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Product Review – ORE Splat Mat

LTD aka the human wrecking ball is at his happiest when he is making a total and complete mess. Armed with this knowledge I can only try and stay one step ahead of him. The ORE Splat Mat is a worthy ally in my ongoing battle to keep the house clean from the little guys mission. The Retro Robot Tabletop version features robots and robot parts from a by gone era. Hopefully, when he is older LTD will ask me if that is really what robots used to look like. And will tell him that unlike the robot nanny that is raising him, robots from the Happy Days era did indeed look boxy. While the mat is non-toxic and lead-free coated cotton it doesn’t have a way to secure itself to the table allowing the little guy to whip it from any surface. For now we use the mat when he is supervised during crayon coloring time. I remain optimistic that when LTD is old enough to sit at the table and eat a meal without feeling the need to throw everything off the top, he will enjoy looking the cool robot mat.


Yeah, Are You Gonna Finish That?

Normally, I have to inhale my lunch over the sink while LTD takes his nap. I never know how long he will be asleep for and have to plan accordingly. However, occasionally, I will eat in front of him. When that happens all hell breaks loose. When eating in front of friends, co- workers or family; you may say, this is good, try a taste or they may say, that looks yummy can I have a bite? Well, LTD has no use for such polite manners. He demands a bite. He lets his desire for your food be known through physical and verbal actions. He points and waves his hand in the direction of the delicious pizza you are about to eat. He screams ‘uh’ over and over and over again until you simply break. Don’t even get me started on what happens if you try and eat Dairy Queen in front of him. The whole scene turns into Lord of the Flies and I get to be that Piggy kid with the glasses. Time for me to go back to eating quickly over the sink.

Why is my Tongue Blue?

As long time readers of Beyond the Car Seat know I spend a lot of time in grocery stores as they are one of the few places open early in the morning. One of these trips yielded a boon of sorts. It turns out blueberries are in season and so the store was having an insane sale. Four pints for five bucks. The amazing thing about the sale was that it also applied to the organic blueberries. I thought to myself, that can’t be right, so I also thought it out loud to the clerk and made him double check. Organic blueberries are important because according to The Mommy blueberries suck up pesticides big time. Long story short we had now had a ton of blueberries in the house.

Well I’m here to tell you that LTD only had one thing to say on the subject and that was, bring it on. The little guy ate a little less than a pint by himself at one sitting. As fast as I could pour them out he sucked them down. The only thing standing in his way of perpetual eating was the fact that he would occasionally smush them with his finger before eating them. You can guess what the only problem with eating that many blueberries is, yup, that’s right folks we had some amazing diapers to the loan the diaper museum in Parsippany.

Product Review – Constructive Eating

Long time Beyond the Car Seat readers know that the best products are either ones I can use with LTD or ones that I want for myself. Constructive Eating has developed something that is so cool that I want them to make an adult version, so I don’t look silly when I use the little guys. In fact, this thing is so cool LTD can’t even really use it yet, but I get it out just to watch the carnage. Constructive Eating was designed to get kids to have fun while feeding themselves, which is code for getting them to eat their vegetables. The set comes with a bulldozer pusher, a forklift fork, and a front loader spoon. You can also get the construction plate to better use the utensils in a proper work zone environment. The great thing about the set is that unlike many construction sites you don’t need to worry about organized crime or kickbacks while your kid is eating. However, you should note that using Constructive Eating will not get your kid in the union and will not count as job experience on the resume.

Sadly, LTD can’t really use the utensil very well and like many construction sites I too need a dumpster for the waste when he is done working. Still, it is fun to watch. In fact right now all he builds is a mess, but I’m hoping, as he gets older he will be able to construct a pea pyramid or mashed potato condo. I’m also hoping he will start us them more so I can stop. The Mommy is getting embarrassed.

Are You Kidding Me?

Thanks to the DVR I don’t watch a lot of commercials, but I did catch one the other day for a product that truly makes me fear for western civilization. I give you Cupcake Pebbles. I’ll skip over the lectures on America’s obesity and diabetes problems and get right to the ridiculousness of eating cupcakes for breakfast and trust me if you are going to eat a cupcake for breakfast man up and eat a real one. I salute Post for blowing right past Cookie Crisp and anxiously await the arrival of brownie cereal. In addition to waiting for ice cream flavored cereal, I will also enjoy waiting for the day when LTD begs me to buy him a bag of sugar to eat for breakfast and the tantrum that will result when I decline.

