Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Potty mouth

Speaking of food, the adventures of potty training are such a joy.

When a baby starts eating solids he gets very constipated for a week or two. (All the more reason to start with high fiber fruits like pears.) This means he probably won't want to do bowel movements in his diaper so this is an excellent opportunity to try out some early potty training. If you can time it right you can drop the diaper and get him to a potty in time, and this'll encourage him to keep at it.

I tried that with Simon and had pretty good success. Instead of a small potty I put him on the toilet, thinking I could skip a step and make him act like a Big Boy. Unfortunately, when winter came the bathroom got pretty darn cold and he decided he'd had enough of sitting on a freezing piece of porcelain. So now we're back to stinky diapers, and every time I stick him on a shiny new plastic potty it remains woefully shiny.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Simon's Paradox

Here's a derivation of Zeno's Paradox:

If Simon is given a piece of toast, he will break it into two equal pieces and drop one piece. The remaining piece will then be broken into two pieces and the cycle will continue. Logic dictates that Simon will never run out of toast, since he always holds onto a piece of it.

Zeno used these paradoxes to show that motion is nothing more than an illusion, using logical steps to demonstrate the impossible. Simon's Paradox is easy to refute, since observation will show that not only will Simon eventually run out of toast, but that he will then hide most of the discarded pieces under the couch.

Friday, March 21, 2008

mesh feed me, seymour!

Speaking of starting on solids, I don't do too many product endorsements but one item I swear by is the Baby Safe Feeder. Simon couldn't quite grasp the whole "let spoon get in mouth" thing at first but he loved chewing on the feeder after I stuffed it with mashed-up fruit. The site is pretty ugly, and the guy is a little too emphatic about how your child is doomed if you don't use a feeder, but the product is great.

Food: The secret killer!

We got lax with the whole food allergy thing with Simon, so now we're clueless when he gets stuffy or has stomach issues. The whole food allergy thing can become a real pain in the butt, so if you're about to start your baby on solids it's best to do it right.

First, start with the least allergenic foods, like avocado (good for fats) and pears (good for fiber). Dr. Sears has a good list of most and least allergenic foods out there, which you can follow if you like. I'd also suggest giving your child the new food early in the day so if there is a serious reaction you can reach your pediatrician easily. Also, people recommend eating the food for four days to get a good idea of the reaction.

You can find all these suggestions online easily enough. What I strongly recommend, though, is putting thought into the order you introduce new foods. It's one thing when you're just starting out and giving him plain fruit or oatmeal, but once he's snacking on crackers and mooching off your plate in the restaurant there's no freaking way to be 100% sure why he's suddenly vomiting on your lap. Just looking at the ingredients in my wife's Triscuits reveals seven potential culprits, and that's not even including the enigmatic "spices" they have listed.

So do dairy early on, because Americans can't prepare anything without putting butter or cream in it. Start with butter, then milk, then some cheese. Another common ingredient is gluten, so carefully give that a try. Wheat is the next thing to test, plus eggs (do white and yolk separately). And don't even think of getting Chinese for dinner until you test for soy and MSG.

Again, there's no need to cram all this stuff down your child's throat right away. If you want to keep his meals simple for a while that's great, but if you're like me and give in to his demands to share your omelet and home fries you'd better know what you're getting into.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

He can't be old, he's my age!

One of the interesting things about online comics is a lot of them are done by people my own age. Not only do they have similar tastes, but they've also started spawning babies around the same time I did and that sometimes sneaks into their comics. The Penny Arcade guys both have kids and they often give anecdotes in their podcast. Plus Sluggy Freelance recently did a funny crossover spoof between a popular children's book and a popular sci-fi show. If I had more artistic ability I'd dump this blog and do a fatherhood/World of Warcraft/D&D comic instead.

Soylent green is Mattel!

One great regret is the fact that kids don't immediately get sick of a toy, they just play with it less and less until it's years later and your wife digs it out of a pile and gives it to a friend's new bundle of joy.

I'd rather it be a big ceremony. I want Simon to come up to me with, for example, his Animal Merry-Go-Round and inform me that he has outgrown it. I then accept the toy with a bow, take it out to the back yard, and smash it repeatedly with a sledgehammer while listening to its annoying "animals, animals, round and round we go!" turn into an electric scream before being silenced forever. I would probably add to the ceremony by shouting something like, "Shut up! Shut the hell up! I'm never going to hear your stupid number song ever again!"

Then, I respectfully dispose of the remains in the trash bin and carry it out to the curb.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A dark day for gamers

My grandfather was a rare but larger than life presence in my world. Tall, thin and tough as nails, he was the quintessential New Englander; getting up with the sun to milk the cows or go deer hunting before spending the day haying and cutting wood. He was gruff, vocal on many subjects, and chewed tobacco. He was a voracious reader, too, with a large library of history and reference books. Since I was a quiet, nerdy homebody who usually hated our visits to the farm, you can imagine we didn't have a lot in common. When he died the thing I regretted most was not getting to know him better when I had the chance.

Gary Gygax died today.

While not a blood relative, he reminds me of my grandfather because he co-created Dungeons and Dragons and is considered the father of the role-playing game. Mention his name to some people and they'll get a far-away look in their eyes, remembering all the times their half-elf warrior opened a door to find 20 orcs in a 10'x10' room. His presence is felt in every game out there, and I can't imagine how my favorite hobby would look today if it wasn't for him.

I do have to confess, though, that for me it's not as great a blow as it should be. Living out in the sticks I never really played D&D as a kid. My first real experience with gaming was Gamma World in college, then Call of Cthulhu. I didn't really play D&D until third edition, well after Mr. Gygax had lost the reigns. But he was a giant in the field, and I'll feel sorrow for his passing as well as regret for not knowing him better.