Monthly Archives: August 2007

2007 Victoria Baby Fair

Victoria Baby FairJust a heads up for readers on Vancouver Island. My friends Mike & Shirley are putting on the first of what we all hope will be an annual event – the Victoria Baby Fair.

Babies, toddlers, mom, dad, grandparents – there will be something for everyone. Tons of resources and information booths on pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, fitness, education, health, diapering and lots more.

They’ve lined up some great main stage speakers and entertainers as well. Kids performer and Juno award nominee Rick Scott will be performing, and Erica Ehm (yes that Erica Ehm of MuchMusic fame) is one of the main stage speakers.

The Victoria Baby Fair happens September 15th & 16th at Pearkes Arena in Victoria. You can get all the info on their website.

The best eBay listing I’ve seen in a while

I’m not sure how long eBay keeps listings up for, but this auction for Pokemon cards ended on August 22nd. hopefully this link is still active for awhile so you can share (and perhaps relate to) one Mom’s grocery adventure.


I’m HIP, according to CBS

Wow. I’ve never been hip before. But because I have a dick AND change diapers, I guess I can consider myself hip now. At least according to CBS. This morning they aired one of the fluffiest, vacuous, pieces about being a Dad that I have witnessed in a long time.

Never mind that they started the freakin piece with a clip from Mr. Mom, but the whole piece was so focused on the importance of having the right diaper bag (not all pink and flowery) that it makes dads look like they are about as deep as a super model.

And what was that sly comment by the reporter? Did she actual infer that Moms these days are tricking men into being involved parents by buying their husbands the right kind of diaper bag? How bloody patronizing is that? Like having a bad diaper bag is a reason for men to avoid being a parent.

Is it just me, or is the entire world of parenting nothing more than about being “cool”, “hip” and having the right products? Why does it seem like kids are the latest fashion accessory? And why am I made to feel so inadequate because I have the wrong make, model and brand of baby stroller? Oh wait. I forgot. It’s the role of advertising to make me feel inadequate because I don’t have the hippest brand owned by all the cool kids.

But mostly, why is it such a damn surprise to people in the media that men can change diapers? Seriously. Can’t we just accept that we are dads and we change diapers. Hell, some of us even cook and wash dishes! Whoa, stop the presses!

And while we are at it, can we please, please banish the word hip from our lexicon.

Father’s patience, 3, dies in Manhattan

MetroDad makes me howl, and his new post, Obits of 2007 is no exception. It is, indeed, a sad day when the afternoon naps disappear.

Now, when will that damn Delilah song be added to that list?

Toys recalled from our youth

Bad Lawn Dart

With all the talk of toy recalls recently, it’s nice to think that the world of toys today is actually safer for our kids than it was for us growing up. Kelly Mills over at The Poop has put together a very funny post remembering all the toys we managed to survive playing with from when we were kids.

My addition to the list: Lawn Darts. If you ever played with these things when you were a kid, tell me you didn’t toss one or two at your little brother when he really pissed you off. How could anyone in their right mind believe that a bunch of kids throwing sharp metal javelins around was a good idea.

We spend how much on groceries?


We did the family budget over the weekend and was a bit shocked to see how much we are spending on groceries each month.

Now, while my wife and I do maintain budgets, we don’t necessarily stick to it. There is a lot of wiggle room and discretionary spending that ends up happening within the confines of our spreadsheets. They are really more guidelines than true budgets.

Take groceries, for example. Every 2 weeks when I get paid, the first item I have on my budget is groceries, of which I have budgeted $140. My wife has the same in her budget (we maintain separate bank accounts, but that’s another post), so for an average 4 week period we have in our combined budget’s to spend $560 on groceries. This is for 2 adults, a 3 year old girl and an 8 month old breastfed boy who is just starting to get onto solids. I thought it was pretty generous. My wife thought we were actually spending more. So, since the beginning of this year, we have been tracking where that money goes, and tracking how close we stick to that amount. Friday was the day we sat down reviewed the year thus far.

Our budget: $560/month. Our reality: $721/month.

With that number staring us in the face, we re-examined how we have been doing our budget and grocery spending and have devised a new plan.

First, we both suspect that we can cut back to that $140 per week number, we just have to be a bit more conscious of how we spend. So, we are cutting out the habit of using debit cards to pay for groceries and are going strictly cash. So, each payday, we take out $140 cash and stick it in an envelope on the fridge. When we need groceries, we take cash. It’s a bit of a hassle making sure we get to a bank machine on our paydays, but I think this will make us more aware of where our grocery money goes.

