as I start this letter to you just a few days the 11 month birthday I am amazed by how fast this past year has gone. I recently found a hard-drive with pictures on it from the day you were born that daddy took while I was lying on the surgery table being put back together. I have no memories of that day, those moments and all I can conjure is what I can piece together from those pictures. But my heart knows. My brain knows. I’ve never NOT known you.
We are in the basement. You’re wearing a little red fleece hoodie and jeans that will probably be too short in a week. Little red Superman socks on your feet and your hair is combed to the side. You’re biting on my shoulder as I talk to Siri into my phone. You’re toddling from toy to toy and throwing balls at me. You keep throwing your body onto the ground and fussing because I won’t nurse you on command. You’re on and off of your car, pushing the buttons and jerking the lever to trying get the balls to fly out the front. You’re pulling Hannah’s hair when she’s near you and throwing diapers on the floor. You are emptying your snacks onto the floor and holding my cell phone up like a lighter at a concert b/c you love the Yo Gabba Gabba songs on the Pandora station. You are looking under the couch for balls and using any object that you can as a bat. You are pulling your socks off and laughing as I pretend how stinky your feet are. You are crinkling your nose and patting your head as we try to play Peek A Boo. You are rubbing your belly and jabbing your finger into my nose/mouth as you nurse..
This life. It’s yours…and every day you take it by the horns and you not only tell it, you scream down it’s face, “let’s make the most of it..”.
God…and damn….you are the best thing I’ve ever done!
Ten months has shown us a LOT of dance moves. That’s, perhaps, your favorite part of your life right now. We don’t watch a lot of television, but we have the stereo piped through the ceiling speakers playing all day long. From Bob Marley to Neil Young to P. Diddy to Fresh Beats Band and Kermit to Beck we LOVE music. You dance from side-t0-side with your head. Sometimes you rock from leg to leg, but for now it’s all head. My own little Bobble Head. You hold my phone in the air like a lighter and we dream of taking you to summer music festivals and tell you, even now when you can’t possibly know, that you should NEVER miss the opening act….even the Allman Brothers were once an opening act. Oh Bubby, I love to see you dance. We usually have a 4-minute Dance Party each night as I cook party. During these, I hold you and we dance around the living room like we are at a ball….but it’s when you don’t think I’m watching and you break out your best moves that I love you most.
Let’s think back to how this month began.
We transitioned you into a big boy carseat. No longer can you fall asleep in the car and Mommy can just put you in your carseat to do her errands, now we get out once a day around your naptime(s) and that’s it. Sometimes you finish your naps in the car as I read a book in the front seat (in the garage) but most days we stay home to make sure we stick to your schedule as closely as possible.
Aunt Kelsi went back to work from Maternity Leave 😦 and Ms. Erin delivered Baby Everett (your someday BFF). We spent an evening in the Urgent Care when your nose was scraped up after a fall in the driveway. I can’t even talk about it…it was the single most awful moment of my life. I, who pride myself on being good in emergencies, was beyond hysterical and unable to be consoled. You are fine…your perfect nose is still perfect….Not even one day after your nose was bloodied and mommy almost had a heart attack, you came home and pulled a giant bowl off of a table and shattered glass everywhere. By the end of the first week of this month, I realized I needed to step up my game…this month you are in less onesies than you are t-shirts and pants. Much like my teenage years when unitards were a trend, you are just too tall for anything that snaps in the crotch, the leg holes ride up to your armpits.
You spent each night this month splashing in the bathtub and flirting your pants off with the little boy in the silver reflection under the faucet. He’s a cutie!!! And, Ladies & Gentleman, you have discovered your penis. You are obsessed with the little thing. You yank on it with such force we cringe and laugh at the same time. I love seeing your wet, slippery body so happy to be clean and warm. We always get you out of the tub, snuggle you in your froggie towel and lather you with the thickest lotion possible. You fuss a little each time, but just love this routine. You then toddle up to your bookshelf and pull the books off one-by-one for us to read.
