You are playing at my feet as I type this letter.
You're working on the baby version of a Rubik's Cube, sliding shapes up and down elastic bands. Your Mom says you're really smart the way you use the toy, but I figured it out REALLY quickly all by myself. Just saying.
We left our last letter off in Maui. It seems like so long ago! We had a wonderful time. We ate so much Hawaiian shaved ice. You ate the virgin version, which has no syrup -- so basically just ice. It still came in a fancy cone. You weren't quite as happy on the flight back home compared to your angel-like demeanor on the way to Maui. I totally get it. The end of a vacation can be a total downer, but that doesn't mean you should cry about it or make your old man pace the plane aisles with you.
We spent plenty of time on Washington's rocky beaches when we got back home. With the weather improving, we've been walking Owen's Beach at Point Defiance on the weekends and during low tides. Greta flies around us off leash while we take in the views and smell the sea. This will be a common summer scenario.
We also took to the mountains a couple weeks ago in a memorable Dad Fail. I've been eager to go for a bigger hike with the entire family and found a hike outside Mt. Rainier National Park around Mount Beljica. According to the WTA, the mountain's name is attributed to two families who climbed to the summit in 1897. "The proud fathers of the Mesler and LaWall families pulled the first initial of each of their combined children and created the name: Burgon, Elizabeth, Lucy, Jessie, Isabel, Clara, and Alex." Sounds like the making of a great family hike, right?
Wrong. I knew I made a bad mistake about four miles into the drive on forest service roads... because we had another four miles of bumpy driving ahead to reach the trailhead. You'll look this hike up later and roll your eyes.
Shortly after we got on the trail, we encountered many downed trees and had to pass you in the backpack over and under them. We also crossed iced-over avalanche debris. I improvised with some broken tree branches as ice axes so we wouldn't slide 50 feet if I slipped. Your Mom wasn't happy about that part. The hike started too high in elevation, so we hit the snowline at Lake Catherine and lost the trail. We still had fun in the snow and took some pictures.
Greta ran around playfully in the snowfield during our photoshoot. She miscalculated where the snowbank stopped and accidentally fell into the thawing lake. That was a problem. Greta was OK, but it gave us a scare and was a final signal that we should head back across the avalanche debris, over and under downed trees, and to our car at the trailhead to drive the bumpy forest service road back home.
On the home front, you're eating a lot more at the dining table and join the conversation with new noises to express your delight when you try new foods. While we started you on vegetables like we're supposed to, you've taken more to berries and carbs. No surprise there. That's the good stuff in life! Your Mom continues to teach you sign language to help you communicate. You're combining "eat," "please" and "more" all at once, so naturally you're signing "Eat more, please." You sign frantically when we serve pasta. Such a smart, quarter-Italian girl.
While you're not too picky about foods, you've gotten to be more sensitive about who's around. You always produced alligator tears when you see Uncle Sergio. I think you're confused about someone who looks like me, but shorter, louder and smells more like ice cream cones. You're fairly comfortable around your Aunt Nina. Maybe that's a girl thing or she just smells like another baby.
You tend to get more comfortable with people after you've had a chance to mad-dog them for at least 10 minutes. Once you feel you've won a staring contest, you turn into your more giggly self. You might be an alpha.
You're not crawling yet, but you grab at every thing in sight. You get most excited when Greta is in reach. When you see her you squeal so loud you could make orca pods change course. We're trying to teach you "gentle touch" to pet Greta instead of grab a handful of her fur, but she's been patient with you. She knows her role in teaching you, and that the payoff is years of frisbee play ahead. In fact, she's started to offer you the frisbee when we play. You gladly wave it around like a victory flag.
The only thing troubling you lately are your new teeth. You've got two middle bottom teeth that popped up this month like toasted bread. Your middle top teeth are starting to show as well. You're doing your best cutting those teeth in, grinding your gums together. You don't complain much during the day, but the incoming teeth have affected your sleep. It's nearing midnight and I hear you waking up now. (It's now a few hours later than when I first started writing. I took a break to Netflix binge with your Mom.)
That's the hard part about growing up. Sometimes it hurts a little to get to that next stage. I can't always help you with the pain or the process, but I'll always be there to comfort you. Most of the time, that's all you need.