1 year, 5 months

Dear Shobha,

This month it has been rather difficult to document with pictures.  See, you now know what the camera is and as soon as I take a picture you run over to see it.  I have to turn the camera around and show you the picture I took of you then convince you to get back to what you were doing so I can take another picture, then repeat the process all over again.  Nevertheless, I still managed to capture a few pictures of you being adorable.

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Now that you’ve really mastered walking, you’ve decided to start taking things vertical.  You love climbing the stairs, you love climbing on the dining room chairs, and just this week you managed to climb up onto the couch.  That last feat was one that I’d hoped would take you a little longer to perfect since I like to keep my laptop just out of your reach.  Not anymore.  Very little is out of your reach these days. 

We’ve spent a lot of time staying with Grandma and Grandpa this month.  In their family room, Grandpa built a step-ladder contraption for their three-legged kitty, Jasper.  We call it Jasper’s handicap ramp.  It’s so Jazzie can get up into the window to look out at the front yard, a simple pleasure that no kitty should be without. 

Turns out, Jasper’s handicap ramp is the perfect size for you to climb up.  Which you proceeded to do over, and over, and over, all day long.

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Your latest accomplishment has been starting to use a spoon and fork to feed yourself.  You haven’t quite mastered the technique yet, but you proudly work on it at almost every meal.  In fact, you’ve recently become stubborn about it.  A meal that you shake your head at and refuse to open your mouth for if I’m trying to feed you will suddenly become more appetizing once you’re holding the spoon. 

You are willing to take three times as long to eat any meal if you’re the one operating the spoon or fork.  So far, spoons seem to be your utensil of choice.  Forks are ok, but you don’t quite seem to have the hang of them just yet.  Practice, as they say, makes perfect. 

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It’s been interesting watching you learn as you play.  Where you used to just take things out – clothes out of the drawer, plastic containers out of the cupboard, etc. – you are now learning how to put things back in.  Not necessarily in the same order in which they came out, but we’ll work on that later. 

I also remember that at one of your check-ups with Developmental Pediatrics, they were impressed with your ability to stack one block on top of another block.  Boy oh boy, would they be impressed now. 

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This last month seems to have flown by.  I can’t believe you’re almost a year and a half old already.  It seems like just yesterday you were falling asleep in my arms.  Oh wait, that was just yesterday.  You may be growing up right before my eyes, but I still take such pleasure out of those moments where you’re still very much my little baby. 

Love,
Mama

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1 year, 4 months

Dear Shobha,

I’m not sure why it’s hitting me all of a sudden, but I’ve really been noticing this month that you’re turning from a baby into a little girl.  No longer are you lost in your own world of baby coos.  You’re still not talking much, but you definitely make your thoughts known loud and clear.  If you want something, you point and grunt at it.  If you don’t want something, you shake your head.  You can follow simple instructions like “sit down please” or “come here.”  Mind you, saying that you can follow instructions doesn’t always mean that you will. 

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Perhaps the most wonderful development is your ability to show us your love.  You put your little hand up to your mouth and pull it away while saying “mm-mah!”  The first time you blew me a kiss like that, I think my heart melted.  Since then, my heart has melted over and over so many times I should just be a big pile of goo. 

Since that first blown kiss, you’ve probably blown over a thousand kisses.  I’ll hear you in your carseat blowing yourself kisses in the mirror.  Sometimes when I say “I love you,” you’ll blow me a kiss.  Most often though, it’s just out of pure joy at the sound and the response it gets that you’ll offer up a kiss.

I think your ability to blow kisses is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.  And that’s saying a lot because you’ve done some pretty darn cute things.

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 In the last few months I’ve noticed an increased interest on your part in other children, especially those near you in age, so this month you started your first swim lessons.  Unfortunately, the lesson I signed you up for fell right during the time you’d prefer to be nursing yourself into naptime so you were a little less than thrilled to be having this new experience. 

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You very much disliked the flotation device I had to strap onto you and flat-out refused to do any of the water-slapping, leg-kicking, sing-along activities.  It wasn’t until the last few minutes of the lesson, when the instructor had us mommies take off the flotation devices, that you warmed up to the idea and relaxed into my arms in the water. 

