Dante Month 25, 26 and 27 (4/3/2005)
We never expected that so much could happen in three months. It is difficult to distill the thousands of adventures and new abilities into a cohesive story. Everything seems so important to us as parents, and yet we also realize that these events are simply part of the natural pattern of development for most children. Nevertheless, Dante is as unique as every child and he does everything in his own time and in his own special way. We hope you will have patience with us as we continue to tell his story in rather great detail. In other words, my friends, this is going to be a long one...

In early January, Dante attended Bobo’s 2nd Birthday party. We met Bobo (Vivianna), her sister Victorina (whom Dante calls “Rina”), and their mom (Lucia) in our infant Kindermusik class last year and have recently begun to get together for playdates. Daddy approves since Bobo is Dante’s first “younger woman” playmate. Lucia is an excellent cook and Dante loves her Teriyaki chicken and pot stickers.

January also contained an explosion of verbal and numerical milestones. For example, on the 11th, Dante started correctly learning letter sounds. He began with “t”, “m”, “w”, and “c” and learned more over then next couple months. On the 12th, Mommy was highly amused when while approaching an intersection, Dante yelled from the back seat: “’S’, ‘T’, O’, ‘P’, Mommy… STOP”! That same day Dante dropped his milk in the car and asked Mommy to get it for him. Mommy explained that she can’t get anything while driving and that he will have to wait for a red light. She finally stopped at a red light and began to rummage under the car seat. After some time, Dante said “Green light, Mommy, go”. Thus began an obsession with playing the red/stop green/go game.

On January 17th Dante showed that he not only can count past ten, but he can read numbers past ten. We discovered this when playing with Elmo’s Numbers in the Fisher Price Learn Through Music Interactive System. When he got to the page with numbers up to 20, Elmo asked him to find 16, and… he did…And then 11, and then 14. Nowadays he reads numbers up to about 49, though not consistently… only when he feels like it. He usually reads at least 3 double digit numbers in the bathtub every night, and then gets bored and wants to do something else. This something else usually involves "Mommy make words". Recently, however, Dante has been making words himself. He can find the letters for and spell things like "stop", "go", "no", "on", "cat", "dog" and "exit" using either uppercase or lowercase letters.

We had a number of illnesses during the last three months, which seemed to have the greatest impact on Mommy. On Jan 23rd, Dante was frustrated that Mommy wanted to sleep all day. Every half an hour or so he bolted from playing with Daddy and insisted that “Mommy done sleeping”, so Daddy locked the bedroom door. Even more unhappy, Dante started pleading with Daddy to unlock the door, pointing at the keyhole and saying “Key unlock door”. Silly Daddy smiled and said “OK, if you figure out how to unlock the door you can go say hi to Mommy”. Within minutes Dante climbed the stairs to the office, opened the desk drawer, took out a brand new box of paper clips, tore open the box, retrieved a paper clip, straightened it, and returned to the bedroom door. With great impatience he poked at the door until, sure enough, the lock popped open and Dante triumphantly bounded into the room to be with Mommy. From then on, there has been no such thing as a truly locked door in the house.

Thanks to Ciocia Marzena and Misia, Dante launched a career in alpine rock climbing at a new favorite playarea called Pump It Up. Shy at first, he required Mommy to go on each activity with him for several weeks. Now, he usually just wants her to watch and take pictures. He loves to see Misia there, but is very disturbed that all she wants to do is jump like a little spring in the bouncy houses, while Dante is more interested in climbing the walls and sliding. Recently Misia has changed her modus operandi and is intent on doing one of the obstacle courses over and over again. Dante is not sure what to make of this, but he enjoys it when Ciocia Marzena gives him a shortcut boost so that he can climb the wall together with Misia and skip the beginning boring parts.

Dante continues to adore Dora the Explorer, and his adoration has extended to his friend Agnieszka, who sports a very Dora-like haircut. He plays with Agnieszka and Ciocia Tina almost every week, which enables him to hear more Polish and encourages him to insert Polish words into his mostly English sentences.

