Van @ 9 Months

Growth & Appearance: You’re not chubby so much as you are girthy. You’re solid. We joke that you have emphysema because you are so barrel chested. Maybe you spent your overdue days in the womb hanging out and smoking?
You also still have an “old man” appearance and several people have commented that you seem “wise”; I think the two are intertwined. Whatever the case may be, your Papa’s Aunt self-diagnosed you as a genius and I’m not arguing with the woman.
You weigh 21 lbs, 6 oz. (60th percentile), 30 inches long (91st percentile), head circumference 18 inches (60th percentile). You’re wearing size 4 diapers (same as your brother), size 18-24 month pants (you got some long legs), and size 12 month onesies/tops. Your hair is brown with little specks of golden. Most people say, like your brother, that you look like your Papa but have my eyes. I agree.
Teeth: It only took 9 months, but your first tooth has sprouted. Your bottom left has broken through and your bottom right is right behind it. I can see the top two working their way down as well. You’re about to have a whole new look. We won’t wait until they turn yellow to brush them like we did with your brother, promise.
Eating: Baby led weaning has been bliss. You love it, we love it, and feeding you is easier than asking a bronco to buck. You eat everything. In fact, you cry when there is nothing left in front of you. I’ve learned to cut your food into tiny pieces before setting it in front of you because you get too frustrated by the fact that I cannot cut it as fast as you can gobble it. You’ll eat just about anything, but your favorites are bread products. You eat everything on your own. I offer you 2-3 meals per day and you eat a lot at each meal.
You jump up and down in your high chair when we have oatmeal for breakfast. And you still eat a lot of the pieces of the shag rug in the office.
You breastfeed 8 to 9 times a day. Some sessions last as little as 5 minutes but the morning and night feeds are always longer sessions. Our schedule is similar to what it was last month, though you seem to phase at least one feeding out most days: breastfeed twice before breakfast, then once after, breastfeed before lunch, then once after, breastfeed twice before dinner, then once before bed. I feel more relaxed about breastfeeding now that we’re on the home stretch. My plan, at this point, is to make it to your first birthday and then go as long as you are interested and as long as it’s enjoyable.
I pump after your morning feed and get anywhere from 1 to 3 oz. It doesn’t seem like much, but I combine it with the next days pumped milk and store it in the freezer for the days I work. I have way more milk than I need, but not enough to donate. 
Sleeping: I’ve found you sitting up in your crib for the first time ever. It seems to have taken you awhile to move off your back. Now you’re up sitting every time I come in and I can tell pulling to stand is just around the corner. Since you started crawling, you’ve also started sleeping on your stomach. We come in to spy on you and, oftentimes, you’re little bum is sticking straight up into the air. I love this stage.
You sleep through the night, consistently. I sleep soundly and don’t go to bed at night with one ear to the monitor. It’s like heaven. Thank you. Here’s your sleep schedule: Wake up between 7-8am, nap around 11am until 1pm, afternoon nap from 4pm to 5:30pm, bedtime around 9pm. Your schedule has to be more flexible, so you don’t always get a second nap, though I’m sure you need it.
Nursing doesn’t always put you to sleep, but you have no trouble going down despite being placed in your crib awake.

Development: You have old man strength. We caught on to this early on but it’s manifesting in more ways now that you’re more mobile. The other day I sat you on a tricycle. A friend tried to pick you up off the tricycle and ended up lifting you up only to find the tricycle still in your grasp. You’ll be the one we turn to when we can’t open cans and banging the damn thing on the bottom to get the air out isn’t working.
You’re used to things being taken away from you, but rest assured that taking anything away from you is no easy feat. I think I’ve mentioned your death grip in every update thus far, but it’s worth repeating because it really is deadly. Every now and again (as in numerous times a day) I’ll have to take something away from you. It’s difficult to baby proof when you have a brother that throws everything on the floor. Accompanying your death grip now, however, is the sassy cat growl. You sense when somethings about to be ripped from your claws and start to draw it in closer to your body and bury your little head to your chest to protect your prize. Then you growl. When Hooper manages to take something away from you anyway, you scream and shake your head violently back and forth. You aren’t talking, per say, but you are a fantastic communicator.
