IV

Cespedes Fan Club

Looks like Yoenis Cespedes has a brand new fan:

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This is probably his Daideo’s fault for getting him a Cespedes jersey last season:

Filling Out NCAA Brackets With Your Child

For the third straight year, I’m having my son pick out his very own NCAA bracket. Surprisingly, he won a big pool the first year as he picked Duke to win it all. It was a nice chunk of change to go into his college fund. 

The obvious question was how I got a four month old to pick the brackets. Well, it wasn’t easy. 

What I did was I went online, and I printed out pictures of all the mascots of the 68 teams in the tournament. I then put them in front of him, and I asked him to pick one. It took a very long time, more time than I care to admit, but it was a fun experience. 


Now that my son is three, it is much easier. He can better identify the pictures, and he can ask different questions. 

With his eagerness for St. Patrick’s Day, it’s of little surprise his far he had Notre Dame going. Basically speaking, if a team had some type of animal as the mascot, my son had them going further in the tournament. Having personally run pools in the past, I’ve seen worse methods of picking brackets. 

I had fun doing this with my son this year, and I look forward to watching the games with him. Hopefully, his bracket will win a pool or two like it did two years ago. 

Snow’s Coming: Get Your Milk, Bread, Eggs, and Carrots

On Tuesday, the Northeast is supposed to be slammed with a Northeaster.  This means that every old lady in your neighborhood is going to be running to the grocery store to stock up on the three staples of milk, bread, and eggs.  If you have a child, you will also need to run to the grocery store to get milk.  I do not want to know what would happen around here if we ever ran out of milk.

However, my shopping list isn’t done.  With the promise of a lot of snow coming, there is the potential that there will be enough snow to build a snowman.  Now, you could go the Frosty route and try to get away with a button nose, but you’re not going to see that button, nor are you ever going to find that button again.  No, instead, you are better off going the Olaf route and getting carrots for the snowmen.
I doubt there will be coal in your local supermarket this time of year.  Hopefully, you can use a couple of rocks and jam them in there.  If you want, color them with a black Sharpie so they stand out.  In fact, you can use a colored Sharpie if you want.  Ask your child what color they want the snowman’s eyes to be.  They can be blue, brown, or green like your child, or just the traditional black.

And with that, you should have enough stuff to build a snowman in your own backyard.  Hopefully, the snow sticks well enough to build a snowman instead of having to pile snow up to make some sort of snowman like creature.


If you’re ambitious, you can make a quick and easy chicken soup with your child in the slow cooker.  Pre-cut the remaining carrots with some celery and onions.  Get a roaster while you are at the grocery store and tear up the chicken.  Allow your child to combine the ingredients with broth or stock into the slow cooker.  Add some salt and pepper, and you can then let it run while you are outside playing with your kid in the snow.  When you come back in the house, you can have a quick and easy chicken soup.  It may not be the greatest, but at least it is hot, and it’ll be easier to get your child to eat it because he made it.

By the way, while you are out there shopping this weekend, make sure you get a sled if you don’t have one already.

Duck Tails Woo-ooo?

When I think back to my youth, I fondly remember shows like He-Man and Thundercats.  As a father, I wish my son could enjoy these shows like I once did.  Once my son began watching shows like Paw Patrol, I really wanted my son to begin watching shows like He-Man and Thundercats.

With He-Man on Netflix, it is certainly possible for him to do so.  And yet, I don’t sit down and watch He-Man with him because that was my show growing up.  Paw Patrol is his.  When he goes and he plays with his friends, they all want to do play and talk about Paw Patrol.  The other kids don’t know He-Man, and I don’t want to make my son the outsider of the group.  So, with that, I eschew He-Man in favor of Paw Patrol.  It’s not pleasant.

Recently, I discovered there may be some middle ground for my son and I.  Growing up, I also watched DuckTales.  It was a great cartoon, and perhaps an even better video game.  To this day, I remember every line to the DuckTales theme song.  Who doesn’t?  It was catchy.

