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Archive for August, 2010

Your grandpa was awesome! Week #34

Dear Luki,

Even though it’s 10:30 p.m. on the eve of our trip to Venezuela and I haven’t finished packing yet, I made a commitment to write these letters every week and I’m sticking to it! Thankfully, your stuff has been packed for about a week on account of your father, the lieutenant of timeliness, productivity and efficiency. (That’s why today you were wearing a pair of size six month pants as shorts, all your good clothes are tucked away in a suitcase.)

Anyway, here are some things I want you to know about your grandpa this week:

1. The first time I went to Venezuela, your other grandpa (your daddy’s dad) was very sick. Before I left, your grandpa (my dad) casually, but seriously, reminded me to be nice. Simple advice, but it was important because sometimes — and I really think I’ve gotten better since becoming your mom — I’m not that nice to other people. I can be selfish and self-absorbed, I’ll admit it. Anyway, the moment I saw your dad’s dad, I started crying. And I’m not typically a crier, but he looked really weak and frail, and I felt so much compassion for him and the rest of his family in that moment! I don’t know if my reaction had anything to do with what my dad said to me before I left, but I remember thinking, later, that the way I felt about my future husband’s family during that first visit to their home would have made him proud.

2. Your grandma bought you a pair of Crocs this week. I really hope that when you read this in the future Crocs no longer exist, because they are the ugliest shoes in the history of mankind. However! You have hamburger shaped feet and they are the only shoes we can put on them without the endeavor turning into a wrestling match that can only be won (sometimes) if both your father and I take you on. Anyway, she was telling me that it really surprised her that a pair of tiny children’s shoes made of a Styrofoam-like material set her back $27. But then she said, “It’s whatever. Just like your dad used to say, it’s not like you can put the $27 on his feet.” And I laughed. And I thought it was important for you to hear about this. Because you can’t put money on your feet. You can’t put it in your belly. You can’t live inside money or go on vacation to it. So you might as well spend it, even if it’s on really ugly shoes.

3. Since your grandpa’s been gone, I tend to always ask myself what he would do or say in the situations I encounter. Two days ago, your grandma lost her cell phone and when she called (from a stranger’s phone) to tell me, she seemed really upset. Initially, I was upset too. I mean, losing a cell phone these days is like losing an appendage. But after a little while, I thought about how your grandpa would react and knew exactly what he would have said: “Eh, more was lost in the war, it’s no big deal.” And it isn’t, Luki. In the grand scheme of things cell phones and Crocs and unpacked suitcases the night before vacation are no big deal. Being nice, showing compassion, remembering those who deeply impacted your life — those are the things that matter. The people in your life are the biggest deal of all. Always remember that.

Love,

Mom

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Heading out

The past few days have been kind of hectic in my household. Over the weekend, I was out of town for one of my best friend’s bachelorette weekend. It was really fun. The beach, and the sun, and the wine, and the girl talk. All lovely and wonderful things. But, to be honest, my favorite part was driving three and half hours each way by myself. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had so much time just for me. And I listened to my favorite music loudly on the stereo, and talked to myself about some things, and yelled out the window of my car on an empty stretch of highway, and it was really nice to feel like an individual.

When I got home, Ton Ton was feeding Luki his lunch and he yelled out MAAA MAAA as soon as he saw me. Just like that, it felt great to be part of a family again. And, believe it or not, that feeling continued, even after his diaper exploded a few minutes later.

Everything seems to indicate that the explosion was caused by a tooth. It’s like Luki’s body says, “if my mouth has to endure the discomfort of a bone protruding from its gums, then I’m going to do everything in my power to bring discomfort to others. In the form of the nastiest, smelliest, stickiest poop you have ever seen.”

It’s perfect timing, really. Toxic Poop is just what we need on the plane when we’re on our way to Venezuela.

Wait, have I failed to mention?

WE ARE LEAVING FOR VENEZUELA IN TWO DAYS!!

That’s in ALL CAPS because I’m super excited. And also because I have yet to pack a single item of clothing. The best kind of excitement is the one tinged by intense pressure, methinks.

