31 March 2010

Strange(r) things we've learned in the past 31 days

Mission Accomplished. Thirty-one days, thirty-one blog posts. NaBloPoMo, you are finished.

It truly has been a strange(r) journey this last month, filled with good, bad, ugly, cute, awkward and – most definitely – strange. I didn’t miss a single day (thank you, Michelle) and, for the most part, stayed on topic.

Thank goodness for the holiday, since a break from blogging is just what the doctor ordered. Just get to sit back and enjoy some Easter dinner and 85 degree weather in the Carolinas.

So what did we learn?

We learned that Kaitlyn knows Mommy is a girl and Daddy is a boy and Boo-Boo is a dog. We learned about the fifth food group, that Mommy used to rock a leather bomber jacket and Daddy shouldn’t be left alone with Sweet Tea, lemonade and Absolute Citron.

We learned that my child is not only smart, but beautiful and uncoordinated. But most of all, we learned that we can reach our investment goals if we discuss our future with a SunTrust representative.

30 March 2010

Children's Show Traffic Jam

You'll have to excuse the sugary coma being experienced at Growing Up Kaitlyn. I'm swimming in bubble gum songs and cotton candy goodness.

Sunday was Curious George. Friday is Mickey's Rocking Road Show. We get the month of April off before Dora and Nick Jr. roll into Raleigh. That same week, Sesame Street Live makes its way into Greensboro. Thank goodness Yo Gabba Gabba decided to stay in the Midwest, otherwise I'd be living in a permanent Gabba Coma.

Kaitlyn's been quite spoiled going to these shows. It also helps that Uncle Rob gets some freebies from work and invites us all along (and remember, for all your banking needs, SunTrust).

But it's not necessarily the tickets, which if you're astute you can attend at a relatively good price or if you've got some hookups. Remember, all SunTrust checking accounts come with many, many money saving and time saving features and benefits - all at no extra charge to you.

It's the $8 chicken fingers. It's the $6 balloons. It's the $24 dolls. It's the $4 bottled waters. Granted, Michelle and I don't buy those things unless we're at Walt Disney World and need to keep Kaitlyn from melting down in the first five minutes at a theme park. But for some parents, it adds up quickly, especially if you've got multiple kids clamoring for a little piece of their favorite character.

Luckily Kaitlyn passes all those things with relatively little nudging. I can see the pain in the faces of parents waiting in those lines. But who knows? In another year or two she might go gaga over all this stuff and it will be me in that line, that pain on my face.

Until then, I will be thankful that it's not me walking out of the arena with motorized flashlights, oversized soda mugs and overpriced programs. That's money I can save for the future. A future I'm planning with SunTrust’s retirement specialists, who can help you develop a plan for the retirement you’ve dreamed of.

29 March 2010

Strange(r) Conversations with Kaitlyn

Mommy: Daddy, Kaitlyn is the greatest little boy in the world.

Kaitlyn: No Mommy.

Mommy: No? 

Kaitlyn: Kaitlyn girl, Mommy.

Mommy: Kaitlyn's a girl? Daddy, did you know Kaitlyn's a girl?

Kaitlyn: (giggles)

Mommy: And Daddy?

Kaitlyn: Daddy's a boy. Mommy's girl.

Mommy: And Boo-Boo? Is Boo-Boo a boy or a girl?

Kaitlyn: No Mommy. Boo-Boo's a dog.

28 March 2010

In Pictures: Strange(r)s in our house for an egg hunt party!

Well, they're really not strangers, but it fit NaBloPoMo (Can you believe there are only three days left?!?! Did I just jinx myself?!?!?! How long of a break am I going to take after this whole thing ends?!?! And who's more excited for the break -- me or my readers?!?!)

It's a busy weekend for the Growing Up Kaitlyn crew. Saturday was the First Annual Easter Egg Hunt, sponsored by Midas (not really, but wouldn't it be cool to get a sponsor? Goal for 2011: Get a Sponsor for the 2011 Growing Up Kaitlyn Easter Egg Hunt). Today we head to Curious George on stage at the Coliseum after YaYa and PopPop come over the breakfast, after Michelle goes dress shopping with Aunt Shannon and after we get the house back in order.

Did I mention it's a busy weekend?

Whoever decided 25 people, plus kids, in a tiny townhome at 9 a.m. was a good idea should have a good, stern talking-to.

They're off! The first two Easter egg hunters fly out the door.

The hunt begins.

The hunt continues.

Much like Halloween, the kids decide to see what they can exchange after pouring over their loot.

If you couldn't have guessed, Kaitlyn found the most eggs.

27 March 2010

Strange(r)s in my house: Egg Hunt

I was going to talk about how Michelle and I had about 200 people in our little tiny townhome for an Easter egg hunt, but I feel more compelled to write about my experience writing this blog.

So you know how I normally post a funny little image or something that goes along with the topic I'm writing about? If you don't, well then welcome to Growing Up Kaitlyn. Anywho, I was thinking, What's funnier than having 200 people in our tiny little townhome? so I decided to try and find a clown car image. You know, thinking 25 clowns in a Hyundai or something would be a cute little photo to go with this post.

