Twice Around the Sun

Dear Baby Ike,

Wednesday of last week was your second birthday.  If I am to believe the subject lines of Baby.center.com emails, this means you are now a preschooler!  But let’s be real – Mama will keep calling you Baby Ike, at least on occasion, as long as she can get away with it.  At the same time, you are certainly becoming a true big kid in some ways, so I will compromise and try to come to grips with the fact that you are at least solidly in the toddler range – technically you most likely will not start any kind of preschool program until next year, so I can for now at least semantically justify the procrastination of using that next categorical designation of tiny human.

Most of the time now you refer to yourself as Ikey, a nickname which grew on me more quickly and more fiercely than I anticipated.  When Grandma first started calling you that I honestly wasn’t sure how much I liked the sound of it, but coming out of your own mouth it seems 100% fitting.  All the other things coming out of your mouth, which are way too numerous to even attempt to quantify at this point, are nothing short of astonishing.  For barely two, you are quite verbal. You want to know the name of everything (WAT’S DAT!) and spend a lot of time identifying things and people you’re quite sure of (DAT’S MOMMY. DAT’S A TEEVEE!).  You repeat lots of new and old phrases every day, earning your moniker of Little Parrot (IKEY’S A WITTWE PAWWOT), and your sentence constructions and emphasis and expression never fail to impress me (WAT’S GAMPA DOIN’ OVER DERE?).  We’ve only had a handful of incidents (so far, anyway) in which you repeat somewhat unsavory things you overhear Mama or Daddy or one of their friends saying – the best of which had to be the time at Aunt Jeni’s house when the XBOX remote’s batteries died, meaning we couldn’t set you up with yet another episode of Daniel Tiger or Super Why.  You immediately declared this injustice to be BULLSHIT!  Nice use of context, I guess?  I don’t think anyone even tried not to laugh.

Your love of reading and books continues; you can pretty much recite the entirety of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and the expression you use for each turn of events kills me dead every time.  As much as I try not to let you insist and win on reading AWWWWWW DESE BOOKS before every bedtime, I’ll always let you sneak that one in before lights out. I need to enlist someone to help me get it on video soon, before your pronunciation goes up another notch toward proper – it’s already making me nostalgic for the time when the remotes were MEAT-MOTES and you didn’t have the S sound down pat yet.  Even Gamma and Gampa now sound more like Gramma and Grampa, though the Rs are still a bit W-ish.  I have, however, developed my own private conspiracy to keep you saying rhino-nocerous.  I have to think and say it very slowly to get it correct myself anymore.

You’re solid on the ABCs, colors, and basic shapes, and most of the numbers up to but not quite including 30!  I’m not sure you get the numbers concept nearly as much as you do letters (N. E. T. F. L. I. X. – DAT SPEWWS NETFWIX!), and you usually try to skip over 14 through 16 or 17 to get straight to 18, with a similar pattern through the 20s, but I’m still pretty astonished that you seem to have absorbed so much, so fast.  Sesame Street FTW?  Speaking of the Street, we had your birthday party on Saturday, and the word of the day was FUN.  In no particular order:

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Like last year, you were more interested in the fruit on/in your cake(s) than making a big messy cake-face, but at least this year we did not have to resort to putting Chee.rios in the frosting just to entice you to take a bite.  I’m pretty sure you had a great time.  A few of your friends were able to come, and you all had big fun playing in the pools and running around in the yard and in and out of the house.  You stayed up waaaay past your normal bedtime, and showed off some of your new imaginative play skills (pretending to be a dog and barking, which sounds remarkably like Dexter, at the window and the front door – when asked what you’re barking at, you reply DA MAIWMAN). You definitely have an independent streak, which I love to see (IKEY CAN DO IT AWW BY HIMSEWF!), even when it means slowing the progress of some tasks or activities to match the viscosity of molasses.  You’re also starting to show more of your imagination in playing with toys, feeding blocks to the caterpillars (because they’re VEWWY HUNGEE, you know) and prompting me to feign sadness (MOMMY SAD!) so you can give me kisses to cheer me up (you bet I’m a sucker for that game!).  I started asking you to “Guess what!” a while back, and answered for you with “I love you,” which you’ll now say back most of the time. That is, when it’s not an Everything is No (NO EVERYTHING NO!) time of day.  If it’s time for everything to be NO! then you say NO WUV YOU instead, but most of the time I can turn that into Mommy Sad and still get a kiss (tricky Mama!). Sometimes it morphs into I WOOF YOU, which I guess is Dog for the obvious?  You haven’t really explained, you just laugh (DATS FUNNY!), but it seems like a fairly educated guess, and perhaps your first pun.  We practiced a couple of those last night, and while I’m somewhat doubtful that you really grasp the concept of jokes with words yet, you definitely do enjoy it when DAT SOUNDS FUNNY!  Or, now, DAT’S PUNNY!

