lulu letters: month 8

5.20


Hello, my beautiful girl.


Here we are in month eight, and I’m not sure where to begin. So many images and sentiments float like bubbles in my brain.


I see you meeting your (great) Aunt Lisa and Uncle Frank. The look on Mema’s face as she watched her sister hold you, her granddaughter. Lisa playing hand games with you and dancing for you and doing her Donald Duck impression for you, which I thought was absolutely magical as a youngster. Your laughter with her. Uncle Frank walking into the dining room quietly to meet you. Him holding you at brunch, you tugging on his beard with wonder.


I see Tweety Bird, as Lisa so aptly dubbed you. Wide blue eyes taking everything in – always taking everything in – and your fuzzy hair with it’s constantly curled tuft at the crown. I seem to have one of those faces that looks like a lot of people and have a running tally of celebrity doppelgangers. You’re already accumulating a list of your own! So far we have a Kewpie doll, the Gerber baby, and now Tweety Bird. Too bad you’re not cute…


I see Pops’ smile on your face – your precious smile that beams in a straight line across your face, just like his. I noticed this yesterday.


I see you at Sheldrake Point Winery and Lodi Point, happy as a clam, calm as can be, until you gently insert a whine to let us know that you’re ready for something else.


I see you moving more and more quickly around your play mat. I see you sleeping on your knees with your butt in the air, some fetal version of yogic Puppy Pose.


I see you happy. So, so happy.


And I hear you! I hear the babble that started two days ago – “Blah blah blah...dah dah...blah bah dah…”


As your Papa said today, “She’s all growns up, all growns, up, all growns up!” It’s true: you’re an independent little woman, on your own at daycare today for the first time. Just you and the sweetest care provider on the planet. I dropped you off at 10:30 am, easy peasy, and I picked you up at 2 pm. It’s a whole new world, two days a week!



5.26


Hello, angel face.


So far, this month’s letters are weekly, but that makes sense. We have been up to so many adventures!


You are truly remarkable. You were such a trooper during our first family trip to visit your Grandpa and Uncle Mike! Over three hours in the car either way with very minimal fuss, and you gave us other small gifts along the way – like sitting remarkably calmly in my lap as we ate lunch in a park on the way home. We all hit a wall about an hour after arriving home on Sunday, and you were sound asleep by 6:30 pm. I wasn’t too far behind you.

Fun fact #1: You roll to your back leading with your head, and you roll to your tummy using your legs. Just today, I was thinking, “She’s so strong, my girl…” At that moment, you got your knees under you, assuming a real crawl position for the first time! Your Papa and I went berserk. One step at a time...


Fun fact #2: Your first tooth has broken through the gums, and your second one isn’t far behind. You will never be all gums again, marking my first minor grieving moment as your Mama.


Fun fact #3: We are both feeling more comfortable with the food. Yesterday you tried tofu along with your old-news broccoli for lunch and went to town. I’ve only been offering food once a day, as, frankly, the morning and evening “rushes” left little time for doing the whole food thing with you. However, you’re approaching 7.5 months, so, as the Walrus said, the time has come!


We all sat together as a family at the table last night as you enjoyed your green beans and avocado. I also offered you a few tiny bites of my chicken. It was the first time you actively reached for my finger, wanting more! My budding omnivore. Your pincer grasp isn’t quite there, but what fun to watch it evolve. I love to watch you, so focused, trying to pick up mushy chunks of food on your ezpz plate and highchair tray. As of now, you generally fist it and end up squeezing food into your mouth that way. Some of it goes down the hatch, and I offer you some spoonfuls for variety.

Someone told me recently that it’s futile to fight anything, and I have been carrying that with me, proud of us both and reminded when I start leaning into the ring. I have officially, 7.5 months in, stopped stressing about your naps – or lack thereof. The past few days were a bit shaky with a few early catnaps followed by, well, not much after that. Still, bedtime was just fine. Today you took a beautifully long two-hour nap in the morning, and it took the third try – about 3.5 hours after you woke from your first nap – for you to finally settle into your second (also long) nap. We never know what the day will bring, but we ride the waves together.



5.27


Random observations and happenings...


I bought you a new wooden toy to add to what I call our “Amish toy collection.” There are four balls – red, yellow, green, blue – that sit on top of a rectangular tower and a hammer to hit the balls into the holes so they roll down the tower and emerge in different places. You have to really whack the balls down...Luckily, you seem quite content picking up one ball at a time out of their respective holes. I marvel as I watch your dexterity, your fine motor control developing incrementally – yet in leaps and bounds – before my eyes.


