Emotional Intelligence

One of my biggest challenges has been how to properly interact with the emotions of a child. Luckily, Baba had heard of a book that could help!

When we were in Portland for the first time, we went to the wonderful Powell’s Books and bought Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child – The Heart of Parenting.

The book itself was written almost 22 years ago, however the content is still highly relevant today. 

The book contains several tests to give yourself which help you to better understand your parenting style. Next is learning how a few broad parenting styles function and how you specifically intersect with those to form your own current parenting style.  The book then spends the majority of content describing the optimal parenting style of emotion coaching. 

When I first started reading about emotion coaching, I thought that I was already mostly in that parenting style. I quickly figured out how wrong I was!  After reading even a small portion of the book and how to apply the skills in real world interactions, I was able to see real results. 

An example would be if Kaili became upset such as if we were not listening to her while she was talking. She may be crying, and the old me may have said something about not needing to cry and that I’m listening now. While it’s true that I would then be listening, that response negates her feelings and is not helpful for future occurrences. 

A better response which fits into the emotion coaching parenting style would be to walk over to Kaili and crouch down to her level. Then ask her if we can breathe to calm down some so we can talk about what happened. This simple act also allows me to keep my own emotions in check while simultaneously helping her to see that I’m with her while she comes down. After we have calmed down, I would ask if we can ‘talk about it.’  We would then restate what happened and label the emotions she had felt. At the same time, we would acknowledge her emotions as valid while providing alternative ways we can deal with similar situations in the future. 

Although the above example requires a little more time than the former example, we were able to label emotions that previously were not tangible and also able to quickly workshop positive solutions for similar future experiences. This helps Kaili to grow emotionally in a wonderful way. 

In closing, I have learned a great deal from this book. I have tried to apply the skills to interactions with a variety of social interactions even beyond the parent-child dynamic. I highly recommend this book and feel it can help others in the same way it has helped me. 

Love as always, Daddy

Catching up

I realize it has been a substantial amount of time since an update has been posted here! A great number of things have changed since November, 2017.

In the time which has passed, we have moved due to a job change and have now been on the West coast for over two years.

You’re now almost 3 1/2 years old. It’s amazing how the time has gone past so quickly, and yet it’s easy to look back and remember all of the big moments.

You’ve had your first steps, your first day at a daycare away from home, and meeting new friends at school and in the neighborhood. Recently we’ve started to learn how to read and getting excited at learning what the words look like for some of our favorite things (such as CAT)!

Baba and I love you greatly and enjoy seeing our happy and thoughtful girl growing into a great young lady!

While this post is short tonight, I wanted to be sure to get a note out regardless.

As we say to each other at night:

I love you Kaili!

I love you too!

10 months in

Kaili Month 9

Today, Kaili is 10th months old!  Click the photo above for a mini album of photos from about the past month of Kaili, Baba, and Dada!

The past few months have been a whirlwind for sure.  Kaili, you’ve really sprouted up especially once you neared 9 months of age.  You were doing an awesome and quick army crawl, but just before 9 months of age you very quickly figure out how to properly crawl.  Ever since then you’ve only gotten better at it and moving ever faster.  In the past few weeks you’ve even started to go up to objects and pull yourself up.  Even more recently you started to sit on your legs and keep yourself upright, then go back into a crawl to move around.

At least a few times a week we play on the piano.  You really enjoy when I play the melody for Old MacDonald, one of the few things I know how to play!  I’m slowly trying to learn some piano basics while you play with the keys in front of me.  Fun times with Daddy!

Baba likes nap time with you and reading you books.  It’s especially cute when you both cuddle in bed for a short nap together!

You usually sleep pretty good through the night although you do need a snack at times.  You’re still drinking a lot of formula, but Grandma Xu feeds you rice with shredded chicken and you also get some other good foods.  Yesterday you even had some macaroni and cheese that I made.  There’s nothing like Kraft box mac and cheese – and that may be a good thing!

You haven’t gotten any teeth yet, but that will probably be coming up soon enough.  You’re also becoming quite the babbler with real words not far off!

