Thursday, November 21, 2013

Twelve Months: This Moment Keeps on Moving - We Were Never Meant to Hold On

Twelve Months
Dear Katherine,

You are one year old, my darling girl, and you have had a big month to cap off a big year.  You will never again grow or change as much in 12 months as you have since you were born.  You now weigh over 17 pounds, and have finally grown into your 6-9 month wardrobe.  Your eye color continues to confound me.  I’m not sure if they are changing from blue to brown or if you will keep these wonderful chameleon eyes that can seem hazel, green, brown, blue or gray – sometimes all at once.

Cheeky bunny by keeniebeanieI thought that you were going to end the year with the same three teeth you’ve had for a couple of months now, but in a burst we’ve had at five arrive in the past 10 days.  That much teething was enough to shake even your normally cool composure and you’ve had a couple of rough nights.  Teething notwithstanding, you’ve started sleeping in past the time that I naturally wake up, and it’s awesome not to have a 17 pound alarm clock calling me to duty every morning.  I often hear you stirring in your cot for some time before you cry out for me, with the peace punctuated by little squeals and giggles which bring joy to my heart.  Then I go into your room and you beam a grin that could melt a polar icecap, and we begin the routine of imitation.  You wave, I wave, you shake your head no, I shake my head no, you blow a raspberry, I try to blow a raspberry (you’re much better at it than me), you make a kissy noise, I make a kissy noise, you pant like a puppy, I pant like a puppy.  When I carry you downstairs for breakfast, you hoot like a little owl because you like the way the sound echoes in the stairwell.

Like feeding a baby lamb by keeniebeanieYou’ve learned a lot this month.  You’ve been working on pulling to stand for a while now, but in the past few weeks you’ve dialed it in and now stand tall and proud on your chubby little legs.  You finally acquiesced to drinking from a sippy cup and in short order figured out how to do it for yourself.  Since I am still holding your bottle for you, darling, I’m very pleased about that development.  You can put the bottle into your mouth, but you haven’t quite sussed tilting it up far enough.  As soon as I try to show you how it’s done, you’re all, “Cool – you got this.”  Since you’re so tiny and the mere fact that you’re eating is more important to me, I’ve gone along with it.  Recently I thought your appetite for milk was dropping precipitously, but it turns out you’ve just got better things to do than lie back and drink, so I hang out with the bottle while you play and you periodically cruise by to have a swig like an orphaned lamb on a bottle.  When you are charging about, you don’t so much attempt to go around or over things as through them.  This either demonstrates determination, or the fact that your spatial awareness isn’t yet fully developed.  Heaven help you, sweetheart, if you take after your mother in that department. 

Selfie by Katherine by keeniebeanie
You’ve become so much more precise while you play and I know you now understand the physical relationships between items.  You love to climb in and out of your carseat.  You’re obsessed with placing the cap on and off your bottle.  You open my wallet to examine my credit cards and driver’s license.  You no longer simply knock block towers over and giggle maniacally when I say “boom!”; now you try to place the next block on top.   You love playing with my smartphone and I’m often surprised by what you manage to accomplish when you get a hold of it.  The home screen has a photo of you and I and whenever you get it flashed up you start laughing.

The arrival of your first birthday is a big milestone, my love, but it is bittersweet for me.  I spent so much time planning to have a baby, and anticipating your birth after I found out you were on the way.  I reflect on your unexected early arrival at this time last year and it seems but a moment ago.  Now I blink and your babyhood is over.  My delicious squishy newborn has been replaced by this beautiful curious bundle of delight.  Watching you grow and learn and change is exciting and fun, but no matter how much you grow up you will always remain my baby.

I love you with all my heart,

That's a hair-don't by keeniebeanie

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Eleven Months: Eel Girl is Nobody's Sidekick!

