lulu letters: month 12

Hi, pumpkin face.


In short, I can’t believe you. We all agree: you’re like a cartoon baby. We’ve met a few handfuls of babies this month, and you are, hands down, the most entertaining. The most curious. The funniest. The most passionate. The most joyful. The most like a fully formed human being that everyone wants to hang out with.


Oh – and you somehow mastered walking in less than a week. I don't have any photos of you standing, as you're always in motion...


Welcome to MONTH 12!!!!



9.16


Well, this morning, your dirty diaper fell off and you ate a stray piece of poop that you found on the floor. Starting this month strong.



9.17


Your first security blanket might be a mask. You can carry around one of our lanyard masks for most of the day. It’s almost funny, but not quite yet.



9.18


BIG NEWS!!!! (Drum roll please…)


YOU TOOK THREE STEPS TODAY!!!!


You have been side-stepping and kind of stepping here and there, but this was the first clear step, step, step. It happened during our 15 minutes of daily movie time, of course, so the video shows The Good Dinosaur playing in the background. Still, there’s triumphant music in the background, which lessens the blow. Most importantly, IT HAPPENED!


You’re starting to realize that it’s faster to move upright and often assume a standing position when we set you on the floor. A few mornings ago, I read you most of a board book as you stood in front of me. We’re all encouraging you, because, well, we’re deranged. In a few weeks, we’ll all be thinking, “Why didn’t we duct tape her butt to the floor?”



9.19


We had a 90-minute luxurious lunch at Boundary Breaks winery, the five of us, and you were unbelievable. You sat in your Bumbo seat, eating and observing in silence, for about 45 minutes. We are pretty darn lucky, that’s for sure.



9.20


Tonight is the first night I didn’t wear a bra to bed since before you were born. Liberating.



9.21


Some of your favorites these days:


  1. Black-eyed Susans – Your favorite flower, by far. We pass ten other species, and your eyes graze past them. But pass a Black-Eyed Susan? Forget about it. You discovered them at Mema’s house, and now every time we’re in their backyard, you clamor for them – even before they’re within eyesight. You know they’re there, waiting for your little fists to squeeze.

  2. Wind – You have always loved the wind, even from our earliest walks. I attribute it to your wild woman ways, my little thrill seeker.

  3. Reading with Mema – The past three times we arrived at the Wolff house, you reached for Mema and were quite clear about your desire to sit in the rocking chair and read books with her. When she asks you if you want to read, you immediately grow quiet with anticipation.

  4. Hugging and kissing giant Marilla Gorilla – Yes, we named her Marilla after Marilla Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables, but also because it rhymes (and there aren’t many names that rhyme with “gorilla”...)

  5. Book: Each Peach Pear Plum! – This was a magical book for me as a child, so it’s pretty magical how much you’re connecting with it these days. I ask you, “Where’s the kitty?” and you look for it.

  6. Song: The Wheels on the Bus – Mema has a book that sings five different songs in British accents, and you know them all, slowly learning the movements that go along with each one. You already twirl your right hand for The Wheels on the Bus, and it’s the song that put you to sleep tonight. I tried several – including the ever-popular Edelweiss (or “Emmylou,” as we sing) – and then thought, “I wonder…” It worked like a charm.



9.22


Today is the first day of autumn, and you are ready to move into this momentous season of your birth.


You’re so much steadier on your feet! “Scaling” walls and corners, step-reaching from the ottoman to the coffee table, even squatting! Stand, squat, stand, squat..what a smooth mover. Your legs are ready to walk when I put you down, and you like to walk with me holding your hands.


This morning, I asked if you were “All done?” with breakfast, with the accompanying sign language, and you actually flipped your right hand to do the sign! You’d think you won an Olympic Gold Medal with all the hooting and hollering that simple motion inspired.



9.23


When I ask you about the wind or rain, you know to look out the window. How do you know that?!


You’ve become quite vocal with your wants and needs. As of now, it’s short quips of “Aye! Aye! Aye!” with increasing urgency. You’re trying so hard to communicate, and we don’t always understand. How frustrating that must be. This morning, you saw a container of puffs high up on the stair railing. I put a bag over them, but, ten minutes later, you returned and quipped because you knew they were still there. Object permanence is a bitch.



9.25


You just ate a whole piece of toast, an entire kiwi, and half an avocado. Impressive.


Oh – and this morning, when I asked you, “Where’s Marilla Gorilla?” you crawled right over to her and gave her the sweetest morning hug.



9.26


You understand so much.


“Why don’t you play with your blocks?” You crawled right over to your block basket.


“Would you like some more blueberries?” You leaned forward expectantly.


. . . . . . . .


