Toilet Seat Locks. How to Remove That Cursed Adhesive!?!!

Why is it that our child safety devices almost never come with instructions for uninstalling them? Case in point our Safety 1st toilet lock, as well as the oven lock we recently installed. Fortunately the oven lock is working well and can be left installed for the time being, especially as our toddler becomes more and more interested in what we’re doing in the kitchen.

The problem is the Safety 1st toilet lock. First, the spring mechanism snapped a week ago so that the arm just swung freely rather than locking anything. Next, the mechanism just broke entirely as I demonstrated to my wife that the toilet locked no more. Finally, when I sat down (crouched actually) to remove what was left of the lock it became apparent that it wasn’t meant to be uninstalled. Sigh. The adhesive used is certainly quality stuff (unfortunately). The only reference I could find online had to do with someone tearing the finish off a wooden (ouch, splinters) toilet seat in an attempt to remove the toilet lock when their kids had outgrown it.

All I can think of is to just pour Goo-B-Gone or nail polish remover on the seat in the hope that it will make its way to the adhesive and give us a hand.

If you know the secret, please, please, please let me know. For now I’m off to pry the finish off our seat.

Vacationing With a Toddler – Maui, Hawaii Version. Maui Activities.

See also

Part 1. Vacationing With a Toddler, Maui Version. Choosing a Location.

Part 2. Vacationing With a Toddler, Maui Version. Shopping and Restaurants.

Places We Chose to Visit

Beaches and Snorkeling

We tried a number of beaches during our stay from Big Beach to the south to the hotel beaches at Ka’anapali and they were broadly excellent. General comments:
– If you’re taking your cameras make sure you have a sand-proof, water proof bag or container to hold it. When the winds pick up sand gets in EVERYTHING. Additionally, while we didn’t experience it we heard tell of rogue waves rushing up on the beach and surprising people and their belongings. Better safe than sorry.
– Ask around about the trade winds. Maui beaches with low wind are wonderful. Maui beaches when the winds arrive are hard to bear.
– We didn’t bring any children’s toys at the recommendation of friends. We’d recommend you do the same. Save the luggage space as the condo you rent will almost certainly have all the toys you need from prior families.
– Snorkeling gear. We rented our snorkeling gear from Boss Frogs for ~$30.00/week for each of us. Totally worth it so you have gear with you where ever you find yourself. Boss Frogs is located all over the place and you can rent from one location and return to which ever is most convenient at the time (we rented in Ka-anapali and returned in Kihei). My only issue with them is the attempts to upsell on tourist packages when all you want to do is rent a snorkel, mask and fins.

You can search for Maui rentals at VacationHomeRentals.com
Vacation Home Rentals

 

Ka’anapali
Ka’anapali beaches were nice in that they were accessible to people not staying at the various hotels, were very clean and offered easy, pleasant swimming. The one issue we had while visiting was that we arrived at roughly the same time as the trade winds, and with the absence of any kind of wind break we were sand-whipped to the point that we had to leave the beach.

Kamaole Beach I, II and III

Big Beach
We drove south to Big Beach early in our vacation and on one of the hottest days of our stay. I suggest that you arrive early in order to secure a parking spot, and that you bring sandals as you won’t want to walk across the sand or the asphalt later in the day. The heat is remarkable.

The beach itself is long and ‘deep’ with a great deal of space between tide and vegetation. Shortly after we arrived the lifeguards got on the horn and made sure that everyone was aware that a) the waves were up that day and were easily strong enough to knock an adult down, b) there was a strong undertow and c) unless you were very comfortable in such waters you should probably stay out… Their warnings were quickly justified as a group of teens jogged into the surf and were quickly taught a lesson before eventually struggling beyond the break to calmer waters.

Finally, we observed our first ‘rogue wave’ while at Big Beach and several families who were many, many feet from the high water mark found themselves scrambling to grab their belongings when the tide quickly surrounded them and then quickly backed off again.

