¿Que Dijistes?

Three-and-a-half is an awesome age – just ask Felix.

He eats one dulce almost every day, drinks lechita with a platano for breakfast and again before bed, gulps as much kefir and yogurt as he can stomach, and eats ‘snackies’ every afternoon. That appetite is enhanced by the endless reservoir of energy contained in his rapidly-lengthening body. Literally non-stop running, jumping, climbing, building, digging and playing leaves a boy hungry.

And curious. ¿Por qué? and ¿Que dijistes? (yes, plural) are his two favorite questions – literally, translated, to “why” and “what did you say?” are oft-repeated. Wonderful curiosity can make for some pretty lengthy conversations, and some genuine answer-seeking.

At times, the right answer doesn’t matter so much as the charm produced during the search. “Dodgers games” is the name for anything Dodgers-related. A Dodgers t-shirt, an L.A. hat, a singular Dodger game. . .but the cuteness level is off the charts.

Similar is que dijistes, with the ‘s’ mandatorily added, even after correction. “Ready, setty, go” is another that is just heart-melting.

Legos are still his favorite plaything – along with Nora – and he’s gentle with Bams. . .most of the time. El habla español con algunas personas, and English with others. Felix is pretty good at recognizing the difference.

Still shy initially, after 30 minutes or so he warms up, zooms around the space a few times and is his happy, energetic, inquisitive self. That said, if you put on Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars. . .well, at that point he’ll warm right up.

A few pics of 3 1/2 below.

at Max’s fifth bday

water ballon fights

read for the Dodgers games

Easter con abuelo

cool shades from Martha

Lego’s at bisabuelos

at Meema’s

eating a Dodger Dog at the Dodgers games

Beeman Park, with cheerios

more Dodgers games

Dodgers games with grandpa

Three and-a-half is a great age. Thank you for these memories – I am excited about seeing the next phase, Felix.

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Felix’s Three Year Check-in

nicknames: Loppa Loppa, Lops, Mr. Beans, Bean, Neens (derivative niño), niño chulo, Hermoso Moso or Mister Misters

languages: español y english, pretty evenly

size: 39.5 inches 31.8 pounds

activities: super independent, great self-play, running, climbing, jumping, hitting baseball off Fisher Price Grow to Pro Better Batter Baseball, playing in the dirt/sand, throwing everything, annoying Nora, playing with trucks and cars, building andd crawling through tunnels, ‘cooking’ and adding salt

songs: Paw Patrol theme, La Sonora Dinomita “Coo Coo,” Kanye West “Good Morning,” Hippie Sabotage “High Enough” (Halsey Flip), Lando Chill “Coroner,” The Weeknd “Tell Your Friends,” D. Niro “90’s Baby,” Beatbuds, “Tiburon Tiburon, Kanye West “Fade,” Kanye West “Father Stretch Your Hands Pt. I” “ven ven ven ven la carrera,” “la vaca Lola”

self-entertainment: puzzles (rompecabezas), Mega Bloks, pista de tren, putting anything together, libros, using his play kitchen, building with blocks or magnets

school: M, W, F full days at The Language Grove Miss Diana & Pati first year, Miss Dulce/Miss Issa (Gloria, Miss Yessy) second year

food: platano y lechita first thing in the morning, delivered to bed by Mama or Papa, followed by huevos or avena (con miel y pasas o fruta); lunch is last night’s leftovers, snackies post-nap or school (eg fruit, goldfish/pita chips/palomitas, one dulce, queso, pepino). loves pasta, arroz, frijoles, ALL fruit, tomatoes, kefir, organic lollipops, soybeans (“jelly” beans de soya), sopita, a TON of water, salmon

clothes: hustles around until you can catch him and put clothes on him, but dresses cute when mom picks out his clothes

grooming: loves baths, eats toothpaste, does not like having hair brushed “feo feo,” runs before he poops

iPad: LOVES watching ‘trocas’ – basically any cartoon. have to limit it to 30 min day, 30 min night.

shows: Paw Patrol, PJ Masks

sports: watches football, basketball, baseball, hockey. was entranced by sprint in the Olympics ‘mark, get set, go!’ and says ‘Go Dodgers’ and ‘UCLA Fight Fight Fight’

people: Mama, Papa, Martha, Tia, Max, Grandpa, Abuela, Tio, Grandma, Abuelo, Athena, Maizy, Gustavo, Luke, Shaya, Liam F., Liam U., River, Emily, Catherine (first nanny)

activities: nadando cada Jueves con Martha, el parque, just starting to ride bike

Bams, Nora: loves to run and hide Nora’s ball, throw Nora’s ball, chase Nora, be chased by Nora. Bams is fairly annoyed by him but he will say ‘Nice Bambi’ and pet him gently upon our urging.

alphabet, numbers: knows the alphabet with a little help, can count to 20 in spanish and 10 in english

Magnolia/Sherman Oaks: “vivo en Magnolia en Sherman Oaks”

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Vicariously Tracing Felix’s Roots in Huanusco

I don’t have roots.