It’s hard to believe you’re already 10 months old, Kaili!  It’s fun seeing you grow up and being together with you and Baba – the world is ready for us all to explore together!



Eight Months Old 

Today, Kaili is eight months old!  Our little girl isn’t so little anymore!

Lots of good ways to hold the keyboard while working… #keyboard #babygirl #baby #workinghard

A post shared by KeithMcD (@keithmcd) on

The last eight months have gone by quickly with the last week being especially momentous.  Kaili made her first words yesterday and is also starting to crawl forward!

Kaili is in a pretty good routine now getting a bottle at about 9 pm and then sleeping until about 1 am. Another bottle tides her over until about 7 am or so on most nights. On occasion I will still get a hint of the food coma smile, but those cute events are becoming less frequent. Apart from eating 24 ounces or so daily via formula, Kaili is also eating second stage baby food daily. She loves chicken, vegetables, and some fruit but some fruit is quite tart for her so she gives some funny faces.

Several Weeks ago Kaili started moving, although it was backwards instead of forwards. Since then, she has rocked back and forth a lot and frequently picks herself to look around – especially when she’s in her crib!  In the last few days though, Kaili has improved her crawling forward movements. Yesterday she quite quickly was crawling forward to reach my phone and glasses. She’s going to rule the house soon!

Lastly, Kaili has started talking!  It started with babbling quite a lot with some fun growling mixed in. At first she was making sounds similar to ‘ma’ but yesterday it culminated into the actual word ‘mei mei’ which in Chinese means little sister. It’s frequently used by Chinese to call younger girls that. Here’s hoping she makes ‘baba’ or ‘dada’ her next words. I’m going to try my best for that outcome!

It’s exciting to see Kaili growing up. She’s gone from this teeny tiny 5.5 lb baby who was so small and fragile to a growing baby girl who is now crawling and trying to speak!  We can’t wait to see what’s next for Kaili’s development!




Bob looking after Kaili during a nap
Bob looking after Kaili during a nap
Naps are something adults do not get enough of but kids are experts at taking. During the day, Kaili will take a few naps to recharge and be ready to play even more. 

I’ve started to wonder, though, about what a baby may be thinking about after they wake up from that nap?  More specifically, when they wake up to find themselves in a completely different place from where they were before!

Kaili after waking from a nap
Kaili after waking from a nap

Yesterday, Kaili fell asleep for a short nap after eating a few ounces of formula. I then packed her up gently and securely into her car seat and off we went for some grocery shopping. On the way to the first store, she woke up and cried some but then had the above expression. What was going through Kaili’s mind?  Was it just shock from having woken up, or is it more confusion on how she got to where she is now?  It must be startling to have fallen asleep in someone’s arms and be put down somewhere comfy and then to suddenly wake up in a moving vehicle strapped into a car seat!

Babies, frankly, are pretty helpless for a while after birth. They must be constantly tended to with feedings, diaper changes, interactions, and moving from one place to the next. They do have their own little ways of giving back to the parents and caretakers though. Whether it’s by holding their feet during diaper changes, by starting to crawl or roll over, or by starting to babble and make raspberries. Or, more simply, it could be just those little hands roaming across your skin playfully, or by flashing you a tiny post-feeding smile as if to say “Oh yeah – that food was soooo good. I’m happy and I want to say thanks with my cute smile!”



Six months in

Today marks Kaili’s six month milestone!  She has changed a lot in the past six months so I thought it good to look back on the last few months and reminisce. 

I’ve been reading the book “Does this baby make me look straight?  Confessions of a gay Dad” by Dan Bucatinsky recently. We had received the book a few years ago from a LGBT families event we went to in Lafayette, Indiana but I hadn’t started actually reading it until recently. It’s a pretty funny book but also insightful and interesting. However, there have been bits that have made me think back to January and how much has happened since then. 

