And in the 9th month, there was tooth

Dear Mac,

You did it!  You now have a tiny sliver of your right bottom tooth sticking out from your gum.  At first, I could only feel it.  Now I can see it in certain lights and angles.  No word yet from its tooth brethren.  I was starting to think I’d be pureeing your steak for the next five years.  (Or, you know, more steak for me.)  But now, tooth!  (Also, we don’t eat much steak.  This isn’t really steak country.)

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You are also SUPER into pulling up.  Not yet on furniture, but on people.  You will be sitting and practically lunge at my hands.  You want to be up, Up, UP.  You stand up for minutes at a time if someone holds you.  You love it.  You haven’t really taken any steps yet, but at this rate, you may just skip crawling.

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Your love affair with food continues.  You have discovered the colorful world of puffs and they are your everything.  The subtleties of the snack pack container currently elude you, but you will not be denied.  You cram a few puffs in your fist at once and then work them out to your mouth.  It is quite the operation.  Your love affair with puffs has, of course, rekindled your brother’s previously dormant desire for puffs.  Choline for everyone!  Including the floor.  Especially the floor.  These things are like a magnet for the feets.

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You are becoming pretty sensitive about noticing that you do not have what others have.  “I have apple bits, but you have apple slice!  Unfair!!”  Things like this.  I promise to try to provide you with as many developmentally appropriate equivalents as possible, but as my mom always says, life isn’t fair.

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You’ve been bunking in our room because of Nana’s visit.  I’d endure much more to spend time with Nana, but I’ll be glad for you to go back to your room.  Man, you make some noise at night.  First, there is the serious leg jackknifing.  Then, in the early morning hours, you start conducting your own talk show.  I don’t know what it’s about or who your guests are, but everyone sounds pretty happy.  A few times I know I’ve fed you when I probably wouldn’t have usually, just to get you to wrap up your set.  Maybe you and your brother will be ready to try bunking together for our next guests this spring.  (We opted not to try this visit after Munich when your brother would scream “MACKLES” at your crib once you finally settled down.)

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Speaking of your brother, the Stockholm syndrome continues.  You look at him like a brainwashed cult member.  James commented that some highlights of your day were being tackled by Henry.  You don’t always love being manhandled, but you do love your brother.  One of my favorite parts of the day is at bedtime when Henry tells you goodnight and “I’ll love you in the morning.”  This seems to be Henry’s mashup of hearing “I love you” and “I’ll see you in the morning.”  This could definitely be a new family phrase.

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Your brother just started day care a few mornings each week.  This means that you and I have some quality togetherness time to take on Rome.  Unfortunately, I’ve been developing some soreness in my side after wearing you in your carrier, but I never let silly little things like that stop me.  Let’s see what mischief we can get up to.

Love, Mom


Crazy Eights

Dear Mac,

You are somehow eight months old.  You have lived outside the U.S. longer than you lived there.  Wild.  When we first moved here, we met an eight month old.  She seemed so impossibly big and capable and it all seemed so far away, but I knew it would be fast.  And here we are.

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You are quite the little roly poly.  Not just because of your adorable squish, of which there is plenty.  (Your dad said your thigh crease looked like a second butt the other day.  A very cute butt, of course.  And I mean booty, don’t say butt.)  No, you are a roll-a-mus because you are literally on a roll.  After showing very little interest in rolling at all, you can now flop from front to back AND back to front effortlessly.  We can put you down at one end of the carpet and you end up all the way at the other end.  You are going to be crawling any day now, I’m sure.  Although we said the same thing about your teeth . . .

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Even though you have been teething for at least four months, you refuse to sprout any teeth.  I can only imagine this is some sort of Benjamin Buttons situation where you are not growing teeth because you lost them already.  (If it was not abundantly clear from the previous sentence, I have not actually seen the movie.)  Every day we keep checking, but no dice.

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Your lack of teeth has not deterred your love of solid food though.  Man, you love to eat.  There is no combination of baby food too disgusting for you to ingest with relish.  You will eat pork, mixed veggies, and prunes together and then probably wonder about a second course.  You are a little more skeptical on some of your less pureed foods.  The chopped fish and green bean situation was not your jam.  We give you little bits of things to try to pick up, a challenge you seem to enjoy.  You will happily gum a hunk of apple all through breakfast.  You have tried rabbit baby food, but I think we will skip the recently-spotted horse.

