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Archive for the ‘monthly letter’ Category

two.

my dearest jude,

eleven days ago, you turned two years old, and you decided to embrace this new year with all the enthusiasm you could muster. every remnant of the baby you is falling off like so much shed skin. you’ve left your high chair behind, and now sit like a grownup and feed yourself. you actively reject the presence of diapers (though you still mostly refuse to use the potty). and when i scoop you up into my arms for a snuggle, i ask if you’re my baby. no way, you say, and sometimes the question makes you so mad that you smack me. and then, once again, we have the conversation about hitting being unacceptable.

last night, you helped your mama put together your big girl bed. though you’re excited about the lively new dora sheets and all the room for jumping, your loyalties still lie with your crib, and that’s fine. take your time, love. you can lead the way with this transition. but just so you know, your legs are practically poking out the ends of that crib now. it is officially Too Small for you. and sooner than later, this mysterious “brother” we keep talking about will be taking it over. so, yes. take your time, but think about the many features and benefits of the big girl bed. ok?

oh your long legs. the rest of you is long, too. you currently measure 37 1/2″ tall, and you weigh 39 pounds. you wear 5T to 6X clothing (which means we get to ditch the baby section and start shopping in the proper kids’ section!) and you comfortably fit into a size 9 shoe.

did i mention that you grew an inch in a month? your rapid growth has made you equal parts graceful and klutzy. you dance and jump and spin like an athlete or a dancer, and then you smack your arm against a wall, trip over your foot, bonk your head on a table.

you are tough. injuries rarely make you cry, unless you’re afraid. you may growl in frustration and pain, but do not want to be comforted.

us: “ow baby! are you okay?”
you, picking yourself by some hidden boostraps: “YESH.”
us: “do you need a hug? a kiss?”
you: “no way.”

your imagination is blossoming like your language skills, and it is like some sacred epiphany to gain access to your mind through conversation now. for instance, dora has inspired you to become a starcatcher. dust motes in the sun are stars, and you catch! catch! catch! them.

the other night, you, your mama, and i were driving home from your first live music experience. it was way past your bedtime, and we were trying to keep you awake. the moon was full and bright and orange, often hidden behind buildings or hills. so you began a game of peek-a-boo with the moon. and every time it appeared once again, you’d pretend to eat it. nom nom nom. mama asked you, what does the moon taste like? cheese? to which you replied, no, the moon tastes like honey. mmmm. for the rest of the ride home, you called it a honeymoon.

a month ago, you were getting the hang of two word sentences, along with occasional three, usually for guilt trips: eg, “no go, poppop.” (i think you earned a herd of ponies for how thick you laid it on that day.) now, suddenly, you speak in full, many-word sentences. every day brings more and more words. you used to be shy about words, and were reluctant to hold them in your mouth. now, you are brave, and will try most multisyllabic words, with pretty astonishing success in pronunciation. the air around you is charged with new knowledge. every day is magic.

also, you count. you know your letters. you group like objects. you compare big and little.

my jude, you’re such an amazing girl. as you were from the beginning, so you continue to be a fiery force. you are stubborn, strong-willed and opinionated. i anticipate many years of learning how to effectively communicate compromise with you. however, i am constantly encouraged by your ability to temper your fire with grace. for every raging tantrum, you show kindness and affection for your people. you teach me. every day, you teach me how to be more like you.

i love you, my star-catcher, more than i knew i could love.
here’s to year three, in which you become a big sister.

mommy

tiny baby.
tiny baby
at one.
one year
two.
my beauty, my love.

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20/1 months.

my darling jude,

when you’re reading through these archives years from now, and wonder where your 20 month letter is, let me reassure you: it’s not lost. it is here. with your 21 month letter. i’m sorry i didn’t write last month. here are my excuses: continued nausea/exhaustion from incubating your sibling, the fact that you and i fell down the stairs and i saved your life, but broke my tailbone, and well, the leftover energy from the previous reasons was used to chase after your fast, toddler self.

i really don’t know how to begin to describe life with you right now. i’m gonna go with this: it’s equal parts ordered and chaotic. your days have become comfortably routine.  here come the bullet points!

