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Ani's Graduation: Part II

Even though there was an instant during our disastrous morning in which I reasoned to myself, “Well, missing graduation isn’t that big a deal…he’ll still be a Georgia Tech graduate even if he doesn’t get to walk with his class,” everyone made it to my brother’s graduation ceremony on time.

Shortly after our arrival at the event, Luki had a meltdown. I think he was sleepy and, since there weren’t any high chairs or shopping carts around for him to nap in, he proceeded to scream at the top of his lungs. A week before, I would have popped out my boob and instantly comforted him, but that was no longer an option.

As I was trying to rock him to sleep on the bleachers, the woman sitting next to Ton Ton whispered loudly, with every intention of being heard, “She needs to get that baby out of here!” And our little family had to step outside in shame.

Now, I understand that crying babies are annoying, I get that. But it’s not like we were at an art gallery or a movie theater. We were in an arena filled with people. Loud people. And also? I guarantee you that Luki’s wails were far more interesting and original than the commencement speaker — some CEO of some major company — who couldn’t come up with anything more creative to tell the 2010 class than: “reach for the stars” and “follow your dreams.” Seriously. He literally used those two phrases.

Anyway, Luki and Ton Ton spent the remainder of graduation isolated, sitting on the top bleachers while I meander back and forth between them and the rest of the family.

But our baby was not the only menace to the sanctity of graduation. As my uncle, mom and aunt were conversing, at their normal, Cuban level during the veeeery long ceremony, the lady sitting in front of them turned around and said, “This is a very special day, could you please keep it down?”

Oh no she didn’t!

Unlike Luki, who couldn’t defend himself from the sneers of the incredibly uptight Georgia Tech parents, my aunt swiftly responded, “We know it’s a special day! That’s why we’re happy and celebrating!” and continued to carry on her conversation.

When it was Ani’s turn to go up for his diploma, my uncle screamed so hard that I’m sure Ms. Canyoupleasekeepitdown’s ears are still ringing.

To sum up, my loud and inappropriate family had an entire section of a basketball arena huffing and puffing, rolling their eyes, and muttering under their breaths.

But it’s all good, because at the end we got to witness this:

The insanity leading up to that moment? Totally worth it.

Your grandpa was awesome! Week #19

Dear Luki,

As I write this, I am looking out at the Caribbean ocean, the breeze tousling my hair. We are on vacation in Mexico, celebrating your uncle Ani’s graduation. You are here too, and even though you will not remember this trip, that’s OK, because we will. We’ll remembered how excited you looked when you first saw the waves, and how, when we put you in the pool, you were scared at first, but ended up clapping and laughing with your daddy after a few minutes.

We miss your grandpa very much. He would have loved it here.

The beach was your grandpa’s favorite place and, whenever we planned a family vacation, I’d always disagree with him about the destination. I like to explore, to visit big cities, go to museums, make intricate itineraries, and walk, walk, and walk some more. Your grandpa, on the other hand, liked to stretch out on the sand, stare at the horizon, and just be.

We are taking it easy on this trip. In part because you are here and we don’t want to get kicked out of any establishments should you have one of your epic tantrums, but also because, in light of everything that’s happened over the past few months, we want to follow your grandpa’s lead and take some time to just be. To fully enjoy these moments without worrying about dinner reservations or long lines at must-see attractions. To breathe, and smile, and realize — and I mean really, truly realize — that sunsets are beautiful, and that we are incredibly lucky to witness them in each other’s presence.

I hope you get to travel the world, Luki. I hope you see masterpieces, and eat at the best restaurants. I hope you visit places that leave you in awe of the magnificence of nature. And while you’re there, I hope you scrap your plans, close your guide book, leave your itinerary behind, and take a moment to marvel at the wonder that is being.

Love,

Mom

Mexico!

We are heading south of the border for a nice tropical vacation tomorrow in celebration of my brother’s college graduation. Actually, technically, we are leaving today, because it’s after midnight. We have plans to head for the airport at 6:30 a.m., and I haven’t finished packing.

