Things To Do On A Rainy Weekend #1. Visit A Fire Station

This past weekend was a mess weather-wise. Hard, continuous rain, high winds and generally cool temperatures meant the park, the beach and even the woods were out. As chance would have it we were visited by some firemen who were doing random checks of buildings in our neighbourhood. While chatting with them they mentioned that if we ever “saw the door open” at the local fire hall we should feel free to come knocking.

Fast forward 2 hours and we were standing in front of the fire station as those same firemen arrived back. True to their word they opened the doors and invited our little guy in to see the trucks.

Not surprisingly he loved it. They let him sit in the seats, both back and front of the big fire truck as well as one of the smaller ones. They suggested he try on the helmet, which he refused but also showed him the various hoses, and other equipment. Before we left we were provided with a bit of swag to take with us so he’d remember his visit.

I don’t know how often they have to do this, but I expect its a regular occurrence and I thank them for it. So, if the weather turns on you and you’re looking for something to occupy a few hours on a weekend don’t forget about your local fire station. Your kids will love it.

Blast Off! Let The Terrible Twos Begin

Our son has decided that he’s not going to listen to us anymore. Well timed given that he turned two a little over a week ago. He’s now got either this scowl, or a blank stare for those times that we’ve caught up to him and are explaining the need to listen to mom & dad and respond appropriately. Good times.

Some recent examples:

Walking home from daycare and he suddenly runs toward the intersection. As we state, “Slow down please” and eventually “Stop” over and over, instead of slowing down as he once did, he continues head down into the street… or he would have had we not physically prevented him from doing so.

Time for bed. Notsomuch. Conveniently chooses to not hear us and continue playing with his toys (admittedly this one isn’t so new).

Going down stairs to bed. Where before he happily reversed down the stairs, for some reason he has a desire to proceed down forward on his bum. While in itself this might not be so bad, it is paired with his apparent inability to understand that he can fall easily from great heights.

And on and on it goes. Time to sit down with our daycare provider for some coaching.

Wrap these up in a couple of the better temper tantrums we’ve seen in his two years and there you have it.

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.

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

Update on Baby Shoe Purchasing

On the subject of buying toddler shoes, and whether new is smarter than buying used I heard back from one person. Her perspective was that you shouldn’t buy used because the shoe will have been worn in to the shape of the previous owner. I guess this makes sense at some level, but on the other hand I wouldn’t have thought that a baby or toddler would be walking enough, or with enough pressure to wear a shoe down that much. Especially in our scenario where our little guy isn’t walking yet and so would do very little wear on his boots and shoes.

Any thoughts from others?

Baby Sunscreen. Here Comes The Sun.

So after a pretty dreary spring and early summer the sun has arrived and it’s arrived with a vengeance. The sun rises early and chases away the clouds on a daily basis, beating down on the poor folks who forgot to apply sunscreen before they left for the day… but not our son.

After trying a few different baby sunscreen options we’ve settled on Aveeno Baby Sunscreen, and specifically the Aveeno Baby Sunblock SPF-55.

Why the Aveeno Baby? Well, I won’t say its the best as we only tried a couple before we settled on this one so there may well be others that are as good or better, but the Aveeno sunblock seems to meet our needs.

  • It has a very light, unobtrusive smell.
  • It goes on easily and isn’t sticky or greasy
  • It is easy to apply and doesn’t leave our little guy streaked with white
  • It is reasonably priced

Believe me, easy to apply and not greasy are KEY. Once you start to apply the sunscreen if your baby is anything like ours they’ll have little patience as you rub it on. Further, the greasier it is the harder it will be to contain your child, and so the harder it will be to finish applying the sunscreen :)

I’ll also mention that my sister in law highly recommends Badger Baby Sunscreen though we’ve never tried it. For now I think we’ll stick with Aveeno if for no other reason that the Aveeno Baby is SPF 55 while the Badger Baby sunscreen appears to be SPF 30-35.

Anyway, hoping this will help some folks looking for options where the products they’ve tried to date haven’t met their needs. Good luck!

