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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

In which I realize that I am not awesome

I had a chance to be awesome the other day.

I was at a playdate with Awkward Moment Mom and the the Mommy Politics Moms.

It was hosted by AMM and she had also invited one of her friends who has a slightly older girl than the rest of us; a peek into the future for the rest of us. And boy, the future looks pretty freaking adorable.

The MPMs and I were having a conversation about friends, couple friends, pre-kid friends, and post-kid friends. Our revelations? That before you have kids you make people work harder at being interesting before you let them into your "friend circle"; once you have kids, however, you have automatic ice-breakers and perhaps you make it easier for other people to enter your life.

Given the fact that I've spent more time with my mom friends in the course of one week than I did with my pre-kid friends over the course of one month, this just seems entirely true.

It's the playgroups, and wanting our oblivious little children to have BFFs when they're 6 months old, that encourages, promotes, and forces these friendships on us.

AMM's friend, with the adorable little girl, then remarked: "I think it's been hard for me to make those parent friends, because I work. I'm not 100% time, only 70% or so and I'd like to cut it down to about 60% time, but I miss out on those playgroups and playdates and opportunities to create and maintain friendships with other parents."

This comment provoked a paradigm shift for me, a parenting Copernican Revolution. I almost always view myself as the odd-parent out: the dad, the dude, the one without traumatized nipples or concussed vagina, the one who has to work hard; at fitting in, because in my mind the other moms are almost auto-friends, and I'm just tagging along.

But now, I realized, I have no monopoly on fringe-dwelling. Here was a smart, funny, charming mom who also had to work harder at these friendships. And it had nothing to do with dangly bits or lack thereof, and everything to do with opportunity.

I was stunned by my realization. And I was, like Kant, woken from my dogmatic slumber and inspired to do something. This mom had not asked for help, and perhaps didn't need any, and maybe didn't want any. But she had expressed a dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and I could do something about it, in some small way. For her. For my wife, who has to work too much. For the other working parents who feel a little excluded because of circumstance. For the other at-home parents who wished they could do more to help.

And so, on the heels of her confession, my mind raced around and I tried to think of the best, most helpful, inviting, friendly, and caring thing I could say. Because here and now, I could make a difference in this woman's life and it would cost me nothing and would probably mean a lot to her.




I couldn't think of anything to say.

No. That's not true. I could think of something, and it was entirely inappropriate and I don't even know where it came from.

"Oh. Well. That must be hard."

I wasn't going to say it. Because it was trivial. And it was precisely the kind of dismissive comment that I always fear hearing from moms when I offer some participatory remark. Like "Oh, it's nice of you to try to engage us, Dad, but really you couldn't possibly have anything interesting to add to our mom-versation. Just sit quietly and we'll let your daughter play with our kids. Because that's really all the consideration you deserve."

So there was no way I was going to say the only thing that flashed through my mind. I was never ever going to subject another person to the kind of trauma I was paranoid about enduring.

But, because I was so focused on what I wasn't going to say, I never thought of anything I was going to say.

So I sat there. Looking at her. Perhaps prompting her to say something else with a semi-encouraging look. But she had said what was on her mind, and now, four seconds later the conversation had died and needed to move on.

Sorry folks. I am not awesome. But maybe I will be, next time.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Year-Long Weekend

Day One: Thursday or "The Day the Camera Stood Still"

Erin's 1st Birthday was Thursday. Because we are good (read: terrible) parents we took her to Disneyland (you know, because she's been begging us to take her). This was her third trip to visit Mickey.

Let me explain something about my wife and I. We are a little bit insane when it comes to the Disney parks. My wife's engagement ring? From the jewelry store in New Orleans Square. Proposal in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle? Check. Honeymoon to Disneyworld? Check. Multiple trips to Disneyland Paris? Check. Free Disney Cruise to the Bahamas courtesy of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire: Play It!"? Check. Trip to Tokyo in 2005 where we spent more time at Tokyo Disney than we did anywhere else? Check. For a brief period in 2005 we had been to every Disney park in the world. Then they opened Hong Kong. Next?


So, we're starting Erin early. We took her to Disneyland when she was 7 weeks old (for Father's Day), again at 8 months (for Christmas), and again for her birthday. We're not too happy about the Disney Princesses obsession that some little girls have, and we're going to try to temper that with some kickass Mulan-watching later, but we love Disneyland.

So, that was a long intro. Erin seems to love Disneyland too. We took her on Thursday. We went on lots of rides and even let Erin go on a few (Dumbo, Casey Jr., Pirates). The Dapper Dans sang "Happy Birthday" to Erin on Main Street:


And we met Mickey in his house for the third time.


Someone dropped the camera and broke it. I won't say who did it. I won't say who is now even with someone else for having dropped the previous camera in a river in the mountains on a camping trip with his friend.

Ok. It was Emily.

So the rest of the trip was photographed by my mother-in-law (bless her) and by me on my Blackberry (bless Research In Motion).

That night, at dinner, Erin had her first birthday cake, and she fulfilled her 1-year-old obligation and destroyed it.


Day Two: Friday or "Preparing for Jellyfish"

Friday was a blur, for more reasons than one. We had to buy all of the supplies for the party, which meant hitting up a party supply store, Michael's, and Costco all in the same day, as well as peeking into Albertson's. We then drove the supplies over to Emily's aunt and uncle's gorgeous house in Yorba Linda (next door to the lady who invented the Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles) and spent a little time there, putting food away and visiting with those lovely people and their 20 kids. No. Not 20. It just feels like 20, and there were visitors in town already and babies everywhere and it was just awesome.

After a couple of hours we headed out for Laguna Beach to take some pictures. Emily's cousin is a professional photographer (and she took a bunch of shots at Disneyland that I have yet to see) and she was in town with her mom and her little boy, who is one year older than Erin.

Laguna Beach, in the Spring, at dusk, is awesome. (I say "awesome" a lot).


After pictures we drove up to Huntington Beach to have some BBQ at Mo's. And it was awesome.

Then we went back to our Anaheim hotel. And as soon as we emerged from the elevator, vomit emerged from Erin's esophagus.

I don't know what triggered it. She had a couple of good coughs, and then urped all over.

We cleaned her up, thought about what she had eaten, wondered if it was just a water-flush from the dying-of-thirst-water-gobbling she had been doing at dinner. We put her to bed, and then we heard her coughing, sputtering, and barfing again.

Now we were a little worried.

We cleaned her up again and just held her on the bed with us. And she drifted off, coughed, barfed again. Now there was nothing left in her stomach, and she wasn't taking the water we were giving her.

So, a 1:30am Pedialyte run for Dad. Back to the hotel, dose some Pedialyte (way too much, as it turned out...but she was thirsty).


