Thursday, December 18, 2014

Santa Will Find You

Christmas means a lot of things to a lot of people. For some, it's the celebration of the birth of their savior. For others, it's a time to maul people in the name of retail. For most Americans, it's somewhere in between, or a healthy mix of both. For your mommy, Christmas is about the resilience of family. Perhaps that's an unusual sentiment on which to meditate during this season, but I think you deserve this explanation because this value is something I'm especially proud of.

When I was younger, December was very simple. Christmas vacation meant relaxing at home with family, watching the same Christmas specials on our VCR (don't worry about what that is; it's not important), and playing with all the toys that Santa brought for us. As I got older, Christmas changed; but the warmth of it all remained the same. In high school, I spent my vacation ditching family to hang out with friends, but our family traditions on Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning still took priority. In college, December meant finals. This made things slightly more complicated, but the light at the end of the tunnel was that I would be homeward bound for nearly a month. I spent my break enjoying cozy reunions with friends from high school. (This was ridiculous, in hindsight, as most of them went to UF as well.) Christmas break in college eventually meant spending time with the boy who would someday become your daddy. Oh, and I guess I still had some time for family in there. I always found time to set out cookies for Santa with Auntie Amanda.

Christmas was always a happy and uncomplicated time, but the season evolved over the years. I don't mean for this recap to become overly detailed, but I do intend for it to be exhaustive in order to illustrate my point. Here's a summary of the last ten years:

On December 19, 2005, your Uncle Mark passed away after a long battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma. We buried him on a bitterly cold Thursday in Missouri, and then we made it back home in time for his birthday on the 23rd. Mimi and Daideo (who were still married at the time), Auntie Amanda, and I were all together for Christmas at our old home in Coral Springs as usual, but we were too sad to enjoy each other's company. I remember only wanting to spend time with your daddy, and maybe Auntie Amanda. I didn't even want to look at my parents. I knew they had known Uncle Mark since he was a little baby, and how they were so sad that a mommy and a daddy had to bury their baby. Even at 32, he was still their baby.

This was pretty much the last normal Christmas I would have, or at least normal by the standards I grew up with.

I came home from school, spent pretty much every waking moment with Daddy (remember, we went to different colleges so holidays became our way to stock up on seeing each other). I remember this Christmas being corrupted by the overwhelming heaviness of senioritis. I would graduate from UF in a few short months, and I had no idea at the time where I was going for graduate school. More importantly, at least so it seemed, I had no idea whether your daddy would be there. Between my preoccupation with these worries and the hangover from 2005, it was rather difficult to be jolly.

A few months later, my family fell apart. At the time (and even several years later), I couldn't allow myself to truly process the gravity of divorce. Part of it was denial, but I think more of it was forcing myself to endure. I was amidst several significant transitions: I was in a very serious relationship, as Daddy and I had moved to a different state together. Additionally, I was in my first semester of graduate school. Not just any graduate school, I was enrolled in the #8 program in the world for physical therapy! I was convinced I had no business being there, but more convinced that I had to prove myself wrong. I didn't have time to deal with family drama, so I ignored it. By December of 2007, however, I found myself longing for the miserable Christmas I'd had in 2006.


I missed Mark. I missed my normal, intact family. I missed my parents' marriage, which hadn't been so great for a very long time. This would be our last Christmas in the house I grew up in. I won't get into details because I don't want to unearth anything that has since been resolved, but the short version of the story is that we tried to do what we'd always done and it simply didn't work.


Mimi had moved out of our old house and into a new townhouse a few miles away. Drowning in change, Auntie Amanda and I clung to each other. Mimi had done such a fantastic job trying to make this place feel like home; Auntie Amanda and I still couldn't recognize it, though we appreciated her efforts. At least we still had each other, and our friends.

This year was weird. We were trying to establish new traditions, but we didn't quite know where to start. It felt very much like the first day of school. You recognize some faces, but everything is different. You're used to your desk being on this side of the room, but now there's some new kid sitting there and you just have to move on.


