Fifteen Months

You keep us going these days, Natalie. Fifteen months old and you grow by the minute.

The biggest news is, you are walking now! A week or two ago you really became a walker, as opposed to a crawler who occasionally walks. You always look pleased as punch when you’re toddling about, elbows bent and hands raised, ready to wave at passersby or catch yourself when you stumble.

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You are a ham and cheese sandwich these days. You’ve learned which things are silly and funny, and you’ll do them just to get a laugh out of us. Whether it’s pinching and holding the spoon between your teeth, or dropping things and uttering the cutest little “Uh Oh!”, you know what gets us to smile.

As with all toddlers who are independently mobile, you get into EVERYTHING! As I type this, you are pulling bowls out of the cabinet in the kitchen. We’re trying to teach you what is ok to touch and what are “don’t touch” items. We’ve got a pretty long road ahead of us on that one.

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You are smart as a whip. You have figured out the home button on our iPhones, and you’ve nearly uploaded photos (that you’ve taken) onto flickr! You’ve also mastered the signs to “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”, and you ask for them frequently.

Writing is your favorite thing to do. We’ll give you a pen or pencil and a piece of paper and you will scribble away. You’ve spent an entire church service writing on papers. Occasionally you’ll pause, hold out the page and study it with furrowed brow, as if to see what it’s missing.

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You are becoming much more communicative. We’ve been trying to allow you to make your own choices on some things, because you do have your opinions! From what to wear that day, to whether you watch Curious George, Busytown, or Babar during special TV time, to what you eat for snack, you’re not shy to tell us what you do and don’t want.

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We’ve also started introducing manners. First are “Please” and “Thank You”. You are very good at signing or saying them when prompted, but what has impressed me is how often you say them unprompted. You may turn into a little lady yet!

That being said, we’ve also entered Tantrum Territory. Like I mentioned before, you know what you want, and you don’t like hearing the word “no”.

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We’re starting to see your imagination at work when you play. You like to tuck in your dollies, feed your fish stick to your chipmunk stuffy, and you LOVE to pretend to talk on the phone. Funny thing is, when we actually call someone, you clam up!

Little things give me glimpses of the little girl you’re turning into. I’ll catch you flipping through a book while sprawled on your tummy on the floor. You’ll ask to put on a vest after several attempts to put in on by yourself. You’ll pick up a bag and carry it about as if it were a purse.

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One of my favorite things about you so far is your love for the cats. You love to toddle after them, pet them, and give them hugs and kisses. And I very rarely have to correct you on grabbing their fur.

Your love for hugs and kisses aren’t reserved to the kitties. Lately you’ve been snuggling up as I sing you to sleep, and I wish I could stay there all night, just like that. You’re no longer a baby, something I thought I’d mourn, but I’m enjoying watching you blossom.

Eleven Months

Oh my sweet sweet girl. I’m planning your one year birthday party…how did that happen? You are getting more and more beautiful as the days pass, and Daddy and I can’t believe how quickly you’re changing before our very eyes. We’ve been looking back at all the pictures we’ve taken in the past year and watch your chubby round face and limbs lengthen and develop. You’re less and less a baby and more and more a toddler.

No walking yet, but you have been standing on your own for half a minute at a time. Well, we have to wrestle our hands away from yours, you haven’t been to keen to try it on your own. But when you do stand, you are surprisingly steady on those little feet (which have a very hard time fitting in shoes with how high your arches are)!

You’re still obsessed with technology, and nothing beats the cheese face you make when you get a hold of Mommy or Daddy’s cell phone. Then you tilt your head up at us with that same cheese face to say ‘Thank You’.

You’ve started signing! First it was “Cat”…now everything you see is a cat. You’ve also signed ‘pet/gentle’, ‘more’ and ‘all done’. You’re pointing at everything, wanting to know and see everything.

 You love music, you love to dance along, and you’ll even sing. At story time you are always so enthralled during the songs. You also love the doll that they bring around to high five. You also loved Samantha when Daddy handed her to you during your invitation shoot. While you’re not quite old enough for Samantha, I think it is about time you got your own dolly. Good thing your birthday and Christmas are coming up!

