Tuesday, April 29, 2014

How to Travel with 2 Kids Under the Age of 3 in 25 Easy Steps

We recently traveled to Chicago and Indiana for my brother's graduation, my mother's retirement party and visiting family. Here is how we survived flying from Los Angeles to Chicago in 25 easy steps.

1. Have a super organized spouse.
2. Said spouse makes a spreadsheet of all packing supplies.
3. Pack all the tiny kids clothes in a huge suitcase and wonder how it is possible that all those clothes take up so much space. 
Cram your stuff into carry on. Feel proud that you packed suitcases while still watching two kids.
4. Realize you don't know where 25% of the things on the packing list currently reside.
5. Make sure there are TV shows and/or movie loaded on to the iPad. Get over the fact that your child will be having 2-3 hours of "screen time". Also, purchase some new toys, books and stickers that may or may not entertain your toddler.
On the car rental shuttle at O'Hare.

6. Text taxi driver to confirm pick up. Taxi must arrive 2.5 hours before departure.
7. Have a huge car seat bag. Throw all the things that do not fit in your luggage in said bag.
8. If you have a morning flight, wake up early so you can actually shower before getting both kids ready for the flight.
9. Somehow load two car seats into the taxi with all the luggage. Make sure both kids are in the car seats as you tax off.
10. Pay the cab driver and force yourself into the sky cab line. Stuff the car seats into their car seat bags with random luggage. Negotiate with the sky cab on how many bags the airline will charge you. Realize that you need a new luggage system for a family of four. Make sure to keep your stroller as it is used for pushing kids and/or remaining luggage.
11. Tell your spouse how much you tipped the taxi cab driver and sky cab. Begin to question yourself on your tip amount. Tell yourself to never tell your spouse your tip amounts in the future.
12. Pray that your flight will be on time.
13. Somehow take off your shoes, belt, jacket, etc. while holding onto a child. Hope that you can find a family having a worst time than you. Luckily once, we spotted a family of four where the mother said "this is a disaster!"
14. After getting through security, find ways to entertain your kids while waiting to board the plane and pay an insane amount for food to eat while on the plane.
15. While boarding the plane, give mean looks to people who are flying solo and show your envy of them.
16. Pray that you still have the iPad.
17. Hope that you are sitting by an understanding parent or loving, sweet grandparent.
18. Try to entertain your toddler with new toys and stickers. Give up and ask said toddler if they want to watch a video on the iPad.
19. Even though the seat belt sign is on and the flight attendants are serving drinks, go to the back of the plane and try to get your infant to sleep. Get into an argument with the flight attendant. Tell them that you understand the seat belt light is on, but you need to get your child to sleep.
20. After infant is sleeping on your chest, hope they stay that way for the next 3 hours. Realize you will not be getting a drink with a sleeping infant on your chest.
21. Make sure both kids are awake when the flight lands. We have found out the hard way that it is difficult to get off a plane with 2 sleeping kids and 3 bags.
21. Hopefully locate your luggage and try to swipe a luggage cart. Try to figure out how to get kids and luggage out to the taxi cab pick up area.
22. Taking a risk to not rent a car until we leave the hotel two days later, pray that the taxi cab line is not too long. We have learned this the hard way and once had to cram into a town car with a lady who will always be a saint to us.
23. Negotiate with the cab driver and fight through traffic to the hotel.
24. Pay and tip and taxi cab driver and the hotel bellman. Do not disclose to your spouse how much the tip was this time.
25. Realize that it wasn't that bad and your kids love taxi cabs, airplanes, and hotels.

After surviving travel with these 25 easy steps, remember that you have to do it all over again to get back home.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Should I Let My Son Play Football When he Gets Older?

My son Caden is approaching 3 years old in June. Yet, at an early age, I have already thought about and discussed with others: “Should I let my son play football when he gets older?”

The reason for the discussion and the debate is the recent discovery of concussions in football and the after effects on football players after they retire from the game. Even President Obama stated that he would not let his hypothetical son play football.

I am a football fan, even though my two favorite teams growing up were the Cincinnati Bengals and Indiana Hoosiers. I played basketball, baseball and football growing up and played basketball in high school. Both my father and brother were high school football players; my brother’s team played in the Indiana High School Football championship game.  So my take is not based on a person that never played sports.

I recently read the book League of Denial by Mark Fainaru-Wadaand Steve Fainaru. The book details concussions suffered by former NFL players Steve Young, Merril Hoge and Gary Plummer among others and the tragic deaths of DaveDuerson, Andre Waters, Junior Seau and Jack Lambert.

The book detailed that Duerson, Seau and Lambert suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a degenerative brain disease, resulting from repetitive head trauma, that some believe causes symptoms of dementia, such as memory loss, aggression and depression. For decades, this disorder was only associated with former boxers — its original name was “dementia pugilistica,” or “punch drunk” disease.

Of course, since the Major League Baseball strike in 1994, football is now America’s most favorite sport. It brings joy to fans on weekends (and now weekdays), tailgating, fantasy football, gambling and fan allegiance. The NFL made nearly $10 billion last year alone.

However, will the NFL be in trouble because parents begin to ban their sons from playing football? In the book, Joe Maroon, one of the NFL’s first brain specialists, lays out the threat to the league: “If only 10 percent of mothers in America begin to conceive of football as a dangerous game, that is the end of football.” Here are some of the recent findings and factors:

The future of football will be interesting. Will new rules and technology protect football players? Will youth football be concentrated in the Midwest and South because parents who live along the coasts begin to prevent their kids from playing football? Will football become a sport for just low income families, as higher income families’ flock to sports such as lacrosse and soccer? Malcolm Gladwell stated that “football could become like the Army, where you know the risks and sign up anyway, and it becomes an activity for people who have nowhere else to go.”

After reading
League of Denial and the reports of potential long-term effects of repeated head injuries, I am finding it difficult to believe that football is 100 percent safe for children. On the other hand, I am against “overprotecting” and “bubble wrapping” our children. 

I understand that there is a slim chance that my son will play college football or will have a future in the NFL. When Caden reaches the age of wanting to play sports, it will be an interesting discussion on whether to allow him to play football or not. However, why let him risk a brain injury in youth or high school football when he will not likely play college or pro football? Hopefully, he will choose to become a runner, baseball player, swimmer or volleyball player instead.