lulu letters: month 11

Hello, pumpkin face.


Boy, do we have a lot of fun. You are a hoot and a half, and you keep us on our toes.


To quote the very wise Ted Lasso, this is how I feel around 7 pm:


That was a roller coaster. Glad I was tall enough to join on that ride.

What a ride. Life is a jam-packed whirlwind of movement and faces and (often loud) sounds and snuggles, as evidenced by the fact that I wrote to you every day this month, with one exception. Feel free to skim if it feels ridiculously long.



8.16


You’re so smart. You know that you need to switch the hand that’s holding an animal friend or toy when I put on your car seat straps or dress you. I say, “Switch!” and you follow suit. You also pull your arms back a bit to get your pajama sleeves on, and you’ve started helping me push your arms through sleeves. So many minuscule shifts to try to capture!



8.17


You love Mema’s glasses and are quite irked when she won’t let you have them. So, Pops found an old pair of my glasses – pink plastic frames – and removed the lenses. Voila! Now you have your very own.



8.18


You have such determination. You spent the afternoon with Mema and Pops, and Mema told me how you:


  • played with Pops’ curly hair, talking to it in the same way you talk to animals

  • spent about ten minutes trying to solve the following problem: how to hold your pink glasses and a wooden ball with one hand

  • sat with the big Lion King book and turned and flipped through the pages, not ripping or trying to eat it at all

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You and your Papa have the funniest relationship. I take such care to be quiet and soothing when I go in to comfort you in your crib. He strolls in, sees you standing, says, “WHAT are you doin’?!”...and it works. You sometimes push him away if he picks you up during the day, yet you continue to love when he puts you to bed. He can always get you down faster and easier than I can! Two peas in a pod.



8.19


10 pm. 1 am. (Power went out around...2:30 am? You stayed asleep, but we woke up.) 3:25 am...until 4:18 am. We took shifts for that one. We finally brought you into bed, because we didn’t know what else to do. You nursed and fell asleep, then popped up like a piece of toast at 5:20. I’m running on four hours of sleep and will have PTSD for a long time about the worst sleep night since you were born. Our bodies are literally breaking down. I have psoriasis for the first time in my life and am losing hair as a result. I joked with the dermatologist: “I know stress can contribute...What about lack of sleep?” Not a joke.


One of my earliest poems spoke of you “fighting your way to sleep.” Why has sleep always been the enemy? Why can’t we all be friends?



8.20


We’ve watched four Disney movies together, 15-20 minutes at a time, mostly while I pump: Rava and the Last Dragon, Moana, Frozen 2, and the new, slightly strange, super-realistic version of The Lion King. I’m all about the empowered woman, which isn’t quite so present in the classics. That said, Belle was empowered and sans-cleavage, so perhaps we’ll meet her next...



8.21


Today was a dream. I can’t remember the last time I felt so at peace.


  1. Wee hours: We tried some light “sleep training”: soothing you without taking you out of your crib and without nursing. You cried, you fought, but we managed to get you back to sleep time and time again between 3:45 and 5:27 am. You then slept until 7. Though we were all up for nearly two hours, this felt like a gargantuan success. Funny how perception changes…I spent the last “shift” lying on your bedroom floor for at least 20 minutes, waiting until your post-hyperventilation breathing quips ceased. It took that long.

  2. Morning: We had perhaps the most beautiful morning ever. Zero fuss from any of us, partly because we were riding the high of the night before. We went for our semi-regular morning walk, stopping for our weekend cups of coffee (latte for Papa, decaf oat milk cappuccino for Mama). Late morning, you napped for about an hour in your crib. You usually nap on me in the carrier or in the car, so the fact that you fell asleep after your bottle and stayed asleep while I transferred you to your crib and didn’t wake up after 20 minutes?! Mind-blowing.

  3. Afternoon: You and Papa had your first real father-daughter date lasting 3 ½ hours! You went for walks, adopted a new stuffed animal friend (Brian the Lion), and were completely whooped by the time I got home.

  4. Evening: A typical evening, the three of us – dinner together, bathtime, bedtime. Is there anything better than you sleeping on me?



8.22


*Night update: You woke around 12:30 am in full standing mode. I went in and placed you on your belly. You immediately fell sound asleep and slept until 5 am. WOW! Nicely done. Papa said he heard phantom cries, which I’ve heard myself on many occasions. I’m not sure we ever reach deep sleep, always just shy of jumping into that carefree space, knowing you could wake any minute and jar us out of slumber. It must be a protective mechanism.


