Happy birthday, my sweet Charleston! I’m not sure how it’s even possible—I’m pretty sure that God has been doing some tricks with the space-time continuum—but somehow we have arrived at the one-year anniversary of the day that you were born. In the past twelve months you have grown from a tiny, sleepy little newborn into a vibrant almost-toddler with a big smile and an even bigger personality. When you were born, I was sure that my heart was filled to capacity, but as you have grown, so has my love for you. These past twelve months haven’t always been easy, but over the course of the year you have proven to be an exceptional teacher, my greatest joy, an endless source of entertainment, and an exciting daily companion; not bad work for a baby!
This final month of your first year has been a full one! We celebrated your first Christmas, and it was so much fun! Our festivities began on December 23, Christmas Eve Eve. When your daddy came home from work, we delivered our Christmas presents to all the neighbors, then we came home and you got to open your special pre-Christmas gift: a set of Christmas jammies and a new Christmas book. We enjoyed reading your book that night in front of the Christmas tree, and I hope this will become a fun new Christmas Eve Eve tradition.
The next day we celebrated Christmas with Daddy’s extended family. You looked very handsome in your dapper Christmas outfit, and you stole the show as baby Jesus in the annual kids’ Christmas pageant. We weren’t sure how you’d do with being in front of so many people, but when it was time for the shepherds to visit baby Jesus, you bounced up and down and grinned from ear to ear. Only the real Jesus could have been a cuter!
When we got home that night, we changed you into your Christmas jammies and put out some milk and cookies for Santa. You weren’t too happy about helping us because it was late and you were tired, but we got the job done and guess what? Santa came! The next morning you opened the gifts he had left for you: some new balls to play with, and a fun wooden truck. You seemed most excited about the new sippy cups, toothbrush, and spoons he left in your stocking—to you, those things are still more fun than toys! After opening your gifts from Santa, we opened our family gifts. According to our new family tradition, you got four gifts: something you wanted (a wooden hammer set), something you needed (a second pack-and-play for our office), something to wear (a pair of tan mocs) and something to read (a 3-dimensional cloth book). You needed help opening your presents, but by the end you were starting to get the hang of pulling ribbons off packages and tearing at the paper. Like most kids, you liked the boxes and bows more than the gifts themselves, but it was still so fun for us to see you open and enjoy your presents.
We spent Christmas afternoon with Mommy’s family, where you had a blast doing your favorite activity at Opa and Oma’s house: climbing the stairs! And we had one more final celebration the day after Christmas, with your Grandma and Grandpa, your Uncle Tommy and Tía Amanda. So many wonderful gifts and so much fun playing. . . by the end of the weekend you were pretty worn out, but you had plenty of time to recover over the next few days because Mommy and Daddy got sick, so we mostly just stayed home. Because we weren’t feeling well, your first New Year’s wasn’t too exciting, but you happened to be awake at midnight so I took you outside to watch the fireworks and cheer with the neighbors who were out on their lawns. It was funny to think that your whole life to that point had been lived in 2015, and now a new year had begun. I never thought I would like having a baby with a birthday so close to Christmas, but it’s kind of cool how closely your years line up with the calendar!
This past month, I’ve been more curious than ever to see how you would change as we inched closer to your first birthday. I’m a bit surprised that you haven’t started walking, but you can stand on your own and are great at cruising along the furniture to get where you want to go. You are also an incredibly fast crawler. . . which might be why you haven’t been motivated to take your first steps! You try to climb everything, from the sides of your playpen to Mama’s legs. And in typical boy fashion, you enjoy all manner of roughhousing, whether that’s being tossed in the air, wheelbarrowing across a room, or enthusiastic tickle sessions.
It’s been fun to watch your personality emerge a bit more with each passing day. Your curiosity is your most prominent trait: you are always observing your surroundings, absorbing the people and objects around you. You like to explore every nook and cranny of our home, opening drawers and pulling items out of cupboards and off shelves. You usually toss these objects aside, but sometimes one will capture your interest and you will pass it back and forth between your hands or even push it around for a “walk” around the room. As long as you have something to occupy your attention, you are generally a very happy baby, and sometimes you will begin laughing hysterically for no apparent reason. You frequently shriek with excitement, squeezing your eyes shut and scrunching up your nose, then squealing through an enormous toothy grin. It makes me so happy to see you filled with such unadulterated joy—even when I have no idea what’s making you so happy! You have your fussy moments, too, usually when you are tired or are having your diaper changed (why do you hate that so much?!). I don’t like seeing you sad, but I admit that I feel pretty special when I’m able to soothe your tears.
It’s funny to think how much your playtime has changed over the course of the year. These days, your favorite games are chase and peek-a-boo. You like to be entertained and prefer to be free to roam around the house, but you will occupy yourself in your playpen for extended periods of time. (Your favorite playpen activity is throwing your toys over the side and waiting for us to give them back to you!). You enjoy playing with the activity cube you got for Christmas, you really like shredding paper towels, and you love riding your toy airplane, which lights up and makes lots of fun noises. You also love our daily walks and are always on the lookout for dogs and horses that we pass on the trails. We read together every day, and even though you seem more interested in eating books than reading them, you like to help me turn the pages and laugh at the pictures.
