Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Arizona Christmas

In a way, we got the best of both worlds this year.

Because of our work schedules at church, we could not fly to Texas until the morning of Christmas Day. And due to the crazy service schedule on Christmas Eve, we celebrated with the Arizona family on December 23rd at our house.

It was a relaxed evening... lots of amazing food (thank you Gramma's recipes!) and festive music. The "smack the lightbulb" pens were a big hit, too. :)

This year, Daniel enjoyed every minute of opening presents. He had been eyeing the big blue shiny box for weeks, and watching him survive the suspense and enjoy the anticipation was so fun!

He opened it carefully, not ripping it too quickly. It was a big box of plastic play food - and could not have made him happier. He (very literally) rolled around in it, declaring "I'm swimming! I'm swimming!"

And because it's just the way he rolls, he started making giant lines of food, evenly spaced.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bilingual Schmilingual

So, raising a bilingual child hasn't been as easy as we expected. We are both bilingual, but it's much more difficult to figure out the balance (expecially when your relationship exists primarily in English).

Daniel knows some vocabulary words, and is able to follow short commands (but we suspect this has more to do with body language than actual verbal language).

Basically, we are failing in this area... and need to correct it quickly.

So, on the way to church today, we had to pull over so that a fire truck could fly by with it's lights and sirens on full blast.

Recognizing an opportunity, I said, "Daniel, the fire truck has to put out the fire with AGUA."

He repeated the sentence, understanding.

I said, "Daniel, it has to put out the FUEGO with AGUA."

He repeated the sentence, still understanding.

Finally, I said, "Daniel, VA A APAGAR EL FUEGO CON AGUA."

He said, "Oh yes! Fuego with agua!"

Elated, I said "Si!"

And Daniel said, "Oh - Zeee!! I LOVE Zeee! Z is for Zebra... D is for Daniel... A is for Ava... M is for Mommy... F is for Fernando, right Mommy?"

My victory was so very short-lived.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Just the 3 of us...

Some days are perfect in their simplicity.

Today, we enjoyed each other. I snuck out early for a run and Daniel and Fernando got to sleep in a little. We took our time getting ready and eventually piled into our faithful blue minivan, heading towards our favorite breakfast place.

On the way, Fernando reached over to hold my hand. Daniel saw the gesture, and asked for my other hand. So there I was, twisted into a strange position but loving every minute of holding my boys hands.

We got to The Good Egg and only had to wait a moment for a table. Daniel's heart was fixed on chocolate milk, blueberry pancakes and scrambled eggs. While we waited for our food, he stacked jelly containers into tall towers, counting them over and over. When the food came, he prayed a sweet, long prayer involving the phrase "we don't say 'oh my gosh' we only say 'oh my goodness' or 'holy moly'..." (!) Then we ate and ate until we couldn't eat anymore.

On the way home, we had to stop at Toys R Us because I had left something there a few days back while shopping for church Christmas presents. It is possibly my least favorite store in the world, and I was planning on running in quickly while the boys waited in the car.

No such luck. Daniel had a potty emergency and he and Fernando came racing in at the speed of light, but managed to make it in time to the bathroom. And there was no way we were going to get Daniel out of there quickly after that... he wanted to see every toy on every shelf. His little voice would raise in excitement - "Oohhhhh!!! Look at THAT!" - with each new aisle.

His love/hate relationship continues with the giant dinosaur in the cage (the one where you can press the button to make it stomp and roar). He is terrified and enthralled but now also yells, "No push the button!" every time he sees any dinosaur toy. He loved all the alphabet puzzles, singing through the song with each new puzzle, entertaining everyone around us.

We headed home for a nap that didn't happen, and a trip to Urgent Care for Fernando that resulted in a strep throat diagnosis.

The evening ended quietly, all of us together, taking care of each other. A non-descript day in most ways... but perfect in it's simplicity.

Rockstar in the Making

Yes, I think it's time we face the facts and start planning a realistic future for Daniel.

He is destined to be a rock star.

Daniel's first ever "progress report" from school identified him as "Word Bright" and "Music Bright", citing his strong alphabet, love of books and musical interest. His teachers said he is always the first on his feet when it's time to dance or sing - that he shows a definite musical inclination.

And it's true, at home he has taken a recent interest in singing... something he didn't seem interested in for a long time. He sings all the time - Old McDonald is the newest favorite. But Happy Birthday is holding steady in a close second place. He holds the microphone from our Rock Band Beatles game and carries it throughout the house, singing to no one in particular (with the cord trailing behind him room to room). My favorite are the songs he makes up on the spot: 'Daniel, sing the I Love Mommy song!' And he does.

Last week, we attended Daniel's first performance - his stage career began as a tiny angel in his preschool production. During "Jingle Bells", mass chaos ensued. But during "Go Tell It On the Mountain", Daniel came to the front of the stage, and with the most focused look I have ever seen, sang every word and did every motion... it was beyond adorable.

We continued my family's proud tradition of technology at school functions (my parents' friends used to joke that "ABC, NBC and CBS had arrived" when my family came to dance recitals). Daniel's TK, Mema and Papa attended the event as well, also packing cameras, tripods and gear of every sort.

Daniel was beyond thrilled to see us in the audience, almost running off the stage a few times to come hug us. He yelled "That's my Mommy! My Daddy! Look - that's my MommyDaddy!" He and Ava looked adorable as angels, and stood together during the first song, jingling in unison.

After the show, we visited Daniel's new classroom for a quick "cookies & lemonade" party and had fun taking a few photos and letting Daniel show us his favorite parts of the room, including the fireplace/hearth area. (Which is apparently very romantic for little Christmas angels. We weren't trying for a kiss picture... but when Daniel went to kiss Ava's cheek, she kind of turned her head. That excuse will only last another year or two.)

Christmas is days away... but thanks to Daniel's little vocal chords (and rousing yet constantly changing renditions of "Rudolph") the Christmas spirit is already in full swing!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Silver Bells

It's mid-December, and the craziness of the season is upon us. It's so easy to get swept away in what needs to get done at the expense of what's right in front of our eyes: a 2 year old who desperately wants all of our attention.

He is jealous for us - often slowly
moving his head in between ours during conversations just to say "Hi!" or even "I want to talk too!"

He craves our every waking minute, often grabbing our hands and quite literally dragging us away from things - cooking, sitting at a computer, cleaning - to come play in his room. There isn't a bigger wake up call than realizing that I have allowed something trivial to take a precious moment hostage. I know all too well how unbelievably fast he's changing and growing and how short each stage actually is.

So, I'm trying to keep my priorities straight this Christmas. No matter what I'm doing, it can be stopped for Daniel. Stoves can be turned off and email can wait. The decision isn't always easy in the moment, but the memory it yields is always far more rewarding than the checklist item I abandoned.