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Tidbits:

  • I just gave you cranberries for the first time, in your coconut yogurt and baby cereal mix. (The cereal allows you to eat yogurt more easily with your hands, as you have zero interest in utensils.) The berries were pretty sour, but, as per usual, you went to town! Definitely a messy breakfast, but worth it.

  • Your feet exploded overnight. We’re officially onto size 3! I bought you adorable shoes – one says Bon and the other says jour – but I couldn’t squeeze your fat feet into them. Alas.

  • You love playing with Papa’s superbands, and you love taking Band-Aids out of the box when I’m in the bathroom. When I forget to latch the door and find you sitting on the bathroom floor, I exclaim and you look up at me wide-eyed like you know you’ve been caught. I look at you sitting on the floor, bent over the Band-Aid box in total concentration, and I’m beside myself with joy.

  • You love crawling with objects, and your new trick is climbing with a ball. If the ball is big enough, you crawl on one knee and one foot to balance yourself out. Genius.

  • I bought you a used toy remote for $2.99. It seemed like a stupid toy until I thought about how much you love remotes. This is one of the many things I didn’t understand until I became a parent: the value of a toy I never imagined buying.

  • It’s impossible to say when you’re at your cutest, but drinking out of your sippy cup is definitely up there. You hold it in two hands and press the lid right up to your forehead, fiercely sipping for a few seconds before you come up with a gasp for air and slam down the cup to reveal red-rimmed eyes and a circle line across your forehead.

  • You always hold your animal friends in the same way: Jellycat by the arm, Wally the Whale by the tail, and Claire Hare by the ear.

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The car feels empty when you’re not with me. I look back at your car seat in my rearview mirror to see the lack of you, and I smile with uncontainable joy at the prospect of your return.


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Often, after dinner at the Wolff house, Mema carries you outside and the two of you spend quiet time in the backyard saying hello to the flowers and playing in the grass. I watch you from the window, afraid to disturb the sacred halo of love that surrounds you.



8.23


*Night update: You woke around midnight. I put you on your belly, and you immediately calmed back to sleep. You woke again a few hours later, and Papa had the same results. You woke again soon after. Though I was with you for about half an hour, you calmly let me put you back on your belly and were soothed – over and over again. This is huge. It means the last three nights were all successful, though in very different ways, and that we seem to be reaching some kind of...understanding?


I brought you into bed at 5:30 this morning. When you wake anytime after 5 am, you seem to be up for the day – or just hungry. This morning, we had a glorious snuggling session. You latched for nearly an hour as we both drifted in and out of sleep. So much of me is ready to wean by your first birthday, but how I will miss nursing in the mornings – the way you rest your arm on my other boob or rest your hand on my hand, your knees bent and feet curling in toward me, your tiny fuzzy head bobbing ever so slightly as you drink, your sweet round cheeks sucking the golden milk that my body magically produces just for you...I can feel like the walking dead and still be at peace in those precious moments of connection.


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There is something so comforting about living in a small town. We have the “Grumpy Old Men” who sit outside the coffee shop, Gimme!, every morning. We have the one visible homeless man who we always see at the recycling bin and whose eye color I might not ever know, as he never makes eye contact. We have the bookstore that’s only open “by appointment or chance.” We have our neighborhood shops – Main Street Market, Sundrees, and The Gemm Shop. We have the library we visit every so often. We have the familiar faces we pass on different streets, depending on the time of day. Welcome to our neighborhood.


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This morning, you followed my lead and tried to use the hammer to push down the wooden pegs in your new pegboard toy. You haven’t quite figured out that you can’t pull out the pegs because they’re attached to the board, but you loved the hammer action! I’ve shown you that trick many times and, for whatever reason, today was the day it clicked.


Even more thrilling, you stood solidly with feet in second position, holding one animal friend in each hand, for ten seconds straight this morning. (!!!!) You had an uncertain expression that looked something like, “Woah...what’s happening right now?!”


So much is happening, my love. So much.



8.24


You slept until 5:30 am. We snuggled in bed, you nursing in our happy place, legs curled in, bare feet on my belly, and fuzzy head tickling my chin. I have never been so happy.



8.25


You’re starting to understand how your toys work. (The first three I’ll describe are all wooden Montessori-types, but I’m not holding out in the toy department: you have a wide variety.)


