Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Where We've Been...

Months have slipped by, months full of well intentioned blog notes and drafts.  Drafts that I am STILL determined to see through to fruition (just let me dream, ok?).  Drafts that are bursting at the seams with life changes and vacation adventures and salty oceans and old farms and my sweet boy growing up day by day by day by day.

A family blog is in the works, one that can contain everything I want to say... about Daniel, about Violet, about homeschool, about new recipes, about random thoughts, about marriage, about styling Violet's hair and just about anything else that comes our way.  But these things take a bit of time (and the know-how to re-direct domains...) so patience has become my friend yet again.

I'll post one sweet little moment though, before heading off to finish one of those aforementioned drafts, of our first day of homeschool.  It was two days ago.  I wasn't feeling like posting anything celebratory on THAT day (first days of homeschool aren't necessarily easy, I'm finding out) but after a wildly successful day #2, I edited a photo.  Because that's how I celebrate.

My babies, on their first day of our next adventure:

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Recyclable Conclusions

This post is a lesson to myself about jumping to conclusions too quickly.  I'll be more specific before Fernando has a chance to point out my tendency to do this in every area of life:  Today's lesson is about jumping to conclusions regarding my child's seemingly-bad behavior.

It happens all the time with Violet - I begin to correct/reprimand/hoot-n-hollar at her before I realize that she was actually trying to help or do something good.  But this rarely happens with Daniel. Until today.

One of Daniel's chores is taking out the recycling.  He does it well, and seems to enjoy this little piece of responsibility.  I have taken to standing at the kitchen window and watching the whole thing go down, as it's just ridiculously cute to watch him march back and forth, in his own little world, sometimes fighting the bad guys along the way.  I love watching the lessons in logic unfold:  He has to figure out exactly how to get the lid to stay open while he dumps in various items (and then figure out how to retrieve the big plastic box he is supposed to bring back to me that he accidentally throw in every time.  Every time.)  

Today, he had completely four or five trips from the back door to the recycling bin, carrying a few items at a time.  Suddenly, I saw him throw an empty milk container towards the recycling bin.  And walk away.  

The "Uh UH not in my house!" kicked in and I threw the window open, and barked "Daniel!" before I saw what was going on.

Violet had joined him outside and wanted to help take out the recycling.  But she wasn't wearing any shoes.  So he decided to carry her.  But he couldn't carry her AND the recyclable item, so he tossed the milk carton ahead of them, then returned to the patio to retrieve his sister.  He carried her all the way to the bins and proceeded to help her recycle the milk carton.  Then he carried her back.

Be still my heart (and be shamed my jump-to-conclusions-brain).

Saturday, June 02, 2012

The Gift of Music

Grocery shopping with the kiddos continues to be a weekly highlight for me.  They are good helpers and just make everything more interesting.

For example, Daniel has taken to "playing drums" on the wooden stands at Sprouts.  He drums, she dances.  Together they draw quite a bit of attention.  (I really should consider putting a hat out and accepting collections.)

This last time at the store, he just couldn't contain himself.  He drummed on everything he touched, including the the baby changing station, the sink and the paper towel dispenser during our weekly group trip to the big bathroom stall.  (Don't judge me.)

As we walked out of the bathroom, he was still drumming on everything he could touch.  He looked at me and simply said, "I just can't stop, Mommy!" He then assumed a wide stance, spread his arms wide, looked up towards the ceiling (the heavens?) and bellowed, "I HAVE THE GIFT OF MUSIC!!"

A few amused people smile and kept on about their business.  He glanced over his shoulder at me, tossed me that little half smile he does sometimes and said, "What?  I do!"

I love this kid.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Red Flower

Typically, in our house, we don't condone murder.  This includes ants, worms, and butterflies.  (But excludes flies and cockroaches, in an understandable caveat.)  This rule also includes flowers.  As in, "Mommy, Dano just keeeeeeled a baby flower in the back yard!"

Yesterday evening, Fernando and I were laying on our bed, just talking through life.  The windows were open, and some unseasonably cool Phoenix weather was making life particularly sweet.  We laid there listening to the sound of our kids laughing, spraying each other with the hose, and tossing tennis balls up on the roof.  (Don't ask.)  

