as I write this letter about your 8th month in my life (you are actually 9 months, but see these letters recap the last month of you life), I realize that you have now been outside of my body as long as I carried you inside of it. I think back to how terrified yet overjoyed I was to be your mom, a parent, the one who teaches you all the small things and life’s large things, the one who holds you when you cry…just nine months ago, I didn’t even know life could be so wonderful. I had NO idea how much I would love you, how much better this all could be than I EVER imagined.
We are the luckiest little family. There is not one day, not one, that I don’t marvel at how blessed I/we am/are.
Your 8th month has been by far the greatest display of what the human brain is capable of. It’s as though each day you learn something new that changes who you are, what you are capable of doing. I can show you once how to do something, watch you try and stumble through it for a couple of tries, then see you have it mastered within 24 hours. Whether it’s how to bang together two pieces of a puzzle or wave your hand or turn your arm into an elephant trunk or dance…. My mind is blown by your intelligence, your tenacity, your independence. This little personality that I see developing is amazing. As though your life, the hairs on your head, the perfect belly button, the sweet fingertips aren’t miracle enough, to witness you learn is truly a testament to how miraculous a little life can be.
We started your 8th month in Florida visiting the Mooneyham family. You spent a lot of time walking around outside with Poppy, meeting your cousins and Uncle/Aunt. You wore your Big Boy Jammies there for the first time and stared at the Deer Heads on the wall with wonder and amazement. You must’ve thought they were Hannah b/c you called to them like you do her and would point to them when we asked where she was. You played in the dirt and met the man who gave you your ears (Great Grandad)…you also went to the home of THE EARS (Mickey Mouse)….Disney World. You tried to eat a Lego there and were terrified by the Animatronic T-Rex. You started a new habit of patting/slapping your head to make Daddy laugh and, be still my heart, said Mama one morning when I went to lift you out of your crib. It was the most precious sound I had ever heard. Kirk was lying in bed and heard as well and gave me the sweetest look….
We then traveled to Kansas to surprise Don Linny and continue Mommy’s tradition with DL of shopping on the Country Club Plaza. We made her cry and you were so happy to get to see her and Papa Jim.
A lot of time this month decorating and preparing for Christmas. I went WAY overboard on the number of gifts under the tree for you, but also made sure to talk to you a lot about what Christmas really means. Yes, there are a lot of sparkly ornaments on the tree and Mommy spent a lot of time decorating the mantle, but we also took $20o to the toy store and bought toys for others, we baked a birthday cake for Baby Jesus, we sang Christmas carols at the TOP of our lungs, we baked cookies, we ate dinner by the tree, we played in the snow….we read the story of Baby Jesus from your Childrens’ Bible and mommy cried and cried. It is so very important to your daddy and I that you know the true spirit of this season and each time I read to you about the manger, the 3 Wise Men, about Mary and Gabriel and Luke 1:14 “And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. YOU are our miracle this year.
Aside from traveling and preparing for the Holidays, you spent a majority of the month soaking in the world around you. This month, we watched you begin to point at things you wanted. Your crooked little finger would at first point your arm in the general direction of things, but just weeks later would point at exactly what you wanted.
This month, you began mimicking the words, syllable and intonation of the things we say…so we must be careful. Did you really just repeat “Mickey” or “bat” or “tree” or even “shit?” ….we have to watch what we say. Sometimes we just hear what we want. There is really no way you are saying “Hi, Dad” or “more please” but in our minds, we hear those words at the perfect time…plain as day! If I ask you “What does a doggy say?” you start panting and then look for Hannah. You can repeat BAT and TREE and when I try to get you to use your Sign Language for “more” you just look at me and either scream something that sounds like “more” or you start pointing at what you want. My favorite words you’ve “spoken” this month were when you were pissed at me for taking away the broom you were holding and you pointed your finger at me and babbled Baby Cuss Words at me for a full 30 seconds. I was in shock, scrambling to find the video camera on my phone and laughing so hard. It was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen….oh, I can only imagine what you were saying!
