Friday, December 26, 2008

Month 22: Randomness

I have decided... THIS is my favorite stage. I think I have said that every day for the past (nearly) two years... but this really is my favorite. Daniel is more fun than I imagined in my pre-child wildest dreams.

I never want to forget...

- His fascination with snowmen ("No-bet").

- How he says "too hot" for everything remotely warm.

- How quickly he learns and absorbs new words. It's easy to teach him! He loves his zoo books, so the recent new words have been "ostrich" "walrus" "seal" "dolphin". Pretty amazing for a 1-year-old.

- His love of the game "airplane"! He now lays on his back and plays airplane with his stuffed animals and toys.

- His mastery of possessive pronouns... mama's shoes! dada's bed!

- How whenever he's excited about anything (approximately every two minutes) he inhales sharply, makes an "oh" with his mouth, and opens his eyes really wide.

- He loves colors - and knows them so well. The only one he cannot pronounce well is green... it comes out "reegee".

- How he counts from 1 to 10 in English AND Spanish... and for a while, he would skip the "2" in both languages. Instead of saying "zero" he says "oval". Walking through Wal-mart is now so much fun - they have giant numbers hanging everywhere. Daniel calls them out as we roll by.

- When he wants to be picked up, he says "Uppy" plus the person's name. "Uppy TK! Uppy TK!"

- His obsession with books. Obsession. We just bring books with us wherever we go and he's happy. He requests them by name at night, and we can use them as leverage. ("Daniel, if you brush your teeth nicely we can go read 'Fish Kisses'!")

- How he impresses everyone in a ten mile radius with his charm and cuteness! When people were stressed out in the stores before Christmas, he beamed and said "hi!" to everyone and (quite literally) spread goodwill toward men and Christmas cheer. No kidding.

- How he is not interested in opening presents at all. Once the gift is unwrapped, it's a different story.

- How he takes our hand, pulls us somewhere and says 'show me' when he wants to play with us.

- He is going green at home. He runs around behind us, turning off all the light switches. He can only reach high enough to turn lights off, not on! We are having to use lamps instead.

- His beloved rhino stuffed toy named Zona is now "Zoona" (instead of Nano).

- A little whistle/lisp has creeped into his speech on words with the letter "s". Cars = Carsh. Gussy = Gushy. Bus = Bush. It's cute... I hope it's not permanent.

- Every time (with zero exceptions) we are in the car, he inexplicably takes off his left shoe.

- He has mastered animal noises, except that quite a few say exactly the same thing (roar!). Bears... Monsters... Dinosaurs... Tigers... Lions... and occasionally Zebras. :)

It's harder and harder to leave him. Be it daycare, at Fernando's parents, or with a babysitter. The time is going so quickly - the seconds aren't sticking around like they used to. Daniel doesn't want to leave us and this makes it all the more difficult. When we do have to leave him for a while, the absolute best 30 seconds of the day are when we come to pick him up.... "Maaaa maaaaa!!!!! Daaaaa daaaaa!!!!!" and the tackling-bear hug that ensues.

There's so much more to say... but I'll save it for another post :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Month 22: Snuggle Bug

I know, I know. That title is devastatingly sappy. But lately, I cannot seem to stop myself from hugging, kissing, tickling and just snuggling with Daniel. He is changing so quickly that suddenly it doesn't feel like long before his independence will overwhelm his need for physical affection.

Last night, Fernando had to work until (very) late. I was exhausted and planning to head to bed early, and Daniel was equally as tired. I put him in the crib after lots of books and songs, and he was drifting off to sleep quickly. I headed to my room to get ready for bed but was interrupted by a sudden yelping type of cry - I ran back to the nursery. Daniel was sitting up, blankie and Diego the turtle in hand, reaching for me. This isn't uncommon, but last night felt different. I hugged him while he stood in his crib, leaning on me. We swayed together in a hug for quite a while, and every time I attempted to walk away, he began crying inconsolably. He was lonely.

Throwing caution (and my "Babywise" book) to the wind, I scooped him up and carted him off to my room. We hit the lights and crawled under the sheets. Daniel didn't try to sit up or leave the bed once - he just laid on his back, eyes wide in the dark, watching the fan. He would occasionally lean his forehead onto mine, look into my eyes and whisper loudly, "Hi!" I wrapped an arm around him, and as I fell asleep, he stroked my arm with his tiny sweet fingers.

At nearly 1 am, I woke up next to my son. He was in a deep sleep, and I moved him back to the crib so that Fernando would have room in the bed when he got home. (I'm so thoughtful!) :) But I think Daniel would have done fine sleeping in a grown up bed for the remainder of the night. Maybe it's time to start transitioning him out of the crib.

I love the feeling of his tiny warm body nestled next to mine. I don't regret the decision to have him sleep in his own crib, but I do relish the exceptions!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Month 21: A Texas Thanksgiving

Family vacations are the best. It's not so much about doing things together as just being together... 24/7 of being with Daniel and watching him learn, grow, eat, breathe and sleep. We love it.

This year, for Thanksgiving, we made our annual trip to Texas to spend the week with family. It was eventful, so I think I'll drop in a photo for each day of the trip (as selecting just one will be completely impossible). :)

Day 1: Sunday. We left after work, and ate dinner at the airport. Daniel didn't sleep a wink on the flight, but Veggie Tales saved the day. Every time he looked out the window of the plane, he said "peeshies!" (fishies) I guess he thought we were in an aquarium...? :)

Day 2: Relaxing day on the farm at his Gramma & Tex's house (these are my parents' preferred names for themselves. Daniel can't pronounce them so instead they are "Qua-Qua and Tekky"... I hope they stick...!) Right away, Daniel acclimated to having a dog around, and was royally spoiled by all the new toys and attention. We visited my grandfather (Daniel's great-grandfather) in the hospital, and Daniel loved the wheelchair joy rides on his lap. He called him "Grampa" immediately and was very physically affectionate with him - hugs and kisses. Needless to say, it was a special time for all of us. Grampa is an amazing man and I hope that he and Daniel have many future memories together. And I think Grampa enjoyed having him around... there's nothing like a little "toddler therapy"!

Day 3: Awaking bright and early, Daniel ate breakfast and wanted to go "outside"! It was bitingly cold, but he didn't seem to notice, even after his hands had turned to ice. He ran through the yard and field, stopping to notice flowers and big rocks. He rode in the golf carts and watched the "choo choo" trains go by. He is officially a farm boy. (He learned the word ladybug too: "lalaladybuggie!") This photo is us attempting to get Daniel to smile for a "Dear Ethiopia" photo. We were (obviously) unsuccessful and now we just have a lovely "Where's Nano?" photo to show for our efforts. Oh well.

Day 4: His cousin Lucas (18 mo) arrived and even though the boys weren't too sure of each other right away, they ended up playing really well. Early in the morning (around 4 am) Daniel woke up crying. We were too tired to think and just pulled him into bed with us (something we NEVER do) and he snuggled with us for quite a while. After tossing and turning, he finally crawled on top of me and passed out! I never knew being someone's body pillow could be so much fun. I relished every moment of cuddle time. Before dinner, we headed to the pasture to visit the cows. Turns out that to a toddler, they are pretty scary up close - and apparently the cows feel the same way about toddlers! At dinner we had our family's traditional Thanksgiving meal: Chinese food! It's something we've done since I was a kid, and we will continue it (with pleasure!) throughout our kids' lifetime.

Day 5: Thanksgiving Day! It was memorable, to say the least. We had four generations around a very large make-shift table. The food was amazing, the conversation diverse and the memories irreplaceable. Before the meal, we took the boys out to the pasture to visit the cows again. They were a little braver (both the cows and the toddlers) and we enjoyed more than a few photo opportunities. After eating, we celebrated Christmas early (since we wouldn't all be together for Christmas) and opened an abundant pile of gifts! The boys got piles of new books and toys, and we each got some special gifts - clothing, gift cards (our favorite!) and even donations to our adoption. Grampa busted out the harmonica and played for a quite a while, and everyone kicked back and enjoyed conversation with each other. Grampa regaled us with war stories, his trips to high places, jokes and sweet memories of Gramma. It was a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

Day 6: On our last day in Texas, Daniel became more than a little possessive of us around Lucas. They played well together, but when we were nearby, he staked his territory. I was reading a book to Lucas, and Daniel ran over, pulled Lucas out of my lap, climbed into my lap, wrapped his arms and legs around me and with a disdainful look towards his cousin, declared me "Nano's Mama!" After tearful goodbyes at the airport, we boarded our flight home. Fernando's laptop battery died with 90 minutes still to go in the flight, and after a brief panic at the lack of Veggie Tales, we made due with lots of books and snacks. It's amazing to me that even when we think he's being too loud or rambunctious, we get compliments from other people on his excellent behavior.

Now we're home again, and truthfully, we're pretty happy about it. Our bed has never felt better, and it's so nice to have Daniel in his own room again! Now, it's time to get ready for Christmas....!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Month 20: Ninjas and the New President

Halloween passed in a blur with work, church and family events. It was fun, and probably the last Halloween Daniel will have no recollection of whatsoever.

