Category Archives: Bean Gear

Further photographic evidence of reproduction

Now that we have a nights sleep (more or less) behind us, here are some additional photos from Tango’s birth.

Begining labor

Baby Tango and Momma

Daddy and Baby Tango

First family portrait

Lastly, here’s a picture of the knife I used to cut the umbilical. When she gets old enough, I’ll pass it on to her as an heirloom.

Olamic Cutlery Suna

JL Childress Ultimate Car Seat Travel Bag

Traveling with a child can be challenging. That is likely something of an understatement. Until they get to be about 4 years old, children are uniquely unsuited to the rigors of travel. As adults we accept the depressing reality of travel inconveniences because we understand that in many ways it’s unavoidable and required to reach our destination. Unwanted molestation at security checkpoints, terrible and expensive food, uncomfortable seats, loud droning noises, hours of sitting quietly and waiting for something, anything, to happen; these are all things that, while we tend to dislike, we’ve come to terms with in some ways.

Children live in the moment though, and they won’t put up with that crap. Not without making your life hell. They cry, they scream, they throw food. In the time it takes you to blink while sneezing, they will disappear from sight and begin a curious assault on the pilot’s cabin. They will pick up anything that contrasts with the floor, and eat it. Toddlers are especially bad about this, because it’s impossible to reason with them, or explain why they have to be so terribly inconvenienced.

That’s just one heinous part of traveling with a toddler though. On top of the significant challenges of removing a small child from their comfortable environment while mitigating the terror they inflict on everyone around them, there is the additional challenge of equipment.

Toddlers are like mid century Italian sports cars. They’re fun to have around, but they are ludicrously high maintenance and require the frequent use of highly specialized tools. Not even counting the assorted extras necessary to maintain proper trouser hygiene, toddlers require special chairs for meal time, special tools to cram food in their gullet, a special bed to prevent death and nighttime wandering and a special chair just to sit in a car.

Hotels tend to have cribs, and restaurants tend to have high chairs, but the car seat is a different thing altogether, and it’s really only a significant problem during the toddler years. When they’re infants the car seat is a multipurpose device that they will happily sleep in. It’s on the small side on account of the child being small, and has a large handle making it easy to tote around. Once they grow out of that though, things change significantly. The car seats are transformed into monstrous and awkward devices that weigh as much as the child. Because they’re designed for more or less permanent installation, they don’t have carry handles. Carrying one of these things around is about as easy as toting around a Barca lounger made for hobbits. It’s a pain in the ass, and absolutely essential.

When we started looking around for ideas on how to transport this thing, I recalled seeing other parents carrying around special made bags for things like strollers and car seats. It turns out there are only a few companies that make bags for car seats and they come in essentially two different styles, fitted and sack. The fitted bags are roughly the shape of the car seat, with desirable features such as shoulder straps, roller wheels, zipper closures, and extra pockets. The sack style is, literally, just a sack with a draw string and appear like they are designed only for gate checking a car seat. If they’re as durable as they appear, then you would likely get more protection from a plastic bag.

The most popular of the fitted style bags appears to be the JL Childress Ultimate Car Seat Travel Bag. I got it thinking it would be a valuable investment considering all the travel we were planning for the spring and summer, and we first used it on our trip to New York in March. The shoulder straps made it easy to carry the car seat like back pack. The material seemed durable and it had padding for the sides of the car seat. There were no extra pockets, but the zippered closure worked smoothly and the car seat fit in snuggly. I did note that there was really no way to secure the zippers, but the packaging claimed the zipper had a special features that would allow locking the bag. That “special feature” was the closed loop at the end of the zipper pull tab that is common on all metal zipper pulls. I guess if I had a spare piece of twine I could have tied a knot through the zipper pulls.

When we collected our baggage in Dulles, the Ultimate Car Seat Travel bag had burst it’s zipper, and our car seat was slid half out. Thank god I hadn’t taken the advice of the ticket agent who suggested I transfer some items from our over weight luggage in to the Ultimate Car Seat Travel Bag, or it would have been all over the conveyor belt. Still, the bag had done it’s duty and the car seat was unharmed, and the zippers appeared okay. While pulling the zippers closed, I also noted that the bottom of the Ultimate Car Seat Travel Bag now had two holes worn through the bottom. I can only presume the baggage handlers drug it around behind the luggage cart, doing wheelies on the flight line. I didn’t thing much of it. Normal wear and tear. If it got too bad I’d just give it some duct tape treatment.

