Saturday, February 28, 2009

Look Who's Walking!

They say that babies have a tendency to sleep poorly right before they achieve major milestones. Well, Benjamin and I had a faaaabulous time waking up and hanging out about five or six times every night this week. I thought that it was because he was missing his Daddy, who was out of town on business. But then he had a particularly atrocious night last night even though Daddy had returned the day before. The night was so atrocious that we felt it necessary to see the pediatrician this morning. We showed up at her office at 8:40 am so that we could be the first in line when the doors opened. At 9:00 am, we were checked in. At 9:03 am, we were shown to an exam room to wait for her. And at 9:05 am, Benjamin decided that he'd had just about enough of going to doctor's offices, and he took a step towards the door.

It's official: my baby ain't a baby anymore!

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Boo's New Muse

In the previous post, Oliver demonstrated his extreme unwillingness to be the object of Benjamin's newly discovered artistic tendencies. Well, it looks like Benjamin's found another pug who's more than willing to fill that role.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Party Like It's 2009!

Hao Po called from China to sing "Happy Birthday" to her grandson.

The most common question I was asked on Benjamin's birthday was, "What are you guys doing for Benjamin's birthday?" Well, the first thing we did was let him get buck nekkid for strangers!!! Rrrrrow!

Ok, that's a half-truth: he did get naked, but it wasn't really for strangers. And the only reason why he dropped trou was because he was obligated to for his one-year physical checkup. But two people who got the free show were women. That's gotta count for something. Right?

A date with his doctor wasn't the only thing Benjamin got for his birthday. He also got his very own, very colorful set of table and chairs. In recent weeks, Benjamin had begun using crayons in the manner in which they are meant to be used: as drawing instruments rather than teethers. Therefore, I felt that it was time for him to have his own little table on which he could draw to his little heart's content. I'll admit that this choice of gift had some selfish motivation, too. After he colored on the rug in his playroom, I realized that it would only be a matter of time before he drew on something I actually cared about. Like my precious first-print edition of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Or for Vince, his fancy, schmancy leather-encased calculator. Nerd!

Unfortunately, the introduction of a table and chair only marginally confined Benjamin's earnest scribbling. After doodling in his coloring book for all of five minutes , he decided that the gloomy day outside could use a splash of color. Since he couldn't actually color the sky, he decided to do the next best thing and color on the window. And after he was done adding cheer to the window, he got to work on the the other gloomy thing in his midst: the pug.

Oliver was a bit less complacent about his makeover than the window was. Benjamin succeeded in leaving two orange smudges on him before the pug yanked his head back, snatched the offending crayon away with his teeth, and ate the top inch of it. Methinks it's a good thing that Crayolas are non-toxic.

Even though every child dreams of getting new furniture and a trip to the doctor for his first birthday, that's not all we did to mark the occasion. Over the weekend, we had a small party for our big boy at our favorite Indian restaurant.

So that he wouldn't feel too overwhelmed, we invited only a handful of people - immediate family and a few family friends. Benjamin's twin Brayden, cousin Tyler, neighbor Berry, cousin Ryan, best bud Nolan, and neighbor Bobby were in attendance. By the way, Brayden's dad David is the photog who took the awesome pics in the two above montages. Thanks, David!

The party was a hit! Everyone had a great time. Well, almost everybody. While we were posing for a group picture with the kids, Nolan had a meltdown. It was so sudden that everyone was wondering if he was hurt. I mean, one second the kid is laughing and smiling, and the next second, he's bawling his eyes out. Dad Shawn assured us that Nolan was fine. He said that Nolan probably felt suddenly overwhelmed by the people looking at him; HOWEVER, this video tells a different story:

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I rest my case!

Monday, February 23, 2009

My Benjamin's a Big Boy Now



Wasn't it just the other day I was at George Petrelli's eating a steak while going into labor? I've experienced more tears, more laughter, and more love than I thought was humanly possible. And it all happened in the blink of an eye.

Benjamin, we love you so very much. Happy Birthday!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Big MAC

This August, I will be matron-of-honor at the wedding of my dear friends Deb and George. Since beginning her wedding planning, Deb has proven herself to be the coolest bride on the planet. She's chosen figure-friendly, tasteful, and inexpensive bridesmaids' dresses for her bridesmaids to wear. She's open to the idea of our wearing flat shoes beneath our Grecian gowns. And just when I thought that she couldn't be any cooler, I find out that MAC artists will be doing our wedding makeup at the MAC Corporate headquarters where Deb works. I've died and gone to Bridesmaid Heaven.

