Saturday, September 29, 2007

Home Again, Home Again

On Tuesday afternoon, Gideon and I (along with my parents) arrived at Newark Airport. Alex and I had been a bit nervous at Gideon's reaction when he first saw Alex again. Gideon had burst into heart-wrenching tears when he first saw my dad in Costa Rica. Not scared tears, but almost tears of "Why haven't you been around for 2 months?". So, we wondered at his reaction when he first saw Da-Da again. Gideon was a bit shy to see Alex at first. He smiled at him, but then buried his face into my shoulder. Of course, Alex had gotten a haircut for the occasion, which made him even more different looking. It took a few minutes, but then the Gidster leaped into his daddy's arms. All was right with his world again.

Many people have asked how Gideon did on the plane. Well, on the way to Costa Rica, he pretty much slept the entire way. However, on the way home, he slept for 3 hours, and then was awake for 2 and 1/2 hours. Two and a half hours of trying to entertain him. Of making sure he didn't go crawling down the aisle. Thank the Lord for my parents. I honestly don't know how moms do it alone. Here are some pictures of my angel on the plane:

We are very happy to be home. Right now, I am in the middle of deciding what to do for Gideon's first birthday. It's a major milestone, but should it be a small at-home milestone, or a big blowout? I want to have it at the park, but will it be too cold? October is an iffy month. Any advice out there? We are definitely going with a Mickey Mouse theme. Mickey is his favorite. No Dora or Elmo for my boy. He is old-school that way.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Random Happening

Ok, so picture this if you must. I am happily taking a shower at my aunt's house. I reach over to get my shampoo, and peacefully sitting behind it is a lizard. A small lizard, like 3-4 inches long. I start to hyperventilate. I scream for Andrea, who is good with slimy things, and has already seen me naked, and grab my towel. My aunt also runs in and suggests: a. throwing Clorox on it!! or b. flushing it down the toilet. Thankfully, my sister is more humane, and simply grabs it and takes it outside. Meanwhile I am standing wet and naked, holding my towel in front of me, sort of crying and laughing. I simply cannot believe this is happening, yet I am already formulating the blog post about it.

Ok, carry on with that image in your head.
Miscellaneous Costa Rica Pics

This delicious concoction is called a Churchill. Don't ask me why. It is crushed ice with a yummy Costa Rican syrup and condensed milk and leche en polvo (powdered milk). I know it sounds weird, but if are ever in Puntarenas, trust me, you have to have one.

This is a picture of the trunk of a tree. Those long branchy things are its roots! They grow outside of the tree.

Gideon reaching up to take a flower off my kooky cousin, Oriana's head. She is actually engaged to be married to a really nice guy, named Jefferson.

More pics to follow.

Reporting from Costa Rica: Part Three

September 15 was Costa Rica Independance Day, a day to celebrate Central America's independance from Spain. The ticos take their freedom very seriously. There are many parades, and school children take a major part. They play instruments and do carnival-type dances in the streets. We were at my grandmother's house in Puntarenas when the festivities were going on. One of the many country-wide celebrations was the gathering of children with "faroles", which is like a paper lantern. They have a parade at night, with these lanterns lit with a candle, and then they have a contest to see who has the best homemade farol. My father took Gideon, my cousin's son Nando (short for Fernando), and yours truly to experience the fun. Most of the kids buy their farol, since I noticed many Dora the Explorer faroles, and Spongebob faroles. Nando prefers a Spider-Man farol. We bought the Gidster a traditional oxcart version.

Gideon seemed to have a good time, but there were several times that he looked super bored. Behold:

We are leaving to go back to Puntarenas today again. This will be an emotional time, since I will be say good-bye to my grandmother. I am really hoping and praying that I will be able to afford to come back every year. When I was younger, we used to come annually, and I would love for Gideon to experience the same.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Reporting from Costa Rica, Part Two

My Abuela Miriam

Most of you know that the reason that I came to Costa Rica was because my grandmother is very ill. My father has been over here for over a month. He has been her main support; taking her to and fro the hospital and doctor's appointments, and staying with her in her home. My dad is a good son, and takes his responsibility toward his mother very seriously. My grandfather has been gone since I was born, and since then my father and his siblings have stepped in to take care of her.

My grandmother's house is in Puntarenas, which is on the Pacific coast side of Costa Rica. The picture above is of her house. There is no air conditioning in the house, but all the rooms have a fan of some kind. The temperature reaches to about 90 degrees on average, although when we were there, it reached over 94 degrees. And talk about humid! My hair did not stand a chance, which is why there are no pictures of me anywhere.