You also got your first haircut last week.  I was rather loathe to dispense with your natural, spiral-curl rat-tail, but even without it some curls remain.

Before

Before

After, without much humidity

After, without much humidity

During

It’s already been a great start to summer with you, Ikey – I’m so looking forward to the rest of it, and to everything that will follow.

Love you much,

Mama

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21 Months

Dear Baby Ike,

As of this last week you are 21 months old, and hurtling headfirst toward your third year.  I’m not sure you completely grasp the concept of a birthday, but we do often have a little rote-memorization conversation geared around it:

“How old will you be on your next birthday?”

“TWOOO!”

“Right.  And how old are you now?”

“None.” [holds up one finger]

“Yes, one.”

“Old!”

“Yes, one year old.  What happens on a birthday?”

“BIRTHDAY CAKE!”

So we’re definitely looking forward to that.

I rarely capture a decent photo or video of you when you are anywhere but trapped in your highchair these days, so I try to get at least one video every weekend.  The rate of language acquisition for this stage is still a bit mind-blowing to me.  You can name all the letters of the alphabet, can count to ten (and then to twenty, sort of – you’re clearly a bigger fan of some numbers than others), name almost all of the shapes in your shape-sorter toy, and are much more confident about identifying colors than even a month ago.  It’s crazy to me.  I don’t know why, but every time you display a new bit of knowledge, I’m all, WHAT IS THIS TODDLER SORCERY?!?

A few weekends ago it was actually warm enough to play out in the backyard for more than a few minutes, and as you ran around throwing a tennis ball for the dog, offering him sticks, and sniffing/hand-mulching last summer’s dead black-eyed Susans, you started chanting “GOOD ENOUGH.” For several minutes I wondered how I’d already set the bar so low…then I also heard a refrain of COOKIE, COOKIE, COOKIE and was thankful you were only quoting that particular monster’s most famous song. Phew.

Your assertion of independence is showing up right on schedule. Every task or activity is a split between HELP ME (still sounds more like HOLD ME at this point, but I definitely know better) and NO! IKE DO IT! Your love of books continues unabated, and your affection for Sesame Street has morphed mostly into a constant begging for TEEVEE ON so you can watch the ‘songs.’  One awful-weather weekend of this never-ending winter I made the (genius?) mistake of searching for Sesame Street songs on the You.Tube app on the X.BOX rather than just pulling up full episodes on Net.flix.  There have been more cold, gross weekend days this winter than I would like to admit during which we went through the loop of these favorites more times than we should have:

But it’s hard to have many regrets about it yet.  When TEEVEE ON is not an option (which is way more often than you’d prefer – screen time what?), you’ll quickly resort to requesting MOMMY SING, and hahahaaaaaaa mommy is no vocalist, but you still get a kick out of my Bruno Mars or Elvis Costello. I’m particularly proud of my Usher, frankly.  We’ve also watched some of the new Cosmos series with you – while it’s not entirely age-appropriate, it’s definitely Mama-approved TEEVEE.  I think you’ve picked up on that, because when we won’t let you have YYYOOOO-TOOOB, you’ll inquire about second-best NEIL?  It’s hard for me not to give in to that!

Lately you also love asking for TUMMY (tickles) and CHASE IKE and most recently ZERBITS (belly raspberries). Sometimes a combination of the three is the only way to get a clean diaper on your butt.  We recently introduced potty chairs, but you rarely have any interest other than disassembling them or perhaps sitting on them fully clothed.  You’re much more interested in the BIG POTTY (until you slam the seat or lid down on your own fingers, of course – that seems to be a lesson you need to learn the hard way more than once, somehow).  We’re in no hurry yet, but I remain hopeful that some extended naked time this summer will change your mind about the whole deal – probably famous last words on my part, but we shall see.

