Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Phone Conversation

Kai and I are at my parents' house this week while Eric is back in Oakland continuing the bathroom remodel (because I will live through a lot of construction, but the idea of being in a house without a toilet was more than I could bear). So, we're calling him on the phone every night to say hello, and Kai seems to have finally gotten the whole concept of the telephone down.

I say "finally" because, since September, I have been traveling nearly every week for work. Most of those trips involve a night away. Sometimes two. When I call to talk to Kai, she'll shout, "HI MAMA" into the phone. But, beyond that, she would not say much and after a minute or two, would start hitting the buttons, forcing me to listen to "beep, beep, beep."

This week, however, she has been different with the phone. Last night, she had this conversation with Eric (of course, I could only hear what she was saying, so all the quotes are Kai talking):




"I got new shoes" (of course, her pronunciation is not that clear... although, I cannot think how to type it to capture what it actually sounded like she said)

"I got new shoes. Brown shoes. From nonny" (hence the repetition, I believe)


"I'm not eating dinner. I threw it on the floor. I got a time out."


"I didn't eat it. I'm not being good."



"Miss you too"

"I love you too, Dada"

And that was actually a fairly accurate description of her day. She had gotten new shoes, and endured about 5 hours of shopping where she was REALLY good (she forgot to tell Eric that part). We fed her right as we were leaving the outlet stores, because it was a long drive home and she was hungry. So, she wasn't that hungry for dinner and she did, indeed, refuse to eat her foot and threw some of it on the floor, resulting in a time out.

We've been "talking of the day" for months now -- meaning, when we put her to bed at night, after we read stories, we "talk about our day". We tell her everything that happened that she was involved in, and tell her what she did that was really good (ie, "you were really good at sharing with Ava today and we heard that you gave her the book you were reading so that she could read it too" OR "you were great at the stores today and waited really patiently while mama tried on clothes"). It sounds cheesy, but Kai LOVES to "talk of the day". She likes hearing about all the things we just did, and she loves the highlights when we tell her what she did that was really special.

But, until this week, she hasn't done much of the recounting herself. It was interesting that she chose to focus on what she didn't do very well while talking with Eric. When we talk of the day, we'll mention time outs or other transgressions among the list of things that happened, but it's not really a focus. Of course, the time out had JUST happened when she talked to Eric, so was probably fresh in her mind.

It is so neat to listen to her talk about herself and the world around her. I must start writing more (and taking more videos) to capture all her new thoughts. Maybe now is a good time to reinstate my weekly interviews (one can hope, but I'm not promising...)

Monday, November 29, 2010


We're deep into the bathroom remodel. Finally! Didn't I say last year at this time that we were going to be doing the bathroom? Well, we didn't. Mostly because I kept resisting. I just was not ready to live in a construction zone again. That and we decided to focus on the decks instead because we thought it would be nice to have more outdoor space to play. But, the time has come. We have officially started the bathroom project -- meaning the walls are down. There is no turning back.

I'll post pictures one of these days, but it's like a mini version of the kitchen remodel. I say mini because, as you may recall, the kitchen project really took over the whole house. It was a kitchen/bedroom remodel and there wasn't really anywhere you could be in the house without being in the middle of construction debris. That's not true this time. Kai's room has been completely overtaken with the construction tools, but that leaves our bedroom, the living room and the kitchen that are not really impacted by the remodeling project.

Kailey is quite interested in the construction work. She likes to hang out in the bathroom and "watch daddy" or, even better, she'll tell me that she's "busy HELPING daddy." Yeah, right. What she really means is that she is getting into things that she shouldn't be getting into. Like razors. Yes, razors. She cut her finger on a razor that we didn't put away. It bled. A lot. It's better now, but it was quite an owie for a few days.

Yesterday morning she woke up and was examining Eric's hands which are covered in owies and bandaids and she declared, "OHHHHHH... OWIE dada!!... Did you touch a razor?" It was hysterical.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

When Life Hands You Chicken...

Kailey was quite hungry this evening on account of the fact that we forgot to feed her lunch. We flunked the day, clearly. We were busy looking at bathtubs for the remodel project we're embarking on (yes, another remodel. It doesn't end. But, a bathtub will be sooo nice. As will a new paint color in the bathroom. And a new vanity. And a skylight. Anyway, I digress). Anyway, we forgot about lunch, so this evening when I started to cook dinner Kai came up to me and said, "I'm HUNGRY, Mama!" Guilt.

She didn't dwell on her hunger for too long, though. Instead, she proceeded to get out all her plastic bowls, set them up in the bedroom, and grabbed Eric by the pants and said, "Dada!! Come HERE! Tea time!! Have some tea? What kind?" As she offered him a bowl of "mint tea." Keep in mind -- we don't drink tea. Ever. We don't even have any in the house. I don't know where she got this idea of a tea party. Is it the gender? All I know is she played tea/restaurant until we finally had our own meal ready.

I made chicken for dinner. Kailey helped. We whipped up a marinade off my favorite blog that had lime, olive oil, garlic, cumin, cayenne, and honey. It was good. A little tart, a little bit of a kick. We also had seasoned (read - slightly spicy) sweet potato fries and broccolini.

So, given the choice of chicken with a bit of spice, fries with a bit of spice, or broccolini... and keeping in mind that Kai was basically starved... what do you think she ate? Well, the mayonnaise (which was the dipping sauce for the fries), of course. That goes without saying. She's my daughter. But, after the mayo... the broccolini. Lots of it. Because, when life hands you spicy(ish) chicken, you should definitely eat the green stuff. I'm not really complaining. She ate the veggies! But, still, talk about your aversion to spices!

In other funny Kailey stories... earlier in the day, Eric was poking around (literally) in the bathroom with a hacksaw and a drill and other things that put holes in walls. Kailey wasn't really supposed to be in the bathroom, but I was busy trying to do something on the computer and wasn't really keeping that close of tabs on her. I heard her open the bathroom door and yelled after her, "Kailey... get out of there. Come here." No answer. I heard Eric say, "what are you doing, Kailey?" No answer. I said again, "Kai... now. Come here. Now." Kailey, in her very best imitation of me, said, "I'm busy watching daddy." She even managed to get her voice to go up at the "busy" with that note of irritation that I use when I have explained to her what i am doing a zillion times and she asks, again, "doing, mama?" I tried not to laugh while shouting back, "Kailey, no. Not watching Daddy. Come here." Kailey replied, again in a spot on imitation of me, "In a minute." I think I say, "in a minute" to Kailey a dozen times a day, so she definitely has heard it enough to imitate it. But, still, it was a bit unnerving how MUCH she sounded like me. Slightly annoyed. Trying her patience. Clearly not planning on moving any time in the next minute or two. The kid is good. We're in trouble.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Capturing Two and a Half

So, I haven't been writing many updates lately. This is partly due to a lack of time. My job has gotten a bit insane and has me traveling nearly every week and trying to squeeze in my actual work (every meeting results in an additional to do list, but the number of meetings keeps me from ever getting to said to do list... it's a vicious cycle). And part of it is because I used to write during Kai's naps on my days with Kailey (especially the weekends) and now Kai doesn't really nap on her days with us. She still naps at school, which is infinitely annoying for us because it means she stays up until 9:30 or 10 at night, which is the other time I used to write (post bedtime).

But, none of that is really why I have posted so much less frequently. There is just too much to say and not enough ways to say it. Kai has hit that age where she is pure fun. She can carry on a conversation that has us cracking up half the time. She is full of cuddles and hugs and kisses. She now likes to give us "massages", demanding that we put our "head down" and then she squeezes our shoulders for about a second and yells, "head up! all done!"

She is so excited to show us her art projects when we pick her up from school and lately has been doing a lot of drawing of lines. She'll fill up a paper with a bunch of lines, rather than the swirls and circles of her previous efforts. The other night, after she had filled a page with her lines, Eric asked her "what did you draw?" and Kailey looked at him as though it were obvious and said, "LETTERS!" Kailey loves letters and now that she knows her letters she is determined to learn how to write them. She gets that a lot of letters are a series of lines, but can't quite figure out how to connect them up. But, in usual Kai-style, she is going to keep at it until she gets it right.

She's decided she likes "nastics" more than soccer, even though she twisted her knee last week when she dropped from the trapeze into the foam pit. It was terrifying, but she seems to be fully recovered and spent many evenings reenacting the injury with her sock monkey, who would go "upside down" and then fall and "need ice" for his knee.