So, a 2:30am call to the advice nurse at our home hospital. Smaller doses of Pedialyte, and only if she's actually full-on awake. Don't worry about dehydration until 8 hours of barfing.

Emily went to the other room to try to sleep and I lay with Erin all night, towels spread out beside me for her to barf on at will.

A 3:30am wakeup and more barfing. And then what seemed like 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep. For me and Erin.

Emily didn't sleep a wink all night.

Day Three: Saturday or "Oh yeah, we still have a party going on today at 1pm"

Oh yeah.

We watched Erin take some good amounts of Pedialyte in the morning. And I let Emily go to sleep once she had assured herself that Erin was fine (if very very very thirsty).

But the extra sleep meant a very late start on a day when we were going to do some last-minute party stuff: pick up the cake, decorate the house, pick up the rest of the food, start cooking etc...)

So we were in a bit of a rush when we pulled in to the cake shop to get our cakes (a big one and a little "smash cake" for Erin). And Dad, rushed, on his daughter's first birthday, is not in a particularly good mood for hearing "I don't see your order anywhere."


I tried to decide if I had the time to kill him before rushing off to another bakery to pick up a last minute cake that would not be Jellyfish themed. I didn't. Have the time, that is. But I did have time, and the patience, and the "don't get thrown in jail on your daughter's birthday" presence of mind to double check that Gaby worked there. She didn't. I was at the wrong bakery entirely. The bakery I had ordered from (online) was actually really close to the hotel and I had just wasted half an hour being a stupid Google-trusting ass.

Also forgot the Jellyfish DVD at the hotel.

So, we picked up the cakes at the correct, awesome bakery and they were awesome:


And we rushed back to the hotel so I could pick up the Jellyfish DVD.

And my camcorder. Gah. What a dumbass I was that morning.

And we rushed over to the house, arriving 5 minutes before the start-time of the party, but not before other guests started arriving, some of whom actually don't know the hosts at all. Good times.

But, long story short (too late!) the party went off with a hitch (that's not a typo), but it was still awesome. And I bbq'd awesome burgers and hot dogs and other stuff. And Erin fell in love with a dog. And she smashed the hell out of her smash cake, which is really what the day, and weekend were about anyway.


And so what if some of the decorations didn't go up. And so what if I didn't have my camera. And so what if we were late.

My little girl was healthy, and happy, and well-loved by the 35 or so people who showed up.

And I'd do it all over again, every bit of it, to see this face:


"Bye bye, guys."

There's a very long post coming soon...

...but I'm too tired to write it at the moment. We've just returned from Erin's Fabulous Jellyfish Party Disneyland Birthday Weekend.

And I need to go to sleep.

But thank you to the diligent 25 or so people who kept checking back here to see if I had posted anything new after Thursday. You are awesome. As are all of you who have a feed subscription that was irritatingly silent over the weekend. You are also awesome. And clearly I need to write more often. Then I too can be awesome.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Well, that was fast.

Erin is one year old today. She has gone from this:Erin's First Six Months (Selection) 010

to this:


and I couldn't be more proud and happy and sappy.

We're in Anaheim for the rest of the week because we're taking her to Disneyland today and then having a party on Saturday.

I love this little girl of mine. And her mom does too.

Lawyering Mom Writes Poetry:

You Are One

flailing, crawling, walking

wailing, babbling, talking

throughout your life you have been many things

throughout my life you will be many things

but today you are just


Happy Birthday, baby girl.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Want to have a baby girl? Just put down the Snickers and Honey Bunches of Oats...

A new study out of Exeter and Oxford finds that pregnant women who consumed higher calorie foods, and breakfast cereals, around the time of conception had a higher chance of conceiving a boy than a girl.

Says one doctor from the University of Sheffield: "I would urge women to not to start starving themselves in order to try influence the sex of their baby"

Seriously, dude.

Says one commenter on the BBC Website: "I will definitely use this research to try and influence my child to be a boy!"

Says one Backpacking Dad: "I will definitely ignore the conclusions reached by the doctors involved in this study. Because I'm sure as hell not going to start a little Snickers eugenics program the next time my wife and I are trying to get pregnant."

Besides. She likes chocolate chip cookies. Not Snickers.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

You played a great game.

I know I said I wanted to keep the hockey stuff over at the other blog, but I just have to share this one here.


Game 7 is over, and the San Jose Sharks have just finished off the Calgary Flames.

The camera is on the hand-shake lineup, and the focus keeps switching back to Owen Nolan's face. He's disappointed, obviously, having joined a Calgary team that seemed to have a shot at going deep in the playoffs even though they drew the hottest team in the NHL going down the stretch.

Owen Nolan. Who was a superstar in San Jose for years. Who still keeps a home here. Who famously called his shot in an All-Star game played on home ice in 1997. When he was a Shark.

He's in San Jose tonight, looking tired. A nasty red mark graces his left cheek. He was in San Jose in 1996 when I moved here for the first time, and he was new himself, having been traded from the soon-to-be Stanley Cup Champion Avalanche. I watched his Sharks play in the Shark Tank, and I cheered for him. I could care less about the Sharks.

I cheered because every time he touched the ice I was transported back to my childhood, when I could watch Owen Nolan play for the OHL team in my small, smelly town. He was the star of the Cornwall Royals before being drafted first overall. He was the rookie of the year in the OHL in 1989. And just as he would someday be an All-Star in the NHL, one night he was the star of the 1990 All-Star game between the OHL and the QMJHL, played that year in my smelly little town.

After that game the goalie coach conspired to deliver a stick to me: the OHL goaltender's stick, signed by the winning goalie, Fife, I believe his name to be. That was nice. It was a game-used stick. It was signed just for me, a 12-year old kid who was finally getting excited about hockey.

After the game my mother took me to Cornwall BBQ for a very late dinner. I carried my stick in with me and sat it down at the table. And just as we started eating a family walked in to the restaurant; jovial, starving, and beaming. And the big kid, all of 18 years old, who walked in with them was Owen Nolan.

I saw him, and stammered "That's Owen Nolan." My mother, because she is my mother, said "You should go talk to him."

"What? I can't talk to him. He's with his family, and they're just here to eat."

And because when my mother looked at him she saw an 18-year old kid and a family flushed with pride instead of a hockey god on earth, as I did, she pushed it: "I think his family would be really happy for him to see you come up to him here. Just tell him you are a big fan."

Reluctantly, but excitedly, I gave in. I picked up my bulky goalie stick, and walked into the other dining room, where Owen Nolan, my hockey hero, was sitting with his family.

"Hi, um, Owen?"

"Yes. Hello there."

