To my sweet baby Theo,
Your first birthday is officially here and I can't believe it.
In fact, to make sure I wasn't imagining, I wandered up to your room at midnight last night to watch you sleep for a bit before snapping your picture at 12:11, when you came barreling into my life exactly a year ago. I've never experienced a year fly by so fast, but I've been doing my best to savor every second while trying to document the best parts. Oh, and for the record, the best parts I'm referring to are the mundane moments doing all the things we love: wandering the yard and driveway, going for walks, dining al fresco, rolling in the grass, getting into spontaneous wrestling matches that morph into spontaneous screaming and laughing matches, reading book after book. I love experiencing your experiences. I love teaching you all I can about this world we share while also standing back to witness your discoveries.
I missed a few of your baby letters but I've been taking notes so let's recap, shall we? And really, you're up at 5:30 most mornings with more strength and energy than the average baby so can you really blame me for falling behind?
7 Months: Once you turned 7 months old in February, everything started to move in warp speed.
You were crawling within days of turning 7 months and babbling up a storm, too. Your favorite word was "Dada." All day long you'd make a gurgling noise in your throat that translated exactly into the noise that Chewbacca (Star Wars) makes. Daddy and I would crack up, prompting Harrison to crack up which in turn made you crack up. We started calling you "Chewy" and it stuck for 6 or 8 weeks. Eventually, you stopped making the noise so the nickname stopped, too.
You explored the snow (traveling by snow tube and looking like a stuffed marshmallow while at it), had a ball in the jumperoo, really started to develop an interest in Harrison and Griffin, started loving books and the swings.
8 Months: March and your 8 month birthday brought with it more of the Theo we love.
You lived in fleece footie pajamas and sometimes wore them all day long, only to switch into a fresh pair after bath. You began to crawl a lot faster, pull up on anything you could (including anyone laying down on the floor), and explore lots of new foods. You were interested in anything we were eating and didn't turn down much. You realized that windows and full-view doors were the easiest way to see outside - a place you LOVED (and continue to love). You started playing "roll the ball" and when the ball was rolled back to you, you'd wave your hands and flap your arms up and down while shrieking excitedly. Sleep was essential for you and easy for me - thanks for that. Sure, you were up early (6-6:30a) but you went to bed easily at 6:30 after books and songs and took a couple 2-hour naps a day. If we were out of the house and you had to nap in the stroller or car, you would, with little fuss or fanfare. You loved your paci (that hasn't changed) and loved spitting it out when something better came along. You continued to pop teeth uneventfully, staying true to your happy self all the while.
9 Months: Once you hit 9-months you became far more physical and at nearly 24-pounds, it was exhausting at times.
After each night's sleep and nap, we'd find you standing at your crib trying to pop out of it. We lowered your crib twice in a week's time. You loved pulling hair, banging anything you could get your hands on, trying to do side flips and back flips out of the high chair, clapping, waving at trucks and the tractor, and dancing like nobody was watching. While doing all of that and more, you'd flash your signature mischievous grin. You started standing for a second or two at a time and you bit everything. Couches, pillows, books, your high chair... you learned not to bite our shoulders pretty quickly. You loved all food and you'd be excited to try anything we put in front of you. As soon as the food hit your tray, you'd take your right hand and bring it around from the side in an aggressive motion, clasping around as much food as possible to shove it all into your mouth at once in the span of 1 second. By 9 months, you were eating steak, prime rib, and egg & cheese sandwiches on the regular. You also had your first taste of Chick-Fil-A chicken and fries.
