Sunday, June 30, 2013

Fellow Airline Passengers, Meet Your Adversaries

We took our first flight with all three kids today, and it went reasonably well. (It was nowhere near as bad as the Portland trip in 2010 — when, ironically, we only had one child.)

But when you have a family of five, you have to do more strategizing about where to seat everyone. Would that stranger coming down the aisle rather sit next to a screaming baby, a rambunctious toddler or a seat-kicking preschooler? (I really did my best, but putting a 4-year-old within kicking distance of a seat back is like putting a drug addict in front of a whole bunch of crack.)

Really, there are no good answers. All of our children have the potential to be terrible seatmates, with their own unique techniques for annoying you. Apologies in advance if you're ever seated in our row.


Tactics: Tray-table flipping. Will ask you to explain every picture on the aircraft safety card.

Weaknesses: Temporarily distracted by the pet section of SkyMall catalog.


Tactics: Whining, wriggling, shrieking.

Weaknesses: iPad, cheddar bunny crackers.


Tactics: Screaming, pooping, hair pulling.

Weaknesses: Peek-a-boo.

Choose your opponent wisely.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

'Spring in the City'

I'm a bit late with this, since the first day of summer was June 21, but I created a documentary of our spring in New York.

It may seem odd that the kids are wearing jackets in much of the video, but it was fairly cold until a few weeks ago (hard to imagine now).

Friday, June 28, 2013

There You Go

On Wednesday I wondered why the Empire State Building hadn't followed the lead of San Francisco City Hall by celebrating the gay-marriage rulings with rainbow colors.

Well, tonight the whole skyline is awash with rainbows.

The Empire State Building (far left), the Condé Nast Building (one of the two spires to the right of the Citigroup Center) and the Bloomberg Tower (far right) are all lit up in multicolor splendor right now.

Of course, it's in honor of Pride Week, which would have happened regardless of the Supreme Court decision.

Still, good timing.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Missed Opportunity

As a close watcher of the Empire State Building lighting program, I was disappointed to see the landmark using its default white lights tonight.

Whatever you might think of the Supreme Court's decision today, it's a historic moment. Where's my rainbow, damn it?

San Francisco City Hall, of course, has been lit up in support of gay marriage since at least Tuesday night.

Photo courtesy of ABC7 News.

That's more like it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Representing the Bay Area in the Big Apple

I mentioned in April how our oldest no longer wanted to wear his Golden Gate Bridge T-shirt because it didn't feature New York. (That still stings, but he's outgrown the shirt by now anyway.)

Fortunately I have two other children who still have no say in the matter. And over the years we've accumulated plenty of baby and toddler clothing with Bay Area imagery.

An homage to San Francisco's Muni...

...the Golden Gate Bridge...

...and Muni again.

It's maybe odd to glorify a vastly inferior public-transit system in the home of the world-class MTA. (Not to mention the fact that Lulu is a native New Yorker who has never once left this fair city in her entire life.) But I've got to try and indoctrinate them while I can.

Friday, June 21, 2013

What Kanye West Got Right With His Baby-Name Choice

As a baby-name aficionado, I feel I must weigh in on what Kim Kardashian and Kanye West called their daughter: North West.

Photo illustration courtesy of the Daily News.

There's already been plenty of Twitter jokes at their expense, so I won't pile on here.

The obvious criticism is that it's a gimmicky pun — one that belies Kanye's considerable lyrical talents. (I do respect him as a musician. And hey, it's impressive that he managed to debut a new album and a new baby within three days of each other.)

North also is typically viewed as a boy's name, but that's a pretty minor quibble here.

What I like about North West is it's uncluttered. Just two simple syllables that are easy to spell. (Kim apparently wanted to name the child "Easton" — get it? — which would have been considerably worse.)

And unlike Blue Ivy, which many people felt should have been "Ivy Blue," North West feels like it's in the right order.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Even Better Than a Clip-On Tie

As I've mentioned before, my son likes to wear ties. So I was excited to see this line of boys' shirts with neckties stitched onto the front. (Hat tip: BuboBlog Scituate correspondent Amy.)

Photo courtesy of VeryJane.

The shirts preserve the charm and earnestness of a real tie, without the hassle and maintenance. (I had to take Elliot's tie to the dry cleaners recently, and I felt a little silly.)

You can always go the tuxedo t-shirt route, of course, but that seems better suited to a trucker-hat-wearing hipster. A 4-year-old boy wants to celebrate the tie — not subvert it.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

It's Like I'm Looking in the Mirror

As a surprise Father's Day gift, Kelly did a photo shoot with the kids where they pretended to be Dad.

Apparently the phone wasn't supposed to be part of the shoot, but the moment Alice heard what they were she doing she ran and got it.

(Father's Day resolution: Look at my phone less.)

Monday, June 10, 2013

How Not to Announce Your Pregnancy

BuzzFeed has an exhaustive collection of "cringeworthy" ways to reveal that you are with child.