  • you wake up, watch sesame street or curious george (lovingly referred to as ‘that damn monkey’ or ‘tdm’ by your mothers),
  • you feed yourself your morning yogurt, steal sips of my coffee and bites of my bagel with cream cheese
  • you head off to bobby’s house with mama and play with his toys for a couple hours
  • you have lunch
  • you sleep for about 3 hours
  • you demand to go outside, where you playplayplayplayplay until you’re lugged back inside against your will
  • you eat dinner
  • you play/watch dora or yo gabba gabba, etc
  • you have a bath
  • you run to the door to greet me as i arrive home from work
  • we read books together, you nurse for about 1 minute and then you ask to go to bed
  • you sleep for the next 11ish hours, usually without waking

in the middle of this schedule, this order, the chaos ensues. your independent streak grows stronger and more defiant every day. you gnash your teeth at the outfit choices presented to you. you wail angrily when you’re thwarted from dangerous activities. you hit when you’re frustrated. you run away when we say “come here”. all of these behaviors? awesome, in its true definition: adjective – extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear.

the good news is that you are still pretty easy to distract or redirect. your mama bought an egg timer to help you with transitions, like bedtime. you’re great with five minute warnings. i love that timer. you seem to want to move out of the chaotic moments, back into the snuggly, fun ones.

you hug with great passion and strength. you went through a phase where you called me daddy, and though it was SO funny, my heart melted the first time you purposely called me Mah-meeeee! now, you often throw your sticky arms around my neck so we’re cheek to cheek, and you say, loudly in my ear, “ohhhh mah-mee! ohhhhh mah-mee! ohhhh!” and you squeeze me tightly. you’ll never know how much i love when you do that.

you’ve become a whiz at names. you love to correctly identify your people and pets: maMAA, mah-meee, choo (jude), sal!, dahchee (charley, also morphs into “doggy”), deggy (uncle g), bah-bee, dabby (gabby), etc. you’ve also developed a love affair with trains (choo choo!) and, oddly enough, the word “hot dog”, which you say over and over all day long. we’ve taught you to use it as an exclamation. you also love to count, and though you can’t get past 3 yet, you like for us to keep going as you point to countable objects. you’re equally enthralled with letters, and can correctly identify O, E and J.

at the time of this writing, you have purposely peed in your potty exactly once, by the way. you have peed and pooped on the floor more than once. that’s all i’ll say about that.

you have a crush on dora’s holier-than-thou cousin diego. you hate to have your hair brushed. you have 12 1/2 teeth. you still love cheese. every day, there is nowhere i’d rather be than playing with you.

i love you,
mah-meeeee

.
.
pretty sure she's emphatically yelling "KITTY!"
pensive
diva, with dog! and kitty! on a wagon ride around the kitchen.
chef judith
fambly silly.

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19 months.

dear jude,

you will have to excuse mommy’s lack of words this month. you and i have begun this conversation already, but we all need to be reminded of what unseen things are happening in my uterus. as i write this letter, i am in my seventh week of pregnancy with your sibling. we call your sibling ziggy. and ziggy is making your mommy very, very nauseous. take now, for instance. i am pausing between sentences, negotiating with my esophagus, begging for no puking action. so far, so good. let us proceed.

i don’t want this letter to YOU to be about your unborn sibling. sweet lord, i want to do everything i can to quell your inevitable rivalry. but i want you to know that i understand the fact that you might not be over the moon about this baby. your uncle g is reading a book called siblings without rivalry, and he summed up a great passage for us recently. it went like this: imagine you are happily married. your spouse says, “hey, this marriage is going so well, there is so much love here, let’s add another wife to the family! this new wife will share everything we already have together, and oh yeah, she also will need to wear your old clothes. sorry i didn’t really tell you about this, but she’s on her way now!” how would you feel?

yes, i know you’ll be so excited to be a big sister, to help take care of a baby, etc. but, your whole reality is going to shift rather quickly, and at 19 months old, there is no way for us to really prepare you for that. so. let this letter be a testament to the fact that i know this is going to be a hard transition for you. and i am going to do and be everything i can to help you remain secure in your identity as My Beloved Child.

moving on.

this month, you’ve continued to deepen your relationships with the dogs. we couldn’t be more pleased that you and charleydog are so tight that she rolls over at your feet and hopes for tummy rubs.