I always thought that once our daughter was born we would be staring at her in a room full of babies sleeping while we then would go back to ours to sleep some before inevitably being woken up to handle Kaili again. But that’s not how Mayo Clinic works. Kaili was born in Rochester, Minnesota at the Mayo Clinic. Everyone there, including our wonderful surrogate and her husband, are great. But I wasn’t expecting Kaili to be sleeping (in little spurts) in our room!  Once Kaili was born, we were all taken to the post-birth wing and Zhengbin and I were taken to our room while Stacy was taken to her own nearby. Having Kaili in the room with us teaches responsibility from the first minute and they also have strict rules that she can never be alone. One of us always had to stay while the other would be able to go get dinner, etc.  The staff would always swing by constantly to help out and teach us on how to do things and give little pointers on how to make things easier. One thing I realized after leaving the hospital was that we never once had to actually change a merconium filled diaper!  If you are wondering what that is, imagine black tar in place of poop. It’s gross and very dense. The nurses always happened to be around during those stools so we would learn, but didn’t actually deal with it!

You always hear people say to enjoy sleeping while you can. We certainly were pampered by Stacy and Shaun pre-birth during our stay at their home. I didn’t realize just how sleep deprived we would actually be though. The first month was very little sleep and just in short spurts. Kaili had high bilirubin levels, as many babies do. Not high enough to need a blue light treatment, but enough that our pediatrician wanted us to feed her every two hours for several weeks. I was very lucky that my employer gave me so much parental leave. I wouldn’t have been able to work during that time anyway. You’ll hear this from any pediatrician, although you wouldn’t generally think of it yourself, but a feeding every two hours means from start to start. That really only leaves 1.5 hours (at best) to sleep or do anything before it’s time to prepare for another feeding. That’s quite draining. 

Eventually things start to settle down and normalize. Kaili started to sleep a bit longer and before long got into the same routine she still is today – feeding about every three hours during the day. It was probably around two or three months that she started sleeping longer overnight. At first it was 3 hours but now she can go seven hours or more overnight!  Of course there are still nights when she’s up every two to three hours, but those aren’t too often. 

One of the cutest things Kaili had done, from early on even, is what I call a food coma. I define a food coma as those moments after becoming full from a feeding and just in pure bliss. She stops sucking on the bottle and a smile creeps across her face. Then it goes away. Then it comes back even bigger. Usually a food coma is emphasized by slightly open eyes. If I smile at her while she’s in this state the smile comes back even larger than before. It’s quite cute and fun. It’s also a very worthwhile end to somewhat challenging times at late night feedings. 

Did you know we have these things called feet?  They are fun appendages!  In the past one month or so Kaili has very much enjoyed playing with her feet. She’ll grab them and bring them to her face. Sometimes a toe goes in the mouth, but there’s always a smile. That cute smile just makes everything better. Even writing this, just thinking about that smile is making me smile!  Kaili has recently started finding she can slam her feet down and make these loud noises. Noises are very fun!  The couch makes loud deep sounds. But the plastic footrest on the high chair makes fun loud noises so that when the feet get super active. 

Kaili’s usages of her hands has also evolved. In the beginning it was the wonderful palmar reflex. That is when a baby in the first two months instinctively grasps a finger or other object. It’s one of the best things and really cute. However, as one of my Facebook friends from Australia said, it’s even better when they start doing it because they want to. And that started a month or so ago. Kaili will not hold my fingers more out of want, although I’m sure there is still a lot of reflex there. But now it seems to soothe her more during feedings and calms her down. When not holding onto a hand, her fingers love to roam around. She loves to hear her fingernails move across surfaces and hear the sounds it makes. It’s an interesting feeling when she does it on my face or arms as well. Somewhat like she’s playing the piano on me or strumming a guitar. 

Kaili’s cognition and vocal range have also evolved. Since she’s a pretty happy baby, she generally only cries when she’s suddenly very hungry or wanting something. Her voice to indicate these items has changed to have more variations in vocal range. As well, she has definitely started laughing quite a lot!  She is beginning to be a bit ticklish but mainly laughs at funny sounds and really big smiles. Kaili will also smile a lot if someone smiles really big at her. 

