Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Babyproofing the Baby

It wasn’t until this past Easter weekend when my 11-month old son started getting into the trash, pulling over chairs, and pretty much anything else that’s about 24 inches from the floor that I realized I’ve gotten pretty laid-back about “babyproofing” the house.

My wife and I are nowhere as scared with the second kid as we were with the first. With our daughter we pretty much babyproofed 99.9% of the house with about every gadget or contraption possible that placed panic or fear on us. It’s hard to believe that at one time, it was possible to run through our house, with shiny scissors, drunk, on fire, and not get hurt.

Yes, those were the days where we would take some serious trips to the local “Baby’s R Us” and head straight for the new parent “fear-gear” aisle and pretty much fill the cart with gadgets, padding, industrial-grade airbags, and Houdini locks worried that if we didn’t cover every corner of the house…. the refrigerator might somehow get accidentally pulled over and kill the entire neighborhood.

How were we to know? The packages they came in or some article we read might of sited some study that proved “million’s of baby’s” were tragically killed from falling refrigerators on the Fourth of July.

It wasn’t until we gained experience with our first and couldn’t open anything ourselves for actual use or enjoyment, and looked like we ran a padded home for crazy people, that we realize how truly stupid those things were.

Now a bit wiser in the ways of parenthood, I realize now that there’s only really one true way to babyproof a house:

Use lots of duct tape.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Magical Birthday and My iPad 2 with a few ‘Apps for Kids’ Disappears…

To be honest, I was not looking forward to my birthday this year. I mean this past year alone has been the absolute worst health-wise, ever!
A horrible case of chicken pox last summer that left me out of commission for nearly 5 weeks and destroyed my immune system. Multiple cardiologist visits and tests, and then a ‘bout with pneumonia a few weeks ago …it’s just all downright depressing.
Getting old is freaking me out so much now that I find myself always wondering, “What’s going to happen to me this year?” I’ve never been like that.

Some observant friends caught on to this suspicious behavior of mine and invited my wife and I to the Magic Castle in Hollywood to celebrate my birthday. It really was a great start on a road to recovery of some sort.
If you’ve never heard of this place, it’s basically a real-life Hogwarts, except this castle was founded in the 1960’s, not 9th century, with cheesy decorations, and magicians not wizards roaming around entertaining cocktail-attired guests. And maybe about 10 bars just about every 50 feet from each other.
I’m sure if Harry had gone to school there, he would have one serious drinking problem.

The other component of a recovery was getting an iPad 2, with one of those nifty magnetic magical covers on it for my birthday!
I never really understood the full use of this thing – is it taking over the place of my laptop or my iPhone? And I didn’t get one last year because I learned my lesson from buying a 1st generation iPhone in 2007, the 2nd version was 4 times cooler than the original.
I’ve now come to find out that the iPad basically took over all of the time I did read an actual book or maybe magazine before going to bed and even the little TV I did watch. I literally watch no traditional TV anymore (Hulu yes!)

The other 90% when the thing is on my daughter has it. She’s basically taken over the device - desktop, created folders, has her Pandora stations, Netflix streaming set up to watch Scooby Doo, Spongebob, and Strawberry Shortcake. She’s 5! Not even 6 quite yet.

Although, my wife did help her set up YouTube to old musical numbers, and of course, she’s been playing that crazy Smurf game. I swear Apple is marketing to the wrong demographic for this thing - it should really be kids.
The thing is MUCH better than getting a kid a laptop/computer, as in parental controls, and knowing what they’re playing with. And the games/apps I’ve found for it have been incredible. Loads of quality educational, creative, and learning stuff that’s pretty cheap in price.
We were considering getting her a Leapfrog Leapster or even a DS for her upcoming birthday, but that’s pretty much out the door now since those cartridges cost so much ($20-40) and a much better equivalent app in iTunes from $0 to $6.

Some iPad apps I’ve found, so far, to be great for kids (5-7-ish):
  1. Math Bingo
  2. TeachMe Kindergarten/1st Grade
  3. StoryPatch
  4. Drawing Pad
  5. Learning to Draw is Fun
  6. Read Me Stories
  7. Toy Story Read Along
  8. Angry Birds RIO
  9. Fruit Ninja HD
  10. Toontastic
  11. Sock Puppets
  12. Pocket Frogs
  13. WordSearch Star Free
  14. MathGirl Number Garden (iPhone app running on iPad)
  15. Albert HD
  16. Stack the States
  17. Netflix
  18. NASA App HD
  19. Smurfs (my daughter insisted I put that on my list, just make sure you turn in-App purchases OFF. Settings/General/Restrictions, “Enable Restrictions”, In-App purchases “OFF.”)

Now that my daughter is finally asleep, I can finally play Words with Friends HD! By the way, if you play I’m “GjertsonB”