March 7 - April 7, 2012Dear Carys,
Carys, you, my joyful little daredevil. Living with you is like living with a tiny acrobat, mountaineer, and escape artist all in one. I think you are brilliant, of course, and beautiful. Strong and adventurous and everything good in the world. You are a go-getter, nature-lover, and explorer. You love being outside. This is not new this month, but you hate to be strapped or held down, whether that's getting into a car seat, a stroller, the high chair, or just grabbed for a big bear hug. You want down. You want out. You want to go! Also not new, but worth noting: you hate to be covered up. It could be freezing and you could be wearing just a diaper, but if you're awake, you'll kick the covers off and pull them off so your legs and arms are free. This also explains why nursing with a cover doesn't work for us: you.
March was unseasonably warm (as was January...and February) so we spent a lot of time outside, taking walks, going on bike rides, and just exploring. You will make a beeline to the deck doors if they are open to try to get outside.
One thing you do the I've been meaning to document - and you've done it for a while, months maybe - is to pat my back when I pick you up, just like I pat your back. "It's okay, mama, I love you," I imagine you saying (as I say to you).
The milestones seem smaller, now, or maybe it's just that there are so many of them so constantly. When you were a newborn, it was big when you discovered that you had feet - constant companions and playthings! Every little thing was an entry in the baby book. Now it seems to take something big to garner the same level of excitement, because every minute is something new. Oh, look! You learned how to put things in a container. Oh, look! You wave at appropriate times. Oh, look! You recognize what a drawer is and will open any in sight. Oh, look! You can crawl over the rungs of a chair. Oh, look! You can go down stairs. You do so much now, it's easier to think of what you don't do. Somethings I don't know when you started: it was gradual or maybe just a small change. Like gripping me with your knees when I carry you on my hip. Like looking at your dad when we say "dada." Waving at the right moments. Crawling with something in your hand. Now it's big things that get entries, like "Real crawling!"
You still love me, your mama, and want me around as much as possible...on your terms. If I leave you, you cry. But if you leave me? It's fine. Often I'll be putting away laundry with you playing at my feet only to look down a minute later and you're gone and I'll have to go on a baby hunt to find you (you're QUICK!). You're down the hall and into the kitchen or bathroom or other bedroom in seconds (usually, of course, headed right to the electrical outlets...thank god for baby proofing!). You also like heading for the stairs, where you try to go down them. You like heading for the sliding doors, where you try to go out them. You like heading for the cabinets, where you try to open them. You love crawling up the stairs at your aunt Kimber's new apartment - a trick I didn't even know you had in your repertoire and so was shocked to see you take off up the stairs!
We love picnics and playdates, especially with our baby friends Charley and Leah. I'm so excited to see you all grow together, our three little girls. You don't have any cousins your own age, so I think it's important to have you around other kids all the time.
At nine months, about the only store-bought toy that can hold your attention for longer than a few minutes is your B. Zany activity cube, which was about the best purchase of my life since you've loved it since you were three months old and would play with it in my lap.
What other things entertain you? The dog. Dog food. Dog water. Cabinets. Drawers. Computers. DVD shelves. Cat food at Nana and Grandpa's. Water glasses (your favorite game: putting your hand in a glass of freezing cold water and splashing around until it turns red and then switching hands while the cold one warms up, and then switching again and again and again). Spoons. The dishwasher. Cords. Electrical outlets (replaced with baby-safe ones just in time). My camera. An unopened package of paper towels. Toilet paper. Stairs. Oh, and books. You are a girl after my own heart, Carys. You love books. Yes, you love pulling them off the shelf and making a mess, but you love reading them. You'll sit and flip through board books on your own for twenty or thirty minutes at a time. You'll sit in my lap and listen to me read as you turn the pages. You love all of them, but right now your favorites are the Flaptastic books, the Usborne Touchy Feely books, and Dear Zoo (you love the lion page). I could keep going and list 100 that you love. Your books. My books. Dad's books. Magazines. Menus. Greeting cards. If it has anything resembling pages, you'll turn them and look at the contents.
Your love of books delights both me and your nana (my mom). Your uncle Jared and I spent a long weekend up in Dubuque with her a couple weeks ago (and aunt Kimber and your grandpa came up a day later) and we took to you to the aquarium and museum and you just loved every minute of it. Kimber got you a stuffed Ovaraptor that is completely adorable and I hope it becomes your favorite toy, because how funny would it be to see a toddler carrying around a stuffed dinosaur?
Your aunt Kimberly and I went to a restaurant the other day and the couple behind us spent an hour playing with you over their food. At dinner another time, the waitress came by our table every few minutes to tickle you. You LOVE other children, especially older kids. At the play area at Westroads, you'll crawl as fast as you can over to them, but they won't notice you and will change direction and leave, so you sit up, assess the situation, and crawl to where they now area...but of course, they leave again (they usually don't even notice you trying to get to them). It's both hilarious and a little heart-wrenching. I'm sure every mother thinks this about their child, so in reality you probably aren't a special unique flower in this regard, but in my mind? You totally are.
You love to babble in this hilarious high-pitched falsetto voice. You're starting to get a lean toddler body. Although you've always been in a high percentile for weight, you really never got a lot of chubby baby rolls or cheeks (other than those delicious chunky thighs!), and you're starting to get even taller and lose that baby belly. You have such strong legs. Your hair is a sandy golden blonde-red-brown that curls while you sleep. Your eyes are still the dark blue you were born with, but I still think they'll turn brown (though most changes occur by nine months, they can turn even at two or three years old). It's a weird waiting game - I'm so used to these big blue eyes that if they do finally change, it will be like a whole new baby has come to live with us!
You are now the proud owner of TWO teeth, which cause you a lot of heartbreaking pain. Listening to you wake up in the middle of the night whimpering in pain, when there was nothing around to distract you, tests my resolve and patience (there is lots of cussing at the fact that you have to go through this). The teeth have wrecked havoc on your nighttime sleep, unfortunately.
Thanks to those wonderful teeth, you often wake up once or twice around 1 and/or 3 in the morning, but it's thankfully usually just for mere minutes before you fall asleep again. The pediatrician explained that nursing releases serotonin (I think was the hormone?), which has a calming, relaxing, and pain-lessing effect, so it is exactly what you need during those night wake-ups to get through this teething stage, and to not worry about the wakings because you'll most likely start sleeping all night again soon.
These letters are so hard to write because time flies so quickly and yet goes so slowly at the same time. I want to write about everything and nothing. Big things and little things, important things and mundane things. I just don't want to forget any of it, and I know that I'm missing things and forgetting things and have left them out. I take pictures and take video and jot down notes, but I know that each second that passes is one that I'll never be able to relive exactly as it happened, so I try hard to cherish each moment and enjoy YOU. Just you. My silly, adorable, love bug, brilliant, daring Carys.