Saturday, June 22, 2013
Thursday, May 16, 2013
On to the characters; did Sidney freak out? Way back when I visited amusement parks in my youth (yes, they had them in the iron age), the characters would just walk around the park and pose for pictures. Not any more, apparently. At Universal, Epcot and Magic Kingdom the characters are now stationed at certain locations at designated times and you can line up and wait to take your picture with them. Yeah, you've been reading this blog, you know this had a very low probability of happening. That being said, Barney had no line at Universal (more on that shortly), so Sidney met his first amusement park character and it was a giant purple anthropomorphic tyrannosaurus rex with a speech impediment (have you heard Barney?). It went just fine and he even smiled and stood still for the picture; Sidney didn't do bad either. We saw a few characters in passing while walking around all three parks but none caught Sidney's attention. The only other characters we saw up close were the princesses at Magic Kingdom, as The Wife wanted us to have lunch at Cinderella's castle. Sidney, predictably, was fast asleep for the portrait picture with Cinderella, and for 90% of lunch (The Wife is lucky Nana and Grandpa love her so much). So we have a picture of a passed out child in a stroller with Cinderella, pictures of The Wife with Ariel, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, respectively, next to a stroller with a sleeping child (apropos with Sleeping Beauty, in hind sight), and a picture of a crying Sidney avoiding Jasmine. In Sidney's defense, it looked like Jasmine could use a Pilates class or 10. Hey, don't hate the messenger people, she's the one in the belly outfit. Although we didn't have a freak out, he was not exactly enthralled with the characters, so let's call this one a push.
Next, would we survive the throngs of people at the parks? Funny thing, turns out that the last week of April and first week of May is a "low time" in Orlando. All the various Spring Breaks are over, it is too soon for the Graduation Trips, and way too soon for the Summer Vacation crowd. All 3 parks were readily manageable. In fact, the longest line we waited on was 20 minutes, and that was for the lunch at the Castle that we had a reservation for; not so much irony as foreshadowing, really. All of the parks now have some variation on "fast passes" that allow you to drastically cut your wait time, and we did use these a few times at the Magic Kingdom, but for the most part the parks were just full enough to show life, but there were almost no lines. I am not saying this was a "sweet spot" week, but it sure comes close. The down side is that this is still smack dab in the middle of Spring Showers season, so there was rain every single day. It broke long enough for us to be able to go to the parks, but rain it did. So ... yeah ... none of you guys go down during the last week of April/first week of May. Totally not worth it. Sure, we will still go during this time, but only because ... uh ... because ... oh, look, the last question.
Finally, will he remember any of this? Half way through the first day at Universal I came to the realization that we will have no way of knowing the answer to this one until Sidney gets older and communicates whether he does. That being said, we will definitely remember it. He laughed, he pointed and oohed, he stared quizzically, and was otherwise very happy (with the exception of when Nana would make him wear his hat to protect from the sun. Willful little bugger, but Nana prevailed). In the end it is not so much of a "push" as a moot question. Apparently, not everything with Sidney is fully about Sidney. Hegle would approve (the philosophy majors will argue Kierkegaard applies more, the rest of you, Google is still your friend).
Join us next time when whatever I write is way shorter than the last two posts.
Monday, May 6, 2013
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
With considerably further ado, I give you the guaranteed partially effective checklist for having a moderately successful meal at a restaurant with Sidney (so long as by successful you mean "getting to finish a majority of the meal" ... and by "majority" you mean "got to shove 2/3 of your food into your mouth without [excessively] choking"). With me so far? Good:
1) Get to the restaurant at an "off-hour" for the desired meal. Basically, this means "get there before the rush." So, for weekend breakfasts we're talking at or before 8am (hey, this is NYC, who the hell is up before noon on a weekend other than parents of young children? That's right, nobody ... unless Nana and the Admiral are visiting, then them), for a lunch 11ish or 2ish, and for dinner 5. Notice something? Yep, we're talking early bird hours. Babies and Geriatrics; cue Sunrise/Sunset, flowery circle of life cliché, et al. There will be more room, the wait-staff will be happy to have a tipping table during the off time (more later) and you'll feel less bad about ruining someone else's meal in the event of a MeltDown™.
2) Pick a restaurant that is not quiet. Sidney is, thankfully, very expressive. He babbles, he uses the words he does know (often), and when he gets bored of that he just makes noise. At 15 months, this is a great developmental thing. Sure, as he grows we'll (hopefully) be able to teach him proper volume control, but for now it means we bring what amounts to a foreign language color commentator wherever we go; you understand a few scattered words, you know he's describing some on-going thing and every now and then he enthusiastically declares a scoring play. In a loud restaurant, this all just blends into the noise; bonus points at places actually showing sports. We've found establishments that play music are ideal, with large boisterous establishments coming in a close second. This brings us to
3) Learn to spot "kid friendly" restaurants. Aside from the blaring advertisements for the obvious "kid party-places" (which, really ... no. Sorry Mr. E. Cheese [HA, pun], I'd rather pass), how does one know a restaurant is kid-friendly? First, look for strollers. Easy give-away. Be wary of too many strollers, however, because this can mean either a private party is going on, or you have merely stumbled into a less obviously advertised ring of hel ... I mean "kid party-place". Next, look for other families. The kids may be out of strollers, but having one or two other families there likely means the place passes kid-muster. Finally, and this one is key, ask if they have high-chairs. My Wife and I have come to the conclusion that if your establishment has even a single high-chair, you contemplate young-ins as patrons. Side note, you'd be surprised how many pubs in NYC have high-chairs ... rules 2 and 3 satisfied in one swoop! Bonus: pubs showing soccer and/or rugby matches. Everyone is pretty much expecting random exclamations in something vaguely reminiscent of English ... not to mention patrons possibly puking and/or peeing at the tables.
4) Bring stuff for the kid to do. This one was all My Wife (and she gives credit to Nana), but it is dead on: a bored kid is a noisy fidgety kid, so bring thinks to keep them occupied. For Sidney this means coloring books, a toy or two and Daddy's KindleFire (loaded with Bubble Guppies). You start with the coloring book, he draws for a bit, throws the crayon, you switch to the toy, he plays with that for a bit, throws that, hopefully by then your food has arrived and you put on Bubble Guppies and that buys you the final few minutes to get your meal down. Somewhere in there you feed him, which means hand him various foods that he either eats (GREAT) or throws (damnit). The most successful meal we have had to date involved Sidney chewing on a lemon while watching Bubble Guppies for a full 15 minutes. Hey, don't look the gift-horse in the mouth, just saddle up and ride it out. Bonus: vitamin C.
5) Tip commensurate with the mess. Had a relatively decent meal and want to be able to come back and not be told the high-chair mysteriously went missing? Tip the poor people that now have to clean up the child-dining ground zero. Kids in general make a mess, toddlers whom have a penchant for simply dropping (or tossing) food they are "done" with make spectacular messes. So, leave a little extra for the trouble. Think of it as an investment in future pleasant meals, your dining karma if you will.
Tune in next time when we cover packing for a family vacation. No, really, we have to pack this week for a vacation and there is no way this isn't going to end in comedy.
Monday, April 15, 2013
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Realizing that I was approaching this from the entirely wrong direction (one premised upon the notion that the process made sense), my Wife broke the news to me that the whole thing is rigorous and competitive because it is the parents that are being interviewed. Oh, sure, the schools want to meet the kids, but I am convinced this is just to make sure they are not dealing with some uncontrollable hellion, hopped up on sugar and lugging blueprints for mischief. The core of the process, its unapologetic sine qua non, is the parent interviews. In a nutshell, the Wife and I would have to fill out long applications listing all sorts of information about ourselves. Our education, our income, our hobbies, our jobs. Then, after all this, we'd need to sit through personal interviews with the schools. Let that sink in. A pre-school administrator would interview me, and the outcome of that interview would dictate whether our bouncing boy got into the pre-school. That's right folks, Sidney's screwed.
It's not that I don't interview well, indeed my academic and professional careers would dictate the contrary. No, it's that my consternation with being, ostensibly, interviewed so that my son could attend a pre-school would permeate my every answer. Remember, we're already filling out questionnaires on Sidney (and ourselves), and they are meeting him. What questions, specifically for me, other than "is that your son?", "can you pay the tuition?" and "will your son cause our casualty insurance rates to go up?" are actually relevant? Sure, my Wife would undoubtedly (and rightfully) have me killed in some creative manner or another if I didn't play nice with the "interviewer" asking me about some wholly irrelevant thing ... but let's be realistic here, this is me.
Please understand, my cognitive dissonance on the topic is triggered not by them wanting to meet us, this makes perfect sense (the "what are we getting into with these people" factor), but by the declared competitive and extensive nature of the parents' interviews. Some answer I give makes Sidney a better pre-schooler? An answer given by someone else's parent means Sidney is a less worthy pre-school candidate? Asking me what books on parenting I have read (actual application query) is going to determine whether Sidney will be able to handle the rigors of free-play time? Of course these don't make sense, and things that don't make sense make me ask questions. Mostly, questions that force the person attempting to feed me the nonsense to reflect on the abject inanity of their position; and thus we have me being murdered in my sleep (ok, there are other steps involved, mostly variations on my Wife screaming at me that I knew what the game was, so why did I have to make the interviewer cry, but that's not important).
However, I may have been spared a gruesome demise (temporarily), as my Wife has decided that the exorbitant costs of pre-schools in NYC makes the entire endeavor possibly a poor ROI proposition (translation: we looked up tuition and choked). Instead, she's trying to find us an apartment in a neighborhood zoned for a really good public school. In NYC, this means either a condo or co-op building ... which means we'll have to go through a Board-of-Managers interview to buy the apartment. That's right folks, we're screwed.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
I guess the takeaway from all of this is that the "ins" of bathing a toddler are having a clean toddler, and the "outs" include a soaped up child trying to escape your grasp, water going everywhere, him peeing in the bathtub and a turd in Nana's shower. Progress!
Monday, April 1, 2013
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Thursday, March 21, 2013
We do not throw food in this house!
Don't pee ... don't pee ... don't pee!
Fine, you want to push buttons? Now you watch QVC!
We do not punch the puppies!
Please don't lick the window.
Did you just poop in the shower ... again?!
What are you doi ... oh no you don ... OH SERIOUSLY?!
Please don't lick the coffee table ... again.
My point? When your kid doesn't make you sound like a wandering sage dispensing wisdom, he makes you sound like a raving lunatic with stress-induced tourettes. Then again, most of Nietzsche's writings indicate this is a thin line to begin with.
Monday, March 18, 2013
Saturday, March 16, 2013
My Wife has pointed out that I have all but abandoned the blog despite the fact that Sidney continues to do hilarious things. The feeble defense I proffered was that my masterfully long posts took time to craft, time I was electing to spend instead with our bouncing baby boy (or sleeping...ok, mostly sleeping). She has since destroyed the defense with the outside the box solution of making shorter posts (forgetting that lawyers have no concept of brevity). So, going forward, shorter, but more plentiful, posts.
As for Sidney, he preferred the longer posts. Gave him something to do during breakfast.
Stay tuned for musings on Sidney's recent graduation to full bore on walking.