It was definitely different being at my grandmother's house this time. There were two focal points: my grandmother's needs and Gideon's needs. Gideon's needs remained pretty much the same, with the addition of constant sunblock, and insect repellent. His bath time routine changed a bit, since we didn't have a baby bathtub. He ended up taking a bath in the sink where next to the washing machine, the room called "el cuarto de pilas" which translates to the room with the sinks. Every home in Costa Rica has one.

Gideon LOVES bathtime

My grandmother stays pretty much on the couch in the living room. She only eats liquids or purees. Her left arm is almost immobile, so unfortunately, she really couldn't hold Gideon. I really felt that our visit cheered her up. I am so glad we came. Gideon met new cousins and new uncles and aunts. He met my Tio Fili (short for Filiberto) who looks very much like my father. He was really puzzled about him, since he adores my father, yet here is this man who looks like him, yet was not him.

You could be my grandpa....if he wore gold chains.

While we were there, Costa Rican Independance Day took place. We really enjoyed all the festivities, but I will post about that tomorrow.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Reporting from Costa Rica: Part One

I have been in Costa Rica for over a week now, after not visiting in over 5 years. The last time I was here, I was unmarried, and obviously I didn't have an 11 month old baby with me. I wasn't a wife or a mother, I was simply a niece and a granddaughter. I was on vacation, without a care. I could jump into a taxi and be in San Jose, or jump on a bus and go to the beach. I could take a weekend and stay at a resort, or go ziplining through the rainforest. (I have never actually been ziplining, but I can dream).

Oh, how times have changed. I am still a niece and a granddaughter, but I no longer have the freedom to do whatever I wish. I cannot simply go, since you can't simply go anywhere with a giant stroller, a diaper bag and a pack-n-play. Don't get me wrong, I am having a ball introducing my son to my family. He has been a hit wherever he goes, flashing that smile, clapping his hands, and drooling. However, I have to admit, that I kind of miss being the center of attention. I mean, here I am the visting grandaughter/niece/cousin from the States that they haven't seen in forever. I come with gifts from Bath & Body Works.

I am used to being "chiniada" which is Costa Rican for being babied. See the picture above? My grandmother has that picture on her table in living room, along with other pictures of her grandchildren. That is me when I was 2 or 3, and I am pouting because I didn't get my way with something. I kind of miss being the sweet little girl that everyone used to buy gifts for and cook yummy things for, and just love to be around because I was so cute. For those of you that didn't know that I was so self-centered, you know.

But guess who is the center of attention now? Guess who everyone buys gifts for, and makes yummy things to eat for? Guess who everyone likes being around because he is so cute? You guessed it:

I will be posting more soon. I am at my aunt's in San Jose right now. They have internet access, so I am more likely to log on. I have been at my grandmother's house in Puntarenas for a week, and we just got back today. My Abuela Miriam has been very ill, but she perked up when she saw the baby. He broke into this giant smile when he saw her, and I do believe he is speeding up her healing process. I will talk more about it in the next post. We are missing Alex very much, but I am happy that we are here. I feel like we are tying up loose ends.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Missing Them

It's been nearly a week since I sprained my ankle. I have survived on Chef Boyardees, Corn Pops and bagels. Perhaps not the diet of champions, but when you're getting around on crutches, preparing a steak dinner with steamed broccoli is probably not the best idea... not with my cooking skills anyway.

If you don't know the story already, I sprained my ankle while carrying the very last piece of luggage, which happened to be the lightest, to the car. I was going to be Gideon and company's chauffeur to the airport (To learn more about the events of that day, look at the blog post below).

I miss my wife and son... alot!

Alexa and Gideon are living it up in Costa Rica! Actually, they aren't. I know, I know... when you combine sunny Costa Rica with Alexa and Gideon Soto ... all one could think about is... fun! It's natural. I know. We're a funny bunch ... the Soto clan that is.

Well, I'm sure that there are enjoyable moments, but her grandma is very sick. It was determined a few months ago that Alexa should go to Costa Rica because she hasn't gone in a long time ... I think over 5 years. And, with aging grandparents, I felt she should make her way over there just in case. When it came time for her to actually go, it happened to be that her grandma became ill. So, fun in the sun probably doesn't paint the actual picture of what Alexa and Gideon are facing in CR. There are mosquitos, humidity, suddent torrents of rain and denge....don't forget the denge!

I'm sure it's not all that bad, though.

Wow... I really do miss them.

It's too quiet. No screaming, laughing baby. No screaming, laughing wife. Miggy seems irritated lately like an old man so he's not too much fun. I mean, I can hear the sounds of birds with my windows closed.. I think I hear a hawk ... wait ... or is that sound of boredom?

