Thursday, April 03, 2008

River News: Month TWELVE!

Dear Mr. Rivertinibini (River-teeny-beany),

You are now ONE YEAR OLD! In a short 366 days (leap year!) you have changed beyond recognition. To get some sense of the momentous transformation you have made, let us look at the example of your new cousin, Finn:

Here we have a cute, tiny, limp, needy, tired newborn. He sleeps, poops, and eats--and that's about it. You were very much like this little baby. And look at you now! You're a strong, rough-and-tumble, funny, smart, curious, amazing, independent little boy.

It's almost as though you read the textbook that said your first birthday would mark your entry into toddlerhood. You're getting more and more snuggly, willful, coordinated, picky, and funny. You're learning all kinds of new skills and surprise me everyday with some new trick.

This month you've started using your first signs. For months and months at meal times you would watch your dorky parents waving their arms emphatically, saying "All done? All done?" or pressing their fingertips together for "More? Do you want more, River?" All the while you looked on like, You guys are such nerds. After some time you even imitated us, signing "More More" without the least understanding of what you were saying.

But finally something clicked and a few weeks ago you connected the gesture to the idea. We were at grandma's house eating some grapes and you pointed to the bowl of chopped fruit, then pressed your fingers together very knowingly, and the look of delight on your face when you got what you wanted was priceless. From your parents' reaction one might have thought you'd just invented the printing press. What an amazing baby! Oh, he's a little genius!

In addition to signed words, you seem to be on the verge of learning how to say words too. I know we're still a ways away from talking, but more and more the syllables you put together sound like they come from our actual language. Da-dee! is a common one, as is Dis! or Dat!

I hope your increasing grasp on language helps bridge the communication gap that is notoriously difficult for toddlers and parents, because mealtimes have indeed become challenging event. Gone are the days when we could give you a selection of healthy foods and you would gobble them down quickly and happily. Your immediate reaction to food these days is, Get that outta my face! It doesn't matter if you loved bananas yesterday, today they're offensive. That toast? No, no, it's much too food-like for me. We let you hold it, mash it, tear it up, and after a thorough investigation you just might take a nibble.

It's as though your appetite has waned overnight. I know this is a battle every parent has with their toddler, so we're trying not to put too much pressure on you. We know you'll eat when you're hungry, and if you have healthy options, you'll get the nutrients you need. (I just try to remember that when I'm covered in rejected food chunks and you haven't eaten for two days.)

One very nice change this month is your ability to be patient on outings. We've switch your car seat around to face forward and this has made a world of difference. You used to HATE the car, stuffed in the backseat with a horrible view, strapped in and unable to be a part of things. Now, at least you can see me and where we're going, and that seems to have given you a tremendous amount of tolerance for long drives.

You're also able to sit in a shopping cart for longer periods once we get where we're going. I know this won't last. I'm not under any delusions that you won't be having supermarket meltdowns over the candy at the checkout stand. But for now we're at peace.

We went to Las Vegas this month in hopes of seeing your cousin born, and as you can see from the picture of Finn up above, we were successful! I'm so excited for you to have a new little person in your life--someone to play with, to conspire with, to teach horrible horrible tricks to. As the older cousin it's your job to teach Finn how to fart with his armpits, tell silly jokes, and get into all kinds of trouble I can't even imagine (ask your father or uncle Nelse, they were ringleaders too).

This trip was so much better for you than other trips have been (for me, it was tough, because your daddy wasn't around most of the time--but for you it was awesome!). First of all, YOU DID NOT GET SICK! This is a River travel first. I was so greatful I did not have to take care of a sick baby, or delay our trip home, or stay up wiping a snotty nose (other than my own).

Second, you were such a little social butterfly. As usual, you took a little time to get used to the new space and warm up to people, but it was so short compared to previous visits. Your grandpa Terry and uncle Nelse really reaped the benefit of your friendliness. Right away you latched onto them, shining the full spotlight of your love on them, and boy, did they eat it up!

Some of the most fun you had in Vegas (and back at home later) was at playgrounds. We spent many hours swinging, sliding, and exploring. The weather was so nice, you would show your enthusiasm for going outside by banging on a window or door when you were ready to go. One time, you even brought grandma Julie her shoes to get her moving faster!

While we were there with family, we celebrated all of the March birthdays (Nelse, Thom, Finn, You, Mommy). It was a fun party, and you really got the hang of opening cards and tearing wrapping paper to pieces.

We also had a celebration on your actual birthday once we got home. All of your friends from our playgroup came over and you were a very good host. You flitted from person to person, making sure everyone had sufficient hugs or toys to hold. This party was pretty monumental because it was the first time you've made a significant effort at WALKING! I think you saw a few other little ones toddling around, and that gave you a boost of confidence. You kept moving back and forth across the room, traveling as far as 10 feet one time. I was overjoyed to see you testing your legs out and you seemed to love it too.

I can't believe how much you've changed this past year. You've grown into such a happy, giggly, sweet little soul. You know what you want and express yourself so well. You're great with new people and new spaces, and very rarely do we have to worry about public meltdowns. As parents, we'd like to take credit for your great nature, but I really think you're just a cool little man who's had space to grow.

Somewhere in the past twelve months I've grown into a woman who feels very comfortable in the "mommy" shoes. So comfortable that I have a hard time remembering what life was like before you came along.

I want you to know how very loved you are and how much I'm looking forward to the coming year. You are going to reach such great heights, and I am so happy to be there to witness it.

I love you love you love you (to the moon and back),


Andy said...

"to the moon and back" -

I read "Guess How Much I love You" to Jenna every weekend for nearly two years beginning at age four and then she read it to me for one more when she learned to read.

Two years ago I bought her a framed print of the cover to this book for her bedroom.

She cried.

I love this book.

Andy said...

Happy Birthday, River!!

Summer Ryan Doyle said...

See, I never knew that book, but my mom always says "To the moon and back." It makes me think of her and smile.

Happy Birthday Mom!