In short, this is a great beach for time on the sand, but probably not the ideal place for a toddler who enjoys playing in the water.

See also

Part 1. Vacationing With a Toddler, Maui Version. Choosing a Location.

Part 2. Vacationing With a Toddler, Maui Version. Shopping and Restaurants.

You can search for Maui rentals at VacationHomeRentals.com
Vacation Home Rentals

 

Making Sure Your Child Eats a Broad Range of Healthy Foods

Following up on my earlier post about teaching children where food comes from, I thought I’d put up a quick post on how to get your kids to eat healthy.

I had lunch with a friend yesterday who also has children at home, in fact they have 3 ranging from a few months to about 5 years old. It seems that we’ve been very lucky with our toddler given his willingness to eat pretty much everything we put in front of him regardless how bland, spicy, wet, dry, brown or green the meal might be. My friend was telling me that not only are his kids picky, but they have structured their meals around certain foods that the children are willing to eat and its come to the point that there is concern that nutritional requirements may not be being met.

Now, I’m not going to kid myself. I expect that our situation is due perhaps in part to the fact that we’ve exposed our toddler to a wide variety of foods and food types since he was big enough to eat solid foods, but that its likley more a case of good luck than anything else. It would not surprise me one bit if in the near future he just decided that he was no longer open to trying anything but a handful of food items, so I figured I’d better get prepared.

I’ve managed to source some interesting options that ‘hide’ healthy foods in more tasty options. For example, the Whole Foods near us sells chicken sausage that includes a great deal of kale. Provided your child doesn’t recoil at the idea of eating a green sausage this might be a good option. Another approach we’ve used is to put vegetable-based juice in the breakfast shakes we all drink in the morning. This is not V-8, but rather those green / spirulina drinks you see these days, like:

Happy Planet Extreme Green (their site)
Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness (their site)
Arthur’s Green Energy (their site)
Odwalla Superfood (their site)

A couple of shakes we alternate between for breakfast include (we make enough for three of us):

Peanut Butter & Banana:
2 bananas
Huge scoop (~5 tablespoons) of unsalted peanut butter (no additional ingredients)
~ 250-300mL of vanilla yogurt (we avoid low fat)
~ 1 cup of dry quick oats
A couple cups of 2% milk
Water as needed.
Pulse blend until desired consistency is reached & oats are broken up.

Mango & Banana:
2 bananas
Flesh of one average sized mango (2 if you use the smaller Philippine mangos).
~ 250-300mL of vanilla yogurt (we avoid low fat)
~ 1 cup of dry quick oats
A couple cups of 2% milk
Water as needed.
Pulse blend until desired consistency is reached & oats are broken up.

Banana & Greens:
2 bananas
~ 1 cup of Green drink of your choice (see above)
~ 250-300mL of vanilla yogurt (we avoid low fat)
~ 1 cup of dry quick oats
A couple cups of 2% milk
Pulse blend until desired consistency is reached & oats are broken up.

I’ve polled a few folks including the friend mentioned above and they’ve provided a couple of options for making food that kids will eat (note that I said ‘make’ as I like the idea of knowing exactly where the ingredients are coming from and what is going into the food we feed our kids). One book we’re been recommended more than once is Deceptively Deliciouswhich is apparently authored by Jerry Seinfeld’s wife. My copy hasn’t arrived yet, but I’ll plan to update this post once we’ve tried some of their recipes.

Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food

Dogs, Dogs, Dogs!! How Do I Keep My Toddler Safe Around Dogs?

We live in an area populated by university students, young couples and an incredible number of dogs. I have to admit that the owners are very consistent in their use of leashes and it is a VERY rare thing to see a dog off leash. For this I’m thankful. Owners are slightly less consistent in their cleanup and this seems to be getting worse. A year ago you’d almost never see dog doo on a lawn, but yesterday I counted 5 deposits during a 4 block walk. Not good.

