The Daughter Chronicles

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Today is Mia's birthday. That means that I have been a father for three years today. That also means that my life has been completely different for three years. I often think about being a father and what it means.

Parenthood is something no one can prepare you for. Not even owning a pet can prepare you for it. I always think of Keanu in the movie of the same name as this post, and how he says you need a license to do pretty much anything, but any asshole can have a child. Good point, Ted! People seem to think parenting is easy, and that your life won't change. This frustrates me, because Krys and I spent a lot of years together not having children because we were too selfish and knew we weren't ready for the responsibility. I'm not saying we're the greatest parents, but at least we knew that we would have to stop doing most of the things we enjoyed if we chose to have children. You can't understand how completely your life will change. You are responsible for an almost completely helpless human being. It's an astonishing and daunting experience, and it is not something to be taken lightly.

This past weekend at Mia's party, I was talking to one of the guests about a relatively new parent we both know. This parent has been whining that she has to go to sleep early these days because she has to get up so early. Well, tough. I have heard of parents keeping their kids up late because they don't want to get up early. Unbelievable. If you aren't ready to be a parent, don't have kids. Here's what being a parent is all about:

1. No sleep. Forget it. Once you put the kids to bed (hopefully before eight in the evening), you have to get ready for the next day. Then, you have to go to bed, because the baby will be up quite often at night and the toddler will be awake early in the morning.
2. Lack of communication. Speaking to children is amazingly frustrating. Okay, Mia is a special case, but all kids act like they understand you, and then they go do their own things anyway. Yes, high schoolers do this, but at least with them, you know they know what you're saying and are just being jerks. Jerks I can deal with.
3. No social life. One of the reasons Krys and I didn't have kids earlier is because we loved going out. We liked seeing movies and going to the theater. We wanted to be swingin' in our 20s, man! It was wall-to-wall orgies, drugs, overthrowing small South American republics, devaluing currencies worldwide, and wiping out various species of endangered animals. Since Mia was born, it's all ended. This year we have seen two movies in the theater, and we haven't seen a play since Mia was born. Of course, we live in the cultural wasteland of Phoenix, but occasionally they have good theater. Many people pass their kids off on their parents so they can continue with the social life they have become accustomed to, but although we can't do that because our parents live 2000 miles away, even if they were around, we wouldn't do it. You will have no social life for the next 15 or so years if you become a parent. Deal with it.
4. A completely screwed-up schedule. Kids live by their own schedules. Sure, you can get them onto a schedule, but it will still mess yours up. We don't eat dinner at a normal time, partly because of the kids. Get Tivo, because television schedules don't often coincide with kids' schedules.

This makes it sound like I'm bitter, I'm aware. I'm not. The three years since Mia was born have been the most wonderful in my life. Despite living in hell and, well, a rather inconvenient automobile accident, it has been superb. I wouldn't change anything (well, maybe I wouldn't have taken Mia for a ride on 18 April 2003, but that's water under the bridge). All of the incoveniences about being a parent, the joy you feel outweighs them all. I know people who don't seem very happy about being a parent. Maybe some people feel that way about me! I don't understand it, though. It is a truly awesome experience. Mia and Norah drive me crazy, but they give me such a great feeling when I think about them and interact with them.

I'm not the greatest father, I'll admit. I get angry at them, and I probably don't make Mia work as often as she should, and when I can't figure out what to do with them, I take them to the mall. The mall rules. But I love them both, and I wish people would treat parenting more seriously. Your life will change completely. You can't expect to do the same things you once did. And that's not a bad thing.

Monday, August 29, 2005

My girl wants to party all the time

Mia had a birthday party on Saturday. Her birthday is tomorrow (30 August) but that's a Tuesday - you can't have a party on a Tuesday! So we had it on Saturday.

It was fun. I e-mailed a bunch of people and invited them, but only did it a week in advance - we weren't sure if we were going to have one, and decided too late to send out invitations. On Saturday we weren't sure if anyone was going to come. We had confirmations from a few people, but who knows with people anymore? Who knows???

Finally, people showed up. Well, her speech therapist showed up, because Saturday is her normal day to see Mia. So that was fun - she had some good stuff to eat and then got some cake in her. Surprisingly enough, she doesn't really like cake that much - she did long ago, but those days are gone. We're not sure why, either - she likes pudding, which is sweet, but not cake anymore. We're not that terribly upset.