Suddenly we heard Daniel exclaim with his usual exuberance, "I'm going to go give Mommy this red flower!"  Violet squealed (with her usual sidekick exuberance) and then we heard footsteps, a screen door open and shut, and more footsteps to the side of the bed where we were resting.  And then I was peering up into two beaming-with-pride faces, wet and sweaty from outside play, offering me one perfect red bloom from one of our hibiscus plants.  

It was lovely.  Then we noticed, it was a little TOO lovely.  We started to launch into our "please pick flowers up from the ground, don't pick them from the bush" speech, but then stopped.  His face was too precious to deflate.  That bloom was so incredibly beautiful, and I realized in a moment that it meant a thousand times more in my hand in that moment than it ever would had we left it, unnoticed, on the bush on the side of the house.  

Maybe it was the cool weather and magical evening, but I couldn't stop looking at that bloom.  It sat in my hand for a long time, and then on the counter next to me after that (because let's be honest, dinner doesn't make itself).  

I think I thanked him a dozen times for that flower.  And each and every time, without fail, he puffed up with pride and flashed me that sweet, cock-eyed, almost sympathetic smile... the one he pulls out when he knows he's done good.  "Mommy, I knew you'd love it.  It's red, and red is your favorite.  I love you Mommy."  

And somewhere halfway through making those sandwiches, I made a decision.  No, I won't encourage picking off living flowers.  But every time one is presented to me in the future, regardless of where it comes from, I will exclaim with joy.  I will shower praise and thanks.  I will make sure that as long as this season of sweet-son-who-is-giving-Mommy-spontaneous-thoughtful-gifts lasts, I will enjoy it.  Because it won't last forever.  

In the meantime, I will keep writing these things down so when these precious seasons DO end, I will have some way to savor the memories.  Because we all know my memory is toast.  

(What color was that flower again?)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"I'll Love You Forever"

On our most recent camping trip for Violet's birthday, we started what I can only guess will be a new Amaro family camping tradition:  Bringing a tub of books with us and reading to each other at the camp site.  We read in the tent.  We read at the picnic table.  We read around the fire.  It was delightful, to experience some of our favorite well-worn books in a fresh new surrounding.

Somehow, "I'll Love You Forever" made it into the camping pile.  It's a book I had been avoiding intentionally for years, knowing my tendency to get a bit emotional while reading it.

At lunch one day, the kids picked it out of the pile and handed it to me.  I lost it on page two, and Fernando took over only to fall apart on page 4.  (There is a REASON we don't read this book.)

There we sat, two grown adults, bawling our eyes out in the forest.  Our children just stared at us, bewildered, asking why we were crying, unsatisfied by my wails of "I just love you so much!!"

Since then, they won't touch that book with a 10-foot pole, whispering loudly that "This is the book that makes Mommy cry".

After we got back home though, Daniel casually said to me, "You know, Mommy, some day I'll grow and grow and grow until I'm 32 and then I'll live somewhere else."  (pause)  "Away from you."  (pause)  And he flashed me his mock-super-sad face, as if waiting to see if he could trigger the water works again.

When I didn't succumb to a waterfall of emotion, he dropped it and went off to play legos.

As of right now, I'm black-listing that book permanently.  It's just too much of a risk.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Professional Dream Killer

Weeks ago in our parenting Bible study, we read a portion that warned parents against imposing their own career ideals and goals on their kiddos.  We kind of patted ourselves on the back, agreeing that hadn't done this and truthfully had no opinions about our kids' future careers.  It's that silent self-congratulatory attitude that parents get right before they get smacked in the face.

Yesterday, over dinner, Daniel declared that he would like to be a construction worker.

And suddenly, just like that, it turns out that I DO have an opinion about these things.  Moms tend to develop opinions when their sons make declarations like these.

Fernando and I exchanged furtive glances across the table.

"Honey, do you mean that you want to draw the design and tell people what to do?"  (Look at me.  Hoping for a promotion in the career my son doesn't even have.  I should win some kind of award for this fabulous parenting.  And by fabulous, I mean terrible.  I am not proud of this blog post.)

"Nope!  I want to be a construction WORKER.  And build candy stores.  And giant cars.  Not little ones with my legos."  And then in case I hadn't heard him, he sounded it out, "CON-STRU-CTION-WOR-KER."

More furtive glances between me and Fernando.  The kind that silently agreed to funnel a bit more money into our retirement accounts because THIS kid wasn't gonna be able to support us in our old age.

