Thursday, May 24, 2012

Three year old Gabriel!

Wow...we have a three year old in the house! For almost 4 months now! And we love it.
Gabriel had a great birthday.  We started off his special day by recording him first thing in the morning (a tradition) as we sung him happy birthday and gave him his gifts.  I just love getting him on video, as he first wakes up in the morning.  Seeing Gabriel in the morning is my favorite thing.

We wanted his birthday party to just be full of fun with his little friends. So we decided to do it at an inflatable palace called Kangaroo Jacs. He had so much fun and it was so cute to see all his little friends enjoy their time as well.  I had a lot of help from my wonderful mom in planning this party.  She knew I was in such a stressful time in school and offered to figure out the cake, and many of the other party things.  It felt nice to accept help. Below are some pictures of his birthday:

And finally, here is my wrap up on Gabriel as a 3 year old:
Soon after Gabriel turned 3, we wondered if he was  in the terrible 3's stage.  He was grumpy, extra sensitive, and very stubborn.  Now, those are normal feelings for any child to experience on any given day.  However, he had about 2 weeks of that, and we were not use to him being that way! We started to wonder if this was our new Gabriel.  Our little guy has always been so sweet, flexible, sensitive, and loving.  He never did have the terrible two's. But, just as fast as those two weeks snuck up on us, they were gone.  Gabriel is back to his own self.  I realize that he may have been feeling my own stress of grad school and was just reacting to that.  Gabriel is incredibly intuitive to my feelings, just as I am to his.

Gabriel continues to be the same boy I have always blogged about.  He is so smart, constantly amazing us with his questions or actions.  He is kind and loving to us and those around him.  Occasionally, he has his angry outburst, and they are usually directed at Dave. So every once in a while, poor Dave will get a tennis racket to the head.  He always tells on his dad.  He will come up to me with puppy tear filled eyes and say " Dada hurt my feelings", "Dada made me sad" "Dada told me..and it made me mad".  So I then have to empathize with his hurt feelings and when he is feeling better remind him that Dad told him it was time for bath because Gabriel needs to be clean.  Once any one of us is able to empathize with him, he is fine! Whatever made him terribly sad (getting in bath, asking him put toys away, telling him he can't watch a movie) suddenly makes sense to him.

To Gabriel, i'm his everything, and it's mostly Dad that messes up.  It's a case of classic Oedipus complex! At the end of the day, he adores his dad and has a strong relationship with him.  We both have very special relationships with him.  I think Gabriel is blessed with two parents that love him like crazy.  There is days where Dave and I fight to be the one that reads to him, hold him as we watch a movie, or comfort him first when he hurts himself.  I love that we both fight to shower Gabriel with support and love. It's a good problem to have in a home.

At this stage Gabriel loves to watch "movies".  This is something that happened after he watched the Cars movie in Utah last November.  We had never really watched movies in our house.  So once he understood the concept of a movie, he asks us to watch movies all the time.  We have a small collection of movies that are usually on his rotation: The Land Before Time, Tom & Jerry, Popeye,  Scooby Doo, and a Leap Frog Alphabet Movie.  So usually once a day he watches part of one of those movies as his down time, usually in the morning or early afternoon. The most hilarious part of his movie watching is that he watches it "actively", especially with the Tom & Jerry movie, and the dinosaur move (Land Before Time).  He does all the same things that Tom and Jerry do in the movie, he'll run around the house while Jerry is being chased, he'll fall down or pretend to throw things with Tom throws them.  It's hilarious! And whenever a T-rex is chasing the rest of the dinosaur's, Gabriel runs away too and screams around the house.  I have to video it one of these days.  From my perspective, it's great coping skills! He's coping with his own stress response (fight vs flight) when watching a cat chase a mouse, or a scary t-rex chasing someone. Of course, this is his mom therapist talking. Nevertheless, i'm impressed by his response to watching movement in a movie.  It also goes to show...this boy is always moving!