And talk about syncronicity. The day after we went through our grocery budget, a friend sent a link to this really interesting photo essay called What The World Eats. The photos show what a typical family eats per week in 15 different countries. The images are really interesting and make me think of a few things.

  1. Judging from what some of the families spend per week, I should consider myself lucky at even the $721 a month figure. $500.07 US a week in Germany. Double wow.
  2. I felt hugely guilty and glutenous when I saw what a family of 9 in Ecuador and a family of 6 in Chad have to eat each week.
  3. There is no shortage of highly processed, pre pakaged food in the west.
  4. The lack of fresh produce in western diets compared to other cultures is shocking.
  5. Coca Cola owns the world.
  6. Pig’s knuckles. Mmmmmmm….

Babypause: Dads in Germany take more time with kids

I love that term – babypause. German men are using it to refer to the time they take off work to spend with their kids.

In January, Germany changed its parental-leave laws to give new parents 2/3rds of their salary for up to 12 months, which can be extended to 14 months providing Dads take at least 2 of the months. Talk about incentive.

So far, the new law has been a hit. Last year, only 3.5% of German Dads took leave after their kids were born. So far this year, that number has more than doubled to 8.5%.

Thanks to EduKey for the lead.

More on Baby Einstein: Disney fights back

It’s big business vs. academia as the Walt Disney Co. is puffing up for a fight with the University of Washington over their recent report that watching TV, and specifically watching Baby Einstein, might be bad for infants.

Disney, the parent company of Baby Einstein, is demanding the University of Washington retract it’s press release regarding the study they released on videos for infants. Disney calls the release “misleading, irresponsible and derogatory.”

Nice to see the University is standing behind their research. UW President Mark Emmert said:

“First of all, I made clear that we supported and stood behind our faculty’s research. It was research that was well-conducted and published in one of the most important” pediatrics journals.”

I hope that they are able to maintain their support of the research and the report with the full brunt of Disney lawyers breathing down their necks.

18 million more toys recalled by Mattel

Hot on the heels of the massive recall of Dora and Sesame Street toys from 2 weeks ago, Mattel announced today another massive recall of children’s toys. Brands affected include Polly Pocket, Barbie and Batman toys.

In addition to the lead paint problem identified a few weeks ago, these products have problems with magnets coming loose. When more than one magnet is swallowed, the magnets can attract each other and cause intestinal perforation or blockage, which can be fatal.

This is getting ridiculous. If you are in the U.S., you might consider signing this petition.

Details of the recall are on the Mattel website.

Update August 15
Mattel has posted photos and descriptions of all the toys recalled.

Baby Einstein’s questionable value

Baby Einstein

In a recent State of the Union address, US President George Bush heaped praise on Julie Aigner-Clark, founder of Baby Einstein saying that she is a “generous social entrepreneur” and “represents the great enterprising spirit of America.”

What an endorsement. And from an authority no higher than President of the United States of America. I can only imagine that sales of Baby Einstein products are increasing as we speak.

I’m in complete agreement with the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood when they say that:

The President claimed that Ms. Aigner-Clark “represents the great enterprising spirit of America.” We respectfully disagree. We don’t believe that preying on parents’ concerns about their children’s well-being; deceiving customers about a product’s benefits; or exploiting our youngest and most vulnerable children should have any role in the American marketplace.

As parents, we are kept in a constant state of fear about how we raise our kids. Advertising and marketing do a phenomenal job at making us feel that, if we don’t use (insert a product here), our children may somehow be in danger, miss out or be left behind.

Well, today there is some new research that may have the U.S. President rethinking the praise he heaped on Aigner-Clark. Okay, okay…I doubt this President rethinks anything he says, but I digress. Apparently “Baby Einstein” is doing more harm than good and can actually delay language development in toddlers.

Time magazine recently published a story about the findings of research conducted by Frederick Zimmerman and Dr. Dimitri Christakis at the University of Washington.

…the research team found that with every hour per day spent watching baby DVDs and videos, infants learned six to eight fewer new vocabulary words than babies who never watched the videos. These products had the strongest detrimental effect on babies 8 to 16 months old, the age at which language skills are starting to form. “The more videos they watched, the fewer words they knew,” says Christakis. “These babies scored about 10% lower on language skills than infants who had not watched these videos.”

So, how can you actually increase your child’s vocabulary and language skills when they are infants? The authors of the study suggest reading to them as children who are read to daily show a slight increase in language skills.