Contact Daniel

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tastings by Lucas

Lucas is learning to taste food and to read. Genius.
In a rather anti-climatic moment that had little to do with tastings and food and more to do with emergency soothing, Lucas' first ever human food tasting was - drumroll - banana!

Yes, it was banana by default, used as a coy distraction in order to shush him in the car.

Like any good baby, Lucas waits to throw his worst, most piercing fits in the car when it is impossible to really help him since he is legally strapped into a car seat. Thus, his first tasting was just a piece of my banana that took a detour from my mouth to his in hopes that it would distract him enough on the drive home.

He is 5 months old now and Lucas has been tasting real human food for about a month. That is when they start over here in the Wild West of Israel. If Lucas had his way, I'm sure he'd be downing steak right now. But instead, mommy and abba are having their way and limiting him to bland beginnings of rice cereal, sweet potato, and of course, banana. And this dull menu, believe it or not, is against the doctor's orders.

According to the nurse at Tipat Halav (the neighborhood weigh station where we get our shots and other nursing advice), Lucas should begin tasting everything right now. The conversation with the same nurse, in an eerie form of deja vu, went like this:

Nurse: You can begin give Lucas tastings of anything you are eating.

Mommy: Anything?

Nurse: Yes, anything. Fish, chicken, hummus, vegetables.

Mommy (incredulously): Not dairy, right?

Nurse: Yes, dairy too. Everything. 

Mommy: Pureed, of course.

Nurse: No, just a small bite from the tip of your fingers. It doesn't need to be pureed just mashed between your fingers.

Mommy (in a state of bewilderment): Okay.

Hard to believe, but yes, another year, another rule for what is or is not acceptable for babies to eat. Mommy has yet to comply and actually given chicken or fish to Lucas. It is sort of hard to imagine him not choking on it, so mommy hasn't worked up her bravery or CPR skills yet. Anyway, its not like Lucas is suffering from this lack of solids. Have you seen his thighs lately?

I will say that due to these enchantingly lax laws in Israel, I was eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches long before my American counterparts. And I lived to tell - and blog - about it. In fact, I scared a New York nurse during that hospital visit there in March as I dined on my PB&J. She nearly pried it from my mouth until Aunt Beanie insisted I had already been well exposed to peanuts and displayed no allergies therein.

Here are some videos of me teaching Lucas how to eat real human food like a good baby:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Being Pushy

Hanging out at school with Ephraim trying to concoct
an interesting game with the orange ball in my hands.
Oh wait, I think I have an idea!

Me anointing Ephraim as king
Here in the toddler stage of my life I am learning new things such as:

  • Throwing every object that passes near your hands, apparently, is not a good thing
  • There is such a concept as "make nice," which appears to be the direct opposite of smacking
  • Sharing is supposed to be the better way
  • Being pushy is frequently frowned upon (but I can't help it if that is the only way to get attention)

But, being pushy isn't always a bad thing as you will here in these videos:

This is how I pass some of my time at the Shalva day care: acting as chauffeur and anointing the leaders of the next generation. Busy days, I tell you. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Terem, Toys and Teething

Terem, for those of you unfamiliar with the finer points of Israel, is the emergency clinic near our house. It is our place to go when the doctor's office is closed and when we haven't quite reached ER status. 

Sharing secrets of the trade

When Lucas was born mommy wondered a lot about what differences would unfold between him and me. For better or for worse, she has found that there seems to be more in common than not, aside from our dashing yet divergent good looks. Allow me to elaborate. You knew I would anyway.

1. Drama

Though Lucas hasn't earned the label of "drama king" yet, he has already discovered that if he wants to be noticed around here he has a lot of competition, with me in particular. Accordingly, he jumped in on the action the other day when Uncle Matt and Aunt Majda paid their final visit to us. On their first two visits in early and mid May, I made sure to expose them to my drama of being sick, an episode they missed in NYC and all the many times in Israel. So both times they came by our apartment, I became the non-femme fatale and threw my head back with fever and tears. And both times, instead of a normal visit with all of us, Uncle and Aunt M&M ended up babysitting Lucas while mommy and abba carted me off to Terem.

