Posts Tagged ‘
Monday, December 12th, 2011
Though I’m still pretty new to this parenting thing, I have been noticing for the past several years the hilariousness of kids’ menus in non-fast-food restaurants.
Evidently, the food pyramid for children consists of peanut butter of jelly sandwiches, chicken fingers, pizza, and of course, macaroni and cheese.
Yes, I know the stress of eating out at restaurants with a kid. I’ve written about it before. Still though, it’s almost insulting that the popular food staples found on kids’ menus do not contain any unprocessed vegetables or fruit.
They are not nutritious meals; they are simply better than fast food snacks to keep a kid from whining that they’re hungry.
Even though we avoid eating out as much possible, there are times when we have no other option; like being on vacation.
Last week while we were test driving a Chevy Volt across southern Florida, our dinners mainly took place at the fancy restaurants in the glorious hotels we stayed at. Though we had brought our own fruits and veggies for our son Jack to eat throughout the three day trip, we still wanted to incorporate “big boy food” into his meals as well.
Right now Jack is in his “mac-and-cheese” phase. He’s obsessed, man. So naturally, that’s what I ordered each night for him at dinner. The first night in particular was my favorite.
After waiting a good 12 minutes or so for the cooks to prepare his mac-and-cheese, the waiter brought out a regular sized glass bowl as if it were the most premium version of the meal a person could find. It looked just like normal mac-and-cheese to me.
Jack ended up eating it in our hotel room. It tasted just like the normal stuff. Nothing over-the-top about it. Just plain ole mac-and-cheese.
But it cost 7 bucks! (Thankfully, we weren’t the ones paying for dinner.)
I mean, it’s already a joke when you have to pay 5 bucks for kids’ mac-and-cheese at most places… but 7 dollars?
For that much, the cheese needs to be made from magical goats in Switzerland that spit gold. The noodles should have been freshly hand-crafted by the grandson of Chef Boyardee himself. For seven dollars, when I changed Jack’s dirty after that meal, it should have smelled like Play-Doh.
Sunday, December 11th, 2011
Last week our son Jack got to experience the beautiful state of Florida for the first time. Thanks to Chevy inviting us to test drive a Volt from Fort Myers to Key West, we stayed our first night at the Hilton in Naples.
The next morning, Jack decided he wanted us all to go watch the sun rise together, because he woke us up with just enough time to take him out to the beach right behind the hotel.
I’m not sure that I have ever watched the sun rise on the beach, but as the dad and husband, I figured it was my duty to make sure my son and wife saw this legendary event. If nothing else, it was pretty Clark Griswald of me.
We had the whole beach to ourselves. Since Jack always loves his bath time every night, we assumed he would love the beach.
He didn’t like the sand between his toes. He didn’t like the ocean waves rushing towards him. He is no beach bum; that’s for sure.
Jack preferred to ride on my shoulders the whole time, admiring the ocean from a distance.
He liked when the three of us started walking along the beach, encountering plenty of mysterious crustaceans. We saved the lives of several shelled creatures that had been washed up on shore during the night. Before tossing each one back into the ocean, I would let Jack visually inspect it for approval.
We even found a live sea crab outside of his shell, looking for a new home. Hopefully, I was doing him a favor when I scooped him up and threw him back in the water. I was attempting to save him from being eating by one of the many birds flying above.
As for the most unique seashells that had already been evacuated, they are now serving as decoration at our house back in Nashville. (Because of our last name, it only makes sense we should incorporate shells into the theme of one of our rooms.)
In the meantime, my wife Jill saw dolphins occasionally popping up in the distance (though it may have been the same one?) and would point them out to me just in time to catch a glimpse.
I especially enjoyed finding a live starfish. It made me think of that classic (if not cliche) story about the boy who walked along the beach throwing all the starfish back into the sea. He is approached and questioned by an old man who warns him he will never be able to save all the stranded starfish in time, wanting to know why he should even bother. Then as the boy throws another starfish into the water, he replies, “It mattered to that one.”