Katherine, my sweet baby girl,

Consternation by keeniebeanieYou are eleven months old, my little love, and this has been another month of big changes.  You put on another pound, weighing in at 16 ¾ pounds and climbing all the way up to the 9th percentile for your actual age.  You’ve started to wave, without knowing what the gesture meant, but you think it’s hilarious when we wave back so you do it again and again for a laugh.  Same with shaking your head “no.”  Although you haven’t yet discovered the word “no” for yourself, you have no trouble communicating the concept.  Particularly when I try to feed you something you don’t want.  You scrunch up your little face and huff air in and out, and your meaning is quite clear.  That face, which is hilarious, is also used when you are perplexed or irritated by anything else.   You are a delight, for the most part, giggling and smiling through your days.  It takes only simple things to make you happy.  Despite all the toys in your playpen, I’m sure you would be content in there with nothing more than a wooden spoon, your toy mirror, and your silicone toothbrush, since those are the things you play with most.  You’ve also discovered that books have interesting stuff inside them, and pages to turn, and turn and turn back again and you love the fabric books that your grandma made you. 

Brusha, brusha, brusha my teeth by keeniebeanieYou began to pull yourself up to your knees in your bednest early this month, and so we finally got you a full-size crib.  I moved out of your nursery after a week or two getting you settled.  The overall transition in your sleeping arrangements was so smooth that after more than ten months of sharing space for our sleeping hours, I realized perhaps I needed you next to me more than you needed to be there.  It was certainly more convenient for me when you cry out for your bottle sometime between 4:00 and 7:00 am.  Despite that ongoing habit, you still sleep very well, drifting off to sleep easily in your crib at bedtime, rarely waking except when hungry and immediately turning over to sleep again after your bottle is emptied.  You generally sleep until a civilized hour, waking sometime after 7:30 and occasionally staying contentedly in bed until 9:00.

You crawl like an old pro now and you’ve learned to sit up properly.  Although many babies learn to sit long before now, I never propped you up, preferring to let you figure out how to safely move in and out of that position on your own.  Sure enough, once you learned to crawl, you easily achieved that accomplishment.  Your sense of pride when you found yourself sturdily sitting on your own was clearly evident.  You sit on your knees when there is something nearby to grab for balance, and if you are near a box of the right height, you get your feet under you in a position I like to call “belly up to the bar.”  It’s so fun to see you up and about like a proper young lady after months of watching you play in a prone position.  It gives you a new perspective while you are playing and it gives us a new perspective on you.

Now that you are mobile, you are typically off and into everything you can reach.  When you are trying to achieve access to the object of your desire, keeping you away from contraband items is like trying to wrestle a particularly determined eel.  Daddy has dubbed you “eel girl” and, in an homage to “The Big Bang Theory” often declares, “Eel Girl is nobody’s sidekick!”  And he’s right.  You are your own little person and this month, you’ve discovered your own will.  After months of docile compliance during changing and dressing, now you have decided that if you don’t think it’s time for such nonsense you will have none of it.  Sometimes, this means you go charging off half-dressed with your sleepsuit legs flapping behind you like a gentlemen in tails.  Temper tantrums are rare, but for the first time this month we have had a handful of moments when you’ve decided to vehemently protest the current situation.  Fortunately, as you are a good-natured little soul, these moments pass as quickly as they come.

So peaceful by keeniebeanieYour new mobility has opened up the world to you.  Up until now, we’ve spent most of our time playing at home since I believe a calm, familiar environment makes for a calm and contented baby.   Now that I know you have the power to choose where you want to be, I’ve started to take you out to places like the children’s section of the library and setting you free to explore.  I was so proud the first time we went there and you charged off confidently to check out your surroundings and meet other children, because you are fascinated by small people of any size.  These are your first steps to a lifetime of independence, and like all mothers, my wish for you is to grow up strong and confident.  It brings joy to my heart to see that strength emerge and grow from moment to moment.

Sometimes, baby girl, when I look at you my heart explodes because to me you are beautiful… sometimes achingly beautiful, and you take my breath away.  The other night, I sat next to you in the dark, listening to your slow, even breathing as you drifted off to sleep.  I could just see your profile in the soft glow of the full moon shining through your window.   I stayed there, long past the point when you were peacefully asleep, savoring the moment and a bit in awe that this, this, is my life now.  After waiting so long to become a mother and wondering whether I even would, you are here, breathing softly next to me and it is amazing.  You are amazing.

