Archives for the month of: March, 2012

We’re rolling into one full year with the Worm.  Just like the gnathostomiasis, he’s got teeth.  Unlike the gnathostomiasis though, our Worm doesn’t crawl into humans and devour them from the inside.  (Which could be a useful skill to have in your back pocket.)

We are a little concerned about the fact that he hasn’t cut more than 2 teeth yet.  We haven’t seen more than two teeth in his head for 6 months.  If the folklore is true about connection between teeth and wisdom, it makes sense why Worm kisses the sliding glass door.

The general rule is that babies cut the middle bottom teeth first.  This gives them the ability to bite the fleshy part of your fingertip at feeding time and cause pain.  This happens around 6 months of age.  After that, the baby will cut approximately one tooth a month.  (So, if do the math correctly, our baby should have 6 teeth, which is 4 more than what he’s got.)  As the rule goes, the next two that come through are the two top front teeth.  At this point, baby’s shredding power increases exponentially.  This quickly becomes a hazard if one is not paying attention while feeding a voracious eater.  If you look around, you will find a small percentage of parents waving a hand with only 3 or 4 fingers.  (Learn from their mistakes.  Don’t let this happen to you!)

Even though Gavin’s teeth are way behind his appetite for solid foods, we let him to try to eat things like bread, waffles, apples, papaya, bananas, dog toys, plastic bottles, Jenga blocks, etc.  He’s so curious about everything that we eat.  (Even more interesting is that for a baby who hasn’t seen much cuisine in his short life, he can differentiate food items from non-food items.  It could be a side effect of watching Food Network all day long, but I’m not certain.)  We’re willing to try to feed him almost anything.  Almost.

I think he’s still a few years away from the chomping capability of Cap’n Crunch cereal like his old dad.  But, we’ll get there.  (I warm up with Peanut Butter Crunch and exercise my incisors on Crunch Berries.) He can ruminate on the softer foods until he’s built up his jaw, teeth and gums for this pinnacle of crunchiness.  When the time comes, it will be a crowning (get it?) achievement his old man will be proud of!

A Gummy Grin!

  • Drooling
  • Crankiness and unusual irritability
  • Biting
  • Lack of appetite (because the teeth hurt!)
  • Problems sleeping
In my house, we find the new tooth first and say “Oh, that’s why little so-and-so was acting funny last week.”  It seems we’re always one step behind the baby…figuratively and literally.

It’s time to teach the Worm to swim.  He’s almost a year old now and better parents will tell us we should have started months ago.  Also, it’s time for him to see and play with kids that aren’t over 30 years old and graying.  (I’m talking about my wife here, not me.)  Worm needs to get out and interact like the social butterfly I want him to be.  And what better way to get Daddy & the Worm socialized than at a bikini filled hot tub swimming pool?

Worm’s naturally drawn to water.  Every time he hears the bathtub filling up, he crawls his way over in anticipation that it’s for him.  Once in the tub, he splashes around and giggles like there’s no tomorrow.  He loves water so much, he has no problem wedging himself into the dog dish with the same gusto.  A swimming pool is just like a really large bathtub.  Right?  Well, that’s not quite the way Worm saw it.

We show up to the swimming pool in the afternoon.  Worm slipped into his asset accentuating Speedo-esque baby swim diaper.  (First, I was perplexed about how this diaper was going to absorb pee and poop while underwater.  Then, I came to the realization halfway through the class that the baby swim diaper only keeps chunky stuff from floating to the top of the pool.  Everything else sort of just um…magically vanishes into the water…yeah, vanishes.)

Man, does he look poised and ready to go!

Dad! Look at My Swim Muscles!

When Worm, Grandma and I show up to class a little early, Worm peers around flexing his muscles and ‘scoping the hotties.  (He’s a chip off the old block!)  We’re in luck because we find out there are 4 girls in our swim class and no dudes!  Picking up babes today is going to be like catching fish in a bucket.  So Worm and I primp ourselves to showcase the finest of the male species for the next 30 minutes for these lucky girls.

