Sunday, February 1, 2015

Dear Addy - 3 Month

Dear Addy,

Well, second child syndrome has clearly set in.  I missed your two month letter.  I’m sorry.  The truth of the matter is that I’m not entirely sure there were a lot of memorable things that happened in your second month.  I think it was harder.  Way harder than the first month and by FAR harder than your third month.  It’s possible that I have blocked some things out.  So let’s just say that in your second month you were unbearably cute and you cried a lot.  Your mom handled it gracefully, never losing her cool and always maintaining a loving, gentle composure.  This is how we will choose to remember month two. 

So – happy three month birthday Addy Rose!  On this, the actual occasion of your three month birthday you have a terrible cold.  You are cranky and irritable when awake, but you’re sleeping a lot and eating and drinking and weathering the cold in much the same manner I would; grumbling and whining but persevering nonetheless.

You started daycare a little over a week ago and just like your brother, that has made a WORLD of difference.  Overnight you became a different baby.  While I was home with you you took approximately 75 naps a day, each one approximately 45 minute in duration.  Now you apparently take 2.5 naps a day and – most importantly – you sleep through the night.  YOU.  SLEEP.  THROUGH.  THE.  NIGHT.  I don’t even want to throw that out into the universe because I’m afraid to jinx it but your Aunt Mary has a lot of witchcraft up her sleeve and she, so far, has turned you into a happy, content baby who sleeps through the night.  Here’s the thing – you have a baby and you barely survive the sleepless nights and then somehow all of those memories are erased from your brain.  So you have a second baby and you vaguely remember that the first couple months are hard, but you can’t specifically remember how they turned you into a crazy zombie lady the first time around.  This is how mother nature has ensured survival of the species.  But I think there should be a celebration to mark the occasion when your baby starts sleeping through the night because it is at this point where I turn into a mom and not a crazy zombie lady who may or may not be fit to be responsible for your survival. 

Anyway, disregard all that.  Just remember that I was always gentle and composed and showered and cooked wholesome meals from scratch for my family.  The whole time. 

Early signs indicate that you are in love with your brother.  The feeling, so far, is mutual.  If we put you on the floor (which is your favorite place to be), he will inevitably roll one of his big trucks up next to you, show you a video he’s watching on my phone, or sometimes read you a book.  You gaze at him adoringly and wiggle your whole body.  I don’t know how long this mutual adoration will last.  Probably only until you are old enough to steal Henry’s toys.  I’m going to enjoy this for however long I get it though, because it is adorable.

Daisy also adores you.  I think she gives us a silent plea every night to please stop making more little people, but the little people who cannot jump on her or try to ride her are infinitely preferable to – well, you know.  She still loves your brother, but she’s very wary of him.  She’s protective of you.  When you cry, she runs over and sits on my foot.  When I give you your bottle right before bedtime, she sits in the dark room with us until I shoo her out.  We’re so lucky to have a dog that also acts as a nanny, even if occasionally she tries to sit on your head. 

Like your brother, we have a bunch of nicknames for you already.  You are most often Addy Rose, but I also call you Rosie a lot.  And Bubs which is a mutation of baby to bubby and then bubby to bubs.  I'm sure it won't end here.  It's a miracle your brother even knows what his real name is - and I'm sure your fate will be similar.  

You are my sweet, beautiful girl.  Now that I’m back at work, I know that time is going to fly by and you are going to get so big so fast.  I’m looking forward to learning your personality and watching you grow.  You are the final piece in our family puzzle and my heart overflows sometimes when I see how the whole thing has come together.  Five years ago, I never could have imagined we’d be in this place.  Our lives took a direction we never expected and it’s so much more than we ever wished for.  You are the answer to a prayer, a dream come true, and we will cherish you forever.

Love and kisses all over,


Dear Addy - 1 Month

Dear Addy,

I guess we should just address right off the bat that everything in your life will probably be late.  I am constantly running about 10 steps behind these days.  Is this second child syndrome?  Sure.  We’ll call it that.  But I am still doing it, which proves that it’s not a lack of love, it’s just a lack of organization,hours in the day, and ability to sit down and organize my thoughts in the 30 minutes of “free time” you give me every 6 hours or so. 