I love you with all my heart,


Bogarting Daddy's spot on the bed by keeniebeanie

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Ten Months

The Bear Series, Item IX: Ten Months by keeniebeanie

My darling Katherine,

You are ten months old, sweetness, and the last month has been a busy one.  Your daddy worked very hard to renovate the home we bought and finally get us moved in on the day you turned 10 months old.  It’s been a busy, busy month and you and I spent a lot of time at the new place while daddy worked on it, which threw your feeding and sleeping schedule into complete disarray.  But you handled it like a champ.  To keep you safe, you spent way too much time in your car seat or bouncy seat before we sorted out the playpen, affectionately dubbed “baby jail.” A couple of those car seat naps stretched to 90 minutes – about twice as long as you’ve ever napped in your entire life!  Baby girl, if I’d have known that highly-discouraged practice of carseat napping would have resulted in such long stretches of daytime sleep, I’d have tried it ages ago.  I also confess to finally resorting to the TV as a babysitter at one fussy point during the move and since this was a fairly novel experience for you it certainly kept you quiet.  When I came to check on you a short while later, your tongue was lolling out of the side of your mouth while you lazily tapped your fist against it and you were mesmerized by the screen.  I joked to your daddy that you were looking dumber already.
Baby Jail by keeniebeanieAt the beginning of the month, you were up on all fours with no real clue how to move forward.  It was a race to see what would occur first – the move into our new house or you learning to crawl.  You beat us by 10 days, developing a unique style to achieve forward progress; I can’t really call it crawling.  You’d crawl forward with your knees while tipping onto your chest since you hadn’t quite worked out the whole hand-over-hand thing yet.  During the three days of our move, neither the house we were departing nor the house we were moving into were safe enough for you to move around freely.  The only place you were allowed any latitude was contained safely on the bed between us, given free rein there amongst the bedding.  Daddy says it must have functioned like training in sand because once we set you back down on newly laid carpet at home, you set off like lightning, with a properly developed cross-limbed crawl that seemed to appear from nowhere.

Enjoying the last of our own apples by keeniebeanieYou now have three teeth, with your first top tooth (oddly the second one on the left rather than either of the middle two) coming through several weeks ago.  Unlike your first two bottom teeth which appeared within days of each other, your second top tooth is taking its own sweet time, giving you an adorable, slightly snaggle-toothed smile for now.  You’re getting the hang of the eating thing, though we have pretty much abandoned spoon feeding and just let you get on with it using your fingers.  It wasn’t like I was getting much food into you with a spoon anyway, once you figured out how to remove it forcefully from my hands and then very deliberately turn it around and chew on the handle.  Every. Time.  You’ve developed the fine motor skills necessary to pick up Cheerios, which have become one of your favorite foods.  You don’t eat much, really, even of things you like.  You’ve not got a big appetite, though you are adventurous (or indiscriminate) enough to try a bite of pretty much anything I set in front of you.  But you are also opinionated and will then refuse to eat things you have decided you do not like at any given moment… and those moments are tough to predict because you are a fairly capricious eater.  You are still small, weighing in at around 15.75 lbs, and your 3-6 month wardrobe still fits perfectly.  But you are gaining well and creeping up the percentile chart, so your diet must be suiting you well.
We’ve had so much fun playing together over the last month and I often spent time with you in baby jail at the new house while daddy worked on the renovation. One of my favorite moments was when I made an impromptu puppet out of a silicone cupcake case, and you laughed until you nearly cried.  You also play well on your own and I love simply observing you explore things.  Watching you play is like a time warp; minutes fly by and become hours while I’m absorbed in your wonderment.  I haven’t ever wished away one moment of your precious infant days, thinking I can’t wait until you learn to do this or that.  I’ve just enjoyed who you are and what you can accomplish at any given time.  It’s gone so fast, I look back and wonder at how quickly my delicious squishy newborn was replaced by this great grown proper little girl.  But know this, little one – you will always be my baby.

I love you with all my heart,


Mummy never sits properly in her chairs either by keeniebeanie

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

9 months: How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

Sweet Baby Katherine,

You are nine months old, my little love, and I can hardly stand how quickly the months are flying by.  We've been extremely busy in the past week and I missed your monthly weight check, but according to my scale you're weighing in right at about 15 lbs.  You cut your first tooth two weeks ago and your second one has just started to come through in the past few days.  You're such a champ that teething hasn't bothered you at all.  It caught me totally by surprise and Daddy was the first to spy the little addition that spells the end of your gummy grin.  You spend a fair amount of time chewing on your lip and twisting your tongue to explore this strange new thing in your mouth and it's adorable.'ve mastered the pivot-and-roll to get around and the days when I could be sure you were safe and sound where I left you are well and truly gone.  You scooch up with your legs on your back, or backwards with your arms on your tummy.  Sometimes the harder you try to reach something, the further away it gets.  But you don't usually mind.  I sit back and observe you try to solve the problem and when you pause and catch my eye, you beam a grin that says you are as proud and delighted with yourself as I am.  I've yet to see you lose your sense of humor and get frustrated.