Yazil showed up with her daughter Alondra, whom I had never met, so that was fun. Yazil claims her daughter misbehaved, but she didn't really - she's just 14 months old and likes to explore everything. One of my old bosses came, as did Mia's old caretaker from her day care. She loves Mia (who doesn't, really?) and is always happy to see her. We hung out for a while, and then we went outside and ate grilled meats. Mia and Alondra sat by the pool with their feet in the water. Alondra splashed a great deal, and Mia looked at her as if to say "You really should be more mature." Mia often takes this attitude with other kids - it's weird. It's kind of like because she can't do all sorts of things, she looks on with derision at those who can. I wish she could splash and crawl and jump, of course, but it's kind of funny to look at her when she is observing others. She can be such a goofball, but when other kids are around, she's all business.

She went to take a nap and we hung out for a bit, and then all the guests left. A few minutes later my friend Monika showed up with her family. She has two kids, one a month younger than Mia and the other eight months old, and she lives in Surprise, which is on the other side of the stupid basin, so they took a while getting here. Mia woke up and played with the two kids for a bit. By the time they left she was actually starting to loosen up a little bit and have some fun. "Fun" for her meant pointing at Jakob's head (he's the three-year-old) and saying "Heaaaa ..." which is her word for "head." She likes doing that to anyone within range.

She cleaned up in the present department, as usual. We spoil her rotten, we know, but she's the Queen of the Universe, so she deserves it. She got a bunch of new toys, so Krys began the arduous task of rotating her toys out of the living room and into the bedroom. It's hard work! She also got a grip of clothes.¹

We were a little disappointed that some other people couldn't come. We heard back from a few who couldn't make it, and Roxy and Father Rasputin had to cancel at the last minute, but we really only have ourselves to blame for not giving people more lead time. Oh well. Mia had a grand old time, and then yesterday she went in the pool, which she loves, so it was a good weekend all around.

Norah, as usual, hung out and drank. She doesn't do much else. She is, however, starting to like lying in her gymini. Other than that, it's eating, sleeping, and pooping. She has a full schedule!

¹ Check out my use of the street lingo! "Grip" means a lot.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


South Phoenix, 2 a.m. The temperature has dipped to 87 degrees Fahrenheit, but the heat still rises upward from the miles and miles of blacktop like a hammer. Somewhere in the distance a police siren wails. The half-moon slides from behind scudding clouds to shine its lambent light down on a deserted warehouse. From within comes the stir of high-pitched voices.

The warehouse belongs to Manuel Escalante, who owns most of the block. Mr. Escalante immigrated to Phoenix in 1966 with nothing but $1.33 and a dream of owning a block of deserted warehouses. After years of working "at jobs no American would do," Mr. Escalante had saved up enough money to marry, sire seven adorable children, and buy a whole block of warehouses. He promptly moved to Scottsdale, enrolled his children in the best Catholic schools, and ran for State Representative. His platform was stopping illegal immigration. "Those wetbacks need to be stopped!" was his rallying cry. He won in a landslide.

But Mr. Escalante had a dark side. A side that no one knew about. A side he thought he left back in Sonora. And one day, he received a knock on the door from someone who, somehow, had discovered his dark side. That person didn't want money. That person didn't want recognition. That person simply wanted the use of one of Mr. Escalante's warehouses for one night a month, rent-free, without any outside interference. Mr. Escalante knew he was getting off easily; he took the deal without even worrying about it.

So that is why, at two o'clock in the morning, there are voices coming from the abandoned warehouse in south Phoenix. Mr. Escalante wants to know nothing about what is happening, and his life would probably be in danger if he ever gained any knowledge about it. However, the story needs to be told. It is that important.

The small child stands at the podium and bangs the gavel for order. All the other children come to attention and titter gleefully when they think about how their parents shout and threaten to get their attention. The small child at the front speaks:

"Those of you who have been here before, welcome back. Those who haven't, welcome to the 56th Annual meeting of the Southwest Babies, Toddlers, and Youngsters Association to Drive Parents Insane. My name is Madison, and I'm five. I have the honor of being the chairperson of this event. Now, without further ado, since some parents will be waking soon, let's hear some of your latest ideas."

A two-year-old raises his hand. "My name is Kodey." "Hi, Kodey," everyone chimes in. Kodey stands. "My parents have five other children. I'm the youngest. My brothers are named Karlson and Kooper, and my sisters are Kasey, Kendra, and Kiki. All our middle names begin with 'P'."

The crowd hisses the bad pattern of names. Kodey looks like he's about to cry, but he composes himself. "Whenever my parents try to feed me, I throw the food in their faces. They think it's cute. Whenever they change me, I pee everywhere. Again, the cuteness. Whenever my mother takes her eyes off of me, I place a collander on my head and run at top speed into any hard surface I can find. She cooes and calls me 'Mr. Tough Guy.' I'm at the end of my tether. How can I punish my parents for naming us all this way?"

