Dante Month 11 and 12 (1/11/2004)


You will notice a rather drastic decrease in the number of pictures this month. This is due to the unfortunate demise of the battery compartment door of Mommy's digital camera. The camera still works, but requires the use of a very large and strong rubber band to hold it together, which means it usually takes so long to turn on the camera that most photo opportunities escape. After learning that repairs would cost $175 (!!!) Mommy decided she would rather upgrade the camera instead of repair it. Turns out to be a rather complicated process because the Nikon Coolpix 990 is hard to beat without spending a lot of money even though it is "only" a 3.3 Megapixel caemra. As a result, the videocamera has gotten more use this month.

Dante continued going to Kindermusik classes, one of which Grandpa Chuck attended, and playing with his friend Maddie. On November 14th, tooth number 11 showed up after an afternoon with Liza and Maddie.

Grandma and Granpda Hays's babysitting service was rehired for yet another Matrix movie, which was followed by a family dinner and a showing of Finding Nemo, during most of which Dante played with Grandma Sandy's magazines on the coffee table. We spent Thanskgiving there as well. Dante approved of dinner wholeheartedly, especially the yams, and of course, the pies. That day his 12th tooth came in, marking the end of yet another full set. Dante was thrilled to be able to chew dinner on both sides of his mouth for the first time.

After several attempts at taking steps on his own, Dante decided he wasn't too happy about falling on his face and reverted to crawling. This hasn't stopped him from trying to climb the stairs, but more about that next month... Dante's favorite games include "pointing and saying 'da' to make Mommy or Daddy name something", "removing things from drawers and then putting them back in a different order", and "making diaper changes as difficult as possible".


Dante and Mommy went to a free Gymboree class in Redmond, and although we were not too impressed with the class, the environment seemed to make Dante more confident about his walking ability. Dante is signed up to start taking classes later this month, but in the meantime he has been eagerly going to the free-time several times a week just to play on the mats, slides, tunnels, ramps, and jungle gyms. He especially liked climbing the foam stairs, which prompted the sudden need for a gate for the bottom of our spiral staircase. Mommy was very lucky and managed to find a used gate on the Micronews. We began the month with 3 step walking sequences, progressed to 5 steps, then to 7, then to 11, then to 21. Now, Dante can walk across a room carrying things (most frequently books!) in his hands, and turn around to go back the other way.

Dante's musical development has continued through his Kindermusik classes, dancing with Daddy and Mommy, Mommy practising the violin (!) and most recently through his own discovery of the new baby grand Story and Clark 1971 piano made by Yamaha that Daddy bought for Mommy and Dante for Christmas.

Cognitively, Dante has been making great leaps in understanding language. He is fascinated by letters and numbers. His favorites include the letters X, M, and W (the latter two he is convinced should be the same letter) and the number 3. He will point to them on clocks, books, pictures, puzzles demanding their names be repeated to him in both English and Polish ad infinitum. Daddy has even made his first batch of alphabet pancakes in honor of Grandma Lynette, who used this technique, among others, to teach Daddy how to read. Dante is also loving his shape sorters, wooden shape puzzles, and can stack up to 5 blocks in a tower.

For Dante's first Christmas, Mommy and Dante went on an adventure to find the perfect Christmas tree. Mommy was determined the star would not droop as it did every year, so after the first dozen or so tips that she examined, Dante began to point at all the tree tips in an attempt to help her decide. He finally urged her to find a tree hiding in a corner that had the perfect tip, and happened to be a very nice noble fir that didn't cost a fortune. Mommy broke her life-time record for the longest time it has ever taken her to decorate a Christmas tree as Dante had to be involved with every part of the process.

Grandma Sandy and Grandpa Chuck stopped by on their way to Spokane on Christmas Eve morning to make sure Santa wouldn't have too much trouble getting down the chimney with large boxes. Babcia (Grandma Bozena) arrived the day before Christmas Eve and began cooking immediately for Wigilia. We shared a beautiful mostly-traditional Polish dinner and spent the evening figuring out how to move all the furniture in preparation for the piano. This was no easy task, since it involved swapping our ancient cancer-rotted speakers with the new Mackie HR824s, dealing with drilling holes through the walls to accomodate new cables, moving the entire 400 CD changer and stereo onto a garage-sale-acquired stereo rack, and moving the (quasi-functional) organ amidst a sea of Dante toys on the floor.

Christmas day was spent eating and opening presents. Dante seemed to think the bows were the most interesting part of the whole thing and showed little interest in ripping off paper. He did, however, enjoy his gifts once they were visible to him including some items from Great Grandpa Tadeusz Swinecki in Poland such as a beautiful eider down duvet and a giant stuffed elephant (Slon Trombalski).

Dante, Babcia and Mommy drove out to North Bend on December 27th to pay for the piano and then to visit the North Bend Outlets, where Mommy was able, for the first time since Dante's birth, to do some clothes shopping for herself. Dante helped Babcia scour the stores for items he thought Mommy might look good in, while walking everywhere in new shoes. Daddy stayed at home and dealt with the piano movers.

On December 30th, Dante turned one. A huge thank you to Annie, Sophia, Liza and Maddie, who came to celebrate in the early afternoon with us, to Grandma and Grandpa Hays, who came to celebrate later that evening, and to Babcia who helped put the whole event together. We accidentally ended up with 3 cakes, so Dante was given an entire carrot cake to himself to demolish, which he enjoyed immensely. Unfortunately, despite bib and high chair, he required a change of clothing before he could open Birthday presents.

Then it started snowing. We had a lot of fun playing in the snow and sliding Dante down the driveway in a makeshift sled (a garbage can lid covered in black plastic connected to a rope). At midnight on New Year's Eve, Daddy lit some fountain fireworks that were bought for the 4th of July several years ago. Dante was both terrified and thrilled at the same time as he watched while clinging to Mommy for dear life.

Babcia barely made it out of Washington before the third wave of snow hit, which brings us back to that power outage...

Enjoy the pictures!