It is hard to believe that it has already been a month since you showed up and rocked our worlds.  You spent your first couple days creating lots of drama in the hospital.  We had issues with your bilirubin and despite our interventions, your numbers kept going up which meant our interventions kept going up.  You wound up spending 24 hours wrapped in a bili blanket and then 24 hours with a bili blanket/bili light combo.  My hormones were a little out of control at that point so I may have reacted a little dramatically when the doctors gave us this news.  There were lots of tears and my heart broke repeatedly for you, but you took it like a champ.  You kicked up your feet and lay under those lights like it’s what you were born to do.  And then, by that second day, your numbers went down and they let us go.  I was so proud of you.  You basically came into this world kicking butt. 
It’s a good thing too, because about two weeks later you came down with your first cold.  Your big brother is pretty much constantly sick and he had croup the weekend we brought you home so we figured your days were numbered.  We’re going on two weeks with this cold now and it has turned into a terrible cough that physically pains us to listen to.  The doctor says there’s nothing we can do though, keep you hydrated, shoot saline up your nostrils, steam up the bathroom and hang out in there singing Christmas carols.  Pray that God cuts you a break soon. 

Speaking of your big brother – he wasn’t so sure what to think of you at first.  We think he thought you belonged to your Aunt Sara.  The second time he came to visit us in the hospital, he came clomping in and his first words were “WHERE’S SARA?” as if he couldn’t understand why she wasn’t taking care of her baby and why I had to stay there to pick up her slack.  I think he’s figuring out that you’re not going anywhere now.  I think he actually loves you very much.  He calls you “my baby” and you’re the first thing he runs to when he comes home from daycare every day.  He likes to pet your head and “nuggle” you.  He also likes to poke your eyeballs and stick his fingers up your nose, but we try to limit his opportunities to engage in those activities.  You’re too young to really “get” him yet, but you know when he comes home.  The atmosphere in the house shifts and you get quieter, more alert, as you tune into his voice and the energy he brings with him.  This is going to be a fun relationship to watch form and grow.

You are a sweet baby.  I don’t know if you’re easier than your brother is (aside from the drama and the illness) or if we were still just in “baby” mode so you’re not as much of a shock to our system as he was at first, but I feel like I have more energy this time around.  I definitely have more patience and am enjoying this maternity leave more.  It’s still hard.  It’s still a 24 hour job and sometimes I still find myself hissing at you to please just give me five minutes to eat this sandwich – but I’m less afraid to put you down so I CAN eat that sandwich.  Also – coffee.  This time around I have embraced the need for coffee and it is doing wonders for my coping skills. 

You are snuggly and warm and like a narcotic to my soul.  I can hardly hold you without slipping into a dream/sleep state.  I will hold you up to my chest, gaze into your eyes and wake 3 hours later to find that we both apparently passed out without meaning to.  You may be starving and dirty, and I am definitely starving and dirty, but there we are, curled up together in a warm, snuggly embrace like it’s the only sustenance we ever needed.  Maybe it is.  It seems to be working for us.  You’re growing like a weed and I?  I am keeping my cool SO MUCH BETTER this time. J

Welcome to our crazy, loud, messy, loving lives Addy Rose.  I hope you will love it here.  We already love you so so much.  You filled a hole that we didn’t even know was there, and now our family is complete.  We can’t wait to learn and grow with you, to watch you become the amazing and wonderful person you’re destined to be.  We’re here to help and love and hold you up – and to never let you forget that.  Here’s to a great new adventure.

Love and kisses all over,


Dear Henry - 2 Years

Dear Henry,

You are two.

One day I woke up and my little boy was gone.  This giant kid was in his place.  Your gangly, awkward baby body was filled out by this solid, tall big boy body.  Like, overnight you learned out to speak in complete sentences and your vocabulary increased by like 125% and then came the moment that your dad and I were sitting on the couch and you said “Be right back, kay?” as you ran down the hall to your room and we just stared at each other with our mouths open because – how did you even know to say that?  How did you know what that means?  How did you use those words correctly?  How did you get so old, so soon?

Two is going to be interesting.  Right now you are the best and the worst of us.  Half the time my heart is so full of you it wants to scream out to the world that I have the kindest, sweetest, most brilliant boy on the planet.  The other half of the time you are pushing my buttons over and over and over again and then staring at me perplexed when my voice inevitably rises and I snap something at you that I immediately regret.  I assure you, my sweet boy, that “what I’m doing” doesn’t change that much in 30 second intervals so you can probably switch up to asking me every 5 minutes or so instead.  This may go a long way towards keeping my voice level.

Your personality is in full bloom.  You love (love LOVE) trucks, and tractors, and buses.  When we’re in the car, you point them out wherever you go.  You even point out “daddy’s truck” parked at an apartment on our way to daycare.  Luckily for everyone, it’s not really daddy’s truck, but is the same make and model – so you’re definitely paying attention.  Your imagination has taken off as well.  We have to give you nebulizer treatments from time to time and you HATE them.  So now, if you sit through one like a big boy, we give you an M&M as a reward.  The other day you were running around the house with your neb mask on and then a few minutes later you took it off and asked for an M&M.  We told you that you don’t get M&M’s for pretending to take your medicine, so you ran to the kitchen and got yourself a pretend M&M and pretend ate it. 