It's already been a fun start to the holidays... fun Christmas photos, a cookie making session with a Texas cookie cutter and long horns, lots of new songs (read: Daniel/Mommy/Daddy the Red Nosed Reindeer), a beautiful tree that has to be literally hit from time to time in order to keep all the lights on, and nightly trips to the neighbors' houses to admire their lawn light creations (in the absence of our own).

Maybe my favorite memory this season has been Daniel's first request of Santa. He was missing 2 pieces to his wooden alphabet puzzle and we couldn't find them. Daniel said (toward the ceiling), "Santa, please bring me the G and the Q and put them right over there," as he gestured toward the counter. Fernando said, "Daniel, Santa can bring you lots of letters!" But Daniel was insistent: "No, I want the G and the Q. Only two letters. Santa bring them and put them right over there."

For a two year old, he's fairly practical.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


A few little glimpses into our charmed daily life for which I am both undeserving and eternally grateful.

A very irritated Daniel in the parking lot when a car alarm would not shut off: "Choo choo train, shh! Be quiet! Other cars are sleeping!"

Our new favorite mode of eating meals... at our little coffee tables, me sitting on the floor and Daniel on his green stool... his arm around my neck and mine around his waist. Firmly hugging through the entire meal, only stopping to "cheers" our drink or share our bites.

Daniel's dinner prayer 12 hours after a pancake breakfast and 1 hour after a trip to PetSmart: "Dear Jesus, thank you for the birds, the pigs, the snakes, the fishies, the Christmas tree, the pizza, the orange juice, the pancakes and the movie. Amen."

One morning while helping Daniel get dressed in front of the mirror, I was buttoning his shirt
and he grabbed my arms around his neck and said, "I love your arms... I love your shoulders... I love your tummy... I love your elbows!" (I think trying to (unsuccessfully) quote "Through and Through", one of his bedtime books).

His very grown-up phrases... "How Bout..." (How bout this one? How bout your turn? How bout a cookie?) "You're right, Daddy - that's a letter B!"

The sweetest of all Daniels is the "just woke up" version. Belly sticking out... puffy face... hair in every possible direction... and usually very grumpy. The best is when he rubs his eyes and tells us "My eyes are broken..." and after a few minutes of rubbing, he says, "There - I fixed it."

Daniel's submission to our logical tricks: "I sleepy too!" "I tired too!" ("Boy, you've just been reverse-psychologied!")

The continuing adventure of potty-training. We are down to only a pull-up at night and naps at home - he's pull-up free at preschool! But he still needs help pulling his pants back up and... well... with wiping. Occasionally he will hollar from the bathroom, "I need help! My booty is yucky!" Priceless.

Daniel's imagination is taking flight. He finds animal shapes in the clouds. He pretends to be different animals and more recently, pretends to eat and share food. He will describe what he's about to eat, take a pretend bite, then describe how it was. Most often, it's a "blue happy birthday cake" that he's eating. Or blue candy.

He has also assigned us all favorite colors: Daniel - blue, Ava - pink, Daddy - green, Mommy -red. I asked for blue, but he gave me red. TK - yellow, Quito and Jesus - orange, Mema and Baby Sister - purple, Cookie Monster and Papa - black. Everything relates to these colors now - stop lights are red for Mommy, green for Daddy and yellow for TK. And last week, he insisted on us making Mema a purple birthday cake for her birthday (frozen blueberries + yellow cake mix = purple cake). He refused to try a bite until Mema has a piece - "That's Mema's purple cake!"

I love how instead of saying "I don't want to" or "I am not" Daniel simply says "I not!" in the whiniest (and most precious) voice possible.

Often when Fernando and I are hugging, Daniel will run up to us, requesting a "family hug". He either wriggles his way in the middle of our legs or we pick him up and attempt not to knock our heads together while giving a big squeeze.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's Easy as A-B-C

Daniel mastered his upper case letters earlier this year, and is still working on his lower case letters (almost there!)

But over the past month, a new phenomenon has captured his attention: Spelling! He loves to create words (or "build a word" as they say on Word World, his new favorite show...) and uses his favorite wooden alphabet puzzle constantly.

His repertoire includes CAT, COW, PIG, BOY, HI, UP, BALL, MEN, and STAR. He's close on "AVA" but still shaky on "DANIEL".

Frequently we'll find Daniel in his room, surrounded by one very long line of all of his letters and other miscellaneous puzzle pieces - I can't even explain how encouraging it is to see how much he loves just playing with words and letters. Sometimes it's productive play (spelling, etc), and sometimes it's just fun with letters.

He adores the show "Word World" and constantly wants to "build a word". After watching an episode involving the duck character, he ran to his room to "build the word duck". We created the word, and I thought it would be fun to add a little something extra. So I added the word "My" above the duck...

Me: "Look Daniel! It says 'my duck' - it's your duck!"
Daniel: "No Mommy - it's MY duck."
Me: "Right - that says 'my'..."
Daniel: "No Mommy - it's not your duck, it's my duck."
Me: "Honey, it is your duck..."
Daniel: "That say 'your'?"
Me: "No, it says 'my'. Nevermind. Give me those back... we'll spell 'cat' instead."

Open Invitation

Daniel needs a sibling - pronto!

He delights in playmates, preferring company to solitude. He asks for his friends and teachers by name before and after school. And it is virtually impossible to do housework while at home with him - those big brown eyes imploring you to "Come on, Mommy! Come play in my room!" What dishes?!

We play blocks (making straight lines, towers or walls), dominoes (making stair and house formations), drawing games (usually him telling me what characters and animals to draw), happy birthday games (us putting things on our heads like a candle on a "happy birthday cake" and singing to each other, alphabet games (drawing letters, flashcards, practicing sounds, singing ABCs), and about 12 variations of hide & seek and chase. He still loves to be scared!

If we are unavailable to play for some reason, Daniel resorts to the cats. Yesterday I actually caught him trying to put a hand puppet on a sleeping Mittens. He lays on his stomach to face Max, and rolls cat toys towards him gently... or not so gently. Occasionally, he shoves books in their face to get them to read, and frequently invites them to come play in his room or in his tent.

Today on the way to school, Daniel looked up at the sun and said, "Sun, do you want to go to school too? Come here, sun! Come with me." (And he proceeded to reach towards it, clucking softly and rubbing his fingers together as if he were calling the cats.) Holy precious.

Adding another child will definitely be a challenge in a lot of ways - I know the adjustment will not be minor. But the benefit of having a "live in" peer and playmate will far outweigh the initial challenges. (And the cats will finally be able to nap in peace!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tis the Season

Christmas came early this year. At least, the tree did.

