Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Music that doesn't suck

If you are new to the blog and are wondering why I keep posting with the same title start here.

I saw J Roddy Walston and the Business (one of my all time favorite names) at Lollapalooza 2 years ago at 12:30 in the afternoon.  No expectations at all and they rocked.  The lead singer has a little bit of Jerry Lee Lewis in him.  Enjoy:

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Day 1 is in the books

And I survived...or should I say my kids survived.

I wrote about my New Reality a couple weeks ago and today was the first day of it.  I lost a child for a couple minutes at the Museum of Science and Industry but besides that I would have to say it went pretty well.  I know that there will be rough days but if most are like this I think it will turn out ok.

We started the morning heading to the aforementioned MSI.  The one thing I forgot is that we are in prime Spring Break time.  The museum was packed.  I try and avoid the museums on weekends and this was probably worse than that.  We were already there and the kids were excited so in we went.  We are members of the museum (highly recommend to join one you go to often, usually pays itself off in a couple visits) and sometimes I will just take EJ so she knows what she wants to see.  M loved everything especially the trains and airplanes.  EJ though was especially excited today and was running from exhibit to exhibit with me trying to keep up.  We got to an area where it was a little quieter so I let M get out of the stroller and walk around.  After a couple minutes EJ decided that she wanted to go somewhere else and took off before I could stop her.  Grabbing M and pulling the stroller I chased after but between the time she took off and me wrangling everything for my pursuit a school group started in the same direction.  No sign of EJ...damn(small panic)...keep walking...nope(getting worse)...head back...$#!%...deep breath...look around...standing in the corner is EJ...WHEW!  EJ was a little shook up when I found her so we talked about her running off and how she should stay close and she was great the rest of the day.  Just writing about it now has my heart rate going up.  To end our visit we went to the OMNIMAX for a movie about space junk (EJ picked it).  It was interesting to me.  EJ loved it. M? He fell asleep.  Tickets are part of the membership (another bonus) so it was a no risk event.

M & EJ love airplanes
Next stop home for some lunch (pb&j), naps and a little break for me to get some "adult" stuff done, or so I thought...M went down no problem.  EJ, on the other hand, is finally(?) moving on from needing naps every day and she did not want to sleep. Coloring, board games and hide and seek kept us busy until it was time to make dinner and the return home of my wife.

Overall we had a great day and I am looking forward to doing it again.

Tractors are a must see

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Kids & restaurants

Since we had our first kid, EJ, 3.5 years ago we have gone out to restaurants with our kids.  Saturday I was out with M at a sports bar/restaurant having lunch and watching the NCAA Tournament (or "shoot" as M calls it) and a couple sat down next to me.  M was behaving like he usually does but the woman leaned over and said to me "I don't know how you do it".  I asked her what she was talking about since it could have been a few things and she responded "I mean isn't it tough bringing your kid to a restaurant?"  I told her I had never thought about it since we have always taken our kids to restaurants.  Now that I am home I have had time to think about it...I still don't know what the big deal is but I can try and explain the way my wife and I handle going out with our kids.

1.  Go early - There are usually only other families out when you go at 5pm.  If you want to go out later like 7 or 8...get a babysitter.

2.  Bring snacks/stuff to do - Kids are most likely to melt down between the time you sit down and when the food comes.  Snacks/stuff to do counter the boredom that can take place during that time.

3.  Order quickly - Like to look over the menu for a long time?  Make sure at least you are ordering something for your kids ASAP.  Fruit cups are great to order when you order your drinks.

4.  Be ready to go - You never know when the kids are going to act up.  If they do, leave. We have only had to do this once.  It happens, deal with it and move on.  Orders can be taken to go.

5.  Practice makes perfect - Well, not exactly but the more you take your kids to restaurants the more comfortable they are with it and the easier it gets.  I am not advocating going out every day or every week but don't avoid taking them out either.

6.  Pick the right restaurant -  Fine dining with little ones is probably not the best option but you don't have to eat fast food either.  If in doubt about a place check out their website, yelp or call.

These are just a few tips but probably the most important tip is to remain calm, your kids feed off of you.

TV's showing basketball helped here.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Day in the life in photos

It was me and EJ most of the day and I've seen other blogs do this so here's my take.

