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.