I’m trying to start the weaning process, but you’ve been fighting it tooth and nail. Mommy is the trump card these days, and you want nothing to do with toys or other people when I’m around. You’ll even put your arms out to person after person until you’re passed back to me. Sneaky little monkey. But it does make things tough when I’m trying to get things done and you stand at the gate and cry for me. But you love your Daddy so much as well. When he comes home, you wave and say “Hi Da!” It makes him smile so big!!!

You’re just waking up from your nap, so I’ll close this. I can’t believe the next update I write will be when you turn a year old! I love you!!!

Ten Months

Oh my beautiful girl. I don’t know how, but we’re already at ten months together as a family. And each day is interesting.

You’ve sprouted eight teeth, and we have a feeling your one-year molars may make an early appearance. But it makes meal time fun! You’re already eating table food (in a sauceless, saltless form) and you are most definitely a carnivore. You love chicken and pork, and you enjoy broccoli, sweet potatoes, green beans, and carrots. Thanks to you, I’m making healthier meals.

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While you tend to jump from toy to toy with little interest, you are fascinated by books. You’ll sit in my lap and make me read Are You My Mother? or Is Your Mama a Llama? or your alphabet book over and over and over.

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You are into EVERYTHING! While you don’t make many attempts at walking (you will take steps with us holding your hands), you are constantly pulling yourself up, opening cabinets and doors, pulling clothes out of drawers, and dashing about on all fours. Typically you want to get at or into the stuff you shouldn’t have. We’ve been going to play groups, and I’ve got the downstairs set up for my daycare licensing visit, and you love being able to go nuts in those spaces.

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You are definitely pushing your boundaries. You’ll pitch little fits if we take the remote or phone out of your hands, and the biting is back. But unlike last time when you’d fuss when I’d sit you down and tell you “No Biting”, you now give me a sly smile, shake your head and dive right back in. I’m not sure what we’re going to do with you. We’ve also entered a clingy phase. You want nothing to do with playing unless you’re in mama’s lap, and while you’re still very social, you’ll lunge from person to person until you’re back in my arms. Tricky little bugger. This photo session was particularly difficult since you’d fuss and crawl into my lap every time I tried sitting you down.

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You’ve been fighting a cold for the past month or so, ever since the season’s changed. Runny nose, congestion, cough, it hasn’t been pretty. We’ve been doing our best to run the humidifier and air purifier at nights to try and help. But, knock on wood, no ear infections or medications needed yet.

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You are getting such a personality, I love it. Words I’d currently use to describe you are: spunky, mischievous, dramatic, inquisitive and loveable. You love animals, and strangely enough, you are drawn to chickens! You’ve been to a petting zoo a couple of times, and the chickens and turkeys always get you the most excited.

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You’ve got my nose crinkle, and when you smile, your whole face absolutely lights up. Particularly when Daddy or I walk into a room. We’ve had to have family watch you a lot lately since Daddy had to step into a role in my play, and I feel so guilty. But it heals my heart a little when I see you beam at me as soon as I walk in the door.

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New things we’ve learned: kisses, clapping, ‘Mama’ and ‘Dada’ (properly), how to pet the kitties gently, dancing (you do the cutest little bob up and down), and peek a boo.

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You love to point to things so that we tell you what they are, or take you over to them.

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Apparently technology is for the young. You are drawn to our cell phones, and constantly hang up when we’re talking to Daddy on speakerphone. Grandpa showed us an iPhone app that you absolutely adore. Chippy the Chipmunk will react or sing or even toot depending on where you press. He was the first one you made ‘kisses’ at.

It’s hard to believe you’re getting so big by the day. I see less and less baby in you and more toddler. Slow down sweetie! We’ll be celebrating an entire year pretty soon.

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Seven Months

You are growing by leaps and bounds these days.

You’ve become so interactive, and I love your personality. You’re such a happy girl, though the sweetness is currently replaced by a chew-crazy monster. EVERYTHING goes in your mouth, including mama…we’re trying to teach you that people aren’t for chewing. Nobody likes a biter.

You’ve been having a great time at Grammy’s day care, playing with all your friends. When I drop you off you’re ready to have fun, but you always greet me with the biggest smile at the end of the day. Thank you for making me feel so special.

Your new favorite thing to do is pull yourself up to standing. Sitting isn’t enough for you anymore. We’ll be playing on the floor, and you’ll reach for my hands (which, of course, I’ll give you) and up you go!

