Love, Joleen: 12 Months

Saturday, December 21, 2013

12 Months

Dear Benjamin,
I'm sorry it's taken me so long to write this letter! The last two months have been an absolute whirlwind to say the least! First your cousin, Aiden, and Auntie Aimee came to visit from California. They were here for your birthday party, which we had in early November so that it wouldn't get lost in the holiday shuffle. I'm so glad we planned it that way. The day after your party we went to GG and Papa's house for dinner and gift opening. Afterward we all went to the park for a while. It was nice to break things up this way and to continue the celebration. I never had a chance to share these photos, so here are some of my favorites from that day:
Also, while they were here I really wanted to get the following photo of you boys with GG and Papa. They're such a special part of our lives and I can't tell you what having this photo means to me. Mommy is very close to them and I love that they've been here to see you grow over the last year.
We wanted to celebrate you on your birthday intimately, just me and Daddy. Daddy took the day off of work and we had the entire day planned. When you first woke up he took you to play in the living room while I blew up lots of balloons to fill your crib. When he brought you back in to see what we'd done, you were so excited!! I loved seeing the excitement on your face!
We had big plans to take you to see the Disney movie, Frozen, as it was opening day. You've been to 5 or 6 movies already, but never while walking. You hardly made it through the previews when we had to call it a day and as for a refund. We laughed about the whole thing, figuring that might have been the case. We decided to go to the mall instead. It was during the week and there was no line for Santa. You were looking totally precious in your birthday outfit so we thought it was the perfect time for your Santa photos! You were nervous (which you can tell because you were wringing your hands) but you hit it out of the ballpark. Bravo!
After seeing Santa, we had lunch and then took you home for your afternoon nap. Then it was time for your smash cake, which of course, you loved!
It was a wonderful day, month really, of celebrating YOU!

The following week, on December 5th, I took this photo of you with your giraffe (right), exactly one year after the photo on the left. These photos pretty much sum up how I feel about the last year. Whoa. It amazes me how much you have grown and developed in just one short year. I can't believe how quickly it went. I know this is just the beginning and that before I know it you'll be starting kindergarten, and that freaks me out! I love seeing you grow -- you're already such an amazing little human -- but a part of me wishes you could stay a little baby forever! But alas, you've already outgrown babyhood as you've officially become a toddler.
Physical Growth and Development
At your 12 month appointment you weighed 23 lb. 3 oz. and measured 31 inches tall. You're still wearing a size 4 diaper, although we're about to go up a size at night. I've just packed away most of your 12-18 mo. clothing because you've outgrown it! You're currently wearing mostly 18-24 months and some 2T. You also just moved into your size 6 shoes. You're either going to be really tall or have skis for feet. We had the roughest of weeks recently when you finally cut your incisors and 2 year old molars! They're still coming through so you put everything in your mouth but now that you have a mouth full I'm hoping it's a while before we have to go through anything like that again! 

You are so smart and I'm not just saying that! It is so fun for Daddy and me to see your little mind grow and discover how this world works. There are so many tasks you're mastering and it seems that every day it's something new. You love to "help" Mommy. You also understand "where is _______?" and you follow simple "commands" such as "Will you help Mommy throw this garbage in the trash?" (which you love!), or "Where is your basketball? Can you make a basket?" We're constantly impressed by how much you understand. You're also great at telling us what you want. You point at things or you give us repetitive cues that we've learned to rely on. For example, if you want to listen to music, you just walk over to the stereo and touch it. If I then ask, "do you want to listen to music?", you say "yeah", and get excited. If I see you yawning because you're tired, and I tell you it's naptime, you will go straight to the room and climb in the bed for me to nurse you [before going to your crib for your nap]. There are so many examples of this and you are visibly proud when we praise you for your learning mind and good behavior. Likewise, you hang your head or avert your eyes when you've been scolded or reminded not to do something. I love that you're already learning right from wrong. My heart swells at how eager you are to do the right thing.

