Dear Paisley: Month 11

April 7th, 2011

Dear Paisley-

You turned 11 months old today. I know I say this every month but this time more than the others it really does seem impossible. A month from today we’ll wake up on your first birthday. If I really stop and look back, of course it’s been a year. We’ve celebrated every holiday, birthdays of friends and family, and we’ve flipped the calendar all the way back around to April. But when I just look at you, the impact you’ve already made on me, it was yesterday.

I rocked you to sleep tonight. I do this most nights, daddy takes the others. As long as you have a bottle, your fuzzy, and those five quiet minutes, you’ll sleep like a dream. I sat in the same chair I rocked you in the day you came home, and tonight it struck me how your long, chunky legs flopped over the arms. Not a tiny nugget any more.

This month you kind of stopped being a baby. Of course you’re still a baby, but in so many ways you’ve tossed that aside and are getting your feet wet as a toddler. You are so busy. I don’t think there’s a better way to sum you up right now, you’re just busy. You’re in to everything, you’re curious, you’re going, you’re coming… it’s non-stop all day and all night. You’re on a solid one nap a day, which for me, your sitter “J”, and anyone else who is responsible for you is a curse, but you honestly manage just fine. Once in a while we’ll sneak a second nap in, but it’s not often.

You’ve been walking for two full months now and your command of the skill is uncanny. I honestly keep expecting to see you run across the room. If a door is shut, you push it open and just walk on through. Like this morning, a lazy Sunday, when our bedroom door was cracked and you whipped it open and walked to the living room. Apparently it was time to wake up. The third drawer down in the kitchen is where we keep the bibs. You know this. And you’ll spend an hour opening the drawer, pulling out the bibs, delivering them to various people and places, and then rounding them up so you can close the drawer… only to start all over again. You also like to open the pantry door and rummage in the Dr. Pepper boxes on the floor. So far you’ve successfully carried out a can of soda, as well as pulled down a box of Bisquick from the second shelf and carried it through the house.

Your speech and communication is the thing that has really flourished this month. You shake your head “no” – and you mean it. You furiously shake back and forth when we ask you a question that deserves a negative reply. You say your version of  “thank you” when someone hands something to you, and you also rub your belly for “please” when you ask for something. You almost always do this without any kind of prompting. Check out the manners on my baby! You say “eat!” and point to your mouth – you do this when I ask you if you want to eat (otherwise you shake your head) or if I ask you if you’re hungry. You very clearly say “hi” to anyone who will listen, and usually accompany it with a wave. You can say “shoes” and say this when you bring yours or our shoes to us (you love to play with them!). You also get what “going bye-bye” means and are always agreeable to the suggestion. Just this week you started repeating “nigh-nigh” when we tell you it’s time for bed. Other words I think you’re working on are “book” and “ball.”

You’ve started expressing love this month. For instance, this morning I woke up to four voluntary kisses from you. FOUR! Oh my how you made my day start out in the most perfect way. I always have to ask for a kiss, you rarely oblige, I usually end up saying “I’ll steal it anyway!” Sometimes you oblige and lean in with an open mouth and plant your lips on mine. Ahh, it’s the best! But you offered them up to me, daddy, your bee baby and even that llama in red pajamas all day. You give lots of hugs. You and daddy started a game called “BIG HUGS!” He sits on the floor and you “run” to him and he scoops you up in a big bear hug. You both eat it up. You also blow kisses. You plant your hand on your mouth, but it doesn’t pull away. Instead you lick the inside of your hand (little weirdo). But when someone is leaving you either wave bye-bye to them, or blow them your version of a kiss.

You are eating like a horse! Thankfully, you aren’t eating horse. You’ve completely boycotted baby food; so much so that I gave away all of your remaining stock to a friend whose baby is still acting like a baby (lucky!). When your sitter “J” said that you refused to eat anything off a spoon, I realized she was right. You love feeding yourself, and I honestly don’t have a problem with it. I get to eat now! I can also put you in your chair and cook dinner, clean, or just get some work done. It’s nice to have reclaimed a bit of that freedom. Your favorite, and I mean hands down favorite, right now is watermelon. I buy a quarter watermelon at the store every week. You absolutely inhale it – to the point you get those chipmunk cheeks, can’t chew, and there is pink juice running down your arms and chin. All the while smiling.

You also really enjoy mozzarella cheese, avocados, peas, applesauce, carrots, yogurt, blackberries and raspberries, bagels, toast, graham crackers, and pears. Pinto beans and rice from Chipotle also make the list. You are such a good eater, I feel so lucky. You really don’t refuse anything, except meat, and frankly I’m OK with that for now. You do really well with a sippy, and so far all we’ve put in it is water. Why would this bother you? You don’t know any different. Until you do, it’s always going to be water. Your friends will probably hate coming to our house, but kiddo, there are just too many good-for-you foods out there to fill you and our kitchen than with the crap that none of us need.

We had a very exciting event on Friday. You shot a vignette commercial for Johnson & Johnson for their natural line of products. It’s basically you and me, with you playing in the bath, and then me cuddling you up into a towel. It took an entire day, you were very patient, and we had a lot of fun. You were a little confused about why you were in and out of the tub a few dozen times, but other than that you didn’t really get fussy and you played right along like it was normal. You were pretty funny during scenes- you’d wave to the cameramen or you’d play with the boom. I don’t know if you’ll hate me for this one day or not, but I promise I only did it because I thought it would be fun. I didn’t even know we’d be paid for it when we signed on, and I’m very happy to be putting it in full in your college account.

When I left for college I had $500 in cash and no idea what the hell I was doing. For that matter, my parents didn’t know either. It makes me proud on an indescribable level that at 11 months old you already have more than twice that amount waiting for you. Your education, even on a level of teaching you where your nose is, is of utmost importance to your dad and I. It’s something we talk about frequently, and the one thing we absolutely will not sacrifice.

Wow, I’m getting deep in here. You have turned in to a little person this month Paisley. Lucky for all of us, a person we really, really like. You make us laugh; like, the kind of laugh I usually pay good money at the theater to see. Your funny little faces, sounds, and mannerisms just kill me. I love watching the curiosity on your face and how you explore. And while it might sound a bit mean, I love seeing you frustrated with something – like a toy you really want being stuck in the basket and watching you work it out on your own until you successfully retrieve it. You always look so proud of yourself. I love your high-fives, the way you “tickle-tickle” my toes, and I love the way you reach for me when no one else in this world will do. One day, that won’t be the case, but I’ll remember that there was a time when I was your end-all, be-all. You will always be that for me.

I love you my bug. My very, very, big girl bug.