I grew up dressing up each and every year for Halloween - there are photos (cute and incriminating alike) of me and my sister in every costume imaginable... cowgirls... square dancers... clowns... ballerinas... jazz cats (?!)... and even one memorable year when I went as Laura Ingalls Wilder (just when you thought I couldn't be a bigger nerd...!)

But Fernando did not grow up dressing up for Halloween, so for him, this has been a more recently-adopted tradition. Consequently, he always goes a little nuts every October, gathering multiple costumes so each family member has a choice for the big night. This year Daniel could have been a) a pirate (complete with handheld hook and eye patch), b) Harry Potter (glasses, cape and all) or c) a Ninja. Option "c" won out, as the Ninja outfit was a one piece suit without removable accessories (he is still a one-year-old, after all). The Ninja headpiece was out of the question, so he was a Ninja with huge crazy hair (it was "crazy hair day" at the preschool) and a black eye (complements of a preschool slide accident earlier in the week). I think it made him look tougher. :)

Earlier in the day, we attended a "Harvest Party" at Daniel's preschool, and were able to hang out with Daniel for some activities and a really interesting look into what he does in his classroom. What did we learn? 1) Daniel is a teacher's pet already. He loves to be picked to answer questions to do activities, and sits eagerly on the edge of his seat with his gaze fixed on his teacher (Ms. Cynthia). 2) Daniel does better when his parents are NOT in the classroom with him. He assumed that our presence meant it was time to go home... oops!) 3) Daniel is completely blessed to have teachers that challenge him and engage the students in organized play and learning, engaging them well above a 1-year-old level.

After the party, we shifted gears and got ready for Halloween night. Fernando dressed up as a pirate (he looks great in dreds!) and I was a biker chic with a tattoo shirt and black Harley doo-rag (thank you, Pastor Lee). After our church's Halloween Tailgate, we headed home for a pumpkin pie gathering. Fernando's parents stole the show as Fred & Wilma Flintstone - I couldn't breathe through my laughter when I first saw them. Fernando's sisters were a 1940's movie star (Keila) and a Greek goddess (Raquel). We were a pretty handsome bunch.

Regarding the other part of my post title, Daniel is learning to pronounce the name of our new President Elect. I said, "Daniel, say Obama!" Daniel said... "Mama?" I said, "No honey, say Obama!" And now (every single time) he says "Buh-lah-buh-lah-buh-lah-ma-ma!"

Precious. We need to capture that on video before he learns to say it correctly!

Month 20: All Grown Up

It's true - he's practically grown up. Every day I find myself wondering where my baby went.

I also find myself clinging to some of the rituals and traditions that he probably should have outgrown by now in a vain attempt to stop the hands of the clock. (For example, his nightly sippy cup of warm milk on my lap while we read and sing and cuddle). But I don't care - I'm holding on to this as long as he'll let me.

He now eats a piece of pizza by himself - I don't have to cut it into pieces. (In fact, he won't eat it if I help too much). Same with a sandwich. He doesn't need lids on his cups anymore, and he goes down the big boy slides at the park alone. Heck - he runs up the playground stairs alone too. He gets things from the pantry or fridge if I ask him to, and he climbs into the van on his own. His vocabulary is large enough for him to make specific requests, ask questions, and answer our questions. He's extremely logical and understands sequential instruction.

One of our good friends is expecting the birth of her second child at any moment. Yesterday, someone told her to brace herself for one of the biggest shocks of having a second baby: The moment your first born walks into the hospital room and you realize just how grown up they really are. There's something in me that simply isn't willing to admit that Daniel isn't a baby anymore.

Fernando and I still sneak into his room every night to turn the fan and the lamp off before we head to bed. And every night, we gaze into the crib (which he's too big for!) and wonder where the time went. Our whispered conversation is the same each night...

Me: "Honey, he's huge."
Fernando: "I know... he takes up the whole crib!"
Me: "He used to be so tiny."
Fernando: "His head is enormous!"
Me: "What happened to our baby!?"
Fernando: "I don't want him to grow up anymore. I wish time would stop."
Me: "Me too."

It's the paradox of life, that it goes by the fastest just when you wish it wouldn't.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Month 19: Racing to Keep Up

Warning: Sappy and potentially boring updates ahead. Proceed only if you a)love Daniel, b)are excruciatingly bored at work, or c)don't want to feel guilty when I ask you later if you read my latest post.

I hope I never forget how he...

- Gallops around the room when he gets bored with running or walking.
- Can't say "larry" and instead tongue wrestles with the word "lally".
- Screams "hi!" at everyone he passes, scaring innocent grocery-shoppers half to death.
- Says "okay" like Forrest Gump (oh-kye).
- Feels heavy and light at the same time riding on my hip. I never imagined that a kid on my hip would make me feel so complete.
- Usually (very dramatically) spits out the first bite of anything new, but likes it once he gives it a second try.
- Wrinkles his face into bizarre expressions when his nose is stuffy, trying to get relief from the sinus pressure.
- Shows up in the kitchen with his blankie and Zona when he's ready to sleep.
- Still calls ice-cream "cake".
- Will nearly repeat the entire alphabet, one letter at a time.
- Can't stand it if soapy bubbles from a bubble bath get stuck on his hands.
- Still loves to be read to, but now likes to read the book again by himself after we've read it once.
- Can sing a huge part of the Veggie Tales theme song, even words he doesn't know yet("broccoli", "aisle", etc.)
- Plays Duck Duck, Goose by tapping us on the head and saying "duck" until we say "goose" - then we all stand up, scream, spin in a circle, and sit back down.
- Learned the word "boogie" and now notifies us whenever he has one.
- Picks purple flowers off the bush in the front yard and brings them to me.
- Likes to take his shirt half way off and leave the neck hole around his head. He runs around the house laughing hysterically like this.
- Knows the difference between "mommy shoes" and "dada shoes".
- Responds well to "if/then" logic, especially when the "then" refers to Veggie Tales or Cookies.
- Loves his routines and gets frustrated if we don't abide by them.
- Calls all kids "babies", even if they're 5 or 6 years old.
- Loves playing "airplane" on the living room floor.
- Can eat an entire Subway 6 inch sandwich by himself - without us cutting it up!

His favorite game of late was invented to occupy him on the changing table during diaper changes and after baths. He covers his head with either a towel, a shirt or his hands and I say "Where's Daniel? I don't know - I don't see him! But I see his..." and I start to name off body parts, touching them as I go. As soon as I start, he sticks his feet in the air (with his eyes covered) and when I say "I see his..." he yells "toes! feet!" After a while, he pulls the towel off his face and yells "boo!" and we start all over. This game seriously occupies him for a long time - more than enough time for a diaper change. It's a LIFE SAVER.

Stay tuned for more of the wonderful and wonderfully tiny updates!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Month 19: Vanilla Wafer Breakdown

At 7:14 a.m. this morning, we officially entered a new phase: The Tantrum Phase. Otherwise known as the defiance-and-parental-testing phase.

Daniel woke up in a great mood, shouting "hi!" at the invisible bunnies and lizards outside the bedroom window. All was calm for about 30 minutes, until I handed him two vanilla wafers for a quick (albeit nutritionally lacking) breakfast snack. He accidentally dropped a wafer on the floor, and stepped on it. I lovingly removed his foot from the cracker, took it away and explained that we cannot step on our food. I tried to give him a replacement, but the breakdown had already begun. Screams of anger and a refusal to accept the new cookie. "No! No!"

I put the cookie on a table within reach, and returned to the dining room table where I was sitting. About 30 seconds later, I realized that I was being watched. Daniel had the new cookie, and was standing across the room, waiting for me to look at him. Our eyes locked and without even blinking, Daniel dropped the cookie and stepped on it.

Firmer this time, I told him "no thank you", and took the cookie away again. The breakdown ensued. Tears, screams, anger ... running to dada for help (mercifully, dada maintained our unified front and didn't give in).

Round three. I returned to my seat, only to feel the gaze of one very angry 19-month-old boring holes in my head. I looked up, met Daniel's gaze, and watched him very deliberately throw his remaining cookie on the ground. Then, in an amazing display of balance and defiance, he maintained eye contact WHILE lifting his leg, holding it over the cookie in a silent threat to step on it again. Incredible.

This time I had reached my limit - all cookies were taken away (read: pried out of little clenched sweaty fingers) and the massive tantrum that ensued was ignored. Ten minutes later, once all involved had calmed down, Daniel was given an alternative snack: dried cranberries.

Sure that we had survived this first bought of tantrums, I sat back down at the table to resume my work. Not 30 seconds later, I once again felt the "I'm being watched" sensation. I looked up and saw my son, staring me down with one big cranberry pinched between his chubby fingers.

It fell to the floor in slow motion.