Daddy proposed to me in August of 2009; shortly thereafter, I moved to Boston for an internship. By Christmas, I was so glad to be back with my family and back in warm weather, even if it was back in the unfamiliar townhouse.

We went to Disney as usual, and Auntie Emily tagged along this time (this was awesome and we've been trying to convince her to come back with us ever since). Christmas was fun, but it was upstaged by the fantastic engagement party that Mimi and Auntie Amanda threw for us! So Christmas was getting better, even though it was very different.

The most memorable part about Christmas of 2009, though, was the fact that we had four of them. You see, this was our last Christmas as students. The following year, we would no longer have the luxury of a long break that allowed us to travel. We decided to take advantage of what would inevitably be our last year with excessive flexibility, so we decided to visit all four of our parents. How hard could it be? Mimi was in Coconut Creek, Abue was in Aventura, Daideo was in Surfside, all in South Florida except for Grampa who was in St. Augustine; we could easily see him on the way back up to Atlanta. When it took two hours to drive the eight miles between Abue and Daideo because of holiday traffic, we decided we'd had enough. Our new traditions just weren't sticking, and traveling to South Florida was just way too complicated. So much traveling and coordinating and planning left very little room for actual quality time with the people we love. We were losing sight of what Christmas is supposed to be about, and we knew we needed to do something drastic to change that.


After four years of attempting to fix Christmas, we threw in the towel. Daddy and I moved Christmas (and Thanksgiving, for that matter) to Atlanta. This was a bold decision for a family so new that they weren't even married yet, but we felt that it was the right one. The timing worked out, too. We bought our first real tree, and we chose the biggest one we could afford.

As you can see, this is the year Smallrus, the derpiest tree topper of them all, joined our family. Auntie Amanda had a month off of school, so she just hung out in our apartment and helped me with wedding stuff. We drank. A lot. Daddy and Auntie Amanda played video games. I had to work, but it was nice coming home each day to a full house. Best of all, we had our first (and only, to date) White Christmas. For a few Floridians, this was a REALLY big deal! It felt like a message from our guardian angel Mark: this is how Christmas was supposed to be.


This was the year where we got married and moved into the house that became your home. I was unreasonably excited for our first Christmas in our new home, convinced that this was the year we would really establish traditions that we would carry out for the rest of our lives. Then, I got a really bad flu. As you know, I never get sick. So when I tell you that Mimi did Christmas for me and I fell asleep in a doctor's office, you know it was bad!

I really think this is the only picture I have of that season, but I really cherish this photo. This was our first tree in our new home. I finally had the Disney monorail that I'd been eyeing for years. And best of all, Charlie came to visit. This was the last time I would see my family dog, as he was already an old man.


Christmas of 2012 was probably the first really great Christmas in nearly a decade.

After our usual Disney trip, it was a pretty quiet Christmas. It was unremarkable, but I remember that this was the first time that I felt warm inside again. It took seven years, but the coziness was back.


Obviously, I've already talked at length about the changes that took place during our lives in December of 2013! But now, I'm going to talk about it from a different angle. Your grandparents couldn't wait to meet you, and insisted on visiting and helping the second you got here. This made me incredibly anxious. I felt like I had finally just gotten the hang of this holiday thing, and now I had to host more people? Requiring me to make accommodations when my uterus was being accommodating enough was pretty much the last thing I wanted to deal with at Christmas. (I should add that Auntie Amanda didn't count when it came to these familial pressures. She had planned on arriving in Atlanta at the beginning of her Christmas vacation, regardless of when you felt like arriving in Atlanta. In fact, I think those would have been her plans regardless of whether you existed! It didn't matter. As you may have gathered, Auntie Amanda was the only thing ever consistent about Christmas. There have always been times when we've only had each other, and even when those were the worst of times, those times consistently improved with each other's company).

