The misadventures of a first time father

Category Archives: Food

ImageGoing out to eat can sometimes be a three-ring circus with a nearly one year old in tow.

We especially learned that this last weekend when we tried to do dinner at a restaurant we had gone to a few times in the past with the little one. While he has often been great while we go out to eat, complete with flirting it up with the waitress, lately he has wanted nothing to do with it.

He kicks, he groans, he wiggles like a worm to get out of your grasp, and will strain every muscle in his body trying to get out of a high chair.

This morning, Meg and I went to breakfast with the monkey while we waited for my car to get its annual inspection. No sooner had the little guy been given his bottle did he decide to throw it on the ground – a hard, tile floor – causing it to shatter and glass to go everywhere.

So there we were, Meg with paper towels, on the floor of the cafe, cleaning up apple juice while I asked for a broom and dust pan to clean up the shards of glass.

And this was all before we ordered.

We thought we were in for one heck of a ride, but then, one packet of food later, and a whole lot of ‘ooing’ and ‘awing’ from passersby in the cafe, and he went from fit-to-be-tied to hamming it up for the public, with a head tilt and a smile, as if nothing had ever been wrong in the first place.

So, yup, back to normal, although we think we’ve narrowed down his sudden change of attitude while out and about – all signs point to us teething again.

Look out world, more chompers are coming!


Ales of the RevolutionSome may choose to celebrate the Fourth of July with hot dogs and hamburgers, but as I write this, I have just sampled a taste of the American Revolution.

For quite a few years, I had been on the hunt for a beer called “Ales of the Revolution” from Yards Brewing Company in Pennsylvania. I can’t quite remember how I learned about them originally, but once I discovered their existence, it became a mission to try them.

Ales of the Revolution are recreations of the original recipes of Founding Fathers George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.

The concept intrigues me to no end! To have a (as close to it as possible) taste of the American Revolution era? Sign me up!

I’ve always had an affinity for history, but that has certainly grown since meeting my wife. It’s become a bit of a tradition for us to break out HBO’s John Adams on Independence Day and I can’t tell you the number of times during any season that we’ve sat down to watch a movie only to end up popping in our DVDs of the History Channel’s “The Presidents” narrated by the always superb Edward Hermann. My appreciation for the past extends far beyond the 60s, 40s, 30s, etc and the chance to know what a beer tasted like as sipped by these men of legend is fascinating.

However, for a long time I thought it just wasn’t meant to be. I had tried online, I had tried beverage distributors in the hopes of a special order, but to no avail. I had all but given up hope.

Then, recently while out to dinner with my family, I was surprised with two large cases of this otherwise unattainable nectar. It seems that my brother, looking for a belated birthday gift for me, had contacted a friend living in Philly and asked them to pick up a few cases.

washingtonNow, after this long search, it was right here in my hands.

So, tonight, I cracked open one of George Washington’s Tavern Porter, described by the Brewing Company as “…smooth, rich, and warming with chocolate and coffee flavors. It’s inspired by Washington’s original recipe, and reflects his admiration of Philadelphia-style porters…”

And with an ABV of 7%, it’s no wonder these guys staged a revolution against the biggest super power at the time. They were probably buzzed to no end as they plotted and planned and philosophized over pints at some dimly lit tavern.

Also in the mix is Thomas Jefferson’s Tavern Ale (a golden ale with dried fruits and toffee aromas inspired by Jefferson’s original recipe that called for wheat, honey, and rye from his Virginia estate) and Benjamin Franklin’s Tavern Spruce Ale (based on Franklin’s original recipe. It uses spruce tips and molasses as barley and hops were not readily available at the time).

Needless to say, it’s a win as a beverage and a definite win for the history buff in me.

Now if I could only figure out what John Adams would have drank…


The breakfast my wife made for me on Father's Day.

The breakfast my wife made for me on Father’s Day.

It’s been a pretty cool first Father’s Day weekend.

Yesterday, Meg and I took the little guy to a public market (sort of like a farmer’s market, but with additional things like crafts and other vendors alongside the farm stands). and since it’s held outside in the courtyard of a train station, we got to enjoy the beautiful sunny day to the utmost.