How long does this phase last, exactly?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Month 19: Music to My Ears

Daniel’s love of music is growing and he’s slowly but surely beginning to sing along to some favorite songs. He has always been a dancer, and I’m happy to see the singing catching up a little.

In his quirky little way, he now sings along with a few of the songs we play frequently at home – bits and pieces, anyway. The main one right now is the Veggie Tales Theme Song. He also likes “Break From the Status Quo” which Fernando wrote for a kids’ series at church. Daniel love beat-boxing and tries to mimic any songs with a very percussive sound or an actual beat-boxing section.

Daniel was sick a few weeks ago, and when his congestion kept him awake throughout the night, we sang to him and rocked him back to sleep. He became used to this tradition and it’s officially part of the nightly routine. After brushing his teeth, he asks for the “Seat!” and expects all kinds of singing and cuddling. He asks for his favorite songs by name: Itsy Bitsy Spider (“Izzy”), Row Row Row Your Boat (“Boat”), the Alphabet (“A-B”), and more.

I love singing all of them, but two tug at my heart strings more than the others. The first, “Down in the Meadow”, is a song my late grandmother sang to us at bathtime growing up. Hearing Daniel ask for it and sing the “choo!” part in his sweet little voice keep her memory alive. The other tear jerker is “I Like Your Eyes”, a song sung by Ms Piggy on Jim Henson’s Christmas Muppet Special, and sung to my sister and I by my mother.

Until recently, Daniel didn’t have the patience for this somewhat long, slow song. But the past few nights, he has been mesmerized by it, and begs for it over and over. He points to his nose and says “Nose! Nose!” until I sing it again. If I start any other song, his cries of “Nose! Nose!” grow louder until I oblige and indulge his wishes. He has learned all the body parts named in that song (eyes, nose, hand, ear, foot, toe, etc.) and sings them along with me, holding the notes out way too long ("eeeeeeeyyyyeeeeeeeeesssssssssssss!").

It truly is the most precious thing I have ever heard.

Month 19: Ouch!

Sometime before our San Diego vacation, Daniel learned the word “ouch”. (Adorably, it actually sounds more like “outz”.) After a bump or a fall, he stands up, touches his head (or arm, foot, leg, etc) and says “outz!” and runs for one of us to kiss it and say “all better”.

His cute little ritual, however, has become something of an obsession. Apparently Daniel wants the “all better” kisses so badly that he began inventing “ouches”. He’ll either pretend to get an ouch, or actually give himself an injury to get the kiss!

The first time we noticed this (extremely odd) behavior was in Flagstaff, at our aunt and uncle’s house. Daniel accidentally knocked his head on a wall corner and came running for his “outz” kiss. After receiving one, he stood there with his “give me a minute, I’m processing” face on. With a look of triumph, he ran back to the same spot and banged his head into it again. Hard.

It still happens every few days – he’ll grab a toy and smack himself on the head over and over, declaring "outz!" after each one. We’re chalking it up to his mastery of “cause and effect” and not a permanent self-destructive state. Either way, he gets lots of love and kisses whether wounded or not!

(Ironically, the "outz" face featured in this photo came not from a self-inflicted or even accidental injury. Instead, his lady love Ava had just whacked him upside the head!)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Month 19: The Little Things

The little things I hope I never forget…

- Daniel helping me fold the laundry, then throwing my pink undies over his shoulder like a purse, waving "bye-bye" and blowing me a kiss before walking away.

- After his recent mastery of the word “yellow”, Daniel became convinced that the sky was yellow. I sat down and read him a farm book featuring big blue skies… Me: “Daniel, look at the blue sky!” Daniel: “Yellow sky!” Me: “Daniel, the sky is blue!” Daniel: “Yellow!” Me: Giving up and closing the book. Daniel: “Bye-bye, yellow sky!”

- His (really good) Ray Charles impression, first discovered at a family lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. That soulful sax just does something to the little man!

- How he’s adding a “y” to everything… all of a sudden “snack” became “snacky snacky” (which sounds more like “nacky nacky!”), duck became “duckey” and “max” became “mackey”.

- How when I was sick, he crawled into my lap in the recliner, and watched an entire Veggie Tales cuddled up with me. (This NEVER happens!)

- Animal noises are becoming old hat for Daniel. He does an excellent pig noise, a very realistic cow noise (thank you Fernando) and instead of “bah bah” for sheep and lamps, he does this ridiculous Beavis & Butthead laugh, convinced it’s the right noise.

- Goodnight Moon is nightly ritual now, and he delights himself in finding the mouse. (Otherwise known as the “mousey mousey”).

- I love cooking dinner at night, and having Daniel hang out in the kitchen. He pulls out all of our place mats, arranging them usually in a big circle. He then pulls out each of the big mixing bowls, a few plastic pitcher, then stacks and unstacks the bowls, occasionally wearing one as a hat, and encouraging me to do the same. When he’s finally had enough of entertaining himself, he wedges himself between my legs and whatever counter I’m facing, stretches both arms up and says “up, mama!” As I am unable to resist those big brown eyes, he ends up on my hip, observing what’s left of preparing dinner.

- He now prays before each meal, repeating after us, “Thank you God – Amen!”

- Every day, he leans out his crib and searches the side yard for rabbits, calling “money money?” with his little arms up as if to say, “where’s the bunny?” He looks for lizards too: “tu tu? tu tu?” If he doesn't see any bunnies or lizards, he says "ni-night... bye-bye money, bye-bye tu tu!"

- His dancing techniques are expanding, and he’ll pretty much imitate any moves we do. He especially loves dancing with Fernando to “popcorn”, one of the Crazy Frog remixes.

- His latest favorite book was a gift from his cousin Lucas: “I Love You, Stinky Face!” He wants it read repeatedly, and follows along with all the details, learning new words each time through.

Every day I find myself wishing I had a video camera on auto-record all the time. It's the little interactions, the little glances, the small yet hilarious expressions that I wish I could capture and preserve forever. The little things ARE the big things.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Month 18: Five Words

Daniel astounds me. As a parent, I imagine it's fairly standard to think that your child is smart, advanced, and pretty much perfect. Recently, I have been attributing my "genius child" thoughts to my genetic bias as Daniel's mom. You can imagine how gratifying it was, therefore, to hear our doctor reiterate the same sentiments. We had a wonderful 18-month visit, where we discovered that Daniel is (once again) "off the charts" on height and weight. She literally turned her laptop around and showed me where Daniel the charts. (At least he's proportional!)

The best part of the visit was when she asked us, "So, can Daniel say approximately 5 - 10 words?" And we laughed outloud. I told her that his vocabulary now included roughly 30 -40 words, and when she looked doubtful, I said, "Daniel, what color are your shoes?" "Yellow." Her jaw dropped (literally).

Later at dinner, worried that I had overestimated his word count, we started naming off the words he knows. It was way past incredible. So, just for the record, here's the list (in no particular order). These are the words he knows, can pronounce reasonably well, understand, and use in context:

ball. kick. go. run. walk. rock (rockeeey). tree. sky. car. yellow. blue. purple. dino. puppy. max (cat). uva (grape). cheese. aqua. juice. milk. please. more. eat. cookie (cooo-key). cake. cracker. oats. hot dog (hah cog). bath. splash. watch. one. two. three. key. book. moon. mouse. bear. mush. bunny (moneeey). star. seat. hot. cold. baby. block. face. play. down. up. dirty. poo poo. pee pee. diaper. elmo. blankie (main-key). nose. eye. circle. ear. hair. teeth. belly. wash. hug. boat. movie. bob. TV. turtle. bird. fish. snack. shoe. yes. no. yeah. bite. papa. feet. peach. um. ba ba. iced tea. apple. banana. mine. thank you (da-doo). god. amen. ni-night. ava (abu). hi. hello (hallo). bye bye. bible. duck (duckey). that. daniel. dada. mama. mommy. soap. open. close. outside. ouch.

If I'm counting right, that's 108! More evolve daily, and I'm sure that list is far from complete, but it's a pretty good measure of Daniel's vocabulary at this point. He really is my little genius child!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Month 18: My Heart

We are on our second family vacation to San Diego - this year, we're with our friends and their one year old daughter (Ava, Daniel's lady love).

Tonight, Daniel crashed early - today was a big day for him - his first real day at the beach. (Last year, it was cold and he was sick, so it didn't count!) Today he and Ava played in the sand for hours (you can only imagine the places we had to clean later to get all the sand out!)

He's growing more physically affectionate every day, something I have been hoping for for a long time. He now enjoys resting his head on our shoulder when he's sleepy, and giving spontaneous hugs. Sometimes Fernando and I sit on the floor, a few yards apart, and Daniel runs back and forth, throwing himself into our arms for "mama hug" and "dada hug".

Tonight we heard him and Ava giggling on the couch while watching Veggie Tales. We peeked around the corner and witnesses the cutest event in history. No exaggeration. They were leaning on each other, back and forth, to rest their heads while they watched the movie. All of a sudden, Daniel leaned really far and wound up with his head in her lap. He just laid there, watching the movie, and Ava giggled furiously and put her hand on his head. It lasted only a few minutes (Ava began protesting) but it was adorable.