Our days our little moments like these, that are so hard to capture. And yet, I wish I was better at remembering them all and writing them all down because I know I won't remember these little conversations for very long. In many ways I wish I could just bottle two-and-a-half. Instead, I'm barely capturing it -- but, I am enjoying it. Immensely.

Kailey's Job

Yesterday, Kai and I dropped Eric off at the train and were driving back home having this conversation:

Kai: Kailey on train

Me: Later. We have to eat first. Daddy went to work and we'll go on the train later.

Kai: Kailey work.

Me: Oh really? What is your job?

Kai: Ummmmm.... ummmmmm... ummmmmmm.... COOKING!

Me: You're a cook? Where do you cook?

Kai: (I was watching her in the rear view mirror and could see her scrunch up her face - which would have been an eye roll if she were just a bit older and she yelled) WORK

Duh. She cooks at work. OF course.

Me: what do you cook?

Kai: Noodles!

(of course. This is all Kai wants to eat lately. Noodles. She asks for noodles at every meal. Luckily, she isn't really that insistent and still is pretty good at eating at least some of most of the things we put in front of her. But, man, she can really pack away the noodles).

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Recap 2010

As I mentioned a few posts back, Kailey has been eagerly anticipating the arrival of Halloween (even though I doubt she really understood what it was she was so excited about). She knew there would be costumes. And candy. I suppose that's all one really needs to know about the day.

About a week before Halloween, Kai decided to be a bee instead of a monkey. We had inherited a monkey costume from Penny and then, at a playdate at Ava's house the Sunday before Halloween, Ava gave us her bee costume from the prior year. As soon as she saw the bumblebee, she was sold. Kai is both monkey (with her mad climbing skills) and bee (with her busy little personality), so she really couldn't go wrong. I just found it amusing that she has such a preference about things like costumes -- at 2!

Anyway, I think Halloween fully lived up to her expectations. We had a full weekend of festivities. To kick it off, Kai and I headed down to the Montclair Halloween Parade, which consisted of a fire truck, followed by a marching band, and then all the spectators just joined in behind the band and walked the few blocks that make up the Montclair village.

After the parade, we headed to her school/daycare for a rare Friday afternoon appearance in order to join in on the annual Halloween party (how incredible is Kai's daycare? Lauren organizes her neighbors to be home at about 4:30 so the kids can go trick-or-treating and even provides them with the candy to hand out so that she knows exactly what each kid gets. I am in constant amazement with how incredibly fortunate we have been with Kailey's caregivers. First we lucked out with Doug. And now Home Away from Home. I hope we continue to be so lucky with Kai's caregivers in the future!)

Kailey LOVED trick-or-treating with her friends from school. Ava was a little hesitant at first, but she and Kai buddied up, holding hands most of the time and running from house to house. Kailey was being a total goof-ball, dancing around, singing songs, jumping up and down. When we got to the first house, she was the first kid up the steps (does this surprise me? No, it does not) and when the door was opened, she marched right inside, declaring "trick or treating!" (perhaps more trick than treat!). We explained to her that she didn't need to go inside the house, although, I think she was skeptical.

When the kids got back to Lauren's after their trick-or-treating, they posed for a group shot (also, genius to pose for the group shot AFTER trick-or-treating, since the kids actually sat for a moment for the pictures because they were distracted by their newfound loot!)

Kai was the first to abandon the picture taking, because she wanted me to help her open her M&Ms.

Kailey doesn't really know what M&Ms are, of course. After I opened them for her, she popped one in her mouth and then promptly spit it out, looking at me in disgust and declaring, "it's CHOCOLATE mommy!" Too bad Kai had to inherit my dislike of chocolate, and with it a lifetime of not getting to enjoy the supposed upside of holidays (of course, with it comes the ability to bribe just about anyone with the chocolate you are willing to hoard after said holiday). Kai abandoned the M&Ms in favor of a fruit roll-up. A model child!

Once everyone had consumed some candy, the kids entertained us with some songs.

It was the cutest party I think I've ever been too.

On Saturday, we made Halloween cookies with Penny, Sarah and Max. Penny and Kailey loved decorating the cookies. And I discovered that I don't really know how to make cookies, even if they are the sort of cookies that are already made for you and all you have to do is open the packet and put them on a cookie sheet. Maybe this is because we don't actually have a cookie sheet? And I don't seem to understand measurements, so when the instructions said to space the cookies out by 1", I took it to mean that they could be right next to each other. It was like a thin cookie cake with a LOT of sprinkles. But, hey! It was fun!

Sunday Kailey spent the day in her costume. We went to a Halloween party at our friend Amy's house, and then went trick-or-treating. By this time, Kai was an old pro at trick or treating. Well, maybe a semi-pro. She would march right up to each house, all by herself, and start pounding on the door while yelling, "TRICK OR TREATING". When the door opened, Kai would hold out her bag and say, "Thank you!" before any candy was deposited in the bag. But, whatever, she had the basic concept down. After each house, Kai would turn around to head back down the stairs shouting, "NEXT HOUSE!"

As we were driving back home after trick-or-treating, Kai pulled out a pack of M&Ms and asked me to open it for her. I told her it was chocolate and that she didn't like chocolate (and she had heard me tell the story about the M&Ms at school to about 4 people since she had spit out her chocolate a few days before). Kai declared indignantly, "I LIKE chocolate NOW, Mama!" Ahhh rebellion. So we gave her an M&M. To her credit, she managed to swallow it, although it was clear from her expression that she wasn't really enjoying. She did say, "mmmmmm," as she chewed it up(although, not very convincingly), But, what really gave her away was that as soon as she managed to eat that single M&M, she declared - "now a LOLLY POP" rather than finishing the pack. A good effort, but I think that Kai is wrong that she likes chocolate now!

Today, when I picked Kailey up from school, she wasn't really ready for the fun to be over. I asked her, as we were headed to the car, if she wanted spaghetti for dinner (Kai's favorite food... seriously, she can eat more spaghetti at a sitting than I can). Kailey replied, "No. I want more trick or treating again!" I told her we could do that next year.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Given that Kai has literally been climbing walls since before she could walk, we've spent a good bit of time looking for a good gymnastics class for her. We have tried three, and all of them were OK. Nothing great. She liked them, but she was also frustrated by them. The real problem being that they didn't really let the toddlers do that much. They got to run around, which Kailey loves, but they didn't get to go on the beam, or the trampolines, or any of the really fun stuff.

Finally, we've found a class that suits Kai. She can jump in the foam pit and on the trampolines. They let her on the beam and the climbing equipment. She still gets to run around and do circle time. And, she has a coach she ADORES (one might call it her first little crush). Whenever Coach Jordan sits down to explain something to the kids, Kai sits riiigghhhttt next to him. And during circle time, she sits next to him and looks at us and tells us to "move". And, with the help of Coach Jordan, Kai is now doing the circuits that involve her going upside down (an assisted back bend), which really freaked Kai out the first couple of classes, but now she is a pro.

These videos don't really do the class justice (because they don't capture Kai doing any of the really fun stuff), but they do show what an awesome time she has in this class. And they're super cute.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Lately, Kailey and I have been hiking to the playground. She rides in the backpack and we go the long way round. And as we hike along, we sing ABCs, "twinkle, twinkle" and we talk. It is really fun - and as Kai's observations and communication skills continue to develop, the walks get even more fun. Unfortunately, since the days are getting shorter, we are only really able to do our walks on the Fridays I am home with Kai or on the weekends.

Anyway, one evening, about 2 weeks ago, we saw a couple of boys playing with a ball outside their house. Tonight, when we passed that same house and Kailey said, "BOYS playing... nee" (she still says "nee" for "there). It's so funny that she remembers that. But, at the time, she REALLY wanted to stop and play with the boys. After all, they had a BALL and she still really loves playing ball.

We walked further along and saw some kids in a wagon. I asked Kailey if she liked the wagon and she said, "Yes... Kailey's wagon broken." "What? You have a wagon?" I responded. "Yes... Volkswagen. Broken. New One! With Ava. Get IN."

