Monday, April 7, 2014

Shayna Goes To Washington!

It's a White House tradition that when you stop working there, you get to take a photo with whoever you worked for. Since my sister worked for both Obamas, she got to schedule an "exit photo" with each of them. The great thing about an exit photo is that you can bring your family along when you take it. So, a few weeks back the whole August clan headed down to Washington to have our photo taken with the Obamas.

Our first photo was with the President in The Oval Office. Meeting the president was pretty cool but to me, the more surreal thing was being in The Oval Office which we've all seen a thousand times on television and in movies. We spent about five minutes with the President, grilling him on when he's finally gonna close Guantanamo Bay. After we solved that issue, we talked a little bit about the new National Geographic series Nova and of course how wonderful my sister was. Shayna was on her best behavior with the President and was nice and calm during the photo. My favorite things that happened while in the Oval Office were:

1. The president's secretary shaking a box of White House M&M's behind the photographer to get the kid's to smile.

2. My nephew Cole walking up to a bowl of apples and stealing one. The President saw him do it and said, "Take one. That's what they're there for."

3. Leaving The Oval Office and Huyen saying, "I just stood next to the President." I mean, Huyen never imagined visiting America when she was growing up, let alone being at The White House. Seeing the look on her face was by far the best thing that day.

After meeting the President we headed over to the East Wing to meet The First Lady. We waited for her in "the map room" which gave Shayna some time to run around and play. When The First Lady came in, she immediately started to chase Shayna round the room. It was very cute. We then spent about ten minutes with FLOTUS who also had some great things to say about my sister. After our photo (which Shayna was not so good posing for) FLOTUS said goodbye and started to leave. My nephew Cole chased after her and The First Lady picked him up and disappeared down a hallway. After about a minute my niece was told she could join them in the hall where the three of them pet the Obama's new dog Sunny.

The whole experience was obviously a once in a lifetime event. Unfortunately we weren't able to use our cameras when meeting the Obamas so we don't have the photo evidence yet. The official White House photographer who took the pictures should be sending them to us in the next month or two. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

14 Months!

Yesterday was the first time that Shayna didn't want to hold my hand when walking. Usually, if I'm in the vicinity, Shayna will reach out to me so we can walk hand-in-hand. However, when we left her day care yesterday she pushed away my hand as if to say, "I don't need you anymore, daddy." Unbelievable. Next thing you know she's gonna be able to change her diaper on her own.

Speaking of diapers, Shayna HATES being changed. This kid is like an ant. I swear she can lift eight times her body weight because when I put her down on the changing table she can fend me off and I weigh a heck of a lot more than she does. We're heading back to Vietnam in a couple of months and Huyen's mom has promised that in two weeks there she'll have Shayna potty trained. I'll believe it when I see it.

This month Grandma and Pop-Pop bought Shayna her first pair of shoes. Whenever we put them on her she just knows it's time to walk.  That said, she also likes to kick them off from time to time. Twice this week we've walked into day care and one of her shoes was MIA. The first time I found the shoe in the car and the second time it was in the street. I know one of these days I'll lose a shoe and it'll join the boot and glove I lost last month. Somewhere there's a kid out there with a lot of mismatched clothing. But clothing isn't the only thing we've lost. A few weeks ago we somehow lost our baby carrier. Long story short Shayna was sleeping in it while we were at ShopRite. Then she woke up and wanted to go in the cart. So we put the baby carrier under the cart and forgot about it until we were unloading groceries at home. I drove back to ShopRite and walked through the store, peeking under people's carts to see if the carrier was there. No luck and I'm pretty sure security now has me on some special list for creepy dudes in their store.

Last weekend, while Shayna was napping, Huyen and I looked through photo albums of our Vietnam motorbike trip and our vacations to Myanmar and Thailand. It's a little weird to look at photos of yourself pre-kid and realize how much life has changed. Someone once said (I can't remember if it was a friend or in a movie or in a book) that you never realize how selfish you are until you have kids. I'm not sure "selfish" is the right word (maybe self-centered) but you definitely don't realize how much you only think about yourself until you've got a little one. But hey, nobody's complaining. In fact, we kept saying while looking at the picture, "I can't wait to take Shayna here."

Thursday, February 6, 2014

We have a walker!


This was the first really challenging month in fatherhood. Shayna has entered a tantrum phase and, well, it's not a lot of fun. If she doesn't get what she wants (or often for no reason at all) she'll throw herself backwards and cry like the world is coming to an end. As with all parenting information, there's two schools of thought on what to do when this happens. Our pediatrician believes that you need to ignore the kid and it'll break the habit. Others believe you need to try and get the kid over the tantrum since they're frustrated that they can't properly communicate what's wrong. I fall somewhere in the middle. At first, we ignored Shayna's tantrums and she would snap out of them pretty quickly. However, there's been a few where she gets herself so worked up it's no longer an act. Her crying turns into the most intense sniveling I've ever heard and she inevitably has snot all over her face and hair. This is generally when I break. If not then, it's when she bangs her head on the ground. We have wooden floors so the noise is like a kick to my stomach every time it happens. The doctor says that the kids won't do it if it actually hurts them. But every time she does it I picture her college dreams going from Harvard to, well, a school that doesn't require you to know how to spell Harvard.