Brief Reflection of 9/11

You know, on that day Alexa and I were together. I was taking her to work. We were just dating, but I had taken the day off ...I believe it was for an interview. But, I cancelled the interview about a week before. The interview might have been in the city but I'm not sure...can't remember. Anyway, I decided to pick her up from her mom's and drive her to work... anything to spend some time together. I remembered how she made me feel safe and comforted, in the midst of the anger and sadness I felt that day.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A Slight Delay
So, we were at my mom's, picking up the luggage and getting ready to go to the airport. Alex was loading up the car, and was down to the last piece, a small carry-on, when all of sudden my mom comes running in yelling: "Alex fell! Alex fell!"(in spanish). Sure enough, my husband had simply stepped on a raised sidewalk, and turned his ankle. He thought it was nothing, but when he went to step on it, the pain shot through to his brain (he says). He fell, and was sure he was going to pass out. When I ran out to see what happened, I selfishly thought: "there goes the flight". But then, the good wife part of me ran to get him an ice pack. We ended up taking him to the hospital, and consequentially, rescheduling the flight.

Alex's foot with an ice pack tied on by my mother. See the pretty bow?

Alex has a sprained ankle. He is on crutches, and has an ankle brace. He still has to work, so he is working on his laptop from the bedroom. I considered going in to work, but he is pretty immobile today, so I kind of have to be at his beck and call. Fun, fun, fun. Luckily, he is pretty immersed in his work, so I just need to bring him the occasional ginger ale, and breakfast, lunch, and Twizzlers.

Alex in his new "workstation".

We will be leaving on Saturday, which according to his discharge papers, is when he should be starting to walk a bit. My MIL will come and take charge and a family friend is taking us to the airport. (Thanks, Frankie)

As I write this, Gideon is in his crib and he has learned to take off the crib sheet. He is sitting on the bare mattress, with the sheet a mess in one corner. He likes the feel of the mattress on his feet.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Play It Again, Sam

While we were dating and in our mid-twenties, Alexa and I would go out almost daily. We attribute our "well-rounded" features to this early part of our relationship. I used to pick her up from work and then we headed to Joe's American Bar and Grill or went to see a movie. Sometimes we would take leisurely walks in the park where I protected her from aggressive geese.

Then she informed me of a trip that required her to leave Jersey. She was going to Disney World with her friends (you know who you are). More importantly, I was stuck in the Garden State without my best friend and love of my life. I was a bit heartbroken and thought for a moment that the time of her return was too far away. We talked on the phone every night for a week.

Now, we live under the same roof. And, the living arrangement of a happily married couple with everyday life challenges is at times something that is taken for granted. I know I'll wake up and she'll be there right beside me.

These days, not only do I know that she'll be there to my right, but I also know that my son, Gideon, is in the next room. All I have to do is get out of the bed, walk quietly into his room and check up on him to know that he is safe. As chief protector of the household, this is important to me.

However, starting Wednesday, it'll just be me and Miggy... like old times for the next 3 weeks. Except, I'll be missing 2 very important people, Alexa and Gideon. I have experience with missing Alexa, but this doesn't get old. Not having her around for even 2 days makes me miss her. But this is the first time I'll be apart from my son for such a long time.

I've taken up extra work to keep me busy. Plus, there are some things I can do around the house. Perhaps, paint the kitchen. Re-arrange the furniture maybe. What else....hmmmm....I can clean up the attic. Have a garage sale. Or maybe I can walk to White Manna in Hackensack everyday and drown my sorrows with their delicious burgers. I'll call it the White Manna diet. It is a considerable walk so I would probably lose some weight.

Or perhaps, I can replay the "Play it again, Sam" scene from Casablanca (though I think the phrase is actually a misquote....are there any movie buffs out there that can tell me the deal?)

Anyway, like in the "Play it again, Sam" scene, I can sit on a stool like Humphrey Bogart perched over the bar in a foggy, dimly-lit room at Joe's American Bar and Grill....wearing a trenchcoat and hat .... sipping on a ginger ale (though I'm sure Bogart wasn't drinking ginger ale) with a long face and contemplating past joys. Then I would tell Sam ... the piano player of course, in a low, melancholic voice "play it again, Sam." And he would commence to play the of Gideon's all time favorites....

"It's the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, come inside it's fun inside. M-I-C-K-E-Y. M-O-U-S-E. That's me!"

I'll miss both of them.

Here are some additional Labor Day 2007 pics.

By the way, Alexa's Grandma (Gideon's Great Grandma) is very ill ... please pray for strength of the Morales clan.