But pulling yourself up means you’ve had your share of tumbles too, something I’m learning just comes with the territory.

You are into everything you can get your hands on. You aren’t crawling yet, but you’ll get up on all fours and reach as far as possible with your tiny fingers.

I love to listen to you babble. You’ll test out your whole range, from sweet little “singing” to all out shrieks.

And you’re always so proud of yourself.

Eating is progressing as well. We’ve started giving you puffs that will dissolve in your mouth and you love them! At first you’d get pieces stuck in that awkward spot where you couldn’t swallow it, but it wouldn’t come back forward, but now you are chewing like a pro.

You are such a blessing my darling girl, and your dad and I are so happy to be your parents. It’s hard to think that a year ago you were a bloated belly and still “the peanut”. Our lives have changed so much.

Six Months

My darling Natalie,

I cannot tell you all the ways you’ve changed me in the last 6 months. And can I say how awesome it is that you turned 6 months old on Father’s Day? Seeing your Daddy become, well, a dad, has been one of the most incredible experiences as well.

This month was very strange for us. Your great grandma had a fall over Memorial Day weekend, and can’t live by herself anymore. So with two days notice, you and I packed up and headed to Maine for three weeks. You brought such joy to her, smiling and babbling and giggling as she walked about with her cane.

Thanks to that trip, we celebrated many firsts for you, sadly mostly without Daddy. We went on a picnic to a lighthouse, we went to the beach, and you met a lobster!

You have two teeth, bottom center, and you love to show them off. You jut your chin out a little when you grin and it melts me. I call it your bulldog grin. You also delight in licking and chewing everything, including people.

You sit up like a pro now! I’ve started leaving the car seat in the car when we go shopping and you sit in the carriage seat where you can see everything. You smile at everyone who passes by and dance and babble, and we can’t take two steps without someone proclaiming how beautiful you are. Yesterday we were mobbed by five women just stepping in the door to Wegmans!

Sweet potatoes and avocados are your favorite new foods. We tried applesauce, green beans, and homemade carrots to a less than enthusiastic response (you gagged, spit it all out and wiped your tongue with your bib…can you say drama queen? No? Well, we’ll work on it), but OMG!!!! Avocados and sweet potatoes are the AWESOME!!!!! Like, lick your tray awesome, you can’t get enough.

It won’t be long before you’re mobile. You’ve learned that you can go after things you want by lunging  and grabbing, which makes holding you difficult these days. You’re getting the lifting your chest up with your arms, and pushing with your legs to get your butt in the air, but not at the same time. You look like you’re doing cobra pose from yoga, and downward dog, only using your face instead of your arms.

Animals are cool. We’re working on petting, not grabbing. London’s less than pleased with you. One of these days he’ll learn not to dangle his tail where you can get it.

You’re such an inquisitive and and analytic little girl. You take in every new experience or sensation with a slightly furrowed brow, and you can almost see your brain examining and recording every sense.

Then the object goes in your mouth.

You’re starting to identify me as Mama. You’ll get excited when I come in a room, kinda sorta reach for me, and if someone else is holding you, you always keep an eye on me. What can I say? You know how to make a girl feel special.

I’m starting to miss the new baby phases, but I love the new stuff you’re coming out with! When they say that every phase is special they were right. You get more and more beautiful and spunky by the day, and when you “talk” I want to bottle your sweet voice and preserve it forever.

I love you baby girl with all my heart,

Your Mama

PS: This one was too sweet not to share…

Five Months

 

“If I could make these moments endless
If I could stop the winds of change
If we just keep our eyes wide open
Then everything would stay the same”

 

– Josh Groban “Awake”

I’m trying desperately to capture every moment of you growing, but with each day I forget how little you really used to be. Thank God I’ve been diligent with this monthly update, last night I sat and flipped through every photo I’d taken of you, and my mind couldn’t wrap around how much you’ve changed in these past 5 months.

It seems like every day you’re learning something new. Grandma gave me a calendar to mark all of your firsts, and this week alone I marked 3 things 3 days in a row. On Sunday you rolled back to front for the first time, on Monday you cut your first tooth (bottom center right with its brother not far behind), and on Tuesday you ate your first rice cereal (and LOVED it!).