On a recent day off we decided to get a jump on the season and put our family tree up - and I'm so glad we did. The amount of warmth and comfort it brings to our home is unbelievable. Daniel loves it (and in particular the large orange beaded bird clip ornament). He likes to wake up early and lay with us on the couch to gaze at the lit tree in silence.

He has taken a new chore upon himself - turning the tree on each day when we come home and turning it off as we leave the house. The button is behind the tree, so Daniel lays on his stomach and army crawls his way in. I don't think I'll ever forget the sight of his little backside and legs coming out from under that thing!

We have started watching Christmas movies (Elf: perfect. Rudolph: more violent than I remembered) and singing Christmas songs (Jingle Bells: fun. Rudolph: Daniel's favorite). He loves pointing out "Santa Craus" everywhere we go, along with snowmen, rudolph, and his favorite: Christmas trees.

Christmas has always been special in my family - literally the most wonderful time of the year. The anticipation is always the best part, and this year we carved out a few extra weeks to get good and excited!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Batman, Prego & the Mexican Revolutionary

Another Halloween has come and gone, if you couldn't already tell by that title.

Daniel donned an adorable Batman costume, mistaking his black arm cuffs for fish hand puppets and singing "swimming in the water" for the first 20 minutes of being Batman. Every photo of him involves a sucker - that's just what it took to get him camera happy - and I make no apologies for my blatant bribery.

While Daniel and I were outside playing and taking photos, Fernando appeared in the doorway in HIS superhero costume - a grown man version of Superman, complete with the cape, belt and tights. It was definitely one of the most memorable moments of the year, and my two superheroes proceeded to race around the backyard faster than speeding bullets. Or at least as fast as their constricting spandex and floppy shoe covers would let them.

After the church tailgate party, we hosted yet another "Amaro Family Halloween" at our house, and Daniel's Mema (Tinkerbell), Papa (Peter Pan with hints of Robin Hood) and TK came over to celebrate with food, candy and more food. Fernando changed into his REAL costume... a (really realistic) Mexican revolutionary. Complete with fake mostache. Which looked must better than I expected.

And I stuffed a pillow into a big shirt and became a metaphor for our sweet baby girl we're hoping to bring home soon. But the costume was too impressive - I posted a photo and got quite a few emails telling me how beautiful I look pregnant!

Happy Halloween... maybe by next year Daniel will grow into the Harry Potter costume we got him last year!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

B E A utiful.

Daniel learns new words all the time. Some surprise me (vitamin?!), some shock me (goodness!?) and some just make me laugh (coconut?!).

But the best words are the ones that come out of left field and completely melt me to the core.

We recently purchased "Wall-E" and have been watching pieces of it every day. He was riveted from the beginning, despite the lack of dialogue. When the girl robot "Eve" appeared for the first time, we told Daniel that it was Wall-E's friend. He shook his head firmly and told us, "No, that's a penguin." It took ten minutes of debating before he would accept that the penguin was also Wall-E's friend.

But I digress.

There's a scene in the middle where the two robots swirl and play together in space, leaving long graceful trails of color behind them. While watching this scene, Daniel announced, "Oh my goodness... that's beautiful!" Fernando and I looked at each other in amazement.

Something about the sound of that little voice saying "beautiful" just slays me. It's clunky and awkward, over-pronounced and congested. And it's beyond priceless.

That evening, he walked into his room, pointed to his cars and said loudly to no one in particular, "Look at all the beautiful cars!" And since then, it's been incorporated into his daily rotation of words. Last week, I tried to convince him to tell me, "Mommy, you're beautiful!"... but he would only said "I'm beautiful, too!"

The plants in our backyard are currently struggling to survive transplant shock, and Daniel likes to water them and take care of them. Two hibiscus plants just today produced gorgeous blooms, and Daniel smelled each one, pronouncing them "beautiful". This picture is him smelling one of the flowers. (We also had to teach him not to tear the flowers off the plants... but that is an issue for another blog post!)

I knew vocabulary acquisition would be fun and exciting, but I didn't expect it to be this... beautiful!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Little Things

It's the little things that add up (all too quickly) and amount to the passing of a LOT of time.

It is entirely unfair how little control I have over how fast it all goes. In some desperate way, this blog has become my attempt to stop time and preserve the memories I imagine myself reading compulsively once Daniel has grown up and moved out. Come to think of it, that's why I obsess over photography the way I do.

But I digress. Back to "the little things" we're enjoying these days...

Big Brother. For the most part, Daniel ignores the little black baby dolls family and friends have gotten him to prepare him for his little sister. But last week, he emerged from the nursery carrying one in his arms tenderly. He held her like a prized possession, rocking her gently, and whispering "Shh, shh... I got you. It's ok... I got you." About 30 seconds later he chunked her across the room, but I'm choosing to dwell on the beautiful brother/sister moment they shared a moment earlier.

Future Artist. Two days ago, Fernando called me from home to warn me that Daniel had had an accident. I immediately feared the worst (images of broken bones and poop stains on the carpet flashed before my eyes). Apparently Daniel went to the kitchen, opened a drawer and extracted the biggest black sharpie we own. He then proceeded to color his arms, his feet, his legs, the insides of both nostrils, a Hitler-esque moustache AND giant sweeping black circles on the arm of our white couch. I'm not sure what we were more concerned with: the amount of sharpie fumes he inhaled while decorating his nostrils or the fact that we will have to permanently keep an orange throw over the right couch arm forever. I'm just surprised it took him 2.5 years to encounter a sharpie.

Chatterbox. His vocabulary is just amazing for his age. We continue to get comments everywhere we go as random people hear him chattering away about everything and the kitchen sink. My favorite thing lately has been his preference for the word "big" over "little" or "baby". While we're eating, he'll point to my food and say, "Mommy take a baby bite but Daniel takes a BIG bite!" Or if we offer a little of something ("Do you want a little snack?") he will ask for more ("No little snack... I want BIG snack!")

I love how he says "lotta lotta" when he wants a lot of something. I will be pouring a cup of milk (which, by the way, he now pronounces "meelk") and he will say, "Mommy I want a lotta lotta meelk please!"

Explorer. Every night, either Fernando or I will lay with Daniel for a little while after the lights are turned off. Sometimes we fall asleep there, other times, we just stay long enough for Daniel to wind down and get nice and sleepy. The other night Fernando was laying with a very fidgety Daniel who kept touching Fernando's face in the dark, feeling each of his features. When he got to his nose, he suddenly stuck his finger really far into Fernando's nostril and declared loudly, "Daddy, you got boogars!" Painful, yes. Priceless, definitely.