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After the lesson, I mentioned to the instructor that there had been another lesson time in the YMCA’s brochure that I would’ve preferred for you, but when I went to sign-up online it seemed to be booked.  She informed me that she only had one child in that class so I went straight to the front desk to get you switched to the afternoon lessons.  Hopefully next week you’ll be well rested and more receptive to playing in the water. 

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This month you’ve really started playing like a little girl.  Whether it’s playing with your Learning Letters Laptop or climbing in your chair and “reading” yourself a book, you can entertain yourself for quite a while. 

Your favorite toys still are anything electronic – the phone, the remotes, Daddy’s cell phone.  A few times this month you called people quite on accident.  Once you even managed to turn on Grandma’s cell phone and call Aunt Joan in California. 

I even mentioned your love for cell phones to the sales rep at AT&T Wireless while I was upgrading my own cell phone and he was generous enough to donate to the cause.  He had three display models that were discontinued and destined for the trash that he offered to me to pass along to you. 

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Waiting through each agonizingly slow day while you were in the NICU, it seemed like it took forever for you to grow at all.  Now I feel like you’re so big already I’m wishing I could slow down time and not let you grow up so fast.  Next thing I know, you’re going to be asking me for the car keys.

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Let me just tell you “no” now.  You’re grounded until you’re 30.  Just for being so darn cute.

Love,
Mama

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1 year, 3 months

Dear Shobha,

This last month has been all about walking.  I can’t believe how quickly you went from a few steps to unstoppable.  You love being able to walk and despite the occasional misstep or balance issue, you get right back up without pause.  All I have to say is thank goodness you’ve got that extra padding from your diaper to cushion your fall.

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The majority of our attention this month went to a two-week-long business trip/family vacation to Hawaii.  On July 25th we set out for Honolulu.  It was a long, long flight from Chicago to Honolulu, almost 9 hours long to be exact, but you did great.  Daddy spent a lot of time wandering around the plane with you and the flight attendants were very accommodating and let you stretch your little legs by walking back and forth in the galley area.  Anytime you had to spent stuck in the seats with us was still a treat for you.  There was a family of five sitting next to us and you bonded instantly with the two girls in the family, Emma and Ellie. 

Once we got to Hawaii, it didn’t take you long to adjust.  There’s a six hour time difference between home and Honolulu but you were fully adjusted in a day or two.  We had just the day after arriving to settle in and explore a bit as a family, then Daddy had to go to work on Monday morning.  That first day we took you to Waikiki Beach to introduce you to the ocean.  You had enjoyed the pool so much when we visited Colorado, but you knew instantly that the ocean in Hawaii is entirely different.  It took us much longer to get you comfortable with the idea of even touching the constantly moving water, but once you had a little time to get comfortable with the idea you had fun. 

Sand, however, was not something you enjoyed the experience of.  After spending the last couple months getting comfortable with the idea of grass, you just did not have it in you to welcome this new experience for your tootsies.  It wasn’t until the second week of our trip that you finally took a few willing steps on the sand. 

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Everyday while Daddy was at work, you and I would wander around the Waikiki tourist shops.  And every single day I would be stopped numerous times to be told just how beautiful you are.  You even perfected your parade wave while we were walking all over Waikiki.  You used to just open and close your fist to wave at people, and even then you’d usually not wave until after the person you were waving at was out of sight.  But in Waikiki you had so many people waving hello to you that you finally were able to figure out how to wave your hand side to side to say hello.  Once you figured it out, you were so impressed with yourself that you’d just keep waving for block after block.  You are definitely a princess in training.

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As much fun as we had together during the day, evenings were even better.  Every night after Daddy was done withwork, we’d head out as a family to catch the last bit of sun on the beach, explore some shops together and get dinner.  And every night after dinner you would insist on walking behind your stroller, pushing it yourself.  Daddy and I got plenty of strange looks when people would see us walking on either side of this big stroller, each witha hand just barely touching the handle to guide it.  But then those same people giving us strange looks would pass by us and would see you, all 18 pounds of you, pushing this great big stroller with all your might and they’d ooh and ahh and say how adorable you are and you’d look up at them and just give them your biggest smile.