Then, we ran some errands that included me finally getting a new pair of sneakers and jeans. You see, I hate spending money on clothes. I really do. I often end up getting updates to my wardrobe at Christmas because I just don’t buy any during the year. I like to see just how long I can make something last, including articles of clothing. It’s just the kind of thing I don’t put much thought to throughout the year, to be quite honest.

With that said, I’ve had the same pair of sneakers for several years, wearing them down to pretty much nothing. I tend to do the same with my jeans, which is why, for the longest time, I had one good pair of jeans and the rest had holes in the knees and became relegated to housework or lounging at home. So, it was pretty momentous to walk out of the store with a pair of sneakers AND a pair of jeans, not to mention a polo shirt, which my wife insisted on paying for as part of Father’s Day, which was incredibly nice of her.

Pretty crazy, for me at least. Though I think Meg just thinks I’m plain crazy.

We ran a few more errands throughout the afternoon before meeting up with my parents for an early Father’s Day dinner for my dad. We gave him a framed picture of the little guy for his desk at work along with some fun smoking accessories for his grill.

I had to duck out late in the evening to fill-in on a partial shift at work, but came home, hit the sheets and actually slept in for a change.

When I awoke, it was to some both funny and touching Father’s Day cards from my wife, my little guy, and yes, our kitties. A big breakfast of French Toast, eggs and hash browns and I have been completely and utterly spoiled.

It’s been wonderful, it’s been more than generous, but honestly, the fact that I get to celebrate Father’s Day is certainly enough for me. Having them all in my life is worth more than any card, gift or breakfast. Not that I’m not thankful for the creativity and generosity, I’m just so incredibly thankful for all of them.

Happy Father’s Day to all you fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, fathers-to-be and someday fathers. 🙂


© Copyright 2013 CorbisCorporation The weather has been changing lately. The temperatures rising, the grass becoming a little greener, a little longer, and the air filled with the smells of pollen and barbecues.

There’s no doubt that spring is here, but in case we take it for granted, mother nature gave us a nice little reminder of why it’s such a wonder to live in a place that experiences four seasons a year. It’s easy to get into the habit of complaining about one particular season (“it’s to hot out,” “I’ve had enough of this snow,” etc.) that sometimes we  forget why that particular season is so wonderful and unique to itself – because it doesn’t last.

Today in the northeast, we strayed away from our recent trend of 70+ sunny days and took a dive into overcast, breezy and chilly. It was jacket weather, and boy do I love the jacket weather seasons.

I know that many people were already questioning “whatever happened to spring,” but I loved it. The windows slightly cracked on the way to work, some music on the radio reminding me of my high school and college years, and I just thought of all the wonderful September drives to school or to campus. It put a smile on my face, and while so many others were made gloomy by this sudden burst of Fall in our Spring, I was boosted, rejuvenated. I loved it.

© Copyright 2013 CorbisCorporationAnd I remembered that the seasons are all fleeting, be their spring, summer or fall, and it’s best to enjoy them for all they are, because before you know it, they’ve passed. So, a little reminder like today was just a nice change of pace and made you not take for granted what the Spring ‘norm’ is.

At the end of the day, I put out the trash, took a look around at the branches of the trees blowing, and re-entered the house, greeted to the smell of Meg’s homemade black bean soup. The baby was fed, his laughter ringing through our home as he squished avocado through his fingers and on his face, and that delicious aroma of the homemade soup just sent a comforting thrill through my entire being.

I poured myself a pint, sat down with a bowl of soup, looked at my lovely wife and son and was reminded that yeah, life is good.


dinner party retroEver since we’ve become parents, it has become, as expected, a lot more difficult to get together with friends and family, especially in the frequency that we used to.

Before, it was fairly easy to set up a coffee meeting with our friends or go grab dinner with some family without much challenge. As I’ve mentioned before, there’s a lot more to take into consideration these days with our little guy – his feeding schedule, his mood, his bedtime routine and keeping it routine, as well as our own exhaustion by day and week’s end.

However, we’ve recently started trying something. Something so simple, so novel and timeless, that it’s hard to come up with any sort of legitimate excuse as to why we hadn’t thought of it before  – having people over.

Years ago, it was not uncommon to have guests over at a particular night of the week; each person bringing a dish or a dessert. People got together and just socialized. Yes, before Facebook and text messaging, people actually got together in person at their homes and caught up on what was going on in their lives.

