6 months old

Rory James,

Ohh baby. You are halfway through your first year! Part of me just can't believe it, but the other part of me swears you've been a part of my life for years and years.

We hit a few milestones this month, and they were good milestones. I'm not a huge fan of milestones that wreak havoc on our routine- like rolling over. None of us slept for weeks when that happened. Oh that was a bad one. But this month you've started being able to sit up all on your own! It happened so suddenly, like in just one day you were this balancing champion. I LOVE that you can sit up. I'll sit with you on the floor and set you between my legs for when you inevitably topple over and I'll do homework while you play. So many more of your toys are much more accessible now that you're not laying on your back all the time. When you're sick of sitting, you sort of just flop to the side and melt onto your back. It is hilarious. My favorite is when you're sitting on my lap and you turn and look back at me to make sure I'm there, then you smile and fall over because you've turned too far.

There was one day I had too much faith in your sitting up capabilities. I left you on your play mat and ran to my room to grab a book when I heard a loud BONK and you started screaming. Somehow you stretched yourself out and your head managed to nick the edge of the couch on your way down. That was your first "real" playing injury and you were completely inconsolable. I felt so bad! I fed you and rocked you and after a few hours you finally fell asleep. No bruise, no bump, no blood, but boy, you must've just been scared or shocked because that was a bad day.

We officially started feeding you solid foods. I talked a bit last month about how I gave you a taste for applesauce and you went nuts for it. Since then you've tried so many more foods and you have the biggest appetite. Honestly, I don't know when to stop feeding you. You will just eat and eat and eat whatever I put out. So far you've tried apples, bananas, pears, zucchini, pumpkin, sweet potato, avocado, peas, carrots, and mangos. You didn't like avocados or mangos at first, but once I mixed them with bananas you came around. When you like a flavor you grab at my hands and pull the spoon towards you eagerly. You always make a face on the first bite, even if you like it, even if you've had it before.

You usually eat solid meals around 9am and 6pm, though you eat so much I'm wondering if I should start feeding you lunch as well. It's usually a fruit in the morning, sometimes mixed with oatmeal, and then veggies for dinner. I've tried to let you feed yourself a few times. I've sliced up some bananas, avocado, cooked carrots, and mangos and set them on your highchair. You'd rather just paint with them than feed yourself. If I put a slice in your mouth, your not exactly sure how to deal with it so you just mush it around until it falls out. But if I spoon you some puree you just go to TOWN. You know exactly how to chomp and swallow and you whine if I don't give you your food fast enough. Boy, you love to eat.

Solid food means big boy poops! I have to admit, one of the big reasons I wanted to put off starting solids was because I didn't want to have to deal with real poops. Those things are gross. Having a dirty diaper never used to bother you, but now you're obviously uncomfortable and you like to be changed as soon as possible. You poop every single morning when I set you in your high chair. And it is a production. You groan and whine and your eyes tear up and you make your poop face and I just laugh and watch and send snapchats to my siblings. Because it happens every morning.

You really found your voice this month. I thought you'd start by babbling, but no, you let out high pitched squeals. You squeal and squeal and squeal. It's cute, don't get me wrong, but oh it can get annoying. You also like to bbbbbbbbbb with your mouth. Sometimes you catch me off guard and spit in my face while you bbbbbbbb.

You drool. The amount that you drool is astounding. You soak your shirts down to your belly button. It's gotten to the point that we'll keep a bib on you so that you don't get chilled from your wet clothes. Your fingers are always in your mouth and you just chomp chomp chomp on them. You suck on everything that is set in front of you and you really give that thing a bath. So far, this is your only sign of teething. I haven't noticed any pain yet, thank goodness.

Nursing has become an adventure. The room has to be completely quiet or else you let go and swivel your head around searching for the source of the noise. The worst is when your dad is around. You stare and smile at him and the milk will run out of your mouth and all over my lap. I have to strategize and position myself perfectly on the couch so that there is nothing for you to look at and nothing will grab your attention away. If Andy needs to talk to me he will open up a word document on his computer and type what he has to say. It's that bad. You kick a lot while you nurse too. I sometimes loop my arm through your legs to hold you still, and then you twiddle your toes against my shoulder.

