Thursday, August 28, 2008

Newsletter: Month 11

Dear JB,

Today you are 11 months old.

We are astounded. We cannot believe that there are only 4 more weeks until we are expected to pull together a clever, special, over-the top-exciting-yet-understated FIRST birthday party for you!!! Like most of the events of your life so far, we feel un-prepared. But we feel so excited for this milestone and of course, we feel impressed that you seem to be thriving.

Your mommies are in the middle of watching the Democratic National Convention where Barack Obama is about to accept the nomination for president of the United States. At this point, we have no idea if this is a name and a night that will go down in history, or if it will only end up being a historical footnote or the answer to an obscure trivia question. The election is not until November, but there have been more than a few times this week when I have stopped to reflect. I've wept some tears of pride and amazement, and cautious excitement. My feelings about this election are very closely related to you and what this means for you... You will never know how extraordinary it is that this man should be in line to be elected president. Because of what is happening tonight, sweet boy, you will never completely understand why this is even touching. It will be passe to you and your friends... nothing spec'... You will never fully grasp how improbable this was even a year ago.

You are growing, and our society is growing too. And for that we are grateful.

This month has been amazing. Not only because you didn't even get one ear infection (can I get a Hallelujah?!?) but also because we got a well deserved beach vacation together. When we were at the beach with your cousins, aunt, uncle, and grandparents, we experienced the beach as if for the first time through your eyes... You didn't like the sand too much. You sat with both arms up and usually your left leg up off of the grainy stuff. You might not have minded the ocean, but the temperature was not to your liking. You reacted to the ocean's unwelcoming chill not by screaming in protest (though there were a few tears at times) but by clinging tightly to whoever was taking you into the big drink. They were the best hugs to be found on the shore that week, and your mommies encouraged any family members who were interested to experience the baby python hugs the ocean brought out in you.

Even though you didn't seem as enthralled with the sand and cool ocean, you were pretty zen and spent a lot of time napping in your stroller while we played and rested on the beach. You slept well in the pack and play and didn't seem to have any difficulty with the change in schedule or setting. When we brought you back to day care, your teacher really had missed you and you gave her a big huge hug- which made your mommies feel very happy and proud.

Out of Nana and Papa's 3 grandkids, you seem to be the most cuddly and most eager to find a shoulder to rest your head on. You like to weave your fingers around anything soft, and that includes wisps of hair you find on our necks, ear lobes, and/or shirt collars. You can be twitchy and fidget out of our arms when you decide you don't want to be be held, but this is the first month that you really started exhibiting the signs of begging to be held - as you get tired, you can get whiny and will cry until we pick you up. It's hard to complain about that at all, but "i need my mama/mommy-mania" is a change from the JB that we could sit on the floor to entertain himself when we needed to straighten up something in the next room.

You are exceedingly mobile now. You are not the newly crawling JB of month 10... You are not really doing anything new from last month, but you are so much stronger and faster. You can get across the room without difficulty and before we can blink. You troubleshoot barriers and navigate pillows and furniture I throw into your path to slow you down. When you want to pull yourself up, you lunge at the couch or table. With your arms higher than your head, you take the form of an athlete about to do a pull up: Standing seems to be much more about your arm strength than your legs at this point. Watching you get vertical has made me want to take you outside to see if you can hang from a branch without my help. (Confession: I have tried this, but you are not that strong yet... I think if your hands were a little tougher, you could really do it though, b/c your arms are that strong... but the bark is a little tough and your hands too small to grip like that. I guess this is why there are no infant body builders in the world.)

You are crawling, creeping, bouldering, and lunging from sofa to sofa on your feet. You won't walk without holding on to something, but often, one of our fingers is enough. You are pretty daring, but when you decide something is too far away, you sit yourself back down without incident and crawl there like a lightening bolt.