  1. Shape box: Though it will be a while before you can put each shape into its corresponding hole, you easily slide the lid off. Click!

  2. Stackable rings: Yesterday morning, I demonstrated for the umpteenth time how to put the rings back on the peg. You mastered how to take them off a while ago, but you had yet to attempt the putting on aspect – until yesterday. It’s tricky, I know! Still, you held the peg in one hand and clanged a ring against it. Click!

  3. “Imbucare Box” (I have absolutely no idea why it has this name.): Just this morning, you put the wooden balls in the hole – many times in a row! Mema and I were so excited. We’ve been waiting months for that moment. Click!

  4. “Explore and Follow Me Bee”: You finally follow my direction to put the bee back on the toy in order to make it go. Click!


You have a few newer toys, including a Baby Einstein sound toy. It has six buttons, each a different color and with a different animal. It has three settings: naming the color, naming the animal, and playing musical notes. It also has three languages: English, Spanish, and French. Your favorite setting for the moment is the French colors – particularly “bleu.” The first time we explored the toy, I repeated the colors in French, and you cracked up when I said “bleu.” I never know what will tickle your fancy.


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In our Mama’s group today, you and a handsome peer named Henry played like champs and ended up in some kind of embrace with a full-on open-mouth kiss-like gesture. Us Mamas were beside ourselves. Way to jump in, sweet thing!



8.26


The Dustbuster inspires great excitement these days. Oh – and you have discovered belly buttons. Aren’t they fun?


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This morning, Veronica told me how she was talking to another child about one of his peers. He said, “Yeah...but Lulu’s cooler.” Already getting props from peers. That’s my girl!


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I hope I never forget your sounds, but I know I’ve already forgotten so many. A few favorites right now:


  • Your loud “Huhs” and “Mms” as you nurse in the morning

  • Your sneezes: “Ah-CHOO” followed by a decrescendo “Hehhh….” – like a short cool down after the exertion

  • Your LAUGH! Oh my goodness, your most intense laughter is a loud, body-shaking cackle – “Heh-heh-heh-heh-heh!” – followed by a rather abrupt cooldown – a breathy “Hehhhh” – before you snap back into a straight face until the next explosion


And your full-face grin. Dare I forget that piece?! It stretches across your entire lower face, teeth together, chin up. You’re a total, toothy ham already. You must be my daughter.



8.27


You are officially a COVID baby: you love to play with masks. It’s hilarious and sad.



8.28


*Night update: We broke our “sleep straight through until 5+ am” streak. Ah well.


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Like Mema and Zia Leah and Papa, one of your eyes is slightly smaller than the other, as if maintaining a steady undercurrent of assessment.


Still, you look so much like your Grandpa Bill these days. Even more Dutch with those lidded eyes and beautiful tulip lips...And it’s no surprise you turn the color of a tomato when you’re hot: you get that from both sides!



8.29


You are the baby version of Cyndi Lauper – or how I imagine Cyndi Lauper in her ball-of-fire heyday. You rally like no other and always go along for the ride – from baking outside when we have the gall to leisurely sip wine on an 85-degree day with 85% humidity to driving 40 minutes to a place we stay for about 30 minutes before packing up again to squeezing in a nap en route or on Zia Leah between continual activities.


Your patience is far higher than mine.


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You are officially a performer. I’ve already mentioned that toothy “fake” grin, which you know garners attention. You now love to play your tiny wooden piano for us, standing hands-free as you alternate which hand bangs the keys, your hips gyrating like Elvis. When you finish a piece, you plop down and start clapping with your audience. You’ve also started clapping whenever I exclaim, “Yay!” after a worthy accomplishment – like putting your stacking cups inside one another for the first time or turning toward the respective person when we say, “Where’s Papa?” or “Where’s Mama?”


So much clapping.



8.30


*Night update: 7 pm - 5:38 am. Straight. Possibly the most rested I’ve ever felt upon waking.


You clearly understand, “Do you want to read a book?” You hustle your bustle over to me and “Eh eh eh!” your way into my lap. Your current favorite book, by far, is Goodnight, Gorilla. What about this book captures the attention of youngins? My graduate school buddy, Andrew, went wild for it as a more mature 1 ½-year-old. When we get to the page where the zookeeper’s wife realizes there’s a gorilla in her bed, you flap your arms and hit the book with glee as we exclaim, “GET OUT OF MY BED!” The rest of the book goes by quickly as you flip manically through the pages, tolerating our brief descriptions. You know what’s coming, and you just want to get there!