Month 10 of your life has also been all about BALLS!!!. It doesn’t matter if it is a ball or just looks like a ball or is round, it’s a BALL to you. Grapes are balls. Any toy that is small enough to fit in your hand is a ball. And throw….man can you throw. Like the little kid in Jerry MaGuire, each time you throw a ball we look at each other with eyes filled with hope. It appears you throw better left-handed, but you don’t discriminate. You can throw a ball STRAIGHT to us. Most babies would struggle to aim, but you have purpose when you toss a ball. And you can say the word “ball” too. It comes out without an L at the end, but sounds more like “bawwwww.” And there is NO DOUBT that you can say BAT. Everything long and skinny is a bat. A paper towel roll, a concert poster tube, PVC pipe, small brooms, the windshield scraper in the backseat. We have to be aware anytime you have a bat-like object in your hands b/c you can also swing like a pro. Poor Hannah…. Daddy is convinced that you think his name is “Ball” b/c you say that to him first thing every day when you first see him. I know it’s b/c you associate “ball” with “daddy” but he thinks you are confused. I think it’s awesome..
The month started off with a lot of Pamper-padded falls on your behind. You just want to run so bad. We joke that you can hit, you can throw and as soon as you can run we have to start teaching you how to run the bases. Well, little did we know that with just 3 days left in your 10th month you would start to walk….RUN! You can take about 4-7 steps at a time now and they aren’t careful and deliberate…No, they are wild and fast and with your arms in the air. You look like E.T. when he runs! I just love it that we were both there to witness your first steps in the basement walking from Mommy to Daddy to Mommy and back. You didn’t know to be proud of yourself, but we hooted and hollared and then quickly went “Oh, Shit!….it’s really on now!” Unless we stand you up and give you something specific to walk towards, you really aren’t that interested in walking yet. Which is fine with me…but we did manage to call Don Linny so she could see you on Facetime take some of your first steps. You are still crawling 98% of the time, but can stand up on your own and I know it won’t be long before you are a blur across the hardwood floors.
You can now point out body parts. Head. Nose (mostly mine….and never softly) Eyes. Belly. Penis. It’s so funny to see your little brain work to think, “wait, where is that again?” You do the same with the animals in the books we read. Gorilla says What? You stop, think and make a grunting sound. Monkey says what? You scream. Elephants…you raise your arm like a trunk and try to trill your lips. Dogs…easy. Cats sound more like a high-pitched sigh than a meow. You can clap your hands on command and do so when you see a sea lion. YOu are just a genius…there’s no doubt. I am so beyond proud this month of the love you have for books. All of those hours spent chasing you around that damn circle rug every morning at Story Time are paying off. You still could care less about what Ms. Nancy/Laura has to read at Story Time, but when we are home reading is your favorite, second to balls. You are especially fond of your Superman Board Book, doggie books, any book with fur/felt/fabric, etc. You crawl in and out of my lap, hand me a book and say “dat.” Sometimes, if the book is short enough, we can read the whole thing. Sometimes you just want to look at it then go off to find another one. Sometimes you just want to pull every book off of the shelf and watch it hit the floor. It doesn’t matter, you LOVE to look at the pages and turn them and kiss the doggies open-mouthed on the book and can point out things when I say “point to the strawberry/robot/gorilla/balloon/snake.” At Story Time, we have to sit as close as possible to the teacher b/c otherwise I spend the whole class chasing you across the circle rug. You are the crazy kid. Twice this month you were good and moms actually stopped to comment to me how calm you were….THanks?? You aren’t always the nicest to the other children, you beat on them…you bite at them if they approach your toys…you push them out of your way.
Reeve, in fact, you are kind of mean! It worries me and makes me so sad. I think you are just so excited that you don’t know how to control it and your hands get to flapping and you whack people. Sometimes, I worry that you have a little anger issue. Sometimes I worry that I’m not doing something right. Most of the times I worry that I’m failing you and not punishing you correctly or enough or properly. About 7% of the time you are really rough with me. You hit my face, scratch me, bite my shoulders, pull my hair HARD….and it hurts so much more than my face or neck or side of head. It breaks my heart. Because I just love you SO much, more than you could ever know…all I do is love you….I don’t ever ever want to hurt you and I hate it when you hurt me. Although I know that you don’t mean to, that you don’t even know what you are doing, I hate how it upsets me and stresses me out and makes me feel like I’m failing. But I know that it’s all part of learning. Though you are starting to communicate, you have no idea to control your excitement or energy and it usually manifests through your hands. Your brain just can’t keep up with your body. It’s like you are a mini-Mommy personality (competitive, impatient, multi-tasking, eager to GO) trapped in a skinny, little Long & Lean body.
