Life in the Slow Lane

January 25, 2010

Disney princesses offer royal treat for kids

Filed under: Entertainment,Life,Parenting — pauljlane @ 5:30 pm

We took the kids to see the Disney on Ice “Princess Classics” show in Buffalo.

So many princesses.

All of the big names were there -— Cinderella, Snow White, Ariel, et al (how, by the way, did they all land princes to marry?) But they were quashed in volume by the dozens of little girls in full princess gear (not Penny, though, who had on a “The Princess and the Frog” shirt). Crowns, gowns, shoes — you name it, it was princessed out.

The show was longer than we expected, as we got out after 3 p.m. from a 1 p.m. start (there was a brief intermission). But it didn’t seem that long.

Most of the stories were rushed through, but that wasn’t a big deal. The kids just wanted to see their favorite characters, and the parents have seen the movies more than enough times to have the lines memorized. The skating, as you would expect, was top-notch, with the characters interacting with audience members and a few dazzling effects thrown in.

Penny loved pretty much the entire show (especially her new Snow White doll), while Rigby got a charge out of seeing Sebastian the crab and Goofy (he pointed and laughed, then commenced flirting with the young princess in the row behind us). The house was more full than I would have thought, with more than three-fourths of the lower bowl full for a Sunday afternoon show (shows take place Wednesday-Sunday in each city).

Was it worth going to? Well, Penny has spent the following day asking to see “The Princesses” again, so that that for what you will.


August 31, 2009

‘Backyardigans’ offer exciting (and scary) element to morning

Filed under: Entertainment,Parenting,Television — pauljlane @ 11:54 am

Part of Penny’s standard morning ritual is to ask for “The Backyardigans” to be put on the television and to sit in my lap while I feed Rigby. She always asks for “new one,” but we have to reply that there aren’t any, since she’s seen all her DVDs a bazillion times and the On Demand offerings are also repeats.

Well, the On Demand added a new episode this morning.

And it was one we hadn’t seen!!

“Really?!” my wife said, sitting up from the couch in mild excitement.

“Yep,” I replied as I turned up the volume, with Penny doing a happy dance next to me at the thought of her request actually being granted.

A minute later is when we realized how we’d reacted. Not to knock “The Backyardigans,” but since I see (and remember) them more than Penny – who likes the show as background noise when she plays – I’ve had my fill. So to have an episode I haven’t seen is, well, not exactly a treat, but it’s far less painful to watch.

Just to have one where I didn’t know the dialogue and couldn’t sing along, to not know the ending, was an unexpected surprise.

Yep. This is my life.

August 28, 2009

Book closes on ‘Reading Rainbow’

Filed under: Entertainment,Parenting,Television — pauljlane @ 2:08 pm

I was sad to see today that the popular PBS show “Reading Rainbow” will no longer be produced.

Created nearly 30 years ago, “Reading Rainbow”introduced generations of young viewers to book (I can remember resisting the call of the outdoors as a youngster to watch the program at 10 a.m. daily before running outside to play for the balance of the day). Host LeVar Burton did a terrific job of making reading fun.

I am sad that my children won’t get to experience the show (although there are videos in existence). Their love of books is already evident even at an age where they can’t yet read, but without “Reading Rainbow” I might have given up reading completely before I even entered my teens. Not only that, but theshow turned me on to numerous titles I might otherwise have missed out on.

Fare thee well, “Reading Rainbow.” You will be missed.

August 27, 2009

Ready to beat ‘The Fresh Beat Band’

Filed under: Entertainment,Parenting,Television — pauljlane @ 1:10 pm

I have yet to see a full episode of “The Fresh Beat Band,” Nickelodeon’s latest kids show that centers around singing, but I’ve seen enough of the promos to know that I never want to.nickelodeon-the-fresh-beat-band

Four kids – including two guys with the ridiculous names of Twist and Shout – go around singing about what seems to be anything they encounter on the street. The songs feature award-winning lyrics such as “Peel banana, feel banana, keepin’ it real banana” and other messages meant to enrich the lives of our younger generation (in fairness, the song does always catch my daughter’s attention, and she’ll sing “Banana, banana” when the promo pops up).

I realize that I am not the target audience, and I only have to not put the show on and that will be the end of it, but something about this show just irks me. Apparently, I am not alone in this sentiment.

Having grown up on the likes of Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry, this doesn’t do much to the adolescent portion of my brain. Whatever the intent, it’s just annoying drivel, and poorly done at that.

Don’t believe me? Just watch this video. If the “street-wise rapper kids can relate to” character doesn’t even rap as well as I do, then it’s time to hit the reset button.

