Archives for the month of: September, 2012

Worm wants to grow up too fast.  I want to revisit my youth.  Using a little fairy dust and internet magic, Worm and I were able to switch places for a day.

It was so much fun!  Some genius invented underwear with a built-in toilet.  I didn’t have to interrupt my cavorting just to pee or poop.  Even when full, it still hugged my body and accentuated my curves.  (I’m not sure why this idea hasn’t caught on for adults.)  It was awesome!  I bounced all over this huge springy pad in one of the bedrooms.  When I got tired from bouncing on it, I could use it to sleep on!  Brilliant!

I drooled on the couch.  I pulled wipes out of a magic box.  Every time I would pull one out, another one would appear in the same exact spot!  I screamed as loud as I could until my throat hurt.  I pulled the pots and pans out of the kitchen drawers and beat them until my arm got tired.  Why these toys were stored in the kitchen, I’ll never know.  I pretended not to listen to anyone and couldn’t find it in my body to stand still and act out some semblance of politeness.  I farted in front of my family a few times.  When I pointed blame at the dogs, we all laughed about it….every…single…time.

I did run into some problems, though.  I couldn’t get food out of the fridge.  The door was too heavy.  I wasn’t allowed to take the car keys and go for a drive.  I couldn’t go swimming in the pool by myself.  I just wanted to be left alone for a few minutes, but privacy wasn’t allowed.  I tried to hide in the nooks and crannies of the house, but seeing as how I wasn’t strong enough to move any furniture or climb up the bookcase, I stood there as still as possible in plain sight and willed myself to be invisible.  It worked about half the time…I think.  My bike was too big and I had trouble chewing the skin off of the grapes.  Why is the TV remote so darn big?  I couldn’t even hold it with one hand.  I did try to rub two of them together to see if I could make fire, but they got taken away before I could set them ablaze.  Being so close to the ground, the air heavily reeked of feet and dog butts.  And worst of all, I had to be in bed by 7:30pm.

It’s a good thing that after the stroke of midnight I will be back to my old, old self.

We are the September 25th ManBabies photo!  You can also vote for us on the website if you like!

Worm, Be Gentle! You Don’t Know Your Own Strength!

Related Links:

ManBabies.com – If you’re up for a good laugh, check out some of these photos!

This is our second convertible car seat.  We reviewed the Britax Marathon 70 a few months ago.  The Britax spends its life in the wife’s car and since the Britax (and most convertible types of car seat) isn’t easily removable, we had to buy another convertible car seat for my truck.  Wanting to try something a little different, we did some homework and came up with the Safety 1st Complete Air 65.

Part of this review will be on the Complete Air 65 alone and some of the review will compare it against the Marathon 70.

One of the nice things about the Complete Air is that the instructions can be kept in a slot behind the car seat.  This makes it easy to find when you forget to figure out how to use some of the features.  A big safety feature of this CA65 is that you can keep your child rear-facing up to 40lbs and 40 inches.  Since crash tests have found children to be safer while rear-facing in an accident, this is a huge plus.  (But, the unfortunate thing is that most parents are eager to have their child forward-facing and won’t use this option…like me.)  I cannot comment on installation of the car seat in a rear-facing position as I have not used that feature.  I’ve read other reviews where people had trouble fitting this seat in a rear-facing position, so borrow someone else’s and do a test fit for your car before purchasing one.  The forward-facing option is recommended for kids 22-65lbs and 34-52 inches tall.

The CA65 is pretty easy to install forward-facing.  I placed my car seat in the center of the back seat of my 1987 Land Cruiser (and it will stay that way probably until #2 shows up in January).  Back in the awesome 80’s, there were no LATCH anchors in the seat and seat belts were for sissies.  (But, then also the speed limit was 55, not 70.)  In my truck, I use the middle lap belt to pass through the forward-facing belt path of the seat and cinch it up tight.  For the tether or top anchorage strap, I also don’t have an anchor that came standard with my car.  But since I do have aftermarket custom anchors bolted in the back of my truck good for 1300 lbs, I use those.  I do NOT use the LATCH connectors that come with the CA65, so I cannot comment on them.  (I will install some LATCH anchors eventually, so this part of the review will be added then.)  But, I do like the fact that Safety 1st have clips built into the car seat that keep the LATCH connectors out of the way if they aren’t being used.

There are two tilt settings in the forward-facing direction.  You cannot adjust these while the convertible seat is still in the car.  You have to remove the seat to change the tilt.  It’s a little annoying, but I guess it’s because if you can adjust the recliner portion of the seat while it’s strapped down, then the car seat is probably not secure enough in your vehicle.