So, we’ve decided to start implementing this into our lives a bit more. Not only is it less expensive than meeting up at some restaurant with friends, as we make dinner here at home, think of how much more freedom you have to sit around, chat, let the baby be a baby and not worry about those around you or a waiter or waitress who you’re keeping from filling that table with other guests.

vintage dinner party 01On top of that, my wife and I have discovered a fun little side effects of these social Friday night dinners at home – having guests over and socializing on a Friday night makes the weekend seem longer than it actually is. Since we’re actually doing something with that evening, it never feels like it does when you get together on a Saturday night, which is that feeling of ‘ugh. tomorrow’s Sunday and then it’s back to work.” You almost feel like you’re getting extra time out of your weekend.

Not only that, but with a somewhat regular gathering at the home, it helps us stay on top of keeping the house cleaner than we had been otherwise.

Save a little money. See good friends and family. Enjoy good, homemade food, and get a little extra time to your weekend.

How can you go wrong?


bringing up bebeI just finished Pamela Druckerman’s book, “Bringing Up Bébé.”

.She’s an American journalist who moved to France with her husband where they gave birth to a daughter and two twin boys and quickly learned about the vast differences in culture, parenthood, and child rearing in France versus in America.

Druckerman covers a wide variety of topics in the course of her three kids’ arrivals into the world, but one of the most reoccurring observations is how calm and collected children in France are in contrast to the American parents often found chasing their kids around the park, the house, etc. They refer to it as “being sage,” a sense of calm in a child, whether they be at home or out in public.

From the French culture, she learns that parents give their children rules, but it’s a limited set of rules. Those rules are important and very strict, but there is freedom within those rules. For example, one example from her French friends is children having to be in their room at a certain time each night. Now, the children may play in the room, read, etc, but that’s where they go, to the room. The method behind this is that, eventually, the children will get tired and know it’s time to climb into bed and go to sleep. The line of thinking is that this sets up boundaries for children, but is not overbearing enough where they feel they have no freedom. Rules, with freedom within the rules.

Another big topic throughout Druckerman’s journey is food. American children can be notoriously picky eaters, but she finds that by starting children off with real food at an early age, and having them try new foods, adult foods, even if it’s puree early on, will develop an open-minded taste palate in children. She even recounts how many kids in restaurants in France aren’t offering off of some ‘children’s menu’ of pizza, chicken nuggets, etc, but real food off the real menu. Very very fascinating.

I’m really just cherry picking two topics that stood out the most to me in the course of her book.

So, is it possible?

french child beretDruckerman finds a way to take the good of the French style of parenting and blend it with her own American upbringing, but she does so why she’s living in France, a place where all children take part in a grand lunch so that their meals at dinner aren’t as large. There’s even a gouter in between. French kids don’t graze throughout the day like the American kids constantly walking around with a bowl of Cheerios. They have their breakfast, their larger meal of the day at lunch, a gouter (snack) in the afternoon, and then a smaller dinner.

And just because they are better behaved and understand that they have their own lives as do their parents, the children don’t appear to be automatons from this. No, they seem to be joyous, fun-loving little people, thoroughly enjoying life.

However, Druckerman does this while living amid the French culture for years, surrounded by the system that was already in place and having to adjust their American ways to it.

But what about Americans living in America? Do we have to pack up and live in Paris in order to make such a switch in the way our children grow in these aspects without American ‘norms’ getting in the way? Is it possible without peers and family saying that it’s “not how you raise a kid?” because it’s not how we were raised?

Now, notice I used the term “cherry picking” earlier. I did this for a reason, which is that I’m not making a blanket statement that I feel everyone should run out and do absolutely everything that the French parents do, or even what Druckerman’s family did in this book.

In fact, here’s an article from Forbes completely blasting the book, saying the methods take away a child’s individuality, promote socialism and promote forms of child neglect.

I can’t say I agree completely with that author, Erika Brown Ekiel, either.

Like much of life, it’s not about blanket statements or ideas that are cure-alls. It’s about finding your personal balance and what works for you.

