Dante Month 23 and 24 (1/4/2005)
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all of you! In lieu of sending out cards with yearly updates, we have opted for continuing our DanteWeb tradition as we feel it is a better reflection of who we are and what we have been doing. And those of you who don’t have Internet access, well, you can read over the shoulder of someone who does... Baba Yaga yelled at Mommy (and threatened to cook her along with Hansel and Gretel) so we did send two Christmas cards to Great-Grandpas in Poland as they are Internet-challenged, but other than that, non-email addresses don’t exist in our address book (well, I suppose we have a physical book of addresses gathering dust somewhere, but even if we could find it, we’d have to remember how stamps work)

While in NYC (the first two weeks of November are documented below), Baba Yaga had introduced Dante to Bambi from Mommy’s childhood sheets and Dante instantly began asking for Bambi when we arrived back home. Mommy discovered she had in fact purchased a Bambi tape at a garage sale. Peace was restored in the house as soon as Dante discovered that Bambi, Thumper (“Sumper”), Owl, and Flower were more than just pictures. Up until this point, Dante had refused to watch any cartoon and his video diet consisted solely of Baby Einstein, Sesame Street and Signing Time. Bambi became the first animated movie that Dante deigned to watch. It was soon followed by The Lion King and Pszczolka Maya (Maya the Bee).

Mommy and Dante finally dragged Daddy kicking and screaming into the 21st century by (repeatedly) requesting a Tivo. After many problems with clueless installers and much rewiring, Daddy finally got the whole system working while Dante kept Mommy out of trouble. As a direct consequence of this event, Mommy began looking for Dante-friendly edutainment. We recorded every known children’s show on television and proceeded to play a few minutes of each to our suddenly interested toddler. He rejected show after show after show, until he found Dora the Explorer and Blue’s Clues. Oobi was briefly interesting as we had already begun playing computer games on http://www.pbskids.org/ and http://www.noggin.com/ with Oobi, Teletubbies and Sesame Street characters, but Dora and Blue were far more entertaining and thankfully appear to be rather educational. Now the world revolves around Dora and Blue. Dante compares everything that happens to him to a concept in an episode of Dora or Blue. Dora or Blue can be used for discipline, eating properly nutritious meals, counting, learning colors, reading maps, telling stories, dancing, singing songs, etc. Daddy and Mommy are actually quite impressed with the quality of the shows and the breadth of concepts and problem solving skills that are introduced and well reinforced in them. And now Dante also appears to be learning Spanish…

Dante’s vocabulary and interactiveness has exploded recently and Grandpa and Annie began really enjoying their babysitting stints. Grandma was also astonished when we saw her for Thanksgiving and then even more so for Xmas and Dante’s Birthday. We celebrated Sean’s first birthday right at the end of November and found Sean to be such a big boy that soon our hand-me-downs will be too small for him! Mommy met yet another person online by placing an ad in the Micronews in search of a Polish family in the area with children around Dante’s age. Thus we met Krystyna, Ignacio, and Agnes (Agnieszka), whose second birthday we helped celebrate on December 12th. We are very excited to have this family as a new addition to our circle of play friends. We also managed another play date with Misia, after which Dante ran around the house yelling “I like Misia” and “Where Misia go?”

Mommy made Christmas dinner this year, complete with 80 hand-made pierogies, which Grandma and Grandpa helped us consume. We were inundated with presents this year, especially since Baba Yaga had just recently returned from a trip to China and had felt compelled to aid the Chinese economy by splurging on all sorts of interesting items, including an authentic fake Rolex watch for Daddy, several beautiful pieces of art for Mommy, and a gorgeous Chinese outfit for Dante. Dante enjoyed opening the first few presents, which included a Mega Blocks Pirate Ship from Grandma and Grandpa, but was soon tired of the hard work involved with removing paper and packaging.

Ever since Dante has shown an inclination for music, Daddy has declared that whatever instrument he wanted to play would be acceptable, as long as he didn’t play the drums “because the band always practices at the drummer’s house”. We had made our wishes known to everyone, but apparently our closest friends and relatives are conspiring against us. Our beloved Annie gave Dante a drum set (complete with kick drum, 2 toms, and cymbal) for Christmas with a “I know you are going to hate me for this, but I couldn’t resist”. Once assembled, Dante proceeded to drum with great delight. Grandma and Grandpa had already been naughty last Christmas, showing up with the LeapFrog Drum, but they furthered their criminal activity by giving Dante a high quality marching band drum (which they attempted to hide among other instruments) for his birthday. Dante appears pleased with it, though he is still small enough (and the drum big enough) that he has not quite perfected the skill of walking while drumming.

On December 31st, Dante counted to 30 essentially on his own (Mommy prompted him with 21). He repeated his performance yesterday at Gymboree to the astonishment of various parents, who kept asking Mommy “Are you sure he’s only 2??? My two and a half year old can barely get to 10!” He also started creating his own counting game while there. He counted up a set of stairs using a wiffle ball, then counted one last number and released the ball down the slide next to the stairs. He did this so many times and with such glee that soon we had all the toddlers in the room trying it to Dante’s number narration. In addition, Dante has started counting further in Polish, though he tends to say “two-nascie”, “three-nascie”, “four-nascie”, etc. It is amusing to Daddy and somewhat frustrating to Mommy.

At the beginning of December, Dante began to jump over the side of his crib. We were eventually forced to convert the crib into a toddler bed and have begun training Dante to learn to fall asleep on his own with Daddy just sitting beside him reading silently. Hopefully this will soon help eliminate breast feeding. Unfortunately, at the moment, it means that Dante just prances out of bed whenever he pleases at all hours of the night and decides he’d rather sleep with Mommy and Daddy, who as a result don’t get any. Sleep, that is.

We welcomed the New Year with our usual fireworks by the garage. This, time, however, Dante vehemently protested after the first one and we only ended up doing two fountains with some minor crackling. When we came back inside, he repeatedly told us about how “Dante scared fire BOOM!” and “No more fire BOOM!” Guess we’ll have to wait til the 4th of July and see if his opinion changes.

Because of the timing of Christmas and New Year this year, we opted to celebrate Dante’s Birthday on January 2nd, when more of our friends were available. Mommy was afraid no one would come, so she was very pleasantly surprised that we could barely fit everyone in the house with reasonable comfort. In attendance were: Grandma and Grandpa, Annie and Ian, Marzena and Misia, Sophia, Steve, Elizabeth and Sean, Trish and her daughter Kelsie, Anya, Phil and Matthew, and Krystyna, Ignacio and Agnieszka. Daddy (mostly) fixed the ball pit so the 3 toddlers (and even little Sean) played in it pretty constantly. Mommy ordered a custom cake shaped like Thomas the Tank Engine with a train car carrying Dora and Elmo. It even tasted pretty good, too. Dante blew out his candle by himself (thanks to Mommy’s evening practice sessions in the weeks leading up to the event) and ate mostly frosting and almond-stuffed olives the whole day. After everyone left the poor little tyke lifted his arms up to Mommy saying “Up, please”. Once in her arms he suddenly and without warning fell unconscious and proceeded to sleep for 4 and a half hours. If only he would do that every day!

Until next time (Note: updates will now be once every 3 months, instead of 2!)