8 am - It's cold outside so we start the day with a little indoor scootering and playing board games
10:30 am - Little hipster getting ready to head to the library
11:45 am - Dad forgot to take a picture inside the library so one outside has to do

12 pm - Lunch date (mom responsible for hair)
1:45 pm - Gymnastics
4 pm - Heading to Costco with Mom & Dad
6 pm - Dinner time.  Little man would only eat yogurt .
7:30 pm - Mommy reading some books after tubby and before bed
8 pm - Someone is feeling a little left out
8:30 pm - Finally able to catch some of the tourney

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Music that doesn't suck

This week's edition comes from a cool moment at Vanderbilt University.  Billy Joel was there doing a Q&A and this comes out of it.  Enjoy...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Call me Dad...Let's Leave Mr. Mom in the 80's

I am pretty ok with what people call me, either my full name or a shortened version.  I have had nicknames growing up that while not completely thrilled with them it wasn't that bad and I would go along with whatever it was at the time.  There is one name that I have been called that I do take offense to though, Mr. Mom.

I am not babysitting the kids, they are mine and I am spending time with them.  I am the primary-ish caregiver for our kids but I am not a mom, I am a DAD, DADDY or FATHER.  Mr. Mom was a movie made in 1983, its 2013.  Attitudes and opinions have changed dramatically in various ways over the past 30 years but for some reason calling someone Mr. Mom is still ok.  If the stereotype that women shouldn't be working and be home with the kids is gone then why does the stereotype of men taking care of their kids/house still exist?  I have done laundry, cleaned and cooked long before I became a stay at home dad.  Don't get me wrong, I loved the movie "Mr. Mom" growing up, I always wanted to be a part of the office olympics in the movie (besides the part where he throws it in the end, I would totally go for the win).  I chose this life because I love my kids, enjoy spending time with them and I am lucky enough to have a wife that has a great job/career.

When you see a dad out with his kids don't wonder when the mom is going to show up, in many instances they won't.  We(dads) are capable of taking care of our kids just as well as our counterparts in this crazy trip.  

Friday, March 15, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

The in-laws are coming to town this weekend. I am lucky (or so I'm told) that I have a good relationship with them. Not that I can say anything different since they might read this...No really they are great and more importantly they are great with the kids.  The whole reason they are coming is because my father-in-law's birthday is this weekend and what he wanted was to see the kids.

My in-laws are not Irish but are obsessed with Ireland and everything Irish so we are taking the kids and going to the Irish Cultural Center on Saturday for a family St. Patricks day festival. It should be interesting as the cultural center was highlighted on Conan's show when he did a week run here and Conan counted all the bars in the former school building (6!).  Since my first experience with Gaelic football went so well maybe I can find a team to join while I'm there.

Since I have left out pictures on the last post here are a couple with a little holiday flavor.  Have a safe and happy St. Patrick's day!

M is obsessed with playing ball...

...and sucking his thumb

Thursday, March 14, 2013

New Reality

I have been looking for a new job for awhile now.  My big struggle in finding something has been family related, that is - my wife has a great job and we don't need two people going 100 mph in a career where our kids will suffer.  It has been hard for me to accept...I mean I understand it, but as a man you are supposed to be the "bread winner" and that isn't me right now.  So what can I do that allows me to work and have something without being career committed?  It looks like I have finally found something that will make it work.  It's going to take some adjustment but I think it will be good/fun in the end.  I will be a 3.5/day a week stay at home dad.  I'm excited and a little bit nervous as to how I will adjust to having kids around that much and still keeping my foot in the work/adult world.  The difficult part as a man is when you get the question from someone "What do you do?".  No matter what people say they always take that extra pause when you tell them.  I take my daughter to swimming lessons and gymnastics right now and I am always the only man there.  The women around me all talk to each other but I am avoided like the plague.  Not that I need them to talk to me or acknowledge me but it is a strange dichotomy where it is ok to be a SAHD (stay at home dad) but when you actually come someone who is, it is awkward.

Don't get me wrong.  I am excited to spend so much time with my kids and am really looking forward to the summer with them.  Maybe I need to put myself out there more or try and be different in some way or another.  Any ideas???