At 6:30, he couldn't keep his eyes open any longer, and I put him down for the night. As usual, I rocked him on my shoulder, singing quietly and patting his back. He went right down, but awoke an hour later with a cry. I went in to check on him, and he wanted "up up up". After a few more songs I realized he just wasn't ready to be alone. So I tried something that has never worked before - I laid down with him. He was curled up on my shoulder, with one leg over my stomach, and he didn't move a muscle... just laid there quietly, hugging me tightly. We laid there for a good twenty minutes - singing quietly, him snuggling in even more...

I don't think my heart has ever hurt that badly. This love is the most bittersweet emotion I have experienced - pure joy and pure ache at the same time.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Month 17: Danielle

Ok, I admit it. I would love a daughter. Don't misunderstand me - I adore having a son. It's light years more fun than I ever imagined it would be. And there's nothing more special than a Mommy/Son relationship. But a few events this week illuminated my growing desire for a daughter.

Event #1: Our trip to Michael's. Daniel and I had a few free hours to share, just the two of us. So we ran a few errands and ended up at Michael's Arts & Crafts, wandering down the dress up aisle. (Poor judgement on my part, I know). The pink items were simply too tempting, and before I knew what had happened, Daniel had on neon pink star sunglasses, a pink feather boa and was waving around a fairy princess wand. (To be fair, he didn't seem exactly thrilled...)

Event #2: Dress up time with Mommy! We were doing laundry and hanging up clothes in the closet. Daniel somehow (mysteriously) ended up wearing my green belt wrapped (twice) around his waist, my white loafers, my favorite hat and my tiny orange purse. This time, he had a ball. Lesson learned however, and instead of scarring my son for life, I think we'll just look forward to the adoption of our daughter!

We took our first trip to Goodnight Pediatrics on Friday, as Daniel's cold turned into a respiratory issue that made it extremely difficult for him to breathe (read: wheezing like he was dying). Once we arrived, they confirmed that his oxygen levels were very low, and gave him steroids and two breathing treatments on the spot. At first he resisted the machines (loud and awkward) but by the end of the second treatment, he sat very still while we read to him (loudly).

Once we were home, we continued giving him treatments every few hours as instructed, and allowed him to watch Veggie Tales. He now runs for his red pillow, sits down, reaches for the machine, holds his own gas mask on for the complete treatment (approximately 20 minutes). He is statue still the entire time - it is beyond precious. We aren't sure if he has learned that breathing is easier with the mask, or if he really just loves Veggie Tales that much.

The staff at the Urgent Care said they'd rather not call it asthma at this age, but instead called it Acute Respiratory Disease. Childhood asthma runs in both sides of our families, so I wouldn't be surprised if he does end up with the full blown thing. For now, we know to give him treatments whenever the wheezing starts, and to keep an eye on him when he has a cold.

One last thing I was going to share ... last week, I opened the garage door and was carrying Daniel to the van. I took a deep breath of outside air and said "good morning world!" Daniel, through his oh-so-cool aviator glasses looked up at the sky and said "hi!" This has become a daily ritual now, along with his nightly "bye bye..." as we walk inside.

His enthusiasm for life is contagious - I have never had more fun than living through a one year old!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Month 17: Perfection on Legs

This week was deadline week at work. My largest annual project - a magazine publication (which I adore) - keeps me at the office for 15-18 hour days. I love the project, but I don't love the time away from my family - from Daniel.

He changed so much this week while I was gone. New words, new motions, new games, new everything. My heart hurts for what I missed, and as melodramatic as that sounds, it couldn't be truer.

He is so smart - so incredibly smart. Handsome. Hilarious (what an incredible sense of humor). He's brave and adventurous. Silly and sweet. He is so much more than I expected.

His new word of the day (as of this morning) is "potty". What's funny is that he pronounces it perfectly - carefully - almost with a British accent. "Pah-tee". It's strange to hear perfect pronunciation because all of his other words are far from perfect. The other new and perfect word: "elmo". I was changing his diaper, handed him a fresh diaper, and he says "elmo ... cookie". I look on the diaper and low and behold, there's Elmo and Cookie Monster right there on the diaper. Monster still sounds like "mommer" but we're working on it.

He has fallen in love with showers. He'll even help us strip off all of his clothes just so he can join us in the shower. He loves splashing, and playing with the bowls and nesting cups we keep in there for him. This picture was taken right before a shower began... those sweet little cheeks are so perfect.
He's going to be an amazing brother. Last week we had friends over for dinner. Their little girl (younger than Daniel) was sitting on the floor when Daniel noticed her and walked over. We halfway expecting him to be too rough with her. Instead he walked over, bent down and said "hi..." in that sweet voice of his. He then sat down, got on all fours, crawled over until his nose was almost touching her nose, and kept saying "hi... hi... hi" - waiting for a response. Every time he handed her a toy, she dropped it, and he picked it up and gave it to her again. And again. With endless patience.

I love playing with him physically - tickling - wrestling - hugging - chasing. Fernando constantly encourages me to just relax, get silly, and throw inhibitions to the wind (which is great advice while playing with a toddler!) Sometimes I lay on my stomach and it only takes Daniel a few seconds to notice. He runs over, climbs on my back, plops down, grabs my shirt for balance and yells "Go!" And Mommy-Horsey takes off. He shrieks with joy as we gallop through the house, stopping at every mirror, as nothing delights him more than the sight of himself on Mommy-Horsey.

This morning, he discovered my belly button. (He discovered his last month, with the help of Daddy. He also discovered other parts - if you say "where is your pee-pee?" or "where is your penis?" he will bend all the way forward to see past his belly, and reach up and poke it! Totally hilarious). But I digress. This morning, I was laying down and with one hand he pulled my shirt up over my belly button and with the other he jabbed his finger into my belly button. He loved the reaction he got, and loves getting tickled in return.

He. Is. Too. Perfect. For. Words.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Month 17: Gramma Lovin'

Daniel had a special visitor this month - his Gramma! My mom came to stay with us for almost two weeks. I have just accepted the fact that coming to see "us" means "Daniel". :)

It was a special trip in many ways. They had lots of one on one time, which was wonderful. Watching their relationship solidify was amazing - they really fell in love with each other. When Mom arrived, I gave her the run down - the list of food dislikes and likes, the "translation" guide to his budding vocabulary, the latest songs and games he loved. But by the time she left, she was giving ME the scoop - they had spent so much time together that new games and jokes had emerged - new words, new habits, new everything. It really was a case study in how much a toddler can change in ten days.

I love that Daniel is surrounded by so much love and family. I was spoiled by four amazing grandparents that peppered my childhood with precious memories - magical Summer trips and constant encouragement and affection. Daniel has the same blessing - four incredible grandparents, each completely different and completely wonderful.

After Mom left, Daniel kept looking for her - running into the guest room, thinking she'd pop out from behind a door to surprise him. And Mom had a rough transition back home - I can't even imagine what it feels like to leave Daniel and know you won't see him for a few months.

They'll see each other again at Thanksgiving, and while it feels far off, I know time will fly by as quickly as it has since Daniel's birth. We'll pass the time with lots of phone calls and a few strategically placed photos on the refrigerator. (When Daniel is older and feels compelled to say "Hi Gramma" every time he wants a glass of milk, you'll know why!)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Month 17: Our Son the Parrot

Our son is a parrot. He will mimic just about anything that comes out of our mouth, and he seems to delight himself in doing so! He'll recite the alphabet, letter by letter, following our lead. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't entertaining to get him to say all kinds of funny things ... what up ... peace out ... dude ... and whatever else comes to mind.

This week has been full of daycare adventures. Daniel experienced his first allergic reaction during snack time. The culprit? Cinnamon! Everywhere cinnamon touched his face, he turned BRIGHT red. That was the only symptom, so we're just keeping an eye on him now. (Although yesterday at Costco, we almost gave him a bite of our cinnamon churro before we realized the error of our ways...!)

Also at daycare, the biting has started back up. This time, it's a different kid. I happen to know which one it is (a mother knows!) and it's hard not to back that pipsqueak into a corner and show him what a real bite feels like!

Ok, so I'm not quite THAT aggressive... but it was definitely fun to role play there for a minute. The biter is changing rooms on Monday, so Daniel will be temporarily safe. This whole world of toddler-biting makes me wonder if teaching Daniel to be gentle is really the best philosophy ... he is big, so we work hard to teach him not to use his size aggressively. But I hate to think that it' might be turning him into a victim, or at least a target.

Daniel's budding vocabulary now includes "movie" "music" and "tv" ... can you tell what his favorite hobby is?! He now says all the body part names (I can't remember if I already wrote this!) ... ear, nose, teeth, eye, etc.

We did buy him a training toilet for fun ... I know it's early, but our theory is that he should be comfortable with it before we ask him to bear all for this little plastic seat! We are toilet readers (TMI, I know) so while we are camped out reading the latest "Entertainment Weekly", Daniel gets one of his books and camps out on his kiddie toilet. Priceless! (Fernando won't let me get a picture though! Can't imagine why not!)

