I love it when a plan comes together

Guess where I am. If you guessed Disney World, you’d be… almost right. Now guess how I got here. If you said by plane, you’d be totally wrong.

That’s right, thanks to the current run of “security theater” being put on by the TSA, this year we opted to drive down to Florida for our annual trip. While we’ve done this before, this is a first for The Moppet. And once the plan was set in motion, I really had to question my sanity in deciding to hop in a car for 20+ hours with a 2 and a half year old kid. That kind of travel is tough on adults. A toddler? That’s just crazy.

Yet somehow it worked – and worked really well, at that. Our plan was to get started by 4:30 on Saturday morning and drive as far South as possible before hitting the nearest serial killer-free motel. In order to pull this off, days – nay, weeks – were spent hinting at the pure joy that lay ahead in Florida and Disney. So much so that Kayleigh popped up, wide awake with excitement, when we tried to slip her sleeping body into the car seat. Amazingly an hour into her delighted cries of “Where are we going? Florida!” she actually managed to zonk out.

And by the time she woke up well over 2 hours later, we had already made great time and were ready for a buttery breakfast courtesy of a Cracker Barrel in Virginia. Beyond that, Kayleigh entertained herself with reading, coloring, and singing all the way through to her nap. And just when it seemed like she might be getting a little too cooped up, we were able to take breaks to rejuvinate everyone. By 8 at night, quittin’ time for the day’s journey had arrived and we grabbed a hotel room in South Carolina.

And get this – she actually slept! Unlike our last attempt (down in Atlantic City), The K was able to wind down in a reasonable amount of time and stay down for the entire night. I keep expecting her to freak out about going back in the car, but she seems to have caught on to the concept of travel and vacation.

Her excitement upon reaching out destination was pretty awesome to watch – and yet the big stuff doesn’t start until we hit The Magic Kingdom tomorrow. I’ll write about that after we’re done.

P.S. Please pardon any typos. This is, believe or not, the 3rd or 4th post typed exclusively on my phone while laying in bed. Time to go to sleep in preparation for my little girl’s big day tomorrow.

Week in, week out

I started February rather well. I was writing everyday. There were these ideas in my head. Those ideas became words. Those words were put to paper… er… keyboard. The keyboard… alright, this isn’t working. Anyway, I had unofficially decided to go for a post every day. By the 5th day I was too busy during the day and too tired at night – big shock, eh? Inevitably my idea to just skip a day soon turned into the typical week and then some hiatus.

No biggie, it’s not like I have that many people check here on a regular basis. But the point has always been to write – whether here or elsewhere.

You may have noticed on Tweethead or Friendface, I’ve posted some links over to certain articles on The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. If you actually bothered to follow those, you might have realized that they were written by me. That’s right, I’m now on another site, too. But unlike my failed/abandoned music blog, it’s life does not rely solely on me, therefore it’s likely to survive the week.

You see, my friend Chris (he of the aforementioned Gray Flannel Fame) asked me a ways back if I’d be interested in writing for him. Initially there was some scoffing, seeing as how my own blogs demanded so many words I couldn’t possibly spare any. But as time went on and my annual music posts weren’t really building any traffic I figured, why the hell not? While there are still designs in my head regarding a second failure at a solo music blog, nothing says I can’t review something for his site while continuing to babble incoherently on mine. HE DOESN’T OWN ME!

Where was I? Oh yeah, if you get a chance, check out my recent review for the new Iron & Wine, it’s pure genius (the album that is, the review is pure dreck). Hopefully I’ll get a new review up there at least once a month so Chris doesn’t keep harassing me. And in between perhaps some effort to lend my witty way with… you know… words to some other topics of interest… note… other things.

Oh yeah, this is going to work out real good…

Hello stranger

After running some errands this afternoon, we decided on an impromptu dinner at Panera. Well, Kayleigh decided. We asked her about going to the local pizzeria, but she insisted on going elsewhere as she had to have mac and cheese from Panera. Oh well, you pick your battles.

Anyway she was well on her way to being overtired thanks to fighting a cold as well as her nap. Lack of her early afternoon downtime leads to crankiness and/or loopiness. Tonight she went for loopiness.

After finishing her dinner she conned her way off her seat by pretending to want to hop on my lap and then maneuvering to the floor. Then I saw a glint in her eyes. That glint said, “I’m going to say hi to everyone in this restaurant.” And sure enough, she set off to do just that. Working her way from one table to the next Kayleigh greeted as many customers as she could and inquired what they might be doing.