We are very happy for our three year old.  I have no idea where our life would be without him.  For sure, life would not be as deeply rewarding as it is because of him.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Weekend with Tia & Andre

Last weekend my sister, Josselyn and her boyfriend, Andre were able to spend the weekend with us. It was long over due and we all had such a fun time enjoying their company. Gabriel adores his Tia, and it's quite possible that he adores Andre even more. They both have a very sweet bond with Gabriel. Josselyn has been a constant in his life and he has such a secure attachment to her, as he should! On Saturday we went to a park and flew Gabriel's kite. Gabriel fed the ducks with "leaves" and just had a fun time. That evening we watched a movie and ate donuts from a local donut shop that makes amazing donuts! My favorite is the powdered one with raspberry filling! Gabriel loves the donut holes, which he calls his "baby donuts".

On Sunday we went to the Science Museum and enjoyed all the cool exhibits they had! We even got to watch mice play basketball and apparently ESPN has filmed and aired them on tv! Later, I even got to do some target shopping with my Sis while the boys stayed home and watched basketball. We ended our weekend by enjoying a meal I cooked for everyone, upon Josselyn's request. It was a nice, simple weekend with Tia and Andre! We are grateful for both of them. Below are some cute pictures of our weekend:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Growing on Up

My baby boy is growing up. He is growing up way too fast actually.  I've been having a really hard time with this reality lately. For the last couple of weeks i've been on the brink of tears and have actually had two mini-breakdowns stemming from the reality that he is getting older and that time is not stopping for me to take all of this in.

Gabriel started preschool this monday.  He has moved up from his toddler class where he had strong friendships and two amazing teachers- Cintia & Rachel and has started his preschool class with new friends and another wonderful teacher, Jelena.

Personally, this is a bittersweet change for me as a parent.  Gabriel moving up to preschool symbolizes so much.  I can still remember him as an infant, as if it was yesterday.  His personality and spirit has not changed since the time I used to hold him in my arms and look into his beautiful and telling eyes.  He is still kind, loving, smart and mischievous.  He is still sensitive, deep feeling, and has his old soul.  We still have a very special and deep mother-son bond that is indescribable with words.  It is because of this special bond I have with him that I know how much he loves his toddler team teachers Cintia and Rachel.

Cintia first became his teacher when his old one left.  Gabriel bonded very quickly and deeply with Cintia.  I could tell that he connected with her and that their relationship would build into something important.  The very first day I met Cintia she told me the sweetest things about Gabriel, things that as his mother I  knew and thought as well.  But, it was her quick insight into my sweet little child that made me quickly realize that she authentically loved and cared for my son.  When I would drop him off in the morning, I always left so relieved because I knew he was in the best hands.  She is amazing.  Cintia is from Brazil and she embodies that warm latin american culture that I often miss. I am so grateful that Gabriel was able to have her as a teacher. 

Rachel became his teacher a few months after Cintia's co-teacher was moved to another department.  Rachel was so open and happy about being the new co-teacher, and I think that infectious bright attitude rubbed onto Gabriel.  He also built a quick and sweet bond with Rachel.  He was sure to include her in our conversations at home, and that's how I knew he loved his new teacher.  Gabriel was quick to give her goodbye hugs when he first met her and it was obvious that he felt comfortable around Rachel.  Rachel has been so kind to us and always willing to listen to us talk about the cute things Gabriel does at home.  Both Cintia and Rachel have made a great team together for Gabriel.  I am so grateful for each of them.  They have been such an important part of our lives. We will miss them greatly...good thing they are just down the hallway! 

As the time approached for Gabriel to have his last week with them, I felt so conflicted inside. Sad for Gabriel because I know that transitions in life are hard.  If they are hard for adults, imagine how confusing they must be for a child.  Cintia and Rachel have done a phenomenal job in supporting him in this new and exciting transition.  We also prepared him a lot at home.  His new teacher Jelena has been so awesome, supportive, and collaborative. Together- Gabriel's toddler teachers, his new preschool teacher, and us have really prepared him for this new exciting chapter in his life.  He has been very excited to enter preschool.  He has had a great week of making new friends and getting to know his new classroom.  I will blog about his preschool experience later.  This post is more importantly dedicated to celebrating a part of his life that has been so special to him and us.   

