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Posts Tagged ‘CT’

Lately I’ve been missing summer a lot.  I miss hiking and going for walks outside every day.  I miss taking the little guy to the playground and seeing his pure joy as he plays in the sand or swings on a swing.  I miss the long days and swimming in the pool to cool off.  I am not sick of the cold, snow or ice though.  I am sick of this lack of time outside.  It has been so cold lately that taking my son outside longer than a few minutes has just not been feasible.   Now that my son is walking well on his own I am itching to walk with him to all these places that he used to only be able get to by rolling in his stroller or riding on my back.

Despite the cold and dreary winter days I have not fallen into misery.  Instead I get moving!  I go out with little man every day regardless of how cold it is.  We are New Englanders and made of hearty stock capable of bearing the coldest temperatures for the ten to fifteen minutes it takes for us to be in the car and get it warmed.  Cowering at home because of cold weather or flurries only brings on cabin fever and a mushing of our minds.  It’s not always easy to overcome the inertia of sitting inside on a cold day so here are some things you do to make the process easier.

  1. Pack everything you need the night before: I wake up in the morning tired with a touch of warm and cozy thrown in.  The last thing I want to do is venture out in ten degree weather.  Anything that makes the process of leaving more difficult will make me more likely to say “F#@k this we’re staying in today.”  Plan out what you will need and pack it in the most useful way possible.  Here is a quick rundown of what I bring when I go to the YMCA to swim.  I put his swim diaper and bathing suit on before we leave.  He wears a shirt and pants instead of a onesie to make dressing and undressing him easier.  I pack two towels, one for when he gets out of the pool and one for drying him off and changing him after his shower.  I bring baby wash and a wash cloth so I can clean all the chlorine off.  I bring a lunch and his cup so we can eat in the lobby when we are done.  I have left out some items I always have in my bag but I think you get the gist.  Having all this together ahead of time will make heading into the cold easier.
  2. Find easy regular places to go: It’s foolish to think that you are going to undertake an epic journey complete with meals and naps every day during the winter.  If you can pull that off then you already have everything figured out and can probably stop reading this mere mortal’s tips.  For the rest of us it’s important to have simple and close places to go that don’t require the kind of production I outlined above.  A good guideline is that if you need more your diaper bag and a snack to go there then it’s probably not easy enough.  I like to go to one of the three local malls to walk and take advantage of their play areas.  Westfield Mall in Meriden CT and Buckland Hills Mall in Manchester CT both have play areas that are ideal if you get there early and beat the crowds.  Westfarms Mall in West Hartford CT has no play area but it is my favorite to walk in and you can get in as early as 7 if your little one is having one of those mornings.  Westfield Mall is my favorite overall because everything you need is close to the play area including family parking spaces, the nicest family restroom of the three, and a most excellent pretzel kiosk.  Library story times are excellent options as well and in a pinch I will walk around the local Wal-Mart, Target and Petco.  Petco is great because it’s like a little zoo where you don’t have to pay to see the animals.
  3. Don’t stress how you or your little one looks: Face it stay at home dads.  We do a lot and sometimes it’s a miracle that we have the energy to get out of bed in the morning.  Imagine if you woke up, couldn’t take a shower, all your kid’s matching outfits are dirty, and both you and your child have matching bead head.  Yeah this was yesterday for us.  Don’t stay in!  Slap on some clean clothes and deodorant because who is really going to get close enough to notice?  Grab whatever clothes will fit your kid and know that they aren’t what really makes them look cute and loved.  Put on your favorite old hat and don’t stress over your kid’s hair because their winter hat would have made them look like they had bed head anyways.  You aren’t a scrub because you didn’t have time to get you and your child looking perfect.  Your smiles and evident connection will override any negative perceptions.  Get out and don’t use appearances as a reason to become a recluse.
  4. Dress warm and light: That super heavy coat you got for your kid seems great right?  Wrong!  Check out Consumer Reports to learn why if you don’t know already.  Unfortunately that coat is pretty much useless when go to put your kid in the car.  You could put your little one in the coat, take them out of the coat, strap them in and then put over them like a blanket.  I choose to use a fleece jacket that is warm but compact and a fleece blanket to keep him warm.  When combined with mittens, fleece pants, wool socks and a warm winter hat this method is quite effective.  I don’t usually have the luxury of warming the car up first but if this is possible for you go for it.  Just remember that you probably won’t be able to do that when you are on your way home.
  5. Make plans with other people:  It’s very easy to stay in when you are the only person holding yourself accountable at the critical moment you decide if you are going out.  Setup playdates.  Arrange visits with family and friends.  Tell the mom of your kid’s new best friend at the library that you will be at the story time program next week.  It’s in you and your child’s best interest to do these things anyways but sometimes a simple thing like telling someone you will see them again can be the difference between braving the cold or catching cabin fever.