A popular method: a gag photo where the husband looks like he could be the pregnant one.

Photo courtesy of BuzzFeed.

My wife and I never tried this, even though I probably would have been a good candidate.

However, I did reveal the gender of our second born in a less-than-tasteful manner.

Sorry about that.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

I Was Told There'd Be Food

Elliot asked me to take a video showing his dance moves. Alice had other ideas.

Also probably the best randomly generated thumbnail image on a YouTube video.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Are Dads Only Good for One Thing?

This Nissan ad caught my eye, both for its use of Salt-n-Pepa's "Whatta Man" and the portrayal of a dad as a bit of a dunderhead.

The husband is shunted aside throughout the 30-second commercial, only to redeem himself when it's time to strap a newborn into the car seat.

I resent this stereotypical depiction of fatherhood!

...if only because I'm not very good at installing car seats.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Our Son the Photobomber

Elliot hasn't yet outgrown his photo-wrecking tendencies. 

Nothing completes a family portrait like the blurred image of your 4-year-old in a Star Wars flight suit.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

In Search of a Very Uncommon Name

The New York Times printed a "First Person" column a few days ago on the modern challenges of choosing a baby name. (I'm not sure why Tintin is featured in the article's illustration, but I'm glad he finally stopped carousing with Captain Haddock and found a nice girl.)

Illustration courtesy of the New York Times.

The article focused on the eternal quest for names that are unusual but not weird (well, maybe a little weird).

The percentage of parents choosing names outside the top 1000 has climbed to 27 percent from 23 percent over the past decade. That means a lot of people are picking very out-there monikers for their little ones.

From the piece:
Keep in mind that “Maxton,” “Krish” and “Brecken” already were on the Top 1000. To get more obscure than those, you basically have to draw Scrabble tiles randomly, which is perhaps how parents come up with neologisms like “Cree,” “Izan” and “Emi” (for boys) and “Safi,” “Nanou” and “Esosa” (for girls), all of which cropped up for the first time last year among the 450,000 births to registered users of BabyCenter. 
“No one wants their kid to be one of 15 Aidens in the kindergarten class,” said Linda Murray, the site’s editor in chief.

Looking beyond the Top 1000 was not enough for Jenn Lewis-Gordon, a waitress in Lakewood, N.J. She and her husband crossed off any name that had been used more than 100 times in the entire country in the last year. This left “Ptolemy,” “Bombay,” “Thursday” and “Ocean,” as well as “Atlas,” their ultimate choice. “I feel as though he’ll be less likely to be a follower if he starts out from the beginning being different,” Ms. Lewis-Gordon, 35, explained.
I have to say, I kind of like Atlas.

You can't argue it's a not a real name. Atlas was a primordial titan, which means he predates Zeus. (And it's easy to spell!)

Atlas has at least 1,000 years on Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. What a bunch of hippy-dippy names those are by comparison.

So even though striving to be unique will often result in something like Moroccan Scott, it occasionally works out.

Harnessing the 'Power of Dad'

My friend (and former bookclub member) Heather helped create this sweet Father's Day-themed ad for Oral-B.

It's very touching, even if it makes me feel guilty for not teaching my kids how to actually do anything.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Classic Middle-Child Moment

This photo of a middle child's moment of reckoning has been circulating the Internet after appearing on Reddit.

Photo courtesy of Reddit.

As a middle child, I sympathize with the tyke.

Alice, meanwhile, has definitely handled middle-born status better than I did (she's very sweet to her younger sister).

But even she had her moment of reckoning, on the floor of the hospital where Lulu was born.

UPDATE: This isn't a middle-child photo (I don't think Lulu was even born yet), but it is one of my favorite depictions of being the second born.

'The Mystery of the Dead Camera'

Since "The Blair Witch Project" came out in 1999, the found-footage genre has spawned countless movies. Last year, I pondered whether the concept had run its course.

Little did I know I would soon have my own found-footage episode — one that, unfortunately, would result in the destruction of my camera.

Mostly it's a cautionary tale about not letting your 4-year-old use your electronics unattended.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

New York's Public Pianos

Yesterday we came across one of the 88 public pianos that are being set up across New York for a two-week run.

Each piano is designed by an artist, making the project similar to the fiberglass hearts that have periodically dotted San Francisco since 2004.

From the Daily News:
One of the 88 keyboards is entirely covered in artificial turf; another has been turned into a puzzle; and another is covered in hundreds of tiny, brightly-colored doors.
And unlike the hearts, the pianos are actually useful.

The Roosevelt Island piano is located near the Chapel of the Good Shepherd. When we got there, it appeared as if the instrument had only just been unwrapped. But a man was already sitting down, playing Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony.

This led to an impromptu dance session for the kids.

Another magical moment in the city. Well, until they started hitting each other again.