We are going to visit Ton Ton’s family and it’s great because they live in a city near the water so we get to go to the beach. And it’s not just any beach, it’s a Latin American beach where every twenty seconds a vendor walks by selling empanadas, or oysters, or corn on the cob, and I just lie there and say yes! yes! yes! and more please!

The water is crystal clear and the sand is like powder, but the food….THE FOOD IS WHAT MAKES IT TOTALLY WORTH IT.

Ton Ton’s mom, aka Mamacita, is super excited about this trip. She calls everyday to talk to us about the content of our suitcase. DON’T BRING THE BABY ANY CLOTHES, I ALREADY BOUGHT HIM EVERYTHING HE WILL NEED! NO NEED TO PACK HIS TOILETRIES, I BOUGHT HIM A BOX OF SOAP AND SHAMPOO! DON’T BRING ANY FLIP FLOPS, I GOT EACH OF YOU A PAIR! OH…AND I GOT AILEN SOME WINE, I KNOW HOW MUCH SHE LIKES WINE!

To which I can only say, yes! yes! yes! and more please!

I plan to take my laptop, but I’m not sure how much posting I’ll be doing from abroad. And the reason for that is totally the limited Internet access in Mamacita’s house. It’s got nothing to do with the wine.

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Your grandpa was awesome! Week #33

Dear Luki,

I started writing you these letters because I wanted you to become intimately familiar with your grandpa; I didn’t want him to just be a picture hanging on the wall and a few casual anecdotes. Little did I know that, throughout this process, I would become intimately familiar with him too.

When someone is around all the time, you don’t really stop to analyze his character. To appreciate all of his qualities. You take him for granted and become exasperated with his flaws. You kiss him hello and goodbye out of habit. You only make him feel special on the pertinent holidays and birthdays. And you don’t see the inspiration his life can bring to your own.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the letter I wrote to you last week. About your grandpa’s work ethic. His devotion to always doing things right. And I’ve been thinking about myself. I often try to get away with the minimum effort. I give up on projects when they pose the smallest challenge. I rarely take on new initiatives in my life.

And as I wrote that letter to you last week, I felt like a hypocrite. How can I ask you to try your best if I am too lazy to get up when my alarm goes off in the morning? Too complacent to expand my horizons? Too scared to aim for a better version of me?

After your grandpa died, I felt jolted. Like I was taken by the shoulders and shaken until things were clear and in focus. But that feeling was waned. Things are cloudy again. Blurred by a desire to sleep in, wander aimlessly, do nothing.

But these letters? They give me a little nudge. And I am finding the inspiration I never accepted when your grandpa was here to give it in person.

Because I know that all the letters I write to you about him won’t come close to impacting you the way my example will.

And I don’t want to just tell you what kind of man should be, I want to show you.

I promise to try harder.

Love,

Mom

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On pets

After writing my last post about Luki and his encounter with a puppy, I feel that I should admit something to you guys:

I don’t like dogs. Or cats. Or pets in general. Neither does Ton Ton.

I guess this is something we will reconsider if Luki grows up to love furry creatures and requests we share our home with an animal, but I’m really hoping it doesn’t have to come to that.

My aversion to pets probably has to do with growing up with a mom who believes animals are the root of all manner of deadly diseases. After all, you can’t disinfect a dog’s tongue with a Clorox wipe.

But listen you guys, if you are pet owners, I want you to know that I still love you. Really. I do. Let me tell you a little story to prove it:

(Setting — A housewarming party at my house, I am talking to a group of friends and family. Included is my brother in law. He has two dogs. The dogs “sign” my birthday cards and pose for professional family portraits with him and his wife. In matching sweaters.)

A friend who knows how I feel about animals: I think I’m going to get you a puppy for your new house.

Me: Ha ha ha! Yea. No way.

Brother in law: What? You don’t like dogs?

Me: No.

Brother in law: Oh. But you like my dogs, right?

Me: Honestly?

