Tips Archives - 2 Dads with Baggage
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Surviving Cheerleading Competitions: A Parents’ Guide

Surviving Cheerleading Competitions: A Parents’ Guide

So your daughter has joined a competitive cheerleading team, huh? She’s super duper hyper fantasmagorically excited and into it, and you may be feeling perhaps less so. Not that you are being unsupportive of your daughter, but you probably didn’t plan on becoming a cast member on Dance Moms (or in our case, Dance Dads).

We can relate, and after having a few of these under our belts we offer Five Tips on how best to get through the very long weekend with our handy Parents’ Guide to Surviving Cheerleading Competitions:

  1. Booking the Hotel

Organizers almost always insist that you book a room in the group hotel, usually part of the mandatory competition contract in order for your daughter to compete. There are no exceptions. Or are there????

Since this may or may not be a hotel room that makes you want to sleep with your clothes on and scan the bedding with a blacklight to detect uninvited “guests,” you do have options. Go ahead and book the cheapest room you can find at that group hotel, and then research the area for an AirBnB where you would rather stay – and book there too.

Really, it’s worth paying a little more to have the hotel room for staging your daughter’s hair and makeup near the competition venue, while you enjoy a restful sleep at the better digs down the street that is NOT overrun by screaming girls full of cheerleading fervor and too much sugar.

Trust me on this.

Ava and one of her besties put the final touches on their stage makeup


2. Bring Your Charger

Do not – I repeat – DO NOT forget to bring your charger to the competition area. You will spend countless time on your phone, occupying yourself during all the times your daughter is not actually on the stage competing (which lasts about 3.5 minutes out of the 8 hours you will be there.)

If you are lucky enough to get a signal inside the convention center, you will have a lot of time to text friends you haven’t seen since high school, balance your bank accounts, purchase your holiday gifts on Amazon even though it’s only March, and become an expert gamer playing Halo5. And that’s before lunch.

You will neeeeeeed that charger – it is now your lifeline to sanity for the duration.

  1. Booze Is Necessary

Okay, I know it’s not PC but I don’t care. A little snort of vodka can go a long way when 200,000 girls are crammed into a convention center with blaring dance music, flashing strobe lights, an emcee straight from a TV game show, and screaming hoards of parents/grandparents/fans and various hangers-on.

Bring a hip flask. Quick, buy one here if you don’t already own one. If you have to, stash something in the car. Spike your Starbucks cup. Do whatever it takes to get through. You will receive no judgment from us – just a request for a sip.

***If you do not drink, please see Tip #2.

  1. Bring Snacks

I don’t need to remind you that convention center food is shit. And restaurants surrounding convention centers is often also shit. You must arm yourself with healthy snacks to combat the smell of rancid pizza and overcooked hotdogs.

We usually pack:

  •             apples and oranges
  •             cheese sticks
  •             bottled water
  •             pretzels and other crunchy things from Trader Joe’s
  •             protein bars
  •             Girl Scout cookies (don’t judge, they are still better than the nasty pizza)

Or if you are too lazy to bring your own eats, download the PostMates app and have them delivery something delicious to the convention center front door.

The hair frenzy before the compeitition. Thank goodness for the help of friendly cheer moms!

  1. Make Friends With The Other Parents

You may be concerned these other parents are really too into the whole competition thing – and maybe some of them are. Yet they are still really awesome, wonderful people you will be seeing regularly at every practice, competition and activity for the rest of the year. Get to know them, and they will have your backs. Ran out of bobbie pins? Check. A nearby cheer mom has a stash in her purse. Curling iron broke in mid-prep? No worries, one of the other families is bound to have an extra. It takes a village!

We were surprised at what a great community is formed around the team, and how warm and friendly these moms and dads are when welcoming new parents to the gang. It has been an unexpected side benefit, and made us so much more comfortable.

Plus who knows when you might need to borrow their phone charger, or loan them a gulp of your spiked Starbucks. Give and take, baby. Give and take.

