Archive for February, 2012

Coming in March: Fresh Words!

Greetings, readers!

I wanted to take a moment to announce something BIG for March here at D.E.E. Of course, a graphic would probably explain it better than words can…

Coming soon to a parenting blog near you!

That’s right…you will no longer be reading my posts exclusively. I’m sure you’re all completely devastated by this. 😛

Jason Ross from ordinaryparent.com will be giving his own tales of paternal love and humor from time to time. Jason’s first post will be up within the next week, so look out for it! Please welcome Jason to the team! 🙂 Visit his site (link above) to learn a bit more about him.

P.S. If any other fathers would like to guest post, please contact me at r.r.aldrich@gmail.com with your blog’s URL (if you have one) and/or some info about yourself, and perhaps you will be here too!

Thanks to everyone who reads, shares and interacts. I truly feel we are all better parents and families because we learn from each other by talking and networking. The journey to “daddily ever after” continues unabated! Looking forward to your continued support!

–Ryan

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OSO Taught Me How to Use Chopsticks

Well, it looks like I’m guilty. Like many parents giving kids’ TV a bad rap these days, I voiced my opinion in a public manner, then got my foot shoved in my mouth. This weekend, I actually learned something from a kid’s show. Special Agent OSO taught me how to use chopsticks.

Yes, Special Agent OSO.

Yes, Chopsticks.

A typical pair of chopsticks after about 30 seconds in my hand.

Chopsticks have long been an Achilles heel for me. I love Asian food, but I’m always the sucker that asks for “western silverware” so as not to a) starve, b) embarrass myself, and c) shame Asian restaurant owners across the Northeast U.S. Many a friend has tried to teach me how to use them, but I either gave up out of frustration, or my hand cramped up.

Enter this past Saturday. We had a bunch of OSO episodes on our DVR, and one was called “From China With Love.” Cute, I thought…maybe it’s about a fortune cookie or something (I know fortune cookies are as American as apple pie). Lo and behold, it’s about using chopsticks, all broken down into the “3 special steps” OSO is known for! So I figured I’d give it a try…hey, who was I going to let down by failing? Oh, right…Mason. I could just picture my son shaking his head in pure toddler disapproval as I dropped another clump of rice in my lap.

As I said, I’m guilty of bashing kids’ shows. With Special Agent OSO, my chief complaint is that the “3 special steps” are broken down too far, and important steps are lacking. This chopsticks lesson, however, turned out surprisingly clear:

  1. Press one chopstick between your middle finger and thumb.
  2. Hold the other chopstick between your pointer finger and thumb.
  3. Move the chopstick with your pointer finger to grab food.

Of course, there was a visual guide on the TV as well. So I grabbed two pens (we don’t usually have chopsticks hanging around the house) and gave it a try. And it worked!

OSO, you crafty son of a bear!

Never again will I complain 100% about OSO and his “3 special steps.” Sure, there are plenty of examples of oversimplifying, but anyone who can teach a klutz like me to use chopsticks gets slack in my book. Thank you, OSO!

Random Perks to Being A Dad: Toys!

Every job has its perks. Though there’s no vacation time or salary raise for being a dad, there are some fringe benefits for sure. Lately, none have been more significant for me that being able to play with little kids’ toys again (and not get odd looks from my wife…OK…less odd looks). Have you ever found yourself in the toy section at Target enjoying a Slinky like a 5-year old? You’re not alone…there’s at least one other nutcase out there!

Let’s face it, human beings love a good bit of nostalgia every now and then, but we get caught up in the societal pressure of maturity. In other words, we want to play with the blocks, but we’d look like morons if we were witnessed doing so. Children are like a “get out of jail free” card for this activity. I take full advantage of this.

OMG! Mason got a Magna-Doodle! SQUEEEEE!!!!

Depending on the toy, I get downright selfish. I think I played with the Magna-Doodle for at least 15 minutes before Holly convinced me to let a very patient Mason play with it. Now, it’s used for a pseudo-educational tool…I write words on it and teach mason, i.e. “BREAKFAST” when he’s eating breakfast, “TRAIN” when he’s watching Chuggington, and everyone’s favorite word, “NO!” when… (insert naughty activity here).

It’s also the simple toys that bring me joy. Mason has these spiky balls that light up when bounced. Pure ecstasy for Daddy. It’s like a stress ball and light show all in one! It’s like therapy to bounce it all over the house and be endlessly entertained. I almost got in big trouble with it recently…I believe the threat began with “If you make that ball light up one more time…” and ended with “give it to Mason!!” I guess I’m just an immature dad. 😛

See? Immature.

Overanalyzing TV: Every Parent’s Job

Since its invention, the TV has driven millions of parents nuts.

As parents, we are always trying to prevent our kids, no matter what age, from being exposed to things that will harm them or warp their innocent minds. Rarely is this more true than when parents try to control what kids see on TV. TV is so open and blatant today that even newscasts are dangerous for little ones to watch. Surely, shows on Disney Junior must be perfectly OK to watch, Right?