When you finally arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my family was, indeed, helpful. Supportive, even. They did chores around the house, ran errands for me, stayed out of my way, and got along with each other. I hate to sound cliché, but it was a Christmas miracle. It felt like everyone loved each other again, even if that love had changed over the years. Because of that, I felt loved.


As a December baby, you will inevitably feel as though your birthday takes a backseat to Christmas. It will always be my intention and my goal to create a special day just for you that's independent of the holiday season, but you should know that in my mind, your birthday and Christmas will always be closely related because you made Christmas better. It took years for us to get Christmas right again, and you were the star on top of the tree.

When I think back to some of those painful years like 2005 and 2007, or years like 2008 and 2010 where we ventured through uncharted territory, I remember that lost feeling all too well. It's incredibly vivid to me - how far removed I felt from tradition, how helpless I felt as the happy golden days of yore slipped further away, how much I longed for that warmth. But I learned that no matter how hopeless it may seem, Santa will find you. No matter where you are (literally or figuratively), you can find joy in this season. I found joy in Daddy and Auntie Amanda, who always brought merriment even when my heart was anything but light. They put their faith in me and helped me create Christmas traditions that feel more like home than anything I've ever had. I found joy in Mimi and Daideo, who were relieved and willing to follow along with our grand scheme to completely revamp such a season of nostalgia. Christmas never forgot us, and now we all find joy in being able to take it for granted again.

And of course, now we all find joy in you. Christmas is for the kids - everything from Santa's whimsy to jolly tunes that you're already dancing to even before you can learn the words. I hope that you'll remember this sentiment no matter where Christmas takes you. No matter what, Santa will find you.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Eleven Months Old

You had quite the busy month! You visited with family, went on your longest road trip to date, and celebrated your first Halloween. Unfortunately, you also had a pretty bad cold during part of your eleventh month. You're rarely sick, but when you are, you're usually still in pretty good spirits. The worst part is that your sensitive skin breaks out! This bug seems pretty bad because, as I'm writing this post way too late, it's lingering. Or maybe it's overlapping with some teething symptoms. Who knows?

You're just as mobile as ever these days. You can crawl like a champ, pull to stand like it's nothing, and you love pushing your little gator walker around. You've picked up some speed, and as a result, the calories seem to be melting away. That's right, you're thinning out! I love your chunky baby body, and I thought we had more time before you start to look like a big girl, but it's all happening so fast.

You're such a big girl now, we had to move your crib down! You're trying to climb out of it, and you love to try climbing up stairs. Being a big girl has also allowed us to be more flexible with your bedtime, which is fantastic for our social life. You love going out to dinner, and Mommy and Daddy love going out to dinner later than 5:30!

Speaking of socializing, your social skills have really picked up this month. You're waving consistently, which is so much fun for your daycare teachers when you leave every afternoon. You've also learned how to make an "abababa" noise by putting your hand up to your mouth. You love to copy grown-ups when they do this, and are happy to do it on command. I'm hoping you put these two skills together soon and start blowing kisses! You've also been trying to share. This usually involves food, and Chelsea, but it shows your sweet personality and we love that!

You're growing so fast; I can't believe the next time I write a post like this it'll be for a one-year-old!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

That Holiday Feeling

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

The second we turn our calendars to November, the holiday season invades our lives. It sneaks its way into every activity we do, preoccupies our thoughts, and spreads to every place we go until its presence cannot be ignored. I don't mean for this to sound like it's a bad thing, but I believe that "spread" is literally the single best way to describe what happens with holiday cheer. There is nothing as contagious or as prevalent. Halloween comes and goes, and then suddenly, we just feel cozy. Just think about it: bundling up in layers, walking through crisp cool air, feeling hot chocolate-soaked marshmallows melt in your mouth, smelling all of your favorite family recipes waiting for you to gobble them up (pun slightly intended).

