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July 25, 2008

Week 43 | Tugging at My Heartstrings

Ari - Week 43

Grandma Wanda brought Ari to the door to say goodbye when I left for work Wednesday morning, and Ari started to cry as I walked away! I don't think I've ever experienced something so heart-wrenching, especially knowing that it was because of me. It was so hard to go!

Ania and I have talked about this kind of thing, and agreed long ago that we wouldn't prolong goodbyes, nor go back and forth as we leave. We want Arianna to get used to the idea of either of us leaving, and learn that it's not permanent. We think distraction is a good tactic for now, and Grandma Wanda's got plenty of those up her sleeve. It was still really hard to walk away from my sad little baby!

Arianna has started making a "surprise" noise; she sharply draws in breath when she wants to direct our attention or demonstrate that she recognizes something. She must have heard one of us doing it as we tried to direct her attention to something, and now she does it for the same reason. It's really cute! It's also surprisingly gratifying to see her excitement about the fact of recognizing a ball, or any number of other objects. It might appear that she's excited about the ball itself, but I suspect she's more excited about her new-found ability to recognize and identify things.

Ari got to meet "aunt" Dee Dee (my cousin) for the first time. We had some very nice visits, and we're all glad to have her get to know some of our extended family more.

Visiting with aunt Dee Deed

And we all had fun at Cordi's 1st birthday party Saturday. She's generally very social and does really well with lots of people around.

Balloons and balls seem to be Ari's favorite toys. I think she sees balloons as some kind of ball, which makes sense, if you think about it from the perspective of how much context she has for objects. For either one, she says "Bah!" We'd just gotten a new (helium-filled) balloon for her, and when she was lying on her back, I held it above her so she could catch the string. I let go, and she pulled the balloon down toward her, hand over hand. Where did she learn to do that?

Ari balloon hand over hand

Ari started playing the "fall back game" this week. On weekend mornings, we bring her into bed with us, and she loves to sit up in bed, then give us a knowing look, fall backward, and laugh with glee! I was immediately paranoid this would become some bad habit she'd want to do everywhere, but my hope was that she'd recognize that the bed is soft and safe, and only do it there. It seems she's a smart baby; she only ever does it in bed, so we say "faaaall back" and laugh with her (it's hard not to!) and I stopped stressing. It's so cool to think that our daughter is inventing games to play with us!

Milestones & Metrics

  • Cried when I left for work
  • Surprise noise
  • Started "the fall back game"
  • Stats: 21lbs 11oz (85%), 31" tall (98%), 45.75cm (90%)
  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari Closeups - Week 43

July 18, 2008

Week 42 | Sharing

Ari - Week 42

Arianna spontaneously started to share things with us. In my case, she started by offering me her teething ring. It's very sweet to see, and a pleasant habit for her to get into; I hope it continues! I wonder if she's just mirroring the fact that we give stuff to her...

Now that Ari can eat more "real" food, Ania made some meatballs for her out of ground turkey, vegetables, and breadcrumbs. She got the idea from the food Cordi — the daughter of our neighbors with whom we're going to share a nanny — had one day when her nanny Daysi brought her over for a play date. Aside from good protein, these make excellent, safe finger food when broken up into pieces. Ari loves them! We've been taking her to restaurants more, and she does really well sitting in a high chair.

We held memorial and burial services for my dad this week, and Ari was a model baby in both cases. She was incredibly well-behaved, and her smiling face and happy disposition brought a bit of sunshine to a sad occasion.

Ari says final goodbye to Grandpa Jim

Arianna earned her Certificate of Completion for the Contra Costa Library's Summer Reading Program for Babies that Ania signed her up for, and got a new book as a prize! We chose a "board book" (cardboard pages, which Ari loves to turn — and bite) of favorite nursery rhymes.

Certificate of Completion - Summer Reading Program

She's been making some fun developmental steps this week. She now dances any time there's music, and it's really fun to see. We've always danced her around and danced with her (especially Grandma Wanda), but now she's doing it herself! She's got a whole repertoire of moves too; she'll shake her head, bend her knees, and if she's sitting, she'll twist from side to side with her arms open. It almost seems like different music elicits different moves too...

She's also doing great at identifying objects; she can point to a ball in two separate books, as well as a balloon and a fish. Just a couple weeks ago, she started being able to choose a fish from among several toys.

Milestones & Metrics

  • Starting to share things with us
  • Starting to dance on her own
  • Can identify a ball, a balloon, and a fish in books
  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari Closeups - Week 42

July 15, 2008

Jim Lee: Our Memories

Whether you were there with us in spirit or in person at Dad's memorial service, all of us — Dad included — appreciate all your love, support, and kindness during these last months and days.

Here is the presentation that was displayed at the memorial service. It includes various memories you have shared and that we hold dear about my father.

Here is the front of the chapel at the service, with Dad's urn in the center:

Jim Lee memorial service

July 11, 2008

Lesson from Grandpa Jim: Persevere

One of Dad's favorite and most valuable lessons was to persevere. "If at first you don't succeed", he'd quote (so often it became part of my subconsious), "try, try again." We're already passing this philosophy on to Arianna.