You now have 4 teeth. The 2 upper teeth are so huge they look like a couple of pieces of white gravel embedded in your gum. "That shit must'a hurt," we keep thinking to ourselves. You had a few cranky days right before they appeared and now if you have a few minutes of discontent, your moms keep expecting the snow capped rockies to pop through your gums next. We employ the ever-useful, rarely-provable, "maybe he's teething" EVEN MORE than we did before. (Read: every time you so much as whimper.) The thing about these teeth, is I guess it will be years before they all come in. So I guess that "life is pain" lesson I was planning on teaching you is all ready underway...

Your moms are finally starting to get serious about giving you table food options. It's not that you weren't watching every morsel of food go from our plates into our mouths, giving us the signal that you were "ready"... It's not that we haven't been buying little lumps, clumps and clusters of organic veggies and meats to cook up for you... It's that we were not quite ready to put the take-out containers down and start eating food that that hasn't been genetically altered by a fry-alator. (And trust me, if we weren't going to feed you the organic food that we left rotting in the 'frige, then we certainly weren't going to mince our over-salted, tempura, bacon, guacamole burgers to give you bits and bites of coronary artery disease).

So, now, we are finally figuring out how to provide for your expanding culinary needs- you've gotten carrots, cukes, all sorts of beans, avocado, chicken, steak, eggs, cheese, blueberries, mangoes, bananas, apples, grapes, and peaches (and probably others that I can't remember). You are very eager to feed yourself and try just about anything. You generally swallow well and explore many different textures of food. You are a little cookie-monster, though, a lot of the food goes in and comes out of your mouth - maybe only a third of it gets down your esophagus. We are trying to calculate exactly how we are going to substitute sippy cups of milk for your regular bottles of formula; suggested at 1 year of age. Right now, a sippy cup means "water" to you, and a bottle means "milk".

We are trying to do some basic signing: bath, milk, bottle/drink, diaper, more, all done. You definitely understand a lot of what we say to you. If we tell you to put something into something, you usually do. And if we tell you to "drum" you do. If we ask you where your planets are, you look up above your crib and wave at your mobile. If we ask for a kiss or a hug, you often oblige us. On occasion, if I put 3 objects out (say a duckie, a block, and a ball) you will reach for the one I said (though it hasn't happened with tremendous consistency.) If we say "come here" or "stop" or "don't touch that" you ignore us as if we are speaking another language.

Your play is very cute. You LOVE putting things in and taking things out and opening things and closing things. You have stacking boxes that have been a favorite for a few months now, but you can play with these things for hours. Not usually stacking, but "putting in" and "taking out". Also, doors- you will play with the front door for 20 minutes at a clip- trying to figure out how to shut it when you are sitting in the way of its shutting; and when you've finally shut it, reversing the process. You now have an old, defunct cell phone to keep our old TiVo remote control company in your toy box. No matter what we tried, you would ignore all toys if our real remote or phones were in sight. You prefer electronics to any and all plastic imitators.

You have shown yourself to be tough and sensitive. The toilet bowl seat fell onto your hand and nary a peep out of you. You turned your hand over a few times looking at the palm and then the knuckles as if to say, "Hmm, that was strange." But when a stuffed penguin "snuck up on you," all hell broke loose. The animal/toy scared the wits out of you and it took a couple of us 10 minutes to calm you down. We might have chalked this up to fatigue if it wasn't the 3rd time a stuffed animal unexpectedly brushed against your skin and brought on a wave of tears or screaming.

Sometimes you cry out in your sleep, and though you do not wake, we rush in and are forced to contemplate what has upset you so. I'd put money on you dreaming about getting your ass kicked at a Gund store. But your mama thinks it is all about the ice pick shaped tusks poking through the roof of your mouth. It is a little upsetting that you might be experiencing bad dreams. Symbolic to us that already, there are things we cannot help with or protect you from. But we feel incredibly lucky to be the ones watching over you; brushing our hands over your forehead and back, reassuring you that you we are here and you are loved.

We love you,
Your mommies

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