Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Our grand plans of going to San Diego or Santa Barbara were put aside when we realized everybody and their grandma would be there and we would be payinig a high premium to join in. Why bother with the herds of crowds and wait until another less-crowded weekend was our thought. So we decided to do things around town, go to a few parties, make dinners, brew Sangria, and pretty much go on an eating spree.
We went to Whole Foods on 4 consecutive days and on Monday, the “crazy eyed” checker (our nickname since she has this really weird wandering eye) couldn’t help but hone us down on every visit and make comments about the stuff we were buying. Like $6 Sheer Bliss Pomegranate Ice Cream with Premium Dark Chocolate –yum! We always see her but didn’t realize that she knows allot about us just from observation. She talked about our infant daughter like she knew her in High School. I guess that crazy eye sees more than we thought.
Early Saturday we made a visit to the L.A. Zoo. This was my wife and daughter’s first visit and my first in about 10 years. I came out with a few observations, 1) English is a second language 2) Most food outlets have really authentic Mexican food like ‘carne asada’ 3) Where’d the Elephants and Gorilla’s go? (They’re doing a rehab of the popular exhibits, with no completion dates). 4) Everybody and their neighbor was there. 5) I don’t remember Flamingo’s smelling that bad. Oh and did I mention that some kid asked his mom if Antonio Villaraigosa was the president of California while my wife and daughter were “getting a closer look” at yelling monkeys?
Later that day we went to our old neighbors new house up the street (I had mentioned before how they sold their house on a whim) for a dinner party thing. The best part wasn’t just the curiosity factor to see their new HUGE house and wonder why they would move from our small neighborhood, but also eating the grilled oysters. Their new house is very nice, but the backyard---outdoor fireplace, bar with grill, waterfall Jacuzzi, deck amazing view. Between their backyard and our friends Steve & Rick (HGTV just remodeled their backyard) we now have major backyard envy.
Soon after, my grandfather came up to have dinner with us (all of those oysters made me hungry) and stayed with us until Sunday afternoon until friends came over to make food and eat again. And then again on Monday.
I think we needed Tuesday off to recover from the weekend.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
So I've been away from the computer all weekend, which was nice in a strange way. Only to turn it on again and see this baby with 3 arms! This has to be a parent’s worse nightmare. When my wife was pregnant, I had a dream like this once, but the baby had more limbs and had a frog tongue that stole my French Fries and took strangers wallets.
Friday, May 26, 2006
I may be getting more attentive to this, but kids these days are getting worse since my days as a teenager (not too long ago- I think), or I’m turning into a prude. Yesterday afternoon I opened our windows only to hear around 4 teenagers playing basketball on our small street yelling Sh*t and F***, really loud, when they missed the “hoop” or something like that. All while I was feeding Cheerios to my daughter who was talking in gibberish (I imagined her just throwing the Cheerio and yelling 'Sh** Dadda!!'). I immediately walked outside and told the kids “Hey guys, watch the language, I can hear you like you're in my breakfast nook”. Most of the kids are friends of one of the neighbors, but their reaction was that of “What’d I do?” even to the point of one of the kids saying “Huh? We didn’t cuss”. Really? The kids did stop and were pretty quiet afterwords, which was good. Somehow I don't think they're use to somebody calling them on swearing.
I don’t know what the deal is these days, call it parent-syndrome, but I’m getting more irritated with it. Yeah, I hear it at work, sometimes I or friends say something in context of a story (with adults around), but we don't use F*** like saying “the”.
Practical Parent: Swearing
Thursday, May 25, 2006
A victory for parents like me who hated this idea in the first place. Hasbro is now backing away from the idea of creating these hoochie's into dolls that were intended for girls 6 and up because of parental outcry. The Dads and Daughters organization lead the way.
Listen, I'm sure PCD are nice girls with very high IQ's and debating skills (and look really good doing it in latex) I just don't want them making dolls for little girls.