I took so many videos of you yesterday evening:


  • eating puffs in your Bumbo seat and carefully putting the ones that fell on the floor back into the little bowl you held, struggling because they stuck to your slobbery hands

  • circling your Bumbo seat, trying to figure out how to get back into it

  • taking all the Tupperware lids out of Mema’s Tupperware treasure box, then putting them all back in the box of your own volition


Mema told me you’re starting to do a form of Downward Dog and trying to stand on your own from there, without holding onto anything. Then you did it. You also straight out walked across the kitchen floor – EIGHT STEPS. Mema caught you halfway through and alerted us: “Umm..she’s walking.”



9.27


Well, darlin’: after nearly a year, I can honestly say that we have zero nap struggle. WE DID IT! CONGRATULATIONS TO US!!


I follow your lead, and it eventually happens, every day. If we try and you struggle, we try again later. But gone is the screaming and fighting and other nonsense. You’ve generally been taking one longer nap (as in, at least an hour) around 11 am, but yesterday you napped from 10-10:45 am and from 2-3 pm. And sometimes I just have to accept that you only take one 30-45-minute nap.


Bedtime is usually easy, as long as you don’t nap past 4ish. That said, I sang through all 13 verses of The Wheels on the Bus three times last night, including Papa’s new additions: “The lights on the bus go blink, blink, blink…” and, my personal favorite, “The muffler on the bus goes poof, poof, poof…”


. . . . . . . .


You love books, and I often find you sitting in your room “reading,” books strewn all around you. Maybe you’re really reading the words, who knows? I’d believe it. I already have to spell out certain words, like “blueberries,” because you know what they mean.


You love music. The three of us had lunch at Brews & Brats yesterday (complete with foot-long brats), and you sat on my lap for nearly an hour eating your lunch and listening to the Bossa Nova duo. I love our outings. You’re so curious, so content, so calm for a pipsqueak. Not sure how long it will last, but I’m certainly enjoying it now!


You love the school bus. When I hear the school bus around 6:40 am on weekday mornings, I pick you up excitedly and we watch it out roll by the window and sing “The wheels on the bus go round and round…” You stare out the window at the bus with a slight smile on your face. You get it.


You love life, and it’s infectious.



9.28


A few things that haven’t changed:


  • Your left hand, out at the ready, for whatever’s next

  • The way you sometimes refuse to settle into sleep for me – nearly there, then losing it – and Papa walks in to take over...and you’re completely calm and content pudding in his arms

  • Carrying furry friends – the monkey Mema gave you is a current fave that you might carry around for most of a day

  • Your enthusiastic slap crawls, arms hooking the air as you sally forth with gusto

  • Your stubby big toes


A few things that have evolved:

  • Toddling: You take more steps, here and there, throughout the day. I dropped you off at the Wolff house this afternoon and watched you toddle to the living room, hand in hand with Pops. That sight was every dream I’ve ever dreamed all rolled into one moment of awe.

  • A slight pickiness about food at times: You’re kind of a keto girl, loving your proteins and fats and green veggies. Tonight I gave you eggplant/mung bean “meatballs” with broccoli and rice. You downed the broccoli, but are never super interested in rice. You’re probably thinking, “But Mama, where’s the meat?”

  • Your understanding:

  • “Are you hungry? Let’s go have breakfast!” You crawl into the kitchen or toward your high chair.

  • “Would you like to read some books?” You crawl over to the chair with gusto and reach your arms up with a huge grin on your face. I can’t stand it.

  • “Can you do that?” Today I put a bowl in front of my face. Mema said, “Can you do that?”...and you did. You definitely understand this phrase, even if you’re not exactly sure how to do it. (“Can you sing? La la la!”...and you sit there with a slightly confused expression on your face: “Can I do that? How do I do that?...”)

  • Our mornings together: Much has remained the same the past few months – we get up before the crack of dawn, listen to classical music (currently having a Yo-Yo Ma moment), read some books together, maybe watch 10 minutes of a Disney movie (currently on Brave)…with small shifts here and there. For example, now, after nursing and snuggling in bed for a spell, you can’t stand it anymore and fuss to get up. I stumble out of bed, put you on the floor, and open our bedroom door a bit. You carefully pull the door open as much as you need to crawl out into the dark. “I’m ready for the day, Mama!”

  • Your cuteness factor: It continues to defy the laws of physics, growing exponentially larger by the day

  • You finally figuring out how to dismount furniture by turning around, legs first (!!!!)



9.29


Well, we broke our chain of unbroken nights. I think we both had indigestion! It has happened a few times before. Funny…I wonder if it was the same food?



9.30


Your sign for “All done” looks like the Queen’s wave: a nonchalant twirl of your wrist back and forth. Fitting.



