Saturday, December 31, 2011

Silly Sally with Daddy

One of Kaya's favorite books these days is 'Silly Sally'...she'd read it every night if we didn't gently nudge her at times to read others with us instead. She's read it so much, in fact, that she knows many pages, and nearly the whole book in fact, by heart.

As she was reading with Geoff tonight, I couldn't resist the temptation to capture them on film. I so rarely post videos of her speaking English, and I thought it would be not only fun to share, but fun to have here for later, too. I really like the part in the video where she interrupts her reading in English with Geoff to let me know, in German, that she needs her fingernail trimmed, and that, no, it can't wait until after they read. I also love how she gets under the blanket, which she does every time, to hide from 'the big Neddy' (Buttercup)! The video is a bit long, at 5-ish minutes, but it does a great job at showing where she's at these days. Enjoy!

Also, while I'm thinking of it, I wanted to point out, for those who may have not noticed, that I recently added a new page to the blog. It's called 'The Quotable Kaya', and is specifically for notable quotes and conversations that take place in our lives with Kaya. Some of them are simply cute, while others of them, especially the ones I've recorded recently, seem really telling of her language process at this stage. In general, her German is on par, if not maybe even a little stronger, than her English! Oh how I've dreamed of this stage!!!

p.s. For those of you who receive these posts emailed to you, the Quotable Kaya page doesn't get emailed, should you be interested in following along with little conversations here and there, check back every now and again!

Nikolausmorgen...25 Days Later...

It's only taken me 25 days to get my  s*#t  together and write a post about how our Nikolaus morning went...I found inspiration a week ago or so, as I was reading another blogger's post about their preparations for the day. And I even took a few videos on Nikolaus morning, in part for Geoff. He was at work when Kaya awoke to find her boots filled with goodies--I wanted him to be able to see how excited she'd been!

As you may recall, or know from experience, Nikolaus 'comes' on the evening of Dec. 5th and fills the children's boots with nuts, oranges and least for those children who have been 'good'. Krampus (or Ruprecht) takes the bad ones, or hits 'em with a switch. Fortunately, Kaya is still cute enough to avoid that nastiness...

So, in addition to filling her boots with a couple pieces of chocolate, mandarins and a fruit leather, Geoff and I 'indulged ourselves' in leaving a gift next to her boots, as well. I found this awesome dollhouse on Craigslist, completely furnished, to replace the smaller, unfurnished one she had before. I thought it would be fun for Nikolaus to furnish her bathroom, along with bringing her some chocolate--she'd been asking for a toilet for her dollhouse, and I was eager to replace Geoff's cardboard creation, as ingenious as it was.

Here's the second video I took, which shows how happy she was with the chocolate, as well as how clear it is to her who brought her these yummy gifts. You'll here me asking her to tell me who (Wer?) brought her this chocolate, and you'll hear her responding as if she doesn't know (wer?!). As I run through a long list of various people who may have brought her the goodies, it's clear to her that it was none of these people...until she hears Nikolaus' name. At the end, by the way, she gets up and says that she's going to put the trash in the garbage (that's our Kaya, for ya!) [Ich werde das in den Muell bringen.]

She was so enamored with the chocolate that it wasn't until I asked her what else he'd brought her that she noticed the gifts next to the boots. She dove in to unwrap them, savoring each piece of furniture for what it was and what it could do for her little dollies. She opened each one so carefully, and was so attentive. It was so sweet, so innocent...and honestly, much different than the experience at the end of December once she'd had a few days of opening one gift a day...

In addition to sharing about Nikolaus, I've been wanting to sum up our holiday season, specifically as a reminder for myself for next year as I'm perched on the edge of the season, trying to remember what worked and what didn't. I clearly remember thinking that this 'one gift a day' idea didn't turn out exactly as I'd hoped...

It's late, though, and we're on the eve of our New Year's cabin trip!
...So, until that post makes it into the cyber-waves, it looks like you'll just have to sit on the edge of your seat and wait...

