23 June 2010

Goodbye, Old Friend

We said goodbye to a good friend this week, a friend who has been there through thick and thin, good times and bad. Our beloved Nikon CoolPix has bit the bullet.

We've had this little camera for a couple years now. After much nit-picking, scrutinizing and Michelle's amazing coupon negotiating skills, we finally switched to the Digital Age and left 35mm behind. It was the perfect camera: fit in your pocket, shoot video, leap tall buildings in a single bound and much more.

Many of the pictures on this blog have come from that little camera -- The Greatest Little Camera in the World has been Growing Up Kaitlyn before there was a Growing Up Kaitlyn. It was there when Kaitlyn was born, when she took her first steps, trips to the zoo, when she farted and had diarrhea but Michelle wouldn't let me post the video even though it was one of the funniest things I ever witnessed in my life. It's been there for many major moments.

It's gone to California, Las Vegas, New Jersey and Myrtle Beach. And that's where our wonderful little CoolPix finally met its end.

I don't know if it was being smashed at the bottom of the beach bag, the minuscule wind-swept sand particles or the constant beating from Kaitlyn playing, but halfway through our trip the Greatest Little Camera in the World went kaput. The ugly grey screen, complete with its "Lens Error" message and buzzing, is still taunting us.

So it's time to finally say goodbye. I've already scoped out the possible replacement cameras and, sufficed to say, I'm not impressed. Don't know what it is, but something was just perfect about our Nikon.

But I'm sure we'll find another Greatest Little Camera in the World. It just won't have the memories of this one. But I guess we'll have to make new ones.

12 June 2010

Skyping your playdates

I remember when I was growing up and we used to run across the street to see our friends, or ride our bikes up the road to another friend's house. There were the few occasions that Mom would drive us to someone's house and we'd play there all day.

Fast forward to today, when many of those interactions are done virtually among today's children. Whether it be IM, text messaging or online gaming, kids today just don't see each other. They might communicate, but they don't interact. I see this as a problem, but apparently I'm not one of the cool kids, which isn't anything new. I mean, you don't get voted "Most Talkative" in high school because they like you, right?

I digress. The cool kids from yesteryear are now the cool parents who are experimenting with video playdates, which is exactly as it sounds -- kids playing with kids via computer modems and monitors. Which isn't really playing as much as watching a really lame reality TV show.

One of the leaders in this new realm of non-playing playdates is Lana Yarosh, a Ph.D. candidate in human-centered computing at Georgia Tech University. She's tinkered with regular video chats for kids, having kids play show-and-tell with multiple cameras and even WWE-style action sequences: "In another [method], playmates share a virtual playpen of sorts, where they see each others' toys and bodies projected onto the floor."

"They were jumping on top of each other. They were having battles. One of the kids said, 'This is a lot of fun and it's actually better than being in the same room because we're not hurting each other.' 

The purpose of these video playdates, Yarosh says, is for "friends to stay in touch when their parents can't drive them to each other's houses or to the park." To her credit, Yarosh does state that video playdates are "more work" because, you know, they're not in the same room. But Yarosh believes the same level of social interaction takes place in these virtual playdates.

The reaction by the masses: Thanks, but no thanks. I tend to agree. One of the highlights of the weekends for us is when Kaitlyn repeatedly asks us who we're going to see that day. It could be Declan-Lilly (they're always combined, I don't know why), it could be Baby E, it might be Sophia. She loves playing with her friends, running around in circles and pushing strollers and playing with dolls and cars and laughing. Lots and lots of laughing.

No matter how busy the schedule is, we'll always make time to bring Kaitlyn to see her friends. The need for interaction is important -- it helps shape who we are, it helps us later in life (see: School) and it creates a fun environment to explore and imagine.

Skype has its place; we love talking to Nana and Pop-Pop and Aunt Debbie, Uncle Chris and Cousin Colin and everyone else who has it. It just doesn't seem like a substitute for human interaction.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to my online Scrabble game with Michelle. She's texting me feverishly from the other room because it's my turn. 

11 June 2010

Fast Food Playhouse of Horror

So you all know I'm one of those laid-back sort of dads, right? I don't go all bonkers when Kaitlyn falls and scrapes her knee. I toss her ten feet in the air on the sidewalk confident in my ability to catch her. I don't shout when the kids in class are playing rough; besides, they probably learned it from her.

But I do draw the line at older kids trying to toss my little girl around. Case in point: the local fast food playground.

You know these things: small places where parents can presumably take their toddlers to burn off those 1,200 calorie kid's meals while Mom and Dad check email on their iPhone. Kids run around, sliding down slides, playing in make-believe cars and rolling around in ball tosses. Harmless, right?

Well, you know the rules of these places, right? Sure, they've got something on the wall about age limits, unaccompanied children, running, strangling with the balloon strings and other mumbo-jumbo that their lawyers told them to write. But you know the real rules?

There are none.

Parents scope out the prime seats on the opposite side of the glass from these human hamster farms so they can say they're watching their kid when they're really spiking their fountain drink with mini bottles of Schnapps and Absolut. In the meantime, their little terror(s) is/are running up the enclosed slide, pushing other unwatched kids down the stairs in an attempt to not be "it" in an all-out game of tag and screaming louder than their mothers during childbirth.

And you know where Kaitlyn is during all this? Huddled in the corner of the suspended-in-mid-air-race-car, frozen because she's scared out of her wits. Tonight, before the mayhem ensued, she made her way -- laughing, mind you -- up the stairs and into the hamster tunnels before a group of kids (five or six, all above age 7) came in and proceeded to climb all over the place, through every conceivable hole in the play room.

