Got a heads-up via Twitter the other day that the Monterey Bay Aquarium'sOcean Sunfish (Mola mola) now has its own web page in the aquarium's online field guide. The mola is an enormous, slow moving, and really strange looking fish that floats serenely through the amazing Outer Bay exhibit, and it's our favorite creature in the place.
I think most dads will agree with me when I make the blanket assertion that the whole pregnancy thing is, in addition to being a wondrous beautiful miracle, pretty freaking scary and unfamiliar. While certainly your wife/partner/baby mama/significant other has to deal with most of the difficult stuff, it's still something that can be quite a challenge for the father-to-be. If anything, we just want to be the best partners and supporters that we can be.
That's why I really wish I had a copy of Your Pregnancy for the Father-to-Be: Everything Dads Need to Know about Pregnancy, Childbirth and Getting Ready for a New Baby(Glade B. Curtis, MD, MPH and Judith Schuler, MS, Lifelong Books/Da Capo Press, $14.99) back when our first child was born a few years ago. While I had a lot of resources to fall back on, most of them were from the mother's point of view and, while useful, weren't directly speaking to the father's experience. The 2009 edition pretty much tells you everything you need to know about what the expectant mother is going through, offers tips and suggestions on how to help, and basically walks you through everything you need to know about getting ready for your new baby.
As I guy who cooks, I take special pride when I make something that makes both my children clean their plate. No, I'm not referring to kid-friendly cliches like macaroni and cheese or pasta with some butter and parmesan on it (although, I must admit, I've resorted to that on occasion), but rather something I make that's unusual, tasty, and enjoyed by everyone, adults and kids alike. This is not to say that I'm not often sorely disappointed by my culinary adventures with children. To say that most experiments end badly is an understatement, and for some reason I seem to remain naively hopeful that everything I make will be appreciated by the small people in our house.
As my 5-year-old was playing with his Playmobil toys (remember those?), I happened to casually remark that we should make a short stop-motion movie with them. Foolishly, I thought my suggestion would go unnoticed, but boy was I wrong. The whole movie-making idea really piqued Trevor's interest, probably in part due to the fact that his uncle (AKA my younger bro) is an editor at Pixar and we've been over to their Emeryville campus a few times to absorb all the sheer coolness that permeates the place, as well as watch movie screenings.
So, to get started, we assembled some equipment: a tripod, our old Canon S60 digital camera, my wife's MacBook, a whole mess of Playmobil dudes, and lots and lots of natural light. The toughest part was trying to explain the whole nature of stop-motion animation to my little budding Ray Harryhausen. The primary challenge was, of course, that Kindergarten-age children don't have a lot of patience, which is required in bucketloads for this kind of project. But eventually he got it and did really well.
If you grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the '70s and '80s then more than likely you remember Bob Wilkins, who passed away Wednesday at age 76 from Alzehimer's disease complications. Bob was not only the cigar-chomping host of the on-way-past-your-bedtime horror movie program Creature Features on KTVU, but also the beloved kiddie-show host Captain Cosmic. It's his Captain Cosmic persona of which I have the fondest memories. I was a devoted viewer from the beginning when the good Captain, with his trusty robot 2T2, started showing old (but new to my 7-year-old self) 1930s Flash Gordon serials. He then progressed on to Japanese sci-fi fare like the The Space Giants and everyone's favorite, Ultraman.
As Captain Cosmic, Bob Wilkins rode the wave of late-'70s Star Wars mania to introduce legions of Northern California kids to shows that you just couldn't see anywhere else, and that, like it or not, had an indelible impact on our adult selves. Somewhere, possibly at my parents' house, my Captain Cosmic official fan club membership and secret decoder card still exists. Here's a video clip of Captain Cosmic that is certain to bring back memories (after the jump).
Kids take all the fun out of being sick. I'm the kind of person who rarely ever got even so much as a cold, and when I did, it was a great opportunity to stay home from work, cozy up, and be lazy and miserable... and at least have a little pleasure while doing it. Imagine... sitting in bed all day guzzling hot mugs of TheraFlu and having loved ones cater to your every whim. Bonus points if there was a Columbo marathon on A&E! I might be a sniffling snuffing mess, but that would stop me from having the Best Day Ever.
Move that clock forward to after you have two small children running around the much-too-small house. Think you have time to be miserable? Think again! Forget about hanging out in bed all day, because you've got responsibilities to take care of. Chances are your dear spouse is sick, too, since you've both been infected by some bug brought home from preschool or Kindergarten (oh, the irony). Nobody's got the time to help take care of you.
And, don't forget, the kids have been up all night for a few days with the colds that started things off. Extra bonus points if multiple children had the cold in succession, thus multiplying the misery!
Now get out there and change that diaper... I don't care how sick you are.
One of the most effective ways to keep kids occupied for the last, oh, 40 years or thereabouts has been to give them a tub or two of Play-Doh and maybe the garlic press and let them go to town. It kept you busy and out of your parents' hair when you were little and so it will for your children, too. You recognize that distinctive Play-Doh smell, don't you? Open a tub and take a whiff—nostalgia in a plastic container is what that is.
Play-Doh is, like many things beloved by small children, not without its drawbacks. Most of all, it gets everywhere. Small balls of Play-Doh scattered as far as the eye can see, and of course squished into the rug. Play-Doh of course tells you that it's easy to clean up: simply let it dry and vacuum it out of the carpet.
A while back I blogged about "Walking the Line When You Work from Home," an excellent and useful article from the always excellent and useful online Web design magazine A List Apart. Today they've published a great follow-up: "Working From Home: The Readers Respond," containing, as the title implies, reader-submitted tips on working from home and the unique struggles involved. I especially appreciated the first section of tips on balancing work and family. It's nice to know that there are a lot of others in the same boat.
Anyhow, there's lots of high-quality tips and information in there, as is pretty much the standard with ALA. It's a must-read for any parent who's even thinking about working at home for any reason or any job, not just for Web designers.
It's not as if I led a deprived childhood, but there were some toys that I desparately wanted as a kid and never got. Of course now that I have kids, I can finally indulge those desires of long ago by getting them the stuff I never had! And who said being a grownup is no fun? Although there are plenty of adults in their 30s and 40s who have no problem in buying themselves toys (or "investing" in "collectibles") more suitable for someone a few decades younger, I always thought the idea was just a little unseemly. This is not to say that I didn't occasionally indulge myself in toys, as anyone who's seen my desk at work will attest.
It's actually kind of funny to look at myself and my fellow parents and to see how we're seemingly immature—call it deferred adulthood—compared to our parents, and in turn to compare them to parents of previous generations. I'm addicted to Mad Men on AMC, and I find it interesting, and even a little frightening, to look at a character like antihero Don Draper in his suits and ties and hats and Coupe de Ville and to think that he's supposed to be around my age, and of course is played by an actor my age, but seems so much older than I, and I'm sure many others, see themselves.