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March, 2011 | Everyday Childhood

Archives for March 2011

Kid’s Swimsuits: Pick a Smart Color

It’s March and the weather down here in the desert is warming up, which means we’re [thisclose] to swimming pool season.  Having grown up in a city full of permanent in-ground swimming pools and having water safety beat into our heads throughout my childhood, I’m well aware that “it takes just a few seconds” for a child to drown.

Bathtub accidents and drowned toddlers who were too curious about incidental collections of water in buckets, etc, are tragic accidents.  I worry about the possibility of those accidents to a certain degree, but when it comes to pool safety I am obsessive:  There’s always an adult present.  Always a phone near the pool.  No running on the pool deck.  No diving in the shallow end.  Sunscreen early and often.

But one of the most interesting–and shockingly common sensical–water safety tips I’ve ever heard as a mother is this:  Don’t dress your kids in blue or green swimsuits.  Blue/green is the color of swimming pool water.  Imagine you look away from the pool party long enough to check your Facebook feed on your smart phone.  Junior takes the opportunity to remove his swimmies and then falls silently into the deep end.  It might take a few minutes after that to even realize Junior is missing.  Fluorescent orange swim trunks could make the difference between “critical condition” and D.O.A. as far as I’m concerned.

I don’t mean to suggest that brightly colored bathing suits would save any significant percentage of drowning victims, or that parents who have experienced such a tragedy are in any way responsible for it if their child happened to be dressed in a blue or green suit.  I just mean to suggest that when the stakes are so high, and we’re all about to buy up all the swimsuits that Wal-Mart sells anyway, you might go for the brightly colored suit and leave the marine-hued suits on the rack.  Every little bit counts.

Cassandra can be found on Twitter @aclevergirl. Learn more about her family’s unique challenges and why they have hope for a cure for muscular dystrophy at Byrds for a Cure.

Neer To My Heart

Being a mom (or Dad for that matter) means you have a busy schedule to keep track of. I have a paper calendar in my purse, a desk calendar, alerts on my phone, Google calendar, a grocery list, a to do list… and it goes on and on…

I’m not going to get all salesgirl on you by any means… but I have to tell you about this app I’m now using. While at SXSW in Austin, I was invited to learn about a new app called Neer. Initially, I was skeptical because to be honest… I was all app’ d out. But after I heard the functionality of the app… I was sold.

Raise your hand if you hate going to the grocery store! *raises her hand* Yeah… me too. I either buy way more than I needed to or I forget the key items I went there to purchase in the first place. Neer has amazing “magic location reminders” that allow you to set to-do lists for your most frequented places… like the grocery store! It then sends you an alert when you pull into the parking lot! Don’t forget the toilet paper!

The thing I like most about Neer is that it’s private. I choose the inner circle of friends and family that I want to share my day with. I don’t want my whole social circle to know that I’m at my kid’s school for a meeting with the teacher… but I want my husband to know. And how about this? If I’m running late… my babysitter can check in on my whereabouts and not interrupt my meeting. (Of course I send a courtesy text!)

Neer is a FREE app and it’s a fantastic way to keep families in the loop. To illustrate that… they had YouTube sensations Jorge & Alexa Narvaez sing their song “Home” at their booth at SXSW. I just melted when I heard little Alexa sing this sweet song.

By the way… I wasn’t compensated at all for this post. I just really happen to like the app. Plus this video is as cute as can be! How do you keep your loved ones in the loop?

Under Siege: Adventures of an Occasionally Entrepreneurial Dad

Editor’s note: Welcome back Dave! We’ve missed you! In case you didn’t read Dave’s first post… he’ll be posting here the last Friday of each month for a while. I particularly like this post. It gave me a giggle. Enjoy your weekly dose of dad stalking! xo-Kelly

Or “How to Monetize your Captors and remain Guilt-Free”

I’ve been thinking of ways to monetize the twins.

I know. That sounds horrible, doesn’t it?

I’m not thinking about selling advertising space on their stroller or anything like that… although, wait, that’s a pretty good idea…hang on, let me write that down somewhere… It’s ironic, isn‘t it, how when really you need a pen, you can never find one. Oh well, I’ll hopefully remember the idea later…

So, what was I talking about again?

Monetizing the twins, that’s right…

So, along the way, over the course of the last couple of years, I’ve had many of what I, but few others probably, consider to be brilliant, innovative and definitely marketable ideas. I think it’s been that whole ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ thing and I think the twins really do need onesies that have handles sewn into the back of them.

When Sydney, our oldest daughter, now 5, came along, I treated her like a fragile little bird that if I looked at her wrong, she would wither and crumble…but you soon realize that these kids are resilient and tougher than you might initially think they are. It was in realizing that that I came to the conclusion that the twins could handle “The Grabsies”…that’s what I call my most “wish I could actually produce” idea. Let me explain. Imagine for a moment, that you’re chasing around a toddler, while you’re carrying another toddler, or whatever, in your arms…and how great it would be if you could just reach down and grab the escapee’s ‘handle’ and with a simple lifting motion, they’re back under your control again…”The Grabsie”… a onesie that has a handle sewn into the back, with which you can grab them, pick them up, move them from point to point, while leaving your other hand free to carry your latte, hold the phone, mix a drink, text a friend…or carry another kid. The Grabsie…. No? Seems like such a no-brainer that I’m shocked it hasn’t already been done.

