11 months
And she’s as joyful and exuberant a child as ever. Only now she’s got the muscle tone to back it up. She wriggles in your lap, tosses around in her crib, bats away the bedtime bottle (now crowned with handles and a green nurp, designed to transition her to sippy cups), and will even bash her head drowsily against your shoulder or collarbone as you’re attempting to rock her to sleep. Once or twice a week she’ll sleep till dawn without waking, but more often she rouses herself in the middle of the night, just to see what’s going on. (She’ll promptly go back to sleep upon realizing that nothing is.) Natalie bristles with energy, drinks deeply and delightedly of life, and refuses to miss a moment of it.

This month saw Natalie’s first Halloween, and because she is her father’s daughter, she had not one but two costumes. & had been cleaning out our coat closet when he happened upon Grandma Judy’s silver mink fur coat. “This looks like a Cruella De Vil coat,” he said, and, because he is &, proceeded to make it so. Soon thereafter, I came home from work to find a pile of packages on the countertop: a cigarette holder, a shock wig, a pair of elbow-length red satin gloves, a fluffy spotted romper for Natalie. &’s own dogcatcher costume was comparatively simple, and at our annual pumpkin-carving party, we were a matched thematic set:
Cast members from 101 Dalmatians

But Auntie Darlyn had also been thinking of Natalie (and Buford), and surprised us with another package — a matching set of costumes for the two of them. Buford, alas, refused to disguise himself as Darth Vader, but Natalie made a most fetching Princess Leia at the daycare Halloween parade.
Daddy and his princess(“The only princess allowed in our house!” I joked.)

This is my daughter, in the last gasps of her infancy, at eleven months. She has four teeth — two front top, two front bottom. Two more, flanking the top two, have been lurking for several weeks but have not yet peeked out. Natalie’s honey-blonde hair has thickened and grown long enough to muss, but not quite enough to tangle. She continues to say things that sound like possible words, or at least like attempts to mimic us (best so far: “Ah-nah!” to visiting baby Annabelle). This morning, she took my hand, pulled herself up to standing, and took several steps, holding on to my hand and nothing else. She may not be full-on walking and talking yet, but she’s so close, you can see it from here.

And the next time we dress her in a red onesie and pose her next to Gatsby the teddy bear, it’ll be her first birthday.