The collection of pictures below showcase a beautiful story.  He celebrates that he is getting older, and the photos embody the special relationships he has with both Cintia and Rachel. Both his teachers took these goodbye pictures of him, and I am continually impressed by them. I am so grateful I have these photographs to show Gabriel when he is older.  He already loves looking at these pictures and talking about his toddler teachers and his friends in the toddler program. 

 Graduating on Up

Gabriel and all of his toddler class friends.  Missing are his friends Arden and Patrick.

Thank you so much Cintia and Rachel for being such beautiful and authentic people.  Gabriel has been so fortunate to have had you in this chapter of his life. He loves you both dearly. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

'Twas The Season...

This time of year is so festive and fun. I love the emphasis that is placed on giving, and really strive to stay away from the commercialization that exist around this holiday season. Thus, I focus on the big message of joy and giving.I try to shop locally, and get gifts that will not only give to the people that receive them, but also have a domino effect on others. This isn't possible for everyone I shop (or make gifts) for, but regardless I try to make each gift meaningful, simply because I am giving. The excitement and deep sense of gratification that I experience when finding gifts for my most loved ones is awesome.

This season always reminds me to serve those around me. Especially, since we are in a much more fortunate place than others. When David and I first got married, we talked about the goals we each had for our family. David mentioned he wanted us to be really close with one another, and I said, I wanted us to not only be close but also focus on expending our bonds outwards with other people in need. I've always dreamed of giving to the community alongside my kids. I want to instill in them the importance of giving, without expectations. When Gabriel was born I was so excited to begin this tradition. This was going to be the first year where we were going to directly involve him in an environment where hardcore service was taking place. I signed up for two different events to do together as a family. One would be the toys for tots 5k. I love running, and finding gifts, so it was a perfect combination. My plan was to take Gabriel to the store, have him help me select a gift for another boy and girl. We would donate them at the 5k event, and then run as a family. However, that was a big fail! The last part of my semester was so intense and busy, I barely had a chance to eat or shower. Unfortunately the event fell in the middle of this madness, and it did not work out. I was really disappointed. But since I've been working on not being so hard on myself, I tried to just roll with the punches on that one.

The next event I volunteered for was a brunch that was organized by a local playwright who wanted to put together the very first Christmas brunch for homeless female veterans and their children. I was beyond thrilled to be a part of such a respectable cause. I figured Gabriel could come, and somehow be a part of all the service. The day before the event, we got an email to not bring our families, if at all possible. It seemed like the brunch and other christmas festivities we were throwing were going to be such a big hit with the homeless women veterans, that they were concerned we would not have enough space. This was completely understandable. So I volunteered on my own. It was such an enriching experience. I'm not a person that is big into military, etc (specifically-the ideology behind war and defense). So I especially made the effort to serve a population that often goes unnoticed by me. This was an attempt to build a strong bond and connection with a group of people (the military) that I've never specifically served. Each of these women have a story, and are presently in tough situations. These are also women that have bravely served this country, and have children to support. I was happy to volunteer and help make this brunch a success for them. I loved my experience.

That also leads me to my next thought. This holiday season really is about uniting all of us. Regardless of the different holiday traditions that we adhere to, we are all celebrating something special. I find the two thoughts below so fitting:

"During the holiday season we become aware of our religious identifications. Amid this, let's also be aware of our Oneness identification. As much as you teach your children how to identify more with their religion, at the same time, also teach them to identify as a person-of-this-world - one with all cultures, all traditions, all religions, all peoples." -Dr. Shefali Tsabary
And I want Gabriel to be able to see things this way:

"As we put our christmas tree next to our menorah, my daughter made a video and said, "and today we celebrate Christmas, but tomorrow Hannukah, and then Purim and then Easter and Diwali. Different festivals, but same cast of characters." We are of One identity. -Dr. Shefali Tsabary
This season was filled with both thoughtfulness, service, and fun. Below are some pictures of what we got into:

           Celebrating my brother and sisters birthdays!

And then we travelled to San Diego for Christmas and had fun at the beach, sea world, and riding around San Diego. Such a beautiful place, and a great time with Dave's parents: