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When Zoe was a baby I emailed updates about her miraculous development to a large list of people I thought of as fans. Daily or weekly or monthly I sent out these missives because, as a new parent, I was in awe of almost everything Zoe did whenever she did it.

Six years later, Zoe’s brother Zeke is equally wondrous, but decidedly less stunning in his fabulousness, if only because we’ve been through it before and we’re considerably more tired now. Although Zoe’s demands are considerably more articulate than Zeke’s, they seem just as numerous. So I write about Zeke less. But I am still delighted and impressed by him moment by moment.

Tomorrow is Zeke’s four-month birthday. Huzzah! The rhythm of his life and the school year are tied together. I found out I was pregnant last year on Zoe’s first day of school. Tomorrow as we mark four months, Zoe will meet her first-grade teacher and new classmates. And Zeke is so much more of a person than he was not that long ago.

Zoe called him Rolly McRollerson today. He rolls over like crazy. Last night Zoe called me in to their room in the middle of the night and during the few minutes I was tending to her, Zeke rolled over onto his tummy (and had to be rolled back over onto his back) six times. When I walked into the room, he had positioned himself in the northeast corner of his crib, after being placed basically in the center, but nearer to the southern end. I wish I had a video camera trained on him during the night, and someone to edit the footage into a cool two-minute time-lapse little movie.

He thrills at his fingers and toes. For a while he would try to cram his whole hand into his mouth when he wanted to suck on it, but recently he has learned to separate his fingers and he can now more easily satisfy himself by chewing on one or two at a time. And he can pretty easily put his toes in his mouth. Socks on or off–it doesn’t matter. He doesn’t mind a little cloth. He will also happily suck on a burp cloth, the corner of a blanket, the ear of a stuffed animal, and of course, a pacifier. Thank goodness my aunt convinced him of the virtues of a pacifier when she visited and helped take care of him in July. Previously he wouldn’t have it, and now he and the pacifiers that litter every room of our house are old friends.

This boy can snuggle. Of course he loves to snuggle with his family. That’s been true since his first messy moments out of the womb. But in the past couple weeks he has demonstrated an affinity for stuffed animals, in particular a little white bear that Zoe has aptly named Snuggles. When he’s trying to settle down and he’s flailing his arms around, all you have to do is tuck a little animal against his chest and he immediately puts his arm around it and calms down. When Zoe was a baby we tried for months to interest her in the multitude of stuffed animals that had marched into our home. She was largely indifferent until about nine months when she mysteriously claimed one of my old stuffed animals–a gray dog named Ralph–as her special friend, and he remains her main stuffed squeeze. Zeke only has a few animals, and some of them are bigger than him, but he clearly loves his furry friends.

Zeke has a voracious appetite. Whether it’s coming straight from the source or via a bottle, he loves his breastmilk. He seems to be an increasingly efficient consumer, as his feedings seem to have reduced from a dozen a day to about half that. Thank goodness. He stocks up during the day and, as a result, often sleeps through the night. Probably for the past month he’s slept from 8 or 9pm to 6 or 7am for three or four nights in a row. Then he’ll wake up at 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 for three or four nights. Then he’ll sleep through. I have not yet been able to undertake a scientific study to determine why he sleeps longer some nights than others, but I am satisfied that he can sleep through and confident that those nights will eventually outnumber the wakeful ones. Zoe has complained recently that he wakes her up a lot at night, so tonight I let her sleep on the bed in my office, as a temporary measure. I reminded her that she still wakes us up sometimes. She didn’t care.

By far the best thing he can do, however, is smile. He smiles and smiles and sticks his tongue out and makes all kinds of jungle animal or wild bird noises. He is so engaged with people and with the world and obviously quite happy with his place in it right now. Do not think I am saying he never cries or is unhappy. When he is tired he cries a lot and he will resolutely refuse food or anything else until you help him get to sleep. He has mostly overcome his riding in the car misery, thankfully. But when he’s tired, the car is also a bad place to be. But mostly, he smiles. Sometimes he looks serious. He doesn’t want you to have the impression he doesn’t think deep thoughts. Those smiles though, let you know that you’re pretty swell and remind you to be as excited as Zeke is just to be alive.

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