Time to revisit that Bible study chapter, I'd say.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Hummingbird Fun

My grandparents always hung a hummingbird feeder outside their kitchen window.  It is a fixture in my childhood memories - that clear red liquid, those quick nervous visitors.

When Daniel pointed out a few hummingbird near our backyard bushes, we headed to Lowe's to pick up a feeder and up our game in the hosting-hummingbirds department.

We mixed up some sweet concoction, decorated a few beautiful hummingbird drawings (which the kids assured me would attract even MORE hummingbirds) and proudly hung our new creation in the backyard.

It took a good week or so for any animal to take notice of the new feature in our backyard.  And when they did, it wasn't hummingbirds.  We have just endeared ourselves to the local finch population.

But the hummingbirds still come for the flowers, so I suppose all's not lost.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Quantifying Love

Perhaps my favorite of our family traditions is our tendency to constantly declare our love for each other.  Some recent (and over the top) declarations from Daniel:  "Daddy, I can't stop loving you!!"  "Mommy, How do I even love you this much!!?"

Having run out of general overstatements, Daniel finally started trying to quantify it (competitively, of course).

D: "Mommy, I love you a thousand."
Me:  "Daniel, I love you a thousand million."
D: "Well, don't you know, I love YOU a thousand million google.  Do I win?"

Violet has followed suit, learning words like "infinity", "google" and "million" before she turned two.

It's just part of the subtle rhythm of life in our house.  For example.  Today I had just pressed play on the P90x ab video, and had just reached the part where Tony Horton warns everyone that "This isn't Ab Ripper 101 or 201... This is Ab Ripper 339!"

Daniel's voice piped up from across the room:  "That's how much I love you!!  339!!"


"Do I win?"

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Cupcakes for Daddy

Since transitioning from full time out-of-the-home work to part time, I have enjoyed more time with just the kiddos.  I could write hundreds of blog posts about the things we are learning about our family just as a result of this switch, but for today I'll keep it simple:  Cupcakes are fun.

We all agree:  
The eggs are fun to crack, 
the butter is fun to melt, 
the batter is fun to mix, 
the spoon is fun to lick, 
the oven is fun to watch, 
the frosting is fun to prepare, 
the decorations are fun to sprinkle 
and the final product is fun to eat!  

But maybe the MOST fun came from the motivation behind the cupcakes:  A treat for our hard-working man-of-the-house.  And our man-of-the-house does work very, very hard.  I know it, and so do the kids.  They love talking about how much they love him, how he works hard and makes good choices at work so we'll have food to eat and a place to stay.  They love creating gifts and artwork for him, and eagerly anticipate his arrival home from work. 

And today, a sweet treat (and a texted photo of what was waiting on the kitchen counter!) was just the thing to get him through a stressful afternoon.  

Win, all around.  

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Almost 5

So this is what it's like to have a 5 year old.  Well, almost 5 year old.

Everything is changing, and fast.  It's like his little developmental clock KNOWS that his birthday is around the corner and has decided to kick into full gear.

The funny part is that the "kid" side of him is going strong - he is playful, silly, imaginative and would still rather be in his pajamas (or less) than anything else.  The part of him that is quickly changing is the part that surrounds the play - the vocabulary, the type of play, the humor, and especially his ability to join us at our level of humor, participating more and more in the conversations next to which he previously just existed, oblivious.

His smile is, as ever, changing.  He daily looks more and less like himself as his identity continues to evolve.  I miss the boy that was here yesterday, but not quite as much as I love the boy that's here today.

I suppose this very conflict is at the heart of what it means to mother a child, to be torn between two minds.  Between guarding them and preserving their innocence (even if the motives are slightly selfish) and relishing their growth, progress and new ventures.  Fernando doesn't struggle with this like I do, he is ready to celebrate the changes now underway.  He is patient with me though, understanding that mamas have a different tug on their heart than dads do.  Fernando knew the time had long passed to buy Daniel a booster seat in the car and be done with his toddler seat (in retrospect, it DID look a bit ridiculous to have a kid his size in a seat like that) but he allowed me to come to terms with yet another rite of passage before we made the change.

Anyway.  I could ramble about my exhausted heart strings all day.  I'm so proud of him I could just burst. He loves his family.  He loves God.  He does well in preschool.  He is kind to his friends.  He is respectful to his teachers.  He is patient and loving towards Violet.  He is creative beyond my comprehension. He is blossoming in front of me, and it's a privilege to have a front row seat.

