Monday, September 24, 2012

Our Bahamas in pictures

Last week, Travis and I took a much-longed-for cruise to the Bahamas. And oh man, it was wonderful. And too short. And I'm already planning our next cruise.

Above: Travis and I waiting for the ship to leave port in Miami.
Above: We watched from our balcony as the ship left Miami. 
Above: First sunset at sea, Miami on the horizon.
Above: Sunrise over Freeport.
Above: Norwegian Sky docked in Freeport.
Above: Cupcake decorating on the ship.
Above: Shuffleboard playing on the ship. We were horrible.
 Above: Sunrise on the sea.
 Above: More of that sunrise, as we were pulling into Nassau. I loved that lighthouse.
 Above: We went on a Jeep excursion around Nassau. After we drove around the island, we stopped at a beautiful private beach.
Above: Gorgeous beach entrance.
 Above: Party waiting for us as we returned to the ship.
Above: Playing with our new towel friend and enjoying a game of Deal or No Deal on the ship.
Above: There's nothing more beautiful than a sunset over the ocean.
Above: The Sky anchored nearby to its private island, Great Stirrup Cay. 

Can we go back, now?

We left Cohen at my parents' house for the week (and they had their own vacation) because we were worried about bringing a small child on the ship, but we quickly found out that he would have loved the boat and everything it had to offer. Our next cruise, Cohen will absolutely be a part of it. Anyone want to go with us next time? Maybe a Disney cruise?!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cohen is 21 Months Old!

Dear Cohen,

12 days ago, you turned 21 months old. I cannot believe I let that day pass me by. I feel like each day with you is filled with so much fun, but those days are over before I know it. And then I find myself 12 days after your 21 month-day wondering where that past month went.
Gosh, kid, you are so much fun. I never thought a toddler could bring such excitement and happiness to my life, but that is exactly what you do. Your energy and curiosity brings such life to any situation. Your smile softens even the hardest faces that pass by. Your sweet raspy voice exclaiming "Hi!" to every stranger makes them stop in their tracks and return your greeting.
You are quick to make friends -- both with kids and adults. Your friendliness never ceases to amaze me. You must get it from your daddy because I certainly am not comfortable approaching strangers and striking up a conversation the way you are. It's just one more way you are such a perfect kid -- you teach me. You have a group of best friends, and you love playing with them. When I tell you we are going to go play, you immediately ask, "Ukas (Lucas)? Why-der (Ryder)? Oooie (Zoe)?" You want to play with them every day, all day. When we go to the park, you are very patient with younger kids, but all of your attention is devoted to the Big Kids. You want to be just like them. If they climb up a wall, you're determined to do it, too. If they flip over a bar, you try your best to flip.

Your vocabulary exploded in the past few months. Exploded. You surprise me with all the things you say and how you can string words into complete sentences. And it's just crazy to me that you pretty much understand everything we say to you. We have legit conversations, kid. Sometimes I talk, sometimes you talk. And you remember the things we talk about. It blows my mind. People comment all the time about how well you use words and how you can communicate. I am very proud of you.

You still can't say "sheep" correctly (and I still think it's hilarious), and recently you've started saying "boo bus" when you see a school bus. Those are my favorite. You call our dog Harvey "Rarvey". You know all your animals, you know the difference between football and baseball (and to Daddy's delight, you are obsessed with baseball), you can count to 10, you can sing the ABC song (you don't get all the letters, but you know the tune!), and you are working hard to learn your colors. And every day you surprise me with something else you know.
Singing is one of your favorite things to do, and you know many songs. Your favorite songs are Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Deep and Wide. Most of the other songs you sing will somehow morph into those 2 songs. Our church lets the babies sing on Sunday nights, and you love that. Whenever we go to church, you walk right into the sanctuary and sit on your little step and wait to sing, even when it's not time to sing yet. I love your enthusiasm and sweet spirit. You really are such a gift.
You're still a great little eater, although some days you go on meat strikes. You still love your bananas and nutrigrain bars. You love pretzles and Goldfish crackers and graham crackers. You will eat anything with cheese on it, and you eat ketchup with a spoon. You want anything I'm eating, and you will drink a gallon of water if it's in my cup (if it's in your cup, you could care less about it). You love juice, and you're crazy about your milk.
You are an affectionate little boy. You love to snuggle sit in my lap. You give some of the best hugs I've ever had. Your little arms wrap around my neck so tightly and perfectly, it makes me melt. You love kisses. You love it when I attack you with kisses -- you bunch up into a little ball and squeal. You usually only give bye-bye or night-night kisses, but sometimes, out of the blue, you'll kiss me when we're playing. Talk about turning me into a giant pile of mush.

You are very attached to your family. You love your "Mamama" (grandmama) and "Annnn-daddy" (grandaddy) to pieces. You look for them when we go to church, and you get the biggest smile on your little face when you see them (they give you chocolate milk and pancakes with syrup!). You get so excited when I tell you you're going to visit Nana and Papa and Tori and Drew and GGMa. You never want to leave when we visit with family. You fit right in and make yourself right at home, and it makes me wonder how we all managed to live life with you.
Every day I thank God for giving you to me. I don't know why He thought I deserve someone as precious as you, but I am so thankful He did.  You are a joy, and every day with you is the best day I've ever had. I love your laugh, I love your big blue eyes, I love who you are. I love how happy you are, how busy you are, how loving you are. I love the way your little hand reaches up to find mine when you're not too sure of a situation. I love how my heart feels like it's about to explode every time you smile. I love you, little boy. So very much.
Until next month,

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A WW Consignment Brag...

Consignment shopping:

Also purchased (and already packed away until Christmas): 5 board books, 6 puzzles, a bag of cars, a trailor that carries some Matchbox cars, a small Tonka truck, a giant Tonka truck, a Cars racing toy, Tickle Me Elmo, a Cars play set, 2 packages of plastic animals,  a hardhat/toolbelt/goggles set, and a big Home Depot tool bench complete with battery-powered drills, saws, and other tools I don't know the name of <---- most exciting purchase!

Grand total: $193.00!

Thursday, August 9, 2012


At this very moment, our internet's home page is set to The surprising thing is that I am not the person responsible for this change from our ever-faithful MSN homepage to Pinterest. And the reason? Not because Travis or I (or Cohen, for that matter) are terribly interested in adding a little more craft to our lives (although I do love a good PinterFest). No, we abandoned MSN early last week when Travis became downright enraged that our homepage delivered up-to-the minute coverage of the Olympic games ... in real time... and thus effectively ruining all surprise later in the evening when we actually got to watch the events.

Because, according to Travis, if you already know what's going to happen, why bother watching it?

I think it was around the time of the Men's Team gymnastic competition, as I sank into the couch with my third spoonful of cookie dough, that I began to realize that I don't handle the stress of the Olympic games all too well. As I watched each athlete prepare to jump, flip, and propel their way to the medal podium, I anxiously wondered if they would do well or, you know, screw it up ... for themselves, for their teammates, for AMERICA (!!!), and I could just feel the ulcer begin to form in my stomach. I just couldn't handle the stress.

The next afternoon, while Travis was safely at work, I crept onto the MSN homepage and scoured the site until I read that the American women would win gold later on that evening. Was I ashamed to be such a wuss? Oh you bet, but come time for those girls to vault, balance, dance, and swing, I was the picture of cool, calm and collected.

Because I knew there was nothing to worry about.

Every day since then, I have checked the reports way ahead of time in order to learn what happens and have time to be OK with it (because apparently I'm a bit too into the Olympics). So when the commentators wondered if Phelps would win that final gold to make him the most decorated Olympian ever? Oh you might have stressed about it, but I was cool. When poor John Orozco failed to do anything right (it seemed -- I actually was super proud of him and wanted to do nothing more than wrap him up in a big mama-hug and tell him how awesome he is) in the men's all around? I had already dealt with that loss.

Travis calls it cheating, but I'm just fine with being a spectator cheat. It has been such medicine for my anxiety to know ahead of time what is going to happen. To process it. And later, to expect it.

How seamlessly that little tidbit of my Olympic viewing habits translates to the way I live my life. As I live out my days, I frequently find myself wishing I could just know what's going to happen. Sometimes I catch myself as I pray asking God to just give me a glimpse of how all this is going to turn out. I feel like, if I knew what the outcome is, I could handle the journey just a little more gracefully. If I knew how things would pan out in the end, I might be a little more patient with the present.

But God? That's not the way He works. It never has been.

It's all about control. I want it; He wants to strip me of it and have me rely solely on Him. He is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105), providing me with just enough light to take my next step. When I find myself alone in the dark, with just the next step illuminated, and I go that way instead of going the way I want, I begin to trust the Lord. How do I know I'm not walking toward a venomous snake or a giant hole? I don't; I must trust that if that is the place where God leads, He will protect me when danger arises.

How many times have I called out, "Just turn the lights on for 5 seconds so I can get my bearings!" and in turn have shown my distrust of the Lord? Because, if I'm honest, it's hard to put my trust in God. My human nature doesn't allow for it. Instead, I would much rather go about my own way, trusting in myself. I think that''s why it is so important and why He continuously tells us to trust in Him -- because it goes against our nature.

How nice would it be to see into the future and know all the steps before I take them? I imagine it might be quite pleasant, until I see that the path leads somewhere I don't want to go. Then I could safely say I'd change that path. Because sometimes God leads us through unpleasant times. Does that mean He is less good or less God because I go through difficulty? No, it means He knew the life I would live before I was even alive, and every step, every tear, every disappointment is designed to teach me and grow me into the person He has designed me to be.

And is there any better person to be than the one the Lord designed you to be?

So I'll probably continue to be an Olympic cheat and find out the results prior to seeing the events, but that's about as far as I want to take this need for control.

2 Samuel 22:31 “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.”
Psalm 118:8 “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."

Friday, July 27, 2012

Things I Never Want To Forget

How he climbs in my lap and gets right in my face and says, "Hi!"
How he does not like his hands to be dirty.
How music makes him dance.
How he rests his head on my shoulder when his heart is broken.
How he will start off singing one song and finish it with "twinkle staaaaar."
How he counts to eight but always skips the number six.
How excited he gets to see his grandparents.
How ketchup makes everything taste good.
How he owns over 200 cars but still has a favorite one.
How he says "Ready, set, go!" to initiate tickles or snuggles or wrestling.
How he sounds like the birds from Finding Nemo when he says "More? More? More?"
How he wants a bite of whatever I'm eating.
How he climbs in my lap to read a book.
How he lets me hold him while we watch Yo Gabba Gabba.
How anticipating a tickle is almost as fun as the tickle itself.
How he grabs my face with both hands when he gives kisses.
How milk makes him sleepy.
How, at the sound of the garage door opening, he starts yelling, "Daddy!"
How he says, "Hi!" to every stranger we pass.
How, when strangers talk to him, he points to me and says, "Mamma."
How soft and raspy his little voice sounds.
How he snorts when he laughs (just like me).
How innocent he is and how sweet his eyes are.
How his smiles light up his entire face.
How curious he is about everything.
The way my heart feels like it will explode when he wraps his arms around me for a hug.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Stop And Listen

This morning, I was busy.  It was one of those days where routine and time constraints and errands got the best of me, and I stopped listening. I stopped seeing what was going on around me because I was so wrapped up in myself and my plans. Do you ever find yourself in that place? I'm sorry to admit that I'm there a lot.

I had a plan for the day before I even got out of bed: today was grocery day. There were a couple stores I needed to visit, and a bunch of coupons I needed to find and clip out in order to find the best deal on the stuff I needed. And I had to get everything done and be back home in time for Cohen's afternoon nap. So after Cohen and I finished up breakfast, I let him play in the living room while I showered, got dressed, and settled down at the computer desk to gather my coupons.

I guess it was while I was sitting at the desk that I became aware of Cohen's whining. It was pretty incessant, and after a while he began to combine it with the equally frustrating climbing in my lap and pulling my arm. Didn't he know that we had a lot to do this morning, and I couldn't be bothered right now? So I tried to remedy the situation by doing one of those "mom things" that I look back on after the fact and shudder at: I tried to distract him. I gave him books, I asked him to bring me his animals, I tried to get him to sing a song. All the while, I never took my attention off my own task, and he never stopped whining.

After a while (and admittedly, after I had finished clipping my coupons), I focused my attention on Cohen and asked him what was wrong. Close to 15 minutes after I became aware that something was up, I finally decided to ask him about it. Someone pass me the Mom of the Year award. He  kept saying, "Car. Car." We were standing next to a pile of matchbox cars that he had emptied out of a box while I was busy ignoring him earlier, so I pointed to the mess and said, "Look, there are your cars." And then I walked away, congratulating myself for solving my child's problems.

The whining didn't stop.

Fast forward a few hours. We finished our grocery shopping and had eaten a nice lunch. Cohen and I returned home with full bellies, and I was very much anticipating nap time. I let him play in the living room while I unpacked the groceries, but after only a few minutes, he appeared at the baby gate in the kitchen doorway, whining. I asked him what was wrong, and he said, "Car. Car."

"Yes baby. Your cars are in there. Go play while I put these groceries up."

And then, something sort of snapped in my brain, and I said to myself, Something is wrong. Something is bothering Cohen. I need to stop what I am doing and focus my attention on him and fix the problem. So I put the package of juice boxes down and went into the living room and squatted down so I was eye level with Cohen. I asked him again what was wrong. Again, he said "Car. Car." We've already been through this. Go at it another way. I asked him to show me what was wrong, and off Cohen went, pointer finger leading the way. We stopped at the dog crate, and inside the crate was a single red toy truck that had fallen through the wire bars.

It was one of those forehead, meet palm moments as I finally understood what was so wrong all morning. Such an easily fixable problem if I had just taken a second to actually listen to my child. I opened the dog crate, pulled out the truck, and Cohen grabbed it and scurried away.

And at that moment, I knew God was speaking. How many times does He try to talk to me, try to get my attention, and I brush Him off because I'm so focused on myself? I'm afraid to even answer that question because I know it's a lot.

God doesn't speak to us through a loud, thunderous voice. He doesn't descend from a cloud or get right up in our faces or even announce Himself before He speaks. He doesn't say, "Erica, this is God talking." Lightening never strikes. The room doesn't grow hazy, and nothing illuminates. Although, sometimes I think that would be much easier. Instead, He whispers to my heart. Elijah called it a still, small voice, and sometimes it's just random thoughts that pop up in my head. And if I'm not in tune with God, if I'm not focusing on Him as I go about my day, if I'm too wrapped up in myself, I fail to recogonize Him. I dismiss His voice, and I go about my day. And I miss out on precious communion with the Lord.

How much He loves me to want to talk to me! What a gracious God He is to teach me lessons like the one He taught me today. To remind me to stop and listen. And how thankful I am that He could teach me so gently and through such an ordinary situation. 

Thank You, Lord, for Your goodness to me.

The video below is a clip from Dr. Charles Stanley that acted as a double-punch with the Lord's lesson today. If you have 5 minutes, I encourage you to watch it. If nothing else, I find it great parenting tool to use with my own child.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Our Week According to iPhone (v4)

Monday, we did a little grocery shopping, a little sandwish eating, a little Elmo watching, a little tractor playing, and a little veggie dinner-ing.

I wouldn't have even known Tuesday existed last week if it weren't for an awesome card in my mailbox. My pen pal sent me my first letter! And she's pretty awesome.

Wednesday, we ate frozen banana and chocolate smoothies for breakfast. When we got ready to run some errands, Cohen decided he needed to bring his snot sucker and nail clippers with him, and I decided that wasn't a battle worth fighting. I was more concerned that I had absolutely zero gas and was 2 miles from the nearest gas station (I made it!). We played around in Target, reading books and picking out stationary. During naptime, I wrote my second letter to my pen pal. We got a little rain, and then we played noodle hockey at church. Because nothing says, "I love Jesus" more than hitting others with pool noodles.