You know what I found? A whole mess of images labeled "Vagina". No kidding. You know why? Because all of the images are in reference to the Duggars and OctoMom. I mean, I was looking for an innocent image of a bunch of clowns coming out of a VW Beetle or something and all I get are photos with a big ol' "V" plastered on them.

And you wonder why society is going down the toilet. Oh well, you'll hear more about the Easter egg hunt tomorrow, I guess. I have to get this bad taste out of my mouth.

26 March 2010

I know how your feel, Suri

Believe me, TomKat, I've feel your pain. I know how it feels to walk around the with prettiest little girl on the block. I understand how frustrating it could be that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, wants to take her picture.

Don't they understand that we're just real people too, just with the most adorable children on the planet? I mean, can't they just cut us a little slack?

I mean, it's bad enough my Kaitlyn can't just walk down the street without being photographed by someone in the bushes or the random camera phone. But it's getting a little much with all the Web sites and blogs that are insatiable.

How do you do it TomKat? Do you and Brangelina get together and talk about this stuff? Do Jen and Ben come over and let Violet and Seraphina play with Suri while the four of you commiserate over paparazzi?

Unlike you Hollywood types, I don't have the network you rely on; no agents, no security teams, no PR reps that can spin the media maelstroms. Just me, Michelle and Kaitlyn fighting our way through a sea of flash bulbs, awkward stares and not-so-silent whispers.

Is that them? Should we ask for an autograph? A photo? A lock of hair?

The answers are yes, sure, maybe and get away freak. I mean, we're regular people too. Beautiful regular people, but regular people nonetheless.

"People want to see if celebs are really like us," [Jenny] Schafer [senior editor for] said. "Do their children have temper tantrums in public? Do their children use soothers? Do they ever get frustrated in public with their kids?"

Those answers are yes, yes and heck yes. But just because we are beautiful and awesome and loved by all doesn't give you the right to pry when I'm having a turkey club for lunch and Kaitlyn's fingers-deep in applesauce because she didn't want her chicken fingers. Give me five minutes to clean her up and maybe then -- maybe -- we'll sign your napkin. Just know it definitely won't happen if you're snapping your cell phone mid-chew.

So TomKat, I feel your pain. TomKitten's cute, for sure, but at least you've got a full squadron making sure everything goes according to plan. Try taking my Kaitlyn (who is so much cuter than your kid) out without a battalion of staffers and see if you make it through the day. You wouldn't last five minutes.

25 March 2010

A win for responsible parents: Spankings not child abuse, jury says

I admit it: I have spanked Kaitlyn. Twice actually. The first time was when she was just over a year old and decided to a dish from Michelle’s grandmother as a shot put. The second time was this past weekend when Kaitlyn darted into the parking lot of Kohl’s on Wendover Avenue. But each time, I looked at her and explained why she was punished and told her that Daddy loves her and just wants her to be careful.

To some, that might sound hypocritical (You spank her and tell her you love her?) but the fact is Kaitlyn doesn’t know that yet. What she does know is she did something Daddy didn’t like and that she got punished harshly for it. Action-reaction.

She doesn’t get spanked for spilling milk. She doesn’t get spanked for repeating bad words (ugh on me). She doesn’t get spanked for telling us “No.” She doesn’t even get spanked for hitting Mommy and Daddy, since we know she’s really just playing and doesn’t realize she’s actually “hitting.”

Believe me, I don’t want to spank. But sometimes timeouts just don’t work. And it’s not like you can reason with a two-year-old, no matter what some new-age hippies tell you.

Nevertheless, some people will always consider spankings cruel and unusual punishment. And they will press charges and get good, responsible parents who don’t abuse the tactic in trouble. Our only defense and hope is that a jury of our peers will realize not all of us are Joe Jackson.

Case in point: Just this week, a local man was acquitted of child abuse charges filed after the boy’s mother (the couple is separated, which may or may not have played a role in the charge) noticed red marks on the boy’s bottom:

Michael David Ward, 37, of Kilby Street in Burlington admitted he had spanked his son last spring after the 8-year-old boy disobeyed his order to stay away from an old boat while he played outside and later lied about it, defense attorney Rick Champion said … Champion said his client used a belt to spank the boy in the buttocks. He said the boy testified during the trial that the spanking hurt and that he cried at the time, but it didn't bother him later … He added the boy said that after his father finished punishing him, he gave him a hug and the boy continued playing as usual.

Ward had a previous child abuse charge against him, too: “Ward was on probation for a misdemeanor assault on a child under 12 charge for a 2007 incident also involving his son. On that occasion, Champion said, the boy had doused himself in fabric freshener. Thinking the boy drank some of it, Ward panicked and grabbed the boy's face to check his throat with such force that it left a mark on the boy's face.”

One guess who likely levied that complaint, too. Spanking isn’t ideal; I’ll be the first to admit it. But sometimes it is effective. Many parents understand this is a fine line that gets crossed by the dumb parents out there who themselves probably deserve a belt to the bottom.

24 March 2010

Strange(r) Parenting: There's an app for that ...

Just recently I got my baby back. Granted, it came with the provision that I get a new baby for my wife, but it was a small price to pay to once again be connected to the world I once knew.