Whew….with that said. This month you did start to hug and kiss me. These moments are rare, but they are SO worth every pinch, scratch, bite. Sometimes we play this little game where you smoosh your cheek up against mine and we just stay like that for seconds and seconds. I don’t breathe. I don’t move. I’m afraid if I do it will break the spell and you will be gone. Kisses are still wet and ooey and gooey open-mouthed cheek bombs. Hugs are more frantic and often are paired with “FEED ME NOW, MAMA” undertones. My arms have become your LaZBoy chair. You snuggle into my lap and fit there just so right. I’ll hold you all day, until I can’t any longer. Or until you WHACK me as hard as you can.
You can understand so many words (with the exception of “no”). I say things to you like “go get me that book” or “show me your belly” or “where’s your head?” or “look up there” and you follow to where I’m pointing or crawl over to bring me what I want. I love that you understand me, but I also worry that you take in so much more than I can control. The other day I sighed out loud with you feet away and distracted by a ball, not 2 minutes later you kept sighing over and over. You have mastered the Sign Language for “more,” but not without forgetting it this month and replacing it with a hard pat on your head. I love watching your little hands clap and try to pinch your fingers together to make the actual sign. It won’t be long before you can say the word “more.” You don’t often make a lot of sense and just walk around screaming or making new sounds as loud as you can. Sometimes in the car you sing along to the radio and “mama” and “daaaaa” are words you’ve nailed. In fact, this month you “found your voice” so much that you “lost it” too…..a few days of a hoarse, rasphy voice and we were worried about everything from bronchitis to puberty (not really, people). It was deep and sounded like you’d smoked a pack of cigarettes..but so cute! Though I don’t always know what you are saying, I’m certain you do and that disconnect gets downright frustrating to you so we try to use Sign Language as much as possible to help you. We are working on “Milk” when you want to nurse b/c I’m really tired of you just freaking out when you want it or yanking my shirt down in public (plus all my necklines are beyond stretched out).
Nursing…ah, the love / hate relationship I have with it. I still absolutely LOVE the bond. The way we stare into each other’s eyes, the way you stroke my side or pat my belly. I HATE how you sometimes scratch my face/neck/nose or get distracted by something in the air and bite me. I love playing with your soft and long hair. I hate how my nipples are constantly in pain.. I love how your little body folds into the same position, fetal with your legs curled up into my belly. I hate how you won’t drink out of a sippy cup and will stop in the middle of a playdate to have a quick sip. I have no desire to quit though. I get asked a lot, as you near your first birthday, “Are you going to wean him soon?” As though the one-year mark is the “expected” or “acceptable” time to be “done with that….” That equaling the inconvenient/inappropriate act of nursing.
In other news, you now eat a lot! LOT. Vegetables are still tricky and I’ve begun to disguise spinach pureed with applesauce then freezing little drops which you love. You love Cherry Tomatoes and any form of pasta with sauce which is messy and understandably fun to tease Hannah with. Strawberries make you dance and frozen blueberries with Greek Yogurt make you gluttonous. Grapes are awesome and I don’t know what we would do without chicken nuggets. It’s both fun and exhausting at every meal. I try to not Quid Pro Quo you into eating, but sometimes I think a little pleading is going to work only to find out there is nothing I can make you do if you aren’t interested. A lot of your food ends up on the floor and even more of it ends up in Hannah’s Mouth or fur.. You like to let her have a lick of whatever you are eating and then put it right in your mouth. Such a little tease!
