May(ish) round up

For the past couple months, I’ve told myself that at the end of the month, I want to do a brief round up post about new things we’ve tried, found, enjoyed, etc. I’m not going to promise these every month because… life. And, I’m not going to promise pretty pictures because… life. However, eventually we want to have baby #2, and my brain is already mush, so I can look back at these posts and remember what was successful with Ezra. Plus, I’d love to pass along activities that I found useful or fun or books I found enjoyable. Pinterest can be awesome or a dark, overwhelming pit. Sometimes I just want to grab an idea or two from someone. And, I hope you’ll drop some suggestions in the comments about what you are enjoying.

Let’s start with books. First on my list is Unsupermommy by Maggie Combs. If you have a little under 2 years old, you should get this book. For sure. Even if you have kids older than that, you might enjoy a copy. And, if you know someone having a baby, get her a copy. This book is about keeping your parenting focus gospel-centered. As I read, I felt like Maggie was the mom I could type to on Facebook at midnight to confess what a horrible parenting job I was doing, and she could offer empathy and new perspective. Usually when I’m done reading a book I really enjoy, I tuck it away in the basement in case I want to get back to it someday. This book gets to stay on an easily accessible shelf because I plan reread it if we have a second baby. It’s the perfect book to keep nearby during late-night nursing sessions or mornings that are too early. Here’s one of my favorite quotes: “They’re [babies] are trying so hard to adapt to this wild new world around them. and we have so many expectation for their behavior. Don’t let your relationship with your baby begin with your disappointment. Create a place where imperfection is met with unconditional love. Your response to your baby’s failures is their first glimpse of the grace God lavishes on us.”

Next on my book list is the Aunt Dimity series by Nancy Atherton. Even though I absolutely positively do not need any more books for myself, I drift toward the mystery section at book sales and try to grab at least one book by an author I’ve never read before. That’s how I stumbled across Aunt Dimity and the Next of Kin. If you’re a fan of cozy mysteries, you might want to check out this author. I keep browsing at the thrift store and book sales for more of these books. They are a bit elusive.

And, on the kid’s book front, I’ve been enjoying Sandra Boynton’s simple little board books. The Going to Bed Book is one we read over and over because when Ezra spotted the animals brushing their teeth, he would use his finger to brush his, and it was just too darn cute to not read the book a bunch of times. We also enjoyed Boynton’s CD, Blue Moo: 17 Jukebox Hit from Way Back Never. Artists including Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys and B. B. King sang the tunes, so the quality was better than many, many kid’s music. I was bummed MP3 downloads of the individual songs were not available on Amazon. I guess we’ll just check this out again from the local library.

Speaking of the local library, I also found the gem The Uglified Ducky in the midst of checking out books on CD for Ezra. I was laughing aloud in the car while I listened to the book. Do yourself a favor and let the author Willy Claflin read the story to you on YouTube.

I’m going to end on some other YouTube finds. I’d love to leave you with some activities; I checked out books about activities but haven’t actually read the books about activities… Please tell me you know how that goes.

I have started to try to put together a playlist of action songs to sing with Ezra. Right now, he doesn’t engage in the motions, but he is starting to recognize some of the songs and enjoy them. I think he’ll be ready to act out the songs soon. In the meantime, I promise that if you put together a little action song playlist and dance like a fool in your living room for 20 minutes, you CAN fit in that workout that you’ve been promising yourself. Ezra starts smiling when I start singing Driving in My Car. It’s a fun way to teach to the concepts of fast and slow, and you can make up motions even if you have 0% imagination. I’ve also enjoyed Boom Chicka Boom because it’s upbeat and silly.  Walking in the Jungle isn’t my favorite as far as action songs go because the rhythm is a little odd, but Ezra enjoys the animal sounds and storytelling pace of this one. And, he LOVES What Do You Hear? If you can get over the ridiculously bad cat sound in the video, it is fun to see the puppets and clips of live animals.

Alright, I’m going to end that little round up here. I went to a bag sale at the library the other day. I frantically pawed through books and came away with 3 bags of books, but I haven’t had time to sort and savor them yet, so I’m off to do that. In the meantime, what are you reading, watching, loving right now? You get bonus points if you point me toward some awesome mom blogs, Podcasts, or parenting YouTube channels. And, you also get bonus points if you tell me about any kid-geared educational videos on YouTube that involve trucks because Ezra is obsessed with trucks right now.




