Sunday, January 27, 2008

Month 11: Lightbulbs and Little Fingers

Yes, you read that right. Lightbulbs. Or to be more exact, just one lightbulb - that's all it takes to burn the poop out of four tiny perfect little fingers.

It's actually my fault, which is the worst part of the whole ordeal. I was doing a photo shoot, so our torch lamp was on for extra lighting. Daniel crawled over to where I was kneeling, and I had the lamp on the floor. I started taking pictures of him as he crawled in my lap, and I would have seen him reaching for the bulb if there hadn't been a camera in my face. Sadly, I caught the exact moment when he touched the bulb and his sweet little face contorted in pain.

A piece of me broke in that moment and is never going to heal. I caused him pain. Because of something I did (or didn't do), his body suffered. This must be another one of those inevitable parental rites of passage - I imagine I should brace myself for more to come. But this first one was devastating.

We rushed him to cold water (the wrong thing to do, we later found out) and those tiny red blisters started to swell. Daniel cried new tears - a kind of pain I had never seen on his face. It only stopped when we put cold mayo on his fingers - a trick I had heard somewhere, and while it probably didn't help the healing, it distracted him enough to stop crying. Fernando took him into the doctor immediately, and we're currently watching for signs of fever, arm rash, or puss under the blisters (all five of which have grown to the size of small grapes).

Daniel's little hand stays bandaged with neosporin, gauze and tape. It's precious to watch him cope with a "mitten hand" and he's doing very well - eating, crawling, waving, and playing. It seems like the pain is gone, and it's just a matter of waiting for the blisters to heal.

From what I have read, there will be scarring, so I have a few years to invent a new, cooler story as to how this happened for Daniel to tell his friends when they see the scars. (And just between you and me, I'm thinking that perhaps in the new story, it won't be Mommy's fault...)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Month 10: A Parent's Place

It's happened. I have officially reached the "I can't remember my life before Daniel" stage. What in the world did I do with all that time?!

He is at a high-maintenance stage, no doubt, but it's also the absolute most fun we've ever had. He is a little ball of energy - a pit bull that just tears through the day with that classic combination of vigor and sticky hands. And when one of those sticky little hands reaches out to touch your face, the day's worry and stress simply evaporate.

Our roles as parents become more solidified daily (of course in the biological sense, they were pretty much solidified from day one). It's different now though - Daniel consistently responds to us with joy. Just walking in his room to get him after a nap, or a day at daycare - his smile is so big it about cracks his face, his little hands ball up into fists and his arms shake with excitement, and he crawls un-humanly fast to get to where we are. Eliciting that kind of reaction from another human being is a powerful thing - it's medicine to the soul.

It's pretty amazing how discipline doesn't affect Daniel's devotion to us. We're working hard to be consistent with our "no's" and with how we correct him. He responds well, and doesn't hesitate to come play with us affectionately right after we are stern with him. I suppose it's true, how children not only need discipline, but they also desire it so as to more completely know their place in the world.

Playtime has gotten more fun too - Daniel LOVES to be chased and startled. Lately, we've all spent a lot of our time on our knees, chasing each other around the couch, under the table, and around the recliner (usually 3 or 4 times). The fun is well worth the rugburn, and just in the past few days, Daniel has learned to chase US. It's fascinating to watch him learn to play by watching us play. Last night he was around the corner from me, and he'd poke his head out to see me and shriek in laughter, then quietly duck his head back in hiding, then poke it out again. Over and over... exactly like we do to him all the time.

And he's finally mastered "peek a boo". He started learning in Texas, when after a bath, he'd pull a towel over his face and then pull it back down for "peekaboo". But I guess he thought the game was just about raising his arms over his head, and dropping them... not about covering his face. (It was pretty cute though, to say "where's Daniel!?" and have him giggle and lift his arms up high and throw them down on his legs!)

A lot of things haven't changed - he's still big and strong and growing up way too fast. He still obsesses over fruit (strawberries and pineapples, mainly) and will only go to sleep if he has a rhino/turtle/giraffe ear safely in his mouth. He still breaks my heart daily, with that toothy/nose-scrunchy/eye-squinty grin, and we still marvel at how stinking handsome he is.