The Pre-Pool Jitters.

Though, as soon as we hit the water we lost the battle of the sexes.  For almost the entire half-hour class, Worm clung to me like a leech in a swamp.

Did we participate in the leg kicks exercise?  Nope.

Did we participate in back floating exercise?  Nope.

Did we participate in putting floating toys in the bucket?  Maybe once.

Did we participate in screaming, crying, and clinging?  A resounding yes!

Worm Taking His Mind Off of the Water For A Split Second.

Most children are curious about other children.  Worm didn’t look at any of them after he got into the pool.  He was too busy signaling for Grandma to dive in and rescue him from this water torture device.  Of course, I couldn’t make eye contact with any of the parents either.  Embarrassed, my excuse was that I was babysitting my friend’s kid for the afternoon.  “See?  He doesn’t really look like me.  Any resemblance is probably because we spend a lot of time together.  It’s purely coincidental.” I said.

You know how you get that strange feeling like every mom is watching you and dissecting your every move, saying to themselves “I would never do that with my child!” or “That baby’s a mess from poor parenting!”  That’s how I felt today during the swim lesson.  I was wishing I could just swim over to my gymbag and pour a double shot of Anniversario to take the edge off but I think the Boys and Girls club frowns upon such behavior. If there were any other guys there besides us, I’d get someone to ease our pain and break the ice with a story or joke.  There was none of that from the moms in the pool.  They just half-smiled at us fellas and splashed us with “I bet they’re both peeing in the pool” glances.

A couple of times during the swim class, the instructor tried to pry Worm away from me in hopes that he would forget his fears and paddle about in reckless abandon.  Not a chance.  His screaming only increased a few decibels and in defeat, the instructor handed him back to me.

Should I Make a Break For It While Worm's Not Looking?

So, my kiddo spent the better part of our swim lesson grappling with dad’s slippery body.  A couple of times I thought he would choke me out.  But, we both survived.  Even though a swim lesson wasn’t learned, a life lesson was.

Here are our takeaways from our first swim lesson:

1.  If the pool water is green, don’t dip your head under.  (For Dad)

2.  If you want to make a good impression on the ladies and you don’t know how to swim, wear a fake cast for an excuse to stay out of the pool.  (For Worm)

3.  Moms can be a scary bunch to deal with if you’re a SAHD, so drink heavily before any activity where you’re well outnumbered by them.  (For Dad)

4.  Have excuses ready for when your baby is making a scene.  “Oh, this isn’t my child.” works best.  Other standards are:  “It’s way past his nap time.”  “He’s going through a phase right now.”  “You didn’t see it, but your child slapped mine first.”  “He forgot to take his Xanax and missed his therapy session so his emotions are out of whack right now.”  (For Dad)

Ok, I think We've Tortured You Enough. Let's Go Home.

I guess I should have been better prepared.  But as a stubborn Dad teaching a stubborn Worm…He’s going to learn to swim whether he likes it or not.  We’ll be back on Saturday with a vengeance.

Gavin = 10; Dad = 5

By the way, if you’re in the San Diego area and you are looking for swimming classes to enroll your baby, check out Noonan Family Swim School.  They have locations all over San Diego.

I finally got out of the house!  By myself!  As I said before, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve been able to really mountain bike.  It used to be my favorite way to start the weekend.  For the first time in a long time, the opportunity presented itself.  My lovely wife told me that I could break away this Saturday morning to go ride as long as I was back before breakfast.  She didn’t have to tell me twice.

The View of the Grasslands From Above

I set my alarm for 5:30am and was out the door by 6.  The sun hadn’t even come up by the time I hit the trailhead and I was the second one there.  (The first guy looked like he slept in his car.  Awesome idea!)

There’s something about being on the MTB trails in the early morning…like the lack of people!  The air is fresh, crisp, and unadulterated.  If you’re lucky, you can see rabbits, coyotes, and even deer (like I did today!)  Although if luck broke my arm or leg, I could come across some wildlife I’d rather not see.  Falling lame in the middle of this terrain could quickly turn you from biker to breakfast for SoCal‘s largest land predator, the mountain lion.  I crossed my fingers that I was too skinny for any cougar to waste his time on.  I definitely wasn’t too fast for one.

Ahh, No One Around For Miles

As I rode today, I reminisced about my past.  Years ago, well before baby and wife, I would ride for hours on the weekends and do nothing more important than find my next meal.  Those were the days before I met responsibility.  Obviously, things have changed.   Responsibility and I have every meal together now.  Like the skin on my body, we know each other well.  But, this morning I left the house before responsibility arose.  My reward?  I got to reenact a portion of my previous life for a brief couple of hours.

2 hours alone on my bike was just the ticket for me to recharge and put things in perspective again.  I cleared my head as quickly as the trees blurred past.  Afterwards, I felt like myself again.  But, not like my old self sans responsibility.  Like my new self, complete with obligation and duty.  Because in truth, my previous life that I experienced this morning was a likeness in emotion only.  Nothing more.  I can’t turn back time, nor do I want to.  I love my wife.  I love my son.  I love my commitments and occupation as a husband and a new father.  And I couldn’t wait to get back to them and share a nice family breakfast together.

If you are in the San Diego area and you enjoy nature, the Mission Trails Regional Park is a nice place to visit.  There are tons of hiking, biking and horseback riding to do.  The visitor center is kid friendly and if you’re teaching your little one to mountain bike, the Grasslands part of the park is a great place to start!

For more information about the park, see the link below.

Mission Trails Regional Park

For more information about mountain biking in San Diego:

Mountain Bike Bill’s Website

San Diego Mountain Biking Association

He hates it.

We are the type of people who don’t want to buy our kid the best gear only to find out later he isn’t really interested.  (Yep, we’re cheap bastards.)  When it comes to helmets, I just don’t see how a child, especially a baby, is going to know the difference between an $80 helmet and half a coconut shell.  Since we want Worm to spend more time wearing his helmet than eating it, we opted for a non-food based one (although I’m sure the manufacturer used corn in there somewhere).  Steph found a shiny blue Winnie the Pooh helmet on the clearance shelf at Target.  It didn’t look like it had been used and returned.  It looked new!  Being that the only other option in that Target was a pink Barbie helmet (which obviously would have emasculated our boy), we snatched up the blue Pooh one.  (We didn’t snatch it as in we stole it.  We purchased it…we’re not that cheap!)

The only other thing to do before we went up to the counter was try it on.  We put the helmet on Worm to see if it would fit his noggin.  And this was his response:

Dad, This Helmet Doesn't Match My Shirt!

I think if he would have ripped the helmet off any faster, he would have lost some hair with it.  Since there’s no arguing with the baby, we did the adult thing.  We bought the helmet and went home to torture him with it until he liked it.

On a side note, you should check the link below to find out what the laws are for your child when it comes to helmet wearing in your city or state.  There is no federal law requiring riders to wear helmets, but some cities require helmets for every age.

I think Worm wore this kung fu outfit once before he outgrew it.  I think he looks wise beyond his years with that receding hairline.  Don’t you?

I Kick My Weekend Off With a Fresh Diaper...and You?

Have you ever had someone totally transform the way you look at yourself?  These people are the hidden gems in life.  They usually shock you with their authenticity and timing.  They can be hidden anywhere in society, even in plain sight.  After a chance encounter with them, you’re never the same.

I found my ruby at Supercuts.  While cutting my hair, she told me something that just blew my mind.  First, she asked me how I usually comb my hair.  I replied “I part my hair on the right side and comb all my gray hairs over to the left.  It never feels natural for me to comb it this way even though I’ve been doing it forever.”