Bible Scholar. He is in preschool most days of the week, and for the most part, I think it's been great for him. He's amazing with his peers, does not display separation anxiety, excels in academic areas, and looks forward to the day's activities. His favorite day is Wednesday because of the chapel service he gets to attend. On the way to school each Wednesday, he practically chants from the backseat: "You ready to have fun? I ready to have fun!" He loves the puppets that are used (Milo the Snail especially), the songs and the memory verses. He can recite, "God made me, Psalm 139:14". Except he says Psalm 149:16. No worries.

He is Perfect. Brilliant. Sweet. Strong. Hilarious. Silly. Smart. Tender.

Best of all... he's mine.

Bottomless Pit

Daniel continues to be a fan of eating. He has at least one hollow leg, and regularly out-eats me at many a meal.

Sometime this month, we passed into the era of the apple, too (goodbye, bananas!). He will carry his little seat around to the kitchen counter, climb up so he can find the fruit bowl, and help himself to an apple (which ends up getting carted all over the house for the following hour). He will eat fruit to it's tiniest core - leaving seeds and a stem, basically.

And no matter how much he eats, he just gets skinnier. (Too bad that trend stops before adulthood - I wouldn't mind having that problem!) He's suddenly taller and lankier than ever and has even begun experiencing growing pains. The other night we noticed him tossing and turning restlessly, whimpering and crying in a state of half-sleep. He kept pointing to his legs, asking me to "fix it". After a little baby tylenol, he fell back into a deep sleep.

Daniel's interest in eating has led to an even greater curiosity about what happens in the kitchen. He loves helping me cook, and prides himself in being a part of the process. He relishes the textures and smells, particularly cracking eggs and washing strawberries.

Yesterday, we took him to the movies to see "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs", thinking he'd love seeing all that crazy big food falling from the sky. He did, but even a cartoon about food got a little intense at times, so we took turns taking him outside. Daniel shushed us a few times when we were talking in the theatre... and even scolded me for running. He apparently has a promising future as a movie theatre employee!

Our schedule has become a series of small meals, as three simply aren't enough for the ravenous beast.

After a day at preschool: "Hi Mommy!! I hungry!"
First thing after a nap: "I have a good nap! I hungry!"
On the way home from a restaurant: "Daddy... I hungry!"

I didn't realize the "eat you out of house and home" stage started this early!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Our New Room: The Backyard

How we survived four years in our home without a backyard is a mystery to me... but thankfully, those four years have come to an end!

We now have a beautiful Arizona backyard - complete with fake grass! (This is Phoenix, after all). We have an extended patio, 4 trees, 20 plants, a section for a small vegetable garden, 1 inch deep decorative rock, a bunch of boulders and a huge section of lush green grass that will never need watering or mowing!

By February, we'll have a "splash pad" installed in one corner of the backyard, which is a more affordable (and safer) water option than a pool. A lot of public parks and malls have them here - Daniel loves them, and I love the safety aspect.

Having a backyard has been wonderful so far - it feels like an addition to the house. Daniel loves playing outside and has become an expert at somersaults in the grass.

We have water fights with the hose and sprinkler, practice throwing and catching balls, wrestle until we're out of breath and even take care of the new plants together - Daniel loves to carefully pour water on each one. He's also an expert at walking the sectional curbing like a balance beam.

As soon as we buy a grill and a table set, we plan on cooking and eating most of our dinners outside as well.

It really is the perfect way to unwind at the end of the day - barefoot out back, breathing fresh air and watching the sun set.

Hooray for backyards!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

I Know What It's NOT

Today, I noticed an interesting development in Daniel's logical processes.

Yes, I'm the nerd mom who really (really) enjoys watching for patterns and trends in his language acquisition. I was amazed when tenses emerged without overt prompting, and even more amazed when plural forms (and even irregular conjugations!) appeared seemingly overnight. Just incredible.

The most recent development seems to have more to do with logic than language - but it's interesting none the less.

Today after preschool, Daniel was given a "dum-dum" sucker. (The director of his preschool, like all accomplished childcare workers, knows the way to kids' hearts - she keeps a candy jar in her office). Daniel ripped the wrapper off and declared loudly, "Mommy - look! I have a blue candy!"

Then, without anyone asking, he began to list all the colors the candy was not: "It's not a red candy. It's not a lellow candy. It's not a green candy. It's not a oh-jun (orange) candy. It's not a pink candy. It's a BLUE candy."

Which reminded me that a few days ago, he resisted me trying to give a new name to his stuffed animal - a yellow version of his favorite green turtle, Diego.

Me: "Daniel, here is your new turtle! Her name can be Cali or Sandy! Which do you like?"
Daniel: "No, Mommy. This Diego. This Lellow Diego. Her not Cali. Her not Sandy. This Diego." And throughout the following days, he referred to the toy as "Diego, not Sandy, not Cali".

Last week, when we introduced an evening vitamin, he refused to call it a vitamin. "This candy. This not vitamin." Tonight, I handed him the vitamin without saying anything and he declared, "This not vitamin! This candy!"

It's interesting, is all.

The Tiny Turd

Well, he finally did it. He happily pooped in the potty on his own accord.

This may seem silly, and even petty. And the me of a few years back, the pre-child me, probably would have scoffed at reading a blog posting like this. "Who would possibly waste oxygen and energy talking about her child's excretions?! Pathetic!"

But the me of now, the me-mom-of-a-2-year-old-boy was thrilled nearly to tears (I kid you not) to see that tiniest of turds floating in the toilet.

And I am only slightly ashamed to admit the method: Blatant Bribery.

Daniel has been successfully going #1 for a while now in the potty... when he doesn't wear a diaper. (He is smart enough to know he can use a diaper. He is just lazy. Your kid might be ready to use a potty when they're smart enough to say, "Mommy, I go poopie. Can I have a new diaper please?")

But #2 has been a struggle. He has been afraid of it - and will "hold it all in" in order not to have to try.

Tonight, we introduced "potty snacks" and within three tries, Daniel had successfully (with a HUGE grin on his face) pooped in the potty.

That kid would move mountains for a snack. Tiny. Brown. Mountains.

Update: He is officially potty-trained, just one week later! He loves his spiderman and "lightming nacqueen" undies, and does well at home and at school. Diapers are only for sleeping now. And I had never noticed what a tiny butt he has until there wasn't a diaper filling out his pants!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Texan Tales of Troughs

Our latest adventure to Texas was an (all too short) five day trip to the Farm. It was wonderful in every way, and even though we found ourselves in the heat of the Summer, we found lots of creative ways of staying cool!

The most memorable of which was a cattle trough my dad cleaned out and filled up - it was our makeshift backyard pool - and it worked beautifully! Daniel loved it. We also hit up the local water park twice during our trip. Designed for young families, it was perfect for Daniel's age and energy level. There were slides, climbing structures, a lazy river and fountains galore.

We also got creative with a bunch of dollar store water guns (and 2 big green water hoses) for an hour of screaming, running, and retaliation. Even Grampa got in on the fun :) And you can imagine why there are no fancy photos of this particular occasion!