Your sleeping habits haven’t magically improved over the last month, though there has been some movement in the right direction. You usually nap once per day; the length and timing changes, but you generally sleep for about an hour in the late morning. Unfortunately, your naps are still in your glider, since you refuse to sleep in your crib. We’ve been consistent with your 8:00 bedtime, and after I nurse and rock you to sleep, I’m able to get you into your glider, where you usually sleep for a couple of hours before your first wake-up. Your dad and I take turns getting you back down, unless it’s after our own bed time, and then we just bring you into bed with us. Lately you’ve been doing great in our bed, and though you wake up and crawl around, you have stopped trying to crawl off the bed in the middle of the night. You usually let Mama sleep until 7:00 and sometimes even later! You’re a restless sleeper, but the cuddles are worth any disruptions to our own sleep. Unfortunately, I know that we can’t stick with this sleep routine: you need to learn how to fall asleep on your own, in your crib. To help you learn how to sleep, we are planning to do some sleep training with you soon. . . I’m dreading the training itself, and will miss rocking you to sleep and having you in bed with us at night, but I know that in the long run it will be what’s best for our whole family.
You are still a very good eater, and enjoy family meal times. When you first sit down to eat, you shovel food in your mouth with both hands. We still do mostly finger foods since you still haven’t mastered self-feeding with a spoon, and you do NOT like when I try to feed you. Though you like to eat, your preferences are fickle: you will love a food one day and hate it the next. And when you are done eating—even if its a favorite food—you begin throwing food off your high chair tray, which is NOT fun to clean up! In addition to solids, you are still nursing between six and eight times per day. You know where your milk comes from and will pull up my shirt to nurse when you’re hungry, which can be embarrassing when we’re in public! I’m proud of us for making it through a year of breastfeeding, and since it’s still going so well, I’m not planning on weaning you any time soon.
Have I mentioned how adorably hilarious you are? I love all of your funny little quirks, like the way you vigorously shake your head for no reason at all. When I try to copy you, you change directions and nod your head up and down, up and down. How do you not get dizzy?! You crack me up with the way you carry things around in your mouth when you crawl, and I enjoy hearing you narrate our days with sounds of “babababa” or your little pterodactyl squeal. (Okay, that one’s not always so cute; it’s pretty high pitched and it hurts my ears!) It’s so fun to see you bounce up and down like you’re dancing when you are excited, and it’s cute to watch you wave your hands in the air like you’re getting ready to party. I love your little sighs of exasperation, your random smirks and grins, your hilarious scrunched-up pooping face, the way you snuggle into our pillow when we sleep. . . . you continually blow me away with your capacity for cuteness!
Your twelfth month ended as twelfth months tend to do. . . with a first birthday. The night before your birthday, I rocked you to sleep and sang “I Love You Forever” like I do every night. But that night, I barely got through the first two words before I was crying my eyes out: I had been struck with the reality that this was the last time I’d rock my baby (non-one-year-old) to sleep. I’m excited to see you change and grow, but it’s also hard to accept how quickly these changes seem to be happening. I know that you will ALWAYS be my baby, but you won’t always be my baby baby, and though I savor every minute, I simply can’t make these moments last forever.
We woke up the next morning, tear-free and ready to celebrate our big one-year-old! We commemorated your big day with a Charlie Brown birthday celebration with more than fifty family members and friends. It was such a special time, and although you won’t remember it, I was glad that we were able to honor you in this way. The highlight of the party was, of course, your birthday cake! You weren’t sure what to make of it at first: you immediately grabbed at the cake, then seemed unhappy that your hands were covered in frosting. But you slowly warmed up to it, smearing and even tasting some of the frosting. I don’t think you ever got down to the cake itself (I guess I needn’t have bothered ordering the gluten free cake!), but you had a lot of fun, and you did seem to like the taste of that sweet frosting. What a special memory, and the perfect way to dive into your second year!
Weight: 17 pounds, 12 ounces (you were up to 18 pounds but lost a bit of weight when you were sick the week before your birthday)
Length: 27.5 inches
Head Circumference: 18.25 inches
Clothing Size: 6-9 months
Tooth Count: Four! That second top tooth is coming in, but it has a bit to grow to catch up with the first one.
Favorite Foods: Cheese, sandwich meat, bananas, puffs, corn, carrots.
Least Favorite Foods: Green beans, eggs, gluten-free bread.
Favorite Toys: cars, wooden activity cub, board books, balls, ride-on plane.
Likes: Climbing stairs; your glider swing; sleeping with Mommy and Daddy; shredding paper; watching Phineas and Ferb with Daddy (even though Mama doesn’t approve. . . ); music; watching Sunnybird; animals; playing with other kids; pulling things off shelves and out of drawers; playing Peek-a-Boo and chase.
Dislikes: Diaper and outfit changes; being fed with a spoon; sleeping alone in your crib; wearing hats, socks, and bibs.
Milestone Events: First Christmas, First Birthday Party
Developmental Milestones: Standing Alone (for a few seconds), Taking Steps (with help!)
And with that, little Buddy Bear, we have come to the end of these monthly letters. You’ll continue to grow and change, but now that you’re older, it’s time for me to step back from extensively documenting the minutia of your life (at least not in such a public forum. . . a growing boy needs his privacy!). What will not change is how crazy I am about you. I often feel inadequate as your mother—you deserve so much more than I could ever offer you! But God has blessed me with the amazing privilege of being your mama, and I know that He will equip me to be the mother that you need. I look forward to watching you grow up, to seeing the boy and then the man that you will become. I can only imagine the incredible ways God will work in your life, and I’m grateful that I can come along for the journey.
I leave you with this blessing: My sweet Charleston Michael. . . you were knit together in my womb, and you are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are God’s workmanship, and God has great plans for you. May He bless you and keep you, may He make his face shine on you and be gracious to you, and may you know a life of love and joy and peace.
Love Always and Forever,