Shayna's day care has canceled school a few times this past month which means I've had her to myself during the day. Don't get me wrong, I love having Shayna all to myself but when she throws a tantrum I wish to god I could have a nanny delivered to my door in thirty minutes or less.

The other day I picked up Shayna from school and one of her classmates was having a terrible tantrum. The teacher said she had been crying nonstop for an hour. I'm clearly a terrible person because I started to smile when she said this. It's nice to know Shayna's not the only one.

Now all that said, when Shayna's not busy being a head banger, it's been tons of fun. A week ago I showed up at school and Shayna immediately stood up and walked to me. It was awesome. Even more awesome is that I got to see her walk before Huyen!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

1 Year!

As I put together this video, I just couldn't stop smiling. And well, that's basically how it's been for the past 365 days. Sure, Huyen and I haven't been to a movie in a year (despite that being my industry). Sure, we've gone out to dinner on our own once in the last year. Sure, our bedroom has become a nursery. Sure our living room has become a playroom. Sure, I've been peed on...and pooped on. Sure, I've been awoken in the middle of the night too many times to count. Sure, my life feels like I'm constantly packing and unpacking diaper bags. Sure, I've been to the pediatrician and hospital more times in twelve months than I've gone to the doctor in twelve years. Sure, I've become that annoying person who only posts things on Facebook about their kids. Sure, Huyen and I have had little arguments about who-knows-what baby things. Sure, I've been that parent who brings their infant on a flight. Sure, I've....

Well, you get the point. But those things are so trivial when all it takes is one smile from Shayna to make me feel like my heart has never truly melted before. The other night Shayna learned a new trick. She started teasing us with food. She would offer up a Cheerio and then pull it back as soon as we went to eat it (a small sample is in the video). Every time she giggled and laughed like she was the funniest person in the world. We literally let her tease us for about thirty minutes and it never felt old.

Every day I feel so lucky to have my girls in my life. Huyen is such an incredible wife and mother that it makes me strive to be the best husband and father I can be. When I watch this video (which I've done way too many times already) it makes me really conscious of how special each and every day is. Kids change so quickly, that you have to take a moment to appreciate each stage they're in. And I'm not talking about the "crawling stage" or "walking stage". I'm talking about the minute stages that fall in between there. The "oh my god she just went on her tip-toes for a quarter of a second" stage or the "she just made a farting sound with her lips" stage. Or the "she learned how to turn the TV on stage" or the "I'm gonna throw myself on the floor until you let me play with ___" stage.

One of the reasons I take so many pictures and videos is because it  forces me pay more attention to the little things. I used to say that I blogged in Vietnam because it made me find something special each day. And the same is true now. If I can take one picture of Shayna each day it means I'm finding something special. And well, I can honestly say I've found something special every day for the last 365.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Eleven Months


In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to use this blog post as an opportunity to list a bunch of the things I'm thankful for:

I'm thankful for Huyen. Besides being an amazing wife and mother (and sugar momma), she's an incredible daughter-in-law to my parents and granddaughter to my Nanny. Every day I count my lucky stars for meeting someone so intelligent, kind, nurturing and supportive. Knowing that Shayna has 50% of Huyen's genes is a more than comforting feeling.

I'm thankful for Shayna. Since the day she was born, our lives have changed for the better.   Don't get me wrong, I loved life before being a parent. However, since she entered our life I can feel my heart beating differently. Every smile she gives us, every time she learns something new, every mumbled word, every time she falls asleep in my arms is a perfect moment.

I'm thankful for my family. At Thanksgiving my mom cooked a feast for thirty family members. This is the norm for all the major holidays. Although the meals are usually chaotic with kids running around screaming and people talking/arguing politics, it's nice to know that my family always enjoys coming together. My parents are incredibly supportive of everything we do. And my brother and sister-in-law and cousins have given us so much stuff for Shayna (clothing, toys, etc.) that we've gotten to the point where we need to store things at my parents' house. A couple of weeks ago I went to my Uncle Barry and Aunt Donna's house and filled my car up with wood for our fireplace that my uncle chopped. I then went on a hike with my uncle and cousin Dana (after beating both of them in pool!). It's little things like that that remind me how special family is.

I'm thankful for my Vietnamese family. I truly miss my in-laws every day. Yesterday I was gushing about how amazing it was to have my mother-in-law staying in our small apartment for two months and how I wanted her to stay longer. I'm pretty sure nobody else I know would ever say that about their mother-in-law. Huyen's family have treated me as one of their own from Day 1...okay, maybe Day 1,001. We're going back to Vietnam for a couple weeks next May and I'm counting down the days until I'm sleeping at my in-laws on a wood-plank bed.

