Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Two year old birthday parties -- not actually for two year olds

J's birthday party was last Saturday. It's really incredible the effort we go through for a birthday party for a two year old. The planning, the cake, the theme, the cake, the color scheme, the food (not to mention, of course, the cake); hours and hours we spent planning this party...

Ok, my wife spent most of those hours, but I was involved! Especially setting up the house. We had everyone over for the party, and I was trying to set up the backyard just right. This table here, the sit and spin there, the little red car in this spot -- no, wait, I should move it over there. I can't believe how neurotic I was over the whole thing!

Especially considering that a two year old has no concept of a birthday party. In J's mind, there were just a lot of people over, and they all were talking to him. He didn't care about the colors or the food or the toy set up on the lawn. He just wanted to play and do his thing.

But the cake work paid off. He was super psyched about the dump truck cake and didn't even get upset when we cut into it.

Really though, I think parents of young children (myself definitely included), think of their child's birthday as almost a mini wedding. It makes sense in that prior to having kids, that was, for most young couples, the last real party they planned.

Hopefully we learned our lesson now. I think that's why people start really having kids' parties at a party place around the age of three or so. Maybe that's when the parents learn that all the kids care about is playing...

Well, at least he had fun...I think.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


I might have mentioned this before, but J is a HUGE fan of trucks. It's not something we intentionally cultivated. It just happened. He had a book with about 20 pictures of a variety of trucks, and I think that started the whole thing. He started to love the book so I kept reading it to him. That led to changing "Wheels on the Bus" to "Wheels on the Truck" with my wife and I creating a verse for each truck in that picture book.

Now our house is filled to the brim with trucks, truck books and general truck paraphernalia (yeah, we even just got the fork and spoon silverware). I don't necessarily think that being into trucks is a boy thing, but when he lays on the ground watching the wheels turn, yeah, I see a lot more little boys doing that than little girls. It's something that I think J learned from his older cousin, but even without that influence, it would have happened anyway. It really is pretty funny to watch him lay there for a long time just watching the wheel go "round and round."

It's even funnier when he starts singing "Wheels on the Bus" when he's doing it.

Driving the snow plow
So what does all of this have to do with my summer of Daddy Being Daddy? Well yesterday it was "Truck Day" at our town's library. Actually, it was truck day at several town libraries nearby. I think the libraries take a look at the Farmer's Almanac (because really, who else would look at the Farmer's Almanac?), and try to pick the day that they think will be the absolute hottest of the summer. The day when the trucks probably couldn't move if they wanted to because their tires have basically melted into the pavement. Yesterday wasn't the absolute hottest day, but it was pretty close.

J v. the Blade
My wife and I thought J would be so psyched about the trucks that she even worked from home in order to come with us to the library. And he did like it a lot at first. When we got there, the fire truck, snow plow and backhoe loader were all in the parking lot. He loved sitting on the fire truck's bumper and in the cab of the snow plow, but the best part was definitely the snow plow blade. He thought that was amazing.

An immense backhoe loader
Unfortunately, an ambulance and police pick up truck came a little bit later. He liked these in principle, but then kids were allowed to turn on the siren of the police truck. That was not a pleasant experience for J, and at that point he just wanted to go in the library and read. So, Truck Day didn't end great, but I would still rank it positively in the end.

Future fireman?
The other reason why I wanted to bring up J's truck-a-holism is because my wife is right now, as I type, creating the cake for his birthday party this weekend. Of course, I had the "brilliant" idea of suggesting a dump truck cake, and my wife who can't pass up a challenge agreed to this idea and is now trying to make it perfect. It's looking great already (she's just begun), but I can sense a fairly long night ahead of us to make sure that the cake looks just like a dump truck. I'll post pictures of the cake after the party.

The greatest irony of all of this: he's starting to be more into trains than trucks now...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Magical Mystery Age of Two

So on Sunday, J turned two. At the early stages of a child's life, there are several "magical ages" where somehow it seems that everything changes literally overnight. Two years old is one of those ages:

Screen time: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under the age of two are not supposed to have any screen time. I've looked at some of the studies and they talk about attention issues and they have even said that certain things (Spongebob Squarepants in particular) actually make a child dumber. It all makes sense. Except why does that all change when they turn two? Yeah, I know you're still supposed to limit screen time, but it's not as urgent anymore. Frankly, we actually have had to do some screen time throughout J's life because he has been sick so much, we had to give him his medicine. Especially in the last few months when he was particularly forceful (read: stubborn), that meant turning on a video (Thomas or trucks) so he'd actually take it. We weren't happy that we were doing that, but we didn't have much of a choice. Now, we can be okay with watching videos right?