Let me translate: Our volkswagen is broken. It broke at daycare about a week ago. Won't start. We got it home, but it is now just sitting out front. The weekend before it went completely kaput, we went to the Volkswagen dealer (we knew the car was about to go, so we decided to start researching our options). We test drove a car and then found ourselves in negotiations to buy the car (which we didn't do). When we went into the dealership, Ava (from daycare) and her parents were there, buying a car. Ava and Kai had a BLAST jumping in and out of the cars and pretending to drive.

So, when Kai saw the wagon on the street, she related it to the word "Volkswagen" and then recalled our recent adventures with the volkswagen... especially the fun of car shopping. Hence, the "New One! With Ava! Get IN."

Then we got to the playground, which is the same park where we had her first birthday party. It is adjacent to the school, and we entered from the schoolyard, which has it's own playground that is behind a chain link fence that is usually locked (at least during the days and times that we are passing through). Kai always wants to go to the locked playground, and we always tell her it isn't open, but that there is another playground next door just as good. Well, today, the gate was open, and Kai immediately started shouting, "MAMA IT'S OPPPENNNNNN!!"

On the way home, Kai said, "Ava Happy Day Day coming." Ava's birthday party is this weekend, and we're going to it, although, it always amazes me when Kailey remembers these sorts of things. I agreed and asked Kai what we should get Ava for a present. "Candles?" Kailey replied. I told her we needed something other than candles but she insisted, "Ava Happy Day Day... CANDLES. And SINGING. Happy Day Day Ava... Happy Day Day Ava." Kailey broke out in song. I told Kai that Ava probably didn't really want us all singing to her (not really her thing), but Kai went on singing.

It was an amusing walk.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Conversations in the Car

This morning, in the car:

Kailey: Halloween is coming!

[we have no idea how Kailey knows all about Halloween. Must be from school. She has been announcing the upcoming event for a few days now. She seems to know that it is associated with dressing up. The other day while we were on a hike we asked her what she was going to be and she responded, "cat. Black cat." However, since that walk, we went to Old Navy and she saw a monkey costume and now she is going to be a monkey, I am going to be the cat, and Eric is going to be a doggy. She has been insisting on these costumes the last few days.]

Eric: What is Halloween, Kai?

Kailey: Ummmmmm.... moon?

[I am guessing there is a halloween book at her school that has a moon, hence the association]

Angie: Not really....

Kailey (insisting): Halloween ON the moon.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Kai likes tickets. Ride tickets. Parking tickets. She likes machines that spit out tickets. She likes to hold the tickets that we buy.

This last weekend, we were in Home Depot and Kai was a bit antsy. I dug around in the diaper bag and found our admission tickets from the park we were at last weekend (the amusement park) and handed them to her. Kai busied herself looking at the tickets, identifying the numbers and all the pictures (there was a dragon, a sun, some kids).

After about 5 minutes of examining the tickets and chatting to herself, Kai thrust them at me and said, "Mama... money please?"


Kailey has a love-hate relationship with rides. She wants to love them, but until this last weekend, she mostly hated them. Of course, she hadn't tried many. The under 36 inches crowd cannot go on too many rides - other than the merry-go-round and the train.

The first time Kailey rode a train was on her 1st birthday, and she wasn't so sure about it. Since then, she has really warmed up to trains. She is fascinated by the fact that Eric and I take a train to work, and every time we pass the BART station she hollers, "TRAIN... TUNNEL... DARK". Yes, Kailey - that's the train station, and the train goes in the tunnel, where it is, indeed dark. Ever since she has connected trains with us and something we do every day (well, most every day) she is interested in riding them herself and quite enjoys train rides -- whether they be BART trains, zoo trains, or other forms of trains. In fact, tonight, a bus passed us as we were hiking around the neighborhood and Kai yelled, "TRAIN... TUNNEL... DARK." I explained to her it was a bus. She insisted it was a train. I said bus, she said train. I explained that buses go on roads and trains go on tracks. She paused, considering my logic. I pointed to the road and said, "see... road. No tracks. No train. Just a bus. Buses go on roads." She said, "TUNNEL?" I explained that buses and trains go in tunnels, to which she replied... "NOOOOO.... TRAIN!!" As if she has somehow found a flaw in my logic and now I was just being absurd. I let it go.

Anyway, so trains are OK. The merry-go-round has been another thing altogether. Kai wants to love merry-go-rounds. The first time she saw one - when we were in D.C. when she was a year and a half - she was excited about the prospect of riding one of the horses. That is, until she was sitting on the horse and it started moving. Kai started clawing at me and screaming "UP UP UP". I scooped her up and held her as we spun around for the rest of the ride. I figured that was the end of merry-go-rounds for awhile. But, I was wrong. Every time we'd go to the zoo, Kai would explain "RIDES.. ON" as if she were SO EXCITED about the prospect of riding the merry-go-round. But, she was not interested in sitting on any of the animals. Instead, she figured out there are benches, and would happily sit in one of those while we spun around. I didn't really see the point, unless - of course - the point was that she liked it. Which, I guess is point enough. We didn't push it - letting her go on merry-go-rounds and sit on the benches, rather than the animals. And, even though it didn't seem like Kai was getting the full "ride" experience, she would talk about rides with some frequency, insisting (in her way) that she loved rides.

So, a couple of weekends ago we went to a little park that has a bunch of rides that toddlers (even those under 36 inches) can go on. The first ride that you see when you walk in the park is the merry-go-round. Kai was VERY excited to go on the merry-go-round. Eric asked her if she wanted to ride a cat and Kai claimed she did. I didn't believe her, given our past experiences. But, Eric sat her on the cat, explaining it's many virtues, and Kai seemed ready to go. The ride started, and Kai got a look of panic on her face... but, she held on. By her second spin around, she was looking less tentative. By her third, she was smiling. And by the end, she was waving.

We proceeded to the little cars.

And, as with the merry-go-round, she looked a bit nervous on her first ride. But, she got off and wanted to go right back on. The second time, she was steering and honking the horn along with everyone else.

On her third ride, Kai was no longer that interested in the ride and spent the entire time peering over the side trying to figure out how it all worked (I know my Kai... trust me, she was trying to figure out what was making it go. If she could have taken it apart, she would have).

She also rode the flying bugs, which made me nervous. I thought they went too fast and that Kai was going to get completely freaked out. I was wrong. She loved them. It seemed Kai had conquered her fear of rides.

That is, until this weekend. Ever since our time at the amusement park, Kai has been talking about the rides and asking to go to the rides. We promised her we would take her to the zoo, where they have a few rides. And, this last weekend, I kept my promise and off we went. We started with the train, which was all fine and good. Then Kai took off towards the merry-go-round shouting "CAT! CAT!" (her favorite animal from the merry-go-round at the other park). We got on, she got on the cat, the ride started, and.... tears! Kai started yelling, "NO NO" and clawing at me and screaming. I tried to reassure her, but she was unhappy the whole time (although, she held on to the rail and did not insist that I pick her up). When the ride stopped, she clung to me. I asked her if she was scared and she said, "YESssss". I suggested we go see the animals and leave the rides for the day, and off we went. But, at the end of the day, as we were coming out of the zoo, she saw the merry-go-round again and asked to take another ride. I reminded her that she didn't like it earlier in the day, and she insisted that she wanted to go. I still had a ride ticket so I figured, why not? As we were standing in line, I quizzed her, "are you sure you want to go on?" "Yes." "Do you want to sit on a bench?" "No... PANDA." "The panda goes up and down... are you sure?" "Yes. Panda." OK. Fine. So, we got on, I got her on the panda, and scratched the panda's ears and told her what a great panda she had picked. Kai seemed pleased. The ride started and Kai looked a little nervous, but then started laughing. It was an odd laugh. Half terror - half excitement. But, she was holding it together. She even started waving at the people watching towards the end of the ride and yelling, "HI PEOPLE!" I was glad we had gone back and that Kai had conquered her fears... again.

When we got off the ride, I asked her if she had fun. Kai replied, "Panda... FUN! Cat... scarier."


Monday, September 6, 2010

Conversation with Kai

Kai finished her dinner tonight and went running into the kitchen. Eric and I were still eating, and I am not really a fan of Kai playing in the kitchen while we eat (it isn't really child-proofed anymore). So, I yelled after her, and our conversation went something like this:

Me: Kai, what are you doing?

Kai: Playing

Me: What are you playing?

Kai: Circles

Me: What's that?

Kai: (no answer... contemplating answer)

Me: What's circles?

Kai: (no answer)

Me: Kai, are you playing circles?

Kai: YES!