I'm thankful for my friends from home, my friends from college, my friends from LA and my friends from Vietnam. I can honestly say that I have friends all around the world. One of the sad truths in life is that as you get older and have a family, you start seeing your friends less and less. However, that doesn't mean your friendship means less. In fact, when you find the time to see one another, you're always reminded how truly special friendship is.

I'm posting this a day late which means we're one day closer to Shayna's first birthday. I find myself asking the same question every month, how is it possible time has gone by so quickly?!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Double Digits!


Before having a kid, I must have heard a hundred times that babies usually say "Da-da" before they say "Ma-ma." Well, nobody told Shayna that. This kid says, "Ma-ma" about a thousand times a day. When I walk her to school: "Ma-ma." When I pick her up from school: "Ma-ma." When I feed her: "Ma-ma." When I change her diaper: "Ma-ma." When I bring her to the park: "Ma-ma." Yeah, you get the picture.

About a month ago one of Shayna's teachers told me that she says "Da-da" whenever I come to pick her up and stand behind the soundproof windows. I was skeptical of this and thought that she was probably saying, "Ba-ba" which is her second favorite thing to mumble. For the record, "ba" is grandma in Vietnamese.

Yesterday I had a parent teacher conference with Shayna's head teacher and she also told me she says, "Da-da" all the time. I asked her if she was sure or if it was perhaps "ba-ba". She looked at me and said, "Uh, yeah, I think it's ba-ba."

All that said, Shayna did say "Da-da" one time. It happened a few weeks ago in Central Park. I had Shayna in the baby carrier and we sat together on a tire swing. As we started to swing she looked at me and, clear as day, said, "Da-da." IT WAS AWESOME! Even more awesome is that we got picture of the exact moment. And yes, those pictures are included in the montage.

Some firsts this month:
1. Shayna is standing while holding onto stuff. This also means she's falling when not holding onto stuff well enough.
2. Shayna has officially claimed the refrigerator as her own. You can open the fridge for a second without her crawling 6MPH toward it.
3. Shayna has started to only like non-baby food. She's not into the pureed stuff anymore. She wants texture and things she can hold. Her Asian side is coming out because she apparently loves rice.
4. Shayna celebrated her first Halloween. Unfortunately she was sick on the actual holiday and missed her day care's parade. We took her out at night for about fifteen minutes (just so Huyen and I could get some candy) and then dressed her up again a few days later so we could get more pictures.

It's unreal that Shayna is already ten months old. Unreal. Can someone please tell me how to slow down time! 

Monday, October 7, 2013

9 Months!


It's mind boggling that Shayna has now been out in the world as long as she was in Huyen's belly.  I haven't been able to get that out of my mind for weeks.

This blog is a day late, but I have an excuse. I was away last week in Los Angeles for work (yes, sometimes I work) and didn't get home until Saturday night. And yesterday I wasn't about to sit down and blog after not having played with my daughter for almost a week. This trip was the first time I was away from Shayna. The hardest thing about leaving your kid is not being able to explain to them what's going on. We're not really by-the-minute routine parents but inevitably we still have our own routines. For example, I take Shayna to Day Care every morning and pick her up in the afternoon. After I get her we go to the park and play before coming home.  A couple of weeks ago I had a conference call in the evening so Huyen picked up Shayna at school. I wouldn't say Shayna was upset that Huyen was there but she was definitely a little confused and kept looking around for me. I had this in the back of my head the whole time I prepared to go to LA.

Let me just say that I'm 100% confident in Huyen taking care of Shayna by herself. Honestly, Huyen can do everything and anything. She's amazing. However, I was just sad that I couldn't chip in and do the things I always do. Shayna was totally fine, albeit a little confused where I was. Unfortunately we only have one computer so I wasn't even able to Skype with my girls but I did talk to them on the phone a ton and get about 1,000 videos on my phone from Huyen.

Being away from your family is hard. When connecting at the Nashville airport (I had credit to use on Southwest and that was the best connection) I saw a mom and her kid playing on a kid's playground in the middle of the terminal. It made me really sad. And every chance I could get in LA I somehow brought a story around to Huyen and Shayna. I guess you could say I'm just really proud of my girls. 

Anyway, it's great to be home!!!

Some firsts this past month:
1. Shayna crawled backwards...
2. ...then crawled forwards.
3. Shayna is saying "mom mom" a ton. Her teacher says that she says "dad dad" too but I don't believe her.
4. Shayna was named one of the "artists of the month" at her day care. There's a picture of a her artwork in the video montage.
5. Shayna outgrew a ton of clothing and is now wearing 18 month pajamas to sleep in.  How that's possible, I don't know.
6. Shayna's two teeth are really protruding and she bit my finger really hard. She's got a third tooth coming in on the top which should make for more biting fun. Luckily I don't have to breast feed.
7. Shayna can hold on to things and pull herself up. We had to lower her crib last night.
8. Shayna started to wear her hair in lots of different styles. Her teacher at school is amazing at doing her hair. I told the lady that I'm gonna open a salon for her to style kids hair.

On to double digits!!! Ten months here we come...