Yesterday, Benjamin and I paid a lunchtime visit to Deb and Jeni, co-maid-of-honor, at their office. We picked up lunch and then they took me to one of their training rooms to eat. When I walked in, I almost fainted. Screw Bridesmaid Heaven: this was HEAVEN Heaven. Every MAC Product on the market was laid out for the trainers' and trainees' use. Just looking around at all the preeeetty colors was enough to make me break out in goosebumps.

Even though he was surrounded by oodles of makeup, Benjamin still managed to have a good time. He sat like a little king on one of the makeup chairs, and when that got old, he practiced walking by pushing a chair back and forth across the room.

It's going to be great to hang out and get glammed up with the girls on Deb's big day. And it's a good thing that she's having MAC pros do our makeup, because after nearly a year of almost never wearing makeup, I think I've forgotten how to apply it. Left to my own devices among all those magic potions and powders, I might wind up looking like this:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Pug Stalker: Part 2

It was a little over a year ago that Benjamin's cousin Tyler first exhibited his pug stalking tendencies. At the time, Benjamin was but a bump beneath my shirt, but perhaps Tyler's stalker vibes somehow managed to permeate my womb, because it seems that now Benjamin has become a stalker, too. And the stalkee? Tyler.



Looks like what goes around comes around, Tyler!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Picky Eaters 2

This past Saturday morning, we took Benjamin to the hospital for yet another painful blood draw. Did I mention that this past Saturday was Valentine's Day? Yup, the irony did not escape me. But even as I kissed Benjamin's tears away, I couldn't help but think to myself that he had learned a lesson that takes most people much longer to learn: Valentine's Day is overrated.

We didn't want to sour him too much on Hallmark's favorite holiday, so we treated him to a nice buffet brunch at Shanghai Red's after we left the hospital. For the low, low price of a gajllion dollars, we had our pick of a variety of foods: made-to-order omelettes, prime rib, crab legs, sushi, and pumpkin just to name a few. We slipped Benjamin a bit of everything, and he pursed his lips at all of it. Though I was grateful that the restaurant didn't charge us for his meal, I was concerned that I had yet another picky eater on my hands. In case you didn't know, my husband is the pickiest of picky eaters. Of all of the challenges a marriage presents, trying to come up with a week's worth of non-repetitive meals that he's willing to eat has been my greatest one.

After lunch, we took a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood, stopping at Pinkberry for dessert. I wasn't expecting Benjamin to have any since he had just turned his nose up at everything offered to him at the earlier smorgasborg, but he surprised us by devouring nearly half of what Vince had ordered. This display of baby gluttony gave me hope. Maybe he wasn't such a picky eater after all.
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But I was back at square one the following day when Benjamin refused to eat one of his favorite meals. I was about to chuck the uneaten bowl of beef ravioli into the trash when this happened:



Whaaaaat?!? The child would rather eat feet than ravioli? I gingerly offered him one of my feet, but he immediately pushed it away. Whew! It's good to know the kid has standards!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Baby Boy

We were getting ready to run errands last week when I realized that the shoe I putting on Benjamin's foot was splitting open at the toe. My first thought was, "What the heck? Stride Rite owes me an explanation, not to mention thirty bucks!" But then I noticed that the little foot I was trying to cram into the shoe wasn't quite so little anymore. In fact, the toe of the shoe had split open because Benjamin's foot was getting too big for it. Ok, this was downright unsettling. There was no way Benjamin could have grown that much while I wasn't looking. Right? Of course not. I put the thought out of my head.

A few days later, my neighbor Julie and I strolled up to the Farmer's Market with our sons in tow. As we ate our rotisserie chicken, we watched the boys playing with each other and laughed when they stopped horsing around long enough to check out an adorable little girl strolling by. Suddenly, I had a flashback to the last time we'd taken this trip:

And there was that unsettling feeling again! What was it? It was a combination of pride mixed with poignance, and it caused my heart to ache.

