Friday, August 31, 2012

Adventures in Gardening

It's been a wonderful summer in the garden.  Tons of produce since early July and we've made out like bandits.
She's subtle with her hints.
Em got me this cookbook from the library a few weeks ago.  So I took action and many hours later:

I didn't choose the canning life.  The canning life chose me.
The past few weeks have been extremely hot and it was starting to fry the cucumber plants.  I'd been neglecting to address them for some time and I wanted to put the fall crops in so that we'd have vegetables through early November.  When I came back inside a few minutes later with absolutely no sign of dirt under my fingernails or on my clothes, Em asked how I got everything done so quickly.

This is my story:
Ah, los jalapeños.  How lovely.
Le eggplant.  Almost ready to be parmigiana-fied. 

Our lovely backyard. Complete with charcoal burning BBQ
...what's that in the corner where the dead cucumber plants are.





Good thing I had my jetpack.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

When we last left our heroes...

I suppose to appreciate the continuation of Tuesday's post, you need a bit of back story.

Em has wanted a glider chair (it's like a rocker and a la-z-boy had a baby) ever since finding out she was pregnant.  They are amazingly comfortable and there are an unbelievable number of variations on the theme.  She's sat in more than she can probably count and finally found the perfect one at the big box store.

Sadly, the color was heinous, so she continued the search.  

After several weeks of hunting, she still liked the one at the original store.  It was not too big and not too small, not too hard and not too soft and there were no bears sitting in it.

Anyone else notice how dapper Papa Bear dresses?

So, when we registered we figured we could ask about different fabric options.  Unfortunately, when we got to the furniture desk and found it unmanned, we figured it wasn't worth the extra headache of trying to sit down with someone to hash it out after having wandered around the store for so long.  

If you have never been around a pregnant woman for an extended period of time, here's a pro-tip: Don't keep them waiting.  Think about how unpleasant it would be if, at random, someone continually kicked you in the bladder.  And punched you in the stomach.  From the inside.  While you were always hungry, but your stomach is upset and you are slightly nauseous.

Yes, doesn't the joy of pregnancy just seem all the more magical?

Add to this fact that it is summer, horrifically hot and humid, we're back in the same store we spent the better part of two and a half hours in the day before, and you can begin to get a sense of the frame of mind we were in returning to the furniture department.  To register for a single item.  One.  Lousy.  Chair.  
Like heaven for your butt.
When we got home after the first excursion, we were under the impression, based on the info from Geoff, that the chair pictured above could be custom ordered online.  When we got online, the only version of the chair you could find online was the ugly one already in the store.

Not wanting to take the trip and risk another Geoff encounter, I tried calling another location of the same store.  Maybe the help would be a bit more competent at this one, or at the very least, not make me want to run screaming into oncoming traffic.

But no -- this location didn't have any fabric swatches.  If you wanted to see fabric swatches, you had to go to another location.

And the only other location local to us was...yes, you guessed it...the one where Geoff works.

Geoff 2: When Gliders Attack
We approached the furniture counter and were hanging around looking for help when Geoff began to approach.  I was beginning to think that Geoff was the only employee who worked at the location.  As I prepared myself for the inevitable onslaught of misinformation, a small miracle occurred!  Geoff was intercepted by another couple and we would have to find another person to help us.

When I pressed the buzzer for help, you can imagine my surprise was when another employee came over to help.  And this guy was the manager!  Sweet!  At last, someone who knew what he was talking about and would not make us feel like idiots for failing to have every aspect of our unborn child's next 18 years fully mapped out.

The manager was an older gentleman, with white hair and a nice smile.  He was exceptionally pleasant and kind of reminded me of this guy:
Bleep Van Bleep

And really, who could be mad at Dick Van Dyke?

You'd be surprised.  Especially when Dick Van Dyke's doppelganger has the patience of a member of the Spanish Inquisition.

Bet you weren't expecting that.
Every version of the chair Em pointed at would be keyed into the computer by evil-Dick-Van-Dyke and then he'd turn to us and say, "sorry, but that version has been discontinued."  This happened 12 times.  Out of 24 fabric swatches.  I then offered up that it might be a good idea if he could tell us which swatches were in stock and we could just pick from them.

But he didn't think that was terribly efficient.  So we played the swatch game for a few more minutes.  We'd pick it out and he'd tell us it was unavailable.

