eight months!

[and happy first Thanksgiving!]

[and also, we are thankful for YOU!]

Dear Mr. Fantastic Fox,

It is hard for me to wrap my head around eight months. It is decidedly almost one year old. You are getting so big and doing so many cool things these days and figuring things out on your own that it just overwhelms me some days.

As a for instance, yesterday, you crawled for the first time. You army crawled your way towards a TV cable, which I promptly snatched out of your hand, but you totally did it none the less! I could tell it was going to happen soon, because you kept going from a seated position to your belly with some regularity to get at things that I knew forward motion was inevitable. You will stand up on your own while holding onto things (hands or railings or tables) and you LOVE to jump and bounce. You laugh hysterically the whole time and if we quit bouncing you, you try to do it on your own by bending your knees. TOO CUTE!

You are still in a size 4 diaper and 9-12 months clothes. You still have 6 teeth and a major obsession with Russell. You still like to peek for things you want to sneak a peek at, and your blond hair is getting pretty thick these days. You still primarily breastfeed and so what, who cares? You sleep from 8:30pm or so until 8am or so and take two naps: one at 10am and one around 4pm.

One big change is that we have discovered the alternate use for the pack & play--not the bassinette that we previously used it as, but the PLAY PEN! It is so much more peace of mind than leaving you sitting up on a blanket [because sometimes you still bonk, and actually busted your lip on the floor a few weeks ago] and you are less confined than in your saucer. What an invention!

We had a nice, low key Thanksgiving and the number one thing we were thankful for, of course, was you! We are very excited for Christmas with you and already have our tree up, which is a real record for me, because I am a procrastinator!

We love you very much and enjoy every second of watching you become a big boy!



10. we are thankful...

...you like the little things in life as well.

[I'm just glad we figured this out before Christmas!]


9. we are thankful for...

...the small things.

Like that you still don't crawl. I happen to like that you are right where I left you.

And that despite the AWFUL noise you make when you grind them, you haven't snapped your little teeth off.

And that you have discerning enough tastes not to be fooled by tacky impersonations of the products you love so much--no brightly colored Fisher Price phone for this child, only the real deal will satisfy you. (And believe me, we've tried. We finally settled on Grandma's old cell phone and a calculator to simulate the remote.)

And that you love bath time so much you will sit there until the water turns cold and I have to drag you out of there screaming and clutching the little green cup designed to rinse the shampoo out of your hair.

And that you say Mama and Dada (you still don't know what they mean though--one day, everyone is Mama, the next, we're all Dada's)

[and a picture of us, just because]

I love all the little things that make you, you, pumpkin. You keep surprising us with little things that crack us up and make our day.


8. we are thankful...

...that you are a good sport.

[see also: pumpkin outfit]


7. we are thankful...

...that though we may still need to tweak some of your sleeping habits, you have slept through the night, nearly right from the start.
You are so sweet all the time, but especially when you are sleeping. I'm so grateful that you allow me to re-charge at night so that I can be patient and sweet with you all day!


6. we are thankful for...

...what we affectionately refer to around these parts as "Chewy Bluey."

As teething's cruel timing has left you (and us) to endure four top teeth breaking through all at once, we wondered what we could do to ease your misery. The crying, the fitful waking, the tugging on your ears, the hesitance to eat--it all led to one conclusion: Orajel. Until you decided you were not a fan, and would clamp your lips shut any time a finger came near your mouth. I, the innovator that I am, squeezed some Orajel on your infant finger tooth brush (now a.k.a.-ed as Chewy Bluey) and you opened wide. I think the pressure felt good on your gums, and the Orajel sufficiently numbed you back to your agreeable self. You now can be spotted gnawing on your C.B. (we actually had to buy a second one because we keep losing track) like a dog toy, but my motto (and I think this one may be around for the duration of your childhood):

whatever works.


5. we are thankful...

...that overall, you are a reasonably courteous baby when it comes to outings in public and interactions with others.

I am not someone who thought that I would have a baby and nothing in my life would change except the presence of a baby. I know that there are certain things I can no longer do. Well actually, I can do them, but to do so would irritate and inconvenience others. These things include: anything leisurely, long chatty meals in restaurants, quickly running in and out of anywhere, going to the movies, etc.

You have actually been pretty good when we do take you out somewhere to eat, though it has become a practice that immediately upon receiving my food, I begin eating whatever is messiest, because I know you will be squirming in my arms the second half of the meal. It is not a luxury we have had to give up entirely--with some planning, it can be enjoyable. I do not want to be one of those parents whose awful children ruin the experience of those around them.

My parents raised me to have good table manners and we would have been promptly escorted out if we displayed anything but. We were consistently complimented on our etiquette, and I expect the same from you, sir.

For now, we will forgive the occasional sampling of fruit sans utensils (please see below).


4. we are thankful...