You like to sleep with your hands tucked under your body. It’s the cutest. Did you know that I used to sleep like that? I did it because I was trying to make as little space as possible in case monsters came in the night. I think you do it simply because it’s cozy and feels womb-like.


You are quite the conversationalist now! No idea what you’re trying to communicate, if anything, but all kinds of fun new sounds are emerging. You babble the most when you’re playing solo – in your car seat, in your crib, and on your play mat. A lot of your babbling is brought to us by the letter D: “Dought...dough doy...dodle oat…” Papa is particularly excited about “Da da.”


Your hair is out of control in the best way, sticking straight up like a mad scientist, and it continues to lighten. Pops recently noticed how blonde your eyelashes look in the sunlight.


You saw bubbles for the first time this week. Your reaction? Spellbound. You had the most serious expression as you stared at them, barely breathing, more interested in watching Pops blow them than in the bubbles themselves. Were you trying to figure out how they worked?


You still snuggle into my neck when you’re ready to sleep. Pressing my lips to your warm fuzzy perfect-smelling head and breathing you in is almost more than my heart can hold. I want to bottle those moments and keep them forever, pulling them out when I need joy or comfort or connection or pure magic.

I have begun baby proofing. Our lives are about to turn even more upside down!


While you were at daycare, I spent the entire day cleaning and organizing and hustling my bustle – with tremendous gratitude for the ironic luxury of time to sweep the stairs and clean the toilet, among other things. (I missed you so much it hurt.) Five hours in, I asked your Papa to lift the couch for me so I could vacuum under it. When I finished, he proclaimed, “WE DID IT!”


No words.


When I picked you up, your lip quivered and you nearly burst into tears, as if to express, “Wait a minute...YOU LEFT ME?!” Luckily, I snuggled you, and you recovered quickly. While we nursed at home, Papa walked in to say hello, and you could not stop laughing! He cracked you up like never before, and we have no idea why, but it was hilarious.


Later, Mema popped by for a surprise visit before dinner, and I don’t think you’ve ever been so excited to see anyone! As soon as you saw her, you made excited “Huh!” noises and flapped your arms and legs like crazy. She crawled over to you, and you laughed so hard you almost fell over. She picked you up, and you gave her your glorious version of a hug. You are the best therapy for your Mema after her long days. Seeing your joy with her...It reminds me of what really matters in life.



5.28


As I nursed you around 4 am this morning, your left hand was tucked around me, gently stroking my side. I brought my left hand to your right, and you held it. I stroked your warm, fuzzy head, more overcome with love than I have ever been.



5.30


Hello, pumpkin face.


Wow. I have so much to write to you about! Why? Because ZIA LEAH came to visit, you met UNCLE LUKE, and you met OLLIE!!! (I call Ollie your cousin, even though your Papa doesn’t agree with that nomenclature.)


You were the happiest little bean all weekend long, playing with your Zia Leah: swinging your legs as she held your elbows on her knees, laughing hysterically every time she tiptoed toward you, wide-eyed, with her hands ready to squeeze you. You napped on her and, as she put it, “popped up like a piece of toast” when you awoke. I love how you do that. You quickly tired of her impromptu “scarf dance,” but hey: they can’t all be winners.


Uncle Luke held you, and you even kissed him goodnight on our way home one night. We were all floored.


And then...Ollie! You were beside yourself, having acclimated to Lily at this point. You had never been so close to a dog, and he was a sport and a half, nosing your face when we called him over to you again and again and again. We couldn’t help ourselves. You talked to him whenever he was close to you, and you closed your eyes and stuck out your tongue when he sniffed your face. It. Was. The. CUTEST. We all had some quality lawn time yesterday, and you tried to pull up Ollie’s fur like you pulled up the grass. Not quite, little bean, but way to try out the powers of induction!

We had our first Lodi Point gathering of the season tonight. You were a champion, as always, and enjoyed being held by so many people, including some new loved ones – Phoebe and Jacob, to name a few. You spent a long time with Dylan, playing with his hat, his beard, his face. We hadn’t seen engaging like that! What a trip. Seeing each person hold you, the first of this second family’s new generation, watching you explore them curiously...this is the stuff of which dreams are made, and we’re living in this stuff.



6.1


I took you to the Ithaca Children’s Garden today, and you were silent and serious the entire time. Depressed because it’s back to just us? Sorry about that. We’ll have more social engagements soon, I promise.


In other news…

  • Your gabs continue to grow in frequency and variety. My new favorite is what I call “loose lips” – your tongue poking in and out as you “dodle dodle oh.”

  • Papa taught you how to pull the rainbow rings off your stacking toy! You’re so smart.