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You had a fun Christmas with your brother.  Wrapping paper was a big hit.  Speaking of your brother, even since I last covered him, he has taken his play up a level.  He can now do imaginative play, particularly with his new Christmas cars and trucks.  The cars go on adventures and eat pancakes.  It feels like a little mini game of improv.  The cars jump off the building?  Yes AND they land at the octopus park!  I love this so much.  I really do.  But I find it to be draining.  I’m not sure why.  I can read the same book 12 times in a row without complaint, but for some reason “being the firetruck” takes a lot out of me.  Needless to say, I’m really excited to see you and Henry play this way when you are older.  I have very fond memories of playing Barbies, or My Little Ponies, or both with my sister for hours.  Her memories may be less fond because I know I was teeniest bit cough cough bossy.  I hope you and Henry have excellent memories together.  And if you can “be the firetruck” for a bit, that is all the better for me.  (I am always fire truck.  I don’t mind.  I’m just curious what made the kid look at me and think, yup, you are definitely firetruck material.)

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For being a baby, I am always impressed how hard you can troll your brother.  You guys seems to have a strange symbiotic relationship where you can’t stand to be apart but often can’t stand to be together.  It usually starts when Henry insists on playing right beside you.  You grab all the toys he doesn’t want you to grab.  He melts down.  You melt down.  Repeat.

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You also seem to have fun together.  I think you could watch Henry for hours.  I get pretty indignant when he causes you harm.  (I do try and avoid this, prevent it, and police it.)  You look at him with such admiration and trust and when he hurts you it feels like a punch to the gut.  Every time.  You never see it coming and your eyes go from trust to naked disbelief that this would happen.  And then you flip over on the bed and put your feet all over your brother.  I think you’ll be fending for yourself before I know it.

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I keep sleep stalking you.  At the risk of waking you, I even take pictures.  Or ask your dad to do it.  You still aren’t quite making it through the night, but your wakeups are getting closer to five or six AM.  I keep telling myself that we’re getting there . . .

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Speaking of sleep, you seem to be dropping your morning nap.  I’m OK with this.  It frees us up for more morning adventures and you can cat nap if you need it.  I am not OK with the state some days which seems to be a crankypants baby who refuses to sleep.  Your choices are be asleep or be awake and pleasant.  Thank you in advance.

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I really can’t complain because you continue to be the happiest, most cheerful little dude.  I think you are getting a little slower to smile at strangers; you like to analyze the situation first.  You don’t mind not being around me, but you often get upset when I leave the room.  This always surprises me because many times you are doing your own thing, and I didn’t think I was even on your radar.

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Being on a cute baby’s radar.  There are worse places to be.  🙂

Love, Mom

P.S.  Whoops, didn’t write about 7 months (I swear we took pics!), but more on Mac at 4 months, 5 months, and 6 months.

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The answer is always Henry

Why is there a deflated balloon in the refrigerator?

Why is there a metal spoon in the couch cushions?

Why is the veggie steamer on my nightstand?

Henry.  The answer is always Henry.

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Oh, Henry.  It feels not long ago that you turned two and now you are two and a quarter.  You are a force of life.  You are always on the go.  “Mas running” is still one of your favorite games.  Lately, you want to climb everything in sight.  I do the best I can to spot you while wearing a baby.  Thankfully no damage too serious yet, but we do call you Head-Injury-Henry for a reason.


You still love balls.  Kicking is your jam and you always get comments on your skillz, but you have picked up your throwing and catching game as well.  You love trains and motos and planes.  Especially planes.  You pore over your Encyclopedia of Military Aircraft, each page exclaiming “Airplane!  Airplane!  Look at that airplane!”  We read a lot too, which I love because reading is awesome and it is one of the only times you let me cuddle.

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I can’t believe how much you talk.  You can tell me what colors the airplanes are and that they are landing in the water or zooming in the sky.  We really do have somewhat legitimate conversations.  Very recently you started putting your “please” sentences together and can say things like “can I have my sticker book please?”  Color me impressed.