But no matter how much he changes, he is still my baby boy.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Tricky, Tricky

His latest game:  Feigning sleep to lure us in, then surprise us with a shout or tickles.

He can hold out a surprisingly long amount of time, withstanding our poking and prodding him without even opening an eye.  It frequently happens in the car as he attempts to convince us he has fallen asleep on the drive.  Violet tends to fall for his traps, squealing in delight when he jumps up.

I'm pretty sure it's a "Please Give Me Attention RIGHT NOW" stunt (that's very effective).  I snapped these after doing V's hair and doing photos of her style... entirely too many hours had passed without Daniel as the center of attention.  He decided to fix that by "breaking" and falling asleep in the backyard, immediately garnering his sister's attention.

Just a little, sweet piece of our world as of late.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Disneyland Surprise

Fernando and I are "surprise" kind of people.  We love surprising each other (a la romantic date nights, little funny notes, or baby doll hands hidden in the mayo... don't ask...) and apparently this has transferred into a love of surprising our kids.  The Reveal is nearly as fun as the actual surprise.

So when we decided to take them to Disneyland, we knew it had to be a fun reveal.  We started with a puzzle of the most beloved piece of Disney architecture: Sleeping Beauty's castle.  But then we divided up each piece into it's own envelope, labeled with a number and hidden throughout the house.  The kids raced through the house place by place as I read them rhyming riddles I had drafted (no idea where THAT paper ended up).

They collected the pieces, assembled the puzzle, and figured it out rather quickly.  There were periods of elated screams and jumping followed by periods of stunned silence.  It was fabulous.

Fernando created an adorable checklist for the refrigerator of "days left" until Disneyland, and with that, we began "Disney Indoctrination 2012".  After so carefully withholding stereotypical princess movies from my sweet little lady, we threw caution to the wind and introduced her to Arial, Belle, Tiana, Aurora, Snow White and Cinderella.  The kids laughed their tails off to old Mickey/Goofy/Donald shorts, and we all just kind of fell into a ridiculously fun Disney coma.  

Disneyland is a fun place no matter who you are.  But I have a pretty good feeling that this trip is gonna be one for the books.  Or, blog, as it were.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Little Valentine

Valentine's Day came and went without too much hooplah (is that a word?) this year.

However, for the first time, Daniel actually took an interest in MAKING valentines for his preschool friends.  Violet joined in the fun, leaving her trademark "V" on her valentines.

It was a labor of love, and he was pretty darn proud of those little sucker-taped-on-a-red-paper when he was done with them.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

My Kid, The Comic

All parents like to tell stories about their kiddos.  And most of the parents' friends smile politely and tolerate the stories.  No need to kid ourselves... we all know it happens. 

Lately, though, I have had some pretty good Daniel stories to tell.  Between the "no more bootie swats" New Year's prayer and his brand new fondness towards Knock Knock jokes (read: interrupting cow), it's just been one good laugh after another.  

The way he phrases things are just as funny as the actual things.  "Did you notice" is a frequent one now ("Mommy, did you notice that Violet is eating her boogars?"), as is "Of course" ("Of course I am not eating MY boogars, that is disgusting.  Can we say disgusting?").  

While we're in the "Daniel is a funny guy" mood, here are five of my favorite recent Mr. D incidents (courtesy of my facebook page):

1.  Favorite Daniel quote from the zoo yesterday, as his friend panicked about a nearby bumblebee:  "Don't worry, the bee is gone!  He just noticed you are a giant!"

2.  Watching Snow White for the first time with the kids.  Daniel is fixated on Grumpy.  "Why is Grumpy so angry?  Will he change his attitude and be nice to Snow White?  Once he IS nice, will his name change to Happy?"  Good point, I guess.

3.  Yesterday Daniel suddenly yelled, "Mommy!  Cover your ears and close your eyes!!"  I did as he asked, and heard him cut a big one.  Intentionally or unintentionally, he had left vulnerable the only thing that actually needed protection:  My nose.

4.  Daniel:  "Can we put Violet's hair back the other way?  You know, the way God made it?  With rainbow beads?"

5.  What do you call people on swings?  We need a new term.  Because I accidentally yelled "WATCH OUT FOR THE SWINGERS!!" to Daniel at the (very crowded) public park yesterday.  True story.

