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Just Call Me Dad

Fatherhood in the 21st Century

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Archive for November, 2008

Protecting Your Electrical Outlets

Childproofing seems to be a never ending task. Thankfully, we have been able to avoid having to baby proof the kitchen and bathroom (the kitchen is gated off and we keep the bathroom door shut), but we have done the rest of the so called ‘right’ things in our house.

One particularly difficult area we had was an electrical outlet near our television. Due to someone’s poor planning when the house was built, the corner in the living room that is perfect for a television is also four feet away from an electrical outlet. This wasn’t particularly a problem before Nick was born, but of course an extension cord is like crack to babies. My wife and I looked at outlet covers at a dozen stores, and we managed to figure out something that worked for us.

The solution was twofold. First, we covered the outlet with this ingenious little item: Safety First Outlet Cover

This outlet cover has a base plate that is screwed onto the outlet once you remove the existing outlet cover. You plug your cords into it, and then the outer cover clips into place. Not only can Nick no longer stick anything into the outlet, but he can’t unplug the TV either. The hole at the bottom for the cord to pass through is a little small; I had to make it bigger to fit my power bar cord through, but it works great. The cover is really difficult to get off, it’s a two handed job for Dad.

Then, to deal with the cord, I used the Wiremold Cord Cover sold at the Home Depot. This stuff sticks to the wall with adhesive tape, and a cord slides inside of it. There are all kinds of inside and outside corners available, as well as 90 degree bends. I ran the cover straight down from the outlet to just above the baseboard, then used a 90, and then ran the cover along the baseboard behind the TV cabinet. It works great. Our trim is white, so it looks fine, but I believe the packaging said it was paintable as well. Amazon has photos and information here.

The rest of the outlets I covered with what I thought was the best product on the market. I had read that the little plastic push in outlet covers were dangerous because kids can pull them out and choke on them. I found the Mommy’s Helper safe plate. This design has a spring loaded cover that slides left and right over the outlet. In order to plug something in, you insert the blades, then slide to the right, then push the plug in the rest of the way. When you remove the plug, the covers automatically slide back to make it safe. The springs are surprisingly strong, so I don’t think Nick could push them over AND stick something in. Mommy’s Helper Safe Plate

So, that’s my electrical baby proofing story. I’d love to hear from some of you out there regarding what you did for electrical safety in your house.
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How a new baby can make you a better man.

I share a computer at work with two other people – I rarely use it, but we have it at our service shop for email, word processing, and to look information up on the internet. For whatever reason, one of the other gentlemen has set MSN as the homepage. I used to find it quite frustrating (it’s a slow-loading site on that PC), but for the past couple of weeks I have actually found myself enjoying some of the articles on it.

This morning I came across a wonderful article from Best Life magazine titled The Newborn Ultimatum – How a New Baby Can Make You a Better Man. The writer, Sam Grobart, has written the article around 5 concepts that he feels Fathers know well. Those are: Talk less and listen more, Keep your cool, Know your strength, Stick to your guns, Share the spotlight. Frankly, I couldn’t agree more. My favorite quote of the article is this: “Caring for an infant is kind of like being a member of Prince’s entourage or an aide to Kim Jong-Il: You are responsible for anticipating the needs of an irrational person who is completely divorced from reality”.

I highly suggest reading the article in full at the Best Life website. The article is located here: http://www.bestlifeonline.com/cms/publish/fatherhood/Benefits-of-Fatherhood.php

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Lately I have really noticed that many of the people I interact with on a day to day basis are a little lacking in the creativity department. It made me think of my last post, and then about how creative kids really are. Most kids have imaginary friends, play with all kinds of toys, set up scenarios in their heads for their GI Joes to conquer, etc.

I also noticed that as adults, we dress very plainly. Most people I know wear jeans or khakis, white sport socks, and polo shirts. This is basically the same uniform a Blockbuster Video employee wears, and no offense to Blockbuster Video, but it’s not exactly the most exciting place in town.

Then there are kid’s clothes. Nick doesn’t have a single pair of all white socks. He’s got brown ones with camouflage trim, red/blue/green striped ones, and blue and green socks. He doesn’t have boring shirts – most of them are bright vibrant colors, have cute sayings on them like “MISO CUTE” with a picture of a bowl of soup, or myriad crazy things.

I wonder what my boss would think if I walked into work tomorrow morning in a pair of Lightning McQueen coveralls, purple socks and a lime green shirt with “Let’s Make Robot Friends” written on it? No shoes of course – they impede circulation. I don’t imagine it would go over too well. Too bad really, as most adults could probably use a little bit of spark in their lives.

I have some wacky socks in my drawer from a sale at Old Navy a couple of years ago. I think that I just might start wearing them a little more often. After all, if it’s good enough for my kid, it’s good enough for me.

Do Schools Kill Creativity?

One of my favorite sites on the internet is www.TED.com. I had never heard of TED until I stumbled across their site about a year ago, and I have been a fan ever since. Basically, it’s an organization that brings together a group of extraordinary people once a year for an exchange of ideas. It is incredibly difficult to actually get into the event, but they post a few of the videos every week on their website, for free.

Obviously, as a parent I’m concerned about both the cost and the quality of education. I often have discussions with my wife about the value of education. Certainly, we both feel a great education is a wonderful thing to have, but we do disagree on what makes a good education. I’m a hands-on kind of guy, and I value my knowledge of science and math, especially physics, which I often say is the science of the world around us. My wife is an English teacher, and has her own opinions.

I recently found a video on TED’s website about education and where it is heading in the future. Ken Robinson feels that schools and the subject structure that they currently have may in fact be limiting our children’s futures. I especially like the quote where he mentions that kids entering school today will be retiring in 2065, and they are in an educational system that is meant to prepare them for this future. However, he points out that even with all the intelligent people at the TED convention, none of them could really agree on what the world would look like in even five years.

Anyway, I really enjoy the site, and the video. I thought that I would share it with you.

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Nick and I have gotten into the habit of going on Saturday excursions over the past few weeks. It’s been nice; father and son venturing off into the world to do something just for the boys. I highly doubt that he gets too much out of it, as the trips are usually to places like the Home Depot or bookstores, but its fun for me. Actually, I shouldn’t say he doesn’t get anything out of it, as he seems to enjoy it, and he is fascinated by watching people walk around in stores.

A few nights ago we went to Toys R us for a quick trip to get out of the house, and hopefully to find a Halloween costume. Since he’s getting pretty steady on his feet, I let him walk around on his own in the store for a little bit. The store was almost empty, there were probably only five families in the store, but they all had kids around Nick’s age. It was a lot of fun following him around as he saw something he had to touch or attempt to taste.

I haven’t decided where we are going yet today, he’s napping, and the day is getting on. I like having the ritual though, so I’d like to find somewhere, even if it’s just the flower store to get something for his mom.

I’d love to hear about any family rituals that you other dads out there share with your kids. Leave a comment.