Another favorite game this month is GODZILLA. When we stack books or cups you just love it when I say “GODZILLA” and you come through and knock them over with all of our might. You also get quite a kick out of climbing UP the stairs. We try to work on going DOWN the stairs, but you just get pissed. I was so worried this month to see you RACING Lucas up the stairs. Yes, you knew that one of you would get to the top first and be a WINNER and you were trying to pull him down by the leg to get there. NOT GOOD! Mommy has this issue….You love to watch animals on TV and were the biggest fan of the Puppy Bowl during the Super Bowl. “Dooogggggggg” You aren’t a huge fan of cats (like mama) but you think they are fun to watch too. You love the marble owl outside of the library and each day have to poke your finger in it’s eyes or your day just doesn’t start right. You can High Five and are starting to learn to blow kisses. You LOVE to touch my nose and see if it’s going to HONK or BEEP…you think it’s so damn funny and I fear with each little poke you are going to scratch the inside of my nostril (and damn that hurts)
We’ve had LOTS of playdates this month. You attempted to fingerpaint with Lucas (flop) and were just a lot more interested in protecting YOUR toys in YOUR basement from Lucas. We’ve started Tumbling class at the Rec Center where you also only want to play in the ball pit and could care less about song time in a circle and singing that stupid songs about a bus and it’s wheels. In and out of the ball pit. Throwing the balls as hard as you can at the sweet little 8 month olds who look at you like you might hurt them (you would if I just let you loose). Sometimes you let me work on the Log Roll with you down a ramp and sometimes you crawl through a tunnel, but mostly you want to sit in that ball pit and beam other kids with the orange/red balls.
Brushing your teeth is about the coolest thing life has ever given you. I still use the finger brush that slides onto mine and make the CHH CHH CHH sound each time. I don’t know if it feels good or you like the taste of it (probably) but it’s so fun to you.
You are sleeping great through the night. Usually from 8pm to 6pm. Sometimes you wake up at 5am and I just let you cry yourself back to sleep (which can take 15-30 minutes and is TORTURE on me) b/c 5am is just TOO DAMN EARLY!!!! We’ve transitioned from 3 shorter naps a day to 2 not-as-short-but-still-short naps. It would be nice if you would give me a good hour or hour and half nap each time so I could sweep up the Hannah hair that is everywhere or rinse out your bottles or do a load of laundry, but I guess I am just lucky that you nap at all. I hear some babies don’t. You sleep best on your tummy with your butt up in the air. The bad news in all of this is that you are still only able to fall asleep if I rock and nurse you all the way to sleep. I know the books say to rock you until you are sleepy, but this just doesn’t work. Once you are placed on the mattress, you are WIDE awake if I don’t nurse you to the point you are a limp noodle.
Reeve, without a doubt, this month you have become a boy. Not a baby at all anymore. You are a full-fledged toddler who tests my limits daily. You like to push and push my buttons then give me the scrunchiest nose and show me your 8 teeth and your blue eyes sparkle and I forgive you for whatever it was you did that made me upset.
Your whole world is Dogs and Balls and Boobs and ME. And I’m okay with that. This life, these days that are all about boy things are new to me. I had no idea one little guy could own so many different versions of a ball or that you would be so interested in your penis and pulling it as hard as you can so young. Each day is completely new and different a lesson in patience.
You are obsessed with my iPhone. I wish I had never given it to you. I question for what reason I ever started to in the first place. The Yo Gabba Gabba station on Pandora is your crack. When you manage to find my phone lying on the floor near you, you pick it up and rock side-to-side indicating that you want me to turn it on. We have a few Fisher Price apps that you play with for about 1 minute then get mad b/c you can’t figure them out and throw my phone. I am amazed, beyond amazed, that your little finger knows how to swipe to create action on that thing. How is it even possible that you can slide the bar across to unlock that thing?!?!
Your little laugh is still my favorite sound. It’s high-pitched and squeaky and worthy of a million dollars. I’d give you that each time you laughed if I could.
Speaking of a Million Bucks, your college fund is growing each month. We’ve been fortunate to put $300/month in your fund and now have nearly $4,000. That should pay for approximately one book and one class at Harvard in 2030….hence why we work so hard (and so young) on your throwing. Of course, I’d much prefer an Academic scholarship, but I’ll take either just so Mama & Daddy can pay a hefty penalty to use your college fund to travel the world someday.
