15 Months

Dear Riley,

In the blink of an eye, you are already 15 months old.  At your latest doctor visit, you weighed 23 pounds, and are nearly 33 inches long – that’s almost 3 feet tall!

You are my little monster – you are just into everything, and so fast – you RUN around the house.  The cats are extremely unhappy about this development since you catch up to them so much easier now.  “Cat” is definitely your favorite word.  Pretty much any furry animal is a ‘cat’ – including the dogs.  And any feathered animal is a ‘duck.’

Even though your vocabulary is fairly limited at this point, you are a really good communicator.  You constantly bring me things, like books:  ‘read me this book mommy,’ or snacks: ‘ I want one of these crackers now mommy,’ or your doodle sketch: “draw me a cat mommy.”  You also point to things in books (or on your head) so that I can tell you what it is.  “That is a pig.”  “Those are your ears.”  You also ask me to sing “Head and Shoulders” to you by pointing to your eyes.  I’ll start singing the song to you, and you will show me your pleasure by giggling and waiving your arms.

You understand so much now.  If I say “it’s lunchtime” you head straight for your high chair.  And if we say the magic word “bath” you bolt for the bathroom.  You LOVE taking baths.  You try climbing into the bath before we can even get your clothes off!

You also tell us what you don’t like too, which is pretty much anything involving rules.  “No, you may not take a glass jar out of the refrigerator.”  “No you may not walk outside with shoes.”  And so on.  A great many limitations upset you right now.  You are still only a year old after all.

But most of the time you run around the house chirping loudly as though you are a bird in a tropical rainforest.  I’d say you are a pretty happy kid.  You constantly fill our lives with your bubbly chatter, giggles, and noises.

As fast as you are learning these days, I still sometimes feel like you are desperate to learn more more more.  You have worn several of your books out to the point that the spines have torn or fallen apart.  You even conduct experiments, putting legos, books and whatever you can get your hands on into your ball popper to see what fits.  I’m constantly taping books back together, and taking apart your ball popper to retrieve stuck items.

My little atomic ball of energy, you keep mama on her toes and running after you.  Thank you for all your giggles and smiles.  Thank you for all your little hugs.  Thank you for being just so incredibly awesome.  I love you Riley Roo.

Love , Mommy


One Year

Dear Riley,

Where has the time gone?  I can’t believe you are a year old already!

It’s so hard to believe sometimes how much our lives have changed since you were born.  It’s sort of like you are this really short person living in our house who doesn’t speak our language, and yet I feel like I’ve known you forever.  In fact, I’ve been having conversations with you in my head for years – it’s as if I’ve always known that someday you would join us.

This month has been full of changes once again.  You are finally starting to get teeth!  Yay!

You are also communicating a lot more.  You say “cat,” “dog” and “nana” for banana.  And “dog” really sounds more like “gup” but you say it every time you see the dogs, so we know that’s what you are trying to say.  You also suddenly started clapping your hands and waving ‘hello’ and ‘bye bye’.

We had your birthday party last weekend, and you got your first taste of birthday cake.  At first you were afraid to taste it, and you started crying when we tried putting some icing in your mouth.  But once you tasted that icing, you loved it!

You also celebrated your first Thanksgiving.  You spent the day walking around the house trying to get into everything (we had to lock all of the kitchen cabinets because you love opening them and taking everything out).  You watched football with Daddy, and you tried to help Mommy snap green beans by putting them in your mouth and chewing on them.  And you had your own Thanksgiving meal of turkey, potatoes, green beans and even some pumpkin pie.

You also just met Santa for the first time – it went well, you didn’t cry!  We are really looking forward to spending Christmas with you, this year and every year.  It is going to be so much fun!

Sweet Pea, you have made my life and your daddy’s infinitely better.  I’ve never smiled so much as I have this past year.  I really do look forward to every day because I get to spend them with you.  The fact that I have stayed home from work and have had the opportunity to spend every minute of every day with you is simply priceless.  I wouldn’t have chosen to do this any other way.  I’ve gotten to see every single one of your milestones firsthand: the first time you rolled over, the first time you crawled, the first time you smiled, the first time you laughed, the first time you took a step…  I will cherish those moments always.  Thank you, my little darling, for bringing unconditional love back into my life.

