Everybodylovesbaby

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Your grandpa was awesome! Week#24

Dear Luki,

Father’s Day is this Sunday. And, as it tends to happen whenever a holiday pops up on the calendar, I am missing your grandpa more than ever.

I still remember everything about the last Father’s Day we spent together. I was eight and a half months pregnant and your dad and I hosted a barbecue to celebrate some of the fathers in our lives. We bought your grandpa a hat that said #1 Grandpa and he absolutely loved it. He was so proud and excited, so ready to live up to the hat’s message.

I posted a picture of him in the hat and wrote about that day in my blog. And I said that you were a lucky baby to have the #1 Grandpa.

I still find it incredibly difficult to believe that things have changed so much in the past year. That you won’t ever get to wish him a Happy Father’s Day. That he won’t get to relish all the joys of having a grandchild. That I won’t get to buy him a present ever again.

Even though it’s been more than six months since he passed away, those truths still seem mistakable, unintelligible, surreal.

But the thing about good fathers, Luki, is that they leave indelible marks on the the people they come in contact with. Your grandpa only had two biological children, but there are countless people who bear his stamp. People whose lives he touched, people who learned something from him, people who admired his way of looking at the world.

A few days ago, the faucet in our kitchen sink broke. If it had happened a year ago, I would have called your grandpa and asked him to repair it, but instead, we had to call a friend. A friend who knew your grandpa and worked with him for some time. He fixed it right away. And when I thanked him for a job well-done, he said to me, “your dad taught me how to do this, he’s the one you should thank.”

And I do thank him. I thank him every day. But not for teaching a young man how to fix a leaky faucet…

I thank him for spreading himself out so much. For leaving bits and pieces of him all over our world so that we could stumble upon him when we least expect it. Because when you put all those traces together, they continue to form the picture of a #1 Grandpa.

You are still a lucky, lucky boy indeed.

Love,

Mom

Competing birthdays

I love my birthday. LOVE IT. I have no qualms about celebrating it the entire month of October. Feel no shame in soliciting lavish and extravagant gifts from my family. Suffer zero remorse when declaring it The Most Important Day of the Year every single year. I truly and honestly believe that October 24 is far superior to all the other days on the calendar.

I mean, I care about the traditional holidays and other people’s birthdays, but not as much as my own. Not at all. This year, for example, I am contending for The Worst Wife of the Decade Award by abandoning Ton Ton on Father’s Day and his birthday.

It’s not completely by choice. On Father’s Day weekend, I’m going up to DC for a concert. But it’s not just any concert. It’s Silvio Rodriguez, one of the most amazing Latin American voices of all time, my favorite musician ever, the same one who has been denied a U.S. visa for the past 30 years and was finally approved last month. It’s a dream come true. A once in a lifetime opportunity. And Ton Ton isn’t really a fan, so I’m going to the show with my mom.

On my husband’s birthday, I’m going to be at a conference for work. A legitimate, important, serious gathering of the minds IN NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA! LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL, BABY! Ahem. I mean, work, work, work. Busy. Busy. Busy.

If Ton Ton ever abandoned me on my birthday, it is likely that the whole ordeal would end up in divorce. Unless the abandonment was part of his plan to throw me off course the giant surprise party he was hosting for me. In Paris. With all my friends. And a special guest appearance by Silvio Rodriguez. Then I guess I could forgive him. Maybe.

In conclusion, Ton Ton is a saint. And I’m a terrible person.

But that’s not really the point I intended to make with this post. You see, even though I can’t stand the thought of there being a more important date than October 24, for the past few weeks I have been preparing for July 2 as if it were the King of the Calendar.

July 2: The day Luki was born.

There’s going to be a party. With a theme. And custom invitations. And special favors. And plenty of food. And I may even try my hand at a craft project for the decor (I just need to figure out how to cut in a straight line first).

Ridiculous, I know. He is turning one, he won’t have any idea of what’s going on. And also? It’s July 2. Not October 24. What is wrong with me?

You could say that motherhood is making me into a more selfless person. That I’m becoming more mature and finally coming to the realization that it’s not all about me. That I love Luki so much, I’m willing to give up The Most Important Day of the Year to him, because July 2, 2009 was The Most Important Day of my Entire Life.

You could say all that.