Fortunately The Moppet brings out the best in people. Pretty much everyone smiles back and actually puts in effort to join her conversation – although that one guy was not going to give me a hug no matter how many times she suggested it. I worry sometimes that her overly friendly attitude might rub some people the wrong way. But most people respond in a genuinely positive manner – I’ve even noticed a couple here and there waiting for her to swing by their table. My main goal is just to make sure that she doesn’t over stay her welcome, or invite herself to any dinner parties.

Of course there is also the fear of “stranger danger”. But the reality is that abductions like that are few and far between. As long as I can keep an eye on her and teach her to be aware of her surroundings, a little friendliness can go along way to brightening her, and other people’s, day.

Sunday morning thought #3

I’m not sure where “eating the entire bagel and not just the inside” ranks as a development milestone for most parents and their kids, but for me it’s just a couple notches below walking and talking. The next one will hopefully be “puts sunglasses on right-side up” or “does not demand a side of butter with every meal”. Actually the latter one is not likely to stop for at least a few more years.

The K

While I’ve been prone to calling my little girl The Moppet of late, I never truly settled on a single nickname. Moppet works well because she’s little, precocious and has a wild head of hair. But in the past it’s been a cycle of diminutives from pants-less to naked girl to goober with the occasional scutch thrown in for good measure. There’s also been some less than favorable ones when the day stretches too long, but we’ll ignore those for now.

With this lack of consistency, it seems as though Kayleigh decided to take matters into her own hands. A couple months ago she began referring to herself as “The K” – seriously. As cute as it is to hear her answer questions like “Who wants a cookie?” with an exclamation of “The K”, it does come across as a tad George Costanza-ish. Maybe I should tell her to call me “T-bone”, you know, because I eat a lot of steaks…

Strangely enough I think the moniker did rub off on me. Every so often Kayleigh would call me “Dad” instead of “Daddy” and my typical response was to shorten her name to simply Kay. Between those exchanges, her own nickname and the feeling of formality that the overuse of her full name can brings, I’ve come to find myself calling her Kay with far greater regularity. And that’s despite the fact that she has switched back to the more proper “Kayleigh” when make self-referential statements.

Hopefully this won’t have any negative impact on her impression of her first name. I grew up with great affection for “Thomas” and it took me quite a long time to accept its abridgment – even today refusing to give up the h. Aside from its beauty, one of the main reasons I love the name Kayleigh is the ability to shorten it to a pleasant nickname – two, actually. I really do want The Moppet to be able to enjoy all aspects of her name and to choose whatever form suits her best – preferably one without a definite article attached.

Daddy vs. The Hair

As a dad, dealing with my daughter’s hair can be a bit of a challenge. I didn’t grow up with any need for headbands, barrettes, clips or those mane things that were all the rage. Now I have to learn how to manage the Moppet’s wild and crazy hair. Fortunately even my pitiful attempts at hair styling can’t mask her adorableness.


Despite the smile, those pigtails don’t last beyond dinner. Maybe half of one does. I may have to move onto braids if I want any of this to last, but that may be too cruel.

The power of choice

Kayleigh has firmly entrenched herself in the “must test every request/instruction/order” phase. That means everything from diaper changes to hand washing has become just that much more of a challenge. Some days it seems as though it’s just not worth the effort. Just let her wade around in a 2 day old diaper with yesterday’s oatmeal still caked to her face. Sadly this whole “responsible parenting” thing gets in the way and we’re forced to deal with the issue.

The Woman made a suggestion the other day. Give her a choice. If she doesn’t want to wash her hands, give her the option of choosing where to wash them. If she doesn’t want to put on clothes, give her a chance to pick out an outfit. Seems a little too simple; The Moppet would have to see through it, right?

But kids actually fall for this stuff. Tonight she kept insisting that we should watch TV before bedtime when I really wanted us to read. “You can pick out a book,” I said. Finally she caved and went for The Tooth Book – not my personal choice, but it did the trick. Next she wouldn’t let me get her dressed for bed. “I”ll sleep in my shirt,” she said. But showing her 2 different pajamas suddenly changed everything. Thirty seconds later she was all zipped up.

I realize we’re not the first parents to figure this out, but just like every little toddler transition feels like a miracle, so does every little “parenting trick” discovery. Next up: bribing your kid with sweets.