Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Imagination Running Wild

There's something about kids imaginations that is just mesmorizing. I can sit back and just watch Kaylani play endlessly...and I have. In fact, I've found myself running out the door to work instead of walking leisurely out on time (like this morning) because I got caught up watching her play. And I would totally do it time and time again.

I don't even know why we buy toys for Kaylani (or bring home donated/hand-me-down toys from friends) since she's entertained by the simplest of things. This mornings "toy" was a cup. A simple, hard plastic cup that I got over 10 years ago from a friend at Microsoft (which is completely irrelevant except I think he might possibly be in the spy business now...like Chuck). One second she's pretending to drink normally out of the cup. Next she's holding it over her mouth (and nose) and talking into her new "micro/megaphone." The next its a sock on her bare feet (which she finds hilarious). And lastly its a camera that she can hold as close to her face as possible and say "smile cheese" to while "taking a picture." All that with a cup. And all that within 10, highly entertaining (for both of us), minutes.

Seeing Kaylani play like that just brings me back to a simpler time. A time where everything you touched turned into so much more. A cup was 4 different things, a blanket 5. A box? An uncountable number of things! Those were the easy times. Times when I didn't have to worry about deadlines, income, budgets, social obligations, or to remember to bring my 2 Blackberrys, iPad, and computer with me to NYC (while forgetting an umbrella on a rainy day).

Sometimes I wish I could go back to the easy times. But then I look at Kaylani play and I realize I'm actually in best time after all. And I'm pretty sure its only going to get better, and that's not hard to imagine at all.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Talk her down

See that picture up there? That's me. Early this morning. Very early. Was in Kaylani's room doing a late night visit trying to see what was going on. Here's what went down:

It was around 4am when we first heard her cries come through the monitor. As usual, we laid there listening for the first 5 minutes (which means Mommy was listening while I was still sleeping). After another 5 minutes of her crying while sitting with no slow down in sight, we took action. Its been awhile since we've had to go in Kaylani's room during the middle of the night (between 9mos and a year), so we were a little tentative on diverting from our usual "let her cry for 15 minutes to fall back asleep plan". But since we were at Yin Yin/Yea Yea's house, and she's been a little sicky, I went in. That's when the plan went from "check on her" to "talk her down".

After kneeling beside her and trying to calm her down for a minute (see picture above), we had the following conversation, which can also be found in any expert crisis negotiation handbook:

Me: Kaylani, are you okay?
Kaylani: *wahhhhh*
Me: Kaylani, why are you crying?
Kaylani: *wahhhhh*
Me: Kaylani, are you okay?
K: *wahhhh* yes *sniff sniff*
Me: Why are you crying?
K: *wahhhh*
Me: Are you tired?
K: Yes *sniff sniff*
Me: Do you want to lay down?
K: Yes *sniff sniff* (lays down while keeping her head up)
Me: Do you want Papa to sing for you?
K: Yes *sniff sniff* (head still up)
Me: Good night Kaylani well its time to sleep. Close your...
K: (lifts up a little) I want to wake up Mama
Me: No sweetie, Mama is sleeping
K: I want to wake up Yin Yin
Me: No sweetie, Yin Yin is sleeping
K: I want to wake up Yea Yea
Me; No sweetie, Yea Yea is sleeping. Do you want Papa to sing to you?
K: Yes (lays down a little again...head still up)
Me: Close your eyes don't make a peep. Rest your head and drift away. Tomorrow it will be time to play
K: I want to play with Yin Yin and Yea Yea
Me: You need to sleep Kaylani so you have energy to play tomorrow. Close your eyes and sleep. We'll play with Yin Yin and Yea Yea when you wake up tomorrow.
K: *wahhhhhh* Okay
Me: Put your head down and close your eyes
K: (puts head down) Okay
Me: Good night baby. I love you.
K: *wahhhh* *sniff sniff*
Me: (backing out of room) Good night Kaylani. Go to sleep. I love you!
K: *sniff sniff whine whine* zzzzzzzz

And that was that. Then I had to talk Mama back to sleep (and get her some crackers to hold over her hunger) before I could finally sleep myself. 2 hours later, we were up for the day. And so began another day in the life of "Papa: Expert Mid-Night Negotiator Extraordinaire!" Until next time...which hopefully will not be tonight.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An Attitude to Learn

There are pros and cons to finding a new job, both of which I've experienced over the past month as I transitioned from Johnson & Johnson to Catalent. The pros are things like not being unemployed, supporting my family, and moving up in my career, all of which are summed up by Kaylani as "Papa go to work to make money yes" (still not sure why she adds "Yes" to most statements, but that's besides the point). The cons are things like starting over, a longer commute, and most recently, finding a new daycare/school for Kaylani.