Love, Mommy

P.S. – here is a video of your first year, and all the milestones you just charged right through!

11 Months

Dear Riley,

You only have one month to go until your first birthday!

Last night, I spent about an hour watching videos of you from your first few months of life, and it’s just so incredible how much you have changed! In less than a year, you have gone from a completely helpless infant who couldn’t even grab things with your hands, to this walking, babbling ball of energy, so desperate to learn everything as fast as possible.

This month we went to your cousin Dena’s wedding in New York. You had such fun playing with your cousins again and socializing with all the different people at the wedding. You seem to have no fear – at one point, you walked right out on the dance floor in the middle of everyone dancing. You just wanted to be right in the middle of all the action!

Cutting a rug on the dance floor with your cousins

Dancing with Daddy

You LOVE books – as much, if not more, than any toy in your room. And you definitely have favorites (which is another thing that blows my mind – how quickly and confidently you have developed such strong opinions)! Aside from your teddy bear book, you love Brown Bear Brown Bear – because you love all the different animals, and you especially love when I go through the book with you and tell you what sounds the different animals make. In fact, the more interactive the book, the better. You have several preferred touch and feel books, but what you love even more than that are books with flaps or pop-ups. Your favorite book in the whole world is a pop-up book about a kitty cat and her friends – you love the book SO much that you cry hysterically when it’s done. I usually end up reading it to you over and over – and you STILL cry like your world is ending when I finally put the book away. It’s so sad and cute at the same time. You are such a sweetheart, and I hate to see you cry like that.

Speaking of strong opinions, you have also become more picky about food lately. You used to eat anything I gave you, but not so much anymore. You are definitely deciding what you like and what you don’t like. And you are also testing what happens when you throw food on the floor!

Exploring your world, collecting leaves at the park

Since you started walking you have developed your independence, that is for sure. You are very confident, and you want to walk around and investigate everything you see. But with that independence come some boundaries, which you don’t like very much. You are still so young, my love, and you still have so much learning to do – but Mommy has to protect you along the way.

No matter how far your independence and adventurous spirit take you away from Mommy throughout your life, please never forget just how much I love you! You will always be my sweet little girl.

Love, Mommy

10 Months

Dear Riley,

My cute little monster, we are no longer in single digits!

You are as determined and independent as ever – without any encouragement from mommy or daddy, you started walking! Silly girl – you don’t even have any teeth yet!  How can you be walking already?!?

You took your first step on September 16th, and before the end of the month, you were able to take 7 or 8 steps all on your own without falling down. And of course, just like every other new skill you have acquired, you must practice and practice and practice. So all you want to do now is walk. And with something in your hand? Even better.

You especially love walking around your room with your Pooh bear in your hand. No matter that the bear is almost as big as you are! Oh my goodness, how you just love teddy bears… Your Auntie Elisa gave you a book about a teddy bear celebrating Hanukkah, and that is now your favorite book. I’ll say “where’s your teddy bear?” and sometimes you grab your Pooh bear, and sometimes you grab your book.

Riley Roo, you are so much fun these days.  You dance when you hear music – it’s just the cutest thing ever.  You LOVE playing peek-a-boo, and you love when mommy makes funny faces.  You just giggle like crazy when we tickle you, or when daddy puts you on his shoulders and pretends to ‘fall’ a little.

My favorite time of the day is still first thing in the morning when I go in your room to get you.  Now your smiles greet me right at the door – you’ll stand in your crib and just grin from ear to ear when you see me.  I can’t think of a better way to start the day.  No matter how early it is, or how tired I feel, as soon as I see your smiling little face, I’m ready for anything!

And then of course you have to try to grab as many pacifiers you possibly can before I take you out of your crib…

You are such a ham…

My sweet baby girl, you are growing up too fast!  You are so much less like a baby, and more and more like a toddler as each day goes by.  As much as I might miss that tiny baby stage where you would fall asleep on my chest, I really admire your independence and determination to learn new things and barrel forward in life.  I’m totally in awe of you sweet pea.