You are very social.  You have a circle of friends here that you seem delighted to see.  Sometimes it takes you a little bit to warm up, but I’m always amazed how eager you are to seek out new playmates.  You fearlessly stalked some kids at the market in Munich, and after I translated for you, you and your new buds ran around terrorizing the patrons at the gluhbier stand.  (More on gluhbier later; shocking to no one, hot beer is NOT as delicious as hot wine.)  You’ve been approaching Italian kids at the playgrounds too.  We are working on getting you into daycare for a morning or two each week.  This is less about giving me a break and more about giving you some more peeps to run around with.  (Particularly until you turn three and we have to decide if we want to go the pricey private preschool route.)

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I’d say you are generally mild-mannered, for a toddler, but you do have your share of meltdowns.  I’m always blown away by how food-motivated you are.  I can flash one M&M and you will happily climb obediently into your stroller.  I don’t love bribing you and try to avoid it, but sometimes one M&M or cracker is a pretty reasonable price to pay for compliance.

I think you’ve been growing.  I haven’t measured you lately, but you can reach more elevator buttons than when we got here.  You certainly feel a bit heavier.  And you have so much hair!  I love that you have enough hair that it can get messed up.  We’ll do a haircut someday.  But not yet.

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Things are never boring with you around.  I have honed negotiation skills that I never dreamed I would need.  (Seriously, I think “getting toddlers to do things” should be a legitimate resume bullet.)  For example, in between when I started writing this and now, you had an EPIC meltdown that was solved when I eventually got you to eat and sang a spur-of-the-moment-creation “I’m a pizza monster.”  (To be released next year.  See you at the Grammies, suckas!  That’s the awards one for music again, right?)  You kept cracking up and your giggles were so sweet that it almost made up for the previous half hour of screaming and hating everything.  (Haha, not even close.  But it was a welcome, joyful sound.)

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Life with you can be tiring, but it is very fun.  It is certainly never dull.

Love, Mom

Mac is 6 months

Dear Mac,

You are really killing it right now as a baby.  You just make this look easy.  You are teething so hard, but you’d hardly know it other than the drool and chewing on your fingers.  Every day I keep expecting those teeth to pop out, but they remain elusive.

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You’ve really stepped up your sitting game.  You can go for minutes at a time unassisted, and you love to sit in the boppy.  This is sort of your rotation.  Absolutely engrossed with your toys sitting in the boppy.  Absolutely engrossed with your toys in the Exersaucer.  Pissed off about tummy time.  Repeat.  You are so consumed by what you are doing that sometimes you barely notice your brother and me.  Except when we are singing and having dance parties.  That you really love to watch.  It makes me smile that you seem to like my singing.

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You are still huge.  Your recent doctor’s visit had you at 18 lbs 5 oz (a full pound and a third more than your brother).  Now that you are six months, we are starting to play with solids.  At the doctor’s suggestion, you did some grated apple.  You had the most priceless “bitter beer” face at first, but you seem to be getting the hang of it.  (If I’m being honest, your first food was technically gelato when you attacked your dad’s spoon.  You also enjoyed some ice cream cone after Henry stared wistfully at the gelato place and the gelato lady brought him an empty cone and then gave you one because she didn’t want you to be left out.  I think you gummed half of it down before I turned around to take it from you.)  You have also had banana, but that is because you were sitting in my lap and pretty much took down the banana I was eating.  We tried some zucchini.  You weren’t feeling it, but in your defense, it looked pretty gross.  I promise to step up my baby food prep game.  You have tried carrots and sweet potatoes, but you only have a taste for the sweet stuff.  We’ll see what comes next.  You like to drink out of cups.  Like a lot.

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I will admit that things are different with you than they were for your brother.  With Henry, I think we had pictures and videos for most new foods tried.  For you, we do have a video with your first food (not the gelato, the other first food).  But your typical experience is eating banana that I mushed with my fingers while sitting in my lap so I can’t take a picture.  (I can’t put you in your highchair because Henry’s baby is in there and he will freak if I move it.)

Even though everything isn’t documented, you do have something your brother didn’t, which is the constant source of encouragement and entertainment that is Henry.  You never get tired of watching him.  And most of the time, he’s your biggest fan.  You guys are so fun to watch together.  I hope you will be tight.

