As Mubby pointed out, it’s your (sort of, not really) golden birthday. If you didn’t know, your golden birthday is the birthday where you turn the number of years that is the day of the month on which you were born, e.g., your actual one will be when you turn seven.
Right this moment, you’re not acting very golden. I can hear your dad singing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” to you from the other room; he’s trying to get you back to sleep. Your afternoon nap, which typically lasts at least an hour, was fifteen minutes today. Sadly, that’s consistent with your recent habits. This month has been a frustrating one in terms of sleep. We tried doing the whole sleep training thing. We tried letting you cry (I don’t want to talk about it; it was horrific). We tried doing the thing where we put you down still awake and picked you up when you fussed. We tried the technique of moving the chair a little farther away from your crib every night, except we never got past the position of directly next to the crib, since we couldn’t graduate beyond step 1 (apparently a soothing hand on your back is not an acceptable alternative to being trotted up and down the hallway).
We also had the bad luck to be in the middle of sleep training when two unusual events occurred: we spent a week at Mubby and Skittergramps’s house, and you got your first cold. Obviously the former is a lot better than the latter, but the combination of them, as well as subjecting you to the indignity of sleeping in a Pack-n-Play, pretty well thwarted our attempts. For the time being, we’re back to the trot.
The cold was pretty miserable for both of us. Your dad went back to Iowa City to work that week, which left me to be up pretty much all night with you. It was so sad—you’d fall asleep after much cajoling, then after an hour you’d cough yourself awake. You couldn’t nurse very well due to your plugged-up nose, and we were both exhausted. Luckily for me, Mubby and Skittergramps were very generous in spending time with you during the day so I could nap. Still, you weren’t your usual jolly self for the first part of the visit, which is too bad, since Uncle Tyler and Great-Aunt Suzy were there for the first few days and would have really enjoyed seeing your true personality.
But enough of the bad news. You’re feeling much better now, and you’re doing all kinds of hilarious things these days. You can roll like a little hedgehog. On one of our last nights in Ames, you traveled a good twenty feet by doing consecutive rolls. You’ve also gotten very good at Upsy Daisy, in which your dad holds your hands and you tense your little abdominal muscles to help pull yourself to a standing position. Part II of that game is TIMBER, in which your dad lets you tip onto a pillow like a felled tree.
You’re growing very advanced at eating solid foods. You’ve now had:
- rice cereal (meh)
- bananas (yum)
- peas (acceptable)
- green beans (surprisingly palatable)
- applesauce (pretty good)
- avocado (tasty but a bear to clean off your hands and face)
- peaches (sour at first but good once you get used to them)
- squash (fantastic)
- Teddy Poofs—a kind of hippie organic cereal that we break into tiny bites for you (good for keeping you busy in restaurants), and
- a few little nibbles of peeled grape (sample size too small to accurately gauge response).
You spent some fun time with Grandma Cheryl and Grandpa Denny out at their farm. I was hoping to introduce you to some cows, but apparently they were off in some other place (the north field?), so you had to be content with meeting Uncle Michael’s gigantic dog. And by “meeting” I mean “being held tightly to your mother’s torso and shielded at every turn from that beast, because even though by all accounts he’s very gentle, he still outweighs both your parents and slobbers more than a seven-month-old.”
Luckily, we spent most of the time inside, where Grandma Cheryl and Grandpa Denny snuggled you and gave you more books, toys, and outfits. You’ve really been responding to books lately. You’ll sit on our laps and listen to books (as long as I don’t use too many scary voices—sorry about that) without getting too antsy. That, along with your apparent recognition of the phrase Upsy Daisy, leads me to believe that you’re developing rudimentary language skills. We also discovered, in a fit of desperation on one of those nights when you would just not calm down that you enjoy Christmas carols. I can now sing The Twelve Days of Christmas perfectly without peeking at the lyrics. Here’s a hint: twelve drummers drumming, ‘leven lords a-leaping, ten pipers piping, nine ladies dancing, and it’s easy from there on. I’ve been trying to teach you mama, which you find hilarious. Rather than actually study my mouth movements or make any noises, you just grin at me when I clearly enunciate the word.
It seems like you have an opinion about everything these days. The word mama is funny, naps are boring, strangers are scary, the stroller is for suckers and the Baby Björn is much preferable, the baby in the mirror is fascinating, parental fingers are fun to chew, and nudity rules. The only thing you really seem to feel neutral about is water. Every time you take a bath (which is more often these days, due to the increasing amounts of green beans in your hair), I try to show you how to splash and play, but you just lie there tranquilly. You never get upset, but you don’t really par-tay in the tub, either. Mubby got you a wading pool and positioned it for an ideal sun:shade ratio, and we were so excited to put you in it.
You thought it was fine.
At one point you even slipped and dunked your head in the water, and you barely responded. You didn’t laugh, you didn’t cry; you just blinked the water out of your eyes and continued on with your life.
You’re getting so strong, too. You can sit up so well (pretty much without support), and you’re really, really close to crawling. The other day you were trying to get to your Winnie the Pooh bag, and you did a kind of quarter-roll move, alternating directions, until you got to it. Actually, for the sake of full disclosure, I scootched it closer to you because I didn’t want you to get frustrated and give up on crawling. You did legitimately move a few inches, though.
You don’t have any teeth yet that have cut through your gums, but I think you’re getting close, because you chew on anything you can find. Recent examples include the clean diaper I was about to put on you (could have been worse, though it did elicit me to say “We do not eat diapers,” which goes on the list of things I never expected to come out of my mouth) and the disgusting safety strap on the child seat in a shopping cart. In all likelihood, it was shenanigans like that that gave you the cold. The good news is that once you’ve gotten over a virus, you’ll be immune to it. Getting a cold now and then is a crucial part of building your little immune system. The bad news is that there are like fourteen million strains of the cold virus. I would appreciate it if you could hold off on sampling those for at least another couple of weeks. We can start by keeping our mouths off filthy shopping cart parts. I propose this deal: you keep your chewing to our fingers, and we’ll do our best to partake in frequent handwashing.
This last trip to central Iowa was the longest you’d ever been away. I was kind of afraid you’d forget about our home. I didn’t worry about that on previous trips, because up until recently, you were pretty oblivious to your surroundings. As long as you had arms to cuddle you and a couple of convenient milk sources, you were good. But you’re much more picky these days. You don’t like to be held by people you don’t know well (although I overheard your Grandpa Denny adorably bragging about the fact that you warmed up to him in two tries, while it took Grandma Cheryl three), and you’re generally becoming pickier about your daily goings-on. This is a good sign, I think: it shows that you’re gaining some perspective and interest in your environment. Still, I was afraid you’d get all adjusted to life on the road and wouldn’t like it back home.
I needn’t have worried. The ride home was a little rough—we had to make an emergency stop in Williamsburg to soothe your cries and find some shorts for your dad. But when we got home, it was like we’d arrived at Disneyland. I walked you through all the rooms of the house, showing you your play gym with Fran the dangly octopus, the baby in the bedroom mirror, and your animal art. Each time we entered a new room, you looked around, your eyes wide, a huge smile on your face. That recognition in your expression seemed to say, “Oh, I’m so glad to be home.”
It wouldn’t be home without you.
P.S. Your dad tells me you said Obama today. Nice work. At the very least, he swears it was multi-syllabic. If you can say Obama, you can’t be far from mama.