Me: Come show me

Kai: (comes running into the living room and stares at me)

Me: Show me circles

Kai: (starts running in circles. Stops. Looks at me like I'm a moron. Returns to kitchen).

Monday, August 30, 2010

When Life Hands You Lemons (and other things I have learned from my 2 year old)

We are back from Kai's first camping trip, which turned out to also be Kai's first back country adventure in many unanticipated ways. Kai was really excited about going camping. Which, I guess, is lesson #1 (and a lesson I have had a mighty time learning with her). That is, I should STOP telling Kailey about something that we are going to do and get her all worked up about it when that activity isn't immediately imminent. And, I do mean immediately. As in the next 5 minutes. Anyway, in anticipation of camping, Eric had set up the tent on the back deck and Kai was REALLY excited about going camping. Really. That is, until we hit the road and she became convinced that camping meant sitting in the car for all of eternity (aka 4 hours).

Actually, she was great for the first hour in the car. Then she slept for the second two hours. But, man oh man, that final hour was a killer. Kai started whiiinnnnniiiinnnnggggg and we thought we might have to cut our ears off. We finally stopped for a potty break and gave Kai some milk, which bought us about 10 minutes of silence. We were within 15 minutes of our camping spot, on a small one-lane dirt road. A forest service road. A road not easily located on any road map (but readily found on a topographic map). Kai finished her milk, threw down the cup and started hollering and whining and screaming, "OUT! OUT! OUT!". She's a very good chanter. She'll make an excellent protester some day. We tried to distract her. We pointed out the scenery and the chipmunks. She wasn't having it. Instead, she started yelling "PEE PEE". We didn't really fall for the trick. We had just stopped. She clearly just wanted out of the car. She continued to yell. It was nerve rattling. After another five minutes of her hollering, I turned around and noticed that Kai was squeezing her legs together. Hmmm... maybe she wasn't just trying to get out of the car? We decided to stop and let her out to use the potty, even though we were probably only 5 more minutes from the camp spot.

Which brings me to my second lesson learned -- while whining is ANNOYING, it's good to try to discern if the whining is based on any real need. Like the need to go to the potty. Turns out, Kai REALLY needed to pee, and promptly filled up her potty (we brought her little potty chair with us) as soon as she was freed from the car.

Also, it was really, really good we stopped the car. Because that's when we realized that there was a little trail of oil behind our car. Or, not so little. More like a river of oil in our wake.


We were in the middle of NOWHERE and we had managed to hit a pothole just right (or a rock, or something... we don't really know) and puncture our oil pan. Eric looked under the car and confirmed our worst fears.... we needed to get the car to the side of the road, and that's as far as it would be traveling until the oil pan was repaired.

Once the car was out of harm's way, we stared at each other. Now what? We were in the middle of the forest with no cell reception and we were at least a 30 - 45 minute drive to the nearest developed campsite. "Developed" for a campsite, that is. The place had no gas (not that that would have helped). No mechanic. Nothing but a general store, a restaurant, and a pay phone. If we wanted to get to civilization, we would need to travel another 45 minutes to the small town of Sonora, population 4,500. We were screwed.

Meanwhile, Kai was as happy as a clam. We were out of the car and in a forest -- perfect!! She was completely unaware of the steaming vehicle on the side of the road. She was pointing out the trees and the dirt and the rocks. And, actually, I wasn't really panicking at this point. Our situation was undesireable, sure. But, it wasn't life threatening. We had a car full of food, water and camping gear. We were in no immediate trouble. We could stay out here a week if we needed to; although, it would be nice to not have to do that and worry about whether we would ever be rescued.

Luckily, we didn't have to contemplate our options for too long -- a car approached!! - and the driver offered us a ride to the campsite with the phone. So, we left the car on the forest service road and piled into the pick-up truck. Kai and I rode up front (she sat in my lap... no carseat. No seatbelt. I considered whether we were safer just hanging out on the forest service road). Eric, Oscar and the other passenger rode in the back of the truck. It felt like a really long drive.

We finally got to the campground, thanked our rescuers, paid them for the gas we cost them, and said our goodbyes. We now had a general store, a restaurant, our diaper bag, wallets, cell phones and a pay phone. And, that was about it. We started trying to call our insurance carrier, since we have emergency roadside assistance (which we only half thought would provide assistance on roads that were only really quasi-roads, at best). We tried the pay phone, but it didn't work. I think that might be the moment that I decided the universe really had it in for us.

We tried our cells and they did work, but only if we were standing in precisely the right location and did. not. move. We got through to the insurance company, got halfway through explaining our situation, and dropped the call. We tried again. We got back through, and I got to the point where I was trying to explain to the guy where we were and where the car was abandoned. I turned to Eric and, at that moment, Kai wet her pants. She hadn't had an accident in weeks, but, of course, at the crux of our phone call with roadside assistance, she let loose. I handed Eric the phone so he could explain to the guy where we were located (I am directionally challenged in the best of circumstances, and this wasn't that), and so I could go deal with Kai. In the transfer, the call got dropped. I was starting to get irritated at the universe.

No need to belabor the next hour or so that we spent on the phone (which was like a bad television commercial... "can you hear me now?" No, Verizon, we can't. Because, it turns out, your "universal coverage" is far from universal and doesn't actually work in the middle of the forest, contrary to your stupid advertisements). Eventually we had confirmation that a tow truck was on its way.

Which is when we turned to waiting. And waiting. And more waiting. We fed Kai dinner. We took a couple of pictures.

Mostly, we waited. While waiting, we decided Eric would go with the tow truck and Kai and I would remain at the campground until they returned with the car (they had to come back through where we were anyway, and it made more sense for us to remain in "civilization" and not spend more time in the tow truck sans a carseat and then in the middle of the forest after dark as they hooked up the tow). At about 8:45 the tow truck arrived, and Eric took off.

I think that's when Kai decided that this situation called for a party. It was nearly an hour past her bedtime, but she was not even the tiniest bit tired. I tried to convince her that it was bedtime and proceeded to go through our bedtime routine as best I could given the situation. I got her in her PJs, gave her some milk, and attempted to rock her while singing her favorite sleepy time song. But, she wasn't fooled. We were outside. Eric was on a TRUCK. There were cats and raccoons on the porch where we were waiting. There were people all around, music playing, and the smell of camp fire smoke in the air. We were clearly doing something very exciting. Kai started dancing, running up and down the ramp between the general store and the restaurant, signing, jumping, and... as I said... partying (as only a two year old knows how).

I decided I had run out of the bandwidth to deal with a screaming toddler (which is what she was when I tried to hold her and get her to put her head on my shoulder or lap), and so I let her party. I figured she'd wear herself out in no time. One hour turned into two and Kai was still going strong. My plan to sit with a sleeping baby on my lap and contemplate the spitefulness of the universe was clearly foiled. At about a quarter to 11, I decided to take a walk with Kai in the parking lot where it was dark. Kai occupied herself by pointing at the road and shouting, "DADA... TRUCK... COME!!" After about 20 minutes of that, she finally put her head down on my shoulder and fell asleep.

It turns out it had been better to have Kai awake because she provided me with some distraction. Without her causing a ruckus, I started to really worry about the whole mess. I think it might have been at that point that I felt my pocket and realized I had the car key (you know, the car key to the car that was abandoned an hour away on that one-lane, forest service road that I keep talking about?). Crap. And, seriously, universe -- what did I ever do to you?

I started doing the math. I figured it was an hour, maybe hour and a half to drive to the car and back. They had been gone over two hours at this point so, clearly, they had made it to the car and realized they didn't have the key and were able to deal with the situation. Otherwise they would have been back long before now. Then I remembered that tow drivers have the ability to get into locked cars (indeed, I had learned that about a week before, when I had locked my keys in the car... it's been a banner month for our cars... and a tow truck had gotten them out for me). So, I decided to take the fact that the car key was in my pocket off of my list of concerns and go back to worrying about what was taking them so long and how much this whole fiasco was going to cost.

At around midnight they returned. Turns out, our tow driver did not have the certification to get into a locked car. Eric didn't realize that I had the key until they got to our car, and, at that point, didn't want to turn back and add an extra two hours to the "adventure". So, he broke into the car through a window. When Eric told me that, all I could think was, seriously, universe, this is no longer funny. Or, it's so bad that it's hysterical. I couldn't tell which.