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Music that doesn't suck

Yo Yo Ma and bluegrass.  Yes you heard me right Yo Yo Ma, Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer and Stuart Duncan got together and put out a bluegrass album under "The Goat Rodeo Sessions".  This video is from NPR's excellent Tiny Desk Series so you get 3 songs for the price of one.  Enjoy:

Monday, March 11, 2013

Disney pt. 2

The second half of the day...some ups and one dad-fail.

I met up with the kids/wife/S-I-L at the silhouette place which is probably the best deal for a souvenir in the park ($9).  Went on the Teacups and Dumbo rides again.  Made our way back to ToonTown to see Goofy and ride the roller coaster again(!).  Again, the kids were great the whole time.  Our kids are usually pretty good but this was taking it to another level, I was really impressed but yet didn't want to talk about this luck and jinx us.  The car ride was up next and I knew EJ was going to love it since she is obsessed with driving.  At least a year ago she knew that you needed to be 16 to drive because she asked us all the time if she could drive our car.  EJ couldn't reach the pedals but with me pushing the gas she managed to bounce us back and forth throughout the route, she was in heaven.  We took the train to the other side of the park and little did I know they had these robot dinosaurs and other stuff to look at that M absolutely loved on top of the fact that we were on a "choo choo".  

I guess I could give you the play by play of the next couple rides or I could just show you this picture of EJ waiting with her aunt while I am on the carousel with M:

We had dinner and made our way over to the "submarine ride" which was the old 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride that has been converted to Finding Nemo.   The wait wasn't bad and we get on our sub.  I'm holding M and he is looking out the window/dancing/happy.   The sub starts moving and they turn the cabin lights off/turn red interior lights on and he LOSES IT.  Not good.  I'm trying to calm him down and show him some of the stuff out the window and all of the sudden I smell something.  Here is my internal dialogue:

Man what is that smell?....That guy behind me fart or something?  This doesn't smell like M's poop.  Wife/SIL?  (checks diaper finally)...AWWWWW $#!%.

The ride seemed like it was 3 hours long.  EJ liked it though.

We get off the ride get M changed and he seems to have recovered well so we start to go and I am pushing M in one stroller and all day I have strapped him in because he likes to move around.  This time for whatever reason I didn't...M decided he wanted to stand up...I see this and stop the stroller...M goes flying and lands right on his face.  Now this moment would have been bad but as I do this about 35 people right around me yell "OOOOHHHHH" all at once and when I pick M up his nose is gushing blood and he is screaming bloody murder.  DAD FAIL.  I was instantly judged by another 50 or more people as I now have blood on me and anyone that didn't see the fall hear M screaming...awesome.  I get M calmed down and cleaned up after about 5 minutes.  M totally rallied and recovered from it...I don't know how but it must be the magic of Disney.  

At this point it is getting late and I am not sure how much longer the kids will last so we put out the "one more ride" ultimatum.  Dumbo won out and we made it.  I came a skeptic and left impressed.  

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Disney pt. 1

Ok, Disneyland was...Awesome. I was pretty ambivalent about going especially with our kids being so young but I couldn't have been more impressed. My expectation of over the top cheese was nowhere to be found and the kids (and maybe me a little) were giddy and excited all day long.

We drove up on Thursday during the day and stayed in a hotel nearby for our Friday day at the park. The hotel was nothing to write home about but was a 2 room suite that was clean had a pool and didn't cost too much (unlike Disney hotels). We got settled and since our hotel was 2 blocks from the entrance we decided to walk over to get our tickets and wonder around Downtown Disney. NOTE: Tickets to Disneyland are not cheap. One cool thing they do at Disneyland/California Adventure is have the entrances right across from each other and Downtown Disney is on one of the other sides to keep it all in a compact space. Of course we get sucked into the Disney Store and HAVE to buy some Minnie Mouse ears for EJ because she NEEDED them. Oh, and we got a little stuffed mickey for M. At this point I still wasn't feeling Disney... Swimming for me in the kids in a cold pool while the wife and her sister watched(how did I get sucked into that?) then dinner rounded out our day.

Now on to our day at the park...The gates open at 8:30 for Main Street but the whole park doesn't open until 9...we were there at 8:30.  I was indifferent until we walked under the gate and saw Main Street for the first time.  I don't know if they put something in the air or what but I felt like I was 12 again.  I can't even explain how different it feels...