Turning the starfish over, I showed Jack and Jill its thousands of tiny moving feet, proving it was indeed still alive. I then explained to them (as if a one year-old had a clue what I was saying…) that a starfish’s stomach leaves its body to digest its food externally.
We had gone out to the beach to see the sunrise and to let our son fall in love with the ocean. Instead, Jack was terrified of the sand and water. At least he got a free lesson in marine biology, thanks to his old man.
To see more pictures from our trip, and a video clip of Jack’s first time experiencing of sand and ocean waves, indulge yourself in The Dadabase Facebook page.
Categories: Growing Up, Home Life, Must Read, Nostalgia | Tags: beach, beach bum, Chevy, Chevy Volt, dolphin, Florida, marine biology, Naples, starfish
Friday, December 9th, 2011
A life motto of mine is, “The secret to having it all is believing you already do.”
I choose the simple life as much as possible, as an American. The last time I can remember truly yearning for a particular material item was probably back when I was a kid, before the Internet was practical and/or relevant; back when the phrase “cell phone” was automatically linked to “Zack Morris.”
There is so much power in not wanting. It can cause a person to truly ignore advertisements.
With that being said, I am a man who is struggling in his principles right now, because I really, really, really want a Chevy Volt… as much as I wanted a regular Nintendo in 1988.
The folks at Chevy reached out to my family recently, inviting us to go on a road trip in sunny Florida; starting in Naples, adventuring through the Everglades and the Florida Keys, and ending in Key West.
As a 30 year-old dad with a wife and a one year-old son, I represent an important and valuable demographic. By participating in a glorified test drive of the Chevy Volt, my family would illustrate the car… in real life.
So Chevy’s experiment ended up with extremely positive results, because now I share with the world the 7 reasons this dad (really!) wants a Chevy Volt:
1. For the entire 302 mile drive, I never had to fill up the gas tank. In fact, by the time the trip ended in Key West, I’m pretty sure I still had more than 3/4 of the tank left. The Volt goes about 35 miles on its electric energy before switching over to gas power, where it averages around 37 miles a gallon.
2. The car is flat-out cool. For a guy who’s not hip enough to have Internet on my phone, you can imagine what an awesome culture shock it was to use OnStar for the first time in my life. I called them to find out directions to the nearest Starbucks (for my wife) and they instantly downloaded the directions to the car.
Not to mention, I got to experience hands-free cell phone use through the car’s speakers, XM radio, and if I wanted to, I could have watched a DVD on the Volt’s built-in GPS screen. Plus, the one I drove was black with black and red interior. It totally made me think of Knight Rider.
3. It was the perfect size for me. To be the most fuel-efficient compact car sold in the United States, it didn’t feel small. Obviously, we had my son Jack’s car seat in the back, along with all our luggage, including his Pack-N-Play crib; but we still had plenty of room left.
4. The Volt is the perfect status symbol. Driving a Volt says, “I can afford a $40,000 car (minus a $7,500 U.S. federal tax credit) but A) I spend hardly anything on gas and B) I care about the environment.
5. It drives perfectly. Imagine driving a hovering cloud but not hearing a motor.
6. The Chevy Volt is an American car. Born and raised in south Detroit… Plus, I’m pretty sure the Volt is the answer to the age-old question, “What would Jesus drive?”
7. Driving the car makes you part of an elite club of Volt owners. It’s a Volt thing, you wouldn’t understand. Ever heard of the “Volt handshake?” (It involves one of those prank electric buzzers.)
Until the year 2015 brings us the flying car (as featured in Back to the Future, Part II) I will gladly settle for the next coolest car until then, a black and red Chevy Volt.
It actually did kind of remind me of a DeLorean and… and KITT from Knight Rider combined.
