They are Individuals

31 05 2006

Over the last few days I have been able to spend more quality time getting to know my younger daughter, Annabelle. I’ve been doing simple daddy things like putting her to sleep (even though she still crys loudly into my ears) and carrying her around the house and playing with her while I’m watching TV. (I don’t normally watch TV, however, when I am watching Annabelle and/or Eliana, it is impossible to do anything else).

During my recent quality time with Annabelle, I have noticed that she at 4 months acts a bit differently than Eliana at the same age. First, Annabelle is far more sensative than Eliana was in that she reacts to many sounds when they seem to come by surprise. She can be eating to her heart’s content, and then Eliana will drop something on the floor. She’ll shutter in shock and start looking around for what happened. While this is a normal reaction, Eliana would just keep eating.

When Annabelle is sleepy, she crys. Recently during our quality time together, she will cry on my should (and into my ear), but then her head will fall on my shoulder after only a few minutes and she’ll fall asleep faster. Eliana would not cry at all, unless she didn’t want to go to sleep. However, as soon as I would start rocking her to sleep, she would quiet down, get comfortable and stay awake as long as possible.

When Annabelle was born, I had promised myself that I would treat both girls as alike as possible. I want them both to feel loved and not to feel that we favor one girl over the other. In my mind, that meant that we would treat them the same. But, as I spend more time with a second child I am slowly realizing that you can never treat them exactly the same, and treating the same would be denying their individuality. They both have their own personalities and traits and each will require different ways to deal with these differences. Hopefully over time, we as parents will learn how to handle these differences with equal measure.

Being a Dad is Tough

27 05 2006

Today I wanted to give my wife a break from the Kids and give her some time while she worked. Yes, I know, she should probably take that time and rest, but her current line of work allows her to work at home. The advantage of that is she can stay home with the new baby, but that is also the primary disadvantage. Babies require attention, and work and babies don't mix too well most of the time.

The girls and I made our first stop at the Arizona Mills Mall today. This in and of itself was nothing special. There isn't much to do in the desert with a 2 year old and a 4 month old but go to the mall and make sure they don't break something. Hopefully, in the process, they'll become tired and go to bed on time.

Since it was just me with two small kids, I had a lot of loading and unloading to do when it came to getting in and out of the car. My first tactic was to use our three wheeled stroller. It fits both kids right now, even though it's tough to turn, it gets the job done. The wheels on this stroller are inflatable, like those on a bike. They make for a smooth ride for the occupant (that was the idea anyways), and offer better traction over non-paved or non-laminated surfaces. However, there is one huge weakness, just like bike tires, they are prone to go flat. The right rear tire was flat nearly instantly, probably from some previous outing. I didn't want to trek out to the car in the blazing heat again, so I pumped up the tire, not knowing that there was indeed a hole tube (these go flat from time to time even if there is no hole in the tube). After the second flat, I found a thorn and removed it. But now I was faced with a larger problem: how can I keep going around the mall with two kids on a stroller that is nearly impossible to turn?

Oh, the dilemmas us parents face.
I wandered around the mall, trying to go in straight lines as much as possible, with the flat tire. It soon became very difficult to push and turn, so I wandered into a store with some room to sit and I infated the tire again. It lasted for a few minutes. Then I had an idea: the front was ok, why not change the tubes around and make the stroller easier to turn? So, I found a Borders store and sat in the kids section because of the low chair. I used my keychain to pry the tire away from the wheel. I felt very strange doing a tire change in teh middle of a bookstore. But then I thought: this is what a Dad does. That thinking made it through the rest of our trip to the mall. Now, we were off to the next leg of our journey: Fry's Electronics.

The trip to Fry's started with a different kid hauling strategy: I carried the small one in one of those strap on baby carriers, and I would push Eliana in her large, plastic wheeled Dora stroller. This idea backfired almost immediately. As soon as we made it into the store, Eliana wanted to push the stroller herself. That wasn't a bad thing, so I let her, trying to steer her away from people's shins throughout the store. Next came the clincher: Annabelle started to make some serious baby noise. I'm not talking about peeing or pooping, but the dreaded crying. I immediately made a beeline for the "food court" area, which oddly enough was occupied by many Fry's Electronics employees. I grabbed a chair and got down to preparing her formula. This was a very tricky thing to do because she was strapped to my chest. I unloaded almost everything in my pockets onto the table, as well as all the baby stuff needed to get the formula to resemble milk including a bottle, water and powder. After a good shake of the bottle, I fed it to Annabelle hoping she was indeed hungry. No dice. The crying became louder. This meant only one thing: she was sleepy.

I knew the battle I was in for, so I took her out of the carrier and tried to comfort her to sleep. Her typical battle cry makes her sound like I just kicked her across the room.  Needless to say, she was loud, but it was also obvious she was sleepy; her eyes were closed when she cried.  After about 15 minutes of loud crying, she found her fist and started sucking, and made her way to sleep. All was good, except that I wasn't going to walk around the store (I still had some shopping to do) holding a baby and trying make sure the other one doesn't run off or break something. The only way I could get things done was to get her back in the carrier.

Gently I turned her straight and attempted to wrap the baby carrier over her.  I was not precise enough because I woke her up. From there it was a race to get it on as fast as I could and get everything packed up so I could try to rock her back to sleep while I walk around the store. Her bellied cries filled the food court, and were probably heard all over the store.  People would walk by, and I felt guilty for having a baby that cried so loud.  I'm sure I annoyed many of the employees on their breaks, but they didn't say anything.  I think it was obvious I was doing the best I knew how to do with Annabelle.

