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.