(*note, I will be keeping my eyes open and if ‘The Grabsie’ pops up somewhere after I’ve written this, I will be very disappointed in you.)

So, maybe monetizing the twins isn’t going to take the form of their being my research assistants during a product development project, such as The Grabsie (which I vow to make real!). I think my best shot is finding a way to charge ‘admirers” of the twins when we’re out in the world, based on how they approach us and what, exactly, they say when they meet us. This idea, I can see, has a bit more traction, and much more upside – because we draw a lot of attention, for some reason.

Firstly, it would require us to go places: shopping malls, museums, festivals, etc…really anywhere people gather. That would get us out there, doing stuff, which is always fun. Secondly, it would take the seemingly innocent but very high volume of comments we get as we are out and about and turn them into money…(SFX: Insert Cash Register Sound here.) It was an unfortunate trip to Discount Tire a few weeks ago to get new tires in my car, and the 6 times I heard “You’ve sure got your hands full” from various employees and fellow customers that made me think there’s some potential in this idea.

I’ve been thinking this through a bit, and I’m in the process of affixing prices to specific comments and approaches. Here’s what I’ve got so far…feel free to share your thoughts on these: let’s say, an individual comes up to us, at any point of our visit to wherever it is we’ve brought the circus and says “You’ve sure got your hands full”, that person will be charged $2. If they’re paying attention and notice the pink shoes the girls will be wearing and suggest that because they’re girls, that I’ve “really, really got (my) hands full…Wow, all girls, huh?”, that instantly doubles the price to $4 (I surely don’t need to be reminded of the storms on the horizon, being the father of 3 girls who will all be in high school and college at the same time.) If it’s a group of little old ladies that surround the stroller and proceed to go on and on with how sweet the girls are, and regale us with stories of how their nieces landlord has twins, or how they met twins who were visiting a neighbor down their street, then the charges change from a per incident charge to a $5 per minute charge, for as long as the story goes on. This is potential Big Money Time, as people seem to like to tell us their twins stories.

However, if the twins big sister, Sydney, is there with us and the individual that’s approaching the twins acknowledges her as well, and if that individual pays a little bit of attention to her as they’re fawning over the twins, then, all charges will be forgiven. Syd’s been through a lot being the big sister of these two and has paid a big price already by having these two little, adorable hams grab her spotlight away, well, then you can say whatever sweet things you’d like about the twins and Sydney, and you’ll receive a special Manager’s Discount of 100% Off.

The more I think about this approach to the monetization of the twins, the more I like it. I can even see doing this as a fundraiser, where maybe whatever we collect over the course of a trip to the mall, or wherever, gets donated to a worthy charity…. I think maybe we should give this a try… Who wants to go to the mall?

I do have to say though, the vast majority of people that we encounter as we’re out are very sweet and truly interested, and it’s that sweetness that we’re fully prepared to exploit.

Now, how am I going to actually collect from these unfortunate souls who’s curiosity has drawn them into our little money-making venture? Let me think about that and get back to you.

“The Grabsie”, though, that thing is still on my mind too…

I can do both, right? I mean, after all, these kids have me in their clutches… Under Siege, as it were…I have time to work on it.

An Open Letter to My Boy

Dear Son,

I know you’re just a toddler, but I have three children and am greatly outnumbered–so just to let you know, usually it’s the guilty “did Mom catch me doing this?” look that I notice and not whatever bad behavior that you’re worried I’ll punish you for.  I probably wouldn’t even notice if you snuck out of your bedroom for some late night Wii if you’d just do it and not act like you want to get caught.  If you want to systematically drop individual spaghetti noodles from your highchair onto my freshly cleaned floors, you’d get away with it more readily if you didn’t catch my attention with furtive glances in my direction.  Your paranoia is probably holding you back from all kinds of fun that I otherwise would not know about—imagine all the drawing on your walls and booger wiping and candy eating you could be doing right now?

Can’t wait ’til you’re a teenager.

xoxo

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Cassandra can be found on Twitter @aclevergirl. Learn more about her family’s unique challenges and why they have hope for a cure for muscular dystrophy at Byrds for a Cure.

Giving Back: Taste of Hope

Many of you know that I am heavily involved in charitable projects. As the Arizona Chapter President of the national group Mom It Forward, I’m able to leverage some of my influence and use it for good. Helping to build and strengthen the community is a passion of mine.

When my daughter Allison was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes… my charitable goals became more lofty. I looked for ways that I could help to fund research and treatment. From walks to auctions to a simple donation at a fast food restaurant… I give. Most recently, I was approached by City of Hope regarding the Taste of Hope event.