Story from Blogging Baby
Digital Spy UK (Original story)
Burlesque is Not Child’s Play
No. We get this question all the time these days now that our daughter is 10-months. But she still isn’t crawling, and really hates to be on her stomach for more than a few minutes. Although she has been standing (holding onto things like chairs, sofa’s, etc.) for some time now, walks while we hold her hands, and points to where she wants to go. At first, I thought something was wrong because she didn’t even attempt to crawl. Reading all the books, guides, doctor office literature, online, you get this feeling that you did something wrong along the way, stuff went through my head like ‘maybe I shouldn’t have given my wife a sip of soda when she was 5 months pregnant—now our baby will never get into college because the caffeine stumped her development!!’ Yes, that’s what goes though my mind.
But I read something that eased my fears today from Huggies “Happy Baby” (by the way—I don’t really trust diaper companies and their “let your child stay in diapers until they’re in 2nd grade approach” but the site is interesting) which was the first time I saw this nugget of information:
“Not all babies crawl before they learn to walk. In general, babies are achieving motor milestones at a later age than they did 15 or 20 years ago, in part because most of them are now put to sleep on their back. The Back to Sleep Campaign has significantly reduced the risk of SIDS, but the unintended fallout is that babies spend less time on their stomach.”
Yes, she does everything on her back because SIDS was always portrayed, at least to us, as the #1 killer of babies. It’s actually the 3rd,. #1 is birth defects, #2 premature/low birth weight -- the SIDS (which in itself is serious and tragic) campaign never announces the first two for some reason (?) and we became extremely paranoid about any notion of her spending more than a few minutes on her stomach for fear that the tragic could happen right before our eyes. Thanks SIDS campaign – in my book - for taking this to the extreme.
Now I know where the term “Tummy Time” came from later, to help compensate what babies have been doing for millions of years – spending more time on their stomachs.
On the bright side, I’m not feeling too bad about her skipping this crawling business anymore now that it seems like it wasn’t stuff like soda. Strangely, out of all this, it is a little nice not having to chase her around the house as other friends with infants around the same age have. We can still put her in one place without worrying about her sneaking off and pulling down the wine rack or dumping dishes on the floor. Which reminds me, maybe I should start baby proofing…
CDC Mortality Tables
March of Dimes: Infant Mortality Overview
Huggies Happy Baby: How Baby Learns to Crawl
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Two women in my boxing class at the gym last night scared the bejesus out of me. What started out as a light conversation about one of the women's daughter getting married next month turned into a bucket of teenage horrors stories! Not only teen stories, but serious problems raising their teenage daughters in what they described as "affluent" area. Older guys who prey on them at the malls, high school parties, getting them hooked on meth, drugs, and taking advantage of them. Kids with cash, who get into trouble and parents who are in denial about it. Argh! And then to make me feel better, one of them told me "all kids get into trouble like this, so expect it". What? When my wife and I were teenagers we didn't even get into 2% of what they've told me. Which had me wondering how can parents become so complacent about this stuff?
I wonder if my daughter can just skip High School like Doogie Houser.
On the other side-what's with the search still going on for Jimmy Hoffa? I thought he was buried under some pitchers mound in Hawaii, or Kansas.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Oh, those Spice Girls think they can do anything they want, even name their kid Bluebell. Why Ginger Spice, why? I've heard some pretty odd names, but this one is weird. I would have gone with the expected 'Ginger 2: Electric Boogaloo' or 'Jenny', but that's me.
Whatever, this still isn't going to change my opinion of the movie Spice World - my favorite bad movie of all time.
Washington Post: Geri Halliwell Names Baby Bluebell Madonna
Monday, May 22, 2006
That’s what my credit card’s fraud department asked when they called. My almost immediate reaction was “how does somebody even spend that much at Old Navy?!” (Unless they bought that plastic dog and truck that holds those “Amazing Deal of the Week” $4 t-shirts too.)
So somebody swiped my card number, expiration, made some phony card, pretended to be me and went shopping in Maryland (I’m in California) a few minutes after I went shopping at my local Trader Joe’s. After getting away with this they even hit up a Circuit City, but thankfully my card company knows I don’t shop there for (or any brick- and-mortar shop for electronics anymore) and rejected the $3200 purchase. Which had me thinking, don’t these stores check ID when somebody is making a huge purchase? I don’t get it, when I was in High School/College working some register at any job, I always checked ID when people used a credit card. Places these days are so relaxed that they don’t check anymore, and criminals know it. It’s irritating!