I'll tell you what does amaze me - your capacity to go straight for the most expensive or delicate piece of kit anywhere in your immediate vicinity.  Some say we should do a better job keeping these things out of reach, but I just never expected that when there's a whole floor-full of toys, you'd expend so much effort trying to reach the AV equipment, laptop, remote control, mobile phone or other nearby expensive verboten item.  Fortunately, you don't yet throw tantrums when we gently but firmly remove the object of your desire.  Sometimes Daddy can't help but indulge your wish to "type" on his laptop and you've managed to execute - in short order - some fairly complex commands that he's struggled to undo.  Just a preview of the I.T. skills that will probably have you putting him to shame by the time you're about three.

Here comes trouble by keeniebeanieIn the past few days, you've started to briefly get up on all fours and it may not be long before you're crawling.  Please just hold off a little bit, baby girl.  The tiny rental house to which we brought you home from the hospital is not baby-proofable and we've just bought our very own home, with more space, including your own room and a lovely large garden to run around in.  But Daddy's working very hard to renovate it so we can move in next month and it would be handy if you stayed relatively stationary until then.

Bednest by keeniebeanie Speaking of your own room, next month will mark a big change - the first time since your first night in Special Care when you won't be sleeping right next to Mummy.  I'd be a liar if I said I won't miss it - though it's as much laziness as love, my dear.  You tend to need a bottle sometime between 1 and 4 a.m. and often again before 7 a.m., and it is much easier to roll over to feed you from the comfort of my own warm soft bed.  But apart from that, you sleep like an old pro and you've become proficient at putting yourself to sleep for naps and night-time so I rarely have to rock you to sleep to your "Snorah Jones" playlist anymore.

Last month you grew out of your bassinet and we moved you into a borrowed bednest, which will work until you're able to get up into a sitting position on your own.  It afforded you more room to twist into adorable contortions while you sleep.  You tend to sleep on your side, though a few times you've rolled all the way over and cried out only half-awake, "who the hell turned me on my tummy and why won't you people let me sleep?!"  Then there was the morning when I found you turned upside down in a crib about half as wide as you are long.  I think this photograph provides some clue as to how you accomplished that.
You're an independent little soul and you aren't a particularly snuggly baby.  You've only ever laid your head on my shoulder a handful of times, and you generally consider your position in my arms simply a new vantage point from which to view the world.  You whip your little head back and forth, checking to make sure you're not missing any crucial observations.  Those few times when I still do need to rock you to sleep, it's a bit like trying to wrestle an eel to bed. But if you wake up early and I'd like to squeeze-in a few more zzzs, the best way to do it is to pull you into bed for a co-sleeping cuddle until you fall asleep in my arms and then you are so quiet and sweet.  The other night when I happened to be insomniac for your 2 a.m. feed, I delayed putting you back in your bed for a long while after you slept, nuzzling your head, smelling your lovely milky baby scent and practically feeling the grains of sand slipping through the hour-glass.  These baby days (and nights) are fleeting and I want to savor these moments.

Yeah, she does! by keeniebeanieWhen you are awake you are generally a delight.  You play well on your own and I often hear your little dove-coo giggle pealing out over and over as you amuse yourself whilst I'm washing the dishes or engaged in some other chore.  I remember once after you'd just learned to laugh, and Daddy mentioned it to Granny saying, "She laughs all the time.  I mean, at us... it's not like she's in the corner giggling away like a looney or something."  Well, you do that now... and it's hilarious.  And then I come in to see what's so funny and you grin up at me and I laugh so you laugh and we do the giggling looney thing together.

A few days ago, while I was changing you on the floor in a pool of sunshine, you noticed for the first time the sunbeams dancing in the light.  You reached out over and over, waving your arm and trying to close your hand around the ephemeral bits of dust.  You were entranced, and I was entranced with you.  That's how I feel about these fleeting days - I want to capture them in my hand and hold onto them forever but it simply isn't possible, so I'll try to capture them with my heart.