I was about to go play in traffic when Em noticed that the image of the chair above the swatches we were looking at didn't match the chair she had pointed to in the first place.  Please keep in mind, this is 45 minutes after sitting down with evil-Dick-Van-Dyke.

And then Evil-D.-V.-D. realized we were looking at the wrong chair altogether.

Finally, after much gnashing of teeth and beating of chest, it was done.  The chair was on the registry.  And our registry was complete.  Mission accomplished.

Geoff didn't even say goodbye as we passed him on the way out.

Oh, and from the "you can't make this s#!t up department"-- 

When I went to the store's website just now to get the picture of the chair that caused this much agita , they actually have all the different versions of the chair on their website: ALL THE NEWCO GLIDERS


Monday, August 27, 2012

Registering for Baby Stuff: The Geoff Chronicles

I've done a registry before.  Usually the second time you do something, it's generally easier and you know what to expect.  Sadly, on this occasion, I was wrong.

It looks so innocent, doesn't it?
We walked into the superstore with high hopes.  We had gone early (10 minutes after opening) and the parking lot was reasonably empty.  Family members had been asking when we were going to get around to it for a while -- and rightfully so.  Baby G (as we have affectionately taken to calling her) is going to be the first niece to all of our siblings, and the first grandchild to all of our parents.

We wanted to register for gender appropriate stuff (not that I don't love yellow and green) so we waited until the ultrasound (remember me puking rainbows?) and thus we were off and running.

If you have never been to a baby superstore (and for the record I have now been to 4 varieties) they have a very similar layout.  For anyone looking for sound advice and a printable map, here is one you can take with you:

Diagram 1

If you are pregnant and showing, they are on you like white on rice.  The manic store associate pounced and we were in chairs within seconds being handed all sorts of materials for the occasion.  Primarily they were lists of things you absolutely can't live without if you have a baby in your house.

You know, things like infrared tracking cameras that broadcast your baby's every move to any television in the house and strollers that cost more than two months rent.  Necessities.  

Now, what you have to know is that we went in with a game plan.  Em (my wife...heretofore referred to as "my wife") knew the majority of what we were looking for (she's the researcher. And the planner. And the organized one) but we had a few outstanding questions.  As the maniacal baby registry lady made me want to run screaming for the door (refer to diagram 1). I asked if there was anyone on the floor who could help us as we walked around if we had any questions.

There was.  For purposes of this blog we shall refer to him as "Geoff".

Diagram 2 ("Geoff")
He kind of looked like every male friend I ever had in high school.  Except Geoff      (name changed to protect the innocent) was clearly in his 30's.  And thought it was "ridiculous" that we didn't know what brand of stroller/car seat we wanted.  He inspired absolutely no confidence in me that he had any actual experience raising children, but he was heinously condescending.  Between the "harumphs" and "pishaws" he manages to eek out some semblance of human conversation.

In the end, we picked the stroller that folded up the easiest and was capable of being used for a jogging stroller.  Geoff approved.

We stumbled into the breast pump section.  I'm not even going to begin to step into those waters, but suffice it to say, there are way more options than you ever thought imaginable.  And all of them are crazy expensive.

The only thing in that section more expensive than the pumps themselves was apparently liquid gold:

Clearly mislabeled.  This has to contain gold. 
Em has every intention of breastfeeding, so we're (hopefully) ducking a bullet here.  But I'm sure I've got an internal organ or two I could spare in case we need to buy this stuff.

We ambled into the diaper section.  You have no idea, unless you have actually raised a rugrat, how many options/varieties/variations there are in the diaper section.  Suffice it to say, there's more than you imagined.  And they don't come cheap.  We're trying cloth diapers as inspired by this post over at younghouselove, but there was only one option.  And it didn't have any snaps.  So we moved on.  Undaunted.

By the time we finally moseyed over to the furniture section, we were burnt.  An hour had passed since we got there.  Em was tired and hungry and I was over this.

And apparently, so too was the furniture associate.  Who was nowhere to be found.  So we trudged on.  We worked our way through the isle of discounted goods, all of which were affordable and none of which were allowed to be added to the registry as they all were being discontinued.

Finally we made it to the fun part -- toys and books and movies and awesome things baby needs whatsoever.  Not yet at least.  So I registered for a few books and remembered that it'll be a while before Baby G has any interest in a dinosaur play set.  
So I might look somewhat ridiculous playing with this by myself. But I think its awesomeness is self-evident
But, determined, more than ever, to see this thing through, we returned our registry gun to the manic registry associate and she loaded it into the system.  When I asked about furniture help (now 2 hours since our initial arrival) she said she would get somebody.  Guess who she called to the desk?

