My littlest is 11 months old. I am experiencing equal parts disbelief and excitement. What new adventure is waiting for my sweet little boy? When will he say his first word? Take his first step? Don't get me wrong, I'm not anxious for the disappearance of his babyhood and would not mind at all if he decides to keep doing his one-legged shuffle across the floor for another half year. As a second-time mom, I truly understand how precious and fleeting these baby days really are.
Also, I don't know if I'm ready to celebrate his first birthday. Logistically, I am beyond ready. I have the entire thing planned out. The games. The food. Mostly the games. I love birthday party games. I get to be ringleader for a troup of kids and then send them home when I get tired. It's pretty much my favorite thing ever. But the first birthday is basically the end of babyhood and the birth of toddlerhood. I'm not ready to give up my baby. In my mind, Ryan is still 3 months old. His smiles are still gummy. He will hold still for unlimited cuddle time. And his needs are so very simple. I've already lost one sweet baby to the terrors of childhood. I'm not ready to give up a second.
Also, how is it that I have only known him for a year? When he was born, it was as if someone had given me an entire new limb. A limb that I hadn't thought twice about not having when I didn't have it. And now that I have it, I am certain that I could not live with out it. If I can feel this way about Ryan, how many other future babies am I not realizing that I could never live without? (Does that even make sense?!).
Ryan is the master of smiles. The champion of giggles. He is in one word: happy. Happy in the morning. Happy in the evening. Happy to sit and watch the big people. Happy to entertain himself on the kitchen floor while I cook dinner. Happy to be included in a game with his brother. He is pretty much happy all the time. Until Jacob locks him in a carboard box. Or takes away his toy. Then all bets are off. I'm already amazed at how well he sticks up for himself when he absolutely needs to.
Aside from "mama" and "dada," Ryan is not saying any real words. But he loves to talk regardless. He will have an actual conversation with us in baby talk. We don't know what he is saying but we are certain from his expression that he is saying something. Ryan and I can have an enitre conversation just by saying different variations of the word "dah."
I remember at Ryan's age that Jacob liked to point at everything. Instead of pointing, Ryan will stretch out his open-fisted hand towards the object of his interest and exclaims, "dah!" We tell him what that object is and then he's on to pointing at the next thing that catches his eye.
"That is water, Ryan. Those are waves."
Ryan can and does eat pretty much everything. For dinner, I just give him whatever we are eating. Hunks of chicken, pasta, cheese, apples, pizza crust, bananas, even crackers. I have even given him an entire half of a ham and cheese sandwich. He likes babyfood but he loves to touch and feel and explore. So I am happy to turn every meal time into learning time. It's pretty ridiculous to walk down the babyfood aisle and see the parenting consumerism in it's full glory. Special pasta for toddlers? Pre-made baby meals? It's all kind of silly. It's a marketing trap. Babies are people. If they can chew, they can eat whatever you can eat. Except for honey, I guess. For some odd reason, honey and cow milk remain off limits for babies. But other than that, PSSHT.... babyfoood is so for babies!
I try to encourage Ryan to try all kinds of new foods. This doesn't mean, however, that I was entirely happy with Grandpa when he fed Ryan Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast. But according to Grandpa, that's what he "wanted" (sure, Grandpa) and he really did love it
A true Ryan smile is not complete unless his eyes are closed, his mouth is wide open, and his two front teeth are fully bared.
On Wednesday I was at my mom's house making dinner. One minute my baby was at my feet in the kitchen. The next he had disappeared. When I got to a stopping point in my cooking, I stepped away to find him. I discovered him not in the next room but on the next FLOOR! He is now the expert stair climber and has mastered going both up and down the stairs all by himself. He even knows he has to go down backward.
I love to watch him learn new things. Despite being the second baby and having to learn the rough and tumble world of living with an older brother, he's pretty cautious. He takes things slowly and uncertainly. This is one reason why he doesn't stand on his own even though I know for a fact that he can. He has done it a number of times but the second that he realizes he is not holding on to anything he immediately grabs for the nearest object and falls to his butt.
He's just like his mama in that respect. She's always falling on her butt too.
There are a lot of things that I want to remember about Ryan, his babyhood, and his personality. But my favorite is how, after you scoop him up and set him in your arms, he will wrap his arms around your body and lay his head on your shoulder for a good solid minute. We are blessed with these Ryan hugs very often as he liberally bestows them onto the people he loves. Grandpa is the most recent recipient of these Ryan hugs, to Grandpa's delight. My dad did not take a very active role in the daily care of his children. So it amazes me to see him be so involved with his grandchildren. He is re-learning all about changing diapers and making bottles. It's a mini miracle.
I have to say, I melt a little inside every time I see Ryan wrapping Grandma and Grandpa farther around his finger. Grandpa calls him his little buddy. When Ryan is in the same room as his grandparents, it's hard not to notice a dramatic increase in giggles, admiration, and love going both ways.
Dear little Ry-Guy, you are my sweet Mr. Dimples, my Little Bear, my Turkey-Butt, my Pig-Pig, and my entire world. (If Jacob is reading this, then Jacob, you are my sunshine.)