You keep us laughing.  You have a crazy sense of humor and an infectious laugh.  You love to dance and play with Daisy and – for the past month you have become increasingly more enamoured of your little sister.  At first you weren't so sure.  You thought she belonged to your aunt Sara and you couldn’t figure out why Sara wasn’t taking care of her baby.  You eventually realized that she’s here to stay and now you refer to her as “my baby” and she’s the first thing you run to when you come home at the end of the day.  You’re a little jealous of her, and if one of us is holing her, you usually want to get in on that action some how.  That’s usually when you want to “nuggle” or want us to play with you or something.  But you’re a pretty good sport and we try to let you get close and be part of our baby activities because it’s not meant to leave you out.  You are a part of everything we do.  And whatever we can do to make you not hate or resent your little sister, we’ll try to do that.  So far, so good – mostly.

I'm excited to see what two brings.  So far you are EVERYTHING that we expected two to be.  75% angel and 25% devil.  You're mischevious and sly but eager to please and playful.  You're a terrible mooch.  Your dad made the comment the other day that unattended food is safer with the dog than it is with you.  I sat down with a bowl of cereal the other day and your little eyes perked up and you shouted "I GET A FORK!" -- you then ran right into the kitchen, grabbed a fork, ran back and plunked it right into my cereal.  You learned a valuable lesson about eating cereal with a fork that day (it doesn't work) and I learned that as long as you are in the room, nothing is sacred.  (P.S.  You pronounce "fork" as "foyke" and it is the cutest thing ever).

I am trying to write monthly blogs for your sister - so maybe I will do better at keeping up with you in year two.  I'm sure there are things we will not want to forget.  You're turning into this amazing little person faster than we even recognize sometimes.  

We love you to pieces.

Love and kisses all over,


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Dear Henry - Month 16

Dear Henry,

It’s been quiet around here.  I took a little break after your 1 year blog.  It wasn’t intentional – things just got busy with the holidays.  And then it was winter.  And now it has been winter for approximately twenty five years and I’m starting to think that it’s never going to end, but that’s not really what I want to talk about.  My point is that it’s been a rough winter for us – between the cold, and the weather, and the fact that you and I seem to swap colds and other ailments back and forth and man, kid, we just needed a break.

So, now you are 15 16 months old.  I feel like this is the perfect age for my parenting skills.  Like, you and I have finally figured this thing out and we’re working it.  Now that I am putting that out into the universe it is pretty much a guarantee that you’re going to throw me a curveball, but for the most part – for the first time – I feel well equipped to be someone’s mom.  Ask me again in a week.  Or the entire year that you’re three (from what I understand).

You started walking at the end of February (14 months old).  One day I was sitting on the couch and I watched you pull yourself up and then take five steps away from it.  You fell down and were just going to crawl away when you heard me cheering for you.  You turned back towards my cheering, a bright smile lit your whole face up, and then you crawled back over to the couch and did the whole thing again.  After that, it was like you were born walking.  It is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life.  You’re pretty proud of yourself for figuring that out and we watch you push your own limits over and over again.  You’re learning how to step over things, and move around things, how to bend over and pick something up, and you’re trying very hard to go from sitting to standing without using an aid to pull yourself up.  You have the general idea, I think you just lack balance.  The lack of balance also contributed to your first shiner when you tried to launch yourself at your dad, but fell face first into the side of the couch instead. 

Launching yourself at the couch is only one way that you show us you have no fear.  You’re always launching yourself off of things or into things and trusting that we’re going to catch you.  It’s the most terrifyingly heartbreakingly beautiful thing to know how pure your trust in us is, and to know that it won’t stay that way forever.  I mean, we didn’t catch you when you fell into the couch.  We won’t be able to catch you ever y time.  It’s not even really our job, but right now it’s pretty amazing to know you believe in us that much.

You have the most incredible bubbly personality.  You rarely cry and you smile a lot.  The other day we were taking you into town to get your hair cut and it was all quiet in the backseat until all the sudden you burst out into happy laughing shrieks.  That was new – usually you complain loudly to us the entire time you are forced to endure a car ride.  This time, you kept up that pattern of silence punctuated by hysterical shrieks of laughter while we tried to figure out what game you were playing with yourself.  We’d do just about anything for that laughter – it is pure sunshine. 