Some of the things I end up putting in these letters are more to remind myself, years from now when I can’t believe I’ve forgotten when you first did this or that or stopped doing the other thing, than things you’ll probably ever care about:  you still nurse here and there, pretty much only before sleep, on evenings when I am home for bedtime and/or weekend naps. Your separation anxiety seems to come and go and take on different forms these days.  This past weekend I spent Saturday night out of town, and your father reported that you were pretty pissed I wasn’t there on Sunday morning, even asking him to NURSE (just wouldn’t have been the same, I know, but I applaud your sense of egalitarianism, young man).  If you wake up in the middle of the night, which isn’t often anymore, you’ll usually ask for CUDDLE these days rather than to nurse.  So while I don’t have any particular cutoff point of weaning in mind (yet), I think we may be nearing the end, an idea which is bittersweet for me.  I never thought we’d go much past a year, but there doesn’t seem to be any pressing reason to wean, either (I quit pumping at work around 16 months).  I’ve been making a fairly conscious effort to give you plenty of Daddy-time lately (to not gatekeep, since there has never been any need nor any benefit – though I’ve seen lots of families do that, I didn’t always have a name for it), since when we are both home he sort of gets the cold shoulder from you at times, me being the “anchor parent” for now.  I think it’s helping, though it may just that we’re nearing the end of the phase, or at least the worst of it – you spend Wednesdays with him rather than with Grandma now, and this morning when I left for work there were no tears, just kisses. But you do still have a canine-like dislike of ‘strangers’ on your home turf(s).  When an appraiser came to Grandma’s house one day, you were terrified, and when a friend of your father’s stopped by this weekend while I was gone, the same reaction.  FREAKED OUT.  But you love to go out and see other PEOPLE!  And CHILDREN!  If we had more any money to spare I’d start you in preschool now, but sadly it’s going to have to wait a bit.  I recently found out that a local children’s museum also operates a preschool, and can’t quite stop lusting after the idea, despite the tuition being RIDICULOUS not exactly affordable for us.  It would be SO COOL to send you there, even for a short period of time.  Right now it doesn’t seem possible, but…a few years ago, neither did YOU, and that worked out pretty well, didn’t it? (YES, YES IT DID.)

Love,

Mama

 

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Daddy makes COOOOOOKIES (oat-a-meal, in Ike-speak).

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From back in November, at your Uncle Mikey & Aunt Steph’s wedding (ringbearer – box full of Cheerios only).

A crazed grin is better than no grin ‘tall. (Photo credit to your ‘Aunt’ Jeni)

One Point Five

Dear Baby Ike,

This month you had your second half-birthday.  Eighteen months!  This holiday season has been quite a whirlwind, and you have reached such a fun stage in your development. I apparently didn’t use much of my vacation time all year, so I ended up being done with work for the year a week and a half before Christmas; having all these days to spend with you has been ridiculously fun thanks especially to the explosion in your speech.  So many new words, many of them quite hilarious (to me, anyway).

To back up, we traveled to your paternal grandparents’ home in Alabama for Thanskgiving last month.  This was your second trip down there, but this time we drove during the daytime instead of overnight. I was skeptical that you’d be able to handle that much time restrained in your car seat, as you are normally very busybusybusyalldaylong exploring and playing and being generally on the move, but you actually did great.  We only stopped a few times each way, and you were fairly content to babble to your stuffed buddies or snooze or whatever you were doing back there for such long stretches of time.  I was amazed (and grateful).  Your grandparents of course had a ball playing with you and letting you show off all your new words and skills.

Christmas was, well, everything a toddler could want, I think.  You love the trees, pointing them out to me each morning anew and waiting for them to be lit up.  Only a couple of ornaments have been obliterated, one of which appeared to have been gifted to the dog (I’m sure he thanks you).  We didn’t go see Santa this year.  I couldn’t bear the idea of paying money to subject you to an almost certainly upsetting stranger-hairy-dude’s-lap situation for a photo op.  You are fairly adept at opening presents, though, so perhaps next year you’ll be game.  I don’t plan to push it; we’ll just have to see what you think at the time.  Your favorite gifts have probably been the various basketballs, baseballs, footballs, etc.  Every time you come across one (we really need to sort through and weed out our toy collection!) you exclaim BAW!! as if it’s the first time you every saw it.  If it’s a basketball you pick it up and request a lift to the ‘hoop,’ which we try to oblige whenever possible.