The now infamous "Geoff"
I saw him approach and asked if we could add additional items online.  Even if they were special order.  And furniture.

Geoff insisted we could.

I got home.  Looked for furniture options.  There were no special order options online.

Guess who greeted us at the furniture counter the very next day when we wanted to place our special order furniture:

Yup.  Geoff again.
To be continued...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Where do A$%hold Children Come From?

So, I should start by explaining that I ride public transit.  A lot.  In fact, in the past five years, if you consider the work year to be 52 weeks and of those weeks, you work 48 of them (allotting for sick, vacation and holidays) and factor in a commute coming and going, multiply that by three modes of transport (bus to trolley to the El and back again), I've taken well over 6000 SEPTA vehicles (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) since 2007.

Now, out of all those modes (bus, trolley, El) I have to say that the bus, is by far, my least favorite aspect of my daily commute.  Door to door, it takes about an hour, and the bus is where the majority of my blood pressure raising interactions come into play.

On the bus, you will witness the very milk of human kindness right up against profanity so lewd and lascivious you wonder if the wolves didn't in fact give up on the individual as a child and leave him or her to fend for his or herself.

The woman next to me today was screaming at someone on the phone on the crowded bus on the way into work.  This is prior to 8AM on a Wednesday.  Nobody should be that angry so early in the morning.  I was listening to a morning show on the radio of my iPod (yes, I could hear her through my earbuds and she was not sitting close to me) so I turned up the volume to drown her out.

There is a particularly annoying commercial on right now from esurance (so the ad must be working, because it stuck in my head) and in it, this guy:

This is possibly the worst still of John Krasinsky on the interwebs.

asks the following question and answers himself immediately
  • Where do penguins come from?
  • Ding! Other penguins
And it got me thinking...this horrible human being most likely came from... guessed it.  Other horrible human beings.

Which got me thinking about elementary school.  Obviously.

This is my memory of riding the school bus as a child:

Le Awesomely Drawn School Bus

In theory, the seat directly behind the school bus driver should be safe.  However, on a number of buses I rode as a child, Satan himself was called to the front of the bus.  The driver, thinking his job done would thusly ignore Satan, assuming his action of telling Satan to "Get up front" would put an end to his (or her...wouldn't want to be sexist on this one.  I assume your personal Satan could have been a girl) reign of terror. 

Sadly, Satan had a way of terrorizing in subtle ways to the poor saps in the next few rows.  And as long as Satan was quiet, the bus driver would think all was well.

The back of the bus (from whence Satan originated) was a virtual hell hole on wheels.  The only lucky sap on the whole freaken bus was the kid in the middle.  With enough human buffer, he or she was generally too far away from the extremes of the bus to be worth the effort.

I assume that most of the devil-spawn I now encounter on SEPTA originated from the procreators on the extremes of the bus.  However, that begs the question as to why a diagram of a SEPTA bus looks like this:
Le Awesomely Drawn SEPTA Bus
 On the SEPTA bus, no man, woman or child is safe.  A%$holes are abundant and prolific.  Are the rest of us just not having as many kids?  How is this happening?  

I remember 9th grade biology (thank you Mr. Fetterman) and according to Darwin and the Origin of the Species, only the strong survive.

So who is procreating with the hellspawn at the extremes of the bus?

If you, or someone you know, is in love with a hellspawn and considering having babies, consider this:

Basic math people
Friends don't let friends produce hellspawn.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Childcare: Mo' Babies, Mo' Problems

There was an interesting article last week on about childcare and the ongoing rising costs.  This excerpt struck me as pretty horrifying:
In almost half of all states, the cost of center-based care for one child exceeded annual median rent payments, the report said. And when two children are factored in, the costs exceeded rent payments in all 50 states. Child Care Aware also found that in 35 states, the cost to provide center-based care for an infant was higher than in-state tuition and fees for one year at a four-year public college.  Full article at
Sebastian just found out he's the father of quadruplets.
That's insane to me.  The average in Pennsylvania is at 12.8%  Just imagine the extreme of that! And this is only taking into consideration two-income households.  If you are a single parent, these numbers jump sometimes as much as 35% of your total household income.  So you've got to weigh the pros and cons of paying your rent vs. paying for childcare.  And when you've got more than one too young to attend Elementary school yet, that number doubles.