Life just gets funnier every day.  Which is exactly the way we like it.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Lady Love Rev B

Daniel has a "lady love".  And the last time I wrote those words, they meant something very different.

I first saw it two months ago, as I was signing him into preschool one morning.  She came in with her mom, and I saw her entire disposition change the second she saw Daniel:  She lit up with a million watt smile, flipped her ponytail over her shoulder and batted her eyelashes in slow motion.

Within days, his teachers were telling me that they were "inseparable", playing together all day.  She cries when he leaves, and watches the window when he's not there.  He talks about her all the time, along with his other friends.

But as much as I watch for a change in his behavior specifically towards her, I can't see one.  Then I realized:  He's a boy.  He thinks he has just gained a new playmate who let's him be the captain on the pirate ship while she is the lookout.  He thinks he has gained a friend who will defer to whatever game or imaginative venture he wants to pursue at the moment - and he's right.  Boys are naive to the heart palpitations of the little girls that surround them.  I so clearly remember being one of those girls, and not too far from his age.

He spelled out their names in Scrabble letters, explaining to me, "she is sad when I leave, so I'll write her name".  He writes her initials sometimes, with the same explanation of how much she misses him.

He is naive and sweet, and I am not even pretending that he understands what a crush is.  But Kindergarten begins this Fall and his world will flip upside down.  Everything is changing, and girls will enter the equation sooner than later.  

It's just one more sign that my sweet little man is turning into a real man.  And I sure wish he'd slow down.  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Gramma Time

True (under)statement:  Daniel loves his Gramma.

My mom visited from Texas for a fabulous nine day visit that featured all of Daniel's favorite things:  parks, museums, candy shops, games of chase, rowdy hide n seek, mountain adventures, movies, and... Gramma.

He had always hauled her around like his shiny new plaything, but this time was different - he was sweetly (and at times not so sweetly) possessive of her time.  He would wake up early and sneak in her room for a little alone time.  He would innocently suggest that Mommy and Violet go do something together so he and Gramma could have some time together.

We explored every room of the Children's Museum, and relived the magic of Beauty and the Beast as it came back to the big screen.  We giggled from room to room, hiding from the kids in the most elaborate game of hide n seek that a 1400 square foot home will allow.  We inhaled the sweet smell of fresh chocolate in a local See's shop, watching Daniel's eyes grow wide with wonder.

There is something satisfying in watching my child and my mom play together so well, blurring in and out of the memories I so clearly remember making with my own Gramma.  We never lived in the same state, but it would not be possible to have loved a grandmother more than I did mine.  Watching this stage unfold with my own children is priceless.

I think I may have enjoyed this trip even more than Daniel did.  

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Super Saver

Sometimes, Daniel is not Daniel.  He dons a mask and cape and transforms into another being altogether: Super Saver.  He likes to "save the city" and other similarly noble deeds.  He is focused, selfless, heroic and great with a sword.

The best part is that Super Saver is careful to reveal his true identity to anyone he thinks might be confused at the sudden absence of Daniel.  He just lifts up his mask and stares knowingly at you until you say something to the effect of, "Daniel?  That's you?  I thought you were gone!"

Super Saver might have saved the city, but he has stolen my heart.  

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Zoo Adventures

Daniel has always loved animals.  From a young age he was interested in learning the names of all kinds of species, and has a tender heart towards them.  

So this week's adventure to the zoo was right up his alley - his excitement could hardly be contained on the drive over, or on the walk between each animals area.  He fed a giraffe, rode the carousel (on "Runny-Run" the cheetah, no less), saw tons of animals up close and made a new friend.  He knew most of the animal names immediately, some before I did.  Nothing like too much "Diego" to make me feel intellectually inferior.  

The weather was divine, and made the zoo more enjoyable than I remember.  The animals were all out to play too, which was fun for everyone.  I'm thinking we'll be visiting the zoo on a more regular basis before it gets too hot (which could be next week... you never know in Phoenix!)  

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Resolution Suggestion

Today is New Year's Eve.  We don't usually go crazy with the partying or with the resolutions, it's usually just a quiet night at home.  

I prayed with each kiddo before they went to sleep, promising to work on a few parenting issues with each.

I said, "Dear Jesus, this year, help me be a better Mommy to Daniel.  Help me be less distracted and more focused on him."

And then I heard a loud whisper:  "And no more bootie swats."