We piled into the tow truck and drove the remaining 45 minutes into town, leaving our car at the town's only auto mechanic and trudging across the street to the Best Western. It was about 1 AM. Kai was awake again and had decided that 2 hours was plenty of sleep. She stayed up until about 4. Which is when I decided that the universe had won.

And with that, our long, first day of "camping" ended.

We spent the next two days in the hotel. Which brings me to lesson number three - an oldie but a goodie -- when life hands you lemons, make lemonade (of course, as I read somewhere recently, it helps to also have sugar when making said lemonade. Otherwise you end up with pretty crappy lemonade).

Which, I guess, brings me to lesson number four - and continuing the analogy - toddlers are life's sugar. Or at least a source of it. If Eric and I had been on our own when all of this happened, we would have spent those two days moping around the hotel room bemoaning our lot in life. With Kailey, we played. We swam. We danced. We vacationed. Yes, I dealt with annoying people in sorting out our car troubles, but when I wasn't on the phone, I was playing with Kailey. And she was having a fantastic time. There was a pool RIGHT OUTSIDE our patio door. And, not only did the hotel have a pool, it also had an ICE MACHINE (and, conveniently, we had a cooler in need of ice in our room.... endless hours of fun). AND it had a WATER COOLER in the lobby, and we spent a good deal of time getting cups of water to drink. And let's not forget about the buttons on the microwave. And the crappy restaurant with the CRAYONS. As far as Kai was concerned, we were on the best vacation ever.

After two days at the hotel, we had sorted out the logistics of our situation. The car would not be ready until Monday at the earliest. It was Thursday. We decided to rent a car and head back to our camping destination (which made me worry in a completely superstitious kind of way... the universe had seemed mighty mad last time we went out there... were we tempting fate?) It turns out, the universe either doesn't stay mad or doesn't really control our destinies. In any event, the road that did us in our first time around turned out to be a completely manageable road. We had, truly, gotten incredibly unlucky during our initial journey. We had no trouble getting to our destination when we went back for another try.

And, once we were finally settled at camp (three days late), we had a fantastic time. We salvaged our trip and spent the next three days swimming, fishing, playing in the sand, hiking, and exploring. Kai loved every minute of it. In fact, I don't think she really threw a tantrum the whole time we were camping (which is saying something given that she's two and prone to at least one tantrum a day). We forgot about our car and the fact that, given the car repair, hotel and rental car, this camping trip was costing us about as much as renting the luxury vacation house in Tahoe cost us a few years back (yeah, turns out I remembered that neat little factoid once we got back to real life). But, what I'm trying to say is that we had fun.

And our car eventually got fixed. And all is well now. It may not have been the first camping trip we envisioned taking Kailey on, but it is one we will not soon forget. And, with that, I leave you a little happy day day:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


For months now, Kai has been singing, "A B C". As in, "A B C... A B C... A B C... next A B C." She knows her letters. She has for some time. She can name and identify all letters and put them into her alphabet puzzle (in any order - just hand her a letter, she knows where it goes) in record time. But, that song? We never got past C.

I think she's been practicing in her head for months, though. Because, this week, she broke out the full song. Not just A B C ... D. No, that's not her style. She didn't add one letter. She added about 20 letters (yes, I know 20 plus 3 is not 26. I also know there are 26 letters in the alphabet. But, Kai selectively added about 20 letters, choosing to omit the E, R and to sort of stringing together LMNO into twoish letters, as most kids are wont to do).

Anyway, now Kai is all about her ABCs, and I think this song may have replaced "Happy Day Day" as her go to song.

So, without further ado... Kai's latest and greatest song:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Matter of Fact

I love this little 10 second video of Kailey, which says so much about the child that she is:

First, it says she knows the rules. Drawing on the bed is a big NOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooo. An emphatic NOOOOOOoooooooooooo. She gets it. At least, she knows the right answer.

But, when asked if she, in fact, drew on the bed.... That nod - so matter of fact - followed by that LOOK in her eye as she says, "I did." It's not really defiant (which wouldn't be a good word to describe Kai). No, defiance is not it. It's something much more matter of fact. It's completely unapologetic. And, somehow completely self-assured. It just IS. It says, "No, she isn't supposed to draw on the bed. But, yes, yes she DID do it." And there it is. And then she moves on.

I remember as a teen telling my parents that I could either lie to them and do what I wanted, or tell the truth and do what I wanted. It was their choice. I didn't have a moral qualm about lying -- as long as I had provided them with an option and felt like they were complicit in my lying by not trusting me to let me do what I wanted to do without lying. It wasn't that I wanted to get away with something. I was perfectly willing to tell the truth, just as long as I still got my way. I knew the rules. I just didn't really think they applied to me.

Karma, anyone?

Every time I watch this video I crack up. I find the expression on her face and her attitude so charming and hysterically funny. But, a little voice in the back of my head keeps whispering to me about things to come... all this attitude and assurance is funny on your two year old. But, those teen years might be a bit less amusing.

Hey, mom? Dad? Sorry about all the trouble as a teenager!! (maybe that will buy me a few karma credits, don't you think?)

Thursday, August 12, 2010


It's hard watching your two year old get rejected. Kai is a very forward kid. As her daycare providers say, with Kai, what you see is what you get. She is not shy (obviously). She's very eager and she gets really excited, particularly when her favorite people or activities are involved. One of Kai's favorite people (and if you've watched any of the videos posted of Kai in the last four months you already know this) is Ava from daycare. Kailey LOVES Ava. They read books together, ride trikes together, and push each other on the swings. They are good little buddies. But, they are very different personalities. Ava is reserved and shy and takes a little time to warm up to a new situation. She is introspective and observant and will master a new skill just by observing other children involved in the task. She is the yin to Kai's yang, and I love the friendship they have, which is even more remarkable considering they are both only two.

Ava hasn't been at daycare the last couple of weeks, but Kai has continued to talk about her as if she has been there along, or as if mentioning her frequently will somehow compel her to return. And, this morning, when I dropped Kailey off, who comes in behind us, but Ava and her daddy!! Kailey nearly fell over herself with excitement. She started shrieking and laughing, spinning in circles, jumping up and down. After spinning around like a whirling dervish for a minute, she ran over to Ava to try to give her a big hug.

Not surprisingly, all of Kai's enthusiasm completely freaked Ava out. Ava tends to take a bit of time to adjust to the drop off even during weeks where she has been coming to school consistently, but this was her first day back in quite awhile, and she was simply not ready for Kai. She burst into tears. Kailey's eyes got wide and she pointed at Ava and said, "Ava, boo boo?" Ava swatted her away. Kailey tried again (not one to pick up on social queues or to be easily deterred). Ava swatted again. Kai was clearly confused. The whole thing was so heartbreaking, as I watched both girls trying to navigate complex emotions that neither of them has the capacity to understand yet. Kai didn't understand why her favorite friend at school wasn't as excited as she was to be back. And Ava was overwhelmed, by being back and being affronted by Kailey within seconds of stepping into the living room. I could see Kai taking it in, trying to process what was going on and the fact that sometimes the people around you feel things very different from the emotions you are feeling. Such a hard concept to grasp.

I know that by the time I got half way down the street, Ava and Kai were likely head-to-head on the floor reading their books happily. Obviously their encounter this morning was not representative of some larger falling out. Nor does it compare to the sorts of rejection that Kai will experience many times in her life, to greater and lesser degrees, as she continues to make her way in this world. She will learn to navigate these rejections, and some will take much longer than a moment or two to bounce back from.

And, even though it is hard as a parent to watch your child deal with any sort of rejection, I think that I needn't worry too much about Kai. Indeed, if this video is any indication, Kai will just be her own best pal when others are less interested in her advances.

(this was Kai's attempt at gaining the attention of a few teenagers who were sitting in the amphitheater at the zoo. My favorite part is when Kai decides to just clap for herself, since the teens were clearly not going to break into applause anytime soon)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

She's a Big Girl Now!

Notice any themes of my posts lately? Maybe that's using the term "lately" quite loosely -- I feel like all I ever blog about with respect to Kai is how incredibly independent she insists on being. But, that is her theme, and so it is my theme. Here are a few blurbs about our week:

- Kai is more or less potty trained. I think she's had one accident in the last 5 days. She's been diaper free for nearly two weeks. And, at daycare, they say they no longer even remind her to go use the potty -- she is on it.