You pretend to talk on the phone all the time, and in your imagination, just about everything you get your hands on can become a phone.  I’m not sure if this phone thing is an instinct or what, because probably nobody in the world talks on the phone less than I do, and yet it seems to come very naturally to you.  You must get that from your daddy.

Speaking of your daddy – he is pretty much your favorite person on the planet.  I mean, you like me okay, but you literally light up when Daddy walks in.  You like to watch out the window when we see his car pull in.  When you hear the garage door open, you perk up and start motoring towards it to greet him.  The other day I was throwing recycling into the bin in the garage.  You heard me open that door and I heard you shriek “DADA!” and start moving towards the door.  When he’s home, you follow him everywhere.  One of your favorite things to do is to wake him up on the weekends.  We walk into the bedroom quietly and then you start giggling as soon as you see him.  Once I lift you onto the bed you are all wiggles, bounces, and giggles until he wakes up and plays with you.  I don’t know who is more smitten, between the two of you.  There’s definitely a very special bond there.

Another month has gone by and to the surprise of absolutely nobody, I never got the 15 month blog published.  Too lazy to start from scratch, I’m leaving the 15 month that I had started as stands – and am picking up from there.  The last month – it has been a doozy.

You are the most fun and the most challenging that you have ever been.  You learn something new about yourself and about the world every day.  You test your limits constantly, which has us living in a constant state of near heart attack as you try to crawl up on rocking chairs, and use your infant bouncy seat as some sort of carnival ride.  You’ve had a few lumps on the head, but you don’t let them phase you much.  You cry and get snuggles for about 30 seconds and then you’re right back at it. 

You have developed some very strong opinions about things.  When things don’t work out the way you plan, you somehow, somewhere, learned how to throw an unholy tantrum.  Like, textbook style with the flailing and the stomping and screaming.  You’re not even really close to two yet, so this is a surprise.  Luckily for everyone, we do not respond well to theatrics, so the tantrums – so far – have been fairly short lived. 

The flip side to the tantrums is that you’re learning how to be an entertainer.  You figure out what makes us happy and you go nuts with it.  Sometimes that means putting your sunglasses on and running around the house.  Sometimes it means doing the same thing, only with your great grandpa’s hat on your head, slung so low that you can’t possibly see where you’re going.  A lot of times it means imitating a gesture we make – which is a favorite game of your dad’s.  He has you doing all kinds of crazy head tics and facial expressions.  I think this just means we have to be careful because pretty soon you’ll be mimicking our words. 

You LOVE to dance.  The barest snippet of music can set your little body wiggling.  You love to carry around your dad’s little Bluetooth speaker like a tiny boombox and jam to the songs he plays.  We think you already have your favorites.  You somehow figured out how to get the music to play on my phone too – so you occasionally can be found walking around dancing to that as well.  Clever, and adorable.  We are goners for sure.

You also love your cousins.  You had a couple sleepovers at Grandma Julie’s house with them in the last couple of months and you try so hard to keep up with the older kids.  You’re so interested in everything they do, you love to follow them around, even if you are always about 20 steps behind them.  You’ll catch up someday.  You’re actually interested in kids in general.  We had a doctor’s appointment last week and while in the waiting room you were enchanted by all the kids that came walking through.  You would walk towards them in a daze before finally realizing you’d walked away from me, then you’d turn back to me with a huge grin and run back into my arms.  I’m pretty sure those moments are the sweetest moments in all of parenting.  I love watching you explore your world, enchanted by all the new things you see and people you meet – but best of all, I love being your safe place to run to when you realize you’ve wandered further than you’re comfortable with.

Speaking of that doctor's visit -- you are currently in the 75th percentile for weight and the 10th percentile for height.  My short, stocky little guy.  You're a little bruiser!  You're on schedule or ahead of schedule on everything except talking.  The talking is getting there  though.  You say mama, daddy, Daisy, hi and buh-bye.  You say thank you - usually when you're giving something to me and not the other way around, but you're saying it!  You say "uh-oh" and something that sounds a little bit like the word "damn."  I'm almost positive that's not what you're saying, but we haven't figured out exactly what that word is supposed to be yet.

This past month you’ve started experiencing some separation anxiety.  You’ve always been pretty easygoing and didn’t care much about your surroundings, but we had to put you in back-up daycare last week and I noticed you were way more clingy when I had to leave in the morning.  By the middle of your stay there, you’d gotten better, but it was new territory for us.  You’ve developed a strong attachment to your Horton stuffed elephant.  At first I sent him with you to back-up daycare because I thought he might help you nap (you have always used him like a pillow in your crib) but now you want him with you all the time. 