If at first you don't suceed

Week 41 | Bye, Bye, Grandpa Jim

Ari's Grandpa Jim passed away this week. They had a very special bond, and Ari never smiled so quickly or fully for anyone as for her Grandpa Jim. When we brought her over to their house after he'd gone, the first thing she did when she got into the room was look over to where he'd been resting in bed, smiling in anticipation.

It's very rewarding to experience now with Arianna how he felt about me as a baby. I always felt very loved, but now I have a first-hand understanding of where that love comes from. Now I can empathize with it.

Ari & Grandpa Jim

I'm sad that Dad won't get to enjoy loving and being loved by Arianna, but she still remembers and loves him. This is evident even two months later, as I finish writing this entry. When we walk into her room, you can ask, "Where's Grandpa?" and she'll turn and look up at his picture, and the biggest grin will spread across her face. Sometimes, she even starts to laugh. Dad had an uncanny ability to communicate his love, and Arianna basked in it. I'm so glad she's had an infusion of the love that Jene and I got all our lives from him, and that even for the short time they had together, she was able to brighten his spirits and remind him of the love, beauty, and joy he so appreciated in the world.

Dad used to always take Jene and me to Nancy Boyd Park, down the hill from the Montessori school we went to when we were very young. He would tell Ari how he looked forward to taking her there, so we took Lily and Ari there one morning not long after he passed away, in memory of those good times with him.

Nancy Boyd Park

Milestones & Metrics

  • Can pick out fish and ball among toys
  • Had her first pancakes
  • Shows "I'm so tall" by reaching up high with her hands when you ask her "How tall is Arianna?" (This is incredibly adorable!)

July 10, 2008

Jim Lee's Obituary With Online Guest Book

Jim, June 2007

After spending his last weeks enjoying the company of family and friends, Dad passed away peacefully Monday morning. I plan to write about it more here later, but right now, we're trying to make arrangements and spend time with each other and cherish our pleasant memories of him.

I want to post his obituary here now, and mention that the Contra Costa Times has an online guest book where people can share thoughts and memories about him. The guest book will be online for a year, until 9 July 2009.

Here is his obituary:

James ("Jim") Edward Lee, III, devoted husband and father of two, passed away peacefully at home on July 7, 2008. He is survived by his loving wife, Helen, their daughter and son, Jené and James, and two granddaughters, Lily and Arianna. He will be remembered and missed by many more family and friends. A memorial service will be held at Ouimet Brothers Concord Funeral Chapel at 11AM on Sunday, July 13, 2008. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to The American Lung Association.

July 04, 2008

Week 40 | Nine Months Old

Ari - Week 40

It's amazing to think Arianna has been "on the outside" as long as she was gestating. Where did nine months go? I'm trying hard to savor this wonderful time when Arianna is a baby, yet it seems to slip past, almost in defiance of my efforts. One reason I'm spending so much time and effort writing and choosing pictures is to try to connect us as clearly as possible to what it was like and how we felt when look back on the times we've had. Neither words nor pictures can convey the profound sense of joy we feel, but I don't think that's going to do anything but take different forms as we continue to experience the magic of Arianna...

Our sweet baby girl

She continues to be engaged, intrigued, and entertained by her Leap Frog Learn and Groove music table, which encourages her to sit up and kneel, as well as reach and use her hands while maintaining her upright position. Ania was always looking forward to the time when Arianna could play with it, and I see why! We gave one to cousin Lily when she was ready, and she too, really got a lot out of it.

Playing on music table

She's been especially smiley this week, which you can see from the photos we took during our family picnic at Lafayette Reservoir. It's clear that Ari really likes to smile, and more than that, to make us smile. When she flashes a grin at you, you can't help but feel a ray of joy going right to your heart!

Smiley Baby

Ari has started to "dance", and it's adorable! It's mostly bobbing her head at this point, but it's clearly associated with music -- I play reggae on the XM radio that comes with our DirecTV service, and I think the music table is part of it too -- and she seems to get a kick out of it. For her, dancing is yet another reason to smile.

She's also begun to laugh spontaneously, then really start cracking up at herself, which is of course, quite infectious. It's awesome to see her developing a sense of humor!

Arianna always enjoys the swing when we go to the park.

Fun on the swing

And she gets a kick out of her Kindercise class, where she sometimes encounters unexpected challenges.

How do I get out of this?

She had another play date with our neighbor's daughter, baby Cordi and her nanny, Daysi, who will also be taking care of Arianna when grandma Wanda goes home to Poland. Ari and Cordi always seem to have fun together, and the nanny is great with the two of them. We've been having several play dates with both Daysi and Wanda, so Ari has a chance to get used to her new nanny with the comfort and security of her loving grandmother.

play date

This year was Ari's first 4th of July. She's too young to stay up for fireworks, but showed her spirit nonetheless!

Happy 4th of July

Milestones & Metrics

  • Fourth tooth (top right) all the way in
  • Can consistently pick up individual Cheerios and eat them
  • Had pasta for the first time
    Name in pasta
  • Had Chinese food for the first time; Shen Hua, of course!
  • Starting to be comfortable standing, with support
  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari Closeups - Week 40