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.