Peanuts: So I know this one changes as often as I have to change J's diaper, but when he was first born, the rule was that you shouldn't give peanuts to a child under two because of allergen issues. Food is probably the best example of magical mystery ages. Prior to one kids can't have honey. Prior to one they shouldn't have cow's milk. Prior to two they should only drink whole milk. I always thought that every kid was different. How is it possible that every kid's body can suddenly tolerate foods at such specific ages? Regardless, our doctor recommended that because I have severe food allergies, we wait until the magical mystery age of three.

Car seats: The recent recommendation is that kids remain rear-facing in their car seats until the age of two. I know it's safer that way. I know that it saves lives. I know all of these things. But still. J is a big kid and did not do well with the whole rear-facing thing. We gave up on that one at 21 months. But again, why is two so special?

Anyway, I'm happy that J is two years old. No matter what supposedly happens at that magical mystery age, he's a fun kid.

And because the people actually reading this blog probably only care about the pictures, here are some pics of our time today at an indoor playground. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Happy 2nd Birthday!

Today is J's second birthday, so we had a fun day planned out. And it actually worked as planned!

We took a train into Boston, and that alone could have been enough for him. He was totally psyched to be on the train. He's been really into trains recently, from books to toys to the occasional video, and although it wasn't his first train ride, he really got into it today. As soon as the train started to move, he was standing in the seat looking out the window with pure glee on his face!
Train = WHEEEEE!!!
Once off the train, we got on the T (another train!) and went to the Public Gardens. J had a great time on the Swan Boats, Carousel, and riding the duckling statues.
Going around the pond on the Swan Boat

J loved riding on Jack!

Riding a zebra on the carousel
A few observations about the day:

1. The internet failed me for once! -- J loves the book "Make Way for Ducklings," so while at the Swan Boats, we wanted to make sure to go to the famous duckling statues. Those things are not easy to find. I tried to search on my phone "Where are duckling statues in public gardens?" and the location did not show up! So, hopefully this blog will be searchable at some point, and here is the answer: If you are at the Swan Boats facing the pond, turn right, walk under the bridge, and by the time you get to the end of the pond, you will see the ducklings. There. Now everyone knows where the ducklings are!

2. Swans are huge! -- We saw some actual swans in the pond, and they always surprise me how big they are. And how mean they are too! We saw one chase after this small duck around the pond. Do I have to report that as a case of bullying?

3. Carousels are creepy -- I have seen too many crime procedural tv shows where kids are abducted off of a carousel. J had a great time, but I couldn't get any of those scenes out of my head.

Overall it was a great day! Happy birthday to my little boy!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Busy without the little one

So the last two days, J has been having some good quality mommy time. I'm a teacher so I get all summers with him, so she wanted some quality time too.

I decided to take the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and do some handy work. I ran some errands and got a few supplies and made a few toys for J.

The first one was just a small pulley system for our backyard. We have a small gravel pit that J plays in (it was originally going to be a sandbox, but sand is really expensive, and all J wants to do is drive his trucks and load up the dump truck beds), and my mother-in-law suggested a pulley system. So I got a pulley, bracket, rope, and a bucket and set it up so J can load up the bucket and hoist it up.

But the cooler toy was the second thing I made. I saw this thing at the local children's museum, and that gave me the idea. Basically, I took two 2 foot pieces of maple, drilled 5 holes in each, and then I put long bolts of different diameters through them. I put a whole bunch of washers on each and attached them to the wood with nuts. When you slide the washers up the bolts and then let them fall, they wobble and make really cool sounds.

It may not sound like much, but this is so not like me, and I am kind of proud of it. And J even liked the toys! Lots of fun!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Libraries and Books

Yesterday, I tried to plan a variety of things for the morning so J would take an early nap in the car and then if our new washing machine came early we wouldn't have any problems.

I really need to stop planning things.

J didn't want to do much of anything. Most of the morning he just wanted to read books. The kid really loves to read, so much so, that he has begun memorizing books and picking them up to "read" them to himself.

So when I tried to convince him to go to "a special, new playground," he didn't really care about it. Finally, about an hour after I had planned to go, we made it out the door. When we got to the library (walking distance from the playground), I asked him if he wanted to go to the library or playground and he chose the library. I was shocked.

The library is a beautiful, big building with a large, airy children's area (and very bright in comparison to the rest of the library). But even though it's a beautiful library, I have to say it's not my favorite of the local libraries. Everything is very neat and organized in the space and the puzzles are each individually wrapped up and kept separate from the rest of the area. Personally, I think that children's areas of a library should be a bit more free-flowing. J likes to wander and play with puzzles, take books out and just generally wander. With the puzzles out of the way and the books so tightly packed in the shelves that they were unable to be easily removed, it was a bit too clean and organized for my taste.

Anyway, after some time at the library and then the playground, we grabbed lunch. J fell asleep in the car for about 15 minutes and then wouldn't go back to sleep. All he wanted to do was read and be read to.  I don't know why he wouldn't sleep, but the reading was still fun.

Today was actually very similar to yesterday. J was able to play with his aunt and cousins, but aside from that, a lot of reading and not a lot of napping. Tomorrow's a day all about mommy, so I may not blog. If any librarians have any response to my comments, I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The boy just wants to dig!

Beach was a bust today, but J didn't care. He didn't really want to go anyway. Yeah, I fell into the trap...trying to do something "for" my kid when all he wants to do is go to a playground. As long as there are swings and a sandbox, J is happy.

It was actually a double playground day. After the beach attempt (too crowded), we went to the playground near our house (it is a great playground). We stayed for over an hour and went back to the house for lunch and nap. After nap, he woke up, called for me, and asked for the playground again.

He's not really into the whole "water" thing. Pools, beaches, he doesn't care too much for them. Put the kid in a sandbox or on a swing though -- nothing but glee!

Monday, July 9, 2012

2 Year Molars = Ugh...

So, yeah, J has a big ole molar coming in right now. He is a rather moody kid at times anyway, but this took it to a new level. Anytime he wasn't totally distracted, he was not a happy camper. Which means that today was rather tiring.

I know that's part of being a daddy. J has been sick enough during his two short years that I get it. But that doesn't make dealing with it more enjoyable. The distractions do that, but only while they last.

First distraction was the a children's museum. It's a fun, small museum with a variety of rooms. The train room was his favorite of course.

He fell asleep on the way home, but only slept for an hour twenty instead of the usual twoish. Gas and teeth.

After a stroller ride, we met up with Mommy at a playground for a picnic dinner.

All in all, the busy times were great, but the down times were real downers. Hopefully he'll get some sleep tonight. Tomorrow is beach day! (hopefully!)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Day 6-- Whatever it takes to distract a toddler

So my wife decided to make J's birthday cakes today, which meant it was my job for distraction. Enter a pot, a serving tray, a Starbucks drink tray, a bunch of uncooked pasta, and anything else I could find.

Most of the ideas originated from my wife or mother-in-law, but I was in charge of implementation, and I think I did a decent job of it all.

We scooped and poured. We played outside and inside. I read half a dozen books and took J on a fun but mostly unnecessary trip to Target. And in the end, Mommy made half a dozen (no exaggeration) cakes! I only wish I could have gotten more pictures, he kept moving every time I had a good one!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Day 5 -- Free Friday FAIL

So the idea for today was to take J to the zoo. I mean, what kid doesn't like the zoo? (ok, really it was for me too. I'm a total sucker for zoos). And today was a free fun Friday too!

Unfortunately, it seems as if the entire Eastern Seaboard felt the same way. The place was PACKED. The parking lot was full, and in the short amount of time it took me to ask for directions to the other lot (conveniently located in Canada it seemed) all my hard work to keep J awake collapsed and he fell asleep.

My wife and I used to live in the DC area, and I miss the National Zoo. It's always free, and because of that, it's never too crowded...always full but not crowded. I like the idea of free zoos. Do you want kids to learn about animals? Make it easy to come, not difficult.

Anyway, we went to a nice playground and then met up with Mommy in the town center. The playground was a blast (J's quote: "It's a fun playground because there are lots and lots of swings!") and they were doing construction in the center of town, which meant a dump truck and a backhoe loader digging up the road. J was in truck heaven!

Overall, J didn't seem to mind missing the zoo as much as I did.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Day 4 -- Down on the Farm

J loves going to the farm. We've been there many times over the last year or so, and he always has a great time. Today we went with a few teacher friends of mine and their son.

Today was my first time, however, going by myself in a long while. I thought that I could do anything, mainly because for Father's Day, my wife gave me an awesome case to put stuff in for my car for the summer fun. The problem was that I tried to bring the stroller along with me as a place to either store stuff or as a place for J to sit as we move around the farm.

What I didn't consider was the idea that I'd have to chase after J and deal with the stroller at the same time. Yeah, that was a mistake.

Looking at the chickens

But J had fun at the farm and we got to see the big mama pig get up and nurse the little piglets. And the chickens are a blast too!

Day 3 -- Happy 4th! (Now with added snark!)

**NOTE** I originally had a post yesterday on the fourth, but I forgot to push the save button on my phone and so I lost the post. So there will be two posts today...

**NOTE #2** My wife commented the other day that she was surprised that my blog isn't snarkier. So, not being one to disappoint, there will probably be more snark in future posts. Let me know if it's too much...

So for the Fourth of July yesterday, we decided to go up to the coast with my wife's sister and her family and their friends. Overall it was fun, but there were a few things going through my head as part of it:

Parades -- There need to be two different parades for big holidays like the Fourth or Memorial Day. I know that some people like to watch their neighbors walk around and pull wagons decorated like pirate ships or American flags, but my son really had no interest in that at all. To J, parades are a chance to see trucks, preferably of the fire variety. Unfortunately, we got to the parade a little bit late, so we missed all the fire trucks. I think the parades should either spread out the trucks throughout the route, or the town should just have two separate parades, one for the trucks and one for the homemade floats.

Town Art Festivals -- It was good -- exciting for my son, lots of stuff to walk around and see, overall good... except for the crowds and noise royally freaking my anxiety-ridden dog out .

Fireworks -- I was totally skeptical about the fireworks. I really thought that J would not be into it at all or even be scared by the loud noise. Thankfully, this was not the case, but he definitely was not captivated by the event. Maybe fireworks don't get "magical" until the age of three? Four? He liked it, but no more than he likes other things.

Regardless, it was fun to be up there and hanging out. He got really tired and was not happy by the slow drive home in the rain late at night, but still a fun day.

Waiting for the fireworks (with an obviously tired son)

Watching the fireworks

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Day 2 -- You CAN judge a book by its cover

So today we went to the library for story time. J wasn't super into it, it was admittedly a bit young for him, (he's two weeks from 2--the upper limit of the range) but he always likes books and reading. Plus, I was getting a bit tired of the library books we had at the house.

J started picking books, seemingly at random, but they were actually pretty good ones. Maybe it's just the law of averages, maybe the library got a whole bunch of new, good books, but I was definitely impressed with his selections. And he didn't even pick any truck books!

Overall, the library was definitely a success, even with the diaper change in the parking lot (if my wife can do it, why can't I?).

Post nap, we went to the playground for some sandbox and truck fun.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Day 1 -- Is it bad to hope that the little engine can't just once?

We had a busy weekend, so I wanted to start things off slow and easy for the summer. J had no problem with that, as long as slow and easy means reading "The Little Engine That Could" over and over and over again...

The original copyright of the book is 1930, and even though my parents weren't even a thought then, I've known the story for my entire life, I think everyone knows the story, but there are definitely parts that I didn't know before that seem just wrong:
3. Why is it daytime on one side of the mountain but the kids are just waking up on the other side? How big is this mountain anyway? (this observation care of my wife)
2. Why are the jerk trains all male, but the nice ones are female?
1. Really? The train is bringing jack knives? WTF?

Anyway, after nap, J and I met the wifey at work, had an anniversary dinner, and watched a couple of trains. Trains are always fun!

Daddy Being Daddy

So the whole idea of Daddy Being Daddy actually came from my son J's teacher. When my wife and I picked him up last week on his last day at school, she mentioned that J was going to be in "Daddy Daycare" for the summer -- aka me. The teacher either didn't hear her or ignored the comment and instead said, "That's great! It's always nice when daddy can be daddy."

So, there it is. This summer, I'm daddy being daddy. I like that idea. It's not that I'm doing anything [that should seem] out of the ordinary. I'm just being daddy.

J and I are going to have some fun this summer. Museums, farms, playgrounds, and more. And so I'm going to try to blog about it. I may not write a post each day, but whenever I can, I want to chronicle what it means for me to just be daddy.