Speaking of communicating, you say “ab da”. A lot.
You know your name. You’ve responded to it for quite some time but I’ve failed to mention it here.
You’re a wiggle worm on the changing table. I can’t even lay you down before you’re lifting your head up off the table to get a better view of something to grab. It’s nearly impossible to get a diaper on you; you contort your body in such a way that resembles this guy.
You mimic our waves and are starting to learn to clap.
You crawl with your right leg tucked in. You look handicapped.
You crawl under the desk often and then cry when you hit your head.
When you’re sitting, your arms are always up and out as if you are holding onto the handle bars of your motorcycle.
You make fantastic eye contact. We went to dinner with your Aunt KiKi and Chris and Chris insisted you starred him down. I believe it. You’re very personable. You love to laugh and even when you aren’t feeling good, you always smile. As long as no one is taking something away from you, you’re quite happy.
Now that you are crawling, you’re able to entertain yourself. As I write this, you’re underneath the pinball machine playing with the wire. You’ve been there for at least 10 minutes and you are perfectly content. Now you are eating the rug. You like eating the loose pieces of the rug. Damn the wool rug.
You’ve found Sarah’s food and when you’re near it, you want to eat it. Your brother ate so much dog food I was beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t just put it on a plate and call it breakfast. 
Favorites: To say you love me seems like an understatement. Doggonit, it is understated. You L O V E me. No matter where I put you on the office rug, you always seem to meander your way over to my chair. You grab on to let me know you’re there and then look at me with these eyes as if to say, “These toys are cool, but you are cooler”. Despite your love for me, now that you’re crawling you’re quite fond of traveling all over the place to find something new to get into. You like balls, the dog leash, and pretty much anything you see Hooper playing with.

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Van @ 8 Months

Growth & Appearance: You’re growing fast. Like, really fast. You’re incredibly long, longer than some babies much older than you. You have the perfect amount of chubs around your belly button and I’m often pinching the chubs around your thighs while grinning my teeth. I call this love abuse because I’m sure it hurts from time to time, but you’re so dang cute I just can help myself. It’s like saying you’re so cute I could eat you, only I take a little nibble. It’s whatevs.
Your hair is getting lighter. Because your newborn hair completely fell out in certain areas, the hairs on the back of your head are significantly longer and stick up like weeds in a freshly mowed field of grass. And when the wind blows, they sway like little flowers and move with the breeze. You hair is soft and everyone around here enjoys rubbing your little fuzz head, including your brother.
We’re finishing out the size 3 diapers, but you’re clearly better off in size 4. This means you wear the same size diaper as your brother, for the record. Pajamas are size 18 months, soon to be 2T.
Still no teeth, but not to worry, you could probably chew gum with your gums.
Eating: You love feeding yourself (I wrote about our decision to go the baby led weaning route here). You typically eat 2 meals a day, but I leave this totally up to you. Some days you don’t want breakfast and I don’t push it, confident that what you’re getting from breastfeeding is all you really need anyway. What you don’t eat in the morning, you make up for in the evening. You typically eat a large amount in the evening and it normally comes from our own plates. You’ve tried just about everything: chicken, fish, pastas, rice, and loads of various fruits and vegetables. There isn’t anything you haven’t liked thus far, though I should note that you definitely have a preference as to how you are fed. Regardless if you love the food, you do not like when I try to give it to you via a spoon. Things like yogurt are very tough to feed you because you want complete control over everything that goes in your mouth. More power to you. I’m just not sure how to get certain things in, given the fact you don’t have the dexterity to use proper utensils. In any case, we’re really enjoying the baby led weaning process.
I’m still breastfeeding you around 9x/day. It feels like a lot, but it’s on demand and I refuse to feed you any other way. With that said, it’s all very predictable and we have a nice routine that looks something like this: Breastfeed twice in the morning before breakfast and then once before your morning nap, then breastfeed twice before lunch and then once before your afternoon nap, then breastfeed twice before dinner and then once before bed. The amount of milk I’ve been donating has slowed, as I’m starting to stock up in anticipation of my supply lessening as it did with Hooper around the 10th month mark. 