Friday, May 19, 2006
Last night my wife and I attended our local police department’s Neighborhood Watch training meeting. I have to admit, walking in I felt like our little neighborhood was under attack and had a bad crime spree going on with these recent 2 home burglaries and that the police should be out with swat team ready to make a bust. But compared to some other places, our problems seem really, really minor. Graffiti sting operations (I learned that these guys travel in packs of 4 and 90% of the time are Jr. High, High School Kids), known drug houses (which has a host of other crimes associated with it and are hard to warrant with the recently passed Calif. lenient drug laws releasing these guys within days of arrest –starting the process over again…), Sex offenders, Teenage reckless drivers, Teenage take-over party houses, Teenage ‘anything’.
When it ended, I came out with 2 solutions. 1-Hard line drug laws are good for law enforcement, get rid of the crime magnets and good for neighborhoods. 2-Put all the Teenagers in Jail from ages 15-19.
I have turned into that grouchy old guy who yells at kids to stay off his lawn and turns the sprinklers on when kids are around. Sweet!
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Our once “no crime ever happens here” neighborhood has had a crime spree just within the last 2 months. 2 houses had break-ins late in the night/early morning hours where the burglars entered through the outside garage door and then into the house- in one case while the people were upstairs asleep! Very spooky, indeed and I don’t want to blame the victims here but what are people doing leaving there doors unlocked in the first place? Then, 4 cars had break-ins parked on the street. The neighbors (around 67 houses in our sub-development) thankfully have gotten pretty serious about this and have formed a militia. Well, not really but a neighborhood watch with people taking turns patrolling the streets at night between 12-midnight and 5am, with flashlights and dogs (I hope rottweilers, pit bulls, and eye-pecking hawks!).
Now send in the clowns. ADT Home Security use to send there salesmen-in-training into our neighborhood trying to sell their over-priced monitoring systems and contracts years ago. They stopped when nobody bought into it and were never heard from again. They’re back! And this time with tall-tales of rapes, gunpoint robberies, and burglars burning homes down with children trapped inside with police/firemen nowhere to be found. BUT they’ll protect you, just buy a system starting at $500, and their “special pricing” home monitoring (because they care!) 5-year (auto-renewing) contract at only $40.99. But because they like us (must be the hair?), they’ll drop it to $29.99/month. Are you kidding?! I swear, I’m not a conspiracy guy, but I think they might be causing the crime here trying to sell systems. That, or they go phishing around the police reports using crime and fear as a selling leverage.
As for me, I’m not buying into it, and talking with a few of the neighbors, it seems like the rest aren’t either – for now. We’re leaving our outside lights on and keeping our dog outside at night. I’m even thinking of putting shaving cream around his mouth and buying him a spiked collar too! That should do the trick.
And tonight the neighborhood has a meeting at City Hall with the Sheriff’s on neighborhood watch training- I wonder if ADT will be standing outside the windows or hanging out in the parking lot like car salesmen, salivating with there eyes glowing red.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
So today I emailed my congressmen (persons) again. They must really like me, because half the time I get responses. Which is fun, sometimes they do read like form letters, and some like intern responses.
This time around it's all about Net Neutrality. I've been reading about this for some time now and have finally made the decision that I'm siding with the Save The Internet crowd rather than the truly misleading (and organization names) "Don't Regulate" and "Hands Off The Internet".
If you don't know anything about this, and care, read the thousands of articles and do the research on your own. I'm not going to tell people which side they should choose. If I had that kind of power to influence people, I would have everybody send me $100 and then build a secret lab embedded in a volcano.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
I came across this story about the expenses of raising a kid these days, the impact on the family finances and this little nugget hit me like a rock – “according to the U.S. Agriculture Department, Last year, a middle-income family spent an average of $190,980 to feed, house, clothe and entertain a child from birth until age 18, with the preteen and teenage years taking the heaviest toll”.
What?! That’s $10,610 a year. And add college to that - that’s the price of a kidney, or lung on the black market.
