Cry Baby

30 06 2006

Tonite, we were on our way home from a nice evening out. Our normal setup is that Eliana will sit in her chair in the van and watch whatever video we have for her. Usually, these are one of the number of Baby Einstein videos we purchased from Costco some time ago. This time, we had left all of these videos at home. There was one cartoon, however, and even though I was reluctant to let her watch it, I think it was still ok. I had my copy of the original Transformers cartoon movie. The movie itself is terrible from my point of view, but when I put it in, it was fun to hear Eliana laughing at the weirdest points in the movie. I was also glad to hear that she was enjoying the animation as she really wasn’t even interested in the story line.

On our way back home, she was more than half way through the movie when her sister, Annabelle, started to cry. Annabelle crys a lot in the car, so we thought she would tough it out and stop crying in a few minutes. She didn’t stop. I have learned to tune out the crying, although it is still not the sound I want to hear while driving on the freeway. However, I think Eliana was extremely frustrated. Eliana was happy to watch the final act of the Transformers movie, but when Annabelle started to cry, she really couldn’t enjoy it. Annabelle’s crys were loud enough to drown out all the sound from the movie, which I believe really annoyed Eliana. So, as an frustrated sister would do, Eliana tried to get Annabelle to stop crying. She started doing all the little things her mother and I do, such as the “ssshhhhh” technique, talking to her “hey sister, hey sister, calm down”, to just flat out saying “quiet, sister”. She didn’t yell any of these, she said them very calmly, as we do when we are trying to quiet and comfort Annabelle. However, despite her calm appearance, I could tell she would rather have bee listening to the sound from the movie rather than the sound of Annabelle’s crying.





Bedtime

27 06 2006

Last night was an ordinary night for Eliana and me. We played around a little, while I tried to get some things done on my computer. After a while, it was time for her to go to bed, which is now triggered by the call to “brush teeth”. After some fun bathroom antics with the toothbrush, we head to her room, change her diaper and put on her pajamas. Nowadays, Eliana doesn’t want to fall alseep alone, which is definately understandable. But, last night, as I was calming her to sleep and going over her fun day at school, I was reminded of the several different ways I have put Eliana to bed over the last couple of years.

When Eliana was a small baby, she would sleep in her Mom and my bed.  I was opposed to it, but eventually became used to it. Eventually Eliana started kicking, tossing and turning all night, at such point I opposed it again. When she was 6 months old, we tried to move her to a playpen inside our room, but out of our bed. On the first day it took about 3 hours of fighting our parental instinct to pick her up and calm her, but we let her cry  herself to sleep.  As new parents, this probably wasn’t the best thing we could have done, but weren’t sure what else to do at the time.

Only a few weeks later, we moved her to the crib in her bedroom. She cried just as much, but we changed our tactic to go in every few minutes to reassure her that things were ok.  She went along most nights and went to sleep in 30 minutes or so, but some nights she went in kicking and screaming. Those nights were no fun. This lead to the next phase of Eliana’s bedtime ritual.

Before I started working at Intel, I was able to rock Eliana to sleep using a rocking chair my mom gave us as a baby gift. We would look at each other and smile. Eliana would get extremely comfortable in my arms and although she still fought he sleepiness, I think she would feel comfort and security, which helped her to go to sleep.  Sometimes she didn’t fall quite asleep when I was ready to put her in her crib, and as soon as she hit the mat, she would cry. My immediate reaction was to pick her up and rock her for another 10-15 minutes, or until she finally fell asleep and I could put her in her crib.

After I started work at Intel, for the first year, I was not home during the week, so I’m sure Eliana and her mom had many fights to get her to bed.

Once everyone moved up to our new house in Gilbert, Eliana was able to sleep in a large bed with no problem. She would change into her pajamas with no fuss, and I would read her a story before bedtime. She would fall asleep with no problems.  Those were the days.

Over all, Eliana has been a great kid, and very understanding when it comes to going to bed. I look back on these memories fondly, and look forward to many of the upcoming bedtime memories we will share together.





