In a couple weeks you'll be 9 months old. It's hard to believe we've spent almost a year together. It's gone by entirely too fast. Already I can see some of your little quirks and mannerisms fading away into something new. Try as I might, I haven't been able to capture all of them in pictures or writing, and I'm afraid they might be gone forever if I don't write about them now. So excuse me for the gushing I will be indulging in for the next few paragraphs.
You really light up a room, when you want to. With fat rosy cheeks, bright shiny eyes and the biggest gummy grin I've ever seen, it's no wonder you draw all attention to yourself. People can't help but smile when they see you, and you usually oblige them with a flirtatious smile in return. When Daddy or Mommy enter the room, you pump your arms and pant with excitement, and even after a hard day of work, we inexplicably find ourselves rolling around on the floor like idiots, just to hear that heart-warming giggle bubble from your belly. When I pick you up, you greet me with an open mouth, usually looking for milk, but satisfied with a nose or cheek to slobber on. You also prefer to constantly have a tangled fistful of hair or beard in your sticky dimpled hand. I'm on the market for a doll with lots of hair.
My favorite moments with you are those precious minutes before bed, when you've been thoroughly nursed, burped and changed. Your heavy eyelids droop with contentment, and you flop back into my arms, and let me rock you and sing to you without your usual restless wiggles and grunts. You rarely protest when it's time to sleep - both at nap time and night time. We're lucky that you enjoy your rest, and hope this never stops.
There are nights, however, when you want to stay up and party with the rest of us. You'll go to bed at the usual hour (8:00), but wake up an hour later bright-eyed and bushy tailed! This is usually when we're watching a movie in the living room, so we plop you between us, and you quietly watch until you've had your fill and nod to sleep again. We don't complain, as you usually like to sleep in the morning after. :) When you wake up, you talk to yourself peacefully for half an hour while Mommy and Daddy catch a few extra winks. There comes a point though, when the day must begin for you, and you pull up your crib bumper to peek up at us and let us know when that time comes. Gone are the days of sneaking out of the room unnoticed for a quick pee or glass of water before taking you out of your crib. Without fail you catch us, your little intelligent eyes peering between the bars, as if to say "and where do you think YOU'RE going?"
Undoubtedly, your favorite times are meal times. I mean SOLID meal times. Breastfeeding you has been a challenge and a blessing. I cherish the intimate time with you, and don't want to give it up just yet. However, you have to be almost famished to have a good nursing session. Otherwise you'll play, squirm, talk, smile, bite, look around, and sometimes bite while looking around (OUCH!!!). I know the time will come when you'll lose interest completely, and I can finally have my body back to myself. Until then, I'll still enjoy that bond that is nobody else's but ours.
But back to solid foods. Your stomach is like clockwork. When it's time to eat, you mercilessly shout "NA NA NA NA!!!!!" until we put you in your chair and prepare your meal. Nursing won't suffice at times like these. You want FOOD. Your favorite foods are oatmeal, prunes (thank God), carrots, sweet potatoes and pears. We also discovered, on Thanksgiving, that you LOVE cranberries. Too bad those are hard to come by in Japan. Foods you don't enjoy so much are peas (which give you gas), pumpkin (you hate the homemade stuff I made, but you like the nasty freeze-dried and powdered Japanese kind - yuck!), and green beans (which you'll tolerate if you think it's all you can get). When you're eating something yummy though , you groan with pleasure with each bite. It's so loud that we can hear you from the other room.
You take your play time seriously. You can usually be found on your little futon in the living room, a stern look of concentration on your face as you tap, taste, or talk to your toys. Like most babies, you prefer "non-toys," with a particular fascination in cell phones, water bottles, books, paper and the usual pots and pans. You also enjoy a set of round boxes I bought at the 100 yen shop, which Daddy uses to create a "tower of toys," while you patiently wait to knock them down. Daddy also likes to tickle you with his beard, which elicits all kinds of fun little squeals. You're especially ticklish on your thighs, belly, under the arms, and just under your chin. Your only defense mechanism against such assaults is to pull hair or slobber on the face of your attacker. Neither of these tactics will work on Daddy though, because he has no hair to pull, and his beard is too itchy to slobber on. This makes him a formidable tickling machine.
You have a keen sense for people. You know which people you can play with, and which to leave alone. You can sense danger or malcontent that isn't so obvious to us grown-ups. It takes us longer to figure out if someone might be a shady character, but you can tell in an instant. You don't let these people fool you. You're also understandably frightened of barking dogs, though we hope to expose you to some quiet, amiable ones so you won't be afraid of Frankie and Winston. You're a brave, curious little girl. You try new foods with delight, peek around corners with interest, and love playing peek-a-boo and being tossed into the air. We took you for your first DPT shot, and you didn't bat an eye when the doctor stuck your little arm. We all watched you expectantly, waiting for the eruption of tears and you just calmly looked back at us like, "what?"
You're the best listener I know. When you're in my arms, I can tell you all of my hopes and fears, and trust they'll be safe. I'm so blessed to have you, to share with you this roller coaster we call life. You are the light of our lives, our pride, our happiness, our joy and our hope. I love you more than I knew I could.