Sunday, February 22, 2009

Month 24: Sugar Overloads & Rocking Chairs

In spite of the turkeys he calls parents, Daniel survived to see his second birthday.

And what a day it was. Bright and early, we woke him up to make sure we had "photo opp" time before breakfast... so we set up a backdrop in the backyard and a little table with his oversized chocolate cupcake (jungle themed).

Not thinking clearly, we let him consume record amounts of frosting on an empty stomach... file that one in the 'lessons learned' categories. I have never seen a sugar high/crash quite so immediate.

Daniel blew out his own candle (ten times, as he kept making Fernando re-light it). And he really was a sport for a mini photo session. Although the promise of a giant cupcake at 8am will make most kids do anything. (He even demonstrated the "duck kiss" face I have been wanting to capture for a long time! This style of kissing has replaced all normal kissing...)

We then headed to Cracker Barrel for the traditional "day of" birthday meal with Ava & her family. On the way there, Daniel's sugar rush set in, as he mumbled to himself "pancakes... sleepy... cupcake... nigh-night..." :) We're such bad parents.

At Cracker Barrel, largely thanks to the sugar situation, he was a nightmare. He and Ava fought throughout the whole meal and only reconciled afterwards when we let them wreak havoc on the rocking chair patio outside the restaurant. Two dozen adult rocking chairs and ONE tiny one... a few tantrums ensued when we asked Daniel to share with Ava. (The "rocking chair planner" needs to consider that children usually come in multiples...)

After a hefty nap, Daniel spent the afternoon with Fernando (who took the day off to be with him) and the evening with the whole family (Daniel's Mema, Papa, TK & Quito) for a celebratory birthday dinner. He tore into his presents like a kid who knew what he was doing and relished the new books, toys and clothes. Ok, so he didn't care about the clothes, but the rest was a hit!

Happy Birthday, little man.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Month 23: Locks of Innocence

Well, we've gone and done it. We chopped off those gorgeous locks... and the youthful innocence apparently tied to them.

Days before Daniel's 2nd birthday, the haircut either triggered or coincided with some serious attitude shifts in our little angel! Hello "time outs" and attitude!

Maybe this haircut has been the hardest on me for that reason... it seems to represent the passing of the baby era, even though he's been a toddler for quite a while. His sweet long locks masked the devilishly mischevious side that was lurking in the background.

We took him to the kid's salon where he can sit in giant cars (this time, a plane), watch movies and eat candy while his hair is cut. It's not quite enough to make Daniel a haircut fan, per say, but it is enough to make him tolerate the discomfort of being sprayed down with water and poked with scissors.

This was his first experience with the "buzz buzz" clippers and it didn't go well. Good thing there were three adults and only one of him.

He looks so handsome... so grown-up. But if I could, I would glue that hair back on his head. I miss my baby.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Month 23: Apron Days

I am a working mom.

Not only have I come to terms with this lifestyle, but I enjoy the diversity of daily experiences. I enjoy being a part of the work force, and of the church where I have been employed for nearly five years. I recognize that my job is a "dream job" that could not have been better suited for my strengths and talents. Daniel's preschool is phenomenal, and his incredible development is attributed to the constant stimulation and affection he receives from the staff. Our family thrives in chaos, and honestly we love the hectic pace that comes with having two working parents.

I am (we are) blessed.

But there's a piece of me that longs for the Norman Rockwell experience. Sometimes I want to be the woman in the paintings - hair and makeup done perfectly, not a bead of sweat on her brow, serving a gorgeous dinner to her family, and always (always) wearing an apron.

For days like this, I have an apron. It's purple, with subtle brown and orange stripes. When I put it on, a sense of empowerment overtakes me. I feel more confident in my maternal instincts. I feel energized and capable. I feel perfectly suited to take care of a household full of kids. In some mysterious way, when I put on my purple apron, I feel a peace absent from my chaotic life. A long forgotten itch is scratched.

"Apron days" have become some of my favorite things. I get out of bed before anyone else is awake, put on comfy clothes, my pink houseshoes and my purple apron. I tie my hair up, and tackle the kitchen. Before long, it's sparkling clean and breakfast is cooking on the stove. Sometimes french toast, sometimes omelettes, sometimes an adventurous selection from a dusty cookbook. Watching Fernando and Daniel polish off their meal is indescribably rewarding. After preparing for lunch and dinner, I usually let myself get swept up in a whirlwind of house-cleaning. All the stereotypes I have grated against for 29 years are ironically fulfilled - against my own wishes, I find that I LIKE wearing the apron.

I want the best for Daniel. I still believe that for him, that means a balanced combination of social environment and home life. He has the best of both worlds right now - we are, without question, doing our best for him. But I will always wonder what life would have been like had I been able to wear the apron every day.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Month 23: The Spotless Mind

Parenting isn't all sunshine and daisies.

Sure, there are millions of unforgettably sweet moments. But sometimes it's tough going. Sometimes it's a maze of guilt, obligation and confusion... and any parent that tells you otherwise is lying through their teeth.

After all my "I Never Want To Forget" lists, here's the first "Things I'd Rather Forget" version. It's a risky move, but if we can't be brutally honest about our parenting experiences, we'll have no hope of teaching our kids how to one day parent their own kids. (And Lord knows I want the best for my grandkids!)

So, here goes nothing.

I'd rather forget...