Visiting Makutu's Island

25 06 2006

Our family had an opportunity to visit Makutu's Island. Eliana's friend, Mya, recently turned 2 years old, and her parents were kind enough to invite everyone who attends Eliana's school to a Saturday afternoon romp around a giant indoor playground.

As soon as we arrived, we met Mya and her family. I hate to admit it, but I don't remember seeing Mya when I drop off Eliana in class. She may be new, and she may also be dropped off on a different schedule than the one Eliana and I are on. They seemed a friendly bunch, and I could see that they were collecting the presents on a cart. I have Eliana's gift to Eliana to hand to Mya. She took the bag, and slowly walked over to Mya, and gave her the bag. She then backed away and ran into my legs and clung tightly.

After a few minutes we were escorted into the play area. My first impression was that this was a fun place. It was very chaotic with tons of kids running around all over the place, but I think kids need a place like this. Where was this place when I was a kid? Kids were swarming everywhere letting their imaginations run wild. Eliana on the other hand was having a more difficult time.

We first ventured to the giant banana tree in the middle of the play area. I was tentative at first to start climbing within the tree, but I soon found other adults heading inwards, so I decided it was ok for me as well. On the next level up, we found a slide. Eliana loves slides, and we went down together. She loved it.

In the large banana tree was a tree house at the top with a bridge that connects to the "pirate's cove". This was a pint-sized suspension bridge hanging nearly 40 feet in the air. I was scared looking down over the edge as we were very far up. As I was assessing the bidge, some kids ran past Eliana and I with not even a second thought. Eliana was not as brash, but she was brave. She ventured out to the middle of the bridge and then stopped. I was hoping she would make it across. As soon as I saw her stop, I knew she was not going to go any further, and called her back. We took the giant 25 foot slide down to the bottom. I think we both enjoyed that more than the bridge.

After nearly an hour of playing around, I noticed that everyone was gathering up towards the party rooms and getting ready for pizza, cacke and cookies. The birthday party was a fun little gathering of two and three year olds, and I'm amazed things went along so well.

Eliana and I had a ton of fun exploring the various areas of Makutu's Island. I hope timees like this resonate with Eliana as great childhood memories, as this will be one of my fonder memories of the things we have done.





Family Time

14 06 2006

Usually by this time of year in the desert, the day is terrible, as well as the afternoons. However, we have been graced with ever so plesant evenings. It was today that we finally made something of it and decided to pack up the kids into the bike trailer and go for a short jaunt around the neighborhood.  It was nothing spectacular, and had almost no exercise value.  Instead it was a pleasant hour spent with the three most important people in my life on doing one of my most favorite things: riding a bike. 

It was a classic evening to be sure.  The evening sun was not as bright as it is overhead in the early afternoon. The sky changes colors with the clouds going from white to purple to orange and to a deep grey before the sun finally sets behind South Mountain in the west. A cool breeze was a gave the air a nice cool feeling, one that I would not associate with June in Arizona. We rode along nearly every road in our neighborhood, and taking the multi-use paths to see where they go. As we meandered about, my wife and I we admiring some of the other houses nearby.  We were amazed that some were so large, and also that there were so many for sale. 

This was a great evening, one that I am glad my wife encouraged us to do.  I only hope that we can do more of these types of family rides together. 





Water Baby

10 06 2006

Today was a sort of milestone day for Eliana: today was her first swim lesson.

A couple of months ago, with Summer in Arizona looming over the horizon of another great spring, I signed Eliana up for swim lessons at The Gold Medal Swim School in Chandler, AZ. Her mom and I thought it would be great for her to learn to swim so that when we visit the pool as a family, she will be safer than if she had not had lessons. Running late, we entered the school and removed her outter clothes so that she was in her new swimsuit. Unsure of what would come next, a young high school student came out of the pool and called Eliana's name. She would pretty much get a private lesson. That was neat.

Eliana seemed to be ok going with the swim teacher. I think her experience at school (daycare) seems to have helped her deal with new people a little better. When the teacher stepped into the pool, Eliana looked a little worried. When they became submerged together, Eliana started to cry. We expected this because even in the shower, she does not like to have the water sprayed or running down her face. After some distractions and efforts to have a little fun with Eliana, the teach picked her up slowly and carried her while she grabed a floating matte. She put Eliana on it face down and started to slowly pull her across the water. Every so often, she would gently push Eliana's face into the water so that Eliana would be accustomed to it. After the first could rounds of bubbles in the water, Eliana seemed to start to get the hang of things. Every time Eliana cried, I tried to wave and smile to give her some remote reassuance. I've become such a prototypical Dad.