What works for me may not work for you but I hope you were able to take something useful out of this.  It’s easy to stay in when it gets cold outside but you aren’t doing your child or yourself any favors by staying in.  Being a recluse is a bad idea all year round.  Winter just makes it easier to justify.  How are you fighting cabin fever during these cold weeks?  Is it going well?  What do you struggle with?

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One of the simple joys of being a stay at home dad is lunch.  My son seems to be napping when I’m hungry which gives me time to indulge myself.  Sometimes this means an egg sandwich or creatively using the previous night’s leftovers for an unintended but delicious purpose.  My favorite lunches are random dishes that could only come from the mind of a tired stay at home dad who is driven by a combination of hunger and exhaustion.  Today was such a day in my little corner of Connecticut.  I found a way to combine three of my favorite things: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, peanut butter and fluff sandwiches and burritos.  That’s right folks today I had a peanut butter, jelly, and fluff burrito.  I also had a handful of cheese balls as a side dish because the only thing that comes close to the majesty of my tortilla based creation is the yummy crunch of cheesy balls.  My non-sequitur lunch was even better than I expected!  You may think my creation is a little gross but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.  You might need to be tired and super hungry to fully appreciate the beauty of this gooey creation but I know you’ll love this burrito!

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What’s your favorite random lunch?  Do you think it tops this plate of deliciousness?

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So its been three months since I have posted anything here and we have been quite busy!  O has gotten pretty good at all sorts of new tricks like standing up and speed crawling.  We have done tons of baby proofing and plenty of worrying that it won’t be enough and he will somehow get hurt.  Perhaps the biggest challenge was dealing with the heat.  CT had several weeks of ridiculously high temperatures that saw most people we know huddling near their air conditioners.  This was not an option for us because we have no working air conditioners in our apartment.  We have a broken air conditioner sticking out of our wall and lots of fans but certainly nothing that blasts cold air/relief.  Narrow windows and lack of funds mean we just have to deal with the heat however we can.

Each morning I would go through a ritual of opening and closing various windows and shades while changing fans from off to on or intake to exhaust, reversing the process before O’s morning nap.  When he woke up I would give him a lunch consisting of some sort of vegetable and protein accompanied by lots of cold watermelon.  A wipe down, diaper change, and a quick dressing later and we were into my car and its glorious sub-zero air conditioning.  We spent most afternoons in either the Meriden or Manchester malls to bask in their AC and use their often crowded play areas.  The stress of a play area full of children whose parents are glued to their smartphones is bearable when you have an infant who needs to get out of the heat.  As a stay at home dad I found this to be irritating and I had to bite my tongue often as I tried to prevent rowdy older kids from running little man over.

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We would spend the hottest hours of the day hanging out  in the play place and walking around the mall.  The mall walking always included the food court and the salespeople pushing free samples as if that wasn’t why I was there.  I got to try sesame chicken made by three different places all calling it something else but always saying theirs was  “Number One in America!”  So there are other places calling themselves Cajun who make sesame chicken?  Apparently if you are the only one that makes you number one.  Both malls have good family restrooms which makes this all possible though it seemed like the same episode of Dora the Explora was on loop every time I changed the little dude in Meriden.  Can you say repetitive? (blink blink) Good Job!  After yet another exciting mall experience we would head home for a bottle and a nap.  By this time the worst of the day’s heat had gone and the apartment is cooler than outside due to some strategic closing of windows and shades.