March 6th was unseasonably warm. Mommy, Daddy and Dante drove to Monroe's Lake Tye Park intending to spend an hour or so on the slides and swings. Instead, the whole afternoon was consumed with various park activities and ended with a dip in the lake and getting buried in the sand on the beach. This is one of Dante’s favorite parks, though he also likes to go to Anderson Park in Redmond, Cascara Park in Redmond Ridge, and the Choo-choo train park in Kirkland. He now likes for Mommy to bring his “bokisil” (well, technically it is a tricycle) in the car so that he can drive it around whatever park we go to. And now that Mommy acquired an extra car seat off of freecycle, Dante is even more thrilled to “go slideswings in Grandpa’s car” every week if he can!

Apparently Daddy no longer discourages drum playing since he too has got rhythm and it finally occurred to him that if the band practices at the drummer’s house then someone (Mommy) can keep an eye on them! Dante has increased his musical repertoire by adding the harmonica, water flutes and water drums to his plethora of musical instruments. He also has begun to sing the lyrics to several of his favorite songs, such as "Twinkle, twinkle", "Ba ba black sheep", "Rain, rain, go away", "Ring around the rosy", "A tisket a tasket", "Cztery slonie, zielone slonie", "Aaa, kotki dwa", "Three little monkeys swinging in a tree", "Three little monkeys jumping on the bed" and of course his longtime favorite: the ABC's. Thoroughly spoiled by the beautiful piano playing of people such as Dziadzi, Baba Yaga, Ciocia Marzena, and the Identical Harmony twins from the Tiny Tots concerts at Benaroya Hall, Dante declared that “Mommy no play piano, Mommy play piano bad!” (Apparently Daddy doesn’t play piano bad, and his tickling of the ivories is not forbidden.) Dante does not seem to object to Mommy's violin playing, however. Another musical development occurred on March 20th, when Dante decided that both “dance” and “migwik” (music) are spelled “S O N Y”! For some reason, “migwik” also means "magic". Dante thinks motion sensitive store doors are magical and he has to wait until the coast is clear so that he can open the “migwik door” all by himself. Anyone who comes and spoils his plan by opening the door for him gets yelled at by a very possessive toddler.

On March 19th, Dante, Mommy, Daddy, Grandma and Grandpa (also frequently referred to as “Pappa”) attended the Redmond Toddler Group Annual Carnival. Mommy once again had to bake a cake that week, while Pappa took Dante to the park. They came home just in time to help extinguish the fire in the oven caused by cake overflowing and spilling on the heating elements. The clown from Baby Newton was supposed to be simple, but turned into a major project. Mommy will sign up for cake decorating classes one day so as not to “reinvent the cake” each time she tries to make one. At the carnival, Dante was at first overwhelmed by all the people. He did not want to do anything except hug and eat Grandma cookies for the first 45 minutes or so. When the people started to thin out, he finally found his calling: the basketball hoops. He also enjoyed the bean bag toss, the soccer nets, the bowling and the fishing, but he kept returning to the basketball hoops. Grandpa liked the cakewalk and with the 5 of us participating, we managed to walk away with two sets of a dozen cupcakes!

Over the last couple of weeks, Dante has continued to develop physically, emotionally, and intellectually. He is now approximately 36 inches tall and 30 pounds. He just went through a growth spurt during which he ate enormous amounts of food (for example, 4 bowls of chicken noodle soup and a whole cup of “apple spider” at one sitting, or an entire 1 lb box of strawberries while at the park). Speaking of digestion, Dante has begun potty training with mixed results. Some days he tries to use the potty several times (with occasional successes); other days he won’t have anything to do with it; and still other days he will desperately try only to get bored, run to his room for a book to read and promptly pee on the floor while trying to find the book he wanted. He then runs to Mommy and informs her “Oh no! Dante peed on floor!” He is quite knowledgeable about the digestive process and will describe in detail how “food go in mouth, down, down, down, in tummy scrunch, scrunch, scrunch, out bobbum in poo and Dante grow big”.

Dante's climbing feats are breathtaking and still give Mommy minor heart attacks. He is exploring different types of dance with his whole body, including occasional break dancing stints on the floor. Recently he showed intense interest while watching a tap-dancing class. He appears to like to observe older kids doing new things in new places, and then imitates them later, in a familiar and comfortable environment. Unwilling to do much at a gymnastics class we tried at Northwest Aerials, three hours later he threw himself into hanging, monkey bar climbing, and crossing balance beams all by himself at Gymboree.

