Monday, March 30, 2015

(Shortened Version) I Never Knew How White I Was Until I Had A Black Child

I Never Knew How White I Was Until I Had a Black Child.

I can't sleep.  Hartly, our 4 year old,  came into our room sobbing.  He'd had a nightmare. There was lots of tossing and turning but, about an hour later, he is finally asleep.

I, however, am not.

These days when I wake up in the middle of the night I am reduced to a ball of fear and worry.  The majority of this fear and worry reside around my youngest, Tayo. 

I am white.  Frank, my husband, is white (he is actually first generation Cuban but when people look at him, they see white). Hartly, my oldest, is white. Tayo, my baby, is black. And he is not just a little black. Nope. Tayo is a rich and beautiful and unmistakable dark black. And in 2015 his color is still not a safe color to be.

I never knew how white I was until I had a black childI grew up with 

Monday, March 16, 2015

I Never Knew How White I Was Until I Had a Black Child

I Never Knew How White I Was Until I Had a Black Child.

I can't sleep.  Hartly, our 4 year old,  came into our room sobbing.  He'd had a nightmare. He is usually able to go right back to bed and tonight he couldn't. There was lots of tossing and turning but, about an hour later, he is finally asleep.

I, however, am not.

These days when I wake up in the middle of the night I am reduced to a ball of fear and worry.  The majority of this fear and worry reside around my youngest, Tayo. I am white.  Frank is white (he is actually first generation Cuban but when people look at him, they see white). Hartly, my oldest, is white. Tayo, my baby, is black. And he is not just a little black. Nope. Tayo is a rich and beautiful and unmistakable dark black. And in 2015 his color is still not a safe color to be.

I read a lot.  We took seminars at our adoption agency. I am on many blogs and webpages for transracial adoption and for raising a child of color. It is a bleak world.

I never knew how white I was until I had a black childI grew up with

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Sleep while Traveling with Children

Traveling with children:

Our children, are currently 4 years old and 18 months old.  Hartly has been to about 20 different places and Tayo maybe about 8 different places.  My children, and we, are no strangers to travel.  We are often asked what we do when we travel with them and the most frequent asked question is how we get them to sleep when we travel. All children and families are different. These are just a few things that we have found that help immensely with our children (and us) to get our sleep while sleeping away from home. 

- Expectations
- Routine
- Nap(s) 
- Food
- Activity
- Baby Wearing
- GoCrib 
- Baby Monitor
- Bathroom/Closet/Dark
- Static

This one is huge.  When Frank and I got married everyone told us, 'say goodbye to sleeping', 'say goodbye to traveling' among other things.  We smiled because we knew that you can have children AND sleep.  You can have children AND travel.  Will it be the same? No.  Can you do it? Absolutely. 

Sleep when traveling will be different than at home. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sad to see 3 go...

I sit here, barely able to write because the tears filling my eyes are blurring my vision. If I am this much of a wreck over you turning four, I fear how I will be on the night before you turn 10… or 13… or 16!!! Do not even get me started on the idea of you leaving home. 

I understand that my job as a Mom, my whole purpose, is the honor and privledge of providing a safe and loving environment in which you are able to thrive and grow so that you may reach adulthood and be able to be physically, mentally, and emotionally independent.  I get that.  I also understand that the alternative, your inability to do so due to illness or mental incapacity or death, is unthinkable.  The plan is working.  Things are trotting along as they are supposed to.

So, why am I so sad.  I think it is nastalgia and fear that have invaded my mind and soul this evening, the last night of you being three years old.

These past twelve months have been sunshine and delight. Oh yes, we have had our moments and there have been days where bedtime could not arrive soon enough, to be sure.  But mostly you and I spent these past twelve months laughing, learning and loving. 

Let me share a few snapshots from my journal into these past twelve months…

"But Mom, do they have vegan water?"

Hart: So, are they grown ups now?  
Me: I don't think so.  My guess is they are teenagers. 
Hart: But Mom, do they drink coffee?