This last weekend, Cameron and Logan went to Denver, and we again employed the Ultimate Car Seat Travel Bag. It was something of a life saver, and made it a lot easier for Cameron to handle the luggage without me. When she returned to Vegas though, we had something of a surprise.

When I retrieved her luggage from the conveyor belt at McCarran, this is what I found.

JL Childress Ultimate Car Seat Travel Bag

The entire bottom of the JL Childress Ultimate Car Seat Travel Bag had blown out, the seams neatly ripped. The car seat was again half out of the bag, but this time it protrude from the destroyed bottom. After just 2 round trip flights, the bag was completely useless. I think if I hadn’t seen the damage it had incurred after only a single flight, I would have been surprised. As it was, I was only curious and slightly irritated. The Ultimate Car Seat Travel Bag cost just under $50, so it wasn’t very expensive, but I still expected it to last longer than two round trip flights prior to a catastrophic loss of hull integrity.

I can’t say that I’d recommend a bag with such a swift failure rate. Maybe I had a faulty product. Maybe it got some extra rough treatment. I can’t say what caused it to fail, all I can say is it was a good thing it happened on the return flight, and that no damage was done to the car seat. If the car seat had been damaged beyond safe use, how would we leave the airport? Unlike Tom Hanks, no one is going to let my toddler live in the terminal.

The Crown of Prince Edward

Logan has a thing with hats. He’s never really shown an interest in wearing them for longer than a few seconds, but he likes to take them. Sometimes he begs for them, among other things, but he never really did anything with them. Other than throw them on the ground.

A pleading request
You could put a hat on his head, and if you were quick enough, you might get a picture of it. I’ve rarely been that quick. He just didn’t seem to get it, which I always thought was weird for a kid with so little hair. Surely his head was getting cold? I know mine does.

Concerned about the hood
At first, he wouldn’t even tolerate the hood on his jacket. Like any other offending head gear he’d pull at it. When the hood failed to come off, he’d get upset and frustrated. Eventually he either gave up, or accepted it, and now regularly walks around with the hood up.
Playing in the backyard
Still wouldn’t wear hats though. Until last weekend, when he earned the Crown of Prince Edward.
Scrutinizing a leaf

Somewhere (not here) there is a picture of me wearing this hat when I was about Logan’s age. The Crown of Prince Edward was crocheted? Knitted? Fabricated for me by a family member or friend. I’m sure I’ll be chastised for not recalling the specifics. I wore it for a time when I was a toddler, and it then it got stashed away in a box for a whole bunch of years.

Playing ball
My mother brought it around for Logan some time ago, and until Saturday, he’d demonstrated little interest in it. Like any other hat he’d doff it as soon as he was forced to don it. Maybe it was just cold enough on Saturday. Maybe he’s finally accepted that sometimes people make you wear things on your head. Whatever the reason he wore if for the better part of an hour while adventuring in the backyard.

Playing Ball
And so the Crown of Prince Edward was passed from one generation to the next.

Build a Bear

Over the course of the Holidays Logan had received a gift card to Build A Bear. Since it was a rainy and gloomy weekend, it seemed like the perfect time to go to the mall and use the gift card.

Cautiously optimistic.

I have mixed feelings about Build A Bear. On the one hand, it’s a cute and endearing way to create a personal bond between a child and a stuffed animal that’s entertaining for the child. On the other hand, they’re expensive and the shop relies on aggressively patronizing marketing to insure children are emotionally indebted to the product and the accessories for it. And let’s be honest, given half a chance most kids will form an emotional bond with a stick they find in the drive way, giving it a name and creating an elaborate back story for the stick rich in royal intrigue and adventure.

Very concerned about the bear

They are cute bears though.

Hugging our new pal
Logan was reserved throughout the process, seeming mostly confused by the entire process. He demonstrated the most interest in the hallway that led to the bathrooms.

