John Talk – The 4 Steps a Parent Needs to Survive Kid Movies, Cartoons, and Shows

Looking at the title, someone without a child or just with a baby might simply decide it is a waste of time or not worth worrying about at the moment. But that someone couldn’t be more wrong.

 And if you are already a parent of a toddler type, I apologize if my words of wisdom have reached you too late. In some respects it reached too late for me, at least the first time. I languished hours of my life away in semi-torment and unabashed horror living in the fact that I must have done something very bad in my life to deserve this treatment. But by kid #2, I knew the tricks of the trade to survive a little easier.

  1.  Most important, repetition. Realize that unless you are some type of an exceptional parent that has the skills to entertain your kids constantly with little to no assistance from the box that is a television, you will be seeing this movie, this cartoon, or this show…constantly and repetitively. I know that kids like to watch the same thing, but not endlessly. My first would want to watch the same 30 minute episode of something over, and over, and over again. This is singlehandedly the most important thing to know. You will likely be around for those car rides with the DVD playing the movie, the DVR or on demand at the house playing the movie, or the iPad or other device playing the movie. Understand this concept because, knowing this, …
  2. Only subject your child to movies/cartoons/shows that you can stand to see, and hear, over and over and over again. So how do you do that? It is as easy as it sounds, watch it first yourself. Yes, might be a slight waste of your time, yes the first one, or two, or seven may be mindless (Sponge Bob) or annoying (Diego) or illogical (Dora, Bubble Guppies), yes it may be painful, BUT when you find those ones that you can stand, knowing item #1 above, the rest of your life during the toddler years will be a bit easier to handle. For me, I found that I could stand/liked Backyardigans (cartoon), any of the Star Wars Lego shows/movies, Prep and Landing (Disney Christmas cartoons, if you haven’t seen them do so this year), and Sesame Street (old school but at least different each episode).
  3. So knowing #1 and #2, understand that you will have to have said movie, said cartoon, or said show available at a moment’s notice. Toddlers can’t really appreciate and don’t really care that you don’t have a copy to watch anytime. Thus, tape to DVR and show them the first time from it, or get a DVD and play it from there. Why? Because when you think it genius to have them just watch that episode and they love it, you can’t have them watch it again. But if you DVR’d it or you have it on DVD, you can play it again and again and again…immediately.
  4. And last but not least, for those truly epic ones that are the favorite (Disney’s Wreck It Ralph, Backyardigans, and the Prep and Landing movies in our house) ones, have a back-up. We were traveling by car to my in-laws one year. It’s a 7+ hour drive from DC. We smartly left early to have the boys sleep some at the start (bonus point), but we also left the Prep and Landing DVD at home. Panic ensued about halfway through the trip as our youngest tends to demand things vocally and he wanted no part of anything else but his beloved Prep and Landing. So what did we do? Stopped at a Wal-Mart and bought a second copy. Now we leave one copy in the house and the other in the car. As for Wreck It Ralph and the Backyardigans, we have DVDs and copies on iPad. Thus we are prepared for anytime need, at any time, on any device.

 So there you have it. Follow these 4 simple steps and you too can handle the toddler years, at least in one respect.

John Talk – Ode to Age(ing)

When a man turns 40,Mr Cool
Or shortly before,
He might want to feel excited,
And not such a bore.
40 is old,
Or so they say.
So what does one do?
Get away.
The wife planned a trip,
And without either boy.
The spot had to be fun,
So as to bring great joy.

Us Dinner
I wanted a place,
That I’d never been to.
But I also wanted to go,
Where the fun runs true.
We picked New Orleans!
‘Cause the place is a blast.
We flew in on a Friday,
For three days at last!
We landed in rain,
And made it to our room.
By dinner we were ready,
To hit the town, Boom!
Dinner was a butcher shop,
The sandwiches were neat.Butcher Dinner
Then back toward the hotel,
Just a block off Bourbon Street.
We hit the street late,
Walking up and walking down.
With a drink in hand,
How could there have been a frown.

John Bourbon
Saturday morning found us walkingCemetary
Through local cemeteries galore.
Then we hit Commander’s Palace,
For food and much more.

Palace
Thanks to Court and Matt,
We ate very well.
A trolley car ride later,
And a ring of the bell.

Street Car
Back to the hotel,
And the rooftop pool.
We hadn’t had sun,
Winter was long and too cool.

Pool
I fell asleep by the water,
Felling oh so great.
Lots of Vitamin D,
To rejuvenate my state.
But too much sun,
Can sometimes be rough.
I pinked myself good,
And I wasn’t that tough.
I HATE being burned,
Even if just a bit.
I whined to the wife,
And she gave me s###!
But I got it together,
For dinner would be grand.
Reservations at GW Fins,
With my wife in hand.

Dessert
The food was tasty,
And the wine was quite sweet.
We had a celebratory dinner,
Then back to Bourbon Street.

Bourbon Night
One last go,
To some local’s prime spot.
A little music and whiskey.
A little?  Maybe a lot.

Drinks
We woke Sunday morning,
To make one big mistake.
Never walk down Bourbon Street,
For it stinks and is dirty for goodness sake.

