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Almost Two.

Dear baby girl,

Here we are, almost 22 months in. But I no longer speak in months — I say “almost 2” or “she’ll be 2 in November” to those who ask.

School has started and we are in the “dog days” of summer, soaking up every last day of sunshine and warmth until cool, crisp days of fall settle in. While we will still be able to enjoy being outside on the weekends, pretty soon the days will be short and the evenings will be spent attempting to burn your energy indoors before winding down for bed.

Energetic. That’s one word I would use to describe you these days. You are constantly on the move, whether walking, running, climbing or even dancing. As you would say, you like to “Go go go” and it’s never a dull moment with you. Whether we are playing at the park, going for walks together or dancing in the kitchen, we are finding ways to be active and burn off your loads of energy.

Talkative. You continue to amaze me with your rapidly expanding vocabulary. You speak in full sentences these days, ranging from “Thank you, Mommy!” to “Daddy takes a shower; Hannah takes a bath.” What amazes me more is your ability to comprehend even more than you speak. I can tell you understand most of what I am saying to you, and you continue to ask me “Wa-wa” (What’s that?) so you can learn more about the world around you.

Curious. You’ve always had a desire to learn about and see what’s going on around you. You have a natural curiosity to know what Mommy and Daddy are doing, and you want to be a part of it. You want to know everything and everyone around you. You are an avid people watcher, and once you overcome your initial shyness of meeting people, you will talk to anyone. You want to learn names and love to tell me about your friends at daycare and in the nursery at church.

You have such a zest for life these days, enjoying so many things. Here are just a few of your favorites (cue Julie Andrews):

Going to the park. You love the swing (aka “sing sing”), going down the slide and constantly being on the move. You are asking on a daily basis if you can go swing at the park. And if the weather’s great, how can we resist?

Elmos and monkeys. You just recently started watching TV, and it seems to be on a pretty regular basis that you are asking to watch Elmos (Sesame Street) and monkeys (Curious George). You don’t typically watch much during the day, but it’s really cute to see you get excited and dance along to the music of your favorite shows.

RIce Krispies (aka “Krissies”) are your number one food request. A close second: bars. Granola bars and breakfast bars. Your love for Cheerios is slowly fading and being replaced by other breakfast foods. Yet you still won’t eat eggs. Maybe someday. Your favorite dinner menu item is still spaghetti (aka “sketties”).

Balls in all shapes and sizes. Since a young age you have loved playing with balls – small ones you play with indoors and larger ones you play with outdoors. Your daddy and I invested in a basketball hoop that you’ve used a few times, but you mostly just enjoy rolling and throwing them around, or simply holding them in your hands. Sometimes you like to play the game of seeing how many you can hold at once. I think your personal record is four. 🙂

Puzzles (aka “pubbles”). You have gotten really good at putting together your favorite Elmo and Big Bird puzzle, plus you enjoy a few that grandma gave you when she recently visited. You like to do your “pubbles” just about every day.

Affection. You are full of affection and love giving hugs and kisses to Mommy and Daddy. You even blow kisses to others and hug your friends. One of your favorite things to do these days is hold hands with both Mommy and Daddy when we are walking together. I love the affection you share – it makes me feel so loved and that I’m doing a good job at showing you love as your momma. More than anything, I want you to be secure in my love for you, for you to know that you are so incredibly loved by me and your daddy.

We’ve seen so many changes in you in just the past few months —  I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

With love,

Momma

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Mom life with a 15 month old

Dear baby girl,

I don’t know when it happened, but I feel like I blinked one day and stared at you, realizing you are no longer a baby, but rather a walking, talking toddler.

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And I couldn’t be more in love.

While a small part of me misses the snuggly newborn stage, this age is so much fun. You’re no longer just a baby for me to hold and care for, you are becoming your own person for me to interact with, and your personality is starting to shine.

You are such a happy baby – er, toddler. Unless you are sick or teething, your general disposition is always full of smiles and laughs, and you love giving hugs. I recently taught you how to blow kisses, so now you enjoy blowing kisses at momma and daddy, or even during mealtime, which makes for a fun cleanup.

One of your favorite games at the moment is peek-a-boo, and you will hide behind the curtains in the living room, pop out and yell “Boo!” before running into my arms, smothering me with kisses. It is pretty much my favorite thing ever.

You seem to be absorbing and learning a lot these days. You can speak quite a few words beyond your adorable baby babble, from momma and dada to shoes and boots to go, hi and bye. You’ve finally got the waving thing down, too. Sometimes you’ll wave towards yourself. 🙂

The other night we were playing and discovered you knew way more than we realized. Your daddy and I would ask you where certain toys were, and you easily would grab your different animals and toys, bringing them to mommy and daddy. You’re also starting to learn different body parts, pointing out your nose, belly, ears and hair.