2012, here we come!
Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Binky-Fairy

This post was originally written in December 2011 when the binky-fairy made her initial 'visit' to our house. It has been adapted for the January edition of the Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism, a blogging community of bilingual parents and families wanting to promote a larger discussion on bilingualism and create a wider community of bilingual parents. For more up-to-date posts regarding post-binky bedtime progress, see The Quotable Kaya.

Sometimes, it seems like starting a blog post is like eating another cookie: SO tempting, yet so full of consequences that don't exactly leave you feeling so satisfied. Sleep is overrated, right?

Last night, I got maybe 45 minutes. Maybe. As soon as I finished my big Christmas project at midnight, I headed to bed, eager to finally be prone. As I attempted to relax and calm my thoughts from the day, my mind started spinning with concerns about my missing purse. My checkbook, 5 client checks, my ID, credit and debit card, ski passes, book of stamps...all vanished into who knows where on Saturday night and I had yet to truly process all that was really missing. Not to mention all that could be happening out there with whomever may have my stuff.

I popped out of bed, wrote the necessary emails to the necessary people, and finally headed back to bed at about 1am. And then I heard her whimper.

We'd mentioned the coming of the Schnulli-fairy at least a few weeks ago. She knew the day would come. But it was really the visit to the dentist last week that had me finally settle on last night: "'s time for the pacifiers to go. Her lower jaw needs every possible opportunity to catch up to the upper one," Dr. Chavez told me. I knew the day would come, too...but I was 'giving myself' until age 3.

Her whimpers turned to soft cries, and I could no longer stay away. I thought I knew what I might be walking into. I really had no idea, however...

When I approached her bed, her blankets were disheveled, covering her only in part. Her sleeper was unzipped, completely, and her legs were bare. "Musst du pullern?" I asked her softly, thinking that she must have to pee. No answer. Just blank stares, through tears. "Musst du A-a machen?" I asked again, thinking that, perhaps, she had to poop. Again, she said nothing.  Shortly thereafter, however, she began to cry, grabbing her Schnulli [binky] which now had a hole where the nipple once was. "Ich hab' keinen Schnuwii," [I don't have a binky] she said, slowly and sadly, as her cries turned from whimpers to sobs. I quickly jumped in bed behind her, snuggling her with my heart as it slowly melted with her pain. Nearly three years of falling asleep with the comfort of a suckable piece of plastic, and now, no solace in the silicone. As I snuggled in behind her, and held her close, she slowly fondled the Schnulli in front of her, the green one that was always her favorite. I knew that she knew. She knew it was time, and that the Schnulli fairy had come, and that there was simply no turning back. She wasn't angry. She wasn't scared. She was simply sad, and there was no way around it. I held her tighter and stroked her head. "Aber hat dir die Schnulli-fee etwas gebracht?" [But did the binky fairy bring you anything?] I asked her, pointing slowly to the bear on her pillow. She slowly looked up, and noticed the bear. All of a sudden, there was a shift. She grabbed the bear, and brought it to her, dangling it by its hoop. She turned to me, grinning huge, and referenced the book we'd just read last night,"Ich bin jetzt wie Cawa." [I'm like Clara now.] "Ja, das stimmt," [Yes, you are.] I told her. "Du brauchst keinen Schnuller mehr, genau wie Clara!" [You don't need a pacifier anymore, just like Clara.]

While we were in Germany, I excitedly bumped into this book called, "Ein Baer von der Schnullerfee" [A Bear from the Binky Fairy] in which little Clara is visited by the binky fairy and told that she'll receive a gift when she's ready to add her binkies to the collection on the fairy's necklace. A few days later, after Clara is ready, the fairy returns, and brings her a bear in exchange for her binkies. Kaya was very excited about the bear idea, and had been for weeks. She clearly couldn't conceptualize how schnulli-less bedtimes would feel. After reading the book for the first time on Sunday night, I told Kaya that sometimes, the Schnulli fairy will leave the Schnulli, but will simply take the 'nose' of the Schnulli to add to her necklace. In that way, there's not a complete 'lack' of Schnulli, just a missing ability to suck. Geoff and I liked this concept, and thus attempted to prepare her for how some fairies operate.