I had been trying to keep a list of particularly amusing words as you started using them, but I’m sure this will be woefully incomplete, as your language has taken off at lightning speed.  Most start off as a bit of a puzzle, of course, until I hear them a few times at least in the right context, at which point I usually catch on.  Like BECK-OHH.  That one stumped me for a bit; at first I thought you’d picked a favorite piece of heavy equipment from one of your books at my parents’ house, but then you said it as we were getting ready to drive home, and it dawned on me:  ohhhh, BUCKLE, not backhoe.  Yes, we have to buckle up! Before we can drive HOOOMMME.  You always say, ‘Home, Mama.’ Yes, drive home with Mama.  So it goes like that.  You say something a couple of times, I scratch my head and ask what that means, I eventually get it, and then we add to the conversations we’re now able to have. I love both being able to understand you and how you relish being understood.

The Sesame Street obsession is in full swing.  Your favorites seem to be Bert and Ernie, plus Elmo and now Murray.  At the end of every episode when he reviews the letter and number of the day, you are usually jumping the gun to beat him to saying PEACE!  We are working on the accompanying hand gesture, but I admit that I find it a little too charming for your own good.  Too often I let it convince me to allow one more episode, especially since you now can ask so politely, tacking ‘please’ (peathe) on to your request for ‘more’ (mow).  Huzzah, we have rudimentary manners!  Including ‘thank you,’ though it sounds like little more than ‘tee too’ at this point.  Context means a lot right now, certainly.  I even got a ‘sorry’ (sowwy) after you chucked your Bert and Ernie figures at the floor instead of putting them back on the coffee table as requested.  You gave Bert a smooch and apologized to him.  I died.  Anyway, yes, Sesame Street is your thing right now, and I admit to loving it, too.  You get super excited for Abby Cadabby (Abby-da), Oscar (Otter), Big Bird (Bird), and Mr. Noodle (Doo).  I get super excited to see you so excited.  And so chatty.

Let’s see…what else do you like to talk about these days?  You’re quite good at identifying many body parts (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, cheeks, chin, head, hair, knee, feet/tootsies, toes/piggies), my favorite of which right now has to be elbow (EHW-BOWWW).  I’m not even sure where you picked that one up, other than perhaps me lamenting that you have peanut butter or applesauce or yogurt or some unholy mixture of two or more all over them after a high chair session.  In addition you enjoy identifying the dogs’ tails and paws. Also…animal noises!  You know the doggie (BOW WOW WOW), kitty cat (meeowww), sheep and goat (baaa), horse (neeeiiighh), donkey (eee-awww), cow (merrrr/mooo), etc., etc., etc.  It blows my mind daily how much you now know and can communicate.  Even a few non-concrete concepts, like empty (eee-pee-tee) are popping up.  I may be easily impressed at this point, but I am impressed nonetheless. Some of it is so silly, like how you call milk ‘moo juice’ (thanks to Grandma for that one).  When I say that it’s cold outside, you say ‘brrrrr,’ and you know that if we go outside you have to wear a hoodie (perfect prononciation on that one – hoo-dee – ridiculously cute).  I would swear that today you were telling me I was boring (burring?), but hopefully that will turn out to have a better translation soon! Maybe even tomorrow (mowwow), in the morning (mooorning), when you wake up ‘HAPPY!’

Food continues to be fun.  You name almost everything you eat anymore, and haven’t gotten too picky yet.  Weirdly I can hear a difference between the word berry when you use it for blueberries (buwwy) and strawberries (bawwy), which reminds me – you can pretty much recite The Very Hungry Caterpillar:  all the fruits, most of the Saturday foods, including pickle as of today, and you seemingly randomly interject POP! (out of the egg came a tiny and very hungry caterpillar) on most pages.  Where was I?  Oh yes, food.  Thanksgiving proved you love turkey, though strangely you do NOT like mashed potatoes.  No tragedy; perhaps you just need to learn more about gravy first.  You like all kinds of pasta (pat-a, or as Grandma calls them, ‘ronis), every fruit we’ve tried (we should plant an apple tree, you run to the fridge screaming for apples at least five times a day), and more vegetables than I’d hoped, including sweet bell peppers of late.  When a blob of applesauce hits the high chair tray rather than your mouth, we say SPLAT (bat) and you giggle because what’s more fun than making a mess?  Maybe only feeding the dog (ugh, we are working on that).  When you’re done you rip off your bib (beeb).  Well, if I’m lucky you wait until you’re done, toss your leftovers to the dog, and start chanting NONONONONOOOO, DOGGIE.  Mixed messages, much.