"Um, I uh, just wanted to tell you that you played a great game."

"Thanks very much."

"And, uh, I was um hoping that you might sign this stick. It'sthegoaliestickPaulDesjardinsgaveittome." This last in a rush of hopeful name-dropping. Paul was the goalie coach for the Royals, and was a family friend.

"Sure. I'd love to."

"Thanks Owen. I'll see you around." And then, elated, I returned to my table with my now sacred trophy in tow.

For 18 years I've carried that memory around with me, close; closer than the stick with his autograph, which was lost in a frantic move about a year later. He's probably had hundreds of encounters like that; I've only had the one. I think I've mentioned it so many times to my wife that it grates on her nerves a little. Whenever his name is mentioned on television she says "Hey look! It's your buddy."

She teases.

But. For that night he was my buddy.

And tonight he's disappointed that his team won't be going on to the next round of the Playoffs.

But tonight I'd like to say, as I did 18 years ago: "You played a great game."

That's it...I quit: Sibling Rivalry enters the Information Age

There are too many people I know in real life who read this thing. What's the fun of writing semi-anonymous confessionals or showing off my mad dad skillz yo if someone who actually knows me can sneak up behind me and tell everyone what a terrible person I really am?


I know my mother-in-law reads it. I'm pretty sure my step-mother reads it. I don't know if my dad reads it. But my sister also reads it. What's more, she's started her own blog.

Just to copy me. Sheesh. She just can't stand that I'm doing something she's not.

It doesn't end there. She's been copying me my whole life. When I got a cat, she had to get a cat. When I would play "Lothar of the Tree People" in the woods behind our house, she had to play "Lothar of the Tree People" in the woods behind our house. When I started a Facebook page, she started a Facebook page. When I met a girl online and moved to California and got married and had a baby, she met a girl online and moved to California and got married and had a baby.

No. That's a complete and total fabrication. She's not gay, and she would never move to California ;}

And seriously, I don't feel like she's copying me at all.

I love that sometimes she and I will like the same things (blogging being the latest, apparently), and that we will still just click over things. On those rare occasions that I make it back home we usually end up staying up too late and giggling over some stupid, otherwise unremarkable thing. That's some sibling-magic right there.

Despite the fact that I have always been a terrible older brother, she has persisted in treating me like family, and I just can't resist that. So, because I'm a loving older brother now (even if I never call), I'm totally adding her to my blogroll.

Because I like her at least as much as the strangers whose lives I stalk every day.

Go visit her at My Dog is Better and say "Hi Shannon. Your [edit] brother is awesome. You're so lucky to be in his life."


Sunday, April 20, 2008


My great fear as a parent is that I will fail.

No, that's too trite. My great fear is that despite an intellectual commitment to raising my children in as thoughtful, respectful, joyous and diligent a manner as possible, I will instead harm them with those thoughts and beliefs that remain hidden from the world, and even from myself; the submerged opinions formed in my own childhood that have long since been consciously rejected, but which perhaps persist, infecting my healthy parenting with a malady of anachronism.

This is Sophie:


My wife and I call her "Sophie the twenty dollar giraffe", because even though she is a fairly inexpensive rubber toy in her native France, once imported her price skyrockets.

One cannot be a good (read: slightly snobby and keeping up with the Joneses) parent on the San Francisco Peninsula unless one has purchased Sophie. She is an excellent teething toy, and babies love her.

Erin loved chewing on Sophie so much that when she lost her at dinner we immediately purchased another. That's Sophie, the forty dollar giraffe.

We spent the money in part because it helped when Erin was teething, but we also spent the money because Erin liked Sophie. I want to give Erin the things that she likes.

But sometimes giving her the things she likes makes me feel guilty. For instance, she loves to push her own stroller around. And this is wonderful, and adorable, and also not always a possibility. But in those instances when I've taken her stroller from her, for whatever reason, she has grown very upset with me, and she shows me this face:


Which breaks my heart. And so occasionally I'll give in, and let her push it anyway.

This always makes me feel guilty. As though I am spoiling her by letting her have the things that she wants so desperately.

And then I wonder about this feeling of guilt, and whether it's legitimate or not. And I trace it, correctly or not, to a chapter of Rousseau's Emile that I remember reading in the 9th grade. It's an Enlightenment treatise on education that devotes only one chapter to educating girls (an oversight Mary Wollestonecraft was very quick to criticize). In this chapter Rousseau introduces Sophie, and discusses the proper way to educate a girl who is destined to be Emile's companion, wife, and servant.

And one of the key elements to raising this girl, doomed by her sex to the life Rousseau imagines for her, is to create her as a passive companion: "It is necessary that the one [Emile] have the power and the will; it is enough that the other [Sophie] should offer little resistance."

My deep fear is that my guilty feelings about possibly spoiling my daughter are influenced by some archaic notion that what Rousseau is saying is true: that women need to be raised differently than men, because they have some nature that differentiates them in a relevant way.

This passage from Rousseau has stuck with me for 16 years, peering down from my shoulder like my own devil; stalking me like a mad killer of dreams:

"Girls should be vigilant and hardworking, but this is not enough by itself; they should be accustomed to annoyances early on. This misfortune, if such it be, is inherent in their sex, and they will never escape from it, unless to endure much more cruel sufferings. For their entire life they will have to submit to the most continual and most severe annoyances, those of proper decorum. They must be trained to bear constraint from the first, so that it costs them nothing, to master their own fantasies in order to submit to the will of others."

And every time I think about taking Erin's stroller away I wonder if I am just buying into Rousseau's line: that I need to raise my daughter to be accustomed to disappointment; that I need to make her docile in the face of my authority, even when I exercise that authority whimsically and arbitrarily.

And yet, even knowing that this might be the reason for my guilt, I cannot help but think I might spoil her. And that is the real, damning, myopic legacy that I cannot shake.

So, I fear that at the end of the day I am not the man I claim to be, that I am not the father I intend to be, and that I am not the parent I ought to be. Because I only have a one child, and that child is a daughter, I have the fear that I would raise my son differently.

I fear that if, in the end, I have a son that I am going to make a choice, a horrible, terrible, and frightful choice. One that will save one child and doom another, because I am entirely within the power of some other entity.

While William Styron's Sophie has to face this choice because of a sadistic Nazi doctor, my fear is that I will be forced to make my own choice because of some lingering, traitorous, and anachronistic ideas about differences between men and women.

What I hope is that as much guilt as I feel about indulging her I will likewise feel about indulging him, giving the lie to this entire fear I've now spent ages and pages articulating. But until I have a son this can never be put to the test. And if I never have a son I don't think I will know for sure that I am anything better than the misguided, bigoted figure that I fear I will turn out to be.