Let’s start with looks.  This car seat looks cool.  I like the colors that are used and the overall shape of the seat.  To me, it’s aesthetically pleasing…and beefy looking, like my truck.  The air protect pads jut out of the seat like Mickey Mouse ears.  To up the cool factor, I tell passengers that the car seat has built in subwoofers and wait for the ooh’s and ahh’s.  I understand the safety feature of the air protect side impact pads, but it does obstruct the baby’s lateral field of vision.  Since I’m not a fan of car seats that act as baby sensory deprivation chambers, I take some points off here.

The cup holder feature is awesome.  I love it.  The Worm loves to use it too.  He’s almost 18 months old and has recently figured out that his crotch makes a poor juice bottle holder, especially when he wants to kick the front seats.  The only downside is that I wish the bottle holder could be mounted on either side of the car seat.

The 5-point harness fits nicely.  It’s got enough padding to it for it to be comfortable for Worm.  I think it fits more snugly than our Britax Marathon 70.  The harness buckle has 3 settings, which is nice.  The only thing I didn’t like about the harness buckle is the amount of force required to release the buckle tongues.  It takes an inordinate amount of force to unlatch.  Me no likey.

Comfort?  I think so.  Worm loves riding in my truck with the windows down and music blasting.  (What can I say? It’s a classic Land Cruiser and he’s got good taste in vehicles.)  But, I also notice that he looks relaxed in the Safety 1st vs. the Britax (Marathon 70).  Even my wife noticed how happy he is to be in the CA65 seat.  I can’t fit into either of the car seats, so I can’t test each of them out personally.  But, if I were to use my powers of observation, I’d put money on the Safety 1st being the more comfortable car seat.  I think part of the reason is that the CA65 seems like it has more shoulder room than the Marathon 70.  Maybe it’s the extra padding that the Marathon comes with.  I don’t know.  Just look at him in the picture below.

Hanging Loose Like the Velcro Straps on My Kicks

Cleaning?  The seat pad is removable and washable.  But, the air protect pads (Mickey Mouse ears) are not removable nor washable.  So, if your child vomits all over the sides of this seat, I foresee a lot of stinky car rides for you.  So make sure your kids vomit on the washable portion of the seat.  (I sprayed the entire car seat with waterproof fabric spray, just to mitigate some damage in case of liquid spillage.)

In the grand scheme of things, I’m really looking for a safe car seat to lug around my progeny and get them through minor to major car accidents safely.  That’s the bottom line.  Could I say that our CA65 is safer than our Britax?  No.  Nor could I say the other way around is true either.  But, I’m comfortable in what I see and how our car seat is designed.

The Safety 1st Complete Air 65 is a great seat and has plenty of features to keep us parents happy and it seems to have enough features to keep our child happy too.

Note that this is going to be an ongoing review as we get more and more usage out of the Complete Air 65.

———-

Overall Rating:  9 Worms

Ease of Use: 9 Worms  (The harness buckle kept me from giving it a 10.)

Performance:  8 Worms

Features:  9 Worms

Durability:  8 Worms  (It’s still early, so this rating will get modified as we use the CA65 more and more.)

Manliness:  9 Worms

Retail Price:  $189.99

———-

Pros:

Cup holder.  Easy to install (in my truck).  Plenty of room for child.  Approved for in-flight airplane usage. Can hold up to 65 lb child.  LATCH and instruction storage on seat when not using.

Cons:

That little red harness buckle press button is too hard to press.  The seat’s large size may be a problem in narrow cars.

Things I would modify:

Make a softer push button in the harness buckle.  Have a tilt or rotate setting to turn car seat for getting baby out of vehicle easier.  Make cup holder mount on either side of car seat.

Where to find:

http://www.safety1st.com/usa/eng/Products/Travel/Car-Seats/Convertible-Car-Seats/Details/2671-CC044ARV-Complete-Air-65-Convertible-Car-Seat

…Slackjawed that these naive ladies had probably never seen unadulterated food in their lives, I couldn’t even manage a sarcastic response.  I muttered “It’s because the apples are real.  They’re not genetically modified like the bland softball-sized ones you see in the supermarket.”

“Oh!” before a bushel of giggles filled the fresh air.  They scampered away and disappeared into the orchard.

So the 2012 apple season in Julian, California has begun.  And it’s bringing all of the urbanites out of the concrete jungle.  Only about an hour or so outside of San Diego, Julian is a cozy little mountain town nestled in the Cuyamaca range.  It is a nice little getaway from the hustle of city life, especially in the fall.