Daddy plays with you in your room each morning so I can scramble to have a little time to shower, brush my teeth and get out of my jammies. I hear you two in there banging around and see that you are carrying, yes carrying, his wooden Louisville Slugger around. YOU LOVE THAT THING! Bat! Bat! You stand with it, crawl with it, sit with it….Daddy has helped you explore things in our own home that I would never have thought to let you play with (door stoppers, wheels on luggage, knocking on the walls). Sometimes, I wish you wouldn’t play with things that you just find SO entertaining (for instance…the way you love to sit in front of the humidifier and turn it on full to let the water blast in your face….the cabinet doors….window panels….)
You have become SO physically strong this month. You have no interest whatsoever in sitting down and only want to stand. Giving you a bath has become torture for me. You don’t want to sit and are too slippery when you stand to wash….it’s a daily fight between us. Just a few days before you turned 9 months while Daddy was out of town, I dreaded Bath Time b/c you had a combination of Squash/BBQ sauce and Banana all over your face, neck, hair and body. To combat your fight with me, I just plopped you in the tub with me! You were in heaven. Your wet, slippery body safely held by my arms. You splashed and kicked and tried to put your face in….and came out cleaner than you’ve been in weeks!
My God, the way you fight and squirm during a diaper change has me convinced I am hurting you or something. I have to give you a remote or a lotion bottle or a Light Saber to get you to lay somewhat still. I have taken to buckling you down on the Changing Table which evokes animal-like screams….we are going through 4-5 diapers a day as eating solids has created waste in your diapers that is simply unspeakable.
When you are frustrated, you throw things now. Most noticeably the spoon during feedings. You want to feed yourself with a spoon so badly, then get so pissed when you can’t do it. I try to trick you by giving you a spoon to hold and then feeding you with another one, but that only works for about 5 or so bites.
Eating is becoming fun to watch. You love to feed yourself with your little fingers. I am amazed at how small of a morsel you can grab with your fingers. You have moved on from pureed foods that I make myself and now eat Nutri Grain bars, cantaloupe, crackers, SpaghettiOs, french fries, yogurt, Veggie Burgers with BBQ sauce…anything. We love to go to the Salad Bar and get a little of everything to see what you will or won’t eat (you hate carrots in any form and don’t really love eggs too much). My favorite is letting you get all messy during breakfast with yogurt and watching you try to pick up a piece of banana…it’s entertaining and keeps you challenged for at least 20 minutes. Thought I don’t care that you get messy, I am amazed by how disgusting highchairs can get. They are definitely a place where food just disappears….GROSS! By the time you are finished with a meal, your hair is stiff from the food you love to mash into it and your face looks like you just dipped it into your meal. You also like to sneak bites to Hannah and giggle when she licks your hands. We’ve tried to use a sippy cup a few times, but you only end up frustrated b/c you can’t tip your head back AND hold onto the handles. You do, however, like when I put water in your mouth from a straw. In fact, any time you see a straw now you just have to have a drink!
Eating more and more solid foods has you breastfeeding less, but it has definitely become a more physical activity than one that’s purpose is to nourish. You throw your body into position anytime you want to be close to me. You crawl into my lap and begin to pull down on my shirt. It’s at this time that a lot of women quit or that society tells them “it’s probably time.” This saddens me. Why would anyone deny a baby something they so obviously need?!? You nurse for comfort after playing hard with daddy, after Hannah’s bark scares you, when you are sleepy. How anyone could think that just because you have teeth (though you have bitten me a few times this month) or are smart enough to pull my shirt down means you should be done is beyond me. You point at my breasts and when I finally begin to nurse you, your hand wraps itself into my bra straps or under my shirt where you stroke my skin. It’s the most intimate of acts I’ve ever experienced. You put your hand flat on my cheek and stare, literally stare, into my eyes. I watch your eyes close as you relax and your hand continues to caress my skin. I know that in a few months when I wean you, I will mourn this.