I opened my eyes to see Daniel squinting at me (as he often does during prayer!) and he repeated himself: "And No More Bootie Swats."

Trying not to laugh, I said, "That's what you think I should work on?"

He said, "Yes.  And no more time outs."  And he resumed his bowed head, eyes closed position.

There we go, I guess.  Always good to get firsthand input.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Coloring for Jesus

When Daniel wants to give you the best gift possible, he draws something for you.  It's his greatest expression of love, and when he is overwhelmed with gratitude, he rushes to the dining room table and draws a machine, or a robot, with your name on it.

And today, his gratitude was for Jesus.

"Mommy, Do you know who is bigger than EVERYTHING?  Jesus.  Do you know who is stronger than EVERYTHING?  Jesus.  And do you know who I love more than ANYTHING?  Jesus.  Because he is everyone's shepherd.  He is the shepherd to everyone.  But we are not the sheep that say baaa-baaa.  We are not animals.  But he takes care of us.  I'm going to draw him a cake."  

And that he did.  Every piece meaningful and intentional, the cake took form slowly.  When he got the "s" backwards, he tried to convince me it was supposed to be a "5" because he was almost 5.  Smooth.  When he listed random names of people Jesus loved, Dash (from the Incredibles) made the list because that's what we were watching at the time.

He showed his masterpiece to Violet afterwards, who watched with rapt attention, like a good little sister.  She even asked questions, allowing him to do his absolute favorite thing in the world:  Tell you even MORE about the drawing he just completed.

I'm certain that whatever gifts Jesus received this year, Daniel's offering was the most precious.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Snicker Pie Incident

Not gonna lie, this post isn't for the weak of stomach.  I'm talking to you, Erin Wiens.  Close this window immediately.

For the rest of you, here we go.

Thanks to some good friends in Arkansas, I now possess the recipe for a DELICIOUS and decadent Snickers pie.  It's cold, creamy and very rich.  I made up a pie for Christmas this year, and Daniel took notice.  He is fond of Snickers pie.

Late in the day, he asked us if he could have a snack.  He said, "Could I have a piece of the candy cake?" And assuming he was referring to the biscuit-based cake we had for breakfast, we told him he could.

About twenty minutes later, I noticed what was happening in the kitchen.  And I saw the damage:  A nearly empty pie plate and a very small Dora-the-Explorer fork in the middle of the remains.  Our best guess is that he ate approximately 1/3 of it.  Could have been more.

Fast forward about an hour.  Violet is asking for dinner, but Daniel is rubbing his belly saying that he doesn't want any more treats today.  His tummy hurts.

Fast forward one more hour.  Daniel and I had just completed a brand new puzzle of the United States and he gets a funny look on his face.  He said his tummy REALLY hurts.  And I think we all know what happened next.

The Southern United States were good sports, all things considered, as they receive the brunt of the storm.  The Gulf of Mexico was hardest hit, and Florida didn't stand a chance.  But the entire US and Canada ended up in the trash.  There are some smells that just won't ever come out of cardboard.

After we cleaned him up and calmed him down (he hasn't really ever thrown up before so he was a little shaken up) we laughed about the whole thing, saying what a great story this would make someday.

We didn't know then what we know now, or we wouldn't have been laughing:  That was wave one of SIX.  Little man emptied his stomach on the table, in his bed, in the tub, on the couch, in the bathroom and in the living room.  And naturally, all over Mommy and Daddy in the process.  Four hours and five pairs of pajamas later, he finally fell asleep.

He has refused any snacks since then, asking before each bite if the item in question is "healthy".  And it's been pretty much bananas, applesauce and toast for a day.

I thought he had learned his lesson until he told me thoughtfully today, "Mommy, do you know why I threw up?  Because I ate too much candy pie.  And do you know why I ate too much candy pie?  Because I really, really like it.  I do."  

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Video!

A few minutes of fun Christmas moments from our family... Merry Christmas!

Christmas from Fernando Amaro on Vimeo.

A Superhero Christmas

Daniel had a pretty stinkin' good Christmas.  Until about 5 p.m. in the afternoon.  And you'll just have to read the next post for those details because I am NOT writing it out again.

Here's how the day started:  Eating.  Lots of eating.  We do a traditional food line up, starting with Pull-Apart Cake followed shortly by breakfast burritos.  Daniel was a fan of both.