That's right.  Doubles.
Some parents are responding to this by sending their kids to non-accredited, non-licensed day care centers.  The cost of getting licensed is prohibitive in and of itself:
Basloe said that New York leads the pack not only because the cost of living is higher, but also because there are many regulations that child care facilities have to comply with that add to the price.
"We have very high regulations and standards, from the ratio of teachers to students, to training and education standards, and that leads to a greater cost," she said.
A former coworker of mine was amazed when his wife and he sat down to do their family budget only to discover that after paying for childcare for their 3 year old and their 6 month old, his wife was clearing $5,000 annually.

This is me doing a household budget.

So when do you draw the line (assuming you can afford to do so)?  It's been pretty well documented that we're all working more and making less (yes, I cited Mother Jones and, no, I'm not sorry for it.  I went to a liberal-hippie-crunchy-granola-breath-college.  What do you expect?) but is it worth it?

I grew up in the care of my father Monday through Friday until I was four years old.  My dad worked night shift at local mental care facility as a security guard.  This trained him well to deal with me from the age of 13-17.  I did benefit from the fact that my grandmother watched me while my dad worked.  She lived up the street from our apartment and I got to hang out with one of my favorite people on this planet on a regular basis.

When my dad remarried, just before my fifth birthday, my stepmother and he worked opposite shifts, so there was always somebody home with me.  I never appreciated how rare that was until I started looking at the young families I know just starting out now.  It's next to impossible unless you and your partner work opposite shifts or you have very willing and giving and awesome family who you can entrust the care of your child to on a daily basis.

Actual picture of Mom-mom not available.  But this is realllly close.
Thankfully, my wife's job allows for a lot of flexibility in her schedule.  She's a dance teacher and fitness instructor, so the majority of classes she teaches fall outside of a 9-5 workday.  I'm grateful our kid is going to be able to grow up knowing both of us and having plenty of time at home.  And saving 12.8% of our annual income doesn't suck either.

(And for the record, if you love your job and don't want to stay at home with your kid, it's totally your call.  I'm not saying you have to drop everything professional because you decide to have a baby.  But I know very few people who love their jobs and fewer still who would say they love their jobs as much as their children.)
It'd be funny if it weren't true.
So yeah.  The TL;DR version of this post (too late): The whole damn system is out of order.  

Friday, August 17, 2012

Babyglow -- yet another product you didn't even know you needed

And here from the annals of Things-People-Don't-Need-But-Clearly-Have-More-Money-Than-Me-And-Can-Afford-To-Buy, comes the Babyglow:
Babyglow - Temperature Color Changing Bodysuit

Nothing sells me on a concept like an upset wee one.
Essentially this onesie changes from pink (or blue) to white whenever the baby's body temp gets above 98.6°  and then drops back to the normal color as body temp decreases.

The main problem I see with this is the fact that your body temperature can fluctuate by a degree or more throughout the day and depending on your hormonal levels this can totally throw your body out of whack.  Don't believe me?  


At any rate, even if this thing does allow for normal body temp changes, it still begs the question -- who has this kind of money to burn?!?! At $39.99 each, these things don't come cheaply.  And if you are buying them straight through from 3 months through 18 months, that's a lot of rather expensive onesies.

I love most ThinkGeek products (and their product descriptions always deliver on the funnies) but I just can't justify this purchase.

Besides -- I'm sure there are plenty of dads from my generation with a Hypercolor tees in the backs of their closets.  Swaddle that baby up and party like it's 1991.

Needless to say, I disapprove of this shirt.
It'll be cheaper, more colorful and you'll finally have an answer when your wife asks you why you keep all this stupid shirts that you never wear.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Rose by Any Other Name

Names.  Oh, Lord, the names.  Next to the decision of whether or not to have a kid in the first place it seems like one of the most important decisions one has to tackle in those months between peeing on a stick and the arrival of your little one.

Now that we know we're having a girl, the field of names has been halved, but I'm still struggling with pinning down a finalist.

Part of my problem is my innate ability to come up with horrible nicknames for said name which will inevitably be the way our child will suffer through the majority of elementary school on into post-grad.