While the above is somewhat concerning to me I think we can quickly teach our little guy to avoid dog doo and to leave it alone whenever he encounters it. If, in the event he doesn’t listen or forgets, the implications of this are relatively minor.

What really concerns me is how to teach a baby / toddler / child to behave around the dogs themselves. My inlaws have a medium sized dog that isn’t super familar with children. While she’s generally pretty good with kids, there comes a point when the growling starts and I’m concerned that a snap will soon follow. Of course, or little boy finds the front end of the dog to be the most interesting and starts off at a slow jog directly at those teeth when he sees her. We’ve tried to reinforce with him that a) you shouldn’t run at a dog, but rather approach her only with mom or dad, b) you should only touch a dog gently once mom or dad have said its ok and c) if mom or dad aren’t there, or haven’t said its ok, you should just leave an animal alone.

Any hints? If not I think I’ll be buying some books pretty quickly. Most of the books I’ve found so far focus on introducing kids to a family dog, or introducing a new dog to the existing children. What I’m looking for would address not just those items (I’m sure they’re good for all interactions) but also cover teaching children how to behave around dogs whether they’re familiar or not.

For example:
Living with Kids and Dogs…Without Losing Your Mind
Raising Puppies & Kids Together: A Guide for Parents
Kids and Dogs: A Professional’s Guide to Helping Families
Family Friendly Dog Training: A Six Week Program for You and Your Dog
Happy Kids, Happy Dogs
The Puppy Primer

Vacationing With a Toddler – Maui, Hawaii Version. Shopping & Restaurants.

See also

Part 1. Vacationing With a Toddler, Maui Version. Choosing a Location.

Part 3. Vacationing With a Toddler, Maui Version. Maui Activities.

Shopping While in Kihei and Beyond

We did very little actually ‘shopping’ while on this vacation. Shopping in Kihei for us consisted of meals and food shopping to prepare back at Kamaole Sands. That said, here are a few items worth sharing for folks planning on visiting Kihei.

First, food (actually, pretty much everything) is more expensive in Hawaii. We did our food shopping in one of two places during our stay. Foodland, located on South Kihei wasn’t walking distance, but it was an easy drive from our condo. If you shop at Foodland be sure to ‘register’ for discounts. Like Safeway and many other grocers Foodland has a members program that provides discounts off the posted price. Registration is easy as you just give them a phone number which becomes your account ID. On subsequent visits just give them that number and you’ll be provided with the discount. It’ll save you a bunch over the course of a week or two. If you prefer Safeway, its found just a few blocks from Foodland and we found the prices to be a bit better, but not enough to say that one should be chosen over another.

We cooked most of our meals in the condo, which was much easier than restaurants with the little guy. That said, we did visit a number of spots during our stay. Some of them I’ll outline here.

You can search for Maui rentals at VacationHomeRentals.com
Vacation Home Rentals

 

Star Noodle, Lahaina. I can safely say that Star Noodle was the best restaurant we visited while in Maui. I expect the menu changes frequently, but we found the following items particularly tasty. Star Noodle’s take on Pork Buns (almost like a pork wrap with the pork being single large pieces of what I believe was pork belly). Brussels sprouts (halved brussels sprouts seared in what we guessed was bacon fat -yum- and tossed with smokey bacon pieces). Ahi Tuna special (market price) that was easily large enough to feed two people. There were numerous tables with children while we were there, but we went solo that evening so I can’t really comment in detail on how child-friendly the location and service would be. Much of the food would be challenging for a young child.

Paia Fish Market, Paia We stumbled across this place while walking through tiny Paia and enjoyed some excellent fish tacos, quesadilla and salads all at (for Maui) a pretty reasonable price. They had a couple high chairs, but I don’t think there were more than 2 so get there at a low time if you want to ensure appropriate seating. The spot’s noisy and located on a street corner with its large doors open which turned out to be a blessing for us as our little guy will happily watch traffic while we talk.