We managed to go on one walk and get some
ice cream while they were here

And we managed to get a few family shots
before Lucas or I unravelled

Lucas unravelling

He held his own for at least one photo

Lucas enjoyed his first session with them. And while he enjoyed the second one as well, it was then that he began to wise up to my shenanigans. He kept this bit of information in his ever burgeoning brain for later use. That later use came this Sunday when Uncle and Aunt M&M came to bid us adieu before returning to the US. Now, it was his turn.

After more than 24 hours of incubating a fever that was unresponsive to over the counter drugs and practicing a pathetic cry (though not nearly as abysmal as mine), mommy wished M&M bye bye and then took Lucas to Terem. And there mommy learned that we have another thing in common:

2. The uncanny ability to recover as soon as we are admitted for medical care (except for my few hospital visits, which I milked each time)

Here's a video of me at Terem, "sick," two weeks ago followed by one of Lucas just mere days prior to this blog post:

It is amazing how just the sight of a doctor can cause us to perk right up. As you can see, we both bounced back rather quickly - and embarrassingly so if you ask the parents who rushed us out the door with our ailments and all.

3. Entertainment

Sure we provide stellar entertainment as the scrumptious babies that we are, but this bullet point deals instead with our need for entertainment. Mommy is having deja vu as she attempts to work from home. It was just this time last year that she had me at home while she tried to get things done, like a job for instance. It was my daily challenge to keep her distracted from her work and I succeeded admirably. Since then I have been carted off to Shalva's day care so that others can practice their entertainment skills.

This year, Lucas has taken on my mantle at home. Now he stares forlornly at mommy from his play map while he musters his best whimper to get her attention. He will not be easily persuaded with activities or plied with colorful toys. Even TV has a minimal effect on him. Lucas must be gazed upon in order to stem the tide of tears that threaten to pour from his eyes. Anything short of direct eye contact is, for Lucas, a slight. And rather unacceptable.

During his days at home with mommy, he makes sure to lure her to-do list to his own special recipe of tasks: me, me me! Hey, he learned from the best! (Clicking the link is advised)

Innocent as charged!

4. Teething

I don't have much to say about this dreaded topic except that Lucas and I are on the same cycle: tandem teething! Yes, we both are cutting all sorts of painful objects in our respective mouths. Simultaneously. And, amazingly, we really don't even notice the pesky process unless it is nighttime. That is pretty good, I think. To be able to endure 18 hours of probably pain and discomfort and only really respond to it during certain hours (particularly between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.) is an admirable trait and goes to show just how brave we really are. Just another thing that us brothers have in common!

Mommy? Abba?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Happy Birthday to a *Great* Grandmother

Earlier this year we had a long and surprise visit with Nanni

The most avid reader of my blog doesn't even own a computer, if you can imagine that! Nanni has a stack of my blogs, printed on real paper rather than shining on a computer screen, on the table next to her chair. Of course the fact that she gets to read the blogs without a computer is a miracle of modern technology (printers!), but Nanni is by far my number 1 fan. And now she is also Lucas' number 1 fan, somehow managing to shower us with equal amounts of affection and attention as only a great grandmother can.

Today is Nanni's birthday and I must use this blog post to wish a very happy and exciting birthday to my great great-grandmother from me and Lucas! Happy Birthday Nanni! Thank you for all your love. You have given me the gift of the word "cheechong" for the Italian dialect version of my pacifier. You have shown me that great-grandparents have even more rights than grandparents, so thank you for my first dollop of whipped cream and then cannoli cream way back when I was a littler baby. You gave me my very first pair of Italian shoes, in keeping with many other people in our family! You also have kept Lucas' chin dry from the copious amounts of drool that pour from his lips. And you have, of course, bequeathed to us a wondrous Italian heritage cloaked in love and Parmesan cheese.

