Since WEJr’s first birthday last week, it seems like our toy collection has rapidly expanded.  We got him toys, both sets of grandparents got him toys, and a couple of friends also contributed to the growing pile of stuff.  It’s quite cute, because he is now old enough to actually entertain himself with toys for a short period of time.  Mostly, he just carries them around, chews on them, or otherwise misuses or abuses them.  When he plays with them correctly (in the way they were designed), it’s completely by accident.  It’s so fun to watch him figure them out, and even have preferences for certain toys.  Before, it was always us trying to entertain him or distract him, but now it’s him doing it to himself.  Who knew he’d become a real-live person?!?!

With the newfound collection of toys, though, I’ve come to a new depth of understanding about the toy world.  Originally, I was holding the line at “no toys with batteries”, though I’ve now completely lost that fight.  I now understand there are really a lot of other types of toys parents should fear and dread just as equally as battery-powered toys:

Toys that have batteries:  The frustration here isn’t just that you have to replace the batteries, it’s that the time span where the batteries work and the child wants to play with the toy never totally coincide unless it’s the day the child receives the toy.  Beyond that the batteries are always dead at the worst time.  If you’re lucky, the toy will have some inherent value without the battery operated feature, but this is rarely the case.  Prepare for tears and sadness when the toy does not function.

Toys that are in pieces or sets:  With these toys, the minute the plastic wrap is removed, the toy falls apart into a million lose-able pieces.  The joy of toy is for the kid to put the toy together in various configurations, but the frustration of the toy is for the parent to keep those pieces out from under sofas, coffee tables, and in the same room.  Invariably, the parent ends up putting the puzzle together, putting the legos back in the bin, or putting all the other pieces away, just in time for the kid to come and dump them out all over again.

Toys that make noise:  These are the toys parents regret having the most.  Whenever the child figures out the noise-making capability, there will come a day when all you will hear – over and over – is that same noise.  You will hear it everywhere you go.  It will haunt you even when you are away from the toy and the child.  You will start to hear/speak in voices of the toys until, one day, you are driven so mad that you freak out and take a sledge hammer to the toy (my approach) or quietly throw the toy away (Aud’s approach).

Vintage toys:  Who doesn’t love the vintage, simple toys; blocks, trains, balls, bats, etc.  These are definitely my favorite toys because of their nostalgia and because of their hipness (I’m real hip).  WEJr is at the point, though, where his enjoyment of vintage toys is limited to chewing on them until the vintage, antiqued paint chips off into his mouth and teeth – which leads me to wonder if they were safely/non-toxically made…

As you can see, there is no perfect toy.  All toys are meant to make a parent’s life miserable.  But, they are extraordinarily necessary to keep your kid sufficiently distracted from your more expensive, adult toys that they seem to gravitate toward naturally.


Freakanomics: Economist’s Guide to Parenting

In the 1980’s the average young college educated mother spent 13 hrs per week on child care.  After declining for decades, in the late 90’s and early 2000’s the amount of time invested by parents has skyrocketed.  Now, the average is 22 hours per week.

But does it matter?  Is the extra time we are spending with our kids, chauffeuring them to and from activities, really making a huge difference?

In this freakanomics podcast, a group of economists spend the hour trying to figure out how much parents actually matter.

I strongly recommend taking the hour to listen:

What could economists know about parenting?


Settling Nature vs Nurture…


So what really does matter in the life of a kid?  If you had to focus on one thing that could have a huge effect on your child and on yourself as a parent, what would it be?


Seriously – best podcast I’ve heard… maybe ever.

It’s Graduation Time

**Deep Breath** … Ahh… the springtime allergens have hit the wind. The grass is greening and the home improvement projects that lay dormant for the winter call our names. Yes, friends. It is spring, and graduation season is in full bloom. Facebook has been bursting at the seams with pictures of graduating high schoolers, undergrads, and … … … kindergartners?

Continue reading It’s Graduation Time

Mental Preparation for WEJr

Two years ago, at this very time of year, I was a basket case.  I had met the love of my life, and was heading for the marriage altar.  We were engaged just before Christmas, and planned our wedding for mid-March.  We busied ourselves with work and wedding plans, but even that wasn’t enough of a distraction.  I was so excited to get married, I was a complete mad man!  January cruised by, but by mid-February time started to seriously drag.  By March, I went from counting down weeks to counting down hours.  In short, I was beside myself with excitement and anticipation to be married.

Now, two years later, I sit at the same time of year, gearing up for another event which will happen in mid-March, right around our two year anniversary: the birth of our first child, hereafter known on this blog as WEJr.

Continue reading Mental Preparation for WEJr

20 Week Ultrasound

We had our 20 week ultrasound yesterday, which gave us a glimpse of whether we’d be having a girl or boy…

It’s a BOY!!

A2 was so thrilled. She didn’t make her boy hopes much of a secret, and well… I didn’t much care either way – as long as he was growing healthily and normally – which he was. No concerns from the Doctor or sonographer.

There was some slight drama, because our appointment got reschedule, but for some reason the ultrasound didn’t get rescheduled as well – so we weren’t on the sonographer’s schedule. She was able to sneak us in, probably knowing that I would have flown off the handle at half of the office for making us wait another day or two to know.

So… one more big mental step is done. Every little step like this makes it feel more and more real.

Pinch me.

Acceptable Discrimination

I noticed something at our first OBGYN visit.  This particular OBGYN’s office was called “Associated Women’s Healthcare”.  After going, though, it should be called “Healthcare Administered by Associated Women.”

We arrived and all of the front desk people were women.  We went back and both nurses we saw were women.  The phlebotomist was a woman.  The sonographer was a woman.  The billing and insurance person was a woman.  Last but not least, the doctor was a woman.  There wasn’t a single man in the entire office, except the fathers-to-be.

There were women of all sizes, shapes, ethnicity, and background, but there was not a single man to be found.

I hesitate to believe that there just wasn’t a single qualified male doctor, nurse, phlebotomist, sonographer, or administrative assistant out there…

So why is it OK for this office to clearly discriminate against men in their hiring practices?

One of my favorite programs is NPR’s Planet Money.  They have a twice weekly podcast as well as a blog they keep up.  They regularly do stories for one of my other favorite programs, This American Life.  They have this incredible way of making economics relevant and interesting to people who aren’t economists.  It’s an incredible feat.

Here’s the deal though… just check out the names:

  • Adam Davidson, Correspondent
  • David Kestenbaum, Correspondent
  • Chana Joffe-Walt. Correspondent
  • Jacob Goldstein, Correspondent
  • Alex Blumberg, Contributing Editor

This is a list of some of the most Jewish names I’ve ever encountered. Now, certainly they have scores of staffers and interns who don’t have Jewish heritage, but it appears you have to have a very pronounced Jewish heritage to be an on-air personality for this show.

Look, I don’t have anything against women or Jews. I’m just saying, can you really so blatantly get away with stacking the cards with one class of individual without incurring the wrath of the government? Or do those anti-discrimination laws only apply to workplaces that are white, upper-middle-class, and male-dominated?

Just wondering…