Dante Month 17 and 18 (7/2/2004)
Musings from Mommy…

It is hard to believe that our little bundle of joy turned 18 months old a few days ago! They say seeing your children grow up “so fast” makes you feel older more quickly, so I am kind of glad I was “old” to begin with because as a result I had many more years in which to feel young. Trust me; there is some obscure logic to that statement. On the other hand, having Dante around has also made me feel younger in many ways. I don’t have to feel guilty for playing with Legos, sitting on swing sets, playing in the sand or delighting in petting ponies. Second childhood? Almost, except this time it feels as if I don’t have quite as much energy as the first time around. I wonder why that could be???

I just shelled a pea pod from my garden and found a pea that was already beginning to grow. I cannot count the number of times I found such peas with my mother, who patiently allowed me to “grow” them in a glass on the window sill (until they dried up because I forgot to water them, or until they molded). I wonder how many times I shall watch Dante do the same thing… though perhaps in this environment his peas will blossom and fruit in a patch of dirt outside. I see him reaching out to the world and to strangers with the delight, curiosity and hope that used to be in my eyes, and some of that has returned to mine as well. Watching your own child teaches you many things about yourself in your “old age” (yes, that is a hint for my mother as well!)

Enough waxing philosophical. Time for some crititcal updates.

May marked the beginning of some new life experiences for Dante. Thanks to Anya mentioning a High School production that her friend’s daughter was involved in, I thought “what better way to introduce Dante to the world of musical stage productions?” A world in which, if you recall, I spent a great deal of my youth. OK, so I didn’t start at 16 months, but… I was not about to spend mucho dinero on professional productions especially if I had no idea if Dante would stomach more than a few minutes at a time, but you can’t beat the $10 cost of a HS or local theater. Dante attended Interlake High School’s Fiddler on the Roof and Monroe Playhouse’s My Fair Lady. We survived about an hour of each. He decided they all had too much talking, but he enjoyed the musical numbers immensely, especially since I sang the lyrics right into his ear. He was slightly perplexed at the funny way people talked in My Fair Lady, but we finally had to leave because he simply fell in love with Eliza Dolittle’s Flowery Hat, which he decided he must enthusiastically and vocally point out to everyone in the audience, admonishing them at the same time for not all wearing beautiful hats. Neither production was stellar in quality, and Dante frequently cringed at the out-of-tune orchestras, but I was pleased with the experiences.

And as much as I hate getting email SPAM, every once in a while something useful pops up, like an ad for a free concert at the Southcenter Mall by a group called Hi 5. We went to that with Grandpa Chuck and enjoyed the first few songs. It was actually somewhat frightening. You can probably envision a rock concert in which teenage girls are standing in the front row flinging their hair and arms wildly, undulating their bodies to some primal rhythm and screaming at their favorite heartthrob. Now take that same scene, tone it down a little bit (but not much) and image those girls all about 4 years old. Hi5’s target audience is aged 2-8. I actually thought the music was pretty decent, though my main problem with the event was that those kids probably lost all their hearing above 15 kHz by the end of the concert. Shame on the sound engineers for not protecting the ears of the next generation! Dante, Chuck and I stayed near the back…

Our Kindermusik Village class ended mid May and Dante received his first diploma. We signed up for the 5 week Summer Session for the next age range, which began almost immediately and which has already concluded. No more Kindermusik until the fall semester begins. This is actually probably a good thing because as it turns out his favorite grand piano in the Mills Music store below the Kindermusik classroom was recently sold and Dante vehemently chastised the manager of the store (complete with finger waving and a string of what were obviously obscenities) for trying to trick him by putting a different piano in its place. The manager consoled him by allowing him to pluck all of the guitars for sale. Unsurprisingly, he attached himself to the most expensive one and refused to be separated from it.

Redmond Toddler Group ended at the beginning of June and Dante received his second diploma. To conclude the year, we went to the Bellevue Regional Library to watch a Snapdragon Puppet Show. Dante tolerated the 45 minute puppet show simply because I kept stuffing cheese and crackers into his mouth, but as far as he was concerned the fun did not begin until after the show, when the puppeteer took off the material covering the puppet stage and began showing how the puppets worked!

