I write these little love letters for a lot of reasons — to reflect, to record, to process, but mostly I write them to remember. You see, time has proven itself to move to swift for me, and when I think back on events not so long ago, they’re already cloudy. When it’s been years and not just months from now, I want to be able to remember your infancy and childhood, and these words help me to do just that. They help me to remember how your tiny almond eyes sparkle as they’re slowly turning green with telling spots of brown at their centers; how those almond eyes grow huge like sunsets when you grin, framed by lash-rays; how your two bottom teeth stick up awkwardly and lonely when you smile your typical wide-mouthed grin. These are all things that I want to remember and that I want you to know.
With each day you’re growing leaps and bounds, and, as always, I’m as eager for you to slow down as you are to move forward. This month you’ve been practicing standing on your own, and you’re getting pretty good at it! There’s no more struggle for you to pull yourself up and cruise, and most of the time you prefer to be vertical, standing tall next to your big sister, just trying to keep pace with her. You two are the best of friends, and spend most of your days wrestling and giggling with each other. The two of you love to play constantly, and nowadays you guys mostly love to play in your nurseries. E.V. encourages you excitedly, “C’mon, Cricket! C’mon!” as she leads you to her room, and you crawl as fast as your tubby legs will carry you right behind her. I love watching you through the monitor, E.V. dressing you up and you taking it like a champ, just happy to be included. Your relationship is developing with each day, and it’s heartwarming to witness. I can’t wait to one day recount at your rehearsal dinner, champagne in hand, about how much you guys loved each other from the start.
Cricket, you are teething like crazy these days! Those two bottom teeth are constantly gnawing on everything from fingers to toothbrushes to toys. I’m certain that we’ll begin to see signs of more teeth surfacing any day now. To help maintain your discomfort, you eat frozen peas and waffles everyday. You love the way they taste and they feel great on your gums — win-win! In fact, you pretty much love the taste of all foods, haha! Your dad and I refer to you as a garbage compactor because we could literally hand you anything and you’d gobble it up. At nine months old you’re completely off of jarred baby food already. You feed yourself almost 100% of the time. You love pouched pureed fruits and veggies, which makes me happy. You also love avocados, strawberries, grapes, hotdogs, meatballs, bananas (eaten full-on monkey-style), crackers, cereal, cheddar bunnies, yogurt, eggs…and, well, pretty much anything we give you! You’re still mostly nursing, but when we’re in the car or you have a sitter, you take formula just as easily. In fact, we left you at the church child care yesterday and they said you bit them, which confused me until I realized they didn’t give you your bottle! (Ha!) You were irked at their ignorance, and when I handed it to you, you chugged the whole thing faster than ever!
You are a good little sleeper, although this past week you and your big sister have been giving me a handful of naptime and nighttime troubles! Typically you take a snoozer sometime around 9:30 in the morning (usually in the car as we run errands), and then take a loooong afternoon nap from about noon until 3 p.m., which is when E.V. naps too. However, this week you’ve been taking two medium naps in the morning and in the late afternoon, and E.V. hasn’t wanted to nap at all! We all function (physically and mentally) on a schedule, so it’s been a rough go lately! Especially since your naps influence your bedtime and howe well you sleep at night. We fully believe that a well-rested baby rests well in the Shove household — and the past few days y’all have not been well-rested. However, it seems that yesterday and today we’ve got you guys back on track thankfully! I seem to have gotten my Golden Hour back (the one where both you and E.V. nap at the same time), so all is right with the world again. ;)
You are adventurous beyond measure, little one. You have no fear, and oftentimes I’m chasing after you as you head fearlessly into the unknown. You like to try and fly off the bed head-first, climb up the stairs with no hesitation, and prop up on the stone fireplace as if you’ve never bonked your head on it before. ;) If we leave a door open, you’re sure to go straight for it, curious to see what’s on the other side. (This includes our backdoor, which you love to find open and crawl out on your own.) You love to be outside the most, exploring the world around you with dirty knees and fistfuls of mud and rocks. You want to put everything in your mouth (including the aforementioned rocks), and I’m forced to do a finger sweep at least once a day. You have no fear, though, and nothing holds you back when you put your mind to it. There’s nothing that can stop you in life, and I love that about you already.
Crickie, you are my little mommy’s girl, always at my side. You’re often in tears when I set you down, and although I should be frustrated by that, I’m not. You just love people; being connected to others is part of who you are, and I can’t deny that need for affection. There’s this strange and wonderful dichotomy to you — being so fearless and independent yet so needy and desperately dependent all at once. You are caught between wanting to take on the world and wanting to be held close. And oh, Cricket, I would hold you every second of every minute of every day if I could. I love how snuggly you are, so warm and heavy you feel in my arms. The other day you fell asleep on my chest like a newborn baby, and it was heavenly. I dozed off as well, and when I roused, you were a warm ball of fire on me, happy and content with sleepy breaths and a puppy-like heartbeat. You are my baby, and I will never get past that, no matter how big you get.
I love you, little girl, fiercely and with a full and vulnerable rawness. Happy nine months, Cricket.
Me (and Daddy and E.V.)