The next day while we were out on our morning walk, we stopped to play on the concrete stage in the neighborhood park. Usually, Benjamin won't venture more than a few feet away before crawling back to me. This time, however, he climbed the steps off the stage and onto the sidewalk, and then he just kept right on going. That same feeling swept over me again, and this time I realized what it was: my baby was growing up too fast.
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I know that one of the rites of passage in motherhood is watching your children grow up and fly the coop. I just wasn't prepared to deal with this heartache before my baby was even a year old. Fine, fine, fine... I realize that I'm being a tad bit melodramatic. It'll be another four years before Benjamin starts kindergarten and at least another fourteen years after that before he gets a girlfriend. But these signs of independence, however thrilling they are to see, make me realize how fleeting his childhood really is.
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Benjamin's new favorite thing to do is climb the stairs. In the past, he'd do this with considerable assistance from Mommy and Daddy, but now he likes to go up the entire flight all by himself. He doesn't like for us to hover too closely, but if we linger back too far, he'll stop his climbing to make sure that we're still paying attention.

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Seeing him pause in his ascent to look back and make sure I'm still watching makes me realize that I have no reason to be sad. Perhaps knowing that we're always here for him is what gives our baby the confidence to charge ahead and explore his world.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mama Mia 2

In the months since Benjamin uttered his first word, he's added another one to his vocabulary: "Baba," which means "father" in Chinese. The first time I heard him say "Baba" was while Vince was gone on one of his business trips. After not seeing his father for several days, Benjamin began wandering the halls while intoning, "Baba? Baba?" over and over again. For the most part, he uses "Baba" for Vince alone, but when my father was visiting, he started calling him "Baba" as well. Perhaps Benjamin thinks that "Baba" really means "clean-cut Chinese guy" and not "father." This got me thinking about whether or not he really understood the meaning of the word "mama." I was inclined to believe that he did, because I had only ever heard him use the word to reference me. Sometimes while puttering around the house, I'd feel a tug on my pants and hear his little voice say "mama." Or when he grew tired of being held by someone else, he'd reach his arms towards me and cry "mama." The sound of his sweet voice calling for me almost always melts my heart. Almost.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Creature of Habit 4

Yes, it's been a while since my last post, but I have a very good excuse: I had to take my Dad to Costco to buy Charmin. As you may recall from a previous post, my Dad prefers the softness of Charmin to the sandpaper they call TP back in China. So each time he comes to Cali, I take him to Costco so he can stock up. Usually, he only buys one economy pack of Charmin, but this time, he bought two. TWO! I asked him why he decided to buy so much, and he just shrugged his shoulders. Hmmm. Maybe he's afraid that Procter & Gamble will be the next big business to go under, and he's trying to single-handedly keep them afloat. Either that, or maybe he's building a bomb shelter.

Of course, Charmin wasn't the real reason why my parents came to LA: the real reason was to see their beloved grandbaby Benjamin. I wish there was a way I could package Benjamin in pill form to give to my parents. When they first arrived at LAX, they were exhausted. My Dad looked bleary-eyed, and my Mom was complaining about her rheumatoid arthritis. The instant they laid eyes on the Boo, though, they perked right up. My Dad's eyes crinkled with laughter and my Mom started crawling around on the ground with Benjamin, her achy back momentarily forgotten. Of course, the next morning, she had a lot of trouble getting out of bed, but that didn't stop her from horsing around with Benjamin again. In fact, she took it a step further and decided to waltz around the house with him!

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I guess that little giggle can make you forget any troubles you might have!

My mother's waltzing aside, another notable thing happened on this trip: Benjamin and my Dad bonded. It's not as though they were strangers before, but during this visit, it became clear that they were becoming very close pals. I had never seen my father smile as much as he did this past week. And as for Benjamin, he expressed a preference for hanging out with his Hao Gong over doing just about anything else, including eating!

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My parents week with us seemed to fly by in the blink of an eye, and it was with a heavy heart that I kissed them goodbye at the airport. As the car pulled away from the curb, Benjamin burst into tears, and I found myself blinking a few back as well. It occurred to me that I should have snuck a few rolls from my Dad's Charmin stash into the car to wipe my eyes. Then again, maybe he'll need them all to wipe his own eyes until the next time he sees his little buddy.