The following exchange lifted from the amazing socio-economic, hard-hitting documentary of suburban America, The Simpsons, is a classic example of what I'm inclined to do.  In Season 3, Episode 12: I Married Marge, Homer and Marge have the following exchange:

Marge: Homer, if the baby's a boy, what do you think about the name Larry?
Homer: Marge, we can't do that. All the kids will call him Larry Fairy.
M: How about Louie?
H: They'll call him Screwy Louie.
M: Bob?
H: Slob.
M: Luke?
H: Puke.
M: Marcus?
H: Mucus.
M: What about Bart?
H: Hmm, let's see. Bart, Cart, Dart, E-art... nope, can't see any problem with that.

Truly, these are parental role models.
Every name my wife brings up, I have a stupid nickname that ruins it.

Rather than ruin names for anyone in the process of picking and/or having already picked and applied to his or her offspring, suffice it to say that I am not a fun person to pick names out with as a rule.

I like old-school names.  I know some of them are weird and, don't worry, my wife isn't going to allow me to saddle our baby girl with something like Edna, Edith, Mabel, Hazel, Blanche, Sophia, Rose, or Dorothy.
Okay, so I may have been thinking
of The Golden Girls
But there is something funny to me about the idea of a kindergarten lousy with Ediths and Ednas and the like.  Although, what will probably be even funnier is in 60 years when they are populated with a bunch of Brittanies and Ambers and Tiffanies.  

Adding insult to injury are these lists of the most popular baby names of the year.  Every time I think we've narrowed the field (Sophia was a front-runner for a while) I see it crop up on a list of most popular baby names of the year, such as:

BabyCenter --> (my wife's name is #1)
USA_Today --> (Sophia is #1 from 2011) --> (Isabella...another former contender is #1) --> (Heck...even Social Security confirms it)

But if you go the other extreme and try and intentionally be different, you run into other problems.

It's a thin line between "unique" and "weird."  There have been studies that show having too unique a name can mess with a kid's self esteem and perception.  But I always liked having a name that no one else I knew had...

(Brief name on my birth certificate is Nathaniel Brendan.  Which isn't too shabby.  But unless you are going to berate little children into pronouncing "Na-than-yul" repeatedly, it will, without a doubt, become truncated.  Which it did.  Almost immediately upon stepping into Kindergarten.  Which was made most excellent by the arrival of this guy on the scene:
And people wonder why I'm is right in the title
The other options I had were to allow other people to choose my nickname for me.  And while "Goodyear" and "Staypuft" were both charming and delightful [yes, I was really called those by I'm not over it, thanks for asking] most people would shorten it to "Nathan" or the inevitable "Nat."  And while there have been plenty of great Nats -- okay, I can only think of Nat King Cole, but I'm sure there were more -- whenever I heard people call me Nat I always thought of this:
And so I became Nate.  There was nothing fancy about the decision process.  It was monosyllabic, easy to write (you try writing 9 letters + 4 at the top of every paper you ever had to hand in and see how you like it) and it didn't remind me of a bug.  But I digress.)

...I can only imagine being one of the dozens of Michaels, Chrises or Johns who I now work with and wondering constantly if someone is trying to get my attention.

Once we do ultimately land on a name, we're going to be one of those obnoxious couples who aren't telling anyone until we introduce her to the world.  Primarily because everyone has an opinion on the subject and, as you can tell, I already have enough anxiety about the decision as it is.

I may just take on the clever approach of my very wise cousin, who, after each person asked if she had chosen a name yet, she told them--

"Oh, yes.  We're naming him after you."

This went over splendidly with my myriad of uncles and male cousins as she was having a boy.  But poor Aunt Bernadette just walked away confused.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Ultrasounds and Aftereffects: Or, We're Having a ...

Anything happens to my daughter, I have a .45 and a shovel, and I doubt anyone would miss you.  
-Sir Laurence Olivier 
Okay, so the above quote actually came from Clueless in 1995, but attributing them to Sir Laurence gives it a bit more gravitas.  When Dan Hedaya said those words 17 years ago I really never thought that I would find a use for them at any point in my life.

Then, came the ultrasound.

If you haven't pieced it together just yet, I'll give you a second.



We're having a girl.

First, let me say that I'm thrilled, stoked and otherwise elated to be having a girl.  In fact, when the ultrasound technician said that we were having a girl I was practically puking rainbows:

Artist's rendition of the aforementioned moment.

Amazing.  Literally the definition of awesome.  

At the hospital we went to for the prenatal imaging had a 4-D machine as well, so you could watch the baby as she (still weird to type s-h-e) moved around.  While I don't have actual footage of the dancing, it did look something like this:

He's gonna party like it's 1996.
But sans diaper.

