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The Luki One

We threw Luki a birthday party on Saturday. It’s the first time I’ve ever organized a shindig that entailed more than chips and dip, a few pieces of meat on the grill, and an Evite suggesting that guests bring their own beer.

And guess what? It was really fun! Both, the partying and the organizing. Yes, that’s right, I just said that I had fun PLANNING SOMETHING! Seriously you guys, sometimes, I don’t even recognize this new self.

Anyway. Let me show you what I did. Actually, I need to clarify that… let me show you what I did with the help of a bunch of incredible friends and relatives:

The theme for the celebration was Music/The Caribbean/Luki’s Favorite Silly Face/An Explosion of Bright Colors.

Here is the invitation.

It was designed by our friend Juan Miguel Marin. Juan is also responsible for that lovely banner at the top of this blog, and these rockin’ prints in Luki’s room, and well, he also did our wedding invitation, and our baby shower invitation, and basically, he’s our Family’s Personal Graphic Designer, FPGD for short. If your family doesn’t have one, I highly recommend it. Actually, I highly recommend him.

Juan also helped us with the party favors. We gave each child in attendance a tambourine and a mixed CD with some of Luki’s (and our) favorite songs. Our FPGD designed the art on the tambourine and the CD. (For the tambourines, we printed the design onto clear labels and just stuck it on)

The party was held at a shelter in a public park. I had the fantastic idea of hanging bright paper lanterns from the ceiling. I’m full of fantastic ideas, creative concepts, wonderful visions… it’s the executing part that gets me every time. Thankfully, my brother, his engineering degree from Georgia Tech, and his handy friend Isaac were able to make it happen. Lovely, isn’t it?

That bunting in the background? I made it almost entirely by myself. I cut out the triangles, AND the letters, AND glued them together — but then I had to get a friend to help me sew the ribbon on top. You see, I took Home Economics in the eighth grade and on the day the teacher taught us how to sew on a button, I spent the ENTIRE class period trying to put the thread through the needle. The bell rang, and I still hadn’t made it past the first step. I am not crafty. I am not crafty at all. And making 75% of that bunting is seriously one of my greatest accomplishments.

(It’s in Spanish. It means Congratulations Luki)

The cake was made by our friend Aivel and her mom. It tasted even better than it looked. They need to open up their own bakery. And also, Luki needs to marry Aivel’s daughter, that way, as a relative in law, I can have unlimited access to all the pretty cakes I want.

But the best looking part of the party was BY FAR this stylish fella.

Don’t you agree?

It's our anniversary!

He’s one. ONE! It’s been twelve months since that last big push, since that unforgettable moment in which a nurse laid a wrinkly, purple little boy on my chest. And to this day, I am still amazed at that overwhelming feeling of “YES! OF COURSE! IT’S HIM! IT WAS ALWAYS HIM! IT HAD TO BE HIM!” that I experienced. Never in my life had I been so certain about anything.

And if there is one word to describe this past year, that’s it. Certainty.

It’s funny, because throughout my pregnancy I felt just the opposite. I was insecure, worried, afraid. And with good reason. My whole life, I’d been irresponsible and forgetful. Klutzy, self-absorbed, undomesticated, impatient. I did not fit my mind’s mold of what a mother should be and do.

And yet, on that morning, in a magical instant, I was certain. Not of my ability to do it all right. No. Pushing a human being out of my body didn’t suddenly make me more dutiful and accountable. But I was certain that I could do it. That, I would do it. And, for the first time ever, I was really and truly determined to try my very best.

Over the past year, that feeling has remained a constant. And it didn’t matter whether I was being attacked by projectile poop or witnessing my son’s very first steps…I always felt like I was in the right place at the right time. Like I was born to to be his mother.

And I know it’s his birthday and he’s the one who should be showered with gifts, but no store bought present will ever compare to the confidence and purpose he has given my life.

Happy Birthday my beautiful boy!

The Luki One from Ailen Arreaza on Vimeo.

Your grandpa was awesome! Week #26

Dear Luki,

In two days you will turn one year old. One year old! Typing that just now made me a little dizzy. Time is spinning way too fast and I can’t seem to keep my balance.

Even though you will not remember it or even realize that it’s happening, we are throwing you a birthday party on Saturday. There’s going to be tasty food, and a cake, and lovely decorations, and I know everyone is going to have a wonderful time… but I also know that it will be one of those moments in which I will miss your grandpa more than ever. It seems terribly unfair that he didn’t get to go to a single one of your birthday parties.

But today, Luki, I want you to know that, although you only knew him for five short months, you remind me of your grandpa every single day.

You see, a few weeks before he died, while you and I were visiting him and grandma, he made you laugh for the first time. Your grandpa started jumping in front of you like a frog and suddenly, you began to giggle so hard that you could barely breathe. It was magical.

But what I remember most about that moment aren’t your delightful squeals, it’s your grandpa’s face. He looked so proud and overjoyed to have provoked those giggles! And now, every time I see you explode into a fit of laughter, I think of that day. I can see him, a wide smile spread across his face and a twinkle in his eye.

It’s a wonderful, happy memory that you helped to create. Thank you.

So Luki, even though your grandpa won’t physically be there on Saturday, I am convinced that his presence will be felt amidst your laughter.

Don’t you ever stop laughing sweet boy.