One of the things I loved about my iPhone when I first got one nearly a year ago was that it wasn't just a new toy, but it was my toy. Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, Skype. Had'em all on the iPhone before we had them on the laptop at home. Now, though, that toy with all those fun gadgets has become ... mainstream.

I mean, everyone and their mother (well, not my mother) has an iPhone. And it's the moms and dads that are using these things -- and the evidence is in the apps.

If you haven't seen, parenting apps are all the rage. Need a baby monitor? There's an app for that. Are you a new parent who wants to know how many poopie diapers you changed last week? There's an app for that. Want to keep track of your nursing sessions for some ungodly reason? There's an app for that. Are you an annoying list making mother who constantly needs to know what to bring anywhere you go with your baby Michelle? There's an app for that.

What's next? I've heard rumors of an app that will actually tell you what your baby's cooing means. I've heard of rumors of an app that will diagnose your child's symptoms and recommend a course of action. I've even heard of an app that automatically alerts Angelina Jolie when a child is born so that she can start the adoption process.

23 March 2010

Strange(r) Fairy Tale Endings

Normally I don't pass email Fwd: along, but this isn't like normal Fwd: messages. I have to give the credit to good ol' Aunt Jo Ann, since she sends about 250,000 a dozen of these each week, this one in the latest batch.

Without further adieu, your Strange(r) Fairy Tale Endings:


"Snow White"

"Little Red Riding Hood"

"Sleeping Beauty"


"Beauty and the Beast"

"The Little Mermaid"

22 March 2010

The Epitome of Strange(r) is Michelle Writing This Blog…

Let me introduce myself, my name is Michelle and for those that know me and know the truth, you know that I am among many other things the “Rock” behind “Growing Up Kaitlyn”. For without me, there would be no Kaitlyn!

You may be wondering why I am writing this blog today and I’m sad to say that I have officially infected the house with my germs and James is feeling so bad that he can’t bring himself to brag about Kaitlyn, I mean blog about his angel…so you know he must really feel bad. He called me begging me to write something so that he could keep up with this whole “Strange(r) Challenge” – which for the official record, I do NOT understand and think this blog should be 78% about Kaitlyn and 22% about me, but hey, what do I know? But before I continue I would like to use this opportunity to apologize to my dear husband for spreading my germs, despite my best effort to keep this house sterilized because I know how crappy I felt for the last week.

It didn’t take me long to figure out what I was going to write about once the begging was over so I hope that you enjoy and it provides you with a glimpse into my heart– please remember that I was not an English major like James so spellin an grammer didn’t count.

The Top Ten Reason’s I love my Husband… (there really is no particular order for these except #1)

10. James understands how important my job and the teens I work with everyday are to me. He has moved more boxes, served countless pieces of pizza, and attended more TRU events then any spouse should have to.

9. As you have read in a previous post, James knows that loving me, means loving Teddy. And I would like to point out, that in the almost 9 years we have been together, he has never once hung Teddy by his neck on our ceiling fan like some of my friends…you know who you are LD, ER, MR, SS

8. He still gives me butterflies in my tummy, even if he is going gray and has the cholesterol levels of an 84 year old man.

7. He only makes fun of me once and a while for watching new and old episodes of Beverly Hills 90210, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, 16 and Pregnant, Keeping Up with The Kardashians, and every other teen drama and stupid reality show out there. In fact he even bought me “the Newlyeweds” series – that’s right Nick and Jessica forever and he has been known to hum along to the theme music to 90210.

6. James knows how important my family (which includes his family whom I love dearly even if I don’t write or call and tell them that enough)and friends are to me. He knows that when I get around some of them, I revert to being fifteen and while it annoys him sometimes, I know that it makes him happy to see me so happy. What can I say, “once a nudge, always a nudge!”

5. James LOVES to shop as much as I do. He is the crazy fool you see in line at 3am on Black Friday. Doesn’t matter if it is for t-shirts, video games, furniture, or groceries…he’s there with me and is always there with his opinion. Does this surprise any of you?

4. I don’t need to impress him, although he may not realize that I still like to try sometimes. He doesn’t care that I wear shorts and a t-shirt to bed, that my legs aren’t shaved or that I can eat my weight in ice cream (with sprinkles of course) he thinks I’m beautiful no matter what.

3. He knows that traditions are so important to me, probably more than they should be and he knows that it is important that we pass traditions on to Kaitlyn. He happily reads the “Night Before Christmas” on Christmas Eve with me, celebrates “Peanut’s Day” (Kaitlyn’s half birthday) and carves pumpkins without any begging on my part.

2. He makes me laugh. Granted, sometimes I am laughing at him, but does it really matter since I’m still laughing? (Smiling…Not Smiling ;)

1. He gave me the greatest gift in the world, my beautiful daughter Kaitlyn Riley. I watch him with her and sometimes I start to well up with tears, because of the love he has for her. They have such a special bond and all of us, including Boo are happy to call him “daddy”.

My dear James, in case I don’t tell you enough I love you, always and forever…

21 March 2010

Too Lazy for NaBloPoMo, So We Shop Instead

For some reason I decided it was a good idea to go shopping to Old Navy and Kohl's with Michelle just as we both got paychecks. We ended up with another new Spring wardrobe for Kaitlyn. Oh well, it doesn't fit the whole "strange(r)" theme, but we can't win them all now can we?