-- And, with potty training, comes putting on her own clothes (and, of course, picking out her own clothes, which she has been doing for awhile and leads to some strange combinations... but, I don't feel like fighting the clothing war with her). Kai often gets stuck by putting both legs in the same leghole of her underpants or pants, but, she realizes her error and fixes it. The other day, Kai had her pants on and was struggling to button them. She doesn't really know how to button, but she also doesn't really know her own limitations. So, she was struggling in her usual manner (that is, she was doggedly focusing on the task at hand, and resisting all attempts to help her by yelling "NO MINE"). After letting her try to button them for about 5 minutes, I finally just did it myself. Predictably, that didn't go over well. Kai completely broke down. I tried to distract her by reminding her that Oscar needed to be fed. Kai snapped out of it (she loves feeding Oscar) and ran into the kitchen to feed Oscar. I went about other tasks. A few minutes later, Eric walks into the kitchen and says, "was there an issue with her pants this morning?" Ummm... yes. Why do you ask? "She's in the living room with her pants unbuttoned muttering 'I'll do it' under her breath." Eric responds. And, indeed, in usual Kailey style, once she finished her Oscar feeding, she escaped to the living room, unbuttoned her pants, and set about trying to - once again - figure out how to button them herself. I cannot tell you how many times lately we hear the phrase, "I DO IT" (often followed, rather triumphantly with, "I DID IT!").

-- Kai hasn't taken a bath in weeks. No, we aren't allowing her to run around feral, offending the other children at daycare with a ripe smell. Kai now takes showers (or "shau-Ds", as she calls them). Kailey loves showers. And, for awhile there, was taking a shau-D twice a day. She doesn't love to wash her hair in the shower (but she doesn't like that in the bath either). So, I guess we took too long building a new bathroom for her so that she could have a proper bathtub. She's already beyond baths (although, she would probably still like a bathtub... more like swimming!)

-- Kai slept in her own bed last night. Well, that's not really that amazing. Kai starts every night in her own bed, and comes to our bed at about midnight. This has been going on for a long time (maybe a year?). I love co-sleeping and firmly believe it fosters Kai's independence (do I want to foster that? kidding!) and good-nature. And, I love snuggling with her during the night and in the morning. It's one of the few times Kai is not on the go - and it's really sweet to spend that time with her. So, we haven't pushed her too hard on staying in her own bed. But, we've moved in that direction incrementally. Recently, I bought a new nightlight/clock that you can program to switch from yellow to green at a specified hour. So, at the moment, it switches to green at midnight, and Kai knows that once it becomes green, she can come to our room (well, she knows that in theory. We still let her come into our room whenever she wants to... but we discuss the color of the light and have told her that waiting for a green light is the general idea. As I said, we are moving INCREMENTALLY towards solo sleeping). My plan is to slowly ease the time back, until she is staying in her room until morning. Well, that was my plan until last night. Last night, Kai came into our bed at about midnight, as usual. And then, at about 1:30 in the morning, started tossing and turning and kicking me. Not cool. Not cuddly. I told her to stop kicking. She kicked some more. I told her if she was going to kick, she had to go in her own bed. Kai's response?! "OWN BED" - as though I set a lightbulb off over her head. She jumped right up, got out of our bed, marched into her room, crawled into her bed, and went to sleep.

I was beside myself. What was she doing? Sleeping in her own bed? Did I just have a fight with my two year old about the space in the bed? Was she going to come back? Was she actually asleep? She has NEVER done that before - willingly left our bed for her own. But, there she was, asleep. I know she was, because I got up like 10 times to check on her, and to make sure the gate was closed, the bathroom door was shut, the back door was locked. Our house is teensy, but, suddenly, I was worried that she'd wander off in the night or stumble into the bathroom and not know where she was. I don't know what I thought, but I couldn't sleep. Meanwhile, Kai was fast asleep. In. Her. Own. Bed.

I think I finally dozed off at like 4, and Kai came toddling back in around 5 and crawled in beside me - nary a kick - to cuddle until morning light. I was glad to have her back.

But, if I know Kai, I would say this newfound independence regarding sleeping will stick around. This is just one more example/lesson/reminder that as much as I worry, Kai is going to get to where she needs to be on her own time table. I can try to force it -- which I don't really believe in (obviously) because it causes so much more grief than it is worth. Instead, it has been my belief - which is reaffirmed by events like the one last night - that Kai will hit the relevant milestones when she is ready. And, it seems, that all it really took with Kai in this case was starting the conversation and asking letting her know that a more appropriate place to fling her legs around would be her own bed.

All that said, and even though Kai seems hellbent on proving that she's 2 going on 10, I don't think she is going to take to solo sleeping with the same gusto that she has potty training or dressing herself (or feeding Oscar, or taking the steps, or getting in and out of the car, or dribbling a basketball, you get the picture)... I think that the move towards her own bed will be more gradual. Or maybe I just hope that. At least with regard to this particular developmental milestone, I am more than happy to take it slow.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Training Days - Part II

As I mentioned in my last post, Kai went all weekend last weekend without a diaper during the day and she only had one accident. And, we didn't just sit around the house either, we went to the zoo and the park and did other normal weekend activities. That was enough to convince me that Kai was ready for full on potty training. You might recall that we sort of started potty training many months ago But, back then, Kai had frequent accidents and I didn't want to deal with any serious potty training outside the house. In fact, for months, Kai would ask to go potty while we were out and about and I would just tell her to go in her diaper. I'm a good mom like that.

I just wasn't ready to deal with potty training while we were out and about and - really - I didn't think Kai was really ready either. Maybe I was underestimating her. But, it made sense to me to keep the potty training to hours when we were home, which aren't that many hours, so we weren't making a lot of progress.

Then, last weekend, I decided we should just go for it. See how ready she was to move beyond the house. I was pretty nervous about it - not really wanting to deal with a big accident in public. But, I loaded the diaper bag with extra clothes, diapers, underwear and decided there is no time like the present. And then I proceeded to ask her every 2 minutes if she has to go to the potty. Ha ha. But, despite my worrying, she did terrific!! No accidents during any of our outings. Woo hoo!

So, we decided to continue the potty training experiment by taking her to daycare on Monday in her underwear. I didn't know how appreciative they would be of that, since I didn't really talk to them about potty training much before embarking on our potty training journey. But, I figured they must be used to it (and Jacob told me that accidents and potty training were still preferable to all the diapers they deal with... they do start taking kids at 15 months, so they are used to all of this).. Anyway, they were very excited and encouraging when they heard that Kai had gone two days with one accident.

Monday and Tuesday were a little rough -- it's hard to remember to go to the potty when you are busy playing with 11 friends and having a great time. She had a couple of accidents on Monday and one on Tuesday. But, that was it. She hasn't had an accident since then. And apparently, several of the others kids have taken an increased interest in the potty as they watch Kailey going to and from the restroom.

Now when I ask her about potty training, she is very emphatic. She gets it.

And, despite my early laziness on the subject - I am SO proud of her and really excited to be moving beyond diapers!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The weekend Kai became a big kid!

I know I've been saying for some time now that I cannot get over how quickly Kai is shedding her babyhood -- and even her toddlerhood. But, this weekend was truly several leaps forward. First, there was the tricycle riding. We bought Kailey a trike for her birthday, and she has enjoyed scooting along on it (as in walking along while straddling the trike... no pedals required!) We have been trying to convince her to try pedaling for some time, but she has been quite content to walk her trike rather than pedal her trike. That is until she noticed one of her favorite friends at daycare pedaling, not walking, the trike. And now? Kai is pedaling along with the best of them:

Except when she nearly topples (don't you just love how the near crash cracks her up? This kid has no fear):

Kai and Eric also made up a running joke on Friday, which has carried throughout the weekend. It started with the ride home from daycare on Thursday. Kai was whining in the backseat, as usual, and Eric looked out the window and shouted "mouse! mouse!" in an attempt to quell the whine. And it worked. Kai looked out the window and realized Eric was joking, and she started cracking up and pointing out the window herself, shouting "MOUSE MOUSE!!" That night, while we were eating dinner, she started in again. And, as you can see, she finds it quite amusing:

And, to top it all off, Kai went the whole weekend without a diaper - except nighttime and naptime on Saturday (she napped without the diaper today) -- and she only had one accident the whole time (on Saturday afternoon).

