You Be Emma…


That’s the name of Emma’s favorite game these days.  She loves to role play and will ask me, Elena, or her Ela (Abuela) to “be Emma” and she will “be the Mommy”. She will say, “Can you be Emma?”. It’s her way of saying, I want to be in control. She is quite the control freak. Once she assumes that role, she will act out real life events that have transpired in her life. She will tell you, “Emma, you are sick now because you put the dirty toys in your mouth.”. Or “Baby, you can’t go to ballet class today because you were being disrespectful.”. She loves to act things out and pretend, and clearly a lot of it is a verbal reinforcement of things we tell her. Right now it is pretty much the only game she asks to play daily.

It’s not all bad and reprimand, she also likes to take care of her Emma. She will take your temperature, change your diaper, and give you vitamins to nurse you back to health.

To keep things interesting, Elena and I sometimes mimic Emma’s uncontrollable fits and tantrums to see how she responds to the situation, which gives her a new perspective on her own behavior.

Fall is Beautiful

Elena, Emma and I went for a nature walk last week to enjoy the nice weather and beautiful fall leaves. After living in South Florida for so many years, I had come to forget how nice the fall can be. The changing leaves are a great indicator of time. In another month or so the trees will be bare indicating winter is coming, and we will soon be looking forward to the green growth of spring.

Like the seasons, Emma is changing quite rapidly as well. She is just over three years old and is no longer a baby. She is a little person, full of ideas, and opinions, and her own personal agenda. She communicates so well now and knows so much it is stunning. Today her mother said it is Wednesday, to which Emma responded, “It’s garbage day”. Things like that blow me away. She is 3 years 3 weeks old people! What is she supposed to know about garbage day?

When I look at Emma and see how big and healthy she is I am consumed with happiness. It also makes me extremely sad at times to see how much she has grown already, and despite blogging about her, when I see pictures of her a year ago, my memory already betrays me. I don’t ever want to forget how she acted at each and every stage of her life. I want to remember and recall the snapshots of her development but life has a way of making you forget. This saddens me because I know the Emma I see today will be but a distant and faded memory a year from now. I realize that I have to cherish every moment, even more than I do already. I can see time fast forwarding on me: graduations, Marriage, Babies of her own, and I will become a much less important person in her life. I hope and pray that I will always be relevant to her and I will be a good Father that she will always know she can rely on and that she will save a place for in her heart.

I know it may seem quite dramatic to be thinking this far ahead, but I am a reflective thinker who understands what lies ahead. Acknowledging the future allows me to make adjustments now so that when that day comes, I am not full of regrets for what I should have, could have, done differently. I don’t want to be that parent who postponed life and time with my daughter because I thought there would always be time for her later. You know, the whole “Cat’s in the Cradle” thing.


Cats In The Cradle Lyrics

Artist: Harry Chapin

My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talkin’ ‘fore I knew it, and as he grew
He’d say “I’m gonna be like you dad
You know I’m gonna be like you”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home dad?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then son
You know we’ll have a good time then

My son turned ten just the other day
He said, “Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let’s play
Can you teach me to throw”, I said “Not today
I got a lot to do”, he said, “That’s ok”
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
And said, “I’m gonna be like him, yeah
You know I’m gonna be like him”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home son?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then son
You know we’ll have a good time then

Well, he came home from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say
“Son, I’m proud of you, can you sit for a while?”
He shook his head and said with a smile
“What I’d really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later, can I have them please?”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home son?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then son
You know we’ll have a good time then

I’ve long since retired, my son’s moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind”
He said, “I’d love to, Dad, if I can find the time
You see my new job’s a hassle and kids have the flu
But it’s sure nice talking to you, Dad
It’s been sure nice talking to you”

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He’d grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home son?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then son
You know we’ll have a good time then

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Emma Swim Class #3 Videos

Words and still pictures can not properly convey Emma’s fearlessness, so here are some videos.

Jumping In The Pool

Jumping In Again

Emma’s Swim Class #3

For Emma’s 3rd swim lesson I joined Emma in the water for some wet and wild fun. We practiced entering the pool, freestyle swim-stroke, blowing bubbles through our nose, holding our breath under water, and jumping into the pool (Emma’s personal favorite). Emma is such a fish it’s not even funny. She can stay in the water all day if allowed. The only part she hates about swim class is the end.

Entering the pool

Free-style swim

Blowing bubbles through our nose

Emma holding her breath under water

Swim Class #2

Last weeks swim lesson was canceled because her instructor was sick. We took Emma to the pool anyway and swam with her to practice the skills she had learned in her first lesson. When we attended her second lesson today, Emma’s skill had improved. It’s quite amazing because we can see visible improvements from one lesson to the next. During her first lesson she was taught how to “blow bubbles” in the water through her mouth. A concept she struggled with. We practiced the day her teacher was sick and concentrated on emphasizing blowing before submerging her mouth into the water (as initially she was attempting to submerge her head, draw water into her mouth and then spit it out). During today’s class we practiced that skill as well as some basic swim strokes as well as holding her breath under water. Miss Lauren provided some flotation devices so the children could focus on propelling themselves with their arms and legs without worring about staying buoyant. Emma did really good today. Her Mom and I are extremely proud of her. 🙂

Emma “bubble blowing” practice

Emma proudly showing Miss Lauren her “bubble-blowing” skill

Emma practicing some swim strokes

Look at that outboard motor kick!

Emma holding her breath under water (for 4-6 seconds)

Emma standing on the top step of the ladder. Looks like trouble is on the way.

Emma jumping into the water

Emma’s Sweet Tooth

Today Emma refused to eat her regular, healthy food because all she wants to eat is junk food. We told her that if she doesn’t eat her dinner, she doesn’t get dessert. While Mark and I were cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, Emma hid in the cabinet next to the dishwasher. She does this a lot so we didn’t think much of it. She was in there for a pretty long time and was being quieter than normal (which should have been a clue that she was up to no good) but Mark and I were just happy to have some peace and quiet for a few minutes so we left her alone.

I went upstairs to get something and Mark calls me and asks me to come down. He says, “You have to see this. There is no denying Emma is your daughter”. I knew that last part meant trouble! Sure enough, I come down the stairs to find her face and hands covered in chocolate. It turns out that she took the cake from the kitchen island when Mark and I were busy and hid it in the cabinet. Then she went into the cabinet and had a chocolate feast in the dark.

When she had enough chocolate, she came out with her hands hidden behind her back with a chocolate smile from ear to ear and she said to Mark, “Daddy, you no can see my hands”. Mark couldn’t see her hands but he knew from the chocolate smeared all over her mouth that she had been up to no good. He peeked into the cabinet and saw the cake box. He asked her to see her hands and she showed him one that was perfectly clean. He asked to see the other and it was completely covered with chocolate.

Emma will not take “no” for an answer when she wants something. She is a very determined little girl. Mark and I couldn’t even get mad at her because first of all, it was really funny and second of all, we know it is in her genes:)

As a little girl, I remember doing a lot of sneaky things with junk food because I loved it and my parents didn’t buy it often. I guess that is why I was addicted to cod liver oil pills as a child…LOL. I know it sounds gross but my mom bought some that were small and orange in color – a bit larger than a tic tac. They were crunchy (and I LOVE crunchy) and they were the closest thing I had to candy. I would ask my brother (13 months older than myself) to pull a chair from the kitchen table to the counter for me and then I would climb onto the chair, then onto the counter and then would open the cabinet above the sink to get to my cod liver oil pills. I would reward him for his hard work by giving him a pill or two. I of course would reward myself with handfuls for having to climb so high to get the darn things.

So, now that Emma is up to no good sneaking around with a chocolate cake, I must say that it is not her fault. It is in her genes and she can’t help it!

Kudos to Emma for her wisdom at such a young age. We are headed for trouble people. Stay tuned for more adventures with Emma the Great!

Emma’s Tech Tip – Twitter

This week’s tech tip will focus on twitter. What is twitter? I’m glad you asked. Twitter is one of those applications whose value proposition is hard to describe. In fact, once I tell you what it does you will probably scratch your head and say, “Why would anyone want to do that?” or “That sounds pretty useless”. Both reactions are normal and expected. In fact, that was my opinion in the beginning, and to some degree it still is. But being the early adopter that I am, I am giving it the old college try, and at the moment, it doesn’t suck.

Twitter is a social networking service that allows you to post personal messages about yourself. Think of it as a place to deposit the random thoughts you have during the course of a day while you are sitting in traffic, waiting for the bus, nailing that job interview, listening to the cell phone conversation of the jackass sitting next to you at the airport, etc. The idea is to keep you connected (in a disconnected world) with friends and family by sharing information that lets them know what you have been up to, even if you have not talked in a week, or a month, or a year. Of course this works best if you have someone to share your “tweets” with.

One caveat of this service is that the messages you post are limited to 140 characters. So your thoughts must be succinct. This limitation means that you can “tweet” (that’s what it is called when you post a message) via text message from your cell phone. That is where the service really shines because all my inspired thoughts come when I am away from my computer.

You can also integrate your tweets into your website or blog as I have done (see “Twitter Updates” on the left side of this page). Now you can all see what the gerbils in my brain are up to.

Girl Over Board!

I wasn’t kidding when I said that Emma loved the water. In this picture, Elena can be seen giving Emma “the dip”. This is the process whereby Emma sits on Elena’s feet partially submerged in the water and Elena hoists her up so that Emma hovers above the surface. Then after a few second hold, Emma is lowered back into the water below, to which she shrieks and laughs and then says, “More”. Sharing Emma’s awe and wonderment to the world around her is probably the greatest pleasure Elena and I can have. Little by little Emma grows a little older, a little wiser, and we allow her to experience things in new ways.

Emma’s Tech Tip – Google Alerts

Previously I told you how Google was poised to take over the world. Today I am going to introduce you to one of their many “killer” applications, Google Alerts.

Google Alerts is a free tool that allows you to schedule searches. Why would you want to schedule a search? Say you wanted to know whenever your name was mentioned anywhere on the internet. A scheduled search allows you to automatically have a search performed weekly, daily, or as-it-happens. Results are emailed to you at those scheduled intervals. Google allows you to configure scores of these alerts so you can automate the process of searching for things you are interested in. So say you love a particular show, sports figure, actor, product, company, etc. You can get “timely” (and that is the operative key word here) updates relative to your search.

You might think that this is a tool for tech geeks but I assure you that it is not. I see professionals from all walks of life using this tool, and it is easy to figure out who they are. Take for example Jose Pino. A guy who I have never met but whom I appropriately gave props to in the “Paper Plate Speaker Project“. Within a few days he chimed in with a comment on Emma’s Web Page. Clearly a Google Alert user who has a rule configured to search the Internet and report back to him anytime his name appears somewhere. I do the same thing which is extremely convenient.

The Internet is full of cool and useful applications. It is my and Emma’s goal to introduce some of these tools that you may not otherwise learn about, so that you may leverage the full potential (or at least 5%) of the Internet.

So if you are feeling like a hero, go over to Google Alerts now and set up your first filter. If you found this information helpful feel free to leave a comment here to let us know. Feedback (especially positive) is always welcome.