Actually, two footnotes first: What are the odds that these people can actually play a musical instrument, and when did a DJ’s turntable become a musical instrument (it’s a method of creativity, sure, but not an instrument).

June 22, 2009

Crib Notes for Father’s Day, part 2

Filed under: Life,Parenting — pauljlane @ 9:33 am

As promised in the paper, here is the Crib Notes column I started to write for print, but I didn’t like where it was going so I abandoned the idea.


Nothing given to fatherhood, nothing gained

My children are a few years away yet from the tacky tie and homemade ash tray stage, but I nonetheless am thrilled to celebrate Father’s Day with them today.
Fatherhood is its own reward, but the privilege does have a bit of a price tag, both physical and mental. But when you look at the issue analytically and scrutinize the numbers, it’s clear that no price would be high enough to deter me from daddy duty.
1: Minimum number of shirt changes I perform in a typical day due to Rigby spitting up and/or Penny getting overzealous in her hugs before having the cheese dust/ketchup wiped off her hands/mouth.
A BAJILLION: Number of additional wardrobe changes I would complete, especially after watching Penny so cutely wipe off her own hands/mouth (actually cleaning herself off is a picky detail we’ll get to soon enough).

2-4: Number of hours fewer, per day, that I watch television now.
0: Number of times that chasing Penny around the backyard or pushing Rigby on the swing has gotten old.

3-4: Number of times in a typical day that Penny will cry and/or complain about not getting her way.
20-30: Number of seconds it takes her to get over the disappointment and move on to the next thing, a trait I hope both of our children take with them throughout life.

$50: Rough amount of money I’ve spent while entertaining myself at a bar, movie theater or other late-night hangout since I became a father.
$3,000: Estimated amount of money I’ve saved in that process, as well as foregoing most other nights out to instead spend time with the kids.
400: Number of toys (or so it would seem, at least) enjoying what’s pretty much become permanent residence on the floor of our computer room (since renamed “play room”).
10: Approximate number of toys Penny plays with on a regular basis; the others mainly serve as decorations and/or projectiles.
1,700: Rough number of poopy diapers I’ve changed.
100: Percent of the time that I’ve drawn a laugh during the “smell the stinky feet and lunge backward in mock disgust” routine that I usually perform during said diaper change.

2,200: Estimated number of lost hours of sleep I’ve accumulated since Penny was born in July 2007. I used to sleep about nine hours a night, and in calculating this I used a (maybe generous) number of six hours per night now. I then added about 150 hours in for all of the late-night feedings, extra-early awakenings, etc.5,000: Roundabout number of instances in which Penny’s or Rigby’s smile/laugh has energized me to Popeye-after-eating-spinach levels.
$300,000: Approximate lifetime cost of raising Penny and Rigby (each, not cumulative).
NOTHING: What I’d trade the privilege of spending that money for.
Contact Paul Laneat 693-1000, ext. 116,or

May 21, 2009

The lost Daddy’s Little Girl/Crib Notes column!

Filed under: Life,Parenting — pauljlane @ 3:51 pm

In the features department, we have to print the edition a week ahead of time. Before Rigby was born, I wrote a column that was written as though he were born, but since he wasn’t by the time my deadline passed I couldn’t discuss him.

Of course, he was born on Jan. 17 (a Saturday) and I was able to write a column mentioning him before my Monday deadline. But while cleaning out my computer system today, I found that written-yet-unpublished column. Here it is for you to enjoy, in its unedited glory.