10.1


Your fuzzy stick-up hair tickles my chin as you nurse every morning, and rubbing the soft soles of your warm feet is pure magic. Such a simple sentiment, yet those (rapidly growing) feet contain the universe.


Mema and I watched you give Lily soft kisses and pet her in the most gentle way today, your little fingers softly stroking her fur. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a baby do that. What a testament to the power of the developing brain! We have been saying, “Gentle...” and modeling ever since you could reach out and touch her, and you finally get it. We could see you fighting willpower, but you managed to hold back! Incredible.


You are walking more and more, my strong girl. Eight steps here, ten steps there...Today you played some music from your keyboard and proceeded to walk across the entire kitchen floor, your face beaming with gleeful pride as we cheered you on.


. . . . . . . .


Well, another typical evening these days: I put you to sleep, all calm and quiet (yet again, Wheels on the Bus does its magic)...but nope. After 30 minutes, I tell Papa it’s his turn. He strolls into your room and exclaims, “Hey, hey, HEYYYY! Hi, pumpkin! Let’s DO this!...Why are you crying so much?”


Silence.


It will never stop being funny.



10.2


Your love of black-eyes Susans continues, even though Mema doesn’t have any left. Yesterday we were sure you spotted the lone bright fuschia Dahlia, but you went straight for the, well, Susans. Sans petals. Just the inner black eyes. You wanted those. We picked a few and you added them to your bouquet with abundant joy, as if I’d just handed you the moon. “The petals might be gone, but they’re still my favorites!”


. . . . . . . .


I love the way you stand as you drink from your sippy cup, your butt slightly jutting out as a counterbalance.



10.4


We celebrated Pops’ birthday yesterday, you in your little French girl outfit: pale pink sweater dress and beret with white/pink ballet slipper tights. You fell in love with balloons. I’ve never seen so much glee, you holding the balloon knot and whipping it around.


. . . . . . . .


You officially prefer walking to crawling. More and drunken sailor steps every day – low squatting to stand, catching yourself before you fall...AHHHH!!!!!!


You want so much to talk, and you’re clearly frustrated by not being able to make your desires clearly known. You’ve started making a whiney “Uhh!” sound and pointing when you want something. We have to guess, and we often have to say… “That’s not for you…” I’m so sorry. Life is rough sometimes.



10.5


You gave me a hickey. On my arm. I thought it was sweet, you sucking on my arm as you fell asleep. Then I walked out to the living room and saw the hickey you left.



10.6


You’re suddenly so tall. It probably didn’t happen so suddenly, but it hit me this week. I look at you toddling around, and I see your fuzzy round head, your round Buddha belly, and legs that are elongating and losing more and more chunk. You still have those baby thigh rings when you’re sitting and ample calves that pudge out from your crew socks, but your legs look downright skinny in your tight pajamas!


Other tidbits:

  • Out: Cords...Glad to be relatively past this fascination.

  • In:

  • Garbage can: We’re currently keeping a 15-pound dumbbell on the lid, but this is as much of a pain as a lock. At least I squeeze even more bicep exercises into the day. As if I needed them lugging you and your accessories around all day.

  • Monkey music toy: A client gave this to me when I broke my arm, and I’ve cherished it ever since. It’s a current obsession. You point to it and “Uh!” away until I wind it up. You sit down and stare at it, looking up at me and smiling. “That’s what I wanted, Mama!...Isn’t it amazing?” You eventually turn to other toys, but when the music stops, you point to the monkey until I wind it again. This can go on for 20 minutes.

  • Balloons (*See 10.4 entry)

  • Picking up: This is a wonderful stage. You love to put things in baskets and boxes. Thank you.

  • Restless bedtimes: You are a madwoman.


By the way, you were the life of the party at our Mama/baby group today. As one Mama put it, “Her hair kind of matches her personality!” Your hair was sticking out every which way with little curls that are slowly gathering at the nape of your neck. Sounds about right.



10.7


You slept until 5:39 am yesterday morning and 5:58 am this morning. Yes, I always remember the exact time. But, more importantly, WHAT?! This is incredible.


. . . . . . . .


You are a little monkey – very clingy, particularly to me. You hang on my pants and whine while I try to make a meal. We play, and you fuss and crawl after me when I get up. When I pick you up, you wrap your legs around me tightly. It’s the most adorable thing. Also very challenging.



10.9


We got about four hours of sleep last night. It was horrendous. But I did get a kick out of watching you fall asleep sitting up in your crib.


. . . . . . . .


New and awesome: Less mess after meals. It doesn’t really make sense, giving your...spirited...nature, but, somehow, less food makes it onto your high chair and, usually, the floor.