A new friend!

Naturally, we selected some Jedi robes for the bear. The consequence of this is that Logan was more interested in the Bear’s lightsaber than he was in the bear itself.

Build a Bear mission successful. Jedi bear acquired.

Red Rock Canyon

With the brutal Vegas winter weather dipping back into the 60s, we decided to take advantage of the moment. Red Rock Canyon is a marvel of Vegas. Just minutes outside town, you can hike, climb rock faces, ride a bike along the scenic loop and visit never know you were within miles of a major entertainment city. And yet, I haven’t been in probably ten years. So we went hiking.

Lost Creek Falls

I want Logan to grow up doing active, interesting, things. This means that I have to do active interesting things, which is good, because I need motivation to get off my ass and do stuff sometimes.

Lost Creek Falls

We hiked out to Lost Creek, a short little jaunt of less than a mile that ends in a seasonal waterfall. The BOB stroller did not turn out to be as adept at hiking as I thought it would. I should amend that. It was great at hiking. It was terrible at bouldering.

The BOB was not as handy at hiking as anticipated

We left it behind and I carried him the rest of the way.

Lost Creek Falls

He seemed to enjoy himself, but it’s hard to tell with Logan sometimes.

Hiking at Red Rock

As usual he was most interested in the mundane, and delighted in walking in the gravel around the visitor’s center, and climbing on the benches.

Top of the world ma!

Logan’s First Year

This has been a year full of new experiences and new revelations both about the world around me, and myself. It has been a year of reflection on my past, and my relationships with my family. More than anything though, it’s been a fast year.

Mommy and Logan
In only a year Logan has grown out of being a warm to the touch biological machine designed to process food into poop, pushed straight on through infancy, and become a little boy.

Clapping
He had his first birthday and all the sudden he’s a little man.

Logan hangs around like a monkey
Still not really walking though. Kind of a lazy little man. He’ll stand up sometimes, and every once in a while he’ll take a step or two. Not soon after though, a confused expression wanders across his face that says “Why am I using my legs like a sucker?” and he gently settles back into a crawl.

Checking out the fire pit
His birthday party went off splendidly. A lot of our friends showed up to help him celebrate. The Taco Man came, and made tacos for everyone. The BEST tacos. Little street tacos prepared on the spot. He brought his own griddle so the meat was hot and fresh, a whole table of salsas and condiments and giant jug of pineapple juice. It was like having authentic Mexican street tacos right in our backyard, without all the pesky dysentery. Taco Man is awesome.

The Taco Man
Our friend Kat made Logan just about the best cake ever. Three tiers with an edible train that ran along the outside toting a little tiny personal cake for the birthday boy. I helped. I made the little sculptures of Logan and Puddles out of gum paste.

Train Cake

Cake detail

Not only was it beautiful, it was delicious.

Birthday Cake Revelation Cycle: Vigorous Indulgence
Logan though so to. It was his first taste of cake. Pretty near to his first experience with refined sugar, as his mother and I have very carefully warded his diet.

Birthday Cake Revelation Cycle: Demand for More
He seemed to enjoy it.

He also enjoyed opening his gifts.

Although sometimes it appears he enjoys the paper included with the gift more than the gift.

New recruit

Science Officer Lt. Commander Logan Hawkins reports for duty aboard the USS Pioneer.

Science Officer Lt. Commander Logan Hawkins

Sitting at the Science Station on the bridge, he is responsible for monitoring all sensor scans and identifying anomalies near the vessel’s course.

Further evidence of the decline of milkman as an avocation.

This is a picture of me taken when I was just over a year old. The contraption I’m imprisoned in is an early model of the car safety seat. It’s made out of what appears to be stainless steel tubing and vinyl. I’m sure it was intensely uncomfortable, which is why I’m attempting to escape.
Escape Artist

My mother tells me that his is a maneuver I frequently engaged in. I would lift one leg far past its current range of flexibility and thrust it out of whatever restraint I was strapped into. Evidently I was quite good at it.

This is a picture of my son taken a few weeks ago.