I love you with all my heart,

More fun than toys series: the tag and popper on her bib by keeniebeanie 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

8 months: Reach out and touch me

The Bear Series, Item VIII: 8 months by keeniebeanie
The Bear Series, Item VIII

You are 8 months old, Sweetness, and weigh in at 14 lbs 3 oz - which is 10 whole pounds more than when you were born!  This month you were all about reaching out to explore your world.  Unlike last month, when you would fling away in excitement anything you managed to get into your grasp, this month you learned how to examine closely whatever you could get your hands on.  Considering your little arms barely reach the top of your enormous head, it's astounding how much you do manage to get a hold of.  It's like you've got go-go gadget arms.

This month you also dialed in that hand-to-mouth coordination... much to your daddy's chagrin when he lost concentration whilst holding you in his lap.  You decided it was time to have a good gnaw on his thumb and he laughed and exclaimed, "Eww - it's like being eaten by a slug!"

Rosebud by keeniebeanieSometimes it seems like toys no longer interest you... though that's not strictly true.  It's just now that you have the ability to identify an object of interest, reach out and claim it as your own, you show that your natural curiosity extends to anything and everything, and not just the brightly colored toys we've provided.  A leaf, a waxed paper bag, your own socks and toes, an envelope, the breast pump tubing, my cell phone, the zippers on my backpack, the (no doubt filthy) strap that secures your car seat to the shopping cart... the world is filled with things that fascinate you.  My hair seems to be top of your list, and I wouldn't be surprised if your first words are "Leggo mummy's hair, please!"  While you are a very easygoing child, I got a glimpse of the future this month when I removed a new sunhat from your grasp to take off the tags and your little face crumpled up in distress and you threw your very first little tantrum.

Your powers of concentration surprise me as well.  I've seen you spend a solid 15 minutes examining a candy bar wrapper, your baby spoon, or the tag on your baby sleeping bag.  (Which reminds me, you love tags and labels of any sort.)  It helps that you've figured out that things don't cease to exist just because you can't see them.  If you're playing on your back and drop something by your ear, you diligently feel around until you can pick it up again.  I'm so proud of you when I watch you just get on with things, rarely exhibiting much frustration as you test the extent of your abilities.

One thing that does seem to frustrate you a bit is not yet knowing how to crawl.  You've mastered easily rolling over and can push up on your hands really well, but you haven't tried to get your knees under your hips yet, so mainly you just scooch around a bit on your back or your tummy - generally making only backwards progress and emitting comical groans of exasperation.  I'm in no hurry to have you completely mobile, so take your time, baby girl.

You still don't babble or chatter very much, though there were a couple of days last week when you discovered the "ma-ma-ma" sound and experimented with it incessantly, intonation floating up and down conversationally and generally delighting me, while daddy babbled back "da-da-da."  Then as quickly as it came, it was gone (and fortunately I captured a video.)  Perhaps you'd mastered it and had no more need to practice that particular sound.  Sometimes you do coo and squeak and you sound a bit like a baby R2D2.   Daddy calls you "Squeaky-doo" and sings "What's up Squeaky-doo?" in his best impression of Tom Jones' "What's up Pussycat?"  Someday you're going to hear that song and say, "So that's what he was trying to sing!"

Spooning by keeniebeanieYou're developing your own opinions about things.  Last month you proved you could get your bottle into your mouth, but this month you've definitively proved you prefer mummy to hold it for you.  It's difficult to get you to open up for pureed food on a spoon, except when you're already holding a spoon of your own, but you readily grab toast crusts and gum them to mush.  You used to remain placid when I cleared out your eye crusties, ear wax or boogers, but now you're so determined to keep me from messing with you that you frantically push my hands away from your face even if I'm only trying to put in your pacifier.

You're also developing a sense of humor and find it hilarious when you're looking at me upside down when you're lying on the bed, or when daddy pretends he's going to use your belly as a pillow.  Your giggles are like precious jewels to me, little one.  Laughter fills our days together, but tears are few and far between because you are such a contented little baby.

One of the finer points of parenthood that I didn't anticipate is how your days would be filled with tiny milestones that only a mother (or a father) could appreciate.  It's so much fun joining your journey of discovery, my sweet baby girl - what are you going to show me next?