New and not-so-awesome: The high-pitched, blood-curdling scream, usually on your changing table. Also, the erupting into violent tears when you can’t have something you want. Also, the restless bedtimes and subsequent tag-teaming. Most nights, I have to ask Papa to step in because 1) It’s usually faster for him, and 2) I just can’t muster anything else by that point in the day.


New and funny-slash-inconvenient: You sticking your arm down my shirt as I (*try to) rock you to sleep.


New and fun-slash-somewhat sad: Mastering walking. Literally, the past two days, here we are! You have fully discovered the joy of walking. I already miss the “slap slap slap” of your approaching crawl, but the new, uneven “thud thud-thud thud” (or, if you’re wearing your leather-soled shoes: “tap tap-tap tap…”) is thrilling, as is seeing your beaming face as you toddle into the room. (!!) Andy says your walking is very advanced for your age. I like to think so.



10.10


You continue your scientific curiosity. We tried to show you the joy of autumn leaves this afternoon, and you were more interested in the rake. Yesterday, we played with a HAPI drum, and you wanted to see the underside.


Your tagline: “How does it work?”


. . . . . . . .


Today you carried one of Mema’s lanyard masks all around the backyard. Mema said it was like me with my panda purse all over again. When I was about...two?...I had a panda purse filled with lake rocks. I insisted on bringing it everywhere until Mema and Pops finally laid down the gauntlet: “If you want to bring it, we’re not going to carry it for you. You’ll have to carry it yourself, the whole time.” So ended the travels of that furry friend.


p.s. I pumped for the last time tonight. We made it a full year, that pump and I. Yes, I spent a full year pumping golden milk for my precious baby, but...good riddance!



10.11


You slept through the night, until around 5:30 am, the past two mornings. This affirms that the crazy nights are more one-offs at this point, which makes them feel much smaller in the scheme of things.


You and I get up together most mornings. We get out of bed (I now help you turn around and get down yourself), you open the mostly-closed door far enough to crawl – now walk! – out, and we go into the kitchen. I turn on the lights, tell Alexa to turn on the corner light, then ask her to play classical music. You apparently know this routine. This morning, after I told Alexa to turn on the light, you pointed to her again. I told her to play Yo-Yo Ma, and you were satisfied.


WOW.


. . . . . . . .


You had Mema in stitches this afternoon, carrying a shopping bag high over your head so it wouldn’t drag on the ground.


. . . . . . . .


This evening, we spent some time in the garden that Papa so carefully planted and that yielded a less-then-bumper crop. Still, we made one very delicious celeriac soup and enjoyed several handfuls of green beans and cherry tomatoes. Anyway, you found one of the few remaining flowers (along with, of course, the dead and crusty Black-eyed Susans) and, after attempting to pull off a few small bunches, proceeded to yank the entire plant out of the ground, roots and all. That’s pretty much you in a nutshell.



10.12


You often have “jazz hands” as you walk – arms out the sides, palms facing out, fingers spread. Ready for action. And your post-bath naked crawling is now naked walking. I’m beside myself. You are the cutest darn thing I’ve ever seen.


I hope I never forget your affinity for holding objects as you move. Today it was a mask (not uncommon), a cloth headband (you’re partial to the polka dots, daughter of mine), and the car keys, which you do not like to relinquish when necessary.


. . . . . . . .


Your lunch today: broccoli and spinach with garlic, tofu, and avocado. You downed it.


Your dinner tonight: salmon cake, roasted fennel and mushrooms, spiced chickpeas/beets, and sprouted grain bread with cream cheese. You downed it.


Maybe you’re having a growth spurt, or maybe you don’t have your full taste faculties due to your cold. Maybe you’re simply not as picky as you were last week. Whatever it is, it’s fantastic.



10.13


It hit me this morning that we only have two more nursing sessions. That’s right: our last session will be on your first birthday. Seems momentous, no? My heart is more than a little sad, but, as Rafiki told Simba when it was time for him to ascend the throne, it is time.



10.14



You sound like Darth Vader, especially with your cold. Constant audible breathing. It was especially present as you tried to carry a huge stainless steel pot around the room. Mema tried to show me how you made a drum by banging on the pot with a plastic spoon, but, instead, you picked it up with one arm and held it high as you attempted to walk with it. Maybe not your best decision, but way to go for it. You do love your accessories – and you do love a challenge.


However, I think my favorite walking maneuver is the chicken wing arms. For whatever reason, you put your hands by your armpits with your elbows sticking out. It almost looks like you’re proud. I mean, of course you are. But those arms are too perfectly you: “Here I am, babies! Kicking ass and taking names.”



10.15


You are one year old today. When we say, "How big is Lulu?..." You throw your arms high over your head as we exclaim, "SOOO big!" You are indeed.


I think I’ll write you a letter...