Why not 3 months ago?

I heard a rumour that there was a place in San Jose with a giant rubber duck sitting on the roof. Because Erin is a duck fiend...

DSC04752 DSC05016DSC04754 

...I knew that I was going to have to bring her to see this canary canard.


Attention! Alliteration Ahead!

Apparently, an acrylic aquatic avian adorns an awesome adolescent (and adult) amusement artifice adjoining an aerated  area.

This place is the Children's Discovery Museum in San Jose, and I can't believe I waited so long to bring Erin here.

While plotting my zoo excursion earlier in the week I had also tossed around the idea of going to the CDM. Emily suggested we save the museum for the weekend so we could all go together for our first visit (we'd been to the zoo before as a family), so that's what we did.

It isn't free, and it isn't cheap ($8 each for us, and after Erin turns one it will be another $8 for her), but they do have annual memberships available. After today, I'm seriously considering one of the family memberships, but we're a little far for it to be a convenient, last-minute, what-do-we-do-today option.

But this place is great. From the baby storage lockers in the lobby


to the awesome crawling room within the pre-schoolers area


to the, um, super-cool Bench of Killing Time

DSC05039 DSC05040

and the..."Hey, free bell!"


All kidding aside, the crawling room alone was worth the price of admission. That's where we spent the majority of our time, and it was just one room within the pre-schoolers (0-4) area, The Wonder Cabinet, which also boasted a brief story time, a "let's dump sand everywhere" area, a couple of arts and crafts areas, and a kitchen playroom.

Then there is still the rest of the building: a theater, a bunch of cool gizmos, several widgets, a couple of doodads, and a face-painting room. I didn't take enough pictures to do it justice here, and we didn't spend enough time there outside of The Wonder Cabinet to get a really good sense of the age-appropriateness of some of the exhibits.

But we're going back.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Erin goes to the S.F. Zoo

Friday was a good day. I managed to squeeze in a workout and feed my daughter to the ducks.

Er. Carefully set my daughter down in an area where many ducks were.

We went to the San Francisco Zoo, me and her, this explorer, intrepid adventurer daughter of mine.

She was very excited about it.


She is also growing up into quite the little monkey.


Sorry: ape.

Doesn't she look cute in that hat?

She loves wearing it.


She was also quite pleased to see the chimpanzees in a close replica of their natural environment. Apparently the San Francisco Zoo found these chimps in the Charlton Heston future where they've developed mad construction skills and enjoy building forts.


Because I paid $11 to get into the place, I thought it only fitting that we spend our time doing what we could only do at the San Francisco Zoo.

So we went to the playground and swung on yet another swing.


And we sat in the grass and ate flowers.


Finally we went to the Children's Zoo area. And this part is serious: they have a neat little school house there that is open for free play, with their toys, from 2-3pm or so. They also have pre-arranged classes for toddlers. But the free play time, in the middle of the day, in a nice big room that I could lie down in, was just awesome.DSC04998

After the school house we went to the farm, and I let Erin molest the goats. They were not amused. Except for this one. Dude is smiling.


In partial revenge I allowed the goats to convince me that it would be funny to feed Erin to the ducks. Erin goes ape for ducks (yep, just linked the top and bottom of this post together; that's just how I roll), and she was freaking out that these little guys were just wandering around next to her and swimming in the pond behind her.


So I threw her in the pond and went to get lunch. When I got back she had tamed them all and convinced them to lift her out of the pond, dry her off, make her some lunch, and give her a present.DSC04942

No. That's a lie. The present was from her Tota.

Not a bad day.

"I totally saw ducks, guys. And a monkey. And some meerkitties. And a bunny. And some ducks. And my dad bought me a beer."

No, sweetie. I bought you a 'bear'. I got that beer for free.

Yeah. I'm a sucker like that. I'll spend eight bucks on a bear she's going to eat for twenty minutes and then throw out of her car seat on to the floor.

I'd do it every day if I had the floorspace in the car.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Everyone please click the "Rockabye" button over on the right. Check out Rebecca's book, and then buy it. :} I swear, to my knowledge I get nothing out of this. She just had her car broken into, among other things you can read about on her blog though, so more book sales would undoubtedly help her mood right now.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The one that pays for all...

I promise this will be my last Caltrain story for a while, and the one that pays for all:

Erin and I were late for our train today. By, oh, 30 seconds. It pulled up as we were still about a football field away, and I still had to buy a ticket on the platform (you must buy a ticket before you get on, no matter how willing you are to pay them directly later). There was no way I was going to make it in time. I would just have to buy a ticket and wait for the next one, in half an hour.

As I was rushing up the platform it looked like it was getting ready to leave on time, and then something changed. The doors opened, and remained open. I was almost in range of the last open door, but I was still a hockey neutral zone away from the ticket dispenser, and I was going to have to get to my wallet (in the backpack today), select my ticket, insert my credit card, and wait for the ticket to print before I could snag that berth.

But there the train sat. It wasn't leaving on time. Like it was waiting for me.

"Oh Backpacking Dad. Don't you just want to sneak through this open door here instead? We're waiting just for you. We saw you hustling up the platform. Don't you want to try to get away with it today?"

No, serpentine train voice in my head. No I don't.

"But you will be late for your daughter's swimming lesson. And isn't she more important? There's plenty of room, and no one will question YOU. You have the magic, distracting Baby of Cuteness."

Screw off, train voice. You're making me feel guilty.

I thought about doing it. I stepped slightly to my left, toward the open door, and then I reconsidered and made a bee-line for the ticket dispenser, resigned to missing this train but retaining my moral authority.

Just as I made that decision I found out why the train was lagging a little bit. A Conductor-Type ejected a 20-something slacker who kept protesting that he had a ticket (for the wrong zone, or wrong day, or one way from earlier or something), to no avail. Dude was booted, and the train left just as I got to the ticket dispenser.

Today, they were checking tickets. And today I didn't give in.

I win, Universe. And you can go to hell, creepy train voice.

Sorry Marty...

No Hoverboards Allowed hoverboards allowed.

This is a sign at the Menlo Park Caltrain station. Erin and I saw this sign yesterday because we were taking the train to Redwood City (as we'll do again today).

On the train, in our customary boarding area spot (we only go one stop, and it's not worth it to take the backpack off and sit down for 1 minute then put the backpack on again) we were suddenly approached by a Conductor-Type.

Wow. He's looking awfully determined.

"Excuse me sir..."


"Would you like me to clear a seat for you and your baby?"

Wha...? Wow.

