Bowser Jr. and the dangers of ‘grup’ parenting

At my 20-month-old son’s insistence, I’ve been playing a lot of New Super Mario Bros. U (hard life, I know). Champy knows all the characters because their decals adorn his Mario-themed bedroom, and he makes me name them one by one before he will go in his crib (always worth it). I was excited, and he was a little terrified when we reached the game’s final boss, Bowser.

But the Koopa King seemed a little flat. He was lollygagging, puffing a few fireballs and occasionally jumping, but he clearly had no interest in killing Mario. He didn’t even roar until his son, Bowser Jr., supersized him with Magikoopa dust, dragged him out of the pit I put him in and forced him to fight me again.

Son, we're going home.

Son, we’re going home.

My gut reaction was that Bowser is a lousy dad, halfheartedly raging in Peach’s castle while his underage son acts as Mario’s primary antagonist across eight worlds. But a New York Magazine article on ‘grups’ — 30-somethings who shun traditional adulthood and live like 20-somethings  — has me thinking maybe Bowser is just dealing with the consequences of shared-passion parenting.

And it could happen to me! Continue reading

The parenting perils of Instagram

Lazy afternoon sunlight trickles through the dining-room windows and shines steely blue off the stainless appliances. Champ sits there in the kitchen, twisting the head of Big Batman, a “Dark Knight Rises” action figure aimed at adult collectors and probably unsafe for a toddler. I stealth-unlock my iPhone and crawl up next to him for a low-angle photo. This is going to make a great Instagram.

The final product of some dangerous Instagramming.

You should know about Instagram by now. It’s the service all the cool kids are using to square-off, stylize and share their best cameraphone photos.

I taught a journalism class last fall and devoted a large chunk of lecture to Instagram’s role in documenting Superstorm Sandy. Friends of mine interrupted a recent dinner party to make everyone watch an Instagram-themed Nickelback parody. Seriously, it’s everywhere.

Instagram is a big deal to me as a stay-at-home dad. I believe that if I can make my adorbz baby photos look hip enough, my childless friends won’t get sick of them and block me on Facebook. I rely on those friends for updates on things like limited-release beer and new movies, but my head would rainbow sparkle puppy explode if I kept all Champy’s cuteness to myself. Continue reading

Best baby names: A simple formula

I’m about to double my cash value as a stay-at-home dad. My wife and I are expecting our second child — a girl — this August. In the month since we found out the sex of the baby, we hear the same thing every day:

Do you have a name? How about _________ ?

Aryll is Link's little sister from "The Windwaker." You already know the DeLorean.

I’ll answer the second question first. No. Your name suggestion is stupid. As for the first question, we don’t have a name. We have something even better: A formula for coming up with the best possible baby name. Continue reading

The string cheese incident

An open letter to the dad. From the Champ.

File photo; string cheese not pictured.

Dear Dad,

I am writing to express my EXTREME DISSATISFACTION in your handling of the organic string cheese we purchased recently from Trader Joe’s.

I’m just a toddler. “String” is not part of my vocabulary. I vaguely grasp the concept of “cheese.” And yet even I can understand the purpose of this “string cheese.” It is a toy that is crinkly on the outside and rubbery on the inside — perfect for waving around, banging on things and even chewing. Continue reading

The unmanliest thing I’ve done as a stay-at-home dad

Since I’ve become a parent, I’ve done some things I wouldn’t brag about to my bros. I know the name of every Yo Gabba Gabba! character.  I squeal when my son sticks his finger in my belly button. I once went to the mall just to get a limited-edition Yankee Candle, and I bought the matching Illuma-Lid to go with it. That last one I can’t even blame on my kid.

But now my son is getting over a sinus infection, and this forced me to do something unthinkably girly.

The Champ doesn't want to blow his nose.