For the past 6 months, Kaylani was happily enrolled at Bright Horizons which was part of my campus at J&J. And despite my (and Kaylani's teachers) pleas, there was no way to keep her there once I left (legally). So off we went to explore new schools, and in doing so, learned a lot ourselves.

Most importantly for us was a school that would not just watch Kaylani, but also socialize and teach her something each day...at a reasonable cost and within a reasonable commute. The last parts excluded a portion of the area schools for now, so we were focusing on the socialization and the teaching bit for the most part. While I can't say our search was exhaustive, we checked out 4 new schools within 15 minutes of home, or as Kaylani says it: "Kaylani check out NEW school" (not sure why she emphasizes NEW, but she does).

Out of the 4 schools, it came down to 2 real choices. The other 2 were too depressing to even go into detail about. Whether it was a lack of color inside, or depressing teachers, or small spaces, they were just not an option within minutes of seeing the place. Thankfully the other 2 were both good enough to save Kaylani from spending 4 hours at a depressing center for 3 days a week.

Besides the bright, happy environment/people, we paid attention to the lessons that were going to be taught, and there was one thing that one of the Directors said to me that really stuck in my head. She said that they try and teach with "positive redirection" when toddler/twaddlers/preschoolers seemingly have a little bit of an attitude. Not only did the "positive redirection" thing sound catchy (and like the name of a team on Glee), it also stuck because the whole attitude thing is precisely what we go through every day with Kaylani. In short, "positive redirection" is saying "you can play if you finish your food" instead of "if you don't finish your food, you can't play." At least that's how I interpreted the one example we were given. And by interpreted, I mean wrote here word for word as it was explained to me.

Anyways, since she learned to talk, we hear "no" almost every other minute. As she got better, it became "no mama/papa" or "no I do it." And, it then grew into "no I don't like it" or "no I don't want that" or "no you take that spoonful of food and shove it up your..." (ok that last one hasn't happened...yet). Basically, she's become an independent, stubborn (at times) girl all before the age of 23 months...which is what I feared from her at age 2 or ideally 3 and beyond (read: wayyy beyond).

Kaylani starts school on October 4th, and we couldn't be happier because this "positive redirection" hasn't worked so much for us the first couple of times we've tried it. Our attempts at "Kaylani, you can play if you finish your dinner" are still met with "no I don't like it. I don't want it" and the plate/spoon/hand being pushed away as she simultaneously buries her head into her chest/arm and does a fake cry/whine. Plus, its much easier to say "Kaylani, butt on the chair now" then it is to say "Kaylani, you can stand on the chair if you finish your dinner...but even then you can't stand on the chair because its dangerous and you'll fall down."

Ok, so I probably don't really know how this whole "positive redirection" thing is actually supposed to be done, but I do know the school does. Hopefully they'll be teach all of us soon because right now, Papa no like it!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Imagine if...

You ever wonder what life would have been like if things were different? What could have been if you had just (insert regret here)? Or maybe you sit back and dream about what might be in the future? Lay there and imagine the infinite possibilities of what's to come? Well lately I've been doing both.

I haven't posted a single thing since 2009...which for those of you counting, is over 9 months ago. And before that, I logged a grand total of 39 posts between September to December, which is about 300 posts less than I did over the previous year. Pretty sad, and now looking back, I wonder what could have been. What would I have written on Kaylani's first day(s) of daycare? What about her first day at gym class, music class, or Sesame Place? The first wedding she attended? Her road trips to Boston, NYC, Philly, to the beach, or her trips to Puerto Rico and Beijing with her cousins? Or what about the first (and only) time she used the potty, or when she started talking in full sentences? Or when she started counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 6? Or maybe when she decided to change it to 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 instead?

All of these things and so much more happened in the last year and none of them were documented. Sure we've got pictures of all of these things, but after looking back at what this used to be, pictures just don't compare to a good old fashioned story telling blog.

So here we are, almost a year since my last "real" post. Kaylani is 6 weeks away from turning 2 years old, Daddy is 4 days away from starting a brand new job, and we're up to 4 people who have asked what happened to "The Daddy Diaries." I could give a million excuses on what went wrong (crazy job, lack of time, writers block, etc), but instead, I'll vow to pick things back up. I'm going back to the basics. Back to writing from the heart and about the things we're going through with Kaylani. Back to writing for Kaylani's sake, instead of for writings sake.

This blog was supposed to give us something to look back on and smile as we saw where we've come from and how we got to where we are. So that's what we're gonna do. You can just imagine what that's gonna be like.