He was asking me if I would like him to kick someone out of one of the "assistance" seating areas that seat four comfortably, facing each other, so that I wouldn't have to (a) sit in a narrow two-seat, or (b) stand in the boarding area looking forlorn like no one cares about the tough lot in life that is the SAHD's.

"Oh, thank you very much. We're just going one stop, though. That was very kind."

"She's adorable."

Yeah she is. And she's also magic, apparently.

When we deboarded (is it "deboarded" or "disembarked" when you're talking about trains?) the train in Redwood City we were met by a throng of happy little 4 year olds and their surprisingly competent and happy chaperones, all boarding the train we were just de-planing (I've given up).

And on our way back home later that afternoon we boarded the southbound train that those same 4 year olds were just abandoning, so we saw their cherubic, enthusiastic faces again, and we saw their happy chaperones. And we saw one unhappy little girl and a matronly chaperone trying to console her.

When Erin and I got on the train our Conductor-Type friend was there and he gave us a nod, and saw us watching the little girl and her chaperone. He confided: "I don't know what his problem was. All she wanted to do  was announce "Redwood City" over the intercom as we pulled in. I was going to let her."

I looked around for the mysterious "he" the Conductor-Type was talking about.

"He came running up and just started saying "That's not allowed. That's not allowed.""

I still didn't know who he was talking about.

"He and I haven't been getting along very well today. He's been on since 5:30 this morning and we've had a long day of it."

Ah. Another Conductor-Type. One who doesn't want kids playing with his train, no matter what his co-workers say.

"Well," I said, "maybe he just needs a nap."

Because that's always my answer when presented with afternoon grumpiness.

Two Conductor-Types both alike in dignity,

on middling-to-fair Caltrain where we lay our scene,

From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,

Where civil-servant blood makes civil-servant hands unclean.

From forth the fatal opinions of these two foes

A single frustrated child takes her grief.

And my Conductor-Type friend never once asked to see the ticket I had in my pocket. Any day now I'm going to stop buying them.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"My Beautiful Mommy"...half-hoax, half Newsweek failure of integrity

Over at Making Light Teresa Nielsen Hayden has looked into the plastic surgery book and Newsweek's story about it.

Turns out, she discovered that the book is from a vanity publisher. That is, it was self-published by the author. There were no editors making a decision about how to best make a buck. At least, not any editors who didn't work at Newsweek.

Shame shame, double shame, Newsweek. Now I know your girlfriend's name. And she dumped you for being stupid and manipulative.

"My Beautiful Mommy"'s not what you think

David Pescovitz over at Boing Boing has posted a....well, it's not really a link, and it's not really a story. And I don't think it's an ad. It's just something he thought noteworthy. Boing Boing isn't a parents' blog, so I thought I would pull this story over here into the mom-and-dad blogosphere.


This is, apparently, a new book for young children (under 7) to acquaint them with the plastic surgery procedures that their moms (why not dads, dude?) might elect to have.

A quote from a Newsweek article about it that David uses reads:

"My Beautiful Mommy" is aimed at kids ages four to seven and features a plastic surgeon named Dr. Michael (a musclebound superhero type) and a girl whose mother gets a tummy tuck, a nose job and breast implants. Before her surgery the mom explains that she is getting a smaller tummy: "You see, as I got older, my body stretched and I couldn't fit into my clothes anymore. Dr. Michael is going to help fix that and make me feel better." Mom comes home looking like a slightly bruised Barbie doll with demure bandages on her nose and around her waist.
The text doesn't mention the breast augmentation, but the illustrations intentionally show Mom's breasts to be fuller and higher. "I tried to skirt that issue in the text itself," says Salzhauer. "The tummy lends itself to an easy explanation to the children: extra skin and can't fit into your clothes. The breasts might be a stretch for a six-year-old."

Ok. So I think there are a lot of people who are going to be very upset about this book. I mean, come on. Right? Right? Come on! Should we really be putting the "ok for childhood consumption" stamp on elective surgeries?

I also think that there will be a lot of people who are just fine with this. Cosmetic surgery is a fact of life, and not everyone who gets a tummy tuck or their nose cut off or a rabbit ear grafted onto their head is doing it out of vanity. When we condemn plastic surgery we are condemning vanity, but if the two can be pulled apart in any way (like previously webbed toes) then we need to be very sure that we aren't condemning plastic surgery just because it is associated with some pretty vain people.

And I also think that there will be a lot of people who are excited about this because it will help normalize their own actions. For the vain, this will be like the alcoholic who convinces everyone to go drinking so that he can get hammered without drinking alone. But for the sensible elective surgery patients who have a skin tag or third nipple removed this might help them feel less like a weirdo for having the unusual feature in the first place, which is really the obstacle they have to overcome when admitting that they've undergone an elective procedure.

And I also think I don't know what the hell I think. I thought I could put off having any kind of conversation like this with my daughter for, oh, a couple of decades, until she comes home with the Pantera tattoo and says she wants to get another one that says "I Heart Kip Winger", because she'll be 20, and will have access to irony, as Greg Behrendt would say (check out "Uncool" if you haven't already, folks), and I have to explain at that point why elective cosmetic Tattoo Removal surgery is just awesome. But if this book is out there I might have to have the conversation when she's, oh, five and wants to know why I haven't turned my face into rubberized cement. Or wants to know why I have.

So, although I don't know what I think about this book, I do know that I hate the author. Because I want to procrastinate on conversations like this, and he's just not helping. To that guy, I say: "I haet u so hrd."

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Pretty Good Saturday

I'm going to grow sentimental here for a moment. Pardon my sappy-bastardness.

Saturday morning we woke up and I made pancakes from scratch. It turns out all you need for pancakes from scratch is flour, baking powder (not soda), salt, maybe sugar, and some milk for mixin'. After pancakes I was given permission by my girls, one of whom took a nap and the other of whom did lawyer stuff (you figure out which; and boy are those big corporations sorry they messed with Erin last week) to watch the Red Wings duct tape the Predators to their lockers.

Once the hockey game was over we piled into the car and drove for an hour down to the beach at Santa Cruz. It was gorgeous and 92 degrees, and we rode on the Cavetrain ride and let Erin play in the sand.

Well. "Play in" may not be correct. "Eat" might be more honest.


I also saw #3 on my list of "Things I didn't want to see in Santa Cruz today": A mostly naked fat dude in a tiny cowboy hat with a plastic sword playing "Dance Dance Revolution".


The purpose of the trip wasn't merely to enjoy the sun and the beach (and mostly naked fat dudes in tiny cowboy hats with plastic swords playing "Dance Dance Revolution"). Every six weeks or so, ever since Mother's Day, we've taken the trip down to Santa Cruz in order to climb into one of those photo-booths and snap some black-and-white shots of our little family as we age. Erin's first birthday is coming up, so this Saturday marked the completion of our year-long photo project. There are lots of photo-booths around, much closer than Santa Cruz, but we're nothing if not creatures of sentimental habit, so we've made the same trip for a year.