8.31


I took you to physical therapy for the torticollis that your dad isn’t worried about at all because he can’t see it. I see it, and helping you balance out is how I love you as a mama. It’s the only way I know. So, whether or not it’s helpful, there’s no harm, and it offers information and peace of mind. I hadn’t noticed that your “go to” is to stand leading with your right foot, or that you prefer putting weight on your left side as you reach with your right hand. My job this week is to help you practice the opposite.


As you pulled yourself up to the large mirror and lifted one leg, just to try it out, the PT said, “This age is the most fun in terms of rapid gross motor development. ‘What happens if I do this?’...” At one point, she exclaimed, “Wow. She is bu-SY!” That’s an understatement.


The highlight of the session was when you leaned in and kissed your reflection. (See photo.)


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I stroked your tiny hand as you slept in my arms before bed and pocketed the moment. Then I gently rubbed your fuzzy head, and you swatted my hand. So much for the magic.



9.1


I tried some “guided movement” as per your PT, but, woman, it is challenging! Help you switch which hand you use to reach for a toy? Ha. Right. Especially when you’re holding at least one furry friend in your left hand 90% of the time. Still, I’ll keep trying.


In other news, you have your first significant cold. Your breaths, gasping, are the most pathetic sound I’ve ever heard, and your red, snotty nose, the most pathetic sight. My first thought was, “I hope it’s not COVID.”


This is our brave new world.


9.2


You maul my face throughout the day now, and it turns me to hot fudge every time – even though you’re super sick and smear your boogered nose and mouth all over my face. If anyone ever asks you to define love, that’s how you do it.



9.3


This morning, I rolled a ball to you, then held out my hand and said, “Can you roll it back to Mama?” You handed it back to me. Click.


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This afternoon, I gave you a COVID test. The woman at the testing site said, “Swab for about ten seconds in each nostril.” I looked at her like she had just asked me to write calligraphy with a cooked noodle. After a few long seconds of my vacant stare, she followed up with, “Does she have mucus in her nose?”


“Yes.”


“Great. You just have to get mucus on the swab.”


“There might be some sweet potatoes in there, too…”


I had to pull over to the side of the line and get out of the car – special VIP treatment for swabbers of wee ones. I found the movie of you meeting the goats and went for it. You were a champ, of course, allowing me to swab both nostrils with a mere “Oo, that’s oddly tickly…” expression.


Mothering in times of COVID. Five stars for both of us.


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This evening, you fell sound asleep for the first time in days. No surprise after a one (morning) nap day. As I rocked you, I thought about how many people meet you and exclaim, “Those eyes!” I also thought about the pathetic moment at dinner when you must have bitten your lip or finger. You paused for a split second before erupting in a banshee cry. Oof. That’s a tough lesson to learn.



9.4


We hear you cough in your sleep at night and cheer you on from the couch. You got this, pumpkin face.


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I think I’m finally done tracking all your meals in my DIY chart. It was a good run, but you’ve tried all the main allergens, and I feel confident letting go of this piece. Someday, if Google Drive is still around and not lost in the Cloud forever, I’ll have these priceless gems to look back on. Or, more likely, I’ll find the spreadsheets and question my state of mind.


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It’s 7:18 pm, and, for some reason far beyond my comprehension, I have energy. We’ve been up since 5:20 am, you and I, and you took all of one 30-minute nap all day. You weren’t even grumpy! Just a happy-spirited Energizer Bunny. You can now open doors, and we don’t always remember to leave the bathroom door completely shut. You also love opening the garbage can. Needless to say, it’s constant.


Here’s a rundown of the day:


  • Morning together until Papa stumbled out of bed at 7:30 am – playing, watching 10 minutes of Finding Dory (until you became more obsessed with the remotes, as always happens about 10 minutes in), breakfast

  • Long family walk w/ Gimme! coffees in hand

  • Mama-Lulu playtime while Papa worked, followed by another walk in which you fell asleep for all of 30 seconds, awakened by voices in the post office

  • FaceTime with Zia Leah!!


*At this point, we’ve already been up for six hours.


  • Lunch

  • Family outing to Cornell Arboretum, with a few errands on the way home

  • Mama-Lulu playtime while Papa worked, including some water play outside and as many other variations on a theme as I could think of using the same old toys

  • Dinner

  • Bedtime routine: bath, book, bottle, BOOM. You passed out.