Then she said “It’s probably because your cowlick pushes your hair the opposite way.”  So, my hair swirl goes clockwise, which makes my hair naturally part on the left side.  That’s the exact opposite of what I thought was going on back there…

I inferred from her statement that what she really meant was that a grown man with an ounce of common sense should probably know where to part his hair.

Cheers to this wonderful lady, who was so bold to tell me the truth about my own coiffure and resurrecting my faith in humanity.  There have been none so bold before you dear woman (because if there was, I would have been combing my hair the right way years ago!!!)

Even though I had trouble figuring out my own hairy noggin, I can’t help but be happy now.  It’s all because my little Gavin has the same direction swirl as his daddy!  What are the chances?  (I know, it’s 50%.  Don’t burst my bubble.)  As I see it, Worm and I are even more closely related than before!  Now we’re practically twins or something!

It's Not Pretty, But it is a Clockwise Rotation

Combing the Perfect Spiral

Let a valuable lesson be learned here by all.  If you have a friend or family member that has been combing their hair in the opposite direction of the hair whorl, their life is probably a mess like mine was.  Tell them about it and change their future forever.  Be the gem of someone else’s life.

Now that I am styling my hair with its natural flow, my life has also begun to flow much more naturally.  I’ve also noticed the sky is bluer and the grass is greener!  I feel smarter and more mentally clear!

I take it upon myself to not repeat the same mistake on my child.  I will make sure Worm always combs his hair with the grain (until he wants a mohawk)…and even then, I’ll make sure it swirls a little to the right.

Here’s food for thought.  A research scientist named Amar Klar has done research trying to correlate handedness to the direction of the hair spiral.  He believes that there is a gene that connects hair whorl direction with handedness.  If you believe his research data or wish to test it out on your own baby, just look at the hair spiral.  You may be able to predict whether your child is going to be right-handed or left-handed, subsequently amazing your friends and family!  (Although, you could guess right-handed for everyone and be correct 90% of the time.)

Related articles:

Right-Handed? Your Hair Reveals It

Are You Left Handed?  Do You Know Someone Who Is?

Human Handedness and Scalp Hair-Whorl Direction Develop From a Common Genetic Mechanism

I’ve heard that Britax is the Rolls Royce of car seats.  They’re expensive and packed with features (though sadly, none of which include a built-in umbrella). This review is on the 2011 Britax Marathon 70.

Worm’s working towards his first birthday. And with aging, comes growing (for now, it’s more upward than outward). The lankiness he’s developing pushed the limits of his previous car seat. Since Steph nixed my idea of welding extensions and bolting on modifications to his first car seat, we visited our local baby store to purchase the next size up.

Lo and behold, the Britax Marathon 70.

Britax Marathon 70

At around 20 lbs, there are some parents that want their child to face forward in the car. Others wish to keep a child rear-facing for a little longer. (The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all infants and toddlers should ride in a rear facing car seat until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer.) Britax states that a child can be rear-facing in the Marathon 70 from 5 to 40 lbs. For children between 20 and 70 lbs, the child can be forward facing in this car seat. Given this information, the period between 20 and 40 lbs are up to the user’s discretion. We opted for forward facing. We can never have too many sets of eyes on the road ahead.

All baby car seats go through the same rigorous testing. They all meet the same minimum safety requirements to be allowed for public use.  But meeting requirements and exceeding requirements can be at opposite spectrums depending on what is tested.  There are many ways to crash a car and I doubt that any car seat is the best protecting seat in every type of accident.  So, I can crunch crash test data until I’m blue in the face and still never be completely sure of what meeting and exceeding safety requirements fully means.  And I’ll never be sure that one car seat purchase is much better than another.  That being said, I hope I never have to personally see the safety limits of any car seat in my vehicle.