It isn’t always easy – you’re cutting your eye teeth right now and you’re temperamental as all getout.  One minute you are giggling and shrieking with joy followed seconds later by a complete meltdown that we can neither predict nor stop.  But you have a laugh that lights up our worlds, you’re not old enough to not want to snuggle anymore (even if those snuggles come in 30 second increments these days), and the little person you are growing into is the most amazing person I have ever known.  You are beautiful and smart and kind.  I picked you up from back-up daycare one day last week, and the teacher told me that you had spent part of your day comforting older kids who were crying by patting them on the back.  I don’t even know how you know how to do that, but I know that there is practically nothing they could have told me that would have made me prouder.  My mama brain started envisioning nobel peace prizes and future sainthood.  But the reality of it is, if all you ever do is pat the kids who are having more trouble than you are on the back, and try to make them feel better about their situation, it will be enough for us and enough for the world. 

Happy 16 months my sweet boy. 

Love and kisses all over,


Friday, December 6, 2013

Dear Henry - Month 12


Dear Henry,

It has been a whole year. 

I had been in the hospital 2.5 days by the time you were born.  We had made friends with all the nurses in Labor & Delivery, and we were getting to know the doctors up there pretty well, too.  At least once a day we’d hear “You’re still here?  We were hoping you’d be gone by now!”  - in the nicest way possible, of course.  You took your sweet time, and that’s okay because neither one of us was really ready for you to come out the day I was admitted to the hospital.  By the time you decided to make an appearance, that had completely changed.

You - one year ago.
I will never forget that moment they plopped you on my chest.  I knew that’s what would happen, that’s what we’d agreed to, but I don’t think I actually knew you were HERE here yet, and it took me by surprise.  One moment I was heaving, and pushing, and panting, and trying to get that god awful smelly oxygen mask off my face, and the next minute there you were – squirmy and warm against my chest.  And you were a boy.  I was so sure you were a girl.  So much for mother’s intuition.  Please know that I was not even remotely disappointed.  Just surprised.  In the movies the doctors always make a big deal out of letting the mom know whether it’s a boy or a girl.  They hand the baby over all cleaned up and wrapped in cozy blankets and say in a hearty boom “IT’S A BOY!”.  That’s not how it happened for us.  They just plopped you on my chest and got busy fixing me up and it took me a couple seconds to even think to look – it didn’t really matter.  You were the most precious thing I had ever known either way. 

It is impossible to believe that was only a year ago.

You're still enjoying the discovery of that tongue!
Today you are a little person.  You have a big personality and strong opinions about things.  You hate the carseat and you hate getting your diaper changed (at least until the diaper comes off and then you like to be aired out a bit).  You only eat certain foods, on certain days, at certain temperatures.  You have learned that an easy way to get rid of your food is to throw it on the floor or – sometimes – to simply hold it out in your hand and wait for an animal to come and relieve you of your burden.

Daddy's hat is your new favorite game,
You are learning so much and so quickly.  I watch you study things and know that your little brain is soaking everything in.  You’re a perfect little parakeet, mimicking all sorts of sounds.  You’ve figured out how to hack into my (password protected) cell phone.  The other day I was driving to work and my phone started buzzing.  I pulled it out to see who was calling me that early in the morning, but the screen was still dark.  I hit the button and found that the timer was going off.  You not only hacked into my phone, but you somehow found the timer and set it for 20 minutes.  I don’t want to call you a genius or anything,  but I think your cell phone skills have now exceeded those of several members of your family (*cough*, not naming names). 

Daddy's boy.
You are like your daddy in that you just love gadgets period and the only “toys” you’re interested in playing with right now are the big expensive kind that don’t belong to you.  You love the remote control and we often find things you have recorded on the DVR.  We have found that you have a wide variety and some questionable choices in television viewing.  You’ve also mastered the art of removing the cover from the remote control, and then hiding it in brilliant and impossible places.  I think you may have a gift for spatial relations.

You've already become an expert at ignoring the animals blatantly begging for food.
If there’s anything that can be used as a weapon in your vicinity, you will find it.  You are constantly testing our security measures – whether it’s the gate for the stairs, or the locks on the cabinets.  Sometimes you like to reach out for things you know you’re not supposed to touch, while giving me a sly look that says “what about this?  Is this okay?  Are you going to say no-no?  What does no-no mean, anyway?  I mean, what exactly are you going to do about this?  Bring it on, mama” (apparently you’ve fine tuned one look into an entire one-sided conversation – maybe you are a genius, after all).  Your dad says your main job right now is to find our weaknesses and exploit them. 