Bourbon Day
And breakfast on Sunday,
How could I forget?
Café du Monde for beignets,
And Chicory coffee I had to get.

Cathedral
Then we made it back to DC,
What a glorious trip.
40 won’t be so bad.
‘Cause 50 will be here in just a zip.
I actually turned 40,
While heading to work.
Monday, March 31st,
For the pre-April Fool’s jerk.

Family

The Mini Mid-life crisis

In any father’s life, a man faces an inevitable event that can push him over the edge of logic and reason.  As a father of 2 boys that are about to embark on the facets of youth requiring one boy to head one way for a soccer practice and another boy to head another way for a baseball game on a Saturday morning, I and my (wife) recently realized that my action packed 1999 Acura Integra is just not equipped for transporting one, let alone both of the boys.   See?

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Cool (in 2001), but small.  Especially when you are already toting an empty paint can, some unopened Christmas decorations, and other useless needed junk stuff.

I mean it will be hard to give all this up.

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But sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

So my lovely wife gave me almost complete full range to get just about any car I want.  Now she knows me well enough to know that although we could theoretically get a third mortgage on our home to get my dream car of an Aston Martin Vanquish,

280px-SC06_Aston_Martin_Vanquish_green

I’d never do that.

And living in the city of DC, as in the noted pics above for the Integra, little accidents happen all the time.  So I wanted something nice, but not too nice.  I love the Honda/Acura brands.  Aside for one vehicle, I’ve only owned them my whole life.  Even forced my wife into one.  But we already have a Pilot and apparently it is a (insert air quotes here) faux pas to own two of the same make/model vehicle (unless it’s a BMW, then its ok).  So getting a 2nd Pilot is out.  And Honda has no other SUV bigger than the Pilot.  The only option would be a minivan, and well, it’s a minivan.

So I’d try the Toyota Sequoia.  The $60K+ Toyota Sequoia.  Sure bigger, very bog.  But honestly, the bells and whistles on the inside were few and far between.  So I purchase a car, a big car, that will get beat up in the city without the amenities I want for $60K?  Really?

Then I tried the GMC line.  I looked at the Buick something, but from my childhood, Buick is just old, so I had to pass.  I tried the GMC Yukon with the Denali trim.  It was quite nice.  And I would hope so for $65K+.  It had the bells, the whistles, the trumpets, the French horns, the bassoons, the flutes, and all of the other wind instruments that I can’t think of right now.  It even had the ability to warm or cool your seats.  Sweet action to say the least.  But two problems on this one.  1) My father-in-law drives a GMC Yukon.  2) Its still $65K+.

So that leaves me with little to no options.  So I test drive the Honda Odyssey.  And, a week later after letting the wife and boys check it out, I became a minivan driver.  A 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite

DSC_0007Getting In 3DSC_0009Inside 2

And do I feel less of a man, nope.  And why?  Because a real man knows that a vehicle that allows you to get into a car, without having to put your kids in (they can do it by themselves), is a blessing for day-to-day life.  And we saved over $20K!

Plus, when 50 rolls around for me, that Aston Martin Vanquish still will look just as fine.

John Talk – First Post

So I have a number of postings in mind, from the relatively mundane (but excitement laden to me) to universal topics of interests that all likely won’t agree with (Greatest Movie = Die Hard; Greatest Song = Def Leppard’s Photograph) that I want (hope) to eventually get to over time, but I suppose I should start with me.

I am Candace’s husband of over 8 years though we have known each other for over 14 years now.  The best way to describe me is relatively simple.  I am complex in my mind, simple in my day-to-day actions, mindful of my shortcomings (in which I have lots), and, most importantly, content with who I am most of the time. 

What’s the basics? I am an attorney.  Yeah, living in DC and you’re an attorney?  Original.  But at least I am a technical attorney and not your run of the mill one.  I received a BS from Clemson University in Electrical Engineering and soon realized that a cubicle was not for me.  Patent law was the answer and thus that is what I do today.  I work hard but also am glad to know that I work to live and not live to work.  I love my job, like the people I work with, but prefer family and the time at home with them.

I am also almost 40!  Though I act like it in some respects, I really don’t in most.  At least I’ll get to celebrate turning 40 in style when Candace and I head to New Orleans to walk the street, hit the jazz clubs, eat to our heart’s content, and, oh yeah, drink just a little.  The drink of choice, the Old Fashioned (post to follow).

So what else would one say?  Maybe those things that let you really know someone.  I can sing, no, I can belt out Whitney Houston or Shania Twain in full confidence; I can make myself laugh in my head; and I have an extremely healthy infatuation with James Bond.  I am not him, I know that I will never be him, but I love the character.

So please read my posts for the urban guy’s how-tos at times, thoughts on topics that should be discussed with friends (the aforementioned best movies, best songs, best back-to-back songs for a wedding reception, etc.), and  how to be 40 with two kids, a full time job, a wife with never ending energy (or ideas), and free time that tends to last at least 30 minutes a day (not counting sleeping).  I’ll be short, sweet, and to the point and hopefully funny at times.

And so, in the words at the ends of every James Bond film:

John Fleming will return.