By the way, somewhere in the past few days, you sprouted a new tooth!! Lower left guy, a little wonky, right next to the two lone soldiers. When did that happen?! Ninja tooth.



9.5


We visited with Dan and Clive this afternoon, and you entertained yourself for about three hours. It’s remarkable. Other than Mema making you cry when she took a flower out of your hands after you tried to stuff it in your mouth three times, you were happy as can be in your diaper, pink shoes, little French girl black and white striped shirt, and camel-colored faux fur vest. What a sociable fashionista.



9.6


I won’t miss pumping, but I’ll miss nursing – and knowing you’re still getting magical milk from my body. That said, the countdown continues. One more month, my little bean.


You seem pretty neutral about milk in general. Food is much more interesting! You kick your legs with anticipation every time I put you in your highchair, lifting your arms so I can slide in the tray and staring wide-eyed at your meal, giving it a once-over before diving in. Yesterday afternoon, you ate an entire peach. Mema could barely cut it up fast enough to keep up with your little pincer grasp stuffing multiple pieces at a time into your perfect little tulip mouth as you huffed noisily through your congested nose.


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As we read Goodnight, Moon tonight, I asked, “Where are the kittens?” and I swear you looked for them in the room and pointed at them. You didn’t do it again, of course, but once was enough!



9.7


You are so strategic about everything. As busy as you are, you’re not impulsive – always trying to figure out how to do something, how something works, how to discover something new. This morning, you patiently worked on holding four animal friends in one hand, and you succeeded. Sometimes we need a lot of support as we crawl.


I made you falafel today, with shallots and garlic and parsley...and you ate two good-sized patties, along with the green beans, carrots, and Brussels sprouts. Unreal.


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Time keeps moving forward, as it does. I sadly packed away some fancy summer dresses you only wore once or twice because they inconvenience a woman constantly on the go. My milk is waning, as is my boob size. It feels strange to slowly morph back into what kind of was before you, as if my body didn’t get the memo that everything is different now, forever. I’m returning to a familiar place, and I’m already nostalgic for the fleeting shifts.


Yes, time keeps moving forward. You’ve started bouncing to music with your elbows bent outward and palms up as if thanking Jesus for music. You also fully understand the meaning of, “May I have a kiss?” I asked you that yesterday morning, and you dropped the book you were reading, climbed into my arms, wrapped your arms around me in a hug, and laid a big one on me. You are my love.



9.8


Your comprehension exploded this week. You understand so much of what we ask and have started copying what we do. Yesterday, Mema showed me your new game: she built a tower of interlocking blocks, and you removed the top block and put it back on the tower. If I show you how to put toys in a basket, you follow suit. Witnessing your daily “clicks” is truly an honor.


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You have developed an affinity for flowers, and you’re less prone to stuffing them in your mouth. You’re perfectly content holding a flower or two for an entire stroller walk. The flowers look like they’ve been through a war zone by the end of the walk – or rather, they look well-loved.


I looked back at you in the car today, and you had your hand up in a high-five position. I said, “Are you waving? Hello!” and waved. You had already put your hand down but lifted it again when I said that. Is that the beginning of a wave?!



9.9


Every time you play with your shoes, I’m reminded of Sweeney Todd singing about his shaving razors:


These are my friends

See how they glisten

See this one shine

How he smiles

In the light

My friend!

My faithful friend!


I used to choose shoes based on the sound they made. I would pick up a shoe and hit the sole against the floor until I heard that perfect tap. Ironic that I never learned how to walk in high heels.


Perhaps you’ll be a shoe designer. Or a florist? Maybe you’ll make shoes made out of flowers or grow flowers in the shape of shoes...


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You always want to be part of it. Whenever I pick you up from Veronica’s, you start gabbing at us as we talk. Are you trying to tell me all about your day, beautiful girl? I can’t wait until I can understand!


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Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. (Lao Tzu)

I had this quote, from a Yogi tea bag, taped to our corner kitchen cabinet in Manhattan throughout our fertility journey. I opened it early on and considered it a perfect pocket friend. I opened it again in another Yogi teabag soon after you were born and taped it to our current corner kitchen cabinet.


I recently opened it again in yet another Yogi tea bag. The point? Yes, I drink a lot of Yogi tea. ALSO...it’s a message I always know I need to hear.