You sprinted for bath time ("Splash Splash" or "Pah Pah" to you) and cried when it ended. At your 9-month check-up, the doctor laughed at you in the infant bucket seat and told me and Daddy to "get him a properly sized car seat" so 2 days later, you were in a big boy car seat. Both of your upper molars broke through by early April. You started riding next to Harrison in the Costco cart (and trying all the samples, too). If someone gave you a plane, you'd hold it up in your hand with your arm extended, making zooming noises that were beyond charming. You still loved your sleep but you also knew what sleep meant. As soon as I told you it was time for your nap, you'd start whining and fake-crying as we'd start upstairs together. By the tenth step, you'd stop. After books and before songs, you'd get super snuggly and nestle your face into the crook of my neck. I breathed you in and vowed to remember the feeling for the rest of my life. You still do it now at 12-months and I'm so thankful.
10 Months: You were officially out in the world longer than you were in me, which is always an age I find significant. I shared my first Mother's Day with you and your giant hugs. You were obsessed with Harrison's MagnaTiles and could spend hours knocking down the houses we'd build for you. You liked any game that had an element of suspense to it (Peekaboo included) and your trademark smile was so easy to solicit. You loved the stairs and got really good at climbing them with no help.
You'd stand up next to me and smack my stomach with both of your hands before standing back up to prep for another hit, cracking yourself up as you did it. I fell further in love with your tiny smile dimples and wrist wrinkles. You have a laugh that is so contagious and distinct and it started developing way back when. I look at pictures of you laughing and I can hear it clear as day. I can't help but smile and fill with happiness when I hear it.
During our nightly singing, you'd still want to snuggle into my neck and shoulder but for a week or so, you'd pop back up, inspect me, smile and lay your head back down, repeating that a few times in a row, making me laugh. Your love for books became more apparent, as did your preference for certain books. If I read you a book that you didn't like, you'd violently flip back to the cover, slamming the book closed and looking up at me after with a serious face. Not anything like the face below.
When Daddy or I told you no or you couldn't do something, we were introduced to your attitude when your face would flash with anger. The aggressive Cheerio eating continued, with you beating them into your fist, dragging your whole hand across the tray to grab 3 or 4. When you were done eating or drinking, instead of shaking your head politely no, you'd slap the food/hand/spoon away with the force of a kid twice your size.
You loved wrestling Harrison and the two of you would shriek in delight as you chased him in countless circles around the dining room table. Changing your diaper became a fight and a chore. You writhed and twisted and screamed when I tried to turn you back flat for wiping. Sometimes, I'd be sweating after a 2 minute diaper change. (The past tense is irrelevant because diaper changes are still a BATTLE!)
Your language started taking off with strong "MaMas", "Dadas," "BuhBuhs" and "Mores" and it made me so excited for the next chapter.
11 Months: With June came heat and with the heat came water. You enjoyed it immensely in all forms and didn't discriminate: hose, pool, bath, water table.
You stormed into 11 months by walking, talking, making animal noises and screaming and throwing your body around when you didn't get your way. When any door opened, (bathroom, bedroom, back door, front door) you'd recognize the sound and crawl there in 2 seconds flat no matter where you were in the house. When the door was shut promptly because there were dangerous things on the other side of the door, (razors, cords, wooden steps, splinters to name a few) you lost your cool. Crying and hanging your head and eventually trying to bang the door down. You'd get over it fairly quickly when your brother's trucks worked as a good distraction. On your first Father's Day with Daddy, you were Baptized on the beach by the same minister that married Mommy and Daddy and Baptized your brother. We were so happy you have you blessed and welcomed into God's world in that way. We took you to NJ/PA for 3 nights and you had a ball, taking in all of your surroundings but never losing your signature cool.
The move to whole milk started and so far, no complaints. The bottles and pacifiers are next - we'll see how that goes.
And so we're here. We're at 12 months. You're more a toddler than a baby and it's so bittersweet. The moment you were born my heart doubled in size. It grew so large in my chest that it was momentarily hard to breathe and I told Daddy my body couldn't handle my new heart. You've been making my heart grow daily since, and somehow, I'm managing. Your smile knocks me out and your will and determination inspires me. Theo, you're my littlest big love and when I think I couldn't possibly love you more than I do, you make it so.
"I love you so much. I love you always. I will always looooove you."
Mommy (Daddy, too!)