Something I'm noticing more and more is how our parenting style is constantly adjusting. Our original approach to Daniel's tantrums or mini fits of frustration was to discipline, or at least reprimand him. Best to teach him not to act out, right?

Well, now I'm not so sure. After way too much reading on the subject, I'm thinking that we should tone down the discipline a little ... when he does act out with us, at this age anyway, it's usually out of frustration in not being able to communicate, or express a need. He's trusting us in expressing his feelings. Sounds hokey, but as soon as we started letting him vent instead of cutting off the drama, things improved. Fits were shorter. We're still working it out, but it seems like the slower we are to discipline, the better.

Additionally, we are discovering that typically he isn't TRYING to do something wrong. If we catch him with cat food in his hand, better to observe for a minute before scolding - 9 times out of 10, he's "cleaning up" and moving it from the floor to the cat bowl. (My heart broke the first time I scolded prematurely - his little face just crumbled in tears!)

As always, it's a never ending lesson. We'll get it right. Probably just about a week before he moves out of the house!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Month 16: Lady Love

It's official ... Daniel is in love. He's probably been in love for a while, but it's always so hard to differentiate between love and an innocent crush.

This is definitely love. And I think it's because of swimming lessons.

He, along with his best buddy Ava, enrolled in toddler swimming classes with a local program. For 4 weeks (8 lessons), they are learning to kick, paddle, float, roll over in the water, go under water, "choo-choo" along the edge of the pool, climb out and jump in. Pretty impressive for one-year-olds. Daniel adores the back float (as long as we're singing the "ABCs") and does great with jumping in. Ava is a the splash queen, and specializes in drinking as much water as possible. Their dads specialize in singing the "this is the way we wash our ears" song, and the "choo-choo" pool exits.

But I digress. Back to our love story.

As it turns out, they are the only two kiddos enrolled in their particular class. That much "alone" time (in bathing suits!) has pushed their friendship over the edge into full on romance. They run around after each other, giggling and batting those long lashes. They hold hands whenever possible, refusing to let go even when we pull them in opposite directions. They even kiss on command (and just for fun, according to their preschool teachers). If one is in preschool but the other isn't, they mope and have a bad day. They ask for each other by name constantly, and verge on tantrum if they don't see the other.

The other day at swimming lessons, we were taking some fun pictures and I asked the guys to hold the babies together so I could take a picture of a kiss. As you can see, it was a photo op for the books ... the perfect timing.

(As Ava's mom said, "How can something so innocent look so wrong?!) Ava's dad's first reaction was "Ava, you're grounded!" Ava just giggled and Daniel looked entirely too happy about the whole situation.

Daniel and Ava will be going on their first vacation together in August (along with their parents, of course) to the beautiful costal city of San Diego. Depending on how the room situation works out, they may be allowed to stay in the same room. (Different cribs, however. Sorry kids!)

In other non-romantic news, Daniel is obsessed with jumping. He's getting really good at it - almost has both feet off the ground at the same time! His standard "one... twooooooooooo... three" is now followed by an adorable attempt to lift both legs at the same time. He loves attempting, and loves falling down in the attempt.

His book craze continues, and his vocabulary just keeps growing. The latest favorite word: "eesh" for shoe. He loves helping us put shoes on, wearing around our shoes, and putting shoes away in the closet. He also associates shoes with leaving the house, and as soon as shoes are on, he takes off towards the garage, pointing and yelling "car! car!"

His Gramma (my mom) is visiting for almost two weeks - stay tuned for "Adventures with Gramma!"

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Month 16: Comic Book Baby

I'm not sure when or how, but Daniel has learned sound effects.  We started noticing them in the past day or two - crashing sounds, or bonks, or motor-esque hums, or whatever... he sounds like a walking comic book!  

I just glanced over my last post and I think I may have understated his energy level.  That or it's tripled in the past two weeks.  He is absolutely hilarious to watch - he does laps around anything sitting still and stops running just long enough to look around and determine where he's running to next.  He almost never looks where he's running (lots of crashing) and almost always runs until exhaustion makes his knees buckle and he face-plants on the ground.  (How sleepy he is determines if the face-plant evokes tears or laughter).  

The really fun part about this is getting down on the ground and playing rough and tough with him.  Sounds like a no brainer, but as he's become more independent, he's able to play on his own, with us in the next room, or working on our own project in the same room.  Last night I was cooking dinner in the kitchen, and he was playing about ten feet away with his giant legos.  Then he hauled a few into the kitchen to play closer to me.  Then he stood up, came over and grabbed my hand, pulling me away from the stove and into his lego pile - he pulled me down until I sat with him, then he resumed play.  

This morning, I was editing some photos on the computer while he and Fernando played in the living room.  He came running, saying "ma ma!  ma ma!", wedged himself between me and the keyboard and pushed my legs until I stood up.  With one hand on each of my legs, he walked me into the living room where I sat down and he tackled me in a fit of giggles.  

There's something so special about him expressing a desire to play with us.  He hugs and kisses us... cuddles with us... wants to read with us... but there's a special bond that only develops through physical play - and a new closeness that ensues.  

Daniel is mastering a new skill: jumping!  He loves watching us jump then trying it on his own.  We all hold hands and jump together.  This morning, he climbed onto a stool and attempted to jump off the stool.  The result?  His first somersault/flip!  

Dancing is become even more of a favorite past time - largely due to the very physical nature of Daniel's dancing :)  There's lots of stomping, violent arm swinging, bouncing, and sometimes spinning.  He has favorite songs - a few specifics that always send him into delight dancing fits.  A few days ago, Fernando put on a techo version of the "Hokey Pokey" that he had just downloaded.  We started dancing (put your right arm in.... you put your right arm out...) and low and behold, Daniel was dancing along.  He put his arms in and shook them all about... then he did the HOKEY POKEY!  He had his arms up in the air and he was spinning around!  Apparently they have been dancing to the hokey pokey in daycare, so he had been practicing.  But we had so much fun dancing and spinning until we (read: Daniel) got super dizzy and crashed into a few walls!  Family dance time is the best.  

...and THAT's what it's all about!  (sorry... couldn't resist...)  

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Month 16: I Blinked

Seriously.  I blinked, and missed a month of blogging.  I suppose it's not the end of the world, but now my brain is scrambling to figure out exactly what I have already forgotten.  (And this picture is a few weeks old, but I couldn't NOT post it... one of my favorites...)

Here's the cliff notes of this past month in Daniel's life...

His vocabulary is exploding - well past the "average" vocabulary for his age, he has combined sign language (thank you, preschool) with words to communicate very effectively.  His favorite word/sign:  "more".  For a little man who loves to eat, this word is essential.  He caught me off guard late in his 14th month by finishing his dinner and looking up at me, saying and signing the word "more".  He signs please, eat, thank you (kind of), milk, and more.  He says diaper, ba ba, no-na (zona), more, blue, purple, apple (mah-pull), cracker (crack-oooo), uva (vah-oooo), milk, max (mah), book (boh), mama, dada, car (cah), ball, balloon (bah-oooo), agua, and a few more I can't think of right now.  

The latest word?  "No".  That one happened yesterday... I believe we're entering a whole new era ... 

Along with new words, the babbling has shifted into high gear - he sounds like a little asian dude.  We don't speak chinese, but his babbling sure sounds like he's fluent!  Inflections, run on sentences, etc.  It's the cutest thing ever. 

His last appointment put him in 90% percentile (weight) and 95% percentile (height).  He's still a big boy... very strong and... sturdy :)  Fernando and his dad nicknamed him the mini-Hulk - he is built like an oak and loves to wrestle, run, tackle, throw, and otherwise exert every ounce of energy during every minute of playtime.  

Aside from his daunting physical prowess, he is still extremely polite and helpful.  (I know, he's not two yet...) When we sing the clean up song, he hurries to help.  When he finds a piece of garbage, he brings it right to us.  When we ask him to sit down to put shoes on, he does it.  

He loves of reading continues to grow - every evening, when we're cleaning up from dinner, we suddenly realize Daniel is missing.  And every evening, we find him in his little toy corner, sitting in a pile of books, reading them to himself.  In Chinese.   :)  And every night at bedtime, we read a piece of his Bible (Genesis and Exodus have never been so fun) and then our favorite, "Goodnight Moon".  And speaking of sleep, he has become a blanket afficionado.  He loves them - loves playing with them and especially sleeping with them (which is exactly how I was as a kid). 

Potty-training is still a ways off, but last week Daniel started notifying us when he needs to be changed - he either says "poo poo" or "diaper" (bah-per :) and points us to the changing table.  It's not consistent yet, but it's definitely really early for a boy to start noticing diaper issues!  