Thursday, November 3rd, 2011
Being chosen by General Motors as one of the eight “daddy bloggers” to visit their headquarters in Detroit reminded me of the 1971 movie musical, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory; only I had a golden ticket inside the largest car manufacturer in the entire world. Also, I wouldn’t be accompanied by my previously bedridden Grandpa or meet any Oompa Loompas who would sing creepy songs.
If this were simply a tour of the production line, I wouldn’t have been so engaged. But instead, I was invited to check out how GM designs the Chevy Traverse.
How exactly do they figure out where to put the cup holders? How do they keep the cabin of the vehicle from being too noisy by the time it’s filled with kids and traveling 70 mph on the interstate? How do they simulate years of wear and tear on the vehicle’s seats?
3D Virtual Reality Technology
Instead of building a prototype costing thousands of dollars each time, GM now uses what is called The CAVE (Cave Automated Virtual Environment); basically it’s a small three walled room in which the proposed interior design on the vehicle is projected. The tester, wearing virtual reality glasses, is able to interact with the layout of the interior.
I was able try it out; it was very cool. Even though I knew there was nothing really there in front of me, I kept trying to grab the gear shifter and turn the steering wheel. With those high-tech glasses, it all seemed completely real.
Ultimately, by using The CAVE, the designers and engineers are able to test the functionality of the layout; answering questions like, “Will the gear shifter get in the way of the cup in the drink holder?” As for myself, I felt pretty rad getting to play around with what seemed like a state of the art video game system.
Experiments with Actual Kids
“Take Your Kids to Work Day” is a big deal at GM. By placing actual children into the Chevy Traverse, the engineers are able to see how children of all ages and size will function inside the vehicle:
Can a child in the third row see the dvd player if they are shorter than 4′ 6″? Can a 5 year-old girl step up into the vehicle, or does there need to be a handle to assist her? Will a Nintendo DS fit into the storage unit? How well does a McDonald’s cup fit into the cup holders?
I learned that the placement of cup holders actually plays a pretty important role when designing a child-friendly crossover SUV!
Environmental Squeak and Rattle Simulator
By using a “four-post shaker” (featured above), engineers are able to get a good idea of how the Traverse will perform and sound even on the toughest of terrains. It replicates a variety of road surface conditions as each side of the vehicle is suspended at different grades. I got to sit inside the Traverse while they did this test- it reminded me of a ride at Disney World for Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. (That was back in 1990, though.)
Validation Quality Overview
The Traverse is exercised for 8 hours a day on a special test track; enduring steel potholes (pictured above), extreme desert temperatures and blasting rain in GM’s “Parade of Punishment” tunnel, and run through a giant gutter of water that is two feet deep. (I could have ridden in the Traverse when this picture was taken, but I didn’t feel like getting out into the rain to run over a steel pothole.)
Seat Durability Testing
Basically, they have this huge weapon/machine that beats the heck out of the seats. When passengers sit down in a seat, they don’t perfectly place their butt directly down. Instead, they sort of scoot over the side of the seat, then settle into it; day after day, year after year. These seats have to last a long time; therefore, this heavy duty machine does the job of giving engineers an idea of how a seat will look 10 or 20 years from now.
So those are the highlights of what I got to see during my visit at the GM headquarters using my golden ticket. Pretty interesting (and slightly weird) stuff, right? They obviously go through a lot of trouble to make sure the Traverse is a quality family SUV, yet is still masculine enough for a man to drive his kids around in: There’s a reason the Traverse doesn’t have sliding doors, like a mini-van.
More importantly though, how does the Traverse hold up against the competition? I didn’t even know this until I started writing this post yesterday, two weeks after getting back from Detroit, but Parents Magazine’s parents.com website rated Traverse among its best family cars in 2010.
Stay tuned for my next trip to the GM Headquarters when I go back to shoot a commercial for the Traverse; as I have been appointed its official spokesman, representing the new demographic of real American dads driving dadmobiles. Just joking- but I think it’s darn good idea…