Here is a picture of all of those pictures, including one of just Emily and I before Erin was even a hint:


Here's a link if you want a closer look.

After our photo-ing was completed we had dinner at a Greek restaurant we've been going to the last few times we've made the trip. They have a deceptively garlicky tzatziki, and we always forget until we're in the car later and in desperate need of gum. Well, Emily will tell you that I am the one who forgets and is in desperate need of gum. And she wouldn't be lying.

We drove home on the 1, up the coast, having been stymied in our attempt to go back through the mountains earlier. It was dark and quiet, and we passed beach after beach, and a lighthouse on the peninsula jutting out into the ocean.

Home finally, and exhausted, Emily lay down with Erin on her chest. And Erin, her wiggly energy dissipated through hours sand-eating and posing for the camera, passed out, snoring gently under Emily's chin.  It's been a long time since she has done that.

Since the fourth picture from the right, I think.

Five Classes

Alright. I've been tagged for a meme (I've been tagged for two, actually, but one at a time folks) and since I want all my new friends to keep playing with me after school I'm going to suck it up and do it. This one is from Mandy, and it's Five Classes You Wish They'd Taught In School.

  1. How to write inspired blog posts so that I do not have to rely on memes for content. This one should be self-explanatory.
  2. How to fill out brackets for March Madness pools.
  3. How to workout at the gym so that I want to keep working out at the gym.
  4. How to be a dad in a mom's world.
  5. How to install central air in a rented apartment on the second floor of a cheap building that gets sunlight but no ventilation.

I'm uninspired, depressed about finishing last in the March Madness pool, feeling lazy, feeling alienated, and hot.

So, I have to tag somebody (5 somebodies, I suppose) so:

  1. Carmen
  2. Chag
  3. Faith
  4. Mumma Boo
  5. Sci-Fi Dad

You're It.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Free Range Kids

My first day at Erin's Day One playgroup was weird, for many reasons. That was six months ago, and everyone has adjusted very well and been really friendly and I love bringing Erin to that group every week.

But one thing that hasn't changed in the six months that I've been surrounded by Peninsula moms is the feeling that OmigodI'msuchabadparenthowcouldIletherdothat?

Because from Erin's first day at the playgroup I've been internalizing all of the worries, fears, and paranoias of the moms I talk to. Some are afraid of vaccines; some are afraid of milk; some are afraid of the sun; some are afraid of water; some are afraid of the ground; some are afraid of cars; some are afraid of daycares; some are afraid of dads; some are afraid of moms; some are afraid of plastic; some are afraid of glass; some are afraid of wood; some are afraid of formula; some are afraid of outlets; some are afraid of drawers; some are afraid of cats; some are afraid of sleeping; some are afraid of spiders; some are afraid of sponges; some are afraid of sugar; some are afraid of choking.

From day one, at Day One, I've been bombarded with these fears about the things that are going to hurt, make ill, stunt, retard, or kill my daughter. I'm sure everyone reading this can tell me the same kind of story. And I'm equally sure that you are all perpetrators of at least one crazy fear that you are convinced is 'just-sensible-and-who-wouldn't-want-to-....' blah blah blah. I know I have my own crazy fears; and I know that I would never be able to identify them because whatever they are just seem so sensible to me.

But very early on I adopted a very relaxed attitude toward safety. Because at least one of my crazy-that-I-believe-sensible fears is that I will go crazy and not be able to raise my daughter, I've decided to not go crazy with fear about this stuff.

(Old codger voice): "Back in my day, we used to shave with chainsaws in the snow and eat thumbtacks for breakfast." It's no lie that something has changed in child-rearing, and I'm afraid that what's changed with the constant media reports of children going missing, and people doing disgusting things, and new bacteria and illnesses popping up in our attention, and autism and everything else, is that we've learned the wrong kinds of lessons. We've learned that the best thing for our children is to be constantly vigilant against everything, because we can't bear the thought of slipping and being the family on television saying "We never thought it would happen to us." But that's an over-reaction. That will drive us crazy, and not make our kids any safer, or healthier.

I wonder if our vigilance has done anything to reduce the kinds of things that can go wrong with kids. I doubt it.

And Lenore Skenazy at Free Range Kids has the same doubts. "Isn't New York as safe now as it was in 1963?" she wondered. So she let her 9 year old son find his way home using a subway map, some money, and some quarters for the telephone in case he needed it. Sure there are lots of things to worry about, but the only relevant thing that's really changed in New York in the last 45 years is that parents think about this stuff all the time. Parents are their own crazy-makers. She was on NPR and was bombarded with callers, and also e-mailers, who essentially accused her of child-abuse.

Child abuse? Because there might be, on that particular day, on that particular train, at that particular time, on that particular route, someone who would do something to her son? That kind of worrying is crazy-making, and YES I'm going to sit here and judge those people because this is my blog and I get to say what I want. Also, I'm right, and they're crazy.

Here's how I've put off my own crazy-making when it comes to Erin and her safety:

If, at the end of the day, I haven't stabbed my kid with a fork, I'm doing a pretty good job.

I told this little mantra to the moms at Day One on my first day there. About half of them looked at me like I was the devil. The other half looked at me like I was an idiot: "Who's wife let her husband baby sit today??" I could see them all wondering. The third half (it was a big group that day) looked at me like I was a frickin' genius. An alien genius, but still a genius. Some of these latter moms admitted they would have a really hard time giving up some of their craziness, and I get it. And maybe it's a very dad-type attitude to have. I don't know which of my crazy fears I still have. As I said, they must seem pretty sensible to me. But I appreciated these moms both listening and not acting as though I was a mental defective or a child abuser.

I'm friends still friends with those moms.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Tale of Two Tickets

Part The First

Here on the Peninsula (San Francisco Bay) we have a wonderful ....

Connecting San Francisco to San Jose is an inexpensive...

There's a train.

Erin and I take the train from Menlo Park up to Redwood City for her swimming lessons. Sometimes we walk, but it's about 12 miles roundtrip, and my heels have been mildly bruised for a little while now so I've laid off the long walks for the forseeable future. The CalTrain station in Menlo Park is only about a mile away, so today I loaded Erin up in her backpack and headed off to swimming.

(A brief aside for those who have been playing our game: Swimming Mom was at swimming today after missing Tuesday. My conscience was really doing a number on me about not knowing her name and thereby publicly humiliating myself by revealing this fact, so as soon as I saw her I apologized, explained my behaviour as best I could, and asked for her name. She gave me a name, which I will assume is genuinely hers, and she invited Erin and me over for a playdate sometime next week. So as far as I know she doesn't think too badly of me for my blunder.)

