snapped a handful of cute pics of you walking along beside me, holding my hand all serious, like it was the first of many shopping excursions you’d be taking me on, you graced the both of us with a diaper explosion not to be rivaled. And of course, I happened to have no wipes along on the trip. You went home mostly nakey; I went home very stinky. That was two days before our 13 hour road trip home, at which point your plumbing issues remained unresolved. It was just one facet of our 2013 Unforgettable Trip to Minnesota.
Speaking of you walking, you still aren’t, really. You have progressed to the point where you will at least give it a mildly interested attempt if we prompt you, but you never last for more than a couple steps. You really come alive as a walker only when you are playing with the two neighbor girls, Ciera and Lisi. They are about 7 and 9 years old, and they are your besties. You love to walk back and forth between them to the sound of their cheers. You love to hold their hands, walking between them. You love it when they get down on all-fours and do the Mowgli Walk, flanking you. It’s just true love, all around.
I love it, too, because I get a break from being the hand-holder. The thing is, you love to walk, but only when you have someone to lead along. You reach for a finger (or two if you can get lucky) and then just charge ahead, like you’re walking a lazy dog. You have conscripted several unsuspecting grown-ups at church this way, recently, much to their amusement.
You’ve been sleeping long hours. That fact, combined with your ongoing enjoyment of evening entertainment in the form of torturing your brother while he’s trying to go to sleep, has been making for some late mornings. It’s past 8:00 and you guys are still snoozing away. I’ve been really thankful for the productive mornings lately. It seems like you’re just in one long growth spurt, because you finally don’t seem like a such a shrimp. You’ve got a belly on you now and you are getting tall, too. You’ve finally left behind all the 9mo clothes and are even starting to fill your new 18mo outfits already. It happened really fast, and I’m sure that’s one reason for all the sleeping.
You’re also eating like a champ. I know last week I said you were being a fickle eater but you seem to be done with that already. You just shovel in everything you can and then start up with your cute little “more please” that sounds like a car engine quietly trying to turn over. Usually this ends in your brother generously sharing half of his meal with you, since he can’t seem to be bothered with eating these days and is all too happy to be off the hook. You don’t seem to care what food is offered, though you are loving oranges especially, and you have done your best to rival me for sheer volume of lentils consumed in a two-week period. (I cooked a whole bag at once, and you are liking every form they take.)
When we pray before a meal you have learned to hold hands quietly, but you get so excited that you jump the gun with your “Amen” and start to giggle about the food on its way. Also, your sign for “Amen” is “Thank you.” You are confused about a lot of signs, which is funny. Any time I ask you to say something you start by signing “all done” and often cycle through “thank you” too. You’ve gotten the sign for “milk” down now, and there’s one sign that I never taught you but you picked it up from observing your brother. You are instantly accurate if I tell you to say “sorry” and you sign it exactly like Jacob. It is happening more and more, too, because one of your favorite pastimes is grabbing faces.
Your spoken vocabulary is expanding a bit. You love to say “Uh-oh.” You’re getting more willing to experiment with imitating our words and you say “Mama” sometimes. And you love to answer “What does a cow say?” but you have trouble with the M, so it comes out “Boooooo.” That is also the answer to “What does a monkey say?” or “What does a pig say?” or “What does Jacob say?”
The other question I ask you a lot is “Where’s Meredith’s head?” There are lots of related questions and you rarely get the answer right. Sometimes you’ll respond to “Where’s Mommy’s nose?” correctly, but that is mostly because you like to grab my face, as I mentioned. Mostly, you just look all proud and smack your head. Today I wanted you to go away because I was in the middle of dealing with Jacob, so I said “Where’s Meredith’s book?” and you touched your head like a perfectly trained monkey.
You are still nursing, which I’m glad for, but it is getting to be more and more of an ordeal, because you can’t seem to stay focused for long. You always have to stop to play one of your two official nursing games. The first one is moving your mouth like a dramatic fishy and making a quiet “Pah-pah-pah” sound, which you continue to do until I respond in kind. The other is a variation, in which you stick out your tongue and open your mouth wide and stare at me like that until I do the same thing. But it’s not funny enough to get me looking like an idiot: the goal of this game is to reach out as fast as possible and try to touch my tongue. You’re a gross baby.
You have been learning to to get your groove on when you hear music and it cracks me up because you are totally white about it. Jacob had some pretty good moves as a baby but you just look like you have no idea where the beat actually is, though you show plenty of enthusiasm.