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As easy as it was to adjust to Hawaiian time, it was three times as hard for all of us to adjust back to New York time.  We left Honolulu at 4:30 in the afternoon on August 6th, arriving home the following morning at 9:30 local time.  You were able to sleep a little bit on both flights, but each time you only were able to get a couple hours of sleep in before we’d have to wake you up to get off the plane.  Once we were home, you and I spent a good portion of that first day home napping in bed together.  It wasn’t until four or five days after we got home that you were finally back to your regular 8:30 bedtime.  You were definitely happy to be home though.  As soon as you saw all your toys, your face light up and you went from one toy to the next, playing with each like it was brand new. 

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This month has truly been a blessing.  Watching you interact with new people and new places has been a delight.  And even though it’s tiring chasing after you as you toddle from room to room, your father and I love to see your absolute joy and pride in yourself.  You are turning into such a wonderful little girl.  I am just so thankful that you’re our little girl.

Love,
Mama

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1 year 2 months

Dear Shobha,

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly you grow and change.  Just last month you were rarely standing on your own for more than a few seconds at a time.  This month?  You not only stand, you’ve been walking here, there and everywhere. 

It started with you letting go of the couch and taking one lunging step towards a toy.  Then one night you took a couple steps.  Then you took an excited step-step-lunge from your father’s arms into mine.  That brought such joy to all of us that you kept at it. 

For a week or two you’d only take steps into your father’s or my waiting arms.  Because you would take that step-step-lunge into our soft and comfortable arms, I think you were a bit reluctant to try taking steps to a toy that wouldn’t catch you. 

Soon enough though you started taking those first slow, hesitant steps.  After practically no time at all you were walking across the room just because you could.  Then you wanted to walk to the next room.  And so on.  There’s no stopping you now.

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You’ve been so busy learning to walk that you haven’t spent much time working on talking.  In fact, you seem to be talking even less and just spent most of your days grunting and pointing your little finger at what you want.  The only thing you’ve added to your vocabulary this month is actually half spoken and half hand signals. 

It all started when you’d find yourself finished with your meal and, with both hands full of whatever it was you no longer wanted to eat, you would fling your hands to the side.  At this prompt, I would say “All done?” and try to miraculously catch flying food from the air.  It quickly became clear to me that you were, indeed, all done.

After this became a routine at mealtimes, you slowly started combining your food tossing with sound.  “Ah-duh,” you’d say.  Now you associate both the hand movements and the “ah-duh” sound with being done with something.  I’ve found in the last week or so, now that you’re really walking a lot, you rarely open your mouth to say “ah-duh.”  Instead, I just get a “uh-guh” sounding grunt from your throat combined with the hand movements and I know that whatever you’re doing, you’re all done.

This month, summer has really settled in around here.  It hasn’t been as warm as it has been in years past, but it has been a remarkably comfortable and green summer.  If you ask me, it’s been a perfect summer so far.  Not too hot, not too dry, not too humid, and a fair handful of thunderstorms. 

Because of the nice weather, we’ve spent plenty of time with the windows open, the air conditioning off, and we’ve gone outside to play.  At first you didn’t know what to make of the grass.  You hardly wanted to touch it nevermind actually sitting on it.  But after a little while you became more comfortable with nature and now you really enjoy your time outside.  You may never remember it, but I hope to never forget the afternoon that you, your father and I spent on a blanket in the back yard.  You picked leaves and flower petals out of the grass and handed them to Dada and Mama while saying, over and over, “ah-duh.”

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At the end of June we packed our bags, woke you up before the crack of dawn, and boarded a plane to visit our family in Colorado.  I was a little nervous about how you were going to be on the plane but you did surprisingly well.  You were calm, quiet, and nursed a lot to relieve the pressure on your ears. 

Unfortunately, it turned out that on the trip out there you weren’t feeling well.  We discovered about an hour after landing in Denver that you had a fever.  Thank goodness it was nothing serious.  A quick stop at a pharmacy for some infant Motrin had you quickly on the mend. 