.

christmas. holy moly did you ever love christmas. as i may have mentioned last month, your big present was this:
.

and when you discovered it, you looked like this:
.

and you still grin like that every time you slide. which is all day, every day.

here are some visual christmas highlights:

christmas eve dancing:
.
.

licking your lips in anticipation:
.

jumping on bubblewrap at gabby and pop pop’s:
.
.

mischief:
.

dwarfed by gabby and pop pop’s christmas tree:
.

a christmas worth remembering. we spent the night at gabby and pop pop’s, which you loved. you ran around the house without ceasing until you collapsed. and then we grownups played dominoes until the wee hours. i did not win.

this month, you have been a delight. you are busy busy, all day long. and when we are out and about, that means your moms never stop moving, either. but, at home, you are confident about your run of the house, and are able to play by yourself for minutes at a time. your mama and i often sit together on the couch and watch you share water or milk or cheese with dolls, cars, dora, the tv. (your word of the month is ‘share’, which sounds like ‘sheeee-oo’.) your actual sharing technique with other toddlers is still a tad precarious, but we’re working on it. when you melt down, you recover quickly. thank you for that.

alright, my darling. i’m feeling a bit piqued and am going to close. but know that i cherish every moment with you as i grow your brother or sister. you may be my firstborn, but you will always be my baby.

i love you so.
mommy

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18 months.

dear jude,

you are 18 months old now. you really are. and the only echoes of babydom left are your half asleep whiny cries from your crib, when you wake up disoriented or dirty or sad. sometimes, i nearly experience a sensory memory of your smaller self when i nurse you to sleep. but like a sneeze that won’t quite come, you obliterate the baby thoughts by pointing to my nose, and then to yours. or you stop nursing, furrow your eyebrows, and say with perfect diction and no apparent reason, “oh no”.

you talk a lot now, words and words all day long, but when your pediatrician (who needs a nickname; i shall call her dr whirlwind, as she is one) asks how many words you have, i go positively blank. seriously. yesterday, at your 18 month appt, dr whirlwind asked us, in order to chart your development, how many words you speak. your mama and i looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and said, “um, i dunno. five?” the dr hesitated a moment, and replied in an exasperated tone, “we’re lookin’ for 5-10 here. think she’s got that many?” and i’m all, “yes, definitely. i’d even say 15.” (i hope you will interpret this last sentence as my confidence in your abilities, more than my need for you to be above average in all things…not just height.)

for posterity, let me try to catalogue your current vocabulary:

no
yeah! or.. yayayayay!
dog!
moe! [can mean our dog, moe. or mole. or more. or mama. or mommy. you play with the word intentionally that way.]
keeeeeeey! (kitty)
oh no!
oh me. (oh man, a la swiper)
doh (dora)
cheeese!
awwwww duh! (all done)
a-ta (thank you, or the generic response to our request for you to say the word x)
ha (hot)
cha (charley the dog)
down
woh (water)
cay (crayon)
sta! (star)
draw!
guh! (uncle g)

these are the words you still sign instead of speak:

more
cheese
milk
please
bird
help
orange

and these are the words you sign and speak interchangeably:

kitty
cheese
water
hot

see? way more than 10 words.

words are your drugs right now, jude. you can’t get enough. you point endlessly and in every direction, asking “da?!” (another word!) and the wordsmith in me couldn’t be more pleased. you’re not only cataloguing a vocabulary; you’re playing with words. when we read books to you, you point back and forth to the bowl full of mush and the quiet old lady whispering hush. and you smile. you are beginning to understand rhyme.

you are also very interested in mammalian anatomy. you inspect every inch of our faces, our appendages, our hair, our moles. (and you point to moe: moe! and then a mole on my belly: moe!) you inspect your own body. you inspect the poor dogs’ bodies. you especially love tails and teeth.

you hide now. when you are shy, you cover your face with your hands, and disappear, obviously. you pull this superhuman trick when you do something you’re not supposed to. eg today: you opened the pantry door (a no-no of epic proportions, and something you are usually unable to do) and then stood in front of it, hiding beneath your hands. your mama and i giggled, as we imagined your alibi. “seriously moms, i wasn’t even there at the time.”

you love to hide under your towel after a bath, too. you stand in the middle of the hall, a toddler-sized lump under terry cloth, stock still. i call out, “where are you, jude? are you in your room? in the laundry room?” etc. and after every question, you answer quietly from underneath the towel, “no”. you simply can’t resist not answering a question to which you know the answer.

wow, this letter is getting wordy. i could go on and on, because you are 34 pounds (and 35 inches) of fun, my girl.

tomorrow is christmas eve. you have NO idea what you’re in for. here’s a hint: a big toddler playground thing with a slide. i’m not even kidding. sssh. don’t tell.

i love you so.

mommy

recuperating from strep in big yellow gloves:
downside of big yellow gloves.

future proctologist

tiny dancer:
tiny dancer.

asleep in the high chair (we should have known strep was coming)
can't stay awake.

little miss independent
self-feeder.

in the middle of saying “cheeeese!”
cheese face.

beloved.
delight.

first time in a wagon, at nana’s:
first time in a wagon

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dear jude,

i never wrote a letter last month, and that dereliction of duty can be attributed to the following factors (in no particular order):

1. over the course of three weeks, we all got sick.
2. i worked a lot of overtime to compensate for #1.
3. we drove seventeen hours to nashville, where we spent nearly a week.

i do hope you forgive me, darling girl. now that i am sitting here, trying to recall two months of development, i am drawing a blank. because so much has happened. your personality has burst forth with all kinds of effervescence. you engage your toys in elaborate play now. often, you will only interact with me if i am voicing elmo, or your beanie horse called pony, or the my little pony knockoff who sports a buzzcut, on account of your former habit of eating hair (also called pony). you offer your toys water, snacks, or my breast. you encourage them to throw balls. you play with them. it’s wildly entertaining for me to be part of.

you LOVE playgrounds. with every visit you grow braver about climbing and sliding. you are as tall as a three year old. and you are making a mighty effort to match their abilities. however, you also eat pebbles. well, you chew on them, actually. call us horrible mothers, but we let you do it, too. because it is a miserable fight to fish them out of your mouth. we haven’t seen any evidence of you swallowing them. and you always spit them out when you’re done. also, you’ve been working on two molars for months now, and chomping on little stones seems to bring you relief. so, chomp on.

speaking of those damned molars, you have been on a regimen of ibuprofen/tylenol/teething tablets for a long time now. you despise the bubblegum flavored ibuprofen (but are ok with the clear cherry stuff), and adore the grapeish tylenol. when it is time for medicine, you scream TY!!! YEAH! WOW! then, i tap 3 teething tablets into my palm, and you pluck them with your delightful pincer grasp, 1-2-3, and savor them in a happy mouth. kid? you are adorable.

your love affair with books has deepened. mama h has noticed that when i am home, you bring me all the books about mommies to read to you. you sit cozily in my lap, and masterfully turn the pages. you have definitely entered the age of wanting books to be read to you again and again and again. it never gets old for me, either. those moments when you are awake, and sitting still? bliss.

jude, i have to confess that trying to remember all the ways you’ve grown over the past two months is really daunting. you are so wondrously present tense that it is hard to be anywhere but NOW with you. i can tell you with a vivid recall that every morning, you sit between your mothers and point to us, back and forth. we say mama mommy mama mommy mama mommy until you dissolve into a happy giggle, usually after you point to my nipple and i say, “nipple”, which is your favorite word. but, ask me to remember when you began to tantrum in earnest? when your adoration for cats shifted to DOGS? all i know is that it has all happened.

so, my darling, i will let photos tell the stories i can’t.

in closing, i want to say this (in the spirit of wonder-filled, squishy mothers everywhere): jude, every day, i watch closely as you wake up to the world around you, and i am so proud of your bravery, your burgeoning wisdom, and your tenderness. you are in love with your life, so content and mindful of every morsel (and pebble), and i am overwhelmed sometimes that i get to be your mother. i was lucky enough to be the one you chose to house you for nine months, and now i get to raise you? to instill the security of home? to protect you? i get to do all these things? i am overwhelmed, but overjoyed. and ever thankful.

i love you so.
mommy

and now for those photos!

here you are with your primo, carlos, on my 31st birthday! (26 october)

and here you are with your new friends, harper & mateo, when you met for the first time on 10 october. in this particular photo, the three of you are being wrangled on a steep driveway.

who can forget the day you spent with your cousins aaron and connar? here, big kid aaron really wants to hold you. you are so over being held by him, since he has been trying to carry you all day. 26 september

grandpa joe stopped by and hung out with you in the playroom. you allowed him to read to you for approximately 37 seconds. i am lucky to have caught this brief, lovely moment. 27 september

you still love balls.

this look? oh you beautiful girl. nothing but confidence. 18 october

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dear jude,

you’re currently inching up on 16 months old (and 35″ tall). here i am playing catch up once again, and find that already, i’m forgetting a lot of the details of last month. life with you is so present tense–you are constantly becoming more you–that it is hard to chronicle by memory alone. i am grateful for the days when i remember to take snapshots of you, because my memory is jogged a little.

with that in mind, here are some moments of you at 15 months old.

your primo, carlos, came to visit over labor day. at 5 months old, he was wary of your loudness, and initially cried every time you screamed with joy. being an easily-adaptable baby, however, he came around, and spent all of his waking hours smiling at you, or futilely attempting to dodge your rough affections.
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despite the constant correction from your mothers, you spent that whole weekend showing a lot of love to your people, especially me, as i was sicksicksick. for the first time since you were a baby, you snuggled on my belly, while uncle g remembered what it was like holding a baby.
9429_275556825382_744540382_8791539_6982566_n
9429_275556840382_744540382_8791542_1461012_n
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if you were to ask me later how i would describe you at 15 months, jude, here is what i would say:

this month, you clearly demonstrated empathy for the first time. a few weeks ago, your mama and i babysat your friend bobby, along with a brilliant three year old girl named skylar. (you were the same size, btw.) we’d never met skylar before, but agreed to watch her as a favor to bobby’s parents, so they could have a night out one the town with skylar’s parents. did i mention that skylar lives in california? that bobby’s house was unfamiliar to her? that she was overtired and hungry? so. her parents left. she took one look around at her surroundings, and had a total meltdown.

you have never seen a peer of yours cry before. she wept uncontrollably for…an hour? seventeen hours? it was excruciating to bear for all of us. but you kept approaching her, over and over, patting her on the back and trying to hug and kiss her. you knew she was suffering, and you wanted to make it better. it may not have helped (because you were a foreign toddler who was all but sitting on her lap), but i felt like i was given a small glimpse of your big soul. there was a brief moment in which i stepped back from my mom’s-eye-view and saw you as the separate, loving entity you are. and i was all squishy with pride.

so that is the essence of 15 months, kiddo. lest i get ahead of myself with your maturity, i must include the fact that you (still) gag yourself because you think it’s funny.

i love you,
mommy

self-serve goldfish:
efficient goldfishery.

owning the slide:
owning the slide.

seal love:
loves this seal.

so very over the mamarazzi:
so very over the mamarazzi.

my beauty:
my beauty.

blue-eyed wonder:
my smiler.

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14 months.

dear jude,

let’s see, approximately two weeks ago, you turned 14 months old. i have been delinquent in my writing to you (or anyone else, for that matter). since by the time you’re old enough to read, you won’t remember how busy i was in this season of your life, i won’t harp on it. old news. so over it.

let’s talk about you, shall we?

first: sleep. we’ve talked about sleep here before. but not recently. and mostly because i haven’t wanted to jinx the dream. because. you, my darling girl, have figured sleep out. one of your mothers puts you to bed for naps or the big night sleep, and you roll over, or wave, or blow a kiss. and then–sometimes after a few moments of mattress bouncing–you go to sleep. at night now, you average 10 hours straight. then you get up for breakfast and elmo, and go back to bed for at least another hour.

i love you. i’d love you even if you didn’t sleep this well. but for figuring out how to put yourself to sleep, and for being okay with being alone in your room? i love you so.

speaking of elmo, i suppose i should confess to how much you enjoy your programs. of course, there is your love affair with the many adventures of winnie the pooh. i could never fully express the depths of your relationship with this film, nor would i dare to. that is your story, your relationship. and i respect your privacy.

you also enjoy blue and steve (but not joe–his eyebrows are disconcerting) in the evenings, as well as a dash of dora and diego here and there (though we have begun explaining to you that boots is nothing but a materialistic user who always leads dora into needless danger. and for what? a bouncy ball or something equally inane). you have a mad crush on dj lance from yo gabba gabba, and dancey dance time is amongst your favorite times of day.

so yeah, you watch tv, and you get really into it. we watch it with you, and our conversations throughout the day contain such priceless quotes as this: “you, sir, are stuck. a wedged bear in a great tightness. in a word, irremovable.” your language skills, my dear, are going to be amazing, if we keep this up.

oh language. you talk. with words. they’re still mostly unintelligible to anyone but your parents, but they’re actual words. they include, but are not limited to:

hi doggy
hi kitty
hi sal (a kitty)
have more
mamamamama (me)
ma (h)
star
elmo
guh (uncle g)
fish
balloon
pooh

last month, we experienced a big fambly milestone. you went to spend the weekend with gabby and pop pop, while we stayed home and turned our library of mass destruction into your playroom. we wanted to create a first floor tv-free, pet-free, sharp-edges-free area for you to simply run around and be the exuberant toddler you are. this particular weekend, all of us were sick, but we persevered. you charmed the pants off your grandparents, and we set to work. we cleaned and painted and took a trip to ikea, and you came home to a lovely space of your own. you play there every day now, and listen to records with your mama. you really like louis armstrong, as it turns out.

so that is it for this edition of your life, month by month. as per usual, have some photos, taken by my trusty canon (as opposed to nikon, as some person accused me of having).

i love you, big girl. more than you love pooh.

mommy

the new room, ground view:
new train in a new play room.

you and me and a lazy saturday:
self portrait.

you and mama and a dora tent that only lasted a day:
with mama in the illfated tent.

swimming with your friend, sophie:
swimming with sophie.

naked sprinkler time:
sprinkle!

learning numbers with pooh:
friendlier with two.

talking on your foot phone, as seen through the rearview mirror:
hullo?

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dearest jude,

yesterday, you went and turned 13 months. one year old, i was prepared for, mostly. thirteen months? not so much. silly of me to think i could hold you still for a little while, and revel in your one-yearness. already, you are sprinting toddling forward toward becoming a full-fledged kid.

mostly, you are a kid. you run around and dance in circles and clap your hands and giggle at funny things and play with everything your hands can reach. but then you get sleepy, and you want to nurse, and your face becomes a baby’s face. you still try to suckle my chin–or other exposed flesh–and then you fall asleep at my breast, sighing like a baby.

i know these days are numbered…probably in the double digits now. i’m holding them, like i’m holding you, a treasure. where your treasure is, there your heart will be also, i read in the bible so many times when i was younger. i understand what that passage means now.

this month, your language skills have taken off. your first–and favorite sign–is “more”. not content with the ASL sign for “more”, you say it your own way: with a finger pointed determinedly at your opposite hand’s palm. you can sign the sentence “more milk”, which is impressive to me. concise and direct. no need for an editor. good work, communicator.

other signs include: bird, up, milk milk milk milk up more milk up. and then, like pooh, it’s a finger to the temple and “think think think”.

it’s a little surreal to finally have a two way word communication with you. between your burgeoning signs and words (such as fffffffan, hey!, kkkkkki [kitty] ahm [elmo], and mama), your inquisitive mothers get to peek into your mind a bit. i told mama h the other day that you are beginning to narrate your own story. i am flabbergasted by humans’ innate ability to contextualize consciousness into story. but here you are, doing it. furthermore, you are learning that symbols represent abstractions. when and how did your amazing brain make such a leap?