You’ve started recognizing some letters, some colors (orange, in particular), and several shapes, which we practice while we crayon scribble.  It’s surely only exactly age appropriate, but it still freaks me out a little.  You are getting so big, so fast, something I ask you to explain every time I pick you up (how did you GET so big??).  Before long you’re going to be reading to me instead of the other way around. You started saying your own name in the past couple of weeks (EYE-DAC/EYYYDE), along with all the other things I meant to remember. You LOVE taking a bath, and demand bubbles every time you see running water.  Brushing your teeth is still a struggle, but your Uncle Jim built you a learning tower for Christmas, which has helped a lot already – we still have to finish and paint it but are already using it in the bathroom in the meantime, and you love it, and ask for LEARNING! every time you pass the bathroom.  Sometimes you just chant Mommy, mommy, mommy, and I can’t help but tell you yet again, Yes, I am your mommy.  I LOVE being your mommy.

Love,

Mama

Fifteen Plus

Dear Baby Ike,

More than two weeks ago already, you turned fifteen months.  I’m clearly having just as hard a time keeping up with these letters to you as I have keeping up with you these days.  You are very much on the move.  The pitter-patter of your still fairly tiny feet sound off at a pace that I suppose qualifies as running.  I can put you down in one spot, turn my head for just a second, and then have to guess which direction you went.  Usually, if we haven’t taken care to put Dexter’s water bowl up out of your reach, you’ll be found in the inevitable puddle.

At your fifteen month checkup with the pediatrician, you weighed in at 22 pounds and three ounces, and were measured at 30 inches tall, which again puts you right in the middle of the pack for weight, though on the shorter side.  Your head circumference is still on the higher end of the curve, which makes it very tempting to dress you up as Charlie Brown for Halloween.  All we’d need is a yellow tee shirt and some electrical tape!  While you still don’t have much hair on top of your head, you have sprouted some length in the back.  Business in the front, party in the back, baby-mullet style.  I already don’t ever want to give you a haircut, but your father will likely prevail before I let you look like too much of a flower child.

Really, I should find you a little doggie costume for Beggar’s Night, as that is still your favorite word, followed closely by ‘birdie’ and ‘apple,’ which sounds more like ‘ahh-puuuw.’  I can’t get enough of it.  When we read the Charley Harper ABCs book we borrowed from the library, you’ll chime right in on B is for BIR-DEEEE and D is for DAGG-EEEE. You find much joy in putting Daddy’s baseball cap on my head, which serves as a great distraction during the diaper changes you’ll hardly hold still for anymore.  You’re picking up more and more words every week, including ‘hat’ and also ‘head,’ which you’ll throw your hands onto when asked where it is.  You also say ‘cheese’ (kee) and ‘keys’ (dee-dee) and probably at least seven other words that I am forgetting right now.  Oh yes, PEE.  We hear that with regularity during diaper changes. You call every infant or kid, and some adults too, in photos or random product packaging, ‘bee-bee’ (baby).  When you see pictures of me and your dad you point and exclaim MOMMY and/or DADDY.  I’m a little sad to have Mama fade into Mommy already, but you still bring Mama back every once in a while, for which I’m ridiculously, sentimentally grateful.

It takes you a little while to warm up around new people or those you don’t see very often, but sooner than later your curiosity takes over and you’re all explorer, checking out what you can get into if we’ve taken you to a new place.  As we move further into toddler territory, I know that we need to set firm limits on a lot of things, but I hope that you will keep that overwhelming curiosity at the same time.  I love watching you discover the world, giving names to things, and seeing your face light up at our excitement as you start to say those names out loud.

Next month you’ll be the ring bearer in Uncle Mikey and [almost technically legally finally] Aunt Steph’s wedding.  Your tiny suit arrived last week.  I’m torn on whether to look further for dress shoes for you or to just let you rock the black and white sneaks you already have that are probably almost close enough to fitting to work.  I honestly have no idea how you’ll react to a church full of guests looking at us (I will accompany you as the Flower Maid – a hybrid of bridesmaid and flower girl) and oohing and ahhing over your cuteness.  Around the house or out and about you will sometimes take my hand and lead me over to show me something, but I don’t necessarily expect that to work well on the spot.  I’m searching for some much lower than I’d normally wear heels, because I expect I might end up having to pick you up and walk you down the aisle. Hopefully having Daddy at the other end will help; you can always steal the show taking off running toward him.  I just hope that if you do become the center of attention it’s not for thrashing or screaming or earnest fussing.  As long as I don’t try to brush your teeth during the ceremony, we probably won’t cause too much chaos…though those may be famous last words!