It’s a good thing, too, because once you were feeling better you didn’t want to miss a thing.  You loved spending time with your chechis, Michaela and Shea.  You loved pointing at Karma, Tim-achayan and E-kochamma’s German Shepherd, and saying “kih-gee.”  And you definitely loved your newest summer experience: swimming.

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While we were in Colorado, we had several causes for celebration.  For one, your chechi Shea celebrated her third birthday.  For another, Ammachi and Appacha celebrated 40 years of marriage.  And then there was the added bonus of so much family coming together from all over.  Not only did we travel to Colorado, but Grandma and Grandpa came out from Rochester, Susan-amamma, Joy-achayan, Kevin-achachen and Suzie-chechi stopped in for a brief rest on their way to take Kevin to San Marcos (Suzie-chechi got to stay in Colorado for the rest of the week with us and spent lots of time adoring you), Aunt Joan and Uncle Bob flew up from San Diego, and as a surprise, Mama’s cousin, Chris, flew up from San Diego as well with his 4 year old son, Shepherd.  We even took a day trip to Boulder to visit another of Mama’s cousins, Michael. 

Aside from all the family celebrations, our last day in Colorado also happened to be a day of celebration for the entire country.  We started off our fourth of July with a walk into town, followed by a pancake breakfast and possibly the longest small town parade known to mankind.  I kid you not, this parade went on, and on, and on.  I was starting to suspect that they were circling around the back side of town, changing costumes and marching down Main Street again and again. 

Despite the fits of joy brought upon your chechis by all the candy thrown to the kids along the street side during the parade, you wanted nothing to do with all the noise and hoopla.  Shortly after the first set of firetrucks went by blaring their horns, your loving father wandered away from the parade route so you could take a nap on his shoulder.

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All in all, our first family vacation was a rousing success.  You did amazingly well on all the flights, adjusted quickly to the two hour time difference, and took all the new sights, sounds, and stimuli in without much fuss at all.  Which is really great news because in just another week and a half we’re going to really test your travel capabilities with a trip to Hawaii.  Your father has work to do there and, since you fly free until you’re two years old, it was too good an opportunity to pass up. 

Whether we’re traveling the world or just exploring our own backyard, everyday has been an adventure with you.

Love,
Mama

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1 year 1 month

Dear Shobha,

The day after my last letter to you, we had your first birthday party. Friends and relatives came from far and wide to help celebrate your special day. We had a cookout, we had games, we had presents galore. You were your typical cute little self, but were so interested in everything that was going on that you refused to go down for a nap. Right up until it was time to open presents and have cake. Then all you wanted was sleep.

Nevertheless, you were a sport and sat obediently for your first taste of chocolate. We baked cupcakes so you could have a special little cake of your own. What did you do? You sat and stared at it, wondering if it would mind if you just dozed off first.  Eventually you got into it though and dug your hands right into your cupcake. I can’t say that you were terribly impressed, but you seemed to like it. Or at least you liked the texture of it.

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While we’re on the subject of food, I must tell you: you’re a great eater.  I hope I didn’t just jinx myself by saying that, but you really do love eating regular food.  Anything we’ve given you, you’ve accepted without question.  Aspargus?  Sure.  Crabmeat?  Why not?  Your favorites right now seem to be shrimp, ice cream and blueberries.  I swear, I could feed you blueberries until you turned blue!  I have to be careful not to give you too many because you’ll keep eating them as long as I keep handing them to you.  And let’s just say that it’s made for some, um… interesting diapers.  The first time I gave you ice cream it was like a whole new world opened up to you.  You made a face at first because of the unfamiliar temperature of this new food, but as soon as you swallowed you were opening your mouth and begging for more.  I have definitely awoken a monster within you. 

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This month has brought you a few additions that will help you find more favorite foods.  Your top two front teeth have broken through in the last couple weeks, and I believe you’re working on your one year molars.  As with the bottom teeth, you haven’t been especially cranky, but you have been a little bit less than happy about cutting new teeth.  I wish I could take the pain and aggravation away for you, but for the most part you’re really doing remarkably well.  Now if I could just get you to stop grinding your top and bottom teeth against each other. 