In all honesty, the 4D stuff is a little creepy.  You aren't used to seeing anything like it.  Well, you might be, but it's generally reserved for health class videos and intro segments to the Look Who's Talking movies.

The more classic ultrasound pics are much cuter --

I'd type something witty, but I'm still puking rainbows.

It really wasn't until the car ride home that it hit me.  In the course of 45 minutes we went from a gender-neutral concept of what our baby might be to knowing she  is going to be a girl.  And my whole world is going to change.

I've been told that I can have a slight tendency to be a bit protective...

This is what I've been told I look like when witnessing someone hit on my wife:

Artist's rendering

Not to be confused with this:
He's not really that angry.

But I can only imagine what I'm going to be like around my little girl.  I do hope to never need to invoke those immortal words of Sir Laurence Olivier Dan Hedaya, but I have started researching my 2nd Amendment Rights.  So I'm sure that's a rational, even-tempered start to this whole thing.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

On Midwifery: Or, The Lion, the Witch and the Birthing Center

This is not what a midwife looks like:

I'll get you, my Pretty.  And your little baby too.

Just so we're clear.  

My wife and I decided right when she got pregnant that we were going to a midwife to deliver the baby.  I'm not going to soapbox about why we made the decision, but it was (and is) the right one for us.

People immediately freak out when you tell them this.  I try to remind them that this has been the model for centuries and oh, by the way, most of Europe (who has far better rates of healthy, natural childbirth) still operates this way.

To blatantly steal from Jim Gaffigan's most recent special, Mr. Universe, why would I want my wife to deliver our child while wearing the gown a person died in the night before?  Hospitals are where sick people go to get better.  Pregnancy is not a state of illness so why go to a guy who specializes in cutting people open for a living?

I have nothing against OBGYNs, whatsoever.  They serve an important purpose and save lives under the most dire of circumstances.  But most pregnancies don't require the skills of a surgeon.  Women have been delivering babies for ages without the help of a trained surgeon.

And before anyone starts freaking out, the Birthing Center we are attending is directly across the street from one of the best hospitals in our area.  If something were to go wrong, it's directly across the street.  And in the company of the Midwife is a trained RN.

We aren't winging it.  We've done a ton of research on the subject.  And I find it really strange that people try to dissuade us from using the birthing center.  People spend more time researching the next car they are going to buy than what they dedicate to the facility where they will deliver their baby.  

If you are interested in a crash course about midwifery (and they primarily focus on home birth in this movie, buy you have lot of options) I highly recommend The Business of Being Born.

It may be a bit crunchy-granola-breath for some, but so is the whole midwife thing.  If you are squeamish, the most unpleasant parts of it are during the C-section, so avert your eyes if you see a scalpel.  But it is a great source of info for anyone interested in options outside of the typical hospital environment.

My favorite part of the movie is when this one

Beware if your midwife has a spinning wheel anywhere nearby.
turns into a dragon.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Kill Your Television: Save Your Kid

Another blow to those of us who had the television as a babysitter comes in the form of a new study from the  International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. You can officially blame your parents if you were a fat kid and you spent too much time sitting in front of the boob tube.

Controlling for many potentially confounding child and family variables, each hour per week of television watched at 29 months corresponded to a .361 cm decrease in SLJ, 95% CI between -.576 and -.145. A one hour increase in average weekly television exposure from 29 to 53 months was associated with a further .285 cm reduction in SLJ test performance, 95% CI between -.436 and -.134 cm and corresponded to a .047 cm increase in waistline circumference, 95% CI between .001 and .094 cm. Interpretation Watching television excessively in early childhood, may eventually compromise muscular fitness and waist circumference in children as they approach pubertal age.

The tl;dr version -- if you watched too much TV as a kid it's going to lead to you being a fatter kid by late elementary school.  

And if anyone doesn't believe it, I give you proof --

There is actually a full rack of ribs and mashed potatoes in that bucket.

Yours truly was a fat kid -- well into adolescence.  My mom and dad split before I was a year old and I lived with my dad.  I often slept at my grandparents' house because my dad worked the night shift, so when we got home, he'd be exhausted.  After making breakfast, he'd put on the television so he could take a nap.

Full disclosure -- I effing love(d) TV.  I can watch anything.  I still watch anything.  He made every effort to ensure that I watched something educational -- Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow, The People's Court, etc. but apparently, that doesn't matter...