Technically I do, but I don’t really know them and I’ve never been exposed to anything more than this: My maternal grandfather escaped the Holocaust and became an Atheist because the memories of his entire family being executed were too powerful to relive. His wife, my last surviving grandparent, was born in a now non-existent village of Ukraine called Staryy Ostropil, subsequently moved to Philadelphia where her families corner store was ravaged by the depression. She volunteered at a refugee camp where her and my grandfather met and reolcated to Los Angeles without any roots.

On my paternal side, all of my father’s relatives passed away prematurely, leaving me paternally grandparentless, and due to my father’s difficulty discussing the pain of loss, I am left with only these factoids: his mother was born in the United Kingdom and moved to Queens, New York, where she encountered his father, who was a soldier in the United States army in World War II who was stationed in Alabama. While in Mobile, he was forced to conceal his Judiasm for fear of being lynched, going so far as to participate in Ku Klux Klan rallies. They later moved to North Hollywood, where my dad was birthed and they both perished prior to my cognizance.

Thus, and no pun intended, dead ends on both sides.

You know who does have roots, though? My wife. Strong, deep, traceable living roots. And those, fortunately, were passed to Felix, who now is nearly two years old, and old enough to travel with us to live and experience those roots. While he may not be able to look back and remember vivid detail from this trip, I worked my hardest to memorialize the memories as they occurred, from the family to the food to the land.

Below are a handful of these memories from our wonderful journey to Huanusco, Zacatecas, Mexico as well as nearby locales that are integral to his family background and their upbringing. I am very thankful to my wife and her family for accepting us into their lives and simultaneously enriching ours.

IMG_4164  IMG_4175  IMG_4184  IMG_4202  IMG_3848 IMG_3696 IMG_4222  IMG_3731IMG_3763  IMG_3827  IMG_3938IMG_3950  IMG_3953  IMG_4033IMG_4084  IMG_4113  IMG_4123IMG_4132  IMG_4143  IMG_4158IMG_4159  IMG_3714  IMG_3726IMG_4295  IMG_4298 IMG_4300 IMG_4329

From the town of Huanusco to Felix’s aunt’s ranch in Arrelanos to the larger town of Jalpa, we were able to enjoy much of what Zacatecas had to offer. And the ruins of Guatimala, the original pueblo of the family that housed 30 families in the mid-20th century, was truly mind blowing. It’s known as a fantasma-town now, or Ghost Town in English. You can see why in the photos above.

Absolutely amazing time; fun, enriching, and nourishing for the soul. And as the roots grow deeper, Felix will be able to trace his background and personal history, at least on one side of the family.

Felix Bae Birthday

Felix is turning ONE.

Insert cliché where does the time go comment here. But seriously, what the heck? TW always harkens back to when he was tiny and didn’t move. We could just pop him down somewhere, keep a ‘loose eye’ on him, and take care of our business. But now, he is our sole business, as well as our soul. And heart, and mind.

And eyes. We can’t take his eyes of of him, not that we want to – he’s literally cuter every day, more active (darn us both for being so energetic, jk) and more explorative, which makes for a ton of fun and not quite as much trouble.

I mean, would this guy give us trouble?

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he’s mobile, he’s walking (a few steps at a time)

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and he’s making a mess, even while being cute as can be.

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he’s alert, aware and intrigued – which makes everything more fun & interestingScreen Shot 2014-10-31 at 10.54.00 AM

 

and he keeps giving us looks like this, which melts our hearts every day

FelixBruinsCrib

 

but we keep him close, because he’ll get into anything he sees

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and will touch whatever happens to be within arms (or crawling) distance.

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Fortunately, the dogs have come around on being his BFF, even when he plays keep away

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and even though he’s only babbling, he can converse with the best and wisest of themFelixMeema

so I guess what I’m trying to say is it has been so fun, so awesome

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and we can’t wait to celebrate his first birthday officially on November 1st, 2014.

Felix Bae, you have made our lives incredible and we thank you every day. You are our motivation, our light, our entertainment (ha!) and the reason I can wake up every morning with a smile, and go to bed content.

May there be many more birthdays in your future, and may the memories keep burning brighter. It’s been an incredible ride, and we’re only beginning.

We love you, Felix. Happy Birthday.