Daniel was able to spend quality time with some of his favorite people:

Gramma: Daniel's plaything for five days. He hauled her around by her hand, practicing being bossy.
Tex: Provider of all fun farm items. See: Appendix A: Cattle Trough. Appendix B: Tractors.
Grampa: They spoke their own language, almost literally. Those two existed in their own bubble, and communicated on their own level. It was precious.
Mema: She, possibly the wisest of all women, knows how to get a toddler to do something. (The answer: Tell him not to do it. For example, "Daniel don't you touch my toes!" Hilarious.)
Molly: The very senior labrador retriever who obeys Daniel's commands better than those of any adult on the farm.

The days passed all too quickly, full of ping pong, massage chairs, golf cart rides, harmonica concerts and a very special blender in the kitchen.

We can't wait until Christmas!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Captain Consideration

It's a new era, alright. Daniel was never particularly inconsiderate towards us, but he has been party to the "I'm a toddler - the world revolves around me" syndrome.

Out of the blue, he has turned into Captain Consideration.

When we sneeze, instead of saying "bless you", he urgently asks if we are ok: "Mommy! You ok?!"

He constantly invites us to play with him. It's like something clicked in his brain that we don't always have to be with him, and he needs to invite us. And let me tell you - it's absolutely irresistable when he interrupts chores with those big brown eyes... "Mommy, you want to play too? Ok! Hold me hand..." and he drags me off to his room to play.

When we are at the dinner table, if he is done before us and goes to play, he approaches the table every three minutes and very politely asks each of us: "Mommy, you all done? You want to play cars too? Daddy, you all done? You want to play?"

When he plays with a toy, he insists on giving one to us as well. He is intent on making sure we have as much or more in our hands as he has in his. If we set it down - he runs over and "re-gifts" it to us: "Mommy, here. This mommy's toy... and this Daniel's toy." He even gives us Zona from time to time - and she's worth the world to him.

He congratulates us constantly - I'm sure it's because we praise his every effort. If we are helping him spell letters, he'll turn to us beaming: "Mommy! You DID it! Yay!" The most recent episode of this happened at the Wal-Mart Customer Service Counter. He was spelling "Customer Service" and I was repeating each letter. After a very loud congratulations from him to me, a few of the people in line even turned, laughing, and applauded my spelling efforts. Nice.

He made a huge mess in the bathtub the other night (which he had to help clean up). But the next morning he ran to the tub, saw it was clean, and turned to me: "Mommy! You clean it! Good job!" (My favorite: Sometimes he'll walk in on us using the toilet, and no doubt as a reflection of our potty training efforts with him, he'll "high-five" us and congratulate us on the effort. Hilarious.)

And maybe the sweetest development has been his sympathetic tendencies. Last night I banged my knee in the garage and it kind of knocked the wind out of me. I was bent over, trying not to a) cuss or b) cry... and Daniel ran up to me: "Mommy! You ok?! Mommy! What happen?!" I told him I got an ouchie, and he immediately dropped to his knees, stood up and said "My got ouchie too!"

Ready for the kicker? He grabbed my hand, led me inside and said, "We got ouchie together."

Melt me.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

"It's not WHAT you say...'s how you say it."

As Daniel's vocabulary continues to explode, I have noticed that what brings me the most joy (or laughter, depending on the situation) is not so much the new words he can say, but the pronunciations that are evolving over time.

Here is a short list of some of my favorites:

3, 4, 5: Inexplicably, these previously correct numbers have become: "Threef, Fourf, Fife"
"Hold Me Hand" ... I will be sad the day he fixes this.
"Mommy, wha-you doooing?" He delivers this question with a HEAVY Irish accent.
Orange: "O-Jun"
Elephant: "Epotent"
Blueberries: "Boo-berries"
Harmonica: "Mon-ca"
"I gone get you!" In that perfect little sing-song voice... when he wants to be chased.
"Ah - more!" Somehow, these two syllables became permanently linked in Daniel's mind.
MommyDaddy (When he's crying, we apparently become one person to him...!)
"I got TWO" When he discovers 2 of his bedtime animals at the same time... this is a rare treat.
Cracker: "Crackter"
"That's a BIG one..." Regarding anything and everything larger than Daniel expected.
Lightning: "Lightmeen" (Usually followed by "That's a BIG lightmeen!")
"You're Mine" / "I'm Yours": Wrestling phrases used by both father & son.
"I'm Mine": Wrestling phrase used by Daniel when he gets confused.
Chuckie Cheese: "Chuckie Chickie"
"It's funny" or "That silly" with his super cheesy, squinty laugh.
"My do it!" Usually about getting into the car seat. Sometimes about picking a boogar.
Blanket: "Blankeen"
Helicopter: "Hepicopter"
"Listen... Shh, Listen!" He is always silencing us to hear what's in the background.
"Vrilll": What he thinks the letter "V" sounds like. Don't ask.
Stuck: His favorite verb. "It's stucking!"
Cereal: "See-rolls" (Always plural).
Here It Comes: (in sing song) "Heeee Cubbs!"
Movie: "Moomie"
Nothing: Nuffing! (What are you doing, Daniel? Um...Nuffing!")
"Cheers!" "Bing!" (Since our glasses don't really clink, we have to make the noise ourselves!)
Clean Up Song: "Cwean Crup, Cwean Crup, Everybody Everywhere...!"
"Moe Ghen": More Again... As in, play that tractor scene of Cars "moe ghen" :)
"Togeder": I love that this word has entered his vocabulary.
Spoon: "Poon". Until tonight, when he finally got the "SP" nailed. With emphasis!
His Name: "Dano Maro" :)

I could go on forever! If we ask him, "Daniel, what are you doing?" He always conjugates his answers twice, including the word "doing": "I doing the eating the cereal!" It's fun to hear how he's acquiring language, piece by piece.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Gentle Giant No More

So far, Daniel has been the gentle giant. He has never been the aggressor at preschool and in fact, is usually the recipient of bullying in the classroom. He has been bitten and pushed and has had many a toy stolen from his eager little hands.

All that changed this week: Daniel had his first "really bad week" at daycare. Sad, but true. His sweet teachers (while attempting to be polite) let us know in no uncertain terms that Daniel did not do very well with his peers throughout the week. He became aggressive - pushing kids and stealing toys. Throwing tantrums, crying and whining a lot. And almost never sleeping at naptime.

My theory is that the shift happened for two reasons:

1) Daniel finally realized he was (without question) the largest and strongest kid in the room. This has been the case since day one, but it's taken him a while to catch onto this fact. I know that bullies become bullies because they are bullied (say that a few times quickly) but it's still sad to watch it happen. We're trying to figure out how to stop the aggression before it becomes his mode of operation.