The diving into the money pit and the whole ordeal.  It was great.  It is a show I would love to share with my son.  That goes double with him loving Mickey’s Christmas Carol as much as I did.  At this point, my son knows all of those Disney characters, and I think he would love DuckTales.  Again, the problem is his friends don’t watch.

But maybe they will start this summer as apparently Disney is relaunching DuckTales.  Naturally, it isn’t going to have any of the original voices, but that’s not a big issue.  What’s important is they are going to relaunch DuckTales.  There’s a trailer for it and everything now:

So yeah, about that.

Maybe I’m just being a bit too nostalgic, and maybe I’m being too much of an old man. But man, that doesn’t look great. It certainly doesn’t look anywhere near as good as the original. And yet, I think I’d rather watch this than Paw Patrol again, and again, and again. So, in that sense, beggar’s can’t be choosers.

Still, I wish this looked better.  Here’s hoping it’s a giant success and not the equivalent of the remake of The Longest Yard.

And To Think That I Saw It At Citi Field

* adapted from “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” by Dr. Seuss

When I leave home to go to Citi Field,
Dad always says to me,
“John, keep your eyelids up
And see what you can see.”

But when I tell him where I’ve sat
And what happened each at-bat,
He looks at me and sternly says,
“You did not see all of that.

Stop telling such an outlandish story.
Juan Lagares cannot cover that much territory.”

Now, what can I say
About what I saw today?

All the long way to the game
And all the way back,
I’ve looked and I’ve looked
From the outfield to the bat rack,
But all that I’ve noticed,
Except the green infield,
Was d’arnaud and Matz
At Citi Field

That’s nothing to tell of,
That won’t do, I know . . .
Just the starting pitcher Steven Matz
Hurling pitches to Travis d’Arnaud.

That can’t be my story.  That’s only a start.
I’ll say that a GAZELLE was pitching instead of a Bart!
Add that is a story that no one can beat,
When I say that I saw it at Citi Field.

Yes, the Gazelle is fine,
He gives batters a migraine,
There’s another marvelous pitcher
Who’s stuff is much more insane.
The story could be so much more
If the pitcher I saw were Thor.
An orange and blue capped pitcher’s fastballs are profound,
Rumbling like thunder from the mound!

No, it won’t do at all . . .
There’s another with the ball.

Zack Wheeler is better;
He’s come back round,
And he’s ready to for a start
On the Citi Field mound

Hold on a minute!
There’s something wrong!
The bullpen is the place for this dealer
It’s off to the bullpen for Zack Wheeler,

It’d be much better, it might,
If the start went to the Dark Knight.

Hmmm . . . A Dark Knight . . .
Say – anyone could think of that,
Dick or Kevin or Dan or Pat
Say, even Terry could think of that.

But it isn’t too late to make one little change.
This story is about Yoenis Cespedes!  No longer on the driving range!

He’s got plenty of power and size,
You can see the opposing pitcher with fear in his eyes.
A then, the sound system emits a loud tone,
Cespedes the Lion King!  Perched high on a throne!

Say!  That makes a batter that no one can heel,
When I say that I saw it at Citi Field.

But now I don’t know . . .
It still doesn’t seem right.

A Cespedes swinging a bat that’s so light
Would hit balls around in the air like a kite.

But he’d look simply extreme
With a great New York Mets team!

A team that’s that good should have someone to see it,
Wins coming so fast, the Nationals finding it hard to keep near it.
Nationals always the trailer!  They’ll be out of their mind
Not even Daniel Murphy can get them out from behind.

But now is if fair?  Is it fair what I’ve done?
Before they take the field, they’ve already won.
That’s really too heavy a load for one beast;
I’ll give him some helpers.  He needs two, at least.

Michael Conforto to do the trick,
To guide them after the intentional walk schtick –
It takes a lineup to do the trick.
They’ll never lose now.  They’ll race at top speed
With Curtis Granderson, himself, in the lead.