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A few milestones from this month all have to do with your abilities on two feet.  You’re becoming more and more comfortable with those two feet of yours, that’s for sure.  You still don’t seem to believe that you can stand on your own, but you definitely can.  If I’m holding you up and am able to let go before you notice, you’ll stand for several seconds before realizing you’re on your own and slowly lower yourself to the floor.  Or occasionally you’ll be standing against the couch and will pull the remote control or some other beloved piece of technology off and will be so wrapped up in all the lovely buttons that you don’t notice you’re standing freely. 

Despite the fact that you aren’t yet quite certain of your ability to stand, you’re determined to learn to walk sooner rather than later.  All you want to do lately is walk, walk, walk.  First I was breaking my back carrying you around.  Now I’m breaking my back being hunched over holding your hands as you walk from the living room to the dining room to the kitchen, round and round we go!   You used to be nervous about going to new people, but if they’re willing you’ll recruit anyone and everyone to help you walk around. 

Walking with your chechi, Suzanne

Walking with your chechi, Suzanne

Something you’ve just discovered this past month is dancing.  Whether it be to the music your toys make, the commercials on TV, or even just the steady beat of the washer and dryer, you’ve definitely found joy in dance.  I’m trying to expose you to all sorts of music now – from latin and Mexican music to big band and swing.  Anything at all to keep from having toddler tunes on constant repeat.  If I get stuck with “Hickory Dickory Dock” stuck in my head one more time this month I might just bang my head against the proverbial clock.

This month you increased your vocabulary by 50%!  Not only do you say “Mama” and “Dada” and know that those words refer to your father and me, but now you also say “kitty.”  It’s not a surprise to me really, because every time the kitties were within sight I was saying “kitty” over and over to you.  But now you say it on your own, and I think it’s become your new favorite word.  It’s not a clear “kitty,” more of “kih-gee,” but there’s no mistaking that you’re referring to one of the kitties when you say it.  Before I know it, you’ll be walking and talking!

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Once again, I’m amazed at how much you can change and learn in just one short month.  I can’t wait to see what the next month will bring.

Love,
Mama

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1 Year

Dear Shobha,

It’s so hard for me to believe that an entire year has already passed. My itty bitty little baby is already a year old. How did that happen?! Just the last month has been remarkable. You change so much each month that it’s hard to keep up. My little girl is growing up so fast!

The biggest event of this past month has been that on April 15th your Ammachi and Appacha arrived from India to stay with us for a month before returning home to Colorado. The first day or two you were still very unsure, but after a few sessions of playing on the floor you took right to your Ammachi and Appacha.

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This month has been so rewarding for me. You’ve really begun to associate “Mama” and “Dada” with me and your father. You call out in the morning or if you don’t want to be napping. You call out in your car seat or your high chair. My heart could just burst with joy every time you call me Mama.

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Perhaps the most vital to the entire family has been something so simple as sleep. This month, at the recommendation of a friend of mine, I picked up the book “Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems” by Richard Ferber, M.D. What a life saver! We followed the suggestions in the book and it worked like a charm. The first night was the hardest. Normally, I’d nurse you until you fell asleep then put you down but the book said to put you down tired but awake. Immediately you started crying, the crying turned to screaming, and oh my golly did I have a hard time. That first night we were to let you cry for three minutes, then go in and check on you, soothe you but not pick you up, and leave after a minute or so. The next check was after an additional five minutes. You never made it to the third check time. The second night was a similar beginning, but you only needed to be soothed once. The third night, you never made it to the first check time. Since then you’ve gone from crying as soon as we put you down to now just settling in and going to sleep without so much as a peep. If only I could get your naps to go as smoothly. Perhaps that’s a task for next month.

This month you have really been so active. You seem less and less like a baby to me and more and more like a little girl. You’re still not standing on your own, but a couple times I’ve let go while you weren’t paying attention and you were able to stand alone for a couple seconds until you realized no one was holding you up and would slowly crouch down to sit. Because you’re not standing yet, and likewise not walking yet, you’re still spending quite a lot of time only a couple inches from the floor as you crawl all over the place. It’s remarkable to me both the variety and quantity of particles and hairs you are able to find on the floor, which you then immediately stuff into your mouth.