As a stay-at-home dad, I’m the last person who should be throwing out generalizations based on gender stereotypes. But here goes: If a woman is wearing pants with pockets, she’s got a wadded-up tissue in there. Continue reading

Baby’s Bumbo: Perfect for beer growlers in the car

Thanks to a new Arizona law that allows bars and liquor stores to sell draught beer in take-home containers, all my friends are buzzing about growlers. Usually a 64-ounce brown glass bottle, a growler is great for new parents who can’t waste precious babysitter time sipping craft beer in bars. A growler won’t collect dust like the other well-intentioned bottles of booze in your fridge because the beer doesn’t keep long. Honey, we have to drink this.

My go-to growler this fall has been Four Peaks Pumpkin Porter, a hard-to-find local seasonal that rivals America’s top pumpkin beers. I’ve brought home growlers for entertaining, tailgating and movie night at home. The biggest challenge is that the bottles are fragile and hard to transport in the car. Thanks to my baby son, I have a solution:

bumbo-transporting-beer-growler

Baby's Bumbo floor seat is perfect for transporting a beer growler in the car.

Continue reading

DHA Omega-3 milk vs. the dad

I’m scowling at the milk in the Whole Foods dairy case. Mom’s not pumping at work anymore, so 1-year-old Champ gets cow’s milk, and I fill a boy up with premium. The whole point of this grocery run is to score a half-gallon of organic DHA Omega-3 whole milk.

Horizon Organic DHA Omega-3 whole milk

Yes, becoming a parent turned me into a hippie. I grew big and strong on bovine hormones, antibiotics and genetically modified sugars. It’s too late for me. But over time I began developing vague notions like “we use too many pesticides” and “God intended cows to eat grass.”

I don’t often pay the premium for organic produce, but I started buying organic baby foods because they came in cooler packages. The logical next step, I guess, is to feed a boy organic milk.

Adding DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is a no-brainer because it’s the trendiest nutrient in infant brain development. If Mom can choke down DHA-supercharged prenatal vitamins every night for nearly two years, Dad can pony up a couple extra bucks of Mom’s hard-earned cash to keep the brain train rolling.

That brings us to Whole Foods. Continue reading

3 infant toys that build surprising skills

The Champ just celebrated his first birthday with a weeklong, multi-city tour de force that netted him a pile of new big-boy toys. Before we get too fired up about the new hotness, I’d like to pay tribute to the classics.

Here’s a look at some of the best toys for infant development from 6 months to 1 year of age.

Fisher-Price Lil’ Zoomers Spinnin’ Sounds Speedway, $20.
Skill: Free Standing.

You may have noticed that every little boy has this toy. Convincing babies to watch cars go around in a circle is fundamental to NASCAR’s infant indoctrination conspiracy. That’s why Babies “R” Us can sell it for $10 below MSRP. Continue reading

What new parents want in the iPhone 5

Apple is set to unveil the new iPhone today, and smartphone geeks are champing at the bit to hear more about what many are calling the “iPhone 5.” Rumors of a larger screen, 4G/LTE connectivity and redesigned earbuds may stoke the fanboys, but being full-time dad to a one-year-old has given me some different concerns.

First baby photo taken with iPhone 3GS camera.

This iPhone 3GS shot is the first photo anyone ever took of Champ with his eyes open. It would have looked much better on the iPhone 4S.

When our son was born, my wife and I had iPhone 3GSes we got on launch day more than two years earlier. I had to take his first pictures with that phone’s aging camera because Apple wouldn’t release the 4S for another 24 days.

We had packed a new DSLR camera that we bought just for photographing the baby, but nothing tops a smartphone camera for quickness and convenience. The fact is, the iPhone has become an indispensable tool for documenting and sharing the story of this new person’s life.

Here’s how to make it better. Continue reading

The perfect sports-team baby clothes

College football season is here, and my Arizona State Sun Devils debut their all-new system tonight. The 7:30 p.m. kickoff is past my baby’s bedtime, but I still want the Champ to dress appropriately on game day.

Let me show you what I’d like him to wear:

Perfect baby sports-team onesie

Here are four simple rules for the perfect game-day baby outfit: Continue reading