Sansei Sushi, Kihei Sansei came recommended by some friends and was well-reviewed on Yelp. I would recommend it as an option for dinner as the sushi is pretty good, though no where near the best I’ve had. I’m a sushi purist, so when I see things like panko-breaded ahi tuna rolls I tend to take issue. Note that this was ordered and the first couple pieces were good, but I can’t imagine eating a full roll, same with the broiled scallop nigiri that was recommended by the server. Don’t order this unless you like broiled processed cheese more than you like scallop.

Their sunemono was different from what I’m used to as it didn’t include rice noodles, but had an ample portion of sliced cucumber. Different from the norm, but a pleasant change. I chose octopus, which was fresh, but small-portioned. The unagi roll was delicious and Sansei’s agedashi tofu was nicely prepared with a very light, crispy batter.

Maui Tacos, Kihei
You’ll soon notice that Maui Tacos is EVERYWHERE including walking distance from Kamaole Sands. We tried them on a couple of occasions when we just wanted something quick and easily portable to the beach for example. The food was fine, but nothing to strongly recommend. On one occasion the fish tacos we ordered were way too salty. Would I recommend it? No. Would I warn against it? No. Maui Tacos is convenient and available where and when you need it.

Fred’s Mexican Cafe, Kihei
Casual ‘Mexican’ fare from this restaurant, which is an easy walk from Kamaole Sands. Show up in your bathing suit, eat and cross the street back to the beach. The portions are absolutely enormous, making this an easy way to fill up through the day. Drinks too are sizeable and well-priced and the servers are friendly and fun. Again, not haute cuisine by any stretch, but worth a visit for the large portions and fun atmosphere. There’s also a bar area upstairs that I think serves as a rallying point on the weekends.

Three’s Bar and Grill, Kihei
We stumbled on this place on our own. Three’s Bar is just off South Kihei Road and we weren’t sure what to expect. When we arrived half of the inside space was occupied by a children’s birthday party which had me skeptical at best. Fortunately there was a clear distinction between the different eating areas and we were able to enjoy our lunch with little disruption. The food was excellent and I’d recommend this spot for lunch to anyone visiting the area. The garlic fries in particular are worth a try :)

Mother’s Day Buffet, Sheraton, Ka’anapali
Holy crap was this ever a waste of money. Ka’anapali itself is worth a visit and will take about 45-50 minutes driving from Kihei. The area is where you’ll find the higher-end, name brand hotels (Westin, Sheraton, Four Seasons etc) vs. the condo resorts and independents that comprise Kihei, along with the shopping one comes to expect with these brands and price points. For Mother’s day we made the drive and had reservations at the Sheraton. Now, I don’t expect much from these kinds of buffets, but this one was very disappointing. The price for 3 adults came to roughly $55 per head for a brunch that was notable for nothing in particular. Avoid, your money is better spent elsewhere (unless of course money isn’t a consideration for you and you’re already near, or staying at the Sheraton in which case the only concern will be quality).

See also

Part 1. Vacationing With a Toddler, Maui Version. Choosing a Location.

Part 3. Vacationing With a Toddler, Maui Version. Maui Activities.

You can search for Maui rentals at VacationHomeRentals.com
Vacation Home Rentals

 

Teaching Our Children Where Their Food Comes From.

When I grew up my grandparents, aunts and uncles lived on a dairy farm not far (5 hour drive) from where we grew up. As a result we would spend stretches of our summer holidays, and Christmas at ‘The Farm’ visiting with family and assuming some measure of chores. There was never any question of where fruits and vegetables came from, how and when to harvest them or how to prepare them. Similarly we would help to prepare chickens after they were killed, we knew that pork came from the pigs, and milk and beef from the cows in the barn.

An exchange I had with a friend recently reminded me that not everyone had this exposure as a child. My friend asked me where peanut trees grew. Weird.