You are a Daddy’s girl. If he is in the room you have eyes for no one else. I have never seen you give anyone the attention and constant smile that you give him. I think it makes him feel special, so keep it up.

You’re almost sitting up on your own now. We use your boppy for support, and you’ll sit for a minute sometimes before leaning too far one way and flopping.

You have this grin now that is a mixture of pure joy and mischief. Combine that with your new interest in EVERYTHING, and I have a feeling Daddy and I are going to have our hands full with you.

You are starting to know what you want, primarily with your toys, but also food. You’ll become fixated on something and lunge after it, trying to get your hot little hands on it. You’ll scoot (millimeters, but it’s something) after toys.You polish off your bowl of cereal, grabbing at the spoon, and are antsy for more.

Toes. You have discovered your toes. While I’m changing you or you’re playing on your mat, you’ll reach out and grab them. They’ve almost made it to your mouth a couple times, but you haven’t been able to taste them yet.

We made it through your first cold, and you are such a joy, even through that. You’d be playing away, paying no mind to the hunk of snot dripping from your nose. We used up almost all the grape Boogie Wipes that Aunt Stacey gave me at my shower.

You’ve discovered screeching, which you employ when you’re very excited. Also it starts off the few laughs that we can get out of you. I have to kiss you on your cheeks and zerbit your neck to get them, but I love to hear it.

The biggest news is that we opened our show! This weekend is our closing weekend for A Midsummer Night’s Dream and you have gotten nothing but rave reviews. You have been so good, we still have a little work to do on learning our backstage voice, but when you’re on stage you are all business.

Four Months

It’s been four months since you entered our lives.

I know, whaaaaat???

What’s even more special, it was a year ago that I took a test that told me I was pregnant. It’s absolutely incredible that a little plus sign on a stick would turn into, well, you! Back then we didn’t know if you would stick, if you would be a boy or a girl, what you would look like, who you would be.

You are everything we ever dreamed of and more, an absolute joy, with such an incredible personality that is emerging more day by day. You are constantly talking to us, telling us stories, giggling at our games of peekaboo, and having your own dance parties.

Oh your little feet. They slay me. You rub them together like hands, and your toes clench anything that comes near them, including our fingers.

And your fingers. You’re getting so intentional and exploratory with your hands, holding onto the play gym rings, reaching out and petting me on the arm while I’m  changing you, or grabbing my nose and lip during playtime.

You’re starting to learn that you can pull things to your mouth with your hands, including my fingers so you can nom on them. Yes, you’re starting to teethe.

You are so interested in everything and everyone that goes by. Whether it’s the people sitting behind us in church, our fellow actors on stage, or the book (or even restaurant menu) that I’m reading, you study them so intently. When we go to the grocery store, you’ll check out everything on the shelves, and you love when I talk us through the list.

Last night at rehearsal, you were fascinated by Josh, who plays Bottom, as he rehearsed his death scene for the play within a play. Each time he jumped up, not quite dead yet, it startled you, but you beamed. Then, when he finally ‘died’, you pouted and started to whimper.

You love hearing stories or singing songs. We read Winnie-the-Pooh (Daddy even read to you in his Irish accent to practice), Paddington Bear, and my lines for the play…hey, it kills two birds with one stone. But in all seriousness, I hope this early interest in reading continues to grow.

At bedtime I always sing Amazing Grace and A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes. Amazing Grace was your Great Grandpa’s favorite hymn, and I love that it calms you and gets you ready to rest.

You like to play games now. You finally get Peekaboo, and have even started your own version. When you’re almost finished eating, you’ll unlatch, look up at me with a smile on your face, and when I look back at you, you smile even bigger and dive back in to eat a little more. Then you’ll pull off and play again.

There are two things that Daddy and I see we passed on to you. When you smile, you’ll crinkle your nose like I do. And when you focus on something, you furrow your brow like Daddy does. Soon I’ll be using my thumb to smooth your forehead like I do to Daddy.

We have entered a rougher, uncertain time with you. You are now teething. We bought you a teething necklace made out of amber. Hopefully it will help you feel better, but it’s already helped with the drool rashes and the little pink cheeks you were getting. You also got Sophie the Giraffe in your Easter basket. She’s been your best friend through all this. Her nose and ears are perfect to bite and soothe your gums.

