Friday, January 17, 2014


Everybody has it.  All adults have it, some just decide to suppress it, or had it forcefully suppressed in childhood.  Mine, thankfully, is still intact.  It's one gift from my childhood that I never lost.  I HAD to be brother was a trouble child and absorbed most all of my mother's attention; and while she didn't want to, and now feels horrible about it, she had to leave me to play by myself while she prevented my brother from hurting himself or destroying the house in one way or another. My whole life I've been obsessed with taking things apart (I'm better at putting them back together now though) and figuring out how they work, or just doing research on them.  Lego's were and still are a huge standby for me.  Even now it strikes me as odd that most of the people I know won't bother to take a second glance at something to figure out what is wrong with whatever they are using/doing, and they bring it to me to fix.  Most of the time it takes a couple of seconds...

However, this is one of the many things that I am so proud of as Kaylee's dad. I made it my mission from the beginning to not stifle her curiosity, and help her develop her free thinking. You don't need to MAKE a child a free thinker, or curious; just stand aside and their imagination will take over.  It's built in, you just need to let it flow and not build a dam around it.

I'm proud of the fact that regardless of Kaylee's mood, what she's doing, or how mad she is,  I can always grab her full attention and redirect her by striking her curiosity.  If she doesn't want to brush her teeth, and gets really angry about it, all I have to do is pull an interesting fact out of my head about anything related (like what teeth are made of, what plaque does, how tastebuds work, etc.) and she'll gladly sit and get her teeth brushed while listening.  Even at her worst, when we were in the hospital for a week when she had meningitis, I was able to make her feel at ease.  She was super worried about the MRI.  All it took was one mention of seeing pictures of her brain afterwards (and a few other facts about how they work), and she was all over it.

Here we were planting seeds (aka yogurt covered raisins and some change from my pocket).  As you can see, it wasn't the BEST hour to be doing this, and certainly not the most productive thing at the time; but Kaylee had the idea, and it just sounded fun.  We had a blast.

I'm proud of the fact that Legos are Kaylee's (and my) favorite toy to play with. We've spent countless hours building whole scenarios of pirates, hospitals, space ships (above is the house-ship we built together) and tons of other stuff.  If I ever want to, all I have to do is say "Hey Kaylee, wanna go play with Legos?" and she runs and gets the Lego bucket out.

One of my favorite people, Neil deGrasse Tyson, said "Kids are BORN curious...they are walking around, over turning rocks, plucking leaves off trees and petals off flowers...doing things that create disorder in the lives of the adults around you...and what do adults do? They say 'don't pluck the petals off the flowers, I just spent money on that. Don't play with the egg, it might break'" His advice to parents who ask him how to make their kids more curious is "Get out of their way!...give them things to help them explore...get a pair of binoculars and just leave them there one day. Watch them pick it up, and watch them look around. They will do all kinds of things with it". (If you want to look at an article with a video of this it's here)

 Without realizing it, I've been living by this creed and have been raising Kaylee by this creed since day 1. I didn't HAVE anyone to get in my way.  My mom was a single mother and spent all her time on my brother; but I will continue to stay out of Kaylee's way (that is...on the rare occasion that I'm not exploring with her).  Everyone's heard the saying "Curiosity killed the cat!"  That might be true...but without curiosity, that cat wouldn't have had nearly as much fun in it's life, or discovered half as much.  Why do you think cats are so much more intelligent than dogs?

Friday, December 13, 2013

12 Month Update/ Product Review

So we recently decided to get something that everyone has been crazy about, and that we've heard so much about. It's called the "Newbaby". We got it about a year ago. Most people get theirs at the hospital, but we decided to get ours from a birth center called "Special Beginnings" because they have nicer rooms. You should check them out sometime, it's a pretty great place, and they have top quality Newbabies.