You are still a great sleeper with just a few days of adjustment upon return from Florida. Teething is surely to blame, but you still nap 3-4 times a day and sleep 10+ hours a night. I look down at you in your crib and you are almost touching all four corners with your arms/legs. I love to sneak into your room and watch you with your butt up in the air or arms tucked under your belly or listen to your little snore. I still let you nap during the day in my arms and sometimes join you in slumber. You sleep best there, so why not go with it? The laundry can wait, I need to stare at your lips and watch your fuzzy and long hairs (the original ones from when you were born) get sweaty and curl up.
This month we spent a lot of time at Story Hour at our library. I love watching how the other babies sit quietly and listen to the story and you jump and wiggle and crawl up and down, in and out of my lap. You LOVE the songs and shake whatever instrument they give you with all of your might. The tunnel they bring out at the end isn’t your favorite, but I always make you crawl all the way through it to me at least 3 times to wear you out. We’ve worked a lot on incorporating more books into our routine. At night, you have finally begun to sit still and let us read to you. As I give you a bottle, Daddy read 3-4 stories to you. No longer do you try to kick the book or rip it out of our hands, but instead listen and point at the pictures. You also are learning to pull all of the books out of the shelf and look at them on your own. I encouraged this by moving them all to the lowest shelf so that you can reach them.
Hannah is still the funniest thing in your world. We try to teach you to be gentle with her, but honestly, it’s easier to just tell her to RUN!!!! You love to chase her in your walker with a cardboard wrapping paper roll or a clothes hanger (which you LOVE) and whack her on the booty. You sneak up on her and corner her then scream so that you shock her and then you squeal and are so proud of yourself. I’m still not 100% sure what she thinks of you, but she knows that you usually have snacks and that makes her okay with you.
I watched you grow so much in these 4 weeks. Last week, when I went into your crib to get you in the morning, you were sitting there waiting….looking out through the slats…just waiting. When you saw me, you lifted your arms up to be held….just two weeks later I went in to get you and you were STANDING up, holding onto those slats….Didn’t anyone tell you it’s not okay to get so big? At the beginning of the month, you couldn’t even go from a crawl to sitting and now you are standing? You began this month by using your face (and teeth) to get support to be able to manuever around.
Now, you can pull up to a stand on your own. Two weeks into the month, with Daddy out of town for a week, I was given a walker-thing on wheels from Kelsi to let you try. I didn’t even have time to grab my camera to record your first attempt at walking b/c you were OFF! You were literally RUNNING down the hall, chasing Hannah, arms waving like E.T. running. It was hilarious! You were so proud of your independence! I took you outside to show the neighbors and you ran AROUND the cul de sac chasing Isabella & Olivia. I sent Daddy videos and he now spends his night running ahead of you to make you run to him. I love the sound of those wheels on the floor, but wish you would stay out of the kitchen b/c you bang into the cabinets. Though we’ve baby-proofed our home, you still manage to find every sharp corner to run into and every door to open. Just two days later, we introduced you to a Stand-Behind Walker. Day 1 you just stood there….Day 2 you were, yet again, RUNNING! You are a fast little thing whether crawling or running. I loved watching you learn how to fall. At first, you were like a tree and fell stiff…TIMBER…in just a few days you learned to bend your knees and we celebrate each fall with a WHIPPPPEEEEEE!!!! Daddy still gets nervous every time you topple over, but as long as you are okay, I clap and watch you smile at me.
Daddy loves his time with you in the basement where you chase him, he chases you, you chase Hannah. It’s also really funny how much you love to carry household items around as you walk. Whether it’s a cardboard roll from wrapping paper or a clothes hanger with baby jeans dangling on it or a cracker, it’s as though you need to be holding onto something… It won’t be long before you are standing, then walking on your own. As much as I love to see you try and conquer these new things, I also am saddened because I know that each step you learn to take cuts the invisible tether between your body and mine.