9.10


You’ve started putting toys in things – in baskets, in boxes…Big stuff. You can also officially throw a ball with two hands! We played with my blue Pilates ball for nearly half an hour this morning. Dropping it and letting it bounce elicits the biggest smiles from you. You look up at it in my hands, so high, your face full of wonder, then crawl over, climb over my legs, and try to grab it. You toss it, roll over it, I bounce it off your head...As Papa says, “Babies are really just playthings.”


You are so full of joy – happier and happier. Even your sleep relationship is slowly evolving for the better. One of your favorites these days? Clapping. All it takes is for someone else to start clapping, or say, “Yay!” and you're off to the races. You get all flustered and drop whatever you’re holding, sometimes setting yourself off balance and nearly tipping over as you join in. You know the power you have: “I clap, they all clap.” We clap a lot.


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I can’t stop kissing you. Your cuteness factor continues to increase exponentially, as does your entertainment factor. Papa said last night, “This is my favorite age so far. She’s not only developing a personality, she’s also developing a sense of humor!”


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Mema laughed so hard describing how she wrangled you into your pajamas before bed. It is truly a full-body workout, trying to get your diaper on as you wiggle and squirm, then trying to get all four limbs into your pajamas and zip you up as you roll and crawl and sit and stand and manically reach for any and all toys in one last hurrah before we reach the point of no return: the chair.



9.12


You say, “Mama” now! I’m not sure you know what you’re saying, but I’ll take it! You do recognize the names of your animal friends. I spotted Jellycat on the way out the door yesterday and exclaimed, “There’s Jellycat!” You followed my gaze and said “Uh uh uh!” with urgency when you saw your cozy (slightly mangy now, let’s be honest) companion. Amazing.


Last night confirmed that your first clear words are “All done!” As we sat around the Wolff dinner table, you continually proclaimed, “Na na na!” When I asked you if you were all done, with accompanying sign language (we’ve only done “All done” and “More” consistently), you put your hands up in the air to mimic me. We all cheered and clapped. What a proud moment.


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We saw what I deemed a “Mother Earth” Mama at the Farmer’s Market this week. She carried her new babe in one of those wrap-sling things that I never mastered. Eight days old. I couldn’t even walk to the mailbox without peeing myself eight days after your birth, and here she was in tall brown leather boots, wide-brimmed hat, and batik wrap skirt, peaceful and glowing and full as the moon. Part of me wishes I could be that Earth Mama: calm and flowing and slow and steady.


For better or worse, I’m more Type A. Like your Papa, subliminal energy vibrates within me most of the time. I have a hard time sitting still, and even when I can, my mind is racing with seventeen different things I want to cross off my ceaseless list. I have six Google tabs open right now. Last week, I finally had an entire afternoon to sit on the couch and read, and I lasted an hour before I got up and proceeded to cook three things for you simultaneously. It’s madness. There’s not a whole lot of floating around going on. But there’s so much joy and so much love and so much constant output toward you, my Lulu.


We got the most amazing baby on the planet: feisty and curious and analytical (not something I ever thought I’d see in an 11-month-old…) and, as your Papa put it, “so generous with her love.” You are all snuggles lately, mauling me, mauling Mema, climbing all over your Papa and Pops, and blending our hearts into sweet smoothies.



9.13


*Addendum to yesterday’s “All done!” interpretation… “Na na!” seems to generally mean “I want…” You use it when, for example, you want out of your high chair, a phone you see, or flowers. Walks now require flowers, and you actively scan to spot them. On our walk this morning, you “Na na na”d every flower you saw, even though you already had a fistful. When I removed that fistful of flowers after your third attempt at eating them, you lost it. You screamed and squirmed and spouted actual tears. We tried again, and you beamed as soon as you held a new flower in your hand. Mema says, "I've created a monster." Still, a flower monster sounds pretty harmless as far as monsters go.


Yes, “Na na!” seems to be your way of expressing, “HellOOO! Listen to me! Someone pay attention! I have something to say!” We hear you, m’dear. We hear you loud and clear.


We also hear you when you throw your first version of a temper tantrum, arching your back and screaming when you can’t have something you want. Life is hard, but yikes, woman.



9.14


I bought you a gorilla. A huge, stuffed gorilla larger than you. You were slightly unsure, but mostly smiled when I introduced you to your new friend. After a few minutes, you played with his foot as if thinking, “Huh. I wonder if I can carry this friend around…” A few minutes later, you gave your new friend some kisses, and I eventually caught you putting blocks in its lap. You’re so nice to share.