It's still more fun every day - we haven't hit a stage yet that we don't like.  We are about to enter a new era in the life of Daniel - he will be an older brother sometime next year!  We have officially begun the process of adopting a baby from Ethiopia!  We'll have a blog up and running for that adventure too (in case you'd like to follow along).  For now, I'll just say that we felt ready for a second baby, but that biological wasn't the way we were supposed to go this time.  We couldn't be more excited about this next adventure in building our family - and we know that Daniel will be an amazing big brother!

More details coming soon, I promise! 

Friday, May 16, 2008

Month 14: Ketchup Date

Tonight, Daniel and I went on our first real dinner date by ourselves. To a restaurant, that is. We headed out the door with no agenda, just to drive until we saw something interesting. We contemplated Sonic (his new favorite treat is the Corn Dog), then passed a string of fast food chains, then considered Rubios (he is crazy about corn tortillas and beef), but ultimately we were wooed by the crimson neon and big-headed bird of Red Robin.

There are a lot of great reasons to go to Red Robin.

1) It's loud. If you have ever eaten out with a 14 month old, you know why this is good.
2) They have cool colored lamps all over the place, and for a boy obsessed with pointing to the "luz", this is advantageous.
3) There are balloons at the door for every child. Daniel loves touching balloons - and hitting them, hitting with them, and (strangely enough) kissing them. I know, it's weird.
4) They have a great Cobb salad, which is perfect for sharing with a hungry little man.
5) The people who dine there tend to be nice laid back folks who are easy to talk to. Tonight we sat next to a sweet couple from Sun City Grand who came all the way out here to be around kids and young families. Daniel loved them.

But the best reason to go to Red Robin:

6) They have great ketchup.

Yup. Giant bottles of original Heinz ketchup - no generic substitute. And it's the really big squeezable bottles that shoot powerful jets of ketchup into a beautiful mountain of red sugary goodness. Daniel, if I haven't mentioned it before, loves ketchup. I think he'd eat it for breakfast with a spoon if we let him. While we waited for the food I gave him a few fingertips of ketchup (since I forgot the graham crackers at home ... which reminds me - he said "cracker" today! No lie!)

He ate everything in sight, but only once it was dipped in ketchup. And since this was a special Mommy/Daniel date, I conceded to his ketchup wishes. It was a lovely meal. We chatted about the weather, the presidential election, and gas prices. We shared iced tea mixed with cranberry juice, and split the drink's orange wedge for dessert.

After dinner, we went to the park just to run around in the grass and kick a ball around. And after park time (during which Daniel rescued many a rock from the sand volleyball court) we transitioned directly into bath time. Naturally. At the end of bath time, I noticed that Daniel's fist was still clutched tightly around one of the rocks. Since it was squeaky clean and smelling of lavender soap, we decided to keep it - we named it Rocky.

Every good dinner/bath date ends with a kiss - and tonight was no exception. Fernando taught Daniel how to blow kisses (cutest thing EVER) and recently Daniel started making the "mmmah!" sound with each kiss. Tonight, before bed, I asked him for a kiss and he leaned in to plant one on me!  It was a very sweet moment - even though he has yet to learn how to close his mouth while kissing... :)  

It's been a good day.  

Friday, May 02, 2008

Month 14: Before I Forget

It's time once again, boys and girls, for yet another installment of "Before I Forget" because my memory is letting far too many small perfect details slip through the cracks. And it's exactly those seemingly insignificant details that add up to be absolutely everything. So, here goes.

When I'm 64 (and 79 and 96), I want to remember...

- How Daniel calls our cats Max and Mittens both "Mah".
- How Daniel calls all cats (and dogs) "Mah".
- How on the way home yesterday, Daniel called a herd of cows "Mah".
- How Daniel dances with more vigor daily - bending lower and swinging his left arm recklessly.
- How he's started cuddling more, and will seek us out to lay his head on our shoulders.
- How when he's hungry he'll sit on the floor and wait for me to join him (with a can of fruit, of course!)
- How he likes to sit in my lap when we read ... and how sometimes he'll prefer to read by himself.
- How he looks perfect in a tiny brown 'fro' wig and white sunglasses.
- How he picked out his own Lightening McQueen ballcap and didn't take it off all day.
- How he uses a fork when he eats ... sometimes two or three at a time.
- How when he's in the shower with me, he plays with his tiny shampoo and conditioner bottles. And holds onto the bench, stomping his feet just to hear the splashing noise.
- How he expects music to come from every laptop he sees.
- How hearing the word "No" causes him to cry harder than any bump on the head.
- How in the bath, if you put soap on his hands, he rubs them all over his belly.
- How he looks enormous next to an infant, and tiny next to an adult.
- How he plays basketball with the magnetic hoop and applauds himself each time he makes a basket.
- How he cries when Ava cries.
- How he sleeps on his knees with his backside up in the air.
- How when he's feeling sick, he strongly prefers to be held by me.
- How when he feels like being tickled, he throws himself on Fernando with reckless abandon.
- How he runs from room to room, laughing hysterically.
- How he carries around the tiny camping light like his own personal lantern.
- How he loves to carry around a toothbrush, chewing on it occasionally.
- How he helps me put wet clothes in the dryer, one by one.
- How when he's learning a word, he gets really close to my mouth and stares at my lips until he goes cross-eyed.
- How quickly hysterical laughter turns to sobbing when he's exhausted.
- How nothing feels better than a family hug.
- How he loves everyone, but loves us most.

The memories far exceed the space in this posting, and Daniel's rate of change far exceeds the capacity of my memory. This parenting thing is both tragic and wonderful - definitely bittersweet. And while it's almost impossible to enjoy the moment, missing it even while I'm in it, every day is an adventure and a lesson in not missing the 'now' at the expense of the future.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Month 14: Movie Moments

Tonight, Daniel and I shared a movie moment. You know those moments - the ones that feel as though there should be a soundtrack playing in the background. The kind of moments that make you feel as though your life is one giant romantic comedy movie trailer.

We got home late tonight after prayer service - it was nearly 9 p.m. Fernando was still at work, so Daniel and I came home to a messy house with no food (we got back from Texas five days ago and have managed to avoid the grocery store by living out of the freezer and pantry!). Pajama-clad, we found ourselves in the kitchen making his bedtime bottle and looking for a snack for Mommy.

We found a half-eaten can of peaches in the fridge from yesterday's lunch, so I grabbed a fork and speared a peach slice. Not to be left out, Daniel came over with his mouth open like a baby bird. So I sat down and shared my peaches. He started giggling, and sat down next to me, with his chubby little hand on my knee. We sat there for twenty minutes, in our pajamas on the kitchen floor, two hours past bedtime, eating peaches and laughing together. Daniel was just babbling away, pointing at things and talking my ear off, no doubt about his exciting day at school and how exactly he had gotten that big red bump on his head.

It was pure magic.

The half can of peaches didn't last long between the two of us, and it was getting late, so I did what any mother in my position would have done: I opened a can of pineapples.

Twenty more minutes of fruit sharing and giggling. I fed him some pineapple baby bird style - dropping it in his mouth from mine - which, by the way, is my favorite thing of all time. A little embarrassing to admit, but it's such a special ritual for us. For me, I guess. He doesn't kiss us yet, so it's as close as I get to a kiss. And lately, the baby bird routine has made Daniel laugh - it's impossible to resist. He sees me with food ready and he just throws his head back and laughs outloud, then leans in with that big old baby bird mouth wide open, usually going "aaahhhhhhh...." He laughs again after the transfer is complete. Seriously fun stuff.

Anyway. That was our movie moment of the night, one I imagine I'll hold close to my heart for all time. Long after Daniel refuses to be fed baby bird style, anyway. :)

Month 14: A Divine Appointment

It's an amazing thing - the joy and levity an infant can bring to a dark situation. Last week, my grandmother passed away suddenly. My mom's mom. One of the most amazing women I have ever had the privilege of loving.

The loss was a profound one, with Gramma leaving behind a stunned family at a loss for understanding and words. We booked some flights and headed for Texas.

The flight itself wasn't bad - the highlight was passing through security as we were selected "randomly" for additional screening. They went through our bags, and corraled us into a large plexiglass holding tank. Fernando was put in a large scanning machine, and I was patted down by a guard. Then, unbelievably, then asked that I stand Daniel up on the ground so they could pat him down. He giggled the whole time - apparently infant patting is kind of like tickling.

From the moment our plane touched down, there was no question that Daniel had a divine purpose on that trip. He brought such energy and youth to such a sad situation - exactly the kind of happiness Gramma would have wanted around.
The silver lining of most funerals is that it's a time for family to be together, and talk about old memories while making new ones. Last week was no exception, and Daniel had a ball spending time with a lot of family - his cousin Lucas, his aunt Stacey and uncle John, his grandparents, his great-grandparents, and so many other relatives we weren't expecting to see until Thanksgiving.

It was amazing how Daniel latched onto Mom and Dad - he really recognized them, seeking them out to play or just be held. He also latched onto their labrador retriever, Molly. It took a few days of him warming up to her but by the end, he shrieked with laughter as he dodged her wagging tail. (He also developed a newfound interest in cats which took Max & Mittens by surprise when we got home!)