The next letter I write to you here will be for your half-birthday.  I can’t wait to see how much you change between now and then.  I know it will be a lot, but as the months go by, I find I can never quite imagine the amusement (and some frustrations, of course) you’ll provide for us next.

Love you so much,

Mama (hanging onto that as long as I can!), better known now as Mommy

Photo credit to your Aunt Jeni

Stopping in to see all the ladies at Aunt Steph’s shower.

Lucky Thirteen

Dear Baby Ike,

First, even though you are now a near-expert in the art and science of toddling, I declare that I will continue to call you Baby Ike (Toddler Ike really has no ring to it, sadly) for as long as I can get away with it.  I’ll try not to use it too often just to get under your skin when you’re a teenager, but I will never say never.  It’s fun to imagine you at thirteen years of age, but for now you are thirteen months, as of last week two weeks ago.  I do hope to continue writing you these letters, though it will probably happen with less frequency as you continue to get older.

So yes, you are definitely becoming more of a toddler and less of a baby every day.  You walk unassisted from one end of the house to the other in the most charming tiny-drunk-person fashion I’ve ever seen (bias:  showing).  You would much prefer to feed yourself than let us spoon things into your mouth, though you will still occasionally tolerate apples(auce), because they are your long-standing favorite. Sweet potatoes and carrots, though, have been shunned, and we do need to work harder at continually offering green vegetables, lest you end up as picky as your father.  You have been introduced to cows’ milk, and are taking to it just fine from what I can tell.  You do continue to nurse, and I am so happy that we made it to the one year mark and beyond, but I am bracing myself for the day when you’ll decide you’re done.  I am in no hurry, only hoping it will be a gradual process and I’ll continue to be able to appreciate the quiet moments we’ve had throughout our nursing relationship as it winds down.  I’m sure I’ll be sad when it’s over, but I’m hopeful we’ll find plenty of new ways to share closeness and cuddles.

I am pretty sure that you attempted to say the word “apple” (AAHH-BUH) the other day, along with “ball” (BAH) and “book” (BUH).  I still have no idea what “MEEE-NU” means, but I can at least surmise that it must be lots of fun for you to say and play around with variations on the theme; we hear it and things that sound almost like it an awful lot.  Most, if not all, of the animals that you see are declared “DOGGIN!” and you eye me with suspicion when I tell you that they are actually sheep or horses or cats, not doggies.  You may be earning yourself a new nickname with that tendency; your Uncle Mike pretty much just calls you Doggen.  I die of cute when I hear this.

Last Friday we (Grandma and ‘Aunt’ Jen and I) took you to the Columbus zoo.  Of course you fell asleep just before we arrived, so in order to let you try to get a decent nap we ended up clicking your car seat into the stroller as if you were a teeny-tiny still, rather than wake you up to put you directly into the stroller.  This was not the best configuration for you to see much, so there was much lifting you out to see the animals and luckily I had also brought a mei tai carrier, so we alternated between the two all day.  You were pretty much a champ all day long; we didn’t leave until around five pm, and you crashed hard in the car on the way home.  Hopefully next year we can go back while the larger animals like the giraffes and elephants are there, or maybe to The Wilds where they apparently were that day.

In the carrier at the zoo

Your top two teeth are finally starting to work their way in.  These two are being a bit rougher on you than the first bottom two were.  It seems like most babies your age have several more already, so I’m not sure whether to be grateful that yours are spacing their arrivals out more, or worried that you’ll end up losing them slowly, too, like I did as a kid, and some will end up needing to be pulled in order to put braces on adult teeth coming in behind the baby teeth that won’t want to fall out.  We have a long time before that will become clear, though, so for now I just hope that additional teeth will help you want to explore more foods (you really may turn into a Cheer.io, I fear). All I know for sure is that your smile is about to be even cuter, though I wouldn’t have ever thought it possible.  I am still completely in love with your dimple and I get ridiculously excited when I manage to capture it in a photo.  On Sunday we took you to a local park for more baby swing action and also let you play around on some of the playground equipment as there were hardly any other kids around. As we stood at the edges of the platforms to make sure you didn’t toddle right off, it was hard yet fun to imagine that you’ll soon be stomping around and climbing and jumping and we won’t always need to be right there next to you while you explore.

It’s so fun getting glimpses of the world through your eyes.

