Because sometimes you can't stop yourself

Make one for your favorite kid - and then share it with me!

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Bouncey Ball

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Bert & Ernie

Most children cherish Elmo over all other Sesame Street characters. A smaller group love the Cookie Monster or possibly Grover. My child? She's crazy about Bert & Ernie - the only gay men on the block.

I discovered this by accident. Javi used to love the movie "Elmo in Grouchland"; however, he hasn't watched it in years. So I decided yesterday to test if it still works. As soon as Ernie's face popped up on the screen, Bella shrieked with excitement. Then out stormed Bert in a towel and shower cap ... and the baby was hooked.

Now, everytime we show her a picture of the couple, she giggles, claps and bounces a little. I've played the first 5 minutes of the Elmo movie just to show off her reaction. There's nothing better than pure joy ... especially when it defies logic. Why does she love Bert & Ernie so much but then lose interest when Elmo comes on? There are no cute baby names for Bert & Ernie like there are for Elmo (e.g., MoMo, Omo, Ahmo, etc).

Yet - perhaps this is some type of genetic memory. Here are two fun facts: My mother decorated me and Erin's baby room in Bert & Ernie. Also, Ashlee's ex is a dead ringer for Bert. There are no coincidences!

Here's a shot of Bella enjoying her new buds. Perhaps they'll share some fashion sense and the ability to spot "family" from a mile away:

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First it was raspberries, then clucking - now she smacks!

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Bella Tackles The Stairs

We normally gate off the stairs but I decided to allow Bella to play on them yesterday under my supervision.

Lo and behold that baby has figured out how to get down the stairs safely! It's the cutest, smartest trick I've seen yet!

Oh - and notice how proud of herself she is. :)

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Bella's rocking the animal print

And what? She wants you to know that "rocking out" is what animal-print baby-skinny-pants are made for.

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Bella Tackles The Stairs

We keep the stairs gated off because Bella is obsessed with them and will make a bee-line for them as soon as her feet hit the carpet. However, yesterday I decided to just let her have at them because I could stand with her to keep her from tumbling down them and breaking her tiny neck.

Surprise! That child doesn't need my help. She's figured out how to get down the stairs all on her own!

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Easter conversation

You know your child is growing up when you have the following conversation on Easter eve:

Javi: Um, where's the Easter bunny? Is he putting on his costume?

Me: What are you talking about? What costume?

Javi: The Easter bunny costume. Are you going to wear it? Who's going to wear it?

Me: Javi, the Easter bunny is a bunny - not a costume.

Javi: No, I mean the person in the bunny costume. The Easter bunny is a man in a costume. How does he get everywhere? Do you think he drives on the road?

Me: Oh, so you don't believe in the Easter bunny? You think it's just a man? Cause kids who don't believe in the Easter bunny don't get Easter baskets.

Javi: HAHAHAHAHA! I TRICKED YOU MOM!!!!!!!! Of COURSE I believe in the Easter bunny!!!! How could you think I don't believe in the Easter bunny! Oh, Mom, you are so FUNNY!!!!!

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Easter 2008

Bella enjoyed Easter. She helped hunt eggs, got to walk on the road and gummed every thing she got her hands on. She was four days old last Easter so we were amazed by the differences between last year and this one.

Happy Easter!
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Javi of Many Faces

This is how we pass our time.

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Friday Family Night

We ordered Chinese takeout and chilled out at home tonight, as per usual for a Friday night. Right now, we're all laying around on top of each other watching a DVRed episode of Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader.

But earlier? Earlier, we were wild animals. Here are two prime examples:

You know you wish you were here!

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So Handsome!

Spring is creeping its way back after what seems like a long winter. I shouldn't complain - it didn't actually get cold until January and even then it was never as cold as it did in many places in the country. But, I reserve my right to be ecstatic that the heat is rolling back in.

I took the kids on a nice walk yesterday, picked up a third kid to hang out with us and then hit not one but TWO parks. Unfortunately neither park had a baby swing so poor Bella had to sit in my lap to swing. She still enjoyed it, but what she really wanted to was to be on the ground stuffing twigs and leaves into her mouth. Too bad lady! I kept having "House" flashbacks and seeing the microscopic bacteria flying through her body until her heart explodes or something.

So after letting Javi stuff his face with 20 million slices of pizza at Pizza Inn, we came home and Bella and I settled in to play on the floor while Javi washed park grime off his body. When he got back downstairs, a commercial for the ABC affiliate WTVD 11 was playing on TV. I didn't think anything of it until Javi exclaims passionately, "Oh, I love that hair! Did you see it, Mama? Don't you love it?"