Emotionally, Dante is very attached to Mommy and Daddy, but he is establishing strong bonds with people he spends a lot of time with. He loves meeting new people one on one, though he dislikes crowds and chaotic situations. He likes sharing his strawberries at the park with other kids and expects them to share their food with him, and he is starting to learn to assert himself verbally when shoved aside by bigger kids by responding with a loud “No pushing Dante!”

Mommy feared that with Dante's fascination with going to the park, he would quickly phase out his desire for intellectual activities and only want to play outside all day. Mommy was needlessly worried, since Dante never fails to amaze everyone around him with his verbosity and keen observations. Dora and Blue's Clues episodes combined with a method of “reality consequence” discipline have taught Dante to understand sequences of events and consequences of actions. He correctly uses “first”, “second”, and “last one”. He understands “today”, “tomorrow”, and “next week”. He says things like “moon is up, time to go bed; when sun come up, Dante wake up”. He astounded Mommy and Ciocia Tina one day by bringing them Agnieszka’s umbrella and telling them a whole story to the effect of “dark cloud comes, then rain comes, open this, all wet, Dante dry” having never seen a real umbrella before. Dante learned all his colors from Dora and Blue. He identifies and names them in English, can identify and sort of say them in Polish when prompted, and can identify and say some of them in Spanish. His favorite color is green. He also knows that blue and yellow makes green, red and blue makes purple, and red and yellow makes orange.

Baba Yaga recently sent Dante some flash cards and Dante likes to do simple addition with them. He can add 1+1, 1+2, 1+3, 1+4, 2+2, and 2+3 on his fingers, though he has a hard time getting his fingers to cooperate. Dante made his first joke when Mommy asked him how many is 5 toes plus 5 toes. Dante stared at his feet, then gave Mommy a knowing look and replied “Two feet”!

Previously mostly uninterested in art projects, Dante has shown some interest in painting, water colors, stickers, stamps, play-doh, making collages by gluing pictures Mommy cuts out from magazines, and drawing with crayons or markers. He still insists on primarily using his left hand for these activities. His favorite art activity, however, is just taking a pen or a pencil and scribbling on whatever happens to be nearby, including (to Daddy's great horror) the backs of envelopes and (to Mommy's great horror) furniture.

Dante has started playing a few more complicated computer games with Mommy. His favorite game involves a screen of many colored gems where Dante must pick out the gems of a specific color (thereby revealing a shape formed by those gems) and then choose a treasure chest with the matching shape. Dante frequently bypasses the gem selecting phase, stares at the screen, and instantly picks the correct treasure chest! He only has trouble at the highest level when there are many colors and similar shapes intertwined. This is quite amazing to Mommy and Daddy, who occasionally have trouble seeing the trees for the forest amidst all the colors themselves.

Dante went on three Easter Egg hunts this year. On Saturday morning, Dante and Mommy went to the Redmond Ridge hunt. Dante met the Easter Bunny there and declared “I like Easter Bunny”. More interested in savoring the contents of each egg, Dante only picked up 6 eggs in the mad scramble which lasted just a few minutes before all the eggs were gone. In the afternoon, Mommy took Dante to the Duvall hunt, which was a much grander affair. Unfortunately it was raining quite hard by then, and Dante was forced to wait almost half an hour before he was let loose into the egg area. A veteran by this time, he quickly gathered about 2 dozen eggs into his basket. Since the hunt was sponsored by local businesses, there were also prizes hidden in some of the eggs. Dante got very lucky and managed to win a wooden puzzle, a gift certificate for a free ice cream cone at a local café, a rubber duckie, and a bag of home-made cookies. These cookies, however, were nothing compared to the delights he found in the dozens of eggs that Grandma and Grandpa hid all over their house on Easter Sunday. Mommy and Daddy went to see Robots, while Dante kept Grandma and Grandpa busy. This time he just waved “bye bye Mommy and Daddy” and didn’t even care that they were going away! This behavior was repeated last week when Mommy decided to go to the gym and tried to leave Dante at the Kids Center for half an hour. She had been trying this about once every month or so with no success whatsoever and with serious tears involved. This time, however, Dante declared “I like gym. Mommy go exercise and Dante play!” Now Mommy and Dante go to the gym everyday.

Anyhow, enjoy the pictures and see you all in 3 months...