But for me, this feeling we all get this time of year has another layer to it now. Wow. That's the only way I know how to describe it. Just wow. I'm just absolutely bewildered by how much life has changed since the 2013 holiday season. Not so much life, I suppose. My life is pretty similar. I go to work, I try to help people, I try to better my practice and advance my profession. I spend time with your daddy, we cook dinner together, we make each other laugh, we curl up with Chelsea and watch Netflix. I text with Auntie Amanda all day, I Instagram my latest DIY project/Pinterecipe/pretty cocktail, and when I'm not feeling too lazy I actually go out with friends. But I have changed. My capacity to love has changed.

This time last year, I was excited to meet you. I've spent a lot of time trying to decide what that means. "Excited." Was I excited to no longer be pregnant? Was I excited to become a mom? Perhaps it was a little of both? And what do I mean by "excited?" Was it the kind of butterflies you feel in anticipation of a new vacation or reuniting with an old friend? Or was it like looking forward to the latest Hunger Games movie? I've decided that the excitement I felt actually was most analogous to that of Jessie Spano. She was before your time, so I'll summarize briefly. Jessie was a teen character on a hit tv show from back when Mommy and Daddy were kids. In one absolutely hallmark episode, Jessie feels overwhelmed by the stresses of being a teenager in the early 90s, namely balancing her demanding geometry homework with the pressures of keeping up with her friends. She succumbs to caffeine pills as a poor coping mechanism, and is left pretty amped up, but also quite terrified of the uncertainties of her future. Fortunately, her BFF Zack Morris comes to her rescue and everything works out. I digress.

I'm a sensitive person, and I don't know whether you'll be sensitive or not. It's okay either way. But I just want to throw out that just because I'm comparing bringing you into this world to becoming addicted to barely-controlled substances, that doesn't mean that I don't love you. Or that I didn't love you. Or that I didn't want you. You were very wanted and loved before you got here, before you were even thought of. But none of those sentiments can even remotely compare to the extent of my love for you now. Today.

This time last year, I had no idea what to expect, and that was a bit scary. I consider myself to be a pretty brave person, but fortunately, I've never really had to test my courage. I'm been brave through tough situations. I've overcome adversity enough to relate to characters like Harry Potter, but I've never needed to be brave in the face of fear. My unexpectedly complicated delivery left me pretty paralyzed by fear. I wasn't quite sure how to get around that. I remember at one point, your Mimi asked me if I thought I felt like I had postpartum depression. I didn't feel depressed, just scared. Overwhelmed. So excited, but so so scared. Since I didn't fit into the box of "fine" and I didn't fit into the box of "postpartum," I didn't really reach out for help.

Daddy was really patient with me, which made me feel loved. That comforted me more than anything else at the time. Auntie Amanda was really helpful, too. They were both with me 24/7 for the first two weeks of your life. Daddy suffered through sleep-deprivation with me, while Auntie Amanda took care of Chelsea and made us breakfast every day. One of my most vivid memories (and I don't have many from those blurry first days) was watching Orange is the New Black with them. I remember that I found the haunting theme song uncomfortably relatable. I felt stuck and trapped in my new life. My life was moving so quickly, but standing still at the same time. I remember having these thoughts while staring off into our Christmas tree. It was the first time those warm lights left me feeling cold and anything but cozy, even with all of those "Baby's First Christmas" ornaments. That's another thing: the first picture I posted on Facebook after you were born was of your Christmas ornament. Why in the world didn't I post a picture of you?! The first family photo we took of the three of us was with you in your carseat on Day 3, getting ready to go home. What.

These thoughts and actions seem so illogical to me, a year later. Was it sleep deprivation? Hospital disorientation? Or this crippling fear that I might screw something up while simultaneously having an identity crisis?

Last year, I didn't host Thanksgiving. I barely bought a single Christmas gift. I don't even remember Christmas. This year, it's business as usual, but better. I'm back to my usual organized self with my Any List shopping list and my Evernote full of recipes, but what's even better is that I'm so excited to share it with you. I'm so excited to show you all of our Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah traditions. I'm so excited to create new traditions of our own. I'm so excited to spend an obscene amount of money spoiling you with Christmas presents, and birthday presents too! And best of all, I'm not the least bit scared.