you are waking up, darling. no longer do you stare in confusion and entertainment at the baby in the mirror. just last night, you held a hairbrush in your hand as you watched yourself. instead of offering the brush to your reflection, you used the mirror to help you find and brush your own hair.

alright my love, i could write forever. i could tell you so many stories of how much you love–and beg for, and nearly choke on, for all the hoarding in your mouth–cheese. i could spend thousands of adjectives detailing your delightfulness. but i will spare you the sap. you have a whole lifetime to discover just how sappy i can be. congratulations.

i love you,
mommy

pee ess you are totally worth the rugburn i am sporting on both knees from chasing you around the big bed.

tall teeth
top teeth!

my gorgeous one
my beauteous beauty.

saxophonist
blowhard.

birthday girl
32 inches tall.

nekked dachshund lover (with a shout out to the family o)
nature girl is the real dog whisperer.

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11 months.

dear jude,

oh sweet girl, guess what? you turned 11 months nearly two weeks ago. i confess that i haven’t gotten anything done in a timely manner this month. all the video and photos i’ve taken? yeah, they’re all still hanging out on memory cards. [note for when you are older, and you giggle at such obsolete technology: a memory card holds the digital files that, at some point, you then upload to your computer.]

the reason for such a long delay in your monthly letter is this: holy hell it’s been a busy month. i’ve started a new position at work, one that keeps later hours than i’d like. later hours means i get to enjoy you in the mornings now, but it also means that i no longer get to give you your nightly bath, or put you to bed. you’re handling the change much better than i am, honestly. i miss the constancy of our routine. onward toward creating new routines, though, right? you are teaching me all about adaptiveness.

we traveled to dallas this month. your grandma (ie, my mom) was visiting from pennsylvania, and we all spent a long weekend together at aunt e’s house. this meant that you and your cousin carlos got to play again. he now spends much of his time hanging out on your play mat these days, and even offers the occasional sly smile. you adore him. when he whimpered or cooed or cried, you crawled up to him, patted him gently on the head or belly, and offered an enthusiastic kiss. incidentally, you now say *bwah* instead of *mwah* for your kissing sounds. i think you are combining “bye” with your kiss. efficiency, kid. i like it.

anyway, you also loved your grandma. she says that your giggle and your looks are just like me at about your age. let’s compare, shall we?

you, kinda zoned:
3244_190627960382_744540382_6695346_1224807_n
me, kinda zoned:
frightening on many levels.

yeah, you are definitely my kid.
…but i digress.

so. milestones this month? you now say “hi!” with a whole lot of feeling and nuance. there is the “hi” of happy greeting for your people and pets, and then there is a subtler “hi” given to books and other inanimate objects. OH! you have totally discovered books this month. brown bear and anything featuring elmo are your current favorites. you turn pages for your reader, and often times pay close attention to the words and rhythm of the story. (we read brown bear to the tune of the oompa loompa song.) without fail, you kiss your favorite pages.

another milestone this month was also kind of like the plague. you began to cut your top front teeth. it began with a fever. it escalated into roseola. and then, as the rash went away, you got a cold. the teeth are almost through now, and you’re feeling better. your mother have survived. wow. that was rough.

on 9 may–the day before mother’s day, thank you–you took three unassisted steps toward me. you repeated the motion several times. omg, i said, my kid can walk, and she’s not even 11 months. and then, you stopped doing it altogether. you did this with rolling over too. remember? at 9 weeks, you rolled over. you repeated it enough so we knew it wasn’t a fluke. and then you abruptly stopped, and didn’t do it again for a few more months. i think this may say something about your personality, but i’m not sure what. does it mean that you are out to prove something to the world? “i CAN walk; i simply choose not to. or are you unimpressed with progress? “meh, walking is boring. i’m going back to my efficient, familiar mode of transport.”