Madison sighs. "I'm a girl named after a president, Kodey. I know where you're coming from. May I suggest you find whatever your parents consider valuable and just start smashing it? That might get their attention."

Kodey says, "Everything valuable was locked up long ago."

Another girl raises her hand. "Hi, I'm Susan. Kodey, your siblings are crucial allies in this battle. First, you make sure that your parents think you hate each other. Then, while you're wrestling over the pudding, mention that you need the keys to the cabinets. This will go up the food chain to the older siblings, who have easier access to the keys. One day the cabinets will mysteriously open. Be ready for it."

Kodey thanks everyone for their help. A devastatingly cute three-year-old raises her hand. Madison acknowledges her.

"Hi, I'm Mia. I would just like to share some things that make my father insane. Whenever he gets me food, I know the fun is about to begin. I love chili. And lentils. And all sorts of crackers. I also like sweet potatoes and squash. However, when my father gives me those things more than one day in a row, I find it amusing to pretend I don't like them. He rants and raves about how I liked them yesterday but not today and how he doesn't understand it. I can actually see the veins in his eyes start to expand and give him a headache. It rocks."

The crowd claps appreciatively. The small baby next to Mia raises her hand. Madison nods in her direction.

"Hi, I'm Norah. I'm Mia's little sister. I'm only two months old, but I've already been taking some lessons from my big sis. For instance, whenever my daddy feeds me, I'm happy. He holds me in his arms and gives me the bottle, and I gently drift off to sleep. Then, when he goes to put me in the bassinet, I wake up immediately. It's a hoot! I can easily sleep in the bassinet, I just like to mess with him. He picks me back up and starts feeding me again, and it's a simple case of repeat as necessary. I can go all day with it. It never gets old."

She high-fives Mia and they both start laughing like mad dictators. The crowd roars in approval. Madison waits until they all calm down.

"It sounds like you have some real winners, there, girls. I'm sure your dad will be insane before long."

Mia smiles. "We get the cats to puke on the carpet, too, even though there's plenty of tiled floor in the house."

That seals the deal. The crowd of children cheers long into the night. When they finally subside, Madison addresses them once again.

"We've heard some very productive ideas from Mia and Norah. I hope everyone was taking notes. Now, does anyone have anything else to share ...?"


So now we know. Don't let them know we've figured it out! Terrible retribution will come if the children know we know their secret! But understand this: they are organized, and they are ruthless. Stay on your toes!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Mia at school

I mentioned that last week was Mia's first week at school. I have been busy, so I haven't posted about it. But now it's Sunday afternoon, both kids are sleeping, Krys is shopping, Rush Hour is on the television, and I figured it's about time.

She loved it. I knew she would. I took her to school on Monday (she attends Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 9.15-11.45 in the morning) and dropped her off. She just waved to send me on my way. Krys still thinks it's a bad idea to put her on the bus, and I'll take her for a while, but I don't think she'll have any problem with it. She's in a class with only five other kids, all boys, which is nice, because we want her to get some good attention. So the teacher and the aide came out (she meets the class outside) and I left her. I doubt she even noticed I was gone.

It's kind of nice having her out of the house. Even though she's much more interesting than Norah, because Norah doesn't have much of a personality, I still like to bond with Norah and hang out with her and get on her good side so she doesn't hate me anymore. It's also nice for Mia, I think, to hang out with kids her own age and get out of the house more. So it works for all concerned.

They love her at school, of course. Having therapists from the time she was eight or so months old has really helped her interact well with adults, so that she is not freaked out at all by strange newcomers. While I was waiting for her to come out of school on Monday, a teacher came out and told me how delightful she is. She really does has a wonderful personality, so I'm not surprised she is digging school. The teacher told me she played outside and sung and ate some crackers. This week they also worked on saying "pop," and Mia enjoyed it a lot. We have been working on "p" sounds with her speech therapist, so this dovetailed nicely with that. She has been coloring and going on the swings, and basically having a grand old time.

The interesting thing about the class is the kids in it. I'm dying to know what is "wrong" with these kids. The five other kids can all walk, and although it doesn't seem that they can speak too well, they're only three. They are probably special ed. because of the fact that they can't talk, which is fine. We wanted Mia to be in a class with kids who were higher-functioning than she was because then they could motivate her to work, and it appears that ALL these kids are higher-functioning. I haven't spent enough time listening to them to see about their communication skills, but at least they can walk, and we hope that will inspire Mia to walk. She really enjoys cruising around in her gait trainer, so we're hoping this pushes her even harder.

