Terrible 2’s will be my biggest test to date

I can tell you that I was not built with the innate capability to deal well with children acting out wildly in public. This will be a learned behavior for me and I am learning as we speak. See, Annie turned 18 months old yesterday but so far as she can tell, she is at least 2. Her math is a little off, but the rest of her shtick is spot on.

A couple days ago we enjoyed lunch with some friends. Mama and I had to take turns; one of us would eat while the other walked around outside with Annie. If we tried to sit her in the highchair she insisted on screaming, eating crayons and throwing things on the floor. General tantrum stuff.

It was an otherwise beautiful day in the neighborhood. Our friends’ son Jack is half Annie’s age and he seemed happy as a clam. Maybe he enjoyed watching her go apeshit? I still can’t figure out what was bothering her but she very well may be teething again. We’re learning that there doesn’t necessarily need to be a reason for her to act unreasonably. She’s almost 2 and that’s how she do.

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We be jammin

This morning I started playing my acoustic guitar and babygirl was into it. I brought out her glockenspiel and handed her a couple mallets.

I am fast becoming a believer in the chromatic glockenspiel for early learning of music theory, not to mention exercising hand-eye coordination. After focusing on being “gentle” for a minute or two, she was ON. We are all amazed at how our 16 month old already has noticeable rhythm. Needless to say we played for quite awhile and had a blast.

It’s going to be fascinating once she gains a sense of melody. 1/2 scale guitars are easy to find but where do they sell mini grand pianos?

Studio 49 Soprano Glockenspiel Chromatic Soprano

Chromatic Glockenspiel
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Let’s play ball in the house!

Who’s in?

When I was growing up, playing ball in the house was forbidden. If you grow up in Washington State you spend most of your young life in somebody’s house. Often times you either find a way to play ball in the house or you don’t play ball.

Broken Lamp As a stay at home dad, there are a few issues I staunchly support. One is that we play ball in the house. We play ball in the house all the gosh darn time and it is good. What’s the worst thing that’s gonna happen? It’ll be loud? Someone will break a lamp? Replacing a broken lamp every now and again will be more than worth it if we keep ourselves active and happy.

Why was the prior generation so terrified of horseplay? Something was drilled into the baby boomers that make them inherently risk-averse, and it wasn’t just moms. Whatever it was, it’s not in our house, especially when dad is running the show. Mom commands a bit more “safe” behavior, which is probably a good thing. When dad gets involved the old rulebook is out the window.

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Cooking on an iron skillet

Dads, if you stay at home then you are probably cooking for your children. It is imperative that you switch from the non-stick pan to the iron skillet, if you haven’t already. Although easier to use and clean, all “non-stick” pans degrade with use and this process results in bad stuff getting into your food. Disturbingly bad if you believe the studies.

Enough with the lecture.

What I didn’t realize was how much better my food would taste once I got a handle on how to use the iron skillet. Did you know that you get gourmet restaurant caliber steaks by frying in a little butter in an iron skillet, 2 minutes on each side on super high heat – then bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 450 degrees (medium-rare). You will be stunned. For well-done, go 3 minutes/side and 15-20 in the oven.

Lodge 10.25-in. Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet

Iron skillets like this one from cooking.com go for around $20

The trick is keeping the iron skillet clean. While it is still hot, wipe out with sponge or rage, using little or preferably no soaps or detergents. Always condition the pan with oil or spray after cleaning and/or before each use. It will get better and better with age, crisping and browning like nobody’s business.

Iron skillets are heavy, which means two important things for you:

1) Iron skillets take much longer to heat up and cool down. If you pour the eggs in before the iron skillet is warm enough, it’s gonna get weird. If you throw your chicken down when the iron skillet is way too hot, your chicken will likely burn and stick to the pan. The bottom line is that the iron skillet is less forgiving than the non-stick pan.

2) Iron skillets are much harder to throw around. Tossing stir-fry, flipping eggs, and general moving around are much more cumbersome when your pan ways 5 pounds or more. Practice makes perfect. Understand that there will be a learning curve, and mastering it pays off.