 

 

 

 

 

Recognizing Limits for Dad

With age, I’m starting to recognize limits. I would attribute this to the cascade of reality that envelops one’s soul upon having a child, but in fact this was self-observed a few years back. At that point it was sheerly in the sense of physical limitations; now I notice the mental constraints as well.

There are limits on concepts as concrete and ethereal as relationships, friendship & corporate career advancement. But again – the first real affirmation that my physical capabilities were in decline occurred on the basketball court during a parks & rec league five years ago. I used to be a rebound machine; during my days in college as a six-foot tall suburban kid, I could leap with the best of them and grab boards well above the rim.  At 32 years old in the rec league, those rebounds were now a few inches out of my reach – or more to the point, I was now being outrebounded by shorter, ‘less athletic’ kids. Subsequently, it happened in flag football – as a safety I used to grab interceptions on all but the most elite of quarterbacks; then, just like in hoops, my ability deteriorated to the point where receivers were burning me as if I were a pylon on the sidelines.

The next realization came through Sleep. This was major; in college, I tried to emulate the Bill Clinton model of 4.5 hours/night of sleep; starting from the prerequisite eight hours and working my way down a half hour per month (7.5 hours/night in month one, 7 hours/night in month 2, etc) until I could function with five per night. Through college, this was awesome. Entering my career, it became a necessity – and I thrived. There were three-hour nights, sleepless nights, and weekends bereft of so much as even a nap. Come Monday, I’d be charged, energized & ready to go. Then all of a sudden at 33-34 years old, six hours didn’t cut it. Neither did seven. I’d wake up and realize that I was the spitting image of my dad, huddled over the side of the bed, hands on knees & head down convincing myself to awaken and face the day. And it’s for no other reason than fatigue. Not depression, not rueing the day ahead, not anger at a situation, but outright lethargy. Brought on by age? Perhaps. Wear & tear? Likely. But more importantly, I hit my limit – the limit on my capacity to function without the proper recharge.

Now, at 35 years old,  the limits are vivid. I don’t speed while I drive, I don’t drink like I did in college, I stretch prior to each workout (really) and I go to bed at a reasonable time. Maybe it comes with (middle) age, the accumulation of experience turned to wisdom, the realization of reality. Or maybe it was Felix?Having a child really does change everything, and each decision – every step, every choice, every outcome has an impact on both myself and my child. It’s both harrowing and exhilarating. And the pressure is on – the pressure to learn, to acclimate, to strive to achieve, to set an example and to pave the way for his life to be as successful as possible, in whatever way he deems.

This can be a real positive. This is a constant learning experience that is fun as I figure out how to manage it properly.

Some days, there are breakdowns; I freaked out today when our coffeemaker spilled over, staining the counter, dripping down the walls and burrowing into the grout on our new subway tile. But it doesn’t matter. Thanks to Irene’s equanimity and Felix’s smiling face, the realization that the limits of my anger/disappointment shouldn’t be tested in such a minor circumstance.

An irony here is that at Felix’s age, there are no limits. Well, of course I don’t want him crawling down stairs or running out the front door – but it’s a delicate balance between restrictions and limits; there are NO limits on what he dreams to achieve, or on his imagination, or on where he can go and who he can be. But for me? It’s a different story. And as I continue to age, gain experience & learn, I need to abide by these limits to ensure that Felix realizes that they don’t apply to him.

At least not yet.

 felixevchurch

Outstanding. . .and In-standing. . .and Standing up

We went to Lake Arrowhead with a couple that has a son three weeks younger than Felix. The son was able to stand and I was envious. Felix initially seemed to not mind that his similarly-sized friend could now ‘tower’ over him. By the end of the weekend, however, he was attempting to pull himself up on Mom’s knee, but really couldn’t quite fully stand.

Para Te, my wife would utter (stand up) and Felix would coyly flash his blissful, newly-toothed smile only to be nonplussed as to the actual logistics of standing. He was up somewhat, but still wobbly and nothing close to an actual ‘stand’ –

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but whether it be peer pressure or osmosis, within 48 hours of our return, Felix was standing on his own (albeit with the help of furniture:

FelixStands

 

Now, he’s standing on Mom’s leg, Dad’s stomach, the ledge in his nursery that peers onto the street; and the cutest of all, in his crib. Walking into Felix’s room, opening the door and seeing this little dude peering over the top of his rail, standing on his (lowered) mattress is one of the most human-like, take-your-breath-away moments I’ve had. There’s something about that innocent “look at me” that he shoots my way with his grin that melted my heart. It’s amazing – the little boy really is growing up. . .and it’s awesome.

One of the best milestones yet.