2) I think Daniel was, in part, acting out because of the crazy schedule we had at home this week. I worked every night this week, but pulled him out of school an hour early so I could have an hour with them, then left, and barely got home in time to tuck him in. It was an emotional week for all of us - tensions were high in the house - and I'm sure that kind of environment affects a 2-year-old dramatically.

SO. Hopefully, with a "back to normal" schedule and a less stressful week, Daniel will chill out a little. He knows he's in the wrong, too, which is humorous. He actually confessed on Friday.

Fernando: "Did you have a bad day today?"
Daniel: "Yeah."
Fernando: "What happened?"
Daniel: "Benton was crying."
Fernando: "Why was Benton crying?"
Daniel: "I was mean."
Fernando: "We shouldn't be mean, Daniel... we should be nice."
Daniel: "Yeah." (pause) "I sorry, Benton."

Monsoon Memories

It's monsoon season here in Phoenix. It seems to happen about twice a year, and while it brings rare (and uncomfortable) humidity, the change in sky scenery is a welcome one. Large clouds move in quickly, and lightning can almost always be seen in the distance. Occasionally an actual thunderstorm hits, and the whole city stops to enjoy the sound and smell of rain.

As an Arizona kid, Daniel hasn't had much exposure to rain (or thunder, or lightening). We've taken him north for fun in the snow, and we've had plenty of pool time, but as far as water falling from the sky - he's a novice.

Needless to say, when a storm hits - he's interested. He wants to "go get the rain" and experience the weather. He loves listening to thunder. If he thinks he hears it, he shushes us and says in a hurried whisper... "Mommy, Daddy... did you hear that? Did you hear it?!"

Over the past few weeks, we have developed a routine that ranks among my favorites. It began with the first big storm of the season. That night, the storm snuck up on us quickly, waking Daniel with violent rain on his bedroom window panes and booming thunder. To calm him down, we all piled onto his bed, turned off the lights, opened the blinds and watched the storm together.

Fernando laughed at each thunder clap so Daniel would learn that it wasn't scary... it worked. Now Daniel declares "it's funny, daddy" each time it thunders. We counted the seconds between lightening, predicting when it would light up the sky again. (After that, sometimes even during clear nights, Daniel would look up at a cloudless sky and start counting, waiting for the lightening.) We watched the water running on the ground, and talked about the plants "drinking". It was an intimate family moment - one that we recreate as often as possible, while the storms last.

This year, I'm praying for an unusually long monsoon season.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bigger Every Day

We seem to be wading through a fairly large transition - Daniel's mental shift towards seeing himself as a "big boy" capable of handling more responsibility. This shift has resulted in a lot of changes in the way daily life happens... there is more interaction, more freedom of choice, and more flexibility.

There is more responsibility all around, too - for us, we are realizing what a critical phase this is for helping Daniel form the basis of a strong character. And for Daniel, chores have become a reality. We have slowly added to the amount of household work we've been assigning him. He now responds well to complex requests: "Daniel, please take off your shoes, open the closet, put the shoes inside, close the door and come back over here."

He demands independence when it isn't offered, even in the mundane routines. He wants the option to pick between items (snacks, books, toys) - but often withholds declaring his selection, just because he can. What's interesting is in these cases, he will revert to intentional gibberish as a way to not say his answer. He is answering - but defiantly. In a way that he knows we can't understand.

He absorbs more information than we gave him credit for. His memory is amazing, especially for his age. Weeks after seeing Ice Age 3, his first full movie in a theater, he asked us randomly, "Mommy, Daddy... remember the big elephants running? And remember the tiger on the ground? And remember Sid finding the three eggs?"

A recent "too good to be true" moment occurred when spontaneously, Daniel pointed to the piano and asked to play it. We climbed up onto the piano bench together, opened the cover and began playing around on first the black then the white keys. I started in on the chord progression from Heart & Soul (Daniel's recent favorite bedtime song) and he recognized it immediately. I started singing it while playing, and Daniel banged keys enthusiastically while singing loudly to the parts he knew... smiling broadly up at me in between verses. It was one of those magical moments I could live happily in forever.

He loves to wrestle. He screams if you tickle him, but if you stop, he lifts his shirt and says "more?!" He invents games. If you invent a game, he memorized it and repeats it until you wish you hadn't invented it. He dances to songs. He laughs at everything and says "that's funny". He knows his friends by name, and can tell you who he played with that day. He loves eating and is constantly hungry. He loves being chased, and chasing us: "I'm gonna get you...!" He is very affectionate with us - more so than he's ever been. He understands "tomorrow" and "yesterday". He is very quickly mastering the alphabet too, but out of memory, can "read" us many of his books, verbatim. He finds animal shapes in the clouds, pointing out alligators and rhinos at random times.

The differences between having a baby and a toddler are big... but the differences between a toddler and this new "man child" phase are mind-numbing. Sometimes I look at Daniel and don't recognize him - seemingly overnight, a lanky, tall chatterbox replaced my tragically cherubic baby.

Luckily, I don't have time to feel sad. I'm too busy having fun with the new Daniel :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

We Danced. We Sang. We Stole Things.

Like that album title, for example.

Desperately in need of clearing our heads for a few days, we skipped town last week and headed north to our favorite getaway: Sedona. New each time, and never disappointing.

Each vacation must have a soundtrack (Amaro Family Rule #48) and this time, tracks #2 and #3 off Jason Mraz's latest piece of work were the (only) songs on our playlist. By day 3, Daniel was singing along. No joke.

Who would have guessed that those quirky, over-played top-40 hits would turn out to be our family's love songs? Those two opening chords to "I'm Yours" relaxed us more than a massage or martini ever could. (It's so fun to make drinking jokes when you don't drink...)

This mini-vacation was exactly what we needed. We ate homemade breakfast on the patio. We went creek-stomping in our backyard. We soaked in a jacuzzi under a billion stars. We played in warm fountains and breathtakingly cold creeks. I'll spare you the exhaustive list of luxuries, but suffice it to say that by the end of day three, the tension had melted away. In it's place were easier smiles, sillier songs and more family hugs.

In a perfectly magical moment near the end of the trip, Daniel and I danced barefoot on the red rock patio to the antequated guitar stylings of a local musician. Puffy white clouds drifted lazily through an impossibly blue sky. The day practically sparkled with perfection... or maybe it was just the misters. Either way. I could live happily forever in that moment.

This trip was less about Daniel and more about his parents. But Daniel, as you read this later, understand this: The right priorities in a family don't always happen automatically. You have to work for them. And fight for each other. And make a concerted effort not to let each other get lost in the day-to-day shuffle.