The American Academy of Pediatrics has been saying since 1999 that no child under two years old should be around a television.  In fact, those educational videos may be doing more harm than good according to an article from Time:
These products had the strongest detrimental effect on babies 8 to 16 months old, the age at which language skills are starting to form. "The more videos they watched, the fewer words they knew," says Christakis. "These babies scored about 10% lower on language skills than infants who had not watched these videos.",8599,1650352,00.html 
Holy crap.  And that article is from 2007.

That's two years in a television vacuum unless you want to raise your own baby Buddha.  And, while I was tremendously cute, the amount you'll save on grocery bills alone is probably worth the sacrifice.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Grumpy Bears and Debbie Downers

This fellow ranked among the stuffed animals I had as a child...

It was probably the first indicator of the fact that I'd end up with a certain penchant for pointing out how everything could be a disaster.  Always.  It would have been one thing if I were surrounded by friends and family who were hopeless optimists that I helped to counterbalance, but you see --

I come from a long, proud line of Debbie Downers.

For those of you not familiar with the term, I give you Exhibit A: Debbie_Downer_NBC

I'm not entirely sure what it is about the water in Delaware County, but somehow I find myself constantly in the company of individuals with the unique gift of always finding the grey lining in every silver cloud.  Not only is the glass half empty, but the portion of liquid in the glass is probably toxic and will kill you slowly if you drink it.

Since we found out we were pregnant 5 months ago, we are subjected to the wisdom of people who feel the need to make running commentary about the way our lives will be once the baby is here:

You'll never sleep again!
Babies are so loud!
Hope you don't like free time!
Kids just suck the life out of you!
Have your fun before it's too late!
You can't control how they'll turn out!
Yes, that is Nick Cage from Vampire Kiss

Who finds this helpful?  What is the trigger in your brain that creates the need to make asinine commentary that only demotivates and drains the parents-to-be?  Do people really think that having a kid in your thirties, you never gave a modicum of consideration to the fact that it would be a life-changing event?

Clearly we're in for surprises.  There will be stress.  There will be anxiety and frustration.

I'm not an optimist by default.  I need no help having potential problems and difficulties highlighted for me, thank you kindly.  I can worry myself into a frenzy without any help.  And despite the fact that our child will come from this lineage of Worse-Case-Scenario-Connoisseurs, I'd like to set the baby up to look for what's positive and hopeful and uplifting in the world.

Or, at the very least, figure that the liquid in that glass is probably fine for human consumption.

Friday, August 3, 2012

For All the Non-Breeders Out There

The very fact that this exists only goes to show how sick everyone is about hearing about everyone else's children.

Unbaby Me is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to replace pictures of babies in your Facebook newsfeed with other things.

The default setting replaces the babies with pictures of cats.

So, fair December 20th-ish, you'll probably want to download this thing if you don't want to drown in goo-goo-ga-ga (ra ra ah ah ah, roma, roma ma, gaga ooh la la) madness.

The internets is a weird place.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Our Story Begins...okay, it began 5 Months Ago, but that's hardly a pithy title

There is something heinously surreal about finding out you are going to be a parent.  Even in the event that you planned it, there's an oddity about actually seeing the lines on that stick match the "pregnant" demarcation on the box.

Following the immediate elation, there's this moment of...

I have no f&%$ing idea what I am doing.

The worst thing you can possibly do is let on that you aren't an expert on parenting.  Because every person you talk to wants to offer you unsolicited advice. 

Which is strange as the majority of people I know had somewhere between 1-4 children.  And under what circumstance does doing something 1-4 times make you an expert on any activity?

I certainly wouldn't want a heart surgeon operating on me after only have tried the procedure 1 or 2 times.  Eff that!  I want a heart surgeon who has been through the paces so many times he could probably do it with his eyes closed.  Which is a horrible idea.  Because heart surgery with your eyes closed could never end well.

Where does this compulsion to drown someone in your modicum of know-how arise?  Is it a self-perpetuating cycle?  One finds out one is pregnant, one freaks out, one pretends to know what one is doing, one has child and muddles through, one can't let another parent feel semi-competent and, thusly, one must demonstrate vast knowledge to all other parents regardless of whether they asked for it or not?

Awesome.  Awesome.  No, seriously, keep that wisdom coming.

Despite all this, I'm stoked to be a dad in the increasingly very near future.

Who would have thought that a plastic stick one pees on could bring so much joy, hope and complete uncertainty?