The Manager is there
And he thinks it is grand,
And he raises his hat
As they rise from their seats in the stands.

The Manager is there
Sandy Alderson too,
All waving big banners
The stands are becoming a zoo.

And that is a team whose championship is sealed
When I say that I saw it at Citi Field!

With a roar of its motor an airplane appears
The pitcher steps off the mound and everyone jeers.

And that makes a story that’s really not bad!
But it still could be better.  Suppose that I add . . . . . . . . .

. . . A David Wright
Who can stay upright . . .

A big Duda
Swinging sticks . . .

A Jacob deGrom
And his garden gnome . . .

No time for more,
Cespedes’ coming home.

He swung ’round third base
And dashed towards the plate,
The Mets ran up the steps
And I felt simply GREAT!

FOR I HAD A STORY THAT NO ONE COULD YIELD!
AND TO THINK THAT I SAW IT AT CITI FIELD!

But Dad said quite calmly,
“Take the parking pass off the windshield
And tell me the sights
That you saw at Citi Field”

There was so much to tell, I JUST COULDN’T BEGIN!
Dad looked at me sharply stroking the beard at his chin.
He frowned at me sternly from there from the front seat,
“Was there nothing to look at . . . no great feat?
Did nothing excite you or make you jump out of your seat?”

“Nothing,” I said, now becoming more even-keeled,
“But a Matz pitching to d’Aranud at Citi Field.”

The End.

Last year’s story “One Strike, Two Strikes, Three Strikes, You’re Out!” can be found here

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

 

Best Potty Training Advice: Buy Crocs

Look every kid is different, and accordingly, they are going to respond differently to different parenting techniques.  This is no more true than potty training.  Regardless of what anyone told you, there is no one size fits all approach.  There is just whatever technique works best for your child.  With that in mind, I’ll only offer one piece of advice to parents who are in the process of potty training their children.

Buy Crocs.

When you are in the process of potty training, there are going to be a lot of accidents.  As a result, you may very well find yourself doing laundry near the levels you once did when your child was an infant.  Underwear, pants, shirts, socks, and even shoes will get wet on at least one occasion.  The underwear, pants, shirts, and socks are easy to clean.  The shoes are a different matter.

If you are like me, you like the light-up sneakers because it gives you a (false?) sense of security when you’re in public.  Run those shoes through the washing machine, and they’re most likely no longer lighting up anymore.  Most likely, you will only have one pair of sneakers for your child meaning when those sneakers go through the laundry, you have to wait for them to come out before you go anywhere.  That is unless you want to put your child in water shoes, flip flops, slippers, snow boots, or whatever else you have on hand.  Depending on your child’s mood, this could lead to a temper tantrum or worse.

Now, if your child had the accident while wearing Crocs?  You just wipe ’em down, and move along.  That’s the beauty of these rubber shoes.  They don’t get soaked.  They don’t need to be run through the washing machine.  They’re quick and easy to clean.  It’s going to make your life so much easier during a process that can be very trying at times.

If and when you are going to start potty training, make sure you get the Crocs first.  Let your child get accustomed to them, so when the time does come, it is not too many things at once.

Overall, Crocs have made the process much easier for me, and I hope it will make it easier for you as well.

 

Sign Your Child Up For Ice Skating Lessons

In December, we fantasize about the cold weather and the snow.  It’s all part of the magic and wonder that is part of the Christmas season.  You dream of sleigh rides, curling up in front of the fire, and of course, the White Christmases.  By the time January rolls around, the cold weather and snow is nothing more than anything that keeps you locked inside the house.  If you have a toddler, you’re locked inside the house without a real outlet to let your child burn off all of that energy they have.

With that in mind, my wife and I made a concerted effort to make sure we signed our son up for something this winter.  In the past, we had done Gymboree.  However, at three my son is way too old for it.  Frankly, around two years old, you are really at the point of diminishing returns.  So, it was time for something new.