Trike riding, a budding sense of humor, and potty training all in one weekend!! Who's this new big kid that has moved into our house?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Discovering the Power of Music

This morning, Kailey dug a toy out of the depths of her toy box... the baby MP3 player we bought her a year ago, that she promptly broke. Well, we thought it was broken. I think she dunked it in water or something. We had long ago taken the batteries out and just tossed it in her room, annoyed with ourselves that we had spent $60 on a toy that lasted a week (although, she loved it for that week). She brought it to us this morning, punching the buttons and saying "bok-en". I decided to try to put batteries in it again and see if the year of drying out in the toy box had helped. It had!! New batteries and it was as good as new. Kai was delighted, and promptly marched out onto the deck, sat down, and started bopping along to the songs as she sat on the steps. It was too cute. And, even better, entertained her for a good hour. She kept coming over to me and saying, "DAN-Ssss" ("dance") and we would twirl around together. After a bit, I left her to her music and started cleaning the back deck and doing other chores.

At one point, I glanced over at Kai, and she was listening intently to "sleep, sleepyhead", the music box on her lap, her lower lip quivering. "Sleep, sleepyhead" is a song we learned when Kai was in her very first Music Together class when she was 4 months old. I've been singing it to her at night ever since. She calls the song "Sleep, Sleep". It's very pretty, but also quite melancholy. I used to tear up singing it to her when she was a baby and I'd get to the part that goes "I will keep you safe and warm, so sleep, sleep, sleep sleepyhead." Something about it just got to me.

Apparently it got to Kai too as she sat there on the step, lower lip quivering away. When the song finished, she hit the button to make it play again, and walked over to me with the music box. I was sitting in the doorway at that point, and Kai crawled into my lap, buried her head in my shoulder and started to sob. I rubbed her back and asked her if the song made her sad and she moaned out, "yeeessssss." But, when the song finished, she dislodged herself from me long enough to start the song again before continuing her wailing. Ahhh, the cathartic affect of music. Kai listened to the song about 20 more times, just like a brooding teenager obsessing over some depressing song and contemplating the state of one's existence.

As I watched her relish in the feeling of sadness and longing that gripped her as she listened to the song over and over, I couldn't get over the fact that she was able to internalize the song to that degree. She wasn't just listening to the song, she was feeling the song and all the powerful emotions that song brought up for her. I have no idea exactly what those emotions are for her. When I listen to the song, I think of all the time we have spent cuddling together, me rubbing her back, talking about the day we just had. The song is incredibly comforting to me, but also makes me sad a little bit -- thinking about how fleeting all these nighttimes of her babyhood are and how soon it will be before I will no longer be rubbing Kai's back and singing her lullabies to get her to go to sleep. Even though many nights I am gritting my teeth as I sing the song, willing Kai to go to sleep faster so I can have my evening time to myself, I also relish these moments with her and know that they will be gone forever before long. But, I had no idea that the same song could or would conjure up similarly powerful emotions in Kailey. It is just one of so many examples lately of how Kai is growing into such a KID - a thoughtful, empathetic, and emotional KID. And, it makes me even more wistful about the song and my little sleepyhead (who is sleeping on my lap as I type this rather than letting me start the laundry while she naps. And even though I wanted to get more done today, I realize that these are such sweet moments).

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Kai is truly having a language explosion, which has led to us playing a lot of detective trying to figure out her latest and greatest word. She busts out with 5 - 10 words (or more, who knows) spontaneously on what seems a daily basis. Some words she just repeats when we say the word, and then we don't hear that word again for a long while. Others she tries to get us to understand for awhile -- and she can get quite frustrated when we run past 3 - 4 guesses (we're idiots, we know).

For example, the other day, Eric walked in with Kai from daycare and said, "what's dobbett?" I told him I didn't know. He asked Kai to say it again and she cocked her head to one side, as if to say, "what are YOU saying?" because, clearly, "dobbett" was not what she had said. A few hours later she was in the bath and she yelled out, "DOBBETT" while pointing at the water. "Water?" I said, like an idiot. Because, first, she has been saying wa-wa for eons and second, dobbett and water have no sounds in common. Kai looked at me with disdain. "Dobbet", she said again, this time pointing to the faucet. "Faucet?" I said. You could almost see Kailey sigh an exasperated sigh. Oh what she puts up with. "Dobbett", she tried again. "OHHHH... STOP IT", I said. "YES, YES!" Kai yelled - clearly relieved that I had cracked the code. I turned off the water and she busied herself playing, continuing to mutter "dobbett" under her breath.

Kailey says, "Shou-d" for "shower", "Or-D" for "orange", "Sar-D" for "Sarah", "Dee Dee" for "Katie". She likes her Ds, it seems. And, I think this may illustrate why it can be a little hard to figure out exactly what she is saying.

She is also starting to put together pronouns. She declared "YOURS shoe, mama", the other day. Although, the "yours" sounded like something else and, again, took awhile to figure out. Everything is "mine" "me" or "yours". There is no "ours" in her world yet. We'll get there.

Anyway, even though I haven't been posting as many videos lately, I've still been taking some now and again (although, not as much as I would like -- work is keeping me very crazed at the moment). But, what I've found is that it is nearly impossible to capture her language explosion on video. When the camera is running, she doesn't try out all her new words. But, I still like the videos and want to keep a record of them here.

For context -- this first one relates to Kai's latest obsession -- "bugs", a word she says quite clearly. Kai is both fascinated and repelled by bugs, and seems convinced that any time something foreign touches her it must be a "BUG!". She'll start yelling, "BUG, BUG" while in her carseat, while scratching at her neck. It's more likely sand, since the car is a sandpit, but there is no convincing Kailey that there is not a bug on her neck. The other day, Eric said, "Did you see the bug?" Kai hesitated, clearly considering this question. "Yes", she finally responded. "What color was it?", Eric asked. "Bue", Kai replied. "Ohhh... a blue bug?" Eric said. "BIG", Kai yelled, clearly getting into this. "A BIG blue bug", Eric said, feigning terror. "YEL-OH", Kai yelled. Yes, a big, blue and yellow bug was crawling around her neck. Gotcha.

This next video is about Kai's trip to the dentist. Anytime we talk about the dentist, the first thing she says is "up" and then, after a pause, "down". Clearly the dentist is all about the chair.

And this video demonstrates Kai's ongoing obsession with her ABCs. Kailey LOVES the ABCs. When she sings the song, she only gets as far as "A B C... AAAA BBBB CCC" -- but, in fact, she knows all of her letters. She has an alphabet puzzle that she can put together in record time, no matter how it is presented to her (meaning, we can hand her random letters, and she'll name them and put them in the proper place, or we can ask her to find certain letters, and she can do that as well). It's funny that she doesn't sing the whole song yet, but, she is all about those ABCs.

And I'll end with a video of Kailey doing what Kailey loves best -- climbing!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Managing Toddler Tantrums: Kai vs. the Experts

Lately, I've been reading some books on managing the toddler tantrum. According to the "experts", it helps to acknowledge what your toddler wants and mirror their emotion, so that they feel "heard". And then, once they know they've been heard, you can redirect them to another activity, and they will stop flipping out because they feel were listened to and are now happily onto another activity. Because, you know, toddlers are easily redirected.

Maybe they are. I don't really know. I only have the one. But, based on my sample size, I would say that toddlers are far less flexible then these books give them credit for. Or less forgetful. And, also, at least some toddlers (maybe one in particular) are less interested in being heard, and more interested in getting their way, or at least making sure I don't get my way. Just saying.

Take last night for example. It's bedtime, and we head into Kai's bedroom to do a last diaper change and put on her PJs. I open the PJ drawer and grab her red fleece PJs. "No", Kai says. Fine, she can choose her own PJs, I just want her to get dressed. "Green?" I say. "No," she replies. I go through the rest of the fleece PJs in her drawer (it was cold last night... hence, the fleece). Purple? No. White? No. "Kailey, those are your only choices." "NO -- POLKA DOTS," she screams. Well, the polka dot PJs were dirty and in the dirty clothes. I have no idea how she remembered the ONE other color of fleece PJs we own, but, she did and those were the ones she wanted.

I tried what the books say, I acknowledged what she wanted. I mirrored her distress. And, she did stop whining and looked at me with this expression that said, "yes... you seem to be getting it..." But, when I tried then to redirect her towards picking out a book while I slipped her green PJs on her... all hell broke loose. She screamed, more pissed off then before (because she had clearly been tricked out of her tantrum when I pretended to get what she was saying and then turned around and denied her the very thing I supposedly had understood her to want!). I abandoned the books and wrestled the PJs onto her. I won (I am bigger). The green PJs were on. Victory!