Love,

Mama

(photo credits to ‘Aunt’ Jen for the above shots)

Bonus Instagram playground pics:

Eleven

Dear Baby Ike,

Yesterday you turned eleven months old.  Without looking back at my past ten letters to you, I’m willing to bet that the second sentence in each one has something to do with my disbelief that another month has flown by.  I suppose it should go without saying, but it continues to be remarkable to me, every single month.  It’s very hard to believe that next month we will celebrate your birthday, but the calendar doesn’t lie, and I can’t wait to see your first cake-covered birthday face.

The speed at which the days and weeks go by is not the only fast thing around here these days.  At approximately the speed of light, you went from all army-crawl scooting to short spurts of halting hands-and-knees crawling, and now to full on, full time crawling as if you’ve been doing it forever.  Plus lots of pulling up to standing and now cruising from one piece of furniture to another, testing your balance, holding onto our fingers and walking from one end of the house to the other.  You’re a pretty good sport about the bonks on the noggin that will happen most of the time, and you don’t mind falling on your butt from standing at all.  I thought at first it was due to the extra cushion from the prefold diapers, but you’ve done it many times during naked baby time (airing out the butt to try and get on top of some diaper rash) now, too, and it doesn’t seem to make any difference whether you plop down on the diaper or just your cute little baby cellulite covered tush.  The toys that used to occupy you for good chunks of time are much more often now cast aside in favor of whatever you may find somewhere else, simply because you can take yourself there now.  And you do, all the time.  We finally got a little weary of trying to head you off before you take a dip in Dexter’s water bowl and moved it to the counter.  Now we just have to remember not to dehydrate our doggie.

Speaking of doggie, I am pretty sure that you did.  Just yesterday we stepped outside the front door to look at the clematis blooms and Dexter was sitting on the back of the couch (as he does when someone goes out front without him – we are not the best dog trainers, for sure).  You noticed him there and I could swear that you said DOGGIE!  That one hasn’t been repeated clearly yet, so it may be a fluke or my imagination, but we have started to get lots of in-context Dadas and some Mamas (I wonder if you’d say it more if I didn’t coach you as much).  There is a monkey-with-banana decal on the wall above your changing table (which you now FREAK OUT every time we go near – not loving diaper changes AT ALL these days), and as I try to distract you with it, making monkey noises (dignity?  don’t need it), I asked you what a monkey eats – does it eat a banana? And you replied, ‘ANA!  That one has been repeated pretty clearly a few times now, though I’m honestly confused on what qualifies as a first word.  Must it be intelligible by anyone other than your father and me? I’m guessing so.

I was just starting to get concerned that we haven’t seen you wave bye-bye or clap yet, but yesterday your Aunt Jen came over to watch you for an hour or so while your father and I went out to do some stuff and we returned home to you waving bye-bye.  High five, Aunt Jen (context will come, I’m sure).  Still no clapping, but you do give fives (high, low, and mid), you still raise your arms up to answer Sooo Big when asked how big Baby Ike is (if you’re in the right mood, of course).

We’ve been trying to spend some time outside as often as possible now that the weather is finally staying pretty nice most of the time. Just sitting with you on a blanket in the shade under the Japanese maple in the backyard is probably my absolute favorite thing to do right now.  You alternate between turning random pages in your books and watching birds as they fly around the yard from tree to tree.  You are not yet a big fan of the texture of grass, though.  You touch it willingly, but then make a scrunchy EW face and give a little shudder, not unlike your reaction to the taste of green beans.  When I picked a blade that had gone to seed and twirled it around and tickled you, though, you thought it was hilarious.  This morning you were so interested in the cable guy climbing the pole in the corner of the neighbor’s yard that you held my hands and walked barefoot through the grass for several feet, apparently forgetting that you dislike touching it so.  Won’t be long until you’re all over the yard all on your own, not holding onto anyone or anything.

You’re still somewhat in the stranger/separation anxiety stage. Thankfully you are so happy to be with Grandma that every workday morning doesn’t involve tears upon my departure, but you often shyly lean into the shoulder of whomever is holding you if someone you’re not familiar or comfortable with approaches you.  As with all these phases, this too shall pass, and I am not ashamed to admit that I quite enjoy those snuggles, knowing you feel safe with us and will turn right to us for comfort when needed.  You do have your social moments, of course.  When we went out to eat with Grandma and Grandpa for Mother’s Day, we waited in the bar for our table to be ready, and as Grandpa carried you around to see all the things while killing the time, you got very smiley and played up your cuteness for at least one pretty girl.  When we get the timing right (soon after a second nap of the day and not too close to bedtime), you’re a delight for an early bird dinner out.