We debated on a number of different options.  Swimming lessons in the winter are much too expensive.  Gymnastics seemed like a good outlet to run around and burn off some energy.  There were a few more options we inquired about, but ultimately, we decided to go with ice skating lessons.

There are a few good reasons for it.  The first is the ice skating lessons near us was reasonably priced, and it included free ice time so the children can practice what they learned in their lessons.  Second, ice skating is great exercise, and it is something more apt to tire our son out and lead to him taking a nap on the weekends.  Third, it is a unique skill set that is easier to teach now when he has no fear that when he is older and may have some fear of falling on the ice.  Fourth, unlike gymnastics, this is an activity he can do throughout his life.  Fifth, and perhaps most importantly, this is something I can do with him.

Two notes on that.  First, there is no way I’m ever going to try the rings.  Second, and this is important, ice skating is not like riding a bike.  I hadn’t skated in about 20 years, and when I hit the ice, it felt like it was my first time skating.

One added benefit we had in the ice skating experience was we spoke with one of our son’s friends, and his parents signed him up for the same class.  As with anything in life, it is better to have a friend go with you than to try something alone.  The lessons are going great.

The first lesson took place off the ice.  The children were taught by the instructors how to fall.  While off the ice, the children were also taught how they should get up should they fall.  Lastly, they were taught how to balance themselves while on the ice.  After that, it was time for them to hit the ice.

This is where an added benefit came into focus.  The children were out there on their own.  In fact, the parents were told to sit in the stands rather than hang out by the glass.  The reasoning was they wanted the children to be focused on ice skating and not distracted by their parents.  It is a good rule, but it was still odd to find yourself in the position of not being out there or being too close to your son.  Ultimately, that is a very good thing.  When my son fell, which was quite often, he didn’t look for me or my wife.  Rather, he just got up, and tried again.

That brings up another benefit.  Your child is going to learn how to do something without you.  Your child not only is becoming more independent, but they are also getting a sense of accomplishment.  This isn’t daddy holding his hands and skating him around the rink.  It is him going out there on his own, falling down, picking himself up again, and then trying again.  This builds character.  It builds confidence.  Utlimately, this is the exact reason why we want our children playing sports.

There is also the pride you feel in seeing your child succeed out there.  Certainly, it was great seeing how well he did in his first class, and how well he’s doing:

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​I have to admit, part of me got way ahead of myself, and I was imagining him skating on the Garden Ice for the Rangers.

Overall, whether you have a boy or girl, ice skating lessons have tremendous benefits for both the child and the parent.  I know this is something we will continue in the future.

Sing Is A Good Movie For Toddlers

Since becoming a parent, one thing that continues to bewilder me is the line of demarcation between movies Rated G and movies Rated PG.  For example, the movie Finding Nemo is Rated G despite the opening scene alluding to Nemo’s mother along with many of her eggs being killed.  Later on in the movie, we have a shark chase as well as Nemo pretending to play dead.  Honestly, when you see a movie like this it at least gives you pause before bringing your three year old to see a movie Rated PG.  Honestly, based upon the Rated G baseline set by Finding Nemo, you are led to believe a PG movie would include war and famine.

Thankfully, none of these were issues with the movie Sing.

When I bring my son to a movie, I typically have one eye on the movie and one eye on him.  I can assure you he had no emotional reactions to anything in Sing like he had to those aforementioned death scenes in Finding Nemo.  Overall, I had no issue taking him to see the movie, and we would watch it again.  If you are looking for issues, they are as follows:

  1. Some scenes of stealing – there is an ape gang and the protagonist uses long extension cords to steal power from nearby businesses
  2. Animals crying – one was afraid of auditioning and one had a breakup with her boyfriend
  3. Bears threatening to harm a mouse and almost eating him
  4. There is a flood and a building collapse with the threat of animals drowning (they don’t)
  5. A minor jail break

There are some other potential issues that you will see elsewhere that aren’t real issues unless you think your toddler saying “Holy Moly!”  One characters false eye keeps popping out, but it is funny.  There are parents that are tough/domineering with their children, but that’s really just life.  There are animals that dress up in speedos and leotards.  If they were on people, it may be sexual in nature, but on the animated animals, it was amusing.