There are some 10 apple orchards (about 5 are the u-pick style) in and around Julian.  We picked (get it, “picked”?) the Raven Hill Orchard (RHO) because of an article I saw on a San Diego Travels webpage here.  I read about Patrick Brady, orchard owner as well as sculpturist.  My  curiosity piqued at the article’s phrase “quite a character to behold”, and believing that artists infuse passion and joy into life, I figured his orchard would exhibit the same sentiment.  I love fascinating places and intriguing people, but memorable moments happen when both coincide.  I couldn’t wait to see what our first visit to an apple orchard would bring.

We arrive at the front gate at 10am.  Greeted by a sign bearing the politically correct translation of “Use your head for something other than a hat rack.  If you couldn’t tell, you’re not in your comfy, cozy padded cell where you can hurt nothing more than your own feelings.  It’s the outdoors.  Everything here is 3-dimensional and may bite.”, we enter.

How dangerous can picking apples be? Newton discovered gravity in a place like this…

Inside we see the man, the myth, the keeper of the apples, Patrick Brady.  Donning a black leather hat, camo pants, and a lion’s mane of hair, he waves us in.  All I can say is, if there is a ‘most interesting man in Julian’, we just found him.

“Health starts here!” as he points to the ground in front of us.

At $10 a bag, it’s definitely cheaper than a visit to the pharmacy.  With a smile, Steph asks for 3 bags of health.  That’s one bag for each of us!  (I don’t think Worm can eat a whole bag of apples by himself.  But since he is not typically known to share, I’ll probably snake an apple or two from his bag every day.  It’s not like he can count either!)

We wander down the gaps between the trees, stopping to inspect the apples and take in the warm breeze of the morning.

Steph, being the apple connoisseur, showed Worm and I how to pick the apples. Women just know these things!  It’s built into their DNA!  (She didn’t believe killing the apples with our bow and arrows set was necessary.)

Guys, be gentle. Ripe apples will easily detach from the tree. Don’t take the part with the leaves!

Pretty soon, Worm and I got into the spirit and gently plucked a few ripe ones for our respective stashes.  Since I have the luxury of being tall (extremely tall for Southern California), I was able to get to the apples that lesser mortals couldn’t reach.  Lucky for us, the orchard was chock full of fruit for everyone.  In fact, our whole family filled up our bags before we made it to some of the other apple varieties.  (The Raven Hill Orchard grows 7 apple types:  Empire, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Gravenstein, Jonathan, and Pippin)  Although the picking season runs from September to late October, it’s best to go before the apples have been totally picked through.  Otherwise, you’ll be doing your apple picking at one of the local markets.

It’s a Good Thing We Are Tall, Huh Dad?

After a nice half hour among the fruit trees, we head back to the entrance to pay for our apples.  We get a chance to talk a little bit with Patrick, the owner.  He’s definitely a straight-shooting, no-frills type of guy.  A gently forceful and honest type that will look you directly in the eyes when he speaks.  We chat on different topics centered around health in America, etc.  An hour later, his lovely wife comes down for a visit and we get to meet his 3 month old twin babies.  The entire day was enjoyable, interesting, and wonderful.  After a visit to downtown Julian for some pie and cider, I can’t say that we could have had a more perfect day.

Hanging Out With Patrick at Raven Hill Orchard

Support local farmers and growers!

Related Links:

Raven Hill Orchard Facebook Page

Picking Apples Raven Hill Orchard

Patrick Brady – Man of All Seasons

Julian, California Webpage

We’ve given up on show business (for now).  Hollywood is a tough act to crack into and we’ve faced rejection one too many times.  (It  was just one time.  We have fragile egos to mend!) So, I’ve been looking for other ways to exploit showcase the Worm and his burgeoning talents.

Enter the Infant Development Study!  This study is currently being held in San Diego (California), Montreal (Canada, not Wisconsin), and Geneva (Switzerland, not Illinois).  If you live near any one of these cities and wish to participate, click the link above or at the bottom of the page.

The IDS has now added my son, Gavin, aka #6.022 x 10^23, into their child development program where he will be tested in the area of language development every 6 months until he turns 4 years old and is ready for school.

Coffee and creampuffs now! Otherwise, it’s too early for this crap!

Of course, I saw right through the smoke and mirrors and wittingly uncovered a baby IQ test!  My anxiety shot through the roof as I wondered:  Is Worm learning at a normal rate?  Is he below average?  Why does he grunt so much?  What if his intelligence score is too low?  Am I talking to him enough?  Do I E-NUN-CI-ATE or do I mumble?  Is that why he can’t understand English?  Is social services going to take away my little ape man because I haven’t taught him enough words?  Am I a roadblock to his learning capability?