Puppy love <3
We think you’re saying a couple words.  I mean, you’ve been saying “mama” and “dada” for a long time, but we’re never quite sure that you have any real idea of what you’re saying or if you just say it over and over again because it’s fun and we get excited about it.  Is it surprising to anyone that one of your very first words is “daisy”.  It sounds like “dee-tsee”, but you say it when you see her and sometimes scream it before pouncing on her.  She’s still your favorite.  She helps us wake you up in the morning and you twist and wiggle and go out of your way to keep her in your sight at all times.  The other word that we’re pretty sure you’re saying is “kitty”.  This sounds like “kee-tee” – and again, is often used when you spot the cats, chase the cats, and occasionally head butt the cats.  We think the head butt thing might actually be a snuggle, but the two look awfully similar right now.

Trying to steal Great Grandma's cane at Thanksgiving.
We celebrated your first thanksgiving this past month.  You did SO good.  Your grandma and grandpa Suhr just had a booster seat for you with no straps, but your dad thought you’d be okay so we plopped you in there and you sat between us like a big boy and mooched all our food.  You ate almost everything and kept leaning in for more!  I think you’re going to be a big fan of Thanksgiving!  In general, your eating habits have rebounded from the regression we had when you were teething.  Now you are pretty tired of your pureed baby food and want to eat all kinds of textures, and especially anything you can pick up yourself.  You are really ready to feed yourself, only you haven’t exactly mastered the mechanics of it yet and so basically your meal times have become very long and extremely messy.  Still, you know that you’re supposed to hold the spoon and bring it to your mouth.  So it’s not a long leap from that point to the point where you manage to keep most of (or any) food on the spoon by the time it gets to your mouth!  We’ll get there.

Must work on aiming while eating.
It is completely unreal how much you have changed in the year since you were born.  I mean, I wrote about it every month right here on this blog, and I still can't wrap my brain around it.  Everyone says it goes fast, but you can't possibly understand what that even means until you're celebrating the first birthday without any idea how it came this quickly.  I know that there's so much goodness yet to come, but so far every month has been perfect in its own way (even the ones where I whine about how you sleep like a jerk).  You are the answer to a prayer -- how could it be any other way?

My heart.  Yes, it's just exactly this cheesy.
Happy birthday my sweet, goofy, playful, mischevious little stinker butt.  I am thankful every day that you were born, and I'll stay thankful every day for the rest of my life that I get to be your mom.  You are our biggest adventure, our brightest light, and - hands down - the best thing we've ever done.  Ever.  I can't wait to see what you have in store for us in the next year.  

Love and kisses all over,


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Grateful Heart

One year ago I enjoyed a fantastic Thanksgiving feast with family.  There was a little guy (though we didn't know he was a boy then, and my gut feeling was that he was a girl - so, so much for gut feelings) swimming and kicking around in my belly and I knew that our lives were going to change, but I idea.  This year has been full of "one year agos..."

The sun is barely up on this Thanksgiving morning.  I sit in this dimly lit room surrounded by what can only be described as complete and utter chaos.  I can't keep up with the mess, the toys (baby and dog), the animal hair, and the clutter that seems to follow me wherever I go.  A kleenex is shredded at my feet and I would like to blame the dogs, but the tiny little man of the house also has a fascination with shredding kleenex, so it could go either way.  A dog is barking and a baby is shrieking and while I type this I he crawls up and grabs at my shirt, scratching my chest, and fussing until I pick him up.  Once he gets what he wants he is all goobery toothy grin and boisterous babble and time stops because this -- this is everything.  It's not possible to be more thankful than this, is there a thing beyond thankful?  Because if there is, that's what I am.

This beautiful, messy, chaotic, wholly imperfect life is more than I ever could have dreamed of.  I am so thankful for this past year and all it's taught me, the way it's made me grow and realize how complicated and infinitesimal love can be.  I am thankful for Todd, my husband and best friend - without whom I never would have survived this year.  He is my teammate in life and - I have to tell you, we almost always win so I guess he's probably the best teammate I could ever have hoped for.  I am thankful for my families -- this little one that I created, the larger ones that made us, and the ones made up of friends who have become family over time.  I'm thankful for this home, these animals, our jobs.  I'm thankful for this country, for my freedom, for every brave soul who has served and/or fought to allow me to take for granted the richness of opportunity I am afforded.  This world, and this life, can be brutal and terrifying - so I am thankful to be able to also see all the ways in which it is beautiful, all the ways we take care of each other, and all the ways love wins.

Big, bursting, thankful heart.

Wishing the happiest of Thanksgivings!  Now, I have to go find the TV remote that the baby hid from us....