Ezra – 16 Months

Dear Ezra,

You’re 16 months old. Daddy gave you your first official hair cut and buzzed all your sweet baby hair off. I almost cried. Now unless you are drinking your last bottle of the night or screaming in the middle of the night, it’s hard to ever pretend you’re a baby. Even when I’m rocking you at night, you seem so grown up. You will grab my hand and tuck it right where you want it to rest while we rock. You like my hand resting on your chest and tummy; it must remind you of all the times I swaddled you tight and rested my hand on your chest to try to calm you when you were little.

Other than your first haircut, you had a few other firsts this month. You got your first stomach yuck that made you vomit. Thankfully it was for about 12 hours, and you were a trooper. And you got your first two molars. Those were some rough nights, but they blended in with the rough nights we continue to have with you. You got to feed ducks for the first time, and you were a natural. You’re my little toddler now, and a sun-kissed one at that. You continue to want to be outdoors any time it’s possible.

You also went to your first library programs. It’s interesting to watch you walk into a new setting. Usually we’re there for 30 minutes before you loosen up and are ready to show your full personality. After you acclimate, you start getting braver and wandering farther and farther from mama. The two library programs for this month were just free play, and you gravitated to the truck mat each time. You are all about the cars and trucks ALL. THE. TIME. You love seeing trucks on the street, trucks on TV, trucks in books. If you see a new truck toy, you’re immediately drawn to it. Your little purring sounds from last month have grown into full blown Brrrum….brum…. brum sounds. You like to drive your cars and trucks down ramps. You’ll line them up on couches and chairs. And, you even think mama or dada’s legs make good truck highways. I love watching you play with your trucks, and I love that they can keep you busy for 20-30 minutes easily.

I also find reading to you grows more enjoyable as time passes. This month you started to react to content in your books. One book has a picture of animals brushing their teeth, and when we get to that page, you start to brush your teeth without prompting. Another book has pictures of kids waving at Thomas the Train, and your little hand starts waving too as we turn to the page. And, it blew my mind the other day when I turned the page and one of the illustrations (among others) was a baby playing peek-a-boo, and you put your hands up to your face when you saw it.

Your dada and I continue to love watching you make connections with the world. At times, they are ridiculously comical. Ever since you were an itty bitty baby, if you burped, I’d gently chide you and say, “Uh…piggy!” Fast forward to you on the cusp of toddlerhood and figuring out that animals make noises. You also have taught yourself to belch. We found a YouTube video that grabs your attention by showing various animals making noises. As we watched it, you saw the pig and manufactured a huge belch. We chuckled and played the video again. It was no coincidence that you chose to belch when you saw the pig. So, for now, in this house, piggies belch instead of saying oink. This could lead to serious embarrassment for your dada and me, but we can’t help laughing at you either.

Some days feel like a marathon as I try to keep up with you, but it’s a marathon full of laughs and learning and love.Ezra on playground

Ezra 14 and 15 months

reading in the car

Dear Ezra,

Whew! You have been giving us a run for our money. I feel like the past two months have been the most challenging since your first 3 months. You heard that babies do a 14-month sleep regression, and you took the challenge head-on. Often you decided to wake multiple times a night or decided to stay awake 90 minutes before consenting to go back to sleep. No amount of soothing, crying, frustrated mommy groaning, or milk bribes would convince you to go back to sleep until you were good and ready. Equally sad (and frustrating) is the fact that you don’t wake up happy in the morning now. I miss my baby who would jump up and down in the crib when I walked in the room. Now you cry and melt down the side of your crib back to the mattress. We’ve also entered the stage that mamas dread. You know what you want far more precisely than you have the words to communicate. That had led to many tears and experimentation with tantrums. You briefly tried a pose where you would get on all fours and put your forehead to the ground. You abandoned that pose after you put your head to the ground with greater frustrated gusto than you probably intended. A sore forehead convinced you of the error of those ways, but you’re not done experimenting with other tantrum poses. I suppose none of this should have surprised your dada or me. Even in the womb you did everything with every fiber of your being, so as you go through each developmental phrase, including this one of finding your will and making it known, you fully immerse yourself into it.