20 March 2010

Strange(r) Days: The End Is the Beginning Is the End

Sometimes a couch isn't just a couch. You don't know because only I know. If you knew and I didn't know, then you'd be teaching me instead of me teaching you - and for a student to be teaching his teacher is presumptuous and rude. Do I make myself clear?

You might be wondering why we're here talking about a Pottery Barn sleeper couch. But this isn't just any couch. This couch has been part of this family's life since the beginning. It was a perfect gift, since we couldn't have afforded it if we went to buy it ourselves. It's made its way from New Jersey to North Carolina, High Point to Greensboro to the B.F.E. Whitsett.

It's seen plenty of visitor's rumps and bumps, had overnight guests from Florida, New Jersey, Virginia, California and I even think Maryland. Maybe it was D.C., but potato, potatoe.

I had my nights on the couch for illness, late-night sleeplessness and pregnant-belly-taking-up-my-side-of-the-bed. But not fighting; never go to bed angry, Michelle says. So no fighting nights for you, couch.

You've been good to us, couch, but we've been good to you. Even bought you a new slip cover especially made for you and your kind. Gave us a heart attack to see how much regular price actually costs (thanks, Pottery Barn), but luckily we found one on deep discount. You've worn it nicely ever since.

But today we found a chink in the armor. After a night on the couch (illness on Michelle's part), I went to fold you back up. You wouldn't fold back in. Finally I saw that the steel leg that folds back into the couch has snapped, hanging there off the frame. I was able to fold it in and get the couch back to normal, but is there ever a "normal" for a broken sleeper couch?

19 March 2010

Strange(r) Than Fiction: Depressing News

Came home from work today and looked at the top news stories on the local newspaper's Web site. Here are three of the top six headlines:

"Man charged with taking indecent liberties with a child"

"Man wanted in rape of 6-year-old girl"

"Stokesdale man to spend up to 131 years in prison for raping teen"

I didn't even stay to read the rest of the newspaper. And normally I hyperlink stories when I find them, but I'm a little to depressed after reading those headline.

Hug your child.

18 March 2010

Graco angers parents, doesn't build chairs from super-duper titanium that encases child in bubble

I don't get are parents who get all in a tiff over the fact that stuff might not last forever. Case in point: Graco's latest recall, which is due to "screws holding the front legs of the high chair can loosen and fall out" and that cracking plastic brackets can cause the high chair to "tip over unexpectedly."

These tip-overs resulted in 24 reports of injuries, including bumps and bruises to the head, a hairline fracture to the arm, and cuts, bumps and bruises and scratches to the body.

More than 1.2 million units have been recalled because of these bumps and bruises, which some have even called "Another Dangerous Baby Furniture Risk." Funny thing? The two dozen instances happened over a six year period. But some people still want to cause even more alarm, like this blogger:

Still yet, a high chair that tips over could really seriously hurt an infant if they land on a hard surface or hit something on their way down.

Funny, but I didn't think that serious injury from falling on hard surfaces or hitting something while falling down was limited to sitting in a high chair.

17 March 2010

Strange(r) Danger: British Lady Dictates Child-Rearing

I think Michelle and I do a pretty good job with Kaitlyn. First, she’s still alive. Second, she still has all her fingers and toes. Third, she’s bigger than a Thanksgiving turkey. Fourth and most importantly, she’s still smiling and giving us hugs when she sees us.

In my book, that’s four-for-four. But some people might see a flaw in my parenting style. They might offer suggestions. They might even send some help.

Enter SuperNanny.

The ABC show (I can’t call it a hit show since I don’t know a single person who has ever watched a whole episode) is heading to Greensboro this weekend for casting calls. Apparently someone let them in on my little Strange(r) Danger post from a week back and thought, “This guy lets his kids play? We need professional help. We need SuperNanny!”

If you haven’t seen the show, a British broad is brought into a completely insane home with completely insane parents and completely insane children to transform them into an insanely complete family.

I thought about this long and hard and even sent Michelle an email:

Me: SuperNanny coming to Greensboro! Do we participate? LOL
Michelle: Totally!

Now I don’t know if she was serious or not, considering her mission in life is to get Kaitlyn “discovered.” I’m guessing she was kidding (please God, tell me she was kidding), but I started to wonder just what SuperNanny would try and improve on.

