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,