I say this to say, I really shouldn’t be blogging right now.

Relax! I won’t abandon my virtual home for a whole week! The house we rented in Mexico has WiFi and we shall return to the regularly scheduled blog programing tomorrow. For now, say a few prayers for us as we embark on a four hour flight without the magic of my boobs.

Oh, and also, could you please click this link? It’d be awesome to land and find out I’m back on the front page again.


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Ani's Graduation: Part I

Before I start talking about the insanity that ensued while we were in Atlanta for Ani’s graduation this past weekend, there are a couple of crucial pieces of information I need to share:

1. Two days before we headed out of town, Luki decided he no longer wanted to nurse. Instead of salivating at the mere sound of the word “teta,” he now cries whenever I try to stick my nipple in his mouth. It’s as if my areola were covered in jalapeño paste. I will elaborate more on this in a later post, but for today’s purposes, you simply need to understand that my boobs — the most effective source of comfort in case of freak out — became worthless. We headed down to Atlanta unarmed against our baby.

2. I know that every family has its sprinklings of nuttiness, but I can assure you that my uncle Camy is the loudest, most inappropriate, craziest relative in the history of the universe. I am not exaggerating. One time, he put my aunt’s chihuahua’s entire head in his mouth. Why? Just because he could. Camy lives in Miami and decided to drive up to attend the graduation.

OK, now that we’ve got that out of the way, our weekend went a little something like this:

Big E, Ton Ton, Luki and I arrived in Atlanta at around 10:00 p.m. on Friday after a smooth and uneventful drive. My uncle, however, didn’t get in until a little after 2:00 a.m. and, since my brother is basically a saint, he headed over to Camy’s hotel to welcome him.

At 2:37 a.m. on Saturday, I received the following picture in the form of a text message from Ani:

That’s the bone from a pork shoulder roast.

Some people, when preparing for a long trip, pack trail mix, a few bags of chips, maybe even sandwiches. My Cuban relatives bring an entire pig’s appendage.

While Ani was eating pork, Ton Ton and I were in our hotel room trying to figure out how to get Luki to calm down without the magic of my boobs. We finally got him to fall asleep on our bed and, rather than risk waking him up in crib transfer maneuver, let him sleep the rest of the night there, nestled between us.

On Saturday morning we had planned to grab a late breakfast with Ani and then start getting ready to head over to his graduation. Graduation was scheduled for 3:00 p.m., but he was supposed to get there at 1:00 p.m. to start lining up.

Ani drove over to our hotel in the morning and parked his car in a shopping center next door.

Breakfast took longer than expected — we had to wait about 45 minutes for a table. Then my aunt, who decided to drive down to Atlanta that very morning, got lost and needed directions. And at 12:48 p.m. Ani was still with us, in Big E’s car, giving my aunt directions over the phone and trying to find her in Atlanta’s hectic traffic while my mom yelled, “YOU HAVE TO GO! LOOK AT THE TIME! YOU STILL HAVE TO SHOWER AND GET READY!!”

After driving around for several minutes with no luck, he decided that it was, in fact, pretty late and he had to head back to campus. We assured him that we would figure out a way to find our aunt. As we pulled into the parking lot where he’d left his car, we found a pink slip on the window. AND A BOOT ON THE FRONT WHEEL.

“THE BOOT!!!” wailed Big E as she got out of the car, her hands on top of her head. Ani, who had kept his cool the entire time, actually said a curse word in front of her, but luckily for him, she was too upset to notice. And I… well I laughed. You all know about my problem with inappropriate laughter.

Fortunately, the guy who put the boot on his car was still hanging around the parking lot, and $75 later, Ani had a free wheel and began to drive back to campus. Just as we were starting to breathe easier and my aunt magically found her way to the same parking lot we were in, we realized that ANI HAD LEFT WITH THE KEYS TO BIG E’S CAR IN HIS POCKET!

It was already 1:23 p.m. We called him, and he turned around, delivered the keys to us, and raced back to campus where he was able to shower and join his class in the nick of time.