We as babies are very honored to have you as our great grandmother. We wish we could hug you in person today.
Nanni enjoyed meeting Lucas for the first time
on his first trip to NY in March

Monday, May 21, 2012

Dan Juan

I am required to flirt first and foremost with mommy. Then I can move on.
It's just another day at school for Dan Juan. I flirt with my teachers, all the female workers and my therapists (except for Alan). And then I put the moves on my classmates as well. Here are a few examples of a day in the life of Dan Juan.

Last week when I arrived at home, still strapped in my car seat, I got off the bus as I usually do. Mommy and abba fawned over me as they usually do. And then as they were removing me from my seat they noticed something pink in my car seat. It was no less than Hallel's glasses!

Imagine this cutie without her glasses
Now, how Hallel's glasses ended up in my car seat is and shall remain a mystery. Only Hallel and I know and we've agreed to not tell. The driver and his assistant didn't see anything but they do have their suspicions about the two of us. The assistant said it is a shame we don't have Facebook pages so that he could determine whether or not we were officially "in a relationship."

My parents returned the eye glasses to Hallel's parents and they swapped theories as to what happens as we sit together in the van on our ride home from Shalva and how on earth I ended up with Hallel's glasses.

Here is another example of my flirtatiousness at school as I put the moves on Suri, one of my many versions of "the girl in the pink shirt." 

She's a tough cookie! How she can resist my charm I'll never know.

When all else fails, at least I can bop to a cell phone ring.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

One Enchanted Evening

Always conspiring

When a baby blogger fails to write a blog post for one week, so much has happened and so much has been missed by the readers because every day is an adventure in the life of a baby. And thus is the case with me and the week that eluded us all.

First of all, Uncle and Aunt M&M came to visit me all the way from Virginia. After being inundated with family in New York for seven weeks, I was feeling a bit lonely and detached, so having family come to see me helped me ease back into my new old world even further.

The night Uncle Matt and Aunt Majda came to see me, Monday night, I treated them to a specialty of mine that they had not yet experienced: a near brush with a hospital visit! Yes sure enough I downward spiraled into feeling unwell that day and then ultimately just lying flat on the shoulder of anyone who held me.

All of my Israel friends and family have experienced my hospital epics. Then when we went to New York in March, I made sure to include my America family and friends to my "hospitable" theatrics. Only Uncle and Aunt M&M missed out on my exploits since they live in Virginia and my play headlined in NY. So I thought I'd give them a little taste of that.

Regrettably - or not - I wasn't able to muster the full drama to warrant an ER. We simply went to the clinic where my O2 levels were on the good side of "border line"and I tested positive for strep, thereby baffling the doctors again since modern science insists that babies under 2 or 3 (depending who you ask) never get strep. Since I'm so intent on breaking old and setting new records, I have defied the odds twice now.

A quite enchanting evening followed this two nights later when I, tag teaming with Lucas, assistant to the regional manager, decided to wake up every hour, alternating our crying times so as to keep mommy and abba running the entire night. Our great conspiracy worked. Perhaps what kept waking us was the smoke of the traditional wood burning of Lag B'Omer, the one Jewish holiday that would've been banned by Smokey the Bear. Perhaps it was residual drama of the near-ER visit. Perhaps no one will ever know because Lucas and I have a secret pact to keep it quiet.

Since I am being taught to share, I did share my strep throat with mommy. It was an advance Mother's Day gift.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Re-Entry is a Good Thing

My swirl and I have finally returned to
school after an extended vacation

Despite a few harrowing days of tears and abandonment issues after seven weeks of being with mommy and abba plus running my own days (and theirs) rather than having it run for me by a more structured environment, I made peace with my return to school. It turned out to be a good thing.

I was thrown into the deep end having been sent back on the first possible day (last Sunday) and literally thrown into the pool as I resumed hydrotherapy immediately. I resisted this new schedule at first, falling into a deep-sleep nap by 10 a.m. on most days and extending my crankiness to meal times. But I suppose getting back into the "swing" of things helped me get my clock onto Jerusalem time.