Your schedule usually goes something like this:
Wake up around 8:30, nurse, then eat a solid breakfast.
Nap from 9:30 - 11:00, nurse,
Nap from 12:30 - 2:30, nurse,
Nap from 4:00 - 5:30, nurse, eat dinner,
then we start our bedtime routine around 7 and you're in bed by 8 after one final nurse.

You wake up usually twice at night to eat, sometimes 3 or 4 times on a really bad day when you didn't nap well. Things are getting better. The fact that you even have something of a schedule that I can put down is huge. Right now we're trying to figure out how to keep you dry all through the night. There's got to be some magical hour that you need to be changed and I always miss it, because I'm usually too late or too early and we'll have to switch your sheets and pajamas at 4am because everything is wet.

We have a lot more freedom with your nap schedule during the day. I can actually take you out of the house and you can stay happy if we need to skip a nap. You've gone 3 hours without sleeping with no consequences. Any more than that and we have a difficult night or a hard time getting you to nap the next day. We're past the worst! Our bedtime routine is the same as last month. I love that you understand that the routine means bedtime. After your final feeding, I rock you and sing to you and your attention is 100% on me. You light up and just stare and smile and laugh and suck on my shirt. I tend to drag this time out and sing like 15 songs just because it is so much fun for me. Sometimes if you have a hard time falling asleep I'll kneel next to your crib and scratch your back. My brothers always loved when I scratched their back and I love that you do too. You become sort of rigidly relaxed, and once I stop you get worked up again and I end up picking you up out of your crib anyway, but I love how you act when I scratch your back.

Before we go to sleep, Andy will come in and check on you and more often than not, he'll tiptoe excitedly and come grab me to come see how cute you are. You'll be crammed into the corner of your crib or asleep on your knees with your bum up in the air. My word baby, we couldn't be more obsessed with you.

We got you a high chair this month and I have no idea how we lived without it. You'll sit in it and play with your toys and drool all over while I cook and purée and store all of your baby food and we'll listen to music. I love that you are old enough to sit and entertain yourself. It makes all the difference. We started working on basic sign language. When you drop your toys off of your tray I'll sign 'please' and 'thank you', and we also do 'eat' and 'more' and 'milk'. I love seeing your dad do the signs for you. I know it all goes completely over your head, but I'm excited to see if you catch on anytime soon.

You're completely scared of strangers. I'll take you to the grocery store and college girls will come up and start to play with you, and you'll smile if they keep their distance but once they get close to you you scrunch up your face with terror and just waaaiiillll. You have the ugliest cry face in these situations and I think it's completely adorable.

You are getting super strong and can do a full push up with your arms extended. A few times you've even hoisted yourself up on your knees. Kid, you are going to start crawling so soon and I'm just going to sit back and enjoy your immobility while it lasts because with all that energy you've got I know I'm going to be chasing you all over this apartment. While you're practicing your pushups you tend to scootch yourself backwards until you get stuck on or under something. Yesterday we found you halfway underneath a dresser. You get your legs tangled in all sorts of messes. I guess it will be good when you start moving forward rather than backward.

Sometimes I get a glimpse of how tender and kind you are. One time, I had just finished nursing you and you lay on my lap staring up at my face. My hair was down and, instead of grabbing it harshly like you would any of your toys, you gently let it run between your fingers. Over and over you just pet my hair and stared at it intensely. It was amazing. Other times you'll grab the sides of my face and pull me in close and give me a big open mouthed kiss. I'm the only one you ever do that too and I love it. I swear you've said 'mama' from your crib at night when you wake up. Andy doesn't believe me, but I promise I've heard it twice. How incredible will it be when you say my name for real?

You laugh and smile and you make our lives so great. I think 6 months is my favorite age so far. Baby boy I love you with all my heart! Thank you for making me so happy!

See other 'letters to Rory' here.

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