You LOVE to look at the lights on the Christmas Tree each night and say “tee” and we walk you over to it and you stare in awe and wonder. Often you find yourself in the corner staring at the presents wrapped under the tree. You have discovered that the presents under the tree beep and make giggles and music and the very sounds your other toys make…yet…they are just paper. It’s funny to watch your brain try to figure out where the toy sounds are coming from. I can’t wait until Christmas morning to see you open those very presents you’ve stared at for a month.
Silly little Bubby. I don’t know when you may have seen Daddy dance, maybe that one time we took you to Neil Young at Red Rocks, but you dance just like him. You bob and bounce and are so silly. You love to look at yourself in the mirror. You still hate being put into your carseat and are okay when strangers hold you. You like to put your finger in our mouths and jab at our gums. Your back is ticklish and I kiss my special spot under your ear 1,000 times a day. You love it when I smell your feet and say P-U and STINKY! Door stoppers that you can flick are the most awesome toy. You ate a piece of dog food this month and still keep trying to get more. You are learning to clap and we are working on high 5 and we practice PeekaBoo a lot. In Target the other day, you kept pulling your blanket up over your head and then pulling it down with a squeal each time I yelled PeekaBOO!!!! I tried to capture it on video in the mens’ underwear department, but each time I got the camera rolling you acted as though I was a stranger. Go figure! We are also working on blowing kisses.
Open mouth and wet and slimy and sometimes with Puffs or Crackers in them….but sweet, glorious yummy kisses. You only give them to me and to any stuffed animal (all of which we call Hannah) and each one is soooo yummy. I snuggle you up in my arms when I come down into the basement to play with you and daddy after I’ve cleaned upstairs a bit and you and I do some making out….I kiss and kiss and you lick and open mouth goo me….
You have had several Play Dates with new friends this month; Lucas (11 months) whom you bit on the arm and left a mark, Leila (newborn) who just kind of lies there. You don’t know how to play *with* others, just make sure they don’t take whatever toy it is that you didn’t even know you want. At Story TIme, you still can’t be trusted if anyone gets anywhere near the plastic carrot that you seem to think is yours.
You are still a HUGE flirt. You do this nose crinkle thing that just gets every lady who looks your way. Add to that the 7 teeth you have and a grin that just lights up the room and you have them melting. You LOVE to flirt with Kelsi. One look at her and you are crinkling your nose, giggling, smiling and looking at her out of the corner of you big, blue eyes.
Your eyelashes are extra thick this month. I’ve also noticed (and delighted in) the fact that your hair is filling in. The dark stripe of hair down the middle is still there, but slowly filling in with light brown hairs. You have begun to yank any hat I put on your head off this month.
I just have to stop every now and then to remind myself that it’s okay how quickly this is all going. That you HAVE to grow big and strong, that my “job” is to help you learn and change and get bigger…but it doesn’t make it any easier. Mommy Guilt crept into our home this month. It has made me doubt every decision I’ve made for you. It began early in the month of December as I began to make new friends with mamas at Story Hour. Why is so and so doing this and Reeve isn’t? Is he learning enough? Would he be smarter in Day Care with a teacher? Is he socialized enough? Is that why he’s biting? Am I giving him enough vegetables? It was a rough week or so. Then I met a new friend who seems to have a “eh, he’s fine…..” philosophy and I’ve tried to just go with it. With Kirk gone for 7 days, I spent a rough week focusing on giving you a little more independence. It was that week that you learned more than you have in any other week before (walking, running, pulling up). I let you get messy while you ate and roam the halls without me on your heels. You flourished with a little room and then my guilt sunk a little deeper as I thought to myself, “Have I been holding him back?”