So, on the train, which costs about $8 roundtrip when we take it because even though we only go 1 stop we cross a zone line, I overheard the following conversation:

    Conductor-type 1, standing in the loading area of the car: "Did you see him?"
    Conductor-type 2, just coming into the loading area of the car from the seating area of the car: "Yeah. What are we going to do?"
    CT1: "Just let him ride. Next Thursday we'll stop in San Mateo, chase him off, and let him wait an hour for the next train."
    CT2: "What did he try to give you?"
    CT1: "Nothing. He tried to B.S. me and didn't even try to show me anything. I've already arranged with the driver to do a special stop in San Mateo next week."

What the "guy" in question had failed to do was purchase a ticket. This happens sometimes (probably a lot on CalTrain), and it sometimes works. The CalTrain conductor-types don't always come through the cars between your boarding station and your de-boarding station to check tickets. I think they've only done it once between my station and Redwood City.

But I always buy the stupid roundtrip ticket anyway. Because I'm paranoid about something just like the above situation happening to me. Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't really out to get you.

And these conductor-types were going to let this guy, who had already earned a fine and a boot for the day, sit comfortably today so that he would try it again next week. Rather than enforce the CalTrain policy as it exists (boot the guy, fine him, etc...) they were going to also ENTRAP & SPITE him. Out of boredom, pique, and some petty vindictiveness.

They separated to check tickets in the cars adjacent to the boarding area where I was standing. And I now have a tip for the mystery guy who will be very very unhappy and very very late next Thursday.

Always carry one of these with you on the train:

Both conductor-types were staring at this little girl of mine whenever they could. And sure enough when they started checking for tickets they just gave me a nod and walked on by.

Part The Second

After swimming Erin seemed almost ready for a nap. And I thought, "Today might be the day we go back to the movies, and she actually lets me watch one!" So I raced to get to the theater before the next showing of Leatherheads with Miss Pettigrew as a backup (because I've paid to get in twice now and still not seen more than 10 minutes of it). I asked the guy selling tickets if there was anyone in either of those theaters, and yes. Lots of them.

Sigh. Based on the last couple of attempts at movie watching with Erin she probably wasn't going to be totally silent for the whole movie. And I didn't want to have to walk out again. But I really just wanted to sit in the quiet for a couple of hours zoning out, and if I left to go home it would still take another hour to get home and get Erin in her crib for a very late nap.

And then I saw that Nim's Island was showing in a few minutes. Kids' movie. Probably dumb. But it would be something, and since it was a kids' movie Erin probably wouldn't even be the babbliest person there.

So I bought a ticket, got a drink from concessions (but no popcorn, because popcorn does not help with the abs) readied a bottle for Erin, and sat her down in the backpack on the chair next to me.

Erin's Movie Review: "Nim's Island had some great previews, guys. There were bouncing things, and I'm pretty sure I saw a duck. And then, I don't know what happened between the previews and the credits, because I was pretty sleepy guys. I give it two "da's". But only because there was a seal that I saw a couple of times at the end. Bye-bye guys."

Yeah. She slept through the entire frickin' thing.

So, looking back on my day, and it's Tale of Two Tickets, I realize in my perfect hindsight that I needn't have purchased either ticket. I could have free-ridden the train, and I could have seen whatever the hell I wanted to, because this girl of mine

is my very own E-ticket.*

*Here's a fun game: figure out the 3 different ways in which I could mean "E-ticket" here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Erin Learned How to Type

q2EW. YHNBG VGmjjzuezh z333333x

I did say "type" and not "spell".

She also figured out how to indent and change the font colour, apparently.

All I've learned today is that I am on a strange mailing list. Because Victoria's Secret sent me an offer for a free cotton panty* plus $10 off any bra!.

I think my abs would look awesome framed by a new bra and panty.

For those who missed it, I now have Ryan Reynolds abs. I've been to the gym two days in a row, and now I could easily be a body double for him if he does a prequel to "Just Friends".

Erin has also surprised me a couple of times in the last day or so. Out of the blue I asked her where her bear was, and she picked him up right away. I don't remember drilling the "bear" concept into her like I've done with "yellow" and "banana" and "piggy" and "daddy", but she picked it up anyway. Same with "hair". I only remember showing her what hair was once, and that was about a week ago. But sure enough when I asked her where her hair was she grabbed a handful of it to show me.

I love this kid.


And yes, that is a picture of her standing on a small table. She figured out how to remain standing a few days ago and in a brilliant moment of under-protective fathering I stood her up on the table and snapped a picture from a few feet away, hoping that she wouldn't suddenly forget how to stand and end up doing a nosedive over the edge.

I also threw her into the pool yesterday.

Am I good at this job or what?

* I actually had to go back and reread this part because I was sure the card said "pair of panties", but it says "free panty". I thought they always came in pairs. Maybe because I'm a guy they're only going to give me half of a pair of panties.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Mommy Politics...Holy crap, help help help, I'm trapped in a less mature version of "Mean Girls"!

I had an awesome day today. I took Erin to a gym in Palo Alto called "Vivre", which has a childcare center. I felt absolutely no guilt whatsoever about leaving Erin in their hands so I could go work out for an hour. It was great; and now I am ripped. I have Ryan Reynolds abs now. I swear.

After the workout I met up with a mom-friend for lunch. After lunch we met up with another mom-friend and went wandering around Palo Alto. I went into a bead shop. Yeah. Beads. I don't get it.

After the bead shop we went to a yoghurt place called "Fraiche" and sat outside to enjoy our all-natural suburban chick-dessert. I like the yoghurt. It's also across from the botox place where I'm going to have my crow's feet taken care of after my next pap smear.

While we were sitting outside a friend of mine from Erin's swimming class walked by. I'll call her Swimming Mom, because, well, even though I've known her for 7 months I have no idea what her name is. It's gone on much too long for me to ask her now, especially since she clearly knows my name.

Swimming mom said "Hey, fancy seeing you here!" with a big smile, and I was glad to see her. And I was also glad for the opportunity to do the ol' "Introduce the people you are with to the person whose name you don't know so that she will introduce herself and you will finally learn her name" thing. So, I said "This is S and C." (Pause)

Oops. Nothing. Okay, the pause has gone on a little too long now...."So, are you here at "Fraiche"?" I asked, hoping to cover my obvious blunder. Goddammit.

"No, no, I was over at (someplace) looking at frames."