That was when I decided that despite living in a reasonably large city, and in an apartment we had to make sure our little one knew where his food came from, how to grow his own and how much better fresh is vs shipped.

To kick this off we’ve done the following this year (remember, our son isn’t quite 2 yet):
1. Regularly visit a local hobby farm. While butchering the animals isn’t part of the program, he gets to see and interact directly with a large number of animals, many species of which might find their way to a table one day. We explain to him that you eat cow, pig, goat etc and when we do eat meat, we link it back to the animal so he can build the association.
2. Plant vegetables on our balcony. We’ve got a few different types of vegetables on our balconies, though this year’s weather is not cooperating nearly as well as last. We’ve got carrots as an example of a root vegetable that grows in the ground, lettuce so we can harvest and bring it to the table often. We’ve got tomatillos, peppers and gooseberries as examples of fruits and vegetables that grow above ground. Finally we’re trying cantaloupe (yes, I know its a long shot). While the plants are off to a slow and late start I’m hopefull that this will work.
3. We’re planning trips to local vegetable farms, either pick-your-own or farms associated with farmers markets so he can see the scale and variety available.

I’m sure it will be a while before he really appreciates what he’s seeing… but maybe that’s the point. I would consider it a win if he grows up unsurprised when he sees plants growing across acres of field, or is surprised by a question from a friend who clearly lacks awareness of where their food comes from.

Toddlers and Balance Bikes. Here We Go.

Various balance bikes we considered.
Red Strider ST-2 Balance Bike
Various Strider Balance Bikes
Wooden Balance Bikes

Earlier this year Grandma bought our little one a shiny red balance bike, specifically a Strider ST-2. Note that they’ve since released the Strider ST-3 (don’t ask me how they differ) which appears to be very similar.

Strider balance bikes come in pieces but are very easy to assemble, so don’t let that put you off.

Anyway, this past weekend was the first time taking the bike out to the park and allowing our little guy to give it a shot (he’d tried his new balance bike a couple times in the living room wiht limited success). I was a bit concerned that since he’s not yet 2 years old the bike might be a bit much, but after seeing kids in the neighbourhood who are if not younger, are at least smaller manage them pretty well I figured, why not. Interestingly I’ve seen these referenced as for 5 years and older which strikes me as a bit too conservative.

Initially there were some issues with actually balancing the balance bike. It took a few attempts to successfully catch himself when he leaned to far to one side or the other, but once he got the hang of that it was off to the (slow) races.

I will note that we started with the seat almost as low as is possible (almost touching the back wheel). As such he was walking while straddling the seat rather than sitting and pushing himself so he glides on the Strider. I figure that’s ok as he can first learn how to steer and generally work the bike and then we can raise the seat so he can focus on gliding rather than walking. Time will tell if this works.

There are numerous balance bike brands out there and we opted for the Strider in part for the bright colors as well as the solid metal construction. The various wooden balance bikes certainly have an edge in the style department, but come at a much dearer cost for the solid ones and in some cases looked a bit too fragile.

Finally, helmets. We picked up helmet from day 1 and have established that he won’t be riding the bike unless the helmet is on. The one we chose is the Bell Tater Kids Bike Helmet, specifically the blue dragon version. It’s pretty funny, but he loves the helmet almost more than the bike itself. In fact, he’s taken to asking to wear the helmet when he’s hanging around the house. Last night almost as soon as we started our Skype call with his grandparents he ran to his room, grabbed his new helmet and insisted he be allowed to wear it until the call was over. For those interested we opted against the round ‘bucket-style’ helmets which, while they look cooler lack the ‘overhang’ front and back that I’ve convinced myself will provide more face and head protection should he fall directly forward or back. Does this make sense? Who knows.

Various balance bikes we considered.
Red Strider ST-2 Balance Bike
Various Strider Balance Bikes
Wooden Balance Bikes