…Right?!

Several months ago, Holly and I were watching some Disney Junior to get a handle on some of the shows Mason would be watching in the future, Mason was just a couple of months old at this point, nowhere near being able to sit up to watch TV, let alone understand what was on it. This show called “Jungle Junction” comes on.

Some Jungle Junction characters, including "Ellyvan." Likely a Chrysler model.

Cute show. Little “animals” on wheels roll around and talk. One is even named “Ellyvan” and it’s an elephant! HA! There are several other characters and the like, but the purpose of this is to overanalyze, so I’m going to skip the rest of them.

Anyway, this episode was all about “the big rain.” Apparently, these creatures live in an oasis in the middle of a huge desert, and whenever a “big rain” comes, they need to collect as much water as they can to keep plants and things growing, and so they have things to drink.

Wait, cars drink? Well, animals do…but they are cars too…how is this possible?! Continuing on…

So “the big rain” is approaching, in the form of a huge thunderstorm! As it begins to pour, the animals/cars/whatevers begin running around with buckets to collect water. They strategically place them at the ends of leaves and the like so collect as much as possible, and–

Wait, what?! It’s thunder and lightning, and these idiots are running around like morons with buckets! Who wrote this crap! I can see Mason anticipating a tornado warning, bucket in hand, ready to dash out and save the freaking imaginary carnimals from themselves. Oy!

I know, it’s just a kids show, and kids are supposed to have imaginations. I highly doubt Mason will ever run out in a thunderstorm with a bucket, but as an adult, and as a parent, you can’t help but think of these crazy things. It sucks that we lose our wild imaginations as we get older, but for our kid’s sakes, we need to be alert of these “possible scenarios.”

Overanalysis of TV doesn’t stop as a child gets older…it gets worse. I always seem to assume Mason will do exactly what these shows depict. If Special Agent OSO activates his jet pack, I’ll be waiting for Mason to dive off the couch. Heck, he already likes to climb into the couch and bounce around, what’s a plunge to the floor? Just another health hazard for Mommy and Daddy. Hey, maybe there’s a hazard sign for overanalysis…

What about you? What shows have you found ridiculously easy to overanalyze and assume the worst from? Anyone? Please tell me I’m not the only crazy dad here…

Toddlers & Toilets

Those of you who follow me on Twitter may notice I have been tweeting about the toilet lately. Mason loves playing with liquid, as has been shown in the past. The toilet is no exception. The boy has known how to flush the throne since he was able to crawl. It would often be the answer to the question “where is he?”

  • Mommy: Where’s Mason?
  • Daddy: I dunno…
  • *FLUSH!*
  • (Daddy sighs, gets up to retrieve spawn)

Of course, Mason is now able to open the toilet. Why a still pool of water fascinates this kid, I’ll never know. Actually, maybe still water bothers him, which would explain why he finds it necessary to stick his hands in it. What’s even worse is that Mason likes to flush again and again and again. I swear I can hear the toilet cry for mercy.

"No, Mason, please don't...no. No! NOOOOOOO!"

Thankfully, Mason hasn’t yet figured out that anything you put in the toilet can be flushed down it. Not so thankfully, Mason hasn’t yet figured out that relocating him outside the bathroom and closing the door is not going to kill him, so he screams as if it will.

So what could be worse than a kid flushing a toilet over and over? A kid who wants to flush it over and over while Mommy or Daddy is using it! Awesome! We have two options:

  • A: Allow Mason in the restroom with us and try to do our business while keeping him from flushing and creating…unusual sensations and awkward actions
  • B: Close the door when using the bathroom like all normal people and let him scream bloody murder.

Tough choice, right? But maybe, just maybe, there is an option C in here…

Mommies and Daddies, I give you…

Hmm...this just might do the trick!

THE OUTHOUSE!

Hey, I didn’t say it would be a good, sensible solution, did I? Sure, it doesn’t fix the endless flushing problem, or the water play issue, but at least it allows Mommy and Daddy to heed nature’s call the way it was intended….ALONE!

Somehow, someday, some way, Mason will soon begin potty training (I’m walking in blind here, so any tips or fair warnings are appreciated). I feel bad for pulling him away from the toilet so much when I know I’ll soon be encouraging him to use it. The conflicted parenting stuff is what’s hardest. Oh well, at least it doesn’t create a crap load of trouble if I mishandle this lesson…oh, wait…

Five Parental Hazards & How To Avoid Them

Avoid DADDY DANGER!

Now that Mason is walking, running, climbing, learning to throw things, etc., I’ve become concerned about my own safety around the house, not just his. If Mommy and Daddy aren’t healthy and well to take care of him, he’s in danger! That’s why I’m putting warning signs all around the house to warn us about the potential hazards that surround us. Sure, they may look silly, but lives are at stake here!

Here are five ordinary warning signs we see in the outside world that can be adapted for use in the home.

Warning Sign #1: SLOW DOWN

Warning #1: SLOW DOWN!