Overall, it was a funny movie with enough in it to keep the parents entertained.  There was a wide spectrum of songs from Katy Perry to Elton John to Frank Sinatra.  There were a number of moments with the mother pig that gave you an extra chuckle or two.  Speaking of the mother, she created an ingenious way to care for her kids while she was auditioning that is going to make you go home and try to figure out how to put all of your child’s toys to good use.

Mainly, this was a really good movie to bring your toddler to see.  The over-riding themes of the movie were to: (1) never give up on your dreams; (2) it takes hard work to accomplish your goals; and (3) overcoming your fears is a worthwhile endeavor.  These are all things you want to instill in your children.

One interesting side note is since we saw the movie, my son has become re-focused in his love of music.  He is now much more prone to play his piano or pick up his guitar at home and sing a song.

 

In the end, I am happy we saw the movie as a family.  I hope that you get the time to go out and see this movie as a family as well.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from my family to yours. 


Hope Santa was good to you too. 

Amazon Video Is Better Than DVD or Blu Ray

Now that my son is getting older, he has become more and more interested in watching movies and different shows than just watching some clips of shows here and there.  While used to get away with watching what was available on the PBS Kids, Disney, Nick Jr, etc apps, my son has developed more definitive interests in not just certain characters, but also certain episodes or movies.

That becomes an issue when a episodes is taken off of the app, or your so sees something on TV that never makes its way onto the app in the first place.

When I was a child that usually meant my parents would have to go to the video store (remember those?), or they would have to breakdown and go to the store and buy the movie.  At different points in my youth, I remember having G.I. Joe, Gumby, He-Man, and Transformers VHS tapes.  My brother and I would watch them over and over and over again.  Harking back to that time, I actually thought of purchasing some videos to have for my son.

Because everyone first checks there for stuff nowadays, I first went to Amazon to look for the videos.  During my search, I began to notice many of the videos I was looking for were available for rent or purchase as a digital download.  At a minimum, I was intrigued.

One thing I noticed early on is renting the videos made little to no sense.  Let’s take Finding Dory as an example.  Right now to rent this movie, it will cost $5.99.  For only $14.00 more, you can buy the video.  In essence, the cost of buying the video is three rentals.  If you have a child, you realize that if your child likes the movie, you are renting it three times or more.  More importantly, if your child does like the video and you now have to purchase it, the cost is going to be $25.98 to you instead of the $19.99.  If you know your child well, and I assume that you do, you will know what your child likes.  If that is the case, just buy the video.

Now, the reason why buying the video for $19.99 is superior to purchasing the Blu Ray for the same price or the DVD for $2 less for a few reasons. First, with the download, you don’t have a Blu Ray/DVD that can be lost and damaged.  Second, with the digital download, you can access the movie anywhere you want.

My family has a Roku stick which is transportable.  I can use that Roku stick to watch Finding Dory in my house, my son’s grandparent’s houses, or really anywhere we go that has an internet connection and a television.  There are also apps for your phone or tablet that will permit you to watch the video no matter where you go.  And with that, you will always have the movie with you so long as you can get an internet connection.

Another advantage with Amazon is the daily specials they have.  For example, I was able to purchase The Peanuts Movie for $4.99 when now it costs $14.99 (assuming you don’t have Prime or HBO).  I was also able to get Finding Dory for $9.99.  Fact is, there are always specials like this.  You just have to keep your eyes out for them.  Of course, with the Roku, you can create a “Watch List” which will alert you to the price changes.

Overall, if you are looking to get a video for your child, it is better to get it on Amazon Video and watch it on a mobile device or a Roku.  If you are giving it to your child for Christmas, just give them a coloring book or something and tell them Santa also got the video.  Trust me, they are not going to care if they get to play with the DVD or watch it on the TV.