The presents were plentiful, thanks to tons of family members and friends who love spoiling our kiddos.  Mema, Papa and TK slept over on Christmas Eve night, and Mr. David, Quito and Uncle Chris joined us on Christmas Day.  I love my house every day, but I REALLY love it when it's brimming with family.  

Daniel's "big" present from us was the Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots game.  He had asked for a machine/robot and this is as close as we could come.  In retrospect, I didn't realize how loud it was.  Fun, though!

His most played with toy so far has been a simple super hero outfit - cape and mask.  He turns into "Super Saver" and, well, saves the city.

His giant cardboard robot was warmly received, too, to say the least. He started coloring it AND camping out in it.

After a full day of playing, napping, eating (and barfing...!) Daniel sacked out quickly by our Christmas evening backyard fire.  Not that we minded - both Fernando and I enjoyed a few minutes of holding a sleeping not-so-little baby.  

We took down our decorations the next day, ready to move on to January.  We have had a LOT of Christmas over the past two months.  It has been amazing, and chock full of memories.  I'll leave you with this...

... the sweet little tree I have had for years (decades?) and Daniel decided to decorate it for me this year.  Homemade ornaments, little drawings, stickers, paper clips and a toy string of lights.  Christmas has never looked better!  

Friday, December 23, 2011

The S Word

The S Word = Santa.  I'll clarify that now, in case anyone thinks Daniel has taken to cussing.  He hasn't.  Yet.

Every family has to figure out pretty quickly after having kids what they will do with the Santa issue.  For us, the real decision happened this year when Daniel was 4.  Old enough to ask the real questions, young enough to still be sweetly naive.

I could write forever on this, but it came down to a simple statement that we couldn't get out of our heads.

"Our words are true."

Often, and usually in the middle of catching one of our kids trying to get a "yes" from a parent when the other has said "no", we have said this line to our kids.  "Mommy and Daddy's words are true."  The second line is often, "So if Mommy said no, Daddy will say no too" or "So when I said you will get a time out, I meant it."

And for us, the Santa issue boils down to an issue of believing what your parents tell you.  Even if it means tough conversations.  Even if it means redirection if they aren't old enough for the tough conversation (read: sex, death, etc).  And even if it means risking that they will spill the beans at school with another child who DOES believe Santa is real.  I just can't rationalize lying to my kiddo in order to protect the imagination of another child.  (It's ok if you want to yell at me when my 2-year-old ruins it for your kid.  I can take it.)

So, this year we told Daniel and Violet that Santa is pretend.  They asked and we answered:  He is based on a real historical figure (the Veggie Tales version of St. Nicholas is fabulous, by the way) and it's fun to pretend with Santa, watch movies about him, hang some ornaments on the tree with his face on them.  But he is pretend.  We don't open presents from him, we don't write letters to him, and we talk WAY more about the faith-based meaning of Christmas than about the commercialization bit.

I do think we made the right choice for our family.  We had a photo done with Santa recently, and Daniel and Violet had a blast.  The next day, Daniel said, "Mommy, is God real?  Because you told me Santa is pretend but I saw him last night.  So maybe Santa is real and God is pretend."  Talk about dangerous.  It led to a great conversation and Daniel has been crystal clear since then on real vs pretend in the world of God and Santa.  But it illuminated CLEARLY that my validation of truth to him is his foundation.  He can question and postulate based on that foundation, but we as parents are responsible for the base knowledge.  And I'm not risking messing that up.

So, there you go.  Our take on Santa in the Amaro house.  Ho ho ho, y'all.  

Monday, December 19, 2011

Stage, Round Two

After the infamous "Anti Performance" of the week before, we were curious about what would happen at Daniel's church choir performance this week.

Here's what happened... pretty much the whole time.  (That's him on the far right, by the way...)

He didn't totally freeze, but it would appear that his moratorium on performances is still in effect.  He was more interested in the big screens behind him (and also why he couldn't get his fingers to "snap") than in singing or dancing at all.

That's ok... he'd be cute in a potato sack.  

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Growing Up

After Violet's performance, we headed to the park to get a few photos of her wearing the Red Dress from my childhood.  As a nice byproduct, we also got some killer shots of Daniel.  He kept leading us on adventures (while singing the "Going On Adventures" song, naturally) and pointing out how the leaves are yellow, so it must be Fall.

I am amazed at how much he is changing daily.  His humor... his speech... his character... his individuality.  I simply fall more in love with him every day.