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Because you were born premature and spent your first few weeks in the NICU, we have had a couple follow-up appointments with Developmental Pediatrics. There, they would ask your father and I questions about your accomplishments and your motor skills and they would use toys to evaluate your development. I’m proud to say that at your final appointment last week, you were given an A+ evaluation. At the time of the visit, your corrected age (the age you would’ve been had you been born on your due date) was 42 weeks. In most areas you were testing at the 48 week level and a few areas you were testing beyond the 52 week level. You truly are remarkable.

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A year ago today I went from having a high risk pregnancy with uncontrollable pre-eclampsia to being a mother. A year ago today you entered the world at 8:04 pm, weighing in at a mere 2 pounds 9 ounces. A year ago today my life changed in more ways than I could’ve ever understood or predicted.

Love,
Mama

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Month 11

Dear Shobha,

Today you are eleven months old.  I thought last month was tiring.  I don’t know if there’s a word to describe this month.  Exhausted, perhaps?  No, I don’t think exhausted even covers it.  Whatever it is that comes after exhausted, that’s where I am this month.

I gotta tell you kiddo, you may have been two months early, but there is no holding you back now.  Every day you push yourself to do more, explore more, climb on more.  Every day you amaze me with your energy level.  You are constantly checking things out and always looking for something new to check out.  Most of my days are spent chasing after you, blocking you from getting at the cable box or the computer and keeping you from putting things like tissues or my slippers in your mouth.

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One thing I haven’t mentioned in previous months that bares mentioning this month is the changing table.  Once upon a time, you loved your changing table.  There you had Mommy or Daddy right at the perfect distance.  You’d coo at us and smile and laughed every time it was time for a new diaper.  In fact, the changing table is where we got our first smiles from you and our first laughs from you.  Alas, the shining moment in history for our dear changing table is just that: history.  Now you do everything in your power to make diaper changes a true test of skill and patience.  You instantly try rolling over, reaching for the lamp, arching your back, and generally making every attempt to put an immediate end to the diaper changing process.  Trust me when I tell you that I’d love nothing more than to never have to change another poopie diaper.  But since you have not yet been introduced to the potty (nevermind mastering the technique) diaper changes are still going to be a daily, several times a day, occurence.  And I will sleep well knowing that should I ever need to stuff an octopus into a straight jacket, I think I could manage with the skills I’ve obtained wrestling you into a clean diaper every few hours each day. 

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Last month I spoke too soon on two accounts.  One, I said you were back to sleeping through the night for the most part.  And two, I said that I hoped the rest of your teeth came in easily for you.  This month has been a struggle in both regards. 

For many, many months your father and I were so happy to report that you were so good at sleeping through the night.  We went on in bliss not ever really realizing that our happy full nights of sleep would suddenly be a thing of the past.  Lately, you’ve been struggling to sleep more than 5 or 6 hours consecutively.  You’ve been staying up later at night and still waking up in the early pre-dawn hours.  As soon as either your father or I take you out of your crib, you almost always snuggle up and put your head on our shoulder and fall back asleep.  But if we try to put you back down, like landing gear on a plane your arms and legs drop down so you land propped up already, rock back to sitting and look up at us and start to cry.  As such, your father has mastered the fine art of sleeping on the couch with you on his chest. 

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On what I am to assume is not an entirely unrelated note, this month has also brought you another tooth.  Your first tooth broke through just before you turned 10 months old.  Since then, that tooth has shot right up and its neighbor decided to join the party.  Unfortunately, said neighbor tooth brought with him a bout of restlessness, crankiness, fever and general misery.  Just be grateful that teething is one of those things that nature has decided you don’t need to remember. 

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The last few months you’ve been talking more and more.  You haven’t said any identifiable words yet, but your favorite phrase seems to be ma-ma-ma-ma-ma.  I’m still not certain if you have associated that with me, but I respond to every ma-ma-ma-ma-ma like you’re calling my name.  You definitely know to look for me when Daddy asks you where Mommy is.  I’m looking forward to the day you look right at me and say Mama.  Until then, I’m happy with whatever you want to call me.

Love,
Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma

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