Worse possible thing that could happen to Hart is not letting him be with me when I give Tayo his bottles.  It is his favorite thing to cuddle with his baby and rub his tummy as he drinks his bottle.

Hart: Look Mom, I'm a D-Lion
Me: You mean a Sea-Lion
Hart: No. I want to be a D or an F Lion, not a C-Lion.

I asked Hartly what to put in my journal about him on July 7, 2013 and he said, "I did something good. I snuggled with Tayo. He was so sad because he didn't like the loud noise. I love Tayo. I want to say something else.  I love my rocking horse."

Hartly: So Mom, if a lady has twins, does that mean there are 2 sperms and 1 egg or 1 sperm and 2 eggs?

Hart: If I am allowed 3 books in my room and 1 book in Tayo's, do I get 4 altogether? 

Hart: What is that? Is that a dog barking?
Me; Yup
Hart: Why is he there?
Me: He lives there
Hart: Why do we not have a dog?
Me: What do you think?
Hart: Because we are vegan?

Me: Do you love me Stink Bug?
Hart: I do, I really, really do Mommy.
Me: How much?
Hart: I love you from the top of the sky, all the way through my penis and out my butt to Saturn. That's a lot Mom
Me: Yup.  That is a lot.

Hart: My underwear is upside over (instead of inside out - says often for different things)

Hart: Is Mother Nature God?

"please can you not"

"no please" (instead of no thank you)

Another common phrase, "I need to be near you Mommy… all the time"

"I want to stay my blocks out… I want to stay my magna tiles out… Can I stay this shirt on..."

If Hartly sees Tayo approaching hart;y's train tracks or buildings he often says, "Oh no! Here comes trouble"

Hartly dropped a cup tonight and said, "shit".  I looked at him and I said, "What? Did you just make up that word?" He said, "Shit Mom. You know, shit. That word you always say right after you drop something"  Oops!

Hartly cried at airport as we left Hawaii, "I don't want to leave Hawaii.  I love it here. Why do we have to go? I feel so sad inside."

Among the chaos, jealousy, push/pull… Taye in my arms drinking a bottle and Hartly walks quietly over and leans close to Tayo's face and whispers, "May you have joy forever", kisses him on the forehead and then says, "I love you Bitty" and walks away.

This AM Bitty was playing in Hartly's room and swinging a toy around and it wacked Hartly on his head. Hartly started sobbing and grabbing his head in pain but through the tears said, "I still love you Tayo"

Hartly informed me tonight that he is always going to be my shadow forever and that we will stay together stuck like glue.

Hartly told me that he's want to hold my hand even when he's Daddy's age. How is it he is such my big boy and such my baby all at once.

"once upon a time there was a baby and it loved to play in the snow but while it was playing in the snow, it went under the snow and pooped."

Hart: Mommy, do you want to meet my children when I'm older?
Me: Yes. Of course.
Hart: Mommy, they are going to be so cute. They are going to be blue.
Me: Blue!? Have you ever seen blue kids?
Hart: No. But maybe my sperm will make blue kids Mom.


"and stuff like that…"

"You see what I'm trying to say Mom…"

"Mom, I love Tayo so much, I can't even find the words to tell you how much I love him"

"Mom, you are beautiful on the inside and out"

Today you got overwhelmed with quiet sadness… "Why Mommy? Why are the flowers dying? It makes me feel so sad inside"


There is sooo much more. These are just a handful of snapshots into everything that makes you, you.  And you are so deliciously yummy that it often makes my head spin and my heart dizzy. 

You are so ridiculous and so silly and you love making people laugh.  You have strange voices that you make and you have crazy languages that you've invented and recently you have taken to doing this wacky, what you refer to as, thumb dance.  