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dear Henry - 11 Months

Happy <chokes> 11 month birthday!

I'm sorry I choked on that.  I just can't believe how fast this is going.  You're almost 1!  Ay yi yi - I will freak out a little bit more about this later, but first:

This face pretty much sums up how you feel about sleeping.
I’m going to be honest, there were parts of the last month that were excruciating for all of us.  For you because, I think, you were cutting some teeth and possibly growing and maybe also a little sick?  I say those things with a question mark because the symptoms of those things are all exactly the same.  The only proof I have that at least some of those symptoms were NOT due to you being sick, is that you popped out two more adorable teeth (on the top this time!).  The result of all this is that your sleep habits changed on us again – in a way that we have not experienced since you were three months old.  I mean, you started waking for middle of the night feedings again, and then you wouldn’t want to settle back down.  You were screaming and crying and banging on your crib.  One night your dad gave up and brought you out to the living room, plunked you down and said “fine, you want to be up?  We’re up. Now PLAY.”  And you sat there looking so small and confused and tired because you didn’t really want to be up.  It’s just that none of us could figure out how to make you NOT be up anymore. 

Tough guys don't need sleep!
 When you were a newborn, this sleep deprivation stuff was easier because A) we just naturally assumed we would not be getting any sleep ever and B) I wasn’t working so my only job in the entire world was to cater to your every need and C) your needs consisted of three things – clean diaper, full belly, sleep.  Things are more complicated now, and we don’t always weather these sleep interruptions gracefully.  I found myself trying to get back to sleep at 3 a.m. after a particularly frustrating sleep disruption a few nights ago.  My mind dramatically played out this image of how we are a happy, picture perfect family by day, and a snarling nest of poisonous snakes by night.  I told you it was dramatic!  That is what your sleep deprivation causes – weird, dramatic metaphors about snakes.

You guys, holy smokes, have you see how the water gets in the tub?!  MIND.  BLOWN.
 Sleep issues aside, you’ve had a lot of other things going on.  You’ve discovered the joy of being an entertainer.  You like to make sure that all eyes on you and then you do something amazing like drop a ball in a hole, or bang a toy against another toy, and then look up and await our joyous reactions. 

Mom tried to get some yard work done.  This happened, instead.
 You are like, the master expert of peek-a-boo.  You figured it out pretty quickly and now you’ll do it double time just to hear us shriek “PEEEK!!” at you as often as possible.  This is part of how you entertain us.  You also have a hearty appreciation for “patty cake” – although we still mostly play it with your feet because you’re not crazy about us monopolizing use of your hands.  It’s much better if your hands are free to grab someone’s nostril or yank someone’s shirt down. 

This is the look of a boy who is uncomfortably close to standing up by himself.
 You are fearless, which is something I know you won’t hold on to forever, so it’s both incredibly sweet (as a reminder that you’re still my little baby) and also terrifying.   You crawl over things, under things, around things, and you have tried to launch yourself off of everything we have sat you on top of (beds, couches, counters, etc.) and one of your favorite things to do is to launch yourself off the bed while we grab one of your feet and hold you upside down.  You love to be upside down!  Sometimes you’ll crawl up into my lap and then throw yourself backwards, indicating that you would like for me to flip you.  As the flip ends with you drapped across my legs, you lay wiggling and giggling at the ecstasy of it all.

Enjoying the contraband Butterfinger bar you swiped from the candy bucket.
 You are such a stinker.  The biggest little stinker I’ve ever known.  You know when you’re doing something you’re not supposed to do, and you’ve learned how to speed up when crawling away from us (as when we pursued you after you sneakily stole a candy bar out of the Halloween candy bucket).  In the last month we’ve had a report of a hairball in your poo (that was a surprise!), and your daddy says you ate a hairball just this morning that resulted in a wardrobe change when it came back up.  One of your favorite things to do since you became mobile is to play in the dog’s water dishes, and I don’t police you very strongly when you do that because, come on – it’s just water.  And whatever dog germs you’re going to get there, are probably also all over our house (and certainly in the hairballs you apparently insist on eating) and so for months now it’s been no big deal.  Only now it is a big deal because you’ve learned how to splash.  So the other day I let you play quietly (yes, this should have been my first red flag) near the water dishes and when I finally wandered over to check on you – you were soaked from head to toe and there was a one inch pool of water over most of the surrounding floor.  You were a cross between bewildered (how did this wet get all over me?) and proud (look mom, I made splashes!).  And we laughed – because after all, it was only water.  We changed your clothes and cleaned the floor and I spent the rest of the evening bodyguarding the water dishes.