Your eating and drinking skills have advanced way past the days when I called you Stinky Milk Neck (pincer grasp, check; sippy cup, check), but now I can call you Stinky Feet Ike – when I pick up a foot and sniff it, make an EW face and tell you it’s soooo stinky! you laugh and laugh and laugh.  I’d do it all day long if it wouldn’t get old.  We try to keep baths to when they are absolutely necessary so as not to aggravate the few spots of eczema still hanging around, so they may indeed be stinky sometimes, but I often catch a whiff of your lingering baby smell and wish it could stay forever.  A couple of months ago a friend of mine came by as we were getting you ready for bed, and as she leaned in to give you a smooch on the cheek she asked in surprise how you could still smell like a newborn baby.  I’m not sure exactly how that works, but if I had to guess I would say it’s mostly due to you still breastfeeding, which I’m very happy about.  I don’t know how much longer we’ll be able to keep that going, but I will surely be sad when you begin to smell more like little boy than little baby.  I wish I could bottle up that scent and keep it close forever.

Love you so much,

Mama

Let me out!

Double Digits

Dear Baby Ike,

Two days ago you turned ten months old.  TEN!  I don’t mean to shout, but I have to emphasize it to myself somehow so I can really try to grasp it.  For some reason, going from nine months to ten seems like a big jump from mostly-baby to nearly-toddler, and I won’t even try to pretend that is easy for me to believe.  You are having no problem showing us how serious you are about the transition, though. As usual, I will catch on eventually – just in time to be dumbfounded by the next stage, I’m sure.

This month brought your second case of the sniffles.  Well, this one I actually think solidly qualified as a true cold, as you were a little more miserable than the first time around.  Between that and your first two teeth coming through, as evidenced here,

Two Teeny Tiny Teeth

you more than earned those very first couple of doses of ibuprofen. The first time you seemed to like the taste, but after that you were less cooperative, which required us to get a little creative, putting it into your applesauce or a little milk in a small bottle.  I hope that it eased your discomfort when you needed it, and I’m grateful that you haven’t had more than those two cases of illness so far in your short life.  It’s no fun at all for anyone, but I imagine that not even understanding why you feel so icky doesn’t help at all when we keep coming at your face with tissues and damp washcloths to clean up the nose faucet and try (but mostly fail) to prevent the dreaded crusty nose.  I know that there will be both colds and teeth to come that will be much harder on all of us; thankfully these initiations in each were not as awful as I probably feared as I realized they were starting.

I had just begun to think you weren’t going to bother with a true crawl before you started standing and walking, but in the past week or two I have seen you do a few deliberate “steps” up on hands and knees before reverting back to the army crawl/scoot you find so much more efficient.  You are quite the little speedster with that method, sliding along the hard floor after a toy that catches your eye or, more often, the dog’s toys or water bowl.  You’re getting to be such a  little explorer.  You’ve also pulled up to standing at the coffee table at least twice, and can stand for a second or five without support on occasion, though I don’ t think you quite realize you’re doing it yet. You will take a few awkward steps while holding onto our fingers, wobbling back and forth and giving us a tiny glimpse of your toddler days quickly approaching.

You’re continuing to develop your sense of humor, cracking up out of the blue at something I do or say.  Sometimes I can recreate it later and get more giggles, and other times you look at me like I’m just insane, which I find equally delightful.  You turn the pages of your board books for me at story time before bed and before naps on the weekends, and most of the time when we ask you, “How big is Baby Ike/Isaac?” you will lift your arms high over your head to answer “sooo big!”.  You still like to bang your hands on tables, trays, toys, or nothing, so we are working on converting that into “fives,” both high and low.  I’m thinking that will be what gets you clapping soon; patty-cake merely perplexes you so far, but peek-a-boo is still a big hit.

When I prompt you with “can you say Ma-ma?” you usually reply with either one mmmMEH/mmmmMUH/mmmmMUM or three MAs these days, and we are getting a lot more unprompted Da Da Das.  Your babbling and squealing is taking on the cadence of conversation more and more every day.  On one hand I am already wistful for the long gone days of mere coos, and on the other I am eager for the little chats about everything and nothing that are somehow just around the corner.

Love you so much, Ike.  Looking forward to what the next month and every one after has to bring!

Love,

Mama