Not so bad, right? It’s a great sport, and the team spirit is very empowering for the girls. Your daughter loves it, and you love your daughter so suck it up. Just come prepared, and you will make it through with a smile on your face and hopefully a champion cheerleader in your family.

Please let us know if you have any tips to share back in this direction. After all, sharing is caring, and this is a team sport for the parents too!

To read more about this whole experience, check out our earlier post on attending our first competitive cheerleading event.

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Prepping Our Kids for Babysitting with CPR Training

Prepping Our Kids for Babysitting with CPR Training

Our girls are of the age where they can offer babysitting services to our friends and neighbors with little kids, but we’re not about to send them out there without the proper training. In order for us (and other parents) to feel confident in their abilities to act in an emergency, we all signed up for a class prepping our kids for babysitting with CPR training.

After years of spending tons of money buying our kids stuff they needed and didn’t need, it’s time they start earning their own. And babysitting seems like the naturally best option, since they are both great with little kids and enjoy playing with them. So we signed up for CPR training at the local YMCA, and set off for an evening of fun.

Well, I guess that depends on your definition of fun. Thank goodness for Marla, our friendly trainer with the thick Bahston accent – she made a very serious subject interesting, and yes even fun. Thankful for Marla’s good sense of humor, we all four learned a lot and left the session certified to administer CPR if ever needed. (I think the kids would prefer never needing to do it, since the whole mouth-to-mouth part made them squirm a bit.

Sophia looks excited to practice mouth-to-mouth on her dummy "Darryl" Sophia looks excited to practice mouth-to-mouth on her dummy “Darryl”

Here’s the basics of what we learned:


  • First check to see if the person is responsive at all. Marla suggested tapping firmly on the shoulder and a loud “HEY! Are you okay?”
  • Take charge of the scene – send one person to call 911 and another to get an AED (Automated External Defibrillator). If you are alone, put your phone on speaker and dial 911 so you can have your hands free to begin CPR.


  • If there is an AED, use it! Marla demonstrated on a dummy, making sure to warn us to clear everyone from touching the person before delivering the shock. After all, we don’t want more than one victim to treat.
  • The AED is pretty smart – it speaks loudly and tells you exactly what to do.


  • This stands for the order of treatment in CPR: compressions, airway and then breathing
  • Marla had us chant this over and over until it stuck. Kinda like a Rhianna song.


  • Put the palm of your hand in the center of the person’s chest between the nipples (this made the girls giggle) and then place the other hand on top of the first. Sit up on your knees over the person’s body, extend your arms fully and lock your elbows.
  • Push straight down hard – about two inches of compression into their chest.
  • Do this thirty times fast – 120 beats per minute (basically the speed of a fast dance track).


  • After the 30 reps, gently tilt their head back and lift their chin to see if they are breathing.
  • Check their mouth to see if you can see any choking obstruction, and clear it with your finger if you can.
  • If there is no breathing, no chest motion, and you cannot hear air movement if you put your ear to their mouth, then move to the next stage.


  • Pinch the nose shut, cover their mouth with your mouth, and give them two quick breaths – one right after the other.
  • Look for chest motion to see if the breath got in.
  • If they do not resume to breathing on their own, start the compressions again for another 30 reps.


  • Repeat this process until you tire – usually about 3-4 minutes.
  • Marla warned the entire process is exhausting, and if there is someone else nearby, they should be ready to take over for you as you tire
  • Take turns until the paramedics arrive.

Marla also covered how to give CPR to kids (same instructions as above) and for babies: use two fingers into their chest instead of your whole hand, and be more gentle to ensure you don’t shake the baby’s little noggin.

While we took turns practicing on the dummies under Marla’s direction, Sophia and Ava went from giggling and embarrassed teens to fairly serious administration of CPR. By the end of the session, they had it down.

Sophia learns compression on her dummy "Darryl" Sophia learns compression on her dummy “Darryl”

Now that’s not to say one of us (ok maybe me) wouldn’t panic in an emergency and forget everything we just learned, but then again maybe our training would kick in and the adrenaline would power us through. Marla would be so proud!