And sometimes, that kind of clarity can only be achieved with a roadtrip and some cold creek water.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Buttered Popcorn and Apple Juice

Last weekend, we reached a huge milestone. Well, huge for us. The three of us went to our very first family movie in a theater. We saw "Up", the newest Pixar movie. Despite Daniel's total and complete inability to control the level of his voice, we had a blast!

Daniel kept waiting for deafeningly silent moments to point and yell at the top of those little lungs: "Look at DEEZ!" He loved the balloons ("bee-oons") and the Snipe ("duckie") and asked for them each and every minute they were not on the screen. Loudly. At one point, Daniel got down from his seat and turned around. He had apparently not realized there were other people there, and with glee, he pointed and yelled "Look at all the friends!!" I believe we entertained/annoyed some strangers that day.

My favorite moment might have been when I glanced down and saw Fernando and Daniel, both absent-mindedly reaching in for more popcorn without removing their eyes from the big screen. Like father, like son. Fernando's love of the theater is legendary, passed down from his father. Now that he can share it with his own boy, he's one happy camper.

On the way home, Daniel recited all of his favorite parts of the movie. We frequently ask him if he had fun at school, so he gazed out the window and asked himself questions all the way home:

"Have fun with the bee-oons? Have fun with the duckie? Have fun with the doggies? Have fun with the house high-up-in-da-ky? Have fun with mommy and daddy? Have fun with the moo-mie? Want see more moo-mie please?"

Life is good.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

I Never Want To Forget

You're probably tired of reading it... honestly, I'm tired of writing it... but I swear it's true: I have never loved him more.

Time is racing by at an unfathomable rate. I wish it would stop. Or pause. Or at least slow down for two seconds.

I hope I never forget...

- The way he says "hold me hand".
- How he always wants to see/play with the "poo". (Pool. Don't worry.)
- His obsession with jumping. He's good. Really good.
- Up high in the sky. (Hup - in - da -kye).
- How he likes to mime "Itsy Bitsy Spider" at the dinner table.
- How he likes to mime clapping for himself after miming the song.
- His love of bathtime, so long as there are matchbox cars to splash in mixing bowls.
- The logic he uses. "First, then..."
- How Fernando taught him the "let me see..." game, with his finger on his chin.
- How suddenly he began saying "oh my goodness!"
- His preference for Penny (the dog) over anyone else... Mema, Papa, TK or Quito.
- How his little musical voice never stops... He. Is. Always. Talking.
- How he absent-mindedly plays with my hair while I'm holding him.
- How the phrase "I love you" now happens spontaneously, without prompting.
- His love of movies. The latest: "Ahhhs Age" and "Mad-e-car". He likes to move it, move it.
- The recent increase in politeness. Me: "How do you ask?" Him: "Mommy... more milk please!"
- His lack of inhibition. Particularly when imitating our rowdy Mexican yells during "Camisa Negra".
- How everything is more fun in the closet, in the dark.
- The reluctant bravery he's developing in the water - it increases each time we swim.
- How incredibly fast that perfect little mop of hair grows.
- The way my heart melts each night when he says (in his sleepiest voice), "Mama stay here".
- How he sings along when I sing "Heart & Soul". (glaaaaaaaadly.....)
- The way he sings "Baby Bumblebee" to himself when he thinks he's alone.
- How he counts crib bars for entertainment. And can go up to 14. But still prefers the number 8.
- How he is always hungry. We'll hear "Oh hungry eat?" on the way home from dinner.
- His tendency to obsess over relatively minor characters in a movie. The "bad fishies" in Ice Age, or the Snipe in UP.
- His increasingly physical displays of affection... sometimes he'll run from one to the other parent, just hugging us and saying "I love you."

Right back at ya, kid.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Shark Bite

Daniel has always loved animals, but he goes through specific phases. We've been through an alligator phase, a butterfly phase, a fish phase, a bird phase, and others.

Last week, we officially entered the shark phase.

In a specific scene from Madagascar 2, a giant shark chases after a tiny lemur. When the scene started, my husband and I rushed to get the remote and fast forward to the next scene... we thought it would scare Daniel. We were too late, but Daniel wasn't scared. In fact, he clapped with joy and asked repeatedly for "more shark!"

At Target last week, I picked up a thin paperback book on sharks. Even though it was written for much older kids, Daniel loves the photos and learning the names of the sharks. (He knows Mako Shark, Hammerhead, and ... Shamu. Ok, so one of the photos looks like a Killer Whale... I don't have the heart to correct him just yet.)

At the end of the book is a photo of a surfer with only one arm - she had survived a shark attack. We glossed over this the first few times, but curiosity eventually got the better of me.

Me: "Daniel, what happened to her arm??"
Daniel: "It fall down?"
Me: "No, it didn't fall down... what happened to her arm?"
Daniel: "It go bye-bye?"
Me: "Yes... Daniel, a shark bit her arm and ate it."
Daniel: (concentrating hard, staring at the picture with a concerned look on his face)... "It's ok... come here... I got you... I got you..."

He consoled the photo. He felt sad for her. How precious is THAT!?

It didn't last long. Now he turns to that page with glee and says "Shark eat the arm... go CHOMP!" And laughs.

I may have created a monster.

A quick update: Yesterday I asked him what happened to his arm (he has a bite scar from two months ago that we frequently discuss) and he started to say his routine "Troy bit me"... but stopped and said "Shark bite arm! CHOMP!"

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Time Out!

We're not opposed to spanking. Both my husband and I were spanked as kids, and we turned out fine. Balanced. With lasting, loving relationships with our parents.

That said, we're not ready to spank Daniel. As long as alternate forms of disciple work, we'll stay away from anything physical. (Punishing violence with violence still doesn't add up in my head).

Time outs are our weapon of choice, and we've been using them on a regular basis - so far, with success. Daniel hates to be ignored, and a few minutes alone in his designated time out spot is enough to reduce him to tears, apologies, hugs, and a change in behavior.

The other day, we noticed how well he's been paying attention. Daniel looked his beloved Rhino ("Zona") square in the eye and said "Bad Choice! Time Out! Two Minutes!" and handed her to me to receive her punishment. I obliged and put Zona on the floor, gravely saying, "You're in time out for two minutes, Zona. You made a bad choice."

Zona was a trooper, and after just a few seconds had passed, Daniel reached for her and asked if she was "ready to be all done?" He made her nod "yes" and gave her a big hug.

Ten seconds later, he hit his arm with her head and said "Bad Choice! Time Out! Two Minutes!"

He is quite the over-zealous disciplinarian.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Adventures in Tents

Well, I have good news and bad news. First, the good news.

The Good

Our first camping trip was a blast! Daniel had a great time and the first day was honestly one of the best days of my life. So relaxing. So peaceful... quiet... tuned out from the rest of the world.

