Happy Half-Birthday To You! If I was just a a touch more Martha, I'd bake you a half-cake like my friend Kara does for her kids, but this newsletter will have to suffice.
I'm excited to take you to your 18-month checkup next week because I finally have some speech progress to report. You now have XXXX real words: DaDa, "Nah" (Nate), "bay-bay" (baby), "bah" (ball), and sometimes "ba!"(up). A week or two ago you finally got interested, a little bit, in trying to repeat what I say. That seems like half the battle to me - wanting to speak. You don't always do it, and you rarely do it on cue, but here are the words you say/repeat regularly now: "doah" (door), no (said in a sweet little voice while pushing away whatever it is you don't want), "moah" (more - with just a little prompting when you want more of whatever you're eating off of my plate), "pah pah" (pepper - red peppers), and "pah!" (popcorn). I'm sure there are a few more I'm forgetting, but there's progress and that's what's so important.
I'm watching you so closely these days, scoring and recording everything you do. In a few more months I think I'll be able to take a deep breath and relax and see you doing the things you're supposed to be doing. And it crossed my mind that soon I'm going to get to really hear from you, what you like, what you don't like...I can't wait.
Last week Grandma was over and we were getting ready to leave the house. I packed your milk and a few other necessities into the stroller basket. Next thing I knew, you toddled over and decisively stuffed pink doll into the basket. Grandma thought it was amazing; I was a little skeptical that you really did it on purpose to take her with us - I thought maybe you just saw me putting things in. But since then you've twice stuffed her into my diaper bag when it was clear that we were about to go out - you want to take her with us wherever you go. When you see her, you still get a big smile on your sweet face.
You still love climbing anything you can find, and you still love being outside. Last weekend you were able to combine both in a love-fest of joy; running down the neighbor's driveway in Charlottesville over and over in the pitch dark, squealing out loud each time as you careened over the dips and bumps. You were the life of the party, of course, with everyone exclaiming over your looks and sweet nature.
You and Nate are spending a lot of time in the backyard in the afternoons; it lets me get a little work done around the house while you guys play without me. Extrapolating from your love of brooms and vacuums inside, your favorite activities outside involve rakes and shovels. Whatever keeps you happy makes me happy.
Last night we went out to dinner for Aunt Dreba's birthday and Daddy let you walk around while we were waiting for our food to come out. I looked over at a table nearby and noticed three older women all smiling and cooing in the same direction. I followed their gaze to see that you were, not surprisingly, the lucky focus of their adoring attention. You smiled and flirted, hiding behind a chair and then peering out to smile at them again, asking for Daddy to pick you up and then smiling at them while you tucked your head "shyly" against Daddy's chest. You are the flirtiest, sweetest little kid I ever knew.
You are the joy of my days, Jack. Your sweetness and love fill me up. We're so lucky to have you.