P.S.  Yes, we do need to clean our house.  We’ve begun using your hairball consumption as a house cleanliness gauge and we seem to repeatedly fail. 

Anyway – like your mom and dad - you love laughter.  You love watching it in videos and seeing it in person.  We’ve discovered that if we fake laugh in front of you, it will eventually get you laughing too and then, of course, we’re all laughing for real.  You like to mimic people, you study faces and you can see the little gears shifting around in your head while you try to figure out new noises or expressions. Sometimes you reach out and grab my face like you’re trying to figure it out.  Especially your teeth – you can’t quite figure outyou’re your mouth works now that you have teeth in there.  You are constantly running your lips over them, and your eating has regressed because you haven’t quite figured out that your teeth replaced your gums and you can use them for chewing (although, you have figured out how satisfying it is to use them to take a giant chomp out of a puff).  Your little brain is going 1000 miles a minute most days, which also probably accounts for a little bit of the sleep disruption. 

First haircut!
Your Aunt Margy came to visit you again this past month.  You flirted with her shamelessly and I believe she was utterly charmed.  The possibility exists that she now likes you more than she likes us.  It's okay though, we wouldn't have it any other way.  She also gave you your first haircut. It wasn't exactly a planned thing, so we didn't have all the necessary supplies, but she made the best of it with a kitchen scissors.  The results may not have been perfect, but you're welcome for not letting that baby mullet thing you were working on go too far.  

Cousins in costume.
 You had your first Halloween this last month.  I feel like we need to talk about Halloween, because I suspect at some point you are going to feel like you’re being cheated out of something.  And you kind of are.  Halloween is not my thing.  I have a very hard time getting excited about it and while I was excited to dress you up in a cute costume this year, I wasn’t excited enough to try that costume on you in advance.  If I had, I might have realized that it didn’t fit you just right, and the buttons were all falling off (also, the tail).  On the day we took you out to Grandpa Jerry and Grandma Julie’s for the early Halloween gathering, I had thought to draw a nose and whiskers on you to complete the unbearably adorable “tiger” costume.  You weren’t having it.  And frankly, I didn’t care enough to force the issue.  And that moment right there was when I realized that this is how Halloween will be for you.  Just enough to get by.  Your costumes will likely be second hand (and DEFINITELY not homemade), and the celebration will likely be pretty minimal.  This really is just not my thing, but I promise to make up for it at Christmas.

Scarlett helped you pose for your pictures.
 In any case, you were a tiger.  And we paraded you around at Grandpa and Grandma’s on both sides, and you charmed everyone with all your entertaining, showing off your tricks, and that impish little toothy smile.  You got some candy, that your parents stole, and some baby food that we’re going to let you have.  As Halloweens go, it was a solid first go round, I think.

We've been working on using a sippy cup.  You are such a big boy!
 These months get so much more dynamic as you get older.  You are so much more interactive and one of these days I will probably relay actual conversations that I have with you.  These days you are still only saying mama, dada, and Bob (by the way, your dad would like to know who this Bob guy is.  He would also like you to please stop calling him Bob), but based on the speed with which you’re developing in every other way, conversations will not be far off now.  I know we’re going to have some interesting ones, and I can’t wait to know for sure what’s going on in that little head of yours.

Daddy's boy.
 So, if my calculations are correct (and you’ll recall that math is not my best thing), the next letter you get will be on your first birthday.  You will be one.  ONE.  The countdown to you being one is…one.  You’ll have to forgive me if I’m a little dramatic about this, but we all know that being one is just a gateway to walking, running, jumping, going to school, driving a car and eventually moving out and – generally – not being my little squishy baby anymore.  Can I forbid this?  Is there a veto card in my pile of mom cards?  I’m freaking out!  And yet – despite all that stuff I just said - SO excited!  Because it is a pleasure and a privilege to watch you grow.  You’re becoming this little person with this unbelievably charming personality.  You have opinions on things and sometimes I watch you snuggle (really! On purpose!) the dog and my heart explodes and sends my whole body into meltdown because you are gentle, and sweet in unexpected and beautiful ways. 

My heart.
It’s not perfect – nothing about our lives, our sleepless nights or our hairball infested home is perfect, but man – it is exactly what I dreamed of (well, maybe not the hairballs).  It is exactly just right for us.  It is filled with laughter and noise and chaos and mess and family and good food and good friends.  These are all the things I’m most excited to share with you, the values I’m most eager to impart. It is so much harder than I thought it would be, watching my baby turn into a little boy, but it's also so much more awesome than I ever could have imagined.  I cannot wait for the adventures you have in store for us.

Love and kisses all over,