For example, I love the idea about raising a child who loves the idea of exploring new foods and tastes, who aren’t raised on the kids’ menus of pizza and chicken nuggets. However, as I’ve stated in the past, I’m not a fan of the “crying it out method” when a child can’t sleep.

I like the way that  Druckerman describes the French authority of parents, creating a framework with a few key phrases throughout their childhood that produces those well-behaved children who are still having fun with the other kids, at the park or playroom. However, I’m not a fan of the dismissive nature of breast-feeding, as it comes across in the book, as I’m a big proponent of breast-feeding for mothers who have the ability to do so.

There’s a lot of question marks up in the air and you know what? Neither one of the authors I’ve mentioned (the book, or the article disapproving of the book) has all the answers. That’s why we, as readers, as consumers of knowledge, have to take in what we can, digest it, and discover what is appealing and useful to us, and what might not serve us well in life.

Maybe the best way to end this one is simply to say c’est la vie!


© Copyright 2012 CorbisCorporationYou can take a lot for granted before you have a kid.

Before our son was born, I never thought of how easily we would come and go from the house, run an errand here and there, pick up some groceries, or grab a bite to eat, without giving it a second thought.

Now, going to the grocery store is like planning the storming of Normandy.

A date night? Well, they don’t even really come into play, at least not this early in our little guy’s career as a being on Earth.

However, the exception was this past week when, for the first time since he was born, my wife and I actually got a chance to go out and have a night of our own. While the little one spent some quality time with one of his grandmas, we went out to dinner, and then caught a performance of “A Chorus Line” on its tour stop in town.

It seemed a little weird, the whole night. At dinner, while we both thoroughly enjoyed the meal (we both ordered steak, so this MUST have been a big night) there was the occasional “you think he’s okay?” sprinkled throughout our conversations, the glancing at the phones to make sure there were no messages.

After dinner, we went to the theatre, she checked in via phone and things were going all right except for the usual fussiness, and then we enjoyed the show.

CHORUS LINEI had never seen “A Chorus Line.” Meg had caught it in NYC some years ago, but it was all new to me. At first, I was sort of skeptical, finding the opening number just a tad too long for my liking and leaving me wondering if I was going to make it through the whole story.

I like when I’m pleasantly surprised, though. Once the characters started revealing themselves and the story took shape, I really ended up having a great time and enjoying the show. Don’t judge a book by its cover…or a show by its opening tune, I suppose.

When the curtain fell, we walked back to the car and hit the road, wondering the whole ride if we had been out too late, if he was okay the rest of the night, and if he had driven grandma to drink.

Upon our arrival, he was asleep in bed and all was well with the world.

Before we became parents, it was nothing to say ‘I’m just going to run to the store’ or ‘let’s go grab some dinner.’ Heck, if you go back to when we were dating, we went out without a thought all the time.

During all those periods of life, you never give a thought to the amount of leeway and freedom you have in the decisions you make and can choose at a split second. Honestly, why would you back then?

Now, there’s a lot more planning, a lot more shifting of the to-do lists.

But, it certainly makes you enjoy those rare date nights a lot more when the chance arises.


© Copyright 2011 CorbisCorporationLeaps and bounds, right into the mouth.

In the past week, our little guy has added solid foods to his menu. I say solid as in mushy, but heck, it’s certainly something a little more diverse than just milk, I’m sure.

Eventually we would like to begin making his food on our own. It’s amazing how much of a supply you can get out of simply pureeing a piece of fruit or vegetable, and how cost-effective! Of course, this is sometimes met with an eye roll or two from people who wonder why we would go to such trouble. I totally look forward to it, though.

Call me weird, but I look forward to the fun of choosing what types of food to make and making it as a family. Knowing what’s inside what he’s eating and where it came from. My wife and I have spent the past few years trying to eat local whenever possible. Here’s a perfect, inexpensive way for the baby to do so too. Not there yet, but I look forward to when we are.

Last week we started with Rice Cereal, which he lapped up excitingly. A few days later it was Oatmeal Cereal.

This week, drum roll please…it was sweet potato for our sweet potato, and boy, did he love it.

What a world-changing feeling to see that orange-smeared face smiling with a spoon in his mouth as he got his first tastes of new food, and liked it, to boot.

Times, they are a changing.

I might as well hand over the car keys now. 🙂



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