Sleeping: You’re sleeping consistently through the night and I’ve nearly forgotten the zombie I once was. Selective memory, I suppose. You’re sleeping about 10 hours at night, going down around 9pm and waking around 7am. You typically nap in the morning for 2 hours and again in the evening for 2 hours. The naps are more inconsistent; you always take one, but it’s hard to know how long they’re going to last.
You always sleep on your back, as you’re not much of a roller. You maneuver your way around your crib, but I always find you on your back.
Nursing puts you to sleep most nights, but occasionally you’re still awake after your nighttime feed. Nevertheless, you tend to drift off to sleep on your own with ease.
Development: Just after your seventh month, you became able to hold yourself up in a standing position. You often reach for my hands to use as support and pull yourself up to a standing position. This is typically your way of macgyvering your way into my arms, which is where you typically prefer to be. Your able to hold yourself up in a standing position if I give you something to hold on to.
You’re not crawling yet, despite your obvious desire to. I’m torn between wanting you to crawl in hopes it brings more independence and not wanting you to crawl because, lets face it, it’s more work for me. You reach out often from a sitting position and nearly make it on to all fours before you plop back down on your bottom. You’re able to rotate a full 360 degrees in the sitting position and can get just about anything within a couple foot radius by scooting.
You appear to be right handed. You consistently put food in your mouth using your right hand. Your pincer grasp is much more efficient and you’re able to pick up small crumbs off the table.
You have a friendly disposition and you love to laugh. Sometimes I hear you laughing in your carseat and I can’t, for the life of me, figure out what’s making you giggle. You’re fine going from one person to the next so long as I’m not in sight.
You’ve started gibber jabbering and say “Da” and “Ma”.
You love music. You rock back and forth violently when it’s playing and just recently you started shaking you head back and forth with your chin down toward your chest like you’re back in 1940’s Cuba listening to a man play a trumpet in a darkened music hall. 
Favorites: I’m still your favorite. Not much tops your mama these days. Knowing that it’s fleeting makes me hold on to these days for as long as I can. Your mama’s arms are always open. Taking second place is the electric tooth brush. You’re pretty fond of thing too.

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Hooper @ 15 Months

Growth: You weigh 22lbs 15oz (25%), up two pounds since your last appointment at twelve months. While I do pay close attention to what you eat and how much you drink, how much you weigh no longer holds my interest. It’s funny to hear the doctor say, “the only thing he’s below average in now is weight”. It sounds so harsh, like average is something one should be striving toward. You’ll be long and lanky like your parents, sorry. With that said you are above average in head circumference, 60%, and height, 60%. At this rate, you are predicted to be 5’11 and 160. Papa is about 6’1 and 175. I think you’ll hit quite a few more spurts along the way. You have 9 teeth, four top, four bottom, and one first molar on the top left.
Feeding: We started what I refer to as Operation Feed Hooper Different Foods and it’s worked. Mama had to redefine her goals and settle for a mere taste as a designated success, but at the end of the month I can say you have tasted and tried many new foods and several were even enjoyed. The happiness it brings to put together a meal and then have you enjoy it is indescribable. I think it’s innate, a transfer of the fulfillment from breastfeeding to filling you up with other good nutrients. I suppose that’s why woman are typically putting the food on the table. Whatever the case, you’ve tried new things. It’s the small victories…
You’ve taken to holding your own bottle. I’m not sure how, it seemed to happen overnight. It’s much easier now to hand you a bottle of milk and let you roam around leisurely with your cocktail as opposed to having to sit down and feed you. You are, however, quite keen on dumping your bottle upside down and leaving a milk trail wherever you go. You enjoy this even more when you notice Sarah following oh so close behind in anticipation of your spillage. At some point the bottle just becomes a toy and then I start to miss the days where I cradled you on the sofa as you gulped down your bottle. These days I have to follow you around and clean up and remind you “milk for Hooper, not Sarah” and prompt you to “put it in your mouth”, which are just the words sons want to hear from their mothers. Just as I’m writing this I had to get up and retrieve your bottle from the drawer of DVD’s you hid it in. You have me questioning if this bottle training was really a good idea and worrying about what the future of using a cup is going to be like. Not sure what we’d do without Sarah. Her attention to things on the floor is very much appreciated. 