She has been out of her wheelchair quite a bit, which is good, because we don't want her confined in it all the time. The school has a small chair that offers her some decent support, and she hangs out in that and uses crayons and snacks. The school does not have a gait trainer yet, but the teacher told me the in-house physical therapist is looking into it. That would be helpful.

I haven't actually been into the classroom during the class yet, although I want to hang out at least once. I might have to call a babysitter this week and drop by and hide in the corner so Mia doesn't see me. I don't necessarily want to be a nosy parent, but I would like to observe just once to check out the scene. That's just the kind of guy I am.

I'm glad she's enjoying school. I had no doubts that she would, but it's still nice to see. We think this will be a great help to her.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

We call her Smiley Pete

Norah is eight weeks old tomorrow, and she's starting to exhibit a bit of a personality, which is nice. Nicest is that she has begun smiling.

When babies are first born, they don't smile. For the first few weeks of life, they might look like they're smiling, but it's just gas. At about six weeks they can see far enough to see other people smiling and they are able to control their facial muscles a little more. Norah is at that stage. When we are holding her and she is not eating, occasionally she's in a good mood. When that happens, if we talk to her and smile at her, and she smiles back. She gazes up at us and smiles and makes little gurgly noises in her throat, which are happy noises, we guess. She only makes them when she is smiling, so that's how we interpret them. She doesn't do it often, because usually she's eating or crying because she wants to eat, and of course, she hates me and everything I stand for, but when she does smile, it's very cool. Babies are ridiculously boring, because they don't do anything. Mia is much more interesting, because she has a great personality. Norah has finally started showing that she is more than a drinking, sleeping, pooping machine, and that's very cool.

She is still having diarrhea, and it's quite frustrating. We still are not sure what to do, since two trips to the doctor haven't helped. We may have to take her back, but it appears the worst of it has passed, so maybe it will be better soon. The past two days have been horrible, because she can't sleep very comfortably. Today has been a bit better. Being a baby sucks in a lot of ways, man!

Mia is doing well at school. I will have a little more to say on the subject later, but not a lot, since I'm not actually in the classroom with her. Her teachers love her, though. Who doesn't?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Big day today!

It's Mia's first day of school! I will be very curious to see how she does. Much more later ...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Home Alone!: Days One, Two, and Three

Well, I've been home alone with the two children for three days, and I'm not dead yet. More importantly, neither are they.

It hasn't been as scary as I thought it would be. It's no fun, I'll give you that, but it's not terribly scary. My biggest concern was when I needed to deal with Mia but Norah was not sleeping. Norah digs the crying, and although I have the remarkable talent you must develop as a parent of totally ignoring a screaming child, I know that I have to take care of her eventually. Mia can deal with things pretty well on her own, but she gets bored, just like any other almost-3-year-old, and when she's stuck on the floor, she can get pretty loud in her own right.

So it's been a small challenge, but not as bad as I thought it would be. On Monday Mia had Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy, so that killed a couple of hours. Mia also likes standing in her gait trainer, so that kills an hour. She is also very good at napping. She goes down around one o'clock and sleeps until 4.30. I actually have to wake her up or she would sleep longer. So that's kind of cool. Norah is getting a little better at lying in her bassinet for a little bit, so I can actually put her down for ten minutes or so while I feed Mia, which is a difficult thing to pull off. Once Mia goes down for her nap, I don't care if Norah wakes up. Last week she was sleeping all afternoon, but of course, this week it's different.

On Sunday Norah got diarrhea. Groovy. On Monday she slept but kept waking up because she was pooping. No fun. It's not that big a deal, but it's frustrating because she's tired but can't sleep. So on Tuesday I called the pediatrician and off we went. The doctor said she was okay, because she didn't have anything else that would indicate anything worse than an infection. Since then she's been drinking the Nutramigan Lipil, which is $25 bucks for a container. We got it for free from the doctor, and he said she probably won't have to be on it longer than the rest of the week, so that's cool. When she's feeling better we're going to go back to the regular formula that is milk-based, because she's been on the soy and we think that might be messing her up. We thought she might be lactose intolerant, but we're going to try it again. What the hell.