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Baby on an airplane

I have dreaded few things like being stuck on an airplane with a baby on my lap. I don’t much care for airplanes when I don’t have a baby on my lap. I could not fathom enjoying my experience on an airplane with a baby on my lap.

We flew from Seattle to Sacramento last weekend for a family reunion and took our first plunge into the abyss. Munchkin Widdles did really well on the flight there, with only a couple blips of anger and attitude. She absolutely LOVED takeoff. A man even commented that he forgot she was there once we had landed.

On the way back, we now know that Annie had air sickness. She kicked and screamed and ranted and raved for a good half hour before vomiting all over us. Luckily, there was no collateral damage, except for maybe the seats and floor. There was quite a bit of turbulence this time around and it took its toll on her! Once she puked she felt a lot better and even enjoyed looking out the window while landing.

My best advice to any father taking a one year old baby on airplane would be to bring:

a) New toys – present just before a meltdown
b) Treats – don’t skimp, bring the good stuff; chewing and swallowing will help relieve pressure in their ears
c) Cocktails – 2+, in your belly

Beyond that, cross your fingers and hope the person next to you likes kids or it can make for a very awkward situation. I have heard that bringing ear plugs for the people around you is a very nice gesture, and had planned to do that before running out of time the day of our trip.

I would love to hear about your misfortunes on an airplane with your (or someone else’s) little ones.

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Parsley, sage, rosemary and time

The daddy blogger in me can’t seem to get off the subject of time this week. My daughter is like a mirror and a time machine and a psychiatrist all in one little package. She shows me what I was like as a baby, reminds me how old I am and provides me with thoughts of reflection and self-analysis all day every day.

When I am not busy analyzing myself, I think about how much the world has changed since I was her age. Did you know that Pearl Jam and Nirvana will seem older to her than Simon & Garfunkel and Led Zeppelin seemed to me? Pearl Jam and Nirvana! These bands still seem fairly new to me until I recall that Pearl Jam is currently celebrating their 20th anniversary.

Pearl Jam Ten

19 years before Annie
Led Zeppelin I

Only 5 years before me!
Simon & Garfunkel, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme

Only 7 years before me!

Intriguing time chart relating mine and my daughter’s age:

MINE

HERS

Al Jolson = Elvis
Joseph Smith & his Orchestra = Buddy Holly
Duke Ellington = Beatles
Paul Whiteman = Bob Dylan
Bing Crosby = Pink Floyd
Benny Goodman = Elton John
Elvis = Pearl Jam
Buddy Holly = Nirvana
Beatles = Minus The Bear
Bob Dylan = Kelly Clarkson
Pink Floyd = John Legend
Elton John = Lady Gaga

*NOTE: Musical examples are meant to show time relation only – this is NOT a comparison of historical significance!

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The clock is ticking

When I was a kid I’d listen to the second hand on a clock in a dark room and it sounded slow.

As we age, we have fewer milestones that clearly mark time in our lives. Going to high school, getting your drivers license, being able to vote, being able to drink – all milestones of time. Once you hit your twenties, there are very few of these to gauge the years that pass. The years begin to lump together and pass in groups of ten.

Getting older means that each moment in the future represents a smaller and smaller portion of time relative to the time you have already spent living. When you are 3 minutes old, a minute is a pretty long time! When you are 37 years old, a minute is more like an instant. In my humble opinion, this explains why time seems to go faster and faster as we get older.

Now as a father I listen to the second hand on the clock in a dark room and it sounds pretty fast.

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Oh, the places you’ll go

I.B. Munchkin Widdles has gained more experience points in her 14 months than her momma and I combined at that age. She is an international skier and fine diner, bike rider, swimmer, onion eater, dog trainer, guitar/piano/glockenspiel player, drummer, frisbee thrower..and the list just keeps growing.

The jury is still out on whether or not she’s actually as special as we think. Perhaps this sort of thing is common in today’s small-ish world? Perhaps not.