When I arrived at the Child Development Lab at the San Diego State University, I was mesmerized by the toys and bright colors of the room and my anxiety quickly subsided.  Worm was working the ‘ignorance is bliss’ angle.  He had no idea what was going on, save for the fact that there were pretty women surrounding and smiling at him.  We both looked at each other and knew that the only way things could get better was if they had Goonies on the TV and let us put our feet on the couch.

The main test had Worm sitting on my lap in front of a touch screen computer (which he doesn’t have at home).  He was shown two objects and was told to “Touch the ….”.  If he touched the correct object, the screen would repeat the word and move on to the next two pictured objects.  If he touched the incorrect object, his parent would get an electric charge (akin to that of a wet tongue on a 9V battery) from the chair.  By the end of the testing, the room smelled like fried porkskin and I lost some butt hair.  (Ok, the last part wasn’t real.  But, if these were the consequences, how many more parents do you think would become involved in their child’s education?)

The experiment study didn’t take Worm away from me (even though the whole time he forgot I was in the room with him), stick him in a cage with chimps, or give him an opportunity to go home with new parents.  I asked if there was a pill that could expand Worm’s brain function like in the movie Limitless, but they looked at me as if I should stop procreating before I pass on my stupidity.  (It’s too late!  We’ve got another baby on the way!)

Gators! I love the Gators! They’re all over my bedroom wall!

All in all, it was a great experience and the team that worked with Worm was warm and friendly.  On top of letting us hang out for an hour, they gave Worm a Target gift card for $25 and I got a cool squeaky wind-up racecar!  Worm chewed on his gift card and I played with my new racecar for the entire drive home!  (Can you say, awesome!)

The study is looking for more parents with kids between 14 and 17 months old.  Every visit takes about 60 minutes (90 minutes if your kid is a PITA) and you get something for your time and participation.  Visits to the lab are only every 6 months, so it’s not a huge time commitment.  But, the overall benefit of participation is in helping the study of infant language development all over the world.

Here are some links to get you started:

San Diego State University Infant and Child Development Laboratory

University of California San Diego Cognitive Development Laboratory

It’s the Frightful and Elusive Worm Yeti!

Stay at home dads are being spotted on playgrounds all across America!  Once shunned from society, SAHD sightings have surpassed the Yeti, or Abominable Snowman if they’re the same guy.  (Though, the statistics are marred because some of the grizzly, unkempt SAHDs are occasionally mistaken for Yeti…)  Other SAHDs who have worn disguises for years, are finding increased acceptance.  They have tossed off their wigs and heels and can show their true selves to the public without being ridiculed and emasculated.  We are not ashamed to be SAHD anymore!  (Cue up the music…”It’s Raining Men!  Hallelujah it’s raining men!”)  It’s a new era for us!  You can’t spell millennium without M-E-N!  It’s impossible!  I’ve tried!

A few years back in history (because you can’t go forward), the Women’s Liberation Movement brought more women into the workforce.  Excited (and possibly hysterical) mothers dropped their aprons and hair nets to rush off into the working world.  With the mass exodus from the home, neglected irons melted pants, abandoned ovens burned bread, and worst of all, unsupervised children were left with no one to answer their cries for food and love.

Fortunately, the supersonic hearing and ninja-like instincts of fathers everywhere picked up the distress signals.  What summoned these “ordinary men” to spring out of their office chairs and back towards the home was the selfless desire to save mankind by rescuing the forsaken toddlers and babies of this fine country and investing in their livelihood.  Many fathers cast off their work uniforms exposing tight red underwear (very much unlike Spanx) and a matching red cape (Not terracotta, not chestnut, not fuchsia and certainly not amaranth.  RED!)  These heroes instantly dropped their work lives and flew (at the speed of sound, of course) home to put out the fires that their wives had so carelessly ignited.  Children were scooped up with one hairy powerful hand and soothed by the gentle manliness of the other.  Never before had young ones, families and the entire universe felt so safe.  And it’s getting safer as more fathers are staying home with their children.

Fathers all over the world continue to answer this call to be the noble stay-at-home parent.  So, the next time your workweek lunch break shows you a dad holding a child (or holding a beer, or even holding a child holding a beer), thank him or give him a corn dog or something.  Because it’s your future, the Earth’s future he is looking out for.

In the last ten years SAHDs have doubled, but the percentage of dads that stay at home are still small at 3.4%, according to Boston College Center for Work and Family.  To read an informative blog post that has a good point of view on the SAHD trend, click the article link below.  (Nanny.net also features information on finding a nanny near you, becoming a nanny, and information about nannies in general.)

Related Links:

Are Stay-At-Home Dads on the Rise? – Nanny.Net Blog

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