…only time will tell. i promise to pay attention to your answer.

love,
mommy
[we have decided that mama h is “mama” and i am “mommy”, mostly because we were confusing ourselves.]

pee ess, here are some pics taken by tio al when we were in dallas:

kisses for mommy.

bright window baby.

bright eyed teether.

my beloved.

happy mccarthy girls.
(as your primary photographer, i so rarely show up in photos with you. it’s nice to see us together, my love.)

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10 months.

dear jude,

the other day, you turned 10 whole months old. once again, i’m flabbergasted at how quickly time sprints forward anymore. you’ll hear this a lot from me, i think, for the rest of my life. time, as i once knew it, is a hazy memory. i might remember something about seasons and years and predictable change; marks on the proverbial calendar. now? each moment is new and even more fleeting than i ever thought possible. for you, little girl, never stop moving, or growing, or becoming. i feel like i should write you weekly letters, as you are a whole new jude all the time.

the only things that seemed to remain the same this month were the amount of visible teeth and your diaper size. (though, judging by your current drool, fussiness, and lack of appetite, the former is about to change any second now…) the rest of you blossomed like so many new green leaves on all the spring trees. your hair is growing so fast these days; you are fuzzy, blondish-red, with swooping little bangs on your forehead. after baths, we actually use a brush now. because you are a bald baby no longer!

this month, you made your first new friend, a sweet boy named bobby. he’s a little more than 6 months older than you, but you’re a lot bigger than him. his life is one miracle on top of the next, and his sweet mama thinks that your example of constant crawling and cruising is helping him learn to do the same. bobby is a very detail-oriented guy, and he has taught you to pay attention to the intricacies of everything you encounter. i love watching the two of you interact with toys: squinting, breathing heavily, studying how every component fits together.

your mamas have also fallen in love with bobby, which sometimes makes you jealous. you don’t necessarily like to share laps. exhibit a:
jude's new bff, bobby.

despite the moments of jealousy, you and bobby seem to really enjoy each other. you touch each other’s face with great affection, and so far, sharing seems to be going well. good job, you.

let’s see, what else? oh! also of note, you have taken one or two independent steps here and there. you totally have the balance thing down; you only lack confidence now. (mama h and i, meanwhile, lack baby gates. time to remedy that.) you have also taken to imitating the meowing of cats, which is ridiculously adorable. we brag that you are fluent in feline, which is probably true. and in recent days, you have begun blowing kisses, accompanied by an enthusiastic *mwah*, which sounds more like *mmmmma*.

i love your loud little voice.

this month, you got to meet your cousin, carlos, when he was just five days old. he is really cute and tiny. see?
awake.

he also has a lot of hair, which you mistook for fur, and so you tried to pet him like a kitty. otherwise, you ignored him, because all he really did was sleep a lot and squawk a little. however, i am confident that the two of you will become fast friends within a matter of months, and i hope you are always close. your aunts and uncles and other cousins are all a lot older than you, and i know how alienating that can feel sometimes. i want nothing more than for you and carlos to know and love each other well. be gentle with him, too. someday, he may be bigger than you.

speaking of cousins, by coincidence, your oldest cousin, alyssa, happened to be in dallas on the same weekend we visited carlos. and so you got to meet her too! she is sixteen years older than you, and you are in so much awe of her coolness. (actually, i am too.) i was 13 when alyssa was born, and was her first babysitter. i won’t go in to how weird it is to see her as an adultish person, but i will say how uncanny it is how much you look like her sometimes. she agreed. and she made a joke about you being her baby. and i said it wasn’t funny. and then we both laughed nervously.

twinsies.

okay, so this letter is becoming a meandering, sentimental mess. sorry about that, love. i’m going to end it now by saying, once again, that you are my heart. and i love you more than you love the cats.

love,
mama

pee ess, as anyone can see by the last photo, your heart belongs to pop pop. that might have something to do with your inherent understanding that you completely own the man. so much so that he and your gabby bought a new house just to be near you. and every time you do something cute, he promises you a pony. i think we’ll need to invest in some land for your pony herd to graze.

hullo?
(this is your pretend-to-talk-on-the-phone pose.)
cameras make everything better.
diva.
heart belongs to pop pop.

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