It is so much fun to see you discover all these new things about yourself and the world around you, and I couldn’t be more proud. I know that every child learns things at a different pace, so even though you seem to be catching on to these things quickly, I’m sure that means something we’ll really want you to learn quickly – like potty training – is going to be a battle. Ha.

It’s been a crazy past couple of months, as I recently had surgery on my foot and couldn’t walk for about four weeks. Your daddy did a good job taking care of us, even though we spent about six weeks taking turns being sick. At least one of us was sick between Christmas and now! I am thankful we are all on the mend and close to the end of cold and flu season. Even though I am still wearing a boot on my foot to get around, things are getting back to “normal” around here – as much as they can be with a toddler!

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Although it’s not nearly as quiet around here as when you were a baby, I wouldn’t trade this stage for anything. Every age has its challenges, from sleep deprivation to teething to mealtime madness, but every age also has its rewards. Watching you learn and discover the world, seeing your adorable little personality shine and experiencing your love as my daughter are what brings me joy each day. It is a blessing to be able to love you and be your momma.

With love,

Momma

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Life lately: 8 Months

Dear baby girl,

Its hard to believe that summer is already starting to wind down and we’re approaching back-to-school season. (And the Iowa State Fair!) We’ve enjoyed a pretty mild summer, with just a few days of blistering heat. We have taken advantage of the warmer days and taken you swimming, and on the cooler days we take a lot of walks.

After a big milestone month in June, from starting solids to sitting up on your own to scooting around, I thought things might slow down a bit this month. A few weeks ago we hit another sleep regression as you started to fight naps and bedtime, which made me think another milestone might be near. Sure enough, just a couple weeks ago, in the midst of a bedtime battle, your daddy and I found you standing in your crib. I went from frustrated to proud momma in a matter of seconds!

The month has been filled with a lot of excitement, family and friends. Over 4th of July weekend we road tripped to Davenport so you could meet your new cousin Landon, who was born just a couple days before. He is such a little sweetie! You also caught up with his big sister Sophia. You two are definitely going to be great friends when you’re older!

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You and your cousin Sophia

After spending the first day of the weekend with your daddy’s family, we continued on to the Chicago area where you got to finally meet your cousins Ethan and Brennan for the first time.

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You and your cousins Brennan and Ethan

It was fun to watch you play together and see your Auntie Katie and Uncle Brad’s new house. It was a short visit, but we had a lot of fun. We’ll get to see them again in a couple weeks at my cousin’s wedding. A lot of my family is looking forward to meeting you!

After our Chicago visit, we returned to Davenport for the last day of the weekend before heading back home. We’re planning a weekend for your grandma to come visit us here again soon. She misses you so much already!

Just two weeks after that road trip, you and I headed west to visit my lifelong best friend Andrea, who was just a couple hours from us visiting her brother. We hadn’t seen each other in three years, so it was fun to see her, catch up and meet her youngest daughter Joelle, who turns two in just a couple weeks. You enjoyed playing with her as well. You like making new friends!

This weekend was a little more low key, filled with swimming, taking walks and playing. Oh, and of course, you were practicing your new standing skills! You’re starting to grasp crawling but haven’t quite mastered it yet. I imagine we’ll be seeing that happen in just a matter of weeks. It’s crazy to see just how quickly you learn and develop over such a short amount of time. I’m one proud momma and love seeing you grow and discover the world around you. I look forward to the adventures the next month holds!

With love,

Momma

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Not-so-new momma.

Dear baby girl,

I’ve been at this gig for over half a year now, so I feel like I can’t pull the “I’m new at this” excuse quite as much as I did before. It took a while to get to the point where I was like “I’ve got this” (and some days I still wonder!), but I’ve got to admit, I’m starting to feel like I know what I’m doing. You’re probably glad to hear that!

Being your momma is both the best and most challenging job I’ve ever had – no matter what each day brings, all of it is worth the joy of seeing you grow and thrive. Six months is a big milestone, and I am loving this stage. Every age has been fun: from tiny, snuggly newborn to chatty and newly mobile baby to 6 months and ready to be on the move, it has been an adventure to see you grow.

Here are some of the highlights of life lately:

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Sitting up like a big girl and enjoying the fresh air

Baby on the move. One of your favorite activities is to roll over, back and forth, every which way imaginable. I have found you in every corner and position in your crib, and you always manage to roll off of the giant blanket we have spread across the living room floor. Once you figure out crawling, we’re in trouble! I can tell you’re already starting to work on it, as you’re bringing your legs underneath you and are getting up on your knees.

Sitting up. You’re not quite sitting up on your own yet, but with practice we are getting closer. I think it will be just a matter of weeks until you’ll be sitting up by yourself like a big girl. You like practicing in your bumbo chair and with a little assistance from me or your daddy.