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Brothers don’t shake hands . . . brothers gotta hug

You have more hair than I think your brother grew in over a year, but that isn’t say much for either of you.  You have this one extra long hair right above your forehead that sometimes sticks straight up and I will be so sad when it falls out.  I call it your unicorn horn.

We had a breakthrough on sleeping very recently.  You’ve been consistently getting up once a night.  It was at 4, then at 2:30, then at 2:00.  The night you got up at 12:30, I put my foot down and we put in the work of helping you sooth yourself.  It took an hour and half before you settled, but every night since then you’ve been sleeping straight on through.  It’s amazing and wonderful and I’m scared to even type it here to jinx it, but you’ve been going strong for over a week now and I hope it is the new normal.

I still usually come in and creepily stare at you sleeping before I go to bed.  You look even more like your brother when asleep.  And you look younger.  And you look huge.  Sigh, it does go so fast.

Love, Mom

Mac is 5 months

Dear Mac,

I can’t believe you are five months already.  After I spent two months telling everyone you were four months old, I can’t seem to advance your age now.  You are just squeezing into your 3-6 months outfits, and I don’t think that will fly much longer.  You are almost 18 pounds.

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You are so happy.  Everyone who sees you comments that you never cry.  Which isn’t exactly true, but you are usually cheerful to be outside and excited to see people.  Even though you are teething hard right now, you would hardly know, aside from all the drool, as you are such a good sport about it.

Before I forget or they morph again, I wanted to share some of your nicknames.  Although your brother’s nicknames mostly derived from Henry-kins (Kinz, Kensington, etc.) or “Squeaks,” yours come from “Squish.”  So you have Squishimi, Squishimus, Squishipuss, and my recent reversing, Pusslesquish.  Your dad calls you Mackleton and Mackle Tackle.  I am guilty of calling you Big Mac, Smacks, Smack, and similar and apologize profusely for drug-related nicknames.  #smackiswhack

Kind of looks like a minion here, right?

Kind of looks like a minion here, right?

You rolled today!  Front to back.  You had a five month appointment at the doctor, because apparently that is a thing here, and you rolled for the first time.  It was as if on command.  Show off!  Everyone at the doctor was charmed by your squish and smiles, even though you skipped your morning nap.

You have quite the grip.  You can manipulate toys like nobody’s business.  We’ll wait a tiny bit more on solids, but I think you will be ready.  You have been enjoying spoon/fork time and you are about to grab all the food off our plates.  You are still getting up around once a night.  I keep hoping that maybe solids will help on that.  We shall see!

Ball so hard

Ball so hard

Love, Mom

Mac is 4 months

Dear Mac,

Happy 4 months old!  (Just a few days late.)  It feels as though you hit this milestone awhile ago, mostly because you had your 4 month pediatrician checkup over two weeks early and I’ve been telling everyone you are “almost 4 months” for probably the last month.  But now you can really own it.

Wut up

You are huge.  And oh, so squishy.  Even though you were measured two weeks early, you still hit 99th percentile on height.  You are wearing clothes labeled for six months all the way up to one year.  When you sit on my lap, it seems that more of you hangs off than on.  You have go-go-Gadget monkey arms that lately you are deploying to reach stuff I didn’t think you could.  Like my glasses.  And that butter knife on the table.

Monkey arm in action

You are so sweet, tolerant, and patient.  You usually calmly wait for the rest of us when we eat our meals.  You are accepting of your brother’s hugs, kisses, mano holdings, and tackles.  You are quick to smile, and I’m hearing more laughs these days.

Lately, you love being upright, whether being held, in your Bumbo, or in the Exersaucer you recently started dabbling with.  Your hand control is improving by the day.  You can now grab, deliberately it seems, toys and your chupito (pacifier).  And those elusive feet have also succumbed to your grasp.

Still working on sitting

You are eating 5-6 times a day.  I’d love for you to drop your pre-dawn meal, but, after stalling out for a bit, you seem to be making strides on sleep.  One day this week we didn’t hear a peep out of you until 700!  But usually we hear from you between 4 and 5.  You are a pro at your morning nap, and although you aren’t doing it today, you have been making progress on a two-hour afternoon nap, that blessedly aligns with your brother’s.

I love that you are growing and becoming more aware.  I just wish you weren’t doing it so fast!

Love, Mom