Laughing with you has still been more frequent than all the sighs and tears. Your drawn out “oooo” of two months ago has morphed into tiny whispers of “wow” whenever something amazes you. As you say “wow” your little pointer finger comes out, your whole body goes stiff, and you gently bounce. The whole world melts away except for the object of your amazement. Your dada and I still chuckle even after hearing “wow” at least a thousand times. Indeed, the world is full of things that make you joyful. Just the other day, you were walking around the neighborhood with us (yep, on your own two legs, the whole way around the neighborhood). A garage door opened, which is heaven to you. The canopy of a tree was blocking your line of sight, so we turned around to find you squatted down on your haunches to watch the opening garage door.  Riding with your car window down a crack causes you to chatter about who knows what. Your poor puppy endures you throwing multiple balls on her because you want her to play.

In two short months, you went from needing motivation to walk to walking everywhere, sometimes even walking just to walk in circles. You’re right on the brink of running and are starting to learn the game of chasing people or being chased. You can also walk backwards, shuffle sideways, and spin in a circle. You live to be outside and spend much of your time with your nose pressed against the front or back doors. If you hear either one open, you drop everything and arrive as quickly as possible at the portal to the outdoors. You would live on the deck if I let you. Once you’re out there, you rearrange all the chairs, and one day, you pressed your face between the deck rails and chattered and squealed relentlessly until the neighbor across the street waved at you.

You are interested in all the routines of the house. You continue to want to “help” with cooking by stirring ingredients together. You got a play vacuum and knew just want to do as soon as I showed it to you, and I need to get you a dust mop so you’ll leave us and our mop in peace. You talk on the “phone” all the time. It could be your play kitchen phone, some old cell phones we gave you, your toy phones, and even a calculator. You hold them all up to your ear and chat away. When dada gets you undressed, he asks where your dirty clothes go, and you will throw them in your hamper. You also are reasonably helpful at putting your arms in your shirt and lifting each leg to put it in your pants. You even pull clothes out of your hamper and pretend to dress yourself. Usually this results in you slinging a pair of pants around your neck like a scarf, but it’s adorable that you are so interested in trying to dress yourself. You’ve also started trying to put on your own shoes (and mama or dada’s shoes if they are more near at hand). If we put on our shoes, you either run over to us or find a pair of your shoes and bring them to us. You hate it if someone leaves the house without you. When we ask if you want to brush your teeth, you run your finger through your lips. And, if you find my bathroom drawer open, you are sure to grab a hair brush (or two or three).

We stop often for you these days whether it be to navigate tearful frustrations as you can’t express your desires or as you hear the dreaded word “no” when we understand your desires and deny them. We also stop often for you to see where you’re pointing or what has caused the latest wow. Your personality is vibrant, and we love what you add to our lives.

One Year of Motherhood

I turned 38 last Tuesday. I could ponder what it means to be so close to 40, but I find my thoughts instead turning to the last year — the first full year of my life that I’ve been a mother. What a life-changing year. As I reflect, I keep mulling over the aspects of motherhood that have shocked me the most. Unlike the relatively easy adjustment of marriage, adjusting to parenthood has been work – hard work, self-crucifying work, rewarding work.

The first shocker was sleep deprivation. Not sleep deprivation itself. I expected sleep deprivation and put it near the top of the list of what I was most dreading for the year. What has shocked me is the way this sleep deprivation drags on. We’ve been blessed with a smart, funny, tender-hearted little guy; he’s wonderful in so many ways, but he’s a crappy sleeper in many ways and has been since he was born. Interrupted nights are still the norm more than the exception in our house. What has also shocked me is how utterly and completely mean I am when I’m sleep deprived. I’ve found layers of me that have not been fun to find; I find myself in need of a spiritual renovation to refine these rough edges. And, I also recently started some Plexus supplements to try to bring some hormonal balance too. Sleep deprivation has not just been a fringe issue this year; often it has felt like the core of the struggle.