Baby and infant life jackets and PFDs revisited

A while back I wrote a short post about our purchase of a baby PFD / life jacket (what is the difference between a PFD and a life jacket anyway… I can never remember) and my frustation at finding an appropriate size. Let it be known that the sizing, being based on weight is misleading. Our son ‘fit’ his life jacket, but I would be hard pressed to say that he was comfortable in it. Understand however that the Mustang Survival jacket we purchased was the only one we could find that would fit someone of his weight at the time. The jacket in my opinion was meant for a child of the quoted weight, but someone of greater age. The combination of heavy / chubby baby and small life jacket was a questionable one. The one forgiving factor that allowed it to work? Apparently the rocking and white noise of the boat was enough to rock him to sleep on each of his first 5 trips on the water… allowing him to forgive the discomfort of the life jacket.

To recall, the jacket we landed on was the Mustang Survival Lil’ Legends Child’s Life jacket

My takeaway? If you’re looking for the safety of a PFD or life jacket for a baby well under a year you may end up trading comfort for that security. Further, few jackets appear to be specifically made for an infant of that age, so you’ll have to make due with what you can find , and what your son or daughter will tolerate when on the boat.

Finally, welcome the noise of the engines and the motion of the ocean. If you’re as lucky as we were the two combined will have your child asleep in no time and the questionable fit will be a non issue.

Now, once they hit 8 months or so, at least in my experience their willingness to give in to sleep decreases markedly. Gone are the days of quiet sleep while the boats makes the 45 minute trip from dock to dock. Instead fidgiting is the name of the game.

Baby clothes sizes continue to confound me (in this case baby life jackets and baby PFDs)

Click here to review some Children’s Life Jackets as well as Children’s PFDs.
We ultimately purchased a Mustang Survival Child’s Life jacket, though being in Canada we purchased from a local retailer since Amazon doesn’t offer to ship this product to Vancouver.

This weekend we left for a few days at the cabin which involves a short drive to a local harbor followed by a not-so-short water taxi ride from the mainland to the cabin. The Kidlet is presently about 3 months old and a robust 16-17 lbs based on last visit to the doctor. Now, prior to the trip I did a bit of research to find out where I could find a baby life jacket and guess what? All the information I could track down pointed to life jackets not being certified for children under 20 lbs (or was it 30? It’s too much work to find the page again on the crappy Canadian Government maze of websites) which suggested we shouldn’t worry about it. That seemed like a bad idea, so we went ahead and purchased the smallest approved PFD we could find (and yes it was a PFD and not a life jacket, and yes I did read that life jackets do a better job or keeping the wearer oriented upright).

PFD and life jackets / life preservers for babies and infants are available to purchase Anyhow, we got to the boat, got aboard with the Kidlet in his Baby Bjorn and then proceeded to remove him from the Bjorn and put on the PFD. I’ll say this again, the Kidlet is no more than 20 lbs and the jacket we purchased is for children between 20 and 30 lbs. It was ridiculous. He looked like he was going to tear that thing apart. When we zipped it up to the top it looked like his jowls were going to spill over the neckline.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Baby sizing is ridiculous. At best it represents a near estimate of whether or not your baby will be able to wear the clothing. Why don’t they include dimensions as many adult clothing makers do as well in order to address the wide range of baby sizes out there? The PFD we purchased was for children up to 30 lbs or, apparently, chubby babies up to 17 lbs.

I would love to know how many tons of baby clothes are purchased and never worn each year simply because parents have no way other than ages ‘sizing’ and in some cases weight ‘sizing’ on which to base their purchase decision?

Here Come The Kids…

Sorry for the pause in posting, but we just welcomed a new addition to the family… and this one’s been a long time coming. As such the posts are going to have quite a bit of ‘new dad skew’ to them and for that I’m not making any apologies. Before it was all about posting things I found when I was researching gifts for OTHER peoples’ kids, but now that its for my own unfortunately the price of items is likely to fall, thereby bringing them into reach.

I’ll be kicking things off shortly… likely with some notes about life jackets for infants since we have an infant now and a pending need for a PFD as we plan to visit on the Gulf Islands