And I just realized I’ve been using the same bottle nipple sizes since your birth. Oops. Needless to say, bottle feeding won’t be as torturously long from here on out – and you won’t fall asleep, which means you’ll probably eat more and maybe sleep through the night again? Zero expectations, but this is an exciting development.



6.2


First eggs today! You went to TOWN on hard-boiled egg and avocado, and I threw a few lentils in at the end – which you also devoured. Go, girl!


For dinner: chicken, lentil/carrot smush, and broccoli. I’ve never seen you so excited to stuff everything in your face. You’re beginning to really understand this whole food thing.


Just for kicks, here’s a rundown of what you’ve tried so far:


15 Veggies!

  • pea

  • carrot

  • spinach

  • broccoli

  • cauliflower

  • beet

  • parsnip

  • eggplant

  • green beans

  • asparagus

  • zucchini

  • yellow squash

  • butternut squash

  • yam (garnet)

  • Japanese sweet potato


6 proteins!

  • cannellini beans

  • lentils

  • tofu

  • chicken

  • pork (a few tiny bites)

  • egg


I think that’s it?...Quite the impressive list, if I do say so myself. Avocado is the only fruit so far, but we’re finally going to start more this week. Just you wait.



6.3


Your hair has taken on a life of its own, very reminiscent of Christopher Walken.


I’ve been spending more time with your face, especially when you nurse or drink a bottle, sleeping or close to it. Your perfectly smooth white neck and the place where it meets your jaw, under a layer of soft pudge. The soft spot of your temple, just below your hairline. Your lips...I don’t think I’ll ever believe that we made you.


You reach for me now. If you’re in your crib in the middle of the night (because we’re consistently back to at least one feeding before 6am now…), I find you on your belly, and you reach one arm up, toward me. If you’re on your play mat, and I reach for you, you lift your arms toward me. This reach is the greatest privilege I’ve ever known.


I fall more in love with you every single day. Somehow. I’m not sure how that’s possible, because I’m already at maximum love capacity. Yet I know that, tomorrow, you will have slipped even more into the tiny spaces in my heart that I never knew existed.



6.4


We think you’ll crawl any day. You rock on your knees in your crib, letting me know you’re ready for the day, ready to get moving.


Yesterday we were apart from 10-5:30. You greeted me with so many hugs, your little pudgy arms reaching toward me as soon as you saw me. We snuggled briefly before you reached down toward your playmat again, ready to move – but you were torn. I put you down, and you reached toward me again. We repeated this multiple times.



And I spend more time breathing in your warm, fuzzy head.



6.5


You’ve started doing perhaps the most perfect baby thing yet: When you’re excited and sitting down, you lean forward and flap your arms up and down to slap your legs. I can’t handle it.



6.6


I can’t wait for you to wake up every morning, and I was especially thrilled to see you this morning, because I dreamed that you fell out of your crib. Those kinds of dreams are the worst dreams for a new mama.


I asked your Papa to lower the mattress today.

You do this sucking-slash-lip-smacking thing after you’re done nursing, if you’ve fallen asleep, with your head lolled back on my shoulder, your face so peaceful. I think, “Maybe this is my favorite version of you…” but then I think about all the other versions of you – the giggling version, the kicking like a maniac version, the serious and focused with the forehead dimple version – and I can’t possibly choose a favorite, because you are just too precious all the stinking time, even in the most challenging moments.

A few exciting moments:

  1. You were reunited with Jelly Cat this morning, hugs and all. We were floored.

  2. You just bit me for the first time, on my shoulder, in your restless bedtime agitation.


6.7


The progression of you:

  • Your hair is growing longer. I really noticed it as I washed your hair last night, how the hair gathered in elongated swirls as I massaged your head.

  • You sit on your own, no problemo.

  • If you see something, you reach for it and grab it with one hand, all shapes, no problemo.

  • You’re still working on moving forward and crawling. I watch you on the monitor, rocking in your crib and pulling on the bars.

  • Your vocalizations are louder. I love to listen to you squeal and shout “Dadadadada!” in your car seat.

  • You’ve started snapping my bra straps while you nurse. No thanks.


p.s. “No Nap Lu.” Is this your new nickname? I hope not. But these past two days weren’t very promising…



6.8


You heard your first thunder this morning. I watched you on the monitor: rustling in your crib and then assuming a startled Upward Dog pose and staring out the window when the thunder rumbled. Not afraid, just startled and, as always, so very curious. You are quite the little scientist already, always trying to figure things out.


I love your old man resting face, when you’re not smiling or gabbing and your mouth forms a straight line, your cheeks extending lower than your chin.


Your locks glow golden in the sunlight, just like the magical princess you are.