So, there we were, on her bed, lying in the dim glow of her Santa Claus light. As she dangled the bear back and forth near our heads, she shared with me something that I never saw coming. "Mama, ich wiw awe meine Schnuwi der Schnuwifee geben," [I want to give all of my binkies to the binky fairy.] she told me, as I swallowed my surprise. "Ich wiw, dass du sie ihr gibst." [I want you to give them to her.] "OK," I told her. "Das kann ich machen." [I can do that.] Apparently, she likes the binky-fairy who takes the binkies, not the ones who cut holes in them. She'd just much rather have them gone. She then handed me all three pacifiers and told me, "Ich wiw, dass du wieder kommst, nachdem du sie ihr gibst." [I want you to come back after you give them to her.] Of course I conceded, and proceeded out the door, binkies in hand. When I returned, Schnulli free, Kaya's spirits stayed high, and we laid there a big longer. I was growing a bit excited at the idea of going to sleep soon, and thought we might be close. And then my hopes were crushed. "Ich bin nich muede" [I'm not tired] she declared, gently. "Ich wiw nicht schafen. Ich wiw nur scheeelen (ich will nicht schlafen, ich will nur spielen)." [I don't want to sleep. I only want to plaaayyyy.] Having learned the hard way, I knew there was no fighting it. Trying to force a 2 year old to sleep when they only want to play is like trying to fit your elbow into your mouth. It just doesn't work. So, I set her up with some light and some books, and told her she could read until she grew tired. I hesitated to leave her alone, concerned about her being warm enough if she fell asleep without a blanket. After talking her into wearing a sweater, and knowing that she'd call me if she needed me, I sauntered off to bed in hopes of some sleep.

A bit later, no more than an hour, I awoke to Kaya's voice. "Ich bin Hunnnger," [I am hunnnger] she told me, as I went into her room. "Ich wiw essen." [I wanna eat.] After having this incredibly helpful conversation that afternoon with a friend about the importance of validating children (and adults, too!), I knew, once again, that there was no fighting this one either. Granted, I tried for a few minutes, attempting to tell her that I knew how hungry she was, and that she could eat as soon as we got up in the morning. Not wanting Geoff to lose any sleep (as the full-time worker of the two of us), however, I chose the quiet route over the loud one.

Thus, at 3 am, I found myself cutting apples and serving miso soup to a very cheerful little girl who had no intention of falling asleep schnulli-less. At this point, after having tasted sleep, I was beginning to lose some patience and compassion, and had to keep my mind from wandering to how things would be the next day. I had a tutoring gig at 9:30am that I wondered if I'd be able to keep. 4am came and went, and with some tears and sadness, so did 5. Song after song, lullaby after lullaby, we rocked in the rocker and sang in her bed, while she cried at the challenge of the eve. "Ich kannnn nicht ohne Schnuwi schaafen," [I can't sleep without a binky] she cried, overwhelmed at the thought of going it solo. "Ich weiss," [I know] I told her, reflecting on Laura's advice. "Es ist schwer ohne Schnulli einzuschlafen. Ich wuenschte mir, du haettest tausende von Schullis, in dem du schwimmen koenntest, und womit du spielen koenntest. Das waere so schoen!" [It is hard to fall asleep without a binky. I wish you had a thousand binkies that you could swim in and play with.] It felt strange to be responding like this, I told her earlier on the phone. It's like I'm being so condescending, indulging the fact that she doesn't have what she wants, and that I'm not going to give it to her. "You're not two," she reminded me. "If your husband came home and told you that he wished you had all the millions in the world to swim in and run through and cover your house with, after you share with him your concern about your finances, you'd want to hit him!" True. That.

Her advice was a godsend, and at 6:30am, after a multitude of lullabies and more compassion and validation that I've demonstrated in ages, she finally fell asleep in my lap, being rocked in the rocker. When she awoke when I moved her, I feared a replay. But after walking out slowly, taking nary a breath, she did it by herself and fell asleep without Schnulli.