Kaitlyn was stuck up there for what seemed like forever, but was probably something like three or four minutes. I would try to guide her down one way, but there was a screaming child. Not crying screaming, just screaming for reasons only his therapist understands. I tried to direct her to the slide before not one, but three of the snot noses ran up. I looked around for some parental unit to interject, but I was the only one in the damn playroom.

I finally got her out and she looked at me and said, "I go home now." So much for the couple minutes of fun I promised her. I even asked if she wanted to play at home with Daddy, but she said no. "Lay down with my binkie," she whimpered.

So I would just like to say thanks not only to the half-dozen kids who ruined my daughter's five-minute treat for eating her dinner, but also to the parent(s) of those kids. I thought I was unassuming and aloof when it came to Kaitlyn, but you people truly take the cake.

07 June 2010

The Day After Tomorrow is Three Days After Vacation Ended

Kaitlyn's vacation, in bite-sized pieces:

Got in Daddy's car at 6:15 p.m. Dropped Boo-Boo off with Pop-Pop. Sang Pokerface. Without the radio. Or Mommy. Or Daddy. Fell asleep in North Carolina at 9:15 p.m. Woke up in South Carolina at 10:30 p.m. Fell asleep in South Carolina at 11:30 p.m.

Woke up at 8 a.m. Ate cereal. On patio. Looking at the ocean. In the bright morning sunlight. Got bathed in sunscreen by Mommy. Stubbed toe on walk to beach. Saw beach. Smiled. Helped Daddy dig hole for umbrella. Filled hole back up with sand. Daddy re-dug hole. Played with bucket and yellow shovel. Couldn't find purple shovel. Cried. Found purple shovel. Laughed. Walked to water with Mommy. Ran from water that chased me. Ran back to water. Laughed. Ran to bucket. Ran back to water with bucket. Repeated for next three hours. Left beach. Fell asleep at 1:30 p.m.

Woke up at 5 p.m. Went to dinner. Ordered shrimp. Got shrimp. Don't like shrimp. Ate fries. Asked for ice cream. Cried. Got in car. Cried. Went to stores. Cried. Walked around. Cried. Fed fish. Didn't cry. Walked some more. Cried. Got ice cream. Got in car. Went to room. Got on jammies. Cried. Said prayers. Laid down with Mommy. Talked to Mommy for next thirty minutes. Fell asleep at 11 p.m.

Woke up at 8 a.m. Wanted pancakes. Went to get pancakes. Ordered pancakes. Got pancakes. Didn't eat pancakes. Cried. Ate pancakes after Daddy got mad. Went to room. Got bathed in sunscreen by Mommy. Again. Stubbed toe on walk to beach. Again. Saw beach. Smiled. Again. Played with bucket and yellow shovel. Couldn't find purple shovel. Cried. Found purple shovel. Laughed. Walked to water with Mommy. Ran from water that chased me. Ran back to water. Laughed. Ran to bucket. Ran back to water with bucket.

Wanted the pool. Went with Daddy to pool. Got thrown in air in pool. Went under water. Swallowed water. Twice. Laughed. Wanted the beach. Went back to beach with Daddy. Found Mommy. She was red. Left beach. Went to room. Watched Wonder Pets. Fell asleep at 1:40 p.m.

Woke up at 3:30 p.m. Got dressed. Wanted pizza. Went in car. Ordered pizza. Got pizza. Didn't eat pizza. Cried. Ate pizza after Daddy got mad. Wanted ice cream. Cried. Got back in car. Went to stores. Walked around. Cried. Ate pralines at candy store. Don't know what a praline is. Wanted more pralines. Left candy store. Cried. Walked some more. Cried. Walked into Kohr's. Got ice cream. Watched Mommy cry after paying $3 for children's size. Got in car. Went to other stores. Got Big Jessie. Went back to room. Watched Buzz and Woody. Said prayers. Laid down with Mommy. Talked to Mommy for next forty-five minutes. Fell asleep at 11 p.m.

Woke up at 8 a.m. Ate cereal. Got bathed in sunscreen by Mommy. Again. Stubbed toe on walk to beach. Again. Saw beach. Smiled. Again. Found seashells with Mommy and Daddy. Walked to water. Sat in water with Mommy. Wanted the pool. Said bye bye to beach. Went in pool with Mommy. Said bye bye to pool. Went back to room. Got changed. Packed bags. Packed car. Got in car. Wanted pancakes for lunch. Ordered pancakes. Got pancakes. Didn't eat pancakes. Again. Cried. Ate pancakes after Mommy got mad. Got in car at 1 p.m. Fell asleep after five minutes in car.

Woke up in North Carolina at 3:30 p.m. Got to Pop-Pop's at 5 p.m.. Got chicken for dinner. Ate dinner. Go figure. Got cupcake from YaYa. Ate cupcake. Go figure. Got in car. With Boo-Boo. Got home at 8 p.m. Watched Kai-Lan. Watched Backyardigans. Played. Said prayers. Laid down with Daddy. Fell asleep at 10:30 p.m.

04 June 2010

On Hiatus

We're going off the grid, headed to the beach this weekend for some fun in the thunderstorms that are engulfing the eastern seaboard until the day we're supposed to leave the beach sun.

And most importantly -- we are NOT bringing the laptop.

If you're looking for your Growing Up Kaitlyn fix, you better start finally checking Twitter or Facebook.

01 June 2010

In Pictures: iPhone iPhotography

Sometimes I snap the pictures on my iPhone faster than I can tweet them to the world. So here's a sampling of what I get to see every day as I flip through my phone.