I love you with all my heart,

Friday, June 21, 2013

7 months: Catching up
7 months

 Dearest Katherine,

You are seven months old, sweetie pie, and this month you started catching up in earnest.  You went through a six month growth spurt, which coincided with a marked increase in your appetite.  Today you weighed a whopping 13 lbs 4 oz. so all those extra calories did you some good.  You've even moved up to the 2nd percentile weight for your actual age.

Babydoll by keeniebeanieYou've decided to wean yourself from the breast this month.  You and I were never going to compete in the nursing Olympics, as your early arrival and tiny size, the first week of bottle feeding on formula and an unresolved tongue tie all got in the way of an efficient latch.  When I was still trying to get you to nurse effectively as a newborn, I said that if I had to pump and feed you for six months, that's what I would do... and baby girl, we made it.  I didn't have to introduce formula again until a couple of weeks ago.  Until this month, you were happy to nurse overnight when you were sleepy, but recently you've been so hungry that only an actual bottle would do even then.  If I'd known your last nursing session was going to be your last, I would have tried to permanently etch the memory of that final moment of unique closeness, giving you something only I could.  But as it is, we simply drifted into full-time bottle feeding, although you're still primarily on my milk, needing only about one formula bottle a day to top you up.  

We also started to feed you pureed food this month - well, we're trying anyway.  Although I wanted to wait until you had the strength and coordination to embark upon a mainly baby-led finger food journey, your preemie status meant we shouldn't wait any longer to introduce you to food other than milk.  You gave me a big smile and opened wide for your first taste of baby rice cereal, but soon decided the stuff was vile - gagging before I even got it to your lips.  (I don't blame you one bit.)  I'd never once put something in your mouth you didn't like, and the look of betrayal on your face when you were fed that rice cereal was both hilarious and heart-breaking.  We next tried apple, which you tolerated briefly before rejecting that as well.  Pear was slightly more acceptable, especially when mixed with mummy's milk.  I confess that this is probably my first real test of parenthood, as I must persevere no matter how reluctant you are to eat.  Up 'til now, you've pretty much been in charge, and are so easy-going that not much has challenged me.  But this is for your own good, my dear, even if you wish I would stop trying to get that spoon into your mouth.  If you hurry up and get strong enough to sit up in your high chair, and improve that hand-to-mouth coordination, we'll let you feed yourself.  If you're as stubborn as your father is, I'm sure you'll like that much better.

Bumbo! by keeniebeanieThere have been so many other leaps this month.  You've rolled over for the first time this week, both front-to-back and back-to-front.  You've started reaching up and out for toys rather than simply deigning to play with what we've placed in your hands.  When you do get a hold of something, you're so excited that you wave it around until centrifugal force detaches it from your grip and you manage to fling it far from your grasp.  You try to stuff your hands in our noses and mouths.  You cling to us like a baby koala and that grip can be hard enough to sting when you manage to pinch us.  You've figured out how to detach a finger or thumb from your fist to suck rather than attempting to shove the whole thing into your mouth at once.  You showed me you can get your bottle into your mouth, and even keep it there... when you remember not to immediately abandon the effort.  You've discovered your feet are endlessly fascinating.  You've developed a ticklish neck and a hearty belly laugh.  You're growing so big, baby girl, I can hardly remember you as a teeny, tiny newborn less than a quarter the size you are now.

Laughter by keeniebeanieYou and your daddy are falling ever more in love.  He gives you cuddles and kisses and tells you that you're prettier today than you were yesterday.  The man doesn't ever say things he doesn't mean, so you must believe him when he tells you that.  He makes your stuffed toys come to life, climbing up to his shoulder and then jumping into your arms.  When he does that, your face lights up and your whole body tenses, practically vibrating with excitement as you reach out to hug your incoming cuddly toy. 

Daddy says he understands now why people say having a child is the best thing they've ever done.  There are moments when it's really tough to have a little person totally dependent on us, calling all the shots.  You are a beautiful little terrorist, holding our hearts hostage.  But your beaming smile in the morning, waving your arms and thumping your little feet because you're so excited to see us, or those moments when we can watch you learn and grow, when we can practically see the flashes of insight and understanding you're developing, are absolutely sublime.  You are amazing, little one, and I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.