Finally, Kaili’s food choices have changed. A week ago Kaili had her first taste of real baby food with sweet peas. She has had a bit of rice before that, but she was loving being spoon-fed the peas. Kaili also is still getting her regular bottles of formula but with either rice cereal or oatmeal mixed in. She now eats between four or five ounces per feeding. 

It’s been an exciting six months with many developments and more to come!  Kaili is standing with assistance although she hasn’t started crawling yet. Pretty soon it’ll be hard to keep her still and she’ll be all over the house!



Catching up

It’s hard to believe it’s been two and a half months already since my last update here! A lot has changed with our little girl!

In the time that has passed she has become much more active. She now rolls over on her own onto her side and also moves around her crib. She is also starting to enjoy sounds more such as strumming her fingers against surfaces to hear the sounds and presumably feel the surface as well. 

Kaili is starting to pass objects between hands. An example is a small dog stuffed animal that she will pass between her hands and her mouth. Related, Kaili is also starting to pick up objects and bring them to her mouth. She looked at a pacifier in her crib yesterday and when I gave it to her she brought it to her mouth.  Some assistance was needed though to get the right side in first.  🙂

Kaili is a very happy baby. She gets a lot of love from both sides of the family as well as her two daddies. She loves to laugh, kick her feet on surfaces, and smile. She’s got a great, pretty smile!  

In two weeks Kaili will be six months old. It’s surprising how fast time goes and how much she has changed. They really do grow up fast!  We went through many of her clothes this weekend and sorting out what doesn’t fit. I pulled out some special clothes to keep for her very own baby box to reminisce together over. 

Looking forward to all the coming changes and developments with our little one!

Love, Daddy

Although I haven’t been posting her as often as I like, I’ve got a lot of photos and videos with some posted on Instagram. 

Three months old!

Today, Kaili turned three months old!  Although only three months old, she’s now been to four other countries (Canada, Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium) and traveled to Minnesota, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and New York – wow!

This weekend we visited the James Garfield house in Mentor, OH and went on a hike through the North Chagrin Reservation.  It was a truly beautiful weekend with perfect weather!

Kaili is progressing well and is now easily tracking us while we talk and making cooing sounds back.  We need to increase tummy time to further help with neck control, but if sitting up, Kaili is able to hold her head pretty good!

Kaili – you’re quickly developing and growing more and more into our little girl!  We can’t wait to see what you do next on your path and to give you all the support possible!



A Multi-Country Tour

(This post is about our last full day in Netherlands – Friday March 10, 2017)

Friday started like the rest of the week, but ended with quite the adventure and visiting two more countries!

We ate breakfast while Baba went to work for some meetings. I packed most of our luggage while you slept. I then took a nap while we finished waiting for Baba to come back to the hotel.

Once back, we all headed out on a fun day through Europe!  We decided that we wanted to visit Germany and Belgium – two countries that were pretty close to Eindhoven. On the way to our first stop of Aachen, Germany, we stopped in Weert in the Netherlands for a very quick lunch. Somehow we ended up eating at a McDonalds!  After lunch we headed to Aachen to visit the Aachen Cathedral – one of the prime landmarks. It turns out that the city was much more dense than we presumed. After finding a parking spot and navigating the parking meter, we quickly found the Cathedral and took some photos. After driving around a bit more we stopped for a few minutes while Baba went to get some photos with another iconic building.

Next, we left for a spot called Three Countries point. This is where The Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium meet. It is here where you can truly be in three countries at once!  A friendly couple from New Zealand took a photo of us all in multiple countries!  There is also a hedge labyrinth at the location, but it appeared to be closed for the season.

Finally, we headed to Belgium where we would eat dinner!  Our journey took us through several very small towns and then plopped us directly into the third largest city in Belgium. We found a very tight parking lot with one space. Next we walked around until we picked a restaurant. It is interesting that French is almost exclusively spoken here. Finally – a chance to use some of our very limited French skills. It turns out our skills were quite poor, but we were able to order successfully.  The food itself was ok. My kebab was a bit too chewy, but it was fine. After paying, we made our way back to the car then headed back to the hotel

Our last night in Europe was an adventurous one!  We can’t wait to go on more adventures with you!

