Da-Da

I had a post in mind this morning as Kayleigh slept in my arms. It was going to talk about how quickly she’s changing and there’s so much I already miss. But that can wait, because something far more important arose.

As I was getting dressed for the day, and Kayleigh was in her mother’s arms, she looked over at me and said, “Da-Da.” She then smiled her unbelievably adorable smile and reached her arms out for me. And then I nearly cried.

The question often comes up, “Do you feel like a dad?” But the answer doesn’t really matter anymore, because the only person that really matters – my baby girl – let me know that I am not just a dad, I’m her Dad.

Kayleigh and Da-Da

This may just be the awesomest day ever…

Where The Wild Things Are

Please tell me you’ve seen the trailer already. Seriously, if this thing doesn’t tug at your inner child’s heart strings, I don’t know what will.

I’ve watched this about a dozen times and still get misty-eyed. The Woman actually paused the Ellen Degeneres Show and called me in for the debut. There’s just so much being done right with one of my favorite childhood memories (a rarity these days). I mean, Arcade Fire – how totally awesome is that? Although it does makes me regret even more not picking up the set of MacFarlane Toys done for the wild things way back when…

It’s children’s stories like this that I can’t wait to start sharing with Kayleigh – you know, once she’s able to actually enjoy them. I can read her all the Shel Silverstein in the world right now, but it’ll be a few years ’til her eyes start welling up at the mere mention of The Giving Tree.

I wish I had started a list of items to share with Kayleigh as she grows up – like 1001 rules for my unborn son. What a cool idea. Maybe it’s not too late. It’s not like she’s going to suddenly start understanding me tomorrow…

From one anxiety to the next

Sometime over the holidays Kayleigh started getting nervous around strangers. Well, her definition of strangers, which would be anyone who wasn’t present at her conception (hey, that’s her definition, not mine). It might have had something to do with the sudden introduction of all 50 (rough estimate) members of my immediate family in a kitchen designed to hold 3 of them. Granted she had met almost all of them before, but that was in a much more controlled environment and only a couple at a time. Plus, she can only remember things for 3 seconds…

Or is that goldfish?

Either way she started freaking out when too many people were around her. Then it happened when just about anyone was around her. They call this “stranger anxiety” because, you know, we need to have terms for every little thing a baby goes through. It makes for lots of fun visits in which parents profusely apologize to aunts and uncles, insisting that it’s not your sweater or glasses or giant growth on your upper lip. It’s just that she doesn’t like people right now (and she’ll probably never like giant growths on lips).

When we went away to Florida a couple weeks ago (I mentioned that, right?), the hardcore test as to whether or not she was fully over the whole stranger bit was on. We were staying with the in-laws. Whom she hadn’t seen in months. And were now, for all intents and purposes, strangers. And we were staying with them. And they’re strangers. Do you catch my meaning? WE’RE STAYING WITH STRANGERS!!!

Much to my shock, she was all like, “Cool.” And I was all like, “Are you sure? They’re almost strangers…” And she was all like, “Whatever, dad. Stranger anxiety was so 6 months old. I’m a mature 8 months, now.” And all was right with the world – until the first time she woke up from a nap and realized she had no clue where Florida was on a map.

Fast forward to our return. Things seem peachy keen. Kayleigh slept decently on the trip for a baby that doesn’t sleep decently. We return and figure we can pick up where we left off. Then she suddenly started clinging to Mamamamamama (I’m not sure just how many syllables she adds there). And when I would pick her up, she would contort her body to look for Mamamamamama. And when Mamamamamama left the room briefly she let us all know that this was unacceptable.

This is called “separation anxiety” because, once again, we have to have a term for everything a baby goes through. The added bonus of not understanding the very essence of her being is that she’s even more antsy when it comes to the idea of sleep. And can you blame her? If she can’t accept the notion that Mamamamama has just stepped out of sight and into the kitchen for a few moments, how can she wrap her little walnut-sized brain (or is that dinosaurs?) around the notion that we won’t all disappear when she closes her eyes for 5 hours? It’s amazing that she can still enjoy peek-a-boo without a nervous breakdown.

But I’m going to work through this with her. Tomorrow we’ll watch Home Alone together and she’ll hopefully learn that there is an inherent humor to neglectful parenting…

I’ll sleep when I’m dead

I used to make fun of bloggers who disappeared once they had a kid. I used to do a lot of things. I don’t anymore.

A couple months after Kayleigh was born, my Mom asked me what caught me off guard the most. When it comes down to it, those questions can be such a paradox. I mean, I totally knew that raising a kid was going to kick my ass even if I wasn’t sure how. But does knowing that you don’t know mean that suddenly you know… Wow, I think I forgot how to write in English… So let’s just cut to the chase.

Sleep.

More specifically, the lack thereof. Whether you have kids of your own or simply experienced what it was like on Mad About You, everybody is familiar with the concept that new parents don’t get to sleep much. I was prepared for that. Hell, you could say that I’ve been preparing for it since junior high when I pretty much stopped sleeping normal hours. The Woman is well familiar with the notion that I would go to sleep after her, wake up before her, and yet still be more alert. So it seemed like I would be able to cover nights with a little less difficulty than most.