 Thursday, Cohen woke up happy! I tackled some laundry while Cohen impressed me with his imaginative play skills (he was "listening" to his heart). We visited daddy at work, and Cohen zonked out on the ride back home. I learned the easiest way to get my kid to drink lots of water is to put it in a giant styrofoam cup. Cohen played by himself a little, we cuddled a little, and rocked a mohawk before the day was over.

Friday started early as cleaning day. We ate pizza for breakfast, picked up the living room, and vacuumed and shampooed the carpet upstairs. We got a little creative with our lunch. Later that evening, Cohen colored a masterpiece while we ate dinner, and then we stayed in the car while Daddy ran some errands.

Saturday we woke up starving, so we packed up and headed out in search of a good breakfast. It took us an hour, but we got what we were looking for (and Cohen grew a milk beard). Back at home, I couponed and primped while Cohen napped and Daddy worked on his truck. We had bbq for dinner and played around at Lowes for the remainder of the evening. Sunday, God took my breath away with a beautiful sky.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I'm About To Talk About Poop

Alright, there you have it. Consider the title of this post a warning. We'll be discussing all things potty today, so if you're not into that kind of thing, you might want to slowly back out now. It's ok -- I'll totally understand.

As Cohen inches closer to 2 years old, I'm starting to think about some of the things we'll be exposed to in the near future. Potty training is on the forefront. And that terrifies me (I'm really fighting the urge to type scares the crap out of me because obviously I'm a 9 year old boy and find that hilarious). Honestly, most of Cohen's developmental milestones have scared me. I don't know if it's just that Cohen is changing up our normal or what, but starting solds? crawling? walking? Yeah, they all had me sweating bullets.

I also think that because he's reached these milestones so early, I've had less time to prepare for them than I'd like. And I'll be the very first to tell you: I am NOT ready for potty training. Not in the least bit. We actually have a potty, but I hide it because I just don't want to think about it. Not yet.

So you can imagine the dread that rises in my chest each time Cohen does or says something to suggest that he's becoming more aware of his elimination and less patient with his diapers. Because I just know that he's getting one step closer to potty training. And I'm not there yet. Not because it means my child is growing up and leaving babyhood in his dust. No, I'm fine with that (most days). I'm just genuinely scared of the potty training process. And diapers are so easy. (I'm reminded that I said the same exact thing about bottles when we first started feeding him solids. "It's a daunting idea to know that once we start with solids, I'll actually have to feed this baby multiple times a day. Bottles are just so easy.")

My plan is to be open to potty training by the time Cohen turns 2 and really start to freak out if he's not trained by his third birthday. I've always heard that summertime is the best time to potty train as you can just stay outside with you naked child for a few days while you work on potty training. If he has an accident, it's not a big deal (and nothing the dogs haven't done for the past 5 years).

Ultimately, I want to start training at the perfect time for him. I don't want to start too early and have this be a source of frustration and confusion, but I also don't want to miss the cues and have him still in diapers when he's clearly ready for the potty. I'd imagine that would be just as confusing and frustrating. So I guess right now I'm just trying to figure out when is the perfect time for him. Although, I have a good idea that when it's time, we'll all sort of ... know. That's how it's been with all the other milestones, at least.

As of today, here are the clues Cohen is giving to show me he's inching closer to potty training:
  • he will take off-- or try to take off-- his diaper when it's dirty
  • if there's poop in his diaper, he won't think twice about putting his hand back there and pulling it out
  • if he's pooped and I ask him about it, he'll point to his diaper and say "Poop."
  • we have given his anatomy a name, and he identifies it by it's name
  • while he is peeing, he will occaisionally point to his diaper and say "Pee pee."
  • he is very interested in what's behind his diaper
  • he is very interested in the potty and waching us use it
  • he is extremely responsive to praise and will do almost anything to get it
Here are the clues I'm waiting to see from Cohen before I start wondering if it's really time:
  • I want to see him upset that he's got a dirty diaper
  • I want him to request diaper changes (currently he runs away when I get a diaper and wipes)
  • I want him to get a little older and able to hold a conversation a little better
  • I want him to associate the potty with "poop" and "pee pee"
  • I want him to realize that he's about to eliminate and show the signs more consistently

