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"They grow up so fast!"

Jack and I go grocery shopping once a week and it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out how you go grocery shopping with a baby. Like, REAL shopping, where you come home with fourteen bags, not just the two or three that will fit in the basket under your stroller. One day I brought my wrap along and voila! Two hands! Free to push a cart! It was a whole new world, people. I could go grocery shopping. WITH A BABY.

And this is how we've been shopping for the last couple of months -- not just at the grocery store, but at Target and the mall and pretty much any place where two hands would be helpful. I strap Jack to my body in a series of origami moves that completely baffle the baby-less, and then I'm free to inspect nutrition information (or, uh, how many cookies are in the box) while his legs dangle and his head cranes backwards to get a better look at the little kids running through the aisle.

Except last time I went to the store it occurred to me that maybe Jack was big enough to sit in the cart. LIKE A BIG KID. ACK.

At first this was exciting. I left the wrap at home. I carried my baby into the store and plopped him down in the cart, stuffing some blankets behind him for padding. (Although I did not have one of those things you stick on the seat to make sure Precious Baby does not catch any cooties from the previous baby. Bad mommy!) Now THIS was a whole new world. I could bend over to reach something on the bottom shelf without worrying that the baby would fall out. I could get up close to the produce. I could finish shopping without feeling like I needed a chiropractor afterwards. And Jack was all, "You were carrying me around like a sack of potatoes when I could have been sitting HERE? Where I can see the BIG KIDS? Where I can reach out and grab EVERYTHING?"

We were both so happy. Until I got home and realized my baby was big enough to sit in the cart. Wah!

It is a well-documented fact that I am a big fat sap. I mean, back when Jack was a Teeny Tiny Blob I was moaning all the time about how fast he was turning into a Fatter Bigger Blob. "Two months is my favorite!" I'd tell the internet. "Three months can't POSSIBLY be better than two months!" I loved the eensy weensy baby stage and how I dreaded every "growing up" moment.

In the last two or three days Jack has started army crawling (or "inch worming", which I think is a more accurate description.) He's been up on all fours for weeks now and the grandparents have paid rapt attention, swearing up and down that TODAY will be the day the baby starts crawling. I'd almost stopped thinking about it until the other day when Phillip put his car keys in front of the baby and he immediately lunged and dragged himself forward to reach the forbidden treat.

Now when I put him down to play  he disappears as soon as I turn my back. He hides behind the coffee table. He scooches under the dining table chairs. He gets dangerously close to the giant mass of cables and wires that enable me to record three different television shows at once. If I'm sitting on the couch he has no interest in his toys- he inches over to my feet and looks up at me with a pathetic puppy dog face until I melt and haul him into my lap. (Where he just squirms and dives out of my arms- what do you WANT, kid?)

My baby is rapidly turning into a BOY. A boy who sits up in the cart and scurries around the house and demands my attention and then demands something else as soon as I drop everything to pick him up. He kisses and claps and gives high fives. He likes yogurt and pears and sweet potatoes. He bounces along when he hears music. He's even beginning to understand English! And I can't rock him to sleep anymore. After months of wondering if he'd EVER just go to sleep by himself, he REFUSES to sit in our laps and quietly drift off. We MUST put him in the crib where he will twist and protest and flip around and, after a minute or two, fall fast asleep. He wears jeans and shoes and laughs uproariously when one of us stubs our toe or trips over a toy. We'd be offended if it weren't so CUTE.

We've been transferring old video from the camera onto the computer, and I barely remember the six pound baby who couldn't hold his head up by himself. I watched myself changing that tiny baby into a pair of pajamas and thought, "Why did I think THAT was the best age? Eight months is obviously SO MUCH MORE FUN!"

But nine months -- nine months can't possibly be as awesome as eight.