It was amazing to spend five days with Daniel - no daycare - and watch how much he changed. His banana obsession continued, and he developed a newfound interest in cats (our two cats were in for a surprise upon our return to Phoenix). At our favorite Mexican place in town, Daniel made the biggest mess possible, ate the most beans and rice he could fit in that bulging little belly, and (drumroll please…) he ate with a fork – unassisted! Spoons still require a little coordination help.

My favorite memories of the trip are of him playing outside, in the Texas fields or dirt roads between our family’s houses. Usually still in his pjs, still with his rhino, we’d throw his crocks on him and let him go. He loved running up and down the dirt road, stopping to pick up rocks, or point to a bug on the ground. He loved sitting in my Gramma’s front yard garden, sorting rocks and touching her lawn ornaments. At one point I looked over and he had a giant glass ball up in the air … I heard Daniel yell “Ball!” and before I could get there, the ornament had come crashing down on the driveway, smashing into a hundred pieces. Thankfully, he wasn’t hurt and the ornament had no sentimental value!

He fell in love with my parents’ wind chimes, and would bolt for the backdoor every time it was open so he could grab the chimes and either bang them together or sway with them, scrunching his face up in anticipation of the loud noise!

The two other big events were Daniel’s 2nd hair cut, and an unfortunate bathtime experience. The haircut was necessary due to the humidity – Daniel’s poor shaggy head was constantly sweaty. So we let the hair lady cut it very short – shorter than it’s been so far. He instantly looked five years old and significantly chubbier! The transformation was amazing.

The second event (the unfortunate bathtime experience) was nothing short of a milestone in Daniel’s little life. Fernando was bathing him and decided to jump in the bath with him, as this particular bathtub is very slippery. About five minutes later, from down the hall, I hear him yelling “Carrie! Help!” Fearing the worst, I burst through the bathroom door to find my husband with a handful of … poop. Bath poop. Little yellow floaters. Apparently, Daniel had turned to him suddenly, grabbed his arm, looked into his eyes and said … “Uh-oh” and out came the poop.

Understandably I was in a tough spot – do I grab the camera or help Fernando? I turned to leave for the camera, but my loving husband was insistent that I relieve him of the handful of poop. Hilarious. It was Daniel’s first time … but I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Well, this posting breaks the record in length, but there was a lot to say, and to remember. Gramma was one of the biggest fans of this blog – she always said it made her feel like she was able to watch him grow up. So it seems fitting that this posting would contain all memories and funny stories that she would have wanted.

We love you Gramma!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Month 14: Off and Running. Literally.

This kid operates at the speed of light. He is in constant motion - sometimes I think just for the sake of motion. He occasionally (accidentally?) breaks into a run every now and then, his arms either in the T-Rex position, or wide open, as if hoping to take flight.

Even when he's sitting down he's still moving, absent-mindedly flapping his arms and legs, or shaking his head so hard he gets dizzy (something he enjoys immensely).

His mind is apparently moving at warp speed too - he wants to read everything in sight. He brings us his books, our books, electronics manuals, DVD and CD cases...anything that vaguely resembles a book. I think my favorite is when he selects a book that is too heavy for him to carry, and hauls it across the floor by a corner.

His vocabulary is increasing too - he now mimics new words, animals sounds (sheep and cow, specifically), and says "bah" for book, ball, and rock. This week he started saying "1, 2, 3" (although it sounds more like "uoh, ooo, eee..."). Oh - and he loves to say "na na" for banana - almost as much as he loves to eat them. He'll down an entire banana as a pre-meal appetizer. If anyone in a two block radius says the word "banana" he screams "na na!!" and bolts for the kitchen, pointing at the banana rack. Unbelievable.

As much as I hate the phrase "a boy's boy", Daniel definitely fits the bill... he's completely obsessed with rocks (and throwing them), bugs, dirt, and getting as dirty as humanly possible during a simple trip to the park. Needless to say, his bathwater turns impressive shades of brown. He loves playing catch, kicking a ball back and forth and even playing basketball with his mini hoop at preschool.

"Ball" is the word du jour, and he has an impressive ability to see balls everywhere. (Last week he was at the park and started yelling "bah! bah! bah!" and running towards a rock bed. We chased across the park to stop him, but once we got there, we realized there was a small pink ball imbedded in the rocks that was impossibly hard to see.)

He naps with as much vigor as he plays, crashing harder and faster than ever before. After a recent trip to IKEA during which he ran and played through every model room display, he fell asleep within ten seconds of being strapped in his car seat. No exaggeration.

All this rough and tumble play has shown us that Daniel definitely inherited my skin - he bruises easily, little bumps turn into red welts, little scratches turn into long white streaks, and his poor face turns beat red in the heat. His teeth are from Fernando though - the rate of entry, at least. We've lost track of what tooth came in when, and even how many are in - our best guess is somewhere around 13 or 14. Maybe more.

Lately, Daniel's favorite games include "scary daddy" (where Fernando simply hides and jumps out with a scary face), "chasing mommy" (I think you get the gist of that one), splashing in the tub, stacking and nesting toys, putting things inside containers, being upside down, climbing stair, and dancing. He loves to dance.

Well, this posting kind of turned into an all-over-the-board update, but I guess those aren't terrible once in a while.

Consider yourself updated!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Month 13: Vampires and Super Fast Slides

So maybe it wasn't a REAL vampire, but Daniel has officially been bitten. Twice. By a kid in his new classroom. My sweet little man - with teeth marks on his skin.

The interesting part about this whole scenario is actually the parental component - Fernando and I react in completely opposite ways to the biting. A few of my friends at work have young boys who have gone through the biting phase - both being bitten and being the biter. (Say that ten times fast.) So in a way, I halfway expected something like this to happen soon. While I'm not thrilled that he was bitten, I'm just glad he wasn't the biter.

Fernando had an entirely different take on the situation. His protective claws came out - in fact, I haven't seen him this angry in a long time. Either he's been watching too much Law and Order, or it's a result from having two younger sisters and looking out for them their whole life. After we were told about the first biting incident, Ferni had to take a long walk and a longer drive to cool off. To protect the family's privacy, we weren't told which child did the biting, and I'm glad. I'm nervous as to what might have happened to the child. Or the parents. (Or the parents' car).

He finally walked back in my office, and simply said, "We better never have a girl" and walked out. It's true - if he's this protective with a son, I cannot imagine what a sweet little girl would do to his nerves.

In happier news, we have been frequenting the local parks nearly every evening. The weather is beautiful, the fresh air is welcome (albeit packed full of allergens and pollution, thank you Phoenix), and the exercise is just enough to get Daniel good and tired (and dirty) before his nighttime bath. The slides are particularly fun, and with Daniel sitting between our legs, some of the slides go breathtakingly fast. Either that or I'm just getting older.

Something about a trip to the park is relaxing to all of us, taking our mind off work stress, and re-focusing us on the important stuff - each other. Sometimes we take balls and toys, sometimes we take dinner and eat in the grass or grill out, and sometimes, like tonight, we just roll up our sleeves and get dirty, playing in the sand and rocks.

I hope we never getting too busy or grown up to stop taking trips to the park.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Month 13: That Blasted Clock

No matter how much I try to enjoy each moment and focus on "the now" and whatever else everyone tells me, it doesn't help. The clock keeps moving forward, and Daniel keeps growing up. This picture blew me away, as suddenly and unexpectedly, he's big enough to play at the park with his friends.

This is his buddy Ava - they've been together since day one for him and week six for her - and until they're old enough to understand it, we consider them betrothed. Daniel followed her all over the park last week, tromping in his new kicks through grass, mulch, blacktop, and a few games of basketball. They played in the swings, with balls, in bubbles, and while eating hot dogs that we grilled with Ava's parents. Spring is here, and Summer is closing in fast - these beautiful evenings don't last long in Phoenix.

This week will be a big one for both Daniel and Ava - they're moving to the next classroom at preschool. It's a big change - naps on mats, eating at a table, playing outside on the playground - but their teachers think they're ready. Last week they visited a few times, checking out the surroundings and meeting his new classmates. I'm convinced the change is harder for the parents than the kids, but something about Daniel being in his first "big kid" environment is hard for me to swallow.

It's just confirms my theory that time is, in fact, speeding up.

Month 13: Nine, Nine, Nine, Nine...

... said the electronic book all the way home from Wal-Mart. We took a quick trip to buy him some more of his favorite things (books!) and Fernando decided to help Daniel learn his numbers. The book he selected has a page for each number, and a button that, when pressed, emits a lovely, soothing, sweet woman's voice saying that number. Daniel loves her already.

About a month ago, he developed an obsession with books. He'll walk straight past all of his toys and dive into his pile of books, either reading to himself as he turns pages, or fishing for a book to bring to us. He'll trek across the house to bring us books, one by one, or climb in our laps until we've read the whole pile. More than once, Fernando has laid down on the living room floor to rest, closed his eyes, and opened them to find Daniel squatting by his side, placing a book in his outstretched hand.