After I managed to throw the harness over my body and strap in Annabelle securly, I tried my best to hold her as firmly as I could and put her in a sleep type position.  The carrier was helpful in holding some of the weight so I could focus more on rocking her to sleep. I peroused the aisles trying to find the few items that were on my list quickly so I could leave and not annoy more people. Aisle after aisle she kept screaming at the top of her lungs, and into my right ear.  The sound was muffled in my ear which means that her crying has probably started to effect my hearing. That or I really need to clean out my ears. Eventually she found her fist again, and started sucking. After a few minutes, her cries became lower in volume and frequency until she finally fell alseep in my arms as she has done several times before, crying in my ear all the way. 

I was able to browse through the store and figure out the items I needed with some relative peace. I still had a 2 year old to deal with, so it wasn't quite that peaceful, but Eliana was great and would listen kindly to every request I had.  She would say "Ok, Apa" when I asked her to follow where I was going. She would touch things in the aisle, and I asked her to put it back, and she complied. She pushed the stroller into a few people, but I can only ask so much of a toddler.

While I was dealing with Annabelle, with people walking by seeing me struggle to handle a 4 month old baby with a 2 year old toddler looking on, I thought to myself: This is what it means to be a Dad. While this isn't what I do with 100% of my fatherly time, Dads do these things.  They are responsible and know what it takes to get a crying baby to sleep in the middle of an electronics store. Dads are resourceful in the way I managed to keep the stroller usable with one flat tire. Dads keep control of the situation as I was able to with Eliana, even if Annabelle was a little reluctant to follow my lead.  Today, I was a Dad in all sences of the word, and it's not an easy job.  But, sharing time with Eliana today at the food court with a cookie in her mouth was one of the better parts that comes along. 


26 05 2006

When we were moving, we had an abundance of return address mailing labels. Since they were no longer valid, I decided to give them to Eliana to play with because, hey, all kids love stickers. It turned out that she didn't know what to do with them. So, being the helpful parent I am, I pulled several of them off, and stuck them to her clothes. She had a good laugh.

That may have been a big mistake!

Now, everytime Eliana gets her hands on some mailing labels, expired or not, she peels them off and sticks them all over her clothes. This time, she stuck them on herself without any clothes. I guess when you're a kid, somethings you just have to learn for yourself.


26 05 2006

You know you're tired when you can sleep in a shopping cart in the middle of costco with hundred of people bustling around you. But as soon as you get home and make the slightest sound, the small one wakes up and starting crying her eyes out. The joys of being a parent.

Green Grass

26 05 2006

It's that time of year our here where the night time lows dip in the mid 90s and the days are better spent indoors. Sidewalks become cooking surfaces, and the longing for images with nice green grass and cool blue water becomes greater. This was taken on a transition day; a day where the night is cool despite a 100 degree day. Eliana and I were in the backyard enjoying the grass while we still had the opportunity.

Funny Things for Today

22 05 2006

Today was a day like any other, except for the massive wind storm that blew by.  However, after I returned home with Eliana, the weather outside was perfect Spring weather, and we decided to spend it outside. While we were out there, Eliana did a couple of cute things that we wanted to at least write down:

I was out taking pictures, when my wife came up to me and held me as she does to show affection.  Eliana saw this, and started to gently pull on her shorts to get her away from me. She wasn't rude or mean, she just knew what she wanted. After she managed to move her far enough away from me, she decided to take the same spot from which she had just removed my wife. It was quite a funny moment as it shows that there are going to be many more battles between mother and daughter(s) in the future regarding my time.

 Later tonite, after we came in from a pleasant evening outdoors, we were sitting at the couch, watching a TV movie when Eliana decided to cut across our legs.  What she said was quite funny as it is something we haven't taught her (but we're sure she learned it at school).  While she was stepping over our toes, she said "skooze me". It wasn't that clear, and was quite funny to hear her say that in her 2 year old voice. Just another in the long line of fun childhood memories we will have of her.

My Next Project

21 05 2006

After our last experience with the Picture People, my wife and I have decided that my photograhy skills and current crop of good photos of the girls is good enough that we will invest in some decent camera equipment and start a mini home photo studio. Ok, there was a lot of words going on in that last statement; let me clerify:

Recently, we visited the mall child photography studio, The Picture People, not once, but twice. The first time was terrible, the second time, the results were marginally better. Since the idea of going to these people is to have great pictures every time, we figured two strikes and you’re out. Other reasons for making a home photo studio is that we can photograph the girls (and maybe even ourselves) on days when they look their best. We will never forget a shoe or headband at home, because, hey, we are home. We will have access to a large number of personal, meaningful props such as our kid furniture, Eliana’s favorite toys, and Dora dolls.

Photography has peaked my interest lately, especially since my kids were born. Not only have I tried to take good photos of them, I have tried to take good photos of everything I shoot. As such, my mild mannered photography skills are improving and the results are noticable in a number of shots on my photoblog. So, in an effort to further practice with willing test subjects, and to hopefully create beautiful portraits that are a million times more personal than anything we will ever recieve at the mall, we are putting the two girls in the same room (moving all their toys into the same room) and converting one (of 5) room to a photo studio.

I have done a little research on the Internet and found that a few simple lights and a good setup are good ways to get started in figuring out what you want in a home photo studio. The camera is on order, awaiting final production shipments to the US. Other item, such as lights and reflectors will be purchased or created over time as I learn more about the finer points of child portrait photography. I still have to empty out a couple more items of furniture and move all the clothes from the closet to the new bedroom. I have purchased a king-sized bedsheet that will act as the primary backdrop for my first crop of portraits. As the new studio evolves, I’ll be posting photos for others who are curious about my implementation.