Love, Mommy

9 Months

Dear Riley,

You are nine months old! Before I can even catch my breath, we will be planning your first birthday party…

Almost as soon as you learned to stand up, you started cruising. You want nothing more than to stand up and practice walking while holding on to anything possible. This is your favorite thing to do – other than to be carried around by daddy, of course. You have been working nonstop on your balance skills, and you can stand still without holding onto anything for long periods of time now. You also love holding on to my fingers and walking around your room – you do most of the work, while using my fingers just as security. I can tell you are going to walk very soon, and I’m so excited but also a little apprehensive about just how drastically everything will change once you start walking. But I can tell that nothing is going to stop you, little one. You are incredibly determined!

This month has been full of change actually – right after you turned 8 months old, mommy broke her elbow. From one minute to the next, our family’s world was turned upside down. But you continue to amaze me sweetheart – you adapted to everything new without missing a beat. Some babies might be upset by having to drink from a bottle instead of breastfeeding, or having daddy put you to bed instead of mommy. Not you. You never fussed once. You are just such a sweetie, and your never ending smiles and giggles have kept me going throughout my slow recovery.

We’ve spent a lot more time in your room this month, and that may be why you are so close to walking already. When you and I play in your room, you love to pull all your books down onto the floor and try to find pages with kitty cats on them. You get so excited when you find a cat in one of your books – you squeal with delight and bounce up and down on your butt – and then you close the book and try to find the cat again. And again and again and again!

You really enjoy playing with your stuffed animals as well, and sometimes you even talk to them! You will babble away and then start laughing, and I wonder what is going on in your little imagination already.

You have moved on from playing in your jumper that you loved so much – you are no longer content to sit still in one spot, so these days you zip around the house in your walker.  We call it your ‘car’ and you absolutely love it!  You love having the ability to go where you want, investigate what you want, grab what you want (like bags of croutons from the pantry) and of course – you love chasing after the cats!  Sometimes we play ‘catch mommy’ – I hide behind a wall, and you come find me.  I jump out in front of you and say “Boo!” and you just shriek with laughter!

Sweet pea, you make me smile a hundred times a day. Thank you for being my own little ray of sunshine.

Love, Mommy

8 Months

Dear Riley,

Your eighth month of life was another huge game changer!

This month you started standing!  You are truly amazing to me – you seem to change in the blink of an eye.  You just started crawling, and two short weeks later, here you were – able to pull yourself into a standing position.  I didn’t even have a chance to start encouraging you to do this, you just did it all on your own.  You are a very independent little baby, and you just want to go, go, go!

This month you also had your first vacation and first plane ride – you were so good!  We went to New York to visit your daddy’s Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Robbie, and we went to Cape Cod to visit daddy’s old friends, the Hardwickes.  You met so many new people and you had such a great time.  You also got to play a lot with your cousins Natalie, Megan, Vivian and James.  I can’t tell you enough what a great baby you were on this trip – everyone you met fell in love with you instantly.

My sweet little girl, your personality is blooming more and more every day.  Our relationship is just so incredibly special, and my life is just getting sweeter and sweeter because of you.  I could never have imagined how full you would make my life, my heart, my soul.  Thank you Sweet Pea for being you, for being my little girl.

Love, Mommy

Dear Mom

It’s been 10 years since you left us, and I still think of you every day.  I miss you even more now that Riley is here.  She has your eyes Mom – and sometimes when I look in her eyes as she smiles, I swear I see you looking back at me.  Nothing could be more bittersweet – I am filled with peace knowing you live on through her, but at the same time I’m heartbroken that you’re not here to share our journey.

I’m a mother now, and I wish I could talk to you about it.  I wish I could tell you that I always knew you loved me, but now that I have Riley, I know you loved me a hundred times more than I ever imagined – because that’s how much I love her.

I know you are in a much better place, and I’ll see you again someday – you’ll have a cup of hot tea with milk and a deck of cards waiting for me.  Until then, I’ll still miss you and love you always.