The next shocker was how desperately I needed to lean into my marriage while finding it harder than ever to maintain it. Mark and I have never had a knock down drag out fight – ever. And, we rarely even have skirmishes, but the ones we have had are concentrated in the post-baby days. We learned in pre-marital counseling that cultivating a transparency about expectations is one of the best practices a couple can commit to. The tricky part about having a baby is that an entirely new mountain of expectations emerges. In the earliest, most sleep-deprived, most hormonal days, I didn’t even fully know myself what my expectations were, but I did have panicky, knee-jerk reactions when they were not met. To give an example, one night I stewed all night long that Mark hadn’t asked me if I needed my water bottle refilled before he went to bed. I was angry all night at him, and I was angry at myself because even while I was busy fighting a million imaginary arguments with him in my mind, I knew that I was being ridiculous. He was surprised when I climbed into bed at 6 am and started sobbing. And, he did ask me more often if I needed water. I wasn’t under the illusion that having a baby wouldn’t change my marriage, but I was under the illusion that working as a team to parent would be easier than it has been on some days. (and that’s with a kick-butt, super awesome partner on my side). At the same time that these expectations and tensions were introduced, I also learned afresh how much I value Mark as a partner. There have been many times that him putting his arm around me at 3 am when I finally (maybe) get to sleep have made all the difference in the world. And, it’s heaven when he says, “Go take a bath, honey; I’ve got the kid.” We’ve both seen a new side to our marriage, and I’ve been privileged to see a new side of my husband who is a patient teacher and devoted caretaker to our little guy.

I’ve also been shocked by how different my perception of the world is. Having a baby has made me see the world in entirely different ways. Some of that is the simple, practical side of things — which restaurant has enough ambient noise to cover the noises of a baby, which stores have decently clean changing tables, which shopping venues have the best carts for kids. Some of the changed perspective is expressed in what we do. We never wandered through the animal barn at the local farm market before, but now we detour there frequently so Ezra can see the chickens and ducks. We never lurked around playgrounds, but I have a feeling I’ll spend 75% of my days this summer at playgrounds. And, at its deepest level, my changed perspective is coming through slowing down to discover the world all over again. Spring is here, so I’m being introduced almost as if for the first time to geese honking though the sky. On our walks, we take time to crunch leaves underfoot. As we watch nature shows on TV, I’m reminded to say “Wow” at squirrels dart through the trees. (Long, drawn-out, whispered “wows” are the soundtrack of our life right now). I pray over Ezra that God will protect his curiosity and use it someday to see new solutions to problems that people or organizations have, and I feel as his mom the weight of responsibility to keep that sense of curiosity alive for him.

Finally, I’m shocked by how much motherhood is cheerleading. I’m not a cheerleader by nature. If you read my personality type profile, you’ll find that I’m driven to perfection, and while I drive myself, I’ll drive others just as hard. And, I see that. I know that side of my personality can become parenting liability. But, I also see a side of me that has found it easier than ever before to believe the best in someone. I still remember how crazy excited I got when Ezra turned his head from one side to the other to follow a toy. I ran for my phone, so I could video the astounding feat. When he batted at a toy, I was beside myself. When he puts his laundry in the basket in his room, he gets a “good job, buddy” for every single piece of clothing that goes into the basket. Every. single. piece. As he clumsily shoves his spoon, upside down and mostly empty by the time it gets there, into his mouth, I see progress not failure. (And, mess, lots of mess). I was laughing with someone who has a younger baby. I was telling her that looking back at videos now, some of the milestones we got excited about are unimpressive in hindsight. And, I know many of today’s milestones will be the same in hindsight, but that doesn’t make them lose their wonder. That doesn’t dull the praise that’s heaped upon Ezra today for the new skills he learns. I find my definition of perfection expanding; my bar of expectation finally (mercifully) lowering. 

I’d love to hear from you. What did you/do you find most shocking about motherhood?

And, just for giggles, I’ll leave you with a shocking text conversation that just happened this morning in our house. I didn’t see this coming.



Ezra – 13 months

Ezra sunglasses - 1-2019Ezra, I was going to stop writing these monthly updates last month at the same time we stopped taking those crazy milestone pictures. Nevertheless, while I can let go of wrestling with you so you sit still next to a giant stuffed animal, you are still changing too fast to give up writing my favorite memories of you each month. I love looking back at all the funny little phases that you went through.

You started walking this month! One week and one day after your birthday, we had all four grandparents over for a little party. After chowing down on your favorite dessert, pumpkin pie, we took you downstairs to open your presents and play. With a ring of adoring grandparents surrounding you, you decided it was the golden opportunity to take your first steps between Grandmom and Gongy. You certainly picked a moment when you would get lots of cheers. For the most part, you’ve still spent the month crawling, and you still act like you have Jello legs if mama or dada try to get you to walk on command. However, if you’re motivated by something of high interest, you’ll walk, and you’re quite good at it.