SuperNanny: Dad, I see you like to write about your dealings with Kaitlyn on the internet. Have you ever thought about how she might feel about this?
Me: No. She's 26 months old.
SuperNanny: Not now, but when she gets older and can understand these things.
Me: Well SuperNanny, I would hope that she would look back on this and see that we did everything we could to raise her right and have fun doing so.
SuperNanny: But you talk about some rather unkind things.
Me: Such as?
Supernanny: Your daughter's weight, for starters. You call her fat.
Me: Yeah. It's cute and funny.
SuperNanny: But don't you think she might develop self-esteem problems later on while reading how her father felt about her growing up?
Me: Um, no. Besides, my wife and I love her no matter what, even if she doesn't grow out of her Butterball figure and looks like you when she grows up.
SuperNanny: Um, okay. Moving on. Now Dad, how do you praise Kaitlyn when she does something good?
Me: Usually with marshmallows. Couldn’t you tell by the belly? Looks like you’ve had a couple marshmallows yourself.
SuperNanny: Dad, that’s not proper. You should make jokes about your daughter’s weight. But it’s good you’re offering some kind of reward. But maybe you should try something a little healthier, like apple slices.
Me: You didn’t answer my question. Have you been sneaking into Kaitlyn’s marshmallows? Kaitlyn might kick you if she finds out.
SuperNanny: Is that a problem with Kaitlyn? Does she act out and roughhouse with other children? Maybe when she doesn’t get her way?
Me: Only if you’re taking her marshmallows. And you’re dodging the question.
SuperNanny: No I am not. Do you have any hot cocoa?
Me: Give me back the marshmallows, SuperNanny.

16 March 2010

Dora exploring a little more than we thought

Kaitlyn loves her some Kids on Demand from Time-Warner. I mean, she gets her daily fix of Dora the Explorer, Go Diego Go and the other Crack for Children wonderful programming that's available to her age set.

Luckily, though, she wasn't watching sometime around 10 a.m. Tuesday, since she would have gotten a little more than expected:

An 'equipment failure' caused preview clips for adult programming to appear on two channels dedicated for kids in North Carolina ... [Company spokeswoman Melissa] Buscher said the problem appeared on two "Kids on Demand" channels that were showing viewers a list of children's programming such as Dora the Explorer. 'Instead of being a preview for kids programming, you got a preview of adult programming,' she said.

Yikes. Luckily all is right with the world and they apparently fixed the problem. I'll let you know if they didn't when we go home later tonight and a preview for "Dora Does Dallas" is running across the screen.

15 March 2010

In Pictures: Strange(r) Days Before Motherhood

Michelle always tells me that I missed her in her prime. I don't necessarily know what that means, considering she's pretty good now. Maybe she didn't nag or complain as much back then. Maybe she had friends on the Swedish Bikini Team. I don't know.

While we can't go back in time to relive those days (unless we're John Cusack, which we aren't), we are very fortunate that Michelle loves pictures so much she keeps them. Forever. So instead of just wondering what it might have been like, we can actually see what it might have been like.

And as I write this, I sorta kinda think I should have done this on my last day of NaBloPoMo, since Michelle actual might kill me once she sees this post. Pray for me.

Take note of the leather bomber jacket. 

If you look real closely, you can see the socks bunching around the ankles. That was the style back then, kids.

Nothing screams sexy like floral print sundresses with t-shirts underneath. 

14 March 2010

Nothing Strange(r) Going on Today

Okay, so sue me: Today wasn't really a strange day. No unexpected run-ins with people. No crazy events in our day-to-day activities. Nothing strange(r). Or strange, for that matter.

I have to be honest -- I don't know how people stay on this topic and keep with their typical blogging themes. If I really wanted to stay on topic, I could throw out some strange news headlines and whatnot, but I promised myself I would only do that once a week and that comes on Mondays.

I tried to wait all day long for something strange(r) to happen that I could blog about. I mean, we took Kaitlyn shopping in the morning. Nothing. We brought her for a walk pre-nap. Nothing. We took her to a friggin' Revolutionary (not Civil, even though my wife thought so) War re-enactment. You'd think you could find something strange(r) there. But besides the $4.50 price tag for bread and cheese (where are we, Russia?), there was nothing.

Uncle Art and Aunt Kari's for dinner with little Lily? Nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing. I mean, there was a little bit of playing with beer caps, but nothing crazy. Fact is, this blog is about Kaitlyn. The things she does, the things she drives us to do. How we deal with parenthood on a daily basis and how there's nothing else we want than the hug she provides each day we pick her up from daycare.

Something Sometimes there are truly strange things that happen. Other days are like today -- a little hairy at times, but nothing strange or unexpected. And while we like to joke and make fun of the times that make us laugh, it's days like today that are some of the best.

13 March 2010

Thank you to friend and strange(r) alike

Based on the rate that Growing Up Kaitlyn's been chugging along in recent weeks, today will mark a mini-milestone in this blog's illustrious, yet short-lived lifespan.

Pageview number 127 today will be responsible for the 10,000th for Growing Up Kaitlyn. Now, I've thought about visiting the main page of the site myself for the next hour and a half just to hit 10,000 myself, but I figured that would be a little selfish. I'll get there -- no need to rush it.

And while family and friends will have probably accounted for 9,899 of those pageviews once the magic number hits, I'm pretty sure a good 101 people have stumbled here via Google. Heck, I know they have since the Gap logo on one of my first posts still ranks as one of the highest searches related to my post (God love Google Image search).

So thank you everyone. It's been a fun ride.

12 March 2010

In Pictures: Kaitlyn's Strange(r) Times

I've been thinking, which is always dangerous: This blog has only been around since October (actually September, but it was only one day. I tend to think of that as the beginning of labor, but the real pushing ended October 1).

Taking that into account, I realize many of you never saw Kaitlyn 1.0, or what you could dub "The Quiet Year(s)". So I'm here to oblige with some of the strange(r) moments, pre-Growing Up Kaitlyn:

March 2008: Kaitlyn reads for the role of Mother Teresa in "Calcutta: The Musical!"