I realized in this 8th month of your life that this is the hardest part of parenting. The guilt. The decisions I must make that determine how you will learn, what you will eat and then how that affects your eating habits for life. It’s as though, in this month, I’ve really become a PARENT and not just a mom. Those first 8 months of your life, well, you were just a blob. Now that you learn and react and absorb, my job has really just begun. I spend a lot of time explaining to you. I hate the idea of being a “no….NO…no” parent who just uses that word so often it loses it’s meaning. Though you know the word “no” and don’t always listen, I make sure to replace it appropriately with “gentle” or “hot” or “dangerous” or “careful” so that you don’t hear it 1,000 times a day. I hate it when parents do that…you are learning to “test your limits” and like to touch on things after I tell you “no”…the first time after I tell you it’s with your fingertip, then you almost touch it knowing you shouldn’t. So smart!
Oh, Reeve….the days with you can seem so long sometimes. Especially when Daddy travels and 5:00 isn’t even something to look forward to, but another 2 hours until bedtime. Sometimes you wake up at 5 or 6am and I’m so tired and I just think “ugh…..I wish he would just sleep for another 3 hours”….but then, I realize on the flip side of the long days are the short years.
Time tricks you when you are a mommy. It’s fast and slow all at once and creeps and flashes by.
My big boy, you are still so tiny. I see your little arms, your little legs and I just flash back in my mind to that day you were placed on my chest. How is it possible that 9 months has gone by?
You were a baby once, now you are a boy! I remember wishing you would get a little bigger so that we could do this, so that you would laugh at me, so that you would walk….now I wonder what I was thinking?
I am just so amazed by you. How you explore your surroundings. How you communicate. The things you find funny. The way one day you love squash and the next you spit it out when I am not looking into the side of the highchair.
Reeve, as each month passes and I find myself typing this letter to you in our bed with this giant picture of you on the wall at the foot of the bed, I am amazed by how much you change and learn. The pride I feel in my heart that you are mine (ours) is completely overwhelming. Breathing is sometimes hard even just thinking about not having you. I am beyond grateful that the plan God has for me includes you.
Reeve, I cannot ever wrap my words around the way being your Mama feels. I have known a lot of love in my life, but there is NOTHING, not one person in this world, who has changed me in the way you have. You have softened not only my body, but my heart.
I love being your Mama. I love our family. I love each morning when I wake up and you seeing me and me seeing you is a brand new start. I love seeing this world through your eyes each day….it’s as though each thing you see is amazing. A BOX! A door! TOILET PAPER! Thank you…for making me slow down, see this life with such new light!
Reeve, I spoke these words to you Daddy on our Wedding Day, and I think they are fitting not only for the vows I took with him, but also for the promises I make to you.
I will love you until my dying breathe….and then…forever after that.
Sweet Baby, thank you for choosing me. Thank you for your smile, your eyes that sparkle, your nose that crinkles, your belly laughs that make me feel so funny. Thank you for wet kisses and for fighting like crazy to get what you want. Thank you for these past 9 months. My life will never be the same now that I have known what it is to be your Mother….to love, to LIVE, for another person….YOU!
Keep growing big & strong. When you wake up and need to be held, I will sing “You are my sunshine” into your ear and you will creep each day closer to being 1-year-old and I will love you more with each second…and we will play and build tunnels and chase the dog and love on each other and not ONE SECOND of any day will I ever wish anything for you but that someday you know for yourself this love I feel for you.
Thank you for being mine.
To the moon & back,
Favorite things to do: Walk/Run. Whether in Walker or behind Push Walker….you have no interest in sitting or being still
Favorite things to eat: Veggie Burger with BBQ sauce/Cheerios/Pancake/Mandarin Oranges
Dislikes: Diaper Changes/Baths/being told “no”/Having nose wiped/Having Broom taken away
Funny Tricks: Panting like a dog, you like being scared, flirting with the ladies, Door Stoppers