Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Handbags, Shoes and Older Boys.

My daughter naturally gravitates to all of the above. When we go to the playground and if a older boy is around she will turn on her charm. She has this ability to talk to anyone. I often refer to it as if she is running for public office. I don't have a single grey hair but, I am sure that will change as she gets older. Elle's favorite things at this moment are dinosaurs, books, soccer, golf, football and playing the piano. So we'll see if one of those things negates the handbags, shoes and older boys.

"Surprise, I made a cake and Dad helped a little."

I enjoy cooking and I try to include Elle. Pineapple upside down cake was a recipe I was looking forward to trying out. Looking through an old Puerto Rican cookbook and assorted recipe sites I realized they all called for massive amount of butter and sugar. I decided the best tactic was just to wing it. I filled Elle in on the plan for creating the cake. She was on board and thought it would make for a nice surprise for her Mommy when she got home from work. Off to the supermarket we went to collect our supplies. We got home with our organic vanilla cake mix, pineapple slices and brown sugar. I set-up the supplies and measured out all the ingredients. Elle got herself ready hands washed, apron and step stool in place. With quite concentration she combined all the ingredients. Elle neatly placed the pineapples in the cake mold and sprinkled brown sugar in the gaps the pineapples didn't cover. I set the pans in the oven so the brown sugar would melt. Then the mixing started. We don't have a cake mixer so it took a bit of elbow grease to get the mix started. Once I got it going I let Elle mix her heart out. I retrieved the cake molds from the oven and we poured the cake mix in. Back in the oven they went. Thirty minutes later Elle's surprise for Mommy was ready. Ten more minutes and I could flip them over. I flipped the cakes out Elle's eyes grew. "Wow, those cakes look so yummy, can I have the pineapple upside down cake now?" I had to remind her it was a surprise for Mommy and we could have some after dinner as a treat for her good work. As we waited at the train station for my wife Elle couldn't wait to tell her what she made. Once my wife entered the car Elle blurted out "Surprise, I made a cake and Dad helped a little." I was happy to help a little.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Nasty Squirrel

My daughter has an enemy, she calls him the Nasty Squirrel. It all start around spring-time after we had planted our garden. Elle was very excited about the fruits and vegetables that where yet to come. Her prized possessions were three strawberry plants that we placed in a planter. Everyday she would ask if the strawberries were ready yet and when would they be ready to eat. After a few weeks of waiting the first strawberries were about to be ready.  She couldn't contain her happiness at the prospect of picking the first ones. A day or so had passed and two of the prized strawberries were ready, she jumped up and down with glee. She carefully picked the two berries and ran with me back to the kitchen to rinse them off. Before I could even dry them they had disappeared into her mouth. She had experienced strawberries before, but a certain glow was on her face because these strawberries were special. Elle was ready to run out and grab more, unfortunately she had to wait. In the next twenty-four hours her enemy would present himself. On the day Elle was chomping at the bit to get out to the garden. Right before our eyes inside the planter with the prized strawberries was a squirrel. He popped his head up and engaged Elle in a stare down. Elle was frozen in her tracks. I think she was taking a quick mental count of all the missing strawberries and then it pieced together. She screamed, "No, he took my strawberries.  Give them back, those are my strawberries". At the moment the squirrel took often, maybe sensing the rage he had just unleashed. Elle was distraught, in her world view this was a true disaster. I had to scoop her up and try to calm her down. She was truly fired up. As soon as her Mom got in the door from work, Elle came charging towards her, words racing out of her mouth about the great injustice that was committed against her. It took several times of asking her to slow down for her Mom to get the whole story. As parents, we had to solve this problem. So during dinner we devised a plan. After dinner we all went out to the garden. Elle got heated again once she saw the scene of the crime. We did our best to reassure her that we had a way of keeping the squirrel out. Elle quickly corrected us and said, "no he's the Nasty Squirrel and he's mean". Stakes and a mesh net were placed securely around the planter. We thought this would work. The strawberries grew back again and so did Elle's excitement. Her enemy was just lying in wait. He struck, leaving a red strawberry stained hole in the mesh net. Elle again was consumed by what had happened to her precious strawberries. Every where we went for the next few weeks she told anyone she encountered about the Nasty Squirrel and how he took all of her strawberries. To this day, almost on a daily basis, she has encounters with her enemy. He will perch himself on top of the fence post wringing his hands and engage Elle in an intense stare down. She will say, "there's the Nasty Squirrel, he has to leave, I will boo him away".  I think until her strawberries grow back in peace she will have a nemeses.  