Speaking of squatting, Daniel has become a master-squatter. Those little thunder thighs are incredibly strong, and he'll hold the squatting position for an impressive amount of time - while reading an entire book, splashing in the tub, to pick up a snack on the floor (I know, I know...) or any other activity.

The squat combined with a few other trademark moves have developed into Daniel's dancing routine - most often performed while listening to Crazy Frog's "I Like To Move It, Move It!" Remix. He does the "bounce squat" usually, sometimes clapping or waving his hands. Our favorite is the "hump squat" where he grabs the side of the couch and, well, let's just say we hope he grows out of that dance move before his first high school dance.

Daniel's eating mostly adult food now, with a milk bottle twice a day. And as he discovers more and more wonderful foods, it's getting harder to get those veggies down with a smile. It's like, "Mom - I know that things like chocolate cake and cookies exist... why would I eat that piece of broccoli?!" But we are sneaky parents, and two days ago we discovered that adding lemon juice to any veggie (baby food or finger food) will trick our sweet baby boy into eating said vegetable. Tonight's veggies - lima beans - were a raving success.

I know this posting is already long, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention the other two milestones of this week: door knobs and jealousy. I was photographing my friend's twin babies, and Daniel was in the bedroom with Fernando to keep him out of the way. All of a sudden, the bedroom door opens, and his little head popped out, beaming with pride. As you can imagine, we'll need to get a baby gate or two soon... just "closing the door" is no longer enough of a barrier! The other milestone immediately followed the door opening. I was holding one of the two-month-old twins, and Daniel came closer to see. He looked at me, and at at the baby, and completely broke down crying. It was a different cry than I have heard before, and there was no question that he was upset at the sight of me holding a baby. I held the baby towards him so he could see and he (no kidding) smacked her in the face. Luckily, she has a two-year-old older brother, so she's used to rough play and her mom didn't freak out. But it was the first time I have seen Daniel react like that regarding me and another child. Of course it made me feel loved, but also a little nervous, as I'd prefer if he didn't get in the habit of smacking babies on the face.

Last thing... (promise!)... the photo I posted is from this week, while Daniel was taking a nap in Fernando's arms. We took him to the Science Center downtown, and while he's too young for the majority of it, there were quite a few areas that Daniel seemed to love. We explored the whole museum, then sat on the grass outside sharing a raspberry and vanilla sorbet, then Daniel crashed for a quick nap in Daddy's arms on a nearby bench. It was one of those perfect moments - a warm breeze, the air heavy with sweet spring, and a quiet minute to admire our angelic baby and his perfect little features. It's been a good month already.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Month 13: That Kind of Mom

Not sure when it happened, but we have crossed that invisible line from having a baby to having a toddler. Daniel has become a fun, interactive being - he questions, tests, experiments, seeks praise, explores, and seems to have a grand ole time doing all of it.

We've been spending more time at the park recently - letting him play with trees, grass, plants - yesterday, he noticed an ant for the first time. Bubbles have become a favorite - outside or inside. Daniel loves climbing anything, sliding, and swinging in the baby swings. We ran into a friend at the park and put our babies in the same baby swing, back to back. Pretty darn cute. (This pic is from a few weeks ago... but too cute not to post.)

Daniel has mastered the art of pointing to let us know what he wants, or just to hear us say it's name. Sometimes we'll go around an entire room, Daniel pointing at something, we'll say it's name, and he'll move on to another item. He's learning words too - in English and Spanish. Two weeks ago I said "Daniel, donde esta la luz?" and he pointed (repeatedly) to the lamp. He's almost got "cielo", "casa", and "zona" perfected too. HIs default word is always "otro" (it sounds more like "oto" when he says it) which means "other" in Spanish. This all started at his birthday party, when Fernando's mom carried him from balloon to balloon, saying "otro globo". From that day on, I was amazed at how quickly he picked up the concept of "another".

The kid is sprouting teeth like nobody's business - the past two days have been full of drooling and gum pain - poor little guy. I think he's working on #10 and #11. He does enjoy having his teeth brushed - we try to do it in the morning and last thing at night.

Easter passed in a blur - both Fernando and I were working all weekend, so Daniel spent some time during each day with his aunts. I love that they get time with him, and even more, I love that they enjoy it so much. It's funny how he seems to know his family. He's nervous with new people at church - adults that he rarely sees. He turns into a clingy little monkey. But with family - any family - he practically throws himself right at them. My parents came by earlier this month for a quick trip, and Daniel immediately latched onto them. It's been three months since he's even seen their faces, but you would have thought they lived next door. Especially my dad - Daniel claimed him as his own personal toy, and sought him out just to sit in his lap and rest on his chest. Heck - it melted MY heart - I can't imagine what Dad was feeling.

The most recent word du jour has been "ma ma", and while I'm not sure he totally grasps the label, it's nice to hear those little syllables fall out of his mouth on a more regular basis. I feel more connected to him than ever - more wanted and needed. I want to be the kind of mom he'll always need and want to be around. The kind that's good for advice in a tough situation, and good for a long hug after a bad day at school. The kind of mom that can "fix" his ailment, even when it's imaginary. I want him to learn from me that life can be fun, and to always look for the good in each situation - that humor is more than entertainment - it's a way of life. I want to be the kind of mom who won't car when grape juice spills on the carpet, who participates in food fights, and who laughs when she gets mooned by a passing car (which, consequently, happened yesterday. And I did laugh - all the way home). Above all, I want to be the kind of mom who sets an example of faith, of trusting God in every situation, and of always valuing people more than things.

This parenting gig is tough stuff - but I feel up for the challenge. Someone vented to me this week about how irritating it is when parents can't stop talking about their kids. How utterly boring it is to hear. How it's pointless to pour your life into your kids, as they're just going to grow up to be "more of us". After restraining myself from punching his lights out, I just said to call me after he was married with a child... that I wanted to hear him say the same thing then. It's just not possible to imagine before you've experienced it.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Month 12: A Billion Pennies

If I had a penny for every time I thought to myself "I couldn't possibly love Daniel more than I do in this moment", I'd be rich. I am absolutely blown away at what having a kid has done to me, and my ability to focus on something besides myself.

Fernando and I were talking about this last night - how as a person grows up, layers of selfishness get stripped away. (It's just a theory... humor me...) As babies and young kids, we are 100% focused on ourselves. As teenagers we're still selfish, but we've started to notice the world around us more - friends, love interests, maybe even family. As single adults, we might not realize it, but we're still very self-focused in that everything revolves around our plans, our schedule, our life. Once we're married, we learn to put another human before ourseleves, but even that doesn't compare to what happens after a baby is born.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that parents are better people than non-parents, I'm just saying that by necessity, your life is turned upside down in the pursuit of completely caring for another human being. It's fun and exciting and I wouldn't change a minute of it, but that kind of constant unwavering devotion is just not something that's asked of you before having a child. And surprisingly, I don't feel like I have lost any of myself in the process. If anything, I feel more myself than I ever have before - more at home in this role than any prior role.

Daniel's walking, by the way. Started a week after he turned one - he just decided it was time and took off across the room. Within two days he was very confident, and now strongly prefers walking to crawling. Sometimes he still gets excited and those little legs gain a little too much momentum, but I think that will happen for a while still.

Fernando's birthday was last weekend and we got him a giant camping tent (for 7 people so Daniel's pack-n-play fits!). We're going on our first family camping trip this Summer. I couldn't be more excited - Daniel loves the outdoors, sleeps very well in his travel crib, and is obsessed with the pet door on the tent. In and out, in and out.

Even more fun than watching Daniel's physical development is watching his mental growth - his personality is budding before our eyes. He has a great sense of humor - and has started doing things with the sole purpose of making us laugh: funny faces while eating, putting our mixing bowls on as hats, splashing huge in the tub. He is also extremely polite. If he drops something, he picks it up. If we ask him to bring us something and point to it, he goes and gets it and hands it over without question. He seems to derive a lot of joy from making us happy - helps us unload the dishwasher by handing us one plate at a time - will go through his entire lego bucket, handing us one lego at a time just to hear us say "thank you". His teachers at school say he's extremely polite - always shares - and never throws a fit if a toy gets taken away from him.

It's an amazing feeling - pride in your child - because of who they're becoming. My friend had his son's parent teacher conference yesterday, and the teacher had no complaints or corrections - just praises for a well-behaved little boy who was quickly becoming a class leader. Naturally, my friend was extremely proud of his son, and I can only imagine how that kind of praise makes a parent feel.

Fernando and I constantly pray for Daniel's character - that we are able to provide a strong foundation for him to be a man of God from an early age. That no matter what trials he comes up against in life, he will not waiver in his faith, and his character will be unshaken. Like the prophet he was named for - clear in his priorities, respectful to everyone, talented in his profession ... "This man Daniel ... has exceptional ability and is filled with divine knowledge and understanding. He can interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means."