Although you can be competitive or rough with your baby brother you are also fiercely protective and in love with him.  Your favorite thing is to make him laugh and you almost always want him near you. You have told me, a number of times, that you love Tayo more than you love anyone else in this world. You have declared that you both are moving to Hawaii when you grow up and will be living in adjoined houses. Your questions and insights often have my jaw dropping and your tenderness, sensitivity and sweetness bring me to tears. We can not read Velveteen rabbit or Horton hears a who because they just make you so sad. " Why Mommy, why would they throw his rabbit away!? I just don't understand why someone would do that"… 

Recently your energy level has exploded and your emotions are wild and running rampant. For the first 3 years and 11 months of your life you had, maybe, 3 meltdowns.  This past month alone, you have had, probably, 5. I have read that 4 year old boys double their amount of testosterone. Things may be bumpy for awhile.  All the literature seems to indicate that I should not worry too much.  My sweet little boy will return after a few months of crazy mood swings and crazy overloads of hormones. But even in the midst of them, I know you are there.  I see you struggling and being weighed down with the yuckiness and feeling it all so much.  I empathize and feel so much compassion for you my sweet boy. It is not easy being a kid.  It is not easy being a boy.  I am here for you, whether you are acting like a grump or acting like an angel. I am not going anywhere.

...As I put you to bed tonight, your last night as a three year old, you held me close, my face in your hands, inches away from your own face.  You whispered, "I love you so much Mommy" and then you proceeded to press your forehead against mine, then your nose against mine… saying meanwhile, "head to head, nose to nose, mouth to mouth (here you gave me a sweet kiss), chin to chin, neck to neck…"  Then you sighed.  "I just wanted to see if we matched up"  "Do we?" I asked.  "Yes Mommy.  We do." Then moments later you were asleep, still cradling my face, breathing lightly on my cheek. Ah me. How I cherish you my darling 3 year old.  And as much as I am sad to say goodbye to 3, I know in my heart that I will cherish you just as much tomorrow morning as my newly 4 year old!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Feeling the Love (Valentine's)

This year I had Hartly write his own Valentine's to his dad and his little brother.  Hartly and I sat down to chat and I asked him some open ended questions and I compiled his answers.  I then printed them out and he glued them onto a piece of paper that he decorated for Tayo and Frank.

The result was wonderful.  Hartly was so pleased with himself.  He felt very proud and was super excited to hand his Valentine's Day cards out to his brother and his dad.  We started with Frank.  I must say, the reaction was beautiful.  I do not think that Frank was prepared for such sweetness.  It brought me to tears.

Frank reading it out loud

Hartly's Valentine for Daddy

(For those of you whose eyesight is not super human, this is what it says):

Valentine's Day 2014
To: Papi LOVE: Hartly (3 1/2)

"I love when Daddy tells me stories at anytime. I love when Daddy does with me football. I like playing with him how the Redskins play. And I like gently pulling him down or taking the ball from him. I also like to play squirty in the bathtub with Daddy.  I like going to Papi's office and to work with him.  And I LOVED going to a house with toys with Daddy because there was a train toy with people that I zoomed all around the house.  I love looking for the monkey with Daddy at Trader Joe's.

I love Daddy as much as a carrot. And I love Daddy as much as I love honey. And I love Daddy as much as I love moons.  I love Daddy as much as I love bagels. I love him 30 degrees.

I am going to love Daddy forever… (pause) even after he dies I will always love him forever.

Happy Valentine's Day Papi!!"

Frank was bursting with love

Needless to say, Frank loved it!

Hartly and I did the same sort of thing when writing Tayo's Valentine.  I would like to note, toward the end of Tayo's Valentine, Hart was becoming fidgety and asking if he could go play.  But he still managed to produce a sweet piece of writing and lovely drawing for his brother.  

Tayo was not as blown away as Frank.  He enjoyed it but chose to climb up on a table and play with cars while listening…

Hartly's Valentine for his baby brother

Valentine's Day 2014
To: Tayo LOVE: Hartly

" I love roughhousing and doing steamroller with Tayo. I love slurberting and touching his tummy. I love to make Tayo laugh. It makes me laugh when we make each other laugh. When I laugh, Bitty laughs. I love to kiss and cuddle him wile he's drinking his bottle. I like being a big brother. I miss him when he's napping because I like to do jokes with him. My favorite thing is laughing with him. He's
very silly. SOmetimes Bitty fakes me out.  It's kinda funny, but kinda not. 

I love my Bitty forever. I love him more than zerberts. I love him all the way to Hawaii (and that is far Mom!!)"

Below is them opening my Valentine presents to them (my little super heroes)!

opening up their Valentine's Gifts from Mommy

checking out his Valentine gift in mirror

Mommy's little Valentine super hero

I also wrote some Valentine's to my 3 favorite boys (from littlest, to biggest):


I love when I go in your room in the morning and you reach for me. I love how you smack your lips together to sign you are hungry. I love that you love baby dolls. I love how you say, “bay-bee”. I love that you try to feed your brother all your food. I love watching you pick up and drink water all by yourself from a regular cup. I love your smile. I love that you understand how to joke and tease. I love that you are silly. I love when you reach for me and I go to pick you up and you lift your legs up and wrap them around one of my legs tight. I love how you fit perfectly on my hip and in my arms. I love how curious and adventurous you are. I love how independent you are. I love that you always come back into my arms after being away. I love how you hold onto my pant leg as I walk around the kitchen trying to be productive. I love how you use a napkin to wipe your face even though nobody taught you. I love your little voice and how you try to say so many words. I love how your little head snuggles into the crook in my neck when you are tired. I love how social you are and how you will go to complete strangers and let them cuddle you for a moment before demanding to be back in my arms. I love that you demand to be back in my arms. I love that you tolerate your big brother rolling around with you, and you often even enjoy it. I love that you don't hold a grudge when your big brother is jealous or too rough with you. I love playing ball with you. I love splashing in the tub with you. I love watching you climb up everything and watching you carefully climb down. I love watching you follow your big brother everywhere. I love watching you try and play all of the games that he plays. I love that you like to spin and that you like to dance. I love that you love music. I love how when you see the big stuffed doggy or lion you throw yourself onto them and laugh in delight. I love that you love to snuggle. I love how you sign please. I love that when you are tired or upset, I am who you want to be with. I love that even though you didn't come out of my body, I still see myself in you. I love that you made me a Mommy a second time. I love your soft skin. I love how you absentmindedly play with my necklace when I am holding you. I love when you make funny zerbert sounds with your mouth. I love when you do peekaboo with a blanket over your head. I love when you are two steps away from me and you turn your back to me completely and take two steps backward without looking and then just plop down, sometimes making it into my lap and sometimes not. I love that you do this same maneuver with Daddy and with Hartly. I love that when it is time for bed, you lean out of my arms toward Bear-Bear and your crib. I love checking in on you and watching you sleep before I go to bed every night.

I love you to forever and beyond and then more. I love you from here to there and everywhere. I love you always and always and infinity. I love you more than every breath I have ever taken or will ever take. I love you beyond time and space. You are my world.

First time I held my 2nd born
My Bitty, My love
We fit perfectly from the start
My sweet boy
My sleeping baby, feels so perfect in my arms
sharing with mama

And to my Bigger one:


I love hearing your little feet running down the hallway toward my bedroom when you first wake up in the morning. I love when you tell me that you love me randomly during the day for no apparent reason. I love when you climb into my lap and lean your whole body against me. I love when you ask me questions and when we try and discover the answers together. I love your giggle. I love when I catch you whispering or talking kindly to your brother when you do not know that I am watching you. I love when you and dad play chess together and you always tell him, “but Dad, don't get my queen.” I love the ways that you remind me of me – your auburn hair, how you like all your food separate, how you do not like the cold, how you love roughhousing and cuddling... I love the ways that you are not like me – how you are interested in time and space, how you have a great number sense, how you are interested in building and putting things together. I love that we get to spend almost all day, every day together. I love watching you grow. I love seeing you problem solve. I love that you have your own ideas and an amazing imagination. I love listening to you tell stories. I love talking about faeries with you. I love that we always tell each other the truth, no matter what. I love your jokes, even when I don't understand them, they make me laugh. I love that you forgive me when I mess up or hurt your feelings. I love that we talk about everything. I love watching you play. I love seeing you with friends and cousins. I love that you love so many people. I love that you are kind. I love you even when you make mistakes or bad choices. I love you even when you are grumpy or not nice. I love that we never stay mad at each other long. I love your hugs. I love when you hold my hand. I love that you love to collect rocks everywhere we go. I love reading to you and I love that you love books. I love how you eat an apple until there is almost nothing left of it. I love that it makes you sad if animals or people are hurt or sad. I love that you are sensitive. I love that you try new things. I love your big brown eyes. I love watching you swim and play in the water. I love that you made me a Mommy. I love that I will love you forever, even when we are in different worlds and lands. I love lying in bed next to you as I listen to you fall asleep. I love checking in on you and seeing your sleeping face before I go to bed every night. I love who you are. I love everything about you.

I love you more than all the raindrops and water droplets in the whole wide world. I love you more than this lifetime and last lifetime and next lifetime. I love you bigger than the biggest planet and further than a rocketship could blast off to. I love you more than you love trains. I love you more than any food or any thing. I love you more than sparkles and faeries and the sun. I love you 80 million degrees and 42 billion zillion pounds. I love you 8980. I love you every yesterday, every today, and every tomorrow. Forever and ever and ever always. I just really, really love you.

Holding my first born minutes after birth
My little love
cuddle bug
My beach baby
Birthday Boy
My love

And, for my Biggest:
Photo taken on our anniversary (August 16th)
Valentine's Day 2014

To: MyLLosa
Love: Your Noodle

I love that in the middle of the night I will often wake up and you are snuggled into me. I love how when you hear the babies cry in the middle of the night, you almost always go to them and tell me to go back to sleep. I love hearing you, from the other room, shushing, comforting, and loving our children. I love when we all pile into bed together in the morning, recalling dreams, snuggling and discussing the day to come. I love that you periodically and randomly kiss me. I love that I get to share in the joy of so many little moments with our children throughout the day with you. I love that you make me laugh... a lot. I love how playful you are. I love how creative you are. I love that you hold my hand still. I love that you say thank you to me for little things I do that don't go unnoticed. I love pillow talk. I love that you are fiercely protective of me. I love that I know you will love me forever. I love that when we fight, our fights don't last long. I love that when we fight, I always know, no matter how bad it is, we will be okay. I love that you cook for us a lot, even when you are busy or don't really feel like it. I love that you open up to me. I love that I trust you completely. I love that you take baths with our boys. I love that I know you love our children unconditionally. I love that you trust my parenting ideas, even when they often don't, at first, appear to make sense. I love that you always feed Bitty at dinner because you know I can't eat and feed him at the same time. I love that you think of things that would never occur to me. I love that you come to me when you have issues at work or problems you are trying to solve. I love that you think I am the best Mommy. I love that you go to all my family functions with me without ever complaining. I love that you give me Reiki. I love that you still can make me blush with just a look. I love that you are my forever. I love that you will be by my side long after our babies have grown and no longer are sleeping under the same roof. I love that you believe. I love that you are so good with babies – not just ours, but all babies. I love that you are so smart. I love that you care so deeply when things are not fair. I love that you are open to continuing to grow and learn and discover. I love that you are stable but also ever changing and growing. I love that thoughts of your father bring you to tears and you don't hide them from me. I love that you are silly. I love that you are unique. I love that you look at our children in their eyes when you talk to them. I love that you would never hurt our children. I love that even though it drives me nuts, I also admire how much you research. I love that you are passionate about the things in your life that are important to you. I love that you are having a glow-in-the-dark dance party downstairs right now with our boys as I write this. I love that when I wanted to become vegan, you also became vegan. I love that you value how sensitive I am. I love that you held my hand on our first date. I love that you texted your marriage proposal to me. I love that you have four dimples when you are really happy. I love that you are often in awe of our children. I love that pretty much almost everything you do is for me and for our family. I love overhearing you speaking spanish to our children. I love that you sometimes do things that you don't want to because you know it is what I want. I love that you listen to me. I love that you work so hard so that we can do all the things we want to. I love that you drive at night because you know that I don't feel as comfortable driving in the dark. I love that you often watch (babysit) our boys so I can have some time to myself to do whatever I need to do. I love that you really, really want to be a good Daddy. I love that you really, really are a good Daddy. I love that you are very handsome. I love that both of our boys have your eye color. I love that you hug and kiss our boys all the time and always say I love you to them. I love watching them look at you with love. I love that when you mess up or make a mistake with our children, you go to them and apologize. I love that you spend so much time with us. I love that you make so many sacrifices for us but they don't feel like sacrifices to you because it is for us. I love that I am completely me with you. I love that you are more than my best friend. You are MyLLosa.

I love you more than a hot bath. I love you more than the sound of a summer thunderstorm. I love you more than the feel of the sun on my face on a crisp Fall day. I love you more than the feel of waves swaying me gently along in the ocean. I love you more than the feel of a puppy asleep in my arms. I love you more than a glass of cool water on a hot summer day after a run. I love you more than I love the adrenaline rush from a fighting class. I love you more than the feel of soft warm sand between my toes. I love you more than a Madonna song from the '80s. I love you more than you will ever be able to realize or comprehend. I love you, at least, as much as you love me. I have loved you forever and I will love you for always.

Our very first date (and already smitten with each other)

The look in my eyes says it all

My rock, my stability, my comfort… My head fits perfectly on his shoulder

Yup.  He proposed via text

The day after we were engaged

Our wedding day
I made the right choice
Laughter and joy

date night

Still my love.  Always.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

To Tayo, on your first birthday

It is January 3rd, 2014.  All day long I have been looking at you with wonder, thinking, "where has the time gone?  How is it possible that tomorrow you turn One year old!?".  You.  My Bitty baby.  Child of my heart.  Let your Mommy take a handful (or more) of moments to reflect on the past twelve months...

Your due date changed a number of times but you were expected around January 22nd.  Papi and I debated about when to get tickets to Louisiana.  It was a fine balance between getting there before you were born but not too early.  We had settled on January 10th as being a good date.  Hartly and I had been adding stickers to our countdown-till-Baby-Tayo-arrived calendar. 

Our excitement and anticipation was soon to be bubbling over as the day grew closer.

January 3rd I received a text message late in the evening - your Birth Mom said she thought you would be arriving soon but she was not sure yet... I had been watching tv downstairs and your dad was upstairs working.  I think I simultaneously squealed and lost my breath at the same time.  I also believe that I reacted like a dog, chasing my own tail as I stood and circled myself trying to figure out what to do first.  I tripped on the office stairs and collapsed, half laughing half crying as I tried to call out to your Papi that it appeared as though you were getting ready to make your journey.  Papi madly looked at tickets as I threw clothes in a bag.  There were no flights out that night and we were not even sure if you were really on your way so we left the phone on loud and tried to get sleep (truth be told, very little was had). 

The next morning I got a text that declared your Birth Mama was on the way to the hospital.  We woke up your brother 

and we all hopped in a cab. Papi bought airplane tickets on our way to the airport.  It was the longest flight of my life.  

When we landed, the boys stayed back to get our rental car.  I flew out of the airport and into a taxi.  We found out upon landing that you had already arrived (little stinker came fast).  I was beyond ready to have you in my arms. 

When I walked into your hospital bedroom, your were wrapped up snug as a bug in your little hospital crib.  My eyes met your Birth Mother's and she nodded for me to go ahead and pick you up.  

Regardless of the situation, you need to know that she loved you all through her pregnancy, she loved you after you were born, and she will love you until her last breath. This I know to be true. 

I leaned over and immediately my eyes filled with tears.  You were just so tiny and just so perfect. I held you to my chest and I whispered that I loved you and that I had been waiting for you... 

When Papi and Hartly arrived a little later you were in my arms in a chair by the window.  Hartly was in Papi's arms half asleep when Papi asked him if he wanted to meet his baby brother...  Hartly rubbed his eyes and he turned around, straining to catch a glimpse of you.  The smile that lit up his face as his eyes came to rest on you is one that I will never forget and is nearly impossible to describe. He wiggled free of Papi's arms and approached me without taking his eyes off of you.  Moments later, you were in his arms.  Never before and I doubt ever again, will I witness a happier two year old.

We spent two weeks in Louisiana waiting on papers to be signed and documents completed.  Grandpa and Grandma Jinky visited and fell in love instantly too. I'm convinced that it is impossible to meet you and not fall instantly in love.  I suppose I am biased though.

A year ago.  This all happened a year ago.  Unbelievable.

Tayo Paco
Tayo Paco
You're such an Itty Bitty

That is a song that Hartly and I often sing to you.  And while you will always be my Itty Bitty, you certainly have grown since I first held you in my arms.

In a year, what have I learned about my Itty Bitty:

I have learned that you are a snuggler.  You love hugs and cuddles and affection. You love being worn and you love being held.  You love kisses and slurberts and squeezes.  You are affection and loving.  You mostly crave this love from your Mommy and Papi and brother but you are happy to give love to mostly anyone who looks like they would enjoy a cuddle from an adorable baby.  You have leaned out of my arms to go into stranger's arms at the grocery store, in the metro, in church, on an airplane and anywhere else you feel as though someone is looking in your direction.  You don't stay too long in their arms before reaching back for me but you have no stranger danger at all.  You are social and very loving. You love people and they love you.

I have learned that you are ticklish just about everywhere.  You squeal and giggle when I touch your toes, tummy, thighs, armpits, and neck. It is a jolly and loud squeal with loads of giggles and squirming to follow. 

I have learned that you are incredibly physically strong and capable.  From day 1 your neck never wobbled.  You rolled over, both ways, by week 9. At 5 months you were crawling and by 7 months you could pull yourself up to standing. It took you just 2 months to complete ISR swim classes.  You were able to fall in a pool, roll over and float, all unassisted by 10 months. And you took your first bunch of solo steps before you were even 11 months old. And today, today you have mastered walking.  You can walk all the way across the room and turn around and walk back, full of confidence.  You can bend over, mid walking, to pick up an object without falling over.  You are able to push yourself up to standing, with no assistance and you can carry things around the room as you walk.  

I have learned that you are silly and have a great sense of humor.  You will often hold objects out to Hartly and when he reaches for them, you pull your arm away and giggle in delight.  You make funny noises with your mouth to entertain us and you love to play peekaboo.  

I have learned that you are very bright and a quick learner.  As you lay asleep on this the eve of your first birthday, you already can sign 20 words:
all done
blow kisses
(your made up sign for) Tayo

You also have a handful of spoken words:
Taye Taye
Hi (occasionally, as clear as day)

I have learned that, so far, you are not very patient.  It is not easy for you to wait and you scream (really loudly) when bites of food are not fed fast enough to you. We liken it to a pterodactyl. You do not like the carseat and you are not keen on the potty... yet.  You knock food out of our hands (and all over the room) if it is not to your liking.  You also pinch when Mommy or Papi is close by and not paying enough attention to you and you love to knock over your brother's towers and destroy his train tracks.

You are a few hours shy of one year and you have already completely and totally invaded our hearts and souls and you live inside of us and are a part of every breath we take. Life without you in it and in my arms is unimaginable.  I've loved you since before you were born and I will love you until my last breath.  Happy Birthday my Itty Bitty Tayo Paco (and Papi's Taco).  We love, love, love you!