It also goes on to talk about giving kids weekly allowances to prevent them from over indulgence and to learn budgeting. This is something my wife and I have talked about in regards to our daughter and have asked other parents if they give their kids allowances. To our surprise not many do, and if they do give allowances it usually supplements the “hey mom I need $15 for the movies” cash – so what’s the point? Reading this article, a common rule is to give kids $.50-$1 each weekly for every year of their age. I don’t know about that, giving a 5 year-old $5 a week seems a bit much. Unless of course she’s buying her own clothes, then from a Dad’s point-of-view that’s a bargain (she definitely won’t be shopping at Limited Too).
Parents of teens ride waves of expenses
USA Today: Tips on budgeting for your teen's expenses
Monday, May 15, 2006
I came across this article today about some doctor’s clinic that actually let’s you choose the sex of your baby with 99% accuracy.
Man, this is weird from a personal perspective. When my wife and I were planning on having a baby, I was dead-scared of having a girl. Being a guy I couldn’t even imagine to be a father a girl. I was a teenage boy and single guy once and in my observation/experience it didn’t matter what kind of dad the girl had, she was going to be “loose” or have “pretty high standards” regardless of how strict her father was. My wife of course had her opinions, but to be honest if I had known about this and I had the choice I would say I would have made the ignorant choice to have a boy.
But now, after having my daughter and reading more, talking to other father’s of girls - I have more influence than I had once thought. I just hope people who make use of this really figure out their true reasoning first. From this article they put allot of focus on people who have 3 or 4 kids of the same sex and are trying to balance the outcome. I guess that makes sense from some point, but I have this gut feeling the vast majority are going to make choices out of sheer preconception of one gender over another. That’s frightening.
This is really weird; So I turn on the boob tube early yesterday morning, while my wife was getting ready for lunch, flipping through the channels as usual and guess what DirectTV is previewing – this channel, until the end of the month. And let me begin by saying the shows we came across looked HORRIBLE. Cheesy web flash-animation and really, really bad voice over --“Rainbow Horse”, “Sali Mali”, ‘Petey Paintbrush”. I never thought I would say this but it made Baby Einstein look like a Spielberg movie and Playhouse Disney look more like a Fellini Film as quality is concerned. I couldn’t help but wonder, what kind of parents would seriously shell out $10/month for that crap. I really think the programming was made in a basement and they used Chinese orphans to create the animation and some used car “salesmen of the month” to do the voices, because that’s what I saw. And then they put up these bad subtitles (I’m guessing to claim it’s “educational”) that says stuff like “Ask your child to Dance, or Point at the color Blue, or… beg your parents for this channel?”). So what did my 10-month daughter do? She didn’t even pay attention for more than a minute. I’ll probably tune in again to see other shows out of curiosity when I get the time.
As for the critics of this channel who are up and arms over this thing. I wouldn’t worry too much about it. If they keep up this kind of bad programming, it will eventually die out. Because no parents I know would pay $10 for something that looks like it came from the .99-cent store video section.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Thursday, May 11, 2006
It was a matter of time before somebody came up with this idea to offer some kind of dedicated channel for infants and toddlers. But at $10/month I personally would rather buy a Little Einstein, or Sesame Beginnings DVD before shelling out that kind of cash. Besides, my daughter watches only about 10-15 minutes of the stuff before she gets bored and starts chewing on something, or much more entertaining – staring at the dog.
The scary thing about this new channel is now lazy parents are training their kid’s at an even younger age to become couch potatoes (probably like themselves). I just read that in 2003, Kaiser Family Foundation did a “study” and found 26% of kids under 2 already have a TV in their room. That’s pretty sad but it’s the parent’s choice if they want the TV to be their special friend.
My wife and I went to some boutique-y kids store in the valley and came across this line of baby/toddler clothes. I usually don't find these places that entertaining. But the stuff created by a place call Wry Baby had another Dad and me laughing while the wives were gawking at tiny shoes or something along those lines. If their intention was to get Dads buying this stuff, it's working.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
A study came out today reported by the AP on how women looking for a long-term relationship like men who like children. It’s a pretty interesting read and I must say this is something I found out long ago. It reminded me of something I did once just after college, I babysat my much, much younger cousin who was 4 at the time and took him to out to eat and then to play at some place called Discovery Zone (like a Chuck E. Cheese’s, I think they’re no longer in business), but I met 2 girls that day. I remember talking to friends at the time that had never thought of that, and then were looking to borrow some kids from friends or family. The things guys do…Ironically; I didn’t meet my wife that way. We met in Paris and I didn’t have a kid with me.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
I can’t wait for the day my daughter is potty trained. I actually dream of the day she’s walking into the bathroom herself and takes care of her own business. And it’s experiences like what just happened that reaffirms my belief.