We signed up for RTG’s 6 week Summer Session and are in the middle of that right now. Having graduated from the Infant Class, Dante is now playing with 2 and 3 year olds in the “big kids” room and I have twice now left him alone (supervised by other adults) for 15 minutes at a time to see how he would do. He didn’t even notice I was gone, so there is hope that “Mommy’s boy” will start becoming more independent in the future.

The most obvious changes over these last couple of months have been regarding Dante’s sudden desire to use sign language to communicate with us and with other children. Signing with children is a popular endeavor in the Pacific Northwest, so it is not uncommon for us to encounter kids who know at least a few signs. Right after his 16 month birthday, Dante suddenly discovered the sign for “more”. What an extremely powerful sign! Works in so many situations.. but not in all, and I am insistent on teaching him some manners, so now we say “more”, please”, “thank you”, “eat”, “milk”, and “book”. He stopped showing interest in all Baby Einstein and Sesame Street programs and if he has to be watching something (he’d always rather be outside), he is happiest when watching his sign language tapes and DVDs. He probably understands 20 or 30 different signs already, but doesn’t feel like using them if he doesn’t have to. After all, pointing at the toothbrush is easier than moving your hand side to side by your mouth… On that note, however, last night he did actually say “teeth” for the first time, and he knows what it means since he makes the sign for “teeth” while saying the word. Verbally, his favorite words are “up”, “hello” (which is always said with his hand up to his ear as if talking on the phone), “go go go”, and now “teeth”. He will say “ba” for “ball” and “kakaka” for “cookie” and he does a decent “vroom” and “woo woo” and a very squeaky cat meow and an amusing dog growl. He nevertheless clearly understands everything we say to him in both English and Polish, though he seems to attach more to whatever label is easier for him to remember, which will no doubt mean he will soon have a much larger vocabulary in English as each Polish word is usually twice as long and twice as difficult to pronounce, not to mention all those silly gender endings and numerical variances in endings.

These last two months has also been exciting in terms of getting to know many new animals. While Dante adores his kitties, especially Sabrina who “allows” him to hug her, he seems to have a natural love and curiosity for all sorts of animals. I’m not sure the feeling is mutual. For Mother’s Day we went to Farrel McWhirter Park, where we saw ponies, ducks, baby bunnies, pigs with baby piglets, sheep, and chickens. We went to Kelsey Creek Park for a pony ride, which marked the beginning of Dante’s fascination for horses. This fascination continued during a visit to Remlinger Farms with Misia, where we went on a steam powered train ride, a hay jump and hay maze, met a whole barnful of baby animals, learned how to groom a pony, and finally also rode a pony. Recently we have also made friends with a couple teenage girls who ride their horses on the trails at Redmond Ridge. Dante, always a flirt with pretty girls after that initial playfully shy period, has them wrapped around his little finger and always gets to pet their horses when he sees them.

Speaking of Redmond Ridge, we closed on the condo! We have also started going to the play structures there as Dante adores swings and is easily entertained on them while I chat with other neighborhood moms. We even went to the neighborhood garage sale, where we discovered that Redmond Ridge seems to be disproportionately populated with little girls. Oh dear.

And speaking of garage sales, I have been dubbed the “Queen” by Julie, since these amazing deals just keep falling into my lap. While at Duvall Daze I managed to buy about 200 pieces of clothing including pants, shirts, jackets, snow suits, pjs, sweats, and various outfits, 11 pairs of shoes and a bag full of socks from 18 months to 4T for a grand total of $20. At about 10 cents an outfit, Dante wears new clothing almost every day now. There’s so much of it though, that I still haven’t had time to wash it all and to find a place for it. Anyone out there want to come and be entertained by Dante while I do this????

Sorry for being so long-winded this time. I can’t help it. There’s so much to say!
Enjoy the pics and see you in another two months…