We're coming up on his one year birthday faster than I'd like to admit, and while it's exciting and certainly an occasion to celebrate, I can't help but feel sad at how quickly this first year went by. I find myself wishing we could all just hang out here - in this first year - just a little bit longer. I suppose that happens with each passing year... until around age 13 or 14, from what I'm told. :)

Month 10: Baby's First Christmas

Month 10 began with a flurry of fun, crazy events at the church where we work, then a mad dash to the airport so we'd make it to Texas before Christmas Eve. Daniel did remarkably well on the flights, thanks in part to so many friends who gave us priceless pearls of wisdom ("use your arms to make a 'seatbelt' and lock him in on your lap"..."feed him cheerios one by one for 30 minutes"..."save the best toys for the last 20 minutes of the flight"...). After two flights and one three-hour delay, all of us (with our embarrassing amount of luggage) arrived safely in Texas.

This year was special - my whole family gathered in one place to celebrate the holidays - 3 great grandparents, 2 grandparents, 4 parents, 2 infants, 2 aunts and uncles, 1 cousin, and a few dozen cows. Ah, the farm. The neatest part was Daniel getting to meet his cousin Lucas (7 months old) for the first time, and then watching the two of them play together like old buddies. The two babies were entirely doted upon and spoiled for ten solid days, and they brought an amazing lightness and life to the family gathering. There's just something magical about having babies around.

For Daniel, these ten days were jam-packed with new activities, developments and foods! Being able to spend all day every day with him is always incredible for us, as we get a front row seat to his every new move. Here's the short list of what all he learned in this amazing week and a half:

- Crawled SUPER fast, and mastered crawling on hard wood floors without slipping.
- Stood alone extremely easily, sometimes pulling up without the help of an object.
- Played our "1..2...3!" game and will consistently let go on the count of three, standing alone.
- Walked along things - window sills, couches - but always sideways!
- Took his first step by himself!
- Learned to crawl under things, and explore by ducking his head and maneuvering into small spaces.
- Learned a new laugh - like an "ssss" sound, and always very messy.
- Loved to be upside down - began throwing himself backwards to as so be upside down.
- Played "peekaboo!" and would consistently cover his face when we said "where's Daniel?!"
- Enjoyed shredding tissue paper and napkins into a pile of tiny little pieces.
- At the end of the trip, walked alone while pushing something across the floor (usually the high chair).
- CPR! No joke! Fernando would make an "o" with his mouth, and Daniel would put his mouth on top of Fernando's, and just wait there for a few minutes. It was a first step to a kiss, but looked a lot more like someone administering CPR...
- Solidified his first "communicative" word: Num num. He now approaches us and says "num num" when he's hungry, and when we want to give him food, we say "num num" and he repeats it, crawling to the kitchen.
- Maybe the most fun: Learned to crawl over to the piano, pull up, and reach up high to play the keys. If that isn't cute enough, he learned to dance along when he heard the sounds of the keys or someone singing!
- Learned to turn faucets on and off - at my gramma's house, he'd disappear for 20 seconds, and we'd suddenly hear the bath turn on!
- Discovered that his mattress in Texas was a LOT bouncier than his mattress in Arizona. He consequently learned to jump - and jump HIGH.
- Continued responding well to our "Daniel, no..." and even began shaking his head AT the no things: outlets, electronics, etc - before he'd even touched them.
- Began walking on his tip toes to reach higher up things.
- Mastered the art of a straw, making restaurant mealtimes much easier on us!

Like any respectable family Christmas, there was always lots of food - snacks, meals, and a few more snacks. Daniel tried a lot of new foods, and loved them all. His new treats include: Graham crackers, french bread end pieces, turkey, ham, bacon, waffles, english muffins, cream cheese & butter, mashed potatoes, whole baby carrots, beans & rice, boiled cheese. And his favorite: saltines (and oyster crackers). The night he had his first saltine, he grabbed a hold of a plastic pack of 2 saltines, and would not let it go. It stayed in his tight little fist through the entire meal, all the way home, during play time, through bath time, and all the way to the crib (where we finally confiscated the pack of crumbs in exchange for a bottle)!

We took lots of video and photos and enjoyed every minute of our sweet boy's first Christmas. One of the highlights was us taking Daniel out in one of the farm golf carts to explore the pasture. We clung to the golf cart for dear life (to say it was a bumpy ride would be a sore understatement) while Daniel shrieked with joy and put his little hands up. He met his first cow, and crawled around in his first field. I think he may have even sampled his first cow patty. It was truly a trip to remember, full of all the things trips should offer: relaxation, family, rest, laughter, exploration, adventure, and wonderful memories!