Seedless, Baby, Seedless

While Summer may not have officially arrived it sure seems that way in our household. LTD has discovered a passion for watermelon. Thanks to the seedless variety, the little guy chomps away on the pink stuff with amazing gusto. It really is the perfect thing for him to eat because he can hold the rind and feed himself. And it really is the perfect thing for us because when he spends it around and tries to eat the rind it makes us laugh really hard. I will add that the mess he creates while munching with abandon is quite large and wet, yet all things considered isn’t that hard to clean up so I say bring it on. Lastly, I will mention that if you take a bite of his watermelon in front of him, he doesn’t get mad, he laughs hysterically and for that reason I myself have rediscovered the joys of watermelon.

Interview – Così Restaurants

Welcome to the second conversation in the Beyond the Car Seat interview series. The Mommy and I often enjoy eating out, but with LTD getting increasingly both more mobile and vocal our options are limited. However, the one place we have found that meets all our needs is Cosi. Not only do they have a kid friendly set up, they also offer a free rewards program that includes 10 entrees and the 11th is free. I spoke with Bob Speirs, vice-president of operations, Così Restaurants about Cosi and why it rules.

What would you say is Cosi’s kid friendly philosophy and how did the company arrive at it?
At Così, we’re always working to create an atmosphere unique to the neighborhoods where our restaurants are located and that serves the guests the visit us. For many of our restaurants, this means ensuring that a mom and dad who want to have a great salad or a worldly sandwich also have options for their children that provide choice and taste.

How has the response been to the family atmosphere?
Our guests have overwhelmingly supported the environment that, for many, goes beyond standard options for families with children.

What is the most popular kids item on the menu?
Our guests have many favorites. While there isn’t a clear standout in the kids menu, pizza is always going to be a favorite with the kids and our recent introduction of Così Thin Crust Flatbread Pizza has been warmly received.

Of course, popular with parents are our other options that they can feel good about giving to their kids like fresh fruit, baby carrots and non-fat milk.

Is there anything coming up in the future involving the kids menu or activities?
Like the rest of our menu, we’re always looking for improvements based on the feedback of our guests and our own desire to continually improve the Così experience. We recently held The Così Little Chefs contest that gave our guests and their children an opportunity to submit a new menu item to us. We’re working now to see how the winning entry may work its way to our menu.

What happens when adults, like my wife, want to order off the kids menu?
We’re certainly flattered to think that our kids menu is good enough to satisfy adult tastes.

PS: Am I the only one who orders my son the fruit cup?
The fruit cup is actually a very popular choice, so much so that we’re looking into seasonal fruit options for the summer like seedless watermelon.

LZ Come and Get it

With Dog Week nearing an end, I would be remiss if I didn’t really re-enforce the fact that our dog, LZ, loves food. Most of the time this craving is a pain in the butt when The Mommy and I want to have a meal at home or a heaven forbid a party. For years the rallying cry has been LZ off. However, with the baby eating food under his own power the dog’s addiction has been our ticket to avoiding the vacuum or broom. Now when the baby drops (or more accurately throws) food on the floor instead of yelling LZ off we get to say LZ come. With the exception of avocados and raisins, the dog is our little baby clean up machine. As I have mentioned before, too bad the pooch can’t also clean the baby’s face after each meal, but I am told the practice is considered “mal vu.”

High Noon

One of the side effects of having a baby, and this should come as no surprise to anyone, is that you wake up early. Very early. Waking up early comes with its own set of side effects. For me, perhaps the hardest of these is that I know get hungry a lot earlier in the day. Does anyone want to guess what happens when I eat lunch at 11:30 or noon? That’s right, I want to eat another lunch around four. You don’t even have to guess what all this has done to my belly. Like the baby, it’s only growing in one direction. Yet another side effect that is damaging my health results from my eating at a pace that would make a NASCAR team proud. If the little guy takes his nap around noon I’m all set, it’s like eating at Tavern on the Green with my sandwich morphing into one of Mario Batali’s specialties. However, if LTD doesn’t feel like sleeping and my stomach growls, I am left with no choice. Not only do I eat wicked fast, but I usually make poor food decisions. Trust me, you don’t want to know about my fruit roll up casserole. The moral of the story is that I need to drink a lot more water and pray he sleeps at noon.

Decoy Spoon

Mealtimes with LTD have always been a voyage into the unknown. We never know where the food will end up or how much the dog will eat. Now a new challenge has presented itself during chow time. LTD wants to feed himself with the spoon. How do we know he wants to feed himself? He grabs the spoon as it comes near his mouth. Can anyone guess what happens to pears and oatmeal after a baby, with all the grace of a rhinoceros with a meth problem, grabs the spoon? However, The Mommy and I have come up with a simple solution. We call it the decoy spoon. By giving the little guy the decoy spoon he distracts himself long enough that we can get most of the food in or near his mouth. Of course in the nothing is ever easy category, he usually drops the decoy spoon on the floor after the first bite because he thinks it’s funny.