You also have started following directions quite well. You love our morning routine. Mama or dada will tell you to put your duck paci away, and you love to throw it in the crib… so much so that often you try to throw it from across the room. (I hope you stay that excited about doing chores.) Then, I tell you that it’s time to turn off the light, and you turn your attention to the light switch. When we tell you to jump, you start bouncing up and down. And, you’ve started to make rudimentary animal sounds. When we ask you what a cow says, you say, “mmm.” And, when we make a rooster sound, you have your own little baby crowing sound that you make. Along with following directions, you are even more tuned in to what is going on around you. You are interested in watching us cook. It fascinates you to see ingredients get mixed together, and if we let you handle a rolling pin or try to stir something, you are eager to participate.

You continue to love music. You’ll still sing a little version of lalala bamba if we sing it for you. And, you and dada have some rowdy dinner dance parties that make you laugh big belly laughs.

Your other accomplishments are learning to get onto the couch by yourself though it’s a little hit or miss. Sometimes you can get up there without help, and sometimes you get frustrated because you just can’t pull it off. One of your favorite expressions is “Oooooo…” You purse your lips into an exaggerated “O” and coo “Oooooo.” We love it! We’ll often try to anticipate what will please you enough to make your let out your little coo. You love your frozen bananas. We store them in an ice cream container, and as soon as the container comes out of the freezer, you start doing a jig in your high chair. You also do the same thing when you see a cheese stick. You even know what the cheese stick wrappers sound like as they separate from each other, so sometimes you are reacting to the cheese sticks before you’ve even seen them. Instead of tasting everything (though a decent amount of stuff still makes it into your mouth), you now test most things by sitting on them. You sit on one of your toys in the playpen like it’s a makeshift stool; you sit on the parking garage for your cars.

Your dada and I continue to love seeing you learn about the world around you. We love how you find so much humor in life that you often crack yourself up. And, we, of course, love you just for being you.

Resolution Check-in

You may remember my snazzy two-sided checklists. If you want the nitty gritty about how they played out in January, slog through the next few paragraphs. If you simply want the big philosophical lessons learned, scroll fast. I’ll alert you when to stop with a bold headline.

I only hit my goal of 5 quiet times one week out of the month. Most other weeks, I got in four. Overall, I saw growth but more room for growth. Not a total loss but not a win.

My kitchen counter wavered between disaster and zen. Except for one week, I cleaned the counter every week even if it took scrambling on Sunday night. But, I found myself cheating by shoving paperwork that needed tending behind the napkin holder or moving it to another surface. The goal for this month is to take care of paperwork instead of stashing it. Ugh…. I hate paperwork.

As for monthly cleaning, I would like to trumpet that the house got vacuumed more than once so loud that we can’t talk about the bathrooms… Ask me next month, m’kay.

The other monthly goals were interesting in what they revealed about what I do with “me time.” I exceeded my blog goals and fell short one sewing goal. During my responsibility-free evening, I found it hard to not direct the parenting decisions (and wasn’t entirely successful at being silent). And, I worked on my side gig of consignment toy selling instead of relaxing. The volunteer schedule for the big consignment sale was released at 8 am the Saturday I was supposed to sleep in. (What?!?) I got up early to snag the shifts I wanted and couldn’t fall asleep again.

The projects section of the checklist was the most helpful part of this endeavor. I got some annoying stuff done. Super dumb stuff that I’ve been meaning to do for months (or years). Stuff like finally switching an auto-payment from a credit card I want to close. Stuff like FINALLY ordering checks with both our names on them and our correct address, so I don’t have to run to my husband every time I want a check. Are you ready for this one? Stuff like unpacking the last of our hospital bags from the birth of our now one-year old. I also made significant progress on the large projects of reorganizing our pantry/coat closet and cleaning our storage room.


If you skipped all the nitty gritty, here’s where you can tune in again for some big picture learning.

Lesson 1: Timing is not everything, but it’s important. One of the first adjustments was my conception of a week. I was thinking it would run Sunday-Saturday, but I had to switch to a Monday-Sunday schedule. That gave me two days with Mark home to tie up loose ends. I don’t like how my procrastination pushes so much to Sunday, so I’m still working on that rhythm, but overall, letting a full weekend end the goal cycle seems to be best.

The system of having 4 small tasks, 2 30-minute tasks, or a 2-hour investment into a project per week worked well. First, I could look at the week overall and decide what would best mesh with what we already had on the calendar. And, when I broke the 2-hour projects down into 4 30-minute time blocks to cross off the list, I’d set my phone timer for 30 minutes and usually wind up spending at least a few minutes more beyond the 30.