June 2008: They might look cool, but did you know they're actually made for dogs? Thanks, Nana

September 2008: Killer dog! Killer dog!

December 2008: Gene Simmons, eat your heart out

February 2009: Kaitlyn shows that her CPR training is paying off by checking her friend Lily's pulse

11 March 2010

Strange(r) Danger: Over-Concerned Mothers

Dirty looks are counterproductive most of the time. I mean, sure, you can occasionally get away with one and have your message conveyed properly, but most of the time it’s just annoying and makes me want to get up and smack that look off your face. Especially when it comes from a total strange(r).

Case in point: This past weekend, we took our houseguests to the Natural Science Center. During our excursion, we wandered into a part of the museum that had dinosaur-themed activities – two giant dino-bones puzzles, a play table with dinosaur toys for the little ones, a maze and some dino cut-outs that you poke your head in and take pictures. They also had a small triceratops that your lil’ ones could sit on.

Kaitlyn makes a B line to the triceratops because she loves her riding toys. Like any good dad, I’ve got camera in-hand waiting to take a picture. She lifts herself up onto this thing and does a pretty darn good job. Unfortunately, gravity gets the best of her and she plummets over the dino’s back and lands on the carpeted floor on the other side. And, like a good dad, I laugh and take a picture mid-fall (see right). Kaitlyn dusts herself off and goes right back to climbing this prehistoric toy.

End of story, right? Well, once Kaitlyn went ker-plat, this over-concerned pain in the ass woman ran over to Kaitlyn as if she was on fire. She leaned over my daughter to pick her up, but Kaitlyn was already halfway there and started back to the other side of the dino to try again. Between giggles, I thanked the woman for her concern. Nice dad, right?

Apparently not. The pain in the ass woman shot me the dirtiest of dirty looks and walked away. Throughout the rest of our time in the dino room, this woman gave me looks I thought were reserved for the likes of Hitler, Kim Jong-Ill and Rush. It was like I was John Mayer at an NAACP rally.

Now for all your over-concerned pain in the ass moms out there, I get it. You’re so caught up in the Oh my baby’s gonna die if they eat that peanut mentality that it shocks you someone might actually let their kid play on a toy dinosaur and get a bump on the head. That’s fine; swaddle your child.

But please, leave my kid out of it. If Kaitlyn falls of the dinosaur and something is actually wrong, I promise I'll put the camera down. If she skins her knee, she'll cry for a moment and then go right back to playing. Thanks for calling 911, but we don't need a medic for a scab.

And don't blame it on motherly instincts. Michelle was standing right next to me and laughed. Let Kaitlyn get right back up herself. You know why? Because nothing was wrong.

So over-concerned pain in the ass woman from the Natural Science Center on Saturday morning: don't pass judgment on me for letting my kid fall down. I don't criticize you for whipping your boob out to feed your eight-year-old, do I? Well, if you did that I probably would, but c'mon. There are better ways. Haven't you seen the breast milk cheese?

10 March 2010

Strange(r) Foods: Breast Milk Cheese in NYC

I have always thought to myself, Hey self, is there anything better in life than a nice cold glass of milk and some boobies? And the answer is simply, No self, there’s nothing better in life than a nice cold glass of milk and some boobies.

But the two are mutually exclusive. I don’t find myself rummaging through the fridge trying to find some leftover breast milk for my coffee. I just don’t see breast milk in that way. Maybe it’s because I watched Michelle struggle with breastfeeding. Maybe it’s because I subconsciously see the whole mother-child connection and don’t want to intrude on that bond. Maybe it’s because breast milk is a bodily fluid and you don’t see me drinking pee.

Whatever the reason, I believe breast milk isn’t for personal consumption after your infancy. But don’t tell that to Daniel Angerer and his wife, Lori Mason.

Angerer, chef and owner of Klee Brasserie in New York City, is putting Mother’s Milk on the menu in the form of homemade cheese. Apparently Lori was a milk machine after giving birth to their daughter and the couple had breast milk all over the place. So mad scientist boobie milk freak chef Angerer decided to cook up some boobie milk cheese:

After blogging about his efforts with the human cheese, customers started demanding a sample, he said. ‘The phone was ringing off the hook,’ the chef said. ‘So I prepared a little canapĂ© of breast-milk cheese with figs and Hungarian pepper.’

The fetish experiment has caught the attention of everyone from the media to mommy experts and even the New York City Health Department, which seems less amused. Per reports, it has asked Angerer to stop offering his wife’s milk to the general public, even though there is no specific law on the books prohibiting it: “The restaurant knows that cheese made from breast milk is not for public consumption, whether it is sold or given away,” a Health Department spokeswoman told the New York Post.

But the attention hasn’t stopped the usual freaks from coming out of the woodwork, according to Mason:

Some people who clearly have issues have . . . e-mailed me saying, 'I wasn't breast-fed as a child, so can I taste your breast milk?' ... I'm not here to walk people through their psychological problems.

Not unless they’re willing to spend some ducats on maple caramelized pumpkin encrusted with Mommy's Milk cheese on a bed of texturized concord grapes, that is.