Love, Tammy

7 Months

Dear Riley,

I know I say it every month, but you are 7 months old and I just can’t believe how quickly you are growing up!  It wasn’t that long ago that 7 months seemed so far away, and now here we are.

This month was another huge game changer – you started crawling!  You spent about three weeks getting up on all fours and rocking back and forth.  You started moving your legs, but you wouldn’t move your arms, so you did a lot of falling forward onto your face.  One day you actually fell face first onto one of your toys and gave yourself your first little shiner.  It was tough watching you struggle – Daddy and I tried coaching you as much as possible, but you just would not move those arms no matter what we tried.  Then suddenly one morning, you put one hand in front of the other, and just like that you were crawling!

Now that you can crawl, you just won’t sit still.  There’s always something you want to look at, inspect, and put in your mouth if possible.  You are constantly on the lookout for something new to touch or taste.  And if you spot something you really shouldn’t put in your mouth – like mommy’s shoe – you are off to the races.  Always on the move, now I’ve started to miss the days when as a newborn, you would fall asleep on my chest.  Sometimes I wish that – just for a few hours – I could have you as a newborn again so I could hold you close and savor that brief period of time just a little bit more.

You also started to really babble a few days ago.  You went from simply squealing in delight all the time to stringing long syllables together.  When you see something that excites you: “ga ga ga ba bah…  Da da ba ba da…  Guh… guh… duh duh da da da Da Da DA DA!”  And when you are concentrating on inspecting some new object you say “boof…  boooffff…  boof…”  Our home is suddenly filled with the beautiful sound of your constant babbling.

You and I have more and more fun every day.  One of your favorite things to do is try to grab my feet.  Now that you are crawling that game has become so much more exciting!  You love playing with me and will often crawl to me for some personal interaction – and I just love that so much!  I will sweep you up and lift you in the air and you’ll squeal and grin from ear to ear.  And then we’ll play tickles or peek-a-boo as you bathe me in your giggles.

Sweet Pea, I’m just so in love with the little person you are growing into.  I can’t imagine my life without you.

Love, Mommy


Music I Need To Share – Vance Joy

This song just makes me happy.  Every time it comes on in the car, I find myself smiling and singing along.  And yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m singing the words wrong…

“I love you when you’re singing that song
And I got a lump in my throat
‘Cause you’re gonna sing the words wrong…”

Baby Products 0-6 Months

Now that Riley is 6 months old (holy cow time flies!) I decided to put together a list of the products that I absolutely love and made my life as a new mom a little easier.  I can also name a few that I probably could have lived without…


1.  The Boppy – Or as Kenny calls it “the oversize neck pillow” – a classic must have.  I have two – one for the couch in the living room, and one for Riley’s nursery.  Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding, it really doesn’t matter – they are great for propping baby while feeding.  I have also used it for tummy time, and as a sitting prop.  I still use it to nurse, and I also place it behind Riley when she’s sitting on the floor in the nursery just in case she falls backwards so she won’t hit her head on the floor.

2.  Fisher Price Rainforest Gym – Riley has used this gym every day since she was about a month old.  It’s perfect for tummy time!  Her play gym has seen her through learning to kick with her feet, swat with her hands, and roll from her tummy to her back and vice versa.  We have also taken the detachable toys with us on outings – the toucan rattle is her favorite.

3.  Summer Infant Swaddles – My absolute favorite thing ever.  Priceless – can’t stress this enough!  I’ve heard people say “my baby didn’t like being swaddled, he/she would just bust out of the swaddle…”  Well, Riley did the same thing in the beginning.  No matter how tight I wrapped her with a blanket, she would wiggle free.  The velcro on these swaddles are fool proof, and Riley would sleep so well swaddled all night long – in fact, she STILL gets swaddled for naps, and swaddled with one arm out at night.  Being swaddled is part of her nighttime routine, and she seems instantly ready to sleep once she’s snugly wrapped.  I am going to give these as gifts to anyone having a baby from now on.  Yes Ady, that means you!  ;-)

4.  Fisher Price Rock-n-Play – I read mixed reviews about the rock-n-play before giving birth,  so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend the money on one.  However, my wonderful cousin Dena gifted this to me, and now I can say it’s worth every penny.  Riley has napped in her Rock-n-Play every day since she was born.  The vibration, the slight incline, the snug fit at the sides – all wonderful things for helping her to sleep.  I kept it next to the couch, and for the first three months she practically lived in it.  I wish there was an adult size – I’d sleep in it too!