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Our Week According to iPhone v.3

Monday, Cohen literally woke up playing. Driving cars on Mommy's leg? Sounds like a good time. Running out of milk? Not so fun. We did some mid-morning grocery shopping, ate chicken soup for lunch (sat right next to the air conditioning vent, thankyouverymuch), and marvelled at the beautiful sky. Skies like that make me think that Jesus is coming back right that minute. When we got home, Cohen organized our supplies, played in the ball pit, and played a game of Ready, Set, Go! with his daddy.

Tuesday, we pretty much spent the entire day hanging out at the mall. Cohen played with his friends, got way too excited when the train drove past the play area (so of course we had to ride it), rode the carousel, and found a free balloon. After the fun, I got down to business of finding him a backpack (goodbye diaper bag! The big boy is now carrying his own diapers!). We finished up our trip with a giant chocolate chip cookie, watching the big kids play in the fountains outside, and crashing hard on the way home (don't worry -- Mommy didn't crash).

Wednesday started earlier than usual with the arrival of our little friend (who has some of the most delicious thigh rolls ever). The living room turned back into baby central, and I won't lie -- I kind of liked it. Cohen caught up of some of his reading while rain clouds rolled in. The rain ruined my plans of grilling turkey burgers, so they had to be pan fried instead -- still delicious! At church, Cohen pranced around with his new backpack and almost killed me with all his cuteness. In anticipation of our upcoming trip to Atlanta to minister to the homeless, we put together 104 hygiene kits to pass out this weekend.

Thursday, Cohen decided he needed to wear his hat all morning long -- even at breakfast. Then I packed up the babies (smack in the middle of nap time) to meet Travis to sign some papers so we can refinance our mortgage. The babies were awesome during the signing, but fell asleep the minute we got back in the car. That afternoon, we played with cars, and then we went to the park where Cohen sat in a big boy swing all by himself. We ended our night with ice cream, and I'm not positive the boy actually ate any of his ice cream.

Friday, we went out to meet some friends at Chik-fil-a all dressed up as a cow (see the ears?), but the second I pulled into the parking lot, I began to feel a little ragey at all the people, so we skipped our free chicken and headed to the dollar store instead. Cohen got some new animal toys, so he was happy. That evening, we got some much-needed rain as we drove to the grandparents' house. Cohen played a little game of keep-away with his grand-daddy, colored a picture at dinner, and did a little shopping. Back at his grandparents' home, he played well into the night before he decided that he did not, in fact, want to sleep there (which resulted in a midnight drive home for baby, daddy, and me).

Saturday morning, we headed back to the grandparents, and Cohen watched his grand-daddy on the tractor from the window. We all enjoyed a delicious breakfast, and then Travis and I headed into Atlanta to minister to the homeless and pass out lunches and hygiene kits. After a few hours (and a bunch of water), we headed back home. I couldn't tell you what happened that evening -- I was pretty much dead from exhaustion.

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Vlog. About cussing (and other things).

Well, now I went and did it. A video blog.

And is it just me, or is it completely nightmarish to see your own face and hear your own voice ? There is definitely a reason why I like to be behind the camera. But you can't deny how adorable that boy is... even when profanity is spewing from his mouth.

Did that catch your attention? My sweet boy cussing? Yup. And I'm pretty sure I taught him how.

Before you call DFACS, watch the video :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cohen is 20 Months Old

Dear Cohen,

Today you turned 20 months old. That's 4 months away from 2, in case you hadn't realized. And the closer you get to 2, the more and more you change and grow and become such an amazing little boy. This was a huge month for you -- you are doing so many new things and growing more and more into your own person. I'm just holding on and enjoying this ride.