Some days O was able to handle the heat of the apartment and take a good afternoon nap.  When he wasn’t we went swimming in our apartment complex’s pool to cool off and wait for my wife to return home from work.  While at home he spent all of his time in a diaper and dealt with a little bit of heat rash but overall he was good.  Has anyone else dealt with this sort of situation?  Does anyone else’s baby sleep in the pool like this?

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As I write this I am sitting in front of a fireplace without my wife and son at a summer camp after spending the entire day working outside.  I am tired, sore, mildly under the influence and content.  I believe that it is important to temporarily remove yourself from whatever your day-to-day situation is so you can evaluate and appreciate what you have.  Leaving CT and coming here to work all day with my hands surrounded by wonderful people has given me that opportunity.  So what has this evaluation of my situation revealed?  Exactly what this picture my wife took reveals.  I have an awesome son who I get to spend every day with.  I have a loving wife who supports my choice to be a stay at home dad.  I love my family and get to spend every day taking care of them. What more could a dedicated father ask for?

I have not talked much about it but before I was a stay at home dad most of my identity came from my work.  When I first became a SAHD I was unsure of myself.  I felt like I was in limbo and while I publicly trumpeted my new role I still had a hard time letting go of my old identity.  It has taken me a long time to come to terms with this change and I believe that the struggle to do so was what drove me to write this blog.  These last few weeks it has been difficult for me to write and I have not been able to understand until now.

My writer’s block came from being too happy to write.  I think that much of my motivation to write has come from irritation and general angst.  I have not had either in abundance for a while because I have fully embraced my role as a stay at home dad.  I have always enjoyed spending time with my son but these last few weeks have been extra special.  He is doing lots of new stuff and has developed quite the little personality.  While all this is true the biggest change has been in me not him.  I was doing quite well in my relatively new role as a stay at home dad for the first few months but lately I have gone from being in a good place to being in a great place.  I went from liking spending all day with my son to loving spending all day with him.  Simply put, I am happier.

So how have I overcome this writers block?  I took time to reflect on my life and I came away with a new appreciation for what I have and what I am doing.  I discovered that if I focus on what is best in my life I can motivate myself to write more consistently.  Here’s hoping it continues to work!

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I try to re-purpose our stuff for O whenever I can because we live in an apartment with limited space.  Having too many items that serve only one purpose would turn our happy apartment into a miserably cluttered mess.  The picture above is a great example of a re-purposing idea that I learned from a Facebook friend.  The common solution to baby safety is a bath seat but I find that a laundry basket is much cheaper and it works better for a baby who can sit up.  It keeps him from tipping over, gives him something to hold onto and contains his toys as he splashes and plays.  He doesn’t need to lean out and try to grab them plus he learns how to balance himself in water in a way that he could not in a traditional bath seat.  When he was younger we used a bath sponge that you can lay him on in the tub.  It worked great and we still use it occasionally.  When we visit family for any length of time we will re-purpose a couple of adult sized towels to reproduce the same basic function.  If we hadn’t gotten the sponge we probably would have used the towel method instead.  We also had a hand me down baby tub and found it to be a hassling space thief more-so than a helpful bath tool.  When it comes to bath time there are clearly many opportunities to re-purpose stuff you already have instead of spending more money on single purpose items that will just hog precious storage space.

Another example of re-purposing is our baby station.  The idea is to take any piece of furniture with a top roughly waist-high and turn it into a changing table by stuffing it full of diaper changing supplies and throwing an inexpensive changing pad on top.  We went a step further and had my father in law build some custom shelves for the sides to create the ultimate baby station.  I talk about our changing station in an older post “Diaper Central Command” which has an excellent picture of how it turned out.  When we went out looking for baby stuff we were dismayed by the cost of specialize baby furniture.  It was nice looking but we had a hard time with the idea of spending $100+ dollars on a changing table that we would use for only one purpose for a few years and then promptly try to shove into the limited storage space we have in our central CT apartment.  Re-purposing has been the right solution for us and ended up producing a piece of furniture that is way better than anything we could have bought from a Babies R Us.