We're working on the second season of Orange is the New Black right now. Just like that holiday feeling, the eerie theme song sent a signal to my amygdala reminding me of these foreign emotions I felt this time last year. It's so surreal and bizarre to think about now, because now I can't ever imagine feeling that way.

I loved you when I first met you. And I loved you even more once my post-delivery fog evaporated and I was left with a clearer picture of what our new life was going to be like. But even that doesn't compare to how much I love you now. It's a different kind of love, one greater than I ever thought possible. What's more, my love for you makes me love your daddy even more. Knowing that we share you in a way that no one else gets to, seeing how amazing he is with you, it's jus the greatest. The love I feel for my new family is a new kind of cozy that I get to take with me all year long, not just during the holidays.

Sick Day

You adjusted to the end of daylight savings, you slept well during a vacation, and you've been putting up with the cold weather like you didn't have a Floridian gene in your body, but somehow, your immune system still caught a little bug. Last Thursday, you fussed when I put you down at night. This is something you hadn't done in quite some time, which was my first clue that something was wrong. As a nearly 11-month-old, you have a good understanding of your routine. You take a bath, you get a baby massage, you change into your PJs, you read a book, you nurse, and then peacefully go into your crib and put yourself to bed. What could be causing this change in routine?

Friday morning, I had to wake you up. Usually, you get up on your own. But that morning, all you wanted to do was sleep. You were not happy about being woken up. You nursed as usual, and then I handed you off to Daddy so that he could get you ready for school. As usual. Your bad mood turned to worse, but Daddy tried to push through with our routine. Despite his valiant efforts, you screamed as you reached for me. Daddy stood next to me and you crawled back into my arms. You rested your little head on my chest and sighed, and I knew that's where you'd spend most of the day.

These days, you're so busy. You're quick and curious and consistently value your independence, especially as a means of exploring your world. You have fleeting moments when you need a few extra mommy snuggles, but usually they're short-lived because they get in your way. But last Friday, you didn't want to leave my arms.

"Do you think we should keep her home from school?" Daddy asked. You didn't have a fever, though your nose was runny and your face was breaking out in the way it always seems to whenever you have any virus in your system. "I can stay home with her if you want," he offered. You probably could have gone to school. They certainly wouldn't have sent you home. But I took one look at your face and knew you needed me.

No, you weren't happy. And it wasn't something that Daddy could fix, or something that staying home would fix. You needed me. You spent the whole day in my lap, in my arms, curled up on my chest, more attached to me than you had been in months. I was reminded of how little you were once, and how much has changed since then. It was nice to know I was still just as needed, and I enjoyed the extra time together. At the same time, though, I worried because I was pretty sure this was your biggest bug to date. You got mad at me when I wiped your nose, and sometimes you coughed so hard that it scared you. It scared me, too. But we toughed it out, and after a day or so, you started to show some interest in your usual activities.

At first, we spend all of your waking hours like this:

You, attached to me, with a sleepy look in your eye. Me, emotionally drained but content because I knew you were on your way back. We just sat like that for hours. I talked with you, I sang to you. You even watched tv, which you NEVER do...not because I don't let you; you're just not interested. It was about Saturday afternoon when you started to sing again, and then you were crawling and cruising and playing all over the place. You even started to smile again!

Yep, that gunk on your face still stuck around though. Vaseline is our best friend in this house.

It's just amazing to me how much can happen in 48 hours these days. You went from completely miserable to good as new. I was so glad to be able to spend the day with you. We've been really lucky so far *knock on wood* that you haven't had too many colds, even with five months of daycare under your belt. I thought maybe if I could have spent a little bit of time comforting you, that investment would help you kick this thing sooner so that we could get back to our routine on Monday. I'm grateful to work in a culture that understands that, because sure enough, you were back to your usual antics the next week!