As you can see, I eventually dove right back in:

Part of the reason for my initial distress was exhaustion and my upside down view of time. Jet lag is a mystery to babies and it cannot be explained to us logically. I wasn't sure why it was dark during prime afternoon hours and my sleeping patterns were thrown off accordingly. But after just four nights I angelically settled into a sleep pattern that was proper for the new time zone I was in. That allowed everyone else in the house to catch up on sleep and also defeat jet lag.

Well, everyone except Lucas that is. Lucas is still suffering from newborn lag even though he is not a newborn anymore. And really, mommy is the one suffering. For Lucas it is all still normal to wake up between 2 and 4 a.m. on any continent.

Lucas' day is much more tame than mine!

Note from parents: Don't try this at home!

Here I am creating my very own Van Gogh!

I've come a long way

Back in the "swing" of things

I suppose they missed my smile

...and my coy poses

And I missed everyone too!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I {Heart} Anniversary

Today is an infamous anniversary: One year ago today my little chest and my even tinier heart were open on an operating table for a surgeon to work on. I was 8.5 months then. Just days ago I had an ultrasound, with the esteemed Prof. Rein, that showed the patch is just as perfect now as it was exclaimed to be then. I am doing fine.

So fine, in fact, that I have more energy than the average baby! I hardly need any sleep especially now that my ally, jet lag, is aiding me in the continuing War Vs. Sleep.

I am very grateful for my new and improved heart (well it is my original heart that is improved, not new) and for all of the opportunities it will afford me as I begin my very active stage of life. The AV canal surgery is a thing of the past for me, and my friends Hallel and Ephraim. Whew. Let's get on with life!

Here are some pre-op photos of me in the hospital gearing up for surgery:

Mommy is trying to evade my gaze as I had to fast
and, well, mommy reminds me of food!

Me throwing a pout mommy's way. That's what she gets for not feeding me.

Halfway into my hospital garb.

Now in the OR waiting room. 

See you later, Abba.

Despite the threat of my screams for lattes, mommy bravely
escorted me into the OR where she held my hand until I fell asleep.

My last pre-scar photo. We would reunite 6 hours later.

See GongGong keeping bedside vigil?
And don't worry, that is iodine, not blood on the gauze.

My trademark swirl has also survived open heart surgery.
See? Everything is returning to normal!

In case these photos don't show up, here is the link to pre-op pics and this is the link to post-op pics.

Here is a post from a day after the surgery last year that describes my Braveheart-esque resilience:

Day 2 Update

Babies are notorious for pulling their tubes out after an operation, the doctors said. We wake up or even just flutter into consciousness and immediately go to war on the foreign objects protruding from our bodies. It is a natural instinct for babies. Amazingly, adults don't fight these things and tend to make better patients, the doctors have alleged.

Thus they are trying to keep me sedated. Try as they may, being the valiant warrior that I am, I have opened my eyes a few times already. I quickly closed them though as all I saw were computer screens and a boring ceiling. As my aunt - Zia Em - recommended, I might as well get in all the sleep I can now so I can be awake ad infinitum once these tubes are extricated. And since the scenery is boring, and I keep missing my parents when I do awake, I might as well just get some shut eye.

Speaking of tubes, there are more tubes than there is baby. They are monitoring every possible function my little body can undertake. 

I have caused just a touch of concern to the doctors and my parents, though I am stable and all my vitals are looking good, there is a constant drip of blood still leaking from various orifices. That is a cause for continued prayer - that the bleeding stops. They aren't sure from where I am bleeding, but it is coming in drips and filling up a large measurement for a being my size. They are trying to clot my blood now so that it stops. They don't think it is something that will require more surgery and it could just be residual blood from the op, but it has to stop nevertheless.

I will keep you posted!

Oh, and sorry no photos, but my photographer/mother has decided I am not living up to my usual cuteness with all the tape and wires draped across me.