Holy smokes! You're half a year old already!
You are a big talker, just like your Dad. Your language right now consists of high-pitch squeals, fake coughing, fart noises with your lips (and butt cheeks occasionally), and "mmm" sounds -- signaling that "mom" might be your first word. I'm not getting any "d" sounds yet, despite consistent efforts, so it looks like your Mom is going to take the first-word bragging rights.
Your core strength is starting to show. Behind that milk gut you have some abdominal muscles and a strong back. You're sitting up a lot more and have good balance.
You still like to stand assisted, and we're closing in on that trick where you stand on my hand and balance in the air. It's going to be the ultimate party trick. Because you're sitting up so well, you're also doing a great job sitting in high chairs at restaurants. We've been able to go out to eat as a family about once a week and you have yet to throw a fit, knock on wood. Your Mom and I really appreciate your good behavior and allowing us to function in the outside world.
We have been sitting at the dining table as a family for evening meals as well. That's important to me and your Mom. You showed an interest right away in what we had on our plates -- making chewing motions from your high chair -- and that indicated it was time to get you on some serious solids. So far you've tried carrot sticks, green beans, bananas, broccoli and cucumber, and today you ate a little ground pork! My daughter is no vegetarian. We're not supposed to laugh or react, but it's really funny to watch you eat. You can't get a grip on bananas and they fly out of your pinchers. You love green beans and try to stuff them in your mouth. You've brought a new form of entertainment to the table.
Eating solid foods is going to get easier because you're breaking in teeth! Yes, we see a little first tooth breaking through and think we'll really see it in the next few days. You've been a little whiny about the associated discomfort, but hang in there. You've got a mouthful of teeth ahead. If you think this is bad, wait until your wisdom teeth get pulled. I'll help you with that episode in about 20 years, too.
In addition to your development, we've had an adventurous past month. Most importantly, you have a new cousin! Harrison Henry Ballew on March 21, and we had a chance to meet him a few days later on our way to a cabin weekend in Mt. Baker. His little size reminded us of how big you are now. I'm not sure how you two will get along. What's going to happen in the near term is that we're going to put you together for photos against your will (see below). Then when you get to school age, you'll likely be in the same grade and get along fine. Then when you become teenagers you'll have some distance because you'll have different tastes and generally think each other is weird. Aunt Nina and I will still make you talk to each other at family events like Christmas and such. Then you won't talk much in your early 20s because you'll be busy carving your own paths in the world. By your late 20s you'll have become your own persons and find value in your relationship as cousins and appreciate what you have in common in your generation. You'll spend time talking about how strange your parents have become, which will increasingly become true. You'll always have that to make conversation about.
That was a bit of a tangent. So anyway, we met Harrison (please avoid variations of "hairy' names for your Aunt Nina and Uncle Jeff) and had another visit on the backside of an amazing trip to Mt. Baker. We rented a cabin for my birthday (Now age 33; it's my Jesus year -- Jesus did a lot of amazing things at age 33, no joke. The pressure is on.) and invited your Uncle Scott, Mike, Jaclyn and the Gepharts to join us. The guys skied one day and you and the ladies came up to Mt. Baker to play in the snow. These weekends continue to encourage your Mom and me to consider buying a cabin for the family. I'll be curious if by the time you can read and comprehend this letter we have one. Maybe you're reading this at the cabin... weird.
With the days getting longer and warmer, you're spending more time outside, and you love it! You have my sunburn-prone complexion, so take extra care to make sure you've got a rashguard suit and hat to protect you, or some sort of shade.
We'll have more outside adventures soon because we got a new backpack for you (and me). It's called the Osprey Poco and it's going to replace the stroller in a lot of ways. You get to see more of the world from my height. That's going to be our main ride on hikes, outings and vacations to come. We went out to watch the Daffodil Parade in downtown Tacoma this weekend, and you loved being perched high like that to watch the floats, high school bands and Daffodil princesses. Looking across the spectrum of participants, I'd like to see you as one of those talented percussionists in the school band, but you can be a princess if you want. I just think the waving would get boring after the first block.
You also hit the water this past month: We took you swimming for the first time at the Sumner YMCA (because it has the best pool and facilities). You absolutely love the water and pretend the crawl stroke and kick when we float you on your tummy. We've dunked you a few times, but it makes me a little nervous. We're supposed to blow in your face to make you gasp before we quickly dunk you, but every time we blow in your face you smile and therefore take in a little gulp of water when you go under. You somehow blow the water out of your nostrils, which is funny to watch. I watched a video on YouTube the other day about these six-month-olds who learn how to float in a pool on their backs in case they fall in. We don't have a house with a pool where that's so important, but we're going to start proper swim lessons in the next month. Knowing how to swim is really important. We live around a lot of water, and the better you can swim the more you'll get to enjoy it.
With all of these activities, I have to say I still enjoy our quiet times at home the most. All the boring stuff is somehow the easiest type of fun. Even when I change your diaper, you've been more entertaining and engaged. You grab your feet and clap them to amuse yourself. I pretend to bite your collar and tummy like a monster, and you giggle really hard and grab at my glasses and face because you're ticklish.
Before you go to bed, I give you a bottle and sometimes we binge watch "Broad City," which is a show about two young women in New York City. The show is super brash and raunchy, but I think it's brilliant and laugh out loud. Sometimes my belly laugh scares you and you cry, but most of the time you deal with it. I wouldn't call the characters in the show role models, but they represent a sort of feminism that is complex, independent and unapologetic -- all through smart humor. I wouldn't mind if you became of woman with a full house of those traits. And if you're none of those things, I'll love you anyway.
Thanks for a great first 6 months. I'll never forget them.