Sleeping: You’re still the sleep champion. You go to bed about 9pm, wake up about 7:30am. Then you nap from about 10am-12pm and again from about 3pm-5pm. You refuse to take much of a nap when you’re at your Nina’s house. Not sure why. All I know is that you conk right out as soon as you get home and we usually have to wake you for dinner. We still have the monitor in your room, I can’t seem to part with it. It feels like a life line. 
Talking: Life just isn’t like the movies where things happen and there’s no debate or doubt about it. First steps are clearly first steps and first words are practically used in sentence form with the perfect meaning attached. With that said, you’ve said a lot of things. Not consistently and not always coherently. You said what we thought was “doggie” a while back, but I have yet to hear that again. Your Nina said she heard you say “cookie”a long time ago. I think I heard a version of cookie a couple days ago. You say baby and point to your belly. Baby is your first two syllable word. You also say “boom”. Sometimes I think you’re saying “broom”. It’s hard to know. But you did fall on your bum the other day and then proclaimed “boom”. You also took the broom out of the closet and said “broom” repeatedly, rolling your “r” like someone south of the boarder. So maybe you are saying both boom and broom. You refer to Sarah’s food dishes as “nay nay”. The only sense I can make of this is that every time you run toward that food dish we say “no no”. Any phone is referred to as “ma-ma”. Not sure if this is because you recognize me as ma ma and associate the phone with hearing my voice or if you just like to call the phone ma-ma. You say “papa”, but it’s pronounced as both a secret and a question. You try to repeat “Nina” when I mention you are going to Nina’s house. It comes out as “Nay Nay”, so I’m not sure you are trying to say Nina or if the dog bowl is all that’s on your mind. Maybe you can explain all your gibber gabber later. When I can tell you are poopin’ your pants I say “ca-ca” and you repeat “ca-ca” and grab your diaper. Perhaps potty training is in the not too distant future. You also say “ball”, “ca” for “calm”, “gone” after you throw things on the floor, and I swear you say “Was dis?” when you hear a strange noise, like the garbage man coming (Lisa, maybe you were right about Evan… haha). 
Development: You have quite the sense of humor. You’re finding more things funny and are starting to repeat the things you get a kick out of. You like teasing Sarah and having her chase you. You break out into a big ol’ giggle session when she nips your little butt playfully. Not sure how this will pan out when you don’t wear diapers anymore. That may turn your giggles to tears. The difference between now and before is that before you found us funny, now you find yourself funny. You’re able to easily entertain yourself these days. You personality has grown exponentially. I was fairly certain you were right handed, but as of late, you’ve been using your spoon quite often with the left hand. You throw a ball with whatever hand has the ball in it. Again, more ambiguity. You are good at following direction. Your new trick is turning around. You think it’s funny when we say “turn around” and you make a 360 degree turn. You also like doing rolls. Yes, I’m teaching you forward rolls. You do so many in succession that you come up a little dizzy and I worry about you holding your food down. You can climb up your high chair like it’s a latter and love climbing onto my desk chair to move the mouse around and stare at the computer screen. 
On Becoming a Big Brother: Clearly you have no ability to conceptualize the meaning of a baby growing inside me. What you do understand is that mama has a belly we refer to as “baby”. You like to pat your “baby” as well. You may not understand it all, but you certainly are intrigued by my belly and like to lift up my shirt and poke my belly button. Multiple times a day you prompt me to show you my belly and you proceed to give the baby unsolicited hugs and kisses which melt my heart instantly and make me think that while you are not old enough to “get it”, on some subconscious level the wheels are spinning. Your behavior appears totally innate and makes me question my overpowering logical side.