I love you with all my heart,

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Six months

6 months
 Katherine, my little lovely,

You are six months old today and bright as a shiny new penny.  Many people have remarked on your expressive little face and the inquisitive gaze that you adopt as you take everything in.  I think sometimes people find it surprising to find such an engaging soul in a tiny little package not much bigger than some newborns.  Last week you weighed in at 11 lbs, 10 oz.  You've only just outgrown size 1 Pampers, and your 0-3 month wardrobe fits just about perfect.

We don't need no stinkin' tummy time by keeniebeanieYou seem to attract attention wherever we go - walking down village streets, in the shops... little old ladies find you especially irresistable.  I was feeding you in an out-of-the-way corner of Windsor Castle and two little old dears with a tour group from some far-eastern nation came over and began to coo and comment over you.  They didn't speak English, but the tone of their conversation and their wide smiles were unmistakable.  In short order, we were surrounded by a knot of elderly admirers and one of them stuttered out what must have been one of the few English words she knew: "be-ooo-tee-ful," she said, smiling and bobbing a little bow, then that compliment was tentatively repeated by a few other people.  Your little eyes widened as you gulped down your bottle and assessed your fans, and when I said "thank you" to the compliments and smiled back at the group, you followed suit - grinning widely from behind the bottle, utterly charming them all.  After the group disbanded, one of the castle guards remarked that you're one of the more popular attractions on the day.
Open wide by keeniebeanie
This month you've been exploring your vocal range, squawking like a baby pterodactyl to discover the limits of pitch and volume.  But, quite considerately, you do this odd little thing where you kind of swallow those squeals, not really pushing to full volume.  Heaven help us when you decide to do so, because I imagine it will be ear-splitting right up to the point where you go ultrasonic.  In the past week though, you've started emitting a dulcet, conversational babble which is adorable, and I would love to know exactly what you think you are saying.

Find a toy, pick it up, all day long you'll have good luck by keeniebeanieYou've started to try to hold your bottle, you bat at toys on the play gym and you are fascinated with hands, both mine and your own.  When I spread my fingers out in front of you, you place your hand against my palm and stare, as if absorbing the difference... and the similarity.

We went on our first holiday with you this month, to a little cottage in Cornwall, and on the way down we stopped at Granny's house.  She asked if I had any toys along for you and I told her you weren't really interested in toys yet, because you had exhibited a distinct indifference to them to that point.  I felt like mother of the year (not!) when she handed you a toy from her stash and you picked it up, examined it intently and then shoved it in your mouth.  It's not the first time that you've surprised me with a new trick and I'm sure it won't be the last.  I'm amazed at how much you absorb and learn all on your own.

Loves her Cuddle Blanket made by Grandma by keeniebeanie
Loves her cuddle blanket
You giggle when I kiss your apple-round cheeks, flirt with yourself in the mirror, and love to play your own version of peek-a-boo.  You ball up your cuddle blanket and bury your face in it, furiously kicking your little legs, then peek out over the top and go completely still to see if I'm watching.  You catch my eye and I exclaim, "there's Katherine!"  I can sometimes only see your eyes when you do that, but your grin under the blanket lights them up completely.

Speaking of holidays, you once again proved your resilience - not being rattled at all by the change in location or routine.  In fact, the first full day we were away, you were quite tired and I put you down to sleep before 8:00, nearly two hours early.  And just like that, your bed time moved from 9:00/10:00 to 7:00/8:00 and you never looked back.  With a few exceptions here or there, you're sleeping through to 5:00 for your first bottle and back to sleep until 7:00 or 8:00.  It's actually a bit hard for mummy to drag my butt out of bed that early now since your night owl ways for the first months of life seem to have reset my morning-personality.

Also, I braved my first cold with you this month (mine, not yours - thankfully) and it was the hardest thing I'd had to do as a parent so far.  You needed me, I needed sleep.  You win.  You'll always win when you need me, my precious baby girl.

In the past few days, you've started to lay your head on my shoulder when I hold you upright.  This is in stark contrast to your effort, without fail, to hold your head up and look around when in that position ever since you were born.  It's so lovely when you melt into me and tuck your head under my chin.  It's as if, after 6 months of me cuddling you, you're cuddling me back too.  I absolutely love it... and I love you...

