You are nine months old today! Did you know? That's three quarters of a year, which means it is only 3 months before you will be one year old.
It's springtime here in New Haven: the trees are budding with new life, and that makes me happy. This change of seasons reminds me of last year's change of seasons, when I was 7 months pregnant. It was a season brimming with hope for your dad and I. We were so excited to know that you were on your way. That was the best time, Jack. You would kick all day long and I got to take you with me everywhere, learning your patterns and nuances, enjoying that moment of calm before you turned my life upside down. But I wouldn't go back to those days, Jack, only because I like you even better now than when I was pregnant. I like you better with each day that passes. You are simply the funniest and the cutest and the most interesting little thing I know. With you around, I look forward to each new day. It is fascinating to watch you grow.
I'm so proud of you, Jack. You've really come a long way. I would say that this month has been about self awareness. You've made a big transition having to do with "you" versus "us", as if you suddenly realized that there are other people around you. Your dad and I agree that you now know that you can affect our behavior by making us pay attention, comfort you, laugh, or get you something. You are learning how to really interact with us.
At the beginning of the month, I think you figured out that I can walk away from you. You did not like learning this fact. You would get very, very upset if I tried to put you down for even five seconds. You wanted to be in my arms at all times. You didn't even want your dad, which shocked me, because he can get a smile out of you better than anyone else can. You just wanted me. It was sweet, Jack, but it was also kind of rough for both of us. Everything was making you upset -- loud sounds, sudden movement, a new taste -- and you needed me to be there, holding you close at all times. The world became a very scary place for you for a few weeks. But suddenly you figured out that things would be OK, and you returned to your bubbly and good natured self. I will always wonder what happened for you, to make the world such a happy place again.
And the world is a happy place for you, Jack. Everything makes you happy, and it is funny to see you get excited when you figure something out. You've started doing some new things. You are standing up! You want to pull up on e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. You're really quite good at it. Once you get onto your feet, you reach up with your arms and try to do a mini pull-up. I was a little worried about the "I'm stuck standing up" phase that most babies go through, but you seem to have skipped it. Within a few days of standing up, you were sitting down, too. The first time I caught you sitting back down, it was really funny. You kept inching your hands down the legs of a chair, lowering your butt closer and closer. I could tell that you were being careful not to fall. When you were about 4" from the floor, you let go with both hands at once! Plop. You were on the floor and off to other pursuits. Your dad says that in the last month, you've gotten to be fast and twisty. We can't leave you alone anywhere.
You learned how to clap, and you learned that it means that exciting things are happening. You learned how to back yourself up from crawling into sitting. You learned how to carry toys with you when you crawl. You learned how to crawl away from your dad when he chases you. You learned how to kiss our noses (though really you seem to be trying to eat them). You learned how to get your socks off. You learned how to go to the bathroom on the potty each morning, right after getting up. You learned how to feed Tori things that you don't want to eat.
In the last few months, I've written quite a bit about how much you babble. You made so many sounds so early on: it was a constant stream of chatter for a while! Now you've gotten so much quieter and pared things down to a limited set of sounds, mostly "duh" and "nuh". I'm not sure if they mean the same thing to you or not. Sometimes you repeat them endlessly: "duhduhduhduhduhduh nuhnuh duh nuhnuhnuh", and so on. Sometimes you use them like little explanation points, like "that!", and sometimes you use them like questions, like "huh?". You also do a lot of hooting. We can tell what the hoot means, usually "Wow!", when you are really impressed with something, or "What?" when you are trying to figure out how something works. Your hoot is my favorite sound of all, since you've been making it since you were a little tiny baby.
Maybe if you read these letters, some day, you will realize how completely absorbed your dad and I are by your every moment. We want to learn everything we can about you.
Your two bottom teeth are totally in, now, and your top teeth are just starting to break through the gums. You are eating lots of food. You definitely want what we are eating, even when it is spicy or has a strong flavor. Your favorite this month was something I made last week: potato gnocchi with sardines and pepitas/cilantro pesto. Considering that you went nearly as nuts for pepitas/cilantro pesto shrimp as you did for the sardines and gnocchi, I think we can conclude that you are of the "cilantro = yummy" camp (good thing, because your parents are, too). You liked this particular dinner so much that we actually ran out, and your dad and I had a heated debate over who would forgo their last bite to satisfy you. By the way, one of your other favorite foods? Beans. Beans, how you love beans, and even more so when they are cooked with tomatoes. You cram them into your mouth by the handful.
You tried two, completely different things this month with two, completely different reactions. First, you went swimming. You weren't too big on that. I think it was quite overwhelming. You just wanted to cuddle with us in the water and didn't like it when we tried to play. Then, a week later, you went on a swing set. You loved the swing set. You loved it so much. I took you to another playground last week, and you had so much fun. Every time the swing went back, your eyes would get big. As it rushed forward, your eyes would get all squinty and then you would giggle and clench your little fists. I could tell you were really enjoying the feeling of flying. Considering how much you like it when we toss you in the air, and how much fun you have when jumping in the doorway jumper, this is no surprise.
We have so much fun, Jack. We play so many games. You giggle and laugh and get breathless from excitement and fun. You just want to play all day long. Just tonight, your dad was blowing puffs of air in your face. This nearly always gets a giggle out of you. But this time you found it especially ticklish, and whenever he would get read to puff some air in your face, you would duck your head, put your hands up in front of your face, and giggle in anticipation. (This is a technique that I'm quite familiar with, because your dad is terribly playful with the people he loves). We could not stop laughing. It was certainly the most coordinated thing I've ever seen you do.
I could very well live on smile of your's. I love you, Jack.