On this day, I again reflect on my own childhood and the numberous summer days I spent at the neighborhood pool. A quarter was the admission price, and we stayed for several hours. My parents, knowing our enthusiasm for the pool, would drop us off for several hours on end. I remember my day picking us up in his truck, and since me and my brothers were all wet, we were relegated to a ride in the back of the truck on our towels. We dried off fairly quickly. I hope that Eliana and Annabelle will have many similar childhood memories.

Also on this day, I reflect on my hopes and dreams for Eliana's life. As a parent, I want her to have all the things I wasn't able to have. Of course I want her to earn them, but she should have the opportunity available to her. When I see and think about her swimming and having fun, I imagine her at swim meets in high school, and eventually college, and perhaps even the olympics. It seems that my own dreams and fantasies will be projected onto her. Learning from other parents who have pushed this too far, I know I will not be a demanding parent. I want her to have fun, and if she decides she wants to push her skills to the next level, I want to be there to help and encourage her. And, of course, I must be there if she can't quite meet her goals. Those are the moments I look forward to in the coming years.





The Best of Intentions

7 06 2006

Today was a rare day in our lives. Today we had a chance to attend a relatively historic event that was happening near our home. Today the 202 loop freeway was dedicated, so the State of Arizona decided to hold a little ceremony and party to celebrate our car-based society. Today was also the second day in a row where we had a nice afternoon break from near record breaking heat, albeit a little intermingled with some spotted thunderstorms and lightning in the distance.

Since the freeway opening party was really a once in a lifetime type of event, I thought it would be great to bring the family to attend so they could say they were there when it all started. (It's not much really, but still it's a good way to put things into perspective in the future). I truely wanted to take the opportunity to spend some quality time with the family with our bikes. (It's ironic that I wanted to spend the evening with my family on our bikes on a freeway built for cars.)

So, I left work a little early so that I could get everyone's tires aired up and get everything packed into the kiddie trailer. The first problem occured when my plan of putting Annabelle in the trailer while she was in her carseat backfired. As soon as Eliana sat in the trailer, we noticed there wasn't enough room for her and a huge carseat. I made the bold executive decision to take Annabelle out of her car seat and strap her in next to her sister. She didn't seem to mind. Eliana always cried when we put her in the trailer at Annabelle's age. We got going a little more, and still, not a sound. Things were looking good.

We made it to the freeway on ramp, and wheeled down to the main freeway. As in any large area, there was a huge backup of cars. I always feel proud when I am going faster on my bike than people are in their cars. I like to think that for a few moments, they stop to think about alternatives to motorized transportation. But I digress. After about a mile of passing cars, we made it to the section of the freeway where the festivities were being held. The second problem arose, we had to lift the trailer over from freeway barrier in order to continue along our journey. With a little coordination, my wife and I lifted the trailer, with the kids still inside, over the barrier. No big deal. Now it was time to look for the free food.

The first cart we came along was cart full of bullet pops. It was right out of my childhood. I wanted to give Eliana one of her own, but she would not be able to finish it easily, and would make a real mess trying. So, as we do of many things, we shared. I know she liked it, as she asked for more after every time I grabbed a bite.

Looking around for the free hot dogs I had read about, I saw a guy making balloon animals. Eliana loves balloons and I thought it would be a good idea to get her one. Well, it seemed like every other kid in the area had the same idea, and we gave up. We did manage to find her a balloon of her own later on.

After some more wondering, we came across the Arizona Search and Rescue helicopter. We got in line and I was able to grab a few snapshots. It was neat, and I wish I was better dressed to grab a picture myself.

