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Dear Moe (18 Months)

There's no denying it now, sweetie, you're not a baby anymore. At 18 months old, you are most definitely a toddler. And it has been quite a month – one of the most eventful you've had in a long time.

It was an eventful month because we all went on our first big family road trip together. We rented a cottage in Wells Beach, Maine with Granny and Grandma. It was a long drive, and you handled it like a trooper. We tried to give you as many chances to get out of the car as possible, and you kept yourself amused with stuffies, cars, books and music. You were a total champ, and we were so amazed at how easy the trip was with you. You're an excellent travel companion, sweet sir.

You enjoyed Maine very much, but you didn't sleep very well there. Nobody did, really. It was five people in a small two-bedroom cottage. You and Daddy and I were sleeping in the same bedroom. You got more and more comfortable as the days went by, but by the time you found you way, it was time to go home.

It was so wonderful to share the Wells Beach experience with you, Moe. Granny and Grandpa Will took me there many summers when I was a little girl – as young as you are now! - and for some of those summers, my Granny and Grandpa were there, too. Your Daddy and I rediscovered Maine together three years ago, and we were eager to bring you there. It was everything we could have hoped for.

You love playing in the sand. For you, the beach is all about the sand. For me, it's all about the ocean. Imagine my face when I brought you to the beach for the very first time to show you the ocean, and after 9 hours of driving, all you wanted to do was play on the staircase down to the beach! I think the waves scared you a bit – they were noisy, and somewhat unpredictable. But as soon as we found you a little tidal pool to call your own, you were a happy, happy boy. Sand, water, and a couple of trucks were all you needed to play for hours. It was the first time you'd seen wet sand... and it was awesome.

We had a few power struggles that week – in the cottage and on the beach. We ended up driving 45 minutes to find a Walmart where we could buy a toilet lock. There were a number of meltdowns in the cottage over things like not touching the oven, not banging cupboard doors at 7:00 am (we were on the second floor of a two story cottage – people were sleeping below us), and OMG stop touching the TV. And on the beach, we repeatedly struggled with wearing a sunhat and the throwing of sand. (We're still working on that one when we hang out at the park. We've tried the “throw sand and we go home” rule, but you never seem to mind leaving! You're very adaptable. So now we try an in-park time-out. You may be getting it now, but it's slow going. Your hearing tends to be rather... selective.)

Overall, though, you were a gem. We went to Perkins Cove in Ogunquit and walked part of the Marginal Way. I bought a lobster roll at Perkins Cove and you tried lobster for the first time. I sure didn't get much of that lobster roll! I've never seen you eat anything like that before. You were double fisting it, working so hard to swallow fast enough to put more in your mouth, begging me for more. You would have eaten the whole thing if I had let you. (Oddly, we offered you some again when Granny bought a lobster later in the week, but you weren't interested. Maybe you'd filled your lobster quota.)

We took you to the Kittery Factory Outlet Stores, and you outdid yourself. We kept you occupied by letting you play on the coin operated ride-on toys, and keeping the stroller moving so you were always looking at new things. (Someday, you'll figure out that those ride-on toys actually DO things if you put money in them, but so far, we're good with just climbing on them.) Little man, you did well at those outlet stores. Between us and your grandmothers, you have a good haul of clothes for the fall. T-shirts, pyjamas, a pair of crocs, a lovely blue ball cap... the list goes on.

We went for walks around Wells, we watched the waves at high tide, we played on the cottage lawn, and played on the beach every day. We chased seagulls, filled dump trucks with sand, made roads, and dug holes. Some days, you didn't go any farther than 3 feet from the stairs to the beach. Other days, you would walk and run and make use of all the space available to you.

Days at the beach meant sunscreen and sand, which meant being bathed several times a day. We figured out pretty quickly that showers were the way to go – and you LOVED them. The water would run down your face and you would laugh and laugh. It made it very easy to get you cleaned up after a hour or two at the beach. And it was lots of fun (but very wet!).

We took you to the Wells Beach Lobster Pound, which I remember visiting when I was a little girl. The tanks were too high for you to see into, and we didn't want to let you out of the stroller for fear that you would put your hands into the tanks like they were a water table. But a very nice pound employee took a lobster out of the tank and put it on the floor in front of you! I don't know who was more stunned – you or the lobster. The lobster started backing up right away, and I think you would have, too, if you hadn't been in your stroller.

All in all, it was a lovely week. But you were very, very happy to be home, and your sleep improved right away (thank goodness).

We did a lot of other things this month, too! You and I met your Daddy's cousin Josee for lunch at O'Grady's, and you proved that we really can take you anywhere. You showed us that you can take Daddy's hand and walk through a store with him. You were a model in a photo shoot for my workplace annual report. You learned how to put your face in the water (both in the bath and in Uncle Ted's pool). You figured out how to stop the water from going down the bathtub drain. You still love to dance, and now use your whole body, not just your feet. You love to climb your step stool (or anything, for that matter). You can happily look at a book on your own, and put your books back on your shelf when you're done with them. You can carry your snack to your bench. You love your stuffies, particularly Leary the Otter (inherited from me) and Buster the Dog (from Jiff and Kim). You love eating watermelon. You love watching Curious George. You make a hilarious sniffy face, and a great frowny face. Your eyebrows still get compliments wherever we go.

You are fantastic. You are determined, affectionate, funny, expressive, chatty, sweet, intelligent, curious and adorable. You've been such a wonderful baby, my love, and you're the most amazing toddler. It's been so lovely watching you grow and learn and develop into your own person... and we're still just starting. We love you.