So that is how we have done a bit of re-purposing for our baby in an apartment.  What kind of creative re-purposing have you done?  Have any re-purposing tips that this stay at home dad could use?  Share in the comments section below so we can all benefit from your experience!

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The map project had a serious growth spurt over the weekend and now boasts over 35 locations listed where there is a dad accessible diaper changing station.  That means that now the map up and public on its own page with a link dads can share, but we’re not done yet!  The next goal is 100 locations in CT where a dad can use a diaper changing station.  If we can hit that goal then I will make the map searchable on Google so it can reach even more dads.  I want this to be as useful a resource as possible to so it is important that all locations are verified either by the person submitting them or a reliable source.  You can check out the map project page for more details on how you can contribute along with a preview of the map and a link that will show you the map details.  This map is going to be especially useful to stay at home dads on the go in CT so I want to send out a special thanks goes out to everyone who has contributed locations and brought the map to this point!

Here are a few things I have noticed along the way:

  1. Almost all the locations listed are either chain stores or malls.  The only places with purely local ties are libraries.
  2. There are few locations listed outside of the center third of the state.
  3. There are very few restaurants listed

I’m not exactly sure what these observations mean but I do know that these are areas that need to be addressed.  So if you live in the eastern or western portions of the state, or if you are out and about at a local restaurant or business I encourage you to get involved and help out your fellow Connecticut dads.  Please check to see if there is a changing station in men’s restrooms as you use them and leave a comment on the map project page so that I can add it to the map.

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This is our diaper changing station, also known as CT central command in a stay at home dads endless fight against the forces of urine and feces.  From here (in the name of truth, justice and a dry butt) I wage war on things that would seek to cause diaper rash and lots of fussiness. I have everything I need within easy reach so that I am prepared to respond quickly when my son craps up his back or tries to pee in my face.  Starting from the right, light, garbage can, diaper genie, towels, vaseline, wipes, non sterile 4×4 gauze pads, uncovered changing pad, pacifier(not visible) regular diapers, overnight diapers, extra wipes, extra gauze and extra diapers.  There are other helpful items we store on the shelves such as burp clothes and blankets but the focus of this post is on diapering.

I get lots of questions about the gauze (which by the way can only be purchased online) so I will explain it by walking you through a typical “O pissed his pants again” scenario.  I set him on the pad, take off his pants, open his onesie and pull it up around his armpits in case he pees.  I find that his Pamper’s Swaddlers are clearly wet due to the yellow line turning blue.  So I grab a short stack of two gauze pads, open his diaper and put the gauze on his junk to prevent him from peeing on me.  This has the added benefit of absorbing much of the urine if he pees, plus if needed I can quickly grab more to soak it up before his back and butt are covered.  I grab a wipe, move the gauze and quickly wipe him off.  I then blot him dry with one side of the gauze.  This step  is important for preventing diaper rash so do not skip.  I flip the gauze pads over and put them back on his junk so that the damp side is up.

The next step is applying Vaseline to his leg creases and all over his butt/everywhere in between.  Vaseline is important because it creates a barrier so that the next time he sharts or wets himself it will not stick to his skin and irritate it.  The other benefit is that during the next diaper change you will wipe off soiled vaseline instead of trying to scrub the excrement or smelly liquid off of his skin.  It’s also cheap so there is no reason to be stingy with it.  Then I use the gauze to wipe the vaseline off my finger and get another diaper ready under him.  I start to close up the diaper and quickly remove the gauze followed by the buttoning up of his onesie.  I roll everything up in the diaper and toss it in the garbage can.  If it’s a turd filled diaper it goes in the diaper genie to add to what will surely become an epic poop snake.

That’s a typical diaper change for my little man!  Having everything easily accessible makes this process a lot easier and the more often you do it the faster you become.  As a stay at home dad I get lots of practice! A special thanks to my father in law for building the side shelves and to our CT friend Debbie for giving us the (insert furniture name here) that our diaper changing station is built around.  Whats your diaper changing secret technique? Do you have any must have items that you keep where you change your baby? Any questions about what we have on our changing station? Leave a comment!

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