Purpose: This is pretty straight forward. Toddlers are everywhere, and they come out of nowhere. Move too quickly, and you accidentally knee your kid in the head and feel awful about it.

Locations: Place this sign at sudden turns in the hallway, on doors that children could lurk behind…anywhere a fast move could cause a concussion.

Warning Sign #2: TRAINS ON TV

Warning #2: TV TRAIN ALERT!

Purpose: Little boys (and even some little girls) love trains. Not just in the living room, but on TV. Wouldn’t you know it, Disney has this market cornered. Mason loved watching Chuggington every morning. Second only to Special Agent Oso, this show causes Mason to concentrate on cartoons…and get angry when said concentration is broken. This sign keeps your kid from screaming for no good TV-related reason.

Locations: This sign is best placed wherever your TV is located. Stop and look both ways for trains on TV, proceed with caution.

Warning Sign #3: HAVE A NICE TRIP!!

Warning #3: WATCH YOUR STEP!

Purpose: Toddlers make messes. Toddlers destroy clean areas. Toddlers throw toys. Little toys. Toys that tall people don’t see easily. Being warned to watch where you step prevents toe stubbings, trips, foot punctures, and other things that make mommies and daddies curse and cry. I’m sure parents know all too well the pain of LEGOs. Enough said.

Locations: Place this sign anywhere you have more than three feet of open floor space between you and any destination that may lay before you. Those painful suckers can lurk anywhere!

Warning Sign #4: INCOMING!!!

Warning #4: WET FLOOR!!

Purpose: After numerous spills of significance, I find it a personal responsibility to warn fellow parents of the growing threat of massive spills. Spills are easy to slip on and hard to prevent, but with proper placement, this warning sign can be used to bring awareness to liquid terror.

Locations: Post in the kitchen, near your kid’s high chair, and on every liquid container your kid could possibly ever get their hands on. Consider an evacuation route to escape the house in a quick manner as well.

Warning Sign #5: DON'T BREATHE!!

Warning #5: P… *GASP* U!!!

Purpose: This sign warns parents of the most vile, disgusting toxin in the household: the stinky diaper. I’m sure thousands of parents each year pass out from the sheer potency of toddler feces. Let’s also not forget guests who may be in the residence at the time of a nuclear deposit. Warning people of the silent suffocator is just the right thing to do.

Locations: Post this sucker near the diaper changing area, near the diaper disposal unit, on the diaper disposal unit…even on your little one’s bottom. Excrement is dangerous and unpredictable. Use extreme caution…the sign can’t help you once it all comes out.

With these signs in place, your home will be a safer place for you to enjoy your child’s life, and for you to be a better parent. Remember…if you aren’t aware, you take the dare! Don’t succumb to the parental hazards of the home!

There’s No Use Freaking Over Spilled Milk

The baby bottle may look secure and spill-resistant, but it has a surprising weakness.

Like most little boys, Mason enjoys a nice bottle of milk with his breakfast in the morning. He’s not quite ready for milk from a sippy cup yet (though water or juice isn’t a problem for some reason), so we still use the trusty Medela bottles we’ve been using for months now. Lately, Mason has gotten destructive (what else is new?) with the bottles. They don’t really tolerate the four-foot fall from high chair tray to floor. He’s cracked two nipple rings (the plastic piece that secures the nipple atop the bottle) already. Usually, only an ounce or so seeped out of the bottle before the cleaning crew arrived for duty. Aside from the expense of replacing the ring, not a big deal, right?

Wrong! Mason is always outdoing himself after all.

A few days ago, we encountered the worst milk-related disaster the family has ever seen. It started as a typical morning routine.

    • Mason wakes us up
    • Mason gets placed in high chair and served breakfast (pancakes in this instance)
    • Mason asks (in baby babble) for milk
    • Daddy gets Mason his milk

This is where everything changed. Normally Mason is pretty content for us to get some house stuff done, and feed the cats. I went to feed the cats, and Holly was getting ready for work. As I came upstairs from feeding the cats, I heard the distinctive sound of liquid being splattered. At first, it sounded like a dog slurping water…it was then I realized we don’t have a dog.

…”MASON?!”

And there he was…sloshing milk all over his tray. The milk had concentrated itself into the space reserved for cups and bottles, and Mason was swishing his fingers in it, making the sound I had mistaken for a drinking dog. Soaked PJ’s, milk all over the floor, and arguably the biggest smile I had ever seen on Mason’s face…truly this was a sight to behold!

Cleanup crew!

The cause of the catastrophe was found to be a severely inverted nipple on Mason’s milk bottle. Apparently, Mason used a finger to push it all the way down, turning it completely inside out and breaking the bottle seal. The boy then strategically toppled the bottle over and at least 4 ounces of milk flooded the immediate area.

When Dr. Destructo gets his hands on things...

Of course, contradictory to the title, I freaked. Something about only having an hour in the morning to feed, dress, entertain and get Mason out the door kind of makes me panic when things go awry. Just call me the Freaked Father from 7:00-8:00 AM.

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