The weekend after Thanksgiving, we drove to Nashville to visit Mommy's friend Ms. Jessica. You had met her once before when we went to Gainesville for her wedding. She and Mr. Jordan are expecting a little boy in February, and we wanted to give them some baby practice! Also, it was Jessica's 30th birthday and the Gators were playing at Vanderbilt. We figured it was a good time for a road trip, and as good a time as any for your first football game!

We left Friday morning and drove to Chattanooga. I really do love Chattanooga. I think it's such a cute town, and it's a shame that we don't spend more time there when it's only a couple of hours away. You slept through almost the entire drive. You woke up when we were lost in a very cute neighborhood on our way to find some hiking trails, but you managed to keep it together for the most part until we stopped. We got out at Ruby Falls, but decided not to actually do any of the Ruby Falls attractions because they were touristy and overpriced. Maybe next time. We went on a little nature walk for a mile or two and found some beautiful views around Lookout Mountain.

Next, we stopped for lunch on UTC's campus at this adorable little hippy sandwich shop called The Yellow Deli. You ate some yummy fruit salad, and we got back in the car.

When we got to Nashville, Ms. Jessica (or I guess I should be calling her Dr. Jessica) was still in surgery. We let ourselves into her house and got comfortable. Jess got home soon, and we all went out for Mexican food. Mr. Jordan was coaching a high school football game that night, but Jessica's sister was in town too so she joined us. Usually, you love going out to eat (especially Mexican), but you we're feeling it that night. I don't know if it was the new people or the fact that you had spent so much time in the car, but you were over it.

The next day, we took it pretty easy. We hung out at the house, spent some time catching up with our friends, and you got to take lots of naps in preparation for the game that evening. We went out to lunch at this really good place near their house, but mostly we just relaxed. That night, we put on many layers of orange and blue (it was cold!) and headed over to Vanderbilt to tailgate.

It was a pretty uneventful game. Boring, even. But you were a trooper. You ate a little...

Slept a little...

And even watched a little of the action!

The Gators won, and we headed back to Jessica and Jordan's house to go to bed. The next day, we hit the road pretty early. We had planned on stopping in Chattanooga again, but unfortunately, there was a HUGE accident blocking the interstate. Mommy skipped breakfast and had already nursed you three times, so things were looking pretty bleak. I was past the point of hangry and was seeing spots. After about six hours, we decided to take the next possible exit and just find any food we could. Fortunately, it was a nice day and we were happy to take our time once we got some food in our bellies.

Once we got back into the Atlanta area, we picked up Chelsea from Auntie Sara's house and FINALLY headed home. You were so glad to be out of your carseat by then!

Saturday, November 1, 2014


Last night, you celebrated your very first Halloween. Mommy and Daddy really love this holiday, because we love being silly and dressing up. Celebrating Halloween with you meant that we were now able to take our love of Halloween to the next level: with family costumes. For your first Halloween, we decided to dress up as characters from Game of Thrones. Mommy and Daddy are big fans of the books and the show, and even though you're not going to be old enough to enjoy it for a while, dressing up as these characters meant that I got to make you a dragon costume.

I dressed up as Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons...or in my case, Dragon. I was a little worried about how you'd respond to seeing me looking so different, but you weren't scared at all! You did seem a little confused.

Daddy dressed up as Jon Snow (which I guess made Chelsea a direwolf), and we went down to the neighborhood party to see your friends all dressed up.

You're a little too young for trick-or-treating, but we did run into Ms. Karen on the way home and she gave you a special treat!

Hurwitch Family Reunion

One thing I really love about our extended family is that we have far more women than men. Men are great, don't get me wrong. But I think it's really important for girls to be surrounded by lots of positive female figures. Even if you have a brother someday, I'll think it's important for him to have this exposure as well. Your mommy fancies herself a feminist, and that means that for every influential man there is in the mainstream, we need to have just as many inspirational women. I like to think that our family helps to even that out.