Lesson 2: Life looks a little different now. I need to get my head back in the game with the kitchen counter, but at the beginning of January, I was finding that I would proactively pick up an item or two off the counter throughout the week because I knew it would make life easier when I did the big cleaning. I also found myself chipping away at other areas of the house to prevent them from becoming projects. After I had completed the project of unpacking our hospital bags from a year ago in our bedroom, seeing mess start to accumulate again was obnoxious, so I made a point of tucking stuff away before the bedroom had to become a project again. I’m annoyed that our hallway had to go on the project list for this week because I wanted to chip away at it, but time is finite…

Lesson 3: I don’t take enough  time for self-care. I love my little side gig of toy flipping, but it’s a side gig that can be time consuming. I should have taken the responsibility-free night and the sleep-in morning for myself — like really myself not just to work on the side gig I love that has a deadline. How do I know? I usually start having crazy dreams when I get stressed or let something consume me too much. A couple weeks ago, I woke Mark in the middle of the night by shoving the covers off him and picking at him. I was saying, “What kind of blocks is this made of?” We had a good laugh at 3:30 in the morning; nonetheless, I should take more time this month to sew and enjoy a good audio book even if I have a consignment deadline. This self-care won’t be easy. When I made my lists at the beginning of January, Ezra could play on his own for extended periods of time both upstairs and in the basement. I figured I could sit nearby and sew for a bit. I still can, but it’s going to be trickier. He no longer drives his little car around happily for 20 minutes. Instead, he drives it for 5 minutes then starts to use it as a mobile step stool to climb toward trouble. He seems to have the DNA of a mountain goat. Here he is in his typical, tip-toed stance to reach for EVERYTHING.

Ezra - play kitchen -12 months.jpg

Lesson 4: The lists did help with communicating expectations and with accountability. Mark jumped in to do some of the tasks on the lists, and he cheered me on (and pressured me — in a good way) to finish others.

So, how are you all doing on your resolutions? What are you learning from them? Any tips for keeping a one year old busy while you get other stuff done? How do you rope off time for your own self-care? Draw a boundary between what you love that is work and what is truly relaxing?

One Year – Happy Birthday

crawling w ballon

Dear Erza,

About this time exactly one year ago, I sat down on the couch and told your dada that I wanted to go to sleep early and get a full night of sleep just in case the doctor told us at the ultrasound the next day that it was time to induce mommy and hasten your arrival. We didn’t make it to that ultrasound, and I didn’t get that good night of sleep because at 3 am I woke up with intense contractions and knew you were ready to meet us. Tonight, I sat in the rocking chair upstairs and took a few extra minutes to sing you teary-eyed versions of Amazing Grace and Great Is Your Faithfulness. The emotion of knowing that tomorrow you’ll be my one-year-old and not my little baby got to me as did recalling God’s faithfulness in blessing us with you.

This month, we’ve had many adventures with you. We got to go to the Farm Show as a family, something your dada and I have dreamed of since before we got married. We had a blast watching you mimic the neighing horse, headbutt the sheep, and throw your own little dance party on the shuttle bus. We also took you on your first long road trip to Raleigh to visit your Aunt Jillian, and while we were there, you visited the science museum. You spent the day bouncing in your carrier when you saw exhibits that caught your attention and clapping anytime you saw something that might resemble a dog, including the sculpted wolves.

You still aren’t walking, but you are climbing like you are the spawn of mountain goats. You try to climb the back of all the furniture, stick your feet through your baby gates as if you wish there were footholds instead of open air, and use the seat of your little red car as a stepstool. Today I caught you trying to climb out of your playpen twice, which was horrifying to see. I don’t know what life is going to look like once I can’t contain you in there.

You are practicing walking. Your favorite place to practice is at your baby gates if I don’t lock them. You’ll open the gate, walk to the other side of it, close the gate, open it again, walk back through to the other side, again and again and again and again.

You’re more nuanced in your emotions, and I catch you trying to manufacture emotions suitable for the moment. Your fake cheesy smile where you scrunch up your eyes and cheeks is adorable, and when you’re upset but not too upset, you muster a pathetic half cry (that makes me laugh). You pause, close your eyes, wait a few seconds to let some tears build up, then let out a wail. Your excitement, however, is always genuine and dramatic. You’ll flail your arms, shiver your body, clap, squeal. You find delight in so many things. I think you’re also starting to understand hugs a little bit. You’ll sometimes spread your arms wide, lean your head on our shoulders, and pause there. And, my heart melts. Every. time.

