At this point in your life, I could probably write a letter everyday describing your latest and greatest accomplishment…like today, when you pulled a box of ziplocs out of the cabinet, pointed to the peach on the cover, and excitedly said peeeeeeeeach or how last week you wandered into the kitchen – totally and completely naked, having somehow gotten your diaper off. Every single day, you are making us laugh and say things like, “I can’t believe he knows that.”
I tell you to go into the kitchen, and you turn your little body. When I talk about going outside, you head for the doors. You look for things – the truck, your drink, a ball – when we tell you to. We sing “If you’re happy and you know it,” and there you are, clapping your hands at all the right spots. You know so many body parts and touch them all on command, no longer clumsily pawing your nose when you were heading for mouth. You understand so, so much, baby boy, and the way you look at us when we talk – watching our mouths intently – makes it hard to believe that a year ago you were just learning to hold you head up.
And speech – it is trickling out of you more and more every day. You are signing help, thank you, please, all done, and more like a champion. And you can repeat like a parrot – everything except for ending sounds. You huskily boooooooof at every dog we pass, sounding more and more like you’re having an asthma attack the closer we get. You are constantly saying “uh-oh!” from the moment you wake up – about accidents and things you drop on purpose and often as a general filler word. You know all sorts of animal sounds, giving us these high-pitched moos, mows, and enthusiastic baaaas! You spit whenever you see a picture of a camel, something I proudly taught you, and you’ve recently begun to snort when you see a pig.
You’re starting, more and more, to name your world. Bapa and Mama (Grandpa and Grandpa), Dadu (David), Yeya (Estella), and Chi-Chi (Archie) are some of your favorite people to name, beyond me (Mama) and your Dad (Dah!). You love people. Your face lights up when we see other kids. You wave at every other person in the grocery store, shyly smiling when they wave back. You say bah-bah at anyone’s departure, and started saying your first sentence – Bye, Dad – on July 11, when you were just over a year old. I love that you’re beginning to talk, and I can’t wait for all the lunchtime conversations ahead (right now, it’s pretty one-sided except when you excitedly and unaspiratedly point out all the cheeeeese! or point to everything on my plate, which is the same as yours, and insist numenumenumenume!).
In addition to all these words, you are also as mobile as they come. I’d say you technically started to walk on July 18, at 13 ½ months of age. One day, you just stood up in our backyard, sticks in hand, and took like twenty steps. That’s the day you walked more than crawled. And you’ve basically been running ever since. We take these long, slow walks in which I basically follow you as you point out every beeeeeee! (insect) in our path and stop to pick up pine cones and throw them. It has regularly taken over 30 minutes to get from our house to the bakery that is literally kitty-corner.
You fall a lot. It doesn’t seem to bother you too much, except for the 800 times you smack your head into something throughout the day. I think you believe that climbing stairs is your destiny, and you beeline for them. Sometimes you still forget you’re climbing (see 800 head injuries above). And you dance. Oh how you dance. It can be the music blaring from a passing car, or from your musical DJing Leapfrog toy or one of the folk musicians we’re always subjecting you too, but the minute you hear music, you are bobbing your booty up and down, swinging your arms back and forth, clapping, sometimes even in rhythm, smiling hugely. It’s one of our favorite things about you, hands down.
Your summer diary has been full. Full of the park and the beach and the pool and time in the backyard. We took a trip to Wisconsin, and you delighted in all of the space to walk at your grandparents’ house and in Coda the Dog, who kindly tolerated you. We’ve been to Alexandria a couple of times too, most recently for your Uncle David and Aunt Julia’s wedding, in which you were a ring bearer. The other ring bearer pulled you down the aisle in a wagon, and you waved and smiled like it was your job. And we got to take a trip to the Pizza Farm with Rachel, Darren, and Chi-Chi, a trip which left you exhausted and happy and covered with dirt.
More and more your personality is making itself known. You are so, so silly – snarfying pillows all day long, screaming with laughter at most things, randomly wiggling your entire body while sitting in your high chair. This summer at the wading pool at Hiawatha Park, I watched you turn from a slightly hesitant splasher into a kid that would literally start clapping at the sight of the pool as we approached. By the end of the summer, we’d step into the water and within minutes, you were walking straight for the deep end, so brave, right up to your neck, often batting my hand’s offer to help stabilize you away. You love, love, love the water.
There is so much I don’t want to forget, Owen. The way your face lights up when my phone rings and you yell, “Dah!” The way you love books and bring them to us, one after the other. Your obsession with the book “Coco Can’t Wait,” and how you’ll walk all throughout the house saying “CocoCocoCoco” until you find it. (You’ve even referred to dark-skinned figurines and Dora the Explorer as Coco.) The way you delight in flushing the toilet, in turning fans on and off, in building lego towers. The way you rock like a crazy person in the rocking chairs. The way you’ll sometimes carry around a stuffed animal, hugging it and patting its back like we do yours. The way you insist on helping me with the dishes, standing next to me on a stool, dumping water on the floor and my feet. The way you shovel fistfuls of food into your mouth. The way you are always carrying between 1 and 3 balls, actually throwing them towards us now. The way you fling yourself over Lambie, Bear, and Bruce at night when you sleep, clutching them under you with your arms.
You are such a joy. You still have so much passion: delight and rage, joy and misery are present in you. You are so loving. Your hugs and kisses make me never want to stop having babies. I can’t wait to see you be a big brother. We found out today that you are going to have a little sister, and I can’t wait to watch you take care of her (once we get over the stage in which you might cause her serious injury in all of your ball and block-throwing). You are so full of gifts and intelligence, it almost hurts me to think of how much I love you.
Things you love: food (especially cheese, bah [bread], and fruit), milk, your dad, me, being outside, walking, rocking in the rocking chair, baths, water, dancing, music, clapping, being tickled, playing on our bed, dogs, cows, buses, trucks, tractors, saying uh-oh, balls, climbing stairs, touching car tires, games like Patty Cake, the Itsy Bitsy Spider, “Criss Cross Apple Sauce,” and This Little Piggy, doing the dishes, seeing videos of yourself, Coco Can’t Wait, most books, smelling my coffee
Things you hate: the nursery (after 25 minutes), being still, sometimes getting your diaper changed, when we get in and out of the car too often in one day, when we don’t let you touch the computers, when we don’t let you do pretty much anything, when we don’t give you all of our food, when I don’t let you turn the knobs on the stove or flush the toilet, when I open the front door but we don’t go outside, whenever we come inside