And just when we thought things couldn’t get any more out of control, a baby on a nursing strike and the loudest uncle in the world shared the same row at a graduation ceremony…

…More about that in tomorrow’s post.

I get it

We just got back in town after an epic weekend in Atlanta where we celebrated my brother’s college graduation. Don’t worry, there will be a post with details and pictures from his big day, but, right now, before my first official Mother’s Day is over, I just want to say that: I get it.

****

When I was a junior in college, I spent a year studying abroad in Chile and my mom called one day to remind me to look both ways before crossing the busy Santiago streets.

Irrational. I thought. I was 19! I had crossed thousands of streets in my lifetime! Of course I knew to look both ways.

And that’s just one example of the many, many times I’ve thought my mom was crazy.

****

Luki has a blanket that he loves to sleep with. Every night, he curls up next to it and falls asleep, and every night, I get it into my head that, somehow, the blanket has smothered him and I go into his room to make sure he’s still breathing.

Irrational. Blankets are inanimate objects! Luki knows how to pull things away from his face! He is 10 months old, not a newborn.

****

I get it. And my greatest aspiration in life is to become as crazy as she is.

He's got wheels!

I can’t believe I forgot to mention that Luki got a car and his driver’s licence* in the last monthiversary post! It’s a pretty sweet ride, and it gets great gas mileage, although, I’m not sure the red and yellow combination will help its resale value.

*OK fine, he didn’t really get his driver’s licence. He still doesn’t have parallel parking down. But, he totally knows how to 1) grab the keys when we ask him to start the engine, 2) honk the horn, and 3) turn the steering wheel.

Oh, and if you pay close attention to his right hand, you’ll notice that he has figured out how to express his road rage. A tricycle must have cut him off without signaling. I swear, toddlers can be the worst drivers sometimes.

Your grandpa was awesome! Week #18

Dear Luki,

In a couple of days, we’ll be heading down to Atlanta to attend your uncle Ani’s college graduation. He will officially become an Aerospace Engineer and we couldn’t be more excited and proud.

And yet…as it tends to happen in the wake of every important event since that horrible day in November, your grandpa’s absence is more palpable than usual. We can’t believe that he won’t be there to cheer with us as we see Ani walk across the stage, or that he won’t raise his glass at dinner, when we toast to your uncle’s success.

I read a poem the other day that said,

Grief might be easy
if there wasn’t still
such beauty — would be far
simpler if the silver

maple didn’t thrust
it’s leaves into flame,
trusting that spring
will find it again.

Your grandpa’s death would be much more bearable if there weren’t any more graduations. Or weddings. Or birthdays. If the numbers on the calendar skipped over the holidays and summer never came.

Your grandpa’s death would be more bearable, but our lives would be stale and empty.

Before your uncle Ani was born, your grandma was convinced that she was pregnant with a girl. It’s what she wanted. And, since he always adhered to her wishes, your grandpa pretended he wanted another daughter as well. But she assures me that she’d never seen him as happy as when the doctor proclaimed, “it’s a boy!”

A son. To balance out the estrogen in the household. To play baseball and soccer with. To mold into a good man.

Whenever I get really sad about you growing up without your grandpa, I find comfort in your uncle Ani. He will never take your grandfather’s place, but he reminds me of him so much! And it’s not just physically — even though he looks a lot like him (receding hairline and all). It’s the patience and the humbleness. The selflessness, the willingness, the strength. It’s the smile and the constant good spirits, and the ease with which he can solve any dilemma.

And I know I learned a lot from your grandpa, and I am a better person because he was part of my life…but it’s not the same. Maybe it’s because they are both men, because the father and daughter bond is not made of the same material as the one between a father and his boy. Maybe that’s why sometimes I can literally see your grandpa in him.

I am convinced that, on Saturday, when your uncle Ani walks across the stage to accept his diploma, he will take your grandpa’s essence up there with him; he will bring it to dinner when we celebrate his accomplishments; and, despite the enormous vacuum left by death, we will all find great joy in that moment.

Someday, I hope to catch a glimpse of that same essence in you, my boy.

Love,

Mom