Dear RaJenBabies,

Yesterday was your 9 month well-checkup. This visit marked eight weeks since our last trip to the clinic, a welcomed hiatus considering at that time we had been to the clinic four consecutive Monday’s due to illness. Pulling you out of daycare played no small part in the reduction of colds and ear infections. It’s funny to look back a year ago and we were taking tours of childcare centers, and now you’re at home with a nanny. Number three. But so far, things are going well.

This time last year, you were only 13 weeks from being born and I wrote about your taste buds developing. And my are we working them now! To date, you’ve eaten apples, bananas, blueberries, mangos, pears, cantelope, peaches, prunes, sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, cauliflower, butternut squash, green beans, zucchini, broccoli, eggplant, spinach, cucumber, lentils, brown rice, chickpeas, black eyed peas, gluten-free bread, and couscous. And almost overnight, just last week, you started picking up small pieces of food and feeding yourself bits of pears, bread, and barley biter biscuits. In the next couple days and weeks, we’ll introduce yogurt and maybe some cottage cheese. And it’s about now, when we look into your closet, that I feel that they shouldn’t even bother making clothes for 8-12 month olds because this teetering with independence in feeding is very very messy.

We love listening in on your as you awaken usually some time between 5:30am and 6:15am. We can hear you coo-ing and babbling and talking to each other. Mateo, you even pull down your crib bumper to see if anyone is coming in the door. And when no one does, your volume increases over the minutes. By 6:15, I am ready for work and Matou and I go downstairs to get you up, diaper changed, and ready for breakfast. Besides seeing you when I get home, it is probably my favorite time of the day.

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In the last couple weeks, both of you have started to pull up on things, getting to a knee and the other leg stretched outward, like you are stretching your hamstrings for a run. More recently, you’ll get to two knees. Sometimes, to a planted foot and one knee. And on at least one ocassion, all the way to two feet. This is an exciting development for both of you, but there are two consequences to this activity: the unsteadiness leads inevitably to a fall or head bonk; and, we’re learning that not a single “encourages pulling up” toy can withstand the sheer force of an eager and exploring baby. The only thing that can temporarily handle you pushing and pulling is the little zebra MaMa Janet brought over.

You are definitely into stranger danger, uneasy of too many faces at once, or unfamiliar faces. Dropping you at the church nursery while we go home and nap and have breakfast to the santuary is not as easy as it used to be. We stopped by the obstetrician’s office yesterday, on the way to your well checkup. You must have remembered her pulling you out of your comfortable cave because neither of you greeted her enthusiastically.

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The good thing is that within a few minutes – or twenty – and with the security of our hugs, you warm up to them. Very important when, say, it comes to grandparents since they’re the ones you’ll have to ask for that thing that we won’t get you.

You both seem to enjoy when we read to you and you help us by turning the pages. Texture books, mirror me books, and flap books are your current favorites. Mateo, you like to mostly snake around on your belly. And Harper, you like to mostly sit – and it gives you great joy to hold something that your brother wants up high, waving it over your head. I’m not sure that this is conscious or not, but it is hilarious.

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We try to mix up the toys available, and not put too many down at once. You have your favorites, too.

Mateo, you still love your snail – the one you loved at daycare and I found on the internet for you. And you also love the the window on the Laugh and Learn Home. You can be in whatever mood in whatever location of the room, and with one lift of the window, you’ll make your way to it so you can move it while it goes “UUUP!” “Dooooooooown!” over and over and over again. And again. And just to be sure, again.

As of yesterday, Mateo, you are weighing in at 21 lb 15 oz, and 29 1/4 inches long. In just 14 days, two more teeth have erupted and that now makes seven teeth. You have made it quite impossible for us to ignore this fact by maintaining a guiness record-worthy whining that sounds like a constipated hyena, broken up only by the necessity to breathe in more air to start all over again. Most of the time, I’m not even sure you are aware you are doing it because you’ll whine while playing with a toy, rolling around the living room, turning up the volume if you make eye contact with an adult. Clearly, there are no vision problems.

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Harper, you are now weighing in at 19 lb 12.5 oz and 27 1/4 inches long. Your favorite toy lately is the Busy Ball Choo Choo train. You love to pull the balls out, hold them, dance with them, and put them back in the train. And then watch intently as they rise again, only for you to pull them out. Again. And the music, ah, the music. You love to dance to it. Yes, you dance to almost all rhythmic sounds, but you get down to the Choo Choo.

Not sure what the deal is with fleece, but YOU LOVE IT. If one of us is wearing a fleece pullover, you will bite it, shake your head, and laugh. We bought you a cutsie, not inexpensive “lovie” for you to sleep with and it turns out all you want is the sleep sack with the broken zipper. So we cut it up, had a friend sew the edges, and you’ve taken to sleeping with a small fleece woobie across your face. This frightens me to no end, but it is how you like to sleep. So at night, we’ll move it to the side and sure enough, before we go to bed, it’s over your face again, hands over your head. So be it.

Just when I was about to be concerned, at 8 ½ months, you FINALLY rolled over on your own, with no external motivation nor assistance from us! It’s About Time! This has resulted in you, at some point in the night, sleeping on your belly. In fact, you have been sleeping on your belly for a couple of weeks now.

You also laugh. Often, and with no notice. We don’t know what you’re laughing at 90% of the time you are laughing, but we sure hope you keep that sense of joy.

Not surprisingly, Dr. McC said “they’re getting sooooooo BIIIIIGGGGG!” yesterday when we went to show you off. Because we get to see you both everyday, though not nearly as much as we’d like, it’s hard to make sure we absorb each new development in character and growth without it being diluted in the day-to-day bustle. It’s hard to put it all in perspective. I try to grasp onto how huge each moment is, but it’s like no matter how hard I swim with the river of amazement, I never quite reach the fullness of wonder and awe each of those moments deserves. You push us to be more. To be better.

Love,

Mommy & Matou

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