Mission accomplished.!
Only 5 hours later.

This afternoon, as Geoff walked through the door, Kaya went running to him, bringing with her the Schnulli-bear. "Look what I got," she told him, proudly, snuggling into his arms. "Wow!" he responded. "Where'd you get that?" "The Schnulli-fee brought it to me," she replied, looking at me, afterwards. I asked her then if she had to give the fairy anything in exchange for the bear. She looked at Geoff, knowing that my question in German was intended to be answered in English to him. "Mama gave my Schnullis...her." I smiled as she told him this, not only because she was clearly so at peace with the whole thing, but because of the sweetness of the structure of her English sentence. In German, there's no need to use the preposition 'to' before 'her' since the grammar makes it clear which case is intended.

Here it is, 12:30am, and I feel like a ticking time bomb. A kind of dumb one, putting writing before sleeping. I have no idea why I'm not tired, and am avoiding the fear of when it will catch up to me. I partly think I'm riding on this new wave of validation that's working wonders...and simultaneously excited at this new phase in our lives.

Kaya just woke up, crying, and as I approached the door, I feared a repeat of last night. Forward motion is happening, however. She not only fell back to sleep quickly, with just a blanket and some gentle rocking on her bed, but tonight, as Geoff was putting her to bed, he told her that she can fall asleep with her snuggle monkey and her dog, avoiding the whole binky conversation. In contrast to the "I can't" concern she voiced with me last night, tonight she simply told Geoff that "it's hard to sleep without a Schnulli, Daddy."

It sure is, Kaya. That I know.
Mama sucked her thumb until she was twelve...

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Lil' Bit of Lullaby--a la Kaya

Over the past week or so, Kaya has become quite the vocalist. She's enjoyed music for as long as I can remember her noticing it--she used to, and continues to, ask for certain songs to be repeated, and requests for music to be played, either on the radio or through Geoff's fingertips on his guitar. I can distinctly remember a post that I wrote about a year ago in which Kaya was picking up on the words in a particular song, referencing the topic in our conversation. I'll have to find that post one of these days...

But this week has really been a benchmark for her beginning to sing with us. Last night, for example, Geoff went into her room to serenade her to sleep, and she made a very clear request for him to play "Tinkuh Tinkuh wih Sar, an den Baa-baa back shee", as he often does before bed. As he began to play, she looked at him, wide eyed and bushy-tailed, and asked, "Keh we sing togeduh, Daddy?" After his heart melted, and he assured her that, of course they could, she began to tell him how it was going to work: "Firs time, we sing 'Baa-baa Back Shee, Haya any woh?', then we sing it woudah an woudah..." [Baa-baa black sheep, have you any wool, then we sing it louder and louder].

Tonight, as Kaya requested a couple songs from Mama, I grabbed our video-guy and saw to it that you could get a taste of our budding musician in action. We started the rendition off with one of our bedtime favorites, Schlafliedchen [Little Sleep Song]:

Schlaf, mein kleines Maeuschen  [Sleep, my little mouse,]
schlaf bis morgen frueh,               [Sleep, til early morn]
bis der Hahn im Haeuschen,         [Til the rooster in his house]
ruft sein Kikeriki,                          [calls his cockle-doodle-doo]
bis der Hahn im Haeuschen, 
ruft sein Kikeriki. 

Streckst du aus die Fuesschen,      [Stretch your little footsies]
deck dich richtig zu!                      [Cover yourself right up]
Schlaf mein Strampellieschen,      [Sleep my little cuddle bug]
schlaf mein Liebling du!               [Sleep my dear one, you]
Schlaf mein Strampellieschen, 
schlaf mein Liebling du!


We followed up that song with another classic, Schlaf, Kindchen, Schlaf [Sleep, Child, Sleep], but I can't seem to get two videos on here, so you'll have to imagine that one for yourself. It's similarly as entertaining as the first, and we'll surely be using it in Kaya's application to Juliard...

