Eight months

February 13, 2015

Dear Eva,

For the first time since you were born on Friday the 13th, your birthday is again on a Friday. Somehow, that makes it feel like this time you are exactly eight months old.

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You are growing so fast, and of course that’s always been true, but it’s so apparent right now. It feels like I’m going to close my eyes and you’ll be walking, and I’ll close them again and you’ll be forming sentences, and I’ll close them again and you’ll be making yourself pancakes in the morning.

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You really found your consonants at the end of last month, but you are now an endless stream of baba, mama, nana, rara, and yaya. You also have a repertoire of other little sound-words that we say often — like uh-oh and whoa and hi — and even if you don’t know what they mean, I love hearing your little voice all the same.

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Your matriculation from baby bathtub to big bathtub is complete, and you’re learning all kinds of new tricks. Like sliding around the tub and turning yourself in a circle — both of which you’ve discovered are much faster and more exciting in the slippery bathtub than on the carpet. You’re fearless in the water and smile whenever you douse yourself through some crazy antics. Something tells me it won’t be long until we have a photo of you identical to one of me in 1986: running full tilt down the beach and into the ocean.

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You’re already displaying a penchant for music, and your teachers at school always note how much you enjoy the performers that they bring in to play for your class. You think the xylophone is pretty great, and you gravitate toward the source of any new music that starts playing. This too reminds me of another little baby 30 years ago.

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With each passing day, your interest in bottles decreases a bit more, and you’ll even reject the bottle when you suspect that solid food is an option, which I find so surprising and grown-up. You aren’t much for sippy cups either, but think drinking from a rim is just fine and straws might be okay too. It isn’t hard to imagine the days when we’ll sit and share a meal while you tell us about your day.

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You are about five seconds away from crawling, and I know that everyone says I should enjoy these days and that things will get crazy once you’re mobile (and I am, and I believe it), but I’m excited about it anyway. You’re very aware that your world is a big place and you’re ready to explore it. Most confusing to you right now is why nothing happens when you lean forward and make a growly noise and will yourself onward. The knees and arms still have some work to do, unlike when daddy holds you in a very similar posture and you magically fly through the air all over the house.

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Up until now, your giggles were elicited by something you felt — kisses on your neck, spinning through the air, somersaulting from one lap to the next. But now, you’re laughing joyfully at what you see. The ideas of inside and outside are particularly fascinating and delightful to you this month — when you’re inside the car and I’m standing on the other side of the glass, when your toys are inside the basket and you’re taking them out one by one, when you’re in one room and I peek out at you from the doorway of the next one, when I hide inside or under or behind any number of objects and play peek-a-boo with you.

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We’ve always thought of you as our little socialite baby, such a little people person. Always more interested in people and faces than toys and objects. This month, it’s become clear that what you actually like best are other babies and kids. You think that every child you see is a new friend, and I love that that’s how you see the world.

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Happy eight month birthday, sweet little muffin.

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Seven months

January 13, 2015

Dear Eva,

Seven months old, and already time is accelerating. It feels like I was just writing to you yesterday to celebrate your half birthday.

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This was a rather eventful month, though. You had your first Christmas, and even though I know you won’t remember it, I think some part of you will remember how it felt. Because you loved it — the paper, the ribbon, the boxes, the things inside the boxes, all of it.

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It took us all day to open your gifts — in part because you had so many of them (daddy and granny spoiled you terribly) — but the biggest hit, unsurprisingly, was your new jumperoo. That jumperoo, in all of its Fisher-Price glory in the middle of my living room, is a testament to my love for you.

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And what would a first Christmas be without a visit to Santa? You experienced the full gamut of feelings about Santa — surprise, fascination, distress, delight. Daddy was hoping for a true Christmas Story experience, and I wanted you to be happy and full of smiles, so everyone got what they wanted.

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You also helped me celebrate my 30th birthday this month — and then we had our first nights apart while you stayed with granny and your daddy and I went to Manzanita. As we drove along the sand dunes, it wasn’t hard to imagine a time, not long from now, when you’ll be running across those dunes to play in the ocean.

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There are some months when you learn new skills and other months when you carefully hone the skills you already have. This was a honing month. You only want to sit and stand now — laying down is only for sleeping and rarely acceptable otherwise — and you’ve started wildly rocking to and fro, getting ready to crawl and pull yourself up and goodness knows what else. You love flying through the air, going upside down, somersaulting from one lap to another. We still call you the little muffin, but granny has decided that crazy monkey is a much more appropriate moniker.

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You officially moved into the big bath this month — still in your little tub, so that you can do your wild kicking without falling over — and decided that bath toys are pretty fun. It’s hard to even remember that little baby who had to be wrapped in a towel at bath time and stared at me the entire time. You have much more pressing matters to attend to in the bath now. Like splashing and babbling and throwing little pig, cow, chicken, and sheep all around the big bathtub — and then trying to crawl out of your little tub to retrieve them.