Next up for training: First Aid. Knowing what happens to me when I see blood – or really even the subject is discussed – the girls will be practicing their CPR skills on Dad sooner than anyone thought…

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Highway to Hell

Highway to Hell

We took a road trip up the California coast, and the kids WERE. NOT. HAVING. IT. It seems wifi has become the single most important component in whether a vacation will be happy (or not). As we curved our way up Highway 1 into the wilds of Big Sur and beyond, the craggy coastline gave way to zero bars on the signal symbol. Hysterics ensued.

Read on for my recent recounting in my Family Afar column for San Diego Magazine, aptly entitled Highway to Hell.

Lessons learned.

The search for wifi turns Sophia into a living cell tower The search for wifi turns Sophia into a living cell tower




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Flying From Tijuana Airport Is Easy

Flying From Tijuana Airport Is Easy

When we first started talking about a family vacation in Mexico, flying from the Tijuana Airport seemed like a great option – and bonus points because it was easy and cheap!

Now before I go on, please purge from your list of negative associated with Tijuana – it is completely safe and very US-friendly. If our family is anything like yours, you might be feeling a little dubious about crossing the border to fly from Mexico. Truthfully, years ago when the border situation was a little rough, we may not have felt comfortable. But things have been safe for many years now, and our experience was flawless.

Knowing we would be traveling with several families from different cities, we planned the destination in Mexico first and the flights came afterwards. When comparing flights from Tijuana versus San Diego or Los Angeles, there was a remarkable cost savings. We ended up buying first class tickets on Aeromexico from Tijuana to our final destination in Mexico, which were still less expensive than flying in coach seats from San Diego! This was also a better deal than flying from LAX, so our LA family drove down to the border to join us.

Entering the US side of the CBX Bridge was a piece of cake Entering the US side of the CBX Bridge was a piece of cake

Even more compelling, a new cross-border pedestrian bridge was just completed that connects directly into the Tijuana Airport. The Cross Border Xpress (CBX) facility was recently opened, and the buildings on the US side are architecturally gorgeous, open and clean.

The process at CBX was ridiculously easy (and faster than LAX to be sure). We followed the simple directions to the CBX location, parked our car in their convenient lot for $15/day, and checked into our Aeromexico flights on the US side of the border. From there, we paid the small fee of $14 per person, and then walked the short distance across the border using the elevated bridge. On the Mexican side, we cleared customs and walked directly into the lobby of the Tijuana Airport.

The whole process took about 15 minutes from start to finish. Inside the airport, we proceeded to check our bags and go through security – the lines for both were short and fast-moving. We were astonished to find ourselves with too much time in the waiting area for our flight, which NEVER happens in our family (usually the opposite because we are always rushing to be on time).

Even the architecture of the CBX facility is impressive Even the architecture of the CBX facility is impressive

Compare this to another experience when our family flew to Cancun, Mexico out of San Diego airport last year. We had to check in at San Diego Airport, show passports and fill out immigration forms, fly to Dallas, connect to a different flight, and eventually arrive in Cancun. We went through customs in Cancun, which took forever due to the crowds of visitors coming from all over. The amount of time in lines was staggering.

With the CBX experience, we cleared customs and immigration within the bridge connection before entering the Tijuana airport, and sailed through check-in, security and lines throughout our Aeromexico flights deeper into Mexico.

I highly recommend this travel option – we will definitely do it again!

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Quick Antidote for Queasy Travel Stomach

Quick Antidote for Queasy Travel Stomach

Whether you feel a little motion sick from a rocky boat ride, or perhaps ate something that didn’t agree with you, here’s a quick antidote for queasy travel stomach that worked for me on our recent visit in Mexico:

Plain seltzer water

Juice of two fresh limes

Cold ice made from bottled water

Salted rim

A local recommended this concoction, and it worked like a charm – I was up and active in no time. You may not need it, but just in case you do….