I lifted my daughter up, and heard/felt something like a “ball” noise rattling coming from her diaper. I quickly checked and didn’t see anything, but I went to change her diaper anyway only to discover a “poop marble”. Yes, marble, which when my daughter wiggled started to roll around in her diaper and then violently “jumped” off the changing table and rolled across the hardwood floor.
I came across some people awhile back who claim infants can be trained to use the toilet, “Diaper Free Baby” they call themselves. I laughed and thought what kind of people would go through the trouble. I’m not laughing anymore.
I came across this little “ Why Cry Baby Analyzer” computer gadget that claims it can analyze your baby’s cry and then tells you if she’s bored, hungry, annoyed, stressed, sleepy, etc. all for the low-low-price of $140 (yikes!). If this thing changed diapers, then I would consider it. Otherwise its no use to me, my wife and I can figure out our daughters moods on our own.
Monday, May 08, 2006
How surprising, this happened in Arkansas and not in California or New York initially. First of all, I’m not a big fan of all these anti-smoking bills (I’m not or was never a smoker) to the extremes like the city of Calabasas banning smoking anywhere outdoors. I hate smoker’s smoke invading my personal space as much as the next guy, and the benefit of not dealing with smokers isn’t bad incentive either so I’m not going out in the streets preventing these laws - there is a limit.
But in this case this seems like a common sense issue (too bad they have to make laws to make parents behave.) I can’t even imagine what kind of parent would put their kids through a smoke-filled car in the first place. Personally I’ve never actually seen anybody smoke with a kid in the car- maybe it’s pretty common in Arkansas? (Or kids in Arkansas to smoke over the age 7...) I’ll say one thing though, if a parent were smoking with a kid in the car here in California, the anti-smoking mafia would ram the car off the road and drag the driver out beating them in the street. At least in Calabasas.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
I came across this today - Disney opened their version of a "Libby Lu" (which as a Dad, I absolutely hate, because they pile slabs of makeup on girls to look like miniature drag queens) at Disney World: Downtown Disney last month, but instead of making up girls to look like little Brittany's, Paris's, and Lindsay's, this thing bills itself as Princess Boutique that makes the girls look like princesses.
They have this back-story where the place is owned by the Fairy Godmother herself and the people working their are Fairies in training or something like that. At first I thought this was pretty obscene, since most spa's now are catering to tween girls, but in this context I don't find it all that bad. I wouldn't go around sending my own daughter to this thing all the time ($35-$175! Yikes!), but when we do visit Disney World on those once in a while vacations, why not. Of course not the $175 package, that's just outrageous, my kingdom would go bankrupt spending that kind of cash.
Friday, May 05, 2006
I must admit, kids these days don’t know how good they have it. With their cell phone ring backs, 200+ cable channels, iPods, laptop computers…Power Wheels. Man, I really wish they had Power Wheels when I was a kid. Because if they did, chances are I could have been the coolest kid on the block with my Knight Rider: KITT 2000 Power Wheels (complete with the red-light tracers on the grill) and me sporting a black leather jacket, kid-fro, making citizen arrests to all the neighbors kids trampling over planters or modifying fireworks. Man, how sweet would that have been? Which had me thinking- Hey why couldn’t I create one for my daughter? Isn’t that what a small piece of parenting is all about – giving your child opportunities that weren’t available to you as a kid… or was it just living vicariously through them? Either way, I came across this really great website with other Dads who think like me on this issue, on the same wavelength, who also share the dream. God, isn’t the internet great!?