09 March 2010

Strange(r) Things in Life: Pork Roll

There are few things strange(r) in life than one of the foods that brings such joy into my life: Pork Roll.

Now I understand that there are probably a few of you who have never heard of pork roll. Without using the phrase "little drops of heaven," there's no accurate description of Pork Roll. I mean, Wikipedia doesn't even know how to write about it:

Although the product is widely consumed and enjoyed, it resists accurate description. Some people compare the taste and/or texture to SPAM, Treet, bologna, mild salami, smoked summer sausage, or US-style Canadian bacon. In 1910 it was described as "a food article made of pork, packed in a cylindrical cotton sack or bag in such form that it could be quickly prepared for cooking by slicing without removal from the bag."

I've personally heard more accurate descriptions of Osama bin Laden's whereabouts, but that's neither here nor there. The fact of the matter is that once you take a bite into a perfectly grilled Pork Roll, Egg and Cheese on a Hard Roll (which means Kaiser Roll, people) with deli mustard, you haven't really lived. It's sort of like an initiation into true dining.

I mean, between a porker at Rice's, a Fat Knight from the Grease trucks, a large light and sweet at DD, a sausage pie from Chitch's and a sack full of burgers and rings at White Castle, there's a true New Jersey foodie lesson plan.

So today I salute you, Pork Roll. A strange(r) food, no doubt. A more delicious food, there may not be one.

08 March 2010

Strange(r) Than Fiction: Real Idiots

The latest from the Strange(r) Than Fiction file:

07 March 2010

Strange(r)s Among Us, Part III

Dear Kaitlyn,

I know you're all of 26-months old and all, but you're still a genius and therefore I believe you're old enough to read this letter.

You may have noticed Mommy crying in the corner earlier in the evening. I know, I know, but Daddy didn't put this baby in a corner. You see, Mommy's just sad because two of her best friends went home today. You know how sad you get when you can't find Buzz and Woody when you want to go to bed? Well that's how Mommy feels -- times a gazillion.

Mommy and Aunt Laura and Aunt Erin have been friends for a very, very long time, Kaitlyn. I mean, very, very long. They were friends when they were your age. Okay, not quite, but gosh darn close to it. And they still act the way they did when they first met. Which is kind of cute and silly and immature all at the same time.

Mommy and Daddy hope you have your own Aunt Laura and Aunt Erin when you get older, because they have been really good friends to Mommy. Granted, Aunt Laura took Mommy to the Dominican and got her in trouble a couple of times and Aunt Erin has some tendencies, but you get the gist. They're good people.

And you don't know how happy it made Mommy to share her friends with you this weekend. She loved how the girls ooh-ed and ahh-ed over you. She loved how well behaved you were, even though you still won't go to bed at a reasonable hour and keep sneaking out of your room because an imaginary bear that isn't even a bear is stalking you (we'll talk more about that later).

So if you see some sniffles coming out from Mommy over the next day or two, it's not because Daddy's pulling an Ike this week. Mommy's just sad because her best-est friends had to go home. But don't worry; you'll see them sooner than later. At least we hope so.

06 March 2010

Strange(r)s Among Us, Part II

So here we are, 9:46 p.m. on Saturday, barely made it to beat the NaBloPoMo deadline. And yes, our strangers are still here and happy.

Aunt Laura and Uncle Todd, strangers to Kaitlyn, are holding up pretty well with two toddlers running around the house. And for two people whom never met my daughter, she's taken a liking to them quite quickly.

We've shown our strangers around Greensboro, brought them to the Natural Science Center, ate real North Carolina barbecue and bought some good cigars. It's been a true southern vacation.

Now we're sitting around the house and the guys are listening to the girls talk about the first love of their life, as if they never left Sweet 16. Quite disturbing, I must say.

05 March 2010

Strange(r)s Among Us, Part I

Parents try to keep strangers away from their children. Michelle and I, on the other hand, are welcoming two into our house today.

Aunt Laura and Uncle Todd are making their way to North Carolina today to visit Michelle and I (for the first time). And, of course, Kaitlyn (for the first time). And Aunt Erin is coming back to North Carolina for her third trip, but this time she'll be bring her little bundle of joy, Emma.

Yup, you counted that right, four house guests for the next three days -- including two strange(r)s. At least this will give me a little bit of fodder to stay on topic for the weekend.

And just so you don't feel cheated because this is a short post, I've arranged a short video for you. On topic, of course. Enjoy:

04 March 2010

Strange(r) Things You'll Be Seeing

Here's a real stretch on the topic, but I think all of us NaBloPoMo-ers are allowed a slight slip. I mean, what could be strange(r) than a whole new look to Growing Up Kaitlyn?

That's right, it's about that time. Kaitlyn's growing up, so why shouldn't her blog grow up with her? And instead of just shoving something down your throat, I'm giving you, all two dozen (that's being generous, isn't it?) readers a say in the process.

Here are the options:

As with any template, it will have a little customization to it, including a new Growing Up Kaitlyn header and an actual logo for the blog. Any suggestions and comments on colors and the like are more than welcome. And if you happen to know a web designer who wants to create me a blog skin for absolutely nothing, then thing this little experiment will help direct that process. I mean, I'm good at this stuff, but I'm no pro.