You’re starting to mimic more sounds. You like to say “pop” when we say “pop, pop, pop.” You can copy us when we make sounds like a dolphin clicking, and when we’re playing with your books or toys that make animal sounds, sometimes you let out rudimentary growls, neighs, or moos. When I find you using the rail of your crib to bounce up and down, I’ll bend my knees and say “jump, jump, jump,” which keeps you bouncing. Sometimes, I swear that only your toes are left on the ground. But, when your daddy comes into the room and jumps up off the ground, you squat way down in your crib and then stand back up, then squat down again and stand back up in your baby version of big jumps.

You’re initiating play more often, which your dada and I love. One of your favorite games is to wrestle your giant stuffed puppy in your nursery. If I’m in the hallway folding laundry or ironing or tending to diapers, I’ll hear you squeal. That’s your signal that I should watch as you pull the puppy onto you or as you climb over it. You’ll also wrestle with dada and me. If we lie on the floor, you come crawling over and then clamber up on us squealing. You put your face down against ours, so we’ll kiss your neck to tickle it, wrap you in our arms, and roll back and forth with you. You also made up a game where we’ll put our head on your chest and pretend to snore. You push us away, and we play grumble, “Hey, you woke me up.” You laugh and laugh. Then you grab our head and pull us to your chest again, so we can snore and restart the game.

Sleeping has been much better this month since we figured out you weren’t actually ready to let go of the second nap. Now that we’re back on a 2 nap schedule, you’re sleeping better through the night, often sleeping from 7-7 with just your 10:00 feeding and diaper change.

As I reflect back on this whole year, it’s hard to wrap my mind around how much you’ve changed from a baby who we would cheer for if you batted at a toy to a bouncing, exploring boy. If I had to wrap you up into three words, I would call your energetic, curious, and pleasant.

Your energy seemingly knows no bounds. Any cuddles we get we are grateful for because they are rare. We know you adore us, but we’ve accepted that you have far too many things to do to want to sit on our lap and twiddle your thumbs. I remember sitting on the couch when I was still carrying you in my belly, and if your dada or I pushed a foot, hand, or butt, we’d get a kick back. We could watch you roll from one side of my belly to another or feel you stretch big. Nothing has changed. You are constantly on the go. I spend my days putting things you shouldn’t have out of your reach and watching you go from thing to thing to thing that you enjoy. If you harness that energy for good, you’re going to leave a mark on this world.

Curious should have been your middle name. You hate to miss a single moment. I could probably count on one hand the number of times that you’ve napped in public. It’s not because mama went home at nap time (I often didn’t). It’s because you could not bear the thought of closing your eyes if there were people to observe. I also love the careful way you examine toys to see how they work. You pick up on how to operate toys quickly. And, you are observant. We put a video monitor in your room, and as soon as you went in the room, you pointed to it on the wall. It took you three days to forget it was there. We’ve had you out and about, seen you lock in on something across a room, and realized that you spotted a balloon. When we take you for walks, you love to crunch leaves under your feet or kick sticks and rocks that we come across. I hope you never lose your sense of wonder.

And, you are such a pleasant, adaptable baby. Each time your great-grandma saw you in the few short months we had with her, she’d remark what a good, pleasant baby you were. And, she would recognize that in you still. You are up for adventures anytime. When we keep you up past your naptime or bedtime, you usually can do that with minimal drama. If it’s not bedtime related, you rarely cry or fuss. And, you love to see people laugh and frequently laugh yourself. You’re a baby who is fun to have around because there is always some antic that you want us to watch. I hope you always find joy in life and can see the good in situations.

And, if I added a 4th word, it would be handsome. You’re so cute. Really. You are. Just tonight someone in the store had to go out of her way to tell me how adorable you are, and that happens just about every time I take you somewhere. Even your daddy and I still can’t get over how adorable you are.

Ezra, we love you. Those are short words, but they are so true. Your dada and I had our lives completely changed by you, and we are completely blessed for it. This year with you has filled our hearts over and over and over again with a full of pride and joy kind of love. A can’t stop talking about you, look at pictures of you when we’re not with you kind of love. A willing to slow down the speed of life to accommodate you love. A go out of our way to amuse you kind of love. A thankful to God for each day we get with you kind of love.

Happy birthday!