- The way Daniel lets his arms go limp when he doesn't want to be picked up.
- How sometimes he doesn't want to be touched OR let go. Impossible to make a right move.
- The blank look on his face right before (or after) hitting someone. It's scary, and distant.
- The times he only (and inexplicably) wants one parent over the other. Heartbreaking.
- The awful horrible feeling that my rookie parent mistake caused Daniel physical pain. (The lightbulb... the stroller... the bathtub... I could go on.)
- His stubborness and refusal to say "sorry".
- Daniel's manipulation... I hate the feeling of being "played".
- The guilt of leaving him at daycare. Even though he's happily playing within 30 seconds, walking away is still brutal.
- The feeling that he's happier at daycare than he'd be with me, at home.
- The stranglehold worry has on my life. It's amplified in the last two years.
- The jealousy when he wants to be held by someone else.
- How when I look at a playground, I only see the potential accidents.
- When he doesn't want to be picked up OR put down.
- The sickening feeling of time slipping through my fingers.
- The full understanding of just how much I have to lose.
- The feeling of having to cool down and just walk away. That swell of anger and frustration... and that split-second of understanding what causes someone to hit their child. This could be the worst feeling in the world.
- The slippery trap of TV... and the guilt of realizing that I'm "that parent".
- Knowing I can never re-do the time that went by.

Well, there you go. Brutal honesty. I can't help but wonder how much of this changes with a second or third child, and how much of it is just part of the parenting scene. I suppose we'll find out soon enough!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Month 23: How Did We Get Here?

Holy cow, Daniel is going to be two. I have been asking myself a question that is not rhetorical at all... how did we get here?

He's a little man. He is so smart, so funny... honestly I feel like I fall in love with him all over again, each day. He is creative - he invents his own games and then makes up the rules. He is independent without being pushy. He knows what he wants, but is open to negotiation. He is affectionate without being clingy. He is considerate and kind to other kids, and protective of his friends and family. Who could ask for more? (That question, on the other hand, IS rhetorical).

As we approach the big day (Saturday!) I feel it's time for another quick "never to forget" list. Fernando, Daniel and I took a daytrip to Sedona last week, playing hookie from real life for a few blissful hours. We hiked, ate lunch, went shopping, walked the strip, and just enjoyed each other's company. It was a thoroughly delightful day in every aspect. While Daniel napped in the car, Fernando and I listened to Jorge Drexler and made this list together of the "right nows" in our life.

We love how he.....

- Lays on his stomach to read and kicks his feet in the air.
- Squints and is silly when we pull into the garage and see the CD player lights.
- Jumps over things that may or may not be too tall to jump over.
- Uses the word "too" profusely. Too bright, too hot, too late (??), too dark, etc...
- Yells "hiya" and "hike" while playing with footballs.
- Loves to be tickled and always asks for "more".
- Is obsessed with "Nano's Seat" (the stroller). Sometimes he finds it, pushes it to us, climbs in and says "Outside? ok!"
- Sees the number eight everywhere and thinks all amperstands (&) are "8s".
- Adores french toast.
- Can put away an obscene amount of food. Sometimes he eats more than I do.
- Calls pirates "pie-dits" and can sing the "no hero" part of the Larry Boy song.
- Gets bossy when we're dancing to music - he points and demonstrates what he wants us to do.
- Loves chocolate milk. The way his little voice says those words is priceless.
- Still adores his favorite animal "Zona"... although his pronunciation of her name changed again: "Sue-dah".
- Loves to help me feed the cats... "Nano help you"... "Keee Food".
- Suddenly learned to say "cheese" and smile for a camera. (Who taught him that?)
- Gets tired at the dinner table and wants to lay his head in our hands (but continue eating).
- Smiles. That smile evolves daily... it's bittersweet to see it change so quickly.
- Gives me nose kisses.
- Likes to discipline the cats. Fernando saw him telling a cat to get out of his crib: "Go kitty, go!" while pointing sternly.
- Loves to play "pi-joe" (the piano). He takes turns playing the black and white keys.
- Is terrified of the vaccum but also wants to help push it.
- Protects Ava and takes care of her. In return, she follows him around and corrects him when he's doing something wrong. (Is this a marriage in the making or what?!)
- Loves his Animal Book. He can recognize and say all kinds of crazy animals... Toucan, Wolf, Cheetah, Leopard, Peacock (key-kock!), Penguin, Meerkat, Crab, Jellyfish, Walrus, Hamster, etc!)
- Always wants to know "what happened?" to anyone and everything. His standard response: "Ah no no!" ("I don't know!")
- Loves to say "bless you" to anyone who sneezes and just to anything in general. The first time he said bless you, he continued for an hour: "bless you cars" "bless you horse" "bless you sock" "bless you eight"...
- Stops before crossing the street, and when asked if there are cars, he says "Nope!"
- Pronounces words with that sweet little voice. Moon: "moot", Ham: "hamp", Blue: "bee-you", Hot Dog: "hah cog"...

I hesitate to even publish this posting because I know the list is far from complete. I could spend days at a time documenting all the things I never want to forget.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Month 23: Touchdown!

I am not a football fan. My sweet husband has explained the game to me a half dozen times before, and while I am an intelligent person, the rules just don't stick.

Regardless of my lack of understanding of the game, I am as susceptible to Super Bowl fever as the rest of the world. This year, the Arizona Cardinals were the underdogs and came to the game with an amazing and inspirational story. After a quick trip to a friend's Super Bowl party, Fernando, Daniel and I got comfortable in our living room and watched the second half of the game.

In our pajama pants, we moved the couch aside and made a big space for tossing the nerf footballs around and making lots of noise when the game got rowdy. Daniel was very excitable, especially at touchdown time... at one particularly emotional touchdown, Fernando and I started yelling, hugging and jumping... and Daniel joined in! He was screaming "touchdown!" and running in circles and hugging us. It was possibly the cutest thing I have ever seen. For the fifteen minutes following the touchdown, he continued to celebrate.

The Cardinals lost (I still think that last call could have gone either way...) but we could not have asked for a more memorable evening.