And I can’t stop kissing and nuzzling you.



6.9


Hello, pumpkin.


Your hair is, dare we say, looking rather strawberry blonde these days. It’s miraculous. I’ve read so many books where characters are described as having strawberry blonde hair – even curls – and now, here you are, a living embodiment of perfection.


In less fun news...gone are the days of you falling asleep on the bottle or nursing, at least for now. Every nap and bedtime this past week has been a marathon. I finally seem to have mastered Papa’s rock-hold, but I sing and sing and sing and rock and rock and rock, and you fight and fight and fight until I move past the “I can’t do this anymore” and somehow slide into “This is amazing…I’m rocking my baby to sleep, and I must cherish it every single time…” I’m not quite sure how that happens. The song that seems to calm you the most is “La La Lu.” It’s a song that I remember hearing in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp as a wee one and thinking, “I can’t wait to sing that song to my baby someday.” So, I did. I sang it to you during our first days and nights together, and I’ve been singing it ever since. I can’t recall so many other songs, yet my mind always goes to that one.


All of the romanticism aside, at the end of the day – after doing the long sleep routine about four times – I’m ready for a glass (or three?) of wine and mindless television. True confessions right here. It’s all a balance, sweet pea.



6.10


You are so stinking close to crawling. You rock on your hands and knees, flipping up onto your toes into full plank position, arms strong, belly and back muscles basically rippling (Is it normal for eight-month-olds to have such back and ab muscles?!), squealing with glee because you know you’re so close...You move like a seal, flopping forward onto your belly because you haven’t quite figured out that you need to move your hands and your legs. This morning, your hands inched forward once or twice, and I lost it. That’s the next step!


Your energy is unparalleled. Last night, Papa, Mema, and I watched you for about 20 minutes straight, laughing hysterically as you rolled and wiggled and kicked and pumped your limbs nonstop. You already have your Papa’s energy, and I know that it will be one big adventure with you! Then again, I have a really hard time just sitting and relaxing, so I suppose you have energy from both sides.


In the food world, you continue to try new things nearly every day. Yesterday you tried oatmeal mixed with banana. You enjoyed it, but last night’s dinner wins the award so far. I mashed together chicken, asparagus, and peas – kind of like the inside of a chicken pot pie? – with a side of avocado, and you left one spoonful on your plate by the time it was all said and done. This is a record.


My greens and protein girl! Broccoli, asparagus, peas, spinach, zucchini...chicken, eggs, black beans...these are some of your favorite foods so far. I certainly ate a lot of those during pregnancy, as I do now, so it makes sense! Does that mean you’ll also love potato chips? Those were definitely a pregnancy food for me.


You’re definitely already starting to lean out, what with your constant motion and all. And Mema says that your face seems to have changed over just the past few days. She’s right! Something about it...Your lips, the shape of your face…Changing before our very eyes, becoming even more you.

I feel like everything is shifting in fast-motion these days. Movement, food...so many new things in rapid succession. The first few months, we all tried to survive. The following few months, we found our own sort of loose rhythm. This past month, everything is happening!



6.11


We have so much less laundry. PRAISE BE. You poop through your clothes now and then, but no overnight leaks for a long time, and your spit-up is rare – usually just a bit in the morning, as you can’t wait to get moving after our morning nursing session. I can’t remember the last time I washed multiple burp cloths!


You’ve learned how to bang toys together – wooden balls, plastic cups – after watching me do it. That in and of itself is pretty magical: mimicking! I know that babies start mimicking very early on, but it’s more obvious now.


You still wake up between 3-5 am every night, and I’ve had to rock you and sing you to sleep for all naps this past week. This is supposedly pretty typical for a babe your age, due to teething (I think those top chompers are bothering you lately), desire to practice greater mobility, slowly phasing down to two naps most naps, and perhaps some blooming separation anxiety? Luckily, I’ve finally found success with Papa’s technique! I no longer feel at a loss when it takes you a while to settle into sleep. I’m so proud of us, me and you.


How we will miss your “sleep position”: on your belly, butt in the air, arms tucked under you. I know that you’re good to go when I place you in your crib on your back, and you immediately assume the sleep position by rolling to your belly and wriggling your arms under your hips. It is the cutest thing imaginable.



6.12


You have a voice, and you know how to use it. The screaming seems to occur most severely when you’re overtired. You don’t sound upset, just...SO LOUD. We had dinner with our sweet neighbors last night, and you shouted your way through our tour of their home art studio/museum. You sound like a banshee, but you’re such a good sport – hanging in there past your bedtime, as long as we’re at a social event. You are always the life of the party.

