Dante Month 13 and 14 (3/12/2004)
Hello again! The last two months have been one big blur. Dante now has a full set of 16 teeth, the last of which broke through on March 3rd. On top of teething woes, Dante has also been building up his immune system by systematically adopting every sniffle in the vicinity. Most recently, upon our return from Whistler for Daddy's SQL Reporting Services ship party at the end of February, he contracted Rotavirus, which basically wiped him out for a week. He regressed to breastfeeding for 7-8 hours a day, pooping and sleeping. It was not fun.

In between bouts of the sniffles, we got together with Maddie a few more times before she moved back to Spokane. We will miss her sweet smile. We also met up with Valya, as well as with Misia. Last week we made some new friends, Avery (18 months) and Natalie (5 months), who hopefully Mommy will remember to take pictures of now that she has her new camera!!!

Until now, aside from the occasional minor bump on the head, Mommy and Daddy have not had any major heart attacks over Dante's well-being. We had the opportunity to experience our first such event on Dante's 13 month birthday. After dinner with Daddy, we drove to the Microsoft parking lot in order to pick up Daddy's car. It ws nearly 10 pm. Mommy and Daddy got out of the Jeep and closed the doors behind them. Daddy went to his car, and Mommy went to the driver's side of the Jeep, which was still running with the key in the ignition. To her horror, as she pulled on the door handle, Mommy realized the door was locked! Dante was in the back in his car seat warming up with the heater on full blast. We checked all the doors to no avail. We were stunned. Daddy called security while Mommy tried to play peek-a-boo with Dante through the window. She managed to pacify him for a while with drawing numbers backwards on the window, but soon he was both becoming much too hot and wondering what was going on. He became really upset. Security finally arrived, but told us that they could not break into anyone’s car! Daddy had to call a locksmith, who thankfully showed up in about 15 minutes and rescued Dante from the now extremely overheated Jeep. Dante was fine within minutes. However, it took Mommy several hours to calm her frantically beating heart.

Mommy gave Dante his first hair cut on February 5th while Daddy played the "hold your head still" game with him. We decided to only snip the fuzz that was growing past his ears. The mop on top remains, so that when we do cut it, we will have a substantial lock to save.

Dante was sick the week before Valentine's Day, but he was feeling so house-bound that on Friday he spent a great portion of the day by the door to the garage desperately trying to go outside but not quite reaching the doorknob. We took him to McDonald's for dinner that night, and then spent the rest of the evening watching him run up and down the aisles pushing a shopping cart at Fred Meyer. He was thrilled. But the next day (Valentine's Day) he was once again insistent on going somewhere, so we ended up spending the day at the Alderwood Mall. Dante loves malls as long as Mommy and Daddy don't stay in one place too long.

We continued going to Kindermusik and Gymboree and started going to the Redmond Toddler Group in the middle of January. It has turned into a big hit as the classes are quite long, there are lots of kids, and the activities change every week, as you will see from the pictures. Dante is working on becoming more sociable, though he screams bloody murder when someone tries to take something away from him. He has no qualms about sharing his food by stuffing it into other people's mouths, and he equally has no qualms about begging for goodies from other moms.

Walking is second nature now, and we have progressed from simple "peek-a-boo" to serious "hide-and-seek" in which he is convinced that if he can't see Mommy or Daddy's face, that must mean they can't see him either. Dante's favorite animals appear to be kitties and giraffes, though the stuffed toy that he grabs for comfort is usually cookie monster or a snow leopard. His favorite activity at home appears to be reading and playing with letters and numbers. He is obsessed with symbols and knows all of his numbers, and about half of the alphabet in capitals in both English and Polish. I can ask him "Where's the 's'?" or "Gdzie jest 's'?"and he will stare at a page full of text and point out an 's' or even two. Dante especially enjoys playing with numbers and letters in the bathtub, on his schoolhouse desk, with his wooden alphabet puzzles, and with his magnetic board. He also loves to "read" books for hours, or watch Baby Einstein videos, especially the Numbers Nursery and Baby Newton. He also likes Sesame Street's "Do the Alphabet" and "All About Numbers".

Despite all this interest in numbers and letters and books, Dante refuses to say anything intelligible. However, he clearly makes different phonemes when he is imitating Mommy speaking Polish on the phone to Babcia as opposed to when he is imitating English. He also has a huge vocabulary of nouns in both languages as he can identify objects in dozens of books by pointing when asked to find them and has generalized shapes so that a new book with a slightly different rendition of a familiar object is recognizable to him. He appears to recognize letters in different fonts as well, though the purpose behind different fonts does seem to puzzle him a bit.

Dante has also begun scribbling. Mommy first started him with crayons, but had little success in getting him to apply enough pressure to see any visible results. Leeza mentioned that Maddie had a much easier time with actual pens, so we tried that and Dante suddenly became intersted in drawing. Now even crayons are acceptable drawing tools, not to mention shaving cream, finger paint, and of course, melted chocolate!

The last few weeks have been especially busy as Daddy decided he wanted to start researching school districts, the pros and cons of public vs. private schools in the area, and our entire financial situation. After a GREAT deal of analysis in true Daddy fashion, and a ton of research into various possibilities in Mommy fashion, mixed in with some Mommy "fate" and a lot of driving around, we PURCHASED A CONDO last Sunday!!! OK, so technically it doesn't close til the end of June, but the offer is in and the wheels have been set into motion. The location is called Redmond Ridge, and the condo is an end unit (Plan C) in Nature's Walk, right on a greenbelt. The place is being built as we speak. Redmond Ridge already has a YMCA, a marketplace, a Chevron, lots of play structures and athletic fields, and it will soon be the home of a brand new Elementary School, which will funnel into one of the best Junior High's in the not too shabby Lake Washington school district, which funnels into Redmond High School, also one of the best in the district. And strangely enough, the elementary school is the same distance away from our house as the Monroe elementary, which is in a pretty miserable school district. We will probably rent out the condo at first. As the time for Dante to go to school draws near, we will keep it mostly empty, and then once Babcia is retired, she can finally get out of New York City and have a place to be closer to us so that she can teach Dante all things Polish and enjoy being a grandmother. Based on the demographics and quality of the construction, we hope it will be a decent investment as well, so this purchase simultaneously fulfills several goals for us. All of this happened pretty quickly and has been absorbing what little free time we have, so there has been little time for editing photographs for the website!!! But I hope you enjoy what is there...