... with all my heart,

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Five Months
20 weeks

 My darling Katherine,

You are 5 months old, baby girl, and this time last spring we were just finding out that you were on the way.  So you've now been a part of my life for a whole year.  I can't believe how time flies, yet I can barely remember life without you.

This week you weighed in at 10 lbs 14 oz, a huge leap forward from last month and you finally climbed onto the weight chart for your actual age - though you are smaller than 99.6% of all other five-month-old babies.  I love every tiny perfect part of you, my little miracle.  It's wonderful to know that you love me too, and I want to remember always how your little face lights up with pure, unadulterated delight when I walk into a room and greet you.

mmmm...muslin by keeniebeanieOne advantage to your teeny size is you still fit well in your moses basket, and happily sleep right next to me there.  When you wake at night, I can soothe you by simply reaching out, and you often quickly fall asleep holding my hand.  At the beginning of the month, you started skipping the 4 am wake up, pushing it back by another hour.  We've also moved bedtime forward to around 9:30 pm and there were four glorious days in the past week where you slept through past 7 am.  I felt like a million bucks when I didn't have a tiny little person functioning as my alarm clock at O-dark-thirty.  You've started napping consistently for 45-minute stretches several times a day and falling asleep on your own if I put you down when you're drowsy.  I feel like a genius for figuring out this sleep thing, but in truth, you've done most of it yourself.  I'm not foolish enough to believe that you won't ever challenge me with your sleep patterns but for now, my little sweetie, I'm so proud of you and grateful for the extra ZZZs.

A Smile for Daddy by keeniebeanieThis month you learned to laugh with abandon, though it doesn't happen very often and the most random and unpredictable things tickle your funny bone.  When you really get going, I laugh like a nutter right along with you and we set up a spiraling chorus of giggles as you laugh at me laughing at you.  But even the tiniest giggle seems to set off a bout of hiccups, so clearly your little diaphragm could use the exercise.  You've also developed a certain brand of charm and a winning smile especially for your daddy.  Don't tell him you know this, but he is slowly and surely falling under your spell.  And you're falling for him too... sometimes when you are frustrated with Mummy, he'll pick you up and make you smile and giggle even while you're still in tears.

Hare-lick by keeniebeanieYou've discovered the pleasure of testing the world with your tongue this month.  Your favorite thing to do is lick cloth... your muslin, Mummy's shirt, Hare's ears... it's all good to you.  You've become fascinated with your hands too, and since hand-eye coordination isn't one of your momma's strong points, I recommend all the practice you can get.

When I was pregnant with you my hair grew thicker than it had ever been in my life, but this month, little one, it started falling out incessantly.  In sympathy, you started losing most of your dark newborn hair and what's left is decidedly lighter.  You're rubbing out a bald ring around your head that is leaving you with this odd kind of monk tonsure at the bottom and a wicked comb-over on top.  So month 5 hasn't exactly been a good hair month for either of us.

You haven't yet made any real effort to start rolling or reach out and grab things in your world, but I think it's because you are such a chilled out little thing.  You are also incredibly brave and resilient, barely letting out a wail when you had your injections this month and almost never collapsing into tears when you are startled or scared. 

It seems to be a competitive pastime among mothers, comparing their little one's accomplishments, but the truth is, baby girl, I CAN wait until you conquer your milestones.  I CAN wait:
  • for you to roll over, because I like knowing you'll stay where I've left you;
  • for you to start teething, because I adore your gummy grin;
  • for you to start sleeping in your own room, because I like being able to soothe you while barely moving and we both stay mostly asleep;
  • for the time when I'm not the most important person in the world to you;
  • for you to squirm to get out of my arms because you'd rather explore than cuddle;
  • until you're no longer comforted by a simple kiss and a cuddle from Mummy;
  • for the time when I can't coax a beaming grin from you just by smiling like a looney myself.
You've changed and grown so much that there's barely a shade of the teeny, tiny newborn we brought home.  I can and really want to wait for you to tell me when you're ready for your next accomplishment so you can enjoy being who you are now.  I am so honored to have the privilege of watching you discover your skills and embrace the world at your own pace.  Just know if it ever gets to be too much for you, I'll be right here, waiting with a kiss and a cuddle to make you feel better.

Carseat cuteness by keeniebeanie
I love you with all my heart,