...that you and Russell get along.
I know I've said it before, but we really worried about Russell because he is kind of a wild child (read: not very well behaved). But you adore him, peeking around for him, teasing him with toys, laughing when you hear him running up, and if anyone in that relationship is suffering, it is poor Russ, who is subjected to ear grabbing, eye poking, chop slapping, etc. on a daily basis.
"A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perserverance, and to turn around three times before lying down." --Robert Benchley


3. we are thankful...

...that even though our family lives all over the place, you actually still get to see them quite a lot.

The award for worst timing in the entire world goes to your daddy and I. I went over to grandma and grandpa's house to tell them about your impending arrival about two weeks before they moved out of North Olmsted and down to Hilton Head, South Carolina! They, of course, were bummed by the timing: as they were leaving, you would be arriving.

However, Grandpa is retired and Grandma is a flight attendant and is actually still flying through Cleveland all the time. I think she has seen you every month of your life. They spent the summer on their boat in Sandusky, which was about 45 minutes away, and we went out to see them a few times this summer. (You did not get on the boat though--it was too hot and there were no infant life jackets to be found.) Uncle Alex is in the Air Force, but he just finished with his active duty orders and is living in the nearby state of West Virginia, and is even coming to see us this week! Your great-grandma lives in Buffalo and wishes she could see you more, but she will be moving down to South Carolina in the near to distant future and you can see her, Grandma, and Grandpa all in one fell swoop!

We are trying to coordinate some sort of visit down to Hilton Head to see Grandma and Grandpa's new place (I can't believe it has been over a year since they moved!), which would be your first plane ride (and Daddy's second!), but budget and timing restraints have prevented it thus far. Daddy has not travelled much at all, with the exception of a basketball tournament in St. Louis and Spring Break in Florida, and growing up, my family always took vacations. We agreed that showing you the world is going to be a priority for us, which is going to be easy, given that we also have family and friends in Florida, Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas, New York City, Pennsylvania, and more!

You bring such joy to our lives and we know you do the same for others. We love the fact that even though our family might live far away, they live close enough where they will be a big part of your life.


2. i am thankful...

...that you finally took to breastfeeding.

Your daddy and I did not take any childcare or birthing classes before you arrived, because so many people we had talked to said that it was mostly common sense and we would forget the rest amidst the excitement of your labor and delivery. The majority of the staff at Lakewood Hospital assumed a basic level of baby knowledge (that we did not possess) when they thrust tiny newborn-you at me and demanded that I feed you.

To my credit, you did not really know what you were doing when it came to eating either. We were a miserable pair for a while: you, crying because you were hungry, me, crying because I couldn't feed you. It was vital that you ate a substantial amount because you were such a big baby, they were worried about your sugar levels. You slept through feedings and nurses would barge in and demand that we wake you with cold wet washclothes, which only served to remind you that I couldn't give you what you desperately wanted. A very sad state indeed.

After several buzzes to the nurses' desk, the hospital lactation specialist, and an at home check-up, we finally found our solution in nipple shields, clear plastic (?) coverings for my real nipple that made it more resemble a bottle so you could latch on easier.

It was a miracle and you ate ferociously. You would wrinkle your little nose like a bear digging into something that bears like to eat. You have steadily remained in the 80+ percentile for weight ever since. You have since outgrown those shields--one day you just up and decided you didn't need them any more, like I imagine you will with training wheels or a nightlight.

Besides being economical and extremely healthy (I like to remind your grandpa that breastmilk is nature's perfect food), it has given us a chance to bond in such an amazing way. It sounds so dumb, and I don't know that you will ever fully understand how powerful it is, but I look forward to putting you to bed each night when I nurse you to sleep (even though that is a bad habit that we will work on at some point before you turn one). We stare at each other and you smile, you fall asleep and it just makes me so tremendously happy that I did not give up on breastfeeding.

I love you and I always want what is best for you and I hope you know that and I promise that I will not still be breastfeeding you when you are in Kindergarten.



1. we are thankful...

...that you are a boy.

A little over a year ago, your Daddy and I found out we were going to have a son.

We were both surprised and not surprised. It was weird how real it made everything.

Until then I had been writing to you in a journal, but when I found out you were a boy, I stopped because I thought you would think it was weird. (Ha! Little did I know that I would soon abandon a private notebook for a public website! That was back when I had regard for your embarassment!)

Being the oldest son comes with a lot of responsibility. You will be able to be what neither Tom nor I were or had: a big brother. You will be the man of the house when Daddy goes out of town. You will look out for your little brothers and/or sisters. You will be our parenting guinea pig and complain when we aren't as strict with the other kids.

BUT, you will also be the only child to get us all to yourself. AND because we don't really know what we are doing as parents, you will probably get away with a little bit more. Subsequent children will likely not get as much attention for every milestone, let alone proper documentation. You will be the first one to drive and therefore first in line for whatever hand-me-down car there is to be had.

We love you so much and are so thankful that you are our son! I can't imagine life any other way!