After I stopped laughing, he made me rewind the TV (gotta love that DVR) so I could see this show-stopping hair. It was weather guy Glen Willey's blonde, combed back doo that had knocked Javi over with its greatness. You know, how it's all combed back and stuff!

Don't ask me - all he kept saying was, "oh, I just love it - it looks great!" I think Glen Willey would be happy to know that his hair has touched viewers in such a deep, astounding way. But, no, we will not be allowing Javi to do the side part.

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Yes, she's talking to the cat and really enjoying unfettered access to the stairs!

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No photos!

Only a rock-star-in-training would so quickly strike this pose first thing in the morning.

Of course, that didn't last too long. She was back to begging for the camera before the flash died down.

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Letter to Bella, month eleven

Dear Bella,

You're a real girl! Gone is the roly-poly baby whose life is a series of accidents. In her place is rough-and-tumble tiny girl who acts with deliberation and intent. You spy a cheese cracker crumb from across the room and dart over to grab it up with your precise pincer grasp. You see movement outside the window and toddle over to see what's happening.

And that toddle is spectacular. You spent your tenth month testing out your balance and wobbly legs. This month was spent practicing. It's still quicker to crawl from point A to point B, but you spend more time on two legs than hugging the ground. You stand up in the middle of the room and make your way to the toy bin. You hear someone getting food and pop right up to go see what's to eat.

Oh, girl. No one could ever deny you are a Quinones with your appetite. I remember your grandma lamenting once that she could be eating a bowl of poo and your aunts and I would still beg for a taste. Don't I know that feeling? Whether it's salted and buttered grits, a sweet potato, celery stalk, cup of yogurt, bowl of minestrone, or simply a handful of blanched almonds, you show up with gleaming eyes and an open mouth. If I don't find something to pop in there, you rail at the world for being so harsh on your poor soul.

Yes, drama is in your blood, too. Hence your deepening passion for being in the spotlight. A new person enters your orbit and you draw them in with a wide smile. If they pay enough attention to you, you'll hold their finger or clap for them. If they ignore you, you'll go through a series of tricks to capture their attention, including patting cake, bobbing to commercials, clicking your tongue and walking towards them as if they are the salt of the earth.

Your milestones have rolled in hand over fist. You've been "clapping" for months, but this month you learned how to do it correctly and will pat cake on command. Unfortunately, to master this you had to say goodbye to bye bye. You rarely wave to people any longer. I'm not worried, though. You'll be waving by prom. :)

You've also learned to search for things. Missing a pacifier or book? Let's look under the pillow. Let's peer into the toy bin. Where is it? And, you're pretty good at finding. Daddy helps you hone your skills by purposefully hiding things for you to find. Of course you clap for yourself when you uncover the prize.

The Boppy pillow is your favorite toy these days, next to books. You'll spend long stretches with your books: turning pages, pulling up flaps, dancing to musical ones, clapping for surprise ones. But that pillow? It's amazing. If someone says, "That's my pillow!" You'll lunge for it and lay your body over it, peeking at the person who made the mistake of trying to claim it. You'll also try to roll your body over a person if they have the audacity to try to lay on even a portion of it.

There are some things you're struggling with. Mainly, the Sippy Cup. We have three different varieties: two soft spouts, one with handles and one more like a bottle, and one hard spout. You chew on the soft spouts, which leaves you with a wet shirt but probably feels fantastic on your gums - which are still only sporting two teeth. You try to chew something out of the hard spout, but when no juicy water rolls out, you just use it as a toy.

What you really want is to drink out of a big person cup. If you see one, you zoom for it - and if no one gets to it before you, you'll have drink all over, but your mouth is right where it should be. Hopefully we'll find a middle ground before your 12-month well baby check when your pediatrician will most likely cast me to hell for both the lingering pacifier and the inability to hydrate yourself without a bottle.

However, I have made a few resolutions: 1) your 19 lb 14 oz body is perfect and another month or so on a bottle won't kill you; 2) the pacifier has to and will go, but while you're teething and sickly, it can and will be your comfort; and 3) what the pediatrician doesn't know won't hurt her. As a second-time mom, I'm not as concerned with the shoulds and shouldn'ts of babyhood. As long as you're safe and healthy, I'm going to let you grow at your pace - not a textbook's.

I am continually amazed that your first birthday is right around the corner, but the signs are everywhere. You had your first cold and even that was handled like a big girl. No tantrums or inconsolable crying, just a gentle laying of your head on my lap when you needed comfort and strong-willed determination when you wanted to play despite the wheezing.

The past eleven months have reinforced that I do not want another baby - and knocked me over the head with how wonderful you are and how happy I am that you chose to join our family. I can hear you murmuring 'mama' as you begin to enter the day. You will spend the next few hours showering your world with giggles and pokes. How lucky I am to be the one who gets to join you.

Love, Mama

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