(At this point my younger, yet infinitely more mature, brother, who has been watching this exchange from a safe distance, turns around and walks as far away as he can. As if to say, “Just because I’m related to her, doesn’t mean I will be associated with her complete lack of filters!”)

No. I don’t like your dogs.

(I suddenly realize I basically just insulted what he considers to be his offspring. Quick, must find a way to pull my foot out of my mouth!)

But, um-ahem-cough-cough, I LOOVE HOW YOU LOVE YOUR DOGS!!

See? I told you. I still love all you pet owners out there. Especially the way you love your animals.

Just don’t bring them to my house.

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He's on to her

He's on to her

To counteract the dee-pression in the last couple of entries to this blog, here is a cute picture of my kid:

I stole that pic off our friend Sam’s blog because I didn’t have my camera that day. I’ve been noticing that we don’t nearly take as many pictures of Luki as we used to. This parenting thing is soo old news to us now.

If you know us is in real life and have friended us on Facebook, then you probably remember the avalanche of photographs on my husband’s wall after our son’s birth. Entire albums titled, “Luki’s first day,” “Luki’s second day,” “Luki: Days 3, 4, and 5,” “Luki comes home,” “Luki goes to the park,” etc. By now, I think we’ve already established to the Internet that our son has a serious case of The Cute, so unless it’s his birthday or we’re on vacation, we don’t really pull out the camera much.

That picture was taken last weekend at a show Ton Ton’s band was doing in a local restaurant. Luki had a blast clapping to the beat of the music and running around the wide open space.

He also made a new friend. A puppy.

We’ve taught him all about puppies through picture books and stuffed animals, but Ton Ton and I don’t own any pets so he doesn’t get to interact with real live guau guaus* very often.

(*Spanish, dogs say guau guau, not woof woof. Also, frogs say crua crua instead of ribbit. Apparently animals can get lost in translation too.)

Anyway, he loves furry creatures. He hugs and kisses and licks and bites and jumps on his stuffed puppies all the time. Because he loves them, obviously. And that is exactly what he tried to do to the real life canine at the restaurant.

He headed straight for the puppy, arms wide open, repeating guau guau guau guau. And before we could stop him, his skin and the puppy’s fur had come in contact.

Wait. Have I not mentioned that Big E was with us?

Yea. She was. And she lost her marbles. Because the baby touched the dog, and dogs are dirty, and I can’t believe you don’t carry a bottle of hand sanitizer in your diaper bag and we REALLY need to teach him the difference between toy animals, which are cute, and real animals, which harbor deadly diseases in every inch of their bodies!!

It was hilarious. And immediately after, Luki picked up a rock and put it in his mouth, sending her completely over the edge. This child is going to get an infeeeeeeeeeection!!

I think he does it on purpose. And I love him so much more for it.

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Your grandpa was awesome! Week #32

Dear Luki,

I know that I’m not setting the best example by what I’m about to confess, but here it goes anyway: I really don’t like getting up to go to work in the morning. I could say that it’s because I can’t stand to leave you every day, but that would be a lie. I’ve never liked it. Not even before you were born. I’d rather sleep, or read a book, or lounge around in my pajamas all day than sit behind a desk. Doing nothing is one of my favorite hobbies.

I assure you that I did not inherit that laziness from your grandpa. He kept busy all the time, if not with work, with projects around the house or favors for friends and family. And even though he liked relaxing and getting away, his body just wasn’t wired for leisure.

Without fail, he would get sick on the first few days of every vacation. It was never anything specific, just a general, unexplained discomfort. Your grandma would always say that it was just his body reacting to the lack of work. I think she was right. One time, when they went on a cruise, he woke up startled and confused in the middle of the night because he’d been dreaming that he was hanging up drywall throughout the ship’s cabins.

And it wasn’t just his total willingness to always take on tasks and projects, it was his commitment to doing them right. Whatever they were. I can’t tell you how many times I grew frustrated with him because he turned what I considered a simple chore — like hanging up a painting, for example — into a huge ordeal. He would poke around the walls looking for the wooden beams that provided the most support, measure to confirm it was absolutely centered, bring out his level to verify that it was straight, and dig around for the perfect screws to hold the frame. It took a lot longer than eyeballing it, but, once he placed it on the wall, it was always right on the first try.