This has to be the strangest thing I’ve seen in awhile. Apparently China has recreated the Southern Californian neighborhood outside Beijing (wasn’t this an X-Files episode…?). From the pictures, it definitely looks like Irvine or Laguna Niguel. They say even the interior appliances and Pool tables (where real OC guys do business) are imported from the U.S., which is kind of bazaar – I thought that stuff was made over there in the first place? Anyhow, I think they should make a Chinese version of that cheesy TV show “The Real Housewives of Orange County, China”. And don't translate it, which would be very entertaining and likely better than the original.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
On Tuesday this week a high school not too far from where we live went into full police, lock-down mode, with TV cameras and reporters waiting for something to happen. After reading several things about it, I got bits of mixed information (most news around here is sensitive as to not upset any one group or groups) but it had something to do with a “Racial” brawl last Friday and then something to do about the immigration protest Monday, and then something about a MySpace Posting advocating, “attacking white girls with blond hair” and “Bring their weapons to school day”. And then you have a school district complaining how parents kept their junior high and high school age kids home that day.
Yes, and so it is - the life of a public High School in the L.A. area. Although thank God this doesn't happen too often, instances like this doesn't make it better. Even though our High School is on the other side of town, parents still kept their own kids home. Neighbors with kids in the schools tell us about how fights break out all the time over these stupid things. And some people wonder why we’re sending out daughter to private school beginning at Junior High.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
‘Lil Beater” tank tops, baby basketball uniforms, Velour Hoody's, 40 ouncers - milk tee's....Somebody please tell me this is a joke? All of these sound pretty funny-as a gag, but not to buy. I can't say that these guys are the first to do this, 'Nippaz With Attitude' has been around with baby/toddler street clothes for awhile now.
I read this morning how Walt Disney World is making a tamer version of their Mission: Space ride in Florida. I think this is a good idea, because when we were out in Florida, I was a little freaked out riding the thing (they spin you at 65 mph to get “weightless”-just thinking of that makes me queasy.)
I swear some rides these days scare me. They’re getting faster, loopier; I’m just waiting for the day when some roller coaster will just slam people against a brick wall- just for the shear thrill. I’m not sure when my threshold for these things came down. I use to ride them all the time (except maybe for a few of those questionable carnie rides), it could have been as early as 8 years ago when I stepped off a twisty roller coaster at Six Flags and the ground was moving for a few minutes. Then I did the Danny Glover line from Lethal Weapon “I’m getting to old for this…shee-ot”. It’s not that I don’t like fast rides, I just know my limit, just like drinking. When I was younger, I could drink more, these days it just has a greater affect on the machinery.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
..And my "use to go clubbing in Paris, booty-shaking" wife can't wait. If you haven't heard of these, it's a pretty fun idea. This place goes around to cities and sets up a pre-dinner "clubbing" afternoon playing 70's and 80's music spun by a real DJ. Except everything is kid-friendly for the preschool/toddler/parent crowd down to the bubble machines, diaper-changing stations, and healthy snacks. And now they'll be setting up shop at a place that use to be The Martini Lounge - A place notorious for go-go dancers and Sushi. I predict this thing is going to be huge here because any mention of this to friends with kids gets an enthusiastic "WHEN? WHERE?!!" 'Calgon take me away...' reaction. Especially from the moms.
Monday, May 01, 2006
So over the weekend we went to the L.A. Times Festival of Books at UCLA. We haven’t been there in a few years, because we’re always forgetting. But this year was different, it turned out to be a really nice weekend and gas prices haven’t hit $4 here - yet.
An interesting thing though about this thing was noticing how many celebrities write children’s’ books, and they’re presence there was pretty obvious. While I was getting a book signed by Lauren Child (Charlie and Lola creator – great books and show on Playhouse Disney), Henry Winkler (the ‘Fonz’) was sitting right next to her. I had no idea the guy wrote a series of books. He seemed pretty personable, taking pictures with people and their kids – I even saw him do the Fonz ‘thumbs-ups’. That was pretty cool! Billy Crystal was there later in the day and John Lithgow as well (I liked that TV show he was on). Also a random celeb sighting was Rhea Pearlman (the waitress from Cheers). I flipped through some of these celeb’s children’s books and to be honest didn’t find them all that great. In fact, bordering bad.
The sad reality with Children’s books is they’re very expensive to print and a publisher wants a relative sure hit. Celebrities have that status and most great illustrators and authors don’t. I really hope this isn't the future of this medium.
So we left the children’s book section, a little disheartened. To think even Madonna and Ally Sheedy have written ones too, that’s pretty silly.