Yeah… right. Two things pretty much killed that possibility. First, during the months leading up to Kayleigh taking over our lives, I suddenly became tired – even though I was sleeping more than usual. This probably had something to do with the fact that I was involved with a huge relocation at work, demolishing the kitchen, demolishing and rebuilding what became the nursery, and generally running around like those proverbial headless chickens. Nevertheless, it threw off my body’s natural disinterest in sleep.

Second, once Kayleigh did arrive I found out that sleeplessness due to a baby is completely different from sleeplessness due to work, video games, horror movies, or moderate levels of alcohol. Our “night times” became ridiculously long – heading to bed by 7 PM and getting out of bed around after 7 AM – yet we only got a couple hours of sleep each night. Pretty soon we were scheduling our own naptimes with rather limited success, seeing as how she did not want to cooperate.

Of course nothing is constant with kids – babies that sleep well for months can suddenly start getting up every 2 hours – and as time went by Kayleigh learned to sleep through the night… wait… no. This has been pretty constant. She doesn’t like to sleep. At least not unless she’s in our arms. Otherwise it’s a bit of a struggle. We’ve had her in a bassinet, in a pack ‘n play, on the couch, in her crib, with us in our bed. It’s just not her thing. She wants to be awake and hanging out with the ‘rents. On the one hand I’m flattered, but on the other I’m tired. Actually, both hands are tired.

And so we continue to fiddle with her schedule, musical accompaniment, rocking rhythms, and chloroform dossage to take another step closer to that mythical being known as the child that sleeps through the night. Sigh. Actually, these days we’ve got her back in her crib after taking about a month off from it, and now that she can stretch out without headbutting Daddy the first half of the night is going much more smoothly. And that means that we can now take advantage of the time to get some sleep of our own. Or, you know, watch some TV, read message boards, and take stupid quizzez on Facebook. Yeah, now that Kayleigh is learning more about the wonders of sleep, maybe it’s time we get back to it, too.

I’ve rambled enough with no real point, but at least I’ve broken the seal again. Maybe I can figure out how to get posts in regularly during the 10 minutes that I’m not at work, taking care of Kayleigh, or sleeping. Well, maybe sleep really isn’t that important…

Home Alone

The Woman has left. You see, she got a job. Not that she really wants to be working so soon, but an opportunity arose that she couldn’t pass up. Teaching massage 3 nights a week but only 2 hours each night. And not that far from home, either. But now that leaves me home. At night. Alone. To take care of Kayleigh.

Of course, as with most timing in our lives, this job came just a tad prematurely. In another 3 months it would have been a complete nobrainer. As it stands, we… well, she… is in the middle of teaching our little girl about the wonders of sleeping for hours on end at nighttime. This is a wonder that we used to both enjoy and would like to get back to enjoying. Unfortunately, Kayleigh doesn’t completely understand this yet, thus my stress levels jump through the roof every time I hear her little grunts or sighs come over the monitor.

But that’s nighttime parenting. Living in fear that your baby will start fussing when you want them to sleep. Oh, and when they aren’t fussing? You poke and prod them until they do to make sure they’re alright. It’s brilliant! Much like the arguments I have with Kayleigh when she is over tired: “But honey, you’re sleepy. You need sleep. We want you to sleep. If you just go to sleep, everybody, including you, will be happy. Why won’t you just go to sleep?”

It’s like they say, there’s just no reasoning with kids. Especially when they lack any kind of verbal skills beyond the occasional “Enh!” Personally I think she really does understand these debates I have with her. Something in the way she smiles after we give up trying to get her to nap because she insists on crying the instant her head touches the mattress. That smile almost looks like a smirk, like she’s about to wink at me over The Woman’s shoulder to make sure I know that she fooled us again.

And so we come back to the idea of teaching her how to sleep. Training, really. Training? What is she, a dog? Well, we do clean up her poop, try to get her to walk on all fours, give her things to chew on, and watch her play with a squeaky toy… the line between baby and pet is beginning to blur. I’m starting to feel bad about all of those jokes I made about keeping her in the guinea pig cage.

Perhaps I’m pushing my luck just by clacking away on the keyboard, but she’s been sleeping in her crib for the past hour while I’ve been glued to bed waiting for the first signs of distress. That last sigh to come over the airwaves certainly sounded like her typically sleeping sigh. Maybe I can at least put my head back on the pillow… to sleep, perchance to dream?

My baby is cuter than yours

Two posts into the month already and I’m sure you’re all just thinking, “Where the hell are the pictures of that kid?!?!” Lots of photos having actually been, not only taken, but printed and shared with family members. Shocking!!! But true! So yes, I have taken thousands of photos of Kayleigh already. By the time she’s a teenager she’ll probably hate the fact that we have documented proof that she slept with her mouth wide open or her tush up in the air. But that’s my job as her father, to do embarrassing (and threatening) things in front of every boy that so much as glances in her direction.

Anyway, most of what I’ve processed thus far has been family-type photos – not too many that I’m in a rush to post on the web. But we did do this one “photoshoot”. Kind of a complement to the flowery shot I posted on her 1 month birthday – it’s another adorable dress provided by the same co-worker of mine. And to give you an idea of just how cute/adorable/beautiful/amazing my little girl is, here are a select few:

Yeah, she really is this good at posing for pictures

The smile!

Look at the little foot in the background

As you can see, I’ve had more pressing matters than this website. And I know, everybody thinks their little baby is the cutest – but I have photographic evidence to back me up!