At 11 months, Cooper is claiming a new independence. One that still has hands close enough to support, but with a little more trust and space than a few months before. Love is a safety net allowing her the freedom to explore. Arms and hands are strong and agile, perfect for climbing. (Getting down is sometimes the tricky part.) Her crawl more crab- or spider-like with one flat foot and one knee down, trying to avoid the tricky fabric of a dress. A few steps here and there, still tentative and learning to trust her own balance. The largest problem in each day is what direction to go in first. She tends to gravitate toward open doors and outside, piles of leaves and dirt or any living creature that isn’t smart enough to get out of her way.Whether dog, cat, or picture of a lion in a book, the best greeting is a yipping baby’s bark. None of the animals seem to quite understand her language and cats are, understandably, not impressed. The best way to show excitement is a happy dance involving much flailing of the arms. Her brothers are a natural draw, especially when there is a brother and living creature combination. Too bad both are usually too fast for even her warp-speed crawl. When she expresses her love with slaps, pinches, and over-enthusiastic flailing, running away is probably the best option. Open-mouthed panting and awed whispers are a sign of the greatest excitement, whether looking at a painting on the wall or the tree branches blowing in a southern wind. Her wide-eyed curiosity seems even wider ringed with a thick fringe of lashes, a genetic gift from Rob. At the end of the day, feet and hands and face are smudged with brown, a map of her travels lining her skin. Her baby smell replaced by the fresh smell of outside: soil and leaves and spring air.
The constant movement slows as she curls her body into mine for the last snuggles of the day, one hand on my chest or tracing the inside of my mouth. Only as she gives in to sleep does she resemble the baby we met for the first time almost one year ago.