We set up camp in Sedona, just off the highway and a stone's throw from the river. Daniel immediately jumped in, "helping" us set up camp - and covering himself in dirt within ten minutes of getting out of the car. His excitement was uncontainable as he ran laps around the campsite, exploring all the nature he could get his little hands on.

He settled on his favorite activity: throwing rocks into the river. In fact, by the end of our trip, we were completely tired of throwing rocks in the river. "More rocks... more rocks."

We made a fire, cooking dinner and a late night S'mores snack, of which Daniel was a HUGE fan. Especially the chocolate part.

We bundled up like crazy for the night, chattering through what was not the most peaceful sleep we've ever had. Daniel, however, slept like a log, happy and warm between us. (Note: Next time... bring more blankets).

He awoke happy, nearly giddy to find the two of us next to him. We found a little pancake place in town for breakfast, and headed back to camp to hike.

Then things took a turn for the worse.

The Bad

We had taken a break from throwing rocks in the river and were eating a snack at the picnic table. Daniel was running around in circles and starting scratching his neck - like something was irritating him. A bug or a piece of grass, maybe.

Within two minutes, it went from light irritation to full on screaming, with his hand glued to his neck.

He couldn't get any words out except "hurt" in between the deafening cries. We sped to the fire station down the road, and two kind (but fairly useless) EMTs looked at him. By now, Daniel's hand was on his ear, and the screaming was worse. They directed us to the Urgent Care across town.

What ensued was, without a doubt, the longest 15 minutes of my life.

Daniel cries escalated, but dropped off suddenly every 30 seconds or so, as he appeared to fall asleep. He also appeared to stop breathing, and would jerk back to attention with a huge gasp. His eyes glazed over, and he began drooling severely. He also was holding his neck at a very odd angle, with his hand moving between his ear and neck.

Fernando sped through town, and I knelt next to the car seat, praying like I never had. In retrospect it sounds dramatic, but I have never actually feared that Daniel would die. During those 15 minutes, it felt like he was drifting away. I was there - my hands were on him - and I had absolutely no control.

The Sedona Urgent Care was a joke. The doctor reeked of New Age strangeness, and misdiagnosed Daniel with a "severe throat and nose infection". I asked why it came on so suddenly, and he said (I'm not kidding): "Everything begins at some point in time." Life is a cookie, indeed.

By now, large amounts of kid-friendly pain killers had relaxed him enough to fall asleep. Daniel was passed out in my lap, still grabbing his neck, and crying in his sleep if his head moved even a fraction of an inch.

Long story short... it was a crick. (Cric?) A very bad crick in his neck, caused from a cold and a night sleeping in sub-zero temperatures. I get them all the time - I suppose the tendency is genetic. Poor kid walked around with his head cocked to one side for nearly a week, milking us for sympathy days after the pain had stopped.

Next time, we'll wait until Summer to camp.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Month 4893...?

Ok, this "label post by month" thing made lots of sense until Daniel turned two. Now it just seems a little excessive... I think it's time to move on. (The motto of any toddler's parent. Sniff.)

Since last we spoke, the little monkey has changed quite a bit. Here are a few of the recent updates in our lives, in no particular order.

1. We bought a TV. I know this sounds boring, but we have NEVER purchased a television ourselves. After five years and five "hand me downs" (from friends to whom we are eternally grateful) we took the plunge and bought a beautiful 42" Visio flat screen. Holy luxury. The first time Daniel watched it (it was "Bolt" in blu-ray...) he sat stock-still on the couch for a solid twenty minutes, eyes like saucers, saying "whoa" and "wow" over and over. He giggles with glee when it's time to watch a "moomie". It's so fun I almost don't miss the mile-high (crooked) bunny ears or the way the old TV buzzed when there was too much red or white on the screen. Almost.

2. We survived Easter. I use the word "survived" instead of the more traditional "enjoyed" or "celebrated" because Daniel's Mommy & Daddy thought it would be smart for BOTH of them to be employed at the same church, and for churches, Easter is THE weekend of the year. Suffice it to say that Daniel spent Easter weekend with his family - just not his parents. Seven church services and a giant carnival later, we did his egg hunt on Monday morning.

(As a side note, on the Thursday before Easter, Daniel came home from preschool with a hard boiled egg and bunny ears made of construction paper on his head. I was just relieved to find out the "ears" weren't supposed to be feathers. A very un-pc Easter, indeed!)

3. The potty is now Daniel's friend. We figured out that he doesn't hate potties - he hates SITTING on potties. It would appear that he wants to stand, like Daddy. So now he drags his toothbrushing stool over to the big potty (so much for Bjorn) and climbs up, asks for help in removing his pants and diaper, and (with a little aiming help from us) pees in the potty. Then, he reaches for the toilet paper... (I know, he's a boy. But his mommy was the first one to show him this method and I didn't realize that boys don't wipe when they pee...) and then he flushes. Naturally, his favorite part. After bidding his deposit farewell ("bye bye poo poo!") we re-diaper and re-pants and he runs in his victory circle yelling "I go pee-pee in the potty!" This happens 6-8 times a day. Now, I just keep a container of Clorox Wipes by the toilet for post-potty floor duty. :)

4. One of our favorite parts of this last month is the emergence of an extremely sweet, affectionate side of Daniel. He is more cuddly than before - more prone to crawl in our laps for no reason, more likely to linger in hugs and seems to crave any and all physical contact. He asks for hugs and kisses, sometimes asks to hold our hands, and welcomes us laying with him at bedtime to cuddle him until he falls asleep. Not that he was ever a cold child, but this amount of physical affection is definitely new. (And welcome!)

5. Hide & Seek. He is a very physical little man - likes to wrestle, be tickled, be flipped upside down and thrown over our shoulders. His favorite evening game is still to "play chase" - he turns all the lights off in the house and then we tackle in the dark, using sound effects to give away our locations. (Fernando's is the whistle, and mine is "psst psst"). However this game has evolved slightly over the past few weeks into full blown hide & seek. Daniel waits in the living room and I run to hide somewhere... under the comforter, in the closet, behind the bathroom door, in the shower, etc. He loves the thrill of being scared or startled - this game can last for hours. It's fun to watch his logical processing as well - he will check all the places I was previously hiding before he moves on to new ones. Smart kid.

6. Monkey Man. Daniel's latest favorite phrase is "I climb up!". You can imagine the kinds of adventures this new mentality has brought on. He loves jumping, too... climbing plus jumping makes for a very nervous mother. The other day Fernando discovered Daniel laying on top of his changing table, surrounded by stuffed animals (did he move them first? or get lonely once he was on the table?), and covered head to toe in baby powder. Let the fun begin.

Daniel has two big events on the horizon: A new room (once we finish painting!) and his first camping trip (next week). Stay tuned for updates on both...