Taste of hope is a food and wine celebration to raise money for City of Hope research. The finest restaurants in the valley will be contributing to this event. Tickets are available HERE and if you’re unable to attend because of where you live or because of a conflict in schedule… you can still donate to further the research being done at City of Hope.

City of Hope is a leading research, treatment, and education center for
cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. It was designated as a comprehensive cancer center (the highest honor bestowed by the National Cancer Institute). City of Hope is located
in Duarte, Calif., just northeast of Los Angeles. It’s ranked as one
of “America’s Best Hospitals” in cancer and urology by U.S.News
& World Report
. Founded in 1913, City of Hope is a pioneer in the
fields of bone marrow transplantation and genetics.

Clearly… they are doing amazing work there. I will be attending Taste of Hope on March 30th, taking pictures and gathering stories to share with you. I’d love to hear your own stories of hope. Leave me a comment below and let me know how giving back to your community has changed your life. Maybe you felt led to donate to this event… and if so.. let me know. I’d like to do something for you too.

For more information, visit www.cityofhope.org or follow City of Hope on Twitter.

Fears of a Father

Note from the editor: Welcome friends! It’s Friday again and time to do some dad stalking! This week, I’m happy to introduce you to a friend and amazing writer, Alan Kercinik. Ignore his first paragraph about being a disappointment to me. This post nearly brings me to tears by the end. Enjoy and share your thoughts at the end! xo-Kelly

This will probably be the kind of downer first post that causes Ms. @Childhood to kindly ask me to quit writing guest posts. (“Oh, Alan, I thought I had Friday slots open. I’m such a goof. I don’t. And please stop reading my blog. kthanxbye.”)

But I’ve been thinking about fear this week.

You’ve been warned.

From a kid’s perspective, having a dad with an overactive imagination is mostly excellent, I would guess. Jack, my two year-old son, seems to enjoy it so far, because it means that I’ll build him robots out of LEGOs and fly him around the house and make up songs to sing to and about him. Granted, the robots don’t actually work, he doesn’t really fly and the songs aren’t hitting your iPod anytime soon. But still, he gets a kick.

The downside is the way my imagination can tug and drag my thoughts into dark corners. Usually, my fears are kind of abstract, like that scene in Parenthood where Steve Martin flashes forward to his son, up in a clock tower, shooting up a campus.

In the day-to-day chasing and laughing and reading and playing and feeding, the future seems misty and far away. Every now and again, I wonder if I’m doing the right thing. If he’ll turn out to be a good human. If he’ll blame me if he doesn’t.

The other day, though. The other day I had one of those moments. If you’re a parent, you’ll know what kind I mean.

We’d been out for a couple of hours, because my wife was sick in bed and I was trying to keep him simultaneously busy and uninfected with whatever was tormenting her stomach. I’d been on the road for almost a week, so it was a good chance for us to reconnect.

We were in the garage. I’d let him out of his car seat while I grabbed bags of supplies for the missus that we’d busied ourselves buying. He walked toward the front of the car, because he’s into tires and wanted to check one out. The passenger side door was open, hiding him from me.

I was halfway into the backseat, reaching for something. I could hear this low growl of an engine speeding up the alley. My insides turned to water.

“Jack!”

I couldn’t see him, because of the passenger door, and in that second, I could see him, hit by a car because he’d run out of the garage. Hit by a car because I’d been careless. Hit by a car because I took my eyes off him. Hadn’t closed the garage door. Hadn’t done my job. Hadn’t protected him. Hadn’t been thinking.

I closed the passenger door. There he was, one hand patting the tire, staring at me. With a look that said, “Um … yes? I was busy.”

A quick tap of the button sent the garage door rumbling closed. I knelt down to him. “I didn’t mean to yell. And I wasn’t yelling at you. I was yelling at me.”

He put his hand on my cheek. “OK, Dada.”

I think he’d rather my imagination had been building him a robot.

I’d agree.

When I was in college, I took this course. Abnormal Psychology 201. My teacher was Bob Bontempo. (“In Italian, it means good time and that’s what we’re going to have in this class.”) He was serious about that.

One class, he told us about this study that could improve our love lives. The upshot was this. If you were just starting to date someone and really wanted her to like you, the best thing you could do was take her to a scary movie. Because when she grabbed onto your arm out of fright and terror, her poor, deluded mind would transfer that emotion onto you.

She grabbed onto your arm, she’d think later, because she liked you, not because she was afraid of Jason or Freddy or Steven Seagal’s acting. (This was the 80s.)

Now, years later, I wonder if they’ve ever countered that study. To find out if the more you love something, the more scared you are of losing it. If the amount of fear that hijacks your system is any indication of how much you care about something or someone.

Because if there’s a thin line between love and hate, I think there’s only an old, beaten and worn out screen door between love and fear.

Read more of Alan’s writing on his blog Always Jacked.