On Saturday, we headed back home.  You were a model baby – quiet and considerate of the other passengers on the plane!  🙂




Eindhoven in a Week

This post is more an overview of our week in Eindhoven. It was a much less action-packed time than the previous weekend, but still quite enjoyable!

During the week your Baba was gone during the day as he had a very busy work schedule – which was the entire reason we were able to visit the Netherlands!  He picked up breakfast at our hotel, the Holiday Inn Eindhoven, then drove to work in Best – about 15 minutes away.

On Monday, I strapped you into the baby carrier and went for breakfast. You grabbed the attention of all the wait staff – you’re just too cute to ignore!  After breakfast, I sat in the lobby and started writing the previous post on your site while waiting for the luggage to arrive. I was ecstatic to see it being brought in and immediately went to sign for it from the delivery man. After unpacking, we went outside for lunch and a walk around the local shopping plaza. We saw the statue for Frits Philips, the son of the founder of Philips. Philips is a huge name and brand in Netherlands. After walking around some more, I settled on something familiar – KFC. I had the B.O.S.S. (Big Original Sanders Sandwich) meal. Afterwards, it was back to the hotel to nap and then I had to work as well. In the evening, we went to Ilio’s – a Greek restaurant with Baba and two of his colleagues. I was worried the food would be tiny portions but it was plenty of food and quite delicious. They even gave us shots of Uzo – way too strong for my taste!

On Tuesday, we once again had breakfast together.  I worked in the morning this time which meant I was working at around 3am Eastern!  At about 2pm, we went out for a walk near the shops again. I was surprised to see that a large number of street vendors had setup shop. People were selling lots of food and fruits and vegetables in one section, bolts of fabric in another, and pretty much anything else interspersed. Among the food, cheese seems to be a particular interest among the people here.

I ended up making my way to the grocery store chain Albert Heijn. I wanted some Sprite and also wanted to see what else was interesting. I found some delicious looking pastries and some sugar bread which I bought along with 1.5L of Sprite. It seemed like a good price of just over €6.5. Next I went back to the street vendors. There was one who was selling some food I wanted to try. However, it was 3pm by this time and all the vendors were tearing down for the day.

After going back to the room, I fed you again and got some more work accomplished. We then went for dinner at Sopranos – a Mediterranean restaurant. Tonight we went with the colleagues from Monday, along with another colleague and her husband. I really enjoyed our conversations along with the abundance of food!

On Wednesday, the weather turned quite gloomy. It rained quite heavily almost the entire day. You were a bit fussy during breakfast, so I took the rest up to our room and ate there after I’d fed you. After I ate we slept until about 2pm!  My lunch today was leftovers from Sopranos the night before. I then went into a conference call for work and simultaneously was keeping you happy!  You decided to be wide awake at that time. 🙂

In the evening, Baba cane back and we all went to Best for a dinner with a colleague we had met the first night in Eindhoven. She was wonderful to chat with and the food was quite good. I had delectable ribs. The challenging part of the meal was ordering – the entire menu was solely in Dutch!  I ended up using Google Translate’s live translate mode. My phone’s camera was instantly translating whatever I was looking at. After dinner, we dropped the colleague at the train station then headed home. After we both did some more work, it was off to sleep!

On Thursday the weather broke!  You were better during breakfast although you were definitely looking around more. Again, the wait staff enjoyed looking back at you!  After eating it was back to the room. I was getting quite tired quickly so put you in the Boppy pillow next to me on the huge bed and held you while I drifted in and out of sleep. You decided I didn’t need too much sleep, however so you woke me up at about noon. I fed you some while the room service changed ou the bed clothes.

We then left the room to visit the Philips Museum!  The museum itself is located in the original building owned by the Philips brothers where they experience experimented making light bulbs. The museum was actually pretty small but had some interesting exhibits showing Philips products through the years. They also had some interactive exhibits to demonstrate potential of the future.

Afterwards it was back to the hotel for work. Later we went to dinner at a Japanese Sushi bar then called it a day.

Friday brought even more adventures!