Most of the time you’ll still sleep through the night, but lately you’ll wake up around 4 or 5 in the morning to snack. Luckily you’ll go right back to sleep so that I can as well.

I love you my darling girl, more and more each day.

Love,

your lucky Mama

Three Months

Three months. One quarter of a year. And you’re still perfect.

OK, you’ll always be perfect to Daddy and me, but you really are such a good baby.

You’re always happy and excited, unless you’re hungry or tired. There’s a definite difference between your hungry cry and your tired cry, which makes it very easy for me to decipher.

You’re very social, making friends wherever we go. I wear you most of the time, and you love to face out and see the world go by, and charm every stranger within 10 feet. We get stopped by little old ladies in the grocery store all the time. Everyone just gushes how pretty you are.

Don’t let that go to your head.

The most remarkable thing is that you and I are in a play together! You’ll be making your stage debut as the changeling child in Midsummer Night’s Dream in May. You are so good at rehearsals, I’m bursting with pride every time we leave. Ed (our director) praises you for being off book already, hehe.

You adore your daddy. If he walks by your eyes are glued to him. He makes a clicking noise with his tongue that lights up your whole face. More than once you’ve been a bit cranky, and I’d hand you to him for a moment and you’d calm right down. Sometimes a girl just needs her daddy.

Your motor skills are coming along quite nicely. You love gripping the rings on your play gym, you’re able to hold the rattle briefly, and you’re discovering your feet.

You also have started giving kisses. I’ll put my cheek up to your mouth and you’ll tilt your chin forward and touch your lips to it. It melts my heart. You’re also a little chatterbox these days, working yourself up to an “ah-goo” or a “ma” or an excited squeal.

You LOVE music. We took you to see 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Stageloft, and you were transfixed through the whole thing! You didn’t fuss once, I was so proud!

And like I said earlier, you’re quite the charmer. You’ll sit on my hip, smile at someone so big that it wrinkles your nose, and bury your face into my shoulder.

You’ve found your fist and you think it’s the greatest thing since, well, I guess for you it’s the best thing yet. Overall you’ve gotten so strong, sitting in your Bumpo, sitting on my tummy just holding my hands, and sometimes wanting to stand! You love flying like an airplane, but I have to be careful, because you’ll drool on me when flying!

I looked at the past few months of mini photo shoots that I’ve done with you and I’m amazed how much you’ve already grown! Your eyes are still blue, but we’re starting to see a few hazel/light brown streaks. People will argue over who you look like, but the truth is, you’re a perfect mix of Daddy and me. You’re most certainly our daughter, and most importantly: you look like Natalie Rose!

Two Months

Two months.

Your personality is beginning to shine. You seem to be a morning baby…not really sure where you got that from. But my favorite time of day is picking you up out of your crib in the morning and seeing your darling smile. I’ll change you and by that point you’re gasping and cooing with excitement.

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Oh, and did you see that key word above? Your CRIB. You’ve been sleeping in your own room and love it. You sleep through the night, which makes morning all the better for us. That first night I thought I’d be a mess, but I slept like a rock and woke up to Daddy’s alarm. I heard your coos through the monitor shortly after.

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Daddy and I will do anything to get your beautiful smile to shine back at us.

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We’ll sing silly songs, nibble your toes, blow raspberries on your belly, Daddy even tickles your knees.

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But sometimes you just look at us and the corners of your mouth draw back into that toothless grin that makes us feel like the best people in the world.

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You don’t like tummy time very much, so we don’t do it as much as we should. But your neck is getting so strong anyways. You love sitting up on our laps, and you’ll stare at the red curtains in the living room window.

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Your eyes are taking everything in these days. You’ve discovered the flower and bug mobile that I made and hung above the crib. I’ll blow to make the white and pink blossoms sway and you’ll smile or stare inquisitively. It’s like I’m watching your mind bloom.

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You do get cranky at times, particularly in the evening. You cluster feed and you can’t seem to get enough some nights.

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Sometimes you’re so tired, but you just won’t sleep. I’ll bounce and rock and swaddle you, but you’ll keep fussing, occasionally nodding off for a moment. Then you’ll let out a belch, snuggle into my shoulder and your long lashes droop closed.

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We await your first giggle. You’re almost there, you’ll suck in your breath a couple times and smile. We like to say you laugh like Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory.

Only you’re way cuter.

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