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You’ve also gotten quite good at eating grown-up food in the last couple of weeks. The enjoyment factor has remained a constant, and you make much less of a mess these days. Your morning yogurt and mid-day fruits and veggies are both a hit, but they pale in comparison to your favorite: meat. Sausage at a holiday party, prime rib on Christmas, chicken off the bone, carnitas from the slow-cooker. Our little omnivore baby, sitting at the table and eating pieces of meat, avocado, and cheese off our plates.

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It’s hard to explain, but it feels like we’ve settled into a new phase this month — and it feels different than the other phases. It feels bigger. You’re sleeping without your swaddle (usually), your bedtime has suddenly moved much later, and our days are defined by so much more freedom and flexibility.

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There are countless reasons for this shift, but I know that part of it is that I’m getting better and better at rejecting everyone’s expectations and expertise and trusting solely in my intuition and observation. I’m responding to you as a person, abandoning any kind of schedule and creating more space for enjoyment. It is a profound shift not only in my life but in my person, and it’s all because of you.

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Whether eating or playing, practicing or exploring, in the bath or on the floor or out and about, we just have so much fun together. Truly, it’s more fun with each passing day. All of that fun sure makes it hard to take a non-blurry photo, or to keep a sticker on you for even 5 seconds. But I think we’ll manage.

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Happy seven month birthday, sweet baby girl.

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Six months

December 13, 2014

Dear Eva,

Everyone told me that six months was a dramatic turning point. And they were right. You’re like an all-new baby, and every day, I get to see a little more of the person you’re becoming.

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You had your third and fourth rides in an airplane this month, as we all trekked down to California for Rice Family Thanksgiving. While we were there, you got to sit in an outdoor swing for the first time (which you thought was pretty great and a million times better than an indoor infant swing), and you got to meet most of your little McMillan cousins. By this time next year, there will be at least two more, making 10 cousins on that side of the family alone.

While we were there, you and Bodie traded skills (or, probably more accurately since he’s older, he taught you new skills and you inspired him to reprise skills that he hasn’t used lately). The first day, you couldn’t quite grasp his egg shaker — but by the time we left, you had it in a tight grip, shaking away. You also decided that standing is quite fun after watching him stand all week (although daddy has been encouraging you to stand for quite sometime already). And I hear that Bodie has adopted one of your favorite things from your sixth month of life: blowing raspberries.

You’re still the adventure baby, happiest when you’re learning or experiencing something new. We went to your first Christmas lights this week — which also happens to be our last time seeing the Lights in the Park in Brookings — and even though it was way past your bedtime and chilly outside, you were delighted throughout.

When we were in Brookings, we also discovered that you’re perfectly capable of rolling over — on your terms, when you want something (particularly something you aren’t supposed to have). This should come as no surprise. Most of the time, apparently, you simply don’t see much use for rolling. But if there’s a plastic bag just out of reach, you’ll roll to it like you mastered that skill long ago.

What you prefer to rolling is sitting, which you’ve always enjoyed — but then all of a sudden, you started sitting by yourself. I’m sure you built up the strength and coordination over a few weeks, but it felt like we just woke up one day and you were sitting up. If you have something particularly wonderful in your hands — say, a toy with a tag or a label — you can sit enthralled for half an hour. You usually tip over reaching for something (always reaching for something new), or you’ll throw your head back and smile and squeal as you collapse into my arms or against a pillow.

Both of your bottom front teeth are all the way in, and now you’re focusing on the tops, which seem to be even more work than the bottoms. Absolutely everything that you can get in your hands goes into your mouth — well, except for food. When I put a chicken bone or pieces of fruit or even puffs on your tray, you poke them, push them around, throw them on the floor — but when I give you a plastic measuring cup or a spatula, it goes into your mouth immediately. That isn’t to say you don’t love eating, though. You still know your little green spoon and you still get so excited when I mash up fruits and vegetables for you.

The highlight of your day, every day, is when daddy gets home from work. He picks you up and kisses your cheek and all is right with the world (even if it was very, very wrong five minutes before). One of the best things, if not THE best thing, about this month and all the ones before is witnessing all of the sweet moments between the two of you. You like being upside down or flying through the air or being held up high by me — but you love it with daddy. Your eyes light up, and it’s written across your face that this is where you feel safe and secure and protected. There’s already something between daddy and daughter that I’ll never be a part of, and it’s amazing and tender and beautiful.

Every once in awhile, I’ll lean down to kiss your head and you’ll smell distinctly like cinnamon — like a snickerdoodle. I don’t know what that’s about but I never want to forget it.

Your cheeks have reached new levels of puffiness — and as everyone notes, they’re not squishy as one would expect but firm instead (another thing I can’t quite explain) — but as we learned at your six-month appointment, you’ve settled into your percentiles. Except for your head, which has gone from 70th percentile to 81st percentile. You’re now 28 inches long and over 17.5 pounds, and it’s already hard to remember the little seven-pound baby who came home with us in June.

With half a year behind us, I can only imagine all that you will learn and become in the six months to follow. Happy half-birthday, baby girl.

Thanks to Allie Rae Photography and Mr. & Mrs. Miller Photography for some of this month’s shots!