So we got this Newbaby a year ago from 12/6/13. So far it's been pretty great. It poops a TON though. I tried calling their customer support to see if it was normal for that to happen, and they just told me to clear it's history and cookies by changing it's diaper. Didn't really work...but oh well, what can you do? They don't have very good warranty coverage, you pretty much have to take care of everything on your own; and get this, you can't even bring it back! They never gave me a receipt, so I have no proof I got it there. Crazy, I know. IT'S 2013 PEOPLE, GET WITH THE PROGRAM! Anywho...
The thing is pretty durned cute, as is evidenced above. I guess we got pretty lucky with the draw eh? It's been the quietest Newbaby yet, and the easiest to take care of. We've even had other people tell us how wonderful it is! Usually Newbabies tend to cry a whole lot, and it's impossible to tell what they want, but this one seems to communicate VERY well. We can always figure out why it is making noise, and take care of it right away. It points to where it wants to go now, and somehow communicates with grunts and squeaks. At first you have no idea what the f*%k it's trying to say, but eventually you can work out what each sound means. This is probably what it would feel like if we went back in time to take care of a cave man...
It interacts with our current Bigkid pretty well I'd have to say. Sometimes their programming can conflict with the other's, but as long as you keep an eye on them they can't hurt each other TOO badly. They have a pretty strong bond now, so even if I could take it back, I probably wouldn't. I have to say though, watching the different versions play and interact together is very adorable. The Bigkid actually has the ability to teach the Newbaby how to do certain things. It's learning things at a much faster rate because of the teamwork. They sure did a great job in the R&D department when they developed these things. I can't wait for the Newbaby to get updated to a Wobbly Toddler. It's almost there now, and as long as we keep nourishing it, clearing all the crap out (history and cookies), and putting it in sleep mode and taking good care of it, the update will happen all on it's own! 

It's actually starting to walk now! While not only being insanely cute, being able to walk increases it's productivity value exponentially. Soon we will be able to train it to do menial tasks like getting me a beer from the fridge, or clearing it's history in the recycle bin (aka the toilet) instead of all over the desktop. Although, as we have learned from when our Bigkid was running on an earlier version, the ability to walk also increased the amount of things they can destroy, and viruses they can upload to the house. So be careful. You have to be preemptive, and install Adblockers (corner pads and outlet covers); we got a little cautious and even installed a firewall between our kitchen and living room, so the Newbaby can't get in.
Not everything is easy with a Newbaby. For example, here are a few of the issues we've been having 
Has anybody ever seen their Newbaby do this? It's been a recurring issue. The back of the package guaranteed us that it would be free of any defects, but here it seems to be displaying some sort of cannibalistic behavior. I'm pretty sure it's harmless (and downright adorable)
It's also developed this habit of climbing on everything it sees. It moves the object around and puts it in front of different things to try to use it as a boost up. While this is a good sign of intelligence and ingenuity, it seems to be a bit of a programming mishap; as this behavior is very self-destructive, and may end up in the Newbaby being harmed. 

It is sticking EVERYTHING in it's mouth. Irregardless of what it is; food, toys, paper, dirt, pens, markers, etc. It's good that it has a decent appetite, it speeds up the nourishing process. But there should at least be a patch to help it differentiate between items that are food and items that can kill it...seems like a serious programming fail. Maybe they are trying to create repeat business by making sure to have to bring it back to get it repaired? Good thing we got insurance...

 Be aware that liquor needs to be kept in a high place, where objects that are pushable to become stools cannot be placed. This one was sneaking into the liquor cabinet when we weren't looking. We took this picture when we caught it one night as proof to show the company that sold it to us. It's life can't be THAT stressful, can it?
 Keep in mind that no matter how many times you dress your Newbaby, it will attempt to rip the clothes and diaper off with vigor and vim. Which makes it a huge problem when they decide to clear their history and cookies before you can get them dressed.

 As long as you are vigilant though, you can head off any mischief or attempt to hurt itself by keeping a good eye on them. For example, we've noticed a pattern with our Newbaby. Whenever it makes this look, it is 1.3 seconds away from doing something completely unexpected, and most likely dangerous. This particular moment probably has something to do with Aries' tail looking tasty or something.


It's also probably the most photogenic Newbaby ever! It doesn't matter what it is doing/eating/destroying, it always looks super adorable and innocent as an angel. It's perfect for my wife, who loves to take photos. 

All in all, the Newbaby experience has been a great one. There have been some ups and some downs, and some angry calls to Newbaby inc.; but overall we are pretty happy. The Newbaby adds a whole lot of happiness to our family dynamic, because of it's consistently bubbly and excited demeanor. It's super intelligent, and calm as a cucumber. I can't wait to enjoy the time when the Bigkid update comes around, so that our current Bigkid can have a permanent play mate. It's been a fun year, and we are looking forward to many more!