A short stroll later, we came across a huge bulge of people in the middle of the road. There was a small stage and some people talking. Cameras were around recording things. I figured this was where they were going to do the ribbon cutting. I was curious to hear what they had to say about the future of transportation in the area. It wasn't groundbreaking, but as with many leaders of small but growing areas, they had big plans. I saw sparky, the evil ASU mascot, and some guy in a coyote outfit. I also managed to see the governor of Arizona, Janet Napolitano. While I'm not one for politics, I have to admire a leader who is not afraid to do things the way the people who voted for her would want them to be done. It's too bad this kind of leadership is not always rewarded in our political system. And when it's at the higher offices, it is frequently frowned upon.

After trying to get my own celebrity snapshots of the governor, I had remembered that we still did not find the free hot dogs. I wanted to get at least one. However, I was gently reminded that it was getting dark soon, and that we should try to ride home as soon as possible. I was given a few more minutes to continue my search when the alarm went off. Annabelle started to cry and wouldn't stop. This usually happens when she' sleepy. I decided to pack everyone up and start heading back. I didn't realize it, but after we started to head back we were a good two exits down the road. The journey back, wading through and endless sea of people took far too long. I felt that Annabelle was my siren and alerting people to my presence and helping to clear a path. Eventually we made it back to our starting point, when I noticed that the 5k run was starting. I was unsure of whether or not I was able to ride back home along this road because of the runners. However, I noticed many people coming the other way (being dangerous fools), so I figured at the very least, the lead police officer would tell me to ride on another side of the road. I could live with that.

The endless cries of helplessness continued though my ride to catch the start of the wave of runners. This was an interesting experience. With every wail, I pedeled faster in an effort to help calm her down with the smooth vibrations of the road. As I gained speed, I started to reach the runners, and eventually I had to ride around them. It was like riding through a gauntlet. And whilde dodging runners was difficult, it was worse on the right side of the road with pedestrians making their way to the party and being scattered themselves. One girl was on a skateboard, and got a little freaked when I started to head in her direction. She paniced and jumpped off the board, but the board kept going. I was a little disturbed by this, and luckily had enough mind to know which side of me had no people around so I didn't cut anyone off or hurt anyone. After riding through the gauntlet, I made it to our exit, and made for home. I was glad I picked that time to head home because the wind started to pick up, as well as some more lightning. It didn't seem like a good idea to be outside.

Along the way of this crazy adventure, I think it was particularly hard on everyone beacuse we broght everything on our bikes. I wanted my family to have an awesome and unique experience. However, I think it ended up being a little tough on my wife because of the crazy whether and poor road in order to get to the nice, wide freeway. My intentions were good, but perhaps a little more planning may have made this a great outing, instead of just a good one.





Feeling a Little Guilty

4 06 2006

Today, we have perhaps reached the point in our parenting lives where we now try to have our kids schedule fit our own. As busy people, our schedule doesn't always fit that of a toddler or a 4 month old. So, today, while we didn't do anything to hurt our children, we did perhaps play a dirty little joke on our older daughter Eliana.

Since my wife works remotely on somewhat large projects, I thought today would be a good day to venture out and grab a nice family lunch together at NYPD Pizza. Eliana was excited. When we pulled up, she announced "Pizza!" and pointed to the restaurant. Honestly, who teaches her this stuff? Our meal was terrific, and Eliana was on her best behaivor. Annabelle was asleep, but then woke up, but didn't start crying. It was a good meal.

After we left we had more errands to run. As we were driving to Costco, which was about 20 minutes from our last stop, she started to get sleepy. Eliana is usually sleepy after a good, large meal. However, us parents would rather she not sleep while we're out shopping. It's the best time for her to be awake and make herself more tired. So, we promised her some milk and ice cream, two of her favorite foods. At one point she closed her eyes, but as soon as I mentioned the magic words, she opened them, and tried to stay awake. Luckily, the drive to Costco went fairly smoothly.

When we arrived, she was about to fall asleep on my shoulder, when I made her walk to the store entrance. It was obvious how tired she was because her feet were dragging. In a place like Costco, its tough to sleep, especially when we let her run around everywhere. Our visit was short and to the point, we did not plan on getting too many things. Milk was indeed on the list, and we did get to sample some cheesecake for free. So, even though Eliana did not get her ice cream, we got her the next best thing. I don't think she minded, or even noticed, the substitution.