Schlaf, Kindlein, Schlaf,                    [Sleep, child, sleep]
Am Himmel ziehen die Schaf,           [in heaven run the sheep]
der Mond, der ist das Schaeferlein,    [the moon, it is the shepherd man]
die Sterne sind die Laemmerlein,       [the stars, they are the little sheep]
Schlaf, Kaya, Schlaf.

Schlaf, Kaya, Schlaf!
Der Vater huettet die Schaf,                [the father guards the sheep]
die Mutter schuettelt's Bauemelein,    [the mother shakes the little tree]
da faellt herab ein Traeumelein,         [from it falls the little dreams]
Schlaf, Kaya, Schlaf.

She uttered a pretty darn cute Santa quote tonight, too--I think I'll test out the new Quotable Kaya page and will post it there, should your curiosity be piqued!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Kaya's Clairvoyance about Christmas

Kaya keeps uttering the cutest things, and as awkward as it feels to me to just 'randomly' share them, I think I'm gonna...because, well...this blog is essentially all about her and our life surrounding her cute and crazy ways of being!

First of all, I've been looking at this post-it on my computer screen for, I'm embarrassed to say, nearly 3 months. It's dated 9/18, and it references this experience that Geoff had with Kaya while they were talking about polar bears. Naturally, the details have escaped me, because I only jotted down the quote itself with one extra word as a reminder (good one, Tamara!). But from what I can recall, Geoff and Kaya were reading a book when they came across a polar bear. Kaya used the German term, Eisbaer [polar bear], at which point, Geoff asked Kaya what it's called in English. From there, conversation moved to a point where it became clear to Kaya that Geoff didn't speak German, and couldn't understand many things that she could. It was around this point when Kaya, with excitement, told him, "I wanna teach you German, Dada!" (pronouncing the G as you would in 'good', as she still pronounces it today).

It's clear to me that Kaya has yet to fully process, even today, 3 months later, that Geoff does, in fact, understand a lot of German, and me, everything that's said in English. She still translates for us, from time to time, often letting me know, like she did the other day, what they're singing about in a particular song: "Sie tun einen Hut auf dem Elefant in dem Lied!" [They're putting a hat on the elefant in that song!]

Kaya was much more excited about Santa from afar...!
What I sat down to write about was actually something that Kaya said this morning, in reference to the visit that was going to happen at the German Saturday School where she's been attending since October. I'd just told her, in German, that Nikolaus would be coming to visit them at school, and she naturally grew very excited. For those of you who don't know, Nikolaus is the historical version of Santa Claus. Saint Nikolaus was actually a Greek bishop from the 4th century who was known as the patron saint of sailors, fishermen, students and children. He was known for his generosity, for helping those, in anonymity, that needed assistance. Anyway, in many parts of Europe, Nikolaus Day is it's own holiday, celebrated on December 6 (the feast day of St. Nikolaus), in which children put their boots out for Nikolaus on Dec. 5 and he comes that evening to fill them with delightful treats. Now I'm remembering that I addressed this a little bit the other day in my I'll jump back to the interesting translation that happened this morning before we went to school. Kaya has no idea, by the way, of any of this history of Santa Claus. She does know about Santa, from images and books that she's seen, both this year and last, but she has no idea that there might be any connection between him and the historical Sankt Nikolaus. So, after I tell her that Nikolaus will be coming to visit this morning, she runs to Dada in the other room and says to him, "Daddy....Santa Claus will be visiting our school today!" When I first heard this, I was under the impression that Kaya was simply attempting to make her own sense of this multicultural mish-mash that her Dada and I are creating for her with all of this holiday hub-bub. But in reflecting on the experience, and looking at the photo, it's clear that our child is actually psychic, and knew that, in fact, it wouldn't be Nikolaus, the bishop, who dresses in gold, carries a staff and sports a traditional catholic cap, but instead, our jolly old Santa, dressed from head to toe in red and white, just as Coca-cola created him back in 1931!

The 'true' Nikolaus, last year...
Forget ideas of outdoor programs or German schools--
we need to start researching accredited schools for psychics...