There you have it. Voting starts today. Vote early and often. Kaitlyn appreciates it!

03 March 2010

Strange(r) Things in Life: Family

I don't have the luxury of sifting through piles and piles of comments. I have 17 followers (depending on which social media you subscribe to). That number would probably be around 30 if anyone in my family knew how to properly use Facebook, RSS, FriendFeed or any number of social media applications. I can't even get them to comment properly.

Take my sister Tracy, or Aunt TeTe as Kaitlyn knows her. She reads this blog religiously. I think she's commented on 80 percent of my posts. Problem is, Aunt TeTe doesn't comment on the blog. You see, when I set up this little creative outlet, I put family members on email alert. That in and of itself, I now realize, has probably cost me hundreds, if not thousands of pageviews. Good thing this isn't about money. Sigh.

But back to Aunt TeTe. Instead of shooting a comment on the blog (which I have asked her to do, to no avail), she replies to the email notification. Which is all well and good, since she's reading the posts, albeit in a different form. But as any good blogger knows, comments beget comments beget comments. And I've lost a good 80+ comments from Aunt TeTe alone. If you multiplied that by a reasonable 1.5 (figuring for every two comments, there would be a response from someone), I've lost another 40 comments from you, the general viewership.

Here's her latest comment, which came from the daycare post:

Hey - in Mexico. Tell Michelle this place is AMAZING! Sorry she could not join me, maybe next time... I´ll touch base with you guys next week. No cell service, but internet is very cheap $8/hour. Just wanted to let you know in case of any emergency... :-)

I probably lost a good eight to 12 thread comment list from that. They probably would have gone something like, "What are you doing in Mexico?", "No cell service? Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now?", "I know what else is $8 an hour in Mexico" and other classics.

I don't know what's strange(r): the fact that my wife apparently knew my sister was in Mexico while I did not, or the fact that my sister is willing to shell out $8 an HOUR to check email. Oh well, enjoy Mexico sis. You've just been blogged.

02 March 2010

Strange(r) Things on the Web: Chatroulette

As I said in my intro to NaBloPoMo, strange(r) is a topic that we as parents are always concerned with. Case in point: Chatroulette.

If you haven't heard about this yet, you likely will very, very soon. Chatroulette, as described by the Associated Press, "randomly links users with strangers who could be anywhere in the world. If you don't like the person who pops up on the screen, just click 'Next.' Repeat." And it was built by a 17-year-old from Russia.

Think of it as channel surfing, except with real people. Everyone's got a webcam, so you're essentially peeking in on people at random times. Its equal parts chatroom, Facebook and voyeurism. And that's where the problems begin.

You see, for every quirky techno-geek you may find singing a song about apples ala Randy Newman, you can also find yourself face-to-face with a perv who could be introducing you to his "lil' buddy." Pretty scary stuff, huh? That's what experts like Dr. Keith Ablow are saying about Chatroulette:

Parents should keep all children off the site because it's much too dangerous for children. It's a predator's paradise. This is one of the worst faces of the Internet that I've seen. It's disconnecting human relationships rather than connecting them.

Or how about Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children:

(It's) a huge red flag. This is extreme social networking. Absolutely random. No limits. Graphic sexual content. This is the last place parents want their kids to be ... A lot of kids are doing it in groups because they find it funny ... But you want to talk to them about what they're seeing, because who does that? Who just exposes themselves to a webcam and then waits for a pervert to come along?

Who indeed.

01 March 2010

Strange(r) things in daycare

I have been bringing Kaitlyn to the Big Girl Class at daycare for a little more than a month now. She actually loves it – she sees friends from her former toddler classroom, latches on to them and plays to her heart’s content. There are new toys and some new kids, especially boys (keep your grubby hands off her, boys. You’re not too young to get a smackdown from Daddy).

But one thing I am noticing is the prevalence of strange (ha! NaBloPoMo topic covered!) behaviors not from the kids, but the parents. I don’t profess to be the best parent, but I think I’m on the right track. And I’m sure you know how best to raise your own kid, but I’m allowed to shake my head at some of the things I see going on, right? For example:
  • I do think that it’s a little too early to be giving your 24-36 month old Biscuitville for breakfast every morning. Once in a while treat, especially on weekends? Cool. But having a sausage and egg biscuit each day is a slippery slope, is it not?
  • Long car trips almost require a DVD player to keep the tikes’ attention away from the seemingly never-ending confinement. I get that and have even used that tactic. Tinker Bell has saved me once or twice. But to use the DVD player for the five or ten minutes it takes to drive your kid to daycare?
  • Can we wait until, say, the sixth grade to begin hawking wrapping paper, cookie dough and other fundraising items? I promise not to do it if you don’t. And on a side note: If I do buy from you because your kid is too lazy to walk around and ask for himself/herself your teenager, you darn well better buy from my kid.
  • The classroom is having a holiday party (Valentine’s, Christmas, Arbor Day, whatever). A pack of mini cupcakes is $2.39 plus tax. A jug of apple juice is $3.49 plus tax. Holiday plates and napkins can be had at any dollar store in the country. I was semi-retired and still got my kid’s class a snack. We’re all contributing. Do your part.