The nice thing is for the past two days, she has been napping from about 2.30-3 o'clock until 6 or so. That gives me time to get Mia up and play with her a little and get her ready to eat, and when Krys comes home she can deal with Norah. Krys is depressed whenever she has to work because she doesn't get to spend a lot of time with the children. So the fact that Norah is sleeping a little later is fine, because then she stays up a little longer and Krys can hang out with her. It's quarter to nine right now and Norah has been napping on Krys for about fifteen minutes and she's about to go down for the night (we hope). It makes the wife happy to hang with the children.

I have to survive for two more days. On Monday Mia goes to school for three days a week, so that will give me a bit of a break. Norah digs going out, just like Mia does, so today I went to the mall for a while and they were both happy. I'm sure I was quite the sight with Mia in the wheelchair and Norah in the carrier hanging from my chest. I'm Mr. Mom!

It's so nice that I haven't gone insane yet. Or maybe I'm so insane I don't even realize it! But at least the kids haven't killed me yet. Or have they ...?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Teaching them quid pro quo at such a young age

Ah, the children. So innocent, so fresh, so full of vim and vigor and unaffected by the darkening cynicism of our age. Well, we need to get that out of them as soon as possible, and Mia is learning. Slowly.

We have been teaching her the principle of quid pro quo. In the morning, when she chows down on Kix, she also has to drink. Drinking is not her thing. Therefore, I have started giving her one nugget of Kix (exactly what is one piece of Kix called, anyway?) and then giving her a cup with juice in it. If she would rather not drink, I explain to her that she cannot have Kix without taking a drink. Usually she understands, or she just gets bored with me talking and decides the drink will be more interesting (I'm inclined toward the latter). So we go back and forth - a nugget, a drink, etc. Occasionally this lesson needs to be reinforced. This morning she didn't want to drink, so I patiently explained it to her again. Then all was well. She usually puts away a entire juice box at breakfast.

She would eat Kix until she exploded. It's practically the only non-sweet thing she will eat unequivocally. Today she said "Kix" quite clearly, so that was nice. New words are always cool.

I enjoy teaching her real-world lessons like, "Nothing's free, man." She must lose that delightful innocence where everyone loves her and gives her things, no strings attached. She must learn, and always remember in the back of her mind: "No Kix until I do something Daddy wants." Then she will be a bitter adult who always looks for ulterior motives. And isn't that what we want?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

More photos ... because I can!

It hasn't been too long since I posted pictures of the children, but I just had a roll of film developed, so you will be subjected to more of them! Bwah-ha-ha-ha!

Here's Mia standing. This is a better picture than the last one, I think. Posted by Picasa

This is Norah in the Gymani, which her aunt Shauna bought for Mia. She doesn't really enjoy it yet. We hope she will soon, because it's neat. Posted by Picasa

I mentioned that Norah takes a nap on her stomach. Here's a picture. Posted by Picasa

This is Norah at night, wrapped up like a burrito. Posted by Picasa

I already put a picture of Mia up with her hair down, but I like this one better. She's happier. Posted by Picasa

Mia and Grandma in the pool. Mia really likes the pool. Posted by Picasa

Grandma and Grandpa with the kids. We couldn't convince them to take the children with them. Posted by Picasa

I mentioned that Mia is walking a little better. Here she is! Posted by Picasa

Mia loves hanging out with Norah. She finds Norah screaming really amusing. We do not share this attitude. Posted by Picasa

Smokey digs the bassinet. He's quite upset that we don't allow this anymore. Posted by Picasa

Finally, after a rough day of ... well, watching Krys do most of the work, let's be honest, it's time to sleep! Until next time, enjoy the pictures! Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 01, 2005

The perfect storm

Parenting multiple children is made up of perfect storm moments. One such occurred this morning around 6 a.m. Mia woke up early and started screeching in her bed. This is not a bad thing, as they are happy screeches, but they are annoying. Despite their somewhat happy tone, they are also "I'm bored" screeches, so one of us has to go in quickly to get her. Norah decided that her early morning feeding wasn't enough to put her back to sleep, so she was wailing. Smokey threw up, to add some charm to the proceedings. So I had to give Mia a toy to play with and hope she didn't throw it on the floor (which she does, often), get showered, and get her up while Krys dealt with Norah. The child wants to eat constantly, so she has still not gone back to sleep. Krys goes back to work next week, so we'll see how that works. We keep threatening to sell one of them to the gypsies. They are unimpressed with our threats.

So now Mia is watching a Baby Einstein video (Baby Da Vinci, if you're interested) while in her gait trainer (to build up her muscles, I swear - not to give Daddy a break!), Norah is in the bassinet screaming her head off, and Krys really wants to get in the shower. Ah, the joys of parenting. Anyone want them?