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Borders toy department

Elle and I where on a mission to find a book about dinosaurs. I chose Borders because I had a decent coupon. Elle has been on a dinosaur kick of late and I am in need of a re-education on my knowledge of the different types. I thought it would be an easy in and out stop. We had a focused purpose and she was excited about getting her prized book. I had not been to a chain bookstore in a while so I was ill prepared for what we walked into. We arrived and made way over to the kids section. I had made a futile attempt to browse the books for myself. But, I was pulled away by the excitement of my toddler. "Come on dad, we have to find the dinosaur book, these are not dinosaur books". She was right, as she would say "silly dad". As we approached our destination I noticed more toys than books. Elle dropped my hand and did a complete 360, I could see her chin drop and her eyes race around the room not knowing what to focus on first. She stopped at one shelf just glancing briefly at the book and without as much as a thought reaching for the toys placed at the bottom of shelf. I quickly reminded her that she could look but not touch. I think it was stimulation overload. She moved from one display to another. Filled with excitement she would shriek "daddy look at this, oh and look at that". I tried to bring the focus back by reminding her of the dinosaur book that we had to find. I am grateful that she doesn't have toy fits when are at stores. But, it was feeling a bit like a toy store. The store was stocked with the movie and TV show tie in toys and educational toys. Nicely placed next to educational books was 5 x 8 double sided bin of assorted small grab-able toys. Elle's hands started flying, grabbing at these little pieces of joy. I had to scoop her up. Then I had to give a stern warning, "we look and we don't grab, next time we leave, now let's go find the dinosaur book". I get the sad face from her and the low toned "OK, daddy". So we reset and ended up heading over to the bargain section. Toy free and three dinosaur books to choose from. She made a quick pick and we got what we came for and she was happy. All in all ok. But, now I know where to go for toys.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Master of the Potty

Potty training has been an interesting experience. When Elle hit the two year mark in January we decided to ramp up our efforts to get her potty trained. We purchased a pink potty training device and set up shop in the bathroom. Elle quickly picked up on what the potty was and what you are suppose to do on the potty. Now came the challenge of actually trying to get her to go on the potty and to hopefully realize when she had to go potty. At first we started slowly by just sitting her down and getting her familiar with act of going to the bathroom to do her business. When I was home with her during the day I was on a forty-five minute routine of taking her up to the bathroom. Sometimes we would have success and she was very excited by her achievement. Other times I would just completely miss it. I would ask her why she went in her diaper and she would reply various ways. One that always amused me was, "I just felt like it" or "I like to". So how do you overcome "I like to". My wife and I went through different sites and books to see if we should try another tactic. We made a sticker chart and would give her one every time she did her business. The excitement soon faded on her part. So we gave up on that chart. Time for a new chart. We were not sold on the jelly bean reward method. Elle's grandfather was convinced that he could get it done in a day with a jar of jelly beans. The second take on the chart was going to work. If Elle made it the whole day without an accident, a shiny smiley face sticker was rewarded. When the chart was completely filled she would get a party. We ditched the pink potty and stepped it up to an attachment that went on top of the toilet seat. Elle was not pleased but, we explained that she was a big girl and could use the big potty. As an added incentive, she could start wearing big girl undies. The new program started strong. I soon noticed Elle was on a pattern of three days with no accidents then another three with slip ups at the very end of the day. The chart was not filling up as quickly as I envisioned. We were feeling a little frustrated. We knew she had the capability but, it just wasn't clicking for whatever reason. We went through a couple months of just ups and downs. Finally last month something clicked. She started using the potty all the time and even telling us every time she needed to go. So, the chart is fourteen spots away from getting filled. Next challenge on the plate getting her to sleep in her own bed.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My journey through fatherhood

I am a thirty year old stay at home dad. My daughter is two years old and her her name is Elle. I have been a stay at home dad for a year now. Various factors came into play leading me to be at home with Elle. I never could have imagined that I would be at this station in my life. But, I feel truly lucky to have this time with her. To see the changes in her from a year ago just amaze me. Not just the physical changes but, really her mental development has been a joy and continues to be. I wanted to start this blog a year ago but, for whatever reason I didn't. I really just want to chronicle our time together. Hopefully share laughs, observations and life.
*Elle @eight months,when I could carry her around in the back carrier.