You also love to sing the doxology with us and say the Lord’s Prayer, which we do every morning. When we sing you stand up and hold Jacob’s hands and just kind of tremble at the knees a bit for sheer joy, like you’re almost dancing. You usually “sing” in your completely non-singing baby way. You also seem to think “Let’s pray” is an invitation for you to verbalize your own concerns, which makes complete sense, you verbal baby.
At bedtime you are learning to give kisses and you and Jacob just live for that moment when we tell him it’s time for “Sister smooch” and “Sister squeeze” and then you just crash into each other and giggle. There is a lot of giggling and a lot of crashing in general between you too and I expect it is only going to get much, much, much worse. I wish the moments after we left your room at night were equally happy between you, but you continue your chosen pastime of screaming at your brother in short bursts, grinning daggers straight into his soul until he starts to weep. Please find a new form of entertainment.
At naptime we have a lovely ritual of snuggling on Mommy’s bed. You get a fresh diaper, nurse while I sing you a song, and then you snuggle into the crook of my arm like I’m your own personal arm chair. I tuck in your blanket and put your monkey and your dolly in your arms and give you your paci and then I read you a book or two. I don’t think there’s a moment of your day that you love more. Then I pray for you and put you in the pack-n-play in my room with a kiss and a book. You hardly notice that moment, though, because you’re just waiting for me to go away so you can get down to reading your book some more.
You love books and I love to watch you sit in the middle of a pile of them, flipping the pages of one after another. It occupies you endlessly. Usually you stick to your cardboard books–you have quite the collection and a pretty obvious hierarchy of favorites–but when I’ve left my Bible on the coffee table sometimes I have to jump across the room to rescue it. I fear it’s only a matter of time before you will leave a permanent mark on it. The other book that fascinates you is my tiny Book of Common Prayer. It’s small enough, with a tight enough binding, that I don’t think you could keep it open long enough to rip a page, so I let you sit and leaf through it to your heart’s content. I’m OK with you liking that.
You have a small collection of favorite objects besides books. First, Jacob’s red Radio Flyer scooter. You stand on it with both feet. If someone drags you along, that’s great, but if not just perching on it suits you. One evening I sat out on the porch reading my book, my foot on the scooter behind yours to stabilize it, and you just stood there people-watching while the big-kid neighbors played in the grass. Second, the little treasure box I made you by sticking an array of tiny objects in an empty tissue box captures your attention for long periods of time. In general you just enjoy any chance to put things in and take things out. It’s interesting watching you do this because it’s not about the physical business of flinging things around. You’re very particular, and you are as interested in putting clothes back in a drawer as you are in taking them all out. Unfortunately, you’re not quite as good at the one as you are the other. Third, is the yellow bumbo chair. The other day I discovered you patiently climbing in and out of it over and over again. The amazing thing was, it was underneath a dining room chair. You had your silly self wedged in there so tight! I don’t think there’s anything you like more these last few days than this activity.
You’re still passionate about climbing. You’re finally learning to climb backwards down the stairs somewhat safely, though you’re also starting to get an itch to climb stairs like a walker, which you will not be getting authorization for anytime soon. Your favorite spot to climb is the step-stool in the kitchen. You peek up over the countertop and watch what I’m doing, and I keep a leg behind you so you don’t fall backwards. You are pretty fast at trying to snitch anything in reach while I’m cooking.
You love to brush your teeth, and you say “brush” when Daddy asks you if you want to do it, but you completely hate baths. You just stand up in the tub and cry like you’re afraid of the water. You also don’t get that many baths, so I guess you’re doing OK. Daddy’s schedule is frustrating this year, with two nights a week of class in the hour before bedtime, so our bedtime ritual has often been a little clipped recently.
You are a snuggling pro, which is so much fun. You love to be held anytime for no reason, and if you’re feeling the least bit sad or tired you will just nuzzle right into my neck. After nap time you are always in the mood for snuggling, and you hold onto me or Daddy like we’re the best thing that ever happened. I feel so lucky that I got a snuggler.
I think my favorite thing that you do lately happens when we go grocery shopping. You sit in the cart and watch for nearby strangers and then you look right at them and grin. I swear that grin is so big you could say it’s loud, so loud it can be heard. That must be true, because invariably whoever you’re grinning at ends up turning to look at you and then suddenly you have made yet another person’s day. You do it with so much flare and persistence it’s like you’re on a mission. I get people commenting on it every time we shop. I love you for loving people, and I love you for being so generous with your ability to make them happy, and I hope you will never, ever lose that.
I love you.