You’re also so nice to greet people you love with joy. When we FaceTimed Zia Leah this afternoon, you smiled and started clapping all on your own. Talk about making someone’s day, pumpkin face!


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You always know what you want. Or don’t want. Sometimes I offer you something – a toy, a book, a random household object – and you toss it to the side. Do all 11-month-olds do this? It seems a distinctly 2-3-year-old response…


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You stand more and more on your own. This morning, you stood and drank support-free from your sippy cup for the first time. This evening, you stood for as long as it took Papa to slow count to 20. You can take many steps just holding one of our hands, and you’ve taken tiny steps/almost-steps on your own. So close…



9.15


Hello, my sweet love. You are 11 MONTHS OLD today. I remember our early months together and how 11 months seemed like a tiny, brilliantly-colored dot on the horizon. Why 11 months? I suppose because it’s the runner-up to the Big Kahuna, and, therefore, just slightly less of a marvel.


You are your father’s daughter in so many ways. I imagine that he was just like you at your age: a curious scientist with boundless energy.


I also see hints of me in, for example, your affinity for books, music, and vegetables. I am also there in your burgeoning particularity. I see my patience-fused future as I watch you carefully arrange flowers in your hands, slowly wrapping your thumb around one at a time, right side up, as you add it to your bouquet. Today I stood for a full minute as you untangled a mask string from your car seat and got just the right grip on it in the hand that also held Wally the Whale's tail. Only at that point did you raise your arms to let me know you were ready to get out.


You are certainly cut from our determined, passionate, independent cloth. You know what you want, and you do all in your power to get it.


As for the “big three,” here’s where we are:


  • Sleep:

  • Naps are slowly consolidating. Most days, you take one midday nap, at least one hour long. It’s not much, but it’s pretty consistent, and it means that you pass out for bed at night, which is a beautiful thing!

  • Bedtimes have been 90% smooth sailing as of late. What a gift. That said, some nights you fuss and writhe and simply won’t have it. I hand you over to your Papa, and you’re asleep within about five minutes. I guess you just want him sometimes. He has a new idea for a children’s book: “Goodnight, I love you.” [to you] “Good luck, I love you.” [to me]

  • The past few months have brought some very challenging nights, to say the least, but you’ve been sleeping through the night much better this week! You often go back to sleep relatively easily, unless it’s 4:30 am or after. Then there’s no going back unless I bring you into bed and hope you’ll take one more catnap before popping up like a piece of toast for the day.

  • Food:

  • We are down to one bottle per day (before bed), along with one early morning nursing session and two sippy cups of milk throughout the day. I’ve even started weaning you down from a big bottle before bed, adding a few ounces to dinner and offering only four ounces later. I’m so proud of how well you’ve adjusted.

  • You continue to devour pretty much anything I give you – from corn tortilla quesadilla with collards and shallots to homemade falafel and salmon cakes to banana with crushed pistachio. Some of your favorites these days:

  • Tomatoes. Tomatoes nearly every day this summer.

  • Meat. Beef, turkey, salmon, yum.

  • Eggs – especially hard-boiled

  • Fruit! You’re finally on the fruit train, and you love it all.

  • Veggies – broccoli, peas, and carrots continue to be big hits, but you eat it all. You like yams more than you used to, and you even love eggplant.

  • Dairy. Yogurt, cheese, cream cheese…


Okay, you kind of love it all.

  • Poop:

  • Just kidding. I’ll spare you. In short, impressive.

. . . . . . . .


Years ago, I pocketed this line from Diane Keaton’s memoir, Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty:


I regret what I haven’t seen, but I’m thankful for what I have, and I promise myself this: I will try harder to look for what I don’t see when it’s staring me right in the eye.

I no longer fear losing pieces of you. First of all, I’ve already written a War & Peace-length “snapshot” of our first year together – not to mention the letters I wrote to you before you emerged from my belly. But more than that, I know that all of you is with me, in me, forever – every movement, every look, every sound, every touch, every moment carved into my bones, flowing through my veins, encapsulated in my cells. Because you are my Lulu.


If I had to summarize this month in one sound, it would be the quiet sing-songy sighing noise you make when you nuzzle in and hug me. Followed by a banshee scream. Together, these sounds are joy. Relief. Acceptance. Gratitude. A letting go.


Home.


I love you, sweet Lulu.