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!