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dear little prince,

happy ELEVEN months. in a mere four weeks, you will be smashing your birthday cake. and that makes your mama feel all the feelings. but you haven't officially hit the one year mark just yet, so until then, let's just focus on making the most of the final days of baby. it's a deal.

the other day, after you woke from your nap, i swear it was if i collected an entirely different person from your bed. you looked, well, older. bigger. more like a little boy than a little baby. your shoulders seemed broader. your torso, longer and leaner. your demeanor had shifted too. i can't put my finger on it, but there was a noticeable change. as if you went down for your nap as a baby and woke up, a legit little man. you sat taller on my lap. you engaged with me as though we had known each other for years. at one point, you put your arm around my shoulder and leaned your cheek against mine, almost as if you were reassuring me that you are indeed, growing up and that you've got it down and it will all be okay. and i'm not gonna lie, it was a bit too much for me to handle. this growing-up business is bittersweet stuff. but i am beyond thrilled about the sweetness of it. because that sweet stuff sure is good.

you wear your heart on your sleeve. you show affection by giving the biggest bearhugs. sometimes, you will launch yourself at your sister and knock her over with the sweetest hug tackle. and your moods are totally obvious. when you are happy and content, your head is bopping around and you are tossing around the biggest smiles. full-faced, squinted-eye grins. and when you are annoyed with something (or someone), you yell or growl and let us know. when you are tired, you spread your blanket on the ground and ever-so-dramatically plop your body on top of it with a sigh. you might do this three or four times in a row until we take notice and take action. and it is clockwork. 10am and 2pm, give or take a few minutes. such a creature of habit.

you are a no-nonsense nurser but after your belly is full, you like to sit on my lap and talk with me for a bit. we play. you sing. you make funny sounds to make me laugh. you flip through books. you clap. you let out a hearty burp. and then, you are ready to move on with things. but you really do need that five minute transition time. and gosh, do i live for that time. i will cherish those moments for years and years.

you are methodical, for sure. everything has its place. and the red berries are always eaten before your other breakfast foods.

you love music. you are enthralled during papa (and elinor's) violin practice time. and when you catch a good beat, you get your whole body into it. bouncing up and down and moving your head from side to side. you do it to the radio or when anyone sings something that tickles your fancy.

you give high-fives for a job well done. you give solid but gentle pats to the dogs. you giggle at your sissy (more like cee-cee, your sound for elinor) because you think she's super funny. you love to mimic noises and words and volume and tone and timbre. in so many ways, you are discovering your voice.

you have a killer catalogue of sound effects. each toy has a different sound to accompany playtime. you make a deep vvvvvbbbbrrrrr sound when you are scooting around with your cars. our home is your race track, these days. you and your cars. when you spot a ball, you let out the happiest baaaalll! sound and toss it with a woooaaaahhh! sound to match. and then there is the list of sounds that go along with activities such as dropping or smashing and banging or drumming. you see, the noise of a wooden block dropping on the tile just isn't enough. no sir. you *must* add in your own ppppooooff (bomb dropping) sound. it's such a hoot to watch and listen to you play. truly, you are such a boy.

you cruise around the house. you have this funny move where you pop up onto your knees and slowly (for effect) raise your arms higher and higher and higher until you are totally stretched out then fall forward onto your hands into a knees/hands tabletop position. it is your exaggerated version of "how big is ridley?" well, you are clearly the biggest and the best. you squat and stand all by yourself and have taken the occasional unassisted step before cautiously lowering yourself back to your hands and knees. and then, you pop back up and give it another go. so resilient. so determined. you like to walk around the house, holding my hand. just like a little person. and you like to use elinor to pull yourself up and then use opposing forces to practice walking while pushing against her belly and chest. like your own human walker toy. and she giggles the whole time, cheering you on as you go. you two are the CUTEST pair. i hope you continue to refine each other and encourage each other. and feel free to level her, as necessary.

oh, ridley. you are quite the gentleman. strong and determined. fierce and loving. tender and kind. loud and bold. you are the whole kit and caboodle. and we love you so.

your mama + papa + sissy

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