Annie's hair likes to stand up on its own, reminiscent of Alfalfa from Our Gang. Annie eats crepes at Whistler Annie enjoys her first Japanese steakhouse at Teppan Village, Whistler, Canada Whistler backpack baby Backpack baby on photo assignment Annie, international skier

The adventures keep coming and so will stories, photos and corny, dad-spun ramblings. Speaking of ramblings, someone from Whistler emailed me today. Maybe they do care about my unsalvageable vacation and a lost first year of ski experience for our babygirl. Maybe we’ll try it again next year but at this rate the little one may prefer a new experience over a place she’s already been.

Good thing the folks get to make the decisions for another little while here!

Kelty FC 3.0 Frame Child Carrier
Kelty FC 3.0 Frame
Child Carrier
Kelty TC 3.0 Transit Child Carrier
Kelty FC 3.0 Transit
Child Carrier
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1 year old baby kicked off Whistler Mountain

Until now, I would have recommended that everyone bring their young family to Whistler / Blackcomb in Canada. That is until they treated my 1 year old daughter like a criminal yesterday. Words cannot describe my disappointment. Whistler has quickly plummeted off the charts for me. It was once a top 5 resort in my book. Now it’s not even worthy of honorable mention, unless you are mentioning organizations that don’t like babies.

The Whistler / Blackcomb legal department is on my shit list. Their circular nonsense of legal B.S. is definitely all-world, and all-embarrassing. I have never heard of a mountain that doesn’t allow 1 year old kids to ride with their parents on the ski hill. You might expect this sort of thing from a backwards resort in Utah, but never would I have expected such nonsense from the resort often labeled #1 in North America. They have no problem with 2 year olds skiing for their first time. Apparently the dangers of them falling off cliffs, hitting trees, being run over by other skiers or snowmobiles… none of these issues concern them. However, they feel that my 1 year old riding on my back in the family zone is dangerous. I’ve been skiing for 30 years.

When buying my lift tickets, I informed the resort employee that I was taking my daughter in my backpack. There did not seem to be any problem with this, so our plans were set! The lift operators had no problem with me loading the gondola. The operators had no problem with me at the top of the hill. It wasn’t until we finished our first run and had separated from momma that we were thrown out. Our family remained separated for 2 hours and as a result I had no way to get back into our room. I left the key with momma, since she didn’t know how long she planned to ski that day (brand new ski boots can be uncomfortable). I had no way to tell her that we had been thrown out – no way to contact her, and therefore no way to access the infamous diaper bag. It was aggravating.

To all families with babies, I say take your vacation dollar elsewhere. They don’t want you here and you certainly don’t want them. They have not responded to my complaint, so I’ve lost hope that they care about my wasted time and money. Maybe they’ll care to put up a sign that says no babies allowed, and better yet, make sure all mountain employees are aware of their anti-baby policy.

Please leave a comment here and I will be more than happy to discuss further. That is more than enough for one blog entry.

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The infant / toddler helmet situation

So many things are possible once you have a helmet on your little rascal. Until they are close to a year old, you won’t find helmets that fit (assuming they would even tolerate it on their head). I wasn’t sure what the sizing meant when I was shopping but this Bell Splash helmet fits perfectly. It fit Annie when she was a year old and she loves wearing it now at 14 months. In the store it looked so big but the straps are awesome and it fits like a glove. If you need a helmet for a 1 year old, you want the 18″ size range – this seems to be the smallest head circumference size on the market.

Bell Splash infant / toddler helmet  Bell Splash infant / toddler helmet straps  Helmet straps fit perfect around the ears and chin

REI was the only place in town that carried a decent selection of munchkin helmets. There were a few other models for little girls, but the strapping on the Bell Splash is far superior to other options as far as I’m concerned. Bike rides have been great – the real test will come later this week when I put Annie in the backpack and take her skiing at Whistler. Gotta have a good helmet for that!

Bell Splash Bike Helmet - Toddlers'
Bell Splash Helmet
for infants/toddlers
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