I’m learning so much. I spend a lot of time Googling “does my baby have A.D.D?” or “my toddler hits me” or “how many hours should my baby be sleeping” or “how to get toddler to eat vegetables” and the truth is….well, the truth is no website is going to give me any answers to these things b/c the next day you surprise me and concentrate like a monk, hug me all day, sleep perfectly and shove snap peas in your mouth. You are, like your mama, an anomaly. No two days are ever the same and you keep me on my toes and on point. My hearing has become like that of an elephant, I swear. I wake up each time you toss or roll or moan in your sleep each night. Sleep is something I’ve quickly learned is a part of my past life. Though you sleep for 10 hours a night and I sleep for 8 plus, I don’t think I ever enter a REM stage b/c each noise you make jerks me awake. Daddy, however, snores like a log and wouldn’t hear you unless you managed to crawl out your crib and poke him in the nose.
Reeve, life is getting more and more fun every day. It’s a constant aerobic exercise and I feel skinny from all the nursing and chasing you that I do (thanks for that). As you become the little person you are (a mini-personality that already so much resembles mine) I just thank God for giving you to me. I love you exactly as you are. Who you are.
My little man. More and more boy than baby with each day. Shoes and jackets have long replaced booties and blankies. I am just so especially grateful for your health, your smart little brain, your curiosity and eagerness to learn and absorb and explore. Days with you are filled with exploring in and under and around chairs and doors and drawers. Brand new jeans have worn knees (mine) from crawling after you and looking under things for the balls you’ve lost, the bottle you’ve thrown and the snack you’ve tossed to Hannah.
I have spent the last couple of weeks planning your birthday party. The invitations are sent out and we are less than a month to you being ONE! And now, as your Little Man Birthday Party plans are well underway I realize that I will no longer be counting the months after March, but now the years! How bittersweet.
These monthly letters to you were meant to give you a way to know that your Mommy wasn’t just here, but that I was listening. I was watching. I was absorbing ALL of you and every day with you. That I would completely memorized your face. The thought of not taking time out of every month to jot down your milestones, your tricks and your little personality terrifies me. The simple act of writing these letters to you has become my journal, your baby book and the most amazing way for me to process your personality and to react to my parenting decisions. As I near the day where I count months with less focus I find myself thinking back to days….
The day I found out you were in me, the day I learned you were a boy, the day we named you and the day we went into the hospital to have you…the day I brought you home in your one-piece cream sweater from the GAP.
This 10th month of your life has been so busy. So active. A glimpse into what life with a little boy is.. Fast and exhausting and sweet and ornery and dirt and stink and …. hugs and wet kisses and a heart that beats entirely for you.
Reeve Denver, being your mama is the best thing I’ve ever done. I say that all the time. I was meant for this job. Sure, there are times I fail and question my performance, but it is the most rewarding and most splendid chapter of my whole life. Wife and mother are two titles I feel that God saves for women who spend a lifetime reaching…and yearning for joy. For happiness. I’m complete.
I have your Daddy. I have you. I have everything I have ever wanted. By far the greatest moment of my life was the day you became mine.
To the moon and back….
Favorite things to do: Throw balls at Daddy, climb the stairs, learn new words, poke mommy in the nose, splashing the bath and DANCE!
Favorite things to eat: blueberries with greek yogurt, spinach dollops, pasta with sauce, eggs with spinach, toast & peanut butter, milk
Dislikes: Most vegetables, putting on his coat, being told “no”, other babies playing with his toys.
Funny Tricks: Clapping, finding Mommy’s eyes when you nurse, rubbing lotion on your hands, learning to walk
Scary items: Bubble Machine…and not a whole lot (which scares me)
Cute item: Superman book, monkey pajamas, brushing teeth
Hair color: Little boy hair. Some days it spikes up and then you are Naughty!
Eye color: Still bright blue!
Clothing size: 18 months
Diaper size: 4
Weight: 23 lbs
Height: 32″ (so big you often are mistaken for a 2-year-old)
Teeth: EIGHT chompers….I keep thinking another one is on the way, but then it’s not there.