And I would respond that if July 2 is upping the ante with a themed party and handmade decorations…October 24 better get a trip to Paris. And a special guest appearance by Silvio Rodriguez.

P.S. I wrote some more about Luki’s birthday celebration on Peanut Butter & Guava, my new blog over at the Charlotte Observer.

Your grandpa was awesome! Week #23

Dear Luki,

We didn’t know whether you were a boy or a girl until you came out and told us. Surprises are nice, but the main reason I convinced your dad to not find out your sex was because I was afraid we’d get inundated in a sea of pink, frilly dresses if the ultrasound revealed you were female. And I’m really not into pink. Or frilly.

I’ve never been a very typical girl. When I was little, I preferred to stack blocks and read books than to play dress-up. And now that I’m big, I hardly ever wear make up, avoid high heeled shoes at all costs, and don’t own any real jewelry except for my wedding ring.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with getting gussied up every once in a while (and sometimes I wish I knew how to put on make up and walk in heels so that people would stop confusing me for a high school student), but the thing is, I’ve never felt like I needed to do any of that stuff to feel pretty.

Growing up, I heard your grandpa tell his wife that she was beautiful every single day. It didn’t matter what she was wearing. It didn’t matter how much she weighed, or if she was sick. It didn’t matter if she cut her hair or grew it out, or decided to stop dying it. She was always beautiful.

And so was I.

Every time your grandma and I went shopping, we’d come home and try on everything we’d bought in front of your grandpa. He would watch us with genuine interest and sing our praises. Always.

Nothing ever made us look fat. Every color complemented us perfectly. And, if we were worried that we’d paid too much for something, his answer was unequivocal: we were worth it.

A few days ago, I bought a new dress. I tried it on at home before going to sleep one night, looked at myself in the mirror, and felt beautiful in it. And as I took it off and put on my pajamas (a pair of your dad’s boxer shorts and an old stained college t-shirt with a hole on its left sleeve), I felt beautiful as well.

Tell the women in your life that they’re pretty every single day, Luki. It’s the only thing they’ll need to always feel that way.

Love,

Mom

Two quick things

One

I guess I should have done this on the actual day which was June 4th, but I didn’t realize that was the actual day until June 6th when I was browsing through my archives and looked at the date of my first post. So here it goes: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR EVERYBODY LOVES BABY! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!

I’ve been blogging for over year, yo! That’s huge for me. Seriously, if I were to count the number of things I’ve stuck with for longer than a year, I’d only need one hand and I’d have a few fingers left over.

I’ve come a long way since that first post in which, at 36 weeks pregnant, I introduced you to the cast of characters. A looooong way. The past 12 months have been the most defining of my life, and I am so glad that I kept a record of them.

Thank you for coming by to read my ramblings for these 365+ days.

Two

I am a featured blogger at the Charlotte Moms section of the Charlotte Observer. It’s not really a big deal and I’m not getting paid for it or anything, but, you know, if you were so inclined to go there and read what I have to say and leave a comment or two, that would be cool. You don’t have to. It’s whatever you want to do. No pressure.

Anyway, the name of my blog on there is Peanut Butter and Guava and it will focus on raising a bilingual/bi-cultural child. I’ve only written one post so far (it’s about sweet and condensed milk!), but the plan is to update it every week. We’ll see if I fare as well with that endeavor as I’ve done with Everybody Loves Baby.

That’s it. I’m done talking about myself. What’s new with you?

Celebrating my heritage

Ton Ton makes a living organizing cultural events for a non-profit organization that serves the Latino community here in Charlotte. These are usually massive ordeals and he spends months planning them — from booking the artists, to securing sponsorship, to coordinating food and craft vendors.

And this is why my husband completes me. Because while I can’t make it out of the house with Luki without forgetting some essential item (the other day I took him out without shoes), Ton Ton can put on a wildly successful event for thousands of people without overlooking the slightest detail.

Anyway.

Last Friday, he organized a Caribbean celebration that showcased the cultures of Cuba, Puerto Rico and The Dominican Republic. Since I’m a native of the region, he asked me to give a short speech to introduce the Cuban segment of the program.