Eating solids. We haven’t given you solid food yet, as we want to wait until you are sitting up on your own. When we took you to your six-month checkup last week, your doctor said he agreed and encouraged us to feed you solids when we think you’re ready. For now you are still only eating breastmilk and seem perfectly content continuing to do so. I am excited to try solid foods but want to wait until I know you are ready.

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Enjoying a babywearing walk!

Big girl. You’ve more than doubled your birth weight and now tip the scales at a whopping 13.5 lbs. You’re in the 7th percentile for weight and 69th percentile for height at 26.5 inches long. You’re a healthy, tall and skinny baby girl!

Sleeping soundly. It was a rough past couple months of waking up more frequently than what we were used to (which was still only 1-2 times a night) after going swaddle free, but all of a sudden this week you started sleeping through the night again with stretches of 8 to almost 11 hours. I am enjoying this while it lasts!

Walking it out. One of your favorite things to do lately is be outside. The increase of sleep this week has also brought with it an increase in fussiness (I think we’ve hit a growth spurt!), but what has calmed you down the most is going outside and exploring. You especially love babywearing walks with Momma as we walk around the neighborhood. Tonight you met a few neighbor doggies, and you were just fascinated by them!

The best part of this age is being able to interact with you and see your personality shine. You are becoming one strong and determined baby girl, just like your momma. 🙂 It has been an amazing six months – time has gone so fast! I look forward to celebrating many more milestones and seeing you continue to grow and change each day.

With love,

Momma

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Milestones.

Dear baby girl,

We had quite an eventful weekend celebrating your first Easter!

Your grandma and Uncle Brian came to visit, which included lots of food, shopping and being spoiled silly by Grandma. We miss them already and look forward to seeing them again in a couple weeks for Brian’s graduation.

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In your Easter dress at church

It’s always fun having family visit. We don’t have any family in town, so it’s always a special time when we get to see each other. You get so excited, you don’t even sleep! Two weekends in a row, two grandmas and a baby that doesn’t want to nap make for one tired momma.

Throw minimal napping, multiple night wakings and teething into the mix and you would think you would be a pretty unpleasant baby. Surprisingly, you are one happy little girl with very minimal fussing. You slept better last night after the weekend, and you took two long naps today to make up for it, too. Just like a college student. 🙂

I can also tell there is a lot going on in that little brain of yours. You’re trying to sit up, get on your hands and knees, and of course, you are rolling over like it’s your job. And, we officially transitioned you out of the swaddle last week, which could be adding to the mix. So many changes in your world! You’re growing up so fast – I can’t believe you’re already 5 months old!

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5 months old!

It has been fun to see you hit so many milestones and discover new things. Some big milestones to note:

Smiling. You first smiled when you were about 6 weeks old. I’ll never forget the first time you really smiled at me because you were genuinely happy to be with me. Heart. Melted. Now, you smile all the time and it still melts my heart.

Rolling over. You rolled over from belly to back for the first time right when you turned 3 months old. You decided to wait a couple more weeks before doing it again. Then, not long after turning 4 months you finally figured out rolling from back to belly. You were determined to figure it out!

Finding your voice. You also learned you could “talk” at 3 months old. Though it is mostly babbles, coos and grunts, it is pretty much the cutest thing ever. You also recently discovered how to screech at the top of your lungs. Not so cute.

Your toes. Just a couple weeks ago you realized you have feet, and now you can’t seem to let them go! You love to stick them straight in the air – whether you are in the carseat, on the changing table or even in the bath. It’s like you are trying to kick already, our little mini soccer player in the making.

Your hands. Like many of your milestones, you found your hands at 3 months old. You’ve really been going to town chewing on them for the past few weeks since you started teething!

Sleeping through the night. We’ve been pretty lucky that you’ve been a good sleeper from the beginning. For a long time I was waking to feed you to make sure you were gaining enough weight. You may have slept a longer stretch sooner, but the first time you went 10 hours was at 4 months old. The longest stretch you had previously gone was about 7 hours at 2 months old, which has been your average amount of sleep for the past couple months. You wake to eat and then go back to sleep for a couple more hours.

As I mentioned earlier, more recently you have been waking in the middle of the night multiple times, which has been a rough adjustment after being used to longer stretches of sleep! I think this has been because of so many changes in your world, from teething to growth spurts to hitting developmental milestones like rolling over. You’re becoming a big girl way too fast!

While I am sad to see how quickly you are growing, I am also incredibly proud of you and how much you have learned these past few months. It is fascinating to see your development grow and change each day. Seeing you discover yourself and the world just fills my heart with pride.

I cherish these moments and milestones in my heart, knowing just how quickly things will continue to change. As you journey from one milestone to the next, I will watch you, encourage you and be there for you along the way as your proud momma.

With love,

Momma