Free at last. Free at last. My wife thanks God that Little Lane No. 2 is free at last.
Our wait is finally over, as we welcomed our second child into the world this past week.
What are the gender and name? I can’t tell you now. This column had to be written before the delivery due to this section’s early deadline, so as I type I actually still await the baby’s arrival (the doctors promised that the baby would be induced if not delivered this past week, so that’s how I can write with confidence that the baby is here as you read this).
So while I eagerly await my first meeting with my second child — and begin to seriously ponder what this space will be called next time I write this column — I have a couple observations I’ve made over the past couple weeks to discuss.
• I am not just sucking up when I say my wife’s tolerance for pain is superhuman.
For weeks — months, really — she’s dealt with the immense discomfort of carrying our child. As I went to work each day, she took care of Penny while unable to find a comfortable position in which to sit … or walk, or stand, or lay down.
She had me feel her stomach a few weeks ago, and my hand met the baby’s foot as it pressed into my wife’s ribs — the leg fully extended and rigid, with not an ounce of give to it. I complain when I get a paper cut on my thumb, and she deals with being kicked in the gut on the inside while also straightening up the house and playing with Penny.
Is it annoying for me to make late-night sponge candy runs and call local eateries inquiring about the power of their eggplant parmigiana to induce labor? Maybe a little. But once my task is done the inconvenience is over, while her discomfort is constant.
She has to use the bathroom every 60 minutes or so, can’t sleep for more than a couple hours a night, struggles to get upright and has spent days at a time with insufferable nausea — and she’d do it all again in a snap.
Not to discount my love for my children, but a mother’s love truly is amazing.
• As Penny’s vocabulary has continued to expand, she’s begin to conduct basic conversations with us, most of her sentences being no longer than two words long (with an accompanying point toward what she wants) yet completely comprehensible.
Recent visits with family, though, have showed me that it might be as much the parental bond as Penny’s brilliance (and she IS brilliant) that leads to our interaction.
My family came over not too long ago, and even as I knew exactly what Penny was asking my mother prompted her to repeat it or quizzically pondered what Penny was trying to say (it’s OK for me to mention my mother in this circumstance because, like I said, a mother’s love allows for forgiveness).
I found myself a couple times defiantly repeating the blatantly obvious messages Penny was telling my mother, wrapped in disbelief that my mom couldn’t comprehend her granddaughter.
But then I began to re-examine the issue. My wife and I spend the most time with Penny, and we’ve gone through a great deal of trial and error to decipher much of what she’s saying (one example: When Penny says “dada,” she could be referring to me, Cookie Monster or Elmo’s goldfish Dorothy, depending on who/what she’s looking at).
We’re used to her speech, so it therefore is much easier for us to understand Penny’s meaning (which, judging by several fitful nights of sleep she recently had while stuck with a cold, we have yet to fully get). Heck, we’ve even helped her coin some of the phrases she’s adopted (”nana” means “The Backyardigans,” “mih” means “milk,” “teese” means “macaroni and cheese”), so it makes sense that other people might sometimes get lost when Penny speaks.
Actually, on second thought, Penny’s too smart not to be understood. My mom just needs to clean out his ears.

May 8, 2009

She’s a persistent one, that daughter of mine

Filed under: Life,Parenting — pauljlane @ 11:30 am

For a short while, Penny was infatuated with my first name, uttering it as though “Paul” was the word that meant every single person, place and thing she saw.

That habit thankfully died out after a few weeks, but a second wave of Pauliosis has overcome that baby girl, one that’s still a tiny bit amusing even as it’s becoming clear that it will be harder to shake this time.

Last weekend, Penny suddenly reverted from Daddy back to Paul. She’d say Daddy just to suck me in, then smirk, utter Paul and gleefully continue as I corrected her time after time.

My wife suggested ignoring her using my given name, which I’ve tried throughout this past week. That’s not so easy, though, when she so cutely says “Paul, Paul, Paul” while grabbing my face with both hands and trying to turn my head so that I’m looking right at her. I attentively respond whenever she sneaks a Daddy in there, but it’s quickly replaced with another Paul, and the game goes on.

Penny’s also started calling her maternal grandmother by Ma’s first name, which is kinda cute but equally not so good.

We really have no idea what’s triggered this relapse. It will be corrected in time, but the time in between will involve a lot of gentle correcting and ignoring, both of which are not what we want to spend our time doing with Penny.

And Penny’s doing a lot of resisting – stubbornness, it might be called by some people. I don’t know where she possibly have gotten that from, certainly not Dear Ol’ Dad.

April 24, 2009

My son the Internet sensation

Filed under: Life,Parenting — pauljlane @ 1:13 pm

Here’s a short movie of Rigby smiling. Watch it, love it, watch it again.

March 23, 2009

Daughter + vaccum = newest infatuation

Filed under: Life,Parenting — pauljlane @ 12:18 pm

So there I was Sunday, vaccuming our living room, when Penny decided to come over.

She usually will laugh when I pretend to “get her” with the vaccum, but this time her curiosity oozed over. She wanted the vaccum – and she wanted it now.

First she helped me with some of the vaccuming, learning which was “push” and which was “pull.” Then she put her face over the hole that air was blowing out of, causing her to giggle with delight as the air forced her hair to scatter about. Then, for reasons I can’t explain, she tried to sit on the vaccum over … and over … and over again, as though she were taking over in Mario’s quest to stomp Koopas.

She spent the rest of the time trying to get in front of the vaccum and either grab it or plunk her bum on it. All the while, she was amazed by the device, even trying to take it apart when it came time to empty the contraption that collects all the dust and hair.

Seeing her enjoy the vaccum so much was strange, but it was pretty amusing as well. Now if I could just get her to be as enthusastic about the laundry …

February 17, 2009

More from my baby Penny Lane

Filed under: Life,Parenting — pauljlane @ 11:08 am

YouTube sensation, I’m tellin’ ya.

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