So we instantly saw Minnie and had to jump in the line to get our picture with her.  Now normally my kids sit for about 2 seconds waiting for something until they get antsy.  We waited 15 minutes and the were captivated by watching Minnie the whole time.  They were like that the whole day with everything, waiting for rides, getting food, dealing with the crowds...everything.

EJ & M waiting for Minnie
We rode typical Disney rides (Dumbo, Teacups, It's A Small World) EJ got to meet some princesses (aren't they all the same?).  Soon enough we were in ToonTown walking up to Mickey's house to meet the man(mouse?) himself.  So Disney, brilliantly, use his house as the line to get back to see Mickey so there is a bunch to see, which is pretty neat.  There was no line for us though so we cruised past most of it.  They only let a couple groups in at a time to see Mickey who is standing on a little stage.  Right when we walked in a lady next to me said "oh they have the xxxx Mickey out, exciting!" it sure took my excitement to another level...anyways it was good and we moved on.  Now the best part of ToonTown form me (and EJ) was the roller coaster.  Right when I saw it I knew my goal - to get EJ on it.  I figured the best time would be after we saw Mickey so right when we walked out and she still up from seeing the mouse I made my move...and she bought it.  A short line helped and we were on our way.  Heading up the hill EJ was starting to get nervous about the bar holding us in popping up so I had to hold on to her and the bar.  We made it through the ride with no issues and I successfully converted my first child into liking roller coasters when we rode it again later in the day and she said "Dad, you know those parts when we rode the first time and I was nervous?  I'm not going to be nervous on those this time".

EJ's first roller coaster ride
About this time the kids were ready for a nap so the wife and S-I-L took them back to the hotel and I got to stay and go on the "big kid rides" all by myself.  Now Disney is no Cedar Point or Great America but it has a couple rides that are a little more adventurous and I had the next 2.5 hours to check them out.  Another thing that Disney does right is having a single rider line on some of their rides so you don't have to wait as long in line.  I took full advantage of that and used their fastpass service on some others to make sure I hit all the rides I wanted to without much of a wait.  Score one for Dad!

Ok that's enough of you reading me for one post...I'll write the second half of the day in another post

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Music that doesn't suck

As promised in an ongoing series.  I heard about this band's set at Lollapalooza last year but didn't get the chance to see of my regrets. Enjoy...

Monday, March 4, 2013

Stuck in San Diego

Not that it's a bad thing but we are here another day thanks to the snow storm coming to Chicago. San Diego is a great city for kids. Since arriving late Wednesday night we have had a great time at Disney (recap in another post), went to the children's museum, played Gaelic Football and hung out in Balboa Park. There is no such thing as vacation with kids (or really my wife) it is a trip, you don't get much time to relax (or make blog posts). My wife is already planning out what we will do tomorrow now with the extra day.

So details on our excursions:

New Children's Museum - downtown San Diego - Interesting place, all of the exhibits revolved around trash and how we can reuse/recycle. The kids had fun but some of the exhibits were more art instillation than fun thing for kids to do.

Gaelic Football - my brother-in-law is from Ireland and there are two sports he is mad about, soccer and Gaelic Football. San Diego has a pub league that my b-i-l plays /coaches in and he invited me to play while I was here. I love playing sports and it was fun learning something new. Highlight was me not getting injured as that would have sucked. Our team won and the Guinness at the bar after was good so all around successful outing.

Balboa Park - Awesome park that has a bunch of museums and other stuff in it. Our reason for going was to go to the puppet theater to see the puppet version of the book "The Very Hungry Caterpillar". I fell asleep during the show is the only thing I can say about it... The rest of the park is great with neat architecture and great scenery. It is not just a tourist attraction either. There were a bunch of locals hanging there enjoying the great weather. While we were there we saw some girls walking around hawking Girl Scout cookies and I started dreading when EJ joins up and I have to help with that, ugh.

Oh and we have continued our tour of playgrounds that was started 3 years ago with EJ, seriously. Trust me it is not my idea. If you ever come to SD and want to go to a playground we have probably been to about half of them in San Diego County and can give you tips. Today we drove by about 12 playgrounds to get to the "chosen one". It was a nice park with a great view of Mission Valley but I think I was the only one to notice that.

After being spoiled here with the weather for the past week I really don't want to go back to Chicago. I guess life has to move on though.