Eating and Sleeping
At your appointment we also received a referral for you to see a local allergist who treats children. Your appointment was this morning. The doctor tested you for 10-12 common food allergies via "skin scrapes". I held you in my lap and you were able to keep it together for the first 5 or so but after that it was really hard to keep you still. It broke my heart to see you in pain like that! They came in twice after that to check for reactions. I was thankful when the doctor said that you do not have a dairy allergy. I am still undecided about how we'll move forward introducing dairy since a sensitivity to it does run in my side of the family. Unfortunately, the testing came back positive for a peanut allergy. I was so surprised! We've already been busy today filling prescriptions for an Epipen and various topical eczema creams for you, and getting rid of all peanut traces in our home. I'm trying to educate myself in what this all means, so that I could better advocate for you. "Thankfully", this is one of the more common and known allergies, and there are already a lot of precautions that people take for kids like you. For the time being, you are mostly in our care, which will make it easier to manage. I'm also holding out hope that this is something you will outgrow, but either way we will do everything we can to make sure you are safe and healthy.

You're mostly eating solid table food now and every day you're eating more at a sitting. For breakfast you have Cheerios and a pouch. You eat an apple a day, typically starting in the morning and finishing it sometime in the afternoon. Hehe. For lunch and dinner, you usually have some variation of what I'm making for myself. You still nurse or take a bottle [of Allementum] before any "sleep".

One of the reasons I was so adamant to get you into the allergist is because I would like to start transitioning your day time feedings to milk. Possibly. Right after your birthday, you went through this terrible sleep strike and for several days you were nursing around the clock. It got to the point where I couldn't even sit down without you demanding to eat! It was exhausting but I was relieved to find out that it was totally common for your age. Thankfully, that was really only for a few days and now you're mostly back to "normal".

You are still nursing several times at night, but more often now, you are sleeping in until 8 or 8:30, which I love! You're still co-sleeping at night which I'm also ready to transition from. Mainly because you're the biggest bed hog and not a very kind bed sharer. In an effort to be as close as possible, you often have a foot or some other body part in my face. You also enjoy waking me up in the morning by pulling my hair. I'm starting to look forward to the days when you have your own room. Also, your nap schedule is currently all over the place, and I think you might be wanting to move to just one nap. I'm trying to nurse the two nap schedule for as long as possible, but the last two days you've blown off your afternoon nap so I think you've made the decision for me. You're also going to bed later -- instead of 6 pm, we've been pushing it closer to 7.
As you've been learning, you've also begun to exert your opinions and favoritism. I love that the giraffe Auntie Heather gave you [before you were even born] is still your best toy. You sleep with it every day and it tickles me to see you hugging it in your sleep. Giraffes must be your favorite animal because your absolute favorite book right now is My Pet Giraffe. Kids your age supposedly can't recognize books from their binding, yet you're able to bring this book to us 5 or more times a day to read to you. It's honestly the sweetest thing.

You love music and dancing! We LOVE to see you dance! You sure can get down, son. Here is a video I recently shared. I love that you're experimenting with different moves and when you discover your hands could get in on it too! The. Cutest! You don't neccesarily have a favorite CD to listen to but Mommy's favorite for you is Songs in French for Children. You absolutely love when sing The Itsy Bitsy Spider and it's currently our go-to distraction when we need one for you. You've recently started throwing tantrums, especially when getting into your car seat, so we'll accept any and all working distractions. Along the lines of music, you love the musical instruments you received for your birthday. The other toys you play with most are the Melissa & Doug Car Carrier (you carry around the carrier sans cars) and your Fisher-Price Pop Onz. You love carrying around the bag, which is half your size, and asking us to unzip so you can take them all out. You like putting them all back inside, just as much!
I mostly call you Peanut [which is pretty ironic now] and I love that you respond to it. When Aiden was here and I called you that, he thought it was just the funniest thing ever! Daddy calls you Peanut sometimes, too, but he still mostly calls you Chunk. It has been the most incredible year of my life and I couldn't possibly love you any more than I do. You challenge and stretch me daily. You teach me about myself, about other people, and about this world as I see life through you. You're a beautiful person, Benjamin, and I'm so proud to be your mama.

I love you forever, 

PS - I have plans for something different to document 13-24 months, but it has been such a great experience writing these letters to you over the last 12 months. Here is an easy reference for you [Enjoy!]:
1 Month
2 Months
3 Months
4 Months
5 Months
6 Months
7 Months
8 Months
9 Months
10 Months
11 Months
12 Months

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