It's his ear's fault

He may look like a baby who just kicked crawling in the butt, but in actuality Luki has been sick for the past few days. It started with a runny nose and some chest congestion, and then, over the weekend, I noticed he was a little warm and discovered he had a slight fever.

When we saw that he was remaining still for more than thirty seconds at a time, we figured something must really be wrong, so Ton Ton stayed home from work yesterday and took him to the doctor. The diagnosis? Double ear infection!

My poor baby!

They put him on a round of antibiotics and he’s been doing much better for the last 24 hours or so. And by much better, I mean he has been walking/climbing/crawling/opening-and-closing-kitchen-cabinets without so much as a millisecond break to catch his breath.

As sad as I am about his ear infections, his visit to the pediatrician helped clear up a little issue we’ve been having with our son.

You see, when the doctor looked in his left year, she couldn’t see whether it was infected or not because he had too much wax in there. Can you believe it? All that wax and he’s not even one!

There is a reasonable explanation for this: Even though Luki looks exactly like me, he seems to have inherited his father’s exceptional ability to produce ear wax. I googled it and it is hereditary.

Every few years, Ton Ton has to go to the doctor to have his ear canal irrigated and he always comes home talking about how everything sounds so much sharper and no wonder his bandmates kept telling him to lower the volume on his guitar. (I’m sorry, was that more information that you needed to know? Do you not come here to read about my husband’s ear secretions? I apologize for that.)

The point I’m trying to make is that the candle factory in Luki’s left ear totally explains why he’s been ignoring us every single time we tell him to stop licking the electrical cords. Or leave the remote control alone. Or please, for the love of God, do not open the kitchen cabinets and suck on the Windex!

It’s not that he’s headstrong…it’s that he couldn’t hear us! Poor baby. So young and so misunderstood.

What? You want to know how come he immediately starts to pay attention any time the words saltine, banana, or strawberry come out of our mouths?

Obviously, his right ear is reserved for food related matters only.

It's official

He’s been doing this for a couple of days now, but I was just able to capture it on camera. If you have a kid, you know how it is — as soon as you want to get a picture of a new milestone, he immediately stops doing it. Put the camera away, and he’ll start walking all over the place again. He’ll walk to the moon and back. But none of your friends will believe you.

Today, I finally got lucky. Or maybe it wasn’t luck. Maybe I was able to snap these pictures because this is it. It’s not something he’s just trying out for size anymore… it’s The Real Deal! Maybe he, like so many humans before him, has chosen the upright position as his primary method of transportation.

The open mouth thing? It totally helps him keep his balance. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Your grandpa was awesome! Week #25

Dear Luki,

I’ve been having a tough time deciding what to write about this week. Sometimes I wish I could tell you about the things your grandpa liked — his hobbies, his passions, his major interests… but every time I try to start a letter like that, I can only think of one thing: us.

I have no stories about his devotion to a favorite sports team; no anecdotes about him going fishing and bringing home a big catch; I can’t share any tales about him playing golf, or poker, or collecting antique cars.

There was only one thing your grandpa cared about. And it was his family.

So, I can tell you that I remember going to the park every Saturday to kick a soccer ball around with him and your uncle Ani. That he stayed up late every time I had a Science Project due and helped me cut the pieces of construction paper in straight lines. That he ironed my pants.

That he called your grandma from work to remind her to take her medications. That he built her a custom closet. That he made her a cup of tea every morning before leaving the house.

I can tell you that he taught your uncle Ani to change the oil in his car. That he wired your dad’s sound system. And that, from the moment he heard you were coming, he talked of nothing else.

And maybe you’ll read this and think, “how boring… to lead such a simple life, to have no passions or hobbies except for your family.”

But I want you to know, Luki, that he was happy. Really and truly content. In need of nothing else. I never once heard him say, “what if” or “if only” or “I wish I would have.” In us, he had it all.

May you grow up to find that same satisfaction, my son.



Father's day, a day late

I spent the weekend out of town with my mom. We went to DC to see Silvio Rodriguez in concert and it was super fun. I will dedicate an entire post to Big E’s antics while we were there, but right now I just want to send a little shout out — albeit a day late — to Daddy Ton:

You know, this whole becoming parents thing was kind of his idea. He was the one who’d bring it up coyly, nonchalantly… maybe we should start trying, it’s not such a crazy thought, babies are cute… I would stare him down, tell him he was delusional, and pour myself a third glass of wine. “What do we know about babies?” I’d say. “Nothing! That’s what.”

Our pregnancy was totally unplanned. When I peed on the stick and saw the two lines, I felt a wave of emotions and, to be perfectly honest, most of them were unpleasant. Ton Ton, on the other hand, only felt one thing: complete and utter happiness. He started jumping for joy right there, in the bathroom, and hasn’t stopped since.

This past weekend, his first one all alone with Luki, he absolutely rocked daddyhood. They went shopping, picked out an inflatable pool, and spent most of their time together relaxing in the water. Ton Ton kept me abreast of everything by sending me dozens of picture text messages.

And as much as I loved hanging out with my mom, walking around my beloved college city, drinking sangria, and seeing my most favoritest musician live, in person…I missed the hell out of those two.

Good call on the whole wanting to become a father thing, Ton Ton. It’s definitely the best idea you’ve had to date.

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