I decided to prepare some remarks about the things that unite us as a people and said something like, “Despite Cuba’s controversial and polemic regime, there are a few things we can all agree on…”

Then I talked about mojitos, Ibrahim Ferrer, and how stylish everyone looks in a Guayabera. One of the comments I made was, “It’s not a party unless there’s a whole pig roasting in the backyard, a pot of black beans and rice on the stove, and a batch of tostones in the fryer.”

Apparently, I can now add clairvoyant to my resume, because the next day we went to a Cuban friend’s baby shower and were greeted by this:

And thus ensued the greatest (and most delicious) baby shower game I’ve ever played: Fight for the First Piece of Crispy Crackling.

It's our monthiversary! Part XI

Luki turned 11 months old a couple of days ago and we have finally figured it out. It took us a while because his owner’s manual and remote control never made it of my uterus, but we now know how to put him on mute. The secret? The Saltine!

Just the other day, he was crawling around the kitchen opening and closing the cabinets (no, we haven’t exactly babyproofed yet) and got his little fingers caught in one of the doors…he started screaming and wailing and, for a moment, I thought he was seriously hurt. Then, I showed him a saltine. He stopped crying immediately, stretched out his hand, and was all smiles as he bit into the cracker with his gums and 1.5 teeth.

As soon as he hears the sound of the plastic wrapper they come in, he perks up, starts pointing in their general direction, and doesn’t stop until he has one in his hands. Big E swears that she’s even heard him say galleta (the Spanish word for cracker) and is quite upset that he refuses to say abu (short for abuela, the Spanish word for grandma).

All I can say about that is: This kid’s got his priorities straight!

In other news, he stands for about five seconds unsupported (but is smart enough to only try it on a bed to ensure a soft landing), claps at the end of every song he hears (even if it’s just a single note on his toy electric guitar), starts laughing every time he sees us laughing (as if he totally understood the joke someone just told), attempts to feed himself with a spoon (although he ends up putting the handle part in his mouth half the time)…and teaches us something new about love, and patience, and kindness every. single. day (much more so than any owner’s manual ever could).

Your grandpa was awesome! Week #22

Dear Luki,

As you’ve probably figured out by now, your dad and I love to sleep. And we hope to instill that same passion for naps and lazy weekend mornings in you from an early age. You know, we are very impressed by your vast repertoire of tricks — from clapping on command to saying MA-MA — but nothing pleases us more than when you manage to sleep in past 8 a.m. It is, by far, your greatest accomplishment to date.

Your grandpa loved to sleep too. But not in the same lazy, hit-the-snooze-button-three-times, no-time-for-breakfast, race-to-work-every-morning way we love to sleep. He always woke up at an ungodly hour to go to work and often put in double digit hour days, but he managed to sneak in naps at the most unusual times. He used to say that he wasn’t napping, that he was “resting his eyes,” and he did it while stopped at a red light, in the middle of conversations, at the cinema, sometimes even as he stood in line at the post office or the grocery store.

I remember when I was a little girl, he would lie next to me at night and attempt to tell me a bedtime story. And then the little dog asked his friend the squirrel…zzzzzzzzz…… “Daddy!” I’d say and tap him on the shoulder, “What happened to the little dog?” He’d wake up, startled, and continue… And then the hippopotamus found her baby and they all lived happily ever after. “What? Where did that hippo come from?” I’d try to reason…as his eyes closed again while he mumbled something about a giraffe.

The thing about your grandpa, though, was that even if he was in a deep slumber, he had the ability to wake up and act instantaneously.

Your grandma loves to tell the story about the night he heard me calling because I needed to go to the bathroom. He got up right away, but instead of going to fetch me, he picked up your sleeping grandma and attempted to take her to the toilet. As she screamed, asking him to put her down, he kept shushing and trying to comfort her. It wasn’t until he was halfway down the hall that he realized it wasn’t me in his arms, instead, his perfectly capable of going to the bathroom on her own wife.

The speed with which he reacted was impressive. Sometimes we would walk into his bedroom and startle him while he was napping, just to see how quickly he managed to spring to his feet, ready to work, to fix, to handle any situation that needed his attention.

Luki, as much as I am encouraging you to sleep soundly right now so that we can have our lazy Saturday mornings back, I really hope that you grow up to be the kind of man who doesn’t lollygag, who can act quickly despite being tired or sleepy, who is always ready to spring to his feet.

Love,

Mom