Mema bought you a walker...You’re not quite sold on it yet, but you scooted backward across the kitchen floor. As with your floor scooching, backward is easier.


That said, you’ve learned how to propel yourself forward to get to toys just beyond your reach! At this point, it’s a crawl-type motion (singular) followed by a forward belly flop, arm and fingers outstretched. ANY DAY NOW!!!!



6.13


We had a festive afternoon listening to live music and socializing at Autumn View (brews and brats). You stole hearts and hung on about 1 ½ hours after showing signs of fatigue, passing out when we got home.


Did I mention that naps have been just a bit easier the past few days? Overall. In general. Not to jinx it or anything. That said, I’m looking forward to the potential end of this “eight-month regression.” So far, we always have a feed between 3-5 am, but you’ve also roused several nights for an additional one around 2 am. Not a fan, m’dear. Over it.


Side note: Because I am who I am, I now have a weekly chart of what you eat. We’re introducing one new allergen a week. This week was yogurt, and, I have to say, you don’t seem to dig that or (brown) rice at this point. Still, so far so good with allergens. Soy, eggs, and dairy: check!



6.14


Hello, my sweet girl.


As usual, I feel as though we’ve reached the end of another month and I left out so many moments and feelings and thoughts and happenings! Someday, I hope to spend more time “showing” you our lives during these times by honing in on particularly special moments – versus “telling” you with endless strings of observations. However, as I’ve already written to you, so much is going on!


I try to jot down random musings every day or so, each like a cottony dandelion fluff that might blow away at any second unless I capture it on paper. Though randomly strung together, together, they hopefully form somewhat of an abstract portrait of you – of us – right now.


  • You are learning about object permanence, which, for your developmental psychology nerd Mama, is most thrilling. You don’t seem super interested when I cover a toy with a blanket, usually sighing and turning to a different toy rather than lifting the blanket, as if you’re bored, or it’s already old news. However, when I crawl around the corner of the couch and say, “Where’s Mama?...” I see your little head craning toward me with expectation because you know where to look, and I’m greeted with a huge smile.

  • We are adding herbs and spices to foods now! Cumin, turmeric, and coriander on your garbanzo bean/green bean mash, cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice on oatmeal and fruit, basil in your first turkey burger today...You don’t seem fazed at all! May this “eat anything” phase last forever...Ha. I know it probably won’t, but I’m certainly enjoying it now!

  • You love to watch little kids, leaning forward with your studious expression.

  • I pulled out a metal bowl today and showed you how to bang a wooden spoon against it. You're a big fan of this game. Your Papa is not.

  • Here are a few physical aspects of you right now:

  • First of all, I forgot to tell you that the baby chiropractor says you’re a-okay and don’t need any more sessions! She encouraged me to keep doing a few exercises, but you’re so mobile, so I’m no longer worried. Huzzah!!

  • You’re interested in your feet again, pulling them up to your mouth and snacking on them. On your play mat the other day, you seemed to be trying to get from a sitting position to a crawling position, yanking on your feet as though you wanted to move them out of your way. As Mema voiced for you, “Why can’t I move these things out of my way?!” Sorry...you’re stuck with them. But you’ll love them when you start walking!

  • Your right toes are often curled when you sit – just the right ones. Kind of weird, but your Papa curls his toes a lot, so maybe it’s genetic? These are things I find fascinating.

  • You have the cutest puffy eyes after you wake up. (I think that's the Dutch?)

  • You seem to be teething like crazy again, hands and everything in your hands always jammed into your mouth. Sure enough, I can see at least three top teeth nubbins under your gums! WOW WOW WOW.

  • You take cups apart

  • Your ears and hair tufts glow in the morning light, just like an angel’s.

  • You seem...smaller? Maybe it’s just me? Maybe it’s because someone called you “dainty” yesterday? You must be growing, but you’ve been wearing the same size clothes for awhile now, and your face is definitely not quite as round as it was only a month ago. You must be elongating. Whatever is going on, you’re absolutely perfect. You have the cutest little head, the cutest tiny features, and...well, everything is perfect.

  • You can finally move forward! You remind me of the scene in Heidi where Clara falls out of her wheelchair and is forced to prove that she can walk. It’s slightly sad but mostly empowering.



6.15


Hello, my little button.


You are eight months old today! We have already moved through 2/3 of a year together (with you outside me).


You played with your left foot as you drank your late-morning bottle just now, and I kissed it. You smiled and puled it up again and again so I could reach it. Such a simple interaction, yet a whole new level of connection.


You have changed so much this month, butter bean, and you are so beautiful and strong and determined. As you continue to become more and more yourself, I am ever grateful for this greatest, this most miraculous gift of journeying beside you.