5.  Fisher Price Cradle-n-Swing – Another item Riley has used every day since she was born.  I put her in it every morning and it gives me time to make and eat breakfast.  I really don’t know what I’m going to do when she outgrows this swing – and that day is coming soon.

6.  BabyBjorn Carrier – I used this carrier to take Riley with me when I did my grocery shopping once I finally gathered the courage to venture out of the house with her as a newborn.  I preferred this carrier because it’s just so simple to use.

7.  Fisher Price Jumperoo – Riley LOVES this thing.  As a matter of fact, she’s in it right now as I type.  I have it right by my desk (my office is quickly turning into her play area).  Putting Riley in her jumper gives me at least a half hour of hands free time to get some work done, which is wonderful.  Not to mention the exercise benefits for her.

8.  4Moms Infant Tub – I never even knew I wanted this tub until it was given to me.  I love it because it’s designed to let dirty water flow out through the side drain while clean water flows in.  I also love that the temperature display tells you if the water is too cold or too hot.  This might seem sort of unnecessary – obviously anyone can easily check the temp of the water by hand – but I was one of those new moms that panicked about pretty much everything, so this gave me one less thing to worry about.

1.  Medela Breast Pump – I recommend this pump for anyone planning to breastfeed.  I never used any other pump, so I really can’t compare or guarantee this is the best pump out there, but it works great for me.  It’s extremely easy to use, and I love the bag – it looks so much like a purse that I’m able to leave it right in plain view in the living room where I normally pump, and no one even notices it’s there.

2.  Zip Up Footie Pajamas – Love these vs. button up footies.  Who wants to unsnap and re-snap a zillion snaps in the middle of the night for a diaper change?  Not me.

3.  Baby Bullet – I’m using this now to make Riley’s food.  I’m sure a regular food processor would do the same job, but I love the storage system – and the ‘cookbook’ provided with the system makes things just that much easier.  I love anything that I don’t have to think too hard about.

1.  Tommee Tippee Diaper Disposal System – I’m on the fence about this one.  This diaper system actually seals each diaper in plastic during disposal.  I like the idea of sealing the diapers to lock in the odors, but the system gets stuck – a lot – especially when the bin starts to get full.  It’s a real pain when you are trying to hold the baby with one hand and turn the dial with the other, and it suddenly gets stuck.  Another drawback is that the refills are expensive.  The only reason I’m still using it is because it really does do a good job of keeping the nursery odor free, and I don’t really want to spend the money on a replacement diaper bin.

2.  The Moby Wrap – I was in love with the idea of “baby-wearing” and was really excited to use the Moby.  It’s a little complicated to use – I had to read and re-read the directions, and giving ANYTHING a ton of thought during the newborn period was just way too difficult for me.  I ended up using it only 3 times.  I live in Miami, and even in December, it was way too hot.  I’d start dripping sweat after just a few minutes of wearing Riley – and this was indoors.  This is probably a great wrap up anywhere else, but here in South Florida I found it impractical.

3.  The Bumbo – I will admit, I probably bought this too late – I didn’t get it until Riley was over three months old.  And I also can’t say for certain that it wasn’t beneficial to her.  She did start sitting up a little early (just before turning five months old) and maybe the Bumbo had something to do with that, or maybe it didn’t.  But honestly, Riley only used the Bumbo about a dozen times.

I instinctively feel like it’s a waste to spend money on any product that your baby will only use temporarily.  But that’s what babies do – they keep growing and changing, and they grow out of stuff so fast.  So I guess I value products much more based on how long and how often Riley gets to use them, and how much they help her development – as well as how much easier it makes my life by either giving me some hands-free time, or by taking the guesswork away.

That’s just my two-cents!