You've met your aunties on your daddy's side of the family and on Daideo's side of the family, and of course you know your Auntie Sara. But last weekend, you got to meet the rest of Mimi's family. You've met your Auntie Amethyst before, but you also met her and Mimi's sister Carol, as well as their cousins Lisa and Johanna. These are very important people to your mommy, so I was very excited for you to meet them...and they were even more excited to meet you!

We kicked off our weekend at one of Mommy's favorite restaurants with Daideo and Auntie Amanda. After all, he wanted some time with his girls, too!

You demolished some avocado (per usual) and made friends with the waitress, so it was a pretty great outing. I'm so glad that you love restaurants as much as your mommy does!

Next, we met up with Mimi's family at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. You had been there a few times, but not on a day like this. It was the beginning of fall and it was beautiful!

Everyone was so happy to spend some quality time together on such a beautiful day.

We went home and picked up some caffeine Chelsea and went over to Auntie Sara's house for dinner.

It was a really nice time, especially because it was right around Mimi, Auntie Johanna, and Auntie Carol's birthdays!

We put you to bed in your pack-n-play so that Auntie Amanda and I could stay up with the grown-ups doing boring grown-up things and definitely not drinking grown-up drinks. You actually did pretty well with the transfer to your carseat and then to your crib!

The next day, we had a lazy morning and I made a big breakfast for us and Auntie Amanda. Then, we went over to Auntie Sara's again! All of your aunties babysat you so that Mommy could go to a memorial tribute performance for your neighbor, Ms. Katie. She passed away, and so it was nice to be able to celebrate her with her friends in a way that she would have enjoyed.

By the time I picked you up, I think you were tired of being so social. Overall, you did really great though! I thought it was interesting how you seemed familiar with everyone. It was as though you knew they were family! I know they're looking forward to seeing you again soon!

Ten Months Old

Please forgive the fact that this post is over a week and a half late. You have grown so big in the last month! You're an entire pound heavier (probably due to all of these new foods you've been eating), though you're still the same height (which is our family's way of growing, after all).

You've had a very busy social calendar this month. From birthday parties to baseball games, apple picking to family vacations, you've certainly had a lot of fun! You've also been busy learning new things. Now that you're practically a grown-up, you absolutely refuse to eat purées and insist on feeding yourself. This is great, because you're getting so good at eating finger foods! Sometimes you're not so into nursing anymore. Every time I think you're going to wean yourself, though, you decide you love it again. You're also saying "mama," though I don't know if it's consistent enough to count it as your first word. You only say it for me, while you say "dada" for everything from Daddy to Chelsea to the door stopper. Man, you love that door stopper. We'll see!

You like stuffed animals, but you love books. Pretty much anything is a toy to you these days, especially if it's something off-limits, like Mommy's glasses. You love to play and turn almost anything into a game. You've figured out how to drop food for Chelsea, and I think you're trying to get her to chase you, too. You've become such a fast crawler!

You love to stand and can pull to stand on almost any surface, even walls. Once standing, you're able to just hold on with one hand to support yourself, which is great because you love dancing and waving one arm around. You've started to move your hands around quite a bit. Auntie Amanda calls it "mambling," which is manual babbling. You've been slacking with your ASL, but you do sign "milk" pretty frequently...except that sometimes it actually means "milk," sometimes it means "more," and sometimes it means "Mommy." I think it just means "I want this" or "I like this" when you do it! The important thing is that you're becoming a great communicator.

You're still really loving school. Your teacher, Ms. Jean, always tells me how much you love to explore your classroom and how much you love playing with your friends. Even though you're not so happy when I drop you off, you're always happy when I pick you up. And you're pretty happy at home, too! You're always smiling and laughing, and sometimes you do this little "AHH!" noise when you're just having so much fun that it bursts out of you. We're so lucky to have such a fun kid!