In the Britax Marathon 70, the quality of the build is there. The Marathon 70 is sturdy, but you pay the price in weight and size. This means it is not the type of car seat that you want to travel with (although you may even use it as a toddler airplane seat). It is mainly for installation into one car for long periods of time. There’s no such thing as an extra car seat adapter. It’s a one piece deal, so if you want to move it from one car to another, you have to take out the entire unit.

The Marathon came with press-release latches that easily allowed you to attach the seat to the child safety mounts found in most modern automobiles.  Though, tightening these straps down was a bit of a pain.  The adjusters required a significant amount of finger strength to slide up and down on the strap.  I guess it’s to prevent the straps from coming loose over time. Either way, this amount of effort should not be required to tighten the car seat to the car.

On the flip side, measuring and adjusting the seat to accommodate the baby was convenient. There’s a shoulder strap height adjuster conveniently placed on the car seat back. It only took a slight lifting motion (with one hand) to move.  A click sound ensures that the shoulder straps are locked into place. The crotch harness buckle has two settings so that important body parts are not being squished.

One of my gripes about the Britax is that there are pads for everything.  (Though some people may love this extra padding.)  There are shoulder pads, strap pads and crotch pads to prevent pinching of skin upon buckling the child in.  There’s a “belly” pad under the crotch harness buckle that keeps you from being the reason your baby’s gonads are deformed.  The HUGS chest pads seem to be more of a nuisance to me than a help.  I’m always sliding the pads up or down. His clothes seem to get pulled by the rubber HUGS chest pads, so I’m always moving them out of the way.  I just think that there’s way too much stuff covering the straps on the 5 point harness. If we were going to drive the baby around naked all the time, then I can see the reason for the extra strap padding. But seriously, who does that?

The cover is removable and the recommendation is for it to be handwashed, not machine washed.  The pads can be washed as well.  The people at the baby store seemed to like the aluminum bars on either side of the Marathon 70. They (2 floor salesmen) stated that it was added protection. My thought is that if you are at the point where those aluminum bars are providing protection in a car accident, the accident is most likely fatal.

The instruction booklet is 41 pages long. Did I read all of it? Almost. There are many options to mount the Marathon along with quite a few straps, buckles, and pockets for one to deal with. Installation wasn’t as straightforward as I thought it would be.  But, I appreciate the numerous mounting options since it would allow us to adapt to various makes of cars (like our future yellow Aston Martin).

I look in the rear view mirror at the Worm and can’t help but think he’s riding in extreme comfort.  I hope that as he grows, the seat will continue to accommodate his body well.  That remains to be seen.  With the durable design of the Marathon 70 and the attention to detail, I trust that it’s going to provide an ample amount of safety in case of accident. But, that is one feature I hope I don’t have to use.

Note that this is going to be an ongoing review as we get more and more usage out of the Britax.

———-

Overall Rating:  8 Worms

Ease of Use: 7 Worms  (Some features are easy to use, others are not so easy.)

Performance:  8 Worms

Features:  9 Worms

Durability:  8 Worms  (It’s still early, so this rating will get modified as we use the Marathon more and more.)

Manliness:  8 Worms

Retail Price:  $289.99

———-

Pros:

Latching lower connectors make installing and removing car seat easy. Approved for in-flight airplane usage. Can hold up to 70 lb child.  Comes with infant body pillow.  3 adjustable reclining positions

Cons:

Price.  Adjustable straps are a pain to adjust. Too much padding on the straps. We may never use it up to its 70lb weight limit.  It’s huge size may be a problem in narrow cars.  It’s heavy.  Toxic flame retardants used in material (see below for links).

Things I would modify:

Use non-toxic materials in production.  Have a tilt or rotate setting to turn car seat for getting baby out of vehicle easier.

Where to find:

http://www.britaxusa.com/car-seats/marathon-70

Related links:

http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2011/08/03/kids-car-seat-tests-reveal-chemicals/

http://www.healthystuff.org/

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