The day of his accident he wasn’t supposed to be on that ladder. He’d gone to the work site to clean up. His company had finished all the work they were hired to do. And then, he noticed a few tiny holes in the ceiling, an imperfection left behind by another contractor. So he climbed up the ladder to fix it. To make it perfect. To do things right, as always.

It’s been really hard for me to accept that something so trivial has altered our lives in such a heartbreaking way. And as much as I try to not imagine the scene of his accident, I can’t keep my mind from going there almost every day. I hate those damn ceiling holes, and the contractor who left them there. I hate that work site, and that stupid ladder. I hate that whole damn day.

But I can’t get mad at your grandpa for trying to finish his job, for wanting to turn in perfect work. Because I’d rather miss a father who gave it his best all the time and in every aspect of his life, than still have one who was just second-rate.

Love,

Mom

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Therapy

Remember back in the day, when I used to update this blog several times a week with boob and poop and crazy grandma stories? Yea. Those were the good times. Back when the most mobile thing about Luki were the projectiles flying out of his bottom.

Now? The speed at which he traverses the entire house on his tippy toes rivals anything NASA has sent into orbit.

(Luki walks on his toes most of the time. At first I thought it was cute, but then I googled “toe walking” and discovered that, although it’s very common, it could be an early indicator of Cerebral Palsy, or Autism, or Sensory Processing Disorder. And, because I’m crazy, that’s what I’ve chosen to believe.

No, there are no other symptoms that point to any those ailments. And my mom apparently walked on her toes for most of her toddler years. She turned out relatively fine, you know, minus her inability to leave the house without a package of Clorox wipes. Still, I have continued to google and type “toe walking” into the search boxes of blogs about kids with special needs. Because, did I mention? I’M CUH-RAZY. It’s just like when I was pregnant and convinced myself I saw a bird claw in the ultrasound picture. I was sure I’d give birth to a pigeon/human hybrid even though I’d never had intercourse with a feathered creature.)

Anyway, despite only using about a third of his foot, he moves at lightning speed. So I spend the vast majority of my time at home trying to stop him from hurling himself down the stairs or from opening the kitchen drawers and licking the steak knives.

What is that you say? Most of these hassles could be resolved by babyproofing our home?

Yea. I thought the first three paragraphs of this post had already established that I don’t really do rational.

Also, Luki goes to bed late. Like at 9:30 p.m., sometimes 10:00 p.m. We have two reasons for putting him on this schedule. Number One: We really like him. And since we both work and get home in the late afternoon, we like to extend our time in the evening with him. Number Two: We like to sleep in. By putting him to bed late, we can get him to sleep until about 8:30 or 9 in the morning, which is awesome.

I have no idea where this post is going.

Oh yea. I think I’m supposed to be trying to explain why I haven’t been blogging as much. That’s it. Luki and his late night toe walking are keeping me busy.

But also, another reason, perhaps the biggest reason, is that I’ve had some sadness for the last couple of weeks.

I don’t know, you guys. Everything. Life. My job. Time. Mostly, that my dad is still dead.

He is still dead and I don’t feel any better about it. And I think I psyched myself up with this “everything happens for a reason” mentality and have been expecting something amazing. I’ve been looking for The Reason, but I just can’t find it anywhere.

And the clarity of the days after his death is gone. You know? The perspective, the Wow Being Alive is Awesome feeling. So I feel the sadness doubly. Because he is dead. And because sometimes I still let stupid, little things upset me even though the most upsetting thing of all already happened. It makes me sad to feel sad about anything other than the fact he’s not here.

And in case you were still unsure, that last sentence puts the final nail in the coffin: I am totally insane.

So there you have it. I’ve been busy, and sad, and completely nuts. And now that I’ve told you, well, I feel a bit better. Thanks for that.

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