Then Swimming Mom and S and C had a conversation I mostly didn't listen to while I wrangled a suddenly spazzy Erin out of her backpack and tried to give her a bottle. They spoke for a couple of minutes about interior design and baby weights, and I chimed in whenever I could take my attention off of Spazzy McSpazzerton. After a few minutes Swimming Mom confirmed that she would see me at swimming tomorrow and she left.

How nice. Two of my separate mommy worlds coming together in a very random way. Maybe we can all have a big party and I'll be the dad and they can all talk about n*pples and v*ginas while I fix their cars.

After Swimming Mom left, S turns to C and says something like "Oh my god." To which C replies "I know. What a bitch."


What the hell?

I was there for that conversation, right? What could have possibly happened?

Apparently Swimming Mom and S were engaged in a pissing contest: "Oh, who is your designer?" "Well you wouldn't know him, I'm sure (because I'm too rich to use someone who isn't exclusive)"..."Well, I'm a designer...try me", "His name is (blah blah blah)"..."Never heard of him (because I'm legit and your guy sounds like a nobody)." The baby weight conversation was equally laden, I'm assured by the ladies. And there was also a Prada flash, so that everyone could be certain who had the most expensive bag.

After I had all this obvious subtext explained to me by C, I expressed my understanding with "What??"

Guys, I think, are much more open about this stuff. I keep thinking about the scene in "Dazed and Confused" where Wooderson is showing off his car to the greaser Clint, who remarks that he's sure he saw the ad for the engine in a comic book: "Two ninety five, right next to the sea monkeys."

Ok, so maybe there's no universal truth about how men differ from women in the jockeying that goes on. But here's a universal truth:

I had no idea what was going on around me, and I'm kind of glad of it.

After, I half-mockingly asked C: "What was the pissing contest about? Is it a monied thing? Was it me?"

To which she replied: "I don't think it's about money. Girls are like this. But yeah, she was pissing on you, marking her territory."

Can you imagine a better day? I mean, I had a whole hour to myself. That was awesome.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

They can't all be winners.

So, I managed to thoroughly embarass myself over on the Parent Bloggers' March Madness Pool on CBS Sports that Chag put together. I managed to barely squeeze out more points than the guy who didn't fill in his brackets. But, I was picking teams fairly randomly, never having paid attention to basketball. Like. Ever. Since this was a chance to do something online-bloggy-parenty I gave it a shot.

However, tonight I believe I've redeemed myself. Today was the end of the NHL regular season, and not only did my favourite team (The Detroit Red Wings) finish first overall during the regular season, but my Fantasy team on NHL.Com in the, um, "Star Wars" league won the championship, defeating the team that has plagued me all year. I drafted this team at the beginning of the NHL season, and they pulled through for me.

So, two first time Fantasy Sports attempts, one a failure, and the other an unmitigated success.

The reason why I won the pool? My team name: The Weiner Dogs.

When Erin was about 5 months old we took her to her first county fair, a very lame excuse for a fair in San Mateo County. At this fair I won for Erin her first ever cheap-ass carney toys: Weiner Dog and Turtle. They are both plush disposa-toys, but she loves them, and I love to see her play with them. That was in August, and the draft happened in September, so The Weiner Dogs or The Turtles were obvious choices for team names.

Here is Erin with Weiner Dog and Turtle just seconds after I won them for her; if you sniff closely you can still detect that subtle hint of 20-day-unwashed-carney.

Erin's Weiner Dogs: 2007 Champions of the Star Wars Fantasy Hockey League on NHL.Com.

Go Red Wings!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

This one is going to Parent Hacks...Doh!

So, I was making some pasta for dinner tonight.

And next to the jar of spaghetti sauce I was about to use I noticed the remnants of our baby food days. Squash. Carrots. Garden Vegetables. All of those lovely little packets that Erin had decided she was never ever ever going to eat from again.

Pasta. Baby food. Pasta. Baby food.

Oh my god. (Forehead Slap!)

Use. The. Baby. Food. As. A. Pasta. Sauce. Dumbass.

One of the problems with tomato sauce as a coating for pasta for Erin is that she likes to smear it all over hear face, hair, and arms, and then gets it in her eyes. It's a little acidic, so this is not fun for anyone. The baby food, however, has a long history with us of being just fine to smear everywhere.


It doesn't look that great:


But she didn't really care:


And then I said "This is totally going in to Parent Hacks."

And then I thought "Come on. Somebody must have sent this in before. It's too obvious. I mean, the baby food was right next to the pasta sauce; someone else was bound to have seen that." (Because everyone stores their baby food and pasta sauce on the same shelf, like I do.)

So I looked on the Parent Hacks site and did a search. And sure enough, I found one. A nearly identical hack.

Sent in by Kittenpie. Like, 2 years ago.


Come on! Let me have one, Universe!

How small is this blog-verse, anyway?

I am moving in some pretty big circles now!

I couple of weeks ago I left a comment on a Wall Street Journal blog. It was a comment about housework or something. Fairly innocuous.

And then a couple of days ago I received the following e-mail:

"Dear [Backpacking Dad]:
I am a director of NHK, Japanese public network television in New York and been researching about Stay-At-Home Dads for our documentary news show. I found you and your web site through Wall Street Journal web site. I understand that you are living in California but I just wonder if you know any unique SAHD, who live in NEW YORK and enjoying and improving their life through paternity.
We would be grateful if you would introduce somebody for our documentary.
[Insert Name Here]

[Insert Name Here]
Program Director
NHK Enterprises America, Inc.
437 Fifth Avenue, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10016
Tel: (###) ###-####
Cellular: (###) ###-####"

I'm really flattered that in his desperation this program director for NHK has happened across this blog; but I'm also pretty new at this stuff myself, and I couldn't offer him much help beyond posting a note at, the board I visit most often. I hope he finds somebody, because it's just cool (if true) that NHK wants to do a piece on SAHDs.

Unlike Brian, "Rebel Dad", Reid, I am not a vocal Dadvocate (that's my word; you can use it, but then you owe me a dollar, except for the guy who posts as DADvocate on boards and blogs. Him I'll send half the money to) but I'd like to think I can help dads, SAHDs in particular, who want to participate. So, if there are any SAHDs reading this who are in NYC and who would like to be interviewed for a Japanese television documentary about parenting and at-home dadness let me know and I'll send your information along to this guy. I don't know anything about him, but the e-mail information appears legit out of NHK.

So, I'll try to use my limited fame (I'm famous with like 3 people) to help the cause.

Next, I'm running for Congress!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Guest Post

If you want to read an unfunny post I've written about bullying, please visit Mom to the Screaming Masses, who has, in her wit, charm, and beauty, permitted me to guest-post while she is at the J&J Baby Camp thing.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008