She continued to whine in distress, tugging at the collar of the green PJs in an effort to tear them off. I decided to go back to the advice in the books -- maybe distraction would work better now that she had some PJs on, I reasoned. I grabbed the polka dot PJs out of the laundry and, again, acknowledged/mirrored her desire to wear them... but also showed her that they were wet and dirty, and told her the green PJs were clean. Kai stopped crying, looked over the polka dot PJs, pointed to the dirty spots. It was working!! She was calming down because I had acknowledged what she wanted but explained that they were dirty. She was getting it. Then, she started examining the green PJs she was wearing with some intensity and, after a minute or two, pointed at the tiniest little spot of brown something on the zipper and, narrowing her eyes at me, shouted, "DIRTY! DIRTY!!" Siiiiiggggghhhhhh.

Since she wasn't crying anymore (just feigning indignation), I decided to move onto redirecting her, steering her into the bathroom to brush her teeth and then back into her bedroom to pick out stories. She settled in. We read the stories. Ahhhh.... the PJ battle was over.

Once the stories were read, Kai turned to me and said, "purple." Uh-oh. "Purple what?" I said, knowing full well that this whole time she had continued to be fixated on the damn PJs. She had clearly decided that if the polka dots were, indeed, unavailable, she wanted purple (since, you know, the green ones were clearly dirty as well). "Purple," Kai repeated, pointing to her dresser. I explained to her that she already had on green PJs. Kai, clearly thinking me dense, got out of bed, opened the drawer and grabbed the purple PJs. "Purple," she said and started tugging at her green PJs while looking at me with this look that said, "are you starting to see what I want here?" I decided that this was a battle not worth fighting and I helped Kai change into her purple PJs. Now the PJ battle was really over:

Acknowledging/mirroring/redirection - 0
Stubborn toddler - 1.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

World Cup and Other Sports

We've been watching some world cup lately, and Kai's caregivers at daycare have also had the games on (usually I would not approve of television at daycare, but this is an obvious exception to that rule... the games are only once every four years after all). I think Kai has learned how to be a good sports fan:

And, as a result of all the world cup viewing, she also has taken to dribbling with her feet more!! Kai has been in "soccer" (using that term loosely, since they are really more about bouncy balls, bubbles and singing the ABCs then playing actual soccer... they are toddlers, after all) since she was 17 months old, but has had a hard time with the concept of "feet only". She likes to kick it a few times and then pick it up and try a drop-kick or she starts dribbling using her hands. Indeed, soccer has not been among Kai's favorite sporting activities thus far -- ranking below climbing, tumbling and... her favorite at the moment.... basketball. She LOVES to play basketball, and practices dribbling every time we go across the street to the school playground. She is getting pretty good at it, too:

(in fact, she is much better than what is portrayed in this video. I almost never bring the camera with me to the playground. This was on a day when she was doing some impressive dribbling and I didn't have the camera so suggested to Kai that we go back home and get the camera, which sort of took away from the moment and, when we returned, her heart wasn't really in it anymore. Oh well).

Basketball is all fine and well (I suppose), but (as you might have guessed) my favorite sport of all time is soccer. And, while I know that Kai is her own person and will choose her own activities and that if playing basketball, climbing mountains and jumping out of airplanes is what she prefers (ahem... just picking random examples out of thin air, obviously... these are not activities that I in any way see Kai wanting to partake in as she gets older...), then I will cheer her on in those endeavors (well, maybe not jumping out of airplanes. I might protest a bit about that one... for all that it would matter). But, certainly, I would cheer at all her basketball games. I am just secretly hoping (or maybe not so secretly hoping, since I am writing about it in a post on a semi-private blog that Kai will one day read) that soccer creeps up among the activities that Kai is drawn too. And, thanks to the world cup, I think soccer is gaining traction. The other day she dribbled the basketball across the playground using her feet. Progress!!

And, she did score a nice last goal of the "season" at her last "practice":


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bye, bye June!

Where did this month go? And how is it that we are now half way through the year? Our June was swamped. The end of Paddle to the Sea, a wedding, Eric's 40th birthday, travel to L.A.... it's just been insane. But, it's been a fun month. Especially all the celebrating we did for Eric's 40th! It's no wonder Kai walks around singing "happy birthday" all day long... we've been celebrating birthdays since April (Penny's, Kailey's, mine and now Eric's) and we keep out-doing ourselves.

Eric's was a big one. And we celebrated over a couple of weekends. On his actual birthday, we bought him a new (to him) guitar, had a birthday lunch, and did a bit of a shopping spree at REI. Kai met a couple of nine year old girls at the REI, who taught her the joys of tearing around the store at top speed and hiding in the sleeping bags that hang from the wall. The next day, Eric sailed from Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz, while Oscar, Kailey and I ran shuttle and picked him up at the other end. We thought we were going to camp, but there were no camping spots left. If I had known, Oscar would have stayed at home. A toddler and a dog by myself in Santa Cruz made for a stressful trip to the beach. But, Eric had a great sail, and Kailey loved playing in the "pool" (also known as the "ocean").

Before we left to run shuttle, I attempted my weekly (ahem) interview with Kailey. Not one of the best ones I have captured, but given that weekly has sort of morphed into monthly, it's all I have to post in the "interview" category. So, here it is:

We took a break from celebrating to do actual work for a couple of days and then we were off to Bodega Bay with Amy, Dave, Leo and Soren. We had a great time. Kai LOVED the hot tub and loved her 7-year old cousins even more. Although, she was really upset that she was not, also, 7 and spent most of our trip trying to prove that she can do anything any 7-year old can do. And, since she cannot, in fact, do most of the things a 7-year old can do, it also meant she spent a good deal of time throwing herself on the floor in frustration and crying. And then getting up and trying again. The hot tub is a good example. Leo and Soren can get into the hot tub by flinging a leg over the side and hopping in. Kailey cannot. Her leg flinging results in her hooking her big toe on the side of the hot tub -- which makes the hopping in part rather difficult. We suggested a stool. Kailey looked at the stool, looked at Leo and Soren, and clearly determined that she would not be accepting any assistance. If they could do it, she could do it. She tried. She grunted, slipped, landed on her bottom, tried again, worked herself into a frenzy, fell into a heap of tears. We suggested the stool again and Leo and Soren even demonstrated the hot tub entry using the stool. Kailey was not convinced. She knew they could use a stool, but she also knew that they hadn't used one previously, and that, it seems, was a sticking point with her. She tried again. More grunting, more slipping, more crying. And again. This went on for about 10 minutes when, finally, she managed to hook her toe and then inch her other foot up the side of the tub doing a bit of a lie-back maneuver. And, finally, she got her other leg over the side and popped into the tub with the proudest, smug-est, "i told you so-est" look on her face I have ever seen, although, I have a feeling I will be seeing more of those looks in the future.

Once Kai was in the tub, what do you think she did next? Well, she hopped right out and started to try to get in by herself again, determined to perfect the move. Over the course of our six days, she did perfect it, nearly "hopping" in along with the boys by the end (although, not really, since it always involved a good deal of inching one foot up the side... but, she did get quite quick at it). Practice makes perfect, I suppose. I just didn't necessarily see the need for this particular practice, given the stool and everything. But, her persistence and determination are always fun (if sometimes frustrating) to watch.

Kai also tried to sit on the railing of the deck with the twins, leap over the couches, jump off the couches, climb around on the rocks, and play board games (much to their chagrin... since her idea of playing is really just making a mess). Everything they did, she wanted to try. It was cute. Exhausting, but cute.

When she wasn't imitating the boys, she was running barefoot through the grass singing herself a few tunes.

And, of course, besides watching try to be a big kid, we did a lot of celebrating, a lot of popsicle eating, beach lounging, hiking, music playing and dancing, eating, drinking and being generally merry.

It was a really great week. So good to get away. We hadn't been away for that long on a real vacation since Kai was a couple of months old (when we went to Tahoe). Last year, we only managed a long weekend. So, it was really good to be together, relaxing. And, even better that it was for the purpose of celebrating Eric's last 40 years (and his many years to come). Happy Birthday, Eric!!!