A leg up

It would seem that not only has Logan inherited my extraordinary good looks and roguish charm, but also, my genetic disposition for a distaste in restraints. Until this moment, I was unaware that escapism was an inherited quality. With any luck he’s also managed to inherit his mother’s good sense with money as well as her study habits.

Easter

My cousin Lindsay turned 21 the same week my mother turned, I don’t know, she’s been telling me she’s 29 for more than 20 years. This all collided with Easter weekend, so all the Stoltz’s came to town and we had a big Happy Birthday To Ladies And Easter And Lets See Baby weekend.
The Stoltz's
The Stoltz’s are all nice people and we don’t get to see them terribly often, so it was pleasant to have them around. We had a nice dinner out at Nobu, sans baby, one night during the week and everyone came over to our house for a big production meal on Saturday.

Erin, Lindsay and Logan
We’ve gone to some trouble to socialize Logan as much as we can. Letting other people hold him and play with him in an effort to prevent the kind of separation anxiety so many children suffer from. For the most part this has been successful, although as he’s gotten older and more socially aware it gets more difficult. In the first three months I’m not sure he was really aware there were more than two people in the world. There was Mommy With Breasts, and Not Mommy. Not Mommy was everyone else in the world, including me. Now that he’s starting to catch on that Not Mommy is actually many different people, he’s starting to get a little picky about who he hangs out with.

Cousin Erin

He’s still good with other people, but I think sometimes he finds it disconcerting to be receive such high affection from people who’ve never given him breast milk. I suspect this is why he doesn’t appear as thrilled to see the Stoltzs as they are to see him.

Hiding

Easter brought a lot of gifts, some from us, and some from Grandma and Grandpa, and some from the Stoltzs. The gifts were all wonderful, and he enjoys them. Babies are like cats in some regard though, you can buy them the best gift in the world and what they’ll really want to play with is the box it came in.

So much Easter Loot!
Logan determined that of all the gifts he received, the card was the tastiest one.

All those nice gifts, and the tastiest part is the card.
Some of the gifts came in a basket. The basket was really an upside down hat with handles attached to it. The hat did not fit me. It was too small.

The  basket was a hat.

The hat did not fit Logan either. It was too large.

The hat was too big for Logan
Some of the gifts were hidden, and Logan needed help finding them.

Logan
Sometimes I even talk like I’m narrating a children’s book.

Nearly Christmas

We’ve already been to our first Christmas party. Three more to go. Logan slept through most of it, but that’s okay. It’s certainly preferential to the alternative. No one likes a grumpy crying baby.

Not always fun and games

The ladies at the party all loved Logan. I suspect this will be a trend that will last well into his later years. He received a number of “oohs” and “aahs” from his appreciable audience. He seemed particularly taken with Clara.

Clara loves little Logan

I’m glad he was so popular, it provided me an opportunity to do my dad thing; drink a lot of beer and eat a lot of sausage appetizers.

He's a ladies man

Logan has become adapt at holding his head up, and he even has the strength to stand. He lacks the coordination to maintain his own balance, but he definitely has the strength part down pat. It’s sometimes easy to forget he’s less than 3 months old.

That smile

I couldn’t resist buying him this gift for Christmas, even though he’s far too young for it. I also couldn’t resist opening it. When Thinkgeek featured the Tauntaun sleeping bag as an April Fool’s joke, I was one of the thousands who attempted to order it. When they announced that it was a real licensed product, I was one of the first thousand to order it.

A premature Christmas present

Logan won’t be able to use it for some time, but I couldn’t resist. He didn’t seem to really like it much, even after I demonstrated that the zipper pull was a plush lightsaber and pulling it opened up the guts of the Tauntaun. I’m sure he’ll come around.

Escape attempt #1

We had another trip to the pediatrician’s office to meet with our lactation consult. Tami Schollser has been something of a god send for us. When Logan was underweight and having trouble eating, she was able to quickly identify several problems and work with us to correct them. In the six weeks or so that we’ve been seeing her, Logan has put on more than 5 lbs and while he’s still small, he’s growing at a healthy pace.

Tammi Schlosser and her #1 client

As a parting shot, here’s a pic of me and the boy taking a nap. There seems to be an awful lot of gray in my beard.

Taking a nap