Perhaps the biggest and most noticable change this month is that you've learned 2 small but powerful words: what's that? That little phrase has shattered any barrier to your curiosity and caused you to learn a lot very quickly. This week, we went to the grocery store. Here's is what our conversation sounded like as we walked down one aisle:

Cohen: "What's that?"
Mama: "Fruit."
Cohen: "Fut. What's that?"
Mama: "Fruit."
Cohen: "Fut. What's that?"
Mama: "Those are tacos."
Cohen: "Taaaaacos. What's that?"
Mama: "Those are beans."
Cohen: "Beans. What's that?"
Mama: "Soup."
Cohen: "Sooooop. What's that?"
Mama: "That's pasta."
Cohen: "Paaasta. What's that?"

and on it on it went, up and down each aisle. You want to know what everything is. And the thing that gets me is that you remember all this stuff. This weekend, we were reading out of a book, and you asked me what it was called, so I told you it was a Bible. The next day, you sifted through all your books, and brought the Bible to your daddy, proclaiming "Biiiiiible. Biiiiible."

Your recall ability is getting really good. I can now point to your body parts, ask "What's that?" and you can name it. That's a huge step from me asking where a body part is and having you point to it. You are beginning to memorize songs and patterns. You can count to 8 all on your own, you sing many parts of the alphabet song accurately, you know a few songs by heart and can sing them so people can actually understand what you're singing. Our favorite sings are "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", the bubbles song you learned at the library, "The Itsy Bitsy Spider", and "Joy Joy Joy Down In My Heart."

Your tantrums have increased in intensity but have decreased in frequency. They consist of throwing yourself into walls and furniture, throwing objects, pushing toys away, and falling to the ground. And they are ususally a result of you wanting to assert your independence at an inopportune time (or when you're just way too tired). Tantrums now always result in Time Out, and you are not a fan of Time Out. Lately, when I see the beginnings of a tantrum coming on, I'll say, "Oooh, I don't like tantrums. They're ugly. Do you need a Time Out?" You'll stop, look at me, say "No," and will usually move on to something else. I am so proud when you make a good decision.

Conversations like that are pretty much the norm for us now. If you don't understand the things I say, you sure are a good faker. We have so many converstaions throughout the day, many of them pretty complex for someone under 2. You love to sit in my lap, look up into my face, and talk to me. You can tell me when you are hungry or when you hurt or when you are sleepy. You can tell me what you want. That's been huge for us. We all feel so confident right now simply because we can communicate.

You know the rules, and you like to inforce them (even if you don't like to follow them). You love to tell people "No no no" when they do something they shouldn't do (especially your daddy). You don't like messes, and if you see them, you want them cleaned up. You respond to spills by rubbing your hand in the spill, trying to sipe it up. You respond to little pieces of trash by picking them up and giving them to an adult. You don't like when things are "dirrrrrrrrty."

You also love to take baths and brush your hair and brush your teeth. In the mornings when you watch me get dressed, you ask for your brush so that you can brush your hair, and you ask for your "toot brussss" so you can brush your teeth. You like to put on your own shoes (or mine or your daddy's).

Last week, we went to the pediatrician for your 20 month check up. You are 29 pounds (82%ile) and in the 67%ile for height. You are a sturdy little boy with a broad ribcage and a wide stance. You still wear 18-24 month and 2T clothes. You're still wearing size 4 diapers. And you're still wearing your size 6 -6.5 shoes, but I don't know how long that will last -- your feet are getting pretty big.

You still go to bed aroung 8 at night and don't wake up again until 8 or 9 in the morning. You still like long naps in the afternoon. You still spend every waking hour being a very active little boy, running around and getting into trouble (and making me laugh). Life with you is just easy, and I wonder how we ever felt whole without you.

You are the most amazing blessing. Every day with you is the most special gift I've ever received. I cannot get enough of you: your smile, your raspy little voice, your sweet spirit, your big blue eyes. You are everything I always prayed for and everything I didn't even know I needed. I love being your mommy. And I love you. To the moon and back. Forever and ever.

Until next month,